« 前へ次へ »
does it make any more confusion between the two ideas of sweet and bitter, that the same sort of body produces at one time one, and at another time another idea by the taste, than it makes a confusion in two ideas of white and sweet, or white and round, that the same piece of sugar produces them both in the mind at the same time. And the ideas of orange colour and azure, that are produced in the mind by the same parcel of the infusion of lignum nephriticum, are no less distinct ideas, than those of the same colours taken from two very different bodies.
IV. Of Abstraction.
The use of words being to stand as outward marks of our internal ideas, and those ideas being taken from particular things, if every particular idea that we take in should have a distinct name, names must be endless. To prevent this, the mind makes the particular ideas, received from particular objects, to become general ; which is done by considering them as they are in the mind, such appearances, separate from all other existences, and the circumstances of real existence, as time, place, or any other concomitant ideas. This is called abstraction, whereby ideas, taken from particular beings, become ge. neral representatives of all of the same kind, and their names general names, applicable to whatever exists conformable to such abstract ideas.
The assignation of particular names, to denote particular objects ; that is, the institution of nouns substantive, would probably be one of the first steps towards the formation of Language. The particular cave, whose covering sheltered the savage from the weather ; the particular tree, whose fruit relieved his hunger : the particular fountain, whose water allayed his thirst ; would first be denominated by the words, cave, tree, fountain ; or by what
ever other appellations he might think proper, in that primitive jargon, to mark them. Afterwards, when the more enlarged experience of this savage had led him to observe, and his necessary occasions obliged him to make mention of, other caves, and other trees, and other fountains, he would naturally bestow upon each other of those new objects, the same name by which he had been accustomed to express the similar object he was first acquainted with. And thus, those words, which were originally the proper · names of individuals, would each of them insensibly become the common name of a multitude.
It is this application of the name of an individual to a great number of objects, whose resemblance naturally recalls the idea of that individual, and of the name of which expresses it, that seems originally to have given occasion to the formation of those classes, and assortments, which, in the schools, are called genera, and species. What constitutes a species, is merely a number of objects, bearing a certain degree of resemblance to one another ; and, on that account, denominated by a single appellation, which may be applied to express any one of them.
This view of the natural progress of the mind, in forming classifications of external objects, receives some illustration from a fact mentioned by Captain Cook, in his account of a small island called Wateeoo, which he visited in sailing from New Zealand to the Friendly Islands.
“ The inhabitants," says he, “ were afraid to come near our cows and horses, nor did they form the least conception of their nature. But the sheep and goats did not surpass the limits of their ideas ; for they gave us to understand that they knew them to be birds. It will appear rather incredible, that human ignorance could ever make so strange a mistake, there being not the most distant similitude between a sheep or goat, and any winged animal. But these people seemed to know nothing of the
existence of any other land animals, besides hogs, dogs, and birds.
“ Our sheep and goats, they could see, were very different creatures from the two first, and therefore they inferred that they must belong to the latter class, in which they knew that there is a considerable variety of species.”
It may be added to Captain Cook's very judicious remarks, that the mistake of these islanders probably did not arise from their considering a sheep or a goat as bearing a more striking resemblance to a bird, than to the two classes of quadrupeds with which they were acquainted ; but to the want of a generic word, such as quadruped, comprehending these two species ; which men in their situation would no more be led to form, than a person who had only seen one individual of each species, would think of an appellative to express both, instead of applying a proper name to each. In consequence of the variety of birds, it appears, that they had a generic name comprehending all of them, to wbich it was not unnatural for them to refer any new animal they met with.
OF THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS.
I. Association of Ideas what.
THE association of ideas is that train of thought, sugo gested to the mind by one or more objects with which we have had a previous acquaintance, or with similar, or risimilar in connexion with, under various and peculiar circumstances.
Thus, should we view the tomb of any distinguished man, for instance, that of Washington, there would arise in our minds a train of ideas relating to his several acts of goodness, wisdom, and bravery, and would call to mind some of the most important and interesting occurrences and facts of the American revolution. The ideas thus produced, where one has a tendency to introduce another, are termed, the association of ideas.
II. Succession of Thoughts.
The succession of our thoughts is often regulated by memory; as when we go over in our mind the particulars of a place we have seen, of a conversation we have heard, or of a book we have read. At other times, when our attention is not fixed on any one thing, (a state of mind called reverie,) we may observe that our thoughts are continually changing, so that in a little time our imagination wanders to something very different from that which we were thinking of just before. Yet if we could remember every thing that passed through our mind during this reverie, we should probably find, that there was some relation, connexion, or bond of union, between those thoughts that accompanied, or came next after, one another. The relations, or bonds of union, which thus determine the mind to associate ideas, are various.
Resemblance is an associating quality : that is, when we perceive, or think of, any thing, it is natural for us, at the same time, or immediately after, to think of something that is like it. When we hear a story, or see a person, we are apt to think of other similar stories or persons. Our discourse we often embellish with metaphors, allegories, and those other figures of speech, that are founded in likeness. And when any powerful passion, as anger, or sorrow, takes hold of the mind, the thoughts that occur to us have generally a resemblance to that passion, and tend to encourage it.
IV. Contrariety or Contrast.
Contrariety or contrast, is another associating principle, especially when the mind is in a disagreeable state. Great cold makes us think of heat, and wish for it. Hunger and thirst put us in mind of eating and drinking. In poetry and other works of fancy, we are sometimes pleased when we find things of opposite natures succeeding each other ; when, for example, the hurry of a battle, is interrupted, as in Homer it often is, with a descriptive similitude taken from still life, or rural affairs ; or when, in the same fable, persons appear of opposite characters, and the violent is opposed to the gentle, the cunning to the generous, and the rash to the prudent.
V. Contiguity, or nearness of situation.
When we think of any place which we are acquainted with, we are apt to think .at the same time of the neighbouring places and persons : here the associating principle is contiguity, or nearness of situation. The sight of à house, in which we have been happy or unhappy, renews the agreeable or disagreeable ideas that were formerly realized there. Hence, in part, arises that partiality which most people have for the town, province, or