Image and Idea in Logic
Willard Clark Gore
THE logic of sense-impressions and of ideas as copies of sense-impressions has had its day. It engaged in a conflict with dogmatism, and scored a decisive victory. It overthrew the dynasty of prescribed formulae and innate ideas, of ideas derived ready-made from custom and social usage, ancient enough to be lost in the remote obscurity of divine sources; and enthroned in their place ideas derived from, and representative of, the sense-experiences of a very real and present world. It marked a reaction from dogma back to the original meaning of dogma, back to the seeming, the appearance, of things. So thoroughly did Bacon and Hobbes, Locke and Hume, to mention only these four, do their work, that many of the problems growing out of the conflict itself, to say nothing of the scholastic traditions that were combated, have come to have merely a historical rather than a logical interest. Logic no longer concerns itself very eagerly with the content or sensuous qualities of ideas, with their derivation from sense-impressions, or with questions as to the. relation of copy to original, of representative to that which is presented. It is concerned rather with the constructive operations of thought, with meaning, reference to reality, inference—with intellectual processes: Perhaps in no respect is this shifting of logical standpoint indicated more clearly than in the unregretful way with which the old logical interest in the sense-qualities of ideas is now made over to psychology. States of consciousness as such, we are told, are the proper study of psychology; whereas logic concerns itself with the relation of thought to its object. True,
(185) these states of consciousness include thought-states, as well as sense-impressions; ideas and concepts, as well as feelings and fancies; and the business of psychology is to observe, compare and classify, describe and chronicle, these states and whatever else is carried along in the stream of consciousness. But logic is concerned, not with these states of consciousness per se, least of all with the flotsam and jetsam of the stream, but with its reference to reality; not with the true, but with truth; not even with what consciousness does, but with how consciousness is to outdo itself, transcend itself, in a rational and universal whole. Even an empirical logic has to arrange somehow the way to get from one sense-impression to another.
In drawing this distinction between logic and psychology —a distinction which virtually amounts to a separation—two things are overlooked: first, that the distinction itself is a logical distinction, and may properly constitute a problem falling under the province of logical inquiry and theory; and, second, that the rather arbitrary and official setting apart of psychology to look after the task of studying states of consciousness does not carry with it the guarantee that psychology will confine itself exclusively to that task. This last point in particular must be my excuse for discussing the question of image and idea from the psychological rather than from the logical standpoint. The logic of ideas derived from sense-impressions has had its day. But even the very leavings of the past may have been gathered up and reconstructed by psychology in such a way as to anticipate some of the newer developments of logical theory and meet some of its difficulties. One can hardly hope to justify in advance a discussion based on such a sheer possibility. Let us begin, rather, by noting down from the standpoint of logic some of the distinctions between image and idea, and the estimate of the logical function and value of mental imagery, and see
(186) in what direction they take us and whether they suggest a resort to an analysis from the standpoint of psychology.
Proceeding from the standpoint of logic to inquire into the logical function of mental imagery and into the distinction between image and idea, we shall come upon two opposed but characteristic answers. If the inquiry be directed to a member of the empirical school of logic, he would be bound to answer in the affirmative, so far as the question regarding the function of mental imagery is concerned. He would be likely to say, if he were loyal to the traditions of his school, that mental imagery is the counterpart of sense-perception, and is thus the representative of the data with which empirical logic is concerned. Mental imagery, he would continue, is a representative in a literal sense, a copy, a reflection, of what comes to us through the avenues of sensation. True, it is not the perfect twin of sense-experience; else we could not tell them apart; indeed, there are times when the copy becomes so much like the original that we are deceived by it, as in dreams or in hallucinations. Ordinarily, however, we are able to distinguish one from the other. Two criteria are usually present; (1) imagery is fainter, more fleeting, than the corresponding sense-experience; and (2), save in the case of accurate memory-images, it is subject to a more or less arbitrary rearrangement of its parts, as when, for example, we make over the images of scenes we have actually experienced, to furnish forth the setting of some remote historical event.
