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wo agree with him: But he thought it тегу wicked and very despicably silly; and there we cannot agree with him at all. It is a very pretty and ingenious puzzle,—affords a very useful mortification to human reason,—and leads us to that state of philosophical wonder nnd perplexity in which we i'eel our own helplessness, and in which we ought to feel the impropriety of all dogmatism or arrogance in reasoning upon such subjects. This is the ualy use and the only meaning of such sceplical speculations. It is altogether unfair, and indeed absurd, to suppose that their authors could ever mean positively to maintain that we should try to get the better of any reliance on our memories, or that they themselves really doubted more than other people as to the past reality of the things they remembered. The very arguments they use. indeed, to show that the evidence of memory may be fallacious, prove, completely, that, in point of fact, they relied as implicitly as their antagonists on the accuracy of that faculty. If they were not sure that they recollected the premises of their own reasonings, it is evidently impossible that they should ever have come to any conclusion. If they did not believe that they had seen the book? they answered, it is impossible they should have set about answering them.
The truth is, however, that all men have a practical and irresistible belief both in the existence of matter, and in the accuracy of memory; and that no sceptical writer ever meant or expected to destroy this practical belief in other persons. All that they aimed at was to show their own ingenuity, and the narrow limits of the human understanding;— to point out a curious distinction between the evidence of immediate consciousness, and that of perception of memory,—and to show that there was a kind of logical or argumentative possibility, that the objects of the latter faculties might have no existence. There never was any danger of their persuading men to distrust their senses or their memory; nor can they be rationally suspected of such an intention. On the contrary, they necessarily took for granted the instinctive and indestructible belief for which they found it so difficult to account. Their whole reasonings consist of an attempt to explain that admitted fact, and to ascertain the grounds u pon which that belief depends. In the end, they agree with their adversaries that those grounds cannot be ascertained: and the only difference between them is, that the adversary maintains that they need no explanation ; while the sceptic insists that the want of it still leaves a possibility that the belief may be fallacious; and at any rate establishes a distinction, in decree, between the primary evidence of consciousness, which it is impossible to distrust without a contradiction, and the secondary evidence of perception and memory, which may be clearly conceived to be erroneous.
To this extent, we are clearly of opinion that the sceptics are right; and though the value of the discovery certainly is as small as possible, we are just as well satisfied that its
consequences are perfectly harmless. Their reasonings are about as ingenious and as innocent as some of those which have been employed to establish certain strange paradoxes as to the nature of motion, or the infinite divisibility of matter. The argument is perfectly logical and unanswerable ; and yet no man in his senses can practically admit the conclusion. Thus, it maybe strictly demonstrated, that the swiftest moving body can never overtake the slowest which is before it at the commencement of the motion; or, in the words of the original problem, that the swift-footed Achilles could never overtake a snail that had a few yards the start of him. The reasoning
T n which this valuable proposition is found, does not admit, we believe, of any direct confutation; and yet there are few, we suppose, who, upon the faith of it, would take a bet as to the result of such a race. The sceptical reasonings as to the mind lead to no other practical conclusion; and may be answered or acquiesced in with the same good nature.
