VII.—In what sense are Psychical States Extended?

The question asked above may be met by a general denial. Psychical states, we may be assured, are not extended in any sense or at all. But this denial, if taken absolutely, could not be sustained. It seems open to an objection such as the following: If what is psychical is not extended then nothing is extended, for in the end everything must be psychical. And at least in some quarters it appears doubtful if such an objection could be met. But, to pass by this argument in its more sweeping and more assailable form, I will go on to urge it in a shape which to me seems conclusive. The psychical existence of extension may be wholly denied, yet the idea and the perception of extension must at the same time be affirmed. And any such position, I would submit, is inconsistent with itself. For the perception and idea are admitted themselves to be psychical, and, if this perception and idea in no sense possessed extension, in what possible way (we must urge) could they represent it? And, since to this question I have not yet found a reply, I must conclude that in some sense the psychical can be extended. (¶ 1)

But ideas and perceptions, I shall be told, are not what they signify. It is true, I reply, that their meaning and their existence are different. But if this difference is taken to preclude sameness, the statement would become false. For a thing, though thee same, becomes different also when diversely applied. And a feature of content, which makes the meaning of an idea, must, I presume, in order to do this, be present psychically. Thus, for example, the idea of my horse in a sense has extension, and this idea also is a psychical state. And when you ask me to believe that a psychical state may have somehow extension, while in no sense whatever it is extended, I cannot follow you. For how far and in what sense that which has extension itself is extended, I propose to discuss. But to deny extension wholly and altogether I find to be unmeaning. And, if I am asked whether the extension of my horse exists also in my soul, that enquiry in no degree tends to stagger me. These extensions are different and they must be different since, and so far as, they belong to and qualify what is different. But, for all their differences, they are also and as well most assuredly the same extension. And, if they are not to be the same, I in my turn ask how my idea can be a true one. Nay, without extension in some sense, how could a false idea even succeed in looking like truth? For to appear with something or as something which one in no sense has or is, if we admit it to be possible, is at least a thing which calls for some explanation[*]. And in default of this explanation we must assert that psychical states in some sense may be extended[**]. Let us endeavour further to define the sense of that extension. (¶ 2)

¶ 2, n. 1: Compare here Mind, N.S. IV. 21

¶ 2, n. 2: Whether extension is here a primitive or an acquired perception seems a consideration not relevant. For in any case it exists, and that existence is all that need here concern us.

There is an obvious difference between extension as it is in the soul and extension as it is in the physical world. For the movement and the collision of material things is not present in the soul, or, rather, is not present in its full and complete nature. And we find this at once if we endeavour a priori to demonstrate about matter. So far as mere space is concerned we appear to possess its nature inwardly, and hence to be able within ourselves to control and to develop its essence. But clearly no such claim could be upheld with regard to body, and to anticipate or even to demonstrate the various qualities of nature seems quite impracticable. Observation and experiment have taught us connections which internally we repeat, and which partly we can combine and can rearrange. But we are not able (as with mere space) to experiment internally, for we do not possess the complete nature of the physical process. Thus by sheer hallucination we may even actually perceive a physical world, but no mere hallucination would supply us with fresh physical facts. We should be dealing always with but our old acquired material, and presumably could not, apart from accident, gain from a sheer hallucination new information about nature. (¶ 3)

On the other hand to deny that in the soul we have at all the extension which meets us in nature would be mistaken. We certainly have this same extension and can repeat the process of its happening, but we can do this only within limits, partially, and up to a certain point. For when we perceive a sequence in nature we perceive in this but one feature of a whole. The result observed does not follow really and in fact except from the complete conditions, and to experience these complete conditions is quite impossible. The essential process, so far as known by us, is gathered piecemeal, constructed ideally, and put together in the abstract. And hence our essential process, as such, is not that actual process which produces the perceived result. Or rather it is the actual process but so incomplete as to be actual no longer. In this sense we may deny that the physical extended moves and happens in a soul. For it happens there not integrally but merely in certain fragmentary aspects. And we possess it not bodily but only in schematic outline. (¶ 4)

