Studies in the Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling
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Evolutionary Psychology of Feeling
This work does not profess to be a treatiseon the subject of feeling, but merely aseries of studies, and rather tentative ones at that.I have attempted to deduce from the standpoint ofbiologic evolution the origin and development offeeling, and then to consider how far introspectionconfirms these results. I am well aware that Itraverse moot points—what points in psychologyare not moot?—and I trust that the position takenwill receive thorough criticism. I should be veryglad to have new facts adduced, whatever waythey may bear. I have no theory to defend,but the results offered are simply the best interpretationI have as yet been able to attain.
viSome of the material of this book has appearedduring the last ten years in the pages of Mind,Monist, Science, Philosophical Review and PsychologicalReview, but my contributions to theseperiodicals have in many cases been largely re-written.
Lake Forest, Illinois, U S.A.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|On the Introspective Study of Feeling||1|
|On Primitive Consciousness||12|
|Theories of Pleasure-Pain||35|
|The Relation of Feeling to Pleasure-Pain||48|
|Representation and Emotion||78|
|Fear as Primitive Emotion||93|
|The Differentiation of Fear||108|
|Surprise, Disappointment, Emotion of Novelty||163|
|Some Remarks on Attention||225|
|Induction and Emotion||282|
|The Æsthetic Psychosis||295|
|The Psychology of Literary Style||310|
|The Expression of Feeling||345|
ON THE INTROSPECTIVE STUDY OF FEELING
Of all the sciences psychology is, perhaps, the mostimperfect. If a science is a body of knowledgeobtained by special research and accepted by the generalconsensus of specialists, then psychology is so defectiveas to scarcely merit the name of science. This want ofconsensus is everywhere apparent, and must especiallyimpress any one who compares the lack of harmony inmanuals of psychology with the practical unanimity inmanuals of botany, geology, physics, and other sciences.Even in the most fundamental points there is no agreement,as will be evident in a most summary statement.
It is now something more than a century since thegeneral division of psychic phenomena into intellect, feelingand will, first came into repute, but still some psychologistsof note do not agree to this fundamental classification,but would unite feeling and will in a single order.As to the subdivisions of feeling and will we are confessedlywholly at sea. In intellect it is only on the lowerside, sensation and perception, that anything of greatscientific value has been accomplished; and even now itcannot be said that the classes of sensation have beenmarked off with perfect certainty. In the higher range ofintellect psychology can do scarcely more than accept2some ready-made divisions from common observation andlogic. And if so little has been settled in the comparativelysimple work of a descriptive classification of thefacts of mind, we may be assured that still less has beenaccomplished toward a scientific consensus for the lawsof mind. Weber’s law alone seems to stand on any securebasis of experiment, but its range and meaning are still farfrom being determined. Even the laws of the associationof ideas are still the subjects of endless controversy. Alsoin method there is manifestly the greatest disagreement.The physiological and introspective schools each magnifytheir own methods, sometimes so far as to discredit allothers. Physiological method has won for itself a certainstanding, indeed, but just what are its limitations is stillfar from being settled.
But the grievous lack of generally accepted results ismost apparent in the domain of feeling. The discussionof feeling in most manuals is very meagre and unsatisfactory.Professor James’s recent treatise, for instance,gives some 900 pages to the Intellect, and about 100pages each to Feeling and Will. There is little thoroughanalysis and no perfected inductive classification. Weoften, indeed, find essays of literary value which appealto the authority of literature. But to refer to Shakspeareor Goethe as psychological authorities, or in illustration orproof of psychological laws, is generally a doubtful procedure.The literary and artistic treatment of humannature is quite distinct from the scientific, and literatureand art cannot be said to be of much more value forpsychology than for physics, chemistry, or biology. Toappeal to the Bible or Shakspeare in matters psychological,is usually as misleading as to consult them forlight on geology or botany. Even the fuller treatises onthe subject of feeling rarely reach beyond literary methodand common observation, being for the most part a collectionand arrangement of the results of common sense,3accepting common definitions, terms, and classifications.Now, science is always more than common sense andcommon perception, it is uncommon sense; it is an insightand a prolonged special investigation which penetratesbeneath the surface of things and shows them in thoseinner and deeper relations which are entirely hid fromgeneral observation. Common views in psychology arelikely to be as untrustworthy as in physics or astronomy,or any other department. Science must, indeed, start withcommon sense, but it does not deserve the name of sciencetill it gets beyond it.
Again, the subject of pleasure, pain, and emotion, isusually discussed with considerable ethical or philosophicalbias. The whole subject of feeling has been so naturallyassociated with ethics and philosophy from the earliestperiod of Greek thought that a purely colourless scientifictreatment is quite difficult. Furthermore, feeling has beentoo often discussed from an a priori point of view, as in therigid following out of the Herbartian theory of feeling asconnected with hindrance or furtherance of representation.Still further, the physical side of emotion has been soemphasized by the physiological school as to distractattention from purely psychological investigation.
It is obvious, then, on the most cursory review, that verylittle has been accomplished in the pure psychology offeeling. Here is a region almost unexplored, and which,by reason of the elusiveness and obscurity of the phenomena,has seemed to some quite unexplorable. Dr.Nahlowsky truly remarks, that feeling is a mysterious world, and the entrance to it is dark as toHades of old.” Is there any way out of this darkness andconfusion? If the study of feeling is to become scientific,we must, I think, assume that all feeling is a biologicalfunction governed by the general laws of life and subjectin origin and development to the law of struggle for existence.Assuming this strictly scientific point of view, we4have to point out some difficulties in the way of the introspectivepsychology of feeling as compared with otherdepartments of biological science.
We trace directly and with comparative ease any physiologicalorgan and function from its simplest to its mostcomplex form; for example, in the circulation of