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Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals
by William James
In 1892 I was asked by the Harvard Corporation to give a few public
lectures on psychology to the Cambridge teachers. The talks now printed
form the substance of that course, which has since then been delivered
at various places to various teacher-audiences. I have found by
experience that what my hearers seem least to relish is analytical
technicality, and what they most care for is concrete practical
application. So I have gradually weeded out the former, and left the
latter unreduced; and now, that I have at last written out the lectures,
they contain a minimum of what is deemed 'scientific' in psychology, and
are practical and popular in the extreme.
Some of my colleagues may possibly shake their heads at this; but in
taking my cue from what has seemed to me to be the feeling of the
audiences I believe that I am shaping my book so as to satisfy the more
genuine public need.
Teachers, of course, will miss the minute divisions, subdivisions, and
definitions, the lettered and numbered headings, the variations of type,
and all the other mechanical artifices on which they are accustomed to
prop their minds. But my main desire has been to make them conceive,
and, if possible, reproduce sympathetically in their imagination, the
mental life of their pupil as the sort of active unity which he himself
feels it to be. _He_ doesn't chop himself into distinct processes and
compartments; and it would have frustrated this deeper purpose of my
book to make it look, when printed, like a Baedeker's handbook of travel
or a text-book of arithmetic. So far as books printed like this book
force the fluidity of the facts upon the young teacher's attention, so
far I am sure they tend to do his intellect a service, even though they
may leave unsatisfied a craving (not altogether without its legitimate
grounds) for more nomenclature, head-lines, and subdivisions.
Readers acquainted with my larger books on Psychology will meet much
familiar phraseology. In the chapters on habit and memory I have even
copied several pages verbatim, but I do not know that apology is needed
for such plagiarism as this.
The talks to students, which conclude the volume, were written in
response to invitations to deliver 'addresses' to students at women's
colleges. The first one was to the graduating class of the Boston Normal
School of Gymnastics. Properly, it continues the series of talks to
teachers. The second and the third address belong together, and continue
another line of thought.
I wish I were able to make the second, 'On a Certain Blindness in Human
Beings,' more impressive. It is more than the mere piece of
sentimentalism which it may seem to some readers. It connects itself
with a definite view of the world and of our moral relations to the
same. Those who have done me the honor of reading my volume of
philosophic essays will recognize that I mean the pluralistic or
individualistic philosophy. According to that philosophy, the truth is
too great for any one actual mind, even though that mind be dubbed 'the
Absolute,' to know the whole of it. The facts and worths of life need
many cognizers to take them in. There is no point of view absolutely
public and universal. Private and uncommunicable perceptions always
remain over, and the worst of it is that those who look for them from
the outside never know _where_.
The practical consequence of such a philosophy is the well-known
democratic respect for the sacredness of individuality,--is, at any
rate, the outward tolerance of whatever is not itself intolerant. These
phrases are so familiar that they sound now rather dead in our ears.
Once they had a passionate inner meaning. Such a passionate inner
meaning they may easily acquire again if the pretension of our nation
to inflict its own inner ideals and institutions _vi et armis_ upon
Orientals should meet with a resistance as obdurate as so far it has
been gallant and spirited. Religiously and philosophically, our ancient
national doctrine of live and let live may prove to have a far deeper
meaning than our people now seem to imagine it to possess.
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., March, 1899.
TALKS TO TEACHERS.
I. PSYCHOLOGY AND THE TEACHING ART
The American educational organization,--What teachers may expect from
psychology,--Teaching methods must agree with psychology, but cannot
be immediately deduced therefrom,--The science of teaching and the
science of war,--The educational uses of psychology defined,--The
teacher's duty toward child-study.
II. THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Our mental life is a succession of conscious 'fields,'--They have a
focus and a margin,--This description contrasted with the theory of
'ideas,'--Wundt's conclusions, note.
III. THE CHILD AS A BEHAVING ORGANISM
Mind as pure reason and mind as practical guide,--The latter view the
more fashionable one to-day,--It will be adopted in this work,--Why
so?--The teacher's function is to train pupils to behavior.
