Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

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and the thing as perceived ; or, again, if we suggested
to him that the hardness or the softness of the thing
he perceived had no connection with his own perceiving
sense, he would reply that this was what hard and soft
meant, that the thing /efe hard or soft. If, on the other
hand, you pointed out to him that a stone implied a
rock mass from which it had been originally detached,
he would acquiesce in the statement, but he would
demur to your saying that it was a part of his per-
ception that he had kicked a fragment detached from
a rock mass. This may be involved in his perception,
but it is not included in it. That which is predicated
then, in the judgment of perception, is a relation to the
perceiving self. It is an essential part of the judgment
of perception that it is so.

Further, it is a relation to the perceiving self which

always carries with it a relation to other things. Not

.^. ,^ merely is the descriptive word a com-

carryin^ witn it a •' . . i . -

relation to other mon term, carrymg with it a reference
***^'**' to numberless similar elements in

experience, but epithets describing colour, for instance,
imply contrast and discrimination between various
elements in experience. Words such as "hard,"
" soft," etc, imply the kind of resistance that is thought
of as manifesting itself no less in relation to other



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88 An Essay on Personality

material things than to the body of the perceiving
self.

Here, as in the case of the existence of the thing,
we must say of any quality predicated in the judg-
the mere qaaUtj, like ments of perception, that when we
SLJbJ^SS. ^^^^ ^^^^ it as including or inyolv-
tioo. ing any relation, or system of relations,

to other things, its mere quality remains beyond defi-
nition. In its mere simplicity, and apart from the
part it plays in the expression of deeper and more
world-wide truths, which will in the end constitute an
adequate explanation of it, the mere sensible quality,
red, hard, loud, defies definition. The relations by
which we define it become, as we discern them,
inseparable from it, but they do not exhaust its
meaning.

And yet it is the express import of the judgment to
identify the thing with this relation to the self. Thing
The experience of ^"^^ quality are not two experiences or
perceptioaisthe t^Q parts of experience, or two kinds

anion of the thing ^ 11

and the feiation to of experience; they are two elements
****■•"• of a single experience. However dis-

parate from one another thing and quality, considered
apart, may seem to be, it is the fact about perception
that it is their union.

And it is in this affirmation of identity between the
thing and its relation to the self, even more than in
Here first experience ^^^ common reality assumed to belong
presents us with com- to both, that intellectual experience

mumon with reaUtj /• . . .., ¥ .^v

astheverynatoieof first presents US With communion with
"^*2r- reality as the very nature of reality

itself. The consideration of perception has thus led us



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Intellect 89

to a view about the experience of reality the very
opposite of that which is familiar to us, whenever in
one form or another we are invited to trust to the
argument, " The self is real, let us attribute this reality
to the thing." The argument of experience itself is
rather this : The thing is real, and this means that it
is part of a system of reality of which the self is also
a part, and whose reality consists in their relation to
one another. In asserting the thing perceived to be
fact in this sense, we are already virtually grouping the
thing with other things, so far known, as component
parts of a whole of reality, of which the thing perceived
is for the moment the central point, a whole only so far
vaguely foreshadowed as a whole.

What, then, is the part played by the will in this
first stage in the development of the self-conscious
As to the part pUyed intellectual life ? If we look back at

by wiU in perception, the feeling which lies behind the in-
mere f eelinff in*

▼oives action and tellectual and every other form of self-
reaction, conscious life, we find in it two factors
answering to what, in the analysis of self-conscious life,
are commonly called subject and object ; and the changes
of feeling (quite apart from any question as to its
physical or physiological antecedents) seem to be neces-
sarily due to action and reaction between the subject of
feeling — ^the feeling thing, and other things. I do not
think we can avoid thus considering feeling. The mere
meaning of the word seems to unfold into this. In so
far as we may be guided by the view which thus suggests
itself, action, which is one of the elements in our defini
tion of will, is already involved before we come to self-
consciousness.



