O gar arche men o me oide, teleute de kai ta metaxu ex ou me oide sumpeplektai, tis mechane ten toiauten omologian pote epistemen genesthai; Plato Republic.
Monon gar auto legeiv, osper gumnon kai aperemomenon apo ton onton apanton, adunaton. Soph.
Since the above essay first appeared, many books on Psychology have been given to the world, partly based upon the views of Herbart and other German philosophers, partly independent of them. The subject has gained in bulk and extent; whether it has had any true growth is more doubtful. It begins to assume the language and claim the authority of a science; but it is only an hypothesis or outline, which may be filled up in many ways according to the fancy of individual thinkers. The basis of it is a precarious one,-- consciousness of ourselves and a somewhat uncertain observation of the rest of mankind. Its relations to other sciences are not yet determined: they seem to be almost too complicated to be ascertained. It may be compared to an irregular building, run up hastily and not likely to last, because its foundations are weak, and in many places rest only on the surface of the ground. It has sought rather to put together scattered observations and to make them into a system than to describe or prove them. It has never severely drawn the line between facts and opinions. It has substituted a technical phraseology for the common use of language, being neither able to win acceptance for the one nor to get rid of the other.
The system which has thus arisen appears to be a kind of metaphysic narrowed to the point of view of the individual mind, through which, as through some new optical instrument limiting the sphere of vision, the interior of thought and sensation is examined. But the individual mind in the abstract, as distinct from the mind of a particular individual and separated from the environment of circumstances, is a fiction only. Yet facts which are partly true gather around this fiction and are naturally described by the help of it. There is also a common type of the mind which is derived from the comparison of many minds with one another and with our own. The phenomena of which Psychology treats are familiar to us, but they are for the most part indefinite; they relate to a something inside the body, which seems also to overleap the limits of space. The operations of this something, when isolated, cannot be analyzed by us or subjected to observation and experiment. And there is another point to be considered.
The mind, when thinking, cannot survey that part of itself which is used in thought. It can only be contemplated in the past, that is to say, in the history of the individual or of the world. This is the scientific method of studying the mind. But Psychology has also some other supports, specious rather than real. It is partly sustained by the false analogy of Physical Science and has great expectations from its near relationship to Physiology. We truly remark that there is an infinite complexity of the body corresponding to the infinite subtlety of the mind; we are conscious that they are very nearly connected. But in endeavouring to trace the nature of the connexion we are baffled and disappointed. In our knowledge of them the gulf remains the same: no microscope has ever seen into thought; no reflection on ourselves has supplied the missing link between mind and matter...These are the conditions of this very inexact science, and we shall only know less of it by pretending to know more, or by assigning to it a form or style to which it has not yet attained and is not really entitled.
Experience shows that any system, however baseless and ineffectual, in our own or in any other age, may be accepted and continue to be studied, if it seeks to satisfy some unanswered question or is based upon some ancient tradition, especially if it takes the form and uses the language of inductive philosophy. The fact therefore that such a science exists and is popular, affords no evidence of its truth or value. Many who have pursued it far into detail have never examined the foundations on which it rests.
The have been many imaginary subjects of knowledge of which enthusiastic persons have made a lifelong study, without ever asking themselves what is the evidence for them, what is the use of them, how long they will last?
They may pass away, like the authors of them, and 'leave not a wrack behind;' or they may survive in fragments. Nor is it only in the Middle Ages, or in the literary desert of China or of India, that such systems have arisen; in our own enlightened age, growing up by the side of Physics, Ethics, and other really progressive sciences, there is a weary waste of knowledge, falsely so-called. There are sham sciences which no logic has ever put to the test, in which the desire for knowledge invents the materials of it.
And therefore it is expedient once more to review the bases of Psychology, lest we should be imposed upon by its pretensions. The study of it may have done good service by awakening us to the sense of inveterate errors familiarized by language, yet it may have fallen into still greater ones; under the pretence of new investigations it may be wasting the lives of those who are engaged in it. It may also be found that the discussion of it will throw light upon some points in the Theaetetus of Plato,--the oldest work on Psychology which has come down to us. The imaginary science may be called, in the language of ancient philosophy, 'a shadow of a part of Dialectic or Metaphysic' (Gorg.).
