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noted (pp. 50 ff.), a painful experience. But where there is no
preconceived notion, no expectation, there is no surprise, as Lumholtz
remarks of the Australian savages, that they are not surprised at the
railway and other wonders of civilization; they do not know enough to be
surprised. The full apprehension and understanding of the gap between
ideal and real is but very slowly attained. At first the thwarting is
naturally and easily attributed to an enemy, and there is anger and
pertinacious violence, but ultimately, by sad and repeated experience,
mind is led to notice its own insufficiency, to feel that the conflict
between the actual and the expected is due to subjective error rather
than objective interference. Genuine surprise, as distinct from mere
nervous shock, is then, I think, a later phenomenon than is generally
supposed. What is often taken for surprise with animals and children is
really eager attention. Again, certain modes of fright are often taken
for surprise. But experience must have made a considerable advance in
apprehension of experienceability before a real surprise can be
manifested, which is always the correlative of a sudden contrariness of
experience to what was preconceived. Surprise involves a certain measure
of a theory of experience; in short, a more or less definite body of
knowledge. One who has framed no ideas of what experience should be can
never be really surprised at whatever may happen. However, to be able to
feel surprise is obviously very advantageous, to have a painful and
sharp sense of the incongruity of real and ideal often conducts to that
investigation which results in being prepared against being surprised in
the same way again. The imperfectness of adaptation is thus consciously
and intelligently remedied. The man of large resources, cautious nature,
and keen insight and foresight, is little liable to be surprised, for in
all circumstances he accurately forecasts a very wide range of
possibilities.

When the good expected comes in less measure than was foreseen, or not
at all, or some real evil instead, there is not merely surprise, but
disappointment as well. When what is confidently expected does not
happen, the emotional reaction is surprise; when what is eagerly hoped
for does not occur, disappointment is the result. I am disappointed in
not receiving a certain remittance I had hoped for. Here the ought to
be, the expected, is ranged over against the actual not, as in surprise,
as a sudden and painful change in cognition, but solely for the personal
advantage missed. Disappointment is bound up with the sense of personal
loss and detriment from the happening contrary to expectation. Feeling
of disappointment is thus emotional reaction from cognizance of evil
result where good is looked for. The more it was hoped for, the more
bitter the disappointment. This disappointment has its function as an
emphatic protest against impracticality; the lessons of experience are
thus brought home and made memorable. Disappointment turns life from
false dreams to stern realities; it prompts to an investigation of
causes, and rouses cognition to a full understanding of the situation.
Hope thereby becomes more and more rational and realizable.

In all disappointment we note that the feeling is not about the past as
such, but is with reference to the immediately actual in its unexpected
bearing on life. Thus it is not strictly retrospective emotion. Though
often initial to regret and grief, it should not be confounded with
these.

A curiously illogical remark, and one not uncommonly heard, is, “I hope
you will succeed, but do not be disappointed if you don’t.” This is
really a psychological Hibernicism. Hope is the foundation of
disappointment, and one cannot say, “hope, but do not be disappointed,”
in the same breath with definite meaning. We cannot escape the painful
implications of unfulfilled desire: we cannot both have our cake and eat
it too. Some measure of expectation of success is implied in all
futuritive effort, hence a like measure of disappointment. The real
sense of any such admonition can only be for moderating desire, and so
tempering possible reaction. The expression in question amounts to
little else than a phrase of well-wishing, but with little confidence in
the actual result.

