Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

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does not begin with a series or collection of simple
feelings. It does not begin with analysing into its parts
Thought begins with ^^ separating into its phases the com-
perception, not with plex Stream of sentient life. It begins
eehng— ^^^ perception. Feeling as we know it

has no content, simple or complex. To the ordinary

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74 -^« Essay on Personality

man, there is no transition or intermediate stage between
mere vague feeling, selfless, objectless, undefined, and
the perception in which he comes upon a fact. Feeling
that can be defined is not prior to perception. It is
the " feeling: " of later. The psychologist,* the reflecting

toS^Siti^ ^^^ *^™^3 ^^^^ ^P^^ perceptive ex-
has supplied perience, and finds that there was in it

a self, that this self perceived, and that the same self
felt before he perceived, and, as he perceives and wills
and loves, is feeling all the time. He endeavours to
describe this feeling, and his endeavour is to find out
what feeling would be if it were not already accompanied
by, bound up with, a self-conscious life. The intro-
spection of a self-conscious being can never give him
this result. To mere feeling, to feeling as felt^ that
elusive thing which haunts us like the shadow of a
dream at which we grasp in vain, reflection supplies
(1) a feeling self, present even when
its presence is disclaimed, whenever
any language is used which makes successive phases or
various parts of the series or complex of feeling " con-
disfcmctiiifi— scious of ouc another ; '' f ^^^ along
with this (2) distinction, qualitative
contrast of successive or contemporaneous elements of
feeling, such as mere feeling, in so far as we know it,

* See Note E, Appendix, p. 192, oa ^* Consciousness and Seif-conscions-
ness."

t Cp. James, "Principles of Psychology," i. 339: "Each pulse of
cognitive consciousness, each thought, dies away and is replaced by another.
The other, among the things it knows, knows its predecessor; *' and at the
conclusion of the passage in which this idea is elaborated, " It is impossible to
discover any verifiable features in personal identity which this sketch does
not contain." On such attempts " to extrude the Ego,'* Professor Ward says
that " every step implies just that relation to a subject which it is supposed to
supersede " (" Encyc. Brit," part 77, p. 39).



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Intellect 75

certainly does not contain or include in itself. We self-
conscious beings can say " I feel/' " I felt," " I feel thus,"
" I felt so ; " but both the distinctions between the " so "
and the " thus," the " feel " and the " felt," in these
judgments, and also the " I " which is their subject, are
foreign — we know it as we say the words — to the feeling
we endeavour to describe. And yet — if we say anything
— we cannot say less than this ; we cannot do less than
represented by a j^dge. We can judge, as in perceiving,
judgment of reflection the form of judgment which arises out

which is a judgment ««t -ii* • i»

of perception turned of feeling m the ordinary expenence of
outside in, ordinary men. Or we can judge, as in

reflecting, the familiar exercise of the psychologist, the
systematic self-observer. The psychologist may check
his self-observation by the help of present perception.
He may interpret it by the theories that have been
handed down, and have become habitual through
centuries of speculative history. He may colour it in
sympathy with the reflective consciousness of those with
whom he has engaged in the living intercourse of dialectic
life, or again by an instinctive appeal to the reflective
faculty as constantly though unsystematically exercised
by ordinary men, under the thousand promptings of
nature, of art, and of the agencies of the moral and re-
ligious intercourse of men. But the judgments, the
observations, the descriptions of the life of consciousness,
of which any manual of psychology is full, are in fact
perceptions turned outside in. They are perceptions
from which we have endeavoured by an efibrt of thought
to abstract the thing perceived, the subject of the judg-
ment of perception, and to which we have, whether
consciously or not, supplied another subject, the self.



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76 An Essay on Personality

converting the judgment of perception into a judgment
of reflection.

