« ZurückWeiter »
we also discover several relations. There are some facts and many relations, that cannot be discovered by a single act of intuition, but require several such acts linked together in a chain of reasoning.
Knowledge acquired by intuition, includes for the most part certainty: in some instances it includes probability only. Knowledge acquired by reasoning, frequently includes certainty; but more frequently includes probability only.
Probable knowledge, whether founded on intuition or on reasoning, is termed opinion when it concerns relations; and is termed belief when it concerns facts. Where knowledge includes certainty, it retains its proper name.
. Reasoning that produces certainty, is termed demonstrative; and is termed probable, when it only produces probability.
Demonstrative reasoning is of two kinds, The first is, where the conclusion is derived from the nature and inherent properties of the subject : mathematical reasoning is of that kind; and perhaps the only instance. The second is, where the conclusion is derived from fome proposition, of which we are certain by intuition.
Probable reasoning is endless in its vaÉ rieties; and affords different degrees of
conviction, depending on the nature of the subject upon which it is employ'd.
A Progress from infancy to maturity in
the mind of man, similar to that in his body, has been often mentioned. The external senses, being early necessary for self-preservation, arrive quickly at maturity. The internal senses are of a flower growth, as well as every other mental power : their maturity would be of little or no use while the body is weak, and unfit for action. Reasoning, as observed in the first section, requires two mental powers, the power of invention, and that of perceiving relations. By the former are discovered intermediate propositions, having the same relation to the fundamental proposition and to the conclusion
and that relation is verified by the latter. Both powers are necessary to the perfon who frames an argument, or a chain of reasoning: the latter only, to the person who judges of it. Savages are miserably deficient in both. With respect to the former, a savage may have from his nature a talent for invention; but it will stand him in little stead without a stock of ideas enabling him to select what may answer his purpose; and a favage has no opportunity to acquire such a stock. With respect to the latter, he knows little of relations. And how should he know, when both study and practice are necessary for distinguishing between relations ? The understanding, at the same time, is among the illiterate obsequious to passion and prepoffeffion; and among them the imagination acts without control, forming conclusions often no better than mere dreams. In short, considering the many causes that mislead from just reasoning, in days especially of ignorance, the erroneous and absurd opinions that have prevailed in the world, and that continue in some measure to prevail, are far from being surprising. Were reason our only
guide in the conduct of life, we should have cause to complain; but our Maker has provided us with the moral sense, a guide little subject to error in matters of importance. In the sciences, reason is efsential; but in the conduct of life, which is our chief concern, reafon may be an useful assistant; but to be our director is not its province.
The national progress of reason has been flower in Europe, than that of any other art: ftatuary, painting, architecture, and other fine arts, approach nearer perfection, as well as morality and natural history. Manners and every art that appears externally, may in part be acquired by imitation and example: in reasoning there is nothing external to be laid hold of. But there is beside a particular cause that regards Europe, which is the blind deference that for many ages was paid to Aristotle; who has kept the reasoning faculty in chains more than two thousand years, In his logic, the plain and simple mode of reasoning is rejected, that which Nature dictates; and in its stead is introduced an artificial mode, showy but unsubstantial, of no use for discovering truth; but con
trived with great art for wrangling and disputation. Considering that reason for so many ages has been immured in the enchanted castle of fyllogism, where phantoms pass for realities; the flow progress of reason toward maturity is far from being surprising. The taking of Conftantinople by the Turks ann. 1453, unfolded a new scene, which in time relieved the world from the usurpation of Aristotle, and restored reason to her privileges. All the knowledge of Europe was centred in Constantinople; and the learned men of that city, abhorring the Turks and their government, took refuge in Italy. The Greek language was introduced among the western nations of Europe; and the study of Greek and Roman claffics became fashionable. Men, having acquired new ideas, began to think for themselves: they exerted their native faculty of reason: the futility of Aristotle's logic became apparent to the penetrating; and is now apparent to all. Yet so late as the
Yet so late as the year 1621, several persons were banished from Paris for contradicting that philosopher, about matter and form, and about the number of the elements. And shortly after, the