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the psychological relation between feeling and cognition remains,
however, the same from the lowest up to the highest stage.

The concept of necessity is originally practical : thought seeks
only the conditions without which the aims of man cannot be
realized. Hence thought acquires from the first a negative
character in contrast to feeling ; feeling is sanguine and impatient,
and would prefer to go straight to its aim ; only unwillingly does
it make way for a consideration as to the means, without which
the aim cannot be attained.

The definite, inevitable connection between means and end,
bidding defiance to the strongest emotion ; the fact that if a is
desired, b must be had also — first brings man into collision with
necessity. After the repetition of such experiences, thought at
length draws the conclusion that such necessary connection is an
essential part of all given reality. It may then become an in-
dependent problem, the object of immediate interest, to explain
these necessary laws, and, forgetting self, to be absorbed in the
great system of phenomena. Then the relation between cause and
effect takes the place of the relation between means and end. The
history of the sciences shows a progressive passage from teleology
to mechanism — under the constant protest and opposition of feeling.
Even if science explained the whole universe according to its
laws, it would not be able to prevent feeling from postulating, as
a basis for this whole system of causes and effects, a highest
teleology, beyond our powers of conception. The final questions
with which views of life are concerned, the cjuestions of the value
and significance of reality and of life, are decided in the last resort
according to the dictates of feeling. This is clearly shown in the
present day by the great importance obtained by the opposition
between the optimistic and pessimistic views of life. In the last
resort, our own innermost nature and personal experience of life
decide the issue.

4. Just as a landscape looks different according to the light
falling on it, so the same things and events seem to us quite
different in our different moods. Here principally the vital feeling



VI] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FEELING 303

with its oscillations plays an important part. Lichtcnberg says :
* I have distinctly observed that I have often when lying down a
different opinion from what I have when standing ; especially if I
have eaten little and am tired." The feeling does not at once change
with the ideas, but extends to the new ideas, even Svhen these are
in no way connected with that which produced the feeling. Hence
a feeling is often strange and incomprehensible to ourselves,
especially when it owes its origin to internal organic states ; but in
most cases it exerts its influence upon the new ideational content
without our noticing it. If, after the idea a, associated with a
strong feeling a, we have from any cause (not merely from
association with a) the idea x; then a may also extend to x.
We owe much to this influence ; for by its means an augmentation
of mental life at one point may promote many mental activities.
Thus, e.g. music, wine, and quick bodily movement, may set in
movement the activity of thought. Under this head must also be
ranged many of the examples in Feilberg's work, 0»i Stihsi
Udbytte af Sjiilsevner (" On the Greatest Utilization of the Mental
Faculties"). He emphasizes with justice the way in which new
impressions and situations may excite a movement of the whole
consciousness, quite, apart from their content. " New situations
bring the mind into the state called by chemists the status nascendi,
which substances have at the moment of generation. As chemistry
teaches of substances, that in this state they have a special ten-
dency to enter into new combinations, so is it with the mind.
The state which is, as it were, wavering, is just set free from some
former thing, contains increased chances for the birth of new states
(has more possibilities)." — p. 30.

This phenomenon might be called the expansio7i of feeling. AH
strong feeling struggles for the sole control in the mind, and gives
a colour to all mental activities.^ This expansion is different from
the widening of feeling through association of ideas, previously
described (VL B. 3). Through expansion, the feeling spreads over
all ideas and sensations, even when they stand in no connection
whatever with those which were at first associated \\ ith the feeling.

1 This law had already been pointed out by Hume (/'rira/Ziir i, 3, 8), and plays an import-
ant part in his theory of knowledge. More recently Kenelce has developed the same law in
an interesting way {Fsychologisc/ie .'^kizzen (" Psychological Sketches"), i., p. 362, sei/.).
— C/. also Spencer, I'rinc. of Psych., %% 260-261. A good ex.imple may be found in
Goethe's Enter Epistel, (" The question seems to me serious and important ; but it tiiids
me at present in a clieerful mood. . . And to the happy the world seems happy also.") —
Cf. also Mdme. de Statil's observation (L'orinnc, i., i) : " (Juand on soulTre, on se persuade
aisi'nient que I'on est coupable, et les violents chagrins portent Is trouble jusijue dans la
conscience."



