The Philosophy of the Act

Essay 22  Value and the Consummatory Phase of the Act

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THE relation of mind and body is that lying between the organization of the self in its behavior as a member of a rational community and the bodily organism as a physical thing. The self has as its most fundamental character that of being an object to itself. It takes the attitude of indicating to itself things, persons, and their meanings. This attitude is attained by the individual assuming the role of another, or others, where the attitude is identical. It grows out of the more primitive attitude of indicating to others, and later arousing in the organism the response of the other, because this response is native to the organism, so that the stimulation which calls it out in another tends to call it out in the individual himself. Thus in group activities the individual finds himself, by his gestures, not only mediating the actions of the group but also inspiring in himself the beginnings of their parts in this common activity. It is this stimulation of the act of another in one's self which brings it into the so-called field of consciousness, The stimulation is through a gesture which thus becomes significant. When the activity is an organized one in which the different roles because of their organization all call for an identical response, as in an economic or political process, the individual assumes what may be called the role of the generalized other, and the attitude is a universal or rational attitude.

The rational attitude which characterizes the human being is, then, the relationship et the whole process in which the individual is engaged to himself as reflected in his assumption of the organized roles of the others in stimulating himself to his response. This self as distinguished from the others lies within the field of communication, and they lie also within this field.

(446)What may be indicated to others or one's self and does not respond to such gestures of indication is, in the field of perception, what we call a physical thing. The human body is, especially, in its analysis, regarded as a physical thing.

The line of demarcation between the self and the body is found, then, first of all, in the social organization of the act within which the self arises, in its contrast with the activity of the physiological organism. This latter is relatively confined to itself. Sexually and parentally, as well as in its attacks and defenses, its activities are social in that the acts begun within the organism require their completion in the actions of others, and in the latter cases (the attacks upon and defenses against other forms), except in their combination with the parental activities in play, the social action is one which has a social pattern only from the standpoint of the group or species, not from the standpoint of the physiological organism. Sexual and parental action even from the standpoint of the organism maintain the other or others as part of its own process, so that the pattern of the act in the individual is social. The same may be true in the herding instinct so called, though this is so vague that it is with difficulty presented in details of behavior. But, while the pattern of the individual act may be said to be in these cases social, it is so only in so far as the organism seeks for the stimuli in the attitudes and characters of other forms for the completion of its own responses, and by its behavior tends to maintain the others as a part of its own environment. The actual behavior of the other or the others is not initiated in the individual form as a part of its own pattern of behavior.

In the human organism the pattern of the whole social act is in some sense initiated in the individual as the pattern of his act. The mechanism of this is the effect which the gesture of the organism has upon itself that is analogous to the effect which it has upon the other. In this fashion the organism which is stimulating another organism to its part in a social act can arouse the early stages of the same response in its own central nervous system; and, if the gesture is one which would call out attitudes

(447) of others in the group, and if their responses were organically related to one another in mediating the response of the organism in question, then the pattern of the whole social act could be initiated in the system of this organism.

The pattern of such a social act in the organism of an individual may be illustrated in a game, in which the gesture of the organism is the stimulus to other players to their appropriate responses. Illustrations may be found in any co-operative process in which each individual indicates by his gesture which belongs to his act what the others have to do. When this gesture, as is the case in the vocal gesture, tends to arouse in the individual who makes it the response or responses which it calls out in the other or others, there may appear in his organism the initiatory stages of the act of the other or of the others.

What the central nervous system seems to provide in its higher centers is a set of different combinations of the various responses of the organism to its environment. The indefinite number of association fibers in their connections with the lower centers make possible all sorts of combinations of our reactions, both in spatial and in temporal adjustments. Thus both things and acts are represented in the higher centers, but these different things and acts involve generally the innervation of the same muscles and organs, so that the dominance of any one set involves the inhibition of organizations of centers, though they may be excited. In their organization in a temporal sense, i.e., in the order in which acts succeed one another, they make possible an indefinite number of reactions, which for the same reason would be inhibitory of one another in so far as any one of these organizations is actually the path of the response of the organism in any particular case. It is the combination of any Set of such centers which represents in the central nervous system a pattern of conduct, in respect to both things and events. When brought into constant use, they become habits and need but to be initiated to run off with facility. Such a pattern may be called "social" when the action of other organisms is requisite for the completion of the act, and when, therefore, the comple-

