[Humanist] 31.753 "the electric sense of analogy"

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Apr 8 10:46:52 CEST 2018

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 753.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2018 16:30:56 -0400
        From: "Dr. Herbert Wender" <drwender at aol.com>
        Subject: Re:  31.742 "the electric sense of analogy"?
        In-Reply-To: <20180403142227.3D72384BA at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>

Lieber Willard,

ohne Zweigel ist William James gemeint:
"Once over the barrier, we are able to benefit from what William James long ago called “the electric sense of analogy.” There are two interesting features in generic learning – in the kind of learning that permits us to cross the barrier into thinking ..." (J. Bruner, Selected Works,eBook)

Den 2. Band der "Principles of Psychology" von 1890, den man hier wohl einsehen müßte, bekomme ich hier in Deutchland via Google Books nicht richtig zu fassen, aber Andrew Ortony (1993) zitiert daraus:
" For example, William James believed that "men, taken historically, reason by analogy long before they have learned to reason by abstract characters" (James, 1890, vol. II, p. 363)."

Zwanzig Jahre vor James' Principles wird in einem gleichnamigen Werk (John Basom,The Principles of Psychology, 1870) der 'eöectroc sense' im Kontext der sinnlichen Wahrnehmung erwähnt: "sense ... of an electric current" (p. 238).

Google-Snippet aus James 2013, part 2
(eBook; immerhin ohne den Scanfehler "combnations" der Ausgabe von 1981)
"The first abstract qualities thus formed are, no doubt, qualities of one and the same sense found in different objects—as big, sweet; next analogies between different senses, as “sharp” of taste, “high” of sound, etc.; then analogies of motor combinations, or form of relation, as simple, confused, difficult, reciprocal, relative, spontaneous, etc. The extreme degree of subtlety in analogy is reached in such cases as when we say certain English art critics' writing reminds us of a close room in ..."

Wenn in diesem Kontext nicht auch der "elctric sense" zu finden ist, stammt der Ausdruck wohl wirklich von Bruner.

Herzlichst, Herbert

-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung-----
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 742.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

> Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2018 14:02:46 +0100
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> Subject: the electric sense of analogy

In his essay "Going beyond the information given" (1957), Jerome Bruner
identifies two aspects of creativity: "the inventive activity involved in
constructing highly generic and widely appropriate coding systems" and "the
development of a readiness to utilize appropriately already acquired coding
systems." About the latter he remarks that, "James long ago called this 'the
electric sense of analogy'..." (p. 12). Bruner does not give a reference. As
far as I have been able to discover, William James -- I am assuming Bruner
is not referring to Henry! -- never used this phrase. It is not in the
Harvard University Press authoritative edition of 1983 (with a fine
introduction by George Miller) nor in the two-volume edition published by
Henry Holt in 1890.

For obvious reasons James both refers to electricity as a phenomenon of
nature and uses it metaphorically many times in Principles. The closest
passages I can find to Bruner's quotation are these:

> When an idea stings us in a certain way, makes as it were a certain
> electric connection with our Self, we believe that it is a reality.
> When it stings us in another way, makes another connection with our
> Self, we say, let it be a reality.
(p. 1172)

and so by association,

> ...the whole feeling of reality, the whole sting and excitement of
> our voluntary life, depends on our sense that in it things are really
> being decided from one moment to another, and that it is not the dull
> rattling off of a chain that was forged innumerable ages ago."
(p. 429)

So, am I right in thinking that Bruner set down a product of his creative
remembering that has subsequently been quoted as James' own phrase,
wonderful and apt as it is?

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
Sydney University; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews

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