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tion, association, &c. and the various faculties of the mind, to which those affections of our sensations and ideas give rise, as memory, judge ment, volition, the pasions, &c. will admit of a satisfactory illustration on the principles of vibration, which is an affection of a material substance. I, therefore, admit of no argument for the spirituality of the soul, from the consideration of the exquisiteness, subtlety, or complexness of the mental powers, on which much stress has been laid by some; there being in matter a capacity for affections as subtle and complex as any thing that we can affirm concerning those that have hitherto been called mental affe&tions. I consider Hartley's Theory of the Mind, as a practical answer to all objections of this kind.
From abstract Ideas.
“ Matter,” says Mr. Wollaston *, “ can "" never, by itself, entertain abstracted, or ge“ neral ideas, such as many in our minds are. “For could it reflect upon what passes within " itself, it could possibly find there nothing " but material and particular impressions. " Abstract and metaphysical ideas could not “ be found upon
But Mr. Locke, and others, have observed, that all actual ideas are, in fact, particular, and that abstraction is nothing more than
* P. 357.
leaving leaving out of a number of resembling ideas, what is peculiar to each, and considering only what is common to them all.
OBJECTION III. From the Influence of
Mr. Wollaston argues, that the mind cannot be material, because it is influenced by reasons. “ When I begin to move myself, fays he *, “ I do it for some reason, and with “' respect to fome end.-But who can imagine “ matter to be moved by arguments, or “ ever ranked fyllogisms and demonstrations “ among levers and pullies ?-Do we not s fee, in conversation, how a pleasant thing “ will make people break out into laughter, “ a rude thing into a passion, and so on. " These affections cannot be the physical efs6 fects of the words spoken, because then " they would have the fame effect, whether " they were understood or not. It is, there“fore, the sense of the words, which is an “ immaterial thing, that by passing through So the understanding, and causing that which " is the fubject of the intellectual faculties to 5's influence the body, produces those motions " in the spirits, blood, and muscles."
I answer, that, since it is a fact, that reaSons, whatever they be, do ultimately move matter, there is certainly much less difficulty
* P. 355.
isi conceiving that they may do this, in consequence of their being the affection of some material substance, than upon the hypothesis of their belonging to a substance that has no common property with matter. It is acknowledged, that syllogisms and demonstrations are not levers and pullies, but neither are the effects of gun-powder, in removing the heaviest bodies, produced by levers and pullies, and yet they are produced by a material cause. To say that reasons and ideas are not things material, or the affections of a material substance, is to take for granted the very thing to be proved.
OBJECTION IV. From the Unity of Cone
It is asserted, that the soul of man cannot be material and divisible, because the principle of consciousness, which comprehends the whole of the thinking power, is necessarily simple, and indivisible. But before this can be admitted as any argument, it should be strictly defined what unity of consciousness means. Í profess, that those who have hitherto written about it, have given me no clear ideas upon the subject. The only meaning that I can annex to the words unity of consciousness, is a feeling or perception of the unity of my nature, or being ; but all that can be inferred from this is, that I am only one person, one fen
tient and thinking being ; and not two persons, or two sentient or thinking beings; which is no more an argument that this one sentient being cannot be divided, than that a Sphere, being one thing, is a proof that it likewise consists of indivisible materials. It is true, that it is impossible to divide a sphere so as to make it two spheres; but still the matter of which it consists is, strictly speaking, divisible, and the matter of it may be so difunited, that it shall intirely cease to be a sphere. So, though that system of intelligence, which we call the foul of a man, cannot be divided into two systems of intelligence, it may be so divided, or diffolved, as to become no system of intelligence at all. If any person can define unity of consciousness in a manner more favourable to the proof of the immateriality of the soul, I shall be glad to hear it, and to attend to it.
;. It is said to be a decisive argument against materialism, that the consciousness of existence cannot be annexed to the whole brain, as a system, while the individual particles of which it consists are separately inconscious; since the whole brain, being a collection of parts, can
not possess any thing but what is derived from them *.
But surely there may be a separate unity of the whole nervous system, as well as of one atom; and if the perception that we call consciousness, or that of any other complex idea, necessarily consists in,' or depends upon, a very complex vibration, it cannot possibly belong to a single atom, but must belong to a vibrating system, of some extent.
A certain quantity of nervous system is necessary to such complex ideas and affections as belong to the human mind; and the idea of self, or the feeling that corresponds to the pronoun I (which is what some may mean by consciousness) is not effentially different from other complex ideas, that of our country, for instance. This is a term by which we denote a part of the world subject to that form of government, by the laws of which we ourselves are bound, as distinguished from other countries, subject to other political systems of government; and the term self denotes that substance, which is the seat of that particular set of sensations and ideas, of which those that are then recollected make a part, as distinguished from other substances, which are the seat of similar sets of sensations and ideas. But it may be necellary to conlider this objection, with respect to the faculty of simple perception, exclusive of the general feeling of consciousness. * See Letters on Materialisin, p. 67. . I 3