Classics in the History of Psychology

An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario

(Return to index)

History of Psychology: A Sketch and an Interpretation
Volume II

James Mark Baldwin (1913)


Subjective and Critical Idealism -- Faith philosophy

WE have seen, on an earlier page, that the philosophical interpretations taking their rise in the dualism of Descartes might be classed, for psychological purposes, as Dualistic, Naturalistic, Idealistic, and Mystical. We have traced out the history of the first two of these movements: Descartes to Wollf, and Locke to Condillac, respectively. We now turn to the idealistic movement, which arose as a protest against sensationalism. In its early manifestations it retained the intellectualistic character of a philosophy of knowledge; and only later did it take on the two contrasted forms of Intellectualism and Voluntarism.

The development of Intellectualism showed itself in two important figures: George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, and Immanuel Kant, the "Sage of Königsberg."

George Berkeley (1685-1753).--In Berkeley's psychology we find the carrying out of what afterwards became the Humian analytic method, but with a different philosophical motive from that of the sensationalistic followers of Hume. The analysis of external reality into sensations did not mean logically a resort to materialism, although the intervention of the nervous system between the world and the mind suggested that construction For the term that remains when the analysis is exhaustive is not a material term, nervous or physical, but a mental term, a sensation.

[p. 18] Berkeley demonstrated this. He carried the subjective analysis of the physical thing out to its logical issue. The primary qualities-extension resistance, etc. -- were mental states, no less than the secondary qualities. The external world of perception, he declared, has no separate existence: "To be is to be perceived," esse est percipi. This became part of Hume's case. If there be no further factors than those involved in sense perception, then the primacy of the inner realm, the subjectivity of all experience, is demonstrated. Berkeley thus met the materialists.

It was by an analysis of vision that he illustrated this. His Theory of Vision is famous. He demonstrated that visual space is relative and subjective. He derived the visual localisation of objects from association with sensations of touch. The eye of the child sees the object as located by the hand, and afterwards assigns the visual stimulation to the location thus established through association. Visual space is thus found to be relative, neither wholly innate nor wholly governed by external space relations.

Berkeley prepared the distinction of Hume between impression and idea by pointing out a variety of points of difference. Besides differing in intensity and liveliness, the idea is not dependent in its duration upon an external stimulus; and, moreover, it is part of an associated context or order of contents.

These points may suffice to show the thorough empiricism, as well as the accuracy, of Berkeley's procedure.

It was his philosophy, however, that spoke the last word. The soul, he said, is a simple active being, revealed to us through experience, but not perceived in any concrete experience. It is a concept drawn from [p. 19] the mental life, rather than an idea found in the mental life. Nothing exists except spirits; the other existences, whose essence is to be perceived, are maintained by the perception of God, who is the true cause of their appearance to us. When perceiving, mind is reason; when acting, it is will.

We here reach a new spiritualism, making use of the subjective analysis that served also the purposes of materialism. For the one, subjectivism proved the non-existence of a spiritual principle; for the other, that of a material principle. So far as his theistic spiritualism is concerned, Berkeley belongs to the series of philosophers already described as rationalists. Logically he follows Malebranche, combining occasionalism with Leibnitzian monadism. But this should not lead us to misunderstand Berkeley's psychology and theory of knowledge. So far from deducing his psychology from spiritualism, he explains his psychological results by resorting to spiritualism. That is to say we have to see in Berkeley's psychology a legitimate advance in the direction of Hume's sensationalistic analysis.

Criticism: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)--The principal problem of Kant is well set forth by the word used by him to indicate his method. He instituted "critique " of the entire outcome of the mind's operations of knowledge (in the Critique of Pure Reason), practice (in the Critique of Practical Reason), and sentiment (in the Critique of Æsthetic Judgment): reinen Vernunft, praktischen Vernunft, and Urteilskraft. By this criticism he endeavoured to distinguish the universal element contributed by the mind to its experience, from the particular elements which experience offers to the mind. Starting from knowledge and

[p. 20] practice as we find them, he asked: How is experience possible? -- what are its factors? -- what are the logical conditions on which any experience whatever can arise?

