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a certain distance of the nerves of the nose, the mind is agreeably affected.
The organ of taste, placed in the tongue and palate, enables us to distinguish between what is agreeable or disagreeable as an article of food; and its functions are chiefly confined to such objects as are fit for our bodily nourishment.
Different impressions, again, are conveyed by the sense of touching, which is not confined to any particular organ, but is diffused over the whole body. The qualities heat, cold, roughness, smoothness, hardness, softness, &c., are conveyed to the mind through this channel.
Of these various impressions, some are agreeable, and others the reverse; but they are all made by the means above mentioned. . It should also be observed, that in all these cases, although the person affected must be in some communication with the object which causes the impression, the distance differs in the operation of the different senses. In the cases of touching and tasting, the objects must be in actual contact with the organs. In smelling, the effect may be produced by not quite so close a proximity of the object. In hearing, it may be produced at a still greater distance; whilst in seeing, we are brought into communication with objects many miles off.
Now, the impressions thus made on the mind by means of the senses are called “ideas ;'' so that by the “idea’ of an object, or action, we understand
The English word 'idea' comes from the Greek idéa, the form or external appearance of anything. The Greek word itself is a derivative from ideiv, 'to see ;' and in a philosophical sense signifies a mental representation of an object.
upon the mind.
simply the impression made by that object or action
We must also remember that these impressions are not confined to the time in which they are making; but that we have the power of recalling them at pleasure: thus, when we see a tree, hear a tune, or smell a flower, the ideas conveyed are not only impressed at the time, but can be brought back to our minds when the causes of them are no longer present.
Words have been called the signs of our ideas.' By this is meant that a certain combination of letters, when pronounced or written, represents a certain idea for which it has been agreed that it shall stand. But this agreement is only conventional-not necessary : any other combination of letters, when once determined on, and universally accepted, would equally well answer the purpose. Indeed, this is obviously true, when we consider that the same combination of letters does not with all men represent the same idea. Thus it has been agreed upon in England, that a certain idea shall be represented by the word house. In France, however, the combination which represents the same idea is maison; in Italy, it is casa; in Germany, Haus; thus differing in different languages.
But though words are signs, they are very imperfect and incomplete signs of our ideas; for they by no means describe extensively or accurately all the objects, actions, or qualities for which they stand. For example, the word tree will, when written or pronounced, recall a certain idea generally; but neither particularly nor individually : it will bring to mind a substance growing up out of the earth, and having a trunk, branches, and leaves ; but the word will, of
itself, give us no information as to its height, size, colour, age, species, and many other particulars.
Again, the term 'good' conveys, generally, a favourable impression, but leaves us quite uninformed as to whether it refers to manners, skill, intellectual power, morality, or religion; for the expression, “a good man,' may mean a good (skilful) workman, a good (acute) logician, a good (kind) father, or a good (pious) Christian, &c.
Lastly, the word strike gives us a general idea of a very common action; but leaves us wholly in the dark as to the agent, degree, time, &c., of that action. All this information we must gather from other sources.
Hence it will appear that words require analysing and explaining, and this from the very imperfection of their nature. Our ideas are, in fact, in a great majority of cases, complex ; that is, in the contemplation of any object, action, or quality, the whole idea is made up of various parts, all of which cannot be described by the one word.
CONCRETE AND ABSTRACT TERMS.
The most comprehensive classification of words is into concrete 1 and abstract.2
Concrete ideas are those which first enter the mind, and they are derived either from material objects,
1 Concrete,' derived from the Latin concretus, literally signifies .united in growth. The word is applied to all those ideas which represent material substances, the particles of which are united so as to form a solid mass.
2 • Abstract' is from the Latin abstractus, the participle of the verb abstrahere, and literally means 'drawn from.'
external actions, or the qualities belonging to them; that is, from such things as can be felt, actions seen, or qualities perceived by the senses.
All words representing such ideas are termed concrete.'
The noun man,' the verb strike,' and the adjective long,' are commonly used in a concrete sense.
But the human mind has the power of taking away, or abstracting, any one quality from an object of sense, and considering it apart from all others which may belong to that object, or apart from the object itself. This faculty of the mind is called abstraction, and the ideas of the qualities thus drawn off (or abstracted) are called abstract. Thus, as above said, the word 'man' is the general sign of a concrete idea ; but if, in contemplating the object'man,' we choose to consider his strength apart from all his other qualities; -or his grace alone—or his height alone, exclusively of all other considerations, we then abstract, or draw away, ,
, these qualities from the man.' The ideas of such qualities are called abstract ideas, and the words which represent them are called abstract.
Copy out the words marked in italics in the following sentences, putting all the concrete terms in one column, and all the abstract in another.
The horse is an animal of great strength—What is the value of that watch ?—The book was elegantly
bound in blue cloth—Julius Cæsar was noted for his generosity-The little boy's lameness hindered his walking as fast as his companions—I had an opportunity of looking him steadily in the face-Industry and regularity are the surest means of wealth—The attitude of European affairs was then very threatening-Immense and furious was the crowd of pursuers—The cardinal had attained to great eminence-He was an eloquent preacher, and his instructions were touching and impressive-He was, in every sense, the greatest sovereign of the age—This writer was the poet of the people-Virtue is its own reward.
Change the words in italics in the following sentences into their corresponding abstract nouns.
This difficult exercise puzzles me—Every one admired the learned man-The severe weather has made us illThe long journey fatigued me—I was enchanted with the beautiful scenery—They were much pleased with his lively conversation-Persons of good taste prefer simple nature to embellished art—The whole party was saved by the brave soldiers—All are attracted by her modest deportment—The high tree was measured—He is a very strong man—These true words made a deep impression—They interrupted the merry party-It is necessary to be temperate—Nothing can be done without persevering—Not to know these things is shameful—The boy declared he was innocent—The proud man was humbled -This curious boy will be punished—To obey our superiors is commanded us -To be patient under misfortunes is extremely difficult—The barbarous tyrant