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or all of the various layers or strata of neurones in the cortex as providing the neural mechanism involved in the mental processes of abstraction, generalization and classification.
16. We regard the concurrent activation, of such engrams by both the essential thalamic organs and the various kinds of receptor organs as the neural processes concerned in immediate logical judgments and also in those mediated by a discursive mental process.
17. These views seem to us to open the way directly or indirectly to further research in the direction of
(a) A physiological explanation of memory' to complement the work which has been done by psychologists during the last thirty or forty years on the psychological aspect of this subject;
(b) A more specific application of the biologist's Recapitulation Theory to the mental development of Man;
(c) A closer investigation of the neural mechanism of sleep;
(d) An investigation of the neural mechanism of “suppression,' “dissociation,''conflict,' and 'psychological inversion,' and
(e) A study concurrently both psychological and neural of the phenomena of human error and self-deception, a subject which the great philosophic system makers have more or less tended to ignore, yet one which must form an important part of the prolegomena to any really philosophic theory of the state.
In presenting this outline of our subject and these conclusions we are fully conscious that many may think we have strayed too far over the boundary line between science and speculation and suffered the stream of our argument to become not a little contaminated by mixture with what some will regard as the turbid waters of metaphysics!. If this be so we may recall two sayings of Thomas H. Huxley: (1) that “the sensory operations have been, from time immemorial, the battleground of philosophers?,” and (2) that “metaphysical speculation follows as closely on physical theory as black care upon the horseman?.” Yet in these views we seem to reach a further stage on the pathway which will lead ultimately to a resolution of the diverse biological processes which underlie the relation of the abstraction which we call consciousness' to
1 "When we talk of psychology as a natural science, we must not assume that that means a sort of psychology that stands at last on solid ground. It means just the reverse: it means a psychology particularly fragile, and into which the waters of metaphysical criticism leak at every joint, a psychology all of whose elementary assumptions and data must be reconsidered in wider connections and translated into other terms.” Text Book of Psychology, by Wm. James, p. 467.
? On Sensation and the Unity of Structure of the Sensiferous Organs. (1879.)
Med. Psych. V
the neural parts and processes which furnish its anatomical and physiological sub-strata. But the dark Psyche of the Greeks will ever remain dark to the investigations of mortal man. The utmost we can do is to unravel little by little the physiological and biochemical processes by means of which the Psyche works and correlate these processes with the various neural organs in which they have their seat and through which they perform their functions.
It was forty-six years ago that Huxley declared the psycho-neural problem to be “the metaphysical problem of problems”; and, to go still further back than Huxley and to a complementary view, if Kant was right that the constitution of our minds predetermines the form which all our knowledge takes, then we think that to some such working of the neural vehicle of thought which we have outlined must be ascribed its part in all the ratiocinations of the philosophers, in all the refinements of the theologians, in the creations of the poets, the painters, the sculptors and the musicians, in the uttermost particles of the physicists and in the artistic abstractions of the mathematicians. The Newtonian method of analysis and subsequent synthesis will then be found not merely to be applicable to mental science but to be itself actually conditioned by the mode of working of the neural processes which underlie that science, and which furnish the sub-strata of all the phenomena amongst which we live and move and have our being.
It will be obvious that in a subject of such complexity, upon the study of which philosophy and science can hardly as yet be said to have fully entered, any theory or hypothesis at present put forward can at best be merely provisional, and will perhaps attain its most useful end by directing attention to a method of approaching the subject which, whatever its defects as here set forth, possesses at least the merit of recognizing that it will be only by considering synoptically and finding an integration of both sides of the problem-psychological and neuralthat any real success in its solution is likely to be achieved. And, in view of what Mr Santayana has happily termed “the many sided ignorance” to which in these days individuals are all reduced, it would seem that it will lie with workers in the diverse spheres of metaphysics, logic, psychology, neurology and even wider ranges of biology to test in every possible way the view here outlined, to supply its myriad needs of detail and to refashion it where faulty by means of the new light which will be shed upon it by our ever increasing knowledge. We believe that study on these lines, directed rigorously to the pursuit of truth will lead ultimately to an outlook on man not essentially different from that envisioned by the sages and seers of all historic times.
AN UNWARRANTED ACCRETION TO
THE FREUDIAN THEORY1
BY IAN D. SUTTIE.
Since it is plainly asserted by many advocates of the theory of Mental Recapitulation that it is merely an extention and completion of the “Biogenetic Law,' I wish to examine the value or utility of the Biological Theory, and to endeavour to ascertain how far it has the same value for psychology as it has or was supposed to have for biology.
The ‘Biogenetic Law' had, or promised, for biology the following advantages:
1. It supported the general theory of Evolution at a time when that theory was bitterly attacked.
2. It correlated a vast group of observed facts and suggested promising lines of enquiry.
3. It explained the embryonic appearance of non-adaptive phases and characters, at a time when the theory of selection by 'fitness' seemed to demand a functional explanation for everything. By regarding them as vestiges of ancestral adaptations, it explained away the apparent anomaly of the embryonic appearance and disappearance of characters like -lanugo' and brought these round-about and seemingly meaningless peculiarities of development into line with other vital processes as then conceived.
