Hiram M. (Hiram Miner) Stanley.

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ingrained in mind with pains, we feel so spontaneously and immediately
need of _thing_ in connection with organic pains that it is very
difficult for us to realize a state where this connection has not been
formed or is forming. But it would seem that the first hunger pains of
the infant are of this primitive quality, and that need is not felt in
connection therewith. It is only after some crude cognitions of bodies
have been generated in connection with the feeding act and as guides
thereto that on occasion of hunger pains there can occur the sense of
lack of food object, a painful feeling of unrealization, at first very
dimly representative, and so a craving, an incipient emotion. Desire
rests then upon capacity to feel the lack of accustomed satisfying thing
in connection with some form of perception or representation of the
thing. When a satisfying object is missing, it must be _missed_
psychically before desire can awake. The reaction when a customarily
conjoined experience does not occur is a peculiar feeling in mind, a
disturbance, uneasiness, a unique sense of loss and lack which is the
immediate stimulus of desire. Hunger at first leads blindly to
activities tending to satisfy hunger, but the satisfying
thing—food—therewith becomes gradually known, hence thereafter when
hunger comes there is struggle both to know and to act thereby. This
struggle has impulsation from feelings of lack.

Lack pains then prompt to cognitive activities to find the thing lacked
and desired. The first knowledge is that some things satisfy, and an
appropriative activity is excited. The lowest organisms under impulse of
hunger pains reach out after things, feel for them, and as soon as they
sense the edible, appropriate it. It is quite evident that they exercise
cognition only as driven to it, and then it is effort even for the
simplest knowing. But what the first psychic facts are is hard for us to
interpret, because we have progressed so far beyond them. However, we
may well believe that the general form of primitive consciousness is
akin to what we have when dozing or half awake. The realization of
things is dim indefinite, and it is only as pains of considerable
severity are felt and as the psychism gains in capacity for pain that
particular knowledges and particular needs and desires are accomplished.
After having repeatedly sensed something—as a soft vegetable form—in
connection with bodily pain as hunger and with the feeding activity as
allaying hunger, a renewal of the pain from organic conditions will
give, not merely purely subjective pains, but also, as the
pre-associated cognition of thing and the allaying of hunger is not
experienced, there arises as reaction a vague sense of lack which may
lead to equally vague desire. A vague uneasiness and restlessness which
knows object and misses object only in the most general way is the
lowest basis. A study of some case of waking from a doze by reason of
hunger would give the original formation of desire as involving lack
sense. Here a purely subjective pain gradually intensifies till it
wakens a very general objectifying, and we feel need of undefined
something, which soon becomes specialized, when fully wakened, to need
of something to eat, and finally as need of some particular usual food,
as bread, meat, or milk, which is then desired.

Pain from restriction or intermission of some organic activity, as the
digestive and assimilatory, may then lead to sense of lack and desire
for object which is unrealized. However, craving-desire as implying
sense of loss, of something pleasurable missed, is not organic, but is
mere reflex of organization. It is not progressive, but conservative; it
does not initiate, it merely keeps the organism to its accustomed level.
This is the limited range of appetite. Craving rests on past evolution.
However, we have to explain the origin of those activities which, when
intermitted, produce such distressful results. We must first acquire the
liking before we miss what we like, and tastes uniformly originate
through effort, and all pleasurable activity is built up by painful
volition as urged by direct pains or by desires. Desire then is more
than craving. Craving as based on organic lack is satiable, desire is
insatiable. We desire what we have never missed and modes of experience
we have never attained. We, who have never had a gold watch, desire one,
and having received one, we lose it, miss it, and so desire is
reinforced. All the progressive activity of the human world originates
in desire, as ambition, or as desire of truth, virtue, etc. Here we do
not miss what we are accustomed to, but we are forming habits, which
will be the basis for cravings with descendants. For instance, one who
now does not miss beauty of art, but is ambitiously striving to
appreciate art, may come finally—or at least his descendants—to miss
art, and so to crave it. But for the time he has no art craving, only an
art desire. Of course all desire in the craving form, or in the higher
desire form, involves a missing actualization. All desire is
extinguished in realization. But this obviously does not destroy the
distinction of desire as based on craving, a spontaneous resultant from
integration, an intermittence of habit, and desire as itself integrating
habit-forming emotion.

