Classical Texts in Psychology
(Return to index)
Outlines of Psychology
Wilhelm Max Wundt (1897)
III. INTERCONNECTION OF PSYCHICAL COMPOUNDS.
§ 16. ASSOCIATIONS.
1. The concept association has undergone, in the development of psychology, a necessary and very radical change in meaning. To be sure, this change has not been accepted everywhere, and the original meaning is still retained, especially by those psychologists who support, even today, the fundamental positions on which the association-psychologygrew up (§ 2, p. 13 sq.). This psychology is predominantly intellectualistic, pays attention to nothing but the ideational contents of consciousness and, according limits the concept of association to the combinations of ideas. Hartley and Hume, the two founders of association-psychology, spoke of "association of ideas" in this limited sense.  Ideas were regarded as objects, or at least as processes that could be repeated in consciousness with exactly same character as that in which they were present at first (p. 13, 8). This led to the view that association was a principle for the explanation of the so-called "reproduction" of ideas. Furthermore, it was not considered necessary to account for the rise of composite ideas with the aid of psychological analysis, since it was assumed that the physical union of impressions in sense-perception was sufficient to explain the psychological composition and so the concept of association was limited to those forms of so-called reproduction in which the associated ideas succeed one another in time. For the discrimination of the chief forms of successive associations Aristotle's logical scheme for the memory-processes was accepted, and in accordance with the principle classification by opposites the following forms were discriminated: [p. 225] association by similarity and contrast, and association by simultaneity and succession. These class-concepts gained by a logical dichotomic process were dignified with the name of "law of associations". Modern psychology has generally sought to reduce the number of these laws. Contrast is as a special form of similarity, for only those concepts are associated which belong to the same class; and associations by simultaneity and succession included under contiguity. Contiguity is then regarded as outer association and contrasted with inner association by similarity. Some psychologists believe it possible to reduce two forms to a single, still more fundamental, "law of association" by making association by contiguity a special form of similarity what is still more common, by explaining similarity as a result of association by contiguity. In both cases association is generally brought under the more general idea of practice or habituation.
2. The whole foundation for this kind of theorizing is destroyed by two facts which force themselves irresistibly upon us as soon as we begin to study the matter experimentally. The first of these facts is the general result of the psychological analysis of sense-perceptions, that composite ideas, which association-psychology regards as irreducible psychical units, are in fact the results of synthetic processes which are obviously in close interconnection with the processes commonly called associations. The second fact comes from the experimental investigation of memory-processes. It is found that the reproduction of ideas in the strict sense of a renewal in its unchanged form of an earlier idea, takes place at all, but that what really does happen of memory is the rise of a new idea in consciousness, always differing from the earlier idea to which it is referred, and deriving its elements as a rule from various preceding ideas. [p. 226]
It follows from the first fact that there are elementary processes of association between the components of ideas preceding the associations of composite ideas with one another which the name is generally limited. The second fact proves that ordinary associations can be nothing but complex products of such elementary associations. These can show the utter unjustifiableness of excluding the elementary processes whose products are simultaneous ideas rather than successive, from the concept association. Then, too, there no reason for limiting the concept to ideational processes. The existence of composite feelings, emotions, etc., shows, on the contrary, that affective elements also enter into regular combinations, which may in turn unite with associations of sensational elements to form complex products, as we saw in the rise of temporal ideas (§ 11, p. 156 sq.). The intimate relation between the various orders of combining processes and the necessity of elementary associations as antecedents to all complex combinations, furnishes further support for the observation made on the general mode of the occurrence of conscious processes, that it is never possible to draw a sharp boundary line between the combinations of the elements that compose psychical compounds, and the interconnection of the various psychical compounds, in consciousness (p. 203).
