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John Berger


The Principles of Psychology. 2 vols. 8vo. $5.00 Edcl.
net. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1890.

Psychology: Briefer Course. Hmo. $1.60 Edcl. net. New
York: Henry Holt & Co. 1892.

The Varieties of Religious Experience. $3.20 net. New
York: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1902.

The Will to BeHeve, and Other Essays in Popular Philoso-
phy. 12mo. $2.00. New York: Longmans, Green, & Co.

Is Life Worth Living? 18mo. 50 cents net. Philadelphia:
S. B. Weston, 1305 Arch Street. 1896.

Human Immortality : Two supposed Objections to the Doc-
trine. 16mo. $1.00. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1898.

Pragmatism. $1.25 net. New York: Longmans, Green, & Co.

The Meaning of Truth: A Sequel to Pragmatism. $1.25 ne<.
New York: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1909.

A Pluralistic Universe. $1.50 net. New York: Longmans,
Green, & Co. 1909.

Memories and Studies. $1.75 nd. New York: Longmans,
Green. & Co. 1911.

Some Problems in Philosophy. $1.25 net. New York:
Longmans, Green, & Co. 1911.

Essays in Radical Empiricism. $1.25 nef. New York: Long-
mans, Green, & Co. 1912.

Talks to Teachers on Psychology: and to Students on
Some of Life's Ideals. 12mo. $1.60 Edcl. net. New
York: Henry Holt & Co. 1899.

On Some of Life's Ideals. "On a Certain Blindness in Human
Beings " and " What Makes a Life Significant." Reprinted
horn Talks to Teachers. 16mo. 50 cents /id. New York:
Henry Holt & Co. 1912.

Habit. Reprinted from The Principles of Psychology. 16mo.
50 cents net. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1914.

The Literary Remains of Henry James. Edited, with an
introduction, by William James. With Portrait. Crown
8vo. $2.00. Boston: Houghton, Miffiin & Co. 1885.






Professor of Psychology in Harvard University


191 5

Copyright, 1892,





1^ preparing the following abridgment of my largei
work, the Principles of Psychology, my chief aim has been
to make it more directly available for class-room use.
For this purpose I have omitted several whole chapters
and rewritten others. I have left out all the polemical
and historical matter, all the metaphysical discussions and
purely speculative passages, most of the quotations, all the
book-references, and (I trust) all the impertinences, of the
larger work, leaving to the reacher the choice of orally
restoring as much o^ this material as may seem to him
good, along witli his own remarks on the topics successively
studied. Knowing how ignorant the average student is ol
physiology, I have added brief chapters on the various
censes. In this shorter work the general point of view,
which I have adopted as that of 'natural science,' has, I
imagine, gained in clearness by its extrication from so
much critical matter and its more simple and dogmatic
statement. About two fifths of the volume is cither new
or rewritten, the rest is 'scissors and paste.' I regret to
have been unable to supply chapters on pleasure and pain,
aesthetics, and the moral sense. Possibly the defect may
be mafle up in a later edition, if such a thing should ever
bo demanded.

I cannot forbear taking advantage of this preface to
make a statomont about the composition of the 'Principles
of p6yclK)logy.* My critics in the main have been so
indulgent that I musr. cordially thank them; but they
have been unanimous in one reproach, namely, that nij



order of chapters is planless and unnatural; and in one
charitable excuse for this, namely, that the work, being
largely a collection of review-articles, could not be expected
to show as much system as a treatise cast in a single mould.
Both the reproach and the excuse misapprehend the facts
of the case. The order of composition is doubtless un-
shapely, or it would not be found so by so many. But
planless it is not, for I deliberately followed what seemed
to me a good pedagogic order, in proceeding from the
more concrete mental aspects with which we are best
acquainted to the so-called elements which we naturally
come to know later by way of abstraction. The opposite
order, of 'building-up' the mind out of its 'units of com-
position,' has the merit of expository elegance, and gives a
neatly subdivided table of contents; but it often pur-
chases these advantages at the cost of reality and truth.
I admit that my ' synthetic ' order was stumblingly carried
out; but this again was in consequence of what I thought
were pedagogic necessities. On the whole, in spite of my
critics, I venture still to think that the 'unsystematic*
form charged upon the book is more apparent than pro-
found, and that we really gain a more living understand-
ing of the mind by keeping our attention as long as
possible upon our entire conscious states as they are con-
cretely given to us, than by the ijost-mortem. study of their
comminuted 'elements.' This last is the study of artificial
abstractions, not of natural things.*

