Page images
PDF
EPUB

I.

CHAP. be ascribed to the conclusion, unless they be

longed to the premises which are its “causes."107 These observations are not made with a view merely to vindicate the propriety of one phraseology in preference to another. They are made rather to obviate an error into which many have fallen with respect to Aristotle's logic, in confining it to the rules by which, from given premises, we may infer a legitimate conclusion. The principal concern of logic, on the contrary, is with the premises themselves : to discover the certainty or various degrees of probability on which they rest, and to omit none of the premises that bear on the subject; since our errors, as I had before occasion to show, proceed less frequently from illogical inference, than from narrowness of comprehension and rashness of assumption.108

107 How justly did Sam. Johnson suspect, that the Peripatetic Logic had been condemned without a candid trial. See Johnson's Works, vol. ii. Preface to the Preceptor.

108 See New Analysis, p. 91. comp. p. 234.

CHAP. II.

ARGUMENT.

Character of Mr. Stewart's Writings. - The Paris andk

Edinburgh Encyclopedias. - Speculative Philosophy. Its nature and use.That of Aristotle, on what grounded: - His Doctrine of Causes mistaken, and misapplied, by the Schoolmen. - His Doctrine of the Association of Ideas, or Custom, mistaken, and misapplied, by modern Metaphysicians.Their History. -Des Cartes, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. - Modern Scepticism vainly combated by Drs. Reid, and Beattie, Lord Kames, and Mr. Stewart. - Bacon, his supposed Reformation in Philosophy.-His real Merits. - His Physical induction not applicable in Metaphysics.-Locke's Method, wherein consonant to Aristotle's.-Supposed consciousness of many original principles. Story of Sir William Johnstone and the Indians. The acknowledged necessity of returning, in some points, from the school of Locke to that of Aristotle. The Materialism of Diderot, Helvetius, Priestley, and Darwin, anticipated and refuted by the latter. - Transition to his Practical Philosophy. Ethics, Politics, and Rhetoric.-The Moral Constitution of Man more correctly explained by him, than by Clarke, Shaftesbury, Hutchinson, Hume, Smith, or Paley.-Abstract and Estimate of his Philosophy.—

Conclusion. In the former chapter I obviated every one of CHAP.

II. Mr. Stewart's objections, whether against the doctrines of my author, or my own inter- Character

of Mr. pretation of them. The character of the ob- Stewart's jector, and the rank which he holds in the writings. republic of letters, merited this complete ex

CHAP. amination. While professor in the university of II.

Edinburgh, Mr. Stewart was regarded (and I think most justly) as the principal ornament of that illustrious school. His writings also, are in high estimation; most readers may derive profit from them, and all receive much “rational entertainment;" for, being well acquainted with the French and English metaphysicians, many of them men of genius and fancy, from Hobbes and Des Cartes downward to the writers of the present day, Mr. Stewart has selected from them with taste and judgment, and embodied, by way of citation, into his own works, many of their most ingenious remarks and most brilliant passages. The object of his own philosophy, is “ to ascertain the simple and uncompounded faculties, or principles, of which the mind conşists; and his method of prosecuting this study is the way of observation and experiment recommended by Lord Bacon, for ascertaining the properties of bodies.” Whatever may be thought of this undertaking, or of his own and Dr. Reid's success in conducting it, Mr. Stewart will be acknowledged to have embellished many parts of his subject, by natural and apt comparisons, and to have adorned the whole with a style, less attic and various indeed than that of Locke or Hume, but clear, flowing, and harmonious. To me it appears, that the authors on whom he has formed his taste, are not of native growth; much less has he looked back to Greece or Rome; France should seem to have

i Stewart's Elements, passim.

II.

had his decided preference; and I should be CHAP. inclined to believe that D’Alembert, a geometer and metaphysician like himself, had been his favourite model ; except that in Mr. Stewart you may discern, I think, more warmth of heart and affection, and more native eloquence; but, on the other hand, too frequently recognize the academic lecturer in unbounded diffusion, and in endless repetitions. In the year 1751, D'Alembert first printed The Paris

and Edinhis preliminary discourse to the French Ency- burgh clopédia. Within these few years, Mr. Stewart Encyclo

pedias. performed a somewhat similar office for the Encyclopédia Britannica. In D'Alembert's Review of Philosophy, in many respects highly valuable, he gives reason to believe, as I shall have occasion to shew hereafter, that he was little, if at all, acquainted with Greek philosophy, and particularly with that of Aristotle. Mr. Stewart's undertaking precluded the necessity of any such acquaintance whatever, since his “view of the progress of metaphysical, ethical, and moral science,” is confined to the period that has elapsed since the revival of letters in modern Europe. We shall see, by and by, whether the preliminary discourses of both these eminent men, would not have been more complete and more satisfactory, had they been better qualified in their reviews to extend the retrospect.

I now come to the most important branch of Transition this disquisition, to examine into that abstruse, count of but exact science, to which Aristotle continually

Aristotle's

speculative refers in the popular work here translated. philosophy. Upon this subject, having much to say, I must

to the ac

and use.

CHAP. strive to compress my matter to the utmost, II.

lest this introduction to the Rhetoric should appear to be a frontispiece too vast for the

building. Its nature This science, then, whether it be called meta

physics, the first philosophy, the intellectual system, or the knowledge of human nature’, has never been depreciated, but either by perversity or ignorance. Bacon declares it to be the key to all other knowledges, and an illustrious disciple of Bacon, pronounces it to be the basis of all the other sciences, and essential to the formation of distinct and exact notions on any subject whatever. 4

It remounts to the origin of all these notions; classes or assorts them; distinguishes those that afford demonstration, from those that lead us only to different degrees of probability; and, discerning the various energies of thought, contemplates in the noble works effected by them, the fair edifice of arts and sciences ; surveys the relations which they bear to each other; and thus appreciates the extent of human power in speculation, in action, and in production. For, as of speculative philosophy truth is the object, so of practical philosophy the object is truth accompanied with works; whether these works terminate in the actions of men, and what is called moral virtue, or in skilful productions of the arts."

2 It has recently received the new name of Idéologie. See “ Elemens D’Idéologie, par M. Destutt Comte de Tracy."

De Augment. Scient. 1. v. c. 1. 4 D'Alembert, Discours sur L'Encyclopedie.

Conf. Aristot. Metaph. 1. i.c. 1. 1. vi. c. 1. Ethic. Nicom. I.vi.c. 4. and Moral, Magna. 1. i. c. 35. p. 170. In the last chapter of his Essay,

« PreviousContinue »