Now to object that in the psychical world also we, sometimes or always, have sequences the full conditions of which we cannot experience would be irrelevant. For in any case in the soul we find no world or order of spatial happening such as we ascribe to nature. And, however many psychical sequences may remain incomprehensible, our conclusion remains. We are right to deny that the physical extended in its full process has psychical existence. Let us pass from this to another doubt which concerns us more. (¶ 5)

One may reasonably deny that the physical extended essentially consists in its extendedness. The properties of the physical world follow, one may contend rather, only in part from its mere extension, and from its mere extension, however well you knew that, you could not comprehend the process of nature’s happening. But hence the extension of nature and the order of nature, so far as it follows from that extension, can (it may be held) after all be possessed by the soul and in a word by psychical. This is a grave question on which I must again touch lower down, but its full solution cannot be attempted here. And for our present purpose we may be content to leave the question unanswered. We may either say that psychically we cannot possess the complete nature of physical extension; or again we may conclude that, while we possess this, the physical extended has also an additional aspect, an aspect essential and beyond our psychical experience. In this latter case we must allow no essential difference between extension physical and psychical, and we must hold that the process of the physical extended, so far as extended, also happens partially in the soul. But in the former case physical extension itself will not be experienced by the soul except as defective in its essence. Psychical extension in other words will lack an integral feature owned by the extension which is physical. But with such refinements we perhaps need here concern ourselves no further. For it will be true in any case that up to a certain point we have psychically the same extension which qualifies nature. In any case the two will have some identity, and the doubt attaches merely to the point at which they diverge. Psychical and physical phenomena, in other words, to a certain extent will in any case share the same extension. But in one case the physical world will have that extension less fragmentary and more complete, while in the other case the physical world will, besides its extension, necessarily possess an additional factor not owned completely by the soul[*]. With this we may pass from a distinction which for our present purpose seems barren. (¶ 6)

¶ 6, n. 1: I of course cannot raise here the question of the ultimate nature of the physical world, and ask whether and how far it exists outside souls. And whether in the last resort unperceived nature is even actually extended I again cannot here discuss. For the purpose of the text I have felt bound to assume that unperceived nature is extended.

But if psychical states are extended, I may be told, absurd consequences will follow. For these states will then collide, if not with outer things, at least with each other. Nothing of the kind, I reply, need really take place. For even if we can assume of physical extensions that they are all comprised in and form parts of one extended world, such an assumption evidently becomes false when we carry it further. The extensions in the soul need have no spatial relation to the physical world, nor again amongst themselves need they be spatially related to one another. When any phenomena are related spatially they are ipso facto parts of one spatial whole—so much is certain. But that all things spatial must be spatially related to each other is not certain but false. It is in fact a prejudice without any rational basis. The worlds of the Arabian Nights and of the Pilgrim’s Progress have no spatial connection either with each other or with the room in which I write. These worlds have a common unity, that is certain, but they are not contained in one space. And whatever may be the case with Nature, in the soul there is an indefinite number of extensions between which no spatial relation exists. Each of these states so far, we may say, has a world of its own. And to urge objections based on the infinite or the finite character of space would once more here be idle. For the assumption of spatial unity would not help us to dispose of any one of such difficulties.[*]. (¶ 7)

¶ 7, n. 1: On all these questions I may refer the reader for some further discussion to my Appearance and Reality, Chapter XII.

