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APPENDIX - Henry Home, Lord Kames, Elements of Criticism, vol. 2 
Elements of Criticism, Edited and with an Introduction by Peter Jones (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). 2 vols. Vol. 2.
Part of: Elements of Criticism, 2 vols.
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Terms defined or explained
1. Every thing we perceive or are conscious of, whether a being or a quality, a passion or an action, is with respect to the percipient termed an object. Some objects appear to be internal, or within the mind; passion, for example, thinking, volition; Some external; such as every object of sight, of hearing, of smell, of touch, of taste.
2. That act of the mind which makes known to me an external object, is termed perception. That act of the mind which makes known to me an internal object, is termed consciousness. The power or faculty from which consciousness proceeds, is termed an internal sense. The power or faculty from which perception proceeds, is termed an external sense. This distinction refers to the objects of our knowledge; for the senses, whether external or internal, are all of them powers or faculties of the mind.* <506>
3. But as self is an object that cannot be termed either external or internal, the faculty by which I have knowledge of myself, is a sense that cannot properly be termed either internal or external.
4. By the eye we perceive figure, colour, motion, &c.: by the ear we perceive the different qualities of sound, high, low, loud, soft: by touch we perceive rough, smooth, hot, cold, &c.: by taste we perceive sweet, sour, bitter, &c.: by smell we perceive fragrant, fetid, &c. These qualities partake the common nature of all qualities, that they are not capable of an independent existence, but must belong to some being of which they<507> are properties or attributes. A being with respect to its properties or attributes is termed a subject, or substratum. Every substratum of visible qualities, is termed substance; and of tangible qualities, body.
5. Substance and sound are perceived as existing at a distance from the organ; often at a considerable distance. But smell, touch, and taste, are perceived as existing at the organ of sense.
6. The objects of external sense are various. Substances are perceived by the eye; bodies by the touch. Sounds, tastes, and smells, passing commonly under the name of secondary qualities, require more explanation than there is room for here. All the objects of internal sense are attributes: witness deliberation, reasoning, resolution, willing, consenting, which are internal actions. Passions and emotions, which are internal agitations, are also attributes. With regard to the former, I am conscious of being active; with regard to the latter, I am conscious of being passive.
7. Again, we are conscious of internal action as in the head; of passions and emotions as in the heart.
8. Many actions may be exerted internally, and many effects produced, of which we are unconscious: when we investigate the ultimate cause of the motion of the blood, and of other internal motions upon which life depends, it is the most probable opinion that some internal power is the cause; and if so, we are unconscious of the operations of<508> that power. But consciousness being implied in the very meaning of deliberating, reasoning, resolving, willing, consenting, such operations cannot escape our knowledge. The same is the case of passions and emotions; for no internal agitation is denominated a passion or emotion, but what we are conscious of.
9. The mind is not always the same: by turns it is cheerful, melancholy, calm, peevish, &c. These differences may not improperly be denominated tones.
10. Perception and sensation are commonly reckoned synonymous terms, signifying that internal act by which external objects are made known to us. But they ought to be distinguished. Perceiving is a general term for hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling; and therefore perception signifies every internal act by which we are made acquainted with external objects: thus we are said to perceive a certain animal, a certain colour, sound, taste, smell, &c. Sensation properly signifies that internal act by which we are made conscious of pleasure or pain felt at the organ of sense: thus we have a sensation of the pleasure arising from warmth, from a fragrant smell, from a sweet taste; and of the pain arising from a wound, from a fetid smell, from a disagreeable taste. In perception, my attention is directed to the external object: in sensation, it is directed to the pleasure or pain I feel.<509>
The terms perception and sensation are sometimes employed to signify the objects of perception and sensation. Perception in that sense is a general term for every external thing we perceive; and sensation a general term for every pleasure and pain felt at the organ of sense.