Such, however, are the chief topics which Dr. Beattie has discussed in this Essay, with a vehemence of temper, and an impotence of reasoning, equally surprising and humiliating to the cause of philosophy. The subjects we have mentioned occupy the greater part of the work, and are indeed almost the only ones to which its title at all applies. Yet we think it must be already apparent, that there is nothing whatever in the doctrines he opposes, to call down his indignation, or to justify his abuse. That there are other doctrines in some of the books which he has aimed at confuting, which would justify the most zealous opposition of every friend to religion, we readily admit; but these have no necessary dependence on the general speculative scepticism to which we have now been alluding, and will be best refuted by those who lay all that general reasoning entirely out of consideration. Mr. Hume's theory of morals, which, when rightly understood, we conceive to be both salutary and true, certainly has no connection with his doctrine of ideas and impressions; and the great question of liberty and necessity, which Dr. Beattie has settled, by mistaking, throughout, the power of doing what we will, for the power of willing without motives, evidently depends upon considerations altogether apart from the nature and immutability of truth. It has always appeared to us, indeed, that too much importance has been attached to Theories of morals, and to speculations on the sources of approbation. Our feelings of approbation and disapprobation, and the moral distinctions which are raised upon them, are Facts which no theory can alter, although it may fail to explain. While these facts remain, they must regulate the conduct, and affect the happiness of mankind, whether they are well or ill accounted for by the theories of philosophers. It is the same nearly with regard to the controversy about cause and effect. It does not appear to us, however, that Mr. Hume ever meant to deny the existence of such a relation, or of the relative idea of power. He has merely
given a new theory ae to its genealogy or descent; and detected some very gross inaccuracies in the opinions and reasonings which were formerly prevalent on the subject.
If Dr. Deattie had been able to relute these doctrines, we cannot help thinking that he would have done it with more temper and moderation; and disdained to court popularity by so much fulsome cant about common sense, virtue, and religion, and his contempt and abhorrence for infidels, sophists, and metaphysicians; by such babyish interjections, as "fy on it! fy on it !"—such triumphant exclamations, as, "say, ye candid and intelli-; gent !"—or such terrific addresses, as, "ye traitors to human kind! ye murderers of the human soul !"—" vain hypocrites! perfidious profligates!" and a variety of other embellishments, as dignified as original in a philosophical and argumentative treatise. The trnth is, that the Essay acquired its popularity, partly from the indifference and dislike which has long prevailed in England, as to the metaphysical inquiries which were there made the subject of abuse; partly from the perpetual j appeal which it affects to make from philosophical subtlety to common sense; and partly from the accidental circumstances of the author. It was a great matter for the orthodox
scholars of the south, who knew little of met* physics themselves, to get a Scotch profe^-a of philosophy to take up the gauntlet in ihfir behalf. The contempt with which he chose to speak of his antagonists was the ven-t« which they wished to be adopted; and, tome of them, imposed on by the confidence o: h manner, and some resolved to gire it ill chances of imposing on others, they joined a one clamour of approbation, and proclaimed» triumph for a mere rash skirmisher, while the leader of the battle was still doubtful of the victory. The book, thus dandled into popolarity by bishops and good ladies, containnl many pieces of nursery eloquence, and mee i innocent pleasantry: it was not fatiguing te the understanding; and read less сеатПт. ол the whole, than most of the Sunday library In consequence of all these recommendation, it ran through various editions, and found ¡is way into most well-regulated families: a;"i. though made up of such stuff, as we realiy believe no grown man who had ever thonrii of the subject could possibly go thronch «Klont nausea and compassion, still retain* i'place among the meritorious performarii-t* by which youthful minds are to be piinficJ and invigorated. We shall hear no more oí .1, however, among those who have left coll«?
Philosophical Essays. By Ducald Stewart, Esq.. F. R. S. Edinburgh, Emeritus Professor oí Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, &c. &c. 4to. pp. 590. Edinburgh: 1810.
and to constitute, in this way, a signal eiample of that compensation, by which the »öd and evil in our lot is constantly equalised, и reduced at least to no very variable standard The progress of knowledge has given bmb. of late years, to so many arts and science?. lb¿¡ a man of liberal curiosity finds both eutficter.l occupation for his time, and sufficient exercise to his understanding, in acquiring a supertir.ai knowledge of such as are most in»itins »rJ most popular; and, consequently, has much less leisure, and less inducement than formerly. to dedicate himself to those abstract stndies which call for more patient and регеетепгщ attention. In older times, a man had nolhinfor it, but either to be absolutely ignorant arc; idle, or to take seriously to theology and the school logic. When things grew a little better, the classics and mathematics filled up ihe measure of general education and priraie study; and, in the most splendid periods of English philosophy, had received little addition, but from these investigations into отг intellectual and moral nature. Some few ¡мdividnals might attend to other things; bol a knowledge of these was all that was recuired of men of good education; and was held accomplishment enough to entitle them to the rank of scholars and philosophers. No«'-adays, however, the necessary qualification и prodigiously raised,—at least in denomu»
The studies to which Mr. Stewart has devoted himself, have lately fallen out of favour with the English public ; and the nation which once placed the name of Locke immediately under those of Shakespeare and of Newton, and has since repaid the metaphysical labours of Berkeley and of Hume with such just celebrity, seems now to be almost without zeal or curiosity as to the progress of the Philosophy of Mind.
