Ontario Normal School Manuals: Science of Education
by Ontario Ministry of Education
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse



Nature of Memory.—Mention has been made of the retentive power of the nervous system, and of a consequent tendency for mental images to revive, or re-present, themselves in consciousness. It must now be noted that such a re-presentation of former experiences is frequently accompanied with a distinct recognition that the present image or images have a definite reference to past time. In other words, the present mental fact is able to be placed in the midst of other events believed to make up some portion of our past experience. Such an ideal revival of a past experience, together with a recognition of the fact that it formerly occurred within our experience, is known as an act of memory.

Neural Conditions of Memory.—When any experience is thus reproduced, and recognized as a reproduction of a previous experience, there is physiologically a transmission of nervous energy through the same brain centres as were involved in the original experience. The mental reproduction of any image is conditioned, therefore, by the physical reproduction of a nervous impulse through a formerly established path. That this is possible is owing to the susceptibility of nervous tissue to take on habit, or to retain as permanent modifications, all impressions received. From this it is evident that when we say we retain certain facts in our mind, the statement is not in a sense true; for there is no knowledge stored up in consciousness as so many ideas. The statement is true, therefore, only in the sense that the mind is able to bring into consciousness a former experience by reinstating the necessary nervous impulses through the proper nervous arcs. What is actually retained, however, is the tendency to reinstate nervous movements through the same paths as were involved in the original experience. Although, therefore, retention is usually treated as a factor in memory, its basis is, in reality, physiological.

Memory Distinguished from Apperception.—The distinguishing characteristics of memory as a re-presentation in the mind of a former experience is evidently the mental attitude known as recognition. Memory, in other words, always implies a belief that the present mental state really represents a fact, or event, which formed a part of our past experience. In the apperceptive process as seen in an ordinary process of learning, on the other hand, although it seems to involve a re-presentation of former mental images in consciousness, this distinct reference of the revived imagery to past time is evidently wanting. When, for instance, the mind interprets a strange object as a pear-shaped, thin-rinded, many-seeded fruit, all these interpreting ideas are, in a sense, revivals of past experience; yet none carry with them any distinct reference to past time. In like manner, when I look at an object of a certain form and colour and say that it is a sweet apple, it is evidently owing to past experience that I can declare that particular object to be sweet. It is quite clear, however, that in such a case there is no distinct reference of the revived image of sweetness to any definite occurrence in one's former experience. Such an apperceptive revival, or re-presentation of past experience, because it includes merely a representation of mental images, but fails to relate them to the past, cannot be classed as an act of memory.

But Involves Apperceptive Process.—While, however, the mere revival of old knowledge in the apperceptive process does not constitute an act of memory, memory is itself only a special phase of the apperceptive process. When I think of a particular anecdote to-day, and say I remember having the same experience on Sunday evening last, the present mental images cannot be the very same images as were then experienced. The former images belonged to the past, while those at present in consciousness are a new creation, although dependent, as we have seen, upon certain physiological conditions established in the past. In an act of memory, therefore, the new presentation, like all new presentations, must be interpreted in terms of past experience, or by an apperceiving act of attention. Whenever in this apperceptive act there is, in addition to the interpretation, a further feeling, or sense, of familiarity, the presentation is accepted by the mind as a reproduction from past experience, or is recognized as belonging to the past. When, on the way down the street, for instance, impressions are received from a passing form, and a resulting act of apperceiving attention, besides reading meaning into them, awakens a sense of familiarity, the face is recognized as one seen on a former occasion. Memory, therefore, is a special mode of the apperceptive process of learning, and includes, in addition to the interpreting of the new through the old, a belief that there is an identity between the old and the new.


In a complete example of memory the following factors may be noted:

1. The original presentation—as the first perception of an object or scene, the reading of a new story, the hearing of a particular voice, etc.

2. Retention—this involves the permanent changes wrought in the nervous tissue as a result of the presentation or learning process and, as mentioned above, is really physiological.

3. Recall—this implies the re-establishment of the nervous movements involved in the original experiences and an accompanying revival of the mental imagery.

4. Recognition—under this heading is included the sense of familiarity experienced in consciousness, and the consequent belief that the present experience actually occurred at some certain time as an element in our past experience.


A. Physical Conditions.—One of the first conditions for an effective recollection of any particular experience will be, evidently, the strength of the co-ordinations set up in the nervous system during the learning process. The permanent changes brought about in the nervous tissue as a result of conscious experience is often spoken of as the physical basis of memory. The first consideration, therefore, relative to the memorizing of knowledge is to decide the conditions favourable to establishing such nervous paths during the learning process. First among these may be mentioned the condition of the nervous tissue itself. As already seen, the more plastic and active the condition of this tissue, the more susceptible it is to receive and retain impressions. For this reason anything studied when the body is tired and the mind exhausted is not likely to be remembered. It is for the same reason, also, that knowledge acquired in youth is much more likely to be remembered than things learned late in life. The intensity and the clearness of the presentation also cause it to make a stronger impression upon the system and thus render its retention more permanent. This demands in turn that attention should be strongly focused upon the presentations during any learning process. By adding to the clearness and intensity of any impressions, attention adds to the likelihood of their retention. The evident cause of the scholar's ability to learn even relatively late in life is the fact that he brings a much greater concentration of attention to the process than is usually found in others. Repetition also, since it tends to break down any resistance to the paths which are being established in the nervous system during the learning process, is a distinct aid to retention. For this reason any knowledge acquired should be revived at intervals. This is especially true of the school knowledge being acquired by young children, and their acquisitions must be occasionally reviewed and used in various ways, if the knowledge is to become a permanent possession. A special application of the law of repetition may be noted in the fact that we remember better any topic learned, say, in four half-hours put upon it at different intervals, than we should by spending the whole two hours upon it at one time.

Another condition favourable to recall is the recency of the original experience. Anything is more easily recalled, the more recently it has been learned. The physiological cause for this seems to be that the nervous co-ordinations being recent, they are much more likely to re-establish themselves, not having yet been effaced or weakened through the lapse of time.

B. Mental Conditions.—It must be noted, however, that although there is evidently the above neural concomitant of recall, yet it is not the nervous system, but the mind, that actually recalls and remembers. The real condition of recall, therefore, is mental, and depends largely upon the number of associations formed between the ideas themselves in the original presentation. According to the law of association, different ideas arise in the mind in virtue of certain connections existing between the ideas themselves. It would be quite foreign to our present purpose to examine the theories held among philosophic psychologists regarding the principle of the association of ideas. It is evident, however, that ideas often come to our minds in consequence of the presence in consciousness of a prior idea. When we see the name "Queenston Heights," it suggests to us Sir Isaac Brock; when we see a certain house, it calls to mind the pleasant evening spent there; and when we hear the strains of solemn music, it brings to mind the memories of the dead. Equally evident is the fact that anything experienced in isolation is much harder to remember than one experienced in such a way that it may enter into a larger train of ideas. If, for instance, any one is told to call up in half an hour telephone 3827, it is more than likely that the number will be forgotten, if the person goes on with other work and depends only on the mere impression to recall the number at the proper time. This would be the case also in spite of the most vivid presentation of the number by the one giving the order or the repetition of it by the person himself. If, however, the person says, even in a casual way, "Call up 1867," and the person addressed associates the number with the Confederation of the Dominion, there is practically no possibility of the number going out of his mind. An important mental condition for recall, therefore, is that ideas should be learned in as large associations, or groups, as possible. It is for the above reason that the logical and orderly presentation of the topics in any subject and their thorough understanding by the pupil give more complete control over the subject-matter. When each lesson is taught as a disconnected item of knowledge, there seems nothing to which the ideas are anchored, and recall is relatively difficult. When, on the other hand, points of connection are established between succeeding lessons, and the pupil understands these, one topic suggests another, and the mind finds it relatively easy to recall any particular part of the related ideas.


A. Involuntary.—In connection with the working of the principle of association, it is interesting to note that practically two types of recall manifest themselves. As a result of their suggestive tendency, the ideas before consciousness at any particular time have a tendency to revive old experiences which the mind may recognize as such. Here there is no effort on the part of the voluntary attention to recall the experience from the past, the operation of the law of association being, as it were, sufficient to thrust the revived image into the centre of the field of consciousness, as when the sight of a train recalls a recent trip.

B. Voluntary.—At times the mind may set out with the deliberate aim, or purpose, of reviving some forgotten experience. This is because attention is at the time engaged upon a definite problem, as when the student writing on his examination paper strives to recall the conditions of the Constitutional Act. This type is known as voluntary memory. Such a voluntary attempt at recall is, however, of the same character as the involuntary type in that both involve association. What the mind really strives for is to start a train of ideas which shall suggest the illusive ideas involved in the desired answer. Such a process of recall might be illustrated as follows:

Here a, b, c, d, e represent the forgotten series of ideas to be recalled. A, B, C, D, E represent other better known ideas, some of which are associated with the desired ones. By having the mind course over the better known facts—A, B, C, D, E, attention may finally focus upon the relation A, a, B, and thus start up the necessary revival of a, b, c, d, e.

Attention May Hinder Memory.—While active attention is thus able under proper conditions to reinforce memory, yet occasionally attention seems detrimental to memory. That such is the case will become evident from the preceding figure. If the experience a, b, c, d, e, is directly associated only with A, B, but the mind believes the association to centre in C, D, E, attention is certain to keep focused upon the sub-group—C, D, E. At an examination in history, for example, we may desire to recall the circumstances associated with the topic, "The Grand Remonstrance," and feel vaguely that this is connected with a revolutionary movement. This may cause us, however, to fix attention, not upon the civil war, but upon the revolution of 1688. In this case, instead of forcing a nervous impulse into the proper centres, attention is in reality diverting it into other channels. When, a few minutes later, we have perhaps ceased our effort to remember, the impulse seems of itself to stimulate the proper centres, and the necessary facts come to us apparently without any attentive effort.


It has been pointed out that in an act of memory there must be a recognition of the present experience as one which has occurred in a series of past events. The definite reference of a memory image to a past series is sometimes spoken of as localization. The degree to which a memory image is localized in the past differs greatly, however, in different cases. Your recollection of some interesting personal event in your past school history may be very definitely located as to time, image after image reinstating themselves in memory in the order of their actual occurrence. Such a similar series of events must have taken place when, by means of handling a number of objects, you learned different number and quantity relations or, by drawing certain figures, discovered certain geometrical relations. At the present time, however, although you remember clearly the general relations, you are utterly unable to recall the more incidental facts connected with their original presentation, or even localize the remembered knowledge at all definitely in past time. Nothing, in fact, remains as a permanent possession except the general, or scientific, truth involved in the experience.


A. Mechanical.—The above facts would indicate that in many cases the mind would find it more effective to omit from conscious recall what may appear irrelevant in the original presentation, and fix attention upon only the essential features. From this standpoint, two somewhat different types of memory are to be found among individuals. With many people, it seems as if a past experience must be revived in every detail. If such a one sets out to report a simple experience, such as seeing a policeman arrest a man on the street, he must bring in every collateral circumstance, no matter how foreign to the incident. He must mention, for example, that he himself had on a new straw hat, that his companion was smoking a cigar, was accompanied by his dog, and was talking about his crops, at the time they observed the arrest. This type is known as a mechanical memory. Very good examples of such will be seen in the persons of "Farmer Philip" in Tennyson's Brook and the "landlady" in Shakespeare's King Henry IV.

B. Logical.—In another type of memory, the mind does not thus associate into the memory experience every little detail of the original experience. The outstanding facts, especially those which are bound by some logical sequence, are the only ones which enter into permanent association. Such a type of mind, therefore, in recalling the past, selects out of the mass of experiences the incidents which will constitute a logical revival, and leaves out the trivial and incidental. This type is usually spoken of as a logical memory. This type of memory would, in the above incident, recall only the essential facts connected with the arrest, as the cause, the incidents, and the result.


Value of Memory.—It is evident that without the ability to reinstate past experiences in our conscious life, such experiences could not serve as intelligent guides for our present conduct. Each day, in fact, we should begin life anew so far as concerns intelligent adaptation, our acquired aptitude being at best only physical. It will be understood, therefore, why the ability to recall past experiences is accepted as an essential factor in the educative process. It will be noted, indeed, in our study of the history of education, that, at certain periods, the whole problem of education seemed to be to memorize knowledge so thoroughly that it might readily be reinstated in consciousness. Modern education, however, has thrown emphasis upon two additional facts regarding knowledge. These are, first, that the ability to use past knowledge, and not the mere ability to recall it, is the mark of a truly educated man. The second fact is that, when any experience is clearly understood at the time of its presentation, the problem of remembering it will largely take care of itself. For these reasons, modern education emphasizes clearness of presentation and ability to apply, rather than the mere memorizing of knowledge. It is a question, however, whether the modern educator may not often be too negligent concerning the direct problem of the ability to recall knowledge. For this reason, the student-teacher may profitably make himself acquainted with the main conditions of retention and recall.

The Training of Memory.—An important problem for the educator is to ascertain whether it is possible to develop in the pupil a general power of memory. In other words, will the memorizing of any set of facts strengthen the mind to remember more easily any other facts whatsoever? From what has been noted regarding memory, it is evident that, leaving out of consideration the physical condition of the organism, the most important conditions for memory at the time are attention to, and a thorough understanding of, the facts to be remembered. From this it must appear that a person's ability to remember any facts depends primarily, not upon the mere amount of memorizing he has done in the past, but upon the extent to which his interests and old knowledge cause him to attend to, understand, and associate the facts to be remembered. There seems no justification, therefore, for the method of the teacher who expected to strengthen the memories of her pupils for their school work by having them walk quickly past the store windows and then attempt to recall at school what they had seen. In such cases the boys are found to remember certain objects, because their interests and knowledge enable them to notice these more distinctly at the time of the presentation. The girls, on the other hand, remember other objects, because their interests and knowledge cause them to apprehend these rather than the others.


Apperception a Law of Learning.—In the study of the lesson process, Chapter III, attention was called to the fact that the interpretation which the mind places upon any presentation depends in large measure upon the mind's present content and interest. It is an essential characteristic of mind that it always attempts to give meaning to any new impression, no matter how strange that impression may be. This end is reached, however, only as the mind is able to apply to the presentation certain elements of former experience. Even in earliest infancy, impressions do not come to the organism as total strangers; for the organism is already endowed with instinctive tendencies to react in a definite manner to certain stimuli. As these reactions continue to repeat themselves, however, permanent modifications, as previously noted, are established in the nervous system, including both sensory and motor adjustments. Since, moreover, these sensory and motor adjustments give rise to ideas, they result in corresponding associations of mental imagery. As these neural and mental elements are thus organized into more and more complex masses, the recurrence of any element within an associated mass is able to reinstate the other elements. The result is that when a certain sensation is received, as, for instance, a sound stimulus, it reinstates sensory impressions and motor reactions together with their associated mental images, thus enabling the mind to assert that a dog is barking in the distance. In such a case, the present impression is evidently joined with, and interpreted through, what has already formed a part of our experience. What is true of this particular case is true of all cases. New presentations are always met and interpreted by some complex experiences with which they have something in common, otherwise the stimuli could not be attended to at all. This ability of the mind to interpret new presentations in terms of old knowledge on account of some connection they bear to that content, is known as apperception. In other words, apperception is the law of the mind to attend to such elements in a new presentation as possess some degree of familiarity with the already assimilated experience, although there may be no distinct recognition of this familiarity.


