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theory; and it is all which is necessary to the one theory: while the other, by supposing, or vaguely implying some actual union or association, prior to the suggestion, introduces a new mystery, and, in consequence of the very mystery which it introduces, renders the phenomena, which it professes to explain, still more difficult to be conceived; since the association, which it supposes to be necessary to the suggestion, must, on that supposition, in many cases, be the effect of that very suggestion, to which it is supposed to give rise.
You will now then, I hope, perceive, or, I flatter myself, may already have perceived, without the necessity of so much repetition of the argument, the reasons which led me to prefer the term suggestion to association, as a more accurate general term, for all the spontaneous successions of our thought; since, by making the suggestion itself to depend on an association or combination of ideas prior to it, we should not merely have assumed the reality of a process, of which we have no consciousness whatever, but should have excluded, by the impossibility of such previous combination, many of the most important classes of suggestions, every suggestion that arises from the relations of objects which we perceive for the first time, and, indeed, every suggestion that does not belong, in the strictest sense, to Mr. Hume's single class of contiguity in time.
That our suggestions do not follow each other loosely and confusedly, is no proof of prior associations in the mind, but merely of the general constitutional tendency of the mind, to exist, successively, in states that have certain relations to each other. There is nothing in the nature of our original perceptions, which could enable us to infer this regularity and limitation of our subsequent trains of thought. We learn these from experience alone; and experience does not teach us, that there is any such intervening process of mysterious union, as is supposed, but only, that when the mind has been affected in a certain manner, so as to have one perception or conception, it is, successively, and of itself, affected in certain other manners, so as to have no other relative conceptions. If the association of ideas be understood to mean nothing more than this succession of ideas arising without an external cause, and involving no prior union of the ideas suggesting and suggested,-nor, in short, any influence previous to that which operates at the moment of the suggestion itself, though it would certainly, with this limited meaning, (which excludes what is commonly meant by the term association,) be a very awkward phrase, still, if it were always understood in this limited sense alone, it might be used with safety. But in this sense, the VOL. II.-L
only sense in which it can be used without error,—it must always be remembered, that the association of ideas denotes as much the successions of ideas of objects which never have existed together before, as the successions of ideas of objects. which have been perceived together, that there are not two separate mental processes, therefore, following perception, and necessary to the succession,-one by which ideas are primarily associated, and another by which they are subsequently suggested, but that the association is, in truth, only another word for the fact of the suggestion itself. All this however, being admitted, it may perhaps be said,-what advantage is to be gained from the use of a similar term, or even from the more accurate distinction which such a term denotes ?
The principal advantage that is to be derived from it, is the great simplification which it allows of the phenomena by the removal of much of that mystery, which a more complicated theory had made to hang over some of the processes of thought. When suggestion was supposed to depend on former associations of ideas, and when, in many cases, it must have been felt to be difficult, or rather impossible, to discover any coexistence or immediate succession of the primary perceptions, by which such association could be supposed to be formed; it could scarcely fail to happen,-as, indeed, truly took place, that many cumbrous distinctions and still more cumbrous hypotheses, would be formed, to account for the apparent anomalies.
It is the use of this unfortunate phrase, indeed, rather than of the simpler term suggestion, which appears to me to have filled our intellectual systems with the names of so many superfluous powers. The supposed necessity in our trains of thought, of some previous association, of course rendered it necessary, that the conceptions ascribed to this cause, should be such as before existed in a similar form, since, without this previous existence, they could not be supposed to admit of previous connexion; and, therefore, when the suggestions were very different, so as to have the semblance almost of a new creation, it became necessary to invent some new power distinct from that of association, to which they might be ascribed. What was in truth a mere simple suggestion, flowing from the same laws with other suggestions, became in this manner something more, and was ranked as a product of fancy, or imagination, nothing being so easy as the invention of a new name. A similar illusion gave rise to the supposition of various other intellectual powers,-or, at least, favoured greatly the admission of such powers, by the difficulty of account
for suggestions which could not have arisen from previ
ous associations; and one simple power or susceptibility of the mind was thus metamorphosed into various powers, all distinct from each other, and distinct from that power of which they were only modifications.
