תמונות בעמוד

Of the “ mode of acquiring knowledge by way of in. ference and logical deduction,” Mr. Cogan endeavours to treat in such a manner as not to preclude his opposi. tion to Beattie's doctrine of common sense; but, we judge, in vain; for while Beattie is inaccurate and redundant in his language, his doctrine, that from our constitution, and not from any course of reasoning, we judge certain pro. positions to be true, is sufficiently plain, and is even sup. ported by our author himself. “ The apprehension,” says Cogan," that what has once hurt may hurt again, is so instantaneous, that no formal process in the exercise of the rational faculties is called in for aid. The river which has drowned one person, will soon be thought capable of drowning another; and the fire which has destroyed one tenement, will be supposed to possess the power of burning many more. An opinion (and what is this but a judgment?] is immediately formed, that whatever has happened may happen again in similar circumstances; and ihis opinion will be confirmed by repeated experience, until it shall be admitted as an indubitable axiom; and upon this axiom we shall habitually act, without hesita. tion, and without feeling the necessity of calling it into recollection. First principles introduce habits; and ex. pertness acquired by habit subsequently renders a re. course to first principles unnecessary.” p. 33. Thus we obtain, in bis opinion, our axioms, which have generally been called either self-evident propositions or axioms, interchangeably. They are obtained, he admits, without a process of reasoning, without induction: they are opi. nions that instantaneously follow certain perceptions and apprehensions. We say the same, and denominate all such axioms constitutional judgments. How then does Dr. Beattie differ from Mr. Cogan? Why, the Doctor calls that inherent part of the constitution of the mind, by which we form axioms, or from which we judge selfevident propositions to be undeniable truths, common sense; but Mr. Cogan speaks of it without giving it a name. We dislike Dr. Beattie's name for several reasons:--because it is the same faculty of judgment which decides that other propositions, as well as self-evident ones, are true;-because it insinuates that the faculty of judgment resembles in its operations the external organs of sense; -and because it most properly describes the common opinions of mankind, rather than that part of our constitution which forms those opinions:--but that every accountable man has a faculty for judging, which origi. nally exercises itself in a way for which we cannot account, otherwise than by saying, we are so constituted as to judge thus, is unquestionably manifest to every one who examines himself.

Mr. Cogan unjustly charges Dr. Beattie with an effort to exalt common sense, to the prejudice, if not banishment of reason. He simply aims at proving, that men are so constituted as to possess something, which he calls common sense, by which they have knowledge of certain axioms, that lie at the foundation of every superstructure of reasoning. Mr. Cogan does the same, while he rejects the term, common sense; and has given us as axioms the following propositions: There is no effect without a cause;'— The cause must be equal to the effect;'-The nature of the cause is to be ascertained by the nature of the effect;'-'A cause exactly similar, in circumstances exactly similar, must produce exactly similar effects;'- Where there are not manifestations that there is something in the nature of an effect to ex. haust the power from which it results, a possibility exists that it remains equal to the production of other effects of a similar nature;' — Every property may become a cause;' —Every subject possessing various properties may be productive of various effects;'>Some effects can alone be produced by the united influence of various causes;'-—and • Nothing can be a cause prior to its own existence.'


42. One of these statements is not to our mind evidently true; for we discover in matter specific, gravity, which is an effect produced by the Creator; and it would be unreasonable to infer from the nature of the effect, that specific gravity belongs to the nature of the Creator. With the exception of those passages to which our remarks apply, we think the first speculation, consisting of nine sections, and occupying seventy pages, an ex. cellent performance.

