Zoonomia/I.IV

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SECT. IV.

LAWS OF ANIMAL CAUSATION.

I. The fibres, which constitute the muscles and organs of sense, possess a power of contraction. The circumstances attending the exertion of this power of CONTRACTION constitute the laws of animal motion, as the circumstances attending the exertion of the power of ATTRACTION constitute the laws of motion of inanimate matter.

II. The spirit of animation is the immediate cause of the contraction of animal fibres, it resides in the brain and nerves, and is liable to general or partial diminution or accumulation.

III. The stimulus of bodies external to the moving organ is the remote cause of the original contractions of animal fibres.

IV. A certain quantity of stimulus produces irritation, which is an exertion of the spirit of animation exciting the fibres into contraction.

V. A certain quantity of contraction of animal fibres, if it be perceived at all, produces pleasure; a greater or less quantity of contraction, if it be perceived at all, produces pain; these constitute sensation.

VI. A certain quantity of sensation produces desire or aversion; these constitute volition.

VII. All animal motions which have occurred at the same time, or in immediate succession, become so connected, that when one of them is reproduced, the other has a tendency to accompany or succeed it. When fibrous contractions succeed or accompany other fibrous contractions, the connection is termed association; when fibrous contractions succeed sensorial motions, the connexion is termed causation; when fibrous and sensorial motions reciprocally introduce each other, it is termed catenation of animal motions. All these connections are said to be produced by habit, that is, by frequent repetition. These laws of animal causation will be evinced by numerous facts, which occur in our daily exertions; and will afterwards be employed to explain the more recondite phænomena of the production, growth, diseases, and decay of the animal system.