Classics in the History of Psychology

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York University, Toronto, Ontario
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A Reconciliation Between Structural And Functional Psychology [1]

Mary Whiton Calkins (1906)

First published in Psychological Review, 13, 61-81.

Posted March 2000

In his address, delivered last August in Capetown before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor George H. Darwin thus contrasts the, biological and the physical sciences: "The biologist," he says, "adopting as his unit the animal as a whole, discusses its relationships to other animals and to the surrounding condition. The physicist *** is irresistibly impelled to form theories as to the intimate constitution of the ultimate parts of matter." By these words Mr. Darwin indicates a distinction between two fundamental scientific procedures: on the one hand, the study of the scientific phenomenon as a complex of elements, on the other hand, the study of it as related to its environment. The first is known as the structural, the second -- for reasons that I shall later elaborate -- may be named the functional method in science.

Mr. Darwin's special purpose in distinguishing between these two scientific conceptions is, as he says, to discuss "the extent to which ideas, parallel to those which have done so much toward elucidating the problems of life hold good, also, in the world of matter. I believe," Mr. Darwin adds, "that it will be possible to show that in this respect there exists a re- [p. 61] semblance between the two realms of nature which is not mere fanciful."[2] And his conclusion is that communities of atoms, no less than communities of animals or even than political communities, are subordinated to the law of natural selection, in other words that they are in a perpetual struggle for existence. Their 'stability,' he asserts, is "a property of relationship to surrounding conditions. *** The existence of some is so precarious that the chemist in his laboratory can, barely retain them for a moment; others are so stubborn that he can barely break them up. *** The more persistent or more stable combinations succeed in their struggle for life."

For the purposes of this address, the significant feature of the passage I have quoted is not its specific application of the conception of natural selection to atoms -- but its extension, to the whole domain of science, of the doctrine that all phenomena are fundamentally related to environment and must be studied from the standpoint of these relationships. Such an extension of the functional procedure does not, however, it must next be observed, interfere with the constant validity of the structural procedure -- the analysis of phenomena into elements. Mr. Darwin does not suppose that the physicist will cease to feel an irresistible interest in the intimate constitution of the ultimate parts of matter because he interests himself, also, in the relations among each other of these very ultimate parts. What Mr. Darwin is trying to accomplish is in fact not the annihilation but the supplementation of the old method of analysis. He is arguing that a physical or a chemical phenomenon has both to be analyzed into its elements and to be described as a complex of relationships with coordinate phenomena. He claims, in other words, that the biologist holds no exclusive right to the functional method, or -- as he might well add -- the physicist to the structural method.

I have dwelt at such relative length on Mr. Darwin's discussion, because I wish to make his plea for the union of the two -- [p. 63] scientific conceptions the basis of this evening's address before the American Association of Psychology. In contemporary psychology, the two procedures, structural and functional, are too often opposed to the point of mutual exclusion. The structural psychologist is often wont to ignore functional relations and the functional psychologist to condemn structural psychology as an artificial, abstract, and inadequate account of consciousness. The object of this paper is to show that the two conceptions, structural and functional, are readily combined, if only the basal fact of psychology be conceived as a conscious self, that is, as a self-being-conscious. The combination of the two procedures is -- I shall argue -- in this way made possible, because a self-being-conscious is not only analyzable into elements but is also a complex of relations to its environment, social and physical. In more detail, my procedure in this paper will be as follows: I shall first attempt to describe the nature of the psychologist's self, distinguishing it as basal phenomenon of psychology on the one hand from the psychic event -- the mental process or idea -- and on the other hand from the biologist's, the philosopher's, and the sociologist's self. I shall next try to show that this psychologist's self is rightly conceived as fundamental both to structural and to functional psychology, and that it should therefore be studied by both methods. I shall, finally, point out that psychic experiences may adequately be described in terms of such a self.


By self as psychic fact I mean what the plain man means by self, in so far as this does not involve the view that body constitutes part of a self.[3] This conscious self, the plain man's self, in the developed form in which we commonly study it, is in the first place realized as underlying the experiences of the moment -- as having percepts, images, and the like, or, more exactly, as 'perceiving,' 'imagining,' and 'feeling.' And, in the second place, every self, besides being fundamental to its own ideas or experiences, is also a related self. That is to say, I [p. 64] am always conscious of myself as in some way related to my environment, social. or physical.

