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utmost advantage of his opponent, however much against his own internal convictions of right and justice.
Such a course, to say nothing of its moral turpitude, effectually unsettles that part of our mental economy which concerns the grounds and laws of belief. The practice of inventing cunningly-devised objections against argurnents known to be sound, necessarily impairs the influence which such arguments ought ever to exert over
Hence the remark has been made with justice, that persons
who addict themselves to this practice frequently end in becoming skeptics. They have so often perplexed, and apparently overthrown what they felt to be true, they at last question the existence of any fixed grounds of belief in the human constitution, and begin to doubt of everything.
This effect, even when there is an undoubted regard for the truth, will be found to follow from habits of ardent disputation, unless there be a frequent recurrence to the original principles of the mind which relate to the nature and laws of belief. The learned Chillingworth is an instance. The consequences to which the training up of his vast powers to the sole art of disputation finally led, are stated by Clarendon.-“Mr. Chillingworth had spent all his younger time in disputations, and had arrived at so great a mastery, that he was inferior to no man in those skirmishes; but he had, with his notable perfection in this exercise, contracted such an irresolution and habit of doubting, that, by degrees, he grew confident of nothing. Neither the books of his adversaries nor any of their persons, though he was acquainted with the best of both, had ever made great impression on him. All his doubts grew out of himself, wher he assisted his scruples with all the strength of his own reason, and was then too hard for himself.")
$206. Imagination an intellectual process, closely related to reasoning.
LEAVING the subject of reasoning, we next proceed to the consideration of the Imagination; which, as well as the reasoning power, obviously comes under the general head of the Intellect rather than of the Sensibilities. It is true, we are apt to associate the exercises of the heart with those of the imagination, and undoubtedly we have some reason for doing so; but in doing this we are liable not merely to associate, but to identify and confound them. But they are, in fact, essentially different. An exercise of the Imagination, in itself considered, is purely an intellectual process. The process may, indeed, be stimulated and accelerated by a movement of the sensi. bilities; there may be various extraneous influences operating either to increase or to diminish its vivacity and energy; but the process itself, considered separately from contingent circumstances, is wholly intellectual. So that he who possesses a creative and well-sustained imagination, may be said, with no small degree of truth, to possess a powerful intellect, whatever torpidity may characterize the region of the affections.
The imagination is not only entitled to be ranked under the general head of the Intellect, in clistinction from the Sensibilities, but it is to be remarked further, which may, perhaps, have escaped the notice of some, that it possesses, especially in the process or mode of its action, a close affinity with the reasoning power. It is a remark ascribed to D'Alembert, whose great skill in mathematics would seem to justify his giving an opinion on such a subject, that the imagination is brought into exercise in geometrical processes; which is probably true, so far as some of the mental acis involved in imagination, such as association and the perception of relations, are conrerned. And, in illustration of his views, he intimates, in
the same connexion, that Archimedes the geometrician, of all the great men of antiquity, is best entitled to be placed by the side of Homer.* Certain it is, that, in some important respects, there is an intimate relationship between the powers in question, the deductive and imaginative. They both imply the antecedent exercise of the power of abstraction; they are both occupied in framing new combinations of thought from the elements already in possession; they both put in requisition, and in precisely the same way, the powers of association and relative suggestion. But, at the same time, they are separated from each other and characterized by the two circumstances, that their objects are different, and that they operate, in part, on different materials. Reasoning, as it aims to give us a knowledge of the truth, deals exclusively with facts more or less probable. Imagination, as it aims chiefly to give pleasure, is at liberty to transcend the limits of the world of reality, and, consequently, often deals with the mere conceptions of the mind, whether they correspond to reality or not. Accordingly, the one ascertains what is true, the other what is possible; the office of the one is to inquire, of the other to create; reasoning is exercised within the limits of what is known and actual, while the appropriate empire of the imagination is the region of the conjectural and conceivable
0 307. Definition of the power of imagination. Without delaying longer upon the subject, which, however, is not without its importance, of the place which imagination ought to occupy in a philosophical classification of the mental powers, we next proceed to consider more particularly what imagination is, and in what manner it operates.—Imagination is a complex exercise of the mind, by means of which various conceptions are combined together so as to form new wholes. The conceptions have properly enough been regarded as the materials from which the new creations are made; but it is not until after the existe ace of those mental acts, which are employed in every process of imagination, that they tre fixed upon, detained, and brought out from their state of singleness into happy and beautiful combinations.
* Stewart's Historical Dissertation, Presatory Remarks.
Our conceptions have been compared to shapeless stones as they exist in the quarry, which require little more than mechanic labour to convert them into common dwellings, but that rise into palaces and temples only at the command of architectural genius.” That rude and little more than mechanic effort, which converts the shapeless stones of the quarry into common dwellings, may justly be considered, when divested of its metaphorical aspect, a correct representation of this mental property, as it exists among the great mass of mankind; while the architectural genius which creates palaces and temples is the well-furnished and sublime imagination of poets, painters, and orators.
We speak of imagination as a complex mental operation, because it implies, in particular, the exercise of the power of association in furnishing those conceptions which are combined together; also the exercise of the power of relative suggestion, by means of which the combination is effected.
0 308. Process of the mind in the creations of the imagination.
It may assist us in more fully understanding the nature of imagination if we endeavour to examine the intellectual operations of one who makes a formal effort at writing, whether the production he has in view be poetical or of some other kind.—A person cannot ordinarily be supposed to sit down to write on any occasion whatever, whether it involve a higher or less degree of the exercise of the imagination, without having some general idea of the subject to be written upon already in the mind. The general idea, or the subject in its outlines, must be supposed to be already present. He accordingly commences the task before him with the expectation and the desire of developing the subject more or less fully, of giving to it not only a greater continuity and a better arrangement, but an increased interest in every respect. As he feels interested in the topic which he pro
. poses to write upon, he can, of course, by a mere act of the will, although he might not have been able, in the first
instance, to have originated it by such an act, detain it before him for a length of time.
Various conceptions continue, in the mean while, to arise in the mind, on the common principles of association; but, as the general outline of the subject remains fixed, they all have a greater or less relation to it. And partaking, in some measure of the permanency of the outline to which they have relation, the writer has an opportunity to approve some and to reject others, according as they impress him as being suitable or unsuitable to the nature of the subject. Those which affect him with emotions of pleasure, on account of their perceived fitness for the subject, are retained and committed to writing; while others, which do not thus affect and interest him, soon fade away altogether.—Whoever carefully notices the operations of his own mind when he makes an effort at composition, will probably be well satisfied that this account of the intellectual process is very near the truth.
309. Further remarks on the same subject. The process, therefore, stated in the most simple and concise terms, is as follows. We first think of some subject. With the original thought or design of the subject, there is a coexistent desire to investigate it, to adorn it, to present it to the examination of others. The effect of this desire, followed and aided as it naturally is at such times by an act of the will, is to keep the general subject in mind; and, as the natural consequence of the exercise of association, various conceptions arise, in some way or other related to the general subject. Of some of these conceptions we approve in consequence of their perceived fitness to the end in view, while we reject others on account of the absence of this requisite quality of agreeableness or fitness.
For the sake of convenience and brevity, we give the name of IMAGINATION to this complex state or series of states of the mind. It is important to possess a single term expressive of the complex intellectual process; otherwise, as we so frequently have occasion to refer to it in common conversation, we should be subjected, if not properly to a circumlocution, at least to an unnecessary