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90 An Essay on Personality

But will is not merely action, it is motived action, and
the question here is, how motived action may be traced
perception Involves ^ perception, as the first form in which
X^f^g^^ intellectual self-consciousness emerges
itself: perception from feeling. Perception is, as we have
endorses its claim ^^^^ ^^ perception of fact, the appre-
hension of existence. The thing perceived puts itself
forward, asserts itself in the intellectual consciousness as
claiming existence. And perception is the acceptance of
this claim, the endorsement of it, the identification of the
existence of the perceiving self with the existence of
the thing perceived in the act of perception. From one
point of view we might describe the life of perception
as a perpetual verification of our own existence in our
relation to things, a perpetual widening of the basis of
our belief in our own actuality. From another point
of view, and one more nearly akin to the perception of
conmion experience, in the life of perception, the various
elements of reality assert themselves, and claim us as a
part of their being, and we acquiesce in the daim, and
surrender ourselves to take our place in this world of
reality. But in any case it seems to be true to say that
the common unreflecting perception presents itself to
reflection, not as an act of the perceiving self, but as an
act of the thing asserting itself, though an act known
only in the reaction of the self, which appropriates the
assertion and makes it its own. Something, as we
conmionly say, intrudes itself, thrusts itself on our
attention, and thrusts itself upon us as claiming our
acknowledgment. And this claim in the judgment of
perception we endorse and adopt as our own assertion.
Perception thus answers to the type of will, as action



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Intellect 91

motived by something other than the self, the motive
being adopted by the self, which in adopting it identifies
itself with it.

Again, in this aspect of perceptive experience, where
we are viewing perception as perception of reality, the
. .. ^. assumption of existence in the thing

[and m tfaia same ^ • • -l ^J

aspect of perception perceived as common to it with the
SSi?!S*Sfki^ perceiving self, involves something of
existence is also the character which we have defined in
emotional]. emotion. The coincidence, so to call it,

of the thing and the self in the element of existence is
a qualification of the self by its relation to the thing,
and of the thing by its relation to the self. But the
character of emotion attaches more obviously to the
And the predicate of purport of perception, the qualification
^^itti^^tolhe attached to the assumed existence, the
definition of emotion predicate of the perceptive judgment.
We have said that the predicate of the perceptive judg-
ment is always a relation to the perceiving self. We
may say that the judgment, in fact, characterises the
thing by a certain qualification in virtue of its produc-
ing a certain effect on the self. And this is to bring
the definition of this element in perception very near to
the definition of emotion, as that form of self-conscious-
ness in which something other than ourselves qualifies
our consciousness, and is itself qualified in virtue of its
doing so.

In this emotional appreciation of the quality of the

[tiiisagain involving **^& *^®^^ ^ *^ operation of will,
also a voUtionai eie- absorbing the action of the thing upon
^^^ the self, and acquiescing in the qualifi-

cation of the self, which is expressed in the qualification



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92 An Essay on Personality

of the thing. But, as in the assumption of the thing
it is the will that is more obviously present, so in the
realisation of the quality it is emotion which is to
the perceptive ju^- the front. So that it might with some

"SSfti^S?Ste ^^^^ ^f *r^*l^ ^ »^id that the pur-
the emotioiiai fact" port of the perceptive' judgment is —
" the volitional fact is the emotional fact"

We have noted, in passing, that thing and quality
have both a certain undefinable character about them.
Thinff and qaaUty, If we say that in thing and quality the
the inteUectrai de- intellect is taking stock of the elements

tnentSy imaefiiiable ^

as they are, are less of moral and emotional experience,
^^Shrtd" action and feeling, we are, I think,
lectnai fact professes rendering the sense of mystery in these
S^'^^^lLr beginnings of thought less baffling, but
and emotional fact we are not removing it. Action and
feeling, the pre-self-conscious prototypes of will and
emotion, and the elements with which we start in their
definition, have about them, as descriptions of elementary
experience, the same baffling character. It is impossible
to use a verb which does not imply the one, or an adjec-
tive which does not imply the other. The positive
meaning of either term we assumed when we spoke of
action in the definition of will, and of feeling in the
definition of emotion.