This is one way of regarding experience ; it is a view
of experience of absorbing interest, in itself of no small
a judgment of reflec- practical Utility and fruitful of philo-
tion which does not gophic Suggestion. The mistake comes

represent a pre-mtel- . ^ 1 ^i_ 1 1 • ^

lectuai state of con- m Only where the psychologist supposes
saoiisness. himself to be directly investigating a

pre-intellectual phase of consciousness. The psychologist,
like every one else, is dealing directly with intellectual
experience ; he is describing it in a more or less connected
train of often highly complex intellectual judgments of
reflection. The direct results are of the highest value
and interest. It is of interest, too, that he should proceed
to conjectural speculation as to the possible steps by
which feeling rose into self-conscious life. But the two
investigations, the study of present experiences, regarded
as phases in the life of the individual self, and the con-
jectural reconstruction of a history of the emergence of
self-consciousness from feeling, should be clearly kept
apart, and the character of fact, which rightly attaches
to the former, should not be used to cloke the character
of conjecture, which the latter cannot yet claim to
put ofil

So much it has been necessary to say in order to
justify the beginning which we here make of the treat-
And perception is ment of the intellectual side of self-
perceptionofathinft conscious personal life— in beginning,
namely, with perception. But we must make a further
claim. We begin with perception as the perception of
a thing. In logic and in the theory of knowledge, it
used to be common to make a beginning with that



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Intellect 77

which is the touching point between the supposed
subject and the supposed object of knowledge, between
mind and thing, real or imagined in either case, for
sometimes it is represented that only this touching
point is experience, is real, and that the thing which
not of an "idea,** gives the "idea" and the mind to
which la a sensation which the "idea" is given are only
quality without a' inferential 'realities. Sometimes the
*^"^"" inference in one or other case is acknow-

ledged and defended. But the point which concerns us
here, is not whether, given a world of ideas, we can infer
a world of things, or a world-constructing mind. The
point is, whether we do begin with that which in refer-
ence to the perceiving mind is an idea, and in reference
to the real thing a quality under which it is known.
We have spoken of turning experience outside in, of
converting a judgment of perception into a judgment of
reflection, by detaching the quality under which a thing
is known from the thing of which it is conceived as a
predicate, and attaching it to the mind as a sensation
or idea. If it is possible to go through any such pro-
cess, it might seem as if it must be possible to appre-
hend the quality or idea by itself, and without attaching
it to any subject at all. But, as a matter of fact, there
is no such possibility. It does not matter for the

the simple "idea "is P^^^^® whether we take the simple
not a pssnchoiogicai idea of the older psychological philo-
^**^' sophy or the complex content of the

modem psychologist. The word " red " suggests an
idea or a quality. To the ordinary mind it calls up
some red thing — a this or a that — to be the subject
of the perceptive judgment. To the mind practised in



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78 An Essay on Personality

abstraction it is possible to withdraw the attention from
the thing described as having the quality, and to fix it on
the mind that entertains the idea, though such an effort
of abstraction is especially difficult in the case of simple
sensible qualities. But to neither does the adjective
without an instinctively supplied substantive describe
any phase of consciousness at all. An idea of '' red " is
not a psychological fact, as it certainly is not a fact of
ordinary experience. The form of the abstract sub-
stantive " redness " testifies to this. The adjective has
to be made into a substantive, into a fictitious thing,
in order to be talked about ; it cannot stand in its own
right. Be it remembered that we are considering what
is the ordinary experience of men — the experience from
which philosophy starts, and for which it has to account.
It may account for experience by showing it to be
delusive, but it must, to start with, take the facts as they
stand, and the older psychological philosophy may find
a test after its own heart in this consideration — ^that the
supposed simple idea, as an idea, is no part of human
experience at all.

But the "content" of modem psychology is in no
better case. Even if, departing from all the habits of

the "content "is a ^^ ®*^^ *^^ waking life, we follow
content of some- the lure of the psychologist, and pass
^"" into a region where we have abstracted

from the world of objects and the perceiving self alike,
and are conceiving consciousness as a stream, a mass,
the content is the content of the stream, the mass.
There is no longer a conscious " I," only a conscious-
ness, but the abstraction has become concrete enough
to contain its content. And, as a matter of fact, our



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Intellect 79

instinctive revolt against this caricature of consciousness
is justified. No such thing as the vague content of a
moment or phase of consciousness is ever present to
consciousness at all, except as the predicate of a vaguely
conceived reality, a universal "this," an amorphous
something of a world, a wide and indefinite " it" And
the perception, which in all of us is the first step in
intellectual life, and in the ordinary man is the prevalent
reality for which we have to account, is a perception of
things, a perception of fact.

