The Principles of Psychology, by William James

Chapter 18

Imagination.

Sensations, once experienced, modify the nervous organism, so that copies of them arise again in the mind after the original outward stimulus is gone. No mental copy, however, can arise in the mind, of any kind of sensation which has never been directly excited from without.

The blind may dream of sights, the deaf of sounds, for years after they have lost their vision or hearing; 1 but the man born deaf can never be made to imagine what sound is like, nor can the man born blind ever have a mental vision. In Locke's words, already quoted, "the mind can frame unto itself no one new simple idea." The originals of them all must have been given from without. Fantasy, or Imagination, are the names given to the faculty of reproducing copies of originals once felt. The imagination is called 'reproductive' when the copies are literal; productive' when elements from different originals are recombined so as to make new wholes.

After-images belong to sensation rather than to imagination; so that the most immediate phenomena of imagination would seem to be those tardier images (due to what the Germans call Sinnesgedächtniss) which were spoken of in Vol. 1, p. 647, -- coercive hauntings of the mind by echoes of unusual experiences for hours after the latter have taken place. The phenomena ordinarily ascribed to imagination, however, are those mental pictures of possible sensible experiences, to which the ordinary processes of associative thought give rise.

When represented with surroundings concrete enough to constitute a date, these pictures, when they revive, form recollection. We have already studied the machinery of recollection in Chapter XVI. When the mental pictures are of data freely combined, and reproducing no past combination exactly, we have acts of imagination properly so called.

Our Images Are Usually Vague.

For the ordinary 'analytic' psychology, each sensibly, discernible element of the object imagined is represented by its own separate idea, and the total object, is imagined by a 'cluster' or 'gang' of ideas. We have seen abundant reason to reject this view (see p. 276 ff.). An imagined object, however complex, is at any one moment thought in one idea, which is aware of all its qualities together. If I slip into the ordinary way of talking, and speak of various ideas 'combining,' the reader will understand that this is only for popularity and convenience, and he will not construe it into a concession to the atomistic theory in psychology.

Hume was the hero of the atomistic theory. Not only were ideas copies of original impressions made on the sense-organs, but they were, according to him, completely adequate copies, and were all so separate from each other as to possess no manner of connection. Hume proves ideas m the imagination to be completely adequate copies, not y appeal to observation, but by a priori reasoning, as follows:

"The mind cannot form any notion of quantity or quality, without forming a precise notion of the degrees of each," for "'tis confessed that no object can appear to the senses, or in other words, that no impression 2 can become present to the mind, without being determined in its degrees both of quantity and quality. The confusion in which impressions are sometimes involved proceeds only from their faintness and unsteadiness, not from any capacity in the mind to receive any impression, which in its real existence has no particular degree nor proportion. That is a contradiction in terms; and even implies the flattest of all contradictions, viz., that 'tis possible for the same thing both to be and not to be. Now since all ideas are derived from impressions, and are nothing but copies and representations of them, whatever is

true of the one must be acknowledged concerning the other. Impressions and ideas differ only in their strength and vivacity. The foregoing conclusion is not founded on any particular degree of vivacity. It cannot therefore be affected by any variation in that particular. An idea is a weaker impression; and as a strong impression must necessarily have a determinate quantity and quality, the case must be the same with its copy or representative." 3

The slightest introspective glance will show to anyone the falsity of this opinion. Hume surely had images of his own works without seeing distinctly every word and letter upon the pages which floated before his mind's eye. His dictum is therefore an exquisite example of the way in which a man will be blinded by a priori theories to the most flagrant facts. It is a rather remarkable thing, too, that the psychologists of Hume's own empiricist school have, as a rule, been more guilty of this blindness than their opponents. The fundamental facts of consciousness have been, on the whole, more accurately reported by the spiritualistic writers. None of Hume's pupils, so far as I know, until Taine and Huxley, ever took the pains to contradict the opinion of their master. Prof. Huxley in his brilliant little work on Hume set the matter straight in the following words:

"When complex impressions or complex ideas are reproduced as memories, it is probable that the copies never give all the details of the originals with perfect accuracy, and it is certain that they rarely do so. No one possesses a memory so good, that if he has only once observed a natural object, a second inspection does not show him something that he has forgotten. Almost all, if not all, our memories are therefore sketches, rather than portraits, of the originals -- the salient features are obvious, while the subordinate characters are obscure or unrepresented.

"Now, when several complex impressions which are more or less different from one another -- let us say that out of ten impressions in each, six are the same in all, and four are different from all the rest -- are successively presented to the mind, it is easy to see what must be the nature of the result. The repetition of the six similar impressions will strengthen the six corresponding elements of the complex idea, which will therefore acquire greater vividness; while the four differing impressions of each will not only acquire no greater strength than they had at first, but, in accordance with the law of association, they will all tend to appear at once, and will thus neutralize one another.

"This mental operation may be rendered comprehensible by considering what takes place in the formation of compound photographs when the images of the faces of six sitters, for example, are each received on the same photographic plate, for a sixth of the time requisite to take one portrait. The final result is that all those points in which the six faces agree are brought out strongly, while all those in which they differ are left vague; and thus what may be termed a generic portrait of the six, in contradistinction to a specific portrait of any one, is produced.

"Thus our ideas of single complex impressions are incomplete in one way, and those of numerous, more or less similar, complex impressions are incomplete in another way; that is to say, they are generic, not specific. And hence it follows that our ideas of the impressions in question are not, in the strict sense of the word, copies of those impressions; while, at the same time, they may exist in the mind independently of language.

"The generic ideas which are formed from several similar, but not identical, complex experiences are what are called abstract or general ideas; and Berkeley endeavored to prove that all general ideas are nothing but particular ideas annexed to a certain term, which gives them a more extensive signification, and makes them recall, upon occasion, other individuals which are similar to them. Hume says that he regards this as 'one of the greatest and the most valuable discoveries that has been made of late years in the republic of letters,' and endeavors to confirm it in such a manner that it shall be 'put beyond all doubt and controversy.'

"I may venture to express a doubt whether he has succeeded in his object; but the subject is an abstruse one; and I must content myself with the remark, that though Berkeley's view appears to be largely applicable to such general ideas as are formed after language has been acquired, and to all the more abstract sort of conceptions, yet that general ideas of sensible objects may nevertheless be produced in the way indicated, and may exist independently of language. In dreams, one sees houses, trees, and other objects, which are perfectly recognizable as such, but which remind one of the actual objects as seen I out of the corner of the eye, or of the pictures thrown by a badly-focussed magic lantern. A man addresses us who is like a figure seen in twilight, or we travel through countries where every feature of the scenery is vague; the outlines of the hills are ill-marked, and the rivers have no defined banks. They are, in short, generic ideas of many past impressions of men, hills, and rivers. An anatomist who occupies himself intently with the examination of several specimens of some new kind of animal, in course of time acquires so vivid a conception of its form and struc-ture that the idea may take visible shape and become a sort of waking dream. But the figure which thus presents itself is generic, not specific. It is no copy of any one specimen, but, more or less, a mean of the series; and there seems no reason to doubt that the minds of children before they learn to speak, and of deaf-mutes, are peopled with similarly generated generic ideas of sensible objects." 4

Are Vague Images 'Abstract Ideas'?

