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Reason, Philosophy, Virtue, and Morals. In the annals of HUMAN REASON, which we have very accurately inspected, though that faculty has been so often represented as the boasted distinction of our species, nothing has ever been exhibited to us in a more obscure and cloudy medium. Notwithstanding the learning and ingenuity, the time and the talents, which have been devoted to this discussion, it is a fact, that it remains to this hour almost as undefined and equivocal a thing, as it was in the days of the Stagyrite ; who is thought to have possessed an acuteness of penetration and argument, which no subtllty can exceed. He seems to have looked down indeed, in all the pride of fancied superiority, upon the rational endowments of his great predecessors, Socrates and Plato. And yet, are we not, even now, with all the advantages accruing from many intervenient centuries, as much in the dark, as to the inherent properties of human Reason, and the extent of its unassisted energies, as if the subject had

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never been agitated ? A very lively Philosopher, by far too much read and admired, has been, for once, ingenuous enough to confess, that “this same Reason " is a very ridiculous thing, and borders

very much upon folly.” Even in natural pursuits, or physical inquiries, it is, as another Philosopher, of less brilliancy, but greater sagacity, has expressed it, “ Ratio mersa et confusa.” And if, in these inferior matters, it be so weak and incompetent, can it be less so, in objects infinitely more sublime? The impartial history of human Reason would not reflect much honour upon human nature*.

* Reid's admirable essays on the intellectual powers of man are an incontestible proof of this. They impressed this idea very powerfully on my mind, as I once travelled through them with close attention. The philosophy of the human mind, as it has been called, is indeed, next *to its moral depravity, one of the most humiliating scenes, ó that has ever been exhibited to the inquiring part of our

species. I have compared it, in some solitary hour of amusement, to a grave harlequin, with his coat of many colours, playing tricks upon our mental faculties. Thus, some of the philosophers undertake to prove, that there is no such thing as matter ; others, that there is no such

Little, however, as it seems to have been generally understood, or satisfactorily defined—that there is such a faculty in man is universally admitted. But, so long as the subject is agitated in a way of metaphysical investigation, it is to be feared, that it will remain in its present state of obscurity: not but what one thing is sufficiently clear, and of no triling importance, that Reason, as a faculty, is indeed the Cause, but, in no sense, the Rule, of

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thing as spirit in man; some, that there is no First intelligent Cause at all ; others, that we see every thing in God; some talk of “the taleology of nature;” others, of “the cosmological contest into which reason falls with itself !” If all this be not transcendental and chaotic nonsense, what is? It is really astonishing, how the rational intellect can ever be even diverted with such prostitution of time and talents. There is something like wisdom in the writer, who, perfectly competent for the purpose, has had so much moral magnanimity, as to tell the world, that, “ PhiJosophers have hitherto been only imposing on themselves and others, by words without meaning.” One of their own tribe indeed has discovered, in this enlightened era, that men are only educated monkies !” and these may be some of their monkey pranks.

judgment; or, as the same idea has been better conveyed in another tongue, Quatenus Ratio facultatem notat, est CAƯS A efficiens proxima perceptionis et judicii; non Norma. To make the Faculty, by which we judge of truth and good, the Rule of judgment, has been the fruitful source of those countless absurdities, extravagancies, and contradictions, which have not only bewildered the human intellect, but inverted the whole order of things.

It is not therefore Reason, simply considered, that constitutes the high distinction of man, but; reason properly illuminated : which I suppose to be intended by

1 right reason. RECTA RATIO, si de facultate agatur, illa est, quæ sufficienti lumine

, instructa non aliter res concipit, aut de iis judicat, quam revera sunt; et opponitur corruptæ, vitiosæ, cæcæ, quæ frequenter conceptus et judicia format rebus dis


In the history of philosophic inquiries, so far, I mean, as they relate, not to physical objects and experiments, but to the supreme concerns of man, we are, if

pose sible, still more embarrassed and

perplexed. Those, who are the most celebrated for these disquisitions, are, in points the most interesting and material, the most dissonant: professing, in numerous instances, with an imposing effrontery, to remove our prejudices, to correct our errors, and to enrich our minds with a summary of truth and excellence; with a compendious view of the decorum,

a the venustum, and the honestum; what have they really done ? Have they rendered us, at this period, consummate Masters in the most important of all the sciences ? Alas ! have they not left us, if we are so weak as to listen to their oracles, wandering in the labyrinths of a miserable Scepticism * ? Amidst all this ostenta

* How can it bear any dispute, whether credulity or scepticism is the more shameful or more dangerous folly? Credulity may be an intellectual weakness, but scepticism

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