Response and Cognition II: Cognition as Response

Edwin B. Holt


WE have now a compact and, as I believe, a rather precise definition of behavior or, as it might be called, the relation of specific response. And we are in a position to compare it with the cognitive relation, the relation between the "psychological subject and its object of consciousness." Our aim would be to see how far those phenomena which we ordinarily attribute to "consciousness" may be intrinsically involved by this strictly objective and scientifically observable behavior.

Firstly, as to the object cognized, the "content of consciousness." It is obvious that the object of which an organism's behavior is a constant function corresponds with singular closeness to the object of which an organism is aware, or of which it is conscious. When one is conscious of a thing, one's movements are adjusted to it, and to precisely those features of it of which one is conscious. The two domains are conterminous. It is certain, too, that it is not generally the stimulus to which one is adjusted, or of which one is conscious; as such classic discussions as those about the inverted retinal image and single vision (from binocular stimulation) have shown us. Even when one is conscious of things that are not there, as in hallucination, one's body is adjusted to them as if they were there; and it behaves accordingly.[1] In some sense or other they are there; as in some sense there are objects in mirrored space. Of course the objects of one's consciousness, and of one's motor adjustments, may be past, present, or future : and similar temporally forward and backward functional relations are seen in many inorganic mechanisms. If it be thought that there can be consciousness without behavior, I would say that the doctrine of dynamogenesis, and indeed the doctrine of psycho-physical parallelism itself, assert just the contrary. Of course muscle tonus and "motor set"are as much behavior as is the more extensive play of limb. In short, I know not what distinction can

( 394) be drawn between the object of consciousness and the object of behavior.

Again, if the object of which behavior is a constant function is the object of consciousness, that function of it which behavior is presents a close parallel to volition. Psychological theory has never quite succeeded in making will a content of knowledge in the same sense as sensation, perception, and thought; the heterogeneous (motor-image) theory being manifestly untrue to rather the larger part of will acts. Indeed, in the strict sense the theory of innervation feelings is the only one which ever allowed will to be, in its own right, a content. All other views, including the heterogeneous, show one's knowledge of one's own will acts to be gained by a combination of memory and the direct observation of what one's own body is doing. And this is quite in harmony with the idea that what one wills is 'that which one's body does (in attitude or overt act) toward the environment. In a larger sense, however, and with less deference to the tendencies of bead theorizing, one's volitions are obviously identical with that which one's body in the capacity of released mechanism does. If a man avoids draughts, that is both the behavior and the volition at once; and any motor-image, "fiat," or other account of it merely substitutes some subordinate aspect for that which is the immediate volition.[2]

The case is somewhat different if we enquire what in behavior corresponds to the "knower" of the cognitive relation. Clearly this knower can be nothing but the body itself ; for behaviorism, the body is aware, the body acts. But this body will hardly take the place, in many minds, of that metaphysical "subject" which has been thought to be the very nucleolus of the ego. Yet something can be said for the neuro-muscular organism in the capacity of cognitive subject.[3] In so far as the "subject" is supposed to serve as the center of perception and apperception and guarantor of the "unity" of consciousness, the central nervous system. will serve admirably. In fact it is, precisely, a perdurable central exchange where messages from the outer world meet and react on one another and on "the so-to-say stored stimuli," and whence the return impulses emerge. Further-more it is securely established that by just as much as this central nervous exchange has its unity impaired by just so much is the unity of apperception (including the "transcendental") impaired. Dissociation of neural complex means dissociation of personality, cognitive as well as volitional. Again, in so far as the metaphysical "subject" is defined as the "necessary correlate" of the object in knowledge, the body may well serve this function. For in the re-

( 395) -sponse relation, as above defined, it does precisely this: without the body the outer object would obviously never become the object of behavior. And should otherwise the response relation turn out to be the cognitive relation, the physical organism will necessarily take its place as "correlate of the object," and supersede the metaphysical subject. I am not aware that this "subject" has ever served any other actually empirical wants, useful as it may be in the higher flights of speculation. And one recalls that of this more transcendental aspect of the "subject" James said, that "the `Self of selves,' when carefully examined, is found to consist mainly of the collection of these peculiar motions in the head or between the head and throat."[4] It will be recalled, too, that so faithful an idealist as Schopenhauer found reason to declare that "the philosophers who set up a soul as this metaphysical kernel, i. e., an originally and essentially knowing being" have made a false assertion. For, he goes on to say, "knowing is a secondary function and conditioned by the organism, just like any other."[5] I venture to predict that behaviorism will be able to give a complete account of cognition without invoking the services of the "metaphysical subject" nor of any one of its swarming progeny of Ego's.

