Mary, and Jupiter for the Holy Ghoft-and the labours of the hero for the exploits of apoftles, faints, &c.

Quodcunque fic mihi oftendis incredulus odi.

Lemnos was famous, in ancient times, for its labyrinth; which, according to Pliny, was adorned with 150 columns. There are no traces of it now remaining.-But time, which has deftroyed this and other productions of the fine arts, has not effaced the prejudices and fuperftitions of the inhabitants The earth, or clay of Lemnos, which healed the wound of Phil&tetes, ftill maintains its credit in the efteem of the Greeks, who gather it, only one day in the year, with great folemnity and pompous ceremonies, and fend it through all Europe in little maffes, in form of loaves, marked with the imperial feal of the Grand Seignior.-It is fuppofed to poffefs great virtues, and fome phylicians condefcend to make use of it; but the chymift difcerns nothing in it but common clay.

The last plate contains a plan of the port of St. Anthony, which is followed by a tail-piece reprefenting a Vulcan, furrounded with the medals found in the places described in this number.


Theorie des Etres Infenfibles; ou, Cours complet de Metaphyfique facrée et profane, &c.—i. e. A Theory of thofe Beings which do not fall under the Senfes (i. e. the five external ones); or, a complete Course of Metaphyfics, facred and profane, fuited to every Capacity, and enriched with an Alphabetical Index, which renders the whole Work equivalent to a Dictionary of Metaphyfics or Philofophy. By the Abbé PARA DU PLAUJAS. 3 Vols. 8vo. Paris. 1779.


HE title of this work is fingular, but its contents, with all its redundancies and defects, are interefting. The Author calls it the Theory of Beings imperceptible by the Senfes, to distinguish it from a Syftem of Natural Philofophy, which he published under the title of Theorie des Etres Senfibles -If his ftyle was not too declamatory and verbose, if the repetitions were not accumulated almost beyond example, and if some of the most abfurd doctrines of the Romish, church were not clothed here in a tawdry metaphyfical garb, to conceal their disgusting nudity, we might venture to recommend this work as a useful present to the public, and, more particularly, to ftudents, who are entering upon a courfe of philofophy. Such as it is, it is far from being unworthy of notice; and those who can diftinguish between the drofs of philofophy and the pure metal, may find both inftruction and entertainment in its perufal. They have only to put it into the crucible, and they will be rewarded for their pains.


The first volume contains two treatifes. The firft of these is divided into 15 paragraphs, as our Author calls them, which, in their turn, are fubdivided into chapters, and have for their fubject the General Theory of Beings; that is, the moft univerfal and abstract notions of things. The Author here paffes in review the various branches of ontological fcience, or thofe ideas that relate to being in general; and which, indeed, are the proper introduction to a complete course or system of philofophical science. Here we find the fundamental and preliminary notions, relative to metaphyfical abftraction, first principles, the fcientific methods of demonftration, the truth of things, their poffibility, exiftence, effences, accidental modifications, their properties and attributes, their genera and fpecies, their causes and effects, their effential and accidental relations, their real and formal diftinctions, their univerfality and individuality; as alfo the nature of space and duration. The fecond treatife relates to certitude or evidence, the bafis of all true knowledge, and which our Author confiders as refulting from four fources of information, from the teftimony of confcioufnefs (le fens intime), the teftimony of ideas, that of the fenfes, and that of mankind: these four kinds of teftimony are examined, difcuffed, and defended, in so many chapters.

