Page images


Terms Defined or Explained.

VERY thing we perceive or are con. scious of, whether a being or a quality, a passion or an action, is with respect to the percipient termed an objcct. Some objects appear to be internal, or within the mind ; paffion, for example, thinking, volition : Some external ; such as every object of fight, of hearing, of smell, of touch, of taste.

2. That act of the mind which makes known to me an external object, is termed perception. That act of the mind which makes known to me an internal object, is termed consciousness. The power or faculty from which consciousness proceeds, is termed an internal sense. The power or faculty from which perception proceeds, is termed an external sense. This distinction refers to the objects of our knowl. edge ; for the senses, whether external or internal, are all of them powers or faculties of the mind.*

3. But as self is an object that cannot be termed either external or internal, the faculty by which I

have * I have complied with all who have gone before me in describing the fenfes internal and external to be powers or faculties; and yet, after much atention, I have not discovered any thing active in their operations to entitle tiem to that character. The following chain of thought has led me to helitate. Ore being operates on another; the first is active, the other pallive. If the first act, it must have a power to act : if an effect be produced on tie other, it must have a capacity to have that effeat produced upon it. Fire mel's wax, crgo fis- has a power to pro. duce that effcet; and wax must be capable to have that elfect produced init. Now as to die fe: Ses. A tiee in flourish makes an imprellien on me, and by that mcan I see the tree. But in this cperation I do now fud tha: the mind is aci ve: lecing: he tree is only an chleci produced on it by interv.rtion of we rars of iht. What seems to have led us into an erris is the worsteing, hicli, under the form of an active verb, has a ; affive figuifichon. I feel is a fimilar example ; for to feel is a taily rounach, bue the ti ti of being alied upo" : the feeling pleathe is the eff: & procudir an rind when a beautiful object is presented. P.COpakn accorints is not an action, but an cat prea cuand in ce mi d. Softin is an her clica ; it is the p'e fure fied upon perceiving what is agreeable.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

have knowledge of myself, is a sense that cannot properly be termed either internal or external.

4. By the eye we perceive figure, colour, motion, &c. by the ear we perceive the different qualities of sound, high, low, loud, soft : by touch we perceive rough, smooth, hot, cold, &c. by taste we perceive sweet, four, bitter, &c. by smell we perceive fragrant, fetid, &c. These qualities partake the common nature of all qualities, that they are not capable of an independent existence, but must belong to some being of which they are properties or aitributes. A being with respect to its properties or attributes is termed a subject or fullfratrum. Every fubftratum of visible qualities, is termed fubfiance ; and of tangible quali, ties, body.

5. Substance and found are perceived as existing at a distance from the organ ; often at a considerable distance. But smell, touch, and taste, are perceived as existing at the organ of sense.

6. The objects of external sense are various. Substances are perceived by the eye ; bodies by the touch. Sounds, tastes, and smells, pasing commonly under the name of fecondary qualities, require more explanation than there is room for here. All the objccts of internal sense are attributes : witness deliberation, reasoning, resolution, willing, consenting, which are internal actions. Passions and emotions, which are internal agitations, are also attributes. With regard to the former, I am conscious of being active ; with regard to the latter, I am conscious of being pailive.

7. Again, we are conscious of internal action as in the head ; of putions and emotions as in the heart.

9. Many actions may be exerted internally, and many Leus produced, of which we are urcontcious : when we inveRigate the ultimate cause of the mo.

tion of the blood, and of other internal motions

upon which life depends, it is the most probable opinion that some internal power is the cause ; and if so, we are unconscious of the operations of that power. But consciousness being implied in the very meaning of deliberating, reasoning, resolving, willing, consenting, such operations cannot escape our knowledge. The same is the case of passions and emotions ; for no internal agitation is denominated a passion or emotion, but what we are conscious of.

9. The mind is not always the same : by turns it is cheerful, melancholy, calm, peevish, &c. There differences may not improperly be denominated tones.

