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CH.APTER I. ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF IDEAS. SECTION I. ON THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT IN IDEAS. IT is the characteristic of our minds to be ever engaged in passing judgment on the things which come before us. No sooner do we apprehend than we judge : we allow nothing to stand by itself : we compare, contrast, abstract, generalize, connect, adjust, classify : and we view all our knowledge in the associations with which these processes have invested it. Of the judgments thus made, which become aspects in our minds of the things which meet us, some are mere opinions which come and go, or which remain with us only till an accident displaces them, whatever be the influence which they exercise meanwhile. Others are firmly fixed in our minds, with or without good reason, and have a hold upon us, whether they relate to matters of fact, or to principles of conduct, or are views of life and the world, or are prejudices, imaginations, or convictions. Many of them attach to one and the same object, which is thus variously viewed, not only by various minds, but by the same. They sometimes lie in such near relation, that 34 ON THE PROCESS OF [CH. I. each implies the others ; some are only not inconsistent with each other, in that they have a common origin : some, as being actually incompatible with each other, are, one or other, falsely associated in our minds with their object, and in any case they may be nothing more than ideas, which we mistake for things. Thus Judaism is an idea which once was objective, and Gnosticism is an idea which was never so. Both of them have various aspects : those of Judaism were such as mono­ theism, a certain ethical discipline, a ministration of divine vengeance, a preparation for Christianity : those of the Gnostic idea are such as the doctrine of two principles, that of emanation, the intrinsic malignity of matter, the inculpability of sensual indulgence, or the guilt of every pleasure of sense, of which last two one or other must be in the Gnostic a false aspect and subjective only. 2. The idea which represents an object or supposed object is commensurate with the sum total of its possible aspects, however they may vary in the separate consciousness of individuals ; and in proportion to the variety of aspects under which it presents itself to various minds is its force and depth, and the argument for . its reality. Ordinarily an idea is not brought home to the intellect as objective except through this variety ; like bodily substances, which are not apprehended except under the clothing of their properties and results, and which admit of being walked round, and surveyed on opposite sides, and in different perspectives, and in contrary lights, in evidence of their reality. And, as views of a material object may be taken from points so remote or so opposed, that they seem at first sight incompatible, and especially as their shadows will be disproportionate, or even monstrous, and yet all these anomalies will disappear and all these contrarieties SECT. I.] DEVELOPMENT IN IDEAS. 35 be adjusted, on ascertaining the point of vision or the surface of projection in each case ; so also all the aspects of an idea are capable of coalition, and of a resolution into the object to which it belongs ; and the prima facie dis­ similitude of its aspects becomes, when explained, an argu­ ment for its substantiveness and integrity, and their multi­ plicity for its originality and power. 3. There is no one aspect deep enough to exhaust the con­ tents of a real idea, no one term or proposition which will serve to define it ; though of course one representation of it is more just and exact than another, and though when an idea is very complex, it is allowable, for the sake of con­ venience, to consider its distinct aspects as if separateideas. Thus, with all our intimate knowledge of animal life and of the structure of particular animals, we have not arrived at a true definition of any one of them, but are forced to enumerate properties and accidents by way of description. Nor can we inclose in a formula that intellectual fact, or system of thought, which we call the Platonic philosophy, or that historical phenomenon of doctrine and conduct, which we call the heresy of Montanus or ofManes. Again, if Protestantism were said to lie in its theory of private judgment, and Lutheranism...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268158088
Related ISBN
9780268009212
MARC Record
OCLC
1017613061
Pages
480
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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