BY THOMAS C. UPHAM, D.D., 1799-1872.










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, BY THOMAS C.

UPHAM, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,

for the State of Maine.


IN preparing the following work, I trust I have felt, in some

degree, the responsibility which obviously ought to attach to such an

attempt. It has been my object, aided by the views and researches which

have characterized the labours of various philosophical sects, to give a

condensed, but just and impartial, account of most of the leading

principles of Mental Philosophy, so far as they appear to be ascertained

and recognised at the present time. The Work, accordingly, is essentially

Eclectic in its character; and, as such, can neither incur the discredit,

nor claim the honour, of belonging exclusively to any of the great

Philosophical Schools, although it does not hesitate to acknowledge its

indebtedness to all. In connexion with a cordial application of the

Eclectic principle, which has laid open to me the truth wherever it may be

found, and under whatever name, I have felt it important to adhere as

closely as possible to the rules of Inductive philosophizing, in

opposition to that excess of bold conjecture and unchastened speculation

which have too often perplexed and deformed mental inquiries. And in doing

this I have been obliged to submit mny conclusions everywhere to the

subjective test of my own mental experience and operations, as developed

within the sphere of my personal consciousness. In this way I have hoped,

with Divine assistance, to prepare a Work which, together with some

important views that might, perhaps, properly be considered original,

should select, arrange, and systematize the doctrines of a multitude of

writers; and which, while it might commend itself with some degree of

confidence to the philosopher, should, at the same time, be accordant, as

sound Philosophy ever will be, with the principles and interests of

correct morals and religion. The aspect of the times evidently demanded

that the attempt should be made-by somebody. There is no question that a

Work of this kind, especially in connexion with the mental training of

young persons, has for some time been greatly needed. But whether I have

succeeded, in a task of so much difficulty and requiring so much care, in

meeting the reasonable expectations and wishes of the friends of mental

science, I must leave to others to decide. The reader will notice that the

Work proceeds, after a brief discussion of the doctrine of Primary Truths,

and a few other preparatory views, upon the basis of a threefold division

of the mind, viz., the INTELLECT, the SENSIBILITIES, and the WILL. This

general division, which, notwithstanding its obvious importance, has not

generally been made prominent in philosophical writers, and has even been

rejected by some, is strictly adhered to throughout. In the view of the

writer it is a fundamental one, without which there is no adequate

foundation for morals, aesthetics, or religion. From this general division

other: subordinate arrangements and classifications, some of which are

peculiar to the present Work, naturally and easily flow. And thus the

reader will find the whole subject opening itself connectedly and symmetrically, and in such

a manner as to present, in its completed outline, not merely a disjointed

congeries of philosophical facts, but the regularity and beauty of a

philosophical system. The general division of the Sensibilities is into

the Natural or Pathematic and Moral. Under the head of the MORAL

SENSIBILITIES, I have examined the subject of conscience at some length

and in various points of view, and cannot but hope that some of the

difficulties which have hitherto attended it have been removed, and that

the whole subject is placed, to some extent, in a consistent and

satisfactory light. In many other respects, particularly in the

classification of the Emotions and the Desires, and their relation to each

other, and in some of the doctrines contained in the portion on the Will,

the reader will find some important views, which I suppose he will not be

likely to find, in the form in which they are now presented, in other

philosophical works. This work, in its original form, appeared a number of

years since, and has passed through successive editions. It has been

favourably received by the public; perhaps as much so as other

philosophical works. Nevertheless, desirous of rendering it as perfect as

possible, I have recently subjected it to re-examination and revision, and

accordingly it appears now in a somewhat new form, in some respects

condensed and in others enlarged, and with the results of the author's

latest inquiries and emendations.


New York, Sept., 1869,



CHAP. I.-PRIMARY TRUTHS. Section Page 1.

Importance of preliminary statements in Mental Philosophy.. 17 2. Nature

of such preliminary statements....................... 18 3. Of the name or

designation given them....................... 19 4. Primary truth of

personal existence.......................... 20 5. Occasions of the origin

of the idea or belief of personal existence 20 6. Primary truth of

personal identity........................... 22'7. Reasons for regarding

this a preliminary truth................ 23 8. There are original and

authoritative grounds of belief......... 2A 9. Primary truths having

relation to the reasoning power........ 27 10. No beginning or change of

existence without a cause......... 27 11. Occasions of the origin of the

primary truth of effects and causes 28 12. Matter and mind have uniform

and fixed laws................. 29 13. This primary truth not founded on

reasoning................SO30 CHAP. II.-IM-IIATERIALITY OF THE MIND. 14.

On the meaning of the terms material and immaterial......... 32 15.

Difference between mind and matter shown from language.... 33 16. Their

different nature shown by their respective properties... 34 17. The soul's

immateriality indicated by the feeling of identity.. 35 18. The material

doctrine makes a man a machine................ 35 19. No exact

correspondence between the mental and bodily state 36 20. Evidence of this

want of exact correspondence................ 37 21. Comparative state of

the mind and body in dreaming......... 39 22. The great works of genius an

evidence of immateriality... 40 23. The doctrine of materiality

inconsistent with future existence 41 CHAP. III.-LAWS OF BELIEF. 24. Of

belief, its degrees and its sources.......................... 43 25. Of

suggestion, consciousness, and the senses, as grounds of

belief....................................................... 44 26.

Memory and testimony considered as sources of belief........ 45 27.

Objection to reliance on testimony........................... 47 28. Of

judgment or relative suggestion as a ground of belief...... 48 29. Of

reasoning as a ground or law of belief.................... 49 CHAP.

IV.-GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. 30. The mind may be regarded in a threefold

point of view.......51 31. Evidence of the general arrangement from

consciousness..... 51 32. Evidence of the same from the terms found in

different languages 53 33. Evidence from inin'ciental remalrs In

writers................. 54 34. Further proof from various writers on the

mind............ 57 35. Classification of the intellectual states of the

mind........... 60




I.-ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. Section Page 36. Connexion of the mind

with the material world............. 65 37. Of the origin or beginnings of

knowledge.................... 66 38. Our first knowledge in general of a

material or external origin 68 39. Further proof of the beginnings of

knowledge from external

causes................................................... 70 40. The same

subject further illustrated......................... 72 41. Subject

illustrated from the case of James Mitchell.......... 73 42. Illustration

from the case of Caspar Hauser................. 74 43. Of connatural or

innate knowledge................. 77 44. The doctrine of innate knowledge

not susceptible of proof... 78 45. The doctrine tried by the idea of a

God..................... 78 46. The further discussion of this subject

unnecessary........... 80 47. Further remarks on the rise of knowledge by

means of the senses.........................8............ 81 CHAP. II.-THE

POWER OF SENSATION. 48. Sensation a simple mental state originating in the

senses..... 83 49. All sensation is properly and truly in the

mind.............. 84 50. Sensations are not images or resemblances of

objects........ 87 51. The connexion between the mental and physical

change not susceptible of explanation................................ 88


nature of perception.................... 89 53. Of the primary and

secondary qualities of matter............ 90 54. Of the secondary

qualities of matter........................ 92 55. Of the nature of mental

powers or faculties, and their names. 92 CHAP. IV.-THE SENSES OF SMELL AND

TASTE. 56. Nature and importance of the senses as a source of knowledge 94

57. Of the connexion of the brain with sensation and perception. 95 58.

Order in which the senses are to be considered.............. 96 59. Of the

sense and sensation of smell...................9....... 96 60. Of

perceptions of smell in distinction from sensations........ 97 61. Of the

sense and sensation of taste........................... 98 62. Design and

uses of the senses of smell and taste............ 99 CHAP. V.-THE SENSE OF

HEARING. 63. Organ of the sense of hearing..............................

100 64. Nature of sonorous bodies and the medium of the communications of

sound......................................... 101 65. Varieties of the

sensation of sound................. 103 66. Manner in which we learn the

place of sounds............... 104 67. Application of these views to the

art of ventriloquism....... 105 68. Uses of hearing, and its connexion

with oral language....... 106

1X CHAP. VI.-THE SENSE OF TOUCH. Section Page 69. Of the sense

of touch and its sensations in general.......... 107 70. Idea of

externality suggested in connexion with the touch.. 108 71. Origin of the

notion of extension, and of form and figure.... 110 72. On the sensation

of heat and cold.......................... 111 73. On the sensation of

hardness and softness.................. 113 74. Of certain indefinite

feelings sometimes ascribed to the touch 114 75. Relation between the

sensation and what is outwardly signified.................................

115 CHAP. VII.-THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 76. Of the organ of sight, and the uses

or benefits of that sense 117 77. Statement of the mode or process in

-visual perception...... 118 78. Of the original and acquired perceptions

of sight............ 119 79. The idea of extension not originally from

sight............. 119 80. Of the knowledge of the figure of bodies by the

sight....... 121 81. Measurements of magnitude by the

eye................... 123 82. Of objects seen in the mist, and of the sun

and moon in the horizon.................................................

124 83. Of the estimation of distances by sight..................... 126

84. Estimation of distance when unaided by intermediate objects 128 85. Of

objects seen on the ocean, &c............................ 130 86.

Explanatory remarks...................................... 131 CHAP.

VIII.-oF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, AND IDEALISM. 87. By means of sensations

we have a knowledge of outward

things.................................................. 132 88. Objection

to a reliance on the senses....................... 133 89. The senses

circumscribed or limited rather than fallacious.. 133 90. Some alleged

mistakes of the senses owing to want of care.. 135 91. Of mistakes in

judging of the motion of objects............. 138 92. Of mistakes as to

the distances and magnitude of objects.... 140 93. The senses liable to be

diseased............................ 141 94. On the real existence of a

material world................... 142 95. Doctrine of the non-existence of

matter considered......... 143 96. The senses as much grounds of belief as

other parts of our

constitution............................................. 145 97. Opinions

of Locke on the testimony of the senses.......... 145 CHAP. IX.-HABITS OF

SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 98. General view of the law of habit and of its

applications..... 147 99. Of habit in relation to the

smell............................ 149 100. Of habit in relation to the

taste............................ 150 101. Of habit in relation to the

hearing........................ 152 102. Of certain universal habits based

oir sounds................ 154 103. Application of habit to the

touch......................... 156 104. Other striking instances of habits

of touch................. 159 105. Habits considered in relation to the

sight.................. 160 106. Sensations may possess a relative as well

as positive increase of power................................ 162 107. Of

habits as modified by particular callings or arts.......... lij6 108. The

law of habit considered in reference to the perception of the outlines and

forms of objects........................ 164 109. Notice of some facts

which favour the above doctrine....... 165 110. Additional illustrations

of Mr. Stewart's doctrine........... 166 A 2

CHAP. X.-MUSCULAR HABITS. Section Page 111. Instances in proof

of the existence of muscular habits...... 167 112. Muscular habits

regarded by some writers as involuntary... 169 113. Objections to the

doctrine of involuntary muscular habits.. 169 CHAP. XI.-THE CONCEPTIVE

POWER.-CONCEPTIONS. 114. Conceptivity and characteristics of

conceptions............. 172 115. Of conceptions of objects of

sight.......................... 173 116. Of the influence of habit on our

conceptions............... 175 117. Influence of habit on conceptions of

sight........... 176 118. Of the subserviency of our conceptions to

description...... 176 119. Of conceptions attended with a momentary

belief.......... 177 120. Conceptions which are joined with

perceptions............. 180 121. Conceptions as connected with fictitious


STATES. 122. Origin of the distinction of simple and complex............

183 123. Nature and characteristics of simple mental states.......... 184

124. Simple mental states not susceptible of definition.......... 184 125.

Simple cognitive states representative of a reality.......... 185 126.

Origin of complex notions and their relation to simple..... 186 127.

Supposed complexness without the antecedence of simple

feelings.................................... 187 128. The precise sense in

which complexness is to be understood 188 129. Illustrations of analysis

as applied to the mind.............. 190 130. Complex notions of external

origin...................... 191 131. Of objects contemplated as

wholes......................... 192 132. Something more in external

objects than mere attributes or

qualities......................................... 193 133. Explanatory

remarks on the true philosophical method..... 194 CHAP. XIII.

—ABSTRACTION.-THE ABSTRACTIVE POWER. 134. Abstraction implied in the

analysis of complex ideas........ 197 135. Instances of particular

abstract ideas........................ 198 136. Names, and complexity in

the power of abstraction......... 199 137. Of generalizations of

particular abstract mental states...... 202 138. Of the importance and

uses of absrtaction.................. 202 CHAP. XIV.-GENERAL ABSTRACT

IDEAS. 139. General abstract notions the same with genera and species..

203 140. Process in classification, or the forming of genera and species

204 141. Early classifications sometimes incorrect................... 205

142. Illustrations of our earliest classifications.................. 206

143. Of the nature of general abstract ideas...................... 207

144. Objection sometimes made to the existence of general notions 209 145.

The power of general abstraction in connexion with numbers,

&c........................................... 210 146. Of general abstract

truths or principles.................. 211 147. Of the speculations of

philosophers and others............. 212 148. Of different opinions

formerly prevailing........2........ 212 149. Of the opinions of the

Nominalists.........................213 150. Of the opinions of the

Conceptualists....................... 214 151. Further remarks of Brown on

general abstractions.........216 CHAP. XV.-OF THE POWER OP ATTENTION. 152.

Names given it, and its result when in exercise............. 217 153. Of

different degrees of attention....................... 217

Xi Section Page 154. Complexness of the power of

attention..................... 219 155. Dependence of memory on

attention...........2......... 220 156. Of exercising attention in

reading.......................... 222 157. Alleged inability to command

the attention................ 223 CHAP. XVI.-DREAMING AND SOMNAMBULISIM.

158. Definition of dreams and the prevalence of them............ 225 159.

Connexion of dreams with our waking thoughts............ 226 160. Dreams

are often caused by our sensations................. 227 161. Explanation

of the incoherency of dreams. (1st cause)..... 229 162. Second cause of

the incoherency of dreams................. 229 163. Apparent reality of

dreams. (1st cause).................... 230 164. Apparent reality of

dreams. (2d cause)...................... 231 165. Of our estimate of time

in dreaming......................... 232 166. Of the senses sinking to

sleep in succession.................. 235 167. General remarks on cases of

somnambulism................ 236 168. Further illustrations of

somnambulism..................... 238 DIVISION FIRST. THE INTELLECT OR




fountains of knowledge within................ 243 170. Declaration of

Locke, that the soul has knowledge in itself.. 244 171. Opinions of

Cudworth on the subject of internal knowledge. 245 172. Further remarks of

the same writer on this subject......... 246 173. Writers, who have

objected to the doctrine of an internal source of

knowledge.............................. 248 174. Knowledge begins in the

senses, but has internal accessions. 250 175. Instances of notions which

have an internal origin.......... 252 176. Imperfections attendant on

classifications in mental

philosophy..................................................... 254 CHAP.

II. —TEE INTUITIONAL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWER. 177. Place, general objects,

and names of this power............. 255 178. Ideas of existence, mind,

self-existence, and personal identity 257 179. Origin of the idea of

externality............................ 259 180. Idea of matter or

material existence........................ 260 181. Origin of the idea of

motion................................. 262 182. Of the nature of unity

and the origin of that notion........ 262 183. Nature of-succession, and

origin of the idea of succession... 264 184. Origin of the notion of

duration............................ 264 185. Of time and its

measurements, and of eternity.............. 267 186. Marks or

characteristics of time............................ 267 187. The idea of

space not of external origin................ 269 188. The idea of space

has its origin in suggestion............... 271 189. Characteristic marks

of the notion of space................. 272 190. Of the origin of the idea

of power........................ 273 191. Origin of the idea of the first

or primitive.................. 275 192. Of the ideas of right and

wrong............................ 276 193. Origin of the ideas of moral

merit and demerit............. 277 194. Of other elements of knowledge

developed in suggestion... 278 195. Suggestion a source of principles as

well as of ideas........ 279

CHAP. III.-CONSCIOUSNESS. Section Page 196. Consciousness

the second source of internal knowledge; its nature............ 282 197.

Further remarks on the proper objects of consciousness.... 283 198.

Consciousness a ground or law of belief.................... 285 199.

Instances of knowledge developed in consciousness......... 286 CHAP.

IV.-RELATIVE SUGGESTION OR JUDGMENT. 200. Of the susceptibility of

perceiving or feeling relations...... 289 201. Occasions on which feelings

of relation may arise........... 290 202. Of the use of correlative

terms............................. 291 203. Of the great number of our

ideas of relation................ 292 204. Of relations of identity and

diversity....................... 292 205. Of axioms in connexion with

relations of identity and diversity 293 206. (II.) Relations of degree,

and names expressive of them..... 294 207. Relations of degree in

adjectives of the positive form....... 295 208. (III.) Of relations of

proportion........................... 296 209. (IV.) Of relations of place

or position...................... 297 210. (V.) Of relations of

time.............................. 299 211. (VI.) Of relations of

possession......3.................... 300 212. (VII.) Of relations of

cause and effect............... 301 213. Of complex terms involving the

relation of cause and effect. 302 214. Remarks on instituted or

conventional relations........ 303 215. Connexion of relative suggestion

or judgment with reasoning 304 CRAP. V.-ASSOCIATION. (I.) PRIMARY LAWS.

216. Reasons for considering this subject here................... 305 217.

Meaning of association and illustrations.................. 306 218. Of the

general laws of association...................... 307 219. Resemblance the

first general law of association............ 308 220. Resemblance in every

particular not necessary............ 309 221. Of resemblance in the

effects produced..................... 310 222. Contrast the second general

or primary law................ 311 223. Contiguity the third g'eneral or

primary law................ 313 224. Cause and effect the fourth primary

law.................... 314 CRAP. VI.-ASSOCIATION. (II.) SECONDARY LAWS.

225. Secondary laws and their connexion with the primary...... 315 226. Of

the influence of lapse of time............................ 316 227.

Secondary law of repetition or habit........................ 318 228. Of

the secondary law of coexistent emotion................ 319 229. Original

difference in the mental constitution............... 320 230. The

foregoing law as applicable to the sensibilities......... 321 231. Of

associations caused by present objects of perception..... 323 232. Causes

of increased vividness in these instances............ 325 CHAP.

VII.-CASUAL ASSOCIATIONS. (I.) INTELLECTUAL. 233. Association sometimes

misleads our judgments............. 326 234. Casual association in respect

to the place of sensation...... 327 235. Connexion of our ideas of

extension and time.............. 328 236. Of high and low notes in

music............................. 330 237. Connexion of the ideas of

extension and colour............. 331 238. Tendency of the mind to pass

from the sign to the thing

signified................................................... 332 239.

Whether there be heat in fire, &c........................... 334 PA0.

Whether there be meaning in words........................ 334 241. Benefit

of examining such connexions of thought........... 336

Xiii Section Page 242. Power of the will over mental

associations................. 337 243. Association controlled by indirect

voluntary power......... 338 244. Further illustrations of indirect

voluntary power........... 339 CHAP. VIII.-MEMORY. 245. Remarks on the

general nature of memory.................. 341 246. Of memory as a ground

or law of belief.................... 342 247. Of differences in the

strength of memory................... 343 248. Of circumstantial memory,

or that species of memory which is based on the relations of contiguity in

time and place.. 345 249. Illustrations of specific or circumstantial

memory.......... 347 250. Of philosophic memory, or that species of memory

which is based on other relations than those of contiguity........ 348

251. Further illustrations of philosophic memory............... 350 252.

Of that species of memory called intentional recollection... 351 253.

Instance illustrative of the preceding......................... 353 254.

Remarks on the memory of the aged....................... 354 255. On the

compatibility of strong memory and good judgment. 356 256. Marks of a good

memory................................... 357 257. Directions or rules for

the improvement of the memory..... 358 258. Further directions for the

improvement of the memory..... 361 259. Of observance of the truth in

connexion with memory...... 363 260. Of committing to writing as a means

of aiding the memory.. 363 261. Of mnemonics or systems of artificial

memory.............. 364 CHAP. IX.-DURATION OF MEMORY. 262. Restoration of

thoughts and feelings supposed to be forgotten 365 263. Mental action

quickened by influence on the physical system 367 264. Other instances of

quickened mental action, and of a restoration of

thoughts........................................ 368 265. Effect on the

memory of a severe attack of fever........... 369 266. Approval and

illustrations of these views from Coleridge... 370 267. Application of the

principles of this chapter to education... 372 268. Connexion of this

doctrine with the final judgment and a future

life................................................. 373 CHAP.

X.-REASONING. 269. Reasoning a source of ideas and

knowledge................. 375 270. Illustrations of the value of the

reasoning power.......... 376 271. Definition of reasoning, and of

propositions................ 378 272. Process of the mind in all cases of

reasoning............... 379 273. Grounds of the selection of

propositions................... 381 274. Reasoning implies the existence

of antecedent or assumed propositions.............................. 382

27.5. Of reasoning a priori....................................... 384

276. Of reasoning a posteriori................................... 386 277.

Of reasoning a fortiori..................................... 387 278. Of

differences in the power of reasoning.................... 387 279. Of

habits of reasoning..................................... 389 280. Of

reasoning in connexion with language or expression..... 390 CHAP.

XI.-DEMONSTRATIVE REASONING. 281. Of the subjects of demonstrative

reasoning........... 392 282. Use of definitions and axioms in

demonstrative reasoning... 393 283. The opposites of demonstrative

reasonings absurd.......... 394 284. Demonstrations do not admit of

different degrees of belief.. 395 285. Of the use of diagrams in

demonstrations................... 396 286. Of signs in general as

connected with reasoning............ 397

Section Page 287. Of the influence of demonstrative

reasoning on the mental

character............................................... 399 288. Further

considerations on the influence of demonstrative

reasoning.......................................... 400 CHAP. XII. —IORAL

REASONING. 289. Of the subjects and importance of moral reasoning.........

402 290. Of the nature of moral certainty.......................... 403

291. Of reasoning from analogy................................ 404 292.

Caution to be used in reasoning from analogy.......... 406 293. Of

reasoning by induction.................................. 407 294. Of the

caution necessary in inductive processes............. 408 295. Of

instances or experiments in inductive reasoning termed instantie

crucis............................... 408 296. Of combined or accumulated

arguments.................... 409 CHAP. XIII.-PRACTICAL DIRECTIONS IN

REASONING. 297. Logic, and rules relating to the practice of

reasoning........ 411 298. Of being influenced inll reasoning by a love of

the truth...... 412 299. Care to be used in correctly stating the subject

of discussion 413 300. Consider the kind of evidence applicable to the

subject..... 414 301. Reject the aid of false arguments or

sophisms.............. 415 302. Fallacia equivocationis, or the use of

equivocal terms and phrases........................................... 417

303. On the sophism of estimating actions and character fiom the

circumstances of success merely......................... 419 304. Of

adherence to our opinions........................... 420 305. Effects on

the mind of debating for victory instead of truth.. 421 CHAP.

XIV.-IMAGINATION. 306. Imagination an intellectual process closely related

to reasoning...................................................... 423

307. Definition of the power of imagination......................424 308.

Process of the mind in the creations of the imagination..... 425 309.

Further remarks on the same subject....................... 426 310.

Illustration fiom the writings of Dr. Reid................ 427 311.

Grounds of the preference of one conception to another.... 428 312.

Illustration of the subject from Milton..................... 428 313. The

creations of imagination not entirely voluntary......... 429 314.

Illustration of the statements of the preceding section...... 431 315. On

the utility of the faculty of the imagination............. 432 316. Works

of imagination give different degrees of pleasure.... 433 317. Importance

of theimagination in connexion with reasoning 435 318. Of misconceptions

by means of the imagination............. 437 319. Explanation of the above

misrepresentations of the

imagination....................................... 438 320. Feelings of

sympathy aided by the imagination............ 439 CRAP. XV.-COMPLEX IDEAS

OF INTERNAL ORIGIN. 321. Of complex ideas of external

origin....................... 440 322. Nature of complex ideas of internal

origin.................. 441 323. Of complex notions formed by the

repetition of the same

thing................................................... 442 324. Of the

help afforded by names in the combination of numbers 443 325. Instances of

complex notions made up of different simple

ideas................................... 444 326. Not the same internal

complex ideas in all languages....... 446 327. Origin of the complex

notion of a Supreme Being.......... 448




328. Disordered intellectual action connected -with the body... 453 329.

The mind constituted on the principle of a connexion with the

body................................................ 454 330. Illustration

of the subject from the effects of old age........ 455 331. The connexion

of the bodily system with the mental shown from the effects resulting from

diseases.................. 456 332. Shown also from the effects of

stimulating drugs and gases. 457 333. Influence on the body of excited

imagination and passion... 458 334. This doctrine of use in explaining


335. Of excited conceptions and of apparitions in general........ 461 336.

Of the less permanent excited conceptions of sight......... 462 337. Of

the less permhanent excited conceptions of sound........ 463 338. First

cause of permanently vivid conceptions or apparitions. Morbid sensibility

of the retina of the eye............... 464 339. Second cause of

permanently excited conceptions or apparitions. Superabundance of blood in

the system.......... 467 340. Methods of relief adopted in this

case...................... 469 341. Third cause of excited conceptions.

Attacks of fever...... 470 342. Fourth cause of apparitions and other

excited conceptions. Inflammation of the

brain............................... 471 343. Facts having relation to the

fourth cause of excited conceptions.....................................

473 344. Fifth cause of apparitions. HIysteria..................... 473

CHAP. III.-PARTIAL INSANITY. 345. Meaning of the term and kinds of

insanity.................. 474 346. Of disordered or alienated

sensations....................... 475 347. Of disordered or alienated

external perception.............. 476 348. Disordered state or insanity of

intuition.................... 477 349. Unsoundness or insanity of

consciousness.................. 479 350. Insanity of the judgment or

relative suggestion............. 480 351. Disordered or alienated

association. Light-headedness..... 481 352. Illustrations of this mental

disorder........................ 481 o53. Of partial insanity or

alienation of the memory............. 482 354. Of the power of reasoning

in the partially insane............ 484 355. Instance of the above form of

disordered reasoning......... 485 356. Of readiness of reasoning in the

partially insane............ 486 357. Partial mental alienation by means

of the imagination...... 487 358. Insanity or alienation of the power of

belief................ 488 CHAP. IV.-TOTAL INSANITY OR DELIRIIUIM. 359.

Idea of total insanity or delirium..................... 490 360. Of

perception in cases of total or delirious insanity......... 491 361. Of

association in delirious insanity......................... 492 362.

Illustration of the above section........................... 492 363. Of

the memory in connexion with delirious insanity........ 494 364. Of the

power of i'easoning in total or delirious insanity...... 494 365. Of the

form of insanity called furor or madness............. 495 366. Of the

causes of the different kinds of insanity.............. 496 367. Of moral

accountability in mental alienation............... 497

Section Page 368. Of the imputation of insanity to

individuals................ 498 369. Of the treatment of the

insane........................... 499 APPENDIX ON LANGUAGE. CHAP.

I.-NATURAL SIGNS. 1. Of the natural and necessary communication of the

mental states from one to another................................ 503 2.

Mental states first expressed by gesture and the countenance. 504 3. Of

the use made of natural signs by the deaf and dumb...... 505 4. Further

illustrations of the great power of natural signs.... 507 5. Of the system

of signs existing among the N. A. Savages..... 510 6. Of the symbolic

exhibitions ofthe Hebrews................. 512 7. Of the instinctive

interpretation of certain natural signs..... 513 8. Further evidence of

the instinctive interpretation of natural

signs.................................................... 514 9.

Considerations on the use of natural signs................... 516 CHAP.

II.-ORAL SIG-NS, OR SPEECH. 10. Remarks on the original formation of oral

signs............. 518 11. Of the possibility of forming an oral language

without Divine aid........................................ 520 12. Oral

signs or words are in general arbitrary................ 522 13. Words at

first few in number, and limited to particular objects 523 14. Of the

formation of general names or appellatives.5...... 523 15. Formation of

appellatives implies the feeling of resemblance. 525 16. On the increase

in the number of nouns or appellatives...... 526 17. Of the formation of

verbs................................... 527 18. Formation of adjectives

and other parts of speech........... 528 19. The foregoing principles

confirmed from the deaf and dumb.. 529 20. Of the formation of

prepositions....... 530 21. Of the origin and original import of

conjunctions.... 5..... 531 22. Further remarks on the meaning of

conjunctions, etc........ 532 23. Of the origin of particular or proper

names................. 532 24. Principle of selection and significancy of

proper names...... 533 25. Of the origin and significancy of the names of

places........ 534 CHAP. III.-WRITTEN SIGNS. 26. Of the causes which led

to the formation of written signs... 535 27. The first artificial signs

addressed to the eye were pictures... 536 28. Of hieroglyphical

writing............................... 538 29. Of the written characters

of the Chinese. 539 30. The Chinese character an improvement on the

hieroglyphical 540 31. Artificial delineations employed as signs of

sound........... 541 32. Formation of syllabic

alphabets............................. 541 33. The preceding views

confirmed by recent researches......... 542 34. On the recent formation of

the Cherokee syllabic alphabet... 543 35. Facts relative to the invention

of the Cherokee alphabet..... 544 36. Conventional written signs as

expressive of numbers, etc.... 546 CHAP. IV.-CHARACTERISTICS OF LANGUAGES.

37. All _anguages have their characteristic traits................. 548

38. Characteristics of the languages of uncivilized nations....... 549 39.

Characteristics of language in civilized and scientific nations. 550 40.

Characteristics of languages depend much on habits......... 551 41.

Languages aid in forming correct ideas of national character. 552 42. Of

the correspondence between national intellect, etc........ 553 43.

Different languages suited to different minds and subjects.... 555 44.

Such differences shown by attempts at translating.......... 556 45. Of the

study of the Greek and Latin languages............ 558 46. Of an universal

language...................5................. 60




1. Importance of preliminary statements in Mental Philosophy. WE propose in a few introductory chapters

to give some preparatory statements, which will aid, it is hoped, in

making the way easier and clearer for what is to follow. The subjects of

these introductory chapters, different in their nature, but agreeing in

having certain common relations, are Primary Truths, the Immateriality of

the mind, Laws of belief, and the general Classification into the

intellect, sensibilities, and will, which is the basis of all the

subseqnlent inquiries. The first chapter is on the subject of primary

truths. It is often highly important, in the investigation of a department

of science, to state, at the commencement of such investigation, and

whether the investigation be of a specific or more general nature, what

things are to be considered as preliminary and taken for granted, and what

are not. If this precaution had always been observed, which, where there

is any room for mistake or misapprehension, seems so reasonable, many

useless disputes would have been avoided, and the paths to knowledge, too

often unnecessarily perplexed and prolonged, would have been rendered more

direct and easy. It is impossible to proceed with inquiries in the science

of MENTAL PHILOSOPHY, as it will be found to be in almost every other,

without a proper understanding of those fundamental truths which are

necessarily involved in what follows. And it will, accordingly, be the object of this chapter to endeavour to

ascertain some of them. ~ 2. Nature of such preliminary statements. Those

preliminary principles which may be found necessary to be admitted as the

antecedents and conditions of all subsequent inquiries, will be called,

for the sake of distinction and convenience, PRIMARY TRUTHs. Other names

have been given them, such as the " principles of common sense," and the

"primordial elements of the human understanding;" but this is the

designation, which especially commends itself to acceptance, both for its

simplicity and its peculiar appropriateness to the subject. i3But passing

from the name to the thing, the question arises, What are these truths.

And in what manner do we know them? According to the view of the subject

taken by Buffier, a judicious French writer, who has made it a matter of

special inquiry, and has written a treatise upon it, and whose views are

approved and adopted in the subsequent investigations of Dugald Stewart,

they are such, and such only, as can neither be proved nor r~elfuted by

other propositions of greater _perspicuity. And this seems to be not only

a succinct, but a satisfactory account of them, since, if there were other

propositions into which they could be resolved, and by means of which they

could be made clearer, then they could no longer be regarded as Primary,

but those other clearer propositions would have that character. But it may

be' asked again, Are there any propositions of this kind? Are there any so

clear, that the great instrument of human reasoning cannot render them

more perspicuous? Can there not be a complete action of the human mind in

all its parts without the laying down of any antecedent truths whatever,

as auxiliaries in its efforts after knowledge?The answer to such

questions, however formidable they may at first appear, is by no means

difficult. In the first place, every man, who investigates at all, often experiences doubts in his inquiries. I-Ie accordingly

endeavours to render such doubtful views clearer by argument. He goes on

from step to step, from one proposition to another; but, unless he at last

finds some truth utterly too clear to be rendered more so by reasoning, he

must evidently proceed, adding deduction to deduction without end. His

resting-place, accordingly, is in those truths which are elementary, and

which illuminate the understanding by their own light, and not by a light

let in from any other source. In the second place, the nature of reasoning

itself leads to the same view. It is well understood, that there can be no

process of reasoning, without involving the fact of a successive

perception of relations. But it is hardly necessary to say, that there can

be no feeling or perception of relation where there is but one object of

contemplation. —Something, therefore, must, from the nature of the case,

be assumed as the antecedent, the basis, or necessary condition of every

such process. ~ 3. Of the name or designation given them. We propose to

call those propositions, which are so elementary as to be susceptible

neither of proof nor of refutation from other propositions of greater

clearness, PRIMARY TRUTHS. Such propositions are termed, in the first

place, TRUTHS, since they are forced upon us, as it were, by our very

constitution. They exist as surely as the mind exists, where they have

their birthplace; they as certainly and as strongly control the

convictions of men, as the demonstrations of geometry; and not of one man

merely, or any particular set of men, but of all mankind; for the few who

pretend to reject them in speculation, constantly retract and deny such

rejection of them in their practice. And yet they are not the deductions

of reasoning, laboriously wrought out by proposition added to proposition;

but rather the natural and necessary revelations and announcements of our

mental nature. With sufficient reason, also, are the propositions in question called PRIMARY because, as would seem to follow

from the very definition of them, they are the propositions into which all

reasoning ultimately resolves itself, and are necessarily involved and

implied in the various investigations of which the mind is capable,

whether they relate to the great subject before us or to others. As has

been intimated, there cannot possibly be a process of reasoning, without

some first principle or admitted truth from which to start. ~ 4. Primary

truth of personal existence. The PRIMARY TRUTH which we are naturally led

to consider first, is that of the reality of our personal existence. The

proposition t/~cat we exist is a sort of corner-stone to everything else;

the foundation of our knowledge; the place and basis from which the

edifice must rise.-Without undertaking to prove this ftmdamental truth, we

nevertheless fully recognise and admit it. In other words, it is a

proposition antecedent to reasoning, but which, notwithstanding, fully and

perfectly secures our belief. If we reason on the subject of personal

existence, there is necessarily implied an I, a personal self, by whom the

process of reasoning is conducted, and which renders all such reasoning

nugatory. If we doubt concerning ourpersonal existence, thlere is the same

implication, since there can be no doubting unless there is some one to

doubt. And, of course, there can be no one to doubt where there is no

personal existence. That we exist, therefore, is a truth of nature, and

not of argumentation. Nothing which comes within the reach of the human

mind is more clearly defined to its perception, more thoroughly

controlling and operative, and more raised above cavils and skepticism,

whether rational or irrational, than this. ~ 5. Occasions of the origin of

the idea or belief of personal existence. It remains, however, a distinct

subject of inquiry, Under what circumstances this elementary belief

arises?-And, in answer to this inquiry, we may say with abundant confidence, if it be not the earliest, it

is at least among the earliest notions which the mind is capable of

forming. A kind Providence has not conceded to a conviction, so essential

to our whole mental history, a dilatory and late appearance. But that same

Providence has given a place as well as a time, an occasion as well as a

period of its formation; and although it may be impossible for us ever to

ascertain that occasion with certainty, we may at least conjecture. We

look, therefore, in our meditations on this topic, at man in the

commencement of his existence. We see him suddenly called forth from a

state where there was neither form, nor knowledge, nor power, endowed with

such capabilities of thought and action, both internal and external, as

his Creator saw fit to give. Thus brought into being, and thus fitted up

for his destined sphere, we will suppose that some external object is for

the first time presented to the senses. The result of this is, that there

is an impression made on the senses; and then at once there is a change in

the mind, a new thought, a new feeling. Although, as already suggested,

there is room for different conjectures here, there is much reason to

believe that this is the true occasion of the origin of the belief in

question. The first internal experience, the earliest thought or feeling,

is immediately followed by the notion of personal or self-existence, as

the subject of this new thought or feeling. And this idea or conviction of

personal existence, which arises at this ~very early period, is

continually suggested and confirmed in the course of the successive

duties, enjoyments, and sufferings of life. Such has commonly been

supposed to be the origin of the belief in question. We may as well

suppose it to come into being in connexion with the first act of the mind,

as with any subsequent act, although with less distinctness and strength

than afterward. But whether this account of the origin of the conviction

of our personal existence be the true one or not, we may still hold to the fact of the belief itself as

something beyond doubt. We may also regard it as necessarily resulting

from our mental constitution, and as wholly inseparable from our being. ~

6. Primary truth of personal identity. The second of those preliminary

truths which we term primary is the proposition of our Personal

Identity.-If the consideration of our personal existence naturally comes

first in the order of time, that of the truth now before us is not

secondary in point of importance. We can not dispense with either without

unsettling the grounds of inquiry and belief, and barring the access to

all knowledge whatever. IDENTITY iS synonymous with sameness. And both

terms, when we consider them as standing for mental states in distinction

from the objects or things which the mental states represent, are the

names of simple states of the mind. Although, therefore, the meaning of

the term Identity is as clear as that of other terms standing for simple

ideas, and everybody is supposed to understand it, it is not susceptible

of definition. The term is applied to various objects, and, among others,

to men.-The word PERSONAL implies Self, and personal identity is,

therefore, the identity of ourselves. But the term self is complex,

embracing both mind and matter, and hence we are led to consider the

distinct notions of mental and bodily identity. I. /MENTAL IDENTITY.-By

this phrase we express the continuance and oneness of the thinking

principle merely. The soul of man is truly a unit. It is not, like matter,

separable into parts. It may bring, from time to time, new

susceptibilities into action; but its essence is unchangeable. That which

constitutes it a thinking and sentient principle, in distinction from that

which is unthinking and insentient, never deserts it, never ceases to

exist, never becomes other than what it originally was. II. ]BODILY

IDENTITY. -By these expressions we mean the sameness of the bodily shape

and organization. This is the only meaning we can attach to them,

since the materials which compose our bodily systems are constantly

changing. The body is not a unit in the same sense the soul is. It was a

saying of Seneca, that no man bathes twice in the same river; and still we

call it the same, although the water within its banks is constantly

passing away. And in like manner we ascribe identity to the human body,

althoughl it is subject to constant changes; meaning by the expressions,

as just remarked, merely the sameness of shape and organization. III.

PERSONAL IDENTITY.-This form of expression is more general, or rather more

complex and comprehensive, than either of those which have been mentioned:

It has reference to both mind and matter, as we find them combined

together in that complex existence which we term man or person. It is

equivalent to what is conveyed by the two phrases of mental identity and

bodily identity. BBut it is evident we cannot easily separate the two when

speaking of men. And accordingly, when it is said that any one is

conscious of, knows, or has a certainty of his personal identity, it is

meant to be asserted that he is conscious of having fornmerly possessed

the powers of an organized, animated, and rational being, and that he

still possesses those powers. He knows that he is a human being now, and

that he was a lhuman being yesterday, or last week, or last year.-There is

no mystery in this. It is so plain, no one is likely to misunderstand it,

although we admit our inability to give a definition of identity. ~ 7.

Reasons for regarding this a primary truth. If personal identity be a

primary truth, it is antecedent to argument, and is independent of

it.-What grounds are there, then, for regarding it as such a In the FIRST

place, the mere fact that it is constantly implied in those conclusions

which we formni in respect to the future from the past, and universally in

our daily actions, is of itself a decisive reason for reckoning it among the original and essential intimations

of the human intellect. On any other hypothesis we are quite unable to

account for that practical recognition of it in the pursuits of men, which

is at once so early, so evident, and so universal. The farmer, for

instance, who looks abroad on his cultivated fields, knows that he is the

same person who, twenty years before, entered the forest with an axe on

his shoulder, and felled the first tree. The aged soldier, who recounts at

his fireside the battles of his youth, never once doubts that he was

himself the witness of those sanguinary scenes which he delights to

relate. It is altogether useless to attempt either to disprove or to

confirm to them a proposition which they believe and know, not from the

testimony of others or from reasoning, but from the interior and

authoritative suggestion of their very nature; and which, it is

sufficiently evident, can never be eradicated from their belief and

knowledge until that nature is changed. A SECOND circumstance in favor of

regarding the notion of personal identity as an admitted or primary truth,

is, that men cannot prove it by argument if they would; and, if they do

not take it for granted, must forever be without it. The propriety of this

remark will appear on examination.-There evidently can be no argument,

properly so called, unless there is a succession of distinct propositions.

From such a succession of propositions, no conclusion can be drawn by any

one, unless he is willing to trust to the evidence of memory. But memory

involves a notion of the time past; and whoever admits that he has the

power of memory, in however small a degree, virtually admits that he has

existed the same at some former period as at present. The considerations

which we have now particularly in view, and which are greatly worthy of

attention in connexion with the principle under examination, mayS with a

little variation of terms, be stated thus. Remembrance, without the

admission of our personal identity, is clearly an impossibility. But there

can be no process of reasoning without memory. This is evident, because

arguments are made up of propositions which are successive to each other,

not only in order, but in point of time. It follows, then, that there can

be no argument whatever, or on any subject, without the admission of our

identity, as a point from which to start. What, then, will it avail to

attem-pt to reason either for or against the views which are here

maintained, since, in every argument which is employed, there is

necessarily an admission of the very thing which is the subject of

inquiry? ~ 8. There are original and authoritative grounds of belief.

Supposing men actually to exist, and to be conscious of the continuance

and sameness of their existence, we are next to enter into the interior of

their constitution, and to inquire after such elements of intelligence and

action as are to be found there. The next proposition, therefore, which is

to be laid down as fundamental and as preliminary to all reasoning is,


BELIEF. Nothing is better known than that there is a certain state of the

mind which is expressed by the term BELIEF. As we find all men acting in

reference to it, it is not necessary to enter into any verbal explanation.

Nor would it be possible by such explanation to increase the clearness of

that notion which every one is already supposed to entertain.-Of this

belief, we take it for granted, and hold it to be in the strictest sense

true, that there are original and authoritative grounds or sources;

meaning by the term ogriginal that these grounds or sources are involved

in the nature of the mind itself, and meaning by the term authoritative

that this belief is not a mere matter of chance or choice, but naturally

and necessarily results from our mental constitution, aid is binding upon

us. Sometimes we can trace the state of the mind which we term belief, to

an affection of the senses, 1C To sometimes to consciousness, sometimes to memory, and at

others to human testimony. In all these cases, however, the explanation

which we attempt to give of the origin of belief, is limited to a

statement of the circumstances in which the belief arises. But the fact

that belief arises under these circumstances, is ultimate, is a primary

law; and, being such, it no more admits of explanation than does the mere

feeling itself. Many writers have clearly seen and defended the necessity

of the assumption which has now been made. Mr. Stewart, among others, has

expressed the opinion (HIST. IDISsER., pt. i., ~ ii.), that there is

involved, in every appeal to the intellectual powers in proof of their own

credibility, the sophism of reasoning in a circle or PETITIO PRINCIPII;

and expressly adds, that, unless this credibility be assumed as

unquestionable, the further exercise of human reasoning is altogether

nugatory. —Not less decisive is the language of Sir James Mackintosh on

this subject (Ethical Philosophy, sect. vi.): "Universal skepticism

involves a contradiction in terms. It is a belief that there can, be no

belief.' It is an attempt of the mind to act without its structure, and by

other laws than those to which its nature has subjected its operations. To

reason without assenting to the principles on which reasoning is founded,

is not unlike an effort to feel without nerves or to move without

muscles.. o macn can, be callowed to be an opponent in reasoning who does

not set out with admitting all the principles, without the admission, of

which it is impossible to reason. It is, indeed, a puerile, nay, in the

eye of wisdom, a childish play, to attempt either to establish or to

confute principles by argument, which every step of that argument must

presuppose. The only difference between the two cases is, that he who

tries to prove them can do so only by first taking them for granted; and

that he who attempts to impugn them falls at the very first step into a

contradiction from which he never can rise."

9. Primary truths having relation to the reasoning

power. Man may be sure of the fact of his existence and of its

p5ermanency; he may be possessed of grounds of belief to a certain extent,

such as have been mentioned; and still we may suppose him incapable of

reasoning. His knowledge would be greatly limited, it is true, without

that noble faculty, but he would know something; his consciousness would

teach him his own existence; his senses convey to himn intimations of

external origin; the testimony of others furnish various facts that had

come within their observation. But, happily, man is not limited to the

scanty knowledge which would come in by these sources alone; he can

compare and combine, as well as perceive and experience; and, by means of

the propositions thus combined and compared together, is enabled to deduce

conclusions. But there is this worthy of notice, that the reasoning power,

although it -exists in man, and is a source of belief and a foundation of

klowledge, is necessarily built upon principles which are either known or

assumed.-This is seen in the most common and ordinary cases of the

exercise of this susceptibility. And it will be found also on examination,

that one assnumption may be resolved into another, and again into another,

until we arrive at certain ultimate truths which are at the foundation of

all reasoning whatever. It is important, therefore, to inquire, what

general assumptions, having particular reference to the reasoning power,

and absolutely essential to its action, are to be made. And these will be

found to be two in number; at least there are two only which are

particularly worthy of notice: one having special relation to the past,

and the other to the future. ~ 10. No beginning or change of existence

without a cause. The one which has a relation to the past, and is the

foundation-of all reasonings, having a reference to any period antecedent

to the present moment, may be stated as follows: thatc there 4s no

begiynin or ctcanye of existence witoutz, a cause.-This principle, like

others which have been mentioned, we may well suppose to be universally

admitted. When ahy new event takes place, men at once inquire the cause;

as if it could not possibly have happened without some effective or

preparative antecedent. And such being the general and unwavering

reception of the principle before us, it would seem to follow clearly that

there are grounds for it in the human constitution. A reliance on any

principle whatever, so firm and general as is here exhibited, is not

likely to be accidental. And when we inquire what these grounds are, we

shall not fail to come to the conclu*sion, that the proposition in

question is supported by an original intimation or feeling which is

utterly inseparable from our mental nature, and which is made known to us

by consciousness alone.-Although the feeling of belief, which is implied

in the proposition that there is no beginning or change of existence

without a cause, is an original one, directly resulting from our nature,

still it is in our power to give some account of the circumstances in

which it arises. ~ 11. Occasions of the origin of the primary truth of

effects and causes. The mind embraces the elementary truth which we are

considering at a very early period. Looking round upon nature, which we

are led to do more or less from the commencement of our being, we find

everything in motion. Things which had no existence are raised into life;

and new forms are imparted to what existed before. The human mind, which

is essentially active and curious, constantly contemplates the various

phenomena which come under its notice; observing not only the events and

appearances themselves, but their order in point-of time, their

succession. And it is led in this way to form the belief (not by

deduction, but from its own active nature), that every new existence and

every change of existence are preceded by something, without which they

could not have happened. Undoubtedly the belief, as in many other cases, is

comparatively weak at first, but it rapidly acquires unalterable growth

and strength; so much so that the mind applies it without hesitation to

every act, to every event, and to every finite being. And thus a

foundation is laid for numberless conclusions having a relation to

whatever has happened in time past. It is true that the verbal

proposition, by which our belief in this case is expressed, is not always,

nor even generally, brought forward and stated in our reasonings on the

past, but it is always implied. This primary truth is an exceedingly

important one. By its aid the human mind retains a control over the ages

that are gone, and subordinates them to its own purposes. It is

susceptible, in particular, of a moral and religious application. Let this

great principle be given us, and we are able to track the succession of

sequences upward, advancing from one step to another, until we find all

things meeting together in one self-existent and unchangeable head and

fountain of being. But there it stops. The principle will not apply to

God, since HIe differs from everything else which is the object of

thought, in being an existence equally without change and without

beginning. ~ 12. Matter and mind have uniform and fixed laws. It is

necessary to assume also, particularly in connexion with the reasoning

power, that matter and mind have uniform and permanent laws. This

assumption, as well as the preceding, is accordant with the common belief

of mankind. All men believe that the setting sun will rise again at the

appointed hour, that the decaying plants of autumn will revive in spring,

that the tides of ocean will continue to heave as in times past, and the

streams and rivers to flow in their courses. If they doubted, they would

not live and act as they are now seen to do. This belief in the uniformity

and permanency of the laws of nature does not arise at once; but has its

birth at first in, some particular instance, then in others, till it becomes of universal application. In the

first instance, the feeling in question, which we express in various ways

by the terms anticipation, faith, expectation, belief, and the like, is

weak and vacillating; but it gradually acquires strength and distinctness.

