belief is quietly passed over as incompetent to distinguish notself from self; in the question regarding our personal identity, where its testimony is convenient, it is clamorously cited as an inspired witness, exclusively competent to distinguish self from not-self. Yet, why, if, in the one case, it mistook self for not-self, it may not, in the other, mistake not-self for self, would appear a problem not of the easiest solution.

The same belief, with the same inconsistency, is again called in to prove the INDIVIDUALITY OF MIND. (Lect. xcvi.) But if we are fallaciously determined, in perception, to believe what is supposed indivisible, identical, and one, to be plural and different and incompatible, (self = self + not-self); how, on the authority of the same treacherous conviction, dare we maintain, that the phænomenal unity of consciousness affords a guarantee of the real simplicity of the thinking principle ? The materialist may now contend, without fear of contradiction, that self is only an illusive phænomenon ; that our consecutive identity is that of the Delphic ship, and our present unity merely that of a system of co-ordinate activities. To explain the phænomenon, he has only to suppose, as certain theorists have lately done, an organ to tell the lie of our personality; and to quote as authority for the lie itself, the perfidy of consciousness on which the theory of a representative perception is founded.

On the hypothesis of a representative perception, there is, in fact, no salvation from materialism, on the one side, short of idealism-scepticism-nihilism, on the other. Our knowledge of mind and matter, as substances, is merely relative; they are known to us only in their qualities; and we can justify the postulation of two different substances, exclusively on the supposition of the incompatibility of the double series of phænomena to coinhere in one. Is this supposition disproved ?—the pre-. sumption against dualism is again decisive. “Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity;“A plurality of principles is not to be assumed where the phænomena can be explained by one.In Brown's theory of perception, he abolishes the incompatibility of the two series ; and yet his argument, as a dualist, for an immaterial principle of thought, proceeds on the ground, that this incompatibility subsists. (Lect. xcvi. pp. 646, 647.) This philosopher denies us an immediate knowledge of aught beyond the accidents of mind. The accidents which we refer to body, as known to us, are only states or modifications of the


percipient subject itself; in other words, the qualities we call material, are known by us to exist, only as they are known by us to inhere in the same substance as the qualities we denominate mental. There is an apparent antithesis, but a real identity. On this doctrine, the hypothesis of a double principle losing its necessity, becomes philosophically absurd; and on the law of parcimony, a psychological unitarianism, at best, is established. To the argument, that the qualities of the object are so repugnant to the qualities of the subject of perception, that they cannot be supposed the accidents of the same substance; the unitarian

-whether materialist, idealist, or absolutist—has only to reply: that so far from the attributes of the object being exclusive of the attributes of the subject, in this act; the hypothetical dualist himself establishes, as the fundamental axiom of his philosophy of mind, that the object known is universally identical with the subject knowing. The materialist may now derive the subject from the object; the idealist derive the object from the subject; the absolutist sublimate both into indifference; nay, the nihilist subvert the substantial reality of either:—the hypothetical realist, so far from being able to resist the conclusion of any, in fact accords their assumptive premises to all.

The same contradiction would, in like manner, invalidate every presumption in favour of our LIBERTY OF WILL. But as Brown throughout his scheme of Ethics advances no argument in support of this condition of our moral being, which his philosophy otherwise tends to render impossible, we shall say nothing of this consequence of hypothetical realism.

So much for the system, which its author fondly imagines, allows to the sceptic no resting-place for his foot, -no fulcrum for the instrument he uses :” so much for the doctrine which Brown would substitute for Reid's ;—nay, which he even supposes Reid himself to have maintained.


[In this criticism I have spoken only of Dr Brown's mistakes, and of these, only with reference to his attack on Reid. On his appropriating to himself the observations of others, and in particular those of Destutt Tracy, I have said nothing, though an enumeration of these would be necessary to place Brown upon þis proper level. That, however, would require a separate discussion.)



(OCTOBER, 1832.)

A Manual of the History of Philosophy; translated from the

German of TENNEMANN. By the Rev. ARTHUR JOHNSON, M.A., late Fellow of Wadham College. 8vo. Oxford : 1832.

We took up this translation with a certain favourable prepossession, and felt inclined to have said all we conscientiously could in its behalf: but alas ! never were expectations more completely disappointed; and we find ourselves constrained exclusively to condemn, where we should gladly have been permitted only to applaud.

