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of that censure, which, in opposition to so many illustrious names, I have presumed to bestow on it.
Of the leading ideas to which I more particularly object, the following statement is given by D'Alembert. I quote it in preference to the corresponding passage in Bacon, as it contains various explanatory clauses and glosses, for which we are indebted to the ingenuity of the commentator.
“ The objects about which our minds are occupied, are either spiritual or material, and the media employed for this purpose are our ideas, either directly received, or derived from reflection. The system of our direct knowledge consists entirely in the passive and mechanical accumulation of the particulars it comprehends; an accumulation which belongs exclusively to the province of Memory. Reflection is of two kinds, according as it is employed in reasoning on the objects of our direct ideas, or in studying them as models for imitation.
Thus, Memory, Reason, strictly so called, and Imagination, are the three modes in which the mind operates on the subjects of its thoughts. By Imagination, however, is here to be understood, not the faculty of conceiving or representing to ourselves what we have formerly perceived, a faculty which differs in nothing from the memory of these perceptions, and which, if it were not relieved by the invention of signs, would be in a state of continual exercise. The power which we denote by this name has a nobler province allotted to it, that of rendering imitation subservient to the creations of genius.
“ These three faculties suggest a corresponding division of human knowledge into three branches, 1. History, which derives its materials from Memory; 2. Philosophy, which is the product of Reason; and 3. Poetry (comprehending under this title all the Fine Arts), which is the offspring of Imagination. If we place Reason before
The latitude given by D'Alembert to the meaning of the word Poetry is a real and very important improvement on Bacon, who restricts it to ficticious History or Fables.' (De Aug. Scient. Lib. ii. cap. i.) D'Alembert on the other hand, employs it in its natural signification, as synonymous with invention or creation. “ La Peinture, la Sculpture, l’Architecture, la Poésie, la Musique, et leurs différentes divisions, composent la troisième distribution générale qui naît de l'Imagination, et dont les
Imagination, it is because this order appears to us conformable to the natural progress of our intellectual operations. * The imagination is a creative faculty, and the mind, before it attempts to create, begins by reasoning upon what it sees and knows. Nor is this all. In the faculty of Imagination, both Reason and Memory are, to a certain extent, combined,—the mind never imagining or creating objects but such as are analogous to those whereof it has had previous experience. Where this analogy is wanting, the combinations are extravagant and displeasing; and, consequently, in that agreeable imitation of nature, at which the fine arts aim in common, invention is necessarily subjected to the control of rules which it is the business of the philosopher to investigate. “In farther justification of this arrangement,
be remarked that Reason, in the course of its successive operations on the subjects of thought, by creating abstract and general ideas, remote from the perceptions of sense, leads to the exercise of Imagination as the last step of the process. Thus metaphysics and geometry are, of all the sciences belonging to Reason, those in which Imagination has the greatest share. I ask pardon for this observation from those men of taste, who, little aware of the near affinity of geometry to their own pursuits, and still less suspecting that the only intermediate step between them is formed by metaphysics, are disposed to employ their wit in depreciating its value. The truth is, that, to the geometer who invents, Imagination is not less essential than to the poet who creates. They operate, indeed, differently on their object, the former abstracting and analyzing, where the latter combines and adorns ;-two processes of the mind, it must, at the same time be confessed, which seem from experience to be so little congenial, that it may be
parties sont comprises sous le nom de Beaux-Arts. On peut les rapporter tous à la Poésie, en prenant ce mot dans sa signification naturelle, qui n'est autre chose qui invention ou création.”
* In placing Reason before Imagination, D'Alembert departs from the order in which these faculties are arranged by Bacon. “ Si nous n'avons pas placé, comme lui, la Raison après l'Imagination, c'est que nous avons suivi, dans le système Encyclopédique, l'ordre metaphysique des operations de l'esprit plutôt que l'ordre historique de ses progrès depuis la renaissance des lettres.”—(Disc. Prélim.) How far the notive here assigned for the change is valid, the reader will be enabled to judge from the sequel of the above quotation.
doubted if the talents of a great geometer and of a great poet will ever be united in the same person. But, whether these talents be or be not mutually exclusive, certain it is, that they who possess the one, have no right to despise those who cultivate the other. Of all the great men of antiquity, Archimedes is perhaps he who is the best entitled to be placed by the side of Homer.”
D'Alembert afterwards proceeds to observe, that of these three general branches of the Encyclopedical Tree, a natural and convenient subdivision is afforded by the metaphysical distribution of things into Material and Spiritual. “ With these two classes of existences,” he observes farther, “ history and philosophy are equally conversant; but as for the Imagination, her imitations are entirely confined to the material world;—a circumstance," he adds, “ which conspires with the other arguments above stated in justifying Bacon for assigning to her the last place in his enumeration of our intellectual faculties.” *
this subdivision he enlarges at some length, and with considerable ingenuitiy; but on the present occasion it would be quite superfluous to follow him any farther, as more than enough has been already quoted to enable my readers to judge, whether the objections which I am now to state to the foregoing extracts be as sound and decisive as I apprehend them to be.
