Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Samuel Alexander

Australian-born British Philosopher, first Jewish Fellow of an Oxbridge College

"Though religion... always envelops conduct, the sentiment of religion and the sense of moral value are distinct."

"A conational psychology may accordingly with perfect correctness employ this resource on the same principle as we infer from a man's energetic language the strength of his sentiments."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Instinct has introduced us to the existence of a qualifying or tied conative tendency."

"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."

"Now the acts of expecting and remembering are the theoretical or speculative forms of the same conative activity which in its practical form is desire."

"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."

"Psychology is the science of the act of experiencing, and deals with the whole system of such acts as they make up mental life."

"Such being the nature of mental life, the business of psychology is primarily to describe in detail the various forms which attention or conation assumes upon the different levels of that life."

"The difference in the perceiving of a star and a tree is a variation in some intrinsic character which belongs to conation as such."

"The great usefulness of speculation for mental life lies in its thus suspending practice and introducing consideration."

"The interval between a cold expectation and a warm desire may be filled by expectations of varying degrees of warmth or by desires of varying degrees of coldness."

"The mental act of sensation which issues in reflex movement is so simple as to defy analysis."

"The perceptive act is a reaction of the mind upon the object of which it is the perception."

"The reproductive conation means anyhow the existence in the mind of a conation in the absence of the memory object or rather in the absence of objects revealed as sensory."

"The sensory acts are accordingly distinguished by their objects."

"The thing of which the act of perception is the perception is experienced as something not mental."

"Theoretical acts of mind are such as subserve the continuance of the object before the mind without alteration of it."

"Thus a remembered object (event) is remembered as mine."

"Thus the same object may supply a practical perception to one person and a speculative one to another, or the same person may perceive it partly practically and partly speculatively."

"Thus we have to recognize that a thing as perceived contains besides sensory elements other elements present to the mind only in ideal form."

"Time is the Mind of Space."

"True, also, the psychosis is a different one according as the object is a sensum, an ideatum, etc; or according to the various sensory qualities of the object; or according to the various categories under which he thing presents itself."

"We cannot tell why one sensory process should make us see green and another make us see blue and another make us smell scent."

"We cannot therefore say that mental acts contain a cognitive as well as a conative element."

"What is the meaning of the togetherness of the perceiving mind, in that peculiar modification of perceiving which makes it perceive not a star but a tree, and the tree itself, is a problem for philosophy."

"What the occasions are which lead to the emergence of free images is no means clear."

"When we come to images or memories or thoughts, speculation, while always closely related to practice, is more explicit, and it is in fact not immediately obvious that such processes can be described in any sense as practical."

"You can mark in desire the rising of the tide, as the appetite more and more invades the personality, appealing, as it does, not merely to the sensory side of the self, but to its ideal components as well."