mental chemistry

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In the doctrine of associationism, an idea introduced by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–73) to replace the mental mechanics of his father, the Scottish philosopher James Mill (1773–1836). The idea was borrowed from chemistry, in which compounds often have properties that are qualitatively different from the elements of which they are composed, a familiar example being water, the properties of which are not found in its constituent elements hydrogen or oxygen, which are both gases. According to John Stuart Mill, simple ideas combine to form complex ideas that are qualitatively different from their constituent elements, as when, according to the contiguity law, the idea of whiteness arises from the association of several different colours seen in rapid succession on a Maxwell disc, as the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) had demonstrated in his Opticks in 1704.

Subjects: Psychology.

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