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tionalist standpoint, fear, though at times a necessary
instrument, is always an imperfect motive. Its efficiency
is deterrent from evil rather than promotive of genuinely
good effort ; and especially in the very young it may
conflict with the very self-composure and steady con-
centrated energy needed for study.

Anger is amongst the most exciting of the emotions.
It stirs up activity and arouses to energetic action.
It seeks relief by injuring the cause of its pain. Like
fear, though in a different way, it heightens the
sensibility of the imagination and obscures the power
of judgment and reflexion. Wlien combined with fear,
anger if fostered rapidly passes into hatred. In the
form of virtuous indignation it may be an elevated
moral force ; but it is always a dangerous impulse, and
needs watchful control from the earliest stages.

Altruistic Emotions: Sympathy. — The most
marked form oi unseljish or benevolent emotion is that of
sympathy. Sympathy literally mea.ns feeling luith others ;
benevolence wishing ivcll to others. That there are
naturally in man non-selfish impulses is shown especi-
ally by his possession of benevolent and sympathetic
instincts. liobbcs, indeed, who defines///^ as, grief for



THE EMOTIONS. 43 ^



the calamity of another, arising from the imagination of the
like calamity befalling one's self attempted to reduce even
these to far-sighted selfishness ; but the general tendency
of the present representatives of his school is to admit
naturally altruistic inchnations. That sympathy is an
innate unselfish impulse, or rather a native disposition,
is shown by the prompt manner in which the feeling
arises on the contemplation of another's suffering ; by
the entire absence of any prospect of gain to ourselves
in return for our compassion ; by the real self-sacrifice
to which it often successfully urges ; and by the univer-
sality of its range, — moving us to compassionate the
pains of brute animals, the sorrows of strangers and
historical personages, and even the imaginary woes of
the creations of the dramatist and novelist.

Analysis. — The two chief features of the state of
Sympathy are a lively representation and an active
appropriation of the feelings of others. There is both
a projection of self into the situation of the sufferer,
and a voluntary acceptance of his grief. In compassion
there is a free affectionate adoption of the pain as our
own, not a shrinking dislike for it through fear of its
infliction on us. We can sympathize with the trials
and joys of those differing from us in age, sex, or condi-
tion, which it is absolutely impossible should occur to
ourselves. At the same time, since sympathy involves
the realization of the feelings of another being, some
experience of a kindred nature is presupposed. And
herein lies the cognitive factor in the emotion. The
intensity of our sympathy will thus be conditioned both
by the range of our actual knowledge, and by our
capacity of imagination. Consequently, its force dimi-
nishes when the feeling is of a kind remote from our
experience. We can all commiserate physical pain ;
but the keen sufferings of refined or scrupulous minds
are often incomprehensible to ruder natures.

Equally important with the element of cognition
involved in the act of compassion is that of affection.
The accepted signification of the term antipathy, as
equivalent to dislike, shows this. Anger and hatred
suspend for the time our power of pity. The intensity



43i RATIONAL LIFJl.



of sympathy is, ceteris paribus, in proportion to our love
for the object of the emotion. This fine susceptibility
of human nature would also seem to be less in unison
with the energetic than with the reflective or contem-
plative character ; though the former disposition is
more fertile in the practical fruits of benevolence.
Since the Christian era, the faculty has grown both
in range and depth along with the mental and moral
development of the race. The increase in the exercise
of the imagination arising from the universal habit of
reading, so new in the history of mankind, must have
an important effect in enlarging the normal power of
the fancy. To this cause, perhaps, ought to be traced
the present popular indignation against various forms
of cruelty towards which men seemed almost insensible
a few centuries ago. Sympathy in the full sense com-
prehends fellow-feeling in the joy of another, as well
as compassion over his pain. The former is a more
completely disinterested state, and far harder to attain,
as the neutralizing action of jealousy and envy,
even in a faint form, is able to destroy this truly
unselfish feeling. This does not occur in the case of
pity.

