Page images
PDF

birds. The crowing of the pheasant is very similar to that of the former species, but not so loud or so distinct. There are many varieties of the pheasant tribe kept in the aviaries of the curious in England, exhibiting the most admirable plumage, but not sufficiently hardy to endure the rigours of winter in that climate, where the P. colchicus alone has become nationalized. See Aves, Plate XII. fig. 2. PHEASANT. See PhasLANUs. PHELLANDRIUM, in botany, water hemlock, a genus of the Pentandria Digynia class and order. Natural order of Umbellatae, or Umbelliferae. Essential character: florets of the disk smaller; fruit ovate, even, crowned with the perianth and pistil. There are two species, viz. P. aquaticum, common water hemlock, and P. mutellina: the former is a native of most parts of Europe: Linnaeus informs us, that the horses in Sweden, by eating this plant, are seized with a kind of palsy ; this effect is not to be ascribed to the plant, but to a coleopterous insect breeding in the stalks : in the winter the roots and stem, dissected by the influence of the weather, afford a curious skeleton or net-work. PHILADELPHUS, in botany, syringa, a genus of the Icosandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Hesperideae. Myrti, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx four or five-parted, superior; petals four or five; capsule four or fivecelled, many-seeded. There are four species, of which P. coronarius, common or white syringa, is a shrub that sends up a great number of slender stalks from the root, seven or eight feet in height, putting forth several short branches from their side; leaves ovate, lanceolate, three inches long, and two broad in the middle, terminating in acute points, with several indentures on their edges; they have both the taste and scent of fresh cucumbers; the primary flower is five-cleft in the calyx, corolla, pistil, and capsule; the rest are four-cleft. It is a native of the South of Europe. PHILLYREA, in botany, a genus of the Diandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Sepiariae. Jasmineae, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx fourtoothed; corolla four-cleft: berry twocelled; seeds solitary. There are three species, which are distinguished by the form and indentations of their leaves; they are shrubs, and natives of the southern countries of Europe; they are evergreens, and sufficiently hardy to thrive in the open air, being rarely injured, ex

cept in very severe winters, which causes their leaves to fall, and kills some of the weaker branches; these are repaired by new shoots the following summer; there are few evergreens which are hardier than the phillyrea, or that deserve more to be cultivated for pleasure. PHILOLOGY, a science, or rather assemblage of several sciences, consisting of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, antiquities, history, and criticism. Philology is a kind of universal literature, conversant about all the sciences, their rise, progress, authors, &c. It makes what the French call the belles lettres. In the universities it is called humanities. Anciently, philology was only a part of grammar. " PHILOSOPHER, a person versed in philosophy; or one who makes profession of, or applies himself to, the study of nature and morality. See PHILosophy. PHILosophen’s stone, the greatest object of alchymy, is a long sought for preparation, which, when found, is to convert all the true mercurial part of metal into pure gold, better than any that is dug out of the mines, or perfected by the refiner's art. PHILOSOPHY, mental. 1. That science which teaches us the laws of our mental frame, which shows us the origin of our various modes and habits of thought and feeling, how they operate upon one another, and how they are cultivated or repressed, is mental philosophy, or the philosophy of the human mind. The well directed study of it calls into action and improves the highest intellectual faculties; and while it employs the powers of the mind, it suggests the best means for their culture, and the best mode for their direction. It enables us to trace the intricacies of our own hearts, and points out the proper discipline for their correction. It discovers to us the real excellencies of the mind, and guides us in our efforts for the attainment of them. To success in forming the moral and mental character of others, it is more or less essential; for it discloses the nature of our influence over their minds, and the best mode of exercising it, so as to bring their various faculties into the best adjusted and most perfect state. Pursued with properviews, and in a proper manner, it lays the best foundation for the highest degrees of intellectual, moral, and religious improvement.—“There are difficulties,” to use the words of the great Hartley, “both in the word of God and in his works; and these difficulties are sometimes so magnified as to lead to scepticism, infidelity, or atheism. Now the contemplation of our own frame and constitution appears to me to have a peculiar tendency to lessen these difficulties attending natural and revealed religion, and to improve their evidences, as well as to concur with them in their determination of man's duty and expectations.” 2. The best ground-work for the pursuit of mental science is, an accurate judgment, a discriminating, penetrating intellect, and a habit of correct and cautious reasoning; and therefore the best preparatory culture of mind is, the study of the various branches of the mathematics and of natural philosophy. But habits of reflection and good sense are all which are essential to the beneficial pursuit of mental science; and with these it will in all cases lead to results highly important to individual welfare and usefulness.-The young, in particular, will be led, by an acquaintance with the practical laws of the mind, to perceive how their present conduct affects their future character and happiness; to perceive the importance of avoiding a frivolous employment of their time, without any end beyond mere amusemaent; to perceive the impossibility of indulging in vicious gratifications, without lessening their means of happiness, and checking their progress towards excellence. They will learn how habits are formed almost imperceptibly, and, when long exercised, how exceedingly difficult it is to eradicate them; they will learn to consider the formation of habits as requiring, therefore, their utmost circumspection. They will be enabled to discern what habits of thought and feeling are baneful, what useful; what means of happiness should be regarded as of primary value, what should be regarded as secondary only.—In short, there can be no hesitation in affirming, that next to the immediate pursuits of religion, to which the laws of the mind direct, a judicious acquaintance with those laws is the most important means for the right employment of that period of life, on which the happiness of our existence, in a great measure, depends. 3. We cannot even attempt to give dur readers a complete system of this important science; however brief it might be made, if it were as comprehensive as the subject requires, it would occupy too great a portion of this work: what we wish to aim at is, to give such a view of the leading laws of our mental frame, as may direct the thoughts of the inquirer into a right channel, and serve as a founda