IV. EDUCATION AND BEHAVIOR
Education defined,--Conduct is always its outcome,--Different
national ideals: Germany and England.
V. THE NECESSITY OF REACTIONS
No impression without expression,--Verbal reproduction,--Manual
training,--Pupils should know their 'marks'.
VI. NATIVE AND ACQUIRED REACTIONS
The acquired reactions must be preceded by native ones,--Illustration:
teaching child to ask instead of snatching,--Man has more instincts than
VII. WHAT THE NATIVE REACTIONS ARE
Fear and love,--Curiosity,--Imitation,--Emulation,--Forbidden by
Rousseau,--His error,--Ambition, pugnacity, and pride. Soft
pedagogics and the fighting impulse,--Ownership,--Its educational
uses,--Constructiveness,--Manual teaching,--Transitoriness in
instincts,--Their order of succession.
VIII. THE LAWS OF HABIT
Good and bad habits,--Habit due to plasticity of organic tissues,--The
aim of education is to make useful habits automatic,--Maxims relative to
habit-forming: 1. Strong initiative,--2. No exception,--3. Seize first
opportunity to act,--4. Don't preach,--Darwin and poetry: without
exercise our capacities decay,--The habit of mental and muscular
relaxation,--Fifth maxim, keep the faculty of effort trained,--Sudden
conversions compatible with laws of habit,--Momentous influence of
habits on character.
IX. THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS
A case of habit,--The two laws, contiguity and similarity,--The teacher
has to build up useful systems of association,--Habitual associations
determine character,--Indeterminateness of our trains of
association,--We can trace them backward, but not foretell
them,--Interest deflects,--Prepotent parts of the field,--In teaching,
The child's native interests,--How uninteresting things acquire an
interest,--Rules for the teacher,--'Preparation' of the mind for the
lesson: the pupil must have something to attend with,--All later
interests are borrowed from original ones.
Interest and attention are two aspects of one fact,--Voluntary attention
comes in beats,--Genius and attention,--The subject must change to win
attention,--Mechanical aids,--The physiological process,--The new in
the old is what excites interest,--Interest and effort are
compatible,--Mind-wandering,--Not fatal to mental efficiency.
Due to association,--No recall without a cue,--Memory is due to
brain-plasticity,--Native retentiveness,--Number of associations may
practically be its equivalent,--Retentiveness is a fixed property of the
individual,--Memory _versus_ memories,--Scientific system as help to
memory,--Technical memories,--Cramming,--Elementary memory
unimprovable,--Utility of verbal memorizing,--Measurements of immediate
memory,--They throw little light,--Passion is the important factor in
human efficiency,--Eye-memory, ear-memory, etc.,--The rate of
forgetting, Ebbinghaus's results,--Influence of the unreproducible,--To
remember, one must think and connect.
XIII. THE ACQUISITION OF IDEAS
Education gives a stock of conceptions,--The order of their
acquisition,--Value of verbal material,--Abstractions of different
orders: when are they assimilable,--False conceptions of children.
Often a mystifying idea,--The process defined,--The law of
economy,--Old-fogyism,--How many types of apperception?--New
heads of classification must continually be invented,--Alteration of
the apperceiving mass,--Class names are what we work by,--Few
new fundamental conceptions acquired after twenty-five.
XV. THE WILL
The word defined,--All consciousness tends to action,--Ideo-motor
action,--Inhibition,--The process of deliberation,--Why so few of our
ideas result in acts,--The associationist account of the will,--A
balance of impulses and inhibitions,--The over-impulsive and the
over-obstructed type,--The perfect type,--The balky will,--What
character building consists in,--Right action depends on right
apperception of the case,--Effort of will is effort of attention: the
drunkard's dilemma,--Vital importance of voluntary attention,--Its
amount may be indeterminate,--Affirmation of free-will,--Two types of
inhibition,--Spinoza on inhibition by a higher good,--Conclusion.
TALKS TO STUDENTS.
