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string round our finger ; yet we are fully aware that the power
of such an agent may be as rigidly limited as our own. But
we are not compelled to stop here ; we may think " greater
than that, and greater than that, and greater n'itliout any
limits or boundaries at all.'' Here we have the proper notion,
faint and inadequate, but still truly representing infinite energy.

"' Kant teaches, in harmony with the spirit of the rest of his
system, that causality and substantiality are a priori categories of the
understanding,— innate moulds or conditions which regulate our
thinking, but have no validity as applied to things-in-themselves.
Hume and his followers have sought to explain both ideas as
products of " custom " or association. If consistently followed out,
the Kantian and Sensist doctrines alike lead to absolute scepticism.
The real validity of the three notions, causality, substance, and
personal identity, must stand or fall together; and if the last is an
illusion, there can be no truth attainable by the mind of mar^.


Wc can similarly form the notion of infinite intelligence,
holiness, and the rest ; and then combining tliese u-e can
conceive an omnipotent, infinitely intelligent, all-holy Being.
We have now reached as perfect a conception of God as is
possible to the finite mind. It is absurd to describe this as a
purely negative notion. We ascribe to the Reality which we
seek to realize to ourselves, every perfection we can conceive
in the intensest form or degree we can imagine, and then we
say : All that and more without any limit. Such a conception
wants clearness and distinctness, but it most certainly is not
purely negative. The thought of an attribute being increased
beyond the range of our fancy without any limit assuredly
does not thereby annihilate the positive content of the idea
already represented to ourselves.

The Idea of Space. — We have already more than once
touched on our cognition of Space, so that but little
additional treatment is necessary here. W^e have established
the fact of an immediate or intuitive perception of surface
extension through at least two of the senses — sight and touch.
We have also shown the part played by vwtor sensations in
experiences of solidity, or the third dimension of bodies; and
finally, we traced the growth and development of our know-
ledge of the m.aterial world. But the abstract conception of
Space is not the same thing as the perception of an extended
object, or a particular part of Space. It is an abstraction
founded on such individual acts, but rising above them ; and
the same active supra-sensuous power by which the ideas of
whiteness, truth, the infinite, &c., are formed, operates in the
present case. The mind observing a material object prescinds
from its other qualities, and thinks only of the co-existence of
its parts outside of each other : this is the notion of extension in
the abstract. Of course, however, as in the case of the ideas
of whiteness or being, long before the mind has elaborated this
reflex abstract notion, it has directly apprehended objects as
extended. Still, even the abstract notion of extension is not
strictly identical with that of Space. The extension of a body
is a property which belongs to the individual body itself, and
moves about with it, just as its other qualities. Space, on the
contrary, we look upon as something fixed, — that in which
bodies are contained, and through which they move. The space
of any particular object is the interval or voluminal distance
lying between its bounding superficies. Now, the human
mind having once cognized the trinal dimensions of material
bodies, and observed their motions, inevitably passes to the
conception of the successive intervals or spaces which they
occupy ; it distinguishes between the extended thing and the
room whicl the thing fills. Apprehending these separate



parts of space as immediately juxtaposed, it conceives the
continuity and the consequent oneness of space. Further
reflexion enables us to think of lines produced in all directions
beyond the boundaries of the existing universe, and we thus
reach the concept of ideal or possible space. Noting that
there is no limit to the possible production of such lines, we
conceive possible space as infinite ; not, however, as a positive
existence or reality, but as an inexhaustible potentiality. The
interval filled up by the entire physical universe is termed, in
opposition to the imaginary region beyond, actual or real

Cognition of Time. — Whilst ancient materialistic
philosophers conceived Time as an objective real
entity, a substantial receptacle in which all events
happen, Kant makes it an a priori or innate form of
internal sensibility, a purely subjective condition of
all human experience which possesses no extra mental
validity. The true view is that Time is neither a real
independent being nor an innate form of conscious-
ness preceding all experience, but an idea which is a
genuine product of intellectual activity. It is like
other universal conceptions, an abstraction derived from
concrete cognitions of change, a generalization which
has a real foundation in the real changes going on in
the world, but is completed by the intellect.^

