« ForrigeFortsett »
were built, though they might still sentient being? If it is like none of continue to stare and to reject his our preceptions, then it is plain we reasoning, all who comprehended have not the slightest acquaintance him agreed that there were, at least, with it. No man ever was able to no symptoms of derangement. The give any other account of the matrath is, Berkley's train of reasoning terial world, than that above given. is so ingenious, and his eloquence It is then composed entirely of so fascinating, and the arguments mental perceptions; and if the which he presses in support of his mind were destroyed, must not its opinions so plausible, that it is diffi- perceptions perish with it? The excult, for a moment, not to be sub- perimental text to which the Berkdued. Dr. Reid, his great antago- leians refer, is dreaming; wheo the nist, acknowledges that he, at one inind (they say) perceives objects time, had embraced the whole of exactly similar to those which it his theory. And Mr. Stewart, a no perceives when awake, though noless zealous nor less powerful oppo- body ever thought of ascribing to nent, says (if we mistake not), in the former an independent exist. another work, that a man can hardly ence. be a philosopher who has noi, at The reply to this theory is as fol. some period of his life, doubted of lows. What we know of the exthe existence of matter.
ternal world, is undoubtedly known Mr. Stewart begins his essay on through the medium of the senses ; the Idealism of Berkley, with de- but it is not true that nothing can claring that it is not bis intention be known to us by the senses ex. to enter at all into the argument cept our sensations; for the fact is, with respect to the truth of this and the concurrent feelings of all tbevry. To this resolution he has
men agree respecting it, that by not very scrupulously adhered. The some law of our nature unknown to essay before us, contains some very us*, the impressions made upon
the acute and original observations, senses are accompanied with an inwbich the author thinks nearly, or stinctive knowledge of external quite, conclusive against the Bi- things, and an indestructible belief shop's opinion. We have not room of their existence independently of to enter into a formal analysis of us. The experimental test to which these objections, and shall content Dr. Reid and Mr. Stewart princiourselves with expressing, as con- pally refer, is the idea we bave of cisely and fairly as we can, the space; which involves (they say) substance of Berkley's theory, and an irresistible conviction, not only of what has been said in reply to it, that its existence is external, but
The argument against the exist that it is everlasting and necessary; ence of material things may be thus so that, though there is no absurdity stated. The whole world around us
in supposing all material bodies to is composed of visible and tangible objects *; that is, of things per- The following passage is extracted from ceived by the mind through the me- the works of D'Alembert; it is translated dium of ihe senses; that is, of men- by Mr. Stewart, « The truth is that as no tal perceptions. Is there any thing relation whatever can be discovered between more than this? If there be, let us
a sensation in the mind, and the object by know it. What is it like? If like which it is occasioned, or at least to which these perceptions, it must be a per
we refer it, it does not appear possible to ception also ; for what can resemble trace, by dint of reasoning, ang practicable an impression upon a sentient being, but a species of instinct more sure in its ope
passage from the one to the other. Nothing but some other impression on a ration than reason itself, could so forcibly
* Tastes, sounds, and odours, are so ma- transport us across the gulph by which mind nifestly impressions on the mind, that they seems to be separated from the material are not worth noticing,
be destroyed by the power of the fered on the latter writer, must be undera Creator, the annihilation of space is stood with great limitations. For althougla inconceivable.
his fundamnrntal principles lead necessarily to Such are the respective theories
Berkley's conclusion, and although he has
frequently drawn from them this conclusion of Bishop Berkley and Dr. Reid.
hinuself, yet ou other occasions he relapses It is proper however, to add, that into the language of doubt, and ouls speaks neither the speculations of Berkley of the existence of a material worit, as a nor of Reid ought to be regarded thing of which we have not satisfactory evias affecting the certainty of our dence. The truth is, that whereas Berkley knowledge. Our ideas are exactly was sincerely and bona fide an idealist, the same, our senses and faculties Hume's leuding object in his metaphysical remain unchanged, upon the suppo- writiugs plainly was to inculcale an universition of either theory being true.
