Classical Texts in Psychology
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Outlines of Psychology
Wilhelm Max Wundt (1897)
III. INTERCONNECTION OF PSYCHICAL COMPOUNDS.
§ 15. CONSCIOUSNESS AND ATTENTION
1. Every psychical compound is composed of a number of psychical elements which do not usually all begin or end at exactly the same moment. As a result, the interconnection which unites the elements to a single whole always reaches beyond the individual compounds, so that different simultaneous and successive compounds are united, though indeed somewhat more loosely. We call this interconnection of psychical compounds conscious.
Consciousness, accordingly, does not mean anything that exists apart from psychical processes, nor does it refer merely to the sum of these processes without reference to how they are related to one another. It expresses the general synthesis of psychical processes, in which the single compounds are marked off as more intimate combinations. A state in which this interconnection is interrupted, as deep sleep or a faint, is called an unconscious state; and we speak of "disturbances of consciousness" when abnormal changes in the combination of psychical compounds arise, even though these compounds themselves show no changes whatever.
Consciousness in this sense, as a comprehensive interconnection of simultaneous and successive psychical processes, shows itself in experience first of all in the psychical life of [p. 204] the individual as individual consciousness. But we have analogous interconnection in the combination of individuals, although it is limited to certain sides of mental life, so that we may further include under the more general concept consciousness the concepts of collective consciousness, of social consciousness, etc. For all these broader forms, however, the foundation is the individual consciousness, and it is to this that we will first turn our attention. (For collective consciousness see § 21, 14.)
Individual consciousness stands under the same external conditions as psychical phenomena in general, for which it is, indeed, merely another expression, referring more particularly to the mutual relations of the components of these phenomena to one another. As the substratum for the manifestations of an individual consciousness we have in every case an individual animal organism. In the case of men and similar higher animals the cerebral cortex, in the cells and fibres of which all the organs that stand in relation to psychical processes are represented, appears as the immediate organ of this consciousness. The complete interconnection of the cortical elements may be looked upon as the physiological correlate of the interconnection of psychical processes in consciousness, and the differentiation in the functions of different cortical regions as the physiological correlate of the great variety of single conscious processes. The differentiation of functions in the central organ is, indeed, always merely relative; every psychical compound requires the cooperation of numerous elements and many central regions. When the destruction of certain cortical regions produces definite disturbances in voluntary movements, or in sensations, or when it interferes which the formation of certain classes of ideas, it is perfectly justifiable to conclude that this region furnishes certain links in the chain of psychical [p. 205] elements that are indispensable for the processes in question. The assumptions often made on the basis of these phenomena, that there is in the brain a special organ for the faculties of speech and writing, or that visual, tonal, and verbal ideas are stored in special cortical cells, are not only the results of the grossest physiological misconceptions, but they are absolutely irreconcilable with the psychological analysis of these functions. Psychologically regarded, these assumptions are nothing but modern revivals of that most unfortunate form of faculty-psychology known as phrenology.
