CONDILLAC, E. B. Treatise on the sensations. Translated by Geraldine Carr. With a preface by Professor H. Wildon Carr. Lodon: The Favil Press, 1930.
The Favil Press, Church Street, Kensington, London, MCXXX
“Condillac’s importance in philosophy does not rest in his exposition and expansion of Locke’s theories, but in the fact that he gave an entirely new orientation to philosophy. He turns the philosophic inquiry into a new channel and gives it a new direction which leads ultimately to the idealistic position of modern French philosophy, as Locke may be said to have directed English philosophy towards a realistic position.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxvi-xxvii)
According to Geraldine Carr, the translator who was responsible for the first translation of the Traité des Sansation (1754) to English (1930), Étienne Bonnot Condillac, the French philosopher that was contemporary of Hume in England, was in his early days brought within the circle of the Encyclopedists, and he came to be recognized as ‘the philosopher of the philosophers’. In the preface of the English translation Professor Herbert Wildon Carr advise circa the Condillac’s Treatise that it “[…] deserves and will repay careful study, for it deal exhaustively with the problem which lies at the basis of all theory of knowledge, the nature of information which we receive through the senses.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, Preface, p.xv)
The eighteenth century was the age of the Encyclopedists. In this days, philosophic speculation was concentrated on the problem of the nature of the dependence of the knowledge on the functioning of the various special sense organs and it was rather than a metaphysical, a psychological problem – the greatest interest had been aroused in Diderot’s study of the psychology of the deaf and dumb. In the ‘Treatise on the Sensations’ Condillac followed almost the same method of Diderot, supposing an human being that was devoid of all sensations until the senses are stimulated. The interesting artifice the philosopher used was to “awake the senses successively and study the apport of each sense separately and the modifications consequent on the relations between them.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, Preface, p.xvii)
Desenvolver essa parte como outra refencia interessante:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/molyneux-problem/ On 7 July 1688 the Irish scientist and politician William Molyneux (1656-1698) sent a letter to John Locke in which he put forward a problem which was to awaken great interest among philosophers and other scientists throughout the Enlightenment and up until the present day. In brief, the question Molyneux asked was whether a man who has been born blind and who has learnt to distinguish and name a globe and a cube by touch, would be able to distinguish and name these objects simply by sight, once he had been enabled to see.
The friendship between Rousseau and Condillac was life-long and they had much in common, despite their speculations led them through widely different fields of thought. According to Geraldine Carr, at the same time as he maintained with Rousseau that ‘everything is acquired’, “[…] he sought to trace man’s knowledge, rather than his nature, back to its first elements, to discover what the human mind is and to understand its operations, and to determine the extent and boundaries of human knowledge.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxi)
Condillac’s first book published in two volumes in 1746, ‘Essai sur l’Origine des Connaissances Humainnes’ that was significantly along the lines of Locke’s philosophy, explores what are the materials of our knowledge, how and by what faculties they are activated and what part the mind plays in the work of knowledge. In his polemic ‘Traité des Systèmes’ (1749, published in 2 volumes) Condillac argumented against the Descartes’s theory of ‘Innate Ideas’, Malebranche’s idea of ‘Vision in God’, Spinoza’s idea of ‘Substance’ and Libiniz’s ‘Pre-Estabilished Haemony’. According to Geraldine Carr, the Treaté des Sensations, published in two volumes in 1754, “endeavours to trace our knowledge back to its first elements, not by direct observation, but by a hypothetical and conditioned analyses.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxii)
Condillac followed Locke in the principle that “[…] there is nothing in the intellect which had not been previously in the senses; that the sources of knowledge are twofold, sensation and reflexion; that by means of sensation we apprehend external phenomena and by means of reflexion internal phenomena.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxii) Criticizing Locke for not carrying the natural method of analyses far enough, he believed that the faculties of soul are not innate qualities having their origin in the sensation itself. To Condillac, it is not enough to reduce all knowledge to sentience but learn how sentient knowledge is produced. According to Locke…
“In order to analyze the progress of our ideas, and the genesis of our faculties, and trace them back to their primary cause, Condillac made use of an arbitrary fiction, a fantasy in keeping with tastes and methods of the time. He imagined a marble statue with the complete organic structure of the human body, but insentient, and he analyzed the knowledge such an imaginary being would have if the senses were awakened one a time. He began by allowing it smell, then taste, then hearing, then sight, and finally touch. He considered each sense in itself and also in relation to the others. The conclusions he came to were: that a sensation is itself is a modification of consciousness and teaches us nothing of what is outside; that sensation of smell, taste, hearing and sight by themselves or together would give no ideas of external objects.” (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxii-xxiii)
Ideas of external things