A. Present Knowledge.—Since the mind can apperceive only that for which it is prepared through former experience, the interpretation of the same presentations will be likely to differ greatly in different individuals. The book lying before him is to the young child a place in which to find pictures, to the ignorant man a source of mysterious information, and to the scholar a symbolic representation of certain mathematical knowledge. In the same manner, the object outside the window is a noxious weed to the farmer, a flower to the naturalist, and a medicinal plant to the physician or the druggist. From this it is clear that the interpretation of the impressions must differ according to the character of our present knowledge. In other words, the more important the aspects read into any presentation, the more valuable will be the present experience. Although when the child apperceives a stick as a horse, and the mechanic apperceives it as a lever, each interpretation is valuable within its own sphere, yet there is evidently a marked difference in the ultimate significance of the two interpretations. Education is especially valuable, in fact, in that it so adds to the experience of the child that he may more fully apperceive his surroundings.

B. Present Interests and Needs.—But apperception is not solely dependent upon present knowledge. The interests and needs of the individual reflect themselves largely in his apperceptive tendencies. While the boy sees a tent in the folded paper, the girl is more likely to find in it a screen. To the little boy the lath is a horse, to the older boy it becomes a sword. Feelings and interest, therefore, as well as knowledge, dominate the apperceptive process. Nor should this fact be overlooked by the teacher. The study of a poem would be very incomplete and unsatisfactory if it stopped with the apprehension of the ideas. There must be emotional appreciation as well; otherwise the study will result in entire indifference to it. In introducing, for instance, the sonnet, "Mysterious Night" (page 394, Ontario Reader, Book IV), the teacher might ask: "Why can we not see the stars during the day?" The answer to this question would put the pupils in the proper intellectual attitude to interpret the ideas of the poem, but that is not enough. A recall of such an experience as his contemplation of the starry sky on a clear night will put the pupil in a suitable emotional attitude. He is a rare pupil who has not at some time gazed in wonder at the immense number and magnificence of the stars, or who has not thought with awe and reverence of the infinite power of the Creator of "such countless orbs." A recall of these feelings of wonder, awe, and reverence will place the pupil in a suitable mood for the emotional appreciation of the poem. It is in the teaching of literature that the importance of a proper feeling attitude on the part of the pupil is particularly great. Without it the pupil is coldly indifferent toward literature and will never cultivate an enthusiasm for it.


Retention and Recall.—The facts already noted make it plain that apperception involves two important factors. First, apperception implies retention and recall. Unless our various experiences left behind them the permanent effects already noted in describing the retentive power of the nervous organism and the consequent possibility of recall, there could be no adjustment to new impressions on the basis of earlier experiences.

Attention.—Secondly, apperception involves attention. Since to apperceive is to bring the results of earlier experience to bear actively upon the new impression, it must involve a reactive, or attentive, state of consciousness; for, as noted in our study of the learning process, it is only by selecting elements out of former experience that the new impression is given definite meaning in consciousness. For the child to apperceive the strange object as a "bug-in-a-basket," demands from him therefore a process of attention in which the ideas "bug" and "basket" are selected from former experience and read into the new impression, thereby giving it a meaning in consciousness. A reference to any of the lesson topics previously considered will provide further examples of these apperceptive factors.



Nature of.—In our study of the various modes of acquiring individual notions, attention was called to the fact that knowledge of a particular object may be gained through a process of imagination. Like memory, imagination is a process of re-presentation, though differing from it in certain important regards.

1. Although imagination depends on past experiences for its images, these images are used to build up ideal representations of objects without any reference to past time.

2. In imagination the associated elements of past experience may be completely dissociated. Thus a bird may be imagined without wings, or a stone column without weight.

3. The dissociated elements may be re-combined in various ways to represent objects never actually experienced, as a man with wings, or a horse with a man's head.

Imagination is thus an apperceptive process by which we construct a mental representation of an object without any necessary reference to its actual existence in time.

Product of Imagination, Particular.—It is to be noted that in a process of imagination the mind always constructs in idea a representation of a particular object or individual. For instance, the ideal picture of the house I imagine situated on the hill before me is that of a particular house, possessing definite qualities as to height, size, colour, etc. In like manner, the future visit to Toronto, as it is being run over ideally, is constructed of particular persons, places, and events. So also when reading such a stanza as:

The milk-white blossoms of the thorn Are waving o'er the pool, Moved by the wind that breathes along, So sweetly and so cool;

if the mind is able to combine into a definite outline of a particular situation the various elements depicted, then the mental process of the reader is one of imagination. It is not true, of course, that the particular elements which enter into such an ideal representation are always equally vivid. Yet one test of a person's power of imagination is the definiteness with which the mind makes an ideal representation stand out in consciousness as a distinct individual.


A. Passive.—In dissociating the elements of past experience and combining them into new particular forms, the mind may proceed in two quite different ways. In some cases the mind seemingly allows itself to drift without purpose and almost without sense, building up fantastic representations of imaginary objects or events. This happens especially in our periods of day-dreaming. Here various images, evidently drawn from past experience, come before consciousness in a spontaneous way and enter into most unusual forms of combination, with little regard even to probability. In these moods the timid lad becomes a strong hero, and his rustic Audrey, a fair lady, for whose sake he is ever performing untold feats of valour. Here the ideas, instead of being selected and combined for a definite purpose through an act of voluntary attention, are suggested one after the other by the mere law of association. Because in such fantastic products of the imagination the various images appear in consciousness and combine themselves without any apparent control or purpose, the process is known as passive imagination, or phantasy. Such a type, it is evident, will have little significance as an actual process of learning.

B. Active, or Constructive.—Opposed to the above type is that form of imagination in which the mind proceeds to build up a particular ideal representation with some definite purpose, or end, in view. A student, for example, who has never seen an aeroplane and has no direct knowledge of the course to be traversed, may be called upon in his composition work to describe an imaginary voyage through the air from Toronto to Winnipeg. In such an act of imagination, the selecting of elements to enter into the ideal picture must be chosen with an eye to their suitability to the end in view. When also a child is called upon in school to form an ideal representation of some object of which he has had no direct experience, as for instance, a mental picture of a volcano, he must in the same way, under the guidance of the teacher, select and combine elements of his actual experience which are adapted to the building up of a correct mental representation of an actual volcano. This type of imagination is known as active, or constructive, imagination.

Factors in Constructive Imagination.—In such a purposeful, or active, process of imagination the following factors may be noticed:

1. The purpose, end, or problem calling for the exercise of the imagination.

2. A selective act of attention, in which the fitness or unfitness of elements of past experience, or their adaptability to the ideal creation, is realized.

