Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vesture of Our Humanity

Language may be considered as the outward vesture of Thought; Thought, as a body which is contained within this clothing; and we may attend especially to the one or to the other; to the body or to the garment. But further; Language includes within its folds, not merely Thought, the result of the Reason operating purely and simply; but, as we have already intimated, Thought excited, unfolded, and swayed by the various Feelings which belong to man. Language is a necessary help of the Mind, when engaged in reasoning; but Language is far more commonly and generally used in expressing the sentiments which arise out of the Desires, Affections, Emotions, and Occupations of men, in their habitual intercourse, than in obtaining and enunciating the propositions which the pure Reason contemplates. It is much more familiar, as an implement in our daily outward life, than as an instrument in our occasional internal ratiocinations. The body of which Language is the clothing, is not the Reason merely, but the whole Nature of Man; and hence, this vesture of our humanity draws to it men's attention far more generally and more strongly, than it could do, if it were merely connected with the most recondite and central portions of man's being, his Reason.

William Whewell, Of a Liberal Education in General; and with Particular Reference to the Leading Studies of the University of Cambridge, Part I: Principles and Recent History, pp. 8-9.

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