The Normal Mind

Mind, we found, is born in the form of consciousness when the outside

world impresses itself upon the brain-cells by way of the senses. This

consciousness, observation and experiment prove, is first a feeling one,

later a feeling-thinking-willing one. The mind, then, is really the

activity of the brain as it feels, as it thinks, as it wills. We express

this in descriptive terms when we speak of mind as the flow of

iousness, the sum of all mental associations, conscious and

unconscious. For mind is never a final thing. Looking within at our own

mental processes we find that always our thought is just becoming

something else. We reach a conclusion, but it is not a resting place,

only a starting place for another. My thought was that a moment ago,

but while it was that it was becoming this, and even now it is

becoming something else.

Thinking is mind. Feeling is mind. Willing is mind. But for the sake of

clearness we speak of feeling, thinking, and willing as being functions

of mind. Mind acts by using these powers. But to what end does it act?

What purpose does it serve? For these functions are not the reasons of

being for the mind, even as motion--while the immediate purpose of the

locomotive--is not its chief end. The steam engine may stand in the same

spot while its wheels revolve madly; it may move along the tracks alone,

and accomplish nothing; or it may transport a great train of loaded

cars. Unless it moves to some definite point and carries merchandise or

people there, it is a useless, indeed, a dangerous invention. We find,

in fact, that it functions to the very definite end of taking man and

his chattels to specified places.

And so it is with the mind. If it is thinking and feeling and willing

only for the sake of exercising these mental powers, it might better not

be. But what end do we actually find these functions serving?

Mind, with its powers of thinking, feeling, and willing, gives an

external world of matter; an internal world of thought, and so relates

them to each other as to make them serve man's purposes. Thus these

functions exist for accomplishment.

In the solving of a problem, for instance, the mind thinks, primarily;

in the enjoyment of music it feels, primarily, though its feeling may be

determined by the intellectual verdict on the music; in forcing its

owner to sit at the piano and practice in the face of strong desire to

attend the theater, it wills, primarily. Now one of its functions

predominates; now another. But the whole mind, not a feeling section, or

a thinking section, or a willing section, operates together to produce

action. When I play the piano it calls on all my mind. I think the

music. I feel it. I make my fingers play it. But the thinking, the

feeling, and the willing act together to result in the fingers playing.

The mind, then, is an instrument of achievement. It fulfils its purpose

when it makes matter serve useful ends.

Emotion or feeling is the function of the mind which associates a

sense of pleasure or pain with every thought or act.

Feeling is the affective state of mind. By this we mean that it has the

power to move us. And this emotion primarily does; for our feeling of

pleasure or pain moves us to action, as well as precedes and accompanies

and follows action. The word emotion is usually employed to denote an

acute feeling state, while the word mood denotes a prolonged feeling

condition, i. e., a less acute emotional state. The word feeling,

however, is used to cover both; for in each case the sensational element

manifests itself in a definite physical affect, pleasurable or painful

in some degree.

Thinking is a conscious mental activity exercised to evolve ideas from

perceptions, and to combine and compare these ideas to form judgments.

Intellection, or thinking, might be explained as the mental process

which converts sensation into percepts, groups percepts to form concepts

or ideas, stores away ideas and sensations for future use, and recalls

them when needed--the recalling being memory--and by reason combines,

compares, and associates ideas to form judgments, then compares

judgments to form new judgments. The process of intellect we name by

terms denoting activity, such as intellection, thinking, the stream of

thought, and the latter describes it most truly.

Volition or will is the function of the mind which compels the

expression of thought or feeling in action.

For clarity we might indicate the mind and its functions in the

following diagram:

/ Emotion { Pleasure \

{ { Pain }

{ / Eye }

{ { Ear }

{ / Sensation / Nose }

{ { (impression < Mouth }

{ { on mind from \ Skin }

{ { some organs) { Muscles }

{ { { Viscera }

{ { \ General sensation }

{ { }

{ { Perception } }

{ { (recognition of > of object }

/ { cause of sensation) } of quality \

Mind < Intellect, or / > Mind

\ the Stream < { Self /

{ of Thought \ { Organic }

{ { Memory < Inorganic }

{ { { Percept }

{ { { Concept }

{ { }

{ { { Abstract }

{ { Ideation < Concrete }

{ { { Imaginative { Fanciful }

{ { { Constructive }

{ { Reason }

{ \ Judgment }

\ Will /

The following terms are ones constantly used in psychology, and are

briefly defined that there may be no haziness in their application.

