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  1. Reason is fixed.

  2. The reason in all its decisions appeals to itself as the ground and substance of their truth.--(Heb. vi, 13).

  3. Reason of contemplation. Reason indeed is much nearer to Sense than to Understanding: for Reason (says our great Hooker) is a direct aspect of truth, an inward beholding, having a similar relation to the intelligible or spiritual, as sense has to the material or phenomenal.


The result is: that neither falls under the definition of the other. They differ in kind: and had my object been confined to the establishment of this fact, the preceding columns would have superseded all further disquisition. But I have ever in view the especial interest of my youthful readers, whose reflective power is to be cultivated; as well as their particular reflections to be called forth and guided. Now the main chance of their reflecting on religious subjects aright, and of their attaining to the contemplation of spiritual truths at all rests on their insight into the nature of this disparity still more than on their conviction of its existence. I now, therefore, proceed to a brief analysis of the understanding, in elucidation of the definitions already given.

The understanding then, (considered exclusively as an organ of human intelligence,) is the faculty by which we reflect and generalize. Take, for instance, any objects consisting of many parts, a house, or a group of houses: and if it be contemplated, as a whole, that is, as many constituting a one, it forms what, in the technical language of psychology, is called a total impression. Among the various component parts of this, we direct our attention especially to such as we recollect to have noticed in other total impressions. Then, by a voluntary act, we withhold our attention from all the rest to reflect exclusively on these ; and these we henceforward use as common characters, by virtue of which the several objects are referred to one and the same sort.**

**Accordingly as we attend more or less to the differences, the sort becomes, of course, more or less comprehensive. Hence there arises for the systematic naturalist the necessity of subdividing the sorts into orders, classes, families, &c.: all which, however, resolve themselves for the mere logician into the conception of genus and species, that is, the comprehending and the comprehended.


Thus, the whole process may be reduced to three acts, all depending on and supposing a previous impression on the senses; first, the appropriation of our attention; 2. (and in order to the continuance of the first) abstraction, or the voluntary withholding of the attention; and 3. generalization. And these are ihe proper functions of the understanding: and the power of so doing, is what we mean, when we say we possess understanding, or are created with the faculty of understanding.

[It is obvious, that the third function includes the act of comparing one object with another. In a note (for, not to interrupt the argument, I avail myself of this most useful contrivance), I have shown, that the act of comparing supposes in the comparing faculty, certain inherent forms, that is, modes of reflecting not referable to the objects reflected on, but pre-determined by the constitution and (as it were) mechanism of the understanding itself. And under some one or other of these forms,**

  • Were it not so, how could the first comparison have been possible ^ It would, involve the absurdity of measuring a thing by itself. But if we think on some one thing, the length of our own foot, or of our hand and arm from the elbow joint, it is evident that in order to do this, we must have the conception of measure. Now these antecedent and most general conceptions are what is meant by the constituent forms of the under^ standing : we call them constituent because they are not acquired by the understanding, but are implied in its constitution. As rationally might a circle be said to acquire a centre and circumference, as the understandmg to acquire these, its inherent forms, or ways of conceiving. This is what Leibnitz meant, when to the old adage of the Peripatetics, Nihil in inteUectu quod nonprius in sensUf (There is nothing in the understanding not derived from the senses, or— There is nothing conceived that was not previously perceived ;) he replied— jw«/er intdUctum ipsum (except the understanding itself.)

And here let me remark for once and all : whoever would reflect to any purpose — ^whoever is in earnest in his pursuit of selfknowledge, and


the resemblances and differences must be subsumed in order to be conceivable and a fortiori therefore in order to be comparable. The senses do not compare, but merely furnish the materials for comparison. But this

of one of the principal means to this, an insight into the meaning of the words he uses, and the different meanings properly or improperly conveyed by one and the same word, accordingly as it is used in the schools or the market, accordingly as the kind or a high degree is intended (for example, heat, weight, and the like, as employed scientifically, compared with the same word used popularly)--whoever, I say, seriously, proposes this as his object, must so far overcome his dislike of pedantry, and his dread of being sneered at as a pedant, as not to quarrel with an uncouth word or phrase, till he is quite sure that some other and more familiar one would not only have expressed the precise meaning with equal clearness, but have been as likely to draw attention to this meaning exclusively. The ordinary language of a philosopher in conversation or popular writings, compared with the language he uses in strict reasoning, is as his watch compared with the chronometer in his observatory. He sets the former by the town-clock, or even perhaps by the Dutch clock in his kitchen, not because he believes it right, but because his neighbours and his cook go by it. To afford the reader an opportunity for exercising the forbearance here recommended, I turn back to the phrase, "most general conceptions," and observe, that in strict and severe propriety of language I should have said generalific or generific rather than general, and concipiences or conceptive acts rather than conceptions.