In this postscript or appendix we propose to treat, first, of the true bases of Psychology; secondly, of the errors into which the students of it are most likely to fall; thirdly, of the principal subjects which are usually comprehended under it; fourthly, of the form which facts relating to the mind most naturally assume.
We may preface the enquiry by two or three remarks:--
(1) We do not claim for the popular Psychology the position of a science at all; it cannot, like the Physical Sciences, proceed by the Inductive Method: it has not the necessity of Mathematics: it does not, like Metaphysic, argue from abstract notions or from internal coherence. It is made up of scattered observations. A few of these, though they may sometimes appear to be truisms, are of the greatest value, and free from all doubt. We are conscious of them in ourselves; we observe them working in others; we are assured of them at all times. For example, we are absolutely certain, (a) of the influence exerted by the mind over the body or by the body over the mind: (b) of the power of association, by which the appearance of some person or the occurrence of some event recalls to mind, not always but often, other persons and events: (c) of the effect of habit, which is strongest when least disturbed by reflection, and is to the mind what the bones are to the body: (d) of the real, though not unlimited, freedom of the human will: (e) of the reference, more or less distinct, of our sensations, feelings, thoughts, actions, to ourselves, which is called consciousness, or, when in excess, self-consciousness: (f) of the distinction of the 'I' and 'Not I,' of ourselves and outward objects. But when we attempt to gather up these elements in a single system, we discover that the links by which we combine them are apt to be mere words. We are in a country which has never been cleared or surveyed; here and there only does a gleam of light come through the darkness of the forest.
(2) These fragments, although they can never become science in the ordinary sense of the word, are a real part of knowledge and may be of great value in education. We may be able to add a good deal to them from our own experience, and we may verify them by it. Self-examination is one of those studies which a man can pursue alone, by attention to himself and the processes of his individual mind. He may learn much about his own character and about the character of others, if he will 'make his mind sit down' and look at itself in the glass. The great, if not the only use of such a study is a practical one,--to know, first, human nature, and, secondly, our own nature, as it truly is.
(3) Hence it is important that we should conceive of the mind in the noblest and simplest manner. While acknowledging that language has been the greatest factor in the formation of human thought, we must endeavour to get rid of the disguises, oppositions, contradictions, which arise out of it. We must disengage ourselves from the ideas which the customary use of words has implanted in us. To avoid error as much as possible when we are speaking of things unseen, the principal terms which we use should be few, and we should not allow ourselves to be enslaved by them. Instead of seeking to frame a technical language, we should vary our forms of speech, lest they should degenerate into formulas. A difficult philosophical problem is better understood when translated into the vernacular.
I.a. Psychology is inseparable from language, and early language contains the first impressions or the oldest experience of man respecting himself.
These impressions are not accurate representations of the truth; they are the reflections of a rudimentary age of philosophy. The first and simplest forms of thought are rooted so deep in human nature that they can never be got rid of; but they have been perpetually enlarged and elevated, and the use of many words has been transferred from the body to the mind. The spiritual and intellectual have thus become separated from the material-- there is a cleft between them; and the heart and the conscience of man rise above the dominion of the appetites and create a new language in which they too find expression. As the differences of actions begin to be perceived, more and more names are needed. This is the first analysis of the human mind; having a general foundation in popular experience, it is moulded to a certain extent by hierophants and philosophers. (See Introd. to Cratylus.)
