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expression for the effort inspired by a dominant feeling, which
guides the artist in his work. With the way in which this feeling
develops, the psychology of cognition has nothing to do, any

1 Cf. the interesting remarks in John Stuart Mill's System of Logic, iii. 13, 6.



V] THK rSYCIIOLOGY <)V COGNITION 183

more than with the question as to what determines the value of the
work of art for the spectator.

In the selection of material and treatment, lies the idealistic
clement of all art, an element from which even so-called realism
can ciTiancipate itself only in a{)pcarance. This is the open side
of art, by which it is connected with the stirrings of mental
life in other provinces. But whatever deep movements may be
concerned, the question, from an artistic point of view, is as to the
results to which they lead. The poet may, e.g., be a thinker and a
scholar ; poetically, however, it is important that his work should
be something more than abstract thoughts translated into verse —
that image, feeling, and thought should really harmonize from first
to last. The idealism which seeks to individualize that which has
lost vital connection with the concrete individual reality, is
unpsychological. On the contrary, in that idealistic element
present in all artistic creation, there may be the germ of an
idealization of actual facts. Goethe was struck by Merck's descrip-
tion of his aim as contrasted with that of the brothers Stolberg.
" Your endeavour, your fixed aim, is to give poetic form to the
actual ; the others make the attempt to actualize the so-called
poetic, the imaginative, and that results only in absurdity." {Ann
uicintin Lcbcn, 18 Buch.) The poetic form may cast a light
on reality, which it does not naturally or always possess, and the
dominant feeling of the poet discovers an order of the universe,
in which his ideals find their satisfaction. In this way art seeks
to spin out the threads which may be already traced in nature ;
it becomes the ideal continuation of natural evolution. Thus,
e.g., the art of sculpture completes that subordination of the vegeta-
tive to the animal life, which a comparison of the higher with the
lower forms of organic life clearly exhibits.^ Through its very
idealism art is again related to nature ; for nature makes directly
or indirectly a selection (natural and sexual selection), by which
the transition from lower to higher forms is effected. A conception
of the artistic aim, which should narrow it to the construction
of a mosaic of the particular percepts of real things, would
be opposed to nature itself, for nature is incessantly engaged in
'' idealizing," inasmuch as in the struggle for existence forms and
characteristics are always becoming more strongly marked, in

1 J. C. Scliiodtc, Det Vegetative og det Animale i licn Dyriske og- Menneskelige
Fortn ("The Vegetative and the Animal Elements in the Structure of Animals and
Men"). Nordisk Tidsskri/t, udg a/ den Letterstedtsie J^orentngC Northern purioiii-
cal, published by the Lettcrstedt's Union"), 1S78, p. 345.



i84 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [v

close connection with the sphere within which the struggle is

carried on.

Lhipsychological realism gives fragments or patchcd-up images,
while nature itself is incessantly forming new individual types.
Uiipsychological idealism partly wastes its energy over the insoluble
problem of giving flesh and blood to abstractions, partly turns
effeminately away from the inharmonious and ugly in existence.
True art teaches us to use our eyes, but at the same time to fasten
on the broad suggestive features and so learn to understand reality
better.

C. — Apprehension of Time and Space.

I. It has been already implied in the provisional account
of conscious life, that mental phenomena make their appearance
in the/^rw of time. Change, transition, alternation— and inner
connection throughout all change— these were the most important
characteristics of consciousness. But in these the form of time
is already given. Psychology must therefore come to a pause
at this form, as something originally given, a psychological ultimate
presupposed in all conscious phenomena, which cannot be itself
made an object of explanation.

