On the Psychology of Cognition


Searching for “four primary relations” led me to the work of Rev. Robert Jardine (1840-1924, Canada). His most notable (and perhaps only major) work is “The Elements of the Psychology of Cognition”.

His first fourfold consists of the “four primary relations” of consciousness: difference, resemblance, simultaneity, and succession. Each of these are relations of perception that can be informed and conditioned by other members of these four relations, or at least that is what I think he’s saying. Note that difference and resemblance have to do with information (or space), and simultaneity and succession have to do with time.

His second fourfold consists of the double dual of Internal-External and Quantitative-Qualitative, and are the relations between objects in our thought. Thus these are:

  • Internal Quantitative:
    Relations of figure, size, shape, motion, number, and so on, of the constituent parts or elements of objects, classes or systems. These relations may be any of the four primary relations or any combination of them.
  • Internal Qualitative:
    Relations between the qualities of objects of our knowledge, or classes of objects, these qualities being made known to us by the sensations or ideas which they produce in our minds.
  • External Quantitative:
    Relations of any of the four primary kinds or any combinations of them between the figure, size, shape, motion, duration, number, and so on, of objects, classes or systems which are external to one another.
  • External Qualitative:
    Relations between external objects or systems with reference to qualities made known by sense, moral or aesthetical qualities, characters, habits, conditions and any other characteristics of objects of knowledge which may be appropriately called qualitative.

Quantities he relates to Forms, and Qualities to Sensations.

Some of the material seems interesting, but before running to read, consider the beginning of the review (of the 1st edition) from Nature, by Douglas A. Spalding:

MR. JARDINE has seemingly had some personal reason for writing this treatise; for in the preface he asks the critic to bear in mind “that the book has been written with considerable haste, in order to secure its publication within a certain limited time.” It would have been wiser to ignore the critic: for this unsympathetic personage is only too certain to meet this innocent confidence with the unfeeling remark that perhaps the interests of science would not have suffered had the author taken a little more time over his work.

I could well adopt the last phrase as a tagline for my own blog! The review concludes with:

Another general criticism that must be made is, that there is not a sufficient wealth of concrete illustration, and that, though the writer has “endeavoured to express himself in as clear and simple language as possible,” his words are, nevertheless, often dark and difficult enough. What will readers “beginning their philosophical studies” make of such a sentence as this?—“It must be borne in mind that it is in their character as modes of the non-ego that objectified sensations are localised. The localising is, therefore, not so much an act of consciousness as a precept of consciousness and a form of the non-ego.”


References and Links:

Robert Jardine / The Logical Doctrine of the Proposition. The Calcutta Review, Vol 62, No 124 (1876), 307-323.

Rev. Robert Jardine / The Elements of the Psychology of Cognition, MacMillan & Co. (2nd edition 1885)

Review of 1st edition in The Calcutta Review, Vol 60, No 120 (1875), 280-322.

Review of 1st edition from Nature 11, 422-423 (01 April 1875) | doi:10.1038/011422a0

Book available online:




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