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The Temple of Nature, Edited by Martin Priestman

ADDITIONAL NOTES. II.

THE FACULTIES OF THE SENSORIUM.

Next the long nerves unite their silver train,
And young Sensation permeates the brain.               CANTO I. 1. 250.

 

        I. THE fibres, which constitute the muscles and organs of sense, possess a power of contraction. The circumstances attending the exertion of this power of contraction constitute the laws of animal motion, as the circumstances attending the exertion of the power of attraction constitute the laws of motion of inanimate matter.
         II. The spirit of animation is the immediate cause of the contraction of animal fibres, it resides in the brain and nerves, and is liable to general or partial diminution or accumulation.
        III. The stimulus of bodies external to the moving organ is the remote cause of the original contractions of animal fibres.
        IV. A certain quantity of stimulus produces irritation, which is an exertion of the spirit of animation exciting the fibres into contraction.
        V. A certain quantity of contraction of animal fibres, if it be perceived at all, produces pleasure; a greater or less quantity of contraction, if it be perceived at all, produces pain; these constitute sensation.
        VI. A certain quantity of sensation produces desire or aversion; these constitute volition.
        VII. All animal motions which have occurred at the same time, or in immediate succession, become so connected, that when one of them is reproduced, the other has a tendency to accompany or succeed it. When fibrous contractions succeed or accompany other fibrous contractions, the connexion is termed association; when fibrous contractions succeed sensorial motions, the connexion is termed causation; when fibrous and sensorial motions reciprocally introduce each other, it is termed catenation of animal motions.
        VIII. These four faculties of the sensorium during their inactive state are termed irritability, sensibility, voluntarity, and associability; in their active state they are termed as above irritation, sensation, volition, association.
        Irritation is an exertion or change of some extreme part of the sensorium residing in the muscles or organs of sense, in consequence of the appulses of external bodies.
        Sensation is an exertion or change of the central parts of the sensorium, or of the whole of it, beginning at some of those extreme parts of it, which reside in the muscles or organs of sense.
        Volition is an exertion or change of the central parts of the sensorium, or of the whole of it, terminating in some of those extreme parts of it, which reside in the muscles or organs of sense.
        Association is an exertion or change of some extreme part of the sensorium residing in the muscles or organs of sense, in consequence of some antecedent or attendant fibrous contractions; see Zoonomia, Vol. I.
        The word sensorium is used to express not only the medullary part of the brain, spinal marrow, nerves, organs of sense and muscles, but also at the same time that living principle, or spirit of animation, which resides throughout the body, without being cognizable to our senses except by its effects.

Published @ RC

October 2006