I. THE GOSPEL OF RELAXATION
II. ON A CERTAIN BLINDNESS IN HUMAN BEINGS
III. WHAT MAKES A LIFE SIGNIFICANT?
* * * * *
TALKS TO TEACHERS
I. PSYCHOLOGY AND THE TEACHING ART
In the general activity and uprising of ideal interests which every one
with an eye for fact can discern all about us in American life, there is
perhaps no more promising feature than the fermentation which for a
dozen years or more has been going on among the teachers. In whatever
sphere of education their functions may lie, there is to be seen among
them a really inspiring amount of searching of the heart about the
highest concerns of their profession. The renovation of nations begins
always at the top, among the reflective members of the State, and
spreads slowly outward and downward. The teachers of this country, one
may say, have its future in their hands. The earnestness which they at
present show in striving to enlighten and strengthen themselves is an
index of the nation's probabilities of advance in all ideal directions.
The outward organization of education which we have in our United States
is perhaps, on the whole, the best organization that exists in any
country. The State school systems give a diversity and flexibility, an
opportunity for experiment and keenness of competition, nowhere else to
be found on such an important scale. The independence of so many of the
colleges and universities; the give and take of students and instructors
between them all; their emulation, and their happy organic relations to
the lower schools; the traditions of instruction in them, evolved from
the older American recitation-method (and so avoiding on the one hand
the pure lecture-system prevalent in Germany and Scotland, which
considers too little the individual student, and yet not involving the
sacrifice of the instructor to the individual student, which the English
tutorial system would seem too often to entail),--all these things (to
say nothing of that coeducation of the sexes in whose benefits so many
of us heartily believe), all these things, I say, are most happy
features of our scholastic life, and from them the most sanguine
auguries may be drawn.
Having so favorable an organization, all we need is to impregnate it
with geniuses, to get superior men and women working more and more
abundantly in it and for it and at it, and in a generation or two
America may well lead the education of the world. I must say that I look
forward with no little confidence to the day when that shall be an
No one has profited more by the fermentation of which I speak, in
pedagogical circles, than we psychologists. The desire of the
schoolteachers for a completer professional training, and their
aspiration toward the 'professional' spirit in their work, have led them
more and more to turn to us for light on fundamental principles. And in
these few hours which we are to spend together you look to me, I am
sure, for information concerning the mind's operations, which may enable
you to labor more easily and effectively in the several schoolrooms over
which you preside.
Far be it from me to disclaim for psychology all title to such hopes.
Psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical help. And yet I
confess that, acquainted as I am with the height of some of your
expectations, I feel a little anxious lest, at the end of these simple
talks of mine, not a few of you may experience some disappointment at
the net results. In other words, I am not sure that you may not be
indulging fancies that are just a shade exaggerated. That would not be
altogether astonishing, for we have been having something like a 'boom'
in psychology in this country. Laboratories and professorships have been
founded, and reviews established. The air has been full of rumors. The
editors of educational journals and the arrangers of conventions have
had to show themselves enterprising and on a level with the novelties of
the day. Some of the professors have not been unwilling to co-operate,
and I am not sure even that the publishers have been entirely inert.
'The new psychology' has thus become a term to conjure up portentous
ideas withal; and you teachers, docile and receptive and aspiring as
many of you are, have been plunged in an atmosphere of vague talk about
our science, which to a great extent has been more mystifying than
enlightening. Altogether it does seem as if there were a certain
fatality of mystification laid upon the teachers of our day. The matter
of their profession, compact enough in itself, has to be frothed up for
them in journals and institutes, till its outlines often threaten to be
lost in a kind of vast uncertainty. Where the disciples are not
independent and critical-minded enough (and I think that, if you
teachers in the earlier grades have any defect--the slightest touch of a
defect in the world--it is that you are a mite too docile), we are
pretty sure to miss accuracy and balance and measure in those who get a
license to lay down the law to them from above.
As regards this subject of psychology, now, I wish at the very threshold
to do what I can to dispel the mystification. So I say at once that in
my humble opinion there _is_ no 'new psychology' worthy of the name.