And yet this feeling, so important in its applications, is the pure work

of nature; it is not taught men, in the strict sense of that term, but is

produced within them; the necessary and infallible product and growth of

our mental being; a sort of inalienable gift of the Almighty to every man,

woman, and child; arising in the soul with as much certainty and as little

mystery as the notions, expressed by the words power, duration, right,

wrong, truth, or other elementary states of the mind. It is true, it is an

expectation or belief, directed to a particular object, and, therefore, is

not easily susceptible of being expressed by a single term, as in the case

of the ideas just referred to; but the circumstance of its being expressed

by a circumlocution does not render the feeling less distinct or real than

others. — As, therefore, the strong faith, which men entertain in the

continuance of the laws of creation, is the natural and decisive offspring

of that mental constitution which God has given us, there is good ground

for assuming the truth of that to which this faith relates, and to regard

it as a principle in'future inquiries, that matter and mind are governed

by uniform laws. ~ 13. This primary truth not founded on reasoning. B]ut

perhaps it is objected, that we can arrive at the great truth under

consideration without assuming it as something ultimate, as something

resulting from our constitution; and that nothing more is wanting in order

to arrive at it than a train of reasoning. -The sun, it is said, rose

to-day, therefore he will rise tomorrow: Food nourished me to-day,

therefore it will do the same to-morrow: The fire burned me once,

therefore it will again. But it demands no uncommon sagacity to perceive that something is here wanting, and that a link in the

chain of thought must be supplied in order to make it cohere. The mere

naked fact that the sun rose today, without anything else being connected

with it, affords not the least ground for the inference that it will rise

again; and the same may be said of all sinilar instances. lNow the link

which is wanting in order to bind together the beginning and the end in

such arguments as have been referred to, is the precise assulmption which

has been made, and which is held to be as reasonable as it is necessary,

because it is founded on an acknowledged, universal, and elementary

feeling of our nature. And we may here affirm with perfect confidence,

that, without makling this assumption, the power of reasoning cannot

deduce a single general inference, cannot arrive at so mLich as one

general conclusion, either in matter or mind, which has relation to the

future. But the moment we make the assumption, a vast foundation of

knowledge is laid. Grant that nature is uniform in her laws; then give us

the fact that food nourished us to-day, or that the sun rose to-day, or

any other fact of the kind, and it follows, with readiness and certainty,

that what has once been will be again.-So that we ml-ust regard the

principle of the permanency and uniformity of the laws of nature as

something antecedent to reasoning, and not subsequent to it; a principle

authorized and sustained by an ultimate, and not by any secondary action

of the mind. This subject will be better understood in connexion with the

chapter on the Intuitional or Suggestional Power, and with what will be

said in a future chapter on the subject of Assumptions in Reasoning.



On the meaning of the terms material and immaterial. ANOTHER Of those topics

which may be deemed introductory and auxiliary to the main subject, is the

question of the materiality or immateriality of the soul. In entering upon

this inquiry, which is obviously too important to be altogether dispensed

with, it will be necessary, in the first place, to explain the meaning of

the leading terms. The words MATERIAL and IMMATERIAL are relative, being

founded on the observation of the presence or of the absence of certain

qualities.-Why do we call a piece of wood, or of iron, material. It is

because we notice in them certain qualities, such as extension,

divisibility, impenetrability, and colour. And, in whatever other bodies

we observe the presence of these qualities, we there apply the term. The

term IMMATERIAL, therefore, by the established use of the language and its

own nature, it being in its etymology the opposite of the other, can be

applied only in those cases where these qualities are not found. Hence we

assert the mind to be immaterial, because, in all our knowledge of it, we

have noticed an utter absence (or, perhaps, more properly, have always

failed to detect the presence) of those qualities which are acknowledged

to be the ground of the application of the opposite epithet. The soul

undoubtedly has its qualities or properties, but not those which have been

spoken of. Whatever we have been conscious of, and have observed within

us, our thought, our feeling, remembrance, and passion, are evidently and

utterly diverse from what is understood to. be included under the term

materiality. Such is the origin of these two terms, and the ground of the distinction between them. And,

thus explained, they can hardly fail to be understood. We may, therefore,

now proceed to state the evidence of the actual existence of that

distinction between mind and matter which is obviously implied in every

application of them. In other words, we are to attempt to show that the

soul is not matter, and that thought and feeling are not the result of

material organization. ~ 15. Differerice between mind and matter shown

from language. Is it a fact that the being or existence called the SOUL is

distinct and different from that existence which we call MATTER?,-It is

not unusual, in writings on the philosophy of the mind, to refer to the

structure of languages in order to illustrate our mental nature; and, in

respect to the question now before us, we are warranted in saying, in the

first place, that Language, in general, is one proof of such distinction.

In the preceding section we have seen the use of certain terms in our own

language, and the grounds of it. All other languages, as well as our own,

have names and epithets distinctly expressive of the two existences in

question. This circumstance, when we consider that the dialects of men are

only their thoughts and feelings imbodied, as it were, may be regarded as

a decisive proof that the great body of mankind believe in both, and, of

course, believe in a' well-founded distinction between them. That such is

the belief of men generally, as clearly evinced by the structure of

languages and in various other ways, will not, probably, be denied. It is

a matter too evident to permit us to anticipate a denial. When, therefore,

we take into view that there are grounds of belief fixed deeply and

originally in our constitution, and that, in their general operation, they

must be expected to lead to truth and not to error, we are runable to

harbour the supposition, that men are deceived and led astray in this

opinion; that they so generally and almost universally believe in the

existence of wlat, in point of fact, does not exist.

16. Their different nature shown by their respective

properties. Again, the distinction between mind and matter is shown by the

difference in the qualities and properties which men agree in ascribing to

them respectively.-The properties of matter are extension, hardness,

figure, solidity, divisibility, and the like. The attributes of mind are

thought, feeling, volition, reasoning, the passions. The phenomena

exhibited by matter and mind are not only different in their own nature,

but are addressed, considered as objects of perception, to different parts

of our constitution. We obtain a knowledge of material properties, so far

as it is direct and immediate, by means of the senses; but all our direct

knowledge of the nature of the mental phenomena is acquired by

consciousness. Every one knows that the phenomena in question are not

identical. There is no sameness or similitude, for instance, in what we

express by the terms hardness and desire, solidity and hatred,

divisibility and belief, extension and imagination. But let us look more

at particulars. All matter is divisible. The smallest particle has its top

and bottom, its right and left side, and may be regarded as susceptible of

measurement. But what does consciousness testify in regard to the mental

phenomena? Does it give us the least intimation that they are mechanically

divisible2 Is any man ever conscious of a half, quarter, or third of a

hope, joy, or sorrow, actually cut asunder and set off from the remaining

half, two thirds, or three quarters of such hope, joy, or sorrow? It is

not only true that no one has had such experience, but no one ever

conceives such experience possible. And as to extension, are we ever

conscious of a thought, feeling, or volition as having length and breadth;

as being, for instance, an inch in length and half an inch in breadth?

There is'nothing of the kind. Consciousness never gave, and it is not too

much to say that it never will give, any such information. The properties

or attributes of matter and mind, therefore, are entirely different. And

as all persons hold it to be nnphilosophical to ascribe attributes so different to the same

subject, we conclude the subjects of them are not the same. And

accordingly, we call the subject of one class of phenomena Mind, and, that

of the other Matter. ~ 17. The soul's immateriality indicated by the

feeling of identity. There is another somewhat striking consideration

which may aid in evincing the immateriality of the soul. It is well known

that the materials of which the human body is composed are constantly

changing. The whole bodily system repeatedly undergoes, in thle course of

the ordinary term of man's life, a complete renovation; and yet we

possess, during the whole of this period, and amid these utter changes of

the bodily part, a consciousness of the permanency as well as of the unity

of the mlind. "This fact," remarks Mr. Stewart, "is surely not a little

favourable to the supposition of mind being a principle essentially

distinct from matter, and capable of existing when its connexion with the

body is dissolved." Truly, if the soul, like the body, were made up of

particles of matter, and the particles were in this case, as in the other,

always changing, we should be continually roving, as an old writer

expresses it, and sliding away from ourselves, and should soon forget what

we once were. The new soul, that entered into the same place, would not

necessarily enter into the possession of the feelings, consciousness, and

knowledge of that which had gone. And hence we rightly infer, from an

identity in these respects, the identity or continued existence of the

subject to which such feelings, consciousness, and knowledge belong. And

as there is not a like identity or continued existence of the material

part, we may infer, again, that the soul is distinct from matter. ~ 18.

The material doctrine makes man a machine. The doctrine that thought is

the result of material organization, and that the soul is not distinct

from the body, is liable, also, to this no small objection: that it makes the soul truly and literally a machine. If what we

term mind be in truth matter, it is, of course, under the same influences

as matter. But matter, in all its movements and combinations, is known to

be subject to a strict and inflexible direction, the origin of which

direction is exterior to itself. The material universe is truly an

automaton, experiencing through all time the same series of motions, in

obedience to some high and authoritative intelligence; and is so entirely

subject to fixed laws, that we can express in mathematical formulas not

only the state of large bodies, but of a drop of water or of a ray of

light; estimating minutely extension and quantity, force, velocity, and

resistance. It is not thus with the hmman mind. That the mind has its laws

is true; but it knows what those laws are; whereas matter does not. This

makes a great difference. Matter yields a blind and unconscious obedience;

but the mind is able to exercise a foresight; to place itself in new

situations; to subject itself to new influences; to surround itself with

new motives, and thus control, in a measure, its own laws. In a word, mind

is free; we have the best evidence of it, that of our own consciousness.

But matter, as we learn from all our observations of it, may justly be

characterized as a slave. It does not turn to the right or left; it does

not do this or that, as it chooses; it possesses no self-determining and

self-moving element; but, the subject of an overpowering allotment, it is

borne onward to the appointed mark by an inflexible destiny.-If these

views be correct, we see here a new reason for not confounding and

identifying these two existences. ~ 19. Nlo exact correspondence between

the mental and bodily state. The train of thought in the last section

naturally leads us to remark further, that there is an absence of that

precise correspondence between the mental and bodily state which would

evidently follow from the admission of materialism. Those who make thought

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IMMATERIIALITY OF THE MIND. 37 and feeling the result of material

organization, commonly locate that organization in the brain. It is there

the great. mental exercises, in the phraseology of materialists, are

secreted, or are developed, or are brought out in some other mysterious

way, by means of a purely physical combination and action. Hence, such is

the fixed and unalterable nature of matter and its results, if the brain

be destroyed, the soul must be destroyed also; if the brain be injured,

the soul is proportionally injured; if the material action be disturbed,

there must be an exactly corresponding disturbance of the mental action.

The state of the mind, on a fair interpretation of this doctrine, is not

less dependent on that of the body than the complicated motions of the

planetary system are on the law of gravitation. But this view, whether we

assign the residence of the soul to the brain or to any other part of the

bodily system, does not appear to be accordant with fact. It is not only

far from being approved and borne out, but it is, directly contradicted by

wellattested experience in a multitude of cases. ~ 20. Evidence of this

want of exact correspondence. WVo are desirous not to be misapprehended

here. We readily grant that the mind, in our present state of existence,

has a connexion with the physical system, and particularly with the brain.

It is, moreover, obviously a natural consequence of this, that, when the

body is injured, the mental power and action are in some degree affected;

and this we find to be agreeable to the facts that come within our

observation. But it is to be particularly noticed, that the results are

just such as might be expected from a mere connexion of being; and are

evidently not such as might be anticipated from an identity of being. In

the latter case, the material part could never be affected, whether for

good or evil, without a result precisely corresponding in the mind. But,

in point of fact, this is not the case. The body is not unfrequently

injured when the mind is not so; and, on the

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38 I1NTRODUCTION. other hand, the soul seems to be almost entirely

prostrated when the body is in a sound and active state. How many persons

have been mutilated in battle, in every possible way short of an utter

destruction of animal life, and yet have discovered at such times a more

than common greatness of mental power! How often, when the body is not

only partially weakened, but is resolving, at the hour of death, into its

original elements, and possesses not a single capability entire, the mind,

remaining in undiminished strength, puts forth the energy and beauty of

past days! We are now speaking of injuries to our corporeal part, and of

bodily debility in general; but if we look to the brain in particular,

which is more intimately connected with the mental action than any other

part of the bodily system, we shall find ourselves fully warranted in an

extension of these views there. According to the system of the

materialists, the soul does not merely exist and act in connexion with the

body, but is identical with it. And not only this, they go further, and

locate this identity in the brain, ialking the soul and the brain not

merely connected together, but identically the same thing. But the

objection to their views, which, in its general form, has already been

made, exists here in full strength. If that organization, which they hold

to result in thought and feeling, be identical with the brain, it must be

diffused through the whole of that organ, or limited to some particular

part. But it appears, from an extensive collection of well-a-uthenticated

facts, that every part of the brain has been injured, and almost every

part absolutely removed, but without permanently affecting the mental

powers, which is absolutely impossible if there be an identity of the two

things. " Every part of that structure," says Dr. Ferriar, in a' learned

Memoir, "has been deeply injured or totally destroyed, without impeding or

changing any part of the process of thought." He remarks again, after

bringing forward a considerable number of wellauthenticated facts, as

follows: "On reviewing the

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IMMATERIALITY OF THE MIND. 39 whole of this evidence, I am disposed to

conclude, that, as no part of the brain appears essentially necessary to

the existence of the intellectual faculties, and as the whole of its

visible structure has been materially changed without affecting the

exercise of those faculties, something more than the discernible

organization must be requisite to produce the phenomena of tlhinkilng.'" ~

21. Comparative state of the mind and body il dreaming. The views of the

two preceding sections receive some confirmation from the comparative

state of the mind and body in dreaming.-In sound sleep, the senses sink

into a state of utter and unconscious sluggishness; the inlet to

everything external, as far as we can judge, is shut up; the muscles

become powerless, and everything in the body has the appearance of death.

It is true, the soul appears, for tilhe most part, to be fallen into a

like state of imbecility; but this is not the case in its dreams, which

are known-to take up no small portion of the hours of sleep. At such times

it does not appear to stand in need of the same repose with the body;

otherwise it would seek and possess it. On the contrary, when the powers

of the body are utterly suspended, the soul is often exceedingly on the

alert; it rapidly passes from subject to subject, attended sometimes with

sad and sometimes with raised and joyful affections. But this is not all:

often, in the hours of sleep, the intellect exhibits an increased

invention, a quickened and more exalted energy in all its powers. Many

writers have remarked, that the conclusions of abstruse investigations

have been suggested to them at such times. Not a few would conclude

themselves persons of genius, if they could pronounce the arguments and

the harangues in the awakened soberness of the morning, which they had

framed in the visions of the night. Does not this state of things seem to

indicate that there is a natural and fundamental clis* Memoirs of the

Manchester Philos. Society, vol. iv.

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40 INTRODUCTION. tinction between the mental and the material part of

mail? ~ 22. The great works of genius an evidence of immateriality. Now

let ns look at what mind, in man's awakened moments, is able to

accomplish, and see if the results of its action, in its higher and nobler

exercises, are such as we commonly expect from or ascribe to matter.-Look

first at the kindred powers of memory and imagination. I am at this moment

sitting in my chair, with a book and paper before me, and a pen in my

hand. But my memory is aroused, my imagination takes wing, and my soul

suddenly finds itself (at least considered in reference to its operations)

in a far-distant place. I see distinctly before me the trees which shaded

me, and the hills where I wandered in my childhood. The same waters flow

before me, the same bright smu shines in the heavens; I see around me a

multitude of familiar faces, and embrace, with all the vividness of early

affections, my old companions. In this excursion of the soul, how many

recollections have been revived! HIow many feelings have been restored!

What pictures of natural and social beauty have been presented to the

intellectual sight! But do we commonly, or can we, with any show of

reason, ascribe this wonderful power, wlich transfers us in a moment to

the distant and the past, to a mere mass of matter? I think not. Look,

again, at the powers of judgment and reasoning, and of imagination in its

greater and more permanent efforts. In doing this, we are to keep in mind

that those thlings which cannot be known directly and in their own

essence, are known for the most part simply by their results. And in

accordance with this view, which leads us to look from results to causes,

I ask myself, What was it that originated and perfected the demonstrations

of Euclid? Where was the authorship of the political institutions of Solon

and Lycurgus, of modern England and France, and of that still greater

effort of political wisdom, the Amnerican

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IMMATERIALITY OF THE MIND. 41 Constitution? What was it that infused the

breath of immortality into the Iliad and Odyssey? What was it that gave

birth to the wonderful inventions and combinations of the Jerusalem

Delivered, the Fairy Queen, and the Paradise Lost? Where shall we look for

the origin of the Philippics of the Ancients, or, in later times, of the

speeches of Fox and of the orations of Bossuet? In these, and in all other

cases where human genius has achieved its higher triumphs, we submit it to

any one to say, whether manldkind generally would be likely to ascribe

their origin to a mere lump of matter When men cast their eyes upon a

piece of matter, they look simply for material herbage and flower, leaves

and fruit; for something which is addressed, and addressed exclusively, to

the taste and touch, the sight and smell; and not for political axioms and

mathematical demonstrations, for flights of fancy and flashes of

eloquence. We venture to assert, that the man who gives himself up to the

influence of the vast conceptions imbodied in the works and institutions

of human genius, will find it as difficult to attribute them to a purely

material cause, as it is to adopt the theory of the atheist, and ascribe

the beautiful and complicated machinery of the universe to a fortuitous

concurrence of atoms. ~ 23. The doctrine of materiality inconsistent with

future existence. With the subject of the immaterial nature of the soul,

that of its immortality is closely connected. It is ttue, the immortal

existence of the soul does not follow with absolute certainty from the

mere fact of its immateriality; but it is, at least, rendered in some

degree probable. Certainly we have no direct evidence of the

discontinuance of the soul's existence at death as we have of that of the

body. What takes place at death is only a removal of the soul's action

from our notice, but not, as far as we know, a cessation and utter

extinction of it. The supposition, therefore, is a reasonable one, that

the soul will continue

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42 INTRODUCTION. to exist, merely because it exists at present, inasmuch

as its immaterial nature does not require the suspension of its existence

at death, and as we have no direct evidence of such an event.-Death, in

the language of Mir. Stewart, onlylifts up the veil which conceals from

our eyes the invisible world. It annihilates the material universe to our

senses, and prepares our minds for some new and unknown state of beirig.

But the opposite doctrine, that which asserts the materiality of the soul,

so far from furnishing a presumption in favor of our future existence,

seems to render immortality impossible. Those, who hold that thought and

feeling are in some way the direct and positive result of material

organization, are understood to admit that the soul (or, rather, what they

speak of as the soul) dies with the body; and certainly they would be very

inconsistent with themselves if they did not do so. Where, then, is that

immortality, of which the light of nature as well as Revelation assures us

2We are aware of what the materialist will say here. We understand him to

assert that a new soul will be created after deatlh, either at the final

resurrection or at some antecedent period, which will take the place in

all respects of the old one which perished with the body. But there is an

insuperable difficulty here. It is inconceivable (we assert it with entire

confidence) that a soul, created subsequently in time, should be conscious

of, or, rather, should recognise, mental operations and affections as its

own, which operations and affections pertained, in point of fact, to

another soul. Such a case would constitute an originctionz rather than a

continuance of existence; it would not be our immortality, but that of

another; the chain connecting the present with the future would be broken;

and we, w.ho are destined, on the system of materialism, to perish with

the body, could not by any possibility participate in that future

existence which is raised up to take the place. of the present. Would

there be any propriety or justice in bringing such new-created soul before

the judgment-seat of the Supreme Being in

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IMMATERIALITY OF THE MIND. 43 reference to crimes or to virtues which in

fact pertained to another soul! It is evident, since such a soul could not

be conscious of or recognise a previous existence, simply because such

existence had never taken place, it would not be a suitable object of

praise and blame, reward and punishment, in reference to deeds done in the

present life. So that it seems to be an inevitable conclusion, that the

souls which are destined to come under the Divine adjudication, in other

words whlich are made amenable to God's eternal law, which in its

principles is the same in the hflture life as the present, must

remainpernmanent, whatever may become of the body, until the fullness of

the final sentence shall be passed upon them. But if the soul is material

and dies with the body, then it is not permanent, and cannot be so. The

immateriality of the soul, therefore, on the supposition of the body's

being dissolved and destroyed at death, becomes the basis of its

immortality. If the doctrine of immateriality falls, then that of

immortality and of a future retribution falls with it. —All arguments,

therefore, which go to sustain the soul's immortality and its liability to

future judgment, indirectly support the doctrine of its immateriality. We

add nothing further, excepting the single remark, that the distinction

between the body and soul is either implied or asserted in various

passages of the Scriptures; as, for instance, when we are directed "not to

fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."

CIHAPTER III. LAWVS OF BELIEF. ~ 24. Of belief, its degrees, and its

sources. MAN is so constituted that, under certain circumstances, he

naturally and necessarily believes, and has knowledge. As that state of

mind which we term BELIEF is simple, and, consequently, undefinable, we

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44 INTRODUCTION. have therefore a knowledge of it, not by verbal

definition, but wholly by our own internal reflection or consciousness.

Belief is always the same in kind or nature; but it admits of different

degrees. We ascertain the existence of these differences of strength,

which we express by various terms, such as presumption, probability, high

probability, and certainty, by means of that same internal consciousness

which assures us of the existence of the mere feeling itself. In the

chapter on Primary Truths, we had occasion to assert it as an indisputable

principle, that there are in inwen certain, originacl and authoritative

grounds of belief: This is an important doctrine in mental philosophy, and

one which is always to be kept in mind. It is perhaps proper, before we

proceed further, to state some of those original principles by which our

belief is thus naturally controlled. ~ 25. Of intuition, consciousness,

and the senses, as grounds of belief. The most marked and prominent of

those grounds or laws of belief, which are understood to be original and

ultimate in the mental constitution, are Suggestion or Intuition,

Consciousness, the Senses, Memory, Testimony, Relative Suggestion, and

Reasoning. I.-SUGGESTION or INTUITION. By means of this cognitive power we

have a knowledge of certain elementary notions, such as the abstract

conceptions of existence, mind, self-existence or self, personal identity,

succession, duration, space, unity, number, power, right, wrong, and some

others. All men possess these notions, all understand them; but if they

are asked in what way they come to a knowledge of them, they can only say

that, in virtue of the constitution of the mind itself, they are naturally

and necessarily suggested.-The mind is so constituted, that they naturally

and necessarily flow forth from it, and thus furnish the foundations of

belief and knowledge. II.-CoNscIoUSNssEs. By means of that internal

reflection which is denominated consciousness, we have a knowledge of our

mental states, of the various

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LAWS OF BELIEF. 45 perceptions, affections, and decisions of the mind. In

regard to all such objects of knowledge, we are obliged to rest,

ultimately, upon consciousness. The belief from this source is in the

highest degree authoritative and decisive. It is impossible for ns to

disbelieve that the mind experiences certain sensations, or puts forth

certain operations, whenever, in point of fact, that is the case; or to

believe them to be otherwise than they in fact are. III. -TiE SENSES. The

states of mind to which operations upon or affections of our senses give

rise, are also, by our very constitution, the occasions or grounds of

belief. By means of the senses, we have a knowledge, in particular, of the

external, material world; of trees, and fields, and waters; of the sounds

of the elements and the music of birds; of the sun, and moon, and stars,

and all the various and beautiful forms of the tangible and visible

creation. Men, prompted by the suggestions of their own mental nature,

universally rely upon the senses in respect to everything which comes

within their appropriate sphere. When one man states to another a report

of what has happened at some time, the hearer yields to him a greater or

less degree of credence, according to the circumstances. But if the

narrator asserts that he saw or heard it with his own eyes or ears, that

the affair actually camne under the cognizance of his own senses,

everybody deems such a statement satisfactory.: What better evidence, they

say, than that of his senses! ~ 26. Memory and Testimony considered as

sources of belief. IV.-Another original ground or law of belief is the

Memory. So far as we are confident, or, rather, have no particular reason

to doubt, that the original sensations and perceptions in any given case

are correctly reported in the remembrance, the latter controls our belief

and actions not less than those antecedent states of mind on which it is

founded. " The eviden6e of memory," says Dr. Beattie, " commands

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46 ILNTRODUCTION. our belief as effectually as the evidence of sense. I

cannot possibly doubt, with regard to any of my transactions of yesterday

which I now remember, whether I performed them or not. That I dined

to-day, and was in bed last night, is as certain to me as that I at

present see the colour of this paper. If we had no memory, knowledge and

experience would be impossible; and if we had any tendency to distrust our

memory, knowledge and experience would be of as little use in directing

our conduct and sentiments as our dreams now are. Sometimes we doubt

whether, in a particular case, we exert memory or imagination; and our

belief is suspended accordingly: but no sooner do we become conscious that

we eenegnbee, than conviction instantly takes place; we say, I am certain

it was so, for I now remember I was an eye-witness."* There remains,

however, another inquiry: What is the origin of this confident reliance?

And the reply here is, as in many other cases, It is our nature, our

mental constitution; the will and ordinance of the Being who created us.

Whatever may be said on the subject, there must be, and there are, certain

original grounds, certain fundamental laws of belief, wlhich, in every

analysis of our knowledge, are fixed and permanent boundaries, beyond

which we cannot proceed. And reliance on memory is one of them. V. —HUAN

TESTIMONY. By this is commonly meant the report of men concerning what has

fallen under their personal observation. And this forms another ground of

belief. As to the fact that men readily receive the testimony of their

fellow-beings, and that such testimony influences their belief and

conduct, it cannot be denied. They thus universally yield credence to the

statements of each other, unless something comes to their knowledge

unfavourable to the credibility of the narrator, because it is natural or

constitutional to do so. In other words, the very nature of our mental

constitution, independently of the suggestions of reason and experience,

leads us to be* Beattie's Essay on Truth, pt. i., ch. ii., ~ 4,

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LAWS OF BELIEF. 47 lieve what men assert. We are so constituted, that the

very first sound of the human voice which reaches us calls into action a

disposition on our part to admit the truth of whatever intelligence it

conveys.-In support of this view (which, it may be remarked, has in its

favour the weighty names of Reid and Campbell among others), reference may

properly be made to what we observe in children. In the earliest period of

life, as soon as the first gleams of intelligence are visible, they look

with hope and fondness to those who support them; there seems to be no

doubt, no suspicion, no want of confidence. This strong reliance discovers

itself from time to time, as they advance towards youth; and, in the whole

of the early part of our existence, is so distinct, strong, and operative,

that men have given to it a specific name, in order to distinguish it from

the more chastened credence of riper years. We speak of the caution and

the convictions of manhood, and of the simplicity and CREDULITY of

children. ~ 27. Objection to reliance on testimony. It may be objected to

the doctrine of reliance on human testimony, that we are liable to be led

into mistakes by the statements of our fellow-men. This objection merits

some attention; and the answer to it may be summed up in two

particulars.-FIRST. The proportion of cases of deception, compared with

those where we are not deceived, is very small. We admit that we may be

disappointed and deceived sometimes, but not often, in comparison with the

whole number of cases where we place reliance. Men are naturally disposed

to speak the truth; it is much easier than to speak what is not true, for

truth is at hand; but the practice of prevarication and misstatement

requires labour and invention —besides jarring violently upon every

honourable sentiment within us. So capable is this view of being

sustained, that even those men who have brought upon themselves the infamy

of being considered liars, probably utter the truth a hundred

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48 INTRODUCTION. times where they utter a falsehood once.-SEcoND.

Admitting that we are liable to be led astray by means of testimony, still

it is in our power, and is our duty, to take suitable precautions against

this liability.We are by no means required to place implicit confidence in

it, without a regard to the circumstances under which it is given, and the

character and opportunities of the person who gives it. Every one knows

that there are in himself tendencies and principles which, in certain

circumstances, may be brought in conflict with the more ennobling

principle of truth; and that he is liable to error, even when he supposes

himself to be seeking the truth, from the mere want of labour and care.

And we may make use of this experience in judging of the testimony of

others, since we may reasonably suspect in them the existence of similar

tendencies and similar want of circumspection. It is therefore consistent

with any suitable degree of reliance on testimony to satisfy ourselves

whether the person who testifies possessed ample means of information;

whether he made use of those means; and whether, in giving testimony, he

may not be under the influence of interest or passion. ~ 28. Of judgment

or relative suggestion as a ground of belief. VI.-Another ground or law of

belief, of such a nature as to be entitled to a distinct consideration, is

RELATIVE SUGGESTION. By this phrase is expressed the power or

susceptibility, by means of which we perceive the relations of objects. It

is also called the JUDGMENT. What RELATIONS themselves are, it is

unnecessary to attempt to define; no mere form of words can render the

conception of them clearer to any person's comprehension than it is

already supposed to be. All that needs be asserted is the mere fact, that,

when the mind contelmplates two or more objects, we naturally put forth

other perceptions or feelings; we cannot avoid doing it. For instance, we

feel or p1erceive such objects to be the same or different, like or

unlike, equal or unequal, cause or effect, whole or part, attribute or

subject, &c.

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LAWS OF BELIEF. 49 These new feelings, as well as the direct perceptions

of the objects to which they relate, are occasions of belief. We not only

believe the existence of the feelings or mental states themselves, but

find ourselves unable to resist and exclude -the belief of the actual

existence and truth of that to which they correspond, viz., relations. The

relations of things, it is true, are not objects directly addressed to the

external senses; and as we cannot directly see them, nor hear them, nor

feel them, they seem comparatively obscure. And yet we are so constituted,

that the cognizance of them is utterly inseparable from a knowledge of

those objects in respect to which they exist. If they are'not perceivable

by the outward senses, they are nevertheless perceivable by the mind, and

are undoubtedly, in some important sense, real subjects of contemplation

and knowledge.-Accordingly, RELATIVE SUGGESTION, the name of the

susceptibility by means of which we become acquainted with relations, is

properly regarded a LAWV OF BELIEF. ~ 29. Of reasoning as a ground or law

of belief. VII.-All REASONING, both Moral and Demonstrative, and in

whatever form it exists, is also an original foundation of belief.

Relative suggestion and reasoning, or in other words judgment and

ratiocination, are closely connected together, since every train of

reasoning implies and involves a series of felt or perceived relations.

Perceptions of relation may be regarded as the links which bind together

such separate perceptions, facts, or truths, as come within the range of

the subject reasoned upon, and without which they would inevitably remain

in their original state of insulated and unavailable propositions. Truth

is added to truth, feeling arises successive to feeling, until we arrive

at the conclusion which invariably fixes our belief. When, however, we

assert, that the conclusions deduced from a process of reasoning

invariably influence our belief, we should particularly keep in mind I.-C

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50 INTRODUCTION. here that belief may exist in very various degrees. When

the successive feelings which we have in a train of reasoning are all

intuitive, and the propositions with which we commenced were certain, or

were assumed as such, belief is, of course, of the highest kind. And this

is always the case in demonstrations; for there we always begin with

either known or assumed truths; and as the propositions compared together

are entirely abstract, there seems to be no room for doubt or mistake. But

in moral reasoning, although the mental process is the same, the

conclusion is not necessarily true; the propositions contemplated are in

general of a different character fromnwhat we find in demonstrative

reasoning; and the conclusion will vary from mere presumption to absolute

certainty, according to the nature of the facts laid before the mind. But

is it a fact, that Reasoning necessarily controls our convictions in any

case? What evidence is there that our belief, in a greater or less degree,

is naturally dependent on its conclusions -If we can suppose such a

question to be seriously put, a prompt and satisfactory answer is to be

found in the general and in individual experience. No man has it in his

power to refuse obedience to; the decisions of reasoning; nor does he ever

do it, except from an inability to embrace at once, and to balance the

successive steps of the process. So far as he fully tmderstands the

elementary parts which enter into a just train of reasoning, and can

estimate the relative bearing of one part on another, just so far his

belief is naturally and necessarily affected. It will naturally suggest

itself, that the statements of this chapter are merely preparatory, and

are not by any means to be accepted as full and exhaustive statements of

the great cognitive powers and sources of knowledge, which are thus

briefly and imperfectly described. They will be more fully considered when

coming up again for examination in their appropriate place.

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mind may be regarded in a threefold point of view. IT is undoubtedly true,

that the human soul is to be regarded as constituting a nature which is

one and indivisible; but still there is abundant reason for asserting that

its nature can never be fully understood by contemplating it solely and

exclusively under one aspect. There are, accordingly, three prominent and

well-defined points of view in which the mind may be contemplated, viz.,

the Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will; otherwise expressed by the


the mind. W~hatever truly and appropriately belongs to the intellect, has

something peculiar and characteristic of it which shuts it out from the

domain of the sensibilities; and whatever has the nature of a volition,

has a position apart both from the intellectual and the sentient. This is

a fundamental arrangement, which, when properly and fully carried out and

applied, includes the whole soul. To the one or the other of these general

heads, everything involved in our mental existence may be referred. In

fully exhausting, therefore, these topics, we may justly count upon having

completed the exploration of the mental constitution. ~ 31. Evidence of

the general arrangement from conscionsness. The general arrangement which

has been spoken of, ViZ., into the INTELLECTUAL, SENTIMENTIVE, and

voLITIONAL states of the mind, appears to be susceptible of abundant

illustration and proof. It is not our intention, however, to enter into

the discussion of its correctness at much length; but merely to indicate,

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52 INTRODUCTION. as briefly as possible, some of the grounds on which it

has been made; premising, at the same time, that the whole of this work,

while it is based in a good degree on this fundamental division, will be

found to furnish incidental evidence throughout of its truth. In proof of

the propriety of the general arrangement in question, we may refer, in the

first place, to Consciousness. In doing this we are, of course, obliged to

presume that the reader nnderstands what is meant by the term

consciousness; and that he assents to the truth, so readily and generally

acknowledged, that we have much of our knowledge of the mind by its aid.

Mental philosophers assure us that we are enabled, by means of

consciousness, to ascertain what thought and feeling are in themselves,

and to distinguish them from each other, And if we are not willing to

depend upon the information thus given us, if we reject its authority in

the hopes of finding something more certain, we shall only be involved in

greater difficulty; in the language of Condillac on this very subject, "

we stray from a point which we apprehend so clearly that it can never lead

us into error."'-' But if it be true that the existence and distinctive

character of the mental acts are made known, in a good degree at least, by

consciousness, and that we may justly and confidently rely on its

testimony, we naturally inquire, What does it teach in the p!resent case.

Aind, in answering this question, we may safely appeal to any person's

recollections, and ask, Whether he has ever been in danger of confounding

a mere perception, a mere thought, either with desires and emotions on the

one hand, or with volitions on the other a Does not his consciousness

assure him that the mental states, which we thus distinguish by these

different terms, are not identical; that the one class is not the other;

that they as actually differ from each other as association does from

belief, or imagination from memory? -It may be objected, however, that we

find ourselves perplexed and at a loss to explain, by any statement *

Origin of Knowledge, pt. i., ch. i.

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GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. 53 in words, the precise difference in this case,

whatever that difference may actually be. We readily admit the fact

implied in this objection, but without admitting that it has any weight as

proof against the distinction in question. No simple notion or feeling

whatever is susceptible of a definition, of an explanation by mere words

alone. And it cannot be expected of anything, whose own nature we cannot

explain by words, that we can fully explain by a mere verbal statement its

difference from other things. It would seem, therefore, that we may rest

in this inquiry upon men's consciousness; not of one merely, but of any

and all men. The understanding stands apart from the rest. The will also

has its separate and appropriate position. We may, at least, assert with

full confidence, that no one is in danger of confounding volitions with

intellections; that is to say, with the mere notions of the understanding.

On this point there is certainly a general agreement. And yet our

consciousness, if we will but attend to its intimations with proper care,

will probably teach us, that the nature of a volition more nearly

approaches that of a purely intellectual act than it does the distinctive

nature of emotions and desires. It is undoubtedly true, that volitions may

have aroused and excited antecedents, and may thus be very closely

connected with the various affections; but in themselves they are cold and

unimpassioned; they are purely executive or mandatory, and are as

obviously free from any actual impregnation of appetite, sentiment, or

desire, as the most abstract and callous exercises of the intellect. ~ 32.

Evidence of the same from terms found in different languages. We are

enabled further to throw some light on this subject fiom a consideration

of the terms which are found in various languages. Every language is, in

some important sense, a mirror of the mind. Something may be learned of

the tendency of the mental operations, not only from the form or structure

of language in general, but even from the import of partic

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54 INTROI)UCTION. ular terms. There can be no hesitation in saying that

every language has its distinct terms, expressive of the threefold view of

the mind under consideration,. and which are constantly used with a

distinct and appropriate meaning, and without being interchanged with each

other, as if they were synonymous. In other words, there are terms ill all

languages (meaning those, of course, which are spoken by nations somewhat

advanced in mental culture) which correspond to the English terms

INTELLECT, SENSIBILITIES, WILL. If such terms are generally found in

languages differing from each other in form and in meaning, it is

certainly a strong circnmstance in proof that the distinction which we

propose to establish actually exists. On the supposition of its having no

existence, it seems impossible to explain the fact that men should so

universally agree in making it. If, on the other hand, it does exist, it

is reasonable to suppose that it exists for some purpose; and, existing

for some purpose, it must, of course, become known; and, being known, it

is naturally expressed in language, the same as any other object of

knowledge. And this is what we find to be the case. So that we may

consider the expression to be an evidence of the fact; the sign, an

intimation and evidence of the reality of the thing signified. ~ 33.

Evidence from incidental remarks in writers. We now pass to other sources

of evidence on this subject. No small amount of knowledge, bearing upon

the capabilities and the character of the human mind, may be gathered from

the incidental remarks of writers of careful observation and good sense.

And accordingly, if we find remarks expressive of mental distinctions

repeatedly made by such men, when they are not formally and professedly

treating of the mind, it furnishes a strong presumption that such

distinctions actually exist. Their testimon y is given under circumstances

the most favourable to an unbiased opinion; and ought to be received into


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GENERAL CLASSIFIOATION. 55 vast amount of evidence, drawn from a great

variety of sources, which goes to illustrate the true nature Qf the soul.

The popular author of Literary Hours has given, in one of his Works, an

interesting biographical sketch of Sir Richard Steele. After remarking

upon the inconsistencies of his life, his excellent resolutions, and his

feeble performances, his successive seasons of riot and of repentance, he

refers the cause of these inconsistencies to the feebleness of the will;

and, in doing it, he incidentally, but very clearly, makes the distinction

under consideration. 1" His misfortune, the cause of all his errors, was

not to hlave clearly seen where his deficiencies lay; they were neither of

the head nor of the heeart, but of the yvoition. H-e possessed the wish,

but not the power of volition, to carry his purposes into execution.97* As

we are not at liberty to stippose that so respectable a writer employs

words without meaning, he must be regarded as intending to make the

distinction which has been asserted to exist. In Dr. Currie's well-written

Life of Burns, it is asserted that the force of that remarkable poet lay

in the powers of his understanding and the sensibilities of his heart. And

the writer not only thus clearly indicates the distinction between the

understanding or intellect and the heart, but in another passage, which

undoubtedly discloses the key to the poet's character and conduct, he

distinguishes both of them from the volitional power. The passage referred

to is this: "He knew his own failings; he predicted their con-, sequences;

the melancholy foreboding was not long absent from his mind; yet his

pacssions carried him down the stream of error, and swept him over the

precipice he saw directly in his course. The fatal defect in his character

lay in the.comnparative weakness of his volition, which, governing the

conduct according to the dictates of the understanding, alone entitles it

to be denominated rational."t * Drake's Essays illustrative of the

Tattler, Spectator, and Guardian, vol. i., p. 50. t Currie's Life of

Burns, Philadelphia ed., p. 62.

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56 INTRODUCTION. A recently-published Inquiry concerning the Indications

of Insanity, in which are various sketches of personal history and

character that illustrate certain traits of the mind, has the following

statement: "' Delinquents of this description are, perhaps, not unable to

distinguish between what is right and what is wrong; but their will is not

governed by their ndcer3standing, and they want the power of restraining

themselves from that which, when committed, they are afraid to reflect

upon. Their will remains; but it springs from depraved sensctions and

enzotions, or from _pcssions inordinate and unrestrained."* A celebrated

writer, in giving directions to his son as to the manner of conducting

negotiations with foreign ministers, makes use of the following language:

" If you engage his heart, you have a fair chance for imposing upon his

ucnderstanding and determining his will."t This writer, as well as many

others, employs the more common term heart to express the sensibilities;

and he evidently uses language as if there were a known and admitted

distinction between the intellectual, sentient, and voluntary parts of our

nature; since he speaks of the control or regulation of the understanding

as being, in the case under consideration, subsequent to the possession of

the heart, and the determination of the Nwill as subsequent to both, or,

at least, as not identical with them. In his Diary of private and personal

experiences, under date of Jan. 12th, 1723, President Edwards, in speaking

of the consecration which he felt it his duty to make of himself to God,

and of the self-renunciation consequent upon it, says: "I can challenge no

right in this uznderstcanding, this will, these ctfections, which are in

me." We might multiply. passages of this kind to almost any extent, if our

limits would permit it. And these passages, if the distinction for which

we contend does not exist, must obviously convey erroneous ideas. This *

Conolly's Inquiries concerning the Indications of Insanity, &c., Lond.

ed., p. 454. t Chesterfield, Lond. ed., vol. iii., p. 1.37.

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GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. 57 we cannot well suppose. On the contrary, we

have not the least doubt that they express a great and, important fact in

our mental constitution; a fact which is-at the basis of all true

philosophy of the mind. A single extract more from Shakspeare (Hamalet,

Act i., Sc. ii.) will close this class of evidences on this topic. "It

shows a will most incorrect to heaven, A heart unfortifiedAn understanding

simple and unschool'd." ~ 34. Further proof from various writers on the

mind. The distinction in question has also been fully recognized by

various distinguished writers on the mind. The following passage is to be

found in Mr. Locke: " Thus, by a due considercttion, and excczrininy any

good proposed, it is in our power to raise our desires in a due proportion

to the value of that good, whereby, in its turn and place, it may come to

work upon the will, and be pursued. For good, though appearing, and

allowed ever so great, yet, till it has raised desires in our minds, and

thereby made us uneasy in its want, it reaches not our wills."' Here the

threefold division in question is distinctly recognised. The due

consideration and examining which are spoken of, imply an act of the

intellect; the desires, which are subsequently raised, are appropriately

ascribed to the sensibilities; and these last are followed by an act of

the other part of our nature, viz., the will. Mr. tIume, in his

Dissertation on the Passions, has the following passage, which is clear

enough in its import without comment: "It seems, evident that reason, in a

strict sense, as meaning the judgment of truth and falsehood, can never,

of itself, be any motive to the will, and can have no influence but so far

as it touches some passion or afection." In the Essays on the Principles

of Morality and Natural Religion, ascribed to Lord Kames, is a passage as

follows: "He hath c.ppetites and pCtsions which prompt him to their

respective gratifications; * Essay on the Understanding, bk. ii., ch.

xxi., ~ 46. C2

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b 8 INTRODUCTION. but he is under no necessity of blindly submitting to

their impulse. For reason hath a power of restraint. It suggests motives

from the cool views of good and evil. He deliberates upon these. In

consequence of his deliberation, he chooseth; and here, if anywhere, lies

our liberty." Among writers more recent, who have insisted on this

distinction with much earnestness and clearness, we may mention Sir James

Macintosh. In some strictures on Dr. Price's Review of the Principal

Questions in Morals, he has occasion to make a remark, the substance of

which had been given before, and is repeated afterward, "that no

perception or judgment, or other unmixed act of the understancdina, merely

as such, and without. the agqncy of some intermediate emviotnio can affect

the will."* A writer of our own country, who has furnished some valuable

contributions to a knowledge of our mental structure, expresses himself

thus: "Why do not philosophers consider all the operations of the

understanding and the affections as constituting but one general class of

operations, and as belonging to one faculty? The reason is, they see no

similarity between intellectual perceptions and affectionS. A perception

is not a feeling either of pleasure or pain, nor a desire. And pleasure,

and pain, and desires, they clearly see, are not perceptions. Hence

classing them together would be improper, and create confusion. It would

be confounding things which differ, and destroying all those distinctions

which are necessary to the acquirement of scientific knowledge. For a

person has no more than a confused notion of things who does not make

distinctions where there are differences, or point out the difference

between one thing and another. As perceptions and affections generically

differ, philosophers have distinguished them, and formed them into

distinct classes; and so they have admitted the existence of two

faculties. And for the same reason they admit two, they ought to grant

there are * General View of the Progress of Ethical Philosophy, p. 157.

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GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. 59 three faculties. For, when we attend to the

affections and to volitions, it is evident there is a generic difference

between them. It is evident that pain, pleasure, and desires are not

volitions, and have no similarity to those voluntary exertions which

produce: effects on the body, and in other things around us. For these

affections do not immediately produce any external effects; they are

effects themselves produced by the heart, and are either virtuous or

vicious. For it has been shown, that vice and virtue belong to the heart

only, and its operations or affections. There is, therefore, no more

propriety in classing the affections and volitions together, than in

making but one class of the affections and perceptions. The affections and

volitions so widely differ, that they naturally divide themselves into two

distinct general classes.9"* It would be easy here, as in the case of

writers not professedly and formally treating of mental philosophy, to

multiply passages of the same import from numerous other inquirers into

the lmind, if it were thought necessary. The view thus taken by English

and American writers is sustained by judicious metaphysicians of other

countries, of which our limits will permit us to give only a single

passage as an instance. The writer, after some remarks on the origin of

the desires, hopes, acid fears, proceeds as follows: " Ces affections

internes sont ce que nous nommons sentimfens. Ils different des

sensations, en ce que les sensations ont leur source directement dans

l'ext6rieur, tandis que les sentimens sont produits en nous seulement A

l'occasion de l'exterieur, soit qu'il nous affecte actuellement, soit

ql'fil nous ait pr6c6demment affectes. Ils resemblent aux sensations, en

ce que, comme elles, ils sores independans de notre volont8, et non

suLsceptibles d'6tre produits ou emp6ches par nous. Qui pent, en effet,

desirer, esqperer, crcaindre d volont~?"t * Burton's Essays on

Metaphysics, Ethics, and Theology, p. 92. t De La Libert6 et de ses

Differens Modes, par Augustin-Franiois Thery.

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60 INTRODUCTION. ~ 35. Classification of the intellectual states of the

mind. For the reasons which have been given, we find ourselves authorized,

in the first place, in arranging the states, exercises, or acts of the

mind (for these terms, the most general we can employ, will apply to all

of these classes), under the three general heads of Intellectual,

Sentimentive or Sentient, and Volitional. Our intellectual states of:

mind, together with their corresponding susceptibilities or powers, will

first come under consideration. On looking attentively, however, at the

intellectual part of our nature, we readily discover that the results

which are to be attributed to it are susceptible of a subordinate

classifih cation, viz., into INTELLECTUAL or INTELLECTIVE STATES of

External, and those of Internal origin. It is presumed, that, on a little

examination, this distinction will be sufficiently obvious. If the mind

were insulated and cut off from the outward world, or if there were no

such outward world, could we feel, or see, or hear? - All those mental

affections which we express when we speak of the diversities of taste and

touch, of sound and sight, are utterly dependent on the existence and

presence of something which is exterior to the intellect itself. But this

cannot be said of what is expressed by the words truth, falsehood,

opinion, intelligence, cause, obligation, effect, and numerous creations

of the intellect of a like kind. It is worthy of remark, that the

subordinate classification which is now proposed to be made did not

escape, in its essential characteristics, the notice of very ancient

writers. We have the authority of Cudworth,that those intellectual states

which have an internal origin, bore among the Greeks the name of NOEMATA,

tho7ughts or intellections; while those of external origin were called

AISTHIEMATA, sensations. Although this classification, the grounds of

which cannot fail readily to present themselves, has been recognised and

sanctioned, in some form or other, by numerous writers on the human mind,

it is probable that some fu* Cudworth's Immutable Morality, bk. iv., ch.


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GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. 61 ture opportunity will be found more fully to

explain and defend it; the objections which have sometimes been made will

not be overlooked; and it will readily be perceived, that we shall be

better prepared for this proposed explanation, after having considered the

relation which the mind sustains to the external world by means of the

senses, and analyzed the knowledge which has its origin in that source.

Such are the topics which we have thought it necessary to bring to the

reader's notice in these Introductory chapters. We do not see how they

could well have been omitted; and they could not have found a place in the

body of the work without producing some degree of confusion. With the

basis which is thus laid, and with that divine assistance which is

necessary to the success of all efforts, we proceed with increased hope

and confidence in the investigation of the numerous and diversified

problems which are involved in the analysis and history of the human mind.

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CHAPTER I. ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. ~ 36. Connection of the mind

with the material world. TI-E human mind has a nature and principles of

its own; but, at the same time, it cannot properly be said that it is

entirely independent in its action; that is to say, it undoubtedly has a

connexion, more or less intimate and important, with other things. An

entire separation of the soul and its action from everything else is

merely a supposition, an hypothesis, which is not realized in our present

state of being. What the soul will be in a future state of existence, is,

of course, another inquiry. It is possible that it may be disburdened,

more than it is in this life, of connexions and dependencies, and will

possess more freedom and energy; but it seems to be our appropriate

business at present to examine it as we find it here. Confining our

attention, therefore, to what now is, we proceed to say, that in our

present existence Providence has obviously designed and established an

intimate connexion between the soul and the material world. We have a

witness of this in the mere fact of the existence of an external creation.