Still the psychological explanation of this notion
is attended with peculiar difficulties. All time is made
up of past, present, and future; but the past is for
ever extinct, and the future is non-existent, whilst the
present consists of one indivisible Now — a single instant
that perishes as soon as it is born. Again, since time,
unlike space, is presented to us, not by one or
other faculty, but as an integral part of all our experi-
ences, both internal and external, it is not easy to
isolate this cognition and trace it to its sources. Time
has been defined as "successive duration," and though

* Cf. St. Thomas: " Qua^dam sunt quae habent fundamentum
n re, extra animam, sed complementum rationis eorum, quantum
ad id quod est formale, est per operationem animae ut patet in
universali. . . . Et similiter est de tempore, quod habet funda-
mentum in wo/m, scilicet prius et posterius ; sed quantum ad id
quod est formale in tempore, scilicet numeyatio completur per
operationem intellectus numerantis." (In I. Sent. Dist. 19, q. 5, a. i.)


faulty in some respects, this definition accentuates two
elements involved in the notion, change or successive
movement^ and persevering existence.

Development of the Notion. — The conscious life of the infant
is hardly more than a succession of changing states. There
is little looking forward or backward. The child is absorbed
in each experience as it occurs, vague and obscure though
these experiences are. Here we have a succession of conscious
states, but not the notion of time. We have a series of ideas,
but not an idea of a series. As memory grows stronger and
the powers of observation and comparison develop, the
child begins to notice that certain experiences recur in certain
conditions; particular sights, sounds, gustatory and tactual
feelings are repeated under similar circumstances, and the
judgment is elicited that the objects which cause these
conscious states endure, that they persevere in existence when
unobserved. The child at the same time begins to be
consciously aware of its own abiding identity and thus attains
the idea of sameness, and of persistent existence. To a being
unaware of its own continued identity the conception of time
would be impossible.

The perception of variation united with sameness is not,
however, the whole of the cognition of Time. For this the
mind must be able to combine in thought two different
movements or pulsations of consciousness, so as to represent
an interval between them. It must hold together two nows,
conceiving them, in succession, yet uniting them through that
intellectual synthetic activity by which we enumerate a collec-
tion of objects — a process or act which carries concomitantly
the consciousness of its own continuous unity. The conception
of two such points, with the intervening duration, gives us the
unit of time ; and in proportion as an interval is broken up
into periods of this kind by transitions of consciousness, the
representation of the time occupied expands. The transi-
tions of consciousness are not, however, discrete or detached
events. Nor is the course of mental life during waking houre
that ©fa continuous even-flowing river, but rather an eddying
undulating current with waves varying in depth and force.
We are thus led back to Aristotle's celebrated definition of
time as "the number of movement estimated according to its
before and after.''

The infant is probably first stimulated to this intellectual
operation by the regular recurrence of certain agreeable
experiences such as its food, the presence of its nurse, or the
use of its toys. Thus a certain series of incidents, A B C D
ending in X (the satisfaction of some desire), has happened


repeatedly in the past. As memory acquires strength, the
recurrence of A B, the first steps of the process, re-awakens
in a faint degree the recollections of C and D ; and much more
vividly the interesting event X. There is thus impressed
upon the child's mind along with the consciousness of the
present Nozv, the representation of a subsequent Noia, the
future enjoyment, together with a simultaneous notice of
interjacent events which force upon it the intervening
duration. The period is then measured by a subconscious
or implicit enumeration of the interposing incidents, and the
notion is complete.''

