Chapter 6 Human Individuality

 
Chapter 6 Human Individuality
 
    [1] In explaining mental
        pictures,
       philosophers
          have found the chief difficulty
             in the fact
          that we ourselves
              are not the outer things,
       and yet our mental pictures
          must have a form
        corresponding
           to the things.

    But
         on closer inspection
             it turns out
                that this difficulty
                   does not really exist.

    We certainly are not
          the external things,
       but
          we belong together
             with them
                to one
                   and the same world.

    That section
        of the world
       which
          I perceive
       to be myself
          as subject is permeated
        by the stream
            of the universal cosmic process.

    To my perception
         I am,
       in the first instance,
          confined
             within the limits bounded
                by my skin.

    But all that is contained
        within this skin
           belongs
        to the cosmos
            as a whole.

    Hence,
       for a relation
          to subsist
             between my organism
                and an object external
               to me,
       it is
           by no
              means necessary
         that
             something of the object
                should slip into me,
       or make an impression
           on my mind,
       like
          a signet ring
             on wax.

    The question:
        "How do
             I get information
                about that tree ten feet
                   away from me?"
           is utterly misleading.

    It springs
        from the view
           that
      the boundaries of my body
         are absolute barriers,
      through which information
          about things filters
              into me.

    The forces
          which are at work
         inside my body
            are the same
           as those
         which
            exist outside.

    Therefore
         I really am the things;
            not,
           however,
              "I" in so far
                 as I am a percept
           of myself
               as subject,
       but
          "I" in so far
             as I am a part
                of the universal world process.

    The percept of the tree
        belongs
           to the same whole
               as my I. This
             universal world
                  process
                produces equally the percept
                   of the tree
               out there
                   and the percept
                      of my I
               in here.

    Were
         I not
            a world knower,
           but world creator,
              object
           and
              subject (percept and I) would originate
                 in one act.

    For each implies the other.

    In so far
         as these
            are entities that
               belong together,
       I can as world knower
          discover
             the common element
           in both
               only through thinking,
       which relates one
           to the other
               by means
                  of concepts.
 
    [2] The most difficult
          to drive
             from the field
         are the so-called physiological proofs
            of the subjectivity
               of our percepts.

    When
         I exert
              pressure
           on my skin
              I perceive it
                 as a pressure sensation.

    This same pressure
        can be sensed
           as light
              by the eye,
       as sound
           by the ear.

    An electric shock
        is perceived
           by the eye
               as light,
       by the ear
           as noise,
       by the nerves
           of the skin
               as impact,
       and
          by the nose
             as a phosphoric smell.

    What follows
        from these facts?

    Only this:
       I perceive an electric shock
          (or a pressure,
             as the case
            may be)
           followed
               by an impression
                   of light,
                      or sound,
                   or perhaps
           a certain smell,
       and so on.

    If there were
          no eye present,
       then
          no perception
             of light
            would accompany
           the perception
              of the mechanical disturbance
                 in my environment;
       without the presence
           of the ear,
              no perception
                 of sound,
       and so on.

    But
         what right
              have
             we to say
                 that
                    in the absence
                       of sense organs
              the whole process
                 would not exist
               at all?

    Those who,
       from the fact
          that an electrical process calls
             forth light
                in the eye,
       conclude that
          what
         we sense
            as light is only
           a mechanical process
              of motion
             when
                outside our organism,
       forget
          that they
             are only passing
           from one percept
               to another,
       and not at
           all to something
              lying
                 beyond percepts.

    Just
         as we can say
            that the eye perceives
           a mechanical process
              of motion
                 in its surroundings
                    as light,
       so
          we could equally well say
             that
          a regular
             and systematic change in an object
                is perceived
               by us
                   as a process
                       of motion.

    If
         I draw twelve pictures
            of a horse
           on the circumference
               of a rotating disc,
       reproducing exactly the attitudes
          which
             the horse's body
                successively assumes
         when galloping,
       I can produce the illusion
           of movement
               by rotating the disc.

