« PředchozíPokračovat »
place, unless they are engaged in something that bears the name and form of Logic.”
vol. 3. p. 483. To which Locke replies—“ I like the method it is in better than that of the schools; where, I think, 'tis no small prejudice to knowledge, that Predicaments, Predicables, &c. being universally in all their systems, come to be looked on as necessary principles, or unquestionable parts of knowledge, just as they are set down there."
What Molyneux so much desired was after performed by a master of Arts,* of Oxford, and with the very same design. He submitted it to the opinion and disposal of Locke, who in a letter to Molyneux expresses his approbation of it, and hopes it will satisfy him-adding “ from the acquaintance I had of the temper of that place, I did not expect to have it get much footing there."
Molyneux was much pleased with the scheme, but not with the performance : “ which (says he) though done justly- enough, yet falls so short of that spirit which every where shews itself in the original, that nothing can be more different. To
Mr. Wynne, of Jesus College, afterwards Bp. of St. Asaph, published an abridgment of the Essay; London, 1696. 8vo.
one already versed in the Essay, the abridgment serves as a good remembrancer," &c.
pp. 514, 525. The author has indeed copied too closely the very words of the Essay; and has rather selected particular paragraphs, than condensed the meaning of whole sections. He acknowledges, in his dedication to Locke, that he has omitted the first book, all that part of the 21st chap. of the second book which relates to the Will, and some useful hints and instructive theories. Now the opinions there maintained are of the highest importance, and åre truly fundamental parts of Locke's system : they were at the time much discussed, and are particularly noticed by Locke in his letters as novel and unpopular.
It was proposed at a meeting of the heads of the houses of the University of Oxford, to censure and discourage the reading of the Essay concerning Human Understanding :* and after various debates among themselves, it was concluded that each head of a house should endeavour to prevent its being read in his college, without coming to any public censure. On which proceeding Locke remarks in a letter to Anthony Collins I take what has been done as a recommendation of that
* La superstition a toujours une mauvaise logique.
L. Philosophie de l'Histoire Sec. 34.
book to the world, as you do; and I conclude,
and I meet next, we shall be merry upon the subject. For this is certain, that because some men wink, or turn away their heads and will not see, others will not consent to have their eyes
Locke's Letters. vol. 3. p. 737. And in a letter to Molyneux he remarks, that for some years it was hardly noticed at Cambridge ; but that he began to think that it was a little more favourably received there, from two questions held the last commencement:- Probabile est animam non semper cogitare--and—Idea Dei non est innata. On the latter text Bentley expatiated in his sermons at Boyle's lectures, and Whiston in his new theory of the Earth.
Locke's Letters. pp. 528, 530. The consent of two such men to his opinions might well console him for the opposition of Bp. Stillingfleet, whose only triumph was to have Locke for an antagonist. He could safely disregard all adversaries of less note, while his principles were supported by the mathematical accuracy of Molyneux and the metaphysical acuteness of Collins. He lived on terms of the strictest friendship with these distinguished philosophers, and had the highest respect for their judgment. A few months before his death he expressed his opi
nion of most of his opponents, in a letter to Collins" what you say about my Essay of Human Understanding, that nothing can be advanced against it, but upon the principle of Innate Ideas, is certainly so: and therefore all that do not argue against it from Innate Ideas, (in the sense I speak of Innate Ideas) though they make a noise against me, yet at last they so draw and twist their improper ways of speaking, which have the appearance and sound of contradiction to me, that at last they state the question so as to leave no contradiction in it to my essay : as you have observed in Mr. Lee, Mr. Lowde, and Mr. Norris, in his late treatise. It is reward enough for the writing my book, to have the approbation of one such a reasoner as you are.
You have done me and my book a great honour, in having bestowed so much of your thoughts upon it. You have a comprehensive knowledge of it, and do not stick in the incidents ;* which I find many people do ; which, whether true or false, make nothing to the main design of the Essay; that lies in a little compass; and yet, I hope, may be of great use to those who see and follow that plain and easy method of na
* It is not by comparing line with line that the merit of great works is to be estimatedl, but by their general effects and ultimate result.
Johnson's Life of Dryden.
tare, to carry them the shortest and clearest way to knowledge : Pardon, me this vanity: it was with a design of enquiring into the nature and powers of the understanding, that I writ it; and nothing but the hope that it might do some service to Truth and Knowledge could excuse the publishing of it."
His hope was not vain : no work, since the Great Instauration of the Sciences by the immortal 'Bacon, has done more to banish frivolous learning and promote real knowledge; and such has been its reputation, that scarce a writer on Logic or Metaphysics has appeared since the time of Locke, who does not directly refer to his Essay, or pre-suppose an acquaintance with it.
By a patient and exact observation of the pro cedure of his own understanding, Locke has traced the progress of the Thinking principte in man; and in his investigation of the origin of Ideas, and the force of Terms, he has laid the foundation of all just Logic and Metaphysics. By substituting Definitions for Essences, he has abolished that scholastic jargon which puzzled the understanding with entities and quiddities, substantial forms and occult qualities. He has shewn that the great obstacles to the investigation and com
* See note 2 at the end of the Preface.