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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Illustrations of unconscious memory in disease

by Charles Creighton


* Hamilton, in his edition of Reid (p. 551) says: "Mr. Stewart has made an ingenious attempt to explain sundry of the phenomena referred to the occult principle of habit, in his chapter on Attention, in the first volume of his ' Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind.' It is to be regretted that he had not studied (he even treats it as inconceivable) the Leibnitzian doctrine of what has not been well denominated obscure perceptions or ideas—that is, acts and affections of mind, which, manifesting their existence in their effects, are themselves out of consciousness or apperception. The fact of such latent mental modifications is now established beyond all rational doubt; and on the supposition of their reality, we are able to solve various psychological phenomena otherwise inexplicable. Among these are many of those attributed to habit."

"Consciousness supposes memory," says Hamilton, "and we are only conscious as we are able to connect and contrast one instant of our intellectual existence with another." Now, if we scrutinise more closely Hamilton's use of the word " memory," we shall come at once to the cardinal point in the problem of the unconscious: "Memory, strictly so denominated, is the power of retaining knowledge in the mind, but out of consciousness: I say, retaining knowledge in the mind, but out of consciousness; for, to bring the retentum out of memory into consciousness, is the function of- a totally different faculty. . . . We must further be endowed with a faculty of recalling it out of unconsciousness into consciousness; in short, a reproductive power. This reproductive faculty is governed by the laws which regulate the succession of our thoughts—the laws, as they are called, of mental association. . . . 3y reproduction it should be observed that I strictly mean the process of recovering the absent thought from unconsciousness, and not its representation in consciousness."

The retentum out of consciousness is the same as the vast reserve behind the scenes, the unconscious; it is to it that memory pertains, says Hamilton; it is a store or aggregate of memories. Memory in this Hamiltonian sense is otherwise named by him Conservation; whereas Reproduction, or the recalling into consciousness, is something over and above. On this Bain makes an important criticism : * "Hamilton's Conservative faculty, taken by itself, would be another name for Memory or Retentiveness. But when we take this with the third in the list, the Reproductive, including the Laws of Association, a very serious objection arises. Of Conservation apart from Reproduction, we know nothing. That I have a thing in my memory, means that, on a certain prompting, I can reproduce it, or make it present. Conservation, without reproduction, would be a nonentity; reproduction carries with it whatever we mean by conservation." The re-entrance, the recalling, the reproduction is indeed the ultimate fact. Of conservation apart from reproduction, as Dr. Bain says, we know nothing; conservation by itself would be a nonentity. Where, then, is the basis in knowledge for the reten* 'Senses and Intellect,' appendix, p. 639.

turn, for the vast reserve behind the scenes, for the unconscious?

Two years after the publication of Hartmann's 'Philosophy of the Unconscious' (1868), an address was given before the Vienna Academy of Sciences, by Dr. Hering, Professor of Physiology at Prague, on "Memory as a general Function of Organised Matter."* Hering's object is "to bring under one survey a large number of seemingly diverse phenomena, belonging in part to the conscious and in part to the unconscious life of the organism, and to consider them together as expressions of one and the same fundamental property of organised matter, namely, the property of memory or reproductiveness. ... It will be readily admitted, on closer scrutiny, that memory is not to be viewed as strictly pertaining to consciousness, but rather as a property of the unconscious. What I was conscious of yesterday and am again conscious of to-day—where was it from yesterday until to-day? As something of which I am conscious, it does not last; and yet it comes back. » . . That which lasts is the peculiar attunement (Stimmung) of the nervous substance, in virtue of which it will give out to-day the same note that it gave out yesterday, if the strings be touched aright. The single bond uniting the several phenomena in our consciousness lies in the unconscious; and, as matter and the unconscious are the same, physiology may with perfect right designate memory, in an extended use of the term, as a property of the brain-matter, the manifestations of which do indeed come in great part into our consciousness, but in another and not less essential part go unnoticed."

* ' Ueber das Gedachtniss als eine allgemeine Function der organisirten Materie.' 2te Auflage, Wien, 1876.

The step forward taken by Hering is to substitute Unconscious Memory for the Unconscious. Although the language of his essay would sometimes lead us to suppose that he holds the untenable position of Hamilton, that memory pertains to the retentum or to that which is out of consciousness; yet in bringing the facts of Generation and embryological development into his view of Unconscious Memory, Hering supplies the data, at least, of a positive basis of knowledge for the vast reserve behind the scenes, or a basis other than that which is got by prefixing the negative particle to Consciousness or to Conscious Memory. This brings us to the second of the two questions proposed at the outset, What is implied in Generation?

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