A perception of things — the theory that experience
is of ideas might suggest that we mean a perception
experience is of of thmgs as the cause of ideas. We
qualified tfaisgik ^r^ asserting, on the contrary, that
there is no such element in ordinary experience as an
"idea" needing a thing as its cause. Experience is
not of qualities but of qualified things, and experience
in this first phase of it is expressed in the judgment
of perception. We may proceed, then, to define more
closely the nature of perception as perception of fact,
the primary and normal meaning of the judgment, and
to indicate the share of th^ other faculties of personality
in this initial intellectual act.

The primary judgment of perception, then, is a
judgment of fact ; but it is so by assumption rather
Perception is a jud^- than by assertion. It is a mistake to

ment of fact assumed represent the normal judgment as a
as fact, not a judgf- ,■■• _ t

ment of truth as op- judgment of truth as opposed to false-
posed to falsehood; jj^^^ ^jf ^^^ ^ opposed to fiction.*

There is a stage of judgment before the distinctions

* Cp. Note E, on ^' Consciousness and Self-consciousness/* pp. 195, 196 ;
Bosanquet, " Essentials of Logic/' p. 66 ; Bradley, ^' Principles of Logic," oh. i.



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8o An Essay on Personality

between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood, have
arisen and become explicit. The larger part of our
self-conscious intellectual life consists of judgments of
this character — judgments which are not judgments of
truth, because the suggestion has not been raised that
they are false; they are not judgments of fact as
opposed to fiction, they are judgments of unquestioned
fact. It is most important to avoid the mistake of
denying the title of judgment to all stages or phases
of intellectual life, prior to that form of judgment
which contains an explicit assertion of truth as opposed
to falsehood. The mistake is fatal, not only because
the early unreflective and uncontroversial type of
judgments fill so large a space in experience, and are
the most crucial and instructive instance of perception,
but also because the result is to leave apparently an
undefined borderland between feeling and thought, a
borderland which as a matter of fact does not exist.
Perception, as soon as there is perception, is at once
a judgment — never less. Nothing less is definable as
a state of intellectual consciousness at all.

But, on the other hand, perception is from the first
a judgment of reality, not in the sense that it affirms
it does not affirm reality as a predicate, but in the sense
rcauty as a predicate; that it is a judgment of fact. The

it asserts something^ . .

of reality (Le. of the judgment of perception primarily asserts
primafyreauty), something of reality. Ultimately no
doubt the assertion made in a perception is an assertion
which concerns the final and absolute reality. The
primary reality of perception is the representative of
this final reality in the earlier stages of intelligence.
It will be found ultimately to involve the absolute



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Intellect 8i

reality, to run back into it, to be based upon it. Per-
ception indeed in its earliest stage includes, besides the
object primarily and directly perceived, the vague back-
ground of a wider world of reality. But the universal
reality is at this stage concentrated into and represented
by the primary reality — the thing perceived. And the

of teatity aasomedas ^^^^^^ ^^ *^^' *^® primary reaUty, the
the subject of asser- thing of perception, is not asserted ; it
^°' is rather assumed, where something else

is asserted of it. But it is assumed, and the assertion would
vanish into thin air without the assumption of a thing of
which something is asserted. As I
walk along the road I may perceive the
country through which I am walking, without being
conscious of the road on which I tread ; or I may be for
a time blind to the sights that are within my view, and
perceive the road under my feet — perceiving, e.g,^ that
it is rough or smooth, that it is level or that it is
steep,' that it is hard and firm or soft and slimy. And
I may perceive any or all of these things in succession,
or many of them simultaneously, without the perception
being articulate, not only without the judgment of
perception being expressed in words, but without its
asserting itself in the series of experience, as a definite
and clearly separate event. Or, again, as I thus walk
and perceive, say, the road on which I walk, my foot
may strike against a stone, and there will then arise
a judgment of perception, which is separate, definite,
articulate. I probably should not even mentally put
it into words at the time, but if I tried to describe its
occurrence afterwards, I should describe it in some such
words as these : " I said to myself, ' That is a stone.' "

