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he had announced. He does not even announce it, as differing in any respect from the general laws of ma
Part IV. s. 196. This latter work was published in 1644. But neither in the Principia is the law of the contemporaneity of impressions stated. In another and posthumous work, however, Tractatus de Homine, Part V. s. 73, Des Cartes certainly does, in a short incidental paragraph, mention the fact and the ground of it :
Quinetiam notandum est, quod si tantum aliqua ejusmodi foramina recluderentur, ut A. et B., hoc unum in causa esse posset, ut etiam alia, puta C. et D. eodem tempore recludantur; præcipue si sæpius omnia simul reclusa fuissent, nec solita sint una sine aliis seorsum aperiri. Quod ostendit, quo pacto recordatio rei unius excitari possit per recordationem alterius, quæ aliquando una cum ea memoriæ impressa fuit. Ut si videam duos oculos cum naso, continuo frontem, et os, omnesque alias faciei partes imaginor, quia assuetus non sum unas sine aliis videre. Et cum video ignem, recordor colorem ejus, quem viso igne percepi aliquando.
That Hobbes was not the discoverer or first propounder of this law of association is, indeed, clear enough; but it does not appear that he was indebted to Des Cartes for his knowledge of it; and it must be admitted that he states the rule with distinctness.
"The cause of the coherence or consequence of one conception to another, is their first coherence or consequence at that time when they are produced by sense." H. N. c. iv. 2. See also Leviathan, Pt. I. c. iii.
Neither is it, perhaps, quite correct to say that Hobbes builds nothing on this law. He at least clearly saw its connection with speech.
"It is the nature almost of every corporal thing, being often moved in one and the same manner, to receive continually a greater and greater easiness and aptitude to the same motion, insomuch as in time the same becometh so habitual, that to beget it there needs no more than to begin it. The passions of man, as they are the beginning of voluntary motions, so are they the beginning of speech, which is the motion of the tongue. And men desiring to show others the knowledge, opinions, conceptions, and passions, which are in themselves, and to that end having invented language, have by that means transferred all that dis
terial motion and impact: nor was it, indeed, possible for him so to do, compatibly with his system, which was exclusively material and mechanical. Far otherwise is it with Des Cartes; greatly as he too in his after writings (and still more egregiously his followers De la Forge, and others) obscured the truth by their attempts to explain it on the theory of nervous fluids, and material configurations. But, in his interesting work, De Methodo, Des Cartes relates the circumstance which first led him to meditate on this subject, and which since then has been often noticed and employed as an instance and illustration of the law. A child who with its eyes bandaged had lost several of his fingers by amputation, continued to complain for many days successively of pains, now in this joint and
cursion of their mind mentioned in the former chapter, by the motion of their tongues, into discourse of words: and ratio now is but oratio, for the most part, wherein custom hath so great a power, that the mind suggesteth only the first word; the rest follow habitually, and are not followed by the mind," &c. H. N. c. v. 14. Ed.]
[It may well be doubted whether Mr. Coleridge is not more indulgent here to Des Cartes than the truth of the case warrants. The Tractatus de Homine is, no doubt, a part of the great Work of which he gives an account in his De Methodo, as being then written; and in it the nervous fluids and material configurations are displayed as precisely, if not as copiously, as by his commentator De la Forge himself. The "animal spirits" move mind and body. See De Hom. P. IV. s. 55, &c. See even in the De Methodo itself. Denique id quod hic super omnia observari meretur, generatio est spirituum animalium, quæ aut instar venti subtilissimi, aut potius fiammæ purissimæ ; quæ continue e corde magna copia in cerebrum ascendens, inde per nervos in musculos penetrat, et omnibus membris motum dat, &c. P. 30. edit. 1664. See Spectator, No 417. And indeed their agency is distinctly recognized in the same part of the Principia, in which the story of the child is related. Ed.]
now in that, of the very fingers which had been cut off.5 Des Cartes was led by this incident to reflect on the uncertainty with which we attribute any particular place to any inward pain or uneasiness, and proceeded after long consideration to establish it as a general law; that contemporaneous impressions, whether images or sensations, recall each other mechanically. On this principle, as a ground work, he built up the whole system of human language, as one continued process of association. He showed in what sense not only general terms, but generic images,-under the name of abstract ideas,-actually existed, and in what consist their nature and power. As one word may become the general exponent of many, so by association a simple image may represent a whole class. But
5 This story is told by Des Cartes in these words as one of many proofs that animam, non quatenus est in singulis membris, sed tantum quatenus est in cerebro, ea quæ corpori occidunt in singulis membris, nervorum ope sentire.
