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sorrow and joy, e.g. into melancholy. In softer natures this trans-
formation is more easily effected than in the more passionate.
Homer describes Andromache as "laughing amid her tears"
{baKpvoev yeXdcaaa), as Hector hands her their little son, that he
himself may hasten to the battle.

Sibbern has with justice therefore drawn a distinction between a
mixture, or an alternation, of different or even conflicting states of
feeling, and mixed feelings in the proper sense. In a mixed feeling,
the difference of the constituents is no longer observed, since they
go to make up one single total feeling—" as when fear is combated
by boldness with respect to what is feared, or when in battle and
great efi"orts the force is felt to be inflamed or helped on by the
very checks and difficulties. Under this head may be brought a
certain satisfaction in life, even blissfulness, by virtue of sorrow or
some other effect of adversity being overcome and trampled on."^

Such mixed feelings comprise elements which, if appearing
separately, would bear a character different from the total feeling

1 IlamUt, Act i., Sc. 2 :—

'■ with a defeated joy, —
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye,
With mirth and funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale, weighing delight and dole."

2 Piychotos'ie, Copenhagen, 1856, p. 380.



Vi] THE rsVCHOLOGV OF FEELING 239

which they help to form. Melancholy, e.g., may often have a
pleasing character, but the feeling attendant on loss and misfortune
is in itself a feeling of pain, unless neutralized, or rather overcome,
by other elements of feeling. Conversely, there may be an element
in sorrow or pain that would in itself be pleasurable, e.g. the feeling
resulting from the memory-image of what is lost. Here, then,
are instances of psvchical chemistry in the province of feeling

3. We have analyzed some of the simplest forms of feelmg m
order to discover the relation between the feeling-elements and the
ideas combined with them. We will now see what this analysis
teaches us as to the law of the evolution of feelings.

In the earlier psychology appears the tendency to regard cog-
nition as the principal thing and as what properly constitutes
consciousness. For Plato the inimortal part of the soul was one
with thought or reason ; he conceived the feelings of pleasure and
pain to arise, like sensations, only from the confinement of the soul
in a material body. In modern idealistic philosophy a similar
point of view may be traced. Kant and William Hamilton could,
e.g., conceive spiritual beings possessing reason without feeling or
will, but not conversely. For them the essence of consciousness
coincided with cognition. " Consciousness is a knowledge," says
Hamilton.

There was consequently a disposition to apply to feelings,
without further preliminaries, the laws found for the evolution of
ideas. This was especially the case with the laws of the associa-
tion of ideas. The natural growth of the life of thought rests on
these laws ; but do they also hold good as between the feelings ?
Some psychologists (among the earlier, e.g., Spinoza, Eih., iii.
14) hold that they do, and believe that feelings, which have
once arisen together, will afterwards reproduce one another.
But it is a great question, whether a feeling possesses in itself the
power of producing another, however close the relation and the
similarity.

The question is : Can the feeling-clement in a mental state
attract the feeling-element in another mental state, or is the
transition always effected through association of cognitive ele-
ments ?

(i) A state of consciousness {A) consists of a feeling-element
(a) combined with a cognitive element {a). Now supposing there
are other, related cognitive elements {<.u, a^, ^4, etc.) which A



240 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vi

has the tendency to excite, some of these will succeed in form-
ing an association with a, and through a with a, so that while

was previously determined only by a, it will now be deter-
mined by a -f- ^2 + ^3 + <^4- The frame of mind will be modified,
the state A will become A^. This affords no absolutely new
kind of feeling, but the given feeling spreads over a greater
part of the conscious content. The feeling of pleasure in an object
will be extended to that which has more or less similarity with the
object. Compassion sometimes arises in this way, the idea of the
suftering condition of another exciting pain through the memory
of ourselves in a similar condition.

(2) The original feeling sustains a greater alteration, when the
fresh cognitive element is combined with the earlier, not through
immediate association by similarity, but through association by
contiguity, li A = a -\- a, and a is closely linked with b, then A
becomes A^, that is to say, the feeling remains the same in kind
but is rendered more special. If e.g. a certain quality {a) is of
great value in my eyes, and I discover or think I discover that

1 {b) have it myself, my admiration {A) becomes pride (^b.)

