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Thought

psychology, consciousness, mental, mind, meaning and relations

THOUGHT, a cognitive relation other than that of direct awareness, born by the mind either toward an object which is believed to exist, or toward a so-called "abstract object," such as a universal, concerning which the question of existence has no meaning. This latter feature distinguishes thought from imagination in the narrower sense which is directed toward objects capable of existence, without involving any belief in their existence. Since it differs from mere presentation, the thought-relation, so far as it furnishes us with any knowledge of its objects, furnishes us with what Bertrand Russell calls knowledge by description — knowledge that is, which may be expressed by propositions. On this account thought can be conveyed by language, for lan guage, though totally unable to transmit an im mediate presentation, is well adapted as a vehicle for the relations between presentations, as embodied in propositions. This intimate as sociation ,between thought and language leads to the nominalist identification of the two, which possesses all the defects inherent in every form of nominalism (q.v.). A more vicious form of this nominalism pervades a large part of the modern psychology (,1 rea soning and consists in the recognition in the mental life of nothing but particulars. The fundamental method of psychology is, of course, introspection. Now, the psychologist receives his training in introspection in the domain of the senses. Here introspection means for the most part the formation of an inventory of the sense-data constituting a given experience. The psychologist consequently ac quires the tendency to consider the analysis of consciousness complete when all the mental states of the level of sense-data are checked off and tagged. When he approaches an act of thought, or the consciousness of a universal, or any similar experience, he is likely to find such mental states as he is accustomed to ex amine, entirely absent. except for a few vague residual organic or kinxsthetic sensations and verbal images. He, therefore, i(lentifies these with the or universal consciousness and either conciuoes that these forms of consciousness add to the mind no constituent elements not already found in sensation, memory, imagination and feeling, or postulates the existence of some substantive mental state not images ol emotions.

Unable to explain he n mental state can be so pregnant with meaning, he has recourse to such unexplanatory phrases as °con scious attitudes.x. The true reason for the ability of a vague picture of a particular tri angle to convey the entire meaning of larity, or for power of a verbal imag, of the law of gravitation to symbolize the law itself, is that the mind is a structure and no struc ture is exhausted by its inventory.

There is no doubt on earth that whether the consistency or the correspondence theory of truth be valid, a necessary condition of true thinking is that the pattern of thought should agree with the pattern of things. Now, if two patterns agree, we do not have the relations of the parts of one pattern symbolized by the parts of the other, but precisely by the rela tions between those parts. Accordingly, it is only reasonable to suppose that relations are conveyed in the mind, not by items, but by relations; that qualities are conveyed by qualities; that facts are conveyed by facts. The muscular strain in the orbits that may be the only substantive state in my mind when I think of a certain mathematical theorem is not my consciousness of that theorem, but merely a sort of a mental chalk-mark with which I make myself aware of my reference to the theorem. To call my true consciousness of the theorem either imageful or imageless involves a gross confusion of categories. (See LoGic ; MEANING; PSYCHOLOGY). Consult James, W. (Principles of Psychology' (New York 1840); Messer, A., (Empfindung and Denken' (Leipzig 1908); 'Psychologie' (Stuttgart 1904); Ogden, R. M., 'Introduction to General Psychology' (New York 1910); Titchener, E. B., 'Experimental Psychology of the Thought Processes' (New York 1909).