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Chapter Four: The Rhythm of Withdrawal and Return

We considered in the last chapter that aspect of personal development which concerns the differentiation of the original personal Other into a world of persons organisms and material objects united by their relations to one another. This is of course the formal development of our primary knowledge. To consider it first has methodological advantages but it is not without its dangers. For it may lead us back insensibly to that dualism of subject and object from which we are seeking to escape. It seems to presuppose an observer self standing over against the Other and gradually differentiating the Object with increasing distinctness and clarity. We have therefore to remind ourselves now that knowledge is the negative dimension of action and that a self is primarily agent and as such in active relation with the Other of which he forms part. Even if we confine our attention to the development of cognition in the child we have to remember the mutuality of the personal relation which determines its form. Self and Other are correlatives and the discrimination of the one involves a correlative discrimination of the other. If within the unity of the Other I discriminate personal organic and material aspects I discriminate these same aspects in myself. Moreover in discriminating myself from the Other it is always as belonging to the Other. The philosophical difficulty here we may leave unexplored until we come to discuss self-consciousness at a later stage.

We must now however turn our attention to the positive aspect of our personal development that is to say to the development of the person as an agent of which the development of the capacity to discriminate the Other is merely the negative aspect. We must consider the form of the development of the original system of motivation. For this purpose we must return to our starting-point in the relation of mother and child. We have noticed1 how the periodic repetition of the normal acts of mothering—feeding washing and so forth—sets up a rhythm of withdrawal and return within the relation. As the infant's capacity for awareness increases this rhythmic recurrence of the mother's attentions will we must presume establish itself in the child's consciousness as expectation based upon memory and so provide the beginnings of knowledge. We are justified in using the term knowledge at this early stage because the reference to the Other is as we have seen implicit from the beginning and must become explicit so soon as the necessary skills in discriminating and correlating sensory and motor experiences are present. The remembered response of the mother to his cries is expected to repeat itself at regular intervals. Now this involves a number of fundamental lessons to be learned. The first is learning to wait for the response to his appeal. The second is learning to know the Other as the repetition of the same a lesson which underlies all recognition of order and form. This is the reason why a regular and invariant routine in the care of the young is of such importance; and it is the source of the child's demand for an invariant repetition of what he is familiar with in a story or a game.

But this learning to wait and to expect has an even more fundamental bearing upon the development of motivation. The child's recognition of a need for the mother to do something for him is negatively motived. The persistence of this need since he can do nothing for its satisfaction is accompanied by a growing discomfort and anxiety. Learning to wait for the right time involves therefore the subordination of this negative motive to a positive attitude of confidence that the expected response will come in due time. This trust in the Other does not dispose of the discomfort or the need. The negative motive remains operative; but the sting is taken out of it by its integration in a complex attitude that is as a whole positively determined. The expectation of the coming satisfaction can indeed be enjoyed as men deliberately undertake and enjoy the dangers and labours and discomforts of climbing Mount Everest in the expectation of achievement. So the infant's expectation is grounded in imagination; and his waiting is filled with the symbolic satisfaction of his desire in phantasy; the images he forms and the feelings of anticipatory pleasure which accompany them persist through the period of waiting and coalesce as it were with the actual satisfaction when it comes. This exercising of the power of phantasy is the first stage in the development of reflection and the succession of anticipation and satisfaction—with the same images accompanying both—institutes the primary distinction between imagining and perceiving.

But this state of positive motivation differentiated by the negative motive it contains and dominates depends upon the constant fulfilment of the expectation at the proper time. The expectation is in fact a prediction based on experience and constantly verified. But the unexpected may happen; the prediction may not be verified. Then the basis of confidence and security is broken. If the response to his cry is too long delayed or if the mother's effort to relieve his distress is unsuccessful then the negative motive is no longer subordinated to a positive confident expectation. It becomes dominant and finds expression in a paroxysm of rage and terror and what power of phantasy the child has acquired will lend itself to the symbolic representation of danger.

