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sense the word answers pretty nearly to the Latin auctoritas. It is a claim to deference. Sometimes, again, it is employed as equivalent to potestas, power, as when we speak of the authority of a magistrate. This is a claim to obedience.' "Consent. — Believing in the prophets and
evangelists with a calm and settled faith, with that consent of the will, and heart, and understanding, which constitutes religious belief, I find in them the clear annunciation of the kingdom of God
earth.' Assent is the consequence of a conviction of the understanding. Consent arises from the state of the disposition and the will. The one accepts what is true; the other embraces it as true and good and worthy of all acceptation. ...
"These things are to be regarded as first truths, the credit of which is not derived from other truths, but is inherent in themselves. As for probable truths, they are such as are admitted by all men, or by the generality of men, or by wise men; and among these last, either by all the wise, or by the generality of the wise, or by such of the wise as are of the highest authority.'
Assent is that act of the mind by which we accept as true a proposition, a perception, or an idea. It is a necessary part of judgment; for if you take away from judgment affirmation or denial, nothing remains but a simple conception without logical value, or a proposition which must be examined before it can be admitted. It is also implied in perception, which would
otherwise be a mere phenomenon which the mind had not accepted as true.
“ Assent is free when it is not the unavoidable result of evidence, necessary when I cannot withhold it without contradicting myself. The Stoics, while they admitted that most of our ideas came from without, thought that images purely sensible could not be converted into real cognitions without a spontaneous act of the mind, which is just assent or belief. • Assent of the mind to truth is, in all cases, the work not of the understanding, but of the reason, Men are not convinced by syllogisms ; but when they believe a principle, or wish to believe, then syllogisms are brought in to prove it.'
Belief. — Belief, assent, conviction, are words which I do not think admit of logical definition, because the operation of mind signified by them is perfectly simple, and of its own kind. Belief must have an object. For he who believes must believe something, and that which he believes is the object of his belief. Belief is always expressed in language by a proposition wherein something is affirmed or denied." Belief admits of all degrees, from the slightest suspicion to the fullest assurance. There are many operations of mind of which it is an essential ingredient, as consciousness, perception, remembrance.
We give the name of evidence to whatever is a ground of belief. What this evidence is, is more easily felt than described. The common occasions of life lead us to distinguish evidence into different kinds ; such as the evidence of sense,
of memory, of consciousness, of testimony, of axioms, and of reasoning. I am not able to find any common nature to which they may all be reduced. They seem to me to agree only in this, that they are all fitted by nature to produce belief in the human mind, some of them in the highest degree, which we call certainty, others in various degrees according to circumstances.' " St. Austin accurately says,
• We know what rests upon reason; we believe what rests upon authority.' The original data of reason do not rest upon reason, but are necessarily accepted by reason on the authority of what is beyond itself. These data are, therefore, in rigid propriety, beliefs or trusts. Thus it is, that in the last resort, we must, perforce, philosophically admit, that belief is the primary condition of reason, and not reason the ultimate ground of belief. We are compelled to surrender the proud Intellige ut credas of Abelard, to content ourselves with the humble Crede ut intelligas of Anselm.
"To believe is to admit a thing as true, on grounds sufficient, subjectively; insufficient, objectively. The word believing has been variously and loosely employed. It is frequently used to denote states of consciousness which have already their separate and appropriate appellations. Thus it is sometimes said, I believe in my own existence and the existence of an external world, I believe in the facts of nature, the axioms of geometry, the affections of my own mind, as well as, I believe in the testimony
of witnesses, or in the evidence of historical documents.
Setting aside this loose application of the term, I propose to confine it, first, to the effect on the mind of the premises in what is termed probable reasoning, or what I have named contingent reasoning—in a word, the premises of all reasoning, but that which is demonstrative ; and, secondly, to the state of holding true when that state, far from being the effect of any premises discerned by the mind, is dissociated from all evidence. I propose to restrict the term belief to the assent to propositions, and demarcate it from those inferences which are made in the presence of objects and have reference to them. I would say, we believe in the proposition “ Fire burns,' but know the fact that the paper about to be thrust into the flame will ignite. (Fleming, Vocab. of Phil.)
34. Another error is a conceit that of former opinions or sects after variety and examination the best hath still prevailed and suppressed the rest ; so as if a man should begin the labour of a new search, he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion : as if the multitude, or the wisest for the multitude's sake, were not ready to give passage rather to that which is popular and superficial, than to that which is substantial and profound ; for the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.
“ Another error hath proceeded from too great a reverence, and a kind of adoration of the mind and understanding of man ; by means whereof, men have withdrawn themselves too much from the contemplation of nature, and the observations of experience, and have tumbled up and down in their own reason and conceits. Upon these intellectualists, which are notwithstanding commonly taken for the most sublime and divine philosophers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and not in the great and common world; for they disdain to spell, and so by degrees to read in the volume of God's works : and contrariwise by continual meditation and agitation of wit do urge and as it were invocate their own spirits to divine and give oracles unto them, whereby they are deservedly deluded.
"Another error that hath some connexion with this latter is, that men have used to infect their meditations, opinions, and doctrines, with some conceits which they have most admired, or some sciences which they have most applied; and given all things else a tincture according to them, utterly untrue and improper. So hath Plato intermingled his philosophy with theology, and Aristotle with logic ; and the second school of Plato, Proclus and the rest, with the mathematics. For these were the arts which had a kind of primogeniture with them severally. So have the alchymists made a philosophy out of a few ex