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ing to some particular associations, the triangle on such occasions were not usually the same, we should afterwards be unable to say what kind of a triangle had been in the view of our minds. 124. To state the fact respecting conceptions more generally; if we attempt to form a conception of any object, it must from the very nature of a conception be individual, representative, perhaps, of a numerous class, but still possessing those peculiar features which constitute individuality.—It may not be improper to suggest, that the want of attention to the difference between an idea and conception may have, in some measure, misled those philosophers, who have denied the existence of general ideas. “The business of conception,” says Mr. Stewart, “is to present us with an exact transcript of what we have felt or perceived;” and, admitting the truth of this, a conception is that transcript so presented.—We shall not enter into the inquiry, whether conception be a distinct faculty of the mind: we may, however, state, that it appears to us to be mothing different from memory, except as being a branch of that general faculty; and that a conception differs from an idea, only as a species does from a genus; that, in fact, without the aid of the associative faculty, and with retention alone, every idea would be merely a conception. For the recollection of an individual sensation, or group of sensations, whether seldom or frequently received, is a conception; but when a number of sensations, possessing some common features, but in others differing, are received into the mind, the ideas they form there by the laws of association coalesce with one another, thus constituting these complex ideas or states of mind, which never from their very nature can be conceptions, but which yet may be distinct, and, when words are used to denote them, the subjects of reasoning. 125. To apply these remarks: Almost an infinite variety of the sensations we receive are presented to our view so constantly connected with others, that however much it may be in the power of the mind to attend to them in a separate state, it is impossible to form a conception of them separately; but, on the other hand, there are a considerable number of qualities remote from mere sensation, belonging to an extensive range of individual objects, which may be considered by the mind separate from those objects, and baye internal feelings or complex
ideas attached to the terms which denote them. Now, we apprehend, it is the grand difference between our general notions, when concerned about things merely sensible, and those which we might call more purely intellectual, that in the former case, the conceptions being usually clear, and frequently very vivid, are very easily brought up by the associative power; and the circumstances of distinction being few, and merely sensible, are, from their very nature, calculated to produce a conception: and so little do we possess an abstractive power, that it is in most cases impossible to do this without introducing the conception of the whole object: on the other hand, the circumstances of distinction in the latter case are less definite; they are frequently extremely numerous, and are seldom capable of exciting conceptions, and consequently they do not readily call up any particular individual object to which the general term is applicable.— We acknowledge, very much, in these latter respects, depends upon the peculiar circumstances of the case, or upon the habits of the individual. If a person had been remarkably struck with an act of justice, or of disinterested benevolence, or any other, it is probable, that while the vividness of the impression lasted, he would never be able to think of these qualities without the particular case being recalled into the mind; and if he possessed a lively imagination, or had been present at the performance of the virtuous action, would form an immediate conception of the whole scene. Or if a person be not much in habits of speculation, he would universally think of some example of the action possessing those qualities. But these circumstances, though they tend to illustrate the operation of the associative power, do not appear to militate against the general truth of the above remarks. 126. The remarks we have made on the subject of abstraction or generalization have been, in a considerable degree, separate from language, or at least supposing it not already formed. If every person was left to form his own classifications, language, in very many instances, would be of little utility; be. cause the same features of resemblance would not operate in the same way upon different individuals. But the process of the mind, when language is formed, is somewhat different; because in this case it is restrained, and has not the same un
bounded liberality of forming its associa
tions.—The mind of the child is not left to classify objects; but these objects are presented to it already classed, owing to the same word being used to express them; and it is very interesting to observe the efforts of the juvenile mind in finding out some features of resemblance between the objects which had previously been presented to him, and a new object presented to him with the same Hlaine.
IMAGINATION on FANCY.
