The Doctrine of Life: With Some of Its Theological Applications/Memory

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The Doctrine of Life: With Some of Its Theological Applications.
Back. William B. Greene. Forward.

BY the inter-penetration of the soul and of the material furnished to the soul from the external world, a result is obtained, which is the joint product of the soul and of that which is not the soul. In this manner were produced the ideas which are strewn along the path of our past history, and which we have, if I may so speak, lived into existence.

These ideas stand to us in the relation of objects,—they are not us, for the soul may live in them, and in the act of life distinguish itself from them. We perceive them, and the interpenetration of ourselves and these ideas, produces ideas of a new order. In producing these last ideas, the soul is said (somewhat incorrectly, however,) to be exercising the faculty of memory.

Memory forms, therefore, a second world, intermediate between the soul and the sensible world.

The accumulation of the phenomena of this second world, forms the world of time; and the facts of memory stand to each other, in this world of time, in a relation analogous to that of sensible objects to each other in the world of space. The soul remains as distinct from the world of time as it does from the world of space.

In remembering, there is always present to the soul the result of some past operation, and the soul acts on that result, as on a new object. The soul has its being in eternity, but lives in time; and the ideas of past and future are not derived from the relation of the facts of memory to the soul, but from the relation of those facts among themselves. An idea, referring to a transaction of ten years' date, is as present to the mind as an idea referring to a transaction of yesterday; but the first stands to the second in a relation of priority of order. Action, in space, generates motion, of which time is but the measure. We look upon the past and future as a line, and the facts of memory and anticipation as being placed at certain distances from each other on this line.

We cannot conceive of time without preconceiving space; but if we suppose space, and an activity manifesting itself in space, time is immediately generated to the mind. This might perhaps be rendered more clear, but, as its connexion with our subject is somewhat remote, we pass it by for the present.