« 上一頁繼續 »
The Evolution of the Conscious Faculties. By J. VARENDONCK, D.Litt., D.Sc.
London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. 1923. Pp. 259. Price 18s. net.
This essay, as the title implies, is a genetic study of the conscious faculties, based on a biological conception of the problems of psychology. The author holds with Baldwin that the original type of all psychic process is the simple cycle: outer excitation-inner process-reaction to the outer world; he starts from this formula, and constantly returns to it as his argument develops.
His first two chapters deal with his distinction between reduplicative and synthetic memory, and with the latter as an element in perception. Reduplicative memory is the most primitive aspect of retention, and lies at the root of the preservation of the primitive organism. It is an anticipative process, although in itself only of use in relation to situations which have already been experienced. Repetition is not essential to its functioning; and it is an automatic function, for “the mind registers without the intervention of volition and...some remembrances come back uncalled for, nay, when we should better like not to recollect at all.” It is utilised at the higher levels of conscious life, as well as by the primitive organism; the products of synthetic memory being in their turn subject to the reduplicative process. Synthetical memory is the “function which registers a selected classification of experience,” or, again, may be defined as
an accumulation of mnemonic elements apt to become causative; that is, provoking the conception or the awakening of reduplicative
It involves not merely the positive selection of elements of experience, but also the negative aspect of the same function-the inhibition of irrelevant recollections. An illuminating parallel is drawn between reduplicative and synthetic memory on the one hand, and the protopathic and epicritic systems of sensibility of Head and Rivers, on the other. Varendonck shows further how both forms of memory are drawn upon in conceptual processes; synthetic memory makes it possible to use similar mnemonic elements from different situations, but reduplicative memory makes it possible for us to test our premeditated actions by unrolling the “ilm” of similar situations in the past. He emphasises the normality and genetic significance of the reduplicative form of memory, and evidently feels that this is his special contribution to the problems raised. As he remarks in the final summary, "At the lower stages of mental evolution reduplicative memory is responsible for automatic and reflex behaviour, but it is still of the first importance for the intellections at the top of the ladder.”
Having shown that both forms of memory function in perception, the author develops his view that perception and conception are the same phenomenon, both releasing an automatic flow of memorial elements; in the first case, how. ever, memory is set moving by an external excitation, whereas in the second the excitation is internal. He then turns to the problem of unconscious movements, offering some interesting examples of these. Human automatisms, he holds, are not fewer than those of simpler organisms, they are, rather, more varied and mobile. An acute discussion of the intimate relations of movement and perception, and movement and thought, follows, and the view is developed that repression of movement is a fundamental condition of thought, such repression being, of course, automatic and unconscious. Here the support of Ribot and Janet is invoked. The author might well have drawn also upon everyday psycho-analytic experience to illustrate his view that "the tendency towards movement diminishes when thought operates with wordsymbols instead of images of objects," and have shown that this tendency further diminishes when the word-symbols are abstract and technical rather than concrete and colloquial. It is comparatively easy to refer to banned topics in general or scientific terms; resistances are much more powerful against familiar, concrete terms, since these lie much nearer to the original divide between primitive gesture and formal symbolism, and are, indeed, felt to be a form of behaviour rather than an instrument of thought. Varendonck has, however, been strongly influenced throughout his study of the conscious processes by psycho-analytic method, and for this reason he is able to go on to the view that “the fore-conscious ideas which are not allowed to cross the threshold, and which repression does not succeed in sending back into the deeper layers of the unconscious, find their way to the muscular system, which is another way of saying that, for affective ideas and reduplicative recollections, the passage into motility is one alternative, whereas access into consciousness is the other.”
The discussion then proceeds to the problem of consciousness, a problem which, for Varendonck, is the question of how consciousness, which, in the lower animals is momentary and discontinuous, a mere flash, becomes almost continuous, and dominant, in man. He finds his answer in the multiplicity of human desires which are “so abundant that there are but few moments in the course of a day when sensations of objects come to him without immediately arousing a corresponding wish, which puts the psychic mechanism on the move." This leads him to the view that “will is constituted by all the wishes of man tending towards adaptation,” a definition which we confess we find more than a little tantalising, since it would seem to hold a good deal more psychology than the author actually brings out. Unfortunately the definitions offered are the weakest aspect of the essay, the power to focus an important and valuable movement of ideas in a clear, vivid and concise sentence being evidently wanting. We may instance the definition of intelligence as consisting in “the whole of the psychic operations, which in their turn consist in reviving certain recollections under the stress of wish or will most often to re-associate them--and to repress others which are not useful to the end in view.” And that of consciousness as “that part of intelligence which is organised for the reaction against the outer world, for the adaption to the non-ego.” The argument is, however, of more importance than the form of its summary, and it is clear that Varendonck in this volume emphasises some aspects of the biology of consciousness and intelligence which have not yet been fully worked out.
