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We are now prepared to state the qualifications with which we use the phrase necessary connexion. And, in the first place, we must not be understood to mean, that there exists, in any cause, an independent, essential, and indestructible energy or efficiency by which it must, from all eternity, have been fitted to produce its appropriate effect. All we mean is,—that so long as the order and laws of nature are suffered to remain unaltered, the same or similar causes must and will produce the same or similar effects;--and we apprehend that this is the only sense in which the word necessity can be at all applicable to the phenomena of the physical universe. We are aware that the term is open on all sides to the cavil of superficial criticism; and we have, therefore, endeavoured to prevent any such treatment, by explaining as well as we could, the signification in which we have intended to use it.
We are now prepared, also, to make a remark or two upon the manner in which Priestley, and our author after him, have contrived to find, fault with Reid for having applied the word instinctive to the abovementioned reliance
permanency of nature's laws. Mr. Ogilvie does not appear to have perused the apology which Mr. Stewart has made for this slight violation of vernacular purity;* and we shall, therefore, repeat, after the last mentioned writer, that in applying this term to characterize certain judgments of the mind, although it is not employed with unexceptionable propriety,—its employment is by no means a departure from the practice of nearly all the philosophers who preceded Dr. Reid. In addition to the instances which Mr. Stewart has been at the pains of adducing from other authors, we can also quote a few from Hume, the metaphysician in whom Mr. Ogilvie seems chiefly to place his trust. While treating of this very subject, all these operations (he tells us) are a species of instincts. When the same subject comes up a little further on, • 'tis more conformable to the ordinary wisdom of nature (he remarks) to secure so necessary an act of the mind, by some instinct or mechanical tendency;' and in the next sentence he observes still more at length, that as nature has taught us the use of our limbs, without giving us the knowledge of the muscles and nerves, by which they are actuated; so she has implanted in us an instinct which carries forward the thought in a correspondent course to that which she has established among external objects.' So again he states explicitly in his Essay on the Reason of Animals, " that all experimental reasoning is nothing but a species of instinct,' &c. Indeed there is no other word in our language
* Philosophical Essays, Philadelphia edition, pp. 132–3–4.
which can so adequately characterize this process of the understanding. A principle of action, of which we can neither date the origin, nor trace the progress, though it differ from real instinct, in being acquired, instead of innate,- is nevertheless so very nearly similar, in its effects, to that part of our constitution, that for want of a distinctive term, it may well enough be denominated a species of instinct.
But when Mr. Ogilvie thinks he has overturned the old theories of others, he does not imitate too many of his predecessors, in neglecting to edify some new ones on their ruins. After exposing the fallacy of the doctrine instituted by Reid and adopted by his followers,' (which exposure, however, consists merely in a criticism upon words), he has himself undertaken to account for our disposition to expect similar effects from similar causes. We suppose the leading idea in Mr. Ogilvie's system was suggested by Milton; his explanation being merely a history of what were probably the feelings and emotions of Adam in relation to the rising and setting of the sun. He supposes that during the first night after the creation of our great progenitor, the gloom and cheerlessness even of Paradise, would cause a longing for the reappearance of day: this longing' would be converted into a ' lively hope' by several successive re-appearances of the sun: the lively hope would augment to a confident expectation,'after an additional number of instances; and a confident expectation would at last become a ‘firm assurance, an unhesitating belief (p. 46) that the alternation of day and night made a part of the established course of nature. The misfortune of such an hypothesis is, that it can be applicable to no human being except Adam; for as no human being besides him, has ever been created in the complete maturity of both his intellectual and his corporeal faculties, it is impossible for any other to recollect the period when he first longed for the re-appearance of the sun, or the dates of the successive stages through which his longing arrived at firm assurance. Besides that very few of the descendants of Adam are so early risers as their great forefather, we find it absolutely beyond the powers of memory to recal a single instance of our looking for the sun, with any shadow of doubt as to the certainty of his appearance. Our belief in the alternation of night and day, seems to be incorporated with our very existence; and we can no more date its origin than we can specify the time when the eye first began to judge of the distances of objects.
We shall not be able to examine in any detail the illustrations which our author has given of the relation between cause and effect;—nor to repeat, after him, the conclusions which are now pretty generally admitted, relative to the futility of inquiring into the nature either of mind, or of matter.-His remarks upon the former subject are materially impaired,-if not rendered absolutely nugatory,--by the errors which entered into the fundamental definition of the Essay. Upon the latter subject he has been very discursive;-and, indeed, we apprehend that an attempt to draw the line between the regions which lie within our intellectual cognizance and dominion is much too arduous for a short Philosophical Essay. We transcribe with pleasure the forcible remarks upon the loss which the philosophic world has sustained, by the rash attempts of genius to investigate subjects beyond the reach of human understanding.