4. It promised to enable us to generalize from observed instances of onto-phylogenetic parallelism, to infer that all embryonic characters are recapitulatory and thus to 'reconstruct' phylogeny—a task which was the main interest of most biologists at the time when the Recapitulation Theory was at the zenith of its prestige.
5. The goal of Biology was to explain Evolution on the one hand and Development on the other. Recapitulation correlates these two hemispheres of biology; and thus in a way it became the central fact and the key problem of life. The Biogenetic Law discovered a causal connection between development and evolution which, plainly, could be no other than the compendium of evolution and the mainspring of development. Is it any wonder that the significance of this fact rather
Read before the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society on June 24th,
dazzled the biologists of that day and led them to select the evidence and strain their interpretations?
I will now deal with these five points, indicating how far biological opinion has changed in respect to each and how far each is valid for psychology as well as for biology.
1. The vogue of the Recapitulation Theory owed much to its association with triumphant Darwinism. This, though an important, was never a legitimate reason for accepting the Biogenetic Law. The Psychological Recapitulation Theory can certainly never assist our understanding of Evolution and consequently cannot and does not claim any heuristic validity on that ground.
2. The onto-phylogenetic parallelism is far less conspicuous and definite in regard to behaviour and function generally than it is in regard to structure. Though the descriptive utility of the Recapitulation formula is as great as ever for biology, I know of no facts sufficiently certain and well-defined to justify the introduction of this hypothesis into psychology. The parallelism between mental evolution and mental development is not obvious, nor is it sufficiently exact to justify us in postulating a ‘mechanical' causal connection. This being so, Mental Recapitulation does not form a natural starting point for further en. quiries as Organic Recapitulation promised to do. The Mental Theory carries an illusory promise of a biological explanation, thus obscuring the necessity for further psychological investigations.
If the evidence for mental recapitulation is convincing, is it not a curious fact that it is never adduced? Freud, in Totem and Taboo (1913), dealing with (as his main theme) the resemblance between infantile and archaic thought processes, never even mentions Recapitulation. Far otherwise, he develops in this work a theory of ‘Unconscious Tradition,' and in this way makes the introduction of the Biogenetic Law superfluous. At the time of writing he apparently felt no need to go
outside of psychology for an explanation of psychological facts. Only later, and in the most irritatingly casual and incidental way, does he appear to have considered it necessary to resort to biological interpretations.
In his Introductory Lectures (1915–17) we find his views in a form which presumably he regards as suitable to put before students—that is to say duly cautious and explicit.
Page 168. “In so far as each individual repeats in some abbreviated fashion during childhood the whole course of development of the human race, the reference (of dreams) is phylogenetic. I believe it is not impossible that we may be able to discriminate between that part of the latent mental processes which belongs to the early days of the individual and that which has it roots in the infancy of the race. It seems to me, for instance, that symbolism, a mode of expression that has never been individually acquired, may claim to be regarded as a racial heritage.
Page 197. “In considering the two developments undergone by the Ego and by the Libido we must emphasize an aspect which hitherto has received little attention (italics mine). Both of them are at bottom inheritances, abbreviated repetitions of the evolution undergone by the whole human race.... In the development of the libido this phylogenetic origin is readily apparent, I should suppose. Think how in one class of animals the genital apparatus is in the closest contact with the mouth, in another it is indistinguishable from the execretory mechanism, in another it is part of the organs of motility.... One sees in animals all the various perversions, ingrained, so to speak, in the form taken by their sexual organizations. Now the phylogenetic aspect is to some extent obscured in man by the circumstance that what is fundamentally inherited is nevertheless individually acquired anew,” etc.
Page 307. “In the place of effecting a change in the outer world they set up a change in the body itself; that is, an internal action instead of an external one, an adaptation instead of an activity-from a phylogenetic point of view again a very significant regression.”
Page 310. “All this seems to lead to but one impression, that childhood experiences of this kind (phantasies of seduction, castration, etc.) are in some way necessarily required by the neurosis, that they belong to its unvarying inventory. If they can be found in real events, well and good; but if reality has not supplied them they will be evolved out of hints,” etc. “Even to-day we have not succeeded in tracing any variation in the results according as phantasy or reality plays the greater part in these experiences.” “How is it to be explained that the same phantasies are always formed with the same content? I have an answer to this which I know will seem to you very daring. I believe that these primal phantasies...are a phylogenetic possession. In them the individual stretches out beyond it (his own) to the experience of past ages....The child in its phantasy simply fills out the gaps in its true individual experiences with true prehistoric experiences.”
As the lectures are didactic, these statements are presumably intended to be accepted literally. In Beyond the pleasure Principle Freud refers in unmistakable terms to recapitulation, not as a theory, but
unquestionable and accepted fact. Page 45: “We see that the germ-cell of a living animal is obliged to repeat in its development,