Page images
PDF
EPUB

whether by a gradual (a) evolution or ascent, we

yet the eye and the ear are organs, which offer to the mind such materials, by means whereof the may apprehend both the one and the other. By experiments of sense we become acquainted with the lower faculties of the soul ; and from them, arrive at the highest. Sense supplies images to memory. These become subjects for fancy to work upon. Reason considers and judges of the imaginations. And these acts of reason become new objects to the understanding. In this scale, each lower faculty is a step that leads to one above it. And the uppermost naturally leads to the Deity, which is rather the object of intellectual knowledge than even of the discursive faculty, not to mention the sensitive. There runs a chain throughout the whole system of beings. In this chain one link drags another. The meanest things are connected with the highest. The calamity therefore is neither ftrange nor much to be complained of, if a low sensual reader shall, from mere love of the animal life, find himself drawn on, surprised, and betray'd into fome curiosity concerning the intellectual.

304. There is according to Plato properly no knowledge, but only opinion concerning things sensible and perishing (b), not because they are naturally abstruse and involved in darkness, buě because their nature and existence is uncertain, ever fleeting and changing; or rather, because they do not in strict truth exist at all, being always generating or in fieri, that is, in a perpetual Aux, without any thing stable or permanent in them to conftitute an object of real science. The Pythagoreans and Platonics diftinguifh between το γιόμιον and toov, that which is ever generated and that which exists. Sensible things and corpoteal forms (a) 275. (6) 263, 264.

are

[ocr errors]

are perpetually producing and perishing, appearing and disappearing, never resting in one ftate, but always in motion and change; and therefore in effect, not one being but a succession of beings: while to any is understood to be somewhat of an abstract or spiritual nature, and the proper object of intellectual knowledge. Therefore as there can be no knowledge of things flowing and instable, the opinion of Protagoras and Theætetus, that sense was science, is abfurd. And indeed nothing is more evident, than that the apparent sizes and shapes, for instance, of things are in a constant Aux, ever differing as they are view'd at different distances, or with glasses more or less accurate. As for those absolute magnicudes and figures, which certain Cartesians and other moderns suppose to be in things, that must seem a vain fuppofition, to whoever considers, it is supported by no argument of reason, and no experiment of sense.

305. As understanding perceiveth not, that is, doth not hear or fee or feel, so sense knoweth not : And although the mind may use both sense and phancy, as means whereby to arrive at knowledge yet sense or soul, fo far forth as sensitive, knoweth nothing. For, as it is rightly observed in the Theætetus of Plato, science consists not in the passive preceptions, but in the reasoning upon them, τω οι οκείνων συλλογισμώ.

306. În the ancient philosophy of Plato and Pythagoras, we find distinguished three sorts of objects: In the first place a form or species that is neither generated nor destroyed, unchangeable, invisible, and altogether imperceptible to sense, being only understood by the intellect. A second fort there is ever Auent and changing (8), genera, ting and perishing, appearing and vanishing. This V) 263, 264. (8) 292, 293

is comprehended by fense and opinion. The third kind is matter which, as Plato teacheth, being -neither an object of understanding nor of sense, is hardly to be made out by a certain fpurious way of reafoting λογισμώ τινι νόθω μόγις πισόν. See his Timæus. The fame doctrine is contained in the Pythagoric treatise De anima mundi, which dif

tinguishing ideas, fensible things, and matter, ma. keth the first to be apprehended by intellect, the second by fense, and the last, to wit, matter, Roglou válwo whereof Themiftius the Perripatetic afligns the reason. For, faith he, that act is to be esteemed fpurious, whose object hath nothing positive, being only a mere privation, as filence or darkness. And such he accounteth matter.

307. Ariftocle maketh a threefold distinction of objects according to the three speculative sciences. Phyfics he fupposeth to be converfant about fuch things as have a principle of motion in themselves ; mathematics about things permanent but not abtracted ; and theology about being abstracted and immoveable; which distinction may be seen in the ninth book of his Metaphysics. Where by abftracted, zweisov, he understands feparable from corporeal beings and sensible qualities.

308. That philosopher held that the mind of man was a tabula rafa, and that there were no innate ideas. Plato, on the contrary, held original ideas in the mind, that is, notions which never were or can be in the sense, such as being, beauty, goodnefs, likeness, parity. Some perhaps may think the truth to be this: That there are properly no ideas or passive objects in the mind, but what were derived from fense : but that there are also besides these her own acts or operations ; such are notions, 309. It is a maxim of the Platonic philosophy,

that

that the foul of man was originally furnished with native inbred notions, and stands in need of fenfible occasions, not absolutely for producing them, but only for awakening, rousing, or exciting into act what was already pre-existent, dormant, and latent in the soul ; as' things are said to be laid up in the memory, though not actually perceived, until they happen to be called forth and brought into view by other objects. This notion seemeth somewhat different from that of innate ideas, as understood by those moderns who have attempted to explode them. To understand and to be, are according to Parmenides the fame thing. And Plato in his seventh letter makes no difference between vgs and trusóun, mind and knowledge. Whence it follows, that mind, knowledge, and notions, either in habit or in act, always go together. 310.

And albeit Aristotle considered the soul in it's original state as a blank paper, yet he held it to be the proper place of forms, the fugler divou tómov di Swv (a). Which doctrine first maintained by others he admits, under this restriction, that it is not to be understood of the whole soul, but only of the vonlexn; as is to be seen in his third book De anima. Whence, according to Themiftius in his commentary on that treatise, it may be inferred that all beings are in the soul. For, faith he, the forms are the beings. By the form every thing is what it is.

And he adds, it is the soul that imparteth forms to matter; the brlee μορφώσα ποικίλαις μορφαΐς. Therefore they are frit in the soul. He further adds, that the mind is all things, taking the forms of all things it becomes all things by intellect and sense. Alexander Aphrodifæus faith as much, affirming the mind to be all things, καλά τε το νοείν και το αισθάνεθ. And (a) 269,

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: το αυτο δε έσιν και κατ' ενέργειαν επιστήμη τω mesyual. 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 soul 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 sensible or corporeal things, it doth not seem to have been admitted either by Plato or Aristotle. In the Theatetus 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 self or absolutely, is abfurd. 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 seein 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 lick men, since we are always changing, and never remain the same our felves? And again, he faith, Sensible things, although they receive no change in themselves, do nevertheless in fick perfons produce different sensations and not the fame. These passages would seem to imply a distinct and absolute exiltence of the objects of sense.

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

cording

« EelmineJätka »