« ElőzőTovább »
but uniformly over all Egypt; whence probably the religious veneration was imported, and the upper part of which country was denominated Saït, or the region of olives, as were its inhabitants Saïtæ. The colony of Athenians who migrated from Egypt were probably conducted by Cadmus; but they certainly preserved the name of Saïtæ long after their arrival'in Attica, ATOMBS Eaitwy. Diod. Sic. i. 24. Minerva, the immediate goddess of the Athenians, was in like manner entitled Saites, and the Mopea (Morea) or olive-tree, was peculiarly sacred to her. It acquired perhaps its earliest veneration from the olive-branch which was brought by the dove to Noah prior to his relinquishing the ark. The Ammonian term for a dove was Ion (Iwv): and hence another colony of Cuthites entered the region of Greece under the appellation of Ionians; and the dove itself was consecrated to Venus, the goddess of harmony and love.
We meaned to have entered upon our author's conjectures respecting the real history of the Titans—the greater part of which is nevertheless, in our opinion, as fabulous as that of the Grecian poets and mythologists; and it was also our intention to have animadverted upon his origin of the Greek characters; but the space we have already allotted to this very elaborate work must totally preclude us from all further comment. Our readers will collect our estimation of its merit from the comprehensive manner in which we have reviewed it.
ART. III.- Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind, and of Moral
Philosophy. To which is prefixed a Compendium of Logic. By Thomas Belsham. 8vo. gs. Boards. Johnson. 1801.
AN elementary work of logic and ontology, equally distant from the unintelligible intricacies of some German authors, and the flimsy superficial detail of many English introductory writers, has been long, in our judgement, a great desideratum in the literature of this country. In the latter subject, controversy had added to its difficulties; and a short perspicuous statement of the opinions of each sect, with its chief arguments and objections, must be highly useful. In all these respects this volume is a valuable assistant. It may be advantageously recurred to by proficients as a monitor to aid their recollection, and may be consulted as a comprehensive body of references to the best authors.
The treatise on logic is short and perspicuous : it is what logic should be-a guide of the human mind in its most complex operations, a detector of errors and absurdities, a sun that dissipates the mist of confusion, and exhibits every object in its most perspicuous view, in its justest light--the euphrasy' which clears the visual orb. Mr. Belsham's object cannot be explained in better words than his own.
The following sheets contain the substance of a course of lectures, which the author delivered to his pupils, upon some of the most interesting subjects which can occupy the attention of the human mind.
6 The author's sole end was the investigation and diffusion of useful truth; and his desire was, not to influence his pupils to adopt his own opinions, but to excite in them a spirit of inquiry, and to assist and encourage them to think and to judge for themselves.
• With this view, in all disputable questions he has endeavoured to state the evidence on both sides with fairness and impartiality, and has in no case intentionally omitted or mis-stated any arguments which have been produced in favour of hypotheses which appear to him to be erroneous. Nevertheless, while he was solicitous to do justice to the opinions of others, he did not regard himself as under any obligation to conceal his own.' P. I.
Having offered these observations on the treatise of logic, we shall pass on to our author's metaphysics. · After some judicious reflexions on the nature and use of the philosophy of the mind, or perhaps its natural history, Mr. Belsham speaks of the rules of philosophising, and the utility of hypotheses, as suggesting an inquiry how far they quadrate with facts. These are the subjects of the introduction; and the author begins with a general account of the faculties of the mind. He seems willing to exclude the innate principles or moral instincts, and, with Hartley, to consider perception as a capacity for pleasure and pain, and the power of associating ideas to be sufficient for explaining the whole scope of mental phænomena. On this point, however, we must hesitate ; though, from what we shall observe in other parts of this article, we risk by such skepticism the character of consistency. In reality, it seems to involve a very intricate and extensive question, viz. the existence of instincts which appear in brutes, and occasionally, we think, in the human species; and it remains to be considered whether these should not be added to the principles laid down by Hartley, as necessary to explain all the facts of the human intellect. We mean however, as we have said, to hesitate only; for these facts have not been accurately detailed; and some circumstances of the animal ceconomy, which may contribute to illustrate the question, have not been sufficiently investigated.
Mr. Belsham treats of the sources of all intellectual phæno. mena which have been just mentioned, according to Dr. Hartley's system. The doctrine of association is very clearly and correctly explained; but, in conjunction with his Philosopher and Guide,' when he speaks of the effects of the vibrations excited, he falls into various errors, from an imperfect acquaint
• L 4
ance with physiology and pathology. Dr. Hartley was himself an able physician; but, immersed in the mechanical doctrines of his day, which perhaps originally recommended the tenet of vibrations, his particular explanations are, through the whole work, erroneous; and it is singular as well as unfortunate that no medical commentator of extensive information and ingenuity has started up to offer liberal criticisms on this subject. Even in the page (43) which now lies open before us, Mr. Belsham, from Dr. Hartley's works, confounds stupor and sleep. If, as is highly probable, the nervous influence should eventually be found to be the Galvanic or electrical, we shall be able to apa proach the temple more nearly: we can never, in our imperfect mortal state, expect to penetrate to the shrine. The explanations, however, of the effects of different powers on the nervous influence, unless we mistake largely, will be rather resolvable into chemical than mechanical phænomena. The doctrine of vibrations, in its principle, we consider as impregnable; but the vibrations excited must be those of a fluid as peculiar to the nerve as the magnetic fluid is to the iron, and as coërcible by the coats of the nervous fibril as the electric fluid is by glass. We speak analogically only; though farther discoveries may give the suggestions a more unquestionable shape and a more literal meaning.
