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



Attention. -- We have confined the term attention to the higher order of mental activity. The word is, however, frequently employed to denote mere intensification of sensuous consciousness. In this sense a dog or a cow is said to attend when it is excited, by the approach of some object, to watch or listen; increased activity of the sensuous faculties of man may similarly be named attention. Still, careful introspection assures us that in an act of attention proper there is something more than augmentation of the previous sensation.{1}

Attention and Sensation. -- Suppose that I am suffering from toothache; I can advert to the pain or try to turn my attention away from it. But this attention is not the same thing as the feeling. I can direct my observation to the peculiarly aching character of the latter. I can consider its likeness and unlikeness to the sensation of a burn or a needle-prick; I can estimate its superiority in intensity over previous states. In fact, I am conscious throughout of exerting a cognitive activity distinct from the mere sensation, and this presupposes before it can operate the sensation or its reproduced image. Increased intensity of a sensation is not identical with the act of attention, though the former may often awake the latter. For we can attend to the weaker of two impressions, and the vividness of a sensation occasionally obscures the relation or special aspect which is at the time the formal object of the act of attention.

Attention and Volition. -- Neither is attention merely a volition or act of will. On the contrary, it is that upon which the conative act is exerted. It is cognitive energy directed by the will to an existing experience. Thus, in attending to a toothache, the act of the will is not, "I wish to feel more pain or less pain," but "I wish to turn my attention towards or from this pain," "I wish to have a clearer and more distinct consciousness of this state." Becoming an object of thought, the feeling may subsequently become an object of will; and, as a rule, the increased clearness and force of a conscious state effected by attention augments its motive power and reacts upon the conative activity of the mind.

Attention interrogative. -- In becoming attentive we pass into an attitude of inquiry or expectation, and this is characteristic of the mind throughout the whole period. Mr. G. Stout accurately describes this phase of the mental state: "Between a protracted train of thought which lasts for an hour and a transient act of attention which lasts for only a few seconds, there is in this respect only a difference of degree, not of kind. Whenever we attend at all, we attend to some object, and it is the essence of the process that, in and through it, our apprehension of this object shall become, or at least tend to become, more full and distinct. For this reason a certain prospective attitude of the mind is characteristic of attention. Attendere originally means to expect or await. This prospective attitude is for the most part interrogative. The interrogation in its more primitive phases is dumb, and to express it in language is to falsify it by giving it a fictitious definiteness. But with this reservation we may say that it corresponds to the question: What is that? or simply, What? "{2} That is, literally, in scholastic language, it is the concentrated activity of the intellect seeking to apprehend a Quidditas. Accordingly we shall wisely return to the old definition, and define attention as: Applicatio cogitationis ad objecta, or the special application of intellectual energy to any object.

Voluntary and non-voluntary Attention. -- The phenomenon of attention takes two forms according as the exciting cause in the mind itself or something presented to the mind. In the former case we are conscious of a certain self-direction of the mind towards a particular object. We interfere with the automatic current of our thoughts, and turn them into a new channel. This is effected by fixing upon some particular section of the series, and dwelling upon it. This act of attention at once increases the force of the selected idea, and raises into consciousness other ideas of various kinds with which it is connected. We then again choose which of these lines of thought shall be followed, and so change the original course of the stream. This is an exercise of voluntary attention. The completeness of control over our own thoughts, the success which we can command in the expulsion or detention of a particular mental state, varies at different times and in regard to different objects. A representation of the imagination, a strong emotion, a worrying train of thought, no less than some distracting external stimulus, may at times render nugatory repeated efforts to apply our minds to some other topic. It is this experience of resistance which affords us the most convincing assurance that we have a real power of free voluntary attention, for it reveals to us in the clearest manner the difference between automatically drifting with, and actively struggling against the natural current of thought. It brings into distinct consciousness the exertions of real personal choice. The conditions influencing our command over attention are, accordingly, twofold. On the one side are the varying degrees of attractiveness pertaining to the object; on the other is the energy of the mind.