* In the present volume I have given so much extension to the
details of ' Sensation ' that I have obeyed custom and put that subject
first, although by no means persuaded that such order intrinsically is
the best. I feel now (when it is too late for the change to be made)
that the chapters on the Production of Motion, on Instinct, and on
Emotion ought, for purposes of teaching, to follow immediately upon
that on Habit, and that tlie chapter on Reasoning otight to come in
very early, perhaps immediately after that upon the Self. I advise
teachers to adopt this modified order, in spite of the fact that with
the change of place of ' Reasoning ' there ought properly to go
a slight amount of re- writing.


But whether the critics are right, or 1 am, on this fimst
point, the critics are wrong about the relation of the mag-
azine-articles to the book. With a single exception all the
chapters were written for the book ; and then by an after-
thought some of tliem were sent to magazines, because the
completion of the whole work seemed so distant. My
lack of capacity has doubtless been great, but the charge of
not having taken the utmost pains, according to my lights,
in the composition of the volumes, cannot justly be laid at
my door.




Psychology defined ; psychology as a natural science, its
data, 1. The human mind and its environment, 3. The pos-
tulate xhat all consciousness has cerebral activity for Its condi-
tion, 5.


Sensation in General . . 9

Incoming nerve-currents, 9. Terminal organs, 10. ' Spe-
cific energies,' 11. Sensations cognize qualities, 13. Knowl-
edge of acquaintance and knowledge-about, 14. Objects of
sensation appear in space, 15. The intensity of sensations, 16.
\N'eljer's law, 17. Fechner's law, 21. Sensations are not
psychic compound.s, 23. The * law of relativity,' 24. Effects
of conlra.st, 2U.


SroHT ... 29

The eye, 28. Accommodation, 32. Convergence, binocular
vision, 33. Double images, 36. Distance, 39. Size, color
40. After-images, 43. Intensity of luminous objects, 45.


Ukauino ... ... 47

The ear, 47. The qualities of sound, 48. Pitch, 44. ' Tim-
bre,' 45. Analysis of compfjund air-waves, 56. No fusion of
eliriinritary wtisutioiis of sound, 57. Harmony and discord, 58.
Ducrimiuatiuu by the ear, 59.




Touch, the Temperature Sense, the Muscular Sense,
AND Pain „ 60

End-organs in the skin, 60. Touch, sense of pressure, 60.
Localization, 'SI. Sensibility to temperature, 63. The muscu
lar sense, 65. Pain, 67.


Sensations op Motion „ 70

The feeling of motion over surfaces, 70. Feelings in joints,
74. The aense of translation, the sensibility of the semicircu-
lar canals, 75.


The Structure of the Brain 78

Embryological sketch, 78. Practical dissection of the sheep's
brain, 81.


The Functions of the Brain 91

General idea of nervous function, 91. The frog's nerve-
centres, 93. The pigeon's nerve-centres, 96. What the hemi-
spheres do, 97. The automaton-theory, 101. The localization
of functions, 104. Brain and mind have analogous ' elements,*
sensory and motor, 105. The motor zone, 106. Aphasia, 108.
The visual region, 110. Mental blindness, 112. The auditory
region, mental deafness, 113. Other centres, 116.


Some General Conditions of Neural Activitt . 120

The nervous discharge, 120. Reaction-time, 121< Simple
reactions, 122. Complicated reactions, 124. The summation
of stimuli, 128. Cerebral blood-supply, 130. Brain-thermome
try, 131. Phosphorus and thought, 132.


Habit ..... 184

Its importance, and its physical basis, 134. Due to pathways
formed in the centres, 136. Its practical uses, 138. Concate-



nated acts, 140. Necessity for guiding sensations in secondarily
automatic performances, 141. Pedfigogical maxims concerning
the formation of habits, 142.


The Stream of Consciousness 151

Analytic order of our study, 151. Every state of mind forms
part of a personal consciousness, 153. The same state of mind
is never had twice, 154. Permanently recurring ideas are a
fiction, 156. Every personal consciousness is continuous, 157.
Substantive and transitive states, 160. Every object appears
with a ' fringe* of relations, 163. The 'topic' of the thought,
167. Thought may be rational in any sort of imagery, 168.
Consciousness is always especially interested in some one part
of its object, 170.


