Hiram M. (Hiram Miner) Stanley.

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pure feeling sets in. As heat stimulus is increased, sense of heat
begins at a certain point, and increases up to a certain intensity of
the stimulus and to a certain intensity of its own, when it rapidly
vanishes, and in the agony on the verge of unconsciousness is lost in
pure pain. We note also that the cognition of object, of thing,
disappears before the sensation of heat does. A person burning to death
is for a time conscious of the fire, which consciousness at length is
lost in intense painful sensations of heat; and this in turn, at the
acme of consciousness entirely disappears, leaving only pure pain.
Further, the rise to full consciousness, as well as the fall to
unconsciousness, also suggests bare sensation as the original cognition.
If a hot iron be applied to one in deep sleep, the order of waking
consciousness—apart from any dream order—is pure pain, then sensation of
heat, then awareness of hot object, and also of part heated and paining.
In our ordinary consciousness it is certainly very hard to even
partially isolate the various elements. Sometimes, however, a person
will say, “I have such a queer pain; I do not know what it is.” The
psychosis thus indicated is evidently pain with a movement towards a
sensation which yet is not realized. Sensation does not come though it
is looked for; there is pain only, and unqualified save by the
peculiarity of being unidentified. The sense of lack of sensation
bewilders, because sensation is so constant for our psychic life; but in
primitive mind there is no such feeling of queerness when sensation does
not _come_, or it is not able to _attain_ it. This inwrought tendency to
sense all our pains and pleasures, and to feel the lack if we do not, is
evidently the result of a long evolution. Sensation is thus seen to be
an activity which we exercise to give definition to our pure feelings;
there is something unfulfilled for us if sensation does not _come_, and
we may thus go out for it and interpret the pain in sense form by a
will-effort. Primitive mind, however, does not achieve its sensations as
incited by this indefinite sense of lack-queerness or strangeness, but
through pain at some critical moment to obtain a suitable reaction. All
sensation is at first, as we even now can faintly realize, by a severe
effort, and is not a spontaneous, incoming impression. Paradoxical as is
the expression, “we learn to know,” yet it contains a truth in that
cognition is an attainment incited by the necessities of the organism.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and knowledge is at first an
invention which the organism hits upon to help it in the exigencies of
experience. In early and even in later consciousness it is probable that
the majority of pleasures and pains are so dull in intensity that they
do not rouse sensation, and comparatively few incite as far as to
perception. A close analysis of our own consciousness even will show
many pleasures and pains, many vague states of uneasiness and
discomfort, and many of organic pleasure and comfort, which lead to
nothing and come to nothing for either sensation or perception. These
states stand alone by themselves, and vanish with little effect on
either mind or body. They constitute the outer fringe of consciousness
where all mentality starts, and under sufficient pressure of
life-interest develops into great fulness and complexity, or, when of
comparatively little value to the organism, they disappear suddenly and
completely. I am inclined also to think that close scrutiny will
sometimes reveal for psychical life, as for the physical, certain
entirely useless survivals, undifferentiated feelings of some types, and
probably also some pure sensations.

I conceive then that the fundamental order of consciousness is not, as
usually set forth, pure sensation with accompanying pleasure and pain,
but the reverse—pure pleasure and pain with accompanying sensation; and
only by a very gradual evolution indeed did pure feeling bring in
sensation, which is thus always sequent and not accompaniment. We
commonly inquire as to a sensation, Was it pleasurable or painful? but
the true form of inquiry is, Was the pain or pleasure senseful? Did it
attain to bringing in the qualifying element of a sensation, and in what

