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in the interests of the theory of evolution, the exceptions
become still more numerous, and the asserted coincidence
between immediate pleasure and ultimate profit in the struggle
for existence can only be maintained by the introduction of
so many qualifications to meet each conflicting instance,
that our confidence in the universality of the alleged law, and
in the deductions derived from it, is seriously diminished.
Still the broad fact observed by Aristotle, and reiterated by
Christian philosophers from the earliest times, that pleasure
in general accompanies energies in harmony with the well-
being of the organism whilst pain results from what is
injurious cannot be gainsaid.

Readings. — For Aristotle's theory of Pleasure and Pain, see his
Ethics, Lib. X. cc. i — 5; St. Thomas, Comment. \\. i — g; Farges,
Le Cerveau, 6-c., pp. 412 — 419 ; and Hamilton, Metaphysics, 'Led. xliii.
The fullest exposition of the scholastic doctrine is given by M. J.
Gardair, Les Passions et la Volontc, pp. 117 — 190. On Feeling, cf.
Jungmann, Das Gemiith, §§ 53 — Co, 83, seq.



PSYCHOLOGY.



Book I.

Empirical or Phenomenal Psychology.
Part II. — Rational Life,



CHAPTER XII.

INTELLECT AND SENSE.

Erroneous Views. — Hitherto we have been treating
mainly, though not exclusively, of the sensuous
faculties of the mind ; we now pass on to the
investigation of its higher activities, and we at once
find ourselves in conflict with a number of philoso-
phical sects, ancient and modern, variously des-
cribed as Sensationists, Associationists, Materialists,
Phenomenists, Positivists, Empiricists, Evolutionists,
who differing among themselves on many points
agree in the primary dogma that all knowledge is
ultimately reducible to sensation. According to
them the mind possesses no faculty of an essentially
supra-sensuous order. All our most abstract ideas,
as well as our most elaborate processes of reasoning,
are but sensations reproduced, aggregated, blended,
and refined in various ways.



230 RATIONAL LIFE.



Terms explained. — These several names emphasize
special characteristics which are, however, all consequences
of the chief doctrine. The word sensationalism^ and its
cognates, mark the attempted anal3'sis of all cognition into
sensation. Materialism points to the fact that on the sensist
hypothesis we can know nothing but matter, and that there
is no ground for supposing the human mind to be anything
more than a function or a phase of an organized material
substance. PJienomenism calls attention to the circumstance
that by sense alone, and consequently according to the
sensational theory of knowledge, we can never know anything
but phenomena — the sensuous appearances of things. This
is the fundamental tenet of Positivism. We must cease from
all aspirations after Metaphysics or knowledge of ultimate
realities and confine our efforts to positive science — that is the
ascertainment of laws observable in phenomena. Empiricism
(e/x7reipta, experience) accentuates the assumption of this
school that all our mental possessions are a product of
purely sensuous experience. The stress laid by its leading
representatives in this country on the principle of mental
association has caused them to be styled the Associaiionalist
school. All psychologists who assume the Evolutionist hypo-
thesis to apply to the human mind without qualification or
reserve, as e.g. James and Mark Baldwin, even if they differ
in some points from the older sensationists, are practically at
one with them here.

Intellect essentially different from Sense. — In

direct opposition to this theory we maintain that the
mind is endowed with two classes of faculties of
essentially distinct grades. Over and above Sensibility
it possesses the power of Rational or Spiritual Activity.
The term IntcUect, with the adjective Intellectual, was
formerly retained exclusively to denote the cognitive
faculty of the higher order. The word Rational also
designated the higher cognitive operations of the mind,
but it frequently expressed all forms of spiritual
activit}^ as in the phrases Rational Will and Rational
Emotions. The term Reason is used sometimes to signify
the total aggregate of spiritual powers possessed by
man,i sometimes to mean simply the intellectual power

'^ In this general sense the possession of reason is said to separate
man from the brute. Kant means by Reason {Vernunft) the power
of immediately apprehending truth by iniuiticn, whilst Understand-



INTELLECT AND SENSE. 231

of understanding, and sometimes to express the parti-
cular exercise of the understanding involved in the
process of ratiocination, or reasoning. Reasoning and
Understanding do not, however, pertain to different
faculties. The former is but a series of applications, a
continuous exercise of the latter. The Rational Appetite
or Will is itself a consequence of the same power, so we
must look upon Intellect as the most fundamental of
the higher faculties of the soul. The words Intellect
and Intellectual we intend to retain exclusively for this
superior grade of mental life, and we shall thus avoid
the lamentable confusion caused by the modern use of
these terms as signifying all kinds of cognition, whether
sensuous or rational.