The Self 17*

The Me and the I, 176. The material Me, 177. The social
Me, 179. The spiritual Me, 181. Self-appreciation, 182. Self-
seeking, bodily, social, and spiritual, 184. Rivalry of the Mes,
186. Their hierarchy, 190. Teleology of self-interest, 193.
The I, or ' pure ego,' 195. Thoughts are not coini)ounded of
'fused' sensations. 196. The 'soul' as a combining medium,
200. The sense of personal identity, 201. FiXplained by iden-
tity of function in successive passing thoughts, 203. Mutations
of the self, 205. Insane delusions, 207. Alternating person-
alities, 210. Mediumships or possessions, 212. Who is the
Thinker, 215.


Attention . 217

The narrowness of the field of consciousness, 217. Dis-
persed attention, 218. To how much can we attend at once ?
219. The varieties of attention, 220. Voluntary attention, its
momentary character, 224. To keep our attention, an object
must change, 226. Genius and atti-nfion, 227. Attenticm's
physiological conditions, 228. Tiie sense-organ must be
adapted, 229. The idea of the object must be aroused, 232
Pedagogic remarks, 236. Attention and free-will, 237-




Conception . . „ . 239

Different states of mind can mean tlie same, 239. Concep-
tions of abstract, of universal, and of problematic objects, 240.
The thought of ' the same * is not the same thought over
again, 243.



Discrimination and association; definition of discrimination,
244, Conditions which favor it, 245. The sensation of differ-
ence, 246. Differences inferred, 248. The analysis of com-
pound objects, 248. To be easily singled out, a quality should
already be separately known, 250. Dissociation by varying
concomitants, 251. Practice improves discrimination, 252.


Association 253

The order of our ideas, 253, It is determined by cerebral
laws, 255. The ultimate cause of association is habit, 256.
The elementary law in association, 257. Indeterminateness of
its results, 258. Total recall, 259. Partial recall, and the law
of interest, 261. Frequency, recency, vividness, and emotional
congruity tend to determine the object recalled, 264. Focalized
recall, or ' association by similarity,' 267. Voluntary trains of
thought, 271. The solution of problems, 273. Similarity no
elementary law ; summary and conclusion, 277.


The Sense of Time 280

The sensible present has duration, 280. We have no sense
for absolutely empty time, 281. We measure duration by the
events which succeed in it, 283. The feeling of past time is a
present feeling, 285. Due to a constant cerebral condition, 286,


Memory ... 28';

What it is, 287. It involves both retention and recall, 289.
Both elements explained by paths formed by habit in the brain,
290. Two conditions of a good memory, persistence and uu



merousness of paths, 293. Cramming, 295. One's native re-
teutiveness is unchangeable, 29G. Improvement of the mem-
ory, 298. Recognition, 299. Forgetting, 800. Pathological
conditions, 801.


[magination 802

What it is, 302. Imaginations differ from man to man ; Gal-
ton's statistics of visual imagery, 303. Images of sounds, 306.
Images of movement, 807. Images of touch, 308. Loss of
images in aphasia, 309. The neural process in imagination,


Perception 813

Perception and sensation compared, 312. The perceptive
state of mind is not a compound, 313. Perception is of definite
things, 310. Illusions, 317. First type: inference of the more
usual object, 318. Second type: inference of the object of
which our mind is full, 321. ' Apperception,' 326. Genius
and old-fogyism, 327. The physiological process in percep-
tion, 329. Hallucinations, 330.


Tqe Perception of Space 385

Tlie attribute of extensity belongs to all objects of sensation,
335. Til? ^instruction of real space, 387. The processes
which it involves: 1) Subdivision, 388; 2) Coalescence of differ-
ent sensible data into one 'thing,' 339; 3) Location in an en-
vironment, 340; 4) Place in a series of positions, 341; 5) Meas-
urement, 1342. Objects which are signs, and objects which
are realities, 345. The ' third dimension,' Berkeley's theory of
distance, 346. The part played by the intellect in space-per-
ception, 349.


