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in science,—that the intellectual chart delineated by him is, with all its imperfections, the only one of which modern philosophy has yet to boast ;—and that the united talents of D'Alembert and of Diderot, aided by all the lights of the eighteenth century, have been able to add but little to what Bacon performed.
After the foregoing observations, it will not be expected that an attempt is to be made, in the following Essay, to solve a problem which has so recently baffled the powers of these eminent writers; and which will probably long continue to exercise the ingenuity of our successors. How much remains to be previously done for the improvement of that part of Logic, whose province it is to fix the limits by which contiguous departments of study are defined and separated! And how many unsuspected affinities may be reasonably presumed to exist among sciences, which, to our circumscribed views, appear at present the most alien from each other ! The abstract geometry of Apollonius and Archimedes, was found, after an interval of two thousand years, to furnish a torch to the physical inquiries of Newton; while, in the further progress of knowledge, the Etymology of Languages has been happily employed to fill up the ehasms of Ancient History; and the conclusions of Comparative Anatomy to illustrate the theory of the Earth. For my own part, even if the task were executed with the most complete success, I should be strongly inclined to think, that its appropriate place in an Encyclopædia would be as a branch of the article on Logic ;-certainly not as an exordium to the Preliminary Discourse; the enlarged and refined views, which it necessarily presupposes, being peculiarly unsuitable to that part of the work which may be expected, in the first instance, to attract the curiosity of every reader. As, upon this point, however, there may be some diversity of opinion, I have prevailed on the Editor to add to these introductory Essays a translation of D'Alembert's Discourse, and of Diderot's Prospectus. No English version of either has, as far as I know, been hitherto published; and the result of their joint ingenuity, exerted on Bacon's groundwork, must for ever fix no inconsiderable era in the history of learning
Before concluding this preface, I shall subjoin a few slight strictures on a very concise and comprehensive division of the objects of Human Knowledge, proposed by Mr. Locke, as the basis of a new classification of the sciences. Although I do not know that any attempt has ever been made to follow out in detail the general idea, yet the repeated approbation which has been lately bestowed on a division essentially the same, by several writers of the highest rank, renders it in some measure necessary, on the present occasion, to consider how far it is founded on just principles; more especially as it is completely at variance, not only with the language and arrangement adopted in these preliminary essays, but with the whole of that plan on which the original projectors, as well as the continuators, of the Encyclopædia Britannica, appear to have proceeded. These strictures, will, at the same time, afford an additional proof of the difficulty, or rather of the impossibility, in the actual state of logical science, of solving this great problem, in a manner calculated to unite the general suffrages of philosophers.
“All that can fall,” says Mr. Locke, “ within the compass of Human Understanding being either, first, The nature of things as they are in themselves, their relations, and their manner of operation; or, secondly, That which man himself ought to do, as a rational and voluntary agent, for the attainment of any end, especially happiness ; or, thirdly, The ways and means whereby the knowledge of both the one and the other of these is attained and communicated : I think science may be divided properly into these three sorts :
“1. Ovoixn, or Natural Philosophy. The end of this is bare speculative truth; and whatsoever can afford the mind of man any such, falls under this branch, whether it be God himself, angels, spirits, bodies, or any of their affections, as number
and figure, &c. “ 2. Ilgaxtıxn, The skill of right applying our own powers and actions for the attainment of things good and useful. The most considerable under this head is Ethics, which is the seeking out those rules and measures of human actions which lead to happiness, and the means to practise them. The end of this is not bare speculation, but right, and a conduct suitable to it. *
“ 3. Emuelwtixn, or the doctrine of signs, the most usual whereof being words, it is aptly enough termed also doyixn, Logic. The business of this is, to consider the nature of signs the mind makes use of for the understanding of things, or conveying its knowledge to others.
“ This seems to me,” continues Mr. Locke, “the first and most general, as well as natural, division of the objects of our understanding; for a man can employ his thoughts about nothing but either the contemplation of things themselves, for the discovery of truth, or about the things in his own power, which are his own actions for the attainment of his own ends; or the signs the mind makes use of, both in one and the other, and the right ordering of them for its clearer information. All which three, viz. things as they are in themselves knowable ; actions as they depend on us, in order to happiness : and the right use of signs, in order to knowledge ; being toto cælo different, they seemed to me to be the three great · provinces of the intellectual world, wholly separate and distinct one from another." +
From the manner in which Mr. Locke expresses himself in the above quotation, he appears evidently to have considered the division proposed in it as an original idea of his own; and yet the truth is, that it coincides exactly with what was generally adopted by the philosophers of ancient Greece. “ The ancient Greek Philosophy,” says Mr Smith, "was divided into three great branches, Physics, or Natural Philosophy ; Ethics, or Moral Philosophy; and Logic. This generul division,” he adds,“ seems perfectly agreeable to the nature of things." Mr. Smith afterwards observes, in strict conformity to Locke's definitions, (of which, however, he seems to have had no recollection when he wrote this passage)
* From this definition it appears, that, as Locke included under the title of Physics, not only Natural Philosophy, properly so called, but Natural Theology, and the Philosophy of the Human Mind, so he meant to refer to the head of Practics, not only Ethics, but all the various Arts of life, both mechanical and liberal.
