Hegel's Philosophy of Mind

Author: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Show Summary

Essay II. Aims And Methods Of Psychology.

It is not going too far to say that in common estimation psychology has as yet hardly reached what Kant has called the steady walk of science—der sichere Gang der Wissenschaft. To assert this is not, of course, to throw any doubts on the importance of the problems, or on the intrinsic value of the results, in the studies which have been prosecuted under that name. It is only to note the obvious fact that a number of inquiries of somewhat discrepant tone, method, and tendency have all at different times covered themselves under the common title of psychological, and that the work of orientation is as yet incomplete. Such a destiny seems inevitable, when a name is coined rather as the title of an unexplored territory, than fixed on to describe an accomplished fact.

(i.) Psychology as a Science and as a Part of Philosophy.

The De Anima of Aristotle, gathering up into one the work of Plato and his predecessors, may be said to lay the foundation of psychology. But even in it, we can already see that there are two elements or aspects struggling for mastery: two elements not unrelated or independent, but hard to keep fairly and fully in unity. On one hand there is the conception of Soul as a part of Nature, as a grade of existence in the physical or natural universe,—in the universe of things which suffer growth and change, which are never entirely “without matter,” and are always attached to or present in body. From this point of view Aristotle urged that a sound and realistic psychology must, e.g. in its definition of a passion, give the prominent place to its physical (or material) expression, and not to its mental form or significance. It must remember, he said, that the phenomena or “accidents” are what really throw light on the nature or the “substance” of the Soul. On the other hand, there are two points to be considered. There is, first of all, the counterpoising remark that the conception of Soul as such, as a unity and common characteristic, will be determinative of the phenomena or “accidents,”—will settle, as it were, what we are to observe and look for, and how we are to describe our observations. And by the conception of Soul, is meant not a soul, as a thing or agent (subject) which has properties attaching to it; but soul, as the generic feature, the universal, which is set as a stamp on everything that claims to be psychical. In other words, Soul is one, not as a single thing contrasted with its attributes, activities, or exercises of force (such single thing will be shown by logic to be a metaphysical fiction); but as the unity of form and character, the comprehensive and identical feature, which is present in all its manifestations and exercises. But there is a second consideration. The question is asked by Aristotle whether it is completely and strictly accurate to put Soul under the category of natural objects. There is in it, or of it, perhaps, something, and something essential to it, which belongs to the order of the eternal and self-active: something which is “form” and “energy” quite unaffected by and separate from “matter.” How this is related to the realm of the perishable and changeable is a problem on which Aristotle has been often (and with some reason) believed to be obscure, if not even inconsistent(21).

In these divergent elements which come to the fore in Aristotle’s treatment we have the appearance of a radical difference of conception and purpose as to psychology. He himself does a good deal to keep them both in view. But it is evident that here already we have the contrast between a purely physical or (in the narrower sense) “scientific” psychology, empirical and realistic in treatment, and a more philosophical—what in certain quarters would be called a speculative or metaphysical—conception of the problem. There is also in Aristotle the antithesis of a popular or superficial, and an accurate or analytic, psychology. The former is of a certain use in dealing, say, with questions of practical ethics and education: the latter is of more strictly scientific interest. Both of these distinctions—that between a speculative and an empirical, and that between a scientific and a popular treatment—affect the subsequent history of the study. Psychology is sometimes understood to mean the results of casual observation of our own minds by what is termed introspection, and by the interpretation of what we may observe in others. Such observations are in the first place carried on under the guidance of distinctions or points of view supplied by the names in common use. We interrogate our own consciousness as to what facts or relations of facts correspond to the terms of our national language. Or we attempt—what is really an inexhaustible quest—to get definite divisions between them, and clear-cut definitions. Inquiries like these which start from popular distinctions fall a long way short of science: and the inquirer will find that accidental and essential properties are given in the same handful of conclusions. Yet there is always much value in these attempts to get our minds cleared: and it is indispensable for all inquiries that all alleged or reported facts of mind should be realised and reproduced in our own mental experience. And this is especially the case in psychology, just because here we cannot get the object outside us, we cannot get or make a diagram, and unless we give it reality by re-constructing it,—by re-interrogating our own experience, our knowledge of it will be but wooden and mechanical. And the term introspection need not be too seriously taken: it means much more than watching passively an internal drama; and is quite as well describable as mental projection, setting out what was within, and so as it were hidden and involved, before ourselves in the field of mental vision. Here, as always, the essential point is to get ourselves well out of the way of the object observed, and to stand, figuratively speaking, quite on one side.

But even at the best, such a popular or empirical psychology has no special claim to be ranked as science. It may no doubt be said that at least it collects, describes, or notes down facts. But even this is not so certain as it seems. Its so-called facts are very largely fictions, or so largely interpolated with error, that they cannot be safely used for construction. If psychology is to accomplish anything valuable, it must go more radically to work. It must—at least in a measure—discard from its preliminary view the data of common and current distinctions, and try to get at something more primary or ultimate as its starting-point. And this it may do in two ways. It may, in the one case, follow the example of the physical sciences. In these it is the universal practice to assume that the explanation of complex and concrete facts is to be attained by (a) postulating certain simple elements (which we may call atoms, molecules, and perhaps units or monads), which are supposed to be clearly conceivable and to justify themselves by intrinsic intelligibility, and by (b) assuming that these elements are compounded and combined according to laws which again are in the last resort self-evident, or such that they seem to have an obvious and palpable lucidity. Further, such laws being always axioms or plain postulates of mechanics (for these alone possess this feature of self-evident intelligibility), they are subject to and invite all the aids and refinements of the higher mathematical calculus. What the primary and self-explicative bits of psychical reality may be, is a further question on which there may be some dispute. They may be, so to say, taken in a more physical or in a more metaphysical way: i.e. more as units of nerve-function or more as elements of ideative-function. And there may be differences as to how far and in what provinces the mathematical calculus may be applicable. But, in any case, there will be a strong tendency in psychology, worked on this plan, to follow, mutatis mutandis, and at some distance perhaps, the analogy of material physics. In both the justification of the postulated units and laws will be their ability to describe and systematise the observed phenomena in a uniform and consistent way.

The other way in which psychology gets a foundation and ulterior certainty is different, and goes deeper. After all, the “scientific” method is only a way in which the facts of a given sphere are presented in thoroughgoing interconnexion, each reduced to an exact multiple or fraction of some other, by an inimitably continued subtraction and addition of an assumed homogeneous element, found or assumed to be perfectly imaginable (conceivable). But we may also consider the province in relation to the whole sphere of reality, may ask what is its place and meaning in the whole, what reality is in the end driving at or coming to be, and how far this special province contributes to that end. If we do this, we attach psychology to philosophy, or, if we prefer so to call it, to metaphysics, as in the former way we established it on the principles generally received as governing the method of the physical sciences.

