Operation of the Mind

Operation of the Mind is that action of the mental faculty which gives us consciousness of possession. We know that we have a stomach, but are not made conscious of its possession until it is impaired, and so with every other physical part. Quite differently do we become aware of the possession of mental or, better, spiritual faculties. It is in their healthy condition that we are most thoroughly conscious of such property. SEE MIND. "By the operations of the mind," says Dr. Reid (Intell. Powers, essay 1, ch. 1), "'we understand every mode of thinking of which we are conscious." In all language the various modes of thinking have always been designated by this term, or one of like import. It is used to establish clearly the distinction of mind from matter. The former is from its very nature a living and active being. Everything we know of it implies life and active energy; and "the reason why all its modes of thinking are called its operations is that in all, or in most of them, it is not merely passive, as a body is, but is really and properly active" (Reid). To body we simply ascribe certain properties, but not operations, properly so called: it is extended, divisible, movable, inert; it continues in any state in which it is put; every change of its state is the effect of some force impressed upon it, and is exactly proportional to the force impressed, and in the precise direction of that force. These are the general properties of matter, and these are not operations; on the contrary, they all imply its being a dead, inactive thing; which moves only as it is moved, and acts only by being acted upon. See Krauth's Fleming, Vocab. of Philos. s.v.

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