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these impulses of nature in which reason has no part. Far be it from me to speak with disrespect of any of the gifts of God; every work of his is good; but the best things, when abused, may become pernicious. Reason is a noble faculty, and, when kept within its proper fphere, and applied to useful purposes, proves a mean of exalting human creatures almost to the rank of superior beings. But this faculty has been much perverted, often to vile, and often to insignificant purposes; fometimes chained like a slave or malefactor, and sometimes soaring in forbidden and unknown regions. No wonder, then, if it hath been frequently made the instrument of seducing and bewildering mankind, and of rendering philosophy contemptible.
In the science of body, glorious discoveries have been made by a right use of reafon. When men are once satisfied to take things as they find them ; when they believe Nature upon her bare declaration, without suspecting her of any design to impofe upon them; when their utmost ambition is to be her servants and humble interpreters; then, and not till then, will
philosophy profper. : But of those who have applied theinselves to the science of Human Nature, it may truly be faid, (of many of them at least), that too much Teafoning hath made them mad. Nature speaks to us by our external, as well as by our internal, fenfes ; it is strange, that we should believe her in the one case, and nor in the other; it is most strange, that fuppofing her fallacious; we should think ourselves capable of detecting the cheat. Common Sense tells me, that the ground on which I stand is hard, material, and folid, and has a real, separate, independent existence. BERKELEY and HUME tell me,
that I am imposed upon in this matter :. for that the ground under my feet is really an idea in my mind; that its very essence consists in being perceived ; and that the same instant it ceases to be perceived, it must also cease to exist : in a word, that to be, and to be perceived, when precicated of the ground, the sun, the starry heavens, or any corporeal object, signify precisely the same thing. Now if my common sense be mistaken, who shall ascertain and correct the mistake ? Our reafon, it is said. Are then the inferences of reason in this instance clearer, and more
decisive, than the dictates of common sense? By no means : I still trust to my common sense as before, and I feel that I must do so. But supposing the inferences of the one faculty as clear and decisive, as the dictates of the other, yet who will afsure me, that
reason is less liable to mistake than my common sense ? And if reason be mistaken, what shall we say ? Is this mistake to be rectified by a second reasoning, as liable to mistake as the first ? In a word, we must deny the distinction between truth and falsehood, adopt universal scepticism, and wander without end from one maze of error and uncertainty to another; a state of mind so miferable, that Milton makes it one of the torments of the damned;—or else we must suppose, that one of these faculties is naturally of higher authority than the other ; and that either reason ought to submit to common sense, or common sense to reafon, whenever a variance happens between them. It has been said, that every inquiry in philosophy ought to begin with doubt; that nothing is to be taken for granted, and nothing believed, without proof. If this be admitted, it must also be admitted, that reason is the ultimate
judge of truth, to which common sense must continually act in subordination. But this I cannot admit; because I am able to prove the contrary by the most incontestable evidence. I am able to prove, that
except we believe many things without
proof, we never can believe any thing “ at all; for that all sound reasoning muft
ultimately rest on the principles of common sense, that is, on principles in
tuitively certain, or intuitively probable; " and, consequently, that common sense is
the ultimate judge of truth, to which “ reason must continually act in subordi“ nation.” — This I shall prove by a fair induction of particulars.
CH A P. II.
All reasoning terminates in first
principles. All evidence ultimately intuitive. Common Sense the Standard of Truth.
N this induction, we cannot propose to
comprehend every sort of evidence, and every mode of reasoning; but we shall
endeavour to investigate the origin of those kinds of evidence * which are the most important, and of the most exten
• That the induction here given is sufficiently comprehenfive, will appear from the following analysis.
All the objects of the human understanding have been reduced to two claffes, viz. Abstract Ideas, and Things really existing
Of bract Ideas, and their Relations, all our knowledge is certain, being founded on MATHEMATICAL EviDENCE (a); which comprehends, 1. Intuitive Evidence, and, 2. The Evidence of Itrict demonstration.
We judge of Things really exisiing, either, 1. from our own experience ; or, 2. from the experience of other men.
1. Judging of Real Existences from our own experience, we attain either Certainty or Probability. Our knowledge is certain when supported by the evidence, 1. Of SENSE EXTERNAL (b) and INTERNAL (c); 2. OF MEMORY (d); and, 3. Of LEGITIMATE INFERENCES OF THE CAUSE FROM THE EFFECT (e). -Our knowledge is probable, when, from faas already experienced, we argue, 1. to facts OF
KIND () not experienced ; and, 2. to facts OF A
KIND (8) not experienced. This knowledge, though called probable, often rises to moral certainty,
2. Judging of Real Existences from the experience of other men, we have the EVIDENCE OF THEIR TESTI. MONY (). The mode of understanding produced by that evidence is properly, called Faith; and this faith sometimes amounts to probable opinion, and sometimes rises even to absolute certainty.
(a) Se&tion 1. () Sect. 5,
(d) Sect. 4
(6) Sect. 2. () Scct. 6.
(1) Sect. 3. (8) Sect. 7.
(b) Sec. 8.