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achieving its own growth in blind struggle. Mind is wholly an inward
growth, not a series of givens; and presentations are accomplished not
merely in it but by it. The fundamental principle is that while objects
do determine conscious functions, it is only through self-conservative
interest, through pleasure and pain reacting to them. All sensations,
intuitions, presentations, are at bottom achievements as forced by law
of struggle for existence. They do, indeed, seem to come of necessity
and spontaneously to adult human consciousness, but developed faculty by
virtue of being such does not have to attain beginnings.

But we note also this, that while all consciousness is change in the
sense of being dynamic, of being an activity, this does not include
consciousness of change. Consciousness as a changing factor is very
distinct from consciousness of that change, and does not necessarily
include or imply it. That the forms of activity which we group under the
general term consciousness have their existence wholly in movement and
change is true, but this does not necessitate that the changing elements
should be aware of the change as such. Different things may be felt and
known, but this does not always result in being known _as different_.
This brings in comparison, consciousness of relation, which is certainly
beyond primitive consciousness. In early mind we conceive that new
elements are continually taking the place of the old, that change is
incessant, yet without sense of the change. So far as the earliest
consciousness is spasmodic and intermittent, appearing in isolated
flashes, we cannot speak even of change in consciousness, much less of
consciousness of change, for there is no continuous thread, no
integration, consequently change is not in consciousness from a
consciousness to a consciousness, but the only change is from a
consciousness to unconsciousness. In the whole life of some organisms we
may believe that only three or four pains or pleasures occur, entirely
subjective and undifferentiated, and this collection of consciousnesses
where state does not follow and influence state, where there is no
complexity, is scarcely to be termed a consciousness which changes, much
less that is aware of change. It is not improbable that even with
civilized and educated men mind may sometimes lapse so far that changes
occur with no awareness of change. In such sluggish conditions as when
half asleep we may experience succession of consciousnesses without
noting succession, each phase standing alone in itself and by itself.
While consciousness is maintained as consciousness—that is, a
continuance of conscious states—by the change, it is obviously not
necessary to this that there should be awareness of change. Here as
elsewhere we must keep clear of the mistake of making consciousness more
than a general term for a group of phenomena. Consciousness as such has
no reality or existence, but merely denominates a sum of
consciousnesses. The phrase, change of consciousness, and similar
expressions easily convey the impression that consciousness is a
changing something. But we know that consciousness does not exist as a
general indefinite something which changes or has other properties, but
is merely a name for certain activities and functions.

The formula of Mr. Ward’s hardly applies to developed consciousness,
much less to undeveloped. Consciousness even in man cannot be regarded
as a something which changes in sensation and presentation forms as pure
givens, determined with immediate completeness from without, and these
changes perceived, and pleasure and pain result. On the contrary the
immediateness and spontaneity of presentation forms in our ordinary
adult human consciousness are in appearance only; they stand first
before us because they have reached a dominance through heredity and
education, but still the latent and inward order is always from feeling
to knowledge and not _vice versâ_. The accomplishment of presentation is
usually so marvellously rapid in perceptive beings, and acts upon such
slight incentive that it is only under very rare conditions of
regression, or when developing a new sense or new form of sense that we
see that the moving element in mentality is pure feeling. Thus, for
example, in being awakened from sound sleep by a bright light suddenly
brought into the room, the order of consciousness is, pure feeling of
pain, sensation of light, perception of lighted object, and not the
reverse; whenever we can catch consciousness gradually awakening we can
always identify this order. The lighted lamp, objectively speaking,
certainly caused the feeling of discomfort with which consciousness
began, and this feeling roused the mind to both sensation of light and
perception of lamp. I, of course, have a feeling as to the visible
object only after seeing it, but this is altogether distinct from the
feeling which incites to the seeing. A vague, undifferentiated pain or
pleasure is always initiative, but pure pleasure-pain is often so low in
intensity that it does not start any cognitive act.

