« ZurückWeiter »
only the actual presence of an object, that tranfports it with a fuperior vivacity. When I am a few miles from home, whatever relates to it touches me more nearly than when I am two hundred leagues diftant, though even at that distance the reflecting on any thing in the neighbourhood of my friends or family naturally produces an idea of them. But as in this latter case, both the objects of the mind are ideas; notwithstanding there is an easy transition between them; that transition alone is not able to give a superior vivacity to any of the ideas for want of some immediate impression *.
No one can doubt but caufation has the same influence as the other two relations of resemblance and contiguity. Superftitious people are fond of the reliques of saints and holy men, for the fame reason that they seek after types or images, in order to enliven their devotion, and give them a more intimate and strong conception of those exemplary lives which they desire to imitate. Now it is evident, that one of the best reliques which a devotee could procure, would be the handywork of a faint ; and if his cloaths and furniture are ever to be considered in this light, it is because they were once at his disposal, and were moved and affected by him; in which respect they are to be considered as imperfect effects, and as connected with him by a
shorter * “ Naturane rrobis, inquit, datum dicam, an errore quodam, ut, (i cùm ea loca videamus, in quibus memoria dignos viros acceperimus “ multum esse versatos, magis moveamur, quàm fiquando eorum “ ipforum aut facta andiamus aut fcriptum aliquod legamus? Velut
ego nunc moveor. Venit enim mihi Platonis in mentem, quem " accepimus primum hic difputare folitum: Cujus etiam illi hortuli “propinqui non memoriam folùm mihi afferunt, fed ipfum videntur “ in conspectu mieo hic ponere. Hic SPEUSIPPUS, hic XENOCRA« TES, hic ejus auditor Polemo; cujus ipfa illa sessio fuit, quam “ videamus. Equidem etiam curiam noftram Hostiliam dico, non “ hanc novam, quæ mihi minor esse videtur poftquam est major, fo« lebam intuens, SCIPIONEM, CATONEM, Lælium, noftrum verò “in primis avum cogitare. Tanta vis admonitionis eft in locis ; ut “ non fine caufa ex his memoriæ deducta fit disciplina." CICRR de Finibus. Lib. V.
fhorter chain of confequences, than any of thofe by which we learn the reality of his existence.
Suppose that the fon of a friend, who had been long dead or absent, were presented to us; it is evident, that this object would instantly revive its correlative idea, and recal to our thoughts all paft intimacies and familiarities, in more lively colours than they would otherwise have appeared to us.
This is another phænomenon, which seems to prove the principle above mentioned.
We may observe, that, in these phænomena, the belief of the correlative object is always prefuppofed; without which the relation could have no effect. The inffuence of the picture supposes, that we believe our friend to have once exifted. Contiguity to home can never excite our ideas of brome, unless we believe that it really exists. Now I affert, that this belief, where it reaches beyond the memory or fenses, is of a similar nature, and arises from similar causes, with the transition of thought and vivacity of conception here explained. When I throw a piece of dry wood into a fire, my mind is immediately carried to conceive, that it augments, not extinguishes, the flame. This transition of thought from the cause to the effect proceeds not from reason. It derives its origin altogether from custom and experience. And as it first begins from an object, present to the senses, it renders the idea or conception of flame more strong and lively than any loose, floating reverie of the imagination. That idea arises immediately. The thought moves instantly towards it, and conveys to it all that force of conception which is derived from the impression present to the senses. When a sword is levelled at my breast, does not the idea of wound and pain strike me more strongly, than when a glass of wine is presented to me, even though by accident this idea should occur after the appearance of the latter object? But what is there in this whole matter
to cause such a strong conception, except only a present object and a customary transition to the idea of another object, which we have been accustomed to conjoin with the former? This is the whole operation of the mind, in all our conclusions concerning matter of fact and existence; and it is a satisfaction to find some analogies, by which it may be explained. The transition from a present object does in all cases give strength and folidity to the related idea.
Here, then, is a kind of pre-established harmony between the course of nature and the succession of our ideas; and though the powers and forces, by which the former is governed, be wholly unknown to us; yet our thoughts and conceptions have still, we find, gone on in the same train with the other works of nature. Custom is that principle by which this correspondence has been effected; fo necessary to the subsistence of our species, and the regulation of our conduct, in every circumstance and occurrence of human life. Had not the presence of an object instantly excited the idea of those objects commonly conjoined with it, all our knowledge must have been limited to the narrow sphere of our memory and senses; and we should never have been able to adjust means to ends, or employ our natural powers, either to the producing of good, or avoiding of evil. Those who delight in the discovery and comtemplation of final causes, have here ample subject to employ their wonder and admiration.
I shall add, for a further confirmation of the foregoing theory, that, as this operation of the mind, by which we infer like effects from like causes, and vice versa, is so essential to the subsistence of all human creatures, it is not probable, that it could be trusted to the fallacious deductions of our reason, which is now in its operations; appears not, in any degree, during the first years of infancy; and at best is, in every age and period of human life,
extremely liable to error and mistake. It is more conformable to the ordinary wisdom of nature to secure fo necessary an act of the mind, by some inItinct or mechanical tendency, which may be infallible in its operations, may discover itself at the first appearance of life and thought, and may be independent of all the laboured deductions of the understanding. As nature has taught us the use of our limbs, without giving us the knowledge of the muf. cles and nerves by which they are actuated; so has the implanted in us an instinct, which carries forward the thought in a correfpondent course to that which she has established among external objects; though we are ignorant of those powers and forces on which this regular course and succession of objects totally depends.
HOUGH there be no such thing as Chance in
the world, our ignorance of the real cause of any event has the same influence on the understand. ing, and begets a like species of belief or opir.on.
There is certainly a probability, which arises from a superiority of chances on any fide; and according VOL. II.
as * Mr Locke divides all arguments into demonftrative and probable. In this view, we must say, that it is only probable all men muft die, or that the sun will rise to-morrow. But to conform our language more to common use, we ought to divide arguments into demonftrations, proofs, and probabilities. By proofs, meaning fuch arguments from experience as leave no room for doubt or oppo. sition.
as this superiority encreases, and furpasses the oppofite chances, the probability receives a proportionable encrease, and begets still a higher degree of belief or afsent to that fide in which we discover the supe. riority. If a dye were marked with one figure of number of spots on four fides, and with another figure or number of spots on the two remaining sides, it would be more probable, that the former would turn up than the latter; though, if it had a thoufand fides marked in the same manner, and only one fide different, the probability would be much higher, and our belief or expectation of the event more steady and secure. This process of the thought or reafoning may seem trivial and obvious; but to thofe who consider it more narrowly, it may, perhaps, afford matter for curious speculation.
It seems evident, that, when the mind looks forward to discover the event, which may result from the throw of such a dye, it considers the turning up of each particular fide as alike probable; and this is the very nature of chance, to render all the particular events, comprehended in it, entively equal. But finding a greater number of fides concur in the öne event than in the other, the mind is carried more frequently to that event, and meets it oftener, in revolving the various possibilities or chances, on which the ultimate result depends. This concurrence of several views in one particular event begets immediately, by an inexplicable contrivance of nature, the sentiment of belief, and gives that event the advantage over its antagonist, which is supported by a smaller number of views, and recurs less frequently to the mind. If we allow, that belief is nothing but a firmer and stronger conception of an object than what attends the mere fictions of the imagination, this operation may, perhaps, in some measure, be accounted for. The concurrence of these several views or glimpses imprints the idea more strongly on the imagination; gives it superior