127. In the use which Mr. Stewart makes of the term imagination, it includes the fancy, and is in no respect a distinct power, as he himself states, but compounded of several others. “It includes,” he says, “conception or simple apprehension, which enables us to form a notion of those former objects of perception or of knowledge, out of which we are to make a selection; abstraction, which separates the selected materials from the qualities and circumstances which are connected with them in nature; and judgment or taste, which selects the materials and directs their combination. To these powers we may add that peculiar habit of association to which I formerly gave the name of fancy; as it is this which presents to our choice all the different materials which are subservient to the efforts of imagination.” “This,” he observes in another place, “is the proper sense of the word, if imagination be the power which gives birth to the productions of the poet and the painter,” and, we may add, of genius in general.-We have no objection to such an appropriation of the term; in the Hartleyan nomenclature, however, it is used indiscriminately in the sense in which the professor seems to employ the fancy, 128. The recurrence of ideas, says Hartley, especially visible and audible ones, in a vivid manner, but without any regard to the order observed in past facts, is ascribed to the power of imagination or fancy. Every succeeding thought is the result either of some new impression, or of an association with the preceding. It is impossible, indeed, to attend so minutely to the succession of our ideas, as to distinguish and remember for a sufficient time the very impression or association which gave rise to each thought or conception; but we can do this as far as it can be expected to be done, and in so great a variety of instan
ces, that we have full right to infer it in all.—A reverie differs from imagination only in this, that the person being more attentive to his own thoughts, and less disturbed by external objects, more of his trains of ideas are deducible from association, and fewer from new impressions.—It is to be observed, however, that in all cases of imagination and reverie, the train and complexion of the thoughts depend, in part, upon the then state of the body or mind. A pleasurable or painful state of the stomach, for instance, joy or grief, will make all the thoughts tend to the same cast. “Objects and circumstances may be so disposed,” says Mr. Grant, (in a very valuable paper on Reverie, for which see “Manchester Memoirs,” vol. i. or “Nicholson's Journal,” vol. xv.) “as to give to reverie a pleasing or pensive, a refined or an elegant direction. I believe it is unnecessary to ask whether the mind will not be more apt to depart from serious meditation in a gaudy chapel, than in the solemn gloom of a cathedral? It is remarked by an eminent medical writer, that light, introduced by opening the windowshutters, gave a gayer cast to the ideas of a patient who laboured under reverie. The study of Tasso was a Gothic apartment, and he fancied his familiar spirit to converse with him through a window of stained glass.” 129. We might very easily enlarge on this faculty, and particularly on the regulation of it, as affecting the character and the happiness; but we suppose that none of our readers, who are much interested in the pursuits of mental philosophy, are without access to Dugald Stewart’s “Elements,” in the last chapter of which they will find an elegant, scientific, and highly important consideration of this point; and as we have already gone to the limits of our article, we must hasten to a conclusion.--Our object has been to lay before our readers a view of the leading features of the most important of all sciences, next to religion, to which it is eminently subservient; and in accomplishing this object we have endeavoured to show its practical value. We have, in many places, made a most free use of Hartley’s “Observations;” and we shall think ourselves happy, if we shall have succeeded in making the way smoother for an acquaintance with that profound and invaluable work, among such of our readers as have not previously paid much attention to the subject. To such we beg leave to recommend Mr. Belsham’s “Elg-. ments,” (of which we believe we have occasionally made use, without specific acknowledgement,) Locke’s “Essay,” Dr. Priestley’s “Abridgement” of Hartley, Allison’s “Essays on Taste,” and Professor Stewart’s “Elements,” as forming a pretty complete course of reading on Mental Philosophy. 130. As we have made a reference from METAPHYsics to this article, our readers will probably expect from us something more metaphysical than what they will find in the foregoing part of it. We are not among those who consider metaphysics as that science, falsely so called, which professes to enlarge human knowledge beyond the limits of the objects of human contemplation, as the science of essences, &c.; but we must acknowledge that we are disposed to allow a high rank to a few only of those branches of metaphysics, which do not justly class under the head of mental philosophy, or the philosophy of the human mind. We regard them as amusing speculations, which may serve to sharpen the activity of the intellect, and which, confined within moderate limits, may be safely indulged in by those whose time and culture of intelject allow of such indulgence; but we are no advocates for the young philosopher spending his exertions upon them: they may, and we are aware often do, deeply interest the mind; but few who think much will be unwilling to allow that an active imagination, or simply the devotement of the mind to an object, will create any interest in that object which has no foundation in the real utility of it. We make these remarks with no wish to throw a stigma upon metaphysics in general, but simply to lead our readers to reject that stigma which many throw upon the philosophy of the human mind, but which belongs to some only of the branches of metaphysics; and of these principally to those which the good sense of the present day regards merely as ob
jects of curiosity, notwithstanding the
cfforts of the learned Harris to lead us back again into all the vagaries of the anciént philosophers. Whatever relates to the properties of the mind, to the operations of intellect and affection, is of high value in various points of view: as Dugald Stewart justly remarks, the philosophy of the mind, abstracted entirely from that eminence, which belongs to it in consequence of its practical applications, may claim a distinguished rank among those preparatory disciplines, which Bishop Berkeley has happily com.