So far, however, we have merely asserted a differ-
ence in kind between Sense and Intellect ; it is now our
duty to prove our doctrine. By affirming the existence
of a faculty specifically distinct from that of sense, we
mean to hold that the mind possesses the power of
performing operations beyond the scope of sense. We
maintain that many of its acts and products are distinct
in kind from all modes of sensibility and all forms of
sensuous action whether simple or complex ; and that
no sensation, whatever stages of evolution or trans-
formation it may pass through, can ever develope into
thought. We have already investigated at length the
sentient life of the soul, and to it we have allotted the
five external senses, internal sensibility, imagination,
sensuous memory, and sensitive appetite. The supe-
riority of the spiritual life over these sensuous activities
will be established by careful study of the nature and
formal object of its operations.

Proof of doctrine. — Intellect we may define broadly
as the faculty of thought. Under thought we include
attention, judgment, reflexion, self-consciousness, the

ing {Verstand) is for him the source of the generalizations of thought.
Such a usage is still, however, contrary to ordinary language in
this country. The verb to reason and the participle reasoning show
that this term denotes not the contemplative, but the discursive
activity of the intellect. First truths are apprehended by the
understanding.



232 RATIONAL LIFE.



formation of concepts, and the processes of reasoning.
These modes of activit}' all exhibit a distinctly supra-
sensuous element ; and in order to bring out the differ-
ence between intellect and sense, we shall sa}' a few
words on each of these operations. We shall begin with
some observations on attention as the most convenient
introduction to the study of intellectual activity in
general, although the strictly supra-sensuous character
of Intellect is more clearly presented in some of the
other functions, especially in that of conception. We
shall however undertake a fuller investigation of atten-
tion in a future chapter.

Attention. — By attention is here meant the special
direction of the higher cognitive energy of the mind
towards something present to it ; or in scholastic
language appUcatio cogitationis ad ohjectum. The w'ord is
sometimes used in a vague sense to signif}^ the fact ol
being more or less vividly conscious of the action ot
any stimulus ; but in its strict signification it implies a
secondary act, an interior reaction of a higher kind
superadded to the primitive mental state. When from
a condition of passive sensibility to impressions we
change to that of active attention, there comes into
play a distinctly new factor. In the former state the
mind was wholly excited and aw-akened from without,
in the latter it presents a contribution from the
resources of its own energy. In this exercise of
attention an additional agency which reacts on the
existing impressions is evoked into life, and aspects
and relations implicit in the orginal impressions are
apprehended in a new manner. The mind grasps and
elevates into the region of clear consciousness hitherto
unnoticed connexions which lie beyond the sphere of
sense. It fixes upon properties and attributes and holds
them steadily up for separate consideration, while the
uninteresting qualities are for the time ignored.

This complementary phase of attention by which
the neglected features are ignored is called by modern
writers abstraction. It is the necessary counterpart of
the former. By the very act of concentrating our
mental energy on certain aspects of an object we turn