(3) If finally the new idea {b) is itself accompanied by a
feeling (jS) — that which it would have excited had it been pre-
sented by itself — a new kind of feeling {B) arises. Instead of
A = a-\- a we have B = a + {a -]- b) -}- (^ : that is to say a and (3
are combined through a -\- b. This is the schema for the evolution
of hope, fear, melancholy, and similar compound or mixed feelings.

There cannot of course be any sharp line drawn between these
three cases, since even a.^ and a-^, etc., as well as b, must give rise to
new shades of feeling, which fuse with the feeling already given.

The combination of ideas seems therefore to be the channel
through which the feelings mingle with one another. It is through
the relation of thoughts to new thoughts that feelings pass into
new feelings. Since, however, the movement of feeling is slower than
that of the thoughts, it is not surprising that intellectual progress
is as a rule in advance of the development of feeling. Thought
is the most versatile part of our nature ; feeling forms the
basis, to which results are only gradually transmitted from
the more versatile surface. It is consequently vain to expect
that enlightenment and instruction will yield sudden and quick
results. Every idea has, indeed, its special feeling, but this
always breaks its force on the feeling previously prevailing, and
its effect is determined through the latter. Since feeling is so



Vi] THE PSVCIIOLOGV OF FllELIXG 241

deeply and securely rooted in consciousness, all far-reaching
mental development requires time, and the course and rate of
development arc conditioned not only by the laws of the flow of
ideas but also by the special laws of the life of feeling {cf. section E.)
On the other hand, that which has taken root in feeling is the
better retained. In the decay of conscious life (without actual
mental disease) the intellectual powers are lost sooner than the
habits of feeling ; in the race, too, these latter persist longer, because
they are more frequently transmitted than intellectual bents.

4 If this view ^ is correct, it must find corroboration in the way
in which the feelings are reproduced in memory ; for the laws of
the association of ideas are the laws of memory. Now it is at
once evident, that it is easier to recall ideas than the feelings which
accompanied them. We can recall images and situations from the
past, but only most imperfectly the moods which animated us.- —
The more gradations, the more definitely stamped features and
relations, a mental state exhibits, the better can it be recalled in
memory. But gradations and relations presuppose comparison,
and belong to the sphere of cognition. The smaller the part which
the cognitive elements play in a state, the more imperfectly can
the state be remembered. Thus we more easily recall the alterna-
tion and succession of feelings, than the several feelings by them-
selves. It is in this respect with feelings, as sometimes with
immediate sensations (p. 150) ; we can remember the fact that we
have had them, without being able actually to recall them. It is
due to special circumstances when the state of feeling is reproduced.
Feelings are remembered by means of the ideas with which they
were originally linked, and in conjunction with which they com-
posed a certain conscious state {cf. the law of totality, p. 159).
Only when we are absolutely absorbed, buried, in memories,
can feeling be awakened. This is a simple consequence of
the slower movement of feeling ; the thought returns in an instant.

1 It has been already suggested by Hume {Tn-ntisc it'., i, 5, 8), more definitely by
B.iiii (^Emotions and Willy i., 5), and by Kirchmaii (hrliiiitemngen zit A'a/ils .hi thro-
/olc'x'ie V Illustrations to Kant's Anthropology "J, p. 477).

■■' Longfellow has expressed this in the following beautiful lines : —

" Alas, our memories may retrace

Each circumstance of time and place,
Season and scene come back ag.iin,
And outward things unchanged remain ;
The rest we cannot reinstate ;
Ourselves we cannot re-create,
Nor set our souls to the same key
Of the remembered melody."

(jriie Golden Lfgend.')



242 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vi

but it takes time for the feeling to unfold.^ A hindrance will
always be given in the feeling that prevails at the moment
{cf. V. B., jc) ; in any case this more or less modifies the earlier
feeling, and a new feeling will arise, which will be the result of
both (according to the schema a -{■ {a -{■ b) + /3). This is the
source of many illusions which we entertain as to the past.