The causes of this distaste it would be curious, and probably not uninstnictive, to investigate: but the inquiry would be laborious, and perhaps not very satisfactory. It is easy, indeed, to say, that the age has become frivolous and impatient of labour; and has abandoned this, along with all othergood learning, and every pursuit that requires concentration of thought, and does not lead to immediate distinction. This is satire, and not reasoning; and, were it even a fair statement of the fact, such a revolution in the intellectual habits and character of a nation, is itself a phenomenon to be accounted for,—and not to be accounted for upon light or shallow considerations. To us, the phenomenon, in so far as we are inclined to admit its existence, has always appeared to arise from the great multiplication of the branches of liberal study, and from the more extensive diffusion of knowledge among the body of the people,—
lion; and a man can scarcely pass current in tke informed circles of society, without knowing something of political economy, chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and etymology,—having a small notion of painting, sculpture, and architecture, with some sort of taste for the picturesque.—and a smattering of German and Spanish literature, and even some idea of Indian, Sanscrit, ana Chinese learning and history.—over and above some little knowledge of trade and agriculture; with a reasonable acquaintance with what ie called the philosophy of politics, and a far more extensive knowledge of existing parties, factions, and eminent individuals, both literary and political, at home and abroad, than ever were required in any earlier period of society. The dissipation of time and of attention occasioned by these multifarious occupations, is, of course, very unfavourable to the pursuit of any abstract or continued study; and even if a man could, for himself, be content to remain ignorant of many things, in order to obtain a profound knowledge of a few, it would be difficult for him, in the present state of the world, to resist the impulse and the seductions that assail him from without. Various and superficial knowledge is now not only so common, that the want of it is felt as a disgrace; but the facilities of acquiring it are so great, that it is scarcely possible to defend ourselves against its intrusion. So many easy and pleasant elementary books,—such tempting summaries, abstracts, and tables,—such beautiful engravings, and ingenious charts, and coups-d'cril of information,—so many museums, exhibitions, and collections, meet us at every corner,—and so much amusing and provoking talk in every party, that a taste for miscellaneous and imperfect information ie lorraed, almost before we are aware; and our urne and curiosity irrevocably devoted to a fort of Encyclopedical trifling.
In the mean time, the misfortune is, that there a no popular nor royal road to the profounder and more abstract truths of philosophy; arid that these are apt, accordingly, to ¡all into discredit or neglect, at a period when it is labour enough for most men to keep themselves up to the level of that great tide of popular information, which has been rising, with such unexampled rapidity, for the last forty years.
Such, we think, are the most general and uncontrollable causes which have recently depressed all the sciences requiring deep thought and solitary application, far below the level of their actual importance; and produced the singular appearance of a partial falling off in intellectual enterprise and vigour, in an аде distinguished, perhaps, above all others, for the rapid development of the human faculties. The effect we had formerly occasion to observe, when treating of the singular decay of Mathematical science in England; and so powerful and extensive is the operation of the cause, that, even in the intellectual city which we inhabit, we have known instances of persons of good capacity who bad never found leisure to go beyond me first
elements of mathematical learning; and were even suspected of having fallen into several heresies in metaphysics, merely from want of time to get regularly at the truth!