We have seen that behavior, as "any process of release which is a function of factors external to the mechanism released," in so far accounts for the phenomena of cognition that it provides a content of knowledge, a willer, and a knower. Let us now consider it in respect to three remaining psychological phenomena : attention, feeling, and personality,

Attention is the most difficult of these topics, and the problem resolves itself, to my mind, the most neatly : this problem being, What in behavior would correspond to attention in cognition? Sup-pose, however, that we first ask, What in the attention of empirical psychology corresponds to "attention" as understood by the more or less still-current faculty and rational psychologies? These latter say that the "soul"i s unitary, and that it "attends" to one "idea" at a time, or to a unified group of "ideas." It follows that there are "ideas" to which the soul is not attending; also, quite inevitably, that attention is the act of attending. Boni On the empirical side we have attention as "the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. "[6] The essentials in this definition are

(396) will, clearness or vividness (degrees of consciousness), selection (or its converse, inhibition). The volitional element in behavioristic attention will be, as we have already seen, the process whereby the body assumes and exercises an adjustment or motor set such that its activities are some function of an object; are focused on an object. The selection or inhibition factor has already been so unanimously explained in terms of neuro-muscular augmentation and inhibition that I need not dwell on it further. Clearness, vividness, or degree of consciousness, is the crux. And this is in fact what the faculty and rationalistic accounts of attention have came down to in empirical psychology.

It would be unfair to say that empirical psychology has now merely renamed attention, and called it "clearness." It has analyzed the faculty of "attention," and by separating out the factors (volitional, etc.) that belong elsewhere, it has found the core in "clearness," or, better, grades of consciousness. But I can not see that empirical psychology has done more than this. It teaches that there are degrees of being conscious ; and this is a singular doctrine, for it goes much against the grain to say that an idea can be more or less conscious. From the nature of the ease introspection can not help here,[7] for one can not attend to an idea of any of the lesser grades of clearness, idem est, to an idea which is not attended to. The notion savors of Spencer's "Unknowable," of which he knew so much. In an acute discussion of this concept Barker says: "When it is said that clearness is a simple and indefinable attribute comparable with quality, intensity, extension, and duration, I simply do not find in the statement the description of anything which I can recognize in my own experience."[8] I bring forward these considerations in order, not to disparage the "clearness" doctrine, but to show, if possible, exactly what it is that behaviorism must account for if it is to ac-count for attention.

Now there are psychological phenomena which have seemed to argue for this notion of "clearness." The first is that ideas come into consciousness and go out of it, and that this process is often-times, apparently, not instantaneous. Ideas recede before they vanish, as objects recede in space: a sort of consciousness perspective. And this variation is not in the dimension of intensity. But this observable waxing and waning of ideas may be otherwise interpreted than as grades of consciousness. On the basis of a psychological

( 397) atomism (otherwise an inevitable doctrine) this so-called "clearness" dimension would come down to the thesis that the atomic elements occur in groups of various degrees of organization; that the most coherently organized groups are the "clear" or "vivid" states (or ideas) ; that the elements, which themselves are either in or not in "consciousness," enter consciousness unorganized and are there built up into "clear"states; and that again these clear states more or less disintegrate before their component elements pass out of consciousness. It has always seemed to me that this view, which is of course not new, squares perfectly with the phenomena of fringe of consciousness; and with the intently observed fading of images. In this way "attention" would be reduced not to the "attribute of clearness," but to the process of organization and deorganization of content-atoms. I find nothing in Leibnitz, to whom the doctrine of clearness and obscurity in ideas owes so much, which would oppose this interpretation.