In the earliest stage of our life this reversal of the natural dominance of the positive motive is occasional and accidental. It foreshadows however a periodic reversal which is necessary and inevitable in passing from one stage to the next. If a child is to grow up he must learn stage by stage to do for himself what has up to that time been done for him by the mother. But at all the crucial points at least the decision rests with the mother and therefore it must take the form of a deliberate refusal on her part to continue to show the child those expressions of her care for him that he expects. This refusal is of course itself an expression of the mother's care for him. But the child's stock of knowledge is too exiguous the span of his anticipation too short for him to understand this. For him the refusal can only mean the breakdown of the relationship by which and in which he has his being. In his need he calls to the Other but the Other is deaf to his entreaty. He is thrown back upon himself. His world has collapsed into irrationality; for the order in his experience of the Other is recurrence without change the continuous repetition of identity. The constants of his experience of the world have disappeared; his anticipations have not been verified. His predictions are still as it were dogmas; he has not yet learned to treat them as hypotheses. The formula of his confidence is ‘this or nothing’. So he faces what is for him the ultimate threat to his existence—isolation from the Other by the act of the Other.

The necessary consequence of such a situation is that the motivation system of the child's behaviour is thrown into reverse. The negative pole becomes dominant. Activity becomes egocentric concerned with the defence of himself in a world which is indifferent to his needs a world which acts in mysterious ways of its own paying no attention to his desires. The emotional tone of such a phase of experience is one of anxiety; a general anxiety which if it were to become permanent must pass into despair. It is of course mitigated and qualified in various ways. For the positive motives remain active though in subordination differentiating the behaviour and instigating an effort to overcome the negation and to restore the normal dominance of the positive. One aspect of this is that there is a positive pleasure for the child in acquiring and exercising the skill to do for himself what the mother refuses any longer to do for him. But it is important to recognize that this and other mitigating factors cannot of themselves provide a solution; that there is in fact no way in which the child can save himself from the anxiety which besets him. For the problem concerns the personal relation between himself and his mother: the anxiety is the fear that his mother does not love him any more and he depends upon the mother while she does not depend upon him at least in the same sense. He must indeed make an effort if there is to be a restoration of the mutual confidence that has been broken; but this can only succeed through the action of the mother. For since it was by his mother's action that the child's confidence was broken it is only by her action that this confidence can be restored. If we may use the language of mature human reflection which though its content is much richer has an identical form the child can only be rescued from his despair by the grace of the mother; by a revelation of her continued love and care which convinces him that his fears are groundless.

In this fashion there is established that rhythm of withdrawal and return which constitutes the universal and necessary pattern of personal development. Our immediate interest lies in its empirical functioning in the child's growth to maturity. But its importance is so great that we should first consider the pattern in its universal aspect as a pure and necessary form. To do this we must consider the complete cycle from the positive through the negative back to the positive as ideally complete. This perfect achievement of the transition is as we shall see hardly to be expected in empirical experience. The overcoming of the negative always remains problematical.

The rhythm of withdrawal and return is the full dynamic expression of the form of the personal as a positive which includes is constituted by and subordinates its own negative. It is a succession of positive and negative phases which taken together constitute the unity of a personal experience. The negative phase therefore depends upon and is subordinate to the positive and the whole activity can only be defined through the positive. The negative as we have seen has meaning only by reference to the positive and is therefore as a phase of activity for the sake of the positive. The withdrawal is for the sake of the return; and its necessity lies in this that it differentiates the positive phase by enriching its content. Without the negative there could be no development of the positive but only the repetition ad infinitum of an original undifferentiated identity.