This—the relation of psychology to fundamental philosophy—is a question which also turns up in dealing with Ethics. There is on the part of those engaged in either of these inquiries a certain impatience against the intermeddling (which is held to be only muddling) of metaphysics with them. It is clear that in a very decided way both psychology and ethics can, up to some extent at least, be treated as what is called empirical (or, to use the more English phrase, inductive) sciences. On many hands they are actually so treated: and not without result. Considering the tendency of metaphysical inquiries, it may be urged that it is well to avoid preliminary criticism of the current conceptions and beliefs about reality which these sciences imply. Yet such beliefs are undoubtedly present and effective. Schopenhauer has popularised the principle that the pure empiricist is a fiction, that man is a radically metaphysical animal, and that he inevitably turns what he receives into a part of a dogmatic creed—a conviction how things ought to be. Almost without effort there grows up in him, or flows in upon him, a belief and a system of beliefs as to the order and values of things. Every judgment, even in logic, rests on such an order of truth. He need not be able to formulate his creed: it will influence him none the less: nay, his faith will probably seem more a part of the solid earth and common reality, the less it has been reduced to a determinate creed or to a code of principles. For such formulation presupposes doubt and scepticism, which it beats back by mere assertion. Each human being has such a background of convictions which govern his actions and conceptions, and of which it so startles him to suggest the possibility of a doubt, that he turns away in dogmatic horror. Such ruling ideas vary, from man to man, and from man to woman—if we consider them in all their minuteness. But above all they constitute themselves in a differently organised system or aggregate according to the social and educational stratum to which an individual belongs. Each group, engaged in a common task, it may be in the study of a part of nature, is ideally bound and obliged by a common language, and special standards of truth and reality for its own. Such a group of ideas is what Bacon would have called a scientific fetich or idolum theatri. A scientific idolum is a traditional belief or dogma as to principles, values, and methods, which has so thoroughly pervaded the minds of those engaged in a branch of inquiry, that they no longer recognise its hypothetical character,—its relation of means to the main end of their function.

Such a collected and united theory of reality (it is what Hegel has designated the Idea) is what is understood by a natural metaphysic. It has nothing necessarily to do with a supersensible or a supernatural, if these words mean a ghostly, materialised, but super-finely-materialised nature, above and beyond the present. But that there is a persistent tendency to conceive the unity and coherence, the theoretic idea of reality, in this pseudo-sensuous (i.e. super-sensuous) form, is of course a well-known fact. For the present, however, this aberration—this idol of the tribe—may be left out of sight. By a metaphysic or fundamental philosophy, is, in the present instance, meant a system of first principles—a secular and cosmic creed: a belief in ends and values, a belief in truth—again premising that the system in question is, for most, a rudely organised and almost inarticulate mass of belief and hope, conviction and impression. It is, in short, a natural metaphysic: a metaphysic, that is, which has but an imperfect coherence, which imperfectly realises both its nature and its limits.

In certain parts, however, it is more and better than this crude background of belief. Each science—or at least every group of sciences—has a more definite system or aggregate of first principles, axioms, and conceptions belonging to it. It has, that is,—and here in a much distincter way—its special standard of reality, its peculiar forms of conceiving things, its distinctions between the actual and the apparent, &c. Here again it will probably be found that the scientific specialist is hardly conscious that these are principles and concepts: on the contrary, they will be supposed self-evident and ultimate facts, foundations of being. Instead of being treated as modes of conception, more or less justified by their use and their results, these categories will be regarded as fundamental facts, essential conditions of all reality. Like popular thought in its ingrained categories, the specialist cannot understand the possibility of any limitation to his radical ideas of reality. To him they are not hypotheses, but principles. The scientific specialist may be as convinced of the universal application of his peculiar categories, as the Chinese or the Eskimo that his standards are natural and final.

Under such metaphysical or extra-empirical presuppositions all investigation, whether it be crudely empirical or (in the physical sense) scientific, is carried on. And when so carried on, it is said to be prosecuted apart from any interference from metaphysic. Such a naïve or natural metaphysic, not raised to explicit consciousness, not followed as an imposed rule, but governing with the strength of an immanent faith, does not count for those who live under it as a metaphysic at all. M. Jourdain was amazed suddenly to learn he had been speaking prose for forty years without knowing it. But in the present case there is something worse than amazement sure to be excited by the news. For the critic who thus reveals the secrets of the scientist’s heart is pretty sure to go on to say that a good deal of this naïve unconscious metaphysic is incoherent, contradictory, even bad: that it requires correction, revision, and readjustment, and has by criticism to be made one and harmonious. That readjustment or criticism which shall eliminate contradiction and produce unity, is the aim of the science of metaphysic—the science of the meta-physical element in physical knowledge: what Hegel has chosen to call the Science of Logic (in the wide sense of the term). This higher Logic, this science of metaphysic, is the process to revise and harmonise in systematic completeness the imperfect or misleading and partial estimates of reality which are to be found in popular and scientific thought.

In the case of the run of physical sciences this revision is less necessary; and for no very recondite reason. Every science by its very nature deals with a special, a limited topic. It is confined to a part or aspect of reality. Its propositions are not complete truths; they apply to an artificial world, to a part expressly cut off from the concrete reality. Its principles are generally cut according to their cloth,—according to the range in which they apply. The only danger that can well arise is if these categories are transplanted without due reservations, and made of universal application, i.e. if the scientist elects on his speciality to pronounce de omnibus rebus. But in the case of psychology and ethics the harmlessness of natural metaphysics will be less certain. Here a general human or universal interest is almost an inevitable coefficient: especially if they really rise to the full sweep of the subject. For as such they both seem to deal not with a part of reality, but with the very centre and purpose of all reality. In them we are not dealing with topics of secondary interest, but with the very heart of the human problem. Here the questions of reality and ideals, of unity and diversity, and of the evaluation of existence, come distinctly to the fore. If psychology is to answer the question, What am I? and ethics the question, What ought I to do? they can hardly work without some formulated creed of metaphysical character, without some preliminary criticisms of current first principles.

(ii.) Herbart.