It is an old complaint, that a man of genius no sooner appears, but the host of dunces are up in arms to repel the invading alien. This observation would have made more converts to its truth, I suspect, had it been worded more dispassionately and with a less contemptuous antithesis. For "dunces," let us substitute "the many," or the

"this world) of the Apostle, and we shall perhaps find no great difficulty in accounting for the fact. To arrive at the root, indeed, and last ground of the problem, it would be necessary to investigate the nature and effects of the sense of difference on the human mind where it is not holden in check by reason and reflection. We need not go to the savage tribes of North America, or the yet ruder natives of the Indian Isles, to learn how slight a degree of difference will, in uncultivated minds, call tip a sense of diversity, and inward perplexity and contradiction, as if the strangers were, and yet were not, of the same kind with themselves. Who has not had occasion to observe the effect which the gesticulations and nasal tones of a Frenchman produce on our own vulgar? Here we 171 the reader will find explained in the note, and will now cast his eye back to the sentence immediately preceding this parenthesis.]

Now when a person speaking to us of any particular

may see the origin and primary import of our unkindness. It is a sense of unkind, and not the mere negation but the positive opposite of the sense of kind. Alienation, aggravated now by fear, now by contempt, and not seldom by a mixture of both, aversion, hatred, enmity, are so many successive shapes of its growth and metamorphosis. In application to the present case, it is sufficient to say, that Pindar's remark on sweet music holds equally true of genius: as many as are not delighted by it are disturbed, perplexed, irritated. The beholder either recognizes it as a projected form of his own being, that moves before him with a glory round its head, or recoils from it as from a spectre. But this speculation would lead me too far; I must be content with having referred to it as the ultimate ground of the fact, and pass to the more obvious and proximate causes. And as the first, I would rank the person's not understanding what yet he expects to understand, and if he had a right to do so. An original mathematical work, or any other that require! peculiar and (so to say) technical marks and symbols, will excite no uneasy feelings--not in the mind of a competent reader, for he understands it; and not with others, because they neither expect nor are expected to understand it. The second place we may assign to the misunderstanding, which is almost sure to follow in cases where the incompetent person, finding no outward marks (diagrams, arbitrary signs, and the like) to inform him at first sight, that the subject is one which he does not pretend to understand, and to be ignorant of which does not detract from his estimation as a man of abilities generally, will attach some meaning to what he hears or reads; and as he is out of humour with the author, it will most often be such a meaning as he can quarrel with and exhibit in a ridiculous or offensive point of view.

But above all, the whole world almost of minds, as far as we regard intellectual efforts, may be divided into two classes of the busy-indolent and lazy-indolent. To both alike all thinking is painful, and all attempts to rouse them to think, whether in the re-examination of their existing convictions, or for the reception of new light, are irritating. "It may all be very deep and clever; but really one ought to be quite sure of it before one wrenches one's brain to find out what it is. I take up a book as a companion, with whom I can have an easy cheerful chit-chat on what we both know beforehand, or else matters of fact. In our leisure hours we have a right to relaxation and amusement." 172 object or appearance refers it by means of some common character to a known class (which he does in giving it a name,) we say, that we understand him; that is, we understand his words. The name of a thing, in the

