NL III: “Body As Mind”

Index to this series

In Chapter I of The New Leviathan, we stipulated that natural science, the “science of body,” must be free to pursue its own aims. But we ourselves are doing science of mind, and:

1. 85. The sciences of mind, unless they preach error or confuse the issue by dishonest or involuntary obscurity, can tell us nothing but what each can verify for himself by reflecting on his own mind.

All of us can be scientists of mind, if only we are capable of reflection:

1. 77. The answer to any question in any science of mind is provided by reflection. Any man who answers that question must already have reflected on the function he is studying, or he could not answer it…

1. 8. Whatever questions he asks, the answers depend on his own reflection; not on distant travel, costly or difficult experiment, or profound and various learning.

Now, in Chapter III, “Body As Mind,” we are going to assert that body too is within the scope of our reflections. Our assertions will be confirmed by the great philosophers of our tradition, namely Plato and Aristotle (as well as the writers of the New Testament). Seeking such confirmation will accord with the practice established in An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933).

Collingwood opens Chapter III of The New Leviathan by again distinguishing body and mind, insofar as they are understood as objects of different sciences:

3. 1. Man’s ‘body’ as known to the physicist, the chemist, and the physiologist, whether these sciences are three or two or one, is by definition something other than his mind; for these sciences are natural sciences.

It is curious that while the number of natural sciences is uncertain, the number of things referred to by the words “body” and “mind” must be at least two, because these things are studied by at least two different sciences. Collingwood will invoke the Fallacy of Swapping Horses in order to keep natural science away from what we are going to do:

3. 11. Our inquiry has to do with man’s mind (1. 21). We must refuse, therefore, on pain of falling into the fallacy of swapping horses (2. 91), to let ourselves be side-tracked by any siren-song describing the delights of physics, chemistry, or physiology, and the horrors awaiting the rash voyager who would air his ignorant opinions about thought without troubling to inform himself, for example, upon the all-important subject of cerebral physiology.

Collingwood might seem to be encouraging the “death of expertise” bemoaned by blogger Tom Nichols:

…what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live. A fair number of Americans now seem to reject the notion that one person is more likely to be right about something, due to education, experience, or other attributes of achievement, than any other.

…The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. It’s a rejection of science. It’s a rejection, really, of the foundation of Western civilization: yes, that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.

Collingwood would aver that his rash voyager should trouble to inform himself of the reflections of others, especially the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes—and even, perhaps, Collingwood himself.

We shall study mind without bothering to learn cerebral physiology. We shall likewise study body without use of natural science, for:

3. 13. There is another sense of the word ‘body’: a sense neither physical nor chemical nor physiological but psychological.

For once, Collingwood alludes to a particular science of mind, namely psychology. Evidently psychology studies some things that can be called “bodily.” The three examples that Collingwood will consider are

  1. appetite,

  2. pleasure,

  3. exertion.

What makes them bodily, when they are so? About this question, again Collingwood becomes defensive:

3. 22. If [the reader] thinks that question implies an attempt to get more meaning than they actually contain out of popular phrases [such as ‘bodily appetite’ and so on], I shall remind him that the phrases have a respectable ancestry: they come down to us from Plato and Aristotle, and anything we say about their meaning in current English can be checked and shall be checked by research into their pedigree.

Here is what I mentioned above: the confirmation of our findings with reference to The Tradition. Our conclusion is going to be as follows.

3. 54. …‘bodily’ means ‘connected with feelings, i.e. sensations and the emotions directly connected with them’. This is what I call the ‘psychological sense of the word body’.

3. 6. This sense of the word ‘body’ goes back through the New Testament to Aristotle and Plato.

The rest of the chapter considers these sources and then makes way for the next chapter, which is called simply “Feeling.” Already in ¶3. 54, as well as in ¶3. 34, which will be considered below, Collingwood has alluded to the distinction that he will begin Chapter IV with:

4. 1. A feeling consists of two things closely connected: first, a sensuous element such as a colour seen, a sound heard, an odour smelt; secondly, what I call the emotional charge on this sensation: the cheerfulness with which you see the colour, the fear with which you hear the noise, the disgust with which you smell the odour.

4. 11. Does every feeling consist of these two elements? I do not know. Generalization about feelings is impossible (5. 55). All I can say is that those which I can recollect examining have done so, and that I assume the rest are, and have been, and will be like them.

The distinction between a sensation and its emotional charge was developed in The Principles of Art (1938). However, Collingwood will not refer to this earlier book in The New Leviathan. When the time comes, we may consider whether he has changed his mind on anything.

Three examples

Bodily Appetite

The following paragraph comes right after ¶3. 22, quoted above. The numbering then suggests the start of a new section, although there is no other indication of this:

3. 3. When hunger is called a bodily appetite the word ‘bodily’ is not otiose; at that rate curiosity might be called an appetite but not a bodily appetite.

3. 31. I should not care to say that ‘bodily’ conveys a reference to the physiological body and that curiosity is not a ‘bodily appetite’ because physiology cannot give any account of it. I should not be at all surprised to find that, when cerebral physiology and the physiology of the endocrine system were taken into account, it could; and very much surprised to find out that it never hoped to.

Thus Collingwood acknowledges that science of body can study things that are pointedly not called bodily. This is because the word “bodily” here refers to the presence of feelings—as opposed to thoughts. Collingwood will make a curious admission:

3. 32. Hunger is, at any rate in part, a certain group of feelings; for example, a ‘gnawing’ sensation at the stomach, a general organic sensation of weakness and lassitude, with an inability to see clearly and a tendency for things to go black, and an emotional feeling of gloom or depression.

3. 33. There is nothing corresponding to these in the case of curiosity, or if there is I have never noticed it, perhaps because I have never suffered from curiosity as acutely as I have suffered from hunger.

Now, Collingwood is a curious person, and he has suffered for it. I quote from Chapter I, “The Bent of a Twig,” of An Autobiography:

My father had plenty of books, and allowed me to read in them as I pleased. Among others, he had kept the books of classical scholarship, ancient history, and philosophy which he had used at Oxford. As a rule I left these alone; but one day when I was eight years old curiosity moved me to take down a little black book lettered on its spine ‘Kant’s Theory of Ethics’. It was Abott’s translation of the Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten; and as I began reading it, my small form wedged between the bookcase and the table, I was attacked by a strange succession of emotions. First came an intense excitement. I felt that things of the highest importance were being said about matters of the utmost urgency: things which at all costs I must understand. Then, with a wave of indignation, came the discovery that I could not understand them. Disgraceful to confess, here was a book whose words were English and whose sentences were grammatical, but whose meaning baffled me. Then, third and last, came the strangest emotion of all. I felt that the contents of this book, although I could not understand it, were somehow my business: a matter personal to myself, or rather to some future self of my own…

There came upon me by degrees, after this, a sense of being burdened with a task whose nature I could not define except by saying, ‘I must think.’ What I was to think about I did not know; and when, obeying this command, I fell silent and absent-minded in company, or sought solitude in order to think without interruption, I could not have said, and still cannot say, what it was that I actually thought. There were no particular questions that I asked myself; there were no special objects upon which I directed my mind; there was only a formless and aimless intellectual disturbance, as if I were wrestling with a fog.

Being burdened with the task of thinking: how is it really different from needing to find something to eat?

Coniston Water

I am not aware that Collingwood was ever in the position of not knowing where his next meal would come from, unless perhaps it was when he was travelling. I am aware of no religious fasts either, although Collingwood did undergo psychoanalysis in 1937–8. I learn this last fact, not from the autobiography, but from the biography by Fred Inglis, History Man: The Life of R. G. Collingwood, (2009). Inglis writes wistfully of Collingwood’s upbringing next to Coniston Water in the English Lake District, down the road from John Ruskin. Collingwood had three sisters, and his parents were struggling artists, but they do not seem to have been starving artists. Maybe Collingwood experienced hunger at Rugby School, where the food was awful (as Inglis describes); but what Collingwood complains about in An Autobiography is the way a day at school is filled up with activities that discourage real thought.

