Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]






1. Some objects produce immediately an agreeable sensation, by the original structure of our organs, and are thence denominated Good; as others, from their immediate disagreeable sensation, acquire the appellation of Evil. Thus moderate warmth is agreeable and good ; excessive heat painful and evil.

Some objects again, by being naturally conformable or contrary to passion, excite an agreeable or painful sensation ; and are thence called Good or Evil. The punishment of an adversary, by gratifying revenge, is good ; the sickness of a companion, by affecting friendship, is evil.

2. All good or evil, whence-ever it arises, produces various passions and affections, according to the light in which it is surveyed."

When good is certain or very probable, it produces

Jor: When evil is in the same situation, there arises GRIEF or Sorrow.

When either good or evil is uncertain, it gives rise to Fear or Hope, according to the degree of uncertain. ty on one side or the other.

DESIRE arises from good considered simply; and A. VERSION, from evil. The WILL exerts itself, when ei. ther the presence of the good, or absence of the evil, may be attained by any action of the mind or body.

3. None of these passions seem to contain any thing curious or remarkable, except Hope and Fear, which, being derived from the probability of any good or evil, are mixed passions, that merit our attention.

Probability arises from an opposition of contrary chances or causes, by which the mind is not allowed to fix on either side ; but is incessantly tossed from one to another, and is determined, one moment to consider an object as existent, and another moment as the contrary. The imagination or understanding, call it which you please, fuctuates between the opposite views; and though perhaps it may be oftener turned to one side than the other, it is impossible for it, by reason of the opposition of causes or chances, to rest on either. The pro and con of the question alternately prevail ; and the inind, surveying the objects in their opposite .causes, finds such a contrariety as destroys all certainty or established opinion.

Suppose, then, that the object, concerning which we are doubtful, produces either desire or aversion; it is evident, that, according as the mind turns itself to one side or the other, it must feel a momentary impression of joy or sorrow. An object, whose existence we desire, gives satisfaction, when we think of those causes which produce it; and for the same reason, excites grief or un

easiness from the opposite consideratión. So that, as the understanding, in probable questions, is divided between the contrary points of view, the heart must in the same manner be divided between opposite motions.

Now, if we consider the human mind; we shall observe, that with regard to the passions; it is not like a wind instrument of music, which, in running over all the notes, immediately loses the sound when the breath ceases ; but rather resembles a string-instrument, where, after each stroke, the vibrations still retain some sound, which gradually and insensibly decays. The imagination is extremely quick and agile ; but the passions, in comparison, are slow and restive: For which reason, when any object is presented, which affords a variety of views to the one and emotions to the other ; though the fancy may change its views with great celerity ; each stroke will not produce a clear and distinct note of passion, but the one passion will always be mixed and confounded with the other. According as the probability inclines to good or evil, the passion of grief or joy predominates in the composition; and these passions being intermingled by means of the contrary views of the imagination, produce by the union the passions of hope and fear.

4. As this theory seems to carry its own evidence along with it; we shall be more concise in our proofs.

The passions of fear and hope may arise when the chances are equal on both sides, and no superiority can be discovered in one above the other. Nay, in this situ. ation, the passions are rather the strongest, as the mind has then the least foundation to rest upon, and is tost with the greatest uncertainty. Throw in a superior degree of probability to the side of grief, you immediately

Vol. II.

[ocr errors]

see that passion diffuse itself over the composition, and tincture it into fear. Increase the probability, and by that means the grief; the fear prevails still more and more, 'till at last it runs insensibly, as the joy continually diminishes, into pure grief. After you have brought it to this situation, diminish the grief, by a contrary operation to that which increased it, to wit, by diminishing the probability on the melancholy side ;, and you will see the passion clear every moment, 'till it changes insensibly into hope ; which again runs, by slow degrees, into joy, as you increase that part of the composition, by the increase of the probability. Are not these as plain proofs, that the passions of fear and hope are mixtures of grief and joy, as in optics it is a proof, that a coloured ray of the sun, passing through a prism, is a composition of two others, when, as you diminish or increase the quantity of either, you find it prevail proportionably, more or less, in the composition ? Einir

, 5. Probability is of two kinds ; either when the ob. ject is itself uncertain, and to be determined by chance ; or when, though the object be already certain, yet it is uncertain to our judgment, which finds a number of proofs or presumptions on each side of the question. Both these kinds of probability cause fear and hope ; which must proceed from that property, in which they agree ; namely, the uncertainty and fluctuation which they bestow on the passion, by that contrariety of views, which is common to both.

6. It is a probable good or evil, which commonly causes hope or fear ; because probability, producing an inconstant and wavering survey of an object, occasions naturally a like mixture and uncertainty of passion. But we may observe, that, wherever, from other causes

« ZurückWeiter »