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Thus as materialism has been generally taught, it is utterly unintelligible, and owes all its proselytes to the propensity so common among men, to mistake distinct images for clear conceptions; and vice versa, to reject as inconceivable whatever from its own nature is unimaginable. But as soon as it becomes intelligible, it ceases to be materialism. In order to explain thinking, as a material phænomenon, it is necessary to refine matter into a mere modification of intelligence, with the two-fold function of appearing and perceiving. Even so did Priestley in his controversy with Price! He stript matter of all its material properties; substituted spiritual powers; and when we expected to find a body, behold! we had nothing but its ghost! the apparition of a defunct substance!
I shall not dilate further on this subject; because it will (if God grant health and permission) be treated of at large and systematically in a work, which I have many years been preparing, on the PRODUCTIVE LOGOS human and divine; with, and as the introduction to, a full commentary on the Gospel of St. John. To make myself intelligible as far as my present subject requires, it will be sufficient briefly to observe-1. That all association demands. and presupposes the existence of the thoughts and images to be associated.-2. The hypothe
sis of an external world exactly correspondent to those images or modifications of our own being, which alone (according to this system) we actually behold, is as thorough idealism as Berkeley's, inasmuch as it equally (perhaps, in a more perfect degree) removes all reality and immediateness of perception, and places us in a dream-world of phantoms and spectres, the inexplicable swarm and equivocal generation of motions in our own brains.-3. That this hypothesis neither involves the explanation, nor precludes the necessity, of a mechanism and co-adequate forces in the percepient, which at the more than magic touch of the impulse from without is to create anew for itself the correspondent object. The formation of a copy is not solved by the mere pre-existence of an original; the copyist of Raphael's Transfiguration must repeat more or less perfectly the process of Raphael. It would be easy to explain a thought from the image on the retina, and that from the geometry of light, if this very light did not present the very same difficulty. We might as rationally chant the Brahmin creed of the tortoise that supported the bear, that supported the elephant, that supported the world, to the tune of "This is the house that Jack built." The sic Deo placitum est we all admit as the sufficient cause, and the divine goodness as the sufficient reason; but an answer to the whence?
and why? is no answer to the how? which alone is the physiologist's concern. It is a mere sophisma pigrum, and (as Bacon hath said) the arrogance of pusillanimity, which lifts up the idol of a mortal's fancy and commands us to fall down and worship it, as a work of divine wisdom, an ancile or palladium fallen from heaven. By the very same argument the supporters of the Ptolemaic system might have rebuffed the Newtonian, and pointing to the sky with self-complacent* grin have appealed to common sense, whether the sun did not move and the earth stand still.
* "And Coxcombs vanquish Berkeley with a grin." Pope.
Is philosophy possible as a science, and what are its conditions?-Giordano Bruno-Literary aristocracy, or the existence of a tacit compact among the learned as a privileged orderThe author's obligations to the Mystics;-to Emanuel Kant-The difference between the letter and the spirit of Kant's writings, and a vindication of prudence in the teaching of philosophy-Fichte's attempt to complete the critical system-Its partial success and ultimate failure-Obligations to Schelling; and among English writers to Saumarez.
After I had successively studied in the schools of Locke, Berkeley, Leibnitz, and Hartley, and could find in neither of them an abiding place for my reason, I began to ask myself; is a system of philosophy, as different from mere history and historic classification possible? If possible, what are its necessary conditions? I was for a while disposed to answer the first question in the negative, and to admit that the sole practicable employment for the human mind was to observe, to collect, and to classify. But I soon felt, that human nature itself fought
up against this wilful resignation of intellect; and as soon did I find, that the scheme taken with all its consequences and cleared of all inconsistencies was not less impracticable, than contra-natural. Assume in its full extent the position, nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensa, without Leibnitz's qualifying præter ipsum intellectum, and in the same sense, in which it was understood by Hartley and Condilliac: and what Hume had demonstratively deduced from this concession concerning cause and effect, will apply with equal and crushing force to all the other eleven categorical forms, and the logical functions corresponding to them. How can we make bricks without straw? Or build without cement? We learn all things indeed by occasion of experience; but the very facts so learnt force us inward on the antecedents, that must be pre-supposed in order to render experience itself possible. The first book of Locke's Essays (if the supposed error, which it labours to subvert, be not a mere thing of straw, an absurdity which, no man ever did, or indeed ever could believe) is formed on a Σόφισμα Ετεροζητησέως, and involves the old mistake of cum hoc: ergo, propter hoc.
* Videlicet; quantity, quality, relation, and mode, each consisting of three subdivisions. Vide Kritik der reineu Vernunft, p. 95, and 106. See too the judicious remarks in Locke and Hume.