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TERMS DEFINED OR EXPLAINED.
1. Every thing we perceive or are conscious of, whether a being or a quality, a passion or an 'action, is with respect to the percipient termed an object. Some objects appear to be internal, or within the mind ; passion, for example, thinking, volition : some external ; such as every object of sight, of hearing, of smell, of touch, of taste.
2. That act of the mind which makes known to me an external object, is termed perception. That act of the mind which makes known to me an internal object, is termed consciousness. The power or faculty from which consciousness proceeds, is termed an internal sense.
The power or faculty from which perception proceeds, is termed an external sense. This distinction refers to the objects of our knowledge ; for the senses, whether external or internal, are all of them powers or faculties of the mind.
3. But as self is an object that cannot be termed either external or internal, the faculty by which I have knowledge of myself, is a sense that cannot properly be termed either internal or external
. 4. By the eye we perceive figure, color, motion, &c. : by the ear we perceive the different qualities of sound, high, low, loud, soft : by touch we perceive rough, smooth, hot, cold, &c.: by taste we perceive sweet, sour, bitter, &c.: by smell we perceive fragrant, fetid, &c.
These qualities partake the common nature of all qualities, that they are not capable of an independent existence, but must belong to some being of which they are properties or attributes. A being with respect to its properties or attributes is termed a subject or substratum. Every substratum of visible qualities, is termed substance; and of tangible qualities, body,
5. Substance and sound are perceived as existing at a distance from the organ; often at a considerable distance. But smell, touch, and taste are perceived as existing at the organ of sense.
6. The objects of external sense are various. Substances are perceived by the eye; bodies by the touch. Sounds, tastes, and smells, passing commonly under the name of secondary qualities, require more explanation than there is room for here. All the objects of internal sense are attributes : witness deliberation, reasoning, resolution, willing, consenting, which are internal actions, Passions and emotions, which are internal agitations, are also attributes. With regard to the former, I am conscious of being active ; with regard to the latter, I am conscious of being passive.
7. Again, we are conscious of internal action as in the head : of passions and emctions as in the heart.
8. Many actions may be exerted internally, and many effects produced of which we are unconscious : when we investigate the ultimate cause of the motion of the blood, and of other internal motions upon which life depends, it is the most probable opinion that some internal power is the cause : and if so, we are unconscious of the operations of that power. But consciousness being implied in the very meaning of deliberating, reasoning, resolving, willing, consenting, such operations cannot escape our knowledge. The same is the case of passions and emotions; for no internal agitation is denominated a passion or emotion, but what we are conscious of.
9. The mind is not always the same ; by turns it is cheerful, melancholy, calm, peevish, &c. These differences may not improperly be denominated tones.
10. Perception and sensation are commonly reckoned synonymous terms, signifying that internal act by which external objects are made known to us. But they ought to be distinguished. Perceiving is a general term for hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling; and therefore perception signifies every internal act by which we are made acquainted with external objects; thus we are said to perceive a certain animal, a certain color, sound, taste, smell, &c. Sensation properly signifies that internal act by which we are made conscious of pleasure or pain felt at the organ of sense: thus we have a sensation of the pleasure arising from warmth, from a fragrant smell, from a sweet taste : and of the pain arising from a wound, from a fetid smell, from a disagreeable taste. In perception, my attention is directed to the external object : in sensation, it is directed to the pleasure or pain I feel.
The terms perception and sensation are sometimes employed to signify the objects of perception and sensation. Perception in that sense is a general term for every external thing we perceive; and sensation a general term for every pleasure and pain felt at the organ of sense.
11. Conception is different from perception. The latter includes a conviction of the reality of its object; the former does not; for I can conceive the most extravagant stories, told in a romance, without having any conviction of their reality. Conception differs also from imagination. By the power of fancy I can imagine a golden
Ι mountain, or an ebony ship with sails and ropes of silk. When I describe a picture of that kind to another, the idea he forms of it is termed conception. Imagination is active, conception is passive.
12. Feeling, besides denoting one of the external senses, is a general term, signifying that internal act by which we are made conscious of our pleasures and our pains; for it is not limited, as sensation is, to any one sort. Thus feeling being the genus of which sensation is a species, their meaning is the same when applied to pleasure and pain felt at the organ of sense : and accordingly we say indifferently, “I feel pleasure from heat, and pain from cold," or, “ I have a sensation of pleasure from heat, and of pain from co!l." But the meaning of feeling, as is said, is much more extensive. It is proper to say, I feel pleasure in a sumptuous building, in love, in friendship; and pain in losing a child, in revenge, in envy: sensa
, tion is not properly applied to any of these.