tion for the results of attentive reflection, which reading may assist in gaining, but can seldom impart.

OF THE PRIMARY FACULTIES or THE MIND.

4. That, whatever it be, which thinks, and feels, and wills, is called mind: that part of the human being which thinks, and feels, and wills, is called the human mind. 5. We observe without us and within us numerous phenomena; the object of philosophy is to deduce from them certain general laws, agreeably to which they are produced, and then to employ those laws in the explanation of other phenomena. Mental philosophy pursues the same method which has been so successfully adopted in natural philosophy; and as in physics similar phenomena are referred to the operation of some one cause or power, so in mental science those phenomena, which have all one common feature, are referred to some faculty or property of the mind, by whose operation these phenomena are supposed to be produced. What those mental or physical powers are, philosophy does not profess to explain. 6. If we hold a luminous body before the eye, it produces some change in the state of that organ, and this produces in the mind a feeling; this feeling is called a sensation. This name is also given to all those other feelings which are produced in a similar way, viz. owing to a change in the organs of sense, whatever be the cause by which the change is produced. The general fact or law is, that sensations are produced by what affects the organs of sense. Now to account for this fact, we infer that the mind is possessed of a power or capacity which we call sensation, or, better to avoid ambiguity, the sensitive power. This then is that power or capacity of the mind, by whose operation it receives sensations from things which affect the organs of sense. 7. We know, as a matter of fact, that though sensations cease soon after the exciting object is withdrawn, yet if they have been produced sufficiently often and vividly, the causes of feelings similar in kind remain in the mind, and those similar feelings can recur when no change is produced in the organs of sense. These are called ideas: they are the relics of sensations.—Such is the general law of fact. The operation or act of retaining relics of sensations may, with the strictest pro

[ocr errors]

priety, be termed retention; and to account for it, we infer that the mind possesses a power or capacity, which we may call the retentive power. This then is that power or capacity of the mind, by which it retains relics of sensations. 8. Again; it is an indisputable fact, that these ideas, or relics of sensations, do not remain single in the mind, but become connected with one another, so that the recurrence of one, or of its corresponding sensation, will bring on another; and that in certain cases, they become so blended together, that the parts can scarcely be distinguished. Thus the word orange, either pronounced or thought of, will bring the idea of the appearance of an orange. Again, the idea of the word house is accompanied by a certain feeling, which is altogether different from that which accompanies the idea of the word ship; if we think about it a little, we usually have the idea of a particular house recalled; this is a simple idea (or idea of sensation or conception) connected with other ideas, but not combined with them; but, in general, if the word occurs without the mind dwelling upon it, we may perceive an indistinct feeling, which is composed of a variety of simple ideas, received from a variety of those objects to which we give the name house. That the feeling is thus composed we have a full right to assert, on an attentive consideration of the customary processes of the mind.—Simple ideas may then be connected with other ideas; or they may blend and coalesce with other ideas, so as to form new ones, which are called compound or complex ideas. The general fact is that connections and compositions take place among our ideas; and when thus connected or compounded, we say that they are associated together, and the connected or compounded group we call an association. To account for the formation of associations, we infer that the mind possesses a power or capacity of connecting or combining ideas, which may be called the associative power. This then is that power or capacity of the mind by which it connects and compounds ideas. 9. Once more; it is obvious that, without any external excitement of the nerves by which muscular motion is produced, the mind can produce such motion; in other words, that state of the motory nerves, by which muscular motion is effected, can be produced by the mind. We do not here inquire how the mind learns to use its influence over the motory nerves, but state the fact, that muscular motion can be produced by the mind without ex

