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sceptic, hath built a system of scepticism, which CHAP. leaves no ground to believe any one thing rather than its contrary. His reasoning appeared to me to be just; there was therefore a necessity to call in question the principles on which it was founded, or to admit the conclusion." In what manner, then, does Dr. Reid oppose M. Hume's principles? Not by reason; for this he allows. to be on the side of his adversary; but by the supposed existence of a great number of "original instinctive unaccountable propensities to believe," constituting collectively what he calls common sense. This phrase is by no means synonymous with good sense, which implies intellect, reason, and experience; whereas, "common sense," in the meaning here assigned to it by Dr. Reid, and as it is still more completely defined in the words of the nearest of his followers, "is a power that perceives truth and commands belief, not by progressive argumentation, but by an instantaneous, instinctive, and irresistible impulse, derived neither from education nor from habit, but from nature; acting independently of our will, whenever its object is presented, according to an established law, and therefore properly called sense; and acting in a similar manner upon all, or at least a great majority of mankind, and therefore called com

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Accordingly Dr. Reid and Dr. Beattie enu

40 Reid's Enquiry. Dedication, p. v.
41 Reid, passim.

42 Beattie on Truth, p. 45. Fifth edit.


And by


CHAP. merate a great many of these "original instinctive principles, or ultimate grounds of belief." Mr. S. is more circumspect and more cautious Mr. Stew- with regard to their number, but compensates by the great weight which he allows to those few instinctive principles which he admits. Throughout all his volumes, he dwells "on an instinctive expectation of the continuance of the laws of nature," which he pronounces, though a thing of late discovery, to be the foundation of the new inductive logic, destined to supersede the logic of Aristotle, which Mr. Stewart, as we have seen, has continually confounded with the contemptible jargon of the schools. This instinctive principle, he says, was first acknowledged for an original and ultimate law of our constitution by Dr. Reid, and by Mr. Turgot, the famous French controller of finance. But is this discovery, so very late in being made, any discovery at all? Is it not a mere corollary from the doctrine of causes above established? Our expectation of the continuance of the laws of nature, is a deduction from the more general truth, that all effects must have their causes, and that these causes will never cease to operate, till some new causes interpose to counteract the force, or change the mode of their operation. In these conclusions, Newton agrees with Aristotle, and admits them for the foundations of his philosophy.



Stewart's groundwork of the inductive logic, is

43 Elements, vol. ii. p. 330.

44 See his Regulæ philosophandi. Principia, 1. iii. sub initio.


not therefore an ultimate principle in our nature, CHA P. for which no reason can be given; it is a principle, not instinctive, but rational: it is a proposition flowing from a more general proposition; to deny which, is a contradiction in terms, and this more general proposition is not barren, as Mr. Stewart acknowledges the foundation of his inductive logic and all other axioms to be, but productive of new and most important truths; witness the use made of it by mathematicians, 46 and the application of it by the acute" Butler, in his discourse on the immortality of the soul; wherein he shows the justness of the inference, that the soul will continue to exist till the operation of some cause able to destroy it, and that death is not such a cause.


The schoolmen failed signally in their attempt The new to explain natural philosophy by logic. More philosomodern metaphysicians have experienced a fail- phy. ure not less signal, in applying the rules of physical investigation to subjects purely intellectual. This appears to me to have been remarkably the case, since their adoption of the new theory of causes, which resolves them into mere conjunctions; a theory commonly ascribed to Mr. Hume, from the celebrity given to it by that elegant and acute writer. "In physical events," he says, "how closely soever they may seem to be concatenated we perceive not any real nexus, any necessary bond of connection. All we perceive is their ordinary

45 Vol. ii. c. 3. p. 244. et seq.

46 See Wallis's Algebra, p. 308. Edit. 1685.
47 Butler's Analogy, chap. i.


CHAP. conjunction, that certain events precede, and others commonly follow them. This frequency suggests the idea of constancy; and when the conjecture of constancy is verified, as far as our experience reaches, we flatter ourselves with having discovered a general law of nature, until further experience enables us to resolve this supposed general law into one still more general. In this manner we proceed generalising our knowledge, till we reach the ultimate limits of physical science. But after all our efforts, we come not, by a single step, nearer to the discovery of any real connection among the phenomena. They still remain, in themselves, insulated facts, associated only in the mind by frequent or constant conjunction, by no means indissolubly linked together, the necessary effects of various powers competent to produce them." It is childish therefore to say, with Virgil,

How far it was intro

duced by Lord


Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere caussas ;

or to define, with Aristotle, " philosophy to be the investigation of causes," since no real cause can ever be discovered.

The new inductive philosophy, founded solely on observation and experiment, and substituting "customary conjunctions," for causes, is ascribed by Dr. Reid and Mr. Stewart, as it had previously been by D'Alembert and Diderot, to the original and profound genius of Lord Bacon. This great man, however, will be found to speak of causes and effects, as all rational enquirers into nature had done before him. He uses the


words in the same sense in which they are taken CHAP. by Aristotle, and in which that philosopher, according to his constant practice, has been at pains to define them. To obviate this apparent inconsistency, Mr. S. maintains, that Bacon, while he adopted the letter of the old doctrine, yet followed, in all his writings, the spirit of the new one. 47 This remark, notwithstanding repeated perusals of all these writings, I am unable to verify. Bacon no where identifies concomitancy with causation; but, as causes are things deep and hidden, he exhorts those who prosecute the study of nature, not to put up with the first that may occur, but to search to the bottom, till the true causes are discovered by observation, accompanied, when necessary, by experiments. With experiments, however, it should seem that he was not himself much occupied, nor does it appear, from his works, that he made a single discovery. But he recommended experimental philosophy to the world with all the efficacy of his powerful and fervid mind, at a crisis when Europe advanced, by wide steps, to emancipation from monkish superstition and warlike barbarity, and when, its several states having been formed into a political system, and kings having obtained a full command over the national force, the ravages of unceasing internal discord were restrained, and the finer spirits in each country were permitted in secure leisure to cultivate, unobstructed, the pursuits of science. Hence the

47 Elements, vol. ii. p. 314, & seq.


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