This doctrine of the self as the fundamental psychic phenomenon must be defended, first of all, from the counter-theory that the basal fact of psychology is the psychic event, and its corollary that a self is a mere series or system of such psychic events. The psychic fact, conceived after this second fashion, has been named by Locke the 'idea,' by Hume the 'perception,' by Spencer the 'feeling.' Titchener, one of the most consistent of modern upholders of the structural doctrine, calls the psychic event 'mental process.' Locke's term, 'idea,'[4] seems to me the simplest and the best to designate the psychic phenomenon from this point of view: the fact of consciousness, considered as strictly individual, in artificial isolation from other facts, and -- in particular -- considered quite apart from any self or mind. As thus employed, in Locke's fashion, the term 'idea' of course covers emotion, belief, and volition as well as percept, image, and thought.

I have on other occasions argued that psychology, thus conceived as dealing with ideas, that is, with psychic events, is a perfectly consistent science, and that every sort of concrete conscious experience, thought and volition quite as well as percept and image, may be described simply as consisting of certain elements of consciousness. But in spite of the abstract possibility of conceiving consciousness as a series of ideas and psychology as the science of this stream of, ideas, I am none the less convinced ,that not the idea but the self should be taken as the basal fact of psychology. There are two reasons for the superiority of this self-doctrine. In the first place, the idea is itself an abstraction which invariably implies a self. And, in the second place, the description of consciousness through the analysis of ideas is not a full and adequate account of actual conscious experience. These assertions must be separately considered.

Every idea implies a self somewhat as every sector implies [p. 65] a circle, or as every cell implies an animal body. No one can conceive of an idea except as the idea of a self: in other words, the idea is immediately and unavoidably known to be somebody's idea. In the words of Lipps, "the immediately experienced I (das unmittelbar erleble Ich) is the central point of the life of consciousness. To every content of consciousness," he adds, "belongs this relatedness to the I."[5]

One may find, indeed, in every manual of psychology confirmation, intended or unintended, of this assertion that the idea, the psychic event, always implies the self as its necessary background.[6] One may gain warrant, also, for the second count in the indictment, the charge that the idea, or psychic event, when conceived as basal fact of psychology, is not merely an abstraction, but an abstraction in terms of which conscious experiences are not adequately described. This follows from what has been said concerning the related nature of the self. Obviously, the experiences of a self, which is a bundle of relations both to selves and to things, need a further statement than that in terms of a succession of its own ideas. This is as evident as that the full description of a given animal must not merely enumerate the different structures of which its body consists, but must indicate its reactions on its environment -- must tell, for example, whether it is graminivorous or carnivorous, and whether it swims or walks.

To this inadequacy of idea-psychology I shall recur in the final section of this paper. For the present it is necessary to add to this distinction of the self from the idea as sharp a contrast as can be drawn between the psychologist's self, thus defined, and the biologist's, the philosopher's, and the sociologist's self. [p. 66]

By self as fundamental fact of psychology is not meant, in the first place, the psycho-physical organism, body plus consciousness or body regarded as possessed of consciousness. To this conception of the psycho-physical organism as psychic fact, the objection is, very briefly, that the doctrine belongs not to psychology at all, but to biology. Biological science may very properly study the nature, the relations and the development of the whole animal regarded as a body which has consciousness,[7] but psychology, if a science at all and not a mere department of biology, is a 'science of consciousness,' and as such cannot properly adopt as its basal phenomenon a complex of physical and psychical. The practical outcome of such a combination is, I think, as Titchener suggests,[8] that the psychical comes to be regarded not as coordinate with the physical but as function of it, so that the fact I 'that these underlying processes are psychical becomes an accident.'

It is equally necessary to insist that the psychologist's self is not identical with the philosopher's. A self as psychic fact is not an object of philosophical argument but of immediate consciousness. In other words, no question arises of its ultimate nature: it is taken for granted, as any object of any science is, without further investigation. Just as a mineralogist takes for granted that there are stones; and just as a zoologist takes for granted that there are animal bodies, so a psychologist takes for granted the existence of selves.

It is impossible to lay too great stress on this distinction between the philosopher's and the psychologist's self, since the tendency to confuse the two is responsible, I think, for the opposition on the part of the structural psychologists to the view here maintained, and thus for the counter theory that the self, as far as psychology is concerned with it, is a mere sum or [p. 67] series of ideas. The strength of this Humian doctrine has lain in the supposition that the only alternative to it is a philosophy of the self. But though sound philosophy is based on psychology and may well start, as Descartes's did, from the myself as immediately observed, yet psychology need not and should not reach over into philosophy. Psychology does not reason about the place of its selves in total and ultimate reality, but simply accepts them on their face value as observed facts.

