Page images
PDF
EPUB

this in fact is Aristotle's own doctrine in his third book De anima, where he also asserts, with Plato, that actual knowledge and the thing known are all one : TÓ AUTÓ Sé ésov ý xat' ¢végy fav ¢715ý kinh tw weggyuało. Whence it follows that the things are where the knowledge is, that is to say, in the mind, Or, as it is otherwise expressed, that the foul is all things. More might be said to explain Aristotle's notion, but it would lead too far.

311. As to an absolute actual existence (b) of fensible or corporeal things, it doth not seem to have been admitted either by Plato or Aristotle. In the Theæretus we are told, that if any one faith a thing is or is made, he must withal say, for what, or of what, or in respect of what, it is or is made ; for, that any thing should exist in it felt or absolutely, is absurd. Agreeably to which doctrine it is also farther affirmed by Plato, that it is impossible a'thing should be sweet, and sweet to no body. It must nevertheless be owned with regard to Aristotle, that, even in his Metaphysics there are some expressions which feein to favour the absolute existence of corporeal things. For instance, in the eleventh book speaking of corporeal sensible things, What wonder, faith he, if they never appear to us the same, no more than to sick men, since we are always changing, and never remain the fame our selves? And again, he fuith, Sensible things, although they receive no change in themselves, do nevertheless in lick perfons produce different sensations and not the same. These passages would seem to imply a distinct and abfolute existence of the objects of sense. .

312. But it must be observed, that Aristotle diitinguishech a twofold existence, potential and actual. It will not, therefore, follow that, ac(b) 264, 292, 294.

cording

cording to Aristotle, becaule a thing is, it must actually exift. This is evident from the eighth book of his Metaphysics, where he animadverts on the Megaric philosophers, as not admitcing a possible existence distinct from the actual : from whence, faich he, it must follow, that there is nothing cold or hot or sweet or any sensible thing at all, where there is no perception. He adds, that in consequence of chat Megaric doctrine, we can have no sense but while we actually exert it : we are blind when we do not see, and therefore boch blind and deaf several times in a day.

313. The évenégro wpūtar of the Peripatetics, that is, the sciences, arts, and habits, were by them distinguished from the arts orvenégatan do repon, and supposed to exist in the mind, though not exerted or put into act. This seems to illustrate the manner in which Socrates, Plato, and their followers conceived innate (c) notions to be in the soul of man.. In was the Platonic doctrine, that humane souls or minds descended from above, and were sowed in generation, that they were stunned, stupified, and intoxicated by this descent and immersion into animal nature. And that the soul, in this orchewžus or slumber, forgets her original notions, which are smothered and oppressed by many false tenets and prejudices of sense. Insomuch that Proclus compares the soul, in her descent invested with growing prejudices, to Glaucus diving to the bottom of the sea, and there contracting divers coats of sea-weed, coral, and shells, which stick close to him and conceal his true shape.

314. Hence, according to this philosophy, the mind of man is so restless to shake off that number, to disengage and emancipate herself from those prejudices and false opinions, that so straitly (C) 309.

bcret beset and cling to her, to rub off those covers, that disguise her original form, and to regain her primæ. val state and first nocions : Hence, that perpetual struggle to recover the lost region of light, that ardent thirst and endeavour after truth and intel. lectual ideas, which she would neither seek to attain, nor rejoice in, nor know when attained, exCope she had some prænotion or anticipation of them, and they had lain innate and dorniant like habits and sciences in the mind, or things laid up, which are called out and roused by recollection or reminiscence. So that learning leemeth in effect reminiscence.

315. The Peripatetics themselves distinguish between reminiscence and mere memory. Themiftius observes that commonly the best memories go with the worst parts; but that reminiscence is most perfect in the most ingenious minds. And notwithstanding the tabula rasa (d) of Aristotle, yet some of his followers have undertaken to make him speak Plato's sense. Thus Plutarch the Peripateric teacheth as agreeable to his master's doctrine, that learning is reminiscence, and that the voś xato per le is in children. Simplicius also, in his commentary on the third book of Aristotle mei fugens, speakech of a certain interiour reason in the foul, acting of it self, and originally full of it's own proper notions, wrners ap' fowls Tv οικείων γνωρών.

316. And as the Placonic philosophy supposed intellectual notions to be originally inexistent or innate in the soul (e), fo likewise it supposed fenfible qualities to exist (though not originally) in the soul, and there only. Socrates faith to Theætecus, You must not think the white colour chat you see is in any thing without your eyes, or in your eyes, () 308.

(e) 309, 314.

[ocr errors]

or in any place at all. And in the Timæus Plato teacheth, that the figure and motion of the particles of fire dividing the parts of our bodies produce that painful sensation we call heat. And Plotinus, in the sixth book of his second Ennead, observes that heat and other qualities are not qualities in the things themselves, but acts: that heat is not a quality, but act, in the fire : that fire is not really what we perceive in the qualities light, heat, and colour. From all which it is plain, that whatever real things they supposed to exist independent of the soul, those were neither sensible things, nor cloathed with sensible qualities. . 317. Neither Plato nor Aristotle by matter, van, understood corporeal substance, whatever the moderns may understand by that' word. To them certainly it signified no positive actual being Aristotle describes it as made up of negatives, having neither quantity nor quality nor essence. And not only the Platonists and Pythagoreans, but also the Peripatetics themselves declare it to be known, neither by sense, nor by any direct and just reasoning, but only by some spurious or adulterine method, as hath been observed before. ' Simon Portius, a famous Peripatetic of the sixteenth cen. tury, denies it to be any substance at all, for, saith he, nequit per se subsistere, quia sequeretur, id quod non est in actu effe in actu. If Jamblichus may be credited, the Ægyptians supposed matter so far from including qught of substance or essence, that, according to them, God produced it by a separation from all substance, essence or being, Sro sorózna dogulat éscns vaótulo. That matter is actually nothing, but potentially all things, is the doctrine of Aristotle, Theophrastus, and all the antient Peripatetics. 318. According to those philosophers, matter is

only

only a pura potentia, a mere possibility. But Anaximander, successor to Thales, is represented as having thought the supreme Deity to be infinite matter. Nevertheless though Plutarch calleth it maccer, yet it was simply to dragov, which means no more than infinite or indefinite. And although the moderns teach that space is real and infinitely extended; yer if we consider that it is no intellectual notion, nor yet perceived by any of our senses, we shall perhaps be inclined to think with Plato in his Timæus, that this also is the result of dogismos vóta or spurious reasoning, and a kind of waking dream. Plato observes that we dream, as it were, when we think of place, and believe it necessary, that whatever exists should exist in fome place. Which place or space ) he also observes is ust' arxat nolas aflòr, that is to be felt as darkness is seen, or filence heard, being a mere privation.

319. If any one should think to infer the reality or actual being of matter from the modern tenet, that gravity is always proportionable to the quantity of matter, let him but narrowly sean the modern demonstration of that tenet, and he will find it to be a vain circle, concluding in truth no more than this, that gravity is proportionable to weight, that is to it felf. Since matter is conceived only as defect and mere possibility ; and since God is abfolute perfe&ion and act; it follows there is the greatest distance and opposition imaginable between God and matter. Infomuch that a material God would be altogether inconsistent.

320. The force that produces, the intellect that orders, the goodness that perfects all things, is the supreme being. Evil, defect, negation, is not the object of God's creative power. From : VW 250, 27o.

motion

« EelmineJätka »