pared to “the crops which are raised, not for the sake of the harvest, but to be ploughed in as a dressing to the land.” 131. Physics, including in its widest extent natural history, is that grand division of human knowledge which has for its objects the properties, classifications, and laws, of all those things which affect the senses; metaphysics, arra Tz evaixa, comprehends all those speculations which bave for their aim, the properties, classification, and laws, of all those objects of human thought, which by sensation alone could not be known to man. The ancient metaphysics comprehended many objects which can scarcely be said to be within the sphere of human knowledge, and which are rather to be considered as the reveries of imagination than as the realities of intellect; with these the science of metaphysics ought not to be confounded. We cannot pretend to give a complete enumeration of the objects of this science, but it will not probably be useless to give such a statement and brief consideration of them, as will at least more fully explain than is perhaps generally done, what kind of knowledge it professes to have in view. 132. In the first place, metaphysics comprehends all investigations respecting the existence and attributes of the Supreme Being. While we state this, however, we admit that we use the term in its widest extent. The most important, because the most undeniable, and generally convincing, of these investigations come under the head of natural theology, which derives its proofs of the existence and attributes of the Supreme Being from the appearances of nature. Revealed religion teaches us what God himself has been pleased to make known to us of his character: but this, though a just foundation of belief on this point, and the guide of sound philosophy, scarcely comes under the head of philosophy. Those religious investigations which most properly class under the head of metaphysics, tend to prove the Divine existence and attributes from certain principles which are supposed to be indisputable, by a series of reasoning altogether independent of the marks of design in the objects around us. Of these, we think that those which are to be found at the beginning of the second volume of “Hartley’s Observations” are the most satisfactory. He sets out with this principle, “something must have existed from all eternity,” which he thinks commands an instantaneous necessary assent, or at
least the contrary of which (viz. that there was a time when nothing existed) the mind of every one refuses to admit. He next proceeds to show, that “there cannot have been a mere succession of finite dependent beings from all eternity; but there must exist at least one infinite independent being.” He concludes his reasoning, in proof of this proposition, with a remark which we will quote, because many, feeling themselves embarrassed with what may justly be called the metaphysical proof of the existence of God, are apt to suppose either that it has no weight, or that there is in their minds some wrong tendency, mental or moral, which impedes a ready assent to it. “Some of these (abstract metaphysical arguments) are more satisfactory to one person, some to another; but in all there is something of perplexity and doubt, concerning the exact propriety of expression, and method of reasoning, and perhaps ever will be : since the subject is infinite, and we finite.” Indeed, we are decidedly of opinion, that any mind would justly be deemed an anomaly, which, after resisting assent to the proof, a posteriori, fairly and attentively weighed and understood, should be led by the proof, a priori, to admit the existence of a first cause: and we strongly incline to the belief, that the conviction which may be supposed to be derived from the latter is in reality founded upon a previous, perhaps casual and even unintentional, consideration of the former. 133. This remark still more forcibly applies to the d priori arguments for the attributes of God. It is supposed to follow from the necessity of the existence of an infinite independent being, that he necessarily is endued with infinite power and knowledge. We admit that it by no means follows, from what we think an indisputable position, viz. that no human intellect could have inferred the one from the other without the Å posteriori proof, that therefore this inference has no force : but we do think that it is on the works of God alone that we can found a full and satisfactory proof of his power and knowledge; when these are admitted, however, we must resort to a metaphysical, but simple argument, to prove that they are unlimited.—We do not wish to lead our readers to the idea that Hartley confines his reasonings to the a priori argument for the attributes of God; for this is by no means the fact; and we beg leave strongly to recommend
to those of our readers, who have not previously attended to them, those parts of his works which relate to the Supreme Being : we consider them as a treasure of profound reflections, which will serve as a clue to numberless difficulties, which may have perplexed and distressed the mind on the respective subjects. 134. Many proceed further in the me. taphysical arguments respecting the attributes of God, and endeavour to prove that the infinite, independent Being, possessed of infinite power and knowledge, must be infinitely benevolent. We acknowledge ourselves able to feel no other ultimate proof of this position than (what abundantly proves the benevolence of God, though perhaps not immediately the infinite benevolence) the happiness and tendencies to happiness which, are observable in the sentient beings which fall under our notice. Admit the benevolence of God from his works, and then the infinity of that benevolence may be shewn by a simple metaphysical argument. “Since the qualities of benevolence and malevolence are as opposite to one another as light to darkness, they cannot co-exist in the same simple, unchangeable being. If, therefore, we can prove God to be benevolent, from the balance of happiness, malevolence must be entirely excluded; and we must suppose the evils which we see and feel to be owing to some other cause, however unable we may be to assign this cause, or to form any conceptions of it.”