Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER X.: THE PERCEPTION OF BODY AS PRESENTING DYNAMICAL, STATICO-DYNAMICAL, AND STATICAL ATTRIBUTES. ∗ - The Principles of Psychology
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CHAPTER X.: THE PERCEPTION OF BODY AS PRESENTING DYNAMICAL, STATICO-DYNAMICAL, AND STATICAL ATTRIBUTES. ∗ - Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Psychology 
The Principles of Psychology (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1855).
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THE PERCEPTION OF BODY AS PRESENTING DYNAMICAL, STATICO-DYNAMICAL, AND STATICAL ATTRIBUTES.∗
§ 49. That relation between object and subject which is established in the act of perception, is of a threefold kind. It assumes three distinct aspects, according as there is some species of activity on the part of the object; on the part of the subject; or on the part of both. If, while the subject is passive, the object is working an effect upon it—as by radiating heat, giving off odour, or propagating sound—there results in the subject, a perception of what is usually termed a secondary property of body; but what may be better termed a dynamical property. If the subject is directly acting upon the object by grasping, thrusting, pulling, or any other mechanical process; and the object is reacting, as it must, to an equivalent extent; the subject perceives those variously modified kinds of resistance which have been classed as the secundo-primary properties; but which I prefer to class as statico-dynamical. And if the subject alone is active—if that which occupies consciousness is not any action or reaction of the object, but something discerned through its actions or reactions—as size, form, or position; then the property perceived is of the kind commonly known as primary, but here named statical.
The three classes of attributes thus briefly defined, which will hereafter be successively considered at length, are, for the most part, presented to consciousness, not separately, but together. Extension, and all the space-attributes, are unknowable, save through the medium of resistance and the other force-attributes. Tangible properties are generally perceived in connection with form, size, and position. And of the non-tangible ones, colour is mostly known as pertaining to the surfaces of solids; and cannot be conceived apart from extension of two dimensions. An object that is simultaneously held in the hands and regarded by the eyes, presents to consciousness all three orders of attributes at once. It is known as something resisting, rough or smooth, elastic or unelastic; as something having both visible and tangible extension, form, and size; as something whose parts reflect certain amounts and qualities of light; and, on further examination, as something specifically scented and flavoured.
In conformity with the method hitherto pursued, of taking first the most complex phenomena, resolving these into simpler ones, and these again into still simpler ones; our analysis of the perception of body will be best initiated by taking one of these total, exhaustive perceptions, and considering what are the relations that subsist among its various elements. And with a view of simplifying the problem, it will be well first to consider those contingent attributes known as secondary, and here called dynamical; so that after having duly analysed these in themselves, and in their relations to the necessary attributes, we may proceed to deal with the perception of necessary attributes as divested of everything that is extraneous.
§ 50. Beginning with these contingent attributes as contemplated in themselves, let us, in the first place, consider the propriety of classing them as dynamical. The most familiar liar ones are obviously manifestations of certain forms of force. Of sound, we know, not only that it becomes sensible to us solely through vibrations of the membrana tympani—not only that these vibrations are caused by waves in the air; but we know that the body whence they proceed must be thrown into a vibratory state by some mechanical force—that it must propagate undulations through surrounding matter—and that in this purely dynamical action consists the production of sound. Respecting heat, we know, both that it may be generated mechanically, as by compression or friction; and that, conversely, it is itself capable of generating mechanical force: further, that in its reflections and refractions, it conforms to the law of composition of forces; whilst, by the now established undulatory theory, its multiplied phenomena are resolved into dynamical ones: and yet, further, that on holding a thermometer near the fire, the same agent which produces in us a sensation of warmth, produces motion in the mercury. The phenomena of colour, again, are reducible to the same category. The reflections and refractions of light are inexplicable, save mechanically; and only on the theory of undulations can polarization, diffraction, &c., be accounted for. In common with heat, light varies inversely as the square of the distance; as gravitating force does, and as every force proceeding in all directions from a centre must do. On the now