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ARTICLE I. Continuation of the Review of Dr. Smith's
Theory of Moral Sentiments, and of Dr. Cogan's two
DR. COGAN has laboured more, and succeeded better, than any other metaphysical writer of our acquaintance in establishing and observing verbal distinctions; but how deficient even he is, in this respect, will soon appear.
“ The passions have been represented,” he says, in his PhiZosophical Treatise, p. 185, “as vivid sensations, passively or involuntarily, produced by some strong idea excited in the mind; and emotions as the external marks of these. But as this passive state of mind is transitory, so are its external marks; and as both gradually subside, they give place to some corresponding affection, which remains as long as our opinion, and the interest we take in the object, shall continue.”
We will illustrate his distinctions. John calls William a coward; and instantly William feels the passion of anger. His face becomes first glowing, and then pale. He calls John a thousand hard names in return; and these changes of countenance, and outcries, are “ the emotions of anger.” Finally, William becomes less violent and clamorous, but cherishes the remembrance of the insult, and then the passion subsides into “ the affec. tion of anger.” This is a fair representation of the distinctions which Dr. C. attempts to carry through all his Vol. I.
writings. Had he strictly adhered to them in every in. stance, it might have rendered him consistent with himself; but he tells us in other parts of his Treatises, that Surprise, Astonishment, and Wonder, are “introductory emotions.” Here feelings are denominated emotions, contrary to his description of emotions, as being nothing but the external signs of passions. Undoubtedly he formed this class of “ introductory emotions,” because he could not show, that Surprise, Astonishment, and Wonder, originate in self-love, or the desire of well-being, to which he attempts to reduce all other feelings.
We object to his distinctions between passions, affections, and emotions, that he calls them all sensations; that he calls the same feeling both a passion and an affec. tion, without drawing any line of demarcation, by which it can be ascertained when it ceases to be a passion and becomes an affection; and that his discriminations are wholly arbitrary; having no foundation, either in the ori. ginal import of the words, or in the customary use of the best writers.
We must, therefore, discard his definitions of the words passion, sensation, emotion and affection, and prefer our own, until we can find better.
The classification of human feelings by Dr. Cogan we deem objectionable; for he has assigned what we call sensations to no place. All those feelings which we call emotions he considers as introductory emotions; or as passions and affections, originating in the desire of good. He treats of them, therefore, as relating to our desires after private good, or social good; and to our desires of avoid. ing private, or social evil. He observes, Philo. Treat. p. 317, that “the desire of good is in reality the efficient cause of every passion, emotion and affection.” We ask Dr. C. what he makes this desire of good. Is not desire a human feeling? And if it is, will you call it an “introductory emotion,” a passion, or an affection? This desire of good, which according to your account originates all other feelings, and is distinct from common desire, is a feeling to which you have given no place in your classification.
Moreover, it is not true that the desire of good origi.
nates all of our sensations, affections, and passions. We may desire good as much as we please, and yet feel painful sensations from a bruised knee, or a broken arm. It is also a fact, that we frequently feel hatred and anger, contrary to our desire of good, and conviction that they are evil.
In vindication of the nomenclature and classification, which we published in the last number, we quote the concessions of our authors themselves; and so oppose their own authority to their use, or rather abuse of terms. “Usage however,” says Dr. C. “chiefly applies the word” AFFECTION " to the kindly and beneficent af. fections.” Phil. Treat. p. 10. In page 5th, of the same volume, he observes, “ 'The Greeks expressed passions in general by malos, which signifies suffering, and the Latin word Passio, from which we have adopted the term passion, has the same signification.” He remarks, on page 51st, that “common language, without the suspicion of its being founded on philosophical investigation, uni. formly characterizes" . Surprise, Astonishment, and Wonder, “by the term Emotions:" and we add, so it does all our other feelings, if we except sensations. “ Thus the Emotions gradually sink into permanent affections." Phil. Treat. p. 92. Surely then emotions are not external, bodily signs of feeling, for a blush, paleness, the chattering of the teeth, a groan, and a sigh, never become affections.
