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ple act of seeing the eye can take in a considerabie field at one look; but no object in the field is seen distinctly, but that singly which fixes the attention: in a profound reverie that totally occupies he attention, we scarce see what is directly before us. In a train of perceptions, the attention being divided among various objects, no particular object makes such a figure as it would do single and apart. Hence, the stillness of night contributes to terror, there being nothing lo divert the attention: Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. Æneid, II.
All things were full of horror and affright,
And dreadful even the silence of the night.
Mourning Bride, Act V. Sc. &. And hence it is, that an object seen at the termination of a confined view, is more agreeable than when seen in a group with the surrounding objects:
The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
No better a musician than the wren. Merchant of Venice. 35. In matters of slight importance, attention is mostly directed by will; and for that reason, it is our own fault ii triling objects make any deep impression. Had we power equally to withhold our attention froin matters of importance, we might be proof against any deep impression. But our power fails us here: an interesting object seizes and fixes the attention beyond the possibility of contro.; and while our attention is thus forcibly attached to one object, others may solicit for admittance; but in vain, for they will not be regarded Thus a small misfortune is scarcely felt in presence of a greater:
Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much, that this contentious storm
King Lear, Act III. Sc. 4. are sweeter, as well as greater, in the night than in the day; and I suppose the are sweeter to blind men than to others: and it is manifest, that between slecping and waking, when all the senses are bound and suspended, music is far sweetes than when one is fully waking
36. Genus, species, modificalion, are terms invented to distinguish peings from each other. Individuals are distinguished by their qualities. A number of individuals considered with respect to qualities that distinguish them from others, is termed a species : a plurality of speries considered with respect to their distinguishing qualities, is termed a genus. That quality which distinguisheth one genus, one species. or even one individual, from another, is termed a modification : thus the same particular that is termed a property or quality when considered as belonging to an individual, or a class of individuals, is termed a modification when considered as distinguishing the indi vidual or the class from another: a black skin and soft curled hair, are properties of a negro: the same circumstances considered as marks that distinguish a negro from a man of a different species, are denominated modifications.
37. Objects of sight, being complex, are distinguishable into the several particulars that enter into the composition: these objects are all colored; and they all have length, breadth, and thickness. When I behold a spreading oak, I distinguish in that object, size, figure, color, and sometimes motion : in a flowing river, I distinguish color, figure, and constant motion; a die has color, black spots, six plain surfaces, all equal and uniform. Objects of touch have all of them extension: some of them are felt rough, some smooth : some of them are hard, some soft. With respect to the other senses, some of their objects are simple, some complex. A sound, a taste, a smell, may be so simple as not to be distinguishable into parts: others are perceived to be compounded of different sounds, different tastes, and different smells.
38. The eye at one look can grasp a number of objects, as of trees in a field, or men in a crowd: these objects having each a separate and independent existence, are distinguishable in the mind, as well as in reality; and there is nothing more easy than to abstract from some and to confine our contemplation to others. A large oak with its spreading branches fixes our attention upon itself, and abstracts us from the shrubs that surround it. In the same manner, with respect to compound sounds, tastes, or smells, we can fix our thoughts upon any one of the component parts, abstracting our attention from the rest. The power of abstraction is not confined to objects that are separable in reality as well as mentally; but also takes place where there can be no real separation : the size, the figure, the color, of a tree, are inseparably connected, and have no independent existence; the same of length, breadth, and thickness: and yet we can mentally confine our observations to one of these, abstracting from the rest. Here abstraction takes place where there cannot be a real separation.
39. Space and time have occasioned much metaphysical jargon; but after the power of abstraction is explained as above, there remains no difficulty about them. It is mentioned above, that space as well as place enter into the perception of every visible object: a tree is perceived as existing in a certain place, and as occupying a certain space Now, by the power of abstraction, space may be considered
abstractedly from the body that occupies it; and hence the abstract term space. In the same manner, existence may be considered abstractedly from any particular thing that exists; and place may be considered abstractedly from any particular thing that may be in it. Every series or succession of things, suggests the idea of time; and time may be considered abstractedly from any series of succession. In the same manner, we acquire the abstract term motion, rest, number, and a thousand other abstract terms; an excellent contrivance for improving speech, as without it speech would be wofully impersect. Brute animals may have some obscure notion of these circumstances, as connected with particular objects: an ox probably perceives that he takes longer time to go round a long ridge in the plough, than a short one; and he probably perceives when he is one of four in the yoke, or only one of two. But the power of abstraction is not bestowed on brute animals; because to them it would be altogether useless, as they are incapable of speech.