currently received hypothesis of the correlation of the physical forces, light is regarded as one form of the primordial force, which may otherwise manifest itself as attraction, as sensible motion, as electricity, as heat, as chemical affinity. In the fact that high temperature produces luminosity, joined to the fact that high temperature may be generated mechanically, we clearly trace the transformation; whilst, conversely, we find light producing a dynamic effect, alike in all photographic phenomena, and in those changes of atomic arrangement which it causes in certain crystals. Add to which, that though, under ordinary circumstances, matter only reflects and modifies the rays falling upon it; yet under fit chemical conditions, it becomes an independent source of light. Though not the immediate effects of radiant forces, odours are demonstrably dynamic in their origin. In conformity with the established doctrine of evaporation, that continuous giving off of particles in which odoriferousness consists, must be ascribed to atomic repulsion. And as the diffused molecules constituting the scent of a body, must have been propelled from the surfaces of that body, before they can act upon our nostrils; it follows that a certain form of activity in the object, is the efficient cause of a sensation of smell in the subject. The only secondary attribute of matter not obviously dynamic is that of taste. But the close alliance existing between taste and smell, is almost of itself sufficient to prove that if one is dynamic, so also is the other. Moreover, when we bear in mind that for a body to have any gustable property, implies some degree of solubility in the saliva, without which its particles cannot be carried by endosmose through the mucous membrane of the tongue, and cannot therefore be tasted; and when we further bear in mind that the diffusion of particles through liquid, is so far analogous to their diffusion through air, that the atomic repulsion causing the last, very probably has its share in the first; we shall see still further reason to consider the sensation of taste as due to an objective activity. But the dynamic nature of this, as well as of the other secondary attributes, is most clearly seen when, instead of contemplating the object as acting, we contemplate the subject as acted upon. An inappreciable quantity of strychnine, furtively conveyed into an infant's mouth, will produce a wry face; and, as all can testify, the flavours of certain drugs are so persistent as to continue to give us feelings of disgust, long after the drugs themselves have been swallowed. A pungent odour will cause a sneeze. The smell from a slaughterhouse or boneyard, creates a nausea that so tyrannizes over the consciousness, as to exclude every thought but that of escape. A flash of lightning, or any sudden change in the amount or quality of the light surrounding us, instantly changes the current of our thoughts. While sitting alone, and perhaps diligently occupied, any such alteration in the distribution of light and shade as is produced by the movement of an adjacent body, even when quite on the outskirts of the visual field, will cause us to start and turn the head. And still more significant is the fact that a strong glare abruptly thrown upon his face, will often awaken a sleeping person. Similarly with the changes of temperature. Any one standing with his hands behind him cannot have a red-hot iron put close to them without his ideas being at once directed into a new channel. If the degree of heat passes a certain point, he will draw away his hands automatically; and a forced submission to such extreme degree of heat, produces both a violent nervous excitement and a violent muscular action. So, too, is it with sounds. They may create either pleasurable or painful states of consciousness: they often distract our attention against our will: when loud, they cause involuntary starts in those who are awake; and either waken those who sleep, or modify their dreams. If, then, in these extreme cases, the so-called secondary attributes of body are unquestionably dynamic, they must be so throughout. If we see the eyes made to water by mustard taken in excess; vomiting excited in squeamish voyagers by the smell of the cabin; a blinking of the eyes, and a painful sense of dazzling, caused by looking at the sun; a scream called forth by a scald or burn; and an involuntary bound produced by an adjacent explosion; it becomes an unavoidable conclusion that those properties of things which we know as tastes, scents, colours, temperatures, sounds, are effects produced in us by forces in the environment. The subject undergoes a change of state, determined in him by some external agency directly or indirectly proceeding from an object. Though, immediately after that change of state has been produced, there may arise in the subject, during the interpretation of its outward cause, various internally-determined states; yet, in so far as the change itself is concerned, the subject is simply recipient of an objective influence. In respect to all these so-called secondary attributes, the object is active and the subject is passive. Or, in other words, they are dynamical attributes.