His general result is that there are formal elements in all experience which cannot arise from the combination of mental contents, sensations, and ideas, mechanically combined by association; that is, there are elements which are not in themselves experiential or a posteriori. On the contrary, by these forms which are peculiar to thought as such, and a priori, the chaotic materials of knowledge are organised and become intelligible, good, and beautiful. All experience, in order to have meaning, must be ordered in certain categories natural to the mind itself; and it is the function of criticism to point out these categories or a priori forms severally and in detail. To these forms he applies the term "transcendental," as opposed to the empirical contents, which are "phenomenal."

He investigates sense-perception in the section on "transcendental aesthetic," discovering the forms of space and time, which belong respectively to the "outer sense " and the "inner sense"; and thought, in the "transcendental analytic" and "dialectic," discovering the categories of logical process (Verstand) and the transcendental "ideas of the reason" (Vernunft), God, freedom, and immortality. Similarly, he finds in the practical life the a priori form of duty, the categorical imperative; and in the life of sentiment the norms of aesthetic judgment, which are the forms of appreciation or "taste."

All these transcendental elements of knowledge, action, and appreciation are present in experience, organising the manifold of unordered data into a world of actual phenomenal objects. They do not have any [p. 21] further application; since "reason without sense is empty, as sense without reason is blind." The supposed real world, the world an sich, independent of experience, although postulated by the reason, remains a "thought-world," noumenal as opposed to phenomenal, inaccessible, unknown. Thus the ideas of the reason, God, freedom, immortality, remain mere postulates or demands, instruments of organisation, so far as the reason is concerned. The attempt to apply them to a "noumenal" world leads to insoluble contradictions--the "antinomies of the pure reason."

This limitation upon the application of the forms of knowledge applies equally to the inner world, to the self. Knowledge stops with the empirical or phenomenal self; it does not reach the noumenal ego. The a priori forms are such only in the structure of knowledge, of which they are the logical conditions; they do not justify the assertion of a substantial self, any more than that of a substantial world.

The process of " transcendental apperception"--Kant's rendering of the synthetic and reflective function, called by Leibnitz "apperception"--does not escape the degradation to phenomenalism, due to its operation upon experiential data. The two sides of experience, the known world and the known self, coalesce in the one organised experience. On the right, but inaccessible, is a postulated real world; on the left, equally inaccessible, is a postulated real self. Knowledge is powerless to reach either the one or the other. In this conclusion as to the nature and limitations of knowledge, Kant is both a powerful antagonist and powerful ally of David Hume. His criticism--assuming its validity--refutes the sensational and associational theory of knowledge, simply by reverting, when [p. 22] all is said, to the "inner sense" of Locke, a native function. But Kant differs from Locke in denying that the inner sense, or the outer either, reaches reality as such. The a priori principles of organisation are not causal or ontological grounds of objective construction, but merely its logical conditions. In this he brings logical justification to the agnosticism, present but undeveloped, in the sensationalism of Hume. If Kant had stopped, as Hume did, with the theory of cognition, he would have stood before the world, instead of the latter, as the father of modern agnosticism. So far as experience itself is concerned, however, the inner sense, a subjective principle of apperception, is reinstated as over against all mechanical explanations of the composition of experience, both inner and outer alike. Here the two idealists, Kant and Berkeley, agree; logical criticism joins hands with psychological subjectivism. And the development of modern idealism in its various forms, proceeding from this point, is made possible. This is the gain, at any rate, accruing to psychology from Kant's criticism of the pure reason.

To the form of the practical reason, the categorical imperative, Kant attributes a different value. In the practical life, the ideas of the reason find their further justification. In the absolute imperative of duty, the postulates of God, freedom, and immortality, are found to be "constitutive," not merely "regulative"; and a world of values is revealed, absolute in character. In this way a sort of moral idealism, a Socratic justification of the true by the good, issues from the Kantian critiques; a justification not in a relative, pragmatic, or utilitarian, but in an absolute sense, since the good is the moral ideal, which with Kant, as with Plato, is [p. 23] absolute. The soul as a reality is characterised as a free and immortal agent.