The soul contains extensions and it contains many extensions, but the soul is not extended. We have here in principle, I believe, the answer to our main enquiry. For a thing may have qualities that are spatial and yet itself need not enter space, and the denial of this truth once more would rest on mere prejudice. Certainly to be extended cannot mean merely to own an unrelated spatial adjective. It must mean on the contrary to have a spatial relation beyond oneself, and hence oneself to pass into and belong as part to an extended whole. But, this being admitted, the question is whether, without itself being extended, a thing cannot possess extension—whether, that is, we cannot say of a thing that is extended in certain respects though not extended as a whole. And the answer, I presume, must turn on the position which in the thing’s essence we have assigned to extension. If, that is, we make extension predominate in the thing’s nature, and treat other qualities as subordinate to, and as following from this special aspect, the thing itself clearly will have to enter a spatial world. But if on the other hand extension had no privileged or primary rank, if the thing’s other attributes are in no way secondary or subordinate to that, but on the contrary perhaps superior in amount and in value—then clearly the thing itself will not be extended. The extension will qualify one or more aspects and adjectives of the thing and these adjectives certainly will become parts each in its own spatial whole. But the rest of the thing’s nature will remain aloof. You cannot so attach this outstanding nature to the extension as to carry it, and with it the whole thing, into a spatial order. The whole as a whole therefore will have extension, but—except in relation to one or more of its adjectives and just so far as they go—the whole will not be extended. If any of its states are spatial then, in respect of these states and so far, the thing must be spatial. But whether it is spatial otherwise and taken as a whole, will depend on the conditions. And the question is decided in each case by the relative importance of the thing’s adjectives and by the position amongst these which extension occupies. (¶ 8)

Now in the physical world, rightly or wrongly, extension may be taken as primary and predominant. And, if so, Nature will all be extended, and also, perhaps, will have to be viewed as enclosed in one space. The position of such qualities as, say, smells and sounds will remain irregular, for, though localized, they are not properly extended. Still extension, rightly or wrongly, has been given a superior standing. It is not one adjective on a level with others, nor can its connection with nature’s essence be taken as mediate and conditioned. Nature has odours and tastes—here and there and under such or such conditions; but you can hardly say that nature is odorous or savoury in the sense in which you say it is extended. For every distinct partial aspect within a whole is possessed by that whole, but they cannot, each alike, be said to qualify the whole directly and simply. (¶ 9)

But when we pass to the soul the position and rank of extension is altered. It cannot any longer be taken as predominant or primary, but has on the contrary to accept a secondary, if not an occasional place. It is, we may say, undermined and overpowered by other adjectives. And hence the psychical whole is not extended. It merely has extension here and there, indirectly and as a quality of some its states, between which states there need be no spatial relation at all. The psychical field of struggle is no space except by a metaphor, and the weapons of the contest are not velocity or mass. Nay the extended itself, so far as psychically it competes, does not compete primarily by means of and through its relative extension[*]. It struggles, as all psychical elements struggle, by intensity, by pleasure and pain and by the associative force of content. The soul has extension (we have seen), for it has states which are extended. And as a whole the soul possesses the adjectives owned by its partial states, and, in these respects and so far, the soul itself is extended. But to omit here and there and in this and that point, and to predicate extension of the whole soul without condition and at large would be gravely erroneous. It would in fact be as absurd as it would be to call the soul sapid or odorous. (¶ 10)

¶ 10, n. 1: So far as they are related spatially extensions in the soul can struggle for the same place. The basis of the struggle is here the partial identity of their content. It is in short a case of contraries.

And this distinction between what the soul has and that which it is—the distinction between what the soul is itself, as a whole or directly, and what again it is indirectly and merely in respect of its parts—this distinction I take to be the solution of our chief problem. (¶ 11)

I will notice finally some minor difficulties connected with the subject, though, as it seems to me, they do not affect our main conclusion. Not all extensions in the soul, we saw, are related spatially. But where they are so and are combined to form one space, is this unity itself extended? Now, if the several extensions really are imaged as coming together, their unity clearly has also become spatial, and as a psychical state the whole perception is so far extended. But where we think not in concrete imagery but abstractly, this result must be modified. Having the idea of several spaces we then may think of them as combined and as one, and we may do this without properly representing their union as spatial. For we may apply to them an abstract and extraneous idea of unity. And, if so, the resulting synthesis may itself not actually be spatial, though always tending to become so[*]. Let us go on to consider another minor problem. (¶ 12)