(448) -tion is dependent upon the organism's controlling its responses with reference to the gestures of other forms. By gestures I mean those parts of such social acts which serve as the cues and stimuli for the appropriate responses of the other forms involved in the whole social act. As we have seen, the human organism may arouse the same response in these higher centers in itself which it arouses through its gesture in the other form, and it finds itself, therefore, in the attitude of the other in so far as this attitude which it calls out in another is called out in itself. If the gesture of the individual calls out not only the response of another but also the responses of a group of others who are involved in the act, these varied responses could be called out in the individual in question, at least in those higher nervous centers where they could only represent responses which could not be carried through but must serve some other function. The immediate function which such a taking of the role of the other serves is that of making the organism an object to itself. The individual in one role can direct himself in another. The striking example is in the play of little children. In the organized game which comes later the child can direct himself in the role of the members of the group who are playing the game with him. In such a situation the pattern of the whole social act becomes a part of the experience of the child.

Such a pattern would only be present in so far as it served a function. The advantage of the individual approaching his own response from the standpoints of those also involved in the same conduct is evident enough. It would need to be present only in the emphasis which it would give to appropriate responses of the individual, though out of it would spring the whole reflective process of deliberation.

A matter of very great importance in connection with this consideration is the organization of the conduct of the individual about this pattern of group activities, and, in so far as these group activities are interrelated, about the pattern of the group conduct as a whole. It is evident that it is only in this situation that a self arises, for it is only in this fashion that the

(449) individual becomes an object to himself, and this character is the mark of the self. The self, then, would inevitably be organized about the pattern of the group activities in so far as they are unitary. In various respects this is the case, and those respects are particularly important to the individual. They are those in which the individual has specific functions, duties, rights, and privileges in the group.

This pattern, however, is not the pattern of the physiological organism. The pattern of the organism enters, as such, into the experience of the individual in the attentive adjustment of the organism to the stimuli which are the occasions for the response. This must be distinguished from the feelings of different parts of the organism which accompany this attitude of attentive adjustment. In these latter cases we refer the experiences of muscle contraction, movement of joint surfaces, circulation, respiration, visceral disturbances, etc., to the self. These enter the experience as organic happenings to the self. In the familiar terminology of physiological psychology we are conscious only of what answers to the sensory portion of the arc, not to the motor portion. The attentive adjustment of the act is in the experience and is determinative of it, but we have no experience of it. It is the organization of organic attitude and selective attention which can be brought into the field of "awareness of" only in certain limited effects.

There are two ways in which a unity may be in experience. It may be there as the actual process of the act and as the nature of the thing, or it may be there as an organization of the phases of the act and as the parts of the thing. Thus placing food in the mouth is an act which has a certain unity, and a tree is an object which has a unity. Both these unities are in experience. However, there is a difference ill their structural unities in experience. We can break the tree into its parts, such as its roots, stem and branches, and its foliage, flowers, and fruit, and find in the recognized relations of these parts a statement of the unity of the tree. These parts also lie in experience; and, even if we carry our analysis into minuter parts, these still lie in im-

(450) -agination and in thought in the experience. They are parts that we are aware of as we may be aware of the tree. In the case of the physiological act of carrying food to the mouth, we may look at the act from the standpoint of an act of the self and as an act of the physiological organism. As an act of the self it has a unity, the statement of which can be made in the different stages of the purposive activity and in their relationships to one another. The act of the self may be analyzed into the different parts which also lie within the experience of the self together with the relations that connect them. But the organic unity of the physiological act which carries the food to the mouth cannot be so analyzed in terms of the experiences of the self, though the act and its unity are certainly there. Walking, writing, and talking are there as physiological processes as well as actions of the self. We realize this when for some reason the organism refuses to function. Something that was there has disappeared, but its structure is not to be come at by an analysis of the experiences of the self. It is true that we may make an analysis of the different elements of the physiological structure by anatomizing the organism and showing what the mechanism is that must work to enable the act to take place. This analysis, however, does not present parts of the act of the self. They are conditions of the action of the self, but they lie outside that experience.

