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the whole world green, yellow, etc. His remarks on the feeling-
tones of colour are even yet classical.-

In the influence exerted on feeling by liglit and darkness we are
reminded of the great contrasts in the vital feeling. It is certainly
necessary to look farther back than the visual sensations to under-
stand the great influence of light on all creatures that have sensuous
perception. The influence of light is, as already touched upon
(II. 3), a condition of the conversion of inorganic into organic
matter. Light is thus one of the most elementary conditions of
life. Plants turn to the light, and if light enters on more sides
than one, they turn to the side where it is strongest. Light pro-
motes metabolism in animals, more especially in the respiration ;
even creatures without eyes breathe more quickly in a bright than
in a dark atmosphere. That the influence of light upon the eye
should promote metabolism is explained by some as due to a
reflex action of the visual nerve upon the central organ of the
vaso-motor nerves.^ The satisfaction taken in light and the dislike

1 It has been told of .t .f//V/V«<'/FrcncIinian that : "11 prctendait que son ton de conversa-
tion avec M.idameetait change dcpuis (ju'elle avail ch.ango en cramoisic le meubic dc son
cabinet qui etait bleu." Goethe Farbcnlehre, § 762.

- Cf. also in respect of the influence of colours upon feeling : H. C. Orsted, To
CapiiUr a/ det Skjonnts Natiirliire (" Two Chapters from the .Study of the Beautiful "),
Copenhagen, 1845. — Fechner, Vorschule dcr yf^Mf/ZXr (" Studies Preparatory to X.S,-
thetics "), ii., p. 212, i<^y. — Lehmann, Farterties EUmcntdre Astitik (" The Elementary
jEsthetics of Colours "), Copenhagen, 1884. — In Nahlowsky and Wundt also good
observations are to be found.

3 Cf. F. Papillon, La Luinierc et la Vie (in the work La Nature el la Vie, Paris,
1874). — Landois, Pltysiolo^ie des Menschett, 2 Aufl., p. 24^. — Panum, Xer^'efdvets
Fysiologi (" Vhys'ioXo^y of the Nerve-Tissues"), p. 160.


of darkness therefore constitute even a part of the general vital
feeling, and the way in which at all stages of civilization men have
associated light and life, darkness and death, testifies to a profound
and constant experience. Other experiences besides the immediate
general sensations have undoubtedly helped in this : light brings
with it security, while darkness favours foes and dangers. The
real basis, however, does not lie in these associations.

The pleasure in light has, however, yet another source, which is
not, like that just mentioned, immediately derived from the instinct
of self-preservation. The organ of sight, like every other, requires
activity, and its natural, normal functioning is accompanied by
pleasure, as appears to be the case with all normal functioning.
When even the eyes of the new-born infant turn to the light, this
is not wholly on account of the quickened process of metabolism,
but also on account of the impulse to natural function. Dislike of
darkness is therefore also the expression of an inhibited impulse to

Light does not, however, satisfy the eye. The visual organ
desires to be filled with colours. " Let it be remembered," says
Goethe, " how our spirits revive when on a dull day the sun shines
out over a single part of the landscape, and makes its colours
visible. The attribution of medicinal virtue to coloured precious
stones may have arisen out of the deep sense of this unspeak-
able delight." The effects of colour on feeling are in part de-
pendent on the degree of clearness — that is to say, the degree in
which colours approach to white ; in part on their '' saturation" —
that is to say, the degree in which colours approach the spectrum
shades ; in part therefore on the achromatic, in part on the chro-
matic element in sensation (see p. 104), The duration and the com-
pass of the excitation are also of importance ; thus pain results
from the too protracted or too extensive application of a stimulus,
which if less extended (either in time or space) would afford
pleasure. The greater the depth of colour, the smaller must be
the extension, if a feeling of pleasure is to arise.^

In respect of the influence of the different colours upon feeling,
Goethe had already demonstrated that colours may be divided
into two classes, which he called the positive and negative, but
xvb.ich with Fechncr we may perhaps rather call the active and
receptive colours. The active colours — namely, purple, red,

