Darwin-L Message Log 5:53 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<5:53>From jsutton@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au  Mon Jan 10 18:39:49 1994

Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994 11:34:37 +1100 (EST)
From: John Sutton <jsutton@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au>
Subject: Re: seeking examples of "train of thought" metaphor
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Re: John Limber's query on "trains of thought"

I can't offhand think of this expression earlier than Hobbes. But one
related, and less metaphorical, use was in associationist physiological
psychology: "trains of motions in the animal spirits" were the mechanism
by which trains of thought occurred, and could be adapted to various
metaphysics of mind. This phrase was used by Locke in the ESSAY 4th
edition (II.33) and parodied by Sterne: and I suspect that it was already
current in C17 animal spirits theory. One implication of both metaphors with
which later writers would get uneasy was that mind/brain processes may
escape conscious control and exceed the ministrations of the will.

John Sutton
History Philosophy & Politics
Macquarie Uni
NSW 2109

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