PHILOSOPHY, mental. 1. That science which teaches us the laws of our mental frame, which spews us the origin of our various modes and habits of thought and feeling, how they operate upon one an other, and how they are cultivated or re pressed, is mental philosophy, or the phi. losophy of the human mind. The well directed study of it calls into action and improves the highest intellectual faculties; and while it employs the powers of the mind, it suggests the best means for their culture, and the best mode of their direc tion. It enables us to trace the intricacies of our own hearts, and points out the pro per discipline for their correction. It dis covers to us the real excellencies of the mind, and guides us in our efforts for the attainment of them. To success in form ing the moral and mental character of others, it is more or less essential ; for it discloses the nature dour influence over their minds, and the best mode of exer cising it so as to bring their various fa culties into the best adjusted and most perfect state. Pursued with proper views, and in a proper manner, it lays the best foundation for the highest degrees of in tellectual, moral, and religious improve ment.—" There are difficulties," to use the words of the great Hartley, " both in the word of God and in his works ; and these difficulties are sometimes so mag nified as to lead to scepticism, infidelity.
or atheism. Now the contemplation of our own frame and constitution appears to me to have a peculiar tendency to les sen these difficulties attending natural and revealed religion, and to improve their evidences, as well as to concur with them in their determination of man's duty and expedtations." 2. The best ground-work for the pur suit of mental science, is an accurate judg ;Tient, a discriminating penetrating intel lect, and a habit of correct and cautious reasoning ; and therefore the best prepa ratory culture of mind is the study of the various branches of the mathematics and of natural philosophy. But habits of re
flection and good sense are all which are essential to the beneficial pursuit of men tal science ; and with these, it will in all cases lead to results highly important to individual welfare and usefulness.—The young, in particular, will be led, by an acquaintance with the practical laws of the mind, to perceive how their present conduct affects their future character and happiness; to perceive the importance of avoiding a frivolous employment of their time, without any end beyond mere amuse ment; to perceive the impossibility of in dulging in vicious gratifications, without lessening their means of happiness, and checking their progress towards excel lence. They will learn how habits are formed almost imperceptibly, and when long exercised, how exceedingly difficult it is to eradicate them ; they will learn to consider the formation of habits as requir ing, therefore, their utmost circumspec tion. They will be enabled to discern what habits of thought and feeling are baneful, what useful ; what means of hap piness should be regarded as of primary value, what should be regarded as secon dary only —In short, there can be no he sitation in affirming, that next to the im mediate pursuits of religion, to which the laws of the mind direct, a judicious ac quaintance with those laws is the most important means for the right employ ment of that period of life on which the happiness of our existence, in a great measure, depends.
3. We cannot even attempt to give our readers a complete system of this import ant science ; however brief it might be made, if it were as comprehensive as the subject requires, it would occupy too great a portion of this work : what we wish to aim at is, to give such a view of the leading laws of our mental frame, as may direct the thoughts of the inquirer in to a right channel, and serve as a founda tion for the results of attentive reflection, which reading may assist in gaining, but can seldom impart.