In a general way the influence of feeling and emotion upon cognitive act
in higher psychical life is acknowledged by common observation. The wish
is father to the thought—we see what we want to see. What we observe
depends upon prepossession, interest, and the whole pleasure-pain tone.
The mind must be determined to cognitive act by interest of some kind,
and even for advanced consciousness with all its strength of inherited
aptitude total loss of interest ultimately leads to loss of perceptive
power. The _impetus_ of all previous cognitive effort will carry on
cognition, of any high order, at least, but a comparatively short time.
Blot feeling out of life and all nature would soon become a dumb show
and quickly fade into nothingness. Absolute passionless receptivity is
impossible under the conditions of reality, and pure presentation forms
never _come_ as antecedent and causative to feeling. We have constantly
to bear in mind that in the nature of the case the simplest elements and
fundamental laws are hidden and certainly far from conspicuous in highly
developed mind, which is an intricate _nexus_ of feeling, will, and
cognition constantly acting and reacting on each other.

As a general statement, then, impliedly as to mind in general, and
implicitly as to the developed human mind, the proposition that
consciousness is fundamentally aware of changes in itself as the basis
and cause of all feeling is an assertion which may well be questioned.
Certain it is that being “pleased or pained with the change” is not
feeling in general, but a particular kind of feeling, namely, feeling of
variety and novelty. Further, to be pleased with a thing for itself
alone is not to be referred to pleasure or pain “with the change.” There
is intrinsic pleasurableness and painfulness which does not come under
the head of pleasure or pain of change. From both an _a priori_ point of
view of the law of self-conservation, and also from a brief survey of
certain forms in comparative and human psychology, we incline towards
accepting pure pain as the original consciousness which is very soon
differentiated into excess and lack pain with evolution of pure
pleasure. Will exists throughout as incited by feeling. Much, indeed, is
to be done before this theory of the nature of mind is either fully
elucidated or proved; but I believe that the assumption of mind as life
function leads toward such a theory. Sensationalism and intuitionalism
are both mistaken as to the origin and essence of mentality.
Consciousness is not at bottom any mode of cognition, either as more or
less freely accomplished by a “mind,” or as more or less mechanical
impression from “things,” but it is primitively and fundamentally pain
and pleasure as serving the organism in the struggle for existence. It
is strange that evolutionary psychologists have so generally missed this
point of view, and maintain sensationalism.

Comte, indeed, acutely remarks (_Positive Philosophy_, vol. 1, p. 463)
that “daily experience shows that the affections, the propensities, the
passions, are the great springs of human life; and that, so far from
resulting from intelligence, their spontaneous and independent impulse
is indispensable to the first awakening and continuous development of
the various intellectual faculties.” He here assumes the introspection
which he elsewhere denies as psychological method, and enunciates an
important principle which he never carried out. Horwicz has made a
survey of feeling as fundamental aspect of mind, but his discussion is

Our conclusions have been founded on general considerations and on the
phenomena of growth of mind in general and particular. Another line of
evidence would be decadent mind. Mental powers should decline and vanish
in the reverse of the general order in which they arose; the order of
disappearance should be the reverse of appearance, and if pain-pleasure
be primitive, we should expect to find it both the first conscious
element in infancy and the last in old age. The last stage of senility
seems sensitive only to organic pleasures and pains. Further, old age
does not so much seek pleasure as guard against pains, and this fact is
in line with our treatment of pain as prior to pleasure and more
fundamental than it. We may consider it likely that conscious life in
the individual begins with a pain and ends with a pain. Senile
psychology on this and other points is worthy of far more attention than
it has received, for it is on the whole more accessible and trustworthy
than infant psychology.