Now the original unity which is developed in this way is a relation of persons. It is the unity of a common life. The ‘You and I’ relation we must recall constitutes the personal and both the ‘You’ and the ‘I’ are constituted as individual persons by the mutuality of their relation. Consequently the development of the individual person is the development of his relation to the Other. Personal individuality is not an original given fact. It is achieved through the progressive differentiation of the original unity of the ‘You and I’. If this sounds difficult or paradoxical it is yet a commonplace in some of its manifestations. We all distinguish ourselves as individuals from the society of which we are members and to which we belong. The paradox is the same: for we at once assert ourselves as constituent members of the society while opposing it to ourselves as the ‘other-than-I’. So the child discovers himself as an individual by contrasting himself and indeed by wilfully opposing himself to the family to which he belongs; and this discovery of his individuality is at the same time the realization of his individuality. We are part of that from which we distinguish ourselves and to which as agents we oppose ourselves. In this—which is indeed simply another manifestation of the form of the personal—we may find the answer to many of the questions which puzzle the moralist; the existence of conscience for example of responsibility and the moral struggle; or more generally of the capacity which is possessed by a person and only by a person to represent his fellows—to feel and think and act not for himself but for the other.

The difficulty we feel arises mainly because we are accustomed to think from the standpoint of reflection and not of action. Persons are agents; and the relation of persons is a relation of agents and in general is a conditio sine quâ non of action. Without the support of a resistance there can be no action; and the resistance must as we recognized2 be the resistance of a personal Other. Consequently both the relation itself and the rhythm of its development are not merely matter of fact though necessarily including matter of fact. They are matter of intention. Thus the negative phase just as much as the positive falls within the relation and presupposes it even while negating it. My withdrawal from the Other is itself a phase of my relation to the Other. The isolation of the self does not annul the relation; but refuses it. And since the relation is practical—since it is a relation of agents—the refusal is a practical activity which intends the annulment of the relation which it presupposes. There is here a radical contradiction in action. Since any personal relation enters into the constitution of the persons whom it relates to annul the relation is to annul oneself and to achieve the intention could only mean to destroy oneself along with the other. But further the relation itself is not mere matter of fact but matter of intention. To annul it therefore must mean not merely to bring it to an end as matter of fact; it must mean to annul the intention and therefore the action which constitutes it. Now time is the form of action and consequently to annul the action implies a reversal of the past. But this is impossible. The most we can do is as we sometimes say to make it as if it had never been. The most that such negative relation in action can achieve is a symbolic annulment; the appearance but not the reality of annulment.

Consider as an example the following situation. An only son has publicly disgraced his family. His father bitterly affected by the disgrace decides that he will have no more to do with the fellow and publicly disowns him. He disinherits his son erases his name from the family record refuses to see him and cuts him ‘dead’ if he meets him by accident. If anyone refers to his son in his presence he replies with a stony emphasis ‘I have no son.’ In such a case the relation of father and son remains a fact and the father is perfectly aware of this. Indeed his behaviour presupposes the fact. He insists he has no son because he knows and the people to whom he speaks also know and know that he knows that he has. The non-existence of his son is thus not matter of fact but matter of intention; but this intention is unrealizable since it could only be realized by altering the past. It is not Sufficient to say that he wishes his son were dead; it would be truer to say that he wishes his son had never been born. But even this is not a satisfactory diagnosis for a wish is not an intention and he behaves deliberately as though the facts were other than they are. He might of course kill his son but that would be no solution. For what he intends to annul is not his son's future and not merely his son's past but his own past in having a son and caring for him. His behaviour can only be symbolic. Even if he were to kill his son and then himself his action would be merely symbolic. It would symbolize in a particular case what is here asserted as a general principle that the positive personal relation with his son is for him the sole intrinsic good so that when this is negated in intention it becomes impossible for him to intend his own existence or that of his son.