The third of the Kantian critiques, the Critique of Judgment (meaning judgment of appreciation, aesthetic in character, is less developed than the other two, but in the outcome it adds an important thought. The opposition found to exist between reason and practice does not amount to a theoretical contradiction. Reason is purely logical in its character and phenomenal in its function, while practice, although phenomenal in fact, is absolute in its ideal. How, it may be asked, can the universal ideal of conduct be guaranteed any more than the universal postulate of truth? If the former has application beyond experience, why has not the latter also?

In the Critique of Judgment, Kant finds, or at least intimates, a mode of reconciliation of logic and practice, of theoretical and practical reason, in the domain of feeling. Putting the matter in our own terms, which develop the idea Kant seems to have had rather obscurely in mind, we may explain as follows.

The purely formal postulates of the theoretical reason represent an ideal of organisation of contents or truths --a logical ideal--which, in view of its purely regulative character, as means and not end, has no right to go beyond phenomena: this in so far justifies the result of the Critique of Pure Reason. on the other hand, the formal postulate of the practical reason, the categorical imperative, represents a teleological ideal, not a logical one: it is an end, not a means. This in so far justifies the outcome of the Critique of Practical Reason. But the further question arises, how can the ideal end of the practical reason receive any content whereby it may become after all more than a formal [p. 24] principle? The answer is that it can lose its formal character and become the ideal Good only as it is informed by the intelligence. This Kant agrees to. The practical ideal justifies the theoretical, the good supports the true; but it is for the sake of and because of the good. The true becomes absolute because an intelligible good requires that it should be so. God, freedom, immortality, postulated by practice, are informed with meaning by the intelligence.

Is there, it may be asked, any more intrinsic bond between the true and the good, between the theoretical and the practical reason, than this And this is also to ask: Is there any bond between the formal or a priori as such, which the reason legislates, and the concrete facts and motives of life which sensible experience contains?

The more intrinsic bond in both these senses is to be found in the domain of feeling; this is what is intimated by Kant in the Critique of Judgment--the judgment of taste or appreciation. In appreciation, felt and judged, the universal loses its purely logical character, as mere rule of organisation, through the reinstatement, in imaginative or "semblant" form, of something concrete. The good, likewise, loses its purely teleological character as formal ideal of the will. Both become "as-if-actual" in the realisation that the judgment of appreciation discloses, according to its own rule of taste. The ideal of beauty is that of the immediate realisation of values of both sorts; and in the postulate of complete and final aesthetic fulfilment, the opposition between the ideals of intelligence and will, no less than that between particular and universal, is overcome.[1]

[p. 25] If Kant had worked this fully out, his kinship with Plato would have become more apparent. Plato also sought for the real union of the true and the good in love and contemplation, affective in character. Both were in this sense pancalists.[2] In Plato this issues in the absolute, while in Kant it secures merely the objective thing (not the thing in itself) of our imaginative faculty, which is disinterested and common to all individuals.

It is worth while to bring out this neglected and in itself undeveloped side of the Kantian philosophy; for it is of high psychological interest. Kant opposed the psychologising tendencies of Locke and Hume, claiming himself to take up the purely logical point of view of considering experience as a system of organised objective data. He distinguished the problem of the origin of knowledge from that of its validity. This did very well for the pure reason; and the method was in the main consistently maintained by him. But in the criticism of the norms of the practical reason a departure is noticeable in the direction of a hospitality to other than logical, to moral and psychological, grounds of validity. In the critique of aesthetic judgment the lapse from grace is complete. The judgment of taste is studied largely as a psychological process; it proceeds according to an a priori rule or norm, but it is not submitted to the rules of the concepts of the understanding. The "harmony " of the aesthetic object is due to the harmony or full agreement of the faculties.

