Page images

man, or all the animals inhabiting this earth, may we not affirm of him, by way of distinction, that he is a rational animal ? I replied, we might justly.

Let this, too, then be remembered, said he, in the course of our inquiry, that man is by nature a rational animal.— I promised it should.

XIV. In consequence of this, said he, as often as there is occasion, I shall appeal as well to reason, as to nature, for a standard.—What, said I, do you mean by nature?—Its meanings, replied he, are many and various. As it stands at present opposed, it may be enough perhaps to say, that nature is that which is the cause of every thing, except those things alone which are the immediate effects of reason. In other words, whatever is not reason, or the effect of reason, we would consider as nature, or the effect of nature. I answered, as he so distinguished them, I thought he might justly appeal to either.

And yet, continued he, there is a remarkable difference between the standard of reason, and that of nature ; a difference, which at no time we ought to forget.—What difference, said I, do you

mean?-It is this, answered he; in nature, the standard is sought from among the many; in reason, the standard is sought among the few.—You must explain, said I, your meaning, for I must confess you seein obscure.

Thus, then, said he: suppose, as an anatomist, you were seeking the structure of some internal part; to discover this, would you not inspect a number of individuals ?-I should.-And would you not inform yourself, what had been discovered by others? I should.—And suppose, after all, you should find a multitude of instances for one structure, and a few singular for a different: by which would you be governed ?-By the multitude, said I, undoubtedly.—Thus, then, continued he, in nature the standard, you see, exists among the many.-I replied, it had so appeared.

And what, said he, were we to seek the perfection of sculpture, or of painting? Where should we inquire then ? Among the numerous common artists, or among the few and celebrated ? Among the few, said I.-What if we were to seek the perfection of poetry, or oratory, where then ?- Among the few, still.What if we were to seek the perfection of true argument, or a sound logic; where then ?-Still among the few.–And is not true argument, or a sound logic, one of reason's greatest perfections? It is.-You see, then, continued he, whence the standard of reason is to be sought: it is from among the few," as we said before, in contradistinction to the standard of nature.-1 confess, said I, it appears so.

* In omni enim arte, vel studio, vel cellent, TÒ , kal otáviov, kal éralvetov, quavis scientia, vel in ipsa virtute, op- kai karóv. Eth. Nic. 1. ii. c. 9. Td gàp tumum quodque rarissimum est. Cic. de σπάνιον, ώ Ευθύδημε, τίμιον. Ρlat. in Fin. I. ii. c. 25. p. 158. edit. Dav. Thus, Euthyd. p. 304. B. edit. Serr. too, Aristotle joins the rare and the ex

And happy, said he, for us, that Providence has so ordered it; happy for us, that what is rational, depends not on the multitude; nor is it to be tried by so pitiful a test as the bare counting of noses. It is happy, said Î, indeed: but whence, pray, the difference? Why are the many to determine in nature, and the few, only, in reason ?- To discuss this at large, said he, would require some time. It might insensibly perhaps draw us from our present inquiry. I will endeavour to give you the reason in as few words as possible; which, should they chance to be obscure, be not too solicitous for an explanation.—I begged him to proceed his own way.

The case, said he, appears to be this: in natural works and natural operations, we hold but one efficient cause, and that consummately wise. This cause in every species recognising what is best, and working ever uniformly according to this idea of perfection, the productions and energies, in every species where it acts, are for the most part similar and exactly correspondent. If an exception ever happen, it is from some hidden higher motive, which transcends our comprehension, and which is seen so rarely, as not to injure the general rule, or render it doubtful and precarious. On the contrary, in the productions and energies of reason, there is not one cause, but infinite; as many, indeed, as there are agents of the human kind. Hence truth being but one, and error being infinite, and agents infinite also; what wonder they should oftener miss, than hit the mark? that multitudes should fail, where one alone succeeds, and truth be only the possession of the chosen, fortunate few!- You seem to have explained the difficulty, said I, with sufficient perspicuity.

Let us then go back, said he, and recollect ourselves; that we may not forget what it is we are seeking.—I replied, most willingly.—We have been seeking, continued he, the sovereign good. In consequence of this inquiry, we have discovered, that all things whatever exist to the human species in the relations

b Thus Boethius, addressing the Deity: φύσει ου φύσει, αλλά παρά φύσιν τη δε

qui perpetua mundum ratione gubernas, καθόλου, και φύσει και κατά φύσιν. Η Terraram cælique sator, qui tempus ab ævo μεν γάρ μερική φύσις ενός είδους στοχάζεIre jubes, stabilisque manens das cuncta ται, και μίαν στέρησιν φεύγει. Διά τούτο troveri;

τη μεν του ανθρώπου φύσει το τέρας ούτε Quem non externe pepalerunt fingere cause φύσει έστιν, ούτε κατά φύσιν τη δ' όλη Materia fuitantis opus; verum insita summi gutel fred under to ravil napd púow Forma boni, livore carens : tu cuncta superno (ovbèn gòp randy év Too mayrl) oùm toti Ducis ab exemplo, pulchrum pulcherrimus Tapa púoiv, åard pto ei kal katd púow. ipse