Non-voluntary Attention. -- Attention, however, is often both awaked and continued without any effort of the mind. Of this non-voluntary activity we can distinguish two grades. Sometimes the process of attention, though not due to special volition flows along in a smooth, facile manner, without any consciousness of constraint. This is spontaneous, or automatic attention. On the other hand, there are also occasions when we feel our attention to be extorted from us, or constrained against our will, when an idea forcibly intrudes into our consciousness, and defies our best attempts to eject it. This advertence against our will is involuntary attention in the strict sense. Extreme instances are the "fixed ideas," and hallucinations of the insane. Serious enfeeblement of voluntary control of attention is generally among the symptoms of approaching mental derangement.

Laws of Attention. -- Intensity. -- The general conditions of Attention have been described by some psychologists as Laws; and they may be thus briefly formulated: (1) Involuntary, automatic, or reflex attention, is determined as regards both its force and direction, by the comparative attractiveness of the objects present to the mind. (2) Voluntary attention is determined (a) by the energy of the mind at the time, (b) by the inherent attractiveness of the object, and (c) by extrinsic motives, or relations of the object with other desirable things which may influence the will. Thus the student's power of keeping his intellect fixed upon his work depends on the nature of the subject; on the present intensity of his desire to pass his examination; on the fresh and healthy condition of his brain; on the native energy of his mind, and on his acquired habits of steady concentration.

Duration. -- In the first stage of the exercise of voluntary attention repeated struggles are often necessary; but when interest is once awakened the activity becomes self-supporting, and further volitional effort is needless. Still attention, whether voluntary or involuntary, is of an essentially variable character. It flows in waves rather than in a constant level stream, and soon grows feeble unless revived by a new effort or by a change of object. When a man is said to keep his attention concentrated or fixed for a long time on a single object, he really follows out a train of ideas related to the object.

Extent. -- The force of attention is limited in range as well as in duration; and another law supposed to express the relation between extent and intensity of attention was formulated in the old aphorism: Pluribus intentus minor est ad singula sensus, or the intensity of attention varies inversely as the area of objects over which it ranges. This statement refers rather to sensuous than to intellectual cognition. In so far as it applies to the latter, it defines not the force of a single act of attention, but the general efficiency of mental energy during a longer or shorter period.

Whether we can attend simultaneously to more than one object has been much disputed; and, as is usual in such cases, the disputants often differ as to what they mean by "attend" and "one object." Experiments like those of Hamilton, indicating how many pebbles a man can perceive at a single glance, obviously have to do with the perfection of eyesight, rather than with the range of attention. It is clear that we can he sentiently aware of sounds, colours, temperature, and pressure at the same time. But intellectual attention, even when engaged in comparison, apprehends its objects in the form of a unity of some sort. The focus of attention seems to be at any moment a single thought, though that thought may carry a fringe of relations and a nucleus of elements dimly felt to he distinct from each other;{3} and in the process of analysis the mind passes from one to another in rapid succession.

Effects of Attention. -- Intensification. -- The most obvious effect of an act of attention is to intensify the mental state towards which it is directed, whether that state be a sensation, an idea, or an emotion. At any moment of our waking life we are subject to a mass of impressions, tactual, auditory, and visual, pouring into the mind through the several senses. Most of them are so feeble as to escape notice in the crowd. But when I direct my attention, for instance, to the pressure of the ground, or of the chair, or to the colour of the table on which I am writing, the sensation emerges at once into vivid consciousness. The possible augmentation of the feeling is, however, limited. We cannot increase the blueness of the sky, nor the loudness of a sound, nor the weight of a pound above what corresponds to full normal stimulation. But it is probable that organic pain may be increased by a certain physical effect of attention which seems to react on the nerves and blood-vessels of the locality on which observation is concentrated.

Expectant Attention. -- The intensification of the force of phantasms of the imagination is still more remarkable; and, as we have already indicated, is often the cause of illusion. Since the reproduced images probably occupy the same cerebral centres as the original motor, visual, or auditory sensations, revival of the image involves a rehearsal of the former neural tremor, and in proportion as the representation becomes more vivid the nervous excitation grows in strength until it may issue into an actual repetition of the former experience. This also explains the shortening of reaction-time in psychometrical experiments when a definitely known event is looked for. Thus, if I am expecting to perceive a particular colour, the visual faculty is adjusted for its immediate reception and the appropriate brain cells under the action of the imagination are in a condition of nascent excitement ready to respond like hairtrigger pistols to the faintest stimulation. In fact "preperception," or the ante-dating of a phenomenon, is not an uncommon illusion when expectation of a particular event is in an acute stage.

