Thoughts on Man, his Nature, Productions and Discoveries

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1831

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(1756 - 1836) ~ Respected Anarchist Philosopher and Sociologist of the Enlightenment Era : His most famous work, An Inquiry concerning Political Justice, appeared in 1793, inspired to some extent by the political turbulence and fundamental restructuring of governmental institutions underway in France. Godwin's belief is that governments are fundamentally inimical to the integrity of the human beings living under their strictures... (From : University of Pennsylvania Bio.)
• "Courts are so encumbered and hedged in with ceremony, that the members of them are always prone to imagine that the form is more essential and indispensable, than the substance." (From : "Instructions to a Statesman," by William Godwin.)
• "Fickleness and instability, your lordship will please to observe, are of the very essence of a real statesman." (From : "Instructions to a Statesman," by William Godwin.)
• "Anarchy and darkness will be the original appearance. But light shall spring out of the noon of night; harmony and order shall succeed the chaos." (From : "Instructions to a Statesman," by William Godwin.)

Sections

This document contains 24 sections, with 116,359 words or 689,064 characters.

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THOUGHTS ON MAN, HIS NATURE, PRODUCTIONS AND DISCOVERIES INTERSPERSED WITH SOME PARTICULARS RESPECTING THE AUTHOR by WILLIAM GODWIN Oh, the blood more stirs To rouse a lion, than to start a hare! - SHAKESPEARE LONDON: EFFINGHAM WILSON, ROYAL EXCHANGE. 1831. PREFACE In the ensuing volume I have attempted to give a defined and permanent form to a variety of thoughts, which have occurred to my mind in the course of thirty-four years, it being so long since I published a volume, entitled, the Enquirer,--thoughts, which, if they have presented themselves to other men, have, at least so far as I am aware, never been given to the public through the medium of the press. During a part of this period I had remaine... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY I OF BODY AND MIND THE PROLOGUE There is no subject that more frequently occupies the attention of the contemplative than man: yet there are many circumstances concerning him that we shall hardly admit to have been sufficiently considered. Familiarity breeds contempt. That which we see every day and every hour, it is difficult for us to regard with admiration. To almost every one of our stronger emotions novelty is a necessary ingredient. The simple appetites of our nature may perhaps form an exception. The appetite for food is perpetually renewed in a healthy subject with scar... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY IIOF THE DISTRIBUTION OF TALENTS SECTION I PRESUMED DEARTH OF INTELLECTUAL POWER. --SCHOOLS FOR THE EDUCATION OF YOUTH CONSIDERED. --THE BOY AND THE MAN COMPARED. GO TO SECTION II One of the earliest judgments that is usually made by those whose attention is turned to the characters of men in the social state, is of the great inequality with which the gifts of the understanding are distributed among us. Go into a miscellaneous society; sit down at table with ten or twelve men; repair to a club where as many are assembled in an evening to relax from the toils of the day--it is a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY IIIOF INTELLECTUAL ABORTION In the preceding Essay I have endeavored to establish the proposition, that every human creature, idiots and extraordinary cases excepted, is endowed with talents, which, if rightly directed, would shew him to be apt, adroit, intelligent and acute, in the walk for which his organization especially fitted him. There is however a sort of phenomenon, by no means of rare occurrence, which tends to place the human species under a less favorable point of view. Many men, as has already appeared, are forced into situations and pursuits ill assorted to their talents, a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY IVOF THE DURABILITY OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS AND PRODUCTIONS There is a view of the character of man, calculated more perhaps than any other to impress us with reverence and awe. Man is the only creature we know, that, when the term of his natural life is ended, leaves the memory of himself behind him. All other animals have but one object in view in their more considerable actions, the supply of the humbler accommodations of their nature. Man has a power sufficient for the accomplishment of this object, and a residue of power beyond, which he is able, and which he not unfrequently feels... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY VOF THE REBELLIOUSNESS OF MAN There is a particular characteristic in the nature of the human mind, which is somewhat difficult to be explained. Man is a being of a rational and an irrational nature. It has often been said that we have two souls. Araspes, in the Cyropedia, adopts this language to explain his inconsistency, and desertion of principle and honor. The two souls of man, according to this hypothesis, are, first, animal, and, secondly, intellectual. But I am not going into any thing of this slight and every-day character. Man is a rational being. It is by this partic... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY VIOF HUMAN INNOCENCE One of the most obvious views which are presented to us by man in society is the inoffensiveness and innocence that ordinarily characterize him. Society for the greater part carries on its own organization. Each man pursues his proper occupation, and there are few individuals that feel the propensity to interrupt the pursuits of their neighbors by personal violence. When we observe the quiet manner in which the inhabitants of a great city, and, in the country, the frequenters of the fields, the high roads, and the heaths, pass along, each engrossed by his private con... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY VIIOF THE DURATION OF HUMAN LIFE The active and industrious portion of the human species in civilized countries, is composed of those who are occupied in the labor of the hand, and in the labor of the head. The following remarks expressly apply only to the latter of these classes, principally to such as are occupied in productive literature. They may however have their use to all persons a considerable portion of whose time is employed in study and contemplation, as, if well founded, they will form no unimportant chapter in the science of the human mind. In relation to all the members... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY VIIIOF HUMAN VEGETATION There is another point of view from which we may look at the subject of time as it is concerned with the business of human life, that will lead us to conclusions of a very different sort from those which are set down in the preceding Essay. Man has two states of existence in a striking degree distinguished from each other: the state in which he is found during his waking hours; and the state in which he is during sleep. The question has been agitated by Locke and other philosophers, "whether the soul always thinks," in other words, whether the mind, during thos... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY IXOF LEISURE The river of human life is divided into two streams; occupation and leisure--or, to express the thing more accurately, that occupation, which is prescribed, and may be called the business of life, and that occupation, which arises contingently, and not so much of absolute and set purpose, not being prescribed: such being the more exact description of these two divisions of human life, inasmuch as the latter is often not less earnest and intent in its pursuits than the former. It would be a curious question to ascertain which of these is of the highest value. To this inqui... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XOF IMITATION AND INVENTION Of the sayings of the wise men of former times none has been oftener repeated than that of Solomon, "The thing that hath been, is that which is; and that which is done, is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun." The books of the Old Testament are apparently a collection of the whole literary remains of an ancient and memorable people, whose wisdom may furnish instruction to us, and whose poetry abounds in lofty flights and sublime imagery. How this collection came indiscriminately to be considered as written by divine inspiration, i... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XIOF SELF-LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE NO question has more memorably exercised the ingenuity of men who have speculated upon the structure of the human mind, than that of the motives by which we are actuated in our intercourse with our fellow-creatures. The dictates of a plain and unsophisticated understanding on the subject are manifest; and they have been asserted in the broadest way by the authors of religion, the reformers of mankind, and all persons who have been penetrated with zeal and enthusiasm for the true interests of the race to which they belong. "The end of the commandment," say t... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XIIOF THE LIBERTY OF HUMAN ACTIONS. The question, which has been attended with so long and obstinate debates, concerning the metaphysical doctrines of liberty and necessity, and the freedom of human actions, is not even yet finally and satisfactorily settled. The negative is made out by an argument which seems to amount to demonstration, that every event requires a cause, a cause why it is as it is and not otherwise, that the human will is guided by motives, and is consequently always ruled by the strongest motive, and that we can never choose any thing, either without a motive of prefere... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XIIIOF BELIEF One of the prerogatives by which man is eminently distinguished from all other living beings inhabiting this globe of earth, consists in the gift of reason. Beasts reason. They are instructed by experience; and, guided by what they have already known of the series of events, they infer from the sense of what has gone before, an assured expectation of what is to follow. Hence, "beast walks with man, joint tenant of the shade;" and their sagacity is in many instances more unerring than ours, because they have no affectation to mislead them; they follow no false lights, no gl... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XIVOF YOUTH AND AGE Magna debetur pueris reverentia. Quintilian. I am more doubtful in writing the following Essay than in any of those which precede, how far I am treating of human nature generally, or to a certain degree merely recording my own feelings as an individual. I am guided however in composing it, by the principle laid down in my Preface, that the purpose of my book in each instance should be to expand some new and interesting truth, or some old truth viewed under a new aspect, which had never by any preceding writer been laid before the public. Education, in the concepti... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XVOF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP Who is it that says, "There is no love but among equals?" Be it who it may, it is a saying universally known, and that is in every one's mouth. The contrary is precisely the truth, and is the great secret of every thing that is admirable in our moral nature. By love it is my intention here to understand, not a calm, tranquil, and, as it were, half-pronounced feeling, but a passion of the mind. We may doubtless entertain an approbation of other men, without adverting to the question how they stand in relation to ourselves, as equals or otherwise. But the sentim... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XVIOF FRANKNESS AND RESERVE Animals are divided into the solitary and the are gregarious: the former being only occasionally associated with its mate, and perhaps engaged in the care of its offspring; the latter spending their lives in herds and communities. Man is of this last class or division. Where the animals of any particular species live much in society, it seems requisite that in some degree they should be able to understand each other's purposes, and to act with a certain portion of concert. All other animals are exceedingly limited in their powers of communication. But spee... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XVIIOF BALLOT The subject of the preceding Essay leads by an obvious transition to the examination of a topic, which at present occupies to a considerable extent the attention of those who are anxious for the progress of public improvement, and the placing the liberties of mankind on the securest basis: I mean, the topic of the vote by ballot. It is admitted that the most beneficial scheme for the government of nations, is a government by representation: that is, that there shall be in every nation, or large collection of men, a paramount legislative assembly, composed of deputies chose... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XVIIIOF DIFFIDENCE The following Essay will be to a considerable degree in the nature of confession, like the Confessions of St. Augustine or of Jean Jacques Rousseau. It may therefore at first sight appear of small intrinsic value, and scarcely worthy of a place in the present series. But, as I have had occasion more than once to remark, we are all of us framed in a great measure on the same model, and the analysis of the individual may often stand for the analysis of a species. While I describe myself therefore, I shall probably at the same time be describing no inconsiderable number o... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XIXOF SELF-COMPLACENCY The subject of this Essay is intimately connected with those of Essays XI and XII, perhaps the most important of the series. It has been established in the latter, that human creatures are constantly accompanied in their voluntary actions with the delusive sense of liberty, and that our character, our energies, and our conscience of moral right and wrong, are mainly dependent upon this feature in our constitution. The subject of my present disquisition relates to the feeling of self-approbation or self-complacency, which will be found inseparable from the most ho... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XXOF PHRENOLOGY The following remarks can pretend to he nothing more than a few loose and undigested thoughts upon a subject, which has recently occupied the attention of many men, and obtained an extraordinary vogue in the world. It were to be wished, that the task had fallen into the hands of a writer whose studies were more familiar with all the sciences which bear more or less on the topic I propose to consider: but, if abler and more competent men pass it by, I feel disposed to plant myself in the breach, and to offer suggestions which may have the fortune to lead others, better fitte... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XXIOF ASTRONOMY SECTION I GO TO SECTION II It can scarcely be imputed to me as profane, if I venture to put down a few skeptical doubts on the science of astronomy. All branches of knowledge are to be considered as fair subjects of inquiry: and he that has never doubted, may be said, in the highest and strictest sense of the word, never to have believed. The first volume that furnished to me the groundwork of the following doubts, was the book commonly known by the name of Guthrie's Geographical Grammar, many parts and passages of which engaged my attention in my own study, in the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XXIIOF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE In the preceding Essay I have referred to the theory of Berkeley, whose opinion is that there is no such thing as matter in the sense in which it is understood by the writers on natural philosophy, and that the whole of our experience in that respect is the result of a system of accidents without an intelligible subject, by means of which antecedents and consequents flow on for ever in a train, the past succession of which man is able to record, and the future in many cases he is qualified to predict and to act upon. An argument more palpable and popular than ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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From: Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions and Discoveries Interspersed with some Particulares Respecting the Author by William Godwin ESSAY XXIIIOF HUMAN VIRTUE THE EPILOGUE The life of man is divided into many stages; and we shall not form a just estimate of our common nature, if we do not to a certain degree pass its successive periods in review, and observe it in its commencement, its progress, and its maturity. It has been attempted to be established in an early part of the present volume1, that all men, idiots and extraordinary cases being put out of the question, are endowed with talents, which, if rightly directed, would shew them to be apt, adroit, intelligent and acute, in the walk for which their organization esp... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

Chronology

1831 :
Thoughts on Man, his Nature, Productions and Discoveries -- Publication.

January 28, 2017 ; 7:17:08 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

May 28, 2017 ; 9:36:05 AM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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