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Art. I.-Philosophical Essays; to which are subjoined, Copious
Notes, Crilii al and Explanatory, and a Supplementary Narrative; with an ilppendix. By James Ogilvie. Philadelphia.
1816. 8vo. pp. 413. ESSAY II.-On the Nature, Extent, and Limits of Human
♡ Knowledge, so far as it is founded on the Relation of Cause and Effect, and concerns Mind and Matter.—As it was also a part of Locke's design to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge,'* Mr. Ogilvie very naturally begins his inquiries by examining that philosopher's account of the sources from which is derived whatever we know of the intellectual, and of the material world. He seems not to be aware, however, that the most important part of his criticism was rendered superfluous by the labours of the later metaphysical writers; and that sensation and consciousness,-instead of sensation and reflection,-are now universally considered as the two appropriate words to express those feelings which we experience, by corporal impression, in the one case, and by intellectual energy, in the other. But the author before us goes further;—and in his eagerness to show the imprecision of Locke in drawing this single line of demarkation, he has himself overrun and trampled under foot almost all the other nice boundaries of philosophical language which have been pointed out-—not only by that metaphysician,—but by the most acute and discriminating of his successors. When he has once established the claims of consciousness to a part in the origination of our ideas, he is for assigning to it an office, which, in our opinion, is much beyond its capabilities,—the office, namely, of furnishing us with the knowledge, not only of all intellectual phenomena, but of whatever takes place in the material world. Now to us it is perfectly apparent, in the first place, that mere consciousness-or mere sensation--could never advance us
* Introduction to the Essay on Human Understanding. $ 2. VOL. IX.
very far in the philosophy either of mind, or s matter. There must be something besides the passive experience of those feelings which physical and intellectual ph nomena are respectively calculated to produce. We may be sensible of outward impressions, and conscious of internal energies, without attempting to deduce a single conclusion respecting the peculiar subjects about which the mind is employed;-and it has accordingly been remarked by a countryman of Mr. Ogilvie's, that observation in the former case, and reflection in the latter, are the two analagous media through which we carry on our investigations into the phenomena of the material, and of the intellectual universe. * While we acknowledge the inaccuracy of Locke, therefore, in considering reflection as an original source of human knowledge, we must contend, on the other hand, that it has still a very important secondary function in prosecuting the philosophy of the mind. Our author himself seems, in one place, to admit about half of this proposition; but the admission is rendered nugatory by his defining reflection to be a concentration of consciousness,'-a definition which we consider as either altogether incomprehensible,—or as conveying a signification which at once destroys the boundaries of scientific phraseology.
But, in the second place, Mr. Ogilvie contrives to make consciousness supersede the office-not only of reflection,—but of sensation also. Whenever the subject is introduced he almost invariably speaks of our consciousness of impressions from external matter; and indeed he makes it one of his formal principia, that our language and of course our ideas, as they regard the philosophy of the human mind, will be more precise, if we consider whatever is known or knowable (an awkward term, which our author uses a great deal too often) as proceeding from our consciousness, first, of impressions from external objects, and secondly, of the internal energies called into action by these impressions.'-To us it does most certainly appear, that there is very little precision' in all this:-—and we confess we are somewhat at a loss to conceive how Mr. Ogilvie should think he contributed to the clearness of philosophical language, by confounding the terms, which mark the separation between the two great inlets of human knowledge. In the looseness of colloquial speech, it is true, we make use of the
* Stewart's Philosophical Essays, p. 66, Philadelphia edition. See, on the same subject, Reid's First Essay on the Intellectual Powers, chap. v. • Reflection (says the latter philosopher) ought to be distinguished from consciousness, with which it is too often confounded, even by Mr. Locke. All men are conscious of the operations of their own minds, at all times, while they are awake; but there are few who reflect upon them, or make them objects of thought,' &c.