Hiram M. (Hiram Miner) Stanley.

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having reference to expectation with desire that the event will turn out
not to have happened.

But it may be said that, as emotion rests upon representation, the
proper classification of the emotions will depend upon the divisions of
representation which are essentially determined by the time-sense as
representation of past or future. Representation with sense of
representation implies a cognition of the thing as represented merely,
and so as non-existent to present actual sensing, as something having
been, or to be, sensed. The emotion arises thus on cognition of the
experienceable, and includes always some dim impression of potency of
object for harm or benefit at some time. However, though this may be the
case, it is plain that it makes no radical distinction in emotion. If a
man threatens me with some injury, this fires my rage, which is greatly
increased if I catch him in the act of committing the injury threatened,
or find that he has committed the evil deed. Change in time-sense may
thus bring change in intensity of some emotions, but it does not
determine quality of emotion. The prime factor as to kind of emotion is
always, not any sense of time, but the personal value of the event,
which may or may not receive a definite time determination. Indeed, a
form of representation, before any sense of experience as merely
subjective phenomenon is attained, is a prominent feature in the direct
naïve experience which constitutes by far the greater bulk in the total
existent consciousness. Before experience is aware of itself and of the
experienceable there is a certain purely subjective mirroring of that
which is not present to sense, but has been, _i.e._, there is a
re-occurrence in consciousness which has the subjective force of
reality; though the objective actuality is lacking, such re-occurrence
by association without the actual presence of the object stands,
however, for reality to the mind experiencing—it is a direct intuition;
the object, though unreal, is perfectly real to consciousness, and
conveys no meaning, and so is not a basis for emotion. Yet in the higher
representation with a sense of experience as integral element, the
representation is sometimes practically timeless, though surcharged with
emotion tendency. The highest objects which the mind represents have
little time quality, and all the nobler sentiments, as love of truth,
justice, etc., exist with little or no reference to time. So also in the
very earliest representation, the object is seen in its feeling
value—emotion basis—as soon as it is perceived as object; but this is as
an immediate subjective realizing in which time-sense plays very little
part. The conscious interpretation of past and future as a conscious
connecting of the two is certainly not a primitive function. The time
form is, then, on the whole, merely incidental in emotion, and is by no
means a fundamental principle determining classification.

Yet, though we must reject time as a cardinal principle of division in
emotion, still we must acknowledge that the term retrospective emotion
denotes a real group of mental phenomena, including revenge, regret,
remorse, and kindred forms, which are marked as feeling for the past
merely as past. However, pure retrospection is rare and late. The past
does not for primitive mind stand by itself as something to be dwelt
upon, to be thought about, to be moved by, and stirred to action. The
immediate present absorbs the mind, and the past interests and excites
only so far as bearing directly on the present. And so it is that the
child lives in the present, the youth and man in the future, the old man
in the past; and this denotes the relatively late appearance of pure
retrospection and of emotion founded thereon. Emotion is first merely
spectant, then prospective, then retrospective. However, when we say an
emotion is concerned solely with the present in the very young, we mean,
of course, the immediately prospective—that which has relation to but
one sense and by association rouses emotion, as an apple, seen or
handled by a child, awakens emotion, desire to taste. Where sense
consciousness is not multiform, but single and uniform, as, doubtless,
in very low organisms, there is no opportunity for any emotion, for
there is no interpretation power. But the intensification of some one
sense connection already attained may be a basis for emotion which we
may loosely call emotion spectant, as when the greedy child eagerly
eating an apple desires a larger bite, sweeter portion, etc.
However,—though it has little classification value,—emotion can be only
prospective or retrospective; and this is, of course, implied in its
basis—representation. Emotion by its very nature must be a looking
forward, or a looking backward, or both. As a feeling about, and not a
direct feeling, this is obviously its unvariable cognitive content. The
immediate and actual realization may be direct feeling or sensation, but
it is never in itself emotion. Emotion is always over something, an
experience of experience, and cannot thus be simple content. It is thus
a consciously idealizing mode as distinguished from direct realization
which is wholly self-contained.