Distinctness. -- But more important from an intellectual point of view is the increased distinctness which attention sheds upon its objects. It affects this by clarifying the relations of which the observed phenomenon is the centre. It brings under our notice the various threads by which this object is interwoven with the web of our already acquired knowledge. Relations of similarity and contrast, of causality and dependence, of action and reaction, rational connexions of every kind to which mere sensuous intuition is blind, reveal themselves beneath the light of this higher mental energy, and what was before a confused mass of sensuous impression, becomes now a consciously unified object -- a well defined thing.

Attention and Genius. -- This illuminating power of attention by which the obscure and dimly discerned relations of certain ideas are elevated into vivid consciousness is the great parent of invention and discovery. By continued fixation of our intellectual gaze upon an object, its connexions with its surroundings become more clearly realized; possible explanations of particular facts suggest themselves; and their validity is verified or disproved by reasoning out the consequences. The importance of this faculty in original work of all kinds is so great, that in many celebrated definitions we find genius and tower of attention made synonymous with each other. Thus Hamilton teaches that "the difference between an ordinary mind and the mind of a Newton consists principally in this, that the one is capable of the application of a more continuous attention than the other." (Metaph. Vol. I. p. 256.) Helvetius defined genius as "nothing but continued attention " -- une attention suivie; Buffon as une longue patience. Newton ascribed his own successes to patient attention more than to any other talent; whilst the definition of genius by another great mind as, "an infinite capacity of taking pains," is well known. This complete identification of the two aptitudes is an error. Recent writers justly insist on the spontaneous non-voluntary character of the outpourings of genius; whilst Mr. F. Myers and certain German philosophers would connect this faculty with a somewhat mystic theory of a subconscious mental life, -- a second subliminal or subterranean personality which occasionally emerges above the surface of consciousness in dreams, hysteria, and the hypnotic state. The truth seems to be that, although genius has its source in the native endowments of the mind, its most impressive and fruitful achievements are only accomplished by the exercise of a rare degree of sustained concentration, whilst this very concentration is possible only to a prolific intellect rich and fertile in ideas.

Retention. -- A further effect of attention is increased retentiveness. Events not attended to fade so quickly from memory that, as in the case of automatically winding one's watch, a man is often completely oblivious of the action immediately afterwards. If we wish to fix in our mind a line of poetry, a person's address, or his face, we concentrate our attention on the object to be remembered. In doing so, we not only prolong and intensify the impression, but we associate it with other experiences, we assimilate it into the general system of our mental life. In Herbartian language, we apperceive it. Attention thus both accelerates mental acquisition and secures permanence. Twenty repetitions of a lesson whilst the mind is careless and inattentive have not the efficiency of one performed when our whole energy is concentrated on the subject in hand.

Physiological conditions. -- Regarding the physiological counterpart of attention there is much speculation and little knowledge. Evidence of a general character renders the following statements probable: (1) During periods of intellectual concentration there is an increased flow of blood to the brain and heightened activity of the cells which compose the cortical substance. (2) The adjustment of the sense-organs and the bodily strain which often accompany a process of attention involve an innervation of the cerebral motor-centres subservient to these particular movements. (3) Direction of attention to a particular sensation seems to stimulate circulation and neural functioning throughout the portion of the organism, central and peripheral, engaged in the experience. (4) The same seems to hold in regard to reproduced images when they are the object of attention. Thus, if I fix my thought on some particular word, the appropriate ideational motor and auditory centres, that is, the group of cerebral cells which minister to the production of this particular sound, are probably excited to greater activity. These various physical changes are, however, the effect rather than the cause or neural correlate of the act of attention proper. Of the latter nothing is really known as certain.

Physiological manuals not infrequently indulge in graphic accounts of "attention-centres," and of successive groupings of neural currents in cerebral stations arranged in an ascending order of dignity and complexity like local, provincial, and city telegraph offices, with a great presiding metropolitan centre in the frontal region of the brain. Such descriptions are purely mythological. They may, of course, afford help to the imagination -- like a coloured picture of an angel. But unless the reader is reminded that they are mere conjectures without any evidence, or even prospect of evidence, to establish their truth, they are sure to mislead. The sort of knowledge which we really possess concerning the brain will be indicated in our section on the localization of cerebral functions. If certain areas of the cerebral matter are stimulated or extirpated, certain corresponding movements and sensations and images are excited or inhibited. That is almost the sum total of present scientific knowledge concerning the subject.