He believes that “in touch are united both sensations and ideas; sensations in realation to the soul which they modify; ideas in connection with the external world. It is because we make a habit of ascribing sensations of touch to external things that we are led to ascribe our other sensations to external things. In this way sensations are referred to what is outside ourselves and become our ideas of external things. In this way sensations become our ideas of external things. Attention is a vivid sensation, throwing other sensations into shade. It can be directed to a past sensation which is recalled, as well as to a present sensation. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p. xxiii)
Memory is a sensation which is recalled; it is therefore a transformed sensation which can be attended to, it can be compared to a present sensation. Now in comparing we perceive certain relations of difference and resemblance, and to perceive such relations is to form judgments about them, and hence arise our powers of judgment and reasoning. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiiI)
The active powers of the mind – love, hatred, hope, fear, volition – are also transformed sensations, for they follow from the fact that all experience is pleasurable or painful, and therefore every sensation is either one we inclined to continue, or one we seek to scape from. Thus all the powers of mind are traced back to their origin in simple sensation. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiv)
Theory of instint
Condillac’s theory of instinct is of some importance in the light of modern philosophic development (in 1930, the age of Bergson) (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiv)For him:
“We each have within us two selves, the self of habit and self of reflexion. The self of habit makes use of our bodily structure. Its range of activity is narrow and primarily directed to the guidance and preservation of our body. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiv)
The self of reflexion, on the contrary, opens an extensive range of activity. It makes us care for our own happiness, gives us a curiosity which leads to an illimitable multiplicity of desires, gives us command over the material world. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiv)
Instinct is habit with reflexionobliterated. Condillac considers that instinct could not be an innate quality because of the human mind because instinct presupposes reflexion. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxiv)
This theory of instinct and reflexion is of considerable interest because of its development in modern philosophy. In the contemporary theory of Bergson, for exemple, instinct and intelligence are two modes of activity heterogeneous and complementary (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxv)
Condillac aims at shewing that all our knowledge comes to us by means of habit and reflexion, two modes which have a common origin and genesis in sensibility. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxv)
Bergson also recognizes instinct and intelligence as tow different modes by which we apprehend reality and by means of which we receive and use different kinds of knowledge. (CONDILLAC, 1930, translator’s introduction, p.xxv)
According to Bergson ….
In both (Condillac and Bergson) the older and the modern theory, intelligence does not give us direct and actual knowledge of reality but only its representation in a world of objects in space, in a world of measurable actions and reactions.
It is by means of instinct, a mode of knowledge the direct opposite to that of intelligence, that we gain the inward view as opposed to the external view of reality. Instinct gives us real knowledge of life, of life as it is lived.
Materialistic/deterministic approach x idealism
The immediate result of Condillac’s philosophy was a materialism though this was far from its intention. This arose from his explanation of personality as an aggregate of sensations which naturally led to a deterministic position, but his approach to the problem of reality was no materialistic.
He defines body as an extended substance and soul as sentient substance, and the senses as the occasional cause of our consciousness. He considered that the substratum of reality, mind or soul, canoot be an aggregate of extended
In order to separate the his theory of sensations from the approach of determinism Condillac wrote the appendix to the Treatise to vindicate the freedom of the will. In this appendix the subjective principle of Berkeley’s idealism is evident.
THE FIRST COGNITION OF A MAN LIMITED TO THE SENSE OF SMELL
I – The statue limited to the sense of smell can only know odours: Our statue being limited to the sense of smell its cognitions cannot extend beyond smells. It can no more have ideas of extension, shape or anything outside itself, or outside its sensations, than it can have ideas of colour, soud, taste. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.3)
HOW THE UNDERSTANFING WORKS IN A MAN LIMITED TO THE SENS OF SMELL
AND HOW THE DIFFERENT DEGREES OF PLEASURE AND PAIN ARE THE PRINCIPLE OF ITS COGNITION
I – The Statue capable of attention,
At the first smell our statue’s capacity of feeling is entirely due to the impression which is made upon its sense organs. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.4)
2 – of enjoying and suffering,
From this moment it begins to enjoy or to suffer. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.4)
5 – How it would be limited without memory,
If there remained no recollection of former modifications, then on the occasion of each sensation it would believe itself to be feeling for the first time. Whole years might be swallowed up in each present moment. Were its attention always limited to one mode of being it would never be able to take account of two together, and never be able to judge of their relations. (CONDILLAC, 1930,p.6)
6 – Dawn of memory.