The qualifying of pure feeling to attain actions suitably differentiated
for distinct forces must have proceeded very slowly, and have had the
dimmest beginning. We cannot suppose that consciousness attained at once
and easily to a manifold of sense, much less have had this brought to
it, involuntarily received. The earliest forms of sensations were no
doubt of those affections of the body produced by heat, pressure, and
other elements which determine most vitally the existence of the
organism. The first sensation indeed was undoubtedly not in any
particular mode, but was a bare and undifferentiated form. It was some
such indefinite and general sensation as we may sometimes detect near
the vanishing-point of consciousness just before pure pain state occurs.
For example, the sense of heat as such is lost at a given temperature
for a given case, and there exists for a moment a vague general
sensation, sensation _per se_, before mere pain absorbs all
consciousness. Sensation at its very origin was not sense of any kind,
sense of heat, pressure, etc., but a mere undifferentiated sense of
bodily affection. The body is not, of course, apprehended as object, but
there is a vague attributing and qualifying which marks the state as
more than purely central, as being a real objectifying. Toothache, for
instance, implies ache before the toothache, and this general aching is
the type of early unorganized sensation. Pain is the essence of the
state, and is throughout dominant, the cognition in mere aching being a
very minor element. “I was awakened in the night by a toothache,” is the
objective description of a triple movement in consciousness, pain, ache,
toothache. The earliest cognitive experiences were all of this very
general type of sensation, which becomes gradually more definitely
localized and qualified as distinct modes of sensation; pain-hunger,
pain-heat, pain-pressure, and corresponding pleasure-sensations are
differentiated. Subtract the mere pain from hunger state and from
painful sensation of heat, and we have certain _quales_ which are
difficult to analyse, but which are cognitive in nature. Diverse bodily
affections are _sensed_ diversely instead of being _felt_ in one mode,
pure feeling.

We have far outgrown the sensation-cognition psychic stage, and speaking
of psychic history in biologic terms, it belongs to the early palæozoic.
We have yet to formulate the succession of psychic ages, in each of
which some distinct psychic power attains dominancy, and produces minds
as diverse from ours as the organisms of past ages are different from
our own bodies. As already pointed out, it is an extremely difficult
problem to realize by subjective method these ancient types. A mere
general sensation is a very rare phenomenon in our ordinary
consciousness, and even special sensations rarely occur in pure form. To
realize what sensation of heat is for a simple consciousness, we must
strip our minds bare of most of their furnishings, for all our
sensations of heat are interpreted with reference to visual and tactual
objects which must be non-existent for early consciousness. Sensation
for us is a complex of sensations _plus_ perceptions and other cognitive
and emotional elements which lie beyond early mind, but which by an
inevitable automorphism we interpret into early forms. This automorphism
with the child is complete, and is never perfectly effaced even in the
most accomplished psychologist. A life of simple feeling, or of this
_plus_ simple sensation is most difficult of realization; still we may
have reason to believe that the psychic life of a low type consists
wholly in repeated pains and pleasures occasionally rising so high that
consciousness reaches to a vague general sensation, or rarely to a
thrill of heat, or sense of hunger or pressure. Of course, in all cases
we assume will-activity.

And we have to emphasize this again, that all sensation, like all pain,
while always from objects is never of objects. The objective description
here, as usual, does not give the inner state. Our automorphic tendency
leads us inevitably to regard the order in which we perceive the
organism to be effected by external objects to be its received order.
But a little reflection always convinces us that this is in the nature
of the case an erroneous procedure, that what happens within
consciousness is not primarily any cognition of a world of objects, nor
an apprehension of them in any form. Sensation, while objective by
virtue of being cognition, is not in any way a realization of object,
but is objective only toward the dynamic within the individual organism,
and is not apprehension of static wholes of any kind. It is an
objectifying to force, not to things, and this in the modes of
physiological affection. It is not appreciation of a something, but of a

