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only follow its threads so far as they have strayed over within the bounds of consciousness. We might as well hope to familiarise ourselves with the world of forms that teem within the bosom of the sea by observing the few that now and again come to the surface and soon return into the deep.
The bond of union, therefore, which connects the individual phenomena of our consciousness lies in our unconscious world; and as we know nothing of this but what investigation into the laws of matter teach us—as, in fact, for purely experimental purposes, "matter" and the "unconscious" must be one and the same thing— so the physiologist has a full right to denote memory as, in the wider sense of the word, a function of brain substance, whose results, it is true, fall, as regards one part of them, into the domain of consciousness, while another and not less essential part escapes unperceived as purely material processes.
The perception of a body in space is a very complicated process. I see suddenly before me, for example, a white ball. This has the effect of conveying to me more than a mere sensation of whiteness. I deduce the spherical character of the ball from the gradations of light and shade upon its surface. I form a correct appreciation of its distance from my eye, and hence again I deduce an inference as to the size of the ball. What an expenditure of sensations, ideas, and inferences is found to be necessary before all this can be brought about; yet the production of a correct perception of the ball was the work only of a few seconds, and I was unconscious of the individual processes by means of which it was effected, the result as a whole being alone present in my consciousness.
The nerve substance preserves faithfully the memory of habitual actions.1 Perceptions which were once long and difficult, requiring constant and conscious attention, come to reproduce themselves in transient and abridged guise, without such duration and intensity that each link has to pass over the threshold of our consciousness.
We have chains of material nerve processes to which eventually a link becomes attached that is attended with conscious perception. This is sufficiently established from the standpoint of the physiologist, and is also proved by our unconsciousness of many whole series of
1 See quotation from Bonnet, p. 84 of this volume. By "preserving the memory of habitual actions" Professor Hering probably means, retains for a long while and repeats motion of a certain character when such motion has been once communicated to it./—Ed,
ideas and of the inferences we draw from them. If the soul is not to slip through the fingers of physiology, she must hold fast to the considerations suggested by our unconscious states.. As far, however, as the investigations of the pure physicist are concerned, the unconscious and matter are one and the same thing, and the physiology of the unconscious is no "philosophy of the unconscious."
By far the greater number of our movements are the result of long and arduous practice. The harmonious co-operation of the separate muscles, the finely adjusted measure of participation which each contributes to the working of the whole, must, as a rule, have been laboriously acquired, in respect of most of the movements that are necessary in order to effect it. How long does it not take each note to find its way from the eyes to the fingers of one who is beginning to learn the pianoforte; and, on the other hand, what an astonishing performance is the playing of the professional pianist. The sight of each note occasions the corresponding movement of the fingers with the speed of thought—a hurried glance at the page of music before him suffices to give rise to a whole series of harmonies; nay, when a melody has been long practised, it can be played even while the
player's attention is being given to something of a perfectly different character over and above his music.
The will need now no longer wend its way to each individual finger before the desired movements can be extorted from it; no longer now does a sustained attention keep watch over the movements of each limb; the will need exercise a supervising control only. At the word of command the muscles become active, with a due regard to time and proportion, and go on working, so long as they are bidden to keep in their accustomed groove, while a slight hint on the part of the will, will indicate to them their further journey. How could all this be if every part of the central nerve system, by means of which movement is effected, were not able1 to reproduce whole series of vibrations, which at an earlier date required the constant and continuous participation of consciousness, but which are now set in motion automatically on a mere touch, as it were, from consciousness—if it were not able to reproduce them the more quickly and easily in proportion to the frequency of the repeti
1 It should not be "if the central nerve system were not able to reproduce whole series of vibrations," but "if whole series of vibrations did not persist though unperceived," if Professor Hering intends what I suppose him to intend.—Ed.
tions—if, in fact, there was no power of recollecting earlier performances? Our perceptive faculties must have remained always at their lowest stage if we had been compelled to build up consciously every process from the details of the sensation-causing materials tendered to us by our senses; nor could our voluntary movements have got beyond the helplessness of the child, if the necessary impulses could only be imparted to every movement through effort of the will and conscious reproduction of all the corresponding ideas—if, in a word, the motor nerve system had not also its memory,1 though that memory is unperceived by ourselves. The power of this memory is what is called "the force of habit."
It seems, then, that we owe to memory almost all that we either have or are; that our ideas and conceptions are its work, and that our every perception, thought, and movement is derived from this source. Memory collects the countless phenomena of our existence into a single whole; and as our bodies would be scattered into the dust of their com
1 Memory was in full operation for so long a time before anything like what we call a nervous system can be detected, that Professor Hering must not be supposed to be intending to confine memory to a motor-nerve system. His words do not even imply that he does, but it is as well to be on one's guard.—Ed.