    I need
          only
              look through
           an opening
              in such a way
         that,
       in the proper intervals,
          I see the successive positions
             of the horse.

    I do not see
        twelve separate pictures
           of a horse
              but the picture
           of a single galloping horse.

    [3] The physiological fact mentioned
        above cannot therefore throw any light
           on the relation
               of percept
                   to mental picture.

    We must go about it
        rather differently.
 
    [4]
         The moment a percept appears
            in my field
               of observation,
       thinking also becomes active
           through me.

    An element
        of my thought system,
           a definite intuition,
              a concept,
      connects itself
          with the percept.

    Then,
       when
          the percept disappears
             from my field
                of vision,
       what remains?

    My intuition,
       with the reference
           to the particular percept
         which
             it acquired
           in the moment
               of perceiving.

    The degree
        of vividness
       with which
         I can subsequently recall
            this reference depends
        on the manner
           in which my mental
              and bodily
                 organism is working.

    A mental picture
        is nothing
           but
              an intuition related
           to a particular percept;
       it is a concept
          that was once connected
             with a certain percept,
       and
          which retains
             the reference
           to this percept.

    My concept of a lion
          is not formed
             out of my percepts
                of lions;
       but
          my mental picture
             of a lion
          is very definitely formed according to
              a percept.

    I can convey the concept
        of a lion
            to someone
       who has never seen
           a lion.

    I cannot convey to him
        a vivid mental picture
           without the help
              of his own perception.
 
    [5] Thus the mental picture
          is an individualized concept.

    And
         now
            we can see how
          real objects can be represented
             to us
                by mental pictures.

    The full reality
        of a thing
           is given
              to us
                 in the moment
                    of observation
                       through the fitting together
                          of concept and percept.

    By means
        of a percept,
       the concept
          acquires
             an individualized form,
       a relation
           to this
               particular percept.

    In this individualized form,
       which carries
           the reference
              to the percept
                 as a characteristic feature,
       the concept
          lives on
             in us
            and constitutes
               the mental picture
                  of the thing
                     in question.

    If
         we come across
            a second thing
         with which
             the same concept
                connects itself,
       we recognize
          the second
              as belonging
                 to the same kind
               as the first;
       if
          we come across
             the same thing
           a second time,
       we find
           in our conceptual system,
       not merely
           a corresponding concept,
       but the individualized concept
           with its characteristic relation
               to the same object,
       and thus we
          recognize the object again.
 
    [6]
         Thus the mental picture stands
            between percept
               and concept.

    It is
         the particularized concept
            which points to the percept.
 
    [7] The sum
        of those things
       about which
           I can form mental pictures
      may be called
         my total experience.

    The man
          who has
             the greater number
           of individualized
          concepts will be the man
             of richer experience.

    A man
         who lacks all
        power
           of intuition
              is not capable
           of acquiring experience.

    He loses the objects again
        when
             they disappear
           from his field
               of vision,
       because
          he lacks
             the concepts
         which
             he should bring
                into relation
                   with them.

    A man whose faculty
        of thinking
           is well developed,
      but
         whose perception functions
            badly owing
          to his clumsy sense organs,
      will just
          as little
             be able
          to gather experience.

    He can,
       it is true,
          acquire concepts
             by one means
                or another;
       but his intuitions
          lack the vivid reference
         to definite things.

    The unthinking traveler
        and the scholar
           living
              in abstract conceptual systems
            are alike incapable
           of acquiring
          a rich sum
             of experience.
 
    [8] Reality
        shows itself
           to us
               as percept
                   and concept;
       the subjective representative
           of this reality
          shows itself
             to us
                as mental picture.
 
    [9] If our personality
          expressed itself only in cognition,
       the totality
           of all that is objective
              would be given
                 in percept,
       concept
           and mental
          picture.
 
