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being. And thus a foundation is laid for numberless conclusions, having a relation to whatever has happened in time past. It is true, that the verbal proposition, by which our belief in this case is expressed, is not always, nor even generally brought forward and stated in our reasonings on the past, but it is always implied.
This primary truth is an exceedingly important one. By its aid the human mind retains a control over the
that are gone, and subordinates them to its own purposes. It is susceptible in particular of a moral and religious application. Let this great principle be given us, and we are able to track the succession of sequences upward, advancing from one step to another, until we find all things meeting together in one self-existent and unchangeable head and fountain of being. But there it stops. The principle will not apply to God, since He differs from everything else, which is the object of thought, in being an existence equally without change and without beginning.
§. 12. Matter and mind have uniform and fixed laws. It is necessary to assume also, particularly in connection with the reasoning power, that matter and mind have uniform and permanent laws.
This assumption, as well as the preceding, is accordant with the common belief of mankind. All men believe, that the setting sun will arise again at the appointed hour, that the decaying plants of autumn will revive in spring, that the tides of ocean will continue to heave as in times past, and the streams and rivers to flow in their courses. If they doubted, they would not live and act as they are now seen to do.
This belief in the uniforinity and permanency of the laws of nature does not arise at once; but has its birth at first in some particular instance ; then in others, till it becomes of universal application. In the first instance the feeling in question, which we express in various ways by the terms, anticipation, faith, expectation, belief, and the like, is weak and vacillating ; but it gradually acquires strength and distinctness. And yet this feeling, so important in its application, is the pure work of nature ; it is not taught men, in the strict sense of that term, but is produced within them; the necessary and infallible product and growth of our mental be
ing; a sort of inalienable gift of the Almighty to every man, woman, and child ; arising in the soul with as much certainty and as little mystery as the notions, expressed by the words, power, duration, right, wrong, truth, or other elementary states of the mind. It is true, it is an expectation or belief, directed to a particular object, and, therefore, is not easily susceptible of being expressed by a single term, as in the case of the ideas just referred to; but the circumstance of its being expressed by a circumlocution does not render the feeling itself less distinct or real than others.-As, therefore, the strong faith, which men entertain in the continuance of the laws of creation, is the natural and decisive offspring of that mental constitution, which God has given us, there is good ground for assuming the truth of that, to which this faith relates, and to regard it as a principle in future inquiries, that inatter and mind are governed by uniform laws.
§. 13. This primary truth not founded on reasoning. But perhaps it is objected, that we can arrive at the great truth under consideration without assuming it as something ultimate, as something resulting from our constitution ; and that nothing more is wanting in order to arrive at it, than a train of reasoning.-The sun, it is said, rose to-day, therefore, he will rise to-morrow : Food nourished me to day, therefore, it will do the same to-morrow : The fire burnt me once, therefore, it will again.
But it demands no uncommon sagacity to perceive, that something is here wanting, and that a link in the chain of thought must be supplied, in order to make it cohere. The mere naked fact that the sun rose to day, without any thing else being connected with it, affords not the least ground for the inference that it will rise again ; and the same may be said of all similar instances. Now the link, which is wanting in order to bind together the beginning and the end in such arguments as have been referred to, is the precise assumption, which has been made, and which is held to be as reasonable as it is necessary, because it is founded on an acknowledged, universal, and elementary feeling of our nature. And we may here affirm with perfect confidence, that, without making this assumption, the power of reasoning cannot deduce a single general inference, cannot arrive at so much as one general conclusion either in matter or mind, which has relation to the future.
But the moment we make the assumption, a vast foundation of knowledge is laid. Grant us this, (to which we are fully entitled by virtue of that elementary belief, which the Author of our being has uniformly called forth in the human mind in his appointed way,) that nature is uniform in her laws; then give us the fact, that food nourished us to-day, or that the sun rose to-day, or any other fact of the kind, and it follows with readiness and certainty, that what has once been will be again. So that we must regard the principle of the permanency and uniformity of the laws of nature as something antecedent to reasoning and not subsequent to it; a principle authorized and sustained by an ultimate, and not by any secondary action of the mind.
