1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Feeling and Sensation Distinct

(Part 7)

(B) General Analysis of Mind. Its Ultimate Constituents. (cont.)

Feeling and Sensation Distinct

But, as already said, the plausibility of the hypothesis is in good part due to a laxity in the use of terms. Most psychologists before Kant, and English psychologists even to the present day, speak of pleasure and pain as sensations. But it is plain that pleasure and pain are not simple ideas, as Locke called them, in the sense in which touches and tastes are,—that is to say, they are never like these localized or projected, nor elaborated in conjunction with other sensations and movements into percepts or intuitions of the external. This confusion of feeling with sensations is largely consequent on the use of one word pain for certain organic sensations and for the purely subjective state. But, to say nothing of the fact that such pains are always more or less definitely localized,—which of itself is so far cognition,—they are also distinguished as shooting, burning, gnawing, &c. &c., all which symptoms indicate a certain objective quality. Accordingly all the more recent psychologists have been driven by one means or another to recognize two "aspect" (Bain), or "properties (Wundt), in what they call a sensation, the one a "sensible or intellectual" or "qualitative," the other an "affective"or "emotive," aspect or property. The term "aspect’is figurative and obviously inaccurate ; even to describe pleasure and pain as properties of sensation is a matter open to much question. But the point which at present concerns us is simply that when feeling is said to be the primordial elements in consciousness more is usually included under feeling than pure pleasure and pain, viz., some characteristic or quality by which one pleasurable or painful sensation is distinguishable form another. No doubt, as we go downwards in the chain of life the qualitative or objective elements in the so-called sensations become less and less definite ; and at the same time organisms which well-developed sense-organs give place to others without any clearly differentiated organs at all. But there is no ground for supposing even the amoeba itself to be itself to be affected in all respects the same wherther by changes of temperature or of pressure or by changes in its internal fluids, albeit all of these changes will further or hinder its life and so presumably be in some sort pleasurable or painful. On the whole, there are grounds for saying that the endeavour to represent all at the various facts of consciousness as evolved out of feeling is due to a hasty striving after simplicity, and has been favoured by the ambiguity of the term feeling itself. If by feeling we means a certain subjective state varying continuously in intensity and passing from time to time from its positive phase (pleasure) to its negative phase (pain), then this purely pathic state implies an agreement or disagreeing something which psychologically determines it. If, on the other hand, we let feeling stand for both this state and the cause of it, the, perhaps, a succession of such "feelings" may make up a consciousness; but then we are including two of our elementary facts under the name of one of them. The simplest form of psychological life, therefore, involves, not only a subject feeling but a subject having qualitatively distinguishable presentations which are the occasion of its feeling.

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