Subjective and Objective Time. — The child first measures
time by the number and variety of its own conscious states ;
but the estimate is of the vaguest and feeblest kind. Looking
drowsily backward and forward to a particular incident, it feels
the interval to be longer or shorter as it is dimly aware of
more or fewer intervening possible experiences. The irregular
character and varying duration of conscious states, however,
soon bring home to us the unfitness of these subjective
phenomena to serve as a standard measure of time. There
is indeed a certain rhythm in many of the processes of our

^ The above analysis coincides, we believe, with Aristotle's
doctrine which is thus developed by St. Thomas: " Manifestum
est, quod tunc esse tempus determinamus, cum accipimus in motu
aliud et aliud, et accipimus aliquid medium inter ea. Cum enim
intelligimus extrema diversa alicujus medii, et anima dicat, ilia
esse duo nunc, hoc prius, illud posterius in motu, tunc hoc dicimus
esse tempus. . . . Quando sentimus unmn nunc, et non discernimus
in motxi prius et posterhis, non videtur fieri tempus, quia neque est
motus ; sed cum accipimus prius et posterius et numeramus
ea, tunc dicimus fieri tempus, quia tempus nihil aliud est
quam numcrus motus secundum prius et posterius : tempus enim
percipimus, ut dictum est cum numeramus prius et posterius in
motu." [Comm. Physic. Lib. IV. lect. 17.) By "movement"
Aristotle, as well as St. Thomas, understands all forms of change,
whether subjective or objective — not merely external sensible move-
ment as many modern writers imagine. St. Thomas makes the
point quite clear, as well as the error of supposing that we can
immediately apprehend a "pure empty time : " " Contingit enim
quandoque quod percipimus fluxum temporis, quamvis nullum
motum particularem sensibilem sentiamus ; utpote si simus in
tenebris, et sic visu non sentimus motum alicujus corporis exle-
rioris, et, si nos non patiamur aliquam alterationem in corporibus
nostris ab aliquo exterior! agente, nullum motum corporis sentiemus;
et tamen si fiat aliquis motus in anima nostra, puta secundum succcs-
sionem cogitationum et imaginationuin, subito videtur nobis quod fiat
aliquod tempus ; et sic percipicndo quemcumqum motum percipi-
mus tempus ; et simiHter e contra, cum percipimus tempus simul
percipimus motum." (Ibid.)



organic life, such as respiration, circulation, and the recurrent
needs of food and sleep, which probably contribute much to
our power of estimating duration; but the natural objective
tendency of our minds, as well as our early perception of
the regularity of certain changes in the external universe
soon suggests to us a more easily observable objective scale
of measurement. Accordingly, the relatively uniform move-
ments of the heavenly bodies and the orderly changes of
day and night, of tides and of seasons, have come to con-
stitute the universal chronometer of the human race, and in
the popular mind to be identified with time itself.

Relativity of our appreciation of Time. — A period with
plenty of varied incident, such as a fortnight's travel, passes\y at the time. Whilst we are interested in each successive
experience, we have little spare attention to notice the dura-
tion of the series. There is almost complete lapse of the
" enumerating " activity. But in retrospect such a period
expands, because it is estimated by the number and variety
of the impressions which it presents to recollection. On the
other hand, a dull, monotonous, or unattractive occupation,
which leaves much of our mental energy free to advert to its
duration, is over-estimated whilst taking place. A couple of
hours spent impatiently waiting for a train, a few days in
idleness on board ship, a week confined to one's room, are
often declared to constitute an " age." But when they are
past such periods, being empty of incident, shrink up into
very small dimensions, unless their duration be over-estimated
on account of their accidental importance, or for some other
reason. An occurrence on which a weighty issue hangs seems
to move slowly on account of the microscopic attention
devoted to each successive moment of the event. In retro-
spect its gravity leads us to over-estimate the time required for
its accomplishment, and causes it to divide us by a seemingly
wide chasm from our previous life. Long periods are under-
estimated ; indeed our conception of a number of years is
purely S3mibolical. Very short periods — fractions of a second
— are generally over-estimated. Similarl}-, recent intervals
are exaggerated compared with equal periods more remote.
Whilst, as we grow older and new experiences become fewer
and less impressive, each year at its close seems shorter than
its predecessor.

