Analysis Mind by Russell Bertrand

By Russell Bertrand

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When the discomfort ceases, or even when it appreciably diminishes, we have sensations possessing a property which we call pleasure. Pleasurable sensations either stimulate no action at all, or at most stimulate such action as is likely to prolong them. I shall return shortly to the consideration of what discomfort and pleasure are in themselves; for the present, it is their connection with action and desire that concerns us. Abandoning momentarily the standpoint of behaviourism, we may presume that hungry animals experience sensations involving discomfort, and stimulating such movements as seem likely to bring them to the food which is outside the cages.

We may say, speaking somewhat roughly, that a stimulus applied to the nervous system, like a spark to dynamite, is able to take advantage of the stored energy in unstable equilibrium, and thus to produce movements out of proportion to the proximate cause. Movements produced in this way are vital movements, while mechanical movements are those in 34 The Analysis of Mind which the stored energy of a living body is not involved. Similarly dynamite may be exploded, thereby displaying its characteristic properties, or may (with due precautions) be carted about like any other mineral.

If our theory of desire is correct, a belief as to its purpose may very well be erroneous, since only experience can show what causes a discomfort to cease. When the experience needed is common and simple, as in the case of hunger, a mistake is not very probable. g. erotic desire in those who have had little or no experience of its satisfaction—mistakes are to be expected, and do in fact very often occur. The practice of inhibiting impulses, which is to a great extent necessary to civilized life, makes mistakes easier, by preventing experience of the actions to which a desire would otherwise lead, and by often causing the inhibited impulses themselves to be unnoticed or quickly forgotten.

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