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us, and with those intellectual instruments, by which, alike in every science, truth is to be detected and evolved. On this influence, which the philosophy of mind must always exercise on general philosophy, I have dwelt the longer, because, important as the relation is, it is one which we are peculiarly apt to forget; and the more apt to forget it, on account of that very excellence of the physical sciences, to which it has itself essentially contributed. The discoveries, which reward our inquiry into the properties of matter, as now carried on, on principles better suited to the nature and limits of our powers of investigation, are too splendid to allow us to look back to the circumstances which prepared them at a distance; and we avail ourselves of rules, that are the result of logical analysis, without reflecting, and almost without knowing, that they are the result of any analysis whatever. We are, in this respect, like navigators on the great ocean, who perform their voyage successfully by the results of observations, of which they are altogether ignorant; who look, with perfect confidence, to their compass and chart, and think of the stars as useful only in those early ages, when the pilot, if he ventured from shore, had no other directors of his course. It is only some more skilful mariner who is still aware of their guidance; and who knows, how much he is indebted to the satellites of Jupiter for the accuracy of that very chart, by which the crowds around him are mechanically directing their course.
The chief reason, however, for my dwelling so long on this central and governing relation, which the philosophy of intellect bears to all other philosophy, is, that I am anxious to impress their relation strongly on your minds; not so much with a view to the importance which it may seem to give to the particular science that is to engage us together, as with a view to those other sciences in which you may already have been engaged, or which may yet await you in the course of your studies. The consideration of mind, as universally present and presiding, at once the medium of all the knowledge which can be acquired, and the subject of all the truths of which that knowledge consists, gives, by its own unity, a sort of unity and additional dignity to the sciences, of which their scattered experiments and observations would otherwise be unsusceptible. It is an unfortunate effect of physical inquiry, when exclusively devoted to the properties of external things, to render the mind, in our imagination, subordinate to the objects on which it is directed; the faculties are nothing, the objects every thing. The very nature of such inquiry leads us perpetually without to observe and arrange, and nothing brings us back to the observer and arranger within; or, if we do occasionally cast an inquisitive glance on the phenomena of our thought, we bring back with us what Bacon, in his strong language, calls "the smoke and tarnish of the furnace;"-the mind seems, to us, to be broken down to the littleness of the objects which it has been habitually contemplating; and we regard the faculties that measure earth and heaven, and that add infinity to infinity, with a curiosity of no greater interest, than that with which we inquire into the angles of a crystal, or the fructification of a moss. "Ludit istis animus," says one of the most eloquent of the ancients,-" Ludit istis animus, non proficit; et philosophiam a fastigio deducit in planum." To rest in researches of this minute kind, indeed, if we were absolutely to REST in them, without any higher and profounder views, would truly be, as he says, to drag down philosophy from that pure eminence on which she sits, to the very dust of the plain on which we tread. To the inquirer, however, whose mind has been previously imbued with this first philosophy, and who has learned to trace, in the
wonders of every science, the wonders of his own intellectual frame, there is no physical research, however minute its object, which does not at once elevate the mind, and derive elevation from it. Nothing is truly humble, which can exercise faculties that are themselves sublime.
-Search, undismayed the dark profound,
Kindling the mass with ever active flame :
Her fleet ideal band; and bid them go
Break through time's barrier, and o'ertake the hour
That saw the heavens created; then declare,
If aught were found in these external scenes
In the physics of the material universe, there is, it must be owned, much that is truly worthy of our philosophic admiration, and of the sublimest exertions of philosophic genius. But even that material world will appear more admirable, to him who contemplates it, as it were, from the height of his own mind, and who measures its infinity with the range of his own limited but aspiring faculties. He is unquestionably the philosopher most worthy of the name, who unites to the most accurate knowledge of mind, the most accurate knowledge of all the physical objects amid which he is placed; who makes each science, to each, reciprocally a source of additional illumination; and who learns, from both, the noblest of all the lessons which they can give, -the knowledge and adoration of that divine Being, who has alike created and adapted to each other, with an order so harmonious, the universe of matter, and the universe of thought.
RELATION OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND TO THE SCIENCES AND ARTS MORE STRICTLY INTELLECTUAL.
