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around him, and his huge sombrera, as large as an umbrella, upon his head; now a Dutch sailor, with his rough cap and trunk hose ; and now an Indian Cacique, with his feathery crown and long lance of cane. I always approached them, but, whenever I drew near, the phantom changed into a bush, or a piece of driftwood, or a wreath of mist, or some such cause of deception."
But it is unnecessary to resort to books for illustrations of this topic. Multitudes of persons have a conceptive facility of creations, which is often troublesome and perplexing; especially in uncommon situations, and in the night. And in all cases this tendency is greatly strengthened, whenever it can lay hold of objects, the outlines of which it can pervert to its own purposes. In instances of this kind, where the conceptions are upheld, as it were, by present objects of perception, and receive a sort of permanency from them, nothing is better known than that we often exercise a strong and unhesitating belief. These instances, therefore, can properly be considered as illustrating and confirming the views in the preceding section.
$ 66. Conceptions as connected with fictitious representations.
These observations suggest an explanation, at least in part, of the effects which are produced on the mind by exhibitions of fictitious distress. In the representation of tragedies, for instance, it must be admitted, that there is a general conviction of the whole being but a fiction. But, although persons enter the theatre with this general conviction, it does not always remain with them the whole time. At certain peculiarly interesting passages in the poet, and at certain exhibitions of powerful and well-timed effort in the actor, this general impression, that all is a fiction, fails. The feelings of the spectator may be said to rush into the scenes; he mingles in the events; carried away and lost, he for a moment believes all to be real, and the tears gush at the catastrophe which he witnesses. The explanation, therefore, of the emotions felt at the exhibition of a tragedy, such as indignation, pity, and abhorrence, is, that at certain parts of the exhibition we have a momentary belief in the reality of the events
which are represented. And after the illustrations which have been given, such a belief cannot be considered impossible.—The same explanation will apply to the emotions which follow our reading of tragedies when alone, or any other natural and affecting descriptions. In the world of conceptions which the genius of the writer conjures up, we are transported out of the world of real existence, and for a while fully believe in the reality of what is only an incantation.
SIMPLICITY AND COMPLEXNESS OF MENTAL STATES.O.
$ 67. Origin of the distinction of simple and complex. In looking at our thoughts and feelings, as they continually pass under the review of our internal observation, we readily perceive that they are not of equal worth ; we do not assign to them the same estimate; one state of mind is found to be expressive of one thing only, and that thing, whatever it is, is precise, and definite, and inseparable; while another state of mind is found to be expressive of, and virtually equal to, many others. And hence we are led, not only with the utmost propriety, but even by a sort of necessity, to make a division of the whole body of our mental affections into the two classes of SIMPLE and COMPLEX. Nature herself makes the division; it is one of those characteristics which gives to the mind, in part at least, its greatness; one of those elements of power, without which the soul could not be what it is, and without a knowledge of which it is difficult to possess a full and correct understanding of it in other respects.
68. Nature and characteristics of simple mental states. We shall first offer some remarks on those mental states which are simple, and shall aim to give an understanding of their nature, so far as can be expected on a subject, the clearness of which depends more on a reference to our own personal consciousness than on the teachings of others.
Let it be noticed then, in the first place, that a simple idea CANNOT BE SEPARATED INTO PARTS.—It is clearly implied in the very distinction between simplicity and complexity, considered in relation to the states of the mind, that there can be no such separation, no such division. It is emphatically true of our simple ideas and emotions, and of all other simple states of the mind, that they are one and indivisible. Whenever you can detect in them more than one element, they at once lose their character of simplicity, and are to be regarded as complex, however they may have previously appeared. Inseparableness consequently is their striking characteristic; and it may be added, that they are not only inseparable in themselves, but are separate from everything else. There is nothing which can stand as a substitute for them where they are, or represent them where they are not; they are independent unities, constituted exclusively by the mind itself, having a specific and positive character, but nevertheless known only in themselves.