INTELLECT AKD SENSE. 233



away from others. Both the positive and the negative
side of the activity manifest its difference from sense.
Thus, suppose an orange has been lying on the table
before me. I have for some time been conscious of its
presence, but I have not specially directed my attention
towards it. Now, however, some circumstance or other,
a thought originating within the mind or a movement
without, awakens the intellect, and immediately the
object has a new reality for me. I advert to the shape
of the fruit, and, abstracting from its remaining proper-
ties, I notice its likeness to otlier objects described as
spherical. Again my attention centres on its colour,
and I compare its similarity in this respect with other
things present or absent. In like manner I may think
of its weight, its probable taste or smell, and compare
it under any of these respects with other fruits, neglect-
ing for the time all the rest of its attributes, or I niay
consider the object as a unity, a ivhole, a thing distinct
from other beings. Further, whilst attending to one
attribute apart I am fully aware of the existence of
others in the concrete object present to my mind. I
am quite conscious that the separation is purely mental,
and that the object of my thought does not exist in this
ideal and abstract manner in itself, or a parte rei. Now
in all these operations something more is implied than
sensation. A sensation can neither attend to itself nor
consciously abstract from particular attributes, and it
can still less apprehend relations between itself and its
fellows.

Comparison and Judgment— But when exercised
in explicitly comparative and Judicial acts, the supra-
sensuous nature of attention is even more clearly
manifested. We fix upon a certain attribute of two
or more objects, and comparing the objects pronounce
them to be alike or unlike in this feature. This judgment
is evidently distinct from the sensation or image of
either object, though it presupposes sensations or
images of both. It implies, in fact, a mental act
distinct from the related impressions by which the
relation subsisting between them is apprehended in
an abstract manner. To affirm that the taste of a



234 NATIONAL LIFE.



certain claret is like that of sour milk, or that the earth
resembles an orange, there is required in addition to the
pair of compared ideas a superior force which holds
them together in consciousness, and discerns the
relation of similarity between them. Neither the
mere co-existence, nor still less the successive occurrence
of two impressions, could ever result in the perception
of a relation between them, unless there be a third
distinct activity of a higher kind to which both are
present, and which is capable of apprehending the
common feature.^ A change in our feelings or sensuous
consciousness is possible, and as a matter of fact, often
takes place without the act of intellectual attention
which gives rise to the judgment. For the consistent
sensationalist, who necessarily dissolves the mind into
a series of conscious states devoid of all real unity, not
only is the conviction of personal identity throughout
our life a hallucination, but even the simplest act of
comparison effected between two successive ideas is a
sheer impossibility.

Necessary Judgments. — Among judgments in general,
which exemplify the activity of a higher power than sense,
there are a special class commonly spoken of as necessary
judgments, which demonstrate with peculiar cogency the
working of intellect. The mind affirms as necessarily and
universally true, that "two things which are equal to a third
must be equal to each other," that "nothing can begin to
exist without a cause," that " we ought never to do evil," that
"two straight lines can never enclose a space," that "three
and two must always make five," and so on of a variety of
other necessary propositions. A careful examination of
judicial acts of this kind will manifest that they express truths
of a different nature from that contained in the assertion or
denial of the existence or occurrence of a particular concrete

2 "A feeling qualified by a relation of resemblance to other
feelings is a different thing from an idea of that relation, different
with all the difference, which Hume ignores, bctxveen feeling and
thought, between consciousness and self-consciousness." (Cf. Green,
hitroduction to Hume's Treatise on Human Nature, % 213.) The con-
founding of the sensuous capacity of experiencing like or unlike
impressions with the intellectual power of recognizing their likeness
or unlikeness was formerly a universal characteristic of the sensa-
tionist psychologists of this country.



INTELLECT AND SENSE. 235

fact. These truths hold necessarily and universally. They are
moreover objectively valid : they are independent of my per-
ceiving them. Their contradictory is absolutely unthinkable.
It is not merely that I cannot conceive — in the sense of being
able to imagine — the opposite. It is not that I am under a
powerful persuasion, an irresistible belief on the point. It is
not that one idea inevitably suggests the other. There is
something distinctly over and above all this.

