An Introduction to Social Psychology

Supplementary Chapter 2: The Derived Emotions

William McDougall

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IN the first part of this book I distinguished certain emotions as primary emotions, namely, fear, anger, tender-emotion, disgust, positive self-feeling, negative self-feeling and wonder. The peculiarity of these emotions which gives them their position of primary importance is, I maintained, the fact that each one is the immediate inevitable result and subjective expression of the excitement of an instinct, an innate disposition specifically directed to some particular mode of action. It was not my intention to assert that no other than these seven emotions belong to this class. I recognised the fact that the innate constitution of man comprises other instinctive dispositions, and that the excitement of any one of these is accompanied by some subjective excitement or feeling which is of the same order as the primary emotions; but, I said, the qualities of these states of feeling are obscure, are but little differentiated and therefore not easily recognisable introspectively.

Beside these primary emotions I described a number of well-recognised emotions as being essentially compounds or blends of the primary emotions ; that is to say emotional qualities which are experienced when two or more of the great instinctive tendencies are simultaneously excited. Examples of this class are awe, reverence, gratitude, admiration, scorn, envy. Some of these blended emotions, I said, are only aroused in virtue of the

(394) previous acquisition of sentiments, permanent or habitual emotional-conative attitudes towards particular objects or classes of things. As examples of this class, reproach, jealousy, vengeful emotion, and shame were analyzed.

I then discussed joy and sorrow, arguing that neither of these is to be classed with the primary emotions ; because each of them is a state of feeling or emotion which is not the immediate effect and expression of the excitement of any one instinct or disposition, but rather arises when any of the conative tendencies operate under certain conditions. They may therefore be distinguished as derived or secondary emotions. Joy and sorrow are not the only emotions of this class ; there is a large number of emotional states, easily recognised and commonly distinguished by well-established names, which must be regarded as belonging to this class of derived emotions; for they arise only when the various active tendencies of our nature operate under special mental conditions. They seem to be connected with no special conative dispositions ; but each of them rises to color our whole consciousness when any one of these dispositions operates under the appropriate conditions.

I have felt that not only are these emotions of great interest and importance in themselves, but that a discussion of them and of the conditions under which they arise and of their relations to the primary emotions and tendencies will make clearer to the mind of my readers the distinctive position assigned to the primary emotions in the foregoing chapters of this book. I therefore add this chapter, and I propose to discuss these derived emotions in the light of, and largely in the form of a criticism of, Mr. Shand's treatment of them in his work on "The Foundations of Character."[l] For Mr. Shand has given

( 395) us a more elaborate and careful study of these emotions than any other that has been published; and the contrasting of my own view of them with his will, I think, aid in bringing clearly to mind some of the many interesting problems presented by them.

Mr. Shand has pointed out that the emotions of this class, of which the types are confidence, hope, disappointment, anxiety, despondency and despair, always arise in the course of the operation of some continued desire, and he therefore treats of them under the head of the prospective emotions of desire. With this I am in entire agreement, save that I would enlarge the class by including in it the retrospective as well as the prospective emotions of desire; thus we should add regret, remorse and sorrow. Joy, I submit, occupies a peculiar position, in that it belongs to both groups; there are retrospective as well as prospective joys.

These emotions occur in all degrees of intensity; but we may with advantage fix our attention upon their more intense manifestations, to the neglect of their fainter forms in which one or other of them is present to consciousness at almost all moments of our waking life, faithfully attending every movement of our conative tendencies.

The operation of some strong continued desire is, then, the essential condition of the rise to consciousness of the emotions of this class; and, since such desire commonly arises from some strongly organised sentiment, these emotions arise most frequently in connection with the operation of such sentiments; but this is not necessarily or always the case. For example, a desire for food may spring from the simple primary hunger tendency; and, if such a simple primary instinctive desire or appetite is sufficiently strong, it may generate most, though perhaps

( 396) not all, of these prospective and retrospective emotions of desire.

Shand regards desire itself as an emotional system, and these emotions of desire as comparable with those I have distinguished as the primary emotions ; that is to say he regards each of these qualities of emotion as being rooted in or dependent upon the activity of a specific disposition, one which has its own conative tendency and proper end ; and the system of desire is for him a complex disposition given in the innate constitution and composed of the postulated dispositions of all these emotions of desire.[2] He is committed to this treatment of these emotions by his view that each emotion is not, as is my view, merely a specific affective tone or coloring of consciouness qualifying our mental activities, but is essentially a disposition having its own specific conative tendency ; the instincts being merely dispositions to special modes of bodily

( 397) movement, subordinated to and more or less organised within the emotional dispositions.

In opposition to this, I submit, that, while the primary emotions may loosely be said to have the specific tendencies of the instinctive dispositions in which they are rooted, these derived emotions have no such specific tendencies, for they are not attached to or rooted in any special dispositions; they are, therefore, not forces of character, and cannot be said in any true and significant meaning of the words to be organised within the sentiments or in the great hierarchy of sentiments which is the character of the individual.

Desire is the general name for that peculiar experience which arises in every mind (sufficiently developed intellectually to hold before itself the idea of an end) when-ever any strong impulse or conative tendency cannot immediately attain or actively progress towards its natural end. If this be true, and I believe that some such statement of the nature. of desire is generally acceptable to almost all psychologists, it is quite unnecessary to postulate some special disposition as the root of desire. If, following Shand, we did so, we should find ourselves involved in insoluable difficulties, when we attempted to conceive the relation of this special disposition to the other conative dispositions, whether the primary instincts or the sentiments ; and if, like Shand, we further assumed that it is a highly complex disposition, comprising the special dispositions of all the emotions of desire, our difficulties would be very greatly and gratuitously in-creased. Shand seems to have reached this view through allowing himself to be unduly influenced by the literary tradition, to which he attaches great importance; for in poetry and the "belles-lettres" these emotions are com-

( 398) -monly spoken of as forces or agents, and are frequently personified.

This influence may be illustrated by citing Shand's treatment of hope. He regards hope as one of the greatest forces that operate in the mind, as something that enters into the structure of character; and he attributes to it a variety of effects upon conduct. He points out that the poets have generally attributed to it "a tendency of supreme importance to desire and love." Thus Shelley wrote : "Hope still creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates. "Milton exclaimed : "What reinforcement we may gain from hope !" and Tennyson wrote of "the mighty hope that makes us men." Campbell, addressing "Hope," said :

"Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play;"

and Amiel wrote: "At bottom everything depends on the presence or absence of one single element in the soul—hope. All the activities of man . . . presuppose a hope in him of attaining an end. Once kill this hope, and his movements become senseless, spasmodic and convulsive." Shand, who cites these and other similar remarks of the poets upon hope, adds : "No other emotion has had such general tribute paid to it ;" and he regards these poetic sayings as strong evidence of the truth of his view of this emotion. He proceeds to translate these poetic expressions into sober scientific language, defining the tendencies of hope as follows : "Hope increases the activity of desire, aids it in resisting misfortune and the influence of depressing emotions, and in both ways furthers the attainment of its end ;" and "hope tends always to make the future appear better than the present," and thus also strengthens desire. We are told also that hope tends to give us courage, that it tends to conserve the direction of

(399) thought and effort, and that hope has this indespensable use and function for desire. He treats of the other emotions of this group in similar fashion, adducing the sayings of the poets in support of his view that they all are actual mental forces having their distinctive tendencies towards specific ends. Now we cannot put aside this literary evidence as of no account ; but Shand, I venture to think, attaches too much importance to. it. The poets speak with poetic licence and in metaphorical language, they are not concerned with scientific analysis, and do not attempt to use a scientific terminology ; and, when they speak of hope or despondency or despair as forces which impel to this or that form of behaviour, we do them no wrong and make no reflection upon their knowledge of human nature, if we abstain from taking their words in the most literal sense.

The principal objection to accepting these emotions as forces comparable to the great primary emotional conative. tendencies, such as anger and fear, is that they always arise as incidents or phases of feeling in the course of the operation of some activity prompted by some other motive. Thus, hope is never an independent motive; we hope always for the attainment of some end which we desire or aim at from some other motive than hope ; and the driving power which Shand attributes to hope itself may, without improbability or any distortion of the facts, be attributed to this primary motive or desire. Secondly, the ends assigned to these emotions are highly general and abstract; it is difficult to suppose that any innate disposition can be directed to any specific end so highly abstract as "making the future appear better than the present." Thirdly, as we have already seen, desire itself is, by Shand's own admission, an abstraction ; and these emotions of desire are equally abstractions; they

(400) are so many distinguishable ways in which the desire and emotion springing from any primary conative disposition, or from any sentiment, are modified by our intellectual apprehension of the degree of success or failure attending our efforts towards the end of our desire. Fourthly, though these emotional states are sufficiently distinct to be generally and intelligibly denoted by distinct names, they do not differ one from another in the fundamental way in which anger differs from fear or disgust or tender emotion; rather they pass into one another by insensible gradations, and the names we give them mark merely points or regions in a continuous scale of feeling. If, then, we can account for them by a simpler hypothesis than Shand's, and in so doing avoid the very great difficulties that arise on the acceptance of his view of them, we are compelled by the principles of scientific method to adopt the simpler hypothesis.

Let us see how the simpler view works when applied to some one strong desire ; and, for simplicity's sake, let us take a desire rooted in a strong and primitive tendency, the tendency to seek food when hungry. Let us imagine ourselves to be a party of polar explorers returning from a dash for the Pole and making for a deposit of food a few days' march away. We have exhausted the supplies which we carried with us ; but the conditions of travelling are good, we are all in vigorous health, and we know exactly where to find the hidden store of food. Then, though we all desire strongly to find this food, and though our minds may be much occupied by the thought of it, even tormented by ideas of succulent beefsteaks, we go forward in confidence. We do not hope for the food; we confidently look forward to reaching it; our line of action lies clear before us; nothing raises a doubt of our success; we are simply impelled to vigorous sustained

( 401) effort by our strong desire. Confidence has thus a negative condition ; it is simply desire working towards its end unobstructedly. Shand tells us that "confidence tends to relax the higher intellectual and voluntary processes and to leave the accomplishment of desire to external events or to processes that are automatic. "It is easy to see in the light of our illustration how he arrives at this view. Our party of polar explorers needs to form no further plans ; it has only to persist in the one line of vigorous activity, and its end will be reached. But, though it needs no further deliberation, its efforts will hardly be relaxed by confidence. The true statement seems to be that, when our purpose and plan of action are in no way obstructed by any imagined possibility of failure, we work on simply without further planning along the line of action that lies plain before. us; our impulse or desire carries us on with full force and concentration of energy, because it is untroubled and unobstructed.[3]


But suppose that the sky becomes overcast, threatening a blizzard; or that the snow underfoot becomes so soft as greatly to impede our progress; or let any other difficulty arise that renders us a little doubtful of attaining our end. At once we begin to hope : we hope the weather will hold good ; we hope the snow will harden; we trudge on, no longer confident, but full of hope, contemplating the desired end, enjoying in anticipation the food we desire and seek. But the threat, however faint, of some cause of failure leads us to concentrate our efforts a little more, keeps our minds more constantly occupied with the one all-important end, restrains us from all unnecessary dispersion of our energies. That is a fundamental law of all impulse, all conation; obstruction leads to more explicit definition of the end and of the means to it, brings the conative process more vividly into consciousness. Hope, then, is not a new force added to our desire; it is merely a new way in which the desire operates when confidence is no longer complete. So long as the threat is slight or distant, our desire continues to carry with it a pleasurable anticipation of attainment; that is characteristic of the state of hope.

But let the difficulties loom larger; the snow begins to fall and the wind rises against us. Then hope gives place to anxiety, or alternates with it; and there is no sharp line of transition between the two states. In anxiety our attention becomes still further concentrated upon the task in hand, but especially upon the means, rather than upon the end. We think of every possibility ; we try to think out new means to meet the hitherto unforeseen

( 403) difficulty. We consider whether it might not be wiser to leave the less vigorous members of the party in some sheltered spot, while the stronger push on with all possible speed to find the much desired store of food. The pleasurable anticipation of success, which colored our state of hope, gives place to the painful thought of failure and its consequences; we begin to think, not so much of the meal we shall enjoy, but rather of our state if we should fail to attain the end of our desire; we picture ourselves camping once more without food; we think of the night of troubled dreams and continued anxiety and of ourselves setting out once more in a weakened condition. This is not the effect of a new force; it is the same force, the desire for food, working under changed intellectual conditions. Shand says : "Anxiety is a constant stimulus, sustaining attention and thought and the bodily processes subservient to desire . . . Anxiety counteracts the extravagant anticipations of hope—it counteracts by watchfulness and forethought the careless attitude into which we are apt to fall through the influence of hope."[4] I submit that anxiety is the name by which we denote our state when the means we are taking towards the desired end begin to seem inadequate, when we cast about for possible alternatives and begin to anticipate the pains of failure. I suggest that, if in such case any new conative force enters into the process, it is the impulse of fear awakened by the thought of the con-sequences of failure, or that of anger roused, according to the general law of anger[4] by obstruction to the course of conation. I maintain that anxiety in itself is not a conative force distinct from, and capable of being added to, the original desire.

( 404)

As confidence passes into hope, when difficulties arise ; and as hope passes into anxiety, when the difficulties grow more serious and threatening; so anxiety passes into despondency, as we begin to feel that our difficulties are too great to be overcome by any effort. When hope fades away and becomes faint, we begin to despond; or in poetical language we might say that despondency drives out hope; and in similar language we might describe anxiety as a conflict between hope and despondency, each of the antagonists gaining in turn the upper hand. But this would be metaphorical language. When in an earlier chapter I wrote of conflict between the impulses of fear and curiosity, or of fear and anger, or of positive and negative self-feeling, that was not the language of metaphor. For in each of those cases there are at work two impulses of opposed tendency which really conflict ; as we see in the hesitating alternating behaviour of the animal or the child that is at once fearful and curious, or angry and yet afraid—"Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike." But in hope and despondency, and when they alternate in anxiety, the motive or conative tendency and the end are the same throughout. The states differ only in that in hope the desire of the end is qualified and supported by pleasant anticipation of attainment; while in despondency our desire is colored and checked by the painful anticipation of failure. In despondency we trudge on, but with lowered heads and drooping shoulders; we have to re-enforce our desire by volition, by calling up all our resolution; that is to say, by holding up our ideal of self, evoking our self-assertive tendency. We say : "No matter how hopeless our effort, we will not give in; if we must die, we will die gamely, struggling to the end as Englishmen should. "In so far as in despondency

(405) our efforts are less vigorous than in hope, the difference is sufficiently accounted for by the most general law of feeling, namely, that pleasure re-enforces and sustains the activities it qualifies, while pain tends to weaken and suppress them. And in anxiety we have no true conflict of opposed impulses of hope and despondency ; we have merely the one desire or conative tendency, working under such conditions that pleasurable anticipation of success and painful anticipation of failure are about equally balanced ; the probabilities seem to be about equal, and we alternate between the two states. Shand, attempting to define the tendency of despondency and its biological function, says : "Despondency weakens desire, just as hope strengthens it;" and then he is hard put to it to find a use, a biological justification and raison d'Ítre, for such an impulse. It serves, he suggests, to turn us from the particular line .of action we are pursuing as means to the desired end, and to make us look about for other means. But this is just the function of pain as we see it at work all down the scale of life from the protozoon to man.

Now imagine our polar party overwhelmed by a blizzard, or arriving at the place where the food was stored and finding that the store has been broken open and everything eaten by bears. No possibility of success remains ; our strength is exhausted ; the most hopeful has to face the certainty of death from cold and starvation. Despondency gives place to despair ; we resign all hope, our efforts relax and we lie down to die. Or, if we are resolute men, we do first whatever seems worth doing; we write a letter of farewell to our friends or bring the log-book faithfully up to date, in the one hope that is still possible, the hope that our remains will be found by other explorers. If we are weak, we give way to the

( 406) impulse of distress[6] and cry aloud for help, until we realise the utter futility of that impulse also, and complete despair overwhelms us.

Shand finds great difficulty in attempting to define the tendency and end of despair. In literature he finds many statements to the effect that despair imparts a new and desperate energy to our efforts, and he formulates four laws of despair : (1) "Despair tends to evoke an energy in desire and a resolution capable of attempting the most dangerous and uncertain actions;" (2) "Despair excludes all hope from desire, and only arises after all hope is excluded;"[7] (3) "Despair tends to weaken and discourage desire." But the first law states that despair evokes an energy in desire, and therefore a fourth law is needed to reconcile these contradictory statements, and we read : (4) "Despair tends to weaken the desire which submits to its influence, and to strengthen the desire which triumphs over it." This goes a long way in the personification of desires and the emotions of desire. We are asked to regard despair as a new force with which the primary desire (of whose system it is said to be a part) enters into a conflict like that of two persons; the primary desire struggles against this new force, and either absorbs it and adds it to itself, or succumbs to it in despair; and we are left to imagine the emotion of despair triumphant and exulting over the prostrate desire.

The true explanation of those forms of conduct which justify such phrases as "the courage of despair" is, I think, as follows : So long as there appears any possibility of attaining our desired end, we carefully follow out our

( 407) adopted plan, adapting our actions in detail at each stage by taking anxious thought. But, when we see that all our carefully thought-out plans are of no avail, we may lose our self-control, relax our intellectual efforts, and abandon ourselves to the crude instinctive impulses which underlay all our deliberate efforts; and then we strive blindly, wildly, purely instinctively, like animals. Our polar party, arrived at the crisis we have imagined, might throw aside all its equipment, all its cohesion and organisations and plans, and break up into its units ; each man might rush blindly on with, as we say, the blind courage of despair. But if this is courage, it is the courage of an animal impelled to struggle to the end by purely instinctive fear or anger.

Hume formulated a fundamental law of desire, which explains the attitude of despair, when he wrote : "We are no sooner acquainted with the impossibility of satisfying any desire, than the desire itself vanishes." This statement goes perhaps too far; it is an exaggeration of the truth. The truth seems to be that the intellectual apprehension of the impossibility of attaining the desired end terminates all our efforts after it; we cease to look forward to the end or to strive towards it. Our attitude becomes wholly retrospective; but the desire lives on in the peculiar form of regret. Suppose that you have desired to help a friend in difficulties, but have delayed too long or have taken insufficiently active steps to pre-vent his dying, overwhelmed by his misfortune. Your desire is not entirely extinguished. In a sense it may become more acute than ever before. You say: "Oh, how I wish that I had done more or acted more promptly !" expressing clearly the persistence of your desire ; and, though nothing can be done, you think of all the things you might have done, if you only had

( 408) understood the urgency of his need; and every such thought in which your desire now expresses itself is colored with the pain of a baffled and thwarted desire that cannot achieve its end. That is regret; and, if self-reproach enters into the state, it is one of remorse.

Despair, then, is the turning point at which we cease to look forward, and, instead, look back with the finally thwarted desire which is regret. Our polar explorers, sitting in their tent awaiting death, will, if they are not utterly prostrated, be filled with regret—regret that they did not take this or that step, that they did not start out earlier on their return journey, regret that they did not make their stores of food at shorter intervals, regret for all the many things that might have made the difference between success and failure. But regret is no more a new force added to the primary desire than is confidence or hope, anxiety, despondency, or despair.

We have hitherto considered the derived emotions as they attend the operation of a desire of great intensity; but it must be recognised that in fainter forms the same states of feeling accompany and qualify our most trivial efforts. For example, you set out in good time, as you believe, to catch your morning train to town. Having plenty of time, you walk in confidence, never doubting your catching it. Then you remember that your watch has been irregular of late, and you notice other persons hurrying towards the railway station; hope replaces confidence. Or shall we say, in poetical language, that hope drives out confidence? You ask the time of a passer-by, and, according to his statement, your watch is slow ; hope passes into anxiety, and you begin to look for a cab or bus or other means of accelerating your passage. The church clock confirms the opinion of the passer-by, and anxiety passes into despondency ; it seems hardly worth

( 409) while to hurry on, your chance of catching the train is so small. From a distance you see the train arrive, and despondency becomes despair ; and, as it steams away, despair passes into regret. Just in proportion to the intensity of your desire to catch the train will be the intensity of these emotions.

In the light of the foregoing discussion I would add a few words to what was said in Chapter V., of joy and sorrow ; for these two emotions are closely allied to the emotions discussed in the foregoing pages.

Shand regards sorrow as one of the primary emotions and as one of the great forces of character. I maintain that it is rather a derived emotion, one of the retrospective emotions of desire ; that, in short, it is a special form of regret, essentially a regret that springs from the sentiment of love, and therefore a tender regret. The most frequent and typical occasion of sorrow is the death of one we love. Consider the sequence of emotions we experience during the fatal sickness of a much-loved child. While the child is in perfect health, love's desire to cherish and protect its object attains an ever renewed and progressive satisfaction in loving services rendered and in marks of love returned. The actions prompted by the desire of the sentiment of love are performed with confidence. Such confidence is, I submit, a variety of confidence properly called joy. It is a joyful activity attended by a joyful tender emotion. Its peculiarity is that desire is progressively satisfied while it continues unabated. Let the child show some slight indisposition, and we hope he will soon be well ; our tender care is redoubled. He grows worse rather than better, and we become anxious, hope alternating with despondency, and yielding place to it more and more as the little patient's strength ebbs away and the symptoms grow more serious.

( 410) It becomes clear that he cannot live, and we despair. He dies, and despair gives place to sorrow: for our attitude is no longer prospective, but wholly retrospective. Desire no longer prompts to action ; the conative tendencies of the sentiment, especially the protective impulse, still prompt us to occupy our minds with its object; we cannot dismiss it, and would not if we could; we hug our sorrow; for the sentiment is alive, and its impulses working constantly within us are baffled and painful just because they can attain no satisfaction; we regret that we did not do this or that, take this or that precaution, act earlier or more energetically. Sorrow is, then, a tender regret. It seems to me clear that we never experience an emotion that can properly be called sorrow, save in connection with a sentiment of love and the complete thwarting of its impulses, which can hardly be brought about in any other way than by the destruction of its object.

If this be true, then clearly sorrow is not a primary but a derived emotion ; and, like those other emotions of desire, prospective and retrospective, it springs from no specific conative disposition, has no impulse or tendency of its own, is not a force in itself; and, having no disposition, it cannot be organised within the sentiment of love nor yet within that of hate (as Shand maintains). Shand describes sorrow as having three distinct tendencies or impulses: (1)To cry out for aid and comfort; (2) to cling to its object and to resist consolation; (3) to restore its object. Of these alleged tendencies the first and second are contradictory or incompatibles ; the tendency to cling to the object and to restore it is the tendency of the tender emotion organized in the sentiment of love. The tendency to cry out for aid and comfort when our powers are completely baffled no doubt does

(411) often enter into sorrow; but I submit that it does not essentially belong to it. It seems to be the expression of a primary instinctive disposition which I have neglected to distinguish in the earlier chapters. This tendency seems to manifest itself whenever our strength proves wholly insufficient to achieve the end that we keenly strive after, no matter what may be the nature of the conation at work in us. The working of this impulse to cry out for aid and comfort seems to be accompanied by a true primary emotion which, perhaps, is best called "distress." This is the emotion displayed so freely and frequently by the infant when he wails aloud. We learn to suppress its outward marks ; but, though we can suppress our cries and sobs or transmute them to a mere sigh, we cannot so easily prevent the watering of the eyes, which is a part of this instinctive expression ; and even the strong man, when he has reached the utmost limit of his strength in the pursuit of any strongly desired end, may break down completely, sobbing, freely shedding tears, or crying aloud to God for help.

Shand speaks of the sorrow of a child when we forcibly take away from him his toy. But this emotion, where it is not predominantly anger, is, I submit, the emotion of distress ; and the common sequence upon such an occasion is an outburst of anger, followed by the tears and cries of distress, when the child finds that his angry efforts are unavailing.

Shand maintains that hate, equally with love, may generate sorrow, when its object is seen to be healthy and prosperous. This seems to me to be a misuse of, or at least a laxity in the use of, the term, which we should strive to avoid; for only by the strictest care in our terminology can we hope to attain to further under-

( 412) -standing and general agreement in this difficult province of psychology. And it is the business of scientific writers to specialize the terms by which in popular speech our emotional states are denoted with little discrimination of their finer differences, rather than to ignore the finer shades of difference in well nigh synonymous words.

I submit, then, that our state of feeling on witnessing the success and prosperity of a hated person should not be called sorrow, but rather chagrin. This feeling is also one of the retrospective emotions of desire, but of the desire of hate, the desire to destroy, to bring down, or in any way thwart the hated object. It also is a form of regret, a regret having no element of tender emotion, but only the bitterness of thwarted anger and increased fear. And, if we have been striving against the hated object with all our powers and find our utmost efforts brought to nought, this feeling will include an element of distress, manifested perhaps by tears and sobs or even wild cries for help.

I turn now to consider an objection that may be raised against this simplified view of these emotions of desire. In an earlier chapter it was said that we properly speak of a man as having a timid or fearful, an irascible, an inquisitive, a humble, or a self-assertive disposition. The word disposition is here used in the larger sense, namely, to denote the sum total of the person's natural dispositions; and the qualifying adjective denotes the predominance in the total disposition of some one of the primary affective-conative dispositions. Surely, it may be said, we may with equal propriety speak of a hopeful, an anxious, or a despondent disposition. And, it may be asked, if that is a proper use of language, does it not justify Shand's assumption that each of these emotions springs from its own innate disposition, and is a primary

( 413) emotion in the same sense as fear, anger, disgust, tenderness, curiosity, or positive and negative self-feeling? If a man of timid or irascible disposition owes this peculiarity to the great strength or easy excitability of the disposition of fear or of anger, must we not assume that a man of hopeful or of despondent disposition owes this peculiarity in the same way to the native strength or excitability of a disposition of hope or despondency?

It must be admitted that the common use of language does not seem to justify this assumption of parellelism of the emotions of desire with the primary emotions. But, again, we must not allow ourselves to attach undue importance to the common forms of speech. If the facts can be more simply explained, we may disregard this evidence of common speech and accept the simpler explanation. First, I submit that the individual peculiarities which we are now considering, such as hopefulness and anxiousness, may be more properly spoken of as peculiarities of temper rather than of disposition. I suggest that we should speak of a man as having an irascible or timid disposition, but a confident or hopeful or despondent temper. Now, if these emotions and the corresponding peculiarities of temper were rooted each in its own innate disposition, as are the primary emotions, we should expect to find that they are independent variables. The primary emotions are independently variable; that is to say the native intensity and excitability of each of them varies from man to man, independently of the intensity and excitability of the rest of them; but obviously the derived emotions are not. The hopeful temper is a lesser degree of the confident temper; the despondent temper is closely allied to the despairing temper, and related to it as a lesser degree of the same tendency; while the anxious temper lies between

(414) the hopeful and the despondent; and every gradation occurs between the extremes of the confident and the despairing tempers.