10. Perception and sensation are commonly reckoned synonimous terms, fignifying that internal act by which external objects are made known to us. But they ought to be distinguished. Perceiving is a general term for hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling ; and therefore perception signifies every internal act by which we are made acquainted with external objects : thus we are said to perceive a certain animal, a certain colour, sound, taste, smell, &c. Sensation properly signifies that internal act by which we are made conscious of pleasure or pain felt at the organ of fenfe : thus we have a sensation of the pleafure arising from warmth, from a fragrant finell, from a fiveet taste ; and of the pain arising from a wound, from a fetid finell, from a disagreeable taste. In perception, my attention is directed to the external obz ject : in sensation, it is directed to the pleasure or pain I feel.

The terms perception and sensation are sometimes employed to signify the objects of perception and lensation. Perception in that sense is a general term for every external thing we perceive ; and sensation a general term for every pleasure and pain felt at the

organ of fenfc.

11. Conception

[ocr errors]

11. Conception is different from perception. The latter includes a conviction of the reality of its object : the former does not; for I can conceive the most extravagant stories told in a romance, without having any conviction of their reality. Conception differs also from imagination. By the power of fancy I can iinagine a golden mountain, or an ebony ship with fails and ropes of silk. When I dcfcribe a picture of that kind to another, the idea he forms of it •is termed a conception. Imagination is active, conception is passive.

12. Feeling, beside denoting one of the external senses, is a general term, fignifying that internal act by which we are made conscious of our pleasures and our pains ; for it is not limited, as sensation is, to any one fort. Thus, feeling being the genus of which sensation is a species, their meaning is the same when applied to pleasure and pain felt at the organ of sense : and accordingly we say indifferently, * I feel pleasure from heat, and pain from cold,” or, " I have a sensation of pleasure from heat, and of pain from cold.” But the meaning of feeling, as is said, is much more extensive : It is proper to say, I feel pleasure in a sumptuous building in love, in friendship; and pain in losing a child, in revenge, in envy: sensation is not properly applied to any of these.

The term fecling is frequentiy used in a less proper fenfe, to signify what we feel or are conscious of: and in that sense it is a general term for all our pasfions and emotions, and for all our other pleasures and pains.

13. That we cannot perceive an external object till an impression is made upon our body, is probable from reason, and is ascertained by experience. But it is not necessary that we be made sensible of the impression : in touching, in tasting, and in smelling, we


are sensible of the impression ; but not in seeing and hearing. We know indeed from experiments, that before we perceive a visible object, its image is spread upon the retina tunica ; and that, before we perceive a sound, an impression is made upon the drum of the car : but we are not conscious either of the organic image or of the organic impression ; nor are we conscious of any other operation preparatory to the act of perception : all we can say, is, that we see that river, or hear that trumpet.*

14. Objects once perceived may be recalled to the mind by the power of memory. When I recal an object of sight in that inanner, it appears to me precisely the same as in the original survey, only less distinct. For example, having seen yesterday a spreading oak growing on the brink of a river, I'endeavour to recal these objects to my mind. How is this operation performed? Do I endeavour to form in my mind a piąure of them or representative image ? Not so. "I transport myself ideally to the place where I saw the tree and river yesterday ; upon which I have a perception of these objects, similar in all rea spects to the perception I had when I viewed them with my eyes, only lefs distinct. And in this recollection, I am not conscious of a picture or representative image, more than in the original survey: the perception is of the tree and river themselves, as at first. I confirm this by another experiment. After attentively surveying a fine statue, I close my eyes. What follows? The same object continues, without any

difference * Yet a fingular opinion that impressions are the only obje&ts of percoption, ha, been c{prused by fome philosophers of no mean rank ; not attending to the foregoing peculiarity in the senfes of seeing and hearing, that we perceive objects without being conscious of an organic impreslicn, or of any imprefli in. See the Treatife upon Human Nature : where we find the following passage, book 1. p.4. fcet. 2. " Properly speaking, is is not our body we perceive when we regard our limbs and members ; fu that the afcribing a real and corporeal existence to these impresficos, or to their objects, is an a&t of the mind as difficult to cxplain, &c.''

« PreviousContinue »