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apprehension at all, so far as I can find. If there be, it must arise either from the reason of the thing, or from the analogy of nature.
But we cannot argue from the reason of the thing, that death is the destruction of living agents, because know not at all what death is in itself; but only some of its effects, such as the dissolution of flesh, skin, and bones ; and these effects do in no wise appear to imply the destruction of a living agent. And besides, as are greatly in the dark upon what the exercise of our living powers depends, so we are wholly ignorant what the powers themselves depend upon;—the powers themselves, as distinguished, not only from their actual exercise, but also from the present capacity of exercising them; and as opposed to their destruction: for sleep, or however a swoon, shows us, not only that these powers exist when they are not exercised, as the passive power of motion does in inanimate matter; but shows also that they exist when there is no present capacity of exercising them; or that the capacities of exercising them for the present, as well as the actual exercise of them, may be suspended, and yet the powers themselves remain undestroyed. Since, then, we know not at all upon what the existence of our living powers depends, this shows further, there can be no probability collected, from the reason of the thing, that death will be their destruction; because their existence may depend upon somewhat in no degree affected by death ; upon somewhat quite out of the reach of this king of terrors. So that there is nothing more certain, than that the reason of the thing shows us
no connexion between death and the destruction of living agents. Nor can we find any thing throughout the whole analogy of nature, to afford us even the slightest presumption that animals ever lose their living powers ; much less, if it were possible, that they lose them by death; for we have no faculties wherewith to trace any beyond or through it, so as to see what becomes
of them. This event removes them from our view. It destroys the sensible proof, which he had before their death, of their being possessed of living powers, but does not appear to afford the least reason to believe that they are then, or by that event, deprived of them.
And our knowing that they were possessed of these powers, up to the very period to which we have faculties capable of tracing them, is itself, a probability of their retaining them beyond it. And this is confirmed, and a sensible credibility is given to it, by observing the very great and astonishing changes which we have experienced ; so great, that our existence in another state of life, of perception and of action, will be but according to method of providential conduct, the like to which has been already exercised even with regard to ourselves ; according to a course of nature, the like to which we have already gone through.
However, as one cannot but be greatly sensible how difficult it is to silence imagination enough to make the voice of reason even distinctly beard in this case; as we are accustomed, from our youth up, to indulge that forward delusive faculty, ever obtruding beyond its sphere; of some assistance, indeed, to apprehension, but the author of all error—as we plainly lose ourselves in gross and crude conceptions of things, taking for granted that we are acquainted with what indeed we are wholly ignorant of; it may be proper to consider the imaginary presumptions, that death will be our destruction, arising from these kinds of early and lasting prejudices; and to show how little they can really amount to, even though we cannot wholly divest ourselves of them. And,
I. All presumption of death's being the destruction of living beings, must go upon supposition that they are compounded, and so discerptible. But since consciousness is a single and indivisible power, it should seem that the subject in which it resides must be so too.
For, were the motion of any particle of matter absolutely one and
indivisible, so as that it should imply a contradiction to suppose part of this motion to exist, and part not to exist, i. e. part of this matter to move, and part to be at rest ; then its power of motion would be indivisible; and so also would the subject in which the power inheres, namely, the particle of matter : for, if this could be divided into two, one part might be moved and the other at rest, which is contrary to the supposition. In like manner it has been argued, * and for any thing appearing to the contrary, justly, that since the perception, or consciousness, which we have of our own existence is indivisible, 80 as that it is a contradiction to suppose one part of it should be here, and the other there; the perceptive power, or the power of consciousness, is indivisible too; and, consequently, the subject in which it resides, i. e. the conscious being. Now, upon supposition that the living agent each man calls himself is thus a single being, which there is at least no more difficulty in conceiving, than in conceiving it to be a compound, and of which there is the proof now mentioned, it follows, that our organized bodies are no more ourselves, or part of ourselves, than any other matter around us. And it is as easy to conceive how matter, which is no part of ourselves, may be appropriated to us in the manner which our present bodies are, as how we can receive impressions from, and have power over, any matter. It is as easy to conceive that we may exist out of bodies as in them; thatwe might have animated bodies of any other organs and senses wholly different from those now given us, and that we may hereafter animate these same or new bodies variously modified and organized, as to conceive how we can animate such bodies as our present. And, lastly, the dissolution of all these several organized bodies, supposing ourselves to have successively animated them, would have no conceivable tendency to destroy the living beings, ourselves, or deprive us of living faculties, the faculties of perception and of action, than the dissolution of any foreign matter, which we are capable of receiving impressions from, and making use of for the common occasions of life.
See Dr. Clarke's Letter to Mr. Dodwell and the Defences of it,
II. The simplicity and absolute oneness of a living agent cannot, indeed, from the nature of the thing, be properly proved by experimental observations. But as these fall in with the supposition of its unity, so they plainly lead us to conclude certainly, that our gross organized bodies with which we perceive the objects of sense, and with which we act, are no part of ourselves, and therefore show us, that we have no reason to believe their destruction to be ours; eren without determining whether our living substances be material or immaterial. For we see by experience, that men may lose their limbs, their organs of sense, and even the greatest part of these bodies, and yet remain the same living agents. And persons can trace up the existence of themselves to a time when the bulk of their bodies was extremely small, in comparison of what it is in mature age; and we cannot but think, that they might then have lost a considerable part of that small body, and yet have remained the same living agents, as they may now lose great part of their present body, and remain so. And it is certain that the bodies of all animals are in a constant flux, from that never-ceasing attrition which there is in every part of them. Now things of this kind unavoidably teach us to distinguish between these living agents, ourselves, and large quantities of matter, in which we are very nearly interested: since these may
be alienated, and actually are in a daily course of succession, and changing their owners; whilst we are assured that each living agent remains one and the same permanent being.* And this general observation leads us on to the following
Först, That we have no way of determining by experience, what is the certain bulk of the living being each man
• See Dissertation I.
calls himself; and yet, till it be determined that it is larger in bulk than the solid elementary particles of matter, which there is no ground to think any natural power can dissolve, there is no sort of reason to think death to be the dissolution of it, of the living being, even though it should not be absolutely indiscerptible.
Secondly, From our being so nearly related to, and interested in, certain systems of matter, suppose our flesh and bones, and afterwards ceasing to be at all related to them, the living agents, ourselves, remaining all this while undestroyed, notwithstanding such alienation; and consequently these systems of matter not being ourselves; it follows further, that we have no ground to conclude any other, suppose internal systems of matter, to be the living agents ourselves, because we can have no ground to conclude this, but from our relation to, and interest in, such other systems of matter ; and therefore we can have no reason to conclude what befalls those systems of matter at death, to be the destruction of the living agents. We have already, several times over, lost a great part or perhaps the whole of our body, according to certain common established laws of nature; yet we remain the same living agents: when we shall lose as great a part, or the whole, by another common established law of nature, death, why may we not also remain the same ? That the alienation has been gradual in one case, and in the other will be more at once, does not prove any thing to the contrary. We have passed undestroyed through those many and great revolutions of matter, so peculiarly appropriated to us ourselves; why should we imagine death will be so fatal to us? Nor can it be objected, that what is thus alienated, or lost, is no part of our original solid body, but only adventitious matter ;
lose entire limbs, which must have contained many solid parts and vessels of the original body : or if this be not admitted, we have no proof that any of these solid parts are dissolved or alienated by death ; though, by the way, we are very nearly related to that extraneous or adventitious matter, whilst it continues united to and dis
because we may