3. It follows that the concept of association can gain a fixed, and in any particular case unequivocal, significance, only association is regarded as an elementary process which never shows itself in the actual psychical processes except in and or less complex form, so that the only way to find out character of elementary association is to subject its complex products to a psychological analysis. The ordinarily so-called associations (the successive associations) are only one, and loosest at that, of all the forms of combination. In contrast with these we have the closer combinations from which the [p. 227] different kinds of psychical compounds arise and to which we apply the general name fusions, because of the closeness of the union (p. 94, sq.). The elementary processes from which the compounds, the intensive, spacial, and temporal ideas, composite feelings, the emotions, and the volitional processes arise, are, accordingly, to be considered as associative processes. For the purpose of practical discrimination, however, it will be well to limit the word "association" to those combining processes which take place between elements of different compounds. This narrower meaning which we give the term in contrast with fusion, is in one respect an approach to the meaning that it had in older psychology for it refers exclusively to the interconnection of compounds in consciousness. It differs from the older concept, however, in two important characteristics. First it is here regarded as an elementary process, or, when we are dealing with complex phenomena, as a product of such elementary processes. Secondly, we recognize, just as in the fusions, simultaneous associations as well as successive. In fact, the former are to be looked upon as the earlier.
A. SIMULTANEOUS ASSOCIATIONS.
4. Simultaneous associations made up of elements from psychical compounds may be divided into two classes: into assimilations, or associations between the elements of like compounds, and complications, or associations elements of unlike compounds. Both may take place, in accordance with our limitation of the concept association, between those compounds only which are themselves simultaneous combinations, that is, between intensive and spacial ideas between composite feelings. [p. 228]
5. Assimilations are a form of association that is continually met with, especially in the case of intensive spacial ideas. It is an essential supplement to the process of formation of ideas by fusion. In the case of composite feelings this form of combination never seems to appear except where we have at the same time an assimilation of ideational elements. It is most clearly demonstrable with certain single components of the product of an assimilation given through external sense-impressions, while others believe to earlier ideas. In such a case the assimilation may be demonstrated by the fact that certain components of ideas which are wanting in the objective impression or are there represented by components other than those actually present in the idea itself, can be shown to arise from ideas. Experience shows that of these reproduced components are those are most favored which are very frequently present. Still, certain single elements of the impression are usually of more importance in determining the association than others are, so thatwhen these dominating elements are altered, as may be the case especially with assimilation of the visual sense, the product of the assimilation undergoes a corresponding change.
6. Among intensive compounds it is especially the auditory ideas which are very often the results of assimilation. They also furnish the most striking examples for the principle of frequency mentioned above. Of all the auditory ideas the most familiar are the readily available ideas of words, for these are attended to more than other sound-impressions. As a result the hearing of words is continually accompanied by assimilations; the sound-impression is incomplete, but is entirely filled out by earlier impressions, so that we do not [p. 229] notice the incompleteness. So it comes that not the correct hearing of words, but the misunderstanding of them, that is, the erroneous filling out of incomplete impressions through incorrect assimilations, is what generally leads us to notice the process. We may find an expression of the same fact in the ease with which any sound whatever, as, for example, the cry of an animal, the noise of water, wind, machinery, etc., can be to sound like words almost at will.
7. In the case of intensive feelings we note the presence of assimilations in the fact that impressions which are accompanied by sense-feelings and elementary aesthetic feelings, very exercise a second direct affective influence for which account only when we recall certain ideas of which we are reminded by the impressions. In such cases the association is usually at first only a form of affective association and only so long as this is true is the assimilation simultaneous. The ideational association which explains thesis, on the contrary, a later process belonging to the forms of successive association. For this reason it is hardly possible, when we have clang-impressions or color-impressions accompanied by particular feelings, or when we have simple spacial ideas, to decide what the immediate affective influence impression of itself is and what is that of the association. As a rule, in such cases the affective process is to be looked upon as the resultant of an immediate and an associative factor which unite to form a single, unitary total feeling in accordance with the general laws of affective fusion (p. 159).
8. Association in the case of spacial ideas is of the most comprehensive character. It is not very noticeable in the sphere of touch when vision is present, on account of the importance of tactual ideas in general and especially for memory. For the blind, on the other hand, it is the means for the rapid orientation in space which is [p. 230] necessary, for example, in the rapid reading of the blind-alphabet. The effects of assimilation are most strikingly evident when several tactual surfaces are concerned, because in such cases its presence is easily betrayed by the illusions which arise in consequence of some disturbance in the usual relation of the sensations. Thus, for example, when we touch a small, ball with the index and middle fingers crossed, we have the idea of two balls. The explanation is obvious. In the ordinary position of the fingers the external impression here given actually corresponds to two balls, and the many perceptions of this kind that have been received before exercise an assimilative action on the new impression.