The blind man cannot conceive colour. A few centuries
since most people would have found it hard to believe that
people could live at the other side of the earth without
tumbling off. On the other hand, a man's name, or his
voice, irresistibly revives the representation of his face ; and
the appearance of fire inevitably awakens the expectation of
heat. Yet in the former cases the mind after careful reflexion
does not pronounce the existence of an absolute impossibility,
nor does it assert in the latter a necessary connexion. We
cannot affirm them to be impossible or necessary, because
the intellect does not clearly apprehend any such impossi-
bility or necessity. But it is completely diiferent in the class
of the judgments we have indicated above. The moral law
must hold for all intelligence ; the principle of causality and
the axioms of mathematics, must be necessarily and every-
ivhire true. Now this necessity cannot be apprehended by
sense. The sensuous impression is always of the individual,
the contingent, the mutable. It informs us that a particular
fact exists, not that a universal truth holds. Snow may perhaps
be black, ground glass may be wholesome and nutritious,
and a number of the laws of physical nature may be changed
every twelve months in distant stellar regions ; but the truths
of arithmetic and geometry, the principle of causality, and
the moral law are as immutable there as with us. This
immutability is distinctly realized by the mind, and such
realization is certainly not explicable by mere sense.

Universal and Abstract Concepts. — It is, however,
in the formation of abstract and universal concepts,
which prescind from the particular determinations of
space and time, and thus completely transcend the
scope of sense that the spiritual activity of the Intellect
is best manifested."^ Abstract and universal concepts
we assuredly possess. They are the necessary materials
of science. Judgments, whether contingent or necessary,

•^ " Differt sensus ab intellectu et ratione quia intellectus vel
ratio est ufiiversitliion, quae sunt ubique et semper ; sensus autem est
siiigiilarium." (St. Thomas, De scnsu et scnsato, 1. i.)



236 NATIONAL LIFE.



presuppose them. Without them general knowledge
would be impossible; consequently we must be endowed
with some power capable of forming such ideas. But
in the sensationist catalogue of faculties no such power
is to be found. Ergo, that inventory is incomplete.

By no one has the inability of the imagination to
form universal notions and concepts been better shown
than by the writers of the sensationalist school itself.
Berkeley in a well-known passage clearly states the
nominalist argument declaring that whatever we
imagine must have some definite size, colour, shape,
and the rest. Therefore it is concluded we cannot
form any truly abstract or universal concept.^ The
legitimate inference, however, is something very different
— to wit, that the sensist assumption regarding the
nature of mental life is false. Since de facto we do
possess these abstract and universal ideas, and since
the sensationist view of the mind cannot account for
them, that conception of the mind must be wrong.
There is some faculty omitted from its list.

To establish the existence of these intellectual
Concepts or Ideas and their difference from sensuous
Images we can only indicate the marks by which they
are distinguished, and then appeal to each man's

^ "Whether others have this wonderful faculty of abstracting
their ideas, they best can tell ; for myself I find I have a faculty
of imagining or representing to myself the ideas of those particular
things I have perceived, and of variously compounding and
dividing them. I can imagine a man with two heads, or the upper
parts of a man joined to the body of a horse. I can consider the
hand, the eye, the nose, each by itself abstracted and separated
from the rest of the body. But, then, whatever hand or eye I
imagine, it must have some peculiar shape and colour. Likewise
the idea of man that I frame to myself, must be either of a white, or
a black, or a tawny, a straight or a crooked, a tall or a low, or a
middle-sized man." {Principles of Human Knoivledgc.) The passage
is directed against a confused paragraph in Locke's Essay, Bk. IV.
c. vii. § g. Berkeley confounds the phantasm of the imagination
with the intellectual concept. We cannot form an abstract or
universal phantasm ; but the intellect most certainly does appre-
hend universal ideas, which abstract from varying accidental
qualities. The ethical thesis, " Man is responsible for his acts,"
or any other such general scientific proposition, involves a notion
equally applicable to the straight or crooked, black, or white.



