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not have taken the pains of answering Dr. Clarke's argument on this point. That nothing can either act or perceive where it is not, is a self-evident proposition, but what metaphysicians who have studied the subject, ever maintained that the mind could not perceive an object to which it was not immediately present, except in the cases that have been before mentioned? No such doctrine is known to Aristotle, Des Cartes or Locke. All that these philosophers hold, is, that the soul is united to the organs of the body, and that to the action produced in those organs by the several media of outward objects, a perception of these objects is annexed. While Dr. Reid, however, in order to give colour to his charge against the metaphysicians, mentions the opinions and quotes the language of Dr. Clarke, in his letters to Leibnitz, how happens it that he has neglected to furnish us with the reply of Leibnitz? The last mentioned writer in his answer to Clarke, has the following expressions. Je ne demeure point d'accord des notions vulgaires, comme si les images des choses etoient transportées par les organes, jusqu'à l'ame Car il n'est point concevable par quelque ouverture, ou par quelle voiture, ce transport des images depuis l'organe jusque dans l'ame se peut faire. Cette notion de la philosophie vulgaire, n'est point intelligible: comme les nouveaux Cartesiens l'ont assez montré. L'on ne sauroit expliquer comment la substance immaterielle est affectée par la matiere: et soutenir une chose non intelligible la dessus, c'est recourir a la notion scholastique chemerique de je ne sai quelles especes intentionelles, inexplicables, qui passent des organes dans l'ame. Ces Cartesiens ont vû la difficulté, mais ils ne l'ont point resolue; ils ont eu recours à un concours de Dieu qui seroit miraculeux en effet. Mais je crois d'avoir donne la veritable solution de cette Enigme. Whatever we may think of the system of Liebnitz, of which he here expresses so favourable an opinion himself, it cannot but be perceived that there were philosophers before the rise of the Scottish
school of metaphysics, who thought it idle to attempt to explain, how an immaterial substance can be affected by matter, or perception is occasioned, and who considered the doctrine of sensible species as unintelligible and absurd,
The Theory of Bishop Berkeley.
Bishop BERKELEY has rendered himself celebrated by etideavouring to disprove the existence of an external world. Pursuing an opposite course from that of Don Quixotte, who converted his fantasies into realities, he would reduce every object of real nature, the sun, moon, stars, &c. to a mere collection of ideas or unreal images. The world has certainly been disposed to receive with great good humour, and treated with extraordinary lenity, this attempt of the Bishop to overturn the evidence of the senses, and deprive it of every object which seems inost dear to it. Whether this effect has resulted from respect for the character of an au. thor, who was said by the poet, to have possessed every virtue under Heaven, or from a willingness to witness a display of ingenuity and sophistry, on a subject, not likely in its cousequences to prove injurious to any one, I cannot pretend to say; but certain it is, that attempts of this nature are more calculated than any other kind of disquisition, to bring the science of metaphysics, one of the most noble and useful that can be cultivated, into utter disrepute and contempt with the sober and reflecting part of mankind. “There is no subject,” says Fontenelle,“ on which men ever come to form a reasonable opinion, until they have once exhausted all the absurd views which it is possible to take of it. What fol. lies, he continues, should we not be repeating at this day, if we had not been anticipated in so many of them by the ancient philosophers! In addition to the sentiment of Fonte nelle, that whenever any subject has been brought into dis
cussion among philosophers, the true doctrine has been invariably attended by every folly and absurdity, which could be conceived; it may be remarked, that the generations of men, instead of improving upon the lessons taught them by their predecessors, have ever been ready to travel the same round of follies and absurdities with them. Not a system of philosophy has been broached in modern times, that had not its archetype in the ancient world. Pyrrho and his disciples are said to have been so firmly convinced, that every object of sense was mere fantasy, and that the whole order of the exterior world was mere scenic representation and delusions of the senses, that they would not turn out of the way to avoid a carriage, and to keep themselves from falling down a precipice. In this wise fraternity we discern the prototypes of Berkeley, Hume, and their followers, if they ever had any. It is impossible to believe that berkeley, could have embraced in good faith and sincerity, a doctrine so palpably and preposterously absurd. Mr. Hume evidently sports himself with the indulgence of sceptical doubts, or if he is ever serious, it is with the express purpose of unsettling the foundations of all truth and certainty.
Whatever may be thought of Mr. Hume for attempting to prove, that there is neither matter nor mind in the uni. verse, it must be allowed to have been a noble undertaking for a Bishop, to overturn the evidence of the senses. A people who could be so sceptical as to disbelieve the existence of an exterior world, would find such a state of mind, a rare preparation for a reception of the doctrines of Christianity. It is curious to see how the Bishop endeavours to invalidate the force of the charge of scepticism, which he saw likely to be alleged against him. In this subterfuge, we see a specimen of that subtilty and power of making the worse appear the better reason, which we think, besides great neatness and force of expression and perspicuity of style, is the only thing remarkable in the essay. While we make this concession, however, in favour of the talents of the Bishop, we cannot but be so faithful to our own sentiments as to declare, that we have never been able to read his pieces through, without a painful effort and much impatience, and that we always felt much less disposed to lenity and indulgence, in our strictures upon those performances, than the literary public appear generally to have been. He may impose upon the ignorant and undiscerning, but to those who are acquainted with the science of mind, the veil of his sophistry is too thin to conceal the fallacies which he strives to palm upon his readers. In his dialogue entitled Hylas and Philonous, which is his best treatise upon the subject, where he puts forth all his strength, Hylas, who is the advocate of an exterior world, is a mere man of straw, set up to be knocked down at pleasure, or at least is too complaisant an antagonist, to press his argument with much force or vehemence against his companion. See, in the beginning, how the Bishop vindicates his doctrine against the allegation of scepticism. Philonous defines a “sceptic to be a man who doubts of every thing. One who firmly believes, therefore, that there is no exterior world, cannot be called a sceptic."
It must be admitted that this is an admirable definition, and a still more admirable argument. According to this reasoning, a man who firmly believes that there is no God, but that the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms or existed from eternity, that there is no such thing as a soul in man distinct from his material organization, and that, at death, there is an utter extinction of being, as well as a dissolution of the body, is no sceptic; because he has formed decided opinions on these points, and is not perplexed with doubts. Is it possible that Bishop Berkeley did not foresee inferences of this kind, and that they were unanswerable? Throughout the whole of his treatise on this subject, I cannot but think that, so far from discovering any of that candour and love of the truth, for its own sake, which