Speaking in the figurative sense, it may be said that the Kingdom of Mind over which the Ego—The Mind Master, or Master Mind—rules (or may rule if it will but assert its right and power to rule) is composed of three grand divisions, or states, namely:
(1) Feeling; (2) Thought; and (3) Will. The activities of the mind consist of Feeling, Thinking, and Willing. All mental states or processes will be found to come under one or the other of the said classes. And yet, so complex are the mental activities, that each of these three respective classes are usually found manifesting in connection with one or more of the others.
It is very seldom that we find a Thought without also finding a blending of Feelings, and usually a manifestation of Will, as well. Likewise, we seldom find a Feeling without a Thought connected or associated with it, and usually a manifestation of the presence of Will in connection with it. And, finally, we seldom find a manifestation of Will without the presence of Feeling, and of the Thought associated with the Feeling. But, nevertheless, there is a clear distinction between each of these three great classes of mental states or processes; and for the purposes of intelligent study of them it is almost imperative that we separate the mental states and process into these three classes, that we may consider, inspect, and analyze them into the elements.
In the preceding several chapters we have considered, inspected, and analyzed the great division or class of Feeling; and we shall now proceed to treat the great division or class of Thought in the same way.
To begin with, let us ask ourselves the question, "What is Thought? What do we mean when we say that we 'think'?" Unless we have previously looked up the definition, or else have carefully considered the matter, we will find it very difficult to express in words just what we mean when we employ the terms "thought," and "to think." We are sure that we do know, but the moment that we try to express the idea in words, then we find that we do not really "know" in the full sense of the term. Let us then turn to the reference books and see just what the best authorities have to say on the subject.
We find that "Thought" is defined as: "Thinking; exercise of the mind in any of its higher forms; reflection; cogitation." And that "Thinking" is defined as: "Using the higher powers of the mind; employing the Intellect; performing the mental, operation of apprehension, deliberation, or judgment." The above definitions (like many others of their kind) do not help us very much in the matter, do they? Let us seek the opinion of the psychologists. A leading psychologist tells us that: "To think is to compare things with each other, to notice wherein they agree and differ, and to classify them according to these agreements and differences. It enables us to put into a few classes the billions of things that strike our perceptive faculties; to the things with like qualities into a bundle by themselves, and to infer that what is true of one of these things will be true of the others, without actual experience in each individual case; and to introduce law and order into what at first seemed a mass of chaotic materials."
Another has said: "Stating the matter plainly, we may say that Thinking is the mental process of (1) comparing our perceptions of things with each other; (2) Classifying them according to their ascertained likeness or difference; and thus tying them up in mental bundles with each set of "things of a kind" in its own bundle; (3) forming the abstract, symbolic mental idea (or "concept") of each class of things, so grouped, which we may afterward use just as we use figures in mathematical calculations; (4) using these "concepts" in order to form "inferences"; that is, to reason from the known to the unknown, and to form judgments regarding things; (5) comparing these judgments and deducing higher judgments from them, and so on.
Many of us who are unfamiliar with the subject, will be surprised to know that they have been performing all of these several kinds of mental operations all their life, without knowing that they did so. They are like the man who when told the difference between poetry and prose, exclaimed: ''Well, just to think of it! Here I have been talking and writing 'prose' all my life, and I never knew it!" But the thinking mind really performs all of the several mental operations as a matter of everyday routine, without realizing the different stages. Just as you never realize or are conscious of the various distinct muscular actions you perform in the ordinary act of walking, so you are unconscious of the various mental actions you perform in the ordinary act of thinking; but in both cases you do perform the action, even though you may be unconscious of the mechanism employed therein.
And it is through this wonderful series of processes, built upon degrees of perfection as the race has evolved, that Man, even from the beginning has worked his way up from a position which was little above that of the higher beasts, to that of the mastery of the living creatures, and to the partial mastery of Nature, herself. And in the saint: way the Man of the future—the Man of the Master Mind, will evolve into a position as much higher than that of the average man of today as that of the latter is higher than that of his humble ancestor of the cave-dwelling and stone-age days. We are so accustomed to taking things for granted that we fail to appreciate the long road that man has traveled to attain his present position of intellectual supremacy, or the terrible struggles he has had along the road. The following quotation from a leading writer on the subject will perhaps give us a clearer understanding of just what Thought has meant, and has accomplished for Man; and also what it may have in store for the race in the future—and for the individual HERE and NOW who will attain the Mastery of Mind by becoming a Master Mind.
