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faculty, namely, the understanding or soul enlightened by that organ,―reason, I say, or the scientific faculty, is the intellection of the possibility or essential properties of things by means of the laws that constitute them. Thus the rational idea of a circle is that of a figure constituted by the circumvolution of a straight line with its one end fixed.
Every man must feel, that though he may not be exerting different faculties, he is, exerting his faculties in a different way, when in one instance he begins with some one self-evident truth, that the radii of a circle, for instance, are all equal,— and in consequence of this being true sees at once, without any actual experience, that some other thing must be true likewise, and that, this being true, some third thing must be equally true, and so on till he comes, we will say, to the properties of the lever, considered as the spoke of a circle; which is capable of having all its marvellous powers demonstrated even to a savage who had never seen a lever, and without supposing any other previous knowledge in his mind, but this one, that there is a conceivable figure, all possible lines from the middle to the circumference of which are of the same length or when, in another instance, he brings together the facts of experience, each of which has its own separate value, neither increased nor diminished by the truth of any other fact which may have preceded it; and making these several facts bear upon some particular project, and finding some in favor of it, and some against it, determines for or against the project, according as one or the other class of facts preponderate : as, for example, whether it would be better to plant a particular spot of ground with larch, or with Scotch fir, or with oak in preference to either. Surely every man will acknowledge, that his mind was very differently employed in the first case from what it was in the second; and all men have agreed to call the results of the first class the truths of science, such as not only are true, but which it is impossible to conceive otherwise: while the results of the second class are called facts, or things of experience and as to these latter we must often content ourselves with the greater probability, that they are so or so, rather than otherwise-nay, even when we have no doubt that they are so in the particular case, we never presume to assert that they must continue so always, and under all circumstances. On the contrary, our conclusions depend altogether on contingent circumstances.
Now when the mind is employed, as in the case first mentioned, I call it reasoning, or the use of the pure reason; but, in the second case, the understanding or prudence.
This reason applied to the motives of our conduct, and combined with the sense of our moral responsibility, is the conditional cause of conscience, which is a spiritual sense or testifying state of the coincidence or discordance of the free will with the reason. But as the reasoning consists wholly in a man's power of seeing, whether any two conceptions which happen to be in his mind, are, or are not in contradiction to each other, it follows of necessity, not only that all men have reason, but that every man has it in the same degree. For reasoning, or reason, in this its secondary sense, does not consist in the conceptions themselves or in their clearness, but simply, when they are in the mind, in seeing whether they contradict each other.or no.
And again, as in the determinations of conscience the only knowledge required is that of my own intention-whether in doing such a thing, instead of leaving it undone, I did what I should think right if any other person had done it; it follows that in the mere question of guilt or innocence, all men have not only reason equally, but likewise all the materials on which the reason, considered as conscience, is to work. But when we pass out of ourselves, and speak, not exclusively of the agent as meaning well or ill, but of the action in its consequences, then of course experience is required, judgment in making use of it, and all those other qualities of the mind which are so differently dispensed to different persons, both by nature and education. And though the reason itself is the same in all men, yet the means of exercising it, and the materials, that is, the facts and conceptions on which it is exercised, being possessed in very different degrees by different persons, the practical result is, of course, equally differentand the whole ground-work of Rousseau's philosophy ends in a mere nothingism.-Even in that branch of knowledge, where the conceptions, on the congruity of which with each other, the reason is to decide, are all possessed alike by all men, namely in geometry;-for all men in their senses possess all the component images, namely simple curves and straight lines; yet the power of attention required for the perception of linked truths, even of such truths, is so very different in A and in B, that Sir Isaac Newton professed that it was in this power only that he was
superior to ordinary men. In short, the sophism is as gross as if I should say,—the souls of all men have the faculty of sight in an equal degree-forgetting to add, that this faculty can not be exercised without eyes, and that some men are blind and others short-sighted, and should then take advantage of this my omission to conclude against the use or necessity of spectacles, and microscopes,—or of choosing the sharpest-sighted men for our guides.
Having exposed this gross sophism, I must warn against an opposite error-namely, that if reason, as distinguished from prudence, consists merely in knowing that black can not be whiteor when a man has a clear conception of an inclosed figure, and another equally clear conception of a straight line, his reason teaches him that these two conceptions are incompatible in the same object, that is, that two straight lines can not include a space- the reason must therefore be a very insignificant faculty. For a moment's steady self-reflection will show us, that in the simple determination 'black is not white'--or, 'that two straight lines can not include a space'-all the powers are inplied, that distinguish man from animals;-first, the power of reflection-2d, of comparison-3d, and therefore of suspension of the mind-4th, therefore of a controlling will, and the power of acting from notions, instead of mere images exciting appetites; from motives, and not from mere dark instincts. Was it an insignificant thing to weigh the planets, to determine all their courses, and prophesy every possible relation of the heavens a thousand years hence? Yet all this mighty chain of science is nothing but a linking together of truths of the same kind, as, the whole is greater than its part ;-or, if A and B C, then A: or 3+ 4 7, therefore 7+5 = 12, and so forth. X is to be found either in A or B, or C or D: it is not found in A, B, or C; therefore it is to be found in D. What can be simpler? Apply this to a brute animal. A dog misses his master where four roads meet;—he has come up one, smells to two of the others, and then with his head aloft darts forward to the fourth road without any examination. If this were done by a conclusion, the dog would have reason ;-how comes it then, that he never shows it in his ordinary habits? Why does this story excite either wonder or incredulity?—If the story be a fact, and not a fiction, I should say--the breeze brought his master's scent down
the fourth road to the dog's nose, and that therefore he did not put it down to the road, as in the two former instances. So aw
ful and almost miraculous does the simple act of concluding, that 'take three from four, there remains one,' appear to us, when attributed to one of the most sagacious of all brute animals.