The German thinker, who has given perhaps the most fruitful stimulus to the scientific study of psychology in modern times—Johann Friedrich Herbart—is after all essentially a philosopher, and not a mere scientist, even in his psychology. His psychological inquiry, that is, stands in intimate connexion with the last questions of all intelligence, with metaphysics and ethics. The business of philosophy, says Herbart, is to touch up and finish off conceptions (Bearbeitung der Begriffe)(22). It finds, as it supervenes upon the unphilosophical world, that mere and pure facts (if there ever are or were such purisms) have been enveloped in a cloud of theory, have been construed into some form of unity, but have been imperfectly, inadequately construed: and that the existing concepts in current use need to be corrected, supplemented and readjusted. It has, accordingly, for its work to “reconcile experience with itself(23),” and to elicit “the hidden pre-suppositions without which the fact of experience is unthinkable.” Psychology, then, as a branch of this philosophic enterprise, has to readjust the facts discovered in inner experience. For mere uncritical experience or merely empirical knowledge only offers problems; it suggests gaps, which indeed further reflection serves at first only to deepen into contradictions. Such a psychology is “speculative”: i.e. it is not content to accept the mere given, but goes forward and backward to find something that will make the fact intelligible. It employs totally different methods from the “classification, induction, analogy” familiar to the logic of the empirical sciences. Its “principles,” therefore, are not given facts: but facts which have been manipulated and adjusted so as to lose their self-contradictory quality: they are facts “reduced,” by introducing the omitted relationships which they postulate if they are to be true and self-consistent(24). While it is far from rejecting or ignoring experience, therefore, psychology cannot strictly be said to build upon it alone. It uses experimental fact as an unfinished datum,—or it sees in experience a torso which betrays its imperfection, and suggests completing.

The starting-point, it may be said, of Herbart’s psychology is a question which to the ordinary psychologist (and to the so-called scientific psychologist) has a secondary, if it have any interest. It was, he says, the problem of Personality, the problem of the Self or Ego, which first led to his characteristic conception of psychological method. “My first discovery,” he tells us(25), “was that the Self was neither primitive nor independent, but must be the most dependent and most conditioned thing one can imagine. The second was that the elementary ideas of an intelligent being, if they were ever to reach the pitch of self-consciousness, must be either all, or at least in part, opposed to each other, and that they must check or block one another in consequence of this opposition. Though held in check, however, these ideas were not to be supposed lost: they subsist as endeavours or tendencies to return into the position of actual idea, as soon as the check became, for any reason, either in whole or in part inoperative. This check could and must be calculated, and thus it was clear that psychology required a mathematical as well as a metaphysical foundation.”

The place of the conception of the Ego in Kant’s and Fichte’s theory of knowledge is well known. Equally well known is Kant’s treatment of the soul-reality or soul-substance in his examination of Rational Psychology. Whereas the (logical) unity of consciousness, or “synthetic unity of apperception,” is assumed as a fundamental starting-point in explanation of our objective judgments, or of our knowledge of objective existence, its real (as opposed to its formal) foundation in a “substantial” soul is set aside as an illegitimate interpretation of, or inference from, the facts of inner experience. The belief in the separate unity and persistence of the soul, said Kant, is not a scientifically-warranted conclusion. Its true place is as an ineffaceable postulate of the faith which inspires human life and action. Herbart did not rest content with either of these—as he believed—dogmatic assumptions of his master. He did not fall in cheerfully with the idealism which seemed ready to dispense with a soul, or which justified its acceptance of empirical reality by referring to the fundamental unity of the function of judgment. With a strong bent towards fully-differentiated and individualised experience Herbart conjoined a conviction of the need of logical analysis to prevent us being carried away by the first-come and inadequate generalities. The Ego which, in its extremest abstraction, he found defined as the unity of subject and object, did not seem to him to offer the proper guarantees of reality: it was itself a problem, full of contradictions, waiting for solution. On the other hand, the real Ego, or self of concrete experience, is very much more than this logical abstract, and differs widely from individual to individual, and apparently from time to time even in the same individual. Our self, of which we talk so fluently, as one and the self-same—how far does it really possess the continuity and identity with which we credit it? Does it not rather seem to be an ideal which we gradually form and set before ourselves as the standard for measuring our attainments of the moment,—the perfect fulfilment of that oneness of being and purpose and knowledge which we never reach? Sometimes even it seems no better than a name which we move along the varying phenomena of our inner life, at one time identifying it with the power which has gained the victory in a moral struggle, at another with that which has been defeated(26), according as the attitude of the moment makes us throw now one, now another, aspect of mental activity in the foreground.

The other—or logical Ego—the mere identity of subject and object,—when taken in its utter abstractness and simplicity, shrivels up to something very small indeed—to a something which is little better than nothing. The mere I which is not contra-distinguished by a Thou and a He—which is without all definiteness of predication (the I=I of Fichte and Schelling)—is only as it were a point of being cut off from all its connexions in reality, and treated as if it were or could be entirely independent. It is an identity in which subject and object have not yet appeared: it is not a real I, though we may still retain the name. It is—as Hegel’s Logic will tell us—exactly definable as Being, which is as yet Nothing: the impossible edge of abstraction on which we try—and in vain—to steady ourselves at the initial point of thought. And to reach or stand at that intangible, ungraspable point, which slips away as we approach, and transmutes itself as we hold it, is not the natural beginning, but the result of introspection and reflection on the concrete self. But with this aspect of the question we are not now concerned.

That the unity of the Self as an intelligent and moral being, that the Ego of self-consciousness was an ideal and a product of development, was what Herbart soon became convinced of. The unity of Self is even as given in mature experience an imperfect fact. It is a fact, that is, which does not come up to what it promised, and which requires to be supplemented, or philosophically justified. Here and everywhere the custom of life carries us over gaps which yawn deep to the eye of philosophic reflection: even though accident and illness force them not unfrequently even upon the blindest. To trace the process of unification towards this unity—to trace, if you like, even the formation of the concept of such unity, as a governing and guiding principle in life and conduct, comes to be the problem of the psychologist, in the largest sense of that problem. From Soul (Seele) to Mind or Spirit (Geist) is for Herbart, as for Hegel, the course of psychology(27). The growth and development of mind, the formation of a self, the realisation of a personality, is for both the theme which psychology has to expound. And Herbart, not less than Hegel, had to bear the censure that such a conception of mental reality as a growth would destroy personality(28).

But with so much common in the general plan, the two thinkers differ profoundly in their special mode of carrying out the task. Or, rather, they turn their strength on different departments of the whole. Herbart’s great practical interest had been the theory of education: “paedagogic” is the subject of his first important writings. The inner history of ideas—the processes which are based on the interaction of elements in the individual soul—are what he specially traces. Hegel’s interests, on the contrary, are more towards the greater process, the unities of historical life, and the correlations of the powers of art, religion, and philosophy that work therein. He turns to the macrocosm, almost as naturally as Herbart does to the microcosm. Thus, even in Ethics, while Herbart gives a delicate analysis of the distinct aspects or elements in the Ethical idea,—the diverse headings under which the disinterested spectator within the breast measures with purely aesthetic eye his approach to unity and strength of purpose, Hegel seems to hurry away from the field of moral sense or conscience to throw himself on the social and political organisation of the moral life. The General Paedagogic of Herbart has its pendant in Hegel’s Philosophy of Law and of History.