The smell is not wholly forgotten when the odoriferous substance which caused it has ceased to act on the sense organ, for the attention retains it, and an impression remains stronger or weaker according as the attention has been more or less vivid. This is memory. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.6)
7 – Division of the capacity of feeling between smell and memory.
When our statue is a new smell, it has still present that which it had been the moment before. It capacity of feeling is divided between the memory and the smell. The first of these faculties is attentive to the past sensation, whilst the second is attentive to the present sensation. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.6)
9 – The feeling of it can be more vivid than the sensation,
I say usually because memory is not always a feeble feeling, nor is sensation always a vivid feeling. For whenever the memory is recalling the past forcibly and the sense organ, on the contrary, is receiving only slight impressions, then the feeling of a present sensation is much less vivid than the memory of a sensation which no longer exists. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.7)
10 – The statue distinguishes in itself a succession.
Thus, whenever as odoriferous substance is making an impression on the sense organ itself, there is another smell present to the memory, because the impression of another odoriferous substance subsists in the brain, to which the sense organ has already transmitted it. By passing as it were thorough these two states the statue feels that it is no longer what it was. The knowledge of this change males it related the first smell to a different moment from that in which it is experiencing the second, and this makes it perceive a difference between existing in one state and remembering having existing in another. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.7)
14 – It compares.
If after having repeatedly smelled rose and pink the statue then smells rose, the passive attention which is caused by the smell is entirely the present smell of rose, and the active attention which is caused by the memory is divided between the recollection which remains of the smells of rose and pink. Now modes of being can only divide the capacity of feeling insofar as they are compared; for comparing is nothing else but giving attention to two ideas at the same time. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.9)
15 – It judges.
When there is comparisons there is judgment. Our statue cannot be ate one and the same time attentive to the smell of rose and pink, without perceiving that the one is not the other, and it cannot be attentive to a rose which it smells, and a rose which it has smelled, without perceiving that the two are the same. A judgment is only the perception of a relation between two ideas which are compared. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.9)
19 – Ideas which are preserved in the memory.
Where odours have attracted attention eqully, they will be retained in memory according to the order in which they occurred and that order will be the order in which they occurred and that order will be the order of succession. If the succession includes a great number, the last impressions, because the newest, will be the strongest; the first impression will be weakened by insensible degrees, and at last extinguished altogether. They will be as if they had not been. Should there be some to which only small attention has been given, they will leave no impression, and will be forgotten as soon as perceived. Those however which have made a very deep impression, will be retained most vividily and will occupy the attention so completely as to make it forget the others. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.11)
20 – The connexion of theses ideas.
Memory then of a sequence of ideas forming a chain. It is this connexion which furnishes the means of passing from one idea to another, and of recalling the most distant. Consequently we remember by means of an idea which we had some time ago only because we can retrace more or less rapidly the intermediate ideas. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.11)
24 – A state is only indifferent by comparision.
Among these different degrees there is no state of indifference. At the first sensation, howevery feeble it may be, the statue is necessarly either contented or discontented. When it has felt in succession the sharpest pains and the keenest pleasures, ti will judge indifferent, or will cease to regard as agreeable or disagreeable, those feebler sensations which will appear feeble when compared with the strongest. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.13)
25 – Origin of need.
Whenever it is ill at ease or less comfortable than it was, it recalls its past sensations and compares them with its present, and it feels the importance of becoming again what it was. From this arises the need, or the knowledge it has of a well-being which it judges necessary for its confort. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.14)
29 – Diference between memory and imagination. There are then two effects of memory: one is a sensation which is recalled as vividly as an impression on the sense-organ, the other ia a sensation of which only a slight remembrance remains. We are able therefore to distinguish in the faculty of memory two degrees: the feebler is that in which it scarcely enjoys it as if it were present. We name the faculty memory, when it only recalls things as past, we name it imagination when it recalls them with so much force that they appear present. Imagination has then its place in our statue as well as memory, and these two faculties differ only as more and less. Memory is the commencement of an imagination which has yet little force; imagination is the same memory enriched with all the liveliness of which it is susceptible. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.18)
Por isso pedir pra escrever um tempo depois…
As we have distinguished two attentions in the statue, one caused by sensation, the other by memory, we can now add a third, caused by imagination. The characteristic of this last is to arrest the impressions of the senses in order to substitute for them a feeling independent of the action of external objects. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.18)
30 – This difference is unnoticed by the statue.
When, however, the statue imagines a sensation which is past, and represents it as vividly as if it were present, it does not know that there is a inner cause producing the same effect as the odoriferous body acting on its sense-organ. It cannot, therefore, make the difference we make between imagining a sensation and having one. (CONDILLAC, 1930, p.18)