There is always an element of illusion associated with the negative phase in the rhythm of personal development. This indeed is one aspect of its negativity. In the case of the child whose mother refuses to satisfy his expectation any longer it appears that she refuses any longer to care for him; yet in reality her refusal is itself an expression of her continuing care for him. The illusion is necessary. The refusal throws his world into chaos. For it is the household routine not the orderly succession of the seasons which guarantees for the child the ‘uniformity of nature’. The failure of the repetition of the same in his mother's care for him is to him what the failure of the sun to rise in due course would be for us. For him as for us the possibility of life depends upon the faith that the future will be as the past that we have a right to believe in the fulfilment of expectations based upon past experience. But expectation is relative to experience. We have learned that the constants we have found in experience may not represent the structure of reality in general; but hold only within a limited range of experience as special cases of wider constancies. We have learned that the order of the world is more complex than our knowledge of it had led us to believe. We have learned in science that all our generalizations are hypothetical that our best grounded predictions are provisional; we have even learned to see the search for the falsification of our expectations as the surest path to a wider knowledge of the world. The child is only beginning to learn this; and what he is learning is the distinction between appearance and reality. It is necessary that the mother should refuse him what he has every reason to expect; it is necessary that within the relationship with her he should be forced into negativity believe that she has ceased to care for him and be afraid. For only so can he experience the distinction between positive and negative in its fundamental manifestations; as the distinction between real and unreal between good and evil beautiful and ugly true and false. For all of us at any stage development depends upon the rhythm of withdrawal and return; and this is true for societies as for individuals. If the rhythm ceases development ceases with it and we are ripe for death or for destruction.

This will become clearer if we notice another characteristic of the negative phase of the personal relation—its egocentricity. To be negatively motived is to be concerned for oneself in relation to the Other. The relation cannot be annulled; and the reference to the Other since it is constitutive for the personal cannot be evaded. We need the Other in order to be ourselves. But in any relation the focus of attention and interest may become centred upon self rather than on the other; and since this is brought about through the refusal of the other to respond to my need—or what appears to me to be my need—my negative attitude defines the other as a danger to myself. This egocentric attitude has often been referred to as ‘self-love’ through failure to draw the distinction between positive and negative motivation. Self-love is self-contradictory. Love is necessarily for the Other and self-love would mean self-alienation. But fear of the Other is fear for oneself and involves a concentration of interest and activity upon the defence of the self. The role of the negative phase in the development of the personal relation is therefore the development of individuality. It is the phase of self-assertion self-consciousness and self-development in opposition to the Other. Its general ideal which necessarily contains an element of illusion is independence of the Other and self-sufficiency.

The child at any of the critical stages of his early development when forced into the negative phase by the mother's refusal to do for him any longer what he has come to expect will in fact learn to do it for himself. He will as a matter of fact grow up and come to play the part required of him stage by stage until he reaches the independence of maturity. But this does not mean that he has developed satisfactorily and even the skill and capacity which he shows in his adult occupations whether of body or mind is an inadequate measure of the success of his education. For these are functional—and therefore negative—aspects of his personal life and the defining positive aspect is his relation to the Other and at the centre of this his relation to other persons. His quality as a person is the quality of his personal relations; and since a person is an agent this means the character of the persistent system of motives which determines his personal relations. The formal aspect of this is the question whether his activities are in general negatively or positively motived and it is this question upon which we must concentrate our attention.

The mother's refusal of what he expects from her confronts the child with a contradiction in his consciousness which has various aspects. The primary aspect is practical as a clash of wills. Hitherto his expectation has been regularly fulfilled. He has learned to expect that is to imagine in advance to refer a present symbol to a future occurrence. Now he goes on imagining a future which does not occur and the longer it is postponed the greater becomes his fear and the more vivid his expectation. The expectation persistently unfulfilled becomes a demand. His cry for what he expects passes into an angry insistence even perhaps into a paroxysm of rage. This is the genesis of will which always implies a self-assertion against the Other an opposition to be overcome and therefore an awareness of self as opposed to the Other. This conflict of wills individualizes the child for himself; and the mother who opposes him for him. He recognizes himself as an agent through the opposition of another agent who seeks to determine his future against his own will.

