A Critical Essay Upon The Faculties Of The Mind

A Critical Essay Upon The Faculties Of The Mind-57
A child at play by itself will express its delight by its voice and motions; and every inflexion of tone and every gesture will bear exact relation to a corresponding antitype in the pleasurable impressions which awakened it; it will be the reflected image of that impression; and as the lyre trembles and sounds after the wind has died away; so the child seeks, by prolonging in its voice and motions the duration of the effect, to prolong also a consciousness of the cause.In relation to the objects which delight a child these expressions are what poetry is to higher objects.

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Reason is the enumeration of qualities already known; imagination is the perception of the value of those qualities, both separately and as a whole.Reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things.Reason is to imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance.Percy Bysshe Shelley was born to a wealthy family in Sussex, England.He attended Eton and Oxford, where he was expelled for writing a pamphlet championing atheism.To begin, Shelley turns to reason and imagination, defining reason as logical thought and imagination as perception, adding, “reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things.” From reason and imagination, man may recognize beauty, and it is through beauty that civilization comes.Language, Shelley contends, shows humanity’s impulse toward order and harmony, which leads to an appreciation of unity and beauty.Every man in the infancy of art observes an order which approximates more or less closely to that from which this highest delight results: but the diversity is not sufficiently marked, as that its gradations should be sensible, except in those instances where the predominance of this faculty of approximation to the beautiful (for so we may be permitted to name the relation between this highest pleasure and its cause) is very great.Those in whom it exists in excess are poets, in the most universal sense of the word; and the pleasure resulting from the manner in which they express the influence of society or nature upon their own minds, communicates itself to others, and gathers a sort of reduplication from that community.The social sympathies, or those laws from which, as from its elements, society results, begin to develop themselves from the moment that two human beings coexist; the future is contained within the present, as the plant within the seed; and equality, diversity, unity, contrast, mutual dependence, become the principles alone capable of affording the motives according to which the will of a social being is determined to action, inasmuch as he is social; and constitute pleasure in sensation, virtue in sentiment, beauty in art, truth in reasoning, and love in the intercourse of kind.Hence men, even in the infancy of society, observe a certain order in their words and actions, distinct from that of the objects and the impressions represented by them, all expression being subject to the laws of that from which it proceeds.


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