b. This primitive psychology is continually receiving additions from the first thinkers, who in return take a colour from the popular language of the time. The mind is regarded from new points of view, and becomes adapted to new conditions of knowledge. It seeks to isolate itself from matter and sense, and to assert its independence in thought. It recognizes that it is independent of the external world. It has five or six natural states or stages:--(1) sensation, in which it is almost latent or quiescent: (2) feeling, or inner sense, when the mind is just awakening:
(3) memory, which is decaying sense, and from time to time, as with a spark or flash, has the power of recollecting or reanimating the buried past:
(4) thought, in which images pass into abstract notions or are intermingled with them: (5) action, in which the mind moves forward, of itself, or under the impulse of want or desire or pain, to attain or avoid some end or consequence: and (6) there is the composition of these or the admixture or assimilation of them in various degrees. We never see these processes of the mind, nor can we tell the causes of them. But we know them by their results, and learn from other men that so far as we can describe to them or they to us the workings of the mind, their experience is the same or nearly the same with our own.
c. But the knowledge of the mind is not to any great extent derived from the observation of the individual by himself. It is the growing consciousness of the human race, embodied in language, acknowledged by experience, and corrected from time to time by the influence of literature and philosophy. A great, perhaps the most important, part of it is to be found in early Greek thought. In the Theaetetus of Plato it has not yet become fixed: we are still stumbling on the threshold. In Aristotle the process is more nearly completed, and has gained innumerable abstractions, of which many have had to be thrown away because relative only to the controversies of the time. In the interval between Thales and Aristotle were realized the distinctions of mind and body, of universal and particular, of infinite and infinitesimal, of idea and phenomenon; the class conceptions of faculties and virtues, the antagonism of the appetites and the reason; and connected with this, at a higher stage of development, the opposition of moral and intellectual virtue; also the primitive conceptions of unity, being, rest, motion, and the like. These divisions were not really scientific, but rather based on popular experience. They were not held with the precision of modern thinkers, but taken all together they gave a new existence to the mind in thought, and greatly enlarged and more accurately defined man's knowledge of himself and of the world. The majority of them have been accepted by Christian and Western nations. Yet in modern times we have also drifted so far away from Aristotle, that if we were to frame a system on his lines we should be at war with ordinary language and untrue to our own consciousness. And there have been a few both in mediaeval times and since the Reformation who have rebelled against the Aristotelian point of view. Of these eccentric thinkers there have been various types, but they have all a family likeness. According to them, there has been too much analysis and too little synthesis, too much division of the mind into parts and too little conception of it as a whole or in its relation to God and the laws of the universe. They have thought that the elements of plurality and unity have not been duly adjusted. The tendency of such writers has been to allow the personality of man to be absorbed in the universal, or in the divine nature, and to deny the distinction between matter and mind, or to substitute one for the other.
They have broken some of the idols of Psychology: they have challenged the received meaning of words: they have regarded the mind under many points of view. But though they may have shaken the old, they have not established the new; their views of philosophy, which seem like the echo of some voice from the East, have been alien to the mind of Europe.
d. The Psychology which is found in common language is in some degree verified by experience, but not in such a manner as to give it the character of an exact science. We cannot say that words always correspond to facts. Common language represents the mind from different and even opposite points of view, which cannot be all of them equally true (compare Cratylus). Yet from diversity of statements and opinions may be obtained a nearer approach to the truth than is to be gained from any one of them. It also tends to correct itself, because it is gradually brought nearer to the common sense of mankind. There are some leading categories or classifications of thought, which, though unverified, must always remain the elements from which the science or study of the mind proceeds. For example, we must assume ideas before we can analyze them, and also a continuing mind to which they belong; the resolution of it into successive moments, which would say, with Protagoras, that the man is not the same person which he was a minute ago, is, as Plato implies in the Theaetetus, an absurdity.
e. The growth of the mind, which may be traced in the histories of religions and philosophies and in the thoughts of nations, is one of the deepest and noblest modes of studying it. Here we are dealing with the reality, with the greater and, as it may be termed, the most sacred part of history. We study the mind of man as it begins to be inspired by a human or divine reason, as it is modified by circumstances, as it is distributed in nations, as it is renovated by great movements, which go beyond the limits of nations and affect human society on a scale still greater, as it is created or renewed by great minds, who, looking down from above, have a wider and more comprehensive vision. This is an ambitious study, of which most of us rather 'entertain conjecture' than arrive at any detailed or accurate knowledge. Later arises the reflection how these great ideas or movements of the world have been appropriated by the multitude and found a way to the minds of individuals. The real Psychology is that which shows how the increasing knowledge of nature and the increasing experience of life have always been slowly transforming the mind, how religions too have been modified in the course of ages 'that God may be all and in all.' E pollaplasion, eoe, to ergon e os nun zeteitai prostatteis.
