Abstract: Concerning the Image

Herbert S. Langfeld
Harvard University

The purpose of the paper is a defense of the image, not, however, by direct argument for its existence or by a description of its quality, but by enumerating a few of the situations in which it occurs and suggesting its possible usefulness. The existence of the image is, therefore, from the outset assumed as a fact with the hope that what follows will strengthen the assumption. The writer is in full agreement with the positive contributions of the behaviorists, but is not satisfied with the limitations involved. The functional value of the image is emphasized and meaning is defined in terms of action. Attention is directed to the representative value of the image, especially as a cue for definite attitudes, which function it shares with sensations objectively aroused. In order to illustrate the nature and purpose of so-called irrelevant images a description of an experiment in inhibition with a brief account of the introspective results is introduced. The experiment consisted of the inhibition of firmly linked associations such as certain letters in the repetition of the alphabet and numbers in the numerical series. An explanation of the functioning of such imagery through the radiation of motor impulses is suggested. This leads to the question of the relation of imagery to concept. The emotional accompaniment of imagery and its well-known value in ęsthetics is called to mind. Finally there are a few words upon the degree of reliability of introspection.



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