Pleasure and Pain. -- The relation of attention to feeling can be readily gathered from Aristotle's theory of pleasure and pain, given in an earlier chapter. Pleasure accompanies spontaneous or easy volitional attention, increasing in proportion to the vigour of the activity until the energy becomes strained or fatigued. On the other hand, forced attention, thwarted attention, and the struggle against distraction, monotony, or weariness are painful experiences. Novelty pleases, both by affording pleasant relief and by awakening a fresh energy. If a particular exercise of attention prove agreeable, the activity is stimulated and increased; if it result in pain, especially of a monotonous character, the exertion is depressed. But acute pain tends to focus upon itself the whole available energy of consciousness and thereby to inhibit all other intellectual operations.{4} however, are rather instances of purely painful feeling in which rational activity proper is suspended. Fixed ideas, disagreeable recollections, and sharp griefs often exert a violent painful fascination on the mind, which renders it almost impossible to get rid of the unpleasant thought.

Interest. -- We attend readily to some subjects because they are interesting; and they possess interest because they afford us pleasure or a particular kind of pain. Some psychologists would completely identify interest and attention, maintaining that to attend to an object and to be interested are the same thing. Still, ordinary language recognizes a difference. Whereas attention is transitory, interest may be permanent; thus we can retain interest in a science to which we have not devoted attention for a considerable period. Moreover, we easily concentrate our attention on a particular subject because it interests us; it is not immediately interesting because we direct our attention towards it. Common thought in fact seems to identify interest with a peculiar attraction exerted by certain subjects of consideration in virtue of associated pleasurable or painful experiences in the past. Thus, even an elementary knowledge of Botany or Geology gives a new "interest" to a walk in the country, and the fact of having read one of Scott's novels makes Edinburgh quite a different city to the visitor.

Education. -- From all this we see the importance of the mental function of attention from an educationalist standpoint. Without some degree of attention intellectual acquisition of any kind is impossible; and in proportion as this power is brought more under command, so is progress more rapid and more solid. The child at first finds great difficulty in controlling his attention, especially for any length of time. It is, therefore, the office of the teacher to help these first feeble efforts by awakening interest in the pupil's tasks. Skill in illustrations that are homely yet novel, ingenuity in connecting the lesson, or parts of it, with subjects of the child's previous experience or reading -- especially with the stories in which he has taken pleasure -- judgment in changing the subject, or enlivening it by a joke or anecdote when the class is growing weary, tact in utilizing incidental points that turn up to enforce some practical or moral truth, are all so many means of stimulating and sustaining attention. But the education of the faculty of attention is even more important as a part of moral training. It is by control of our attention that we can determine which of two conflicting motives shall prevail. By the free effort of our attention we keep steadily before our minds the claims of duty, or the consideration of permanent happiness when impulse surges up within, or seductive pleasure assails us from without; and the strong-willed man is he who can keep his attention riveted to some abiding rational motive that gives stability to his deliberately formed resolve, and thus remains unshaken by gusts of passion or transitory cravings of sense.

Are there Unconscious Modifications of the Mind? -- Connected with the topic of attention, is that of latent mental operations. Notwithstanding the superstitious dread of metaphysics, which infects all recent psychology, no really intelligible answer can be offered to this much discussed question unless we know what is meant by "mind" and by "modification of mind;" and these queries inevitably carry us into Philosophy. If we start with the great majority of empirical psychologists by defining the mind as "the entire collection of our conscious states," or "the total stream of our conscious life," then obviously an affirmative reply would involve a contradiction in terms. Or even if prescinding from the inquiry as to the nature of the soul, we define a "mental modification" as a "conscious state," there can he no further dispute. Still such a summary disposal of the question merely ignores a very genuine problem. But if by mind, or soul, we understand a real being other than the series of "phenomena" or "conscious states," and if we then propose The inquiry thus: Do there take place any real activities, processes, or energizings of the mind of which we are completely unconscious? the question is no longer meaningless.

