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The definition of Psychology may be best given in the words of Professor Ladd, as the description and explanation of states of consciousness as such. By states of consciousness are meant such things as sensations, desires, emotions, cognitions, reasonings, decisions, volitions, and the like. Their 'explanation' must of course include the study of their causes, conditions, and immediate consequences, so far as these can be ascertained.
Psychology is to be treated as a natural science in this book. This requires a word of commentary. Most thinkers have a faith that at bottom there is but one Science of all things, and that until all is known, no one thing can be completely known. Such a science, if realized, would be Philosophy. Meanwhile it is far from being realized; and instead of it, we have a lot of beginnings of knowledge made in different places, and kept separate from each other merely for practical convenience' sake, until with later growth they may run into one body of Truth. These provisional beginnings of learning we call 'the Sciences' in the plural. In order not to be unwieldy, every such science has to stick to its own arbitrarily-selected problems, and to ignore all others. Every science thus accepts certain data unquestioningly, leaving it to the other parts of Philosophy
to scrutinize their significance and truth. All the natural sciences, for example, in spite of the fact that farther reflection leads to Idealism, assume that a world of matter exists altogether independently of the perceiving mind. Mechanical Science assumes this matter to have 'mass' and to exert 'force,' defining these terms merely phenomenally, and not troubling itself about certain unintelligibilities which they present on nearer reflection. Motion similarly is assumed by mechanical science to exist independently of the mind, in spite of the difficulties involved in the assumption. So Physics assumes atoms, action at a distance, etc., uncritically; Chemistry uncritically adopts all the data of Physics; and Physiology adopts those of Chemistry. Psychology as a natural science deals with things in the same partial and provisional way. In addition to the ' material world' with all its determinations, which the other sciences of nature assume, she assumes additional data peculiarly her own, and leaves it to more developed parts of Philosophy to test their ulterior significance and truth. These data are
1. Thoughts and feelings, or whatever other names transitory states of consciousness may be known by.
2. Knowledge, by these states of consciousness, of other things. These things may be material objects and events, or other states of mind. The material objects may be either near or distant in time and space, and the states of mind may be those of other people, or of the thinker himself at some other time.
How one thing can know another is the problem of what is called the Theory of Knowledge. How such a thing as a 'state of mind' can be at all is the problem of what has been called Rational, as distinguished from Empirical, Psychology. The full truth about states of mind cannot be known until both Theory of Knowledge and Rational Psychology have said their say. Meanwhile an immense amount of provisional truth about them can be got together, which will work in with the larger truth and be
interpreted by it when the proper time arrives. Such a provisional body of propositions about states of mind, and about the cognitions which they enjoy, is what I mean by Psychology considered as a natural science. On any ulterior theory of matter, mind, and knowledge, the facts and laws of Psychology thus understood will have their value. If critics find that this natural-science point of view cuts things too arbitrarily short, they must not blame the book which confines itself to that point of view; rather must they go on themselves to complete it by their deeper thought. Incomplete statements are often practically necessary. To go beyond the usual scientific' assumptions in the present case, would require, not a volume, but a shelfful of volumes, and by the present author such a shelfful could not be written at all.
Let it also be added that the human mind is all that can be touched upon in this book. Although the mental life of lower creatures has been examined into of late years with some success, we have no space for its consideration here, and can only allude to its manifestations incidentally when they throw light upon our own.
Mental facts cannot be properly studied apart from the physical environment of which they take cognizance. The great fault of the older rational psychology was to set up the soul as an absolute spiritual being with certain faculties of its own by which the several activities of remembering, imagining, reasoning, willing, etc., were explained, almost without reference to the peculiarities of the world with which these activities deal. But the richer insight of modern days perceives that our inner faculties are adapted in advance to the features of the world in which we dwell, adapted, I mean, so as to secure our safety and prosperity in its midst. Not only are our capacities for forming new habits, for remembering sequences, and for abstracting general properties from things and associating their usual consequences with them, exactly the faculties needed for steering us in this world of mixed variety and uniformity, but our emo
tions and instincts are adapted to very special features of that world. In the main, if a phenomenon is important for our welfare, it interests and excites us the first time we come into its presence. Dangerous things fill us with involuntary fear; poisonous things with distaste; indispensable things with appetite. Mind and world in short have been evolved together, and in consequence are something of a mutual fit. The special interactions between the outer order and the order of consciousness, by which this harmony, such as it is, may in the course of time have come about, have been made the subject of many evolutionary speculations, which, though they cannot so far be said to be conclusive, have at least refreshed and enriched the whole subject, and brought all sorts of new questions to the light.
The chief result of all this more modern view is the gradually growing conviction that mental life is primarily teleological; that is to say, that our various ways of feeling and thinking have grown to be what they are because of their utility in shaping our reactions on the outer world. On the whole, few recent formulas have done more service in psychology than the Spencerian one that the essence of mental life and bodily life are one, namely, 'the adjustment of inner to outer relations.' The adjustment is to immediately present objects in lower animals and in infants. It is to objects more and more remote in time and space, and inferred by means of more and more complex and exact processes of reasoning, when the grade of mental development grows more advanced.
Primarily then, and fundamentally, the mental life is for the sake of action of a preservative sort. Secondarily and incidentally it does many other things, and may even, when ill 'adapted,' lead to its possessor's destruction. Psychology, taken in the widest way, ought to study every sort of mental activity, the useless and harmful sorts as well as that which is 'adapted.' But the study of the harmful in mental life has been made the subject of a special branch called 'Psychiatry '-the science of insanity-and