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David Hartley on Human Nature by Richard C. Allen

By Richard C. Allen

During this first whole account of Hartley's notion, Richard Allen explains Hartley's theories of body structure, belief and motion, language and cognition, emotional improvement and transformation, and non secular transcendence. by way of drawing a biographical portrait of its topic, the booklet explores the connection of brain and physique in Hartley's method, and surveys Hartley's impact upon later scientists and social reformers, rather Joseph Priestley.

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The answer lies in the actions of, and responses to, Hartley's bulldog, Joseph Priestley.  This work—in which Priestley states that the Observations "contains a new and most extensive science," so that studying it is "like entering upon a new world"—provides the epigraph for the book before you now.  Priestley is in effect claiming that Reid, Beattie, and Oswald simply do not understand what a good scientific theory is; to draw a contemporary analogy, their "theory" is to Hartley's what the "theory" of creationism is to natural selection as an explanation of evolution—a pseudo­science that itself explains nothing and that also denies that further investigation is possible.

A child who has been repeatedly harmed or threatened with harm, at home or at school, enters into a generalized state of fear, anxiety, and suspicion, and manifests the "activity of the parts" through a variety of symptoms.  A computer in the schoolroom, which frustrates his attempt to make it work, becomes the object of his fury.  It will be added to the recollection of failures, and list of grievances, that are heaped together in the midden of memories that is oneself.  The child's face mirrors his first tormentors' frown of hate.

6 In this story, Hartley adheres to Cheyne's regimen of a "vegetable diet" and is similarly transformed.  Moreover, in a letter of 2 March 1735, to his elder sister Elizabeth Booth, from Bury St.  We are both very abstemious, and neither drink ale nor wine" (Warner 1817, 100). In this story, Byrom is delighted at Hartley's thinness, for it vindicates the vegetable diet that both men follow; it indicates that Hartley is resisting his hunger for fat geese and ale, roast beef and claret.

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