David Hartley on Human Nature by Richard C. Allen

By Richard C. Allen

During this first whole account of Hartley's suggestion, Richard Allen explains Hartley's theories of body structure, notion and motion, language and cognition, emotional improvement and transformation, and non secular transcendence. through drawing a biographical portrait of its topic, the booklet explores the connection of brain and physique in Hartley's procedure, and surveys Hartley's impression upon later scientists and social reformers, relatively Joseph Priestley.

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Sample text

While psychology respected the primordial distinction between the thinking being and thing thought, theopathy was a topic about which it had best, in its own discourses, enforce a silence.  An over­minute inventory of the shapes of emotional concretions would not concern them.  Like Hume's Treatise or Reid's Inquiry and Essays, the works of Mill and other associationists are largely empty of the voices of children.  Because his account of the genesis of anger and cruelty is highly focused, it may serve as an epitome of his "over­minute'' method of analysis.

A child who has been repeatedly harmed or threatened with harm, at home or at school, enters into a generalized state of fear, anxiety, and suspicion, and manifests the "activity of the parts" through a variety of symptoms.  A computer in the schoolroom, which frustrates his attempt to make it work, becomes the object of his fury.  It will be added to the recollection of failures, and list of grievances, that are heaped together in the midden of memories that is oneself.  The child's face mirrors his first tormentors' frown of hate.

It calls into question whether such adults ever perform actions—or only exhibit behaviors.  Coleridge had his portrait painted holding a copy.  Rather, his goal is to point the way towards liberation.  Hartley, so often described as the father of association psychology, was equally aware that association alone would drive a person mad.  The person could then begin the long work of learning to love.  And they say nothing about the transformations a person may experience, as the reciprocal dynamic of association and counterassociation leads to the transcendence of the self.

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