Feelings attached to Intellectual Activity. —
The mental states of novelty, surprise, and wonder, called
by Dr. Bain,^ feelings of relativity , also play an important
part in this department of the mind. The agreeable
feeling of novelty is a particular instance of the pleasure
due to exercise of the mental energies in general. The
enjoyment of any activity is highest whilst fresh, and
gradually tones down as the faculty becomes habituated
to the action of the stimulus. According^, transition
from the exertion of one power to that of another ;
or even variation in the quality of a mental state must,
ceteris paribus, be agreeable. Since the number of pos-
sible experiences is limited and the list of absolute
novelties soon exhausted, the advantage of change in
employments is obvious. The recurrence of a former
mental state after an interval of time may be attended
with almost as much pleasure as that of its first appear-

2 Bain's description of some of the Emotions is among the best.



THE EMOTIONS. 433



ance ; and occasionally, as in the case of old familiar
tunes, previous acquaintance enriches the emotion.

Suvprise contains something in addition to novelty.
In the latter state there is change : in the former there
is besides a certain shock of unexpectedness. Prac-
tically, of course, the two feelings shade into each
other— marked novelties producing surprise; but the r^^
characteristic feature of the latter state is the temporary \ — ^
perturbation of the movement of thought, owing to the
sudden appearance of an unlooked-for idea which does
not at once coalesce with the existing current. In itself
such a dislocation would be disagreeable rather than
the reverse, but the pleasure springing from ^ a fresh
energy prevents surprise being classed as a universally
painful state. Dr. Bain allots it to his group of so-called
" neutral " feelings.

Wonder (which Aristotle deems to be the beginning
of Philosophy) is a more complex emotion than surprise.
It requires a certain magnitude or greatness as well as
strangeness in the new event, which causes a failure of
the effort to understand or classify that event with our
past experiences. When the novel object is of such a
completely unfamiliar kind as to convince us that it
is beyond our comprehension, the mind is thrown into
a condition of conscious stupefaction, which is the
purest form of astonishment. The soul, however, cannot
long persist in such an attitude, and the natural incli-
nation of the intellect impels it to try and bring this
occurrence into harmony with others which we have
observed. The native tendency of the mind to exert
its powers when thus stimulated by the enigmatic, is
the essentially rational attribute of curiosity. It is
scarcely too much to say that this impulse holds a
similarly important position in the domain of knowledge
with that possessed by the instinct of self-preservation
in the kingdom of physical life.

The Logical Feelings of consistency and contradiction
are closely related to the emotions just described.
These states are essentially cognitional ; but pleasure
or pain forms such a very important ingredient, that
the term feeling is frequently applied to them. They
CC



434 RATIONAL LIFE,



afford the best example of strictly intellectual senti-
ments, and are of a spiritual or supra-sensuous char-
acter. The consciousness of the irreconcilability of
apparently independent cognitions is distinctl}^ dis-
agreeable. We are dimly aware of an internal state
of strain or contention ; and we cannot rest till we
effect agreement between the discordant forces. The
discovery of new truth, the bringing of fresh facts
under old generalizations, at once satiates the intel-
lectual yearning for unity and gratifies our sense of
power. There is a very real joy in detecting hitherto
unperceived relations of similarity, whether it be in
the solution of a mathematical problem, the discovery
of a law of physics, the invention of a happ)^ metaphor,
or the guessing of a riddle.

This kind of enjoyment is one of the main elements
in the higher species of those pleasures which constitute
the Emotions of Pursuit. This term has been employed
to denote the agreeable excitement attendant on certain
kinds of out-door sport, games of chance, and interest
in the plot of a novel. There is in such exercises
novelty, the satisfaction due to the play of our faculties,
and a pleasing interest aroused by the uncertainty of
the result, which gives much food to imagination and
intellect. If the stake is very heavy the agreeable
character of the excitement disappears, and the state
of doubt, resulting in anxiety and fear, may become
extremely painful.^

^ Rivalry or Emulation. — Closely connected with the emotions of
pursuit and the sense of power is the passion of emulation — one of the
most important psychological forces both for good and evil in the
economy of human life. Amongst the ordinary constituents of this
feeling are: (i) The pleasure of activity — though sometimes,
especially when excessive, the activity may not be pleasant ; (2) the
agreeable interest of the chance element — the excitement of hope
and expectancy ; (3) the sense of power ; (4) the anticipated gratifi-
cation of triumph ; (5) the pleasure of the imagined admiration of
the spectator; (6) the pleasure of conflict itself, in so far as it is
distinct from the factors just mentioned. That the excitement of
contest, when not counterbalanced by some positive pain, such as
fear or fatigue, is per se agreeable, seems to be established by the
enjoyment which mimic combat in so many forms affords both to
man and to the young of all animals. It is an essential element in



THE EMOTIONS.



435



iEsthetiC Emotions. — Another interesting class
of feelings are the esthetic emotions. The chief of these
are the sentiments awakened by the contemplation oi
the Beautiful and the Sublime. Ontology is the branch
of Philosophy to which the problem of the nature and
objective conditions of Beauty properly belongs. But
since the middle of last century discussion on this
subject has been so continuous, that there has grown
up a portentous body of speculation claiming the title
of the Science of Esthetics. '^ Here we can only analyze
briefly the feelings aroused by the perception of the
Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Ludicrous, and point
out the chief features in these realities themselves.

The Beautiful. — The epithet beautiful is applied to
such widely different things as a sunset, a human face,
a flower, a landscape, a musical symphony, a grey-
hound, a poem, a piece of architecture ; and there may
be awakened pleasing emotions by the consideration of
any of these objects. The first and essential property,
then, of beauty is that it pleases. In most cases the
satisfaction aroused involves two elements — the one
sensuous, the other intellectual. The lower is the result
partly of the harmonious action of an external organic
faculty, such as sight or hearing, partly of that of the
imagination. Thus, we describe particular hues as
beautiful, certain sounds as charming, and in many
of the examples just mentioned, the important part
played by the quality of the organic stimulus is evident.

most of our field sports. The above analysis shows that this spring
of action which has done so much for social progress contains both
useful and dangerous elements — that like all other passions it may
be productive of both good and evil. The aim of the Teacher must
be to extract from its use the maximum of good, with the minimum
of evil. The pleasure of activity, interest, increased power of
faculty, and even the desire of esteem, may be all neutral or good.
But the desire to triumph over another, if it includes the wi§h to inflict
pain, or if it be so intense that failure invokes envy or hatred of the
successful rival, is obviously bad. But that emulation, when limited
and safeguarded under normally wholesome conditions, does not
necessarily result in these evil effects, seems to be abundantly
established by the innumerable forms of competition which have
been sanctioned by moralists of all ages.

^ Cf. ^sthetik, by J. Jungmann, S.J. (Freiburg).



436 RATIONAL LIFE.



Along with this satisfaction due to sensation, there
is also usually an element of gratification depen-
dent on the exercise of the imagination. We have
alread}' shown in our chapter on the development of
sensuous perception, what a large part the reproduc-
tive activity of consciousness plays even in seemingly
simple cognitions, such as those of a house or of a tree.
Consequently, the pleasure of the effect must be attri-
buted to the agreeable operation of both the presenta-
tive and the representative faculties of the lower order.
The combined energies of the external and internal
senses are thus of themselves capable of accounting
for much of the delight aroused by the contemplation
of beautiful objects ; and we think those writers in error
who would deny or minimize the realit}^ of sensible
beauty. Visual, auditory, and motor sensations, both
actual and ideal, conspire according to their quality,
their intensity, and their harmonious combinations to
enrich the pleasurable sentiment of admiration.

Unity amid Variety. — Nevertheless, human appreciation
of Beauty is essentially rational ; and the importance of
intellect in this department of cognition is shown by the
absence of aesthetic tastes in irrational animals. The
most universal feature in the various kinds of beautiful
or pleasing objects, the generality of philosophers have
held to consist oi 7inity amid variety; and the apprehen-
sion of this perfection is an intellectual act. Symmetr3^
order, fitness, harmon}'-, and the like, are but special
forms of this unit3\ The suitable proportions of the
lineaments of the face, of the limbs of an animal, and
of the constituent portions of a building ; the admirable
co-ordination of the several parts of a flower ; and the
unity of idea which should run through a musical air,
a poem or a drama, are all only varying expressions of
the one amid the manifold. Monotony is painful ; same-
ness wearies the faculties. On the other hand, chaotic
multiplicity, disorderl}^ change overpowers and prevents
us from getting a coherent grasp of the confused mass
before us. When, however, our energies are wakened
into life by a rich variety of stimulus, whilst, at the
same time, the presence of some central unity enables