The chief circumstances which probably led to the belief of some actual union or association of ideas, previous to suggestion, I conceive to have been the peculiar importance of that order of suggestions, of which proximity, and therefore former coexistence, or immediate succession of the direct objects of thought, are the distinguishing characteristic. If there had been no such order of suggestions as this, but conception had followed conception merely according to the other relations, such as those of analogy or contrast, we never should have thought of any association, or other prior influence, distinct from the suggestion itself. But, when objects perceived together, or in immediate succession, arise again together, or in immediate succession, as if linked by some invisible bonds, it is a very natural illusion, that the suggestion itself should seem to depend on a mysterious union of this kind. The illusion is greatly strengthened by these circumstances, that it is to the relation of direct proximity of objects, we have recourse, in all those processes of thought, which have commonly been termed recollections, or voluntary reminiscences. We think of all the variety of events that happened at the time at which we know, that the same event, now forgotten by us, occurred, and we pursue this whole series, through its details, as if expecting to discover some tie that may give into our hand the fugitive feeling, which we wish to detect. The suggestion which we desire, does probably at length occur, in consequence of this process; and we are hence very naturally accustomed to look back to a period preceding the suggestion, as to the real source of the suggestion itself.
It must be remembered too, that although the mind were truly susceptible of the influence in its trains of thought, of various relations of a different kind, as well as those of contiguity, even these suggestions, though originally different, would seem, at length, reducible to this one paramount order; because, after the first suggestion which might have arisen from mere analogy or contrast, a real contiguity, in point of time, would be formed of the suggesting and suggested conception, which had become proximate in succession; and the same suggestion, therefore, when it recurred, might seem to have. arisen as much from this contiguity, in a prior train of thought, as from the contrast or analogy, which of themselves might
have been sufficient to produce it, without any such proximity of the direct images themselves.
In all these ways, it is very easy to perceive how, in considering every simple suggestion, our thoughts should be continually turned to the past, and the suggestion itself, therefore, be converted into association; the exceptions being forgotten, or receiving a different name, that we might satisfy ourselves with a general law, though exceptions so important, and so innumerable, might themselves have served for a proof that the general law was inaccurate.
After these remarks, then, I trust that you will not merely have seen the reasons which led me to prefer to the use of the ambiguous phrase association, the substitution of the simpler term suggestion, but that you will be disposed also to admit the justness of that distinction, on which the substitution was founded. The importance of the distinction, however, you will perceive more fully, in the applications that are afterwards to be made, of it, in reducing under simple suggestion, phenomena ascribed by philosophers to many different intellectual powers.
To this I shall proceed in my next Lecture.
REDUCTION OF CERTAIN SUPPOSED FACULTIES TO SIMPLE SUGGESTION,-I. CONCEPTION,-II. MEMORY.
GENTLEMEN, my last Lecture was employed in considering the nature of that tendency of the mind, by which it exists, successively in the states which constitute the variety of our conceptions, in our trains of thought; my object being to ascertain whether this tendency depend on any previous intellectual process, constituting what has been termed a union or association of ideas, or, simply on the relations of the conceptions themselves, at the moment of suggestion, without any previous union or association whatever of the idea or other feeling which suggests, with the idea or other feeling which is suggested. I explained to you the reasons which seem to lead us, in every case, in which conception follows conception, in trains that have a sort of wild regularity, to look back to the past, for some mysterious associations of our ideas, by which this regular confusion of their successions may be explained; though, in the phenomena themselves, there is no evidence of any such association, or earlier connecting process of any kind, all of which we are conscious being merely the original perception and the subsequent suggestion.
It is, in a great measure, I remarked, in consequence of obscure notions, entertained with respect to this supposed AssoCIATION of ideas, as something prior and necessary to the actual operation of the simple principle of spontaneous suggestion, that the phenomena of this simple principle of the mind have been referred to various intellectual powers, from the impossibility of finding, in many cases, any source of prior association, and the consequent necessity of inventing some new power for the producing of phenomena, which seemed not to be reducible to suggestion, or to differ from its common forms, merely because we had encumbered the simple process of suggestion, with unnecessary and false conditions.
My next object, then, will be to show, how truly that variety of powers, thus unnecessarily, and, therefore, unphilosophi