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|Imagination, or the lack of it.
Written by Caroline
(9/16/2006 6:18 p.m.)
"Upon my word," said Mr Dashwood, "I believe you are perfectly right.
The above passage reminded me of something in another book:
Dugald Stewart’s Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792), contains the following:
What we commonly call sensibility, depends, in a great measure, on the power of imagination. Point out two men, any object of compassion; --a man, for example, reduced by misfortune from easy circumstances to indigence. The one feels merely in proportion to what he perceives by his senses. The other follows, in imagination, the unfortunate man to his dwelling, and partakes with him and his family in their domestic distresses.... As he proceeds in the painting, his sensibility increases, and he weeps, not for what he sees, but for what he imagines. It will be said, that it was his sensibility which originally aroused his imagination; and the observation is undoubtedly true; but it is equally evident, on the other hand, that the warmth of his imagination increases and prolongs his sensibility. “
I find it interesting that Mr Stewart’s example should, apart from the gender change, describe the late Henry Dashwood’s family situation, and that John and Fanny’s lack of imagination should indicate that he has “not the strong feelings of the rest of the family” and that she should be more “narrow-minded and selfish.” Does anyone know of any other similar bits in texts that JA might have known?
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