lauantai 5. toukokuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 (1744)

The second volume of Darjesian metaphysics begins with empirical psychology – or pneumatics, as Darjes prefers to call it – that is, explication of things we can experience in ourselves. The starting point for Darjes is the observation that we have in us something that resembles things that are not part of myself. In other words, we have representations, through which we are conscious of objects. Having a representation and being conscious of it, Darjes insists, is still not completely identical – we can have obscure, unconcious representations, while consciousness brings clarity to representations.

An important aspect of representation and cognition Darjes emphasises is the spontaneity behind it: my representations continue sometimes as vividly as before, sometimes not, and it is up to my attention whether they do. Furthermore, I can direct my attention successively to different aspects of the object of my cognition, that is, I can reflect this object. While consciousness makes representation clear, refection makes it distinct. This state of distinctness, Darjes insists is something we can only achieve while awake, and indeed, Darjes defines being awake as a possibility to reflect.

Darjes notes that sometimes reflection is hindered by associations awakened by something we find in the reflected object. This association is connected with the capacity of cognition to reproduce earlier representations. Another faculty – memory – is then required for recognising reproduced memories.

We have mentioned so far only representations of individual things, but we can also compare and contrast objects. Thus, it is possible to represent also connections between things – these things are similar or not equal or one might be the cause of the other.

An important subset of representations Darjes touches upon are sensations or representations of things that induce mutations in me, that is, objects of our senses or sensibles. Darjes notes that sensations can be divided according to the different parts of body the sensible object affects – the same object is represented differently, when it affects ear and when it affects eyes. Following Wolffian tradition, Darjes calls the part of cognition dealing with all these different kinds of sensations inferior cognitive faculty. A partial reason for this evaluative nomenclature must be that sensations are distracting – reflecting on an object becomes impossible, because sensation of another object might be stronger and prevent our reflection.

Darjes notes that there is no guarantee that we would sense or represent all things that affect our body, and indeed, he suggests that there must be some further reason explaining why we sense something. Analogically, we might represent things that can induce changes in my body, while they are not actually inducing such changes. This is the faculty of imagination, which Darjes includes also under inferior cognitive faculty. He, furthermore, divides objects of imaginations into, firstly, phantasms, which are complete objects that can be also sensed, and figments, which are combinations of parts that can be sensed.

The inferior cognitive faculty can only represent things that affect us, thus, it cannot be used for representing e.g. essences of things or universals. This task, Darjes says, must be left for superior cognitive faculty, which represents things in an insensible manner, that is, in such a manner that it isn't and even cannot be sensed. Darjes doesn't go into further details as to how this insensible cognition happens, but notes only that it is possible through the faculty of reflection. Through reflection and the use of signs, cognition forms universal and distinct concepts. If the concepts concern things in themselves, without relations to other things, we are speaking of intellect or understanding, while if they concern relations between things, we are speaking of reason. It is good to note that while it it easy to conceptually represent connections between things, Darjes admits that the inferior faculty has something analogous to reason, through which it can also represent connections.

Before moving to the next part, concerned with appetites and aversions, we might very briefly note what Darjes has to say about habit. The basis of habit, he suggest, is repetition of representations and operations involved with them. This repetition makes concepts stronger and thus makes cognising them more easy.

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