At an early period Herbart had become impressed with the necessity of applying mathematics to psychology(29). To the usual objection, that psychical facts do not admit of measurement, he had a ready reply. We can calculate even on hypothetical assumptions: indeed, could we measure, we should scarcely take the trouble to calculate(30). To calculate (i.e. to deduce mathematically) is to perform a general experiment, and to perform it in the medium where there is least likelihood of error or disturbance. There may be anomalies enough apparent in the mental life: there may be the great anomalies of Genius and of Freedom of Will; but the Newton and the Kepler of psychology will show by calculation on assumed conditions of psychic nature that these aberrations can be explained by mechanical laws. “The human Soul is no puppet-theatre: our wishes and resolutions are no marionettes: no juggler stands behind; but our true and proper life lies in our volition, and this life has its rule not outside, but in itself: it has its own purely mental rule, by no means borrowed from the material world. But this rule is in it sure and fixed; and on account of this its fixed quality it has more similarity to (what is otherwise heterogeneous) the laws of impact and pressure than to the marvels of an alleged inexplicable freedom(31).”

Psychology then deals with a real, which exhibits phenomena analogous in several respects to those discussed by statics and mechanics. Its foundation is a statics and mechanics of the Soul,—as this real is called. We begin by presupposing as the ultimate reality, underlying the factitious and generally imperfect unity of self-consciousness and mind, an essential and primary unity—the unity of an absolutely simple or individual point of being—a real point which amongst other points asserts itself, maintains itself. It has a character of its own, but that character it only shows in and through a development conditioned by external influences. The specific nature of the soul-reality is to be representative, to produce, or manifest itself in, ideas (Vorstellungen). But the character only emerges into actuality in the conflict of the soul-atom with other ultimate realities in the congregation of things. A soul per se or isolated is not possessed of ideas. It is merely blank, undeveloped, formal unity, of which nothing can be said. But like other realities it defines and characterises itself by antithesis, by resistance: it shows what it is by its behaviour in the struggle for existence. It acts in self-defence: and its peculiar style or weapon of self-defence is an idea or representation. The way the Soul maintains itself is by turning the assailant into an idea(32): and each idea is therefore a Selbsterhaltung of the Soul. The Soul is thus enriched—to appearance or incidentally: and the assailant is annexed. In this way the one Soul may develop or evolve or express an innumerable variety of ideas: for in response to whatever it meets, the living and active Soul ideates, or gives rise to a representation. Thus, while the soul is one, its ideas or representations are many. Taken separately, they each express the psychic self-conservation. But brought in relation with each other, as so many acts or self-affirmations of the one soul, they behave as forces, and tend to thwart or check each other. It is as forces, as reciprocally arresting or fostering each other, that ideas are objects of science. When a representation is thus held in check, it is reduced to a mere endeavour or active tendency to represent. Thus there arises a distinction between representations proper, and those imperfect states or acts which are partly or wholly held in abeyance. But the latent phase of an idea is as essential to a thorough understanding of it as what appears. It is the great blunder of empirical psychology to ignore what is sunk below the surface of consciousness. And to Herbart consciousness is not the condition but rather the product of ideas, which are primarily forces.

But representations are not merely in opposition,—impinging and resisting. The same reason which makes them resist, viz. that they are or would fain be acts of the one soul, but are more or less incompatible, leads them in other circumstances to form combinations with each other. These combinations are of two sorts. They are, first, complications, or “complexions”: a number of ideas combine by quasi-addition and juxtaposition to form a total. Second, there is fusion: ideas presenting certain degrees of contrast enter into a union where the parts are no longer separately perceptible. It is easy to see how the problems of psychology now assume the form of a statics and mechanics of the mind. Quantitative data are to be sought in the strength of each separate single idea, and the degree in which two or more ideas block each other: in the degree of combination between ideas, and the number of ideas in a combination: and in the terms of relation between the members of a series of ideas. A statical theory has to show the conditions required for what we may call the ideal state of equilibrium of the “idea-forces”: to determine, that is, the ultimate degree of obscuration suffered by any two ideas of different strength, and the conditions of their permanent combination or fusion. A mechanics of the mind will, on the contrary, deal with the rate at which these processes are brought about, the velocity with which in the movement of mind ideas are obscured or reawakened, &c.

It is fortunately unnecessary, here, to go further into details. What Herbart proposes is not a method for the mathematical measurement of psychic facts: it is a theory of mechanics and statics specially adapted to the peculiarities of psychical phenomena, where the forces are given with no sine or cosine, where instead of gravitation we have the constant effort (as it were elasticity) of each idea to revert to its unchecked state. He claims—in short—practically to be a Kepler and Newton of the mind, and in so doing to justify the vague professions of more than one writer on mind—above all, perhaps of David Hume, who goes beyond mere professions—to make mental science follow the example of physics. And a main argument in favour of his enterprise is the declaration of Kant that no body of knowledge can claim to be a science except in such proportion as it is mathematical. And the peculiarity of this enterprise is that self-consciousness, the Ego, is not allowed to interfere with the free play of psychic forces. The Ego is—psychologically—the result, the product, and the varying product of that play. The play of forces is no doubt a unity: but its unity lies not in the synthesis of consciousness, but in the essential unity of Soul. And Soul is in its essence neither consciousness, nor self-consciousness, nor mind: but something on the basis of whose unity these are built up and developed(33). The mere “representation” does not include the further supervenience of consciousness: it represents, but it is not as yet necessary that we should also be conscious that there is representation. It is, in the phrase of Leibniz, perception: but not apperception. It is mere straight-out, not as yet reflected, representation. Gradually there emerges through the operation of mechanical psychics a nucleus, a floating unity, a fixed or definite central aggregate.

The suggestion of mathematical method has been taken up by subsequent inquirers (as it was pursued even before Herbart’s time), but not in the sense he meant. Experimentation has now taken a prominent place in psychology. But in proportion as it has done so, psychology has lost its native character, and thrown itself into the arms of physiology. What Herbart calculated were actions and reactions of idea-forces: what the modern experimental school proposes to measure are to a large extent the velocities of certain physiological processes, the numerical specification of certain facts. Such ascertainments are unquestionably useful; as numerical precision is in other departments. But, taken in themselves, they do not carry us one bit further on the way to science. As experiments, further,—to note a point discussed elsewhere(34)—their value depends on the point of view, on the theory which has led to them, on the value of the general scheme for which they are intended to provide a special new determination. In many cases they serve to give a vivid reality to what was veiled under a general phrase. The truth looks so much more real when it is put in figures: as the size of a huge tree when set against a rock; or as when Milton bodies out his fallen angel by setting forth the ratio between his spear and the tallest Norway pine. But until the general relationship between soul and body is more clearly formulated, such statistics will have but a value of curiosity.

(iii.) The Faculty-Psychology and its Critics.

What Herbart (as well as Hegel) finds perpetual ground for objecting to is the talk about mental faculties. This objection is part of a general characteristic of all the higher philosophy; and the recurrence of it gives an illustration of how hard it is for any class of men to see themselves as others see them. If there be anything the vulgar believe to be true of philosophy, it is that it deals in distant and abstruse generalities, that it neglects the shades of individuality and reality, and launches out into unsubstantial general ideas. But it would be easy to gather from the great thinkers an anthology of passages in which they hold it forth as the great work of philosophy to rescue our conceptions from the indefiniteness and generality of popular conception, and to give them real, as opposed to a merely nominal, individuality.

The Wolffian school, which Herbart (not less than Kant) found in possession of the field, and which in Germany may be taken to represent only a slight variant of the half-and-half attitude of vulgar thought, was entrenched in the psychology of faculties. Empirical psychology, said Wolff(35), tells the number and character of the soul’s faculties: rational psychology will tell what they “properly” are, and how they subsist in soul. It is assumed that there are general receptacles or tendencies of mental operation which in course of time get filled or qualified in a certain way: and that when this question is disposed of, it still remains to fix on the metaphysical bases of these facts.

That a doctrine of faculties should fix itself in psychology is not so wonderful. In the non-psychical world objects are easily discriminated in space, and the individual thing lasts through a time. But a phase of mind is as such fleeting and indeterminate: its individual features which come from its “object” tend soon to vanish in memory: all freshness of definite characters wears off, and there is left behind only a vague “recept” of the one and same in many, a sort of hypostatised representative, faint but persistent, of what in experience was an ever-varying succession. We generalise here as elsewhere: but elsewhere the many singulars remain to confront us more effectually. But in Mind the immense variety of real imagination, memory, judgment is forgotten, and the name in each case reduced to a meagre abstract. Thus the identity in character and operation, having been cut off from the changing elements in its real action, is transmuted into a substantial somewhat, a subsistent faculty. The relationship of one to another of the powers thus by abstraction and fancy created becomes a problem of considerable moment, their causal relations in particular: till in the end they stand outside and independent of each other, engaged, as Herbart says, in a veritable bellum omnium contra omnes.

But this hypostatising of faculties becomes a source of still further difficulties when it is taken in connexion with the hypostasis of the Soul or Self or Ego. To Aristotle the Soul in its general aspect is Energy or Essence; and its individual phases are energies. But in the hands of the untrained these conceptions came to be considerably displaced. Essence or Substance came to be understood (as may be seen in Locke, and still more in loose talk) as a something,—a substratum,—or peculiar nature—(of which in itself nothing further could be said(36) but which notwithstanding was permanent and perhaps imperishable): this something subsistent exhibited certain properties or activities. There thus arose, on one hand, the Soul-thing,—a substance misunderstood and sensualised with a supernatural sensuousness,—a denizen of the transcendental or even of the transcendent world: and, on the other hand, stood the actual manifestations, the several exhibitions of this force, the assignable and describable psychic facts. We are accordingly brought before the problem of how this one substance or essence stands to the several entities or hypostases known as faculties. And we still have in the rear the further problem of how these abstract entities stand to the real and concrete single acts and states of soul and mind.

This hypostatising of faculties, and this distinction of the “Substantial” soul from its “accidentia” or phenomena, had grown—through the materialistic proclivities of popular conception—from the indications found in Aristotle. It attained its climax, perhaps in the Wolffian school in Germany, but it has been the resort of superficial psychology in all ages. For while it, on one hand, seemed to save the substantial Soul on whose incorruptibility great issues were believed to hinge, it held out, on the other, an open hand to the experimental inquirer, whom it bade freely to search amongst the phenomena. But if it was the refuge of pusillanimity, it was also the perpetual object of censure from all the greater and bolder spirits. Thus, the psychology of Hobbes may be hasty and crude, but it is at least animated by a belief that the mental life is continuous, and not cut off by abrupt divisions severing the mental faculties. The “image” (according to his materialistically coloured psychology) which, when it is a strong motion, is called sense, passes, as it becomes weaker or decays, into imagination, and gives rise, by its various complications and associations with others, to reminiscence, experience, expectation. Similarly, the voluntary motion which is an effect or a phase of imagination, beginning at first in small motions—called by themselves “endeavours,” and in relation to their cause “appetites” or “desires(37)”—leads on cumulatively to Will, which is the “last appetite in deliberating.” Spinoza, his contemporary, speaks in the same strain(38). “Faculties of intellect, desire, love, &c., are either utterly fictitious, or nothing but metaphysical entities, or universals which we are in the habit of forming from particulars. Will and intellect are thus supposed to stand to this or that idea, this or that volition, in the same way as stoniness to this or that stone, or as man to Peter or Paul.” They are supposed to be a general something which gets defined and detached. But, in the mind, or in the cogitant soul, there are no such things. There are only ideas: and by an “idea” we are to understand not an image on the retina or in the brain, not a “dumb something, like a painting on a panel(39),” but a mode of thinking, or even the act of intellection itself. The ideas are the mind: mind does not have ideas. Further, every “idea,” as such, “involves affirmation or negation,”—is not an image, but an act of judgment—contains, as we should say, an implicit reference to actuality,—a reference which in volition is made explicit. Thus (concludes the corollary of Eth. ii. 49) “Will and Intellect are one and the same.” But in any case the “faculties” as such are no better than entia rationis (i.e. auxiliary modes of representing facts).

Leibniz speaks no less distinctly and sanely in this direction. “True powers are never mere possibilities: they are always tendency and action.” The “Monad”—that is the quasi-intelligent unit of existence,—is essentially activity, and its actions are perceptions and appetitions, i.e. tendencies to pass from one perceptive state or act to another. It is out of the variety, the complication, and relations of these miniature or little perceptions and appetitions, that the conspicuous phenomena of consciousness are to be explained, and not by supposing them due to one or other faculty. The soul is a unity, a self-developing unity, a unity which at each stage of its existence shows itself in a perception or idea,—each such perception however being, to repeat the oft quoted phrase, plein de l’avenir et chargé du passé:—each, in other words, is not stationary, but active and urgent, a progressive force, as well as a representative element. Above all, Leibniz has the view that the soul gives rise to all its ideas from itself: that its life is its own production, not a mere inheritance of ideas which it has from birth and nature, nor a mere importation into an empty room from without, but a necessary result of its own constitution acting in necessary (predetermined) reciprocity and harmony with the rest of the universe.

But Hobbes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, were most attentively heard in the passages where they favoured or combatted the dominant social and theological prepossessions. Their glimpses of truer insight and even their palpable contributions in the line of a true psychology were ignored or forgotten. More attention, perhaps, was attracted by an attempt of a very different style. This was the system of Condillac, who, as Hegel says (p. 61), made an unmistakable attempt to show the necessary interconnexion of the several modes of mental activity. In his Traité des Sensations (1754), following on his Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines (1746), he tried to carry out systematically the deduction or derivation of all our ideas from sense, or to trace the filiation of all our faculties from sensation. Given a mind with no other power than sensibility, the problem is to show how it acquires all its other faculties. Let us then suppose a sentient animal to which is offered a single sensation, or one sensation standing out above the others. In such circumstances the sensation “becomes” (devient) attention: or a sensation “is” (est) attention, either because it is alone, or because it is more lively than all the rest. Again: before such a being, let us set two sensations: to perceive or feel (apercevoir ou sentir) the two sensations is the same thing (c’est la même chose). If one of the sensations is not present, but a sensation made already, then to perceive it is memory. Memory, then, is only “transformed sensation” (sensation transformée). Further, suppose we attend to both ideas, this is “the same thing” as to compare them. And to compare them we must see difference or resemblance. This is judgment. “Thus sensation becomes successively attention, comparison, judgment.” And—by further steps of the equating process—it appears that sensation again “becomes” an act of reflection. And the same may be said of imagination and reasoning: all are transformed sensations.

If this is so with the intelligence, it is equally the case with the Will. To feel and not feel well or ill is impossible. Coupling then this feeling of pleasure or pain with the sensation and its transformations, we get the series of phases ranging from desire, to passion, hope, will. “Desire is only the action of the same faculties as are attributed to the understanding.” A lively desire is a passion: a desire, accompanied with a belief that nothing stands in its way, is a volition. But combine these affective with the intellectual processes already noticed, and you have thinking (penser)(40). Thus thought in its entirety is, only and always, transformed sensation.

Something not unlike this, though scarcely so simply and directly doctrinaire, is familiar to us in some English psychology, notably James Mill’s(41). Taken in their literal baldness, these identifications may sound strained,—or trifling. But if we look beyond the words, we can detect a genuine instinct for maintaining and displaying the unity and continuity of mental life through all its modifications,—coupled unfortunately with a bias sometimes in favour of reducing higher or more complex states of mind to a mere prolongation of lower and beggarly rudiments. But otherwise such analyses are useful as aids against the tendency of inert thought to take every name in this department as a distinguishable reality: the tendency to part will from thought—ideas from emotion—and even imagination from reason, as if either could be what it professed without the other.

(iv.) Methods and Problems of Psychology.

The difficulties of modern psychology perhaps lie in other directions, but they are not less worth guarding against. They proceed mainly from failure or inability to grasp the central problem of psychology, and a disposition to let the pen (if it be a book on the subject) wander freely through the almost illimitable range of instance, illustration, and application. Though it is true that the proper study of mankind is man, it is hardly possible to say what might not be brought under this head. Homo sum, nihil a me alienum puto, it might be urged. Placed in a sort of middle ground between physiology (summing up all the results of physical science) and general history (including the contributions of all the branches of sociology), the psychologist need not want for material. He can wander into ethics, aesthetic, and logic, into epistemology and metaphysics. And it cannot be said with any conviction that he is actually trespassing, so long as the ground remains so ill-fenced and vaguely enclosed. A desultory collection of observations on traits of character, anecdotes of mental events, mixed up with hypothetical descriptions of how a normal human being may be supposed to develop his so-called faculties, and including some dictionary-like verbal distinctions, may make a not uninteresting and possibly bulky work entitled Psychology.

It is partly a desire of keeping up to date which is responsible for the copious extracts or abstracts from treatises on the anatomy and functions of the nerve-system, which, accompanied perhaps by a diagram of the brain, often form the opening chapter of a work on psychology. Even if these researches had achieved a larger number of authenticated results than they as yet have, they would only form an appendix and an illustration to the proper subject(42). As they stand, and so long as they remain largely hypothetical, the use of them in psychology only fosters the common delusion that, when we can picture out in material outlines a theory otherwise unsupported, it has gained some further witness in its favour. It is quite arguable indeed that it may be useful to cut out a section from general human biology which should include the parts of it that were specially interesting in connexion with the expression or generation of thought, emotion, and desire. But in that case, there is a blunder in singling out the brain alone, and especially the organs of sense and voluntary motion,—except for the reason that this province of psycho-physics alone has been fairly mapped out. The preponderant half of the soul’s life is linked to other parts of the physical system. Emotion and volition, and the general tone of the train of ideas, if they are to be connected with their expression and physical accompaniment (or aspect), would require a sketch of the heart and lungs, as well as the digestive system in general. Nor these alone. Nerve analysis (especially confined to the larger system), though most modern, is not alone important, as Plato and Aristotle well saw. So that if biology is to be adapted for psychological use (and if psychology deals with more than cognitive processes), a liberal amount of physiological information seems required.

Experimental psychology is a term used with a considerable laxity of content; and so too is that of physiological psychology, or psycho-physics. And the laxity mainly arises because there is an uncertainty as to what is principal and what secondary in the inquiry. Experiment is obviously a help to observation: and so far as the latter is practicable, the former would seem to have a chance of introduction. But in any case, experiment is only a means to an end and only practicable under the guidance of hypothesis and theory. Its main value would be in case the sphere of psychology were completely paralleled with one province of physiology. It was long ago maintained by Spinoza and (in a way by) Leibniz, that there is no mental phenomenon without its bodily equivalent, pendant, or correspondent. The ordo rerum (the molecular system of movements) is, he held, the same as the order of ideas. But it is only at intervals, under special conditions, or when they reach a certain magnitude, that ideas emerge into full consciousness. As consciousness presents them, they are often discontinuous, and abrupt: and they do not always carry with them their own explanation. Hence if we are confined to the larger phenomena of consciousness alone, our science is imperfect: many things seem anomalous; above all, perhaps, will, attention, and the like. We have seen how Herbart (partly following the hints of Leibniz), attempted to get over this difficulty by the hypothesis of idea-forces which generate the forms and matter of consciousness by their mutual impact and resistance. Physiological psychology substitutes for Herbart’s reals and his idea-forces a more materialistic sort of reality; perhaps functions of nerve-cells, or other analogous entities. There, it hopes one day to discover the underlying continuity of event which in the upper range of consciousness is often obscured, and then the process would be, as the phrase goes, explained: we should be able to picture it out without a gap.

These large hopes may have a certain fulfilment. They may lead to the withdrawal of some of the fictitious mental processes which are still described in works of psychology. But on the whole they can only have a negative and auxiliary value. The value, that is, of helping to confute feigned connexions and to suggest truer. They will be valid against the mode of thought which, when Psyché fails us for an explanation, turns to body, and interpolates soul between the states of body: the mode which, in an older phraseology, jumps from final causes to physical, and from physical (or efficient) to final. Here, as elsewhere, the physical has its place: and here, more than in many places, the physical has been unfairly treated. But the whole subject requires a discussion of the so-called “relations” of soul and body: a subject on which popular conceptions and so-called science are radically obscure.

