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2. Objects excite similar feelings, and thus mutually suggest each other, in consequence of similarity of relations to the original principles of our nature. Sweetness, beauty, and harmony, as mere objects of sense, are totally unlike. But they may and do sustain such a relation to the original principles of our nature, as to induce similar states of mind. Consequently, the perception of one may suggest that of the other. Thus the origin of figurative language, such as sweet or beautiful sounds, admits of a ready explanation. Also the sublime comparisons of poetry and oratory, founded upon the relations of analogy. An Indian orator, speaking of the American revolution, said, “That it was like the whirlwind, which tears up the trees, and tosses to and fro the leaves, till we cannot tell from whence they come, or whither they will fall. At length the Great Spirit spoke to the whirlwind, and it was still.” Says another, whose age numbered more than one hundred years : “ I am the aged hemlock. The winds of an hundred winters have whistled through my branches, and I am dead at the top.” “And I heard,” says the sacred writer, " as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluiah ; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Milton, speaking of the breaking up of the counsel of Pandemonium, says :
“ Their rising all at once, was at the sound
Of thunder heard remote.”
An aged soldier, in one of the tragedies, says of himself:
“For I have fought when few alive remained,
How different, as mere objects of sense, are all the things compared together in the above quotations. But sustaining a common relation to the original laws of the mind, they induce similar feelings or states of mind. Consequently, the apprehension of one, suggests that of the other."
3. Objects co-exist with, and excite similar feelings, in consequence of a perceived relation between the objects theniselves ; such, for example, as the relations of cause and ef
fect-parent and child, &c. Why it is that the feelings excited by one of these objects are transferred to the other as soon as the relation between them is perceived, we cannot tell. All that we can say is, that such is the constitution of our minds, that when two objects are known to sustain such relations to each other, they will, in all ordinary circumstances, excite similar feelings, and the idea of one will, consequently, suggest that of the other.
4. Objects co-exist with similar feelings in consequence of mere accidental association. Whenever the mind has been brought, from any cause whatever, into any particular state, the accidental perception of any object, or suggestion of any thought, however foreign to the cause of the present state, will so modify that state, that the new object will ever after sustain an entirely new relation to the Sensibility of our nature. To the present state of the mind, thus modified, it sustains the relation of a cause. Consequently, its subsequent presence as an object of perception, or of conception, will excite, in a greater or less degree, that state, and will of course recall the objects which formerly co-existed with the same state. Thus the same object may, at different periods of our lives, be associated with entirely different, and even opposite states of mind, and states of mind totally different from what they are naturally adapted to produce. Thus of course they may, and will recall entirely different objects to our remembrance. In many instances, we find it wholly impossible to account for the change which has taken place in the effect of particular objects upon our Sensibility, and consequently upon our train of associations; so gradual, and accidental, has been the transfer of the object from one state of feeling to another.
Application of the Principles above illustrated. The law of Association which has been confirmed and illustrated, has many and very important applications. To a few of these, special attention is invited, as we conclude the present Chapter. Ground of the Mistake of Philosophers in respect to the Laws
of Association. We are now prepared to state distinctly the ground of the mistake of philosophers, pertaining to the laws of Association. Because objects sustaining certain relations to each
other, do mutually suggest one another, they have fastened upon these relations as the laws of Association. In this manner, they have overlooked the fact, that objects suggest each other, only on the ground of a common impression made by each upon the mind, and that the relations existing between then present the reason why they make a common impression, instead of revealing laws of the associating principle. Philosophers have noticed the fact, that some objects are associated on the exclusive ground of a common impression. Yet they have singularly overlooked the universal law of Association revealed in that fact. “Things,” says Mr. Stewart, “ which have no known relation to each other, are often associated, in consequence of their producing similar effects on the mind. Some of the finest poetical allusions are founded on this principle ; and, accordingly, if the reader is not possessed of sensibility congenial to that of the poet, he will be apt to overlook their meaning, or censure them as absurd.” Now, had the question suggested itself to this philosopher, Is not this the condition and ground of all Association of every kind, and do not objects sustaining to each other the relations of resemblance, contiguity in time and place, contrast, cause and effect, and analogy, mutually suggest each other, because, that being thus related, they produce a common impression ? he would have perceived, at once, that his mind had dropped down upon the universal law of Association. Action of the associating Principle in different Individuals.