The process of adjustment of living forms consists in the selection of the characters in the environment which will set free the impulses which maintain the life-process, together with such a spatiotemporal organization of these characters as answer to the pattern of the act that arises out of impulse when the opportunity arises for its expression. Control lies exclusively in this selection with the consequent organization of the environment. While the act in its unity is there in experience, it is not analyzed into parts by the control of the organism, but the selection and organization of the environment are an analysis and a synthesis in which the whole is a sum of its parts. The sensitivity of the organism brings parts of itself into the

(451) environment. It does not, however, bring the life-process itself into the environment, and the complete imaginative presentation of the organism is unable to present the living of the organism. It can conceivably present the conditions under which living takes place but not the unitary life-process. The physical organism in the environment always remains a thing. The act may be presented in terms of the mechanism of physical things that are the conditions for the act, the contractions of the stomach walls, the nervous irritations consequent upon these contractions, the nervous centers within which these irritations appear, the motor paths over which discharges take place, and ;-he muscles whose contractions lead to the carrying of the food to the mouth. This statement in terms of physical things answers to the manipulatory phase of the act. It lies short of the consummatory phase of the act. It is in terms of means and conditions of the act. Its analysis is made through the selective process of indication of those characters which serve as stimuli to set free the impulses involved, and these characters find their reality in the contact experiences which the distant characters lead to or imply. They constitute the parts of the act in these terms plus the relationships which connect these parts in a synthesized whole, but a whole of physical things which are the conditions or means of the act, not the act itself.

On the other hand, the act may be presented in terms of the feeling of hunger, the sense of effort in reaching for what is attractive to vision, smell, and taste, and the enjoyment of the food as actually eaten. Here we are dealing with phases which have been represented as states of consciousness parallel with excitements of the central nervous system that are conceived as aroused by sensory processes. They are all ultimates in the different parts of the whole act. They are want, effort, and satisfaction. They are all values. It is true that hunger and effort lead up to the actual eating with its enjoyment, but they are not indifferent means. As values they do not enter into the mechanical series of physical changes which are stated in terms of the bodily organism as a mechanism of physical things. They

(452) appear in experience, however, more or less embodied in things. The distress of hunger is localized. The food and the implements by which it is carried to the mouth and the sapid and odorous comestible in the mouth are all things. Still they are things which in direct experience have values. They are not indifferent means, in the sense in which the mechanisms of the body, when we abstract what we have termed states of consciousness, are indifferent means. The stomach hurts, and the things we manipulate are interesting, and the food is agreeable. However, the stomach that we feel, the things that are interesting, and the food that is good or bad are at the consummatory end of the act. They are not perceptual things in the sense of being there as material things, whose reality we can identify by getting our hands upon them. This reality can abide while the values vanish. The stomach can become simply an organ, and the implements of the table cease to be interesting, and the food cease to appeal to or offend the palate, and yet they all retain their reality as perceptual things. They have in so far passed out of the act, or series of acts of eating, and we abstract from this act and hold on to this character of their physical reality. In other words, in the perspective of the act of eating they are objects with the values that belong to the consummatory phase of the act. In terms of these values we can analyze the act. The want as expressed in hunger, the interest that attaches to the means of securing the food, and the satisfaction of the food itself are three phases of the act of eating. In the relation of these value elements to one another the act as it appears in the experience of the individual falls into stages such that its wholeness, its unity, receives expression in different parts. Want, interest, and satisfaction-each implies the entire process and embodies it in a particular phase In this respect they are not composite parts of the act, though the different stages are parts of the whole as a process. In experience, as in life as an entity, the whole is given in the part. In contrast with this, in a mechanism the whole arises out of its parts.

The perceptual object, abstracted from its consummatory

(453) character, continues to exist. It may, of course, have taken on a value in another act. There are indeed an indefinite number of acts within which it may appear with different values. Its identity as a physical object having these different values may not be present in experience, i.e., it may be in each case a different object. The physical object as such in experience is, however, abstracted from these values. In so far it becomes an absolute means, and the tendency of scientific procedure is to analyze it into the ultimate physical particles, the ultimate scientific objects, which are thought of as existing not only in independence of these values but also as independent of all conduct and as the reality of the world within which human beings with the values with which they endow these objects arise. One can approach these physical objects from two standpoints-either as that common character which belongs to objects that have different values or through definition of this common character in terms of the manipulatory contact experience which the hand makes possible in implemental human behavior, leading finally to the mass particles of science into which the more refined analysis of exact physical science resolves the physical things of our manipulation. The implication of the reduction of these mass particles to electrical energy may be put to one side for the present. What is the implication of the assumption of the independent existence of material things abstracted from the values which belong to them in human behavior? They appear, in the first place, as the common terms in which we can translate objects in one perspective of value into an object in another perspective of value. The meat that one eats may be considered from an indefinite number of value points of view, as food, as property, as fish bait, etc., but, to whatever use one puts it, it continues to have certain physical characters which are unaffected by the difference in its value import. From the standpoint of the perceptual judgment of reality, that of manipulatory contact, these physical objects are there in independence of the acts, and they were there before the organism arose and will continue after its disappearance.


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