Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Titel:
Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 1 [a-laws]
Person:
Baldwin, James Mark
PURL:
https://digitalesammlungen.uni-weimar.de/viewer/image/lit29445/37/
ACTIVITY 
Thomas Reid gave currency to this dual 
division in the early philosophical literature 
of the 19th century, although the psycholo¬ 
gists preceding Kant had substituted a tri¬ 
partite division by the separation of feeling 
and activity. Thus Tetens reckons three 
fundamental powers of the soul : feeling, under¬ 
standing, and active power. Later writers 
who retain a twofold division (e. g. McCosh) 
include feeling among the active or ‘ motive ' 
powei’s. Cf. Classification (of mental func¬ 
tions), and Conation. Reid distinguished will 
from the principles of action, and included 
under the latter (1) mechanical principles 
(instinct and habit); (2) animal princi¬ 
ples (appetite, desire, &c.); (3) rational 
principles (e. g. duty, rectitude). 
Literature : Aeistotle, De Anima, ii. 3 ; 
Eth. Nie., i. 7, 13; Reid, Intellectual Powers 
(1785), and Active Powers (1788); Tetens, 
Versuche über die menschliche Natur (1777), 
i. 625; McCosh, Motive Powers, and Cognitive 
Powers. (w.k.s.) 
Activity [Lafc. activitas] : Ger. Thcitigkeit, 
Activität ; Fr. activité ; Ital. attività. (1) 
The state of any being at the time when it is 
changing. (2) Any operation or change itself. 
In the first sense one says that the object is ‘in 
activity.’ In the second sense one speaks of 
the ‘ activities ’ of the mind ; or of bodies, as 
in the j)hrase actio ad distans, action over an 
intervening sjiace. (3) In case of those who 
regard activity and real being as essentially 
the same thing, to be in actu, or sometimes 
to be active, has on occasion meant the same 
as to be real. (4) Activity, in Aristotle’s 
list of the categories, is opposed to such 
categories as substance, quality, &c. It is 
here a name for a doing, as opposed to a 
being, a character, or a passive state. Physical 
Activity is the operation of a being in the 
physical world. Mental Activity is a process 
supposed to be directly observable, or else 
otherwise verifiable, in mental life—a process 
whereby either the ‘mind’ or ‘Ego’ acts, or 
else an operation occurs, for which see 
Activity (mental). Self-activity is variously 
used to mean: (1) the activity of something 
whose operation is solely the result or effect 
of its own nature; (2) the activity of a being 
already called, for other reasons, a Self. See 
Self-Activity, and Self. 
The whole history of the term activity, 
and of its related terms, has been greatly in¬ 
fluenced by an unfortunate ambiguity in Ari¬ 
stotle’s terminology. Act, or actuality (eWpy«a), 
in Aristotle’s sense, is first opposed to potential 
being, or to what is merely possible. Yet, as 
thus opposed, ivépyeia is not the category noteiv. 
But since Aristotle’s account of God makes 
him, in the terms used by the scholastics, actus 
furus, or purely actual, this expression, and 
its Greek originals, have suggested that to be 
real, and to be active, must mean precisely the 
same thing, and by contrast the passive has 
even thus been sometimes confused with the 
merely possible. Apart from this historical 
misfortune of terminology, the idea of activity 
goes back of course to primitive speech, and 
to popular interpretations of experience. Two 
regions of experience especially gave origin to 
the notion of activity, and have controlled its 
development. On the one hand, physical 
things (e. g. the sun, or fire) appeared to affect 
or to act upon other things in observable ways. 
On the other hand, the process of effort and 
volition, as observed within, suggested the ex¬ 
istence and the nature of active processes in 
a very complex but interesting way. Primi¬ 
tive thought brought these two sets of facts, 
the outer and the inner ‘ active ’ processes, 
into a close relation in the animistic inter¬ 
pretation of nature. Thought has ever since 
been busy, as science and reflection have deve¬ 
loped, (1) in trying to distinguish and to con¬ 
trast the two sorts of ‘ active processes ’ which 
animism confused ; (2) in trying in various 
ways once more to synthesize the two, or to 
reduce one of them, despite the recognized 
distinction, to the other as its source, basis, or 
explanation ; or finally, (3) in trying to ex¬ 
plain how the activities, whatever they may 
be as activities, are related to the other modes 
of reality, such as Matter, Soul, Qualities, 
Relations, &c. The story of these efforts would 
involve the greater part of the history of psy¬ 
chology and philosophy. See Immanent and 
Transient, and Cause. (j.k.) 
Literature : the general works on meta¬ 
physics. Recent : Lotze, Metaphysics ; Ladd, 
Theory of Reality (1899), chaps, v, x ; Wabd, 
Naturalism and Agnosticism; Wundt, Syst. 
d. Philos., and Logik ; Oemond, Basal 
Concepts in Philos.; Paulsen, Introd. to 
Philos. ; Hodgson, Metaphysics of Experi¬ 
ence. (J.M.B.) 
Activity (mental) : Ger. psychische A ctivi- 
tät, Thätigkeit, Action ; Fr. activité mentale ; 
Ital. attività mentale. If and so far as the 
intrinsic nature of conscious process involves 
tendency toward a Tebminus (q. v.), it is 
active process, and is said to have activity. 
See End, and Tendency. (g.f.s.-j.m.b.) 
It is a disputed point whether a distinctive
        

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