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science. Not that the reformation which has since taken place in the plan of philosophical inquiry is to be ascribed entirely to himn; for although he did more to forward it than any other individual, yet his genius and writings seem to have been powerfully influenced by the circumstances and character of the age in which he lived ; and there can be little doubt that he only accelerated an event which was already prepared by many concurrent causes.
SECT. U.—APPLICATION OF THE FOREGOING PRINCIPLES TO THE
PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN MIND,
10. The reformation in the plan of philosophical inquiry, which has taken place during the two last centuries, although not entirely confined to physics, has not extended in the same degree to the other branches of science; as sufficiently appears from the prevailing scepticism with respect to the principles of metaphysics and of moral philosophy. This scepticism can only be corrected, by applying to these subjects the method of induction,
11. As all our knowledge of the material world rests ultimately on facts ascertained by observation, so all our knowledge of the human mind rests ultimately on facts for which we have the evidence of our own consciousness. An attentive examination of such facts will lead in time to the general principles of the human constitution, and will gradually form a science of mind not inferior in certainty to the science of body. Of this species of investigation, the works of Dr. Reid furnish many valuable examples.
12. The objections which have been stated by some writers of the present age (Priestley) to the conclusions of those metaphysicians who have attempted to apply the method of induction to the science of mind, are perfectly similar to the charge which was at first brought against the Newtonian doctrine of gravitation, as heing a revival of the occult qualities of the Aristotelians. In all our inquiries, whether they relate to matter or to mind, the business of philosophy is confined to a
reference of particular facts to other facts more general; and? our most successful researches must always terminate in the discovery of some law of nature, of which no explanation can be given.
SECT. III.—CAUSES OF THE SLOW PROGRESS OF HUMAN KNOW
LEDGE; MORE PARTICULARLY OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN MIND, AND OF THE SCIENCES IMMEDIATELY CONNECTED WITH IT.1
13. Some of the chief of these may be referred to the following heads.
(1.) The imperfections of language, both as an instrument of thought and a medium of communication. [Credunt homines rationem suam verbis imperare: sed fit etiam ut verba vim suam super intellectum retorqueant.-Nov. Org. lix.]1st edit.
(2.) Mistakes about the proper object of philosophy, and the method of prosecuting philosophical inquiries.
(3.) A disposition to grasp at general principles, without submitting to the previous study of particular facts.
(4.) Difficulty of ascertaining facts, particularly in the sciences immediately connected with the philosophy of the human mind.
(5.) The great part of life which is spent in making useless literary acquisitions.
(6.) Prejudices arising from a reverence for great names, and from the influence of local institutions.
1 ["Neque quis nos vanitatis arguat, antequam exitum rei audiat, quæ ad exuendam omnem vanitatem spectat. Si homines, per tanta annorum spatia viam veram inveniendi et colendi scientias tenuissent, nec tamen ulterius progredi potuissent, audax procul dubio et temeraria foret opinio, posse rem in ulterius provehi. Quod si in via ipsa crratum sit, atque hominum opera in iis consumpta in quibus minime oportebat,
sequitur ex eo, non in rebus ipsis difficultatem oriri, quæ potestatis nostra non sunt; sed in intellectu humano, ejusque usu et applicatione ; quæ res remedium et medicinam suscepit. Itaque optimum fuerit illos ipsos errores proponere; quot enim fuerint errorum impedimenta in præterito, tot sunt spei argumenta in futurum.”—Bacon.]1st edit.
? [See Spectator, No. 521.]- 21 elit.
(7.) A predilection for singular or paradoxical opinions. (8.) A disposition to unlimited scepticism.
["De nobis ipsis silemus ; de re autem quæ agitur petimus, ut homines eam non opinionem, sed opus esse cogitent, ac pro certo habeant, non sectæ nos alicujus aut placiti sed utilitatis et amplitudinis humanæ fundamenta moliri. Deinde ut suis commodis æqui, in communæ consulant ... et ipsi in partem veniant. Præterea ut bene sperent, neque instaurationem nostram, ut quiddam infinitum et ultra mortale, fingant et animo concipiant; cum revera sit infiniti erroris finis et terminus legitimus.”—Baco. (Instauratio Magna, in Præf. sub fine.)-1st edit.
OUTLINES OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY.
SUBJECT AND ARRANGEMENT OF THIS TREATISE.
1. The object of Moral Philosophy is to ascertain the general rules of a wise and virtuous conduct in life, in so far as these rules may be discovered by the unassisted light of nature; that is, by an examination of the principles of the human constitution, and of the circumstances in which man is placed.
2. In examining the principles of our constitution with this view, our inquiries may be arranged under three heads ; according as they refer, —
(1.) To the intellectual powers of man; (2.) To his active and moral powers; and (3.) To man, considered as the member of a political body.
3. Of these articles, the two first coincide with the common division of human nature into the powers of the Understanding and those of the Will; a division of great antiquity, and which (abstracted from the effects of political institutions) exhausts the whole of Moral Philosophy. As man, however, excepting in his rudest state, has been always found connected with a political community, the principles which lay the foundation of this species of union may be regarded as universal and essential principles of our constitution; and, without an examination of them, it is impossible for us to have a just idea of our situation in the world, and of the most important duties we owe to our fellow-creatures. This last branch of the subject has, besides, a more intimate connexion with the other two than might at first be apprehended ; for it is in the political union, and in the gradual improvement of which it is susceptible, that nature has made a provision for a gradual development of our intellectual and moral powers, and for a proportional enlargement in our capacities of enjoyment; and it is by the particular forms of their political institutions that those opinions and habits which constitute the Manners of nations are chiefly determined. How intimately these are connected with the progress and happiness of the
appear in the sequel.
4. An investigation of the Pleasures and Pains of which we are susceptible, might furnish the subject of a fourth view of man, considered as a sensitive being. But instead of aiming at so great a degree of analytical distinctness, it will be found more convenient to incorporate this part of the Philosophy of the Human Mind with the other three which have been already defined ; connecting whatever remarks may occur on our enjoyments or sufferings, with those intellectual or moral principles, from the exercise of which they respectively arise.
OF THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS OF MAN.
The most important of these are comprehended in the following enumeration :