Barring, or controlling and rectifying, its tendencies toward both arbitrary and constructive variations from the original, mental imagery is on the same level as sense-experience, and serves the same logical purpose. That is to say, it contributes to the data which constitute the foundations of empirical logic. It furnishes materials for the operations of observing, comparing, abstracting
(187) and generalizing. Mental imagery helps to piece out the fragments that may be presented to sense-experience. It supplies the entire anatomy when only a single bone, say, is actually given. Yet, however useful as a servant of truth, it has to be carefully watched, lest its spontaneous tendency to vary the actual order and coexistence of data lead the investigator astray. The copy it presents is, after all, a temporary makeshift, until it can be shown to correspond point for point to the now absent reality. Mental imagery furnishes one with an illustrated edition of the book of nature, but the illustrations await the confirmation of comparison with the originals.
Mental imagery functions logically when it extends the area of data beyond the range of the immediate sense-perceptions of any given time, and thus makes possible a more comprehensive application of the empirical methods of observation, comparison, abstraction, and generalization. It functions logically when it acts as a feeder of logical machinery, though it is not indispensable to this machinery and does not modify its principles. The logical mill could grind up in the same way the pure grain of sense-perceptions, unmixed with mental images, but it would have to grind more slowly for lack of material. In other words, empirical logic could carry on its operations of observing, comparing, abstracting, and generalizing, solely on the basis of objects or data present to the senses, and with no extension of this basis in terms of imagery, or copies of objects not immediately present; but it would take more time for it to apply and carry through its operations. The logical machinery is the same in each case. The materials fed and the product issuing are the same in each case. Imagery simply fulfils the function of Providing a more copious grist.
The empiricist's answer to our question regarding the logical function of mental imagery leaves that function in an
(188) uncertain and parlous state. Imagery lacks the security of sense-perception on the one hand, and it has no part in the operation of thought on the other. It is a sort of hod-carrier, whose function it is to convey the raw materials of sense-perception to a more exalted position where someone else does all the work. I suppose this could be called a functional interpretation of à logical element. The question, then, would be whether an element so functioning is in any sense logical. As an element lying outside of the thought-process it owes no responsibility to logic; it is not amenable to its regulations. Thought simply finds it expedient to operate with an agent over which it has no intrinsic control. The case might be allowed to rest here. Yet were this extra-logical element of imagery to abandon thought, all conscious thinking as opposed to sense-perception would cease. A false alarm, perhaps. Imagery may be so constituted that it is inseparably subordinated to thought and can never abandon it. Thought may simply exude imagery. But imagery somehow has to represent sense-perception, also. It can hardly be a secretion of thought and a copy of sense-perceptions at one and the same time, unless the empiricist is willing to turn absolute idealist! Before taking such a desperate plunge as this, it might be desirable to see whether there is any other recourse.
There is another and a very different answer to the question regarding the logical function of mental imagery. To distinguish this answer from that of the associationist or empiricist, I will call it the answer of the conceptualist. I am not at all positive that this label would stick even to those to whom it might be applied with considerable justification. The terms " rationalistic " and " transcendental " might be preferred in opposition to the term "empirical." And we have the term "apperceptionist" in opposition to the term °` associationist." If the term " conceptualist " is
(189) admissible, it should be brought down to date, perhaps, by making it "neo-conceptualist." The present difficulties regarding terminology would be eased considerably if we only had a convenient set of derivatives made from the word meaning." Since we have not, I will use derivatives made from the word "concept" to denote views opposite to those held by the empirical school.
The conceptualist could be depended upon to answer our question in the negative. Logical functions begin where the image leaves off. They begin with the idea, with meaning. The conceptualist distinguishes sharply between the image as a psychical existence and the idea, or concept, as logical meaning. On the one hand, you have the image," not only as a mere psychical existence, but a mocking existence at that, fleeting, inconstant, shifting, never perhaps twice alike; yet, mind you, an existence, a fact—that must be admitted. On the other hand, you have the " idea," with °° a fixed content or logical meaning," which is referred by an act of judgment to a reality beyond the act.
