« PreviousContinue »
mysteriously conceived, can avoid the grand fact that figures are conjoined with our ideas.
PROP. V. Dr. Reid teaches one point of analogy
between ideas and an external thing; which justifics the present view.
In demonstrating that perceived figure is conjoint with sensation, there is an acknowledgment of one point of analogy between the two; which Dr. Reid muinly denies: but yet, I never suppose that the sensation itself is a mere image, copy, or pattern, of an external cause of perception. I do, after perception of figure by sense, intellectually infer the existence of an external cause, which I do not perceive; and conclude, farther, that this cause resembles THE FIGURE I do perceive: but, I find a vast dissimilarity between the perceived figure, and the sensation to which it is attached.
This, also, appears to be the main doctrine of resemblance intended by Locke, however differently it may be understood. The great radical difference between his theory and the present view, arises from his occasionally employing the word idea, to convey a very different import from his best sense of it; and, by that confusion, leaving it open to suppose, that he considered ideas to be intermediate loose beings, operating between the mind and external bodies: or, in other words, that he adopted the old ideal theory itself. This, if supposed, leaves neither any proof of the existence of bodies, nor indeed any evident use for their existence, But when, on the contrary, we admit the fact, that perceived figure is agitated upon the exterior of the percipient itself, no room remains for either doubt or deception, in concluding that the mind is necessarily extended : and, thereupon, appears the highest utility in the extension of bodies, as well as the most natural demand, for an agreement between their figures, and the perceived impressions they make on the percipient by the medium of our sensual organs.
Now, one point of analogy being freely admitted above, the only thing wanting is to show (contrary to a scholastic opinion,) that such analogy does exist : 'and this will be done in the most satisfactory manner if, in addition to parallel cases, it be shown, that Dr. Reid himself has, upon a very sound principle, proved, that our ideas do actually in one point resemble an external inert thing.
First then,-The school of Reid will allow, that we never perceive time except in conjunction with our sensations, or ideas : and yet it will agree, that sensations, or ideas, are essentially different things from time.
Secondly,—External body is never perceived except in conjunction with space : and yet it will be granted, by that school, that body and space are essentially different.
These two conspicuous parallel instances of analogy are so undeniably applicable, that nothing farther need be said in illustration. But, what must put an end to all difference in opinion herein, Dr. Reid himself, in his “ Essay on the Intel. Powers," Ess. 3. Ch. 5. has very justly argued against Locke, (who supposed that we perceive no duration without a succession of ideas) that each one of our ideas is extended in time: and, among other reasonings, he observes, “ Now, that one idea should seem to have no duration, and that a multiplication of that no duration should seem to have duration, appears to me as impossible as that the multiplication of nothing should produce something” - His reasoning here is just, but what follows? why, that as each of such ideas measure duration, they are in one point a perfect resemblance of an external and inert thing.-- Dr. Reid probably did not see the fatal consequence to his general doctrine, of this broad fact; but it is highly evident, that an idea which measures time, is as much a resemblance of time, as an idea which measures extension resembles extension. And it is no less obvious, that time is as much an external, unlike, and inert thing, as extension can be supposed; while indeed we may strongly doubt whether extension be not a quality, exclusively, of a sentient substance.
In this discussion I have no desire but that truth may be brought to light. I have viewed Dr. Reid's statement with this desire
only; but am reduced to think, that no human genius can defend his general doctrine against this blow which his own acumen has assisted in giving it, letting alone all else that I have advanced.
Prop. VI. Locke was virtually an Extensionist ;
Hume a professed one ; and Berkeley no less, but only denied the reality of Extension.
It is too obvious to require illustration, that Locke's doctrine of ideas makes him an extensionist in every thing but formal acknowledgment. And he even expresses it “ very hard to conceive any real being with a perfect negation of all manner of extension.” So strongly did he feel that, which respect for scholastic opinion prevented his decidedly adopting ; and his endeavour to avoid which, has led him into obscurity, inconsistency, and confusion.