1 A. Lehmann, Fan'ernes cleincntdre Aistetik ("The Elementary i'Esthetic of
Colours"), pp. 78-82. Cf. also Fechner, Vprschnle ("Preparatory Studies"), ii.,
p. 213, scq.


orange, yellow— have a stimulating effect, excite activity and
movement. The receptive colours, among which may be reckoned
blues, are depressing and subduing, and do not conduce to
external activity. Yellow and dark blue serve as the typical
representatives of the two sets, and the difference between their
influence upon feeling strongly recalls the difference between the
influence of light and of darkness upon feeling. Goethe describes
the frame of mind induced by looking at a landscape on a dark
winter's day through yellow glass as follows : " The eye rejoices,
the heart expands, the mind is cheered ; an immediate warmth
seems to breathe in on us." And as yellow recalls light, so blue
recalls darkness. Goethe says : "As we sec the high heavens, the
distant mountains blue, a blue surface appears to recede before
us. . . . Blue gives a feeling of cold, as recalling shadows. . . .
Blue glass shows objects in a mournful light." The transition
between the two series is formed on one side (between yellow
and blue) by green, on the other (between blue and purple)
by violet. Green produces the impression of great repose, with-
out the cold of blue and without the strong excitement of red.
Violet may have more of the soberness of blue, or more of the
liveliness of red. Red is distinguished from yellow by greater
restlessness and force in its influence upon feeling. Goethe says of
a brightly illuminated landscape, looked at through purple glass :
" This must be the tone of colour which will encompass heaven
and earth on the day of judgment."

With diminished illumination the energy of the active series is
subdued ; with augmented illumination, all colours approximate
to white, and the effect on feeling sustains a corresponding

Answering to the contrast between light and darkness, there is
in the department of hearing the contrast between sound and
silence. Any sound naturally affords pleasure, merely because it
sets in action the organs of hearing. The deafening music of
children and savages gratifies nothing but this impulse in the
organ towards stronger function. The contrast between the high
and the low tones has been represented as corresponding to the
active and receptive series in the scale of colours. The one set has
a cheering and exciting effect ; the other is depressing, or produc-
tive of seriousness and longing. The timbre of different instru-
ments has, then, been arranged according to the same relation of
contrast. Here, again, cheerfulness or energy, seriousness or


quiescence, characterize the principal grades of the elementary

What applies to the quality of the sensations applies also to their
co7nposittoti and \\\€\x form. Even the way in which the separate
sounds and colours are combined may give rise to satisfaction or
dissatisfaction.^ Under this head comes the feeling of pleasure In
symmetry, in definite relations of form, also in rhythm and har-
mony. Even these feelings are more or less differentiated from
the general vital feeling. We will not go more closely into these
rather complex relations, since it is enough for our purpose to
describe the most elementary effects on feeling.

4. The feelings linked with immediate sensations form thus a
series of stages from the vital feeling up to the finely differen-
tiated shades of feeling accompanying the qualitative sensations
of the higher senses. This series of stages indicates the natural
course of development of the elementary feelings. Before the
definite appearance of special organs and functions, in the indi-
vidual as in the race, feeling can be only a chaotic mass, a summary
expression for the course of life. Its chief importance is in being
a motive for movement. It is, however, necessary for the actual
preservation of life, that the vital feeling should be differentiated,
should receive special forms. In order to maintain his own
existence, the individual must be able to feel the importance of the
existence of other things. But this presupposes the differentiation
of the special sense-organs.

As regards the general relation between feeling and sensation,
the result may now be laid down as follows. In respect of strength
they stand in inverse relation, so that the stronger the feeling-
element becomes, the more the properly sense-perceptive or cogni-
tive element disappears. The sense-impressions which excite the
strongest pleasure and pain teach us least as to external relations,
however great their practical importance as warnings or entice-
ments. In its most elementary forms, feeling is mainly determined
by the strength of the excitation, and by the degree in which it
affects the course of organic life. This is especially so with the

1 Cf. Nahlowsky, Das GefuhhUlen, p. 142, seq. ; Wundt, i., p. 471, scq. (3rd ed. i.
p. 521 seq.) As Panum has remarked, physical and physiological observation lead here
to different results. If the length of the wave and number of oscillations are considered,
red will correspond to a deep, violet to a high, tone ; but according to the physiological
excitation, red corresponds to a high, violet to a deep, tone (Sanserne og dc vilkarlige
Bevdgelser ("The Senses and the Voluntary Movements"), p. 198, seq.).