However, with the lowest psychisms, we may perhaps suppose it unlikely
that representation does ever become definite enough for desire, except
when in direct sensing of a thing, as, for example, in a touch
perception. The psychism is impelled to touch activity by its subjective
pains and simple, undifferentiated lack pains. It does not desire a food
through the representation of it brought up by hunger, for such
representation of things in their potentiality is probably not
originally stimulated directly by subjective feelings, though with man,
for instance, we know that hunger and other simple feelings will provoke
representations of foods, which foods will be desired; and particularly
in famine the most lively representations of feasts occur, and thus
there is a strengthening and defining of desire. Thus in famine there
comes a greater and greater urgency to action as its necessity becomes
greater. The vivid representations of foods become through desire—though
there may be no sense connection with food—a mighty force for
self-preservative action.

Yet primitively desire probably awoke only after some sensing was
accomplished, not the mere subjective pain, but the touch perception
awoke the representation, for it would seem the original _status_ that
representation occurs at first only with correlated presentation. Thus
it is that the simplest psychisms are driven by their pains to achieve a
touch or some sensing of a thing before they interpret it as food, and
so desire it; that is, things must have a food meaning attached to them
through actual sense appreciation of them as such, before they can be
directly instanced in pure representation as foods. Hunger leads us
immediately to think of food, but this ability to directly represent
food is based upon having thoroughly learned certain things as food by
repeated direct experiences. A savage who has never seen or known of
bonbons is presented with a box of them, and he may receive them with
indifference, but a bonbon is placed in his mouth, whereupon he says,
“it tasted so good, I want another.” Such is the genesis of desire when
pleasure quality is attached to thing, is learned by experience. The
visual and tactual experience is actively conjoined with pleasure
experience, so that seeing another bonbon, he represents its
pleasurability and so desires it.

Further, the relative presentations and feelings must be mentally
correlative, the connection must be more than phenomenal series of
several forms; there must be an active connecting psychic process as
basis. You are told to open your mouth and shut your eyes, and a bonbon
is dropped in; the taste will at once give rise to a revival visual
presentation, and if a person holds up before your eyes a fine bonbon,
saying, “look at this,” there may occur revival taste experiences. But
the immediate basis of desire is not here, for if psychic process
stopped here, there would be no higher elements; these can only be
accomplished by a definite bringing up and attribution of subjective
quality to the thing. You represent its possible pleasurableness on the
basis of past experience, by the action of the inductive instinct, a
complex process. Here revival is not an active correlating, but is
self-contained, lying isolated by itself, and unfruitful till its
revival character is recognised, and it is actively wrought into
experience. That is, integrating act is presupposed in all desire.