304 OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vi

In the one the effect proceeds from the idea, in the other from
the feehng itself. The same law, by virtue of which feeling ob-
tains external expression, operates here. There is, so to speak, a
mental as well as a bodily mimicry ; the one is the influence of
feeling upon ideas, the other its effect upon muscular movements.
— What follows is a description of certain cases, in which the
expansion of feeling operates in conjunction with the inhibitive and
selective influence of feeling.

(a) The anticipating and actualizing effect of feeling. During
strong mental tension there is a disposition to take expected
impressions as given before they really occur. If, eg., we im-
patiently expect a carriage, we think every instant that we hear
a rumbling. — Experiments made in respect of physiological time,
afford good instances of this. If, e.g.., a. certain excitation is to be
responded to, the attention may be so on the stretch that response
is made to a different excitation instead of to the one expected,
not by mistake, but because in a state of strong tension any
excitation whatsoever leads to the action which is on the point
of being made. Or the signal is thought to be heard before it
is really given. — A great number of the so-called mesmeric or
spiritualistic phenomena may be explained through the strained
expectation which the experimenter excites in the persons on
whom he operates.'' — Because the difference between memory
images or imaginations and real percepts is one of degree only
(V. B. 7 a; D. 1-2), it is easily obliterated when feeling is strongly
excited. Feeling thus actualizes the ideas, i.e. gives them a mark
of reality that does not properly belong to them. — Even in the
sphere of thought, feeling may have an anticipating effect, de-
ciding the question from its postulates, instead of going through
the tedious and reasoned line of argument. Contemplative zeal
sets forth the wished-for unity and harmony in a system of philo-
sophy, and often thinks a result has been thus attained.
• (d) The idealizing effect of feeling. It lies in the nature of
feeling not to inquire after distinctions, conditions, and limitations.
It is absolute in character and finds vent in superlatives (always,
never, only, etc.). Closer determination, the recognition of con-
ditions and limitations, is the business of cognition. When,
however, feeling incessantly permeates the thoughts, and is never
quite satisfied with thfeir content, it impels them ever farther,

1 A full inquiry into the influence of " expectant attention" in phenomena of this Icind
is given in Carpenter's Mental Physiology, p. 279, seq., 618, seq.



VI] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FEELING 305

even at length beyond the limits of cognition. This pressure
feeling exerts through the concentration already mentioned upon
one single thought, which is thus set free from its connection
with other thoughts and from its limitation by them. Practical and
ethical interests especially act in this way. Feeling leads in
consequence to the formation of an ideal world, from which the
imperfections and sufferings of the actual world are far removed.
The idealizing speculation which springs from this source, has its
own importance.

(c) The inciti)ti^ and animating injltience of feeling. Through
its very obscurity and incxpHcability, feeling exercises great in-
fluence upon cognition. The various stones in the structure of
cognition may as a rule be easily pointed out. But feeling has
its source in the natural instincts, and we know only a small part
of its course. The quiet power of the conditions of life, the effect
of which appears only after a long time, is of more significance
than the individual experiences, clearly apparent and established.
But whatever the way in which feeling has arisen, it desires not
only to expand and to dominate everything, but also to be itself
explained and justified. This need of an explanation stands in
connection with man's instinct of self-preservation. In pleasure
and pain he experiences the action of the world on his vital
process ; these are signs which he must interpret, and of which
he must trace the causes, if his life is to be preserved and
advanced. Also at higher stages of development the individual
finds his innermost nature expressed by feelings, and seeks in con-
sequence to find their justification. Feeling cannot, however, justify
itself; it is not in itself any source of knowledge. So soon as
appeal is made to feeling, discussion is at an end. The conflict
between views of life must be carried on with clear thoughts.
Feeling plays an important part as an agent in starting and helping
forward ; it inquires and induces inquiry, but does not itself afford
any answer. — While, as purely individual and incommunicable,
feeling isolates individuals, it also from its need of explanation
and justification brings them together. Only in union can they find
full explanation. Thus feeling acts as a founder of societies, calls
into being communities, factions, schools, and scientific associations.

Examples illustrating the need of feeling for explanation and
justification may be taken from the effect of music and from the
usual course of mental diseases.

Feeling exercises an attractive power, not only over ideas of the

X



3o6 . OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vi

same kind as that which originally caused it, but also over other
ideas which excite similar feelings. By this means the feeling may
become a connecting link between ideas of different kinds. When
the man born blind, to whom was attempted an explanation of the
colour scarlet, exclaimed, " It must be something like the blast of
a trumpet," there arose through the description of the sensation of
a dazzling and strong colour the related idea of an aggressive
sound {cf. VI. A. 3 e). Wundt^ has called this phenomenon the
analogy of sensations. By virtue of it music calls up images and
ideas from other departments of sense. An analogy of sensations is
formed, ^.^., through the common element in feelings accompanying
free and easy respiration, the breaking forth of light after darkness,
and the sound of pure and clear tones after discord and confused
noise. The feeling excited by music finds involuntarily — though
perhaps chiefly in those who are not specially and technically
trained — a more or less clear symbolical expression by means of
analogous sensations. Events and experiences of our inner or of
external nature serve for the concrete depicting of the general mood.-
Alusicians warn against yielding to such a state of dreaming, lest
the specific effect of the music be lost ; but it is impossible to avoid
it entirely. Music owes its great power over men precisely to the
circumstance that the memories it excites are attached by in-
numerable threads to all the experiences of life, and may branch
out on all sides of our being.

According to a view chiefly developed by Guislain, all mental
disease consists in the first instance in a pathological disturbance
of feeling. Intellectual disturbances, together with the abnormal
expressions of the will, now violent, now whimsical, now con-
vulsive, would then be only the consequences of a primary
disturbance of the sensibility. " Mental disturbance," says Guislain,
" appears to me in most cases an oppression of the sensitive
faculties (une douleur du sens afiectif)." ^ A stadmm tnelancho-
Itctim is in most cases the first chapter in the history of in-
sanity. The intelligence is at first unimpaired.* But the patient

1 Physiol. Psycliologie, i., p. 486 (3rd eel. i. p. 530). Cf. Nahlowsky, Das Cefiihlsleben
(" The Life of Feeling"), p. 142, seq.

- Cf. wliat M. Goldschmidt relates of liimself {Ltis Erindringer og- Resultaier)
(" Memories and Results of Life "), i., p. 46. "As far back as I can remember, singing
did not affect me with a desire to join in, but was transformed into pictures."

S Cf. Griesinger, Die Fathologie nnd Therapie der Fsychischen Krankheiten (" The
Pathology and Therapeutics of Psychical Diseases"), (2nd edition, pp. 65, 214).-
Prichard, UberGeisteskrankheiten ("On Mental Diseases ").— See also above, V. B. 5.

■* Thus a patient said of his condition before the actual outbreak of the malady : " I was
then most heavy at heart, but clear in the head." (Krafft-Ebing, Die Melancholie.
nine Klinische Studie, Erlangen, 1874, p. 57.)



VI] THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FFJCLTNG 307

involuntarily searches for tlic cause of his painful feeling. Only
with great self-control can he keep hold of the conviction that the
cause lies simply and solely in his own pathological state. He
soon frames an explanation for himself He lays the blame on his
surroundings or on other innocent persons (especially such as have
something mysterious about them, as the secret police, the free-
masons, the Jesuits '). He believes himself persecuted, misjudged,
molested. Especially when these ideas are favoured by illusions
and hallucinations do they establish themselves firmly in the
consciousness of the patient.

These false ideas are an attempt to explain the new, changed,
and abnormal feelings. The individual is driven by his patho-
logical frame of mind out of the normal harmony with his
surroundings ; feeling is now determined purely from within,
and is no longer the subjective indicator of the position the man
holds in the universe. Even in a healthy state, feelings without an
objective motive may arise, but they then find an easy corrective ;
the disease consists precisely in the inability to correct and control
them. The altered feeling becomes now the basis of a new con-
ception of the universe, to which the patient yields himself more
and more, and in this way feeds his despondency.

