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CLASSIFICATION OF THE SENSIBILITIES.
§. 6. Natural or pathematic sensibilities and moral.
As we pass onward from the percipient and cognitive nature to the distinct and more remote region of the emotions and passions, it seems proper, before we enter more minutely into the various inquiries which may be expected to present themselves, to consider, whether the department of the Sensibilities itself is not susceptible of being resolved into some subordinate, yet important divisions. In accordance with this suggestion, our first remark is, that the Sensibilities, when subjected to a careful examination, will clearly be found to separate themselves into the great divisions of the Natural or Pathematic, and the Moral. These leading departments will be found to run, if we may be allowed the expression, in two separate channels, which, although they are for the most part parallel with each other, are nevertheless essentially and sufficiently distinct; each being characterized by its own attributes, and by its appropriate results. Our examination of the Sensibilities will accordingly proceed upon the basis of this division.
In reference to the use of the term Pathematic as applicable to the states of mind embraced in one of these great divisions, it is proper to observe, that it appears to have been formed from its Greek original and first used by Sir James Mackintosh. He repeatedly speaks of that part of our nature, which includes the emotions and passions, as unnamed; and in the progress of his discussions appears at times to be embarrassed for the want of suitable English words to ex
press it. And under these circumstances he proposes the term in question, which, in its etymological import appears to involve the ideas of emotion and desire, (the feelings that are particularly characteristic of the natural sensibilities,) and adds the remark, which we are not aware is in the process of being realized, "until some more convenient and agreeable name shall be hit on by some luckier or more skilful adventurer in such new terms as seem to be absolutely necessary. The term, in the present state of our philosophic language, is certainly convenient; and such is the great weight deservedly attached to the name of its proposer, that we shall at least be pardoned for using it.
§. 7. Relation of the natural to the moral sensibilities in time.
When we use the term HEART, as expressive of a part of our mental nature, we commonly have reference to the natural or pathematic sensibilities; when we use the term coNSCIENCE, we have reference to our moral sensibilities; so that the distinction now in question is obviously involved in the common usage of language. In truth, all the considerations, consciousness, the ordinary structure of language, and the incidental as well as the more formal and considered remarks of writers, which were formerly brought forward to show the distinction between the intellect and the sensibilities, in the more extended sense of the latter term, may also be adduced to show a well founded distinction between the Natural and the Moral sensibilities. But abundant proof on a subject of this nature naturally flows out, if the fact in question actually exists, from a careful and philosophical examination of the departments of the mind, of which it is predicated. Without, therefore, delaying our inquiries by attempting to draw proof of its existence from other sources, we may proceed to notice some of those circumstances, which may be enumerated as involved in and as incidental to the distinction, which has been asserted.
And in the first place it appears to be the fact, as a general thing, that the exercise of the natural or pathematic sensibilities is the first in the order of time. Nor, if we reflect upon the subject, can we well suppose it to be otherwise. If
* Progress of Ethical Philosophy.-Remarks on Hartley.
there were no such thing as the Natural Sensibilities, (in other words, if man were constituted without possessing the capability of emotion, desire, and passion,) it is obvious, that there would be no adequate basis in his mind, for the operation of the Moral sensibilities. The pathematic sensibilities or the heart is the great, we do not say the exclusive,, but still the great seat of the motives of men's actions; and consequently furnishes a principal field of operations for the conscience to act upon. We do not mean to assert, however, that there is not, and cannot be, any action of the moral, until there has been an entire, a complete developement of the pathematic nature, embracing as it does the whole circle of natural emotions and passions. It is true, when we descend to particular cases and specific acts, we find from observation, that the natural sensibilities are first in the order of time, as they obviously are in the order of nature. And we say that they are first in the order of nature, for the reason just hinted at, viz, that they include a large portion of the subjects, which it is the business of our moral constitution to act upon, scrutinize, and judge. It is nevertheless equally true, that these two great departments of the emotive or sensitive man, taken in their general history and as a whole, develope themselves nearly at the same time, and as it were side by side and parallel to each other.
