« PrécédentContinuer »
15. External objects are distinguishable into simple and complex. Certain sounds are so simple as not to be resolvable into parts; and so are certain tastes and smells. Objects of touch are for the most part complex : they are not only hard or soft, but also smooth or rough, hot or cold. Of all external objects, visible objects are commonly the most complex: a tree is composed of a trunk, branches, leaves : it has color, figure, size. But as an action is not resulvable into parts, a perception, being an act of sense, is always simple. The color, figure, umbrage of a spreading oak, raise not different perceptions: the perception is one, that of a tree, colored, figured, &c. A quality is never perceived separately from the subject; nor a part from the whole. There is a mental power of abstraction, of which afterward; but the eye never abstracts, nor any other external sense.
16. Many particulars besides those mentioned enter into the perception of visible objects, motion, rest, place, space, time, number, &c. These, all of them, denote simple ideas, and for that reason adınit:not of a definition. All that can be done is to point out how they are acquired. The ideas of motion and of rest are familiar even to a child, from seeing its nurse sometimes walking, sometimes sitting: the former it is taught to call motion ; the latter, rest. Place enters into every perception of a visible object : the object is perceived to exist, and to exist somewhere, on the right hand or on the left, and where it exists is termed place. Ask a child where its mother is, or in what place : it will answer readily, she is in the garden. Space is connected with size or bulk : every piece of matter occupies room or space in proportion to its bulk. A child perceives that when its little box is filled with playthings, there is no room or space for more. Space is also applied to signify the dis tance of visible objects from each other; and such space accordingly can be measured. Dinner comes after breakfast, and supper after dinner : a child perceives an interval, and that interval it learns to call time. A child sometimes is alone with its nurse ; its mother is sometimes in the room ; and sometimes also its brothers and sisters: It perceives a difference between many and few; and that difference it is taught to call number.
17. The primary perception of a visible object is more complete, lively, and distinct than that of any other object. And for that reason, an idea, or secondary perception of a visible object, is also more complete, lively, and distinct than that of any other object. A fine passage in music may for a moment be recalled to the mind with tolerable accuracy: but after the shortest interval, it becomes no less obscure than the ideas of the other objects mentioned.
18. As the range of an individual is commonly within a narrow space, it rarely happens that every thing necessary to be known comes under our own perceptions. Language is an admirable con
trivance for supplying that deficiency; for by language every man's perceptions may be communicated to all : and the same may be done by painting and other imitative arts. The facility of communication depends on the liveliness of the ideas; especially in language, which hitherto has not arrived at greater perfection than to express clear ideas : hence it is, that poets and orators, who are extremely successful in describing objects of sight, find objects of the other senses too faint and obscure for language. An idea thus acquired of an object at second-hand, ought to be distinguished from an idea of memory, though their resemblance has occasioned the same term idea to be applied to both; which is to be regretted, because ambiguity in the signification of words is a great obstruction to accuracy of conception. Thus Nature hath furnished the means of multiplying ideas without end, and of providing every individual with a sufficient stock to answer, not only the necessities, but even the elegancies of life.
19. Further, man is endued with a sort of creative power: he can fabricate images of things that have no existence. The materials employed in this operation are ideas of sight, which he can take to pieces and combine into new forms at pleasure: their complexity and vivacity make them fit materials. But a man hath no such power over any of his other ideas, whether of the external or internal senses : he cannot, after the utmost effort, combine these into new forms, being too obscure for that operation. An image thus fabricated cannot be called a secondary perception, not being derived from an original perception : the poverty of language, however, as I. 1v in the case immediately above mentioned, has occasioned the same term idea to be applied to all. This singular power of fabricating images without any foundation in reality, is distinguished by the name imagination.*
20. As ideas are the chief materials employed in reasoning and reflecting, it is of consequence that their nature and differences be understood. It appears now that ideas may be distinguished into three kinds : first, Ideas derived from original perceptions, properly termed ideas of memory ; second, Ideas communicated by language or other signs; and third, Ideas of imagination. These ideas differ from each other in many respects ; but chiefly in respect of their proceeding from different causes : The first kind is derived from real
[“Memory is double :-not only do I remember that I have been in the presence of a certain object, but I represent to myself this absent object as it was, as I have seen, felt, and judged it :-the remembrance is then an image. In this last case, memory has been called by some philosophers imaginative memory. Such is the foundation of imagination; but imagination is something more still.
“The mind, applying itself to the images furnished by memory, decomposes them, chooses between their different traits, and forms of them new images, Without this new power imagination would be captive in the circle of memory."} -Cousin's Lect. on the Beaut-ful, p. 135.
existences that have been objects of our senses : language is the cause of the second, or any other sign that has the same power with language ; and a man's imagination is to himself the cause of the third. It is scarce necessary to add, that an idea, originally of imagination, being conveyed to others by language or any other vehicle, becomes in their mind an idea of the second kind; and again, that an idea of this kind, being afterwards recalled to the mind, beco nes in that circumstance an idea of memory.