3. A relating, or synthetic, activity combining the selected elements into a new ideal representation.


Imagination in Education.—One important application of imagination in school work is found in connection with the various forms of constructive occupation. In such exercises, it is possible to have the child first build up ideally the picture of a particular object and then have him produce it through actual expression. For example, a class which has been taught certain principles of cutting may be called upon to conceive an original design for some object, say a valentine. Here the child, before proceeding to produce the actual object, must select from his knowledge of valentines certain elements and interpret them in relation to his principles of cutting. This ideal representation of the intended object is, therefore, a process of active, or constructive, imagination. In composition, also, the various events and situations depicted may be ideal creations to which the child gives expression in language. In geography and nature study likewise, constant use must be made of the imagination in gaining a knowledge of objects which have never come within the actual experience of the child. In science there is a further appeal to the child's imagination. When, for instance, he studies such topics as the law of gravity, chemical affinity, etc., the imagination must fill in much that falls outside the sphere of actual observation. In history and literature, also, the student can enter into the life and action of the various scenes and events only by building up ideal representations of what is depicted through the words of the author.

Imagination in Practical Life.—In addition to the large use of constructive imagination in school work, this process will be found equally important in the after affairs of life. It is by use of the imagination that the workman is able to see the changes we desire made in the decoration of the room or in the shape of the flower-beds. It is by the use of imagination, also, that the general is able to outline the plan of campaign that shall lead his army to victory. Without imagination, therefore, the mind could not set up those practical aims toward the attainment of which most of life's effort is directed. In the dominion of conduct, also, imagination has its important part to play. It is by viewing in his imagination the effect of the one course of action as compared with the other, that man finally decides what constitutes the proper line of conduct. Even when indifferent as to his moral conduct, man pictures to himself what his friends may say and think of certain lines of action. For the enjoyment of life, also, the exercise of imagination has a place. It is by filling up the present with ideals and hopeful anticipations for the future, that much of the monotony of our work-a-day hours is relieved.

Development of Imagination.—A prime condition of a creative imagination is evidently the possession of an abundance of mental materials which may be dissociated and re-combined into new mental products. These materials, of course, consist of the images and ideas retained by the mind from former experiences. One important result, therefore, of providing the young child with a rich store of images of sight, sound, touch, movement, etc., is that it provides his developing imagination with necessary materials. But the mere possession of abundant materials in the form of past images will not in itself develop the imagination. Here, as elsewhere, it is only by exercising imagination that ability to imagine can be developed. Opportunity for such an exercise of the imagination, moreover, may be given the child in various ways. As already noted, a chief function of play is that it stimulates the child to use his imagination in reconstructing the objects about him and clothing them with many fancied attributes. In supplementary reading and story work, also, the imagination is actively exercised in constructing the ideal situations, as they are being presented in words by the book or the teacher. Nature study, likewise, by bringing before the child the secret processes of nature, as noting, for instance, the life history of the butterfly, the germination of seeds, etc., will call upon him to use his imagination in various ways. On the other hand, to deprive a young child of all such opportunities will usually result in preventing a proper development of the imagination.



Nature of Thinking.—In the study of general method, as well as in that of the foregoing mental processes, it has been taken for granted that our minds are capable of identifying different objects on the basis of some common feature or features. This tendency of the mind to identify objects and group individual things into classes, depends upon its capacity to detect similarity and difference, or to make comparisons. When the mind, in identifying objects, events, qualities, etc., discovers certain relations between its various states, the process is especially known as that of thinking. In its technical sense, therefore, thought implies a more or less explicit apprehension of relation.

Thinking Involved in all Conscious States.—It is evident, however, that every mental process must involve thinking, or a grasping of relations. When, by my merely touching an object, my mind perceives it is an apple, this act of perception, as already seen, takes place because elements of former experience come back as associated factors. This implies, evidently, that the mind is here relating elements of its past experience with the present touch sensation. Perception of external objects, therefore, implies a grasping of relations. In the same way, if, in having an experience to-day, one recognizes it as identical with a former experience, he is equally grasping a relation. Every act of memory, therefore, implies thinking. Thus in all forms of knowledge the mind is apprehending relations; for no experience could have meaning for the mind except as it is discriminated from other experiences. In treating thinking as a distinct mental process, however, it is assumed that the objects of sense perception, memory, etc., are known as such, and that the mind here deals more directly with the relations in which ideas stand one to another. As a mental process, thinking appears in three somewhat distinct forms, known as conception, judgment, and reasoning.


The Abstract Notion.—It was seen that at least in adult life, the perception of any object, as this particular orange, horse, cow, etc., really includes a number of distinct images of quality synthesised into the unity of a particular idea or experience. Because of this union of a number of different sensible qualities in the notion of a single individual, the mind may limit its attention upon a particular quality, or characteristic, possessed by an object, and make this a distinct problem of attention. Thus the mind is able to form such notions as length, roundness, sweetness, heaviness, four-footedness, etc. When such an attribute is thought of as something distinct from the object, the mental image is especially known as an abstract idea, or notion, and the process as one of abstraction.

The Class Notion.—One or more of such abstracted qualities may, moreover, be recognized as common to an indefinite number of objects. For instance, in addition to its ability to abstract from the perception of a dog, the abstract notions four-footedness, hairy, barking, etc., the mind further gives them a general character by thinking of them as qualities common to an indefinite number of other possible individuals, namely, the class four-footed, hairy, barking objects. Because the idea representing the quality or qualities is here accepted by the mind as a means of identifying a number of objects, the idea is spoken of as a class notion, and the process as one of classification, or generalization. Thus it appears that, through its ability to detect sameness and difference, or discover relations, the mind is able to form two somewhat different notions. By mentally abstracting any quality and regarding it as something distinct from the object, it obtains an abstract notion, as sweetness, bravery, hardness, etc.; by synthesising and symbolizing the images of certain qualities recognized in objects, it obtains a general, or class, notion by which it may represent an indefinite number of individual things as, triangle, horse, desert, etc. Thus abstract notions are supposed to represent qualities; class notions, things. Because of its reference to a number of objects, the class notion is spoken of especially as a general notion, and the process of forming the notion as one of generalization. These two types of notions are technically known as concepts, and the process of their formation as one of conception.

Formal Analysis of Process.—At this point may be recalled what was stated in Chapter XV concerning the development of a class notion. Mention was there made of the theory that in the formation of such concepts, or class notions, as cow, dog, desk, chair, adjective, etc., the mind must proceed through certain set stages as follows:

1. Comparison: The examination of a certain number of particular individuals in order to discover points of similarity and difference.

2. Abstraction: The distinguishing of certain characteristics common to the objects.

3. Generalization: The mental unification, or synthesis, of these common characteristics noted in different individuals into a class notion represented by a name, or general term.

But Conception is Involved in Perception.—From what has been seen, however, it is evident that the development of our concepts does not proceed in any such formal way. If the mind perceives an individual object with any degree of clearness, it must recognize the object as possessing certain qualities. If, therefore, the child can perceive such an object as a dog, it implies that he recognizes it, say, as a hairy, four-footed creature. To recognize these qualities, however, signifies that the mind is able to think of them as something apart from the object, and the child thus has in a sense a general notion even while perceiving the particular dog. Whenever he passes to the perception of another dog, he undoubtedly interprets this with the general ideas already obtained from this earlier percept of a dog. To say, therefore, that to gain a concept he compares the qualities found in several individual things is not strictly true, for if his first percept becomes a type by which he interprets other dogs, his first experience is already a concept. What happens is that as this concept is used to interpret other individuals, the person becomes more conscious of the fact that his early experience is applicable to an indefinite number of objects. So also, when an adult first perceives an individual thing, say the fruit of the guava, he must apprehend certain qualities in relation to the individual thing. Thereupon his idea of this particular object becomes in itself a copy for identifying other objects, or a symbol by which similar future impressions may be given meaning. In this sense the individual idea, or percept, will serve to identify other particular experiences. Such being the case, this early concept of the guava has evidently required no abstraction of qualities beyond apprehending them while perceiving the one example of the fruit. This, however, is but to say that the perception of the guava really implied conception.

