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Thomas Reid on Matter vs. Living Things

To body we ascribe various 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. But the mind is, from its very nature, a living and active being.
Every thing 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 body
is, but is really and properly active. In all ages, and in all
languages, ancient and modern, the various modes of thinking have been
expressed by words of active signification, such as seeing, hearing,
reasoning, willing, and the like. It seems, therefore, to be the
natural judgment of mankind, that the mind is active in its various
ways of thinking; and for this reason they are called its operations, and are expressed by active
verbs. It may be made a question, What regard is to be paid to this
natural judgment? May it not be a vulgar error? Philosophers who think
so have, no doubt, a right to be heard. But until it is proved that the
mind is not active in thinking, but merely passive, the common language
with regard to its operations ought to be used, and ought not to give
place to a phraseology invented by philosophers, which implies its
being merely passive.