Home  »  Volume XIV: English THE VICTORIAN AGE Part Two The Nineteenth Century, III  »  § 3. Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

I. Philosophers

§ 3. Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind

Mill’s chief philosophical work was, however, his Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind (1829). In this he laid the foundation in psychology for the utilitarian superstructure. It is a compact statement of a theory of mind elaborated on the same method as that by which any department of nature might be studied. Mental phenomena are reduced to their simplest elements, and the association of these into groups and successions is investigated, all association being reduced by him to one law—that of contiguity. In general, Mill follows Hume and Hartley—but Hartley much more than Hume. He disregards, however, the physiological side of Hartley’s theory, so that his own doctrines are purely psychological. To the psychological school of a later date, whose leading representatives were John Stuart Mill and Alexander Bain, his chief positive contribution was the doctrine of inseparable association; in addition, he marked out afresh the lines to be followed by a theory which attempts to explain the facts of consciousness from the “association” of ultimate elements called “sensations”—assumed as themselves not in need of explanation.