Some reference the work of Stout and Hobhouse, as amongst the most important English students of genetic psychology, would have been in place. And we should like to see Varendonck's view of perception and conception (as, for example, that perception includes an unconscious judgment”), brought into relation with Stout's analysis of the “ perceptual process,” and Hobhouse's "practical judgment.” Neither of these authors would agree that perception and conception are the same phenomenon, differing only in exciting conditions, although both Stout and Hobhouse would be at one with Varendonck in emphasising the continuity of the two processes.
It is, however, very suggestive to note the fertilising influence on genetic psychology of the facts which the psycho-analytic method has made available. Varendonck brings out very clearly, for instance, the general genetic significance of the process of repression, in the evolution of the conscious faculties.
An interesting point is his view that in the evolution of mind “the psychic accent has passed from the object to the conscious subject.” He bases this on the considerations that “conception is a synthesis in which the psychic accent bears on the mind—whereas in perception it carries on the outer world”; moreover, “wish, and then will, mark the initiative of the ego as definitely taken over from the non-ego”; and, finally, with self-consciousness, “the ego as cause becomes more important than the non-ego.” This is, of course, the same phenomenon which other students have described as the progressive integration of mind, which is the special characteristic of the human organism, and which leads to the “gradual independence from the objective reality”; in other words, to the mechanical control of Nature.
S. S. BRIERLEY.
Conflict and Dream. By W. H. R. Rivers, LL.D., F.R.S., with a Preface by
G. ELLIOT SMITH, F.R.S. pp. xi + 195. Price 12s. 6d. Psychology and Politics and other Essays. By W. H. R. RIVERS, LL.D., F.R.S.,
etc. pp. vii + 181. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1923. Price 12s. 6d.
From these two volumes we are in a position to estimate the value of Dr Rivers' cautious, methodical approach in the more problematical regions of science. To every question that engaged his mind he brought an attitude of austere doubt. As one reads his guarded, over-careful statements of facts, whose general acceptance would seem to raise them above the sphere of controversy, one cannot but receive an impression that Rivers was putting an almost violent check upon his own ardent and adventurous spirit. His attitude was the product of the logical empiricism of the natural science method of his day. He was in a sense wedded to science, and the human element of faith that was necessarily excluded from his scientific investigations found expression in a strong belief in and loyalty towards the scientific method of which he was so eminent an exponent.
Anyone who has ever had the privilege of personal contact with Rivers must have had a sense of almost tense eagerness, a spiritual radiation, as well as a quick personal sympathy, which gave a meaning to his words greater than their actual content. His personality glowed with a splendour that his reason could never express, and these works, behind their meticulous reasoning and sometimes almost finicky detail, reveal the same ardent spirit and the same deep sense of conflict.
It is, therefore, not without significance that the standpoint which Rivers selected as a basis for the interpretation of dreams was identified with the idea of conflict. The assumption that a dream is the expression of conflict is, of course, an a priori condition of its existence as a natural product, since everything in Nature arises from the conflict of opposing forces. As a spontaneous happening, arising independently of the will, the dream must be regarded as a process of energy, i.e. something emerging from a dynamic opposition, just
as a co-ordinated muscular movement presupposes a certain degree of tension between opposing muscle-groups. Hence the hypothesis which Rivers sets out to prove, and which his dreams naturally bear out, is really granted a priori as a metaphysical postulate. Similarly the wish-hypothesis of Freud is an inadequate restatement of Schopenhauer's "metaphysical will,” since libido is constantly 'willing' new forms of expression. But this energy being unconscious and, therefore, wholly independent of conscious will, is at once deprived of its own independent character when interpreted as a wish, i.e. something definitely related to the ego.
It would follow, therefore, that as soon as the dream is recognised as a product of Nature (for it is certainly not the product of human will) both the hypotheses which Freud and Rivers have laboured so well to prove are already granted in the very nature of our existence as natural beings. But it by no means follows that the interpretations based upon these hypotheses are therefore valid. For unconscious willing' or tendency may have a quite different objective from that of the conscious, and a state of conflict in the unconscious is not merely an attempt to provide a solution for some problematical situation in the external world. Similarly when Freud relates unconscious tendency to the ego by calling it a 'wish,' he thereby disregards the whole raison d'être of the unconscious as a compensatory function to consciousness.