0 69. Simple mental states not susceptible of definition. Let it be observed, in the second place, that our simple notions CANNOT BE DEFINED. — -This view of them follows necessarily from what has been said of their oneness and inseparableness, compared with what is universally understood by defining. In respect to definitions, it is undoubtedly true, that we sometimes use synonymous words, and call such use a definition; but it is not properly such. In every legitimate definition, the idea which is to be defined is to be separated, as far as may be thought necessary, into its subordinate parts; and these parts are to be presented to the mind for its examination, instead of the original notion into which they entered. This process must be gone through in every instance of accurate defining; this is the general and authorized view of definition, and it is not easy to see in what else it can well consist.
But this process will not apply to our simple thoughts and feelings, because, if there be any such thing as simple mental states, they are characterized by inseparableness and oneness. And furthermore, if we define ideas by employing other ideas, we must count upon meeting at last with such as shall be ultimate, and will reject all verbal explanation; otherwise we can never come to an end in the process.--So that the simple mental affections are not only undefinable in themselves; but if there were no such elementary states of mind, there could be no defining in any other case; it would be merely analysis upon analysis, a process without completion, and a labour without end; leaving the subject in as much darkness as when the process was begun.
When we speak of simple ideas and feelings, and a person, in consequence of our inability to define them, professes to be ignorant of the terms we use, we can frequently aid him in understanding them by a statement of the circumstances, as far as possible, under which the simple mental state exists. But having done this, we can merely refer him to his own senses and consciousness, as the only teachers from which he can expect to receive satisfaction.
§ 70. Simple mental states representative of a reality. A third mark or characteristic of simple mental states is, that they always stand for or REPRESENT A REALITY.In other words, no simple idea is, in its own nature, delusive or fictitious, but always has something precisely corresponding to it. It is not always so with complex ideas; these, as Mr. Locke justly gives us to understand, are sometimes CHIMERICAL. That is to say; the elements of which they are composed are so brought together and combined as to form something, of which nature presents no corresponding reality. If, for instance, a person had an idea of a body, yellow, or of some other colour, malleable, fixed; possessing, in a word, all the qualities of iron or of gold, with this difference only, of its being lighter than water, it would be what Mr. Locke terms a CHIMERICAL idea; because the combination of the elements here exists only in the human mind, and not in nature; the thing has no outward or objective reality. The words CENTAUR, DRAGON, and HYPOGRIFF, which are the well
known names for imaginary beings possessing no actual existence, are expressive of chimerial complex ideas. These ideas have nothing corresponding to them. But it is not so with the simple states of the mind. If it were otherwise, since in our inquiries after truth we naturally proceed from what is complex to what is simple, there would be no sure foundation of knowledge. Whenever, in our analysis of a subject, we arrive at truly simple ideas, we have firm footing; there is no mistake, no delusion. Nature, always faithful to her own character, gives utterance to the truth alone. But man, in combining together the elements which nature furnishes, does not always avoid mistakes.
071. Origin of complex notions, and their relation to simple. Our simple states of mind, which we have thus endeavoured to explain, were probably first in origin. There are reasons for considering them as antecedent in point of time to our complex mental states, although in many cases it may not be easy to trace the
progress of the mind from the one to the other. The complex notions of external material objects embrace the separate and simple notions of resistance, extension, hardness, colour, taste, and others. As these elementary perceptions evidently have their origin in distinct and separate senses, it is but reasonable to suppose that they possess a simple, before they are combined together in a complex existence. Simple ideas, therefore, may justly be regarded as antecedent, in point of time, to those which are complex, and as laying the foundation of them.
Hence we see that it is sufficiently near the truth, and that it is not improper, to speak of our complex ideas as derived from, or made up of, simple ideas. This is the well-known language of Mr. Locke on this subject; and when we consider how much foundation there is for it in the constitution and operations of the human mind, there is good reason for retaining it.-Although purely simple states of the mind are few
in number, vast multitudes of a complex nature are formed from them. The ability which the mind possesses of originating complex thoughts and feelings from elementary ones, may be compared to