In the earliest stage of mind, as has been before noticed, all manner of
material causes rouse nought more than a pure feeling mode; heat,
pressure, electricity, sound, light, nutriment or its absence, if they
attain to waken the function of consciousness, accomplish no more than
pure feeling as bare pain and pleasure. It is, of course, natural to
conceive that from the first consciousness, responds objectively in
sensation in as many modes as organism is moved by external and internal
forces; but a multiform sense origin of consciousness is not borne out
by the general tendency and law of evolution, nor yet by such special
indications in consciousness as we are able to observe. When a very
young infant seems to reach pleasurably to warmth, if we are correct in
positing consciousness at all, it is still very unlikely that there is
sense of warmth, but the state is probably pure pleasure; and if there
is sense of warmth, it did not give the pleasure, but the reverse. We
believe likewise that it is probable that a consciousness response to
nutriment is, at first, mere pleasure, and only, secondarily, organic
sensation. Thus, warmth and nutriment effect, but only, at first, in the
one mode of pure feeling, and secondly, pure sensation as general
organic satisfaction. Lastly arises a differencing in consciousness for
the different bodily changes. And the multiformity of stimulus and
paucity of consciousness in modes while so very apparent in early mind
is yet always found in all grades of psychic life. The responsiveness of
consciousness is never perfected, and mind has a practically infinite
field for the acquirement of sensation, for appreciating what has never
affected consciousness, or which mind has felt or known only by some
general mode. The infant, no doubt, has many pains for which it has no
sensation values. These pains, perfectly pure and undifferentiated the
one from the other, have had their occasion in a variety of physical
changes. A native of the tropics, who on first touching ice says it
burns, has at first but a single sensation for very diverse physical
affections; but he soon attains an icy sensation, that ice feels not
burning, but stinging cold. Men, civilized and educated, often are
consciously affected by bodily changes of which they are wholly
incognizant, the psychosis being not specialized according to the mode
of change. In degraded states of consciousness, which come to all, there
often appears obscure feeling and sensation, which is a practically
single mode of answer to a very wide variety of physical excitation. In
realizing the variety of external objects and changes the mind proceeds
but slowly, each new form always at first in pure feeling. It is only as
something affects feeling and interest that we ever come to know it or
its manifestations in physiological change.

Sensations are, then, by no means such original and simple elements of
mind as often conceived; but they are developed forms of some general
undifferentiated cognitive state, sensation as bare apprehension of
bodily disturbance, and this itself cannot be accounted absolutely
original. The evolution into particular modes of sensation, as sense of
heat, hunger, light, pressure, etc., is in the struggle for existence
gradually achieved, and also therewith the evolution of special
sense-organs. And we must always bear in mind that it is not the
sense-organ that develops the sensation, but on the contrary the effort
at sensing that produces, maintains, and improves the sense-organ. The
eagle’s eye has been developed by unceasing straining as incited by the
necessities of existence felt in pain and pleasure. It is natural for us
at our stage of development to suppose that the organs of sense _give_
sensations and to explain the sensation by the physiological organ; but
when we reflect that sensations _come_ to us from the organ only up to
the measure of the momentum from heredity, we see the insufficiency of
purely physiological interpretation. Evolution to-day is on the same
basis as evolution at any period, and as it always has been, it always
will be, dependent upon a ceaseless _nisus_. It is only by painstaking
effort—labour—that man progresses in sensibility, and this effort has
always an incentive in some form of interest that is pleasure-pain
basis. Thus it is that the astronomer’s eye, the microscopist’s eye, the
artist’s eye, is formed. The multiform sensibility of the tea-taster is
attained by assiduous tasting, and the development in organ only follows
_pari passu_. What is seemingly simple and original in sensation for us
was, no doubt, like the very special forms of sensibility acquired by
our specialist, achieved by the lower forms painfully and toilfully, and
passed on to us. Our highest feats of sensation and insight may likewise
for our remote descendants be intuitions, whose apparently simple nature
may be asserted as the basis of philosophic systems. A genius is one who
antedates the general stage of progress of his period by having as
intuitions, as seemingly direct and simple knowledges and sensations,
what is beyond or barely within the intensest effort of his
contemporaries, though it may become common and easy for all men of
later ages.