In respect to the matter under consideration, they seem to bear much the same relation to each other, which the External intellect bears to the Internal. When we look at specific acts of the External intellect, we shall find that some of them, absolutely and necessarily so, are first in the order of time; but when we look at the two departments as a whole, we find the developement, to a considerable extent, going on simultaneously. And so in regard to the Natural and Moral Sensibilities, considered in relation to each other, in reference to the time when they are respectively brought into action.
§. 8. The moral and natural sensibilities have different objects.
Another, and perhaps a still more decisive mark of distinction may be found in the views, which these two great departments respectively take of the objects, in respect to which they are called into exercise. The one considers ob
jects chiefly, as they have a relation to ourselves; the other, as they relate to all possible existences. The one looks at things in the aspect of their desirableness; the other fixes its eye on the sublime feature of their rectitude. The one asks what is GOOD; the other, what is RIGHT.
Obliterate from man's constitution, his Conscience, (what may be called, if we may be allowed the expression, the moralities of his nature,) and you at once strike from the mind one half of its motives to action; for in respect to every thing, which is considered by us desirable to be done, the question always recurs is it right to be done. At one time, on the supposition of an entire erasure of the moral sensibilities, all his movements are dictated by the suggestions and cravings of the appetites. At other times, he covets knowledge, or seeks society, or indulges in the refinements of the arts; but it will be found in these instances, as well as when he is under the influence of the appetites, that pleasure is still his object, and that he is disappointed in not securing it. And even in his higher moods of action, when raised in some degree above the influence of the subordinate propensities, his movements will always be based on calculations of interest; and although the various suggestions, which influence his conduct, may have an extensive range, they will never fail to revolve with, in the limits of a circle, the centre of which is HIMSELF. It is his moral nature, and that alone, which places him beyond the limits of this circle, and enables him, on suitable occasions, to act with exclusive reference to God, his fellow-men, and the universe.
§. 9. The moral sensibilities higher in rank than the natural.
And such being the objects of these two great departments of our nature, it is not surprising, that they do not hold the same place in our estimation. There is obviously a sort of graduation in the feelings of regard and honor, which we attach to different parts of the mind. We at once, and as it were instinctively, regard some as higher than others. We may not be able always to tell why it is so; but such is the fact. We never hesitate, for instance, to assign a lower place to the instincts than to the appetites; and on the other hand we always allot to the appetites, in the graduation of our regard, a place below that of the affections. And entirely in accord
ance with this general fact, we find it to be the case, that the moral sensibilities excite within us higher sentiments of regard; in other words, hold, in our estimation of them, a higher rank than the appetites, propensities, and passions, which constitute the leading divisions of our pathematic nature.
In this respect also, viz. in the comparative rank of the two departments under consideration, there seems to be some analogy between the great divisions of the sensibilities, and those of the intellect. There can be no question, that men commonly locate, in the scale of the mind's regard and honor, the internal intellect above the external. The latter simply perceives; the former not only perceives, but exercises the additional and higher function of comparing, estimating, and combining. And so in respect to the topic now before us. The moral sensibility appears to hold, in respect to the other great division of our sensitive nature, the position of a consultative and judicial power; it stands above it and over it, in the exercise of a higher authority; it keenly scrutinizes the motives of action; it compares emotion with emotion, desire with desire; it sits a sort of arbitress, holding the scales of justice, and dispensing such decisions, as are requisite for the due regulation of the empire of the passions.
§. 10. The moral sensibilities wanting in brutes.
It will perhaps throw light upon the distinction we are endeavoring to illustrate, if we call to recollection here, that the natural or pathematic sensibilities exist in brute animals essentially the same as in man. They are susceptible of various emotions; they have their instincts, appetites, propensities, and affections, the same as human beings have, and perhaps even in a higher degree. They rush with eagerness in the pursuit of whatever is calculated to gratify their appetites; and are deeply interested in every thing, that is addressed to the natural affections. They are pleased and displeased, they have their prepossessions and aversions, they love and hate, with as much vehemence at least, as commonly characterizes human passion. But if we look for the other and more elevated portion of the sensibilities, it is not there. And here, we apprehend, is the great ground of