« السابقةمتابعة »
partes tribuerunt, alque inde fidissima scientiis præsidia comparari puiarunt, verissime et optime viderunt intellectum humanum sibi permissum merito suspectum esse debere. Verum infirmior omnino est malo medicina; nec ipsa mali expers. Siquidem dialectica, quæ recepta est, licet ad civilia et artes, quæ in sermone et opinione posita sunt, rectissime adhibeatur ; naturæ tamen subtilitalem, longo intervallo non attingit, et prensando quod non capit, ad errores potius stabiliendos et quasi figendos, quam ad viam veritati aperiendam valuit.
"They, says he, who attributed so much to logic, perceived very well and truly, that it was not safe to trust the understanding to itself, without the guard of any rules. But the remedy reached not the evil, but became a part of it for the logic which took place, though it might do well enough in civil affairs, and the arts which consisted in talk and opinion; yet comes very far short of subtilty in the real performances of nature, and catching at what it cannot reach, has served to confirm and establish errors, rather than to open a way to truth." And therefore a little after he says, "That it is absolutely necessary that a better and perfecter use and employment of the mind and understanding should be introduced." "Necessario requiretur ut melior et perfectior mentis et intellectus humani uses et adoperatio introducatur."
§ 2. Parts.
THERE is, it is visible, great variety in men's understandings, and their natural constitutions put so wide a difference between some men in this respect, that art and industry would never be able to master; and their very natures seem to want a foundation to raise on it that which other men easily attain untoAmongst men of equal education there is great inequality of parts. And the woods of America, as well as the schools of Athens, produce men of several abilities in the same kind. Though this be so, yet I imagine most men come very short of what they might attain unto in their several degrees by a neglect of their understandings. A few rules of logic are thought sufficient in this case for those who pretend to the highest improvement; whereas, I think there are a great many natural defects in the understanding capable of amendment, which are overlooked and wholly neglected. And it is easy to perceive that men are guilty of a great many faults in the exercise and improvement of this faculty of the mind, which hinder them in their progress, and keep them in ignorance and error all their lives. Some of them I shall take notice of, and endeavour to point out proper remedies for in the following discourse.
§ 3. Reasoning
BESIDES the want of determined ideas, and of sagacity, and exercise in finding out, and laying in order intermediate ideas, there are three miscarriages that men are guilty of in reference to their reason, whereby this faculty is hindered in them from that service it might do and was designed for. And he that reflects upon the actions and discourses of mankind, will find their defects in this kind very frequent, and very observable.
1. The first is of those who seldom reason at all, but do and think according to the example of others, whether parents, neighbours, ministers, or who else they are pleased to make choice of to have an implicit faith in, for the saving of themselves the pains and trouble of thinking and examining for themselves.
2. The second is of those who put passion in the place of reason, and being resolved that shall govern their actions and arguments, neither use their own, nor hearken to other people's reason, any farther than it suits their humour, interest, or party; and these one may observe commonly content themselves with words which have no distinct ideas to them, though, in other matters that they come with an unbiassed indifferency to, they
want not abilities to talk and hear reason, where they have no secret inclination that hinders them from being tractable to it.
From this deWe see but in
3. The third sort is of those who readily and sincerely follow reason, but for want of having that which one may call large, sound, round-about sense, have not a full view of all that relates to the question, and may be of moment to decide it. We are all shortsighted, and very often see but one side of a matter; our views are not extended to all that has a connection with it. fect I think no man is free. part, and we know but in part, and therefore it is no wonder we conclude not right from our partial views. This might instruct the proudest esteemer of his own parts, how useful it is to talk and consult with others, even such as come short of him in capacity, quickness and penetration: for, since no one sees all, and we generally have different prospects of the same thing, according to our different, as I may say, positions to it, it is not incongruous to think, nor beneath any man to try, whether another may not have notions of things which have escaped him, and which his reason would make use of if they came into his mind. The faculty of reasoning seldom or never deceives those who trust to it; its consequences from what it builds on are evident
and certain, but that which it oftenest, if not only, misleads us in, is, that the principles from which we conclude, the grounds upon which we bottom our reasoning, are but a part, something is left out which should go into the reckoning to make it just and exacty Here we may imagine a vast and almost infinite advantage that angels and separate spirits may have over us; who, in their several degrees of elevation above us, may be endowed with more comprehensive faculties, and some of them perhaps having perfect and exact views of all finite beings that come under their consideration, can as it were, in the twinkling of an eye, collect together all their scattered and almost boundless relacions. A mind so furnished, what reason has it to acquiesce in the certainty of its conclusions!
In this we may see the reason why some men of study and thought, that reason right, and are lovers of truth, do make no great advances in their discoveries of it. Error and truth are uncertainly blended in their minds; their decisions are lame and defective, and they are very often mistaken in their judgments: the reason whereof is, they converse but with one sort of men, they read but one sort of books, they will not come in the hearing but of one sort of notions; the truth is they canton out to themselves a little Goshen in the intellectual world, where light