One of the most important and interesting retrospective emotions is
revenge. The cardinal idea in revenge is returning evil for evil. Not
only must there be a paying back for past injury, but there must be an
equivalence, eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth; and the revengeful
emotion is the meting out such purely retributive action. Exact return
becomes the basis of a general usage in animal and human societies.
Justice, law, and punishment rest upon the idea of inflicting duplicate
or equivalent injury for injury received. Administrative justice is the
specialization of revenge in the hands of a few members of a community,
a social differentiation by which individuals in general secure their
revenges at great economy by proxy. Further, the revengeful emotion is a
smouldering hate which vents itself only some time after the immediate
occasion. This is not the flush of anger which prompts to vigorous
offensive action upon the injurer at the very moment of harm perceived,
and it does not appear as stimulant to immediate self-conservative
activities, but is simply the spirit of getting even for relatively long
past injury.

What, now, is the function of revenge as a life factor? It surely does
not mend my injury that I do another harm solely because he has some
time harmed me, and the whole impulse might seem a pure waste of energy.
But under natural selection revenge must arise in serviceability of some
sort; and it is obvious that while revenge is of no use in mending the
past, it yet has a large value with reference to future possible injury.
Yet revenge is undeniably without conscious meaning for present or
future; it is merely the spirit and determination to get even, and so
its deterrent function is unconsciously attained. A dwelling in thought
on the past _per se_, a feeling about it and acting on it, while it
cannot help life directly, has a large value in its ultimate effect upon
enemies. He who never forgets injury, and for whom by-gones are never
by-gones, who never fails to return injury for injury, is feared and is
less likely to be injured. Junker, the African traveller, remarks of the
pygmies, “They are much feared for their revengeful spirit.” Thus, other
things being equal, the most revengeful are the most successful in the
struggle for self-conservation and self-furtherance. Though by itself
considered irrational and foolish to inflict return injuries upon an
injurer long after the immediate occasion, yet its deterrent effect is
very great with reference to other assailants. Thus, pure retrospection
may have unconsciously prospective value, or sometimes revenge may be
really retrospective-prospective, as when one says, “I will fix him so
he will not do that again.” Here function is consciously known, but in
instinctive revenge there is no such foresight, and, in general, utility
is no consideration with the revenger, whose mind is bent rather on
doing great harm for its own sake to his enemy rather than benefiting
himself. It is always the conscious or unconscious significance for the
future that justifies revenge in the natural course of events; while it
is no remedy for my hurt, if some one has put out my eye, to put out his
in return, yet this revenge act, and so the feeling which prompts it, is
of highest prospective value with reference to future possible enemies.
Every one will know that I cannot be harmed with impunity. Despoil or
injure the revengeful in any way and you inevitably suffer for it sooner
or later, and so revenge acts as a protective psychical variation of
high value. On the whole the revengeful is less likely than others to be
molested and injured, and thus has a manifest advantage in the struggle
for existence. Revenge has, then, also rightfully its own subjective
sanction, a pleasure reaction, for revenge is, indeed, “sweet.”

Revenge is apparently found in a considerable range in the animal
kingdom, and seems universal in the _genus homo_. However, we cannot
infallibly conclude from certain actions that revengeful emotion is
present, and especially is this so in the case of animals. Thus, in the
well-known instance of the elephant, who, observing a man passing by who
had greatly annoyed him years before, suddenly drenched him with dirty
water, we are not necessarily to suppose that this elephant was prompted
by the emotion of revenge; although this may have been the case, we are
not perfectly sure how far the elephant did the act merely as recompense
for what the man had done, or how far the sight of the injurer, and so
one likely to injure, roused to simple anger and defence against the
threatening harmful. Many acts which seem like revenge are quite likely
to be common defence or offence, are done with reference to what the
object is and will be as injurious, based upon knowledge of the past,
and not as merely retrospective retributive acts. Memory for injuries
received is strong in many animals; that which has harmed is often
recognised after many years as the harmful, and appropriate simple
emotion, not revenge, is manifested. Rage, rather than revenge, is the
usual emotion among lower animals in special instances where revenge
might seem called for; and thus it is more likely that the elephant
should rage and hate rather than have pure revenge as in the case

