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simple to the extremely complex, this self-reaction cannot be regarded
as primitive. Not till consciousness becomes integrated as a manifold
organism do pleasure and pain become prominent as reflexes. We are not
now looking for the functional value of pleasure and pain in mind itself
as an independent whole; but regarding its functional quality and that
of all mentality in life values, and here the functional meaning of such
reflexes is secondary. In mind, as organic continuous whole,
pleasure-pain is both resultant and excitant; it stands related to an
antecedent state and it is stimulant to following states. Its function
is excitant and it is the starting point of all other mentality, both
originally and in the later manifestation. The having pleasure-pain is
what starts both motor and cognitive volition.

It has, indeed, been maintained that while pleasure-pain is not a
product or concomitant of some psychosis, as sensation, it is itself a
sensation, a definite mode of sensibility. I have a pain sense just as I
have a temperature sense, I feel pain in the same way as I feel warm,
and by the analogous sensory nerves. With reference to this theory we
must ask, since sensation is correspondent to modes of objects, to what
mode is pain correspondent? Sense responds to modes of object, as light,
and sonorous vibrations; but pain is not based on any such mode of
objects. If pain were, there would have been long since a department of
physics, which would have treated that basis just as it treats light,
heat, sound, etc. But we all know that an object is not painful or
pleasing in the same way that it is warm or cold, heavy or light. I do
not say the stone feels heavy and painful, but I do say the stone feels
painfully heavy, that is feeling pain is not a state of awareness.
Further, having pain or pleasure is not by any sensing effort. I do not
try to feel pain as I try to see the light of a star or feel the warm
spot in a bar of iron. To be sure, the doctor asks his patient, “do you
feel any pain?” and after a moment’s delay the answer may be, “yes,” but
this is not in the nature of a sensing effort, but merely an
attentiveness to bodily conditions as affecting mental state, not an
objective attention but an analytical self-attention. Still further, a
neural basis for pleasure-pain is altogether likely, but even if these
nerves were found to be generally distributed over the body, this would
not prove sensation, but merely that pleasure-pain is functional
throughout the organism, diffusive organic consciousness. If
pleasure-pain is primitive, and neurality and mentality correlate, the
earliest nerve structure—ganglion—was a pleasure-pain organ. However,
the sensory motor predominance is so early and complete that the current
theory, as the more objective, is the natural physiologic

Again, it has been maintained that pleasure-pain is not a definite state
of consciousness, but a quality like intensity, a _modus_ which must
belong to all states. But if we assign pleasure-pain to such a category
as intensity we must define just what we mean by this category. Is
intensity a mere objective quality which we as observers assign to all
psychosis, just as we do to electrical or luminous phenomena? or is it
inherent element, an actual constituent, of every psychosis? If a man is
angry and becomes more angry, intensity is increased; but we may
conceive that he simply is more angry without being aware of this change
of intensity, that is without every change of intensity being noted by
consciousness. As introspection avers, it often happens that a man is
both unconscious of his anger and unconscious of its increase. As I have
frequently had occasion to note, simple natures are wholly unconscious
of their emotions and of their intensity variations. That is, as matter
of fact, intensity of feeling is not feeling of intensity. If you feel
warm you feel differently than when you feel warmer, but this is no more
than saying that when the iron is hot it is in a different state than
when it is hotter. Intensity means the same in both cases.
Consciousness, primitively, at least, is not self-awareness of its own
changes in intensity. The feeling warm and the feeling warmer occur
simply as facts which are subjectively unrelated and unmeasured by the
consciousness which has the varying intensities. I strike a cow
hard—result, intense pain; harder, more intense pain; this is
correlative with, I strike iron, intense tremor; harder, more intense
tremor. The cow experiences more intense pain, but does not consciously
measure it off as such. I can say, “I feel hotter than I did,” but the
cow does not appreciate and express its own sense of its experience. The
language fallacy leads us astray. By our very use of terms, warm and
warmer, and by our discussion of the matter, we imply a consciousness of
intensity which is far from being primitive or general. It would
probably be an overestimate to say that the intensity of one in a
thousand psychoses makes itself felt as such in consciousness.

