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mass of materials. He will be in danger of coming to the conclusion, that no settled and definite principles can be gathered, from such a series of conflicting opinions.
Is it then true that the laws of the operations of the mind, are not susceptible of reduction to order and system? We are far from asserting or believing this. The task of throwing the researches of the last two centuries on the subject into the form of a regular science, and giving symmetry and beauty to the structure, is indeed an arduous one ; too arduous for a mind of ordinary powers ; and yet too humble, as we fear it will be thought, for the ambition of one who is competent to the task. Too low an estimate is formed, we think, both of the difficulty, and the utility of composing suitable elementary compendiums, especially text-books for the instruction of youth. The man of real talent, if he condescends to enter so plain a field of labor, is in continual danger of soaring above his work, in the more elevated region of original invention. The man of ordinary capacity, is too often satisfied with making a patch-work collection; a mere book of extracts. Neither of these methods is adapted to the design of an elementary treatise. We justly award the most exalted praise to originality of genius. But the latest discoveries cannot claim the exclusive attention of one who is just entering on the study of a science. Nearly all its truths are equally now to him. He ought first to become familiar with those which are the most simple, the most fundamental, the least liable to be shaken by controversy. These, if well fixed in his mind, will be principles by which he may test the pretensions of more dubious points. Whoever undertakes to write a compendium of mental philosophy, ought to give us, not solely or principally his own original investigations; but the treasures, which, for centuries, have been accumulating, by the successive labors of the great masters of science. In works of imagination, the more widely authors differ from each other, the better,
“ Pictoribus atque poctis, Quidlibet audendi semper fuit æqua potestas."
But in systematic books of science, the writers must, on many points, agree with those who have gone before them; or affect originality, at the expense of truth. Fiction may be endlessly diversified, philosophy must conform to the realities of nature.
But although the writer of a scientific compendium, must gather his materials principally from others; the language should be wrought into his own peculiar style. It is too often the case, that a c'ementary treatise is a heterogeneous compound, of the varied forms of expression in the authors from whom the principles have been derived. In this confusion of tongues, how is the young philo
sopher to decipher the meaning? After fixing the signification of a term, in a passage taken, perhaps, from Locke, he finds the same word, in extracts from Reid or Stewart, with a very different meaning; and that, without any intimation of the change. He who undertakes, at the present day, to compile a text-book in mental philosophy, ought to make himself familiar with the works of the most distinguished modern writers, at least, on the subject. From these he should select, with nice discrimination, the most important materials; the most fundamental and well determined principles; adding also, from his own resources, whatever he may have originated of a similar character; giving no undue preference, however, to his own discoveries.
He should then arrange the parts in such a manner, as to give unity and symmetry to the work; writing the whole anew, in his own proper style ; that the reader may find a consistency of thought and expression running through the entire composition. Such a compilation would stand some chance of being well understood.
Mr. Payne's book is not, we think, exactly of this character. We are not prepared, however, to pass a censure on the work. Our principal complaint is against the title. He who expects to find it a well digested view of the “ Elements of Mental and Moral Science,” will probably find himself disappointed. It might with more propriety, perhaps, be denominated a Commentary on the Lectures of Dr. Brown. It abounds in extracts from this bold and splendid writer. Yet the other English and Scotch philosophers, are not passed by, without a share of his attention. “He has endeavored at least to think for himself; and though he has mainly adopted the views and the system of the late Dr. Thomas Brown, the attentive reader will perceive, that he differs from that writer, on several important points.” Preface, p. iv. The book is, perhaps, not the less valuable for being, to so great an extent, a commentary upon others, especially upon Dr. Brown, to whose writings fair and friendly criticism may be applied with great advantage. He thought and wrote rapidly. His Lectures, hastily composed, were left without being prepared by his own hand for publication. More distinguished for originality of conception, than for cautious balancing of the judgment, he has spread before us the native treasures of his mind; to be wrought, and refined, and weighed, by men of more deliberate and rigorous habits of thinking.
It would be idle, for us to attempt a minute examination of the various opinions advanced in Mr. Payne's book. This would only be adding to the successive commentaries which are already laid one upon another, six or eight deep. We shall only hazard a few miscellaneous observations, upon the modern school of infellectual philosophy in Scotland. Since the days of Berkeley,
these writers have made greater advances in this science, than their neighbors in England. We are disposed to ascribe to them the most valuable improvements which have been made, in this difficult field of investigation, during the last half century. They have corrected some of the errors of Locke, the illustrious founder of the modern system of mental philosophy; and have prepared many appendages and decorations for the sold and enduring structure which he had reared. But with all their improvements, we hesitate to yield to them the merit which they seem to claim for themselves, especially Dr. Reid and Dr. Brown, of having introduced and supported a new pliilosophy. While we readily admit, that their pretensions to original discovery are frequently well founded; we think we sometimes observe an affectation of originality, when there is little
to warrant the claim. We have a striking specimen of this, in Dr. Reid's remarks on the species or ideas of Plato and Aristotle. He seems to think that he has demolished at a single stroke, the whole fabric of Locke, as well as the theories of Berkeley and Hume. He has shown that Aristotle's ideal system is altogether hypothetical ; though we doubt whether he was the first to do even this. But in doing it, he seems to think that he has overthrown all other ideal systems; though they may have nothing in common with this, but the name. Mr. Locke uses the word idea, as he most expressly and repeatedly tells us, to signify the object of thought. As he takes it for granted, that when a man thinks, he is thinking about something, either real or imaginary, that something is an idea ; that is, whenever a man thinks, he has ideas, in the sense of Mr. Locke. And as his whole essay on the human understanding, is on the subject of thinking, the word idea occurs in every page; not with the meaning of Aristotle or Plato, but signifying the object of thought. This is the ideal system of Mr. Locke. It will be overthrown, when any philosopher can show, that in thinking, we always think about nothing.