But although the elementary forms of the moral
intellectual and emotional self-consciousness are to be
defined, not by analysing them into their elements, but
by following out their development and growth in
experience, the baffling sense of unreality with which
we face the logical elements of experience, offered to us
as the beginnings out of which the universal knowledge



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Intellect 93

is to grow, is in part removed, when we realise that the
were intellectual element is a non-existent thing, that
in its most abstract form it presents itself only as one
aspect of volitional and emotional fact, volitional and
emotional fact which are present in it, the intellectual
fact, and which contribute to make it intellectual fact.

We have thus reviewed the nature of perception in
order to show how the other faculties of personality
play their part in this first stage of intellectual life, and
contribute to establish that communion with reality in
which experience consists.

In the course of this review we have not insisted on
the fact, already noted in a previous chapter,* that per-
Pexceptioii is by ception of fact does not profess to be
^S^^iSa°Md a^ *^* ^f ^J merely individual mind,
collective. but of the individual as the organ of

the collective mind. The omission was deliberate; it
may be justified on the very ground on which the fact
was maintained. So long as we are at the stage of
perception proper, the relation to the self is assumed to
be a relation to the collective self. The perception does
not become consciously individual until it is questioned,
and challenges verification and proof. But although,
whenever the self is spoken of in the pages immediately
preceding, it will, I think, naturally be understood to
mean the self in me which assumes itself to be one with
the self in others, it may be misunderstood to mean the
merely individual self. The combination of abstraction
and complexity rendered the preceding section unavoid-
ably diJEcult, and it seemed better to risk the chance of
a temporary misunderstanding, not very material to the
* Page 25, and cp. Note D, on " Interaubjective Intercourae," p. 191.



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94 -^^ Essay on Personality

points immediately at issue, rather than to introduce
an additional complication by indicating the social
character of the intellectual act in every aspect in which
•WM.- 1 ^ -«.• I. r it was considered. It becomes neces-

This point, wlucfa, for i i . i

the sake of simpU- sary here to note that the judgment of
STL^'nt^? perception is understood by the per-
on, now becomes ceiver to State not what he, as contra-
important distinguished from others, perceives,

but rather what he perceives and any one would per-
ceive in his place. This character of perception is, as
we have already seen, important in itself: it is of
further importance when we pass beyond perception.

Perception is simple, positive, assured. We have
now to pass from perception to another stage of intel*
II. Mediation. lectual self-consciousness, in which the

^iTSSitivi^*^" cardinal feature is that the simplicity
(3)a88nre<L of perception is gone. A view of

ISSL'ST^^ 'f*li*y tal^ea its place, in which the
ulaiysis and expiana- single foreground reality of the thing
hSl^ofacS^cx perceived melts into a crowd of reali-
'«^^- ties, the simple quality named by some

obvious relation to the self dissolves under examination
into a network of related qualities, and the mutual
interdependence of these multitudinous elements of
reality becomes the character, the very reality itself, of
the stage of experience at which we find ourselves.

But the substitution of the mutual interdependence
of a network of realities for the simplicity of the thing
(2) The perception of perceived is not the only change which
£^oS1to2l. supervenes upon perception. Follow-
ins: verification, ing this, or, at a late stage of culture,
accompanying it, or preceding it, two other changes