The only point which I am tempted to criticise in this account is Prof. Huxley's identification of these generic images with 'abstract or general ideas' in the sense of universal conceptions. Taine gives the truer view. He writes:

"Some years ago I saw in England, in Kew Gardens, for the first time, araucarias, and I walked along the beds looking at these strange plants, with their rigid bark and compact, short, scaly leaves, of a sombre green, whose abrupt, rough, bristling form cut in upon the fine softly-lighted turf of the fresh grass-plat. If I now inquire what this, experience has left in me, I find, first, the sensible representation of an araucaria; in fact, I have been able to describe almost exactly the form and color of the plant. But there is a difference between this representation and the former sensations, of which it is the present echo. The internal semblance, from which I have just made my description, is vague, and my past sensations were precise. For, assuredly, each of the araucarias I saw then excited in me a distinct visual sensation; there are no two absolutely similar plants in nature; I observed perhaps twenty or thirty araucarias; without a doubt each one of them differed from the others in size, in girth, by the more or less obtuse angles of its branches, by the more or less abrupt jutting out of its scales, by the style of its texture; consequently, my twenty or thirty visual sensations were different. But no one of these sensations has completely survived in its echo; the twenty or thirty revivals have blunted one another; thus upset and agglutinated by their resemblance they are confounded together, and my present representation is their residue only. This is the product, or rather the fragment, which is deposited in us, when eve have gone through a series of similar facts or individuals, Of our numerous experiences there remain on the following day four or five more or less distinct recollections, which, obliterated themselves, leaves behind in us a simple colorless, vague representation, into which enter as components various reviving sensations, in an utterly feeble, incomplete, and abortive state. -- But this representation is not the general and abstract idea. It is but its accompaniment, and, if I may say so, the ore from which it is extracted. For the representation, though badly, sketched, is a sketch, the sensible sketch of a distinct individual.

But my abstract idea corresponds to the whole class; it differs, then from the representation of in individual. -- Moreover, my abstract idea is perfectly clear and determinate; now that I possess it, I never fall to recognize an araucaria among the various plants which may be shown me; it differs then from the coil used and floating representation I have of some particular araucaria." 5

In other words, a blurred picture is just as much a single mental fact as a sharp picture is; and the use of either picture by the mind to symbolize a whole class of individuals is a new mental function, requiring some other modification of consciousness than the mere perception that the picture is distinct or not. I may bewail the indistinctness of my mental image of my absent friend. That does not prevent my thought from meaning him alone, however. And I may mean all mankind, with perhaps a very sharp image of one man in my mind's eye. The meaning is a function of the more I transitive' parts of consciousness, the 'fringe' of relations which we feel surrounding the image, be the latter sharp or dim. This was explained in a previous place (see p. 473 ff., especially the note to page 477), and I would not touch upon the matter at all here but for its historical interest.

Our ideas or images of past sensible experiences may then be either distinct and adequate or dim, blurred, and incomplete. It is likely that the different degrees in which different men are able to make them sharp and complete has had something to do with keeping up such philosophic disputes as that of Berkeley with Locke over abstract ideas. Locke had spoken of our possessing 'the general idea of a triangle' which "must be neither oblique nor rectangle, neither equilateral, equicrural, nor scalenon, but all and none of these at once. "Berkeley says:

"If any man has the faculty of framing in his mind such an idea of a triangle as is here described, it is in vain to pretend to dispute him out of it, nor would I go about it. All I desire is that the reader would fully and certainly inform himself whether he has such an idea or no." 6

Until very recent years it was supposed by all philosophers that there was a typical human mind which all individual minds were like, and that propositions of universal validity could be laid down about such faculties as 'the Imagination.' Lately, however, a mass of revelations have poured in, which make us see how false a view this is. There are imaginations, not 'The Imagination,' and they must be studied in detail.

Individuals Differ in Imagination.

The first breaker of ground in this direction was Fechner, in 1860. Fecher was gifted with unusual talent for subjective observation, and in chapter xiv of his 'Psychophysik' he gave the results of a most careful comparison of his own optical after-images, with his optical memory-pictures, together with accounts by several other individuals of their optical memory-pictures. 7 The results was to show a great personal diversity. "It would be interesting," he writes, to work up the subject statistically; and I regret that other occupations have kept me from fulfilling my earlier intention to proceed in this way."

Fechner's intention was independently executed by Mr. Galton, the publication of whose results in 1880 may be said to have made an era in descriptive Psychology.

"It is not necessary," says Galton, "to trouble the reader with my early tentative steps. After the inquiry had been fairly started it took the form of submitting a certain number of printed questions to a large number of persons. There is hardly any more difficult task than that of framing questions which are not likely to be misunderstood, which admit of easy reply, and which cover the ground of inquiry. I did my best in these respects, without forgetting the most important part of all-namely, to tempt my correspondents to write freely in fuller explanation of their replies, and on cognate topics as well. These separate letters have proved more instructive and interesting by far than the replies to the set questions.

"The first group of the rather long series of queries related to the illumination, definition, and coloring of the mental image, and were framed thus:

"Before addressing yourself to any of the Questions on the opposite page, think of some definite object -- suppose it is your breakfast-table as you sat down to it this morning -- and consider carefully the picture that rises before your mind's eye.

" '1. Illumination. -- Is the image dim or fairly clear? Is its brightness comparable to that of the actual scene?

" '2. Definition. -- Are all the objects pretty well defined at the same timid, or is the place of sharpest definition at any one moment more contracted than it is in a real scene?

" '3. Coloring. -Are the colors of the china, of the toast, bread-crust, mustard, meat, parsley, or whatever may have been on the table, quite distinct and natural?'

"The earliest results of my inquiry amazed me. I had begun by questioning friends in the scientific world, as they were the most likely class of men to give accurate answers concerning this faculty of visual- izing, to which novelists and poets continually allude, which has left an abiding mark on the vocabularies of every language, and which supplies the material out of which dreams and the well-known hallucinations of sick people are built.

"To my astonishment, I found that, the great majority of the men of science to whom I first applied protested that mental imagery way unknown to them, and they looked on me as fanciful and fantastic in supposing that the words 'mental imagery' really expressed what I believed everybody supposed them to mean. They had no more notion of its true nature than a color-blind man, who has not discerned his defect, has of the nature of color. They had a mental deficiency of which they were unaware, and naturally enough supposed that those who affirmed they possessed it were romancing. To illustrate their mental attitude it will be sufficient to quote a few lines from the letter of one of my correspondents, who writes:

"'These questions presuppose assent to some sort of a proposition regarding the "mind's eye," and the "images" which it sees. . . . This points to some initial fallacy. . . . It is only by a figure of speech that I can describe my recollection of a scene as a "mental image" which I can "see" with my "mind's eye." . . . I do not see it . . . any more than a man sees the thousand lines of Sophocles which under due pressure he is ready to repeat. The memory possesses it,' etc.

"Much the same result followed inquiries made for me by a friend among members of the French Institute.

"On the other hand, when I spoke to persons whom I met in general society, I found an entirely different disposition to prevail. Many men and a yet large number of women, and many boys and girls, declared that they habitually saw mental imagery, and that it way perfectly distinct to them and full of color. The more I pressed and crossed-questioned them, professing myself to be incredulous, the more obvious was the truth of their first assertions. They described their imagery in minute detail, and they spoke in a tone of surprise at my apparent hesitation in accepting what they said. I felt that I myself should have spoken exactly as they did if I had been describing a scene that lay before my eyes, in broad daylight, to a blind man who persisted in doubting the reality of vision. Reassured by this happier experience, I recommenced to inquire among" scientific men, and soon found scattered instances of what I sought, though in by no means the same abundance as elsewhere. I then circulated my questions more generally among my friends and through their hands, and obtained replies . . . from persons of both sexes, and of various ages, and in the end from occasional correspondents in nearly every civilized country.

"I have also received batches of answers from various educational establishments both in England and America, which were made after the masters had fully explained the meaning of the questions, and interested the boys in them. These have the merit of returns derived from a general census, which my other data lack, because I cannot for a moment suppose that the writers of the latter are a haphazard proportion of those to whom they were sent. Indeed I know of some who, disavowing all possession of the power, and of many others who, possessing it in too faint a degree to enable them to express what their experiences really were, in a manner satisfactory to themselves, sent no returns at all. Considerable statistical similarity was, however, observed between the sets of returns furnished by the schoolboys and those sent by my separate correspondents, and I may add that they accord in this respect with the oral information I have elsewhere obtained. The conformity of replies from so many different sources which was clear from the first, the fact of their apparent trustworthiness being on the whole much increased by cross-examination (though I could give one or two amusing instances of break-down), and the evident effort made to give accurate answers, have convinced me that it is a much easier matter than I had anticipated to obtain trustworthy replies to psychological questions. Many persons, especially women and intelligent children, take pleasure in introspection, and strive their very best to explain their mental processes. I think that a delight in self-dissection must be a strong ingredient in the pleasure that many are said to take in confessing themselves to priests.

