The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 14, 1940


Site Ed. Note:

Besides ways of being conscious there are other things that would ordinarily be called "mental," such as desire and pleasure and pain. These raise problems of their own, which we shall reach in Lecture III. But the hardest problems are those that arise concerning ways of being "conscious." These ways, taken together, are called the "cognitive" elements in mind, and it is these that will occupy us most during the following lectures.

There is one element which SEEMS obviously in common among the different ways of being conscious, and that is, that they are all directed to OBJECTS. We are conscious "of" something. The consciousness, it seems, is one thing, and that of which we are conscious is another thing. Unless we are to acquiesce in the view that we can never be conscious of anything outside our own minds, we must say that the object of consciousness need not be mental, though the consciousness must be. (I am speaking within the circle of conventional doctrines, not expressing my own beliefs.) This direction towards an object is commonly regarded as typical of every form of cognition, and sometimes of mental life altogether. We may distinguish two different tendencies in traditional psychology. There are those who take mental phenomena naively, just as they would physical phenomena. This school of psychologists tends not to emphasize the object. On the other hand, there are those whose primary interest is in the apparent fact that we have KNOWLEDGE, that there is a world surrounding us of which we are aware. These men are interested in the mind because of its relation to the world, because knowledge, if it is a fact, is a very mysterious one. Their interest in psychology is naturally centred in the relation of consciousness to its object, a problem which, properly, belongs rather to theory of knowledge. We may take as one of the best and most typical representatives of this school the Austrian psychologist Brentano, whose "Psychology from the Empirical Standpoint,"* though published in 1874, is still influential and was the starting-point of a great deal of interesting work. He says (p. 115):

"Every psychical phenomenon is characterized by what the scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (also the mental) inexistence of an object, and what we, although with not quite unambiguous expressions, would call relation to a content, direction towards an object (which is not here to be understood as a reality), or immanent objectivity. Each contains something in itself as an object, though not each in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgment something is acknowledged or rejected, in love something is loved, in hatred hated, in desire desired, and so on.

"This intentional inexistence is exclusively peculiar to psychical phenomena. No physical phenomenon shows anything similar. And so we can define psychical phenomena by saying that they are phenomena which intentionally contain an object in themselves."

The view here expressed, that relation to an object is an ultimate irreducible characteristic of mental phenomena, is one which I shall be concerned to combat. Like Brentano, I am interested in psychology, not so much for its own sake, as for the light that it may throw on the problem of knowledge. Until very lately I believed, as he did, that mental phenomena have essential reference to objects, except possibly in the case of pleasure and pain. Now I no longer believe this, even in the case of knowledge. I shall try to make my reasons for this rejection clear as we proceed. It must be evident at first glance that the analysis of knowledge is rendered more difficult by the rejection; but the apparent simplicity of Brentano's view of knowledge will be found, if I am not mistaken, incapable of maintaining itself either against an analytic scrutiny or against a host of facts in psycho-analysis and animal psychology. I do not wish to minimize the problems. I will merely observe, in mitigation of our prospective labours, that thinking, however it is to be analysed, is in itself a delightful occupation, and that there is no enemy to thinking so deadly as a false simplicity. Travelling, whether in the mental or the physical world, is a joy, and it is good to know that, in the mental world at least, there are vast countries still very imperfectly explored.

The view expressed by Brentano has been held very generally, and developed by many writers. Among these we may take as an example his Austrian successor Meinong.** According to him there are three elements involved in the thought of an object. These three he calls the act, the content and the object. The act is the same in any two cases of the same kind of consciousness; for instance, if I think of Smith or think of Brown, the act of thinking, in itself, is exactly similar on both occasions. But the content of my thought, the particular event that is happening in my mind, is different when I think of Smith and when I think of Brown. The content, Meinong argues, must not be confounded with the object, since the content must exist in my mind at the moment when I have the thought, whereas the object need not do so. The object may be something past or future; it may be physical, not mental; it may be something abstract, like equality for example; it may be something imaginary, like a golden mountain; or it may even be something self-contradictory, like a round square. But in all these cases, so he contends, the content exists when the thought exists, and is what distinguishes it, as an occurrence, from other thoughts.