Was all this visible creation made for nothingS Are the flowers of the

garden and the wilderness formed merely to waste their sweetness on the

air? Are all those varieties of pleasing sound, that come forth from

animate and inanimate nature, uttered and breathed out in vain? Can we

permit ourselves to suppose, that the symmetry of form everywhere existing

in the outward world, the relations and aptitudes, the beauties of

proportion, and the decorations of colours, exist without any object? And

yet this must be so, if there be no connexion between the soul of man and

outward objects. What would be proportion, what would be colour, what

would be harmony of sound without the

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66 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. soul, to which they are addressed, and

from which they are aclknowledged to derive their efficacy? Where there is

no soul, where there is a deprivation and want of the conscious spirit,

there is no sight, no hearing, no touch, no sense of beauty. Everything

around us, considered in its results, depends on the mind; the senses are

merely the medium of communication, the conditions and helps of the

perceptions, and not the perceptions themselves.-With such considerations

we justify what has been said, that Providence designed, and that it has

established an intimate connexion between the soul and the material world.

And there is another train of thought which leads to the same conclusion.

On any other supposition than the existence of such a connexion, we cannot

account for that nice and costly apparatus of the nerves and organs of

sense with which we are furnished. Although we behdld on every side

abundant marks of the Creator's goodness in forms and varieties of

existence without end, we may safely say he does nothing in vain. The

question, then, immediately recurs, What is the meaning of the expenditure

of the Divine goodness in the formation of the eye, in the windings and

ingenious construction of the ear, and in the diffusion of the sense of

touch?. We cannot give a satisfactory answer to this question, except on

the ground that there is a designed and established connexion between the

mind and the material world. If we admit the existence of this connexion,

everything is at once explained. ~ 37. Of the origin or beginnings of

knowledge. The Creator, therefore, established the relation between mind

and matter; and if we are correct in the statements which are to follow,

it will be found a striking and important fact, that, in this connexion of

the mental and material world, we are to look for the commencement of the

mind's activity, and for the beginnings of knowledge. The soul, considered

in its

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OIIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 67 relationship to external nature, may be

compared to a stringed instrument. Regarded in itself, it is an invisible

existence, having the capacity and elements of harmony. The nerves, the

eye, and the senses generally are the chords and artificial framework

which God has woven round its unseen and unsearchable essence. This living

and curious instrument, which was before voiceless and silent, sends forth

its sounds of harmony as soon as it is swept by outward infl-uences. ]But

this, it will be noticed, is a general statement; so general and

indefinite, perhaps, that it will be necessary to descend to some

particulars, which will more fully illustrate our meaning. We proceed,

therefore, to say specifically, that there are certain elementary notions,

which seem to be involved in, and inseparable from, our very existence,

such as self, identity, personality, and others. The supposition would be

highly unreasonable that we can exist for any length of time without

possessing them. It is certain that these notions are among the earliest

which men form; and yet cautious and judicious inquirers into the mind

have expressed the opinion, that even these do not arise except

subsequently to an impression on the organs of sense. Speaking of a being,

whom, for the sake of illustration, he supposed to be possessed of merely

the two senses of hearing and smelling, Mr. Stewart makes this remark:'"

Let us suppose, then, a particular sensation to be excited in the mind of

such a being. The moment this happens, he must necessarily acquire the

knowledge of two facts at once; that of the existence of the senatscion,

and that of his owen existence as a sentient being.'* This language

clearly implies, that the notions of existence and of person or self are

attendant upon, and subsequent to, an affection of the mind, caused by an

impression on the senses. In his Essays he still more clearly and

decisively advances the opinion, that the mind is originally brought into

* Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. i., ch. i.-See also ~ 5 of this Work.

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68 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. action through the medium of the

senses, and that human knowledge has its origin in this way.-" All our

simple notions," he says (Essay iii.), "or, in other words, all the

primary elements of our knowledge, are either presented to the mind

immediately by the powers of consciousness and perception, or they are

gradnally unfolded in the exercise of the various faculties which

characterize the human understanding. According to this view of the

subject, the sum total of our knowledge may undoubtedly be said to

originate in sensation, inasmuch as it is by impressions- from without

that consciousness is first awakened, and the different faculties of the

understanding put in action."~ Perhaps this subject, however, will always

remain in some degree of doubt; and we have merely to say, that of the

various opinions which have been advanced in respect to it, we give the

preference to that which has been referred to, as supported by Stewart, De

Gerando, and other judicious writers, without any disposition to assert

its infallibility, and yet with the feeling that the preponderance of

arguments is greatly in its favor. The mind, therefore, appears at its

creation to be merely an existence, involving certain principles, and

endued with certain powers, but dependent for the first and original

developement of those principles and the exercise of those powers on the

condition of an outward impression. But then it is to be remembered, that

it is no sooner brought into action, than it finds new sources of thought

and feeling in itself. ~ 38. Our first knowledge in general of a material

or external origin. Our doctrine, then, is (affirmed with as much

assurance as is suitable in a case which perhaps can never be divested of

some degree of obscurity), FIRST, that there is an established and close

connection between * Views similar to those of Mr. Stewart are maintained

by De Gerando, in a Memoir entitled, De la Generation des Connoisances


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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 69 the mind and the material world; and,

SECOND, that it is by means of this connexion, and through the mediumship

and instrumentality of the senses, that the mind is first brought into

action. And in further illustration and support of these views, we proceed

now to some additional facts and arguments, which are entitled to a candid

consideration, and which we think can hardly fail to be assented to. What

has been said will, in the first place, be found agreeable to each one's

individual experience. If we look back to the early periods of life, we

discover not merely that our ideas are then comparatively few in number,

but that far the greater proportion of them are suggested by external

objects. They are forced upon us by our immediate wants; they have

relation to what we ourselves see, or hear, or touch; and only a small

proportion are internal and abstract. As we advance in years,

susceptibilities and powers of the mind are brought into exercise, which

have a less intimate connexion with things external; and thoughts from

within are more rapidly multiplied than front without. We have in some

measure exhausted that which is external; and as the mind, awakened to a

love of knowledge and a consciousness of its own powers, has at last been

brought fully into action by means of repeated affections of the senses, a

new world (as yet in some degree a TERRA INCOGNITA) projects itself upon

our attention, where we are called upon to push our researches and gratify

our curiosity.-This is the general experience, the testimony which each

one can give for himself. In the second place, what has been said finds

confirmation in what we observe of the progress of the mind in infants and

children generally. The course of things which we observe in them agrees

with what our personal consciousness and remembrance, as far back as it

goes, enables us to testify with no little confidence in our own case. 1No

one can observe the operations of the mind in infants and children,

without being led to believe that the Creator has instituted

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70 ORIGIN OF KNOWLFIDGE IN GENERAL. a connexion between the mind and the

material world, and that the greater portion of our early knowledge is

from an outward source. To the infant its nursery is the world. The first

ideas of the human race are its particular conceptions of its nurse and

mother; and the origin and history of all its notions may be traced to its

animal wants, to the light that breaks in from its window, and to the few

objects in the immediate neighbourhood of the cradle and hearth. When it

has become a few years of age, there are other sources of information,

other fountains of thought, but they are still external and material. The

child then learns the topography of his native village; he explores the

margin of its river, ascends its flowering hills, and penetrates the

seclusion of its valleys. His mind is full of activity; new and exalting

views crowd upon his perceptions; he beholds, and hears, and handles; he

wonders, and is delighted. And it is not till after he has grasped the

elements of knowledge, which the outward world gives, that he retires

within himself, compares, reasons, and seeks for causes and effects. It is

in accordance with what has now been stated of the tendencies of mind in

children, that we generally find them instructed by means of sensible

objects, or by pictures of such objects. When their teachers make an

abstract statement to them of an action or event, they do not understand

it; they listen to it with an appearance of confusion and vacancy, for the

process is undoubtedly against nature. But show them the objects

themselves, or a faithful picture of them, and interpret your abstract

expressions by a reference to the object or picture, and they are observed

to learn with rapidity and pleasure. The time has not yet arrived for the

springing up and growth of thoughts of an internal and abstract origin. ~

39. Further proof of the beginnings of knowledge from external causes. In

the third place, the history of language is a strong proof of the

correctness of the position, that

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 71 the mind is first brought into action

by means of the senses, and acquires its earliest knowledge from that

sonrce. At first words are few in numb er, corresponding to the limited

extent of ideas. The vocabulary of savage tribes (those, for example,

which inhabit the American continent) is, in general, exceedingly limited.

The growth of a language corresponds to the growth of mind; it extends

itself by the increased number and power of its words, nearly in exact

correspondence with the mnltiplication and the increased complexity of

thought. Now the history of all language teaches us, that words, which

were invented and brought into use one after another, in the gradual way

just mentioned, were first employed to express external objects, and

afterward were -used to express thoughts of an internal origin. Some

writer remarks, that among the Boschuanas of South Africa, who live in a

parched and arid country, the word rPULO, which literally signifies rai,,

is the only term they have to express a blessing or blessings. But there

may be blessings internal as well as external; goods and joys of the mind

as well as of the body; still, in the language of these Africans, it is

all crain; the blessings of hope, and peace, and friendship, and

submissiori, and all other modes of intellectual and sentient good, are

expressed by this one term, because in their first and external experience

it was employed as the name of an object of the highest external good.

There are multitudes of instances of this kind. Almost all the words ini

every language expressive of the susceptibilities and operations of the

mind, may be clearly shown to have had an external origin and application

before they were applied to the mind. Take certain terms in the English

language, which are of Latin derivation. To IMAGINE, in its literal

signification, implies the forming of a picture; to IMPRESS conveys the

idea of leaving a stamp or mark, as the seal leaves its exact likeness or

stamp on wax; to REFLECT literally means to turn back, to go over the

ground again. These words cannot be applied to the mind

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72 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. in the literal sense; the nature of the

mind will not admit of such an application; the inference therefore is,

that they first had an external application. Now if it be an established

truth, that all language has a primary reference to external objects, and

that there is no term expressive of mental acts which was not originally

expressive of something material, the conclusion would seem to be a fair

one, that the part of our knowledge, which has its rise by means of the

senses, is, as a general statement, first in origin. And the more so, when

we combine with these views the considerations which have been previously

advanced. ~ 40. The same subject further illustrated. And, in the fourth

place, it is not too much to say, that all the observations which have

been made on persons who, from their birth, or at any subsequent period,

have been deprived of any of the senses, and all the extraordinary facts

which have come to our knowledge having a bearing on this inquiry, go

strongly in favour of the views which have been given.It appears, for

instance, from the observations whichl have been made in regard to persons

who have been deaf until a particular period, and then have been restored

to the power of hearing, that they never previously had those ideas whichl

naturally come in by that sense. If a person has been born blind, the

result is the same; or if having the sense of sight, it has so happened

that he has never seen any colours of a particular description. In the one

case he has no ideas of colours at all, and in the other only of those

colours which he has seen.-It may be said, perhaps, that this is what

might be expected, and merely proves the senses to be a source of

knowledge, without necessarily involving the priority of that knowledge to

what has an internal origin. But then observe the persons referred to a

little further, and it will be found, as a general statement, that the

powers of their minds have not been unfolded; they lay wrapped up, in a

great measure, in their original

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 73 darkness; no inward light springs up to

compensate for the absence of that which, in other cases, bursts in from

the outward world. This circumstance evidently tends to confirm the

principle we are endeavouring to illustrate. Of those extraordinary

instances to which we alluded as having thrown some light on the history

of our intellectual acquisitions, is the account which is given in the

Memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences for the year 1703, of a deaf and

dumb young man in the city of Chartres. At the age of threeand-twenty, it

so happened, to the great surprise of the whole town, that he was suddenly

restored to the sense of hearing, and in a short time he acquired the use

of language. Deprived for so long a period of a sense which in importance

ranks with the sight and the touch, unable to hold communion with his

fellowbeings by means of oral or written language, and not particularly

compelled, as he had every. care taken of him by his friends and

relations, to bring his faculties into exercise, the powers of his mind

remained without having opportunity to unfold themselves. Being examined

by some men of discernment, it was found that he had no idea of a God, of

a soul, of the moral merit or demerit of human actions; and what might

seem to be yet more remarkable, he knew not what it was to die; the

agonies of dissolution, the grief of friends, and the ceremonies of

interment being to him inexplicable mysteries. Here we see how much

knowledge a person was deprived of merely by his wanting the single sense

of hearing; a proof that the senses were designed by our Creator to be the

first source of knowledge, and that without them the faculties of the soul

would never become operative. ~ 41. Subject illustrated from the case of

James Mitchell. But the foregoing is lnot the only instance of this sort

which ingenious men have noticed and recorded. In the Transactions of the

Royal Society at EdinI. —D

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74 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. burgh (vol. vii., pt. 1) is a Memoir

communicated by Dugald Stewart, which gives an account of James Mitchell,

a boy born deaf and blind. The history of this lad, who laboured under the

uncommon affliction of this double deprivation, illustrates and confirms

all that has been above stated. He made wliat use he could of the only

senses which he possessed, those of touch, taste, and smell, and gained

from them a number of ideas. It was a proof of the diligence with which he

employed the limited means which were given him, that he had, by the sense

of touch,'thoroughly explored the ground in the neighbourhood of the house

where he lived, for hundreds of yards. But deprived of sight, of hearing,

and of intercourse by speech, it was very evident to those who observed

him, as might be expected, that his knowledge was in amount exceedingly

small. I-Ie was destitute of those perceptions which are appropriate to

the particular senses of which he was deprived; and also of many other

notions of an internal origin, which would undoubtedly have arisen if the

powers of the mind had previously been rendered fully operative by means

of those assistances which it usually receives from the bodily

organs.-Such instances as these, however they may at first appear, are

extremely important. They furnish us with an appeal, not to mere

speculations, but to fact. And it is only by checking undue speculation,

and by recurring to facts, that our progress in this science will become

sure, rapid, and delightful.* ~ 42. Illustration from the case of Caspar

Hauser. There is a recent instance, perhaps more decisive than has ever

before occurred, and as melancholy as it is; deeply interesting. We refer

to the case of Caspar Hauser. I know that attempts have been made to throw

discredit upon the statements and the * The statements concerning the

young man of Chartres are particularly examined in Condillac's Essay on

the Origin of Knowledge, at Section fourth of Part first. The interesting

Memoir of Stewart has recently been republished in the third volume of his

Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind.

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GEENERAL. 75 history of this young man. But, after

much investigation, the facts have been so well established, that they may

properly be received as throwing important light on the history of the

human mind. It appears, from all that can be gathered on the subject, that

this unfortunate lad was from infancy confined in a low and small

apartment, which he sometimes called a cage. No light ever entered this

little prison. Till his release in the seventeenth year of his age, he

never saw the sky, nor the pleasant light of day, nor ever perceived any

difference between day and night. Whenever he awoke from sleep, which was

generally sound and at stated intervals, he found a loaf of bread and a

pitcher of water near him. Sometimes the water was mixed with opium or

some other intoxicating drug. Under the influence of this mixture, which

was occasionally given him, he was suddenly cast into a profound slumber;

and when he afterward awoke, he found that he had a clean shirt on, and

that his nails had been cut. He never saw the face of the man who changed

his clothing and brought him his food and drink. The only objects which he

had to amuse himself with were two wooden horses and several ribands.

These horses he believed to have a degree of life and sensibility. His

only occupation was to move them backward and forward by his side, and to

tie the ribands upon them in various positions. While in his little prison

he never heard a human voice, nor any other sound except what he himself

made in playing with his little wooden companions. Thus it was in a

solitude and inactivity little less than that of the grave, he spent his

infancy, childhood, and youth. But it is unnecessary to go into all the

particulars of this unfortunate young man's history. When he Was released

from his confinement in the year 1828, he was, as nearly as could be

ascertained from the structure and: developements of his body, about 17

years of age.-And what was the condition of his mind H lie had no

knowledge of language, excepting

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76 ORIGIN OF IKNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. a few words, to which he seems to have

attached scarcely any meaning. When he appeared, helpless and alone, in

the streets of Nuremberg, the common questions of the police officers were

put to him. What is your name? What is your business Whence came you? But

he had no perception of their import. He heard without understanding; he

saw without perceiving; the tears stood in his eye; unintelligible sounds

and sorrowful moans burst from his lips. I-e was entirely ignorant of all

the common objects and occurrences of nature, and of all the usual

customns and conveftiences of life. Like the blind boy couched by

Cheselden for the cataract, he was incapable of estimating the true

direction and distance of things. The objects which were presented to his

notice affected him as they do an infant or a little child. He

endeavoured, for instance, to lay hold of all bright and glittering

objects just as a child does; and when he could not reach them, or was

forbidden to touch them, he cried. He was attracted by the brightness of

an object; but he seemed incapable of distinguishing one object from

another. When objects were brought very near to him, he generally gazed at

them with a stupid look, which only in particular instances was expressive

of curiosity and astonishment. I-He could not distinguish animated things

from inanimate, but ascribed a degree of life to all. He had no ideas of

family, of relationship and friendship, and would often ask for an

explanation of what is meant by mother, brother, and sister. He had no

moral or religious ideas; and even the sentiments of modesty and shame, so

deeply implanted in the human breast and so easily called into action,

seem never to have been excited in his bosom. In a word, his mind was

essentially an unintelligent blank; and this merely because it had been

shut out from any connexion with the outward world of men and nature. No

basis had been laid for its operations; the power destined to bring it

into action had never touched it; it was like some desert place of earth,

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 77 where the sun never shone, and the

breeze never blew, and the rain never descended, that presents to the eye

of the beholder one unvaried surface of arid and withering desolation. ~

43. Of connatural or innate knowledge. The considerations of this chapter

naturally bring us upon th~e question of innate or connatural knowledge.

It was formerly maintained by certain writers, that there are in the minds

of men ideas and propositions which are not acquired or taught at any time

or in any way, but are coetaneous with the existence of the mind itself,

being wrought into, and inseparable from it. It was maintained that they

are limited to no one class, neither to the rich nor the poor, neither to

the learned nor the ignorant, to no clime and to no conmtry, but all

participate in them alike. They were supposed to be characterized by three

marks: FIRST, that they exist from the very beginning of the mind's

existence; SECOND, that they are entirely distinct in themselves, and are

the subjects of distinct consciousness from the time that they were called

into being; and, THIIRD, that, in being common to all men and all nations,

they are universal. These propositions and ideas, being thus coetaneous

with the existence of the soul, and being there established at the

commencement of its existence by the ordinance of the Deity, were further

regarded as the first principles of knowledge, and as the rules by which

men were to be guided in all their reasonings about natural and moral

objects. From these innate and original propositions, the following may be

selected as specimens of the whole: (1.) Of the natural kind. The whole is

greater than a part: Whatever is, is: It is impossible for the same thing

to be and not to be at the same time and in the same sense. —(2.) Of the

moral kind. Parents must be honoured: Injury must not be done: Contracts

should be fulfilled, and others of a moral nature.-(3.) Of the religious

kind. There is a God:

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78 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAtL. God is to be worshipped: God will

approve virtue and punish vice. ~ 44. The doctrine of innate knowledge not

susceptible of proof. The prominent argument brought forward by the

supporters of the doctrine of innate knowledge was this, that all mankind,

without exception, and from the earliest period of our being able to form

an acquaintance with their minds, exhibit a knowledge of ideas and

propositions of this kind, and that this universal knowledge of them

cannot be accounted for, except on the ground of their being coetaneous

with the mind's existence, and originally implanted in it. Our answer is

briefly this. If we admit that all men are acquainted with them and assent

to them, this by no means proves them innate, so long as we can account

for this acquaintance and this assent in some other way. It is granted by

all that the mind exists, that it is capable of action, and that it

possesses the power or the ability of acquiring knowledge. If, therefore,

in the exercise of this ability, which all admit it to have, we canl come

to the knowledge of what are called innate or connatural ideas and

propositions, it is unnecessary to assign to them another origin, in

support of which no positive proof can be brought. But the truth is, that

it does not appear that all men are acquainted with the ideas and

propositions in question; and especially they do not exhibit such a

distinct acquaintance with them from the first dawn of their knowledge, as

would be the case if they were connatural in the mind. The supposed fact,

on which the argument in support of innate knowledge is founded, has the

appearance at least of being an assumption; it has never been confirmed by

candid and careful inquiry, which ought to be done before it is made use

of as proof; nor is it susceptible of such confirmation. ~ 45. The

doctrine tried by the idea of a God. Let us test the matter by a single

case. Every enumneration of innate propositions embraces the follow

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 79 ing, That all men have a notion of a

God; and undoubtedly, if there be any one which has a claim to

universality and early developement, it is this. JBut, in point of fact,

we know that all men are not acquainted with this notion; the testimony of

travellers among uncivilized nations has been given again and again, that

there is not such a universal acquaintance. It is true that all men have

in themselves the elements from which the idea may be formed; but, owing

to the peculiar circumstances of extreme depression and ignorance in which

they are sometimes placed, there are some individuals in whom it is not

developed; and perhaps whole tribes or classes of men, as some travellers

have stated, in whom the developement is so indistinct and weak as to be

hardly perceptible. There is also a class of unfortunate persons to be

found in civilized and Christian nations (we have reference to the deaf

and dumb, those in the situation of the young man at Chartres), who will

throw light on this subject, if men will but take the trouble to examine

those who have in no way received religious instruction. There is reason

to believe that, in many cases, they will be found utterly without a

knowledge of their Creator. We will give a single instance. iMassieu was

the son of a poor shepherd in the neighbourhood of Bordeaux. Destitute

from birth of the sense of hearing, and, as a natural consequence, of the

power of speech, he grew up, and knew barely enough to enable him to watch

his father's flocks in the fields. Although his capacity was afterward

fully proved to be of the most comprehensive and splendid character, as it

was not then drawn out and brought into action, he appeared in early life

to be but little above an idiot. In this situation he was taken under the

care of the benevolent Sicard, who was able, after great labour and

ingenuity, to quicken by degrees the slumbering power of thought into

developement and activity. Did his instructor suppose that Massieu was

acquainted with the notion of a God. —Far from it; he had abundant

evidence to the contrary; nor did he even

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8 0 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. undertake to teach him that vast idea

for some time. Hle directed his attention at first to knowledge more

obvious and accessible in its origin; he led him, in perfect consistency

with what is required by the nature and laws of the mind, by easy steps

from one degree of knowledge to another, till he supposed him capable of

embracing the glorious conception of a First Cause. Then he contrived to

arouse his attention and anxiety; he introdnuced himn to a train of

thought which would naturally bring him to the desired result; he had

previously taught him the relation of cause and effect; and on this

occasion he showed him his watch, and, by signs, gave him to understand

that it implied a designer and maker; and the same of a picture, a piece

of statuary, a book, a building, and other objects indicative of design.

Then he held up before him a chain, showing him how one link was connected

with, and dependent on, another; in this way he introduced into the mind

of Massien the complex notion of the mutual dependence and concatenation

of causes. At last the full idea, the conception of a primary,

self-existent, and self-energetic cause, the notion of a God, came like

light from Heaven into his astonished and rejoicing soul. He trembled,

says his historian; he was deeply affected, prostrated himself, and gave

signs of reverence and adoration. And when he arose, he uttered by signs

also, for he had no other language, these beautiful words, which his

instructor declared he should never forget: Ah! let me go to my father, to

my mother, to my brothers, to tell them of a God; they know him not.* ~

46. The further discussion of this subject unnecessary. Such facts and

illustrations as have been given seem to settle this question. Our view,

then, is this: The cognitive faculties, or those faculties which have

relation to the origin of knowledge, may be regarded as INNATE; but the

knowledge which is the result of the * See the work of Sicard, entitled

Cours d'Instruction d'un SourdMuet de Naissance, chap. xxv.

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ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. 81 exercise of such faculties (and this is

the case with all perceptions, all propositions, and all forms of

knowledge whatever) is to be regarded, not as innate, but as ACQUIRED. And

this view is consistent with the admission, that many of the ideas and

propositions which are regarded as innate, arise at an early period, are

nearly universal, and are of very great importance. The further discussion

of the subject here does not appear to be necessary. At the present time

there is, with but few exceptions, much unanimity in relation to it. But

those who wish to go more fully into a question which formerly attracted a

good deal of attention, will find a more minute examination of it in the

philosophical writings of Locke, Gassendi, and Leibnitz, and, more

recently, in the works of De Gerando. ~ 47. Concluding remarks on the rise

of.knowledge by means of the senses. Considering it, therefore, as

sufficiently settled that there is no innate or connatural knowledge,

whatever may be true of innate or connatural cognitive powers, we recur

with increased confidence to the principle laid down in the beginning of

this chapter, that the mind is first brought into action by the

intermediation of the senses, and that the beginnings and the greater part

of its earliest knowledge are from an external source. Let us suppose a

man entirely cut off from all outward material impressions, or, what is

the same thing, with his senses entirely closed. It is very obvious, and

the instances already brought forward clearly prove, that he would be

entirely deprived of that vast amount of knowledge which has an immediate

connexion with the senses. But this is not all; there are other ideas

whose connexion with the senses is less immediate, of which he would not

fail to be deprived, by being placed in the circumstances supposed. Even

if he should possess the idea of existence, and of himself as a thinking

and sentient being (although we cannot ( 2

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82 ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENERAL. well imagine how this should be,

independently of some impression on the senses), still we have no reason

to believe that he would know anything of space, of motion, of the place

of objects, of duration, of time. What could he know of time without a

knowledge of day and night, the: riing and setting sun, the changes of the

seasons, or some other of its measurements! What could.he know of motion

while utterly unable to form the idea of place! And what could he know of

place without the aid of the senses! And, under such circumstances, what

reasoning would he be capable of, further than to form the single

proposition, that his feelings, whatever they might be, belonged to

himself! And we might go further, and ask, What would he know of himself a

Look at the subject in whatever way we will, we must, I think, at last

come to the conclusion, that the connexion of the mind with the material

world by means of the senses is the basis of our early mental history, and

the only key that can satisfactorily unlock its explanation. This is the

beginning. We are far from saying or believing that it is the end. The

Sensational sources of knowledge come first; the Internal or

Super-sensational make their appearance afterward. If there are cognitions

or knowledges which come from below, there are others, which in their due

time and place will be found to come from above. The doctrine of outward

sources of knowledge does not exclude that of inward sources. And the

whole truth will be found in that broad and comprehensive Eclecticism,

which, while it discriminates between mind and matter, recognises the

claims and relations of both, and combines Sensationalism and

Intellectualism, the Sensuous and the Super-sensuous, in one conjoined and

harmonious system.

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a simple mental state originating in the senses. IN connection with the

general principles laid down in the Introductory chapters, and in the

chapter on the Origin of Knowledge, which prepare the way, in a nnmber of

important respects, for what is to follow, we are ready to proceed to the

investigation of the various mental powers and susceptibilities. And here

we make two very brief remarks. FIRST, it will be found, in the history of

the mind's development, that each power, each susceptibility, has its

appropriate place. And the examination of a power out of the right place

causes much perplexity; while the examination of it where it appropriately

belongs throws light upon it and upon the other powers with which it is

connected. Thus we cannot understand Perception without the antecedent

knowledge of Sensation; we cannot understand the Conceptive power without

the antecedent knowledge of that which perceives; the philosophical

analysis of the Reasoning power implies the knowledge of the power of

Memory, and so on. The examination of the powers in a reverse order,

placing Perception before Sensation, the Reasoning power before Memory,

and the power of Imagination before that which furnishes conceptive

states, or even a slight deviation from the true order of arrangement in

these and in other cases, produces more or less of perplexity and

confusion. A SECOND remark is, that man is not only a cognitive being, a

being made to acquire knowledge, but also an -esthetic or emotional, a

moral, and active being; and, therefore, that his powers, as we shall be

led to see, are very various in their character. And there are some

important powers, which it is difficult to class either as percep

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84 POWER OF SENSATION. tive or active, and which seem, in their position

and functions, to be chiefly auxiliary to the prompt and definite action

of others; such as the power of Habit and the power of Association. With

these remarks we are prepared to enter upon the analysis before us. In

proceeding with the examination of the External or Sensational intellect,

in distinction from the Internal or Supersensational intellect, the first

cognitive power which presents itself to our notice is Sensation. This

power is variously named Sensation, the Sensational power, and

Sensationality. Owing to the imperfection of language, the word SENSATION

sometimes means the mental power or faculty, and sometimes the result of

the exercise of that power. The power is one thing, the result of the

exercise of that power is another. But as we generally get the best idea

of the powers or susceptibilities of the mind from an examination of the

results to which they give rise, we shall proceed briefly to examine

sensation, the mental state, in distinction from the sensational or

sensuous power, with which it originates. It is generally understood that

sensation is a simple act or state of the mind, and, as a necessary result

of its simplicity, that it is unsusceptible of definition. As these

characteristics alone, however, would not separate it from many other

mental states, it has this peculiarity to distinguish it, that it is

immediactely szccessive to a chancge in some organ of sense, or, at least,

to a bodily change of some kind. But it is evident that, in respect to

numerous other feelings, this statement does not hold good. They are

immediately subsequent, not to bodily impressions, but to other states of

the soul itself. Hence it is, that while we speak of the sensations of

heat and cold, hardness, softness, and the like, we do not commonly apply

this term to joy and sorrow, hatred and love, and other emotions and

passions. ~ 49. All sensation is properly and truly in the mind. Sensation

is often regarded as something having a

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SENSATION OR SENSATIONALITY. 85 position, and as taking place in the body,

and particularly in the organ of sense. The sensation of touch, as we seem

to imagine, is in the hand, which is the organ of touch, and is not truly

internal; the hearing is in the ear, and the vision in the eye, and not in

the soul. But it will at once occur, that this supposition, however widely

and generally it may be made, is altogether at variance with those

essential notions which we have found it necessary to form of matter. If

the matter of the hand, of the eye, or ear, can have feeling in any degree

whatever, there is no difficulty in the supposition, that the matter of

the brain, or any other material substance, can put forth the exercises

and functions of thought. But, after what has been already said on the

subject of the mind's immateriality, this supposition is altogether

inadmissible. All we can say with truth and on good grounds is, that the

organs of sense are accessory to sensation and necessary to it, but the

sensation or feeling itself is wholly in the mind. How often it is said,

in the use of metaphorical language, that the eye sees; but the language,

expressive of the literal and real fact is, that the soul sees, for the

eye is only the organ, instrument, or minister of the soul in visual

perceptions. " A man," says Dr. Reid, " cannot see the satellites of

Jupiter but by a telescope. Does he conclude from this that it is the

telescope that sees those stars? By no means; such a conclusion would be

absurd. It is no less absurd to conclude that it is the eye that sees or

the ear that hears. The telescope is an artificial organ of sight, but it

sees not. The eye is a natural organ of sight by which we see; but the

natural organ sees as little as the artificial." Among other things

illustrative of the correctness of what has been said, there is this

consideration also. The opinion that sensation is in the organ or some

other material part, and not in the soul, is inconsistent with the

fundamental and indisputable doctrine of mental identity. " When I say I

see, I hear, I feel," says the same judicious author, " this implies that


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86 POWER OF SENSATION. is one and the same self that performs all these

operations. And as it would be absurd to say that my memory, another man's

imagination, and a third man's reason, may make one individual intelligent

being, it would be equally absurd to say that one piece of matter seeing,

another hearing, and a third feeling, may make one and the same percipient

being. And again, it would not be out of place to illustrate the subject

from what may be witnessed immediately after death, and before the

decomposition and dissolution of the body. The eye still remains; the

sense of hearing remains; the sense of touch and the other senses are

there; but there is no vision, no hearing, no tactual sensation, because

the senses are not complemented and made available by the presence of the

soul. Although the opinion that sensation is not in the mind but in the

body, is unfounded, it is not, perhaps, surprising that such a belief

should have arisen. If the hand be palsied, there is no sensation of

touch; if the ear be stopped, there is no sensation of hearing; if the eye

be closed, there is no vision; hence it happens, that when we have these

sensations, we are led to think of the organ or part of the bodily system,

with the affection of which theyare connected. When we feel a pain arising

from an external cause, it is a natural, and often a useful curiosity

which endeavours to learn the particular place in the body which is

affected. This, which we are generally able to ascertain, always arrests

our attention more or less. In this way we gradually form a very strong

association, and almost unconsciously transfer the place of the inward

sensation to that outward part, with which we have so frequently connected

it in our thoughts. Although this is clearly a mere fallacy, the

circumstance of its being a plausible and tenacious one renders it the

more necessary to guard against it. * Reid's Intellectual Powers, Essay


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SENSATION OR SENSATIONALITY. 87 ~ 50. Sensations are not images or

resemblances of objects. But while we are careful to assign sensations

their true place in the mind, and to look upon what is outward in the body

as merely the antecedents or causes of them, it is a matter of some

consequence to guard against a danger directly the reverse of that which

has been remarked on. We are apt to transfer to the sensation, considered

as existing in the mind, some of those qualities which belong to the

external object. But, in point of fact, our sensations are by no means

copies, pictures, or images of outward objects; nor are they

representations of them in any material sense whatever; nor do they

possess any of their qualities. It is true, we often think it otherwise;

constantly occupied with external objects, when in the act of

contemplation we retire within the mind, we unwarily carry with us the

form and qualities of matter, and stamp its likeness on the thought

itself. But the thought, whatever it may by the constitution of our nature

be the sign of, has no form, and presents no image analogous to what are

outwardly objects of touch and sight; nor has it form or image in any

sense which we can conceive of. When, therefore, we have an idea of some

object as round or square, we are not to infer, from the existence of the

quality in the outward object, that the mental state is possessed of the

same quality or attribute; when we think of anything as extended, it is

not to be supposed that the thought itself has extension; when we behold

and admire the varieties of color, we are not at liberty to indulge the

presumption that the inward feelings are painted over, and radiant with

corresponding hues. There is nothing of the kind; and the admission of

such a principle would lead to a multitude of errors. This subject is

illustrated in the following manner by Dr. Reid, whom we have already had

repeated occasion to refer to on the subject before us.-" Pressing my

hand, with force against the table, I feel pain, and I feel the table to

be hard. The pain is a sensation of the mind, and there is nothing that


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88 THE SENSATIONAL POWER. it in the table. The hardness is in the table,

nor is there anything resembling it in the mind. Feeling is applied to

both, but in a different sense; being a word common to the act of

sensation, and to that of perceiving by the sense of touch. " I touch the

table gently with my hand, and I feel it to be smooth, hard, and cold.

These are qualities of the table perceived by touch; but I perceive them

by means of a sensation which indicates them. This sensation not being

painful, I commonly give no attention to it. It carries my thought

immediately to the thing signified by it, and is itself forgotten as if it

had never been. But by repeating it, and turning my attention to it, and

abstracting my thought from the thing signiified by it, I find it to be

merely a sensation, and that it has no similitude to the hardness,

smoothness, or coldness of the table which are signified by it. " It is

indeed difficult, at first, to disjoin things in our attention which have

always been conjoined, and to make that an object of reflection which

never was so before; but some pains and practice will overcome this

difficulty in those who have got the habit of reflecting on the operations

of their own minds.'"* ~ 51. The connexion between the mental and physical

change not susceptible of explanation. External bodies operate on the

senses before there is any affection of the mind, but it is not easy to

say what the precise character and extent of this operation is. We know

that some object capable of affecting the organ must be applied to it in

some way either directly or indirectly, and it is a matter of knowledge

also, that some change in the organ actually takes place; but further than

this we are involved in uncertainty. All we can undertake to do at present

is the mere statement of the facts, viz., the application of an external

body, and some change in consequence of it in the organ of sense. * Reid's

Intellectual Powers, Essay ii.

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THE PERCEPTIVE POWER. 89 Snbseqnently to the change in the organ, either

at its extremity and outward developement, or in the brain, with which it

is connected, and of which it may be considered as making a part, a change

in the mind or a new state of the mind immediately takes place. I-fere

also we are limited to the mere statement of the fact. We here touch upon

one of those boundaries of the intellect which men are probably not

destined to pass in the present life. We find ourselves unable to resolve

and explain the connexion between mind and matter in this case, as we do

in all others. All we know and all we can state with confidence is, that a

mental affection is immediately subseqlent to an affection or change which


the meaning and nature of perception. WE next come to the subject of

PERCEPTION. We consider this power here, because this seems its proper

place. It is obviously subsequent, in the history of the mind's

developement, to the Sensational power, but is as clearly antecedent to

many others which are to follow. This is the second cognitive power, and

is variously denominated Perception, the Perceptive power, and

Perceptivity. Its results, or the states of mind to which it gives rise,

are called perceptions. And the power, as in other analogous cases, is

most easily and satisfactorily inderstood from an examination of its

results. It is hardly necessary to add that what we have to say here does

not concern internal perception, but merely that which relates to objects

exterior to the mind. Perception, using the term in its application to

outward objects, differs from sensation as a whole does from a part; it

embraces more. It may be defined, therefore, an affection or state of the

mind which is

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90 THE PERCEPTIVE POWER. immediactely successive to certain cgfections of

the organ of sense, and which/ is referred by us to something external as

its cause. In regard to the specific nature of this reference, namely,

whether it involves some inductive process, or whether it is a purely

instinctive tendency, there may be differences of opinion; but possibly

and probably the truth may include a very simple mental process, which has

the form of reasoning, but which is prompted and secured in its action by

an implanted or instinctive tendency of the mind. It will be recollected

that the term SENSATION, when applied to the mind, expresses merely the

state of the mind, without reference to anything external which might be

the cause of it, and that it is the name of a truly simple feeling.

Perception, on the contrary, is the name of a complex mental state,

including not merely the internal affection of the mind, but also a

reference to the exterior cause. Sensation is wholly within; but

Perception carries us, as it were, out of ourselves, and makes us

acquainted with the wolqd around us. It is especially by means of this

last power that material nature, in all its varieties of form and beauty,

is brought within the range of our inspection. If we had but sensation

alone, there would still be form and fragrance, and colour and harmony of

sound, but it would all seem to be wholly inward. The mind would then

become not merely what Leibnitz supposed it to be, a mirror of the

universe;, it would be to us the universe itself; we could know no other

world, no other form of being. Perception or perceptivity prevents the

possibility of such a mistake; operating in virtue of its own law of being

and action, it undeceives and dissipates the flattering notion that all

things are in the soul; it leads us to other existences, and, in

particular, to the knowledge of the vast and complicated fabric of the

material creation. ~ 53. Of the primary and secondary qualities of matter.

From what has been said, it will be noticed that

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PERCEPTION. 91 SENSATION implies the existence of an external material

world as its cause, or at least as the occasion of its existence; and that

PERCEPTION implies the same existence both as cause and object. As,

therefore, the material world comes now so directly and closely under

consideration, it seems proper briefly to advert to that subject. It is

obvious we are ignorant, so far as the senses are concerned, of the.

subjective or real essence of matter. Our sensuous knowledge embraces

merely its qualities or properties, and nothing more. Without proposing to

enter into a minute examination of them, it will be proper to recall the

recollection here, that the qualities of material bodies have been ranked

by writers under the two heads of Primary and Secondary. The PRIMARY

QUALITIES are known by being essential to the existence of all bodies.

They. are extension, figure, divisibility, and solidity; and some writers

have included motion. They are called PRIMARY for the obvious reason that

all men embrace them in the notions which they form of matter, and that

they are essential to its existence. All bodies have extension, all bodies

have figure, all are capable of division, all possess the attribute of

solidity. By SOLIDITY in bodies (perhaps some would prefer the term

RESISTANCE) is to be understood that quality by which a body hinders the

approach of others between which it is interposed. In this sense, even

water, and all other fluids, are solid. If particles of water could be

prevented from separating, they would oppose so great resistance that it

would be impossible for any two bodies, between which they might be, to

come in contact. This was shown in an experiment which was once made at

Florence. A quantity of water was enclosed in a gold ball, which, on the

most violent pressure, could not be made to fill the internal cavity,

until the water inside was forced through the pores.-There is reason also

for that part of the arrangement which includes DIVISIBILITY. W/e cannot

conceive of a particle so small as not to be susceptible

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92 PERCEPTIVITY. of division. And to that small particle must belong not

only divisibility, but the qualities of solidity, extension, and figure. ~

54. Of the secondary qualities of matter. The SECONDAY qualities of bodies

are of two kinds: (1.) Those which have relation to the perceiving and

sentient mind; (2.) Those which have relation to other bodies. Under the

first class are to be included sound, colour, taste, smell, hardness and

softness, heat and cold, roughness and smoothness, &c. When we say of a

body it has sound, we imply in this remark that it possesses qualities

which will cause certain effects ill the mind; the term sound being

applicable by the use of language both to the qualities of the external

object, and to the effect produced within. When we say it has colour, we

always make a like reference to the mind which beholds and contemplates

it; and it is the same of the other secondary qualities of this

description. The other class of secondary qualities (or properties, as

they are not unfrequently termed), those which have relation to other

material bodies, are exceedingly various and numerous. The material

substance which, in relation to the mind, possesses the qualities of sound

and colour, may possess also, in relation to other bodies, the qualities

or properties of malleability, fusibility, solubility, permeability, and

the like. ~ 55. Of the nature of mental powers or faculties, and their

names. One or two explanatory remarks may properly be made here. We are

now considering the specific powers of the mind as they present themselves

for examination in the respective general Departments to which they

belong. But it is desirable to remember, that the powers or faculties,

which it is necessary thus to make distinct objects of consideration, are

not, on that account, to be regarded as distinct from the mind itself.

They are not separate from the mind, but are

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THE PERCEPTIVE POWER. 93 included in it; and, psychologically considered,

merely involve and imply the fact of the ability of the mind to act in a

particular way; although it may properly be added, that the particular

form of action is rendered possible, and is in some cases necessitated by

the circumstances in which the mind is placed. It is to these varieties of

action, manifesting themselves under different circumstances, but having a

commonness of mental origin, that we give specific names; and speak, as I

think, with entire propriety of the power of perception, of the conceptive

power, of the powers, or faculties, or susceptibilities of the memory,

imagination, reasoning, and the like. And without employing such specific

names, no satisfactory analysis and history of the mind would be possible.

II. And further we confess to some reluctance in employing, to any great

extent, new terms. Sometimes this is necessary, but not very often. As a

general rule, it is better to employ the common and acknowledged

phraseology, only taling care to limit and explain it so far as it may be

liable to misapprehension, in consequence of a new and scientific

application. " It looks too much like affectation," says Locke, speaking

of the common and recognized forms of speech, "wholly to lay them by; and

philosophy itself, though it likes not a gaudy dress, yet, when it appears

in public, must have so much complacency as to be clothed in the ordinary

fashion and language of the country, so far as it can consist with truth

and perspicuity." III. We are not to suppose, when we speak of a power or

susceptibility of the mind, that, because the name of it is often a single

word, the power itself is for that reason a single or simple thing, and

unsusceptible of analysis. Some powers, such as the powers of Sensation

and Intuition, appear to be simple. Others, such as Imagination and

Reasoning, are obviously complex. In the latter there are a number of

mental acts, comprehended under one name; and it is necessary, therefore,

to analyze them, and to be

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94 TIHE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. come acquainted with their parts,

otherwise our notionS will become confused, and often erroneous. CHAPTER

IV. THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. ~ 56. Nature and importance of the

senses as a source of knowledge. IN connexion with what has been said in

the last two chapters on the powers of sensation and perception, it is

desirable to keep clearly in the mind the precise relation of the senses

to the origin, progress, and amount of our knowledge, and to possess, if

possible, a correct- understanding of their true value. In a certain

sense, the possession of the bodily organs with which we are furnished is

not essential and prerequisite to the possession of that knowledge which

we are accustomed to ascribe to them. There is nothing unwarrantable and

unreasonable in the sulpposition, that the knowledge which we have by

their means might have been possessed without their aid, either

immediately, or in some way altogether different. Their use and

indispensableness in the acquisition of a certain portion of what men are

permitted to know, is a matter of arrangement and appointment on the part

of our Maker. It is undoubtedly an evidence of the correctness of this

remark, that the Supreme Being has a full acquaintance with all those

outward objects which present themselves to our notice, without being

indebted to any material instrumentality and mediation. He perceives in

another way, or, rather, all knowledge is inherent in, and originally and

unalterably essential to, himself. It is not so, as we have reason to

believe, with any other beings, and certainly not with man. Althongh a

great part of his knowledge relates to material things, he is so formed,

and his constitution is so ordered, that he is wholly dependent for it on:

the senses.-Deprive ]him of the ear, and all nature be

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THE SENSES OF SMELL -AND TASTE. 95 comes voiceless and silent; deprive him

of the eye, and the sun and moon withdraw their light, and the universe

becomes darkened like sackcloth; deprive him of the sense of touch, and he

is then entirely insulated, and as much cut off from all communication

with others as if Jie were the only being in existence. ~ 57. Of the

connexion of the brain with sensation and perception. It may perhaps be

asked, Whether these views are intended to exclude the brain, as having a

connexion with the senses in the results which are here ascribed to them?

And this inquiry leads us to observe (what has been before alluded to),

that the brain is a prominent organ in the material part of the process of

sensation and of external perception. The senses evidently cannot be

separated from the nervous system. But the substance which is found in the

nerves, excepting the coat in which it is enveloped, is the same as in the

brain, being of the same soft and fibrous texture, and in continuity with

it. As a general statement, when the brain has been in any way injured,

the inward- sensation, which would otherwise be distinct on the

presentation of an external body, is imperfect. Also, if the nerve be

injured, or if its continuity be disturbed by the pressure of a tight

ligature, the effect is the same; a circumstance which goes to confirm the

alleged identity of substance in the two. The brain, therefore, and

whatever of the same substance is in continuity with it, particularly the

nerves, constitute the sensorial organ, which, in. the subordinate organs

of taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing, presents itself under

different modifications to external objects. On this organ, the sensorial,

as thus explained, an impression must be made before there can be

sensation and perception. An impression, for instance, is made on that

part of the sensorial organ called the auditory nerve, and a state of mind

immediately succeeds, which is variously termed, according to the view in

which it is

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96 THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. contemplated, either the sensation or

the perception of sound.-An impression is made by the rays of light on

that expansion of the optic nerve which forms what is called the RETINA of

the eye, and the intellectual principle is immediately brought into that

new position, which is termed visual perception, or a perception of sight.

—The hand is impressed on a body of an uneven and rough surface, and

immediately consequent on this application and pressure is that state of

mind which is termed a sensation or perception of roughness. ~ 58. Order

in which the senses are to be considered. In considering those mental

states which we possess by means of the senses, it is natural to begin

with that sense which will cause us the least difficulty in the analysis

of its results, and to proceed to others successively, as we find them

increasing in importance. It may not be altogether easy to apply this

principle with strictness, but it will answer all the purpose for which it

is here introduced, if we consider the senses in the following order, the

smell, taste, hearing, touch, and sight. The mind holds a communication

with the material world by means of the sense of smelling. All animal and

vegetable bodies (and the same will probably hold good of other bodies,

though generally in a less degree) are continually sending out effluvia of

great subtilty. These small particles are rapidly and widely scattered

abroad in the neighbourhood of the body from which they proceed. No

percipient being can come within the circumference occupied by these

continually moving and volatile atoms, without experiencing effects from

it. ~ 59. Of the sense and sensation of smell. The medium through which we

have the sensations and perceptions of smell, is the organ which is termed

the olfactory nerve, situated principally in the nostrils, but partly in

some continuous cavities. When any

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THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. 97 odoriferous particles, sent from

external objects, affect this organ, there is a certain state of mind

produced, which varies with the nature of the odoriferous bodies. But we

can no more infer, from the sensation itself merely, that there exists any

necessary connexion between the smell and the external objects, than that

there exists a connexion between the emotions of joy and sorrow and the

same objects. It might, indeed, be suggested to us by the change in our

mental states, that there must be some cause or antecedent to the change;

but this suggestion would be far from implying the necessity of a

corporeal cause. How, then, does it happen that we are not merely sensible

of the particular sensation, but refer it at once to some external object,

to the rose or the honeysuckle? In answer, it may be remarked, if we had

always been destitute of the senses of sight and touch, this reference

never could have been lade; but, having been furnished with them by the

beneficent Author of our being, we make this reference by experience. When

we have seen the rose, when we have been near to it and handled it, we

have uniformly been conscious of that state of mind which we term a

sensation of smell. When we have come into the neighbourhood of the

honeysuckle, or when it has been gathered and presented to us, we have

been reminded of its fragrance. And thus, having learned by experience

that the presence of the odoriferous body is always attended with the

sensations of smell, we form the habit, aided perhaps by some interior

instinctive tendencies, of attributing the sensations to that body as

their cause. ~ 60. Of perceptions of smell in distinction from sensations.

The mental reference spoken of in the last section is made with almost as

much promptness as if it were necessarily involved in the sensation

itself. It is at least so rapid, that we find ourselves unable to mark the

mind's progress from the inward feeling to the I.-E

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98 THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. conception of the outward cause. Nor is

this inability surprising, when we consider that we have repeated this

process, both in this and in analogous cases, from our earliest childhood.

No object has ever been present to us, capable of operating on the senses,

where this process has not been gone through. The result of this

long-continued and frequent repetition has been an astonishing quickness

in the mental action, so much so that the mind leaps outward with the

rapidity of lightning, to be present with, and to comprehend the causes of

the feeling within. This view, it will be seen, helps in illustrating the

nature of IPERCEPTION, as distinguished from sensation. The outlines of

that distinction have already been given; and every one of the senses, as

well as that now under consideration, will furnish proofs and

illustrations of it. Accordingly, when we are said to perceive the smell,

or to have perceptions of the smell of a body, the rapid process which has

been described is gone through, and the three things which were involved

in the definition of Perception already given are supposed to exist: (1.)

