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In his Inquiry into the Human Mind, (ch. ii., § vii.,) he speaks of certain notions (for instance, those of existence, mind, person, &c.) as the “judgments of nature, judg. ments not got by comparing ideas, and perceiving agreements and disagreements, but immediately inspired by our constitution.” Pursuing this train of thought, he ascribes those notions which cannot be attributed directly to the senses on the one hand, nor to the reasoning power on the other, to an internal or mental Suggestion, as follows.—“I beg leave to make use of the word SUGGESTION, because I know not one more proper, to express a power of the mind which seems entirely to have escaped the notice of philosophers, and to which we owe many of our simple notions.”
Nr. Stewart also, in his Philosophical Essays, speaks of certain mental phenomena as attendant upon the objects of our consciousness, and as SUGGESTED by them. The notions of time, number, motion, memory, sameness, personal identity, present existence, &c., he ascribes neither to the external world on the one hand, nor the internal mental operations, of which we are conscious, on the other; except so far as they are the occasions on which the mind brings them out, or SUGGESTS them from its own inherent energy.
Of the notion of DURATION, for instance, he would say, I do not see it, nor hear it, nor feel it, nor become acquainted with it by means of any other of the senses; nor am I conscious of it, as I am of pelieving, reasoning, imagining, &c., but it is SUGGESTED by the mind itself; it is an intimation absolutely essential o the mind's nature and action.
1 109. Ideas of existence, mind, self-existence, and personal identity.
We shall now mention a few ideas which have this origin, without undertaking to give a complete enumeration of them. (I.) EXISTENCE. Among the various notions, the origin of which naturally requires to be considered under the head of Suggestion, is that of Existence. What existence is in itself, (that is to say, independently of any existent being, it would be useless to inquire. Using the word as expressive of a mental state, it is the name of a purely simple idea, and cannot be defined. The history of its rise is briefly this. Such is our nature that we cannot exist, without having the notion of existence. So that the origin of the idea of existence is inseparable from the mere fact, that we have a percipient and sentient nature. An insentient being may exist without have ing any such idea. But man, being constituted with powers of perception, cannot help perceiving that he is what he is. If we think, then there is something which has this capability of thought; if we feel, then there is not only the mere act of feeling, but something also which puts forth the act.
(II.) MIND. The origin of the notion of Mind is sim ilar to that of existence. Neither of them can be strictly and properly referred to the senses. We do not set the mind, nor is it an object of touch, or of taste, or of any other sense. Nor, on the other hand, is the notion of mind a direct object of the memory, or of reasoning, or of imagination. The notion arises naturally, or is SUGGESTED from the mere fact that the mind actually exists, and is susceptible of various feelings and operations.
-The same may be said of all the distinct powers of the mind, such as the power of perception, of memory, of association, of imagination, of the will; not of the acts or exercises of these powers, it will be noticed, but of the powers themselves. That is to say, they are made known to us, considered abstractly and as distinct subjects of thought, not by direct perception, either inward or outward, but by spontaneity or suggestion. We say, not by direct perception, because there is something intermediate between the power and the knowledge of it, viz., the act or exercise of the power, which is the occasion of the knowledge of the power itself. The principle of Original Suggestion, availing itself of this occasion, gives us a knowledge of the distinct susceptibilities of the mind, just as it does of the mind as a whole.
(HII.) Similar remarks, as far as spontaneity is con cerned, will apply to the notions (whether we conside: them as simple or complex) of SELF-EXISTENCE and PFR
At the very earliest period they flow out, as it were, from the mind itself; not resulting from any prolonged and laborious process, hut freely and spon
taneously suggested by it. This is so true, that no one is able to designate either the precise time or the precise circumstances under which they originate; for they spring into being under all circumstances. We cannot look, or touch, or breathe, or move, or think without them. These are products of our mental nature too essential and important to be withheld, or to be given only on rare and doubtful occasions; but are brought into existence in all times and places, and under all the varieties of action and feeling.