The way in which revival becomes the basis representation is hard to
trace, but in many cases it seems to be connected with certain
physiological activities. A revival form implies correlated physical
functions, as when the sight of a peach causes the taste pre-experienced
therewith to be revived, and the mouth waters, as if in actual
deglutition. As the reacting and assimilating process is carried on
without any real thing to be acted upon, there comes a physiological
reaction, which in turn gives rise to peculiar psychic affections, and
specially the uneasy feeling of lack. The unreality and mere revival
character of the revival experience is ultimately recognised, and
representation becomes possible, and idea of pleasure as both
experienced and experienceable is evolved. Thus an unsubstantial
revival, where the thing is sensed in one form only, but thereby
re-awakening other associated experiences, as in the case of merely
seeing a peach, leads finally to know the thing as a potency; I taste,
but after all I taste nothing; hence I am led to perceive the thing as a
sign, as unrealized in its pleasure significance, but realizable. How we
attain sense of reality and unreality we discuss in chapter on
Induction, but with special reference to desire we add here an
illustration. When engaged in reading on a hot day, I have feeling of
discomfort, and then spontaneously arises image of a wonted bathing
place, I have the image of moving in the clear, cool water, but at once
recognising the unreality of the image, I long for realization. I, when
heated, have so often seen the water, and plunged in it, that the
presentation of mode of relief has become firmly associated with the
discomfort, so when it organically returns, presentation revives, and
its unreality known, desire rises. One not accustomed to bathe, but to
taking lemonade when heated, will have visions of lemonade and desire
therefor. One who is just forming some habit of relief will not have
spontaneous images, but must call them up. Desire also will be purely
general, “Oh! to get rid of this heat.” Specific desire, as founded upon
a definite image of realization, is primarily the result of active
association of definite object and mode with a given pleasure-pain
state. The realizing the image as unreality, as suggesting an
actualization to be wished for, is learned from rude experience with
present sensations and perceptions quite at variance with the image.
Thus, that the vision of water is unreality I know by seeing the room
before me, touching the chair, sense of painful heat unrelieved, etc. An
image of actualization barely of itself does not include desire. I may
conceive that I can image myself moving in water without any emotion
therewith connected, but as matter of fact, this never occurs; all our
images of actualization carry some desire value. Even bare phantasy, as
imagining myself living on the moon, is not without a tinge of desire or
aversion, for the origin and growth of imaging has been so bound up with
desire, and is for desire as life function that some desire tendency is
retained even in the purest flights of imagination. It becomes
increasingly evident that such a simple and understandable expression
as, “I want that peach,” implies a great complexity of psychic process
which is hidden from us by the summarizing facility of language. Emotion
is evidently far too complex for full analysis. Its complexity is such
that we may well hesitate to attribute it, as is so often and easily
done, to the lowest psychisms. Since desire includes a measure of
self-consciousness, and also of consciousness of pleasure, it seems
improbable at first sight that such elements should exist in certain low
consciousnesses where primitive organisms seem impelled by desire.
However, though this _a priori_ view has weight, it must not be allowed
to be of supreme value. Yet when we fairly interpret a very simple case,
as when a dog scenting and seeing meat on a shelf, is said to desire it,
and so to spring for it, we certainly imply a complexity of mental
activity, which might by many be thought quite beyond the power of even
a very intelligent dog. We have at least the following factors:—

1. Simple scent or vision of the thing; bare presentation or
representation of object.

2. Either a definite bringing up, or a mechanical re-occurrence of past
pleasurable associated feelings and sensations, or both.

3. Sense of unreality.

4 Feeling of lack.

5. Pain of lack.

6. Sense of pleasure potentiality of the thing, which implies—

(_a_) Idea of pleasure.

(_b_) Idea of personal experience thereof, _i.e._, some egoistic

(_c_) Sense of experience as in time past, as experienced.

(_d_) Sense of time as future as implied in sense of the

7. The longing, yearning, peculiar desire quality as feeling mode.

8. Desire pain.

In the first place then, the object of desire, the _desideratum_, is not
the object as such. We do not desire things merely as such, but only as
far as they are significant of experience. Presentation does not, at
least normally and originally, ever end in itself, but it is always
connected, and connects with pleasure-pain experiences. Desire begins by
being vague as to its object; under slight pressures of pain we want
something, but we know not what; we have dim, undefined longing, but the
indefinite object is always a possibility of experience, a centre of
pleasure-pain potency. At the first stirring of hunger pains, we have a
vague uneasiness and sense of lack, with a most general idea of object
and longing toward it, and suffer the pain from hunger. We may be
physiologically hungry without feeling hungry, and so may have a desire
of thing in general to remove pain before the pain is felt and
recognised in its particularity as hunger pain. When hunger comes, or,
primitively, is achieved, then we want something to eat; and as this
feeling intensifies, the craving becomes more and more definite as to
object; bread, etc., is wanted, and in famine hunger there is the most
particular representation, as of certain dishes formerly eaten with
great relish. Lumholtz, wandering famished on a Christmas in the wilds
of Australia, thinks of the puddings in his native Norway. The
evolutionary significance of this increasing definition of object in
desire is obvious in that greater definiteness and accuracy of
self-preservative action is thereby assured.

