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from the Material World, has its origin in an error, differing from that which misled Hooke and Darwin, only in this, that the latter, being the natural result of the favourite, or of the professional habits of the individual, assumes as many different shapes as the pursuits of mankind; whereas the former having its root in the common principles and common circumstances of the human race, may be expected to exert its influence on the theories of philosophers, in every country, and in every age. The one prejudice would have been classed by Bacon with the idola specus; the other with the idola tribus. . But I must not enlarge farther on systems which, whatever may have been the views of their authors, have obviously no logical connection with the problem relating to the sources of our ideas ; a problem which (as I have repeatedly observed) is to be solved, not by any hypothesis concerning the nature of Mind, but by an appeal to the phenomena of thought, and by an accurate analysis of the objects of our knowledge—On these grounds, our attention is naturally attracted to a new and very interesting class of facts, which have been accumulated, of late, with extraordinary industry, as an inductive demonstration of the justness of those principles which I have been endeavouring to controvert; and which have been recommended to public notice (in one instance at least), by a much more splendid display of learning and genius, than has been yet exhibited by any of our metaphysical physiologists. I allude to the philological researches of Mr Horne Tooke. Before, however, I enter upon any discussions concerning the inferences which these researches have been supposed to authorize, it is necessary for me to take a pretty wide compass, by premising some general observations; the scope of which, I am afraid, it may be difficult for my readers, at first view, to connect with the inquiries in which we have been hitherto engaged. I shall state, therefore, the whole of my argument at once, as clearly and fully as I can, in a separate Essay.
9N THE TENDENCY OF SOME LATE PHILOLOGICAL SPECULATIONS.
Is carrying back our thoughts to the infancy of a cultivated language, a difficulty occurs, which, however obviously it may seem to present itself, I do not recollect to have seen taken notice of by any writer on the Human Mind; and which, as it leads the attention to various questions closely connected with the main design of this volume, as well as with the particular discussion which has been last under our review, I shall point out and illustrate at some length. In the case of objects which fall under the cognizance of any of our external senses, it is easy to conceive the origin of the different classes of words composing a conventional dialect; to conceive, for example, that two savages should agree to call this animal a Horse, and that tree an Oak. But, in words relating to things intellectual and moral, in what manner was the conventional connection at first established between the sign and the thing signified ? In what manner (to take one of the simplest instances) was it settled, that the name of imagination. should be given to one operation of the mind; that of recollection to a second; that of deliberation to a third ; that of sagacity, or foresight, to a fourth 2 Or, supposing the use of these words to be once introduced, how was their meaning to be explained to a novice, altogether unaccustomed to think upon such subjects 2 1. In answer to this question, it is to be observed, in the first place, that the meaning of many words, of which it is impossible to exhibit any sensible prototypes, is gradually collected by a species of induction, which is more or less successfully conducted by different individuals, according to the degree of their attention and judgment. The connection in which an unknown term stands in relation to the other words combined with it in the same sentence, often affords a key for its explanation in that particular instance; and in proportion as such instances are multiplied in the writings and conversation of men well acquainted with propriety of speech, the means are afforded of a progressive approximation towards its precise import. A familiar illustration of this process presents itself in the expedient which a reader naturally employs for decyphering the meaning of an unknown word in a foreign language, when he happens not to have a dictionary at hand. The first sentence where the word occurs affords, it is probable, sufficient foundation for a vague conjecture concerning the notion annexed to it by the
stituted in its place, in order to make the passage at all intelligible. The next sentence where it is involved renders this conjecture a little more definite; a third sentence contracts the field of doubt within still narrower limits; till, at length, a more extensive induction fixes completely the signification we are in quest of. There cannot be a doubt, I apprehend, that it is in some such way as this, that children slowly and imperceptibly enter into the abstract and complex notions annexed to numberless words in their mother tongue, of which we should find it difficult or impossible to convey the sense by formal definitions. * 2. The strong tendency of the mind to express itself metaphorically, or analogically, on all abstract subjects, supplies another help to facilitate the acquisition of language. The prevalence of this tendency among rude nations has been often remarked; and has been commonly accounted for, partly from the warmth of imagination supposed to be peculiarly characteristical of savages, and partly from the imperfections of their scanty vocabularies. The truth, however, is, that the same disposition is exhibited by man in every stage of his progress; prompting him uniformly, whenever the enlargement of his knowledge requires the use of a new word for the communication of his meaning, instead of coining at
* Hence the logical utility of metaphysical pursuits in training the mind to these inductive processes, so essentially connected with precision in the use of language, and, of consequence, with accuracy of reasoning, in all the various employments of the intellectual powers.