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true objects of science, but now justly given up as having no existence beyond the mind that conceives them.
The mind has a tendency to regard its abstractions as real existences independent of itself; and it was this tendency that gave rise to the doctrine of universals. The notion that form was any thing more than a mere abstraction of the mind, has been long exploded. The same arguments which reduced form to a mere abstraction, are equally applicable to causation, but it was left for Brown to make the application.* To us it is surprising, that having gone so far, he did not reduce to its true place another abstraction of the mind, which still claims to be regarded as having a separate existence. This is substance or essence, of which, distinct from qualities or properties, there is no better evidence than of the existence of form or causation. Brown has almost expressed this very idea in several instances, without appearing to be aware of the important bearing of his remarks. In defending the propriety of an attempt to analyse the mind, which is in itself a simple homogeneous substance, he says, “What constitutes the mind but its thoughts and feelings?” It may indeed with propriety be asked, is there any thing else which we can know of it, or by which it can be defined ? and if not, what evidence can we have that any thing else exists ? It is observed in the ninth lecture, “ that those philosophers who have had the wisdom to perceive that man can discover nothing more than the phenomena of nature and the order of their succession, still believe that occult causes exist, but cannot be discerned by us, and therefore that it is useless for us to aim at their discovery. Whereas their advice is sound, not because these causes are undiscoverable by man, but because they do not exist. The same remarks may with equal propriety be applied to substance or essence, as distinct from qualities. Yet Brown has in lecture eleventh, this passage, “One important circumstance of agreement between the sciences of mind and matter, is, that their phenomena are all that we can truly know. Their essence cannot be discovered by us.”
“ The laws of mental inquiry,” says Brown, “are the same as those in the material sciences: we can only analyse what is complex, or observe and arrange the sequence of phenomena as antecedent and consequent.' “As we can know nothing of matter but its qualities and the phenomena it exhibits, so we can know nothing of mind but our sensations, and the phenomena they exhibit, their relations and order of sequence. For it
Hume, in his argument on necessary connexion, advanced the idea, that phy. sical causes and effects are merely as antecedents and consequents; but having adopted a false theory of the origin of our knowledge, this simple and just conception of the relation of cause and effect, led him to sceptical conclusions as to the foundations of human belief.
would be absurd to suppose that we could know that which is independent of our perception and consciousness ; and were we in possession of a greater number of senses, still we should know nothing of matter or mind but their phenomena; we should not know their essence.
Here we cannot forbear repeating, that, if there is nothing more to be known of matter but its qualities and their phenomena, or of mind but its feelings or thoughts, what proof is there of any essence distinct from these? Do not the terms essence, substance, or substratum, mean an abstraction of the mind, which it has formed, and to which it has given a name, because it considers as one, a collection of qualities which are found existing together in nature, but which we can separate in our own thoughts? Hardness cannot exist without extension, or extension without form in nature; but we can think of them, and reason about them, separately, in consequence of possessing the power of abstraction. Having thus separated in our minds, what nature has combined, when we go to unite them again in thought, we require some common centre to which to attach them, because we have a common term matter, which expresses them all united. But when we have abstracted all the qualities of matter, what is there remaining, to which we can with propriety apply that or any other name? Is not the belief of the independent existence of essence a philosophical error, like the belief in universals, with which philosophers have puzzled themselves so long, in their attempts to explain the nature of general terms? We are perfectly aware now, that individuals only have a real existence, and that there is nothing general but the relation of resemblance, which the mind perceives, and which it invents a term to express. We now admit form and causation to be abstractions of the mind; and, although essence or substratum is still believed to have a separate existence, independent of all qualities, to be none of these qualities, but something beyond our comprehension and detection, will it not, one day, be added to the list of these abstractions ?
If we attend to the process by which the mind arrives at the notion of essence, we shall the more readily admit that notion to be all that actually exists. It is evident, that terms expressing objects as they exist in nature, will be first invented, that the qualities of which we subsequently form a notion, exist separately only in the mind, and that if these qualities could be physically taken away, one by one, till all were gone, there would be no longer a subject or matter remaining. If then the notion of an essence which has no properties, is what we cannot even conceive, if we have not the least evidence of its physical existence, and if we can explain the rise of this belief of its existence,
we acknowledge, been universal with the learned,) VOL. IV._NO. 7.
are we not justified in consigning it, as Brown has causation, to a place among the universals of the schools ?
The manner in which the mind considers apart the qualities which constitute any individual object, may be compared to the analysis of the chemist. When he examines an apparently simple body, which he believes to be compounded, with a view to ascertain the elements of which it is composed ; he separates one after another these elements, from their state of combination, by the aid of chemical agents; and having ascertained and removed each one of these elements, he feels that he is acquainted with every thing which entered into the constitution of the body. He is far from supposing, that the most important part of all, the essence of the thing, has escaped his detection. The existence of these elements in combination, formed the constitution or essence of the body, and not some mysterious existence, of which his senses gave him no information.
But let us return to Brown ; since, he says, we can know nothing of matter or of mind, but the phenomena they exhibit, the true object of inquiry in both these departments of science, is the analysis of what is complex, and the arrangement of what is successive, in their phenomena.