The writer in question says: ''Nature is constantly using her power to kill off the thoughtless, or to cripple them in life's race. She is determined that only the fittest and the descendants of the fittest shall survive. By the 'fittest' she means those who have thought and whose ancestors have thought and profited thereby.
"Geologists tell us that ages ago there lived in England bears, tigers, elephants, lions, and many other powerful and fierce animals. There was living contemporaneous with them a much weaker animal, that had neither the claws, the strength, nor the speed of the tiger. In fact, this human being was almost defenseless. Had a being from another planet been asked to prophesy, he would undoubtedly have said that this helpless animal would be the first to be exterminated. And yet every one of those fierce creatures succumbed either to the change of the climate, or to man's inferior strength. The reason was that man had one resource denied to the animals—the power of progressive thought.
"The land sank, the sea cut off England from the mainland, the climate changed, and even the strongest animals were helpless. But man changed his clothing with the changing climate. He made fires; he built a retreat to keep off death by cold. He thought out means to kill or to subdue the strongest animals. Had the lions, tigers or bears the power of progressive thought, they could have combined, and it would have been possible for them to exterminate Man before he reached the civilized stage.
"Man no longer sleeps in caves. The smoke no longer fills his home or finds its way out through the chinks in the walls or a hole in the roof. In traveling, he is no longer restricted to his feet or even to horses. For all this improvement Man is indebted to Thought."
And, continuing the same line of thought, it may be seen in the imagination how much further Man is clearly destined to proceed on the ascending path that leads to the mountain top of attainment. He has not only even now mastered the face of the earth, but has gone far toward the mastery of the seas and the depths under the seas; and is now well on his way to the mastery of the air as well. He has harnessed the forces of Nature, proceeding from the grosser to the fined—from steam to electricity—and still has a far more wonderful field to explore in the world of forces still finer than that of electricity.
It is said that in a single square foot of the air there is contained sufficient atomic power (if once released and transmitted to machinery) to run the entire machinery of the earth for many years! And, beyond that is the still finer forces of the ether, the power of which are almost incalculable.
Man is rapidly evolving from the plane of physical power on to that of mental power. The man of the future will be as a super-man compared to the men of today. He will use the powers of his mind so as to make the whole of Nature his slave. The individuals of the Master Mind are the forerunners of these Supermen. Even now, they are mastering adverse conditions by the powers of Thought; and day by day, year by year, the boundaries of the Unknown are receding before the Master Minds of the race, and their boundaries of their Mental Kingdom are spreading out before them in a wondrous progression. This, of all the ages of Man, is the Age of Thought! Surely the view is enticing and tempting to the awakening Ego. Here then, reader, is the work before you—the Mastery of Thought. You are invited to consider the principles of this wondrous attainment, and to proceed to the practical demonstration thereof.
Many persons believe that they are "thinking" when they are but exercising their faculty of memory, and that in merely an idle and passive manner. They are simply allowing the stream of memory to flow through their field of consciousness, while the Ego stands on the banks and idly watches the passing waters of memory flow by. They call this "thinking," while in reality there is no process of Thought under way. Some of these persons remind one of the old story of the man who when asked what he was doing when he sat so silently and quietly on the fence rail of the old fence; the old man. replying, "Waal, sometimes I sit and think, and other times I just sit.''
A writer has said of this confusion of ideas: "Thinking means a variety of things. You may have looked out of your train window while passing a field, and it may have occurred to you that that field would make an excellent baseball diamond. Then you 'thought' of the time when you played baseball, 'thought' of some particular game perhaps, 'thought' how you had made a grand stand play or a bad muff, and how one day it began to rain in the middle of the game, and the team took refuge in the carriage shed. Then you 'thought' of other rainy days rendered particularly vivid for some reason or other, or perhaps your mind came back to considering, and how long it was going to last. And of course, in one sense you were 'thinking.'
"But when I use the word 'thinking,' I mean thinking with a purpose, with an end in view, thinking to solve a problem. I mean the kind of thinking that is forced on us when we are deciding on a course to pursue, on a life work you take up perhaps: the kind of thinking that was forced upon us in our younger days when we had to find a solution to a problem in mathematics, or when we tackled psychology in college. I do not mean 'thinking' in snatches, or holding petty opinions on this subject and on that. I mean thought on significant questions which lie outside the bounds of your narrow personal welfare. This is the kind of thinking which is now so rare—so badly needed!