Often in the midst of the greatest despondency there may be a
sudden change of gloom to liglit (see E. 2). Through a certain
instinct of self-preservation the mind finds compensation for what
it has lost, in an imaginary world. " Such a frame of mind," says
Ideler,- of a patient whose madness was caused by an unhappy
attachment, "can, when some collectiveness is again possible,
take only one of two courses : either the mind will sink into the
deepest melancholy, if the certainty of its loss overwhelms it ; or if
it does not lack the power of resistance, it will constrain itself to a
delusion which promises the fulfilment of its most ardent wishes.
.... Thenceforward the whole endeavour of the patient will be
to mould this phantasy ever more in accordance with the heart's
desire and with sophistical reasoning to set aside all con-
tradictions which it meets with in the real world."

1 Lichtenberg describes his state of hypochondria as follows: "I regard the whole
world as a machine, which exists in order to make me feel my suffering and my illne.s in
every possible way." I'ermischte Schriften (" Miscellaneous Writings"), i., p. 16.

- Biographimut Gcisteskranker, p. liJ.



X 2



VII

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE WILL

A. — The Origmali/y of the Will

1. As in Greek mythology Eros was made one of the oldest and
at the same time one of the youngest of the gods, so in psychology
the will may, according to the point of view, be represented as the
most primitive or as the most complex and derivative of mental
products. If a will is acknowledged only where there is conscious
choice between alternatives, then it presupposes a certain develop-
ment of cognition and feeling, and consequently cannot exist at
the lowest stage of consciousness. A choice implies a given
content that may be chosen ; and this content must grow up and
acquire a value in consciousness. This is true, too, of movements,
which are a condition of all externally directed action, on which
account a germ of will has been with justice attributed even to
those movements that take place before consciousness is roused.
To understand the nature of the will, it is necessary first to go back
to this primitive germ, and to trace the course of its development
from unconscious into conscious, though involuntary movement,
and from this again into movement consciously selected.

2. The simplest organisms possess the power of setting up
movements independently of external stimulus ; the source of
movement lies within the individual organism. Such an '■'' automatic"
or " spontaneous " movement is of course not causeless. It is in
fact brought about by internal changes, setting free accumulated
energy. Of this description are the movements the amceba makes
incessantly, which seem indeed to be a property of all organic cells,
eveu of those that are elements of higher organisms (as, for



VII] Tin: PSYCHOLOGY OF THE \VILL 309

example, the white blood-corpuscles). The amoeba derives its
name {dunidrf) from its perpetual and internally excited changes of
movement, while a constant change of form of this description
is thence in its turn called amrcbiean movement.' The internal
changes, which set free potential energy, must in their turn depend
on the function of nourishment, which is the fundamental organic
process. The spontaneous movement of living creatures is possible
only because life itself is an uninterrupted process of taking in and
using up certain constituents.

But a further consequence of this is, that spontaneity, the power
of self-movement, denotes only momentary— not complete and
continued— independence of external inlluences. Life depends on
a definite relation of reciprocity between the organism and its
environment, and would soon come to an end if this relation were
entirely suspended. — Absolute spontaneity would be a consumption
of one's own fot, which could support life only for a brief space.

Spontaneity is only quantitatively different from irritability, the
power of responding to external stimulation in a special manner,
that is to say by a movement differing in strength and possibly in
kind from the stimulus. Its independence becomes of value to
the organism only through this power, which makes adaptation to
circumstances possible. The ultimate explanation of irritability
also is to be looked for in organic process, and especially in the
great instability of organic matter. Thus there are infinitesimal
forces, producing the greatest effects on the retina and in the brain,
and occasioning muscular contractions or chemical processes within
the organ ism. -

3. In those higher organisms, too, which are endowed with a
central nervous system, a distinction between spontaneity and
irritability is justified. It does not seem possible to explain all the
movements of such organisms as reflex. There may be a discharge
of the energy accumulated in the central ganglia without any
excitation whatsoever of an afferent nerve. This is true in the
highest degree of those centres of respiration and circulation situ-
ated in the medulla oblongata. A change in the condition of the

1 Waldeyer, Uberdic Einfachstcn Lebensaiisscriingen der Oyganismen (Redebeider
Naturforscherversainmluiig in Hamburg, 1876) (" On tbe Simplest Manifestations of Life
in the Organism," Address before the Natural Science Association at Hamburg, 1876).
M. Foster, Textbook of Physiology, pp. 2, 74.— Panum, Nen'Ci'avets Fysiolos't {^' V\\yi\-
ology of the Nerve-tissue "), pp. 60-72.