This exposition should not be taken as determining a particular point in a child's development at which self-consciousness supervenes upon a consciousness of an earlier kind. It is to be taken generally and diagrammatically. The distinction of Self and Other is present from the beginning since the infant being dependent totally upon the mother must wait upon the other person for the satisfaction of his needs. There is a necessary time lag between the consciousness of need and its satisfaction. But so long as the expectation is not disappointed so long as there is a regularity in the recurrence of the supply of his needs there is no crisis which concentrates attention upon himself by compelling him to make a demand instead of merely waiting passively. At most there is a point in personal development which may vary considerably from child to child at which the contrast between Self and Other is finally established as a pervasive attitude in action and reflection.

The negative aspect of this contradiction in consciousness establishes the reflective distinction between good and bad and between true and false. The mother's refusal institutes a dichotomy in the child's consciousness between what he expects and what actually occurs; between his demand and the response to it. He is forced into a recognition of the distinction between imagining and perceiving. For what he anticipates in imagination is contradicted by what actually takes place and this institutes the contrast between phantasy and reality. But here we must remember that this happens in action and that the Other is personal. Both sides of the distinction are referred to the Other. What is imagined is what is demanded of the Other. What occurs is something distinct from what is demanded which the Other actually does. The contrast of what is imagined with what is perceived is an aspect of the conflict of wills. It is indeed the knowledge of this conflict. The distinction between what is imagined and what is perceived represents in the consciousness of the individual the contradiction between his own will and the will of the Other; between what he intends that the Other should do and what the Other intends and does. To recognize this distinction is to recognize one's own frustration.

Now what the child expects the mother to do is what relatively to his knowledge would satisfy his need. It is then what she ought to do but will not. So his mother is wicked. In his fear for himself he is angry with her and hates her. Yet this hate and anger depend upon his need of her love and his memory of the time when he and she loved one another. Moreover the situation in which he finds himself and the state of mind into which he is come is one which is dreadful to him and from which he needs to escape. Yet he can only escape from it it appears to him if she will change her mind and be good to him again. Then he will forgive her and they will be reconciled: they will be friends again and enjoy one another.

Within this contradiction of will and feeling the purely factual distinction between true and false is contained. For there is in it a conception of the order of the world however simple and un-affirmed and an expectation based upon that conception which has proved false in the event. This distinction however is still implicit; it is derivative and subordinate. For the Other is personal and the order of events on which memory bases expectation is the past actions of the mother in caring for her child. The personal relation is primarily practical. His mother has played him false by acting wrongly. We have seen that the distinction between right and wrong is inherent in the nature of action.3 We see now that this distinction without which there can be no action but only reaction to stimulus is involved in the original structure of human motivation; and that it has its ultimate moral reference through the personal relation which constitutes the human individual a person. What we are here considering is the origin of the moral struggle in a situation which is universal and necessary in human experience. This situation is the conflict of wills between mother and child. The moral struggle is primarily a struggle between persons. It is only secondarily though also necessarily a struggle within the individual. For the motivation of the individual and the consciousness which it contains has reference to the Other. He needs the Other in order to be himself; and his awareness is an awareness of the Other. Consequently if his relation to the Other becomes negative the conflict is reflected in himself. He must maintain the relation even in rejecting it: he cannot escape from it except by escaping from himself. His relation to the Other becomes ambivalent. He is divided in himself fearing and therefore hating what he loves turned against himself because he is against the Other. From this conflict of agents are derived all the characteristic dichotomies in terms of which human life must be lived and in it they are contained. With their emergence in consciousness as distinctions between real and unreal right and wrong good and evil true and false action becomes necessary and human life becomes problematic. We are compelled to distinguish and to choose.