The moving factors, the active agents in the evolution of consciousness,
are not, I think, sense-impressions of any kind; these are the results,
rather than the incentives, of mental evolutions. Mind acquires its
whole sense outfit, and receives no cognition whatever ready-made. It is
hard, indeed, for us to put ourselves at the point of view of
acquirement of what seem to us simple impressions of sense; but the
difficulty is only of the same general nature as to understand how what
seem to be direct perceptions of things in space are really indirect.
The progress of psychology will, in my opinion, tend to show more and
more that _givens_ of all kinds are such in appearance only, and that
mind in its essence is purely a feeling-effort.

The differentiation of action secured through sensation and its
differentiations is evidently of the utmost importance to life, but
still the objectivity secured is small. In the pure feeling stage,
reaction is a very hit-and-miss affair, and in pure sensation stage it
is but little better. Guided only by present sensations, the organism in
the struggle for existence is blind to all objects, and, knowing not
itself nor other objects, anticipatory action is entirely beyond its
power. The growth of mind is to secure delicacy and precision of
adjustment with largest time and space extension, and the achievement of
objectification was a _tour de force_ of the highest value. The
exigencies of life-struggle lead comparatively early from cognition of
mode of affection to the cognition of thing affecting. Perception arises
to supplement sensation, and full objectification opens the way for
intelligent activities. Thing or object is first, no doubt, apprehended
tactually; but the sense of touch is, of course, acquired before
cognition of thing touched. We, indeed, find it difficult to appreciate
this, since in touch we constantly apprehend things as in contact with
us; still, if in some very sluggish state, as deep sleep, when the
varied and correlated life of sensation with perception is practically
_nil_, a rough object be made to bear upon the body as a lump in the
mattress, it is evident that consciousness begins as bare pain, then
general uneasiness as bare general sensation, then sense of touch, and
finally cognition of object by means of and through the touch sensation.
The sense of thing touched follows on sense of touch. This general order
may be illustrated from a squib in a comic paper of the day. A swell
finding a friend sitting by an open window on a cold day asks him if he
does not feel cold. He answers, “Ya-as; I guess I do. I knew theah was
something the mattah with me; I suppose it must be cold.” The threefold
movement in this noodle’s mind as evidenced by his words, is, first,
feeling pain; second, a something the matter, _i.e._, general sensing
and objectifying thereupon; third, particularizing to feeling cold. He
has simply gone back to primitive process. Touch or other sensation is
in itself no more than an objectification of physiological change, and
calls up no object whatever. In pure sensation there is no image of
anything, but it is merely a peculiar modifying of pleasure-pain
according to mode of physiological stimulus. A heat thrill does not
include objectification to any existences, not even to the physical body
of the organism sensing.

It is only by and through sense of physiological disturbance that
awareness of object is achieved. Intense sensation stimulates to full
cognition, to complete act of objectifying. This tendency of sensation
is illustrated by the common saying, “hunger sharpens wit”; and certain
it is that presentation of food objects is arrived at only by this
stimulus. The earliest objectifying, no doubt, arose from a
pain-sensation of some kind; but this primitive cognition of object was
purely general, just as primitive sensation was purely general. A world
of objects is not at first and at once attained, but only object barely
as such, dim awareness of a mere mass. In the earliest stage every
presentation is of a bare objectivity, so that one cognition differs
from another in no wise as regards content. This mere thing, which is
first full cognition content, is next to no-thing. When we try to
conceive this thing we inevitably foist in some special sensation and
perception, most generally sense of light and seeing; and the
explication just made in the previous sentence was undoubtedly
understood by the reader in visual terms. Our apprehension of object is
correlation of several modes, and it is most difficult to intimate in
any wording what bare undifferentiated apprehension of object may be. If
the embryology of mind were more thoroughly studied, we should
understand in some measure, for this stage most probably occurs in the
very earliest activities of every human and animal mind. A _totum
objectivum_, which is thing and nothing more, is, perhaps, occasionally
observable in our own consciousness when at very low ebb—at such times
when pure feeling and pure sensation become possible phases.