When treating of single feeling's, Dr. C. usually calls those passions, which we have classed under that term, and those affections which we have denominated so. Dr. Smith, and almost every other writer does the same. They call Fear, Hatred, Grief, Sorrow, Shame, Anger, and the like, Passions; but they style Love, Gratitude, Joy, and Desire, AFFECTIONS.
“ The word sympathy,” says Dr. Smith, p. 66, “in its most proper and primitive signification, denott's our fellow-feeling with the sufferings, not that with the enjoyments of others.” In this most proper and primitive sense, we choose to use the word, and in no other; not. withstanding Dr. Smith has employed it to denote any judgment, or feeling, which we have in consequence of
our conceptions of the opinions and feelings of our fellow-men. With him “Sympathy” is every thing; but we think it quite as natural to say we rejoice in our neighbour's joy, as to say, we sympathize with his joy. Had we any general word to denote an affection excited in us by the conception of that affection in another, we would gladly use it; but we have not; and probably the reason is, that few affections in others do occasion similar ones in us; whereas it is common for us to sympathize with the painful sensations and emotions of our acquaintance. “ We sometimes feel for another," says Dr. S. p. 6, "a passion of which he himself seems to be altogether incapable; because, when we put ourselves in his case, that passion arises in our breast from the imagination, though it does not in his from the reality.” Why, then, should the feeling which we have in this case for another be called sympathy, when that word denotes suffering with another?
Dr. Smith's theory of moral sentiments, or his mode of accounting for the opinions we form concerning the moral conduct of ourselves and others, is reducible to one word, “sympathy.” Disrobing his theory of gaudy dress, it stands forth naked thus: Mankind think those thoughts, feelings, volitions and actions to be proper in their neighbours, which they imagine would be excited in, or performed by, themselves, were they in the situation of their neighbours. Whatever they conceive they should not themselves feel, think, choose and perform, under certain given circumstances, they judge to be improper in their neighbours, in those circumstances.
Originally, however, we approve of another man's judgment, not as something useful, but as right, as ac. curate, as agreeable to truth and reality; and it is evident we attribute those qualities to it for no other reason but because we find that it agrees with our own.” p. 22. “If we consider all the different passions of human nature, we shall find that they are regarded as decent or indecent, just in proportion as mankind are more or less disposed to sympathize with them.” p. 35. Mankind, moreover, judge, he says, that moral conduct to be me. ritorious, which they conceive would excite their grati
tude, if they were the objects of it; and that to be punishable which they conceive they should resent. “To us, therefore, that action must appear to deserve reward, which appears to be the proper and approved object of gratitude; as, on the other hand, that action must appear to deserve punishment, which appears to be the proper and approved object of resentment.” p. 104. Our sense of merit thus arises from “ indirect sympathy with the gratitude of the person who is acted upon.” Our sense of demerit in relation to any action results from “an indirect sympathy with the resentment of the sufferer.' p. 118, 119. The sum of this part of his theory is, that we judge our neighbours by ourselves.
Of the foundation of our judgments concerning our own moral or immoral conduct, and of the sense of duty, Dr. S. teaches, that we think that to be suitable and me. ritorious which we conceive would meet with the “sympathy” of our neighbours. “We can never survey our own sentiments and motives, we can never form any judgment concerning them; unless we remove ourselves, as it were, from our own natural station, and endeavour to view them at a certain distance, from us. But we can do this in no other way than by endeavouring to view them with the eyes of other people, or as other people are likely to view them.” p. 179. Of course, we judge our neighbours by ourselves, and ourselves as we imagine our neighbours judge us. Conscience he thinks dependent for her dictates on this work of the imagination, for he says, “we either approve or disapprove of our own conduct, according as we feel that, when we place ourselves in the situation of another man, and view it, as it were, with his eyes and from his station, we either can or cannot entirely enter into and sympathize with the sentiments and motives which influenced it.” p. 178. “Our continual observations upon the conduct of others, insensibly lead us to form to ourselves certain general rules concerning what is fit and proper either to be done or to be avoided.” p. 251. “The regard to those general rules of conduct, is what is properly called a sense of duty." p. 257. Sympathetic emotions have a powerful influence on our conduct, we admit; but really