"The term 'thinking' is loosely used to cover a wide range of mental processes. These processes we may roughly divide into Memory, Imagination, and Reasoning. It is the last only with which we have to deal. I admit that development of the memory is desirable. I admit that development of the imagination is equally desirable. But, by 'thinking,' I mean Reasoning."
The same writer has well said: "Modern psychologists tell us that all Reasoning begins in perplexity, hesitation, doubt. It is essential that we keep this in mind, it differs from the popular conception even more than may appear at first sight. If a man were to know everything, he could not think. Nothing would ever puzzle him, his purposes would never be thwarted, he would never experience perplexity or doubt, he would have no problems. Were we to study the origin and evolution of thinking, we would doubtless find that thinking arose in just this way—from thwarted purposes. If our lives and the lives of our ancestors had always run smoothly, if our every desire were immediately satisfied, if we never met an obstacle in anything we tried to do, thinking would never have appeared on this planet. But adversity forced us to it."
Let us now consider the various stages of the mental process or processes that are involved in the activities that we call Thinking.
Analysis. The logicians tell us that the first step in the process of Reasoning is that of comparing one thing with another, for the purpose of discovering points of difference or likeness, and for the further purpose of classification according to those likenesses or differences. But in order to compare different things we must first have observed them and discovered their respective qualities; for the difference in things arises solely by reason of the difference in the qualities of the respective things. And, in order to discover the qualities of things, we must pursue the process of analysis.
Analysis means: "An examination of the component parts of anything, whether an object of the senses or of the intellect, for the purpose of reducing that thing into its original elements.''
Everything that is known to us in conscious experience is found to be composed and made up of certain "qualities." These qualities constitute the "characteristics" of the thing, and make the thing just what it is as distinguished from other things. We cannot think of a thing without qualities, and if we try to abstract the qualities from a thing, and then set aside these abstracted qualities, we find that we have nothing left of the thing. One perception of, or our representative idea of, any object is simply a perception or represented idea of the various qualities which we have discovered in the thing; this because the object itself is merely a composite of these qualities, at least so far as its perception in our consciousness is concerned.
We may realize the above fact more clearly if we apply it to some concrete and specific object. Take a horse, for instance: try to think of the horse without reference to its several qualities, properties, and attributes, and you will find that you have no distinct, idea of anything that can be known in consciousness—you have merely a name left, and nothing else, and the horse itself has disappeared. Or, take a rose: try to think of a rose without considering its color, its odor, its shape, its size, its response to touch, etc., and you have left simply the name of the rose. And this rule applies to anything and everything which we may know, or seek to know, in conscious experience.
This being so, it follows that in order to know anything, we must know what it is; and this "what-it-is" is known only by combining our knowledge of its several qualities perceived by us. And in order to know these several qualities, we must apply Perception in the direction of Analysis.
It is astonishing to most of us to discover how little really we know about the most common objects about us when we try to set down on paper a list of the qualities which we have discovered in the objects. Like the student of Agassiz, in the story told in a preceding chapter, we find that "what we don't know would fill a book." The cultivation of Perception will, of course, greatly increase our knowledge of the objects of our consideration.
Some good teachers have held that the best way of imparting instruction to pupils is that of asking them questions concerning the subject under consideration. This does not mean merely the asking of formal questions taken from a book, but questions designed to bring out the knowledge already in the minds of the pupil, and the further knowledge to be developed by the process of thought on the part of the pupil which are set in motion by the question. A writer has said of this plan:
"The questions should be asked for the purpose of unfolding their minds, and to teach them to lay up their knowledge in a natural and regular way. The questions should be asked in the form of general conversation, and not taken from books. The questions will be found to spring naturally out of the pupil's preceding answers, and should be asked as nearly as possible in his own words—the principle of similarity guiding the whole. Socrates, Plato, and others among the ancients, and some moderns, have been masters of this art. The principle of asking questions and obtaining answers to them may be said to characterize all intellectual effort. The child makes its first entrance into the field of knowledge by asking questions, and the crowning efforts of the philosopher are still asking questions and attempting to find answers to them. The great thing is to ask the right questions and to obtain the right answers."