† See the concluding chapter of the Essay on Human Understanding, entitled, “Of the Division of the Sciences.”
That, as the human mind and the Deity, in whatever their essence may be supposed to consist, are parts of the great system of the universe, and parts, too, productive of the most important effects, whatever was taught in the ancient schools of Greece concerning their nature, made a part of the system of physics.” *
Dr. Campbell, in his Philosophy of Rhetoric, has borrowed from the Grecian schools the same very extensive use of the words physics and physiology, which he employs as synonymous terms; comprehending under this title “not merely Natural History, Astronomy, Geography, Mechanics, Optics, Hydrostatics, Meteorology, Medicine, Chemistry, but also Natural Theology and Psychology, which,” he observes, “ have been, in his opinion, most unnaturally disjoined from Physiology by Philosophers.” Spirit,” he adds, “ which here comprises only the Supreme Being and the Human soul, is surely as much included under the notion of natural objects as body is; and is knowable to the philosopher purely in the same way, by observation and experience.” |
A similar train of thinking led the late celebrated M. Turgot to comprehend under the name of Physics, not only Natural Philosophy (as that phrase is understood by the Newtonians), but Metaphysics, Logic, and even History. I
Notwithstanding all this weight of authority, it is difficult to reconcile one's self to an arrangement which, while it classes with Astronomy, with Mechanics, with Optics, and with Hydrostatics, the strikingly contrasted studies of Natural Theology and of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, disunites from the two last the far more congenial sciences of Ethics and of Logic. The hu
* Wealth of Nations, Book v, chap. i.
“Sous le nom de sciences physiques je comprends la logique, qui est la connoissance des opérations de notre esprit et de la génération de nos idées, la métaphysique, qui s'occupe de la nature et de l'origine des êtres, et enfin la physique, proprement dite, qui observe l'action mutuelle des corps les uns sur les autres, et les causes et l'enchaînement des phenomènes sensibles. On pourroit y adjouter l'histoire."-Euvres de Turgot, Tome II, pp. 284, 285.
In the year 1793, a quarto volume was published at Bath, entitled Intellectual Physics.' It consists entirely of speculations concerning the human mind, and is by no means destitute of merit. The publication was anonymous; but I have reason to believe that the author was the late well known Governor Pownall. VOL. VI.
man mind, it is true, as well as the material world which surrounds it, forms a part of the great system of the Universe ; but is it possible to conceive two parts of the same whole more completely dissimilar, or rather more diametrically opposite, in all their characteristical attributes ? Is not the one the appropriate field and province of observation,-a power habitually awake to all the perceptions and impressions of the bodily organs ? and does not the other fall exclusively under the cognizance of reflection,-an operation which inverts all the ordinary habits of the understanding, -abstracting the thoughts from every sensible object, and even striving to abstract them from every sensible image ? What abuse of language can be greater, than to apply a common name to departments of knowledge which invite the curiosity in directions precisely contrary, and which tend to form intellectual talents, which if not altogether incompatible, are certainly not often found united in the same individual? The word Physics, in particular, which, in our language, long and constant use has restricted to the phenomena of Matter, cannot fail to strike every ear as anomalously, and therefore illogically, applied, when extended to those of Thought and of Consciousness.
Nor let it be imagined, that these observations assume any particular theory about the nature or essence of Mind. Whether we adopt, on this point, the language of the Materialists, or that of their opponents, it is a proposition equally certain and equally indisputable, that the phenomena of Mind and those of Matter, as far as they come under the cognizance of our faculties, appear to be more completely heterogeneous, than any other classes of facts within the circle of our knowledge; and that the sources of our information concerning them are in every respect so radically different, that nothing is more carefully to be avoided, in the study of either, than an attempt to assimilate them, by means of analogical or metaphorical terms, applied to both in common. In those inquiries, above all, where we have occasion to consider Matter and Mind as conspiring to produce the same joint effects (in the constitution, for example, of our own com