Cum puellæ cuidam, manum gravi morbo affectum habenti, velarentur oculi, quoties chirurgus accedebat, ne curationis apparatu turbaretur, eique, post aliquot dies brachium ad cubitum usque, ob gangrenam in eo serpentem, fuisset amputatam, et panni in ejus locum ita substituti, ut eo se privatum esse plane ignoraret, ipsa interim varios dolores, nunc in uno ejus manus quæ abscissa erat digito, nunc in alio se sentire querebatur. Quod sane aliunde contingere non poterat, quam ex eo, quod nervi, qui prius ex cerebro ad manum descendebant, tuncque in brachio juxta cubitum terminabantur, eodem modo ibi moverentur, ac prius moveri debuissent in manu, ad sensum hujus vel illius, digiti dolentis animæ in cerebro residenti imprimendum. Princ. IV, 196. Ed.]
6 [The Editor has never been able to find in the writings of Des Cartes any thing coming up to the statement in the text. Certainly nothing of the sort follows the paragraph containing the story of the amputated hand. That Des Cartes was a Nomiualist is clear from the following passage :
in truth Hobbes himself makes no claims to any discovery, and introduces this law of association, or (in his own language) discursion of mind, as an admitted fact, in the solution alone of which, and this by causes purely physiological, he arrogates any originality. His system is briefly this; whenever the senses are impinged on by external objects, whether by the rays of light reflected from them, or by effluxes of their finer particles, there results a correspondent motion of the innermost and subtlest organs. This motion constitutes a representation, and there remains an impression of the same, or a certain disposition to repeat the same motion. Whenever we feel several objects at the same time, the impressions that are left, (or in the language of Mr. Hume, the ideas,) are linked together. Whenever therefore any one of the movements, which constitute a complex impression, is renewed through the senses, the others succeed mechanically. It follows of necessity, therefore, that Hobbes, as well as Hartley and all others who derive association from the connection and interdependence of the supposed matter, the movements of which constitute our thoughts, must have reduced all its forms to the one law of Time. But even the merit of announcing this law with philosophic
Et optime comprehendimus, qua pacto a varia magnitudine, figura et motu particularum unius corporis, varii motus locales in alio corpore excitentur; nullo autem modo possumus intelligere, quo pacto ab iisdem (magnitudine scilicet, figura, et motu,) aliquid aliud producatur, omnino diversæ ab ipsis naturæ, quales sunt ille forma substantiales et qualitates reales, quas in rebus esse multi supponunt; nec etiam quo pacto postea istæ qualitates aut forma vim habeant in aliis corporibus motus locales excitandi. Princip. IV. 198. Ed.]
Leviathan ubi supra.
7 [See Human Nature. C. ii. 111.
precision cannot be fairly conceded to him. For the objects of any two ideas need not have co-existed in
8 I here use the word idea in Mr. Hume's sense on account of its general currency amongst the English metaphysicians; though against my own judgment, for I believe that the vague use of this word has been the cause of much error and more
confusion. The word, ἰδέα, in its original sense as used by Pindar, Aristophanes, and in the Gospel of St. Matthew, represented the visual abstraction of a distant object, when we see the whole without distinguishing its parts.* Plato adopted it as a technical term, and as the antithesis to εἴδωλον, or sensuous image; the transient and perishable emblem, or mental word, of the idea. Ideas themselves he considered as mysterious powers, living, seminal, formative, and exempt from time.t In
οὐ γινώσκων, ὅτι τοῦ Πλούτου παρέχω βελτίονας ἄνδρας, καὶ τὴν γνώμην, καὶ τὴν ἰδέαν.-Αristoph. Plut. 558-9.
ἦν δὲ ἡ ἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ, καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡσεὶ χιών.---Matt. xxviii. 3. Ed.]
+ [See the Timæus. (Bekk. III. ii. 23.) ὅτου μὲν οὖν ἂν ὁ δημιουργὸς πρὸς τὸ κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἔχον βλέπων ἀεί, τοιούτῳ τινὶ προσχρώμενος παραδείγματι, τὴν ἰδέαν αὐτοῦ καὶ δύναμιν ἀπεργάζηται, καλὸν ἐξ ἀνάγκης οὕτως ἀποτελεῖσθαι πᾶν. But the word idea is used by Plato in several senses, modified according to the natures, divine or human, in which he represents the ideas as placed. See the fine moral passage in the Republic (vii. 3.)—ἐν τῷ γνωστῷ τελευταία ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα καὶ μόγις ὁρᾶσθαι, ὀφθεισα δὲ συλλογιστέα εἶναι ὡς ἄρα πᾶσι πάντων αὕτη ὀρθῶν τε καὶ καλῶν αἰτία, ἔν τε ὁρατῷ φῶς καὶ τὸν τούτου κύριον τεκοῦσα, ἔν τε νοητῷ αὐτὴ κυρία ἀλήθειαν καὶ νοῦν παρασχομένη, καὶ ὅτι δεῖ ταύτην ἰδεῖν τὸν μέλλοντα ἐμφρόνως πράξειν ἢ ἰδία ἢ δημοσίᾳ.
The notes appended by the enthusiastic Thomas Taylor to his translation of the Metaphysics of Aristotle are full of learned illustration upon this subject. Ed.]