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PRELIMINARY DISSERTATION.

CHAPTER FIRST.

THe chief aim of the following Dissertation is, to correct some prevailing mistakes with respect to the Philosophy of the Human Mind. In the introduction to a former work, I have enlarged, at considerable length, upon the same subject; but various publications which have since appeared, incline me to think, that, in resuming it here, I undertake a task not altogether superfluous. Of the remarks which I am now to state, a few have a particular reference to the contents of this volume. Others are intended to clear the way for a different series of discussions, which I hope to be able, at some future period, to present to the public. I. In the course of those speculations on the Mind, to which I have already referred, and with which, I trust, that my present readers are not altogether unacquainted, I have repeatedly had occasion to observe, that “as our notions both of Matter and A

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of Mind are merely relative ;-as we know the one only by such sensible qualities as extension, figure, and solidity, and the other by such operations as sensation, thought, and volition ; we are certainly entitled to say, that Matter and Mind, considered as Objects of Human Study, are essentially different ; the science of the former resting ultimately on phenomena exhibited to our senses, that of the latter on phenomena of which we are conscious. Instead, therefore, of objecting to the scheme of Materialism, that its conclusions are false, it would be more accurate to say, that its aim is unphilosophical. It proceeds on a misapprehension of the extent and the limits of genuine science; the difficulty which it professes to remove being manifestly placed beyond the reach of our faculties. Surely, when we attempt to explain the nature of that principle, which feels, and thinks, and wills, by saying, that it is a material substance, or that it is the result of material organization, we impose on ourselves by words; forgetting that Matter, as well as Mind, is known to us by its qualities alone, and that we are equally ignorant of the essence of either.”

In the farther prosecution of the same argument,

I have attempted to shew, that the legitimate province of this department of philosophy extends no farther than to conclusions resting on the solid basis of observation and experiment; and I have, accordingly, in my own inquiries, aimed at nothing more, than to ascertain, in the first place, the Laws of our Constitution, as far as they can be discovered by attention to the subjects of our consciousness; and afterwards to apply these laws as principles for the synthetical explanation of the more complicated phenomena of the understanding. It is on this plan that I have treated of the Association of Ideas, of Memory, of Imagination, and of various other intellectual powers; imitating, as far as I was able, in my reasonings, the example of those who are allowed to have cultivated the study of Natural Philosophy with the greatest success. The Physiological Theories which profess to explain how our different mental operations are produced by means of vibrations, and other changes in the state of the sensorium, if they be not altogether hypothetical and visionary, cannot be considered, even by their warmest advocates, as resting on the same evidence with those conclusions which are open to the examination of all men capable of exercising the power of Reflection; and, therefore, scientific distinctness requires, that these two different classes of propositions should not be confounded together under one common name. For my own part, I have no scruple to say, that I consider the physiological problem in question, as one of those which are likely to remain for ever among the arcana of nature; nor am I afraid of being contradicted by any competent and candid judge, how sanguine soever may be his hopes concerning the progress of future discovery, when I assert, that hitherto it has completely eluded all the efforts which have been made towards its solution. As to the metaphysical romances above alluded to, they appear to me, after all the support and illustra

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