These reflections upon the formal structure of the moment of withdrawal in personal development do not merely disclose the origin of the ultimate distinctions which make human life problematic. They reveal the form of the basic problem itself. In its largest scope it is the problem of reconciliation. From the standpoint of the individual it is the problem of overcoming fear. Think again of the child's situation. He is refused what experience has given him the right to expect and his cosmos has returned to chaos. He is obliged to do something for himself which his mother has always done for him. His mother compels him to do it. But we must notice that this compulsion is not a physical compulsion. It is in the nature of things impossible to compel another person to act if by compulsion we mean a merely physical necessitation. The capacity to act is freedom. The most we can do is to provide another with a sufficient motive for doing what we want him to do. The motive however may be negative. We may make him afraid not to do what we demand of him. The child is in this case. His need for his mother is absolute; his fear for himself refers to this need for the mother's care. Consequently he has a sufficient motive for doing what she requires however much against his will.

Now if this is what happens; if the child learns to do what is required of him for fear of the consequences to himself he has failed to make the return to a positive motivation from the negative phase of withdrawal. The negative motive remains dominant. He is still on the defensive. He has indeed returned to the field of action; but he acts from negative and therefore egocentric motives. He has learned to do something for himself but for his own sake; and his individual character is by that much more negative.

If the return from the negative phase is to be completely successful it is necessary that the dominance of the negative motive be completely overcome and that the positive relation to the mother be fully re-established in spite of her continuing refusal to satisfy his demand. It is the conditions and implications of such a successful overcoming of fear that concern our study. We may sum them up by saying that they consist in recognizing the illusions involved in the negative phase and as a consequence the disappearance of the conflict of wills. This recognition of illusion does not necessarily involve its expression in judgment and in the earliest stage of our development it cannot do so. To recognize as unreal what has been taken as real is to reverse a valuation and value we have seen4 is primarily felt. The ‘facts’ of the situation remain unchanged. What is required for the recognition of unreality is a change of feeling from negative to positive (or vice versa) coupled with a memory of the earlier attitude.

The judgment which would express the child's attitude in the negative phase is this. ‘Mother doesn't love me any more’; or as it hardens into definiteness and arouses the will ‘Mother is against me.’ It is this feeling that constitutes the negative relation of persons and it is therefore mutual. ‘If Mother is against me then I am against her.’ Now to overcome this negation it is necessary that the judgment should be reversed and its reversal involves the recognition that it was illusory. The further judgment must be ‘Mother appeared to be against me but she wasn't really.’ This primary recognition of the distinction between appearance and reality carries certain fundamental implications however long it may take a child to recognize them fully. Of these we may notice two which are of fundamental formal significance. The first is the implication that he was wrong; that his feeling and so his valuation of the Other was mistaken. We might formulate this by saying ‘I thought Mother was bad but she wasn't. She was good. It was I who was bad.’ This provides the formal basis of moral experience. The second implication provides the formal basis of intellectual experience—the distinction between true and false. The child recognizes in action if not yet in reflection that his expectation was based upon too limited an experience. His conception of the ‘uniformity of Nature’—as we are used to calling the repetition of the same—was too simple. What appeared to be constants have turned out to be variables. Thus the disappointment of expectation based upon the experience of an invariant sequence in the behaviour of the Other provides the experience of being in error. But with regard to this implication we must note that it is relatively independent of the pattern of motivation and the rhythm of its changes. Whether the child succeeds or fails in overcoming the negation in his relation to the mother he must recognize that his expectation has been falsified. Here he is dealing with mere matter of fact. For this reason our knowledge of the impersonal aspect of our world is always relatively independent of our feelings attitudes and motives. I say ‘relatively’ because the activities through which we gain such knowledge can never be independent of the motives which sustain them. These motives though they may have little relevance to the truth or falsity of the conclusions we reach still determine the direction of our attention; and so the kind of questions we ask to which our conclusions are the answers.