" Cf. as to the conditions of the aesthetic effect on colour combinations, A. Lehmann,
loc. cii., pp. 92-142.


excitations which set up instinctive movements ; their qualitative
character is tlirown into the shade by the stress of feeling and the
desire which they excite. But when the qualitative property of the
sensation is able to make itself felt, with a strength suited to the
sense-organ, the feeling answering to the sensation is differentiated
and specified. What it loses in force, it gains in richness and
varied gradation, as also in independence of the immediate struggle
for existence.

The sum of energy, which in the vital feeling is concentrated on
the one question " to be or not to be," on the organic weal and
woe, is in the qualitative feelings divided and made to flow in
different currents. Whether feeling actually gains or loses through
qualitative differentiation depends on whether or no there is a
corresponding growth in the total energy of the life of feeling.

B, — Feeling and Ideationjt

I. The feelings linked with immediate sensations acquire a special
character through the qualitative property of the sensations. Bare
oscillation between pleasure and pain is developed into a series of
states of feeling, each of which receives its individual impress
from being linked with a definite content of sensation. So that here
already the evolution of feeling through cognition may be spoken
of; for the sensations, in so far as we can distinguish them from
feelings of pleasure and pain, belong to the province of cognition.
The most emphatic relation between cognition and feeling is, how-
ever, reached only when we examine the intlucnce of ideas upon
the feelings. As already seen, pure sensation is an abstraction ;
with the impression of the moment there are always combined
more or fewer, stronger or Aveaker residua or reminiscences of
earlier sensations. The point at which the ideas and their com-
binations obtain an influence over feeling cannot therefore be far
from the beginning of conscious life, though this influence may not
be plainly apparent until a later stage.

Since we start with the assertion that the feeling of pleasure and
pain is present in the most primitive mental states, and is pre-
supposed before definite and clear sensation, we cannot avail
ourselves of the ordinary definition of feeling as the effect of sensa-
tions and ideas on consciousness. As primitive conscious element
feeling is already given, before sensation and idea can exercise any


influence whatsoever ; their influence develops and modifies only
what is already given. Nevertheless we rejected the view of
conscious life as wholly evolved out of states of pure feeling
(p. 96), partly because it was improbable that there could be
feeling absolutely without sensations (general and motor sensations
at any rate), partly because an intellectual element is already given
in the differences in strength of feelings and in the oscillation
between pleasure and pain. So that it is only an abstraction to
speak of pure feeling without any cognitive element. It is, how-
ever, allowable to employ such an abstraction as theoretical basis,
since, by representing the relations in a yet simpler form than
actual experience can afford, it facilitates the understanding of the
laws which come into operation.

2. A feeling of pleasure or pain naturally enters into an association
with the idea of that which played, or appeared to play, a part in
giving rise to the pleasurable or painful feeling, with consequently
its real or apparent cause. Previous to such association, feeling has
no direction or no object, is consequently not feeling about or for
something. The changes, which feeling sustains in consequence of
such association, we shall now consider in detail.

{a) Pain becomes, by association with the idea of its cause,
aversion (anger). The definite relation of the feeling to the object
is manifested by movements calculated to remove the object or to
move away from it. The earliest manifestations of this feeling have
been described by Darwin as follows. " It was," says Darwin
("Biographical Sketch of an Infant": Mind, 1877, p. 287, seq^),
"difficult to decide at how early an age anger was felt ; on his " {i.e.
the child described) "eighth day he frowned and wrinkled the skin
round his eyes before a crying fit, but this may have been due to
pain or distress, and not to anger. When about ten weeks old, he
was given some rather cold milk, and he kept a slight frown on his
forehead all the time he was sucking, so that he looked like a
grown-up person made cross from being compelled to do something
which he did not like. When nearly four months old, and perhaps
much earlier, there could be no doubt, from the manner in which
the blood gushed into his whole face and scalp, that he easily got
into a violent passion. A small cause sufficed ; thus, when a little
over seven months old, he screamed with rage because a lemon
slipped away and he could not seize it with his hands. When
eleven months old, if a wrong plaything was given him, he would
push it away and beat it ; I presume that the beating was an


