THE AFFECT OF A THOUGHT
The multiple associations generated by the algorithms of the mind often have a short life when they are not reinforced by the forces that intensify and stabilize them. Hume suggests, in the first page of his Treatise, that we can distinguish between impressions and ideas:
1. An impression is a perception that enters into the mind, such as sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soulâ (Hume, 1737, 1, 1, 1, p. 7).
2. Ideas are faint imagesâ of impressions used in thinking and reasoningâ (Hume, 1737, 1, 1, 1, p. 7). In this case, the word idea is not capitalized.
When an impression associates itself with an idea, this idea becomes more intense. The more intense an idea is, the more it is experienced as true.9 When I feel a strong anger rise up in me while I take hold of a teapot, the teapot will enter my memory associated to my anger, even if no link exist between the two. For Hume, God is but a word. However, this word is sometimes associated to marvelously conceived and touching images, moving and stimulating words and songs, and ceremonies that integrate us into a community and with people we love. This word, through its associations, gradually becomes so intense that persons who have participated in religious rituals have the impression that God exists.
I point out this construction because it already announces Darwin and Freud. Two aspects of this model are found in the one that Freud proposes:
1. The observation that ideas and emotions can be associated independently of what is going on in reality points to the mechanism that notably explains lapses.
2. The notion that an idea can become more or less intense.10