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IN new-born children, this sense is not yet active; but it improves by degrees, and in proportion as the vigour of the organ increases. It is a very common opinion, that music, and the faculty of speech, are the result of the sense of hearing; but this notion is erroneous.
As already mentioned, the auditory apparatus being excited to activity by an external cause, produces only the impression of sound: and here its functions terminate. If, besides, the faculty of Tune is possessed by any individual, melody in sounds is perceived by that faculty. If the faculty is not possessed, such perceptions cannot exist. Hence, among birds, the female hears as well as the male; and yet the song of the male is very much superior to that of the female. Among mankind, also, many individuals hear, and yet are insensible to melody. Thus, both in man and other animals, there is no proportion betwixt the perfection of hearing, and the perfection of the power of per ceiving melody. If it were part of the functions of the auditory apparatus to give the perception of melody, how does it happen that, in one individual, the apparatus can perform only one-half of its functions, while in others it performs the whole? This is not like Nature's work. Finally, hearing cannot produce music; because the auditory apparatus is excited only by sounds, which are already produced. The first musician began to produce music before he had heard it; and he did so from an internal impulse given by a faculty of the mind. Singing-birds, moreover, which have been hatched by strange females, sing naturally, and without any instruction, the song of their species, as soon as their internal organization is active. Hence the males of every species preserve their natural song, though they have been brought up in the society of individuals of a different kind. Hence also musicians, who have lost their hearing, continue to compose. They possess the internal faculty; and it being independent of the auditory
apparatus, conceives the impressions which different sounds naturally produce, long after the ear has ceased to be capable of allowing these sounds to be experienced anew; hence, likewise, deaf and dumb persons have an innate sentiment of measure and cadence. Though, however, hearing does not produce music, yet, without an auditory apparatus, fitted to receive the impressions made by tones, melody could not be perceived; and, unless that apparatus had once been possessed, neither could melody be produced, because the individual could not judge of the impressions which the sounds he made were fitted to make upon those who hear.
It is a very common opinion also, that hearing alone, or hearing and voice jointly, produce the faculty of speech. This error will be refuted, by considering in what any language consists, and how every language is produced. Language has been divided into two kinds, natural and artificial. In both kinds, a certain sign is used to indicate to others certain feelings or ideas of the mind. Various motions of the body, and expressions of the countenance, indicate, the moment they are beheld, certain emotions and sentiments. In this case, the expression of the countenance, or the motion of the body, is a sign fitted by nature to excite in us the perception of the feeling. It is obvious, that the power of the sign, in this case, to excite the perception, does not depend either upon hearing or voice; for neither is employed in producing it: but that the effect is an ultimate fact of our constitution, which must be referred to the will of our Creator. Besides these signs, however, we make use of many others to communicate our thoughts, which have no original connexion with the things signified. For example, the word TABLE has no necessary connexion with the thing upon which I now write. How, then, does the word come to indicate the thing? The internal faculties first conceive the object: having done so, they wish to fix upon a sign by which that conception shall be always indicated again. They, therefore, employ the
voice to make the sound which we express when we utter the word table. The thing itself being pointed out, and the sound being uttered at the same time, the meaning of it comes to be understood; and hence every time it is pronounced, the idea of the thing is suggested. But we are not to suppose that the auditory apparatus, or the organs of voice, conceive the idea of the table. This was done by the internal faculties alone; and these merely made use of the organs of voice as instruments for producing a sign. Hence the reason why monkeys do not speak is, not because they want the sense of hearing, and organs of voice, but because they have not certain internal faculties, which fix upon signs to indicate the conceptions formed by the
The proper function, then, of the sense of hearing, is confined to the production of the impressions which we call sounds; yet it assists a great number of internal faculties.
The auditory nerve has a more intimate connexion with the organs of the moral sentiments, than with those of the intellectual faculties.
THIS fifth and last of the senses, is the second of those which inform man and other animals of remote objects, by means of an intermedium; and the intermedium, in this instance, is Light.
This sense has been said to acquire its functions by touch or by habit. Bishop BERKLEY is supposed by the metaphysicians to have discovered the true theory of vision, and the result of his investigation is, "that a man born blind, being made to see, would not at first have any idea of distance by sight. The sun and stars, the remotest objects as well as the nearest, would all seem to be in his eye, or rather in his mind."-STEWART's Dissert. p. ii. 109. Dr REID, and many other philosophers, have written ingenious disquisitions, to shew that our perceptions of distance, figure, and motion, are acquired. These speculations have
proceeded on the principle, that Nature has done little for man, and that he does a great deal for himself, in endowing himself with perceptive powers. But vision depends on the organization of the eye; and is weak or energetic, as the organization is imperfect or perfect. Some animals come into the world with perfect eyes; and these see perfectly from the first. The butterfly and honey-bee fly at the first attempt, through fields and flowery meadows; and the young partridge and chicken run through stubble and corn fields. The sparrow, on taking its first flight from the nest, does not strike its head against a wall, or mistake the root of a tree for its branches; and yet, previous to its first attempt at flight, it can have no experience of distance.
On the other hand, animals which come into the world with eyes in an imperfect state, distinguish size, shape, and distance, only by degrees. This last is the case with newborn children. During the first six weeks after birth, their eyes are almost insensible to light; and it is only by degrees that they become fit to perform their natural functions. When the organs are so far matured, however, the children see, without habit or education, as well and as accurately as the greatest philosopher.
Indeed, as has been formerly mentioned, the kind of perception which we enjoy by means of the eyes, is dependent solely on the constitution of the eyes, and the relation established betwixt them and the refraction of light. So little power has experience to alter the nature of our perceptions, that even in some cases where we discover, by other senses, that the visible appearance of objects is illusive, we still continue to see that appearance the same as before. For example, the greatest philosopher, standing at one end of a long alley of trees, cannot see the opposite rows equally distant from one another at the farthest end, as they appear to be at the end nearest to him, even after experience has satisfied him that the fact really is so. He must see according to the laws of perspective, which make the receding rows appear to approach; and there is no difference in
this respect, betwixt his perceptions, and those of the most untutored infant. In like manner, the greatest philosopher, on looking into a concave spoon, cannot see his right hand upon the right side, and his left hand upon the left side, even after he has learned, by the study of the laws of spoon, optics, that the image of himself, which he sees in the is reversed.
So confident, however, is Mr STEWART in the opinion that we learn to see, and do not see instinctively, that he says, "CONDILLAC first thought that the eye judges naturally of figures, of magnitudes, of situations, and of distances. He afterwards was convinced that this was an error, and retracted it." STEWART adds, "nothing short of his own explicit avowal could have convinced me, that a writer of such high pretensions, and of such unquestionable ingenuity as CONDILLAC, had really commenced his metaphysical career under so gross and unaccountable delusion." Mr STEWART also expresses his surprise, that ARISTOTLE should maintain that it is not from seeing often or from hearing often, that we get these senses; but, on the contrary, instead of getting them by using them, we use them because we have got them."
It is worth while to inquire on what grounds the metaphysicians maintain such extraordinary opinions. They are two: first, The fact that new-born children miss the object they mean to seize, and shew clearly that they do not appreciate size, distance, and relative position accurately: Secondly, The fact that a blind man couched by CHESSELDEN, on the first influx of light to the retina, saw all external objects as situated in his eye, and after a few weeks perceived distance and magnitude like ordinary persons. From these facts, the metaphysicians infer that the human being does not perceive distance, size and form instinctively, but learns to do so by experience. The answers are obvious. The eye in the child is not perfect till six weeks after birth. The eye newly couched is not a sound eye instantly, nor do the muscles and various parts which had lain dormant