[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination
Can you say more about what you mean by "seeing as genesis"?
On Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <email@example.com> wrote:
> Hi David and Henry,
> I did a search on associationism and it is interesting how it came into
> being. It's a little digression perhaps from our quest on imagination, but
> it seems a little digression that may be germane! if not somewhat
> In a web display of the book, A History Of The Association Psychology
> (1921) by Warren at archive.org I found the genesis of the concept of
> associationism, which evidently came from Locke's "association of ideas," a
> phrase he used in an added chapter to a later edition of "Essay concerning
> Human Understanding."
> Below I'm pasting in the first (and short) section of Chapter One, just to
> keep the conversation rolling here!
> The reason I'm interested in this is because Locke in his search for
> understanding Human Understanding was looking at this from an
> epistemological standpoint, not psychological. I thought this relevant to
> our recent considerations of perception and its link to imagination (in
> light of the Strawson paper).
> In other words, the lift (or burial, depending on how one views it) that
> the Associationists gave the term, in context of English psychology,
> perhaps has a different meaning than what we are exploring here, if we are
> exploring this from an epistemological angle, that is. In other words, from
> Locke's POV.
> Seeing as genesis is important to us, I thought I'd throw this into the
> Kind regards,
> >From Chapter One:
> Origins of the Term "Association of Ideas" (p 3-6)
> The phrase _association of ideas_ was first used by John Locke. In the
> fourth edition (1700) of his 'Essay concerning Human Understanding' he
> inserted a new chapter, entitled "Of the Association of Ideas," in which he
> discusses the connections between experiences.
> "Some of our ideas," he says, "have a natural correspondence and
> connection with one another: it is the office and excellency of our reason
> to trace these and hold them together in that union and correspondence
> which is founded in their peculiar beings. Besides this, there is another
> connection of ideas that in themselves are not at all of kin come to be so
> united in some men's minds that it is very hard to separate them; they
> always keep in company, and the one no sooner at any time comes into the
> understanding, but its associate appears with it; and if they are more than
> two which are thus united, the whole gang, always inseparable, show
> themselves together. This strong combination of ideas not allied by nature
> the mind makes in itself either voluntarily or by chance, and hence it
> comes in different men to be very different, according to their different
> inclinations, education, interests, etc."
> We are indebted to Locke for a term which later gained currency as applied
> to a doctrine of peculiar prominence in English psychology; of such
> prominence, indeed, that the system of psychology which these writers
> worked out came to be known as _Associationism_. Furthermore, the
> exposition of mental association in various parts of Locke's 'Essay'
> furnished important data to the theory subsequently developed. But it
> should be noted at the outset that the epoch-making character of Locke's
> work in this field consists only in in his introduction of the term
> 'association of ideas.' He neither founded the doctrine of association nor
> did he fix the historical significance of the name which he coined.
> First, the laws of the association of remembered images according to
> similarity, contrast, and contiguity were originally formulated by
> Aristotle, who furnished hints of an association of _sensations_ as well.
> These suggestions long escaped notice owing to the lack of interest in such
> problems. In modern times also, the notion of an associated sequence of
> thought was worked out in some detail, prior to Locke, by Thomas Hobbes,
> and his treatment furnished the model for later discussions of the subject.
> Locke emphasizes the _fact_, but does not work out the _manner_ of
> association. This latter problem, one of the most notable features of the
> association psychology, rests historically on Aristotle's classification,
> which has been taken up and modified in various ways by writers of the
> association school; Hobbe's view of association as the mode of succession
> of ideational experiences is generally adopted as a starting-point in the
> Again, the term _idea_ was used by Locke in a broader sense than that
> fixed by later usage. Thus, When Locke speaks of the association of ideas
> he has reference to possible connections between _all sorts of mental
> content_; whereas from the time of David Hume onward the phrase refers to
> connections between _representative_ data only. Locke's term has been
> retained, but its application is narrowed to a portion of the field to
> which he assigned it. This permanent fixing of the expression _association
> of ideas_ with an altered meaning given to the term _idea_, has exerted
> some influence on the development of the doctrine itself. The connection
> between sensations, as for example in perception, has been ignored by some
> writers, while others have treated it as another sort of union, distinct
> from association. Where the union of sensations has been classed under the
> same general principles as associations between representative elements,
> the exposition has been weakened by the inappropriateness of the accepted
> Finally, it should be borne in mind that the problem of association as
> Locke conceived it was an ethical and pedagogical one, not a problem of
> psychological analysis. He nowhere seeks to determine the different modes
> of connection between experiences as Hobbes has done. His real aim is to
> trace the rise of _wrong_ associations and suggest practical remedies for
> the errors of judgment and action to which they lead. In the passage quoted
> Locke grants that a natural connection between ideas exists as well as
> chance association; but it is the associations of chance or custom, their
> origin, and the means of preventing and overcoming them, that constitute
> the material of his inquiry. The chapter on association was an
> afterthought, not an essential part of the 'Essay'; and although in harmony
> with the doctrine formulated in the rest of his book, it appears more in
> the light of a practical application of his theory that (typo? --> than?)
> an investigation of the laws of association.
> In short, while the 'Essay concerning Human Understanding' furnished the
> name under which the principle has since become known, and has also
> afforded considerable material to assist later writers in developing the
> psychology of association, the two contributions stand apart; Locke's
> association doctrine is not worked out from the psychological standpoint,
> and it is not definitely attached to the phrase which he devised. The aim
> of his 'Essay.' it must be remembered, is essentially epistemological, and
> the psychological analysis which it undertakes is carried out only so far
> as necessary to demonstrate the empirical derivation of all knowledge.
> The book may be found here:
> One can download the PDF of the book here:
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602