« AnteriorContinuar »
E L EM ENTS
THE HUMAN MIND.
IN TWO PARTS.
PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY, AND FELLOW OF THE ROYAL
PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY HELD AT PHILADELPHIA,
PHILADELPHIA : GRIGG AND ELLIOT.
AFTER an interval of more than twenty years," I venture to present to the public a Second Volume on the Philosophy of the Human Mind.
When the preceding Part was sent to the press, I expected that a few short chapters would comprehend all that I had further to offer concerning the Intellectual Powers; and that I should be able to employ the greater part of this Volume in examining those principles of our constitution, which are immediately connected with the Theory of Morals. On proceeding, however, to attempt an analysis of Reason, in the more strict acceptation of that term, I found so many doubts crowding on me with respect to the logical doctrines then generally received, that I was forced to abandon the comparatively limited plan according to which I had originally intended to treat of the Understanding, and, in the mean time, to suspend the continuation of my work, till a more unbroken leisure should allow me to resume it with a less divided attention.
Of the accidents which have since occurred to retard my progress, it is unnecessary to take any notice here. I allude to them, merely as an apology for those defects of method, which are the natural, and perhaps the unavoidable consequences of the frequent interruptions by which the train of my thoughts has been diverted to other pursuits. Such of my readers as are able to judge how very large a proportion of my materials have been the fruit of my own meditations; and who are aware of the fugitive nature of our reasonings concerning phenomena so far removed from the perceptions of sense, will easily conceive the difficulty I must occasionally have experienced, in deciphering the short and slight hints on these topics, which I had committed to writing at remote periods of my life ; and still more, in recovering the thread which bad at first connected them together in the order of my researches.
I have repeatedly had occasion to regret the tendency of this intermitted and irregular mode of composition, to deprive my spe
The first part of “ The Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind," was published in 1792, the Second in 1814.
culations of those advantages, in point of continuity, which, to the utmost of my power, I have endeavored to give them. But I would willingly indulge the hope, that this is a blemish more likely to meet the eye of the author than of the reader; and I am confident, that the critic who shall honor me with a sufficient degree of attention, to detect it where it may occur, will not be inclined to treat it with an undue severity.
The circumstances which have so long delayed the publication of these volumes on the Intellectual Powers, have not operated, in an equal degree, to prevent the prosecution of my inquiries into those principles of Human Nature, to which my attention was, for many years, statedly and forcibly called by my official duty. Much, indeed, still remains to be done in maturing, digesting, and arranging many of the doctrines which I was accustomed to introduce into my lectures; but if I shall be blessed, for a few years longer, with a moderate share of health and of mental vigor, I do not altogether despair of yet contributing something, in the form of Essays, to fill up the outline which the sanguine imagination of youth encouraged me to conceive, before I had duly measured the magnitude of my undertaking with the time or with the abilities which I could devote to the execution.
The volume which I now publish is more particularly intended for the use of academical students; and is offered to them as a guide or assistant, at that important stage of their progress when, the usual course of discipline being completed, an inquisitive mind is naturally led to review its past attainments, and to form plans for its future improvement. In the prosecution of this design, I have not aimed at the establishment of new theories ; far less have I aspired to the invention of any new organ for the discovery of truth. My principal object is to aid my readers in unlearning the scholastic errors which, in a greater or less degree, still maintain their ground in our most celebrated seats of learning; and by subjecting to free, but I trust, not skeptical discussion, the more enlightened though discordant systems of modern logicians, to accustom the understanding to the unfettered exercise of its native capacities. That several of the views opened in the following pages appear to myself original, and of some importance, I will not deny; but the reception these may meet with, I shall regard as a matter of comparative indifference, if my labors be found useful in training the mind to those habits of reflection on its own operations, which may enable it to superadd to the instructions of the schools, that higher education which no schools can bestow.
KINNeil HOUSE, 220 November, 1813.