THE EMOTIONS. 437

us to hold the several parts together with ease, there
is produced in the mind a luxurious feeling of delight.^

Utility. — A particular manifestation of this unity of
thought in a work of art is utility. The mind is gratified
by seeing how an object is adapted to the purpose for
which it is intended. The structure of the greyhound
thus embodies the idea of speed : the English dray-
horse that of strength. The charm of a pillar in a piece
of architecture depends as much on its obvious utility
and fitness, as on its own beauty ; and the fundamental
rule of Gothic art, that no ornament is to appear for the sake
of ornament, is but a practical application of this psycho-
logical law. Objects which please indirectly as in this
way subservient to some ulterior end are said to exhibit
relative or dependent beaut}^ ; those which charm of them-
selves exemplify absolute, intrinsic, or independent beauty. A
flower, taken as a whole, may be described as absolutely
beautiful, whilst the delight awakened by contemplating
the fitness of its parts is an effect of dependent beauty.

Association. —The extent and importance of this
second kind of beauty gave occasion at the end of last
century to the advocates of Associationism to attempt
the explanation of all forms of beauty by that principle.
A plain of ripe waving corn is beautiful in this view
because it suggests peace and plenty; a ruined castle
because it recalls deeds of chivalry and prowess in past
times. The influence of Association in awakening
agreeable emotions, and in giving an accidental charm
to indifferent objects is undoubtedly very great. The
scenes of our childhood, familiar tunes, the rise and fall
of fashions, and the rules of etiquette, all exhibit the
beautifying force of this agency. Still, it is a mistake
to push the principle too far, and a sea-shell, a feather,
or a landscape must often win the approval of the
severest iesthetic judgment, apart from any extrinsic
relation which it may possess. *5

^ The picturesque wants the unity of beauty proper, but the dis-
agreeable effect of mere disorder is prevented by the beauty of the
separate elements ; certain harmonies, too, usually pervade the
irregularities.

^ Ruskin thus concisely states the flaw in the case of the advo-
cates of Associationism : "Their arguments invariably involve one



438 RATIONAL LIFE.



Sight and bearing are the principal senses in the
appreciation of beauty ; but the experiences of the
other faculties when represented in imagination can
contribute much to the general effect, as is especially
seen in poetic description. A consequence of beauty
being mainly apprehended by the two higher senses
is the disinterested character of the emotions aroused,
and the communistic or shareable nature of aesthetic
pleasures in general. The delight of admiration,
though it may stimulate the desire of personal appro-
priation as a means to ulterior advantage, is not itself
an egoistic affection. The joy awakened by the con-
templation of a picture or a landscape, by a poem or a
concert, is not diminished but increased by the partner-
ship of other minds.

The Sublime. — The emotion of the Sublime, though an
agreeable consciousness, differs from that of the Beautiful.
The object of the former feeling is some kind or other of
grandeur. Physical magnitude, immensity in force, space,
or time, moral excellence displayed in searching trial, may
all be characterized as sublime, and awaken the corres-
ponding sentiment. The emotion involves admiration, fear,
or awe, and a certain sympathy with the power manifested.
Mere size is usually not sufficient to constitute sublimity.
There must be a certain degree of perfection of form to give
contemplation an agreeably stimulating character ; and in
this respect the emotion aroused is related to our enjoyment
of the beautiful. But yet it is in the grandeur of the object
that the chief element of sublimity consists, and this feature
is so essential that even ugliness and wickedness of trans-
cendent magnitude may sometimes generate a feeling of an
almost admiring awe. The mind becomes aware of its
feebleness and incapacity in the presence of immensity, whilst
at the same time it is stimulated to endeavour to comprehend
the object. Sublimity, like Beauty, is a revelation of the
Divine attributes, but in the former the infinite incompre-
hensibility of God is brought more home to us. In our
admiration of the sublime in human action little introspection
is required to discover a thrill of sympathy with the agent.

of these two syllogisms: Either Association gives pleasure, and
Beauty gives pleasure, therefore Association is Beauty ; or, the
power of Association is stronger than the power of Beauty, there-
fore the power of Association is the power of Beauty." {Modern
Painters, Vol. II. 31.)



