صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

A P P E N D I X

To T H B . . MONTHLY REVIEW,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Oeuvres Philosophiques, Latines et Françoifes, de feu M. Leibnitz,&c.
The Philosophical Works of the late. Mr. Leibnitz, in Latin

and French, printed from his Manuscripts, preferved in his
Britannic Majesty's Library at 'Hanover."B. Mr. Raspe.
With a Preface by Mr. Kaetsrier, Professor of the Mathema..
ticks at Gottingen. 4to. Amsterdam and Leiplig. ;

[ocr errors]

Kance, he led, thould run form, thoi that the best

is invalidesh in a

AMONG the various obstacles to the progress of true A science, there is none greater than that fpirit of party, which absurdly attaches itself, to persons and hypotheses in general'; instead of abiding, by those particular: facts and arguments, which may posibly give a juft preference to the fystein they espouse, For, however useful it may be oir many accounts to prosecute science systematically, it is not to be expected, in the present imperfect state of human knowlege, that the best system which the brightest gennis can formi, ihould be exempt from error. Nor, indeed, thould such error, even though in a cápital instance, he always deemed sufficient to invalidate the whole of such system. It is naturer which originally inspires every true genius; the firft object of whose pursuit is undoubtedly the light of truth, howeyer it may be afterwards d'eceived by the falle glare, or fpecious appearances, of falshood. It is certain that Sir Isaac Newton hath demonstrate the vortices of Des Cartes, as they are represented by that philosopher, to be immechanical and visionary; but we are not to conclude, therefore, that the notion of vortices hath no foundation in nature. Perhaps, if the subject of the third part of the Principia were ftudied, and as well understood as the first and second, we thould discover no little reason to admire that amazing ingenuity in Des Cartes, which the superior precision ando fagacity of Newton App. Vol. XXXIII. LI.

hath

every het of truth fpecious appe demonftrat histolopher, there

rtain falle glare, truth, how object of which

hath so greatly obscured. The like may be faid of Leibnitz, the comprehensiveness of whose genius, was perhaps never paralleled since the days of Aristotle : but, corrected both by Newton and Locke, his glory was in like manner bedimmed by their united and more dazzling luftre. Are we therefore to conclude, that his monads were the fantastical pröduction of a visionary brain ? By no means. The monads of Leibnitz havo their foundation in nature, as well as the vortices of Des Cartes, and may in time be received, with some modification indeed, into a system of philosophy reconcilable to the mathematical principles of a Newton. At the same time, however, the material elements of the latter must be new modelled also ; for, though Newton had the advantage in the mathematical conclufions hę drew, from stated afluniptions, his physical elements were equally imaginary with those of Leibnitz and Des Cartes. The latter had also this advantage on their side, that, if they were milled by conjecture, they were misled in attempting to account for that which Newton was contented to know to be frye, or took for granted. The discoveries of Galileo, Kepler, and Gaflendi, very naturally suggested the principle of universal attraction, conceived as an effect : but the assumption of folid, inert, impenetrable masses of matter, as primary elements or physical first principles, would have been as exceptionable as any thing offered by Des Cartes or Leibnitz, had not the great founder of the Newtonian philosophy confined it solely within the limits of mathematical science. A mathematician finds no, difficulty in conceiving the infinite diyisibility of matter, because he imagines it to be something necessarily extended: nor, in- . deed, does' a Newtonian philosopher, who supposes all bodies. compounded of extended impenetrable elements, find any difficulty in conceiving the possibility of their being divided into such primary elements : but a philosopher, who would go deeper into the secrets of nature, and account for the phenomenon of extension itself, could never be satisfied with such kind of reasoning. It would be no solution to his query, to tell him that, a congeries of invisible elements formed a viable bady; for this, would only be faying, that a number of small bodies joined, together made a great one: and would be taking that for granted which is the object sought. The menads of Leibnitz, therefore, are at worst no ill-managed expedient to account for the extension of body. The misfortune is, that Leibnitz should have affumed none but physical elements, and he has taken up with thofe which are metaphysical or imaginary: for certain it is, that Wolfius was by no means singular, when he professed his doubt concerning the representative influence of such simple clements. This doctrine of the monads has been so long ex-, ploded indeed, especially in this country, that perhaps yery few

of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of the rising generation of metaphysicians perfectly understand it. We shall quote, therefore, Mr. Kaetsner's explanation of it in few words: Mr. Leibnitz does not pretend that body is composed of simple unextended elements : he endeavours only to account for the phenomenon of extension ; by saying that in the perception of extended objects we have a confused representation of a great number of beings not extended. Thus a telescope discovers to us a cluster of stars, which appear to the naked eye only as one confused spot of light. Now this spot is not composed of starš, as a whole is of its parts; ie is only a phenomenon that presents itself to organs of sight, too weak to diftinguish the stars.' Such, says Mr. Kaetsner, are the elements of Leibnitz. But the difficulty lies here: how do such elements, if perfectly simple, affect the senses; the operations of which are so extremely complicated? We agree with Mr. Kaetsner, that these principles are not to be coinbated by geometrical arguments; and yet they are evidently defective; though perhaps 'a very little improvement might serve to restore them to that respectable rank they once held in physical science.

Having admitted this, in favour of Mr. Leibnitz, Profesor

Kaetsner will please to reflect on the injustice he hath been guilty 20 of, in throwing out that national farcalin he hath couched under

his penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos; as if real philofophers were 23825 of any country, or could refuse to embrace and applaud the city truth, wherever and by whomsoever discovered! saclia The pieces contained in this posthumous publication are fix internet in number, and are entitleti as follows: 1. New essays on the tenatis, human understanding. 2. Remarks on the opinion of Father non Malbranche, concerning our seeing every thing in the deity, and

on Mr. Locke's examination of that opinion. 3. A dialogue des concerning the connection subsisting between words and things. 4.

