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ties that are fallacious; and that on this account they deserve credit.
It is strange, that this philosopher, who found himself under a necessity of yielding to the testimony of consciousness, did not find the same necefsity of yielding to the testimony of his senses, his memory, and his understanding: and that while he was certain that he doubted, and reasoned, he was uncertain whether two and three made five, and whether he was dreaming or awake. It is more strange, that so acute a reasoner should not perceive, that his whole train of reasoning to prove that his faculties were not fallacious, was mere fophiftry; for if his faculties were fallacious, they might deceive him in this train of reasoning; and so the conclusion, That they were not fallacious, was the only testimony of his faculties in their own favour, and might be a fallacy.
It is difficult to give any reason for distrusting our other faculties, that will not reach consciousness itself. And he who distrusts the faculties of judging and reasoning which God hath given him, must even rest in his scepticism, till he come to a sound mind, or until God give him new fa. culties to fit in judgement upon the old. If it be not a first principle, That our faculties are not fallacious, we must be absolute sceptics : for this principle is incapable of proof; and if it is not certain, nothing else can be certain,
Since the time of Des Cartes, it has been fashionable with those who dealt in abstract philosophy, to employ their invention in finding philofophical arguments, either to prove those truths which ought to be received as first principles, or to overturn them: and it is not easy to say, whether the authority of first principles is more hurt by the first of these attempts, or by the last : for such principles can stand secure only upon their own
bottom; bottom; and to place them upon any other foundation than that of their intrinsic evidence, is in effect to overturn them. · I have lately met with a very sensible and ju. dicious treatise, wrote by Father Buffier about fifty years ago, concerning first principles and the source of human judgements, which, with great propriety, he prefixed to his treatise of logic. And indeed I apprehend it is a subject of such conse. quence, that if inquisitive men can be brought to the fame unanimity in the first principles of the other sciences, as in those of mathematics and na. tural philosophy, (and why should we despair of a general agreement in things that are self-evi. dent :), this might be considered as a third grand xra in the progress of human reason,
THE principles of morality are little understood among favages : and if they arrive at matu, rity among enlightened nations, it is by flow de. grees. This progress points out the historical part, as first in order: but as that history would give little satisfaction, without a rule for comparing the morals of different ages, and of different nations, I begin with the principles of morality, such as ought to govern at all times, and in all nations.The present sketch accordingly is divided into two parts. In the first, the principles are unfolded; and the second is altogether historical.
Principles of Morality,
'S E C T. I.
Human Actions analysed,
THE hand of God is no where more visible, than in the nice adjustment of our internal frame to our situation in this world. An animal is en. dued with a power of self-motion; and in per. forming animal functions, requires no external aid. This in particular is the case of man, the noblest of terrestrial beings. His heart beats, his blood circulates, his stomach digests, evacuations proceed, &c. &c. By what means ? Not surely by the laws of mechanism, which are far from being adequate to such operations. They are effects of an internal power, bestowed on man for preserving life. The power is exerted uniformly, and without interruption, independent of will, and without consciousness.
Man is a being susceptible of pleasure and pain : these generate desire to attain what is agreeable, and to fhun what is disagreeable ; and he is
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enabled by other powers to gratify his desires. One power, termed inftinét, is exerted indeed with consciousness; but without will, and blindly without intention to produce any effect. Brute ani. mals act for the most part by instinct : hunger prompts them to eat, and cold to take shelter; knowingly indeed, but without exerting any act of will, and without foresight of what will happen. Infants of the human species, little superior to brutes, are, like brutes, governed by instinct : they lay hold of the nipple, without knowing that sucking will satisfy their hunger ; and they weep when pained, without any view of relief. Another power is governed by intention and will : in the progress from infancy to maturity, the mind opens to objects without end of desire and of aversion; the attaining or shunning of which depend inore or less on our own will: we are placed in a wide world, left to our own conduct; and we are by nature provided with a proper power for performing what we intend and will. The actions performed by means of this power are termed voluntary, Somne effects require a train of actions; walking, reading, fing, ing. Where these actions are uniform, as in walk. ing, or nearly so, as in playing on a musical in. strument, an act of will is only necessary at the commencement: the train proceeds by habit with, out any new act of will. The body is antece. dently adjusted to the uniform progress; and is disturbed if any thing unexpected happen : in walking for example, a man feels a shock if he happen to tread on ground higher or lower than his body was prepared for. The power thus ac. quired by habit of acting without will, is an illustrious branch of our nature; for upon it de. pend all the arts, both the fine and the useful. To play on the violin, requires wonderful swift
ness of fingers, every motion of which in a learner is preceded by an act of will: and yet by habit solely, an artist moves his fingers with no less accuracy than celerity. Let the most handy person try for the first time to knit a stocking : every motion of the needle demands the strictest attention; and yet a girl of nine or ten will move the needle so swiftly as almost to escape the eye, without once looking on her work. If every motion in the arts required a new act of will, they would remain in infancy for ever; and what would man be in that case? In the foregoing instances, we are conscious of the external operation without being conscious of a cause. But there are various internal operations of which we have no consciousness; and yet that they have existed is made known by their effects. Often have I gone to bed with a con. fused notion of what I was studying ; and have wakened in the morning completely master of the subject. I have heard a new tune of which I carried away but an imperfect conception. A week or perhaps a fortnight after, the tune has occurred to me in perfection ; recollecting with difficulty where I heard it. Such things have happened to me frequently, and probably also to others. My mind must have been active in these instances, tho' I knew nothing of it. .
There still remain another species of actions, termed involuntary ; as where we act by fome irresistible motive against our will. An action mày be voluntary, though done with reluctance ; as where a man, to free himself from torture, reveals the secrets of his friend: his confession is voluntary, tho' drawn from him with great reluctance. But let us suppose, that after the firmest resolution to reveal nothing, his mind is unhinged by exquisite torture : the discovery