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principle is capable of exerting different species of energies.' " " If
the soul produces within itself acts of perception, then must it also
be endowed with a property corresponding to this effect, and this
property must be something actual, objectively real in it; other-
wise a stone may at times be just as capable of percipient acts. To


Objections examined. — In England the chief psycholojijist
darini^ the early part of this century who attacked the doctrine
of mental faculties, was Brown. As the right view was
sufficiently vindicated then by Hamilton,^- we need not return
to refute the former writer or Bailey, who added little of any
value on the same side. Mr. Sully, however, may be taken
as a representative of recent attacks, so a word in answer to
this author may be useful. After premising that the discussion
•of the ultimate nature of the " so-called faculties " belongs to
Rational Psychology, and so lies outside of his sphere, he
continues: "The hypothesis of faculties can, however, be
■criticized from the point of view of Empirical Psychology in
so far as it succeeds or does not succeed in giving a clear
account of the phenomena. Looked at in this way, it must
l)e regarded as productive of much error in Psychology, It
has led to the false supposition that mental activity, instead of
■being one and the same throughout its manifold phases is a juxta-
position of totally distinct activities ansivering to a bundle of
detached powers, somehow standing side by side, and exerting no
influence on one anotJier. Sometimes this absolute separation
■of the parts of mind has gone so far as to personify the
several faculties as though they were distinct entities. This
has been especially the case with the faculty or power of

One or two observations m.ay be urged in reply, (i) Mr.
Sully, in asserting that all mental activity is one and the
same, cannot seriously intend to maintain that the conscious
activity known as seeing is identical with that of hearing, or
•that cognition is not different in nature from desire. But if he
allows these energies to be radically distinct modes of con-
deny that property whilst we admit its manifestations, is to assert
that the faculty of perception is nothing else than the sum of its
acts, and is equivalent to postulating accidents without a substance,
•effects without a cause, and to discoursing of phenomena and opera-
tions when the subject, the agent, is abolished." {Das Geviiith unci
das Gefi'ihlsvermogen dcr neueren Psychologie, von Jungmann, p. 11.)

12 Mctaph. Ixx.

13 Outlines, p. 26. Similarly, Mr. G. F. Stout, Analytical Psycho-
logy, Vol. 1. pp. 17 — 21. Mr, Sully is undoubtedly right when he says
that discussion of the nature of the faculties pertains to Rational
Psychology. But this only proves the evil of " clandestine " Meta-
physics. The distinction between the "criticism from the Empirical
point of view," which rejects faculties as properties of the mind,
putting in their place aggregates of mental states, and the discredited
Metaphysics is not very obvious. In fact, such criticism of meta-
physical conceptions invariably involves a counter metaphysical
^system of its own. (Cf. Ladd, Philosophy of the Mind, pp. 32, 33.)


scioiisness under the vague saving clause of " manifold
phases," then all that is needed for the establishment of a
variety of mental aptitudes in the sense for which we contend
is admitted. (2) The description of the theory as involving
the absurd view that the faculties form "a juxta-position of
totally distinct activities answering to a bundle of detached
powers, somehow standing side by side and exerting no-
influence on each other," is a mere travesty of the doctrine.
Indeed, so far have the supporters of the doctrine been from
setting " the faculties side by side exerting no influence on
one another," that a great part of the modern attack is based
on quite an opposite representation of their view. They are
charged in Germany with making the mind the theatre of a
perpetual civil war among the faculties ; and Vorlander com-
pared the world of consciousness in their system to the
condition of the Roman Germanic Empire, when the vassals
(the faculties) usurped the functions of the regent (the soul),
and were perpetually intriguing and strugghng with each
other; whilst Schleiermacher styled the theory a "romance
replete with public outrages and secret intrigues." If the
faculties are to be annihilated on the charge of being ever-
lastingl}' involved in mutual conflict, it is rather hard that
they should be condemned at the same time for exerting no
influence on each other. The truth is, no such ridiculous
view regarding the nature of our mental powers has ever been
held by any psychologist of repute, but in talking of the
obvious and indisputable fact that our intellectual operations,,
emotions, and volitions, interfere with and condition each
other, philosophers, like other folk, have been compelled by
the exigencies of language to speak as if the faculties were
endowed with a certain independent autonomy of their own..
They have, however, of course, from the days of St. Augustine,.
and long before, been aware that it is the one indivisible
soul which remembers, understands, and wills. ^•^ (3) Even
regarding the activities of sense and intellect, which we hold,,
and shall prove to be essentially different, the assertion of
an imagined and real independence is untrue. The second
faculty pre-supposes as a necessary condition of its action the
exercise of the first, and is dependent on it for its operation,,
whilst both are merely diverse energies of the same simple
soul. (4) Finally, the Will is not an independent member,
an entity separate from the mind ; it is merely that per-

^* Cf. St. Aug. De TrinUate, Lib. X. c. xi. "Potentia est nihil aliud

quam quidam ordo ad actum." (Aquinas, De Anima, Lib. IL

lect. 11.) To assign a mental state to a power or faculty is not to

explain it, — except in so far as classification may be deemed expla-

atioD. See p. 587, below.


fection of the Ego which constitutes it capable of that
special form of energizing called willing ; it is the soul itself
which wills.

The Mind a Real Unity. — There is, however, a tenet implied
in our system irreconcilably opposed to the phenomenalist
view of Mr. Sully and all other sensationist writers. We hold
as a fundamental all-important truth that there exists one real
indivisible agent called the Mind, which is something more
than the series of events known as conscious states. Those,
on the contrary, who maintain that the mind is nothing but
an aggregate or series of separate states connected by no real
bond, naturally find no place in their theory ior faculties.

Mutual Relations of the Faculties. — There
remains another question related to our present subject :
Which is to be conceived as the most fundamental of
our activities? To answer this we must recall our
double division of faculties, on the one hand, into
sensuous and rational, and on the other hand into
cognitive and appetitive.

Now of the two former kinds of mental life that of
sense is primary. The faculty of sense manifests itself
at the earliest age, it extends throughout the entire
animal kingdom, and its exercise is always pre-supposed
in order to furnish materials to be elaborated by the
rational powers in man. Intellect, on the other hand,
is something superadded to sense. In all its forms it
requires as the condition of its operation the previous
excitation of the lower powers, it manifests itself later
in life than sense, and it is confined to the human
species. Turning now to the other division : Whether
is cognition or appetite the more primordial ? But
little reflection is required, we think, to make it clear
that knowledge is naturally prior to volition. We
desire because we perceive or imagine the object of our
desire to be good. W^e are drawn or repelled by the
pleasurable or painful character of the cognitive act.
A sensation of colour, sound, or contact, viewed in its
proper character, is a rudimentary act of apprehension,
and it may awaken a striving either for its continuance
or for its cessation ; an intellectual judgment may
similarly give rise to a volition. It is true that some
desires manifest themselves in an obscure way without


any antecedent cognitive representation that we can
clearly realize. Tliis is especially the case with the
cravings of physical appetite, such as hunger and thirst.
Purely organic states which give rise to 3earnings of
this kind, however, are rather of the nature of physio-
logical needs than properly psychical desires ; and in
proportion as they emerge into the strata of mental
acts the cognitive element comes into clearer conscious-
ness. We may, therefore, lay it down as a general
truth that appetite is subsequent to knowledge and
dependent on it. These faculties are thus to be viewed,
not so mucli in the light of two co-ordinate powers
standing side by side, as in that of two properties of
the scul, the exertion of one of which bears to that of
the other the relation of antecedent to consequent.

