« PredošláPokračovať »
reasoning, and of the principles on which it proceeds. These principles were long misunderstood by philosophers, who imagined that a generic word expresses an actual existence distinct from the individuals of which the genus is composed; and that the mind has a faculty of directing its attention to this general IDEA or ESSENCE, without the mediation of language. Hence much of the mystery which still prevails in the abstract sciences.
50. As it is by language alone that we are rendered capable of general reasoning, one of the most valuable branches of logic is that which relates to the use of words. Too little attention has hitherto been bestowed on this subject.
51. It is not, however, sufficient that we guard against error, in ascertaining the truth of our general principles. However accurately just they may be in themselves, considered as speculative maxims; they must always be applied, in actual practice, with the utmost caution. To illustrate the advantages resulting from the proper use of them, and the mistakes produced by their abuse, would form another very important article in a philosophical system of logic.
52. A habit of abstract speculation, uncorrected by experi ence; and a habit of unenlightened practice, without the aid of general principles; are two opposite extremes, to which we are liable, in the conduct of the understanding. Few men are to be found who have not acquired, in early life, a manifest bias either to the one or to the other,
SECT. VI.-OF THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS.
53. The effect of custom in connecting together different thoughts, in such a manner that the one seems spontaneously to follow the other, is one of the most obvious facts with respect to the operations of the mind. To this law of our constitution, modern philosophers have given the name of the Association of Ideas. Of late, the phrase has been used in a more extensive sense, to denote the tendency which our thoughts have to succeed each other in a regular train ; whether the connexion
between them be established by custom, or arise from some other associating principle.
54. What the different circumstances are which regulate the succession of our thoughts, it is not possible, perhaps, to enumerate completely. The following are some of the most remarkable: Resemblance, Analogy, Contrariety, Vicinity in Place, Vicinity in Time, Relation of Cause and Effect, Relation of Means and End, Relation of Premises and Conclusion. Whether some of these may not be resolvable into others, is not very material to inquire. The most powerful of all the associating principles is undoubtedly Custom; and it is that which leads to the most important inquiries of a practical nature.
55. Among the associating principles already enumerated, there is an important distinction. The relations on which some of them are founded are obvious; and connect our thoughts together, when the attention is not directed particularly to any subject. Other relations are discovered only in consequence of efforts of meditation or study. Of the former kind are the relations of Resemblance and Analogy, of Contrariety, of Vicinity in Time and Place; of the latter, the Relations of Cause and Effect, of Means and End, of Premises and Conclusion. It is owing to this distinction that transitions, which would be highly offensive in philosophical writing, are the most pleasing of any in poetry.—[Philosophy of the Human Mind, p. 293, 2d edit.]—2d edit.
56. In so far as the train of our thoughts is regulated by the laws of Association, it depends on causes of the nature of which we are ignorant, and over which we have no direct or immediate control. At the same time it is evident, that the will has some influence over this part of our constitution. To ascertain the extent and the limits of this influence, is a problem of equal curiosity and importance.
57. We have not a power of summoning up any particular thought, till that thought first solicit our notice. Among a crowd, however, which present themselves, we can choose and reject. We can detain a particular thought, and thus check the train that would otherwise have taken place.
58. The indirect influence of the will over the train of our thoughts is very extensive. It is exerted chiefly in two ways: -1. By an effort of attention, we can check the spontaneous course of our ideas, and give efficacy to those associating principles which prevail in a studious and collected mind. 2. By practice, we can strengthen a particular associating principle to so great a degree, as to acquire a command over a particular class of our ideas.
59. The effect of habit, in subjecting to the will those intellectual processes, which are the foundation of wit,--of the mechanical part of poetry, (or, in other words, of the powers of versification and rhyming,)—of poetical fancy,—of invention in the arts and sciences ;—and, above all, its effect in forming a talent for extempore elocution, furnish striking illustrations of this last remark.