However, somewhere rather late in sub-human psychism revengeful emotion
certainly arose as an advantageous variation, and it grew in strength
and prominence for many ages of psychic progress. At length it
culminated, and began its decline with the marked increase of
co-operative sociality, with which it must greatly interfere. Reprisal
and counter-reprisal, vendetta, feud, is opposed to that social union
which is strength; and so we see that tribes and nations in which the
spirit of personal revenge has been a dominant trait have been left
behind in the march of progress. Revengefulness, at least in the form of
retributive personal violence for injuries done, is, in a highly
civilized community, entirely superseded by the machinery of law.
Instead of slaying a brother’s murderer I call upon the law to execute
justice and retribution, and I bring certain designated ones among my
fellows to secure my revenge. Where a man takes the law in his own
hands, and kills or injures the violator of his home or the slayer of
his nearest kin, he recedes to the lower unsocial plane from which
civilization has arisen. Thus revengefulness, in certain forms at least,
has become in the highest human communities a disadvantageous variation,
and is gradually being eliminated. This negative elimination of revenge
is also greatly hastened by the progress of certain ethical and
Christian conceptions by which a new and opposite law of conduct is
enforced, namely, the returning good for evil.

One of the most interesting and most retrospective of emotions is
sorrow. Sorrow, grief and regret are wholly regardful of the past, are
pains at the past. They are purely subjective or “mental” pains at the
past, and in no wise pains from the past; they are not pains recurrent
from past pains, but purely a painful emotion at the representation of
past pain. Thus, a man says, “I did it to my own harm and hurt, and I
have always been sorry I did it.” Here the sorrow-pain is evidently
quite distinct from the direct pain of the injury; pain for the harm
done is one thing, and pain from the harm done is another. I hurt
myself, and I not only have this pain, but, being sorry that I did it, I
have this new emotional pain added. Sorrow as painful emotion for the
past is thus plainly unique and peculiar. To feel sorry over what has
happened is a mode of feeling altogether different from feeling proud of
it, angry at it, etc., and we may reasonably regard sorrow as a distinct
_genus_ of retrospective emotion. What, now, is the nature and function
of this special emotion reaction?

We have to consider here only that simple primitive sorrow which is a
painful emotion at regarding personal loss or failure. Such simple
sorrow we see in the child who cries over spilled milk, in the man who
expresses deep regret at the careless misstep by which he broke his leg.
In this emotional reaction at the injurious the harmful is neither
escaped nor repelled, as through fear and anger; the feeling disturbance
is comparatively passive and purely reflective, and is not a spur to
some immediate advantageous defensive or offensive activity. In sorrow
we are pained emotionally at the trouble which has come upon us through
our own agency or otherwise, but we do not struggle from it or against
it, but there is purely helpless retrospection. Harm and loss which
might provoke in one nature to fear or anger, in another lead only to
inactive sorrow.

The cognition form in sorrow means always sense of _personal_ loss. I
may fear a thing, or I may be angry at a thing, but I can be sorry only
for a person. I do not feel sorry for a broken chair, though I may feel
sorry for having broken it. This view of one’s own personal agency in
causing harm to one’s self and harm to others is very prominent in a
large range of sorrow. In viewing any action which determined some evil,
I say, “I am sorry I did it.” This is, however, a later mode of the
emotion, which at the first cannot take account of any agency, but is
simply an acute feeling of distress at the injury received. Thus the one
who grieves over the spilled milk regards, not his own agency, but only
his loss; he is sorry, not that he spilled the milk, but that his milk
was spilled. Yet the sense of personal agency certainly forms a great
part in much sorrow, and tends to intensify it. I may grieve over any
harm that has come upon me, but my grief is intensified as I remember my
own agency in bringing it about. I may feel sorry over the loss of my
goods by fire, but if I lose them by my own careless act, my sorrow is
redoubled. Strictly speaking, perhaps, the sorrows are distinct, I feel
sorry for having done it and I am sorry at it done; yet they may be said
to constitute a single psychic state. Sense of our own agency, however,
in having produced harm to self is as likely to produce anger at self or
even fear of self. Hence our intensest and purest sorrows are apt to be
those occasioned by considering injuries occasioned by elemental forces.
That harm which we did not help because we could not, the inevitable
injury, this excites a keen regret and deep mourning.