ternal excitement. To account for this, we infer that the mind possesses a power or capacity of influencing the motory nerves so as to produce muscular motion, which may be called the motive power.— We have no name appropriate to those states of mind which produce the changes in the motory nerves requisite for muscular motion; and we are, therefore, so far free from a difficulty which has accompanied us when speaking of sensations and ideas: these terms, as they are generally used, imply that the consciousness of the mind is excited. But it appears an almost indisputable fact, that the mental organs, whatever they be, by whose action the consciousness is excited, often are in a state of activity without such excitement of the consciousness; in other words, that those changes which, when accompanied with consciousness, are termed sensations and ideas, may take place, and produce their appropriate effect in the mental system, without exciting the conscious or percipient principle. In order to enter into the consideration of this important fact, it will be necessary to consider somewhat more explicitly, in what manner we employ the term mind, and to introduce some less customary terms, in order to avoid ambiguity. 10. In the philosophical sense of the term mind, it seems to belong exclusively to the conscious or percipient principle, whatever that be; but in common language we certainly employ it differently: e.g. no one hesitates in saying, “such a man has an extensive store of knowledge in his mind;” but no one supposes that at any one time a man perceives, that is, is conscious of, all the parts of that knowledge; in the same manner no one would hesitate in saying, “such a person has a great fund of valuable reflections for the conduct of life stored up in his mind, which he can produce whenever circumstances call for them;” but no one supposes that those reflections are always in the view of his mind, that is, that he is always conscious of them, that he always perceives them. All that can be meant in such cases is, that the causes of his ideas (that is, of his thoughts and feelings) remain in the mind, ready for excitement when they produce ideas—Hence then the mind, in the common acceptation of the term in which we use it, consists of two parts, the conscious or percipient principle, and the organized substance, which furnishes to the former the objects of its consciousness or percipiency. What the conscious or percipient principle is, is probably known to him only who formed it; we may believe consciousness or percipiency to be a property, which is the necessary result of, or added to, a certain organized system of matter; or we may believe it to be a property of some substance essentially different from matter; and we apprehend it is not of much consequence which opinion is adopted: but it seems indisputable, that, in the present state of knowledge, we cannot obtain, on either side, more than a bare preponderance of probabilities. 11. That organized substance, which, without any further medium, furnishes to the conscious or percipient principle the objects of consciousness or percipiency, may be called the sensorium. The parts of which the sensorium is composed, by whose motions or other changes, without any further medium, consciousness is excited, may be called the mental organs. By the mind, we understand the whole together, the conscious or percipient principle together with the sensorium, leaving it undecided, whether consciousness is a property of organized matter, or belongs to a substance essentially dif. ferent from matter; and also whether the sensorium be or be not the medullary substance of the brain. (See SENSATIon.) Hartley, as is well known, adopts the affirmative in the latter case; and he supposes that the changes of the sensorium which affect the consciousness are vibrations of the medullary substance (see VIBRATIon); we consider this hypothesis as a clog upon, at least, the adoption of his grand system of association, and should prefer the more general term, motions, if we professed to decide respecting the nature of the sensorium; as we do not, we shall employ the still more general term changes, since the term affections is already appropriated.—The changes in the sensorium, or mental organs, which may excite the consciousness, may be called sensorial changes. Of these some are produced by the impression of external objects upon the organs of sense; these may be called sensible changes; others, as we know by their effects, are producible without the presence of external objects; these may be called ideal changes, and are the relics of sensible changes ; a third class are those which are followed by muscular action, and may be termed motory changes. Each of these classes of sensorial changes may take place without consciousness, as we shall endeavour to