In the first place, that some mental operations happen 'without their being apprehended by the explicitly reflex activity of self-consciousness is indubitable. For instance, the self-conscious element in the percipient act of the spectator who watches the finish of an exciting race is reduced to nil. It is also indisputable that there enters into the texture of our normal conscious existence a multitude of sub-conscious, or obscure mental processes so dim and indistinct as to be at best only very faintly realized. Our emotional temperament and our normal moral disposition is largely determined by such sub-conscious influences. But when we come to the question as to the reality of latent activities of the mind completely below the surface of consciousness, there is no longer agreement among psychologists. The following arguments have been advanced:

For Unconscious Modifications. -- (1) The reality of minima visibilia, audibilia, etc. -- the fact that our ordinary sensations of sight, sound, and the rest, arise out of an aggregate of elementary impressions occasioned by combinations of stimuli separately unperceivable, Thus the leaves of the forest, individually indiscernible, each contribute to the general presentation of colour. Neural excitations that are just too feeble or too brief to result in a sentient state which rises above the threshold of consciousness must, it is maintained, have a real effect upon the mind. (2) That such an effect though unconscious is real, it is urged, is often proved by the effect of the sudden cessation of the unobserved stimulus. Thus the miller, though unconscious of the sound of the mill-wheel, is awakened at once by its stopping. (3) The effect of a mere act of attention in evoking into distinct consciousness experiences hitherto unnoticed, as for instance a headache, or the pressure of my back against the chair, points to their previous reality as mental impressions though unconscious. (4) The facts of habit, acquired skill, and dexterity. Complex operations seemingly automatic which were originally effected by conscious effort must, it is alleged, be still performed under the guidance and control of the mind though acting unconsciously. Similarly unconscious inferences enter into our acquired perceptions. (5) The effects of unconscious trains of thought by which reminiscences of events long forgotten, or unnoticed at the time, or the solution of problems are suddenly presented to the mind. (6) Abnormal phenomena of hysterical patients, deferred or post-hypnotic suggestions, somnambulistic feats, negative illusions, or artificially induced anaesthesia -- in a word, a multitude of actions fulfilling the conditions of "having all the characteristics of a psychological fact save one -- i.e., they are always unnoticed by the agent himself at the very time when he performs them."{5}

Against such Modifications. -- It is argued (1) that the facts of minima sensibilia merely prove that the normal physical stimulus of a sensation must possess a certain quantity of strength before consciousness is awakened, but when that limit is passed the effect produced is of a completely new and completely different kind. It is always unlawful, as Mill has shown, to ascribe separate fragments of such a total "heteropathic effect" to separate fragments of the cause. Similarly, though successive increments of heat will finally cause ice to melt and then to boil, or dynamite to explode, we cannot legitimately conceive each small addition of heat as producing a corresponding small part in the liquefaction, evaporation, or explosion. (2) The positive effect of the sudden cessation of a stimulus is explained by the considerable change thereby wrought in the tension of the nervous mechanism, which has become adapted to the regular action of the stimulus. (3) Attention can undoubtedly increase our sensibility to impressions of all kinds, but this only shows, it is maintained, that the particular experience was felt in a faint degree before; or that it is only under these new psychological conditions it begins to exist. (4) The phenomena of habit, automatic action, acquired perceptions, and the like, may be ascribed not to psychical, but to physiological dispositions, which by frequent repetition of a series of movements become organized and embodied in the nervous system in such a manner as to be able to bring about the final result without the concomitant action of the mind during the process. (5) Sudden reminiscences, and discoveries, the effects of seemingly unconscious trains of thought, and the like, may be similarly explained as due to unconscious cerebration. The neural processes in the brain being once set in motion may run their course unconsciously till the particular cerebral situation is reached which forms the appropriate condition for the final mental act. Or, it may be held that the intermediate mental links do actually appear in consciousness, but that, like the perceptions of the separate letters of a word, they are too fleeting and of too little interest to be remembered. The phenomena of dreams, somnambulism, hypnotism, and the like, are similarly explained as actually felt at the time, but lost by inattention and rapid obliviscence.

These explanations seem to us to afford an intelligible iterpretation of most of the facts adduced. Nevertheless, provided it be recognized that no composition, amalgamation, or coalescence of unconscious units can constitute a conscious state, we do not see any conclusive reason for denying the reality of unconscious activities of the human mind. Furthermore, adopting the Aristotelico-scholastic theory that the Soul is a substantial principle at once the source of vegetative, sentient, and rational life -- a doctrine which we will establish in Rational Psychology -- this view seems to be forced upon us. Latent modifications of the mind must be admitted at least as dispositions, habits, or species impressae, to account for the possibility of recognition and ordinary knowledge. The vital processes of the potentia vegetativae -- the vegetative functions of the Soul -- are normally unconscious; and the scholastic conception of the nature of the action of the intellectus agens seems also in harmony with the doctrine of unconscious mental energies.{6}

Apperception. -- (S'appercevoir = to notice with attention.) -- Historical Sketch. -- Recent psychology dwells much on the "apperceptive" activity of the mind; and Herbart's disciples in paedogogic literature are copious in illustrating the mental processes now designated by that word. As it is connected with the present subject we shall treat it briefly here. Leibnitz, who seems to have been the first to employ the term apperception, understands by it strong distinct perceptions, as opposed to petites perceptions -- obscure or unconscious impressions. He only means by it developed self-consciousness or reflex cognition. Kant, borrowing the term from Leibnitz employs it to signify the innate unifying activity of self-consciousness, which in his theory of knowledge plays so important a part in combining the chaotic manifold impressions of sense. This self-consciousness he does not conceive like Leibnitz, as emerging with the development of mental life but as an original endowment, an a priori transcendental condition of all rational experience. Apperception with Herbart and his followers means the appropriation of fresh presentations or perceptions by groups of similar ideas persisting in the mind from previous experience. Writers of this school have usefully enforced the truth that every cognition leaves a certain vestige or residual effect in the mind, which modifies its future percipient acts. A newly imported elephant, for instance, is apprehended quite differently by a London child, a zoologist, an African hunter, an ivory dealer, and a menagerie proprietor. The powers of vision may be approximately equal in all of these observers, yet the total cognition will be different in each case, because of the different mental habits of each.

This principle was familiar to the scholastics in the well-known axiom, Unumquodque recipitur secundum modum recipientis; but they did not consider to what extent the recipient mind may be accidentally modified by experience, -- nor how much its percipient powers are enriched with the growth of knowledge from infancy to manhood. Herbart, therefore, notwithstanding his mythological account of "masses of concepts" which apperceive each other, and push each other above or beneath the "surface of consciousness," did useful work for educational theory in emphasizing the influence of pre-existing knowledge in the process of cognition.

Definition. -- Psychologists are not at present agreed as to the precise meaning to be allotted to the term. Perhaps amongst the best definitions of the process is that of Karl Lange: " Apperception is that psychical activity by which individual perceptions, ideas, or idea-complexes are brought into relation to our previous intellectual and emotional life, assimilated with it, and thus raised to greater clearness, activity, and significance."{7} Apperception is in fact equivalent to conscious assimilation in a wide sense. It includes identification, recognition, classification, understanding, interpretation, and all forms of knowledge in which a new idea or group of ideas is incorporated with an existing group.{8}

Nature of the process. -- For instance, on awaking I dimly see a strange object in the middle of my room. In the obscurity it resembles a very big dog with an enormous head. It might be a lion couchant, except that there are no wild animals in the neighbourhood. After straining my eyes in vain to discover what it can be, I wearily desist. Suddenly I recollect having last night left my umbrella open in order to dry. I now look again and apprehend the object quite distinctly, though the room is as dark as before. The head and shoulders of the monster are formed by my umbrella; the body is my half-open portmanteau, I have identified, recognized, apperceived, the mysterious being. Or to borrow another example cited by Mr. Stout: Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday suddenly perceive a ship off the shore. To the savage it was "only a dark and amorphous blur, a perp1exing, frightening mass of details." To the old sailor Crusoe, on the contrary, it is, in spite of his poorer eyesight, " an object." It is a unity; all its parts combine to make a symmetric whole which coalesces with a representation latent in his mind. It fuses with, or is subsumed under a familiar familiar generic notion: it is classified as "Ship." It is apperceived. Or, on reading a work on Psychology, I find apperception described as noetic assimilation, noetic incorporation of a new fact. Suppose I have not met this adjective before, I feel puzzled, probably irritated, as the chapter proceeds and sundry possible meanings vaguely suggest themselves to my mind. At last I recur to my Greek and recall that noein signifies to perceive. Immediately, the meaning of noetic as percipient, cognitive, becomes clear. I understand, I apperceive it, successfully. Guessing a riddle, solving a problem, harmonizing conflicting evidence, construing an author, are all illustrations of apperceptive activity. In fact, every advance in knowledge in which the new fact is consciously combined with former experience is included under the term.