Dr. Brown has satisfactorily shown, that Dr. Reid's confutation of idealism, has no application to the great work of Mr. Locke. But he has furnished, as we think, on his own part, a striking instance of affectation of originality, in the observations which he has made on the doctrine of nominalism. Indeed, we have been at a loss to know how to exonerate him, from the suspicion of intentional misrepresentation on this point. Can it be, that a mind so richly stored as Dr. Brown's, was so profoundly ignorant, with respect to the views of other distinguished writers, on a subject which occupies more than two whole lectures to his class? He represents it to be a doctrine of the nominalists, that the classifying of the objects around us, dividing them into genera and species, and applying to them general names, is altogether arbitrary. He
states, or seems to state, that, according to these philosophers, there is no reason why a rose-bush should not be classed with birds, or an elephant with fish; that they exclude the general feeling of resemblance, which the general name designates. In this, according to Dr. B., consists the absurdity of nominalism.*
Let these men speak for themselves, especially Dugald Stewart, who was Dr. B.'s predecessor in the chair of Philosophy; with whose writings, one would suppose, he must have been very familiar; and who, with Hobbes, Berkeley, Hume, and Campbell, he says, was a nominalist, in the strictest sense of the term. p. 190. Do they deny, that classification is founded on resemblance ? Stewart, in explaining the doctrine of the nominalists, says, “ That idea which the ancient philosophers considered as the essence of an individual, is nothing more than the particular quality or qualities, in which it resembles other individuals of the same class, and in consequence of which, the general name is applied to it. It is the possession of this quality, that entitles the individual to the generic appellation; and which may therefore be said to be essential to its classification with that particular genus.”+
“Genera and species are mere arbitrary creations, which the human mind forms, by withdrawing the attention from the distinguishing qualities of objects, and giving a common name to their resembling qualities." p. 123.
Again, “ In the same manner in which our external senses are struck with that resemblance between different individuals, which gives rise to a common appellation, the superior faculties of observation and reasoning enable us to trace those more distant and refined similitudes, which lead us to comprehend different species under one common genus.” Vol. II. p. 218. Dr. Campbell says, “Our earliest experiences imply, or perhaps generate, the notion of a species, including all those individuals which have the most obvious and universal resemblance." I "As our acquaintance with nature enlarges, we discover resemblances of a striking and important nature, between one species and another, which naturally begets the notion of a genus. Amongst all the individuals of a species, or even of the most extensive genus, there is still a natural connection, as they agree in the specific or generic character."'S
That the classification of objects is founded on resemblance is, then, as explicitly stated by the nominalists, as by Dr. Brown himself. It is true, they do not agree with him, in representing com
* Brown's Lect. Andover edit. Vol. II. pp. 192, 3.
+ Stewart's Philos. Boston edit. 1818. Vol. I. p. 100. | Phil. Rhet. Vol. I. p. 115. Phil. Rhet. Vol. II. 96.
mon names as meaning resemblance, or feelings of resemblance, and nothing else. They do not suppose, that the word horse or Ox stands for the “felt resemblance” between one animal and another; that when we are speaking of the birds of the air, we are talking, not of any living objects, but only of their resemblances ; that when a traveler at an inn calls for a dinner, he expects to satisfy his appetite with the likeness of one meal to another. But Dr.
general terms are expressive of our own internal feelings of resemblance, and and of nothing more.”* “ That general feeling of resemblance, the relative suggestion, is all that the general name itself truly designates.” p. 193. For example, the feeling of resemblance between one book and another, is all that is meant by the general term book. On this point, we must concede to Dr. Brown his full claim to originality. From bis view of the application of general names to the notion or relation of resemblance, he derives his title to the denomination of notionist or relationist. II. 206.
But after all, we are not quite sure, that we are in possession of the exact meaning of Dr. Brown, in the passages just quoted, though it appears to be so explicitly stated. For in other places, he seems to speak of general terms as expressing, not the relation of resemblance, but the common properties between which the relation subsists. “We perceive two or more objects. We are struck with the feeling of their resemblance. We then give a name to these circumstances of felt resemblance." II. 201. circumstances in which all individual men agree, form my general notion of man, or human nature. When I use the term man,
I employ it to express every being in whom these circumstances are to be found.” p. 202. Here the word man is made to stand for a being, and not merely for the feeling of resemblance between one being and another. Again, “ The general term is invented, to express all that multitude of objects, which agree in exciting one common feeling of relation—the relation of a certain similarity.” p. 206. i. e. A general term expresses, not the mere notion of resemblance, but a class of objects between which the resemblance subsists; a number of individuals possessing common properties. And what is this but downright nominalism; that very nominalism, the absurdity of which, Dr. Brown has so zealously labored to expose !
We are surprised to find, that Mr. Payne (p. 249) has apparently taken upon trust, the representations of Dr. Brown on this subject; and adopting his phraseology, speaks, at one time, of general terms, as expressing the mere relation of resemblance ; which is the notionism of Dr. Brown ; at another time, as expres
* Lect. Vol. II. pp. 184, 6, 7.