图书图片
PDF
ePub

dogmatical assertion that these con- istence of evil, physical and moral, it traries might be reconciled. How follows from the hypothesis of Prethis was to have happened he has no established Harmony, that God is the where, so far as we know, been con Author of Evil: If he deny the exdescending enough to inform us. istence of Evil altogether, he is no Let us attend for one moment to this longer to be reasoned with, such a matter. If all things are pre-estaba denial implying at once a disbelief of lished in perfect harmony by God, the senses and of the understanding. then one of two things must follow : In the last case, which, for the sake Either there is no evil, physical or of illustration, we have supposed, moral, existing in the universe ; or, who can for a moment doubt that the if there is, God is the author of that Head of a family, who winks at the cvil, which he has pre-established by vices, or, perchance, the crimes, of unchangeable, perhaps eternal, laws. those over whom he possesses control Leibnitz certainly did hold, however, and effective influence, is to be viewthat the permission " of moral eviled as the Origo malorum, the Fons does not detract from the goodness of criminum? This being indubitable, God;" but, as we have just observed, let us enquire farther, How is the we have nothing but his authority for case altered, with regard to the perthe truth of this allegation, more son we have supposed, by telling us worthy of a quibbling “ metaphysic that some of those sinners whom he cal theologian," than of a great phi- fostered into the full maturity of losopher searching after truth. What, crime, by his wicked sufferance, will, we would ask, is the difference, as peradventure, be afterwards sorry for far as the present question is concern their crimes, when they see a halter ed, between permitting evil, which foredoomed for them in this world, you

have the power to prevent, and and anticipate hell and damnation in being the author of that evil? A the next? In other words, Would man, for example, stands by uncon- the contingent and precarious recernedly,and beholds his fellow-crea- pentance of a Magdalen be any justure robbed and murdered, when he tification of him who had originally could have effectually interposed, betrayed the innocence of the peniand, by this act, saved at once his tent? Certainly not. The partizans property and his life. Would not of Optimism and Fatalism (for they such an act of permission, whatever are virtually the same thing) may the philosophers and theologians may answer these questions, or contemn say respecting it, subject the person them, as their humour or caprice implicated to be tried as an accessary may prompt them. For our own before the fact, by the laws of every parts, we hate to be misled and cajolcivilized country on earth? Again, ed by mere words. The Leibnitzian the Head of a family suffers, permits, gravely tells us, that man is accountor winks at, the most immoral and able for all his actions, and that guilt irreligious conduct in his offspring, is imputable to him for his crimes ; or retainers, who are under his con- and yet, in the very same breath, he trol, and can only effect the gratifica- adds, for our comfort, that, in his tion of their vicious propensities by harmonious world, God has pre-estabhis connivance. Perhaps human laws lished that he shall be criminal, or, would not reach such a miscreant, at least, that he is virtuous or vicious yet who doubts that the permission, according, not to his own free volion his part, implies a high degree, tions, but to the pre-establishment of not only of responsibility, but of his maker. He also says, that, upon guilt. Would we look for a Lucre- his principles, God is good though he tia in a bagnio, or a Cato among permits evil; and yet, when the same the pickpockets of St Giles's? Can principle is applied to a human be evil ever emanate in any shape, or ing, he acknowledges the justice of under any disguise, from the source the law that awards him punishof goodness? And, on the principles ment. Such are the aberrations and of Leibnitz, “ Is there evil in the inconsistencies of the human mind city and the Lord hath not done it?" when it attempts to descend into the He is, therefore, between the horns unexplored, and probably fathomof a dilemma. If he admits the ex- less, depths of those awful mysteries,

which they only who try to be “ wise of existence are conceivable, and above what is written” make the sub- the choice of one form, in preference ject of serious and deliberate enquiry. to an infinitude of others, implies

Before quitting the subjectof Leib- will and design : and no being can nitz's metaphysical speculations, we will or design without a reason or must direct the attention of the reader motive. We think this principle to some Logical Principles evolved most strikingly applicable to Physics; by him in the course of propounding and indeed Leibnitz has furnished us, his Theory of Pre-established Hare with a very pertinent illustration. mony and of Optimism, and which, “ Archimedes, in his book De Equias Mr Stewart has correctly remark- librio, was obliged to take for granted, still maintain “ an extensive in- 'ed, that if there be a balance, in fluence over the reasonings of the which every thing is alike on both learned on questions seemingly the sides, and if equal weights are hung most remote from all metaphysical 'on the two ends of the balance, the conclusions." These are the Prin- whole will be at rest. It is because ciple of the Sufficient Reason, and no reason can be given why one side the Law of Continuity., On each of should weigh down rather than the these heads we shall hazard a few other. Now, (he adds,) by this sinwords: And,

