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ceptions, imaginations, which it is the part of our race to evolve, and, as it were, introduce into the universe-then we may do more than consent to allow a proportion of our number to devote themselves expressly, under certain laws, to this function of speech ; we may encourage them to do so, and honour them, if they do so worthily, as almost the consecrated delegates of our species, the followers of a calling more specifically human than
But Mr. Carlyle's views on this subject, it is easy to see, must be speculatively connected in some profound manner with that peculiar feature in his own development, to which, in the earlier part of this paper, we ventured to direct attention. Having himself begun as a devotee of pure literature, and having in the end forsaken it, or nearly so, to become directly and with all his force a social power in the country, he calls on all others that feel high stirrings within them to begin rather, according to their power and opportunities, with that mode of activity wherein he has in aspiration ended. The whole worth of this advice, given so earnestly by so great a man, it is not for any word of ours to estimate. One remark, however, we may be permitted to offer in conclusion. In the character of every individual of great mark or effect in the world, it may be observed that some particular quality, or combination of qualities, exists in an unprecedented degree; as if Nature, in every such instance, had purposed to go to her very uttermost in one particular direction. Now, as Nature never repeats herself, she will never again, in developing a man of equal mark, take the same plan as she has taken with Mr. Carlyle. Hence it ought to be the aim of all very daring aspirants among his readers rather to digest and ponder his rich conclusions than implicitly to follow his route.
The Philosophy of Language.
ART. II.— The Philosophy of Language; Part I., Universal Grammar. By Sir John STODDART, Knt., LL.D.
Second Edition. London, 1849.
At the marriage festivities of Mercury and Philology, as reported by Marcianus Capella, there appeared, among other guests, an elderly lady of a mild and pleasing aspect, whose dress and accoutrements seemed to mark her as a professor of medicine or a calculator of nativities.* She bore in her hand, among other somewhat unusual specimens of female ornament, a certain bitter drug, of a scarlet colour, composed of the growth of the cane and of thongs of goatskin, the virtues of which are described in terms which might lead the reader to suspect an anticipation of certain modern tooth-powders. It “purified the gums, and imparted a pleasing fragrance to the breath.”† The fair stranger, however, put an end to all doubt as to her country and profession, by announcing herself as Egyptian by birth, Athenian by adoption, and called by the latter people Grammatica, from her office of delineating alphabetical characters.
Reader, herein is mystery. Hermes, the bridegroom of the fable, is none other than the Trismegistus of the Neo-Platonists and of Mr. Shandy, " the greatest king, the greatest lawgiver, the greatest philosopher, and the greatest priest—and engineer.” Metaphor apart, Hermes is the heaven-born Reason, and his mortal bride Philologia represents the whole cycle of human learning
If some Capella of the nineteenth century were to write a new matrimonial allegory, the customs of modern society would demand considerable alteration in the details of the description. Instead of Apollo to extol the personal and mental graces of the bride, and a senate of gods to decree her apotheosis, and Juno Pronuba to bless the marriage, there would be stipulations concerning fortune, and a lawyer to draw up the necessary instruments, and the careful father of the maiden to demand of the ardent lover whether he, Mercury, god of thieves, had the means of procuring an honest living, and what settlements he could afford to make on the object of his affections. And by a happy coincidence, rarely found in the history of allegories, the fiction, thus modified, would not inadequately represent a corresponding change in the method of philosophy.
* “ Quum deorum nonnulli latricen, alii Genethliacen, diversis rerum operibus æstimarept.”
† “ Tunc etiam quoddam medicamen acerrimum, quod ex ferulæ flore caprigenique tergoris resectione confecerat, rubri admodum coloris, exprompsit, quod Inonebat faucibus admovendum, cum indocta rusticitate vexatæ, fætidos ructus vitiosi oris exhalant.” Capella seems to have regarded grammatical solecisms in the same light as Beatrice did abuses of language of another kind. “ Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome.” The medicine, as our junior readers will probably testify, retains its virtues to the present day. Sooth to say, if our schoolboy recollecticus prove not treacherous, the modern prescription does not say, faucibus admovendum.
When Kant contrasted the sure and steady progress of the mathematical and physical sciences with the contradiction and uncertainty which prevailed in metaphysics, he perceived that the former owed this advantage chiefly to their having abandoned the method of inquiry which was still pursued in the latter. All knowledge becomes sure and permanent only when the subject governs, instead of being governed by the object. While man remains the passive slave of the world without, he feels his way blindfold, and stumbles at every step. It is only when he becomes the judge and master of nature, subjecting all phenomena to the immutable laws of his own mind, that he advances with open eye and firm tread on the broad highway of science. Upon the nature and laws of the human mind depends all the certainty of human knowledge. Let Hermes, then, ere he aspire to the hand of Philology, examine carefully into the resources of his estate and the validity of his title-deeds.
But though every department of human knowledge is ultimately dependent on Psychology, the connection is most immediate and apparent in the three branches which formed the mediæval Trivium-grammar, logic, and rhetoric. All these are concerned in different ways, not with the employment of the mind in some one special province, but with the laws and manner of its operation in many. The mind of man has been aptly compared by Aristotle to the hand,* and the comparison will hold good to illustrate the present distinction. For, as it is one thing to employ the hand well in any special work of art, and another to understand the law and manner of its working in all; —as it is one thing to be an expert carpenter, or a skilful engraver, or a neat-handed Phillis in dressing of meats, and another to know how the same member acts as the organ of the sense of touch, as the recorder of the thoughts of the philosopher, as the agent of the energetic purpose of the pugilist; so it is one thing to employ the mind acutely and successfully in the researches of geometry or optics or astronomy, and another to investigate the principles of performing and communicating the several operations of sense, reason, and will.