From the feeling of surprise and its congener, disappointment, it is
natural to turn to the feeling for novelty. Surprise and novelty both
relate, but in different ways, to the character of the experience in
relation to other experiences. The strangeness, however, in what is
surprising, and which makes it surprising, is not intrinsic, but wholly
relative to a preconception. Thunder is familiar to me, but it may
surprise me if it occur in January, and also totally out of my
preconceived order; but a friend who has neither heard, nor heard of,
thunder, will not be surprised by the sound in January, though he may be
startled, and may feel the novelty of the phenomenon. The novel, purely
as such, cannot surprise, for there is no field for the expectation
which is the foundation of surprise. The surprising is always contrary
to expectation, but the novel is simply unexpected, not in the range of
thought and conception in any manner. A novel experience is one which
has previously been unexperienced, and the feeling of novelty is the
feeling of it as such, while a surprising experience goes quite against
all we look for, and is often familiar and common enough, though
sometimes it is novel, as when the absolutely new experience and not
some familiar experience comes in place of the expected experience. If
the man to whom thunder is novel is awaiting merely the pattering of
rain, the crash of thunder will excite both feelings of surprise and
novelty. In this case he is surprised before he feels the novelty of the
surprising event.

A feeling for the novelty of an experience implies sense of experience
and experienceable, and is thus debarred from primitive consciousness,
which is merely a series of disconnected flashes, occurring a few times
at the critical moments in an organism’s life. It is probable that in
the origin of mind the first consciousness was the last, an entirely
unique and isolated phenomenon in the animal’s life, hence supremely
novel. However, at first, and undoubtedly also in later mind,
consciousness but slowly rises to the sense of novelty of consciousness
as such. After a long period of unconsciousness from any cause we do not
appreciate returning consciousness as _per se_ a comparatively novel
phenomenon. In early mind every experience is practically a new
experience, and so novel, but as there is no cognizance of experience in
any light, and least of all in this light which is rather remote from
immediate practicality, the feeling for novelty does not occur. Sense of
novelty implies a comparison of experience purely for its own sake,
certainly a very late acquirement. Thus in primitive mind, though all
experiences are uniformly fresh, yet they are not appreciated as such.
The feeling for novelty must always rest upon a considerable body of
experience unified by ego-sense and apprehended as such, that is,
consciousness of novelty implies both consciousness of consciousness and
self-consciousness. The consciousness of novelty is thus far from being
equivalent to novel consciousness. Whenever, even in advanced mind, a
novel consciousness occurs, we should be over hasty if we at once
concluded that feeling of novelty was also experienced.

The first step in life is to get an experience, to struggle into a
consciousness which may be immediately valuable, and which is at once
emotional and motor in its action; the second step is to compare and
identify the experience gained so as to ascertain its meaning for life
with greater certainty. Recognition thus comes early into play, but
while the sphere of the sense of the novel lies in that of the
unrecognised, it does not in any wise occupy the whole, for much that is
unrecognised still is far from conveying feeling of novelty, because
this feeling is, as we have said, far from being experienced on every
presentation of the novel. The novel is equivalent rather to the
unrecognisable. A dog may lose in a few months the power of recognising
its master, yet the master after such a lapse of time cannot be said to
awaken sense of novel. Though not recognised for master he is recognised
as one of many familiar objects, he is known to be a man, and that is as
far as the identification goes. The experience then is in reality not a
fresh one. Here is a new man but there is nothing novel in the
experience, much less is there a feeling of novelty. I doubt much if a
dog or any lower animal notices and appreciates pleasurably or painfully
the novel as such. The unrecognisable and unclassifiable presented to
them may agitate them in various ways, as contrast a horse and a
courageous dog on first seeing a locomotive, but there is no evidence of
real feeling of the novelty of the experience as such. The enjoyment of
the novel for its own sake is probably wholly confined to late human
psychism.