gle principle of the Sufficient Reason, 1. With regard to the Principle of may be demonstrated the being of a the Sufficient Reason, agreeing, as we God, and all the other parts of Medo most cordially, with Mr Stewart taphysics or Natural Theology; even, as to the paradoxical and even dan- in some measure those physical truths gerous conclusions which Leibnitz that are independent upon Mathemahas (we think erroneously) drawn tics, such as The Dynamical Prinfrom the application of this Logical ciples, or THE PRINCIPLES OF Rule, we are, at the same time, by Forces." no means prepared to concede to him, 2. But if we dissent from the acute that the Principle, under certain li- observations of Mr Stewart respectmitations, may not be applied to our ing the principle of the Sufficient reasonings with irresistible force and Reason, much more widely do we reconviction, and may not be rendered cede from what he says on the Law a powerful engine in the elaboration of Continuity, according to which "all of truth. Whatever exists proceeds changes are produced by insensible from a cause, and that cause is de gradations, so as to render it impostermined to the production of a partie sible for a body to have its state chancular effect. Now uniformity im- ged from motion to rest, or from rest plies design, or pre-appointment, for to motion, without passing through which there must, in the instance of all the intermediate states of velociPerfect Intelligence, be always a suf- ty:"-in other words, « natura non ficient reason. For what happens operatur per saltum. The metawithout a sufficient reason is the pro- physical argument employed by the duction of absolute chance, not of In- followers of Leibnitz, and indeed fretelligence. Every thing in the uni- quently hinted at by himself, in proof verse has its existence determined in of the Law of Continuity, has always one particular way, rather than ano- appeared to us perfectly unanswerther; -as, for example, gravity is ata able, notwithstanding the dissent of tached as a quality of matter causing our author; and is this: " If a body bodies to descend in the line of a ra- at rest begins, per saltum, to move, dius of the terrestrial spheroid ;-and with any finite velocity, then this to suppose or assume, that there ex- body must be, at the same indivisible ists xo Sufficient Reason for that par- instant, in two different states, that ticular determination, is to suppose of rest and of motion, which is imor assume a contradiction ; for the possible *." It is perfectly true, as fact, that all things exist after one forin peculiar to themselve implies * “ Si toto tempore (says Boscovich) a sufficient reason for that fact, and ante contactum subsequentis corporis sltto deny afterwards the existence of perficies antecedens habuit 12 gradus vethat reason is at once to affirm and locitatis, et sequenti 9, saltu facto momendeny the same thing. All forms taneo ipso initio contactus ; in ipso mo

[ocr errors]

once, (or

[ocr errors]

Mr Stewart has stated, that “ some perceptions of our senses, as the numfinite portion of time enters, as an berless infinitismal particles sent off essential element, into our concep- from bodies do not, each of them, tion” of a body as either in a state of excite a separate sensation, but conmotion or rest: for whoever thought tinuously the sensation of smell: and of denying that a body cannot be ei- that we are by no means so sceptical ther in motion or rest, except in time? as our author with regard to that conWhat the Leibnitzians maintain is, tinuity of opinion and improvement, that it cannot be in both states at so beautifully illustrated by Helves

at the same indivisible in- tius, and which forms the groundstant,") and that time must elapse as work of all predictions of the future it passes from the onestate to the other. improvement, and, to use a favourite Mr Stewart plays on the word indi- phrase of Dr Thomas Brown's, of visible, which is here applied merely the “ splendid destiny of our race. because language does not supply one Having said so much on this and more logical or precise : and yet he other topics, we can now do little tells us, that an indivisible instant more than present our readers with a may form a limit between a state of rapid enumeration of the successive rest and a state of motion.” We subjects which pass in review under hold that it must, or in other words, the comprehensive eye of this able that a body cannot pass per saltum and eloquent chronicler of human from the one to the other. But improvement; conjoining this with “suppose," says Mr S.“ one half of an apology for having detained them this page to be painted white and the so long with matters which can only other black, it might, I apprehend, interest the speculative metaphysibe said, with the most rigorous pro- cian, or, at best, that scanty class of priety, that the transition from the persons who reap a noble and indeone colour to the other was made per pendent pleasure in attending to any saltum.Here the reader will be investigation which calls on them to pleased to observe, that the boundary think, by furnishing them with alibetween the two colours is a mathe- ment for their own cogitations. matical line, a mere conception, or To the metaphysical speculations abstract idea, whereas we are talking of Newton and Clarke, our author of a physical fact subjected to the next proceeds to direct the attention cognisance of the senses ; and there- of his readers, and on this part of his fore the analogy is not in point. But, subject he enters con amore. Newassuming, for the sake of argument,

