ASSOCIATION (associo, to accompany).—Applied to laws of mental combination which
facilitate recollection—commonly called "Association of Ideas." "The law of
association is this—That empirical ideas, which often follow each other, create
a habit in the mind, whenever the one is produced, for the other always to
follow" (Kant, Anthropology, p. 182). The philosophy which traces all knowledge
to experience regards association as also a means of developing higher powers.
The laws of association as commonly stated are these :—(1) Similarity; (2)
Contiguity; (3) Repetition;—mental phenomena, similar, or often occurring
together, recall each other, The bond becomes stronger as the relation in
consciousness recurs. Dispute has been raised over the question whether we may
hold such associations as indissoluble or inseparable (J. S, Mill's Examination
of Hamilton, 3rd ed., p. 220).
"Ideas, that in themselves are not at all alien, come to be so united in some
men's minds that it is very hard to separate them; they always keep company, and
the one no sooner at any time comes into the understanding but its associate
appears with it" (Locke's Essay, bk. II. ch. XXXIII. sec. 5).
Locke, Essay, bk. II. ch. XXIII.; Hume, Essays, essay
III.; Hartley, Observations
on Man; Reid, Intellectual Powers, essay IV.; Stewart, Elements, vol.
V.; Brown, Lectures, lect XXXIII.; Hamilton's Reid, notes D** and D***, p. 889;
Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, II. 223; J. S. Mill's Examination of
Hamilton's Philosophy, 3rd ed., p. 219 (especially on "Insolubility," the
"Revivability," and the "Associability" of Feelings); Herbert Spencer,
Principles of Psychology, I. 228; Bain's Senses and Intellect, 2nd ed., p. 327.
On the bearing of association on evolution of mind, or development of knowledge,—
J. S. Mill's Examination of Hamilton, ch. XI.; Herbert Spencer's First Principles, "The Knowable." Criticism of the theory,— Calderwood's
Handbook of Moral Philosophy, pp. 98-122.