« السابقةمتابعة »
obtain an indubitable assurance that such principles must be wrong. But from defects and blemishes, we turn to some of those intrinsic excellences which this volume possesses ; and after giving the general outline of the work, little more will be necessary, than to present the reader with a few extracts, which will supersede the necessity of much ariis madversion.
Mr. Scott's treatise is divided into eight chapters, and these are again sub-divided into various sections ; the whole work is finally completed by an appendix, which treats of mathematical reasoning, and of the induction of physical and metaphysical Science.
In conducting this analysis, Mr. Scott proposes,
• To adopt the following arrangement : 1st. To treat of consciousness, or that faculty or mode of human thought, by which the various powers of our minds are made known to us. 2d. Sensation, or the faculty by which we experience pleasing or painful effects from various objects through the medium of the senses. 3d. Perception, the faculty by which we are informed of the properties of external objects, in consequence of the impressions they make on the organs of sense, 4th. Abstraction, the faculty by which we analyse objects of consciousness, sensation, or perception, &c. and contemplate their various properties apart from each bther. 5th. Așsociation, or combination, the faculty by which we con, nect together these objects, according to various relations, essential or accidental, so that they are suggested to us, the one by the other. 6th. Conception, the faculty by which we represent to our minds the objects of any of our other faculties, variously modified. 7th. Memory, the faculty by which the mind has a knowledge of what it had formerly perceived, felt, or thought; and, Sth. Reason, the faculty by which we are made acquainted with abstract or necessary truth; and enabled to discover the essential relations of things.?
In pursuing this plan, our author adopts, for the most part, the main principles of Dr. Reid's system ; and, in imitation of that illustrious philosopher, he has defined, in bis introduce tion, the various terms which designate his chapters; he is entitled to public approbation for that marked precision, with which he bas in general introduced his definitions. We say in general, for the distinction which he has made between perception and conception, should perhaps be excepted, * Perception," (says Mr. Scott,) " is the faculty by which we are inforined of the properties of external objects, in consequence of the impressions they make on the organs of
" Conception," he observes " is the faculty by which we represent to our minds, the objects of any of our other faculties variously modified."
The term faculty, which so frequently recurs through the whole work, is certainly used sonetimes in a sense, which
in itself is liable to misconception ; but this is judiciously obviated in the following explanatory note.
"! The terms facully, operation, or poreer of the mind, have long been employed, to denote the various phenomena of human thought. It ought, however, carefully to be remembered, that by the various faculties of the human mind, we do not mean any separate and independent energies, which may be supposed to unite in forming the mind itself, but merely different modes of action, of the same thinking principle." Adopting then the term faculty as synonymous with a mode of action of the same thinking principle, we are satisfied with its use, in cases where we should otherwise have found some occasion to object.
The ambiguity which seems almost inseparable from all complex terms, is certainly one, perhaps the primary, source of error.
And to this cause, we may probably attribute many of those unmeaning disputes which have distracted the world, hardly affording it the stinted recompense of amusement, or imparting one ray of light, to guide the inquiring mind through encircling obscurity.
In taking a survey of the various theories which have been adopted, Mr. Scott's comprehensive mind has been expanded to the utmost extent; and he seems to have made himself completely master of the history and principles of the various systems which have disputed the throne of metaphysics. In many cases he has justly exposed the absurdities of those opinions, on which so much ingenuity has been exerted to degrade the mental powers; and we feel no hesitation in acknowledging, that he has applied his remedies with a masterly hand. On these points the reader will form some conception from the following extract, from the third chapter, which treats on the evidence of the senses.
* The most obvious objection to this doctrine, of the immediate and irresistible belief which accompanies perception, arises from the opinion so often inculcated by philosophers, of the fallacy of the senses. Almost all the ancient philosophical sects, Atomists, Academics, Peripatetics, and Sceptics, strenuously espoused this opinion, and illustrated it by many common-place arguments ; such as the crooked appearance of a stick in the water ; objects being magnified, and their distance. mistaken in a fog; the Sun and Moon appearing but a few inches in diameter, while they are really thousands of miles ; a square tower being taken for a round one ; and so forth. These, and
appearances, they thought were sufficiently accounted for, by ascribing them to the fallacy of the senses, which thus served like the substantial forms, and pccult qualities, as a decent cover for their ignorance. Descartes, and most of the modern metaphysicians, have joined in the same complaint of the fallacy of the senses ; a doctrine which was very suitable to that
system, which represented the perfection of philosophy as consisting in doubt.