The pain in sorrow is as peculiar, searching, unanalyzable and
undescribable as other simple emotion pains, and only conceivable
through realization. This sinking, helpless pain over what has happened
is clearly distinct from the sensation order of pains, and is in no wise
a reflection from them. The pain I have at remembrance of some great
loss which has befallen me is certainly very distinct from that which
came from the loss itself.

What part now does sorrow play as a psychic life-function, and how
explain it on the general principle of natural selection? At first
sight, sorrow or grief over the past seems utterly valueless, seems to
be mental energy thrown away. The past is irretrievable, of what use
then is any grief? Is not all regret vain? To deplore its loss does not
tend to restore a lost arm, and it is of no use crying over spilled
milk. Indeed, he who bewails spilled milk has not only the actual loss
but the ideal pain about the loss. He who grieves suffers doubly. But
while it is true that sorrow for what has happened cannot alter the
occurrence, yet it has a permanent salutary effect on the one who
sorrows to give more caution for the future. The child will carry the
pitcher of milk the more carefully next time by the more he has grieved
over the past occurrence. By increasing sensitiveness and capacity for
sorrow experience is strengthened, deepened, and completely adjusted to
environment. Shallow and volatile natures, who take all loss and harm
easily, and even gaily, have little strength, and attain no great and
permanent growth. But with most, when the object of strong desire is
suddenly lost, not only will there be a disappearance of the positive
feeling about it, but an actual _minus_ or negative state will be
generated, a reaction mode we term grief. By this grief the chief
lessons of all higher experience are made possible. Grief is not a
pathological phenomenon in mind, but in its place thoroughly normal and
useful. Indeed, if under certain circumstances grief did not appear,
mind would be proved very crude, obtuse, or diseased. He who never feels
sad about what has happened, is not of a progressive or highly advanced
type. If one does not feel sorry for his past errors and hurtful
actions, he plainly has so much the less motive force to higher action
for the future. If sorrow had never entered the world of mind, if the
whole corrective for injurious actions or want of action lay wholly in
the immediate pain resulting or in the direct simple emotions like fear
and anger, a most potent factor in psychic progress would be lacking.
The possibility of going wrong, _i.e._, literally aside, and
contrariwise to one’s own interests, is implied in the struggle for
existence. The next best thing to the impossible _status_ of being
unable to do wrong, is to have the capacity of feeling for the wrong,
that is, of experiencing grief. Sorrow is thus a corrective of the
highest importance in the history of experience. The slips, willed and
unwilled, from the narrow path of upward evolution are of necessity
many; but a man is, on the whole, best doing the largest part in the
evolution scheme in which he finds himself, who both knows the wrong as
such, and is sorry for it, whether in the primitive selfish mode, or
better still, on the higher ethical and religious grounds. The greatest
and most efficient minds are those who have felt most keenly for their
errors, faults, and sins.

