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and thus maxims have their use to put a stop to their perverseness, whose ingenuity should have yielded sooner ; but the method of the schools having allowed and encouraged men to oppose and relift evi. dent truth till they are baffled, i. e. till they are reduced to contradict themselves or some established principle, it is no wonder that they should not in civil conversation be ashamed of that which in the schools is counted a virtue and a glory, viz. obfti. nately to maintain that side of the question they have chosen, whether true or false, to the last extremity, even after conviction ; a strange way to attain truth and knowledge ; and that which I think the rational part of mankind, not corrupted by education, could scarce believe should ever be admitted amongst the lovers of truth, and students of religion or nature, or introduced into the seminaries of those who are to propagate the truths of religion or philosophy amongst the ignorant and unconvinced. How much such a way of learning is likely to turn young mens minds from the fincere search and love of truth, nay, and to make them doubt whether there is any such thing, or at leait worth the adhering to, I shall not now inquire. This I think, that bating those places which brought the peripatetic philosophy into their schools, where it conuinyed many ages, without teaching the world any thing but the art of wrangling, these maxims were nowhere thought the foundations on which the sciences were built, nor the great helps to the ad, vancement of knowledge.
What use. tbeje general Maxims have. As to these general maxims, therefore, they are, as I have said, of great use in disputes, to stop the mouths of wranglers, but not of much use to the discovery of unknown truths, or to help the mind forwards in its search after knowledge ; for who ever began to build his knowledge on this general proposition, what is, is, or, it is impollible for the same thing to be, and not to be ; and from either of thele, as from a principle of science, deduced a system of useful knowledge ?
Wrong opinions often involving contradictions, one of these maxims, as a touchstone, may serve well to show whither they lead; but yet, however fit to lay opea the absurdity or mistake of a man's reasoning or opi. gion, they are of very little use for enlightening the understanding; and it will not be found that the mind receives much help from them in its progress in knowledge, which would be neither less, nor less cer. tain, were these two general propoßtions never thought on. It is true, as I have said, they sometimes ferse in argumentation to stop a wrangler's mouth, by Ihow. ing the absurdity of what he faith, and by expofing him to the shame of contradicting what all the world knows, and he himself cannot but own to be true. But it is one thing to show a man that he is in an er. ror, and another to put him in poffeffion of truth; and I would fain know what truths these two propositions are able to teach, and by their influence make us know, which we did not know before, or could not know without them. Let us reason from them as well as we can, they are only about identical predications, and influence, if any at all, none but such. Each particular proposition concerning identity or diversity is as clearly and certainly known in itself, if attended to, as either of these general ones ; only these general ones, as serving in all cases, are therefore miore incul. cated and insisted on. As to other lefs general maxims, many of them are no more than bare verbal propofi. tions, and teach us nothing but the respect and import of names one to another. The whole is equal to all its parts ; wliat real truth, I beseech you, does it teach us? What more is contained in that maxiin than what the fignification of the word totum, or the whole, does of itself import? and he that knows that the word whole stands for what is made up of all its parts, knows very little less than that the whole is equal to all its parts: And upon the same ground, I think that this propo. fition, a bill is higher than a valley, and several the like, may also pass for maxims; but yet masters of mathematics, when they would, as teachers of what they know, initiate others in that science, do not with. out reason place this, and some other such maxims, at the entrance of their Systems ; that their scholars, having in the beginning perfectly acquainted their thoughts with these propositions made in such general terms, may be used to make such reflections, and have these more general propositions, as formed rules and sayings, ready to apply to all particular cases ; not that if they be equally weighed, they are more clear and evident than the particular inftances they are brought to confirm, but that, being more familiar to the mind, the very naming them is enough to sa. tisfy the understanding. But this, I say, is more from our custom of using them, and the establishment they have got in our minds by our often thinking of them, than from the different evidence of the things ; but before custom has settled methods of thinking and rea. foning in our minds, I am apt to imagine it is quite otherwise ; and that the child, when a part of his apple is taken away, knows it better in that particular in. stance, than by this general proposition, the whole is equal to all its parts ; and that if one of these have need to be confirmed to him by the other, the general has more need to be let into his mind by the particu. lar, than the particular by the general; for in parti.