2a. The facts that have been discovered in regard to the localization of certain psycho-physical functions in the cortex, are derived partly from pathological and anatomical observations on men and partly from experiments on animals. They may be summed up as follows: 1) Certain cortical regions correspond to certain peripheral sensory and muscular regions. Thus, the cortex of the occipital lobe is connected with the retina, a part of the parietal lobe with the tactual surface, and a part of the temporal with the auditory organ. The central ganglia of special groups of muscles generally lie directly next to or between the sensory centres functionally related to them. 2) Certain complex disturbances have been demonstrated when certain cortical regions which are not directly connected with peripheral organs, but are inserted between other central regions, fail to carry out their functions. The only relation of this kind which has been proved with certainty, is that of a certain region of the temporal lobe to the functions of speech. The front part of this region is connected in particular with the articulation of words (its disturbance results in interference with motor coordination, so-called "ataxic aphasic"), the part further back is connected with the formation of word-ideas (its disturbance hinders sensorial coordination and produces in this way the so-called "amnesic aphasia"). It is also observed that these functions are as a rule confined entirely to the left temporal lobe and that generally apoplectic disturbances in the right lobe do not interfere with speech, while those in the left lobe do. Furthermore, in all these cases, in both simple and complex disturbances, there [p. 206] is usually a gradual restoration of the functions in the course of time. This is probably effected by the vicarious functioning of some, generally a neighboring cortical region in place of that which is disturbed (in disturbances of speech, perhaps it is the opposite, before untrained, side that comes into play). Localization of other complex psychical functions, such as processes of memory and association, has not yet been demonstrated with certainty. The name "psychical centres", applied to certain cortical regions by many anatomists, is for the present at least based exclusively either on the very questionable interpretation of experiments on animals, or else on the mere anatomical fact that no motor or sensory fibres running directly to these regions can be found, and that their connective fibres in general are developed relatively late. The cortex of the frontal brain is such a region. In the human brain it is noticeable for its large development. It has been observed in many cases that disturbances of this part of the brain soon result in marked inability to concentrate the attention or in other intellectual defects which are possibly reduceable to this; and from these observations the hypothesis has been made that this region is to be regarded as the seat of the function of apperception which will be discussed later (4), and of all those components of psychical experience in which as in the feelings, the unitary interconnection of mental life finds its expression (comp. p. 89). This hypothesis requires, however, a firmer empirical foundation than it has at present. It is to be noted that those cases where, in contrast with the first ones, mentioned, a partial injury of the frontal lobe is sustained without any noticeable disturbance of intelligence, are by no means proofs against this hypothesis. There is much evidence to show that just here, in the higher centres, local injuries may occur without any apparent results. This is probably due to the great complexity of the connections and to the various ways in which the different elements can, therefore, take the place of one another. The expression "centre" in all these cases is, of course, employed in the sense that is justified by the general relation of psychical to physical functions, that is, in the sense of a parallelism between the two classes of elementary processes, the one regarded from the point of view of the natural sciences, the other from that of psychology (comp. § 1, 2 and § 22, 9). [p. 207]
3. The interconnection of psychical processes, which constitutes what we understand under the concept consciousness, is in part a simultaneous, in part a successive interconnection. The sum of all the processes present at a given moment is always a unitary whole whose parts are more or less closely united. This is the simultaneous interconnection. A present state is derived directly from that immediately preceding either through the disappearance of certain processes while others change their course and still others begin, or, when a state of unconsciousness intervenes, the new processes are brought into relation with those that were present before. These are successive interconnections. In all these cases the scope of the single combinations between preceding and following processes determines the state of consciousness. Consciousness gives place to unconsciousness when this interconnection is completely interrupted, and it is more incomplete the looser the connection of the processes of the moment with those preceding, Thus, after a period of unconsciousness the normal state of consciousness is generally only slowly recovered through a gradual reestablishment of relations with earlier experiences.
So we come to distinguish grades of consciousness. The lower limit, or zero grade, is unconsciousness. This condition, which consists in an absolute absence of all psychical interconnections, is essentially different from the disappearance of single psychical contents from consciousness. The latter is continually taking place in the flow of mental processes. Complex ideas and feelings and even single elements of these compounds may disappear, and new ones take their places. This continuous appearance and disappearance of elementary and composite processes in consciousness is what makes up its successive interconnection. Without this change, such an interconnection would, of course, be impossible. Any psychical element that has disappeared from consciousness, is to be [p. 208] called unconscious in the sense that we assume the possibility of its renewal, that in its reappearance in the actual interconnection of psychical processes. Our knowledge of an element that has become unconscious does not extend beyond this possibility of its renewal. For psychology, therefore, it has no meaning except as a disposition for the rise of future components of psychical processes which are connected with others before present. Assumptions as to the state of the "unconscious" or as to "unconscious processes" of any kind which are thought of as existing along with the conscious processes of experience, are entirely unproductive for psychology. There are, of course, physical concomitants of the psychical dispositions mentioned, of which some can be directly demonstrated, some inferred from various experiences. These physical concomitants are the effects which practice produces on all organs, especially those of the nervous system. As a universal result of practice we observe a facilitation of action which renders a repetition of the process easier. To be sure, we do not know any details in regard to the changes that are effected in the structure of the nervous elements through practice, but we can represent them to ourselves through very natural analogies with mechanical processes, such, for example, as the reduction of friction resulting from the rubbing of two surfaces against each other.