INTELLECT AND SENSE. 237



internal experience. The concept represents the nature
or essence, e.g., of man or triangle, in an abstract con-
dition, ignoring or prescinding all accidental indi-
vidualizing conditions. The image, on the contrary,
reproduces the object clothed with these concrete deter-
minations. The concept is universal (unum in pluribus),
capable of representing with equal perfection all objects
of the class — because it includes only the essential
attributes contained in the definition of the object.
The image, whether it be distinct or obscure, can truly
picture only one individual object of some particular
colour, shape, size, and the rest. The concept since it
merely includes the essential attributes is something
fixed, immutable, necessary. If changed in the least
element its nature would be destroyed. For the same
reason it is said to be eternal : not of course as a positively
existing being, but negatively as an intrinsic possibility.
It abstracts from all time, and there never was an instant
when it was impossible. The image, on the other hand,
is unstable, fluctuating with respect to many of its
component elements, and contingent. Blurred repre-
sentations of this kind have been styled "generic"
images, but they are in no true sense universal. They
are merely individual pictures of an indistinct or
obscure character. That these distinctions are real,
will become clear to each one who carefully examines
his own consciousness. When we employ the terms
man, triangle, cow, iron, virtue, me mean something.
These expressions have a connotation, a meaning which
is more or less perfectly apprehended by the mind.
Now that connotation as thus grasped in a mental act is the
general concept.

There commonly accompanies the use of these words a
sensuous image, picturing some individual specimen, or a
group or series of specimens ; but it is neither about these
individual examples, nor about the oral sound that our
judgments are enunciated. When we say, "The cow is a
ruminant," " The whale is a mammal," " The sum of the
angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles," " Truth is a
virtue," we speak not of the particular phantasm in the
nnagination, whether it be definite or hazy, and still less of
the vocal word. We do not mean tliis triangle, whale, or cow.



238 RATIONAL LIFE.



but every triangle, cvoy whale, and every cow. Whilst the
{a.ncy pictures an individual the intellect i'/un^s the universal,
and this thought is the general notion or concept. The state-
ment of certain nominalists that we have nothing in our mind
but a particular image made to stand for any individual of the
class practically concedes the whole case, whilst slurring over
the concession in the phrase which we have italicized. The
intellectual operation by which the essential features in the
particular specimen are apprehended and conceived as standing
for ^^ any individual'' of the class is precisely what constitutes
the universal conception. Exactly herein lies the abstraction
and generalization productive of the intentio universalitatis —
the universal significance of the general notion. The higher
faculty seizes on the essential attributes forming the common
nature of the class, and our consciousness of this common
nature as separately realizable in each member of the class
is the universal idea.

It was long ago justly insisted on by Plato, and before
him by Parmenides, that mere sense could never afford
general knowledge, and that without universal concepts
science is impossible. Pure and mixed mathematics no
less than chemistry and biology logically lose their rigorous
precision and universality as well as their objective validity
if the reality of general conceptions be denied. The pene-
trating mind of Hume, the acutest thinker of the sensist
school, clearly saw this, and accepted the conclusion that
even the mathematical sciences can only afford approximate
truth.^ The existence of universal ideas or concepts we must
thus consider as established.

Reflexion and Self-consciousness. — Lastly, the
act of reflecting upon our own conscious states is
essentially beyond the sphere of sense. We find that
"we can observe and study our own sensations, emotions,
and thoughts. We can compare them with previous

^ "-When geometry decides anything concerning the proportions
of quantity, we ought not to look for the utmost precision and
exactness. None of its proofs extend so far. It takes the dimen-
sions and proportions of figures justly, but roughly, and with some
liberty. Its errors are never considerable, nor would it err at all
did it not aspire to such absolute perfection." (Cf. Treatise on
Human Nature, p. 350 ; also 5;§ 273, 274.) Mill and later disciples
of the school, whose scientific faith is stronger than their regard
for consistency, try to give mathematics a more respectable appear-
ance. On the value of that attempt, cf Jevons, Contemp. Review,
Dec. 1877; Ueberweg's Log:ic, § 129, and Appendix, § 15; and
Courtney's Metaphysics of Mill, c. viii.



INTELLECT AND SENSE. 239



states, we can recognize them as our own ; and we
can apprehend the perfect identity of the subject of
these states with the being who is now reflecting
on them, the agent who struggles against a temp-
tation, and the agent who knows that he is observing
his own struggle. Every step of our work so far
has involved the reflexive study of our own states,
and consequently the exercise of an intellectual power.
To analyze, describe, and classify mental phenomena
an activity distinct from and superior to sense is
required, and it is only because we are endowed with
such a supra-sensuous faculty that we can recognize



Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 23 of 63)