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THIS book began its life and growth about thirty years ago with the question "What is Education? Any complete answer to this question would seem to involve a coherent theory of epistemology, and any working theory of epistemology leads straight to the psycho-neural problem. The voyage of exploration thus begun has proved a fascinating one and seems also to have been intrinsically worth while. It issued at first after many years in a definition of education which seemed on its completion to have assumed something at any rate of the character of which the writer had been in search, and which included a theory of epistemology. This led on to a study of the affective or emotional aspect of the human mind, the result of which is given in the chapter on the Conceptual and Emotional Complexes, and lastly to the sketch of that part of the psycho-neural problem which is considered under the term Neuronism.
Incidentally the work has involved an attempt to peep partly behind the veil of the traditional paraphernalia of philosophy, and has resulted in a new setting of the Conceptual Theory of Thought, and in what at the moment seems to the writer a more or less coherent view of the way in which the conceptual and emotional complexes, which
form the dispositions of the mind, become gradually organised as the result of the experience which is acquired through the different kinds of perception. Opinions as to the validity of the argument throughout will perhaps hinge largely on the connotations attaching to the word "concept." This term, as elsewhere explained, is used to denote something other than the Platonic concept. The Platonic doctrine of the concept affords no assistance to the neurologist of to-day in his search for a synthesis of the psychical and neural elements in thought, and a doctrine of the concept which has spent twenty-two centuries in failing to contribute to the solution of this problem would seem to have just as deservedly earned its discharge as an employee who persistently leaves his job to be done by somebody else.
Philosophy is approaching a synthesis of the psychical and neural aspects of the psycho-neural processes of the individual mind, but it would seem that it is only through a theory of the nature of thought which shall be congruous with what we know of the several and collective functionings of the various parts of the nervous system that such a synthesis can be reached. Any theory of the nature of thought is obviously an affair of metaphysics, yet to a neurologist every such theory has to submit to a test of its congruity with the anatomical structures and physiological processes of the brain and nervous system. In the words of a great English neurologist, Hughlings Jackson, "We have as anatomists and physiologists to study, not ideas but the material substrata of
ideas (anatomy), and the modes and conditions of energising these substrata."1 Any theory of the nature of thought has to survive, or succumb to, a cross fire from metaphysicians on the one hand and neurologists on the other. Such a theory is here presented for this test.
There has been much recent work and speculation on the wide range of subject-matter which centres round the ill-defined terms "Instinct" and Intelligence," and the way to a more agreed understanding as to the appropriate use of these terms seems also to lie through a more coherent view of the nature of the thought processes and their relation to the physical parts of the organism.
No apology is offered for the apparent levity of parts of the argument. When an amateur encroaches on the preserves of professional philosophers he must expect to get laughed at for his pains, and may perhaps be excused if he tries to get in a bit of his own laugh first. Mr Santayana tells us that it is time for philosophy "to become less solemn and more serious." " Dr Brandes tells us that in Hamlet Shakespeare put the motley coat on his own shoulders, and that "the task was a grateful one, for earnestness cuts deeper the more it sounds like jest or triviality"; and Milton gives us, in his own phrase, a saying of Horace that
. Joking decides great things
Stronger and better oft than earnest can.
The writer believes that paradox and jest with
1 "Hughlings Jackson," by Henry Head, Brain, July 1915, p. 84. 2 "Philosophical Opinion in America," Proceedings of British Academy, vol. viii.
their attendant laughter may be made as potent implements for truth as Falstaff made them for untruth, and that a serious argument for humour in the treatment of philosophy might be based on what a modern writer' calls its "delicate percipience of proportion," the proportion necessary for all right judgments: enough here that if it be permissible for a philosopher2 to import philosophy into his fun, it should also be permissible for an ordinary man to import fun into his philosophy.
In looking through the completed essay the writer feels that he has been engaged in little more than putting together a puzzle of which the different pieces have been provided for him by others, or that he can say quite truly, in the words of Montaigne, “I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the string that binds them is mine own." To all who have contributed these flowers, whether known and acknowledged or unknown or forgotten and unacknowledged, he tenders his sincerest thanks.
Specific personal acknowledgment and thanks are also due and gratefully made to friends for most valuable encouragement and help in a long taskto Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Mr Robert Bridges, Mr Santayana, Prof. Bompas-Smith, Prof. Elliot-Smith, Prof. Findlay, Sir John MacAlister, Mr L. Matheson, the Rev. Cecil Grant, and the Rev. J. F. Jones. The value of this help has been incalculable and in many cases wholly impossible for the recipient to appraise. In the many dark hours which a study
1 W. J. Locke in The Fortunate Youth.
2 Principal L. P. Jacks.