« AnteriorContinuar »
possessing one or the other of these five characters had passed through the mind as intermediate links, sufficiently clear to recall other parts of the same total impressions with which they had co-existed, though not vivid enough to excite that degree of attention which is requisite for distinct recollection, or as we may aptly express it, after consciousness.96 In association, then, consists the whole mechanism of the reproduction of impressions, in the Aristotelian Psychology. It is the universal law of the passive fancy and mechanical memory; that which supplies to all other faculties their objects, to all thought the elements of its materials.
In consulting the excellent commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Parva Naturalia of Aristotle, I was struck at once with its close resemblance to Hume's Essay on Association. The main thoughts were the same in both, the order of the thoughts was the same, and even the illustrations differed only by Hume's occasional substitution of more modern examples. I mentioned the circumstance to several of my literary acquaintances, who admitted the closeness of the resemblance, and that it seemed too great to be explained by mere coincidence; but they thought it improbable that Hume should have held the pages of the Angelic Doctor worth turning over.
But some time after Mr. Payne showed Sir James Mackintosh some odd volumes of St. Thomas Aquinas, partly perhaps from having heard that he had in his Lectures passed a high encomium on this canonized philosopher ; but chiefly from the fact, that the volumes had belonged to Mr. Hume, and had here and there marginal marks and notes of reference in his own hand-writing. Among these volumes was that which contains the Parva Naturalia, in the old Latin version, swathed and swaddled in the commentary afore mentioned !27
26 [This is set forth at some length by Maasz, whose expositions of the present subject Mr. Coleridge seems to have mixed up in his mind with those of Aristotle. See Versuch über die Einbildungskraft, p. 27. S. C.]
27 [This Commentary of Aquinas is contained in the third volume of the edition of his works, printed at Venice, in 1593-4, and in the Antwerp edition of 1612, end of tom. iii. It surrounds two translations of the text, one of which is the Antiqua Translatio.
When Mr. C. spoke of “ Hume's Essay on Association,” as closel.
It remains then for me, first to state wherein Hartley differs from Aristotle ; then, to exhibit the grounds of my conviction, that he differed only to err; and next as the result, to show, by
sembling it, he must have had in his mind, not merely the short section on the Association of Ideas, but generally whatever relates to the subject in the Inquiry concerning Human Understanding, from sections ii. to vii. inclusively. The similar thoughts and ancient illustrations are to be found in that part of the commentary which belongs to the treatise De Memoria et Reminiscentia (the second of the Parva Naturalia), particularly in sections v. and vi., pp. 25-6 of the Antwerp edit.
There the principles of connexion amongst ideas, and “the method and regularity” with which they present themselves to the mind, are set forth at some length, for the purpose of explaining the nature of memory and describing our mental processes in voluntary recollection and unintentional remembrance. I think, however, that the likeness to Hume's treatise, wherein Association of Ideas is subordinate and introductory to another speculation, which it was the author's principal aim to bring forward, may have been somewhat magnified in Mr. C.'s mind from the circumstance, that the commentary, in addition to what it sets forth on connexions of ideas, dwells much on certain other topics which are dwelt upon also in the Inquiry-as, the influence of custom in producing mental habits and becoming a sort of second nature; the liveliness and force of phantasmata, or images impressed on the mind by sensible things; and the distinctness and orderliness of mathematical theorems. These topics Hume handles somewhat differently from Aquinas, as his drist was different; but it is possible that the older disquisition may have suggested his thoughts on these points, though it cannot have exactly formed them.
It is rather remarkable, if Hume had indeed read this commentary before composing his own work, that he should have expressed himself thus at p. 22.-" Though it be too obvious to escape observation, that different ideas are connected together, I do not find that any philosopher has attempted to enumerate or class all the principles of Association, a subject, however, that seems worthy of curiosity.” Aquinas, in the commentary, does certainly attempt to enumerate them, though he does not classify them exactly as Hume and other modern philosophers have done. He does not make Cause and Effect a principle of Association over and above Contiguity in Time and Place; and he mentions, as a separate influence, direct Dissimilarity or Contrast, which Hume refers to Causation and Resemblance, as a mixture of the two: in both which particulars he does but follow the leading of his text.
I will just add that in commenting on two sentences of Aristotle, quoted in a former note,-explaining why some men remember, and some things are remembered, better than others, under similar circumstances of association,-Aquinas observes, that this may happen through closer attention
what influences of the choice and judgment the associative power becomes either memory or fancy; and, in conclusion, to appropriate the remaining offices of the mind to the reason, and the
and profounder knowledge, because whatever we most earnestly attend to remains most firmly impressed on the memory; and again, in accounting for false and imperfect remembrance, he states the converse fact, that by distraction of the imagination the mental impression is weakened. Lects. v. a. and vi. h. These remarks tend the same way with those in the Biographia, towards the end of chap. vii., concerning the superior vividness of certain parts of a total impression, and the power of the will to give vividness to any object whatsoever by intensifying the attention. Mr. Coleridge's aim was to show that these agents or occasioning causes of particular thoughts which have been specified, are themselves subject to a deeper law,—to the determination of the will, reason, judgment, understanding. S. C.]
