1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Identity

(Part 79)

(J) Intellection (cont.)


It is in keeping with this analysis that we say in common speech that two things in any respect similar are so far the same; that, e.g., the two Dromios –

"The one so like the other
As could not be distinguished but by names"—

Had the same complexion and the same stature just as we say they had the same mother. This ambiguity in the word "same," whereby it means either individual identity or indistinguishable resemblance, has been often noticed, and from a logical or objective point of view justly complained of a "engendering fallacies in otherwise enlightened understanding." But apparently no one has inquired into its psychological basis, although more than one writer has admitted that the ambiguity is one "in itself not always to be avoided." [81-1] It is not enough to trace the confusion to the existence of common names and to cite the forgotten controversies of scholastic realism. We are not now concerned with the conformity of thought to things or with logical analysis, but with the analysis of a psychological process. The tendency to treat presentations as of they were copies of things – the objective bias, as we may call it – is the one grant obstacle to psychological observation. Some only realize with an effort that the idea of extension is not extended; no wonder, then, if it should seem "unnatural" to maintain that the idea of two like things does not consist of two like ideas. But, assuming that both meanings of identity have a psychological justification, it will be well to distinguished them and to examine their connexion. Perhaps we might term the one "material identify" and the other "individual identity," – following the analogy of expressions such as "different things but all made of the same stuff," "the same person but entirely changed." Thus there is unity and plurality concerned in both, and herein identity or sameness differs from singularity or mere oneness, which entails no relation. But the unity and the plurality are different in each, and each is in some sort the converse of the other. In the one, two different individuals partially coincide; in the other, one individual is partially different; the unity in the one case is an individual presentation, in the other is the presentation of an individual.


81-1 Comp. J.S. Mill, Logic, bk. i. ch. Iii. § 11, and Examination of Hamilton, 3rd ed.., ch. xvi. p. 306, note; also Meinong, "Hume-Studien" II., Wiener Sitzungberichte (Phil. Hist. Cl.), vol. ci. p. 709.

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