It was noted in the case of temporal ideas, that the member of a series of successive ideas which is immediately, present in our perception, has the most favorable position. Similarly in the simultaneous interconnection of consciousness, for example in a compound clang or in a series of new objects, certain single components are favored above the others. In both cases we designate the differences in perception as differences in cleanness and distinctness. Clearness, is the, relatively favorable comprehension of the object in itself [p. 209] distinctness the sharp discrimination from other objects, which is generally connected with clearness. The state which accompanies the clear grasp of any psychical. content and is characterized by a special feeling, we call attention. The process through which any such content is brought to clear comprehension we call apperception. In contrast with this, perception which is not accompanied by a state of attention, we designate apprehension. Those contents of consciousness upon which the attention is concentrated are spoken of, after the analogy of the external optical fixation point, as the fixation-point of consciousness, or the inner fixation-point. On the other hand, the whole content of consciousness at any given moment is called the field of conscious. When a psychical process passes into an unconscious state we speak of its sinking below the threshold of consciousness and when such a process arises we say it appears above the threshold of consciousness. These are all figurative expressions and must not be understood literally. They are useful, however, because of the brevity and clearness they permit in the description of conscious processes.
5. If we try to describe the train of psychical compounds in their interconnection with the aid of these figurative expressions, we may say that it is made up of a continual coming and going. At first some compound comes into the field of consciousness and then advances into the inner fixation-point, from which it returns to the field of consciousness before disappearing entirely. Besides this train of psychical compounds which are apperceived, there is also a coming and going of others which are merely apprehended, that is, enter the field of consciousness and pass out again without reaching the inner fixation-point. Both the apperceived and the apprehended compounds may have different grades of clearness. In the case of the first class this appears in [p. 210] the fact that the clearness and distinctness of apperception in general is variable according to the state of consciousness. To illustrate: it can easily be shown that when one and the same impression is apperceived several times in succession if the other conditions remain the same, the successive apperceptions are usually clearer and more distinct. The, different degrees of clearness in the case of compounds that, merely apprehended, may be observed most easily when the impressions are composite. It is then found, especially when the impressions last but an instant, that even here,: where all the components are obscure from the first, that there are still different gradations. Some seem to rise more above the threshold of consciousness, some less.
6. These relations can not be determined through chance introspections, but only by systematic experimental observations. The best kinds of conscious contents to use for such observations are ideas because they can be easily produced at any time through external impressions. Now, in any temporal idea, as already remarked (§ 11, p. 155), those components which belong to the present moment are in the fixation-point of consciousness. Those of the preceding impressions which were present shortly before, are still in the field of consciousness, while those which were present longer before, have appeared from consciousness entirely. A spacial idea, on the, other hand, when it has only a limited extent, may be apperceived at once in its totality. If it is more composite,then its parts too must pass successively through the inner fixation-point if they are to be clearly apprehended. It follows, therefore, that composite spacial ideas (especially momentary visual impressions) are peculiarly well suited to furnish a measure of the amount of content that can be apperceived in a single act, or of the scope of attention; while, composite temporal ideas (for example, rhythmical auditory impressions, [p. 211] hammer-strokes) may be used for measuring the amount of all the contents that can enter into consciousness at a given moment, or the scope of consciousness. Experiments made in this way give, under different conditions, a scope of from 6 to 12 simple impressions for attention and of 16 to 40 such impressions for consciousness. The smaller figures are for those impressions which do not unite at all to ideational combinations, or at most very incompletely, the larger for those in which the elements combine as far as possible to composite ideas.