[It was not till the new edition of this work was in the press that I became aware of a note, relating to chapter y, of the B. L. at the end of the Dissertation on the progress of Ethical Philosophy, by Sir J. Mackintosh, in which the author speaks as follows: “I have already acknowledged the striking resemblance of Mr. Hume's principles of association to those of Aristotle.” After showing that the story of Mr. Hume was a mistake, and how the mistake arose, he proceeds to say—“It is certain that . . Aristotle explains recollection as depending on a general law,—that the idea of an object will remind us of the objects which immediately preceded or followed when originally perceived. But what Mr. Coleridge has not told us is, that the Stagyrite confines the application of this law exclusively to the phenomena of recollection alone, without any glimpse of a more general operation extending to all connexions of thought and feeling, -a wonderful proof indeed, even so limited, of the sagacity of the great philosopher, but which for many ages continued barren of further consequences.” Perhaps Mr. C. thought, as Maasz appears to have done, that to discover the associative principle in respect of memory was obviously to discover the general law of mental association, since all connexions of thought and feeling are dependent on memory. It is difficult to conceive a man writing a treatise on Memory and Recollection without hitting on this law of association, by observing the manner in which he hunts in his mind for anything forgotten; but perhaps this remark savors of simplicity, for simple folks, when a truth is once clearly presented to them, can never again so abstract their minds from it as to conceive the possibility of its being unrecognised. “ The illustrations of Aquinas,” Şir James adds, “ throw light on the original doctrine, and show that it was unenlarged in his time, &c.” (Yet Aquinas almost touches the doctrine of Hoboes when he says, reminiscentia håbet similitudinem cujusdam syllogismi, quare sicut in syllogismo perdenitur ad conclusionem ex aliquibus principiis, imagination. With my best efforts to be as perspicuous as the nature of language will permit on such a subject, I earnestly solicit the good wishes and friendly patience of my readers, while I thus go " sounding on my dim and perilous way."
ita etiam in reminiscendo aliquis quodammodo syllogizat, &c.) “ Those of L. Vives, as quoted by Mr. C., extend no further.”
“But if Mr. Coleridge will compare the parts of Hobbes on Human Nature, which relate to this subject, with those which explain general terms, he will perceive that the philosopher of Malmesbury builds on these two foundations a general theory of the human understanding, of which reasoning is only a particular case.” This has already been admitted in note 2. Sir James seems to refer to the whole of chap. v., which begins thus: “Seeing the succession of conceptions in the mind are caused ... by the succession they had one to another when they were produced by the senses," &c. He points out the forgetful statements of Mr. C. respecting the De Methodo, and expresses an opinion that Hobbes* and Hume might each have been unconscious that the doctrine of association was not originally his own. Either I should think had quite sagacity enough to discover it for himself; but the question is whether Hobbes was more sagacious on this part of the subject than any preceding philosopher.
Sir James makes an interesting reply to Mr. C.'s remark that he was unable to bridge over the chasm between their philosophical creeds, which I do not quote only from want of space. That Sir James was one of Mr. C.'s most intelligent readers is undeniable; yet I think it is not quite conclusive against the German doctrines,-either as to their internal character or the mode in which they have been enunciated—that they found no entrance into his mind; or at least 'no welcome there, or entire approval; for are not all new doctrines, even such as are ultimately established, opposed, on their first promulgation, by some of the strongest-headed persons of the age ? S. C.]
* The language of Hobbes has somewhat of a Peripatetical sound, and when he discourses of the motions of the mind, reminds one of the Aristotelian commentator--Causa autem reminiscendi est ordo motuum, qui relinquuntur in anima ex prima impressione ejus, quod primo apprehendimus. Sir James says “the term Onpeów is as significant as if it had been chosen by Hobbes.” This term may have led Hobbes to talk about “ hunting," " tracing," and “ ranging," in the Human Nature.
That Hartley's System, as far as it differs from that of Aristotle, is
neither tenable in Theory, nor founded in Facts.
Of Hartley's hypothetical vibrations in his hypothetical oscillating ether of the nerves," which is the first and most obvious distinction between his system and that of Aristotle, I shall say little. This, with all other similar attempts to render that an object of the sight which has no relation to sight, has been already sufficiently exposed by the younger Reimarus,” Maasz, and others, as outraging the very axioms of mechanics in a scheme, the merit of which consists in its being mechanical." Whether any other philosophy be possible, but the mechanical ; and again, whether the mechanical system can have any claim to be called philosophy; are questions for another place. It is, however, certain, that as long as we deny the former, and affirm the latter, we must bewilder ourselves, whenever we would pierce into the adyta of causation ; and all that laborious conjecture can do, is to fill up the gaps of fancy. Under that despotism of the eye (the emancipation from which Pythagoras by his numeral, and Plato, by his musical, symbols, and both by Geometric discipline, aimed at, as the first #porzídcupa of the mind)—under this strong sensuous influence, we are restless because invisible things are not the objects of vision; and metaphysical systems, for the most part, become popular, not for their truth, but in proportion as they attribute to causes a susceptibility of being seen, if only our visual organs were sufficiently powerful.
From a hundred possible confutations let one suffice. Accord
[Hartley, Observ, on Man, c. 1., s. 1., props. 4 and 5. Ed.] 2 John Albert H. Reimarus. Ed. See Note in the Appendix. S. C.] 3 [See Maasz, pp. 41-2. Ed.]