Excerpt from The American Journal of Psychology, 1922, Vol. 33
Now what are the properties which characterize the organism as a unit but which do not characterize any of its elementary parts? There may be many such properties; but may they not be summed up by saying that the ... chief characteristic of the organism as a unit is the valuing process? Is not this the really unique quality of an organism, and is not the organism in its various activities governed by this valuing process? We have already seen that instincts, taken as mechanistic or behavioristic entities, cannot really determine or give rise to values in any sense. They can merely tend to give rise to a certain more or less stereotyped response. The values which instincts apparently give rise to derive their significance solely from the relation between particular instinctive tendencies and the tendency of the organism as a unit. And the tendency of the organism at any particular moment is just this practical value judgment, whether explicit or implicit, conscious or subconscious, which uniquely expresses the impulse of any one instinct in terms of its organic setting.
Now, although we have explained this principle after a chem ical analogy, it by no means follows that the term mental chemistry, as stated by J. S. Mill, applies to the situation which we have in mind. For instance, according to the princi ple of fusion, chemistry is quite within its field in predicting from a compounding of hydrogen and oxygen a substance with the chemical properties of hoh. But hoh, in a situation in volving the organism, has qualities or values quite independent of their chemical explanation. In relation to the organism, hoh may be water, a substance having the quality of wetness, and this quality is itself a factor which enters into the causal series and which determines the uses to which water Shall be put. Just so, the actions of any theoretically isolated instinct may be explained in chemical, mechanistic, or biological terms, but in its organic setting it expresses itself uniquely in terms of organic values which themselves affect the operation of that instinct and which are not explained by the elements of which they seem to consist.
About the Publisher
Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.