6 a. The most accurate way of determining the scope of attention is to use spacial impressions of sight, for in such cases it is very easy, by means of an electric spark, or the fall of a screen made with an opening in the centre, to expose the objects for an distant and in such a way that they all lie in the region of clearest vision. This gives us physiological conditions that do not prevent the apperception of a greater number of impressions than it is possible to apperceive because of the limited scope of attention. In these experiments there must be a point for fixation in the middle of the surface on which the impressions lie, before the momentary illumination. Immediately after the experiment, if it is properly arranged, the observer knows that the number of objects which were clearly seen in a physiological sense, is greater than the number included within the scope of attention. When, for example, a momentary impression is made up of letters, it is possible, by calling up a memory-image of the impression, to read afterwards some of the letters that were only indistinctly apprehended at the moment of illumination. This memory-image, however, is clearly distinguished in time from the impression itself, so that the determination of the scope of attention is not disturbed by it. Careful introspection easily succeeds in fixating the state of consciousness at the moment the impression arrives, and in distinguishing this from the subsequent acts of memory, which are always separated from it by a noticeable interval. Experiments made in this way show that the scope of attention is by no means a constant magnitude, but that, even [p. 212] when the concentration of the attention is approximately at its maximum, its scope depends in part on the simplicity or complexity of the impressions, in part on their familiarity. The simplest spacial impressions are arbitrarily distributed points. Of these a maximum of six can be apperceived at one time. When the impressions are somewhat more complex but of a familiar character, such as simple lines, figures, and letters, three or four of them are generally apperceived simultaneously, or, under favorable conditions, even five. The figures just given hold for vision; for touch the same limits seem to hold only in the case of points. Six such simple impressions can, under favorable conditions, be apperceived in the same instant. When the impressions are familiar but complex, even for vision, the number of ideas decreases, while that of the single elements increases very markedly. Thus, we can apperceive two or even three familiar monosyllabic words, which contain in all ten or twelve single letters. Under any circumstances, then, the assertion often made, that the attention can be concentrated on only one idea at a time, is false.
Then, too, these observations overthrow the assumption sometimes accepted, that the attention can sweep continuously and with great rapidity over a great number of single ideas. In the experiment described, if the attempt is made to fill up from memory the image which is clearly perceived an instant after the impression, a very noticeable interval is required to bring into clear consciousness an impression that was not apperceived at first; and in the process the first image always disappears from attention. The successive movement of attention over a number of objects is, accordingly, a discontinuous process, made up of a number of separate acts of apperception following one another. This discontinuity is due to the fact that every single apperception is made up of a period of increasing followed of by a period decreasing strain. The period of maximal tension between the two, may vary considerably in its duration. In the case of momentary, and rapidly changing impressions, it is very brief; when, on the other hand, we concentrate on particular objects, it is longer. But, even when the attention is thus concentrated on objects of a constant character, a periodic interruption, due to the alternating relaxation and renewed concentration, always appears. This may be [p. 213] easily observed, even in the ordinary action of attention. But here, too, we gain more detailed information through experiments. If we allow a weak, continuous impression to act on a sense-organ and remove so far as possible all other stimuli, it will be observed when the attention is concentrated upon it that at certain, generally irregular, intervals the impression becomes for a short time indistinct, or even appears. to fade out entirely, only to appear again the next moment. This wavering begins, when the impressions are very weak, after 3-6"; when they are somewhat stronger, after 18-24". These variations are readily distinguished from changes in the intensity of the impression itself, as may be easily demonstrated when, in the course of the experiment, the stimulus is purposely weakened or interrupted. There are essentially two characteristics that distinguish the subjective variations from those due to the changes in the stimulus. First, so long as the impression merely passes back and forth from the obscure field of consciousness to the inner fixation-point, there is always an idea of its continuance, just as there was in the experiments with momentary impressions an indefinite and obscure idea of the components which were not apperceived. Secondly, the oscillations of attention are attended by characteristic feelings and sensations which are entirely absent when the changes are objective. The characteristic feelings are those of expectation and activity, which regularly increase with the concentration of attention and decrease with its relaxation. These will be discussed more fully later. The sensations come from the sense-organ affected, or at least emanate indirectly from it. They consist in sensations of tension in the tympanum, or in those of accommodation and convergence, etc. These two series of characteristics distinguish the concepts of the clearness and distinctness of psychical contents from that of the intensity of their sensational elements. A strong impression may be obscure and a weak one clear. The only causal relation between these two different concepts is to be found in the fact that in general the stronger impressions force themselves more upon the apperception. Whether or not they are really more clearly apperceived, depends on the other conditions present at the moment. The same is true of the advantages which those parts of a visual impression have that fall within the region of clearest vision. As a rule, the fixated [p. 214] objects are also the ones apperceived. But, in the experiments with momentary impressions described above, it can be shown that this interconnection may be broken up. This happens when we voluntarily concentrate our attention on a point in the eccentric regions of the field of vision. The object which is obscurely seen then becomes the one which is clearly ideated.
6b. In the same way that momentary spacial impressions are used to determine the scope of attention, we may use those which succeed one another in time, as a measure for the scope of consciousness. In this case we start with the assumption that a series of impressions can be united in a single unitary idea only when they are all together in consciousness, at least for one moment. If we listen to a series of hammer-strokes, it is obvious that while the present sound is apperceived, those immediately preceding it are still in the field of consciousness. Their clearness diminishes, however, just in proportion to their distance in time from the apperceived impression, and those lying beyond a certain limit disappear from consciousness entirely. If we can determine this limit, we shall have a direct measure for the scope of consciousness under the special conditions given in the experiment. As a means for the determination of this limit we may use the ability to compare temporal ideas that follow one another immediately. So long as such an idea is present in consciousness as a single unitary whole, we can compare a succeeding idea with it and decide whether the two are alike or not. On the other hand, such a comparison is absolutely impossible when the preceding temporal series is not a unitary whole for consciousness, that is, when a part of its constituents have passed into unconsciousness before the end is reached. If, then, we present two series of strokes, such as can be produced, for example, by a metronome, one immediately after the other, marking of each series by a signal at its beginning, as, for example, with a bell stroke, we can judge directly from the impression, so long as they can be grasped as single units in consciousness, whether the, two series are alike or not. Of course, in such experiments counting of the strokes must be strictly avoided. judgments it may be noticed that the impression produced by the affective elements of the temporal before (p. 156). Every stroke in the second series is preceded [p. 215] by a feeling of expectation corresponding to the analogous stroke of the first series, so that every stroke too many or too few produces a feeling of disappointment attending the disturbance of the expectation. It follows that it is not necessary for the two successive series to be present in consciousness at the same time in order that they may be compared; but what is required is the union of all the impressions of one series together in a single unitary idea. The relatively fixed boundary of the scope of consciousness is clearly shown in the fact that the likeness of two temporal ideas is always recognized with certainty so long as they do not pass the bound that holds for the conditions under which they are given, while the judgement becomes absolutely uncertain when this limit is once crossed. The extent of the scope of consciousness as found in measurements made when the conditions of attention remain the same, depends partly on the rate of the successive impressions and partly on their more or less complete rhythmical combination. When the rate of succession is slower than about 4", it becomes impossible to combine sucessive impressions to a temporal idea; by the time a new impression arrives, the preceding one has already disappeared from consciousness. When the rate passes the upper limit of about 0.18", the formation of distinctly defined temporal ideas is impossible because the attention can not follow the impressions any longer. The most favorable rate is a succession of strokes every 0.2-0.3". With this rate, and with the simplest rhythm, which generally arises of itself when the perception is uninfluenced by any special objective conditions, the 2/8-time 8 double or 16 single impressions can be just grasped together. The best measure for the apprehension of the greatest possible number of single impressions is the 4/4 measure with the strong accent on the first stroke and the medium accent on the fifth. In this case a maximum of five feet or forty single impressions can be grasped at once. If these figures are compared with those obtained when the scope of attention was measured, putting simple and compound temporal impressions equal to the corresponding spacial impressions, we find that the scope of consciousness is about four times as great as that of attention. [p. 216]