But there are other forms of temper: there is the steadfast temper, and the fickle or variable temper; and there seems to be a range of native varieties of temper of which the extremes are denoted by the terms violent and equable or placid temper. It seems clear that these peculiarities of temper, which in the main are native endowments, are very important as determinants of character, exerting considerable influence upon the course of development of each man's character throughout his life, but especially in youth. How then are we to account for them? I presume that even Mr. Shand would not attribute fickleness of temper to a special innate disposition of fickleness, nor steadfastness nor violence nor placidity to corresponding special dispositions. Consider a number of men, all of well-balanced innate disposition, that is to say, endowed with dispositions in which no one of the primary affective-conative dispositions is disproportionately strong. These men may nevertheless differ widely in respect of temper.

The principal factors of temper seem to be of three kinds. First, the conative tendencies, though well balanced, may all be strong or all weak; or any or all of them may stand in some intermediate position in a weak-strong scale. Secondly, independently of their intensity, they may be either extremely persistent or but little persistent. That is to say, each man is natively endowed with conative tendencies (a will, if one uses that word in the widest sense as denoting the general power of striving, as distinct from the will in the more special sense in which it is identical with, or is the expression of, the developed character) which have two independently

( 415) variable attributes, namely intensity and persistence; they may be low or high in either scale independently of their position in the other. Thirdly, a great factor of temper, also independently variable, is the native susceptibility of conation to the influences of pleasure and of pain. There are some men whose desires and strivings seem to be very easily and strongly influenced by pleasure and by pain. Pleasure greatly strengthens, supports and confirms their conative tendencies ; and pain works powerfully in the opposite way, strongly checking, de-pressing and diverting their strivings and desires. These are the people of whom we say that they have very sensitive feelings. Some men, on the other hand, are comparatively indifferent to pleasure and to pain. They are not easily turned aside by pain, nor strongly led on by pleasure. Their feelings are not very sensitive, we say. It is impossible to know whether this difference is more properly described by saying that the strivings of men of the former class are more strongly affected by a given degree of pleasure or of pain, or by the statement that the pleasure and the pain they experience are more acute, and therefore exert greater influence upon conation. But that men do differ widely by native constitution in this way seems clear; and the differences are no doubt most obvious in respect of the influence of bodily pleasures and pains.

If it is true, as I suggest, that the conative endowment of individuals varies in these three ways, in respect of these three attributes, namely, intensity, persistence, and affectability, we can, I think, explain all the varieties of temper as being conjunctions of different degrees of these three attributes. There will be eight well-marked types, corresponding to the eight possible combinations : (1) The most steadfast and confident temper is that which results

(416) from the conjunction of high intensity and persistency with low affectability. (2) The most fickle and shallow temper results from the opposite conjunction, namely, high affectability with low intensity and persistence. (3) The conjunction of high affectability and high intensity with low persistence gives a violent unstable temper; the sort of man who alternates between confidence or hope and despondency or despair. (4) The despondent temper is that which combines low affectability and persistency with high intensity. (5) Great affectability combined with great persistency and low intensity gives the anxious temper. (6) The hopeful temper results from the conjunction of all three attributes in high degree. (7) The placid temper combines high persistency with low intensity and affectability; and (8) the conjunction of all three attributes in low degree gives the sluggish temper. It is possible that we ought to recognise two further native peculiarities, the one consisting in greater liability to the influence of pleasure than of pain, and the other the converse of this : these would account more adequately perhaps for the hopeful and the despondent tempers, and are perhaps required for their explanation.

If the foregoing account of the peculiarities of temper is approximately correct, the argument from the usage of common speech, when it refers to hopeful, anxious, or despondent dispositions, need carry no serious weight against the view of the nature of the derived emotions which is suggested in this chapter.

An objection of a different kind may be raised to this view. It may be asked—If hope and despair and despondency and the other derived emotions are not conative forces sustaining thought and controlling action, what function have they to discharge? Of what use are