The " idea," the logical meaning, begins where the " image " leaves off. Does this mean that the " idea " is wholly independent of the "image"? Yes and no. The " idea " is independent of that which is ordinarily regarded as the special characteristic of an "image," namely, its quality, its sense-content. That is to say, the " idea" is independent of any particular " image," any special embodiment of sense-content. Any image will do. As Mr. Bosanquet remarks in comparing the psychical images that pass through our minds to a store of signal flags:
Not only is it indifferent whether your signal flag of today is the same bit of cloth that you hoisted yesterday, but also, no one knows or cares whether it is clean or dirty, thick or thin, frayed or
( 190) smooth, as long as it is distinctly legible as an element of the signal code. Part of its content, of its attributes and relations, is a fixed index which carries a distinct reference; all the rest is nothing to us, and, except in a moment of idle curiosity, we are unaware that it exists.
On the other hand, the "idea" could not operate as an idea, could not be in consciousness, save as it involves some imagery, however old, dirty, thin, and frayed. Take the statement, "The angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles." If the statement means anything to a given individual, if it conveys an idea, it must necessarily involve some form of imagery, some qualitative or conscious content. But so far as the meaning is concerned, it is a matter of complete indifference as to what qualities are involved. These qualities may be in terms of visual, auditory, tactual, kinaesthetic, or verbal imagery. The individual may visualize a blackboard drawing of a triangle with its sides produced, or he may imagine himself to be generating a triangle while revolving through an angle of 180º. Any imagery anyone pleases may be employed, so long as there goes with it somehow the idea of the relation of equality between the angles of a triangle and two right angles. But the conceptualist does not stop here. The act of judgment comes in to affirm that the " idea " is no mere idea, but is a quality of the real." The act [of judgment] attaches the floating adjective [the idea, the logical meaning to the nature of the world, and, at the same time, tells one it was there already." The "idea," the logical meaning, begins where the "image" leaves off. Yet, somehow, the "idea" could not begin, unless there were an "image" to leave off.
An "image" is not an "idea," says the conceptualist. An "idea" is not an "image." (1) An "image" is not an " idea," because an " image" is a particular, individual frag-
(191) -ment of consciousness. It is so bound up with its own existence that it cannot reach out to the existence of an " idea," or to anything beyond itself. Chemically speaking, it is an avalent atom of consciousness, if such a thing is thinkable. Mr. Bosanquet raises the question:
Are there at all ideas which are not symbolic? . . . . The answer is that (a) in judgment itself the idea can be distinguished qua particular in time or psychical fact, and so far is not symbolic; and (b) in all those human experiences from which we draw our conjectures as to the animal intelligence, when in languor or in ignorance image succeeds image without conscious judgment, we feel what it is to have ideas as facts and not as symbols.(2) An " idea" is not an " image," because an idea is meaning, which consists in a part of the content of the image, cut off, and considered apart from the existence of the content or sign itself. This meaning, this fragment of psychical existence, lays down all claim to existence on its own account, that it may refer through an act of judgment to a reality beyond itself and beyond the act also. An " image " is not an " idea " and an " idea " is not an image," because an "image" exists only as a quality, a sense-content, whereas an " idea" exists only as a relation, a reference to reality beyond. " On the one hand," to recall Bradley's antinomy, "no possible idea [as a psychical image can be that which it means . . . . . On the other hand, no idea [as logical signification is anything but just what it means."