Let us next observe that, with the exception of taste, which is in some respects transitional, these dynamical attributes are those by which objects act upon us through space. By means of the light it radiates or reflects, an outward thing renders itself visible to us when afar off. Objects in a state of sonorous vibration arrest our attention at various degrees of remoteness. We are made aware of the presence of odoriferous substances whilst only in their neighbourhood. And masses of hot matter affect us not only when touching our bodies, but when near to them. Unlike hardness, softness, flexibility, brittleness, and all the statico-dynamical attributes, which are cognizable by us only through actual contact, either immediate or mediate; unlike the statical attributes, shape, size, and position, which do not in themselves affect us at all, but can become known only by acts of constructive intelligence; these dynamical attributes modify our consciousness at all distances from that of a star downwards. Eyes, ears, nose, and the diffused nervous agency enabling us to appreciate temperature, are inlets to the influences of objects more or less removed from us; and the ability that objects have thus to transmit their influence through space, again exhibits their inherent activity.
These attributes are further distinguished from all others by the peculiarity that they are, in a sense, separable from what we commonly call body; and may be perceived independently of it. Light in varying intensities is known as pervading surrounding space. The many tints assumed by the sky are not, in .so far as our senses are concerned, the attributes of matter. And by casting the prismatic spectrum upon a succession of neighbouring surfaces, we may readily convince ourselves that colour, in its various qualities and degrees, exists apart from them. Again, the like holds good with respect to the relation between sounds and vibrating objects which we learn only by a generalization of experiences. To the incipient intelligence of the infant, noise does not involve any conception of body. In an often-recurring echo, the sound has come to have an existence separate from the original concussion. We frequently hear sounds produced by things that are at the time neither visible nor tangible to us, but are simply inferred. And by the phrase,—“What's that?” commonly uttered on hearing an unusual noise, it is clearly implied that the noise has been identified as such, whilst yet no object has been thought of as causing it. Odours, also, are often perceived when wafted far from the substances diffusing them. A room scented by something that has been placed in it, may retain the scent long after the thing has been removed. We may be strongly affected by an entirely new smell, whilst wholly ignorant what produces it, or from which side of us it comes. So, too, is it with heat. In a cloudy August we occasionally experience marked changes of temperature that are not traceable to any special object. The warmth of a room heated by hot-water pipes may be felt for some time before it is discovered whence the warmth proceeds. So even is it with gustable properties. Though ordinarily the things which we taste are simultaneously known to us as fluid or solid matters; yet it needs but to note the strong effects produced upon the tongue by pungent chemicals given in intangible quantities, or to remember the persistence of disagreeable flavours even after the mouth has been rinsed, to at once perceive that sapidity can be dissociated from body. Here again, then, the dynamical attributes stand apart from the statico-dynamical and statical ones; for none of those modifications of resistance constituting the one class, nor those tangibly perceived modes of extension constituting the other (visible extension being but symbolical of tangible extension), can be recognized apart from the objects to which they belong.
Note again that these dynamical or secondary attributes are incidental—that not only do different bodies exhibit them in all degrees and combinations, but that each body exhibits them more or less, or not at all, according as surrounding conditions determine. In the dark all things are colourless: in the light their appearances vary as the light varies in kind and degree. The colour of a dove's neck changes with the position of the observer's eye: that of some crystals and fluids is reversed when the light is transmitted instead of reflected. Under ordinary circumstances most objects are silent: those that emit sound do so only under special influences: and the sound that any one of them emits is in great measure determined by the nature or intensity of the influences. A great number of bodies are inodorous; and of the rest, the majority cannot be perceived to have any smell, unless held quite close to the nostrils. Things that are almost scentless at low temperatures will become strongly scented at high ones; and things that have strong scents become for a time relatively scentless if continuously smelt at. Very many bodies have no taste whatever; and the sapid qualities of others vary according as they are hot or cold. The temperatures of things may be such as to give us sensations of greater or less heat; or such as to give us no appreciable sensations at all; or such as to give us sensations of greater or less cold: and things of the same temperature produce different impressions upon us according as they are good or bad conductors, and according as our temperature is high or low. Thus the incidental character of these attributes is manifest. To a person specially circumstanced, an object may be at once colourless, soundless, scentless, tasteless, and of such temperature as to produce no thermal effect upon him; or the object and the circumstances may be such that he shall be affected by one, or two, or three, or four, or all of these dynamic attributes in endless degrees and combinations. But it is otherwise with the statico-dynamical and statical attributes. For while different bodies present different amounts of resistance and extension; and while in the same body the resistance and extension admit of more or less variation; there is no body without resistance and extension.
