THE STORY OF THE AGED MOTHER Japanese Folktale by MATSUO BASHO

Long, long ago there lived at the foot of the mountain a poor farmer and his aged, widowed mother. They owned a bit of land which supplied them with food, and their humble were peaceful and happy. Shining was governed by a despotic leader who though a warrior, had a great and cowardly shrinking from anything suggestive of failing health and strength. This caused him to send out accrual proclamation. The entire province was given strict orders to immediately put to death all aged people. Those were barbarous days, and the custom of abandoning old people to die was not common. The poor farmer loved his aged mother with tender reverence, and the order filled his heart with sorrow. But no one ever thought a second time about obeying the mandate of the governor, so with many deep hopeless sighs; the youth prepared for what at that time was considered the kindest mode of death. Just at sundown, when his day’s work was ended, he took a quantity of unwhitened rice which is principal food for poor, cooked and dried it, and tying it in a square cloth, swung and bundle around his neck along with a gourd filled with cool, sweet water. Then he lifted his helpless old mother to his back and stated on his painful journey up the mountain. The road was long and steep; the narrowed road was crossed and recrossed by many paths made by the hunters and woodcutters. In some place, they mingled in a confused puzzled, but he gave no heed. One path or another, it mattered not. On he went, climbing blindly upward – ever upward towards the high bare summit of what is known as Obatsuyama, the mountain of the “abandoning of aged”. The eyes of the old mother were not so dim but that they noted the reckless hastening from one path to another, and her loving heart grew anxious. Her son did not know the mountain’s many paths and his return might be one of danger, so she stretched forth her hand and snapping the twigs from brushes as they passed, she quietly dropped a handful every few steps of the way so that they climbed, the narrow path behind them was dotted at frequently intervals with tiny piles of twigs. At last the summit was reached. Weary and heart sick, the youth gently released his burden and silently prepared a place of comfort as his last duty to the loved one. Gathering fallen pine needle, he made a soft cushion and tenderly lifting his old mother therein, he wrapped her padded coat more closely about the stooping shoulders and with tearful eyes and an aching heart said farewell. The trembling mother’s voice was full of unselfish love as she gave her last injunction. “Let notthine eyes be blinded, my son. A” She said. “The mountain road is full of dangers. LOOK carefully and follow the path which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide you to the familiar way farther down”. The son’s surprised eyes looked back over the path, then at the poor old, shriveled hands all scratched and soiled by their work of love. His heart smote him and bowing to the grounds, he cried aloud: “oh, Honorable mother, thy kindness thrusts my heart! I will not leave thee. Together we will follow the path of twigs, and together we will die! ”Once more he shouldered his burden (how light it seemed no) and hastened down the path, through the shadows and the moonlight, to the little hut in the valley. Beneath the kitchen floor was a walled closet for food, which was covered and hidden from view. There the son his mother, supplying her with everything needful and continually watching and fearing. Time passed, and he was beginning to feel safe when again the governor sent forth heralds bearing an unreasonable order, seemingly as a boast of his power. His demand was that his subject should present him with a rope of ashes. The entire province trembled with dread. The order must be obeyed yet who in all Shining could make a rope of ashes? One night, in great distress, the son whispered the news to his hidden mother. “Wait!” she said. “I will think. I will think” On the second day she told him what to do. “Make rope twisted straw,” she said. “Then stretch it upon a row of flat stones and burn it there on the windless night. ” He called the people together and did as she said and when the blaze and died, behold upon the stones with every twist and fiber showing perfectly. Lay a rope of whitehead ashes. The governor was pleased at the wit of the youth and praised greatly, but he demanded to know where he had obtained his wisdom. “Alas! Alas!” cried the farmer, “the truth must be told!” and with deep bows he related his story. The governor listened and then meditated in silence. Finally he lifted his head. “Shining needs more than strength of youth, ” he said gravely. “Ah, that I should have forgotten the well-know saying, “with the crown of snow, there cometh a wisdom!” That very hour the cruel law was abolished and custom drifted into as far a past that only legends remain.