Localization in Time. — Memory, or the knowledge that a
present mental state represents an experience which really
happened to us in the past, is an ultimate fact incapable of
explanation. But the process by which we refer the experi-
ence to a particular section of our past history is open to at
least partial analysis. The chief factors in the operation


seem to be the following : (i) Finding that the memory of an
impression wanes luith time, we tend to refer the more obscure
of two representations to the more distant date. Though an
element in the calculation, this, by itself, is obviously an
unsafe criterion. (2) The original order of the movement of
attention in any mental process leaves a disposition towards
its own reproduction, as, for instance, in repeating the
alphabet. Thus, there is a peculiar feeling attached to the
utterance of Y due to its formerly following X and preceding
Z in consciousness ; and this at least assists us in locating
that letter between the other two.^*^ This peculiar quality of
consciousness belonging to any mental state through its
having succeeded some particular state and preceded another
constitutes in fact a local "colouring" or sign, by virtue of
which its relative situation in the time-series of our past life
may be determined. The fact that the mind tends to repro-
duce events in their original serial order is indisputable, and
helps to explain — if explanation it can be called — how we
recognize which was prior of two reproduced events that
originally occurred in immediate succession. But the question
remains. How do we determine priority between two utterly
disconnected past experiences such as a toothache and a
particular interview ? (3) The answer given to this is that we
ascertain the time-relations of minor incidents by consciously
connecting them through contiguous association tvith more
important events which have themselves been associated with
public dates. Thus, I recollect that the toothache experience,
though more vividly remembered than the interview, occurred
when I was staying with certain people in the year 1890;
whilst the interview took place during a visit to London in
1897, the year of the Queen's Jubilee.

Expectation illustrates the same principles. For instance,
the mind having experienced the series of incidents A B C D,
on the recurrence of any one of them tends to revive in
imagination its successors, and the mere vivacity of the
images tends to generate an anticipation of their realization.
Apart from any reasoning process there can be awakened iu
the imagination a state of sensuous expectancy in the human
being as well as in the lower animals by the preliminary
stages of some familiar operation. But besides this species
of sensuous presentiment originating in previous association,
we are capable of a higher form of intellectual belief in future
events, which springs from inductions based on conscious
recognition of the uniformity of nature and the principle of
causality. This constitutes expectation in its most proper sense.

10 See Dr. Ward, " Psychology," Encycl. Brit. p. 66.


It involves memory, the notion of time, and inference from
cause to effect. In addition to its reference to the future,
expectation differs from memory by its active and emotional
character. The real interest of our lives lies in the experiences
which are to come, not in those which are gone. Consequently,
there is, especially in the keener forms of this state, a
stretching out of the mind towards the things that are before,
an eagerness to ascertain what is about to happen which
takes the form of hope in regard to what is in conformity with
desire, and fear or anxiety with respect to what is against our
wishes. Both emotions, by intensifying the vivacity of the
imagination, augment the force of belief, and so we are
inchned to over-estimate the probability of events which we
like or dislike much.

Readings.— On Reflexion and Self-Consciousness, St. Thomas,
Sum. I. q. 87, also De Veritate, q. 10, a. 8, 9; Kleutgen, op. cit.
§§ 102—120; Balmez, op. cit. Bk. IX. cc. vii. viii. ; Ladd, Philosophy
of Mind, pp. 105 — 112; Mivart, On Truth, c. ii. ; Piat, La Personne
humaine, c. i. On the Idea of Substance, cf. John Rickaby, Meta-
physics, Bk. II. c. i. ; Balmez, op. cit. Bk. IX. cc. i. iii. vii. ; Stockl's
Lehrbuch, § 31. On Causality, Rickaby, op. cit. pp. 304, seq. ;
Kleutgen, §§ 300—303 ; Balmez, Bk. X. cc. iv. v. viii. xi. xii, xvi. ;
Stockl, op. cit. § 45. On the Idea of the Infinite, Rickaby, Bk. I.
c. vi. ; Kleutgen, op. cit. Ft. V. cc. ii. iii.— especially §§ 412—419 ;
Balmez, Bk. VIII. cc. iii. iv. vi. viii. and xv. ; Stockl, § 27. On
Space and Time, Rickaby, op. cit. Bk. II. c. iv. ; Kleutgen, §§ 342—




Rational Appetency. — We have sketched the
chief manifestations of Appetency or Conation exhi-
bited in the lower forms of life (c. x.), and we there
distinguished various kinds of action as automatic,
reflex, impulsive, and instinctive. We shall now
resume our treatment of this activity as exercised
in its higher grades. Amongst the most important
of these is Desire. This term is not confined
exclusively to inclinations of the super- sensuous
order, for many yearnings aroused by the imagi-
nation of sensuous pleasures are so called.