Now if attention is found to be such a process, then our view of behavior not merely allows for, but it predicts the attention process. Any complex form of behavior is, of course, organized out of simpler responses, which do not always slip into the higher form of integration instantaneously. Their more or less gradual organization is the process of attention. One sits down unguardedly in a public waiting-room, and presently one's train of thought is interrupted by "some-thing," which changes almost instantly to "something I am sitting upon." This already has involved a very different motor attitude from that in force, while one was idly whiling the time away. At this juncture, if one brings the entire faculty of attention to bear on the "something," taking care, however, not to move one's body, for this would bring in a multitude of new peripheral data, I do not think that this "something" will gain in "clearness." It may, however, change to "extra pressure at a point on the under side of my thigh." Here, it seems to me, if one still does not move, all the "attention" possible will not make this pressure "clearer"; it is such an intensity of pressure, and there it is. Next, this pressure will probably change back to "something," and "something" will change to "pocket-book," "gold ring," "sticky piece of candy," "apple core," "soiled handkerchief"-each involving a new motor attitude; as one is soon convinced if "something" happens to change to "possibly a snake." If new peripheral data are admitted, of course the search for enhanced "clearness"i n the originally given piece of content is even more complicated and dubious. The commonly alleged cases of in-creased "clearness" are eases of augmented sensory data (producing greater specificity of attitude) ; this is flagrantly so in the often-cited transition of an object from peripheral to foveal vision. Here

( 398) the series may be "something," spot, gray spot, yellow-gray spot, yellow irregular spot, yellow sort of semi-circular thing, yellowish-orange dome-shaped object, orange dome-shaped bright object with irregularity at top, orange lamp-shade, lighted lamp with orange shade, on table. But this is not increased "clearness." Here, as before, the response attitude has steadily changed (and developed). I have tried for years to find a plausible instance of changing "clearness" or "vividness." and for evidence of "levels of attention"; but the search has been in vain.

According to the clearness doctrine, even when a content is built up to greater definition and detail Leibnitz's "distinctness") by the addition of new components, the original elements ought presumably to gain in clearness. But the general tendency seems to be, rather, that they actually disappear. A first glance at an unfamiliar object usually yields salient features like color and form; under attentive observation the content develops into a thing of higher interest in which, unless there are special reasons wherefor they remain important, form and content are last. An archeologist will soon lose ("pay no attention to") the color or mere contour of a new find which he is intently studying. A jeweler would probably remain conscious of the color of a new gem which he is examining; but here it should seem that this color, if it changes at all, does not gain "clearness," but a definite nuance; which is a very different matter. Interest, "Aufgabe" and "Bewusstseinslage" (which are the psychologist's names for motor set) determine what shall come or go, and how contents shall develop.

But not all psychologists interpret attention in terms of "clearness." This latter is an attribute of content, and there is a tendency in several independent quarters to assign to process, or some aspect of process, various phenomena which have been in the past referred to content. The interpretation of attention, not as "clearness," but as the organization process of psychic elements (as above described) is a familiar case in point. The "imageless thought" movement is another. Associationism described thought as the inter-action of content units ("ideas"), while this theory describes it as interplay without content. Again the various groups of thinkers who employ the now-familiar clichés of "act," "psychischer Akt," and "psychische Funktion" are tending in the same direction; that is, toward emphasizing process of consciousness more than content. Now I should be far from arguing that there can be interplay without ideas as the basis of it. Such a thing seems to me untrue to fact, and in theory I can understand it no more than I can how there should be motion with nothing to move, or relation with no entities to be related. But I mention this tendency to emphasize process, only

( 399) in order to point out that however much of it shall turn out to be empirically valid, so much behaviorism will find no trouble in taking care of.[9] For the responding mechanism presents any amount of process; all too much, indeed. For both content and process of cognition the specific response relation has a place.

A further aspect of attention remains unconsidered. This is attention at its lowest or "unconscious" stage. Even should attention generally be found to consist not in a clearness attribute, but in degrees of organization of content, there would still remain to be ac-counted for those facts which so persistently through the history of psychology have kept alive the distinction of conscious and unconscious, the latter being again distinct from "mere cerebration." This distinction, obscure and disputed and yet invincible as it has been, becomes luminously construed and wholly justified if cognition is identified with the behavior relation. With the establishment of the first specific response, out of the integration of reflexes, there is of course content (of an atomic, elementary order, very possibly). But this content could never be identified with brain, nor with cerebration: for it is that object or aspect of the environment, to which the brain reflexes are adjusted, of which they are now constant functions. What will happen, now, to these elementary objective contents when these primitive specific responses are still further integrated into more elaborate forms of behaviors. They will obviously not turn into "cerebration," for they are aspects of the environment. Well, what in fact happens, in such a case, to consciousness? When one first learned to walk, the process involved lively consciousness of pressure on the soles, and at different intensities in the two feet; of visible objects which one carefully watched in order to steady one-self ; etc., etc. One now walks with head in air and in almost total oblivion of the steadying visual objects and the unfeeling tactual objects with sharp corners, the stairs and the inclines, which it was once so wise to keep in view. At first one stepped, and each step was an adventure in itself ; now one walks, or perhaps not consciously even this; for one may consciously not be walking or running, but catching a train, thinking over a lecture, bracing oneself to do a sharp stroke of business. The walking behavior, although no less behavior and no less involving functional adjustment toward the environment and hence no less involving "content," has now been taken up (along with other behavior systems) and made component of a more highly integrated and elaborate form of behavior. This latter it now serves. And the object or objective situation to which the latter is a functional adjustment is almost always more and more

