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distinction is important, in enabling us to get a true idea of the intellect itself, and in suggesting the best methods of cultivating and applying our perceptive powers; but considered in relation to the Sensibilities, is perhaps of less consequence. In both of its great departments alike, as also in its more subordinate modes of action, the Intellect furnishes the broad and deep foundation for that vast variety of mental states, which are commonly included under the denomination of the emotions and passions.
$. 2. Difference between intellections or states of the intellect, and
sentiments or states of the sensibility. In advancing into what we assert to be a different part of our spiritual being, we are aware, that some may be disposed to inquire, whether the assertion of such difference, notwithstanding the general remarks of the last section, is well founded ; whether, in other words, there is such a marked line of distinction between the intellectual and sensitive nature as to authorize our speaking of them as distinct and different mental departments. We do not propose, however, nor does it appear to be necessary, to go into this topic here, any further than to refer briefly to what has already been said upon it, on a former occasion. In the chapter in the Introduction to the first volume, the object of which was to ascertain the outlines of a General Classification, we attempted to show the difference between the intellect and the sensibilities, between intellections and sentiments or sensitive states of the mind, by a reference to consciousness, to the terms found in different languages, to the incidental remarks frequently found in English writers, besides the more direct and specific testimony of those, who have written professed. ly on the mind. That this distinction is involved, wholly or almost without an exception, in the structure of languages, is a well known fact; and that it is commonly made by the leading writers on the philosophy of the mind, is no less undéniable. Not only this, it finds its way incidentally into the remarks of writers, (and such is the nature of their convictions, it cannot well be otherwise,) who were writing upon other subjects, and who at the time were far from being aware, that they were enunciating, either directly or indirectly, any doctrines of mental philosophy. The following passage of Southey, in addition to those already quoted, will illustrate what we mean ; involving like the others not only a distinction between the Understanding and the Heart, but separating both from the Will. "Believing in them, [the Prophets and the Evangelists,] with a calm and settled faith, with that consent of the will, and HEART, and UNDERSTANDING, which constitutes religious belief, I find in them the clear annunciation of the kingdom of God upon earth."*
But on a question of this kind we must rest ultimately, and it is presumed we can do it in this case with entire confidence, on the testimony of consciousness. In a multitude of cases we are obliged to rely upon knowledge from this source; and certainly, on no subject whatever, is its testimony more clear, than in respect to the acts of the intellect and the acts of the heart. When we have perceptions, when we think, we know the existence of such perceptions or thought to be one thing; when we have emotions and desires, we know the existence of such emotions and desires to be another thing; and we have an internal conviction, strong as any conviction can well be, that there is no possibility in ordinary cases of confounding them together.
§. 3. Action of the sensibilities implies that of the intellect. As a general thing there is, and can be no movement of the sensibilities, no such thing as an emotion, desire, or feeling of moral obligation, without an antecedent action of the intellect. If we are pleased or displeased, there is necessarily before the mind some object of pleasure or displeasure ; if we exercise the feeling of desire, there must necessarily be some object desired, which is made known to us by an action of the intellect. So that if there were no intellect, or if the intellectual powers were entirely dormant and inactive, there would be no action of the emotive part of our nature and of the passions. And we may not only say in general terms, that the action of the sensibilities implies the antecedent action of the intellect, but may even assert more specifically, (making allowance for those constitutional differences, which pervade every part of the mental structure,) that the activity
Southey's Progress of Society, Colloquy II.
of the sensibilities will be nearly in proportion to that of the intellect. In other words, on all subjects, which are calculated to excite any interest at all, those, who have the broadest and most satisfactory views, will be likely to feel more intensely than others ; the sensibilities expanding and exerting themselves in conformity with the expanded and energetic action of the perceptive and cognitive powers.
§. 4. Importance of the study of the sensibilities.