Desire defined and analyzed. — Desire may be
defined as a mental state of longing ov want aroused by the
representation of some absent good. It is a form of conscious-
ness superior to and more refined than that of appetite in
the modern sense. Unlike the latter, it is not a blind
organic craving limited to a single mode and definite
range of activit3\ In common with appetite, it involves
a species of discontent and longing, but its object is the
representation of some knonni good. The newly-born
infant is the subject of appetites and of reflex or
instinctive movements ; but it is incapable of forming
a desire. The first step in the development of the power
of desire is the awakening of the cognition. Some sense
is excited by its appropriate stinuilus, and the resulting
experience is felt to be agreeable. A bright colour


attracts the child's eye, its food tastes sweet, some
reflex or instinctive movement affords rehef or satis-
faction ; in a word, an experience is felt as good — as in
harmony with the agent's nature or some part of it —
and there is immediately evoked a tendency to prolong
that experience, or to secure a fuller possession of the
object. Should anything re-awaken the idea of such an
experience, there will be excited a tendency to realize
again the agreeable activity, and to reproduce the
movements by which it was previously obtained. Here
we have the fully developed state.

Analysis of Desire thus understood reveals to us
three elements: (1) the representation of some object
or experience not actually enjoyed, (2) the appreciation
of this object or experience as goody and (3) a resulting
tension or feeling of attraction towards the agreeable
object. The two former elements are rather the con-
ditions, the last the essence, of desire. Desire regards the
future, and so aims at the realization of the ideal. In
proportion as our acquaintance with various kinds of
goods extends, so the field of desire widens and longings
multiply. Whilst the physical appetites have their
birth in sensation, and are satiated, at least for the time,
by a definite quantity of appropriate exercise, desire
emerging from the activity of the imagination is practi-
cally of indefinite range; and in a rational creature who
can conceive boundless good it is incapable of being
fully satisfied by any finite object.

Is Pleasure the only object of Desire ? — It has been much
discussed in recent years whether all forms of appetency are
only towards pleasure and from pain. Mill, Dr. Bain, and
sensationists generally, maintain the affirmative. " Desiring
a thing and finding it pleasant, aversion to it, and thinking of
it as painful, are phenomena entirely inseparable, or rather
two parts of the same phenomenon ; in strictness of language
two different modes of naming the same psychological fact —
to think of an object as desirable (unless for the sake of its
consequences), and to think of it as pleasant are one and the
same thing ; and to desire anything except in proportion as
the idea of it is pleasant is a physical and metaphysical impos-
sibility,'"'^ Seemingly unselfish impulses arc merely the effect

^ Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 57,


of association. Virtue, like money, originally desired solely
as a means to happiness, is later on pursued as an end in
itself. This doctrine has been effectively refuted by numerous
philosophers from Butler to Drs. Martineau and Sidgwick :
(i) Appetites proper are cravings whose primary object is the
exercise of an activity, not the pleasure thence proceeding —
e.g., the formal object of hunger is food, not the subjective
delight of eating; though of course by a reflex act this
pleasure may be made an end. (2) Many desires proper are
primarily extra-regarding, and not aiming at the agent's
own pleasure — e.g., the parental and social affections, sym-
pathy, compassion, gratitude, wonder, the desire of knowledge,
and the mental activities of pursuit. (3) The aim of rational
volition is certainly not always pleasure. We can choose
right for its own sake against the maximum pleasure. The
formal object of appetite is the good, not solely the pleasant ;
it includes bonuni honestum as well as boniim delectabile. We
may further urge (a) the hedonistic paradox, viz., that the
deliberate pursuit of pleasure — the only rational end of
egoistic ethics — is suicidal. Thus, the pleasures attached to
benevolence, self-sacrifice, pursuit of knowledge, field sports,
&c., are annihilated if consciously set as the end of our act.
(b) The assertion that all these now apparently disinterested
impulses are originally the creation of pleasant associations

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 38 of 63)