113. Bulls.


Novi ego aliquem qui dormitabundus aliquando pulsari horam quartam audiverit, et sic numeravit, una, una, una, una; ac turn præ rei absurditate, quant anima concepiebat exclamavit, Næ! delirat Horologium! Quater pulsavit horam unam.

I knew a person who during imperfect sleep, or dozing as we say, listened to the clock as it was striking four, and as it struck, he counted the four, one, one, one, one; and then exclaimed, Why, the 220clock is out of its wits: it has struck one four times over.

This is a good exemplification of the nature of Bulls, which will be found always to contain in them a confusion of (what the Schoolmen would have called) Objectivety with Subjectivety, in plain English, the impression of a thing as it exists in itself and extrinsically, with the idea which the mind abstracts from the impression. Thus, number, or the total of a series, is a generalization of the mind, an ens rationis not an ens reale. I have read many attempts at a definition of a Bull, and lately in the Edinburgh Review, but it then appeared to me, that the definers had fallen into the same fault with Miss Edgeworth in her delightful essay on Bulls, and given the definition of the genus, Blunder, for that of the particular species, Bull. I venture therefore to propose the following: a Bull consists in a mental juxtaposition of incongruous ideas with the 221sensation, but without the sense, of connection. The psychological conditions of the possibility of a Bull, it would not be difficult to determine; but it would require a larger space than can be afforded in the Omniana, at least more attention, than our readers would be likely to afford.

There is a sort of spurious bull, which consists wholly in mistake of language, and which the closest thinker may make, if speaking in a language of which he is not master.


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