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Samuel Alexander Quotes


An Australian-born British philosopher.
(1859 - 1938)

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A mental act is cognitive only in the sense that it takes place in reference to some object, which is said to be known.
 

An expectation is a future object, recognized as belonging to me.
 

An object is not first imagined or thought about and then expected or willed, but in being actively expected it is imagined as future and in being willed it is thought.
 

Both expectations and memories are more than mere images founded on previous experience.
 

But though cognition is not an element of mental action, nor even in any real sense of the word an aspect of it, the distinction of cognition and conation has if properly defined a definite value.
[Action]
 

But unfortunately Locke treated ideas of reflection as if they were another class of objects of contemplation beside ideas of sensation.
 

Curiosity begins as an act of tearing to pieces or analysis.
[Curiosity]
 

Desire in general, as the word is commonly used, is directed upon the past; to which the name is inappropriate.
 

Desire then is the invasion of the whole self by the wish, which, as it invades, sets going more and more of the psychical processes; but at the same time, so long as it remains desire, does not succeed in getting possession of the self.
 

For psychological purposes the most important differences in conation are those in virtue of which the object is revealed as sensed or perceived or imaged or remembered or thought.
 

Hence, in desiring, the more the enjoyment is delayed, the more fancy begins to weave about the object images of future fruition, and to clothe the desired object with properties calculated to inflame the impulse.
 

In the act of perception there are accordingly these two things, the mind engaged in a certain act, and the thing called the tree which is not mental.
 

In the perception of a tree we can distinguish the act of experiencing, or perceiving, from the thing experienced, or perceived.
 

It is a different and independent thing, and the character of the mental act only determines how much of the object is apprehended and in what form.
 

It is convenient to distinguish the two kinds of experience which have thus been described, the experienc-ing and the experienc-ed, by technical words.
 

It is more difficult to designate this form of conation on its practical side by a satisfactory name.
 

It may be added, to prevent misunderstanding, that when I speak of contemplated objects in this last phrase as objects of contemplation, the act of contemplation itself is of course an enjoyment.
 

Mental life is indeed practical through and through. It begins in practice and it ends in practice.
 

On the contrary, enjoyments can be understood and analyzed, and it is the business of psychology to analyze enjoyments.
 

Practical acts are such as, through the medium of our bodily movements, alter the object or its relation to ourselves or to other subjects.
 


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