The presence of the odoriferons body, and the affection of its appropriate

organ; (2.) The change or sensation in the mind; and (3.) The reference of

the sensation to the external body as its cause. ~ 61. Of the sense and

the sensation of taste. The tongue, which is covered with numerous nervous

papille, forms essentially the organ of taste, although the papilla are

found scattered in other parts of the cavity of the mouth. The application

of any sapid body to this organ immediately causes in it a change or

affection; and this is at once followed by a mental affection or a new

state of the mind. In this way we have the sensations and perceptions, to

which we give the names sweet, bitter, sour, acrid, and others. Having

experienced the inward sensation, the affections of the mind are then

referred by us to some

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THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE. 99 thing external as their cause. We do

not, however, always, nor even generally, distinguish the qualities which

constitute this cause by separate and appropriate designations; but

express them by the names that are employed for the internal feeling,

viz., sweetness, bitterness, sourness, &c. This reference of what is

internally experienced to its external cause, is very rapidly made; so

that we at once say of one apple it is sweet, and of another it is sour.

Still it is to be kept in mind, that, in point of fact, it is subsequent,

both in the order of nature and of time, to the mere sensation; although

we may not be able, in consequence of its rapidity, to mark distinctly the

progress of the mental action from the one to the other. As in the case of

smells, which have already been remarked ulpon, the reference is the

result of our former experience. We say of one body it is sweet, and of

another it is sour, because we have ever observed that the mental states

indicated by those terms have always existed in connexion with the

presence of those bodies. Whenever, therefore, we say of any bodies that

they are sweet, bitter, sour, or apply any other epithets expressive of

sapid qualities, we mean to be understood to say, that such bodies are

fitted in the constitution of things to cause in the mind the sensations

of sweetness, bitterness, and sourness, or other sensations expressed by

denominations of taste. Or, in other words, that they are the established

antecedents of such mental experiences, as there is, further than this, no

necessary connexion between them. ~ 62. Design and uses of the senses of

smell and taste. It is not unprofitable to delay oftentimes, and

contemplate the designs and uses which nature has in view in her works.

Although the sense of smell may appear (and perhaps with sufficient

reason) to be of less importance than the other senses and the other parts

of the animal economy, it is not without its ends. There is evidently

design in the position of the organ

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100 THE SENSE OF SMELL AND TASTE. in reference to the effluvia, which are

the direct subjects of its action, it being placed in the inside of the

canal, where the air is continually forced in and out with every breath we

draw. The organ is precisely adapted, both in its nature and its place, to

its appointed medium of communication with other bodies; nor is this the

only mark of design attending it. This sense is frequently a source of

gratification; and although it is less keen and powerful in men than in

many inferior animals, it still has power enough to afford much assistance

in this respect, that it often warns us of the presence of objects which

experience has found to be injurious to us. The remark has been justly

made, that the senses both of taste and smell are of great use in

distinguishing bodies that cannot be distinguished by our other senses.

They are peculiarly quick and exact in their judgments, especially in

discerning, before we can ascertain it in any other way, the beginning and

progress of those changes which all bodies are constantly undergoing. But

in both of these senses design and utility are discoverable in reference

to food in particular. While the sense of smell guards the entrance of the

canal for breathing, the sense of taste has its station at the entrance of

the alimentary canal. Hence the food which we consume undergoes the

scrutiny of both; an intentional and benevolent provision for protecting

men and the animal creation generally against the introduction of what

would be noxious to them. CHAPTER V. THE SENSE OF HEARING. ~ 63. Organ of

the sense of hearing. FOLLOWING the order which has been proposed, we are

next to consider the sense of rEARING. And, in proceedingto the

consideration of this subject, the remark is a very obvious one, that we

should be unable

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THE SENSE OF HEARING. 101 to hear if we had not a sense designed for and

appropriate to, that result. The air, when put strongly in motion, is

distinctly perceived by the touch; but no impression which it could make

on that sense would cause that internal feeling which is termed a

sensation of sound. Our Creator, therefore, has taken care that these

sensations shall have their own organ; and it is obviously one of precise

and elaborate workmanship. The ear is designedly planted in a position

where, with the greatest ease, it takes cognizance of whatever is going on

in the contiguous atmosphere. When we examine it externally, we not only

find it thus favorably situated, but presenting a hollowed and capacious

surface, so formed as to grasp and gather in the undulations of air

continually floating and in motion around it. WVithout, however, delaying

to give a milnute description of the internal construction of the ear,

which belongs rather to the physiologist, it will answer our present

purpose merely to add, that these undulations are conducted byit through

various windings, till they are brought in a state of concentration, as it

were, against the.membrane called the TYMPANUM. It is worthy of notice,

that on the internal surface of this membrane (the drum, as it is

popularly called) there is a nerve spread out in a manner analogous to the

expansion of the optic nerve at the bottom of the eye. Whether this

nervous expansion be indispensably necessary to the result or not, it is

certain that a pressure upon or affection of the tympanum by the external

air is followed by a new state of the mind, known as the sensation or

perception of sound. ~ 64. Nature of sonorous bodies, and the medium of

the communication of sound. When we leave the bodily organ, and, looking

outward, inquire still firther for the origin of the sensations which we

have by means of the ear, we find them attributable ultimately to the

presence and influence of the substances around us. Those uncdula

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102 THE SENSE OF HEARING. tions of air, which impinge upon the tympanum,

and without which there is no sensation of sound, are caused by the

vibrations or oscillations of the particles of certain bodies. The

material substances which have this quality are termed sonorous, as wood,

brass, iron, &c.; but it exists in different bodies in very various

degrees. The quality of sonorousness, therefore, in any substance, is

properly a susceptibility of motion among its own parts. When it is

forcibly struck, this motion exists first in itself, and is afterward

communicated to the circumambient air. The movement of the air which is

thus caused, is again communicated, like the concentric waves of water

agitated by a stone thrown into it, to other portions successively, till

it reaches the ear. The air, accordingly, is the medium of communication

between the sonorous body and the tympanumn of the ear. It is true that

many solid bodies are good conductors of sound as well as tbe atmosphere;

but as portions of air, through which the vibratory motion must of course.

pass, are in all cases interposed between that organ and the sounding

body, it is not necessary to dwell upon them here. It is sufficient for

our present purpose merely to understand, that there is in every sounding

body, in the first place, a vibratory motion among its own particles from

some cause or other; that this vibration or undulation is communicated

from the sounding body to the air, and from one portion of air to another,

till it reaches the organ of hearing. Why the internal sensation should at

once follow the completion of this process is another inquiry, which we do

not undertake to explain. We have before us the antecedent and the

consequent, the affection of the organ of hearing by an outward impulsei

and the new mental state within; but the reason of this invariable

connexion in two things that are entirely distinct and different, is a

matter beyond our limited comprehension.

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THE SENSE OF HEARING. 103 ~ 65. Varieties of the sensation of sound. The

sensations which we thus become possessed of by the hearing, are far more

nLumerous than the words and the forms of speech, having relation to them

in different languages, would lead us to suppose. It will help to

illustrate this subject if we recur a moment to the sense of TASTE. The

remark has somewhere been made to this effect, and probably with much

truth, that if a person were to examine five hundred different wines, he

would hardly find two of them of precisely the same flavour. The diversity

is almost endless, although there is no language which distinguishes each

variety of taste by a separate name. It is the same in respect to the

sensations of sound. These sensations exhibit the greatest variety,

although the differences are too minute to be separated and distinctly

represented by language. These views will appear the less objectionable,

when it is remembered that sounds differ from each other both in the tone

and in the strength of the tone. It is remarked by Dr. RPeid, that five

hundred variations of tone may be perceived by the ear; also an equal

number of variations in the strength of the tone; making, by a combination

of the tones and of the degrees of strength, many thousands of simple

sounds, differing either in tone or strength. In a perfect tone, a great

many undulations of elastic air are required, which must be of equal

duration and extent, and follow each other with perfect regularity. Each

undulation is made up of the advance and retreat of innumerable particles,

whose motions are all uniform in direction, force, and time. Accordingly,

there will be varieties also and shades of difference in the same tone,

arising from the position and manner of striking the sonorous body, from

the constitution of the elastic medium, and from the state of the organ of

hearing. Different instruments, such as a flute, a violin, and a bass

viol, may all sound the same tone, and yet be easily distinguishable. A

considerable number of hu

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104 THE SENSE OF HEARING. man voices may sound the same note, and with

equal strength, and yet there will be some difference. The same voice,

while it maintains the proper distinctions of sound, may yet be varied

many ways by sickness or health, youth or age, and other alterations in

our bodily condition to which we are incident. ~ 66. Manner in which we

learn the place of sounds. It is a fact worthy of notice in respect to

sounds, that we should not know, previous to all experience on the

subject, whether a sound came from the right or left, from above or below,

from a smaller or a greater distance. And this will appear the less

surprising, when we remember, that the undulations of air are always

changed from their original direction by the channels and the windings of

the ear before they strike e the tympanum. Abundant facts confirm this

statement. Dr. Reid mentions, that once, as he was lying in bed, having

been put into a fright, he heard his own heart beat. He took it to be some

one knocking at the door, and arose, and opened the door oftener than once

before he discovered that the sound was in his own breast. Some traveller

has related, that when he first heard the roaring of a lion in a desert

wilderness, not seeing the aninmal, he did not know on what side to

apprehend danger, as the sound seemed to him to proceed from the ground,

and to enclose a circle, of which he and his companions stood in the

centre. It is by custom or experience that we learn to distinguish the

place of things, and, in some measure also, their nature, by means of

their sound. It is thus that we learn that one noise is in a contiguous

room, that another is above our heads, and another is in the street. And

what seems to be an evidence of this is, that when we are in a strange

place, after all our experience, we very frequently find ourselves

mistaken in these respects. If a man born deaf were suddenly made to hear,

he would probably consider his first sensations of

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THE SENSE OF HEARING. 105 sound as originally wholly within himself. But,

in process of time, we learn not only to refer the origin of sounds to a

position above or below, to the right or left, but to connect each

particular sound with a particular external cause, referring one to a bell

as its appropriate external cause, another to a flute, another to a

trumpet. ~ 67. Application of these views to the art of ventriloquism. We

are naturally led to make a few remarks here in explanation of

VENTRILoQuI'M, a well-known art, by which persons can so modify their

voice as to make it appear to their audience to proceed from different

objects, distances, and directions. There is no peculiarity of structure

in ventriloquists, as is often supposed; except that the capacity of the

chest and the lmngs is sometimes found to be greater than usual. It is

also true, that the power and activity of the muscles, connected with the

organs of speech and with the chest and lungs, is considerably increased

by frequent exercise. Nevertheless, the great natural requisite on the

part of the ventriloquist is to be able to mimic sounds; and he will be

likely to succeed nearly in proportion to his skill in this particular.

The secret, then, of his acoustic deceptions, supposing him to be capable

of exact imitation, will be sufficiently understood by referring to the

statement maiaintained in the preceding section, viz., That, previous to

experience, we are unable to refer sounds to any particular external

cause. The sound itself never gives us any direct and immediate indication

of the place, or distance, or direction of the sonorous body. It is only

by experience, it is only by the association of place with sound, that the

latter becomes an indication of the former. Now supposing the

ventriloquist to possess a delicate ear, which is implied in his ability

to mimic sounds, he soon learns, by careful observation, the difference

which change of place causes in the same sound. tHaving in this way

ascertained the particular moduE 2

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106 THE SENSE OF HEARING. lations of sound, which, in accordance with the

experience of men and the associations they have formed, are appropriate

to ally particular distances, direction, or object, it is evident,

whenever he exactly or very nearly imitates such modulations, that the

sounds must appear to his audience to come from such distance, object, or

direction. One part of the art, however, consists in controlling the

attention of persons present, and in directing that attention to some

particular place by a remark, motion, or some other llethod. If, for

instance, the sound is to come from under a tumbler or hat, the performer

finds it important to have their attention directed to that particular

object, which affords him an opportunity for the exercise of all those

associations which they have formed with any sound coming from a very

confined place. All, then, that remains for him to do, is to give his

voice a dull modulation and on a low key, wLich we know from our

experience to be the character of confined sounds. Then there seems to be

a voice speaking under a tumbler or hat; and if any person should, either

intentionally or unintentionally, lift these articles up, the

ventriloquist immediately utters himself more distinctly and freely, like

a person who has been very munch confined on being readmitted into the

free and open air. It is also necessary, when his face is towards his

auditors, that he should make use chiefly of the muscles of the throat; an

outward and visible moving of the lips would munch weaken the deception. ~

68. Uses of hearing and its connexion with oral language. Although, as in

the cases just mentioned, the artifices of men may sometimes impose upon

this organ and lead its decisions astray, it is one, in the ordinary calls

for its exercise, of exceeding value. One of the distinguished benefits of

the sense of hearing is, that, in consequence of it, we are enabled to

hold intercourse with each other by means of spoken language, without

which the advancement of the human mind

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THE SENSE OF HEARING. 107 must have inevitably been very limited. It is by

means of speech that we express our feelings to the little company of our

neighbours and our own family; and without it this pleasant and cheering

intercourse must be almost entirely suspended. Not limited in its

beneficial results to families and neighbourhoods, it has been the medium

of the transmission of thought from age to age, from generation to

generation. So that in one age has been concentrated the result of all the

researches, the combination of the wisdom of all the preceding. 1" There

is, without all doubt," it has been observed, "a chain of the thoughts of

human kind, from the origin of the world down to the moment at which we

exist, a chain not less universal than that of the generation of every

being that lives. Ages have exerted their influence on ages; nations on

nations; truths on errors; errors on truths." Whether oral language was an

original invention of man, or whether, in the first instance, it was a

power bestowed lupon him by his Creator and coeval with the humnan race,

the ear must, in either case, have been the primary recipient.-The faculty

of speech, so necessary and so beneficial, could not have existed, either

by inventiori or by communication, without the sense of hearing. And hence

it happens, that all those who are born deaf are without speech. Their

inability to speak is not in general the result of a defect in the organs

of speech, but because they cannot hear others, and thus imitate the

sounds they utter. CHAPTER VI. TIE SENSE OF TOUCH. ~ 69. Of the sense of

touch and its sensations in general. WE are next to consider the sense of

TOJVCH. The principal organ of this sense is the hand, although it is not

limited to that part of our frame, but is diffused

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108 THE SENSE OF TOUCH. over the whole body. The hand principally arrests

our attention as the organ of this sense, because, being furnished with

various articulations, it is easily moveable by the muscles, and can

readily adapt itself to the various changes of form in the objects to

which it is applied. The senses which have hitherto been examined are more

simple and uniform in their results than that of the touch. lBy the ear we

merely possess that sensation which we denominate hearing; we have the

knowledge of sounds, and that is all. By the palate we acquire a knowledge

of tastes; and by the sense of sinelling we become acquainted with the

odours of bodies. The knowledge which is directly acquired by all these

senses, is limited to the qualities which have been mentioned. By the

sense of touch, on the contrary, we become acquainted, not with one

merely, but with a variety of qualities or attributes, such as the

following: heat and cold, hardness and softness, roughness and smoothness,

resistance, extension, and figure; and, in particular, it is in the

application of this sense that we find an occasion furnished for the

origin of the antecedent and more-general notion of externality. ~ 70.

Idea of externality suggested in connexion with the touch. If man were

possessed of the sense of smell alone, it would be found that the earliest

elements of his knowledge consisted exclusively in sensations of odours.

According, however, as these sensations were agreeable or disagreeable, he

would acquire the additional ideas of pleasure and pain. And, having

experienced pleasure and pain, we may suppose that this would subsequently

give rise both to the feelings and the abstract conceptions of desire and

aversion. -But if he had no other sense, all these feelings would seem to

him to be internal, not only in their experience, but their origin; in

other words, to be mere emanations from the soul itself; and he would be

incapable of referring them to an external cause.-If he were possessed of

the sense of hearing alone, the result would be similar;

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THE SENSE OF TOUCH. 109 his existence would then seem to consist

essentially of sounds, as in the other case it would be made up of odours;

nor, indeed, by the aid of merely both these senses combined, would he be

able to form an idea of externality or ontness. But this idea is a most

important one; it is the connecting thought, which introduces us to an

acquaintance with a new form of existence, different from that interior

existence which we variously call by the names spirit, mind, or soul. This

idea first arises in the mind, although it is not directly addressed to

that sense, by means of the touch. There is no question that the other

senses might of themselves furnish a basis of considerable extent for the

mental action. By means of their aid alone, such a developement of mind

might take place, that we could perceive, think, compare, abstract,

reason, and will. And although, mnder such circumstances, everything would

seem to us to be internal, yet we should probably find the mental action

mnemlbarrassed and easy, and a source of pleasure. But, after a time, we

decide to move the limbs in a particular direction, and to press the hand

or some other part:of the body through some hard and resisting substance.

It is when we attempt to do anything of this kindl, which calls the sense

of touch into action, that we find the wonted series of thoughts

disturbed, the desire checked, and the volition counteracted. It is

probably at this precise position of the mind, with scarcely the interval

of a momentary pause of wonder, that there arises vividly in the soul a

new thought, a new state of mind, which we call the idea of externality or

outness. It is the sense of touch which impinges upon the obstacle that

stands in our way; and no other sense admits of this peculiar application.

It is thus the means of partially disturbing the previous connexion and

tendency of thought, and of giving occasion for the rise of the new idea

which is under consideration. And this idea, called into existence under

these -circumstances, becomes associated with all those

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110 THE SENSE OF TOUCH. notions which we subsequently form of matter. —It

may be of some importance to add here, that we shall have occasion to

refer to this idea again in a subsequent chapter on the Intuitional or

Suggestional power. And the idea or thought, being thus originated on the

appropriate occasion of its origin, and not by an arbitrary act of

volition merely, but by the necessities of our mental existence, is an

affirmation in the soul itself of the reality of that for which it stands,

however difficult it may be to define or describe it. It is to be

remembered, that externality is not a direct object of the touch, as

extension and hardness are, but that the tactual sense simply furnishes

the occasiowm on which it is formed. ~ 71. Origin of the notion of

extension, and of form or figure. The idea of EXTENSION has its origin by

means of the sense of touch. When the touch is applied to bodies, when in

the intermediate parts there is a continuity of the same substance, we

necessarily form that notion. It is not, however, to be imagined that

Extension, as it exists outwardly, and the corresponding notion in the

mind, actually resemble each other. So far from any imitation and copying

from one to the other, or resemblance in any way, there is a radical and

utter diversity. As to outward, material extension, it is not necessary to

attend to it here; our business at present is with the corresponding

mental state. Nor will it be necessary to delay even upon that; the more

we multiply words upon it, the more obscure it becomes. As it is a simple

mental state, we cannot resolve it into others, and in that way make it

clearer by defining it. We must refer in this case, as in others like it,

to each one's personal experience. It will be better understood in that

way than by any form of words. The notion of extension is intimately

connected with, and may be considered in some sort the foundation of, that

of the FOyRM or figure of bodies. —Dr.

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THE SENSE OF TOUCHI. 11 Brown somewhere calls the Form of bodies their

relation to each other in space. And it is very true that the form of

bodies involves the fact of the relation of their parts to each other. But

we do not propose here to consider form in its outward existence, but only

the idea or mental state which corresponds to it. The notion which we have

of the form of things is subsequent, in the order of nature, to that which

we have of their extension. The former could not exist without the

antecedent existence of the latter. ]Both are simple; both are

undefinable; and both are to be ascribed in their origin to the occasion

furnished by the sense of touch. ~ 72. On the sensations of heat and cold.

Among the states of mind which are usually classed with the intimations of

the sense under consideration, are those which are connected with changes

in the temperature of our bodies. Some writers, it is true, have been

inclined to dissent from this arrangement, and have hazarded an opinion

that they onght not to be ascribed to the sense of TOUCH; but Dr. Reid, on

the contrary, who gave to our sensations the most careful and patient

attention, has decidedly assigned to them this origin. Among other

remarks, he has expressed himself on this subject to this effect. " The

words HEAT and COLD," he remarks (Inquiry into the Human Mind, chap. v.),

" have each of them two significations; they sometimes signify certain

sensations of the mind, which can have no existence when they are not

felt, nor can exist anywhere but in the mind or sentient being; but more

frequently they signify a quality in bodies, which, by the laws of nature,

occasions the sensations of heat and bold in us; a quality which, though

connected by custom so closely with the sensation that we cannot without

difficulty separate them, yet hath not the least resemblance to it, and

may continue to exist when there is no sensation at all. "The sensations

of heat and cold are perfectly

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112 TIHE SENSE OF TOUCII. known, for they neither are, nor can be,

anything else than what we feel them to be; but the qualities in bodies

which we call heat and colc are unknown. They are only conceived by us as

unknown causes or occasions of the sensations to which we give the same

names. But, though common sense says nothing of the nature of the

qualities, it plainly dictates the existence of them; and to deny that

there can be heat and cold when they are not felt, is an absurdity too

gross to merit confutation. For what could be more absurd than to say that

the thermometer cannot rise or fall unless some person be present, or that

the coast of Guinea would be as cold as Nova Zembla if it had no

inhabitants a "It is the business -of philosophers to investigate, by

proper experiments and induction, what heat and cold are in bodies. And

whether they make heat a particular element diffused through nature, and

accumulated in the heated body, or whether they make it a certain

vibration of the parts of the heated body; whether they determine that

heat and cold are contrary qualities, as the sensations undoubtedly are

contrary, or that heat only is a quality, and cold its privation; these

questions are within the province of philosophy; for common sense says

nothing on the one side or the other. C" But, whatever be the nature of

that quality in bodies which we call heat, we certainly know this, that it

cannot in the least resemble the sensation of heat. It is no less absurd

to suppose a likeness between the sensation and the quality, than it would

be to suppose that the pain of the gout resembles a square or a triangle.

The simplest man that hath common sense does not imagine the sensation of

heat, or anything that resembles that sensation, to be in the fire. iHe

only imagines that-there is something in the fire which makes him and

other sentient'beings feel heat. Yet as the name of heat, in common

language, more frequently and more properly signifies this unknown

something in the fire than the sensation occasioned

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THE SENSE OF TOUCI. 113 by it, he justly laughs at the philosopher who

denies that there is any heat in the fire, and thinks that he speaks

contrary to common sense." ~ 73. On the sensations of hardness and

softness. "Let us next consider," continues the same writer, "I HARDNESS

and SOFTNESS; by which words we always understand real properties or

qualities of bodies, of which we have a distinct conception. " When the

parts of a body adhere so firmly that it cannot easily be made to change

its figure, we call it hiard; when its parts are easily displaced, we call

it soft. This is the notion which all mankind have of hardness and

softness: they are neither sensations nor like any sensation; they were

real qualities before they were perceived by touch, and continue to be so

when they are not perceived: for if any man will affirm that diamonds were

not hard until they were handled, who would reason with him? " There is,

no doubt, a sensation, by which we perceive a body to be hard or soft.

This sensation of hardness may easily be had by pressing one's hand

against a table, and attending to the feeling that ensues, setting aside,

as much as possible, all thoughts of the table and its qualities, or of

any external thing; But it is one thing to have the sensation, and another

to attend to it and make it a distinct object of reflection. The first is

very easy; the last, in most cases, extremely difficult. "VWe are so

accustomed to use the sensation as a sign, and to pass immediately to the

hardness signified, that, as far as appears, it was never made an object

of thought, either by the vulgar or by philosophers; nor has it a name in

any language. There is no sensation more distinct or more frequent; yet it

is never attended to, but passes through the mind instantaneously, and

serves only to introduce that quality in bodies which, by a law of our

constitution, it suggests. " There are, indeed, some cases, wherein it is

no dif

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114 THE SENSE OF TOUCH. ficult matter to attend to the sensation

occasioned by the hardness of a body; for instance, when it is so violent

as to occasion considerable pain: then nature calls upon us to attend to

it; and then we acknowledge that it is a mere sensation, and can only be

in a sentient being. If a man runs his head with violence against a

pillar, I, appeal to him whether the pain he feels resembles the hardness

of the stone; or if he can conceive anything like what he feels to be in

an inanimate piece of matter. "The attention of the mind is here entirely

turned towards the painful feeling; and, to speak in the common language

of mankind, he feels nothing in the stone, but feels a violent pain in his

head. It is quite otherwise when he leans his head gently against the

pillar; for then he will tell you that he feels nothing in his head, but

feels hardness in the stone. Ilath he not a sensation in this case as well

as in the other Undoubtedly he hath; but it is a sensation which nature

intended only as a sign of something in the stone; and, accordingly, he

instantly fixes his attention upon the thing signified; and cannot,

without great difficulty, attend so much to the sensation as to be

persuaded that there is any such thing distinct from the hardness it

signifies. " But, however difficult it may be to attend to this fugitive

sensation, to stop its rapid progress, and to disjoin it from the external

quality of hardness, in whose shadow it is apt immediately to hide itself:

this is what a philosopher by pains and practice must attain, otherwise it

will be impossible for him to reason justly on this subject, or even to

understand what is here advanced. For the last appeal, in subjects of this

nature, must be to what a man feels and perceives in his own mind." ~ 74.

Of certain indefinite feelings sometimes ascribed to the touch. In

connexion with these views on the sensations of touch, it is proper to

remark, that certain feelings have been ascribed to that sense which are


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THE SENSE OF TOUCH. 115 of a character too indefinite to admit of a

positive and undoubted classification. Although they clearly have their

place in the general arrangement which has been laid down, with the states

of mind which we are now considering; that is to say, are rather of an

external and material, than of an internal origin; still they do not so

evidently admit of an assignment to a particular sense. Those sensations

to which we now refer (if it be proper to use that term in application to

them) appear to have their origin in the human system considered as a

whole, made up of bones, flesh, muscles, the senses, &c., rather than to

be susceptible of being traced to any particular part. Of this description

are the feelings expressed by the terms uneasiness, weariness, weakness,

sickness, and those of an opposite character, such as ease, hilarity,

health, vigour, and the like. ~ 75. Relation between the sensation and

what is outwardly signified. ~We here return a moment to the subject of

the relation between the internal sensation and the outward object; and

again repeat that the mental state and the corresponding outward object

are altogether diverse. This view holds good in the case of the secondary,

as well as of the primary qualities of matter. Whether we speak of

extension, or resistance, or heat, or colour, or roughness, there are, in

all cases alike, two things, the internal affection and the outward

quality; but they are utterly distinct, totally without likeness to each

other. But how it happens that one thing, which is totally different from

another, can nevertheless give us a knowledge of that from which it

differs, it would be a waste of time to attempt to explain. Our knowledge

is undoubtedly limited to the mere fact. This is one of those difficult

but decisive points in MENTAL PHILOSOPHY, Of which it is essential to

possess a precise and correct understanding. The letters which cover over

the pages of a book are a very different thing from the thought, and the

combinations of thought, which they stand for. The accountant's col

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116 THE SENSE OF TOUCH. umns of numerals are not identical with the

quantities and their relations which they represent.'And so in regard to

the mind; all its acts are of one kind, and what they stand for is of

another. The mind, in all its feelings and operations, is governed by its

own laws, and characterizes its efforts by the essential elements of its

own nature. Nothing which is seen or heard, nothing which is the subject

of taste, or touch, or any other sense, nothing material which can be

imagined to exist in any place or in any form, can furnish the least

positive disclosure either of its intrinsic nature or of the mode of its

action. What, then, is the relation between the sensation and the outward

object, between the perception and the thing perceived? Evidently that of

the sign and the thing signified. And as in a multitude of cases, the sign

may give a knowledge of its object, without any other grounds of such

knowledge than mere institution or appointment, so it is in this.. The

mind, maintaining its appropriate action, and utterly rejecting the

intervention of all images and:visible representations, except what are

outward and material, and totally distinct from itself both in place and

nature, is, notwithstanding, susceptible of the knowledge of things

exterior, and can form an acquaintance with the universe of matter. A

misapprehension in this respect, the mistaken supposition of the mind's

either receiving actual filmy images from external objects, or being

itself transformed into the likeness of such images, has been, in times

past, the source of much confusion and contention. [But that opinion,

however prevalent it may have been once, is mere hypothesis;'it has not

the slightest well-fpunded evidence in its favour. Still we can reject it

wholly from our belief, and from all influence on our belief, only by

guarding against early associations, by a rigid self-inspection, and by

carefully separating the material and the immaterial, the qualities of

mind and of matter.

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organ of sight, and the uses or benefits of that sense. OF those

instruments of external perception with which a benevolent Providence has

favoured us, a high rank must be given to the sense of seeing. If we were

restricted in the process of acquiring knowledge to the informations of

the touch merely, how many embarrassments would attend our progress, and

how slow it would prove! Having never possessed sight, it would be many

years before the most acute and active person could form an idea of a

mountain, or even of a large edifice. But by the additional help of the

sense of seeing, he not only observes the figure of large buildings, but

is in a moment possessed of all the beauties of a wide and variegated

landscape. The organ of this sense is the eye. On a slight examination,

the eye is found to be a sort of telescope, having its distinct parts, and

discovering throughout the most exquisite construction. The medium on

which this organ acts are rays of light, everywhere diffused, and always

advancing, if they meet with no opposition, in direct lines. The eye, like

all the other senses, not only receives externally the medium on which it

acts, but carries the rays of light into itself; and, on principles purely

scientific, refracts and combines them anew. It does not, however, fall

within our plan to give a minute description of the eye, which belongs

rather to the physiologist; but such a description, with the statement of

the uses of the different parts of the organ, must be to a candid and

reflecting mind a most powerful argument in proof of the existence and

goodness of the Supreme Being. How wonderful,

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118 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. among other things, is the adaptation of the rays

of light to the eye! If these rays were not of a texture extremely small,

they would cause much pain to the organ of vision, into which they so

rapidly pass. If they were not capable of exciting within us the

sensations of colour, we should be deprived of much of that high

satisfaction which we now take in beholding surrounding objects; showing

forth, wherever they are to be found, the greatest variety and the utmost

richness of tints. ~~ 77. Statement of the mode or process in viGual

perception. In the process of vision, the rays of light, coming from

various objects and in various directions, strike, in the first place, on

the pellucid or transparent part of the ball of the eye. If they were to

continue passing on precisely in the same direction, they would produce

merely one mingled and indistinct expanse of colour. In their progress,

however, through the crystalline humour, they are refracted or bent from

their former direction, and are distributed to certain focal points on the

retina, which is a white, fibrous expansion of the optic nerve. The rays

of light, coming from objects in the field of vision, whether it be more

or less extensive, as soon as they have been distributed on their distinct

portions of the retina, and have formed an image there, are immediately

followed by the sensation or perception which is termed sight. The image

which is thus pictured on the retina, is the last step which we are able

to designate in the material part of the process in visual perception; the

mental state follows, but it is not in our power to trace, even in the

smallest degree, any physical connexion between the optical image and the

corresponding state of the mind.-All that we can say in this case is, that

we suppose them to hold to each other the relation of antecedent and

consequent by an ultimate law of our constitution.

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 119 ~ 78. Of the original and acquired perceptions of

sight. In speaking of those sensations and perceptions, the origin of

which is generally attributed to the sense of sight, it is necessary to

make a distinction between those which are ORIGINAL and those which are

ACQUIRED. Nothing is properly original with the sense of sight but the

sensations of colour, such as red, blue, yellow. These sensations (or

perceptions, as they are otherwise called, when the internal feeling is

combined with a reference to the external cause) are exceedingly numerous.

In this respect, the intimations of the sense of sight stand on the same

footing with those of taste and hearing; although distinctive names, in

consequence of the difficulty of accurately separating and drawing the

line between each, are given only in a few cases. All the sensations of

colour are original with the sight, and are not to be ascribed to any

other sense. A part, however, of that knowledge, which we attribute to the

sight, and which has the appearance of being immediate and original in

that sense, is not so. Some of its alleged perceptions are properly the

results of sensations, combined not only with the usual reference to an

external cause, but with various other acts of the judgment. In some cases

the combination of the acts of the judgment with the visual sensation is

carried so far, that there is a sort, of transfer to the sight of the

knowledge which has been obtained from some other source. And not

unfrequently, in consequence of a long and tenacious association, we are

apt to look upon the knowledge thus acquired as truly original in the

seeing power. This will suffice, perhaps, as a statement of the general

fact, while the brief examination of a few instances will help to the more

thorough understanding of those acquired perceptions of the sight which

are here referred to. ~ 79. The idea of extension not originally from

sight. It is well known that there is nothing more coinmon than for a

person to say that he sees the length

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120 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. or breadth of any external object; that he sees

its extent, &c. These expressions appearto imply (and undoubtedly are so

understood) that extension is a direct object of sight. There is no

question that such is the common sentiment, viz., that the outlines and

surface which bodies permanently expand and present to the view, are truly

seen. An opinion different from this might even incur the charge of great

absurdity. But, properly, the notion of extension, as we have already

seen, has its origin in the sense of touch. Being a simple and elementary

thought, it is not susceptible of definition; nor, when we consider

extension as existing outwardly and materially, can we make it a matter of

description without running into the confusion of using synonymous words.

But, whatever it is (and certainly there can be neither ignorance nor

disagreement. on that point, however much language may fail of conveying

our ideas), the knowledge of it is not to be ascribed originally to the

sight. The notion of extension is closely connected with externality. It

is not possible to form the idea of extension from mere consciousness, or

a reflection on what tales place within us. But making a muscular effort,

and thus applying the touch to some resisting body, we first have the

notion of outness; and either from the same application of that sense, or

when we have repeated it continuously on the same surface, we have the

additional notion of its being extended or spread out. If a man were fixed

immoveably in one place, capable of smelling, tasting, hearing, and

seeing, but without tactual impressions originating from a resisting body,

he would never possess a knowledge of either. Having first gained that

knowledge from the touch in the way just mentioned, he learns in time what

appearance extended bodies (which are, of course, coloured bodies) make to

the eye. At a very early period, having ascertained that all coloured

bodies are spread out or extended, he invariably asso

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 121 ciates the idea of extension with that coloured

appearance. Hence he virtually and practically transfers the knowledge

obtained by one sense to another; and even, after a time, imagines

extension to be a direct object of sight, when, in fact, what is seen is

only a sign of it, and merely suggests it. An affection of the sense of

touch is the true and original occasion of the origin of this notion; and

it becomes a;l idea of sight only by acquisition or transference. ~ 80. Of

the knowledge of the figure of bodies by the sight. Views similar to those

which have been already advanced will evidently apply to, the figure of

bodies. We acquire a knowledge of the figure or form of bodies originally

by the sense of touch. But it cannot be doubted that this knowledge is

often confidently attributed to the sense of sight as well as the touch.

Although there is reason to believe that men lalour under a mistake in

this, it is not strange, when we trace back our mental history to its

earlier periods, that such, a misapprehension should exist. A solid body

presents to the eye nothing but. a certain disposition of colours dnd

Iight. We may imagine ourselves to.see the prominences or cavities in such

bodies, when in truth we see only the light or the shade occasioned by

them. This light and shade, however, we learn by experience to consider

-as the sign of a certain solid figure.-A proof of the truth of this

statement is, that a painter, by carefully imitating the distribution of

light and shade which he sees in objects, will make his work very

naturally and exactly represent not only the general outline of a body,

but its prominences, depressions, and other irregularities. And yet his

delineation, which, by the distribution of light and shade, gives such

various representations, is on a smooth and plain surface. It was a

problem submitted by Mlr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke, whether a blind man, who

has learned the difference between a cube and a sphere by-the touch, can,

on being suddenly restored to sight, distinguish

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122 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. between them, and tell which is the sphere and

which is the cube, by the aid of what may be called his new sense merely.

And the answer of Mr. Locke was, in agreement with the opinion of Molyneux

himself, that he cannot. The blind man knows what impressions the cube and

sphere make on the organ of touch, and by that sense is able to

distinguish between them; but, as he is ignorant what impression they will

make on the organ of sight, he is not able, by the latter sense alone, to

tell which is the round body and which is the cubic. It was remarked, that

solid bodies present to the eye nothing but a certain disposition of light

and colours. -It seems to follow from this, that the first idea which will

be conveyed to the mind on seeing a globe, will be that of a circle on a

plain surface, but variously shadowed with different degrees of light.

This imperfect idea is corrected in this way.. Combining the suggestions

of the sense of touch with those of sight, we learn by greater experience

what kind of appearance solid convex bodies will make to us. That

appearance becomes to the mind the sign of the presence of a globe; so

that we have an idea of a round body by a very rapid mental correction,

whereas the notion first conveyed to the mind is truly that of a plain,

circular surface, on which there is a variety in the dispositions of light

and shade. It is an evidence of the correctness of this statement, that in

paintings, plain surfaces, variously shaded, represent convex bodies, and

with great truth and exactness. It appears, then, that extension and

figure are originally perceived, not by sight, but by touch. We do not

judge of them by sight until we have learned by our experience that

certain visible appearances always accompany and signify the existence of

extension and of figure. This knowledge we acquire at a very early period

in life; so much so, that we lose, in a great measure, the memory both of

its commencement and progress.

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 123 ~ 81. Measurements of magnitude by the eye. What

has been said naturally leads us to the consideration of MAGNITUDE. This

is a general term for Extension, when we conceive of it not only as

limited or bounded, but as related to and compared with other objects.

Although we make use of the eye in judging of it, it is to be kept in

mind, that the knowledge of magnitude is not an original intimation of the

sight, but is at first acquired by the aid of touch. So well known is

this, that it has been common to consider Magnitude under the two heads of

tangible or real, and visible or apparent; the tangible magnitude being

always the same, but the visible varying with the distance of the object.

A man of six feet stature is always that height, whether he be a mile

distant, or half a mile, or near at hand; the change of place making no

change in his real or tangible magnitnude. But the visible or apparent

magnitude of this man may be six feet or two feet, as we view him present

with us and immediately in our neighbourhood, or at two miles' distance;

for his magnitude appears to our eye greater or less, according as he is

more or less removed. In support of the doctrine that the knowledge of

magnitude is not an original intimation of the sight, but is at first

acquaired by the aid of touch, we may remark, that, in judging of

magnitude by the sight, we are much influenced not merely by the visual

perception, but particularly by comparison with other objects, the size of

which is known or supposed to be known. "I remember once," says Dr.

Abercrombie (Intellec. Powers, part ii., sect. 1), " having occasion to

pass along Ludgate Hill, when the great door of St. Paul's was open, and

several persons were standing in it. They appeared to be very little

children, but, on coming up to them, were found to be full-grown persons.

In the mental process which here took place, the door had been assumed as

a known magnitude, and the other objects judged of by it. Had I attended

to the door being much larger than any door that

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124 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. one is in the habit of seeing, the mind would have

made allowance for the apparent size of the persons; and, on the other

hand, had these been known to be full-grown persons, a judgment would have

been formed of the size of the door." Among the multitude of instances

which might be adduced in illustration of the doctrine under notice, the

following statement, to be found in the seventh number of the Edinburgh

Journal of Science, is a somewhat striking one. In examining a dioramic

representation of the inside of Rochester Cathedral, which produced the

finest effect, from the entire exclusion of all extraneous light and of

all objects, excepting those on the picture itself, the writer of the

statement referred to was struck with an appearance of distortion in the

perspective, which he ascribed to the canvass not hanging vertically. Upon

mentioning this to the gentleman who exhibited the picture, he offered to

walk ini front of it, and strike its surface with the palm of his hand, to

show that the canvass was freely suspended. Upon doing this, a very

remarkable deception, or illusion rather, took place. As his hand passed

along, it gradually became larger and larger till it reached the middle,

when it became enormously large. It then diminished till it reached the

other end of the canvass. As the hand moved towards the middle of the

picture, it touched the parts of the picture more and more remote from the

eye of the observer; and, consequently, the mind referred the hand and the

object in contact with it to the same remote distance; and, consequently,

gave it a fictitious magnitude, corresponding with the visible figure it

presented, combined with the supposition of its being placed at a

distance. (See Edin. Journ. of Science, N o. vii., p. 90, and Art.

Science, Edin. Encyc.) ~ 82. Of objects seen in the mist, and of the sun

and moon in the horizon. In accordance with the above-mentioned principle,

it happens, that objects seen by a person in a mist

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 125 seem larger than life. Their faint appearance

rapidly conveys to the mind the idea of being considerably removed,

although they are actually near to us. And the mind immediately draws the

conclusion (so rapidly as to seem'a simple and original perception), that

the object, having the same visible or apparent magnitude, and yet

supposed to be at a considerable distance, is greater than other objects

of the same class. So that it. is chiefly the -view of the mind, a law or

habit of the intellect, which in this particular case gives a fictitious

expansion to bodies; although it is possible that the result may in part

be attributed to a difference in the refraction of the rays of light,

caused by their passing through a denser and less uniform medium than

usual. These remarks naturally remind us of the wellknown fact, that the

sun and moon seem larger in the horizon than in the meridian. A number of

reasons may be given for this appearance.-(1.) The horizon may seem more

distant than the zenith, in consequence of intervening objects. We measure

the distance of objects in part by means of those that are scattered along

between, and any expanse of surface, where there are no such intervening

objects, appears to us of 1ess extent than it actually is. Now if the rays

of light form precisely the same image in the eye, but the source of them

is supposed to be further off in the horizon than in the zenith, such have

been our mental habits, that the object in the horizon will probably

appear the largest.-(2.) Another reason, which is sometimes assigned, of

the enlarged appearance of the sun and moon in the horizon is, that the

rays from them fall on the body of the atmosphere obliquely, and, of

course, are reflected downward towards the beholder, and subtend a

larger-angle at his eye. Hience, as we always see objects in the direction

of the ray just before it enters the eye, if we follow the rays back in

the precise direction of their approach, they will present to the eye the

outlines of a larger object as their source than they would if they had

not been

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126 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. refracted.-When the atmosphere is not clear, but

unlsual masses of vapour are accumulated in it, whether immediately around

us or anywhere else in the direction of the rays, the refraction is

increased, and the object is proportionally enlarged. This circumstance

helps to explain the fact of the enlargement not being uniform, but

sometimes greater and at others less. — (3.) Our estimate of the size of

the sun and moon is also affected by the simultaneous perception of other

objects of known magnitude, which happen to be in the same direction. The

setting sun, for instance, when it is seen through distant woods, appears

much enlarged. The woods, in consequence of their distance, subtend but a

small angle at the eye; but, being objects of known magnitude, they appear

enlarged and nearly of their natural size in our conception of them. And

as the sun fills a larger space in our eye than the separate trees which

fall within its disk, it experiences in our conception an enlargement,

precisely corresponding with the imagined or conceptive enlargement of the

objects which are encircled by its rays. Just as in the case of a balloon,

which, at a great elevation, crosses the disk of the sun or moon. The

balloon is an object of known size and of great size; but, in fact, when

seen at a great elevation; it is materially and visually a mere speck,

although munch enlarged qnentally. Accordingly, when it passes over the

disk of the sun or moon, those bodies will appear greatly enlarged, so as

to correspond with our previous conceptions of the size of the body which

their rays at that time encircle.-(The reader will find this subject more

fully explained in Dr. Arnott's Elements of Physics, vol. i.) ~ 83. Of the

estimation of distances by sight. We are next led to the consideration of

distances as made known and ascertained by the sight. By the distance of

objects, when we use the term in reference to ourselves, we mean the space

which is interposed between those objects and our own position. Tt

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 127 might be objected, that space interposed is only a

synonymous expression for the thing to be defined. Nevertheless, no one

can be supposed to be ignorant of what is meant. Even blind men have a

notion of distance, and can measure it by the touch, or by walking forward

until they meet the distant object. The perception of distance by the

sight is an acquired and not an original perception, although the latter

was universally supposed to be the fact until comparatively a recent

period. All objects in the first instance appear to touch the eye, but our

experience has corrected so many of the representations of the senses

before the period which we are yet able to retrace by the memory, that we

cannot prove this by a reference to our own childhood and infancy. It

appears, however, from the statement of the cases of persons born blind on

the sudden restoration of their sight. —" When he first saw," says

Cheselden, the anatomist, when giving an account of a young man whom he

had restored to sight by couching for the cataract, " he was so far from

making any judgment about distance, that he thought all objects touched

his eye, as he expressed it, as what he felt did his skin; and thought no

objects so agreeable as those which were smooth and regular, although he

could form no judgment of their shape, or guess what it was in any object

that was pleasing to him." This anatomist has further informed us that he

has brought to sight several others, who had no remembrance of ever having

seen; and that they all gave the same account of their learning to see, as

they called it, as the young man already mentioned, although not in so

many particulars; and that they all had this in common, that, having never

had occasion to move their eyes, they knew not how to do it, and, at

first, could not at all direct them to a particular object; but in time

they acquired that faculty, though by slow degrees.* * Some doubts have

been raised from time to time of the correctness of Cheselden's

experiments and inquiries here referred to. For

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128 TiHE SENSE OF SIGHT. Blind persons, when at first restored to sight,

are unable to estimate the distance of objects by that sense; but soon

observing that certain changes in the visible appearance of bodies always

accompany a change of distance, they fall upon a method of estimating

distance by the visible appearance. And it would no doubt be found, if it

could be particularly examined into, that all mankind come to possess the

power of estimating the distances of objects by sight in the same way.

When a body is removed from us and placed at a considerable distance, it

becomes smaller in its visible appearance, its colours are less lively,

and its outlines less distinct; and we may ex-' pect to find various

intermediate objects, more or fewer in number corresponding with the

increase of the distance, showing themselves between the receding object

and the spectator. And hence it is that a certain visible appearance comes

to be the sign of a certain distance. HIistorical and landscape painters

are enabled to turn these facts to great account in their delineations. By

means of dimness of colour, indistinctness of outline, and the partial

interposition of other objects, they are enabled apparently to throw back,

at a very considerable distance from the eye, those objects which they

wish to appear remote. While other objects, that are intended to appear

near, are painted vivid in colour, large in size, distinct in outline, and

are separated from the eye of the spectator by few or no intermediate

objects. ~ 84. Estimation of distance when unaided by intermediate

objects. As we depend in no small degree upon intermediate objects in

forming our notions of distance, it results, tunately, Mr. Stewart has

taken up the subject with his accustomed caution and candour in his

Account of James Mitchell, a boy born deaf and blind. He shows to ample

satisfaction, in a note near the commencement of that Narration, that the

facts which have been brought forward in opposition to Cheselden may be

satisfactorily explained, without any impeachment of the correctness of

his statements or the justness of his conclusions from them.-See

additional confirmations of this subject in the life of Caspar Hauser.

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 129 that we are often much perplexed by the absence of

such objects. Accordingly we find that people frequently mistake when they

attempt to estimate by the eye the length or width of unoccupied plains

and marshes, generally making the extent less than it really is. For the

same reason they misjudge of the width of a river, estimating its width at

half or three quarters of a mile at the most, when it is, perhaps, not

less than double that distance. The same holds true of other bodies of

water, and of all other things which are seen by us inll a horizontal

position, and under similar circumstances. We mistake in the same way,

also, in estimating the height of steeples, and of other bodies that are

perpendicular, and not on a level with the eye, provided the height be

considerable. As the upper parts of the steeple out-top the surrounding

buildings, and there are no contiguous objects with which to compare it,

any measurement taken by the eye must be inaccurate, but is generally less

than the truth. Hence perhaps it is that a man on the top of a steeple

appears smaller to those below than the same man would seem to the same

person and at the same distance on level ground. A man on the earth's

surface, placed at the same distance, would probably appear nearly of his

actual size. As we have been in the habit of measuring horizontal

distances by the eye, we can readily form a nearly accurate opinion

whether the person be at a hundred feet distance, or more or less; and the

mind immediately makes an allowance for this distance, and corrects the

first visual representation of the size of the person so rapidly that we

do not remember it. But, having never been in the habit of measuring

perpendicular distances, the mind is at a loss, and fails to make that

correction which it would readily, and, as it were, intuitively make in

the case of objects on level ground. The mistake, therefore, of his

supposed nearness, combined with this perplexity, causes the comparative

littleness of the man on the steeple. F 2

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130 THE SENSE OF SIGHT. The fixed stars, when viewed by the eye, all

appear to be alike indefinitely and equally distant. Being scattered over

the whole sky, they make every part of it seem like themselves at an

indefinite and equal distance, and therefore contribute to give the whole

sky the appearance of the inside of a sphere. Moreover, the horizon seems

to the eye to be further off than the zenith; because between us and the

former there lie many things, as fields, hills, and waters, which we know

to occupy a great space; whereas between us and the zenith there are no

considerable things of known dimensions. And, therefore, the heavens

appear like the segment of a sphere, and less thai a hemisphere, in the

centre of which we seem to stand. -And the wider our prospect is, the

greater will the sphere appear to be, and the less the segment. ~ 85. Of

objects seen on the ocean, &c. A vessel seen at sea by a person who is not

accustomed to the ocean, appears much nearer than it actually is, and on

the same principles as already illustrated. In his previous observations

of the objects at a distance, he has commonly noticed a number of

intermediate objects interposed between the distant body and himself. It

is probably the absence of such objects that chiefly causes the deception

under which he labours in the present instance. In connexion with what has

been said, we are led to make this further remark, that a change in tile

pu-rity of the air will perplex, in some measure, those ideas of distance

which we receive from sight. Bishop Berkeley remarks, while travelling in

Italy and Sicily, he noticed that cities and palaces, seen at a great

distance, appeared nearer to him by several miles than they actually were.