The related self as basal psychic phenomena should be distinguished, finally, from the fundamental fact of sociology, namely, the social organism. The basal fact of psychology is the individual self in its relations, primarily social; the unit of sociology is the interrelated system of selves. Psychology, in other words, lays stress on the individual, while insisting that the individual is constituted, in great part, by its social relationships; sociology emphasizes the family, the state, the community, though recognizing the individuals as its members. The relation of psychology to sociology is, in fact, closely similar to that between physiology and zoölogy. As the basal fact, or unit, of psychology is the socially related individual, so the basal fact of physiology is the single body -- studied, to be sure, as related to environing bodies. And somewhat as the unit of sociology is the community, the unit of zoology is the species.

To this conception of the self as basal fact of psychology, it is often objected that self-consciousness is late in making its appearance and that psychology as science of consciousness of every sort must concern itself with psychic facts below the level of self-consciousness. I take direct issue with this common doctrine, believing that there is no consciousness which is not self-consciousness. Of course, there is an illimitable difference between the developed consciousness which is that of every psychologizing self, and the undifferentiated consciousness of sleepy adult, of baby, or of animal. Obviously, the baby, the animal, and the sleepy adult do not make the contrast which the psychologist makes, between the self and its experiences or ideas, nor yet between the self and its environment. But one never has consciousness, the sleepiest or most inchoate, which does not involve an experience qualitatively similar to that later [p. 68] consciousness which every one agrees to call self-consciousness. This simplest self-consciousness is not a reflective distinction of self from environment, though it 'may later be replaced by such reflective consciousness. But anything less than self-consciousness would not be consciousness at all: to be conscious is to be conscious of a conscious self.

The only ground for denying this plain outcome of introspection is the old confusion between the implicit consciousness of self, often vague and undifferentiated, belonging to every experience, and either the discriminating self-consciousness of the reflective adult or, more developed still, the philosophically reflected-on self of the metaphysician. The psychologist concerns himself not at all with this philosopher's self; but he has to do with the undeveloped self-consciousness, a self which one remembers from one's own sleepy states and imputes to animals and to babies, and primarily, he is interested in the developed self-consciousness of the adult.[9]


I have so far been concerned to make clear the conception of the conscious self as basal fact of psychology. I have now to show that this conception facilitates, and indeed necessitates, a union between structural and functional psychology. To make this point, I shall try to show that each of these terms; structural arid functional, is ordinarily made to cover both a doctrine of psychological analysis and a doctrine concerning the basal fact [p. 69] of psychology. I shall argue (1) that structural psychologists and one group (but one group only) of functional psychologists are unjustified in their doctrines of the basal psychic phenomenon; but that (2) in their doctrines of psychological analysis, both structural and functional psychology are right: the analysis of the one supplements that of the other -- in Professor Angell's words, every description of function involves some reference to structural elements, just as the actual functions themselves involve structure.[10] Finally (3), I shall argue that both sorts of analysis, structural and functional, are essential to an adequate self-psychology.

I shall develop this conception, first, with reference to structural psychology. According to a, common prejudice, the analysis into elements, sensational, affective, and the like, necessarily involves the assumption that the analyzed psychic phenomenon is the psychic event or idea. Thus, structural psychology becomes synonymous with idea-psychology. But the artificialness and inadequacy of this conception of the psychic unit as idea has already been shown. Certainly, the idea is not the immediately observed, basal psychic phenomenon. And for this reason, the functional psychologists are wont to decry and to oppose what they call the structural psychology. They overlook the fact that the really characteristic feature of the structural psychology is not at all its atomistic unit, but rather its analytic procedure. Structural psychology consists essentially in the teaching that the task of psychology is first, to analyze typical experiences until one reach irreducible elements, and second, to classify the ordinary sorts of complex experience according as one or another of these elements pre dominates. The structural psychologist may, and does, supplement this analysis and classification by seeking for each experience or typical class of experiences a scientific explanation -- that is, by seeking to link it with other facts, or groups of fact, whether psychic, physiological, or physical. Thus, the percept, for example, is conceived as psychic complex in which sensational elements predominate, is further classified as visual, [p. 70] auditory, and the like, by the preponderance of this or that class of sensational elements, and is explained by being correlated, on the one hand with the excitation of occipital lobe and retina and of corresponding muscles, and on the other hand, with the vibrations of the ether. It must be borne in mind that the analysis and classification are the only essential parts of this procedure, and that the explanation through physical and physiological facts is a useful addition to structural psychology, not an integral part of it.[11]

Now it is past doubt that this structural analysis of a psychic state is always possible. As actually carried out in the past by structural psychologists, the analysis has, to be sure, been often inadequate. But contemporary structural psychology is characterized by a growing fineness of discrimination. This is evident especially in the modern recognition of relational along with sensational and affective elements of consciousness. What Spencer so long ago insisted on is at last being admitted by almost all structural psychologists: that thoughts and recognitions, volitions and beliefs are not adequately described, even from the structural standpoint, as mere complexes of sensation and affection; and that among the irreducible elements fused together in consciousness are the feelings of 'and,' 'like,' 'more ' and 'not' as well as the sensational feelings -- say, of 'blue,' and of 'bright' -- and the affective elements, as 'pleasant' and 'unpleasant.'

