Commentary on Hartleys Associationist Theory

Commentary on Hartleys Associationist Theory - Joseph...

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Joseph Berington: A summary of Hartley's associationist theory i) Thought as the product of vibrations in the nervous system Man , according to Dr Hartley, consists of two parts, body and mind. The first is subjected to our senses and enquiries: the latter is that substance or principle, to which we refer sensations, ideas, pleasures, pains, and voluntary motions; also to the same principle belong the properties of memory, imagination, understanding, and reason: in short, it is the seat of all affections, termed mental. The body may be considered in the light of a musical instrument, but whose cords [ie strings] are innumerable: these all originate from the medullary substance of the brain and spinal marrow, and terminate in the senses. They are the immediate instruments of all the mental modifications. On the nature of their component elements depends the constitution of the nerves. At all events, the causes, by which they are affected, are dissimilar; consequently the effects must correspond. A nerve, resembling a stretched cord, will vibrate, when struck, either at its extreme point, or at any other part. The generated tremor will be continued to the brain, nor does this species of motion instantly cease, but dies away gradually. The nerves communicate one with another; not only those of the same sense, but also of different senses; either directly or by transverse channels, or by something similar, or inside the brain, in which they all concenter. A nerve once strongly affected, seems to acquire a lasting tendency to the same line of direction. Such are the preliminary ideas, on which is founded the doctrine of vibrations , the grand physical cause of all the phenomena of the human mind. For whatever changes take place in the nervous system, to these, according to the pre- established laws of union, uniform effects are supposed to correspond in the mind. When a single nerve, for instance, vibrates; the mind receives a single modification: when two, or more; the mental effects exactly answer. When the vibrations are in one sense, the soul experiences effects appropriated to that sense.. If the nervous agitations be regular,
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  • Fall '13
  • Montwieler
  • Romanticism, Association of Ideas, sensitive ideas

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