Well! but in their studious hours, when their bow is to be bent, when they are apud Musas, or amidst the Muses? Alas! it is just the same! The same craving for amusement, that is, to be away from the Muses! for relaxation, that is, the unbending of a bow which in fact had never been strung! There are two ways of obtaining their applause. The first is: Enable them to reconcile in one and the same occupation the love of sloth and the hatred of vacancy! Gratify indolence, and yet save them from ennui--in plain English, from themselves! For, spite of their antipathy to dry reading, the keeping company with themselves is, after all, the insufferable annoyance: and the true secret of their dislike to a work of thought and inquiry lies in its tendency to make them acquainted with their own permanent being. The other road to their favour is, to introduce to them their own thoughts and predilections, tricked out in the fine language, in which it would gratify their vanity to express them in their own conversation, and with which they can imagine themselves showing off: and this (as has been elsewhere remarked) is the characteristic difference between the second-rate writers of the last two or three generations, and the same class under Elizabeth and the Stuarts. In the latter we find the most far-fetched and singular thoughts in the simplest and most native language; in the former, the most obvious and common-place thoughts in the most far-fetched and motley language. But lastly, and as the sine qua non of their patronage, a sufficient arc must be left for the reader's mind to oscillate in--freedom of choice.

To make the shifting cloud be what you please,

save only where the attraction of curiosity determines the line of motion. The attention must not be fastened down: and this every work of genius, not simply narrative, must do before it can be justly appreciated.

In former times a popular work meant one that adapted the results of studious meditation or scientific research to the capacity of the people, presenting in the concrete, by instances and examples, what had been ascertained in the abstract and by discovery of the law. Now, on the other hand, that is a popular work which gives back to the people their own errors and prejudices, and flatters the many by creating them under the title of the public, into a supreme and inappellable tribunal of intellectual excellence.

P. S. In a continuous work the frequent insertion and length of notes 173 original sense of the word name, (nomen, intelligible, id quod intelligitur) expresses that which is understood in an appearance, that which we place (or make to stand) under it, as the condition of its real existence, and in proof that it is not an accident of the senses, or affection of the individual, not a phantom or apparition, that is, an appearance which is only an appearance. (See Gen. ii, 19, 20, and in Psalm xx, 1, and in many other places of the Bible, the identity of nomen with numen, that is, invisible power and presence, the nomen substantivum of all real objects, and the ground of their reality, independently of the affections of sense in the percipient). In like manner, in a connected succession of names, as the speaker passes from one to the other, we say that we understand his discourse (discursio intellectus, discursus, his passing rapidly from one thing to another). Thus, in all instances, it is words, names, or, if images, yet images used as words or names, that are the only and exclusive subjects of understanding. In no instance do we understand a thing in itself; but only the name to which it is referred. Sometimes indeed, when several classes are recalled conjointly, we identify the words with the object---though by courtesy of idiom rather than in strict propriety of language. Thus we may say that we understand a rainbow, when recalling successively the several names for the several sorts of colours, we know that they are to be applied to one and the same phaenomenon, at once distinctly and simultaneously; but even in common speech we should not say this of a single colour. No one would say he

would need an apology: in a book like this, of aphorisms and detached comments none is necessary, it being understood beforehand that the sauce and the garnish are to occupy the greater part of the dish. 174 understands red or blue. He sees the colour, and had seen it before in a vast number and variety of objects; and he understands the word red, as referring his fancy or memory to this his collective experience.

If this be so, and so it most assuredly is--if the proper functions of the understanding be that of generalizing the notices received from the senses in order to the construction of names: of referring particular notices (that is, impressions or sensations) to their proper names; and vice versa, names to their correspondent class or kind of notices--then it follows of necessity, that the understanding is truly and accurately defined in the words of Leighton and Kant, a faculty judging according to sense.

Now whether in defining the speculative reason (that is, the reason considered abstractedly as a intellective power) we call it "the source of necessary and universal principles, according to which the notices of the senses are either affirmed or denied;" or describe it as "the power by which we are enabled to draw from particular and contingent appearances universal and necessary conclusions:"** it is equally evident that the two

**Take a familiar illustration. My sight and touch convey to me a certain impression, to which my understanding applies its pre-conceptions (conceptus antecedentes et generalissimi) of quantity and relation, and thus refers it to the class and name of three-cornered bodies--we will suppose it the iron of a turf-spade. It compares the sides, and finds that any two measured as one are greater than the third; and according to a law of the imagination, there arises a presumption that in all other bodies of the same figure (that is, three-cornered and equilateral) the same proportion exists. After this, the senses have been directed successively to a number of three-cornered bodies of unequal sides--and in these too the same proportion has been found without exception, till at length it becomes a fact of experience, that in all triangles hitherto seen, the two tides together are greater than the third: and there will exist 175 definitions differ in their essential characters, and consequently the subjects differ in kind.