Mr. Hume, adhering in this case to fact only, without paying respect to any Hypothesis, decided that if the fact proved the Mind's existence at all, it proved it extended,
The real foundation of Berkeley's idealism is, evidently, the dogma of the Mind's inextension, upon which he grafted the true principle held in common with Locke and Hume, that perceived Figure is conjoint with sensation. This fact of conjunction I have labored to prove by innumerable evidences; and, in adopting it, the Bishop might say (in one sense,) as he did, that perceived Figure is no-thing but a sensation or idea.-It then only remains, to ascertain the nature of this one thing, as to whether simple or compound.
Now I think it may be presumed (especially as he held all * perception to be in his Mind only) that Berkeley never turned to
inquire the nature of external causes, until after he had made up his Mind as to the nature of the effect within himself. And here, the strong conviction natural in all men would have satisfied him, that he was not more certain of his Sensations, than of the real u be shown, frowshing else bile în Sect. 89
Extension of the Figures they betray. But in this appeal to his own Mind he was met by a pre-established overwhelming dogma of its, “INDIVISIBILITY;" and, yielding faith to it, rejected the plainest evidence of his senses.
Here it may be shown, from a passage in the “ Principles of Human Knowledge," that nothing else but the dogma need have forced its author to such conclusions. In Sect. 89 it is said, “ Thing or being is the most general name of all; it comprehends under it two kinds entirely distinct and heterogeneous, and which have nothing common but the name, to wit, spirits and ideas. The former are active, indivisible substances ; the latter are inert, fleeting, dependent beings, which subsist not by themselves, but are supported by, or exist in, Minds or spiritual substances.”
Now, if such a conjunction of opposites exists in Minds with Ideas, I ask, why may not Sensation as well exist conjoint with real Extension? This question, too, has the more force, if Berkeley's conclusion be adopted, that the external cause of Sensation is an intelligent Being : and this is strengthened by the conclusion of Newton, Clark, and others, that the infinite Mind is infinitely and properly extended.-I think it becomes manifest that the author of idealism annihilated all sorts of real Extension, not on the evidence of facts in perception, but by most unjustly subjecting the facts, to that dogma whose power has so extensively appeared in this inquiry.
Whether external body be inert, or the contrary, has not been a direct object in this inquiry.--It was vastly more important to ascertain what is within our reach, that is, to have shown that upon either hypothesis there appears no reason why ideas and Minds may not be extended; and this, I trust, is fully established.
Yet, making the supposition that the external cause of Sensation is an intelligent Being, (as several Philosophers have supposed,) it here becomes proper to point out a farther vast difference between the Scheme of Berkeley and the present View, over and above the difference concerning real Extension. The doctrine of idealism rigidly demands, that the Deity must have, “ Similar Sensations and ideas.” to those we have : and I think this unavoidably involves Pains, Appetites, Passions, limited Judge ments, Fallacy, and Folly itself ; the bare mention of which is equally impious and absurd. But, contrary to this, my view of the subject leaves it open, to suppose the Extended Substance of the Omnipresent Being to operate, upon finite extended Minds, by constant laws, or ordered phenomena ; which, owing to their invariable order, we mistake for the instrumentality of some inert Thing. This avoids the shocking supposition that the “thoughts of God” are like the “ thoughts of man.” It also avoids the difficulty concerning the Creation of Matter. And it appears not incompatible with the latest hypoihesis of Matter itself, resulting from the strong presumption of its total insolidity.--- Whether or not this view be real, it at least appears grandly simple; while it is, doubtless, a noble conception that nothing is created but what can both adore the power, and feel the goodness, of the Creator. It is, therefore, perhaps, a most rational conjecture that, with allowance for finite Minds, God is substantially every where.
PROP. VII. Reid's Objection Concerning a Double Ob
ject of Perception is not Founded on Experience.
There is an objection against Locke's doctrine, upon which Dr. Reid has laid much stress, that if we perceive nothing but our ideas, and yet refer to external Objects, we must have a double, or a confused, object of perception. This objection, I freely confess, must operate equally against Figures agitated upon the Percipient; but I think it is an argument not drawn from the particular fact in question, because the sure test of experience very extensively contradicts it.
If a man were in the habit of sitting surrounded by a loose Curtain, and if different sorts of things were frequently thrust against