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influence, which the will pofsefses over the members of the body; and to those powers of perception, which seem to inform us, by a sort of inspiration, of the various changes which take place in the external universe. Of those who receive the advantages of a liberal education, there are perhaps few, who pafs the period of childhood, without feeling their curiofity excited by this incomprehensible communication between mind and matter. For my own part, at least, I cannot recollect the date of my earliest speculations on the subject. · It is to the phenomena of perception alone, that I am to confine myself in the following essay; and even with respect to these, all that I proposé, is to offer a few general remarks on such of the common mistakes concerning them, as may be most likely to Inillead us in our future inquiries. Such of my readers as wish to consider them more in detail, will find ample satisfaction in the writings of Dr. Reid.

In considering the phenomena of perception, it is natural to suppose, that the attention of philosophers would be directed, in the first instance, to the sense of seeing. The variety of information and of enjoyment we receive by it; the rapidity with which this information and enjoyment are conveyed to us; and above all, the intercourse it enables us to maintain with the more diftant part of the universe, cannot fail to give it, even in the apprehension of the most careless observer, a pre-eminence over all our other perceptive faculties. Hence it is, that the various theories, which have been formed to explain the operations of our senses, have a more immediate reference to that of seeing; and that the greater part of the metaphysical language, concerning perception in general, appears evidently, from its etymology, to have been suggested by the phenomena of vision. Even when applied to this sense, indeed, it can at moft amuse the fancy, without conveying any pre



cise knowledge ; but, when applied to the other senfes, it is altogether absurd and unintelligible.

It would be tedious and uteless, to consider particularly, the different hypothesis which have been advanced upon this subject. To all of them, I apprehend, the two following remarks will be found applicable: First, that, in the formation of them, their authors have been influenced by some general maxims of philosophising, borrowed from physics ; and, secondly, that they have been influenced by an indistinct, but deep-rooted, conviction, of the immateriality of the foul; which, although not precise enough to point out to them the absurdity of attempting to illustrate its operations by the analogy of matter, was yet sufficiently strong, to induce them to keep the absurdity of their theories as far as pofsible out of view, by allusions to those physical facts, in which the distinctive properties of matter are the least grossly and palpably exposed to our observation. To the former of these circumstances, is to be ascribed, the general principle, upon which all the known theories of perception proceed; that, in order to explain the intercourse between the mind and distant objects, it is necessary to suppose the existence of something intermediate, by which its perceptions are produced ; to the latter, the various metaphorical expressions of ideas, species, forms, shadows, phantafins, images ; which, while they amused the fancy with some remote analogies to the objects of our senfes, did not directly revolt our reason, by presenting to us any of the tangible qualities of body.

“ It was the doctrine of Aristotle, (says Dr. Reid) " that, as our senses connot receive external materi. “ al objects themselves, they receive their species ; " that is, their images or forms, without the mat. “ ter ; as wax receives the form of the feal, “ without any of the matter of it. These images “ or forms, impressed upon the senses, are called sen

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fible species ; and are the objects only of the fenfi. " tive part of the mind: but by various, internal

powers, they are retained, refined, and spirituali“ zed, so as to become objects of meinory and ima- . “ gination ; and at last, of pure intellection. When " they are objects of memory and imagination, they

get the name of phantasms. When, by farther re« finement, and being stripped of their particulari. s ties, they become objects of science, they are cal“ led intelligible species : fo that every immediate ob. ject, whether of sense, of memory, of imagination,

of reasoning, must be some phantafm, or spe. “ cies, in the mind itself.

“ The followers of Aristotle, especially the school. “ men, made great additions to this theory; which " the author himself mentions very briefly, and with " an appearance of reserve. They entered into large “ disquisitions with regard to the sensible species, “ what kind of things they are; how they are sent « forth by the object, and enter by the organs of the “ fenfes; how they are preserved, and refined by va^ rious agents, called internal senses, concerning the “ number and offices of which they had many con“ troversies."*

The Platonists, too, although they denied the great doctrine of the Peripatetics, that all the objects of human understanding enter at first by the senses ; and inaintained, that there exist eternal and immu. table ideas, which were prior to the objects of sense, and about which all science was employed; yet appear to have agreed with them in their notions concerning the mode in which external objects are perceived. This, Dr. Reid infers, partly from the fie lence of Aristotle about any difference between himself and his master upon this point; and partly from a passage in the seventh book of Plato's Republic; in which he compares the process of the mind in per* Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, p. 25.



ception, to that of a personi in a cave, who sees not external objects themselves, but only their shadows.**

“ Two thousand years after Plato, (continues Dr. “ Reid,) Mr. Locke, who studied the operations of “ the human mind so much, and with fo great suc“ cess, reprefents our manner of perceiving external “ objects, by a similitude very much resembling that “ of a cave:-“ Methinks,” says he," the under

ftanding is not much unlike a closet, wholly shut “ from light, with only fome little opening left, to “ let in external visible resemblances or ideas of " things without. Would the pictures coming into “ such a dark room but stay there, and lie so orderly “ as to be found upon occasion, it would very much

resemble the understanding of a man, in reference " to all objects of sight, and the ideas of them.”+

“ Plato's fubterranean cave, and Mr Locke's dark

closet, may be applied with ease to all the systems 6 of perception, that have been invented: for they “ all fuppofe, that we perceive not external objects

immediately; and that the immediate objects of “ perception, are only certain shadows of the exter“ nal objects. Those shadows, or images, which we “ immediately perceive, were by the ancients called * Species, forms, phantasms. Since the time of Des “ Cartes, they have commonly been called ideas ; I “ and by Mr. Hume, impressions. But all the philof.

ophers, from Plato to Mr. Hume, agree in this, " that we do not perceive external objects immedi“ately; and that the immediate object of percep“ tion must be some image present to the mind." On the whole, Dr. Reid remarks, “ that in their • sentiments concerning perception, there appears “ an uniformity, which rarely occurs upon subjects # of so abstruse a nature.”S

* Ibid. p. 99. # Locke on Human Understanding, book ii. chap. 11. $ 17. See Note[B.]

§ Reid, p. 116, 117.



The very short and imperfect review we have now taken, of the common theories of perception, is almost sufficient, without any commentary, to establish the truth of the two general observations formerly made; for they all evidently proceed on a supposition, suggested by the phenomena of physics, that there must of necessity exist fome medium of communication between the objects of perception and the percipient mind; and they all indicate a fecret conviction in their authors, of the effential diftinction between mind and matter; which, although not rendered, by reflection, sufficiently precise and satisfactory, to thew them the absurdity of attempting to explain the mode of their communication ; had yet such a degree of influence on their speculations, as to induce them to exhibit their supposed medium under as mysterious and ambiguous a form as possible, in order that it might remain doubtful, to which of the two predicaments, of body or mind, they meant that it should be referred. By refining away the groffer qualities of matter; and by allufions to fome of the most aerial and magical appearances it assumes, they endeavored, as it were, to fpir. itualize the nature of their medium ; while, at the same time, all their language concerning it, implied such a reference to matter, as was necessary for furnishing a plausible foundation, for applying to it the received maxims of natural philosophy.

Another observation, too, which was formerly hinted at, is confirmed by the same historical review ; that, in the order of inquiry, the phenome. na of vision had first engaged the attention of philofophers; and had suggested to them the greater part of their language, with respect to perception in general; and that in consequence of this circumstance, the common modes of expression on the subject, unphilofophical and fancifui ac beft, even when applied to the sense of seeing,are,in the case of all the other

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