With regard to Mr. H. R. Marshall’s remarks (_Philosophical Review_,
vol. 1, p. 632), it is sufficient to say that I lay no great emphasis on
either pain or pleasure being the first fact of consciousness; but my
main contention is that the primitive facts of consciousness are of the
pain-pleasure type. While I have noticed some considerations as implying
pain to be the first consciousness phenomenon, yet I am satisfied that
pain and pleasure are correlative and complementary, each implying the
other. Further, I do not regard pain as “primal sense,” but as primal
fact. Pain is not in any wise a sense, and sense of pain can only mean
capacity for pain, or actual pain experience.

Again, I do not, as Mr. Marshall implies, regard pain as the
differentiating basis of subsequent evolution, but rather as mere
_prius_ and impetus, and hence I do not look for pain-pleasure to
disappear with mental evolution, nor yet to mark divisions in
“sensational phenomena”; but it will ever remain in representative
forms, at least, as increasingly complex stimulant of all mental life.

The objection urged by Höffding and others to the primitive nature of
pure feeling is that we sense before we feel pain or pleasure; thus we
have the sensation of touch before we feel the pain from contact with a
hot stove; we feel the pin, then the pricking sensation, then the pain.
This precedence has been measured by Beau and others.

But what is the significance of these well-recognised facts? Do they
show that pain-pleasure originates always in sensation? What is the
origin of tactile power? How and why was the first tactile effort made,
if not at impulse of some pain-pleasure? When conscious life was at
pre-tactile stage—before it had learned to touch—it had no pain from
touch, but it had pain. We can scarcely deny that a pre-tactile stage
exists, that all sensation was originally a sensing—an exertive act,
that it did not _come_, but was _attained_; for all the growth of
sensitive power in the race proceeds thus at present, and the law of
present psychic development in this regard seems general. But it is
pain-pleasure which forces all action; here is the impulse which brings
exertion whether as sensing or otherwise. A doctrine of spontaneity is
against the general law of development by struggle. It is certainly true
that, standing with my back to the stove and inadvertently coming in
contact, I, without any previous pain-pleasure impulse and without
exertion, have sense of touch, then pain. But this spontaneity is not
original factor; it is the result of inherited powers. When tactility
has become a well-developed power and is handed down to descendants,
then contact with things is immediately and spontaneously realized in
the form of touch, which contact would originally have been unnoticed.
That is, the severest condition—a red hot stove—would impress the lowest
psychism only in terms of mere pain, and so result in general reactions
of _minimum_ service. The early psychism which is just in process of
achieving sense of touch would have pain, and then with effort touch the
object and thus attain some more special reaction of more particular
service. But the tactile, like all sensing activity is anticipatory, it
is a finder, an interpreter. Suppose I bring a very fine needle toward
your eye, you may see it and avoid it; but suppose your eyes are shut
the eye comes in contact with the needle, and you have sensation of
touch; but you are sound asleep, then pricking sensation may wake you as
needle proceeds deeper, but in profoundest sleep undefined pain may be
the first consciousness to result. Now the needle might be so small as
to be seen with great difficulty by the waking man, or invisible, or to
be touched with great difficulty; but this stage of exertive action for
the sense is only relative, and in the history of mind the very grossest
forms were at one time only dimly seen by intensest effort, and lower
still, touched only by intensest effort. Seeing originated in looking,
and passive touch in active touch, as moved by interest or direct
pleasure-pain. Now pain is not in the mere sight or touch, but is
suggested by them. The whole order—seeing, touching, feeling prick,
feeling pain—is the reverse of evolution order. The rational mode, then,
of interpreting the origin of any sense, whether tactile, visual or
other, is not by receptivity, but through struggle at critical stage
when great pain is actual or imminent. Thus, if the conditions of life
required the development of a special sense of magnetism, it would
surely arise by strongest effort, as, indeed, all progress in special
sensitiveness is now being accomplished. Thus, the anticipatory and
premonitory function of sense does not make it original, rather the
contrary; it is guide and significant of pain-pleasure.