Reasoning 851

What it is, 351. It involves the use of abstract characti-rs,
358. What in meant by an ' essential ' character, 854. The
' eHHcnce ' varies with the Bubjective interest, 858. The two



great points in reasoning, * sagacity ' and ' wisdom,' 360. Sa-
gacity, 363. The help given by association by similarity, 364.
The reasoning powers of brutes, 867.


Consciousness and Movement 870

All consciousness is motor, 370. Three classes of movement
to which it leads, 373.


Emotion . 373

Emotions compared with instincts, 373. The varieties of
emotion are innumerable, 374 The cause of their varieties,
375. The feeling, in the coarser emotions, results from the
bodily expression, 375. This view must not be called material-
istic, 380. This view explains the great variability of emotion,
381. A corollary verified, 382. An objection replied to, 383.
The subtler emotions, 384. Description of fear, 385. Gene-
sis of the emotional reactions, 386.


Instinct 391

Its definition, 391. Every instinct is an impulse, 393. In-
stincts are not always blind or invariable, 395. Two principles
of non-uniformity, 398. Enumeration of instincts in man, 406.
Description of fear, 407.


WiLii . . - 415

Voluntary acts, 415. They are secondary performances, 415.
No third kind of idea is called for, 418. The motor-cue, 430.
Ideo-motor action, 433. Action after deliberation, 438. Five
chief types of decision, 439. The feeling of effort, 434.
Healthiness of will, 435. Unhealthiness of will, 436. The
explosive will : (1) from defective inhibition, 437 ; (3) from
exaggerated impulsion, 439. The obstructed will, 441. Effort
feels like an original force, 443. Pleasure and pain as
springs of action, 444. What holds attention determines ac-
tion, 448. Will is a relation between the mind and its



' ideas,' 449. Volitional effort is effort of attention, 450. The
question of free-will, 455. Ethical importance of the phe-
nomenon of effort, 458.


PsTCHOLOQT >ja) Phtlosopht . . v c . 461

What the word metaphysics means, 461. Relation of con-
sciousness to the brain, 463. Tlie relatiou of states of mind to
their ' objects,' 464. The changing charrxter of consciousness,
466. States of consciousness themselves are not verifiable
facts, 4ti7.



The definition of Psychology may be best given in the
words of l^rofessor Ladd, as the description and explana-
tion of states of consciousness as such. By states of con-
sciousness are meant such things as sensations, desires,
emotions, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, volitions, and
the like. Their 'explanation' must of course include
the study of their causes, conditions, and immediate con-
sequences, so far as these can be ascertained.

Psychology is to be treated as a natural science in this
book. Thid requires a word of commentary. Most think-
ers have a faitli that at bottom tliere is but one Science of
all things, and that until all is known, no one thing can be
completely known. Such a science, if realized, would be
Philosoj)hy. Meanwhile it is far from being realized; and
inritead of it, we have a lot of begiTinings of knowledge
made in dilTerent places, and ke{)t se})arate from each other
merely for prat^tical convenience' sake, until with later
growth they may run into one body of Truth. These provi-
sional beginnings of learning we call 'the Sciences' in the
plural. In order not to be unwieldy, every such science
haa to Htick to its own arbitrarily-selected problems, and to
ignore all others. P^very science thus accepts certain data
unqufcstioningly, leaving it to the other parts of i'hilosophy

2 P87CE0L0QT.

to scrutinize their significance and truth. All the natural
sciences, for example, in spite of the fact that farther re-
flection leads to Idealism, assume that a world of matter
exists altogether independently of the perceiving mind.
Mechanical Science assumes this matter to have ' mass ' and
to exert ' force,' defining these terms merely phenomenally,
and not troubling itself about certain unintelligibilities
which they present on nearer reflection. Motion similarly
is assumed by mechanical science to exist independently of
the mind, in spite of the difficulties involved in the
assumption. So Physics assumes atoms, action at a dis-
tance, etc., uncritically; Chemistry uncritically adopts all
the data of Physics; and Physiology adopts those of Chem-
istry. Psychology as a natural science deals with things in
the same partial and provisional way. In addition to the
* material world' with all its determinations, which the
other sciences of nature assume, she assumes additional
data peculiarly her own, and leaves it to more developed
parts of Philosophy to test their ulterior significance and
truth. These data are —

1. Thoughts and feelings, or whatever other names tran-
sitory states of consciousness may be known by.

3. Knowledge, by these states of consciousness, of other
-things. These things may be material objects and events,
or other states of mind. The material objects may be
either near or distant in time and space, and the states of
mind may be those of other people, or of the thinker him-
self at some other time.