Lastly, let it be noticed that these so-called secondary attributes of body, which we find distinguishable from the rest as being dynamical; as acting through space; as cognizable apart from body; and as manifested by body only incidentally; are not, in any strict sense, attributes of body at all. It is not simply that being dissociable from body, body can readily enough be conceived without them; nor is it that what we call colour, sound, and the rest are subjective effects produced by unknown powers in the objects; but it is that these unknown powers are literally not in the objects at all. Rightly understood the so-called secondary attributes are every one of them manifestations of certain forces which pervade the universe in general; and which, when they act upon bodies, call forth from them certain reactions. On being struck, a gong vibrates; and by communicating its vibrations to the air, or any intermediate substance, affects an auditor with a sensation of sound. What now is the active cause of that sensation. It is not the gong: it is the force which, being impressed upon the gong, is changed by its reaction into another shape. Let the sun shine upon any mass of matter, and some of his rays will be absorbed while some are reflected. In most cases the light being decomposed, will, in its changed form, affect us as colour; and by special masses of matter it will be refracted or polarized. That is, a certain force emanating from the sun, impresses itself upon matter, and is, by the counter-action of matter, more or less metamorphosed. The heat given off by burning coal, by boiling water, and by a briskly hammered piece of iron, are so many reactions produced by external actions: in the first case by the chemical action of the surrounding oxygen; in the second by the action of neighbouring hot bodies; in the third by mechanical pressure. The slightly smelling substances around us, in common with the fluid extracts of the perfumer, are forced to send off their molecules by the heat which they receive from neighbouring objects. The atomic repulsion from which odoriferousness results, is one of the reactions consequent on the action of thermal force—is known to vary more or less as the thermal force varies; and could thermal force be altogether withdrawn, odours would cease. Throughout, therefore, these attributes are, it considered in their origin, activities pervading space; and can be ascribed to body only in the sense that body when exposed to them, reacts upon them, modifies them, and by implication is known to us through these modifications. Properly understood, any one of these simple sensations of colour, sound, scent, and the rest, involves a series of actions and reactions of which the object proximately producing it, manifests but the last. The light, or mechanical force, or heat serving as its efficient cause, itself resulted from previous actions and reactions, which, if traced, lead us back into an indefinite past filled with like changes. But confining our attention to the elements with which we have immediately to deal, we see that rightly to understand one of these dynamic attributes, implies the contemplation of three things: first, a force, either diffused as light and heat, or concentrated as momentum; second, an object on which some of that force is impressed, and which, in so far as it is a recipient of force, is passive, but in so far as it reacts and determines that force into new forms and directions, is active; and third, a subject on whom some of the transformed force expends itself in producing what we term a sensation, and who, as the recipient of this transformed force, is passive, but who may be rendered active by it.
Strictly speaking, then, the so-called secondary attributes are neither objective nor subjective; but are the triple products of the subject, the object, and the environing activities. Sound, colour, heat, odour, and taste, can be called attributes of body, only in the sense that they imply in body certain powers of reaction which appropriate external actions call forth. These, however, are neither the attributes made known to us as sensations, nor those vibrations, or undulations, or atomic repulsions in which, as objectively considered, these attributes are commonly said to consist; but they are the occult properties in virtue of which, body modifies the forces brought to bear upon it. Nevertheless, it remains true that these attributes, as manifested to us, are dynamical. And, in so far as the immediate relation is concerned, it remains true that, in respect of these attributes, the object is active, and the subject is passive.
§ 51. Having thus gained a precise conception of these so-called secondary attributes, which we find to be dynamical; to act through space; to be separable from body; to be really environing activities modified by the reactions of body; and to be severally contingent both upon the special constitution of the body and its special circumstance; let us now proceed to define the perception which we have of a body presenting these non-necessary attributes, in conjunction with the necessary attributes: that is—a body as ordinarily perceived.
On taking up and contemplating an apple, there arises in consciousness, partly by presentation through the senses, and partly by representation through the memory, what seems to be one state; but what analysis proves to be an extremely complex group of many states, combined after a special manner. The greater number of these remain to be considered analytically in subsequent chapters; and can here be simply enumerated. Among them we have primarily, the coexistence in time of the contemplating subject and the contemplated object; we have further that relative position of the two in space which we call proximity; that group of impressions on the finger-ends, in virtue of which we conceive the object as not only having a position in space, but as occupying space, and a certain limited amount of space; that more complex group of tactile and motor impressions gained by moving the fingers about it, and constituting our notion of its tangible form; that supplementary group of impressions by which we recognize its surface as smooth; and that yet other group by which we form an idea of its hardness. Passing from these fundamental data acquired through the tactile and muscular senses, to those serving as symbols of them, we have to note the impressions through which the apple's coexistence in time and adjacency in space, are visually as well as tactually known; those which go to make up our conception of its visible bulk and figure; and those which indicate to us a correspondence between the data received through the eyes and those received through the fingers. But now, along with these statical and statico-dynamical attributes, primarily known through variously modified and combined sensations of resistance and motion, and some of them re-known through certain combined ocular sensations of light, shade, and focal adjustment, we find certain other attributes standing in various orders of relation. Indissolubly joined with the visible attributes of position, size, and form, is that of colour (including in the word all possible modifications of light), recognized as coexistent in time and coincident in space with those statical attributes visually perceived by means of it. This relation admits of some variation however. For though, when our consciousness of colour entirely ceases, our consciousness of visible form, size, and place, ceases with it; yet by alterations in the amount and quality of the light, our impression of colour may be changed in various ways and degrees, and made almost to disappear, without any change being produced in our impressions of form, size, and place. The relation, though generically absolute, is specifically conditional. Observe now, however, that the relation of coincidence in time and space between the several impressions we have of the visible attributes, and those we have of the tangible ones, is entirely conditional. It depends on the presence of light; on the opening of the eyes; and on the object being within the field of view. Unless each of these three conditions is fulfilled, no relation of coincidence in time and space between these two sets of attributes, can be established. Similarly with the odour. This, being but weak, cannot be known as accompanying the other attributes, unless the apple be placed close to the nostrils and air be drawn in. The presence of a certain taste is in like manner unknowable, save through actions similarly special. Thus, the common characteristic of the dynamical attributes, as perceived to coexist with the statico-dynamical and statical ones, is, the extreme conditionality of their coexistence, in so far as our consciousness is concerned. Though our perceptions of the softness, roughness, flexibility, &c. of any body examined by the fingers, are conditional, both upon the nature of the body and upon our performance of certain manipulations; yet the general perception of resistance is wholly unconditional. Though our perceptions of the specific extension of the body—its size and shape—are similarly conditional upon its character and upon our acts; yet the general perception of extension is wholly unconditional. Some resistance and some extension are the invariable and necessary elements of the cognition. Be the body what it may, and be the part of our surface which it touches what it may, if it is perceived at all, it is perceived as something resisting and extended. But the perception of the dynamical attributes as coexistent with the rest, is conditional, not only upon the nature of the object and upon our acts, but also upon the exposure of the object to certain agencies pervading the environment.
Hence then, leaving out details, any total perception in which the three orders of attributes are jointly known, is a composite state of consciousness in which, along with certain general impressions of resistance and extension, unconditionally standing to each other and the subject in relations of coexistence in time and adjacency in space; and along with certain specialized impressions of resistance and specialized impressions of extension, conditionally standing to each other and the subject in similar space-relations, and slightly modified time-relations; there are presented certain further impressions, standing in a doubly conditional manner to the previous ones, to the subject, and to each other, in space and time relations still further modified. This definition must not, however, be taken as anything like an accurate or exhaustive one: for nothing is said of all the inferred facts inextricably bound up with the perceived ones; nothing of those many minor conditions and accompaniments, to describe which completely would take pages. It is intended simply to exhibit, in as precise a way as the present stage of the analysis admits, the general mode in which our cognitions of the several orders of attributes are united in ordinary perception—simply to display the relationship in which, as known to us, the dynamical attributes of body stand to its other attributes: so that having duly contemplated the connection, we may go on to analyze the perception of the statico-dynamical and statical attributes by themselves.
