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&c. But who merely conjectures or believes that every event has a cause? We know it absolutely. In respect to this subject, the affirmation of the child and of the man, of the philosopher and of the peasant, are equally positive, and equally preclude all degrees.
3. The laws which govern the Understanding in all its judgments are imposed upon it by the Reason; while the Reason and its own laws are identical, or rather, the laws of the Reason are self-imposed. I feel, for example, a painful sensation. Instantly I apply my Understanding to determine the particular cause. By what law is my Understanding governed, under such circumstances ? By an idea or law, certainly, which exists, not in the Understanding itself, to wit, the aifirmation of the pure Reason, that every event must have a cause. The same is true in regard to all other inquiries and affirmations of the Understanding, in regard to material substances. It obeys laws prescribed by another faculty. The Reason, however, obeys no laws but those which are self-imposed. When the Reason affirms absolutely that every event must have a cause that succession supposes time—and that body supposes space, what law prescribed by another faculty or faculties does the Reason obey in such affirmations ? None, surely.
4. All the judgments of the Understanding are contingent. All the affirmations of the Reason are universal and necessary. I have before me, I will suppose, a right-angled triangle. I wish to know what relation exists between the square of the hypothenuse and the sum of the squares of the two sides. I first determine this question by actual measurement, and find that they are equal. I have now before me a particular fact. Why it is so, I know not, or whether this fact holds true in regard to other triangles, I know not. I repeat the experiment upon similar triangles of various sizes, and find that they all give me precisely the same result. I very soon begin to conjecture that this fact holds true of all similar triangles. Repeated experiments ripen this conjecture into such a conviction as to preclude all doubt. Still there is no certain knowledge. Nor does there appear any necessity, from the nature of the subjects of these experiments, that the conclusions should not be different from what they are. Now let a person, in whose mind the principles of Geometry are developed, construct a figure and demonstrate the fact under consideration, in respect to that one particular triangle. What is the conclusion deduced from this demonstration ? Not only that this fact holds in regard to this particular triangle, but that it does and must hold true in regard to all other similar triangles. In the former instance, we obtained a particular, contingent truth, as conceived by the Mind. In the latter we obtained a truth, universal and necessary.
5. The “Understanding is discursive." - The Reason is fixed.” The judgments of the Understanding admit of degrees, and are perpetually passing and repassing from mere conjecture to positive affirmation; from doubt and disbelief to positive faith, and the opposite. The decisions of the Reason, however, have ever been characterized by the total absence of all degrees. They are, and always have been, positive, absolute affirmations.
6. The Understanding, considered as using the faculties of Sense, Consciousness, and Reason, is the faculty of observation and reflection. “Reason is the faculty of contemplation.” The Understanding, through Sense and Consciousness, observes and reflects upon the phenomena given by these faculties, for the purpose of forming notions, and for purposes of classification and generalization. The Reason, on the other hand, being the direct aspect and inward beholding of truth, and the truths which it thus, by direct intuition, apprehends, being the same " yesterday, to-day, and forever,” cannot properly be said to observe and reflect, but rather to contemplate. There it remains fixed--awed, and held by the direct contemplation of the infinite, the necessary, and the universal.
8. The Understanding is the faculty of believing. The Reason is the faculty of knowing. Those who have never been in London or Paris, believe, with greater or less degrees of confidence, according to their knowledge of the facts, that there are such cities in existence. Yet they cannot, with strict propriety, be said to know these facts. But every person, in whose mind Reason exists at all, knows absolutely that space is that every event must have a cause, &c.
The above distinctions, most of which are specifically stated, though none of them are illustrated, by Coleridge, not only distinguish the Understanding and Judgment from the Reason, but tend to elucidate the functions of each. I will now proceed directly to a further elucidation of the functions of Reason.
SECONDARY IDEAS OF REASON.