a



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82 An Essay on Personality

In tMs description of a perception, the demonstrative
pronoun and the word which is predicated of it stand
for the two constant elements in a judgment of per-
ception. And these two elements were present no less
in each of the less articulate perceptions about the
nature of the road which went before. That which is
asserted in the judgment of perception is in the later
case " a stone," in the former cases " hard," " smooth,"
"steep," "soft," etc. That which is assumed is the
"that" or the "road." Where the thing of which
something is predicated is designated by a descriptive
word, as, e.g.^ " road," the quality of the thing described
in this word may be merely a means of designation, or
it may be really part of the predicate, so that the
judgment would be more truly expressed, "This is a
smooth road."

The " thing," the " this," the " that," of which some
predication is made is not the final reality ; it %8 the
primary reality. Even as a primary reality that which
is described as a stone or a road carries with it a number
of other perceptions, which not merely accompany it,
but contribute to the surface and obvious meaning of
the words in which the mere first-hand perception itself
is described. And the "thing-hood," the "this-ness"
or " that-ness," the " reality " of the object of perception,
one may almost say, does not profess to be a complete
or final reality. It begins at once — ^through a con-
sideration of the predicates by which it is described — in
its mere reality, to refer itself to, to resolve itself into
ulterior realities. From the first it presents itself in
the circumambient atmosphere of the universal reality,
towards whose apprehension it may be the first step, in



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^iWH'l— — !■ ""I ■ '-• "■ ■•"'- 1



I



Intellect 83

its relation to which alone it will be finally intelligible
as a reality at all. But it is the primary reality with
which we have to do in perception ; it is only through
the primary reality that we have to do with any reality
beyond. The stone, the road, are for the moment the
means through which a world, an absolute reality, come
before us ; and the reality of which we are speaking as
belonging to the "this," the "that," the "thing," the
reality of that which we perceive as a stone, a road, is
not asserted. The perception does not assert, " There
is a thing," and " The thing is a stone ; " it asserts that
the thing is a stone ; it asswrnss the thing. But it does
assume it ; and perception is not truly described, is not
described so that the ordinary man would recognise in
it his constant experience, if this reality, the thing,
the " this " or " that," be omitted. Whatever may be
the ultimate result of the analysis of perception, it is
not a true description of perception as a type of expe-
rience to say that in it the predicate — stone, hard
road, or what-not — is attached to or predicated of any
other part or parts of its context in experience, or of
the complex of experience as a whole, regarded as the
universal reality. Perception is only truly described
to start with as an assertion about an assumed reality.

What, then, is this reality that is assumed ? Can
we say anything about it ? Can we say what we mean
Perceptioa is an by a " thing " ? Can we say any more

jM^nS?rMiS^.*" *^^^ *^** it is a capacity for predica-
What is the "reality," tion, a Capacity for qualification, a
asmmi^P^wiiatis point of relation to the self and to
"exirtencc"? other things? It "exists." Can we

flay what we mean by existence? Is "existence" a



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84 An Essay on Personality

predicate ? If so, what is the subject of which it is to
be predicated? It is existence again. The meaning
At this stage it can- ^^ "existence" — and there are other

not be defined, it is terms of which the same is true in
the subject of per- - - . ^ .