ton has left little behind him to enthat it is perfectly so," the transi- title him to be rated as a metaphytion, says our author, from the one sician: but in that little, consisting colour to the other may, with the of some accidental notices in the most rigorous propriety, be said to be Scholia annexed to the Principia ; made per saltum;" that is, when we and in the queries subjoined to his translate this into equivalent terms, book on Optics, there are scattered it is possible to be on both sides of the hints which establish a connection mathematical line, (which constitutes between his opinions and those of the boundary between “ the one co his illustrious friend and contempolour and the other”) " at the same

rary. The following extract, conindivisible instant of time !"-—which taining the germ of Clarke's celeis impossible. We will not enter brated argument, a priori, for the farther into this subject at present, existence of God, will illustrate what but we cannot, at the same time, we have just stated :-"Æternus est avoid noticing, that the discovery of et infinitus, omnipotens et omnisciens; the Polypus furnishes a striking ex id est, durat ab æterno in æternum, et emplification of the Law of Continuie adest ab infinito in infinitum. Non ty in the natural world ; that the est æternitas et infinitas, sed æternus same law appears to regulate the very et infinitus; non est duratio et spatium,

sed durat et adest. Durat

semper et mento ea tempora dirimente debuissent ha- adest ubique, et existendo semper et bere et 12 et 9 simul, quod est absurdum. ubique, durationem et spatium constiDuas enim simul haberc corpus non po

tuit." The chief glory of Clarke, test." (Theoria Phil. Nat.)

as a metaphysical author, says Mr S.,

is due to the boldness and ability Clarke. His book is deservedly rewith which he placed himself in the markable, as being the ground-work breach against the Necessitarians and of Edwards' Treatise on the FreeFatalists of his times.” Without dom of the Will, in which the Amerientering into this point, we coincide can Philosopher has done little more in opinion with our author, that the than methodise the arguments furcorrespondence between Clarke and nished by the fertile and original Leibnitz is the most instructive and mind of Collins. The “ Philosophiinteresting on record ; which, it is to cal Inquiry” brought Collins in conbe regretted, the death of Leibnitz, tact with Clarke, with whom “ the in 1716, prevented from being con- liberty of the will, or moral agency tinued. Some curious notices of of man (says his friend Bishop XoadClarke's early turn and bias towards ly) was a darling point.” Bonnet metaphysics are also interspersed with also falls to be mentioned as the the account of his contributions to contemporary of Collins; a man the science of mind ; notices which equally pious, equally learned, but would seem to give some countenance by no means so ingenious and into the sarcastic phrase of Voltaire, ventive as Collins. that he was a mere reasoning ma

Our author next proceeds to give chine (moulin à raisonnement). Here some account of the Prince of Scepfollows a very interesting digression, tical Critics, Bayle, of Fontenelle, full of novel matter, regarding Spi- and of Addison, as well as of the noza ("an Amsterdam Jew of Por- Metaphysical Works of Berkeley. A tuguese extraction”) and Spinozim. number of curious particulars are colThe author has chiefly been indebt- lected respecting Bayle, but we are ed to Bayle for his materials, but he not aware that any of them are very has favoured us with much informa- new. Leibnitz said of him, with tion, and a few biographical notices infinite felicity and truth, Ubi bene, entirely new to the mere English nemo melius.' It is creditable alike reader. Mr Stewart has examined to our author's taste and judgment, the atheistical tenets of Spinozim* that he vindicates the Metaphysical with his usual discrimination and a acumen of Addison, to whom his bility. We would recommend this contemporaries were, in this respect part of the Dissertation to the parti- at least, unjust. His Essays on the cular attention of our readers. From Pleasures of Imagination, a subject this digression our author returns, quite untouched at the time when he and favours us with a somewhat wrote, and his Hints on Wit, Humour, lengthened account of a book en and the Causes of Laughter, if they titled “ A Philosophical Inquiry con

do not entitle him to the very highest cerning Human Liberty," by An- rank as a profound thinker, must thony Collins, a man of real ability, be allowed to place him very near and celebrated as the antagonist of it, and to indicate a precision accu

racy, and originality, together with a

fine taste, and an elegance and purity • The following reflection of Voltaire of diction, which have never probaon the writings of Spinoza, we would re- bly, since his time, been combined in commend to the attentive consideration of the same degree in any other writer. those who are constantly calling out about “ He had the merit,” says Mr S. “ of the danger of speculations which are either starting these as problems for the conunintelligible in themselves, or which (and that comes ultimately to the same thing) it be easy to name among his suc

sideration of philosophers; nor would nobody reads :-“ Vous êtes très confus Barue Spinoza, mais êtes vous aussi dan.

