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Newmarket. But, thefe cogent objections notwithstanding, I venture to pronounce fuch fludies to be not altogether unfuitable to a gentleman. Man is a creature full of curiofity; and to gratify that appetite, many roam through the world, fubmitting to heat and cold, nay to hunger and thirft, without a figh. Could indeed that troublesome guest be expelled, we might bug ourselves in ignorance; and, like true men of the world, undervalue knowledge, that can neither procure money, nor a new fenfual pleafure. But, alas! the expulfion is not in the power of every one; and those who have not that power, will probably think it not amifs, to employ their curiofity upon ftudies that make them good members of fociety, and endear them to every person of virtue.
And were we even men of the world in fuch perfection, as to regard nothing but our own intereft; yet does not ignorance lay us open to the crafty and defigning? and does not the art of reasoning guard many an honest man from being mifled by fubtle fophifms? With respect to right and wrong, not even paffion is more dangerous than error. And as to religion, better it were to fettle in a conviction that there is no God, than to be in a state of wavering and fluctuation; fometimes indulging every loofe defire, as if we were not accountable beings; and fometimes yielding to fuperftitious fears, as if there were no god but the devil. To a well-difpofed mind, the existence of a fupreme benevolent Deity, appears highly probable: and if happily the ftudy of theology lead us to a conviction that there really is fuch a being; the conviction will be a fource of conftant enjoyment, which I boldly fet above the titillating pleasures of external fenfe. Poffibly there may be less prefent amufement in abstract ftudies, than in news-papers, in party-pamphlets, or in Hoyl upon Whift: but let us for a moment anticipate futurity, and imagine that we are reviewing paft tranfactions, how pleasant the retrofpect of thofe who have maintained the dignity of their nature, and employ'd their talents to the best purposes!
Contradictory opinions that have influence on practice, will be regretted by every perfon of a found heart; and as erroneous opinions are com
monly the refult of imperfect education, I would gladly hope, that a remedy is not altogether out of reach. At the rivival of arts and Sciences, the learned languages were our fole ftudy, becaufe in them were locked up all the treasures of useful knowledge. This study has long ago ceafed to be the chief object of education; and yet the original plan is handed down to us with very little variation. Wishing to contribute to a more perfect fyftem of education, I prefent to the public the following fketches. The books that have been published upon morality, theology, and the art of reasoning, are not eminent either for fimplicity, or for clear ideas. To introduce thefe into the fubjects mentioned, is my aim; with what fuccefs, is chearfully fubmitted to the judgement of others. The hiftorical part, hitherto much neglected, is necessary as a branch of my general plan; and I am hopeful, that befide inftruction, it will contribute to recreation, which, in abstract studies, is no less neceffary than pleasant.
Principles and Progrefs of REASON.
PRINCIPLES OF REASON.
Every affirmation, whatever be the subject, is termed a pro
Truth and error are qualities of propofitions. A propofition that fays a thing is what it is in reality, is termed a true propofition. A propofition that fays a thing is what it is not in reality, is termed an erroneous propofition.
Our knowledge of what is agreeable and disagreeable in objects is derived from the sense of beauty, handled in Elements of Criticism. Our knowledge of right and wrong in actions, is derived from the moral fenfe, to be handled in the sketch immediately following. Our knowledge of truth and error is derived from various fources.
Our external fenfes are one fource of knowledge: they lay open to us external fubjects, their qualities, their actions, with events produced by these actions. The internal senses are another source of knowledge: they lay open to us things paffing in the mind;
thinking, for example, deliberating, inclining, refolving, willing, confenting, and other actions; and they also lay open to us our emotions and paffions. There is a fenfe by which we perceive the truth of many propofitions; fuch as, That every thing which begins to exift, must have a caufe; That every effect adapted to fome end or purpofe, proceeds from a defigning caufe; and, That every effect adapted to a good end or purpose, proceeds from a designing and benevolent cause. A multitude of axioms in every science, particularly in mathematics, are perceived to be equally true. By a peculiar fenfe, of which afterward, we know that there us a Deity. By another fense we know, that the external figns of paffion are the fame in all men ; that animals of the fame external appearance, are of the fame species; and that animals of the same species, have the fame properties (a). By another sense we fee into futurity: we know that the fun will rife to-morrow; that the earth will perform its wonted courfe round the fun; that winter and fummer will follow each other in fucceffion; that a stone dropt from the hand will fall to the ground; and a thousand other fuch propofitions.
There are many propofitions, the truth of which is not fo apparent: a process of reafoning is neceffary, of which afterward.
Human testimony is another fource of knowledge. So framed are we by nature, as to rely on human teftimony; by which we are informed of beings, attributes, and events, that never came under any of our fenfes.
The knowledge that is derived from the fources mentioned, is of different kinds. In fome cafes, our knowledge includes abfolute certainty, and produces the highest degree of conviction: in other cafes, probability comes in place of certainty, and the conviction is inferior in degree. Knowledge of the latter kind is diftinguished
(a) Book 1. sketch 1.
into belief, which concerns facts; and opinion, which concerns relations, and other things that fall not under the denomination of facts. In contradistinction to opinion and belief, that fort of knowledge which includes abfolute certainty, and produces the highest degree of conviction, retains its proper name. To explain what is here faid, I enter into particulars.
The fenfe of seeing, with very few exceptions, affords knowledge in its proper fenfe. It is not in our power to doubt of the existence of a perfon we fee, touch, and converse with; and when fuch is our conftitution, it is a vain attempt to call in queftion the authority of our fenfe of feeing, as fome writers pretend to do. No one ever called in question the existence of internal actions and paffions, laid open to us by internal fenfe; and there is as little ground for doubting of what we fee. The fenfe of feeing, it is true, is not always correct: through different mediums the fame object is feen differently: to a jaundic'd eye every thing appears yellow; and to one intoxicated with liquor, two candles fometimes appear four. But we are never left without remedy in such a case: it is the province of the reasoning faculty, to correct every error of that kind.
An object of fight, when recalled to mind by the power of memory, is termed an idea or fecondary perception. An original perception, as faid above, affords knowledge in its proper fenfe; but a fecondary perception affords belief only. And Nature in this, as in all other inftances, is faithful to truth; for it is evident, that we cannot be fo certain of the existence of an object in its abfence, as when prefent.
With refpect to many abstract propofitions, of which inftances are above given, we have an abfolute certainty and conviction of their truth, derived to us from various fenfes. We can, for ex ́ample, entertain as little doubt, that every thing which begins to exist, must have a caufe, as that the fun is in the firmament; and