Socrates, the ancient philosopher, was an adept in this form of extracting knowledge from the mind of his pupils and others with whom he came in contact. In fact, the method has since been known as "The Socratic Method." Socrates compared himself to the midwife assisting in the birth of a child, and claimed that the process of the birth of ideas was assisted by his method of intelligent questioning. Dr. Hodgson, in the last century, was a modern adept in the same method. His biographer has said: "This art of questioning possessed by him was something wonderful and unique, and was to the mind of most of his pupils a truly obstetric art. He told them little or nothing, but showed them how to find out by themselves. He said that the Socratic method was the true one, especially with the young."
Just as the student is assisted in the discovery of knowledge in his own mind concerning things, so is any person assisted in the same way by asking himself questions concerning "what do I know about this thing," and by the additional search made by the person in response to his discovery of how little he knows about the thing in question. But this self-questioning must be done logically, and intelligently, and not in a mere haphazard manner. A writer has said regarding this: "In proposing questions it is very necessary to keep in view the importance of arranging them in the exact order in which the subject would naturally develop itself in the mind of a logical and systematic thinker."
Many systems of extracting knowledge concerning subjects or objects have been devised by different teachers of the subject. The same general principle underlies them all. The following, known as "The Seven Questions," has been highly recommended by some careful students of the subject. Here the following Seven Questions are asked oneself concerning a subject or object under consideration:
In the "Seven Questions," we find that the first two questions bring out and establish the identity of the subject or object; the third brings out the action to or by the thing; the fourth and fifth, the place and time; the sixth, the reason or purpose; and the seventh, the manner of the action. It will be found that this apparently simple code of questions will bring out a wealth of detail regarding any subject, object, person, thing, or event.
A somewhat more complex method is mentioned in my work on "Memory Training," and has been used by me in my personal class work. It is as follows:
1. What is the name of this thing?
2. When did (or does) it exist?
3. Where did (or does) it exist?
4. What caused it to exist?
5. What is its history?
6. What are its leading characteristics?
7. What is its use and purpose?
8. What are its effects, or results
9. What does it prove or demonstrate?
10. What is its probable end or future?
11. What does it most resemble?
12. What are its opposites (things most unlike it)?
13. What do I know about it, generally, in the way of associated ideas?
14. What is my general opinion regarding it?
15. What degree of interest has it for me?
16. What are my general feelings regarding it—degree of like or dislike?
This system will bring out of your mind a surprising volume of information. Try it occasionally, and you will perceive its possibilities and degree of usefulness.
Comparison. The second stage of Reasoning is that of Comparison, i.e., of the process of comparing one thing, or class of things, with another—this for the purpose of discovering points of likeness or difference, which process will result in that of classification, a later stage. As we have seen, the process of Comparison must be preceded by that of Analysis, for we compare things only by comparing their respective qualities, and we discover these qualities only by the process of analysis of some kind of degree.
So important are the elementary process of thinking that some authorities have held that Thinking may be said to be composed of Analysis, Comparison, and Classification, the rest being but modifications or extensions of these elementary mental processes.
In Analysis we find that a thing has many characteristics, i.e., qualities, properties, or attributes. Then, by Comparison, we discover that other things (previously analyzed) have characteristics differing in kind or degree from those of the first thing. When the characteristics of two or more things are near in kind or degree, we say that the things are "like" each other. When we find that these respective characteristics are far apart in degree or kind, we say that they are "unlike" each other.
Philosophers have sought to group qualities into "pairs or opposites," it being held that each quality has necessarily an opposite quality or "contradictory." Thus we have hard and soft, high and low, wide and narrow, large and small, straight and crooked, up and down, far and near, etc.
The tendency to associate things according to ''likeness" manifests itself at a very low scale in human development, and is one of the first manifestations of the reasoning process in the mind of the young child. Many of these points of "likeness," however, are afterward discovered to be merely superficial. For instance, the guinea-pig is no pig at all, its name being given merely because its general shape resembled that of the pig. Again, a whale is commonly regarded as a fish, whereas it is not a fish at all, but is a warm-blooded animal, suckling its young—it is much more like a seal than like a fish, although its outer appearance is like that of the fish, and the fact that it lives in the water added to the first impression. Again, to the small child a lion or bear is a "big dog," and a cow is "a horse with horns."
Similarly, egg-plants obtain their name because of their formal resemblance to the egg; peanuts, because they are contained in a pod as are peas. Lamps originally were torches, and when a wick-burning vessel was employed as a substitute for the torchlamp the old name was retained. Similarly, we now speak of an "electric lamp," merely because the electric apparatus gives light as did the oil-lamp, or its predecessor the original torch-lamp.
