« 前へ次へ »
$. There are few subjects," writes Professor Stewart, ä more hackneyed than that of education; and yet there is none, upon which the opinions of the world are still more divided. Nor is this surprising, for most of those who have speculated concerning it, have confined their attention chiefly to incidental questions about the comparative advantages of public or private instruction, or the utility of particular languages or sciences; without attempting a previous examination of those faculties and principles of the mind, which it is the great object of education to improve. Many excellent detached observations, indeed, both on the intellectual and moral powers, are to be collected from the writings of ancient and modern authors; but I do not know, that in any language an attempt has been made to analyze and illustrate the principles of human nature, in order to lay'a philosophical foundation for their proper culture.”
As our most useful knowledge of the bodily system is, acquired by anatomical dissection, so it is by an anatomy of the mind we are to become familiar with its powers and principles. If we admit the importance of the one, we must of the other; and when we acknowledge both to be of indispensable value, there remains but one way to test the excellence of the several systems of education. We then have something definite for our guide ;, something that admits of demonstration; something that must stand forever-for reason never destroys the better part of a work to be enabled to repair the other-She is able at one and the same time to preserve the good while she destroys the bad.
If we allow the principle of Horace to have its due weight-"Scribendi recte, sapere est principium et fons." We must admit the reasonableness of the study of the human mind as introductory to composition :-for all beings, as well as matter, have certain innate propertes
by which they are to be distinguished in their several species ;—and it is by an acquaintance with the process of the propagation of generative existences, or properties, that we learn the most proper method of improving and invigorating their powers of production.
“ The young in particular” says a writer, on Mental Philosophy, 'will be led by an acquaintance with the practical laws of the mind, to perceive how their present conduct affects their future character, and happiness; to perceive the importance of avoiding a frivolous employment of their time, without any end beyond mere amusement, to perceive the impossibility of indulging in vicious gratifications, without lessening their means of happiness, and checking their progress towards excellence. They will learn how habits are formed almost imperceptibly, and, when long exercised, how exceedingly difficult it is, to eradicate them ; they will learn to consider the formation of habits as requiring, therefore, their utmost circumspection. They will be enabled to discern what habits of thought and feeling are baneful, what useful; what means of happiness should be regarded as of primary value, what should be regarded as secondary, only. In short there can be no hesitation in affirming, that next to the immediate pursuit of religion, to which the laws of the mind direct, a judicious acquaintance with those laws is the most important' means of the right employment of that period of life, on which the happiness of our exist ence in a great measure depends."
Not that I would, (as I have already said) recommend the taxing of young minds with the abstruse and unsettled parts of Metaphysics-but only of those that are plain, easy to be understood, and profitable to be known.
“ The most essential objects," writes. Stewart, "of education, are the two following : First, to cultivate alt the various principles of our nature, both speculative and active, in such a manner as to bring them to the greatest perfection of which they are susceptible; and, secondly, by watching over the impressions and associations which the mind receives in early life, to secure it against the influence of prevailing errors; and, as far as possible, to engage its prepossessions on the side of truth. It is only upon a philosophical analysis of the mind, that a syste matical plan can be founded, for the accomplishment of either of these purposes."
OF THE MIND,
THAT, whatever it be, which thinks, and feels, and wills, is called the mind; that part of the human being, which thinks,' and feels, and wills, is called the human mind,
The notions we annex to the words, Matter, and Mind, are merely relative. If we are asked, what we mean by måtter?. We can only explain ourselves by saying, it is that which is extended, figured, coloured, moveable, hard or soft, rough or smooth, hot or cold,—that is, we can define it in no other way, than by enumerating. its sensible qualities. It is not matter, or body, which we perceive by our senses, but only extension, figure, colour, and certain other qualities, which the constitution of our nature leads us to refer to something, which is extended, figured, and coloured. The case is precisely similar with respect to mind. We are not immediately conscious of its existence, but we are conscious of sensation, thought, and volition ; operations, which imply the existence of
something which feels, thinks and wills. Every man too is impressed with an irresistible conviction, that all these sensations, thoughts, and volitions belong to one and the same being ; to that being, which he calls himself ; a being, which he is led, by the constitution of his nature, to consider as something distinct from his body, and as not liable to be impaired by the loss or mutilation of any of his organs.
Although we cannot easily find analogies that are perfectly illustrative for all subjects,- yet, there is no subject so detached - but what nature has afforded something similar either in its texture or properties, colour or form, that will give us an analogy brth instructive and interesting. In brutes and in plants we see peculiar habits as in men. I mean by habits, in this general tern-those particular ways-or appearances which any growing thing has peculiar to itself in its progress to maturity—those habits or modes of existence varying as the cultivation may differ.
The wild forest plant when transplanted to the richly cultivated garden-assumes new vigour, and its powers and capacities become more fully developed. Its form becomes more perfect--its appearance more beautiful — and its several parts seem to go through a kind of education and arrive at the highest degree of refinement.
All things that live and grow-all substances that bring forth and support-have laws that in some measure correspond and aid each other in being understood. This natural constitution of things, if properly observed and regarded is an unfailing source of knowledge. What is latent or complex in one thing, may be easily discovered and explained in another. And if the same truth is clothed with different degrees of complexity in different things, those that are most simple and best known, should receive our first attention.
Among the many Phenomena in the natural world I can discover nothing that represents the mind in its original state, and its operations, so well as the Earth.*
"In that, as in the mind,” says Budgell, "we discover a vegetative principle, which cannot lie wholly idle, for if it is not laid out and cultivated into a regular garden, it will of itself shoot up in weeds or flowers of a wilder growth."
OF IDEAS IN GENERAL AND THEIR ORIGINAL,
J. Idea is the object of thinking.
EVERY man being conscious to himself that he thinks, and that which his mind is applied about, whilst thinking, being the ideas that are there, it is past doubt, that men have in their minds several ideas, such as those expressed by the words—whiteness, hardness, sweetness, thinking, motion, man, elephant, army, drunkenness, and others It is in the first place then; to be inquired, how he comes by them.
II. AU Ideas come from Sensation or Reflectioni
Our observation employed either about external sensi. ble obects, or about the internal operations of our minds, perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understandings with all the materials of
* Vide Chap. 2g of the Consequentia.'