"Here, then, are two rather notable results: the one is the proved facility of obtaining statistical insight into the processes of other persons' minds, whatever a priori objection may have been made as to its possibility; and the other is that scientific men, as a class, have feeble powers of visual representation. There is no doubt whatever on the latter point, however it may be accounted for. My own conclusion is that an over-ready perception of sharp mental pictures is antagonistic to the acquirement of habits of highly-generalized and abstract thought, especially when the steps of reasoning are carried on by words as symbols, and that if the faculty of seeing the pictures was ever possessed by men who think hard, it is very apt to be lost by disuse. The highest minds are probably those in which it is not lost, but subordinated, and is ready for use on suitable occasions. I am, however, bound to say that the missing faculty seems to be replaced so serviceably by other modes of conception, chiefly, I believe, connected with the incipient motor sense, not of the eyeballs only but of the muscles generally, that men who declare themselves entirely deficient in the power of seeing mental pictures can nevertheless give lifelike descriptions of what they have seen, and can otherwise express themselves as if they were gifted with a vivid visual imagination. They can also become painters of rank of Royal Academicians. . . .

"It is a mistake to suppose that sharp sight is accompanied by clear visual memory. I have not a few instances in which the independence of the two faculties is emphatically commented on; and I have at least one clear case where great interest in outlines and accurate appreciation of straightness, squareness, and the like, is unaccompanied by the power of visualizing. Neither does the faculty go with dreaming. I have cases where it is powerful, and at the same time where dreams are rare and faint or altogether absent. One friend tells me that his dreams have not the hundredth part of the vigor of his waking fancies.

"The visualizing and the identifying powers are by no means necessarily combined. A distinguished writer on metaphysical topics assures me that he is exceptionally quick at recognizing a face that he has seen before, but that he cannot call up a mental image of any face with clearness.

"Some persons have the power of combining in a single perception more than can be seen at any one moment by the two eyes . . . .

"I find that a few persons can, by what they often describe as a kind of touch-sight, visualize at the same moment all round the image of a solid body. Many can do so nearly, but not altogether round that of a terrestrial globe. An eminent mineralogist assures me that he is able to imagine simultaneously all the sides of a crystal with which he is familiar. I may be allowed to quote a curious faculty of my own in respect to this. It is exercised only occasionally and in dreams, or rather in nightmares, but under those circumstances I am perfectly conscious of embracing an entire sphere in a single perception. It appears to lie within my mental eyeball, and to be viewed centripetally.

"This power of comprehension is practically attained in many cases by indirect methods. It is a common feat to take in the whole surroundings of an imagined room with such a rapid mental sweep as to leave some doubt whether it has not been viewed simultaneously. Some persons have the habit of viewing objects as though they were partly transparent; thus, if they so dispose a globe in their imagination as to see both its north and south poles at the same time, they will not be able to see its equatorial parts. They can also perceive all the rooms of an imaginary house by a single mental glance, the walls and floors being as if made of glass. A fourth class of persons have the habit of recalling scenes, not from the point of view whence they were observed, but from a distance, and they visualize their own selves as actors on the mental stage. By one or other of these ways, the power of seeing the whole of an object, and not merely one aspect of it, is possessed by many persons.

"The place where the image appears to lie differs much. Most persons see it in an indefinable sort of way, others see it in front of the eye, others at a distance corresponding to reality. There exists a power which is rare naturally, but can, I believe, be acquired without much difficulty, of projecting a mental picture upon a piece of paper, and of holding it fast there, so that it can be outlined with a pencil. To this I shall recur.

"Images usually do not become stronger by dwelling on them; the first idea is commonly the most vigorous, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the mental view of a locality is inseparably connected with the sense of its position as regards the points of the compass, real or imaginary. I have received full and curious descriptions from very different sources of this strong geographical tendency, and in one or two cases I have reason to think it allied to a considerable faculty of geographical comprehension.

"The power of visualizing is higher in the female sex than in the male, and is somewhat, but not much, higher in public-school boys than in men. After maturity is reached, the further advance of age does not seem to dim the faculty, but rather the reverse, judging from numerous statements to that effect; but advancing years are sometimes accompanied by a growing habit of hard abstract thinking, and in these cases not uncommon among those whom I have questioned -- the faculty undoubtedly becomes impaired. There is reason to believe that it is very high in some young children, who seem to spend years of difficulty in distinguishing between the subjective and objective world. Language and book-learning certainly tend to dull it.

"The visualizing faculty is a natural gift, and, like all natural gifts, has a tendency to be inherited. In this faculty the tendency to inheritance is exceptionally strong, as I have abundant evidence to prove, especially in respect to certain rather rare peculiarities, . . . which, when they exist at all, are usually found among two, three, or more brothers and sisters, parents, children, uncles and aunts, and cousins.

"Since families differ so much in respect to this gift, we may suppose that races would also differ, and there can be no doubt that such is the case. I hardly like to refer to civilized nations, because their natural faculties are too much modified by education to allow of their being appraised in an off-hand fashion. I may, however, speak of the French, who appear to possess the visualizing faculty in a high degree. The peculiar ability they show in prearranging ceremonials and fêtes of all kinds, and their undoubted genius for tactics and strategy, show that they are able to foresee effects with unusual clearness. Their ingenuity in all technical contrivances is an additional testimony in the same direction, and so is their singular clearness of expression. Their phrase is "Figurez-vous,' or 'picture to yourself,' seems to express their dominant mode of perception. Our equivalent of 'Imagine' is ambiguous.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

"I have many cases of persons mentally reading off scores when playing the pianoforte, or manuscript when they are making speeches. One statesman has assured me that a certain hesitation in utterance which he has at times is due to his being plagued by the image of his manuscript speech with its original erasures and corrections. He cannot lay the ghost, and he puzzles in trying to decipher it.

"Some few persons see mentally in print every word that is uttered; they attend to the visual equivalent and not to the sound of the words, and they read them off usually as from a long imaginary strip of paper, such as is unwound from telegraphic instruments."

The reader will find further details in Mr. Galton's 'Inquiries into Human Faculty,' pp. 83-114. 9 I have myself for many years collected from each and all of my psychology-students descriptions of their own visual imagination; and found (together with some curious idiosyncrasies) corroboration of all the variations which Mr. Galton reports. As examples, I subjoin extracts from two cases near the ends of the scale. The writers are first cousins, grandsons of a distinguished man of science. The one who is a good visualizer says:

"This morning's breakfast-table is both dim and bright; it is dim if I try to think of it when my eyes are open upon any object; it is perfectly clear and bright if I think of it with my eyes closed. -- All the objects are clear at once, yet when I confine my attention to any one object it becomes far more distinct. -- I have more power to recall color than any other one thing: if, for example, I were to recall a plate decorated with flowers I could reproduce in a drawing the exact tone, etc. The color of anything that was on the table is perfectly vivid. -- There is very little limitation to the extent of my images: I can see all four sides of a room, I can see all four sides of two, three, four, even more rooms with such distinctness that if you should ask me what was in any particular place in any one, or ask me to count the chairs, etc., I could do it without the least hesitation. -- The more I learn by heart the more clearly do I see images of my pages. Even before I can recite the lines I see them so that I could give them very slowly word for word, but my mind is so occupied in looking at my printed image that I have no idea of what I am saying, of the sense of it, etc. When I first found myself doing this I used to think it was merely because I knew the lines imperfectly; but I have quite convinced myself that I really do see an image. The strongest proof that such is really the fact is, I think, the following:

" I can look down the mentally seen page and see the words that commence all the lines, and from any one of these words I can continue the line. I find this much easier to do if the words begin in a straight line than if there are breaks. Example:

Étant fait . . . . .