If the philosophy of mind has really suffered more, from this universal hurry, than all her sister sciences of the same serious complexion, we should be inclined to ascribe this misfortune, partly to the very excellence of what has been already achieved by her votaries, and partly to the very severe treatment which their predecessors have received at theirhande. Almost all the great practical maxims of this mistress of human life, such as the use of the principle of Association in education, and the generation and consequences of Habits in all periods of life, have been lately illustrated in the most popular and satisfactory manner; and rendered so clear and familiar, as rules of practical utility, that few persons think it necessary to examine into the details of that fine philosophy by which they may have been first suggested, or brought into notice. There is nothing that strikes one as very important to be known upon these subjects, which may not now be established in a more vulgar and empirical manner,—or which requires, in order to be understood, that the whole process of a scientific investigation should be gone over. By most persons, therefore, the labour of such an investigation will be declined; and the practical benefits applied— with ungrateful indifference to the sources from which they were derived. Of those, again, whom curiosity might still tempt to look a little closer upon this great field of wonders, no small part are dismayed at the scene of ruin which it exhibits. The destine tion of ancient errors, has hitherto constituted so very large a part of the task of modern philosophers, that they may be said to have been employed rather in throwing down, than in building up, and have as yet established very little but the fallacy of all former philosophy. Now, they who had been accustomed to admire that ancient philosophy, can not be supposed to be much delighted with its demolition; and, at all events, are naturally discouraged from again attaching themselves to a system, which they may soon have the mortification of seeing subverted in its turn. In their minds, therefore, the opening of such a course of study is apt only to breed a general distrust of philosophy, and to rivet a conviction of its extreme and irremediable uncertainty: while those who had previously been indifferent to the systems of error, are displeased with the labour of a needless refutation; and disappointed to find, that, after a long course of inquiry, they are brought back to that very state of ignorance from which they had expected it would relieve them.
If anything could counteract the effect of these and some other causes, and revive ir. England that taste for abstract speculation for which it was once so distinguished, we should have expected this to be accomplished by the publications of the author before us.—The great celebrity of his name, and the uniform clearness, simplicity, and good sense of his statements, might indeed have failed to attract those whom similar merits could no longer tempt to look into the pages of Locke or of Berkeley. But the singular eloquence with which Mr. Stewart has contrived to adorn the most unpromising parts of his subject,—the rich lights which his imagination has every where thrown in, with such inimitable judgment and effect,—the warm glow of moral enthusiasm which he has spread over the whole of his composition,—and the tone of mildness, dignity, and animation which he has uniformly sustained, in controversy, as well as in instruction; are merits which we do not remember to have seen united in any other philosophical writer; and which might have recommended to general notice, topics far less engaging than those on which they were employed. His former work, on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, has accordingly been more read than any other modem book on such subjects; and the volume before us, we think, is calculated to be still more popular.*
But it is in the second part of the Preliminary Dissertation that we take the chief interest—as Mr. Stewart has there taken occasion to make a formal reply to some of our hasty speculations, and has done us the honour of embodying several of our transitory pages in this enduring volume. If we were at liberty to yield to the common weaknesses of authors, we should probably be tempted to defend ourselves in a long dissertation; but we know too well what is due to our readers and to the public, to think of engaging any considerable share of their attention with a controversy which may be considered in some measure as personal to ourselves; and therefore, however honourable we think it, to be thus singled out for equal combat by such an antagonist, we shall put what we have to say within the shortest possible compass.
The observations to which Mr. Stewart has here condescended to reply, occur in an early number of our publication, and were intended to show, that as mind was not the proper subject of Experiment, but of Observation, so, there could be no very close analogy between the rules of metaphysical investigation, and the most approved methods of inquiry as to those physical substances which are subject to our disposal and control ;—that as all the facts with regard to mind must be derived from previous and universal Consciousness, it was difficut to see how any arrangement of them could add to our substantial knowledge; and that there was, therefore, no reason either to expect Discoveries in this branch of science, or to look to it for any real augmentation of our Power.
