ND   Jacques Maritain Center : Psychology / by Michael Maher, S.J.


THE unhoped for success which met the present work in the form in which it was printed in 1890 induced me to abstain from making more than a few verbal changes in the second or third editions. But by the time the fourth English edition was called for the large quantity of fresh psychological literature which had appeared, especially from America, in the entire interval, had rendered sundry additions and alterations desirable. The process of emendation once begun it was not easy to draw the line, and the result is that the present volume is practically a new work containing a considerably larger quantity of matter than the former. The limitations of the series have forced me to squeeze many topics into small type, as I was unwilling to omit them altogether. In particular the work recently done by American writers is so important that it has had to be treated fully.

The modifications up to the ninth chapter are, with the exception of the enlarged treatment of physiology, psycho-physics, and psychometry comparatively slight; but thenceforward the book has been virtually re-written. Chapters xiv., xvi., vii xvii., xviii., xix., xxii., xxiv., are, minus occasional sections, new: the Supplement on Hypnotism and the criticisms of the theories of Professors James and Höffding entirely so. The historical sketches. -- . which I believe have proved helpful to various classes of students -- have also been substantially increased, and I trust considerably improved. I have also introduced a number of diagrams which illustrate the brain and nervous system.

My aim here, as in the previous editions, has been not to construct a new original system of my own, but to resuscitate and make better known to English readers a Psychology that has already survived four and twenty centuries, that has had more influence on human thought and human language than all other psychologies together, and that still commands a far larger number of adherents than any rival doctrine. My desire, however, has been not merely to expound but to expand this old system; not merely to defend its assured truths, but to test its principles, to develop them, to apply them to the solution of modern problems; and to re-interpret its generalizations in the light of the most recent researches. I have striven to make clear to the student of modern thought that this ancient psychology is not quite so absurd, nor these old thinkers quite so foolish, as the current caricatures of their teaching would lead one to imagine; and I believe I have shown that not a little of what is supposed to be new has been anticipated, and that most of what is true can be assimilated without much difficulty by the old system. On the other hand, I have sought to bring the scholastic student into closer contact with modern questions; and to acquaint him better with some of the merits of modern psychological analysis and explanation.

There is at least one phase of current psychological literature to which my opposition is in no way diminished -- the prevalent view that the science of psychology and the philosophy of the human mind can be shut up in water-tight compartments and rendered completely independent of each other. Indeed, the now customary vehement protestations of psychologists that their works are innocent of all philosophical beliefs -- if not also devoid of all metaphysical foundations -- and the austere gravity with which they are wont to apologize whenever they make mention of the soul, or allude to such irrelevant matters as the possibility of a future life, the origin of the human mind, or its connection with the body, have often appeared to me liable to give rise to the suspicion that the sense of humour is incompatible with psychological eminence. For it is now taken for granted by the most distinguished of these writers that of all human beings the student of psychology feels least interest in the question as to whether he has a soul, or what is to become of it; and that of all branches of human knowledge the science of the mind has least to say on such a topic. In fact, to trespass in such alien matters is universally assumed to be the gravest of professional delinquencies.

Notwithstanding the weight of authority for this view, I have had the temerity to suggest that it is the most misleading and extravagant idolon of the psychological cave at the present day. I have even ventured to maintain throughout this work that to construct such a water-tight science of psychology, from which all metaphysical conceptions and beliefs have been effectually bailed out, is simply impossible. Accordingly, I warn my readers at the start that the analysis of mental activities which commends itself to me as the truest and most thorough, has resulted in the conception of the human mind as an immaterial being endowed with free-will and rational activity of a spiritual order; and that my exposition and interpretation of the phenomena lead back to this conclusion.

At the same time my procedure throughout is purely rationalistic, in the sense of being based solely on experience and reasoning. There seems to have arisen in some minds the notion that the works of this series assume or imply dogmatic beliefs pertaining exclusively to revealed religion. Of course no one who had read my volume, or who was at all familiar with the series, could have fallen into such an error; but it may be as well to repeat formally here that this work is purely philosophical, and that it contains nothing to which, not merely every Christian, but every Theist may not assent. Indeed, the very first institution to adopt this work as a text-book, save that in which I am engaged in teaching, was a Protestant Theological College in the South of England. I have profited much by the various criticisms and reviews of the first edition, which were uniformly very friendly, even when the writers were widely opposed to my philosophical views. But in spite of the very large alterations and, I trust, improvements in form of treatment, there is no change of importance in doctrine in the present work.

I wish here, to make general acknowledgment also of my indebtedness to many writers of various schools -- foes no less than friends. I have endeavoured throughout the volume to indicate the particular sources from which I have derived special assistance; and I have been all the more careful in this matter, as I have observed that some writers have shown a very practical appreciation of my own labours, without obtruding the fact upon their readers. In addition, I desire to express my obligations to the Rev. H. Irwin, S.J., for sundry valuable suggestions, and also for having corrected all the proofs.

A few hints on judicious skipping may be useful. I have marked with special headings the more scholastic and metaphysical discussions. The student, unless he be already familiar with or specially interested in the philosophy of the schools, had better omit these on first reading. The beginner will similarly find a flanking movement preferable to a frontal attack with respect to the longer historical sketches. For the general reader perhaps the most interesting course would be to start with chapter xix. on Free-will, then to read from chapter xxi. to the end of the volume, after which he may begin the book and follow his own tastes. The portions of Psychology generally deemed of most importance from the standpoint of the theory of Education are dealt with in the following sections: pp. 1-21, 26-51, 59-92, 125-152, 163-200, 208-241, 292-303, 314-326, 344-367, 378-393, 424-448, 454-458. The relevancy, however, of these topics to the art of teaching varies much, as the intelligent reader will perceive for himself.

On the other hand, for the benefit of the more advanced or more earnest student, I have indicated a considerable quantity of useful supplementary reading on very many questions of interest which the limits of my space have compelled me to treat more briefly than I desired. All the French works cited can be obtained, I believe, through Alcan (Paris), the German through Herder (Freiburg).

STONYHURST, October, 1900.


THE present Edition has been again revised. Part of the section dealing with Experimental Psychology has been re-written, the Supplement replying to Mr. Mallock's criticism has been omitted, as no longer needful, and some verbal obscurities have been corrected, and a number of references to recent psychological literature added; but no substantial change has been introduced into this Edition.

Dec., 1914.

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