It would seem that both these standpoints err in attempting to interpret the unconscious product in terms of the conscious function. The unconscious ‘standpoint' is not only compensatory but quite often antagonistic to that of the conscious, so that when it is interpreted as a mechanical product of repression, its possible positive value for life is obscured by its obvious negative value for the ego. The wish-hypothesis, therefore, is bound to ignore the possible validity of the unconscious 'standpoint' as such, since it assumes its contents to be merely a disguised and distorted rendering of aborted conscious motives. Similarly in Conflict and Dream there is an assumption that the dream (a product be it remembered of elemental subjective forces) is exclusively concerned with objective events, which clearly belong to the province of consciousness, and the possibility of a subjective interpretation in which the objective factors appear merely as symbols of certain subjective tendencies is entirely disregarded. It is, of course, not disputed that the dream can also bear an objective interpretation, but to ignore the other possibility means a denial of any other reality than the world of objective facts, which is absurd.
Accordingly, neither of these hypotheses can develop an interpretation of the dream which really adds anything of importance to the previous content of consciousness. The explanations are ingenious and often piquant, but they leave us unsatisfied. The dream obviously signifies more than the interpretation. But directly it is conceded that the unconscious individuality might have a point of view and a purpose which are at least as valid as the aims of the egocomplex, the task of relating the conscious standpoint to that of the dream becomes even more important than the effort to make the dream tally with a chosen hypothesis. The former would also appear to be the more scientific attitude. For the latter seems to regard the dream as an interesting specimen to collect and classify, just in so far as it can be shown to bear out the particular hypothesis, whereas the former perceives a living value in the dream, seeking to understand its nature, sense and purpose as a naturalist seeks to comprehend the living thing in relation to its own individual world. That the dreamexperience is manifestly a living process can hardly be denied, since the denizens of the dream possess spontaneity and individual vitality in a very high degree, and these qualities cannot be explained as mere derivatives or residua of objective experience. The whole question of interpretation would have small significance for us, were it not the expression of a profound human need to relate our conscious experience to that of the dream. To regard the dream, therefore, not as a living experience but as a mechanical product, is to rob it of its essential character, i.e. as an expression of the creative activity of the living process.
The dream-denizens are natural phenomena like the skylark or the alligator, and although we may learn a lot concerning the structure of these creatures by a process of scientific analysis, yet much may also hang upon the way in which we relate our existence to theirs.
A considerable part of Rivers' book is devoted to a careful and damaging criticism of the Freudian formula, but he was himself so conditioned by his own psychological type, that he failed to perceive that the formula he proposed to put in its place is just as arbitrary and one-sided. It is the product of a psychic process which, though certainly gifted with keener powers of criticism, is equally conditioned by a one-sided empiricistic attitude that precludes any appreciation of the prospective or symbolic significance of the dream.
This attitude is a product of the absolutist tendency in science which assumes that absolute cognition is attainable by the empirical route. The more modern school of psychology headed by Jung is based upon the principle of relativity, and maintains that any but a relativist attitude to the psychic process must inevitably lead to a chaos of conflicting hypotheses whose partial validity can be maintained only by fanatical dogmatism.
In his other book, Psychology and Politics, Rivers is on surer ground, although here again his empiricistic standpoint leads him constantly to overvalue the behaviourist method of approaching social and political problems. To take an obvious example, an immense concourse of people lashed into fury by the eloquence of an orator presents a phenomenon whose real nature is not adequately explained by comparing their behaviour with that of a flock of sheep, or by enumerating crude biological analogies in which the conduct of the herd is determined by that of the leader. It is undeniable that such analogies exist, but it is evident that Rivers did not apprehend the inevitable implications of his own argument. For if the analogy holds good, it means that the great collective ideas by which the orator sways his audience have their roots in the deep instinctive levels of the psyche, i.e. in the primordial images of the collective unconscious whose existence Rivers denies. The concept of suggestion
which he lays so much stress, merely denotes the factor of transmission, and is, therefore, wholly inadequate to account for a process of energy. But in order to account for the inexhaustible reserves of energy which, as we observed during the war, reveals itself in manifold forms whenever the fundamental collective ideas are deeply aroused, he would have been driven to adopt the concept of the collective unconscious, an intuitive acceptance wholly uncongenial to the behaviourist point of view. This concept not only embraces the primordial images (or function-engrams) but it also denotes the energy latent in these images which comes to the surface whenever the corresponding ideas are actively constellated.
The behaviourist method of approach is certainly useful for describing the ‘how of the political organism, but its value is biological rather than psychological, since it fails altogether to respond to the irrepressible 'why. There is