( 400) remote from the immediate momentary stimuli than are the objects of which the component systems are functions. For the behavior relation all of the environmental aspects to which the organism is in any wise responding are content; all are "in consciousness." But what portion of all this, then, is the "attentive consciousness," the upper level of personal awareness? Why, obviously, the upper level consists of that object or system of objects to which the upper level of integrated behavior is specifically adjusted. The attentive level of consciousness, that of which the "self" is aware, is that most comprehensive environmental field to which the organism has so far attained (by integration) the capacity to respond. The attentive level at any particular moment is the most comprehensive field to which the organism is at that moment specifically responding (of which its behavior is a function). All other aspects of the environment, to which the ancillary and component behavior systems are at the time responding are "co-conscious," "subconscious," "unconscious'- as you prefer; but they are not brain, nor cerebration, nor neurogramme. They are in consciousness, but not in the upper field of attention. In other words the most highly integrated behavior system that is in action determines the personal level of attention. If I stop "thinking about" (comprehensively responding to) the forth-coming business engagement to which my legs are now carrying me, I can consciously walk; if I cease this, I can consciously take a single step; ceasing this I can consciously merely equilibrate in an erect posture; ceasing this I become conscious of pressure on the soles of my two feet. The one change in this series has been the steady reduction in the comprehensiveness of my bodily response. The "stream of consciousness" is nothing but this selected procession of environmental aspects to which the body's ever-varying motor adjustments are directed.[10]

This explains, as no other view has ever explained, the relation of automatic or habitual, to conscious activities. Habitual activities are usually performed below the attentive level, because as soon as any behavior system is organized ("learned") the organism goes oft to integrate this, together with others, into some more comprehensive system; and concomitantly the first mentioned system sinks into the field of the co-conscious or unconscious. This is the purpose of education, the meaning of development. On the other hand, there seems to be no, even the most simple and habitual, activity that can not, and, on occasion, is not, performed consciously. What the organism shall be aware of depends solely on what it is doing; and it can do anything which it ever learned to do, whether complex or

( 401) simple. The remarkable harmony between this view and the facts is brought out if one turns to the other views. One theory, for in-stance, has it that the cerebral cortex is the "seat of consciousness," while habituated unconscious acts are done by the cerebellum and cord. From which it follows that when a motion is first learned (for this appears to be always a conscious process) it is learned by the cerebrum, but thereafter it is performed by the cerebellum and cord (which never learned it). A most plausible conception ! And thereafter, since it can be performed either consciously or unconsciously, a double set of nervous mechanisms is maintained in readiness! Or again, there is a view that "consciousness" is comparable to resistance, or heat, developed at neural cell or synapse. Un-consciousness in a process is attained when the neural path is worn so "smooth" that no appreciable heat is developed.[11] When, there, an act has once become automatic it can not be performed consciously, unless the organism relearns it in a new set of nerves. This patently violates the facts.[12]

Lastly, in leaving this view of the attentive level and the co-conscious levels, I must drop the hint that it will be found to throw a flood of light on the otherwise Cimmerian darkness that now surrounds "unconscious sensations," "unconscious judgments," and "illusions of judgment"; not to mention more modern categories such as "Aufgabe," "Bewusstseinslage," Freud's upper and lower "instances," and double personality with all its allied problems. Nothing could be more inspiriting to a believer in the purely objective psychology, if dejected, than to read in the light of our definition of behavior, what Weber, for instance, had to say about "stell-vertretender Verstand,[13] or again Euler, Helmholtz, Hering, or Mach about "unconscious judgments" ; such vistas of unforced and lucid explanation are here opened out.