“But the danger which threatens experimental psychology,” says Münsterberg, “is that, in investigating details, the connexion with questions of principle may be so lost sight of that the investigation finally lands at objects scientifically quite worthless(43). Psychology forgets only too easily that all those numerical statistics which experiment allows us to form are only means for psychological analysis and interpretation, not ends in themselves. It piles up numbers and numbers, and fails to ask whether the results so formed have any theoretical value whatever: it seeks answers before a question has been clearly and distinctly framed; whereas the value of experimental answers always depends on the exactitude with which the question is put. Let me remind the reader, how one inquirer after another made many thousand experiments on the estimation of small intervals of time, without a single one of them raising the question what the precise point was which these experiments sought to measure, what was the psychological occurrence in the case, or what psychological phenomena were employed as the standard of time-intervals. And so each had his own arbitrary standard of measurement, each of them piled up mountains of numbers, each demonstrated that his predecessor was wrong; but neither Estel nor Mehner have carried the problem of the time-sense a single step further.

“This must be all changed, if we are not to drift into the barrenest scholastic.... Everywhere out of the correct perception that problems of principle demand the investigation of detailed phenomena, and that the latter investigation must proceed in comparative independence of the question of principles, there has grown the false belief that the description of detail phenomena is the ultimate aim of science. And so, side by side with details which are of importance to principles, we have others, utterly indifferent and theoretically worthless, treated with the same zeal. To the solution of their barren problems the old Schoolmen applied a certain acuteness; but in order to turn out masses of numbers from barren experiments, all that is needed is a certain insensibility to fits of ennui. Let numbers be less collected for their own sake: and instead, let the problems be so brought to a point that the answers may possess the character of principles. Let each experiment be founded on far more theoretical considerations, then the number of the experiments may be largely diminished(44).”

What is thus said of a special group of inquiries by one of the foremost of the younger psychologists, is not without its bearings on all the departments in which psychology can learn. For physiological, or what is technically called psychological, experiment, is co-ordinate with many other sources of information. Much, for instance, is to be learnt by a careful study of language by those who combine sound linguistic knowledge with psychological training. It is in language, spoken and written, that we find at once the great instrument and the great document of the distinctively human progress from a mere Psyche to a mature Nous, from Soul to Mind. Whether we look at the varieties of its structure under different ethnological influences, or at the stages of its growth in a nation and an individual, we get light from language on the differentiation and consolidation of ideas. But here again it is easy to lose oneself in the world of etymology, or to be carried away into the enticing questions of real and ideal philology.

“The human being of the psychologist,” says Herbart(45), “is the social and civilised human being who stands on the apex of the whole history through which his race has passed. In him is found visibly together all the multiplicity of elements, which, under the name of mental faculties, are regarded as a universal inheritance of humanity. Whether they are originally in conjunction, whether they are originally a multiplicity, is a point on which the facts are silent. The savage and the new-born child give us far less occasion to admire the range of their mind than do the nobler animals. But the psychologists get out of this difficulty by the unwarranted assumption that all the higher mental activities exist potentially in children and savages—though not in the animals—as a rudimentary predisposition or psychical endowment. Of such a nascent intellect, a nascent reason, and nascent moral sense, they find recognisable traces in the scanty similarities which the behaviour of child or savage offers to those of civilised man. We cannot fail to note that in their descriptions they have before them a special state of man, and one which, far from accurately defined, merely follows the general impression made upon us by those beings we name civilised. An extremely fluctuating character inevitably marks this total impression. For there are no general facts:—the genuine psychological documents lie in the momentary states of individuals: and there is an immeasurably long way from these to the height of the universal concept of man in general.”

And yet Man in general,—Man as man and therefore as mind—the concept of Man—normal and ideal man—the complete and adequate Idea of man—is the true terminus of the psychological process; and whatever be the difficulties in the way, it is the only proper goal of the science. Only it has to be built up, constructed, evolved, developed,—and not assumed as a datum of popular imagination. We want a concept, concrete and real, of Man and of Mind, which shall give its proper place to each of the elements that, in the several examples open to detailed observation, are presented with unfair or exaggerated prominence. The savage and the child are not to be left out as free from contributing to form the ideal: virtues here are not more important than vices, and are certainly not likely to be so informing: even the insane and the idiot show us what human intelligence is and requires: and the animals are also within the sweep of psychology. Man is not its theatre to the exclusion of woman; if it records the results of introspection of the Me, it will find vast and copious quarries in the various modes in which an individual identifies himself with others as We. And even the social and civilised man gets his designation, as usual, a potiori. He is more civilised and social than others: perhaps rather more civilised than not. But always, in some measure, he is at the same time unsocial or anti-social, and uncivilised. Each unit in the society of civilisation has to the outside observer—and sometimes even to his own self-detached and impartial survey—a certain oddity or fixity, a gleam of irrationality, which shows him to fall short of complete sanity or limpid and mobile intelligence. He has not wholly put off the savage,—least of all, says the cynic, in his relations with the other sex. He carries with him even to the grave some grains of the recklessness and petulance of childhood. And rarely, if ever, can it be said of him that he has completely let the ape and tiger die.

But that is only one way of looking at the matter—and one which, perhaps, is more becoming to the pathologist and the cynic, than to the psychologist. Each of these stages of psychical development, even if that development be obviously describable as degeneration, has something which, duly adjusted, has its place and function in the theory of the normally-complete human mind. The animal, the savage, and the child,—each has its part there. It is a mutilated, one-sided and superficial advance in socialisation which cuts off the civilised creature from the natural stem of his ancestry, from the large freedom, the immense insouciance, the childlikeness of his first estate. There is something, again, wanting in the man who utterly lacks the individualising realism and tenderness of the woman, as in the woman who can show no comprehension of view or bravery of enterprise. Even pathological states of mind are not mere anomalies and mere degenerations. Nature perhaps knows no proper degenerations, but only by-ways and intricacies in the course of development. Still less is the vast enormity or irregularity of genius to be ignored. It is all—to the philosophic mind—a question of degree and proportion,—though often the proportion seems to exceed the scale of our customary denominators. If an element is latent or quiescent (in arrest), that is no index to its absolute amount: “we know not what’s resisted.” Let us by all means keep proudly to our happy mediocrity of faculty, and step clear of insanity or idiotcy on one hand, and from genius or heroism on the other. But the careful observer will notwithstanding note how delicately graded and how intricately combined are the steps which connect extremes so terribly disparate. It is only vulgar ignorance which turns away in hostility or contempt from the imbecile and the deranged, and only a worse than vulgar sciolism which sees in genius and the hero nothing but an aberration from its much-prized average. Criminalistic anthropology, or the psychology of the criminal, may have indulged in much frantic exaggeration as to the doom which nature and heredity have pronounced over the fruit of the womb even before it entered the shores of light: yet they have at least served to discredit the free and easy assumption of the abstract averagist, and shown how little the penalties of an unbending law meet the requirements of social well-being.