That consciousness is not always conscious of its own intensity is then
shown by direct introspection. And in general we must observe that every
psychosis has its own intensity, which intensity may or may not be noted
by a consciousness of intensity. If there come a consciousness of
intensity, this consciousness has its own intensity, which may be noted
by a new consciousness, whose intensity may in like manner be noted by a
new consciousness, etc., _ad infinitum_. That is, a consciousness is
never its own intensity, and intensity is never a consciousness, such as
pain or pleasure, but is mere comparative objective quality.

Again, consciousness has almost from the first different degrees of
activity, but it would be most unlikely that so complex an act as
consciousness conscious of its own intensity should be primitive and
early. Also, if consciousness develops as life factor it must be
immediate utility which determines its early forms. Hence on this
general principle of biologic evolution it is most unlikely that
primitive organisms will both have consciousnesses and consciousness of
their intensity, for of what direct and vital value is this
intensity-consciousness as psychic mode? On the other hand it is
obviously desirable that psychoses should early differentiate intensity
as objective quality, _i.e._, without self-awareness of it, should have
different degrees of a psychosis to meet different degrees of
requirement; thus to fear strongly or weakly according to necessity of
the case. To have fear set at one pitch for all cases is perhaps
absolutely primitive, but differentiation is early. But to fear more or
less, _i.e._, at different intensities, is not to have intensity as
subjective element, an actual psychosis constituent appreciated as such,
which is very late evolution since the demand for it is late. In thus
defining the category of intensity we have plainly isolated it from the
pleasure-pain category. We know pleasure or pain as act of consciousness
just as we know volition or sensation. Pain and pleasure are definite
facts like seeing or touching or willing, and are so recognised by
common consciousness. One or the other may be involved in all
experience, but this does not make them general qualities like
intensity. Pain is a consciousness, intensity is not a consciousness.
This is the immediate value of the terms, the very names convey
distinctness of category. I have a pain, I do not have an intensity; I
am in pain, I am not in intensity. My pain is intense, but I cannot say
my intensity is painful. We experience pain and pleasure, but we never
experience intensity.

This _quale_ hypothesis as presented by Marshall in _Pain, Pleasure and
Aesthetics_, is set upon the dangerous foundation of ignorance, viz., of
the neural basis of pleasure-pain, and of causes of its variability. It
is as yet disputed whether a nerve organ for pleasure-pain has been
found; but if one is generally acknowledged, the theory would be
overthrown. Greater intensity in any psychosis, as sensation of warmth,
means simply greater nervous activity in the particular nerves
subserving the psychosis, in this case the temperature nerves. So also
pleasure-pain as general concomitant like intensity must mean merely
some general mode of nervous activity as yet unknown, if we allow it any
nervous basis at all. Again, the variability of pleasure-pain for a
given content, the fact that the taste of olives is at one time
pleasant, at another, unpleasant, suggests that pleasure-pain is like
intensity merely a general quality, which must in one form or another
attach to all psychoses. But this does not explain anything. What we
want to know is why in any given case we have pleasure and not pain; we
do not wish to be put off with a general statement that the nature of
pleasure-pain is such that we may have either, which is akin to the old
metaphysical method of abstract explanation; making the _rationale_ of
the lion leoninity is not unlike the hypothesis that explains
pleasure-pain in all its variations by variability as its nature. We
have a scientific faith that variability is not a general unexplainable
quality, but that there is for every case of pleasure-pain a definite
_rationale_ based in the facts of life demand and life history. That
olives now give pleasure, and now give pain, is based upon definite
conditions of physical state which are very complex, but which can be
revealed by patient research alone.