On this account, these three sciences (for such in truth they are) have sometimes been described as faculties or instrumenElementary Faculties of Mind — Aristotle and Cousin.
* De anima, iii. 8; Problem, xxx. 5.
tal arts; and a work of Aristotle's, usually considered as an exposition of logic alone, but which is, in fact, a collection of separate treatises more or less related to the whole Trivium, has been emphatically designated by the name of The Instrument. In truth, these kindred branches of knowledge should rather have been called sciences of the instrument. The faculties and operations of the mind are, in different ways, the legitimate province of all three, and it is this last alone which directly performs the office of an instrument to the material sciences.
“ The analysis of facts in psychology,” says M. Cousin,“ belongs almost exclusively to modern times ; the ancients confined themselves chiefly to transcendental metaphysics.I In this remark the great Eclectic has hardly done justice to a philosopher who, notwithstanding his encroachments on the domain of physiology, unquestionably laid the foundations of the inductive science of mind, and whose classification of the facts of consciousness coincides remarkably with M. Cousin's own. Both acknowledge three distinct and co-ordinate classes, those of sensation, reason, and activity. Two of these have been strangely neglected by modern philosophers. The critical philosophy suppresses the active element. M. Cousin's predecessors in France, from Condillac to De Tracy, derive the whole material of our knowledge from the senses only; and even the reflection of Locke, as explained by himself, is not sufficiently independent of sensation to exonerate that philosopher from the same charge. Thus have two out of three of the soul's powers been ignored by her hierophants. Melampus, we doubt not, did good service to Argos when he decaccinated the daughters of Prætus; but the doctor's fee cost the monarch two-thirds of his kingdom. The father of modern psychology was bred a physician likewise, and in that capacity has removed many a hallucination of distempered fancy; but, while destroying the El Dorados of the mind, he has sadly curtailed her substantial dominions.
* The Categories and De Interpretatione have most connection with Grammar ; the Analytics with Logic; the Topics and Sophistic Refutations with Rhetoric.
† See Biese Die Philosophie des Aristoteles, vol. i. p. 45. | Framments Philosophiques ; Esquisses de Philosophie Morale, par Dugald Stewart.
8 Νυν δ' επί τοσούτον ειρήσθω μόνον, ότι εστίν η ψυχή των ειρημένων τούτων αρχή, και τούτοις ωρισται, θρεπτικώ, αισθητική, διανοητική, κινήσει. Αrist. De Anima, ii. 2. “ J'ai classé tous les phénomènes de la conscience en trois classes, lesquelles se rattachent à trois grandes facultés élémentaires, qui, dans leur combinaisons, comprennent et expliquent toutes les autres : ces facultés sont la sensibilité, l'activité, la raison.” Cousin, Fragments Philosophiques ; Préface de la 2ième édition. Aristotle's admission of the unconscious nutritive faculty has been justly censured by his translator, M. St. Hilaire ; but as regards the true facts of consciousness, his classification coincides with Cousin's, and is far more nearly perfect than that of many modern philosophers. The reader who wishes fully to appreciate Aristotle's merits in mental science, may consult Sir W. Hamilton's edition of Reid's Works, Notes D,D,* D**. We trust the illustrious editor will ere long be enabled to complete this noble monument to the father of Scottish psychology.
Sensation, Reason, Will. Such is the result of the first and last classification of the facts of consciousness. Analysis has still much to perform in the subdivision and arrangement of the several members of these three great classes; but in the recognition of the claims of each as a separate and independent source of knowledge, there is every reason to trust that the foundations are securely laid for the still imperfect science of inductive psychology. And whilst, in accordance with the same classification, the laws of the operations of the reason are assigned as the province of logic, and those of the movement of the will as that of rhetoric, (while in sensation the mind is rather the passive recipient than the active operator,) universal grammar claims a wider field, in the whole relation of thought to language --of the several phenomena of consciousness to the instrument by which they are both represented to ourselves and communicated to our fellows.
Thus far (no great distance, indeed) we advance without serious impediment; but the very mention of thought and language throws us at once into the region of controversy. Is thought the parent of speech, or speech of thought? or are they twin brethren, inseparable though distinct, or the successive offspring of one progenitor? And, in the latter case, does chronological precedence convey also pre-eminence in rank? or, like the sons of Isaac, is the elder brother the servant of the younger ? Nay further, is thinking itself but an unspoken language, or is the connection between thought and its symbol accidental only and arbitrary? Can we change our symbols at will, or dispense with them altogether? Is the clothing of our minds, as of our bodies, the result of fall and corruption ? and can we return to the state of primitive excellence, and behold our thoughts face to face divested of their conventional habiliments ?* Or is orthodoxy to be found in the tenets of that sect who maintain that man, in mind as well as in body, is but a micro-coat, and that what the world calls improperly suits of clothes, are, in reality, the most refined species of beings?
All these opinions have had their champions, and some of them of no mean note. To take only two extremes, we have, on the one side, the precept of Locke, that “the examining and judging of ideas by themselves, their names being wholly laid aside, is the best and surest way to clear and distinct knowledge;"> and, on the other side, Condillac maintains that science is but a
Compare the curious hypothesis of Condillac, who holds that the mind became dependent on the senses in consequence of the fall of Adam. It would almost seem as if the author had some presentiment of the ulterior development of his doctrine in the hands of the ideologists, and had introduced instinctively this Deus ex Machina by way of recoil from the consequences of his own principles.