f. Lastly, though we speak of the study of mind in a special sense, it may also be said that there is no science which does not contribute to our knowledge of it. The methods of science and their analogies are new faculties, discovered by the few and imparted to the many. They are to the mind, what the senses are to the body; or better, they may be compared to instruments such as the telescope or microscope by which the discriminating power of the senses, or to other mechanical inventions, by which the strength and skill of the human body is so immeasurably increased.
II. The new Psychology, whatever may be its claim to the authority of a science, has called attention to many facts and corrected many errors, which without it would have been unexamined. Yet it is also itself very liable to illusion. The evidence on which it rests is vague and indefinite. The field of consciousness is never seen by us as a whole, but only at particular points, which are always changing. The veil of language intercepts facts. Hence it is desirable that in making an approach to the study we should consider at the outset what are the kinds of error which most easily affect it, and note the differences which separate it from other branches of knowledge.
a. First, we observe the mind by the mind. It would seem therefore that we are always in danger of leaving out the half of that which is the subject of our enquiry. We come at once upon the difficulty of what is the meaning of the word. Does it differ as subject and object in the same manner? Can we suppose one set of feelings or one part of the mind to interpret another? Is the introspecting thought the same with the thought which is introspected? Has the mind the power of surveying its whole domain at one and the same time?--No more than the eye can take in the whole human body at a glance. Yet there may be a glimpse round the corner, or a thought transferred in a moment from one point of view to another, which enables us to see nearly the whole, if not at once, at any rate in succession. Such glimpses will hardly enable us to contemplate from within the mind in its true proportions. Hence the firmer ground of Psychology is not the consciousness of inward feelings but the observation of external actions, being the actions not only of ourselves, but of the innumerable persons whom we come across in life.
b. The error of supposing partial or occasional explanation of mental phenomena to be the only or complete ones. For example, we are disinclined
to admit of the spontaneity or discontinuity of the mind--it seems to us like an effect without a cause, and therefore we suppose the train of our thoughts to be always called up by association. Yet it is probable, or indeed certain, that of many mental phenomena there are no mental antecedents, but only bodily ones.
c. The false influence of language. We are apt to suppose that when there are two or more words describing faculties or processes of the mind, there are real differences corresponding to them. But this is not the case. Nor can we determine how far they do or do not exist, or by what degree or kind of difference they are distinguished. The same remark may be made about figures of speech. They fill up the vacancy of knowledge; they are to the mind what too much colour is to the eye; but the truth is rather concealed than revealed by them.
d. The uncertain meaning of terms, such as Consciousness, Conscience, Will, Law, Knowledge, Internal and External Sense; these, in the language of Plato, 'we shamelessly use, without ever having taken the pains to analyze them.'
e. A science such as Psychology is not merely an hypothesis, but an hypothesis which, unlike the hypotheses of Physics, can never be verified.
It rests only on the general impressions of mankind, and there is little or no hope of adding in any considerable degree to our stock of mental facts.
f. The parallelism of the Physical Sciences, which leads us to analyze the mind on the analogy of the body, and so to reduce mental operations to the level of bodily ones, or to confound one with the other.
g. That the progress of Physiology may throw a new light on Psychology is a dream in which scientific men are always tempted to indulge. But however certain we may be of the connexion between mind and body, the explanation of the one by the other is a hidden place of nature which has hitherto been investigated with little or no success.