Another phenomenon that seems to be more or less universally involved with cognition is feeling, and our question is whether the behavior relation makes such a phenomenon intelligible. Here, again, psychology is not very clear as to how the phenomenon is to be described. The early view that feelings are two content elements -pleasantness and unpleasantness-gave way first to the idea that feelings are two opposed attributes of content, making one distinct dimension comparable with intensity (the "feeling-tone" theory). Then more recently there has been a marked tendency (which

( 402) was indeed adumbrated much earlier), as in the case of attention, to refer the phenomenon to process rather than to content, because it seems certain that pleasantness is essentially connected with enhanced, unpleasantness with diminished, consciousness and activity. Some degree of avoidance inevitably attends the unpleasant, and so forth ; and on the other hand, it seems impossible to lay hold of any distinct pleasantness or unpleasantness "content."[14]

One thing, which from the behavioristic point of view seems obvious, is that feeling is some modification of response which is determined by factors within the organism. No dependable and direct correspondence between feeling phenomena and the environment appears. This fact was noted extremely early, and has indeed often served as a clinching argument for the subjectivist point of view. But if one considers what the organism is—a vast congerie of microscopic cells, and each one a chemical process which is practically never in exact equilibrium, whose very use, indeed, involves a disturbance of any even relative equilibrium, where, further, the whole is at every moment both absorbing and disbursing energy of several kinds-then it becomes downright unthinkable that in any behavior which such an organism succeeds in evolving, the constant functions which this is of objects in the environment should not be further complicated by variant factors contained in the mechanisms which are maintaining these functions; just as the constant of gravity is complicated by skin-friction, wind, and other forces which act en falling bodies. The phenomena of "feeling" is predictable from our definition of behavior and a rudimentary acquaintance with living tissue. Where in the organism the feeling process is to be sought, or in which aspect of neuro-muscular interplay, can not, I think, be advisedly enquired until the phenomenon has been more exactly described. Meanwhile behaviorism is embarrassed, not by the difficulty of explaining feeling, but by the very wealth of alter-native which it finds at its disposal. It can well afford to wait until psychologists get something that at least resembles a scientific description of that which they call "feeling." Meanwhile the closer they have come to anything exact, the nearer they have come to the position above outlined. Such a theory as that of Meyer[15] is straight behaviorism.

( 403)

It is interesting to note that if, according to our definition of behavior, feeling is a complication that the organism as such introduces in the function which behavior is of the environment, we see immediately why feeling is not unrelated to stimulus and why it is closely related to will. Feelings are more or less, but never infallibly, determined by the stimuli. If one gives simultaneously two "incongruous" stimuli, the organism commonly "feels unpleasantness," which is due, if appearances are not deceptive, to the interferences which each stimulus exerts on the response which the other alone would have called forth. Introspectively one says, "Those two things do not harmonize, they conflict," or in observing an-other organism one says, "Its responses are impeded." Now it is within the organism that these stimuli interfere, and only by reason of the existence and idiosyncrasies of the organism that they do interfere. Thus feeling is a complication of response due to factors within the organism.. It is now clear why "feeling" not found in the evolutionary series lower than where "behavior" is found. As the subjectivist is sa fond of saying, "None but a ‘conscious' creature can feel." 'Tis true.

And again, if feeling is an internally determined modification of the behavior function and this latter, as previously explained, is the will, it is clear enough why feeling and will are hound to be concomitant phenomena. And whatever empirical truth there may be in the "pleasure-pain theory" of will will find ample recognition and explanation in this fact. It shows, too, why will is possible without feeling, while feeling is not possible without will.[16] And once again, if will is behavior that is function of an object, and feeling is an ea machine Nuancirung of this function, while the "content of consciousness" is the outer object to which the behavior function is directed, one sees how a confusion might arise as to whether feeling was a "Nuancirung"of the motor attitude or of the object of that attitude. That such a confusion is prevalent is shown by James in his essay, "The Place of Affectional Facts in a World of Pure Experience."[17]

We come, lastly, to what is called "personality" and the behavior relation. 1 have already pointed out that for behaviorism, will is that function which the organism's behavior is of the object. These various functions are of different degrees of integration, and