¶ 12, n. 1: Even if the idea of unity which is applied is spatial, it remains doubtful how far the several extended objects become part of one extension. If, for instance, I am asked to think of a number of bodies each of a different colour, these bodies being scattered in space or divided also in time, and then am asked to think of these bodies as close together in space—what, I suppose, happens is this. I apply a more or less abstract spatial scheme of diversity in unity, and I identify the coloured bodies with the diversities of this spatial scheme. Now, if my thought is rapid and remains abstract, need it imply the mental juxtaposition of the various colours? And, if not, how far and in what sense have the coloured objects become parts of one new extended state? We must reply, I think, that, so far, the bodies have not become parts of such a state, for they have come together spatially only from one side of their being. On the other hand this abstract unity tends naturally to become more concrete and to pass into actual mental juxtaposition of the colours also.

Let us suppose that, besides perceiving the place where I am, I think of other extended objects both present and past, objects some real and some imaginary. Now I may have several of these objects, I presume, at once, and may also consider them together. But where things in any sense are taken together that unity is of course a psychical state, and in the present case the question is whether we are to call this state extended. It is probably not extended always, but, with some persons at least, it always tends to become so, and all objects thought of together tend to become parts even of one visual field. But the whole question, however interesting, has no bearing on our principal result. For the unity and synthesis of these several objects certainly will not consist always in their presence within one visual field, but that presence rather may be itself a symptom and consequence of their unity. and my whole psychical state at any moment is of course never extended. The background of feeling, before which every object must come, consists largely of elements which not in any aspect are extended. And the unity of feeling is of course itself not spatial. With these brief remarks I must pass from problems which seem here not in place. (¶ 13)

The result of our whole enquiry is briefly this. The unity of the soul is not spatial, nor as a whole is the soul extended. But here and there, without any doubt, it has features which are extended. And the soul is extended in respect of these features, while you consider it merely so far and regard it fragmentarily. But to predicate extension of the soul, when the soul is taken together and as one, is quite impossible. That is no better than it would be to term the soul acid or salt or fragrant. For in the soul extension is not a universal head or law under which all adjectives fall; and, as an adjective, it is not all-pervasive. It is really but one among a number of predicates, its possession is partial and its rank is secondary. (¶ 14)

I may be allowed perhaps to append some remarks on Extensity and on my difficulties with regard to it. I was long ago convinced of two things. (a) We cannot, I believe, understand how the perceived spatial world arises (if it does arise) from what is quite non-spatial; and (b) the spatial perception, however it arises, cannot have at first the relational character of developed space (Mind, XII. 370 note). Hence it seems to me proper to postulate a mode of perception which gives, on the one hand, more than mere volume and, on the other hand, less than space. And yet extensity, as it is offered me, I cannot accept for the following two reasons. (i) I am not able myself to find extensity in observation anywhere as a fact. (ii) I cannot identify everywhere volume with extensity so as to deny all volume which is not extensive. On the contrary I take extensity to be a specialized volume. And, though I probably have failed to understand the position or Mr Ward or of Professor James, and though I am aware that with regard to extensity they seem, at least, in part to differ very seriously, they appear to me to agree in what perhaps are two mistakes. Both seem to me to deny in effect all non-extensive volume, and to claim also to observe extensity as a fact. (¶ 15)