The feelings which are linked with the senses of sight and
hearing, and with free ideation and activity of thought, are more
easily reproduced than those which we owe to the lower senses and
especially than those which arise from the exercise of vegetative
functions. They are consequently more freely at our disposal,
and less easily cut off by external hindrances, a fact which is of
the more importance since to this class belong the iesthetic,
intellectual, moral, and religious feelings.



C. — Egoistic and Sympathetic Feeling.

I. So far feeling in general has been spoken of, and it has been
seen how the primitive feeling of pleasure and pain comes to
be developed by being directed, through ideas which fuse with it,
to definite objects. The further development of feeling receives
its decisive stamp according as regard to the individual self or to
something beyond the individual affords the centre of gravity of
the feeling.

At first this contrast, which when fully developed becomes the
contrast between egoism and altruism (sympathy), cannot appear.
In the dawn of conscious life, ideas are but little clear and definite,
and the idea of self cannot therefore be contrasted with the idea of
something outside the self, or of a different self So that it is
psychologically without meaning, to speak of a native egoism, if
by egoism is understood the conscious setting of the weal and

1 In individual cases, which are almost pathological, the fresh feeling that accompanies
the remembrance may be the very- same as in the original experience. Littre mentions
a striking example of such "automnesie affective " from his own experience. At the age
of ten he had lost a little sister under specially sad circumstances, and _had felt groat
sorrow about it. " Mais le chagrin d'un garcjon ne dure pas beaucoup." He always,
however, preserved a lively remembrance of the event, though the freshness of the pain
had gone. Then in old age he felt again suddenly, without any special occasion,
the same pain. "Tout &. coup, sans que je ne le voulusse ni le cherchasse, par un
phenomene d'automnesie affective, ce meme ^venement s'est reproduit ^avec une peine
presente non moindre, certes, que celle que j'eprouvais au moment meme, et qui alia
jusqu'k mouiller mes yeux de larmes." This was frequently repeated in the course of
several days, after which it ceased and gave place to the customary remembrance (Rei'uc
Philos. 1877, p. 660, seq.").



VI] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FEELING 243

woe of others below our own. It would be just as correct to speak
of native effrontery, because a child knows at first neither bashful-
ness nor shame.

From the beginning, then, according to the conditions of life, the
pleasure or the pain felt must almost wholly depend on what
favours the preservation and the development of our own being.
Even the involuntary movements which do not involve any clear
and distinct consciousness, are more or less directed to such an
end. There is manifested in these an instinct of self-preservation,
which is, however, (in man especially) far from perfect. In the
involuntary movements of sucking, and in the disposition to put
everything grasped into the mouth, may be recognized a tendency
to refer everything to self as the centre ; this centre is not, however,
the object of any idea. When ideas arise of that which excites
pleasure or pain, the instinct of self-preservation stirs as love or
abhorrence, and assumes the character of an impulse {cf. IV. 4
and VI. Z)\ 26-.).

When now the feeling is determined by the idea of what
promotes or hinders self-assertion (self-preservation and self-
development), it will appear as a feeling either of power or
of powerlessfiess, according as we think we have or have not
at our disposal sufficient means of self-assertion. Under self-
assertion must be included here, not merely the maintenance of
physical existence, but also the power of mental clearness and
freedom, and of " making oneself felt " in relation to others (by
controlling them, being recognized by them, etc.). That the feeling
of power is the active or positive form of the feelings linked with
self-assertion, is due to the fact that the idea of the cause of a
feeling of pleasure (or of the hindrance to a feeling of pain) can
excite pleasure only when we conceive this cause (or this hindrance)
to be within our reach. " All conception of the future," says
Hobbes,^ " is conception of power able to produce something.
Whoever therefore expecteth pleasure to come, must conceive
withal some power in himself by which the same may be at-
tained."

The feeling of power recalls the feeling of eftbrt, which accom-
panies the immediate sensation of organic vital energy (VI. A. 3(?) ;
what this (and its opposite) is among the elementary feelings,
accompanying sensations, the feeling of power (and its opposite) is
among the ideal feelings, accompanying ideas. Often the feeling of

1 Iliiinan Xatiite, viii. 3.

R ?.