sal scepticism. In this respect, the real Nor ought the question respecting scope of his arguments has, i think, been the independent existence of a ma
misunderstood by most, if not all, of his opterial world, if rightly stated, in any to have supposed to exalt reasoning in pre
ponents. It evidently was not, as they seen manner to influence our practical ference to our instinctive principles of beconduct; for a material world is lief; but, by illustrating the contradictory nothing to us except as it is perceiv- conclusions to which our different facullies ed or felt, and our perceptions and lead, to involve the whole subject in the feelings are a plain matier of fact, same suspicious darkness. In other words, which no speculations can alter. his aim was, not to interrogate nature with This leads us to notice a pretty ge
a view to the discovery of truth, but, by a neral mistake respecting Berkley's cross examination of nature, to involve her opinions, for which Mr. Hume' is in such contradictions as might set aside the principally responsible, and which whole of her evidence as good for nothing. Mr. Stewart, with equal justice and
“ With respect to Berkley, on the other .candour, endeavdurs to remove. We hand, it appears from his writings, not only cannot explain ir better than by his that he considered bis sriieine of idealism as
resting on demonstrative proof, but is more
agreeable to the coinmon apprehensions of “ It is well known, to all who have the mankind, than the prevailing theories of slightest acquaintance with the history of philosophers, concerning the independent philosophy, that, among the various topics on existence of the material world." which the ancient sceptics cxercised their Nothing can be more complete ingenuity, the question concerning the ex- than this vindication of Berkley istence of the material world was always a from the ordinary charge of sceptifavourite subject of disputation, Some Joubts on the same point occur even in the have been accustomed to admire
cism. We hope, 100, that those who writiogs of philosophers whose general learning seems to have been to the opposite ex
Mr. Hume's genius and acuteness, treme of dogmatism. Plato himself has will learn to receive his opinions on given them soine countenance, by hinting it moral and religious subjects with as a thing not quite impossible, that human some hesitation, when they see what life is a continued sleep, and that all our are the sentiments entertained of his thoughts are only dreams. This scepticism metaphysical writings, by so high proceeds on principles totally different from an authority as Mr. Stewart.
We the doctrine of Berkley ; who asserts, with do not exact of every philosophical the most dogmatical confidence, that the ex- writer, that he should depreciate Mr. istence of matter is impossible, and that the Hume ; but we certainly think it very supposition of it is absurd,"....". The existence of bodies out of a mind perceiving
indicates great manliness and inte. them (he tells us), explicitly, is not only grity of understanding in Mr. Stewa impossible, and a contradiction in terms; art, to have exposed with so much but were it possible, and even real, it were courage, and with so much truth, impossible we should ever know it."" the pernicious aims of his cele.
« With respect to Mr. Hume, who is ge- brated countryman. We can fornerally considered as an advocate for Berkley's system, the remarks which have ofa
Essay II. chap. i.
give a Scotchman for admiring Mr. authority of Fontenelle, whose mind Hume : what then must be our feel. was probably prepared for its recepings towards one who can condemn tion by some similar discussions in bim?
the works of Gassendi. Ai a later Mr. Stewart has vindicated Berk- period, it acquired much addicional ley in the above extract, with celebrity from the vague and exag. great success, against a misconcep- gerated encomiuins of Voltaire ; and tion which tras pretty generally pre. it has since been assumed, as the vailed; but we thiok he has himself common basis of their respective given some countenance to another. conclusions, concerning the history He appears to consider the meta- of the human understanding, by physical opinions of that writer, as Condillac, Turgot, Helvetius, Dibuilt upon Mr. Locke's theory of derot, D'Alembert, Condorcet, Deideas, and consequently as standing strult, Tracy, De Gerando, and or falling with it. Berkley, how many other writers of the highest ever, would, we are persuaded, have reputation, at complete variance strenuously denied both the fact and with each other in the general spithe inference, He adopted the rit of their philosophical systems. language then in use among meta- “ But although all these ingenious physicians, for the sake of reason- men have laid hold eagerly of this ing with them; and was content to common principle of reasoning, and consider ideas as images, that he have vied with each other in extolmight shew, from the tenets avowed ling Locke for the sagacity which he by Mr. Locke's scholars, that the has displayed in unfolding it, hardly conclusions of their master were er- two of them can be named, who neous. But the truth or inaccuracy have understood it exactly in the of Berkley's opinions does not at all same sense ; and perhaps not one rest on the particular meaning affix. who has understood it precisely in ed to the word idea; his arguments the sense annexed to it by the auremaining precisely of the same What is still more remarkvalue whether we retain that word, able, the praise of Locke has been ar substitute, as he frequently does, loudest from those who seem to have the words sensation, notion, or iin- taken the least pains 10 ascertain pression, in the roon of it.
