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degenerate from its pristine purity. But the schoolmen having once started it, and not perceiving that it was insoluble on their principles, went on pecking at it from generation to generation, and furnished twenty different answers to it, most of which were equally at variance with each other, with common sense, and with the principles of those who gave them. St Thomas, however, whose favorite field of research was among the angels, whence his title of the angelic doctor, and who did not perhaps think a problem relating to merely human matters, a proper occasion for the exercise of all his supernatural sagacity, answers the question very much as any plain person probably would at the present day. • The individuality of Socrates,' he observes, 'lies in his flesh and bones ;' that is, we presume, a particular conformation of flesh and bones makes a man Socrates, and another makes him Plato. This solution is plausible enough, and properly explained might be considered satisfactory. It is obviously, however, quite inconsistent with the received notions of the schoolmen, St Thomas himself included, who did not admit the reality of flesh and bones; and it must have been generally regarded, at that time, as involving a most gross and material error. Duns solves the problem in a much more elegant way.
• The individuality of Peter,' he remarks, lies in his Petreity or Peterness ; and the precise reason why he is Peter, and not John is, that in him humanity is combined with Petreity, while in John the additional ingredient is Johnnity.'
This, we apprehend, will be regarded as the ne plus ultra of refinement. The force of dulness could no farther go. It only remained for Raymond Lully to invent the grand art of solving all possible problems by a wooden machine, as we have a rule in Hill's arithmetic for writing poetry by the multiplication table. This paltry piece of mechanism was considered as something more than human; and the inventor of it looked upon himself, and was generally regarded by others, as a man divinely inspired. Roger Bacon, who fourished about the same time, and whose real merit is but little inferior to that of his more celebrated namesake, Lord Verulam, and of a similar kind, was comparatively unknown to his contemporaries, though styled by them with justice the wonderful doctor. He was prohibited by the monks of his
order from publishing any of his works; while Lully, by grinding out philosophy as a barrel organist makes music, excited the enthusiastic admiration of the scientific world for two or three centuries. The vogue that attended this charlatan is looked upon with justice by M. de Gerando, as one of the curious forms of human weakness; and seems to have attracted a good deal of his attention. He mentions, in the present work, that he has made the character of Lully the subject of three memoirs, which are published in the transactions of the Institute, but which we have not had the opportunity to examine.
The dispute on the principle of individuality, just alluded to, resolved itself as we have seen into the old argument between the Nominalists and the Realists on the nature of general ideas. The revival of this controversy, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and the final triumph of the Nominalists or rational party over their adversaries, marks, in the judgment of our author, the commencement of the reformation of philosophy, and closes the fourth period of its history. William Ockham, an Englishman residing on the continent, was the leader of the Nominalists. His opinions, though they ultimately prevailed, gained ground rather slowly.
His logic was condemned by the Parliament of Paris in 1339, and his followers persecuted and banished by Louis XI ; but common sense finally carried the day. The reign of dulness and ignorance had indeed for some time been tending towards a close. The taste for polite literature, and for the study of the classical writers, was making rapid progress. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, had already flourished in Italy, and had been duly appreciated by their contemporaries and successors, Their example and their works contributed, with a variety of other causes, to give a new impulse to liberal pursuits. The power, which organised and kept in action the vast springs that regulate the fate of nations, had decreed, what no human foresight would perhaps have thought probable, or even possible, that a new era of civilization more brilliant than any the world had ever seen before should rise up, in all its beauty, out of the gulf of ignorance and barbarism, into which society seemed to have sunk forever. The time had now arrived when this revolution was to happen ; and the principle of good prevailed at once throughout Europe over that of error and evil, by a sort of universal effort, as we see the fresh and joyous spring revive at the appointed season, as if by miracle, out of the icy grave of winter. The results of this auspicious change in the department of philosophy form the subject of the following division of our author's work, which we intend at some future opportunity to introduce to the reader's notice.
ART. XIV.-An Abstract of a New Theory of the Forma
tion of the Earth. By Ira Hill, A. M. Baltimore,
1823. pp. 211. From the days of Sanchoniathon down to the present time, ingenious men have been much given to the amusement of world-making ; and the number of those, who have found pleasure in this occupation, seems not to have been lessened by the increasing light of science and philosophy. The discovery of new truths has rather multiplied than diminished the difficulties of these undertakings, and served only to bring more courageous champions into the field, by heightening the glory of triumph; as the renowned knight of La Mancha was stimulated to untried exploits in proportion to the hazard and uncertainty, which seemed to await his adventures.