There is a significant point of agreement between the conceptualist and the empiricist. Both regard imagery as on the level with sense-perception. For the empiricist, as we have seen, the fact that imagery may be compelled to serve as a yoke-fellow of sense-experience constitutes its logical value. For the conceptualist, however, the associa-
(192) -tion of imagery with sense-experience is of no logical consequence whatsoever, save as it may help to intensify the distinction between imagery and meaning. To quote again from Bradley:
For logical purposes the psychological distinction of idea and sensation may be said to be irrelevant, while the distinction of idea and fact is vital. The image, or psychological idea, is for logic nothing but a sensible reality. It is on a level with the mere sensations of the senses. For both are facts and neither are meanings. Neither are cut from a mutilated presentation and fixed as a connection. Neither are indifferent to their place in the stream of psychical events, their time and their relations to the presented congeries. Neither are adjectives to be referred from their existence, to live on strange soils, under other skies, and through changing seasons. The lives of both are so entangled with their environment, so one with their setting of sensuous particulars, that their character is destroyed if but one thread is broken.
This point of agreement between conceptualism and empiricism, this placing of imagery and sense-experience on a common level, serves to bring into relief fundamental differences between the two schools of thought; fundamental, because they have to do with the nature of reality itself. The conceptualist in his zealous endeavor to distinguish between imagery and logical meaning has come perilously near driving imagery into the arms of reality. It is the opportunity of empiricism to make them one. How can conceptualism prevent the union? Has it not disarmed itself ? The act of judgment, which includes within itself logical meaning as predicate, refers to a reality beyond the act. Both imagery and reality, then, lie outside of the act of judgment! What alliance, or mésalliance, may they not form, one with the other?
The, difficulties we have Voted thus far in the discussion are due to a large extent, I believe, to incomplete psycholi-
(193) -cal analysis of logical machinery. The empiricist has not carried the psychology of logic as far as the conceptualist, although the latter might be the loudest to disclaim the honor. I will not try to prove this statement, but simply give it as a reason why, in the interest of brevity, I shall pass with little comment over the psychological shortcomings and contributions of empirical logic, and devote what space remains to the psychology implicitly worked out by conceptual logic, and to its possible development, with special reference, of course, to the problem of the logical function of imagery.
The logical distinction, which practically amounts to a separation between imagery and meaning, is the counterpart of the psychological distinction between stimulus and response, between the two poles of sensori-motor activity, where the stimulus is defined in consciousness in the form of imagery, in the form of sense-qualities centrally excited, and where the response is directed and controlled via this imagery, so as to function in bringing some end, project, purpose, or ideal, nearer to realization, some problem nearer to solution.
Psychologically, there is no break between image and response, between thought and action. The stimulus is a condition of action, in both senses of the ambiguity of the word "condition." (1) It is action; it is a state or condition of action. (2) It is also an initiation of action. If the appropriate stimulus, then the desired action. The response to an image is the meaning of the image. Or, the response to any stimulus via an image-mediated, controlled or directed by an image—is the meaning of that image. The less imagery involved in any response, the greater the presumption in favor of the belief that the response is either tin instinctive impulse or else has become it habit of mind, all adequate idea. The reduction and loss of sense-content which an image may undergo—the wearing away of an
(194) image, it is sometimes called—is not a sign that this sense-content has no logical function; but rather that it has fulfilled a logical function so well that it has made part of itself useless. The husk, to recall one of Mr. Bradley's comparisons, that useless husk, tends to fall away, to lapse from consciousness, after it has served the purpose of helping to bring the kernel of truth to fruition.
This raises again the original question as to whether the sense-content, the quality, the existential quality, of an image has a logical function. I will ask first whether it has a function from the standpoint of psychology. We will agree with the empiricist that the content of an image is representative, that it is a return, a revival, of a sense-content previously experienced through the activity of sense-organs stimulated from the periphery. What is the function, then, of the representative image? Sensation, quality, as we have implied above, is the stimulus come to consciousness. To explain how a stimulus can "come" to consciousness is a problem I will not attempt to go into here. I assume as a fact that there are times when we know what we are about; when we are conscious of the stimuli, or conditions of action, which are tending in this direction or in that, and when through this consciousness we exercise a controlling influence over action by selecting and reinforcing certain stimuli and suppressing or inhibiting others. It is true that we do not always realize to how great an extent our actions are controlled by stimuli which do not come to consciousness, by reflexes, instincts, and habits which do not rise above the threshold of imagery. And when this vast complex of hidden machinery is partly revealed to us, it may either cause the beholder to take a materialistic, mechanical, or fatalistic view of existence, to say that we are the victims of our own machinery, or else it may induce the other extreme of more or. less mystic pronouncements regarding the province of the
( 195) subconscious, of the subliminal self; thus out of partial views, out of half-truths, metaphysical problems arise and arm for mutual conflict. Nevertheless, there is a presumption, amounting in most minds to a conviction, that we do at times consciously control some of our actions. And it is only making this conviction a little more explicit to say that we consciously control our actions through becoming aware of the stimuli, or conditions of action, and through selecting and reinforcing them.