    [10] However,
       we are not satisfied merely
           to refer
              the percept,
       by means
           of thinking,
              to the concept,
           but we
              relate them also
            to our particular subjectivity,
       our individual Ego.

    The expression
        of this
       individual relationship
         is feeling,
      which
         manifests itself
            as pleasure
               or displeasure.
 
    [11] Thinking
        and feeling
           correspond
              to the two-fold nature
                 of our being
         to which
              reference
            has already been made.

    Thinking is the element
         through which
             we
          take part in
             the universal cosmic process;
       feeling is that
          through which
             we
                can withdraw ourselves
               into the narrow confines
                   of our own being.
 
    [12] Our thinking
        links us
           to the world;
       our feeling
          leads us
              back
           into ourselves
               and thus
            makes us
          individuals.

    Were
         we merely thinking
            and perceiving beings,
       our whole life
          would flow along
             in monotonous indifference.

    Were
         we able merely
            to know ourselves as selves,
       we should be totally indifferent
           to ourselves.

    It is only
         because
             we experience self-feeling
           with self-knowledge,
       and pleasure
          and pain
             with the perception
                of objects,
       that
          we live
             as individual beings
         whose existence
            is not limited
           to the conceptual relations
               between us
                   and the rest
                       of the world,
       but
          who have besides this
         a special value
            for ourselves.
 
    [13] One might be tempted
          to see
             in the life
                of feeling
         an element
            that is more richly saturated
           with reality than
              is
          the contemplation
             of the world
            through thinking.

    But the reply to this
          is that the life
             of feeling,
           after all,
              has
                 this richer meaning only
           for my individual self.

    For the universe
        as a whole my life
            of feeling
               can have
                   value
       only if,
      as a percept
          of my self,
      the feeling
         enters
            into connection
               with a concept
                  and in this roundabout way
           links itself
              to the cosmos.

    [14] Our life
        is a continual oscillation
           between living
              with the universal world process
            and being
               our own
                   individual selves.

    The farther
         we ascend
            into the universal nature
               of thinking
         where in the end
             what is individual
                interests us only
               as an example
                   or specimen
                      of the concept,
       the more
           the character
               of the separate being,
                  of the quite
                     definite single personality,
       becomes
          lost
             in us.

    The farther
         we descend
            into the depths
               of our own life
                  and allow
                     our feelings
                        to resound
                       with our experiences
                           of the outer world,
       the more
          we cut ourselves
             off
           from universal being.

    A true individuality
        will be
           the one
              who reaches up
                 with his feelings
                    to the farthest possible extent
                       into the region
                           of the ideal.
 
    [15] Making mental
        pictures
           gives our conceptual life
              at once
                 an individual stamp.

    Each one
        of us
           has
        his own particular
       place from which
          he surveys the world.

    His concepts
        link themselves to his percepts.

    He thinks
        the general concepts
           in his own special way.

    This special determination results
        for each
            of us
                from the place
      where
          we stand
        in the world,
       from the range
           of percepts peculiar
               to our place
                   in life.
 
    [16] Distinct
        from this determination
           is
        another
       which
          depends
        on our particular organization.

    Our organization
        is indeed
           a special,
       fully determined
          entity.

    Each of us
         combines special feelings,
       and these
           in the most varying degrees
               of intensity,
       with his percepts.

    This is just
        the individual element
           in the personality
              of each one
                 of us.

    It is
         what remains over
            when we
               have allowed fully for all
           the determining factors
               in our surroundings.
 
    [17] A life
        of feeling,
       wholly devoid
           of thinking,
       would gradually lose all connection
           with the world.

    But man
        is meant
           to be a whole,
       and for him
          knowledge of things
             will go
                 hand in hand
           with the development
               and education
                  of the life of feeling.
 
    [18] Feeling
          is the means whereby,
       in the first instance,
          concepts
             gain concrete life.