With regard to Perception and the other primary functions of mind, it was observed, that this doctrine seemed to hold without any limitation; and as to the Associating princi
* A poriion of the original article, containing a general view of Ihe subject of these Essays, is here omitted, for the reasons stated at the head of this division.
pie. while it was admitted that the case wai somewhat different, it was observed, thai il! men were in reality aware of its eiutence, and acted upon it on all important occasions, though they might never have made its lavi a subject of reflection, nor ever stated itt general phenomena in the form of an abend proposition.
To all this Mr. Stewart proceeds to answer, by observing, that the distinction between eipériment and observation is really of no importance whatever, in reference to this argument; because the facts disclosed by expenmerit are merely phenomena that are observed, and the inferences and generalisations '.hi: are deduced from the observation of ipattaneous phenomena, are just of the same ЮП with those that are inferred from exp?riir.f.r.:. and afford equally certain grounds of conclusion, provided they be sufficiently пшасгсг« and consistent. The justice of the las! proposition, we do not mean to dispute; and assuredly, if any thing inconsistent with i: -< to be found in our former speculations, it IeÜ-i have arisen from that haste and inadverie.-.ce which, we make no doubt, have often beNoed us into still greater errors. But it is тяу far from following from this, that there Un: a material difference between experiments observation; or that the philosophy of m¡:.¿ in not necessarily restrained within very ri:row limits, in consequence of that distinct? :.. Substances which are in our power, are tie objects of experiment; those which are Dm in our power, of observation only. \\ ;th regard to the former, it is obvious, that, byweficontrived experiments, we maydi.«covprn:ait things that could never be disclosed by a:,: length of observation. With regard to 'ii latter, an attentive observer may, indeed. Kt more in them than strikes the eye of a ran • less spectator: But he can see nothii:? tb: may not be seen by every body ; and, ш cut' where the appearances are very lew. or very interesting, the chance is, that he dvti ** nothing more—and that all that is left to ftlosophy is, to distinguish them into claw-«and to fit them with appropriate appellat.or.? Now, Mind, we humbly conceive, consult*: as a subject of investigation, is the sub)«! <••'• observation only ; and is known nearly a*«f; by all men. as by those who have mo*i £.•• gently studied its phenomena. '-We rann-: decompose our sensations." we formerly ciserved, "in a crucible, nor divide our perre> lions with a prism." The metaphor va.« son? thing violent; but, the meaning obr;oi.-v was, that we cannot subject those facu!;r? to any analogous processes ; nor discover ir.f'f of their nature than consciousness hasucuh: all the beings who possess them. Ь i! a satisfactory answer, then, for Mr. Stewart, to say. that we may analyse them by rrliecwj and attention, and other instruments bei:-r suited than prisms or crucibles to the inKlectual laboratory which furnishes their materials? Our reply is, that vc cannot ancli-н them at all : and can never know more ot thf rn than has always been known to all to whom they had been imparted; and that, for tk» p.ain reason, that the truth uf every thing that is <iaid with regard to the mind, can be determined by an appeal to consciousness alone, and would not be even intelligible, if it informed men of any thing that they did not previously feel to be true.
With rejjard to the actual experiments to which Mr. Stewart alludes, as having helped 1ч explain the means by which the eye judges of distances and magnitudes, these, we must observe, are, according to our conception, very clearly experiments, not upon mind, but upon matter; and are only entitled to that name at all, m во far as they are carried on by means of the power we possess of disposing certain pieces of matter in certain masses and intervals. Slrictly considered, they are optical experiments on the effects produced by distance on the light reflected from known bodies; and are nearly akin to experiments on the effects produced on such reflected rays by the interposition of media of different refracting powers, whether in the shape of prisms, or in any other shape. At all events. they certainly are not investigations carried on solely by attending to the subjects of our Consciousness; which is Mr. Stewart's own definition of the business of the philosophy of mind.