Is it begging the question to speak of consciousness as exercising a selective function with reference to stimuli? From the standpoint of psychology, I cannot see that it is. No characteristic of consciousness has been more clearly made out, both reflectively and experimentally, than its selective function, than its ability to pick out and intensify within certain limits the stimuli or conditions of action.
The representational image is a stimulus come to consciousness in the same way that a sensation is a stimulus come to consciousness. It is both a direct and an indirect stimulus. The terms 1° direct " and " indirect " are used as relative solely to the demands of the particular situation out of which they arise. By direct stimulus I mean a stimulus which initiates with almost no appreciable delay the response or attitude appropriate to the demands of a given situation, bridging the difficulties, removing the obstacles, or solving the problem with the minimum of conscious reflection. As an image becomes more and more of a working symbol, an idea, it tends to become simply a direct stimulus.
By an "indirect stimulus" is meant a stimulus initiating a response which, if not inhibited, would be irrelevant to the situation, yet which may represent stimuli which are not found in the immediate field of sense-perception, and which are essential to the carrying on of the activity. The situation is a problematic one. Acquired habits or mental
(196) adjustments break down at some point or fail to operate smoothly, either owing to the absence of customary stimuli or to the presence of new and untried conditions of action. Part of the stress of meeting such a situation as this falls on the side of discovering appropriate stimuli and part on the side of developing out of habits already acquired new methods of response.
In such a situation as this, imagery may function on the side of stimulus when, taking its cue from the stimuli which are actually present, and which grow out of the strain and friction, it represents the missing conditions of action sufficiently to direct a search for them. It projects a map, so to speak, in which the fragmentary conditions immediately present to sense-perception may find their bearings, or in which in some way the missing members may be discovered. A familiar instance of this would be the experience one sometimes has in trying to recall the forgotten name of an acquaintance. The images of scenes associated with the acquaintance, of various letters and sounds of words associated with his name, which may be called to mind, do not function so much as direct stimuli as they do as intermediate or indirect stimuli. It is a case of casting about for the image that will function as a direct stimulus in bringing an acquired but temporarily lost adjustment into play.
Image functions on the side of response, on the side of developing new habits, new forms of adjustment, in so far as the conditions of action which it represents, or projects, are not the actual conditions of action, either because they are so inaccessible as to demand development of new habits for purposes of attaining them, or else because, though actually present, they stimulate relatively uncontrolled aesthetic or emotional responses, whose very expression, however, may be translated into a demand for more adequate, intelligent, controlled habits or adjustments. The conscious projection
(197) of the unattained, even of the unattainable, not only marks a certain degree of attainment, but is the initiation of further development. Here we see again that a stimulus is a condition of action in both senses of the ambiguity of the word "condition." It is both a state or condition of activity, and an initiation or condition of further activity.
As an indirect stimulus growing out of a problematic situation imagery necessarily brings in more or less irrelevant material. If I may be permitted the paradox, imagery would not be relevant if it did not bring in the irrelevant. The novelty of the situation makes it impossible to say in advance what will be relevant. Hence the demand for range and play of imagery. It is only the successful adjustment finally hit upon and worked out that is the test of the relevancy of the imagery which anticipated it. Even this test may be unfair, since it is likely to discount the value of imagery which is now ruled out, but which may have been indispensable in turning up the proper cues in the course of the process of reflection and experiment.
