Friday, June 09, 2006

An Active and Vital Energy

Were not sense and knowledge entirely different, we should rest satisfied with sensible impressions, such as light, colours and sounds, and inquire no further about them, at least when the impressions are strong and vigorous: whereas, on the contrary, we necessarily desire some further acquaintance with them, and can never be satisfied till we have subjected them to the survey of reason. Sense presents particular forms to the mind, but cannot rise to any general ideas. It is the intellect that examines and compares the presented forms, that rises above individuals to universal and abstract ideas; and thus looks downward upon objects, takes in at one view an infinity of particulars, and is capable of discovering general truths. Sense sees only the outside of things, reason acquaints itself with their natures. Sensation is only a mode of feeling in the mind; but knowledge implies an active and vital energy in the mind.

Richard Price, Review of the Principal Questions in Morals (1757) p. 16.

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