The return from the negative is not then necessarily achieved in its completeness or satisfactorily. If it were the original positive relation of mother and child would be re-established fully at a higher level; a level at which the child has learned to trust the mother in spite of appearances and at which he has something to contribute of his own initiative to the common life. Instead of doing what he has learned to do for himself from fear of the consequences he would do it for the mother in cooperation with her and so as an expression of their mutual affection. The critical evidence of such a satisfactory return to full positive mutuality would be the complete disappearance in the child of any desire for the earlier stage which he has outgrown of any hankering after more infantile expressions of affection. But such a success is beyond the bounds of all probability at least as a continuing achievement in all the repetitions of the rhythm of withdrawal and return which make up the personal development to maturity. It may be achieved or nearly achieved upon occasion but on the whole and on balance the most we can hope for is a qualified success. The main reason for this lies in the mother. A complete success would only be possible if the mother's relation to the child was and remained continuously fully positive and free from egocentricity. Her task in the development is to convince the child without going back upon her refusal to give him what he demands that his fear that she is against him is an illusion; and that she refuses what he wants wholly for his sake and not at all for her own. Even with the best of mothers this can be so only in the main and never absolutely and continuously. So far as she falls short of this perfection of love so far the child's feeling that she is against him is not an illusion; and by so much she must fail to overcome his negative attitude and to reinstate a fully positive relation.

Finally then we must consider the formal result of this general failure to overcome completely the negative motivation which sustains the phase of withdrawal and consequently the illusions and contradictions which are inseparable from it. The failure must mean that the relation with the Other at the higher level is established upon a mixed motive. It contains an element of fear which is not integrated within the positive motivation of the return to action but suppressed. This suppression is possible through a concentration of attention. The intention of an action as we saw5 is bound up with the attention which selects the field of our awareness in acting. But no action can have contradictory intentions. We cannot aim in different directions at the same time. It can however have contradictory motives one of which is suppressed and therefore ‘unconscious’. And since our actions contain a negative element which is in the same sense ‘unconscious’ the unconscious motive may find expression in action so that we find that what we have done is not what we intended but something different; even something opposite and contradictory to our intention. In our relations with other persons this ambiguity of motivation is felt as a tension and a constraint between us and therefore in each of us.

For simplicity's sake let us return to the child and consider only the extreme possibilities. In the phase of withdrawal he is obsessed by an unfulfilled expectation which persists as a demand for its fulfilment. But he is faced with a demand from his mother which is incompatible with his own demand. His need for the mother is such that he needs must accede to her demand and so accept in practice the new phase of active cooperation with her. In this return to co-operation if the negative motive which sustains his own demand is fully overcome the demand itself will disappear the desire which sustains it will cease to operate and he will find a full satisfaction in the new mode of relationship. The conflict between imagination and actuality—between his image of what should occur and what actually does occur—is fully resolved. If on the contrary he accedes to his mother's demand because he must and against his will the tension of contradiction is not resolved. He remains egocentric and on the defensive; he conforms in behaviour to what is expected of him but as it were as a matter of policy. In that case he cannot find satisfaction in the new forms of co-operation and they remain for him unreal. His heart is not in them. Consequently the desire and the activity of imagination which it sustains do not disappear. The contradiction between the imagined satisfaction and the unsatisfactory actual persists. If this condition becomes habitual by repetition—and it must tend to do so because the earlier experiences of withdrawal and return tend to become models for those that follow—it will institute a permanent dualism between the ideal and the actual which will be accepted by the negatively motived individual as normal. Here then is an account of the genesis of dualism as a habit of mind.

The child who has been forced back into co-operative activity without a resolution of the conflict has two courses open to him. He remains egocentric and the objective of his behaviour is security through self-defence. What he cannot do so long as his fear is not overcome and dissipated is to give himself freely to his mother in the fellowship of mutual affection without constraint. The conflict remains. He can either run away or fight. If he takes the first course he will conform obediently and even eagerly to the pattern of behaviour expected of him. He will become a ‘good’ boy and by his ‘goodness’ he will seek to placate the mother whose enmity he fears. In compensation for this submission he will create for himself a secret life of phantasy where his own wishes are granted. And this life of the imagination in an imaginary world will be for him his real life in the real world—the world of ideas. His life in the actual world will remain unreal—a necessity which he will make as habitual and automatic as possible. What importance it has for him will derive from its necessity as a support for and a means to his real life which is the life of thought the spiritual life the life of the mind.