In former Chapters it has been shown, that Reason sustains this relation to the faculties of Sense and Consciousness : It gives the logical antecedents of phenomena affirmed by these faculties. Thus, on the perception of phenomena, we have the ideas of time, space, substance, personal identity, and cause. · Now Reason sustains a relation to the Understanding precisely similar to that which it sustains to Sense and Consciousness. It gives the logical antecedents of notions and conceptions, as well as of primary intuitions. The idea of right and wrong, of obligation, is not the logical antecedent of mere phenomena given by Sense and Consciousness. Before obligation can be conceived of or affirmed, the notion or conception, not of mere phenomena, but of an agent possessed of certain powers, and sustaining certain relations to other agents, must be developed in the Intelligence. The idea of obligation, then, is not the logical antecedent of phenomena asfirmed by Sense and Consciousness, but of notions given by the Understanding. These considerations fully establish the propriety of the distinction between ideas of Reason as primary and secondary. The former are the logical antecedents of phenomena given by the primary contingent faculties. The latter sustain the same relation to those of the secondary faculties. The distinction here made seems hitherto, as far as my knowledge extends, to have escaped the notice of the analyzers of the human Intelligence. Its reality and importance to a correct understanding of the operations of the human Mind will appear manifest as we proceed with our analysis of the secondary ideas of Reason. An exposition of all the ideas comprehended under this class will not be attempted. All that will be attempted will be the induction and elucidation of a sufficient number of particulars to serve as lights to the philosophic inquirer, in his researches in the domain of mental science.
IDEA OF RIGHT AND WRONG. Of the Secondary ideas of Reason, that which claims the first, and more special attention, is the one mentioned above, that of right or wrong, together with those dependent upon it, or necessarily connected with it.
This Idea exists in all Minds in which Reason is developed.
It is an undeniable fact, that in the presence of certain actions, the human mind characterizes them as good or bad, right or wrong ; that the mind affirms to itself, that one class of the actions ought, and the other ought not to be performed; that when we have performed certain actions, we deserve reward, and that when we have performed others, we deserve punishment; and that when this takes place, there is moral order, and when it does not, there is moral disorder. Such judgments are passed alike by all mankind, the old and the young, the learned and the ignorant, the savage and the civilized. Should it be said, that mankind differ in different circumstances in their judgment of the moral qualities of actions; I reply:
1. This objection itself implies the universality of moral distinctions. As men may differ in referring particular effects to particular causes, while all agree in the judgment, that every event must have a cause, so it is with moral distinctions. Men may not always attribute the same moral qualities to the same actions; yet they universally agree in this, that our actions are either right or wrong.
2. But when we refer to intentions, in which alone the moral quality of actions consists, we find a more extensive agreement among men than is generally supposed. A man wills the good of an individual possessed of moral excellence. Where is the intelligent being in existence who does or can regard such an act as any other than virtuous ? Who is not aware, that men always justify wrong actions, if at all, by a reference to their intentions, showing by such reference, that in their judgment of the great law of love, all agree.
3. Vicious actions are seldom regarded as virtuous. Men may persuade themselves that it is not wrong to perform such actions, but never that they are bound to do them, or deserve a reward for having done them.
4. When an intention. morally right is submitted to the contemplation of mankind, all agree in adınitting it as virtuous and meritorious. Thus the sacred writer speaks of himself and associates, as through a “manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience." This could not have been the case, had not the consciences of all men been in fixed correlation to the moral law. The idea of right and wrong, then, is universal.
Idea of Right and Wrong necessary. It is also necessary. When the Intelligence affirms an action or intention to be right or wrong, it is impossible even to conceive of it, as possessed of the opposite character. We can no more form such a conception, than we can conceive of the annihilation of space. It has the same claim to the characteristics of universality and necessity, that any other idea has.
Ideas dependent on that of Right and Wrong. A moment's reflection will convince us, that the idea of right and wrong is the foundation of that of obligation; and this again, of that of merit or demerit; and this last of that of reward and punishment. When men would justify the bestowment of reward, or the infliction of punishment, they always refer to the merit or demerit of the individual. This judgment is sustained by a reference to the obligation of the same individual, and his obligations are shown by a reference to the idea of right and wrong. Such facts clearly indicate the relation of these ideas, the one to the other. Chronological Antecedent to the Idea of Right and Wrong, &c.
It has already been remarked, that the ideas under consideration are the logical antecedents, not of the phenomena of the primary contingent faculties, but of Understanding-conceptions. Before we can conceive of ourselves as subjects of moral obligation, we must be conscious of the possession of certain powers, and of existence in certain relations to other beings. This knowledge is the chronological antecedent of the ideas of right and wrong, while these ideas sustain to the facts of Consciousness the relation of logical antecedents. The question now is, What are the elements of moral agency, necessarily pre-supposed, as the condition of the existence of the ideas of right and wrong, of obligation, &c., in our minds ? They are the following.
1. Power to know ourselves together with our relations. 2. The actual perception of such relations.
3. Power to act, or to refuse to act, in harmony with these relations.
That the ideas of right and wrong sustain to such conceptions the relation of logical antecedent, is evident from the following considerations :