h. The impossibility of distinguishing between mind and body. Neither in thought nor in experience can we separate them. They seem to act together; yet we feel that we are sometimes under the dominion of the one, sometimes of the other, and sometimes, both in the common use of language and in fact, they transform themselves, the one into the good principle, the other into the evil principle; and then again the 'I' comes in and mediates between them. It is also difficult to distinguish outward facts from the ideas of them in the mind, or to separate the external stimulus to a sensation from the activity of the organ, or this from the invisible agencies by which it reaches the mind, or any process of sense from its mental antecedent, or any mental energy from its nervous expression.
i. The fact that mental divisions tend to run into one another, and that in speaking of the mind we cannot always distinguish differences of kind from differences of degree; nor have we any measure of the strength and intensity of our ideas or feelings.
j. Although heredity has been always known to the ancients as well as ourselves to exercise a considerable influence on human character, yet we are unable to calculate what proportion this birth-influence bears to nurture and education. But this is the real question. We cannot pursue the mind into embryology: we can only trace how, after birth, it begins to grow. But how much is due to the soil, how much to the original latent seed, it is impossible to distinguish. And because we are certain that heredity exercises a considerable, but undefined influence, we must not increase the wonder by exaggerating it.
k. The love of system is always tending to prevail over the historical investigation of the mind, which is our chief means of knowing it. It equally tends to hinder the other great source of our knowledge of the mind, the observation of its workings and processes which we can make for ourselves.
l. The mind, when studied through the individual, is apt to be isolated-- this is due to the very form of the enquiry; whereas, in truth, it is indistinguishable from circumstances, the very language which it uses being the result of the instincts of long-forgotten generations, and every word which a man utters being the answer to some other word spoken or suggested by somebody else.
III. The tendency of the preceding remarks has been to show that Psychology is necessarily a fragment, and is not and cannot be a connected system. We cannot define or limit the mind, but we can describe it. We can collect information about it; we can enumerate the principal subjects which are included in the study of it. Thus we are able to rehabilitate Psychology to some extent, not as a branch of science, but as a collection of facts bearing on human life, as a part of the history of philosophy, as an aspect of Metaphysic. It is a fragment of a science only, which in all probability can never make any great progress or attain to much clearness or exactness. It is however a kind of knowledge which has a great interest for us and is always present to us, and of which we carry about the materials in our own bosoms. We can observe our minds and we can experiment upon them, and the knowledge thus acquired is not easily forgotten, and is a help to us in study as well as in conduct.
The principal subjects of Psychology may be summed up as follows:--
a. The relation of man to the world around him,--in what sense and within what limits can he withdraw from its laws or assert himself against them (Freedom and Necessity), and what is that which we suppose to be thus independent and which we call ourselves? How does the inward differ from the outward and what is the relation between them, and where do we draw the line by which we separate mind from matter, the soul from the body? Is the mind active or passive, or partly both? Are its movements identical with those of the body, or only preconcerted and coincident with them, or is one simply an aspect of the other?
b. What are we to think of time and space? Time seems to have a nearer connexion with the mind, space with the body; yet time, as well as space, is necessary to our idea of either. We see also that they have an analogy with one another, and that in Mathematics they often interpenetrate. Space or place has been said by Kant to be the form of the outward, time of the inward sense. He regards them as parts or forms of the mind. But this is an unfortunate and inexpressive way of describing their relation to us.
For of all the phenomena present to the human mind they seem to have most the character of objective existence. There is no use in asking what is beyond or behind them; we cannot get rid of them. And to throw the laws of external nature which to us are the type of the immutable into the subjective side of the antithesis seems to be equally inappropriate.
c. When in imagination we enter into the closet of the mind and withdraw ourselves from the external world, we seem to find there more or less distinct processes which may be described by the words, 'I perceive,' 'I feel,' 'I think,' 'I want,' 'I wish,' 'I like,' 'I dislike,' 'I fear,' 'I know,' 'I remember,' 'I imagine,' 'I dream,' 'I act,' 'I endeavour,' 'I hope.' These processes would seem to have the same notions attached to them in the minds of all educated persons. They are distinguished from one another in thought, but they intermingle. It is possible to reflect upon them or to become conscious of them in a greater or less degree, or with a greater or less continuity or attention, and thus arise the intermittent phenomena of consciousness or self-consciousness. The use of all of them is possible to us at all times; and therefore in any operation of the mind the whole are latent. But we are able to characterise them sufficiently by that part of the complex action which is the most prominent. We have no difficulty in distinguishing an act of sight or an act of will from an act of thought, although thought is present in both of them. Hence the conception of different faculties or different virtues is precarious, because each of them is passing into the other, and they are all one in the mind itself; they appear and reappear, and may all be regarded as the ever- varying phases or aspects or differences of the same mind or person.
