1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Thought as Analytic

Psychology
(Part 72)




(J) Intellection (cont.)

Thought as Analytic

The process of thinking itself is psychologically much better described as (1) an analysis and (2) a re-synthesis of this material already furnished by the ideational trains. The logical resolution of thought into hierarchies of concepts arranged like Prophyry’s tree, into judgments uniting such concepts by means of a logical copula, &c., is the outcome of later reflexion – mainly for technical purposes –upon thought as a completed product, and entirely presupposes all that psychology has to explain. The logical theory of the formation of concepts by generalization (or abstraction) and by determination (or concretion) – i.e., by the removal or addition of defining marks – assumes the previous existence of the very things to be formed, for these marks or attributes – X’s and Y’s, A’s and B’s – are themselves already concepts. Moreover, the act of generalizing or determining is really an act of judgment, so that the logicians’ account of conception presupposes judgment, while at the same time his account of judgment presupposes conception. But this is no evil; for logic does note essay to exhibit the actual genesis of thought but only an ideal for future thinking. Psychologically – that is to say, chronologically – the judgment is first. The growing mind, we may suppose, passes beyond simple perception when some striking difference in what is at the moment perceived is the occasion of a conflict of presentations (comp. p. 62). The stalking hunter is not instantly recognized as the destroying biped, because he crawls on all fours; or the scarecrow looks like him, and yet not like him; for, though it stands on two legs, it never moves. There is no immediate assimilation: percept and idea remain distinct till, on being severally attended to and compared, what is there is known in spite of the differences. Recognition under such circumstances is in itself a judgment; but of more account is the further judgment involved in it or accompanying it – that which connects the new fact with the old idea. Though actually complex, as the result of a combination of impressions, generic images are not necessarily known as complexes when they first enter into judgments; as the subjects of such judgments they are but starting-points for predication, -- It crawls; It does not move; and the like. Such impersonal judgments, according to most philologists, are in fact the earliest; and we may reasonably suppose that by means of them our generic images have been partially analysed, and have attained to something of the distinctness and constancy of logical concepts. But the analysis is rarely complete: a certain confused and fluctuating residuum remains behinds. The psychological concept merges at sundry points into those cognate with it, -- in other words, the continuity of the underlying memory-train still operates; only the ideal concepts of logic are in all respects totus, teres, atque rotundus. Evidence of this, if it seem to any require proof, is obtainable on all sides, and, if we could recover the first vestiges of thinking, would be more abundant still.





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