* The most gigantic intellect, when it attempts to grasp a subject, that lies beyond the boundaries of human knowledge; in the region not of the unknown, but of the unknowable, is as impotent, as the most ordinary mind. The injury which mankind sustain, from this misapplication and waste of transcendant genius is immense. They not only lose the vast contributions that might have been made to the stock of knowledge, but the errors of genius are but immortal, and constitute the most formidable and permanent impediments to the progress of science. Recommended by ingenious reasoning, by eloquence, by whatever taste and imagination can supply, to propagate delusion and make error contagious, they bewilder the human mind through successive generations: Inextricabilis sæpe, et dulcissimus crror: They occasion a permanent intellectual eclipse: Human reason for ages sheds disastrous twilight over half the nations. If all the mighty minds that have in time past, exerted their intellectual powers to promote the advancement of human knowledge, had confined their inquiries within the sphere of the knowable, it is impossible for the most brilliant and sanguine imagination to conceive, how greatly the stock of human knowledge would have been augmented and all the blessings that spring from its augmentation, diffused and multiplied throughout the habitable globe.' pp. 53–54.
While we acquiesce in the general tenor of these observations, we think they have too great a leaning towards the dark side of the subject. 'We may lament the necessity of such intellectual
waste and misapplication;' but we ought to confess, at the same time, that it has been by means of these very perverted efforts to pass from the knowable into the unknowable, that we have been enabled to discover the boundary between the two regions, No a priori reasoning could have ascertained it; and since the necessity of the case
required an actual experiment, we think it might just as well have been made first as last. It is from viewing the wrecks of our predecessors that we learn to shun the rocks upon which they split.
For the same reason that induced us to decline a detailed statement of our author's speculations concerning cause and effect, we shall omit to make particular mention of the twelve conclusions which he thinks are deducible from his analysis. The general inference from a just development of the relation under view, is the one which has long been considered as an indisputable truth,—that knowledge is power. It is an inference, however, which no logic can draw from Mr. Ogilvie's definitions and reasonings;- inasmuch as the latter are employed in proving, that cause and effect consist in the mere conjunction of two objects, and the former proceed upon the supposition, that the ascertainment ofthe orderin which the two objects are conjoined is the sum and quintessence of human knowledge. As this language runs through the whole Essay, we are obliged to repeat for the third time,--that a correspondence betwixt the order of our ideas and the order of external phenomena can, in no conceivable explication of cause and effect, be considered as any thing like an adequate definition of human science. Were it possible for our understanding to be perfectly acquainted with the true causes of things, without possessing, at the same time, any clear idea of the order which nature has established to regulate their eventuation, the method of arrangement would be an essential constituent of what we call knowledge; but the truth is, that the very discovery of true causes involves the ascertainment of the order in which they take place; and he who should allege that he knew the cause of any particular effect, and should yet arrange the production before the producent, would be accounted either to have lost his faculties, or to have made use of speech without comprehending its signification. The only way in which we obtain command over phenomena is by acquiring a knowledge of their causes; and our ability to employ the latter for the production of the former is all we understand by the power resulting from that "knowledge.
But though knowledge is power, it ought not to be asserted roundly, and without qualification, that ignorance is imbecility. If we use these terms to denominate the relative intellectual situations of the learned and the unlearned—the philosopher and the plebeian—we shall find that, in almost all the transactions of daily life, the power of the former is only superior to that of the latter, in the comparative facility and shortness of the way by which its objects are accomplished. Both may have control over the same event; but the philosopher occasions it to take place by the very short process of employing what he has discovered to be the true and proximate cause—while the plebeian is obliged to bring it about by employing a tedious succession of alternate causes and effects. Science does not consist in ascertaining that every link in the chain is really itself a chain of other links; but in discovering, that between two links which are commonly looked upon as conjoined, there is, in fact, a concatenation of intermediate links. Here lies the only advantage of the learned over the vulgar. The former produces the event by taking a short step to the proximate cause;—the latter must go back through a comparatively prolix process to some remote cause; and while the one is only encumbered with the trifling weight of a single link, the other is obliged to drag a ponderous length of the whole chain. The power of knowledge, therefore, is rather of a negative, than of a positive, nature; and consists not so much in the real increase, as in the due economization, of our capabilities. In most cases the philosopher can do no more than the plebeian: but he can do it in a more expeditious and less expensive way.-In these remarks, however, we have been using language in its more loose and popular acceptation; and it is unquestionably true, that, if we employ the terms in their most rigorous signification, perfect ignorance is absolute impotency-and perfect knowledge is absolute omnipotence.
There are two conclusions,—deducible, as our author supposes, from his analysis of cause and effect,—which perhaps it would be unpardonable to pass over in silence;—the conclusions, we mean, which refer, first, to the existence of Deity, and secondly, to the existence of miracles. With regard to the former we shall give Mr. Ogilvie an opportunity to use his own phraseology.
• From this analysis, we derive one of the strongest a posteriori proofs, (perhaps the strongest a posteriori proof,) of the existence of a Deity, that human reason can discover or invent: if the phenomena of the material universe, (like the steps of a mathematical demonstration,) were necessarily and immutably connected, it would be unreasonable to look beyond the phenomena, for the efficient cause of their concatenation, in the order of cause and effect: but as the succession of events, does not appear to be necessarily connected, we are irresistibly led to infer, that the order in which they succeed each other, has been established and appointed by an omniscient, and, consequently omnipotent being: and that every indication of harmony and order, every tendency to produce and diffuse happiness, which the universe displays, is not only a shining evidence of the existence of the Deity, but an evidence also, of the divine attributes, that claim the adoration, love, and worship, of all his rational creatures.'-pp. 91, 92.
Now, we are very sure that an inference of this sort must be supported by considerations widely different from those em