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the character of BERKELEY, be permitted to affirm, what we have fufficiently proved, that his doctrine is fubverfive of man's most important interefts, as a moral, intelligent, and percipient being.
After all, though I were to grant, that the difbelief of the existence of matter could not produce any confiderable change in our principles of action and reafoning, the reader will find in the fequel*, that the point I have chiefly in view would not be much affected even by that conceffion. I fay not this, as being diffident or fceptical in regard to what I have advanced on the present fubject. Doctrines which I do not believe, I will never recommend to others. I am abfolutely certain, that to me the belief of BERKELEY'S fyftem would be attended with the most fatal confequences; and that it would be equally dangerous to the rest of mankind, I cannot doubt, fo long as I believe their nature and mine to be the fame.
Though it be abfurd to attempt a proof of what is felf-evident, it is manly and meritorious to confute the objections that sophistry may urge against it. This, with respect to the fubject in queftion, has been done, in a decifive and masterly manner, by the learned and fagacious Dr Reid t; who proves,
*Part 2. chap. 3.
Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Senfe..
that the reasonings of BERKELEY, and others, concerning primary and fecondary qualities*, owe all their strength to the ambiguity of words. I have proved, that, tho' this fundamental error had never been detected, the philofophy of BERKELEY is in its own nature abfurd, because it fuppofes the original principles of common sense controvertible and fallacious : a fuppofition repugnant to the genius of true philofophy; and which leads to univerfal credulity, or univerfal fcepticifm; and, confequently, to the fubversion of all knowledge and virtue.
It is proper, before we proceed to the next
*DES CARTES, LOCKE, and BERKELEY, fuppofe, that what we call a body is nothing but a collection of qualities; and these they divide into primary and fecondary. Of the former kind are magnitude, extenfion, folidity, &c. which LOCKE and the CARTESIANS allow to belong to bodies at all times, whether perceived or not. Of the latter kind are the heat of fire, the smell and taste of a rofe, &c. and thefe, by the fame authors, and by BERKELEY, are faid to exift, not in the bodies themfelves, but only in the mind that perceives them: an error they are led into by fuppofing, that the words heat, tafte, fmell, &c. fignify nothing but a perception; whereas we have formerly fhown, that they alfo fignify an external thing. BERKELEY, following the hints which he found in DES CARTES, MALEBRANCHE, and LOCKE, has applied the fame mode of reafoning to prove, that primary, as well as fecondary qualities, have no external existence; and confequently, that body (which confifts of these two claffes of qualities, and nothing elfe) exifts only as an idea in the mind that perceives it, and exifts no longer than while it is perceived.
inftance, to make a remark or two on what has been faid.
1. Here we have an instance of a doctrine. advanced by fome philofophers, in direct contradiction to the general belief of all men in all ages.
2. The reasoning by which it is fupported, though long accounted unanswerable, did never produce a ferious and steady conviction. Common fenfe ftill declared the doctrine to be falfe; we were forry to find the powers of human reafon fo limited, as not to afford a logical confutation of it; we were convinced it merited confutation, and flattered ourselves, that one time or other it would be confuted.
3. The real and general belief of this doctrine would be attended with fatal confequences to fcience, and to human nature; for this is a doctrine according to which a man could not act nor reafon in the common affairs of life, without incurring the charge of infanity or folly, and involving himself in diftrefs and perdition.
4. An ingenious man, from a fenfe of the bad tendency of this doctrine, applies himfelf to examine the principles on which it is founded; difcovers them to be erroneous; and proves, to the full conviction of competent judges, that from beginning to end it is all a mystery of falfehood, arifing from the ufe of ambiguous words, and from the gratuitous admiffion of principles which never could
could have been admitted if they had been thoroughly understood.
Of Liberty and Neceffity.
THE fecond inftance to which I purpose to apply the principles of this difcourfe, by fhowing the danger of carrying any investigation beyond the dictates of common fenfe, is no other than the celebrated question concerning liberty and neceffity; a question on which many things have been faid, and fome things, I prefume, to little purpose. To enter into all the particulars of this controverfy, is foreign to my prefent defign; and I would not wish to add to a dispute already too bulky. My intention is, to treat the doctrine of neceffity as I treated that of the non-existence of matter; by enquiring, whether the one be not, as well as the other, contrary to common fenfe, and therefore abfurd.
1. That certain intentions and actions are in themselves, and previous to all confideration of their confequences, good, laudable, and meritorious; and that other actions and intentions are bad, blameable, and worthy of punishment, has been felt and acknowled
ged by all reasonable creatures in all ages and nations. We need not wonder at the univerfality of this fentiment: it is as natural to the human conftitution, as the faculties of hearing, seeing, and memory; it is as clear, unequivocal, and affecting, as any intimation from any fense external or internal.
2. That we cannot do fome things, but have it in our power to do others, is what no man in his fenfes will hesitate to affirm. I can take up my staff from the ground, but I cannot lift a ftone of a thousand weight. On a common, I may walk fouthward or northward, eastward or weftward; but I cannot ascend to the clouds, nor fink downward to the centre of the earth. Juft now I have power to think of an abfent friend, of the Peak of Teneriffe, of a paffage in Homer, or of the death of Charles I. When a man afks me a question, I have it in my power to anfwer or be filent, to answer foftly or roughly, in terms of refpect or in terms of contempt. Frequent temptations to vice fall in my way; I may yield, or I may refift: if I refift, I applaud myself, because I am conscious it was in my power to do otherwise ; if I yield, I am filled with fhame and remorfe, for having neglected to do what I might have done, and ought to have done. My liberty in these instances I cannot prove by argument; but there is not a truth in geometry of which I am more certain.
Is not this doctrine fufficiently obvious? Muft