Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

. (page 15 of 19)
Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 15 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the supreme instance of proof, the systematic exposition
of the self-evidence of that reality which manifests itself
in all experience, and in experience as a whole.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



NOTE B {page 8)

I may quote here, as compact statements of the
philosophical doctrine alluded to in the text, a few
sentences from Mr. Haldane's article on Hegel in the
Contemporary Review for February, 1895. The italics
are mine.

Page 238 : " The ultimate in analysis, the finoMy
real, is experience itself, behind which we cannot go."

Page 235 : " Eooperienee is a comprehensive name
for every kind of direct knowledge.^*

Page 237 : " The ultimate reality is just this con-
sciousness, experience or knowledge in its widest sense."

Page 238 : " Experience tends on the one hand to
resolve itself into pure thought, . . . and on the other
hand into feeling, by elimination of the relations of
thought."

Page 241 : " Feeling . . . has only the negative
character of being an indefinable residuum that always
remains, however far we strip it of intelligible relations.
Experience, it is true, can never be wholly resolved into
intelligible relations. • . . But the residue is itself
nothing apart from the intelligible relations which give
it meaning."



188



Digitized by VjOOQIC



NOTE C {page 22)

The sense of isolation on the part of the individual
is expressed in Matthew Arnold's lines [Switzerland, 5.
To Marguerite (continued)].

" Yes 1 in the sea of life enisled,

With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,

We mortal millions live (done.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know.

" But when the moon their hollows lights,
And they are swept by balms of spring,
And in their glens, on starry nights.

The nightingales divinely sing ;
And lovely notes, from shore to shore.
Across the sounds and channels pour —

" Oh t then a longing like despair

Is to their farthest caverns sent ;
* For surely once,' they feel, * we were

Parts of a single continent 1
Now round us spreads the watery plain —
Oh might our marges meet again ! '

189



Digitized by VjOOQIC



190 Appendix

" Who ordered that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd ?
Who renders vain their deep desire ? —
A Grod — a God their severance ruled 1
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea/'



Digitized by VjOOQIC



NOTE D {page 26)

I can only indicate the bearing on what is said in
the text of the discussion on the relation of individual
experience to intersubjective intercourse, in chapters xv.
and xvi. of Professor Ward's recent book, " Naturalism
and Agnosticism."

My contention is that in our experience there is no
such thing as individual experience which does not pre-
suppose intersubjective intercourse and involve the
results of intersubjective intercourse, and that indi-
vidual experience which is independent of intersub-
jective intercourse, " confined " on Professor Ward's
theory " to the child, the savage, and the brute," has
in my view only a conjectural and hypothetical reality.
It is no part at all of the experience from which philo-
sophy starts. There is no stage of experience known to
us " before the stage at which experience is extended
by intersubjective intercourse " (" Naturalism and
Agnosticism," vol. il p. 155).



191



Digitized by VjOOQIC



NOTE E {page 40)
Consciousness and Self-consciousness

In this chapter on "Feeling," and, again, in the
earlier part of the chapter on "Intellect" — that part,
namely, which treats of perception, — I am in touch
with psychology. The general point of view of this
essay is obviously not the psychological point of view.
I am endeavouring to indicate the vital element in
ordinary experience. The psychologist deals with
ordinary experience, but he deals with it as conscious-
ness, abstracting, so to say, &om the fact that experi-
ence as it stands is consciousness of reality.

But it has been unavoidable that I shoidd use terms
that are commonly used in psychology, and that I
should use them in a different sense from that in which
they are used by the psychologists, and it seems desir-
able to indicate briefly the relation of the language
used in the text to the language of psychology.

On some points I shall be adopting the views of one
psychologist rather than another. In part I shall be
deprecating the suggestion that psychological results
can be the starting-point of logic or philosophy. But
in the main the object of this note is to indicate the

192



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 193

relation of the view of experience given in the text to
the language and teaching of psychology and psycho-
logical logic, and as far as possible to clear away any
obscurities that may have arisen where I have touched
on the domain of psychology. With the subjects .
touched on in this note I hope shortly to deal in a
separate book.

The ordinary man's ordinary consciousness is in the
main composed of perceptions; it is consciousness of
things^ of a world of reality.* We need not for the
moment concern ourselves with the consciousness of
the ordinary man, except to put it aside.

The psychologist is throughout reflective. In so far
as psychology rests on introspection or observation — and,
except as interpreting the data of introspective psycho-
logy, experimental psychology would not be psychology
at all — every proposition in a psychological treatise is a
judgment of reflection — reflection which, as Professor
Ward has said, is the ^' consciousness of consciousness."
Psychology therefore offers a classification of the dif-
ferent kinds of consciousness of which we are conscious.

1. We are conscious of feeling ;f not specificaUy
volitional, intellectual, or emotional, but from which all
three emerge ; not discriminate, though viuious ; self-
less, thingless. I have quoted a passage from Mr.
Bradley, in illustration of the statements in the text on
this. Professor James's chapter on the "Stream of
Thought" ("Principles of Psychology," vol. i) contains
observations which are most suggestive on the subject,

* Perception is here used in a wider sense than is usually assigned to it,
for reasons which will appear below. It covers any discriminate consciousness.

t ** Feeling ** is commonly used in psychology to cover every grade of
what I have called emotion.



Digitized by VjOOQIC



194 Appendix

though he by no means draws the line between feeling
and thought where it seems to me imperative to draw
it. In the main I believe it is true to say that psycho-
logists begin to deal with consciousness when it emerges
from the stage which I have called "feeling."

% We are conscious of volition, thought, emotion. I
have quoted Professor Ward and Professor Ladd — in
confirmation of what I have said in the text — ^to the
effect that these are three aspects of consciousness rather
than three kinds of consciousness; that they are all
three elements in every phase and form of consciousness.
Psychologists differ as to the use of particular terms for
particular stages of volition and thought especially.
I have purposely ignored these distinctions. Holding
that every form of volition, thought, and emotion,
known to us, is, in the sense explained in the text and
in this note, " self-conscious," I wish to emphasise the
unity of character throughout the whole range of the
volitional, intellectual, and emotional course of con-
sciousness respectively.

3. Psychology tries to get back to the earliest forms
of volition, thought, and emotion, and especially of
thought The endeavour is made by a combination
of various methods. The most important element in
the process for our present purpose is the endeavour
made by the psychologist, and encouraged in the psy-
chological student, to catch himself elementarily think-
ing. Psychologists differ as to recognizing or not
recognizing a subject or self in even the earliest, the
least developed, the most primitive form of thought.

As to this latter point. Professor Ladd has recently
said (" Outlines of Descriptive Psychology," cL iL)



Digitized by VjOOQIC



AppCTtdix 195

that a "primary * discriminating consciousness' is the
prerequisite of all distinguishable elements or states of
consciousness;" that "whatever unity any complex
mental state possesses must be imparted to it by so
much of discriminating consciousness as is in it ; " that
a state of consciousness is " such portion of the actual
life of consciousness as may be by discriminating
activity of consciousness considered as a unity both
with respect to its own so-called constitution and also
with respect to its own relation to other states of the
same life ; " that " discrimination . • . seems to belong
to all conscious life."

This seems to me to be true observation, and it
means that an integral part of every observable form
of consciousness is something which contrasts phases or
parts of consciousness with one another, and separates
them from one another.

And the word "presentation," even if it describes
only the vague presentation of an undifferentiated
complex of a world, is as presentation — as presentee? —
a presentation to a presentee.

The " presentation," the " image," the " idea " may
be profitably treated in psychology as though it were
a picture appearing in a field of vision, without refer-
ence to the seeing eye; and the play between the
pictures, or between the various parts of the picture,
may be rightly treated of, apart from any explicit
mention of the consciousness which is conscious of these
consciousnesses. But all this is only the psychological
way of looking at experience. As experience the pre-
sentation can only be described in a judgment — not less
a judgment because it is vague and inarticulate. In



Digitized by VjOOQIC



196 Appendix

so far as it is an experience, however vague and in-
articulate, a judgment it is of the kind of which Mr.
Bosanquet has spoken ("Essentials of Logic/' p. 33),
where he describes "the single immense affirmation,
the continuous affirmative judgment of the waking
consciousness ... so far as aware of a world."

The psychologist can describe this consciousness as
a picture, a presentation, because (1) he purposely
abstracts from reality, treating the world-of-reality of
ordinary experience as a world-of-consciousness only,
and (2) because he considers the presentation, the pre-
sented, without noticing the subject, the presenf^e.
With the presenter, the subject, he is not, as psycho-
logist, concerned, until the subject becomes self-con-
scious in the second sense, conscious o/*sel£

These two senses of self-consciousness have often
been distinguished, and the distinction is here all-
important. I am a self-conscious being, (1) because all
the consciousness I have involves a self; (2) because,
at a certain stage, I become conscious o/*a self.

The self of self-consciousness, in the former sense,
is an inferential reality.

How far in current psychology the progress towards
a consciousness of self is truly described, or how far
it is confused with familiar and persistent elements in
that which is presented in consciousness, are questions
with which I am not here at all concerned. That we
should become, in this second sense, conscious of our
"self," attach predicates to it, gain a definite idea of
its character, is all important for our moral develop-
ment. That this kind of consciousness of self appears
in our psychological history as late and derivative in



Digitized by VjOOSI^



Appendix 197

no way affects the fact that discriminate conscioasness
is, in the other sense of self-consciousness, self-conscious-
ness from the first, consciousness therefore in which
there is a this or thoA set over against the self and
described as Sfuxih and such in relation to the self.

4. With this way of viewing the presentation, or
image, or idea, the language used by Mr. Bradley and
Mr. Bosanquet, as to the relation of the psychological
idea to the logical judgment, becomes inadmissible.
The "idea in my head"* is an "idea in my head"
only to the psychologist. What the psychologist views
as an " idea in my head " is in ordinary experience the
predicate of a judgment — ^a judgment to which there
is no good reason for denying the name of judgment
because it does not satisfy the artificial standard as to
the distinction between truth and falsehood, which is
derived from later intellectual development.

Mr. Bosanquet, at the beginning of " Essentials of
Logic," recalls to the beginner in logic the view which
he has already gained in this study of psychology " of
the mind as the course of consciousness, a continuous
connected presentation, more or less emphasizing within
it various images and groups of images and ideas,
which may be roughly said to act and react upon each
other, to cohere in systems, and to give rise to the
perception of self." Psychology, he is told, " treats "
thus " of the course of ideas and feelings ; Logic, of the
mental construction of reality." " The world is a sort
of building of which the materials are our ideas and
perceptions." Judgment is, so to say, the construc^tive
act And even though the distinction between the

• Bradley, "Principles of Logic," ch. L



Digitized by VjOOQIC



198 Appendix

data of sense presentation and the constnicted sense
presentations is only relative, the idea of sense presen-
tation as material for judgment remains, in a sense in
which it cannot remain if, as we have maintained,
presentation is in itself judgment, and every form of
consdonsness observable by ns self-consdonsness.



Digitized by VjOOgl^



NOTE F {page 53)
Will and Causation

The purport of what is said in the text may fairly
be represented to be that volitional action should be
viewed as one form of causation. The sense in which
it must be maintained that, as a mere fact of observa-
tion, this is true may be further explained, and the
explanation will perhaps throw at least a side light on
the subject of this essay.

Professor Ladd, in his recent " Outlines of Descriptive
Psychology " (p. 366, note), quotes, in order to repudiate,
a dictum of HOflFding, " Psychology must be determin-
istic, that is to say, it must start from the assumption
that the causal law holds good even in the life of the
will, just as the law is assumed to be valid for the
remaining life (Qy. for the rest of life) and for material
nature."

With Professor Ladd's repudiation of this position
I should entirely agree, not merely on the merits of
this particular case, but on the general principle of
loyalty to fact. Professor Ladd lays down, ** Psychology
has no right to any such assumption ; it must stick to
the facts of consciousness, discuss and describe them
just as they are, then, if it can, explain them, but it
must not sophisticate them. Among these facts it finds

199



Digitized by VjOOQIC



200 Appendix

the conscioas and deliberate choice. Its appearance is
not that of a fact in which the causal law holds good ;
it is rather that of a fact arising in the mysterioas
depths of the self-directing mind."

The daim of fact thus to assert itself in spite of any
theory or principle which it may appear to contradict
is all-important To allow the challenge of fact against
every law, however far reaching, and every principle,
however profound, is the only way to give to principles
the genuine verification of universal experience. And
there are no scientific or philosophical principles the
method of whose statement or the form of whose
apprehension may not need to be readjusted in ac-
cordance with a more extended or a juster view of some
one particular region of observation and experience.
The question suggested, then, is whether causation
itself can be rightly conceived when it is stated in
terms which bring it into conflict with indisputable
fact.

The facts of consciousness are thus stated by Pro-
fessor Ladd (pp. 861-366) —

" Between the desire to move and the idea of the
movement desired on the one hand, and the actually
accomplished movement on the other hand, something
intervenes which is unique in psychical character, and
which we express fitly by the words * I will.' "

Of " choice," " the highest form of volition," he says
that we can describe it, but '' explanation is at a
minimum." ^' A man's choices often appear to him to
come out of the mysterious depths of himself, nor is
this appearance diminished on examining the influences
under which he is said to act."



Digitized by VjOOSI^



Appendix 201

Choice involveB —

(1) Mental refpresenUaion of ends.

(2) Excitement of desire implying a feeling of the

value of these ends.

(3) Deliberation, weighing of values.

(4) Decision, appropriation to self of one of the

ends.

(5) Consciousness of doing something, the issuing of

the executive volition.

Of these elements (4) ^^ decision " is ^* the unique
function of the will," but volition is also present in (1),
(2), and (3) ; in deliberation especially, which begins in
that " inhibitory suspense " whose formula is, " Hold on
while I think," " the conscious suspensioji of a deciding
judgment" And " in the very act of deliberating or
estimating our feelings or ideas, we are ourselves
voluntarily determining the conditions of the subsequent
choice."

"Deliberation" is, in fact, "will preliminary to
choice." But " it is the * decision ' or cutting short of
the process of deliberation in which the will gives
supreme expression to itself as self-developed activity."
And here once more, Professor Ladd insists, the psycho-
logical fact milst be described as it is, however it may
be explained. We are influenced by motives ; some
attract and some repel, but even so, " we will our way
to a decision." The decision is our own : " if any of
our conscious states are our own, then a decision is,
a fortiori, ours."

"To the existing science of psychology there is
nothing known that makes any less unique, mysterious,
or impressive the assumption of an inexplicable



Digitized by VjOOQIC



202 Appendix

spontaneity of conscious mind in making, after a de-
liberation, a decision."

Will, as thus defined, is, in Professor Ladd's descrip-
tion of consciousness, only the final development of that
"conation" (pp. 112-116) which is the fimdamental
£stct of consciousness itself.

" Physiology may or may not be justified in speaking
of every amoeba as having a will of its own," but in any
case the psychical fact is that " all psychic life mani-
fests itself to the subject of that life as being in one of
its fundamental aspects his own spontaneous activity.
This fact (datum) is irreducible and beyond dispute."

"Every sensation" (p. 112), "idea, or feeling passively
considered is a sort of challenge to the mind to act, to
put forth a volition, to do something." And, " No state
of suffering or of happiness is so purely passive that it
is not accepted or striven against by that spontaneity of
the mind which belongs to its very nature."

He quotes from Hoffding : " We speak of volitions
whenever we are conscious of activity and not merely
receptive. But ... we never are purely receptive."

The word conation "marks the bare fact of the
spontaneity of mind as entering into every phase and
aspect of its own life."

This " conative element in all psychic life " is an
independent fact, though it finds its "physiological
correlate " in " automatic or centrally initiated nervous
activity."

Accordingly (p. 355), we are to note " the interpene-
tration of all the other so-called faculties during the
whole course of their development with the growing
influence of will." " It is the willing mind regarded



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 203

as definitely adopting ends, selecting means, check-
ing or indulging appetencies, planning, controlling, or
' succumbing ' as respects tlie trend and issue of tlie
stream of consciousness which is the fundamental and
the impressive thing about all human mental life."

Our consciousness of freedom (pp. 369, 370) is
expressed in the assertion *' / will," and this means not
merely I am influenced, but not compelled, or I act, but
I don't know why. " When I deliberately choose, the
complexion of the stream of my consciousness, so to
speak, is the very opposite of that which can properly
be described as passive, compulsory, or determined by
unknown causes."

This is the description of an experience in plain
contradiction to " causal law."

No explanation of it as a delusion has ever yet
escaped the accusation of tampering with the facts
before they are explained.

It may weU be that the contradiction is one which
in the end and in the nature of the case is insoluble.
But it may well be also that the facts of volition, as
stated, for instance, by Professor Ladd, may suggest a
statement of causal law, which will make the contra-
diction of causal law a much less baffling breach than it
is in the continuity of our rational apprehension of the
world.

The psychological fact, then, as stated by Professor
Ladd, is this — Consciousness is conscious spontaneity.
To deny the spontaneity is to deny the consciousness.
Partly from the specific nature of the facts as to this
aspect of consciousness, and partly in conscious con-
troversy with those who warp the facts, a special stress



Digitized by VjOOQIC



204 Appendix

is laid, througliout the chapters on *' Conation ** and
" Will," on the spontaneity of consciousness. But to
the statement that consciousness is conscious spontaneity
must be added the qualification which is indeed implied
throughout — spontaneity, yes, but spontaneity of re-
sponse. The three points noted in the definition of
volition in the text all appear in Professor Ladd's
description of the facts, (1) I act, but (2) I am moved
to act by something distinct from myself, though (3) I
identify myself with that by which I am moved.

The theological controversies over the reconciliation
of individual freedom with the Divine Predestinating
Will afford an illustration of this double character of
volition. The disputants on either side have their
antagonists at their mercy whenever either of the two
aspects of the life of communion with God are ignored,
which are summed up in the title of a recent devotional
work, " The Christian Life a Response."

But, as the conscious spontaneity which asserts itself
as the psychological fact is a spontaneity of response,
and the whole operation of will requires impulse |£rom
without, so the causal law with which psychological fact
is at war is in its turn a law of response.

Professor Ladd alludes to the anticipations of
volition in lower forms of conscious life —to the " auto-
matic or centrally initiated nervous activity," or to the
"amoeba" with "a will of its own." But in organic
life, giving its own shape and character to what it feeds
upon, in chemical action and reaction, and even in
the motion which results from the action of a force
upon a body, we have examples of various kinds of
causal law, in all of which it is equally true to say that



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Appendix 205

the active cause is met by a spontaneous response in
that which it affects, though the impression of spontaneity
which we gain in the different cases is different in degree
and in kind. So that the general statement that
nothing acts in a particular way except under an external
stimulus to act in that particular way, must be always
interpreted to mean that nothing acts in a particular
way except in spontaneous response to an external
stimulus to act in that particular way.

The question therefore is, if all events alike are
spontaneous reactions in response to stimuli, where is
the differentia of will to be found ?

If we are not to say, other events are determined,
will is spontaneous, how are we to express the contrast
or distinction between acts of will and other natural
events ? Whatever the answer to this question may be,
it is something gained to see that this is the form in
which the question should be asked.

The answer as to the distinctive character of
volitional events is not to be found, I think, where it
has been the fashion to look for it, in the dubitative
will Professor Ladd has indeed pointed out, in a
passage already quoted, that deliberation implies a special
type of volition, the inhibitory suspense of the ultimate
volition which is in view. But as regards this ultimate
volition itself, the moment of deliberation is em-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 15 of 19)