Any theory of pleasure-pain then from the point of view of pure
psychology, as explaining it by reference to other modes of
consciousness, is, we think, unsatisfactory. But perhaps the
physiological point of view will be more satisfactory. It is generally
considered that the function and origin of pain is in what is
unfavourable to physiological function, of pleasure, in what is
favourable. I cut my finger, and the pain says, stop the injurious
action. However, there are exceptions. I taste sugar of lead; it is
pleasant, and I keep on tasting, and am poisoned. Lotze explains that
this sweetness is immediately soothing and advantageous. “We must not
regard pleasure,” says Grant Allen, as “prophetic.” But what has been
the evolution of taste as sensing act except to be “prophetic,” to give
at the opening of the alimentary canal a monitor to the stomach and
other digestive organs? That it tastes sweet, that this taste is
pleasant, and so the substance is swallowed, or that it tastes bitter
and unpleasant, and the substance is rejected; this surely is
anticipatory and “prophetic.” The taste for sweetness is not evolved for
itself; but for its life value; and hence Lotze’s explanation fails from
the point of view of evolutionary psychology. The organic sweet is the
nutritious and beneficial, and the sensing this quality in connection
with these favourable and pleasant effects on the stomach and organism
as a whole has led to a taste and liking for sweetness. “Sweet and
wholesome” is the common and just conception. But if mineral sweets
injurious to life, like sugar of lead, had been a common environment,
and the only sweet known, this sweetness would have been as unpleasant
as the sour or acid now is. We see even now that sweets that have
several times caused nausea, though at first highly agreeable, come to
be distasteful and disgustful. We now find that sour and bitter
substances are disliked by animals in general as painful, for the sour
and bitter is general sign of the unwholesome; but those animals which
live almost exclusively on bitter herbs undoubtedly appreciate this
quality as we do a _bon bon_. Men lost in a desert by pertinaciously
tasting bitter herbs and becoming dependent upon them for support would
soon realize their bitterness as pleasant, and a race might originate to
whom sweetness would be unpleasant. Hence the value of a sensation does
not—in natural evolution—lie in itself, it is merely a guide and index;
and the sensation quality will be pleasant or unpleasant according to
its relation to the demands of life. A sensation is inherently either
pleasurable or painful, but not essentially one and not the other, hence
the proverb, _de gustibus non disputandum_. The sensing act in itself is
indifferent, _i.e._, sweetness and bitterness, purely as tastes, as
sensing acts, are indifferent; but as matter of fact having grown up
with and for pleasure-pain tones as indicative of life values, they are
either one or the other according to their relation to life. Where sense
serves not life but itself, as with the epicure, a new order of
pleasures and pains is determined which is not within our present scope
of discussion.

This variability of pleasure-pain tone of sensations even under natural
evolution shows that the main force at least of their pleasurability or
the contrary does not lie in the affection of the sense organ itself. If
a given sensation, for example, bitterness, were painful in all degrees
only because of its harmfulness to the sense organ, how could this
variability be explained? We consider that the tasting bitterness, for
example, arose through painful stomachic and bowel experience with herbs
which had this quality, and which by sensing efforts were so cognized at
length, and pain connected by its very origin with sense of bitterness,
which becomes in all degrees painful. The identifying the nutritiously
harmful weed by tasting its bitterness has the pain quality of its
effects, since the tasting has grown up in connection with its effects.
It is out of actual injurious and painful experiences that the organism
is led to put out sensing effort and to reach such a sensation as that
of a bitter taste whose pain value is mainly, at least, due to the
actual results of the substance lower down in the alimentary canal. A
sense of bitterness becomes disagreeable in all degrees, for in its
inception, when first sensed, it has its connection with the pain
effects which stimulate this sensing. To discriminate the unnutritious
or poisonous by tasting is a grand achievement, securing the rejection
at the very opening, the mouth of the alimentary canal, in place of
rejection by nausea from the stomach itself. The organism which could
only know that a certain substance was bad for it by very painful
nausea, now knows its badness by the comparatively painless tasting bad.
Whatever tastes bad, is bad.

