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As the word idea will frequently occur, and will be found also to hold an important relation to our present subject, we shall endeavour, in limine, to possess our readers of the particular sense in which we understand and apply it.
An Idea, then, according to our apprehension, is the highest or most perfect form in which any thing, whether of the physical, the intellectual, or the spiritual, may exist to the mind. By form, we do not mean figure or image (though these may be included in relation to the physical); but that condition, or state, in which such objects become cognizable to the mind, or, in other words, become objects of consciousness.
Ideas are of two kinds; which we shall distinguish by the terms primary and secondary: the first being the manifestation of objective realities; the second, that of the reflex product, so to speak, of the mental constitution. In both cases, they may be said to be self-affirmed, - that is, they carry in themselves their own evidence; being therefore not only independent of the reflective faculties, but constituting the only unchangeable ground of Truth, to which those faculties may ultimately refer. Yet have these Ideas no living energy in themselves; they are but the forms, as we have said, through or in which a higher Power manifests to the consciousness the su