It has been said that, in a way, the perception of "likeness" is to an extent, the perception of "un-likeness." In other words, if we did not recognize the existence of the "opposite" quality we would not recognize the first one. For instance, if all things were "straight" we would not have our attention called to "straightness" as a quality— we would take the condition for granted and would not think of it at all. If we dwelt in a region of perpetual daylight, we would not think of "daylight" or "daytime" at all; but as soon as we recognize the opposite or contrasting condition, i.e., that of "darkness" or "nighttime," we recognize the existence of "daylight" or "daytime." In short, we recognize a quality only when the "different thing" presents itself to us.
Experience, however, has given the race the almost intuitive and instinctive realization of "the pairs of opposites," or "contradictories." So true is this that the trained mind instinctively leaps to the thought of an "opposite" at the same time that it is considering any given quality. It thinks of this "opposite" not because of its "likeness" to the thing under consideration, but because of its "un-likeness" or difference. So true is this that psychologists hold that we can obtain a clearer and more distinct idea or mental image of anything if we will at the same time think of its "opposite"—either its opposite quality, or a thing whose qualities are markedly opposite to that of the thing under consideration. In associating a thing with others in our memory, or thought, we do so by (1) association with "like" things, and (2) by association with "unlike" ones. The greater the "likeness" the greater is the strength and value of the first form of association; and the greater the "unlikeness" the greater is the strength and value of the second form.
A very warm place is remembered easily in connection with another very warm place; or, equally well, in connection with a very cold place. Mention a celebrated giant, and the mind first recalls the idea of other giants, and then flies to the other extreme and thinks of celebrated dwarfs. A very fat man suggests (a) other fat men, and (b) very thin men. In the above cases we find that the memory does not recall men of average statute or average weight. What is said here regarding the tendency of the memory is also true concerning the processes of general thought.
The most common points of Comparison, for the purpose of discovering "likeness" and "unlikeness," are as follows: Name; Place; Time; Shape; Cause; Effect; Use; Actions; General Idea or Character; History; Origin; and Destination. Apply your test of Comparison along the lines of each of the above mentioned points concerning the things being compared by you, and you will build up a strong web of associations which will hold fast your thought and memory concerning the respective things. The more associations you have concerning a thing, the better will you "know" that thing.
Classification. The third stage of Reasoning is that of Classification, of the process of "tying in bundles" of thought and association the things which resemble each other, so as to be reason concerning these numerous separate things afterward. The process of Classification is of course opposite to that of Analysis; the first consists of taking apart the qualities of things for the purpose of examination, while the second consists of putting together things for the purpose of reasoning about them. Classification is also often spoken of as Generalization.
It is a fundamental principle of psychology that several distinct things may be associated in memory, and in the reasoning processes, by reason of their having been grouped into logical and natural classes, families, divisions, etc. This process is akin to that of placing together in the same compartment, drawer, or envelope, the things which are "alike" each other. The receptacle is also generally found immediately adjoining one containing the things as nearly opposite in character as possible—each set of things being classified in direct contrast with its opposite. This fact being perceived, it will also be seen that the man of trained intellect will be found to have acquired the habit of careful classification and generalization. This mental characteristic, by the way, is almost invariably possessed by persons of the scientific type of mind—not only those engaged in the ordinary scientific pursuits, but also the efficient individuals in the professions, trades, and branches of business. The efficient man in any walk of life is usually found to have acquired the scientific habit of classification, grouping of ideas, and mental-filling methods.
A writer has said concerning this: "The man who has not properly classified the myriad individual objects with which he has to deal, must advance like a cripple. He only can travel with seven league boots, who has thought out the relations existing between these stray individual objects, and put them into their proper classes. In a minute, a business man may put his hand upon any one of ten thousand letters, if they are properly classified. In the same way, the student of any branch can, if he studies the subjects aright, have all his knowledge classified and speedily available for use."