The chief difficulty of the theory of bodily advantage and disadvantage
as conditioning pleasure and pain comes not from any such instance as
the sugar of lead phenomenon; but it lies in the fact that life
progressiveness, enlargement, specialization, that which is to the
highest profit of life, is uniformly reached only by painful struggle.
It is only by intense struggle, by supremest, painfullest effort, that
those new psychic forms are initiated and developed which are of the
utmost service to the organism. The act of adjustment to a new
circumstance is so extremely difficult and painful that it is attempted
by few and achieved by very few of any set of organisms. By an act of
most painful struggle the fittest survive; and the rest, the vast
majority, who could not key themselves to that pitch, perish. Adjustment
to the ordinary conditions is simply a free using of intelligence and
energy integrated and stored by ancestors when these conditions were new
to them. The adjustments which are so spontaneously made by new-born
animals as response to environment were once new, and secured and
integrated for inheritance by the most painful and persistent effort.
Such is the inertia and conservatism of life that while it moves
spontaneously in grooves already made, it does not rejoice in the toil
of real progress. The struggle by which the greatest life advances have
been accomplished has always been intensely painful in itself, whatever
the aftermath of pleasure may be, the pleasure of achievement and
creation, the satisfaction at successful effort, which is plainly a very
late psychosis.

The origin and place of pleasure is indicated by these considerations.
Though function is generated and developed by severest painfullest
struggle, yet the reward is pleasurability of the free functional
activity; and the more manifold the functioning built up, the more
manifold the pleasure. Thus it is that a highly complex organism like
man, which represents many psychic ages of painful function building,
has a very high pleasure capacity. Every new adaptation when integrated
means a new pleasure. It is pleasurable to inhale fresh, cool air, but
the lung functioning itself has been built up by painful exertion in the
struggle for existence. Pleasure as reflex of functioning is merely then
conserving power. The immediately and intrinsically pleasure-giving acts
are not progressive, but merely hold life at the given and already
acquired status. But the most and largest pleasure is in the mere
expenditure of stored energy. The easiest way, the way of inclination
and obvious direct pleasure is regressive. It is living upon the past,
living upon accumulated capital bequeathed, and perhaps in some measure
acquired. The use of a stimulant, as alcohol, enables the capital to be
used up faster. As the systemic craving becomes greater with the
drunkard, the pleasure increases, and on the brink of dissolution he may
reach the extremest pleasure. In alcoholism the more injurious the
drink, the more violent the pleasure. The most rapid and destructive
using up of vital force in lust, revenge and other excitements gives the
keenest pleasure. The orgy, the chase, the prize ring, give the
expensive “thrill,” which is ecstatic pleasure. Debauchery and
alcoholism are quick ways of using the pleasure capacity which has been
built up by painful effort of thousands of generations. A taste
sensation, which was achieved as the highest effort of genius by some
very remote ancestor at a critical moment and attained by painful
sensing exertion, is finally after generations of severe volition
integrated, and becomes spontaneous activity, and reactive as free
pleasurable functioning. That is, in the early stages of tasting the
pleasure taken in it was by discriminating effort, a pleasure realized
by exertion as pleasures of artistic “taste” are now enjoyed by many
people; which pleasure may at length be so inwrought into psychism that
it occurs spontaneously. At least, we have no other clue to the origin
of pleasures except by judging from the present development of definite
pleasures in the case of man, which pleasures come only by effortful
cultivation, for instance, the highest pleasures of art. The whole range
of sense pleasures have been built up and capacity therefore has been
inherited, and may be used up with great intensity.

The largest and keenest sort of pleasures is from expenditure. Yet
storage in certain modes yields a moderate pleasure, as the pleasure of
rest, dozing after exercise. Here is a general spontaneous accumulation
of physical pleasure capacity, it is a case where functional repair has
become automatic, and thus far is analogous to the spontaneity of
pleasures of expenditure. But these storage pleasures are mainly
negative, relief only; and they are not the great positive corporeal
pleasures which are so largely sought. The drunkard gradually recovering
from a spree experiences feelings of relief, but he does not indulge in
his cups to feel the gradual recovery from the painful after effects.