Comparison of Individuals Necessary for Correct Concepts.—It is, of course, true that the correctness of the idea as a class symbol can be verified only as we apply it in interpreting a number of such individual things. As the person meets a further number of individuals, he may even discover the presence of qualities not previously recognized. A child, for instance, may have a notion of the class triangle long before he discovers that all triangles have the property of containing two right angles. When this happens, he will later modify his first concept by synthesising into it the newly discovered quality. Moreover, if certain features supposed to be common are later found to be accidental, if, for instance, a child's concept of the class fish includes the quality always living in water, his meeting with a flying fish will not result in an utterly new concept, but rather in a modification of the present one. Thus the young child, who on seeing the Chinese diplomat, wished to know where he had his laundry, was not without a class concept, although that concept was imperfect in at least one respect.

Concept and Term.—A point often discussed in connection with conception is whether a general notion can be formed without language. By some it is argued that no concept could exist in the mind without the name, or general term. It was seen, however, that our first perception of any object becomes a sort of standard by which other similar experiences are intercepted, and is, therefore, general in character. From this it is evident that a rudimentary type of conception exists prior to language. In the case of the young child, as he gains a mental image of his father, the experience evidently serves as a centre for interpreting other similar individuals. We may notice that as soon as he gains control of language, other men are called by the term papa. This does not imply an actual confusion in identity, but his use of the term shows that the child interprets the new object through a crude concept denoted by the word papa. It is more than probable, moreover, that this crude concept developed as he became able to recognize his father, and had been used in interpreting other men before he obtained the term, papa. On the other hand, it is certain that the term, or class name, is necessary to give the notion a definite place in consciousness.


It will appear from the foregoing that a concept presents the following factors for consideration:

1. The essential quality or qualities found in the individual things, and supposed to be abstracted sooner or later from the individuals.

2. The concept itself, the mental image or idea representative of the abstracted quality; or the unification of a number of abstracted qualities, when the general notion implies a synthesis of different qualities.

3. The general term, or name.

4. The objects themselves, which the mind can organize into a class, because they are identified as possessing common characteristics. When, however, a single abstracted quality is taken as a symbol of a class of objects, for example, when the quality bitterness becomes the symbol for the class of bitter things, there can be no real distinction between the abstracted quality and the class concept. In other words, to fix attention upon the quality bitterness as a quality distinct from the object in which it is found, is at the same time to give it a general character, recognizing it as something which may be found in a number of objects—the class bitter things. Here the abstract term is in a sense a general notion representative of a whole class of objects which agree in the possession of the quality.

Intension of Concepts.—Certain of our general notions are, however, much more complex than others. When a single attribute such as four-footedness is generalized to represent the class four-footed objects, the notion itself is relatively simple. In other words, a single property is representative of the objects, and in apprehending the members of the class all other properties they chance to possess may be left out of account. In many cases, however, the class notion will evidently be much more complex. The notion dog, for instance, in addition to implying the characteristic four-footedness, may include such qualities as hairy, barking, watchful, fearless, etc. This greater or less degree of complexity of a general notion is spoken of as its intensity. The notion dog, for instance, is more intensive than the notion four-footed animals; the notion lawyer, than the notion man.

Extension of Concepts.—It is to be noted further that as a notion increases in intension it becomes limited to a smaller class of objects. From this standpoint, notions are said to differ in extension. The class lawyer, for instance, is not so extensive as the class man; nor the class dog, as the class four-footed objects. It will appear from the above that an abstract notion viewed as a sign of a class of objects is distinguished by its extension, while a class notion, so far as it implies a synthesis of several abstracted qualities, is marked rather by its intension.


So far as school lessons aim to establish and develop correct class notions in the minds of the pupils, three somewhat distinct types of work may be noted:


In some lessons no attempt is made to develop an utterly new class notion, or concept; the pupils in fact may already know the class of objects in a general way and be acquainted with many of their characteristics. The object of the lesson is, therefore, to render the concept more scientific by having it include the qualities which essentially mark it as a class and especially separate it from other co-ordinate classes. In studying the grasshopper; for instance, in entomology, the purpose is not to give the child a notion of the insect in the ordinary sense of the term. This the pupil may already have. The purpose is rather to enable him to decide just what general characteristics distinguish this from other insects. The lesson may, therefore, leave out of consideration features which are common to all grasshoppers, simply because they do not enter into a scientific differentiation of the class.


In many lessons the aim seems to be chiefly to enlarge certain concepts by adding to their intensiveness. The pupil, for instance, has a scientific concept of a triangle, that is, one which enables him to distinguish a triangle from any other geometrical figure. He may, however, be led to see further that the three angles of every triangle equal two right angles. This is really having him discover a further attribute in relation to triangles, although this knowledge is not essential to the concept as a symbol of the members of the class. In the same way, in grammar the pupil is taught certain attributes common to verbs, as mood and tense, although these are not essential attributes from the standpoint of distinguishing the verb as a special class of words.


A. Presentation of Unknown Individuals.—In many lessons the chief object seems to be, however, to build up a new concept in the mind of the child. This would be the case when the pupil is presented with a totally unknown object, say a platypus, and called upon to examine its characteristics. In such lessons two important facts should be noticed. First, the child finds seemingly little difficulty in accepting a single individual as a type of a class, and is able to carry away from the lesson a fairly scientific class notion through a study of the one individual. In this regard the pupil but illustrates what has been said of the ability of the child to use his early percepts as standards to interpret other individuals. The pupil is able the more easily to form this accurate notion, because he no doubt has already a store of abstract notions with which to interpret the presentation, and also because his interest and attention is directed into the proper channels by the teacher.

B. Division of Known Classes.—A second common mode of developing new concepts in school work is in breaking up larger classes into co-ordinate sub-classes. This, of course, involves the developing of new concepts to cover these sub-classes. In such cases, however, the new notions are merely modified forms of the higher class notion. When, for example, the pupil gains general notions representative of the classes, proper noun and common noun, the new terms merely add something to the intension of the more extensive term noun. This will be evident by considering the difference between the notions noun and proper noun. Both agree in possessing the attribute used to name. The latter is more intensive, however, because it signifies used to name a particular object. Although in such cases the lesson seems in a sense to develop new general notions, they represent merely an adding to the intension of a notion already possessed by the child.

Use of the Term.—A further problem regarding the process of conception concerns the question of the significance of a name. When a person uses such a term as dog, whale, hepatica, guava, etc., to name a certain object, what is the exact sense, or meaning, in which the name is to be applied? A class name, when applied scientifically to an object, is evidently supposed to denote the presence in it of certain essential characteristics which belong to the class. It is clear, however, that the ordinary man rarely uses these names with any scientific precision. A man can point to an object and say that it is a horse, and yet be ignorant of many of the essential features of a horse. In such cases, therefore, the use of the name merely shows that the person considers the object to belong to a certain class, but is no guarantee that he is thinking of the essential qualities of the class. It might be said, therefore, that a class term is used for two somewhat different purposes, either to denote the object merely, or to signify scientifically the attributes possessed by the object. It is in the second respect that danger of error in reasoning arises. So far as a name represents the attributes of a class, it will signify for us just those attributes which we associate with that class. So long, therefore, as the word fish means to us an animal living in the water, we will include in the class the whale, which really does not belong to the class, and perhaps exclude from the class the flying fish, although it is scientifically a member of the class.