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Intellect 95

break the peace of the first achievement of assured
communion with reality. The question may occur, as
for instance where there is some apparent contradiction
or inconsistency between successive or simultaneous
perceptions, Is this perception a fact, or is it only
a feeling, an appearance ? The quality, which, it has
been obvious all along to the reflecting observer of
perception, has been a relation to the self, now becomes
so consciously and explicitly to the perceiving mind,
which now feels impelled to ask, This is an impression ;
is it anything more than an impression ? We are not
asking now how the change comes to arise, or what the
perceiver, now self-conscious in a new sense, means by
his distinction between impression and fact, or to what
issues in the conception of reality this momentous
change in the character of experience may lead. We
only note a change which in ordinary experience occurs.
The stone I kick in the road may fly into pieces, and
suggest the question. Was it one thing or many ? It
may catch my eye as a pebble coated with chalk, and
suggest that it was a part of a large and complex mass ;
or, again, its colour and texture may suggest that it is
chalk, and my mind may fly to a summary remem-
brance of the geological history which that name
suggests. The place of the stone as the experienced
reality may thus be taken by a mass of perhaps rather
dimly understood geological laws and relations, a reality
of which the stone is only an outcome, a part, a sub-
ordinate feature. But in all this the communion with
reality is undisturbed, the geological history is fact
every bit as much as the stone. Suppose, however, that
after I have kicked the stone it seems mysteriously to



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96 An Essay on Personality

disappear, or that after seeming to observe that it is
chalk, I recall that I am far distant from any part
of the country where chalk would naturally be found.
Here we have instances of the kind of experience which
gives rise to question and to distinction between fact
and impression, and which sets us to work not merely
to analyse, but to verify the purport of our first per-
ceptive judgment.

This desire for verification of impression may concern
one perception or alL In its simplest form, an element,

(a verification which ^ ^^ ^^^® ^een, of everyday ex-
inchides explanation): perience, it has been expanded in
centuries of speculation into various theories of know-
ledge, sceptical or the reverse. In the form in which
it appears in these theories of knowledge, and even in
some degree in its earlier and simpler form, it neces-
sarily includes that explanation, that break-up of
the simplicity of perception, of which we have already
spoken ; whereas the substitution of a multitude of
interdependent realities for the simpler reality of per-
ception does not necessarily carry with it any demand
for the verification of impression.*

But there is a further change still that passes over
the reality of the thing perceived, in the withdrawal

* Except in 80 &r as what logicians call the mediation of the thing per-
ceived through other things inclades, among other details, the mediation of it
through the perceiving self. For, as one of the fects about the stone is that
it is chalk, so another is that it gives rise to certain sensations ; and, indeed, al
demand for verification of impression includes, in fact, the mediation of the
reality revealed in the perceptive judgment, through the assumed reality of
the self. We are virtually saying, *« Was it really a stone ? Well, I really
am a perceiving subject, and I had the impression of kicking a stone ; how did
it arise ? " The philosophies of knowledge which start from sensations to
prove realities are, in fact, thus demanding a verification of impression, which
naturally they are not likely to find— in unpiession.



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Intellect 97

of that assurance of reality which consisted in the
instinctive assumption of a collective warrant for the
verdict of perception in the individual subject There
(3) The assnnuice of comes a moment, again a feature in
^^OT^im?^*" common experience, when the question
demand proof, arises, not — Was the perceptive expe-

rience feeling without fact? but — "Was it my percep-
tion merely, my individual perception, a delusion, an
hallucination, a freak of individual fancy? If any
one were to ask me to communicate to them the
assurance with which the experience was accompanied
in me, how could I do so ? Have I any assurance that
what I perceived others would have perceived also?"
The philosophical equivalent of this stage of mediation
is " solipsism," the theory that each individual knows
only the events of his own consciousness. The point to
be noted at this stage is that the assurance of common
conviction which made us call fact a result of collective
mind has disappeared, and that the individual, ill at
ease without this assurance, is aiming at re-establishing
it. This is the demand for proof, something which
will produce the assurance of reality.

Normally, it includes verification of feeling as such
(individual or not) in fact ; we cannot re-establish the
(which includes veri- assurance of common conviction with-
ficAtion and expiana- out re-establishing the sense of contact
with reality. It is itself an instance of
verification, the verification of our judgment of fact by
that of others. It works by an appeal to common ex-
perience of fact as fact. It includes mediation ; it is by
the full analysis of the individual perception, following
it up into its elements and into its relations, that we

H



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98 An Essay on Personality

aim at producing conviction. It is itself an instance of
mediation, the mediation of the individual judgment by
the judgment of others ; individual conviction resolves
into, appeals to that of others, and stakes its own
reality upon its right to claim to have succeeded in the
appeal. Proof in its fullest sense thus presents in its
final shape the stage of experience of which we are
to speak.

