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MONTHLY REVIEW,

For JULY, 1764.

Conclusion of the Account of an Enquiry into the Human Mind, che

the Principles of Common Sense.

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Great part of what Dr. Reid has advanced, concerning

the sense of Smelling, (of which we gave a full account in our Review for May) is so easily applied to those of Tafting and Hearing, that he faves his Readers the trouble of a tedious repetition, and leaves the application entirely to their own judgments. He introduces what he says concerning Touch, with observing, that the senses, already considered, are very fimple and uniform, each of them exhibiting only cne kind of fensation, and thereby indicating only one quality of bodies. By the ear we perceive sounds, and nothing elle; by the palate, taftes; and by the nose, odours : these qualities are all likewise of one order, being all secondary qualities : whereas by touch we perceive not one quality only, but many, and those of very different kinds. The chief of them are heat and cold, hardness and softness, roughness and smoothness, figure, solidity, motion, and extension. These our Author considers in order.

As to heat and cold, it will easily be allowed, that they are fecondary qualities, of the same order with smell, taste, and found. And, therefore, what has been said of smell, is easily applicable to them; that is, that the words heat and cold have each of them two significations; they sometimes fignify certain fensations of the mind, which can have no existence when they are not felt, nor can exist any where but in a mind, or sentient being; but more frequently they signify a quality in bodies, which, by the laws of nature, occasions the sensations of heat and cold in us : a quality which, though connecled by custom fo closely with the sensation, that we cannot without difficulty Voi. XXXI.

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separate

separate them; yet hath not the least resemblance to it, and may continue to exist when there is no sensation at all.

By the words hardness and softness, we always understand real properties or qualities of bodies, of which we have a distinct conception. When the parts of a body adhere so firmly, that it cannot easily be made to change its figure, we call it hard ; when its parts are eafily displaced, we call it soft. This is the notion which all mankind have of hardness and softness; they are neither sensations, nor like any sensation; they were real qualities before they were perceived by touch, and continue to be so when they are not perceived; for if any man will affirm, that diamonds were not hard till they were handled, who would reason with him?

There is no doubt, our Author says, a sensation by which we perceive a body to be hard or soft. This sensation of hardness may easily be had, by pressing one's hand against the table, and attending to the feeling that ensues : setting aside, as much as possible, all thought of the table, and its qualities, or of any external thing. But it is one thing to have the senfation, and another to attend to it, and make it a distinct object of reflection. The first is very easy; the last, in most cases, extremely difficult.

We are so accustomed, he says, to use the sensation as a sign, and to pass immediately to the hardness fignified, that, as far as appears, it was never made an object of thought, either by the vulgar or Philosophers; nor has it a name in any language. There is no sensation more distinct, or more frequent; yet it is never attended to, but passes through the mind instantaneously, and serves only to introduce that quality in bodies, which by a law of our constitution it suggests.

• There are, indeed, some cases, continues he, wherein it is no difficult matter to attend to the sensation occafioned by the hardness of a body; for instance, when it is so violent as to occasion considerable pain: then nature calls upon us to attend to it, and then we acknowlege, that it is a mere sensation, and can only be in a sentient Being. If a man runs his head with violence against a pillar, I appeal to him, whether the pain he feels resembles the hardness of the stone; or if he can conceive any thing like what he feels, to be in an inanimate piece of matter.

• The attention of the mind is here entirely turned towards the painful feeling; and, to speak in the common language of mankind, he feels nothing in the stone, but feels a violent pain in his head. It is quite other wife when he leans his head gently

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against the pillar; for then he will tell you, that he feels nothing in his head, but feels hardness in the stone. Hath he not a sensation in this case as well as in the other? Undoubtedly he hath : but it is a sensation which nature intended only as a sign of something in the stone; and, accordingly, he instantly fixes his attention upon the thing signified; and cannot, without great difficulty, attend so inuch to the sensation, as to be persuaded that there is any such thing, distinct from the hardness it signifies.

• But however difficult it may be to attend to this fugitive sensation, to stop its rapid progress, and to disjoin it from the external quality of hardness, in whose shadow it is apt immediately to hide itself; this is what a Philosopher by pains and practice must attain, otherwise it will be impossible for him to reason justly upon this subject, or even to understand what is here advanced. For the last appeal in subjects of this nature, must be to what a man feels and perceives in his own mind.