All students, or persons desiring to master any subject in the field of intellectual endeavor, will find their work immensely improved, and their efficiency enormously increased, if they will make a written chart or diagram of any subject with which they wish to familiarize themselves, placing each important division of the idea in its proper place, and in its proper and logical relation to other divisions. The mind will then take up the arrangement of such chart or diagram, and will follow the same in its thought-processes, and in its memory-processes. The preacher or lawyer does this in his preparation of sermons or briefs, and often actually "sees" these divisions and classifications in his "mind's eye" when he begins to speak, and all through his discourse. The efficient salesman does the same thing, and thus gets the best result of his work. Efficiency in almost any line of work depends materially upon this "diagramming" of the items of knowledge which have been acquired in the experience and study of the person.
Classification should begin with the most general, and broadest classification, and then proceed to the more particular and more limited ones. The more general and broader class will of course contain the greatest number of individual items of thought; and as the classification narrows itself, the number of the individual items of course lessens. An example of scientific classification is had in the method of indexing followed in the large libraries. Go to some large library, and you will find that each and every general class of boots has its general class number—it is in the 100 class, or the 200 class, or the 900 class, and so on. Then these "hundreds" are subdivided into sections, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.
Then comes a closer subdivision, and so on until finally it comes down to the individual books, each of which it has its own special number which cannot be rightly had by any other book in the library. Under this system, it is possible for a person familiar with it to go to the shelves of any library using the same system, and there pick out any one particular book of the many thousands on its shelves—even though he had never been inside of that particular library before. He would first go to the shelf numbered in the "hundred" that he wanted, then he would find the right subdivision, and then the minor subdivision, and so on until the particular book is found. And, note this fact, the book would be found in the one particular small place where it belonged—and this particular place is the only possible place in which it could be found. And, finally, just as this particular book had only one proper place in which to be, and as each particular name in a card-index system has only one possible place in which to be, so in a well classified mind there is a certain place—a one possible place—in which a certain mental fact is to be found, and where it will always be found. By knowing this place, the thing can always be found.
A writer has said: "We classify things together whenever we observe that they are like each other in any respect, and therefore think of them together. In classifying a collection of objects, we do not merely put together in groups those which resemble each other, but we also divide each class into smaller ones in which the resemblance is more complete. Thus, the class of white substances may be divided into those which are solid, and those which are fluid, so that we get the two minor classes of solid-white and fluid-white substances. It is desirable to have names by which to show that one class is contained in another, and, accordingly, we call the class which is divided into two or more smaller ones the genus, and the smaller ones into which it is divided, the species." Every species then, is seen to be a small collection of the particular individuals composing it, and at the same time the species is an individual species of the genus of which it is a part; likewise, the genus, while a family of several species, is at the same time an individual genus to the greater family or genus of which it forms a part.
Another writer has said: "The student may familiarize himself with the principle of Generalization by considering himself as an individual named "John Smith." John represents the primary unit of generalization. The next step is to combine John with the other Smiths of his immediate family. Then that family may be grouped with his near blood relations, and so on, until finally all the related Smiths, near and remote, are grouped together in a great Smith Family. Then, the family group may be enlarged until it takes in all the white people in a county, then all the white people in the State, then all in the United States; then all the white races, then all the white and other colored skinned races, then all Mankind. Then, if one is inclined, the process may be continued until it embraces every living creature from Moneron to Man.
"Then, reversing the process, living creatures may be divided and subdivided until all mankind is seen to stand as a grand class. Then the race of mankind may be divided into sub-races according to color; then the white race may be divided into Americans and non-Americans. Then the Americans may be divided into inhabitants of the several States, or else into Indians and non-Indians; then into the inhabitants of Indians; then into the inhabitants of Posey County, Indiana. The Posey County people may be divided into Smiths and non-Smiths; then the Smith family into its constituent family groups, and then into smaller families, and so on, until at last the classification terminates in one particular John Smith who is found to be an individual, and in a class by himself."
Conception. By Conception (as used in this connection) is meant, "That act of mind by which it forms an idea of a class; or that enables the mind to correctly use general names. A "concept" is: "A general idea concerning a general class of things." As for example: the terms dog, cat, man, horse, houses, etc., each represent and expresses some concept or general idea of a class of things.
The mind forms a concept in the following manner: (1) It perceives a number of things; then (2) it observes certain qualities possessed by those things; then (3) it compares the several qualities of the respective things which it has perceived; then (4) it classifies those things according to their discovered likeness and unlikeness; then
(5) it forms a general idea of ''concept'' embodying each certain class of things, and it usually gives to such concept a name, the latter being known as its "term."
