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because waking I often observe the absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdities of my waking thoughts,-I am well satisfied, that being awake, I know I dream not; though when I dream, I think myself awake.”—Leviathan,
pp. 4, 5, 6.
The concluding paragraph of this Chapter is remarkable.
“ The imagination that is raised in man (or any other creature endued with the faculty of imagining) by words or other voluntary signs, is that we generally call Understanding : and is common to man and beast. For a dog by custom will understand the call or rating of his master, and so will many other beasts. That understanding which is peculiar to man, is the understanding not only his will, but his conceptions and thoughts, by the sequel and contexture of the names of things into affirmations, negations, and other forms of speech; and of this kind of understanding I shall speak hereafter.”—Page 8.
As in the two first chapters Mr Hobbes endeavours to show that all our thoughts, considered singly or in themselves, have their origin in sensation, so in the next chapter, he resolves all their combinations or connexions one with another into the principle of asso
ciation, or the coexistence of their sensible impressions.
“ By consequence or train of thoughts,” he says, “I understand that succession of one thought to another, which is called (to distinguish it from discourse in words) mental discourse.”
“ When a man thinketh on any thing whatsoever, his next thought after it is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently. But as we have no imagination, whereof we have not formerly had sense in whole or in parts; so we have no transition from one imagination to another, whereof we never had the like before in
The reason whereof is this. All fancies are motions within us, reliques of those made in sense: and those motions that succeeded one another in the sense, continue also together after sense: insomuch as the former coming again to take place, and be predominant, the latter followeth, by coherence of the matter moved, in such manner, as water upon a plane table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the finger. But because in 'gense to one and the same thing perceived, sometimes one thing, sometimes another succeedeth, it comes to pass in time, that in the imagining of
any thing, there is no certainty what we shall imagine next. Only this is certain, it shall be something that succeeded the same before, at one time or another.”—Page 9.
The comprehension and precision with which the law of association is here unfolded as the key to every movement of the mind, and as regulating every wandering thought, cannot be too much admired; it is enough to say that Hartley who certainly, understood more of the power of association than any other man, has added nothing to this short passage, as far as relates to the succession of ideas. He has indeed extended its application in unravelling the fine web of our affections and feelings, by showing how one idea transfers the feeling of pleasure or pain to others associated with it, which is not here noticed. Whether this principle really has all the extent and efficacy ascribed to it by either of these writers will be made the subject of a future inquiry. How well our author understood the question, and how much it had assumed a consistent and systematic form in his mind will appear from the instances he brings in illustration of this intricate and at the time almost unthought-of subject.
“ The train of thoughts or mental discourse is of two sorts. The first is unguided, without
design and inconstant; wherein there is no passionate thought to govern and direct those that follow to itself as the end and scope of some desire or other passion ; in which case the thoughts are said to wander and seem impertinent one to another as in a dream. Such are commonly the thoughts of men, that are not only without company, but also without care of any thing : though even then their thoughts are as busy as at other times, but without harmony, as the sound which a lute out of tune would yield to any man, or in tune to one that could not play. And yet in this wild ranging of the mind, a man may
ofttimes perceive the way and the dependence of one thought upon another. For in a discourse of our present civil war, what could seem more impertinent than to ask (as one did) what was the value of a Roman penny? Yet the coherence to me was manifest enough. For the thoughts of the war introduced the thought of the delivering up the king to his enemies; the thought of that brought in the thought of the delivering up of Christ; and that again the thought of the thirty pence, which was the price of that treason : and thence easily followed that malicious question ; and all this in a moment of time; for thought is quick.
“ The second" (that is the second sort of
association] “is more constant, as being regulated by some desire, and design. For the impression made by such things as we desire or fear, is strong and permanent, or, if it cease for a time, of quick return; so strong it is sometimes as to hinder and break our sleep. From desire ariseth the thought of some means we have seen produce the like of what we aim at: and from the thought of that, the thought of means to that mean, and so continually till we come to some beginning within our own power.”
He adds,—“This train of regulated thoughts is of two kinds: one, when of an effect imagined, we seek the causes or means that produce it; and this is common to man and beast. The other is when imagining any thing whatsoever, we seek all the possible effects that can by it be produced: that is to say, we imagine what we can do with it when we have it. Of which I have not at any time seen any sign but in man only; for this is a curiosity hardly incident to the nature of any living creature that has no other passion but sensual, such as are hunger, thirst, lust, and anger. In sum, the discourse of the mind when it is governed by design, is nothing but seeking or the faculty of invention, which the Latins call sagacitas and solertia, a finding out of the causes of some effect, pre