We are all familiar with the fact, that the action of the associating principle is very different in different individuals. This is evidently owing to two circumstances-natural temperament, and the diverse pursuits of individuals—one thereby being more deeply interested in, and consequently more deeply impressed with different objects, and with different elements of the same object, than another. Let any number of individuals of diverse temperaments, for example, contemplate the same painting, each will be most forcibly impressed with those features of it particularly correlated to his own peculiarities of natural temperament. Hence the corresponding diversity of the action of the associating principle, in such a case. So with a gentleman on a tour of observation, a merchant engaged in the purchase and sale of grain, and a farmer seeking a location for his family, in looking over
the same plantation. Each will contemplate it in the light of the leading idea in his own mind. A corresponding diversity will of course exist in the impressions received, and in the consequent action of the associating principle.
Influence of Habit. That actions and trains of thought, to which we have been long familiar, are performed and carried on by us with a degree of ease and exactness perfectly unaccountable to a new beginner, is obvious to every one. In respect to the ease and exactness yith which trains of physical actions to which we have become habituated are repeated, two reasons may be assigned.
The first is, a certain conformation of the physical organization, so that, as soon as the train is commenced, the action of the muscles in obedience to the will is spontaneous and necessary in a given order of action.
The second is, the fact that all the actions under consideration have become indissolubly associated with the same state of mind. Of course, as soon as that state is reproduced, those actions are spontaneously suggested in their proper order.
The same remarks are equally applicable to trains of thought to which we have become habituated. When the mind has often existed in a certain state, there is, as shown above, a strong tendency, spontaneously, or on the slightest impression, to recur to that state again. The train of thought having become associated with this state is, of course, pursued with precision and facility.
Standards of Taste and Fashion. " A mode of dress,” says Dugald Stewart, “ which at first appears awkward, acquires in a few weeks or months, the appearance of elegance. By being accustomed to see it worn by others whom we consider as models of taste, it becomes associated with the agreeable impressions which we receive from the ease, and grace, and refinement of their manners.?! Thus the pronunciation common to the higher classes in Edinburg, while it remained the capital of Scotland, and which was then regarded as the standard of purity in diction, has now become barbarous, in consequence of the removal of the capital to London.
Vicissitudes in respect to such Standards. Every one is familiar with the perpetual vicissitudes in dress, and everything, the chief recommendation of which is fashion. The remarks of Mr. Stewart on this point also, are so much to the purpose, and so well expressed, that I will venture another citation from him. “ It is evident that, as far as the agreeable effect of ornament arises from association, the effect will continue only while it is confined to the higher orders. When it is adopted by the multitude, it not only ceases to be associated with ideas of taste and refinement, but it is associated with ideas of affectation, absurd imitation, and vulgarity. It is accordingly laid aside by the higher orders, who studiously avoid every circumstance in external appearance, which is debased by low and common use; and they are led to exercise their invention in the introduction of some new peculiarities, which first become fashionable, then common, and last of all are abandoned as vulgar." There is one circumstance which Mr. Stewart has not mentioned, which has perhaps quite as much influence in inducing these vicissitudes as that presented above. “ The higher classes” are pleased with revolutions in society which are visibly produced by themselves, and which do not diminish, but increase and render manifest, to themselves and the world, their own controlling influence. In the perpetual vicissitudes of costume, proceeding from and controlled by themselves, they are continually manifested to themselves as the glass of fashion, and the mould of form.” Thus a continued gratification of the love of power is enjoyed, a motive not the most commendable to be sure, but yet quite as real as that above presented.
Peculiarities of Genius associated with Judgment, or correct
Taste. We are now able to state distinctly the peculiarities of true genius, when associated with good Judgment. It consists in distinguishing those things which please simply in consequence of accidental associations, like those above referred to, from those which are correlated to the original and changeless principles of our nature, and in thus shadowing forth the real and permanent forms of beauty, sublimity, and fitness. Those forms of thought which stand correlated to the current opinions of the day, may have a wide-spread