9. In visual sense-perceptions assimilative processes play a very large part. Here they aid in the formation of ideas of magnitude, distance, and three-dimensional character of visual objects. In this last respect they are essential supplements of immediate binocular motives for projection into depth. Thus, the correlation that exists between the ideas of the distance and magnitude of objects, as, for example, the apparent differing the size of the sun or moon on the horizon and at the zenith, is to be explained as an effect of assimilation. The perspective of drawing and painting also depends on these influences. A picture drawn or painted on a plane surface can appear three-dimensional only on condition that the impression arouses earlier three-dimensional ideas which are always with the new impression. The influence of these assimilation most evident in the case of unshaded drawings that can be either in relief or in intaglio. Observation shows that these differences in appearance are by no means accidental or depend upon the so-called "power of imagination", but that there are always elements in the immediate impression which determine completely the assimilative process. The elements that thus operative are, above all, the sensations arising from the [p. 231] position and movements of the eye. Thus, for example, a design which can be interpreted as either a solid or a hollow prism, is seen alternately in relief and in intaglio according as we fixate in the two cases the parts of the which correspond ordinarily to a solid or to a hollow object. A solid angle represented by three lines in the same appears in relief when the fixation-point is moved along of the lines, starting from the apex, it appears in intaglio when the movement is in the opposite direction, from the of the line towards the apex. In these and all like cases assimilation is determined by the rule that in its movement the fixation-lines of objects the eye always passes from nearer to more distant points.
In other cases the geometric optical illusions (§ 10, 19 and 20) which are due to the laws of ocular movements, produce certain ideas of distance, and these not infrequently eliminate the contradictions brought about in the by the illusions. Thus, to illustrate, an interruptedstraight line appears longer than an equal uninterrupted line (p. 125); as a result we tend to project the first to a greater depth than the latter. Here both lines cover just the same distances on the retina in spite of the fact that their length is perceived as different, because of the different motor energy connected with their estimation. An elimination of this contradiction is effected by means of the different ideas of distance, for when one of two lines whose retinal images are appears longer than the other, it must, under the ordinary conditions of vision, belong to a more distant object. Again, one straight line is intersected at an acute angle by another, the result is an overestimation of the acute angle, sometimes gives rise, when the line is long, to an apparent bending near the point of intersection (p. 125). Here contradiction between the course of the line and the [p. 232] increase in the size of the angle of intersection, is often eliminated by the apparent extension of the line in the third dimension. In all these cases the perspective can be explained only as the assimilative effect of earlier ideas of correspending character.
10. In none of the assimilations discussed is it possible to show that any former idea has acted as a whole the new impression. Generally this is impossible because we must attribute the assimilative influence to a large number of ideas, differing in many respects from one another. Thus, for example, a straight line which intersects a vertical at an acute angle, corresponds to innumerable cases in which an inclination of the line with its accompanying increase of angle appeared as a component of a three-dimensional idea. But all these cases may have been very different in regard to the size of the angle, the length of the lines, and other attending circumstances. We must, accordingly, think of assimilative process as a process in which not a single definite idea or even a definite combination of elements from ideas, but as a rule a great number of such combinations are operative. These need agree only approximately with the new impression in order to affect consciousness.
We may gain some notion of the way in which this effect is produced from the important part that certain elements connected with the impression play in the process, for example, the sensations of ocular position and movements in visual ideas. Obviously it is these immediate sensational elements that serve to pick out from the mass of ideational elements which react upon the impression, certain particular ones that correspond to themselves, then bring these selected factors into a form agreeing with that of the rest of the components of the immediate impression. At the same time it appears that not merely the [p. 233] elements of our memory-images are relatively indefinite and therefore variable, but that even the perception of indefinite impression may vary under special conditions fairly wide limits. In this way the assimilative process starts primarily from elements of the immediate impression, chiefly from particular ones which are of preeminent importance for the formation of the idea, as, for example, the sensations of ocular position and movement in visual ideas. These elements call up certain particular memory-elements corresponding to themselves. These memories then exercise an effect on the immediate impression, and the impression in turn reacts in the same way on the reproduced moments. These separate acts are, like the whole process, not successive, but, at least for our consciousness, simultaneous. For this reason the product of the assimilation is apperceived immediate, unitary idea. The two distinguishing characteristics of assimilation are, accordingly, 1) that it is made up of a series of elementary processes of combination, that is, processes that have to do with the components of ideas, not with the whole ideas themselves, and 2) that the united components modify one another through reciprocal assimilations.