[p. 26] In the result, the gain to psychology -- or to "anthropology," as Kant would put it -- is mainly in the treatment of the non-intellectual functions, will, moral judgment, and esthetic appreciation. The Critique of Pure Reason, which contains the discussion of knowledge, is so run through with logical classifications and distinctions, and so permeated with ex parte argumentation, that psychology proper profits little from it. For example, the table of categories of the intelligence, showing symmetrical four-times-three headings, follows from the fourfold distinction of attributes of judgment -- quantity, quality, relation, and modality -- of the scholastic logic.[3]

Similarly, the arguments cited to prove the a priori character of space are deductive and lacking in experiential basis. Kant says that space is the native form in which alone the perception of extended objects is possible, because while we call think of space from which all objects have been removed, we cannot think of objects from which space as extension is removed. But why may not empty space be an abstract concept drawn from the property of extension in objects, the extension which, according to Descartes, was -- for much the same reason as this of Kant -- the very essence of body? Descartes maintained this on the ground that while other properties of external objects were relative, [p. 27] the spatial properties were necessary to the conception of body as such.

Kant's argument would apply equally to colour. We cannot think of empty space without some colour -- grey, white, black, or what not. Colour must, then, be an a priori form of the external sense.

Kant entrenched the faculty-psychology more firmly by his sharp distinctions of sense, intelligence, and reason. These remind us of the different souls, or "parts" of the soul, of Plato. Sense gives order to objects in space and time, intelligence relates them in synthetic categories, and reason imposes the regulative ideals of all knowledge. And yet with all this formal apparatus, Kant also finds functional motives at work. He follows Tetens in the distinction of intellect, feeling, and will--the beginning of the modern threefold classification of the mental functions. Intellect and will refer to objects, feeling to the self.[4] He broadened the definition of apperception to include the synthesis effected a priori in perception; and he used the term "inner sense"[5] for the functional aspect of consciousness as a whole.

Kant's teaching in regard to imagination (Einbildungskraft), obscure as it is, shows his more direct psychological instinct at work. Imagination, he says, plays a part between perception and thought, throwing the manifold of sense, by a sort of first synthesis, into "schemata " for the work of the intelligence. He takes [p. 28] up, that is, the point made by the mystics of the Renaissance.[6]

This is, as we have pointed out elsewhere,[7] sufficiently close to the newer view of the imagination-considered as the function that entertains assumptions and hypotheses, suggests alternatives and proposes suggestions, preliminary to the formation of judgments--to justify the adoption of Kant's term "schema" (with "schematise") for this very vital function of cognition. In the Critique of Judgment, also, Kant gives the imagination the all-important place in aesthetic production, as Aristotle had done.

With it all, however, we must say that nothing short of the abandonment of the ultra-logical point of view could have integrated these and other bits of good psychology in the Kantian system.

Kant explicitly declared that a positive science of psychology was impossible. He contended that the matter was not amenable to mathematical treatment, and also that the relative and mobile character of mental states precluded exact observation. We cannot observe an emotion without altering it. Moreover, the flow of mental process has only one dimension, its order in time.

On the whole, we may observe that Kant's mind was so filled with the fact of unity in all the mind's products, especially in the objects of knowledge, and so convinced of the inadequacy of the mechanical explanations of the associationists, that he detected synthesis everywhere: synthesis logical and psycho- [p. 29] logical, synthesis a priori and a posteriori, the syntheses effected by different faculties often duplicating one another. This gives him his place in history. He offered a new method and made fruitful coordinations which were made use of by his successors in a more constructive and synthetic idealism. His theory of knowledge revives Aristotle's doctrine of matter and form; but he applied it to organised experience instead of to vital organisms. This is in itself a suggestive commentary on the progress of the subjective and logical points of view.

The Faith Philosophy: Jacobi. -- The extremes reached by Spinoza and Kant in rationalistic absolutism and scepticism, respectively, were the signal for a return to feeling. A movement sprang up, similar to the earlier developments in the direction of mysticism after periods of abstract logical thought -- the early Greek Mystics, the Neo-Platonists, the German Mystics, those of the Renaissance. Kant's destructive criticism of logical dogmatism, Luther's return to justification by faith, the prevalence of quietistic and pietistic views, the reaction of the Roman Church to authority, in opposition to the Reformation -- all conspired to produce a doctrine of immediate knowledge or intuition in opposition to mediate and discursive reason.