Sensation is the uninterpreted response of the mind to stimuli brought

by sense organs.

{ hot.

Examples: Feeling of { cold.

{ pain.

Sensation may arouse instinct and cause reflex action, or start a

feeling state, or a train of thought.

Perception is the conscious recognition of the cause of a given


{ fluid--water.

Example: { cold--snow.

{ pain--cut.

Percept is a word often used to denote the mind's immediate image of

the thing perceived.

Percepts are of two kinds: object and quality.

Example: { object, as water.

{ quality, as fluid.

Memory is the mind's faculty of retaining, recognizing, and

reproducing sensations, percepts, and concepts.

Organic memory is the mind's reproduction of past bodily sensations.

Example: I recall the physical sensations of a chill, and live it over

in my mind, so that I can accurately describe how a chill feels to me,

though I can but surmise how one feels to you.

Inorganic memory is the mind's reproduction of its own reactions in

the past.

Example: Myself having a chill, how I acted; what I thought and my

emotions during that chill.

Ideation is the mind's grouping of percepts by the aid of memory, to

form concepts.

Example: I perceive color, form, mouth, eyes, nose, chin, etc. These

percepts I combine as a result of past experience (memory) to form my

concept, face; and the process of combining is ideation.

Concepts are mental representations of things or qualities,

i. e., of object or quality percepts.

We might say that the percept is the mind's immediate image of a thing

or quality, and the concept is the result of the storing up and grouping

and recombining of percepts. Thus a lasting mental picture is secured;

and my idea of horse, for instance, is so clear and definite a thing in

my mind that if I should never again see a particular horse, I should

yet always be able to think accurately of a horse.

Concepts are of two kinds--concrete and abstract.

A concrete concept, or concrete idea (for concept and idea are

interchangeably used), is an idea of a particular object or quality.

Examples: This wine-sap apple (object concept).

This sweet orange (quality concept).

An abstract concept, or abstract idea, is a mental reproduction of a

quality or an object dissociated from any particular setting or

particular experience.

Abstract ideas are of two kinds. We speak of them as abstract object

concepts and as abstract quality concepts. An abstract object

concept we might call a generalized idea, an idea comprehending all

objects having certain things in common.

Example: My idea of animal includes many scores of very different

individual animals, but they all have bodies and heads and extremities.

They all have some kind of digestive apparatus; they breathe, and can


An abstract quality concept is easier to think than to explain. It is

as though the mind in considering a multitude of different objects found

a certain quality common to many of them, and it "abstracted," i. e.,

drew this particular quality, and only this, from them all, and then

imagined it as a something in itself which it calls redness, or

whiteness, or goodness. Thereafter, whenever it finds something like

it anywhere else again it says, "That is like my redness." So I call it

"red." In other words, consciousness thereafter can determine in a newly

discovered object something it knows well merely because that something

corresponds to a representation which experience and memory have already


These comprehensive concepts, or universals, as some psychologists

term them, the mind, having pieced together from experience and memory,

holds as independent realities, not primarily belonging to this or

that, but lending themselves to this or that. For example: My mind

says "white," and sees white in some object. But I see the white only

because my mind has a quality concept, whiteness. This outside object

corresponds to my concept. I recognize the likeness and call it "white."

I speak of goodness, or purity, of benevolence; or of fulness,

emptiness, scantiness. There is no object or quality in the outside

world I can say is goodness, or fulness. But I do see things in the

external world through my ideas of goodness or fulness that correspond

to these ideas. They have some of the qualities the ideas embrace; and

so I point them out and say, "This represents purity; that, impurity";

or, "This is full, that is empty." One satisfies my concept of purity,

while the other does not. One fulfils my concept of fulness; the other

does not. And because we can never point out any one quality in the

outside world and say "This is purity, and all of purity; this is

goodness; or this good plus this good plus this makes all of goodness";

because of this impossibility we speak of these concepts as having

reality somewhere. They are absolutes, universals, abstract quality

concepts--the unfound all of which the things we call pure and good are

but the part.

Apperception is the process of comparing the new with all that is in

the mind, and of classifying it by its likeness to something already


With an abstract idea of an object in mind we very deftly, through the

use of memory and constructive imagination, deduce the whole from the

part recognized as familiar.

