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Hickok's Rational Psychology.




By Tayler Lewis, LL. D., Prof. of Greek, Union College, Schenectady, N. Y.

PSYCHOLOGY-the word, the reason, the science of the soul. "It is only a developed consciousness," or a development of consciousness, says the writer of the famous article on Reid and Brown in No. CIII. of the Edinburgh Review. The objection here is to the word only. The definition is true as far as it goes. Psychology is a development of consciousness; but is it not something more? Dr. Hickok, as well as others of the general class of thinkers to which he may be said to belong, and among whom this work will, beyond all question, give him a very high standing, maintains that it is. He would probably find no fault with the statement, if the term consciousness were so extended, beyond what is commonly called the soul's experience, as to embrace the inward contemplation of the truths which the experience awakens it to find within itself as among the conditions of its own being. To avoid all such confusion, however, he has entitled his examination of the soul- A Rational Psychology. It is, in other words, the soul's experiences seen in the light of its own reason, not as dispensing with experience, or preceding it in the order of time, but taking it first as a guide to that position from whence it is seen, not only that such experiences are, but that they must have been just what they are, and could have been in no other possible way. This is his use of the term à priori which occurs so frequently. It is not the absurdity of à priori knowledge as actual consciousness in the order of time, but the gaining, through experience or consciousness, taken in its widest sense, of an advance position from which the soul looks back and sees that there was but this one path, and that thus its guide experience was itself determined all along by that higher light to which it has at last conducted the spiritual consciousness. Hence it is called an à priori, or rational psychology. It assumes to show us, not only how we feel, how we perceive, how we understand, how we comprehend, or, to use the gene


1 Rational Psychology, or the Subjective Idea, and the Objective Law of an Intelligence, by Laurens P. Hickok, D. D., Prof. of Christian Theology in the Theological Seminary, Auburn. Published at Auburn, 1849, by Derby, Miller & Company.

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ral term which embraces them all-how we know, but also that so we must have known, in a mode as surely determinable and determined as truth itself, which is the object of knowledge, is determined and could have been no other than what it is. Thus there is an à priori idea for each power and department of the soul, whatever, or how many, they may be, and there is to each an objective law in perfect harmony with it. There is an idea of the sense, and corresponding to it an actual law of feeling and perceiving. There is an idea of an understanding and a corresponding law of thinking. There is an idea of a reason (whether we have it as faculty or not, although the one would certainly seem to necessitate the other) and there is within us a law presenting in consciousness the ends to which such a faculty may be directed, and the intellectual and moral wants, above the region of the sense and the understanding, to which it may give a satisfaction and a meaning.

This distinction of the understanding and the reason has been claimed, by his ardent followers, as exclusively belonging to Coleridge. Nothing, however, can be more unfounded. There is no doubt that Coleridge everywhere obtrudes it upon the reader as his own, and yet there can be as little doubt that he borrowed it, or might have borrowed it, to say the least, from the German metaphysicians. It is equally clear, too, that the same distinction was held by the two master minds of antiquity, and what is more, that it is inseparable from the very spirit of the language in which they wrote. We may say, moreover, that the more common division employed both by the learned and the unlearned, - we mean that of the sense and the reason, in which the department of the understanding is shared between the two, or that of the sense and the understanding, in which the reason is merged in the latter,- is by no means so inconsistent with the threefold distinction as might at first be imagined. No one of these faculties, it may be said, ever acts alone. There is no pure sense (at least in man, whatever may be the case with the lower animals) without some act of the understanding. It is never, as Aristotle says, purely aλoyov; and, moreover, there is no exercise of the human understanding without some faint coöperation of the reason. Hence, by conjoining the second with the first, and the third with the second, we naturally fall into a twofold division; especially if we employ the terms more in reference to the objects about which the mind is employed than the mental exercises themselves. Hence the un

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1 Aristotle De Anima, Lib. III. 9. 2.

1851.] Threefold Division of Objects and Powers.


derstanding employed on the objects of the sense is, with no great impropriety, called by the general name of the sense, as distinguished from the reason (or the understanding which is in this mode of speaking connected if not confounded with it) regarded as occupied with those enduring notions of the one, or those universal truths of the other, which sense alone could never give.