It is different when the question is of the idea of time, of
temporal relations. This idea has its psychological history like
every other. The mental states may continuously succeed one
another without an idea of this succession necessarily resulting.
The more nearly consciousness approximates to a series of different
■ and mutually independent sensations and ideas— which as already
shown is the same thing as an approximation to the dissolution
of consciousness— so much the smaller is the possibility of an idea
of time : the seconds change, but each second completely takes
possession of consciousness, without any energy remaining for that
which went before or will come after. Not only in its dissolution,
but also in its origin consciousness comes near to being a series
{cf. p. 138, j-^^.), and for this reason the idea of time is scarcely to
be traced in children before the third year. We have seen in an earlier
connection, how expectation and free memory arise, as special
states only gradually during the conflict of experiences with ex-
clusive sensation and with native sanguineness (/?. 4). We now
complete this account of the development of memory, adducing
an important feature in it, the reference, namely, of the content of
memorj- to definite points of time.



V] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COGNITION 185

The simplest form of consciousness would be one in which
two states {a and h) succeeded one another without inter-
mediate links. Now so long as a and b each independently
occupy consciousness, no idea of time can arise ; a is forgotten
when b appears, and vice versa. Something more is required which
shall so yoke together a and b, that the change from the one to the
other may appear as the different filling up of one and the same
schema. This common bond can be no other than a sensation or
a feeling, which remains constant while a and b alternate, and which
affords in consequence the relatively constant background, in con-
trast to which alternation, succession, may be plainly apparent.
In addition to the alternating a and b^ we must have then a third
relatively invariable element, .r, to make possible a contrast.
This recalls the fact, that the unity of the self, of consciousness,
is sustained not only by the formal connection and the formal
interaction between everything in consciousness, but also by a
ruling feeling {B. 5.) This fundamental feeling, which is in a great
measure, and as regards the lowest conscious life exclusively,
determined by the general or vital feelings, is thus a necessary
presupposition of the apprehension of time. The immediate
apprehension of the difference or contrast between what is constant
and what is variable is, however, only a sensation of time., and no
idea of time.

2. The apprehension of time becomes clearer when intermediate
links are inserted between a and /', so that in order to get from
a to b, the consciousness must pass through in and «, always with x
as the background for the whole series of changing states. It is,
however, essential that ;;/ and n should not be of so much
strength and interest as to cast a and b into the shade, but that
a and b should always remain the principal points. The recognition
of a and b as the starting and final points of a series of states or
elements must be added, if there is to be not only a sensation of
time, but a real consciousness of time, an idea of time. Let rt,
e.g.., be the sensation of hunger, /' the sensation of satisfaction,
while VI and // represent the means which lead from hunger to
satisfaction (the sight of the prey, securing it, etc.). There will
thus be formed a firni connection, a, m, n, b, and a rhythmical
alternation takes place which becomes gradually familiar to con-
sciousness and easily surveyed. Now the more numerous the
states become through a higher development, the more necessary it
is to have certain points which always recur as raised places in



i86 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [v

the succession, which may be recognized and from which the others
may be surveyed and measured.

The idea of time involves therefore two things : (i), the con-
scioiesness of change, of succession ; this arises through contrast
to a constant sensation : (2), repetition of certain states which
have a strong hold on consciousness ; the recognition of these
makes a certain measuring and grouping possible in the series of
changes.

It would not be possible, from a simple constant sensation or a
simple constant feeling, to have the idea of time. The more we
are absorbed in a single thought, the more we are " rapt," as it
were, out of time ; for which reason the mystics call eternity an
"enduring present." On the other hand, the idea of time could not
possibly be derived from mere succession of sensations ; something
would be needed that might lead to the surveying and measuring
of the succession.

The larger the number of rhythmical series, and the more practice
consciousness has in surveying them, the more clearly the idea of the
temporal series stands out with a certain contrast to the sensations
occupying the series. The space between a and b may be filled
up in different ways : «, ;;/, «, b, or /z, /^, q, b. What fills up
the space between a and b may reappear in a different setting :
rt, in, n, b, or c, ni, n, d. And the same number of particles
of time as are occupied by the series a, ni, «, b, may be occupied
under different circumstances by the series c,p, q, d, Gtc. Here
then are the conditions for the formation of a general idea of
time.

3. That general outline, or pattern, which we think of as filled
up in different ways, cannot in itself be pictured. It shares the
fate of all general ideas, and requires an individual representation.
But the time that we can immediately picture or bring together in
one moment is very short. It has been shown by experiments
(made by Vierordt), that we have a tendency to over-estimate the
duration of very small intervals of time, and to under-estimate the
duration of long intervals. More recently it has been shown that
the actual and the estimated difference of time coincide when the
interval is i"25, or i^ second. It has further been proved that
there are several of such "points of indifference," so that there
are various little sections of time, which we can employ as a
standard for the larger. Curiously enough, among longer periods
the uneven multiples of V2$ seconds seem to be the most accurately



v] THE rSYCIIOLOGY OF COflNITION 187

apprehended.' This bears out the effect attributed to the rhythmical
change of sensations: we employ a certain sliort rhythm in measur-
ing succession. Exact estimation and survey is not possible in
longer intervals, even though practice may sharpen the sense of
time in no small degree. Should the idea have as its content
a temporal series which extends far beyond the present instant,
this content is bound to undergo contraction. Willi perfect
clearness I can picture to myself only the transition from one
second to another ; the idea of portions of time which comprise
myriads of seconds, can be had only symbolically. If wc were
to remember past time as clearly as we picture the minutes that
form what we call the present, memory would become an im-
possibility. We always therefore apply in thought a standard of
measurement to the past, different from that applied to the present
and immediate future. It is only when we want to re-live the past,
that we try to renew the distinctions of time in our remembrance,
and even then never so fully as to give it the extension of the
present. It is with time as with the strength of sensations
(p. 146), both the duration and the strength of the original
experiences are only indirectly remembered. — It is due to this
symbolic character of the idea of time, when it has attained to
a certain development, that it is formed only relatively late, and
is so long confined within certain limits. It attains to full clear-
ness only when it becomes possible to represent it in a distinct
symbolic form, to secure the transitory ideational rhythm in an
image at rest. And this can only be when the apprehension of
space comes to its aid. Only in the form of space is an intuition
of time possible. We then apprehend time as a straight line,
indcfmitely extended in cither direction.

The idea of time is a typical individual idea. Wherever we ob-
serve time, we have before us portions of the same time. It is like
a river looked at from different aspects. Often it is hidden from
our view, as when we sleep, are unconscious, or from any other
reason do not know " how the time has gone." But as soon as the
attention is again awakened we reconstruct the lost course of time.
Thus time is not merely related to individual times as a general
concept to the individual cases included under it, but also as our

1 Glass : Kritisches und E.xpcriiiieittaUs iibcr den Zci/sinn (Wundt's rhiloicphische
Studitn, iv. p. 423, scq). — Earlier tre.itnient of the s.inie f|uestion is to be found also in
Wundt's Stitdien, i. p. 78, seq. aiulji. p. 576, stij. .'Vccording to the experiments of (!lass,
Fechner's law (("_/! p. no) also holds good for the estimation of time. IThe alteration
here of text and note is made at Prof HOffding's request. (Tr.)]



i88 OUTLINES OF TSYCHOLOGY [v

predominating idea of an individual to our several experiences of
that individual.

4. So long as the idea of time is grounded only on the change of
our inner states, the estimation of time is very uncertain. Two
circumstances are in this connection of especially great importance ;
the interest in the content of the experiences and the number of
traits experienced.

The interest in what is experienced may have very diverse in-
fluence. In concenti-ating the attention and so preventing con-
sciousness from noticing the succession, it shortens the time both
during the actual experience and in the remembrance. Seven
years passed for Jacob like a few days, because he loved Rachel.
But interest may also lengthen the time, since we involuntarily
argue from the importance and significance of the content that a
long time must have elapsed. We give symbolical expression to
the fulness of content by extension of time. It is connected
with this, that anything that precedes a very important crisis in
our life recedes in time : it appears to us so foreign and at the
same time so faded, that we can understand it to be a part of our
experience only by referring it to a remote date. We have a general
disposition to attribute faint memory-images to a more distant, and
lively remembrances to a more recent time, than properly belongs
to them.

