Thought-Culture or Practical Mental Training

The most advanced authorities of the day, are inclined to the opinion that both Matter and Mind are both differing aspects of some one fundamental Something; or, as some of the closest thinkers state it, both are probably two apparently differing manifestations or emanations of an Underlying Something which, as Spencer says: “transcends not only our reason but also our imagination.” The study of philosophy and metaphysics serves an important purpose in showing us _how much we do not know_, and why we do not know–also in showing us the fallacy of many things we had thought we did know–but when it comes to telling us the real “why,” actual cause, or essential nature of _anything_, it is largely a disappointment to those who seek fundamental truths and ultimate reasons. It is much more comfortable to “abjure the ‘Why’ and seek the ‘How'”–if we can.

Many psychologists classify the activities of the mind into three general divisions; _viz._, (1) Thinking; (2) Willing; (3) Feeling. These divisions, which result from what is known as “the tri-logical classification,” were first distinctly enunciated by Upham although Kant had intimated it very plainly. For many years before the favored division was but two-fold the line of division being between the _cognitive_, or knowing, activities, and the _conative_, or acting, activities, generally known as the Understanding and the Will, respectively. It took a long time before the authorities would formally recognize the great field of the Feelings as forming a class by themselves and ranking with the Understanding and the Will. There are certain sub-divisions and shadings, which we shall notice as we proceed, some of which are more or less complex, and which seem to shade into others. The student is cautioned against conceiving of the mind as a thing having several compartments or distinct divisions. The classification does not indicate this and is only intended as a convenience in analyzing and studying the mental activities and operations. The “I” which feels, thinks and acts is the same–one entity.

As Brooks well says: “The mind is a self-conscious activity and not a mere passivity; it is a centre of spiritual forces, all resting in the background of the ego. As a centre of forces, it stands related to the forces of the material and spiritual universe and is acted upon through its susceptibilities by those forces. As a spiritual activity, it takes the impressions derived from those forces, works them up into the organic growth of itself, converts them into conscious knowledge and uses these products as means to set other forces into activity and produce new results. Standing above nature and superior to its surroundings, it nevertheless feeds upon nature, as we may say, and transforms material influences into spiritual facts akin to its own nature. Related to the natural world and apparently originating from it, it yet rises above this natural world and, with the crown of freedom upon its brow, rules the natural obedient to its will.”

In this book, while we shall fully and unquestionably recognize the “tri-logical classification” of the activities of the Mind into the divisions of Thinking, Willing and Feeling, respectively, nevertheless, we shall, for convenience, use the term “Thought” in its broadest, widest and most general sense, as: “The power or faculty of thinking; the mental faculty; the mind,” rather than in its narrower and particular sense of: “the understanding or cognitive faculty of the mind.” Accordingly, we shall include the cultivation of the mental activities known as Attention, Perception, Imagination, etc., together with the strictly cognitive faculties, under the general term of Thought-Culture.