It has been noted that, when man discovers common characteristics in a number of objects, he tends on this basis to unite such objects into a class. It is to be noted in addition, however, that in the same manner he is also able, by examining the characteristics of a large class of objects, to divide these into smaller sub-classes. Although, for example, we may place all three-sided figures into one class and call them triangles, we are further able to divide these into three sub-classes owing to certain differences that may be noted among them. Thus an important fact regarding classification is that while a class may possess some common quality or qualities, yet its members may be further divided into sub-classes and each of these smaller classes distinguished from the others by points of difference. Owing to this fact, there are two important elements entering into a scientific knowledge of any class, first, to know of what larger class it forms a part, and secondly, to know what characteristics distinguish it from the other classes which go with it to make up this larger class. To know the class equilateral triangle, for instance, we must know, first, that it belongs to the larger class triangle, and secondly, that it differs from other classes of triangles by having its three sides equal. For this reason a person is able to know a class scientifically without knowing all of its common characteristics. For instance, the large class of objects known as words is subdivided into smaller classes known as parts of speech. Taking one of these classes, the verb, we find that all verbs agree in possessing at least three common characteristics, they have power to assert, to denote manner, and to express time. To distinguish the verb, however, it is necessary to note only that it is a word used to assert, since this is the only characteristic which distinguishes it from the other classes of words. When, therefore, we describe any class of objects by first naming the larger class to which it belongs, and then stating the characteristics which distinguish it from the other co-ordinate classes, we are said to give a definition of the class, or to define it. The statement, "A trimeter is a verse of three measures," is a definition because it gives, first, the larger class (verse) to which the trimeters belong, and secondly, the difference (of three measures) which distinguishes the trimeter from all other verses. The statement, "A binomial is an algebraic expression consisting of two terms," is a definition, because it gives, first, the larger class (algebraic expression) to which binomials belong, and secondly, the difference (consisting of two terms) which distinguishes binomials from other algebraic expressions.


Nature of Judgment.—A second form, or mode, of thinking is known as judgment. Our different concepts were seen to vary in their intension, or meaning, according to the number of attributes suggested by each. My notion triangle may denote the attributes three-sided and three-angled; my notion isosceles triangle will in that case include at least these two qualities plus equality of two of the sides. This indicates that various relations exist between our ideas and may be apprehended by the mind. When a relation between two concepts is distinctly apprehended in thought, or, in other words, when there is a mental assertion of a union between two ideas, or objects of thought, the process is known as judgment. Judgment may be defined, therefore, as the apprehension, or mental affirmation, of a relation between two ideas. If the idea, or concept, heaviness enters as a mental element into my idea stone, then the mind is able to affirm a relation between these concepts in the form, "Stone is heavy." In like manner when the mind asserts, "Glass is transparent" or "Horses are animals," there is a distinct apprehension of a relation between the concepts involved.

Judgment Distinguished from Statement.—It should be noted that judgment is the mental apprehension of a relation between ideas. When this relation is expressed in actual words, it is spoken of as a proposition, or a predication. A proposition is, therefore, the statement of a judgment. The proposition is composed of two terms and the copula, one term constituting the subject of the proposition and the other the predicate. Although a judgment may often be expressed in some other form, it can usually be converted into the above form. The proposition, "Horses eat oats," may be expressed in the form, "Horses are oat-eaters"; the proposition, "The sun melts the snow," into the form, "The sun is a-thing-which-melts-snow."

Relation of Judgment to Conception.—It would appear from the above examples that a judgment expresses in an explicit form the relations involved within the concept, and is, therefore, merely a direct way of indicating the state of development of any idea. If my concept of a dog, for example, is a synthesis of the qualities four-footed, hairy, fierce, and barking, then an analysis of the concept will furnish the following judgments:

{ A four-footed thing. { A hairy thing. A dog is { A fierce thing. { A barking thing.

Because in these cases a concept seems necessary for an act of judgment, it is said that judgment is a more advanced form of thinking than conception. On the other hand, however, judgment is implied in the formation of a concept. When the child apprehends the dog as a four-footed object, his mind has grasped four-footedness as a quality pertaining to the strange object, and has, in a sense, brought the two ideas into relation. But while judgment is implied in the formation of the concept, the concept does not bring explicitly to the mind the judgments it implies. The concept snow, for instance, implies the property of whiteness, but whiteness must be apprehended as a distinct idea and related mentally with the idea snow before we can be said to have formed, or thought, the judgment, "Snow is white." Judgment is a form of thinking separate from conception, therefore, because it does thus bring into definite relief relations only implied in our general notions, or concepts. One value of judgment is, in fact, that it enables us to analyse our concepts, and thus note more explicitly the relations included in them.

Universal and Particular Judgments.—Judgments are found to differ also as to the universality of their affirmation. In such a judgment as "Man is mortal," since mortality is viewed as a quality always joined to manhood, the affirmation is accepted as a universal judgment. In such a judgment as "Men strive to subdue the air," the two objects of thought are not considered as always and necessarily joined together. The judgment is therefore particular in character. All of our laws of nature, as "Air has weight," "Pressure on liquids is transmitted in every direction," or "Heat is conducted by metals," are accepted as universal judgments.

Errors in Judgment due to: A. Faulty Concepts.—It may be seen from the foregoing that our judgments, when explicitly grasped by the mind and predicated in language, reflect the accuracy or inaccuracy of our concepts. Whatever relations are, as it were, wrapped up in a concept may merge at any time in the form of explicit judgments. If the fact that the only Chinamen seen by a child are engaged in laundry work causes this attribute to enter into his concept Chinaman, this will lead him to affirm that the restaurant keeper, Wan Lee, is a laundry-man. The republican who finds two or three cases of corruption among democrats, may conceive corruption as a quality common to democrats and affirm that honest John Smith is corrupt. Faulty concepts, therefore, are very likely to lead to faulty judgments. A first duty in education is evidently to see that children are forming correct class concepts. For this it must be seen that they always distinguish the essential features of the class of objects they are studying. They must learn, also, not to conclude on account of superficial likeness that really unlike objects belong to the same class. The child, for instance, in parsing the sentence, "The swing broke down," must be taught to look for essential characteristics, and not call the word swing a gerund because it ends in "ing"; which, though a common characteristic of gerunds, does not differentiate it from other classes of words. So, also, when the young nature student notes that the head of the spider is somewhat separated from the abdomen, he must not falsely conclude that the spider belongs to the class insects. In like manner, the pupil must not imagine, on account of superficial differences, that objects really the same belong to different classes, as for example, that a certain object is not a fish, but a bird, because it is flying through the air; or that a whale is a fish and not an animal, because it lives in water. The pupil must also learn to distinguish carefully between the particular and universal judgment. To affirm that "Men strive to subdue the air," does not imply that "John Smith strives to subdue the air." The importance of this distinction will be considered more fully in our next section.

B. Feeling.—Faulty concepts are not, however, the only causes for wrong judgments. It has been noted already that feeling enters largely as a factor in our conscious life. Man, therefore, in forming his judgments, is always in danger of being swayed by his feelings. Our likes and dislikes, in other words, interfere with our thinking, and prevent us from analysing our knowledge as we should. Instead, therefore, of striving to develop true concepts concerning men and events and basing our judgments upon these, we are inclined in many cases to allow our judgments to be swayed by mere feeling.