The cause of this he very correctly supposed to be the purity of the

Italian and Sicilian air, which gave to objects at a distance a degree of

brightness and distinctness which, in the less clear and pure atmosphere

of his native country, could be observed only in those towns and

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THE SENSE OF SIGHT. 131 separate edifices which were near. At home he had

learned to estimate the distances of objects by their appearance; but his

conclusions failed him when they came to. be applied to objects in

countries where the air was so much clearer.-And the same thing has been

noticed by other travellers who have been placed in the like

circumstances. ~ 86. Explanatory remarks. We have now given a brief

outline, first, of the power of Sensation or Sensationality, and, second,

of the power of Perception or Perceptivity; together with some account of

the senses, through which they respectively operate, and by means of which

they are made available as sources or inlets of knowledge. The next

faculty naturally presenting itself for consideration in the list of the

faculties of the mind distinctively known as Cognitive, is the Conceptive

power. But before we can reach this faculty, which is one of great

importance, because without it the hnman mind would be limited in its

inquiries to the sphere of objects actually present, we must delay a

little upon the subject of the reliance which can be justly placed upon

the senses; a subject which involves the acceptance or rejection of

IDEALISM, a doctrine which, in limiting our knowledge to ideas or states

of the mind, denies by implication any true knowledge of objects outside

of ourselves. II. There is also another subject, to which it is necessary

that attention should early be given —that of HABIT. The term Habit

indicates a law of the mind's action; and back of that law, inasmuch as

law is only the form or mode of activity, there is and must be a principle

or power. When spoken of as a power of the mind, as is often done and not

without reason, Habit rejects the descriptive epithet of Cognitive; but I

think may properly be denominated an Auxiliary power. And as its mighty

influence is felt in all the three leading Departments under which the


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132 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, is to be considered, we shall lose nothing

in giving it an early recognition. NoTE. —In the well-known Natural

History of Buffon, a writer distinguished alike for learning and

eloquence, we have an account of the process by which the full use of the

sight and of the other external senses is acquired. He invents a

delightful recital, and puts it in-the mouth of our first parent; and thus

instructs us in the most abstruse subjects b'y an appeal to the

imagination. His views, founded obviously on much inquiry and reflection,

notwithstanding the imaginary circumstances in which he presents them, may

be regarded as confirmatory of what has been said in these chapters on the

uses and the comparative developement and reliableness of the senses.


sensations we have a knowledge of outward things. IN the third chapter of

the Introduction it was remarkled, that the states of mind to which

operations upon or affections of our senses give rise, are, by our very

constitution, the occasions or grounds of belief; and that it is by means

of the senses we have a knowledge, in particular, of the external,

material world. The new feelings, following an affection of the senses,

are in some sense the occasions on which the active and curious mind moves

out of the world of its own spiritual and immaterial existence, and

becomes acquainted with matter. It is somewhat here as in the reading of a

book. When we read a book, only certain coloured marks or lines, arranged

in a particular order, are directly presented to our senses; but we find

them connected with new states of mind, utterly distinct from the direct

impression which they make. A piece of paper, written over with such

coloured delineations, becomes to the soul a sign of the most various and

exalted ideas; and in like manner, such is the constitution of our mental

nature, it is found to be the case that certain new affections of the

mind, provided they are caused- by means of the senses, become the signs

of various existences, which are wholly

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ND IDEALISM. 133 diverse from the feelings themselves. We experience the

feelings, in other words the mental states, which all admit to be in

themselves neither archetypes nor resemblances of anything whatever which

is external to the soul; and then at once we become acquainted with a vast

multitude of outward objects. On the authority of such feelings as are

immediately consequent on an affection of the senses, all mankind, if the

evidence of their general conduct and of their express declarations is to

be regarded, believe in outward objects, as having a distinct and real

existence, as having forms, properties, and relations. ~ 88. Objection to

a reliance on the senses. Nevertheless, without denying the fact of this

general reliance on the senses as a ground of belief, an objection has

been made to its being well placed. The objection, stated in a few words,


In support of the objection, such instances as the following are brought

forward.-The sun and moon appear to the spectator on the earth's surface

to be a foot or two in diameter, and little more than half a mile high; a

straight stick, thrust into the water, appears to us crooked, as seen by

the eye in that position; a square tower at a distance is mistaken for a

round one; a piece of ice for a stone; a brass coin for a gold one. Nor

are such mistakes to be ascribed solely to the sense of sight; they are

not unfrequently committed when we rely on the intimations of the taste

and smell, the touch and hearing. —Various facts of the above kind have

been brought forward to discredit the senses, and to prevent a reliance on

them. It is not necessary to extend the enumeration of them, as these will

serve for a specimen of the whole. ~ 89. The senses circumscribed or

limited rather than fallacious. That there are some apparent grounds for

the ob

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134 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, jection which has been made to a full

reliance on the testimony of the senses, it is not necessary to deny. It

is nevertheless true, that the great mass of the alleged fallacies which

have been brought forward in opposition to such reliance, are susceptible

of a satisfactory explanation. —But before entering into particulars, it

is requisite to make the general remark, that the senses are more properly

circumscribed or limited than fallacious; and that they lead us astray,

not so much by their own direct action as in consequence of our expecting

too much of them. Now if we keep this in view, and moderate and chasten

our expectations by the evidently limited nature of the senses, we shall

find less to complain of. The imperfect examination of the senses which we

have just gone through, evinces the truth of this remark. It is the

business, the appropriate function of the sense of smelling, to give us a

knowledge of the odours of bodies. When we have these sensations, we may

be led, from some principle of the mind, to look for the cause of them,

but nothing more; we do not learn from it what the cause is. It is not

pretended that this sense alone can give us the notion of an external

odoriferous body. The sense of taste is equally limited with that of

smell; but both, as far as they go, are grounds of knowledge, and do not

deceive. It might, no doubt, be said, that they may be diseased, and thus

mislead us; but the remarks of this section go on the supposition that the

senses are in a sound state.-When we come to the sense of hearing, we find

that the perceptions of sound have, in part, an acquired character. The

reference of a particular sound to a particular external cause always

implies the previous exercise of the touch, also the exercises of that

principle of the mind which is termed association, and of an act of the

judgment. But hearing, when in a sound state, is always a ground of belief

and knowledge, as far as the mere sensation of sound is concerned, and so

far can be most certainly trusted. It is the appropriate business of the

sense of sight,

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AND IDEALISM. 135 against the testimony of which so many objections have

been made, to render us acquainted with the colours of bodies. To say,

therefore, that it leads us into errors in respect to solidity, extension,

size, direction, or distance, is but very little, or, rather, nothing to

the purpose. These are acquired perceptions, and have their origin in

another sense, that of touch. The visual sensations are in these cases

mere signs of the knowledge which we have from another source. When,

therefore, we separate what belongs to the sight from what belongs to the

touch, and distinguish between them, it is impossible to fix the charge of

misrepresentation upon either. And hence, on the question whether our

senses mislead us, we are always to consider to which of the senses the

particular things under review appropriately belong. And in many cases

when we are searching after truth, it becomes ius to call in the aid of

all the senses, and not to consult one to the entire omission of the

others. They all make parts of one great and wonderful system, and cannot

be safely separated. When they are in a sound state; when the intellectual

experiences, of which they are the origin, are properly discriminated;

and, further, when the intimations of one sense are aided by those of

another, and by the guidance of the reasoning power, which clearly ought

not to be excluded, we may then confidently expect to be led by them into

the truth, so far as our Creator designed that it should be made known to

us. ~ 90. Some alleged mistakes of the senses owing to want of care. If

the course indicated at the close of the last section were always

followed, the mistakes to which we are occasionally exposed would be much

less frequent. But even when we refer to all the senses, and combine with

this reference the deductions of reasoning, we may still err from want of

care. Beyond all question, some of the mistakes ascribed to the senses are

owing to premature inferences from them; to a want

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136 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, of caution, discrimination, and full

inquiry. This particular view of the subject is illustrated as follows by

Dr. Reid.-" Many things called the deceptions of the senses are only

conclusions rashly drawn from the testimony of the senses. In these cases

the testimony of the senses is true, but we rashly draw a conclusion from

it which does not necessarily follow. We are disposed to impute our errors

rather to false information than to inconclusive reasoning, and to blame

our senses for the wrong conclusions we draw from their testimony. "Thus,

when a man has taken a counterfeit guinea for a true one, he says his

senses deceived him; but he lays the blame where it ought not to be laid:

for we may ask him, Did your senses give a false testimony of the colour,

or of the figure, or of the impression? No. But this is all that they

testified, and this they testified truly. From these premises you

conclude~ that it was a true guinea, but this conclusion does not follow;

you erred, therefore, not by relying upon the testimony of sense, but by

judging rashly from its testimony. Not only are your senses innocent of

this error, but it is only by their information that it can be discovered.

If you consult them properly, they will inform you that what you took for

a guinea is base metal, or is deficient in weight, and this can only be

known by the testimony of sense. " I remember to have met with a man who

thought the argument used by Protestants against the Popish doctrine of

transubstantiation, from the testimony of our senses, inconclusive;

because, said he, instances may be given where several of our senses may

deceive us; how do we know, then, that there may not be cases wherein they

all deceive us, and no sense is left to detect the fallacy? I begged of

him to know an instance wherein several of our senses deceive us. I take,

said he, a piece of soft turf; I cut it into the shape of an apple; with

the essence of apples I give it the smell of an apple; and with paint I

can give it the skin and colour of an apple. Here, then, is a body, which,


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EAND IDEALISM. 137 you judge by your eye, by your touch, or by your smell,

is an apple. "To this I would answer, that no one of our senses deceives

us in this case. Mly sight and touch testify that it has the shape and

colour of an apple; this is true. The sense of smelling testifies that it

has the smell of an apple: this is likewise true, and is no deception.

Where, then, lies the deception? It is evident it lies in this, that

because this body has some qualities belonging to the apple, I conclude

that it is an apple. This is a fallacy, not of the senses, but of

inconclusive reasoning."* There are other instances where the subject

might be placed in a true light. It is well known (to take an illustration

not unfrequently referred to by writers) that the vibrations of a pendulum

are affected by its geographical position, the latitude where it is.

Before this fact was ascertained, a person might have employed a pendulum

of a given length as a measure of comparative duration at two distant

points on the globe's surface. And when he had done this, he might have

been disposed to declare, on the authority of his senses and personal

observation, that two portions of time, measured in different latitudes,

were the same, although they were in fact different. But here comes the

question: Are his senses to blame for this mistake? Not at all. The

testimony of the senses and of observation, as far as it went, was

correct. The mistake is evidently to be attributed to erroneous deduction.

The conclusion was bottomed on the great and undoubted principle of

reasoning, that the laws of nature are uniform. But then there were

mistaken assumptions in this particular case which vitiated the reasoning,

viz., that the earth is circular and not a spheroid; and that the same

quantity of the attractive force of the earth operates on the pendulum at

every point on the earth's surface. Here is the foundation of the mistake;

in certain facts precipitately assumed as grounds of reasoning, and in the

deductions from them, and-not in the senses. * Reid's Intellectual Powers

of Man, Essay ii.

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138 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, ~ 91; Of mistakes in judging of the motion

of objects. " Many false judgments," it is further remarked by Dr. Reid,

"that are accounted deceptions of sense, arise from our mistaking relative

motion for real or absolute motion. These can be no deceptions of sense,

because by our senses we perceive only the relative motions of bodies; and

it is by reasoning that we infer the real from the relative which we

perceive. A little reflection may satisfy us of this. " It was before

observed, that we perceive extension to be one sensible quality of bodies,

and thence are necessarily led to conceive space, though space be of

itself no object of sense. When a body is removed out of its place, the

space which it filled remains empty till it is filled by some other body,

and would remain if it should never be filled. Before any body existed,

the space which bodies now occupy was empty space, capable of receiving

bodies, for no body can exist where there is no space to contain it. There

is space, therefore, wherever bodies exist or can exist. " Hence it is

evident that space can have no limits. It is no less evident that it is

immoveable. Bodies placed in it are moveable, but the place where they

were cannot be moved; and we can as easily conceive a thing to be moved

from itself, as one part of space brought nearer to, or removed further

from another. "This space, therefore, which is unlimited and immoveable,

is called by philosophers absolute s2ace. Absolute or real motion is a

change of place in absolute space. "Our senses do not testify the absolute

motion or absolute rest of any body. When one body removes from another,

this may be discerned by the senses; but whether any body keeps the same

part of absolute space, we do not perceive by our senses. When one body

seems to remove from another, we can infer with certainty that there is

absolute motion; but whether in the one or the other, or partly in both,

is not discerned by sense. "Of all the prejudices which philosophy contra

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AND IDEALISM. 139 diets, I believe there is none so general as that the

earth keeps its place unmoved. This opinion seems to be universal, till it

is corrected by instruction, or by philosophical speculation. Those who

have any tincture of education are not now in danger of being held by it,

but they find at first a reluctance to believe that there are antipodes;

that the earth is spherical, and turns round its axis every day, and round

the sun every year. They can recollect the time when reason struggled with

prejudice upon these points, and prevailed at length, but not without some

effort. "The cause of a prejudice so very general is not unworthy of

investigation. But that is not our present business. It is sufficient to

observe, that it cannot justly be called a fallacy of sense; because our

senses testify only the change of situation of one body in relation to

other bodies, and not its change of situation in absolute space. It is

only the relative motion of bodies that we perceive, and that we perceive

truly. It is the province of reason and philosophy, from the relative

motions which we perceive, to collect the real and absolute motions which

produce them.."All motion must be estimated from some point or place which

is supposed to be at rest. We perceive not the points of absolute space,

from which real and absolute motion must be reckoned; and there are

obvious reasons that lead mankind, in a state of ignorance, to make the

earth the fixed place from which they may estimate the various motions

they perceive. The custom of doing this from infancy, and of using

constantly a language which supposes the earth to be at rest, may perhaps

be the cause of the general prejudice in favour of this opinion. " Thus it

appears, that if we distinguish accurately between what our senses really

and naturally testify, and the conclusions which we draw from their

testimony by reasoning, we shall find many of the errors, called fallacies

of the senses, to be no fallacy of the senses, but rash judgments, which

are not to be imputed to our senses."

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140 OF RELLANCE ON THE SENSES, ~ 92. Of mistakes as to the distances and

magnitude of objects. One class of the fallacies by means of the senses is

made np of those errors we commit in Our perceptions of the distance of

objects. Our sight, it is said, often represents objects to be near which

are distant, and objects to be distant which are near. That we often form

erroneous judgments as to the distance of objects, is true; but it is a

mistaken sentiment which ascribes these erroneous opinions to the

misrepresentations of the sight in itself considered. Take the case of the

sun and moon. Those heavenly bodies, as they come under the cognizance of

sight, appear not only very small, but also as being at no great distance.

Still, in this very instance (although this is one of the cases most

frequently referred to by the expositors of the alleged weaknesses and

errors of the senses), it cannot be shown that there is any deception

practised upon us by that sense. It has sufficiently appeared that

extension, figure, the magnitude and the distance of bodies, are not

direct objects of sight, and that our notions of them are not original in

that sense, but are acquired. While, therefore, we have a direct

acquaintance with colours by means of sight, it happens that, in

estimating the distance of objects by the same sense, we are obliged to

call in the aid of the intimations of the touch, and to make use also of

comparison and judgment. And hence we are able to fix on this general

principle, that the apparent magnitude of an object will vary with its

distance.-It is clear, therefore, that there is no deception practised

upon us. W}hen, by such calculations as we are able to make, we have

ascertained the distance of the sun and moon, then every one is satisfied

that their apparent magnitude or their appearance to the eye is just such

as it should be; and that the eye gives to us precisely the same

representation as in any other instance of visible objects presented to

it. It gives such a view of the object and of the distance of the object

as it was designed to give; and teaches us here the same as it teaches us


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AND IDEALISM. 141 (II.) Another class of errors are those of magnitude.

The notions which we form on that subject also are acquired, and not

original. We judge objects to be great or small in comparison with

ourselves or with one another, and not in consequence of anything which is

directly or immediately perceived in the objects themselves. We might call

many objects small which happened to be of the size of a particular

diamond, and yet not inconsistently speak of the diamond itself as a very

large one; and this for the simple reason that our notions of large and

small are not absolute but relative, and are formed by repeated acts of

comparison. If there were but one object in creation besides ourselves,

and if we could not reason from ourselves to that object, we could not

possibly form any notion of its magnitude as distinct from the mere idea

of extension. It is very clear, our senses could not, of themselves,

authorize us to speak of such an object as large or small. Nor could it be

done by reasoning, inasmuch as there are supposed to be no other objects

with which to compare it.- These few remarks and illustrations can hardly

fail to evince, that such mnistakes as may exist in regard to the distance

and magnitude of objects, are not exclusively attributable to the senses.

~ 93. The senses liable to be diseased. There is one respect, however, in

which it is perhaps true that we can speak with propriety of deceptions

arising from the cause now under consideration. The body, as a whole,

being liable to be diseased, the senses, as a part of the physical system,

are of course not exempted from this liability. As a mere question of

fact, it cannot be deemed a matter of doubt that the senses are often

physically disordered, and at such times all persons are liable to be led

astray by them. What is sweet to persons ordinarily, may appear bitter to

one with a diseased palate; what is white to the mass of mankind, may

appear of a yellow hue to one whose organ of sight is diseased; the

physical condi

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142 oF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, tion of the sense of touch may be so

perverted as to lead the diseased person to imagine he is made of glass or

feathers instead of flesh and blood. But it is surely enough to say, in

respect to cases of this kind, that such is the condition of humanity, the

sad but common allotment of mankind. What principle in our mental

constitution is not liable to be perverted? What susceptibility is not

liable to find its action suspended? In our general conduct, we rely, and

very correctly, on the MEMORY; but the laws of memory may be disorganized

by what may be termed a mental disease. We rely with equal readiness on

the REASONING power; no one doubts that its conclusions are a ground of

belief. [But of what value is reasoning when uttered in the ravings of a

madman, or when drawing its conclusions in a lunatic asylunm?a-It follows,

therefore, if the senses deceive us in the case we are now attending to,

the fault, if such it is to be considered, is not an exclusive one. It

belongs to other parts of our nature also, not excepting its noblest and

most trustworthy powers. And if we must reject the testimony of the senses

simply because they are liable to be diseased, we must, for the same

reason and in consistency with ourselves, reject the testimony of memory,

of reason, and even of consciousness. ~ 94. On the real existence of a

material world. It will be noticed that, in what has been said, we have

taken for granted the actual existence of an external, material world.

Certain it is, that no man who has the ordinary constitution of a man, if

he gives himself up to the instinctive tendencies of his nature, can doubt

the reality of such an external, material creation. All external nature is

operating upon us from the very moment of our birth, and giving origin,

consistency, and strength to this belief. The resistance which bodies

present to the touch when that sense is impressed upon them by the agency

of the muscles, gives occasion for the distinct and important idea of

externality; and with this idea the senses soon enable

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AND IDEALISM. 143 us to associate others, as extension, colour, form, and

all material qualities and properties. In this way we become acquainted

with what is called the outward world. And we are now prepared to assert

explicitly, that this supposed outward world has an actual and independent

existence. But an objection is made here. It may be said that the mere

fact of our having sensations or ideas of externality, extension, colour,

and the like, does not necessarily involve and imply the true and actual

existence of those things which they represent, or of which they are

supposed and believed to be the effect. In other words, we may possess

certain internal affections, and attribute them to something external and

material as their cause; and we may truly and siincerely believe the

reality of such a cause, while, in point of fact, it does not exist; and,

consequently, our conviction of a truly existing material world may be a

self-imposition and delusion. It is this view which furnishes the basis of

the doctrine known as IDEALISM. On this doctrine, which limits our

knowledge to what is internal or subjective, and which therefore denies

any real knowledge of the outward material world, a few remarks may

properly be offered. ~ 95. Doctrine of the non-existence of matter

considered. The first remark which we have to make concerns the mere fact

of belief. We have already made the declaration with confidence; that no

man who has the ordinary constitution of a man can doubt of the reality of

external, material things. It is no presumption to assert, that the belief

of the reality of an external cause of our sensations is universal. This

is the common feeling, the common language of all mankind. -Those who deny

the propriety of relying on the evidence of the senses for the existence

of the material world, and who deny such existence, should explain this

belief. That such a belief exists cannot be denied; that it is a false

belief, an unfounded convic

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144 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES, tion, ought not to be lightly asserted. It

wars too much, as even a slight examination would suffice to show, with

the sentiments of man's moral and religious constitution. It is to be

acknowledged with gratitude, that the great mass of mankind fully believe

in the existence of the Deity, a being of perfect truth as well as

benevolence. And this being is man's creator. But to create man so that he

should be irresistibly led to believe in the existence of a material world

when it did not exist, to create him with high capacities of thought,

feeling, and action, and then to surround him with mere illusive and

imaginary appearances, does not agree with that notion of God which we are

wont to entertain. Mr. Stewart, in speaking of the metaphysical inquiries

of Des Cartes, observes in relation to himself, that his reasonings led

him to conclude, that God cannot possibly be supposed to deceive his

creatures; and, therefore, that the intimations of our senses and the

decisions of our reason are to be trusted to with entire confidence,

wherever they afford us clear and distinct ideas of their respective

objects. In the second place, it will undoubtedly be admitted, that the

sensations which have been spoken of have an existence. This existence, it

is true, is wholly internal; but still the simple fact remains that they

exist; our consciousness most decisively teaches us so. But it has been

laid down as a primary truth, a first principle, that there is no

beginning or change of existence without a cause. This is an elementary

principle, placed as far above all objection and skepticism as any one can

be, and evidently preliminary to the full exercise of reasoning. And

where, then, is the cause of these internal effects? What man, who denies

the existence. of the material world, is able to indicate the origin of

these results? If, yielding to the suggestions of our nature and the

requisitions of our belief, we seek for a cause external to ourselves, we

find a satisfactory explanation; otherwise we may expect to find none of

any kind.

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AND IDEALISM. 145 ~ 96. The senses as much grounds of belief as other

parts of our constitution. Furthermore, it must be admitted, as has

already been particularly stated and shown, that there are certain

original sources or grounds of belief in. our constitution. To say

otherwise would be to loosen and destroy the foundations of all knowledge,

whether that knowledge has relation to matter or mind. But what evidence

is there that there are such original sources of belief, or that any one

thing in particular is the foundation of such belief more than any other

thing? The answer is, our own internal consciousness and conviction, and

this merely; we are conscious of belief, and are able to trace it to the

occasions which give it rise. Now if we carefully examine our minds, we

shall find that the intimations of the senses as effectually cause belief

as any other source of evidence whatever. Our consciousness, ourl internal

conviction tells us, that our belief is as decisively regulated by the

perceptions, derived through the senses, as by our intuitive or inductive

perceptions; and that they are as much a ground of knowledge. We assert

this with confidence; therefore, if the senses are not a ground of belief

and knowledge, the way is fairly open for unlimited skepticism on all

subjects. It will in this case be impossible to fix upon anything whatever

which is to be received as evidence, and men must give up all knowledge of

intellect as well as matter, and will be at once released from all moral

obligation. ~ 97. Opinions of Locke on the testimony of the senses. As the

satisfactory understanding of this subject is of much practical

importance, we shall close what has been said upon it by some passages

from Mr. Locke. — " If, after all this," he says, in the Fourth Book of

his Essay, " any one will be so skeptical as to distrust his senses, and

to affirm that all we see and hear, feel and taste, think and do, during

our whole being, is but I. -G

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146 OF RELIANCE ON THE SENSES. the series and deluding appearalices of a

long dream, whereof there is no reality; and, therefore, will question the

existence of all things, or our knowledge of anything; I must desire him

to consider that, if all be a dream, then he doth but dream that he makes

the question; and so it is not much matter that a waking man should answer

him. But yet, if he pleases, he may dream that I make him this answer,

that the certainty of things existing in rerumn, nzatutrca, when we have

the testimony of our senses for it, is not only as great as our frame can

attain to, but as our condition needs. For our faculties being suited not

to the full extent of being, nor to a perfect, clear, comprehensive

knowledge of things, free from all doubt and scruple, but to the

preservation of us in whom they are, and accommodated to the nlse of life,

they serve to our purpose well enough, if they will but give ius certain

notice of those things which are convenient or inconvenient to us. For he

that sees a candle burning, and hath experimented the force of its flame

by puttinlg his finger in it, will little doubt that this is something

existing without him, which does him harm, and puts him to great pain;

which is assurance enough, when no manil requires greater certainty to

govern his actions by than what is as certain as his actions themselves.

And if our dreamer pleases to try whether the glowing heat of a glass

furnace be barely a wandering imagination in a drowsy man's fancy, by

putting his hand into it he may perhaps be wakened into a certainty

greater than he could wish, that it is something more than bare

imagination. So that this evidence is as great as we can desire, being as

certain to us as our pleasure or pain, i. e., happiness or misery, beyond

which we have no concernment, either of knowing or being. Such an

assurance of the existence of things without us is sufficient to direct us

in the attaining the good and avoiding the evil which is caused by them,

which is the important concernment we have of being made acquainted with


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AND PERCEPTION. ~ 98. General view of the law of habit and of its

applications. WE proceed now, in accordance with an intimation at the

close of the 7th Chapter, to the consideration of a great mental

principle, generally known as the law of HABIT. We sometimes speak of

Habit as a law, and sometimes as a power. The term law denotes a fixed

line or mode of action; but if the action has a beginning, and if it tends

to certain fixed results, which could not otherwise have existed, it

implies the existence somewhere of power. But if it should be conceded,

that it is proper to speak of IHabit as a mental power (a view ill support

of which much might be said), it is not in any proper sense of the terms a

Cognitive power; in other words, it does not directly and by its own

action originate or increase our knowledge; but it oftentimes very greatly

aids the action of the faculties of cognition as well as the emotional and

other susceptibilities. And this is sufficient to justify us in speaking

of it as one of the Auxiliary powers of the nind, and in giving it this

early consideration. But in this case as in others our attention will be

directed chiefly to results. The result, which is involved in a Habit, is

this: Thiat the mental action acquires'facility and strength Jfrom

repetition or practice. The fact that the facility and the increase of

strength implied in HABIT is owing to mere repetition, or what is more

frequently termed practice, we learn, as we do other facts and principles

in relation to the mind, from the observation of men around us, and from

our own personal experience. And as it has hitherto been found wholly

impracticable to resolve it into any general fact or principle more

elementary, it may justly be regarded as something ultimate and essential

in our nature.

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148 IABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. The term Habit, by the use of

language,indicates the facility and strength acquired in the way which has

been mentioned, including both the result and thle manner of it. As the

law of habit has reference to the whole mind of minM, the application of

the term which expresses it is of course very extensive. We apply it to

the dexterity of workmen in the different manual arts, to the rapidity of

the accountant, to the coup d'ceil or eye-glance of the military engineer,

to the tact and fluency of the extemporaneous speaker, and in other like

instances. We apply it also in cases where the mere exercise of emotion

and desire is concerned; to the avaricious man's love of wealth, the

ambitious man's passion for distinction, the wakeful suspicions of the

jealous, and the confirmed and substantial benevolence of the

philanthropist. It is remarkable, that the law under consideration holds

good in respect to the body as well as the mind. In the mechanical arts,

and in all cases where there is a corporeal as well as mental effort, the

effect of practice will be found to extend to both. Not only the acts of

the mind are quickened and strengthened, but all those muscles which are

at such times employed, become stronger and more obedient to the will.

Indeed, the submission of the muscular effort to the volition is

oftentimes rendered so prompt by habit, that we are unable distinctly to

recollect any exercise of volition previous to the active or muscular

exertion. It is habit which is the basis of those characteristic

peculiarities that distinguish one man's handwriting from another's; it is

habit which causes that peculiarity of attitude and motion, so easily

discoverable in most persons, termed their gait; it is habit also which

has impressed on the muscles immediately connected with the organs of

speech, that fixed and precise form of action, which, in different

individuals, gives rise, in part at least, to characteristics of voice.

The habit in the cases just mentioned is both bodily and mental, and has

become so strong, that it is hardly possible to counteract it for any

lengthl of time.L-The great law

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HABITS OF SENSATION AD PERCEPTION. 149 of Habit, which is a Power as well

as a Law, is applicable to all the leading divisions of our mental nature,

the Intellect, the Sensibilities; the Will; and as we advance from one

view of the mllind to another, we shall have repeated occasion to notice

its influence. In the remainder of this chapter, we shall limit our

remarks to habit, considered in connexion with the Sensations and

Perceptions. ~ 99. Of habit in relation to the smell. We shall consider

the application of the principle of Habit to the senses in the same order

which has already been observed.; In the first place, therefore, there are

habits of Smell. —This sense, like the others, is susceptible of

cultivation. As there are some persons whose power of distinguishing the

difference between two or more colours is feeble, so there are some who

are doubtful and perplexed, in like manner, in the discrimination of

odours. And as the inability mllay be overcome in some measure ill the

former case, so it may be in the latter. The fact that the powers of which

the smell is capable are not more frequently brought out and quickened, is

owing to the circumstance that it is not ordinarily needed. It sometimes

happens, however, that men are colnpelled to make an nncommon use of it,

when, by a defect in the other senses, they are left without the ordinary

helps to knowledge. It is then we see the effects of the law of Habit. It

is stated in 1'Mr. Stewart's account of James Mitchell, who was deaf,

sightless, speechless, and, of course, strongly induced by his unfortunate

situation to maike much use of the sense we are considering, that his

smell would immediately and invariably inform him of the presence of a

stranger, and direct to the place where he might be; and it is repeatedly

asserted, tlhat this sense had become in him extremely acute.-" It is

related," says Dr. Abercrombie, "of the late Dr. Moyse, the well-kinown

blind philosopher, that he could distinguish a black dress on his friends

by its smell."

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1'50 HABITS OF SENSATION A-ND PERCEPTION. In an interesting account of a

deaf, dumb, and blind girl in the Hartford Asylum recently published,

statements are made on this subject of a similar purport. -" It has been

observed," says the writer," of persons who are. deprived of a particular

sense, that additional quickness or vigour seems to be bestowed on those

which remain. That blind persons are often distinguished by peculiar

exquisiteness of touch, and the deaf and dumb, who gain all their

knowledge through the eye, concentrate, as it were, their whole souls in

that channel of observation. With her whose eye, ear, and tongue are alike

dead, the capabilities both of touch and smell are exceedingly heightened.

Especially the latter seems almost to have acquired the properties of a

new sense, and to transcend the sagacity even of a spaniel." —Such is the

influence of habit onl the intimations of the sense under consideration. ~

100. Of habit in relation to the taste. The same law is applicable to the

Taste. We see the results of the frequent exercise of this sense in the

quickness which the dealer in wines discovers in distinguishing the

flavour of one wine from that of alnother. So marked are the results in

cases of this kind, that one is almost disposed to credit the story which

Cervantes relates of two persons who were requested to pass their judgment

upon a hogshead, which was supposed to be very old and excellent.. One of

them tasted the wine, and pronounced it to be very good, with the

exception of a slight taste of leather which le perceived in it. The

other, after mature reflection and examination, pronounced the same

favourable verdict, with the exception of a taste of iron, which he could

easily distinguish. On emptying the hogshead, there was found at the

bottom an old key with a leathern thong tied to it. Another practical view

of this subject, however, presents itself here. The sensations which we

experience in this and in other like cases, not only acquire by repetition

greater niceness and discrimination, but in

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IIABIT'S OF SENSATION AND PERCElPTION. 151 creased strength (and perhaps

the increased strength is in all instances the foundation of the greater

power of discrimination). On this topic we have a wide and lelanchloly

source of illustration. The bibber of Mwine and the drinker of ardent

spirits readily acknowledge, that the sensation was at first only

moderately pleasing, and perhaps in the very slightest degree. Every time

they carried the intoxicating potion to their lips, the sensation grew

more p)leasing, and the desire for it -waxed stronger. Perhaps they were

not aware that tlis p'rocess was going on in virtue of a great law of

hlnnanity; bnut they do not pretend to deny the fact. They mnight, indeed,

have suspected at an early period that chains were gathering around them,

whatever might be the cause; but what objection had they to be bouncld

with links of flowers; delightful while they lasted, and easily broken

wvhen necessary! But here was the mistake. Link vw,;as added to link,

chain was woven with chain, till lie who boasted of his strength was at

last made sensible of his weakness, and foulnd himself a prisoner, a

captive, a deformed, altered, alnd degraded slave. There is a threefold

operation. The sensation of taste acquires an enhanced degree of

pleasantness; the feeling of uneasiness is increased in a corresponding

measnure wheln the sensation is not indulged by drinkinog; and the desire,

which is necessarily attendant on the nneasy feeling, becomes in like

mLanner more and more imperative. To alleviate the uneasy feeling and this

importunate desire, the unhappy nan goes again to his cups, and with a

shaky hand pours down the delicious poison. AVhat then? Ile has added a

new link to his chain; at every repetition it grows heavier and heavier;

till that, which at first lie bore lightly aind cheerfully, now presses

hinm like a coat of iron, and galls like fetters of steel. There is a

great and fearful law of his nature bearing him down to destruction. Every

indulogence is the addition of a new weight to what was before placed upon

hlini, thus lesseninig the probability of escape, and accelerating

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152 IHABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. his gloomy, fearful, and

interminable sinking. Ve do not mean to say that he is the subject of an

implacable destiny, and cannot help himself. But it would seem that he can

help himself only in this way; by a prompt, absolute, and entire

suspension of the practice in all its forms, which has led him into this

extremity. ]But few, however, have the resolution to do this; the

mulltitCude Lmake a few unllilling and feeble efforts, and resign

themselves to the horrors of their fate. Some years since there was a

pamlphlet published in England, entitled the Confessions of a Drunkarc.

The statements made in it are asserted on good authority to be authentic.

Alcld what does the writer say 2 — " my condition there is no hope that it

should ever change; the -waters have gone over me; but out of the black

depths, could I be heardc, I w ould cry out to all those who have but set

a foot in the perilous flood. Could the youlth, to whom the flavour of his

first wine is clelicious as the opening scenes of life, or the entering

upon some newly-discovered paradise, look into my desolation, and be made

to understand what a dreary thing it is when a man shall feel himself

going down a precipice with open eyes and a passive Arill; to see his

destruction, and have no porwer to stop it, and yet to feel it all the way

emanating from himself; to perceive all goodness -emptied out of him, and

yet not be able to forget a time when it wras otherwise; to bear about the

piteous spectacle of his own self-ruin; could he see my fevered eye,

feverish with last night's drinking, and feverishly looking for this

night's repetition of the folly; could lie feel the body of the death of

which I cry hourly, with feebler and feebler outcry, to be delivered, it

were enough to make him dlash the sparkling beverage to the earth in all

the pride of its mantling temptation."'0 ~ 101. Of habit in relation to

the hearing. There is undoubtedly a natural difference in the quickness

ancd discrimination of hearing. This sense * London Quarterly Review, vol.

xxvii., p. 120.

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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 153 is more acute in some than in

others; but in those who possess it in much natural excellence, it is

susceptible of a high degree of cultivation. Musicians are a proof of

this, whose sensibility to the melody and concord of sweet sounds

continually increases with the practice of their art. This increase of

sensibility in the perceptions of hearing is especially marked and evident

when uncommon causes have operated to secure such practice. And this is

the state of things with the Blind. The readers of Sir Walter Scott may

not have forgotten the blind fiddler, >who figures so conspicuously with

verse and harp in Red Gauntlet; a character sufficiently extraordinary,

but by no means an improbable exaggeration. The blind necessarily rely

much more than others on the sense of hearing. By constant practice they.

increase the accuracy and power of its perceptions. Shut out from the

beauties that are seen, they please themselves with what is heard, and

greedily drink in the melodies of song. Accordingly, music is made by them

not only a solace, but a business and a means of support; and in the

Institutions for the Blind this is considered an important department of

instruction. -Many particular instances on record, and well authenticated,

confirm the general statement, that the ear may be trained to habits, and

that thus the sensations of sound may come to us with new power and

meaning. It is related of a celebrated blind man of Puiseaux in France,

that he could determine the quantity of fluid in vessels by the sound it

produced while runling from one vessel into another.: "Dr. Rush," as tihe

statement is given in Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers, "relates of two

blind young men, brothers, of the city of Philadelphia, that they knew

when they approached a post in walking across a street, by a peculiar

sound which the ground under their feet emitted in the neighbourhood of

the post; and that they could tell the names of a number of tame pigeons,

with which they amused themselves in a little garden, G2

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154 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. by only hearing them fly over

their heads." Dr. Salnderson, who became blind so early as not to remember

having seen, when happening in any new place, as a room, piazza, pavement,

court, and the like, gave it a character by means of the sound and echo

from his feet; and in that way was able to identify pretty exactly the

place, and assure himself of his position afterward. A wisiter in the

First Volume of the Manchester Philosophical Memoirs, who is our authority

also for the statement just made, speaks of a certain blind man in that

city as follows: "I had an opportunity of repeatedly observing the

peculiar manner in which he arranged his ideas and acquired his

infornation. Whenever he was introduced into company, I remarked that he

continued some time silent. -.The sound directed him to judge of the

dimensions of the room, and the different voices of the number of persons

that were present. His distinction in these respects was very accurate,

and his memory so retentive that he was seldom mistaken. I have known him

instantly recognise a person on first hearing him, though more than two

years had elapsed since the time of their last meeting. He determined

pretty nearly the stature of those he was conversing with by the direction

of their voices; and he made tolerable conjectures respecting their

tempers and dispositions by the manner in which they conducted their

conversation." ~ 102. Of certain universal habits based on sounds. There

are certain habits of hearing (perhaps we should say classes of habits)

which all men, by the aid of the other senses, combined with that of the

judgment, form at an early period of life. The first class of habits here

referred to are those which have relation to the particular cause anld the

distance of sounds. The manner in which we learn these has been pointed

out in a previous section (~ 66). The mere sensations of sound are

entirely a distinct thing from the ideas of cause, place, and direction,

which we generally coin

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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 155 bine with them. Owing to frequent

repetition from early life, this combination is effected so rapidly, that

we are unable to retrace the successive steps of the process, and the

whole seems to be involved in a single sensation. Perhaps it may be said

that the effect of repetition (that is to say, the I-IABIT) has more

direct and special relation to the act of judgment, which combines the

reference with the sensation, than to the sensation itself. However tllhat

may be, it may still be proper to speak of habits of hearing in the

respect now under consideration, when we remember that the reference has

been so long and closely interwoven with the sensation as to be apparently

and practically, though not really, identical -with it. I In respect to

spoken language also, our habits are so laboriously and deeply founded,

that we may almost consider ourselves as having a new sense superadded to

that of hearing. In our ordinary conversation with others, we seem to hear

the whole of what is said; nothing is lost, as we imagine. But that this

is not the fact, and that we are sustained in such cases not wholly by an

actual sensation of sound, but in part, at least, by an acqluired power of

HABIT, iS evident from this. When we hear proper names, whether of

persons, places, or natural objects, pronoumnced for the first time, we

often hesitate in respect to them; are not certain that we possess the

syllables intended to be conveyed, and ask for the repetition of them. We

experience the same difficulty and uncertainty, as every one must have

known who has tried it, when we hear a person read or converse in a

foreign language. But when the conversation is in our own language, and

relates to persons and objects we are acquainted with, it is altogether

different, as has already been intimated. But what is the ground of the

difference? Why are we perplexed in one case and not in the other 2-In our

intercourse with others in conversation, it almost constantly happens (at

least as much so as on any other occasions), that the ear catches nothing

but imperfect syllables, half-uttered words, sounds jumbled and com

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156 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. mingled together; but we are

nevertheless not commonly at a loss and perplexed, as in the cases before

mentioned. By the aid of judgment, and the power of conception, whose

action has in this case, by long repetition, formed itself into a prompt

and decisive habit, we at once separate these confused elements, supply

the breaks in their connexion, fill up the deficiencies, and make out a

continuous and significant whole. And yet this is done so rapidly, and is

so common, that in most cases we imagine there is nothing more than the

pure and unmixed sensation. ~ 103. Application of habit to the touch. The

sense of touch, like the others, may be exceedingly improved by habit. The

more we are obliged to call it into use, the more attention we pay to its

intimations. By the frequent repetition, therefore, under such

circumstances, these sensations not only acquire increased intenseness in

themselves, but particularly so in reference to our notice and

rememnbrance of them. But it is desirable to confirm this, as it is all

other principles from time to time laid down, by an appeal to facts, and

by careful inductions from them. Diderot relates of the blind man of

Puiseaux mentioned in a former section, that he was capable of judging of

his distance from the fireplace by the degree of heat, and of his approach

to any solid bodies by the action or pulse of the air upon his face. The

same thing is recorded of many other persons in a similar situation;* and

it may be regarded as a point * It is a singular circumstance, that

something similar to what is here stated of the ability of blind men to

discover the nearness or distance of objects by changes in the resistance

of the atmosphere, has been noticed by the naturalist Spallanzani in

respect to bats. He discovered that bats, when perfectly blinded and

afterward set at liberty, had the extraordinary faculty of guiding

themselves through the most complicated windings of subterraneous

passages, without striking against the walls, and they avoided with great

skill cords, branches of trees, and other obstacles, placed by design in

their way. This ability is probably owing to an extreme delicacy in the

wing, which is of a very large size in proportion to that of the animal,


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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 157 well established, that blind

people, who are unable to see the large and heavy bodies presenting

themselves in their way as they walk about, generally estimate their

approach to them by the increasing resistance of the atmosphere. A blind

person, owing to the increased accuracy of his remaining senses,

especially of the touch, would be better trusted to go through the

apartments of a house in the darkness of midnight, than one possessed of

the sense of seeing without any artificial light to guide him. In the

celebrated Dr. Saunderson, who lost his sight in very early youth, and

remained blind through life, although he occupied the professorship of

mathematics in the English University of Cambridge, the touch acquired

such acuteness that he could distinguish, by merely letting them pass

through his fingers, spurious coins, which were so well executed as to

deceive even skilful judges who could see.* The case of a Mr. John

Metcalf, otherwise called Blind Jack, which is particularly dwelt upon by

the author of the Article in the Memoirs just referred to, is a striking

one. The writer states that he became blind at an early period; but,

notwithstanding, followed the profession of a wagoner, and occasionally of

a guide in intricate roads during the night, or when the tracks were

covered with snow. At length he became a projector and surveyor of

highways in difficult and mountainous districts; an employment for which

one would naturally suppose a blind man to be but indifferently qualified.

But he was found to answer all the expectations of his employers, and most

of the roads over the peak in Derbyshire, in England, were altered by his

directions. Says the person who gives this account of Blind Jack, " I have

several times met is covered with an exceedingly fine network of nerves.

The bat, as it strikes the air with its wings, receives sensations of

heat, cold, and resistance, and, in consequence, is enabled to avoid

objects which would otherwise obstruct its flight, apparently in the same

way that blind persons perceive a door or a wall by a change in the

temperature or in the resistance of the air. * Memoirs of Manchester

Philos. Society, vol. i., p. 164.

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158 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION, this man, with the assistance of a

long staff traversing the roads, ascending precipices, exploring valleys,

and investigating their several extents, forms, and situations, so as to

answer his designs in the best manner." In the interesting Schools for the

Blind'which have recently been established in various parts of the world,

the pupils read by means of the fingers. They very soon learn by the touch

to distinguish one letter from another, which are made separately for that

purpose of wood, metals, or other hard materials. The printed sheets which

they use are conformed to their method of studying them. The types are

much larger than those ordinarily used in printing; the paper is very

thick, and, being put upon the types while wet, and powerfully pressed,

the letters on it are consequently raised, and appear in relief. The

pupils, having before learned to distinguish one letter from another, and

also to combine them into syllables and words, are able, after a time, to

pass their fingers along the words and sentences of these printed sheets,

and ascertain their meaning with a good degree of rapidity. Perhaps it may

occasion some surprise when we add, that men may not only read by the

touch, but may even find a substitute for the hearing in that sense.

Persons who were entirely deaf have in some instances discovered a

perception of the proportion and harmony of sounds. "It will scarcely be

credited," says an English writer, speaking of one in that situation,

"that a person thus circumstanced should be fond of music; but this was

the fact in the case of Mr. Arrowsmith. He was at a gentleman's glee club,

of which I was president at that time,'and, as the glees were sung, he

would place himself near some article of wooden furniture, or a partition,

door, or window-shutter, and would fix the extreme end of his finger

nails, which he kept rather long, upon the edge of some projecting part of

the wood, and there remain until the piece under performance was finished,

all the while expressing, by the most significant gestures, the pleasure

he experienced

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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 159 from the perception of musical

sounds. Hle was not so mnuch pleased with a solo as with a pretty full

clash of harmony; and if the music was not very good, or I should rather

say, if it was not correctly executed, he would show no sensation of

pleasure. But the most extraordinary circumstance in this case is, that he

was most evidently delighted with those passages in which the composer

displayed his science in modulating the different keys. When such passages

happened to be executed with precision, he could scarcely repress the

emotions of pleasure which he received. within any bounds; for the delight

he evinced seemed to border on ecstasy.'+ ~ 104. Other striking instances

of habits of touch. The power of the touch will increase in proportion to

the necessity of a reliance on it. The more frequent the resort to it, the

stronger will be the habit;' but the necessity of this frequent reference

to it will be found to be peculiarly great where a person is deprived of

two of his other senses. It is noticed of James Mitchell, whose case has

been already referred to, that lie distinguished such articles as belonged

to himself from the property of others by this sense. Although the

articles were of the same form and materials with those of others, it

would seem that- he was not at a loss in identifying what was his own. It

will be recollected that he could neither see nor hear, and was, of

course, speechless. He was obliged, therefore, to depend chiefly on the

touch. This sense was the principal instrument he made use of in forming

an acquaintance with the strangers who frequently visited him. And what is

particularly remarkable, he actually explored by it, at an early period, a

space round his father's residence of about two hundred yards in extent,

to any part of which he was in the practice of walking fearlessly and

without a guide whenever he pleased. It is related of the deaf and blind

girl in the Hart* London Quarterly Review, vol. xxvi., p. 404.

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160 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. ford Asylum, that it is impossible

to displace a single article in her drawers without her perceiving and

knowing it; and that, when the baskets of linen are weekly brought from

the laundress, she selects her own garments without hesitation, however

widely they may be dispersed among the mass. This is probably owing, at

least in great part, to habits of touch, by means of which the sense is

rendered exceedingly acute.-Diderot has even gone so far as to conjecture

that persons deprived of both sight and hearing would so increase the

sensibility of touch as to locate the seat of the soul in the tips of the

fingers. ~ 105. Habits considered in relation to the sight. The law of

habit affects the sight also. By a course of training this sense seems to

acquire new power. The length and acuteness of vision in the mariner who

has long traversed the ocean has been frequently referred to.-A writer in

the North American Review (July, 1833) says he once " knew a man in the

Greek Island of Hydra, who was accustomed to take his post every day for

thirty years on the summit of the island, and look out for the approach of

vessels; and, although there were over three hundred sail belonging to the

island, he would tell the name of each one as she approached with unerring

certainty, while she was still at such a distance as to present to a

comnmon eye only a confused white blur upon the clear horizon.' There are

numerous instances to the same effect, occasioned by the situations in

which men are placed, and the calls for the frequent exercise of the

sight. The almost intuitive vision of the skilful engineer is, beyond

doubt, in most cases merely a habit. He has so often fixed his eye upon

those features in a country which have a relation to his peculiar calling,

that he instantly detects the bearing of a military position, its

susceptibility of defence, its facilities of approach and retreat, &c. No

man is born without the sense of touch, but many are born without the

sense of hearing; and,

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IfABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 161 wherever this is the case, we are

entitled to look for habits of sight. Persons under such circumstances

naturally and necessarily rely much on the visual sense, whatever aids may

be had by them from the touch. Hence habits; and these imply increased

qiickness and power wherever they exist. It is a matter of common remark,

that the keenness of visual observation in the DEAF and DUMB is strikingly

increased by their peculiar circumstances. Shut out from the intercourse

of speech, they read the minds of men in their movements, gestures, and

countenances. They notice with astonishing quickness, and apparently

without any effort, a thousand things which escape the regards of others.

This fact is undoubtedly the foundation of the chief encouragement which

men have to attempt the instruction of that numerous and unfortunate class

of their fellow-beings. They can form an opinion of what another says to

them by the motion of the lips, and sometimes even with a great degree of

accuracy. That this last, however, is common it is not necessary to

assert; that it is possible, we have the testimony of well-authenticated

facts. In one of his letters, Bishop Burnet mentions to this effect the

case of a young lady of Geneva.-" At two years old," he says, " it was

perceived that she had lost her hearing, and ever since, though she hears

great noises, yet hears nothing of what is said to her; but, by observing

the motion of the lips and mouths of others, she acquired so many words,

that out of these she has formed a sort of jargon, in which she can hold

conversation whole days with those who can speak her language. She knows

nothing of what is said to her unless she sees the motion of their lips

that speak to her; one thing will appear the strangest part of the whole

narrative. She has a sister with whom she has practised her language more

than with anybody else, and in the night, by laying her hand on her

sister's mouth, she can perceive by that what she says, and so can

discourse with her in the dark." (London Quarterly Review, vol. xxiv., p.


