1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Intellection - Introduction

(Part 67)

(J) Intellection

Intellection - Introduction

Desire naturally prompts to the search for the means to its satisfaction and frequently to a mental rehearsal of various possible courses of action, their advantages and disadvantages. Thus, by the time the ideational continuum has become, mainly by the comparatively passive working of association, sufficiently developed to furnish thinking material, motives are forthcoming for thinking to begin. It is obviously impossible to assign any precise time for this advance; like all others, it is gradual. Fitfully, in strange circumstances and under strong excitement, the lower animals give unmistakable signs that they can understand and reason. But thought as a permanent activity may be fairly said to originate in and even to depend upon the acquisition of speech. This indispensable instrument, which more than anything else enables our psychological individual to advance to the distinctly human or rational stage, consists of gestures and vocal utterances, which were originally – and indeed are still to a large extent – emotional expressions. [75-1] It is a question of the highest interest to ascertain the general mode of its elaboration; but as to this the reader must consult the article PHILOLOGY (vol. xviii. P. 766 sq). Our space will only allow us to note in what way language, when it already exits, is instrumental in the development as distinct from the communication of thought. But, first of all, what in general is thinking, of which language is the instrument?


[75-1-] Is must here be noted that, though we still retain our psychological standpoint, the higher development of the individual is only possible through intercourse with other individuals, that is to say, through society. Without language we should be mutually exclusive and impenetrable, like so many physical atoms: with it each several mind may transcend its own limits and share the minds of others. As a herd of individuals mankind would have a natural history as other animals have; but personality can only emerge out of intercourse with persons, and of such intercourse language is the means. But, important as is this addition of a transparent and responsive world of minds to the dead opaqueness of external things, the development of our psychological individual still remains a purely individual development. The only new point is –and it is of the highest importance to keep it in sight – that the materials of this development no longer in accordance with psychical laws. But that combination of individual experiences that converts subjective idiosyncrasy and isolation into the objectivity and solidarity of Universal Mind only affects the individual in accordance with psychical laws, and we have no need therefore to overstep our proper domain in studying the advance from the non-rational phase to the phase of reason.

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