In my last lecture, gentlemen, I illustrated, at great length, the relation which the philosophy of mind bears to all the other sciences, as the common centre of each. These sciences I represented, as, in their relation to the powers of discovery, that are exercised in them, truly arts, in all the various intellectual processes of which, the artist is the same, and the instruments the same; and as to the perfection of any of the mechanical arts, it is essential, that we know the powers of the instruments employed in it, so, in the inventive processes of science of every kind, it seems essential to the perfection of the process, that we should know, as exactly as possible, the powers and the limits of these intellectual instruments, which are exercised alike in all,— that we may not waste our industry, in attempting to accomplish with them * Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination, Book I. v. 512-526. 4
what is impossible to be accomplished, and at the same time may not despair of achieving with them any of the wonders to which they are truly adequate, if skilfully and perseveringly exerted; though we should have to overcome many of those difficulties which present themselves, as obstacles to every great effort, but which are insurmountable, only to those who despair of surmounting them.
It was to a consideration of this kind, as to the primary importance of knowing the questions to which our faculties are competent, that we are indebted for one of the most valuable works in our science, a work, which none can read even now, without being impressed with reverence for the great talents of its author; but of which it is impossible to feel the whole value, without an acquaintance with the verbal trifling, and barren controversies, that still perplexed and obscured intellectual science at the period when it was written.
The work to which I allude is the Essay on the Human Understanding, to the composition of which Mr. Locke, in his preface, states himself to have been led by an accidental conversation with some friends who had met at his chamber. In the course of a discussion, which had no immediate relation to the subject of the Essay, they found themselves unexpectedly embarrassed by difficulties that appeared to rise on every side, when after many vain attempts to extricate themselves from the doubts which perplexed them, it occurred to Mr. Locke, that they had taken a wrong course, that the inquiry in which they were engaged was probably one which was beyond the reach of human faculties, and, that their first inquiry should have been, into the nature of the understanding itself, to ascertain what subjects it was fit to explore and comprehend.
"When we know our strength," he remarks, "we shall the better know what to undertake with hopes of success: and when we have well surveyed the powers of our own minds, and made some estimate what we may expect from them, we shall not be inclined either to sit still, and not set our thoughts on work at all, in despair of knowing any thing; or, on the other side, question every thing, and disclaim all knowledge, because some things are not to be understood. It is of great use to the sailor, to know the length of his line, though he cannot with it fathom all the depths of the ocean. It is well he knows, that it is long enough to reach the bottom, at such places as are necessary to direct his voyage, and caution him against running upon shoals that may ruin him. This was that which gave the first rise to this essay concerning the understanding. For I thought, that the first step towards satisfying several inquiries, the mind of man was very apt to run into, was to take a survey of our own understandings, examine our own powers, and see to what things they were adapted. Till that was done, I suspected we began at the wrong end, and in vain sought for satisfaction in a quiet and sure possession of truths that most concerned us, while we let loose our thoughts into the vast ocean of being, as if all that boundless extent were the natural and undoubted possession of our understandings. Thus men, extending their inquiries beyond their capacities, and letting their thoughts wander into those depths, where they can find no sure footing, it is no wonder that they raise questions and multiply disputes, which, never coming to any clear resolution, are proper only to continue and increase their doubts, and to confirm them, at last, in perfect scepticism; whereas, were the capacities of our understanding well considered, the extent of our knowledge once discovered, and the horizon found, which sets the bounds, between the enlightened and dark
parts of things, between what is and what is not comprehensible by us, men would perhaps, with less scruple, acquiesce in the avowed ignorance of the one, and employ their thoughts and discourse, with more advantage and satisfaction in the other."
These observations of Mr. Locke illustrate, very happily, the importance of a right view of the limits of our understanding, for directing our inquiries to the objects that are truly within our reach. It is not the waste of intellect, as it lies torpid in the great multitude of our race, that is alone to be regretted in relation to science, which in better circumstances, it might improve and adorn. It is in many cases, the very industry of intellect, busily exerted, but exerted in labours that must be profitless, because the objects, to which the labour is directed, are beyond the reach of man. If half the zeal, and, I may add, even half the genius, which, during so many ages, were employed in attempting things impossible, had been given to investigations, on which the transcendental inquirers of those times would certainly have looked down with contempt, there are many names that are now mentioned only with ridicule or pity, for which we should certainly have felt the same deep veneration, which our hearts so readily offer to the names of Bacon and Newton; or perhaps even the great names of Bacon and Newton might, in comparison with them, have been only of secondary dignity. It was not by idleness that this high rank of instructers and benefactors of the world was lost, but by a blind activity more hurtful than idleness itself. To those who never could have thought of numbering the population of our own little globe, it seemed an easy matter to number, with precise arithmetical accuracy, the tribes of angels, and to assign to each order of spiritual beings its separate duties, and separate dignities, with the exactness of some heraldic pomp; and, amid all those visible demonstrations of the divinity which surround us, wherever we turn our view, there were minds that could think in relation to him, of every thing but his wisdom and goodness; as if He who created us, and placed around us this magnificent system of things, were an object scarcely worthy of our reverence, till we had fixed his precise station in our logical categories, and had determined, not the majestic relations which he bears to the universe, as created and sustained by his bounty, but all the frivolous relations which he can be imagined to bear to impossibilities and nonentities.
O, sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies!
It is, indeed, then, to borrow Mr. Locke's metaphor, of no slight importance to know the length of our line, though we cannot, with it, fathom all the depths of the ocean. With the knowledge, that, to a certain depth at least, we may safely confide in it, we shall not be corrupted, by our fear, to coast along the shore, with such cautious timidity as to lose all the treasures which might be obtained by a more adventurous voyage; nor tempted in the rashness of ignorance or despair, to trust ourselves wildly to every wind, though our course should be amidst rocks and quicksands.
The study of the natural limits of the faculties of the mind, has, indeed, sometimes been misrepresented, as favouring a tendency to vague and unli
* Essay on the Human Understanding.-Introd. sect. 6, 7.
mited doubt on all subjects, even on those most important to individual and social happiness; as if the great names, to which we have long given our admiration, for the light which they have thrown on the powers and weaknesses of the human understanding, were not also the very names which we have been accustomed, not to admire merely, but to venerate, for excellence of a still nobler kind. Far from leading to general scepticism, it is, on the contrary, a sound study of the principles of our intellectual and moral nature, which alone can free from the danger of it. If the sceptical philosophy be false, as the asserters of this objection will allow that it most assuredly is, it can be overcome and destroyed only by a philosophy that is true; and the more deeply, and the more early, the mind is imbued with the principles of truth, the more confidently may we rely on its rejection of the errors that are opposed to them. It is impossible for one, who is not absolutely born to labour, to pass through life without forming, in his own mind, occasionally, some imperfect reflections on the faculties by which he perceives and reasons; or without catching, from those with whom he may associate, some of those vague notions, of a vague philosophy, which pass unexamined, from mind to mind, and become current in the very colloquial language of the day. The alternatives, therefore, (if we can, indeed, think of any other alternative when truth is one,) are not those of knowledge and absolute ignorance of the mental phenomena, but of knowledge more or less accurate; because absolute ignorance, even though it were a state to be wished, is beyond our power to preserve, in one who enjoys, in any respects, the benefit of education and liberal society. We might, with much greater prospect of success, attempt, by merely keeping from his view all professed treatises of Astronomy, to prevent him from acquiring that slight and common acquaintance with the system of the heavenly bodies, which is necessary for knowing that the sun does not go round the earth, than we could hope to prevent him from forming, or receiving, some notions, accurate or inaccurate, as to the nature of mind; and we surely cannot suppose, that the juster those opinions are, as to the nature and force of the principles of belief, the feebler must the principles of belief appear. It is not so, that nature has abandoned us, with principles which we must fear to examine, and with truths and illusions which we must never dare to separate. In teaching us what our powers are incapable of attaining, she has at the same time, taught us what truths they may attain; and within this boundary, we have the satisfaction of knowing, that she has placed all the truths that are important for our virtue and happiness. He, whose eyes are the clearest to distinguish the bounding circle, cannot surely, be the dullest to perceive the truths that are within. To know only to doubt, is but the first step in philosophy; and to rest at this first step, is either imbecility or idleness. It is not there that wisdom sees, and compares, and pronounces; it is ignorance, that, with dazzled eyes, just opening from the darkness of the night, perceives that she has been dreaming, without being able to distinguish, in the sunshine, what objects really existing are around. He alone is the philosopher truly awake, who knows both how to doubt, and how to believe; believing what is evident on the very same principles, which lead him to doubt, with various degrees of uncertainty, where the evidence is less sure. To conceive, that inquiry must lead to scepticism, is itself a species of scepticism, as to the power and evidence of the principles to which we have given our assent, more degrading, because still more irrational, than that open and consistent scepticism which it dreads. It