Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chain

It has been a while since I've had any quotations from this blog's namesake; here's a nice one.

The perceptions of sense are gross: but even in the senses there is a difference. Though harmony and proportion are not objects of sense, yet the eye and the ear are organs, which offer to the mind such materials, by means whereof she may apprehend both the one and the other. By experiments of sense we become acquainted with the lower faculties of the soul; and from them, whether by a gradual (a) evolution or ascent, we arrive at the highest. Sense supplies images to memory. These become subjects for fancy to work upon. Reason considers and judges of the imaginations. And these acts of reason become new objects to the understanding. In this scale, each lower faculty is a step that leads to one above it. And the uppermost naturally leads to the Deity, which is rather the object of intellectual knowledge than even of the discursive faculty, not to mention the sensitive. There runs a chain throughout the whole system of beings. In this chain one link drags another. The meanest things are connected with the highest. The calamity therefore is neither strange nor much to be complained of, if a low sensual reader shall, from mere love of the animal life, find himself drawn on, surprised, and betray'd into some curiosity concerning the intellectual.

George Berkeley, Siris, section 303. The footnote (a) directs the reader to section 275, in which Berkeley summarizes the Neoplatonic doctrine of grades or degrees of being. 'Siris' itself, of course, is Berkeley's anglicization of an ancient Greek word for 'chain'.

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