21. We are not so constituted as to perceive objects with indifference : these with very few exceptions appear agreeable or disagreeable ; and at the same time raise in us pleasant or painful emotions. With respect to external objects in particular, we distinguish those which produce organic impressions, from those which affect us from a distance. When we touch a soft and smooth body, we have a pleasant feeling as at the place of contact; which feeling we distinguish not, at least not accurately, from the agreeableness of the body itself; and the same holds in general with regard to all organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing: a sound is perceived as in itself agreeable, and raises in the hearer a pleasant emotion; an object of sight appears in itself agreeable, and raises in the spectator a pleasant emotion. These are accurately distinguished: the pleasant emotion is felt as within the mind; the agreeableness of the object is placed upon the object, and is perceived as one of its qualities or properties. The agreeable appearance of an object of sight is termed beauty; and the disagreeable appearance of such an object is termed ugliness.
22. But though beauty and ugliness, in their proper and genuine signification, are confined to objects of sight, yet in a more lax and figurative signification, they are applied to objects of the other senses: they are sometimes applied even to abstract terms; for it is not unusual to say, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful constitution of government.
23. A line composed by a single rule for prescribed mode), is perceived and said to be regular : a straight line, a parabola, an hyperbola, the circumference of a circle, and of an ellipse, are all of them regular lines. A figure composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular: a circle, a square, a hexagon, an equilateral triangle, are regular figures, being composed by a single rule, that determines the form of each. When the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a single rule that leaves nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly regular; which is the case of the figures now mentioned, and the case of a straight line and of the circumference of a circle. A figure and a line that require more than one rule for their construction, or that have any of their parts left arbitrary, are not perfectly regular : a parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a square; the parallelogram being subjected to no rule is to the length of sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal; the rhomb being subjected to no rule as to its angles, other than that the opposite angles be equal : for the same reason, the circumference of an ellipse, the form of which is susceptible of much variety, is less regular than that of a circle.
24. Regularity, properly speaking, belongs, like beauty, to objects of sight; and, like beauty, it is also applied figuratively to other objects: thus we say, a regular government, a regular composition of music, and, regular discipline.
25. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two figures are equal : thus two cubes of the same dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. Uniformity less perfect is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being equal : the uniformity is imperfect between two squares or cubes of unequal dimensions ; and still more so between a square and a parallelogram.
26. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform; its sides are equal and its angles are equal. Wherein then differs regularity from uniformity ? for a figure composed of uniform parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a figure considered as a whole composed of uniform parts: uniformity is predicated of these parts as related to each other by resemblance : we say, a square is a regular, not a uniform figure; but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say not, that they are regular, but that they are uniform.
27. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows, spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended for different uses : we require a certain proportion between a leg and an armn; in the base, the shaft, the capital of a pillar; and in the length, the breadth, the height of a room : some proportion is also required in different things intimately connected, as between a dwelling-house, the garden, and the stables ; but we require no proportion among things slightly connected, as between the table a man writes on and the dog that follows him. Proportion and uniformity never coincide ; things equal are uniform; but proportion is never applied to them : the four sides and angles of a square are equal and perfectly uniform; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus, proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a maximum in mathematics; a greater or less inequality or difference is less agreeable.
28. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying objects, we are directed by a sense of order : we perceive it to be more orderly, that we should pass from a principle to its accessories, and from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with respect to the position of things, a sense of
order directs us to place together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that have no natural connection, that order appears the most perfect, where the particulars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation that position can bestow upon straight lines : if they be so placed as by production to intersect, the relation is less perfect. A large body in the middle, and two equal bodies of less size, one on each side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are susceptible of by position: the relation between the two equal bodies would be stronger by juxtaposition; but they would not both have the same relation to the third.
29. The beauty or agreeableness of a visible object, is perceived as one of its qualities; which holds, not only in the primary perception, but also in the secondary perception or idea : and hence the pleasure that arises from the idea of a beautiful object. An idea of imagination is also pleasant, though in a lower degree than an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind ; for an evident reason, that the former is more distinct and lively than the latter. But this inferiority in ideas of imagination, is more than compensated by their greatness and variety, which are boundless ; for by the imagination, exerted without control, we can fabricate ideas of finer visible objects, of more noble and heroic actions, of greater wickedness, of more surprising events, than ever in fact existed : and in communicating such ideas by words, painting, sculpture, &c., the influence of the imagination is no less extensive than great.
30. In the nature of every man, there is somewhat original, which distinguishes him from others, which tends to form his character, and to make him meek or fiery, candid or deceitful, resolute or timorous, cheerful or morose. This original bent, termed disposition, must be distinguished from a principle: the latter signifying a law of human nature, makes part of the common nature of man; the former makes part of the nature of this or that man. Propensity is a name common to both; for it signifies a principle as well as a disposition.
31. Affection, signifying a settled bent of mind towards a particular being or thing, occupies a middle place between disposition on the one hand, and passion on the other. It is clearly distinguishable from disposition, which, being a branch of one's nature originally, must exist before there can be an opportunity to exert it upon any particular object; whereas affection can never be original, because, having a special relation to a particular object, it cannot exist till the object have once at least been presented. It is no less clearly distinguishable from passion, which, depending on the real or ideal presence of its object, vanishes with its object: whereas affection is a lasting connection; and like other connections, subsists even when