The department of the mind, on which we now propose to enter, is not only distinct from the other great divisions, haying a nature and characteristics of its own, but possesses, we may venture to assert, equal importance and interest. If man had been formed of intellect only, of cold and unimpassioned perceptivity ; if he could merely have perceived, compared, associated, and reasoned,without a solitary emotion or desire, without any of the various affections of our nature, without sorrow for suffering or sympathy in joy ; in a word, if he had been all head and no heart, the human soul would have shown not only a different, but a depressed and inferior aspect, compared with what it does at present. But happily and wisely, it is far otherwise. We find him constituted with a sensitive, as well as an intellectual nature ; with powers of feeling, as well as of thought. It is the sensitive part of human nature, (including in the term the moral as well as the natural affections,) which Socrates, if we may rely on the doctrines and conversations that are handed down to us, particularly turned his attention to; and on account of which he was pronounced by the Oracle the wisest of all men liv. ing. It is here that we are let into the secrets of men's actions. It is in this department of the mind we find the causes, which render them restless and inquisitive, which prompt to efforts both good and evil, and make the wide world a theatre, where vice and virtue, hope and fear, and joy and suffering mingle in perpetual conflict.
Much is said, and with a good deal of truth, of the value of a knowledge of human nature; a species of knowledge which is useful to all persons, and in many situations is clearly indispensable ; but this knowledge, to any available extent, can never be supposed to exist, separate from an acquaintance with that portion of our nature, which we now propose to investigate. A knowledge of human nature, in the common apprehension of the phrase, does not so much imply a knowledge of the powers of perception and reasoning, as a knowledge of the springs of action, back of the intellect, which in the shape of the emotions and passions give an impulse and a character to the conduct both of individuals and communities. In other words, a knowledge of human nature is essentially a knowledge of the HEART; a term by which men commonly distinguish the sensitive from the intellectual nature; and consequently all the value, and it is by no means inconsiderable, which pertains to the study of human nature, attaches equally to the interesting inquiries now before us.
§. 5. Difficulties attending the prosecution of this study. But while we may properly and very justly maintain, that no series of topics in the whole range of mental philosophy is either more fitted or more worthy to secure and interest the attention than those now before us, it cannot be denied, that the discussion of them is attended with some difficulties, which do not perplex, certainly not in an equal degree, the examination of other parts of the mind. The perplexity, to which we now refer, will be better understood, if we reflect a moment on the distinctive nature of the sensibilities. It is well known, that the sensibilities, in their more decided action, are characterized by a sort of excitement, a stirring and breaking up of the inward depths, an agitation of the otherwise calm surface of the soul. It is this trait, so familiar to our consciousness though difficult to be embodied in language, to which we refer; and which undoubtedly characterizes the action of some portion of the sensibilities more than of others. The term Passions is frequently employed to express that portion in particular.
Now it is the business of philosophy to give an accurate view of the passions, to dissect thein, and to show precisely what they are. But that excitement, which has been mentioned, is the appropriate element of the passions ; the very breath of their existence is dependent on tumult and agitation. Such a state of things seems to be, and is, in fact, in
RELATION OF THE INTELLECT TO THE SENSIBILITIES.
consistent, to no inconsiderable extent, with that calm and critical examination, which is desirable. We are obliged to wait, till the excitement which exists has greatly subsided. In the interval of this delay, which cannot well be avoided, the true and important moment of examination has departed; and we are accordingly under the necessity of relying upon memory rather than upon direct consciousness, for those intimations, which are involved in a full knowledge of the subject of inquiry. It is different with the intellectual powers ; their progress is calm and unruffled ; we can mark them distinctly and accurately at every step, and in the very moment of their movement. But if it be otherwise in the Sensibili. ties, particularly in that portion of them known as the AFFECTIONS OR PASSIONS, the only remedy is to use the greater caution, and to compare and combine our own internal experience, so far as we can ascertain what it is, with what we can gather from the outward observation of others. The difficulty is, indeed, considerable ; but not so great as to discourage efforts to examine a portion of the mind, which has been less accurately surveyed than the intellect, but which promises, as the result of its examination, an equally ample reward.