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162 H ABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. Such are the views which have

been opened to us in considering the law of HABIT in connexion with the

senses; and we may venture to say, with confidence, that they are

exceedingly worthy of notice. There are two suggestions which they are

especially fitted to call up. They evince the striking powers of the human

mind, its irrepressible energies, which no obstacles can bear down. They

evince also the benevolence of our Creator, who opens in the hour of

misery new sources of comfort, and compensates for what we have not by

increasing the power and value of what we have. ~ 106. Sensations may

possess a relative as well as positive increase of power. There remains a

remark of some importance to be made in connexion with the general

principle which has been brought forward, and as in some measure auxiliary

to it; for it will help to explain the more striking instances of habits,

if any should imagine that the fact of mere repetition is not sufficient

to account for them. Our sensations and perceptions may acquire not only a

direct and positive, but a relative and virtual increase of power. This

remark is thus explained. We shall hereafter see the trutlh of an

important principle to this effect, that there will be a weakness of

remembrance in any particular case in proportion to the want of interest

in it. Now hundreds and thousands of our sensations and perceptions are

not remembered because we take no interest in them. Of course they are the

same, relatively to our amount of knowledge and our practice, as if they

had never existed at all. But when we are placed in some novel Situation,

or when, in particular, we are deprived of any one of the senses, the

pressure of our necessities creates that interest which was wanting

before. Then we delay upon, and mark, and remember, and interpret a

multitude of evanescent intimations which were formerly neglected. The

senses thus acquire a very considerable relative power and value. And, in

order to make out a

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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 163 satisfactory explanation of some

instances of habits, it is perhaps necessary that this relative increase

should be added to the direct and positive augmentation of vigour and

quickness, resulting from mere repetition or exercise. ~ 107. Of habits as

modified by particular callings or arts. Hitherito it has been our chief

object to examine habits in their relation to the senses separately; it is

proper, also, to take a general view of them, as formed and modified by

the particular callings and employ-ments of men. Habits of perception are

frequently formed under such circumstances, where all the senses are not

only possessed, but where they exist with their ordinary aptitudes and

powers. In consequence of the habits which he has been called upon to form

by his particular situation, a farmer of a tolerable degree of experience

and discernment requires but a slight inspection in order to give an

opinion on the qualities of a piece of land, and its suitableness for a

settlement. A skilful printer will at once notice everything of excellence

or of deficiency in the mechanical execution of a printed work.-The same

results are found in all who practise the fine arts. An experienced

painter at once detects a mannerism in colouring, combinations and

contrasts of light and shade, and peculiarities of form proportion, or

position, which infallibly escape a person of more limited experience. Dr.

Reid speaks on this subject in the following characteristic manner. —" Not

only men, but children, idiots, and brutes, acquire by habit many

perceptions which they had not originally. Almost every employment in life

hath perceptions of this kind that are peculiar to it. The shepherd knows

every sheep of his flock, as we do our acquaintance, and can pick them out

of another flock one by one. The butcher lknows by sight the weight and

quality of his beeves and sheep before they are killed. The farmer

perceives by his eye very nearly the quantity of hay in a rick, or of corn

in a heap. The:sailor sees the bur

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164 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. den, the build, and the distance

of a ship at sea, while she is a great way off. Every man accustomed to

writing, distinguishes acquaintances by their handwriting as he does by

their faces. And the painter distinguishes by the works of his art the

style of all the great masters. In a word, acquired perception is very

different in different persons, according to the diversity of objects

about which they are employed, and the application they bestow in

observing them."@ ~ 108. The law of habit considered in reference to the

perception of the outlines and forms of objects. Before leaving the

subject of Habit, considered as influencing Sensation and Perception,

there is one other topic which seems to be entitled to a brief notice; we

refer to the manner in which we perceive the outlines and forms of bodies.

In discussing the subject of Attention, Mr. Stewart, in connexion with his

views on that subject, introduces some remarks in respect to vision. He

makes this supposition, That the eye is fixed in a particular position,

and the picture of an object is painted on the retina. He then starts this

inquiry: Does the mind perceive the complete figure of the object at once,

or is this perception the result of various perceptions we have of the

different points in the outline a-He holds the opinion, that the

perception is the result of our perceptions of the different points in the

outline, which he adopts as naturally consequent on such views as the

following. The outline of every body is made up of points or smallest

visible portions; no two of these points call be in precisely the same

direction; therefore every point by itself constitutes just as distinct an

object of attention to the mind, as if it were separated by some interval

of empty space from all the other points. The conclusion therefore is, as

every body is made up of parts, and as the perception of the figure of the

whole object implies a knowledge of the relative situation of the

different parts with respect to each other, that such * Reid's Inquiry

into the Human Mind, chap. vi., ~ 20.

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HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. 165 perception is the result of a

number of different acts of attention. But if we adopt this view of Mr.

Stewart, it is incumbent upon us to show how it happens that we appear to

see the object at once. The various facts which have been brought forward

in this chapter, appear to furnish us with a solution of this question.

The answer is, that the acts of perception are performed with such

rapidity, that the effect with respect to us is the same as if it were

instantaneous. A habit has been formed; the glance of the mind, in the

highest exercise of that habit, is indescribably quick; time is virtually

annihilated; and separate moments are to our apprehension of them crowded

into one. ~ 109. Notice of some facts which favour the above doctrine.

Some persons will probably entertain doubts of Mr. Stewart's explanation

of the manner in which we perceive the outlines of objects; but there are

various circumstances which tend to confirm it.-When we look for the first

time on any object which is diversified with gaudy colours, the mind is

evidently perplexed with the variety of perceptions which arise; the view

is indistinct, which would not be the case if there were only one, and

that an immediate perception. And even in paintings, which are of a more

laudable execution, the effects at the first perception will be similar.

But there is another fact, which comes still more directly to the present

point. We find that we do not have as distinct an idea, at the first

glance, of a figure of a hundred sides, as we do of a triangle or square.

But we evidently should, if the perception of visible figure were the

immediate consequence of the picture on the retina, and not the combined

result of the separate perceptions of the points in the outline. Whenever

the figure is very simple, the process of the mind is so very rapid that

the perception seems to be instantaneous. But when the sides are

multiplied beyond a certain number, the interval of time necessary for

these different acts of attention becomes perceptible.

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166 HABITS OF SENSATION AND PERCEPTION. We are then distinctly conscious

that the mind labours from one part of the object to another, and that

some time elapses before we grasp it as a whole. ~ 110. Additional

illustrations of Mr. Stewart's doctrine. These views and illustrations are

still further colifirmed by some interesting and, perhaps, more decisive

facts. In 1807, Sir Everard Home, well known for his various philosophical

publications, read before the Royal Society an account of two blind

children whom he had couched for the cataract. One of these was John

Salter. Upon this boy various experiments were made, for the purpose,

among other things, of ascertaining whether the sense of sight does

originally, and of itself alone, give us a knowledge of the true figure of

bodies. Some of the facts elicited under these circumstances have a

bearing upon tihe subject now before us. In repeated instances on the day

of' his restoration to sight, the boy called square and triangular bodies,

which were presented to the visual sense merely, rotund. On a square body

being presented to him, he expressed a desire to touch it. "This being

refused, he examined it for some time, and said at last that he had found

a corner, and then readily counted the four corners of the square; and

afterward, when a triangle was shown him, he counted the corners in the

same way; but, in doing so, his eye went along the edge from corner to

corner, naming them as he went along." On the thirteenth day after the

cataract was removed,the visual power he had acquired was so small that he

could not, by sight, tell a square from a circle, without previously

directing his sight to the corners of the square figure as he did at

first, and thus passing from corner to corner, and counting them one by

one. It was noticed that the sight seemed to labour slowly onward from one

point and angle to another, as if it were incapable of embracing the

outline by a simultaneous and undivided movement. The process, however,

became more and more easy and rapid, until the perception, which at first

was obvious

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MUSCULAR HABITS. 16T ly made up of distinct and successive acts, came to

be in appearance (and we must suppose it was only in appearance) a

concentrated and single one. It was the same with Caspar iHauser. It is

remarked by his biographer, that, whenever a person was introduced to him

(this was probably soon after his release from his prison), he went up

very close to him, regarded him with a sharp, staring look, and noticed

particularly each distinct part of his face, such as the forehead, eyes,

nose, mouth, and chin. HIe then collected.and consolidated all the

different parts of the countenance, which he had noticed separately and

piece by piece, into one whole. And it was not till after this process

that he seemed to have a knowledge of the countenance or face, in

distinction from {le parts of the face. CHAPTER X. MUSCULAR HIABITS. ~

111. Instances in proof of the existence of muscular habits. FnoM habits,

considered as affecting the senses, the transition is easy to MUSCULAR

HABITS. On this subject, therefore, we shall now offer a few remarks.-Of

the fact that such habits exist, it is presumed no doubt can be generally

entertained. Muscular habits may be detected in the gait and in the speech

of men generally; they are found with specific characteristics in

particular classes of men; every mechanic forms them, and they vary in

their aspect with his particular business. Hence the enlarged and powerful

neck of the porter, the strong and brawny arm of the blacksmith, and the

particular habitudes of all their movements. But we will not delay on this

part of the subject any further than to point out one or two familiar

instances.-Every man's handwriting is a striking instance and a proof of

Muscular habit. In acquiring that art, the muscles have undergone a

complete sys

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168 MUSCULAR HABITS. tem of instruction. That instruction and training

they practically and punctually regard ever afterward; so much so that we

can tell a man's writing to which we are accustomed almost as readily as

we recognise the man himself when we see him.-Again, walking is an

instance and illustration of muscular habits. The process of walking is an

easy one; but it is made so by a habit, founded upon a long and difficult

training; and every man has his particular habit or method of walking. We

see evidence that habit is involved in walking in children, who obviously

do not walk by mere instinct, but learn to do it by repeated experiments

made upon the muscles of motion. Not long since, a singular fact came to

the knowledge of the writer, which confirms this remark. A man was

accidentally thrown from his cart, and the wlieel of the cart passed over

his neck and injured his spine. For six weeks he was destitute of the

power of sensation and motion. About that time his sensation was restored,

and the variouis parts of the body were again subjected to the general

control of the will. But he could not walk nor use his arms to any

profitable purpose; not because he was destitute of the voluntary and

muscular power, but because he unexpectedly found himself at a loss to

determine what particular muscles to employ, in order to produce the

desired result. If he wished, for example, to use an extensor muscle in

the arm or leg, he was just as likely to use a flexor as the one he

intended. In other words, he was about as likely to bend his arm, or to

turn his leg in or out, as to straighten them, and it was only by repeated

experiments lhe could ascertain the particular muscles which he wished to

use. In everything relating to bodily action, he was thrown back into the

condition of early childhood, and it was not till after a long and tedious

process of experimenting on the numerous muscles of motion, that he was

enabled to walk and to labour as he was accustomed to do before his

injury. There are, then, muscular habits as well as habits of sensation

and perception. -But the subject of these habits is introduced

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MUSCULARLI HABITS. 169 here, although the train of thought seemed

naturally to lead to it, not so much for its own sake as in consequence of

its connexion with volition. ~ 112. Muscalar habits regarded by some

writers as involuntary. It seems to have been the opinion of some writers

(among others of Drs. Reid and HIartley), that bodily or muscular habits

operate in many cases without design and volition on the part of the

person who has formed them; and that, as they are without any attendant

thought, without any preceding mental operation, such bodily acts are to

be considered as purely mechanical or automatic. They endeavour to explain

and confirm their views by the instance of a person learning to play on

the harpsichord. When a person first begins to learn, it is admitted by

all that there is an express act of volition preceding every motion of the

fingers. By degrees, the motions appear to cling to each other

mechanically; we are no longer conscious of volitions preceding and

governing them. In other words, there is nothing left but the motions;

there is no act of the mind; the performance, admirable as it is, has the

same character and the same merit with that of the action of a

well-contrived machine. ~ 113. Objections to the doctrine of involuntry

muscular habits. In replying to these views, it may be safely admitted

that, in playing the harpsichord and some other musical instruments, we

have not always a distinct remembrance of volitions, and consequently the

muscular effort has sometimes the appearance of being independent of the

will. But this mere appearance is not sufficient to command our assent to

the doctrine advanced by these writers until the four following objections

be set aside. (1.) The supposition that the acts in question are automatic

is nnnecessary.-If it be true, as there is so much reason to believe, that

habit is a general law of our nature, then it may be regarded as

applicable not 1.-H

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170 MUSCULARg IABITS, only to the muscular efforts, but to the preceding

volditions themselves. It is implied in this view (supposing it to be a

correct one), that such volitions may be very rapid, so as scarcely to

arrest our attention a moment. Now the natural result of such slight

attention will be, that they will exist and pass away without being

remembered. These considerations are suffcient to explain the mere

appearance which is admitted to exist, but which Reid and Hartley attempt

to explain by an utter denial of the putting forth of volitions at all.

But, if this be the case, then the supposition that the acts in question

are automatic and involuntary, is an unnecessary one. (2.) The most rapid

performers on musical instruments are able, when they please, to play so

slowly that they can distinctly observe every act of the will in the

various movements of the fingers. And when they have checked their motions

so as to be able to observe the separate acts of volition, they can

afterward so accelerate those motions, and, of course, so diminish the

power (or, what may be regarded as the same thing, the time of attending

to them), that they cannot recall the accompanying volitions. This is the

rational and obvious supposition, that there is not an exclusion of

volitions, but an inability to recollect them, on account of the slight

degree of attention. Any other view necessarily implies an inexplicable

jumble of voluntary- and involuntary actions in the same performance. (3.)

If there be no volitions, the action must be strictly and truly automatic;

that is, it must, from the nature of the case, be the motion of a machine.

It must always go on invariably in the same track, without turning to the

right hand or to the left. If this be the case in playing the harpsichord,

which is by no mneans probable, it is certainly not in some other

instances of habits. It must be supposed, that there is as much rapidity

of volition put forth by the ropedancer, the equilibrist, the equestrian

actor of the circus, &c., as by the player on the harpsichord. Now

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MUSCULAR HABiTS. 171 if it be admitted that the ordinary steps of the

singular and surprising feats they perform are familiar to them, still the

process is evidently not an invariable one. It may be pronounced

impossible for them to perform experiments which agree in every particular

with preceding experiments. They are necessarily governed in their

volitions and movements by a variety of circumstances, which arise on

every particular occasion, and which could not be foreseen. Hence the

muscular movements in these cases, being controlled by the will, are not

mechanical; and as we have abundant reason to believe them often not less

rapid in the performance than the muscular movements are in playing the

harpsichord, why should we consider these last mechanical, and not

voluntary. (4.) And there is this additional consideration. If the

physical action becomes strictly automatic, being impelled onward by its

own law of movement, and at the same time placed beyond any volitional

control, it does not appear how it is to stop at all. And besides, if the

hypothesis of Reid and Hartley be true, then there is some general

tendency or principle in our nature by which actions originally voluntary

are converted into mechanical actions. Nor will it be easy to show why

this principle should not extend further than mere bodily movements. It

will be the result of this tendency to wrest all those powers which it

reaches, whether bodily or mental, from the control of the will. In other

words, when we consider the extent.)f its application, and its wonderful

results, wherever it applies, we must conclude that this principle will

infallibly make men machines, mere automatons, before they have lived out

half their days.-Such are some of the objections to the doctrine that

muscular habits are involuntary.

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114. Conceptivity and characteristics of conceptions. HIAVING considered

the Power of sensation or Sensationality, whose results, strictly

considered, are wholly subjective or internal, and also the Power of

perception or Perceptivity, by means of which the sensations are connected

with their outward causes and thus give us a knowledge of the material

world, and further considered the modification of their action by means of

the auxiliary power of Habit, we proceed now to a third Cognitive power,

namely, the Conceptive power or Conceptivity. By means of the firstnamed

power alone, we should know nothing outside of ourselves; by means of the

second we have a knowledge of outward things, but we are limited in our

knowledge to the objects which are now before us. A little reflection,

therefore, shows us that we need another power, which will enable us to

keep our past knowledges in our possession, when the objects of knowledge

have passed beyond the reach of our senses. The power which enables us to

do this, and without which man would fall far below his present standard

of intelligence and happiness, is the Conceptive power. Undoubtedly the

basis of the existence and action of this faculty is found in the

antecedent existence and action of sensation and perception; but it has

its distinctive place and its appropriate laws and results. Some of the

marks or characteristics of the mental states, which owe their origin to.

Conceptivity, and are therefore called Conceptions, are as follows. (I.)

As already intimated in what has been said of the necessity of the

Conceptive power, conceptions differ in the first place from sensations

and perceptions in this respect, that the external objects which are

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CONCEPTIONS. 173 the foundation of them, and without which they never

could have existed, are not present. When the rose, the honeysickle, or

other odoriferous body is presented to us, the effect which follows in the

mind is termed a sensation. When we afterward think of that sensation (as

we sometimes express it), when the sensation is recalled, even though very

imperfectly, without the object which originally caused it being present,

it then becomes, by the use of language, a CONCEPTION. And it is the same

in instances of perception, considered as distinct from and additional to

sensation. When, inl strictness of speech, we are said to perceive

anything, as a tree, a building, or a mountain, the objects of our

perceptions are in all cases before us. But we may form conceptions of

them; they may be recalled and exist in the mincl's eye, however remote

they may be in fact, both in time and place. (II.) Conceptions differ also

from remembrances or ideas of memory. We take no account of the period,

the particular time, when those objects which laid the foundation of them

were present; whereas in every act of the memory there is combined with

the conception of the thing a notion also of the past time. It is true,

that without conceptions there would be no possibility of the exercise of

the power of memory; but remembrances, as we shall see when we come to the

consideration of that subject, are something more. Conceptions, therefore,

discriminated alike from what goes before and from what comes after, stand

by themselves; with their appropriate origin and name. And in addition to

what has been said there are some things further characteristic of them,

which we will now proceed to notice. ~ 115. Of conceptions of objects of

sight. One of the striking facts in regard to our conceptions is, that we

can far more easily conceive of the objects of some senses than of others.

lie who has beheld the pyramids of Egypt and the imposing remains of

Grecian temples, or has visited among Na

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174 THE CONCEPTIVE POTWER. ture's still greater works the towering heights

of the Alps and the cataract of Niagara, will never afterward be at a loss

in forming a vivid conception of those interesting objects. The visual

perceptions are so easily and so distinctly recalled, that it is hardly

too much to say of them that they seem to exist as permanent pictures in

the mind. It is related of Carsten Niebuhr, a well-known traveller in the

East, that, in extreme old age, after he had become blind, he entertained

his visitors with interesting details of what he had seen many years

before at Persepolis; describing the walls, on which the inscriptions and

bas-reliefs of which he spoke were found, just as one would describe a

building which he had recently visited. His son, who has given an account

of his life, remarks, in connexion with this fact, "we could not conceal

our astonishment. IIe said to us that, as he lay blind upon his bed, the

images of all that he had seen in the East were ever present to his soul;

and it was therefore no wonder that he should speak of them as of

yesterday. In like manner, there was vividly reflected to him, in the

hours of stillness, the nocturnal view of the deep Asiatic heavens, with

their brilliant host of stars, which he had so often contemplated, or else

their blue and lofty vault by day; and this was his greatest enjoyment."

There seems to be less vividness in the conceptions of sound, touch,

taste, and smell, particularly the last three. Every one knows that it is

difficult in ordinary cases to recall with much distinctness a particular

pain which we have formerly experienced, or a particular taste or smell.

The fact that the perceptions of sight are more easily and distinctly

recalled than others may be thus partially explained. —Visible objects,

or, rather, the outlines of them, are complex; that is, they are are made

up of a great number of points or very small portions. IHIence the

conception which we form of such an object as a whole is aided by the

principles of association. The reason is obvious. As every original

perception of a visible object

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CONCEPTIONS. 175 is a compound made up of many parts, whenever we

subsequently have a conception of it, the process is the same; we have a

conception of a part of the object, and the principles of association help

us in conceiving of the other parts. Association connects the parts

together; it presents them to the mind in their proper arrangement, and

helps to sustain them there. We are not equally aided by the laws of

association in forming our conceptions of the objects of the other senses.

In the latter case, the Associative power avails itself of the aid of the

principle of contiguity in time merely; while in the former (that is to

say, in the restoration of visual sensations and perceptions), it avails

itself of the additional principle of contiguity in place. This will be

better understood when we come to the subject of Association. ~ 116. Of

the influence of habit: on our conceptions. It is another circumstance

worthy of notice in regard to conceptions, that the power of forming them

depends in some measure on HAIT. —A few instances will help to illustrate

the statement, that what is termed Habit, and the auxiliary power involved

in it, may extend to the susceptibility of conceptions as well as to

sensations and perceptions; and the first to be given will be of

conceptions of sound. Our conceptions of sounds are not, in general,

remarkably distinct, as was intimated in the last section. It is

nevertheless true, that a person may, by practice, acquire the power of

amusing himself with merely reading written music. Having frequently

associated the sounds with the notes, he has at last such a strong

conception of the sounds, that he experiences by merely reading the notes

a very sensible pleasure. It is for the same reason, viz., because our

conceptions are strengthened by repetition or practice, that readers mav

enjoy the harmony of poetical numbers without at all articulating the

words. In both cases they truly hear nothing; there is no actual sensation

of sound, and yet there is a virtual enunciation and melody in the mind.


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176 THE CONCEPTIVE POWER. seems to be on this principle we are enabled to

explain the fact, that Beethoven composed some of his most valued musical

pieces after he had become entirely deaf; originating harmonic

combinations so profound and exquisite as to require the nicest ear as a

test, at the very time he was unable to hear anything himself. ~ 117.

Influence of habit on conceptions of sight. That our power of forming

conceptions is strengthened by habit, is capable of being further

illustrated from the sight. A person who has been accustomed to drawing

retains a much more perfect notion of a building, landscape, or other

visible object, than one who has not. A portrait painter, or any person

who has been in the practice of drawing such sketches, can trace the

outlines of the human form with very great ease; it requires hardly more

effort from them than to write their names.-This point may also be

illustrated by the difference which we sometimes notice in people in their

conceptions of colours. Some are fully sensible of the difference between

two colours when they are presented to them, but cannot with confidence

give names to these colours when they see them apart, and may even

confound the one with the other. Their original sensations and perceptions

are supposed to be equally distinct with those of other persons; but their

subsequent conception of the colours is far from being so. This defect

arises partly at least from want of practice; that is to say, from the not

having formed a habit. The persons who exhibit this weakness of conception

have not been compelled by their situation, nor by mere inclination, to

distinguish and to name colours so much as is common. ~ 118. Of the

subserviency of our conceptions to description. It is highly favourable to

the talent for lively description when a person's conceptions are readily

suggested and are distinct. Even such a one's common conversation differs

from that of those whose conceptions arise more slowly and are more faint.


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CONCEPTIONS. 177 manll, whether in conversation or in written description,

seems to place the object which he wishes to describe directly before us;

it is represented distinctly and to the life. Another, although not

wanting in a command of language, is confused and embarrassed amid a

multitude of particulars, which, in consequence of the feebleness of his

conceptions, he finds himself but half acquainted with; and he therefore

gives us but a very imperfect and confused notion of the thing which he

desires to make known. It has been by some supposed that a person might

give a happier description of an edifice, of a landscape, or other object,

from the conception than from the actual perception of it. The perfection

of a description does not always consist in a minute specification of

circumstances; in general, the description is better when there is a

judicious selection of them. The best rule for making the selection is to

attend to the particulars that make the deepest impression on our own

minds, or, what is the same thing, that most readily and distinctly take a

place in our conceptions. -When the object is actually before us, it is

extremely difficult to compare the impressions which different

circumstances produce. When we afterward conceive of the object, we

possess merely the outline of it; but it is an outline made up of the most

striking circumstances. Those circumstances, it is true, will not impress

all persons alike, but will somewhat vary with the degree of their taste.

But when, with a correct and delicate taste, any one combines lively

conceptions, and gives a description from those conceptions, he can hardly

fail to succeed in it. And, accordingly, we find here one great element of

poetic power. It is the ability of forming vivid conceptions, which bodies

forth "The forms of things unknown; the poet's pen Turns them to shapes,

and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name." ~ 119. Of

conceptions attended with a momentary belief. Our conceptions are

sometimes attended with beH 2

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178 THE CONCEPTIVE POWER. lief; when they are very lively, we are apt to

ascribe to them a real outward existence, or believe in them. We do not

undertake to assert that the belief is permanent; but a number of facts

strongly lead to the conclusion that it has a momentary existence. (1.) A

painter, in drawing the features and bodily form of an absent friend, may

have so strong a conception, so vivid a mental picture, as to believe for

a moment that his friend is before him. After carefully recalling his

thoughts at such times, and reflecting upon them, almost every painter is

ready to say that he has experienced some illusions of this kind. "We

read," says Dr. Conolly, " that when Sir Joshua Reynolds, after being'many

hours occupied in painting, walked out into the street, the lamp-posts

seemed to him to be trees, and the men and women moving shrubs." It is

true, the illusion is, in these cases, very short, because the intensity

of conception, which is the foundation of it, can never be kept up long

when the mind is in a sound state. Such intense conceptions are unnatural.

And, further, all the surrounding objects of perception, which no one can

altogether disregard for any length of time, tend to check the illusion

and terminate it. (2.) When a blow is aimed at any one, although in sport,

and he fully knows it to be so, he forms so vivid a conception of what

might possibly be the effect,;hat his belief is for a moment controlled,

and he unavoidably shrinks back from it. This is particularly the case if

the blow approaches the eye. Who can help winking at such times? It is a

proof of our belief being controlled under such circumstances, that we can

move our own hands rapidly in the neighbourhood of the eye, either

perpendicularly or horizontally, and, at the same time, easily keep our

eyelids from motion. But when the motion is made by another, the

conception becomes more vivid, and a belief of danger inevitably

arises.-Again, place a person on the battlements of a high tower; his

reason tells him he is in no danger; he knows he is in none. But, after


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CONCEPTIONS. 179 he is unable to look down from the battlements without

fear; his conceptions are so exceedingly vivid as to induce a momentary

belief of danger, in opposition to all his reasonings. (3.) When we are in

pain from having struck our foot against a stone, or when pain is suddenly

caused in us by any other inanimate object, we are apt to vent a momentary

rage upon it. That is to say, our belief is so affected for an instant,

that we ascribe to it an accountable existence, and would punish it

accordingly. This is observed particularly in children and in savages. It

is on the principle of our vivid conceptions being attended with belief

that poets so often ascribe life, and agency, and intention to the rains

and winds, to storms, and thunder, and lightning. How natural are the

expressions of King Lear, overwhelmed with the ingratitude of his

daughters, and standing with his old head bared to the pelting tempest!

"_Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters; I tax not you, ye

elements, with unkindness; I never gave you kingdoms, called you

children." (4.) There are persons who are entirely convinced of the folly

of the popular belief of ghosts and other nightly apparitions, but who

cannot be persuaded to sleep in a room alone, nor go alone into a room in

the dark. Whenever they happen out at night, they are constantly looking

on every side; their quickened perceptions behold images which never had

any existence except in their own minds, and they are the subjects of

continual disquiet and even terror.-" It was my misfortune,) says Dr.

Priestly, "to have the idea of darkness and the ideas of invisible,

malignant spirits and apparitions very closely connected in my infancy,

and to this day, notwithstanding I believe nothing of those invisible

powers, and consequently of their connexion with darkness, or anything

else, I cannot be perfectly easy in every kind of situation in the dark,

though I am sensible I gain ground upon this prejudice continually." In

all such cases we see the influence of the prejn

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180 THE CONCEPTIVE POWER. dices of the nursery. Persons who are thus

afflicted were taught in early childhood to form conceptions of ghosts,

visible hobgoblins, and unearthly spirits, and the habit still continues.

It is true, when they listen to their reasonings and philosophy, they may

well say they do not believe in such things. But the effect of their

philosophy is merely to check their belief; not in ten cases in a thousand

is the belief entirely overcome. Every little while, in all solitary

places, and especially in the dark, it returns, and, when banished,

returns again; otherwise we cannot give an explanation of the conduct of

these persons. ~ 120. Conceptions which are joined with perceptions. The

belief in our mere conceptions is the more evident and striking whenever

they are at any time joined with our perceptions.-A person, for instance,

is walking in a field in a foggy morning, and perceives something, no

matter what it is; but he believes it to be a man, and does not doubt it.

In other words, he truly perceives some object, and, in addition to that

perception, has a mental conception of a man attended with belief. When he

has advanced a few feet further, all at once he perceives that what he

conceived to be a man is merely a stump with a few stones piled on its

top. He perceived at first as plainly, or but little short of it, that it

was a stump, as in a moment afterward; there were the whole time very

nearly the same visible form and the same dimensions in his eye. But he

had the conception of a man in his mind at the same moment, which

overruled and annulled the natural effects of the visual perception; the

conception being associated with a present visible object, acquired

peculiar strength and permanency, so much so that he truly and firmly

believed that a human being was before him. But the conception has

departed, the present object of perception has taken its place, and it is

now impossible for him to conjure up the phantom, the reality of which he

but just now had no doubt of.

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CONCEPTIONS. 181 In his Voyage of Discovery to the Arctic Regions, Captain

Ross mentions an incident illustrative of the power and fruitfulness of

our conceptions, when upheld by the actual presence of objects. It will be

recollected that the immense masses of ice which are found floating in the

Polar Seas often display a variety of the most brilliant hues. Speaking of

one of these icebergs, as they are called, which'he early fell in with,

and which was about forty feet high and a thousand feet long,

"imagination," he says, "painted it in many grotesque figures; at one time

it looked something like a white lion and horse rampant, which the quick

fancy of sailors, in their harmless fondness for omens, naturally enough

shaped into the lion and unicorn of the king's arms, and they were

delighted accordingly with the good luck it seemed to augur." One of the

numerous characters whom Sir Walter Scott has sketched with so much truth

to nature, speaks of himself as being banished on a certain occasion to

one of the sandy keys of the West Indies, which was reputed to be

inhabited by malignant demons. This person, after acknowledging he had his

secret apprehensions upon their account, remarks, " in open daylight or in

absolute darkness, I did not greatly apprehend their approach, but in the

misty dawn of the morning, or when evening was about to fall, I saw, for

the first week of my abode on the Key, many a dim and undefined

spectre-now resembling a Spaniard with his capa wrapped around him, and

his huge sombrera, as large as an umbrella, upon his head-now a Dutch

sailor, with his rough cap and trunk hoseand now an Indian cacique, with

his feathery crown and long lance of cane. I always approached them, but,

whenever I drew near, the phantom changed into a bush, or a piece of

driftwood, or a wreath of mist, or some-such cause of deception." But it

is unnecessary to resort to books for illustrations of this topic.

Multitudes of persons have a conceptive facility of creations, which is

often trouble

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182 THE CONCEPTIVE POWER. some and perplexing, especially in uncommon

sittuations and in the night. And in all cases this tendency is greatly

strengthened whenever it can lay hold of objects, the outlines of which it

can pervert to its own purposes.-In instances of this kind, where the

conceptions are upheld, as it were, by present objects of perception, and

receive a sort of permanency from them, nothing is better known than that

we often exercise a strong and unhesitating belief. These instances,

therefore, can properly be considered as illustrating and confirming the

views in the preceding section. ~ 121. Conceptions as connected with

fictitious representations. These observations suggest an explanation, at

least in part, of the effects which are produced on the mind by

exhibitions of fictitious distress. In the representation of tragedies, it

must be admitted that there is a general conviction of the whole being but

a fiction. But, although persons enter the theatre with this general

conviction, it does not always remain with them the whole time. At certain

peculiarly interesting passages in: the poet, and at certain exhibitions

of powerful and well-timed effort in the actor, this general impression

that all is a fiction, fails. The feelings of the spectator may be said to

rush into the scenes; he mingles in the events; carried away and lost, he

for a moment believes all to be real, and the tears gush at the

catastrophe which he witnesses. The explanation, therefore, of the

emotions felt at the exhibition of a tragedy, such as indignation, pity,

and abhorrence, is, that at certain parts of the exhibition we have a

momentary belief in the reality of the events which are represented. And,

after the illustrations which have been given, such a belief cannot be

considered impossible.-The same explanation will apply to the emotions

which follow our reading of tragedies when alone, or any other natural and

affecting descriptions. In the world of conceptions which the genius of

the writer conjures up, we are transported out of the world

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SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS. 183 of real existence, and for a while fully

believe in the reality of what is only an incantation. The Conceptive

power has a very close connexion with the Imagination; but the precise

relation existing between the two will be more easily explained and

understood, when we come in its proper place to the last-named power.


Origin of the distinction of simple and complex. BEFORE proceeding to the

next cognitive power which comes in course, we delay here for the brief

consideration of another subject, incidental to the proper and full

knowledge of the mind, the importance of which can hardly fail to appear

from a mere statement of it; a subject involving, not the origin of mental

states, but their comparative value. In looking at our thoughts and

feelings as they continually pass under the review of our internal-

observation, we readily perceive that they are not of equal worth; we do

not assign to themn the same estimate; one state of mind is found to be

expressive of one thing only, and that thing, whatever it is, is precise,

and definite, and inseparable; while another state of mind is found to be

expressive of, and virtually equal to, many others. And hence we are led,

not only with the utmost propriety, but even by a sort of necessity, to

make a division of the whole body of our mental affections into the two

classes of SIMPLE and COMPLEX. Nature herself makes the division; it is

one of those characteristics which gives to the mind, in part at least,

its greatness; one of those elements of power without which the soul could

not be what it is, and without a knowledge of which it is difficult to

possess a full and correct understanding of it in other respects.

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184 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS ~ 123. Nature and characteristics of simple

and mental states. We shall first offer some remarks on those mental

states, which are simple, and shall aim to give an understanding of their

nature, so far as can be expected on a subject, the clearness of which

depends more on a reference to our own personal consciousness than on the

teaching of others. Let it be noticed, then, in the first place, that a

simple state of mind CANNOT BE SEPARATED INTO PARTS.It is clearly implied

in the very distinction between simnplicity and complexity, considered in

relation to the states of the mind, that there can be no such separation,

no such division. It is emphatically true of our simple ideas, and

emotions, and desires, and of all other simple states of mind, that they

are one and indivisible. Whenever you can detect in them more than one

element, they at once lose their character of simplicity, and are to be

regarded as complex, however they may have previously appeared.

Inseparableness consequently is their striking characteristic; and it may

be added, that they are not only inseparable in themselves, but are

separate from everything else. There is nothing which can stand as a

substitute for them where they are, or represent them where they are not;

they are independent unities, constituted exclusively by the mind itself,

having a specific and positive character, but nevertheless known only in

themselves. ~ 124. Simple mental states not susceptible of definition. Let

it be observed, in the second place, that simple mental states CANNOT BE

DEFINED.-This view of them follows necessarily from what has been said of

their oneness and inseparableness, compared with what is universally

understood by defining. In respect to deiinitions, it is undoubtedly true,

that we sometimes use synonymous words, and call such use a definition;

but it is not properly such. In every legitimate definition, the idea

which is to be defined is to be separated, as fai' as may be thought

necessary, into its sub

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OF BIENTAL STATES. 185 ordinate parts; and these parfs are to be presented

to the mind for its exanmination, instead of the original mental affection

or state illto which they entered. This process must be gone through in

every instance of accurate defining; this is the general and authorizecl

view of definition; and it is not easy to see in what else it can well

consist. But this process will not apply to our simple thoughts and

feelings, because, if there be any such thing as simple mlental states,

they are characterized by inseparableness and oneness. And, furthermore,

if we define ideas by elmploying other ideas, we must count upon meeting

at last with such as shall be ultimate, and will reject all verbal

explanation; otherwise we can never come to an end in the process. So that

the simple nmental affections are not only undefinable in themselves, but,

if there were no such elementary states of mind, there could be no

defining in any other case; it would be merely analysis upon analysis, a

process without completion, and a labour witho-ut end; leaving the subject

in as much darkness as when the process nas begun. When wve speak of

simple ideas and feelings, and a person, in consequence of our inability

to define them, professes to be ignorant of the terms we use, we can

frequently aid him in understanding them by a statement of the

circumstances, as far as possible, under which the simple mental state

exists. But, having clone this, we can nerely refer himl to his own senses

and consciousness, as the only teachers from which he can expect to

receive satisfaction. ~ 125. Simple cognitive states representative of a

reality. The first two marks apply to all the mental states; the

sentimentive and volitional as well as the intelleetive. A third markl or

characteristic of those simple mental states, which appropriately belong

to the intellect and may be spoken of as cognitive, is that they always

stand for or RIEPRESENT A REALITY. In other words, no simlple idea of this

kind is, in its own

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186 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS nature, delusive or fictitious, but always

has something precisely corresponding to it; we do not say in form or

outline, but in the reality of existence. And this is true both of things

mental and material. If the idea has relation to outward things, there is

something answering to it; and if it has relation to mental things, it is

the same. It is not always so with complex ideas; these, as Mr. Locke

justly gives us to understand, are sometimes CHIMERIcAL. That is to say,

the elements of which they are composed are so brought together and

combined as to form something, of which nature presents no corresponding

reality. If, for instance, a person had an idea of a body, yellow, or of

some other colour, malleable, fixed, possessing, in a word, all the

qualities of iron or of gold, with this difference only of its being

lighter than water, it would be what Mr. Locke terms a CHIMERICAL idea;

because the combination of the elements here exists only in the human

mind, and not in nature; the thing has no outward or objective reality.

The words CENTAUR, DRAGON, and HYPOGRIFF, which are the well-known names

for imaginar.y beings possessing no actual existence, are expressive of

chimerical complex ideas. These ideas have nothing corresponding to themn.

But it is not so with the simnple states of mind, of the class which we

are now considering. If it were otherwise, since in our inquiries after

truth we naturally proceed from what is conmplex to what is simple, there

would be no sure foundation of knowledge. Whenever, in our analysis of a

subject, we arrive at truly simple ideas, we have firm footing; there is

no mistake, no delusion. Nature, always faithful to her own character,

gives utterance to the truth alone. But man, in combining together the

elements which nature furnishes, does not always avoid mistakes. ~ 126.

Origin of complex notions and their relation to simple. Our simple

cognitive states, which we have thus endeavoured to explain, were probably

first in origin.

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OF MENTAL STATES. 187 There are reasons for considering them as antecedent

in point of time to mental states which are complex, although in many

cases it may not be easy to trace the progress of the mind from the one to

the other. The complex notions of external material objects embrace the

separate and simple ideas and sensations of resistance, extension,

hardness, colour, taste, and others. As these elementary cognitions,

whatever may be the distinctive and appropriate name which attaches to

them, evidently have their origin in distinct and separate senses, it is

but reasonable to suppose that they possess a simple before they are

combined together in a complex existence. Simple ideas, therefore, may

justly be regarded as antecedent in point of time to those which are

complex, and as laying the foundation of them. Hence we see that it is

sufficiently near the truth, and that it is not improper to speak of our

complex ideas, as derived from, or made up of simple ideas. This is the

well-known language of Mr. Locke on this subject; and when we consider how

much foundation there is -for it in the constitution and operations of the

human mind, there is good reason for retaining it.Although purely simple

states of the mind are few in number, vast multitudes of a complex nature

are formed from them. The ability which the mind possesses of originating

complex thoughts and feelings from elementary ones, may be compared to our

power of uniting together the letters of the alphabet in the formation of

syllables and words. ~ 127. Supposed complexness without the antecedence

of simple feelings. It is possible, that some persons may object to the

doctrine proposed in the last section, that complex mental states are

subsequent in point of time to those which are simple; and may be inclined

to adopt the opinion, that some at least of our complex notions are framed

at once and immediately, whenever an occasion presents itself, and are not

necessarily dependent

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188 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS on the prior existence of any other

feelings. When the eye, for instance, opens on a wide and diversified

landscape, they suppose the whole to be embraced in one complex mental

state, the formation of which is not gradual and susceptible of

measurement by time, but is truly instantaneous. When we direct our

attention to objects of less extent, as a portrait, a landscape, or

historical painting, they imagine it to be still more evident that the

complexity of mind, correspondcling to the complexity of the object, is a

result without any antecedent process. Without doubt what has now been

said is in some instances apparently the case; but this appearance (for we

cannot speak of it as anything more than such) is susceptible of an

obvious explanation, without an abandonment of the general principle which

has been laid down. No one is ignorant that the mind often passes with

exceeding rapidity along the successive objects of its contemplation. This

rapidity may in some cases be so great, that no foundation will be laid

for remembrance; and of course, in such cases, the complex feeling has the

appearance of being formed without the antecedence of other simple

feelings. Often the eye glances so rapidly over the distinct parts of the

portrait, the historical painting, or even the wide landscape, that we are

utterly unable in our recollection to detect the successive steps of its

progress. There naturally seems, therefore, to be but one view, instead of

distinct and successive glancings of the mind fromn hill to hill, from

forest to forest, and from one verdant spot to another, prior to the

supposed one and instantaneous comprehension of the whole. But there is

much reason for saying that this oneness of comprehension is in seeming

and appearance only, and not in fact. (See ~ 106-108.) ~ 128. The precise

sense in which complexness is to be understood. But while we distinctly

assert the frequent complexness of the mental affections, it should be

particularly kept in mind, that they are not to be regarded

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OF MENTAL STATES. 189 in the light of a material compound, where the

parts, although it may sometimes appear to be otherwise, necessarily

possess no higher unity than that of juxtaposition, and, of course, can be

literally separated from each other, and then put together again. There is

nothing of this kind; neither putting together nor taking asunder, in this

literal and material sense.But if our thoughts and feelings are not made

up of others, and are not complex ill the material sense of the

expressions, what then constitutes their complexness 2 This inquiry gives

occasion for the important remark, that complexness in relation to the

mind is not literal, but virtual only. What we term a complex feeling, in

itself considered and so far as its purely psychical nature is concerned,

is truly simple; but, at the same time, it is-equal to many others, and is

complex only in that sense. Thought after thought, and emotion following

emotion, passes through the mind; and, as they are called forth by the

operation of the laws of association, many of them necessarily have

relation to the same object. Then there follows a new state of mind, which

is the result of those previous feelings, and is complex in the sense

already explained. That is to say, it is felt by us to possess a virtual

equality to those separate antecedent thoughts and emotions. Our simple

feelings are like streams coming from different mountains, but meeting and

mingling together at last in the common centre of some intermediate lake;

the tributary fountains are no longer separable, but have disappeared, and

become merged and confounded in the bosom of their common resting-place.

Or they may be likened to the higher forms of coinage; the dimes and

dollars, which are as much units, in themselves considered, as the tens

and hundreds of the inferior coinage which they represent, and to which

they are equal in value. The language which expresses the composition and

complexity of thought is, therefore, to be regarded as essentially

metaphorical when applied to the mind, and is not to be taken in its

literal meaning. We are

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190 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS under the necessity of employing in this

case, as in others, language which has a material origin, but we shall not

be led astray by it if we carefully attend to what has been said, and

endeavour to aid our conception of it by a reference to our internal

experience. ~ 129. Illustrations of analysis as applied to the mind. The

subject of the preceding section will be the better understood by the

consideration of analysis as applicable to the mind. As we do not combine

literally, so we do not untie or separate literally; as there is no

literal complexness, so there is no literal resolution or analysis of it.

Nevertheless, we have a meaning when we speak of analyzing our thoughts

and feelings. And what is it? What are we to understand by the term

analysis?, Although this subject is not without difficulty, both in the

conception and in the expression of it, it is susceptible of some degree

of illustration.-It will be remembered that there may be analysis of

material bodies. The chemist analyzes when he takes a piece of glass,

which appears to be one substance, and finds that it is not one, but is

separable into silicious and alkaline matter. He takes other bodies, and

separates them in like manner; and, whenever he does this, the process is

rightly called analysis, which literally means taking apart. Now we apply

the same term to the mind; but the thing expressed by it, the process gone

through, is not the same. All we can say is, there is something like this.

We do not resolve and separate a complex thought as we do a piece of glass

or other material body into its parts; we are utterly unable to do it, if

we should seriously make the attempt; every mental state is in itself and

in fact simple and indivisible, and is complex only virtually. Complex

notions are the results rather than the compounds of former feelings;.

and, though not literally made up of parts, have the relation to them

which any material whole has to the elements composing it, and in that

particular sense

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OF MENTAL STATES. 191 may be said to comprehend or embrace the subordinate

notions. Mental analysis accordingly concerns merely this relation. We

perform such an analysis when, by means of our reflection and

consciousness, aided by the power of abstraction, we are able to indicate

those separate and subordinate feelings, to which, in our conception of

it, the complex mental state is virtually equal. The term GOVERNMENT, for

instance, when nsed in reference to the mental perception of the thing

thus named, expresses a complex state of the mind; we may make this mental

state, which is in fact only one, although it is virtually more than one,

a subject of contemplation; and we are said to analyze it when we are able

to indicate those separate and more elementary notions, without the

existence and antecedence of which it could not have been formed by the

mind. We do not literally take the complex state in pieces, but we

designate other states of mind, which every one's knowledge of the origin

of thought convinces him must have preceded it, such as the ideas of

power, right, obligation, command, and the relative notions of superior

and inferior. ~ 130. Complex notions of external origin. The doctrine of

simplicity and complexness of mental states is applicable, in both its

forms, to the Intellective and Sentimentive parts of our nature; in other

words, there may be a complex affection or passion, as well as a complex

perception. The acts of the Will, the other great division of the mental

nature, are always simple. When we consider the subject in reference to

the intellect alone, we may add further, that there is complexity of the

Intellect, both in its internal and external action; and it seems proper,

in this connexion, to say something in particular of COMPLEX NOTIONS Of

EXTERNAL ORIGIN. What we term our simple ideas are representative of the

parts of objects only. The sensations of colour, such as red, white,

yellow; the original intima

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192 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS tions from the touch, such as resistance,

extension, hardness, and softness, do not, in themselves considered, give

us a knowledge of substances, but only of the parts, attributes, or

elements of substances. Accordingly, the ideas which we have of the

various objects of the external world are for the most part complex. We

speak of a house, a tree, a flower, a plant, a mineral, an animal; and in

none of these cases are the ideas which we have simple; but, on the

contrary, embrace a considerable number of eleIents. ~ 131. Of objects

contemplated as wholes. In point of fact, the various external objects

which come under our notice are presented to us as ]wholes; and, as such

(whatever may have been the original process leading to that result), we

very early contemplate them. —Take, for instance, a LOADSTONE. In their

ordinary and common thoughts upon it (the result, probably, of some

ancecedent and very early training), men undoubtedly contemplate it as a

whole; the state of mind which has reference to it embraces it as such.

This complex notion, like all others which are complex, is virtually equal

to a number of others of a more elementary character.HI-ence, when we are;

called upon to give an account of the loadstone, we can return no other

answer than by an enumeration of its elements. It is something which has

weight, colour, hardness, power to draw iron, and whatever else we

discover in it. We use the term GOLD. This is a complex term, and implies

a complexity in the corresponding mental state. But if we use the word

gold,:or any other synonymous word, in the hearing of a man who has

neither seen that substance nor had it explained to him, he will not

understand what is meant to be conveyed. We must enter into an analysis,

and show that it is a combination of the qualities of yellowness, great

weight, fusibility, ductility, and whatever else it possesses. We look

upward to the sun in the heavens.

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OF IMENTAL STATES. 193 But what should we know of that great aggregate, if

we could not contemplate it in the elements of form and extension, of

brightness and heat, of roundness and regularity of motion?-All the

ideas,' therefore, which we form of external objects considered as wholes,

are complex; and all such complex notions are composed of those which are

simple. ~ 132. Something more in external objects than mere attributes or

qualities. [But it is to be anticipated that we shall expose ourselves

here to be pressed by certain inquiries. It will be said, perhaps, that

this makes the whole visible creation a mere aggregate (susceptible

undoubtedly of being arranged into classes, but, after all, a mere

aggregate) of attributes, qualities, or properties. What we behold yonder,

it will perhaps be alleged as an illustration of the objection, is mere

greenness, resistance, hardness, form, &c., but nothing more; it is not a

TREE. In the firmament there is brightness, and heat, and roundness, and

uniformity of motion, but that is all; we mistake when we suppose there is

a reality, an actual sUN. In a word, this view of external objects brings

us back to 6ne of the doctrines ascribed in ancient times to Pyrrho, and

in fact to that modern. Idealism, which has already been noticed, that

there is nothing external to us but certain uniform appearances, which are

mistaken for existences and realities without being so. It is, perhaps,

enough to say in regard to this objection, that we reject the idea of its

being rightfully applied to ourselves, because we do not hesitate to admit

and assert the truth of an existence (however difficult it may be to the

mind fully to conceive of it) independently of these qualities; in other

words, that there is something more, in point of fact, than what is

outwardly exhibited. On a careful examination of our feelings, we shall

probably find it impossible even to conceive of a quality without a

subject, or an attribute without some object to which it belongs. We I.-I

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194 SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS believe (and we cannot help believing) that

there must necessarily be some foundation, some basis, which is the

support of such attributes and qualities. We may not be able to tell

precisely what it is; we may not have it in our power to describe or

define it; but still it exists. The quality, therefore, and the existence

to which it belongs, the outward accessible presentation and the

subjective nature or essence, are not, in the view of the mind, identical.