This general, undifferentiated cognition of object and all the special
forms therefrom developed must always be accounted as coming about in no
spontaneous way, but as attained and supported through will activity of
an intense form. Perception of object is not in any true sense impressed
from without, nor yet in any true sense is it a native faculty or power.
It is not more or less freely constructed out of more or less given
data. It is the necessities of life that bring mind to achieve full
cognition; and this alone is the first cause of cognition, which is
always in its inception cognitive effort toward objective realities,
towards a world of things. These objects, among which and in close
relation to which some single object, organism, must live—this is the
common postulate of all biologic science, psychology included—constitute
a world. The living object is such by virtue of the simplest
consciousness, a feeling-will, as absolutely essential to any
advantageous action. It is by this root-form, feeling-will, that
cognition is ultimately accomplished, and not by virtue of any
imprinting of objects upon mind as in some measure a _tabula rasa_, nor
yet in any purely subjective construction of object. Object is revealed
neither from without nor from within; it is achieved solely as a guide
to advantageous action in the struggle for existence. Of course, the
mind does not knowingly reach knowledge, does not foreknow it and its
advantage in order to attain it; this is a contradiction in terms, and
profects backward a highly refined teleology. All we do at present is to
simply assume it as law that serviceable consciousnesses, cognition and
others, are inevitably attained in the stress of existence. For the
science of psychology, metaphysics apart, this is the best standpoint,
and all we can now say. The confirmation of an organism’s activity,
cognitive and otherwise, as serviceable, is in feeling pain and
pleasure, which is the original mode in which objects excite
consciousness or consciousness reacts to them. It is in feeling as the
starting point that cognition is determined and maintained. We cannot
scientifically speak of any mental process as native, that is, mind
itself is not native. By the very term original we exclude inborn. The
first consciousness occurred, it was merely event, useful event; and if
we further say it was acquired, we probably say what agrees best with
biology as a whole. It is impossible at present to discuss whether or
not mind may be a primitive vital function, for where life begins or
ends is itself a most obscure problem; but whether it be primary or
secondary, mind in no form is properly native, that is a pure given, but
we simply say the function is displayed, as we speak of nutrition or
reproduction. In the organism we see something which has nutritive,
reproductive, motor processes, perhaps also consciousness processes; and
so far as there is any problem as to the nature of consciousness as
native function it belongs to a general biologic problem. As to the
question as to whether cognition or what cognitions are original and
simple in all mind, we have already excluded the whole field of
cognition from this position.

Does the general objectification, the first stage in cognition of
object, have any special function for the developed presentation forms
of later consciousness? Mr. Ward, in his suggestive article in the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, seems to intimate that it has. He says (p.
50), "Actual presentation consists in this _continuum_ being
differentiated and every differentiation constitutes a new
presentation.“ Mr. Ward in this connection sets forth that
presentation-continuity in consciousness is determined by a
presentation-continuum which is ”_totum objectivum_." Presentation
activity is fundamentally a differentiating of this constant element. We
might compare this _continuum_ to an ocean from whose surface rise
waves, particular presentations, which subside again into the parent
sea, which ever remains as the constant basis of all wave movements.

Now the question of _continua_ is a very broad one. Do the early stages
of consciousness, pure feeling, pure sensation, pure objectivity, remain
as constituting the basic bulk of all higher consciousness, and is all
higher consciousness but differentiation of these as well as from these,
that is, is it no more than differentiating activity kept up on a vast
series of levels and sub-levels? Or are we to regard them as regressive
stages to which developed consciousness rarely returns? May we consider
that there is a certain histology of mind, that certain primitive forms,
like tissues in the body, constitute the inner and constant structure of

The theory of _continua_, be it observed, in its fulness requires a
numberless series of levels and sub-levels supporting one another, for a
high form of consciousness pre-supposes an indefinite series of
antecedent stages. While any highly differentiated consciousness is
going on it must be an actual differentiating of the preceding stage,
which is therefore coincident and pre-existent to it, and this latter in
turn must have its supporting continuum, and so on down _ad infinitum_.

Online LibraryHiram M. (Hiram Miner) StanleyStudies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling → online text (page 6 of 32)