Page images
PDF
EPUB

Reasonings uniform and unbroken, to pursue the Relations of Things through all their Labyrinths and Windings, and at length exhibit them to the View of the Soul, with all the Advantages of Light and Conviction.

IV. But as the Understanding in advancing from one Part of Knowledge to another, proceeds Operations of by a juft Gradation, and exerts various Aus, according to the different Progress it has made, Logicians have been careful to note these several Steps, and have dirtinguished them in their Writings by the Name of the Opera-, tions of the Mind. These they make four in Number, and agreeably to that, have divided the whole System of Logick into four Parts, in which these Acts are severally explained, and the Conduct and Procedure of the Mind, in its different Stages of Improvement, regulated by proper Rules and Observations. Now, in order to judge how far Logicians have followed Nature, in this Distinction of the Power of the Understanding, let us take a short View of the Mind, and the manner of its Progress, according to the Experience we have of it in ourselves, and see whither the Chain of our own Thoughts will without Constraint lead us.

V. First then, we find ourselves surrounded with a Variety of Objects, which acting diffe- Perception. rently upon our Senses, convey distinct Impressions into the Mind, and thereby roufe the Attention and Notice of the Understanding. By reflecting too on what passes within us, we become sensible of the Operations of our own Minds, and attend to them as a new Set of Impressions.' But in all this there is only bare Consciousness. The Mind, without' proceeding any farther, takes notice of the Impressions that are made upon it, and views Things in order, as they present themselves one after another. This Attention of the Understanding to the Object acting upon it, whereby it becomes fensible of the Impressions they make, is called by Logicians Perception ; and the Notices themselves, as they exist in the Mind, and are there treasured up to be the Materials of Thinking and Knowledge, are distinguished by the Name of Ideas.

VI. But the Mind does not always reft fatiffied in the bare View and Contemplation of its

Fudgment. Ideas. It is of a more active and buly Nature, and likes to be assembling them together, and comparing them one with another. In this complicated View of Things, it readily discerns, that some agree, and others disagree, and joins or keparates them according to this Perception. Thus upon com

paring conclude

B 2

paring the Idea of two added to two, with the Idea of fout we at first Glance perceive their Agreement, and thereupon pronounce that two and two are equal to four. Againg that white is not black, that five is less than seven, are Truths to which we immediately assent, as soon as we compare those Ideas together. This is the first and simplest At of the Mind, in determining the Relations of Things, when by a bare Attention to its own Ideas, comparing any two of them together, it can at once see how far they are connected or disjoined. The Knowledge thence derived is called intuitive, as requiring no Pains or Examination; and the Act of the Mind assembling its Ideas together, and joining or disjoining them according to the Reiult of its Perceptions, is what Logicians term Judgment.

VII. INTUITION affords the highest degree of Reasoning,

Certainty, it breaks in with an irresistible Light upon the Understanding, and leaves no room for Doubt or Hesitation. Could we in all Cafes, by thus putting two Ideas together, discern immediately their Agreement or Disagreement, we should be exempt from Error, and all its fatal Consequences. But it so happens, that many of our Ideas are of fuch a Nature, that they cannot be thus examined in Concert, or by any immediate Application one to another ; and then it becomes necessary to find out some other Ideas, that will admit of this Application, that by means of them we may discover the Agreement or Disagreement we search for. Thus the Mind wanting to know the Agreement or Disagreement in Extent, between two inclosed Fields, which it cannot so put together, as to discover their Equality or Inequality, by an immediate Comparison, casts about for fome intermediate Idea, which by being applied first to the one, and then to the other, will discover the Relation it is in quest of. Accordingly it affumes fome stated Length, as a Yard, &c. and mealuring the Fields, one after the other, comes by that means to the Knowledge of the Agreement or Disagreement in question.

The intervening Ideas, made use of on these Occasions, are called Proofs ; and the Exercise of the Mind in finding them out, and applying them for the Discovery of the Truths it is in search of, is what we term Reasoning. And here let it be obferved, that the Knowledge gained by Reasoning, is a Dcduction from our intuitive Perceptions, and ultimately founded on them. Thus in the Case before-mentioned, having found by measuring, that one of the Fields makes threektore square Yards, and the other only fifty-five, we thence

conclude that the first Field is larger than the second. Ilere the two firft Perceptions are plainly intuitive, and gained by u immediate Application of the Measure of a Yard to the two Fields, one after another. The Conclusion, though it produces no less certain Knowledge, yet differs from the others in this, that it is not obtained by an inmediate Comparison of the Ideas contained in it one with another, but is