TitE AMOTIONS. 43^



Although in the sentiment aroused by the contemplation of
a piece of wild scenery, or of a storm at sea, this ingredient
of feUow-feehng is not so easily detected, yet if we carehilly
reflect on the fact that what properly impresses us in these
phenomena is the manifestation of a Power, we shall find that
in the effort to realize to ourself such an energy we experience
a faint vibration of sympathetic consciousness.''

The Ludicrous. — The mental state aroused by contem-
plation of the Liuiicroiis is in striking contrast to that of the
Sublime. In place of admiring awe and fear, we have
joyous elation ; instead of a shrinking consciousness of our
own diminutiveness we explode in a burst of exuberant mirtli.
Though the emotion is eminently rational, the fit of
laughter, is, of course, only a physical movement which may
be excited by purely physical stimuli, just as well as by the
intellectual perception of the ridiculous.

There has been much discussion as to what are the
essential features of the ludicrous. According to Aristotle,
the laughable is to be found in what is deformed or mean,
yet incapable of producing pity, fear, anger, or any otiier
strong emotion ; and Herbert Spencer has not advanced the
psychological analysis of this state much further. Incon-
gruity, the latter writer teaches, is a prime constituent of the
ridiculous, but this incongruity must not give rise to other
powerful feelings. To see a fop tumble into the mud may
cause us to laugh, whilst the fall of an old man whom we
love arouses quite a different emotion. Hobbes defined
laughter as " a sudden glory arising from the conception of
some eminency in ourselves by comparison with the infirmity
of others and with our own formerly." This view would
place the essence of the ludicrous in a degradation of the
object. It is true that the point of wit often consists in
making others seem contemptible, and there is awakened a
pleasurable consciousness of elation in ourselves by the
contrast; but such a theory is very one-sided, and does not
account for good-natured laughter, or for many forms of
humour. Release from restraint is undoubtedly a very
general condition of mirth, and the facility with which

' Hamilton thus distinguishes the character of these emotions :
" The Beautiful awakens the mind to a soothing contemplation ;
the Sublime arouses it to strong emotion. The Beautiful attracts
without repelling, whereas the Sublime at once does both ; the
Beautiful aftords us a feeling of unmingled pleasure in the full and
unimpeded activity of our cognitive powers, whereas our feeling of
sublimity is a mingled one of pleasure and pain — of pleasure in the
consciousness of strong energy, of pain in the consciousness that
this energy is vain." {Metaph, Vol. II. pp. 512, 513.)



440 NATIONAL LIFS.



laughter can be excited by any unusual event when we have
been for a time sustaining a dignified or solemn demeanour
has often been noted. The cheapness of the wit directed
against holy things which have been long held in reverence
by mankind is thus obvious.

The Moral Sentiments.— Under this term are
included the feelings of moral obligation, responsibility,
approbation, disapproval, remorse, and self-commen-
dation. As we have already dwelt at length on
Conscience, we must be brief here. We have seen
that conscience is not a special faculty or sense, but
the ordinary judicial activity of the intellect which
discerns zvhat actions are right and zvrong. The cognition
of Tightness or wrongness includes or results in the
consciousness of obligation — the feeling of ought. It is
this latter frame of mind which is more especially
termed the moral sentiment. As a mental state it is sui
generis, and though capable of rational explanation, it
cannot be analyzed into mere sensations. It manifesto
itself as a certain consciousness of pressure or constraint
on the will differing in kind alike from the motive force
of pleasure or pain and the compulsion of known truth.
We feel impelled towards duty though it be disagreeable :
we can refuse to embrace it though it be evident. It
involves a sense of subjection to an authority with which
we are brought into immediate contact. It presents
to the mind a categorical imperative which binds absolutely ;
and from which there is felt to be no appeal. It
contains the germ of the notion of holiness.

The objects to which the moral sentiment attaches
are not, like those of the aesthetic feeling, lifeless things,
but voluntary actions, and primarily my own ; secondarily



Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 44 of 63)