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It is really a study of the origin and the mode of the formation of the most general ideas, which we find under this title. The transition period to which the work belongs makes itself particularly evident in this portion of it: the author is still wavering tween the too verbal method of the eighteenth century, and the more concrete analysis, which shall be that of his successors. We find in it, in the condition of sketches, and of foreseen solutions, à number of explanations which have been given in a clearer and more complete manner by contemporaries.
One of its principal merits, in our opinion, is that it endeavours to show that certain abstract terms appear to be inexplicable, only because they are too distant from their concretes. Perhaps it has never been sufficiently borne in mind that abstraction has its degrees, as number has its powers: red is an abstract, colour is more abstract, attribute is still more abstract. This growth in abstraction, very easy to prove in this instance, is not always so. But if philosophy should arrive at noting the ascending degrees of abstraction with sufficient exactness, as arithmetic determines the growing powers of a number; if it should succeed, as far as the nature of things permits, in doing for quality that which has been done for quantity; if it should succeed in resolving the highest abstractions in inferior abstractions, and these into concretes, it seems to us that many vain questions and factitious difficulties would disappear. Here and there some such attempts are made by our author, but they are very incomplete. Now, so long as precise verification shall be wanting, sensualism will in vain claim for itself simplicity, truthful-seeming, and above all, that most scientific characteristic, the elimination of everything supernatural ; the question will always remain an open one between its adversaries and itself.
Under the name Relative Terms, the author treats of the various ideas of relation. Their essential character is to exist only by couples or pairs, such as high and low, like and unlike, antecedent and consequent. These couples are suggested to us by association.
Under the name Primitive Terms, he treats of the ideas which are generally called negative.
As it is almost impossible to analyse exactly an analysis, we shall not try to follow the author in his examination of the ideas of resemblance and difference, antecedent and consequent, position in space, order in time, quantity, quality, etc. We shall find the substance of all this when we have to deal with the other philosophers. Thus Mill seems to have partly seen that which Bain and Spencer will hereafter show us more clearly, that the fact of primitive consciousness consists, in the first place, in the perception of a difference, and then in the perception of a resemblance.
Let us restrict ourselves to the important ideas of space, infinite, time, and motion.
Space.—Let us remark, firstly, that concrete terms are connotative, abstract terms are non-connotative ; that is to say, that concrete terms, in expressing one or several qualities which is their notation, or principal signification, connote the object to which these qualities belong. Thus the concrete 'red' always connotes something which is red, such as a rose. Now, how is the abstract formed ? It is formed of the concrete, and it notes precisely that which is noted by the concrete, but rejecting the connotation. Thus, in red, take away the connotation and you have redness;
in hot, take away the connotation and you have heat. Red signifies something red, redness signifies redness without something. There is the same difference between the concrete extended and the abstract extension. What the concrete extended is with its connotation, the abstract extension is without that connotation. We have then to explain in what this connotation consists. When we say extended, signifying something of extent, we mean one or other of these three things,-a line, a surface, a volume. We owe these ideas to different sensations, among which we must count in the first place those due to touch and to muscular action. The sensation or sensations which we mark by the word resistant, seem to be the only ones connoted by the word extended. Thus the essential connotation of the concrete extended' is resistant, and nothing else. It is true that those who enjoy the faculty of seeing, cannot conceive of a thing as extended without conceiving of it as coloured; they
unite the visual qualities to the tactile qualities, which even become predominant by association. But for the man who is born blind there exists only the sensation of the tactile qualities, that is to say, resistance.
Now, we can understand what extension is in all its cases. Linear extension is the idea of a line without the connotation; that is to say, without the idea of resistance. Extension in superficies is the idea of a surface without the connotation (resistance). Extension in volume, is the idea of a volume without the connotation (resistance). But a volume without resistance, what is it? The place for a volume. And this place, what is it? A portion of space, or, more exactly, space itself without limit.
Infinite.—The idea of infinite is comprised in that of space. When the word infinite is not employed metaphorically, as when we speak of the infinite perfections of God (in which case it is not a name of an idea, but a name for a lack of ideas), it is applied only to number, extension, and duration.'