Deduction from the two preceding Judgments, in which these Ideas are severally compared with a third, and their Relation thereby discovered. We see therefore, that Reafoning is a much more complicated Act of the Mind than simple Judgment, and neceffarilly presupposes it, as being ultimately founded on the Perceptions thence gained, and implying the various Comparison of them one with another, This is the great Exercise of the human Faculties, and the chief Instrument by which we push on our Discoveries, and enlarge our Knowledge. A Quickness of Mind to find out intermediate Ideas, and apply them skilfully in determining the Relations of things, is one of the principal Distinctions among Men, and that which gives some lo remarkable a Superiority over others, that we are apt to look upon

them as Creatures of another Species. VII. Thus far we have traced the Progress

Merbod. of the Mind in Thinking, and seen it rising by natural and easy Steps, from its first and fimple Perceptions, to the Exercise of its highest and most distinguishing Faculty. Let us now view it in another Light, as enriched with Knowledge, and stored with a Variety of Discoveries, acquired by the due Application of its natural Powers. It is obvious to consider it in these circumstances, as taking a general Survey of its whole Stock of intellectual Acquisia dons, disposing them under certain Heads and Classes, and tying them together, according to those Connections and Den pendencies it discerns between them. It often happens, in carrying on our Enquiries from Subject to Subject, that we ftumble upon unexpected Truth, and are encountered by Discoveries, which our present Train of Thinking gave ng Prospect of bringing in our way. A Man of clear Apprehension, and distinct Reason, who after due Search and Examination, has mastered any Part of Knowledge, and. even made important Discoveries in it, beyond what he at first expected, will not suffer his Thoughts to lie jumbled together, in the same confused manner as Chance offered them; he will be for combining them into a regular System, B 3

where

[ocr errors]

2re

where their mutual Dependence may be easily traced, and the Parts seem to grow one out of another. This is that Operation of the Mind, known by the Name of Disposition or Method, and comes in the last in order, according to the Division of the Logicians, presupposing some tolcrable Mea, fure of Knowledge, before it can have an opportunity of exerting itself in any extensive degree.

IX. We see then that this fourfold DistinctiPerception and Fudgment,

on of the Powers of the Mind into Perception, Terms of a

Judgment, Reasoning and Disposition, as well pary czter five as the Order in which they are placed, have a Signification. real Foundation in Nature, and arise from the Method and Procedure of our own Thoughts. It is true, there many

other Actions and Modifications of the Understanding, besides those above-mentioner!, as Believing, Doubting, Allenting, &c. but these are all implied in the Act of Reasoning, in the like manner as Compounding, Abstracting, Remembering, may be referred to the first Operation of the Mind, or Perception. This will appear more fully in the Sequel, when we come to handle the several Parts of Logick separately ; at present we shall content ourselves with this general Account of Things ; only it seems necessary to obLerve, that Perception and Judgment, in the Propriety of the English Tongue, have a much more extensive Signification than Logicians commonly allow them. We not only perceive the Ideas in our own Minds, but we are said also to perceive their Agreement or Disagreement; and hence arife the common Phrases of intuitive Perceptions, Perceptions of Truth, and of the Justness of Arguments or Proofs ; where it is manifeft, that the Word is applied not only to our Judgments, but also to our Reasonings. In a word, whatever comes under the View of the Mind, so as to be distinctly represented and taken notice of, whether an Idea, Propofition, Chain of Reasoning, or the Order or Connection of Things, is thereby rendered an Object of Perception, and gives Employment to this first and most simple of our Facultics. In like manner the Word Judgment is seldom in common Discourse confined to obvious and self-evident Truths, It rather signifies those Conjecturts and Guesses that we form, in Cafes which admit not of undoubted Certainty, and where we are left to determine by comparing the various Probabilities of Things. Thus a Man of Sagacity and Penegration, who fees far into the Humours and Paflions of Mankind, and seldom mistakes in the Opinions he frames of

Cha

Parts. Iis

Chazaiters and Actions, is faid to judge well, or think judiciously, For these Reasons, it might not be improper to change the common Names of the two first Operations of the Mind, calling the one fimple Apprehension, and the ocher Intuition; which two Words fecin better to express, their Nature, and the Manner in which they are converfant about their several Objects. This Accuracy of Distinguihing, where there is any the least Difference, is in a peculiar Manner necessary in a Treatise of Logick, as it is the professed Design of that Science, to teach us how to form clear and distinct Notions of Things, and thereby avoid being milled by their Similitude or Resemblance,

X. HAVING thus given a general Idea of the four Operations of the Mind, and traced Logick di. their Connection and Dependence one upon an

vided into four other, I would next obferve, that in conse- Usefulness and quence of this Division of the Powers of the Excellency. Understanding, Logick is alfo divided into four Parts, which treat severally of these Aets, and give Rules and Directions for their due Conduct and Regulation.

The Operations themselves we have from Nature, but how to exert them juftly, and employ them with Advantage in the Scarch of Truth, is a Knowledge that may be acquired by Study and Observation. It is certain that we meet with false Reasonings as well as just. Some Men are diftinguished by an Accuracy of Thinking, and a happy Talent of unravelling and throwing Light upon the most obcure and intricate Subjects. Others confound the easiest Speculations; their Understandings seem to be formed awry, and they are incapable of either conceiving clearly themfelves, or making their Thoughts intelligible to others. If then we fct ourlelves carefully to observe, what it is that makes the one succeed so well, and how the others come to miscarry, these Remarks will furnish us with an Art of the highest Use and Excellency in the Conduct of Life. Now this is the precise Business of Logick, to explain the Nature of the human Mind, and the proper Manner of conducting its several Powers, in order to the Attainment of Truth and Knowledge. It lays open those Errors and Mistakes we are apt through Inattention to run into, and teaches us how to distinguish between Truth, and what carries only the Appearance of it. By this means we grow acquainted with the Nature and Force of the Understanding, see what Things lie within its Reach, where we may attain Certainty and Demonftration, and when we must be contented with bare

B 4

Probability

« PreviousContinue »