11. On this basis we can explain without difficulty the differences between complex assimilative processes, by the very different parts that the various factors necessary to such a process play in the various concrete cases. In ordinary sense-perceptions the direct elements are so predominant that the reproduced elements are as a rule entirely overlooked, although in reality they are never absent and are often very important for the perception of the objects. These reproduced elements are much more noticeable when the assimilative effect of the directelements is hindered through external or internal influences, such as indistinctness [p. 234] of the impression or affective and emotional excitement. In all cases where the difference between the impression the idea becomes, in this way, so great that it is apparent once on closer examination, we call the product of assimilation an illusion.
The universality of assimilation makes it certain that such processes occur also between reproduced elements, in such a way that any memory-idea which arises in our mind is immediately modified by its interaction with other memory-elements. Still, in such a case we have, of course, no means of demonstration. Al1 that can be established as probable is that even in the case of so-called "pure memory-processes" direct elements in the form of sensations and sense-feearoused by peripheral stimuli, are never entirely absent.reproduced visual images, for example, such elementspresent in the form of sensations of ocular position and movement.
12. Complications, or the combinations between upsychical compounds, are no less regular components of consciousness than are assimilations. Just as there is hardly intensive or extensive idea or composite feeling which imodified in some way through the processes of reciprocal assimilation with memory-elements, so almost every one of these compounds is at the same time connected with other, dissimilar compounds, with which it has some constant relations. In all cases, however, complications are different from assimilations in the fact that the unlikeness of the compamakes the connection looser, however regular it may be, so that when one component is direct and the other reproduced, the latter can be readily distinguished at once. Still, is another reason which makes the product of a complication [p. 235] unitary in spite of the easily recognized difference between its components. This cause is the predominance of one of the compounds, which pushes the other components into the obscurer field of consciousness.
If the complication unites a direct impression with memory-elements of disparate character, the direct impressionassimilations is regularly the predominant component while the reproduced elements sometimes have a notice-able influence only through their affective tone. Thus, when we speak, the auditory word-ideas are the predominant components, and in addition we have as obscure direct motor sensations and reproductions of images of the words. In reading, on the other hand, the visual images come to the front while the rest become weaker. In general it may be said that the existence implication is frequently noticeable only through thecoloring of the total feeling that accompanies thelent idea. This is due to the ability of obscure ideas to have a relatively intense effect on the attention throughbctive tones (p. 216). Thus, for example, theic impression of a rough surface, a dagger-point,arises from a complication of visual and tactuals, and in the last case of auditory impressions ast as a rule such complications are noticeable onlythe feelings they excite.
B. SUCCESSIVE ASSOCIATIONS.
13. Successive association is by no means a process that differs essentially from the two forms of simultaneous association, assimilation and complication. It is, on the contrary, due to the same general causes as these, and differs only in the secondary characteristic that the process of combination, [p. 236] which in the former cases consisted, so far as immediate introspection was concerned, of a single instantaneous act, is here protracted and may therefore be readily divided two acts. The first of these acts corresponds to the appeararof the reproducing elements, the second to the appearance the reproduced elements. Here too, the first act is often introduced by an external sense-impression, whicha rule immediately united with an assimilation. Other reproductive elements which might enter into an assimilation or complication are held back through some inhibitory influence or other -- as, for example, through other assimilations that force themselves earlier on apperception -- and do not begin to exercise an influence until later. In this way have a second act of apperception clearly distinct from first, and differing from it in sensational content the more essentially the more numerous the new elements are added through the retarded assimilation and complication and the more these new elements tend to displace the earlier because of their different character.
