« VorigeDoorgaan »
bodies, but of a drop of water or of a ray of light; estimating minutely extension and quantity, force, velocity, and resistance.
It is not thus with the human mind. That the mind has its laws is true; but it knows what those laws are; whereas matter does not. This makes a great difference. Matter yields a blind and unconscious obedience; but the mind is able to exercise a foresight; to place itself in new situations; to subject itself to new influences; to surround itself with new motives, and thus control, in a measure, its own laws. In a word, mind is free; we have the best evidence of it, that of our own consciousness. But matter, as we learn from all our observations of it, may justly be characterized as a slave. It does not turn to the right or left ; it does not do this or that, as it chooses; it possesses no self-determining and self-moving element; but, the subject of an overpowering allotment, it is borne onward to the appointed mark by an inflexible destiny.-If these views be correct, we see here a new reason for not confounding and identifying these two ex istences.
9 19. No exact correspondence between the mental and bodily state.
The train of thought in the last section naturally leads us to remark further, that there is an absence of that precise correspondence between the mental and bodily state which would evidently follow from the admission of materialism. Those who make thought and feeling the result of material organization, commonly locate that organization in the brain. It is there the great mental exercises, in the phraseology of materialists, are secreted, or are developed, or are brought out in some other mysterious way, by means of a purely physical combination and action. Hence, such is the fixed and unalterable nature of matter and its results, if the brain be destroyed, the soul must be destroyed also; if the brain be injured, the soul is proportionally injured ; if the material action be disturbed, there must be an exactly corresponding disturbance of the mental action. The state of the mind, on a fair interpretation of this doctrine, is not less dependant on that of the body than the complicated motions of the planetary system are on the law of gravitation But this view, whether we assign the residence of the soul to the brain or to any other part of the bodily system, does not appear to be accordant with fact. It is not only far from being approved and borne out, but it is directly contradicted by well-attested experience in a multitude of cases.
$ 20. Evidence of this want of exact correspondence. We are desirous not to be misapprehended here. We readily grant that the mind, in our present state of existence, has a connexion with the physical system, and particularly with the brain. It is, moreover, obviously a natural consequence of this, that, when the body is injured, the mental power and action are in some degree affected; and this we find to be agreeable to the facts that come within our observation. But it is to be particularly noticed, that the results are just such as might be expected from a mere connexion of being; and are evidently not such as might be anticipated from an identity of being.
In the latter case, the material part could never be affected, whether for good or evil, without a result precisely corresponding in the mind. But, in point of fact, this is not the case. The body is not unfrequently injured when the mind is not so; and, on the other hand, the soul sometimes appears to be almost entirely prostrated when the body is in a sound and active state.
How many persons have been mutilated in battle, in every possible way short of an utter destruction of animal life, and yet have dis covered at such times a more than common greatness of mental power! How often, when the body is not only partially weakened, but is resolving, at the hour of death, into its original elements, and possesses not a single capability entire, the mind, remaining in undiminished strength, puts forth the energy and beauty of past days !