There is nothing but the old psychology which began in Locke's time,
plus a little physiology of the brain and senses and theory of
evolution, and a few refinements of introspective detail, for the most
part without adaptation to the teacher's use. It is only the fundamental
conceptions of psychology which are of real value to the teacher; and
they, apart from the aforesaid theory of evolution, are very far from
being new.--I trust that you will see better what I mean by this at the
end of all these talks.
I say moreover that you make a great, a very great mistake, if you think
that psychology, being the science of the mind's laws, is something from
which you can deduce definite programmes and schemes and methods of
instruction for immediate schoolroom use. Psychology is a science, and
teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of
themselves. An intermediary inventive mind must make the application, by
using its originality.
The science of logic never made a man reason rightly, and the science of
ethics (if there be such a thing) never made a man behave rightly. The
most such sciences can do is to help us to catch ourselves up and check
ourselves, if we start to reason or to behave wrongly; and to criticise
ourselves more articulately after we have made mistakes. A science only
lays down lines within which the rules of the art must fall, laws which
the follower of the art must not transgress; but what particular thing
he shall positively do within those lines is left exclusively to his own
genius. One genius will do his work well and succeed in one way, while
another succeeds as well quite differently; yet neither will transgress
The art of teaching grew up in the schoolroom, out of inventiveness and
sympathetic concrete observation. Even where (as in the case of Herbart)
the advancer of the art was also a psychologist, the pedagogics and the
psychology ran side by side, and the former was not derived in any sense
from the latter. The two were congruent, but neither was subordinate.
And so everywhere the teaching must _agree_ with the psychology, but
need not necessarily be the only kind of teaching that would so agree;
for many diverse methods of teaching may equally well agree with
To know psychology, therefore, is absolutely no guarantee that we shall
be good teachers. To advance to that result, we must have an additional
endowment altogether, a happy tact and ingenuity to tell us what
definite things to say and do when the pupil is before us. That
ingenuity in meeting and pursuing the pupil, that tact for the concrete
situation, though they are the alpha and omega of the teacher's art, are
things to which psychology cannot help us in the least.
The science of psychology, and whatever science of general pedagogics
may be based on it, are in fact much like the science of war. Nothing is
simpler or more definite than the principles of either. In war, all you
have to do is to work your enemy into a position from which the natural
obstacles prevent him from escaping if he tries to; then to fall on him
in numbers superior to his own, at a moment when you have led him to
think you far away; and so, with a minimum of exposure of your own
troops, to hack his force to pieces, and take the remainder prisoners.
Just so, in teaching, you must simply work your pupil into such a state
of interest in what you are going to teach him that every other object
of attention is banished from his mind; then reveal it to him so
impressively that he will remember the occasion to his dying day; and
finally fill him with devouring curiosity to know what the next steps in
connection with the subject are. The principles being so plain, there
would be nothing but victories for the masters of the science, either on
the battlefield or in the schoolroom, if they did not both have to make
their application to an incalculable quantity in the shape of the mind
of their opponent. The mind of your own enemy, the pupil, is working
away from you as keenly and eagerly as is the mind of the commander on
the other side from the scientific general. Just what the respective
enemies want and think, and what they know and do not know, are as hard
things for the teacher as for the general to find out. Divination and
perception, not psychological pedagogics or theoretic strategy, are the
only helpers here.
But, if the use of psychological principles thus be negative rather than
positive, it does not follow that it may not be a great use, all the
same. It certainly narrows the path for experiments and trials. We know
in advance, if we are psychologists, that certain methods will be wrong,
so our psychology saves us from mistakes. It makes us, moreover, more
clear as to what we are about. We gain confidence in respect to any
method which we are using as soon as we believe that it has theory as
well as practice at its back. Most of all, it fructifies our
independence, and it reanimates our interest, to see our subject at two
different angles,--to get a stereoscopic view, so to speak, of the
youthful organism who is our enemy, and, while handling him with all our
concrete tact and divination, to be able, at the same time, to represent
to ourselves the curious inner elements of his mental machine. Such a
complete knowledge as this of the pupil, at once intuitive and analytic,
is surely the knowledge at which every teacher ought to aim.