11. Conception is different from perception. The latter includes a conviction of the reality of its object: the former does not; for I can conceive the most extravagant stories told in a romance, without having any conviction of their reality. Conception differs also from imagination. By the power of fancy I can imagine a golden mountain, or an ebony ship with sails and ropes of silk. When I describe a picture of that kind to another, the idea he forms of it is termed a conception. Imagination is active, conception is passive.
12. Feeling, beside denoting one of the external senses, is a general term, signifying that internal act by which we are made conscious of our pleasures and our pains; for it is not limited, as sensation is, to any one sort. Thus, feeling being the genus of which sensation is a species, their meaning is the same when applied to pleasure and pain felt at the organ of sense: and accordingly we say indifferently, “I feel pleasure from heat, and pain from cold”; or, “I have a sensation of pleasure from heat, and of pain from cold.” But the meaning of feeling, as is said, is much<510> more extensive: It is proper to say, I feel pleasure in a sumptuous building, in love, in friendship; and pain in losing a child, in revenge, in envy: sensation is not properly applied to any of these.
The term feeling is frequently used in a less proper sense, to signify what we feel or are conscious of; and in that sense it is a general term for all our passions and emotions, and for all our other pleasures and pains.
13. That we cannot perceive an external object till an impression is made upon our body, is probable from reason, and is ascertained by experience. But it is not necessary that we be made sensible of the impression: in touching, in tasting, and in smelling, we are sensible of the impression; but not in seeing and hearing. We know indeed from experiments, that before we perceive a visible object, its image is spread upon the retina tunica; and that before we perceive a sound, an impression is made upon the drum of the ear: but we are not conscious either of the organic image or of the organic impression; nor are we conscious of any other operation preparatory to the act of perception: all we can say, is, that we see that river, or hear that trumpet.* <511>
14. Objects once perceived may be recalled to the mind by the power of memory. When I recall an object of sight in that manner, it appears to me precisely the same as in the original survey, only less distinct. For example, having seen yesterday a spreading oak growing on the brink of a river, I endeavour to recall these objects to my mind. How is this operation performed? Do I endeavour to form in my mind a picture of them or representative image? Not so. I transport myself ideally to the place where I saw the tree and river yesterday; upon which I have a perception of these objects, similar in all respects to the perception I had when I viewed them with my eyes, only less distinct. And in this recollection, I am not conscious of a picture or representative image, more than in the original survey: the perception is of the tree and river themselves, as at first. I confirm this by another experiment. After attentively surveying a fine statue, I close my eyes. What follows? The same object continues, with-<512>out any difference but that it is less distinct than formerly.* This indistinct secondary perception of an object, is termed an idea. And therefore<513> the precise and accurate definition of an idea in contradistinction to an original perception, is, “That perception of a real object which is raised<514> in the mind by the power of memory.” Every thing we have any knowledge of, whether inter-<515>nal or external, passions, emotions, thinking, resolving, willing, heat, cold, &c. as well as ex-<516>ternal objects, may be recalled as above, by the power of memory.*
15. External objects are distinguishable into<517> simple and complex. Certain sounds are so simple as not to be resolvable into parts; and so are certain tastes and smells. Objects of touch are for the most part complex: they are not only hard or soft, but also smooth or rough, hot or cold. Of all external objects, visible objects are commonly the most complex: a tree is composed of a trunk, branches, leaves: it has colour, figure, size. But as an action is not resolvable into parts, a perception, being an act of sense, is always simple. The colour, figure, umbrage of a spreading oak, raise not different perceptions: the perception is one, that of a tree, coloured, figured, &c. A quality is never perceived separately from the subject; nor a part from the whole. There is a mental power of abstraction, of which afterward; but the eye never abstracts, nor any other external sense.
16. Many particulars beside those mentioned enter into the perception of visible objects, motion, rest, place, space, time, number, &c. These, all of them, denote simple ideas, and for that reason admit not of a definition. All that can be done, is to point out how they are acquired. The ideas of motion and of rest, are familiar even to a child, from seeing its nurse sometimes walking, sometimes sitting: the former it is taught to call motion; the latter, rest. Place enters into every perception of a visible object: the object is perceived to exist,<518> and to exist somewhere, on the right hand or on the left, and where it exists is termed place. Ask a child where its mother is, or in what place: it will answer readily, she is in the garden. Space is connected with size or bulk: every piece of matter occupies room or space in proportion to its bulk. A child perceives that when its little box is filled with playthings, there is no room or space for more. Space is also applied to signify the distance of visible objects from each other; and such space accordingly can be measured. Dinner comes after breakfast, and supper after dinner: a child perceives an interval, and that interval it learns to call time. A child sometimes is alone with its nurse: its mother is sometimes in the room; and sometimes also its brothers and sisters. It perceives a difference between many and few; and that difference it is taught to call number.
17. The primary perception of a visible object, is more complete, lively, and distinct, than that of any other object. And for that reason, an idea or secondary perception of a visible object, is also more complete, lively, and distinct, than that of any other object. A fine passage in music, may, for a moment, be recalled to the mind with tolerable accuracy; but, after the shortest interval, it becomes no less obscure than the ideas of the other objects mentioned.
18. As the range of an individual is commonly<519> within a narrow space, it rarely happens, that every thing necessary to be known comes under our own perceptions. Language is an admirable contrivance for supplying that deficiency; for by language every man’s perceptions may be communicated to all: and the same may be done by painting and other imitative arts. The facility of communication depends on the liveliness of the ideas; especially in language, which hitherto has not arrived at greater perfection than to express clear ideas: hence it is, that poets and orators, who are extremely successful in describing objects of sight, find objects of the other senses too faint and obscure for language. An idea thus acquired of an object at second hand, ought to be distinguished from an idea of memory, though their resemblance has occasioned the same term idea to be applied to both; which is to be regreted, because ambiguity in the signification of words is a great obstruction to accuracy of conception. Thus Nature hath furnished the means of multiplying ideas without end, and of providing every individual with a sufficient stock to answer, not only the necessities, but even the elegancies of life.
19. Further, man is endued with a sort of creative power: he can fabricate images of things that have no existence. The materials employed in this operation, are ideas of sight, which he can take to pieces and combine into new forms at<520> pleasure: their complexity and vivacity make them fit materials. But a man hath no such power over any of his other ideas, whether of the external or internal senses: he cannot, after the utmost effort, combine these into new forms, being too obscure for that operation. An image thus fabricated cannot be called a secondary perception, not being derived from an original perception: the poverty of language, however, as in the case immediately above mentioned, has occasioned the same term idea to be applied to all. This singular power of fabricating images without any foundation in reality, is distinguished by the name imagination.
20. As ideas are the chief materials employed in reasoning and reflecting, it is of consequence that their nature and differences be understood. It appears now, that ideas may be distinguished into three kinds: first, Ideas derived from original perceptions, properly termed ideas of memory; second, Ideas communicated by language or other signs; and, third, Ideas of imagination. These ideas differ from each other in many respects; but chiefly in respect of their proceeding from different causes: The first kind is derived from real existences that have been objects of our senses: language is the cause of the second, or any other sign that has the same power with language: and a man’s imagination is to himself the cause of the third. It is scarce necessary to add, that an idea, originally of<521> imagination, being conveyed to others by language or any other vehicle, becomes in their mind an idea of the second kind; and again, that an idea of this kind, being afterward recalled to the mind, becomes in that circumstance an idea of memory.
