1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Dependence of Action on Feeling

(Part 14)

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

Dependence of Action on Feeling

Having thus simplified the question, we may now ask again : How is this change of movement through feeling brought about? The answer, are already hinted, appears to be : By a change of attention. We learn from such observations as psychologists describe under the head of fascination, imitation, hypnotism, &c., that the mere concentration of attention upon a movement is often enough to bring the movement to pass. But, of course, in such cases there is neither emotional experience nor volition in question ; such facts are only cited to show the connexion between attention and movements. Everybody too has often observed how the execution of any but mechanical movements arrests attention to thought or sensations, and vice versa. Let us suppose, then, that we have at any given moment a certain distribution of attention between sensory and motor presentations ; a change in the distribution means a change in the intensity of some or all of these, and change of intensity in motor presentations means change of movement. Such changes, are, however, quite minimal in amount so long as the given presentations are not conspicuously agreeable or disagreeable. As soon as they are, we find pleasure to lead at once to concentration of attention on the pleasurable object ; so that pleasure is not at all so all so certainly followed by movement as that pleasure is not pleasurable objects and are executed, as we say, for their own sakes. In fact, pleasure would seem rather to repress movement, except so far as it is coincident seem rather to repress movement, except so far as it is coincident either with a more economic distribution, or with a positive augmentation, of the available attention ; and either of these, on the view supposed, would lead to increased but indefinite (i.e., playful) movement. Pain, on the other hand, is much more closely connected with movement, and movement too which for obvious reasons much sooner acquires a purposes character. Instead of voluntary concentration of attention upon a painful presentation we find attention to such an object always involuntary ; in other words, attention is, as it were, excentrated, dispersed ,or withdrawn . If, therefore, the painful presentation is a movement, it is suspended; if it is a sensation, movements are set up which further distract attention, and some of which may effect the removal of the physical source of the sensation.

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