To restate the point in regard to the psychological function of imagery. Imagery functions in representing control as ideal, not as fact. It represents a possible process of reconstructing adjustments and habits; it is not an actual and complete readjustment. It arises normally in a stress, in the presence of fresh demands and new. problems. It looks forward in every possible direction, because it is important and difficult to foresee consequences. But suppose the new adjustment to be made with reasonable success —reasonable, note. Suppose the ideal to be realized. With practice the adjustment becomes less problematic, more under control—that is, it comes to require less conscious attention to bring it about. The image loses some of its sensuous content. It becomes worn away, more remote, until at last it becomes respectably vague and abstract
(198) enough to be classed as a concept. Imagery is the stimulus of the reconstructive process between habit and habit, concept and concept, idea and idea.
We now return to the original question regarding the logical function of imagery. There is only one condition, I believe, on which we can accept the assumption of both empiricist and conceptualist that imagery is on the same level with sense-perception, and that is the assumption that meaning, logical meaning, is on the same level with habit, habit naming the more obvious, overt forms of response to stimuli, logical meaning naming the more internal forms of response or reference. Psychical response and logical reference thus become equivalent terms.
We have seen that imagery may exercise two functions with reference to habit, as direct and as indirect stimulus; so also with reference to logical meaning, imagery may be the stimulus to a direct reference of the idea to reality, or it may present, or mirror, conditions with regard to which some new meaning is to be worked out. The quality, the sense-content, of imagery may per se suffice directly to arouse a habitual attitude, to call forth an immediate reference to reality. It may cause one to "tumble" to what is taking place, to "catch on," to apprehend (pardon these expressions for the sake of their description of the motor aspect of meaning), as when we say, for example: "It came over me like a flash what I was to do, and I did it." Our more abstract and complicated forms of judgment and reasoning, in which the imagery involved is reduced to the minimum of conscious, qualitative content, are of the same order, though at the other extreme, so far as immediate overt expression is concerned. We are working along lines of habitual activity so familiar that we can work almost in the dark. We need no elaborate imagery. Guided only by the waving of a signal flag or by the shifting gleam of a sema-
(199) -phore, we thread our way swiftly through the maze of tracks worn smooth by use and habit. But suppose a new line of habit is to be constructed. No signal flags or semaphores will suffice. A detailed survey of the proposed route must be had, and here is where imagery with a rich and varied yet flexible sensuous content, growing out of previous surveys, may function in projecting and anticipating the new set of conditions, and thus become the stimulus of a new line of habit, of a new and more far-reaching meaning. As this new line of habit, of meaning, gets into working order with the rest of the system, imagery tends normally to decline again to the rôle of signal flags and semaphores.
The distinction in logical theory between "image" and "idea" which we have been considering is only a half-truth from the point of view of psychology. It virtually limits the "idea" to a fixed, unalterable reference of a fragment of a desiccated image to a reality beyond. It indifferently loses the play and richness of imagery to the floating remnants of sense-content, or to an external reality. It limits itself to an examination of a final stage in thinking, a stage in which the image acts as a direct stimulus, a stage in which the sense-content of the image has little or no function per se, because this content now initiates directly a habitual adjustment, a worked-out and established adaptation of means to end. It overlooks the process of conscious reflection which logically precedes every such adjustment not purely instinctive or accidental, a process in which imagery as representational functions indirectly in bringing the resources of past experience, the fund of acquired habits, to bear upon the fragmentary and problematic elements of sense-experience actually present, thus maintaining the flow and continuity of experience. It fails to recognize that in the inseparable association of meaning with quality, of "idea" with "image," there goes the possibility of working
(200) out and applying new meanings from old, of developing deeper meanings, of testing and arming more inclusive and universal meaning.
