The Source and Aim of Human Progress This ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors on your ebook reader an excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter ABOUT twenty five years
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Title: The Source and Aim of Human Progress
Author: Boris Sidis William James
This ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors on your ebook reader an excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter ABOUT twenty five years ago I published in my Psychology of Suggestion a series of experiments on Normal and Abnormal Suggestibility carried on at various laboratories including my own laboratory IThis ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors on your ebook reader an excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter ABOUT twenty five years ago I published in my Psychology of Suggestion a series of experiments on Normal and Abnormal Suggestibility carried on at various laboratories including my own laboratory I developed the psycho physiological theory of the subconscious, traced the causation and nature of subconscious activities, and worked out the laws of normal and abnormal suggestibility The following pertains to our present subject The nervous centers of man s nervous system, if classified as to function, may be divided into inferior and superior The inferior centers are characterized by reflex and automatic activities A stimulus excites the peripheral nerve endings of some sense organ At once a nerve current is set up in the afferent nerves The current in its turn stimulates a plexus of central ganglia, the nerve energy of which is set free, and is propagated along the efferent nerves towards muscles and glands, secretions, muscular contractions and relaxations are the result biologically regarded, various reactions and adjustments follow Ingoing and outgoing nerve currents with their various end reactions may be modified by the nerve centers Nerve currents may be intensified, decreased in energy, or even entirely inhibited by central ganglia or by their mutual interaction and interferences Sherrington and other physiologists have by a number of experiments formulated some of the important principles of such physiological activities A law of inhibition or interference early formulated by Ziehen may suffice If an excitation of a definite intensity m take place in one cortical element b , and another excitation of a different intensity take place at the same time in another cortical element t which is connected by a path of conduction with element b , the two intensities of excitation may modify each other Although such modifications frequently occur, it nevertheless remains true that the inferior nerve centers are of a reflex nature No sooner is the nerve energy of a lower center set free than at once it tends to discharge itself into action Thus every sensation, perception, feeling, emotion, thought, or belief, if left uncontrolled, tends to be translated into some appropriate movement, action, or reaction The physiological process of setting free the nerve energy in a central ganglion, or in a system of central ganglia, is accompanied by activity in the simpler, but organized, integrated nerve centers, and by the lower psychic functions of simple sentience, sensibility and in the complex, but less integrated, less organized centers by the higher psychic functions of consciousness, such as sensations, precepts, images, ideas, and emotions Turning now to the superior or the highest nerve centers, we find that they are characterized by the highest mental functions, thought and reasoning, choice and will A number of impressions, sensations and precepts reach those thought and will centers then a critical, a sifting, a selecting, a controlling or inhibitory process begins Some of the mental states are modified and are permitted to develop within certain limits, others are given full play, while still others, and possibly the majority of them, are rejected and inhibited, not taking effect in reactions and adjustments to the environment The inhibited states belong to the great number of possible states with their reactions out of which selection is made by the critical thought and will centers These mental states, images, ideas, and feelings with their end reactions, out of which selection is made, Galton aptly terms the antechamber of consciousness They are on the margin of consciousness, and are partly of a conscious and partly of a subconscious character To quote from Galton Although the brain is able to do fair work fluently in an automatic way, and though it will of its own accord, strike out sudden and happy ideas, it is questionable if it is capable of working thoroughly and profoundly without past or present effort The character of this effort seems to me chiefly to lie in bringing the contents of the antechamber nearly within the ken of consciousness, which then takes comprehensive note of all its contents, and compels the logical faculty to test them seriatim before selecting the fittest for a summons to the presence of the chamber The thronging of the antechamber is, I am convinced, beyond my control.