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number of objects or events with which such impression may have co-existed, and shall hereafter co-exist.
Deep and distinct Impressions, on what conditioned. One inquiry, of no small importance in mental science, here claims our attention, to wit, the circumstances under which impressions received from objects of thought or perception are rendered deep and distinct. Among these I notice the three following, as the most important:
1. Attention. In former Chapters it has been shown that attention is the condition of distinct perception, both in respect to the phenomena of Sense and Consciousness. In walking, for example, we do not remember the particular acts of volition, which directed each particular step. Yet we know that we must have been conscious of such acts. The eye runs carelessly over a particular landscape, and nothing but the most general outline is remembered, while we know that each particular part must have been seen by us. For the want of attention, however, these objects were not distinctly perceived. Of course no distinct and vivid impression was made upon the Mind, and consequently they are not remembered. The manner in which attention influences Memory is two-fold. It not only impresses deeply and distinctly on the Mind particular scenes, each taken as a whole, but all the parts of such scenes. Hence the whole of such scenes will be recalled by the perception or sugges. tion of any particular part, which may be met with in other scenes. That Memory, however, does not depend primarily upon attention, but on the impression made by objects of attention, is evident from the fact, that the ease with which any particular event is recalled, is not proportioned to the degree of attention devoted to it, but to the vividness of the impression received from it.
2. The impression made upon the mind by a particular event, and consequently the ease with which it will be remembered, depends upon the circumstances in which the event occurred-circumstances external to the Mind; such for example, as its occurrence at a time and place unexpected, in connection with other events deeply interesting to us, &c.
3. The impression which events make on the Mind, depends upon the state of the Mind itself, when they occur. Offices of kindness, when we little need them, make a com
paratively slight impression upon the Mind. They are accordingly forgotten with comparative ease. But the stranger who watched over us when we were sick, in a strange land, we never forget, for the obvious reason that such occurrences are deeply impressed upon the Mind. Who is not aware that the impression made upon the Mind in reading a book, listening to a discourse, or witnessing any scene, and consequently the ease and distinctness with which they are recalled, depends greatly upon the state of Mind at the time ? Diversity of Powers nf Memory, as developed in different
Individuals. Assuming the principle, that those things of which we have formed distinct conceptions, and which have deeply moved and affected our Sensibility, will be easily and distinctly remembered, the diverse kinds of Memory, as they appear in different individuals, may be readily explained.
- Philosophic Memory. The philosopher is, above all things, interested in universal truths and general principles, and in facts which illustrate such truths and principles. With names, and minor circumstances of time and place, he has little or no interest. These, of course, he seldom recalls; while general principles and facts connected with, and illustrative of general principles, he never forgets. Here we have the peculiarities of what may be called Philosophical Memory.
- Local Memory. With general principles, however, the mass of men are very little interested. Events, as mere events, with all their circumstances of time, place, &c., are the things which chiefly interest them. In such cases, general principles, if understood at all, will readily pass from the Mind, while facts and events, with all their adventitious circumstances, will leave their permanent impress upon it. Here we have the characteristics of what is called Local Memory. .
Artificial Memory. The third and only other kind of Memory which it is necessary to notice, is called Artificial Memory, a method of connecting things easily remembered with those which are recalled with greater difficulty, that the latter may be recalled by means of the former. The manner in which the principle of suggestion operates in this instance, may be readily explained. The two objects are brought into the relation of co-existence with one and the same state of Mind; and the familiar object, by exciting that state, recalls the one less familiar. The inexpediency of resorting to such associations, excepting upon trivial subjects, is so obvious as not to need any particular remarks.
A few topics of a somewhat miscellaneous character, connected with our present inquiries will close this Chapter.