The more varied the experience (apart from the question of in-
terest), the more quickly it seems to pass/ but the longer the
time seems in our memory.^ Conversely, the more monotonous
the experience, the more slowly the time passes, but the shorter it
seems in memory. — In dreams, or in states especially favourable to
the recall of the past in memory {cf. p. 149 seq.), it sometimes seems
as though a great space of time had elapsed, because a multitude
of images have been spread out before us. Persons who have been
in danger of death from drowning or other causes, have seen their
whole life pass before them in a few instants. De Quincey de-
scribes how, after taking opium, he often thought he had lived
eighty or a hundred years in a single night, sometimes indeed
it even seemed to him as though a thousand years had elapsed

1 It agrees with this, that when something is moved with uniform speed over the
surface of the skin, the movement seems to he quickest on those parts where the sense of
localization is finest.

^ This may perh.ips afford the answer to a question which was asked in tlie first
volume of the Ke7'iic I'hilosophiquc, why the content of a memory which is in its turn
remembered, is referred to a more distant time than a content remembered at first liand.
The first remembrance forms, in relation to the second, a station, an intermediate term,
which serves as a point of division and so makes the perspective plainer.



V THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COGNITION i8o

between the one clay and the next. Time sccmcil to him to swell.'
To the ecstatic seer, time and eternity are unrolled in vision,
although the vision is really over before the hour-glass is emptied.

Each individual brings his own scale of measurement, depending
in part on the more or less energetic interest with which he spends
his life and attends to the passing events, in part on the speed with
which his ideas are accustomed to move. A less interesting content
and a slower action than usual excite weariness and tedium. — The
sense of time affords also simple examples of the effect of contrast,
for it has been shown that an individual, if he has first tried to
calculate a short space of time and then tries a long one, will judge
this latter to be even longer than it really is ; and he will
judge a short one to be shorter than it is after previously appre-
hending a longer one. In this latter case the effect of contrast is
even stronger than in the former.-

The need of substituting an objective scale of measurement for
the subjective, the uncertainty of which must easily have been
noticeable, made itself early felt. The great, regularly recurring-
phenomena of nature afforded a good scheme of measurement.
The movements of the sun and of the moon, day and night, morn-
ing, noon and evening, served as a basis. For finer division the
sand of an hour-glass, the water of a klepsydra, or even a l)urning
candle were employed. But great precision became possible only
by means of the pendulum and the chronoscopc. Wheatstone
measured the rate of an electric spark, and found it to be
TT»'.2(5(} °^ '^ second. With Siemens's chronoscope it is possible
to calculate even looirocJo °f ^ second.^

We may think of this exactness as carried to even higher degrees.
A final point is not, however, conceivable. We measure time by
the help of uniform movements in nature. But this uniformity has
itself to be established, so that we move here in a circle. Absolute
time might be thought as realized in nature, so long as it was believed
with Aristotle that the heavenly bodies revolved with eternal immu-
tability and uniformity ; but, this belief once abandoned, the idea
of absolutely uniform time loses its basis in reality. This conse-
quence, the relativity of time, was perceived by Giordano Bruno.-*

1 Confessions of an opium Eater, \i. iCi.

- V. Estel, Ncue \'crsiiclic iiber iien /.eitsinn ("Recent Inquiries into the Sense of
Time.") (Wundt's ^S7 ;/<//<•«, ii. p. 55).

S Jevons, Frinciplfs of Science, 4th ed., p. 307, seq. — A. Paulsen, Naturkrafteme
(" Forces of Nature ") iii. p. 129.