But this analysis into structural elements -- it must be insisted -- is not necessarily the analysis of an idea or psychic event: it is, on the other hand, quite as easy to discover the structural elements of consciousness regarded as experience of a self, for though every conscious experience is some relation, simple or complex, of a self to its environment, it is also a complex of different elemental experiences, sensational, affective and the like; and these elemental experiences are of course to be regarded as excited and accompanied by specific bodily conditions. In a word, psychology as science of conscious and [p. 71] related selves may and should undertake the analytic discovery of elements of conscious experiences as such. By virtue of this structural procedure it is truly a structural psychology, though it utterly repudiates the doctrine of the psychic event, or idea, as the basal fact of psychology.

From this effort to demonstrate that self-psychology includes the essential part of structural psychology, I turn to consider the relation between functional and self psychology. Functional psychology, also, is a term which has been used to indicate both a conception of the fundamental fact of psychology and a characteristic sort of psychological analysis. As regards the doctrine of the unit of psychology, functional psychologists are agreed in their well justified opposition to the atomistic conception of the idea as basal fact or unit of psychology. Positively, they present no united front, but many -- perhaps most of them -- conceive the psycho-physical organism as the basal fact of psychology, holding that the concern of psychology is with the relations of -the functioning psycho-physical self, the conscious body, to its environment. This, as I have tried to show, is an unwarranted substitution of a biological for a psychological conception. It seems, furthermore, to form no inherent part of functional psychology; since many functional psychologists do not hold it. Angell, for example, follows up the assertion that the psycho-physical organism is a real unit, by the admissions that I the separation of mind from body may be made in behalf of some one of our theoretical or practical interests.' He says, indeed -- though I do not think that his procedure always conforms to the statement -- that the 'primary task' of psychology 'is to analyze and explain mental facts.'[12] Professor Mead, going further, seems to me expressly to identify the basal fact or unit of psychology with the self, the 'I' or 'subject in persona,' as he calls it, 'the subject that is *** more than an assumption.'[13]

Functional psychologists are, thus, far from unanimous in teaching that the psycho-physical organism is basal fact of psy- [p. 72] chology and are in my opinion, wrong in so far as they hold the doctrine. The truth is, however, that functional, like structural psychology consists essentially not in a doctrine of the unit of psychology, but rather in a type of psychological analysis. As such, it seems to me to embody the following conceptions: first, and fundamentally, the conception of consciousness in terms of the relations to environment which it involves; second, the conception of consciousness in terms of the significance or value of these relations. I shall try to show that functional psychology, conceived after the first fashion, may coincide with self-psychology; and that, viewed in the second manner, it may be supplementary or subordinate to self-psychology.

It can hardly be denied that functional psychology, whatever more it includes, does include this conception of consciousness as experienced relation to environment. This is implied in the reiterated emphasis laid by functional psychologists upon the significance of 'reaction' and 'response.' It is often clearly stated in their definitions. Angell, for example, speaks of sensation as 'the psychical function by which the organism is first brought into contact with its environment';[14] and Dr. Gore describes imagery as functioning 'on the side of response.'[15] But this, which is the characteristic conception of functional psychology, is not merely reconcilable with self-psychology : it is a part of self-psychology. For self-psychology, as truly as functional psychology, regards conscious experiences as relations to environment. Nothing else, indeed, can be meant by the conceptions of activity, passivity, sympathy, and opposition, by which it is necessary to distinguish psychic facts viewed as experiences of a self.[16]

It is true that functional and self psychology, as actually formulated, do not always give identical descriptions of the environment to which the psychic unit is related. The functional psychologist tends to emphasize the physical, or -- more pre- [p. 73] cisely -- the biological environment, whereas the self-psychologist lays stress on the social, or personal, environment. Yet even here, there is substantial agreement. For all functional psychologists, at least implicitly, acknowledge social relationships and Angell even says: "We shall regard all the operations of consciousness as so many expressions of organic adaptations to our environment, an environment which we must remember is social as well as physical."[17] Conversely, though self-psychology, as I conceive it, regards the relations of a self to a personal environment as logically and genetically prior, it also takes account of impersonal emotions and of will directed to external and impersonal situations -- in a word, of an impersonal environment.[18]

The cardinal conception of functional psychology, that of consciousness as involving internal relation to environment, is evidently, therefore, an integral factor of self-psychology. But functional psychology includes the supplementary doctrine that consciousness is to be conceived and classified, not merely as relation in general, but as 'effective' or beneficial relation -- in other words, as a function which has meaning or value. Function, in other words, is defined as 'part played with reference to reaching or maintaining an end.'[19] This doctrine of the functional psychologists -- a symptom or an application of the modern movement in philosophy known as pragmatism -- hardly needs, to be illustrated. It appears in Angell's descriptions of the cognitive functions as 'one of the points at which consciousness is most obviously of value,'[20] and in his statement that I truth or falsehood are impressive names for relatively complete (i.e., successful) and relatively incomplete (i.e., unsuccessful) operations of adaptation'; and in his teaching that in volition I consciousness is selective of the beneficial.' And Dr. Arnold, who has recently come forward in defense of functional theory, says that I perception is studied as giving meaning to the object concerned,' and that I images are to be considered as logical aids to action.[21] [p. 74]

Whatever the nature of this method of describing psychic facts in terms of their utility, such a conception evidently may be harmonized with the doctrine that the psychic self, not the psycho-physical organism, is basal fact of psychology. For surely not merely the bodily organism, but the thinking, feeling, struggling self as well, is capable of more or less 'successful,' 'useful,' and 'complete' relations with its environment, whatever the standard of utility adopted. Keen perception, vivid imagination, subtle thought may strengthen the self in its conscious opposition to environment or in its equally active adaptation. This is merely to say that all experiences tend to the development of self-activity. There is thus no description of a psychic content as promoting efficiency, or as giving meaning, but may be appropriated by the self-psychologist.

This is not the place in which to discuss the more fundamental question whether it is expedient, as well as possible, to regard use or value as technically psychological terms. If such a procedure were carried to its limits, 'a thoroughgoing-functional psychology,' as Angell frankly recognizes, 'must ultimately issue in investigations which are nowadays the exclusive possessions of logic, ethics, and aesthetics, respectively.'[22] I am myself inclined to the conservative view that psychology, though forming both an indispensable basis and a constituent part of aesthetics and ethics, differs from each in so far that it never assumes either value, beauty, or truth as, for purposes of strictly psychological description, an ultimate term. It would follow that the value of a given sort of consciousness would be, from the standpoint of psychology, an allied but not a constituent fact. But I am not now concerned to argue this point. My contention is simply the following: Admitting the propriety of the functional psychologist's descriptions in terms of value, we may still insist that values are primarily personal: in other words, that the terms apply primarily to the self in social relations and not exclusively or necessarily to the psycho-physical organism. [p. 75]

From all this it follows that functional psychology, rightly conceived, is a form of self-psychology, that its basal phenomenon is the psychologist's self, and that its significant contributions to psychology are, first, its doctrine of the inherent relatedness of self to environment, and second, its insistence on the progressive efficiency or utility of these relations. Certain writers known as functional psychologists do, it is true, hold conceptions irreconcilable with those of self-psychology. These are the teachings that the unit of psychology is the psychophysical organism and that the concern of psychology is with the sensori-motor processes of this organism, as such. But it has been shown that this doctrine lacks the assent of many functional psychologists, and that it substitutes for a purely psychological a physiological or a biological conception. Pruned of these biological excrescence, a functional psychology -- as I have tried to show -- is a self-psychology.

The refusal to admit the physiological organism and its processes as genuinely psychological phenomena does not, of course, prevent the acknowledgment of them as correlated facts. The self-psychologist, in other words, takes accounts of the sensori-motor processes, the bodily reactions and attitudes, on which the functional psychologists lay stress, just as he takes account of the neurological phenomena which the structural psychologist emphasizes. He does not, to be sure, hold that either the organism or any movement or attitude of it is in itself a psychic phenomenon, any more than he holds that a nerve excitation is a psychic event. Yet he may and practically does assume that psychic facts are conditioned or accompanied or followed by physiological and biological phenomena. He regards the organism, in other words, as the physiological correlate of the self, and the bodily movements as antecedents, or correlates, or consequences of psychic phenomena. Thus, for him, also, the bodily attitudes and reactions have a special significance in that they serve as adaptations of bodily organism to biological and physical environment.[23]

With this conclusion, I have reached the end of the second section of this paper. I have tried to show that self-psychology, the doctrine that the conscious self is the basal fact of psychology, harmonizes the essential doctrines of a structural and of a functional psychology. I have argued this on the ground that consciousness, which always implies a conscious self, is a complex alike of structural elements and of relations of self to environment. Such a doctrine of psychology forms, I have also attempted to show, a basis for the neurological and biological explanations of psychic fact which are current in psychology.