It must, indeed, be granted that change from monotonous or confining
circumstances is appreciated and appreciated pleasurably by lower
animals, though they may not know enough to seek change for its own
sake. Animals certainly suffer from _ennui_, and enjoy variety within
certain limits, but change is not newness, and absolute change or
novelty in strict sense hardly appeals to them, that is, they do not
appreciate the novelty of a situation. The really novel disturbs them,
they do not desire it nor are pleased with it. It is only in fact in the
higher ranges of human mind that experience of any kind, novel or
various, comes to be sought for its own sake. To say, “this is a novel
sensation,” or “how novel and delightful,” and all similar expressions,
denotes a frame of mind which is artificial, that is, lies away from and
beyond the common course of psychism under natural selection. The
changefulness of experience and the novelty of an experience are in
reality two distinct elements. One who has been ill in bed for weeks
enjoys the change in sitting up in his arm chair, but there is no real
novelty or sense of novelty. Everything, we say, is novel and
interesting to the child, tiresome and a bore to the blasé man of the
world. The world is, in truth, fresh and new to the child, but the sense
of the novel _per se_ is very slowly developed, and the rarer the novel
becomes, the more keen our appreciation of it. Where all is novel, there
can be no sense of novelty, for this is purely a contrast type of
psychosis. The zest and eagerness of the child proceeds from radically
other sentiments than the feeling for novelty; it is absorbed in things
for themselves and what they directly give, and does not stop to reflect
and feel about the relations of experiences, and so feel the novel as
such. Further we note that pleasing novelties are far from being equally
pleasing as such. It may be as novel to carry a potato in my pocket as a
double eagle, but not equally pleasing. The real value of novelty for
emotion must always be carefully determined by subtracting accessory
feelings.

With regard to the relation of novelty to pleasure and pain, the novel
and the sense of the novel is always in its inception under evolution by
natural selection unpleasant and painful. A novel experience is one
which can only originate in painful struggle, and the new is always _per
se_ distasteful to early mind, which is ever conservative in its
instincts and tendencies. A perfect life, biologically speaking, is one
which is perfectly adapted to its environment, and so goes through its
evolution with mechanically exact adjustment to circumstances; and the
novel would break in upon the unconscious rhythm which is here
perfected. Habituation becomes so iron fast that the novel, even when
distinctly pleasurable in itself, is resented, much less is the novel
sought for its own sake. However, so far as a novel experience may come
rather by way of regressiveness than progressiveness, it may delight us
by its novelty whenever the mind becomes capable of appreciating
novelty. Thus purely hereditary tendencies, which we do not accomplish
but which are accomplished in us during youth, as, for instance, the
sexual evolution, may charm, not only in themselves, but for their
novelty as well. But this experience which is not merely novel to the
individual as springing up spontaneously by _impetus_ from the past, but
which is novel for the race, and requires effort to assimilate, and so
is in the distinct line of higher evolution, as, the achieving a high
spiritual sentimentality in love; this, the real novel, is inevitably
and naturally painful. The first time the emotion of humility—a
comparatively recent evolution—was experienced by a human being was a
truly novel experience, though it is quite uncertain whether there was
with it either sense or sentiment of novelty.

If the novel and the novel experience—and these terms are practically
identical—are essentially painful, whence and how arises the peculiar
pleasure which we undeniably may experience in connection with the novel
appreciated as such? Must all such pleasure be placed to the account of
regressiveness? But pleasure of this kind is intrinsic in the act itself
and not for its novelty _per se_. There is a wide variety of experience
intrinsically either pleasurable or painful, which may be pleasurable to
us solely by reason of its novelty. I may enjoy the novel experience of
tasting a pomegranate, be the actual experience agreeable or
disagreeable, merely enjoying the novelty as such. What is this novelty,
why is it noticed, and why does it give occasion to pleasure or pain in
emotional form?

As we have already pointed out, the sense of the novel and emotion about
it cannot be said to arise with novel experiences in general. The novel
in the objective sense is the first occurrence of any given definite
kind of psychosis, as humility or pity, in the history of mind, and this
novelty is probably not at first appreciated.