—The divine benevolence, in every just view which the human mind can take of it, includes every moral quality which can exist in the divine mind; holiness, justice, mercy, truth, all as attributes of God, are only modifications of benevolence: we need not therefore pursue these considerations further on this point—Connected with the divine benevolence is one important class of speculations, viz. those which refer to the existence of evil. This is a subject which has for ages exercised the human understanding, and still it is regarded as the chief difficulty with which the atheist has to contend. We will not attempt to weaken the reasonings of Hartley on this point, by laying an outline of them before our readers: but we confidently refer to his ob. servations, as containing the most solid ‘and satisfactory investigations respecting it, and what, to all who fully admit his principles of mental philosophy, must give views which shew the value of those principles which, from their consistence with the dictates of religion, both derive confirmation and lustre. 135. Besides these objects of metaphysical speculation in connection with the Divine Being, there are some which seem to us to rank with the ancient metaphysics; such as, the mode of the divine omniscience, the nature of the divine infinity, &c. Such things, it may reasonably be supposed, cannot be comprehended by finite beings; and if so, they cannot be the objects of human science, nor consequently of the pursuit of a wise man; but this no more argues against the science of metaphysics, than the absurdity of the pursuit of a perpetual motion against the science of mechanics, or of the search af. ter the philosopher's stone against the study of chemistry. 136. Secondly, in the extensive sense of the term metaphysics, it comprehends all investigations respecting the operations, powers, and laws of the human mind, (which class under mental philosophy,) and respecting the grounds of obligation and of human duty, as far as they are derived from the consideration of the mental frame, (which class under moral philosophy). It appears, however, that the term is more closely appropriate to those investigations, which have for their object subjects connected with the study of the human mind, but which concern rather abstract speculation than practice; for instance, whether the human mind is a distinct, independent substance, or whether the human frame consists of one uniform substance and perception, with its modes, is the result, necessary or otherwise, of the organization of the brain; whether the human mind is necessarily incorruptible and immortal; whether there is an external world as the cause of our sensations; in what personal identity consists; whether power is an attribute of the human mind, &c. 137. Respecting the homogeneity of the human frame, we have already had an opportunity of saying a few words near the beginning of this article: it appears to us a purely metaphysical question, almost solely of importance in consequence of the frequent misrepresentations, (real, though probably unintentional,) of the opinions of those who hold the affirmative side of the question, and of its supposed connection with the natural immortality of the soul. The fact is, that the modern materialists may be considered as having proved, what is admitted by some of the ablest natural philosophers, that solidity,
and the absence of all active power, are not properties of matter; and while the principle of vitality is on all hands admitted as the result, necessary or otherwise, of a certain structure of matter, they see no greater difficulty in the hypothesis that the principle of percipiency is also. Perhaps, if the question had been taken up respecting the lowest of the animal tribes, all of which possess percipiency, and it had first of all been considered whether the phenomena of percipiency in them required the admission of a substance, different from that, by whose organization the phenomena of vitality in them is produced; and next, whether there is any essential difference between the percipiency of the lowest animals, and those which form the gradual ascending links between them and the highest of the brute creation; and, lastly, whether there is any essential difference between the phenomena of percipiency observable in them, and those in the uncultivated and almost brutal savage ; if, above all, all ideas of connection between the immateriality of the human soul and its natural immortality had been relinquished, the question would have appeared less formidable, and admitted of an easier deciSlon. 138. The affirmative of the next question, respecting the natural immortality of the soul, appears to us to be totally beyond the power of man to prove, from the light of philosophy at least. We have no idea of a substance separate from its properties; and even admitting that the human soul is a distinct substance from the body, what property is it known to possess which necessarily implies indestructibility? What proof is there that sensation, memory, intellect, or affection, must necessarily continue, when the substance with which they are at least united, ceases to exist in its organized state : We do not say that the contrary can be proved; but we are not metaphysicians enough to discover any arguments for the once common hypothesis, (now, we believe, usually relinquished by philosophical immaterialists,) which have not been already found adequate to prove the point. The question seems indeed of very little consequence, except to those who quit the guidance of revelation; all must depend on the will of the Supreme Being; and the indications of his will, to be derived from the moral arguments for a future life, and still more from the Christian revelation, are worth a host of reasonings, to prove that a substance, of