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our own personal consciousness than on the teachings of others.
Let it be noticed then, in the first place, that a simple idea CANNOT BE SEPARATED INTO PARTS.-It is cleariy implied in the very distinction between simplicity and complexity, considered in relation to the states of the mind, that there can be no such separation, no such division. It is emphatically true of our simple ideas and emotions, and of al other simple states of the mind, that they are one and indivisible. Whenever you can detect in them more than one element, they at once lose their character of simplicity, and are to be regarded as complex, however they may have previously appeared. Inseparableness consequently is their striking characteristic; and it may be added, that they are not only inseparable in themselves, but are separate from everything else. There is nothing which can stand as a substitute for them where they are, or represent them where they are not; they are independent unities, constituted exclusively by the mind itself, having a specific and positive character, but never theless known only in themselves.
0 69. Simple mental states not susceptible of definition. Let it be observed, in the second place, that our simple notions CANNOT BE DEFINED.—This view of them follows necessarily from what has been said of their oneness and inseparableness, compared with what is universally understood by defining. In respect to definitions, it is undoubtedly true, that we sometimes use synonymous words, and call such use a definition; but it is not properly such. In every legitimate definition, the idea which is to be defined is to be separated, as far as may be thought necessary, into its subordinate parts; and these parts are to be presented to the mind for its examination, instead of the original notion into which they entered. This process must be gone through in every
instance of accurate defining; this is the general and authorized view of definition; and it is not easy to see in what else it can well consist.
But this process will not apply to our simple thoughts and feelings, because, if there be any such thing as sim
ple mental states, they are characterized by inseparable ness and oneness. And furthermore, if we define ideas by employing other ideas, we must count upon meeting at last with such as shall be ultimate, and will reject all verbal explanation; otherwise we can never come to an end in the process. So that the simple mental affections are not only undefinable in themselves; but if there were no such elementary states of mind, there could be no defining in any other case; it would be merely analysis upon analysis, a process without completion, and a labour without end; leaving the subject in as much darkness as when the process was begun.
When we speak of simple ideas and feelings, and a person, in consequence of our inability to define them, professes to be ignorant of the terms we use, we can frequently aid him in understanding them by a statement of the circumstances, as far as possible, under which the simple mental state exists. But having done this, we can merely refer him to his own senses and consciousness, as the only teachers from which he can expect to receive satisfaction.
$ 70. Simple mental states representative of a reality. A third mark or characteristic of simple mental states is, that they always stand for or REPRESENT A REALITY. In other words, no simple idea is, in its own nature, delusive or fictitious, but always has something precisely corresponding to it. It is not always so with complex ideas; these, as Mr. Locke justly gives us to understand, are sometimes CHIMERICAL. That is to say; the elements of which they are composed are so brought together and combined as to lorm something, of which nature presents no corresponding reality. If, for instance, a person had an idea of a body, yellow, or of some other colour, malleubl2, fixed; possessing, in a word, all the qualities of iron or of gold, with this difference only, of its being lighter than water, it would be what Mr. Locke terms a CHIMERICAL idea; because the combination of the elements here exists only in the human mind, and not in nature; the thing has no outward or objective reality. The words CENTAUR, DRAGON, and HYPOGRIFF, which are the well
known names for imaginary beings possessing no actua existence, are expressive of chimerial complex ideas These ideas have nothing corresponding to them. But it is not so with the simple states of the mind.
If it were otherwise, since in our inquiries after truth we naturally proceed from what is complex to what is simple, there would be no sure foundation of knowledge. Whenever, in our analysis of a subject, we arrive at truly simple ideas, we have firm footing; there is no mistake, no delusion. Nature, always faithful to her own character, gives utterance to the truth alone. But man, in combining together the elements which nature furnishes, does not always avoid mistakes.
971. Origin of complex notions, and their relation to simple. Our simple states of mind, which we have thus endeav oured to explain, were probably first in origin. There are reasons for considering them as antecedent in point of time to our complex mental states, although in many cases it may
not be easy to trace the progress of the mind from the one to the other. The complex notions of external material objects embrace the separate and simple notions of resistance, extension, hardness, colour, taste, and others. As these elementary perceptions evidently have their origin in distinct and separate senses, it is but reasonable to suppose that they possess a simple, before they are combined together in a complex existence. Simple ideas, therefore, may justly be regarded as antecedent, in point of time, to those which are complex, and as laying the foundation of them.
Hence we see that it is sufficiently near the truth, and that it is not improper, to speak of our complex ideas as derived from, or made up of, simple ideas. This is the well-known language of Mr. Locke on this subject; and when we consider how much foundation there is for it in the constitution and operations of the human mind, there is good reason for retaining it.--Although purely simple states of the mind are few in number, vast multitudes of a complex nature are formed from them. The ability which the mind possesses of originating complex thoughts and feelings from elementary ones, may be compared to
our power of uniting together the letters of the alphabet in the formation of syllables and words.
972. Supposed complexness without the antecedence of simple feelings.
It is possible that some persons may object to the doctrine proposed in the last section, that complex mental states are subsequent in point of time to those which are simple; and may be inclined to adopt the opinion, that some, at least, of our complex notions are framed at once and immediately, whenever an occasion presents itself, and are not necessarily dependent on the prior existence of any other feelings. When the eye, for instance, opens on a wide and diversified landscape, they suppose the whole to be embraced in one complex mental state, the formation of which is not gradual and susceptible of measurement by time, but is truly instantaneous. When we direct our attention to objects of less extent, as a porcrait, a landscape, or historical painting, they imagine it co be still more evident, that the complexity of mind, corresponding to the complexity of the object, is a result without any antecedent process. Without doubt, what has now been said is, in some instances, apparently the case; but this appearance (for we cannot speak of it as anything more than such) is susceptible of an obvious explanation, without an abandonment of the general principle which has been laid down. No one is ignorant that the mind often passes with exceeding rapidity along the successive objects of its contemplation. This rapidity may, in some cases, be so great, that no foundation will be laid for remembrance; and of course, in such cases, the complex feeling has the appearance of being formed without the antecedence of other simple feelings. Often the
eye glances so rapidly over the distinct parts of the portrait, the historical painting, or even the wide landscape, that we are utterly unable in our recollection to detect the successive steps of its progress. There naturally seems, therefore, to be but one view, instead of distinct and successive glances of the mind from hill to hill, from forest to forest, and from one verdant spot to another, prior to the supposed one and instantaneous comprehension of the whole. But there is much reason for saying that this oneness of comprehension is in seeining and appearance only, and not in fact. (See $ 57, 58.)
16+ 73. The precise sense in which coinplexness is to be understood.
But while we distinctly assert the frequent complexness of the mental affections, it should be particularly kept in mind, that they are not to be regarded in the light of a material compound, where the parts, although it may sometimes appear to be otherwise, necessarily possess no higher unity than that of juxtaposition, and, of course, can be literally separated from each other, and then put together again. There is nothing of this kind ; neither putting together nor taking asunder, in this literal and material sense.But if our thoughts and feelings are not made up of others, and are not complex in the material sense of the expressions, what then constitutes their complexness? This inquiry gives occasion for the important remark, that complexness in relation to the mind is not literal, but virtual only. What we term a complex feeling is in itself truly simple, but at the same time it is equal to many others, and is complex only in that sense. Thought after thought, and emotion following emotion, passes through the mind ; and as they are called forth by the operation of the laws of association, many of them necessarily have relation to the same object. Then there follows a new state of mind, which is the result of those previous feelings, and is complex in the sense already explained. That is to say, it is felt by us to possess a virtual equality to those separate antecedent thoughts and emotions. Our simple feelings are like streams coming from different mountains, but meeting and mingling to gether at last in the common centre of some intermediate lake; the tributary fountains are no longer separable; but have disappeared, and become merged and confound ed in the bosom of their commor, resting-place. Or they may be likened to the cents and dimes of the American coinage, tens and hundreds of which are represented by a single EAGLE ; and yet the eagle is not divided into a hundred or thousand parts, but has as much unity as the numerous pieces for which it stands.
The language which expresses the composition and