• It is, indeed, strange, that a sensation which we have every time that we feel a body hard, and which, consequently, we can command as often, and continue as long as we please, a sensation as distinct and determinate as any other, should yet be so much unknown, as never to have been made an object of thought and reflection, nor to have been honoured with a name in any language ; that Philosophers, as well as the vulgar, should have entirely overlooked it, or confounded it with that quality of bodies which we call Hardness, to which it hath not the least fimilitude. May we not hence conclude, That the knowlege of the human faculties is but in its infancy? That we have not yet learned to attend to those operations of the mind of which we are conscious every hour of our lives? That there are habits of inattention acquired very early, which are as hard to be overcome as other habits ? For I think it is probable, that the novelty of this sensation will procure some attention to it in children at first; but being nowise interesting in itself, as soon as it becomes familiar, it is overlooked, and the attention turned solely to that which it signifies. Thus, when one is learning a language, he attends to the sounds; but when he is master of it, he attends only to the sense of what he would express. If this is the case, we must become as little children again, if we will be Philosophers : we must overcome habits which have been gathering strength ever fince we began to think ; habits, the usefulness of which, in common life, atones for the difficulty it creates to the Philosopher in discovering the first principles of the human mind. • The firm cohesion of the parts of a body, is no more like

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that sensation by which I perceive it to be hard, than the vibration of a sonorous body is like the sound I hear : nor can I poffibly perceive, by my season, any connection beiween the one and the other. No man can give a reason, why the vibration of a body might not have given the sensation of smelling, and the effluvia of bodies affected our hearing, if it had so pleased our Maker. In like manner, no man can give a reason, why the scnsations of smell, or taste, or sound, might not have indicated hardness, as well as that sensation, which, by our constitution, does indicate it. Indeed, no man can conceive any fenfation to resemble any known quality of bodies. Nor can any man fhew, by any good argument, that all our sensations might not have been as they are, though no body, nor quality of body, had ever exifted.

• Here then is a phenomenon of human nature, which comes to be resolved. Hardness of bodies is a thing that we conceive as distinctly, and believe as firmly, as any thing in nature. We have no way of coming at this conception and belief, but by means of a certain sensation of touch, to which hardness hath not the least similitude; nor can we, by any rules of reasoning, infer the one from the other. The question is, How we come by this conception and belief?

• First, as to the conception : Shall we call it an idea of senfation, or of reflection? The last will not be affirmed; and as little can the first, unless we will call that an idea of sensation, which hath no resemblance to any sensation. So that the origin of this idea of hardness, one of the most common and most distinct we have, is not to be found in all our fystems of the mind : not even in those which have so copiously endeavoured to deduce all our notions from fenfation and reflection.

But, secondly, fupposing we have got the conception of hardness, how come we by the belief of it? Is it felf-evident, from comparing the ideas, that such a sensation could not be felt, unless luch a quality of bodies existed ? No. Can it be proved by probable or certain arguments ? No, it cannot.

Have we got this belief then by tradition, by education, or by experience ? No, it is not got in any of these ways. Shall we then throw off this belief, as having no foundation in reason? Alas! it is not in our power; it triumphs over reason, and laughs at all the arguments of a Philosopher. Even the Author of the Treatise of hunian Nature, though he saw no reason for this belief, but many against it, could hardly conquer it in his speculative and solitary moments; at other times he fairly yielded to it, and confeffes that he found himself under a neceflity 'to do so,

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What shall we say then of this conception, and this belief, which are so unaccountable and untractable ? thing left, but to conclude, that, by an original principle of our constitution, a certain sensation of touch both suggests to the mind the conception of hardness, and creates the belief of it: or, in other words, that this sensation is a natural sign of hardness.'

This our Author endeavours more fully to explain, and observes, that as in artificial signs there is often neither similitude between the sign and thing signified, nor any connection that arises necessarily from the nature of the things; so it is also in natural signs. The word Gold has no fimilitude to the sub-' stance fignified by it; nor is it in its own nature more fit to fignify this than any other substance : yet, by habit and custom, it suggests this and no other. In like manner, a sensation of touch suggests hardness, although it hath neither finilitude to hardness, nor, as far as we can perceive, any necessary connection with it. The difference betwixt these two signs' lies only in this, that, in the first, the suggestion is the effect of habit and custom ; in the second, it is not the effect of habit, but of the original constitution of our minds.

That we may more distinctly conceive the relation between our sensations and the things they suggest, and what is meant by calling sensations signs of external things, Dr. Reid observes. farther, that there are different orders of natural signs; and he points out the different classes into which they may be distinguished.

'The first class of natural signs, we are told, comprehends those whose connection with the thing signified is established by nature, but discovered only by experience. The whole of genuine Philosophy consists in discovering such connections, and reducing them to general rules. What we commonly call natural causes, might, our Author thinks, with more propriety be called natural signs; and what we call effects, the things signified. The causes have no proper efficiency or causality, as far as we know; and all we can certainly affirm, is, that nature hath established a constant conjunction between them and the things called their effects ; and hath given to mankind a dispofition to observe those connections to confide in their continuance, and to make use of them for the improvement of our knowlege, and increase of our power. - A fecond class is that wherein the conneon between the sign and thing ignified is not only established by nature, but dicovered to us by a natural principle, without reasoning of experience. Of this kind are the natural signs of human thoughts,

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purposes,

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