We are now speaking of injuries to our corporeal part, and of bodily debility in general; but if we look to + € rain in particular, which is more intimately connected with the mental action than any other part of the bodily system, we shall find ourselves fully warranted in an ex
tension of these views there. According to the system of the materialists, the soul does not merely exist and act in connexion with the body, but is identical with it. And not only this, they go further, and locate this identity in the brain, making the soul and the brain not merely connected together, but identically the same thing. But the objection to their views, which, in its general form, has already been made, exists here in full strength. If that organization, which they hold to result in thought and feeling, be identical with the brain, it must be diffused through the whole of that organ, or limited to some particular part. But it appears, from an extensive collection of well-authenticated facts, that every part of the brain has been injured, and almost every part absolutely removed, but without permanently affecting the mental powers, which is absolutely impossible if there be an identity of the two things. “Every part of that structure,” says Dr. Ferriar, in a learned Memoir, “has been deeply injured or totally destroyed, without impeding or changing any part of the process of thought.” He re marks again, after bringing forward a considerable number of well-authenticated facts, as follows: “On reviewing the whole of this evidence, I am disposed to conclude, that, as no part of the brain appears essentially necessary to the existence of the intellectual faculties, and as the whole of its visible structure has been materially changed without affecting the exercise of those faculties, something more than the discernible organization must be requisite to produce the phenomena of thinking."*
0 21. Comparative state of the mind and body in dreaming. The views of the two preceding sections receive some confirmation from the comparative state of the mind and body in dreaming.—In sound sleep, the senses sink into a state of utter and unconscious sluggishness; the inlet to everything external, as far as we can judge, is shut up; the muscles become powerless, and everything in the body has the appearance of death. It is true, the soul appears, for the most part, to be fallen into a like state of imbecility; but this is not the case in its dreams, which are
* Memoirs of the Manchester Philos. Society, vol iv
known to take up no small portion of the hours of sleep. At such times it does not appear to stand in need of the
repose with the body; otherwise it would seek and possess it. On the contrary, when the powers of the hody are utterly suspended, the soul is often exceedingly on the alert; it rapidly passes from subject to subject, attended sometimes with sad and sometimes with raised and, joyful affections.
But this is not all: often, in the hours of sleep, the intellect exhibits an increased invention, a quickened and more exalted energy in all its powers. Many writers have remarked, that the conclusions of abstruse investigations have been suggested to them at such times. Not à few would conclude themselves persons of genius if they could pronounce the arguments and the harangues in the awakened soberness of the morning which they had framed in the visions of the night. Does not this state of things seem to indicate that there is a natural and fundamental distinction between the mental and the material part of man?
$ 22. The great works of genius an evidence of immateriality Now let us look at what mind, in man's awakened moments, is able to accomplish, and see if the results of its action, in its higher and nobler exercises, are such as we commonly expect from or ascribe to matter. Look first at the kindred powers of memory and imagination. I am at this moment sitting in my chair, with a book and paper before me, and a pen in my hand. But my memory is aroused, my imagination takes wing, and my soul suddenly finds itself (at least considered in reference to its operations) in a far-distant place. I see distinctly before me the trees which shaded me, and the hills where I wandered in my childhood. The same waters flow before me, the same bright sun shines in the heavens; I see around me a multitude of familiar faces, and embrace, with all the vividness of early affections, my old companions. In this excursion of the soul, how
recollections have been revived! How many feelings have been restored! What pictures of natural and social beauty have been presented to the intellectual sight! But do we commonly, or can we, with any show of reason, ascribe this wonderful power, which transfers us in a moment to the distant and the past, to a mere mass of matter? I think not.
Look, again, at the powers of judgment and reasoning, and of imagination in its greater and more permanent efforts. In doing this, we are to keep in mind that those things which cannot be known directly and in their own essence, are known for the most part simply by their results. And in accordance with this view, which leads us to look from results to causes, I ask myself, What was it that originated and perfected the demonstrations of Euclid ? Where was the authorship of the political institutions of Solon and Lycurgus, of modern England and France, and of that still greater effort of political wisdom, the American Constitution? What was it that infused the breath of immortality into the Iliad and Odyssey ? What was it that gave birth to the wonderful inventions and combinations of the Jerusalem Delivered, the Fairy Queen, and the Paradise Lost? Where shall we look for the origin of the Philippics of the Ancients, or, in later times, of the speeches of Fox and of the orations of Bossuet?,
In these, and in all other cases where human genius has achieved its higher triumphs, we submit it to any one to say, whether mankind generally would be likely to ascribe their origin to a mere lump of matter? When men cast their eyes upon a piece of matter, they look simply for material herbage and flower, leaves and fruit; for something which is addressed, and addressed exclusively, to the taste and touch, the sight and smell; and not for political cxioms and mathematical demonstrations, for flights of fancy and flashes of eloquence. We venture to assert, that the man who gives himself up to the influence of the vast conceptions imbodied in the works and institutions of human genius, will find it as difficult to attribute them to a purely material cause, as it is to adopt the theory of the atheist, and ascribe the beautiful and complicated machinery of the universe to a fortuitous concurrence of atoms.