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ASSOCIATION


ASSOCIATION


action, circumstance, or temlcnc}' that constitutes a real danger to the pubUc welfare can be successfully dealt with by other methods than that of denying these associations the right of existence.

Tanquerey, Synopsis Theologice Morally, de Jiistitui (New York, 1904), 76-80; Antoine, Course d'economie soriate (Paris, 1899), 384-388; Kirchenlez., s. v. Vereinswesen; Lalor, Cyclo- pedia of Political Science and Political Economy (New York, 1888-90), s. V. Associations; Say-Chailley. Dictionnaire d'economie politique, s. v. Association; Kent, Commentaries, Led. xxxiii. Of Corporations; Levasseur, Histoire des classes ouvrieres avant 1789, I, i.

John A. Ryan.

Association of Ideas, (1) a principle in psychology to account for the succession of mental states, (2) the Ixisis of a philosophy known as Associationism. The fact of the association of ideas was noted by some of the earliest philosophers; Aristotle (De mem. et rem., 2) indicates the three laws of association which iiave been the basis of nearly all later enumerations. St. Thomas, in his commentary on Aristotle, accepts and illustrates them at some length. Hamilton (Xotes on Reid) gives considerable credit to the Spanish Humanist, Vives (1492-1540), for his treat- ment of the subject. Association of ideas is not, therefore, a discovery of English psychology, as has often been asserted.

It is true, however, that the principle of associa- tion of ideas received in English psychology an in- terpretation never given to it before. The name is derived from Locke who jjlaced it at the head of one of the chapters of his "Essay", but used it only to explain peculiarities of character. Applied to mental states in general, the name is too restricted, since ideas, even in the English sense, are only cognitive processes. The association theory was held by Hobbes, Berkeley, Hume, and Hamilton; but it received its widest interpretation at the hands of the Associationists, Hartley, Priestley, James Mill, Jolin Stuart Mill, Bain, and Spencer. They re- garded it as a principle capable of explaining all mental phenomena. For them it is in the sub- jective world what the principle of gravitation is in the physical world. Association of ideas, though variously explained, is accepted by all modern psychologists. Sully, Maudsley, James, Hbffding, Miinsterberg, Ebbinghaus, Ziehen, Taine, Ribot, Luys, and many others accept it more or less in the spirit of the Associationists.

The traditional laws of association, based on Aristotle, are: 1. Similarity; 2. Contrast; 3. Con- tiguity in time or space. In the course of time elTorts were made to reduce them to more funda- mental laws. Contrast has been resolved into simi- larity and contiguity. Contrasts, to recall each other, suppose generic similarity, as white recalls black. Yet this alone will not suffice, since this gives us no reason for the fact that white recalls black in preference to green or blue; hence experience, based on the fact that nature works in contrasts, is called into aid. Spencer, Hoffding, and others try to reduce all the laws of association to that of similarity, while Wundt and his school believe that all can be reduced to expe- rience and hence to contiguity. Bain, who has analyzed the laws of association most thoroughly, holds both similarity and contiguity to be elementarj' principles. To these he adds certain laws of com- pound association. Mental states easily recall one another when they have several points of contact. .\nd in fact, considering the complexity of mental life, it would seem probable that simple associations, by similarity or contiguity alone, never occur. Be- sides these primary laws of association, various secondary' laws are enumerated, such as the laws of frequency, vividness, recentness, emotional con- gruity, etc. These determine the firmness of the a.s.aociation, and consequently the preference given to one state over another, in the recall. Association


of ideas b a fact of e\'eryday experience which furnishes an important basis for the science of psychology; yet it must be remembered that the laws of association offer no ultimate explanation of the facts observed. In accounting for the facts of association we must, in the first place, reject as insufficient the purelj' physical tlieory proposed by Ribot, Richet, Maudsley, Carpenter, and others, who seek an explanation exclusi\-ely in the associa- tion of brain-processes. Psychologj- thus becomes a chapter of physiology and mechanics. Aside from the fact that this theory can give no satisfactorv explanation of association by similarity which im- plies a distinctly mental factor, it neglects evident facts of consciousness. Consciousness tells us that in reminiscence we can voluntarily direct the sequence of our mental states, and it is in this that \-oluntary recall differs from the succession of images and feel- ings in dream and delirium. Besides, one brain- process may e.xcite another, but this is not yet a state of consciousness.

Equally unsatisfactorj' is the theory of the ultra- spiritualists, who would have us believe that asso- ciation of ideas has nothing to do with the bodily organism, but is wholly mental. Thus Hamilton says that aU physiological theories are too con- temptible for serious criticism. Reid and Bo¬ęTie reject all traces of perception left in the brain sub- stance. Lotze admits a concomitant oscillation of the brain elements, but considers them quite sec- ondary and as exercising no influence on meraorj- and recall. Like the purely physical theory, this also fails to explain the facts of consciousness and experience. The localization of acti\itics in the various brain-centres, the facts of mental disease in consequence of injury to the brain, the dependence of memory on the healthy condition of the central organ, etc. have in this theorj' no rational mean- ing. We must, then, seek an explanation in a theory that does justice to both the mental and the physical side of the phenomena. A mere psycho- physical parallelism, proposed by some, will not, however, suffice, as it offers no explanation, but is a mere restatement of the problem. The Scholastic doctrine, that the subject of sensory activity is neither the body alone nor the soul alone, but the unitarj' being compounded of body and soul, offers the best solution. As sense perception is not purely physiological nor purely mental, but proceeds from a faculty of the soul intrinsicallj' united to an organ, so the association of these perceptions proceeds from a principle which is at the same time mental and phj'sical. No doubt purely spiritual ideas also associate; but, as St. Thomas teaches, the most spiritual idea is not devoid of its physiological basis, and even in making use of the spiritual ideas whidi it has already acijuired, the intellect has need of images stored in the bram. It re(|uires these organic processes in the production of its abstract ideas. In its basis, the association of ideas is physiological, but it is more than this, as it does not follow the necessary laws of matter. The higher faculties of the mind can command and direct the process. The Scholastic theory does justice to the fact of the dependence of mental activities upon the organ- ism, and yet leaves room for the freedom of the will attested by consciousness and e.xperience.

English Associationism, while claiming to be neither idealistic nor materialistic, and disavowing metaphysics, has erected the principle of association of ideas into a metaphysical principle to explain all mental activity. James Mill enunciated the prin- ciple of indissoluble associations: Sensations or ideas occurring together frequently, and never apart, sug- gest one another witli irresistible force, so that we combine them necessarily. This principle is em- ployed to explain necessary judgments and meta-