40. This power of abstraction is of great utility. A carpenter considers a log of wood with regard to hardness, firmness, color, and texture: a philosopher, neglecting these properties, makes the log undergo a chemical analysis; and examines its taste, its smell, and its component principles: the geometrician confines his reasoning to the figure, the length, breadth, and thickness. In general, every artist, abstracting from all other properties, confines his observations to those which have a more immediate connection with his profession.
41. It is observed above, p. 478, that there can be no such thing as a general idea ; that all our perceptions are of particular objects, and that our secondary perceptions or ideas must be equally so. Precisely, for the same reason, there can be no such thing as an abstract idea. We cannot form an idea of a part without taking in the whole; nor of motion, color, figure, independent of a body. No man will say that he can form any idea of beauty, till he think of a person endued with that quality; nor that he can form an idea of weight, till he takes under consideration a body that is weighty. And when he takes under consideration a body endued with one or other of the properties mentioned, the idea he forms is not an abstract or general idea, but the idea of a particular body with its properties. But though a part and the whole, a subject and its attributes, an effect and its cause, are so intimately connected, as that an idea cannot be formed of the one independent of the other; yet we can reason upon the one abstracting from the other.
This is done by words signifying the thing to which the reasoning is confined; and such words are denominated abstract terms. The meaning and use of an abstract term is well understood, though of itself, unless other particulars be taken in, it raises no image nor idea in the mind. In language it serves excellent purpose; by it different figures, different colors, can be compared, without the trou. ble of conceiving them as belonging to any particular subject; and they contribute with words significant to raise images or ideas in the mind.
42. The power of abstraction is bestowed on man, for the purpose sole. ly of reasoning. It tends greatly to the facility as well as clearness of any process of reasoning, that, luying aside every other circumstance,we can confine our attention to ue: ir lt ,'r perty we desire to investigate.
43. Abstract terms may be separated into three different kinds, all equally subservient to the reasoning faculty. Individuals appear to have no end; and did we not possess the faculty of distributing them into classes, the mind would be lost in an endless maze, and no progress be made in knowledge. It is by the faculty of abstraction that we distri bute beings into genera and species : finding a number of individuals connected by certain qualities common to all, we give a name to these individuals considered as thus connected, which name, by gathering them together into one class, serves to express the whole of these individuals as distinct from others. Thus the word animal serves to denote every being that can move voluntarily; and the words man, horse, lion, &c. answer similar purposes. This is the first and most common sort of abstraction; and it is of the most extensive use, by enabling us to comprehend in our reasoning whole kinds and sorts, instead of individuals, without end. The next sort of abstract terms comprehends a number of individualobjects, considered asconnected by some occasional relation. A great number of persons collected in one place, without any other relation than merely that of contiguity, are denominated a crowd: in forming this term, we abstract from sex,
from condition, from dress, &c. A number of persons connected by the same laws and by the same government, are termed a nation:and a number of men under the same military command, are termed an army. A third sort of abstraction is, where a single property or part, which may be common to many individuals, is selected to be the subject of our contemplation; for example, whiteness, heat, beauty, length, roundness, head, arm.
44. Abstract terms are a happy invention: it is by their incans chief ly, that the particulars which make the subject of our reasoning are brought into close union, and separated from all others however naturally connected. Without the aid of such terms, the mind could never be kept steady to its proper subject, but be perpetually in hazard of assuming foreign circumstances, or neglecting what are essential. We can, without the aid of language, compare real objects by intuition, when these objects are present; and when absent, we can compare them in idea. But when we advance farther, and attempt to make inferences and draw conclusions, we always employ abstract terms, even in thinking; it would be as difficult to reason without them, as to perforin operations in algebra without signs; for there is scarcely any reasoning without some degree of abstraction, and we cannot easily abstract without using abstract terms. Hence it follows, that without language man would scarcely be a rational being.
15. The same thing, in different respects, has different names. With respect to certain qualities, it is termed a substance ; with respect 10 other qualities, a body; and with respect to qualities of all soris, a subject. It is termed a passive subject with respect to an action exerted upon it; an object with respect to a percipient: a cause with respect to the effect it produces; and an effect with respect to its cause.
ABSTRACTION, power of, 486. Its use, tion, ib. Opinion and belief in
enced by affection, 88. Affection des
poetry, 122, 401. Cannot be com- Agamemnon, of Seneca censured, 231.
disagreeable. See Object.
cents that are necessary in an hexam 438, 439.
an historical poem, 424.
All for Love, of Dryden censured, 235.
talents of an actor, 206. An actor Anticlimax, 286.
Apostrophe, 359, &c.
Appearance, things ought to be described
in poetry, as they appear, not as they
are in reality, 393.
To blood-relations, ib. Affection for ger, thirst, animal love, arise without