( 404) in a well-knit character they have become organized (as fast as each developed) with one another into higher forms of behavior, and if this process has not been thwarted by untoward circumstance, they are at every period of life integrated to date. That is to say, there is at any moment of life some course of action (behavior) which enlists all of the capacities of the organism : this is phrased voluntaristically as "some interest or aim to which a man devotes all his powers," to which "his whole being is consecrated." This matter of the unthwarted lifelong progress of behavior integration is of profound importance, for it is the transition from behavior to conduct, and to moral conduct. The more integrated behavior is harmonious and consistent behavior toward a larger and more comprehensive situation, toward a bigger section of the universe; it is lucidity and breadth of purpose. And it is wonderful to observe how with every step in this process, the bare scientific description of what the organism does approaches more and more to a description of moral conduct. In short, all of the more embracing behavior formula (functions) are moral. The behaviorist has not changed his strictly empirical, objective procedure one iota, and he has scientifically observed the evolution of reflex process into morality. The reader shall illustrate this for himself. Take any instance of wrong conduct as, say, a child's playing with fire, and consider why it is wrong and how must it change to became right. It is wrong simply because it is behavior that does not take into account consequences; it is not adjusted to enough of the environment; it will be made right by an enlargement of its scope and reach. This is just what the integration of specific responses effects; and through it, as I have re-marked previously, the immediate stimulus (ever the bugbear of moralists) recedes further and further from view.

The entire psychology of Freud is a discussion of the miscarriages which occur in this lifelong process of integration, their causes and remedies. Freud, believes, and seems to have proven, that thwarted integration (called by some "dissociation") is responsible for a large part of mental and nervous disease. For Freud's "wish" is precisely that thing which in my definition of behavior I call "function"; it is that motor set of the organism which, if opposed by other motor sets, is functional attitude toward the environment, and which, if unopposed, actuates the organism to overt behavior which is a constant function of the environment.[18] The evil resulting from thwarted integration is "suppression," where one motor set be-comes organically opposed to another, the two are dissociated and the personality is split : whereas the two should have been har-

( 405) -moniously knit together, cooperating to produce behavior which is yet more far-reachingly adapted to the environment. The sane than is the man who (however limited the scope of his behavior) has no such suppression incorporated in him. The wise man must be sane, and must have scope as well.

A further and important conclusion which I believe has not yet been drawn, but which follows necessarily from Freud's behavioristic psychology (for such it is), is that only the sane man is good and only the sane man is free. For the man with suppressions is capable of no act which some part of his own nature does not oppose, and none which this now suppressed part will not probably some day in overt act undo. There is no course of action into which he can throw his whole energy, nothing which he can "wish" to do which he does not wish, to some extent and at the same time, not to do. Thus he can never do the "good" unreservedly, never without secret rebellion "in his heart." And such a man is not good. In the same way he is never free, for all that he would do is hindered, and usually, in fact, frustrated, by his own other self. This fact, so brief in the statement, has been copiously illustrated by Freud and is extraordinarily illuminating to one who is trying to observe and to understand human conduct at large. One soon sees that in the most literal sense there is no impediment to man's freedom except a self-contained and internal one. In thus showing that virtue and freedom derive from the same source Freud and behaviorism have empirically confirmed that doctrine of freedom which Socrates and Plato propounded, and which even religion has deemed too exalted for human nature's daily food-the doctrine that only the good man is free.[19]

Such for behaviorism is the personality or the soul. It is the attitude and conduct, idem est, the purposes, of the body. In those happy individuals in whom the daily integration of 'behavior is successfully accomplished, the soul is a unit and a moral unit. In others in wham the integration has been frustrated the soul is not a unit, but a collection of warring factions seated in one distracted body. Such a creature has not one soul, but many, and misses of morals and of freedom by exactly as much as it has missed of unity, that is, of the progressive integration of its behavior. According to this view the soul is not substantial and not corporeal; but it is concrete, definite, empirically observable, and in a living body incorporated-a true "entelechy." With such a doctrine of personality and the soul as this, behaviorism can rest unperturbed while the sad procession of Spirits, Ghost-Souls, "transcendental" Egos, and what not, passes by and vanishes in its own vapor. For all of

( 406) these are contentless monads, and they have no windows. In fine, for behaviorism there is one unbroken integration series from reflex action, to behavior, conduct, moral conduct, and the unified soul..