The distinction, then, is the author's own, as much as it is Coleridge's, or Schelling's, or Kant's. It is his own, because no one, we will venture to say, has more carefully thought it out, or more scientifically marked out the field of each faculty, than has been done in the work before us. This, however is a matter of but little consequence. The threefold division of objects and of corresponding powers must present itself to every mind that truly reflects. There are three energies of the soul (call them by what name we will) ideally distinct, although it may be that they are seldom actually separate in their operation. There is that within us which takes notice of appearances, or phenomena, or the forms that dark sensation assumes under this gaze of the soul, and which, if it were the only mode in which the intelligence energized, would give us nothing else. There is another which takes cognition of things and events, or, in other words, the realities, which this faculty informs us these phenomena represent; and had the soul no higher power, there could be no interest in, and therefore no knowledge of, aught beyond. There is, however, another power of the spirit which all must be conscious of, obscure as may be its operation in some minds, and which occupies itself with the meaning of things,-affirming à priori that they must have a meaning, and seeking to explore what that meaning is. Thus we have appearances, things—and the meaning, or reason1 of things. We have the phenominal, the natural, and the supernatural. We have the present, the temporal, the eternal, in other words, that which has no existence but in the moment or moments of impression, that which the law of the understanding, transcending the sense, compels us to regard as having a producing being, and that which a higher faculty, transcending both sense and the understanding, presents as beyond all limitations, either of present or flowing time. To fill up this outline a little, we may say, appearances have construction in space and time, although without some other faculty than the sense they would come and go isolated and un

1 All who have been in the habit of confounding reason, design, and motive, as meaning about the same thing (and there are many such) will, of course, see no demand for any faculty distinct from the understanding.

remembered. Things and events are connected by the notions, cause and substance, into a system we call nature, but without some other faculty than the understanding, it would have only a scientific value, raising no question of a higher interest, and doing nothing to answer such a question when raised in some other way. But there is an operation of the soul, which, however obscure in some, and however limited in all of us, does to some extent comprehend sense and nature, or, at least, awaken the interest which demands such comprehension in order to give meaning and reason to appearances and things.

We might, to some advantage, vary the view by presenting it in the form of the three great questions in regard to the universe of being, — The what? The how?1 and The why? The rì, and the or, and the diót. The sense and the understanding would try to find an answer to the first, understanding and reason to the second, and the reason (especially the moral reason) to the third. And this answer, in its most comprehending terms, would be given in the words, God, The Soul, and Immortality.

In regard to the first of these, or the Great Reason of Reasons, the scientific understanding might likewise attempt, and does attempt, the solution; but it would ever bring it under the how, the nos, instead of the diór of the universe. It has ever been inquiringwhence came nature, and the world, and how do they exist, or trying to explain the fact (or) that they do exist; but ever as questions of curious or scientific interest. Cosmogony was the earliest problem in philosophy; geological and nebular hypotheses furnish the favorite speculations of the most modern science. In such inquiries the understanding seeks its God, but it never gets anything more than a first cause, a first power, a first mover, a developing principle, taken, too, at last, as a necessary notion of the wearied mind, and although assumed as beginning nature, yet never in fact regarded as out of nature; in other words a scientific God in whom there is no ethical interest. There was no irreverence in the assertion of a most eloquent writer, that "such a belief in a great first cause may have as little moral value for us as a belief in the existence of the great sea serpent.2

The true meaning of the universe is a question put by the moral reason. It is no question for the animal; it would hardly seem to be one (if we may judge by the animus they often display) for some

1 Or the fact.

2 Foot Prints of the Creator, by Hugh Miller, p. 42.


Reason and Understanding.


men of the highest scientific and even aesthetic attainment. There may be a great exhibition of designing intelligence, but ever as the adaptation of physical means to physical ends, which, after all, are never ends, or to artistic ends which never go out of the workmanship. But reason and conscience ask, what is the design of all designs, going clear out of nature into some acknowledged region beyond and above it. We may trace the long road, and the countless ages, from infusoria up to bimana; or we may hunt them backward until, for the mere satisfaction of the cause-tracing understanding, we bring into the chain the notion of a first Power, or a first Principle of development. We may find, too, all along our way, abundance of artistical design, an armory of means and contrivances for devouring and defence, a wondrous apparatus of life, and death, and reproduction. But what is the meaning of it all? Strange as may seem the paradox, yet in this respect, and without some higher teacher, and some higher text-book, the darker and darker grow the rocks the more they are scientifically understood. This must be so until they, together with all nature, are comprehended in relation to man and immortality, and, above all, to the supernatural creating power of Him to whom "a thousand years are but as one day, and one day is as a thousand years." Here too even reason requires aid from above, and it is at last "by faith we know that the worlds were made by the word of God, so that the things that are seen were not made of things which do appear." And for His glory were they made. Unless this is seen, we are yet in the region of the zos, and all our science is valueless just in proportion as its objects are unmeaning. The all-explaining word benevolence does but little to dissipate the mystery. It only calls up some awful facts, which, unless nature is more misinterpreted than ever Scripture was, can never find their expla nation in any mere happiness-theory that is not itself comprehended in some higher idea.

Thus may we say, by way of accommodation, that these two faculties have each their deity, but with this immense difference. In the judg ment of the one, God is for the universe; in the à priori demand of the other, the universe is for God. In the one, the deity is needed as the first term in the infinite series, or as some assumed unknown quantity without which it could not be mathematically summed, or as some first mover, without which the dynamical problem cannot be solved. The pantheistic understanding, too, according to the one or the other aspect of its most ancient philosophy, requires a similar conception, either as the starting principle of the world's outgrowth,

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