Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

forms them into couples and into masses, than with the processes of decomposition which it applies to them. Nevertheless the mind employs not only addition but subtraction. If it composes it also decomposes ; if it unites the similar, it divides the dissimilar. How? No clear answer on this point.

IV.

We shall now see how the author of the Analysis employs association of ideas to explain various states of consciousness, which he comprises under the common name of belief.1

It is difficult to treat separately of memory, belief, and judg. ment; for a portion of memory is contained in the term belief, as is a portion of judgment. The different cases of belief may be classed under these heads : belief in events or in real existences ; belief in testimony; belief in the truth of propositions.

1. Belief in real events or existences, may have for their object the past, the present, the future.

(1.) Let us begin with the belief which has a present fact for its object.

Here is a first case : that in which the fact is actually and immediately present to my senses.

I believe that this is a rose. This belief implies, in the first place, belief in my sensations, and to believe in my sensations is purely and simply another mode of saying that I have sensations. But to believe in external objects, is not simply to believe in my present sensations. It is that, and something more. It is that something more which is the object of our search. In seeing a rose I have the sensation of colour, but I have, besides, that of its distance, and its figure or form. Those ideas, which are due to touch, are associated with that of colour. Others, such as scent, taste, and resistance, may associate themselves with these. My idea of a rose is thus formed by the fusion of several ideas, among which one or two are predominant (colour and figure). Now I consider my sensations as an effect, and I believe in something, which is their cause, and it is to that cause, and not to the effect, that the name of objects is appropriated. "To each of the sensations which we have of a particular object, we join in our imagination a cause ; to these various causes we join a cause common to all, and we mark it with the name of substratum.' 1 In short, we experience clusters of sensations; these sensations awaken the idea of antecedents (qualities) which awaken the idea of an antecedent common to all qualities (the substratum) and the substratum with its qualities we call the object. Thus then in our belief in external objects there are two things : first, a cluster of ideas melted into a whole by association; and then the idea of an antecedent (cause) of this whole.

Beliefs having for

their object :

1 We collect in the following table the various forms of belief, classified and explained by the author :

Present to the senses : Ex. There is a rose.

Actual. Not present to the senses : Ex. St. Paul's 1. Real facts.

Church exists.
Past. Ex. I have seen a certain theatre burning.

Future. Ex. It will be daylight to-morrow.
2. Testimony. Ex. The great fire of London.

Identical : Ex. Man is a reasonable 3. The truth of propositions. animal.

Non-identical : Ex. Man is an animal.

This belief then implies a theory of cause, which the author states very simply. Let a fact be B and an antecedent A: if their association is given as inseparable, and the order of their associations as constant, we shall say that A is the cause of B.

Here is a second case : that in which the fact is not actually present to my senses. I believe that St. Paul's, which I have seen this morning, still exists, which is equivalent to saying that if I, or one of my fellows, were placed in a certain part of London, we should have the sensation of St. Paul's Cathedral. This belief implies the remembrance whose nature has been examined under the title of memory, and then an extension of past facts into the future, which we shall study present ly.

(2.) The belief which has for its object a past fact attaches itself to memory. When I say that I recall the burning of Drury Lane Theatre, my saying that I recall that incident, and that I believe it, is exactly the same thing ; these are two indiscernible conditions of consciousness.

1 Vol. i. p. 351.

2 Vol. ii. p. 100.

(3.) The belief which has future facts for its object is the groundwork of that process of the mind which is called induction. The author thinks that it also may be resolved into a simple association. “The anticipation of the future by means of the past, far from being a phenomenon sui generis, is included in one of the most general laws of the human mind.' When, therefore, Dugald Stewart and others exalt it into an object of admiration, into a prodigy, into a thing which is not included in any general law, and that they tell us it can only be referred to an instinct; which is equivalent to saying to nothing at all the term instinct merely signifying, in every case, our ignorance,—they only show their powerlessness to bring the phenomena of mind under the great comprehensive law of association. They seem to have had a most inexplicable and most anti-philosophical aversion to admit this law in its wide meaning; as if the simplicity, by virtue of which a certain law is included in a higher law, and so on, even to a small number in which all appear to be included, ought not to be found in the world of mind, as it is found in the world of matter.1

Whatever may be thought of the following explanation, it must at least be acknowledged that the author has seen very clearly that a theory of induction is in fact a theory of cause.