The faculty of reafoning, which is a gift of nature, but which art and education are adapted to improve, direct, and render lefs uncertain and fallible in its operations, is the fubject of the first treatise we meet with in the IId volume. There are many excellent things in this treatise of logic, but they are mixed with much verbolity and jargon, and want greatly the hand. of a refiner to feparate the gold from the drofs. What our Author calls the Theory of the Deity (an improper expreffion defigned to fignify Natural Theology), fills the remainder of this volume, and is divided into two fections. In the firft he demonftrates the exiftence of God,-in the fecond he confiders the intimate substance and effence of the Supreme Creator and Preferver of Nature; and fhews that, in that Great Being, there is an effence infinitely fimple, a providence infinitely wife, a liberty infinitely independent, an activity infinitely efficacious, an intelligence, in all refpects, infinite and unerring. In the course of our Author's reasonings on this fublime subject, he refutes the Epicureans, the Materialifts, and their metaphyfical kinfmen, the Atheifts; he alfo afcertains the exiftence and obligation of a natural law, whofe authority is confirmed, in many inftances, by the disorders which degrade humanity, and are the infractions of a primitive rule, which circumftance alone could render them deformed and deplorable. The blundering Author of the Syftem of Nature, one of the most unphilosophi



cal writers of the prefent age (taking the term philofophy in its true fenfe, and not as the Shibboleth of a fect or party), is expofed by the Abbé de Para to the contempt he so justly deferves; but a few words being fufficient for fuch an illiterate and uninftructed rhetorician, our Author employs much more of his time and pains in the refutation of Telliamed; his refutation is learned, ingenious, and fatisfactory; and seems to us the most mafterly piece of polemics contained in this volume.

The human foul, and the fouls of brutes, are the important fubjects that occupy the researches and logic of our Author, in the third volume; in which the mixture of excellent, good, bad, and indifferent reafoning, is the most palpable, and, indeed, is in fome inftances deplorable.The Theory of the Human Soul is here divided into two fections. In the first, our Author analyzing (as he himself expreffes it) the human foul into its most intimate effence,' proves with the highest degree of evidence, that its nature is entirely diftinct from all material fubftance; that there is nothing in it, or without it, that can naturally occafion or require its deftruction ;-that it is not under the conftraint of neceffity in its moral acts;-in a word, that it is fpiritual, free, and immortal. In the fecond, he examines the powers of intelligence, feeling, and activity in the mind, which leads him to an extenfive theory of the human understanding, confidered in its various dependences, in its connections with the affections of the heart, the first principle of motion, occafional caufes, the nervous fluid, and other circumstances that are known to have a confiderable influence both on the affections and operations of the human mind.

That thought is the exertion or act of an intelligent power, is not to be doubted ;-but at the fame time, certain philosophers have pretended that matter, under certain forms and combinations, is endowed with the faculty of thinking. Have they ever proved this? Why does not our Abbe call upon them to prove it? We have been long in poffeffion of a belief, that thought, defire, confciousness, deliberation, and judgment, are not refolvable into, nor to be accounted for by, any principles, powers, or qualities, which we know to be poffeffed by wood, ftone, metal, mineral, vegetable, flesh, fifh, mufcle, nerve, fibre, or even any modification or degree of motion added to thefe or any other portions of matter. If then this belief is to be difcarded-we fhould be glad to know why? If we are told, that there, MAY BE qualities in matter, as yet unknown to us, which are capable of producing thought, confcioufnefs, deliberation, and judgment, all we are obliged to anfwer is, that when these qualities are produced, we will take them into confideration, and examine their titles; but until that time comes, we fee not why we fhould fwallow down the, incoherent paradoxes of every