21. We are not so constituted as to perceive objects with indifference: these, with very few exceptions, appear agreeable or disagreeable; and at the same time raise in us pleasant or painful emotions. With respect to external objects in particular, we distinguish those which produce organic impressions, from those which affect us from a distance. When we touch a soft and smooth body, we have a pleasant feeling as at the place of contact; which feeling we distinguish not, at least not accurately, from the agreeableness of the body itself; and the same holds in general with regard to all organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing: a sound is perceived as in itself agreeable, and raises in the hearer a pleasant emotion: an object of sight appears in itself agreeable, and raises in the spectator a pleasant emotion. These are accurately distinguished: the pleasant emotion is felt as within the mind; the agreeableness of the object is placed upon the object, and is perceived as one of its qualities or properties. The agreeable appearance of an object of sight is termed beauty; and the disagreeable appearance of such an object is termed ugliness.<522>
22. But though beauty and ugliness, in their proper and genuine signification, are confined to objects of sight; yet in a more lax and figurative signification, they are applied to objects of the other senses: they are sometimes applied even to abstract terms: for it is not unusual to say, a beautiful theorem, a beautiful constitution of government.
23. A line composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular: a straight line, a parabola, a hyperbola, the circumference of a circle, and of an ellipse, are all of them regular lines. A figure composed by a single rule, is perceived and said to be regular: a circle, a square, a hexagon, an equilateral triangle, are regular figures, being composed by a single rule that determines the form of each. When the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a single rule that leaves nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly regular; which is the case of the figures now mentioned, and the case of a straight line and of the circumference of a circle. A figure and a line that require more than one rule for their construction, or that have any of their parts left arbitrary, are not perfectly regular: a parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a square; the parallelogram being subjected to no rule as to the length of sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal; the rhomb being subjected to no rule as to its angles, other than that the opposite angles be equal: for the same reason, the<523> circumference of an ellipse, the form of which is susceptible of much variety, is less regular than that of a circle.
24. Regularity, properly speaking, belongs, like beauty, to objects of sight; and, like beauty, it is also applied figuratively to other objects: thus we say, a regular government, a regular composition of music, and, regular discipline.
25. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two figures are equal: thus two cubes of the same dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. Uniformity less perfect is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being equal: the uniformity is imperfect between two squares or cubes of unequal dimensions; and still more so between a square and a parallelogram.
26. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform; its sides are equal and its angles are equal. Wherein then differs regularity from uniformity? for a figure composed of uniform parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a figure considered as a whole composed of uniform parts: uniformity is predicated of these parts as related to each other by resemblance: we say, a square is a regular, not an uniform, figure; but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say<524> not, that they are regular, but that they are uniform.
27. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows, spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended for different uses: we require a certain proportion between a leg and an arm; in the base, the shaft, the capital of a pillar; and in the length, the breadth, the height of a room: some proportion is also required in different things intimately connected, as between a dwelling-house, the garden, and the stables; but we require no proportion among things slightly connected, as between the table a man writes on and the dog that follows him. Proportion and uniformity never coincide: things equal are uniform; but proportion is never applied to them: the four sides and angles of a square are equal and perfectly uniform; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus, proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a maximum in mathematics; a greater or less inequality or difference is less agreeable.
28. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying objects, we are directed by a sense of order: we perceive it to be more orderly, that we should pass from a principal to its accessories, and from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with respect to the<525> position of things, a sense of order directs us to place together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that have no natural connection, that order appears the most perfect, where the particulars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation that position can bestow upon straight lines: if they be so placed as by production to intersect, the relation is less perfect. A large body in the middle, and two equal bodies of less size, one on each side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are susceptible of by position: the relation between the two equal bodies would be stronger by juxtaposition; but they would not both have the same relation to the third.
29. The beauty or agreeableness of a visible object, is perceived as one of its qualities; which holds, not only in the primary perception, but also in the secondary perception or idea: and hence the pleasure that arises from the idea of a beautiful object. An idea of imagination is also pleasant, though in a lower degree than an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind; for an evident reason, that the former is more distinct and lively than the latter. But this inferiority in ideas of imagination, is more than compensated by their greatness and variety, which are boundless; for by the imagination, exerted without controul, we can fabricate ideas of finer visible ob-<526>jects, of more noble and heroic actions, of greater wickedness, of more surprising events, than ever in fact existed: and in communicating such ideas by words, painting, sculpture, &c. the influence of the imagination is no less extensive than great.
