Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


On Man as a Subjective and an Objective Being.–Definition of

the terms.—The influence on Men, of Signs and STANDARDS as the representatives of great ideas, principles, and passions.

Man, in the individual and in the mass, is a compound being, made up of many qualities of an opposite nature; and although the laws of his constitution, physical, mental, and psychological, are as fixed and determined by his Creator as the laws of any other parts of the universe, and present the same phenomena in all times and places, he nevertheless acts under so many influences, and is moved by so many forces, and assumes so many appearances, as to be an object of wonder to himself.

Man in the mass is, like the atmosphere in its great periodical movements and progressive changes, measured and certain; but in the individual is, also like the atmosphere, variable and capricious, exposed to many impressions, and driven to and fro as an impulse is given.

In connection with the subject of this work, we have first to consider man a subjective and an objective being; and in case that there should be any mistake in the application of these terms, we shall define the meaning we attach to them. It is foreign to our purpose to enter into the metaphysics of this subject, and all that we intend to do is to clear the



way for our future speculations on the consequences which have followed from the use of the Standards of the Cross and the Crescent in terrible and protracted


We define man in his subjective qualities as an intellectual being, and the originator of thought, and the worker out of his mental conceptions so as to influence and control external objects. By the operation of his intellectual and moral powers, he subjects men and nature to his will, within the limits to his capacity marked out by God. Man, in his objective nature, is acted on and moved by external things; he is passive and open to receive impressions, and may be led almost unconsciously into a course of action induced by exciting causes.

Man as an objective being, under certain circumstances, receives involuntarily very deep impressions. In this case his feelings and the emotions of his mind are roused by the activity of his sensorial organs, especially those of sight and hearing. The contemplation of the astral universe and the aspect and the sounds of nature, as he traverses the earth and ocean, produce sensations which he cannot help receiving, and whatever may have been his previous emotions he finds himself irresistibly under the influence of outward objects. A pure source of delight is thus secured to man both as a subjective and an objective being, and,“mere communion with nature, mere contact with the free air, exercise a soothing yet strengthening influence on the wearied spirit, calm the storm of passion, and soften the heart when shaken by sorrow to its inmost depths. Everywhere, in every region of the globe, in every stage of intellectual culture, the same sources of enjoyment are alike vouchsafed to man.” “The spontaneous impressions of the untutored mind, lead, like the laborious deductions of

cultivated intellect, to the same intimate persuasion, that one sole and indissoluble chain binds together all nature.

Humboldt, in his Cosmos, has established the fact that the grandeur, variety, and beauty of the physical universe, celestial and terrestrial, have impressed man as an objective being in all his generations, and, by stimulating and rousing his subjective powers, have made him reflect and investigate, and have led him to the discovery of the various divisions of the globe by land and sea.

The beauty and vastness of nature thus act on the intellect of man,

and cause it to have a perpetual motion to harmonise with the movements of all things. But whilst man is the inhabitant of earth, and the recipient of the impressions made on him by the various objects around him, he is also the member of society, and feels himself affected by the beautiful and the good of human existence, and passively listens to its harmonious or discordant sounds. In the present imperfect sketch it is not to be understood that men living in society are divided into two classes—one of whom is possessed of subjective qualities, and the other more numerous, of the objective alone. Every individual has both :-but all individuals not in the same proportions, education and age changing and affecting the original bias of the mind. The mind of the highest subjective powers may have also the objective qualities in proportional development. Shakspeare had a subjective mind of the highest order, and at the same time he must have been in a trance whenever he was exposed to the influence of the great and beautiful objects of nature or social life. “His poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven ; and, as imagination bodies forth the forms * Humboldt's “ Cosmos,” Introduction.

« ForrigeFortsæt »