244 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vi

power is a simple prolongation or extension of the feeling of
effort ; it may, however, arise without finding any actual basis in
the latter.

The feeling of powerlessness appears in humility, in repentance,
or in self-contempt, which ha\e their rise in the failure to obtain the
control over the conditions of life which is recognized as desirable.

In calling the feelings above-named egoistic^ we pronounce no
moral judgment. To make such a judgment is not the business
of psychology. All that is implied is, that they are linked with the
individual self, and with its desire to continue in existence, to
expand and to enjoy life. In the instinct of self preservation lies
a tendency to make the individual self the centre of existence, and
this tendency continues to take effect so long as no motive arises for
the recognition of other centres of pleasure and pain in the world
besides self.

2. How is it in general to be explained, that the individual may
feel pleasure or pain in something that is not a means to his own
existence ? — This question has seemed so difficult to answer, that
some have even denied the fact implied in the question. In this
case, sympathy is explained as disguised self-love. " Self-love,"
says Larochefoucauld, " never rests quietly outside the self, and
lingers with strange objects only as the bees with the flowers, in
order to draw from them what it requires." — Others have recog-
nized a pleasure and pain in objects for their own sake, but have
tried to explain the existence of such unselfish feelings according
to the general psychological laws. They even endeavour to
show, that a psychological bridge may be thrown between absolute
respect of self and absolute self-forgetfulness, between self-pre-
servation and self-sacrifice. The most interesting and original
expositions in this direction, are afforded by Spinoza and Hartley.
Later, James Mill and John Stuart IVIill have more fully developed
the same theory.

The laws of obliviscence previously mentioned (V. B. Zd) find
application here. An idea, which has occasioned the birth of
another idea, may itself disappear, and this other idea obtain effect
immediatefy and solely. An example often given is the independent
value attached to money, although this is only a means of procuring
certain commodities. For the miser, the intermediate link, without
which the value cannot be established, and by means of which it
originally arose, is wholly and completely forgotten. He loves the
money for the money's sake, even indeed denies himself entirely



VI] THE PSVCIIOLOGV OF FKELIXG 245

the things it can procure. The feeling has been transferred from
the end to the means, or rather it has made the means an end.
So, too, persons and things, which at first were objects of joy and
of love only because they caused pleasure, may become immediate
objects of this feeling. We love them for their own sakes, having
forgotten the original "reason why."' While here association by
contiguity preponderates, in other cases association by similarity
plays the chief part. This is so, when other persons have some-
thing more or less in common with ourselves, in nature, appear-
ance, circumstances, and interests. We are then accustomed not to
separate them from our own self; in everything which happens to
them, we involuntarily set ourselves in their place, suffer and feel
with them. Involuntarily the interest slides, by force of the law
of similarity, from ourselves to others. On the other hand, not
sympathy only, but also envy and ambition, may arise in this
way. These feelings too arise from realization of the feelings
of others.

■ Sympathy presupposes that the common interests have the
upperhand as against the conflicting interests ; it presupposes
further that these common interests can be more or less consci-
ously represented in thought. Narrow experience, narrow range
of intelligence and imagination consequently narrow also the
sympathies. History teaches, too, that sympathy is at first
developed in narrow spheres and afterwards extended to wider.
Each narrow sphere (family, rank, nation, sect) is in the position
of egoist in relation to the wider spheres. Finally, sympathy may
be extended to all living beings, to the whole of nature ; it then
acquires ultimately a religious character, becomes what Spinoza
has called " the intellectual love of God."