We augment numbers by adding one to one, one to two, etc. ; and by giving a name to each aggregate. It is the association of ideas that constitutes this process. Number is limited, consequently not infinite. Number is the negation of the infinite, as black is the negation of white. The word infinite, in this case, is only a mark for that condition of consciousness in which the idea of one more is intimately associated with every number that presents itself. In short, the abstract term is the particular idea without the connotation.
We also apply this word to extension by the same process. A strict irresistible association of ideas makes us conceive of the continuous increase of a line, of a surface, of a volume. That which we call the idea of an infinite extension, and which some call the necessary idea, simply signifies that the idea of an additional portion is necessarily awakened; that is to say, by indissoluble association, and that we cannot prevent it.'
The idea of infinite, which has been called a simple idea, is in reality an extremely complex idea. But the association which is its foundation is so close that it appears to us a unit.
Time-Space is a comprehensive word, comprising all positions, or the totality of the synchronical order. Time is a com
prehensive word, comprising all successions or the totality of the successive order.
The idea of time is an idea of successions; it consists in that, and nothing more. Let us now recall how a concrete may be changed into an abstract, by taking away the connotation, and let us apply this doctrine to the case of successions. When a man recalls the peculiarities of a battle in which he commanded, a succession of sensations or ideas cross his mind. In this succession, as in every other, there are always ideas, past, present, and future. Take away the connotation of 'something present,'
something past,' and of something future,' and you have past, present, and future. But these three things are time. It is an abstract term, covering the signification of three distinct abstracts.
Motion.—The word "motion’ is abstract of 'moving.'. What we have to look for, are the sensations by virtue of which we call a body 'moving,' motion being simply moving without the connotation. In the idea of a moving body we find the following elements : the idea of a line (for a body always moves according to a line, right or otherwise), and the idea of succession. All these ideas are complex, some of them are very complex. United in one idea (motion), they compose one of the most complex of our ideas.
It is important to observe that, though it is most frequently the eye which informs us of motion, it is not from the sensations of sight that the idea of motion is derived. It is only by an association of ideas that we imagine that we see motion. This idea comes to us, like that of extent, from the muscular and tactile sensations. A man born blind has the idea of motion just as we. have it. Our ideas of extension and of motion are derived, without any doubt, from the action of our own body.
I touch something, and I have the sensation of resistance, the idea of resistance being that which is fundamental in every aggregate to which we give the name of object. In this case there are two things : the object touched, the finger which touches. Here is another case : I lent an action to my finger in touching the object. This action implies certain sensations; I combine them with the object and with my finger, and thus I have two ideas : the object extended, the finger moved. Our idea of a moving
body consists of a series of successive sensations; a sum in which the present condition is united, thanks to memory, with all the anterior conditions. And when we have familiarized ourselves with the application of the term moved, as a connotative term to various objects, it is easy, in the various cases, to suppress the connotation, and thus we have the abstract-motion."
THE FEELINGS AND THE WILL.
Feeling and Will.-1. The insufficiency of English Psychology on this point
2. Feelings—3. Free Will-Mr. John Stuart Mill.
The doctrines of the English experimental school on the psychology of the feelings, the emotions, the affective phenomena in general, do not seem to be so precise or so complete as upon the question of sensations and ideas. By some it is not handled at all, by others, for instance Mr. Herbert Spencer and Mr. John Stuart Mill, it has been as yet barely touched. Two only have attempted to treat it profoundly-our author and Mr. Bain. The work of the latter, probably the fullest and deepest which has yet appeared on this subject, seems to us nevertheless the weakest portion of his labours.2
Whence arises this inferiority ? Must we believe that among philosophers there exists a certain tendency to neglect the affective phenomena and to study the psychology of the mind more than that of the heart ? May we not think that it is rather the complexity, the heterogeneousness of these phenomena which renders their analysis so difficult ? Judgment, reasoning, abstract conception, association of ideas, are facts naturally simple and above
1 Mr. John Stuart Mill points out that this explanation is to be found in other words, but identical in meaning, in the works of Messrs. Bain and Herbert Spencer.
? See chap. iii., Mr. Bain.