This doctrine found its exponent in F. H. Jacobi (1743-1819), a late contemporary of Kant. In him it issued in a conscious and critical attempt to justify faith, both as a substitute for rational or conceptual knowledge and as a method of philosophising, in the place of argumentation. As to the first of these, Jacobi declares that there can be no other outcome for rational philosophy than that of Spinoza, which is atheistic; and [p. 30] as to the, second, that there is no result from the use of argument save materialism. He attempts positively to define and justify faith as an organ of apprehension. It is immediate, not mediate; an act, not a process. Both sensible fact and supersensible reality are known immediately by faith. Faith may be produced through argument, and aroused by imagination; but it is different from both of these: it renders its results by a necessity of feeling.

Later on in life Jacobi identified faith with the pure reason (Vernunft), interpreting this, however, as feeling. He used the term intuition (Anschauung) for this mode of apprehension through feeling, and so made himself a forerunner of the Scottish 8 and other later philosophers of intuition.[9]

The faith philosophy, called "fideism," is noteworthy as an effort to justify feeling- as an organ of immediate knowledge.[10] It does not attempt, with the older mysticism, to utilise feeling as exemplified in trance states merely, as the vehicle of aspiration and religious enthusiasm. on the contrary, it sees in faith a normal and universal mental attitude. In this it affords a further step--as the theory of imagination in Aristotle and the Renaissance mystics was one step, and the theory of practical reason in Kant, with which Jacobi [p. 31] himself connects his own view, was a second--towards a psychological and experiential doctrine of intuition.

We may say that the stream which embodied the affective motive-arising in primitive psychology and in the Greek and oriental mysteries, and entering into philosophy in the divine Love of Plato--divided itself into two currents. One of these kept to the direct methods of absorption, ecstasy, negation of thought in pure feeling; the other showed a growing effort to justify feeling, along with, or in competition with, intellect and will, as an organ of the apprehension of reality. In Jacobi, the latter assumes the form of a reasoned affectivism, and takes its stand, along with intellectualism and voluntarism, as an alternative of reflection.

In the new interest in aesthetics and the growing enthusiasm for fine art, born of Romanticism find appearing at its highest in Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing, another current of affective psychology[11] was also gathering force. It was present in the same generation in the pancalistic suggestions of Kant's Critique of Judgment, already spoken of, and reappears, as we shall see, in Schelling and Lotze.


[1] Although to say that this can be rendered in "judgment," strictly speaking, is in a way to let in the nose of the logical
camel again.

[2] A term suggested by the present writer, Thought and Things, Vol. III, Chap. XV, for the developed view of this type. See the account of the more explicitly pancalistic views of Schelling, below.

[3] This tendency appears in high light in Kant's attempt to correlate the three fundamental functions, intellect, feeling, and will, with the three stages in the process of formal thinking as recognised in logic--concept (term), judgmental (proposition), and conclusion. The concept corresponded to intellect, and the conclusion to will (seeing that will is merely formal, having no rational content); and judgment being the only function left over, must correspond to feeling. It is on such grounds as this that Kant's third Critique is called Kritik der Urteilskraft. See Bernard's translation of the Critique of Judgment, Introduction (1892).

[4] Tetens had distinguished intellect and will, as "active," from feeling, as "passive." This writer also distinguished sensation in the Kantian sense (Empfindlichkeit) as referring to an object, from feeling.

[5] In the Anthropology. Yet by the inner sense, Kant also sometimes means the mere ordering of the phenomena of self-consciousness in time (so in the transcendental aesthetic).

[6] See above, Vol. I, Chap. VII.

[7] In Thought and Things, Vol. I, Chap. VIII, and Vol. II throughout. The work of Meinong, Über Annahmen, also emphasises this role of imagination, placing it, as Kant does, between perception and judgment.

[8] The intuitions of the mind are described in J. McCosh's Realistic Philosophy as "primitive beliefs."

[9] "The understanding." says Jacobi, "produces notions, of notions, from notions," in a passage written quite in the spirit of the most modern a-logism.

[10] "There is a light in my heart, but it goes out whenever I attempt to bring it into the understanding. ... Which of these two is the true luminary? . . . Can the human spirit grasp the truth unless it possesses these two luminaries united in one light?"--quoted from Jacobi by Schwegler, History of Philosophy in Epitome, Eng. trans. (1886), p. 318.

[11] See this heading in Chapter VI, below in this volume.