30. In the nature of every man, there is somewhat original, which distinguishes him from others, which tends to form his character, and to make him meek or fiery, candid or deceitful, resolute or timorous, cheerful or morose. This original bent, termed disposition, must be distinguished from a principle: the latter, signifying a law of human nature, makes part of the common nature of man; the former makes part of the nature of this or that man. Propensity is a name common to both; for it signifies a principle as well as a disposition.
31. Affection, signifying a settled bent of mind toward a particular being or thing, occupies a middle place between disposition on the one hand, and passion on the other. It is clearly distinguishable from disposition, which, being a branch of one’s nature originally, must exist before there can be an opportunity to exert it upon any particular object; whereas affection can never be original, because, having a special relation to a particular object, it cannot exist till the object have once at least been presented. It is no less clearly distinguishable from passion, which, depending on the real or ideal presence of its object, vanishes with its object: whereas affection is a lasting con-<527>nection; and, like other connections, subsists even when we do not think of the person. A familiar example will clear the whole. I have from nature a disposition to gratitude, which, through want of an object, happens never to be exerted; and which therefore is unknown even to myself. Another who has the same disposition, meets with a kindly office which makes him grateful to his benefactor: an intimate connection is formed between them, termed affection; which, like other connections, has a permanent existence, though not always in view. The affection, for the most part, lies dormant, till an opportunity offer for exerting it: in that circumstance, it is converted into the passion of gratitude; and the opportunity is greedily seized of testifying gratitude in the warmest manner.
32. Aversion, I think, is opposed to affection; not to desire, as it commonly is. We have an affection to one person; we have an aversion to another: the former disposes us to do good to its object, the latter to do ill.
33. What is a sentiment? It is not a perception; for a perception signifies the act by which we become conscious of external objects. It is not consciousness of an internal action, such as thinking, suspending thought, inclining, resolving, willing, &c. Neither is it the conception of a relation among objects; a conception of that kind being termed opinion. The term sentiment is ap-<528>propriated to such thoughts as are prompted by passion.
34. Attention is that state of mind which prepares one to receive impressions. According to the degree of attention, objects make a strong or weak impression.* Attention is requisite even to the simple act of seeing: the eye can take in a considerable field at one look; but no object in the field is seen distinctly, but that singly which fixes the attention: in a profound reverie that totally occupies the attention, we scarce see what is directly before us. In a train of perceptions, the attention being divided among various objects, no particular object makes such a figure as it would do single and apart. Hence, the stillness of night contributes to terror, there being nothing to divert the attention:
And hence it is, that an object seen at the termination of a confined view, is more agreeable than when seen in a group with the surrounding objects:
35. In matters of slight importance, attention is mostly directed by will; and for that reason, it is our own fault if trifling objects make any deep impression. Had we power equally to with-hold our attention from matters of importance, we might be proof against any deep impression. But our power fails us here: an interesting object seizes and fixes the attention beyond the possibility of controul;<530> and while our attention is thus forcibly attached to one object, others may solicit for admittance; but in vain, for they will not be regarded. Thus a small misfortune is scarce felt in presence of a greater:
36. Genus, species, modification, are terms invented to distinguish beings from each other. Individuals are distinguished by their qualities: a number of individuals considered with respect to qualities that distinguish them from others, is termed a species: a plurality of species considered with respect to their distinguishing qualities, is termed a genus. That quality which distinguisheth one genus, one species, or even one individual, from another, is termed a modification: thus the same particular that is termed a property or quality when considered as belonging to an individual, or a class of individuals, is termed a modification when consi-<531>dered as distinguishing the individual or the class from another: a black skin and soft curled hair, are properties of a negro: the same circumstances considered as marks that distinguish a negro from a man of a different species, are denominated modifications.
37. Objects of sight, being complex, are distinguishable into the several particulars that enter into the composition: these objects are all of them coloured; and they all have length, breadth, and thickness. When I behold a spreading oak, I distinguish in that object, size, figure, colour, and sometimes motion: in a flowing river, I distinguish colour, figure, and constant motion; a dye has colour, black spots, six plain surfaces, all equal and uniform. Objects of touch have all of them extension: some of them are felt rough, some smooth: some of them are hard, some soft. With respect to the other senses, some of their objects are simple, some complex: a sound, a taste, a smell, may be so simple as not to be distinguishable into parts: others are perceived to be compounded of different sounds, different tastes, and different smells.
38. The eye at one look can grasp a number of objects, as of trees in a field, or men in a crowd: these objects having each a separate and independent existence, are distinguishable in the mind as well as in reality; and there is nothing more easy than to abstract from some and to confine our contemplation to others. A large oak with its spreading<532> branches fixes our attention upon itself, and abstracts us from the shrubs that surround it. In the same manner, with respect to compound sounds, tastes, or smells, we can fix our thoughts upon any one of the component parts, abstracting our attention from the rest. The power of abstraction is not confined to objects that are separable in reality as well as mentally; but also takes place where there can be no real separation: the size, the figure, the colour, of a tree, are inseparably connected, and have no independent existence; the same of length, breadth, and thickness: and yet we can mentally confine our observations to one of these, abstracting from the rest. Here abstraction takes place where there cannot be a real separation.
39. Space and time have occasioned much metaphysical jargon; but after the power of abstraction is explained as above, there remains no difficulty about them. It is mentioned above, that space as well as place enter into the perception of every visible object: a tree is perceived as existing in a certain place, and as occupying a certain space. Now, by the power of abstraction, space may be considered abstractedly from the body that occupies it; and hence the abstract term space. In the same manner, existence may be considered abstractedly from any particular thing that exists; and place may be considered abstractedly from any particular thing that may be in it. Every series or succession of things, suggests the idea of time; and<533> time may be considered abstractedly from any series of succession. In the same manner, we acquire the abstract term motion, rest, number, and a thousand other abstract terms; an excellent 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 one 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 chymical 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 connection with his profession.
41. It is observed above, p. 516. that there can be no such thing as a general idea; that all our perceptions are of particular objects, and that our secondary perceptions or ideas must be equally so.<534> 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. Noman will say that he can for many 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 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.<535>
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 abstraction 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 voluntarily; 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<536> 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 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 ab-<537>straction, 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.<538><539>
[* ]I have complied with all who have gone before me in describing the senses internal and external to be powers or faculties; and yet, after much attention, I have not discovered any thing active in their operations to entitle them to that character. The following chain of thought has led me to hesitate. One being operates on another: the first is active, the other passive. If the first act, it must have a power to act: if an effect be produced on the other, it must have a capacity to have that effect produced upon it. Fire melts wax: ergo fire has a power to produce that effect; and wax must be capable to have that effect produced in it. Now as to the senses. A tree in flourish makes an impression on me, and by that means I see the tree. But in this operation I do not find that the mind is active: seeing the tree is only an effect produced on it by intervention of the rays of light. What seems to have led us into an error is the word seeing, which, under the form of an active verb, has a passive signification. I feel is a similar example; for to feel is certainly not to act, but the effect of being acted upon: the feeling pleasure is the effect produced in my mind when a beautiful object is presented. Perception accordingly is not an action, but an effect produced in the mind. Sensation is another effect: it is the pleasure I feel upon perceiving what is agreeable.
[* ]Yet a singular opinion that impressions are the only objects of perception, has been espoused by some philosophers of no mean rank; not attending to the foregoing peculiarity in the senses of seeing and hearing, that we perceive objects without being conscious of an organic impression, or of any impression. See the Treatise upon Human Nature: where we find the following passage, book 1. p. 4. sect. 2. “Properly speaking, it is not our body we perceive when we regard our limbs and members; so that the ascribing a real and corporeal existence to these impressions, or to their objects, is an act of the mind as difficult to explain,” &c. [Kames earlier stated (2.390n) he would cite only dead writers but had quoted Voltaire’s Henriade (1.103, 2.233, 389; cf. also 2.381) and Hume’s History (2.23, 31, 36). Hume died in 1776, fourteen years after the first edition of 1762, in which Kames cited his works.]
[* ]This experiment, which every one may reiterate till entire satisfaction be obtained, is of greater importance than at first view may appear; for it strikes at the root of a celebrated doctrine, which for more than two thousand years has misled many philosophers. This doctrine as delivered by Aristotle is in substance, [This note did not appear in the first edition: the passages are not quotations but, as Kames says, they represent Aristotle’s doctrine “in substance.”] “That of every object of thought there must be in the mind some form, phantasm, or species; that things sensible are perceived and remembered by means of sensible phantasms, and things intelligible by intelligible phantasms; and that these phantasms have the form of the object without the matter, as the impression of a seal upon wax has the form of the seal without its matter.” The followers of Aristotle add, “That the sensible and intelligible forms of things, are sent forth from the things themselves, and make impressions upon the passive intellect, which impressions are perceived by the active intellect.” This notion differs very little from that of Epicurus, which is, “That all things send forth constantly and in every direction, slender ghosts or films of themselves, (tenuia simulacra, as expressed by his commentator Lucretius); which striking upon the mind, are the means of perception, dreaming,” &c. Des Cartes, bent to oppose Aristotle, rejects the doctrine of sensible and intelligible phantasms; maintaining however the same doctrine in effect, namely, That we perceive nothing external but by means of some image either in the brain or in the mind: and these images he terms ideas. According to these philosophers, we perceive nothing immediately but phantasms or ideas: and from these we infer, by reasoning, the existence of external objects. Locke, adopting this doctrine, employs almost the whole of his book about ideas. He holds, that we cannot perceive, remember, nor imagine, any thing, but by having an idea or image of it in the mind. He agrees with Des Cartes, that we can have no knowledge of things external, but what we acquire by reasoning upon their ideas or images in the mind; taking it for granted, that we are conscious of these ideas or images, and of nothing else. Those who talk the most intelligibly explain the doctrine thus: When I see in a mirror a man standing behind me, the immediate object of my sight is his image, without which I could not see him: in like manner, when I see a tree or a house, there must be an image of these objects in my brain or in my mind; which image is the immediate object of my perception; and by means of that image I perceive the external object.
[* ]From this definition of an idea, the following proposition must be evident, That there can be no such thing as an innate idea. If the original perception of an object be not innate, which is obvious; it is not less obvious, that the idea or secondary perception of that object cannot be innate. And yet, to prove this self-evident proposition, Locke has bestowed a whole book of his Treatise upon Human Understanding. So necessary it is to give accurate definitions, and so preventive of dispute are definitions when accurate. Dr. Berkeley has taken great pains to prove another proposition equally evident, That there can be no such thing as a general idea: all our original perceptions are of particular objects, and our secondary perceptions or ideas must be equally so.
[* ]Bacon, in his Natural History, makes the following observations. Sounds are meliorated by the intension of the sense, where the common sense is collected most to the particular sense of hearing, and the sight suspended. Therefore sounds are sweeter, as well as greater, in the night than in the day; and I suppose they are sweeter to blind men than to others: and it is manifest, that between sleeping and waking, when all the senses are bound and suspended, music is far sweeter than when one is fully waking.
[1. ]Aeneid 2.755: “Everywhere dread fills my heart, the very silence, too, dismays.”
[2. ]Act 5, sc. 1.
[3. ]Act 3, sc. 4.