Joannes Gram. in Aristot. lib. ii. Natural. Mundum mente gerens, similique in imagine Auscult. Nihil enim fieri sine causa formans.

potest: nec quicquam fit, quod fieri non Consol. Philos. I. iii. Metr. 9. potest: nec, si id factum est quod potuit e MhROTE dè unde Taüta (sc. Tà tépata] fieri, portentum debet videri. Cic. de Divin. ταρά φύσιν εισιν, αλλά τη μεν μερική 1. ii. c. 28. p. 189. edit. Davis.


of either pursuable, avoidable, or indifferent. To determine these relations with accuracy, we have been scrutinizing the human nature; and that, upon this known maxim, that every species was its own proper standard; and that where the value of things was dubious, there the species was to be studied, and the relations to be deduced, which naturally flow from it. The result of this scrutiny has been, that we have first agreed man to be a social animal; and since, to be a rational. So that if we can be content with a descriptive, concise sketch of human nature, it will amount to this, that man is a social rational animal. I answered, it had appeared so.

XV. If, then, said he, we pursue our disquisitions agreeably to this idea of human nature, it will follow, that all things will be pursuable, avoidable, and indifferent to man, as they respect the being and welfare of such a social, rational animal. I replied, they must.

Nothing, therefore, in the first place, said he, can be pursuable, which is destructive of society. It cannot.-Acts, therefore, of fraud and rapine, and all acquired by them, whether wealth, power, pleasure, or any thing, are evidently, from their very character, not fit to be pursued. They are not.-But it is impossible not to pursue many such things, unless we are furnished with some habit or disposition of mind, by which we are induced to render to all men their own, and to regard the welfare and interest of society. It is impossible.—But the habit or disposition of rendering to all their own, and of regarding the welfare and interest of society, is justice. It is.-We may therefore fairly conclude, that nothing is naturally pursuable, but what is either correspondent to justice, or at least not contrary.--I confess, said I, so it appears.

d Zwov doyukdy kal monitidy, doyukdy of all minds, considered as minds ; namely, kal Kolvwvlkov, doyukdy kal fuepov : these the unity of truth, their common object. are descriptions of humanity, which we Again, every just and perfect society meet in every page of Epictetus and An- stands on the basis of certain laws. But toninus.

law is nothing more, than right and perfect It seems, indeed, to have been a re- reason, seen in bidding and forbidding, ceived opinion of old, that so intimate was according to the nature and essence of those the relation between these two attributes, beings to which it is a law. If, therefore, that wherever there was rationality, 80- this universe be one whole, or general ciality followed of course. Thus Antoninus: society, there must be some common, geέστι δε το λογικόν, ευθύς και πολιτικόν. neral law for its conduct and welfare ; and 1. x. s. 2. And again, more fully: xal this law must, of consequence, be some τοίνυν παν το της νοεράς φύσεως μέτοχον, right and perfect reason, which passes προς το συγγενές ομοίως σπεύδει, ή και through all things, and extends to every μάλλον όσω γάρ έστι κρείττον παρά τα part. Well therefore might Antoninus say, άλλα, τοσούτο και προς το συγκρινάσθαι in the beginning of this note, that every Tý oikely kal ovykeiolai étolótepov. thing rational, was of course social, since 1. ix. s. 9.

reason and law appear to be the same, and It is not perhaps foreign to the present law to be the support and basi of all subject to observe, that were the eyes of society. Thus, too, Cicero: Sequitur, ut any two men whatever to view the same eadem sit in his [sc. Diis] quæ humano object, they would each, from their dif- generi ratio ; eadem veritas utrobique sit; ferent place, and their different organiza- eademque lex, quæ est recti præceptio, tion, behold it differently, and have a dif- pravique depulsio. De Nat. Deor. I ii. ferent image. But were all the minds in c. 3). p. 180. See also the same author, the universe to recognise the same truth, De Leg. 1. i. c. 8, 12, 15. p. 29, 41, 51. they would all recognise it as one, their edit. Davis. De Fin. 1 ii. c. 14. p. 123. recognition would be uniform, and them- See also Diog. Laert. I. vii. s. 88. M. Anton. selves in a manner would be one also. The I. v. c. 16. I. vi. c. 23. Aristot. Polit, as reason is, perception by the senses admits quoted in note 2, p. 61. of more and less, better and worse ; but e Si enim sic erimus affecti, ut propter perception by the intellect, like truth, its suum quisque emolumentum spoliet, aut object, admits of no degrees, and is either violet alterum, disrumpi necesse est eam, nothing at all, or else total, uniform, com- quæ maxime est secundum naturam, huplete, and one. Hence, therefore, one source mani generis societatem. Cic. de Offic, I. ii. of the society, and, as it were, communion c. 5.

