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to which they are subjoined; and may perhaps be read with some interest by readers who have little relish for scholastic controversy. The choice, however, even of these, was not altogether arbitrary; as, I trust, will appear evident to such as may honour the whole series with an attentive perusal.
Of the speculations with respect to the origin of our ideas, the greater part were committed to writing, for the first time, during the course of the last summer and winter; the materials of some of them being supplied by very imperfect hints, noted down at different periods of my life. The business of composition was begun at a time when I had recourse to it occasionally as a refuge from other thoughts; and has been carried on under circumstances which, I doubt not, will incline those to whom they are known to judge of the execution with some degree of indulgence.
ON LOCKE's Account of THE sources of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE DOCTRINES OF SOME OF HIS SUCCESSORS.
IN speculating concerning any of the intellectual phenomena, it is of essential importance constantly to recollect, that, as our knowledge of the Material World is derived entirely from our external senses, so all our knowledge of the Human Mind is derived from consciousness. As to the blind or the deaf, no words can convey the notions of particular colours, or of particular sounds; so to a being who had never been conscious of sensation, memory, imagination, pleasure, pain, hope, fear, love, hatred, no intelligible description could be given of the import of these terms. They all express simple ideas or notions, which are perfectly familiar to every person who is able to turn his thoughts inwards, and which we never fail to involve in obscurity when we attempt to define them. *
The habits of inattention which all men contract, in their early years, to the operations of their own minds, have been pointed out, by various writers, as the most powerful of all obstacles to the progress of our inquiries concerning the theory of human nature, These habits, it has also been remarked, are to be conquered only by the most persevering industry in accustoming the thoughts to turn themselves at pleasure to the phenomena of this internal world; an ef. fort by no means easy to any individual, and, to a large proportion of mankind, almost impracticable. “Magni est ingenii,” says Cicero, “revocare men“tem a sensibus, et cogitationem a consuetudine ab“ ducere.”—The observation, as thus expressed, is perhaps somewhat exceptionable; inasmuch as the power which Cicero describes has but little connection with Genius, in the ordinary acceptation of that word;—but it cannot be denied, that it implies a capacity of patient and abstracted meditation, which does not fall to the lot of many.
To this power of directing the attention steadily and accurately to the phenomena of thought, Mr Locke and his followers have very properly given the name of Reflection. It bears precisely the same relation to Consciousness which Observation does to Perception ; the former supplying us with the facts which form the only solid basis of the science of Mind, as we are indebted to the latter for the groundwork of the whole fabric of Natural Philosophy.” With respect to the exercise of reflection, the following precept of an old-fashioned writer is so judicious, and the caution it suggests of so great moment in the inquiries on which we are about to enter, that I shall make no apology for introducing it here, although not more immediately connected with the subject of the present Essay, than with those of all the others contained in this volume.
* See Note (B.)
* The French language affords no single word to express con. sciousness, but conscience; a word which is also frequently employed as synonymous with the moral sense. Thus it is equally agreeable to the usage of the most correct writers to say, l'homme a la conscience de sa liberté; and to speak of un homme de conscience, in the English acceptation of that phrase. Hence an occasional indistinctness in the reasonings of some of the best French metaphysicians.
[When the foregoing paragraph was printed in the first edition of this work, I was not aware that this defect in the French metaphysical phraseology had been previously remarked by my learned and ingenious friend M. Prevost. His words are these: “Consciousness est un mot Anglois, auquel j'avoue que je ne “ trouve point d'equivalent dans notre langue. C'est la faculté “de connoitre ce qui se passe dans notre esprit. Je l'ai remplacé “tantôt par le mot sentiment, ou sentiment intime, tantôt par le “mot conscience, ou conscience psychologique, selon les détermi“nations accessoires qui pouvoient servir à prévenir toute equi“voque."—Elémens de la Philosophie de l’Esprit Humain, Traduit de l’Anglois. Préface du Traducteur, p. xix. A Genève, 1808.] Note to the Second Edition.