Fortunately for you teachers, the elements of the mental machine can be
clearly apprehended, and their workings easily grasped. And, as the most
general elements and workings are just those parts of psychology which
the teacher finds most directly useful, it follows that the amount of
this science which is necessary to all teachers need not be very great.
Those who find themselves loving the subject may go as far as they
please, and become possibly none the worse teachers for the fact, even
though in some of them one might apprehend a little loss of balance from
the tendency observable in all of us to overemphasize certain special
parts of a subject when we are studying it intensely and abstractly. But
for the great majority of you a general view is enough, provided it be a
true one; and such a general view, one may say, might almost be written
on the palm of one's hand.
Least of all need you, merely _as teachers_, deem it part of your duty
to become contributors to psychological science or to make psychological
observations in a methodical or responsible manner. I fear that some of
the enthusiasts for child-study have thrown a certain burden on you in
this way. By all means let child-study go on,--it is refreshing all our
sense of the child's life. There are teachers who take a spontaneous
delight in filling syllabuses, inscribing observations, compiling
statistics, and computing the per cent. Child-study will certainly
enrich their lives. And, if its results, as treated statistically, would
seem on the whole to have but trifling value, yet the anecdotes and
observations of which it in part consist do certainly acquaint us more
intimately with our pupils. Our eyes and ears grow quickened to discern
in the child before us processes similar to those we have read of as
noted in the children,--processes of which we might otherwise have
remained inobservant. But, for Heaven's sake, let the rank and file of
teachers be passive readers if they so prefer, and feel free not to
contribute to the accumulation. Let not the prosecution of it be
preached as an imperative duty or imposed by regulation on those to whom
it proves an exterminating bore, or who in any way whatever miss in
themselves the appropriate vocation for it. I cannot too strongly agree
with my colleague, Professor Münsterberg, when he says that the
teacher's attitude toward the child, being concrete and ethical, is
positively opposed to the psychological observer's, which is abstract
and analytic. Although some of us may conjoin the attitudes
successfully, in most of us they must conflict.
The worst thing that can happen to a good teacher is to get a bad
conscience about her profession because she feels herself hopeless as a
psychologist. Our teachers are overworked already. Every one who adds a
jot or tittle of unnecessary weight to their burden is a foe of
education. A bad conscience increases the weight of every other burden;
yet I know that child-study, and other pieces of psychology as well,
have been productive of bad conscience in many a really innocent
pedagogic breast. I should indeed be glad if this passing word from me
might tend to dispel such a bad conscience, if any of you have it; for
it is certainly one of those fruits of more or less systematic
mystification of which I have already complained. The best teacher may
be the poorest contributor of child-study material, and the best
contributor may be the poorest teacher. No fact is more palpable than
So much for what seems the most reasonable general attitude of the
teacher toward the subject which is to occupy our attention.
II. THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
I said a few minutes ago that the most general elements and workings of
the mind are all that the teacher absolutely needs to be acquainted with
for his purposes.
Now the _immediate_ fact which psychology, the science of mind, has to
study is also the most general fact. It is the fact that in each of us,
when awake (and often when asleep), _some kind of consciousness is
always going on_. There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves,
or fields (or of whatever you please to call them), of knowledge, of
feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and
repass, and that constitute our inner life. The existence of this stream
is the primal fact, the nature and origin of it form the essential
problem, of our science. So far as we class the states or fields of
consciousness, write down their several natures, analyze their contents
into elements, or trace their habits of succession, we are on the
descriptive or analytic level. So far as we ask where they come from or
why they are just what they are, we are on the explanatory level.
In these talks with you, I shall entirely neglect the questions that
come up on the explanatory level. It must be frankly confessed that in
no fundamental sense do we know where our successive fields of
consciousness come from, or why they have the precise inner constitution
which they do have. They certainly follow or accompany our brain states,
and of course their special forms are determined by our past experiences
and education. But, if we ask just _how_ the brain conditions them, we
have not the remotest inkling of an answer to give; and, if we ask just
how the education moulds the brain, we can speak but in the most
abstract, general, and conjectural terms. On the other hand, if we
should say that they are due to a spiritual being called our Soul, which
reacts on our brain states by these peculiar forms of spiritual energy,
our words would be familiar enough, it is true; but I think you will
agree that they would offer little genuine explanatory meaning. The
truth is that we really _do not know_ the answers to the problems on the
explanatory level, even though in some directions of inquiry there may
be promising speculations to be found. For our present purposes I shall
therefore dismiss them entirely, and turn to mere description. This
state of things was what I had in mind when, a moment ago, I said there
was no 'new psychology' worthy of the name.
_We have thus fields of consciousness_,--that is the first general fact;
and the second general fact is that the concrete fields are always
complex. They contain sensations of our bodies and of the objects around
us, memories of past experiences and thoughts of distant things,
feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, desires and aversions, and
other emotional conditions, together with determinations of the will, in
every variety of permutation and combination.
In most of our concrete states of consciousness all these different
classes of ingredients are found simultaneously present to some degree,
though the relative proportion they bear to one another is very
shifting. One state will seem to be composed of hardly anything but
sensations, another of hardly anything but memories, etc. But around the
sensation, if one consider carefully, there will always be some fringe
of thought or will, and around the memory some margin or penumbra of
emotion or sensation.
In most of our fields of consciousness there is a core of sensation that
is very pronounced. You, for example, now, although you are also
thinking and feeling, are getting through your eyes sensations of my
face and figure, and through your ears sensations of my voice. The
sensations are the _centre_ or _focus_, the thoughts and feelings the
_margin_, of your actually present conscious field.
On the other hand, some object of thought, some distant image, may have
become the focus of your mental attention even while I am
speaking,--your mind, in short, may have wandered from the lecture; and,
in that case, the sensations of my face and voice, although not
absolutely vanishing from your conscious field, may have taken up there
a very faint and marginal place.
Again, to take another sort of variation, some feeling connected with
your own body may have passed from a marginal to a focal place, even
while I speak.
The expressions 'focal object' and 'marginal object,' which we owe to
Mr. Lloyd Morgan, require, I think, no further explanation. The
distinction they embody is a very important one, and they are the first
technical terms which I shall ask you to remember.
* * * * *
In the successive mutations of our fields of consciousness, the process
by which one dissolves into another is often very gradual, and all sorts
of inner rearrangements of contents occur. Sometimes the focus remains
but little changed, while the margin alters rapidly. Sometimes the focus
alters, and the margin stays. Sometimes focus and margin change places.
Sometimes, again, abrupt alterations of the whole field occur. There can
seldom be a sharp description. All we know is that, for the most part,
each field has a sort of practical unity for its possessor, and that
from this practical point of view we can class a field with other fields
similar to it, by calling it a state of emotion, of perplexity, of
sensation, of abstract thought, of volition, and the like.
Vague and hazy as such an account of our stream of consciousness may be,
it is at least secure from positive error and free from admixture of
conjecture or hypothesis. An influential school of psychology, seeking
to avoid haziness of outline, has tried to make things appear more exact
and scientific by making the analysis more sharp.
The various fields of consciousness, according to this school, result
from a definite number of perfectly definite elementary mental states,
mechanically associated into a mosaic or chemically combined. According
to some thinkers,--Spencer, for example, or Taine,--these resolve
themselves at last into little elementary psychic particles or atoms of
'mind-stuff,' out of which all the more immediately known mental states
are said to be built up. Locke introduced this theory in a somewhat
vague form. Simple 'ideas' of sensation and reflection, as he called
them, were for him the bricks of which our mental architecture is built
up. If I ever have to refer to this theory again, I shall refer to it as
the theory of 'ideas.' But I shall try to steer clear of it altogether.
Whether it be true or false, it is at any rate only conjectural; and,
for your practical purposes as teachers, the more unpretending
conception of the stream of consciousness, with its total waves or
fields incessantly changing, will amply suffice.[A]
[A] In the light of some of the expectations that are abroad
concerning the 'new psychology,' it is instructive to read
the unusually candid confession of its founder Wundt, after
his thirty years of laboratory-experience:
"The service which it [the experimental method] can yield
consists essentially in perfecting our inner observation, or
rather, as I believe, in making this really possible, in any
exact sense. Well, has our experimental self-observation, so
understood, already accomplished aught of importance? No
general answer to this question can be given, because in the
unfinished state of our science, there is, even inside of the
experimental lines of inquiry, no universally accepted body
of psychologic doctrine....
"In such a discord of opinions (comprehensible enough at a
time of uncertain and groping development), the individual
inquirer can only tell for what views and insights he himself
has to thank the newer methods. And if I were asked in what
for me the worth of experimental observation in psychology
has consisted, and still consists, I should say that it has
given me an entirely new idea of the nature and connection of
our inner processes. I learned in the achievements of the
sense of sight to apprehend the fact of creative mental
synthesis.... From my inquiry into time-relations, etc.,... I
attained an insight into the close union of all those psychic
functions usually separated by artificial abstractions and
names, such as ideation, feeling, will; and I saw the
indivisibility and inner homogeneity, in all its phases, of
the mental life. The chronometric study of
association-processes finally showed me that the notion of
distinct mental 'images' [_reproducirten Vorstellungen_] was
one of those numerous self-deceptions which are no sooner
stamped in a verbal term than they forthwith thrust
non-existent fictions into the place of the reality. I
learned to understand an 'idea' as a process no less melting
and fleeting than an act of feeling or of will, and I
comprehended the older doctrine of association of 'ideas' to
be no longer tenable.... Besides all this, experimental
observation yielded much other information about the span of
consciousness, the rapidity of certain processes, the exact
numerical value of certain psychophysical data, and the like.
But I hold all these more special results to be relatively
insignificant by-products, and by no means the important
thing."--_Philosophische Studien_, x. 121-124. The whole
passage should be read. As I interpret it, it amounts to a
complete espousal of the vaguer conception of the stream of
thought, and a complete renunciation of the whole business,
still so industriously carried on in text-books, of chopping
up 'the mind' into distinct units of composition or function,
numbering these off, and labelling them by technical names.
III. THE CHILD AS A BEHAVING ORGANISM
I wish now to continue the description of the peculiarities of the
stream of consciousness by asking whether we can in any intelligible way
assign its _functions_.
It has two functions that are obvious: it leads to knowledge, and it
leads to action.
Can we say which of these functions is the more essential?
An old historic divergence of opinion comes in here. Popular belief has
always tended to estimate the worth of a man's mental processes by their
effects upon his practical life. But philosophers have usually cherished
a different view. "Man's supreme glory," they have said, "is to be a
_rational_ being, to know absolute and eternal and universal truth. The
uses of his intellect for practical affairs are therefore subordinate
matters. 'The theoretic life' is his soul's genuine concern." Nothing
can be more different in its results for our personal attitude than to
„Ich bin wirklich begeistert. Auch die Möglichkeit des zusätzlichen eReaders im Abo finde ich persönlich toll.”
„Die Auswahl von Legimi ist großartig.”
„Der Leser findet seine E-Books/Hörbücher sehr schnell und sie lassen sich, ob mit oder ohne Internetverbindung problemlos öffnen.”
Wurm sucht Buch
„Ich finde das Angebot von Legimi richtig toll.”
„Besonders schön finde ich die große Auswahl an möglichen Abo-Modellen und besonders die Abos mit eReader.”
Miss Foxy Reads
„Ich muss sagen, dass ich von dem E-Reader mehr als positiv überrascht bin.”
„Das ist wirklich eine großartige Idee und mal was ganz Anderes.”
Mikka liest das Leben...
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