(i) Whether extensity can somewhere be observed is perhaps a question of little moment, and on my own failure I should certainly not venture to stand. But since my own difficulty may be more than personal, I will endeavour to state it. And my experience is this. Whenever I observe I either get something which seems to imply space right out, or else I get something which seems not to have even extensity. I can find volume everywhere—that I do not doubt—but not all volume appears to me to come possessed of side-by-sideness, or even to have features joined and divided by any fixed order of relations. When on the other hand I dwell on my perception, it tends to become distinct spatially, without, so far as I see, becoming merely extensive. And my perception thus grows not spatial merely but spatial even visually. A compound smell or a confused organic sensation, nay, any kind of diversity and every possible distinction, in the end, when I dwell on it, becomes localized somehow in a visual field. And in short, while I observe, I find no way from an awkward dilemma. I must hold that all observed diversity and every distinction involves a character which is spatial right out, and in my own case visually spatial, though the elemtns themselves (e.g. smells) need not be extended. Or else, if I may take this character as but imposed by the process of my attending, and if I may deny that my mere perception of volume possesses it, then extensity itself seems gone with this justified removal. Or at least, while I keep to the observed facts, I myself cannot find it. I start with something which appears to be not so much as extensive, and I end with something which seems to imply what is fatally more, and during my progress I cannot make the required observation. And hence I should prefer to accept extensity as a postulate, if it were correctly formulated so as to fill the void stage in the development of space. (¶ 16)

(ii) From this I pass to hte second objection. Extensity, it seems to me, is a special kind of volume, nor could I deny the existence of volume without extensity. To such a denial I am in principle perhaps not opposed. Nay, if I had to assert that no diversity could be anywhere perceived without the help of spatial marks of distinction, that would make but little difference in principle to any views I entertain. But I think such a doctrine is mistaken, and in the same way I must decline to identify volume with extensity. If I take for instance my whole condition at some one moment, or if I take some group of organic sensations, or again for example some complex smell, I am led to a very different result. In these cases I am aware of volume, of an uncounted plural whole, I certainly perceive a muchness but on the other side I cannot predicate extensity. I cannot find side-by-sideness nor can I find a fixed interrelated arrangement of any kind. There are qualitative differences within a whole, but these differences seem, not even as qualities, to have an ordered position and situation among themselves. They are neither continuous in this sense, nor are they continuous again as showing indefinite internal divisbility. They are no serial field in and on which motions, if only they could supervene, would find positions and so generate space. I at least cannot observe these characters given everywhere as fact, and I am therefore forced to suspect one of two things. Either these characters have been transferred from elsewhere into the facts, or I, as is likely enough, have not understood what extensity is to mean. (¶ 17)

And since where one does not understand it is better not to insist on criticism, and since some obscurity seems to beset the use of volume, I may perhaps do best if I attempt to indicate what I myself mean by it. In the first place massiveness seems not synonymous, for, if I imagine myself a balloon or a cloud, I am voluminous but not massive. Oppressiveness again would refer to a certain effect on me, and the more oppressive (a fur rug) is not always the more voluminous (a down coverlet). These terms may be dismissed as being clearly not the same as mere volume. It is volume where (a) positively I have a whole containing a diversity felt as a many and much of one somewhat, and (b) negatively it is mere volume so far as here I do not count any units or pass discursively through any relations. Again, to have mere volume strictly, I should view my much comparatively and as being or as having more than something else is or has; and further, although the much has a quality, I must not take that quality as a degree, with a place, that is, on a qualitative scale dependent on quantity. There are comparative volumes of course and there are of course degrees in volume, but these are special developments of the two undeveloped aspects of mere volume. Mere volume has a manyness which neither is counted nor compared, and ith as a quality of muchness which is not taken on its own scale as a more or less of itself. The aspects of volume, which we might call its intensiveness and its extent, are present and given, but are not distinguished and developed. And, after that result has taken place, I have still mere volume so far as I disregard the development and distinction. (¶ 18)

Now it does not seem to me that this mere perception of an uncounted plural whole need imply side-by-sideness or fixed interrelation or serial arrangement, or, in any proper sense, continuity external and internal. Space, in short, has volume, but volume need not be spatial or even have extensity. And, if I am wrong in this, yet the question calls, I think, for some enquiry. (¶ 19)

With that enquiry perhaps might go a more careful treatment of the connection between amount and degree. And as a possible help, and by way of supplement to a former paper (Mind, N.S. No. 13), I will venture to add some remarks not original nor perhaps all relevant. (¶ 20)