À 110. Of the nature of unity, and the origin of that notion. Another important notion, properly entitled to a consideration here, is that of UNITY. We shall decline attempting to explain the nature of unity, for the simple reason that nothing is more easy to be understood; every child knows what is meant by One. And how can we explain it, if we would? We can explain a hundred by * resolving it into parts; we can explain fifty or a score by making a like separation of the whole number into the subordinate portions of which it is made up; but when we arrive at unity, we must stop, and can go no further.
It is true, attempts have been made to define it; but, like many other such attempts, they have proved futile. Unity has been called a thing indivisible in itself, and divided from everything else. But this makes us no wiser. Is it anything more than to say that the unity of an object is its indivisibility ? Or, in other words, that its unity is its unity?
As the idea of unity is one of the simplest, so it is one of the earliest notions which men have. It originates in the same way;
and very nearly at the same time, with the notions of existence, self-existence, personal identity, and the like. When a man has a notion of himself, he evidently does not think of himself as two, three, or a dozen inen, but as one. As soon as he is able to think of himself as distinct from his neighbour, as soon as he is in no danger of mingling and confounding his own identity with that of the multitude around him, so soon does he form the notion of unity. It exists as distinct in his
mind as the idea of his own existence does; and arisen there immediately successive to that idea, because it is impossible, in the nature of things, that he should have a notion of himself as a twofold or divided person.
Unity is the fundamental element of all enumeration. By the repetition or adding of this element, we are able to form numbers to any extent. These numbers may be combined among themselves, and employed merely as expressive of mutual relations, or we may apply them, if we choose, to all external objects whatever, to which we are able to give a common name. $ 111. Nature of succession, and origin of the idea of succession.
Another of those conceptions which naturally offer dhemselves to our notice here, is that of SUCCESSION. This term (when we inquire what succession is in itself) is one of general application, expressive of a mode of existence rather than of existence itself; and in its appli. cation to mind in particular, expressive of a condition of the mind's action, but not of the action itself, which that condition regulates. It is certainly a fact too well known to require comment, that our minds exist at different periods in successive states; that our thoughts and feelings, in obedience to a permanent law, follow each other in a train. This is the simple fact. And the fact of such succession, whenever it takes place, forms the occasion on which the 'notion or idea of succession is sugGESTED to the mind. Being a simple mental state, it is not susceptible of definition; yet every man possesses it, and every one is rightly supposed to understand its nature.
Accordingly, it is not necessary to refer the origin of this idea to anything external. It is certain, that the sense of smell cannot directly give us the idea of succession, nor the sense of taste, nor of touch. And we well know that the deaf and dumb possess it not less than others. The blind also, who have never seen the face of heaven, nor beheld that sun and moon which measure out for us days, and months, and years, have the notion of succession. They feel, they think, they reason, at least in some small degree, like other men; and it is im
possible that they should be without it. The o:
gin, therefore, of this notion is within; it is the unfailing re sult of the inward operation to call it forth, however true it may be, that it is subsequently applied to outward objects and events.
Ø 112. Origin of the notion of duration. There is usually understood to be a distinction between the idea of succession and that of duration, though nei. ther can be defined. The idea of succession is supposed to be antecedent in point of time to that of duration (we speak now of succession and duration relatively to our conception of them, and not in themselves considered.) Duration must be supposed to exist antecedently to succession in the order of nature ; but succession is the form in which it is made to apply to men; and is, therefore, naturally the occasion on which the idea of it arises in men's minds. Having the notion of succession, and that of personal or self-existence, a foundation is laid for the additional conception of permanency or duration ; in other words, it naturally arises in the mind, or is suggested under these circuinstances.
As we cannot, according to this view of its origin, have the notion of duration without succession, hence it happens that we know nothing of duration when we are perfectly asleep, because we are not then conscious of those intellectual changes which are involved in succession. If a person could sleep with a perfect suspension of all his mental operations from this time until the resurrection, the whole of that period would appear tc him as nothing. Ten thousand years passed under such circumstances would be less than a few days, or sven hours.
$ 113. Illustrations of the nature of duration. That the notion of succession (we do not say successiun itself, but only our notion or idea of it) is antecedent to, and is essential to that of duration, is in some measure proved by various facts. There are on record a number of cases of remarkable somnolency, in which persons have slept for weeks and even months. One of the most