7. Besides the properties of clearness and distinctness, which belong to conscious contents in themselves or in their, mutual relations to one another, there are regularly others which are immediately recognized as accompanying processes. These are partly affective processes that are characteristic for particular forms of apprehension and apperception, partly, sensations of a somewhat variable character. Especially the ways in which psychical contents enter the field and fixation-point of consciousness vary according to the different conditions under which this entrance may take place. When any psychical process rises above the threshold of consciousness, the affective elements, as soon as they are strong enough, are what first become noticeable. They begin to force themselves energetically into the fixation-point of consciousness before anything is perceived of the ideational elements. This is the case whether the impressions are new or revivals of earlier processes. This is what causes the peculiar states of mind which we are not exactly able to account for, some-times of a pleasurable or unpleasurable character, sometimes predominantly states of strained expectation. In this last case the sudden entrance of the ideational elements belonging to the feelings, into the scope of the attention, is accompanied by feelings of relief or satisfaction. When we are trying to recall something that has been forgotten, the same affective state may arise. Often there is vividly present in such a case, besides the regular feeling of strain, the special affective tone of the forgotten idea, although the idea itself still remains in the background of consciousness. In a similar manner, as we shall see later (§ 16), the clear apperception of ideas in acts of cognition and recognition is always preceded by special feelings. Similar affective states may be produced experimentally by the momentary illumination of a field of vision in which there are impressions of the strongest [p. 217] possible affective tone in the region of indirect vision. All these experiences seem to show that every content of consciousness has some influence on attention. It shows this regularly in its own affective coloring, partly in the feelings regularly connected with acts of attention. The whole effect of these obscure contents of consciousness on the attention fuses, according to the general law of the synthesis of affective components (p. 159), with the feelings attending the apperceived contents to form a single total feeling.
8. When psychical content enters the fixation point of consciousness, new and peculiar affective processes are added to those that have been described. These new feelings may be of a variety of kinds, according to the different conditions attending this entrance into the fixation-point. The conditions are of two classes, and are interconnected for the most part with the above described preparatory affective influences of the content not yet apperceived.
First, the new content forces itself on the attention suddenly and without preparatory affective influences; this we call passage apperception. While the content of consciousness is becoming clearer both in its ideational and affective elements, there is first of all a concomitant feeling of passive receptivity, which is a depressing feeling, and generally stronger the more intense the psychical processes, and the more rapid its rise. This feeling soon sinks and then gives place to an antagonistic, exciting feeling of activity. There are connected with both these feelings characteristic sensations in the muscles of the sense-organ from which the ideational components of the process proceed. The feeling of receptivity is generally accompanied by a transient sensation Of relaxation, that of activity by a succeeding sensation of strain.
Secondly, the new content is preceded by the preparatory [p. 218] affective influences mentioned above (7), and as a result the attention is concentrated upon it even before it arrives; this we call active apperception. In such a case the apperception of the content is preceded by a feeling of expectation, sometimes of longer, sometimes of shorter duration. This feeling is generally one of strain and may at the same time be one of excitement; it may also have pleasurable or unpleasurable factors, according to its ideational elements. This feeling of expectation is usually accompanied by fairly intense sensations of tension in the muscles of the sense-organ affected. At the moment in which the content arises in clear consciousness, this feeling gives place to a feeling of fulfillment which is generally very short and always has the character of a feeling of relief. Under circumstances it may also be depressing or exciting, pleasurable or unpleasurable. After this feeling of fulfillment we have at once that of activity -- the same that appeared at the close of passive apperception, and is here, too, united with an increase in feelings of strain.