Apperception and Education. -- The chief merit of the Herbartian school is their constant insistence on the methodical or systematic direction of apperception throughout the whole course of education. Each piece of fresh knowledge must be thoroughly, consciously incorporated and assimilated with knowledge already firmly possessed. Mere mechanical memory is to be reduced to a minimum, whilst "cramming," that is, the hurried piling into the mind of disconnected parcels of information which are not properly digested and interwoven with cognitions and ideas already thoroughly comprehended, is to be condemned as most injurious to mental development.

Readings. -- Besides the references given, see also on Attention, Balmez, op. cit. Bk. IV. §§ 7-11; Carpenter. op. cit. c. iii.; Ladd Elements of Physiological Psychology, pp. 534-543.

{1} On attention to sensuous impressions, see pp. 232, 243-246.

{2} Analytic Psychology, Vol. 1. p. 184.

{3} This seems to be the view of St. Thomas: "Intellectus quidem potent simul multa intelligere per modum unius non autem per modum multorum. . . . Partes. e.g., domus, simul cognoscuntur sub quadam confusione. prout sunt in toto." (Sum. I. q. 85, ad 3.) Compared objects, he teaches, are simultaneously apprehended "sub ratione ipsius comparationis." Similarly Mr. Stout. "The essential is that, however manifold or heterogeneous the objects of my thought may he, I must, in thinking of them, simultaneously think of some relation between them." (loc. cit. p 195.)

{4} "Si sit dolor intensus impeditur homo ne tunc aliquid addiscere posset. Et tantum potest intendi quod nec etiam instanti dolore potest homo aliquid considerare etiam quod prius scivit." (St. Thomas, Sum. 1-2. q. 37. a. 1.)

{5} Cf. Pierre Janet, L'Automatisme Psychologique (Edit. 1898), p. 225.

{6} The literature on this subject is abundant. The modern Scholastic writers who have treated it most fully are Sanseverino, Dynam. pp. 944-982; Farges, op. cit. pp. 295-307, 390-395; Mercier. La Psychologie. pp. 154, seq.; Gutberlet. Die Psychologie, pp. 49-59, 166, seq. See also Hamilton, Metaph. Vol. I. pp. 338 seq.; Carpenter, Mental Physiology, c. xiii.; Mill. Exam. c. xv.; James, op. cit. Vol. I. pp. 162-175; Mark Baldwin, op. cit. pp. 5-48; Pierre Janet, L'Automatisme Psychologique, pp. 223-304.

{7} Cf. Apperception, p. 41. According to this view, all perceptions except the first simple sensations involve apperception. The chief distinction lies in the fact that the latter term accentuates the element of assimilation with previous acquisitions. Lange gives a nseful historical account of apperception in Part III.

{8} Mr. G. Stout, in his able and interesting chapter on the subject (Analytic Psychology, Vol. II. c. vii), distinguishes apperception from mere assimilation, as involving attention and a "noetic" or consensus appropriation of the new element which is absent from the latter: "Where attention is not present, there is no apperception but mere assimilation, because there is no noetic synthesis. Thus, in automatic actions, the impressions which guide us are all assimilated, but not apperceived. . . . Unless there is some difficulty to be overcome, mere assimilation and association fulfil the office of apperception. . . . For the most part, the perceptions of size, shape. and distance depend on processes of relative suggestion which are independent of apperception, except in the earlier stages of mental development.' (p. 118.) The distinction is convenient for some purposes, but very difficult to maintain owing to the imperceptible degrees by which cognitive appropriation fades into mere automatic coalescence. If rigidly adhered to, it would exclude from apperception much of what is usually ascribed to that process.

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