1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Real Categories

(Part 81)

(J) Intellection (cont.)

Real Categories

As regards the real categories, it may be said generally that these owe their origin in large measure to the anthropomorphic or mythical tendency of human thought, -- to homion to homoio ginoskesthai [Gk.]. Into the formation of these conceptions two very distinct factors enter – (1) the facts of what in the stricter sense we call "self-consciousness," and (2) certain spatial and temporal relations among our presentations themselves. On the one hand, it has to be noted that these spatial and temporal relations are but the occasion or motive – and ultimately perhaps, we may say, the warrant – for the analogical attribution to things of selfness, efficiency, and design, but are not directly the source of the forms of thought that thus arise. On the other hand, it is to be noted also that such forms, although they have an independent source, would never apart from suitable material come into actual existence. If the followers of Hume err in their exclusive reliance upon "associations naturally and even necessarily generated by the order of our sensations" (J.S. Mill), the disciple of Kant errs also who relies exclusively on "the synthetic unity of apperception." The truth is that we are on the verge of error in thus sharply distinguishing the two at all; if we do so momentarily for the purpose of exposition it behoves us here again to remember that mind grows and is not made. The use of terms like "innate," a priori," "necessary," "formal," &c., without further qualification leads only too easily to the mistaken notion that all the mental facts so named are alike underived and original, independent not only of experience but of each other; whereas but for the forms of intuition the forms of thought would be impossible, -- that is to say, we should never have a self-consciousness at all if we had not previously learnt to distinguish occupied and unoccupied space, past and present in time, and the like. But, again, it is equally true that, if we could not feel and move as well as n receive impressions, and if experience did not repeat itself, we should never attain even to this level of spatial and temporal intuition. Kant shows a very lame and halting recognition of this dependence of the higher forms on the lower both in his schematism of the categories, and again in correcting in his Analytic the opposition of sense and understanding as respectively receptive and active with which he set out in his Aesthetic. Still, although what are called the subjective and objective factors of real knowledge advance together, the former is in a sense always a step ahead. We find again without us the permanence, individuality, efficiency, and adaptation we have found first of all within (comp. p. 56, b and d). But such primitive imputation of personality, though it facilitates a first understanding, soon proves itself faulty and begets the contradictions, which have been one chief motive to philosophy. We smile at the savage who thinks a magnet must need food and is puzzled that the horses in a picture remain for ever still; but few consider that underlying all common-sense thinking there lurks the same natural precipitancy. We attribute to extended things a unity which we know only as the unity of an unextended subject; we attribute to changes among these extended things what we know only when we act and suffer ourselves; and we attribute further both to them and their changes a striving for ends which we know only because we feel. In asking what they are, how they act, and why they are thus and thus, we assimilate them to ourselves, in spite of the differences which lead us by and by to see a gulf between mind and matter. Such instinctive analogies have, like other analogies, to be confirmed, refuted, or modified by further knowledge, i.e., by the very insight into things which these analogies have themselves made possible. That in their first form they were mythical, and that they could never gave been at all unless originated in this way, are considerations that make no difference to their validity, -- assuming, that is, that they admit, now or hereafter, of a logical transformation which renders them objectively valid. This legitimation is of course the business of philosophy; we are concerned only with the psychological analysis and origin of the conceptions themselves.

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