1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Contiguity Inexplicable

(Part 41)

(G) Mental Association and the Memory-Continuum (cont.)

Contiguity Inexplicable

On the whole, then, we may assume that the only principle of association we have to examine is the so-called "association by contiguity," which, as ordinarily formulated, runs: -- Any presentations whatever, which are in consciousness together or in close succession, cohere in such a way that when one recurs it tends to revive the rest, such tendency increasing with the frequently of the conjunction. But such a statement is liable to all the objections already urged against what we may call atomistic psychology. Presentation do not really crowd into Mansoul by the avenues of Eyegate, Eargate, &c., there to form bonds and unions a in Bunyan’s famous allegory. It has been often contended that any investigation into the nature of association must be fruitless. [Footnote 60-2] But, if association is thus a first principle, it ought at last to admit of such a statement as shall remove the necessity for inquiry. So long, however, as we asked to conceive presentations originally distinct and isolated becoming eventually linked together, we shall naturally feel the need of some explanations of the process, for neither the isolation nor the links are clear, -- not the isolation, for we can only conceive two presentations separated by other presentations intervening; nor the links, unless these are also presentations, and then the difficulty recurs. But, if for contiguity we substitute continuity and regard the associated presentations as parts of anew continuum, the only important inquiry is how this new whole was first of all integrated.


60-2 So Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, pt. i. § 4 (Green and Grose’s ed., p. 321); also Lotze, Metaphysik, 1st ed., p. 526.

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