It is obvious that the cognitive tendency once established becomes an
instinct of objectivity and governs the whole mentality. This is
obviously the case with man. He does not exist in that sluggishness and
semi-consciousness where pain-pleasure must arise as primitive impulse,
but by habit and instinct he is passively and actively cognitive. The
eye is continually seeing things spontaneously, the hand touching, but
as to some very small object we have to exert effort to see or touch,
and this was undoubtedly the mode by which all seeing and touching
arose. It is because generations of ancestors actively sensed, that we
automatically sense; the tendency has become ingrained in mind. So it is
that man is predominantly sensing, is continually and naturally awake to
objective conditions, is constantly anticipatory, and so normally senses
before he feels pain-pleasure. However, a man in a “brown study,”
inadvertently touching a hot stove, has pain, then warmth, then touch
sensation, and actively realizes these. So in deep slumber mentality
often begins with pain-pleasure. At bottom the reason we have pain from
a sensing is because we had originally pain-impulse to that sensing, and
the pain therewith. Thus tactility, arising as effortful sensing, was
produced by pain from thing to be touched, to be sensed in its
experimental value. By innumerable painful experiences with hot things,
the hot thing is tactilily appreciated; and as touching is actively
pursued by organism on the alert, the associated pain is more and more
quickly realized from given object. In origin pain was felt from the hot
thing in contact, before either sense of warmth or contact was sensed;
it was this pain that forced to sensing and development of cognition,
which, however, ultimately became habit, and things were constantly
appreciated and anticipated. Thus the touch-warmth-pain order is
established. Sense is significant of pain-pleasure, but the
pain-pleasure came not at first from the sensing, but the contrary;
sensing was determined by it, and became correlated with it, and became
sign of it. The progress is from initial subjectivity to an instinctive
constant objectivity. This objectivity is reflected in all objective
expression as language; “the heat was painful,” “it hurt”; the “it”
being tactual thing, etc., etc. However, if we look for primitive
consciousness, we must find it only in primitive organisms in their
primitive stage, and in man most rarely only as tendency in profound
relapse. We must mark this, that cognition is not to be evolved out of
feeling, but at instance of feeling as impelling the knowing effort or

We may suppose that primitive consciousness still exists in the lowest
types of life, but it may also be the sub-consciousness in the higher
types. Viewed biologically, what is sub-consciousness?

The earliest living aggregations attain but a very slight degree of
common life, and very slowly do the cells, under the pressure of
serviceability in the struggle for existence, give up their independency
and become interdependent, each thereby giving up some functioning to be
done for it by others, and in turn functioning for others. Thus it is
but slowly that a stomach is specialised, the cells in general in the
organism long retaining and exercising some digestive function, which is
properly termed sub-digestion. In this way a soup bath gives
nourishment. If psychic function specializes gradually like other
functions, we shall have in the same way a sub-form here, a
sub-consciousness which stands for lower centres, and not for the whole
organism as such. The wider, higher, and more specialized psychic centre
does not at once extinguish the lower.

Now what is a _high_ organism but an involved series of combinations of
combinations? With every new integration a higher plane is achieved, and
the vital process has a wider functioning: but the physical or psychical
activity so far as it does not pass over into the service of the new and
higher whole remains as sub-function. With every new stage in evolution
the integrating psychic factors only partially lose themselves in
effecting a common psychism for the new whole, a sub-consciousness and a
sub-sub-consciousness, etc., are still carried on in survival. In man,
physiologically speaking, it is the brain consciousness which is
general. But we need not suppose this to extinguish all the lower
ganglionic consciousness from which and by which it arose. If psychic
function be correlative with other function, we must expect in man a
vast amount of survival sub-mentality which, while not the mind of the
man, is yet mind in the man. The individual knows necessarily only the
general consciousness, for this only is _his_ consciousness and
constitutes his individuality, yet the doctrine of evolution would call
for a vast deal of undiscoverable simple consciousness which never rises
to the level of the whole organism’s consciousness. A cell or a group of
cells may be in pain and yet there be no pain in the individual’s
consciousness, and so unknown to this general consciousness.