We cannot, he says, have an idea of the future, because, strictly speaking, the future is a non-entity, and we cannot have an idea of nothing. When we speak of the future, we speak in reality of the past. I believe that the sun will rise to-morrow, that there will be vehicles in the streets of London, that the tide will be full at London Bridge, etc.; these are ideas of the past. Our idea of the future and our idea of the past is the same thing, with this difference, that in the one case there is anticipation, and in the other there is retrospection. What is this anticipation ?

The fundamental law of association consists in this, that when two things have been frequently found together, one recalls the other. Among these habitual conjunctions, there is none which interests us more than that of the antecedent and the consequent.

But among the numerous antecedents and consequents which

[ocr errors][merged small]

form the matter of our experience, some present them in a constant, others in a variable order. Thus, I have seen a crow flying from the east to the west, as well as from the west to the east. On the contrary, a stone thrown into the air will not go from low to high as well as from high to low; it follows an immoveable direction. Thence an association of ideas whose order is also invariable. Thus the idea of every fact awakens the idea of constant antecedent (which produces it) and the idea of constant consequents (which it produces). This great law of our nature shows us immediately in what manner an idea of the future is produced. Night has always been followed by morning. The idea of night is followed by that of morning; the idea of morning by that of the incidents of the morning (the vehicles in the streets of London) and of the entire day. Then there is the idea of tomorrow, to which another to-morrow succeeds, and an indefinite number of those 'to-morrows' compose the complex idea of the future.

But, it may be said, that is the idea of to-morrow, and not belief in to-morrow; tell us, what is that belief? I reply, that not only you have the idea of to-morrow, but you have it in an inseparable manner. Now it is to this case of indissoluble association of ideas, and to nothing else, that you apply the name of belief.

2: There is no occasion for us to linger over belief in testimony. It also belongs to association. In short, I refer all the words (written or spoken) of my fellows to the facts and ideas which they represent : this is an association. Now, our belief in facts is founded upon our own experience, and this form of belief has already been explained. 1

3. A third class of beliefs is that in the truth of propositions, in other words, in verbal truths.' The process by which this belief is produced is called judgment. Proposition is the form of

1 This explanation of belief in testimony does not seem satisfactory.

“The belief in testimony is derived from the primary credulity of the mind, in certain instances left intact under the wear and tear of adverse experience Hardly any fact of the human mind is better attested than the primitive disposition to receive all testimony with unflinching credence. It never occurs to the child to question any statement made to it, until some positive force on the side of scepticism has been developed.'—Bain's Notes to Analysis, p. 386.

affirmation. "Affirmation essentially consists in applying two marks to the same thing. Example: Man is a reasonable animal.'

Or else names of which one has less and the other more extension, are applied to the same thing. Example: Man is an animal.'

In the first case, the equivalence of the two words is acknowledged by association : man and reasonable animal are two words for one same condition of consciousness; they are associated as marks with a same group of ideas.

In the second case, the association is more complex; that is all the difference. Man is the name of a cluster of ideas suggested by association (see on this subject, classification); animal is also the name of a cluster which includes the first cluster and others besides.

Thus, sensations, ideas, associations of ideas; the whole varied, complicated, aggregated, crossed, grouped in a thousand ways,this is the whole mechanism of the human mind.

CHAPTER II.

ABSTRACT TERMS.

General terms.-I. Of general terms—2. Space, time, movement, the infinite.

I.

SOME words which require a special explanation,' is the title of a long chapter in the Analysis, devoted to the obscure and disputed questions of time, space, motion, etc. • Under this modest title,' says Mr. John Stuart Mill, 'this chapter presents us with a series of discussions on some of the most profound and intricate questions in the whole of metaphysics. The title would give a very incomplete idea of the difficulty and importance of the speculations which it contains. It is almost as if a treatise upon chemistry had been given, as an explanation of the words air, water, potass, sulphuric acid, etc.'

[blocks in formation]
« НазадПродовжити »