In answer to our remark, that "no metaphysician expects, by analysis, to discover a new power, or to excite a new sensation in the mi nd, as the chemist discovers a ne w earth or a new metal," Mr. Stewart is pleased to observe—
•' That it is no more applicable to the anatomy of the mind, than to the anatomy of the body. After all the researches of physiologists on this last subject, both in the way of observation and of experiment, no discovery has yet been made of a new orsan, either of power or of pleasure, or even of the means of adding a cubit to the human stature; but it does not therefore follow that these researches »re useless. By enlarging his knowledge of his own internal structure, they increase the power of •n, in that way in which alone they profess to increase it. They furnish him with resources for remedying many of the accidents to which his health and his life are liable; for recovering, in some ones, those active powers which disease has destroyed or impaired ; and, in others, by giving siaht 'ч ihe blind, and hearing to the deaf, for awakening P"«'ers of perception which were dormant before. Nor must we overlook what they have contributed, in conjunction with the arts of the optician and оГ lh« mechanist, to extend the sphere of those senses, »ni to prolong their duration."—Prelim. Dili. pp. xlvi, xlvii.
Now, ingenious and elegant as this parallel must be admitted to be, we cannot help recarding it as utterly fallacious—for this simple reason—that the business of anatomy is to lay open, with the knife, the secrets of that internal structure, which could never otherwise be apiiarent to the keenest eye; while the metaphysical inquirer can disclose nothing of which all his pupils are not previously aware. There is no opaque skin, in short, on Ihe mind, to conceal its interior mechanism; nor does the metaphysician, when he appeals In the consciousness of all thinking beings for the truth of his classifications, perform any thing at all analogous to the dissector,
when he removes those onter integuments, and reveals the wonders of the inward organisation of our frame. His statements do not receive their proof from the previous, though perhaps undigested knowledge of his hearers, but from the actual revelation which he makes to their senses; and his services would evidently be more akin to those of the metaphysician, if, instead of actually disclosing what was not previously known, or suspected to exist, he had only drawn the attention of an incurious generation to the fact that they had each ten fingere and ten toes, or that most of them had thirty-two teeth, distinguishable into masticators and incisors.
When, from these, and some other considerations, we had ventured to infer, that the knowledge derived from mere observation could scarcely make any addition to our power, Mr. Stewart refers triumphantly to the instance of astronomy; and, taking it almost for granted, that all the discoveries in that science have been made by observation alone, directs the attention of his readers to the innumerable applications which may be made of it, to purposes of unquestioned utility.
"in compensation," he observes, "for the inability of the nstronomer to control those movements of which he studies the laws, he may boast, as I already hinted, uf the immense accession of a more useful power which his discoveries have added to the human race, on the surface of their own planet. It would be endless to enumérale all the practical uses to which his labours are subservient. It is sufficient for me to repeat an old, but very striking reflection, that the only accurate knowledge which Man yet possesses of the surface of the earth, has been derived from the previous knowledge he had acquired of the phenomena of the stars. Is it possible to produce a more apposite, or a more undeniable proof of the universality of Bacon's maxim, that 'knowledge it paver,' than a fact which demonstrates the essential aid which man has derived, in asserting his dominion over this lower world, from a branch of science which seems, at first view, fitted only to gratify a speculative curiosity; and which, in ils infancy, served to amuse the leisure of the Chaldean shepherd?"—Prelim. Dise. pp. xxxviii, xxxix.
To this we have to answer, in the first place, that astronomical science has not been perfected by observation alone; but that all the elements which have imparted to it the certainty, the simplicity, and the sublimity which it actually possesses, have been derived from experiments made upon substances in the power of their contrivers ;—from experimente performed with small pieces of matter, on the laws of projectile motion—the velocities of falling bodies—and on centrifugal and centripetal forces. The knowledge of those laws, like all other valuable knowledge, was obtained by experiment only; and their application to the movements of the heavenly jodies was one of those splendid eeneralisa;ions. which derive their chief merit from hose inherent imperfections of observation by which they were rendered necessary.
But, in the second place, we must observe, hat even holding astronomy to be a f^cienoo of mere observation, the power which Mr. Stewart says we have obtained by means of t, is confessedly a power, not over the sub •