« PreviousContinue »
And these ends, to discriminate them from others, may be called animal ends.
Fourthly and lastly, there is another sort of ends which, because they relate particularly to man, may for brevity's sake, be called human ends; which are those that are aimed at by nature, where she is said to frame animals and vegetables, and other of her productions, for the use of man. And these ends themselves may be distinguished into mental, that relate to his mind; and corporeal, that relate to his body, not only as he is an animal, framed like other animals, for his own preservation, and the propagation of his species (mankind); but also as he is framed for dominion over other animals and works of nature, and fitted to make them subservient to the destinations, that one may suppose to have been made of them to his service and benefit.
To come now to the thing itself, whereas Monsieur Des Cartes objects, that it is a presumption for man to pretend to be able to investigate the ends that the omniscient God proposed to himself in the making of his creatures; I consider by way of answer, that there are two very differing ways, wherein a man may pretend to know the ends of God in his visible works; for he may either pretend to know only some of God's ends in some of his works; or he may pretend to know all his ends. He that arrogates to himself to discover God's'ends in this latter sense,
will scarce be ex
cused from a high presumption, and no less a folly, from the reason lately intimated in the Cartesian objection. But 10 pretend to know God's ends in the former sense, is not a presumption ; but rather to take notice of them is a duty. For there are some things in nature so curiously contrived, and so exquisitely fitted for certain operations and uses, that it seems little less than blindness in him, that acknowledges with the Cartesians, a most wise author of things, not to conclude, that though they may have been designed for other (and perhaps higher) uses, yet they were designed for this use. As he, that sees the admirable fabric of the coats, humours, and muscles of the eyes, and how excellently all the parts are adapted to the making up of an organ of vision, can scarce forbear to believe, that the author of nature intended it should serve the animal to which it belongs, to see with. The Epicureans, indeed, that believe the world to have been produced but by the casual concourse of atoms, without the intervention of any intelligent being, may have a kind of excuse, whereof other philosophers are destitute, that acknowledge a deity, if not also a providence. For the very supposition, for instance, that a man's eyes were made by chance, argues, that they need have no relation to a designing agent; and the use that a man makes of them, may be either casual too, or at least may be an effect of his knowledge, not of nature's. But when, upon the anatomical dissection of the optical consideration of a human eye, we use it as exquisitely fitted to be an organ of sight, as the best artificer in the world could have framed a little engine, purposely and mainly designed for the use of seeing; it is very harsh and incongruous to say, that an artificer, who is too intelligent either to do things by chance, or to make a curious piece of workmanship, without knowing what uses it is fit for, should not design it for an use to which it is most fit.
He further illustrates this idea in the following manner:
Suppose that a countryman, being in a clear day brought into the garden of some famous mathematician, should see there one of those curious gnomonic instruments that shew at once the place of the sun in the zodiac, his declination from the equator, the day of the month, the length of the day, &c. It would, indeed, be presumption in him, being unacquainted with the mathematical disciplines, and the several intentions of the artist, to pretend or think himself able to discover all the ends for which so curious and elaborate a piece was framed. But when he sees it furnished with a style, with horary lines and numbers, and, in short, with all the requisites of a sun-dial, and manifestly perceives the shadow to mark, from time to time, the hour of the day, it would be no more a presumption than an error in hiin to conclude, that, (whatever other uses the instrument is fit or was designed for) it is a sundial, that was meant to shew the hour of the day.
He afterwards says:
I readily admit, that in physics, we should indeed ground all things upon as solid reasons as may be had'; but I see no necessity, that those reasons should be always precisely physical; especially if we be treating, not of any particular phenomenon that is produced according to the course of nature established in the world, already constituted as this of ours is; but of the first and general causes of the world itself ; from which causes, I see not why the final causes or uses, that appear manifestly enough to have been designed, should be excluded. And to me, it is not very material, whether or no in physics, or any other discipline, a thing be proved by the peculiar principles of that science or discipline, provided it be firmly proved by the common grounds of reason. And on this occasion, let me observe, that the fundamental tenets of Des Cartes's own philosophy are not by himself proved by arguments strictly physical, but either by metaphysical ones, or the more catholic dictates of reason, or the particular testimonies of experience. For, when for
instance, he truly ascribes to God all the motion that is found in matter, and consequently all the variety of phenomena that occur in the world; he proves not, by an argument precisely physical, that God, who is an immaterial agent, is the efficient cause of motion in matter; but only by this, that since motion does not belong to the essence and nature of matter, matter must owe the motion it has to some other being; and then it is most agreeable to come mon reason to infer, that since matter cannot move itself, but it must be moved by some other being, that being must be immaterial, since otherwise some matter must be able to move itself, contrary to the hypothesis.
38. Medicina Hydrostatica; or, Hydrostatics applied to the Materia Medica; shewing low, by the weight that divers bodies used in physic have in water, one may discover whether they be genuine or adulterate. To which is subjoined, a previous hydrostatical way of estimating ores, 1690.
39. The Christian Virtuoso; shewing that by being addicted to experimental philosophy,