8a. The experimental observation of the different forms of apperception can be carried out best with the aid of the reaction-experiments described in § 14, 11 sq. Passive apperception may be studied by the use of unexpected, and active by the use of expected impressions. At the same time it will be observed that between these typical differences there are intermediate stages. Either the passive form will approach the active because of the weakness of the first stage, or the active will approach the passive form because in the sudden relaxation of the expectation the contrast between the expectation and the relief and depression which come in the succeeding feeling of fulfillment, is more marked than usual. In reality we have everywhere continuously interconnected processes which are opposite character only in extreme cases.
9. If the affective side of these processes of attention axe more closely examined, it is obvious that they are exactly the same as the affective content of all volitional processes. [p. 219]
At the same time it is clear that in its essential character passive apperception corresponds to a simple impulsive act, while the active form corresponds to a complex voluntary act. In the first case we may evidently regard the psychical content that forces itself upon attention without preparation, as the single motive which, without any conflict with other motives, gives rise to the act of apperception. The act is here too connected with the feeling of activity characteristic of all volitional acts. In the case of active apperception, on the other hand, other psychical contents with their affective elements tend to force themselves upon the attention during the preparatory affective stages, so that the act of apperception when it finally is performed is often recognized as a voluntary process or even as a selective process when the conflict between different contents comes clearly into consciousness. The existence of such selective acts under the circumstances mentioned was recognized even in older psychology where "voluntary attention" was spoken of. But here too, as in the case of external volitional acts, will stood alone; there was no explanation of it by its antecedents, for the central point in the development, namely, the fact that so-called involuntary attention is only a simpler form of internal volition, was entirely overlooked. Then, too, in full accord with the methods of the old faculty-theory "attention" and "will" were regarded as different, sometimes as related, sometimes as mutually excluding psychical forces, while the truth evidently is that these two concepts refer to the same class of psychical processes. The only difference is that processes of apperception and attention are those which occur only as so-called internal acts, that is, have no external effects except indirectly when they lead to other processes.
10. Connected with these internal volitional acts, which we call processes of attention, there takes place a formation [p. 220] of certain concepts of the highest importance for all psychical, development. This is the formation of the concept subject and the correlate presupposition of objects as independent realities standing over against the subject. This can be carried out in its logical form only with the aid of scientific reflection, still it has its substratum in the processes of attention.
Even in immediate experience there is a division between components of this experience. On the one hand are those which are arranged in space with relation to the point of orientation mentioned above (p. 131), and are called either objects, that is, something outside the perceiving subject, or, when we attend to the mode of their rise in consciousness, ideas, that is something which the subject perceives. On the other hand, there are those contents of experience which do not belong to this spacial order, though they are continually brought into relation with it through their quality and intensity. These latter contents, as we saw in § 12-14, are intimately interconnected. Feelings are parts of emotions and emotions are to be considered as components of volitional processes. The process, may end before it is fully completed, as often when a feeling gives rise to no noticeable emotion, or when an emotion fades out without really causing the volitional act for which prepared the way. All these affective processes may, accordingly, be subsumed under the general concept volitional process. This is the complete process of which the two others are merely components of simpler or more complex character. From this point of view we can easily understand how it is that even simple feelings contain, in the extremes be they vary, a volitional direction; and express, in the same way the amount of volitional energy present at a given moment; and finally, correspond to certain particular phases of the volitional process itself. The direction of volition is obviously indicated by the pleasurable or unpleasurable directions of [p. 221] feelings, which correspond directly to some sort of effort to reach something or to avoid it. The energy of volition finds its expression in the arousing and subduing directions of feelings, while the opposite phases of a volitional process are related to the directions of strain and relaxation.
11. Thus, volition proves to be the fundamental fact from which all those processes arise which are made up of feelings. Then, too, in the process of apperception, which is found through psychological analysis to have all the characteristics of a volitional act, we have a direct relation between this fundamental fact and the ideational contents of experience which arise from the spacial arrangement of sensations. Now, volitional processes are apprehended as unitary processes and as being uniform in character in the midst of all the variations in their components. As a result there arises an immediate feeling of this unitary interconnection, which is most intimately connected with the feeling of activity that accompanies all volition, and then is carried over to all conscious contents because of their relation to will, as mentioned above. This feeling of the interconnection of all single psychical experiences is called the "ego". It is a feeling, not an idea as it is often called. Like all feelings, however, it is connected with certain sensations and ideas. The ideational components most closely related to the ego are the common sensations and the idea of one's own body.
That part of the affective and ideational contents which separates off from the totality of consciousness and fuses closely with the feeling of the ego, is called self-consciousness. It is no more a reality, apart from the processes of which it is made up, than is consciousness in general, but merely Points out the interconnection of these processes, which furthermore, especially in their ideational components, can never be sharply distinguished from the rest of consciousness. This [p. 222] shows itself most of all in the fact that the idea of one's own body sometimes fuses with the feeling of the ego, sometimes is distinct from it as the idea of an object, and that in general self-consciousness in its development always tends to reduce itself to its affective basis.
12.This separation of self-consciousness from the other contents of consciousness also gives rise to the discrimination of subject and objects. This discrimination was prepared for, to be sure, by the characteristic differences among the original contents of consciousness, but is fully carried out only as a consequence of this separation. The concept subject has accordingly as a result of its psychological development three different meanings of different scope, each of which may at different times be the one employed. In its narrowest sense the subject is the interconnection of volitional processes which finds expression in the feeling of the ego. In the next wider sense it includes the real content of these volitional processes together with the feelings and emotions that prepare their way. Finally, in its widest significance it embraces the constant ideational substratum of these subjective processes, that is, the body of the individual as the seat of the common sensations. In the line of development the widest significance is the oldest, and in actual psychical experience the narrowest is continually giving way to a return of one of the others because it can be fully attained only through conceptual abstraction. This highest form is, then, in reality merely a kind of limits towards which the self-consciousness may approach more or less closely.
12a. This discrimination of subject and
objects, or the ego and the outer world as it is commonly
expressed by reducing first concept to its original affective substratum
and the second together in a general concept -- this discrimination of
all the considerations responsible for the dualism [p. 223] which first
gained currency in the popular view of things and was then carried over
into the philosophical systems. It is on this ground that psychology comes
to be set over against the other sciences, in particular the natural sciences,
as a science of the subject (§ 1, 3a.) This view could be right only
under the conditions that the discrimination of the ego from the outer
world were a fact preceding all experience and that the concepts subject
and objects could be unequivocally distinguished once for all. But neither
of these conditions is fulfilled. Self-consciousness depends on a whole
series of psychical processes of which it is the product, not the producer.
Subject and object are, therefore, neither originally nor in later development
absolutely different contents of experience, but they are concepts which
are due to the reflection resulting from the interrelations of the various
components of the absolutely unitary content of our immediate experience.
13. The interconnection of psychical processes
which makes up consciousness, necessarily has its deepest spring in the
of combination which are continually taking place between the elements
of the single contents of experience. Such processes are operative in the
formation of single psychical compounds and they are what give rise to
the simultaneous unity of the state of consciousness present at a given
moment and also to the continuity of successive states. These processes
of combination are of the most various kinds; each one has its individual
coloring, which is never exactly reproduced in any second case. Still,
the most general differences are those exhibited by the attention in the
passive reception of impressions and the active apperception of the same.
As short names for these differences we use the term
indicate a process of combination in a passive state of attention, and
combination to indicate a combination in which the attention is active.