Structuralism in psychology At the turn of 19th century the founding father of experimental psychology Wilhelm Wundt tried to experimentally confirm his hypothesis that conscious mental life can be broken down into fundamental elements which then form more complex mental structures. In this part of the 19th century, researchers were making great advances in chemistry and physics by analysing complex compounds (molecules) in terms of their elements (atoms). These successes encouraged psychologists to look for the mental elements of which more complex experiences were composed. If the chemist made headway by analysing water into oxygen and hydrogen, perhaps the psychologist could make headway by considering a perception, e.g., the taste of lemonade, to be a "molecule" of conscious experience which can be analysed into elements of conscious experience: e.g., sweet, sour, cold, warm, bitter, and whatever else could be identified by introspection. A major believer was the psychologist Edward B. Titchener who was trained by Wundt and worked at Cornell University. Since the goal was to specify mental structures, Titchener coined the phrase structuralism to describe this branch of psychology (Atkinson, R.L. 1990, Introduction to Psychology. (10th Ed) New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, p767). Wundt's structuralism was quickly abandoned because its objects, conscious experiences, are not easily subjected to controlled experimentation in the same way as behaviour is. Today, however, brain-scanning technology can identify, for example, specialized brain cells that respond exclusively to basic lines and shapes; the outputs of these cells are combined in other brain areas whose activity correlates with more complex visual experience. This line of research, called cognitive psychology, could be regarded as a new kind of structuralism.

Structuralism takes the main tenets of voluntarism, namely perception and apperception, and breaks consciousness down into small physical and chemical components. Structuralism uses a technique called "introspection" to break down a person's perception into the most basic units. For example, an individual says that she saw a Broadway show, but, through introspection, she might instead claim to have seen multiple people on a stage dancing and singing with a variety of costumes. The breaking down of both physical and mental phenomena is the fundamental idea of structuralism. History Devised by Wilhelm Wundt, founder of the first psychology lab, and greatly expanded (and indeed legitimized) by his student, Edward B Titchener, it advocated the use of introspection (inward-looking), to determine how people thought and felt the way they did. This took the idea into dubious territory, because while objective self-knowledge is a useful skill in any psychological endeavor, introspection is by its very nature subjective, rather than objective, and structuralism was therefore accused of lacking objectivity and reliability in its methods and results. Titchener and structuralism Titchener is the founder of the theory of structuralism. Because he was a student of Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig, Titchener's ideas on how the mind worked were heavily influenced by Wundt's theory of voluntarism and his ideas of association and apperception (the passive and active combinations of elements of consciousness respectively). Titchener attempted to classify the structures of the mind, like chemists classify the elements of nature into the periodic table. Titchener said that only observable events constituted science and that any speculation concerning unobservable events has no place in society (this view was similar to the one expressed by Ernst Mach). In his book, Systematic Psychology, Titchener wrote: It is true, nevertheless, that observation is the single and proprietary method of science, and that experiment, regarded as scientific method, is nothing else than observation safeguarded and assisted. [1] Mind and consciousness Titchener believed that the goal of psychology was to study mind and consciousness. He defined consciousness as the sum total of mental experience at any given moment, and the mind as the accumulated experience of a lifetime. He believed that if the basic components of the mind could be defined and categorized, then the structure of mental processes and higher thinking could be determined. What each element of the mind is (what), how those elements interact with each other (how), and why they interact in the ways that they do (why) was the basis of reasoning that Titchener used in trying to find structure to the mind.

Introspection The main tool that Titchener used to try to determine the different components of consciousness was introspection. Titchener writes in his Systematic Psychology: The state of consciousness which is to be the matter of psychology ... can become an object of immediate knowledge only by way of introspection or self-awareness.[2]

