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which I propose to take, of the human mind in the fol. lowing work, as the reveries of Berkeley concerning the non-existence of the material world, are from the conclusions of Newton, and his followers.--It is farther evident, that the metaphysical opinions, which we may happen to have formed concerning the nature either of body or of mind, and the efficient causes by which their phenomena are produced, have no necessary connection with our inquiries concerning the laws, according to which these phenomena take place.—Whether (for example) the cause of gravitation be material or immaterial, is a point about which two Newtonians may differ, while they agree perfectly in their physical opinions. It is sufficient, if both admit the general fact, that bodies tend to approach each other, with a force varying with their mutual distance, according to a certain law. In like manner in the study of the human mind, the conclusions to which we are led, by a careful examination of the phenomena it exhibits, have no necessary connection with our opinions concerning its nature and essence.—That when two subjects of thought, for instance, have been repeatedly presented to the mind in conjunction, the one has a tendency to suggest the other, is a fact of which I can no more doubt, than of any thing for which I have the evidence of my senses; and it is plainly a fact totally unconnected with any hypothesis concerning the nature of the soul, and which will be as readily admitted by the materialist as by the Berkeleian.
Notwithstanding, however, the reality and importance of this distinction, it has not hitherto been sufficiently attended to, by the philosophers who have treated of the human mind. Dr. Reid is perhaps the only one who has perceived it clearly, or at least who has kept it steadily in view, in all his inquiries. In the writings, indeed, of several other modern metaphysicians, we meet with a variety
of important and well ascertained facts ; but, in general, these facts are blended with speculations upon subjects which are placed beyond the reach of the human faculties. —It is this mixture of fact and of hypothesis, which has brought the philosophy of mind into some degree of discredit ; nor will ever its real value be generally acknowledged, till the distinction, I have endeavoured to illustrate, be understood, and attended to, by those who speculate on the subject. By confining their attention to the sensible qualities of body, and to the sensible phenomena it exhibits, we know what discoveries natural philosophers have made : and if the labours of Metaphysicians shall ever be rewarded with similar success, it can only be, by attentive and patient reflection, on the subjects of their own consciousness. I cannot help taking this opportunity of remarking, on the other hand, that if physical inquirers should think of again employing themselves in speculations about the nature of matter, instead of attempting to ascertain its sensible properties and laws, (and of late there seems to be such a tendency among some of the followers of Boscovich,) they will soon involve themselves in an inextricable labyrinth, and the first principles of physics will be rendered as mysterious and chimerical, as the pneumatology of the schoolmen. The little progress which has hitherto been made in the philosophy of mind, will not appear surprising to those who have attended to the history of natural knowledge. It is only since the time of Lord Bacon, that the study of it has been prosecuted with any degree of success, or that the proper method of conducting it has been generally understood. There is even some reason for doubting, from the crude speculations on medical and chemical subjects which are daily offered to the public, whether it he yet understood so completely as is commonly imagined ; and whether a fuller illustration of the rules of philosophi. zing, than Bacon or his followers have given, might not be useful, even to physical inquirers. When we reflect, in this manner, on the shortness of the period during which natural philosophy has been successfully cultivated ; and, at the same time, consider how open to our examination the laws of matter are, in comparison of those which regulate the phenomena of thought, we shall neither be disposed to wonder, that the philosophy of mind should still remain in its infancy, nor be discouraged in our hopes concerning its future progress. The excellent models of this species of investigation, which the writings of Dr. Reid exhibit, give us ground to expect that the time is not far distant, when it shall assume that rank which it is entitled to hold among the sciences. It would probably contribute much to accelerate the progress of the philosophy of mind, if a distinct explanation were given of its nature and object ; and if some general rules were laid down, with respect to the proper method of conducting the study of it. To this subject, however, which is of sufficient extent to furnish matter for a separate work, I cannot attempt to do justice at present; and shall therefore confine myself to the illustration of a few fundamental principles, which it will be of essential importance for us to keep in view in the following inquiries. Upon a slight attention to the operations of our own minds, they appear to be so complicated, and so infinitely diversified, that it seems to be impossible to reduce them to any general laws. In consequence, however, of a more accurate examination, the prospect clears up ; and the phenomena, which appeared, at first, to be too various for our comprehension, are found to be the result of a com
paratively small number of simple and uncompounded faculties, or of simple and uncompounded principles of action. These faculties and principles are the general laws of our constitution, and hold the same place in the philosophy of mind, that the general laws we investigate in physics, hold in that branch of science. In both cases, the laws which nature has established, are to be investigated only by an examination of facts; and in both cases, a knowledge of these laws leads to an explanation of an infinite number of phenomena. In the investigation of physical laws, it is well known, that our inquiries must always terminate in some general fact, of which no account can be given, but that such is the constitution of nature. After we have established, for example, from the astronomical phenomena, the universality of the law of gravitation, it may still be asked, whether this law implies the constant agency of mind; and (upon the supposition that it does) whether it be probable that the Deity always operates immediately, or by means of subordinate instruments' But these questions, however curious, do not fall under the province of the natural philosopher. It is sufficient for his purpose, if the universality of the fact be admitted. The case is exactly the same in the philosophy of mind. When we have once ascertained a general fact ; such as, the various laws which regulate the association of ideas, or the dependence of memory on that effort of the mind which we call Attention ; it is all we ought to aim at, in this branch of science. If we proceed no farther than facts for which we have the evidence of our own consciousness, our conclusions will be no less certain, than those in physics : but if our curiosity leads us to attempt an explanation of the association of ideas, by certain supposed vibrations, or other changes, in the state of the brain ; ot VO L. I. 2
to explain memory, by means of supposed impressions and traces in the sensorium ; we evidently blend a collection of important and well ascertained truths, with principles which rest wholly on conjecture.* The observations which have been now stated, with respect to the proper limits of philosophical curiosity, have too frequently escaped the attention of speculative men, in all the different departments of science. In none of
* There is indeed one view of the connection between Mind and Matter, which is perfectly agreeable to the just rules of philosophy. The object of this is, to ascertain the laws which regulate their union, without attempting to explain in what manner they are united. - * Lord Bacon was, I believe, the first who gave a distinct idea of this sort of speculation; and I do not know that much progress has yet been made in it. In his books de Augmentis Scientiarum, a variety of subjects are enumerated, in order to illustrate its nature; and, undoubtedly, most of these are in a high degree curious and important. The following list comprehends the chief of those he has mentioned; with the addition of several others, recommended to the consideration of Philosophers and of Medical Inquirers, by the late Dr. Gregory. See his Lectures on the Duties and Qualifications of a Physician. 1. The doctrine of the preservation and improvement of the different senses. 2. The history of the power and influence of imagination. 3. The history of the several species of enthusiasm. 4. The history of the various circumstances in parents, that have an influence on conception, and on the constitution and characters of their children. 5. The history of dreams. 6. The history of the laws of custom and habit. 7. The history of the effects of music, and of such other things as operate on the mind and body, in consequence of impressions made on the senses. f * 8. The history of natural signs and language, comprehending the doctrine of physiognomy and of outward gesture. 9. The history of the power and laws of the principle of imitation. To this list various other subjects might be added; particularly, the history of the laws of memory, in so far as they appear to be connected with the state of the body; and the history of the different species of madness. This view of the connection between Mind and Matter does not fall properly under the plan of the following work; in which my leading object is to ascertain the principles of our nature, in so far as they can be discovered by attention to the subjects of our own consciousness; and to apply these principles to explain the Phenomena arising from them. Various incidental remarks, however, will occur in the course of our inquiries, tending to illustrate some of the subjects comprehended in the foregoing enumeration.