The term feeling is frequently used in a less proper sense, to signify what we feel or are conscious of: and in that sense it is a general term for all our passions and emotions, and for all our other pleasures and pains.
13. That we cannot perceive an external object till an impression is made upon our body, is probable from reason, and is ascertained by experience. But it is not necessary that we be made sensible of the impression : in touching, in tasting, and in smelling, we are sensible of the impression ; but not in seeing and hearing. We know indeed from experiments, that before we perceive a visible object, its image is spread upon the retina tunica; and that before we perceive a sound, an impression is made upon the drum of the ear: but we are not conscious either of the organic image or of the organic impression ; nor are we conscious of any other operation preparatory to the act of perception ; all we can say is, that we see that river, or hear that trumpet.*
14. Objects once perceived may be recalled to the mind by the power
of memory. When I recall an object of sight in that manner,
appears to me precisely the same as in the original survey, only less distinct. For example, having seen yesterday a spreading oak growing on the brink of a river, I endeavor to recall these objects to my mind. How is this operation performed? Do I endeavor to form in my mind a picture of them, or a representative anage ? Not so. I transport myself ideally to the place where I saw the tree and river yesterday : upon which I have a perception of these objects similar in all respects to the perception I had when i viewed them with my eyes, only less distinct. "And in this recollection, I am not conscious of a picture or representative image, more than in the original survey; the perception is of the tree and
* Yet a singular opinion that impressions are the only objects of perception, has been espoused by some philosophers of no mean rank; not attending to the foregoing peculiarity in the senses of seeing and hearing, that we perceive objects without being conscious of an organic impression, or of any im. pression (except in cases where the object of sight is very brilliant, or the sound excessively loud and grating).
river themselves, as at first. I confirm this by another experiment After attentively surveying a fine statue, I close my eyes. What follows? The same object continues, without any difference but that it is less distinct than formerly.* This indistinct secondary perception of an object, is termed an idea. And therefore the precise
* This experiment, which every one may reiterate till entire satisfaction be obtained, is of greater importance than at first view may appear; for it strikes at the root of a celebrated doctrine, which for more than two thousand years has misled many philosophers. This doctrine, as delivered by Aristotle, is in substance, “ That of every object of thought there must be in the inind some form, phantasm, or species ; that things sensible are perceived and remembered by means of sensible phantasms, and things intelligible by intelligible phantasms; and that these phantasıns have the form of the object without the inatter, as the impression of a seal upon wax has the form of a seal without its matter." The followers of Aristotle add, “That the sensible and intelligible forms of things, are sent forth from the things themselves, and make impressions upon the passive intellect, which impressions are perceived by the active intellect.” This notion differs very little from that of Epicurus, which is, “That all things send forth constantly and in every direction, slender gliosts or films of themselves (tenuia simulacra, as expressed by his commentator Lucretius); which striking upon the mind, are the means of perception, dreaming,” &c. Des Cartes, bent to oppose Aristotle, rejects the doctrine of sensible and intelligible phantasms; maintaining, however, the same doctrine in effect, namely, That we perceive nothing external but by means of some image either in the brain or in the mind : and these images he terms ideas According to these philosophers, we perceive nothing immediately but phan tasms or ideas; and from these we infer, by reasoning, the existence of ex ternal objects. Locke, adopting this doctrine, employs almost the whole o his book about ideas. He holds, that we cannot perceive, remember, noi imagine any thing, but by having an idea or image of it in the mind. He agrees with Des Cartes, that we can have no knowledge of things external, but what we acquire by reasoning upon their ideas or images in the mind; taking it for granted, that we are conscious of these ideas or images, and of nothing else. Those who talk the most intelligibly explain the doctrine thus : When I see in a mirror a man standing behind me, the immediate object of my sight is his image, without which I could not see him: in like manner, when I sec a tree or a liouse, there must be an image of these objects in my brain or ir my mind: which image is the immediate object of my perception; and by ireans of that image I perceive the external object.