show in the next paragraph. When sensible changes are accompanied with consciousness, they are called sensations; when ideal changes are accompanied with consciousness, they are called ideas: and as sensible and ideal changes are principally important to us when accompanied with consciousness, and it seldom is necessary to distinguish between those which do and those which do not excite it, we shall not usually depart from the customary nomenclature. We have no term appropriated to denote motory changes accompanied with consciousness: this deficiency probably arises from the circumstance, that muscular action is so much an object of the senses, that by association it is referred to the moving muscle, and not to the intermediate fibrous motions and sensorial changes; thus, while writing, all the motion seems to be in the fingers, and in the fingers alone, though even the minutest motion, except that which is produced by some external stimulus upon the motory nerve, implies motory changes of the sensorium, and should, scientifically speaking, be referred to the sensorium or mind. 12. To show that sensible changes are not necessarily accompanied with consciousness, we observe, that the diminution of consciousness can be traced, in its various stages, from the state of active attention, to cases where we have no reason to believe that consciousness is excited, where yet we have abundant reason to believe that there were sensible changes; because those effects are produced, which we know are produced by sensations (that is, by sensible changes of which we are conscious), and, as far as we know, in no other way. We cannot, consistently with our requisite limits, advance so many facts as may appear to some to be necessary to prove our statements, but the following will at least illustrate them.—Persons, much accustomed to employ notes in singing, sometimes feel so deeply interested in the thoughts and feelings excited by the words they are singing, that though the notes continue to regulate their tones of voice, the sensible changes are altogether unnoticed by them : they do not excite the consciousness. Again, many who have been long accustomed to perform upon a musical instrument, and can play with ease at first sight, while playing a piece of music which they have not seen before, can converse and carry on a train of reasoning, and yet play correctly: the appropriate sensible changes must in

such cases be produced; for otherwise the proper motions of the fingers could not; but they are not accompanied with consciousness; as soon as they are, attention to the conversation, or train of reasoning, is interrupted. In the same manner, persons accustomed to read aloud can continue to read aloud, even what they never read before, with at least correctness, and at the same time have their thoughts closely employed on other objects. The following case, stated by Dr. Percival, will by most be admitted as a strong corroboration of our principles. “Several years ago the Countess of fell into an apoplexy about seven o’clock in the morning : among other stimulating applications, I directed a feather, dipped in hartshorn, to be frequently introduced into her nostrils. Her ladyship, when in health, was much addicted to the taking of snuff, and the present irritation of the olfactory nerves produced a junction of the fore-finger and thumb of the right hand, the elevation of them to the nose, and the action of snuffing in the nostrils. When the snuffing ceased, the hand and arm dropped down in a torpid state. A fresh application of the stimulus renewed these successive efforts; and I was witness to their repetition till the hartshorn lost its power of irritation, probably by destroying the sensibility of the olfactory nerves. The Countess recovered from the fit about six o'clock in the evening; but though it was neither long nor severe, her memory never afterwards furnished the least trace of consciousness during its continuance.” Now here the impressions produced by the hartshorn on the external organ, produced (by means of the nerves) sensible changes; and these, either through the medium of ideal changes, or, more probably, directly, produced motory changes, which (by means of the nerves) produced muscular action; and the whole without exciting consciousness. The gradual diminution of attention to, or the consciousness of, external objects of sensation (the beat of a clock for instance), when the mind is becoming closely engaged upon some subject of reflection, must be obvious to every one who thinks on what passes within him; and it cannot be requisite to enlarge on that point.—Those who admit what we have stated respecting sensible changes will feel little hesitation in admitting the same positions respecting ideal changes; because the latter are merely relics of the former. Besides, there is another WQL. IX.

point of agreement. Sensible changes are produced without any effort of the mind, without any volition; so also are ideal changes. These latter, when not interrupted by sensations, follow one another in a train, without an effort, and often contrary to effort, regulated by the modes of connection to which the individual is most prone. We believe that the position advanced respecting sensible changes, at the beginning of this paragraph, is equally applicable to ideal changes, mutatis mutandis. We shall give only one instance of that case in which consciousness entirely disappears, where yet we are certain that there must have been ideal changes. Every one, who can add up a column of figures, knows the nature of the operation, because it is learnt after the memory has acquired considerable power. The sum of two or three figures is first ascertained: the ideal change of that sum must of course be in the mind, and with that sum is combined the next figure, which forms a new sum, and so on. Now then there is the act of adding a number, the ideal change of which is in the mind, to another number of which there is a sensible change, and there is the ideal change of the sum, and so on, continually recurring: this we perceive when we are trying to add up slowly. But persons who are very familiar with such additions will tell the result or final sum, apparently without an effort, apparently without the intervention of the mind, and certainly without any consciousness of the operations and ideal changes which must have passed in the mind before the result could have been obtained. It will not unfrequently be found, that persons very much habituated to these operations can add up much more correctly, while they leave themselves unconscious of the operations and ideal changes, than when they are conscious of them: and, what appears to us to settle the point, as far as consciousness is concerned, persons who, by constant custom, have become familiar with all possible combinations of small numbers, can go through a series of additions, and at the same time closely engage the attention upon another object; for instance, can dictate one or more letters.-As to motory changes, the fact is so obvious, that muscular actions, which must have their origin in the mind, as being regulated by impressions upon the external organs of sense, go on in long succession, and with frequent variation, while at the same time the attention is fully occupied by H h

« PreviousContinue »