Tous . . . . .

A des . . . . .

Que fit . . . . .

Céres

Avec . . . . .

Un fleur . . . . .

Comme . . . . .

(La Fontaine 8. iv.)"

The poor visualizer says:

"My ability to form mental images seems, from what I have studied of other people's images, to be defective, and somewhat peculiar. The process by which I seem to remember any particular event is not by x series of distinct images, but a sort of panorama, the faintest impressions of which are perceptible through a thick fog. -- I cannot shut my eyes and get a distinct image of anyone, although I used to be able to a few years ago, and the faculty seems to have gradually slipped away. -- In my most vivid dreams, where the events appear like the most real facts, I am often troubled with dimness of sight which causes the images to appear indistinct. -- To come to the question of the breakfast-table, there is nothing definite about it. Everything is vague. I cannot say what I see. I could not possibly count the chairs, but I happen to know that there are ten. I see nothing in detail. -- The chief thing is in general impression that I cannot tell exactly what I do see. The coloring is about the same, as far as I can recall it, only very much washed out. Perhaps the only color I can see at all distinctly is that of the tablecloth, and I could probably see the color of the wall-paper if I could remember what color it was."

A person whose visual imagination is strong finds it hard to understand how those who are without the faculty can think at all. Some people undoubtedly have no visual images at all worthy of the name, 10 and instead of seeing their breakfast-table, they tell you that they remember it or know what was on it. This knowing and remembering takes place undoubtedly by means of verbal images, as was explained already in Chapter IX, pp. 265-6.

The study of Aphasia (see p. 54) has of late years shown how unexpectedly great are the differences between individuals in respect of imagination. And at the same time the discrepancies between lesion and symptom in different cases of the disease have been largely cleared up. In some individuals the habitual 'thought-stuff,' if one may so call it, is visual; in others it is auditory, articulatory, or motor; in most, perhaps, it is evenly mixed. The same local cerebral injury must needs work different practical results in persons who differ in this way. In one it will throw a much used brain-tract out of gear; in the other it may affect an unimportant region. A particularly instructive case was published by Charcot in 1883. 11 The patient was

Mr. X., a merchant, born in Vienna, highly educated, master of German, Spanish, French, Greek, and Latin. Up to the beginning of the malady which took him to Professor Charcot, he read Homer at sight. He could, starting from any verse out of the first book of the Iliad, repeat the following verses without hesitating, by heart. Virgil and Horace were familiar. He also knew enough of modern Greek for business purposes. Up to within a year (from the time Charcot saw him) he enjoyed an exceptional visual memory, He no sooner thought of persons or things, but features, forms, and colors arose with the same clearness, sharpness, and accuracy as if the objects stood before him. When he tried to recall a fact or a figure in his voluminous polyglot correspondence, the letters themselves appeared before him with their entire content, irregularities, erasures and all. At school he recited from a mentally seen page which be read off line by line and letter by letter. In making computations, he ran his mental eye down imaginary columns of figures, and performed in this way the most varied operations of arithmetic. He could never think of a passage in a play without the entire scene, stage, actors, and audience appearing to him. He had been a great traveller. Being a good draughtsman, he used to sketch views which pleased him; and his memory always brought back the entire landscape exactly. If lie thought of a conversation, a saying, an engagement, the place, the people, the entire scene rose before his mind.

His auditory memory was always deficient, or at least secondary. He had no taste for music.

A year and a half previous to examination, after business-anxieties, loss of sleep, appetite, etc., he noticed suddenly one day ail extraordinary change in himself. After complete confusion, there came a violent contrast between his old and his new state. Everything about him seemed so new and foreign that, at first he thought he must be going mad. He was nervous and irritable. Although he saw all things distinct, he had entirely lost his memory for forms and colors. On ascertaining this, he became reassured as to his sanity. He soon discovered that he could carry on his affairs by using his memory in an altogether new way. He can now describe clearly the difference between his two conditions.

Every time he returns to A., from which place business often calls him, he seems to himself as if entering a strange city. He views the monuments, houses, and streets with the same surprise as if he saw them for tile first time. Gradually, however, his memory returns, and he finds himself at home again. When asked to describe the principal public place of the town, he answered, "I know that it is there, but it is impossible to imagine it, and I can tell you nothing about it." He has often drawn the port of A. To-day he vainly tries to trace its principal outlines. Asked to draw a minaret, lie reflects, says it is a square tower, and draws, rudely, four lines, one for ground, one for top, and two for sides. Asked to draw an arcade, he says, "I remember that it contains semi-circular arches, and that two of them meeting at an angle make a vault, but how it looks I am absolutely unable to imagine." The profile of a man which he drew by request was as if drawn by a little child; and yet he confessed that he had been helped to draw it by looking at the bystanders. Similarly lie drew a shapeless scribble for a tree.

He can no more remember his wife's and children's faces than he can remember the port of A. Even after being with them some time they seem unusual to him. He forgets his own face, and once spoke to his image in a mirror, taking it for a stranger. He complains of his loss of feeling for colors. "My wife has black hair, this I know; but I can no more recall its color than I can her person and features." This visual amnesia extends to dating objects from his childhood's years -- paternal mansion, etc., forgotten.

No other disturbances but this loss of visual images. Now when he seeks something in his correspondence, he must rummage among the letters like other men, until he meets the passage. He can recall only the first few verses of the Iliad, and must grope to read Homer, Virgil, and Horace. Figures which he adds he must now whisper to himself. He realizes clearly that he must help his memory out with auditory images, which he does with effort. The words and expressions which he recalls seem now to echo in his ear, an altogether novel sensations for him. If he wishes to learn by heart anything, a series of phrases for example, he must read them several times aloud, so as to impress his ear. When later he repeats the thing in question, the sensation of in- ward hearing which precedes articulation rises up in his mind. This feeling was formerly unknown to him. He speaks French fluently; but affirms that he call no longer think in French; but must get his French words by translating them from Spanish or German, the languages of his childhood. He dreams no more in visual terms, but only in words, usually Spanish words. A certain degree of verbal blindness affects him -- he is troubled by the Greek alphabet, etc. 12

If this patient had possessed the auditory type of imagination from the start, it is evident that the injury, whatever it was, to his centres for optical imagination, would have affected his practical life much less profoundly.

"The auditory type," says M. A. Binet, 13 "appears to be rarer than the visual. Persons of this type imagine what they think of in the language of sound. In order to remember a lesson they impress upon their mind, not the look of the page, but the sound of tile words. They reason, as well as remember, by ear. In performing a mental addition they repeat verbally the names of the figures, and add, as it were, the sounds, without any thought of the graphic signs. Imagination also takes the auditory form. 'When I write a scene,' said Legouvé to Scribe, 'I hear; but you see. In each phrase which I write, the voice of the personage who speaks strikes my ear. 'Vous, qui êtes le théâtre même, your actors walk, gesticulate before your eyes; I am a listener, you a spectator.' -- ' Nothing more true,' said Scribe; 'do you know where I am when I write a piece? In the middle of the parterre.' It is clear that the pure audile, seeking to develop only a single one of his faculties, may, like the pure visualizer, perform astounding feats of memory -- Mozart, for example, noting from memory the Miserere of the Sistine Chapel after two hearings; the deaf Beethoven, composing and inwardly repeating his enormous symphonies. On the other hand, the man of auditory type, like the visual, is exposed to serious dangers; for if he lose his auditory images, he is without resource and breaks down completely.

"It is possible that persons with hallucinations of hearing, and in- dividuals afflicted with the mania that they are victims of persecution, may all belong to the auditory type; and that the predominance of a certain kind of imagination may predispose to a certain order of hallucinations, and perhaps of delirium.

"The motor type remains -- perhaps the most interesting of all, and certainly the one of which least is known. Persons who belong to this type [les moters, in French, motiles, as Mr. Galton proposes to call them in English] make use, in memory, reasoning, and all their intellectual operations, of images derived from movement. In order to understand this important point, it is enough to remember that 'all our perceptions, and in particular the important ones, those of sight and touch, contain as integral elements the movements of our eyes and limbs; and that, if movement is ever an essential factor in our really seeing an object, it must be an equally essential factor when we see the same object in imagination' (Ribot). 15 For example, the complex impression of a ball, which is there, in our hand, is the resultant of optical impressions of touch, of muscular adjustments of the eye, of the movements of our fingers, and of the muscular sensations which these yield. When we imagine the ball, its idea must include the images of these muscular sensations, just as it includes those of the retinal and epidermal sensations. They form so many motor images. If they were not earlier recognized to exist, that is because our knowledge of the muscular sense is relatively so recent. In older psychologies it never was mentioned, the number of senses being restricted to five.

"There are persons who remember a drawing better when they have followed its outlines with their finger. Lecoq do Boisbaudran used this means in his artistic teaching, in order to accustom his pupils to draw from memory. He made them follow the outlines of figures with a pencil held in the air, forcing them thus to associate muscular with 'visual memory. Galton quotes a curious corroborative fact. Colonel Moncrieff often observed in North America young Indians who, visiting occasionally his quarters, interested themselves greatly in the engravings which were shown them. One of them followed with care with the point of his knife the outline of a drawing in the Illustrated London News, saying that this was to enable him to carve it out the better on his return home. In this case the motor images were to reinforce the visual ones. The young savage was a motor. 16 . . . When one's motor images are destroyed, one loses one's remembrance of movements, and sometimes, more curiously still, one loses the power of executing them. Pathology gives us examples in motor aphasia, agraphia, etc. Take the case of agraphia. An educated man, knowing how to write, suddenly loses this power, as a result of cerebral injury. His hand and arm are in no way paralytic, yet he cannot write. Whence this loss of power? He tells us himself: he no longer knows how. He has forgotten how to set about it to trace the letters, he has lost the memory of the movements to be executed, he has no longer the motor images which, when formerly he wrote, directed his hand. . . . Other patients, affected with word-blindness, resort to these motor images precisely to make amends for their other deficiency. . . . An individual affected in this way cannot read letters which are placed before his eyes, even although his sight be good enough for the purpose. This loss of the power of reading by sight may, at a certain time, be the only trouble the patient has. Individuals thus mutilated succeed in reading by an ingenious roundabout way which they often discover themselves: it is enough that they should trace the letters with their finger to understand their sense. What happens in such a case? How can the hand supply the place of the eye? The motor image gives the key to the problem. If the patient can read, so to speak, with his fingers, it is because in tracing the letters he gives himself a certain number of muscular impressions which are those of writing. In one word, the patient reads by writing, (Charcot): the feeling of the graphic movements suggests the sense of what is being written as well as sight would." 17

The imagination of a blind-deaf mute like Laura Bridgman must be confined entirely to tactile and motor material All blind persons mart belong to the 'tactile' and 'motile' types of the French authors. When the young man whose cataracts were removed by Dr. Franz was shown different geometric figures, he said he "had not been able to form from them the idea of a square and a disk until he perceived a sensation of what he saw in the points of his fingers, as if he really touched the objects." 18

Professor Stricker of Vienna, who seems to have the motile form of imagination developed in unusual strength, has given a very careful analysis of his own else in a couple of monographs with which all students should become familiar. 19 His recollections both of his own movements and of those of other things are accompanied invariably by distinct muscular feelings in those parts of his body which would naturally be used in effecting or in following the movement. In thinking of a soldier marching, for example, it is as if he were helping the image to march by marching himself in his rear. And if he suppresses this sympathetic feeling in his own legs, and concentrates all his attention on the imagined soldier, the litter becomes, as it were, paralysed. In general his imagined movements, of whatsoever objects, seem paralysed the moment no feelings of movement either in his own eyes or in his own limbs accompany them. 20 The movements of articulate speech play a predominant part in his mental life.

"When after my experimental work I proceed to its description, as a rule I reproduce in the first instance only words, which I had already associated with the perception of the various details of the observation whilst the latter was going on. For speech plays in all my observing so important a part that I ordinarily clothe phenomena in words as fast as I observe them." 21

Most persons, on being asked in what sort of terms they imagine words, will say 'in terms of hearing.' It is not until their attention is expressly drawn to the point that they find it difficult to say whether auditory images or motor images connected with the organs of articulation predominate. A good way of bringing the difficulty to consciousness is that proposed by Stricker: Partly open your mouth and then imagine any word with labials or dentals in it, such as 'bubble,' 'toddle.' Is your image under these conditions distinct? To most people the image is at first 'thick,' as the sound of the word would be if they tried to pronounce it with the lips parted. Many can never imagine the words clearly with the mouth open; others succeed after a few preliminary trials. The experiment proves how dependent our verbal imagination is on actual feelings in lips, tongue, throat, larynx, etc.

"When we recall the impression of a word or sentence, if we do not speak it out, we feel the twitter of the organs just about to come to that point. The articulating parts -- the larynx, the tongue, the lips are all sensibly excited; a suppressed articulation is in fact the material of our recollection, the intellectual manifestation, the idea of speech. 22

The open mouth in Stricker's experiment not only prevents actual articulation of the labials, but our feeling of its openness keeps us from imagining their articulation, just as a sensation of glaring light will keep us from strongly imagining darkness. In persons whose auditory imagination is weak, the articulatory image seems to constitute the whole material for verbal thought. Professor Stricker says that in his own case no auditory image enters into the words of which he thinks. 23 Like most psychologists, however, he makes of his personal peculiarities a rule, and says that verbal thinking is normally and universally an exclusively motor representation. I certainly get auditory images, both of vowels and of consonants, in addition to the articulatory images or feelings on which this author lays such stress. And I find that numbers of my students, after repeating his experiments, come to this conclusion. There is at first a difficulty due to the open mouth. That, however, soon vanishes, as does also the difficulty of thinking of one vowel whilst continuously sounding another. What probably remains true, however, is that most men have a less auditory and a more articulatory verbal imagination than they are apt to be aware of. Professor Stricker himself has acoustic images, and can imagine the sounds of musical instruments, and the peculiar voice of a friend. A statistical inquiry on a large scale, into the variations of acoustic, tactile, and motor imagination, would probably bear less fruit than Galton's inquiry into visual images. A few monographs by competent observers, like Stricker, about their own peculiarities, would give much more valuable information about the diversities which prevail. 24

Touch-images are very strong in some people. The most vivid touch-images come when we ourselves barely escape local injury, or when we see another injured. The place may then actually tingle with the imaginary sensation -- perhaps not altogether imaginary, sine goose-flesh, paling or reddening, and other evidences of actual mucular contraction in the spot may result.

"An educated man," says a writer who must always be quoted when it is question of the powers of imagination, 25 "told me once that on entering his house one day he received a shock from crushing the finger of one of his little children in the door. At the moment of his fright he felt a violent pain in the corresponding finger of his own body, and this pain abode with him three days."

The same author makes the following discrimination, which probably most men could verify:

"On the skin I easily succeed in bringing out suggested sensations wherever I will. But because it is necessary to protract the mental effort I can only awaken such sensations as are in their nature prolonged, as warmth, cold, pressure. Fleeting sensations, as those of a prick, a cut, a blow, etc., I am unable to call up, because I cannot imagine them ex abrupto with the requisite intensity. The sensations of the former order I can excite upon any part of the skin; and they may become so lively that, whether I will or not, I have to pass my hand over the place just as if it were a real impression on the skin." 26

Meyer's account of his own visual images is very interesting; and with it we may close our survey of differences between the normal powers of imagining in different individuals.

"With much practice," he says, "I have succeeded in making it possible for me to call up subjective visual sensations at will. I tried all my experiments by day or at night with closed eyes. At first it was very difficult. In the first experiments which succeeded the whole picture was luminous, the shadows being given in a somewhat less strong bluish light. In later experiments I saw the objects dark, with bright outlines, or rather I saw outline drawings of them, bright on a dark ground. I can compare these drawings less to chalk drawings on a blackboard than to drawings made with phosphorus on a dark wall at night, though the phosphorus would show luminous vapors which were absent from my lines. If I wished, for example, to see a face, without intending that of a particular person, I saw the outline of a profile against the dark background. When I tried to repeat an experiment of the elder Darwin I saw only the edges of the die as bright lines on a dark ground. Sometimes, however, I saw the die really white and its edges black; it was then on a paler ground. I could soon at will change between a white die with black borders on a light field, and a black die with white borders on a dark field; and I can do this at any moment now. After long practice . . . these experiments succeeded better still. I can now call before my eyes almost any object which I please, as a subjective appearance, and this in its own natural color and illumination. I see them almost always on a more or less light or dark, mostly dimly changeable ground. Even known faces I can see quite sharp, with the true color of hair and cheeks. It is odd that I see these faces mostly in profile, whereas those described [in the previous extract] were all full-face. Here are some of the final results of these experiments:

"1) Some time after the pictures have arisen they vanish or change into others, without my being able to prevent it.

"2) When the color does not integrally belong to the object, I cannot always control it. A face, e.g., never seems to me blue, but always in its natural color; a red cloth, on the other hand, I can sometimes change to a blue one.

"3) I have sometimes succeeded in seeing pure colors without objects; they then fill the entire field of view.

"4) I often fail to see objects which are not known to me, mere fictions of my fancy, and instead of them there will appear familiar objects of a similar sort; for instance, I once tried to see a brass sword-hilt with a brass guard, instead of which the more familiar picture of a rapier-guard appeared.

"5) Most of these subjective appearances, especially when they were bright, left after-images behind them when the eyes were quickly opened during their presence, For example, I thought of a silver stirrup, and after I had looked at it a while I opened my eyes and for a long while afterwards saw its afterimage.

"These experiments succeeded best when I lay quietly on my back and closed my eyes. I could bear no noise about me, as this kept the vision from attaining the requisite intensity. The experiments succeed with me now so easily that I am surprised they did not do so at first,

I feel as though they ought to succeed with everyone. The important point in them is to get the image sufficiently intense by the exclusive direction of the attention upon it, and by the removal of all disturbing impressions." 28

The negative after-images which succeeded upon Meyer's imagination when he opened his eyes are a highly interesting, though rare, phenomenon. So far as I know there is only one other published report of a similar experience. 29 It would seem that in such a case the neural process corresponding to the imagination must be the entire tract concerned in the actual sensation, even down as far as the retina. This leads to a new question to which we may now turn -- of what is

The Neural Process which Underlies Imagination

The commonly-received idea is that it is only a milder degree of the same process which took place when the thing now imagined was sensibly perceived. Professor Bain writes:

"Since a sensation in the first instance diffuses nerve-currents through the interior of the brain outwards to the organs of expression and movement, -- the persistence of that sensation, after the outward exciting cause is withdrawn, can be but a continuance of the same diffusive currents, perhaps less intense, but not otherwise different. The shock remaining in the ear and brain, after the sound of thunder, must pass through the same circles, and operate in the same way as during the actual sound. We can have no reason for believing that, in this self-sustaining condition, the impression changes its seat, or passes into some new circles that have the special property of retaining it. Every part actuated after the shock must have been actuated by the shock, only more powerfully. With this single difference of intensity, the mode of existence of a sensation existing after the fact is essentially the same as its mode of existence during the fact. . . . Now if this be the else with impressions persisting when the cause has ceased, what view are we to adopt concerning impressions reproduced by mental causes alone, or without the aid of the original, as in ordinary recollection? What is the manner of occupation of the brain with a resuscitated feeling of resistance, a smell or a sound? There is only one answer that seems admissable. The renewed feeling occupies the very same parts, and in the same manner, as the original feeling, and no other parts, nor in any other assignable manner. I imagine that if our present knowledge of the brain had been present to the earliest speculators, this is the only hypothesis that would have occurred to them. For where should a past feeling be embodied, if not in the same organs as the feeling when present? It is only in this way that its identity can be preserved; a feeling differently embodied would be a different feeling." 30

It is not plain from Professor Bain's text whether by the 'same parts' he means only the same parts inside the brain, or the same peripheral parts also, as those occupied by the original feeling. The examples which he himself proceeds to give are almost all cases of imagination of movement, in which the peripheral organs are indeed affected, for actual movements of a weak sort are found to accompany the idea. This is what we should expect. All currents tend to run forward in the brain and discharge into the muscular system; and the idea of a movement tends to do this with peculiar facility. But the question remains: Do currents run backward, so that if the optical centres (for example) are excited by 'association' and a visual object is imagined, a current runs down to the retina also, and excites that sympathetically with the higher tracts? In other words, canperipheral sense-organs be excited from above, or only from without? Are they excited in imagination? Professor Bain's instances are almost silent as to this point. All he says is this:

"We might think of a blow on the hand until the skin were actually irritated and inflamed. The attention very much directed to any part of the body, as the great toe, for instance, is apt to produce a distinct feeling in the part, which we account for only by supposing a revived nerve-current to flow there, making a sort of false sensation, an influence from within mimicking the influences from without in sensation proper. -- (See the writings of Mr. Braid, of Manchester, on Hypnotism, etc.)"

If I may judge from my own experience, all feelings of this sort are consecutive upon motor currents invading the skin and producing contraction of the muscles there, the muscles whose contraction gives 'goose-flesh' when it takes place on an extensive scale. I never get a feeling in the skin, however strongly I imagine it, until some actual change in the condition of the skin itself has occurred. The truth seems to be that the cases where peripheral sense-organs are directly excited in consequence of imagination are exceptional rarities if they exist at all. In common cases of imagination it could seem more natural to suppose that the seat of the process is purely cerebral, and that the sense-organ is left out. Reasons for such a conclusion would be briefly these:

1) In imagination the starting-point of the process must be in the brain. Now we know that currents usually flow one way in the nervous system; and for the peripheral sense-organs to be excited in these cases, the current would have to flow backward.

2) There is between imagined objects and felt objects a difference of conscious quality which may be called almost absolute. It is hardly possible to confound the liveliest image of fancy with the weakest real sensation. The felt object has a plastic reality and outwardness which the imagined object wholly lacks. Moreover, as Fechner says, in imagination the attention feels as if drawn backwards to the brain; in sensation (even of after-images) it is directed forward towards the sense-organ. 31 The difference between the two processes feels like one of kind, and not like a mere 'more' or 'less' of the same. 32 If a sensation of sound were only a strong imagination, and an imagination a weak sensation, there ought to be a border-line of experience where we never could tell whether we were hearing a weak sound or imagining a strong one. In comparing a present sensation felt with a past one imagined, it will be remembered that we often judge the imagined one to have been the stronger (see above, p. 500, note). This is inexplicable if the imagination be simply a weaker excitement of the sensational process.

To these reasons the following objections may be made: To l): The current demonstrably does flow backward down the optic nerve in Meyer's and Féré's negative afterimage. Therefore it can flow backward; therefore it may flow backward in some, however slight, degree, in all imagination. 33

To 2): The difference alleged is not absolute, and sensation and imagination are hard to discriminate where the sensation is so weak as to be just perceptible. At night hearing a very faint striking of the hour by a far-off clock, our imagination reproduces both rhythm and sound, and it is often difficult to tell which was the last real stroke. So of a baby crying in a distant part of the house, we are uncertain whether we still hear it, or only imagine the sound. Certain violin-players take advantage of this in diminuendo terminations. After the pianissimo has been reached they continue to bow as if still playing, but are careful not to touch the strings. The listener hears in imagination a degree of sound fainter still than the preceding pianissimo. This phenomenon is not confined to hearing:

"If we slowly approach our finger to a surface of water, we often deceive ourselves about the moment in which the wetting occurs. The apprehensive patient believes himself to feel the knife of the surgeon whilst it is still at some distance." 34

Visual perception supplies numberless instances in which the same sensation of vision is perceived as one object or another according to the interpretation of the mind. Many of these instances will come before us in the course of the next two chapters; and in Chapter XIX similar illusions will be described in the other senses. Taken together, all these facts would force us to admit that the subjective difference between imagined and felt objects is less absolute than has been claimed, and that the cortical processes which underlie imagination andsensation are notquite as discrete as one at first is tempted to suppose. That peripheral sensory processes are ordinarily involved in imagination seems improbable; that they may sometimes be aroused from the cortex downwards cannot, however, be dogmatically denied.

The imagination-process CAN then pass over into the sensation-process. In other words, genuine sensations can be centrally originated. When we come to study hallucinations in the chapter on Outer Perception, we shall see that this is by no means a thing of rare occurrence. At present, however, we must admit that normally the two processes do NOT Pass Over into each other; and we must inquire why. One of two things must be the reason. Either

1. Sensation-processes occupy a different locality from imagination-processes; or

2. Occupying the same locality, they have an intensity which under normal circumstances currents from other cortical regions are incapable of arousing, and to produce which currents from the periphery are required.

It seems almost certain (after what was said in Chapter II. pp. 49-51) that the imagination-process dryers from the sensation-process by its intensity rather than by its locality. However it may be with lower animals, the assumption that ideational and sensorial centres are locally distinct appears to be supported by no facts drawn from the observation of human beings. After occipital destruction, the hemianopsia which results in man is sensorial blindness, not mere loss of optical ideas. Were there centres for crude optical sensation below the cortex, the patients in these cases would still feel light and darkness. Since they do not preserve even this impression on the lost half of the field, we must suppose that there are no centres for vision of any sort whatever below the cortex, and that the corpora quadrigemina and other lower optical ganglia are organs for reflex movement of eye-muscles and not for conscious sight. Moreover there are no facts which oblige us to think that, within the occipital cortex, one part is connected with sensation and another with mere ideation or imagination. The pathological cases assumed to prove this are all better explained by disturbances of conduction between the optical and other centres (see p. 50). In bad cases of hemianopsia the patient's images depart from him together with his sensibility to light. They depart so completely that he does not even know what is the matter with him. To perceive that one is blind to the right half of the field of view one must have an idea of that part of the field's possible existence. But the defect in these patients has to be revealed to them by the doctor, they themselves only knowing that there is 'something wrong' with their eyes. What you have no idea of you cannot miss; and their not definitely missing this great region out of their sight seems due to the fact that their very idea and memory of it is lost along with the sensation. A man blind of his eyes merely, sees darkness. A man blind of his visual brain-centres can no more see darkness out of the parts of his retina which are connected with the brain-lesion than lie can see it out of the skin of his back. He cannot see at all in that part of the field; and he cannot think of the light which he ought to be feeling there, for the very notion of the existence of that particular 'there' is cut out of his mind. 35

Now if we admit that sensation and imagination are due to the activity of the same centres in the cortex, we can see a very good teleological reason why they should correspond to discrete kinds of process in these centres and why the process which gives the sense that the object is really there ought normally to be arousable only by currents entering from the periphery and not by currents from the neighboring cortical parts. We can see, in short, why the sensational process OUGHT TO be discontinuous with all normal ideational processes, however intense. For, as Dr. Münsterberg justly observes:

"Were there not this peculiar arrangement we should not distinguish reality and fantasy, our conduct would not be accommodated to the facts about us, but would be inappropriate and senseless, and we could not keep ourselves alive . . . . That our thoughts and memories should be copies of sensations with their intensity greatly reduced is thus a consequence deducible logically from the natural adaptation of the cerebral mechanism to its environment." 36

Mechanically the discontinuity between the ideational and the sensational kinds of process must mean that when the greatest ideational intensity has been reached, an order of resistance presents itself which only a new order of force can break through. The current from the periphery is the new order of force required; and what happens after the resistance is overcome is the sensational process. We may suppose that the latter consists in some new and more violent sort of disintegration of the neural matter, which now explodes at a deeper level than at other times.

Now how shall we conceive of the 'resistance' which prevents this sort of disintegration from taking place, this sort of intensity in the process from being attained, so much of the time? It must be either an intrinsic resistance, some force of cohesion in the neural molecules themselves; or an extrinsic influence, due to other cortical cells. When we come to study the process of hallucination we shall see that both factors must be taken into account. There is a degree of inward molecular cohesion in our brain-cells while it probably takes a sudden inrush of destructive energy to spring apart. Incoming peripheral currents possess this energy from the outset. Currents from neighboring cortical regions might attain to it if they could accumulate within the centre which we are supposed to be considering. But since during waking hours every centre communicates with others by association-paths, no such accumulation can take place. The cortical currents which run in run right out again, awakening the next ideas; the level of tension in the cells does not rise to the higher explosion-point; and the latter must be gained by a sudden current from the periphery or not at all.


2 Impression means sensation for Hume.

3 Treatise on Human Nature, part i. § vii.

4 Huxley's Hume, pp. 92-94.

5 On Intelligence (N. Y.), vol. ii. p. 139.

6 Principles, Introd. § 13. Compare also the passage quoted above, p. 469

7 The differences noted by Fechner between after-images and images of imagination proper are as follows:

After-images. Imagination-images.
Feel coercive; Feel subject to our spontaneity;
Seem unsubstantial, vaporous; Have, as it were, more body;
Are sharp in outline; Are blurred;
Are bright;
Are darker than even the darkest black of the after-images;
Are almost colorless; Have lively coloration;

Are continuously enduring;
Incessantly disappear, and have to be renewed by an effort of will. At last even this fails to revive them.
Cannot be voluntarily changed. Can be exchanged at will for others.
Are exact copies of originals. Cannot violate the necessary laws of appearance of their originals -- e.g. a man cannot be imagined from, in front and behind at once. The imagination must walk round him, so to speak;
Are more easily got with shut than with open eyes; Are more easily had with open than with shut eyes;
Seem to move when the bend or eyes move; Need not follow movements of head or eyes.
The field within which they appear (with closed eyes) is dark, contracted, flat, close to the eyes, in front, and the images have no perspective; The field is extensive in three dimensions, and objects can be imagined in it above or behind almost m easily as in front.
The attention seems directed forwards towards the sense-organ, in observing after-images. In imagining, the attention feels as if drawn backwards towards the brain.

Finally, Fechner speaks of the impossibility of attending to both after-images and imagination-images at once, even when they are of the same object and might be expected to combine. All these differences are true of Fechner; but many of them would be untrue of other persons. I quote them as a type of observation which any reader with sufficient patience to repeat. To them may be added, as a universal proposition, that after-images seem larger if we project them on a distant screen, and smaller if project them on a near one, whilst no such change takes place in mental pictures

8 [I am myself a good draughtsman, and have a very lively interest in pictures, statues, architecture and decoration, and a keen sensibility to artistic effects. But I am an extremely poor visualizer, and find myself often unable to reproduce in my mind's eye pictures which I have most carefully examined. -- W. J.]

9 See also McCosh and Osborne, Princeton Review, Jan. 1884. There are some good examples of high development of the Faculty in the London Spectator, Dec. 28, 1878, pp. 1631,1634, Jan. 4,11, 25, and March 18, 1879.

10 Take the following report from one of my students: "I am unable to form in my mind's eye any visual likeness of the table whatever. After many trials, I cell only get a hazy surface, with nothing on it or about it. I can see no variety in color, and no positive limitations in extent, while I cannot see what I see well enough to determine its position in respect to ray eye, or to endow it with any quality of size. I am in the same position as to the word dog. I cannot see it in my mind's, eye at all; and so cannot tell whether I should have to run my eye along it, if I did see it."

11 Progrès Médical, 21 juillet. I abridge from the German report of the case in Wilbrand: Die Seelenblindheit (1887).

12 In a letter to Charcot this interesting patient adds that his character also is changed: "I was formerly receptive, easily made enthusiastic, and possessed a rich fancy. Now I am quiet and cold, and fancy never carries my thoughts away. . . . I am much less susceptible than formerly to anger or sorrow. I lately lost my dearly-beloved mother; but felt far less grief at the bereavement than if I had been able to see in my mind's eye her physiognomy and the phases of her suffering, and especially less than if I had been able to witness in imagination the outward effects of her untimely loss upon the members of the family."

13Psychologie du Raisonnement (1886), p. 25.

15 [I am myself a very poor visualizer, and find that I can seldom call to mind even a single letter of the alphabet in purely retinal terms. I must trace the letter by running my mental eye over its contour in order that the image of it shall have any distinctness at all. On questioning a large number of other people, mostly students, I find that perhaps half of them say they have no such difficulty in seeing letters mentally. Many affrim that they can see an entire word at once, especially a short one like 'dog,' with no such feeling of creating the letters successively by tracing them with the eye. -- W. J.]

16 It is hardly needful to say that In modern primary education, in which the blackboard is so much used, the children are taught their letters, etc., by all possible channels at once, sight, hearing, and movement.

17See an interesting case of a similar sort, reported by Farges, in l'Ecéphale, 7me Année, p. 545.

18 Philosophical Transactions, 1841, p. 65.

19 Studien über die Sprachvorstellungen (1880), and Studien über die Bewegungsvorstellungen (1882).

20 Prof. Stricker admits that by practice he has succeeded in making his eye-movements 'act vicariously' for his leg-movements in imagining men walking.

21 Bewegungsvorstellugen, p. 6.

22 Bain: Senses and Intellect, p. 339.

23 Studien über Sprachvorstellungen, 28, 31 etc. Cf. pp. 49-50, etc. Against Stricker, see Stumpf, Tonpsychol., 155-162, and Revue Philosophique, xx. 617. See also Paulhan, Rev. Philosophique, xvi. 405. Stricker replies to Paulhan in vol. xviii. p. 685. P. retorts in vol. xix. p. 118. Stricker reports that out of 100 persons questioned he found only one who had no feeling in his lips when silently thinking the letters M, B, P; and out of 60 only two who were conscious of no internal articulation whilst reading (pp. 59-60).

24 I think it must be admitted that some people have no vivid substantive images in any department of their sensibility. One of my students, an Intelligent youth, denied so pertinaciously that there was anything in his mind at all when he thought, that I was much perplexed by his case. I myself certainly have no such vivid play of nascent movements or motor images as Professor Stricker describes. When I seek to represent a row of soldiers marching, all I catch is a view of stationary legs first in one phase of movement and then in another, and these views are extremely imperfect and momentary. Occasionally (especially when I try to stimulate my imagination, as by repeating Victor Hugo's lines about the regiment,

Leur pas est si correct, sans tarder ni courir,
Qu'on croit voir des ciseaux se fermer et s'ouvrir,")

I seem to get an instantaneous glimpse of an actual movement, but it is to the last degree dim and uncertain. All these images seem at first as if purely retinal. I think, however, that rapid eye-movements accompany them, though these latter give rise to such slight feelings that they are almost impossible of detection. Absolutely no leg-movements of my own are there; in fact, to call such up arrests my imagination of the soldiers. My optical images are in general very dim, dark, fugitive, and contracted. It would be utterly impossible to draw from them, and yet I perfectly well distinguish one from the other. My auditory images are excessively inadequate reproductions of their originals. I have no images of taste or smell. Touch-imagination is fairly distinct, but comes very little into play with most objects thought of. Neither is all my thought verbalized; for I have shadowy schemes of relation, as apt to terminate in a nod of the head or an expulsion of the breath as in a definite word. On the whole, vague images or sensations of movement inside of my head towards the various parts of space in which the terms I am thinking of either lie or are momentarily symbolized to lie together with movements of the breath through my pharynx and nostrils, form a by no means inconsiderable part of my thought-stuff. I doubt whether my difficulty in giving a clearer account is wholly a matter of inferior power of introspective attention, though that doubtless plays its part. Attention, ceteris paribus, must always be inferior in proportion to the feebleness of the internal images which are offered it to hold on to.

25 Geo. Herm. Meyer, Untersuchungen üb. d. Physiol. d, Nervenfaser (1848) p. 238. For other cases see Tuke's Influence of Mind upon Body, chaps. ii and vii.

26 Meyer, op. cit. p. 238.

28 Meyer, op. cit. pp. 238-41.

29 That of Dr. Ch. Féré in the Revue Philosophique, xx. 364. Johannes Müller's account of hypnagogic hallucinations floating before the eyes for a few moments after these had been opened, seems to belong more to the category of spontaneous hallucinations (see his Physiology, London, 1842, p. 1894). It is impossible to tell whether the words in Wundt's Vorlesungen, i. 387, refer to a personal experience of his own or not; probably not. Il va sans dire that an inferior visualizer like myself can get no such after-images. Nor have I as yet succeeded in getting report of any from my students.

30 Senses and Intellect, p. 338.

31 See above, Vol. ii. p. 50, note.

32 V. Kandinsky (Kritische u. klinische Betrachtungen im Gebiete der Sinnestauschungen (Berlin, 1885), p. 135 fi.) insists that in even the liveliest pseudo-hallucinations (see below, Chapter XX), which may be regarded as the intensest possible results of the imaginative process, there is no outward objectivity perceived in the thing represented, and that a ganter Abgrund separates these 'ideas' from true hallucination acid objective perception.

33 It seems to also flow backwards in certain hypnotic hallucinations. Suggest to a 'Subject' in the hypnotic trance that a sheet of paper has a red cross upon it, then pretend to remove the imaginary cross, whilst you tell the Subject to look fixedly at a dot upon the paper, and he will presently tell you that he sees a 'bluish-green' cross. The genuineness of the result has been doubted, but there seems no good reason for rejecting M. Binet's account (Le Magnétisme Animal, 1887, p. 188). M. Binet, following M. Parinaud, and on the faith of a certain experiment, at one time believed, the optical brain-centres and not the retina to be the seat of ordinary negative after-images. The experiment is this: Look fixedly, with one eye open, at a colored spot on a white background. Then close that eye and look fixedly with the other eye at a plain surface. A negative after-image of the colored spot will presently appear. (Psychologie du Raisonnment, 1886, p. 45.) But Mr. Delabarre has proved (American Journal of Psychology, ii. 326) that this after-image is due, not to a higher cerebral process, but to the fact that the retinal process in the closed eye affects consciousness at certain moments, and that its object is then projected into the field seen by the eye which is open. M. Binet informs me that he is converted by the proofs given by Mr. Delabarre.

The fact remains, however, that the negative after-images of Herr-Meyer, M. Féré, and the hypnotic subjects, form aria exception to all that we know of nerve-currents, if they are due to a refluent centrifugal current to the retina. It may be that they will hereafter be explained in some other way. Meanwhile we can only write them down as a paradox. Sig. Sergi's theory that there is always a refluent wave in perception hardly merits serious consideration (Psychologie Physiologique, pp. 99, 189). Sergi's theory has recently been reaffirmed with almost incredible crudity by Lombroso and Ottolenghi in the Revue Philosophique, xxix. 70 (Jan. 1890).

34 Lotze, Med. Psych. p. 509.

35 See an important article by Binet in the Revue Philosophique, xxvi. 481 (1888); also Dufour, in Revue Méd, de la Suisse Romande, 1889, No. 8, cited in the Neurologisches Centralblatt, 1890, p. 48.

36 Die Willenshandlung (1888), pp. 129-40.

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