"To lessen this difficulty a little, let it be considered how exceedingly different, to the eye of the mind, as we may say, are our ideas of sensible things from any thing that could have been conjectured concerning their effect upon us."

— Priestley, Joseph (1733-1804)


Place of Publication
London
Publisher
J. Johnson
Date
1775
Metaphor
"To lessen this difficulty a little, let it be considered how exceedingly different, to the eye of the mind, as we may say, are our ideas of sensible things from any thing that could have been conjectured concerning their effect upon us."
Metaphor in Context
To lessen this difficulty a little, let it be considered how exceedingly different, to the eye of the mind, as we may say, are our ideas of sensible things from any thing that could have been conjectured concerning their effect upon us; as the ideas of sound, from the tremulous motion of the particles of the air, and much more the ideas of the different colours from the impulse of rays of light of different degrees of refrangibility; and what comes rather nearer to the case before us, how very different an effect has the mixture of several colours from what we could have supposed a priori. What resemblance is there between white, and the mixture of the seven primary colours, of which it consists, all of which are so different from it, and from one another? What power of intellect could analize that impression into its constituent parts, by attending to the idea only, without making those experiments which led Sir Isaac Newton to that capital discovery? Nay a person not acquainted with optics can hardly be made to believe but that black is as much a positive colour as red, or white. In like manner, from the combination of ideas, and especially very dissimilar ones, there may result ideas, which, to appearance, shall be so different from the parts of which they really consist, that they shall no more be capable of being analized by mental reflection than the idea of white.
(pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
Categories
Provenance
Reading
Citation
David Hartley, Hartley's Theory of the Human Mind: on the Principle of the Association of Ideas; with Essays Relating to the Subject of It, ed. Joseph Priestley (London: Joseph Johnson, 1775). <Link to Google Books>
Theme
Mind's Eye
Date of Entry
07/22/2011

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.