We have intimated that primitive consciousness may occur in a
sub-conscious way in the highest organisms. But can this
sub-consciousness ever be more than mere survival in its nature? or may
it play essential part as basis of higher manifestations? If the
integration of mentality is like other integration,—_e.g._ material
which is based on molecular and atomic activity—it will be bound up in
the activity of psychic units, which can be none other than
sub-consciousness. That is, any common or general consciousness when
looked at from below, and analytically is the dynamic organic whole of
elements; it is a product of activities which are on another plane from
itself. Roughly illustrated, I may say that my finger feels pain before
I do. We conceive that at a certain intensity a sub-consciousness tends
to rouse a general consciousness, and for a time maintain it; and losing
intensity, the general consciousness disappears leaving only the
sub-consciousness, which may long outlast the general form.

Sub-consciousness, whether as survival or basal, is put beyond our
direct observation, but it remains a necessary biological and
psychological hypothesis. Here is exemplified for psychosis that law of
the aggregation of units in hierarchical order, that wheel within wheel
structure of the universe, upon which I have touched in _Mind_, ix. pp.


The bearing of our studies on a theory of the conditions of
pleasure-pain is obvious. If we consider pure feeling as the primary,
fundamental, and conditioning mentality, it stands before all other
mentality, and cannot be interpreted as conditioned. Pain as _primum
mobile_ is not intrinsically dependent on any other psychosis. Hence we
run counter to the Herbartian School, which maintains that psychism
exists from the first for itself as intellectual ideational activity,
and that pleasure-pain is but reflex of the efficiency and ease, or the
inefficiency and difficulty of this activity. The checking of the
current of ideas may give a pain, but our exposition has been that pain
arose before ideas or presentations of any kind, and long before any
interference could be felt as pain.

Again, if we say “all pain comes from tension” (_Mind_, xii. p. 6), we
have to ask, Tension of what? If we say tension of sensation or
ideation, this is Herbartianism merely. How also can tension be felt as
painful, except through sensation of tension, which is a feeling of
intense sensation—obviously a late psychosis? And certainly pain is more
than a general consciousness fatigue. And further stress and strain
result in pain, because we imply these as painful activities by the very
notion of the words. A stress or strain is assumedly painful activity,
but this is not explanation. But apart from this, if the organism felt
pain merely as direct result of struggling and straining, it would cease
activity; activity and evolution would stop. It may be that by tension
is not meant a mode of consciousness, but of nervous or muscular
activity; but as we are now considering psychosis only as conditioning
pure feeling, we leave this aspect for discussion till a little later.
But on the psychical side, that all pain is a by-product of over-intense
consciousness, intellectual or volitional, that the origin and
development of pain is in a mental intensity which has gone beyond a
certain point, this seems, on general evolutionary grounds, unlikely.
Here, indeed, is merely a very particular and rather late mode of pain.
And may not pains themselves attain an intensity which is itself
painful? It must be acknowledged, however, that the whole doctrine as to
consciousness intensity, its nature, reactions, laws, and measurements
is very obscure.

Again, as to the theory that pleasure-pain is reflex of quantity of
consciousness, that pleasure results from mental expansion, pain from
mental contraction, this must, like the intensity theory, be considered
as putting a late and special form as covering all forms. Mentality here
exists for itself, and conscious self-development—a very late mode—is
presupposed. The promotion of large complete free consciousness, the
sense of progress and of unimpeded mental activity, certainly conveys
high joys to certain choice natures, but they do not touch the vast
majority of even human minds, much less animal. With the stolid an
expanding consciousness is painful. Consciousness only as conscious of
itself, and as self-developing, reaches a pleasure or pain as a felt
furtherance or hindrance of its own expansion.

All reflex theories take us above the realm of simple consciousness
acting directly for life, and this is the very form which seems
commonest, and which appears to be full of passing pleasures and pains.
That consciousness does react on itself in late phases is plain, but if
consciousness, like other functions, has developed from the extremely

Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 3 of 32)