cloud-capt metaphyfician, who comes forth with an air of fufficiency to put off his noftrums, who brings difficulties inftead of arguments, and pulls down, without even attempting to build. Poor Maupertuis, many years ago, who was a very honest, good fort of a man, drew upon himself the laughter of Europe, by his propofal to make experiments on the foul by the means of opium; and we fit and read, or hear, with a grave countenance, nay, fometimes, with a foolish face of praife, that the parts of matter may be annihilated by divifion,-that matter has no exiftence but in the phenomenon of cohesion, which confequently is an aggregate of nothings, and confequently, again, that (fpirit being a mere phantom) this aggregate of nothings, this cohesion of matter (which is no matter), is the only feat and principle of intelligence. Hey day! where are we got! this is driving at fuch a rate, that it makes one dizzy. This digreffion, which the time and occafion may juftify, has made us lofe fight of our Author, who, with a complaifance and condefcenfion that could not have beeen ftrictly required of him, undertakes to prove (and proves in effect) that matter is not capable of thought, neither in itself, nor in confequence of any modification known to us, nor of any degree of velocity or motion that may be imparted to it.-This part of our Author's work is clear, convincing, and mafterly: we shall not, however, enlarge upon it here: the hypothefis of materialism, which, in good hands (if fuch will take it up), is of no bad confequence, either to religion or morality, is nevertheless fuch palpable nonfenfe in philofophy, that we have little inclination to follow those that refute it, though, now and then, we have curiofity enough to bestow a moment of leisure on the fophiftical tricks of thofe who maintain it. We are, indeed, perfuaded, that these tricks, trifling as they are in themselves, may be employed, in bad hands, to very unhappy purposes, and that they may be made ufe of to give, in the eyes of the ignorant and unwary, a certain fpecious colouring to the very worft of caufes-Ha nuga feria ducunt in mala; they are, however, but vapours of falle feience, which will float for a while in the metaphyfical atmosphere, and then disperse of themselves:

Cum ventum ad verum eft, fenfus morefque repugnant.


Our Author has taken, nevertheless, great pains on the fubject: he has not only built the immateriality of the foul on pofitive and ftrong foundations, but he anfwers all the objections of the materialifts with patience, fagacity, and perfpi


The fixth treatife, contains a Theory of the Soul that animates the brute creation, and is divided into two fections. In the first, the ABBE DE PARA, in a long analysis of this foul or Ii4 animating

animating principle, endeavours to prove, that it is a substance. effentially different both from matter and spirit-that, having neither the properties of the one nor of the other, and being a fubftance endowed with feeling, and void of intelligence, it forms an intermediate fpecies between the two.-In the second section, we have a farther analyfis of this invifible principle, the refult of which is, in the deductions of our Author, that it poffeffes no faculty which extends farther than fenfations and fenfible objects, which can form or comprehend abftract ideas, moral qualities, or objects merely intellectual-that it is governed and directed merely by the attraction of physical pleasure, or by the apprehenfion of phyfical pain, without any notion or concern about pleasures or pains of a moral or intellectual kind-and that there is, in this foul of the brute creation, an internal principle of motion, which produces or occafions movements, contrary to, or independent on, the general laws of fimple material mechanism. This part of our Author's investigation is curious and interefting; his refutation of the Cartefian hypothefis is complete-but, however fpecious and ingenious his arguments are to prove, that the brutes, though not mere machines, are yet confined to direct sensation from objects present, and are totally void of all intelligence, and reasoning powers, yet we cannot entirely acquiefce in them.-We feel a propenfity to claim an exception for Pope's half-reasoning elephant, and to look upon that epithet as not unphilofophical.

There is a third fection added to the two preceding, in which our Author confiders the laws of nature, that are relative to the growth and decline of the animal body.

The last treatife exhibits the Metaphyfical Theory of Matter, or that part of the fcience of bodies, which is independent on experiments and obfervations, and belongs entirely to the province of intellectual fpeculation. Matter, confidered as the object of our external fenfes (the only afpect, fay we, under which we can form any juft notions of it), is amply treated of by our Author, in his courfe of natural Philofophy, which, as we obferved above, was published fome time ago, under the title of Theorie des Etres Senfibles. But in the treatise now before us, he mounts into the clouds on a metaphyfical hobby-horse, and groping for the effence, fenfible quality, exiftence, and action, of matter, he recites opinions, calls out, Myftery! and lays hold of this opportunity of palming upon dupes, an idea of the poffibility of the monftrous doctrine of tranfubftantiation, by huffling in this abfurdity among the manifold and mysterious notions of the effence of matter, fuch as its triple dimenfions indeterminate and invariable-its infinity of extended and indivifible elements-its fpecific effence, and its generic effence ;-and so on,→ and

« VorigeDoorgaan »