Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 fucceffion of beings : while to av is understood to be somewhat of an abitract 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 Theæterus, that sense was science, is abfurd. And indeed nothing is more evident, than that the apparent sizes and Thapes, 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 magnitudes and figures, which certain Cartesians and other moderns suppose to be in things, that must seem a vain fupposition, 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, fo fenfe knoweth not: And although the mind may use both sense and phancy, as means whereby to arrive at knowledge yet sense or soul, so far forth as sensitive, knoweth nothing. For, as it is rightly observed in the Theæretus of Plato, science confifts not in the passive preceptions, but in the reasoning upon them, τω οι εκείνων συλλογισμώ.

306. In the ancient philosophy of Plato and Pythagoras, we find distinguished three forts 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), generacing and perishing, appearing and vanishing. This 263, 264. (8) 292, 293

is comprehended by sense 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 spurious way of reafoning λογισμώ τινι νόθω μόγις πισόν. See his Timæus. The same doctrine is contained in the Pythagoric treatise De anima mundi, which diftinguishing ideas, sensible things, and matter, maketh the first to be apprehended by intellect, the second by sense, and the laft, to wit, matter, nogoouộ vólwo whereof Themiftius the Perripatetic assigns the reason. For, faith he, that act is to be esteemed fpurious, whose object hath nothing positive, being only a mere privation, as silence or darkness. And such he accounteth matter.

307. Aristotle maketh a threefold distinction of objects according to the three speculative sciences, Physics he supposeth to be conversant about such things as have a principle of motion in themselves; mathematics about things permanent but not abstracted ; and theology about being abstracted and immoveable ; which distinction may be seen in the ninth book of his Metaphysics. Where by ab. stracted, xwersår, he understands feparable from corporeal beings and sensible qualities,

308. That philosopher held that the mind of man was a tabula rasa, 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, goodness, 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 sense: but that there are also besides these her own acts or operations ; such, are notions. 309. It is a maxim pf the Platonic philosophy,

that

[ocr errors]

that the soul of man was originally furnished with native inbred notions, and stands in need of fensible 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 same thing. And Plato in his seventh letter makes no difference between vês and étasuun, 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, thee fugle Eiroue tómov ddwy (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 vostra'; as is to be seen in his third book De anima. Whence, according to Themistius in his commentary on that treatise, it may be inferred that all beings are in the foul. 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 impartech forms to matter; tlee Orle μορφώσα ποικίλαις μορφαΐς. Therefore they are firft 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 Aphrodilæus faith as much, affirming the mind to be all things, καλά τε το νούν και το αισθάνεση. And {a) 269.

this in fact is Aristotle's own doctrine in his third book De anima, where he also afferts, with Plato, that actual knowledge and the thing known are all one: το αυτο δε εςιν και κατ' ενέργειαν επισήμη το wegiymało. 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 felf 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 feem 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 fame, no more than to fick men, since we are always changing, and never remain the same our selves? And again, he faith, Sensible things, although they receive no change in themselves, do nevertheless in sick perfons produce different sensations and not the same. These passages would seem to imply a distinct and absolute existence 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(6) 264, 292, 294.

cording

cording to Aristotle, because a thing is, it must actually exist. This is evident from the eighth book of his Metaphysics, where he animadverts on the Megaric philosophers, as not admitting a possible existence distinct from the actual : from whence, faith 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 that Megaric doctrine, we can have no sense but while we actually exert it: we are blind when we do not see, and therefore both blind and deaf several times in a day.

313. The ivlenézetan zopãram of the Peripatetics, that is, the sciences, arts, and habits, were by them distinguished from the acts or švenézetas Soutipan, 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 defcended 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 óráigwžis or slumber, forgets her original notions, which are smothered and oppressed by many false tenets and prejudices of sense. Insomuch that Proclus compares the foul, 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 flumber, to disengage and emancipate herself from those prejudices and false opinions, that so straicly (c) 309.

beset

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »