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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/227

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THOUGHT AND LANGUAGE.

combine and separate," and bence we must consider the material of our thoughts, "the elements which we bring together or co-agitate." These are sensations, percepts, concepts, and names. These, though distinguishable, never exist in reality as separate entities. "No words are possible without concepts, no concepts without percepts, no percepts without sensations." The author then attempts to show, in reverse order, that "sensations are impossible without percepts, and percepts without concepts, just as the cloth is impossible without the threads, and the threads without the wool." This made out to his satisfaction, the argument follows that concepts are impossible without words—hence percepts and sensations are impossible; and thus thinking is not possible without language.

It would be much easier to deal with Professor Müller's reasoning if it were not complicated by various qualifications of the above simple statements, which make his meaning somewhat doubtful. He declares in one place that "thoughts may exist without words, because other signs may take the place of words. Five fingers or five lines are quite sufficient to convey the concept of five between people speaking different languages, possibly between deaf-and-dumb people who speak no language at all." Thus, it seems, we are to consider language as consisting of other signs as well as words. This, however, is not to affect the general proposition. Again, the author does in his book concede that we can reason without words, but in his letter to Galton of May 15, 1887, he declares that this "is no more than reasoning without pronouncing words." It is "symbolic, abbreviated, or hushed language," which "presupposes the former existence of words." Moreover, in this same letter, he avers that "sensation, passions, and intuitive judgments. . . clearly require no words for their realization." He also implies that seeing, feeling, acting—all may take place without what he terms thinking, "Instantaneous and thoughtless action is often more successful than the slow results of reasoning." But without seeking for further illustration, enough has been noted to show that Professor Müller has not clearly and consistently developed his own doctrine.

If thinking is bringing together or combining, addition with its complementary subtraction, the question arises, whether we are to apply the term to the combining into unity which is necessary in every act of knowing, in order to make that presentation of an object to the subject which is cognition itself, or to that combination which we ordinarily designate by the term association. My eye rests upon a patch of color on the wall; the cognition of this as an object involves "co-agitation" or combining. Surely we are not asked to believe that the presentation of this to the mind as an integer, and the holding of the mind's attention upon it, is impossible without language! It can not be that this is thinking in Professor Müller's intended sense of the word. Rather, he means association. "The very moment we be-