From the PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The design of this volume is to impart, in a familiar form, elementary explanations and instructions on subjects connected with the intellectual faculties; to afford gradual and easy exercises to the powers of abstraction; and thus to conduct the young reader, by an accessible path, into that region of thought where the mind acquires force, accuracy, and comprehension.
A writer who invites the attention of young persons to subjects which demand a continued effort of thought, is tempted to win that attention by some promise of amusement; or to profess that he has the art of communicating knowledge without the cost of labour on the part of those who receive it. No such promise or profession can be offered in the present instance. The author believes that when the object intended is to give tone and vigour to the understanding by exertion, trivial digressions and gaieties of style should be avoided. Relaxation from efforts of attention is perhaps always better provided for away from books than in them; or at least it should be entirely disjoined from serious studies.
The writer, therefore, does not treat his young readers as children, who must be allured by the promise of entertainment to advance in the course of mental improvement, and to whom knowledge must be administered, like a nauseous drug concealed in a sweetmeat. On the contrary, he boldly claims their undiverted attention; he invites them to Think, and suggests no inducements beside the proper pleasures and advantages of intellectual cultivation. He has indeed endeavoured to make this introduction to the study of the mind as familiar and intelligible as possible, and has presumed upon no higher qualifications in his young reader than an ordinary measure of intelligence- a moderate proficiency in the several branches of education, together with a deliberate and efficient desire for the improvement of the mind.
In explanation of the form into which these elementary instructions are thrown, it may be proper to say, that the writer has been guided by the opinion that comprehensive and systematical books are little adapted to the purpose of initiation in studies of the kind to which this volume relates. A treatise on any branch of intellectual philosophy, if it be complete and systematical, must include many topics which no simplicity or perspicuity of style can render easily comprehensible. One portion of the book may be readily understood, while another portion, though not less lucid in its style, may baffle the efforts of the unexercised faculties; and thus perhaps may occasion to the youthful reader final discouragement and disgust. The writer, therefore, has not aimed to compose regular elements either of Metaphysics or of Logic, believing that the first book which is put into the hands of a young person with the view of inviting his attention to objects purely intellectual, should be rather select than comprehensive in its topics.
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