( 417) they to us? This is a form of a wider question which may be asked of all the emotions, considered as modes of experience. And, of course, the question has been asked, in a still more general form, of experience or consciousness in general. Leaving that widest form of the question, I will attempt only to suggest an answer to the question which is applicable both to the primary emotions and to the derived emotions. I suggest that those qualitatively distinct modes of feeling which we call the primary emotions have the specific function of enabling the creature that experiences them to recognize its own state and tendency at the moment of experience, and also the state and tendency of other creatures of its own species. We may see the value for the control of behaviour .of such qualitatively distinct modes of feeling, if we imagine a man or an animal whose instinctive reactions were evoked without any such accompaniment, one in which the various instinctive modes of behaviour were excited without any change of feeling, or in which all the instinctive reactions were accompanied by the same quality of feeling, a perfectly general feeling of emotional excitement without specific varieties of quality. Is it not obvious that such a creature would be greatly handicapped in comparison with one in which the excitement of each instinctive mode of behaviour is reflected in consciousness by a specific quality of feeling? For the latter learns to recognise each of these qualities of feeling, and through them becomes aware of the tendency of its action ; and this is the necessary first step towards intelligent control of action. The other creature would find itself carrying out each step of the train of instinctive behaviour without having any power of fore-seeing the coming phase, and therefore without any possibility of preventing, controlling, or modifying its

(418) actions. The qualities of the primary emotions serve, I suggest, to enable mind or intelligence to get a grip upon instinct, and so begin to establish the control which in the well-developed character becomes well nigh complete. It seems obvious that the emotion-qualities sub-serve this function, and are indispensable to it in ourselves. One feels the awakening of, say, anger or fear within one as the behaviour of another man becomes insulting or threatening, and says to oneself—Now I must keep a tight hold on myself. Because the quality of the emotion implies the kind of actions which we shall be liable instinctively to display, we are enabled in some measure to counteract and control the tendencies to such actions. And, though it is more difficult to describe or to imagine the working of a similar process in the animal mind, we may fairly presume that on its lower plane and in simpler fashion the emotional experience of the animal subserves this same function. Further, if we consider how widespread and important among men and all the gregarious animals are the reactions due to the primitive sympathetic tendency, we shall see that the emotional qualities play an essential part in enabling each of us to understand the state of mind of our fellows, and therefore to some extent to foresee and adapt ourselves to the actions they are about to display. It is difficult to see how we could ever achieve any sympathetic insight into the minds and hearts of our fellow men, if we were not equipped with these capacities for the specific qualities of emotion and the primitive tendency to experience them when we witness their outward manifestations in our fellows.

The derived emotions may be supposed to subserve a similar function in human life, although in the animal world they seem to occur only in the most rudimentary forms.


  1. London, 1914.
  2. He writes: "Desire is then a very complex emotional system, which includes actually or potentially the six prospective emotions of hope, anxiety, disappointment, despondency, confidence, and despair" (p. 463). And he tells us that "desire .. . is essentially an organisation of those emotional dispositions which are characteristic of its process." Shand thus describes "desire" as a complex disposition similar in nature to the complex sentiments of love or hate. Yet he is clearly aware that desire is not in the least comparable to either a sentiment or one of the primary emotions. For in another place (p. 519) he writes that desire is an abstraction, and that "it is a complete mistake to represent desire as an independent force, and to suppose that it can be co-ordinated either with the emotions or with the sentiments." This reveals very clearly the confusion into which he has fallen, a confusion which runs throughout the whole of his book, and which is largely due to his failure to hold fast to the very important distinction between facts of mental function and facts of mental structure. Desire, like the emotions, is a fact of mental function, a mode or aspect of mental activity, and may and does arise whenever any strong impulse or conative tendency cannot find immediate satisfaction. Dispositions within which, or from which, emotions and desires arise are facts of mental structure.
  3. It is perhaps worth while to point out that this view of the nature and condition of "confidence" points the way to a more satisfactory account of "belief" than any that we as yet have. It has been generally recognized that action, or readiness to act, upon belief is the best, if not the sole objective evidence of its reality. It is perhaps less generally recognised that belief is always determined by conation, that there is no belief without desire; yet such seem to be the fact. Propositions about things that awake in us no desire, no conation, are neither believed, nor disbelieved, nor doubted; in face of them we remain merely neutral. It has also been widely recognized that belief is a state of an emotional nature, or at least allied to the emotions. I suggest that "belief" is essentially the same emotional state as "confidence", and is accordingly a member of the continuous series of derived emotions of desire. The only essential difference between "confidence" and "belief" is that the former feeling qualifies our active striving toward a desired end, while "belief" is the feeling which qualifies processes on the plane of intellectual activity which cannot issue forth-with in action. If I have good evidence that a desired object is at a certain price, I go with confidence to find it; but if I also know that there is no possibility of access to that place, I merely believe that the desired object is there. Doubt bears the same relation to belief that anxiety bears to confidence; it is anxiety on the plane of intellectual activity when action is necessarily postponed or suspended.
  4. Op. cit., p. 482.
  5. See p. 59.
  6. See p. 443.
  7. This sentence illustrates very well the dangers of admitting to scientific discourse the looseness of language permissible in poetry. How is despair to exclude hope, if it only arises after all hope has already been excluded?

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