No biologic or psychologic theory of pleasure and pain can yet be
enunciated which is fully explanatory. In fact, if pleasure-pain is the
primitive and fundamental fact, if it constitutes the worth of life and
is life, then it must explain other factors, but remain itself
unexplained. The theory of advantage and disadvantage fails signally,
for the most pleasurable act is frequently the most disadvantageous to
the interests of the organism, and the most advantageous—progressive
effortful volition—is invariably most painful. As to why the way of
conservation and upbuilding should be painful, why pleasure should not
be inherent in the progressive struggle rather than pain, is, at least
for the present, a philosophical problem; but the fact remains. We have
considered that struggle is pain-impelled and painful, and that pleasure
is resultant of functioning thereby established, and that all pleasure
capacity is painfully acquired. With the grand exception of this
singular and important fact, however, we can say that in natural
evolution—that is, before mind has become independent and artificial and
subjected itself to pathologic tendencies—the general law that pleasure
denotes favouring organic conditions, pain, unfavourable, may be
assumed. However, if the body is mere dependency and expression of mind,
the form of statement must be reversed; that is, a given pain or
pleasure is an acquirement by mind in its function building. I have
painful taste sensation of bitter, pleasant sensation of sweet, not as
originally reflex of bodily conditions, but the sensing power and the
organ, like all bodily specialization, is outcome of mind as struggle. A
typical consciousness—series of a low type which places pleasure in its
place is: pain (as from hunger)—struggle-sensing (as touching for
food)—desire (when food is recognised through sensing)—absorptive and
digestive effort and action—pleasure—struggle to continue and increase
pleasure—slight satiety pain—unconsciousness of sleep. So we do not
connect pleasure-pain as outcome of organic function in general or
particular, but function is outcome of pleasure-pain. It determines
function, and not function it. The feelings which prompted and developed
a functioning, and the correlate total—organism—necessarily involve a
very high complex, at least for any late psychism, and make a general
law of pleasure-pain impossible to determine under present conditions.
The _rationale_ of particular pleasures and pains can only be reached
through a thorough investigation of life history, an investigation which
in present circumstances seems in most cases beyond our powers. A great
mass of psychological _data_, and not any general theory, is the


Should the term Feeling be made to include certain states of
consciousness which are neither pleasurable nor painful? Or should all
such neutral states be designated by some other term? We are concerned
here with an important matter of definition which implies an extensive
analysis of consciousness with reference to pleasure and pain. It will
not be difficult to find many so-called feelings which are neutral, or
seem to be so; but it is the duty of the psychologist to carefully
analyse all such states, and point out the proper use of the term

Common observation neglects minute analysis, and is unreliable when it
speaks of certain indifferent states as feelings. When a man speaks of
feeling queer, or strange, or bewildered, or surprised, and says that
the state of mind seemed neither agreeable nor disagreeable, we may
suspect that by a perfectly natural tendency he is extending the name
Feeling to closely-connected states of cognition or will. In
identification and definition common observation is for all sciences
notoriously untrustworthy, and especially in psychology; so on this
question the evidence of language and popular testimony counts for
little one way or the other. This is strikingly evident when people
speak of feeling indifferent as to some matter, meaning that they have
no feeling on the matter. The term Feeling is used in such a broad and
vague way that ‘I feel indifferent’ means ‘I am indifferent,’ ‘I have no
feeling.’ The mistake here is in using the word Feeling as an equivalent
to Ego, or any quality of Ego. A feeling of indifference is no feeling
at all. Popular evidence then, I believe, can be no guide in this
matter. In passing, I may also say that the very abundant use of analogy
by some writers on this subject seems to me ill-advised. Analogy does
very well to bring up the rear, but it is often very useless and
confusing as an advance-guard.

Prof. Bain (_Mind_, No. 53) insists that ideas tend to actualise
themselves by neutral intensity or excitement, which is feeling; or
rather, he says, a “facing-both-ways condition.” This last expression is
certainly not very helpful or satisfactory. Prof. Bain admits that

Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 4 of 32)