I myself have never gone hungry from poverty, but circumstances have occasionally given me a late or inadequate meal, and I have suffered physically for this, even to the point of excruciating headache. As for curiosity, it blends into anxiety, and I have suffered physically for this too, to the point of stomach-ache and vomiting. In Turkish the same word, merak, can be used for both curiosity and anxiety: merak etmek means either to wonder or to worry, and there are people in Turkey who discourage the former because to them it means only the latter.

We can hunger for knowledge. But if hunger is a metaphor for curiosity, the implication is that hunger and curiosity really are two things, and not one. Hunger involves certain feelings; curiosity may involve similar feelings, but it also requires certain thoughts. We can consider this distinction again in reading Chapter VII, “Appetite,” and Chapter VIII, “Hunger and Love.”

Bodily Pleasure

Collingwood brings up thought explicitly in his next example:

3. 4. I turn to the phrase ‘bodily pleasure’. The pleasure of lying in a hot bath is called a bodily pleasure; the pleasure of reading Newton’s Principia is not.

3. 42. The difference is that in the case of the bath the pleasure is the pleasure of feeling in certain ways: the pleasure of warmth on the skin and so forth; in the case of the Principia the pleasure is the pleasure of thinking in certain ways.

3. 43. If my pleasure in reading the Principia were derived from the actual look and smell and feel of the volume in my hands and under my nose and before my eyes I should call that, too, a bodily pleasure.

Collingwood does not elaborate so much on the pleasure of a bath as he did on the discomfort of hunger. I wonder how many of his readers will have read Newton. I had students of mathematics reading Newton a few years ago (in the spring of 2010) in Ankara. I had first read Newton myself as a student in the so-called New Program at St. John’s College in the United States; but only about two hundred students enter that Program each year.

The New Program was founded by Scott Buchanan and Stringfellow Barr in 1937, just a few years before Collingwood would be writing The New Leviathan; but the Program’s policy of reading the likes of Newton received some disapproval:

…Euclid is supposed to have said there was no royal road to geometry, but for many of the students who came to St. John’s his own book proved a master key, opening doors they had assumed closed to them.

The Program led on to more difficult works; two that produced much shaking of heads and continued debate were Apollonius’s Conics, of which Taliaferro translated the first three books, and Newton’s Principia. Professional mathematicians and physicists asserted dogmatically that the first of these should not and the second could not be read, even by themselves, because—nous avons changé tout cela. To Buchanan it seemed shameful that we should live for the most part in a familiar Newtonian world and be unable to read the book from which that world emerged. Books that seemed unintelligible to both teacher and student, he insisted, could become approachable and conquerable if the proper path through other books were followed. In the case of Apollonius and Newton, paths across the terrain were at length found…

This passage is by Curtis Wilson in the Foreword to Scott Buchanan’s posthumous Truth in the Sciences (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972). The physical book is beautifully printed and bound, a bodily pleasure to hold and behold.

Buchanan had been a Rhodes scholar at Oxford; it would be interesting to know if he had any interactions with Collingwood there. Regarding the example of Newton, why did Collingwood not pick a more popular example of a writer whom one would read for the pleasure of thinking? In my preceding article on The New Leviathan, I quoted Collingwood’s low assessment of “the average English reader,” who

neither knows nor cares when a book is well written, but goes to fiction only for sympathetic characters, and finds that he is not quite sure whether he likes Emma Woodhouse.

Has Collingwood no hope that the average English reader might have a look at The New Leviathan?

In The Principles of Art (1938), Collingwood says he gets fun out of writing that very book; but also, “If I knock off and lie in the garden for a day and read Dorothy Sayers, I get fun out of that too” (p. 95). Surely some of this fun comes from thinking, even if it is only thinking about who the murderer is. Nonetheless, mathematics is considered the type of pure thought; I suppose this makes the example of Newton preferable to Sayers.

To find the passages in Collingwood’s books that I quote in these articles, sometimes I can use the books’ indexes to supplement my memory; but the entry for Sayers in the index of The Principles of Art cites only another mention of her, nine pages before the one I quoted above. Apparently Collingwood prepared the index himself: after admitting the fun of writing The Principles of Art, he qualifies this by saying, “But I pay for it as I get it, in wretched drudgery when the book goes badly, in seeing the long summer days vanish one by one past my window unused, in knowing that there will be proofs to correct and index to make, and at the end black looks from the people whose toes I am treading on.” Then he turns to the fun of reading Sayers:

If I knock off and lie in the garden for a day and read Dorothy Sayers, I get fun out of that too; but there is nothing to pay. There is only a bill run up, which is handed in next day when I get back to my book with that Monday-morning feeling. Of course, there may be no Monday-morning feeling: I may get back to the book feeling fresh and energetic, with my staleness gone. In that case my day off turned out to be not amusement but recreation. The difference between them consists in the debit or credit effect they produce on the emotional energy available for practical life.

Amusement becomes a danger to practical life when the debt it imposes on these stores of energy is too great to be paid off in the ordinary course of living. When this reaches a point of crisis, practical life, or ‘real life’, becomes emotionally bankrupt; a state of things which we describe by speaking of its intolerable dullness or calling it a drudgery. A moral disease has set in…

The medicine for this disease is art. The New Leviathan is medicine too, or at least a prescription.

Bodily Exertion

The exertions of digging a hole and of following a mathematical argument can be distinguished, not by physiological measures like blood-pressure (because there is no difference here), but

3. 53 …because in digging my consciousness of effort either is or is closely bound up with motor sensations in, for example, the muscles I use when I dig.

Since Collingwood is an archeologist, I assume that the digging he has in mind is at archeological excavations, where he would also be engaged in serious thought. The following is from Chapter IV, “Inclination of a Sapling,” of An Autobiography:

…When I became a teacher of philosophy, I did not abandon my historical and archaeological studies. Every summer I spent serving on the staff of some large excavation, and from 1913 onwards directing excavations of my own. This became one of the chief pleasures of my life…I found myself experimenting in a laboratory of knowledge…Experience soon taught me that under these laboratory conditions one found out nothing at all except in answer to a question: and not a vague question either, but a definite one…

Here I was only rediscovering for myself, in the practice of historical research, principles which Bacon and Descartes had stated, three hundred years earlier, in connexion with the natural sciences. Each of them had said very plainly that knowledge comes only by answering questions, and that these questions must be the right questions and asked in the right order. And I had often read the works in which they said it; but I did not understand them until I had found the same thing out for myself.

I would interject the question of why Collingwood had been reading Descartes and Bacon without understanding. I suppose they had been a requirement of his chosen career, as my reading of them was required by my choice to attend St. John’s College. Evidently it is possible to understand what one reads only long after one has read it. This might serve as a justification for requiring children to be educated, although Collingwood himself did not go to school until he was thirteen, when he

was put into a preparatory school with the aim of competing for a scholarship, and became acquainted with the treadmill on which middle-class boys in this country earn their own living by competitive examination, beginning at an age when their working-class fellow children are debarred by law from exposing themselves in the labour market [Ch. I, An Autobiography].

To return now to what Collingwood learned from archeology, he continues from the passage quoted above about Descartes and Bacon:

The Oxford ‘realists’ talked as if knowing were a simple ‘intuiting’ or a simple ‘apprehending’ of some ‘reality’. At Cambridge, Moore expressed, as I thought, the same conception when he spoke of the ‘transparency’ of the act of knowing; so did Alexander, at Manchester, when he described knowing as the simple ‘compresence’ of two things, one of which was a mind. What all these ‘realists’ were saying, I thought, was that the condition of a knowing mind is not indeed a passive condition, for it is actively engaged in knowing; but a ‘simple’ condition, one in which there are no complexities or diversities, nothing except just the knowing. They granted that a man who wanted to know something might have to work, in ways that might be very complicated, in order to ‘put himself in a position’ from which it could be ‘apprehended’; but once the position had been attained there was nothing for him to do but ‘apprehend’ it, or perhaps fail to ‘apprehend’ it.

This doctrine, which was rendered plausible by choosing as examples of knowledge statements like ‘this is a red rose’, ‘my hand is resting on the table’, where familiarity with the mental operations involved has bred not so much contempt as oblivion, was quite incompatible with what I had learned in my ‘laboratory’ of historical thought. The questioning activity, as I called it, was not an activity of achieving compresence with, or apprehension of, something; it was not preliminary to the act of knowing; it was one half (the other half being answering the question) of an act which in its totality was knowing.

Earlier in the same chapter, Collingwood says the “realists” misrepresent the philosophers whom they claim to refute. An example he gives is Moore, whose article “The Refutation of Idealism”

purported to be a criticism of Berkeley. Now the position actually criticized in that article is not Berkeley’s position; indeed, in certain important respects it is the exact position which Berkeley was controverting. In order to see this, I had only to open the article and Berkeley’s text and compare them.

I did look at Moore’s article once, and I thought that it confused philosophical thinking with mathematical thinking:

…I shall, however, attack at least one argument, which, to the best of my belief, is considered necessary to their position by all Idealists. And I wish to point out a certain advantage which this procedure gives me—an advantage which justifies the assertion that, if my arguments are sound, they will have refuted Idealism. If I can refute a single proposition which is a necessary and essential step in all Idealistic arguments. then. no matter how good the rest of these arguments may be, I shall have proved that Idealists have no reason whatever for their conclusion.

Suppose we have a chain of argument which takes the form: Since A is B, and B is C, and C is D, it follows A is D. In such an argument, though ‘B is C’ and ‘C is D’ may both be perfectly true, yet if ‘A is B’ be false, we have no more reason for asserting A is D than if all three were false. It does not, indeed, follow that A is D is false; nor does it follow that no other arguments would prove it to be true. But it does follow that, so far as this argument goes, it is the barest supposition, without the least bit of evidence. I propose to attack a proposition which seems to me to stand in this relation to the conclusion ‘Reality is spiritual.’…

The subject of this paper is, therefore, quite uninteresting…

The trivial proposition which I propose to dispute is this: esse is percipi

I have not compared Moore’s article with Berkeley. However, if the passage just quoted is representative, then I can share Collingwood’s general disdain for the “realists”—I suppose he puts their name in inverted commas because they do not understand what philosophy really is.

Collingwood seems to address Moore directly in Chapter V, “The Philosophical Judgement: Quality and Quantity,” of An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933):

2. …On a matter of empirical fact it is possible, when asked for example ‘where did I leave my purse?’ to answer ‘not in the taxi, I am sure’, without having the least idea where the purse was actually left…

In philosophy this is not so. The normal and natural way of replying to a philosophical statement from which we dissent is by saying, not simply ‘this view seems to me wrong’, but ‘the truth, I would suggest, is something more like this’, and then we should attempt to state a view of our own. This view certainly need not be on the tip of our tongue; it may be something with which our mind, as Socrates would say, is pregnant, and which needs both skill and pains to bring it to birth; yet we feel it quick within us; and unless we have that feeling we have no right to meddle with the question that is being discussed; no right, and if we have the spirit of a philosopher no desire.

3. This is not a mere opinion. It is a corollary of the Socratic principle (itself a necessary consequence of the principle of overlapping classes) that there is in philosophy no such thing as a transition from sheer ignorance to sheer knowledge, but only a progress in which we come to know better what in some sense we know already…

Collingwood’s analysis of knowing, as quoted above from An Autobiography, seems correct and useful to me. My favorite saying in Turkish is,

Bakmakla öğrenilse, köpekler kasap olurdu.

If learning were done by watching, then dogs would be butchers.

My students are not going to learn mathematics just by listening to me talk about it; they have to work at it, by solving problems or even rewriting my lectures in their own words—words that express their own understanding. This understanding may come in flashes of insight, and possibly those flashes of insight are indeed individually simple, as in Collingwood’s account of the realist theory of knowledge. But it would be a mistake to think that they come automatically, once one puts oneself in the right position to receive them. How many students come to class and read their textbooks dutifully, but fail to learn? They think they are putting themselves in the right position to receive knowledge, and yet it doesn’t happen. They are missing some kind of connection or engagement, which must come from themselves.

It is however possible to learn “by accident.” I suppose this is what the young Collingwood was doing when he first read Descartes and Bacon: he did not understand them, but he got something from them that caused him later to know what they had been trying to say. In a mondegreen, one learns the words of a song incorrectly; but I learned popular songs as a child without being able to assign any meaning at all to the words. Years later, when told the words to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” I was able to understand that the nonsense syllables in my memory of Elton John’s voice were actually “I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free.”

In Chapter XI, “Roman Britain,” of An Autobiography, Collingwood complains that too much archeological digging is done, not scientifically, in order to solve “important historical problems,” but just to “see what objects of interest we can find here for my collection,” or to “see what we can find out about this site.” In short, too much digging is being done without thinking.

Why then is Collingwood at pains, in Chapter III of The New Leviathan, to distinguish the bodily exertion of digging from the non-bodily exertion of mathematics? Presumably the example of mathematics could be replaced with the example of historical research. At his own archeological digs, Collingwood’s physical exertion is bound up with thinking about what he is digging for. But the point is that for other archeologists, it may not be. “Dig first, ask questions later” might be their motto. This is not the way to learn history, any more than memorizing definitions is the way to learn mathematics. Something else is needed, beyond straining the arms in certain ways, or moving the lips (or a pencil) in certain ways.

The James–Lange Theory

Again, Collingwood will speak at length about hunger in Chapters VII and VIII; but I want to note something else he says about it in Chapter III:

3. 34. I make bold to say that there is a characteristic group of feelings (sensations and emotions connected with them) whereby a man knows he is hungry, and none by which he knows that he is curious.

Thus hunger is not a feeling itself, but is inferred from some feelings. Is not curiosity the same? We may find ourselves somewhere unusual, only then to realize that we have gone there to find something out. I said above that I had had stomach pains from anxiety, although those are now long in the past; however, today if I should feel a certain pain, I may wonder if I am anxious. The feelings that underlie curiosity or anxiety may differ from those that underlie hunger; but the mere difference is not enough to explain our referring to hunger alone as a bodily appetite.

The idea of drawing inferences from feelings is reminiscent of the James–Lange Theory of emotion, which Collingwood refutes in The Principles of Art. Wikipedia gives the following definition.

The [James–Lange] theory states that within human beings, as a response to experiences in the world, the autonomic nervous system creates physiological events such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of the mouth. Emotions, then, are feelings which come about as a result of these physiological changes, rather than being their cause.

Actually Wikipedia does not feature these exact words now. I extracted the quotation on November 30, 2010, when I was writing some notes on The Principles of Art. The notes consist mainly of quotations from Collingwood himself, along with my own paraphrases. Below are my notes on the first two sections of Chapter XI, “Language,” of Collingwood’s book. This is where the James–Lange Theory comes up. Some of the ideas will be relevant to coming chapters of The New Leviathan:

Language and expression

“Language comes into existence with imagination, as a feature of experience at the conscious level…

“…It is an imaginative activity whose function is to express emotion. Intellectual language is this same thing intellectualized, or modified so as to express thought.”

A symbol is established by agreement; but this agreement is established in a language that already exists. In this way, intellectualized language “presupposes imaginative language or language proper…in the traditional theory of language these relations are reversed, with disastrous results.”

Children do not learn to speak by being shown things while their names are uttered; or if they do, it is because (unlike, say, cats) they already understand the language of pointing and naming. The child may be accustomed to hearing “Hatty off!” when its bonnet is removed; then the child may exclaim “Hattiaw!” when it removes its own bonnet and throws it out of the perambulator. The exclamation is not a symbol, but an expression of satisfaction at removing the bonnet.

Psychical Expression

More primitive than linguistic expression is psychical expression: “the doing of involuntary and perhaps even wholly unconscious bodily acts [such as grimacing], related in a peculiar way to the emotions [such as pain] they are said to express.” A single experience can be analyzed:

  1. sensum (as an abdominal gripe), or the field of sensation containing this;

  2. the emotional charge on the sensum (as visceral pain);

  3. the psychical expression (as the grimace).

We can observe and interpret psychical expressions intellectually. But there is the possibility of emotional contagion, or sympathy, whereby expressions can also be sensa for others, with their own emotional charges. Examples are the spread of panic through a crowd, or a dog’s urge to attack the person who is afraid of it (or the cat that runs from it).

Psychical emotions can be expressed only psychically. But there are emotions of consciousness (as hatred, love, anger, shame): these are the emotional charges, not on sensa, but on modes of consciousness, which can be expressed in language or psychically. Expressed psychically, they have the same analysis as psychical emotions; for example,

  1. “consciousness of our own inferiority,

  2. “shame,

  3. “blushing.”

