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Note M, p. 212.---Abs:raction. (6.)
As the passage quoted in the text is taken from a work which is but little known in this country, I shall subjoin the original.
"Qu'il me soit permis de présenter à ceux qui refusent de croire à ces perfectionnemens successifs de l'espèce humaine un exemple pris dans les sciences où la marche de la vérité est la plus sûre, où elle peut être mesurée avec plus de précision. Ces vérités élémentaires de géométrie et d'astronomie qui avoient été dans l'Inde et dans l'Egypte une doctrine occulte, sur laquelle des prêtres ambitieux avoient fondé leur einpire, étoient dans la Grece, au temps d'Archimède ou d'Hipparque, des connoissances vulgaires enseignées dans les écoles communes. Dans le siècle dernier, il suffisoit de quelques années d'étude pour savoir tout ce qu' Archimède et Hipparque avoient pu connoître; et aujourd'hui deux années de l'enseignement d'un professeur vont au-delà de ce que savoient Leibnitz ou Newton. Qu'on médite cet exemple, qu'on saisisse cette chaîne qui s'étend d'un prêtre de Memphis à Euler, et remplit la distance immense qui les sépare; qu'on observe à chaque époque le génie devançant le siècle présent, et la médiocrité atteignant à ce qu'il avoit découvert dans celui qui précédoit, on apprendra que la nature nous a donne les moyens d'épargner le temps et de ménager l'attention, et qu'il n'existe aucune raison de croire que ces moyens puissent avoir un terme. On verra qu'au moment où une multitude de solutions particulières, de faits isolés cominencent à épuiser l'attention, à fatiguer la mémoire, ces théories dispersées viennent se perdre dans une méthode générale, tous les faits se réunir dans un fait unique, et que ces généralisations, ces réunions répétées n'ont, comme les multiplications successives d'un nombre par lui-même, d'autre limite qu’un infini auquel il est impossible d'atteindre."-Sur l'Instruction publique, par M. Condorcet.
(Continuation of Note M, in Second Edi ion, 1802.) How much is it to be regretted, that a doctrine so pleasing, and at the same time so philosophical, should have been disgraced by what has been since written by Condorcet and others, concerning the Perfectibility of Man, and its probable effect in banishing from the earth Vice, Disease, and Mortality! Surely they who can reconcile their minds to such a creed, might be expected to treat with some indulgence the credulity of the multitude. Nor is it candid to complain of the slow progress of truth, when it is blended with similar extravagances in philosophical systems.
While, however, we reject these absurdities, 80 completely contradicted by the whole analogy of human affairs, we ought to guard with no less caution against another creed, much more prevalent in the present times,-a crced which, taking for granted that all things are governed by chance or by a blind destiny, overlooks the beneficent arrangement made by Providence for the advancement and for the diffusion of useful knowledge ; and, in defiance both of the moral suggestions and of the universal experience of mankind, treats with ridicule the supposed tendency of truth and justice to prevail finally over falsehood and iniquity. If the doctrine which encourages these favourable prospects of the future fortunes of our race leads. when carried to an extreme, to paradox and inconsistency; the system which repre
sents this doctrine, even when stated with due limitations, as altogether groundless and visionary, leads, by a short and inevitable process, to the conclusions either of the Atheist or of the Manichæan. In the midst, indeed, of such scenes of violence and anarchy as Europe has lately witnessed, it is not always easy for the wisest and best of men to remain faithful to their principles and their hopes: but what must be the opinions and the views of those who, during these storms and convulsions of the moral world, find at once, in the apparent retrogradation of human reason, the gratification of their political ambition, and the secret triumph of their sceptical theories ?
“Fond, impious man! think'st thou yon sanguine cloud,
Note N, p. 232.—Abstraction. ( 8.) It may be proper to remark, that under the title of Economists, I comprehend not merely the disciples of Quesnay, but all those writers in France who, about the same time with bim, began to speculate about the natural order of political societies; or, in other words, about that order which a political society would of itself gradually assume, on the supposition that law had no other object than to protect completely the natural rights of individuals, and left every man at liberty to pursue his own interest in his own way, as long as he abstained from violating the rights of others. The connexion between this natural order and the improvement of mankind, has been more insisted on by the biographers of Turgot than by any other authors; and the imperfect hints which they have given of the views of that truly great man upon this important subject, leave us much room to regret that he had not leisure to execute a work, which he appears to have long meditated, on the principles of moral and political philosophy.- Vie de M. Turgot, partie ii. p. 53.
It is merely for want of a more convenient expression that I have distinguished these different writers by the title of Economists. It is in this extensive sense that the word is commonly understood in this country; but I am sensible that it is somewhat ambiguous, and that, without the explanation which I bave given, some of my observations might have leen supposed to imply a higher admiration than I really entertain of the writings of M. Quesnay, and of the affected phraseology employed by his sect.