C. Laziness.—Indifference is likewise a common source of faulty judgments. To attend to the concept and discover its intension as a means for correct judgment evidently demands mental effort. Many people, however, prefer either to jump at conclusions or let others do their judging for them.

Sound Judgments Based on Scientific Concepts.—To be able to form correct judgments regarding the members of any class, however, the child should know, not only its common characteristics, but also the essential features which distinguish its members from those of co-ordinate classes. To know adequately the equilateral triangle, for instance, the pupil must know both the features which distinguish it from other triangles and also those in which it agrees with all triangles. To know fully the mentha family of plants, he must know both the characteristic qualities of the family and also those of the larger genus labiatae. From this it will be seen that a large share of school work must be devoted to building up scientific class notions in the minds of the pupils. Without this, many of their judgments must necessarily be faulty. To form such scientific concepts, however, it is necessary to relate one concept with another in more indirect ways than is done through the formation of judgments. This brings us to a consideration of reasoning, the third and last form of thinking.


Nature of Reasoning.—Reasoning is defined as a mental process in which the mind arrives at a new judgment by comparing other judgments. The mind, for instance, is in possession of the two judgments, "Stones are heavy" and "Flint is a stone." By bringing these two judgments under the eye of attention and comparing them, the mind is able to arrive at the new judgment, "Flint is heavy." Here the new judgment, expressing a relation between the notions, flint and heavy, is supposed to be arrived at, neither by direct experience, nor by an immediate analysis of the concept flint, but more indirectly by comparing the other judgments. The judgment, or conclusion, is said, therefore, to be arrived at mediately, or by a process of reasoning. Reasoning is of two forms, deductive, or syllogistic, reasoning, and inductive reasoning.


Nature of Deduction.—In deduction the mind is said to start with a general truth, or judgment, and by a process of reasoning to arrive at a more particular truth, or judgment, thus:

Stone is heavy; Flint is a stone; .'. Flint is heavy.

Expressed in this form, the reasoning process, as already mentioned, is known as a syllogism. The whole syllogism is made up of three parts, major premise, minor premise, and conclusion. The three concepts involved in the syllogism are known as the major, the minor, and the middle term. In the above syllogism, heavy, the predicate of the major premise, is the major term; flint, the subject of the minor premise, is the minor term; and stone, to which the other two are related in the premises, is known as the middle term. Because of this previous comparison of the major and the minor terms with the middle term, deduction is sometimes said to be a process by which the mind discovers a relation between two concepts by comparing them each with a third concept.

Purpose of Deduction.—It is to be noted, however, as pointed out in Chapter XV, that deductive reasoning takes place normally only when the mind is faced with a difficulty which demands solution. Take the case of the boy and his lost coin referred to in Chapter II. As he faces the problem, different methods of solution may present themselves. It may enter his mind, for instance, to tear up the grate, but this is rejected on account of possible damage to the brickwork. Finally he thinks of the tar and resorts to this method of recovery. In both of the above cases the boy based his conclusions upon known principles. As he considered the question of tearing up the grate, the thought came to his mind, "Lifting-a-grate is a-thing-which-may-cause-damage." As he considered the use of the tar, he had in mind the judgment, "Adhesion is a property of tar," and at once inferred that tar would solve his problem. In such practical cases, however, the mind seems to go directly from the problem in hand to a conclusion by means of a general principle. When a woman wishes to remove a stain, she at once says, "Gasoline will remove it." Here the mind, in arriving at its conclusion, seems to apply the principle, "Gasoline removes spots," directly to the particular problem. Thus the reasoning might seem to run as follows:

Problem: What will remove this stain? Principle: Gasoline will remove stains. Conclusion: Gasoline will remove this stain.

Here the middle term of the syllogism seems to disappear. It is to be noted, however, that our thought changes from the universal idea "stains," mentioned in the statement of the principle, to the particular idea "this stain" mentioned in the problem and in the conclusion. But this implies a middle term, which could be expressed thus:

Gasoline will remove stains; This is a stain; .'. Gasoline will remove this.

The syllogism is valuable, therefore, because it displays fully and clearly each element in the reasoning process, and thus assures the validity of the conclusion.

Deduction in School Recitation.—It will be recalled from what was noted in our study of general method, that deduction usually plays an important part during an ordinary developing lesson. In the step of preparation, when the pupil is given a particular example in order to recall old knowledge, the example suggests a problem which is intended to call up certain principles which are designed to be used during the presentation. In a lesson on the "Conjunctive Pronoun," for instance, if we have the pupil recall his knowledge of the conjunction by examining the particular word "if" in such a sentence as, "I shall go if they come," he interprets the word as a conjunction simply because he possesses a general rule applicable to it, or is able to go through a process of deduction. In the presentation also, when the pupil is called on to examine the word who in such a sentence as, "The man who met us is very old," and decides that it is both a conjunction and a pronoun, he is again making deductions, since it is by his general knowledge of conjunctions and pronouns that he is able to interpret the two functions of the particular word who. Finally, as already noted, the application of an ordinary recitation frequently involves deductive processes.


Nature of Induction.—Induction is described as a process of reasoning in which the mind arrives at a conclusion by an examination of particular cases, or judgments. A further distinguishing feature of the inductive process is that, while the known judgments are particular in character, the conclusion is accepted as a general law, or truth. As in deduction, the reasoning process arises on account of some difficulty, or problem, presented to the mind, as for example:

What is the effect of heat upon air? Will glass conduct electricity? Why do certain bodies refract light?

To satisfy itself upon the problem, the mind appeals to actual experience either by ordinary observation or through experimentation. These observations or experiments, which necessarily deal with particular instances, are supposed to provide a number of particular judgments, by examining which a satisfactory conclusion is ultimately reached.

Example of Induction.—As an example of induction, may be taken the solution of such a problem as, "Does air exert pressure?" To meet this hypothesis we must evidently do more than merely abstract the manifest properties of an object, as is done in ordinary conception, or appeal directly to some known general principle, as is done in deduction. The work of induction demands rather to examine the two at present known but disconnected things, air and pressure, and by scientific observation seek to discover a relation between them. For this purpose the investigator may place a card over a glass filled with water, and on inverting it find that the card is held to the glass. Taking a glass tube and putting one end in water, he may place his finger over the other end and, on raising the tube, find that water remains in the tube. Soaking a heavy piece of leather in water and pressing it upon the smooth surface of a stone or other object, he finds the stone can be lifted by means of the leather. Reflecting upon each of these circumstances the mind comes to the following conclusions:

Air pressure holds this card to the glass, Air pressure keeps the water in the tube, Air pressure holds together the leather and the stone, .'. Air exerts pressure.

How Distinguished from, A. Deduction, and B. Conception.—Such a process as the above constitutes a process of reasoning, first, because the conclusion gives a new affirmation, or judgment, "Air exerts pressure," and secondly, because the judgment is supposed to be arrived at by comparing other judgments. As a process of reasoning, however, it differs from deduction in that the final judgment is a general judgment, or truth, which seems to be based upon a number of particular judgments obtained from actual experience, while in deduction the conclusion was particular and the major premise general. It is for this reason that induction is defined as a process of going from the particular to the general. Moreover, since induction leads to the formation of a universal judgment, or general truth, it differs from the generalizing process known as conception, which leads to the formation of a concept, or general idea. It is evident, however, that the process will enrich the concept involved in the new judgment. When the mind is able to affirm that air exerts pressure, the property, exerting-pressure, is at once synthesised into the notion air. This point will again be referred to in comparing induction and conception as generalizing processes.

In speaking of induction as a process of going from the particular to the general, this does not signify that the process deals with individual notions. The particulars in an inductive process are particular cases giving rise to particular judgments, and judgments involve concepts, or general ideas. When, in the inductive process, it is asserted that air holds the card to the glass, the mind is seeking to establish a relation between the notions air and pressure, and is, therefore, thinking in concepts. For this reason, it is usually said that induction takes for granted ordinary relations as involved in our everyday concepts, and concerns itself only with the more hidden relations of things. The significance of induction as a process of going from the particular to the general, therefore, consists in the fact that the conclusion is held to be a wider judgment than is contained in any of the premises.

Particular Truth Implies the General.—Describing the premises of an inductive process as particular truths, and the conclusion as a universal truth, however, involves the same fiction as was noted in separating the percept and the concept into two distinct types of notions. In the first place, my particular judgment, that air presses the card against the glass, is itself a deduction resting upon other general principles. Secondly, if the judgment that air presses the card against the glass contains no element of universal truth, then a thousand such judgments could give no universal truth. Moreover, if the mind approaches a process of induction with a problem, or hypothesis, before it, the general truth is already apprehended hypothetically in thought even before the particular instances are examined. When we set out, for instance, to investigate whether the line joining the bisecting points of the sides of a triangle is parallel with the base, we have accepted hypothetically the general principle that such lines are parallel with the base. The fact is, therefore, that when the mind examines the particular case and finds it to agree with the hypothesis, so far as it accepts this case as a truth, it also accepts it as a universal truth. Although, therefore, induction may involve going from one particular experiment or observation to another, it is in a sense a process of going from the general to the general.

That accepting the truth of a particular judgment may imply a universal judgment is very evident in the case of geometrical demonstrations. When it is shown, for instance, that in the case of the particular isosceles triangle ABC, the angles at the base are equal, the mind does not require to examine other particular triangles for verification, but at once asserts that in every isosceles triangle the angles at the base are equal.

Induction and Conception Interrelated.—Although as a process, induction is to be distinguished from conception, it either leads to an enriching of some concept, or may in fact be the only means by which certain scientific concepts are formed. While the images obtained by ordinary sense perception will enable a child to gain a notion of water, to add to the notion the property, boiling-at-a-certain-temperature, or able-to-be-converted-into-two-parts-hydrogen-and-one-part-oxygen, will demand a process of induction. The development of such scientific notions as oxide, equation, predicate adjective, etc., is also dependent upon a regular inductive process. For this reason many lessons may be viewed both as conceptual and as inductive lessons. To teach the adverb implies a conceptual process, because the child must synthesise certain attributes into his notion adverb. It is also an inductive lesson, because these attributes being formulated as definite judgments are, therefore, obtained inductively. The double character of such a lesson is fully indicated by the two results obtained. The lesson ends with the acquisition of a new term, adverb, which represents the result of the conceptual process. It also ends with the definition: "An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb," which indicates the general truth or truths resulting from the inductive process.

Deduction and Induction Interrelated.—In our actual teaching processes there is a very close inter-relation between the two processes of reasoning. We have already noted on page 322 that, in such inductive lessons as teaching the definition of a noun or the rule for the addition of fractions, both the preparatory step and the application involve deduction. It is to be noted further, however, that even in the development of an inductive lesson there is a continual interplay between induction and deduction. This will be readily seen in the case of a pupil seeking to discover the rule for determining the number of repeaters in the addition of recurring decimals. When he notes that adding three numbers with one, one, and two repeaters respectively, gives him two repeaters in his answer, he is more than likely to infer that the rule is to have in the answer the highest number found among the addenda. So far as he makes this inference, he undoubtedly will apply it in interpreting the next problem, and if the next numbers have one, one, and three repeaters respectively, he will likely be quite convinced that his former inference is correct. When, however, he meets a question with one, two, and three repeaters respectively, he finds his former inference is incorrect, and may, thereupon, draw a new inference, which he will now proceed to apply to further examples. The general fact to be noted here, however, is that, so far as the mind during the examination of the particular examples reaches any conclusion in an inductive lesson, it evidently applies this conclusion to some degree in the study of the further examples, or thinks deductively, even during the inductive process.

Development of Reasoning Power.—Since reasoning is essentially a purposive form of thinking, it is evident that any reasoning process will depend largely upon the presence of some problem which shall stimulate the mind to seek out relations necessary to its solution. Power to reason, therefore, is conditioned by the ability to attend voluntarily to the problem and discover the necessary relations. It is further evident that the accuracy of any reasoning process must be dependent upon the accuracy of the judgments upon which the conclusions are based. But these judgments in turn depend for their accuracy upon the accuracy of the concepts involved. Correct reasoning, therefore, must depend largely upon the accuracy of our concepts, or, in other words, upon the old knowledge at our command. On the other hand, however, it has been seen that both deductive and inductive reasoning follow to some degree a systematic form. For this reason it may be assumed that the practice of these forms should have some effect in giving control of the processes. The child, for instance, who habituates himself to such thought processes as AB equals BC, and AC equals BC, therefore AB equals AC, no doubt becomes able thereby to grasp such relations more easily. Granting so much, however, it is still evident that close attention to, and accurate knowledge of, the various terms involved in the reasoning process is the sure foundation of correct reasoning.



Sensuous and Ideal Feeling.—We have noted (Chapter XXIV), that in addition to the general feeling tone accompanying an act of attention, and already described as a feeling of interest, there are two important classes of feeling known respectively as sensuous and ideal feeling. When a person says: "I feel tired" or "I feel hungry," he is referring to the feeling side of certain organic sensations. When he says: "The air feels cold" or "The paper feels smooth," he is referring to the feeling side of temperature and touch sensations. These are, therefore, examples of sensuous feeling. On the other hand, to say "I feel angry" or "I feel afraid," is to refer to a feeling state which accompanies perhaps the perception of some object, the recollection or anticipation of some act, or the inference that something is sure to happen, etc. These latter states are therefore known as ideal feelings.

Quality of Feeling States.—The qualities of our various feeling states are distinguished under two heads, pleasure and pain. It might seem at first sight that our feeling states will fall into a much larger number of classes distinguished by differences in quality, or tone. The taste of an orange, the smell of lavender, the touch of a hot stove, the appreciation of a fine piece of music, and the appreciation of a lofty poem, seem at first sight to yield different feelings. The supposed difference in the quality of the feelings is due, however, to a difference in the knowledge elements accompanying the feelings, or to the fact that they are discriminated as different experiences. The idea of the music or the poem is of a higher grade than the sensory image of taste, and accordingly the feelings appear to be different. The feelings may, of course, differ in intensity, but in quality they are either pleasant or unpleasant.


A. Neural.—The quality, or tone, of a feeling will vary according to the intensity of the impression. Great heat stimulates the nerves violently and the resultant feeling state is painful; warmth gives a moderate stimulation and the resultant tone is pleasant. Excessive cold also, because it stimulates violently, produces a painful feeling. Since the intensity of a stimulus varies according to the resistance encountered in the nervous arc, the quality of a feeling state must, therefore, vary according to the resistance. It is for this reason that an experience, at first very painful, may lose much of its tone by repetition. By repetition the nerve centres are adapted to the experience, resistance is lessened, and the accompanying pain diminished. In this way, some work or exercise, which is at first positively unpleasant, may at least become endurable as the organism becomes adapted to the occupation. From this point of view, it is sometimes said that any impressions to which we are perfectly adapted give pleasurable feelings, while, in other cases the resultant tone will be painful.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse