The Philosophy of the Present

Supplementary Essay 2: The Physical Thing[1]

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A. It is evident that a definition of the physical thing in terms of manipulatory and distance experience must apply also to the organism as a physical thing. The organism is seen and felt. We supplement what comes through direct vision by what is obtained through mirrors and visual images, and our hands come into contact with practically the whole surface of our bodies. Kinaesthetic and visceral experiences can be located as inside our organisms only when these organisms have attained outsides. If we use pressures of surfaces of our own bodies against each other in the experience of bodies acting upon us, this only takes place in so far as the body and other objects have been organized in a common field of physical things. Without doubt surfaces in contact and organic experiences bounded by these surfaces are, in the experience of the infant, the experiences out of which the outsides and insides of things arise. However, the child can delimit his bodily surfaces only through things not his body, and he reaches the entire surfaces of things not his body before he reaches his own organism as a bounded thing. Genetically the infant advances from the periphery toward his body. If he uses the pressures of the organism in putting insides into things, the body must earlier have been defined by its contacts with bounded things. It is important to recognize that this continues in experience to be the relationship between physical things and the body as a physical thing, and between physical

(120) things other than the body. We get by analysis into the insides of things only by reaching new outsides which are actually or imaginatively the conditions for that pressure experience which appears as the inside either of the body or of other physical things.

Sets of physical things are then defined by their boundaries, and among those things the bodily organism obtains its definition in the same fashion. If for example we regard the colors and tactual feel of things as dependent upon physiological processes within the organism, the argument proceeds upon the assumption of definable physical things including the organism as there. In experience there is no priority of reality ascribed to the bodily organism. If it is conceivable that the hand should pass through the table that is seen, it is equally conceivable that the hand should pass through the seen leg. These physical things are all of them distance experiences. That is, they are placed in a space, and to be so placed they are ordered from center 0 of a system of coordinates. The forms in which they appear are optical perspectives, and perception realizes them in terms of the experience of the manipulatory area, in which they are subject to the test of contact, for their perceptual reality; but they remain in that area visual objects. Within this manipulatory area the distortions of the optical perspectives disappear. Things reach standard sizes. That they have standard sizes implies that the center O may be found at any point where the things would have the spatial values found in this manipulatory area. The fundamental postulate of Newtonian physics that any set of Cartesian coordinates may be taken as the basis for the ordering and measuring of things and their motions is involved in our perceptual world. Conceptual thought has formulated logically the attitude of perceptual experience. The question then arises, what i's the nature of this attitude by which per-

(121) -ception shifts indifferently from one center to another?

In immediate perception distance stimulations are adequate to call out approach or withdrawal, and consequent contacts and consummations. That perception should present distant objects as having the physical values of the manipulatory area is not involved in the successful behavior of a percipient organism. To say that the memory image of the distant stimulation as it appeared in a manipulatory area is fused with the distant stimulation is to cover up a process with a term. It can be so fused because the distant stimulation is already a physical thing. Within the manipulatory area the object acts upon the percipient organism, and action in the perceptual experience means the pressure of its volume upon the organism. There are an infinity of other characteristics of its action, its temperature, its odor and so forth; but these are all characteristics of it as a massive thing, and this inner nature of the physical thing we never reach by subdividing its visual boundaries. There appears in the physical thing a content which originally belongs only to the organism, that of pressure, what Whitehead has called the "pushiness" of things, and the question is how it gets into the thing. Distant visual and contact tactual boundaries are there in immediate experience. I am not considering the metaphysical question of how we get from an inner experience to a world outside ourselves, but how distant and bounded objects get the insides of perceptual objects-insides never revealed by subdivision. The suggestion which I have already made is that the pressures of bodily surfaces against each other, preeminently of one hand against the other, are transferred to the object, and the question I am raising is how this transference takes place.

The only answer that I can give to the question is that the organism in grasping and pushing things is identifying

(122) its own effort with the contact experience of the thing. It increases that experience by its own efforts. To take hold of a hard object is to stimulate oneself to exert that inner effort. One arouses in himself an action which comes also from the inside of the thing. It comes from the inside of the thing because the experience is increased by the action of bodies upon organisms and upon other things within the perceptual world. The organism's object arouses in the organism the action of the object upon the organism, and so becomes endowed with that inner nature of pressure which constitutes the inside of the physical thing. It is only in so far as the organism thus takes the attitude of the thing that the thing acquires such an inside.

The formula for this process is that the thing stimulates the organism to act as the thing acts upon the organism, and that the action of the thing is the organism's resistance to pressure such as arises when a hard object is firmly grasped in the hand. The resistance of the object is continuous with the effort of the hand. In the development of the infant this experience must come earlier than that of its own physical organism as a whole. The infant must be placing this effort of his inside of things before he is in a position to identify the effort as his own. His surroundings stretch away on all sides, and colored shapes come to be located and familiar in a world within which his body comes finally to occupy a defined place. Meantime the pressure of his body and the grasping of his hands have to localize things from an inside attitude, and he finally reaches himself as a thing through the action of other things upon him. Matter is the name we give to this nature of things, and its characteristic is that it is identical with the response that it calls out. Weight as pressure, or inertia as resistance to change of rest or motion, is identical with the effort by which the weight is upheld or the body is brought into motion or

(123) set at rest. The body has an abundance of other characters which inhere in the matter, but none of these others has this characteristic. Color, sound, taste, and odor cannot be identified with the responses which they elicit, either in organisms or in other objects; while the experiential inner content of matter is identical with the responses which it calls out in things. It was the striking achievement of Renaissance science that it isolated this character of matter as inertia. Newton could refer to it either as the quantity of matter or as the property of matter by which it continues in its state of rest or motion unless acted upon by an external force. Inertia and force could then be equated. In the equations of Newtonian mechanics mass is defined in terms of force and force is defined in terms of mass. Here Newton was reflecting a fundamental attitude of experience toward things.

We are now, I think, in a position to answer the question raised earlier: how do we come to give to the thing at a distance the physical values of the manipulatory area? Another phrasing of the question would be; what is the experiential background of the homogeneity of space? In the first place, the continuity of the experience of effort and the matter of the physical thing provide a common inner nature of things that is recognized whenever the distance experience is completed in its contact implications. In the second place, this inner nature is there only in so far as it calls out the response of effort. The distant object, setting in train the responses of grasping and manipulation, calls out in the organism its own inner nature of resistance. We have here the basis for Lipps' empathy. It would be a mistake to regard this inner nature of matter as a projection by the organism of its sense of effort into the object. The resistance is in the thing as much as the effort is in the organism, but the resistance is there only over against effort

(124) or the action of other things. Brought thus within the field of effort, action and reaction are equal. The inner character of the thing is indeed due to the organism-to the continuity of effort and resistance. However, the character of innerness arises only with the appearance of the organism as an object, with the definition of surfaces and experiences of the organism that lie inside of its bounded surfaces. What I wish to emphasize is that the physical thing in contact pressures, and at a distance in awakening anticipatory manipulatory responses, calls out in the organism what is continuous with its own inner nature, so that the action of the thing where it is, is identified with the response of the organism. It is this that makes it possible for the organism to place itself and its manipulatory area at any distant object, and to extend the space of the manipulatory area indefinitely, thus reaching out of dissonant perspectives a homogeneous space. What is essential is that the physical thing arouses in the organism its own response of resistance, that the organism as matter is acting as the physical thing acts.