We are confronted with this alternative. Either the image has a logical function in virtue of its sense-content, or else the image functions logically merely as a symbol, the sense-content of which is a matter of complete logical indifference. According to the empiricist, the former is the case, according to the conceptualist, the latter. The empiricist would say that he needs the image to piece out the data upon which logical processes operate. Having met this need, the image is retired from active service. For the empiricist the processes of thought, observing, comparing, generalizing, etc., are as independent of the data they use as, for the conceptualist, logical meaning, reference, and " idea''' are independent of the sense-content of the "image." In reality he agrees with the conceptualist in excluding the sense-content of the image from the processes of thought, and hence from the domain of logic.
From the standpoint of psychological theory the conceptualist is an improvement over the empiricist. He has gone a step farther in the analysis of thought-processes by showing that they are bound up with some kind of imagery, however irrelevant, inconsequential, and worn down the sense-quality of that imagery may be. His statement of ideas as references to reality lends itself readily, as we have seen, to the unitary conception in psychology of ideo-motor, or sensori-motor, activity. But is this where logical theory is to stop, while psychology as a study of " states of consciousness" takes up the unfinished tale and carries it forward? It seems hardly possible, unless logic is willing to give over its task of thinking about thinking.Reduce the image to a mere symbol. Let its sense-quality be a matter of complete indifference. What have
( 201) you, then, but an elementary and primitive type of reflex action? It is of no particular consequence even from what sense-organ it appears to proceed, or whether it appears to be peripherally or centrally excited. It is simply a case of feel and act; touch and go. Is this thinking? It may be regarded as either the germ or the finality of thinking, but what most of us are inclined to believe is the true subject-matter of logic is not to be limited to a simple reflex, or even to a chain of reflexes. It is something more complex, even if nothing more than an intricate tangle of chains of reflexes.
The complexity of the process called thinking does not reside alone in the instinctive or habitual reflexes involved. The more instinctive and habitual any adjustment may be, the less is it a matter of thought, as everyone knows, although its biological complexity is none the less patent to one who looks at it from the outside. The complexity of the thinking process resides in consciousness also; it resides in the imagery, the stimuli, the mere symbols, if you like, that have "come" to consciousness. As soon as the complexity begins to be felt, as soon as any discrimination whatsoever begins to be introduced or appreciated, at that instant the sense-content, the quale, of imagery begins to have a logical function. Conscious discrimination, however vague and evanescent, and the logical function of the quale of imagery are born together, unless one chooses to regard the more obvious and deliberate forms of conscious discrimination as more characteristic of a logical process. It is only as the sense-contents of various images are discriminated and compared that anything like thinking can be conceived to go on. The particular sense-content of an image, instead of being a matter of logical indifference, is the condition, the possibility, of thinking.
The conceptualist has contributed to the data of descriptive psychology by calling attention, by implication at least, to
(202) the remote and reduced character of the imagery which may characterize thinking. But it by no means follows that the more remote and reduced the sense-content of an image becomes, the less important is that sense-content for thinking, the less demand for discrimination. On the contrary, the sense-content that remains may be of supreme logical importance. It may be the quintessence of meaning. It may be the conscious factor which, when discriminated from another almost equally sublimated conscious factor, may determine a whole course of action. The delicacy and rapidity with which these reduced forms of imagery as they hover about the margin of consciousness or flit across its focus are discriminated and caught, are points in the technique of that long art of thinking, begun in early childhood. The fact that questionnaire investigations—like that of Galton's, for example—have in many instances failed to discover in the minds of scientists and advanced thinkers a rich and varied furniture of imagery does not argue the poverty of imagery in such minds; it argues, rather, a highly developed technique, a species of virtuosity, with reference to the sense-content of the types of imagery actually in use.
To push a step farther the alternative we have already stated in a preliminary way: Either the "idea," or "logical meaning," lies outside of the process of thinking, as a mere impulse or reflex; or else, in virtue of the sense-content of its "image," it enters into that conscious process of discrimination, comparison, and selection, of light and shade, of doubt and inquiry, which constitutes the evolution of a judgment, which makes the life-history of a movement of thought.