Of these objections a very obvious one is suggested by a consideration, of which D'Alembert himself has taken notice that the three faculties to which he refers the whole operation of the understanding are perpetually blended together in their actual exercise, insomuch that there is scarcely a branch of human knowledge which does not, in a greater or less degree, furnish employment to them all. It may be said, indeed, that some pursuits exercise and invigorate particular faculties more than others ; that
* In this exclusive limitation of the province of Imagination to things Material and Sensible, D'Alembert has followed the definition given by Descartes in his second Meditation ; " Imaginari nihil aliud est quam rei corporeæ figuram seu imaginem contemplari ;”—a power of the mind, which (as I have elsewhere observed) appears to me to be most precisely expressed in our language by the word Conception. The province assigned to Imagination by D'Alembert is more extensive than this, for he ascribes to her also a creative and combining power; but still his definition agrees with that of Descartes, inasmuch as it excludes entirely from her dominion both the intellectual and the moral worlds.
the study of History, for example, although it may occasionally require the aid both of Reason and of Imagination, yet chiefly furnishes occupation to the Memory; and that this is sufficient to justify the logical division of our mental powers as the groundwork of a corresponding Encyclopedical classification.* This, however, will be found more specious than solid. In what respects is the faculty of Memory more essentially necessary to the student of history than to the philosopher or to the poet; and, on the other hand, of what value, in the circle of the sciences, would be a collection of historical details, accumulated without discrimination, without a scrupulous examination of evidence, or without any attempt to compare and to generalize ? For the cultivation of that species of history, in particular, which alone deserves a place in the Encyclopedical Tree, it may be justly affirmed, that the rarest and most comprehensive combination of all our mental gifts is indispensably requisite.
Another, and a still more formidable objection to Bacon's classification, may be derived from the very imperfect and partial analysis of the mind which it assumes as its basis. Why were the powers of Abstraction and Generalization passed over in silence ;—powers which, according as they are cultivated or neglected, constitute the most essential of all distinctions between the intellectual characters of individuals. A corresponding distinction, too, not less important, may be remarked among the objects of human study, according as our aim is to treasure up particular facts, or to establish general conclusions. Does not this distinction mark out, with greater precision, the limits which separate philosophy from mere historical narrative, than that which turns upon the different provinces of Reason and of Memory?
* I allude here to the following apology for Bacon, suggested by a very learned and jo-licious writer :
"On a fait cependant à Bacon quelques reproches assez fondés. On a observé que sa classification des sciences repose sur une distinction qui n'est pas rigoureuse, puisque la mémoire, la raison, et l'imagination concourent nécessairement dans chaque art, comme dans chaque science. Mais on peut répondre, que l'un ou l'autre de ces trois facultés, quoique secondée par les deux autres, peut cependant jouer le rôle procipal. En prenant la distinction de Bacon dans ce sens, sa classitication reste exacte, et devient très utile."-(Degerando, Hist. Comp. Tome, I. p. 298.) VOL. VI.
I shall only add one other criticism on this celebrated enumeration, and that is, its want of distinctness, in confounding together the Sciences and the Arts under the same general titles. Hence a variety of those capricious arrangements, which must immediately strike every reader who follows Bacon through his details; the reference, for instance, of the Mechanical arts to the department of History; and consequently, according to his own analysis of the Mind, the ultimate reference of these arts to the faculty of Memory: while, at the same time, in his tripartite division of the whole field of human knowledge, the art of Poetry has one entire province allotted to itself.
These objections apply in common to Bacon and to D'Alembert. That which follows has a particular reference to a passage already cited from the latter, where, by some false refinements concerning the nature and functions of Imagination, he has rendered the classification of his predecessor incomparably more indistinct and illogical than it seemed to be before.
That all the creations, or new combinations of Imagination, imply the previous process of decomposition or analysis, is abundantly manifest ; and, therefore, without departing from the common and popular use of language, it may undoubtedly be said, that the faculty of abstraction is not less essential to the Poet than to the Geometer and the Metaphysician. But this is not the doctrine of D'Alembert. On the contrary, he affirms that Metaphysics and Geometry are, of all the sciences connected with reason, those in which Imagination has the greatest share; an assertion which, it will not be disputed, has at first sight somewhat of the air of a paradox; and which, on closer examination, will, I apprehend, be found altogether inconsistent with fact. If indeed D'Alembert had, in this
* This assertion must, however, be understood with some qualifications ; for, although the Poet as well as the Geometer and the Metaphysician, be perpetually called upon to decompose, by means of abstraction, the complicated objects of perception, it must not be concluded that the abstractions of all the three are exactly of the same kind.
Those of the Poet amount to nothing more than to a separation into parts of the realities presented to his senses; which separation is only a preliminary step to a subsequent recomposition into new and ideal forms of the things abstracted; whereas the abstractions of the Metaphysician and of the Geometer form the very objects of their respective sciences.