One would not readily suspect any harm in this ideal system, other than the leading us into a labyrinth of metaphysical errors, in order to account for our knowledge of external objects, which is more truly and inore simply accounted for by direct perception. And yet some late writers have been able to extract from it death and destruction to the whole world, levelling all down to a mere chaos of ideas. Dr. Berkeley, upon authority of the philosophers named, taking for granted that we cannot perceive any object but what is in the mind, discovered that the reasoning employed by Des Cartes and Locke to infer the existence of external objects, is inconclusive; and upon that discovery ventured, against common sense, to annihilate totally the material world. And a later writer, discovering that Berkeley's arguments might with equal success be applied against immaterial beings, ventures still more boldly to reject by the lump the immaterial world as well as the inaterial; leaving nothing in naturo but images or ideas floating in vacuo, without affording them a single mind for shelter or support.
When such wild and extravagant consequences can be drawn from the ideal systein, it inight have been expected, that no man who is not crazy would have ventured to erect such a superstructure, till he should first be certain beyond all doubt of a solid foundation. And yet upou inquiry, we find the foundation of this terrible cloctrine to be no better than a shallow metaphysical arg 11went, namely, “That no being can act but where it is; and consequently, that
and accurate definition of an idea, in contra distinction to an origi. nal perception, is, “ That perception of a real object which is raised in the mind by the power of memory.” Every thing we have any knowledge of, whether internal or external, passions, emotions, thinking, resolving, willing, heat, cold, &c., as well as external objects, may be recalled as above by the power of memory.*
it cannot act upon any subject at a distance.". This argument possesses indeed one eminent advantage, that its obscurity, like that of an oracle, is apt to impose upon the reader, who is willing to consider it as a demonstration, because he does not clearly see the fallacy. The best way to give it a fair trial, is to draw it out of its obscurity, and to state it in a clear light, as follows: “No subject can be perceived unless it act upon the mind, but no distant subject can act upon the mind, because no being can act but where it is : and, there fore, the immediate object of perception inust be something united to the mind 80 as to be able to act upon it.” Here the argument is completed in all its parts; and from it is derived the supposed necessity of phantasms or idea's united to the mind, as the only objects of perception. It is singularly un lucky, that this argument concludes directly against the very system of which it is the only foundation; for how can phantasms or ideas be raised in the mind by things at a distance, if things at a distance cannot act upon the mind? I say more, that it assumes a proposition as truc, without evidence, namely, That no distant subject can act upon the mind. This proposition undoubtedly requires evidence, for it is not intuitively certain. And, therefore, till the proposition be demonstrated, every man without scruple may rely upon the conviction of his senses, that he hears and sees things at a distance.
But I venture a holder step, which is, to show that the proposition is false. Admitting that no being can act but where it is, is there any thing more simple or more common, than the acting upon subjects at a distance by intermediate mcans ? This holds in fact with respect both to seeing and hearing. When I see a tree, for example, rays of light are reflected from the tree to my eye, forming a picture upon the retina tunica ; but the object perceived is the tree itself, not the rays of light, nor the picture. In this manner distant objects are perceived, without any action of the object upon the mind, or of the mind upon the object. Hearing is in a similar case; the air, put in motion by thunder, makes an impression upon the drum of the ear; but this impression is not what I hear, it is the thunder itself by means of that impression.
With respect to vision in particular, we are profoundly ignorant by what means and in what manner the picture on the retina tunica contributes to produce a sight of the object. One thing only is clear, that as we have no knowledge of that picture, it is as natural to conceive that it should be inade the instrument of discovering the external object, and not itself, as of discovering itself only, and not the external object.
Upon the chimerical consequences drawn from the ideal systern, I shall m«ks but a single reflection. Nature determines us necessarily to rely on the veracity of our censes; and upon their evidence the existence of external objects is to us a matter of intuitive knowledge and absolute certainty. Vain therefore is the attempt of Dr. Berkeley and of his followers to deceive us, by a metaphysical subtilty, into a disbelief of what we cannot entertain even the slightest doubt. [See also Beattie's Moral Science, 104-106.]
* From this definition of an idea, the following proposition must be evident, That there can be no such thing as an innate idea. If the original perception of an olject be not innate, which is obvious; it is not less obvious, that tho idea or secondary perception of that object cannot be innate. And yet, to prove this self-evident proposition, Locke has bestowed a whole book of his treatise upon Human Understanding. So necessary it is to give accurate definitions, and so preventive of dispute are definitions when accurate. Dr. Berkeley has taken great pains to prove another propositiou equally evident, That there can be no such thing as a general idea : all our original perceptions are of particular objects, ai d our secondary perceptions or ideas met be squally so.