1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Intuition of Things. Actuality or Reality.

(Part 32)

(E) Perception (cont.)

Intuition of Things. Actuality or Reality.

nIn a complex presentation, such as that of an orange or a piece of wax, may be distinguished the following points concerning which psychology may be expected to give an account:-- (a) its reality, (b) its solidity or occupation of space, (c0 its permanence, or rather its continuity in time, (d) its unity and complexity, and (e) its substantiality and the connexion of its attributes and powers. Though, in fact, these items are most intimately blended, our exposition will be clearer if we consider each for a moment apart.

(a) The terms actuality and reality have each more than one meaning. Thus what is real, in the sense of material, is opposed to what is mental ; as the existent or actual it is opposed to the non-existent ; and again, what is actual is distinguished from what is possible or necessary. But here both terms, with a certain shade of difference, in so far as actual is more appropriate to movements and events, are used, in antithesis to whatever is ideal or represented, for what is sense-given or presented. This seems at least their primary psychological meaning; and it is the one most in vogue in English philosophy at any rate, over-tinged as that is with psychology. [Footnote 55-1] Any examination of this characteristic will be best deferred till we come to deal with ideation generally (see p. 58 below). Meanwhile it may suffice to remark that reality or actuality is not a single distinct element added to the others which enter into the complex presentations we call a thing, as colour or solidity may be. Neither is it a special relation among these elements, like that of substance and attribute, for example. In these respects the real and the ideal, the actual and the possible, are alike ; all the elements or qualities within the complex, and all the relations of those elements to each other, are the same in the rose represented as in the presented rose. The difference turn not upon what these elements are, regarded as qualities or relations presented or represented, but upon whatever it is that distinguishes the presentation from the representation of any given qualities or relations. Now this, as we shall see, turns partly upon the relation of such complex presentation to other presentation in consciousness with it, partly upon its relation as a presentation to the subject whose presentation it is. In this respect we find a difference, not only between the simple qualities, such as cold, hard, red, and sweet in strawberry ice, e.g., as presented and as represented, but also, though less conspicuously, in the spatial, and even temporal, relations which enter into our intuition as distinct from our imagination of it. Where no such difference exists we have passed beyond the distinction of percept and image to the higher level of conception and thought. So, then, reality or actuality is not strictly an item by itself, but a characteristic of all the items that follow.


55-1 Thus Locke says, "Our simple ideas [i.e., presentation or impressions, as we should now say] are all real... and not fictions at pleasure; for the mind... can make to itself no simple idea more than what it has received" (Essay, ii. 30, 2) And Berkeley says, "The ideas imprinted on the senses by the Author of Nature are called real things; and those excited in the imagination, being less regular, vivid, and constant, are more properly termed ideas or images of things, which they copy or represent" (Prin. Of Hum. Know., part i. § 33).

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