Shame is not the emotional charge on the sensa associated with blushing. “The common-sense view [that we blush because we are ashamed] is right, and the James–Lange theory is wrong.”

Emotions of consciousness can be expressed in two different ways because, more generally, a “higher level [of experience] differs from the lower in having a new principle of organization; this does not supersede the old, it is superimposed on it. The lower type of experience is perpetuated in the higher type” somewhat as matter is perpetuated, even with a new form.

“A mode of consciousness like shame is thus, formally, a mode of consciousness and nothing else; materially, it is a constellation or synthesis of psychical experiences.” But consciousness is “an activity by which those elements are combined in this particular way.” It is not just a new arrangement of those elements—otherwise the sensa of which shame is the emotional charge would have been obvious, and the James–Lange theory would not have needed to arise.

“[E]ach new level [of experience] must organize itself according to its own principles before a transition can be made to the next”. Therefore, to move beyond consciousness to intellect, “emotions of consciousness must be formally or linguistically expressed, not only materially or psychically expressed”.

Thus are my notes of a few years ago. My saying “the James–Lange theory would not have needed to arise” is obscure. The point is that a theory would not have needed to arise. It may be useful for present purposes to quote Collingwood himself, starting with a sentence already used in my old notes:

…A mode of consciousness like shame is thus, formally, a mode of consciousness and nothing else; materially, it is a constellation or synthesis of psychical experiences.

The two ways in which it can be expressed correspond with these two sides of its nature. But when it is called a constellation or synthesis, this does not mean that there is a putting together of elements which first existed separately, and that the new quality of consciousness (in this case, shame) was a mere resultant ‘emerging’ from that combination. Had that been the case, the James–Lange theory would never have been invented; for we could easily have identified he various sensa upon which, as thus combined, shame is the emotional charge. The fact that this cannot be done is experimental proof that the ‘emergence’ theory is, in this case at least, mistaken; and that so far from consciousness being merely a new pattern-quality emerging from a particular way of combining psychical experiences, it is an activity by which those elements are combined in this particular way.

Let me note that shame will be considered in Chapter X, “Passion,” of The New Leviathan. Meanwhile, in the paragraph just quoted, Collingwood seems to reason as follows. If you look for the sensum or sensa of which shame is the emotional charge, what you will come up with is the sensa associated with blushing: “hot skin and relaxed muscles”. But shame is not the emotional charge on these sensa, because, if we think more, we shall understand that shame is the emotional charge, not on certain sensa, but on a mode of consciousness, namely “consciousness of our own inferiority.” This mode of consciousness is not merely a resultant that emerges from some constellation of sensations: if it were, then we could readily identify those sensations. If we do try to identify them, what we come up with is the sensations of blushing, and this is the wrong answer. That is, if the emergence theory of consciousness were correct, then consciousness of inferiority would emerge from the sensation of hot skin and relaxed muscles; but obviously shame is more complicated than that.

My main interest now in the last quoted paragraph is in its last clause. Consciousness is an activity. I compare with the earlier quotation on the Realists. By Collingwood’s account, knowing for them is not passive; but neither is it the complicated activity that Collingwood has learned it to be. I suppose a failure in activity, or a failure to take proper responsibility for acting, is what has brought on, or indeed what is, the threat to civilization to which The New Leviathan is a response.


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  1. By Collingwood, The New Leviathan (1942) « Polytropy on January 25, 2014 at 7:22 am

    […] « Self-similarity again NL III: “Body As Mind” » […]

  2. By NL IV: “Feeling” « Polytropy on February 3, 2014 at 11:46 am

    […] have already quoted the […]

  3. By NL V: “The Ambiguity of Feeling” « Polytropy on February 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    […] the notes on Chapter III, I considered Collingwood’s distinction between hunger and curiosity. Collingwood says he has […]

  4. By NL VI: “Language,” again « Polytropy on March 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

    […] NL III: “Body As Mind” […]

  5. By NL VII: “Appetite” « Polytropy on May 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    […] NL III: “Body As Mind” […]

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