But, further, said he, it is possible we may have the best disposition to society; the most upright intentions; and yet, through want of ability to disceru and know the nature of particulars, we may pursue many things inconsistent, as well with our private interest, as the public. We may even pursue what is right, and yet pursue it in such a manner, as to find our endeavours fruitless, and our purposes to fail.— I answered, it was possible. But this would ill befit the character of a rational animal.-It would. It is necessary, therefore, we should be furnished with some habit or faculty, instructing us how to discern the real difference of all particulars, and suggesting the proper means by which we may either avoid or obtain them.It is.—And what is this, think you, but prudence ?- I believe, said, I, it can be no other.-If it be, said he, then it is evident from this reasoning, that nothing is pursuable, which is not correspondent to prudence.-I replied, he had shewn it could not.

But further still, said he, it is possible we may neither want prudence nor justice to direct us; and yet the impulses of appetite, the impetuosities of resentment, the charms and allurements of a thousand flattering objects, may tempt us, in spite of ourselves, to pursue what is both imprudent and unjust.-- They may.-But if so, it is necessary, would we pursue as becomes our character, that we should be furnished with some habit which may moderate our excesses; which may temper our actions to the standard of a social state, and to the interest and welfare, not of a part, but of the whole man.-Nothing, said I, more necessary.- And what, said he, can we call this habit, but the habit of temperance ?- You name it, said I, rightly. If you think so, replied he, then nothing can be pursuable, which is not either correspondent to temperance, or at least not contrary I replied, so it seemed.

Once more, continued he, and we have done : it is possible that not only resentment and appetite, not only the charms and allurements of external objects, but the terrors, too, and dread of them, may mar the rectitude of our purposes. It is possible.—Tyranny and superstition may assail us on one hand; the apprehensions of ridicule, and a false shame, on the other: it is expedient, to withstand these, we should be armed with some habit, or our wisest best pursuits may else at all times be defeated.—They may.-And what is that generous, manlike, and noble habit, which sets us at all times above fear and danger; what is it but fortitude ?-I replied, it was no other.—If so, then, continued he, besides our former conclusions, nothing further can be pursuable, as our inquiries now have shewn us, which is not either correspondent to fortitude, or at least not contrary.--I admit, said I, it is not.

Observe, then, said he, the sum, the amount of oar whole reasoning: nothing is truly pursuable to such an animal as man, except what is correspondent, or, at least, not contrary to justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude.—1 allow, said I, it appears 80.-But if nothing pursuable, then nothing avoidable or indifferent, but what is tried and estimated after the same manner. For contraries are ever recognised through the same habit,' one with another. The same logic judges of truth and falsehood; the same musical art, of concord and discord. So the same mental habitudes, of things avoidable and pursuable. I replied, it appeared probable.

To how unexpected a conclusion, then, said he, have our inquiries insensibly led us? In tracing the source of human action, we have established it to be those four grand virtues, 8 which are esteemed, for their importance, the very hinges of all morality.-We have.

But if so, it should follow, that a life, whose pursuings and avoidings are governed by these virtues, is that true and rational

( Δοκεί δε και η απάτη, και η επιστήμη περί τας ορμές του ανθρώπου την δε αντων εναντίων, ή αυτή είναι: “There seems δρείαν, περί τας υπομονάς την δε δικαιοto be one and the same error, and one and σύνην, περί τας απονεμήσεις: «The prithe same science, with respect to things mary virtues are four ; prudence, temcontrary.” Arist. de Anim. 1. iii. c. 3. This, perance, fortitude, and justice: prudence is by Themistius, in his Paraphrase, is thus employed in moral offices ; temperance, in illustrated : Tŵv evaytiwe uia dotiy éri men's natural appetites and pursuits ; forστήμη, και μία άγνοια και γαρ το αγαθόν titude, in endurings ; and justice, in disως ωφέλιμον γινώσκων, και το κακόν ότι tributions.” Εcl. Ethic. p. 167. βλαβερών συνεπίσταται και ο περί θάτερον That the life according to virtue, was εξαπατώμενος, εξαπατάται και περί θάτε- deemed the life according to nature, appears pov: “Of things contrary there is one from what is said by the same author, in science, and one ignorance. For thus, he the page following: Tarwv TOÚTwv who knows good to be something bene- αρετών το τέλος είναι, το ακολούθως τη ficial, knows evil, at the same time, to be φύσει την εκάστην δε τούτων διά των something pernicious ; and he who is de- ιδίων παρέχεσθαι τυγχάνοντα τον άνθρωceived with respect to one of these, is de- “ The end of all these virtues is, to ceived also with respect to the other.” live agreeably to nature; and each of them, See the lo of Plato, p. 531, vol. i. edit. by those means which are peculiar to itSerr.

self, is found to put a man in possession of & Stobæus, having told us, that of the this end.” virtues some were primary, some subordi- So likewise Cicero: Etenim quod sumnate, adds : πρώτας δε τέτταρας είναι, mum bonum a Stoicis dicitur, “convenienter φρόνησιν, σωφροσύνην, άνδρείαν, δικαιο- nature vivere,” id habet hanc, ut opinor, σύνην και την μεν φρόνησιν, περί τα sententiam, “cum virtute congruere sermper.” καθήκοντα γίνεσθαι την δε σωφροσύνην De Ofc. 1. iii. c. 3.


« PreviousContinue »