Modes Of Comparison

IN studying imagination we have seen that one thought or idea arises in connexion with another as a result of previous experience in which those two things have been closely connected. For example, an elephant might remind us of a zoological garden that we have known, or of the teak-wood forests of Burma. When this happens, however, there is no mental act of comparison between the elephant and the zoo or between the elephant and the teak forest. Their relationship is a case of proximity in the world of sense-objects. They simply happened to come together, just as a tree may grow on a mountain. The connexion is a matter of chance.

But when comparison between two things occurs, you have something more than experience and imagination. Then reason has arisen.

Because of the logical constitution of our minds we are capable of comparing any two things that exist. This comparison consists of two parts—we take note of the particulars in which the two objects resemble each other, and also of those in which the two differ from each other.

If we did not note the difference as well as the resemblance, there would be no comparison. The two things would be exactly the same. Suppose we compare a horse and an ordinary table—to take a rather far-fetched example. Well, you may laugh, but both are quadrupeds. Among the differences, which are many, the most striking is that one can move by itself and the other cannot.

It is not usual for us to need to compare such unconnected things. In practical life a carpenter might receive an order to make a chair and a stool. To do this he must be able to compare them; they are both articles of furniture to sit upon, but generally they differ in that one has a back and the other has not.

Another common comparison would be between a tree and a bush. I am not an expert botanist, so I can suggest only a very ordinary comparison—that while both are growing and woody plants, one has a long stem raising its foliage some distance from the ground, and the other has not.

Another element of reason is the perception of causes and effects. Very often, however, what people call causality is simply an example of contiguity in time. For instance, it may be said that gluttony is the cause of indigestion, and that fatigue is the cause of sleep. What we really mean is that we have observed that gluttony is generally followed by indigestion and fatigue by sleep. But really the cause is the peculiar physiological constitution of the animal or man; some creatures can stuff themselves with food to the limit, with no ill effects, and some of our muscles—for example the heart—never sleep. In common talk we say that if a lamp is brought into a dark room the light in the room is the effect of the lamp. It is not in a logical sense, but only in a popular sense, that the lamp can thus be called the cause.

A very ignorant person observing that day is always followed by night, and night by day, might think that day is the cause of night, and night again the cause of day. But the real cause is something which holds both the elements of the sequence in its grasp—the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun. If I say that the rotation of the earth is the cause of day and night, I have performed a rational act, in the department of causality.

The present section of our study will deal chiefly with the rational connexions between successive ideas in the mind. We will not separate them entirely from the imaginative connexions already considered, because, as the mind moves on from one idea to another, sometimes it proceeds by a rational road and sometimes by one directed by imagination.

I have already presented the student with an outline of the four Roads of Thought, and explained that three of them involve rational acts of comparison while the fourth relates to strong impressions on the imagination through the senses. Objects coming together in the mind are thus connected either by comparison or contiguity. To avoid any possible confusion of these two, I will now give more examples of contiguity; the student will then be in a position to ignore all cases of contiguity while studying the three roads of comparison, with their subdivisions.

Contiguity. When I think of a banyan tree, at once I also think of the huge tree outside the window of a room where I used to write, and of the squirrels and crows which thronged its branches. A banyan tree is not necessary to the idea of squirrels, nor are they any part or connexion of a banyan tree; nevertheless, these have been so closely associated— quite accidentally—in my experience that the thought of either now evokes a picture containing both. There are probably few of us who can think of the Duke of Wellington without some vision or idea of the battle of Waterloo; or again of Napoleon without some thought of Corsica or of the island of Saint Helena, because these are always pictured together in history; yet they are not necessary associates. A thought of William the Conqueror is almost inseparable from another of the village of Hastings, not because these are necessarily connected, but because they are vividly, though accidentally, presented together in experience. Another case is that of George Washington and the cherry tree.

Similarly we all remember incidents connected with the places where we have lived, the countries, towns, houses, rooms, furniture, people, accidents of every kind—an immense collection of incidents. For me, many events of childhood can be recalled and placed in their proper relation and sequence by their connexion with the houses in which I

lived at different times. It is a personal matter, in which the contents of my mind are bound to differ from those of others. Again the idea of elephants is for me particularly associated with the city of Baroda, because when I was there for the first time I was each night awakened by an imposing procession of them passing the balcony on which I lay. For many people it is, no doubt, more closely linked with pictures of the zoo, of great wooden bars and the ringing of bells for pennies and biscuits.

More familiarly, pen is associated with hand, boots with feet, carriage with horse, ship with sea, sleep with bed, spade with garden, letter with post office, cow with grass, and so on to an unlimited extent. Yet all these pairs of ideas have purely accidental connexions, the members of each pair having no comparative relationship with each other. They are contiguous, having a relation for sense or imagination, but not for reason.

It is different, however, with banyan tree and hanging roots, squirrel and bushy tail, crow and black colour, Wellington and Napoleon, cherry tree and blossom, cow and horse, possibility and impossibility, house and room, elephant and trunk, Bombay and Baroda. All these have a relationship of comparison of some kind. A banyan without its roots, or an elephant without its trunk, would be incomplete ideas, while cows and horses, Wellington and Napoleon, Bombay and Baroda, obviously resemble each other in their respective pairs.

Let us now examine more in detail the first three Roads of Thought—those concerned with comparison; the first Road can be conveniently subdivided into three, and the second and third into two each—

I. Class

A. This occurs when one idea includes another because of a principal characteristic which one has in part and the other in whole. It may be otherwise expressed as the connexion between an object and the class to which it belongs. Examples are: animal and cow; Englishman and man; dwelling and house; drink and tea. We may symbolize the relationship by one circle within another, thus—

B. This occurs when two ideas or objects have a principal characteristic in common, that is, when two objects belong to the same class. Examples are: cow and horse (both animals); chair and table (both articles of furniture); red and blue (both colours); daisy and buttercup (both flowers); train and ship (both means of transport); box and bag; snow and ice; father and son; beech and oak. We may symbolize the relationship by two circles overlapping, as shown in Fig. B page 78.

C. This occurs when two ideas or objects have a principal characteristic in common, but express opposite degrees in regard to it. Examples are: hot and cold (both temperatures, but opposite); up and down (opposite directions); animate and inanimate; curvilinear and rectilinear; fire and water; light and darkness; sage and fool; king and peasant. We may symbolize the relationship as shown in Fig. C page 78.

A. This occurs when two things or ideas are respectively whole and part of some natural object or idea. Examples

2. Part

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