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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Which come variously in conflict with the soul monad


PSYCHOLOGY is connected with metaphysics. The Ego is primarily a metaphysical problem, and comes in this respect under the category of the thing with its characteristics. It is a real with many properties changing circumstances, powers, faculties, activities, &c., and thus is not without contradictions. But then the Ego is a psychological principle, and here those contradictions may be considered which lie in the ideality of subject and object. The subject posits itself and is therefore itself object. But this posited object is nothing other than the positing subject. Thus the Ego is, as Fichte says, subject-object, and, as such, full of the hardest contradictions, for subject and object will never be affirmed as one and the same without contradiction. But now if the Ego is given it cannot be thrown away, but must be purified from its contradictions. This occurs whenever the Ego is conceived as that which represents, and the different sensations, thoughts, &c. are embraced under the common conception of changing appearance. The solution of this problem is similar to that of inherence. As in the latter problem the thing was apprehended as a complex of as many reals as it has characteristics, just so here the Ego; but with the Ego inner circumstances and representations correspond to the characteristics. Thus that which we are accustomed to name Ego is nothing other than the soul. The soul as a monad, as absolutely being, is therefore simple, eternal, indissoluble, from
which we may conclude its eternal existence. From this standpoint Herbart combats the ordinary course of psychology which ascribes certain powers and faculties to the soul. That which stands out in the soul is nothing other than self-preservation, which can only be manifold and changing in opposition to other reals. The causes of changing circumstances are therefore these other reals, which come variously in conflict with the soul-monad, and thus produce that apparently infinite manifoldness of sensations, representations, and affections. This theory of self-preservation lies at the basis of all Herbart's psychology. That which psychology ordinarily calls feeling, thinking, representing, &c., are only specific differences in the self-preservation of the soul; they indicate no proper condition of the inner real essence itself, but only relations between the reals, relations, which, coming up together at the same time from different sides, are partly suppressed, partly forwarded, and partly modified. Consciousness is the sum of those relations in which the soul stands to other essences. But the relations to the objects, and hence to the representations corresponding to these, are not all equally strong; one presses, restricts, and obscures another, a relation of equilibrium which can be calculated according to the doctrine of statics. But the suppressed representations do not wholly disappear, but waiting on the threshold of consciousness for the favorable moment when they shall be permitted again to arise, they join themselves with kindred representations, and press forward with united energies. This movement of the representations (sketched in a masterly manner by Herbart) may be calculated according to the rules of mathematics, and this is Herbart's well known application of mathematics to the empirical theory of the soul. The representations which were pressed back, which wait on the threshold of consciousness and only work in the darkness, and of which we are only half conscious, are feelings. They express themselves as desires, according as their struggle forward is more or less successful. Desire becomes will when united with the hope of success. The will is no separate faculty of the mind, but consists only in the relation of the dominant representations to the others. The power of deciding and the character of a man, prominently depend upon the constant presence in the consciousness of a certain number of representations, while other representations are weakened, or denied an entrance over the threshold of consciousness.

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