IMMATERIALITY OF THE MIND.
§. 14. On the meaning of the terms, material and immaterial.
ANOTHER of those topics, which may be deemed introductory and auxiliary to the main subject, is the question of the materiality or immateriality of the soul. In entering upon this inquiry, which is obviously too important to be altogether dispensed with, it will be necessary, in the first place, to explain the meaning of the leading terms.—The words MATERIAL AND IMMATERIAL are relative; being founded on the observation of the presence, or of the absence of certain qualities. Why do we call a piece of wood, or of iron, material ? It is, because we notice in thein certain qualities, such as extension, divisibility, impenetrability, and color. And in whatever other bodies we observe the presence of these qualities, we there apply the term. The term IMMATERIAL, therefore, by the established use of the language and its own nature, it being in its etymology the opposite of the other, can be applied only in those cases, where these qualities are not found.
Hence we assert the mind to be immaterial, because in all our knowledge of it we have noticed an utter absence, (or perhaps more properly have always failed to detect the presence,) of those qualities, which are acknowledged to be the ground of the application of the opposite epithet. The soul undoubtedly has its qualities or properties ; but not those, which have been spoken of. Whatever we have been conscious of and have observed within us, our thought, our feeling, remembrance, and passion, are evidently and utterly diverse from what is understood to be included under the term materiality.
Such is the origin of these two terms, and the ground of the distinction between them. And thus explained they can hardly fail to be understood. We may, therefore, now proceed to state the evidence of the actual existence of that distinction between mind and matter, which is obviously implied in every application of them. In other words we are to attempt to show, that the soul is not matter, and that thought and feeling are not the result of material organization.
§. 15. Difference between mind and matter shown from language. Is it a fact, that the being or existence, called the soul, is distinct and different from that existence, which we call MATTER?— It is not unusual in writings on the philosophy of the mind to refer to the structure of languages in order to illustrate our mental nature ; and in respect to the question now before us, we are warranted in saying, in the first place, that Language in general is one proof of such a distinction. In the preceding section, we have seen the use of certain terms in our own language, and the grounds of it. All other languages, as well as our own, have names and epithets, distinctly expressive of the two existences in question. This circumstance, when we consider, that the dialects of men are only their thoughts and feelings embodied as it were, may be regarded as a decisive proof that the great body of mankind believe in both, and of course believe in a well founded distinction between them.
That such is the belief of men generally, as clearly evinced by the structure of languages and in various other ways, will not probably be denied. It is a matter too evident to permit us to anticipate a denial. When, therefore, we take into view that there are grounds of belief fixed deeply and originally in our constitution, and that, in their general operation they must be expected to lead to truth, and not to error, we are unable to harbor the supposition, that men are deceived and led astray in this opinion ; that they so generally and almost universally believe in the existence of what in point of fact does not exist.
§. 16. Their different nature shown by their respective properties. Again, the distinction between mind and matter is shown by the difference in the qualities and properties, which men agree in ascribing to them respectively.—The properties of matter are extension, hardness, figure, solidity, divisibility, and the like. The attributes of mind are thought, feeling, volition, reasoning, the passions. The phenomena, exhibited by matter and mind, are not only different in their own nature, but are addressed to different parts of our constitution. We obtain a knowledge of material properties, so far as it is direct and immediate, by means of the senses; but all our direct knowledge of the nature of the mental phenomena is acquired by consciousness.
Everyone knows, that the phenomena in question are not identical. There is no saineness or similitude, for instance, in what we express by the terms hardness and desire, solidity and hatred, divisibility and belief, extension and imagination. But let us look more at particulars. All matter is divisible. The smallest particle has its top and bottom, its right and left side, and is susceptible of measurement. But what does consciousness testify in regard to the mental phenomena? Does it give us the least intimation, that they are mechanically divisible? Is any man ever conscious of a half, quarter, or third of a hope, joy, or sorrow actually cut asunder and set off from the remaining half, two thirds, or three quarters of such hope, joy, or sorrow? It is not only true, that no one has had such experience; but no one ever conceives such experience possible. And as to extension, are we ever conscious of a thought, feeling, or voli