For instance, after perceiving, observing, and classifying a number of a certain kind of four-footed animals, and finding certain basic points of "likeness" underlying their particular "unlikeness," the mind forms a concept, or class-idea, of that class of animals, and then gives to that class or concept the term or name of "dog." Now please note that this concept and term, "dog" not only embraces every one of the different individual dogs, but also all the different classes or breeds of dogs. Underlying all of the individual differences, and the differences between the several breeds, there is a common "dog-ness" belonging to all the individuals and breeds— the common quality, or set of qualities, makes a dog a dog, and entitles him to a place in the great dog family.
Now note another important fact: while you have a very clear mental concept of "dog," you cannot have a clear mental picture of "dog." While your concept embraces all dogs, yet your mental picture is necessarily limited to one particular dog—you cannot mentally picture an animal combining all the different qualities of all the individual dogs: you cannot picture a composite dog embracing all the qualities of the greyhound, the bulldog, the mastiff, the poodle, the toy-terrier, etc., all in one picture. Yet your concept includes and embraces all of these. The concept really means ''all dog,'' and you cannot make a mental picture of "all dog," for no such creature exists outside of the intellectual realm. The concept, then, and the term expressing it, is seen to be like an algebraic or geometrical symbol, inasmuch as it "stands for" certain things not mentally pictured. It is like the figure "4" which stands for "four of anything."
In addition to the concepts of classes of concrete objects, we form abstract concepts denoting classes of qualities. For instance, we have the following abstract concepts, viz., Sweetness, Hardness, Courage, Energy, Beauty, etc., none of which represent a concrete object, but each of which represents a certain quality considered as a class. "Sweetness" is not a concrete object, but merely a concept of a certain general class of quality found in things.
A writer says of this class of concepts: "Color, shape, size, mental qualities, habits of action—these are some of the qualities first observed in things and abstracted from them in thought. Redness, sweetness, hardness, softness, largeness, smallness, fragrance, swiftness, slowness, fierceness, gentleness, warmth, cold—these are abstracted qualities of things. Of course these qualities are really never divorced from things, but the mind divorces them in order to make thinking easier. The process of converting qualities into concepts is performed simply by transforming adjective terms into their corresponding noun terms, and then employing each thought represented by each term as a symbol to express that particular class of quality. For instance, a piece of colored candy possesses the qualities of being round, hard, sweet, red, etc. Transforming these adjectives of quality into noun terms we have the concepts of roundness, hardness, redness, and sweetness, respectively; and we then use each of the latter as a symbol in denoting that particular class of qualities wherever it is found."
Another writer has said, on the same subject: "Our dictionaries contain such words as purity, sweetness, whiteness, industry, courage. No one ever touched, tasted, smelled, heard, or saw purity or courage. We do not, therefore, gain our knowledge of those through the senses. We have seen pure persons, pure honey; we have breathed pure air, tasted pure coffee. From all these different objects we have abstracted the only like quality, the quality of being pure. We then say we have an idea of 'purity,' and that idea is an abstract one. No one ever saw whiteness. He may have seen white clouds, snow, cloth, blossoms, houses, paper, horses, but he never saw 'whiteness' by itself. He simply abstracted that quality from various white objects."
Each concrete concept consists of a bundle of abstract concepts denoting general qualities. The concrete concept "dog" contains within itself all the qualities common to all dogs. The rule is that "Each class concept must contain within itself as many abstract concepts of quality as are common to the class represented by the concrete concept."
The processes of Analysis, Comparison, Classification, and Conception, respectively, depend for their value upon the strength and keenness of Perception attained by the application of Voluntary Attention. And Voluntary Attention, as we have seen, is an act of Will, under the direct control of the Ego. Thus, we see that the Master Mind has a part of its work these processes concerned with Thought. And, as we shall presently discover, the value of our Thought depends largely upon the correctness of our Concepts, it follows that the Master Mind has in his control the very springs from which the streams of Thought emerge and flow.
Real thinking is a process directly under the control, direction, and management of the Master Mind, from start to finish. The importance of this fact can be correctly estimated only when one realizes the all important part played by Thought in the life and welfare of the individual. "As a man thinketh, so is he." "We are the result of what we have thought." The Master Mind thinks what it wills to think, not what others will it to think, or what Chance determines it shall think. Thus is the Master Mind the Master of Itself.
In the next chapter we shall take up our consideration of the processes of Thought, beginning at this point where we are considering the nature of the Concept, and the Process of Conception.