d. Nearest the sense in the scale of the intellectual faculties is memory, which is a mode rather than a faculty of the mind, and accompanies all mental operations. There are two principal kinds of it, recollection and recognition,--recollection in which forgotten things are recalled or return to the mind, recognition in which the mind finds itself again among things once familiar. The simplest way in which we can represent the former to ourselves is by shutting our eyes and trying to recall in what we term the mind's eye the picture of the surrounding scene, or by laying down the book which we are reading and recapitulating what we can remember of it. But many times more powerful than recollection is recognition, perhaps because it is more assisted by association. We have known and forgotten, and after a long interval the thing which we have seen once is seen again by us, but with a different feeling, and comes back to us, not as new knowledge, but as a thing to which we ourselves impart a notion already present to us; in Plato's words, we set the stamp upon the wax. Every one is aware of the difference between the first and second sight of a place, between a scene clothed with associations or bare and divested of them. We say to ourselves on revisiting a spot after a long interval: How many things have happened since I last saw this! There is probably no impression ever received by us of which we can venture to say that the vestiges are altogether lost, or that we might not, under some circumstances, recover it. A long-forgotten knowledge may be easily renewed and therefore is very different from ignorance. Of the language learnt in childhood not a word may be remembered, and yet, when a new beginning is made, the old habit soon returns, the neglected organs come back into use, and the river of speech finds out the dried-up channel.
e. 'Consciousness' is the most treacherous word which is employed in the study of the mind, for it is used in many senses, and has rarely, if ever, been minutely analyzed. Like memory, it accompanies all mental operations, but not always continuously, and it exists in various degrees. It may be imperceptible or hardly perceptible: it may be the living sense that our thoughts, actions, sufferings, are our own. It is a kind of attention which we pay to ourselves, and is intermittent rather than continuous. Its sphere has been exaggerated. It is sometimes said to assure us of our freedom; but this is an illusion: as there may be a real freedom without consciousness of it, so there may be a consciousness of freedom without the reality. It may be regarded as a higher degree of knowledge when we not only know but know that we know. Consciousness is opposed to habit, inattention, sleep, death. It may be illustrated by its derivative conscience, which speaks to men, not only of right and wrong in the abstract, but of right and wrong actions in reference to themselves and their circumstances.
f. Association is another of the ever-present phenomena of the human mind.
We speak of the laws of association, but this is an expression which is confusing, for the phenomenon itself is of the most capricious and uncertain sort. It may be briefly described as follows. The simplest case of association is that of sense. When we see or hear separately one of two things, which we have previously seen or heard together, the occurrence of the one has a tendency to suggest the other. So the sight or name of a house may recall to our minds the memory of those who once lived there.
Like may recall like and everything its opposite. The parts of a whole, the terms of a series, objects lying near, words having a customary order stick together in the mind. A word may bring back a passage of poetry or a whole system of philosophy; from one end of the world or from one pole of knowledge we may travel to the other in an indivisible instant. The long train of association by which we pass from one point to the other, involving every sort of complex relation, so sudden, so accidental, is one of the greatest wonders of mind...This process however is not always continuous, but often intermittent: we can think of things in isolation as well as in association; we do not mean that they must all hang from one another. We can begin again after an interval of rest or vacancy, as a new train of thought suddenly arises, as, for example, when we wake of a morning or after violent exercise. Time, place, the same colour or sound or smell or taste, will often call up some thought or recollection either accidentally or naturally associated with them. But it is equally noticeable that the new thought may occur to us, we cannot tell how or why, by the spontaneous action of the mind itself or by the latent influence of the body. Both science and poetry are made up of associations or recollections, but we must observe also that the mind is not wholly dependent on them, having also the power of origination.