How one thing can know another is the problem of what
is called the Theory of Knowledge. How such a thing as
a * state of mind ' can be at all is the problem of what has
been called Eational, as distinguished from Empirical,
Psychology. The full truth about states of mind cannot
be known until both Theory of Knowledge and Eational
Psychology have said their say. Meanwhile an immense
amount of provisional truth about them can be got to-
gether, which will work in with the larger truth and be

mrnoDuuTORY. 3

interpreted by it when the proper time arrives. Such a
provisional body of propositions about states of mind, and
al)out the cognitions which they enjoy, is what I mean by
Psycliology considered as a natural science. On any ul-
terior theory of matter, mind, and knowlodijc, tlie facts and
laws of Psychology thus understood will have their value.
If critics find that this natural-science point of view cuts
things too arbitrarily short, they must not blame the book
which confines itself to that point of view; rather must
thev go on tliemselves to complete it by their deei)er
thought. Incomplete statements are often practically nec-
essary. To go beyond the usual 'scientific' assumptions
in the present case, would require, not a volume, but a
shelfTul of volumes, and by the present author such a shelf-
ful could not be written at all.

Let it also be added that the human mind is all that can
be touched upon in this book. Although the mental life of
lower creatures has been examined into of late years with
some success, we have no space for its consideration here,
and can ojily allude to its manifestations incidentally when
they throw light upon our own.

Mental facts cannot be properly studied apart from the phys-
ical environment of which they take cognizance. The great
fault of tlie older rational psyehology was to set up the soul
lus an absolute spiritual being with certain faculties of its
own by which the several activities of remembering, imagin-
ing, reasoning, willing, etc., were exidained, almost without
reference to the peculiarities of the world with whieli these
activities deal. Hut the rieher insight of modern days
perceives that our iniuir faculties are (ithipfcH in advance
to the features of the world in which we (Iwcll. adaj)te(l, I
mean, so as to secure our safety and prosperity in its midst.
Not only are our capacities for forming new habits, for
remeiid)ering sequences, and for al)stracting general prop-
erties from things and associating their usual consetpiences
with them, exactly the faculties needed for steering us in
this world of mixed variety and uniformity, but our emo-


tions and instincts are adapted to very special features oi
that world. In the main, if a phenomenon is important
for our welfare, it interests and excites us the first time we
come into its presence. Dangerous things fill us with invol-
untary fear; poisonous things with distaste; indispensa-
ble things with appetite. ^JVIind and world in short have
been evolved together,) and in consequence are something
of a mutual fit. The special interactions between the outer
order and the order of consciousness, by which this harmony,
such as it is, may in the course of time have come about,
have been made the subject of many evolutionary specula-
tious, which, though they cannot so far be ^aid to be con-
clusive, have at least refreshed and enriched the whole sub-
ject, and brought all sorts of new questions to the light.

The chief result of all this more modern view is the
gradually growing conviction that mental life is primarily
teleological ; that is to say, that our various ways of feeling
and thinking have grown to be what they are because of
their utility in shaping our reactioiis on the outer world.
On the whole, few recent formulas have done more service
in psychology than the Spencerian one that the essence of
mental life and bodily life are one, namely, 'the adjust-
ment of inner to outer relations.' The adjustment is to
immediately present objects in lower animals and in infants.
It is to objects more and more remote in time and space,
'and inferred by means of more and more complex and
exact processes of reasoning, when the grade of mental
development grows more advanced.

Primarily then, and fundamentally, the mental life is for
the sake of action of a preservative sort. Secondarily and
incidentally it does many other things, and may even, when
ill ' adapted,' lead to its possessor's destruction. Psychol-
ogy, taken in the widest way, ought to study every sort of
mental activity, the useless and harmful sorts as well
as that which is ' adapted.' But the study of the harmful
in mental life has been made the subject of a special
branch called 'Psychiatry' — the science of insanity — and


the study of the useless is made over to '^-Esthetics.'
^^sthetics and Psychiatry will receive no special notice in
til is hook.

All mental states (no matter wliat their character as
nirards utility may he) are followed by bodily activity of

Online LibraryWilliam JamesPsychology → online text (page 1 of 39)