Yet, if psychology be willing to learn in all these and other provinces of the estate of man, it must remember that, once it goes beyond the narrow range in which the interpretations of symbol and expression have become familiar, it is constantly liable to blunder in the inevitable effort to translate observation into theory. The happy mean between making too much of palpable differences and hurrying on to a similar rendering of similar signs is the rarest of gifts. Or, perhaps, it were truer to say it is the latest and most hardly won of acquirements. To learn to observe—observe with mind—is not a small thing. There are rules for it—both rules of general scope and, above all, rules in each special department. But like all “major premisses” in practice, everything depends on the power of judgment, the tact, the skill, the “gift” of applying them. They work not as mere rules to be conned by rote, but as principles assimilated into constituents of the mental life-blood: rules which serve only as condensed reminders and hints of habits of thought and methods of research which have grown up in action and reflection. To observe we must comprehend: yet we can only comprehend by observing. We all know how unintelligible—save for epochs of ampler reciprocity, and it may be even of acquired unity of interest—the two sexes are for each other. Parents can remember how mysteriously minded they found their own elders; and in most cases they have to experience the depth of the gulf which in certain directions parts them from their children’s hearts. Even in civilised Europe, the ordinary member of each nation has an underlying conviction (which at moments of passion or surprise will rise and find harsh utterance) that the foreigner is queer, irrational, and absurd. If the foreigner, further, be so far removed as a Chinaman (or an Australian “black”), there is hardly anything too vile, meaningless, or inhuman which the European will not readily believe in the case of one who, it may be, in turn describes him as a “foreign devil.” It can only be in a fit of noble chivalry that the British rank and file can so far temporise with its insular prejudice as to admit of “Fuzzy-wuzzy” that

“He’s a poor benighted ’eathen—but a first-class fightin’ man.”

Not every one is an observer who chooses to dub himself so, nor is it in a short lapse of time and with condescension for foreign habits, that any observer whatever can become a trustworthy reporter of the ideas some barbarian tribe holds concerning the things of earth and air, and the hidden things of spirits and gods. The “interviewer” no doubt is a useful being when it is necessary to find “copy,” or when sharp-drawn characters and picturesque incidents are needed to stimulate an inert public, ever open to be interested in some new thing. But he is a poor contributor to the stored materials of science.

It is of other stuff that true science is made. And if even years of nominal intercourse and spatial juxtaposition sometimes leave human beings, as regards their inner selves, in the position of strangers still, what shall be said of the attempt to discern the psychic life of animals? Will the touch of curiosity which prompts us to watch the proceedings of the strange creatures,—will a course of experimentation on their behaviour under artificial conditions,—justify us in drawing liberal conclusions as to why they so behaved, and what they thought and felt about it? It is necessary in the first place to know what to observe, and how, and above all what for. But that presumed, we must further live with the animals not only as their masters and their examiners, but as their friends and fellow-creatures; we must be able—and so lightly that no effort is discernable—to lay aside the burden and garb of civilisation; we must possess that stamp of sympathy and similarity which invites confidence, and breaks down the reserve which our poor relations, whether human or others, offer to the first approaches of a strange superior. It is probable that in that case we should have less occasion to wonder at their oddities or to admire their sagacity. But a higher and more philosophical wonder might, as in other cases when we get inside the heart of our subject, take the place of the cheap and childish love of marvels, or of the vulgar straining after comic traits.

Of all this mass of materials the psychologist proper can directly make only a sparing use. Even as illustrations, his data must not be presented too often in all their crude and undigested individuality, or he runs the risk of leaving one-sided impressions. Every single instance, individualised and historical,—unless it be exhibited by that true art of genius which we cannot expect in the average psychologist—narrows, even though it be but slightly, the complete and all-sided truth. Anecdotes are good, and to the wise they convey a world of meaning, but to lesser minds they sometimes suggest anything but the points they should accentuate. Without the detail of individual realistic study there is no psychology worth the name. History, story, we must have: but at the same time, with the philosopher, we must say, I don’t give much weight to stories. And this is what will always—except in rare instances where something like genius is conjoined with it—make esoteric science hard and unpopular. It dare not—if it is true to its idea—rest on any amount of mere instances, as isolated, unreduced facts. Yet it can only have real power so far as it concentrates into itself the life-blood of many instances, and indeed extracts the pith and unity of all instances.

Nor, on the other hand, can it turn itself too directly and intently towards practical applications. All this theory of mental progress from the animate soul to the fullness of religion and science deals solely with the universal process of education: “the education of humanity” we may call it: the way in which mind is made true and real(46). It is therefore a question of intricacy and of time how to carry over this general theory into the arena of education as artificially directed and planned. To try to do so at a single step would be to repeat the mistake of Plato, if Plato may be taken to suppose (which seems incredible) that a theoretical study of the dialectics of truth and goodness would enable his rulers, without the training of special experience, to undertake the supreme tasks of legislation or administration. All politics, like all education, rests on these principles of the means and conditions of mental growth: but the schooling of concrete life, though it may not develop the faculty of formulating general laws, will often train better for the management of the relative than a mere logical Scholastic in first or absolute principles.

In conclusion, there are one or two points which seem of cardinal importance for the progress of psychology. (1) Its difference from the physical sciences has to be set out: in other words, the peculiarity of psychical fact. It will not do merely to say that experience marks out these boundaries with sufficient clearness. On the contrary, the terms consciousness, feeling, mind, &c., are evidently to many psychologists mere names. In particular, the habits of physical research when introduced into mental study lead to a good deal of what can only be called mythology. (2) There should be a clearer recognition of the problem of the relations of mental unity to mental elements. But to get that, a more thorough logical and metaphysical preparation is needed than is usually supposed necessary. The doctrine of identity and necessity, of universal and individual, has to be faced, however tedious. (3) The distinction between first-grade and second-grade elements and factors in the mental life has to be realised. The mere idea as presentative or immediate has to be kept clear of the more logico-reflective, or normative ideas, which belong to judgment and reasoning. And the number of these grades in mental development seems endless. (4) But, also, a separation is required—were it but temporary—between what may be called principles, and what is detail. At present, in psychology, “principles” is a word almost without meaning. A complete all-explaining system is of course impossible at present and may always be so. Yet if an effort of thought could be concentrated on cardinal issues, and less padding of conventional and traditional detail were foisted in, much might thereby be done to make detailed research fruitful. (5) And finally, perhaps, if psychology be a philosophical study, some hint as to its purpose and problem would be desirable. If it is only an abstract branch of science, of course, no such hint is in place.


Related Resources

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Download Options

Title: Hegel's Philosophy of Mind

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Hegel's Philosophy of Mind

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, "Essay II. Aims And Methods Of Psychology.," Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind (University of Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), Original Sources, accessed June 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H1X6F1UFNNPKEQB.

MLA: Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. "Essay II. Aims And Methods Of Psychology." Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, University of Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894, Original Sources. 4 Jun. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H1X6F1UFNNPKEQB.

Harvard: Hegel, GW 1894, 'Essay II. Aims And Methods Of Psychology.' in Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, Clarendon Press, University of Oxford. Original Sources, retrieved 4 June 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H1X6F1UFNNPKEQB.