As far as the nature of the emotion desire goes, it seems quite
indifferent whether there is presentation or representation of object. I
desire equally, whether I actually see the bonbon on the table or when I
merely represent it—see it in my mind’s eye.

Primarily then, and always, even in the latest evolution, as tendency at
least, the desire is for the pleasure in the object, and desire is
excited by every representation of the pleasurable. If one says, “I can
look upon pleasure without desire,” we may well question whether there
is really personal pleasure represented. Dancing, card-playing,
wine-drinking, may be pleasures which do not attract me because I do not
care for them; and by such a statement we indicate the practical
parallelism of pleasure and desire which is forced upon common
introspection. If you care for it, it is a pleasure to you; if you do
not care for it, it is not a pleasure to you; such is the result of
common observation, and a very just conclusion so far as I can see. To
excite desire, we naturally suggest the pleasurable. One person
persuading another to go to a party says: “I know you would have a good
time.” When one answers, “I know that I would have a good time, but I
dread the trouble of getting ready”; here is a conflict of desires in
which desire of present ease and comfort may overcome desire of future
pleasure. We may, indeed, assert that one cannot honestly say, “I know
it would be a great pleasure to me, but I have no desire for it.” When
such a phrase is used, it can only mean that the pleasure is interpreted
as belonging to the generic class of pleasures, yet not a pleasure to
the individual in his present conception, or else its contingency,
implied by “would,” is so great that desire is practically _nil_.

And if the pleasurable is always the desirable, the desirable also may
be said to be only the pleasurable. The martyr in his most eager desire
for a painful death, fixes his mind, not upon the pain as pain, but upon
the enduring it successfully, and the triumphant pleasure, also the
satisfaction of the reward of martyrdom, and the pleasure of suffering
for right and the approval of conscience; these and many other factors
influence him.

Desire is _at_ pleasure, not _in_ pleasure, and thus contains pain,
especially as implied in the preparative factors, sense of unreality and
sense of lack. A bonbon may be so cunningly imitated, that placed in the
mouth it feels like a bonbon, yet not tasting so, the painful sense of
unreality and loss occurs. There is a painful waking up to the fact of
non-realization, much the same in quality as that which we suppose to
have happened in the original genesis of desire. The pleasant
hallucination is broken in upon by actuality not fulfilling the psychic
co-ordination pre-established under more favourable circumstances; and
this occurs in early psychisms on a wider variety of occasions than in
later development. That I am not tasting the bonbon I see on the table,
this fact _per se_ does not pain me. I take it as a matter of course in
an order of nature already well learned and completely acquiesced in.
But with infantile and lower stages of evolution generally, the lack of
immediate correlation seems highly painful. Seeing has directly
developed in immediate connection with a tasting, and the seeing without
tasting seems by its very nature as disquieting as the feeling in the
mouth the artificial bonbon without being able to taste is for later
experience. It is through the negations of customary coincident
impressions that anticipation and desire become forced by the exigencies
of life. The early psychism is limited in its adjustments to a very few
simple coincidences, but in the struggle of life in complex nature there
comes disruption of these primitive co-ordinations, and sequences become
apprehended, and meaning is discerned in things. This disruption
primitively occurred most easily when there was direct opposition to the
usual course of sensations. Just as when mouthing the imitation bonbon,
we apprehend most quickly and easily non-realization when it tastes sour
rather than sweet. By realities continually breaking in upon the common
course of psychic association, the significance of things is gradually
apprehended, and to see a thing is understood not merely as coincident
with other sensations and perceptions, touching, tasting, and
pleasure-feeling, but the thing is cognized as centre of pleasure
potency, and so can become object of desire. Experience loses its
self-contained simplicity, and is forced in the struggle of experience
in a complex environment into some definite understanding of things, and
into a feeling for them or at them, and not merely a feeling from them.
And so a world of desirables and aversibles is formed.

