Principles of Literary Criticism

Principles of Literary Criticism, by I. A. Richards (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1947)

p. 21/26
[...things outside the mind...] : But what is 'the mind'? The proper distinction is not 'inside/outside the mind', or even 'mental/material'; it is 'imaginary/real' or 'absent/present'.


p. 82/35
[An unconscious mind is a fairly evident fiction.] : No, it is just a mistaken idea.


p. 83/11
[the mind is the nervous system] u/l: A perverse statement.


p. 84/32-33
[if mental events are recognized as identical with certain neural events] 'identical' u/l: ? If an act of 'recognition' is necessary to establish the identity of two things, it is clear that they are two and not one—i.e. that they are not identical.


p. 85/7-8
[a mental event, such as a toothache, and a non-mental event, such as a sunspot] : Why is a toothache a mental event? A toothache corresponds to kāyaviññāna, a sunspot to cakkhuviññāna. Neither corresponds to manoviññāna.


p. 85/9-11
[when we have identified the mental event with a neural loses none of its observable peculiarities, only certain alleged unstable and ineffable attributes are removed.] 'it loses...peculiarities' u/l: A toothache is private, a neural change is public. On this account pain is an 'ineffable attribute'—regard a toothache as a neural change and pain is removed!


p. 85/22-26
[the identification of the mind with a part of the working of the nervous system, need involve, theology apart, no disturbance of anyone's attitude to the world, his fellow-men, or to himself.] : All right, if you are going to take the external observer's point of view—but then you have no business to speak of 'conscious' or 'unconscious'.


p. 86/2-3
[but in many cases nothing is felt, the mental event is unconscious] u/l: Here, Conscious Mental Event = Neural Event accompanied by Consciousness (i.e. feeling, etc.). Unconscious Mental Event = Neural Event not accompanied by Consciousness (feeling, etc.). They differ in that one is, and the other is not, accompanied by consciousness. They are alike in that they are both mental events. The question would then be, 'Other than by introspection can they be distinguished?' But is this quite what is intended here? A different question is assumed in the following pages.


p. 86/14-17
[The process in the course of which a mental event may occur, a process apparently beginning in a stimulus and ending in an act, is what we have called an impulse.] : On p. 83, 'the mind is a system of impulses'. It follows that 'mental events' may occur in the course of the processes called 'mind'. There is therefore more to 'mind' than 'mental events'. All this account is unsound. Matter may be described ultimately in terms of perception, but perception cannot be ultimately described in terms of matter. How can blue be described in terms of neural changes? A more satisfactory hypothesis, at least for purposes of this chapter, is that mental (= conscious) events (better, 'occurrences') and neural events have a one to one correspondence (less misleading than 'are parallel')—but this statement needs considerable expansion (a mental event is only known introspectively, for example, and a neural event extrospectively).


p. 87/14-15
[Stimuli are only received if they serve some need of the organism] u/l: Does the accidental sight of e.g. a cow serve a need of mine?


p. 88/17-19
[the conscious characters of the mental event, include evidently both sensations and feelings] after 'sensations': saññā


p. 89/3-4
[Every mental event has, in varying degrees, all three characteristics.] (the three are cognition, feeling, and conation) u/l: Even unconscious mental events? These, by definition (p. 86), are without feeling. The cat is out of the bag.


p. 89/10-16
[The advantage of substituting the causation, the character and the consequences of a mental event as its fundamental aspects in place of its knowing, feeling and willing aspects is that instead of a trio of incomprehensible ultimates we have a set of aspects which not only mental events but all events share.] 'incomprehensible ultimates' u/l: Why not? You must stop somewhere: you cannot describe everything in terms of something else; for if you do, you are simply playing with words. Finally you must say, 'By "X" I mean that'.


p. 90/9-13
[To say that the mental (neural) event so caused is aware of the black marks is to say that it is caused by them, and here 'aware of' = 'caused by'. The two statements are merely alternative formulations.] : All right, but there is no need to identify mind and matter.


p. 96/13-16
[Instructed by experience man and animal alike place themselves in circumstances which will arouse desire and so through satisfaction lead to pleasure.] : vicious circle of tanhā


p. 148/31-35
[If we say that we see a picture we may mean either that we see the pigment-covered surface, or that we see the image on the retina cast by this surface...] 'or that...surface' u/l: How do we see this? With the mind's eye?