Feeling. — What position as regards the two powers
just mentioned does the so-called third Faculty of Feeling
hold in our system ? Feelings understood as a group
of emotional states are not, we have already remarked,
the offspring of a third ultimate distinct energy, but
complex products resulting from the action of both
cognitive and appetitive faculties, Feeling viewed
simply as pleasure and pain, and such is the only sense
in which this form of consciousness has even an
apparent claim to the position of a separate facult}',
is merely an aspect of our cognitive and appetitive
energies. It exhibits itself as a positive or negative
colouring, which marks the operations of these powers.
As a (]uality of knowledge it must be conceived to be
dependent on cognitive activity rather than vice versa.
But, inasmuch as it is through this quality that cogni-
tion determines the character of the consequent appetite,
feeling, or rather the cognition as pleasurably or pain-
fully coloured, stands in the relation of cause and effect
to the subsequent appetite. Since, liowever, the activity
of desire may also be more or less agreeable, and since
it may result in satisfaction or discontent, feeling here
again stands in the relation of sequela to volitional
energy. Feeling thus considered as a qualit}' of
conscious acts is of the nature of a variable phase
or tone of both cognitive and appetitive activity ; but


when in the position of a dependent accident of the
former it may be a causal condition of the latter. ^^

Readings —Classification of the Faculties, of. Sum. i. q. 78. For
a very able treatment of the whole subject, see Jungmann'sDas Gemi'ith
itnd das Gefi'ihlsvermogen der neueren PsycJiologie. (Freiburg, 1885.) See
especially §§ 1—5 and 83—100. The attacks on the Faculties are
also exhaustively dealt with by Pesch, Instit Psych §§ 383—390.
On the nature of Faculties, cf. Suarez, De Anima, Lib. II. c. i. and
Metaph. Disp. 18, sect. 3; Gutberlet,. D/^ PsycJiologie, pp. 3—8;
Martineau, Types of Ethical Theories, Vol. II. pp. 10—13; Mercier,
Psychologic, pp. 490 — 494.

1-5 This account of the relations subsisting between cognition,
feeling, and appetency, which we believe to represent the view
of St. Thomas, embraces the elements of truth possessed by
both Hamilton and Dr. Bain in the controversy on the subject.
Hamilton is right in holding that the cognitive or apprehensive
form of consciousness is the most fundamental, and that feeling,
i e., pleasure or pain, is dependent on the former, whilst desire is
a still later result. There is thus some foundation for his assertion
that consciousness is conceivable as cognitive energy void of
pleasure and pain, whilst the latter cannot be conceived unless
as a quality of the former. On the other hand, through not
recognizing the difference between sensuous and intellectual cogni-
tion, he falls into the error of supposing that the latter, and some-
times even that peculiarly reflex form of it which is known as
self-consciousness, is necessarily prior to sensuous pleasure and
pain. Dr Bain maintains feeling to be the primordial element, but
under this term includes both the pleasurable and painful aspects^ of
conscious states, and certain sensations. He is right in holding
sensuous life in general to be prior to rational life, but wrong in
making feeling under the form of pleasure or pain antecedent to or
co-ordinate with cognitive sensibility.


Book I.

Empirical or Phenomenal Psyciiolo';y,

Part I. — Sensuous Life.



Sensation : Sense and Sense-organ. — The most
fundamental and primitive form of conscious life is
sensation. Such being the case, sensation cannot,
properly speaking, be defined. It may, however, be
described as an elementary psychical state aroused
in the animated organism by some exciting cause.
A sensation is thus a modification, not of the mind
alone, nor of the body alone, but of the living
being composed of mind and body. The power oi
experiencing sensations in general is termed saisibi-
lity, while the capacity of the living being for a
particular species of sensations is called a sense.
The special portions of the organism endowed witli
the property of reacting to appropriate stimuli so as


to evoke these particular groups of sensations are
called sense-organs. A being capable of sensations is
described as sentient, or sensitive; and the term
sensuous may be applied to all those mental^ states
which are acts, not of the soul alone, but of the
animated organism.

Excitation of Sensation. — The excitation of a
sensation usually comprises three stages. First,
there is an action of the physical world external to
the organism. This action, transmitted in some
form of motion to the sense-organ, gives rise there
to the second stage. This consists of a molecular
disturbance in the substance of the nerves which
is propagated to the brain. Thereupon, a com-
pletely new phenomenon, the conscious sensation,
is awakened. The nature of the external agencies
which arouse sensation is the subject-matter of the
science of Physics ; the character of the process
within the organism which precedes or accompanies
the psychical state is studied by the science of
Physiology ; while the investigation of the conscious
operation itself is the function of Psychology. In
describing the action of the senses later on, we will
say a brief word on the physical and physiological
conditions of each in particular, but a few very
general remarks on the nature of the physical basis
of conscious life as a whole may be suitable here.

1 We employ the word mental, as equivalent to conscious. In this
sense, it is applicable to all states of consciousness, whether cogni-
tive or appetitive, sensuous or supra-sensuous. The usage of those
scholastic writers who would make this adjective synonymous witli
intellectual, seems to us inconveniently narrow, and too much opposed
to common language.


The Nervous System. — The nervous apparatus of the
animal organism is two-fold — the sympathetic system, and the
cerebrospinal system. Whilst the former controls organic or
vegetative life, the latter constitutes the bodily machinery of
our mental states. The cerebrospinal system itself is also
composed of two parts or subdivisions, the central mass,
and the branches which ramify throughout the body. The
central mass, called the cerebro-spinal axis, is made up of
the brain and the spinal cord passing from it down through
the backbone. The spinal cord consists of a column of white,
fibrous matter, enclosing a core of grey, cellular s ibstance.

From the spinal cord, between every two vertebrae, there
issue forth two pairs of nerves. The nerves proceeding from
the front of the spinal column are called the anterior, efferent,
or motor nerves, inasmuch as they are the channels employed
in the transmission of impulses outwards, and are thus the
instruments of muscular movement. The nerves coming from
the back of the spine are called the afferent, or sensory
nerves, because by their means the molecular movements
which give rise to sensations, are conveyed inwards from
the various organs of the body. The strands of nerves
dividing and sul)dividing as they proceed farther from the
trunk branch out into the finest threads through all parts
of the skin, so that it is practically impossible to prick any
place even with the finest needle without injury to some
nerve. The entire surface of the body is thus connected
with the brain through the spinal cord by an elaborate
telegraph system. {See illustrations at the beginning of the book.)

The Brain. — The brain itself is divided into several portions
or organs, the functions of which are, however, in many cases
but obscurely apprehended. Amongst the chief are the following:

1. The medulla oblongata, which is situated at the root of
the brain where the spinal cord widens out on entering the
skull. It is, in fact, the prolongation of the spinal cord. From
it proceed the nerves of the face and those governing the
actions of the heart and lungs. Hence the fatal nature of
injuries in this quarter.

2. Higher up and projecting backwards over this into the
lower part of the back of the sknll is a large, laminated mass,
forming the cerebellum. Its precise functions are still much
disputed, but it seems to play an important part in co-
ordinating locomotive action.

3. Above and in front of the medulla oblongata is a quantity
of fil^rous matter which from its shape and position has been
called the " bridge " ov pons varolii.

4. Above all there rises the cerebrum or large brain,
exceo:ling in size all the other contents of the skull. It


includes several well-differentiated parts lying at its basement,
the chief of which are the corpus striaiuni, the optic thalamus,
the corpus callosum, and the corpora qiiadrigemina. The cere-
brum consists mainly of a soft, pulpy substance of mixed grey
and white matter, the former being composed of vesicles or
cells, the latter of fibres^ The surface has a very convoluted
or crumpled appearance, caused by a large number of fissures.
One great furrow, called the median fissure, running from the
front to the back of the head, divides the cerebrum into two
nearly equal corresponding parts, the right and left hemispheres.
Lesser clefts, the chief amongst which are the Sylvian fissure,
and ihe fissure of Rolando, subdivide the two hemispheres into
lobes or districts, each containing several convolutions. The
nerve-cells in the upper cortical surface of the cerebrum
seem to be specially instrumental in the memory, or retention
and reproduction of sensory and motor impressions.

The human brain, when it has reached maturity, exceeds
that of all the lower animals in the richness of its convolutions.
These latter seem to increase the efficiency of the brain as
an instrument of the mind, perhaps, by largely augmenting
its superficial area. It is thickly interlined throughout with
small blood-vessels, and though ordinarily less than one-
fortieth of the weight of the body, it receives nearly one-fifth
of the whole circulating blood. Mental operations, as is well
known, exhaust a great deal of nervous energy, and vigorous
intellectual activity requires a plentiful supply of healthy
blood to this organ.

Nerves branching mto different parts of the head are
given off from the centre of the base of the brain in pairs.
The first pair, starting from beneath the corpus callosuui and
proceeding forward form the olfactory nerves. The next pair,
having their root a little farther back in the optic thalamus,
supply the optic nerves. The remaining nerves have their
source in the medulla oblongata. The fifth pair supplies the
nerves which control the skin of the face and the muscles of
the tongue and jaws. The eighth pair, starting still farther
back in the medulla oblongata, constitute the auditory nerve.
The ninth pair go to the tongue ; and the various nerves
issuing from the spinal cord lower down form the tactual
and motor nerves of the rest of the body.

Nerve-terminals. — The external nerve-ends in the several
sense-organs are modified and arranged in various ways so as
to react in answer to their appropriate excitants. 13 ut it is
not yet agreed among physiologists how far specialization in
the structure of the different parts of the nerve-apparatus is
required in order to respond to the different forms of sensori-


Sensori-motor action. — The ordinary process of movement
in response to sensations then is of this kind. An impression,
c.f^., tactual, gustatory, or visual, wrought upon the end-organ
of an afferent nerve, is transmitted in some form of motion to
a centre in the brain. When it arrives there a sensation is
awakened. This state of consciousness now produces an
impulse which flows back along a motor nerve and causes
some movement. Thus, if a man treads on my foot, I pull it
awa}^ even involuntarily.

Reflex-action. — A simpler form of motor-reaction, however,
is exhibited in reflex -movement. Here the impression is reflected
back along a motor nerve from the spinal cord or some
inferior centre before reaching the great terminus in the
brain, and there is an appropriate movement in response to
the stimuli without the intervening conscious sensation.
Thus, tickling the sole of the foot causes convulsive movement
even after the spine has been broken and conscious sensibility
has been extinguished in the lower part of the body.

Properties of Sensation : Quality, Intensity,
Duration. — The most prominent feature by which
sensations of the same or different senses are dis-
tinguished from each other, is that of quality. The
sensations of sound are thus of a generically different
quahty from those of smell, while the feeling of blue
is of a specifically distinct quality from that of red.
These states ma}^ also vary in tone, or pleasurable-
ness and painfulness.

Besides differing in quality, sensations may also
vary in intensity, and duration. By the intensity of
a sensation is understood its vividness, its greater
or less strength in consciousness. The degree of
intensity depends partly on the force of the objective
stimulus, and partly on the vigour of attention.
The duration of a sensation means obviously the
length of time during which it persists in existence.
This is determined mainly by the continuance of
the stimulus. The duration of the sensation is not.



however, always either equal to or simultaneous
with that of the stimulus. A certain brief interval
is always required between the irritation of the
organ and the birth of the mental state, and the
latter continues for a shorter or longer period after
the cessation of the former. A certain lapse of
time is consequently necessary between two succes-
sive excitations in order that there be two distinct
sensations. Thus, in the case of sight, if the action
of the stimulus be repeated oftener than five times
in the second, it ceases to be apprehended as a
series of separate events, and instead, one con-
tinuous sensation is aroused. The ear can distin-
guish as many as fifteen successive vibrations in the
second, while the recuperative power of taste and
smell, after each excitation, is far lower than that
of sight.

Composite stimuli. — It is erroneous, however,
to speak of the continuous sensation produced by
these repeated excitations as a CGinpound sensation
arising from the combination of a number of simple
sensations. It is only by an inaccurate metaphor
that unextended mental states can be described as
blending, or mixing, after the manner of liquids or
gases ; and there is, moreover, nothing to show that
the supposed constituent elementary states ever
came into existence. The simplest and briefest
sensation has for its physical condition a neural
process, divisible into parts ; it would, however, be
absurd to speak of it as composite, on this account.
In the case of a continuous sensation of sound, or
colour, arising from an intermittent stimulus, the


physical and physiological conditions may be more

Online LibraryMichael MaherPsychology: empirical and rational → online text (page 5 of 63)