instinctive sign of anger, like the snapping of the jaws by a young
crocodile just out of the egg, and not that he imagined he could
hurt the plaything. When two years and three months old, he
became a great adept at throwing books, or sticks, etc., at any one
who offended him."

Another child, who was perhaps less combative, turned his head
away and cried at the sight of a cup out of which nasty medicine
had once been given to him. In this case the feeling has a more
passive character, and approximates to sorrow. In sorrow the
feeling of pain is also determined by the idea of the cause, but the
cause is a loss or some other thing against which no reaction is
possible. Sorrow finds expression in a prevailingly passive and
sunken bearing. Sorrow has as a rule a contemplative character,
a strange desire being shown to retain and dwell on the object
which has excited it.

With further development, and presupposing the power of enter-
ing into the feeling of other individuals, aversion or anger leads to
pleasure in the personal cause of the pain having himself to suffer
pain, or to pain in his feeling pleasure (what Bain has relevantly
called malevolent sympathy). Hence arise hatred (desire of re-
venge) and e}ivy\ while mere aversion and anger in themselves only
urge the removal of the object from us or of us from the object.

{b) By a similar metamorphosis the feeling of pleasure becomes
delight and love. The idea of that which has an essential connec-
tion with the feeling of pleasure blends with it and gives it a cer-
tain direction. There arises an involuntary desire to retain and
protect that which excites pleasure. Delight is this desire regarded
from the passive, contemplative side, is pleasure in dwelling on the
object ; love denotes the active side, the impulse to an action
which shall make the object secure, or at any rate shall secure it
to us. At higher stages of development arises sympathetic love,
pleasure at the pleasure of others, together with pain at the pain
of others (compassion).

{/) From this exposition it appears that aversion and delight, anger
and love, cannot be separated from impulse or desire. All pleasure
or pain sets the organism more or less in movement. The form
and direction of this movement are determined by the original
structure of the organism. While it is often an ineffectual, if not
injurious, discharge of the energy roused to activity, it is in other
cases (in the so-called instinctive actions) a purposive approach
to, or withdrawal from, the object. An impulse arises, when this


involuntary introduction of a movement makes itself felt in con-
sciousness with a certain idea of the end to which it leads. When
the movement is executed easily and immediately, no impulse
arises ; the whole thing then takes place as simple reflex movement
beneath the threshold of consciousness. The movement must meet
with a certain resistance, which need not, however, be so strong as
actually to produce pain. In every impulse there is a certain dis-
quiet; but this is simply due to the fact that the impulse points
beyond the present and quiescent state, aiming either at retaining
the cause of pleasure or setting aside that of pain. The stronger
the resistance the more the disquiet passes into pain — in its simplest
form the pain of inhibited movement. To this is soon added pain
because the object of pleasure cannot be retained, or because means
cannot be procured for the removal of the cause of pain. In this
way the impulse comes to consist more and more in feelings of
pleasure and pain, and so gradually to be more definitely removed
both from simple reflex movements and from the instinctive actions
produced by immediate sensations. The impulse now receives a
richer ideational content, being combined with the thought of that
which hinders or promotes its object. The most natural distinction
to draw between impulse and desire is to regard desire as impulse
controlled by distinct ideas.— If its gratification is long delayed, or
absolutely refused, the impulse, if deeply rooted in the nature of the
individual, passes into strong pain.