the import of his conclusions.” pp. Besides the schools of Locke, 101-103. Berkley, and Reid, there is one What Mr. Stewart considers, ia other, and only one, of British the above extract, as a remarkable growth; the school of materialism; circumstance, admits, we believe, to which Mr. Stewart has devoted a of an explanation sufficiently simple separate essay. But before we give and satisfactory. The French phian account of this, it is necessary to losophers, who, during the latter part stop for a moment at his third essay, of the eighteenth century, exerted respecting the philosophical systems themselves to enlighten their own which prevailed in France during countrymen and the world on the the latter part of the eighteenth subject of religion, had some favoucentury.
rite topics of speculation. Among “ The account given by Locke," these, none appears to have been says Mr. Stewart, “ of the origin thought more generally agreeable, of our ideas, which furnished the than the question of the mortality of chief subject of one of the foregoing the soul; or rather, of man, what." essays, has for many years past been ever materials compose him. Con. adopted implicitly, and almost universally, as a fundamental and un- cle ont fait gloire de se ranger au nombre,
Tous les philosophies François de ce sié. questionable truth, by the philoso- des disciples de Loeke, et d'admettre ses phers of France. It was early principes. --De Gerando de la Generation sanctioned in that country by the des Connoissances. Humaines. p. 81.
dorcet informs us, that the great to notice. Perhaps they thought Voltaire, though he believed in a it unworthy of so great a man: First Cause, notwithstanding the perhaps it was a mere oversight; difficulties attending that doctrine, not much for a foreigner. Be (could more than this be in reason that as it may, the fact is indisexpected from any man!) did not putable; and our readers may possibelieve in any existence after death. bly think it tends to explain the reNow the sage Locke (as they loved to markable circumstance mentioned call him) had discovered something by Mr. Stewart, that, among the that seemed to be very important in ingenious” inen whom he names, this respect. Helvelius's account "the praise of Locke has been loudof his theory is; “ that every thing est from those who seem to have in man resolves ultimately into sen- taken the least pains to ascertain sation, or the operation of feeling *.” the import of his conclusions." Condorcet says, “ Locke proved by Had the doctrine of the material. his analysis, that all our ideas are ists been earlier established in this compounded of sensations t;" and island, it is probable the writers Diderot, who professed a perfect above alluded to would have preallegiance to the same master, ob- ferred it to the opinions of Mr. serves, Every idea must necessa- Locke; as it certainly falls in more rily, when brought to its state of naturally with the great moral and ultimate decomposition, resolve itself religious points which they labourinto a sensible representation, or ed to establish. Of this school Dr. picture; and, hence,” he adds, "an Hartley was the founder; and his important rule in philosophy, that principal disciples, whom, together every expression which cannot find with their master, Mr Stewart hapan external and a sensible object to pily terms "alchemists in the sciwhich it can thus establish its affi- ence of the mind,” have been Dr. nity, is destitute of signification 1.” Priestley, Dr. Darwin, Mr. Belsham, The manifest result, then, from and Mr. Horne Tooke. Locke's discoveries, must be, that Of the theories of these writers man is a mere bundle of percep- we would gladly give an account, tions; and who ever dreamed of having really every disposition to attributing to perceptions more than treat them handsomely; but after a dependant and momentary exist- making some efforts to render a deence?
