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sional causes; or once for all time, as in the system of Leibnitz. Dr. Brown's theory, as we have already had occasion to remark, most frequently accords with the last mentioned system, though sometimes it seems to be difficult to make his language conform to any theory. "We speak of effects and causes as truly dif ferent, since it is unquestionably not the same thing to follow uniformly a certain change, and to precede uniformly a certain change." In this passage we have described, a change, as something between an antecedent and consequent but how it came there, we are unable to determine. There is no efficiency in the antecedent of the change, and of course none in the consequent: nor does this change appear to be provided for in the system of pre-established antecedents and consequents; and we can reduce it to order only by an interposition of creative power. Non tali dignus vindice nodus.
We are anxious that the conclusion should not be drawn from the freedom of our criticism on some parts of Dr. Brown's writings, that we lightly esteem what he has done for metaphysical science: we value very highly the Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, though, as a whole, the work is very incomplete; and have felt less restraint in our strictures, because that there is greater danger of our being deceived into too favourable an opinion of an exemplar imitabile vitiis, than of the opposite error. Dr. Brown has introduced analysis into the investigation of mental science, to a greater extent and more successfully than had been done by any of his predecessors; and if those who read his lectures, should derive from the employment nothing more than that disposition to search every subject to the bottom, and to separate the elements of every compound, which shines so conspicuously in almost every page, they will have made an acquisition of which it is impossible to exaggerate the value.
Dr. Brown's contribution to the science of the human mind, would have been, however, incomparably more deserving of our gratitude, if the excellent author had not been trammelled by a preconceived system; and had been at liberty to follow truth and exhibit her unadorned loveliness without the factitious garb and attitudes of a theory. The Inquiry into the Relation of Cause and Effect, is at the foundation of Dr. Brown's metaphysical speculations; and its consequences are followed out with the most fearless confidence in their accuracy. In one of the sections of the Inquiry,† the decision is calmly announced that mind is not more active than matter; and we are left to draw
* Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. i. p. 71.
the obvious inference from this proposition, that neither mind nor matter are or can be possessed of activity; and, that since "the beginning of days," material changes and mental changes have been rolling onward under one invariable necessary law. Indeed, philosophical precision would require of the partisans of this hypothesis to reject the word "change" as meaningless. The same opinions, as we have seen, were carried by our author into the philosophy of the mind; and the phenomena were made to bend to the results of the "Inquiry." The application of its proper object to an organ of sense is immediately followed by perception; and the perception is again followed by another mental phenomenon: here then is invariable antecedence; and the perception is therefore named an affection of the mind: and the notion which follows the perception, a state of the mind.The organic affection is the cause of the perception, and the perception is the cause of the subsequent state. The term, emotion, found favour with Dr. Brown, because it did not conflict with his previous opinions.
The writings of Dr. Brown very frequently display their author as too ambitious of the reputation of a discoverer; and sometimes, we are persuaded, the credit of originality is claimed when what is original consists chiefly in words. We are sorry to be obliged to mark a disposition to criticise the errors of preceding authors without an equal willingness to do justice to their merits. It was certainly incumbent on Dr. Brown, in the station which he filled, to point out to his pupils what he esteemed to be erroneous in the writings which had reputation; and this duty was really more imperative in proportion as the fame of any individual was exalted: but Dr. Brown manifestly delighted in showing, by a severe scrutiny of the works of his predecessors, how little had been done for mental science before his own labours; and in the case of Dr. Reid, at least, has been unjust in his strictures. We do not wish to violate the maxim." De Mortuis," but it is becoming, and indeed obligatory on all, to vindicate the reputation of departed worthies against the attacks of their survivors, and even against those of each other.
The merit of overthrowing the ideal system is adjudged to Dr. Reid by Mr. Stewart: and the quotations which Dr. Brown has made from authors who wrote before Dr. Reid, are not conclusive against his claim to this honour. Passages may be selected from the writings of almost any author, which, when separated from their connexion, will appear to convey sentiments nearly
A very remarkable instance may be seen in the note on Miracles, which is ap pended to the Inquiry. We might make frequent specifications in the Lectures.
the reverse of those which were intended; and therefore, although a few paragraphs may be culled from the works of Des Cartes and others, apparently consistent with the more enlightened views of the present day in relation to perception, we cannot thence infer that such was the belief of those eminent men. We have never thought that Locke was an idealist, although there are many parts of his Essay on the Human Understanding that can be reconciled to no other theory; perhaps those who reverence the great Locke less than ourselves would say, with some plausibility, that there are many passages consistent with the true theory of perception. If then Locke's vision was not clear on this subject, and we see him wandering, occasionally, from the regions of truth into those of conjecture and hypothesis, there is every reason to believe that his sagacity advanced far before those who preceded him, or even his contemporaries; and that they were still more bewildered. Besides, it is a singular circumstance, and may seem incredible to some that Dr. Brown's own opinions do not differ extremely from those of the Idealists. We are safe, at least, in the position that they are not so far removed from Idealism as the doctrines of Reid; and this may partly explain why Dr. Brown is disposed to view, more favourably, Des Cartes and his school. We have no reference, at present, to a resemblance already exhibited, relative to the formation of ideas; nor do we charge Dr. Brown with the folly of supposing images as objects of the mind when we think: but Dr. Brown indisputably uses language which seems to deny the perception of external objects by the mind; and thus the mind. perceives only the organic affections, whether these be images or agitations of the medullary substance, or any thing else, is comparatively of little import.
There are proofs in abundance of the assertion just made in Dr. Brown's confutation of Dr. Reid's "supposed" improvements in the science of mind, as also in other places. We wish to avoid extracts, except when they are absolutely indispensible; and shall, therefore, detain our readers with but a single passage:
"So far, indeed, would the confutation of this hypothesis (the Ideal) as to perception, be from lessening the force of the scepticism as to the existence of matter, that of two sceptics, one believing every thing, with respect to ideas, which Dr. Reed supposed himself to have confuted, and the other believing ideas to be mere states of his mind, there can be no question that the former would be the more easy to be overcome, since his belief would already involve the existence of SOMETHING separate from the mind; while the other might maintain that all of which he was conscious, was the mere series of affections of his own mind, and VOL. III.-No. 5.
All that re
that beyond this consciousness he could know nothing. mains then to supply the place of logical demonstration is the paramount force of universal and irresistible belief. We are conscious, indeed, only of the feelings that are the momentary states of our own mind: but some of these it is absolutely impossible for us not to ascribe to causes that are external and independent of us."t
Dr. Brown here informs us that the mind knows nothing more than its own consciousness, and that we believe in the existence of a material world, because this belief is inseparably linked by the constitution of our nature to certain feelings of the mind; and, in fact, this necessarily follows from viewing perception as a state of mind. Such is not the doctrine of Reid: the mind believes that there is a material world, because it perceives it; and, therefore, when Dr. Reid had overthrown the hypothesis of ideas as objects of perception, the evidence of the existence of a material world was as strong as that of the mind's own existence since we may call the existence of the mind itself into doubt with as much reason as the accuracy of its powers. The mind may, with the same propriety, question whether the mind exists, as whether that exists which the mind perceives to exist. To ask why the mind believes in the existence of that which it perceives, is sheer nonsense: it believes it because it perceives it; and no more valid reason can be given for our belief of any truth. Dr. Brown's animadversion then on Dr. Reid is entirely groundless; as it supposes Dr. Reid's views of perception to be coincident with his own; which is very far from being the fact. Dr. Brown's speculations much more nearly resemble those of the persons whose errors Dr. Reid exposed, than the doctrines of Reid himself.
There is an equally unfounded criticism of Dr. Brown‡ on a distinction made by Dr. Reid, between those properties of bodies which are perceived by the mind, and those, the existence of which is only known from their effects, and this stricture must also be referred to an imperfect acquaintance with Dr. Reid's theory of perception: or perhaps more truly to Dr. Brown's hypothesis, that all properties of matter equally operate upon, or affect the mind: and, consequently, the mind can know nothing more than the impression made upon itself. The primary qualities of bodies cause certain sensations which are felt, and also the secondary; and, in this particular, primary and secondary qualities of matter are similar but the primary qualities, the causes of the sensations, are perceived directly by the mind; the secondary are not; and in this they are different. "They are distinguished by this," says Dr. Reid, "that of the primary, we Ib. pp. 320–323.
* Lectures, vol. i. p. 356.
+ Ib. p. 357.
have a direct and distinct notion; but of the secondary, only a relative notion. They (the secondary) are conceived only as the unknown causes or occasions of certain sensations with which we are well acquainted." Dr. Reid labours, at some length, to prove that our notion of primary qualities is also relative to the affections, produced in us, exactly as our notion of secondary qualities. This is in the very spirit of the ideal system, that the mind can be informed only of the impressions received from external objects. There are other groundless strictures on Dr. Reid's opinions to be found in Dr. Brown's works; and in one passage, particularly, there is a degree of self-gratulation and triumph on the supposed discovery of a blunder which causes our author to forget himself so far as to use indecorous language, which reminded us of the glorying of the schoolboy when he imagines that he has caught his teacher tripping.t
But we have already been carried farther than was our intention when we commenced this article, and must bring it to a close. From a pretty careful perusal of his metaphysical writings, the only works of Dr. Brown, with which we are acquainted, we think that he possessed an acute and inquiring mind: we do not believe that he was a profound thinker. Many of the Lectures exhibit traces of hasty composition, and left upon our mind the impression that the subject had not been thoroughly studied nor grasped as a whole before the author commenced the delivery of his thoughts upon it. Hence, we see ingenious solutions of difficulties which have been thrown out in the heat of the moment without having been fully examined; and sometimes beams of light are scattered through long, rambling disquisitions, in which the author appears not to have had a sufficiently steady view of his subject to give unity to his discussion. We know nothing of Dr. Brown, except so far as knowledge of an author may be deduced from his writings, and we may be in error in our estimation of his attainments; but we cannot profess ourselves among those who consider either his talents or acquisitions of the first order: his station in the latter respect is not so high with us as in the former. There appears to be a want of ripeness in Dr. Brown's speculations; and we look in vain for the thorough scholarship of Dugald Stewart. We have remarked in the former part of this article, an instance or two of actual deficiency; and we remember, at present, another which occurs in the "Inquiry into the Relation of Cause and Effect." "It may be proved unanswerably, as far as mere logic is concerned, that no portion of the earth's surface, however small in appearance, can ever be traversed by a moving body, however rapid its mo+ Inquiry, pp. 85-86.
* Lectures, vol. i. pp. 142-350.