14. In the great majority of cases the association formed is limited to two successive ideational or affective processes connected, in the manner described, through assimilations or complications. New sense-impressions or apperceptive combinations (§ 17) may then connect themselves with the second member of the association. Less frequently happens that the same processes which led to the first division of an assimilation or complication into a successive process, may be repeated with the second or even with the third member, so that in this way we have a whole associational series. Still, this takes place generally only under exceptional conditions, especially when the normal course of apperception has been disturbed, as, for example, in the so-called "flight of ideas" of the insane. In normal cases such as serial associations, that is, associations with more than two members, hardly ever appear.
14a. Such serial associations may be produced most easily under the artificial conditions of experimentation, when the effort is purposely made to suppress new sensible impressions and apperceptive combinations. But the process resulting in such cases differs from that described above in that the successive members of the series do not connect, each with its immediate predecessor, but all go back to the first, until a new sense-impression or an idea with an especially strong affective tone furnishes a new starting point for the succeeding associations. The associations-in the "flight of ideas" of the insane generally show the type of returning to certain predominant centres.
a. Sensible Recognition and Cognition.
The way in which the ordinary form of association, made up of two partial processes, may be most clearly observed, is in the simultaneous assimilations and complications of sensible recognition and cognition. The qualification "sensible" is when referring to these associative processes, to indicate, on the one hand, that the first member of the pro-always a sense-impression, and, on the other, to distinguish these from the logical processes of cognition.
The psychologically simplest case of recognition is that an object has been perceived -- for example, seen - only once and is recognized as the same when met a second. If this second perception follows very soon after the first, or if the first was especially emphatic and exciting, the association usually takes place immediately as a simultaneous assimilation. This process differs from other assimilation, which take place in connection with every sense-perception, only in the characteristic accompanying feeling, of familiarity. Such a feeling is never present except when there is some degree of "consciousness" that the [p. 238] impression has already been received before. It is, therefore, evidently one of those feelings which comes from the ideas obscurely present in consciousness. The psychological difference between this and an ordinary simultaneous assimilation must be looked for in the fact that at the moment when, in the apperception of the impression, the assimilation takes place, there arise in the obscure regions of consciousness some components of the original idea which do not enter into the assimilation. Their relation to the elements of the idea that is apperceived finds expression in the feeling of familiarity. The unassimilated components may be elements of the earlier impression that were so different from certain elements of the new that they could not be assimilated, or, and this is especially often the case, they may be complications that were clear before, but now remain unobserved. This influence of complication explains how it is that the name of a visual object, for example the proper names of persons, and often other auditory qualities, such as the tone of voice, are very great helps in the recognition. To serve as such helps, however, they need not necessarily be clear ideas in consciousness. When we, have heard a man's name, the recognition of the man the next time we meet him may be aided by the name without our calling it clearly to mind.
15a. This influence of complications may be demonstrated experimentally. If we take a number of disks that are alike in all other respects, but differ in color from white through various shades of grey to black, and present them to view once, so long as only five, shades are used (white, black, and three shades of grey) each disk can be easily recognized again. But when more shades are used, this is no longer possible. It is very natural to surmise that this fact is related to the existence of five familiar names, white, light grey, grey, dark grey and black. This view is confirmed by the fact that by purposely using a larger number of names more shades (even as many as nine) axe recognized. In [p. 239] such experiments the complication may be clearly observed, but it is not necessarily so, especially for the five ordinary shades. As a rule the name is here thought of after the act of recognition proper is passed.
16. The observations discussed also show what the conditions are under which a recognition may pass from a simultaneous to a successive association. If a certain interval elapses before the elements of the earlier idea which gradually rise in consciousness, can produce a distinct feeling of familiarity, the whole process divides into two acts: into the perception and the recognition. The first is connected with the ordinary simultaneous assimilations only, while in the second the obscure, unassimilated elements of the earlier idea show their influence. The division between the parts is, accordingly, more distinct the greater the difference between the earlier impression and the new one. In such a case, not only is there usually a long period of noticeable inhibition between perception and recognition, but certain additional apperceptive processes, namely the processes of voluntary attention that take place in the state of recollection, also come to the aid of the association. As a special form of this kind of process we have the phenomenon called "mediate recognition". This consists in the recognition of an object, not through its own attributes, but through some accompanying mark or other, which stands in a chance connection with it, as, for example, when a person is recognized because of his companion. Between such a case and a case of immediate recognition there is no essential psychological difference. For even those characteristics that do not belong to the recognized object in itself, still belong to the whole complex of ideational elements that help in the preparation and final carrying out of the association. And yet, as we should naturally expect, the retardation which divides the whole recognition into two ideational processes, [p. 240] and often leads to the cooperation of voluntary recollection generally appears in its most evident form in mediate recognitions.
