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cellent contrivance for improving speech, as without it speech would be wofully imperfect. Brute animals may have some obscure notion of these circumstances, as connected with particular objects: an ox probably perceives that he takes longer time to go round a long ridge in the plough, than a short one: and he probably perceives when he is one of four in the yoke, or only of two. But the power of abstraction is not bestowed on brute animals; because to them it would be altogether useless, as they are incapable of speech.
40. This power of abstraction is of great utility. A carpenter considers a log of wood with regard to hardness, firmness, colour, and texture; a philosopher, neglecting these properties, makes the log undergo a chemical analysis; and examines its taste, its smell, and its component principles: the geometrician confines his reasoning to the figure, the length, breadth, and thickness. In general, every artist, abstracting from all other properties, confines his observations to those which have a more immediate connexion with his profession.
41. It is observed above, p. 452, that there can be no such thing as a general idea; that all other perceptions are of particular objects, and that our secondary perceptions or ideas must be equallso. Precisely, for the same reason, there can be no such thing as an abstract idea. We cannot form an idea of a part without taking in the whole; nor of motion, colour, figure, independent of a body. No man will say that he can form any idea of beauty, till he think of a person endued with that quality; nor that he can form an idea of weight till he takes under consideration a body that is weighty. And when he takes under consideration a body endued with one or other of the properties mentioned, the idea he forms is not an abstract or general idea, but the idea of a particular body with its properties. But though a part and the whole, a subject and its attributes, an effect and its cause, are so intimately connected, as that an idea cannot be formed of the one independent of the other, yet we can reason upon the one abstracting from the other.
This is done by words signifying the thing to which the reasoning is confined; and such words are denominated abstract terms. The meaning and use of an abstract term is well understood, though of itself, unless other particulars be taken in, it raises no image nor idea in the mind. In language it serves an excellent purpose; by it different figures, different colours, can be compared, without the trouble of conceiving them as belonging to any particular subject; and they contribute, with words significant, to raise images or ideas in the mind.
42. The power of abstraction is bestowed on man for the purpose solely of reasoning. It tends greatly to the facility as well as clearness of any process of reasoning, that, laying aside every other circumstance, we can confine our attention to the single property we desire to investigate.
43. Abstract terms may be separated into three different kinds, all equally subservient to the reasoning faculty. Individuals appear to have no end; and did we not possess the faculty of distributing them into classes, the mind would be lost in an endless maze, and
no progress be made in knowledge. It is by the faculty of abstrac tion that we distribute beings into genera and species; finding a number of individuals connected by certain qualities common to all, we give a name to these individuals considered as thus connected, which name, by gathering them together into one class, serves to express the whole of these individuals as distinct from others. Thus the word animal serves to denote every being that can move volun. tarily; and the words man, horse, lion, &c. answer similar purposes. This is the first and most common sort of abstraction; and it is of the most extensive use, by enabling us to comprehend in our reasoning whole kinds and sorts, instead of individuals without end. The next sort of abstract terms comprehends a number of individual objects, considered as connected by some occasional relation. A great number of persons collected in one place, without any other relation but merely that of contiguity, are denominated a crowd; in forming this term, we abstract from sex, from age, from condition, from dress, &c. A number of persons, connected by the same laws and by the same government, are termed a nation; and a number of men under the same military command are termed an army. A third sort of an abstraction is, where a single property, or part, which may be common to many individuals, is selected to be the subject of our contemplation: for example, whiteness, heat, beauty, length, roundness, head, arm.
44. Abstract terms are a happy invention; it is by their means chiefly that the particulars, which make the subject of our reasoning, are brought into close union, and separated from all others however naturally connected. Without the aid of such terms the mind could never be kept steady to its proper subject, but be perpetually in hazard of assuming foreign circumstances, or neglecting what are essential. We can, without the aid of language, compare real objects by intuition, when these objects are present; and, when absent, we can compare them in idea. But when we advance farther, and attempt to make inferences and draw conclusions, we always employ abstract terms, even in thinking; it would be as difficult to reason without them, as to perform operations in algebra without signs: for there is scarce any reasoning without some degree of abstraction, and we cannot easily abstract without using abstract terms. Hence it follows, that without language man would scarce be a rational being.
45. The same thing, in different respects, has different names. With respect to certain qualities it is termed a substance; with respect to other qualities a body; and with respect to qualities of all sorts a subject. It is termed a passive subject with respect to an action exerted upon it; an object with respect to a percipient; a cause with respect to the effect it produces; and an effect with respect to its cause.
Action, what feelings are raised by hu-
Action and reaction betwixt a pas-
Actor, bombast actor, 117. The chief
Eneid, its unity of action, 404. See
Affection to children accounted for,
Agamemnon of Seneca censured,218.
Alcestes of Euripides censured, 228.
Alexandre of Racine censured, 212.
Allegory defined, 351. More diffi-
All for Love of Dryden censured,
Ambiguity, occasioned by a wrong
Aminta of Tasso censured, 209.
Analytic and synthetic methods of
Anger explained, 44, &c. Frequently
Angle, largest and smallest angle of
Animals distributed by nature into
Antithesis, 244. Verbal antithesis,
dwelling-houses, 425, 420. Divisions
Bajazet of Racine censured, 227.
sists the beauty of the human visage,
Benevolence operates in conjunction
Berkeley censured, 450, note.
Boileau censured, 341. 397.
Burlesque, machinery does well in a
Business, men of middle age best
CADENCE, 271. 275.
Capital of a column, 436.
Careless Husband, its double plot
Cause, resembling causes may pro-
Chance, the mind revolts against mis-
Character, to draw a character is the
Characteristics of Shaftsbury criti-
Children, love to them accounted
Chinese gardens, 423. Wonder and
Chorian bus, 308.
Chorus an essential part of the Gre-
Church, what ought to be its form
Cicero censured, 265. 272, 273.
Circle, its beauty, 98.
Class, all living creatures distribut-
Common sense, 441. 446.
Comparison, 130, &c. ch. xix. In the
Complex emotion. 64, &c.
Complex object, its power to gene-
Complex perception, 451, 452.
Conception defined, 448.
Concord or harmony in objects of
Concordant sounds defined, 63.
Conquest of Granada of Dryden cen-
Congruity and propriety, ch. x. A se-
Davila censured, 149.
Des Cartes censured, 450, note.
Description, it animates a description
Descriptive personifications, 333.