The Addenda Of Psychology -- By: John Bascom

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 061:242 (Apr 1904)
Article: The Addenda Of Psychology
Author: John Bascom


The Addenda Of Psychology

John Bascom

Phenomena are our first terms of knowledge and must always remain its permanent center. The explanations’ we bring to these phenomena cannot be allowed to blur the phenomena themselves, or carry them off from their own basis. The facts of perception and the facts of consciousness, with which our thoughts are occupied, must, amid all theories, be allowed to retain their own independent revelation. This is essential to the coherence and accumulation of knowledge. In bold and speculative action we are liable to overlook this dependence, and the very data of thought are surrounded by an obscure halo of words, by images that lack firmness of definition, by alleged facts which are themselves without proof.

Empiricism is ready to carry over mental phenomena into the physical world, and, having given less than due weight to the facts of mind, to give more than due weight to the physical facts associated with them. Having missed the mind where the mind is most active, we rediscover it in remote and obscure places. We displace direct perceptions by ill-established implications. Thus consciousness, the exclusive form element in mental activity, is allowed to wander from its own

field, and to unite itself in an unintelligible way with physical processes. Whatever explanation is secured by the substitution of one kind of phenomena for another, by mingling phenomena in a way not justified by experience, serves only to confound the primitive data of knowledge. Monism and idealism and empiricism fall constantly into this error. They are not true to the problem they attempt to explain. They add and subtract in a way to suit their immediate purpose. Numerous and bright colors that lie distinct on the palette are rubbed together, and then the painting is rendered in grays and browns, as holding the constituents of the entire spectrum. The colors with which we started cannot be regained till our explanatory work is undone, and we stand again with the clear definition in perception of simple shades. Mind and matter explain each other by both being present. Our theories fail to satisfy the problem because they do not accept the problem as they find it, but put in its place confused terms which admit of an inadequate rendering. We need constantly to go back to our first forms of knowledge, to have our task reassigned us, and to see how far we have prospered in its accomplishment.

Mental phenomena, approached exclusively through consciousness, and the physical facts of the brain, subject to perceptive inquiry alone, together constitute the terms of intellectual life. Their interdependence is of a very subtile, obscure, and extended character, quite beyond any ad...

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