There are other processes of the mind which it is good for us to study when we are at home and by ourselves,--the manner in which thought passes into act, the conflict of passion and reason in many stages, the transition from sensuality to love or sentiment and from earthly love to heavenly, the slow and silent influence of habit, which little by little changes the nature of men, the sudden change of the old nature of man into a new one, wrought by shame or by some other overwhelming impulse. These are the greater phenomena of mind, and he who has thought of them for himself will live and move in a better-ordered world, and will himself be a better-ordered man.
At the other end of the 'globus intellectualis,' nearest, not to earth and sense, but to heaven and God, is the personality of man, by which he holds communion with the unseen world. Somehow, he knows not how, somewhere, he knows not where, under this higher aspect of his being he grasps the ideas of God, freedom and immortality; he sees the forms of truth, holiness and love, and is satisfied with them. No account of the mind can be complete which does not admit the reality or the possibility of another life.
Whether regarded as an ideal or as a fact, the highest part of man's nature and that in which it seems most nearly to approach the divine, is a phenomenon which exists, and must therefore be included within the domain of Psychology.
IV. We admit that there is no perfect or ideal Psychology. It is not a whole in the same sense in which Chemistry, Physiology, or Mathematics are wholes: that is to say, it is not a connected unity of knowledge.
Compared with the wealth of other sciences, it rests upon a small number of facts; and when we go beyond these, we fall into conjectures and verbal discussions. The facts themselves are disjointed; the causes of them run up into other sciences, and we have no means of tracing them from one to the other. Yet it may be true of this, as of other beginnings of knowledge, that the attempt to put them together has tested the truth of them, and given a stimulus to the enquiry into them.
Psychology should be natural, not technical. It should take the form which is the most intelligible to the common understanding, because it has to do with common things, which are familiar to us all. It should aim at no more than every reflecting man knows or can easily verify for himself. When simple and unpretentious, it is least obscured by words, least liable to fall under the influence of Physiology or Metaphysic. It should argue, not from exceptional, but from ordinary phenomena. It should be careful to distinguish the higher and the lower elements of human nature, and not allow one to be veiled in the disguise of the other, lest through the slippery nature of language we should pass imperceptibly from good to evil, from nature in the higher to nature in the neutral or lower sense. It should assert consistently the unity of the human faculties, the unity of knowledge, the unity of God and law. The difference between the will and the affections and between the reason and the passions should also be recognized by it.
Its sphere is supposed to be narrowed to the individual soul; but it cannot be thus separated in fact. It goes back to the beginnings of things, to the first growth of language and philosophy, and to the whole science of man. There can be no truth or completeness in any study of the mind which is confined to the individual. The nature of language, though not the whole, is perhaps at present the most important element in our knowledge of it. It is not impossible that some numerical laws may be found to have a place in the relations of mind and matter, as in the rest of nature. The old Pythagorean fancy that the soul 'is or has in it harmony' may in some degree be realized. But the indications of such numerical harmonies are faint; either the secret of them lies deeper than we can discover, or nature may have rebelled against the use of them in the composition of men and animals. It is with qualitative rather than with quantitative differences that we are concerned in Psychology. The facts relating to the mind which we obtain from Physiology are negative rather than positive.
They show us, not the processes of mental action, but the conditions of which when deprived the mind ceases to act. It would seem as if the time had not yet arrived when we can hope to add anything of much importance to our knowledge of the mind from the investigations of the microscope. The elements of Psychology can still only be learnt from reflections on ourselves, which interpret and are also interpreted by our experience of others. The history of language, of philosophy, and religion, the great thoughts or inventions or discoveries which move mankind, furnish the larger moulds or outlines in which the human mind has been cast. From these the individual derives so much as he is able to comprehend or has the opportunity of learning.