As to the origin of grief, we may say with confidence that it is
tolerably late, and certainly subsequent to anger and hate and like
reactions. Under certain circumstances sorrow must be accounted a more
favourable reaction than these. Rage is certainly impotent and useless
on many occasions of recalled injury, and rage is besides a very intense
emotion and expensive of energy. The general law in the development of
emotion is toward milder, more economical, and more permanent forms, and
then it is that sorrow must at some time have originated under the
demands of life, and been preserved and developed under natural
selection. Sorrow most probably originated as supplanting rage at the
view or remembrance of injury done. In young children we often see rage
mingled with the first manifestation of grief, and but slowly is the
rage eliminated and pure grief attained. Sorrow exercises its function
where rage is useless. The child cries over spilled milk partly from
rage, partly from grief, but such mishaps will tend more and more to be
attended by grief only, as the better and more economical reaction.
Further, in a certain range of cases, sorrow in its manifestations
serves to appease revenger, and sincere regret, unmistakably expressed,
often saves the wrong-doer an equivalent harm. This form of sorrow
function is distinctly cultivated in the education of children where
they are taught to feel sorry for faults if they would be forgiven and
escape punishment.

Grief in its origin and its earlier occurrence is not the spontaneous
and almost irresistible impulse of our adult human experience, but, like
all emotion and all progressive psychism, is by effort of will. That is,
we must suppose that grief has its origin in some such _nisus_ as a
child exhibits when he is taught to be sorry for something he has done.
Hence it is only gradually and with the lapse of many generations after
its origin that sorrow becomes hereditary and spontaneous. At first
sorrow was a distinct attainment, rarely and but occasionally reached by
any individual, and it is comparatively late in psychic history that it
becomes a permanent and innate power. Sorrow also very gradually widens
its sphere. At first purely selfish, a retrospective reaction at one’s
own hurt, it becomes at length, through sociality and its concurrent
advantages, altruistic; sorrow is felt for others and the springs of
sympathy and pity are developed. That this altruism is very late
development is obvious, in that it has still to be taught even among the
most advanced of the human race to their children. The child is taught
to feel sorry for the cat he has hurt, for the blind man, for the
cripple. And we must conclude that at one time in psychic history
egoistic sorrow was likewise at the stage of development at which we now
see altruistic, and we may suppose that in the far future the altruistic
may come to the present _status_ of the egoistic sorrow. However, for
both there is an indefinite field for expansion, for refinement of
sensibility, and for readiness and appropriateness of manifestation.
Sorrow also will develop more and more on ethical and religious grounds.
Remorse arises and develops; and also the “godly sorrow for sin.” We
learn to feel, not merely sorry over the past as affecting our
disadvantage, but to feel sorry conscientiously as our deeds or those of
others conflict with the law of right or with the law of God. Those who
have no God-consciousness, and so no feeling about their action in the
sight of God, no sense of sinfulness, have yet often acute moral sense
and feelings. However, the origin and function of the moral and
religious sense in the light of natural selection is a wide subject
which can only be alluded to here; suffice it to say that sorrow is
thereby lifted to a peculiar and new plane of self-contained
spirituality. That is, the bearing of it is often without relation to
physical life-function, and even adverse thereto, and throughout has its
value and sanction in itself alone.

One of the deepest and most significant of late forms of sorrow is that
for the dead, and its importance is obvious from the fact that a word is
especially coined to denote its expression, namely, mourning. Nothing
can be more useless than mourning for the dead as far as the individual
object is concerned; the most poignant sorrow cannot in anywise tend to
reanimate the corpse. However, it plainly serves as an index to the
value put upon life, and so in general has a most powerful effect on
conservation and upbuilding of life. Other things being equal,
sensitiveness to this form of sorrow measures accurately possibly
self-conservative effort or effort for others’ conservation, which in a
state of sociality, is equivalent in value to one’s self. The lives for
which there is the most mourning and real sorrow when death comes are
the most valuable to the community, and for the conserving of which the
utmost combined effort would be extended. Where life has little value
attached to it, sorrow is slight and mourning short. As compared with
the savage state, loss and injury to life is infinitely more respected
in the great centres of modern civilization—the _nuclei_ of progress. It
is because we feel strongly for the safety of friends and relatives that
we employ the best devices to insure their protection from injury and
death. One who has sorrowed most deeply over the death of a friend
caused by his own careless handling of a gun, will for the future be

Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 15 of 32)