tailed exposition of their doctrines To be sure, it cannot well be intelligible, we have been compeldenied, that the great men above- led to give up the undertaking as mentioned are chargeable with a hopeless. The sum, however, of trifling oversight in their statement their creed appears to be, that the of this matter. The sage Locke (as medullary substance of the brain is our English readers may perhaps of such a nature, that objects strikrecollect), in addition to what he ing upon it through the senses, exsays respecting ideas of sensation, cite iherein little undulatory mospeaks of another class, which he tions or vibrations, which of course calls ideas of reflection, and which communicate rapidly to the right he represents us as acquiring by and left: a prodigious number and contemplating the operations of a variety of undulations follow; and certain living, sentient, active, and so the whole of the brain being set & immalerial thing, called mind. This shaking, all sorts of ideas, simple part of his work, the French philo- and complex, including those which sophers by some accident, omitted Locke calls ideas of reflection, and, • De l'Esprit, Disc. IV. Ap. Stewart.
as it should seen, all the faculties of + Outlines of Historic View, &c. English the understanding also, are gradually translation. p. 108. Ap. Stewart.
shaken out. Chauvres do Diderot. Turn. VI. & p.Stewart.
The difficulties which attend this
theory are only ewo. First, that (who never embarrassed himself nobody ever yet knew any thing with little difficulties), and declared, about these marvellous undulations in the very outset of his work, that of the brain, or is able even to "the word idea, which has various prove their existence. Secondly, meanings in metaphysical writers, that all the undulations in the world may be defined to be a contraction, can never produce an idea; a vibra- or motion, or configuration, of the tion having exactly as niuch con- fibres which constiute the immenection with an intellectual pheno- diate organ of sense.” So that, acmenon, as gravitation, cohesion, recording to this writer, the idea pulsion, or any thing else imaginable. which a man has of his father, is a
The history of the progress of contraction of one of his own fibres; materialism is curious. Hartley, and that which he possesses of the who first introduced the theory of universe, is a configuration of anvibrations, saw plainly enough whi- other. In an Addendum to the ther it led. But he was afraid of Zoonomia, the same learned author his own conclusions. After observe compares “ the universal prepossesing, that “ his theory must be al- sion, that ideas are immaterial belowed to overtorn all the arguments ings, to the stories of ghosts and which are usually brought for the apparitions, which have so long immateriality of ihe soul, from the amused the credulous, without any subtlety of ihe internal senses, and foundation in nature.” of the rational faculty ;" he ac- Mr. Horne Tooke's title to be knowledges candidly bis own con- considered as a materialist, is rather viction, ihat “matter and motion, more questionable than that of Dr. however subtilly divided or reasoned Darwin, or any of his predecessors; upon, yield nothing but matter and but he is so loudly claimed by the motion still;" and therefore re. followers of that sect, and his serquests “that he may not be in any vices are considered as so great, that way interpreted, so as to oppose the it would be a sort of cruelty to ata immateriality of the soul*.” Dr. tempt to rob them of an authority Priestley, Hartley's great apostle, they prize so highly. His labours, appears, like his master, to have in their cause, have been entirely been a little timid. At one period philological ; but they are not, on of his life, he was the advocate of that account, valued the less by his what he calls “ the immateriality of metaphysical allies, and seem to be matter, or rather, the mutual pene- considered as a beautiful instance of tration of matter;" a doctrine which the lights which sister sciences may he expounds in an inimitably origi- throw upon one common truth. The pal and un intelligible passage, which leading principle of Mr. Tooke's is extracted from his “ History of work is, that the true meaning of Discoveries relating to Vision," by words is to be sought in their roots, Mr. Stewart. At another period of and that men talk at randoin, or, as his life, be inclined to the mate- he expresses it, “gabble like things riality of mind. But the only opi- most brutish,” when they use terms nion, in which he uniformly perse. in any other than that which may vered, was, that “man does not be shewn to be their proper historic consist of two principles, so essen- sense. Now it so happens (and tially different from one another as from the nature of things it could matier and spirit; but that the whole not happen otherwise), that the basis man is of some uniform composi- of a language is principally to be riunt.” At last came Dr. Darwin found in words expressing sensible
* Hartley's Observations, pp. 511, 512. objects; for these obviously were Ap. Stewart.
the first, the most necessary, and + Preface to Disquisitiosis, p. 7. Ap. most intelligible ideas; and when, Stewart.
afterwards, it was requisite 10-speak