Can Change the World Again.
A SYSTEM OF MENTAL PHILOSOPHY. 1882.
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D. LL.D.
PHENOMENA OF THE SENSIBILITY CLASSIFIED.
Mental philosophers differ not a little in their classification of sensitive phenomena. Dr. Brown, for example, classifies all such phenomena with reference to the idea of time, as immediate, retrospective, and prospective. Prof. Upham divides these phenomena as natural and moral, while Dr. Hickok makes three classes, the animal, rational, and spiritual. Prof. Haven, on the other hand classifies the sensibilities as simple emotions, affections, and desires. One general objection holds against these and all other similar forms of classification. They are incomplete, sensations and appetites being omitted. This holds strictly with respect to all the forms above given, Dr. Hickok's excepted, and the discrimination which he has made between rational and spiritual emotions is in reality, a distinction without a difference, spiritual emotions and propensities pertaining as really and truly to the rational department of our nature as to any other. Similar remarks are obviously applicable to the forms of classification adopted by Dr. Reid, Mr. Dugald Stewart, and others.
We have endeavored to find a principle of classification free from all such objections,a principle that may be readily comprehended, on the one hand, and which will, on the other, be strictly universal in its application. This principle is found in the two-fold nature of man, and in his consequent relations to the world of matter, thought, and voluntary activity. As being in the body, and through it connected with the universe of material causes we, in common with the animal creation around us, are capacitated to receive certain impressions, and are the subjects of corresponding propensities and desires. As capacitated for the functions of thinking and knowing, and as adapted, in our sensitive natures to the varied spheres and objects of thought and knowledge, we are the subjects of another and quite diverse class of sensitive states. Finally as capacitated for endlessly diversified forms of voluntary activity in the adaptation of our sensitive natures to such forms, we are endowed with certain general active principles and are the subjects of corresponding sensitive impulsions. We, therefore, present the following as the general and all-comprehending classification of the varied phenomena of the sensibility; to wit, 1. Those which pertain to us as a part of the animal creation, and which include sensations and the appetites, or animal propensities. 2. Those which pertain to us as rational beings, our emotions and affections. 3. Those which pertain to us, as capacitated for diversified forms of voluntary activity, or our general active principles and impulsions. These three classes of the sensibilities we shall treat of in the order above presented.
TERMS DEFINED. SENSATIONS, EMOTIONS, DESIRES, PROPENSITIES, APPETITES, AFFECTIONS, GENERAL ACTIVE PRINCIPLES, PASSIONS.
Before proceeding to an elucidation of the varied classes of the sensibilities, it may be important to define, specifically certain terms which will be frequently employed hereafter.
Sensations are those states of the sensibility which directly and immediately succeed any impressions, made by any cause, upon the physical organization.
Emotions, on the other hand, are those sensitive states directly and immediately induced by the presence of any thought in the mind.
When any states of the sensibility are excited from any cause or causes,states impelling the mind to seek or avoid any particular object or objects, such impulsive states are denominated desires.
When the original constitution of our nature renders certain classes of desires habitual, or permanent, that particular department of the sensibility is called a propensity. Such for example are our desires for food, for drink, and our love of knowledge.
When the object of any given propensity is purely physical, such as food or drink, said propensity takes the name appetite.
When the object of any propensity is a living being, or a class of living beings, the propensity is then commonly denominated an affection. The love of kindred, for example, is called an affection.
When on the other hand the object of a given propensity is an object of pure thought, or an intellectual apprehension, said propensity is commonly designated by such terms as principle, desire, or love. Such, for example, is the principle of curiosity, the love of knowledge, or the desire for action. When the object of a given propensity, is some form of voluntary activity, such for example as action in conformity, or in opposition, to the law of duty, such impulsive propensities are denominated general active principles.
When any given propensity, I remark finally, becomes very strongly and permanently developed, and its gratification becomes a leading object of desire and pursuit, said propensity is denominated a passion. Thus individuals are said to have a passion for music, for painting, or for particular forms of activity.