petnaiiy progressive some degree — the meamng of "exist-
definition; ence " cannot be fully defined, stated,

and set forth, to start with, in its first and simplest
applications, partly because its elementary meaning is
less intelligible than its later meaning. A thing is a
much more baffling conception to grapple with than
a person, a world, a Grod. But to the end it is true
of such a conception, and it is pre-eminently true of
existence, that it remains in some degree beyond defini-
tion. It is the perpetual subject of predication; it
challenges and defies complete definition. It will cease
to challenge definition only when it can be characterised
in terms in some degree adequate to the description
of the universe as a whole. We shall define existence
only when we can sum the universe. The question will
then be answered in the sense that it will no longer be
asked. We shall cease to ask what the subject is when
bat to start with it is, the predicate has told us. At this

reality. experience as it stands, we cannot say

more than experience itself seems to assert Here is
this element in experience. We perceive nothing with-
out perceiving it of something, which in the perception
is not asserted but assumed. If we are analysing and
describing experience, it includes this element, the
thing. It is not a thing, a reality, independent of
experienced reality, outside it or beyond it. It is not
a thing with difi'erent or unknown qualities, but with



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Intellect 85

known qualities — with those qualities, namely, which
perception attributes to it. It is an element in expe-
rienced reality itself. Predication is not predication
without a subject. Relation implies points of relation.
The burden of existence cannot be thrown upon the
predicate, nor this " solid-seeming world " resolved into
a network of relations. Not that the points of relation
are in themselves a substantive and final reality. The
thing is not a reality underlying its qualities; the
thing with its qualities is the reality. And this, again,
will in the end resolve itself into other realities, and
all at last into some complex or sunmiation of realities,
which will be the final reality, and is abeady fore-
shadowed in this primary reality. But we shall have
emptied all experience of reality if we have, to start
with, unrealized the first stage or phase of the experi-
ence of reality, either on the pretext that it is not the
last, or on the pretext that what cannot yet be defined
may be once for all disregarded.

There is one further point to be noted as to the
reality assumed in perception. Though there is no
And the reaUty a». explicit reference to the perceiving self
snmed in the thing is in the normal unreflective perception,

^^^X^S^"" i* ^ay> I *^i^^> ^^ asserted of per-
between the thing ceptive experience that the assumption
and the self. *• i- • t 7 • •

of reality m the thing is an assump-
tion of a reality common to it with the self^ placing
the two on one level of existence. Indirectly there-
fore the existence of a perceiver is already involved in
the very content of perception, and this means, further,
the assumption of a common element of existence, a
common ground of reality in which they meet.



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86 An Essay on Personality

The judgment of perception, then, asserts something
of this reality which it assumes, the thing. What is it
Of this assamed that it asserts ? That which it affirms,
li^^r^t^to whatever else may be said of it, bears
the perceiTiiig aeif» this character at least, it is a relation
to the perceiving self. We are describing the nature
of the experience of the ordinary man when he per-
ceives — when, for instance, he walks along the road
and kicks against a stone. When we say that in the
perception described in such words as " that was hard "
he is describing the thing by predicating of it that which
is a relation to his own perceiving self, we do not mean
to say that his perception contains in it any explicit
consciousness on his own part that hardness is a relation
to his own perceiving self. In these descriptions of
ordinary experience all that we can profess to give is
what appears to the reflective philosopher to be included
in unreflecting experience as he recalls it, or as he
knows it in its expression in common language and
practice. But he aims at giving what appears to the
reflecting philosopher to be included in ordinary expe-
rience, not what turns out to be involved in it, when it
is reflected on and analysed either by the philosopher
or by the practical man. The question which the
philosopher has to consider in such cases is this :
Would the ordinary man feel his experience in per-
ception to be the same if, for instance, the existence
of the thing were not assumed to be conunon to the
thing and to his own perceiving self? And in the
present case it is plain that the philosopher, trying to
describe what it is that is predicated of the thing
perceived, can only describe it as primarily a relation



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Intellect 87

to the perceiving self — hard, soft, e.g.^ denote diflferent
degrees and kinds of resistance. If we were to suggest
to the ordinary unsophisticated subject of perception
that the thing he perceived existed, but that existence
did not mean something that he himself as the perceiv-
ing subject shared, he would demur to any distinction
in the matter of existence between himself as perceiving


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Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 7 of 19)