The fourth chapter is on sensation; and the organs of sense, with their respective functions, are well described, with the exception of a few of the errors of Dr. Hartley, or such as arise from the author's not writing in his own profession. He evi. dently has not a musical ear; for of all the sources of pleasure derived from music, he overlooks that which must have been immediately obvious to a person possessed of the nice discri. minative powers which it affords. .
The fifth chapter is an excellent one, on the intellect. The first section is on truth and falsehood, knowledge and opinion, assent and dissent, nature and kinds of evidence; the second, on words and propositions ; the third, on the origin of assent to various classes of propositions; the fourth, on innate ideas and principles, the evidence of the senses, and the existence of the immaterial world. On the latter subject we may again enlarge ; but we cannot avoid observing in this place, that, though we believe the existence of an external world, we should find a great difficulty in proving it, or convincing a skeptic of its reali. ty. All our ideas, we believe, are exclusively derived from sense; but there is a class referable to indistinct internal sensations, which Mr. Belsham has not noticed. These are called by Dr. Cullen ideas of consciousness. Hunger is one of them, and there are numerous others of a similar kind.
The phænomena of memory are detailed with great precision and propriety,
«What that affection of the brain is, which by the constitution of human nature causes memory, we cannot absolutely ascertain. The hypothesis of vibrations, which has been already explained, is the most probable. It is trilling to object, that if the existence of impressions upon the brain could be proved, memory would remain as unaccountable as before : all which this hypothesis pretends to, is to advance a step in tracing the process of the connexion between external objects and mental feelings. It is curious to observe that Dr. Reid, after starting several objections against the commonly-received hypotheses, is obliged to admit (p. 341) that “ many well-known facts lead us to conclude that a certain constitution or state of the brain is necessary to memory."-Reid on the Intellectual Powers, P. 388–342.' P. 136.
We did not design to enlarge on any metaphysical disquisition suggested in this volume, as it would be apparently misplaced in an account of a work purely elementary : yet the application of the doctrine of vibrations to memory, and the phænomena of dreaming, has not hitherto claimed sufficient attention. We have often promised to engage in the inquiry, but have been pre. vented, and can now only offer the outline.
There is no fact better established in the animal ceconomy than that the repetition of action gives greater facility. This is sufficiently obvious in the muscular system ; but, though we deny irritability to nervous fibres, the same law must be admit. ted equally in the nervous system. The mathematician follows with ease trains of abstract reasoning which would fatigue common minds; and the physician examines and combines various discordant symptoms with a facility which has suggested the idea of a sixth sense :-vibrations therefore of a given nature are again more easily excited by the same causes in a less degree, or by inferior powers in an equal degree. When, consequently, ideas are once impressed on the mind, the recollection is more easy. But what are those inferior powers which again excite the vibrations, and give the impression of recollected images? Association is certainly a very powerful one; but there are circumstances in which we cannot perceive its influence, and in dreams it can have no place; yet dreams are a combination of distorted recollections. To those who admit of an immatea rial principle seated in the brain, and wandering over the tablet of former impressions, the explanation is not difficult; but, for ourselves, we cannot admit this principle, because we can never trace its actions isolated from the body. In the human frame, life is inseparable from the solid mass, and seems to consist only in an organisation not essentially impaired. This at least is all we can perceive ; and though we by no means deny the existence of an immaterial principle superadded, it can make no part of our reasoning respecting phænomena, where its separate
lections, this effect are tums, though the
influence is undiscoverable, or where the connexion or the medium of mutual influence is unknown.
The only agent which we can perceive acting in the brain, to produce memory or recollection, independently of association, is the action of the arterial system. The arteries, we know, are capable of exciting vibrations, though the means by which they produce this effect are unknown. Thus the ideas, the recollections, the combinations of a phrenetic person, are remarkably acute and rapid. The Paris mendicant, recorded in this volume, could be rendered stupid by checking the circulation. When the powers of mind are peculiarly active, we are sensible of increased circulation in the head, or, where not equably increased in all the vessels, of confusion. Where the circulation is rapid ánd irregular, as after excess, the dreams are confused, and the recollection of what has passed is imperfect. To say that the circulation is not equable in any one organ may appear gratuitous; but it may be easily explained. Thus in fever, the circulation in all the extreme vessels, either cuticular or secretory, is impeded. We must suppose those of the head to be similarly affected. In old people, previous to apoplexy, the mind is confused; and in such cases we know the blood is confined to the sinuses. In those who have had injuries in the brain, the former train of images is followed with difficulty: we knew a man who, after a concussion of the brain, could not for many months count more than three, and after many years could not numerate twenty. The circulation therefore, increased equably in all the vessels of the brain, if not too rapid, renders the intellectual functions more acute; if too rapid, irregularly so; and if increased partially and irregularly, it renders these functions confused. If it be once then admitted that the circulation in the arteries can excite vibrations, we want no more to give a clue, at least to the cause of memory and dreams.
To advance one step farther on this subject, we must attend to what passes in the mind when memory is exerted. If the arterial circulation can excite vibrations, the consequence must be that images are constantly raised. This we believe to be true; and we are only insensible of them in general because they are not peculiarly interesting. This must not be left on supposition only. Let a person be seised in the most listless moment, and asked, without hurry, what he is thinking of ? He will answer nothing, but will soon recollect some image which had been before him. Again: we say a thought strikes us; that is, among the crowd of images constantly presented, one is interesting enough to arrest the attention. In this crowd some of the former vibrations are renewed; we then suddenly recollect, or the image is recalled by an associated idea. Once