In the final section of this paper I shall try to justify my general conclusion by a more detailed reference to concrete conscious experiences. I shall aim to show briefly, first, that these actual experiences[24] cannot adequately be described by enumerating their structural elements, and second, that the conception of them as relations of self to environment involves or allows all the teachings essential to functional psychology. (This second purpose cannot be systematically carried out, since -- if I am not mistaken -- no functional psychologist has ever attempted a full and consistent description of all classes of psychic fact in terms of efficiency or of bodily activity. The functional conception has either been employed, to supplement descriptions, in terms of structure, or it has been applied to a few cases only of consciousness.)

In my Introduction to Psychology and in a later monograph, I have attempted in some detail the description of conscious experiences in terms both of structural psychology and of basal [p. 77] personal relations. There is time, this evening, to consider certain cases only which illustrate the fact that self-psychology supplies a principle of description and of classification wholly lacking to structural psychology, and fundamental to the distinctions of functional psychology. The forms of consciousness which I shall try to analyze are three: imagination, emotion, and will. For the dogmatic brevity of my discussion, the limits of my time are responsible.

From the standpoint of an exclusively structural psychology, perception' and imagination are alike complexes of elements mainly, sensational. Külpe and Titchener seem to me to have shown conclusively that no invariable difference -- of vividness, stability or detail -- distinguishes the two.[25] In other words the difference between perception and imagination is, on the basis of structural psychology, physiological, not psychological -- it is the occurrence in the case of perception of end-organ excitation.[26] Self psychology, on the other hand, makes a clear-cut and strictly psychological distinction between perception and imagination: in perceiving, I am or may be conscious of myself as sharing my experience with unparticularized other selves; whereas in imagination this consciousness is inevitably lacking. This description in terms of personal relation is, of course, to be supplemented by a structural analysis. For the enumeration of structural elements, though it does not constitute the complete description of a psychic phenomenon, is an essential part of such a description. Imagination, defined as it should be from both points of view, is a sensational complex; usually lacking maximum stability, vividness and duration, which is reflectively realized as peculiarly the, private experience of 'myself.' On the physiological side, the sensational character of imagination is correlated with specific neural excitations.

Such a description of imagination in terms both of personal relation and of structural elements serves, as well as the purely [p. 78] structural conception, as basis for the characteristic functional doctrine that imagination is stimulus for action. Taken by itself, it should be noted, this I functional' description of imagination would not adequately distinguish it either from perception or from volition.

The study of emotion reveals an even more obvious inadequacy in the structural method. An emotion is readily described by the structural psychologist as a complex of affective elements with sensational experiences, including organic and kinæsthetic sensations. But an emotion is not adequately described in these terms: it does to be sure include the affective and the sensational elements, but it is also the realized personal relation of one self to individualized self or object. This is so evident to introspection that even structural psychologists unwittingly imply the self in their descriptions of affective states, as when Titchener says: "Regarded from the point of view of ordinary life, blue and warm are somehow detachable from, oneself *** whereas pleasantness is always within oneself."[27]

This realized consciousness of self is, of course, most evident in the case of any doubly personal emotion, an emotion for which object as well as subject is a self. Thus it is, in my opinion, utterly impossible, if one adhere solely to the structural standpoint, to distinguish pride from joy, or sympathetic from purely egoistic sorrow. Both pride and joy are pleasant emotions, and, so far as the obscure organic sensation's are made out, both seem to be distinguished by consciousness of bodily conditions involving a general well-being. In a word, pride and joy are not fairly distinguishable till we regard them as personal relations. Then, pride is readily differentiated from joy as involving the comparison of oneself with other selves. Similarly, egoistic and sympathetic grief both are characterized as unpleasant emotions; and both include a vague consciousness of bodily conditions characteristic of bodily depression. No constant organic sensation and no distinction in temporal reference sets one off from the other. The associated ideas may be in both cases the same. Only, from the basis of self-psychology, as it involves the 'consciousness of sharing emotion [p. 79] with other selves, is sympathetic grief distinguishable from grief of the egoistic sort.

Such a view of sympathy, it is evident, is in accordance with the conceptions of functional psychology, if that term be taken in its widest sense to imply a study of consciousness as involving relations to environment. For the selves of whom in pride or in sympathy one is conscious, form an integral part of one's environment. The subordinate features of a functional psychology may also be correlated with this doctrine. For it is certainly possible to describe, in terms of utility, the emotions thus conceived as relations of a self, and the characteristic bodily attitudes which condition or accompany them.[28] It must, however, be admitted that the list of distinguishable bodily attitudes is not so long as that of the different emotions, so that in the end the personal distinctions are necessary for the complete classification of the emotions.

