« PrécédentContinuer »
reasoning is what is called by logicians, a paralogism. It is ' reasoning in a circle. Space is nothing but a repetition of the ideas we acquire of extension by means of the senses of feeing and touching, To say therefore that an extended and folid substance is that which excludes other bodies from occupying the same place at the same time, is saying. nothing more than that folidity is falidity, and extensión is extension.
But though the notion of space feems not to enter at first into the mind, until it is introduced by the proper object's of fenfe ; Dr, Reid observes, 4 that being once introduced; it remains in our conception and belief, though the objects which introduced it be removed-fpace iyot only retains a firm huld of our belief, even when we suppofe all the objects that introduced it to be annihilated, but it swells to im menfity... We can fet no limits to it; either of extent, or of duration. But it is only an immense, eternal, immoveable, and indestructible void or emptincts when we attempt to comprehend the whole of space, and to trace it to its origin, we lose ourselves in the fearch-the extension of bodies which we perceive by our senses, leads us neceffarily to the concep: tion and belief of a space which remains immoveable when the body is removed. . And the duration of events which we reriember, leads us necefíarily to the conception and belief of a duration, which would have gone on uniformly, though the event lvad never happened without space there can be nothing that 'is extended and without time there can be nothing that hath duration : all limited duration is comprehended in time, and all limited extension in space. Thefe in their capacious womb contain all finite existences, but are contained by none. Created things have their particular place in space, and their particular place in tiine; but time is every where, and fpace at all times."
If it were true that space and time were thus existences, however anomalou's, and not dependent in their very nature and effence on ideas of extenfion, motion, and fucceffion; the definition given of the primary qualities of matter by Dr. Reid; would explain one thing, in fome degree, by a relation it bears to other things. Perhaps it might be accounted ftri&tly logical. Matter is an exiftence that can noti co-exist with other existences in the same place and time Here, other things, as ideas, thoughts, energies, fpirits, &c. are fupposed to exist, and these may exist in the fame time and place. But different bodies cannoti exist in the fame time and place. Thus, we thould have both a genas, and a specific difference: The genus, or rather the lumnuin genus of existence; and the specific difference con3
fisting of an incapability of co-existing in the same place with another body, or a power of excluding another body from the space which it occupies. But if our
ideas of space and time be derived wholly from matter, and matter in motion, as they seem to be, Dr. Reid's definition of matter amounts to nothing.
But although our ideas of space and time first enter into the mind by means of the objects of sense being introduced, it is said we cannot dismiss them, for the swells * in our conception to immensity, and the other to eternity. : We endeavoured to account for this matter, when we faid above, that space is nothing but a repetition of ideas and extension. By experience or habit we form to ourselves certain portions or measures of space and time; and by repeating these measures or ideas of them in our minds, we are led into the notion that space and time are infinite, because there is no limit fixed to our capacity of repeating them. As we may, in our imagination, add one thousand miles to another, and one thoufand years to another; so we fancy that there is no end of miles and years. The grandest idea of space we can form at a single glance, view, or effort of the imagination, is, no other than that which we actually take in by our sense of seeing when we behold the vault or canopy of the heavens stretched over and surrounding the visible horizon, Having by habit rivetted this idea in our mind, we figure to ourselves its utmost boundary or line, and from thence we seem to ourselves to launch forth into a new space of equal extent, beyond that line, when in reality we are only repeating the same idea that we had formed before. It is not new ground that we go over ; but the landscape we had already taken ever and anon recurring to the imagination, which cannot dismiss it while the mind chuses to think upon it, any more than it can disiniss any particular objeet from the fancy, so long as it pleases to think on that object. And we might as well say that any particular mountain is every where, because we can transport it, in imagination, from one place to another, as that the particular space or measure is every where, which we take into the mind by contemplating the sky and our narrow horizon. A man who fees his shadow wherever he goes, might as well say that he is omnipresent. The frolicfome animal that runs round and round, and finds no end of its labour in the vain effort to catch with its claws its own tail, is not an unjust emblem of a grave philosopher, pursuing, as he thinks, the immensity of space, while, as he fancys he is advancing into the illimitable void, hę carries with himself, or in himself, the very object he at
tempts to grasp and comprehend. We conclude therefore, that space and duration, depend, for their existence, on those of the primary qualities of matter; and that the primary qualities of matter, are just what we perceive them to be and no more; and depend for whatever existence we have any reason or argument for ascribing to them, on perception as the secondary qualities do.
The perception of colour, and the sensation of pain, are not more effential to the existence of the colour and of the pain, than the perception of an house is to the existence of an house. Any species of pain, suppose the gout, may exist in the limbs of another person without your feeling it; just as an house may exist at the distance of an hundred miles without your seeing it. These are no other than the different exercifes of different senses: the one of feeling, the other of seeing: though there be this difference between them, that the organ, the eye, may be shut, or the view of an object intercepted by darkness or an intervening object; whereas the organs of feeling are so conftituted, that a painful or pleasurable object cannot be thus intercepted from the feeling of the individual person affected. The open eye necessarily sees a present object; and the fense of feeling is necessarily affected with present pain. The sensation is not more necessary to the existence of pain, than the perception is to the existence of the object. But external objects, says Dr. Reid are always seen by the open eye; but pain not al ways perceived by sentient beings.--True; and because we are always accustomed to see the same external things, therefore, we believe, by the power of habit, or some other pow. er, that they always exift-Would the first, would a single glance of an external object, would one impression of it on à mind that had never been impresled, or perceived any external before, create a belief of its perinanent exiftence? furely not. And what more is there in the second, third, or any impreffion that is not in the first?