(See ~ 93-96.) It will, then, perhaps be asked, Why do we not direct our

attention at once to the true subjective existence, to matter itself, and

not delay upon its appendages? The answer is, we cannot; the mind has its

limits. It might be asked, with the same reason, Why we do not look

directly into the existence and essence of the Deity, instead of studying

Hlin in his worlks and intermediate manifestations? It might be asked, Why

we do not directly contemplate the existence and essence of the mind,

instead of studying it in its attributes and operations? The answer in all

these cases is the same, viz., that we are unable to do it. And yet we

believe in the existence and reality of a God, although we know him only

through his manifestations and attributes. We believe in the existence and

reality of the human mind, although the direct subject of our knowledge is

not the mind itself, but merely its attributes and operations. It is the

same in regard to the material world. The qualities and properties of

bodies are the signs or marks which are immediately presented to our

notice. They form the occasion on which the mind, by its Suggestional or

Intuitional power, to be considered hereafter in its appropriate place,

assures us of something more than the signs which immediately fall under

our notice. This something, which we cannot help regarding as an actual

and independent reality, we call variously a material subject, material

existence; or simply matter. ~ 133. Explanatory remarks on the true

philosophical method. And at this point in our inquiries we can perhaps

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OF IENTAL STATES. 195 briefly state, with the hope of being better

understood than at any earlier time, some of the characteristics of the

mental method which we have proposed to pursue. And FIRST, in order to

relieve this department of knowledge from some of the perplexities which

have attended its progress, the distinction is to be carefully observed

between mental philosophy and Ontology. Mental philosophy, conceding the

existence of the mind and its inherent powers as an admitted fact, deals

chiefly with the phenomena which the mind exhibits and the classification

of them. Ontology, desirous of knowing what it is which lies back of

phenomena, advances with greater boldness but with less success, and

announces itself as the science of existence. The problems of existence,

which are hidden in the Infinite or Absolute of things, belong to God, and

can never be exhausted by any thing short of omniscience. The problems of

phenomena, coming within the limits of the finite, can be dealt with by

faculties which are adapted to them, and are brought within the reach- of

human cognitions, so far at least as it is necessary or best for us to

know them. (2.) Further, the most satisfactory method, in attempting to

learn the history and character of the mind, is that which has been so

successful in other departments of science, and which is known from its

earliest and ablest expositor as the Baconian. A method which, commencing

with the rejection of all prejudices, and having no interests but those of

truth, proceeds with the careful observation and the equally careful

classification of mental facts, as they are disclosed not only in the

sphere of our own consciousness, but as they are revealed in the

observation of the thoughts and feelings of others, and in the history of

men in all ages. This method, in its application to the mind, includes all

the facts and intimations, especially those relating to personality and

the foundation of moral distinctions, which are suggested and affirmed by

the Intuitional power, as well as the knowledge coming from other sources.


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196- SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS. method, therefore, so far as it is

legitimately based upon intuitional facts, and is kept true to the laws of

our mental nature, is included within the sphere of the Baconian process,

when the latter is understood and interpreted in its true spirit. (3.)

Again, such is the connexion between the mind and the body, that a true

philosophy of the mind includes some knowledge of physical conditions. And

although it would be an error to accept the extreme views of Cabanis, a

well-known French physician and materialistic philosopher, who maintained

that "all ideas, sentiments, and passions, goodness, and virtue, are

derived from physical sensation," and of other writers of this class, the

philosophic method will require the acceptance and study of certain

departments of physiology and pathology, as helps in the interpretation of

mental action. The distinction first drawn and demonstrated by Sir Charles

Bell between the nervous filaments connected with sensation and those

connected with motion may serve as an illustration of the importance of

the study of the body, as an auxiliary means of understanding the action

of the mind. Still more striking illustrations may be found in numerous

able treatises on Insanity, which justly make great account, in their

attempts to explain the disordered manifestations of the mind, of the

physiology and functions of the brain and the nervous system. (4.) It

comes also within the sphere of mental philosophy to indicate its relation

to the many and important departments of science, which, in their

principles, if not in their applications, are based upon it, or are

closely connected with it. The principles of morals, the laws of evidence,

the doctrine of sesthetics, logic, language, axiomatic truths, artistic

taste, the philosophy of eloquence, the philosophic relation of the

sciences to each other, religion itself which connects the soul with

God,-it is difficult to see how these. and other great departments,

involving thought and feeling, and truth and dutyi can be rightly un

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ABSTRACTION. 197 derstood, except in the light which is communicated

through a knowledge of the nature and operations of the human mind.


implied in the analysis of complex ideas. THE remarks which have been made

in the course of the foregoing chapter, on the analysis and examination of

our Complex Intellectual states, naturally lead to the consideration of

another subject, in some respects intimately connected with that topic.

When we have once formed a complex notion (no matter at what period, in

what way, or of what kind), it not unfrequently happens that we desire,

for various reasons, to examine more particularly some of its parts. Very

frequently this is absolutely necessary to the full understanding of it.

Although undoubtedly its elementary parts once came under review, that

time is now long past; it has become important to institute a new

inspection, to take each simple notion involved in it, and examine it by

itself. And this is done by means of the process of ABSTRACTION, and in no

other way. By the aid of that process, our complex notions, however

comprehensive they may be, are susceptible, if one may be allowed so to

speak, of being taken to pieces, and the elementary parts may be

abstracted or separated from each other; that is, they are made subjects

of consideration apart from other ideas, with which they are ordinarily

found to be associated. And hence, whenever this is the case in respect to

the states of the mind, they are sometimes called ABSTRACTIONS, and still

more frequently are known by the name of ABSTRACT IDEAS. For the purpose

of distinctness in what we have to say, they may be divided into the two

classes of Par

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198 ABSTRACTION. ticular and General; that is to say, in some cases the

abstraction relates only to a single idea or element; in others it

includes more.-General Abstract Ideas (or the notions which we form of

Genera and Species) will form a distinct subject of consideration. ~ 135.

Instances of particular abstract ideas. We shall proceed, therefore, to

remark here on Particular abstractions. Of this class, the notions which

we form of the different kinds of colours may be regarded as instances.

For example, we hold in our hand a rose; it has extension, colour, form,

fragrance. The mind is so deeply occupied with the colour as almost wholly

to neglect the other qualities. This is a species of abstraction, although

perhaps an imperfect one, because, when an object is before us, it is

difficult, in. our most attentive consideration of any particular quality

or property, to withdraw the mind wholly from the others. When, on the

contrary, any absent object of perception occurs to us, when we think of

or form a conception of it, our thoughts will readily fix upon the colour

of such object, and make that the subject of consideration, without

particularly regarding its other qualities and attributes, such as weight,

hardness, taste, extension, and form. We may also distinguish in any body

(either when present or still more perfectly when absent) its solidity

from its extension, or we may direct our attention to its weight, or its

length, or breadth, or thickness, and make any one of these a distinct

object in our thoughts. And hence, as it is a well-known fact that the

properties of any body may be separated in the view and examination of the

mind, however closely they may be connected in their appropriate subjects,

we may layV down this statement in respect to the states of the mind

before us, viz.: When any quality or attribute of an object, which does:

not exist by itself, but in a state of combination, is detached by our

minds from its customary associates, and is considered separately, the

notion we form of it becomes a particular abstract

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THE ABSTRACTIVE POWER. 199 idea.-The distinctive mark of this class is,

that the abstraction is limited to one quality. It should, perhaps, be

particularly, added, that the abstraction or separation may exist

mentally, when it cannot take place in the object itself. For instance,

the length of a building, its breadth and color, and even its size and

figure, may each of them be made subjects of separate mental

consideration, although there can be no real or actual separation of these

things in the building itself. If there be any one of these properties,

there must necessarily be all. ~ 136. Names, and complexity in the power

of abstraction. The power by which this is done is variously called

Abstraction, or the Abstractive power, and sometimes, without any

violation of the recognised analogies of the language, by the appropriate

term "Abstractment." A power of the mind always implies something to be

effected; and if there is a definite susceptibility, either simple or

complex, which is appropriate to the result, aInd which secures that

result when nothing else can do it, it is entitled to be called a power.

It stands as a distinct addition to the mental forces, and brings to our

view a new element, without which man would fall short of that

intellectual greatness which characterizes and illustrates his existence.

And thus making, in this general Department of the mind, the Cognitive

powers the special subjects of consideration, but introducing here and

elsewhere, as it is most convenient, the Auxiliary powers which diversify

and strengthen all other mental activities, we proceed, with a careful

regard to the comparative position which nature has assigned them, from

Sensation to Perception, from Perceptivity to the Conceptive power; and

onward step by step to the important power of Abstraction, which, coming

next in course, will be found to widen the sphere of mental activity, and

to give a new element of dignity and strength. (2.) We have already had

occasion to say, in a for

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200 ABSTRACTION OR ABSTRACTIAIENT. mer chapter, that some powers of the

mind are simple, others complex; some, like the powers of Sensation and

Intuition, securing their results, so far as we can judge, by a single

movement; others, like the Reasoning power and the Imagination, fulfilling

the objects for which they were given us by a complexity of action. It is

generally conceded, I believe, that the abstractive or abstractional power

aims at and secures the results which it holds under its control, not by a

single act, but. by a complexity of movement, consisting in a number of

distinct mental operations, but all of them regulated and harmonized by

appropriate relational adjustments and by unity of purpose. The statement

may be illustrated thus. The process which is gone throu'gh in every case

of abstraction, applies of course to those things and those states of mind

which are complex; but which, though now consolidated in a complex form,

are nevertheless made lp of separate elements. Not only the object of

thought, whether external or internal, sensuous or supersensuouS, is a

complexity; but the idea which corresponds to it, and which brings it

within the reach of mental examination, is complex also. And accordingly,

leaving the outward object, whether material or psychical, and.limiting

our examination to the corresponding idea, it will be found that the

process under consideration presents, as the thing to be done by it, the

separation of a particular abstract idea from those ideas with which it

has been customarily associated. (3.) And in doing this, it appears, in

analyzing the complex activity of Abstractment, that there is, and must

be, something of the nature of a mental deterluination or choice; in other

words, an act of the will. And further, it is a necessity, that this act

of the will shall concern the previous complex mental state, when viewed

in one respect rather than another; or, what is the same thing, it will

concern one part of the complex idea rather than another. So that we may

truly and justly be said to have not only a desire, but a determination to

consider or examine sonme part of the

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PARTICULAR ABSTRACT IDEAS. 201 complex idea more particularly than the

others. When the mind is in this manner directed to any particular part of

a complex notion, we find it to be the fact, that the principle of

association, or whatever principle it is, which keeps the othler parts in

their state of union with it, ceases in a greater or less degree to

operate and to maintain that union; the other parts, ceasing to be kept

together by the action of the power which had previously constituted their

union, rapidly fall off and disappear, and the particular quality, towards

which the mind is especially directed, remains the sole subject of

consideration. That is to say, it is abstracted, and the mental state

which interiorly corresponds to it becomes an abstract idea.-If, for

example, we have in mind the complex notion of any object, a house, tree,

plant, flower, and the like, but have a desire and determination to make

the colour, which forms a part of this complex notion, a particular

subject of attention, the consequence is, that, while the quality of

colour occupies our chief regard, the other qualities will disappear and

no more be thought of. If we determine to examine the weight or extension

of an object, the result will be the same; in other wvords, the extension,

weight, colour, and whatever else may be discriminated in its attributes,

will become distinct and exclusive objects of attention, and will thus be

mentally abstracted. (4.) Such, in the formation of particular abstract

ideas, seems, when we analyze it into its elementary steps, to be the

process of the mind, viz.: The direction of an act of the will to a

particular part of a complex notion, and the consequent detention of the

part towards which the mental choice is directed, and the natural and

necessary disappearance, under such circumstances, of the other parts. But

the process, restricted by appropriate occasions and aiming at special

objects, exhibits a unity of design and- a certainty of result, which

entitles it to be called a power. 12

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202 ABSTRACTION OR ABSTRACTMENT. ~ 137. Of generalizations of particular

abttract mental states. The terms GrENERALIZING and GENERALIZATION are

often found applied to the states of mind under consideration. When we

have made any quality of a body a distinct and separate subject of

attention, we may further regard it as belonging to one or more objects,

according as we find such to be the fact or otherwise. What is chiefly

meant- therefore, when we speak of the generalizing of this class of

abstract notions, is, that, in our experience of things, we observe them

to be common to many subjects. We find whiteness to be a quality of snow,

of chalk, of milk, and of other bodies; and whenever, with the simple

abstract notion of whiteness, we connect in our thoughts the additional

circumstance of its not being limited to one body, but the property of

many, the term may be said to be generalized.; And this seems to be all

that can be properly understood by generalization when applied to the

states of mind now before us. ~ 138. Of the importance and uses of

abstraction. The power of Abstraction is by no means an unimportant one,

even when limited to the separation of the particular or simple elements

of thought.-" A carpenter," says Kames,* speaking of the great utility of

abstraction, " considers a log of wood with regard to hardness, firmness,

colour, and texture; a philosopher, neglecting these properties, makes the

log undergo a chemical analysis, and examines its taste, its smell, and

component principles; the geometrician confines his reasoning to the

figure, the length, breadth, and thickness; in general, every artist,

abstracting from all other properties, confines his observations to those

which have a more immediate connexion with his profession." Besides its

well-known uses in the various forms of reasoning (particularly

demonstrative reasoning), abstraction is greatly subservient to the

exertions of a creative imagination, as they appear in painting, archi*

Elements of Criticism, Tol. iii., Appendix.

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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 203 tecture, poetry, and the other fine or liberal

arts.The poet and the painter are supplied wvith their materials from

experience; withont having received ideas from some source, they never

could have practised their art. But, if they do not restrict themselves to

mere imitation, they mnust combine and modify the ideas which they have,

so as to be able to form new creations of -their own. But every such

exertion of their powers presupposes the exercise of abstraction in

decomposing and separating actual conceptions, and in forming them anew.

The power of abstraction, therefore, may justly be considered as a

characteristic of the great masters in the liberal arts. From how many

delightful forms in nature, and how many ideal temples, contemplated for a

long time in the mind's eye, must the genius that planned the Parthenon

have abstracted eachl form of beauty and excellence of proportion! From

how many forests, both seen and finagined, and fields of bloom, and rivers

and waterfalls, must the mind that conceived the Garden of Paradise Lost

have drawn the sounds that delight the ear, and the colo-urs that are

pleasant to the sight CIIHAPTER XIV. GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. ~ 139.

General abstract notions the same with genera and species. TEV proceed, in

connexion with the remarks of the last chapter, to the consideration of

GEIERAL ABSTRACT ideas; a subject of so much interest that it deserves a

separate notice; and which has frequently been thought to be attended with

no small difficulty. General Abstract notions are not only different, in

consequence of embracing a greater number of elementary parts, from those

which are particular, but are also susceptible of being distinguished from

the great body of our other complex notions.-The idea, for example, which

we form of any individual, of

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204 TIIE ABSTRACTIVE POWER. John, Peter, or James, is evidently a complex

one, but it is not necessarily a general one. The notion which we frame of

a particular horse or of a particular tree, is likewise a complex idea,

but not a general one. There will be found to be a clear distinction

between them, although it may not be perfectly obvious at first. GENERAL

ABSTRACT IDEAS are our notions of the classes of objects, that is, of

Genera and Specie. They are expressed by general names, without, in most

cases, any defining or lim.itation, as when we use the words ANIALL,

MlAN:, HOIRSE, BIRD, SHIEEP, FISH, TREE, not to express any one in

particular of these various classes, but animals, men, horses, and trees

in general. ~ 140. Process in classification, or the forming of genera and

species. ~Now if our general abstract ideas, as far as they relate to

external objects, are truly notions of SPECIES and GETNERA, it will aid us

in the better understanding of theml if we briefly consider how species

and genera are formed. lMVen certainly find no great practical difficulty

in forming these classifications, since we find that they do in fact make

them in numberless instances, and at a very early period of life. They

seem to be governed in the process by definite and uniform mental

tendencies,-Vi~hat, then, in point of fact, is the process in

classification. It is obvious, in the first place, that no classification

can be made without considering two or more objects together. A number of

objects, therefore, are first presented to us for our observation and

inquiry, which are to be exanmined first in themselves. and then in

comparison with each other. 5We will take a familiar scene to illustrate

what takes place. We suppose ourselves to stand on the bank of a navigable

river; we behold the flowing of its waters, the cliffs that overhang it,

the trees that line its shore, the boats and boatmen on its bosom, the

flocks and herds that prels down to drink from its waves. W~ith such a

scene before us, it is to be expected that the mind will rapidly make each

and all of these the sub

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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 205 jects of its contemplation; nor does it pursue

this contemplation and inquiry far, without perceiving certain relations

of agreement or difference. Certain objects before- it are felt to-be

essentially alike, and others to be essentially different; and hence they

are not all arranged in one class, but a discrimination is made, and

different classes are formed. The flocks and herds are formed into their

respective classes. The tall and leafy bodies on the river's bank,

although they differ from each other in some respects, are yet found to

agree in so many others, that they are arranged together in another class,

and called by the general name of TREE. The living, moving, and reasoning

beings, that propel the boats on its waters, form another class, and are

called IAxN. —And there is the same process, and the same result, in

respect to all other bodies coming within the range of our observation. ~

141. Early classifications sometimes incorrect. It has been intimated,

that, in making these classifications, men are governed by definite and

uniform mental tendencies; still it must be acknowledged that mistakes are

sometimes committed, especially in the early periods of society, and in

all cases where the opportunities of examination and comparison are

imperfect. When man first opens his eyes on nature (and in the infancy of

our race, he finds himself a novice wherever he goes), objects so

numerous, so various in kind, so novel and interesting, crowd upon his

attention, that, attempting to direct himself to all at the same time, he

loses sight of their specifical differences, and blends them together more

than a calm and accurate examination would justify. And hence it is not to

be wondered at that our earliest classifications, the primitive genera and

species, are sometimes incorrectly made. Subsequently, when knowledge has

been in some measure amassed, and reasoning and observation have been

brought to a greater maturity, these errors are

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206 ABSTRACTION OR ABSTRACTMENT. attended to; individuals are rejected

from species where they do not properly belong, and species from genera.

The most savage and ignorant tribes will in due season correct their

mistakes and be led into the truth. ~ 142. Illustrations of our earliest

classifications. We are naturally led to introduce some circumstances here

which throw light on this part of our subject. What we wish to illustrate

is the simple fact, that men readily perceive the resemblances of objects,

and exhibit a disposition to classify them in reference to sulch

resemblance. The first case which we shall mention in illustration of this

is that of Caspar Hauser. The principal objects which Caspar had to amuse

himself with in his prison were two little wooden horses, which, in his

entire ignorance, he believed to be possessed of life and sensibility.

After the termination of his imprisonment, his biographer informs uls,

that to "every animal he met with, whether quadruped or biped, dog, cat,

goose, or fowl, he gave the name of horse." In the year 1814, Pitcairn's

Island, a solitary spot in the Pacific Ocean, was visited by two English

cruisers. Two of the young men that belonged on the island, and whose

knowledge was, of course, exceedingly limited, came on board one of the

vessels. " The youths," says the Narrative, "were greatly surprised at the

sight of so many novel objects; the size of the ship, the guns, and

everything around them. Observing a cow, they were at first alarmed, and

expressed a doubt whether it was a huge goat or a horned hog, these being

the only two species of quadrupeds they had ever seen." The English

navigator Cook, in going from New Zealand to the Friendly Islands, lighted

on an island called Wateeoo. —' The inhabitants," he says, " were afraid

to come near our cows and horses, nor did they form the least conception

of their nature. But the sheep and goats did not surpass the limits of


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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 207 ideas, for they gave us to understand they

knew them to be birds." Captain Cook informs us that these people were

acquainted with only three sorts of animals, viz., dogs, hogs, and

birds.-Of hogs and dogs they had probably never known more than one

variety or class, and had never been led to suspect that there was, or

could be, any other. But, having noticed a great variety of birds in their

forests and waters, they had undoubtedly found it necessary, before this

period, not only to give a general name expressive of all birds, but also

to classify some of the subordinate varieties. This people, therefore, not

unnaturally, although we we do not pretend to say with much

discrimination, applied the term BIRDS to the sheep and goats of the

English. They knew not but there might be some new class of birds which

they had not hitherto noticed; and they saw no insuperable objection in

the size of the sheep and goats to this disposition of them, whatever

other objection they might, on a further examination, have subsequently

found. ~ 143. Of the nature of general abstract ideas. The notions which

are thus formed in all cases of classification, are commonly known, in the

Treatises having relation to these subjects, as General Abstract ideas.

And they are no less numerous than the munltiplied varieties of objects

which are found to exist everywhere around us. It is thus that we form the

general notions of animal and of all the subordinate species of animals;

of tree and its numerous varieties; of earths and minerals, and whatever

else is capable of being arranged into classes. We may apply these views

not only to natural objects, but to forms and relations of a very

different character. The word Triangle is the name of a general abstract

idea. Great exceptions, however, have been taken to certain incautious

expressions of Mr. Locke on this point. He asserts that it requires some

pains and skill to form the general idea of a triangle,

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208 ABSTRACTION on ABISTRACTMENT. and gives the following reason: "for it

must neither be oblique nor rectangle, neither equilateral, equicrlral,

nor scalenon, but all and none of these at once." This language is

undoubtedly open to some degree of criticism. The correct view seems to be

this. The word TRIANGLE is not only the name of a class, but of a very

general class; it is the name of a Genns, embracing all those figures

which agree in the circumnstance of being bounded by three straight lines

meeting one another so as to form three angles. A figure having any other

form (in other words, not exhibiting a resemblance or similarity in this

respect), is excluded from the Genus; but it is still so extensive, taken

in the sense just now mnentioned, as to include all figurees whatever of

that name. —Now there are embraced within the genus, as in numerous other

cases, subordinate classes, which are distinguished by their appropriate

names, viz., the class of acute-angled triangles, that of right-angled

triangles, of obtuse-angled triangles, &c. But it is to be noticed, that

the general idea, whatever objects it may be founded upon, does not

embrace every particular which mlakes a part of such objects. When we look

at a numnber of men, we find them all differing in some respects, in

height, size, cdlour, tone of voice, and in other particulars. The mind

fixes only upon those traits or properties with which it can combine the

notion of resemblance; that is to say, those traits, qualities, or

properties in which the individuals are perceived to be alike, or to

resemble each other.-The complex mental state, which embraces these

qualities and properties, and nothing more (with the exception of the

superadded notion of other bodies having resembling qualities), is a

General Abstract idea. And hence the name. Such notions are called

ABSTRACT, because, while embracing many individuals in certain respects,

they detach and leave out altogether a variety of particulars in which

those individuals disagree. If there were not this discrimination and leav

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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 209 ing out of certain parts, we never could

consider these notions, regarded as wholes, as otherwise than individual

or particular.-They are called GENERAL, because, in consequence of the

discrimination and selection which has just been mentioned, they embrace

such qualities alid properties as exist not in one merely, but in many.

The difference, therefore, between the complex notion which we form of any

particular object, and the general complex feeling now under

consideration, is truly this: the latter combines together fewer

particulars, but unites with such as it does combine together the

additional notion of resemblance, which implies as its basis the

comparison of a number of objects, and is, perhaps, the distinguishing

circumstance. If it should be asked, By virtue of what principle is this

discovery of a resembling relation made. the answer is to be found in the

fact, that there is in the mind an original tendency or susceptibility, by

means of which, whenever we perceive different objects together, we are

instantly, without the intervention of any other mental process, sensible

of their relation in certain respects. This susceptibility, which deals

with the relations of things, and which is known as the power of Relative

Suggestion or Judgment, will be noticed in its appropriate place. ~ 144.

Objection sometimes made to the existence of general notions. It is proper

briefly to notice an objection sometimes made, viz., that it is not

possible for us to have such general notion at all, because there is

nothing outward which the general notion or idea precisely corresponds to.

This objection goes too far. It would seem even to lead to the conclusion

that we can have no complex idea of any kind, neither particular nor

general. It cannot be pretended that even our complex notions of

particular objects correspond precisely to those objects. The ideas which

we form of a particular house, tree, or plant, or any other individual

object, are often erroneous in some respects, and probably always im

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210 POWER OF ABSTRACTION. perfect. But they are not, for that reason, to

be regarded as false and chimerical, and to be rejected as having no

foundation in nature. We will suppose ourselves to have been acquainted in

former years with a particular elm; we have looked upon it a thousand

times, and it is familiar to us as any of our most cherished remembrances.

At this great distance of time and place we form an idea, a conception, a

notion of it, but it cannot be presumed to be a perfect or complete one.

It cannot be pretended that we have a notion not only of the trunk, bnt of

every leaf and of the form of every leaf, and of every branch and its

intertwinings with every other branch; that it exists in our minds

precisely, and in every respect, the same as it exists on the spot where

it grows. If, therefore, general abstract ideas are to be rejected because

they embrace only parts of those objects which are ranked under them, we

must on the same grounds reject and deny also our complex notions of

individual objects; but this probably no one is prepared to do. ~ 145. The

power of general abstraction in connexion with numbers, &c. The ability

which the mind possesses of forming general abstract ideas is of much

practical importance; but whether it be the characteristical attribute of

a rational nature or not, as some have supposed, it is not necessary now

to inquire. It is not easy to estimate the increase of power which is thus

given to the action of the human mind, particularly in reasoning. By means

of general abstract propositions, we are able to state volumes in a few

sentences; that is to say, the truths, stated and illustrated in a few

general propositions, would fill volumes in their particular applications.

But it is enough here to refer to a single circumstance in illustration of

the uses of this power. Without the ability of forming general notions, we

should not be able to znumber, even in the smallest degree. Before we can

consider objects as forming a

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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 211 multitude, or are able to number them, it

seems necessary to be able to. apply to them a common name. This we cannot

do until we have reduced them to a genus; and the formation of a genus

implies and requires the exercise of the power of abstraction.

Consequently, we should be unable, without such power, to number. —How

great, then, is the practical importance of that intellectual process by

which general abstractions are formed! -Without the ability to number, we

should be at a loss in all investigations where this ability is required;

without the power to classify, all our speculations must be limited to

particulars, and we should be capable of no general reasoning. ~ 146. Of

general abstract truths or principles. There are not only general abstract

ideas, but abstract truths or principles also of a general nature, which

are deserving of some attention, especially in a practical point of view.

Although enough has already been said to show the importance of

abstraction, it may yet be desirable to have a more full view of its

applications. The process in forming general truths or principles of an

abstract nature seems to be this. We must begin undoubtedly with the

examination and study of particulars; with individual objects and

characters, and with insulated events. We subsequently confirm the truth

of whatever has been ascertained in such inquiry by an observation of

other like objects and events.- We proceed from one individual to another

till no doubt remains. —Having in this way arrived at some general fact or

principle, we thenceforward throw aside the consideration of the

particular objects on which it is founded, and make it alone, exclusively

and abstractly, the subject of our mental contemplations. We repeat this

process again and again, till the mind, instead of being wholly taken up

with a multitude of particulars, is stored with truths of a general kind.

These truths it subsequently combines in trains of reasoning, compares

together, and deduces from thelm others of still wider application.

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212 ABSTRACTION OR ABSTRACTMIENT. ~ 147. Of the speculations of

philosophers and others. What has been said leads us to observe, that

there is a characteristical difference between the speculations of men of

philosophic minds and those of the common mass of people which is worthy

of some notice. The difference between the two is not so much, that

philosophers are accustomed to carry on processes of reasoning to a

greater extent, as this, that they are more in the habit of empldying

general abstract ideas and general terms, and that, consequently, the

conclusions which they form are more comprehensive. Nor are their general

reasonings, although the conclusions at which they arrive seem in their

particular applications to indicate wonderful fertility of invention, so

difficult in the performance as is apt to be supposed. They have so often

and so long looked at general ideas and general propositions; have been so

accustomed, as one may say, to contemplate the general nature of things,

divested of all superfluous and all specific circumstances, that they have

formed a hacbit;J and the operation is performed without difficulty. It

requires in such persons no greater intellectual effort than would be

necessary in skilfully managing the details of ordinary business. The

speculations of the great bulk of mankind differ from those of

philosophers in being, both in the subjects of them and in their results,

particular. They discover an inability to enlarge their view to universal

propositions, which embrace a great nunmber of individuals. They may

possess the power of mere argument, of comparing propositions together

which concern particulars, and deducing inferences from them to a great

degree; but when they attempt to contemplate general propositions, their

minds are perplexed, and the conclusions which are drawn from them appear

obscure, however clearly the previous process of reasoning may have been

expressed. ~ 148. Of different opinions formerly prevailing. The subject

of general abstract ideas, of which we

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GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. 213 have thus given a summary view, excited very

considerable interest during the Scholastic ages; and different opinions

have prevailed concerning them, not only at that period, but more or less

down to the present time. It is perhaps not necessary in most cases and

for most persons to plunge deeply into the history of philosophical

opinions. The discordant views which are there found have a tendency to

confuse and embarrass the young mind. A knowledge of the truth, when it is

once found, is in general of far greater consequence than an acquaintance

with the prolonged and conflicting discussions which led to it. The

disputes, however, on ihe topic of general abstractions so widely

prevailed, and excited so much interest and effort, that it seems to be

necessary to give a short sketch of some of them. We propose, therefore,

to refer briefly to two conflicting systems of thought and argument on

this subject, Nominalism and Conceptualism. ~ 149. Of the opinions of the

Nominalists. About the commencement of the 12th century, Roscelinus, the

instructor of Abelard, whose name occupies so conspicuous a place in the

history of Scholastic learning, laid the foundations of Nominalism.

Denying the existence of general abstract ideas, he maintained that

nothing can be called general or universal but names, and that even to

them universality can be ascribed only virtually, and not in the strict

and literal sense of the term.-That is, the names are in the first

instance given to individuals, but when any individuals are specified, the

nature of the mind is such, that we naturally and immediately think of

other individuals of the same kind. So that the names are in fact

particular, although, owing to the operation of the principle of

association, the practical effect is the same as if it were otherwise, and

hence the epithets "general" and " universal" are applied to them. This

opinion in respect to general ideas and names, or some doctrine

essentially of this description, has found

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214 GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. many advocates from the days of Roscelinus to

those of Berkeley and iHume. ~ 150. Of the opinions of the Conceptualists.

Those who hold to the actual existence of general abstract ideas, a

doctrine which is commonly and truly understood to imply the actual

existence in some generic form of the objects which they represent, in

other words an objective Realism, have generally been called

Conceptualists. And of this number, among the celebrated men of earlier

times, was Abelard, who seems to have had a deeper philosophical insight

than his teacher Roscelinus. We have already given, with such distinctness

as the obscurity and difficulty of the subject admitted, what we suppose

to be the true mental process. Whether we are right, believing as we do

that the mind itself is and must be its own interpreter, we leave to the

testimony of each one's internal and external experience, subjected to the

reflex process of a candid examination. But it is possible that some may

be desirous of a single testimony from other sources. Some of the

objections to the doctrine of IRoscelinus and those who have thought with

him, are forcibly summed up in Dr. Thomas Brown's Philosophy of the Mind,

Lectures 46 and 47. We quote the passages here, both on account of their

intrinsic value, andt for the purpose of- recalling, -as we have done in

some other instances, the name and merits of an able writer. "Of that

rigid Nominalism, which involves truly no mixture of Conceptualism, or of

the belief of those feelings of relation for which I have contended, but

denies altogether the existence of that peculiar class of feelings or

states of mind which have been denominated general notions or general

ideas, asserting the existence only of individual objects perceived, and

of general terms that comprehend these, without any peculiar mental state

denoted by the general term, distinct from those separate sensations or


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NOMINALISM AND CONCEPTUALISM. 215 which the particular objects

comprehended under the term might individually excite, it seems to me that

the very statement of the opinion itself is almost a sufficient

confutation, since the very invention of the general term, and the

extension of it to certain objects only, not to all objects, implies some

reason for this limitation, some feeling of general agreement of the

objects included in the class, to distinguish them from the objects not

included in it, which is itself that very general-notion professedly

denied.* As long as some general notion of circumnstances of resemblance

is admitted, I see very clearly how a general term may be most accurately

limited; but if this general notion be denied, I confess that I cannot

discover any principles of limitation whatever. Why have certain objects

been classed together, and not certain other objects, when all have been

alike perceived by us; and all, thereforeif there be nothing more than

mere perception in the process, are capable of receiving any denomination

which we may please to bestow on them? Is it arbitrarily, and without any

reason whatever, that we do not class a rose-bush with birds, or an

elephant with fish? and if there be any reason for these exclusions, why

will not the Nominalist tell us what that reason is-in what feeling it is

foundand how it can be made accordant with his system? * It is proper to

remark, in introducing this passage from Dr. Brown, that this acute writer

is to be considered as expressing himself too strongly when he asserts, in

a sentence not here quoted, that the feeling of resemblance is all that

the general name truly, designates. Possibly he meant to convey by this

assertion nothing more than this, that the feeling of resemblance is the

prominent and distinguishing circumstance in the notions expressed by

general names, since in another passage he speaks of general terms being "

invented to express all that multitude of objects which agree in exciting

one common feeling of relation, the relation of a certain similarity." If

that were not his intention, then we are to consider his views as correct

only so far as they go. The feeling of resemblance is a prominent

circumstance; but there is something-more than. this. Whenever we form a

complex notion, which is both general and abstract, we combine the feeling

of resemblance, the existence of which Dr. Brown has so clearly

demonstrated, with the notion of those properties which are found to be

possessed in common.

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216 GENERAL ABSTRACT IDEAS. Must it not be that the rose-bush and a

sparrow, though equally perceived by us, do not excite that general notion

of resemblance which the term' bird is invented to express-do not seem to

us to have those relations of a common nature, in certain respects, which

lead us to class the sparrow and the ostrich, however different in other

respects, as birds; or the petty natives of our brooks and rivulets with

the mighty monsters of the deep, under one general and equal denomination?

If this be the reason, there is more in every ease than perception and the

giving of a general name; for there is a peculiar state of mind-a general

relative feeling -intervening between the perception and the invention of

the term, which is the only reason that can be assigned for that very

invention." ~ 151. Further remarks of Brown on general abstractions. "C an

the Nominilalist then assert that there is no feeling of the resemblance

of objects, in certain respects, which thus intervenes between the

perception of them as separate objects, which is one stage of the process,

and the comprehension of them under a sin-gle name, which is another stage

of the process-or must he not rather confess that it is merely in

consequence of this intervening feeling we give to the number of objects

their general name, to the exclusion of the multitudes of objects to which

we do not apply it, as it is in consequence of certain other feelings,

excited by them individually, we give to each separate object its proper

name, to the exclusion of every other object. To repeat the process, as

already described to you, we perceive two or more objectswe are struck

with their resemblance in certain respects. We invent a general name to

denote this feeling of resemblance, and we class under this general name

every particular object, the perception of which is followed by the same

feeling of resemblance, and no object but these alone."

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given it, and its result when in exercise. WE come now to another power,

which does not directly and by virtue of its own activity originate

knowledge, and therefore is not in strictness denominated and classed as

one of the Cognitive faculties; but exceedingly important in its relations

and influence, it is entitled to a leading place among those powers which

we have found it necessary to notice and introduce from time to time as

AUXILIARY powers. We refer to the power of Attention; the Attentional

power; or simply and analogically, by adding the termination which

indicates function or office, "Attentivement." The result of the exercise

of the power of attention is the realization in fact of that state of

mind, which, in consequence of the imperfection of language, we call by

the same name, attention; but wlich, considered as an effect, may easily

be discriminated from its cause. We sometimes call it attentiveness. And

it is this resulting experience which first claims our notice. WVhen that

state of mind exists, which is denominated attention, so that we can truly

say of a person that he is attentive, it is found, that the mind is

steadily directed, for a length of time, to some object of sense or

intellect, exclusive of other objects. All other objects, for the time

being, are shut out. In other words, the grasp, which the perceptive power

fixes upon the object of its contemplations, is an undivided, an unbroken

one. ~ 153. Of different degrees of attention. In agreement with this view

of the subject, we often speak of attention as great or small, as existing

in I.-K

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218 OF ATTENTION; a very high or a very slight degree. When the view of

the mind is only momentary, and is unaccompanied, as it generally is at

such times, with any force of emotion or energy of volitional action, then

the attention is said to be slight. When, on the contrary, the mind

directs itself to an object or series of objects with earnestness, and for

a considerable length of time, and refuses to attend to anything else,

then the attention is said to be intense. We commonly judge at first of

the degree of attention to a subject from the length of time during which

the mind is occupied: with it. But, when we look a little further, it will

be found that the time will generally depend upon the strength and

permanency of the attendant emotion of interest. And hence both the time

and the degree of feeling are to be regarded in our estimate of the power

of attention in any particular case; the former being the result, and, in

some sense, a measure of the latter. Of instances of people who are able

to give but slight attention to any subject of thought, who cannot bring

their minds to it with steadiness and power, we everywhere find

multitudes, and there are some instances where this ability has been

possessed in such a high degree as to be worthy of notice. There have been

mathematicians who could investigate the most complicated problems amid

every variety and character of disturbance. It was said of Julius Caesar,

that, while writing a despatch, he could at the same time dictate four

others to his secretaries; and if he did not write himself, could dictate

seven letters at once. The same thing is asserted also of the Emperor

Napoleon, who had a wonderful capability of directing his whole mental

energy to whatever came before him.* The chess-player Philidor could

direct three games of chess at the same time, of one of which only he

required ocular inspection, the moves of the other two being announced to

him by an assistant. The moves * Segur's History of the Expedition to

Russia, book vii., clh. 13.

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THE ATTENTIONAL POWER. 219 of the chessmen formed the subject about which

his thoughts were employed; and such was the intensity of interest and

such the power of the will, that the mind found no difficulty in dwelling

upon it to the entire exclusion of other subjects, and for a considerable

length of time. ~ 154. Complexness of the power of attention. The power,

by means of which these remarkable results are experienced, is not simple,

but complex. In its first aspect, it is purely intellectual. We see only

the direction of the perceptive power to its appropriate object, which it

holds firmly in its grasp, excluding the other objects which throng around

it from the range of its contemplation. But if we look a little further,

we shall find, that, back of the act of perceptivity, is an act of the

will, directing, condensing, and confining the perception. And then,

again, it is well understood, that the act of the will requires, in

another part of our nattre, but outside of the perceptive or intellectual,

a feeling of desire or interest, which is antecedent to the volitional

act, and which brings the will into action. Such is the analysis of the

Attentional power, which of course implies its complexity; namely, an act

of perception; the volitional control of the perceptive act, without which

it would be unfixed and wandering; with the intermediate sentiment or

feeling, which sometimes takes the form of a desire and sometimes of a

sentiment of du(ty. And at this point it is proper to add an explanatory

remark. It is sometimes thought, that the powers or faculties of the mind

which are complex, inasmuch as they are susceptible of being analyzed into

their component elements, are for that reason not to be regarded as

powers. We could not feel justified in assenting to such a view, because

in settling the question of what are to be regarded as mental faculties

and what are not, we are to take into consideration the objects had in

view, and the combinations and

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220 OF ATTENTION. relative. adjustment of the component elements which

constitute the complexness of such faculties, and also their modes and

quickness of action, and the certainties of result. On the view that all

the mental faculties are and must be simple, and that, if they are

susceptible of being resolved by analytical processes into component parts

or elements, they cease to be regarded as such, it logically follows, that

the powers of perception and abstraction, of reasoning, imagination, and

memory would be excluded from the list of mental faculties. A result,

which would not only perplex the recognised facts and relations of the

mind, but would violate the usages of language, and find itself at war

with intuitive convictions. ~ 155. Dependence of memory on attention. We

are sometimes obliged, partially at least, to anticipate subjects. And on

the supposition that we know something of the memory, an attribute of the

mind which is to be particularly considered hereafter, we may refer here,

in connexion with Attention, to the well-known fact, that memory depends

on attention. That is to say, where attention is slight, remembrance is

weak; and where attention is intense, remembrance continues longer.-There

are many facts which confirm this statement. (1.) In the course of a

single day, persons who are in the habit of winking will close their

eyelids perhaps thousands of times, and,.as often as they close them, will

place themselves in utter darkness. Probably they are conscious at the

time both of closing their eyelids and of being in the dark; but, as their

attention is chiefly taken np with other things, they have entirely

forgotten it. —(2.) Let a person be much engaged in conversation, or

occupied with any very interesting speculation, and the clock will strike

in the room where he is, apparently without his having any knowledge of

it. He hears the clock strike as much as at any other time, but, not

attending to the perception of sound, and having his thoughts directed

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POWER OF ATTENTION. 221 another way, he immediately forgets.-(3.) In the

occupations of the day, when a multitude of cares are pressing us on every

side, a thousand things escape our notice; they appear to be neither seen

nor heard, nor to affect us in any way whatever. But at the stillness of

evening, when anxieties and toils are quieted, and there is a general

pause in nature, we seem to be endued with a new sense, and the slightest

sound attracts our attention. Shakspeare has marked even this. "The crow

doth sing as sweetly as the lark WThen neither is attended; and, I think,

The nightingale, if she should sing by day, When every goose is cackling,

would be thought NTo better a musician than the wren." It is on the same

principle that people dwelling in the vicinity of waterfalls do not appear

to notice the sound. The residents in the neighbourhood even of the great

cataract of Niagara are not seriously disturbed by it, although it is an

unbroken, interminable thunder to all others. -The reason in all these

cases is the same as has already been given. There is no attention and no

remembrance, and, of course, virtually no perception. (4.) Whenever we

read a book, we do not observe the words merely as a whole, but every

letter of which they are made np, and even the minute parts of these

letters. BRut it is merely a glance; it does not for any length of time

occupy our attention; we immediately forget, and with great difficulty

persuade ourselves that we have truly perceived the letters of the word.

The fact that every letter is in ordinary cases observed by us, may be

proved by leaving out a letter of the word, or by substituting others of a

similar form. We readily, in reading, detect such omissions or

substitutions. (5.) An expert accountant can sum up, almost with a single

glance of the eye, a long column of figures. The operation is performed

almost instantaneously, and yet he ascertains the sum of the whole with un

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222 OF ATTENTION. erring certainty. It is impossible that he should learn

the sum without noticing every figure in the whole column, and without

allowing each its proper worth; but the attention to them was so very

slight, that he is nnable to remember this distinct notice. Many facts of

this.kind evidently show, as we think, that memory depends upon attention,

or, rather, upon a continuance of attention, and varies with that

continuance. ~ 156. Of exercising attention in reading. If attention, as

we have seen, be requisite to memory, then we are furnished with a

practical rule of considerable importance. The rule is, Not to give a

hasty and careless reading of authors, but to read them with a suitable

degree of deliberation and thought.It is the fault of some persons that

they are too quickly weary; that they skip from one author to another, and

from one sort of knowledge to another. It is true, there are many things

to be known; we would not have a person limit himself entirely to one

science, but it is highly important that he should guard against that

rapid and careless transition from subject to subject which has been

mentioned. If we are asked the reason of this direction, we find a good

and satisfactory one in the fact referred to at the head of this section,

that there cannot be memory without attention, or, rather, that the power

of memory will vary with the degree of attention. By yielding to the

desire of becoming acquainted with a greater variety of departments of

knowledge than the understanding is able to master, and, as a necessary

consequence, by bestowing upon each of them only a very slight attention,

we remain essentially ignorant of the whole. The person who pursues such a

course finds himself unable to recall what he has been over; he has a

great many half-formed notions floating in his mind, but these are so ill

shaped and so little under his control as to be little better than actual

ignorance. This

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OF ATTENTION. 223 is one evil result of reading authors and of going over

sciences in the careless way which has been specified, that the knowledge

thus acquired, if it can be called knowledge, is of very little practical

benefit, in'consequence of being so poorly digested and so little under

control. But there is.another and, perhaps, more serious evil. This

practice greatly disqualifies one for all intellectual lpursuits. To store

the mind with new ideas is only a part of education. It is at least a

matter of equal importance to impart to all the mental powers a suitable

discipline, to exercise those that are strong, to strengthen those that

are weak, and to maintain among all of them a suitable balance. An

attentive and thorough examination of subjects is a training of the mind

in both these respects. It furnishes it with that species of knowledge

which is most valuable, because it is not mixed up with errors; and,

moreover, gives a strength and consistency to the whole structure of the

intellect. Whereas, when the mind is long left at liberty to wander from

object to object without being called to account and subjected to the

rules of salutary discipline, it entirely loses at last the ability to-

dwell upon the -subjects of its thoughts, and to examine them. And when

this power is once lost, there is little ground to expect any solid

attainments. ~ 157. Alleged inability to command the attention. We are

aware that those who, in accordance with these directions, are required to

make a close and thorough examination of subjects, will sometimes complain

that they find a. great obstacle in their inability to fix their

attention. They are not wanting in ability to comprehend, but find it

difficult to retain the mind in one position so long as to enable them to

connect together all the parts of a subject, and duly estimate their

various bearings. When this:intellectual defect exists, it becomes a new

reason for that thorough examination of subjects which has been above

recommended. It has probably been caused

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224 OF ATTENTION. by a neglect of such strictness of examination, and by a

too rapid and careless transition from one subject to another. It will be

recollected, that Attention, considered as a result in distinction from

the Power of attention, expresses the state of the mind when it is

steadily directed for some time, whether longer or shorter, to some object

of sense or intellect, exclusive of other objects. All other objects are

shut out; and, when this exclusion of everything else continues for some

time, the attention is said to be intense. —Now it is well known that such

an exclusive direction of the mind, or rather of the perceptive part of

the mind, cannot exist for any long period without being accompanied with

a feeling of desire or of duty. In the greatest intellectual exertions,

not the mere powers of judging, of abstracting, and of reasoning are

concerned; there will also be a greater or less movement of the feelings.

And it will be found that no feeling so surely lays the foundation in

cases of attention for that volitional action which gives a definite

direction and pertinacity to the perceptions, as a love of the truth. Mr.

Locke thought that the person who should discover a remedy for wandering

thoughts would do great service to the studious and contemplative part of

mankind. We know of no other effective remedy than the one just mentioned,

A LOVE OF THE TRUTH, a desire to know the nature and relations of things

merely for the sake of knowledge. It is true that a conviction of duty

will do much; ambition and interest may possibly do more; but when the

mind is led to deep investigations by these views merely, without finding

something beautiful and attractive in the aspect of knowledge itself, it

is likely to prove a tiresome process. There is a glory in the Truth,

which it never imparts to another. Christ says of himself, that " he came

into the world to bear witness to the truth." A desire to know the truth

in morals, in religion, in sci

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DREAMING. 225 ence, in the arts, in government, and in all the various

kinds and methods of thought and inquiry, furnishes the key to much that

is great and ennobling in the history of the race. When the inspiration

which lays the foundations of activity comes from God, it is always in

this direction. It was the inspiration found in a love of the truth, far

more than any aspirations and hopes of a personal nature, which gave

strength and perseverance to Christopher Columbus in his multiplied

disappointments and trials. It was such a desire as this, a desire to know

the hidden forces and their applications which the God of nature had

beneficently treasured up in the works of nature, that inspired and

developed the mechanical genius of Fulton, and sustained him in his long

and weary labours. "I saw D'Alembert," says a recent writer, (congratulate

a young man very coldly who brought him a solution of a problem. The young

man said,'I have done this in order to have a seat in the Academy.''Sir,'

answered ID'Alembert,'with such dispositions you never will earn one.

Science must be loved for its own sake, and not for the advantage to be

derived. No other principle will enable a man to make progress in the

sciences!' " CIHAPTER XVI. DREAMING AND SOMNAMBULISM. ~ 158. Definition of

dreams and the prevalence of them. AMONG numerous other subjects in mental

philosophy which claim their share of attention, that of Dreaming is

entitled to its place; nor can we be certain that any other will be found

more appropriate to it than the present, especially when we consider how

closely it is connected in all its forms with our sensations and

conceptions. And what are Dreams? It * Memoirs of Montlosier, vol. i., p.

59, as quoted in Mackintosh's Ethical Philosophy, sect. vii. K 2

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226 DREAMING. approaches perhaps sufficiently near to a correct general

description to say, that they are our mental states and operations while

we are asleep. [But the particular views which are to be taken in the

examination of this subject will not fail to throw light on this general

statement. The mental states and exercises which go under this name have

ever excited much interest. It is undoubtedly one reason of the attention

which the subject of our dreams have ever elicited among all classes of

people, that they are so prevalent; it being very difficult, if not

impossible, to find a person who has not had more or less of this

experience. Mr. Locke, however, tells us of an individual who never

dreamed till the twenty-sixth year of his age, when he happened to have a

fever, and then dreamed for the first time. Plutarch also mentions one

Cleon, a friend of his, who lived to an advanced age, and yet had never

dreamed once in his life, and remarks that he had heard the same thing

reported of Thrasymedes. Undoubtedly these persons dreamed very seldom, as

we find that some dream much more than others; but it is possible that

they may have dreamed at some time and entirely -forgotten it. So that it

cannot with certainty be inferred, from such instances as these, that

there are any who are entirely exempt from dreaming. ~ 159. Connexion of

dreams with our waking thoughts. In giving an explanation of dreams, our

attention is first arrested by the circumstance that they have an intimate

relationship with our waking thoughts. The great body of our waking

experiences appear in the form of trains of associations; and these trains

of associated ideas, in greater or less continuity, and with greater or

less variation, continue when we are asleep. -Condorcet (a name famous in

the history of France) told some one, that, while he was engaged in

abstruse and profound calculations, he was frequently obliged to leave

them in an unfinished state, in order to retire

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DREAMING. 227 to rest; and that the remaining steps and the conclusion of

his calculations have more than once presented themselves in his

dreams.-Franklin also has made the remark, that the bearings and results

of political events, which had caused him much trouble while awake, were

not unfrequently unfolded to hilm in dreaming.-Mr. Coleridge says, that,

as he was once reading in the Pilgrimage of Purchas an account of the

palace and garden of the Khan Ktlubla, he fell into a sleep, and in that

situation composed an entire poem of not less than two hundred lines,

some. of which he afterward committed to writing. The poem is entitled

lKubla Khan, and begins as follows: " In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately

pleasure-dome decree; Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns

measureless to man Down to a sunless sea." It is evident, from such

statements as these, which are confirmed by the experience of almost every

person, that our dreams are fashioned from the materials of the thoughts

and feelings which we have while awake; in other words, they will, in a

great degree, be merely the repetition of our customary and prevailing

associations. So well understood is this, that President Edwards, who was

no less distinguished as a mental philosopher than as a theologian,

thought it a good practice to take particular notice of his dreams, in

order to ascertain from them what his predominant inclinations were. ~

160. Dreams are often caused by our sensations. But while we are to look

for the materials of our dreams in thoughts which had previously existed,

we further find that they are not beyond the influence of those slight

bodily sensations, of which we are susceptible even in hours of sleep.