A third notorious instance of the insufficiency of structural psychology is found in its attempt to describe the experience known as will. Introspection seems to bear unequivocal testimony to the distinctive, sui generis character of will -- sharply differentiating our volitional experiences from our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and the rest. In accordance with this observation, structural psychologists once supposed the occurrence of a specific volitional or conative element -- an element which should label an experience volitional, just as an affection constitutes it emotional. But the modern school of structural psychology rightly, as it seems to me, teaches the impossibility of discovering in experience a peculiar volitional element. Accordingly it defines the volition as a complex of elements in which there is a predominance of the sensational elements involved in the experience of muscular effort, and of certain relational elements, as well, if such be recognized.[29] This analysis is, I think, [p. 80] substantially correct;. and yet it does violence to the plain outcome of introspection, which sharply contrasts will with other sorts of consciousness. Obviously, the contrast must be made otherwise than by feigning a fictitious structural element. It is, in truth, a contrast in personal attitude and relation. For will differs from every other conscious experience, in that it involves an active, not a passive, relation of one self to other selves, or -- secondarily -- to impersonal objects or events. This sharp contrast of willing from all other forms of consciousness is, for the most part, readily admitted. It is a commonplace of psychology that we are passive in perceiving -- that we must be conscious of being blinded or overheated or drenched, whether we will or not. Carefully regarded, it will appear, further, that we are victims of our imagination also, that our visions dawn upon us instead of being created by us. Similarly, we lie prostrate, as Goethe says, beneath the weight of our emotions; and even thought is active only as it is voluntary, that is, as it is initiated or accompanied by will. In opposition to the passivity of these experiences, we all of us recognize what we call the activity of will, as of faith. This contrast of activity with passivity is, it is evident, impossible if the basal fact of psychology be the idea: An idea as pulse of consciousness -- as mere temporally located bit of experience -- is definable only in terms of its elements. It is neither passive nor, active, just as it is neither egoistic nor altruistic. And any one who questions this, may convince himself by re-reading Berkeley's "Principles," and by taking note of Berkeley's futile efforts to make the distinction between passive and active ideas, or, in Berkeley's terminology, between ideas and notions.

On the other hand, this conception of the will as active tallies perfectly with the teachings of functional psychology: For, in the first place, it describes will in terms of relation to environment, personal and impersonal; and, in the second place, it may readily take account of the utility for the conscious self of its active relations; and, finally, on the side of physiology, it enumerates the bodily reactions involved in, an active relation to one's environment.

Every conscious experience, might be shown, in parallel [p. 81] fashion, to be both a complex of structural elements and a self as related to environment. This conception and no other does true justice to the rich fullness of the conscious life. Naturally, therefore, it harmonizes the truth in the teachings of structural and of functional psychology. And in so doing, it draws psychology into the forward movement of the sciences. For psychology, conceived as science of structurally analyzable yet socially 'related selves, may be compared with biology, viewed both as the study of the animal in its relation to environing conditions and as a study of cells and tissues; with physics viewed as conception of the struggle for existence of molecules and atoms which yet are analyzable; and with chemistry when regarded both as analysis into irreducible elements and as the study of corpuscles repelled from each other and attracted to the atom as a whole. In truth, the doctrine of self-psychology accomplishes for our science that union of methods which Mr. Darwin outlines as an ideal barely attained by the physical sciences.


1. This paper, substantially as written, was presented, as President's Address, to the American Association of Psychology, at its meeting in Cambridge, December, 1905. The third paragraph on page 67 has been added to meet a criticism made in the course of an informal discussion of the paper.

2. Mr. Darwin extends his supposition, on the one hand, to those communities of negative electricity of which it is now inferred that the atom is composed, and on the other hand to meteoric orbits. (For detail with reference to the hypothesis last named, cf. Part II. of his presidential address, delivered August 30, 1905, at Johannesberg.)

3. For justification of this omission, cf. below, p. 66.

4. By use of this term, Titchener seems to me to invalidate his own conception of mind as 'sum or series of mental processes' (Outline, 3; cf. Primer, 4). A process is not something which can be summed or added; it is, as Titchener himself says, 'a becoming something' (Outline, 2).

5. Leitfaden der Psychologie, S. 2. Lipps has made, furthermore, what unhappily he does not consistently and systematically use, a fruitful distinction between two fundamental attitudes of the I: Einfühlen, in which the I identifies itself with its 'other,' and Gegenüberstehen in which the I opposes itself. Had Lipps but applied this distinction, he would have made of the Leitfaden a significant contribution to systematic psychology.

6. Cf. the passage, often cited, of James's Brief Psychology, p. 153. Cf. also the passage quoted from Titchener, below, p. 98; and the even more instructive definition of 'a mental process' (Outline, 2) as 'any process falling within the range of our experience in the origination and continuance of which we are ourselves necessarily concerned.'

