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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/493

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489
"PHYSIOLOGICAL" PSYCHOLOGY

as a natural science becomes easy. Let us try to see how Herbart presaged such tendencies.

He denies that consciousness consists in a bunch of faculties. Mind persists as a system of concrete relations between its constituent parts. These parts interact mutually, and therefore stand in mechanical relations to one another. As thus related, they constitute a unity of "presentation" which resists "arrest of any of its components." Accordingly, "presentations" may form series; these series, in turn, may arrest or strengthen, and shorten or intertwine, mutually. While the simple substance of soul (metaphysical) remains unknown qualitatively, its activities, in its processes of self-maintenance, afford the states of consciousness which psychology studies. In this respect the soul happens to be identical with all other "reals" which, in sum, make Herbart's universe. Therefore, methods peculiar to the positive sciences find application, and mathematical analysis becomes a chief instrument of discovery. Further, the opposition between "presentations" transforms states of consciousness into forces, with the result that a statics and dynamics (mechanics) of mind emerge. It is feasible, accordingly, to calculate the equilibrium and movement of "presentations." So, conformably to science, Herbart frames hypotheses and tries to establish them by mathematical methods. He sets himself to show accurately how the indeterminate manifold of sensation, as envisaged by Kant, and the multiplicity of ideas as set forth by the faculty-psychology, come to an organic unity in appercipient self-consciousness. In a word, the proper study of psychology is mind which, in turn, consists precisely in those transforming processes known collectively as "apperception." A very apposite delimitation of the psychological field, one would add. And it is both interesting and important to note that, in this theory of apperception, above all else, Herbart continues to speak in contemporary psychological thought. His connection with the modern movement, though by no means clear on the whole, appears in special tendencies. First, in his complete acceptance of the method of regressive analysis; second, in his appeal to experience; third, in the attention which he has compelled to the possibility of mathematical applications in this unstable sphere; fourth, in his gradual drift away from his own metaphysical basis as he wrought to render psychology a natural science—to prove that, in mind, as everywhere, natural law reigns supreme.

Notwithstanding all this, his opposition to anything in the nature of a physiological psychology seems certain. For this curious hesitation reasons must be sought, not in any antagonism peculiar to Herbart himself, as some recent experimental enthusiasts, blind to history, have fondly supposed, but in the general perspective of his age. Like many of his followers, he was a partisan enemy of the speculative philosophy that ruled Germany, and he paid the inevitable price. His judgment