17. This simple process of recognition which takes place when we meet again an object that has been perceived once before, is a starting point for the development of various other associative processes, both those which like itself stand on the boundary between simultaneous and successive associations, and those in which the retardation in the form of assimilations and complications that leads to the success processes, is still more clearly marked. Thus, the recognition of an object that has often been perceived is easier and, therefore, as a rule an instantaneous process, which is also more like the ordinary assimilation because the feeling of familiarity is much less intense. Sensible cognition differs, generally but little from the recognition of single familiar objects. The logical distinction between the two concepts consist in the fact that recognition means the establishment of individual identity of the newly perceived with a formerly perceived object, while cognition is the subsumption of object under a familiar concept. Still, there is no real logical subsumption in a process of sensible cognition any more there is a fully developed class-concept under which the subsumption could be made. The psychological equivalent of such a subsumption is to be found in this case in the process of relating the impression in question to an indefinitely large number of objects. This presupposes an earlier perception of various objects which agree only in certain particular properties, so that the process of cognition approaches the ordinary assimilation more and more in its psychological character the more familiar the class to which the, perceived object belongs, and the more it agrees with the general characteristics of the class. In equal measure the [p. 241] feelings peculiar to the processes of cognition and recognition decrease and finally disappear entirely, so that when we meet very familiar objects we do not speak of a cognition at all. The process of cognition becomes evident only when the assimilation is hindered in some way, either because the perception of the class of objects in question has become unusual, or because the single object shows some unique characteristics. In such a case the simultaneous association may become successive by the separation of perception and cognition into two successive processes. Just in proportion as this happens, we have a specific feeling of cognition which is indeed related to the feeling of familiarity, but, as a result of the different conditions for the rise of the two, differs from it, especially in its temporal course.
18. Essentially different is the direction along which the simple process of recognition develops, when the hindrances to immediate assimilation which give rise to the transition from simultaneous to successive association are great enough, so that the ideational elements which do not agree with the new perception unite -- either after the recognition has taken place or even when there is no such recognition whatever -- to form a special idea referred directly to an earlier impression. The process that arises under such circumstances is a memory-process and the idea that is perceived is a memory-idea, or memory-image.
18a. Memory-processes were the ones to which association-psychology generally limited the application of the concept association. But, as has been shown, these are associations that take place under especially complicated conditions. An understanding of the genesis of association was thus rendered impossible from [p. 242] the first, and it is easy to see that the doctrine accepted by the associationists is limited essentially to a logical rather than a psychological classification of the different kinds of association that are to be observed in memory-processes. A knowledge of these more complex processes is possible, however, only through a study starting with the simpler associative processes, for the ordinary simultaneous assimilations and simultaneous and successive recognitions present themselves very naturally as the antecedents of memory-associations. But even simultaneous recognition itself is nothing but an assimilation accompanied by a feeling which comes from the unassimilated ideational elements obscurely present in consciousness. In the second process these unassimilated elements serve to retard the process, so that the recognition develops into the primitive form of successive association. The impression is at first assimilated in the ordinary way, and then again in a second act with an accompanying feeling of recognition which serves to indicate the greater influence of certain reproduced elements. In this simple form of successive association the two successive ideas are referred to one and the same object, the only difference being that each time some different ideational and affective elements are apperceived. With memory-associations the case is essentially different. Here the heterogeneous elements of the earlier impressions predominate, and the first assimilation of the impression is followed by the formation of an idea made up of elements of the impression and also of those belonging, to earlier impressions, that are suitable for the assimilation because of certain of their components. The more the heterogeneous elements predominate, the more is the second idea different from the first, or, on the other hand, the more the like elements predominate, the more the two ideas will be alike. In any case the second idea is always a reproduced idea and distinct from the new impression as an independent compound.