These sensations, slight as they are, are the means of introducing one set

of associations rather than another.-Dugald Stewart relates an incident

which may be considered an evi

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228 DREAMING. dence of this, that a person with whom he was acquainted had

occasion, in consequence of an indisposition, to apply a bottle of hot

water to his feet when he went to bed; and the consequence was, that he

dreamed he was making a journey to the top of Mount lEtna, and that he

found the heat of the ground almost insupportable. There was once a

gentleman in the English army who was so susceptible of audible

impressions while he was asleep, that his companions could make him dream

of what they pleased. Once, in particular, they made him go through the

whole process of a duel, from the preliminary arrangements to the firing

of the pistol, which they put into his hand for that purpose, and which,

when it exploded, waked him. A cause of dreams closely allied to the above

is the variety of sensations which we experience from the stomach,

viscera, &c.-Persons, for instance, who have been for a long time deprived

of food, or have received it only in small quantities, hardly enough to

preserve life, will be likely to have dreams in some way or other directly

relating to their condition. Baron Trenck relates, that, being almost dead

with hunger when confined in his dungeon, his dreams every night presented

to him the well-filled and luxurious tables of Berlin, from which, as they

were presented before him, he imagined he was about to relieve his hunger.

"The night had far advanced," says Irving, speaking of- the voyage of

Mendez to Hispaniola, "but those whose turn it was to take repose were

unable to sleep from the intensity of their thirst; or, if they slept, it

was to be tantalized with dreams of cool fountains and running brooks."

The state of health also has considerable influence, not only in producing

dreams, but in giving them a particular character. The remark has been

made by medical men, that acute diseases, particularly fevers, are often

preceded and indicated by disagreeable and oppressive dreams.

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DREAMING. 229 ~ 161. Explanation of the incoherency of dreams. (lst

cause.) There is frequently much of wildness, inconsistency, and

contradiction in our dreams. The mind passes very rapidly from one object

to another; strange and singular incidents occur. If our dreams be truly

the repetition of our waking thoughts, it may well be inquired, How this

wildness and inconsistency happen? The explanation of this peculiarity

resolves itself into two parts.-The FIRST ground or cause of it is, that

our dreams are not subjected, like our waking thoughts, to the control and

regulation of surrounding objects. While we are awake, our trains of

thought are kept uniform and coherent by the influence of such objects,

which continually remind us of our situation, character, and duties; and

which keep in check any tendency to revery. But in sleep the senses are

closed; the soul is accordingly, in a great measure, excluded from the

material world, and is thus deprived of the salutary regulating influence

from that source. ~ 162. Second cause of the incoherency of dreams. In the

second place, when we are asleep, our associated trains of thought are no

longer under the control of the WILL. We do not mean to say that the

operations of the will are suspended at such times, and that volitions

have no existence. On the contrary, there is sufficient evidence of the

continuance of these mental acts, in some degree at least, since volitions

must have made a part of the original trains of thought, which are

repeated in dreaming; and, furthermore, we are often as conscious of

exercising or putting forth volitions when dreaming as of any other mental

acts, for instance, imagining, remembering, assenting, or reasoning. When

we dream that we are attacked by an enemy sword in hand, but happen, as we

suppose in our dreaming experiences, to be furnished in self-defence with

an instrument of the same kind, we dream that we will to exert it for our


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230 DREAMING. safety and against our antagonist; and we as truly, in this

case, put forth the mental exercise which we term volition, as in any

other we exercise remem'brance, or inmagine, or reason in our sleep.

Admitting, however, that the will continues to act in sleep, it is quite

evident that the volitions which are put forth by it:have ceased to

exercise their customary influence in respect to.our mental operations.

Ordinarily we are able, by means of an act of the will, to fix our

attention upon some particular part of any general subject which has been

suggested, or to transfer it to some other part of such subject, and thus

to direct and to regulate the whole train of mental action. But, the

moment we are soundly asleep, this influence ceases, and hence, in

connexion with the other cause already Rmentioned, arise the wildness,

incoherency, and contradictions which exist. A person, while he is awake,

has his thoughts under such government, and is. able, by' the direct and

indirect influence of volitions, so to regulate them, as generally to

bring them, in the end, to some conclusion which he foresees and wishes to

arrive at. But in dreaming, as all directing and governing influence, both

internal and external, is at an end, our thoughts and feelings seem to be

driven forward, much like a ship at sea without a rudder, wherever it may

happen. ~ 163. Apparent reality of dreams. (lst cause.) When objects are

presented to us in dreams, we look upon them as real; and events, and

combinations and series of events, appear the same. We feel the same

interest and resort to the same expedients as in the perplexities and

enjoyments of real life. When persons are introduced as forming a part in

the transactions of our dreams, we see them clearly in their living

attitudes and stature; we converse with them, and hear them speak, and

behold them move, as if actually present. One reason of this greater

vividness of our dreaming conceptions and of our firm belief in their


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DREAMING. 231 seems to be this. The subjects upon which our thoughts are

then employed occupy the mind exclusively. We can form a clearer

conception of an object with our eyes shut than we can with them open, as

any one will be convinced on making the experiment; and the liveliness of

the conception will increase in proportion as we can suspend the exercise

of the other senses. In sound sleep, not only the sight, but the other

senses also, may be -said to be closed; and the attention is not.

continually diverted by the multitude of objects which arrest the hearing

and touch when we are awake.-It is, therefore, a most natural supposition,

that our conceptions must at such times be extremely vivid and distinct.

At ~ 119 we particularly remarked upon conceptions, or those ideas which

we have of absent objects of perception, which possess this vividness of

character. And it there appeared that they might be attended with a

momentary belief even when we are awake. But, as conceptions exist in the

mind when we are asleep in a much higher degree distinct and vivid, what

was in the former case a momentary, becomes in the latter a permanent

belief. Hence everything has the appearance of reality; and the mere

thoughts of the mind are virtually transformed into persons, and varieties

of situations, and events, which are regarded. by us in precisely the same

light as the persons, and situations, and events of our every-day's

experience. ~ 164. Apparent reality of dreams. (2d cause.) A second

circumstance which goes to account for the fact that our dreaming

conceptions have the appearance of reality is, that they are not

susceptible of being controlled, either directly or indirectly, by mere

volition.-We are so formed as almost invariably to associate reality with

whatever objects of perception continue to produce in us the same effects.

A hard or soft body, or any substance of a particular colour, taste, or

smell, are always, when presented to our

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232 DREM-IING. senses, followed by certain states of mind essentially the

same; and we yield the most ready and firm belief in the existence of such

objects. In a word, we are disposed, from our very constitution, to

believe in the existence of objects of perception, the perceptions of

which do not depend on the WILL, but which we find to be followed by

certain states of the mind, whether we choose it or not. -But it is to be

recollected that our dreaming thoughts are mere conceptions; our senses

being closed and shut up, and external objects not being presented to

them. This is true. But if we conclude in favour of the real existence of

objects of perception because they produce in us sensations independently

of our volitions, it is but natural to suppose that we shall believe in

the reality of our conceptions also, whenever they are in like manner

beyond our voluntary control. They are both merely states of the mind; and

if belief always attends our perceptions wherever we find them to be

independent of our choice, there is no reason why conceptions, which are

ideas of absent objects of perception, should not be attended with a like

belief under the same circumstances.-And essentially the same

circumstances exist in dreaming; that is, a train of conceptions arise in

the mind, and we are not conscious at such times of being able to exercise

any direction or control whatever over them. They exist, whether we will

it or not; and we regard them as real. ~ 165. Of our estimate of time in

dreaming. Our estimate of time in dreaming differs from that when awake.

Events which would take whole days or a longer time in the performance,

are dreamed in a few moments. So wonderful is this compression of a

multitude of transactions into the very shortest period, that when we are

accidentally awakened by the jarring of a door which is opened in the room

where we are sleeping, we sometimes dream of depredations by thieves or

destruction by fire in the very instant of our awaking.-" A friend of

mine," says

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DREAMIIG. 233 Dr. Abercrombie, " dreamed that he crossed the Atlalltic,

and spent a fortnight in America. In emnbarkingl on his return he fell

into the sea, and, having awoke with the fright, discovered that he had

not been asleep above ten minutes." Count Lavallette, who some years since

was condemned to death in France, relates a dream which occurred during

his imprisonment as follows: " One night while I was asleep, the clock of

the Palais de Justice struck twelve, and awoke me. I heard the gate open

to relieve the sentry, but I fell asleep again immediately. In this sleep

I dreamed that I was standing in the Rue St. HIonore, at the corner of the

Rue de l'Echelle. A melancholy darkness spread around me; all was still;

nevertheless, a low and uncertain sound soon arose. All of a sudden I

perceived at the bottom of the street, and advancing towards me, a troop

of cavalry, the men and horses, however, all flayed. This horrible troop

continued passing in a rapid gallop, and casting frightful looks on me.

Their march, I thought, continued for five hours, and they were followed

by an immense number of artillery-wagons, full of bleeding corpses, whose

limbs still quivered; a disgusting smell of blood and bitumen almost

choked me. At length the iron gate of the prison, shutting with great

force, awoke me again. I made my repeater strike; it was no more than

midnight, so that the horrible phantasmagoria had lasted no more than two

or three minutes, that is to say, the time necessary for relieving the

sentry and shutting the gate. The cold was severe and the watchword short.

The next day the turnkey confirmed my calculations." Our dreams will not

unfrequently go through all the particulars of some long journey, or of

some military expedition, or of a circumnavigation of the globe, or of

other long and perilous undertakings, in a less number of hours than it

took weeks, or months, or even years in the actual performance of them. We

go from land to land, and from city to city, and into desert places; we

experience transitions from joy to

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234 DREAMING. sorrow, and from, poverty to wealth; we are occupied in the

scenes and transactions of many long months; and then our slumbers are

scattered, and, behold; they are the doings of a fleeting watch of the

night! This striking circumstance in the history of our dreams is

generally explained by supposing that our thoughts, as they successively

occupy the mind, are more rapid than while we are awake. But their

rapidity is at all times very great; so much so, that in a few moments

crowds of ideas pass through the mind which it would take a long time to

utter, and a far longer time would it take to perform all the transactions

which they concern. This explanation, therefore, is not satisfactory, for

our thoughts are oftentimes equally rapid in our waking moments. The true

reason, we apprehend, is to be found in those preceding sections, which

took under examination the apparent reality of dreams. Our conceptions in

dreaming are considered by us real; every thought is an action; every idea

is an event; and successive states of mind are successive actions and

successive events. IIe who in his sleep has the conception of all the

particulars of a military expedition to MIoscow or of a circumnavigation

of the globe, seems to himself to have actually experienced all the

various and multiplied fortunes of the one and the other. Hence what

appears to be the real time in dreams, but is only the apparent time, will

not be that which is sufficient for the mere thought, but that which is

necessary for the successive actions. " Something perfectly analogous to

this may be remarked," says Mr. Stewart, "in the perceptions we obtain by

the sight of sense.* When I look into a showbox, where the deception is

imperfect, I see only a set of paltry daubings of a few inches in

diameter; but if the representation be executed with so much skill as to

convey to me the idea of a distant prospect, every object before me swells

in its dimensions in proportion to the extent of space which I conceive it

to * Stewart's Elements, chapter on Dreaming.

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DREAMING. 235 occupy, and what seemed before to be shut within the limits

of a small wooden frame, is magnified in my apprehension to an immense

landscape of woods, rivers, and mountains." ~ 166. Of the senses sinking

to sleep in succession. It is true, as a general statement, that in sleep

the mind ceases to retain its customary power over the muscular movements

of the system; and all the senses are at such times locked up, and no

longer perform their usual offices. The effect upon the senses is such

that it seems to be proper to speak of them as individually going to sleep

and awaking from sleep. It remains, therefore, to be observed, that there

is considerable reason to suppose that the senses fall asleep in

succession.-For a detailed explanation and proof of this singular fact,

reference must be had to Cullen, and particularly to Cabanis, a French

writer on subjects of this nature, whom we have already had occasion to

mention; but the conclusion at which they arrive on this particular point

may be here stated.* The sight, in consequence of the protection of the

eyelids, ceases to receive impressions first, while all the other senses

preserve their sensibility entire, and may, therefore, be said to be first

in falling asleep. The sense of taste, according to the above writers, is

the next which loses its susceptibility of impressions, and then the sense

of smelling. The hearing is the next in order, and last of all comes the

sense of touch. — Furthermore, the senses are thought to sleep with

different degrees of profoundness. The senses of taste and smelling awake

the last; the sight with more difficulty than the hearing, and the touch

the easiest of all. Sometimes a very considerable noise does not awake a

person; but if the soles of the feet are tickled in the slightest degree,

he starts up immediately. Similar remarks are made by the writers above

referred to on the muscles. Those which move the arms and legs cease to

act when sleep is approaching * Rapports du Physique et du Moral de

l'omme, Mem. x.

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236 SOMNAMBULISM. sooner than those which sustain the head; and the latter

before those which support the back. —And here it is proper to notice an

exception to the general statement at the commencement of this section,

that the mind, in sleep, ceases to retain its power over the muscles. Some

persons can sleep standing, or walking, or riding on horseback; with such

we cannot well avoid the supposition, tlat the voluntary power over the

muscles is in some way retained and exercised in sleep.-These statements

are particularly important in connexion with the facts of somnambulism;

only admit that the susceptibility of the senses and the power of the

muscles may remain even in part while we are asleep, and we call account

for them. We know that this is not the case in a vast majority of

instances; but that it does sometimes happen is a point which seems at

last to be sufficiently well established. ~ 167. General remarks on cases

of somnambulism. With the general subject of dreaming, that of

Somnambulism is naturally and intimately connected. Somnambulists, as the

term itself indicates, are persons who are capable of walking and of other

voluntary actions while asleep.-Of such persons many instances are on

record; and the facts which they present to our notice are both

practically and psychologically matters of considerable interest and

importance. (I.) A number of things may be said in explanation of

somnambulism. The somnambulist, in the first place, is in all cases

dreaming, and we may suppose, in general, that the dream is one which

greatly interests him. After he has awaked, the action he has passed

through appears, in his recollection of it, to be merely a dream, and not

a reality. "A young noblenan,)' says Dr. Abercrombie, "living in the

citadel of Breslau, was observed by his brother, who occupied the same

room, to rise in his sleep, wrap himself in a cloak, and escape by a

window to the roof of the building. He there tore in pieces a magpie's


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SOMNAMBULISM. 237 wrapped the young birds in his cloak, returned to his

apartment, and went to bed. In the morning he mentioned the circumstances

as having occurred in a dream, and could not be persuaded that there had

been anything more than a dream, till he was shown the magpies in his

cloak." And this is noticed to be commonly the fact. What has been done

has the appearance of being a dream. And there is no doubt that the mind

of the somnambulist is in that particular state which we denominate

dreaming. (II.) In the second place, those volitions which are a part of

his dreams retain their power over the muscles, which is not the fact in

the sleep and the dreaming of the great body of people.-Consequently,

whatever the somnambulist dreams is not only real in the mind, as in the

case of all other dreamers, but his ability to exercise his muscles

enables him to give it a reality in action. Whether he dream of writing a

letter, of visiting a neighbour's house, of cutting and piling wood, of

thrashing his grain, or ploughing his field (acts which have at various

times been ascribed to the somnambulist), his muscles are faithful to his

vivid mental conceptions, which we may suppose in all cases closely

connected with his customary labours and experiences, and frequently

enable him to complete what he has undertaken, even when his senses are at

the same time closed up. But the inquiry arises here, How it happens,

while in most cases both senses and muscles lose their power, in these, on

the contrary, the muscles are active while the senses alone are asleep?-In

reference to this inquiry, it must be acknowledged that it is involved at

present in some uncertainty, although there is much reason to anticipate

that it may hereafter receive light from further investigations and

knowledge of the nervous system and functions. There is a set of nerves

which are understood to be particularly connected with respiration, and

which appear to have nothing to do with sensation and with muscular

action. There is another set which are known to pos

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238 SOMNAMBULISM. sess a direct and important connexion with sensation and

the muscles. These last are separable into distinct filaments, having

separate functions; some being connected with sensation merely, and others

with volition and muscular action. In sensation, the impression made by

some external body exists at first in the external part of the organ of

sense, and is propagated along one class of filaments to the brain. In

volition and voluntary muscular movement, the origin of action, as far as

the body is concerned, seems to be the reverse, commencing in the brain,

and being propagated along other and appropriate nervous filaments to the

different parts of the system. Hence it sometimes happens, that, in

diseases of the nervous system, the power of sensation is in a great

measure lost, while that of motion fully remains; or, on the contrary, the

power of motion is lost, while that of sensation remnains. These views

help to throw light on the subject of somnambulism. Causes at present

unknown to us may operate, through their appropriate nervous filaments, to

keep the muscles awake, without disturbing the repose and inactivity of

the senses. A man may be asleep as to all the powers of external

perception, and yet be awake in respect tb the capabilities of muscular

motion. And, aided by the trains of association which make a part of his

dreams, may be able to walk about and to do many things without the aid of

the sight and hearing. ~ 168. Further illustrations of somnambulism.

(III.) Further, we are not to forget here a remark on the sleep of the

senses, a subject already briefly alluded to, and which is an exception to

the general statement then made in regard to them. Both in somnambulism

and in ordinary cases of dreaming the senses are not always entirely

locked up; many observations clearly show that it is possible for the mind

to be accessible through them, and that a new direction may be given in

this way to a person's dreams without awaking him. Hence somnambu

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SOMNAMB3ULISM. 239 lists may sometimes have very slight visual

perceptions; they may in some slight measure be guided by sensations of

touch; all the senses may be affected ill a small degree by their

appropriate objects, or this may be the case with some and not with

others, without effectually disturbing their sleep.-These facts will be

found to help in explaining any peculiar circumstances which may be

thought not to come within the reach of the general explanation which has

been given. (IV.) But this is not all. There are some cases, which are

notl reached by the statements: hitherto made. There are not only slight

exceptions to the general fact, that somnambulists, like persons in

ordinary sleep, are insensible to external impressions, but occasionally

some of a marked and extraordinary character. There are a few cases (the

recent instance of Jane Rider in this country is one) where persons in the

condition of somnnambulism have not only possessed slight visual power,

but perceptions of sight increased much above the common degree. In the

extraordinary narrative of Jane Rider, the author informs us that he took

two large wads of cotton and placed them directly on the closed eyelids,

and then bound them on with a black silk handkerchief. The cotton filled

the cavity under the eyebrows, and reached down to the middle of the

cheek, and various experiments were tried to ascertain whether she could

see. In one of them a watch enclosed in a case was handed to her, and she

was requested to tell what o'clock it was by it; upon which, after

examining both sides of the watch, she opened the case, and then answered

the question. She also read, without hesitation, the name of a gentleman,

written in characters so fine that no one else could distinguish it at the

usual distance from the eye. In another paroxysm, the lights were removed

from her room, and the windows so secured that no object was discernible,

and two books were presented to her, when she immediately told the titles

of both, though one of them was

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240 SOMNAMBULISM. a book which she had never before seen. In other

experiments, while the room was so darkened that it was impossible, with

the ordinary powers of vision, to distinguish the colonrs of the carpet,

and her eyes were also bandaged, she pointed out the different colours in

the hearth rug, took up and read several cards lying on the table,

threaded a needle, and performed several other things, which could not

have been done without the aid of vision.*-Of extraordinary cases of this

kind, it would seem that no satisfactory explanation (at least no

explanation which is unattended with difficulties) has as yet been given.

* As quoted in Dr. Oliver's Physiology, chap. 30.

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CHAPTER I. INTERNAL ORIGIN OF LKNOWLEDGE. ~ 169. The soul has fountains of

knowledge within. IN tracing the history of the mind thus far, we have

seen the beginnings of knowledge, and that the material world around us is

the providentially appointed handmaid and nurse of the soul in the days of

its infancy, and for that purpose is endued with form, fragrance, and

colour. Material eyes were given to the soul (not made a part of its

nature, but assigned to it as all instrumental and auxiliary agent), that

it might see; and material hands, that it might handle; and hearing, that

it might hear. By means of these and other senses we become acquainted

with whatever is visible and tangible, and has outline and form. But there

is not only a sensuous, but a super-sensuous experience; not only an


intellect. And hence it happens, that the termn Intellectualislm, in

distinction from Sensationalism, is often used as the name of a doctrine

and method of philosophic inquiry which goes outside of and beyond the

senses. The intellectualist accepts sensationalism as far as it goes, but

he affirms that there is something beyond it. In other words, there are

inward powers of perception, hidden fountains of knowledge, which open

themselves and flow up in the interior and secret places of the soul. The

soul finds knowledge in itself, which neither sight, nor touch, nor

hearing, nor any other sense, nor any outward forms of matter could give.

"The natural progress of all true learning," says the author of Hermes,

"is from sense to intellect." Having begun with the senses, and first

considered the sensations and perceptions which we there receive, and

other forms of knowledge, such as the conceptions, which are based

immediately upon them, we

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244 INTERNAL' ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. are next to enter more exclusively into

thie mind itself, and to explore the fruitful sources of knowledge which

are internal. And, in thus doing, it is a satisfaction to know that we are

treading essentially in the steps of many distinguished writers, who

maintain that a part of our knowledge only can be traced to the senses,

and that the origin of other portions is to be sought wholly in the

intellect itself. ~ 170. Declaration of Locke, that the soul has knowledge

in itself. After alluding to the senses as one great source of knowledge,

"the other fountain," says Locke, "from which experience furnisheth the

nnderstanding with ideas, is the perception of the operations of our own

minds within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got; which

operations, when the soul comes to reflect on and consider, do furnish the

understanding with another set of ideas, which could not be had from

things without, and such are perception, thinking, doubting, believing,

reasoning, knowing, willing, and all: the different actings of our own

minds, which we, being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from

these receive into our understandings ideas as distinct as we do from

bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly

within himself. And thougoh it be not sense, as having nothing to do with

EXTERNAL objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be

called INTERNAL SENSE. But, as I call the other Sensation, so I call this

Reflection; the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by

reflecting on its own operations within itself." It is, perhaps, necessary

to remark here, that we introduce this passage from Mr. Locke merely in

support of the general doctrine, without wishing to intimate a full

approbation of the manner in which he has applied it in its details. It is

probably true, that Mr. Locke, although he started upon a right track,

failed very much in hlis attempts to carry out his own plan. But what we

say now concerns the general question; and, in reference to that question,

the pas

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INTTERNAL ORIGIN OF INOWLEDGE. 245 sage just referred to is undoubtedly

weighty in itself, as well as in consequence of the great reputation and

acknowledged discernment of its author. It is undoubtedly the doctrine of

Mr. Locke, that our knowledge begins with Sensation; in other words, that

impressions made on the bodily system are the first occasions, so far as

we are able to judge, of bringing the mind into action. But it does not

follow from this (and the passage just quoted shows that Mr. Locke did not

suppose it thus to follow), that sensation is the only source of

knowledge. There is undeniably sometlling distinct from sensation;

thoughts, which have an interior origin, and calmot be accounted for by

external objects alone; ideas, wlhich are based upon the succession,

relation, and infinite of things, and not upon what is fixed, tangible,

and measurable; or which are the representatives and exponents of what is

mental rather than of what is material. ~ 1.71. Opinions of Cudworth on

the subject of internal knowledge. We may properly introduce hei'e a

quotation or two from another great authority, nearly contemporaneous with

Mr. Locke, that of Dr. Cudworth, a name which is acknowledged to rank

deservedly high among those that are most closely associated with exalted

wisdom and virtue. Let us, however, be again reminded, that our whole

object here is to establish the general position, that there is knowledge

of a purely internal,. or, if the expression be preferred, of a

super-sensuous origin, as well as of an external origin; and that,

therefore, a reference to writers for that purpose does not necessarily

involve an approbation of, or a responsibility for, their opinions any

further tlalln they relate to the particular object in view.-The

posthumous work froml which these extracts are nmade, is understood to

have been written in reply to Mr. Ilobbes, who held the opinion that all

our thoughts, of whatever kind, are only either direct, or transformed and

modified sensations. And, therefore, the statements made in it, being

called forth under such circunmstances, mllltst

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246 INTERNAL ORIGIN OF iKNOWLEDGE. be supposed to have been carefully

meditated, and oil that gronlid, among others, are entitled to much

weigol.t. " That oftentimes," says Cudworth,* "there is more taken notice

of and perceived by the mind, both in the sensible objects themselves and

by occasion of them, than was impressed from them, or passively received

by sense; which, tllerefore, must needs proceed from some inward active

princlliple in that which perceives, I shall make it further appear by

some other instances.'For, first, let a brute and a man at the same time

be made spectators of one and the same artificial statue, picture, or

landscape; here the brute will passively receive all that is impressed

from the outward object upon sense by local motion, as well as the man,

all the'several colours and figures of it; and yet the man will presently

perceive something in this statue or picture which the brute takes no

notice of at all,;viz., beauty, and pulchritude, and symmetry, besides the

liveliness of the effigies and portraiture. The eye of the brute being

every jot as good a glass or mirror, and perhaps endued with a more

perspicacious sense or power of passive perception than that of a man.

"Or, again, let both a man and a brute at the same time hear the same

musical airs; the brute will- only be sensible of noise and souinds, but

the man will also perceive harmony in them, and be very much delighted

with it, nay, even enthusiastically transported by it. Wherefore the brute

perceiving all the sounds as well as the mnan, but nothing of the harmony,

the difference must needs arise from sonle inward active principle or

anticipation in the man, which the brute hathl not." ~ 172. Further

remarks of the same writer on this subject. "Bullt I shall yet further

illustrate this business," says this learned writer near the conclusion of

the same chapter, "that the mind may actively comlpre* Immutable

Aforality, book iv., chap. ii., ~ 14.

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INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. 247 liend more in the -outward objects of

sense, and by occasion of them, than is passively received and impressed

from them, by another instance. Suppose a learned written or printed

volume held before the eye of a brute-creature or illiterate person;

either of them will passively receive all that is impressed upon sense

from those delineations, to whom there will be nothing but several scrawls

of ink drawn upon white paper. But if a man that hath inward anticipations

of learning in him look upon them, he will immediately have another

comprehension of them than that of sense, and a strange scene of thoughts

presently represented to his mind from them; he will see heaven, earth,

sun, moon, and stars, comets, meteors, elements, in those inky

delineations; he will read profound tlieorems of philosophy, geometry,

astronomy in them, learn a great deal of new knowledge from them that he

never understood before, and thereby justly admire the wisdom of the

composer of them. Not that all this was passively stamped lupon his soul

by sense from those characters (for sense, as I said before, can perceive

nothing here but inky scrawls, and the intelligent reader will many times

correct his copy, finding errctas in it), but because his mind was before

furnished with certain inward anticipations, that such characters signify

the elements of certain sou-nds; those sounds, certain notions or

cogitations of the mind; and because lie hath an active power of exciting

any such cogitations within himself, lle reads in those sensible

delineations the passive stamps or prints of another man's wisdom or

knowledge upon them, and also learns knowledge and instruction from them,

not as infused into his mind froml those sensible characters, but, by

reason of those hints and significations thereby proposed to it,

accidentally kindled, awakened, and excited in it; for all but the

phantasms of black, inky strokes and figfires arises from the inward

activity of his own mimld. Wherefore this instance in itself shows how the

activity of the mind may comprehend more in and from sensible objects than

is passively imprinted by them nupon sense."

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248 INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. There are other illustrations in this

valuable writer. One is to this effect. We cast our eyes upon what he

calls the book of nature, the sky, the earth, and the waters, with the

multiplied forms which inhabit them. We see there many things addressed to

the " outward mind," as he terms it (that is to say, the mind, or rather

the intellective part of it, so far as it is connected with the external

world and the senses), such as extension, and colour, and form, and

whatever else is especially connected with the senses. The outward mind,

operating, so to speak, through the outward eye of the mindl, beholds

whatever is in this way presented to it, and stops there. But to the

inward mind, which has an inward vision, there is something more. To the

inward or super-sensuous mind, availing itself of its intuitional

suggestions, there are revelations, which in some respects are far more

important, of causation and power, of space and time, of intelligence,

design, and order, of unity and diversity, of goodness and wisdom.* ~ 173.

Writers who have objected to the doctrine of an internal source of

knowledge. But it ought not to pass unnoticed, that there have been

writers who have objected to the doctrine of an internal source of

knowledge in distinction from that knowledge which is outward, and is

dependent, not only for its occasion, but for its very nature, on the *

Many other writers, as Stewart, Degerando, Brown, Coleridge, Price,

Jouffroy, and Cousin, advocate this general doctrine. Many German writers,

with Leibnitz at their head, take the same view. Kant, in his Criticism of

the Pure Reason, expresses himself thus: "' Der Zeit nach geht also keine

Erkenntniss in uns vor der Erfahrung vorher, und mit dieser fangt alle an.

Wenn aber gleich alle unsere Erkenntniss mit der Erfahrung afihebt, so

entspringt sie darum doch nicht eben alle aus der Erfahrung. Denn es k6nne

wohl seyn, dass selbst unsere Erfahrungserkenntniss ein Zusammengesetztes

aus dem sey, was wir durch Eindriicke empfangen, und dem, was unser

eigenes Erkenntnissvermigen (durch sinnliche Eindriicke bloss veranlasst),

aus sich selbst hergiebt, welchen Zusatz wir von jenem Grundstoffe nicht

eher unterscheiden, als his lange Uebung uns darauf aufmerksam, und zur

Absonderung desselben geschikt gemacht hat." —Kant's Critilc, der reinen

Vernizift, Einleitung,'I.

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INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. 249 senses. It was the opinion, among

others, of Mr. iHobbes, who preceded Locke, and was not without merit as a

metaphysician, that all our knowledge might be traced to the senses, and

that, of course, no other origin of it need be sought. "The original of

all thoughts," says that writer, Leviathan, ch. i., " is that which we

call SENSE. There is no conception in a man's mind which hath not at

first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense." This

was the opinion also of his contemporary, Gassendi, who was his particular

friend and correspondent, and, at a still later period, of Condillac. The

latter supported his views at length and with much ingenuity, particularly

in his Treatise on Sensations. These writers appear to have maintained, as

a general statement, that we have no siniple ideas but such as exist in

the mind directly by means of the senses. As they further maintained that

those of a complex nature are composed, not merely virtually, but

literally, of such as are simple, they consequently considered them in the

light of combined and transformed sensations. Such appears to be the

general outline of their doctrine, although it has its obscurities and

perplexities, as might be expected, in consequence of being essentially

ill-founded.-" If we consider," says Condillac," that to remember, to

compare, to judge, to distinguish, to imagine, to be astonished, to have

abstract ideas, to have ideas of number and duration, to know truths,

whether general or particular, are but so many modes of being attentive;

that to have passions, to love, to hate, to hope, to fear, to will, are

but so many different modes of desire; and that attention in the one case,

and desire in the other case, of which all these feelings are modes, are

themselves, in their origin, nothing more than modes of sensation, we

cannot but conclude that SENSATION involves in itself all the faculties of

the soul."* This sentence, in its evident meaning, and as it is understood

both by its author and his commentators, * Traitd des Sensations, pt. i.,

ch. 7, ~ 2, L 2

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250 INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. is clearly at variance with the doctrine

of Cudworth and of other advocates of the "super-sensuous" or

transcendental philosophy, and entirely cuts off what has been variously

termed the internal, reflex, or subjective source of our knowledge.

According to the doctrine of Hobbes, Condillac, Helvetius, and other

writers of the sensuous or material school, everything may be traced back

to the senses, not merely as its occasion, but as its direct, or, at

least, its essential cause; everything becomes tangible and material; we

are utterly unable to form a conception even of the invisible and glorious

Deity, except under such an appearance as the imagination, dealing with

sensible images alone, can picture forth from the gross and limited

materials of the earth. And in the same way, every other idea, however

spiritual and whatever it may relate to, must be capable of being followed

back to some archetype in outward material existences. The mind may

separate, and modify, and combine sensible ideas or images, but can never

get above them; there is a portion of earthliness in every possible

thought.-It must, therefore, be obvious, that the tendency of this system

is to lower the im1ind's position; not only to limit the range, but to

depress the character of its powers, especially when we consider, that; as

one of its legitimate results, it rejects the doctrine of a Moral Sense

and of the Immrnutability of Moral Distinctions. It may be said, however,

and perhaps with some degree of plausibility, that the propriety of

receiving it does not depend so much upon its tendency, as upon the direct

evidence which may be brought in its support, in which, nevertheless, it

is found to be greatly- deficient. ~ 174. Knowledge begins in the senses,

but has internal accessions. In order to have a clear understanding of the

particular topic before us, let us briefly advert to certain general

views, already -more or less attended to, having a connexion with it. In

making the human soul a subject of inquiry, it is an obvious consideration

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INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. 251 that a distinction may be drawn between

the soul, contemplated in itself, and its acts, or states, or the

knowledge which it possesses. The inquiry, therefore, naturally arises,

Under what circumstances the acquisition of knowledge begins? Now this is

the very question which has already been considered; nor can it be deemed

necessary to repeat here the considerations which havm been brought up in

reference to it. It is enough to express our continued reliance on the

general experience and testimony of mankind, so far as it is possible to

ascertain them on a sIubject of so much difficulty, that the beginnings of

thought and knowledge are immediately subsequent to certain affections of

those bodily organs which we call the SENSES. In other words, were it not

for impressions on the senses, which may be traced to objects external to

them, our mental capabilities, whatever they may be, would in all

probability have remnained folded up, and have never been redeemed from a

state of fruitless inaction. HIence the process, which is implied in the

perception of external things, or what is commonly termed by Mr. Locke

sensation, may justly be considered the OCCASION of the introductory step

to all our knowledge. But it does not follow from this, nor is it by any

means true, that the whole amount of it, in its ultimate progress, is to

be ascribed directly to the same source. All that can be said with truth

is, that the mind receives the earliest part of its ideas by means of the

senses, and that, in consequence of having received these elementary

cognitions, all its powbecome rapidly and fully operative. And here we

come to the SECOND great source of knowledge. The powers of the mind being

thus fairly brought into exercise, its various operations then furnish us

with another set of notions, which, by way of distinguishing them from

those received through the direct mediation of the senses, may be called,

in the language of Mr. Locke, ideas of reflection, or, to use a

phraseology embracing all possible cases, ideas or knowledges of INTERNAL


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252 INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. These two sources of human thought and

knowledge, the Internal and External, however they may have been

confounded by some writers, are easily distinguished from each other. The

ideas which arise in the mind solely from the fact of the previous

existence of certain mental operations, could not have been suggested by

anything which takes place in the external world independently of those

operations. Of this last class, some instances, with illustrations of the

same, may properly be mentioned here. ~ 175. Instances of notions which

have an internal origin. Among other things which do not come within the

limits of sensuous knowledge, but are to be ascribed to the second great

source, are those mental experiences expressed by the terms TI-IINKING,

DOUBTING, BELIEVING, and CERTAINTY.-It is a matter of internal observation

(that is, of consciousness or of inward reflection, which are synonymous

with internal observation), that the mind does not; and cannot, for any

-length of time, remain inactive. IHence there is occasion for that

specific experience which we denomlinate THINKING. There is both the

process of thinking, which we express by the word thinking; and the

additional idea founded upon that process, which we express by the word

thought. But obviously the knowledge which we thus have, whether expressed

by the word THINKING or the word THOUGHT, is of internal origin; it'is not

an object of touch, or taste, or sight; it is to be ascribed to the mind

itself alone, and to its inherent activity, unaided by any immediate and

direct action of the senses. Again, in the examination of some topic which

is proposed for discussion, a proposition is stated with little or no

evidence attending it, and the mind, in reference to that proposition, is

brought into a position to which we give the name of doubting. We have

both the process of doubting, and the abstract idea founded upon it which

we express by the word doubt. And here again, all we can say of this new

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INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE. 253 form of experience is, that it has its

origin within, and necessarily exists immediately subsequent, not to mere

outward impressions, but to certain other mental states, of which we are

conscious. But then, in this very instance, if the evidence be

considerably increased, the mental estimation which we form is altered in

regard to it, and to this new state of the mind we give the name of belief

or believing. And, in case the evidence of the proposition is of a higher

and more decided character, then there arises another state of the mind,

which we denominate certcainty. The ideas of right and wrong, of unity and

number, of time and space, order, proportion, similitude, truth, wisdom,

power, obligation,:succession, cause, effect, and many others, have a like

origin; at least there are none of them to be ascribed directly and

exclusively to the senses. —It is cheerfully granted, that, in determining

this point, it is proper to refer to the common experience of mankind, and

to rely upon it. But it is believed in all these instances (certainly in

the most of them), that such a reference will be amply decisive.. Let it,

then, be left to the candid internal examination of each individual to

determine, Whether a distinction be not rightly drawn between the origin

of these ideas, and that of those forms of knowledge which we attribute to

the senses, and which take their place as a part of our cognitions nnder

the names of red, blue, sweet, fragrant, bitter, hard, smooth, loud, soft,

&c.? On this question it is thought that, in general, there can be but one

answer, although some writers, through the love of excessive

simplification, have been betrayed into error in regard to it. Hence it is

distinctly to be kept in mind, that there are two sources of thought and

knowledge. An affection of the senses by means of external objects is the

immediate occasion of one portion; the constitution of the mind and its

operations are the occasions or source of the other. Those notions which

can be

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254 INTERNAL ORIGIN OF KNOWVLEDGE. ascribed directly to any one of the

senses as their specific source, and not merely as an indirect and general

occasion of their origin, are External, while all others seem to be

entitled to be called Internal. And yet it will be recollected that we

have found it necessary to treat of some notions under the general head of

External Knowledge, not precisely corresponding to the view now given. The

mental states which we now have reference to, were found, however, to be

so closely connected in their origin with the exercise of the senses, or

with some other affection of the bodily system (such as the idea of

externality, the uneasy feeling of hunger, thirst, &c.), as to come lunder

consideration, in part or in whole, somewhat more naturally there than in

any subsequent part of our inquiries. ~ 176. Imperfections attendant on

classifications in mental philosophy. The remarks just made naturally lead

us to embrace this opportunity to suggest a caution applicable to the

subject of Classification in mental philosophy in general. It will be

recollected, that the first general arrangement of the states of the mind

was into the great Divisions of Intellectual, Sentient or Sentimentive,

and Volitional. Beginning with the INTELLECTUAL part Of our nature, we

found our intellections susceptible of being divided into those of an

External and those of an Internal origin; and have hitherto directed our

inquiries with a reference to this division. Now the remark we would make

is, that the classifications just referred to, and all other, general

classifications in mental philosophy,- although they may be theoretically

and philosophically true, are nevertheless not always easy and

satisfactory in their application. As the mind begins to operate in all

its parts and in all its relations nearly simultaneously (and certainly at

a very early period of life), the history of its multiplied acts and

feelings becomes very much interwoven and perplexed. In the matter of

Classification, therefore, nothing more is to be expect

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INTUITIONAL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWER. 255 ed than a general outline,

approximating as nearly as possible to an expression of what is conceived

to be the truth; our inquiries are to be directed by such general outline

so far as can be done consistently with the often involved and complicated

nature of the mental operations; but, after all, the value of our

investigations'will depend essentially and chiefly on the accuracy of the

details. We make these remarks here, because some who assent to the

general arrangement may perhaps imagine that they see reason for an

alteration in the disposition of the subordinate parts. And we readily

admit that cases are to be found where it is somewhat difficult to

determine under what general head particular thoughts are to be placed,

and particular mental exercises and associations are to be arranged. But

if, as before intimated, the outlines of the system be generally correct

or nearly so, and the details, although they may sometimes be wrongly

placed relatively to such outlines, be given with accuracy, not much will

be found which there will be occasion to object to. CHAPTER II. THE

INTUITIONAL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWER. ~ 177. Place, general objects, and

names of this power. UNDER the head of the Internal or Super-sensuous

intellect, there are four leading Cognitive principles, which are easily

discriminated from'all others, and are worthy of special notice:

Intuition, Consciousness, Judgment, and Reasoning. The Intuitional or

Suggestional power, which gives us a knowledge of things in the absolute;

Consciousness, which gives us a knowledge of mental states and operations;

Relative Suggestion or Judgment, by means of which we become acquainted

with the immediate relations of objects; and Reasoning, which gives us a

knowledge of relations that are more remote. The first of these

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256 INTUITIONALx OR SUGGE STIONAL POWER. which claims attention, and which

seems to be first in the order of nature, inasmuch as it deals with those

elementary truths which are fundamental to all others, is the Intuitional

or Suggestional power. As discriminative and descriptive of this

susceptibility, though imperfectly so, it may be enough to say now, that

it is a power, which gives rise to knowledge, not secondarily by means of

acts of comparison and deduction, but by means of its own original

activity and vigor. Its appropriate objects must of course exist; and this

important faculty, without asking aid of the senses on the one hand or of

reasoning on the other, at once reveals them. It is proper to say here, in

justification in part' of the arrangement of the mental powers which we

have thought it necessary to make, that the powers of the mind are known

and identified as such, not merely by the characteristics which

discriminate the forms of their respective activities, but also in part by

the objects with which they deal, and the ends or uses which they are

intended to secure. The objects with which the Intuitional power deals are

not merely mental, or those which-transcend-the function of the senses,

but they are things in the absolute; and which, existing in the

impersonalities of truth, are subjects of cognition, without being

subjects of analysis. I think there are three marks or characteristics of

them, although the marks are not laid down as exhaustive, but are meant

rather as hints and helps than as exclusive and final affirmations. FIRST,

they are necessary in their origin. Whatever and wherever they may be,

they may be said to exist in the nature of things. The fact of their

existence affirms itself, because the opposite of their existence is not a

conceivable possibility. SECOND, they are essential and immutable. Space

and duration, for instance, which are revealed to us by means of this

power, are not only necessities in their origin, but they are necessities

to every thing else; and they are immutable, because, as no reason can be

given for their beginning, so none can be given 91I~N ~IV- V- ~LL V

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INTUITIONAL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWER. 257 for their termination. THIRD, as

they are objects which are common to all, so, by means of the Intuitional

or Suggestional power, they come within the knowledge of all. The use of

the term Suggestion, as applicable to the power under consideration, is

proposed by Dr. Reid in his Inquiry into the II-unlan M1ind, chap. ii., ~

7. HIe there speaks of certain notions or ideas, such as our ideas of

existence, mind, ansd personality, as not gotten by comparing ideas and

perceiving agreements and disagreements, but as the gifts of nature, and

as immediately inspired by our mental constitutitution. And in a few

paragraphs after, not knowing, as he says, any word more proper, he asks

leave to make use of the term Suggestion as the name expressive of the

faculty, to which we are indebted for notions of this kind. Mr. Stewart

also, in his Philosophical Essays, speaks of certain mental phenomena,

instancing among them our ideas of time and number, of existence,

identity, and motion, as attendant upon the objects of our consciousness,

and as SUGGESTED by them. The use of the term, ill its philosophical

application, is recognised also, among others who might be memtioned, by

Dr. Thomas Brown and Sir William Hamilton. The term Intuition is

frequently employed for the same purpose by other philosophical writers.

And as there is sometinmes an advantage in having more than one form of

expression, we feel at liberty to accept both, and to use them as

convertible. ~ 178. Ideas of existence, mind, self-existence, and personal

identity. It is a part of our plan, as we advance from one portion of the

mind to another, not only to lay down its general divisions, and to

indicate successively in their true place the powers or faculties coining

under theni, but also to mention specifically, so far as may be necessary

for an illustration of the subject, some of the results of the exercise of

those powers. Accordingly, we shall now proceed to give an account of some

ideas which have an intuitional origin, without

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258 INTUITIONAL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWVER. undertaking to give a complete

enumeration of them. (I.) Of the idea of Existence. Among the various

notions, the origin of which naturally requires to be considered under the

head of Suggestion or Intuition, is that of Existence. What existence is

in itself (that is to say, independently of any existent being), it would

be useless to inquire. Using the phrase idea of existence as expressive of

a mental state, by means of which that which we call existence is made

known to us, it is the name of a purely simple idea, and cannot be

defined. The history of its rise is briefly this: Such is our nature that

we cannot exist without having the notion of existence. So that the origin

of the idea of existence is inseparable from the mere fact that we have a

percipient and sentient nature. An insentient being, if such a supposition

be possible, may exist without having any such idea. IBut man, being

constituted with powers of perception and feeling, cannot help perceiving

that lie is what he is. If we think, then there is something which has

this capability of thought; if we feel, then there is not only the mere

act of feeling, but something also which puts forth the act. (II.) The

idea of MIND. The origin of the notion of Mind is similar to that of

existence. Neither of them can be strictly and properly referred to the

senses. We do not see the mind, nor is it an object of touch, or of taste,

or of any other sense. Nor, on the other hand, is the notion of mind a

direct object of the memory, or of reasoning, or of imagination. The

notion arises naturally, or is SUGGESTED or INTUITIONED, from the mere

fact that the mind actually exists, and is susceptible of various feelings

and operations. The same may be said of all the distinct powers of the

mind, such as the power of perception, of memory, of association, of

imagination, of the will; not of the acts or exercises of these powers, it

will be noticed, but of the powers themselves. That is to say, they are

made known to us, considered abstractly and as distinct subjects of

thought, not by direct per

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INTUITIONAIL OR SUGGESTIONAL POWER. 259 ception, either inward or outward,

but by spontaneity or suggestion. We say not by direct perception, because

there is something intermediate between the power and the knowledge of it,

viz., the act or exercise of the power, which is the occasion of the

knowledge of the power itself. The Suggestional or Intuitional Power,

availing itself of this occasion, gives us a knowledge of the distinct

susceptibilities of the mind, just as it does of the mind as a whole.

(III.) Similar remarks, as far as spontaneity is concerned, will apply to

the notions (whether we consider them as simple or complex) of

SELF-EXISTENCE and PERSONAL IDENTITY. At the very earliest period they

flow out, as it were, from the mind itself; not resulting from any

prolonged and laborious process, but freely and spontaneously suggested or

intuitioned by it. This is so true, that no one is able to designate

either the precise tilme, or the precise circumstances under which they

originate; for they spring into being under all circumstances. We cannot

look, or touch, or breathe, or move, or think without them. These are

products of our mental nature too essential and important to be withheld,

or to be given only on rare and doubtful occasions; but are brought into

existence in all times and places, and under all the varieties of action

and feeling. —(See, in connexion with this section, ~ 4, 5, 6.) ~ 179.

Origin of the idea of externality. In giving an account of the origin of

ideas, it is proper, in this connexion, to refer to the notion of

outwardness or externality. Outwardness, although it is involved in

everything which the senses.have a connexion withl is, nevertheless, not a

direct subject of the senses., As in other cases of ideas of internal

origin, we do not, in strictness of speech, smell it, or taste it, or see

it, or hear it, or touch it; and yet there is nothing which we see, taste,

hear, or touch, of which externality is not predicable. The simple fact

is, that the senses (or, rather, in this case one of them, that of TOUCi)

furnlish the occasion (not the thing itself, but

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2601 INTUITIONAL OR SUGG:ESTIONAL POWER. simply the occcasion) on which

the Intellect, in virtue of its own spontaneity of action, gives us a

knowledge of it. We have already had opportunity (~ 70) to speak of this

idea as a most important one; as the connecting thought, which introduces

ls to a new manifestation of existence, different from that interior

existence, which we variously call by the names spirit, mind, or soul. It

is evident, if we could not form the idea of externality, everything which

is the subject of mental experience would seem to be wholly internal, mere

modifications of the inward or mental being. It is this idea, taken in

connexion with the circumstances of its origin, which solves what has

sometimes been considered a great mystery. The question is often asked,

How is it possible that the mind should pass over from the circle of its

own existence, the limits of its own actual personality, into the region

and the knowledge of things wholly different from itself? In other words,

using forms of expression which certain German philosophers have made

familiar, from the EGO to the NON-EGO? If we will interrogate nature, and

rest satisfied with her responses, the matter is simple. It is the power

that gives us a knowledge of Mind, and uniting mind with its operations

gives us the idea of Personality, and combining the present with the p