There are two expressions I have used above which call for further comment. One is the identification of the inner effort of the organism with the matter of the object. As I have indicated, this does not imply that the organism projects an inner content into the object. The resistance is there over against the effort, but in the organism of the infant there is not only the response of pressing against the thing, but also, through the integration of the central nervous system, the arousal of the response of pressing the other hand against the hand that is pressing the thing. The organism acts upon itself, and in acting upon itself its responses are identical with those it makes to things. The thing, then, arouses in the organism the. tendency to respond as the thing responds to the organism. We have learned

(125) in recent years that it is the function of the central nervous system in the higher forms to connect every response potentially with every other response in the organism. In a sense all responses are so interconnected by way of interrelated innervation and inhibition. There is a distinction to be made, however, between the object in the manipulatory area that is both seen and handled, and the distant object that is both out of reach and also lies in a visual perspective. We have seen that the continuity of effort and the resistance of matter facilitate the placing of the organism with its manipulatory area at the distant object. The sense in which this takes place is found in the responses which would arise at that location,-- responses which are aroused, though inhibited, within the organism. What I have just been indicating is that the distant object calls out the response of its own resistance as well as the effort of reacting to it. What is involved in a distant object being "there" is not simply the tendency to respond to it, even in an anticipatory fashion, nor is its location as a physical object achieved by a mere sensory image of its feel, unless we mean by the memory image the tendency in the infant's organism to press as the distant object presses, thus calling out the tendency to respond with his own pressure. It is this latter response that in our experience constitutes the physical object -- a something with an inside. I am convinced that this embodiment of the object in the responses of the organism is the essential factor in the emergence of the physical thing.

The object is there in its immediate resistance to the effort of the organism. It is not there as an object, however, that is, it has no inside. It gets its inside when it arouses in the organism its own response and thus the answering response of the organism to this resistance. What has been termed this nature of the object as it is called out in the organism appears in the sensation of hardness or re-

(126) -sistance. There is indeed, as Locke assumed, the same extended resistant nature in the experience of the individual as in the world, but for Locke this was in the experience of the individual an "idea," that is, a sensation. If we recognize the identity of resistance and effort, then the character of an "idea," i.e., something that belongs in the experience of the individual, comes to it when the response of the organism is aroused in the form of the resistance, the inner nature of the thing. These are, as we have seen, identical in character. Both the physical object and the organism are material. What must be shown is that the object arouses in the organism not only an organic response to the physical thing but also a response to itself as an object calling out this response. The mechanism by which this is accomplished is the cerebrum. The mechanism of the cord and its bulb is one simply of responses to outer stimuli. Such stimuli are imperative in their demands. The cerebrum, on the other hand, is an organ which integrates a vast variety of responses, including the lower reflexes, and is specifically the center for the distance sense organs located in the head. In the integrative process there are different alternative combinations and corresponding alternatives also for the inhibitions that integration necessarily involves. This introduces delay in response, and adjustment by way of selection of type of response, i.e., choice. Choice implies more than the contest of two or more stimuli for the control of the organic response. It implies that the situation is in some sense within the behavior pattern in the organism. What is not done defines the object in the form in which we do react to it. The bounding surfaces of an object, its resistances in various possible reactions upon it, the uses to which it could be put in varying degrees, go to make up that object, and are characters of the object that would lose their static nature if the responses they involve were actually carried out.

(127) They are competitors for the action of the organism, but in so far as they are not carried out they constitute the object upon which the action takes place, and within the whole act fix the conditions of the form the act takes on. All these responses are found in the nervous system as paths of reaction interconnected with all the other paths. If certain responses are prepotent they ipso facto inhibit all the others. It is possible to follow this process of inhibition in some detail in the use of antagonistic muscles and conflicting reflexes. There is as definite a relaxation of certain muscles as there is innervation of others. In order to carry out one response, the cerebrum inhibits other responses. The system is as responsible for what it does not do as for what it does.

Within the field of matter, the resistance which the volume of a body offers to the hand, or to any surface of the body, and the tendencies to manipulate it when seen at a distance, are organized in various ways. There is, for example, the tendency to pick up a book on a distant table. The form and resistance of the book are present in some sense in the adjustment already present in the organism when the book is seen. My thesis is that the inhibited contact responses in the distance experience constitute the meaning of the resistance of the physical object. They are, in the first place, in opposition to the responses actually innervated or in prospect of being innervated. They are competitors for the field of response. They also within the whole act fix the conditions of the actual response. I am referring specifically to the responses which go to make up matter in the distance experience. If I see a distant book an indefinite number of manipulatory responses are aroused, such as grasping it in a number of ways, opening, tearing its leaves, pressing upon it, rubbing it, and a host of others. One, picking up the book, is prepotent and organizes the whole act. It therefore inhibits all others. The tendencies to perform these others

(128) involve the same resistance of manipulation, and are now in direct opposition to the prepotent response; but while in opposition they provide the conditions for the exercise of the prepotent response. The feel of the book if one rubbed it, the contours if one passed one's hands about it, the possibility of opening the book, etc., determine the form that the grasping and lifting up of the book will take. In general what one does not do to the book, in so far as this calls out the same resistance as that given in actually manipulating the book, and in so far as it is inhibited by what one does do to the book, occupies in the experience the "what the book is" over against the response which is the expression of the act. Inhibition here does not connote bare nonexistence of these responses, for they react back upon the prepotent response to determine its form and nature. The way in which one grasps the book is determined by the other paths of response, both by those that are inhibited and by the controls of adjustments in which responses not carried out are yet partially innervated. The act is a moving balance within which many responses play in and out of the prepotent response. What is not done acts in continual definition of what is done. It is the resistance in what is not done that is the matter of the object to which we respond.

So far as the world exists for the organism, so far as it is the environment of the organism, it is reflected in the reactions of the organism to the world. What we actually come into contact with is there over against the organism, but by far the larger part of what surrounds us we do not rest upon nor manipulate. It is distant from us in space and in time; yet it has an inner content that is a continuation of what lies under our feet and within our grasp. These distant objects not only call out in us direct responses of moving toward or away from and manipulating them, but they also arouse in us the objects that act upon us from within our-

(129)-selves. I have been seeking to present the neural mechanism by which this inner nature of the outside thing appears in experience.

If the sight of the book calls out a direct response of movement toward it, there is in this response nothing but the excitement of the organism to that act. If, however, all the other responses the book may be responsible for, are aroused, they can only enter into the act in so far as they are inhibited or co6rdinated. They are in opposition to the prepotent response of moving toward the book until the integration of the act arranges them in their spatial and temporal relations with the inhibition of their immediate expression. It is this opposition which I have referred to as resistance. The brain is the portion of the central nervous system that belongs to the distance senses. It has, however, direct connection with the reflexes of the spinal system. It not only orients the head, and so the organism, toward distant objects, but also connects these distant stimuli with the responses of the trunk and the limbs which these objects call out when the organism has been brought into contact range of the objects, so that these later responses are aroused in advance of the situation within which they can be effectively innervated. The object is then expressing itself in the organism not only in stimulating it to approach or withdrawal but also in arousing in anticipatory fashion reactions that will later be carried out. By the term "expresses itself" I mean that the relations that make of the surrounding objects the environment of the organisms are active in the organism. The environment is there for the organism in the interrelationship of organism and environment. The delayed responses integrated in the act toward the distant object constitute the object as it will be or at least may be for the organism. Put that it may be an object it must have an inner content, which we refer to as the re-

(130) -sults of responses now delayed. That these should be in some sense present in the distant object is what calls for explanation. The explanation I am offering is in terms of the resistance they meet in the prepotent act with reference to which they must be integrated. This resistance is found in the adjustment and delay in execution and the inhibitions these entail.

The primary phase of this resistance we have found to lie in the matter of the physical object. The continuity of the resistance of the object with the resistances of parts of the organism to each other constitutes the matter both of the objects and of the organism, and carries over to objects the innerness of organic resistances to them, while the objects in their spatial organization lead to the definition of the organism as a physical object. But, as I have already noted, this resistance appears as the innerness of the physical thing only when the object calls out in the organism the object's own attitude of resistance. The physical thing uses our tendencies to resist in advance of actual contact, so that it exists in the behavior of the organism, not as the organism's sensation, but as the entrance of the organism into objects, through its assuming their attitudes and thus defining and controlling its own response. There is, of course, the immediate response of the organism to the pressure that comes upon it, into which the object as object does not enter. Here there is no character of an object which would be denominated as a sensation. There is merely the brute response of organism to its environment. But when this attitude of resistance of the object to the organism can be aroused within the organism itself, over against the organism's resistance to it, then there is that which a philosophy of mind could locate in the organism as mental - an idea, in Locke's sense. An examination of the growth of the infant's experience, however, shows that the environ-

(131) -ment must first have entered the organic responses of the child as a resistance it possesses in common with resistances which the organism offers to itself, before the organism could define itself and its experiences over against the physical things around it. It is the mechanism of the cerebrum which, in its connections with the responses of the cord and the brain stem, has made possible this playing the part of the physical object within the behavior of the organism; and in particular it has utilized the manipulatory responses of the hand in their interruption of the procedure of the response to its consummation. Here the common resistance of thing and hand opens the door to the thing to play its part in the behavior of the organism. And it remained for Renaissance science to isolate these measurable characteristics of the physical thing, as the conditions for all other characters of the thing as they appear in experience.

In immediate experience the thing is smooth or rough, is pleasant or painful, as directly as it is resistant. Smoothness or roughness or pleasantness or distress involve various responses carried out toward the distant object, and these enter into the organization of the act even though immediately inhibited. That they are not immediately carried out means that they are organized about the prepotent response of approach or withdrawal and subsequent reactions. My thesis is that the resistance which this organization of the act puts upon them identifies them as characters of the thing, though as qualities which inhere in the physical thing as a resistant object. The surface we call smooth calls out a tendency to stroke it, but that one may not do this until he has reached it and got hold of it means that the actual appearance of smoothness or pleasantness awaits the manipulatory resistance of the physical thing. The dependence of the appearance of these characters upon the act organized with reference to the attainment of the physical

(132) object is the organic phase of the contact reality of the distance object. My point is that this contact reality of the distance object asserts itself in neural organization by the inhibition of the reaction which these characters of the distant object call out through the organized act which realizes them. In so far as the tendency to stroke the distant smooth object is held in check by the organization of the act which will realize the tendency, it is an affirmation of the conditional reality of the smoothness of the object. If it cannot fit into the organization of such an act we dismiss it as illusory; e.g., the apparent wetness of the shimmer above the desert sand cannot be fitted into the act of going to and drinking the illusory water. It is the acceptance of inhibitions involved in the organized attitude of approach that confers these qualities upon the distant object. The resistances involved in organization lead up to processes that are aroused before they can be realized and which yet can determine the form of the act which completes them.

The development of the head, and of the cerebrum as the seat of the distance senses, has given to the organism the two fundamental characters that belong to mind. It has brought about the anticipatory arousal of reactions that can only be realized upon the accomplishment of the reaction of the body to its immediate resistances in reaching its goal. In the organization of the act so that these aroused but uncompleted reactions may be fulfilled it has introduced the future into the mechanism of the act, and the conditioning of the present and future by each other. Again, it has made possible the excitement within the organism of that resistance of the physical thing which is common to thing and organism. The physical thing external to the organism can call out its own response and the answering reaction of the organism, In the form of spatially defined resistance the action of the distant object is present in the responses of the

(133) organism, with its value in exciting the appropriate reactions of the organism. In the form of a response the distant object is present in the conduct of the organism. Furthermore, other characters of the object, dependent for their realization upon the carrying out of an organic act, become, through the organization of the responses to them into the act and the acceptance of its control, ways in which the object appears in the conduct of the organism. The object can thus appear in experience through the reaction of the organism to it, given the mechanism of the upper nervous system. It is there in the values it will have, reflected in the responses of the organism; but it is there in advance of the responses. And it is because the objects are there that the organism can become an object itself in its experience.