§ 52. The mental operation, however, by which one of these perceptions is effected, still remains to be described. So far, we have considered only the several elements which compose the perception; and there has yet to be considered the process by which they are co-ordinated. This is what may be termed a process of organic classification.
As explained in preceding chapters, the “assertory judgment” involved in every perception of an object, is an act of either classification or recognition. The perception, according as it is more or less specific, involves the thought,—“This is a dog;” or, “This is something alive;” or, “This is a solid body.” It is not requisite that the assertory judgment should be verbally expressed, either outwardly or inwardly; but that the perceived object must be more or less consciously referred to its class, is manifest from the fact, that when, after some ordinary thing has been put under his eyes, a person cannot subsequently tell what it was, we say that he did not perceive it. Though he received all the needful impressions, he did not so attend to them as to become conscious of what they imported. Had he done so, his subsequent ability to name the thing would imply that, verbally or not verbally, he had recognized its nature; that is, its class. Now this semi-conscious classification which every complete perception of an object involves, is necessarily preceded by a still less conscious classification of its constituent attributes, of the relations in which they stand to each other, and of the conditions under which such attributes and relations become known. At first sight, this will appear to be an incredible proposition—incredible both as asserting what self-analysis gives no evidence of, and as implying a mental activity inconceivably rapid. Nevertheless, inquiry will show both that, à priori, the perception of an object is not otherwise possible, and that direct experience, not less than analogy, implies that some such spontaneous assimilation takes place.
Observe first the necessities of the case. If, instead of that which I perceive to be an apple, there had been presented something having like form and colours, but measuring a yard in diameter; I should not have concluded it to be an apple. Or if, while the bulk and colours were as usual, the form were cubical or pyramidal; I should certainly have regarded it as something else than an apple. And similarly, if, though like in other respects, it were sky-blue; or covered with spines; or as heavy as lead. What now is implied by these facts? Clearly it is implied that before the object is recognized as an apple, each of the chief constituent attributes is recognized as like the homologous attributes in other apples. The bulk is perceived to be like the bulk of apples in general; the form like their forms; the colour like their colours; the surface like their surfaces; and so on: that is, each of the several elements constituting the total perception, is classed with the before-known like elements; just as the entire group of elements is afterwards classed with the before-known like groups. Moreover, there is a classing not only of the constituent attributes, but of their relations. If the apple be one marked with streaks of red; then it is requisite that these should run in certain directions. Were they to run equatorially, it would be at once decided that the object was not an apple; as also, if the stem and the remnant of the calyx did not stand towards each other, and towards the rest of the mass, in specific positions. That is, the relations of coexistence, and proximity, and arrangement, subsisting among the constituent attributes, must also be recognized as like certain before-known relations—must be classed with them. And yet further, not only must the attributes and relations be thus classed, but also the conditions under which they become known. The colours and visible form of an apple being perceivable only during the presence of light, it results that a cognition of its presence, regarded as a condition like the before-known conditions, becomes an indirect component of the perception: to prove which, it needs but remember that the form and colours of an apple, if seen in the dark, would be regarded not as an apple, but as an optical illusion. Its weight, again, is perceived as coexistent with its tangible properties; but only when it is lifted: and no sensation of weight, save one obtained under this condition, like certain remembered conditions, could be ascribed to the apple, or become an element in the perception of it. Thus then, there is a classing of the several attributes, with the like foreknown attributes; of the relations subsisting among them, with like foreknown relations; and of the conditions under which they are perceived, with like foreknown conditions. And the classification of the object as an apple is the cumulative result of these constituent classifications.