60. Of all the different parts of our constitution, there is none more interesting to the student of Moral Philosophy than the laws which regulate the Association of Ideas. From the intimate and almost indissoluble combinations which we are thus led to form in infancy and in early youth, may be traced many of our speculative errors; many of our most powerful principles of action; many perversions of our moral judgment; and many of those prejudices which mislead us in the conduct of life. By means of a judicious education, this susceptibility of the infant mind might be rendered subservient not only to moral improvement, but to the enlargement and multiplication of our capacities of enjoyment.
SECT. VII.-OF MEMORY.1
61. The theories which attempt to account for the phenomena of Memory, by means of impressions and traces in the brain, are entirely hypothetical; and throw no light on the subject which they profess to explain.? 1 ["* Neque fas esse existimant, ea discendo, ac
memoria remittant."literis mandare ....
. . Neque eos, qui Cæsar De Bel. Gal. lib. vi. cap. 14.]discunt, literis confisos, minus memoriæ 1st edit. studere: quod ferè plerisque accidit, ut ? [" Non arbitror autem mihi in hoc præsidio literarum, diligentiam in per- immorandum, quid sit quod memoriam 67. This power is not a simple faculty, but results from the aciat, quanquam plerique imprimi quæ- ceris annulorum signa serventur, existidam vestigia nostro animo, quæ velut in mant."-Quintil. lib. i. c. 2.]—2d edit.
62. This faculty appears, indeed, to depend much on the state of the body; as may be inferred from the effects of intoxication, disease, and old age. A collection of facts with respect to these effects, as they are diversified in different instances, would form a valuable addition to our knowledge, and might lead to important conclusions.
63. On a superficial view of the subject, the original differences among men, in their capacities of memory, would seem to be immense. But there is reason for thinking that these differences are commonly overrated, and that due allowances are not made for the diversity of appearance which the human mind must necessarily exhibit in this respect, in consequence of the various walks of observation and of study, to which mankind are led, partly by natural propensity, and partly by accidental situation.
64. Independent of any inequalities in the original capacity, there are remarkable varieties of memory which lay the foundation of important distinctions among individuals in point of intellectual character,
65. These varieties arise chiefly from the different modes in which the constituent qualities of memory are combined in different instances. The perfection of memory is to unite Susceptibility, Retentiveness, and Readiness; but such a union is rare, and any extraordinary improvement that is bestowed on one of these qualities is generally purchased at the expense of the others.
SECT. VIII.-OF IMAGINATION,
66. The province of Imagination is to select qualities and circumstances from a variety of different objects; and, by combining and disposing these, to form a new creation of its own. In this appropriated sense of the word, it coincides with what some authors have called Creative or Poetical Imagination.
combination of several different ones. The effort, for example, of the painter, in composing an ideal landscape, implies conception, which enables him to represent to himself those beautiful scenes in nature, out of which his selection is to be made ;Abstraction, which separates the selected materials from the qualities and circumstances connected with them in the memory ;—and Judgment or Taste, which selects the materials, and directs their combination.
68. The nature and province of imagination are most clearly exemplified, in the arts which convey pleasure to the mind by new modifications and combinations of beauties originally perceived by the eye.
The operations of imagination, in this particular instance, serve to illustrate the intellectual processes, by which the mind deviates from the models presented to it by experience, and forms to itself new and untried objects of pursuit in those analogous but less palpable cases, which fall under the consideration of the moralist. It is in consequence of such processes, (which, how little soever they may be attended to, are habitually passing in the thoughts of all men,) that human affairs exhibit so busy and various a scene; tending, in one instance, to improvement, and, in another, to decline; according as our notions of excellence and of happiness are just or
SECT. IX. —OF JUDGMENT AND REASONING.
69. Judgment is defined by the writers on logic, to be an act of the mind, by which one thing is affirmed or denied of another ;—a definition, which, although not unexceptionable, is as good as the nature of the subject admits of.
70. In some cases our judgments are formed as soon as the terms of the proposition are understood; or they result so necessarily from the original constitution of the mind, that we act upon them from our earliest infancy, without ever making them an object of reflection. In other cases, they are formed in consequence of a process of thought, consisting of different successive steps. Hence, a distinction of Evidence into intuitive and deductive.