« PreviousContinue »
existence, that is of any consequence to us, or to any perceiving mind." “Sensible evidence, then, is original, is direct, is perfectly satisfactory; as it admits of no preceding proof, so neither does it admit of subsequent contradiction. But is there not sometimes deception in sensible perception?
*[To a friend I am indebted for the opportunity of gratifying some readers by the introduction of three Letters, which among many others he received from the late amiable, ingenious, learned, philosophical, and scientific Capel Lofft, Esq. :
[.. “Ipswich, June 25, 1816. I have laboured hard this morning in walking for the definition of a noun * will this A noun is a word expressive of any subject of thought under the consideration of 1. being, 2. idea, 3. quality, or 4.
relation. A noun adjective, or adnoun, expresses quality or
relation, with reference to some being or idea in particular.
sub-stax raw e.
a dx ective. Omniscient, Omnipotent, In
God ............... finitely good
1. Being. Dog............... Intelligent, Faithful
2. Idea. s Chimaera ......... l Fabulous
\Griffin ------------ s
Figure............ Round, Triangular, Square Sweetness ...... Saccharine, Honied, Musical, - Poetical 3. Quality. Virtue............ Moral Vice...............
Visible, Intellectual, Moral
Do not the representations of our senses often impose upon and mislead us? Never: — the reports of sense are always the same — always the same in the same circumstances; and the senses would really deceive us, were their representations the same in different circumstances. There are two cases only, in which there is this appearance of deception. The first is, when the same object is perceived through a different external medium, or in any other difference of external circumstances. Take a familiar instance. A stick, that appears to be strait both to the eye and the touch, when plunged in part into cold water, will appear to be bent. Draw your hand along it,
substanti w E. Ald J. Ecrive.
4. Relati Space --------- Circumscribed, Infinite • Relation. - Time ......... Past, Present, Future, Long, Short Eternity ...... J
You will see that space and time, in my nomenclature, fall under the head of relations. If this be right, matter is necessarily no more ; and mind is properly the sole being, the rest being idea, phaenomena, or sensible effects, or the relations of these. I know not why the tangible idea of body should be considered more real than the visible colour, or the audible sound. Now that space and time should be beings, things, or substances, is to me as inconceivable as that mere extension should be so. Space is an extended order of simultaneous ideas ; time, an extended order of succession; and I cannot think that either has more than a relative existence, deduced from the modes and phaenomena of the existence and energies of mind. You will pardon me for adding the adjectives, which serve to exemplify my distinction of the abstract nature of those substantives, which signify idea, quality, or relation, from adjectives, which signify it in the particular or concrete. For the reason already given place does not fall under my idea of the category of the genera of substantives; it being included under relation, as being the relation of space to body.”
II. “ Woodbridge, May 25, 1813. I really never read Dialogues so perfectly Socratic, or rather Platonic, as those of the great and amiable Berkeley on the Principles of Human Knowledge. I wonder that it did not strike him that motion,
though as to inanimate objects an idea, is as to sentient, an energy of mind and volition. The ancient philosophy of the Stoics, which conversed of mind as 8%uapus airTokuvmtuki), kai či is travra kuvetrat, appears to me to be solid and profound. All movement, all action, all energy, is assuredly referable to mind as its sole principle and source. Mind, the év 3 kal opew kai kuvoúple6a kai éauèv of the Apostle, seems to me to be perfectly consonant to the system of pure idealism. I admit external objects, without which created minds would probably be incapable of all discipline, all improvement, all idea of analogy between cause and effect. But I believe that external objects are solely permanent and general phaenomena, the result of mind regulated by laws of divine wisdom; — that sensation cannot result from that which is insensible, – nor thought with percipiency be a quality of impercipient substance;— that mind cannot originate from matter, nor matter, as being essentially inert, act upon mind, which is essentially active 3 — that the system of pure materialism is demonstrably false; — the complex hypothesis of mind and matter uselessly and gratuitously complex and contradictory;and consequently the simple system of mind true and certain, and alone adequate to all phaenomena and all principles. I have long thought that matter is the Indian elephant, which supports the universe; which elephant has another chimerical support, the forlorn, immoveable space: to support that, Nods, "I6éa, Applovia, Tô IIāv, is my motto." III. “ Sept. 22, 1813. I have been turning my thoughts and it will feel to the touch as strait. Take it from the water—it appears again strait to the eye. Here the appearance of deception by one sense is at once corrected by another; but even this correction is not wanted. For by the laws of vision, the crookedness of the stick in the water is a true representation of the fact; and were it to
very niuch on our metaphysical conversations. Your extraordinary line— “There never was a time, when time was not,’
at first seems useless and a mere identical proposition, that when time was, it was. But I think it will be found to involve very material considerations. I like your idea that a fluent line, to use your own expression, if measured by computation, is time — the idea of immeasurable space is equal to infinity of co-existent extension — the idea of immeasurable succession is equal to eternity. The original solar year, and the original lunar, seem to have been probably coincident: each being of 360 days divided into 12 months of 30 days each. This would readily give 30 days to a sign, and 30 x 2 for a degree. And hence, I apprehend, our sexagesimal division of the circle into its minor parts, which on the whole is one of the most advantageous we could have taken. Would the quater-centenary, or the sex-centenary be preferable It is no small advantage that, estimating the diurnal progression, we have even now a degree o', for each day: so that we may thus for common purposes reckon how many degrees from such a point, having but one degree to deduct for 70 days. I believe you and I shall not doubt, independently of the reasons from the connection and analogy of the two motions, that the rotatory and circumpolar or helioperiodic motions of the earth synchronized in their outset. And I think there can be no question that, suppose an earth with its axis either perpendicular to its equalor, or in the plane appear strait, the representation would be false. The deception is here said to be corrected by the judgment. But this is not the precise fact. It is corrected either by another sense, or, more properly, by a knowledge of those laws, which govern the representation of sense. A second case, in which there is an appearance of deception,
of the equator, and without rotatory or periodic motion, the only idea of measured time, that the inhabitants of such an earth would have, must be from the lunarrevolutions. If this had been the case, a very ill-manageable portion of time to our present faculties would have been our minimum of measure ; a lunar phase, and the 12 lunar revolutions, at the distance, and in the time supposed, would have constituted our year, which would have only 48 marked intervals in the whole of it. The diurnal motion without a rotatory would have at once suggested a portion of time nearly equal to our present day, and the portion taken for the apparent advance of the sun over one degree out of 360. Butwithout the striking phaenomenon of equal motion, and uniform periodic phaenomena to the same point, (for all which purpose the brightness and distinctness of the points, which form the celestial horology, and the evenness of the movements, the clearness, variety, concurrence, and separation of the intervals have such great advantages,) we could have had no idea of time; months and years would have been nothing to us; a day, or even an hour, would only have been a vague portion of indefinite, indeterminable duration – of eternity, according to your just and acute distinction, which seems to me to lead to such just and sublime consequences. Now, when we already are aware of such periods as the cometary of 75, and of 575 years, the equinoctial of 25,920, to say nothing of minor cycles, this chronometric opposition connected with our little planet, will not be believed to exist for nothing. And Dr. Herschel seems already to have detected cyclical or ellip