Psychical states must all from the first be more and less of one somewhat, but the perception of quantity is rightly placed later than that of quality, if, that is, quality is taken at its rudest stage. The sense of something other and different comes, I believe, before that of more and less. But I certainly am not here attempting to derive or in any way to explain the origin of quantity. Quantity (however it comes) is another kind of change within the quality. When somewhat grows more or less it becomes otherwise without ceasing to be the same quality or thing. If red changes to green that is an altered quality, though I do not deny that quantity may also be involved in the change. But when red changes to more of red or redder, while remaining red, that is what we call quantity. And we are led to distinguish further because more red is ambiguous. It may stand for merely more of the same red, or it may mean that the red, while still red and so far still the same, is also changed within itself and is now more or less as red. The redness itself here is opened to contain the diversity of an internal scale. Thus the more and less affected first only that which is red, but afterwards we have a more and less within redness itself. (¶ 21)

Now it is not uncommon to speak of intensity and of extent as being aspects quite diverse. And when a greater extent of a quality, such as warmth, is in fact taken wrongly for a higher degree, we are told that volume and intensity are here confused or are not distinguished. But this explanation, though not untrue, seems partly incorrect. The real mistake lies, I think, not in failure to distinguish between extent and degree, but in failure to distinguish between two degrees or two amounts of different kinds. And I will endeavour briefly to make this clear. (¶ 22)

Every perception of quantity, whether it is a perception of amount or degree, must possess the two aspects of extent and intenseness. Even in the case of degree the perception must contain an internal plurality (Mind, N.S. No. 13). THere is a difference in the two cases, but the difference lies in the that of which we have amount or degree. If you take red and increase its degree, preserving the same spatial area, you gain more units, but more units of red and not of spatial area. If you keep the redness the same, while the spatial area is increased, you have a higher degree not of redness but of area which is red. And hence—since in each case there is an increase both in intensity and in extent, and since both increases come to us alike as a moreness of red—a confusion between them seems only natural. Nay the distinction between these aspects is presumably a late acquisition. But in theory this distinction can be turned into a hard division with erroneous results. (¶ 23)

Volume itself is most certainly capable of degree. If you have a coloured surface which is red, that, even if you disregard its redness, has volume, and corresponding to that volume the surface as a whole has a quality. And if the coloured surface is increased by an addition which is not red but green, you will have an increase in volume and alos in quality. Your perception will grow in intensity as it grows in volume, though neither this volume nor this intensity will belong specially to red or green. And then, coincident with and superimposed on this double growth, may come an increase in redness or greenness also two-sided. And all these changes, which partly are independent, partly must influence one another, and result often in confusion or even in positive mistake. (¶ 24)

I do not know how far such remarks are relevant to the question in hand. They may serve at least to suggest that the connection between quality, quantity and degree is not simple, and cannot be disposed of easily. On the positive nature of extensity I have indeed said almost nothing. It has to be postulated and is not observed, and, while less than space, it is certainly more than mere volume. I have said no more because I doubt if I have more to say. And with what class or classes of sensation we have to postulate this character, is an important question which I have not touched. Nay even that which I have laid down I am prepared to find mistaken. Every sort of diversity, after all, and every distinction may imply space proper, or, if not that, may imply something more or less spatial; and this last character again may be given in actual observation[*]. Volume without extensity may in short turn out to be an error. But whatever conclusion on these points may prove true in the end, the way to it, I am sure, is not short or easy. The introduction of extensity, in brief, I think has been useful, but extensity would be more useful if it were more thoroughly explained and discussed. By such an explanation I at least should expect to profit. (¶ 25)

¶ 25, n. 1: Professor Sully (Human Mind, I. 95) seems to accept extensity only as hypothetical. If so, I do not understand what position he gives to volume and massiveness. In rejecting extensity wholly (Appearance and Reality, p. 35) I had in mind solely the fact as supposed to be observed. The remark was not intended to exclude a hypothetical form of space-sensation (Cp. Mind, XII. 370, note).