B. There is a characteristic difference between the so-called primary and the secondary qualities. The stuff of matter appears in the primary qualities of extension, effective occupation of space and mobility. These answer in our experience to what has been called by Newton the quantity of matter. This appears in immediate experience of the spatial resistance of the body. It appears in momentum. At least this is experience of the object as offering extended resistance, of our own bodies acquiring momentum, of the effort necessary to set a massive body in motion and to change its state of motion. Extension, volume, and resistance to change of rest or motion, these cannot be exactly defined in terms of our sensuous experience, but they are characters which enable us to put ourselves inside of the physical object. Its resistance is equal to ours. It feels the same. In the case of the secondary qualities the characters which appear in our vision, hearing, tasting and smelling cannot be shared with the characters in the physical object which they answer to. It is not by being red, or salt, or noisy, or

(134) redolent that the organism finds itself in relation with objects having these characters. It is by resisting that the organism is in relationship with resistant objects. If we seek for the biological mechanism of this experience, as we do for that of the other so-called senses, we find it in the resistances which the different parts of the organism present to each other. The hand, notably, presses against different parts of the body, and they, in response to that pressure, resist it. When one presses against the surface of a table he has the same experience as when he presses against his hand, except for the absence of the response of resisting the pressure of the other hand. But there is a common content there, by means of which the organism later passes over into the insides of things. In no other sensuous experience do we pass over into the thing. It can affect us by its color, odor, flavor or temperature, but the relation does not set up in us the character of the object. Resistance, or the effective occupation of space, Locke's "solidity," has in experience a common character, as Locke felt, which is both in the individual and in outer things. If we state it in terms of an "idea," of a sensation in the mind, the whole affair, external effect as well as internal feeling, is shut up in the mind, where Berkeley placed it, and where Hume left it to be dispersed with the other impressions of the mind. What calls for further analysis than the psychology of their period admitted is that phase of the physical thing which I have referred to as its inside. This term does not refer to the new surfaces discovered by subdivision of the thing. It does involve that unity of the thing which Kant and his idealistic followers located in the judging process; but it involves more than this-viz., an element of activity, expressed in the term resistance. When one hand presses against the other, each hand resists the other from the inside. As I have said, when the hand presses against a table there is an element in the

(135) resistance of the table that is identical with what we find in the mutual resistance of the two hands; but while the table resists the hand as effectually as does the other hand, the resistance of the table, taken as an abstracted experience, lacks the character of activity that belongs to the pressure of the opposing hand. Yet it requires an abstraction to take this character out of the table. To say that we put this character into the thing, whose mass or inertia resists forces acting upon it, means either going back to a doctrine of consciousness of stuff which separates the individual from physical things rather than interrelates him with them, or else it ignores the fact that the individual's organism comes into experience only as other objects define and orient it. Nor are we justified in assuming that an individual locates an inside within himself before he does in other things. It ought to be sufficiently evident, though it is in fact quite generally overlooked, that we become physical things no sooner than do the objects that surround us, and that we anatomize ourselves, as Russell has recently pointed out, only as we anatomize others. But it is possible to recognize in the evolution of the neo-pallium a mechanism by which higher organisms can live in an environment occupied by physical things, including themselves, all of which have insides. Undoubtedly a response from an inside must come from the organism and not from the physical thing outside it, but it cannot be located within the organism until the organism has been defined by its interrelations with other things.

What the extensive development of the cerebrum has made possible is the innervation and organization of responses in advance of their execution. When an organism endowed with such organs finds its hand pressing against a resistant object, there will be an experience common to the pressure of the object and of the other hand, and there will

(136) be also a stimulus to respond with answering pressure just as the other hand would respond. The organism has stimulated itself, by its action on an object, to act upon itself in the fashion of the other object. To an animal whose central nervous system includes only a spinal column and a brain stem, whose responses, therefore, take place without delay, such a tendency to react to its own reaction to an object would be incongruous and meaningless. To an animal, whose exteroceptors put it into relation with the object from afar, and whose neo-pallium enables it to start and organize its responses in advance of satisfying or dangerous contact, it is of immense advantage to be able to act in a manner in the place of the distant object and thus to be ready for its own subsequent reaction. Where the action of other things upon us is in some degree identical with responses of our own, so that the beginning of our action upon them can stimulate us to call out in our organisms delayed response that puts us in their attitudes, they can become objects to us at the same time that we can become objects to ourselves, since we are approaching our own later action from the point of view of the other. For we can never become selves unless the action in which we are involved includes action toward our own organisms. Undoubtedly to become conscious selves the mechanism of communication is necessary, but the matrix for communication is the stimulation we give to ourselves to act as those upon whom we are acting will act.

There are then two characters of the physical thing, if we regard it from the standpoint of the genesis of experience as we find it in the individual, and as we infer it to have taken place in the early history of the human community. The first character is that of the continuity of the experience of pressure in the organism and of resistance in the physical object. The experience of the organism in its contact with

(137) the physical object is the pressure which is the character of the physical object. This, as we have seen, distinguishes the contact experience from the experiences of so-called secondary qualities. What is experienced is the resistance of the physical thing, and the experience of this resistance is itself resistance in the organism. As the expression, "experience of," carries with it dangerous implications it is better to state the proposition in this manner: that in contact experience the resistant character of the object is identical with the resistant character of the organism; while in distance experience the character of the object is in no way present in the organism. The second character the object undoubtedly borrows from the organism, in becoming an object, that of actually or potentially acting upon the organism from within itself. I have also called this character that of "having an inside." It is the character of resistance identical in the organism and in the object that opens the door to this borrowing. To take the attitude of pressing against an object is to arouse in the organism the attitude of counter-pressure. This is a fundamental attitude reflected also in Newton's law of action and reaction. There must be an action of the object equal to the action of the organism upon it, in order that it may be in our experience a physical thing. In grasping the object, in pushing it, in leaning against it, in any manipulation of it, the object must come back upon the organism with equal resistance, if it is to be and maintain itself as a thing. Psychological analysis has here used the term "kinaesthetic imagery," and aesthetic analysis has referred to it as "empathy." We see the object not simply as offering passive resistance, but as actively resisting us. But the fundamental importance of these facts for the emergence of the physical object in experience has not, I think, been recognized. It is easily overlooked, because the attitude of the thing's response to pressure is identical with

(138) that of the organism, though opposite in direction. This opposition reveals itself in the appearance of the organism as a physical object. Such an object can only appear when the organism has taken the attitude of acting toward itself, and the invitation to this is found in the fact that we have stimulated ourselves by our attitude toward the physical thing to respond in pressure as the thing responds.

There are two matters to be considered here. One is the relatively late abstraction of the physical object from the social object and the necessity that the organism take the attitude of the other in order to become an object to himself. The other is the structure of space in our experience. This finds its expression in the Cartesian coordinates and in the preservation of the identical structure no matter where the origin of the system is placed. It is the first item in Newtonian relativity. In our perceptual space an individual finds the center of the system within himself, and the coordinates extend up and down, to right and left and before and behind him. They are organically given in his bilateral symmetry and his maintenance of his erect position over against a distant object in the line of vision. What I wish to point out is that perceptual space involves something more than this orientation. Distortions of distant visual space are corrected in perception to a very considerable degree. We see things in the dimensions and structure of the manipulatory area. That is, we extend to them the space of the manipulatory area. Now evidently this can only be accomplished in immediate experience if there is in perception a mechanism for taking the attitude of the distant object. It is the sight of the distant physical thing that stimulates the organism to take its attitude of resistance, which is the import of seeing a hard thing. The sight of a physical thing anywhere in our field of perception locates us there as well as where we are, and, indeed, because it

(139) locates us where we are. Over and above the tendency to move toward or away from the distant object, immediate location in perceptual space implies the presence of a thing at the point, and the presence of a thing beyond the stimulation to approach or move away involves the character of action of the thing at the point-its active resistance, borrowed, as I have said, from the responses of the organism.


  1. Sections (A) and (B) in this Essay are parallel accounts taken from two different manuscripts.

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