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But then it is required for any such inference that we should have had the observation or experience, at least once, of both these terms; and of the conjunction between them. If we have seen but once in our life a watch made, and coming forth of the hands of a watch-maker; we, in all time coming, can, on seeing the watch only, infer the watch-maker. But this full experience comprehensive of both terms is wanting, it is alleged, in the question of a God. We may have had an experience reaching to both terms of the sequence in watch-making—but we have had no such experience in world-making. Had we but seen a world once made, and coming forth from the observed fiat of an intelligent Deity, then the sight of every other world might have justified the inference that for it too there behoved to have been a world-maker. It is the want of that completed observation which we so often have in the cases of human mechanism, that constitutes it is apprehended the flaw or failure in the customary argument for a God—as founded on the mechanism of nature. It is because the world is to us a singular effect—it is because we have only perceived the consequent a world, and never perceived the alleged antecedent the mandate of a Creator at whose forth-putting some other world had sprung into existence—it is because in this instance we have but witnessed one term of a succession and never witnessed its conjunction with a prior term, that we are hopelessly debarred it is thought, from ever coming soundly or legitimately to the conclusion of a God.
7. The following are so many of the passages hat
from Hume containing the argument in his own words : " But it is only when two species of objects are found to be constantly conjoined that we can infer the one from the other; and were an effect presented which was entirely singular and could not be comprehended under any known species, I do not see that we could form any conjecture or inference at all concerning its cause. If experience and observation and analogy be indeed the only guides which we can reasonably follow in inferences of this nature—both the effect and cause must bear a similarity and resemblance to other effects and causes which we know, and which we have found in many instances to be conjoined with each other."* Again—“ If we see a house, we conclude with the greatest certainty that it had an architect or builder; because this is precisely that species of effect, which we have experienced to proceed from that species of cause. But surely you will not affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house, that we can with the same certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and perfect. The dissimilitude is so striking, that the utmost you can here pretend to is a guess, a conjecture, a presumption concerning a similar cause; and how that pretension will be received in the world I leave you to consider."- " When two species of objects have always been observed to be conjoined together, I can infer by custom the existence of one, wherever I see the existence of the other; and this I call an argument from experience.
* Hume's Essays, Vol. II. p. 157, being an extract from hie Essay on Providence and a Future State.
But how this argument can have place, where the objects as in the present case, are single, individual, without parallels or specific resemblance, may be difficult to explain. And will any man tell me with a serious countenance, that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and act, like the human; because we have experience of it ? To ascertain this reasoning, it were requisite, that we had experience of the origin of worlds; and it is not sufficient surely, that we have seen ships and cities arise from human art and contrivance.”- “Can you pretend to show any such similarity between the fabric of a house, and the generation of a universe ? Have you ever seen nature in any such situation as resembles the first arrangement of the elements? Have worlds ever been formed under your eye? and have you had leisure to observe the whole progress of the phenomena, from the first appearance of order to its final consummation ? If you have, then cite your experience and deliver your theory."*
8. Now it appears to us that this argument of Hume has not been rightly met by any of his antagonists. Instead of resisting it they have retired from it-and, in fact, done him the homage of conceding the principle on which it rests. They have suffered him to bear away one of the prime supports of Natural Theism; and, to make up for this loss, they have attempted to replace it with another support which I hold to be altogether precarious. Hume denies that we have any ex
• The above extracts are taken from Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion.
perimental evidence for the being of a God—and that simply because we have not any experience in the making of worlds. Had we observed once or oftener the sequence of two terms A and B—then afterwards on our observing B though alone we might have inferred A. Had we observed though only once, a God employed in making a worldthen when another world was presented to our notice we might have inferred a God. But we have never had the benefit of such observation ; and hence the conclusion of Mr. Hume is, that the reasoning for a God is not founded on the basis of experience. Now how is this met both by Reid and Stuart ?-by conceding that the argument for a God is not an experimental one at all—the inference of design from its effects being a result neither of reasoning nor of experience. When the question is put, on what then is the inference grounded ?--the never-failing reply in a difficulty of this sort, and in which more than once these philosophers have taken convenient refuge is, that it is grounded on an intuitive judgment of the mind.
9. Our own opinion of this evasion is that to say the least it was unnecessary—and we think that without recurring to any separate principle on the subject, Mr. Hume's argument might be satisfactorily disposed of, though we had no other ground for the inference of a designing cause, than that upon which we reason from like consequents to the like antecedents that went before them.
10. It appears to us that these philosophers have most unnecessarily mystified the argument for a God, besides giving an untrue representation of the right argument. The considerations on which Reid and Stewart would resolve the inference of design from its effects into an original principle, distinct from that by which we infer any other cause from its effects—even our prior observation of the conjunction between them, appear to us most singularly weak and inconclusive. They say that we can only infer design on the part of a fellow-creature from its effects in this instinctive or intuitive way, because we never had any direct perception of his mind at all, and therefore never had a view of the antecedent but only of the consequent. But we have the evidence of consciousness, the strongest of all evidence, for the existence of our own mind; we have both the antecedent and the consequent in this one instance, both the design and its effects when ourselves are the designers; and, from the similarity of those effects which proceed from ourselves to those which proceed from our neighbours, we infer on a sufficient experimental ground that there are design and a designing mind on their part also. It comes peculiarly ill from Mr. Stewart to say that we know nothing of mind but by its operations and effects, who himself has so oft affirmed that all our knowledge of matter comes to us in the same way; and that the properties of which sense informs us as belonging to the one form no better evidence for the substantive existence of matter, than that for the substantive existence of mind afforded by the properties of which consciousness informs us as belonging to the other. And even though we