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ELEMENTARY NOTIONS AND DEFINITIONS.
1. In the present work I have to speak of the Actions of man, and of those Faculties by which he acts as man. These faculties belong to man in virtue of the Human Nature which is common to all men. They are Human Faculties, and give rise to Human Actions.
I and my readers share in this common Human Nature; and hence, instead of saying that man acts thus and thus, or has such and such faculties, I shall often say that we act thus, or that we have such faculties.
2. Man has faculties of Sensation, by which he perceives and observes Things, or objects without him; and faculties of Reflection, by which he is aware of Thoughts, or actions within him.
These faculties of Sensation and Reflection are inseparably combined in their operation. We cannot observe external things without some degree of Thought; nor can we reflect upon our Thoughts, without being influenced in the course of our reflec- tion by the Things which we have observed.
3. Man, thus combining Observation and Reflection, is led to regard external things as grouped and classed, in his thoughts. He contemplates objects under general and abstract forms; and thus has Conceptions or Notions of them, and applies to them Names. Thus bread, fruit, flesh, are classed together and indicated by the general name of food; food, clothing, tools, arms, are all included in the general name property. Such terms are abstract, as well as general; in calling many different things food, we designate one certain use of the things, abstracting it from the things themselves, and neglecting their other qualities. In like manner, when we call many different things property, we abstract one special view of the things so described, from all various circumstances which may belong to them.
4. When we consider things under these general and abstract aspects, they can be denoted by Names, as we have said. Names indicate a class of things, or relations of things, which have all a single general and abstract aspect. The Conception is that, in our thoughts, which we express or signify by the Name.
Man not only contemplates things, or objects, and their relations; but he contemplates also Changes of things and of their relations, or Facts. Thus he observes that the stars move round the pole, or that Brutus stabs Cæsar. Or the absence of change may be a Fact; as, that the pole-star does not move.
Facts, as well as things, are described by general and abstract words. Things are described by Substantives; Facts, by Verbs, or words which assert.
5. When the relations or changes so asserted really exist or occur, the assertions are true. can, by various processes, of observation and reflection, satisfy ourselves that some assertions are true and some false. We can be certain and sure of such truth and such falsehood. We may convince
ourselves and convince others of it; but we may
Truth and Error are concerned about many
We can, in thought, separate these General Relations from the objects and facts. Such general relations are Space, Time, Number, Resemblance, Cause and Effect, and the like. These general relations thus separated may be termed Ideas; but the term Idea is often used more loosely, to designate all abstract objects of thought.
6. Objects and facts being regulated by these
7. When we thus reason concerning things existing under these general relations of Space, Time, Number, and the like, we proceed upon, and necessarily assume, certain grounds, or Fundamental Principles, respecting these relations. And these Principles, the origin and basis of our reasoning, may
be separately asserted, as Axioms. Such Principles are the Axioms of Geometry.
8. By observation of the external world according to the general relations of Space, Time, Number, Resemblance, Cause and Effect, and the like, we become acquainted with it, so as to trace its course in some degree. We apprehend facts or objects, as conforming to a general Rule or Law. Thus, the Stars in general conform to the Law, that they revolve uniformly about the pole. The Planets conform to certain other Laws, which were discovered by the Chaldean and Greek astronomers. Such Laws are Laws of Nature.
When we discover such a constancy and sequence in events, we believe some to be the consequences of the others. We are then led forwards to future, as well as backwards to past events. We believe that some events will certainly happen, that others are probable. We believe it certain that the sun will rise to-morrow, and probable that he will shine. 9. We can, in our thoughts, separate Laws of Nature from the Facts which conform to them. When we do this, the Law is represented by the Ideas and Conceptions which it involves. Thus the Law of a Planet's motion round the Sun, as to space, is represented by the conception of an Ellipse, the Sun being in its Focus. Laws so abstracted from Facts are Theories.
10. The operations by which we frame and deal with Ideas and Conceptions, and all other acts of thought, are ascribed to the mind; they are mental operations and acts.
The mental operations which have been noticed; namely, to conceive objects in a general and abstract manner (3); to apply names to them (4); to reason (6); to apprehend first principles of reasoning (7); to conceive general rules (9); to apprehend facts as conformable to general Rules (8); are functions
belonging to man, exclusively of all other animals. They are ascribed to a faculty specially human, the Reason.
The substantive Reason, thus used, has a wider sense than the verb to reason. The Reason is not only the faculty by which we reason from fundamental principles, when we have anyhow attained or assumed these; it is also the faculty by which we apprehend fundamental principles. By our Reason, we not only reason from the axioms of Geometry, but also see the truth of the axioms.
The special substantive, a reason, denotes a step in reasoning.
11. Of the processes which have been mentioned as belonging to the Reason, some are also ascribed to the Understanding, but not all. The Reason and the Understanding have not been steadily distinguished by English writers. The most simple way to use the substantive Understanding in a definite sense, is to make it correspond, in its extent, with the verb understand. To understand anything, is to apprehend it according to certain assumed ideas and rules; we do not include, in the meaning of the word, an examination of the ground of the ideas and rules, by reference to which we understand the thing. We understand a Language, when we apprehend what is said, according to the established vocabulary and grammar of the language; without inquiring how the words. came to have their meaning, or what is the ground of the grammatical rules. We understand the sense, without reasoning about the etymology and syntax. Again, we understand a Machine when we perceive how its parts will work upon one another according to the known laws of mechanics, without inquiring what is the ground of these laws.
Reasoning may be requisite to understanding. We may have to reason about the syntax, in order to understand the sense: we may have to reason upon