■* Cf. Brunnhofer, Gioniaito Brunos Wcltaytscltattung (" Giordano Bruno's Conception
of the Universe,") Leipzig, 1882, p. 187, seq.



iQO OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [v

An absolutely uniform time is an ideal, requiring that every possible
estimation of time shall be subjected to a further correction. Every
standard which has been tried with a view to absolute uniformity, has
proved to be variable. Only in the symbolical representation of
time as a line is absolute uniformity to be found. But here idealizing
abstraction has put its hand to the work. The conception of abso-
lute time is a mathematical abstraction. Absolute time is quite
continuous and quite uniform ; its connection is never interrupted,
and each instant of it is exactly like every other. Psychological
time, i.e. the time which we can really apprehend and picture to
ourselves, has to be perpetually reconstructed, for we apprehend it
immediately only in fragments, and its seconds are of different
specific weight, according to the importance and variety of content.
Psychological time is always limited ; we always make a pause at
a certain point, when we look forwards or backwards. But we have
the consciousness that every limit is accidental and subjective, and
has its cause in fatigue of the imagination. Every beginning and
every end is only relative. Absolute time is unending, i.e. must be
conceived as continued beyond every limit.

5. That the form of time is present from the beginning of con-
sciousness cannot be called in question. The psychological ex-
amination of time has to do therefore only with the idea of time
and the estimation of time. On the other hand, it is a disputed
point whether even the/orm of space is original. That it cannot
at any rate stand in the same intimate relation to consciousness as
the form of time is evident from the general character of conscious-
ness. The states of consciousness succeed one another in time ;
but there is no sense in which they can be said to be extended in
space. What appears in the form of space can be only the object
of consciousness, not consciousness itself This at once implies
that the form of time is psychologically more original than the form
of space ; the latter does not seem to be absolutely necessary to
consciousness. The present question is, whether experience teaches
that in reality the form of space is a psychical product formed ac-
cording to general psychological laws. There would then be, or
have been, a stage in the development of consciousness when sen-
sations and ideas were only presented with a certain distinctness
and a certain quality, without having their content framed into
extended images.

It is difficult for us to conceive a consciousness without any
apprehension of space. We ourselves think constantly in images.



V] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COGNITION 191

We cannot clearly apprehend and express even our moods and
feelings without the help of intuitions and images. It might be
concluded from this that the form of space must be original ; it
might even seem as though the symbol was nearer to us than the
thing symbolized, and the intuition of space consequently more
original than the intuition of time. Albert Lange, an acute
thinker, did actually come to this conclusion. He says, " The em-
pirical perception of our inner states can certainly not be effectuated
in the mere form of time. We ha\'e always a number of simul-
taneous sensations, which can be brought into synthesis only in

the form of a spatial image All our empirical ideas of time

are associated with ideas of space. A line symbolizes the course
of time. Movements in space afford the means of measuring time.
Should it not be concluded that the idea of time is altogether
secondary to the idea of space?" {Logische Stitdieti, Iserlohn, 1877,
p. 139). — In answer to this it must first be observed that the idea
of space is not necessarily the more original because it is presup-
posed in the higher and clearer development of the idea and
measurement of time (see 3—4). Lange infers too much from the
necessity of a symlwlic representation. The thought must be
more original than the name, although the name is necessary to its
full clearness and precision. However closely the feeling may be
connected with its expression, it would be putting the cart before
the horse to conceive the former as secondary to the latter. Only
in the higher stages of the conscious life is there a wide field of
symbols at its service. It is only in two of our senses, sight and
touch, that the form of space plays an all-important part ; in hear-
ing, smell, and taste there is originally no localization ; in these we
have to do only with the distinctness and quality of the sensations.
The real definite intuition of space is, as will be seen in the
following section, linked with the visual sensations. The visual
images play so great a part in our ideational world that we can
with diftkulty abstract from them. The more we fix the attention
on sounds, on impressions of taste and smell, the more we ap-
proach to a consciousness endowed only with the form of time, and
begin to perceive the possibility of having in consciousness an
inner variety not united in the form of space.

This appears still more clearly in respect of states of feeling.
These are, indeed, for the most part accompanied by local sensations
{e.g., in the breast, in the heart) ; but it is easy by inner observa-
tion to distinguish between the actual feeling and its organic



192 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [v

consequences. Pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, hope and fear
may stir in us, without being at once symbohzed. Though we may



Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 21 of 41)