This is what proof must invariably be — mediation.
It involves this to start with — fact resolving itself
L Mediation begins into ulterior fSa.ct The apparent whole

Into ulterior facts, ceived gives place to other realities,
which might each in turn be just such a momentary
summing of the world, gathering up into itself the con-
centrated reality of experience. But, as it stands, these
ulterior realities, into which the primary reality of per-
ception resolves itself, are parts, fragments, connected
each with the other, and with the reality from which we
start The reality of each in turn, like the reality of the
thing perceived, carries us back to another, and that to
another, so that the stress of reality now lies not on the
things each in turn, but rather on the fact of their
forming part of a connected series. But the change does
not take place by the reality of perception fading, and
another larger reality emerging into distinctness, as
though, the foreground having disappeared, the back-
ground were to challenge attention. The perceived
reality itself resolves itself into these ulterior realities,
the whole into its parts, the eflfect into its causes.
There is nothing arbitrary, disconnected, spasmodic,
about the change. We cannot hold by the primary



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Intellect 99

reality and decline to pass beyond it. We find our-
selves unawares at the point at which, without
challenging and rejecting the primary reality itself,
we cannot avoid going beyond it. The whole is not
a fact except as composed of its parts. The e£fect is
not a reality except as the effect of its conditions ; they
are inseparable from one another. The parts are
distinct from the whole, the causes from the effect, but
the reality of the parts is inextricably bound up with
the reality of the whole, the reality of the causes with
whose interdepend- that of their effect. And this con-
*?*^*^ ^•.f^*,.. nection between the two, like the

of the fact M the self- . . , ,. /. , i . . t

evident reality of the original reality of the thmg perceived,
^^^^^ is self-evident The connection becomes

in fact itself the reality, the fact, that which is. That
which is perceived, that which exists, is, at this stage
of intellectual life, the related series of things, not yet
apprehended as a series, unified into a world, rounded
into a whole, though such a whole, such a world is
implied in their mutual relation, as including and
included, as cause and effect, as conditions each of the
other. Such a perception of a whole we may see to be
in the background of the, as yet, imperfectly organised
world of connected facts. But for the present the
reality, the thing perceived, is the fact of connection
itself— mediation, mutual interdependence. This is the
substantive fact of the world.

Science is the great example of this stage of
intellectual development. To the scientific man the
This is the reaUty of fact of the world is not what we com-
•^^^^^^ monly speak of as fact. The fact of

the scientific man is law, the connectedness of things. He



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100 An Essay on Personality

does not pretend that to him the circle of knowledge is
closed, and the world has rounded into a whole that is
all-embracing and complete. But nevertheless the fact
of mediation, connection, interdependence, is to him
the one commanding fact Testimony which would be
otherwise unquestioned, the positive evidence of the
senses in perception, are alike instinctively rejected if
they are felt to be at discord with the actual context
of experience, if they violate the apparent connectedness
of things. The sense of the revelation of mysteries,
the dominant and imperious tone which characterise
scientific utterances, are the natural outcome of an
extraordinary growth of science in this direction.
Science has developed, it is true, by the extension of
its field, by great advances of knowledge in this pro-
vince or in that, but most of all in the origination
and application of great connecting conceptions. The
mediation of fact by fact, the connectedness of things,
has thus become more exclusively than ever the object
of scientific contemplation, the dominant idea, the
central fact of systematised experience. Often the
scientific man is accused of inconsistency because, for
instance, he resolves matter into facts of sensation,
and sensations into material facts. The fact is that
the mutual connectedness of groups of phenomena is
more real to him than either set of phenomena in itself;


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Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 8 of 19)