Like John Locke , he asserted that, prior to sensation, the human mind is blank. By growth from simple sensations, those states of consciousness which appear most remote from sensation come into being. And the one law of growth of which Hartley took account was the law of contiguity, synchronous and successive. By this law he sought to explain, not only the phenomena of memory, which others had similarly explained before him, but also the phenomena of emotion, 'if' reasoning, and of voluntary and involuntary action. A friend, associate, and one of his chief advocates, was Joseph Priestley , the discoverer of oxygen , who was one of the foremost scientists of his age.
Hartley's physical theory gave birth to the modern study of the intimate connection of physiological and psychical facts, though his physical theory in itself is inadequate. He believed that sensation is the result of a vibration of the minute particles of the medullary substance of the nerves, to account for which he postulated, with Newton, a subtle elastic ether, rare in the interstices of solid bodies and in their close neighborhood, and denser as it recedes from them.
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These sensations are meant to be understood in a very broad meaning of the term as senses, thoughts, feelings, etc. Thus the feeling of pleasure is the result of moderate vibrations, pain of vibrations so violent as to break the continuity of the nerves. These vibrations leave behind them in the brain a tendency to fainter vibrations or "vibratiuncles" of a similar kind, which correspond to "ideas of sensation," which accounts for memory. The course of reminiscence and of the thoughts generally, when not immediately dependent upon external sensation, is accounted for by the idea that there are always vibrations in the brain on account of its heat and the pulsation of its arteries.
David Hartley on Human Nature (SUNY series in the Philosophy of Psychology)
The nature of these vibrations is determined by each man's past experience, and by the circumstances of the moment, which causes one or another tendency to prevail over the rest. Sensations which are often associated together become each associated with the ideas corresponding to the others; and the ideas corresponding to the associated sensations become associated together, sometimes so intimately that they form what appears to be a new simple idea, not without careful analysis resolvable into its component parts.
Despite the materialistic ontology of Hartley's philosophy, this was all within a framework of his own deep religiosity associated with the Unitarian views of becoming one with the divine, and to embody the universal commandments of Jesus of love for God, and love for others. He himself opposed the idea of eternal damnation in hell, and propounded the idea that such a theory of Hell was inconsistent with the belief of a God that provided universal salvation.
His physical and psychological description of the development of the human mind has at its core this spiritual component and purpose of the development of the human spirit and salvation. New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards.
David Hartley on Human Nature
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David Hartley on Human Nature - Richard Allen - Google Books
Previous David Glasgow Farragut. The common core of these different uses refers to some methodized study of the realm or phenomenon to which it is attached. I will explore the features of various attempts, thereby 1 locating them on the methodological map of eighteenth-century natural and moral inquiry with a sensitivity to how they are related to dominant methodological influences springing from Baconian and Newtonian legacies; 2 reconstructing how conceptual connections, or the lack thereof, between anatomies of the mind and anatomy proper is reflected in various stances taken on the mind-body problem in this context; 3 and exploring how anatomies of mind reflect attitudes towards religious values ranging form providential naturalism to methodological atheism.
In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding John Locke gives two explanations of intellectual habits and the association of ideas, one a psychophysiological account that has its origins in the Cartesian science of the brain, and the other a purely psychological account that seems to be original with Locke himself. These models explain habit and association in terms of the flow of nervous fluids creating traces in the brain.
The second explanation is based on the speed with which ideas pass through the mind after frequent repetition.
This psychological explanation was taken up by George Berkeley in his New Theory of Vision, and by other 18th-century writers. However, the psychophysiological explanation also persisted throughout this period among both philosophers and medical writers including Hermann Boerhaave and Albrecht Haller.
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