The connexion between M. Turgot and M. Quesnay, and the coincidence of their opinions about the most essential principles of legislation, will, I hope, justify me in ranking the former with the Economists; although his views seem to have been much more enlarged than those of his contemporaries, and although he expressly disclaimed an implicit acquiescence in the opinions of any particular sect.
“M. Turgot étudia la doctrine de M. Gournay et de M. Quesnay, en profita, se la rendit propre ; et la combinant avec la connoissance qu'il avoit du Droit, et avec les grandes vues de législation civile et criminelle qui avoient occupé sa tête et interéssé son cæur, parvint à en former sur le gouvernement des nations un corps
de principes à lui, embrassant les deux autres, et plus complet encore."-- Jlémoires sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de M. T'urgot, par M. Dupont, pp. 40, 41.
“Il a passé pour avoir été attaché à plusieurs sectes, ou à plusieurs sociétés qu'on appelait ainsi; et les amis qu'il avait dans ces sociétés diverses lui reprochaient sans cesse de n'être pas de leur avis; et sans cesse il leur reprochait de son côté de vouloir faire communautê d'opinions, et de se rendre solidaires les uns pour les autres. Il croyait cette marche propre à retarder les progrès mêmes de leur découvertes.”—Ibid. pp. 41, 42.
Note O, p. 305.- Issociation. (PART I. As so the Mental Train. $ 5.) The foregoing observations on the state of the mind in sleep, and on the phenomena of dreaming, were written as long ago as the year 1772; and were read (nearly in the form in which they are now published) in the year 1773, in a private literary society in this university. A considerable number of years afterwards, at the time when I was occupied with very different pursuits, I happened, in turning over an old volume of the Scots Magazine, (the volume for the year 1749,) to meet with a short essay on the same subject, which surprised me by its coincidence with some ideas which had formerly occurred to me. I have reason to believe that this essay is very little known, as I have never seen it referred to by any of the numerous writers who have since treated of the human mind; nor have even heard it once mentioned in conversation. I had some time ago the satisfaction to learn accidentally that the author w Mr. Thomas Melville, a gentleman who died at the early age of 27; and whose ingenious observations on light and colours (published in the Essays of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society) are well known over Europe.
The passages which coincide the most remarkably with the doctrine I bave stated, are the following. I quote the first with particular pleasure, on account of the support which it gives to an opinion which I formerly proposed in the essay on Conception, and on which I have the misfortune to differ from some of my friends.
'When I am walking up the High Street of Edinburgh, the objects which strike my eyes and ears give me an idea of their presence; and this idea is lively, full, and permanent, as arising from the continued operation of light and sound on the organs of sense.
" Again, when I am absent from Edinburgh, but conceiring or imagining myself to walk up the High Street, in relating perhaps what lefell me on such an occasion, I have likewise in my mind an idea of what is usually scen and beard in the High Street, and this idea of imagination is entirely irikur to thise of selsation, though not so strong and durable.
“In this last instance, while the imagination lasts, be it ever so short, it is evident that I think myself in the street of Edinburgh, as truly as when I dre im I am there, or even as when I see and feel I am there. It is true, we cannot so well apply the word belief in this case, lecause the perception is not clear or steals, being ever disturbed and soon dissipated by the superior strength of intruding sensation : yet nothing can be more absurd than to say that a man inay, in the same indiviilual instant, bcliere he is one place, and imagine he is in another.
No man can demonstrate that the objects of sense exist without him; we are conscious of nothing but our own sensations : however, by the uniformity, regularity, consistency, and steadiness of the impression, we are led to believe that they have a real and durable cause without us, and we observe not anything which contradicts this opinion. But the ideas of imagination, being transient and fleeting, can beget no such opinion or habitual belief; though there is as much perceived in this case as in the former, namely, an idea of the object within the mind. It will be easily understood, that all this is intended to obriate an objection that might be brought against the similarity of dreaming and imagination, from our believing in sleep that all is real. But there is one fact that plainly sets them both on a parallel, that in sleep we often recollect that the scenes which we behold are a mere dream, in the same manner as a person awake is habitually convinced that the representations of his imagination are fictitions."
... In this essay we make no inquiry into the state of the body in sleep.
“... If the operations of the mind in sleep can be fairly deduced from the same causes as its operations when awake, we are certainly advanced one considerable step, though the causes of these latter should be still unknown. The doctrine of gravitation, which is the most wonderful and extensive discovery in the whole compass of human science, leaves the descent of heavy bodies as great a mystery as ever. In philosophy, as in geometry, the whole art of investigation lies in reducing things that are difficult, intricate, and remote, to what is simpler and easier of access, by pursuing and extending the analogies of nature."