If no pain was felt in the experience of unreality and lack, if there
was mere passivity, desire would not be generated. This pain of loss
spurs the mind to achieve desire, and desire enables the organism to
attain the advantageous. At length a conventionalized world of
desirables so formed, and certain significances, become so inground into
experience that they seem often to be instinctively and immediately
recognised by the individual, anterior to any personal learning by
experience, as in cases of instinctive fear of, and desire for, certain

While desire is attained at the incitement of pain, it is in itself a
painful mental act. The emotional going out toward the _desideratum_ is
in itself a painful mode of consciousness. The feeling I have for the
bonbon which I see and desire is, so far as desire, painful, yet
negatively and comparatively, it may be pleasurable in that this
psychosis may supplant one more painful still. It may be said that
desire is painful, and also lack of desire, or _ennui_. But mere
desirelessness is not _ennui_. _Ennui_ is a feeling of lack and loss,
and so a feeling of desire, but a peculiar kind of desire. It is desire
for activity, when by a morbid _status_ there is no desire moving to
activity. Lack of desire and interest in things may be painfully
revealed to some active natures, but to the great majority of psychisms
it is a pleasure state. As far as we can judge, the undesire of the cow
leisurely chewing her cud in a warm corner of the barn yard is supreme
felicity. A state of desirelessness, complete yet blissful, occasionally
visits even the consciousness of the nineteenth century busy-body. But
the normality of desire for human adult consciousness in general is
apparent to all. One who loses all interest or desire loses hold on
life. Thus desire is life, and even when it is sought to extinguish it
either as dictated by a philosophical maxim or by religious and moral
scruples, on account of the innate selfishness of desire—Madame Guyon,
for instance—yet desire is sure to intrude, and must as a desire to
destroy desire. So whether we _would_ fly, or _would_ reach desire, we
thereby desire. We may uproot or cultivate certain kinds of desire which
thereby become objects of aversion or desire, but the effort to
extinguish desire as general fact of psychic life involves either a
psychological indefinite _regressus_ which is never desireless, or else
it means the extinction of consciousness itself in any grade above the

A further element which appears in all desire is some measure of
self-consciousness. The representation of the experienceable implies
some representation of experiences. In constituting the world as the sum
total of the experienceable, we imply an ego-consciousness, and that
objectifying as psychic act is correlated with subjectifying. Desire,
like all other emotion, implies a subjective reference. We see clearly
that the psychic act expressed by “this is the food,” and as such the
precursor of and ingredient of desire, means an identification with past
personal experience. A similar act is performed, no doubt, by animals
very commonly, though not expressible in speech, yet in measure
expressible, as in the cluckings of a hen to attract the brood to some
seeds. In various ways the _desideratum_ is suggested to the mind, and
in view of it, both in the identifying as having experiences, and the
longing to experience, some consciousness of personality is implied.
This in early forms of psychosis is, no doubt, meagre and indefinite
enough, but not more so than its correlate sense of object. When a
strange object is presented, as when a famished traveller finds a new
house, identifying effort is instinctive; he at once seeks to understand
it, and gropes through his past experience to determine what has been
its life significance for him or other persons, and so what will be.
What is thus done in the full light of reflective consciousness by man,
is done in a summary and imperfect manner, generally by psychisms, as
preparative to making the object a _desideratum_ or _anti-desideratum_.
The assimilating and integrating, the knowing, never exists without some
appreciation of subject, because integration is not only of
something—objectifying act—but also to something—subjectifying act.
Things are from the first apprehended only in their immediate egoistic
significance, and also very early as centres of possible sensations
which become a matter of fear and hope, desire and aversion.

Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 17 of 32)