This is a theory of evolution, since it lays down no absolute dis-
similarity between egoism and sympathy, but endeavours to ex-
plain them as feelings evolved under different conditions from a
common source. It might be called the theory of individual
evolution, since it maintains the possibility that such evolution,

1 Paul Friedmann in his paper " The Genesis of Disinterested Benevolence" (.l/i> :/,
1887), lays stress on the fact, that by living together men confer benefits on each other
without expressly desiring it. The feeling of having in this way caused pleasure to
another, arouses an interest in him ; care is taken not to undo the benefit, because there
is a sense of power in helping others. The interest thus excited may come to embrace
the whole person, and its original occasion be forgotten. Aristotle had already said
something similar. " Benefactors seem to love those whom they have benefited, more
than these love the benefactors. . . We find the same in craftsmen ; for every craftsman
loves the work of his own hands more than it would love him, if it came to life.'"
Aristotle cjiuiains this by the fact that the action is a part or an expression of our being
Nicoiii. Ein., ix. 7.



246 OUTLINES OF rSYCHOLOGY [vi

even an evolution from absolute self-assertion to absolute self-
sacrifice, may take place in the lifetime of a single individual,
without presupposing any further conditions than those above-
mentioned. It certainly, however, over-estimates what can be
attained in the lifetime of a single individual. In the feelings, as
has been seen, it is a question of dealing with heavy masses ; when
once they have found their centre of gravity, they do not lightly
shift their position. It takes more experiences than a single
individual can have in his lifetime, to complete a metamorphosis
of this kind, forcibly and naturally as it may be described.

The theory presupposes, moreover, the possibility of receiving
help, or at any rate beneficial influence from others ; so that the
individual is not isolated, not from the first sharply separated from
other individuals. A society is presupposed, within which the
individual develops. The problem therefore is only thrust
farther back, and the question now is, whether a society, of such a
kind that this evolution would be possible in it, could con-
ceivably have arisen through the association of individuals, each
of whom began with an unlimited instinct of self-preservation.

In so far, finally, as the theory lays stress on the motive given in
the similarity of other individuals to the individual himself, it
presupposes an origijial impulse of imiiation or an instinct to feel
end to suffer with his like. This is so, e.g., with Spinoza, who
suggests a theory developed later by Adam Smith. A man who
sees another burning, involuntarily draws his hand close to his
body. The cheerful or sad aspect of another infects us at once
with the same emotion. Some even hold that this capacity of
being infected with the mood of others, is grounded in an innate
disposition. But in any case this capacity or this impulse requires
a special explanation.

This all points to the need of looking back beyond the individual
impulse of self-preservation, if we are to understand how the
individuals come to attach an independent value to something
which extends beyond themselves.

3. With the question of the origin of the individual the limits of
psychology are reached. Here, then, no attempt will be made to
solve this problem. It is, however, of interest to point out that
much, which cannot find a full explanation in the individual's
personal experiences, may become more intelligible when the
individual is looked at in his full nature, as proceeding from the
race. And as it may be with psychological individuality (the centre



VI] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FEELING 247

of pleasure and pain, of memory and sclf-consciousncss), so, too
physiology shows that the separation between individuals occurs,
gradually, and that the stage in which the maternal and the young
organism are independent of one another, must be preceded by a
stage in which they form a single vital whole, or a single organism.

Propagation stands to the race in the same relation as self-
preservation, nourishment and renewal to the individual organism.
The scale of living beings exhibits all possible forms of transition
between individual self-preservation and the creation of new
individuals out of the substance of the maternal organism. With
plants and the lower forms of animal life, single cells in any part
of the organism can at once lead an independent organic life
directly they are severed from the maternal organism. The higher
we ascend in the scale of existence, the more complex become
the conditions for such development of the life of the organism,
or continuation in new organisms. But the same fundamental
condition applies even to creatures which propagate by sperm and
ova, and where consequently the new organisms arise out of cells
obtained from two different organisms, germ- and sperm-cells having
been formed in the maternal and paternal organisms and certainly
at their cost. Thus, whatever the mode of propagation, the
organic individual spends the first portion of his life as a part
of another organism. According to the view now generally
accepted, the ovum is formed in the maternal organism even
before its own birth ; in the opinion of some even in its ovum.^
While, therefore, the origin of the individual is ultimately lost
in the distance, for physiology as for psychology, the important
conclusion is, nevertheless, reached, that it is to be looked for in



Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 27 of 41)