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Feeling

This brings us to the third element in the original classification — feeling (affect, emotion). And this, I think, enables us to solve our difficulties; it gives us a basis for a general descriptive account of mind, i.e., we can recognise “affects” as real qualities of mental processes (or, what comes to the same thing, as real mental processes), whatever relations, knowing, striving or other, they may have to other things.

McDougall (in Social Psychology) does something to suggest this view, but he makes a very unsound division of mental process into a cognitive (leading up, afferent) part, an emotional (central) part, and a conative (efferent) part — as if the process as a whole could have the relations of knowing and striving only by having a knowing part, etc., and as if the central part were not as definitely related to outside things as afferent and efferent nervous processes are. In this division, in fact, we find traces of cognitionalism and also of physiologism, i.e., of the kind of view which expresses mental facts in terms of the physiological processes to which they are related (as knowledge is called “sensory” because it is related to sense-organs) — though the rejection of physiologism does not imply that mental processes are not themselves physiological. Nevertheless, for McDougall, the central and most distinctively mental part of the process is emotional; and so, if it is mind that we regard as having the relations of knowing and striving, we may go on to express the position by saying that emotions (or feelings) know, emotions strive and, in general, interact with other things.

Interacting is, of course, something that all things can do; and it may be that the relations which we can in the end recognise as knowing and striving are not peculiar to mind at all (cf. Alexander's account of knowing as “compresence”), and that we have thought otherwise solely because we have thought into the mind's relations something of its own emotional quality. It is enough, however, for our present purpose that an emotional thing can have these relations; and from this point of view we should reject the cognitionalist formula of Freud about “an idea becoming charged with affect” and speak instead of a feeling finding an object.

Such expressions sound harsh, but only to ears attuned to cognitionalism. The real confusion comes from the opposite quarter, in the recognition of “reason”, “intellect”, “sensation” and so forth — as when McDougall, after making the instincts the native mental forces, introduces a complicating factor of reason,note instead of recognising that what reasons is simply a complex of the emotional activities he has already dealt with, and not a new faculty springing from nowhere. Once we have rejected “constitutive relations”, once we have seen that what knows and reasons must have qualities of its own, we can say that emotion is as likely to know as anything else; we cannot reject it as a possible knower merely because it is a quality, since we should be thrust back on the supposition of something which consists in its relations.




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The objection that feeling also is a relation comes from the same cognitionalist source. On the theory of mind as feeling it is not denied but asserted that feelings have relations and hence that we can be angry at, afraid of, pleased with, something or other (this being to say that we are angry, knowing something, or that our anger has an object, i.e., knows something, etc.). But to have a relation is not to be a relation. The term “feeling” has certainly been employed to signify some sort of “immediate experience” (erlebnis) in which knower and known are one. This appears in Alexander's use of the term “enjoyment”, and also in the use of the term “feeling” (“sensation” being sometimes substituted) by such thinkers as Bradley, but especially by James, who, in his Principles of Psychology, speaks of feelings of red, of green, etc., and again of feelings of and, but, etc. Such views fall with the rejection of relativism (the belief in constitutive relations), whilst at the same time they testify to a certain recognition of the “inwardness” of feeling. What should be admitted is that feelings (e.g., anger and fear) are qualitatively different from one another, though they still have the general feeling-quality in common. It will not surprise us then to find that, besides having similar relations to outside things, they also have different relations to these things, e.g., that they have different objects, that one seeks what another avoids, etc.

The thorough-going rejection of cognitionalist doctrine involves the recognition of the following facts: (a) that a mental process may exist in us without our knowing it (as when we find out afterwards that we were angry or afraid); (b) that a mental process may exist without knowing (as in what are called “nameless fears”); (c) that nothing mental is simple or passive, but that we have a vast complication of tendencies (tensions) which pass through one another, and become variously organised, in pursuits and aversions, strivings and capitulations, sentiments and interests of all descriptions; that “intellectual pursuits” are thus operations of the love of truth (the inquiring spirit), developing from original scattered curiosities — for we have no reason to suppose that all curiosities are parts of one curiosity, all angers the work of a single faculty of Anger, etc. We thus have a conception of mind as a society or economy of impulses or activities of an emotional character. This conception of our “motives”, conscious or unconscious, as emotions will, I am convinced, give coherence to psycho-analytic doctrine, and, though this is a point of less immediate importance, will be found to work in with the physiological examination of those brain processes (in their relation to bodily processes in general) which are “the seat of” the emotions, i.e., which are the mind.

We may here refer to the James-Lange theory (which is, of course, of a cognitionalist character) of emotions as “sensations of certain bodily processes”. In the first place, “organic sensations”, regarded as objects, are the organic processes themselves and thus are distinct from the special class of emotional or mental activities, even though the latter are also organic; e.g., if we mean by hunger what is going on in the stomach, it is not mental. On the other hand, if by “organic sensation” we mean


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what knows the organic process in question, then we have still to be informed where and what that knower is — what qualities it has. It is not, of course, the case that we are sorry because we weep, etc., but it may quite well be the case that, on a given occasion, we find out that we are sorry by noticing that we are weeping, find out that we are afraid by noting the condition of our breathing, and so on. We are not, as has been seen, bound to know directly what is going on in our mind, and in such cases we may discover it inferentially. But this inference depends on the previous observation of a connection between the two, between the (central) emotional process of sorrow and the (peripheral) process of weeping; which implies that we have a direct acquaintance with both terms of this relation.

The same circumstance, that we are not bound to know what is in our mind, accounts for the fact that many emotions have no names or are named only from their objects (e.g., as “love of” something), these objects, which the emotions themselves are interested in, being naturally what is known when they are operating, and attention, by other emotions, being directed to the former emotions only rarely — e.g., when they are obstructed. Progress in psychology may therefore be made by the actual discovery of the emotional character of sentiments or motives, i.e., of what is in our minds, as contrasted with what is before our minds, when we engage in certain pursuits.

These, however, are matters of detail. The main points are: (1) that knowing and striving, as relations, cannot be the character (“mentality”) of the mental; (2) that feelings, as qualitative (a point which is illustrated by the qualitative distinctions among feelings), are capable of characterising the mental — as well as of having relations to other things; (3) that we must assume that they do, that feeling is mentality, unless we are going to suppose that some entirely unsuspected character of mind has yet to come to light; but (a) as we have seen, there are multifarious suggestions that feeling is already, if only confusedly, recognised as the mental quality;note and (b) we do recognise and speak of minds and therefore we must already have recognised some mental quality. To say that we know mind only as “that whereby” certain effects are produced or arrangements made is to say that we do not know mind at all — for how, except by observation, do we know what sort of thing would have these effects or that there is a thing, of some peculiar kind, to have them? In fact the rejection of the belief in constitutive relations implies that to know a thing is to know some of its qualities. We are thus in a position to say that mind is feeling, and that it is such feelings that have objects.

Having this basis, we can go on to discuss how feelings develop and interact, how they are affected by the bodily organisation in general, and how by things outside the body, including feelings in other minds — in which connection McDougall's theory of “sympathetic induction” is of


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interest — and for this discussion we shall also have to take into account how they affect these other things. This discussion (including, of course, an account of what various feelings there are) will be psychology.

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