"The sensible Beauty, or Good, is refined from its Dross by partaking of the Moral, and the Moral receives a Stamp, a visible Character and Currency from the Sensible."

— Fordyce, David (bap. 1711, d. 1751)

Place of Publication
1748, 1754
"The sensible Beauty, or Good, is refined from its Dross by partaking of the Moral, and the Moral receives a Stamp, a visible Character and Currency from the Sensible."
Metaphor in Context
A very slight Inspection into human Nature suggests to us, that no kind of Objects make so powerful an Impression on us as those which are immediately impressed on our Senses, or strongly painted on our Imaginations. Whatever is purely Intellectual, as abstracted or scientific Truths, the subtile Relations and Differences of Things, has a fainter sort of Existence in the Mind; and though it may exercise and whet the Memory, the Judgment, or the Reasoning Powers, gives hardly any Impulse at all to the Active Powers, the Passions, which are the main Springs of Motion. On the other hand, were the Mind entirely under the Direction of Sense, and impressible only by such Objects as are present, and strike some of the outward Organs, we should then be precisely in the State of the Brute-Creation, and be governed solely by Instinct or Appetite, and have no Power to controul whatever Impressions are made upon us: Nature has therefore endued us with a MIDDLE FACULTY, wonderfully adapted to our MIXED State, which holds partly of Sense and partly of Reason, being strongly allied to the former, and the common Receptacle in which all the Notices that come from that quarter are treasured up, and yet greatly subservient and ministerial to the latter, by giving a Body, a Coherence, and Beauty to its Conceptions. This middle Faculty is called the IMAGINATION, one of the most busy and fruitful Powers of the Mind. Into this common Storehouse are likewise carried all those Moral Images or Forms which are derived from our Moral Faculties of Perception, and there they often undergo new Changes and Appearances, by being mixed and wrought up with the Images and Forms of Sensible or Natural Things. By this Coalition of Imagery, Natural Beauty is dignified and heightened by Moral Qualities and Perfections, and Moral Qualities are at once exhibited, and set off by Natural Beauty. The sensible Beauty, or Good, is refined from its Dross by partaking of the Moral, and the Moral receives a Stamp, a visible Character and Currency from the Sensible.--But in order to judge of this mutual Influence, it will be proper to give a few Instances of the Process of the Imagination, or of the Energy of the associating Principle.
(p. 123-4)
Searching "mind" in Liberty Fund OLL
At least 14 entries in ESTC (1748, 1749, 1754, 1758, 1761, 1763, 1765, 1769, 1775, 1783, 1786, 1793). First available in Dodsley's Preceptor in 1748, published posthumously in 1754. The Elements also appeared as an article in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Thomas Kennedy notes in the introduction to his edition: "Few essays of eighteenth-century moral philosophy can be said to have circulated so widely."

See The Elements of Moral Philosophy. In Three Books. 1. Of Man, and His Connexions. Of Duty or Moral Obligation. - Various Hypotheses Final Causes of Our Moral Faculties of Perception and Affection. 2. The Principal Distinction of Duty or Virtue. Man's Duties to Himself. - To Society. - To God. 3. Of Practical Ethics, or the Culture of the Mind. Motives to Virtue from Personal Happiness. - From the Being and Providence of God. - From the Immortality of the Soul. The Result, or Conclusion. By the Late Rev. Mr. David Fordyce. Professor of Moral Philosophy, and Author of the Art of Preaching, Inscribed to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pallmall, 1754). <Link to ESTC>

See also The Preceptor: Containing a General Course of Education. Wherein the First Principles of Polite Learning Are Laid Down in a Way Most Suitable for Trying the Genius, and Advancing the Instruction of Youth. In Twelve Parts. Viz. I. On Reading, Speaking, and Writing Letters. II. On Geometry. III. On Geography and Astronomy. IV. On Chronology and History. V. On Rhetoric and Poetry. VI. On Drawing. VII. On Logic. VIII. On Natural History. IX. On Ethics, or Morality. X. On Trade and Commerce. XI. On Laws and Government. XII. On Human Life and Manners. Illustrated With Maps and Useful Cuts. 2 vols. (London: Printed for R. Dodsley, at Tully's-Head in Pall-Mall, 1748). <Link to ESTC> [The Preceptor was reprinted 1748, 1749, 1754, 1758, 1761-65, 1763, 1765, 1769, 1775, 1783, 1786, and 1793.]

Reading and searching The Elements of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books with A Brief Account of the Nature, Progress and Origin of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Kennedy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). [The Liberty Fund text is based on the 1754 edition.] <Link to OLL>
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.