“But how,” it will be asked, “is it possible that such a complicated group of mental acts should be performed so rapidly as to leave no trace in our consciousness?” I have already, by using the phrase “organic classification,” indicated what I conceive to be the solution of this difficulty; and it needs but to glance at the phases through which our acts of classing pass from the conscious to the unconscious, to see that the facts point to this solution. Let any one walking through the Zoological Gardens, meet with an animal he has not before seen, but knows only by description. By what process does he endeavour to determine its kind? He considers its separate characteristics—thinks successively of its size, its general shape, its head, its feet, its tail, its hair, its colour, its walk and actions—classes these respectively as large, as broad, as pointed, and so forth—does, in a less definite way, what a zoologist in a parallel case does systematically; and if he succeeds in classing the creature, does so by thus thinking of the likeness of its constituent parts to those of creatures he has heard of, read of, or seen drawings of. Let him now pass on to some before seen, but not familiar creature, as the hippopotamus. His first sight of it is accompanied by a distinct act of classing; and by a repetition of the name, either aloud or to himself. Let him walk by those cages whose inmates he has often seen, as the lions, and the act of classing will obtrude upon his consciousness much less distinctly. Let him leave the gardens, and though, on passing the horses standing at the gates, he will be conscious that they are horses, he will not specifically identify them as such in any deliberate act of thought. And when he reaches the crowded thoroughfares, though each of the hundred individuals passing him every minute is distinguished as man, woman, boy, or girl, or is classed, the mental act is yet performed so rapidly, so automatically, as scarcely to interrupt the current of his thoughts. Now this ever-increasing facility and quickness in classing complex groups of attributes, implies an ever-increasing facility and quickness in that classing of the attributes themselves, their relations and conditions, which begins with the first days of infancy. Forms, sizes, distances, colours, weights, smells, and the rest, though once consciously classed, gradually during childhood come to be classed less and less consciously; and this classification beginning as it does earlier than any other, being most frequently repeated, and in its nature much simpler, necessarily grows more rapid, more automatic, more organic than any other; and eventually becomes imperceptible to consciousness.
But this view of the matter will be most clearly realized, when each remembers that he has, within his own experience, a case in which the entire progress from conscious to unconscious classification is traceable. When learning to read, the child has to class each individual letter by a distinct mental act. This symbol A, has to be thought of as like certain others before seen; and as standing for a sound like certain sounds before heard. By continued practice these processes become more and more abbreviated and unconscious. Presently the power is reached of classing by one act a whole group of such symbols—a word; and eventually an entire cluster of such words is taken in at a glance. Now, were it not that these steps can be recalled, it would seem absurd to say that when the reader, by what appears almost a single cognition, takes in the sentence—“This is true,” that he not only classifies each word with the before-known like words, but each letter with the before-known like letters. Yet, as it is, he will see this to be an unavoidable inference. For, as it is undeniable that such acts of classing were performed at first; and as no time can be named at which such acts were given up; it follows that the entire change has arisen from their immensely increased rapidity—from their having become automatic or organic. And if this result has taken place with acts of classing that were commenced so late as five or six years old, still more must it have taken place with those much simpler ones which were commenced at birth.
Hence, therefore, the foregoing definition of the perception of body as presenting the three orders of attributes, requires to be supplemented by the explanation, that the several attributes, the relations in which they stand to each other and the subject, and the conditions under which only such attributes and relations can be perceived, have to be thought of as like before-known attributes, before-known relations, and before-known conditions.
[∗]The divisions thus designated, answer to those which Sir William Hamilton, in his valuable dissertation, classes as Secondary, Secundo-primary, and Primary. Whilst coinciding in the general distinctions drawn in that dissertation, I do so on other grounds than those assigned; and adopt another nomenclature for several reasons: partly because the names Primary, Secundo-primary, and Secondary, implying, as they in some degree do, a serial genesis in time, do not, as it seems to me, correspond with the true order of that genesis, subjectively considered, whilst, objectively considered, we cannot assign priority to any; partly because, as used by Sir William Hamilton, these terms have direct reference to the Kantian doctrine of Space and Time, from which I dissent; and partly because the terms above proposed are descriptive of the real distinctions between these three orders of attributes.