« AnteriorContinuar »
despite the fact, that in his main illustration Prof. Edinger falls into one of the glaring fallacies into which this sort of analogy between body and mind may lead. He says there are certain creatures (fishes) which have no hemispheres, and it follows that, on the psychological side, we must deny to these creatures “all that the hemispheres are necessary for in the higher creatures.” This overlooks the great principle that, in the lower forms, less differentiated structures may do what more differentiated ones do in the higher forms. To press this point consistently, he would seem to have to deny consciousness altogether to these fishes. The lesson of this paper, however, is a most timely one; psychologists, especially in Germany, are not half awake to the genetic problem, and when they do awake, no doubt it is true that the richest lessons that the physiology of the nervous system will have to teach them will be derived from such comparative study as Prof. Edinger advises.
Several papers of general interest were read in the open meetings. The President's address was rather more severe and wissenschaftlich than the earlier addresses of the presiding officers have been, but it was an exceedingly interesting and discriminating review of theories on the connection of mind and body. The arraignment of Parallelism was very effective-possibly more so than the positive doctrine of the paper. Prof. Ebbinghaus of Breslau gave a new way of testing the mental condition of school children at different periods and in different conditions of fatigue, etc. It differs from the methods already in vogue in that it endeavors to test the child's correlating or apperceptive faculty rather than his sense perceptions or his memory. The method, which teachers will find extremely interesting, consists in taking a passage from some interesting narrative-text, and, after striking out various words and phrases and printing the passage with black spaces where these erasures have been made, telling the child to fill in the spaces as he thinks the sense requires. This requirement certainly calls upon the child for more than memory, and the results of its application, as reported by Prof. Ebbinghaus, seem to show its superiority; but it would appear to be applicable to children of a more advanced age, after the memory tests are outgrown. This general judgment, however, I must make with reservation, since the synopsis of the paper did not reach my hands. This may suffice to indicate the scope of the method, and to call the attention of our educational authorities to it. They will also be interested in Prof. Ebbinghaus's severe criticism of what he called the “American method” of testing the mental condition of school children by the memory tests.
The fact that the papers on “Hypnotism ” were fewer than in earlier congresses, in proportion to the entire number, and that there were a bare half-dozen on thought-transference and telepathy, shows the general tendency of psychology. The hypnotic period is past, even in France. Not that the gain from the study of hypnotism has not been permanent and great; on the contrary, its results are only now getting so absorbed into the body of psychological truth that it no longer makes sensational appeals for a bearing. As to telepathy, I think there is a real decay of interest in the subject, much as this is to be deplored. The most interesting paper in the hypnotic field was a general one by Prof. Pierre Janet.
The section on the Senses and Psychophysics did much exact work. Dr. Stratton of the University of California communicated some valuable experiments of bis own on the artificial reinverting of the retinal image and its effects on the sense of bodily position in space, which will be of especial interest to those who think the normal inversion of the image requires a theory.
Two other general questions of great interest were discussed, with as much ability as vehemence, by the Vice-President of the Congress, Prof. Lipps, of Munich. One of his papers was a very important contribution in the sadly neglected field of the æsthetics of visual form. I can do no more than recommend his paper in the Congress “Proceedings" (to appear very soon) to those who are concerned with elementary æsthetic principles. The other topic was the much-discussed one on the “Unconscious" in psychology. The question, Can mental states be unconscious ? has a peculiar fascination, because of the great number of verbal distinctions of which it admits. It must be confessed that Prof. Lipps's paper did not make the number of these verbal distinctions less. He reaches a sort of return to the soul-substance theory-a hidden thing in which mental states, and especially tendencies of an active kind, may be preserved when we are not conscious of them. This has long ago been refuted as a general conception, I think; but the main point of interest, and that for which I bring the matter up, is that the results of pathology, dual consciousness, "multiple personality,” etc., which are considered by many as giving the strongest evidence for the "unconscious,” require quite a different theory. The "unconscious "of the pathologists is a body of conscious data gathered into a new and secondary consciousness of its own. While these states of mind are not conscious to the major person—and so, by a certain license, are called“ unconscious”-still it is just the evidence that they are conscious in their own way and in their own seat in the vervous system that enables us to say that they are mental. So all this evidence goes, after all, to show a correspondence between the mental and the conscious. This Prof. Lipps does not seem to see, and his treatment of the question from a purely verbal and analytic point of view was consequently very inadequate.
In the higher fields of ethics and anthropology there were interesting papers, of which my space allows the mention of only one on “ Ethical Values,” by Prof. Ehrenfels (just called from Vienna to Prague), and one on the “Category of Individuality in Savage Thought," by Mr. Stout, the editor of Mind. Mr. Stout, I may add, has just been called to a lectureship in comparative psychology in the University of Aberdeen-a novelty for the British Isles, but appropriate in the institution which Prof. Bain has made famous in connection with psychological study. The next Congress is to meet in Paris in 1900 in connection with the Universal Exposition. Prof. Ribot will be President; M. Ch. Richet, Vice-President, and M. Pierre Janet, Secretary. The International Committee for the Paris meeting has the following American representatives: Profs. James (Harvard), Titchener (Cornell), Hall (Clark), and Baldwin (Princeton).
I cannot close this letter without referring—with profound regret, which many other American students of philosophy must also feel--to the death Prof. Avenarius, of Zurich, on August 18. Where I now write, the feeling that one of the greatest philosophical thinkers of Europe no longer adorns a Swiss university is very acute; and those who know the work of Prof. Avenarius must feel it also, regardless of the place of their habitation.-J. MARK BALDWIN, in New York Evening Post, Sept. 12.