Remarks on some peculiar difficulties in logical ratiocination. 5. when A discourse on the art of invention, and the method of arriving at ho philosophical certitude.' 6. An account of an universal lans guage and character, recommended as useful both for the purposes of invention and judgment. .

The first of these performances, of which much the greater be part of this volume consists, was fpoken of by Mr. Leibnitz, in

letter to Mr. Remond, published in Des Maiz-aux's collection of our Author's miscellancous pieces: the reason there assigned,

by this great philosopher, for not publishing them, being the What death of Mr. Locke. "I like not, says he, to publish a refu.

tation of the works of deceased authors, even though written with a view to make its appearance, and to be communicated

to them, during their lives.' How different was the noble and e disin terefted delitacy of this author to the more prudential tenderness affected by certain modern writers! .

L 1, 2

na

It is possible, however, as Mr. Raspe suggests, that he might have other motives helide. The important occupations in which he was engaged during the latter part of his life, might contribute not a little to the suppression of these papers, Add to this, that he haú already two controversies on his hands, the one with the Royal Society, and the other with Dr. Clarke; with which he was too fully engaged, to think of drawing upon himself another with the partizans of Mr. Locke; who would certainly have defended their masier, had he been then attacked. At present, indeed, metaphysical enquiry is at so low an ebb, and the delicacy of a Leibnitz so little known, particularly in England, · that the sentiments of Mr. Locke may be controverted, and even his memory disrespectfully treated with impunity. Mr. Ralpe exults on the revolution, which he pretends hath been effected in the philosophical world since that time, by the writings of Wolfius and oihers; in consequence of which the system of Leibnitz hath triumphed, and ttill triumphs in its turn. This, therefore, he hath judged a favourable opportunity, it seems, for the publication of ihese essays, in order, no doubt, to compleat .the imaginary downfall of Mr. Locke's system. : We do not apprehend, however, notwithstanding the far

guine hopes of this Editor, that matters are as yet quite fodefperate with the influence and reputation of our late celebrated English philosopher. It is true, indeed, that metaphysical learniing is become greatly neglected, and in some degree despised, from the prevailing talte fur physical experiment; which, however useful in its proper place, hath given rise to such a multiplicity of inere mechanical observers, and at the same time hath invested them with such importance, that we could mention many persons dignified with the title of philosophers, whose fole accomplishment is the manual exercise of a mathematical or optical instrument. But, if thele are philosophers, how many different classes must there be in the scale of gradation, betweck them and a Locke or a Leibnitz! It is certain also that tbe application of real genius, either to mathematics or to lighter ! studies, hath rendered metaphysics of late a barren field. Nar: so much is English philosophy degenerated since the time of Locke, that, in confirmation as it were of Mr. Raspe's obscivation, the notions of Leibnitz himself, respecting innate ideas, have been recently revived in a treatise which hath already us! dergone two impressions. But notwithstanding all this, we have reason to believe there are still remaining a sufficient number of advocates for Mr. Locke's opinions; who, though they do noi pefter the public with a subject at present unpopular, are to man, capable of justifying him in most points against the argt ments of any living writer, or even of the immortal Author a the essays before us.

Tha

That we may not be accused, however, of partiality to Mr. Locke, or his followers, we shall give a specimen of the argu-' ments comprized in this work, regarding several points, in which Mr. Leibnitz differs from the author of the Estay on the Human Understanding.

After paying the latter a very high compliment, on his writings in general, he thus speaks of the difference between their two systems : • The author of the Eflay on the Human Understanding, has undoubtedly said a number of good things which I admire and approve; there is a considerable difference, however, between his system and mine. His resembles that of Aristotle, mine that of Plato ; although both of us depart, in many instances, very far from the doctrine of those two ancients. Mr. Locke writes in a popular manner, while I am sometimes obliged to be more deep and abstruse, which is by no means an advantage on my fide.'— As to the subjects of our difference, they are of some importance. The first relates to the questions, Whether the soul is originally a tabula rasa, according to Aristotle and Mr. Locke ; every sentiment impressed thereon being the mere effect of sense and experience ? or, Whether it is not primarily invested with the principles of several notions and doccrines, which are only occasionally revived by external objecis ? as I conceive it, together with Plato, with the schools, and with all those who construe that passage of St. Paul to the Romans; where he observes that the law of God is written 'in our , hearts.' In the solution of these questions arises a third, viz. Whether all cruths depend on experience; that is to say, on induction and examples ; or whether there may not be some which are deduced from some other source ? For if there be any kind of event whatever, which may be foreseen antecedent to any experiment, it is manifest that such foreknowledge is in fome degree inherent in ourselves. The senses, however necelsary to the acquisition of all actual or experimental knowlege, are not capable of furnilhing us with cvery kind of intelligence; for the senses furnish us only with examples or experiments of particular truths. Now the experiments, serving to confirm a general truth, however numerous, are not suficient to establish the universal necessity of it: for it does not absolutely follow, that what hath happened under certain circumstances, though it may have happened ever so often, will always continue to do the same. Hence it appears that such necessary truths as are investigated in pure mathematics, particularly in arithmetic and geometry, must be founded on principles; the proof of which doch not depend on experience, nor of course on the testimony of the senses, although without the senses it is certain we should never have thought about them. This is a very necesary distinction, and is what was fo perfe&ly comprehended by Euclid, LI 3

who

« السابقةمتابعة »