He may however take the other course. He may seek to impose his own will upon his mother. He may become a ‘bad’ boy rebellious and aggressive seeking to gain by force or cunning what is not freely given to him. In that case he will carry the conflict of wills into the world of actuality and seek power over the Other. He will use his imagination to discover and exploit the weaknesses of those on whom he is dependent and to devise techniques for getting his own way. The frustration of his aggressiveness and the penalties of his disobedience will then increase his hostility and with it his efforts to find the power and the means to assert his own will successfully and to compel compliance with his demands. His real life is the practical life the life of action as the use of power to secure his own ends by his own efforts. The life of the imagination is unreal in itself and has value for him only as a means to success in the practical life.

When this failure to overcome the negative motivation is established one or other of these two courses will tend to become habitual by repetition. Through this process—which is the critical centre of all education—there will be produced an individual who is either characteristically submissive or characteristically aggressive in his active relation with the Other. This contrast of types of disposition corresponds to the distinction drawn by psychologists between the ‘introvert’ and the ‘extravert’. But because we are drawing the distinction for philosophical purposes we must do more than accept an empirical classification. In particular we must understand their relation to one another as aspects of the form of the personal. I must draw attention therefore in summary fashion to a few major implications of the analysis.

These two modes of behaviour are ambivalent. They have the same motive and the same ultimate objective—fear for oneself in relation to the Other and the defence of oneself against the threat from the Other. They are therefore ambivalent forms of negative or egocentric behaviour. No individual can conform fully to either type; and the same individual will on occasion exchange the one mode of defence for the other. The two type forms are therefore better regarded as extreme limits between which fall the actual dispositions of human beings; each one varying its place from time to time within these limits while having a place on the scale which is on the whole its characteristic position.

Secondly both types of attitude—submissive and aggressive—are negative and therefore involve unreality. They carry over the illusion of the negative phase of withdrawal into the return to active relationship. They motivate a behaviour in relationship which is contradictory and therefore self-defeating. For the inherent objective—the reality of the relationship—is the full mutuality of fellowship in a common life in which alone the individual can realize himself as a person. But both the dispositions are egocentric and motivate action which is for the sake of oneself and not for the sake of the Other; which is therefore self-interested. Such action is implicitly a refusal of mutuality and an effort to constrain the Other to do what we want. By conforming submissively to his wishes we put him under an obligation to care for us. By aggressive behaviour we seek to make him afraid not to care for us. In both cases we are cheating; and in both cases the Other is compelled to defend himself against our deception even though it is a self-deception. Self-interested relation excludes the mutuality it seeks to extort. If it succeeds in its intention it produces the appearance of mutuality not the reality. It can produce at most a reciprocity of co-operation which simulates even while it excludes the personal unity which it seeks to achieve.

Finally these two negative dispositions however persistent they may be are never unalterable. For they are not innate characters but habits which have been learned. In principle what has been learned can be unlearned; and empirical experience offers us many examples of the transformation of character sometimes by a gradual change sometimes by a sudden and dramatic conversion. The rhythm of withdrawal and return does not cease with the achievement of organic maturity; it is the permanent form of the life of personal relationship. The transition from the withdrawal to the return repeats itself indefinitely and each time it is made there is a possibility that it should be made successfully.

  • 1. Supra, Chap. III, p. 76.
  • 2. The Self as Agent, p. 145.
  • 3. The Self as Agent, p. 140.
  • 4. The Self as Agent, p. 190.
  • 5. The Self as Agent, pp. 171 f.
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