cessors a single writer who has made gereux qu'on le dit ? Je soutiens que

so important a step towards their solunon, et ma raison c'est que vous êtes très

tion as the original proposer.” Fonconfus, que vous avez ecrit en mauvais

tenelle is chiefly famous for his Latin, et qu'il n'y a pas dix personnes en

Eloges (Museo contingens cuncta l'Europe qui vous lisent d'un bout à lepore,") which every where present

Quel est l'auteur dangereux ? very pleasing pictures of genius C'est celui qui est lu par les Oisifs de la and learning in the scenes of domesCour, et par les Dames.” (Quest. sur

tic life.”

In spite of the flood l'Encyclop. Art. Dicu.)

of light which the discoveries of

l'autre.

Newton threw on the subject of Metaphysicians of a late date." This physics, he continued a determined is apparently one of the most labourCartesian to the last. Mr Stewart has ed parts of the present Essay, and entered more fully into the metaphy- we regret we cannot present our readsical writings of Berkeley than is per ers with even an outline of its varihaps necessary, considering how much ous and interesting contents. The he had already written (in his Phila philosophy of Condillac, or, to speak sophical Essays and Philosophy of more precisely, Condillac's exposithe Human Mind) on that subject. tion of the philosophy of Locke, In this Dissertation the reader will is flimsy, superficial, and piquant, meet with many very ingenious ob- and was dextrously calculated for servations on the “ New Theory of a people among whom, says Madame Vision;" a book which forms a re de Stael, “ nobody reads a book markable era in the history of the except to talk of it." Froin this progress of Metaphysical inquiry. censurè, however, must be exempted

Mr S. devotes à section to the all that he has written on the subject “ Hartleian School,” which we shall of language. He deserves infinite very hastily dismiss. Dr Law, bishop credit, indeed, for the ingenuity and of Carlisle, (father of the late Lord El. force with which he has established, lenborough), and translator of Arch-beyond controversy, the important bishop King's book on the Origin of truth, that we think only throngh the Evil, appended to his translation a medium of words. This is a most valu. Dissertation on the Fundamental Prin- able and original discovery, and gives ciple of Virtue, by the Rev. Mr Gay, particular value to those etymologi. which last appears to have suggested cal analyses and decompositions of to Hartley the possibility of account- words, as a method of tracing the ing for all our intellectual pleasures processes of the mind in the formaand pains” on the single principle of tion and arrangements of its thoughts association of ideas. Much about the and ideas, which have been lately same time, Charles Bonnet of Gene- pursued, with so much learning and va published some similar specula- ingenuity, in the Ealx II ospodrsa, and tions. Both seemed to have viewed other works, and to which, from some the mind and body, as placed at the cause we cannot comprehend, Mr S. opposite ends of a fiddle-str mois- cherishes so strong an aversion. Had tened by some sort of fluid which Condillac done nothing more, he they called “ subtile and elastic would have been entitled to the lastæther," by which the connection and ing gratitude of all those who make mutual understanding and co-opera- the human mind a particular study, tion of mind and body are maintain- Our author has assigned more .conse ed and carried on. Hence, both of quence to the snatchy opinions of these writers talk of vibrations Helvetius, than his book " of shreds ébranlemens), and Hartley has add- and patches” entitles him to. It is, ed the diminutive, vibratiuncles. however, a fair index of the state of What is there in Hartley's theory be- opinions in Paris at the time when it yond physiological nonsense, and a was composed, or rather pieced tovery unwarrantableinnovation in pro- gether, the author having merely set priety of speech? In proof of the for- down in his book the opinions sportmer, we need only mention that he ed (if we may say so) in the circle imagines the thinking principle to be in which he moved, as faithfully as nothing else than some vibrations in the sayings and eccentricities of Dr the medullary; and, with regard to Samuel Johnson were recorded and the latter, he first calls all “our in- chronicled by the inimitable James tellectual pleasures and pains” ideas, Boswell. The correspondence of and then he gravely adds, that the Grimm, from the talents of the mental phenomena are all subjected writer, is deserving of more consito one law, namely, Association of deration than the wishy-washy thing Ideas. These physiological theories De l'Esprit : it also throws much are really unworthy of serious exa- light on the state of literary society mination

in the French Capital during a most The title of our author's next sec- interesting period, and superadds, to tion is “ Condillac, and the French the proofs already known, the testi

« 上一页继续 »