We have spent more time on this speculation than we

should have done, had not Mr. Cogan attempted to establish in it all his grounds of attack upon Dr. Beattie: and once for all, we admit, that the Doctor was an inaccurate defender of a sound system of mental philosophy. We need give but two or three specimens of his inaccu. racy. One is this: after having correctly defined the word belief, he immediately, and continually uses it as if it denoted a constitutional judgment. Another is this: “We are conscious, from internal feeling, that the energy of understanding, which perceives intuitive truth, is different from that other energy which unites a conclusion with a first principle, by a gradual chain of intermediate relations.” Here the words, from internal feeling, are redundant, for we are conscious of feelings, but not from feeling; nor from any other cause than this, that we have the faculty of consciousness, which operates according to certain given laws of our Maker. Again he says, " that all mathematical truth is founded in certain first principles which common sense, or instinct, or the constitution of the human understanding, or the law of rational nature, compels us to believe, without proof, whether we will or not.” His meaning is, that all mathematical truths are founded on certain simple propositions which the faculty of judgment, operating according to the constitution of our minds, decides to be true. Any one of the things to which he ascribes these first principles, had he adhered to it, would have been preferable to an option amongst them all, to which he calls his readers. Had he said, that the first principles of mathematics are judgments which we instinctively form, it would have been intelligible, and something definite. While we thus disapprove of Dr. Beattie's style of writing, we are of opinion that Mr. Cogan has "taken unnecessary,” and even unsuccessful " pains to confute the hypothesis of Dr. Beattie, so boldly advanced, and perseveringly supported, in the popular Essay on Truth.Preface, p. 4.

In Speculation II. our author treats of " disinterested bepevolense,” and without showing what he means by principle, answers the question, Is benevolence a prin. ciple distinct from self-love?' in the affirmative. He should have founded this speculation on another more intelligible inquiry, which he proposes, whether every act of benevolence originates from self-love, or not? He might then have proved easily, that love is an affection, or an operation of our faculty of feeling, which terminates on various objects; that when it terminates on ourselves it is called self love; that, when it regards others it is called benevolence; and that any act of loving our fellow-men which is not excited by the hope of subsequent reward, is called disinterested benevolence. Selflove and benevolence are two operations of the same faculty, and have different names because they have different objects. Now we may have different reasons, at different times, for loving ourselves, and equally many reasons for loving others. One general law, however, applies to every case, that man shall ever love that which appears to him to be lovely; or that the feeling of love shall ever be excited by certain apprehensions of loveliness in the objects of our attention. This speculation, upon the whole, is nothing more than a common essay, which affords no new light on the subject.

Speculation III. is designed to disprove the existence of a moral sense, or native faculty called the conscience, in man. Our approbation of some things, and disapprobation of others he attributes to education and habit. After offering many objections to the commonly receiv. ed opinions on this subject, which prove little else than the inexpediency of using the word sense in describing this faculty, he concludes, that “ all that can be ascribed to the constitution of human nature in this question is an inherent love of well-being, an immediate attachment to that which is apparently good, or productive of happiness; and a hatred of the opposites, as soon as such qualities are ascertained. These sensations of love and hatred, as we have already observed, accompany our opinions, when we cannot immediately penetrate into the nature of actions. Our opinions are frequently erroneous; but when our minds are duly informed, when we have just sentiments of the nature and tendencies of particular actions and dispositions, these virtuous sensations render us prompt in the execution.” p. 129. So then conscience is nothing but self-love! “ Morality,' says Hume,* " is not an object of reason.— Take an action allowed to be vicious: wilful murder for instance. Examine it in all lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence which you call vice. In which ever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions, and thoughts. [He should have added, and overt actions.'] There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never can find it, till you turn your reflections into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action. Here is a matter of fact; but 'tis the object of feeling, not of reason. It lies in yourself, not in the object. So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean tiothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it.” Hence Hume en. deavours to show, in his next section, that moral distinctions are derived from a moral sense, and comes to the conclusion, that virtue and vice are nothing but feelings, and those feelings nothing but impressions.

Cogan, without naming his opponent in this Speculation, does his best to prove that morality is an object of reason, and of reason alone. He takes the ground of Dr. Paley, who, long before our author, wrote what may now be esteemed an epitome of this Speculation. “ Having.experienced, in some instance, a particular conduct to be beneficial to ourselves, or observed that it would be so, a sentiment of approbation rises up in our minds, which sentiment afterwards accompanies the idea or men. tion of the same conduct, although the private advantage which first excited it no longer exist.” Paley's Philos.

P. 31.

We differ from all of these philosophers; and would recommend to Mr. Cogan, when he writes again, to answer Dr. Reid on the subject of a moral faculty, or conscience, if he can. In the language of President Smith, we state," that the moral sense (we should prefer the

* Treatise on Human Nature, vol. ii. p. 171. Vol. I.


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