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RELATION OF THE INTELLECT TO THE SENSIBILITIES.
§ 1. Reference to the general division of the whole mind. It will be recollected that we proposed, as the basis of our inquiries, the general division of the mind into the Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will. These great departments of the mind are not only generically distinct, but the difference between them is so clear and marked, it is surprising they should have been so often confounded together. They are not only different in their nature, a fact which is clearly ascertained by Consciousness, in its cognizance of their respective acts, but are separated from each other, as all observation shows, by the relations which they respectively sustain. The Intellect or Understanding comes first in order, and furnishes the basis of action to the other great departments of the mind. It is this portion of the mind which we have endeavoured to examine, and which we are now about to leave for the purpose of advancing into departments of our mental nature, which, considered in reference to the Intellect, may be regarded as more remote and interior.
În examining the INTELLECT, we were aided by adopting the classification, founded in nature, into intellectual states of External origin, and intellectual states of Internal origin. A classification which seems sufficiently to authorize the expressions External Intellect and Internal Intellect; expressions founded on the fact that the intellectual action sometimes takes place in direct connexion with outward objects, and sometimes independently of such connexion. This distinction is important in enabling us to get a true idea of the intellect itself and in suggesting the best methods of cultivating and applying our perceptive powers; but, considered in relation to the Sensibilities, is perhaps of less consequence. In both of its great departments alike, as also in its more subordinate modes of action, the Intellect furnishes the broad and deep foundation for that vast variety of mental states which are commonly included under the denomination of the emotions and passions.
Ø 2. Difference between intellections or states of the intellect, and
sentiments or states of the sensibility. In advancing into what we assert to be a different part of our spiritual being, we are aware that some inay be disposed to inquire whether the assertion of such difference, notwithstanding the general remarks of the last section, is well founded; whether, in other words, there is such a marked line of distinction between the intellectual and sensitive nature as to authorize our speaking of them as distinct and different mental departments. We do not propose, however, nor does it appear necessary, to into this topic here, any further than to refer briefly to what has already been said upon it on a former occasion. In the chapter in the Introduction to the first volume, the object of which was to ascertain the outlines of a General Classification, we attempted to show the difference between the intellect and the sensibilities, between intellections and sentiments or sensitive states of the mind, by a reference to consciousness, to the terms found in different languages, to the incidental remarks frequently found in English writers, besides the more direct and specific testimony of those who have written professedly on the mind. That this distinction is involved, wholly or almost without an exception, in the structure of languages, is a well-known fact; and that it is commonly made by the leading writers on the philosophy of the mind, is no less undeniable. Not only this, it finds its way incidentally into the remarks of writers (and, such is the nature of their convictions, it cannot well be otherwise) who were writing upon other subjects, and who, at the time, were far from being aware that they were enunciating, either directly or indirectly, any
doctrines of mental philosophy. The following passage of Southey, in addition to those already quoted, will illustrate what we mean; involving, like the others, not only a distinction between the Understanding and the Heart, but separating both from the Will. "Believing in them (the Prophets and the Evangelists] with a calm and settled faith, with that consent of the will, and HEART, and UNDERSTANDING which constitutes religious belief, I find in them the clear annunciation of the kingdom of God
earth.” But on a question of this kind we must rest ultimately, and it is presumed we can do it in this case with entire confidence, on the testimony of Consciousness. In a multitude of cases we are obliged to rely upon knowledge from this source; and certainly, on no subject whatever, is its testimony more clear than in respect to the acts of the intellect and the acts of the heart. When we have perceptions, when we think, we know the existence of such perceptions or thought to be one thing; when we have emotions and desires, we know the existence of such emotions and desires to be another thing; and we have an internal conviction, strong as any conviction can well be, that there is no possibility in ordinary cases of confounding them together.
03. Action of the sensibilities implies that of the intellect. As a general thing, there is and can be no movement of the sensibilities, no such thing as an emotion, desire, or feeling of moral obligation, without an antecedent action of the intellect. If we are pleased or displeased, there is necessarily before the mind some object of pleasute or displeasure; if we exercise the feeling of desire, there must necessarily be some object desired, which is made known to us by an action of the intellect. So that if there were no intellect, or if the intellectual powers were entirely dormant and inactive, there would be no action of the emotive part of our nature and of the passions. -And we may not only say in general terms that the action of the sensibilities implies the antecedent action of the intellect, but may even assert more specifically (ma* Southey's Progress of Society, Colloquy ii.
king allowance for those constitutional differences which pervade every part of the mental structure), that the activity of the sensibilities will be nearly in proportion to that of the intellect. In other words, on all subjects which are calculated to excite any interest at all, those who have the broadest and most satisfactory views will be likely to feel more intensely than others; the sensibilities expanding and exerting themselves in conformity with the expanded and energetic action of the perceptive and cognitive powers.
Ø 4. Importance of the study of the sensibilities. The department of the mind on which we now propose to enter is not only distinct from the other great divisions, having a nature and characteristics of its own, but possesses, we may venture to assert, equal importance and interest. If man had been formed of intellect only, of cold and unimpassioned perceptivity; if he could merely have perceived, compared, associated, and reasoned, without a solitary emotion or desire, without any of the various affections of our nature, without sorrow for suffering or sympathy in joy; in a word, if he had been all head and no heart, the human soul would have shown not only a different, but a depressed and inferior aspect, compared with what it does at present. But, happily and wisely, it is far otherwise. We find him constituted with a sensitive as well as an intellectual nature; with powers of feeling as well as of thought. It is the sensitive part of human nature (including
in the term the moral as well as the natural affections) which Socrates, if we may rely on the doctrines and conversations that are handed down to us, particularly turned his attention to, and on account of which he was pronounced by the Oracle the wisest of all men living It is here that we are let into the secrets of men's actions. It is in this department of the mind we find the causes which render them restless and inquisitive, which prompt to efforts both good and evil, and make the wide world a theatre, where vice and virtue, hope and fear, and joy and suffering, mingle in perpetual conflict.
Much is said, and with a good deal of truth, of the value of a knowledge of human nature; a species of knowledge which is useful to all persons, and in many situations is clearly indispensable; but this knowledge, to any available extent, can never be supposed to exist separate from an acquaintance with that portion of our nature which we now propose to investigate. A knowledge of human nature, in the common apprehension of the phrase, does not so much imply a knowledge of the powers of perception and reasoning as a knowledge of the springs of action, back of the intellect, which, in the shape of the emotions and passions, give an impulse and a character to the conduct both of individuals and communities. In other words, a knowledge of human nature is essentially a knowledge of the HEART; a term by which men commonly distinguish the sensitive from the intellectual nature; and, consequently, all the value, and it is by no means inconsiderable, which pertains to the study of human nature, attaches equally to the interesting inquiries now before us.
§ 5. Difficulties attending the prosecution of this study. But while we may properly and very justly maintain that no series of topics in the whole range of mental philosophy is either more fitted or more worthy to secure and interest the attention than those now before us, it cannot be denied that the discussion of them is attended with some difficulties, which do not perplex, certainly not in an equal degree, the examination of other parts of the mind. The perplexity to which we now refer will be better understood if we reflect a moment on the distinctive nature of the sensibilities. It is well known that the sensibilities, in their more decided action, are characterized by a sort of excitement, a stirring and breaking up of the inward depths, an agitation of the otherwise calm surface of the soul. It is this trait, so familiar to our consciousness, though difficult to be imbodied in language, to which we refer, and which undoubtedly characterizes the action of some portion of the sensibilities more than of others. The term PASSIONS is frequently employed to express that portion in particular.
Now it is the business of philosophy to give an accurate