1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Substantiality

(Part 36)

(E) Perception (cont.)


(e) So far we have been concerned only with the combination of sensory and motor presentations into groups and with the differentiation of group from group; the relations to each other of the constituents of each group still for the most part remain. To these relations in the main must be referred the correlative conceptions of substance and attribute, the distinction in substances of qualities and powers, of primary qualities and secondary and the like. [Footnote 57-1]

Of all the constituents of things only one is universally present, that above described as physical solidity, which presents itself according to circumstances as impenetrability, resistance, or weight. Things differing in temperature, colour, taste, and smell agree in resisting compression, in filling space. Because of this quality we regard the wind as a thing it has neither shape nor colour, while a shadow, though it has both but not resistance, is the very type of nothingness. This constituent is invariable, while other qualities are either absent or change,—form altering, colour disappearing with light, sound and smells intermitting. Many of the other qualities—colour, temperature, sound, smell—increase in intensity until we reach and touch a body occupying space ; with the same movement too its visual magnitude varies. At the moment of contact an unvarying tactual magnitude is ascertained, while the other qualities and the visual magnitude reach a fixed maximum ; then first it becomes possibly by effort to change or attempt to change the position and form of what we apprehend. This tangible plenum we thence-forth regard as the seat and source of all the qualities we project into it. In other words, that which occupies space is psychologically the substantial ; the other real constituents are both its properties or attributes, the marks or manifestations which lead us to expect its presence.


57-1 The distinction between the thing and its propertiesm like all the foregoing distinctions,is one that might be more fully treated under the head of "Thought and Conception." Still, inasmuch as the material warrant for these concepts is contained more or less implicitly in our percepts, some consideration of it is in place here.

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