observation

Submitted by jf on Sat, 03/05/2011 - 12:57pm.

"We must next ask ourselves how that other element, which we have so far simply called the object of observation and which meets the thinking in our consciousness, comes into our consciousness at all.

In order to answer this question we must eliminate from our field of observation everything that has been imported by thinking. For at any moment the content of our consciousness will already be interwoven with concepts in the most varied ways.

We must imagine that a being with fully developed human intelligence originates out of nothing and confronts the world. What it would be aware of, before it sets its thinking in motion, would be the pure content of observation. The world would then appear to this being as nothing but a mere disconnected aggregate of objects of sensation : colors, sounds, sensations of pressure, of warmth, of taste and smell; also feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, unthinking observation. Over against it stands thinking, ready to begin its activity as soon as a point of attack presents itself. Experience shows at once that this does happen. Thinking is able to draw threads from one element of observation to another. It links definite concepts with these elements and thereby establishes a relationship between them. We have already seen how a noise which we hear becomes connected with another observation by our identifying the former as the effect of the latter."