The dependence of the understanding on the representations of the senses, and its consequent posteriority

no ground or analogy for anticipating an exception to a rule, generalized from so vast a number of particular instances. So far and no farther could the understanding carry us: and as far as this "the faculty, judging according to sense," conducts many of the inferior animals, if not in the same, yet in instances analogous and fully equivalent.

The reason supersedes the whole process, and on the first conception presented by the understanding in consequence of the first sight of a inangular figure, of whatever sort it might chance to be, it affirms with an assurance incapable of future increase, with a perfect certainty, that in all possible triangles any two of the inclosing lines will and must be greater than the third. In short, understanding in its highest form of experience remains commensurate with the experimental notices of the senses from which it is generalised. Reason, on the other hand, either predetermines experience, or avails itself of a past experience to supersede its necessity in all future time; and affirms truths which no sense could perceive, nor experiment verify, nor experience confirm.

Yea, this is the test and character of a truth so affirmed, that in its own proper form it is inconceivable. For to conceive is a function of the understanding, which can be exercised only on subjects subordinate thereto. And yet to the forms of the understanding all truth must be reduced, that is to be fixed as an object of reflection, and to be rendered expressible. And here we have a second test and sign of a truth so affirmed that it can come forth out of the moulds of the understanding only in the disguise of two contradictory conceptions, each of which is partially true, and the conjunction of both conceptions becomes the representative or expression (the exponent) of a truth beyond conception and inexpressible. Examples: Before Abraham was, I am.--God is a circle, the centre of which is every where, and circumference no where. The soul is all in every part.

If this appear extravagant, it is an extravagance which no man can indeed learn from another, but which, (were this possible,) I might have learnt from Plato, Kepler, and Bacon; from Luther, Hooker, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Fenelon. But in this last paragraph I have, I see, unwittingly overstepped my purpose, according to which we were to take reason as a simply intellectual power. Yet even as such, and with all the disadvantage of a technical and arbitrary abstraction, it has been made evident:--1. that there is an intuition or immediate beholding, 176 thereto, as contrasted with the independence and antecedency of reason, are strikingly exemplified in the Ptolemic System (that truly wonderful product and highest boast of the faculty, judging according to the

accompanied by a conviction of the necessity and universality of the truth so beholden not derived from the senses, which intuition, when it is construed by pure sense, gives birth to the science of mathematics, and when applied to objects supersensuous or spiritual is the organ of theology and philosophy:--and 2. that there is likewise a reflective and discursive faculty, or mediate apprehension which, taken by itself and uninfluenced by the former, depends on the senses for the materials on which it is exercised, and is contained within the sphere of the senses. And this faculty it is, which in generalizing the notices of the senses constitutes sensible experience, and gives rise to maxims or rules which may become more and more general, but can never be raised into universal verities, or beget a consciousness of absolute certainty; though they may be sufficient to extinguish all doubt. (Putting revelation out of view, take our first progenitor in the 60th or 100th year of his existence. His experience would probably have freed him from all doubt, as the sun sank in the horizon, that it would re-appear the next morning. But compare this state of assurance with that which the same man would have had of the 37th proposition of Euclid, supposing him like Pythagoras to have discovered the demonstration). Now is it expedient, I ask, or conformable to the laws and purposes of language, to call two so altogether desperate subjects by one and the same name? Or, having two names in our language, should we call each of the two diverse subjects by both--that is, by either name, as caprice might dictate? If not, then as we have two words, reason and understanding (as indeed what language of cultivated man has not?)--what should prevent us from appropriating the former to the power distinctive of humanity? We need only place the derivatives from the two terms in opposition (for example, "A and B are both rational beings; but there is no comparison between them in point of intelligence," or "She always concludes rationally, though not a woman of much understanding") to see that we cannot reverse the order--i. e., call the higher gift understanding, and the lower reason. What should prevent us? I asked. Alas! that which has prevented us--the cause of this confusion in the terms— is only too obvious; namely, inattention to the momentous distinction in the things, and (generally) to the duty and habit recommended in the fifth introductory aphorism of this volume, (see p. 2). But the cause of this, and of all its lamentable effects and subcauses, false doctrine, blindness of heart, and 177 senses!) compared with the Newtonian, as the offspring of a yet higher power, arranging, correcting, and annulling the representations of the senses according to its own inherent laws and constitutive ideas.

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