• When we consider that the active part of mankind, in all ages, from the beginning of the world, have rested their most important concerns upon the testimony of sense, it will be very difficult to reconcile their conduct with this so generally received opinion of the fallacy of the senses. It must be acknowledged, that our senses are limited and imperfect, liable to injury and misapplication ; but this they have in common with our memory, our judgment, and all our other faculties ; and, in many important objects of knowledge it will be found that we have no other legitimate sources of information. The fact is, that in many of those instances, which we call deceptions of sense, the error is not in the information which the senses give us, but in the judgment or conclusion which we deduce from their evidence. Thus, if I mistake the picture of a cabe, or of a sphere, delineated upon a plane surface, for these solid bodies themselves, the error is not in the eye ; for it has fulfilled its office, by giving me information of the form, colour, apparent magnitude, &c. of the object perceived. but when I deduce from these perceptions, that the object perceived is a solid, and not a plane, I am guilty of a piece of false reasoning, so that, in fact, the fallacy here is not in the senses, but in the conclusions of reason. But what places the evidence of the senses in the most convincing light, is that it is by their means alone, that we are able to detect this fallacy. In the case just mentioned, we might reason for ever, without being able to determine whether we saw a plane or a solid body ; but we can at once settle the question, by going so near as to see its appearance more distinctly, or yet nore certainly by the help of the sense of touch, whose proper province it is to perceive the dimension of solidity.
• The same reasonings may be applied to other instances which are ascribed to the fallacy of sense. In fact, therefore, the source of error in these cases is in the faculty of reason, which is much more liable to mistake, than the senses are. In the most important concerns of mankind, as in trials for life and death, the evidence of sense, that is, of
eye and ear witnesses of veracity, is admitted by the judge, as the proper ground of his decision. But the reasonings of a counsel are fully weighed and scrutinized, and admitted with much limitation; and if, as Dr. Reid remarks, a sceptical counsel should plead that we ought not to put so much faith in our senses as to deprive men of their lives and fortunes
upon their testimony, such an argument would be rejected with disdain. It is therefore stronger than any kind of reasoning, except demonstration ; and those sceptical philosophers who have substituted the conclusions of their own hypothetical systems, in the room of the evidence of sense, have been guilty of a complete paralogism, or an admission of the less evident, in room of the more evident.' fp. 98--102.
The reasoning advanced in the above extract, we hesitate not to say, is clear, comprehensive, and decisive. It enters into the essence of the question, and meets the objection manfully, without baving recourse to stratagem or evasion. Such reasoning, probably, the reader will concur with us in saying, imparts conviction to the mind, while it dispels the
vapours, which false philosophy has been so industrious in raising.
Nor must the reader imagine, that the work itself contains but a few solitary instances of such specimens as we have given. On the contrary, acuteness in various degrees is conspicuous in every page..
In his chapter on Abstraction, Mr. Scott has the following passage.
Had we possessed no such faculty as abstraction, it is evident that all our knowledge would have been limited to an acquaintance with individual beings, and individual facts. But the very essence of science consists in generalizing, and reducing to a few classes, or general principles, the multitude of individual things, which every branch of human knowledge embraces. Hence, without abstraction, science could have had no existence; and the knowledge of man would have been, like that of the lower animals, in which no traces of this faculty are discernible, circumscribed to an acquaintance with those objects and events in nature with which he was connected by a regard to his own preservation and well being.' p. 106.
On such passages it is almost needless to make any comment: The sentiments are strong and convincing ; they assert tlie dignity of human nature, and must find a mirror in every enlightened breast. Of their truth we cannot possibly doubt; and the instant that we admit them, our views are carried to the full assurance, that an immaterial principle must exist within us, in which alone this faculty of abstraction must inhere. It becomes an evidence of this sacred principle; asserting at once the pre-eminence of man, by demonstrating the existence of what never can be transferred.
" The original intention of this work, was merely to furnish a text book for part of the author's academical course. In this capacity, and as a work which marks those prominent errors which have prevailed in the philosophical world, we strongly recommend it to the attention of the public. And, though we cannot follow Mr. Scott in every step of his investigations, it is but justice to observe, that he has done much toward the establishment, upon unquestionable principles, of a clear analysis of the powers of the human understanding.
The concluding chapters of the work are ingenious and pleasing ; in the first, the insufficiency of the definitions and axioms of mathematical reasoning is clearly established ; and the second gives the history and rules of the inductive process in physical science; the third points out the causes of error in metaphysical research, and slightly notices the relation of the principles now maintained to a rational systein of logic.
Art. VIII. Miscellaneous Poetical Translations. To which is added, a Latin
Prize Essay. By the Rev. Francis Howes, A. M. 8vo. pp. 143,
Price 45. Mawman, 1806. THIS volume opens with a translation of fourteen odes from
Anacreon; their chief characteristic is simplicity; and to this praise, some of them deserve that we should add that of neatness and elegance. The reader will form his own judg. ment from our specimens.
The following is taken from the ninth ode, Eis tepisepær.
ON HIS DOVE.
“ I am Anacreon's faithful dove,
he'll set me free,
I resolve to serve him still." It is a defect in this, and in most of the translations, that the measure of the lines is frequently and inconveniently changed.
We should not expect naida Badurter to be rendered otherwise than by favourite fair. We wish indeed, that a like delicacy were observed in changing the costume of all the aijcient classics. It is awful to think that the most amiable poets and philosophers of other times, are exposed to charges which the mouth of a Christian shrinks from uttering:
The nervous simplicity and point of the following lines, it will not perhaps be easy to excel.
« To love is painful, it is true;
To love, and not be lov'd again!" Notwithstanding the sense in these translations is well preserved, yet we think as much elegance is by no means incompatible with more fidelity.
The specimens from Catullus, and Theocritus, are certainly