and in his book An Outline of Psychology: ...within the sphere of psychology, introspection is the final and only court of appeal, that psychological evidence cannot be other than introspective evidence.[3] Unlike Wundt's method of introspection, Titchener had very strict guidelines for the reporting of an introspective analysis. The subject would be presented with an object, such as a pencil. The subject would then report the characteristics of that pencil (color, length, etc.). The subject would be instructed not to report the name of the object (pencil) because that did not describe the raw data of what the subject was experiencing. Titchener referred to this as stimulus error. In his translation of Wundt's work, Titchener illustrates Wundt as a supporter of introspection as a method through which to observe consciousness. However, introspection only fits Wundt's theories if the term is taken to refer to psychophysical methods. Introspection literally means 'looking within', to try to describe a person's memory, perceptions, cognitive processes, and/or motivations.[4] Elements of the mind Titchener's theory began with the question of what each element of the mind is. He concluded from his research that there were three types of mental elements constituting conscious experience: Sensations (elements of perceptions), Images (elements of ideas), and affections (elements of emotions). These elements could be broken down into their respective properties, which he determined were quality[intensity[duration, clearness, and extensity. Both sensations and images contained all of these qualities; however, affections were lacking in both clearness and extensity. Interaction of elements The second issue in Titchener's theory of structuralism was the question of how the mental elements combined and interacted with each other to form conscious experience. His conclusions were largely based on ideas of associationism. In particular, Titchener focuses on the law of contiguity, which is the idea that the thought of something will tend to cause thoughts of things that are usually experienced along with it. Titchener rejected Wundt's notions of apperception and creative synthesis (voluntary action), which were the basis of Wundt's voluntarism. Titchener argued that attention was simply a manifestation of the "clearness" property within sensation. Physical and mental relationship Once Titchener identified the elements of mind and their interaction, his theory then asked the question of why the elements interact in the way they do. In particular, Titchener was interested in the relationship between the conscious experience and the physical processes. Titchener believed that physiological processes provide a continuous substratum that give psychological processes a continuity they otherwise would not have. Therefore, the nervous system does not cause conscious experience, but can be used to explain some characteristics of mental events. Wundt and structuralism Wilhelm Wundt instructed Titchener, the founder of structuralism, at the University of Leipzig.The 'science of immediate experience' was stated by him. This simply means that the complex perceptions can be raised through basic sensory information.[5] Wundt is often associated in past literature with structuralism and the use of similar introspective methods. However, this is not the case. Wundt makes a clear distinction between pure introspection, which is the relatively unstructured self-observation used by earlier philosophers, and experimental introspection. Wundt believes this type of introspection to be acceptable since it uses laboratory instruments to vary conditions and make results of internal perceptions more precise. The reason for this confusion lies in the translation of Wundt's writings. When Titchener brought his theory to America, he also brought with him Wundt's work. Titchener translated these works for the American audience, and in so doing misinterpreted Wundt's meaning. He then used this translation to show that Wundt supported Titchener's own theories. In fact, Wundt's main theory was that of voluntarism. Criticisms Structuralism has faced a large amount of criticism, particularly from the behaviorist school of psychology. The main critique of structuralism was its focus on introspection as the method by which to gain an understanding of conscious experience. Critics argue that self-analysis was not feasible, since introspective students cannot appreciate the processes or mechanisms of their own mental processes. Introspection, therefore, yielded different results depending on who was using it and what they

were seeking. Some critics also pointed out that introspective techniques actually resulted in retrospection – the memory of a sensation rather than the sensation itself. Behaviorists fully rejected even the idea of the conscious experience as a worthy topic in psychology, since they believed that the subject matter of scientific psychology should be strictly operationalized in an objective and measurable way. Because the notion of a mind could not be objectively measured, it was not worth further inquiry. Structuralism also believes that the mind could be dissected into its individual parts, which then formed conscious experience. This also received criticism from the Gestalt school of psychology, which argues that the mind cannot be broken down into individual elements. Besides theoretical attacks, structuralism was criticized for excluding and ignoring important developments happening outside of structuralism. For instance, structuralism did not concern itself with the study of animal behavior, abnormal behavior, and personality. In addition, structuralism denied adopting the theory of evolution into its theory, which is arguably its biggest downfall. Ironically, in a critique of functional psychology, Titchener writes in his Systematic Psychology: [Functional psychology] was born of the enthusiasm of the post-Darwinian days, when evolution seemed to answer all the riddles of the universe; it has been nourished on analogies drawn from a loose and popular biology; it will pass as other fashions pass.[6] Titchener himself was criticized for not using his psychology to help answer practical problems. Instead, Titchener was interested in seeking pure knowledge that to him was more important than commonplace issues. Contemporary structuralism Today, the theory of structuralism has become virtually extinct. While researchers are still working to offer objective experimental approaches to measuring conscious experience, in particular within the field of cognitive psychology, the use of Titchener's form of introspection is no longer used. Today, any introspective methodologies are done under highly controlled situations and are understood to be subjective and retrospective. Proponents argue that psychology can still gain useful information from using introspection in this case.