*"Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte," vol. i, 1874. (The second volume was never published.)

**See, e.g. his article: "Ueber Gegenstande hoherer Ordnung und deren Verhaltniss zur inneren Wahrnehmung," "Zeitschrift fur Psychologie and Physiologie der Sinnesorgane," vol. xxi, pp. 182-272 (1899), especially pp. 185-8.

--from The Analysis of Mind, by Bertrand Russell, 1921

There. Chew on that a bit.

Incidentally, perhaps it was instead the little piece on the page this date re the rats making their nests of cash out of the register, to which Ellen Glasgow was referring in her February 22, 1941 letter to Cash re the supposed object within the pages of The Education of Henry Adams, wherein, according to Ms. Glasgow, it is recounted that John La Farge dreamed, after one of his arguments with Adams, that he heard the clatter of Adams's mind within his room, instead awakening to find only a rat... Or, perhaps, we should continue searching for whatever it was she meant by her cryptic comment, as we have never found its origin where she placed it, even through seven years of journeying since we first read her letter. Peradventure you will. Regardless, we perceive the truth of her object, should our perception be correct, thus forming the thought as a belief in our mind that her thought forming a belief in her mind was directed instead to the content encapsulated by the columnar space on today's page, in forming her allegorical criticism of Cash--assuming our perception correct that it was criticism, and not mere witticism the intricacies of which we have not yet formed the capacity to appreciate.


Memorial Hospital Campaign Is Lifted Bodily Over The Top

Thrilling news this, the success of the Memorial Hospital campaign for $215,000 to complete and equip the medical center and to give it a bank account on which to commence operation. Although contributions came from a limited number of people, this is going to be Everybody's Hospital. That is the gift of these generous donors to their community.

A few institutions and individuals deserve special appreciation for their part in the long and arduous task of creating a new hospital. The doctors, to be sure, for while this will be to them a highly useful facility, they put far more of money and energy into it than simple self-interest directed.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church and St. Peter's Hospital both deserve everlasting gratitude, not only for making the medical center possible, but for their readiness to subordinate sectarian interests to the public good. By their works...

Yet the doctors and the Episcopalians probably would be the first to concede that the success of the final campaign, so ably chairmanned by Dr. Medearis, was due to the extraordinary efforts, of Torrence Hemby. In addition to his exacting duties as president of the hospital association, he turned to and raised by his own efforts some $50,000 in subscriptions. By any method of apportioning credit for accomplishments, Memorial Hospital would stand as a memorial to the good services of Mr. Hemby.

At It Again

Bob Never Misses Chance To Play 127 Per Cent American

The University of California invited Bertrand Russell to accept its chair of philosophy. Dr. Russell agreed. But patrioteers in California immediately set up a yell that he was taking an American job from Americans, and that he ought at least to put in for American citizenship. Dr. Russell observed mildly that he preferred to remain an Englishman. Which prompted Robert Rice Reynolds to roar in the Senate:

"Well, what do you think about that? He eats our bread, draws our money, teaches our students, and says 'to hell with the United States (he said nothing of the kind, of course). I'm a subject of King George the VI and am going to remain so.' Some gall!"

There is no record that any American professor has complained that Dr. Russell is crowding him out of his bread. Most of them, being men of at least rudimentary education, know that it would be mere effrontery if they did. There are not more than a dozen men in the world capable of filling the shoes of the brilliant and learned author of "Principia Mathematica" and "The Analysis of Mind."

Moreover, American professors regularly fill British chairs without anybody ever dreaming of demanding that they swear allegiance to George the VI. But it is of course not remarkable to find Robert grabbing any excuse, however preposterous, to attempt to stir up the rabble with an imaginary Alien Menace.


