On the Vital Principle/Book 3/Chapter 8
|←Prelude to Chapter 8||On the Vital Principle by , translated by Charles Collier
Book 3, Chapter 8
|Prelude to Chapter 9→|
-- Chapter 8 --
Having thus summarily recounted whatever has been said upon the Vital Principle, let us repeat that it is, in some sense, all things which are; for things are the subjects either of sentient perception or of thought, and knowledge is, in some sense, things known, as sensation is things sensually perceived. But let us inquire how this is to be understood—Knowledge, then, like sensation is divided, when in potentiality, into things in potentiality, when in reality, into things in reality; and the sentient and the cogitative faculties of Vital Principle are, when in potentiality, identical with thoughts and objects of perception, in potentiality. But the question here must necessarily refer either to things or the forms of things; but the things themselves they cannot be, as it is not a stone but the form of a stone which is in the Vital Principle. Thus, the Vital Principle is, as it were, a hand, for as a hand is the instrument of instruments, so the mind is the form of forms, and sensation the form of things sensually perceived. Since there is, seemingly, nothing separate from perceptible magnitude, it must be admitted that all subjects of cogitation are in perceptible forms, as well those termed abstractions as those which relate to the conditions and changes of the objects of perception. And, therefore, if a being were without sentient perception, he could neither learn nor understand; as for reflexion the individual must be able to call up an image of some sort, and images are kinds of sensations, excepting that they are immaterial. Imagination, on the other hand, is something different from affirmation and negation, for the true or the false is but a complication of thoughts. But by what are primal thoughts to be distinguished from such as are derived from images? Other thoughts, however, are not images, and yet without images they could not be produced. THIS and the two following chapters are upon the parts or powers rather, which give to animals locomotion; but, as the nervous even the muscular system had not then been made out, the text is encumbered, occasionally, as might be expected, with speculations which may now seem idle, and distinctions which are almost futile. Aristotle makes “animals to move and be moved for the sake of something, which is the limit of all their movements; and the moving powers of an animal are, perceptibly, he adds, thought and imagination, election, will and desire, which are all referrible to mind and appetite, εἰς νοῦν καὶ ὄρεξιν. Thus, as imagination and perception are alike able to direct an animal, they are in one and the same relation to the mind. The argument, in fact, dwells upon the motive as well as the object for progression, without a word concerning the agency by which it is to be effected, as if the muscular power of the body were unknown, or
Note 1, p. 169. But the question here must necessarily refer, &c.] This argument, while maintaining the opinion that sensibility is receptive of form without matter, is an objection to the doctrine of Empedocles and others, who, having derived the Vital Principle from material elements, made perception to be material also, in the relation of like by like. But here it is said that, as the hand is the instrument for making instruments, so the mind is the archetype of forms, and sensibility the recipient of the forms of things without their matter, perceived through the senses. Aristotle, however, does make imagery, the power that is, of recalling forms, to be essential to cogitation, and, consequently, to reflection; although doubting whether there may not be thoughts which cannot have a sentient origin.
Note 2, p. 170. Imagination, on the other hand, &c.] Imagination, or the faculty which calls up images is, necessarily, different from that which determines the truth or falsehood of any proposition, and which affirms or denies; for affirmation or negation, as the predicant of something held to be true or erroneous, is, as was said, a combination of thoughts; and thoughts, being made up of simple ideas, are not, like the imagination, under our own control. Thus, while the former may be regarded as a single faculty, and, in some sense, independent of the judgment, the latter involves many and opposing ideas and perceptions. But what is here meant by primal thoughts (τὰ δὲ πρῶτα νοήματα)? Do the words imply innate ideas, or conceptions of pure abstraction, such as creation, virtue, responsibility, and others? Or must it be admitted that no definite sense can be attached to them? If primal mean innate thoughts, (thoughts, that is, no way dependent upon sentient properties,) then such are distinguishable at once from those which are derived from images, although these are not, themselves, images in reality.