In the first part of this article I expressed the opinion that behaviorists have not fully realized the significance of what they are doing because, while in practise they have discarded it, in theory they still, like most psychologists, adhere to the "bead theory" of causation. Now their opponents, who believe in "consciousness" and a subjective soul-principle, are equally addicted to another view of causation, the teleological. This view, however, which indeed does justice to a feature of causation which the head theory ignores, is equally wide of the truth. The functional view combines and reconciles the two, and accounts for "teleology." This is why the behaviorist who, whatever his theory, practises the functional view, finds in his phenomena no residue of unexplained "teleological" behavior. For brevity I must let a single illustration suffice to show this. Why does a boy go fishing? The bead theory says, because of something in his "previous state." The teleological theory says, because of an "idea of end" in his "mind" (subjective categories). The functional theory says, because the behavior of the growing organism is so far integrated as to respond specifically to such an environmental object as fish in the pond. It, too, admits that the boy's "thought" (content) is the fish. But now a mere attitude or motor set could condition the same "idea of end"--the fish-and it need go no further; so that the "idea of end" has no causal efficacy whatsoever. This latter is supplied by that further influx of nervous energy which touches off the motor set and makes it go over into overt behavior. The whole truth of teleology is taken up, and rectified, in that objective reference which behavior as function of an abject provides for. It is to be empirically noted otherwise that the "idea of end" is totally inefficacious causally, for more often than not it is merely an idée fixe, which indicates the presence of an habitually aimless and irresolute will.


In the foregoing pages I have offered what I believe to be a somewhat more exact definition of behavior or specific response than any that I have previously met, and have attempted to show that this behavior relation, objective and definite as it is, can lay considerable claim to being the long-sought cognitive relation between "subject" and object. For my awn part I make no doubt that the cognitive relation is this, although my definition of behavior may have to be overhauled and improved in the light of future empirical discoveries. It follows that I believe the future of psychology, human as

( 407) well as animal, to lie in the hands of the behaviorists and of those who may decide to join them. I wish to add a word on the pragmatic aspect of the objective movement in psychology and philosophy.

So far as modern philosophy goes it seems to ,me that the several present-day tendencies to resolve the subjective category of soul-substance into objective relations, all take their origin in the contentions of the eighteenth-century materialists. In this the writings of the French and English ideologists, sensationalists, and other empiricists (including such naturalists as Charles Bonnet) have not been without influence. One might even find, for instance, a behaviorist's charter in the following wards of Joseph Priestley: "I can not imagine that a human body, completely organized, and having life, would want sensation and thought. This I suppose to follow, of course, as much as the circulation of the blood follows respiration. "[20]

In the actual present this objective tendency is represented by groups of men whose interests are otherwise so divergent that it may not be amiss to point out their fundamental unanimity of aim. There are at least four such groups—the American realists, the English realists, the French and Russian "objective" psychologists, and the "behaviorists." I think that it would not be difficult to persuade the Freudians that they, too, are objectivists —a fifth group. Possibly the Pragmatists would be another. And I should have mentioned Radical Empiricists at the top of the list if I detected the existence of any such group.

The American realists have been so explicitly conscious of their aim to abolish the subjective ("consciousness," etc.) and to interpret mental phenomena in an objective relational manner, and they have written so often in this very Journal, that I need say nothing further. It would be unjust of me, without very careful study, to attempt to weigh the individual contributions of these realists, but I must say in passing that in the early, very lean and hungry years of American realism, yeoman's service was rendered by Professors Woodbridge and Montague. At the present time all of these realists, for their number is no longer merely "Six," seem definitely to have escaped the "ego-centric predicament" and to have repudiated the "subjective, as such. "It seems to me that they stand in need of a positive theory of cognition, and that they will find this if they will consider the ways of the patient animal-behaviorist. Cognition exists in the animals, and there in its simpler and more analyzable forms.

( 408)

The English "realists" are all, so far as I can see, Cartesian dualists of one complexion or another. But they are all, or nearly all, animated by the desire to be released from the bondage of subjectivism. In so far they have a common aim with the American realists, and might find it worth while to examine cognition in its infra-human forms.

The Russian and French objective psychologists are determined, just as James has urged and as the behaviorist is doing, to abandon the ghost-soul. They are further determined to discover all the phenomena of consciousness in some or other reflex processes. If they succeed, theirs is clearly bound to be a relational theory of consciousness. And they are thus the natural allies of all realists.