■- Pfluger, Uberdic Physiologische V erbrennung in den l.ebenJigen Organismen ("On
Physiological Combustion in Living Organisms") {Archiv fiir Physiologie, vol. 10.
1875), 311.



3IO OUTLINES OF PSYCHOLOGY [vn

blood (through the accumulation of carbonic acid) here takes the
jilace of the external stimulus. The blood has at once both a
nourishing and a stimulating effect. The condition of the blood,
moreover, may directly affect the higher centres, whence arise
automatic or spontaneous ideas (dream-images, hallucinations) and
movements.

Bain ' maintains that the earliest movements are always of this
description, and that movement of this sort co-operates in all move-
ment whatever. His view is that the energy accumulated during a
process of nourishment seeks discharge and finds it along those
motor nerve-tracks which were previously prepared, the organism
thus setting itself in motion without waiting for an external
stimulus. Bain, whose view is an extension of suggestions made
by Job; Miiller, quotes in its support the first movements of the
fcetus, awaking from sleep happening without change in external
conditions, the strong impulse to movement in young animals and
children, the superior vivacity and pleasure in movement of men
and animals in the morning and when well nourished, and finally
the special energy possessed by men of what may be called a
"volitional constitution." Movement, then, precedes sensuous per-
ception, and is at first independent of outer stimuli. It is more
intimately and inseparably bound up with our nature than is
sensuous perception. Man is capable of extraordinary activity
quite independently of what he sees, hears, and thinks ; his per-
cepts and thoughts are important in determining the direction of
movement, but do not cause it to begin.— As Fichte taught, the
most original thing in us is the impulse to action ; it is given
before the consciousness of the actual world, and cannot be derived
from it.

Quite recently Preyer has declared in favour of Bain's view, as
follows : — " How, then, are the first movements in the embryo to be
accounted for ? That they do not result from passive contact, I
am convinced from special observations made on the chicken in
the egg — which moves, as I found, from the beginning of the fifth
day. Movements of the trunk take place first, then also of the
extremities and head, . . . without the smallest change in the sur-
roundings and long before reflex activity exists at all. . . . The
origin of these remarkable primitive movements of the trunk in
unborn animals must lie, then, within themselves and cannot be

1 The Senses and the Intellect, book i., chap. i. The Emotions and the Will, ii.,
chap. I.



VII] TIIK rsVCIloLOfJY 01'" THE WIl.l, jii

attributed to the reaction of the superficial parts on the central.
. . . The cerebrum has nothing to do with them, for the same
movements take place in brainless abortions and headless embryos.
The explanation must be that during the formation of the motor-
ganglia cells in the spinal cord, there accumulates a certain
cjuantity of potential energy, which may quite easily be turned into
kinetic energy by the current of blood or lymph, or even by the
swiftly advancing growth of tissue."^

The independence of sense-impressions, which these spontaneous
movements indicate, clearly cannot be absolute. Important as is
the possibility of setting up those activities of most moment in the
preservation of life without waiting for external stimulus, it is
equally important on the other hand that there should be the power
of accommodation to external relations. Important as it is that
from the first the organism should actively confront the external
world, it is equally important that its activity should admit of
determination by the nature of its surroundings. There may be
such accommodation and determination even before consciousness,
by means of reflex inovement {cf. II. \b.'). In this, movement is
not immediately brought about by the internal state, but by a
stimulus from the external world or from a part of the organism ; —



Online LibraryHarald HøffdingOutlines of psychology → online text (page 34 of 41)