We were disposed to regard an English version of Tenne. mann's minor History of Philosophy—his “Grundriss,” as a work of no inconsiderable utility—if competently executed; but in the present state of philosophical learning in this country we were well aware, that few were adequate to the task, and of those few we hardly expected that any one would be found so disinterested, as to devote himself to a labour, of which the credit stood almost in an inverse proportion to the trouble. Few works, indeed, would prove more difficult to a translator. A complete mastery of the two languages, in a philological sense, was not enough. There was required a comprehensive acquaintance with philosophy in general, and, in particular, an intimate knowledge of the philosophy of Kant. Terinemann was a Kantian; he estimates all opinions by a Kantian standard; and the language which he employs is significant only as available the presumption in favour of the original facts of consciousness,—that what is by nature necessarily BELIEVED to be, truly is. Aristotle, in whose philosophy this presumption obtained the authority of a principle, thus enounces the argument: -“What appears to all, that we affirm to be; and he who rejects this belief, will, assuredly, advance nothing better worthy of credit.” (Eth. Nic. L. x. c. 2.) As this argument rests entirely on a presumption; the fundamental condition of its validity is, that this presumption be not disproved. The presumption in favour of the veracity of consciousness, as we have already shown, is redargued by the repugnance of the facts themselves, of which consciousness is the complement; as the truth of all can only be vindicated on the truth of each. The argument from common sense, therefore postulates, and founds on the assumption—THAT OUR ORIGINAL BELIEFS BE NOT PROVED SELF-CONTRADICTORY.

The harmony of our primary convictions being supposed, and not redargued, the argument from common sense is decisive against every deductive inference not in unison with them. For as every conclusion is involved in its premises, and as these again must ultimately be resolved into some original belief; the conclusion, if inconsistent with the primary phænomena of consciousness, must, ex hypothesi, be inconsistent with its premises, i.e. be logically false. On this ground, our convictions at first hand peremptorily derogate from our convictions at second. “If we know and believe,” says Aristotle, “through certain original principles, we must know and believe these with paramount certainty, for the very reason that we know and believe all else through them;" and he elsewhere observes, that our approbation is often rather to be accorded to what is revealed by nature as actual, than to what can be demonstrated by philosophy as possible:-Προσέχειν ου δεί πάντα τους δια των λόγων, , αλλά πολλάκις μάλλον τους φαινομένοις. *

Novimus certissima scientia, et clamante conscientia," (to apply the language of St Augustin, in our acceptation,) is thus a proposition either absolutely true or absolutely false. The argument from common sense, if not omnipotent, is powerless : and in the hands of a philosopher by whom its postulate cannot be allowed,

* Jacobi (Werke, II. Vorr. p. 11, sq.) following Fries, places Aristotle at the head of that absurd majority of philosophers, who attempt to demonstrate every thing. This would not have been more sublimely false, had it been said of the German Plato himself. [Dissertations on Reid, p. 771.)

its employment, if not suicidal, is absurd. — This condition of non-contradiction is unexpressed by Reid. It might seem to him too evidently included in the very conception of the argument to require enouncement. Brown has proved that he was wrong. Yet Reid could hardly have anticipated that his whole philosophy, in relation to the argument of common sense, and that argument itself, were so to be mistaken as to be actually interpreted by contraries.— These principles established, we proceed to their application.

Brown's error, in regard to Reid's doctrine of perception, involves the other, touching the relation of that doctrine to Hume's sceptical idealism. On the supposition that Reid views in the immediate object of perception a mental modification, and not a material quality, Brown is fully warranted in asserting that he left the foundations of idealism precisely as he found them. Let it once be granted that the object known in perception is not convertible with the reality existing; idealism reposes in equal security on the hypothesis of a representative perception,– whether the representative image be a modification of consciousness itself,—or whether it have an existence independent either of mind or of the act of thought. The former, indeed, as the simpler basis, would be the more secure; and, in point of fact, the egoistical idealism of Fichte, resting on the third form of representation, is less exposed to criticism than the theological idealism of Berkeley, which reposes on the first. Did Brown not mistake Reid's doctrine, Reid was certainly absurd in thinking a refutation of idealism to be involved in his refutation of the common theory of perception. So far from blaming Brown, on this supposition, for denying to Reid the single merit which that philosopher thought peculiarly his own, we only reproach him for leaving, to Reid and to himself, any possible mode of resisting the idealist at all. It was a monstrous error to reverse Reid's doctrine of perception; but a greater still not to see that this reversal stultifies the argument from common sense; and that so far from “ proceeding on safe groundin an appeal to our original beliefs, Reid would have employed, as Brown has actually done, a weapon harmless to the sceptic, but mortal to himself.

The belief, says Brown, in the existence of an external world is irresistible, therefore it is true. On his doctrine of perception, which he attributes also to Reid, this inference is, however, incompetent, because on that doctrine he cannot fulfil the condition

« ForrigeFortsett »