culars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself by • degrees to generals ; though afterwards the mind
takes the quite contrary course, and having drawn tis knowledge into as general propositions as it can, makes those familiar to its thoughts, and accustoms i:self to have recourse to them, as to the standards of truth and falsehood. By which familiar use of them, as rules to measure the truth of other propositions, it comes in time to be thought, that more particular propofitions have their truth and evidence from their conformity to these more general ones, which in dis. course and argumentation, are so frequently urged, and constantly admitted ; and this I think to be the reason why amongst so many felf-evident propofitions, the most general only have load the title of maxins.
$ 12. Maxims, if Care be not taken in the Use of
. words, may prove Contradictions. One thing farther, I think, it may not be amiss to observe concerning these general maxims, that they are so far from improving or establishing our minds in true knowledge, that if our notions be wrong, loose, or uosteady, and we resign up our thoughts to the found of words, rather than fix them on settled determined ideas of things ; I say these general maximns will serve to confirm us in mistakes, and in such a way of use of words, which is most common, will serve to prove contradictions; v.g. he that, with Des Cartes, shall frame in his mind an idea of what he calls body, to be nothing but extension, may easily de. monstrate that there is no vacuum, i. e. no fpace void of body, by this maxim, what is, is; for the idea to which he annexes the name body being bare exten. fion, his knowledge that space cannot be without body is certain ; for he knows his own idea of ex. tension clearly and diftin&tly, and knows that it is what it is, and not another idea, though it be called by these three names, extension, body, Space, which three words, standing for one and the same idea, may no doubt, with the same evidence and certainty, be affirmed one of another, as each of itself; and it is as certain, that whilst I use them all to stand for one and the same idea, this predication is as true and identical in its signification, that space is body, as this predica. tion is true and identical, that body is body, both in fignification and sound.
Ø 13. Instance in Vacuum. But if another ihall come, and make to himself another idea different from Des Cartes's, of the thing, which yet, with Des Cartes, he calls by the same name body, and make his idea, which he expresies by the word body to be of a thing that hath both exten. fion and solidity together; he will as easily demonItrate, that there may be a vacuum or space without a body, as Des Cartes demonstrated the contrary ; because the idea to which he gives the name Space be
- ing barely the fimple one of extension, and the idea son to which he gives the name boily being the complex
i idin of extension and resistibility, or folidity, together
i in the same subject, these two idzas are not exactly that one and the same, but in the understanding as distinct Listin as the ideas of one and two, white and black, or as of the corporeity ard kumanity, if I may use those barbarous
terms; and therefore the predication of them in our e minds, or in words standing for them, is not identical,
but the negation of them one of another ; viz. this
propofition, extension or Space is not body, is as true Short and evidently certain as this maxim, it is imposible
e for the same thing to be, and not to be, can make any sa pis proposition. 14. They prove not the Existence of Things witka
out 11s. But yet, though both these propositions (as you see) may be equally demonstrated, viz, that there may be a vacuum, and that there cannot be a vacuum by these two certain principles, viz. what is, is, and the fame thing cannot be, and be ; yet neither of these principles will serve to prove to us, that any, or what bodies do exift ; for that we are left to our senses to discover to us as far as they can; those universal and self-evia dent principles being only our conllant, clear, and diftinét knowledge of our own ideas, more general or comprehenfive, can assure us of nothing that passes without the mind; their certainty is founded only upon the knowledge we have of each idea by itself, and of its distinction from others, about which we cannot be mistaken whilst they are in our minds, though we inay and often are mistaken when we retain the names without the ideas, or use them confusedly sometimes for one, and sometimes for another idea ; in which cases the force of these axioms, reaching only to the found, and not the signification of the words, ferves only to lead us into confusion, mistake, and error. It is to show men, that these maxims, however cried up for the great guards of truth, will not secure them from error in a careless loose use of