(d) Impulse is originally sanguine expectation. An emerging
idea is not at first distinguished from an actual percept ; it is true
that the strength is as a rule different, but there is no innate know-
ledge of the meaning of this difference ; only experience, and that
means here the same thing as disappointment, emphasizes the
difference between the possible and the actual (c/. p. 129 seq., where
this relation is treated from the standpoint of the psychology of
cognition). If now the idea of disappointment produces effect
with greater or smaller force by the side of the idea of gratification,
so that the thoughts dwell now on the one, now on the other, hope
or fear arises. Let a denote a feeling of pain, a the idea of some-
thing which may remedy it ; or let a be a feeling of pleasure, and a
the idea of that which may retain and increase it. Farther, let
/j be an idea by which a is favoured, c another by which a is
destroyed. Both d and c stand then in connection with a, and are
called out by it according to the laws of the combination of ideas.
Two associations will llien be possible. So long as neither l? nor c


are given as actual experience, consciousness will pass now from
a to b, now from a to c. The question is, what influence is exercised
upon feeling by this alternation of ideas.

It was seen {A. 2) that feeling in general arises more slowly
than sensations. Observation will easily convince us ihdX feelings
also arise and bestir themselves more slowly than ideas. It takes
longer to convert joy into sorrow than to pass from the idea of
something joyful to the idea of something sorrowful. Even in
persons of a sanguine temperament, thoughts and fancies alter
with greater rapidity than the mood. If now consciousness passes
from one of the given points of view {ab) to another {ac), the idea c
will have the tendency to excite a new mood (7) ; but since the
mood (/3) excited by the first idea {i>) still endures, the two moods
will coincide and form a combination. It is like waves striking
upon the shore ; the advancing wave absorbs the receding one. In
this way a mixed mood arises : hope, when b^ has the upper hand ;
fear, when cy gains the upper hand. Both feelings presuppose a
certain play of possibilities.

The moods of hope and fear appear in innumerable gradations and
shades, according to the relation of the possibilities to one another.
The greater the possibility of attaining the end, the closer will hope
come to certain expeciaiion, where the mind rests in the idea of
the happy future without further disquiet than is inseparable from
the consciousness that the present must give way to a future, — the
smaller the possibility, the more nearly will fear approximate to
despair or resignation. If the chances are thought equal, and the
imagination is therefore attracted with equal force by either stream,
the mind feels itself divided. Two difterent moods strive to expand
in consciousness, but neither can gain the mastery. Hence arises
the mood of doubt, the chief characteristic of which is a painful
re<*tlessness, which may excite so strong a desire to come to a
decision that the nature of the decision seems indifferent if only the
pain of uncertainty be ended.^ Men plagued with sudden sugges-
tions or fixed ideas sometimes suffer under them somuch, that they
yield to incentives to murder or suicide, solely to obtain peace.-

(e) When two conflicting feelings press at once to the fore and

1 Othello (Act iii., Sc. 3) says to lago, after the latter luis excited his suspicion of
Desdemona's fidelity : —

" Thou hast set me on the rack ;
I swear, 'tis better to be much abused,
Than but to know't a little."
* C/. \Ae\cT, Bio^afihieen (7«J/'<'i,t>'a«Xrr (" lUographies of the Insane"), Berlin, 1S41,
p. 134; Maudsley, Aftntal Pathclog^y, j). 358 iV^r.


try to make themselves felt simultaneously with equal strength,
there arises the intolerable sense of division just mentioned. This
is, however, a rare case and of short duration. When Shakespeare
makes King Claudius describe his mood at his wedding with his
brother's widow as an equipoise of joy and sorrow,^ it is certainly
the intention of the great poet-psychologist to exhibit him as
a hypocrite, who betrays himself by the unnaturalness of the
condition which he attributes to himself. Where the one feeling
does not suppress the other or reduce it to a subordinate element,
they will succeed one another rhythmically. Plato describes as
follows the emotion of the disciples of Socrates during their last
interview with their master. He makes Pha^do say : " I found
myself in a truly extraordinary state, in an unaccustomed mixture
of delight (in the matter of his conversation) and of sorrow when
I reflected that he must soon die. And all present were in almost the
same frame of mind, now laughing and now crying." Such an
alternation is the natural state, when different motives take effect.
But this cannot long continue, for the mind seeks equilibrium, and
by means of memory converts the successive into the simultaneous ;
the two feelings are consequently blended into a new feeling,

Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 26 of 41)