It is chiefly as it is analytical, that the science of mind admits of discovery, and opens a field almost as rich and inexhaustible as the universe without. What a variety of appearances do the rise and growth of passion assume, and can it be pretended that the ignorant can trace out all these shadowings of feeling into feelings, as well as the profound intellectual inquirer ? or that an accurate analysis of passion, and the thousand and mixed sensations of which it is the result, would be of no avail in education? The mind is a chaos, and it is only the spirit of inquiry moving over it which can separate its mingled elements.
Mind then is capable of existing in a variety of states, and it is this variety of states, their complex causes and invariable antecedents, which are the object of inquiry to the intellectual philosopher, and which it is highly useful to know.
Amid all this variety of feelings, it is the same being who experiences them. This view of the subject, says Brown, involves the idea of consciousness and identity. Consciousness has been regarded as a separate faculty, whereas it is only a general term, comprehending all our sensations ; for if we had but one sensation, we should not distinguish between the consciousness of the sensation and the sensation itself, nor employ more than one term to express them. The term consciousness has been invented in consequence of that belief in personal identity, which is an original principle, and must exist when we have experienced a succession of sensations, which we remember, and believe to belong to the same being. Brown considers the two principal objections which may be made to the doctrine that personal identity is an undeniable truth, and also the opinion of several philosophers on this subject, particularly Locke's ; for these we shall refer the reader to the Lectures themselves.-11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th.
All reasoning must take for granted the truth of certain selfevident propositions ; therefore there can be no such thing as reasoning against self-evident truths generally. If there be first truths, personal identity is one of the most unquestionable. It does not depend on any series of propositions, but arises in certain circumstances from a principle of thought as essential to the mind as its power of perception or memory, or as reasoning itself. There is to be found in it every circumstance required to substantiate it as a law of intuitive belief. It is universal and irresistible. These first truths Stewart has called the elements of human reason. They are, says Brown, essential to philosophy, in all its forms, as they are physically essential to the preservation of our animal existence. The rash and unphilosophical extension of them by some philosophers, and the misapprehension of them by others, render it necessary to state with precision their reality and importance.
Having shown that the phenomena of mind may be the subject of science, no less than those of matter, and having established the necessity of admitting self-evident truths, and in particular that of personal identity, as the foundation of all reasoning, Brown enters upon the arrangement of mental phenomena.
seem on first reflection, (he says,) a hopeless task to reduce under a few heads the almost infinite variety of thoughts and feelings. But nature has not left us without a clue in this labyrinth. "The single power by which we discover resemblance and relation, is sufficient to reduce this confusion to order. Our classification of objects depends on certain relations which we discover in their phenomena. Some of these are more obvious than others, but it often happens that the least obvious afford the best ground of classification. Many divisions of mental phenomena have been made ; the most common is that of the understanding and the will. But this division, though very ancient, (says Brown,) is very illogical. As none of the classifications of mental phenomena which have yet been made are accurate or complete, he attempts a new arrangement. He begins with a caution against the supposition that any change in the arrangement of objects can alter the true nature of their phenomena ;
a misapprehension of this simple truth, has given rise
absurdities ; for no sooner were certain affections classed together as belonging to the will, or the understanding, than they were considered as not belonging to the same substance, and each faculty was made an independent mind.
although to many
The first grand division which Brown makes of mental phenomena, is into external and internal affections of mind ; including under the first head, all those states of mind which are produced by external objects, and under the last, those immediately consequent on certain preceding affections of the mind itself. The external affections are so few and simple, that they require but little subdivision. Brown has adopted the obvious method of arranging them according to the different organs on which they depend. The second, and far more numerous and important class, internal affections, he has divided into two orders, intellectual states and emotions. Of each of these orders, he makes further subdivisions. With respect to his own arrangement, he
“We have sensations or perceptions of the objects that affect our bodily organs; these I term the sensitive or external affections of the mind. We remember objects, we imagine them in new situations, we compare their relations. These mere conceptions or notions of objects and their qualities, as elements of our general knowledge, are what I have termed the intellectual states of the mind. We are moved with certain lively feelings, on the consideration of what we thus conceive or compare, with feelings, for example, of beauty, or sublimity, or astonishment, or love, or hope, or fear. These, and various other feelings, analogous to them, are our emotions. There is no portion of consciousness which does not seem to be included in one or the other of these divisions, and to know them all, is to know all the phenomena of
In the class of the external affections are included many sensations not usually ascribed to the organs of sense, but as truly proceeding from them as the sensations of taste or smell. These, though they have received little attention from philosophers, become in many instances, as in the acquired perceptions of sight, the foundation of some of the most accurate judgments we form. The most important, however, in the class of the external affections, are those proceeding from the organs of sense. Brown considers each of the organs of sense separately; the nature and uses of the information they convey; he also gives a very refined analysis of the process by which the mind acquires this information. We shall not follow him minutely, but notice only what is peculiar in his view of the subject.
“ It is impossible,” he says, “for us to become acquainted with the early history of the ideas received through the organs of sense, so as accurately to distinguish such as are immediately consequent on the affection of the organ, and such as are owing to the corrections of experience; and we ought therefore to express our opinions on this subject with diffidence.” He professes to state only what appears to him, after the nicest examination