Dr. Reid, with his usual acutness and penetration has attended to the force of this queition. He maintains that
sensation, and inemory are limple and original principles “ of belief. Sensation implies the present existence of its
object; memory its past existence : but imagination views “ its object naked, and without any belief of its existence,
or non-existence, and is therefore called in the schools, simple apprehension-Instead of saying that belief or know
ledge is got by putting together and comparing the fim“ ple apprehenfions, we ought rather to say, that the simple
apprehension is performed by resolving and analysing a na“ tural and original judgment.” (See Essay vi.]. There are innumerable oùher places in which Dr. Reid affirms that, in sensation, the mind believes, knows, and judges of the existence of objects.
as tural property
Now there is not a more abstracted idea, there is not so abstracted an idea as that of existence. How then is it poffi ble that any abstracted, and such an abstracted or general idea should be acquired by perception, or sensation, or meinory? Let us hear what Dr. Reid says on this subject,
[To be continued.]
Art. II. The History of New Hampshire. Volume ist. compre
hending the events of one complete century, from the Discovery of the River Pafcataqua. By Jeremiah Belknap, A. M. Member of the American Philofophical Society, held at Philadelphia, for promoting useful Knowledge. 8vo. 55. boards, Philadel
phia. Long nan, London. AS
S the discovery of America took place when the inhas
bitants of Europe were in a state of cultivation and re: finement ; and as the emigrants to that quarter of the globe were advanced in the rational and active powers; it is a matter of fome surprise, that our colonial settlements approached so slowly to importance. More than a century elapsed before America became an object of attention to England. Perhaps, this circumstance is chiefly to be ascribed to the extreme want of enlargement which has so uniformly distinguished the Ministers of this country. But while the northern continent was neglected by our statesmen, the Spaniards more penetrating and sagacious, effected the conqueft of Peru and Mexico. From the want of forefight in the English, it followed, that a spirit of turbulence was engendered in their colonies, which in a diftant period was to prove fo humiliating to them; and from thie vigilance of the Spaniards it proceeded, that their settlements are now so securely establithed.
After recording the discovery of America, and glancing at the shameful blindness of the English Princes and statesmen, our author relates the slender atchievements of the earlier 'emigrants, and exhibits a view of the condition of the natives. He then recounts the union of New Hampshire with Massachusets ; explains the principles and conduct of the first planters of New England; describes their laws; and gives a picture of their intolerance and persecutions, Proceeding in his course, he details the struggles of the greater proprietors for the preservation of their power and property, and characterizes the hesitating, precarious, and feeble conduct of the mother country. The great objects which next occupy his attention, are the war with the French and Indians, denominated “ King William's war;' and the war with the French and Indians, known under the appellation of “ Queen Anne's war."
At the very period when his subject was beginning to be interesting, our author has thought it proper to conclude his volume. But as he is to proceed with his undertaking, we Thall probably have an opportunity of calling anew to him the attention of our readers.
It becomes us, however, at present to select some specimens of his ability. Concerning the planters of New Engļand, he writes as follows.
• The drinking of healths, and the use of tobacco were forbidden, the former being considered as an heathenish practice, grounded on the ancient libations; the other as a species of intoxication and waste of time. Laws were instituted to regulate the intercourse between the sexes, and the advances toward matrimony: They had a ceremony of betrothing, which preceded that of marriage. Pride and levity of behaviour came under the cognizance of the magistrate. Not one ly the richness but the mode of dress, and cut of the hair were subject to state regulations. Women were forbidden to expose their arms or their bofom to view ; it was ordered that their sleeves should reach down to their wrist, and their gowns be closed round the. neck. Men were obliged to cut short their hair, that they might not resemble women. No perfou not worth two hundred pounds was allowed to wear gold or silver lace, or silk hoods and fearfs. Offences against these laws were presentable by the grand jury; and those who dressed above their rank were to be affeffed accordingly. Sumptuary laws might be of use in the beginning of a new .plantation, but these pious rulers had more in view than the political good. They were not only concerned for the external appearance of fobriety and good order, but thought themselves obliged, so far as they were able, to promote real religion and enforce the observance of the divine precepts.
• As they were fond of imagining a near resemblance between the circumstances of their settlement in this country and the redemption of Israel from Egypt or Babylon ; it is not strange that they should also look upon their “ commonwealth as an institution of God for " the preservation of their churches, and the civil rulers as both 66 members and fathers of them." The famous John Cotton, the first minister in Boston was the chief proinoter of this settlemento When he arrived in 1633, he found the people divided in their opinions. Soine had been admitted to the privileges of freemen at the firit general court, who were not in communion with the churches ; after this an order was passed, than none but members of the churches hould be admitted freemen ; whereby all other persons were exclude ed from every otfice or privilege civil or military. Tois great man,