No task could be imagined more easy at first, than that of constructing a globe like our earth; it was reduced to a sort of mathematical problem,—matter and motion being given to make a world. So tractable and accommodating was this problem, that it yielded with the utmost readiness to the plastic mathematics of the wonder working cosmogonist. Worlds sprang up around him at his bidding, and he had only to sit in tranquil admiration of the workmanship of his hands. Among the moderns, Descartes has been the most successful in solving problems of this description.
Wild rule Of whirling vortices and circling spheres,' he constructed the earth, the planets, the sun, and the heavens; and after such prodigies of execution, where is the
wonder, that he should affirm it to be within the compass of his power, having a quantity of matter and motion to produce an animal ?' It is true, the worthy Dr Keill's indignation was kindled at the boldness of the philosopher, and he gravely pronounces this an 'insuperable problem,' and warmly demands, with what confidence he could pretend to solve so intricate a problem, who blundered so much in the easiest and most abstracted things in nature ?' With how little reason this severe censure is inflicted, let the wise and considerate judge.
The early cosmogonists did not confine their labors to the earth, but embraced the sun, moon, stars, and the universe. The astronomer, Xenophanes, took the stars to be patches of clouds, which were lighted up at night, and extinguished in the morning. As for suns and moons, he said, they were numerous, and that different climates of the earth were accommodated with distinct sets. The great Anaxagoras, the preceptor of Socrates and Pericles, was among the noted astronomers and cosmogonists of his time. According to him, the firmament is an arch of stone, the sun an inflammable body about as large as the ancient Peloponnesus, and the stars are stones whirled up from the surface of the earth by the swiftness of the circumambient air, which set them on fire, and gave them a circular motion. Diogenes was not satisfied with these theories. He declared the stars to be hot pumice stones, originally fixed in the sphere of the heavens, and serving as lamps in the night, but chiefly designed as breathing holes of the world. Other philosophers affirmed, that the sun was globular and hollow, containing fire within, which produced light by streaming out through a cavity on one side. When this cavity was stopped, the sun was eclipsed.
Aristotle believed the universe, sun, moon, stars, the earth, man, animals, plants, and all things else to be eternal, having always existed in the same general forms as at present. The business of world-making, therefore, he deemed a gratuitous work, and unworthy of a philosopher. Burnet has a long chapter to confute this notion of Aristotle, that the world is eternal, and to prove the science of cosmogony not to be of such trifling moment, as the Stagyrite would have it. But he was too much interested in the subject to be an impartial reasoner, as will be seen hereafter. In Plato's system, ideas and forms only existed from eternity, and the world and all substantial things were made, by uniting these ideas and forms to matter. Many are the deep speculations scattered through the ancients concerning the origin of things, the soul of the world, and the mundane egg. One sect believed the Deity himself to be the universe, and as late as the thirteenth century the body of poor Amalric was dug up and burned, on suspicion of his having abetted this tenet in his lifetime. The Persians had their Oromades and Arimanius, a good and evil principle, engaged in perpetual contention, till Mithras calmed their rage, and set them at work in forming a world. The Egyptians, Hindoos, and Chinese have not been deficient in schemes and theories of cosmogony
The Epicurean plan, which has made much noise in the world, and seems to have been for some time a sort of thriving heresy among the ancients, received its first elements from the genius and labors of Leucippus. This philosopher invented the doctrine of atoms, or original particles of matter, indivisible and indissoluble, out of which the earth and all terrestrial things were made. He advanced but a single step, however, in moulding these materials into a system, for when Democritus imbibed the sentiments of Leucippus, he found the entire mass of his predecessor's particles in a state of unutterable confusion, and desperate warfare. light into this abyss of contending atoms, and give rule to their wild disorder, Democritus perceived it necessary to impose wholesome restrictions and definite laws. He laid it down as an axiom, that the Aputa ugyeon, first magnitudes, as he called them, were eternal; and, also, that from eternity all these particles had possessed a uniform motion, each in the same direction, and with the same velocity. Thus prepared, he commenced the great work of constructing a world ; but how far he actually proceeded, or whether his accustomed employment, of laughing at the follies and vanity of mankind, allowed him leisure to prosecute bis task with suitable diligence, we have no means of being informed.
The merit of completing the structure belonged to Epicurus, a philosopher renowned for his brilliant genius, his exemplary virtues, and gentleness of manners, although many