We Busily Aid Our Foes While Denying Our Friends

We are, to say the least, very quaint people. Militantly we have refused and continue to refuse to allow the Allies even normal commercial credits in this country. And for years and years everybody in sight has bitterly denounced Soviet Russia for repudiating the war loans made to the czarist regime.

But now--the President gravely advises Russia not to swallow the morsels she already has in her jaws and to let Finland continue to be independent. And--Mr. Jesse Jones announces that we will go right ahead with a $20,000,000 loan to Finland!

What that means is about as certain as anything in this uncertain world can be. It means twenty million smackers handed over to Russia--or perchance to Nazi Germany. It is more than doubtful that Finland will continue as a nation even in name. In view of what is happening to the Poles, it may well be questioned if the Finns themselves can count on continuing to exist.

The very best the little country can hope for is to be allowed to exist as Moravia and Bohemia exist, as purely nominal "protectorates" of either Russia or the Nazis, according to what Adolf Hitler judges to be the most expedient at the moment.

"Fie, fie, upon you, Ursus, don't you know you shouldn't eat poor little creatures openly like that? Take it out in the backyard and eat it more decorously, and we'll give you a nice fat bone for a reward!"

States Rights

This Example Leaves Us A Little Unconvinced

Senator Josiah William Bailey's great concern for States Rights in his "stout defense" of his votes on the Hatch Act extension seems to us to have been a mite on the over-heroic side.

Technically, the proposal to make the provisions of the law apply to state employees who draw part of their pay from the Federal Government may be an encroachment on the state. And it certainly seems a little droll to think that it would be perfectly legal for, say, North Carolina's Revenue Department (the employees of which are paid entirely by the State) to form a "machine" and engage in politics, while the employees of the State Highway Department (partly paid by the Federal Government) were being carried off to the hoosegow for doing exactly the same thing.

Nevertheless, it is a a well-established principle that he who pays the piper is entitled to call the tune. And if the states insist on gouging the Federal Treasury, it is hard to deny the logic that the Federal Government has a right to some say-so as to how and to what purposes its money shall be spent.

But the most telling consideration against the Senator's defense is that, as everyone knows, the thing really at stake in this Hatch Act fight is simply the sacred right of state politicians to use patronage for the building up of a "machine" to benefit themselves. Or rather for state politicians with Federal jobs to use patronage for that purpose--for the proposed extension applies only to Federal elections.

Senator Bailey himself is precisely the North Carolina politician who would be most damaged by the passage of this bill. His great concern for States Rights would be a little more impressive if that were not so.


Stalin & Co. Do Their Bit Toward Perfect Peace

The Associated Press reporter at Moscow who turned in the story about Finland's surrender yesterday is plainly a sardonic fellow. Thus:

"The price paid by the Russians in three and a half months of fighting undoubtedly was a heavy one, but it was pointed out that the Soviet Union was a rich country, able and willing to pay well for its gains."

And again:

"The undeclared war's conclusion was looked upon at the Soviets seat of government as a splendid contribution to peace."

The price which she was able and willing to pay, of course, the riches she could so lavishly expend, were the lives of the 200,000 unhappy Russian peasants who lie under the snow of Finland waiting for the thaw and the rot of Spring. What they themselves thought of being the price for so rich a country does not appear. Shall we say that they were, of course, delighted to be the currency for the buying of "a splendid contribution to world peace?"

Make no doubt of it--it is that. The snows are very peaceful in Finland today, with the blood stains all gone. True, it is a splendid contribution also to hatred and burning zeal for revenge which will certainly not die for centuries to come. But that only goes to prove the point. If thousands of men have died, if many thousands and perhaps even millions must yet die, to expiate the crime consummated at Moscow yesterday, why, then, the fact remains: it is "a splendid contribution to world peace." For death, masters, is the one perfect form of peace.

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