The behaviorists themselves are, as I have said, in practise the one great luminary of the psychologic sky. In theory they need, I think, as in this present paper I have tried to outline, an exact definition of what behavior is. They are to-day in danger of making the materialist's error, of denying the facts, as well as the theory, of consciousness. Thus Bethe, in his fascinating book "Durfen wir den Ameisen und Bienen psychische Qualitäten zuschreiben?"[21] describes much of the complex behavior of ants and bees exactly (and in the sense which I have previously commended), but then adds that, since we can explain all these phenomena in terms of reflex process, we have no right to "impute consciousness" to these little creatures. He fails to see that he has been describing consciousness. This method, pursued, would end by picking out the single reflex components of human behavior, neglecting the equally important relations in which they are organized, and by then concluding that there is no such thing as sensation, perception, or thought. Just as one might accurately describe each wheel of a watch, and then conclude that it is not a timepiece; "time" not being visible in any one of the wheels. But this would be to miss altogether that novelty which arises during the integration of reflex process into behavior. As I have tried to show, behaviorism is neither subjectivism, nor, on the other hand, is it materialism (in the accepted sense of that term-the sense, that is, in which the facts of consciousness are slurred over or even repudiated outright).

As to the others, it is my belief that both the Freudians and the pragmatists will find a number of baffling points in their own systems explained, and these systems extended and fortified, if they will consider whether cognition for them is not essentially contained within the behavior relation.[22] That this is true for Freudianism I shall attempt to demonstrate in the near future.

( 409)

In fine, it should seem that a fundamental unity of purpose animates the investigators of these several groups, although they approach the question of cognition from very different directions. Will it not be a source of strength for all if they can manage to keep a sympathetic eye on the methods and the discoveries of one another



  1. I have elsewhere tried to show (in the fifth essay of "The New Realism") that every type of subjective error has an analogue in the strictly physical realm.
  2. Cf. "TheConcept of Consciousness," 1914, Chap. XIV.
  3. We shall consider the soul as essence of personality further on.
  4. William James, "Principles of Psychology," Vol, I., page 301,
  5. Schopenhauer, "The World as Will and Idea," Vol. IÎ., Chap. XIX. (Eng. transl., 1886, Vol. IL, page 482).
  6. James, "Principles of Psychology," Vol, L, pages 403-4. In this definition James has summed up with singular brevity all the factors which have persistently maintained their place in the historical development of attention.
  7. Certain introspective investigations to the contrary notwithstanding I recommend the reader to consult these. Cf. Titchener, "Lectures on the Elementary Psychology of Feeling and Attention," 1908, pages 211. et seq.
  8. H. Barker, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1912-13, Vol, XIII page 270.
  9. Cf., in this connection, the brilliant work of N. Kostyleff, "Le Mécanisme cérébral de la pensée," Paris, 1914.
  10. I shall attempt at any early date to show how successfully this view re-places the association doctrine.
  11. This view, or some variation of it, has been advocated by Spencer, Romanes, Messier, Wrn. McDougall, and others.
  12. Cf. E. B. Holt, "The Concept of Consciousness," 1914, page 324, et seq.
  13. E. H. Weber, "Der Tastsinn und das GemeingefuhI," 1846, in Wagner's"Handwörterbuch des Physiologie," Bd. 1, S. 484, et seq.
  14. The only recent theory which I know, that of Titchener, which definitely makes feeling a content, at the same time declares it to lack the "attribute of clearness"; while other psychologists, as Munsterberg, declare that a content which lacks this attribute ipso facto ceases to exist. Wundt's tri-dimensional theory appears to make feeling either a kinesthetic sensation, or else a function thereof (i. e., not a content, but a process).
  15. M. Meyer, "The Nervous Correlate of Pleasantness and Unpleasantness," Psycho&. Rev. 1908, X.V., pages 201-216; 292-322.
  16. A disputed paint, of course. I believe that the facts (and an adequate conception of the will) quite support my statement. In such a word as "apathetic," which should refer to feeling alone, the notion of feeling has been actually superseded by that of will.
  17. This JOURNAL, Vol. 11., pages 281--287. And "pathetic" has thus come to refer to the abject, the situation.
  18. The reader will find a fuller account of this view of will, morals, and function in my chapter on Volition in "The Concept of Consciousness,"
  19. Freud’s verification of this is far more complete than my brief outline.
  20. "Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit," 2d edition, 1782, Vol.. I., section XIII., page 151.
  21. Bonn, 1898.
  22. I would commend to them Professor John B. Watson's valiant and clear-headed volume "Behavior"(New York, 1914) ; also Professor Wm. McDougall 's very instructive "Social Psychology" (London, 1914), though this with more reserve since it is not untainted with subjectivism.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2