Example: In walking through the field, along the bank of the brook, I

glimpse under the low-hanging branches of the weeping willow a

restlessly moving hoof. I see a certain kind of hoof and only that. Or I

hear a lowing sound. And I say "cow." I have not seen a cow, but only a

part which tells me a cow is there; for all the cows I ever saw had

hoofs of that general description, and so it fits into my concept cow,

and into no others. Or I have heard cows, only, give that lowing sound

before. From my perception, then, of hoof or sound I apperceive cow.

Memory relates that hoof or that lowing sound to a certain kind of

animal known in the past; and constructive imagination draws in all the

rest of the picture that belongs with it.

Again, we may apperceive an object or quality from our recognition of

something which in our experience has been associated, under those

particular circumstances, with only that object or quality. I see smoke

on the ocean's far horizon, and I decide instantly, "a steamer." I have

not perceived any steamer, but only something that "goes with it," as it

were. I see the ship with my mind, not with my eyes; for I know that a

cloud of smoke out there always has, in my past experience, represented

just that. I compare the newly appearing stimulus--smoke in that

particular location--with all that is associated with it in my mind,

and classify it with the known. I apperceive "steamer."

In apperception, then, we construct from the known actually perceived by

the senses, the unknown. How does the child realize that the moving

speck on the distant hillside is his father? There is nothing to

indicate it except that it is black and moves in this direction. But

experience tells Johnny that father comes home that way just about this

time. Moreover, it says that father looks so when at that distance. When

Johnny is as sure it is his father as if he could see his face close

beside him he has apperceived him. The speck on the hill is the newly

arriving stimulus. Johnny compares it with what corresponds to it in his

mind's experience and proclaims, as a fact, that he sees his father.

Reason is the mind's comparison and grouping of concepts to form

judgments, and its association of judgments to form new judgments.

Example: My concept man includes the eventual certainty of his death.

My concept mortal means "subject to death." Therefore my judgment is,

"Man is mortal." Reason has compared the concepts and found that the

second includes the first.

Judgment is the mind's decision arrived at through comparing concepts

or other judgments.

Example: Man is mortal is my decision after comparing the concepts

man and mortal and finding that the latter really includes the

former. Judgment at the same time says that "Mortals are men," is not a

true conclusion. For in this case the first concept is not all included

in the second. Mortals are all life that is subject to death.

We may assume personal consciousness even as we recognize an individual

body. Psychology does not deal with any awareness separated from a

person. It knows no central mind of which you partake or I partake, and

which is the same for us both. A universal consciousness would simply

mean one which is the sum of yours and mine and everybody's who lives

today, or who has ever lived. So by personal consciousness the

psychologist means his consciousness, or yours, or mine. But they can

never be the same; for mine is determined by my entire past and by how

things and facts and qualities affect me; and yours, by your past, and

by things and facts and qualities, and by how they affect you.

Personal consciousness is the mind's recognition of self; and as the

self changes with every added experience, so personal consciousness is


Stream of thought is a term James has brought into common usage to

illustrate the fact, already stressed, that thinking, as we know it, is

never static, is never one thing, one percept, one concept, one

judgment; but is a lot of these all together, just beginning to be or

just beginning to change into something else. We never know a concept,

for instance, except as it is a part of our entire consciousness,

related to all the rest; just as we do not know the drop of water in the

brook as it flows with the stream. We can take up one on our

finger-tips, however, and separate it from all the rest. But analyzed in

the laboratory, this drop will contain all the elements that a pint or

gallon or a barrel of the same water contains. The drop is what it is

because the stream has a certain composition. We only have a brook as

drops of rain combine to make it, but we also have only the drops as we

separate them from the steam.

Imagination is the combining by the mind, in a new way, things already


This may be either into fantastic groupings divorced from reality, or

into new, possible, rational groupings not yet experienced. So

imagination is of two kinds, the fantastic and the constructive.

Fantastic imagination, or fantasy, gives us gnomes, fairies, giants, and

flying horses, and all the delights of fairy tales. Constructive

imagination is the basis for invention, for literature, and the arts and


The word thinking, defined early in this chapter, is broadly used to

denote the sum of all the intellectual faculties. Thinking is really the

stream of thought.