Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 84 pages of information about Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy.
a certain uneasiness in the soul (or in the body) causes us to turn to those untried goods and evils with a present and living interest.  This actual uneasiness, with the dream pictures which it evokes, is a mere symptom of the direction in which human nature in us is already moving, or already disposed to move.  Without this prior physical impulse, heaven may beckon and hell may yawn without causing the least variation in conduct.  As in religious conversion all is due to the call of grace, so in ordinary action all is due to the ripening of natural impulses and powers within the psyche.  The uneasiness observed by Locke is merely the consciousness of this ripening, before the field of relevant action has been clearly discerned.

When all this is considered, the ostensible interaction between mind and body puts on a new aspect.  There are no purely mental ideas or intentions followed by material effects:  there are no material events followed by a purely mental sensation or idea.  Mental events are always elements in total natural events containing material elements also:  material elements form the organ, the stimulus, and probably also the object for those mental sensations or ideas.  Moreover, the physical strand alone is found to be continuous and traceable; the conscious strand, the sequence of mental events, flares up and dies down daily, if not hourly; and the medley of its immediate features—­images, words, moods—­juxtaposes China and Peru, past and future, in the most irresponsible confusion.  On the other hand, in human life it is a part of the conscious element—­intentions, affections, plans, and reasonings—­that explains the course of action:  dispersed temporally, our dominant thoughts contain the reason for our continuous behaviour, and seem to guide it.  They are not so much links in a chain of minute consecutive causes—­an idea or an act of will often takes time to work and works, as it were, only posthumously—­as they are general overarching moral inspirations and resolves, which the machinery of our bodies executes in its own way, often rendering our thoughts more precise in the process, or totally transforming them.  We do roughly what we meant to do, barring accidents.  The reasons lie deep in our compound nature, being probably inarticulate; and our action in a fragmentary way betrays our moral disposition:  betrays it in both senses of the word betray, now revealing it unawares, and now sadly disappointing it.

I leave it for the reader’s reflection to decide whether we should call such cohabitation of mind with body interaction, or not rather sympathetic concomitance, self-annotation, and a partial prophetic awakening to a life which we are leading automatically.


Page 21. To the confusion of common sense.

Berkeley and his followers sometimes maintain that common sense is on their side, that they have simply analysed the fact of our experience of the material world, and if there is any paradox in their idealism, it is merely verbal and disappears with familiarity.  All the “reality”, they say, all the force, obduracy, and fertility of nature subsist undiminished after we discover that this reality resides, and can only reside, in the fixed order of our experience.

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Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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