Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

rived at this point, turning every way, I find, for myself, I can go no further as to the reason of operation, and am fully convinced, that power, though I cannot fee, or hear, or form an idea of it, coexists with active property, a related paffive property and fuitable circumstances of their fubjects or in other words, ability, capacity, and opportunity.

I have faid the more to this point, because a respectable, a very respectable writer now living, has avowed this opinion, that power is a quality, but which I conceive to be an opinion remote from truth and reafon.

Second Objection. An objector is of opinion, that matter cannot be the fubject of active property, or, that active property can only have mind for its fubject. That if we survey changes in matter, they seem dependent only on a transfer of passion, and have nothing to do with activity. One moving body by moving another, lofes fo much of its motion as is imparted to that other. But that, in respect of mind, we find by experience, that barely by a thought we can move fome parts of our bodies which were before at reft. That in fine, he cannot find any place for causes among merely material things, and that in his opinion, causes can only be mental or exist in mind only.

In reply to fuch an objector, I grant to him, that all motions require a mover, which muft primarily

L

primarily or originally be mind. This mind is the fupreme being. I grant alfo, that all causes must centre in him, who is the eternal fource, or admitter, of all modifications and changes of exiftence: But I wish it to be noticed, that I have not treated of the first cause, but of fecond or common causes, caufes which are within our daily cognizance.

Now refpecting our bodies and minds, fo far is it from evident, that changes in matter primarily originate in mind, that the reverse seems actually the fact for were there no motion in matter we have no degree of evidence that there could be thought in human minds. I grant, that children and favages, if fhewn the time measurer, called a watch, would be apt to admit there is fome little. demon within that keeps it going: But this is another cafe in which I muft diffent from the judgment of some philofophers, fince I cannot admit this judgment of children and of savages to be a first principle of knowledge: But do account it a mere prejudice of infancy, and of the ignorant. Perhaps the original ftamina of intellectual life might be imparted to a pebble: But as by its conftitution it has no organ of sense, it could not be a confcious being. Give it fome known organ of fenfe: Yet if it had no internal motion, and was affected by no external motion, I cannot think, recurring to the known laws of the fenfes, that fenfation or perception could exist.

And

And if there is no perception there can be no consciousness: If there is no consciousness, there can be no reflection, nor abstraction: In a word, no knowledge, no thought at all.

As to his notion, that changes in matter do depend on a mere transfer of paffion. I observe, that in my opinion, the objector confounds in conception, not only his notion of power with that of property and dominion, but also with ve locity, and fo is led into further mistakes. Velocity is the name, by which I call the ability of motion, or of a moving body: Or it is the active property of a body in motion. The ball which by motion obeys the ftroke of a billiard ftick, may lose a part or the whole of its velocity, by meeting with a ball of suitable weight lying in its way, to which it imparts it: but it cannot lofe any degree of its dominion, circumstances confidered; for the aggregate of dominion or active property and opportunity, must be estimated not merely by its velocity, but by every other circum. stance. If with a certain velocity we fuppofe a ball fo circumftanced, that it would run ten feet and not liable in its direction to be intercepted by another ball: We may then say it has dominion fufficient to run ten feet. But if it is fo circumftanced, that it fhall meet another ball at three feet distance, the velocity as before, we now estimate its dominion according to what length it can roll, and what power would attend its action on

[blocks in formation]

the other ball, from their relative fizes, and the manner of their hitting, whether the confequence in fact, is, communication of motion to the other ball, the rest of both balls, or a recoil of itself, according to the known laws of impulse. Ability of a moving body, or velocity, is a mode of a mode, at least depends for its existence on the exiftence of another mode, confequently, velocity can exist no longer than its primary mode motion. Operation and influence, are dependent on velocity, yet there may be velocity when there is no power, operation, influence, and efficiency, in regard of communicating motion to another fubject.

Probably the objector would do well to reflect, that he has no more a direct conception of the primary operation of mind on the body, than he has of the operation, impulfe, attraction, gravitation, or elasticity on matter, respecting motion or reft. In all these cafes, the idea is but an idea of abstraction. Thought, is not effential to the beginning of motion of bodies, within our notice, under the laws of motion established by the divine mind. For does not gravitation begin as well as continue the motion of a body whofe support is removed? Does not elasticity begin and continue the motion of a watch? Does not a magnet concur by attraction to the motion of particles of fteel, which placed within the sphere of its dominion, fly towards it? The evident

concurrence

concurrence of mind, to the beginning or continuing motion in cafes, in which we find by experience, that barely by a thought of our minds, we move the parts of our bodies which were before at reft, appears to me to afford no nearer approach to a direct conception of power, operation, influence, and efficiency, in their effence, than gravity when it produces motion. A ball rolls down my desk and falls to the ground: be gins to roll on the inclined plane by a force dependent on gravity, and falls alfo by the fame principle. In both cafes, the mind seems utterly incompetent to a direct conception of the inter vening operation and influence. Perhaps our ignorance of the infenfible particles and qualities of body, occafions our entire ignorance of the operation and influence, to which matter, in these cafes, effentially concurs.

ThirdObjection. Suppose another objector should doubt on the other hand, the existence of mental causes, and be inclined to difpute mental efficiency. Suppofe he fhould tell us that reasons have no weight as incitives, but what we please to give them. That we are deceived when we imagine, that fome objects as conceived are effential to the existence of paffion: that motives are but counsellors; and that rewards and punishments, commands, intreaties, expostulations, and other instruments of government, have neither ability,

L3

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »