Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIX.: THE RELATIONS OF COINTENSION AND NON-COINTENSION. - The Principles of Psychology
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CHAPTER XIX.: THE RELATIONS OF COINTENSION AND NON-COINTENSION. - Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Psychology 
The Principles of Psychology (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1855).
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THE RELATIONS OF COINTENSION AND NON-COINTENSION.
§ 85. Keeping to the subjective point of view, and regarding every relation as some state of consciousness holding together other states of consciousness; it is first to be remarked that relations of cointension are of two kinds, according as the states of consciousness between which they subsist are primary or secondary—are simple states, or the relations among simple states. Of these, the kind exemplified in the last chapter, and the kind which we must here first deal with, is that subsisting between states of consciousness which are themselves relations.
Every relation between states of consciousness of necessity implies a change in consciousness. That there may be a relation, there must be two states between which it subsists; and before there can be two states there must be some change of state. On the one hand, there can be no change in the state of consciousness without there resulting two states standing in some relation; and on the other hand, there can be no relation until consciousness undergoes some change of state. These are two sides of the same necessary truth.
Now changes in consciousness differ widely in kind. The mental transition from a flash to an explosion, is totally unlike that from a touch to a burn. Between an impression produced by the colour of a rose and one produced by its odour, there is a contrast wholly different from the contrast between the impressions of hardness and transparency which a crystal gives. Differences of kind among the changes in the states of consciousness—even the undecomposable states—have indeed two orders: each of them extensive. There are the changes experienced when, from a sensation of one class, we pass to a sensation of a totally unrelated class—changes that are various in kind; and there are the changes experienced when, from a sensation of one class, we pass to a sensation of the same class but of another species—changes that are also various in kind; though less widely unlike than the others. To speak more specifically:—We have on the one hand, such extremely different changes as those experienced on passing from a colour to touch, from a taste to a sound, from a burn to a smell, from a sense of pressure to one of cold, from a feeling of roughness to one of dazzling, &c., &c.: and on the other hand, we have the less different changes experienced on passing from one colour to another—as red to green, yellow to blue, pink to grey; or on passing from one taste to another—as bitter to sour, sour to sweet, sweet to bitter; or on passing from one sound to another, or one smell to another. Add to which, that when the transitions, instead of being from sensation to sensation, are from precept to precept, or from concept to concept, there arise other orders of changes still more varied in their kinds.
Not only, however, do changes in consciousness differ widely in kind, but they differ widely in degree. The differences in degree are divisible into two classes—those which subsist when the successive states of consciousness are unlike in nature; and those which subsist when the states of consciousness are like in nature. Thus, when some loose gunpowder is exploded, the transition from the impression of light to that of a faint sound, is not the same as the transition from the impression of light to that of a loud sound, which results when the powder is fired out of a pistol. Nor is the transition from the sensation of touch to that of temperature the same when grasping wood as when grasping iron. And evidently throughout all the various orders of changes above indicated, the like contrasts subsist. Equally multiplied and familiar are those other contrasts, subsisting between changes in consciousness that do not alter the nature of its state, but only the intensity. Thus when, of two doors intervening between his ear and some continuous sound, one is suddenly opened, the change in a listener's consciousness is not so great as when both doors are suddenly opened. Nor, when contemplating in succession two allied shades of bright purple placed side by side, is the change in consciousness so great as on transferring the gaze from either of them to an adjacent shade of lilac. Those changes in consciousness which do not affect the nature of its state, are much more measurable than the others. Two changes of intensity in the same kind of feeling, may be known as like or unlike in degree, far more completely than two changes from one kind of feeling to another. And, indeed, it is doubtful whether these last can be considered measurable at all—whether the change from a light to a sound, being, as it were, total, must not be held as the same in degree with all other changes from light to sound; however much the relative amounts of light or sound may vary. But be this as it may, it is clear that in such cases all minor differences must be dwarfed by the greatness of the contrast; and that consequently no accurate discrimination between the changes can be made.
Now changes in consciousness, which we thus find to be various not only in kind but in degree, are themselves cognizable as states of consciousness: not indeed as simple states; but as states in which the transition between two states is the thing contemplated. That the change, the link uniting the two states, is nothing separate from, and nothing additional to, the states themselves, seems manifest. That consequently, it cannot be thought of without thinking of the states themselves, seems also manifest. And that to be conscious of it, is simply to be conscious of the two states in succession, seems equally manifest. But at the same time it is unquestionable that we have the power of thinking of the change itself, as something more than the two states individually considered. Possibly there may be a physiological reason for this. Certain facts point to the conclusion that the change itself constitutes a fleeting state of feeling, separate from the less fleeting states which it links together. Every one knows that a violent change in the sensations is accompanied by a species of shock. Even though expecting it, a bright flash of light will cause the eyes to wink; and yet light of the same brilliancy, if continuous, can be steadily looked at without difficulty. The sudden application of cold water to the skin produces a start, notwithstanding a previous determination to bear it unmoved; and yet the sensation of cold, when once established, can be borne with equanimity. Nay, extremely marked transitions among the ideas will occasionally produce an analogous effect. Probably many can call to mind cases in which, from the sudden remembrance that something important had been forgotten, or from the reception of unexpected good news, a sensible shock was experienced. And indeed the serious injuries sometimes resulting from violent changes of mental state, sufficiently imply that such changes must be accompanied by a decided feeling. Whence it may be inferred, that as the violence of changes in the state of consciousness is altogether a thing of degree, all such changes are accompanied by some feeling however slight.
But whether a change in consciousness be or be not knowable as something more than the juxtaposition of a preceding and a succeeding state, it is undeniable that we can so think of changes in consciousness as to distinguish their various kinds and degrees. In whatever way I cognize the transition from a sensation of touch to one of sound, it is beyond question that I can think of it as unlike in kind to the transition from a sensation of touch to one of cold. Whether, in thinking of a change, I think of the two successive states, or of the contrast between them, it remains alike true, that in passing from an impression of the brightest green to one of bright green, and from one of bright green to one of pale green, I am conscious of two changes which are the same in kind but different in degree. And to say that I am conscious of these changes as such or such, is to say that they are states of my consciousness.
Thus then, having the ability to think, not only of the original simple states of consciousness, but also of the changes among them—being conscious, of differences in kind and degree, not only between successive sensations, but also between successive changes in sensations—it results that these changes are classifiable as the original sensations are. As two sensations can be known as like or unlike in kind; so can two changes among them be known as like or unlike in kind: and as two sensations that are like in kind can be known as like or unlike in intensity; so can two changes among them that are like in kind, be known as like or unlike in intensity. We can recognize changes as connatural; or the reverse: and connatural changes we can recognize as cointense; or the reverse.
But, as above pointed out, these that we have been treating of as changes in consciousness, are nothing else than what we call relations. There can be no phenomena of consciousness beyond its successive states, and the modes of succession of its states—the states themselves, and the changes from one state to another. And seeing that what we are conscious of as relations, are not the primitive states themselves, they can be nothing else than the changes from state to state. The two answer in all respects. We can think neither of a change nor of a relation, without thinking of the two terms forming its antecedent and consequent. As we cannot think a relation without a change in consciousness from one of its terms to the other; so we cannot think a change without establishing a relation between a preceding phenomenon and a succeeding one. Though some of them are eventually so transformed as to appear of another nature, yet, primarily, all that we class as different orders of relations, are nothing but different kinds and complications of changes among the states of consciousness.
In subsequent chapters sundry developments of this doctrine will be found. Here, we have merely to observe its bearing on the inquiry before us. Relations, subjectively considered, being nothing but changes in the state of consciousness, it follows that the cointension of relations is the cointension of such changes; or in other words—likeness in degree between changes like in kind.
§ 86. After what has been said, not much need be added respecting the simpler species of the relation of cointension: that, namely, of which the terms are not relations among states of consciousness, but the primary states of consciousness themselves. This is of course definable as—likeness in degree between sensations like in kind.
Nor, respecting the relation of non-cointension is it requisite to say more than that it is unlikeness in degree between either changes like in kind or sensations like in kind.
The only further remark that may here fitly be made, is one concerning the use of the words cointension and non-cointension to denote these orders of relationship. All our ideas of intensity, when traced to their origin, manifestly refer to the degrees of our sensations. Intensity is a word that connotes some species of force—a force that is violent, vehement, severe, keen, ardent; and all our ideas of force ultimately refer to sensations. We speak of intense heat and cold, intense pressure, intense pleasure and pain, intense passion, intense bitterness and sourness, intense irritation, restlessness, itching: in all of which cases we speak of feelings in respect to their degree. Hence then, in comparing simple states of consciousness that are alike in kind, we observe their relative intensities. If their intensities are equal, they must be called cointense: and the equality of their intensities is cointension. Add to which, that as the changes in consciousness are also different in respect of their violence, and are seemingly accompanied by some species of sensation, they also are comparable in respect to their intensity: whence it follows that cointension is predicable of such changes, that is relations, when they are alike in kind and degree.