On looking over the same Essay, I find an observation which I stated as my own in page 157 of this work. “The mere imagination of a tender scene in a romance or drama, will draw tears from the eyes of those who know very well, when they recollect themselves, that the whole is fictitious. In the meantime, they must conceive it as real; and from this supposed reality arises all its influence on the human mind."
(Continuation of Note () in Second Edition, 1802.) Soon after the publication of the first edition of this Work, a difficulty was started to me with respect to my conclusions concerning the state of the mind in sleep, by my excellent friend M. Prévost of Geneva; a gentleman who has long held a high rank in the republic of letters, and to whose valuable correspondence I have often been indebted for much pleasure and instruction. The same difficulty was proposed to me, nearly about the same time, by another friend, (then at a very early period of life,) who has since honourably distinguished himself by his observations on Dr. Darwin's Zoonomia; the first fruits of a philosophical genius, which I trust is destined for yet more important undertakings.'
As M. Prévost has, in the present instance, kindly aided me in the task of removing his own objection, I shall take the liberty to borrow his words :
"Sans l'action de la Volonté point d'effort d'attention. Sans quelque effort d'attention point de Souvenir. Dans le Sommeil, l'action de la Volonté est suspendue. Comment donc reste-t-il quelque Souvenir des Songes?
“ Je vois bien deux on trois reponses a cette difficulté. Quant a présent, elles se reduisent à dire, ou que dans un Sommeil parfait, il n'y a nul Souvenir, et que là où il y a Souvenir, le Sommeil n'étoit pas parfait ; ou que l'action de la Volonté
1 Owerrations on th· Zoonomia of Dr. Dorurin. By Thomas Brostn, Esq. Edinburgh. 1798.
qui suffit pour le Souvenir n'est pas suspendue dans le Sommeil; que ce degré d'activité reste à l'âme; que ce n'est, pour ainsi dire, qu'une Volonté élémentaire et comme insensible."
I am abundantly sensible of the force of this objection, and am far from being satisfied, that it is in my power to reconcile completely the apparent inconsistency. The general conclusions, at the same time, to which I have been led, seem to result so necessarily from the facts I have stated, that even although the difficulty in question should remain for the present insolved, it would not, in my opinion, materially affect the evidence on which they rest. In all our inquiries, it is of consequence to remember, that when we have once arrived at a general principle by a careful induction, we are not entitled to reject it because we may find ourselves unable to explain from it synthetically, all the phenomena in which it is concerned. The Newtonian Theory of the Tides is not the less certain, that some apparent exceptions occur to it, of which it is not easy (in consequence of our imperfect knowledge of the local circumstances by which, in particular cases, the effect is modified) to give a satisfactory explanation.
Of the solutions suggested by M. Prévost, the first coincides most nearly with my own opinion, and it approaches to what I have hinted (in page 154 of this work) concerning the seeming exceptions to my doctrine, which may occur in those cases where sleep is partial. A strong confirmation of it undoubtedly may be derived from the experience of those persons (several of whom I have happened to meet with) who never recollect to have dreamed, excepting when the soundness of their sleep was disturbed by some derangement in their general health, or by some accident which excited a bodily sensation.
Another solution of the difficulty might perhaps be derived from the facts (stated in pp. 121, 122, of this volume) which prove," that a perception or an idea which passes through the mind, without leaving any trace in the memory, may yet serve to introduce other ideas connected with it by the Laws of Association."
From this principle it follows, that if any one of the more remarkable circumstances in a dream should recur to us after we awake, it might (without our exerting during sleep that attention which is essential to memory) revive the same concatenation of particulars with which it was formerly accompanied. And what is a dream, but such a concatenation of seeming events presenting itself to the imagination during our waking hours; the origin of which we learn by experience to refer to that interval which is employed in sleep, finding it impossible to connect it with any specific time or place in our past history? One thing is certain, that we cannot, by any direct acts of recollection, recover the train of our sleeping thoughts, as we can, in an evening, review the meditations of the preceding day. Another cause,
it must be owned, presents an obstacle to such efforts of recollection, and is, perhaps, adequate of itself to explain the fact. During the day, we have many aids to memory which are wanting in sleep, (those, in particular, which are furnished by the objects of our external senses,) and of these aids we never fail to avail ourselves, in attempting to recollect the thoughts in which the day has been spent. We consider in what PLACE we were at a particular time, and what persons and things we there saw, endeavouring thus to lay hold of our intellectual processes, by means of the sensible objects with which they were associated ; and yet, with all these advantages, the account which most men are able