A ready and retentive Memory. The distinction between what is called a ready, and a retentive Memory, next demands attention. A philosophical Memory is known to be the most retentive and least ready. General principles are regarded by the philosopher, as above all price. These of course he never forgets. For the same reason, facts and events, connected with, and illustrative of general principles leave an impress equally permanent upon his mind. The Memory of such a person however, will not, in ordinary circumstances, be ready, for the obvious reason, that when he wishes to recall any particular fact, he finds it necessary first to recall the general principle with which it was associated. For the same reason, Local Memory will be more ready, but less retentive. The qualities in objects with which such persons are interested, exist alike in such an infinite variety of objects, that when this quality is met with, a great multitude of similar objects will be at once suggested. They will generally be those however, which have been most recently seen. Persons possessing Local Memory merely, will excel in common conversation, and in what may be called loose and rambling composition. Philosophical Memory, displays itself in the laboratory, the hall of science, on the bench, in the lecture room, and pulpit. The vast and diverse Power of Memory possessed by different
Individuals. The degree in which this faculty is developed in different individuals, may now be readily accounted for. It is owing, as I suppose, to two circumstances-natural diversities in
which the power is possessed by different individuals, and an accidental direction of the power. Themistocles knew every citzen of Athens by name. Cyrus and Hannibal had each a similar knowledge of every soldier in his respective army. Their original endowments made them capable of such acquisitions. They made such acquisitions, because they considered them necessary to the end they designed to accomplish.
· Improvement of Memory. But for the faculty under consideration, the past would be to us, as if it had not been. No advantages could be derived from experience of our own or that of others. Existence, at each successive moment, must be commenced anew. The same errors and follies, which formerly occurred, must be repeated, without the possibility of improvement. Through this faculty, the past furnishes the chart and compass for the future. The progress of improvement is onward, with perpetually accumulating force. The question, therefore, How can this faculty be improved ? presents itself, as of special importance. The following suggestions may not be out of place on this point:
1. The first thing to be kept distinctly in Mind, in all plans for the permanent improvement of Memory, is the principle on which its ready and retentive action depends, to wit, deep and distinct impression. All our plans for the accomplishment of the object under consideration, should be forined with direct reference to this one principle.
2. As impressions depend very much upon distinctness of conception, in all efforts, to improve this faculty, we should habituate ourselves to form distinct conceptions of objects especially of those which we wish to recollect. In this, manner the impression will not only be deep and permanent, but the notion associated with it being distinct, will, when recalled, possess a corresponding distinctness.
3. In thought, the object should be located, in distinct relation to the circumstances of time and place with which it is associated. In this manner the impression and conception both will not only be rendered deep and distinct, but each circumstance referred to, as it recurs in connection with other thoughts and perceptions will, by exciting the feelings under consideration, recall the object associated with it.
u Knowledge, in order to be retained permanently, must be sustematized and reduced to general permanent principles. Otherwise, it will be exclusively subject to the law of local Association which is so temporary in respect to retention.
A To converse with others, and write down our thoughts which we wish to retain, contributes to permanency and distinctness of recollection. Knowledge, by this means, is rendered distinct, the corresponding impression deep and permanent, and the whole subject of thought most likely to he systematically arranged. All these circumstances tend to render Memory distinct and permanent.
5. Memory also, to be improved, must be trusted, but at the same time, not overburdened, as is the case when everything is communicated to it, without the aid of a judicious diary of important thoughts and occurrences. That faculty which is not exercised will not be developed and improved. Memory is not exempt from this law. At the same time, to overburden a faculty is a sure way to palsy its energies. Nothing but Reflection and Judgment, properly exercised, can fix upon the line where memory should and should not be trusted, without the aid of written records of our thoughts, and thus secure a proper development of this faculty.
Memory of the Aged. One of the first indications of the approaching feebleness of age, is the failure, in a greater or less degree, of the power of Memory. A characteristic precisely the opposite is also sometimes presented in the experience of aged persons-a a wonderful revival of the Memory of the occurrences of early life. A lady of my acquaintance, for example, aged about ninety years, had occasion to amuse some of her greatgrandchildren one day. She thought she would, as a means to this end, relate to them the substance of a story, related in verse, which she had read, when quite young. She had never committed it to memory, and doubtless had thought little of it for more than half a century. As she commenced the story, the entire poem came fresh to her recollection. She could repeat it all, word for word. These two facts in the experience of the aged, the failure, on the one hand, and the wonderful revival of this power, on the other, need to be accounted for
In respect to the first class of phenomena, two reasons may be assigned for their existence.