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Testimony of Nature
Who knows not that truth is strong, next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious, those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.—MILTON.
Letter III. SIR,
In your first reply to my argument against the necessity for a God,' on my affirmation of the eternity of matter, you say, 'It is only upon the mind of an unthinking man that any doubt of the existence of a God will be thrown by the fact that he does not stand revealed to the senses" like a piece of wood or a human being.” A thinking man knows of many things of which he has a far higher certainty than the material objects around him. With his bodily eye he never saw love, joy, gratitude, hope, sympathy, thought; and yet he is more certain of these spiritual facts than of any material facts whatever, and he can assure himself of a spiritual nature of which they are the phenomena, as he can never assure himself of the existence of a material world." Most unfortunate for you is your appeal to the senses. It tempts one to hand you over to the tender mercies of some Berkleian philosopher, who, if he does not lead you altogether to doubt this evidence, will at least convince you that man has much surer sources of information. It is neither by an exercise of the senses, por by an effort of reason, that I attain the knowledge of my personal existence. Logic fails where intuition begins. The syllogism, "I think--therefore I am, deepens not my certainty. °I have the same evidence for my existence as I have for my thinking. I am ; I am myself and not another: these are primi
No. 1, Vol. II.
tive mental intuitions. Next and akin to them stands the great truth-God is.'
to be sufficient in classing such belief as a mere hypothesis without any basis of facts to support it; and, therefore,
Defender' is mistaken in saying that a doubt of the existence of a God will only rise in the mind of an unthinking man' in the absence of a demonstration to the senses. You assert that'à thinking man knows of many things of which he has a far higher certainty than the material objects around him," &c. You instance the fact that with his bodily eyè he never say love, joy, hope,' &c. I merely modes of existence. It would be equally as unphilosophical to ask what
, separate existence colour is love, or how large is joy, or what shape is gratitude, or of what magnitude is hope, or what comparison and weight is sympathy, or what extent is thought. The absurdity of these questions is manifest to the most obtuse intellect, as the above qualities are simply attributes of organised existence
, They are inseparable from animal life, and are but typical of certain stages of daily experience. Supposing we ring a bell and a sound is the result-we do not separate the sound from the bell and prove the sound by a mental INTUITION.
the concussion of the iron clapper with the sides of the metal w produces the sound, and is conveyed to our ear by the concussion displacing the particles of air in its vicinity, which carry the sound into our sense of hearing through the ear, and is instantly transmitted to the brain by the same nerve. Yet this sound is not seen by our bodily ear.'
It is through the previous knowledge of the species by the senses that I can learn the attributes of the human organisation, and discover the meaning of love, joy,' &c. I defy my opponent to produce a single example of existence discovered by means attributes without knowledge of the organisation to which these attributes belong; in fact, the attributes are inseparable from the organisation. Could we take size, shape, colour, and weight from a block of granite, what would then be left? And those are the attributes of stone. You speak of handing me over to some' Berkleian philosopher,' so I will give you Lewes's opinion of Berkeley and Berkeley's words on this argument. * When Berke ey denied the existence of matter, he simply denied the existence of that unknown substratum, the existence of which Locke had declared to be a necessary inference from our knowledge of qualities, but the nature of which must be altogether hidden from us. Philosophers had assumed the existence of substance, i.e., of a noumenon lying underneath all phenomena—à substratum supporting all quali
: ties-à SOMETHING in which all accidents INHERE. This unknown substance Berkeley denies. It is a mere abstraction," he says,
“ If it is unknown, unknowable, it is a figment, and I will none of it; for it is a figment worse than useless; it is pernicious as the basis of all atheism. If by matter you understand that which is seen, felt, tasted, and touched, then I say that matter exists. vulgar. If, on the contrary, you understand by matter that occult substratum which is not seen, Not felt, not tasted, and not touched, that of which the senses do not, cannot, inform you, then herein I differ with the philasophers and agree with the vulgar.” I
2010 7990819104 op de am not for changing things into ideas," he says, but rather ideas into things; since those immediate objects of perception, which, according to you, ley might have said according to philosophers) are only appearances of things, 1 take to be the real things themselves.
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.!! .'7.1.013 *Lewes Biog. Hist, Phil., vol. 4, p. 89,