19. The general conditions for the rise of memory-images may exhibit shades and differences which run parallel to the forms of recognition and cognition discussed above. Various modifications of the memory-processes may. arise from the different kinds of ordinary assimilation that we become [p. 243] acquainted with above (15, 1 7), as the recognition of an object perceived once and that of an object familiar through frequent perceptions, and also from the cognition of a subject that is familiar in its general class-characteristics.
Simple recognition becomes a memory-process when the immediate assimilation of the impression is hindered by elements that belong not to the object itself, but to circumstances that attended its earlier perception. Just because the former perception occurred only once, or at least only once so far as the reproduction is concerned, these accompanying elements may be relatively clear and distinct and sharply distinguished from the surroundings of the new impression. In this way we have first of all transitional forms between recognition and remembering: the object is recognized, and at the same time referred to a particular earlier sense perception whose accompanying circumstances add a definite spacial and temporal relation to the memory-image. The memory-process is especially predominant in those cases where the element of the new impression that gave rise to the assimilation is entirely suppressed by the other components of the image, so that the associative relation between the memory-idea and the impression may remain completely unnoticed
19a. Such cases have been spoken of as "mediate memories", or "mediate associations". Still, just as with "mediate recognitions" we are, here too, dealing with processes that are fundamentally the same as ordinary associations. Take, for example, the case of a person who, sitting in his room at evening, suddenly remembers without any apparent reason a landscape that he passed through many years before; examination shows that there happened to be in the room a fragrant flower which he saw for the first time in that landscape. The difference between this and an ordinary memory-process in which the connection of the new impression with an earlier experience is clearly recognized, obviously consists in the fact that here the elements which recall the idea [p. 244] are pushed into the obscure background of consciousness other ideational elements. The not infrequent experience, commonly known as the "spontaneous rise" of ideas, in memory-image suddenly appears in our mind without any cause, is in all probability reducible in every case to such latent associations.
20. Memory-processes that develop from recognitions which have been often repeated and from cognitions, are in consequence of the greater complexity of their conditions, different from those connected with the recognition of objects perceived but once. When we perceive an object that is familiar either in its own individual characteristics or in those of its class, the range of possible associations is incomparably greater, and the way in which the memory-processes shall arise from a particular impression depend less on the single experiences that give rise to the association, than it does on the general disposition and momentary mood of consciousness and especially on the interference of certain active apperceptive processes and the intellectual feelings and emotions that are connected with them. When the conditions are so various, it is easy to see that as a general thing it is impossible, to calculate beforehand what the association will be. As soon as the act of memory is ended, however, the traces of its associative origin seldom escape careful examination, so that we are justified in regarding association as the universal and, only cause of memory-processes under all circumstances.
21. In thus deriving memory from association, it is not to be forgotten that every concrete memory-process is by no means a simple process, but is made up of a large number of elementary processes, as is apparent from the fact that it produced by a psychological development of its simple antecedents, namely, the simultaneous assassinations. The most important of these elementary processes is the assimilative [p. 245] interaction between some external impression and the elements of an earlier psychical compound, or between a memory-image already present and such elements. Connected with this there are two other processes that are characteristic for memory processes: one is the hindrance of the assimilation by unlike elements, the other the assassinations and complications connected with these elements and giving rise to a psychical compound which differs from the first impression and is referred more or less definitely to some previous experience, especially through its complications. This reference to the earlier experience shows itself through a characteristic feeling, the feeling of remembering, which is related to the feeling of familiarity, but is in its temporal genesis characteristically different, probably in consequence of the greater number of obscure complications that accompany the appearance of the memory-image.
If we try to find the elementary processes to which both memory-processes and all complex associations are reducible, we shall find two kinds, combinations from identity and from contiguity. In general the first class is predominant when the process is more like an ordinary assimilation and recognition, while the second appears more prominently the more the processes approach mediate memory in character, that is, the more they take on the semblance of spontaneous ideas.
