The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation

The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation

The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation

The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation

Excerpt

This book presents a theory of the sensory qualities. The theory may be called, for brevity's sake, the doctrine of the "affective continuum." It was first conceived as an attempt to solve certain problems of a philosophical character. But it was natural that the treatment which the subject of sensation has received in experimental psychology should have come to occupy an ever larger place in the inquiry. In the end it is the topic of sensation as a whole and however approached with which I have sought to deal. Being a philosopher by training, I have not scrupled to give serious consideration to speculations which to a psychologist might seem of negligible value (e.g., in chaps. iii and vi); but, on the other hand, I have assembled a considerable quantity of experimental data (chaps. ii, iv, vii) which hitherto has lain scattered through the psychological literature, largely unknown to philosophers, and apparently not as yet correlated and seen as a whole even by psychologists. In short, I have sought evidence and suggestions bearing upon the question "What is sensation?" wherever such evidence or suggestions could conceivably be found.

It will be obvious that I have been much influenced by two philosopher-scientists who appear to have a good deal in common -- Charles S. Peirce and Professor A. N. Whitehead. In a general way I take my conclusions to be, for the most part, compatible with their views. The central idea of this book occurred to me, however, at a time when I was quite ignorant of these philosophies. An earlier obligation was to the philosophical idealists, especially Royce, Creighton, and my former teacher, Professor William Ernest Hocking. If, indeed, "idealism" means that reality is essentially spiritual, and if "spiritual" means, as I think it should, irreducibly socio-emotional, or having to do with "love," then the most general conclusion which I feel warranted in drawing from the evidence supporting the af-

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