The occasion of all their difficulty originated in an effort to nvestigate the schools of the mind with none means of accessing it. They didn’t content themselves with an adoption of the principles which lay at the inspiration of all true philosophy, viz., that the facts to be accounted for, do exist; that truth is eternal, and that we are to become familiar with it by the means employed for its development.
They quitted the planet of materiality they inhabited, refused to look at the event of mind because the effect of an existing cause; and at one bold push, entered the planet of thought, and made the unhallowed plan to reason, a priori, concerning things which may only be known by their manifestations. But they soon found themselves during a strange land, confused with sights and sounds unknown, within the explanation of which they, of course, choose terms as unintelligible to their readers, because the ideal realities were to them. This course, adopted by Aristotle, has been too closely followed by those that have come after him. But a replacement era has dawned upon the philosophy of the mind, and a corresponding change within the method of inculcating the principles of language must follow.
In all our investigations we must take things as we discover them, and account for them as far as we will . it might be a thankless task to aim a change of principles in any thing. that might be an encroachment of the Creator’s rights. It belongs to mortals to use the items they need as not abusing them; and to Deity to manage the laws by which those things are governed. which man is that the wisest, the truest philosopher, and brightest Christian, who acquaints himself with those laws as they are doing exist within the regulation of matter and mind, within the promotion of physical and moral enjoyment, and endeavors to evolve to them altogether his thoughts and actions.
From this apparent digression you’ll directly discover our object. We must not endeavor to vary the principles of language, but to know and explain them; to determine , as far as possible, the actions of the mind in obtaining ideas, and therefore the use of language in expressing them. We might not be ready to make our sentiments understood; but if they’re not, the fault will originate in no obscurity within the facts themselves, but in our inability either to know them or the words employed in their expression. Having been within the habit of using words with either no meaning or a wrong one, it’s going to be difficult to grasp the topic of which they treat. a person may have a quantity of sulphur, charcoal, and nitre, but it’s not until he learns their properties and combinations that he can make gunpowder. allow us to then adopt a careful and independent course of reasoning, resolved to poke into nothing we don’t understand, and to use no words until we all know their meaning.
A complex idea may be a combination of several simple ones, as a tree is formed from roots, a trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves. And these again could also be divided into the wood, the bark, the sap, &c. Or we may employ the botanical terms, and enumerate its external and internal parts and qualities; the entire anatomy and physiology, also as variety and history of trees of that species, and show its characteristic distinctions; for the mind receives a special impression on watching a maple, a birch, a poplar, a tamarisk, a sycamore, or hemlock. during this way complex ideas are formed, distinct in their parts, but blended during a common whole; and, in conformity with the law regulating language, words, sounds or signs, are employed to precise the complex whole, or each distinctive part. an equivalent could also be said of all things of like character. But this concept i will be able to illustrate more at large before the close of this lecture.
First impressions are produced by a view of fabric things, as we’ve already seen; and therefore the notion of action is obtained from a knowledge of the changes this stuff undergo. the thought of quality and definition is produced against this and comparison. Children soon learn the difference between a sweet apple and a sour one, a white rose and a red one, a tough seat and a soft one, harmonious sounds and people that are discordant, a pleasing smell and one that’s disagreeable. because the mind advances, the appliance is varied, and that they speak of a sweet rose, changing from taste and sight to smell, of a sweet song, of a tough apple, &c.
According to the qualities thus learned, you’ll ask them intelligibly of the sweetness of an apple, the colour of a rose, the hardness of iron, the harmony of sounds, the smell or scent of things which possess that quality. As these agree or afflict their comfort, they’re going to call them good or bad, and speak of the qualities of goodness and badness, as if possessed by the thing itself.