Mental Action During Sleep, or Sub-Conscious Reasoning.-Shortly after reading the interesting article by Professor Cope with regard to recent ethnological discoveries in Assyria, undertaken under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, and elucidated by Professor Hilprecht, I met with the account of a peculiarly curious dream which had been experienced by Professor Hilprecht whilst his mind was deeply occupied with these very investigations.
It is of course well known to all students of mental psychology, that the most complicated, abstruse forms of reasoning have often been carried out in dreams; and many interesting and well authenticated cases of this phenomenon will be found in Dr. Carpenter's Mental Physiology. But the peculiarity of Dr. Hilprecht's dream consists in the intensely dramatic manner in which the solution of the problem he was engaged on was conveyed to his mind. I will now simply quote from the account given to Prof. William Romaine Newbold, by Professor Hilprecht, in the first place of a train of sub-conscious reasoning during sleep which put him on the track of a satisfactory rendering of an Assyrian proper name; and in the second place of the work carried out under the influence of a strangely dramatic dream."
2 Chap. XIII, Unconscious Cerebration. Mental Physiology. W. R. Carpenter, M. D. Chap. XV, Of Sleep, Dreaming and Sonnambulism, pp. 534, 593-5.
“During the winter 1882–3, Professor Hilprecht was working with Professor Friedrich Delitzsch, and was preparing to publish as his dissertation, a text, transliteration and translation of a stone of Nebuchadnezzar I, with notes. He accepted at that time the explanation given by Professor Delitzsch of the name Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Nabû. kudurru-usur,' `Nebo protect my mason's pad' or mortar board,' i. l., 'my work as a builder.' One night, after working late, he went to bed about two o'clock in the morning. After a somewhat restless sleep, he awoke with his mind full of the thought that the name should be translated Nebo protect my boundary.' He had a dim consciousness of having been working at his table in a dream, but could never recall the details of the process by which he arrived at this conclusion. Reflecting upon it when awake, however, he at once saw that kudurru, 'boundary,' could be derived from the verb kadaru, to enclose. Shortly afterwards he published this translation in his dissertation, and it has since been universally adopted."
Mr. Newbold then gives a translation from the account written in German by Prof. Hilprecht of his remarkable dream.
“One Saturday evening, about the middle of March, 1893, I had been wearying myself, as I had done so often in the weeks preceding, in the vain attempt to decipher two small fragments of agate which were supposed to belong to the finger rings of some Babylonian. The labor was much increased by the fact that the fragments presented remnants only of characters and lines, that dozens of similar small fragments had been found in the temple of Bel, at Nippur, with which nothing could be done, that in this case furthermore I had never had the originals before me, but only a hasty sketch made by one of the members of the expedition sent by the University of Pennsylvania to Babylonia. I could not say more than that the fragments, taking into consideration the place where they were found and the peculiar characteristics of the cuneiform characters preserved upon them, sprang from the Cassite period of Babylonian history (ca. 1700–1140 B. C.); moreover, as the first character of the third line of the first fragment seemed to be KU, I
3 Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, for June, 1896, pp. 13-17.
ascribed this fragment, with an interrogation point, to King Kurigalzu, whilst I placed the other fragment as unclassifiable, with other Cassite fragments, upon a page of my book where I published the unclassifiable fragments. The proofs already lay before me, but I was far from satisfied. The whole problem passed again through my mind that March evening before I placed my mark of approval under the last correction in the book. About midnight, weary and exhausted, I went to bed, and was soon in deep sleep. Then I dreamed the following remarkable dream. A tall, thin priest of the old pre-Christian Nippur, about forty years of age, and clad in a simple abba, led me to the treasure chamber of the temple on its southeast side. He went with me into a small, lowceiled room without windows, in which there was a large wooden chest, while scraps of agate and lapis lazuli lay scattered on the floor. Here he addressed me as follows: The two fragments which you have published separately upon pages 22 and 26, belong together, are not finger rings, and their history is as follows: King Kurigalzu (ca. 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel, among other articles of agate and lapis lazuli, an inscribed votive cylinder of agate. Then we priests suddenly received the command to make for the statue of the god Ninib a pair of earrings of agate. We were in great dismay, as there was no agate as raw material at hand. In order to execute the command there was nothing for us to do but cut the votive cylinder into three parts, thus making three rings, each of which contained a proportion of the original inscription. The first two rings served as earrings for the statue of the god; the two fragments, which bave given you so much trouble, are portions of them. If you will put the two together you will have a confirmation of my words. But the third ring you have not yet found in the course of your excavations, and you never will find it.' With this the priest disappeared. I awoke at once, and immediately told my wife the dream, that I might not forget it. Next morning-Sunday—I examined the fragments once more in the light of these disclosures, and to my astonishment found all the details of the dream precisely verified in so far as the means of verification were in my hands. The original inscription on the votive cylinder read: To the god Ninib, son of Bel, his lord, has Kurigalzu, pontifex of Bel, presented this.'
“ The problem was thus at last solved. I stated in the preface that I had unfortunately discovered too late that the two fragments belonged together; made the corresponding changes in the ‘Table of Contents,' pp. 50 and 52; and it being not possible to transpose the fragments, as the plates were already made, I put in each plate a brief reference to the other. [Cf. Hilprecht, “The Babylonian Expedition of the Uni.