21 a. It is obvious that the usual classification, which makes all memory-processes associations by either similarity or contiguity, is entirely unsuitable if we attempt to apply it to the modes of psychological genesis that these processes manifest. On the other bland, it is too general and indefinite if we try to classify the processes logically according to their products, without reference to their genesis. In the latter case the various relations of subordination, superordination, and coordination, of cause and end, of temporal succession and existence, and the various kinds of spacial connection, find only inadequate expression in the very [p. 246] general concepts "similarity" and "contiguity". When, on the other hand, the manner of origin is studied, every memory-process is found to be made up of elementary processes that may be called partly associations by similarity, partly associations by contiguity. The assimilations which serve to introduce the process and also those which serve to bring about the reference to a particular earlier experience at its close, may be called associations by similarity. But the term "similarity" is not exactly suitable even here, because it is identical elementary processes that give rise to the assimilation, and when such an identity does not exist, it is always produced by the reciprocal assimilation. In fact, the concept of "association by similarity" is based on the presupposition that composite ideas are permanent psychical objects and that associations take place between these finished ideas. The concept itself must be rejected when once this presupposition is given up as entirely contradictory to psychical experience and fatal to a proper understanding of the same. When certain products of association, as, for example, two successive memory-images, are similar, this likeness is always reducible to processes of assimilation made up of elementary combinations through identity or contiguity. The association through identity may take place either between components that were originally the same, or between those that have gained this character through assimilation. Association by contiguity is the form of combination between those elements that hinder the assimilation, thus dividing the whole process into a succession of two processes, and also contributing to the memory-image those components which give it the character of an independent compound different from that of the impression which gave rise to it.
22. The character of memory-ideas is intimately connected with the complex nature of the memory-processes. The description of these ideas as weaker, but otherwise faithful, copies of the direct sensible idea, is as far out of the way as it could possibly be. Memory-images and direct sensible ideas differ not only in quality and intensity, but most emphatically in ir elementary composition. We may diminish the intensity of a sensible impression as much as [p. 247] we like, but so long as it is perceptible at all it is an essentially different compound from a memory-idea. The incompleteness of the memory-idea is much more characteristic than the small intensity of its sensational elements. For example, when I remember an acquaintance, the image I have of his face and figure are not mere obscure reproductions of what I have in consciousness when I look directly at him, but most of the features do not exist at all in the reproduced ideas. Connected with the few ideational elements that are really present and that can be but little increased in number even when the attention is intentionally concentrated upon the task, are a series of combinations through contiguity and of complications, such as the environments in which I saw my acquaintance, his name, finally and more especially, certain affective elements that were present at the meeting. These accompanying components are what make the image a memory-image.
23. There are great individual differences in the effectiveness of these accompanying elements and in the distinctness of the sensational elements of the memory-image. Some persons locate their memory-images in space and time much more precisely than others do; the ability to remember colors and tones is also exceedingly different. Very few persons seem to have distinct memories for odors and tastes; in place of these we have, as substitute complications, accompanying motor sensations of the nose and taste-organs.
These various different functions connected with the processes of recognition and remembering are all included under the name "memory". This concept does not, of course, refer to any unitary psychical force, as faculty-psychology assumed (p. 11), still, it is a useful supplementary concept in emphasizing the differences between different individuals. We speak of a faithful, comprehensive, and easy memory, or of a good [p. 247] spacial, temporal, and verbal memory, etc. These expressions serve to point out the different directions in which, according to the original disposition or habit of the person, the elementary assimilations and complications occur.
One important phenomenon among the various differences referred to, is the gradual weakening of memory with old age. The disturbances resulting from diseases of the brain agree in general with this phenomenon. Both are of special importance to psychology because they exhibit very clearly the influence of complications on memory-processes. One of the most striking symptoms of failing memory, in both normal and pathological cases, is the weakening of verbal memory. It generally appears as a lack of ability to remember, first. proper names, then names of concrete objects in the ordinary environments, still later abstract words, and finally particles that are entirely abstract in character. This succession corresponds exactly to the possibility of substituting in consciousness for single classes of words other ideas that are regularly connected with them through complication. This possibility it obviously greatest for proper names, and least for abstract particles, which can be retained only through their verbal signs.