7. Professor Baldwin's Development and Evolution, is a good example of such a primarily biological study. It discusses the 'development and evolution of mind and body taken together.' From such a standpoint, as Baldwin says 'changes in mind and body go on together, and together they constitute the phenomena.' I am not objecting to this procedure, but simply arguing that it is biological, not psychological.

8. Cf. his paper on 'The Postulates of a Structural Psychology,' Philosophical Review, VII., 1898, pp. 449-465.

9. In further elucidation of this distinction, I may quote from my paper on the 'Limits of Comparative and Genetic Psychology': "Animals, if they are conscious at all, must be conscious of selves, for consciousness of any other sort is inconceivable. To be conscious simply means to be conscious of oneself in this or that or the other situation. The only ground for questioning this view is * * * the old tendency to confuse the implicit self-consciousness of every experience, with the definite, reflective self-consciousness of the psychologist or the philosopher. Self-consciousness in the latter sense is as impossible to the animal as to the child, and is properly opposed by the argument: babies and animals because incapable of abstraction are therefore incapable of self-conscious ness. Self-consciousness as a vague, undifferentiated sense of what Hobhouse calls 'self as a pervading identity and permanent character,' every animal which is conscious at all must possess." (British Journal of Psychology, Vol. I, p. 283, January, 1905.)

10. The Relations of Structural and Functional Psychology to Philosophy,' Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, First Series, III., p. 57.

11. It follows that the tendency of some psychologists to treat the physiological and physical analysis as primary is fundamentally untrue to the principles of structural psychology.

12. Psychology, p. 6.

13. 'The Definition of the Psychical,' Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, First Series, Vol. III., Part II., pp. 104 seq.

14. Op. Cit. in Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, Series I., Vol. III., Part II., p. 58.

15. 'Image and Idea in Logic,' in 'Studies in Logical Theory,' Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, Series II., Vol. XI., p. 196.

16. Cf. pp. 76 seq. of this paper.

17. Psychology, p. 7.

18. Cf. my Introduction to Psychology, pp. 276 seq., 309 ; Der dopfielte Standpunkt in der Psychologie, pp. 63, 74.

19. J. Dewey, 'The Reflex Arc Concept,' Psychological Review, Vol. III., p. 365, 1906.

20. Decennial Publications, op. cit., pp. 64, 65.

21. Psychological Bulletin, II. p. 372, November, 1905. Cf. the common description of the function of a psychical state as 'that of reconstruction of the disintegrated coordination.' Mead, op. cit., p. 106 seq. Cf. Dewey, op. cit., pp. 358, 361, et al.; and Bawden, Philos. Rev., 1902, 1903.

22. Decennial Publications, op. cit.

23. This way of regarding the bodily reactions as objective external facts, parallel with forms of consciousness, does not of course, do away with the possibility of analyzing the consciousness of any bodily movement into elements of consciousness, mainly sensational. Thoughtful functional psychologists find no difficulty in admitting this. Cf. Dewey, op. cit., p. 364: "Motion as psychically described, is just as much sensation as is sound or light or burn." Cf. also, the sentence quoted from Angell on page 69. For an example of the false opposition of function to structure, cf. Felix Arnold (already quoted on page 73) in the Psychological Bulletin, op. cit., p. 372.

24. It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that I use the term 'experience,' or the pleonasm 'conscious experience,' not as opposite of ' thought' but as convenient synonym for' a consciousness,' that is, as a general term, covering perception, thought, emotion -- in a word, all sorts of consciousness.

25. Grundriss der Psychologie, 33, 6 seq; Outline of Psychology, 43.

26. In a review of my Der doppelle Standpunkt in der Psychologie (Jour of Psy., Phil., etc., Dec., 1905), Professor M. P. Washburn suggests that the ' feeling of realness' should or might be taken as the distinction of perception structurally regarded. Waiving other objections, I may observe that this would obliterate the distinction between perception and belief.

27. Outline, 32 (I), p. 95.

28. From the structural standpoint, consciousness of these attitudes is, of course, part of the emotion.

29. I have chosen, in the interests of a convenient terminology, to limit the term 'volition' to idea-psychology, conceiving a volition as an idea distinguished by the accompanying 'feeling of necessary connection with a future real.' (For elaboration of this view, cf. my Introduction to Psychology, pp. 299 seq.; Der doppelte Standpunkt in der Psychologie, pp. 74 seq.) Of course, this is an entirely arbitrary limitation of the term volition, which might as reasonably be employed as synonym of will. Whatever the terms chosen it certainly is expedient to distinguish the two conceptions.