Bain says that novelty is not an emotion, but “merely expresses the
superior force of all stimulants on being first applied.” But from the
point of view of psychic history the initial force of stimulants is
always very inferior and slight. For example, to taste and to
qualitatively distinguish tastes is an extremely slow growth in the
race, and by no means suddenly completed even in the offspring of the
most advanced individuals. Place a drop of wormwood extract on an
infant’s tongue and it may have a novel sensation and a disagreeable
one, as evidenced by the reaction, yet the real force of the sensation
is certainly quite inferior to that of a ten year old child in the given
case. The absolutely new impression is always slight, for mind is, in
the natural course of evolution, always slow at fully experiencing
things, it is by effort and by effort alone that it attains the several
orders of sensation and perception, and it is only by effort that they
are realized with greater and greater force and clearness. By the very
nature of psychic evolution as a progressive process toward helping
adjustability the novel exercises at the first but a slight reaction.
However, in the exigencies of existence the most wide awake, those most
susceptible to perceiving novelties and new circumstances and to being
suitably affected by them, have the advantage. Hence the apprehension,
interpretation, and application, of novelties is the path of progress
which finally culminates in the achievements of human invention. An
openness to the novel is thus of prime importance in a practical way,
though this is quite distinct from the pleasing sense of novelty.
However, the novel is not primarily attractive and interesting in and
for itself, but this must be accounted a late evolution in an artificial
period. The novel is at the first anything but charming. The absolutely
novel is never pleasant for its own sake.

It is only in a relative way that the objectively novel pleases, that
is, in the way of variety and change. Where overflowing mental energy by
reason of habituation finds no full and easy diverse activity the mind
is hampered and constrained. Thus youth in particular finds delight and
relief in new sights and sounds, in fresh experiences of all kinds.
Quickly wearied and exhausted in one channel and yet full of active
power, the mind springs rapidly from object to object along those lines
which ancestral experience has rendered the lines of least resistance,
thus especially in the plays and sports of childhood.

While the novel in this way as change pleases, yet there is no pleasing
sense of novelty. Sensations, sights, sounds, tastes, etc., please by
their novelty, there is a pleasure in the sensations not merely
intrinsic but relative to previous experiences, but the mind is not yet
capable of the emotion of novelty which belongs to reflective
consciousness. The child may be pleased by the novel, but is not
consciously charmed by the novelty. The sense of experience as novel,
and as such pleasing, belongs to a higher grade of consciousness than
the naïve direct consciousness of the child. Novelty consciously known,
appreciated, and sought for its own sake is a decidedly late evolution.
There is an emotion and emotion of pleasure which we may feel in view of
the novel _per se_. Not merely the new object becomes the stimulant of a
new and refreshing experience, but this experience being known as novel
by the reflecting consciousness, and contrasted with other experiences,
there comes therewith a peculiar ripple of pleasurable emotion, the
emotion of the novel. The first emotion of novelty is itself thereby a
novel consciousness which might be, to a very reflective self-conscious
mind, an object for another emotion of novelty. In touching upon the
emotion of novelty we have thus risen beyond the common course of
natural selection, to the point where experience values itself for its
own sake.

In contrast to the emotion of novelty is the emotion of familiarity.
This might be discussed in a strictly parallel way to our discussion of
the emotion of novelty. It is founded upon likeness, being the sentiment
of likeness. An absolute novelty, the perfectly new, is of course
imperceptible as such, and by the law of continuity cannot occur in
nature. Some correlation with past experience is required to make the
thing cognizable at all, as is also some measure of unlikeness to make
it distinguishable and so familiar. The emotion of familiarity is much
neglected by psychologists, yet it forms a more important and a larger
element in the pleasures of advanced mind than the emotion of novelty.
Many of the delights of home and domestic life are tinged by it. The
pleasing sense of familiarity is, of course, most felt in contrast after
some long experience of novelties, as when the traveller returns home
from a prolonged journey. Delight in the familiar for its own sake often
largely prompts to the revisiting old scenes and renewing old habits.
The emotions of novelty and familiarity have a constant contrasting play
in many men. The familiar which is painful in itself may yet, like the
novel painful in itself, be pleasurable. We often welcome the familiar
and novel purely for their own sake whatever be their actual
hedonalgic[C] content.

[Footnote C: This adjective, which I used before seeing Mr. Marshall’s
“algedonic,” more exactly expresses pleasure—pain quality.]

Noticed familiarity like novelty may be painful. The disgusting emotion
by which we may meet the unwelcome novelty, has its correlate in the
wearing sense of monotony from the regular return of the familiar even
though it be intrinsically pleasurable.

In the reflective emotions we have touched upon but a single group, the
novelty-familiarity, which is certainly a complex but interesting kind
of psychoses. In all this field we have rightly to separate mere
sensitiveness to likeness and unlikeness—a tolerably early
phenomenon—from sense of relatedness and unrelatedness of experiences in
and for themselves. Consciousness of experience as such is the mark of a
radically new type of consciousness, quite set off from the naïve
unreflecting consciousness under the primitive conditions of natural
selection and the struggle for existence. The significance of this, by
which experience rests purely upon itself and is for itself, leads into
a wide region. It is enough that we have instanced one of these later
emotions in contrast to the directly serviceable emotions which have
most concerned us in our present discussions, without inquiring closely
into its function. It is evident that in the ordinary course of
evolution the character of the situation as affecting life determines
the serviceable emotion, thus different kinds of harmful situations
determine fear, anger, hate, etc. If a situation is really interesting
for life, it ultimately will be both known and felt in the progress of
the struggle for existence just as surely as light, colour, sound, etc.,
are gradually appreciated. Hence we might predict that the novel
situation and the incongruous situation would receive some advantageous
cognitive and feeling response, and that even emotions of novelty,
familiarity, congruity, and incongruity, would arise, as well as the
feelings for these things, if this were useful; that is, experience may
ultimately consciously react upon itself in these ways as well as
directly sense mere objects. Now the pleasure in novelty for its own
sake, while not consciously in the region of natural selection, yet
indirectly may be favoured by it as propædeutic to progressiveness. It
would, indeed, from one standpoint seem possible to deduce according to
the law of serviceability the whole course of experience past, present
and future, and we might as assuredly predict particular feelings as we
may predict the evolution of the wing or the hoof or the four-ventricled
heart in the course of a physical biologic evolution. The psychic
biologic evolution is to a certain point as strictly interpretable by
the principle of advantageous natural selection as the physical, for the
two are really co-ordinated. In the near future of psychology every
psychosis in its origin and development will be as clearly traceable as
any purely physiological organ, though this can never be accomplished in
the purely objective manner, but will require a subjective manipulation
which is now quite beyond us.




CHAPTER XII
_RETROSPECTIVE EMOTION_


Brown divided emotions into retrospective and prospective, but such a
classification has no basis in a general biological view nor yet in a
special analysis of the particular phenomena. It is evident that the two
great classes of emotion from the point of view of struggle for
existence will be response to injurer and to benefactor. These are the
two prime qualities in things for which emotional notice is most needed
as a service to life, and hence the broad and fundamental division of
emotion must always be into that which is response to the harmful and
that which is response to the beneficial. Here only is the great and
constant distinction in the nature of emotions. Prospect and retrospect
are equally meaningless in themselves considered. From a merely _a
priori_ biologic point of view we must, then, pronounce it quite
unlikely that the time-sense should fundamentally differentiate emotion,
but we should expect that the prime division would be with respect to
cognised injury or benefit.

That time-sense is not a grand principle of division we also see plainly
when we examine particular emotions. Thus, in the case of anger, while
we can say at once that this is, in all its forms, repulse to injury,
can we claim it is either prospective or retrospective emotion? The
truth is, the thought of injury done, doing, or to be done, equally
wakens anger in choleric individuals. The man who harmed me yesterday
excites my anger, and so does the man whom I perceive to be now injuring
me or about to injure me. The quality of the emotion is identically the
same whether the object be considered as in past, present, or future.
Even what seems to be a purely temporal emotion, like hope, which is
usually regarded as wholly prospective, may yet have other temporal
aspects. Thus, we sometimes say, “I hope it was not so,” where hope is
obviously retrospective, or more strictly prospective-retrospective,



Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 14 of 32)