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is natural or constitutional to do so. In other words, the very nature of our mental constitution, independently of the suggestions of reason and experience, leads us to believe what men assert. We are so constituted, that the very first sound of the human voice which reaches us calls into action a disposition on our part to admit the truth of whatever intelligence it conveys.—In support of this view (which, it may be remarked, has in its favour the weighty names of Reid and Campbell among others), reference may properly be made to what we observe in children. In the earliest period of life, as soon as the first gleams of intelligence are visible, they look with hope and fondness to those who support them; there seems to be no doubt, no suspicion, no want of confidence. This strong reliance discovers itself from time to time, as they advance towards youth; and, in the whole of the early part of our existence, is so distinct, strong, and operative, that men have given to it a specific name, in order to distinguish it from the more chastened credence of riper years. We speak of the caution and the convictions of manhood, and of the simplicity and CREDULITY of children.
$ 27. Objection to reliance on testimony. It may
be objected to the doctrine of reliance on human testimony, that we are liable to be led into mistakes by the statements of our fellow-men. This objection merits some attention; and the answer to it may
be summed up in two particulars.-First. The proportion of cases of deception, compared with those where we are not deceived, is very small. We admit that we may be disappointed and deceived sometimes, but not often, in comparison with the whole number of cases where we place reliance. Men are naturally disposed to speak the truth; it is much easier than to speak what is not true, for truth is at hand; but the practice of prevarication and misstatement requires labour and invention -- besides jarring violently upon every honourable sentiment within us. So capable is this view of being sustained, that even those men who have brought upon themselves the infamy of being considered liars, probably utter the truth a hun
And we may
dred times where they utter a falsehood once. -SECOND, Admitting that we are liable to be led astray by means of testimony, still it is in our power, and is our duty, to take suitable precautions against this liability.—We are by no means required to place implicit confidence in it, without a regard to the circumstances under which it is given, and the character and opportunities of the person who gives it. Every one knows that there are in himself tendencies and principles which, in certain circumstances, may be brought in conflict with the more ennobling principle of truth; and that he is liable to error, even when he supposes himself to be seeking the truth, from the mere want of labour and care. make use of this experience in judging of the testimony of others, since we may reasonably suspect in them the existence of similar tendencies and similar want of circumspection. It is therefore consistent with any suitable degree of reliance on testimony to satisfy ourselves whether the person who testifies possessed ample means of information; whether he made use of those means; and whether, in giving testimony, he may not be under the influence of interest or passion.
§ 28. Of relative suggestion as a ground of belief. VI.-Another ground or law of belief, of such a nature as to be entitled to a distinct consideration, is RELATIVE SUGGESTION. By this phrase is expressed the power or susceptibility, by means of which we perceive the relations of objects. What RELATIONS themselves are, it is unnecessary to attempt to define; no mere form of words can render the conception of them clearer to any person's comprehension than it is already supposed to be. All that needs be asserted is the mere fact, that, when the mind contemplates two or more objects, we naturally put forth other perceptions or feelings; we cannot avoid doing it. For instance, we feel or perceive such objects to be the same or different, like or unlike, equal or unequal, cause or effect, whole or part, attribute or subject, &c.
These new feelings, as well as the direct perceptions of the objects to which they relate, are occasions of belief. We not only believe the existence of the feelings themselves, but find ourselves unable to resist and exclude the belief of the actual existence and truth of that to which they correspond, viz., relations. The relations of things, it is true, are not objects directly addressed to the external senses ; and as we cannot directly see them, nor hear them, nor feel them, they seem comparatively obscure. And yet we are so constituted, that the cognizance of them is utterly inseparable from a knowledge of those objects in respect to which they exist. If they are not perceivable by the outward senses, they are nevertheless perceivable by the mind, and are undoubtedly, in some important sense, real subjects of contemplation and knowledge.-Accordingly, RELATIVE SUGGESTION, the name of the susceptibility by means of which we become acquainted with relations, is properly regarded a Law of
0 29. Of reasoning as a ground or law of belief. VII.--All REASONING, both Moral and Demonstrative, and in whatever form it exists, is also an original foundation of belief. Relative suggestion and reasoning are closely connected together ; since every train of reasoning implies and involves a series of felt or perceived relations. Perceptions of relation may be regarded as the links which bind together such separate perceptions, facts, or truths, as come within the range of the subject reasoned upon; and without which they would inevitably remain in their original state of insulated and unavailable propositions. Truth is added to truth, feeling arises successive to feeling, until we arrive at the conclusion which invariably fixes our belief.
When, however, we assert, that the conclusions deduced from a process of reasoning invariably influence our belief, we should particularly keep in mind here that belief may exist in very various degrees. When the successive feelings which we have in a train of reasoning are all intuitive, and the propositions with which we commenced were certain, or were assumed as such, belief is, of course, of the highest kind. And this is always the case in demonstrations; for there we always begin with either known or assumed truths, and as the propositions compa
red together are entirely abstract, there seems to be no room for doubt or mistake. But in moral reasoning, although the mental process is the same, the conclusion is not necessarily true; the propositions contemplated are in general of a different character from what we find in demonstrative reasoning; and the conclusion will vary from mere presumption to absolute certainty, according to the nature of the facts laid before the mind.
But is it a fact, that Reasoning necessarily controls our convictions in any case? What evidence is there that our belief, in a greater or less degree, is naturally dependant on its conclusions ?—If we can suppose such a question to be seriously put, a prompt and satisfactory answer is to be found in the general and in individual experience. No man has it in his power to refuse obedience to the decisions of reasoning ; nor does he ever do it, except from an inability to embrace at once, and to balance the successive steps of the process. So far as he fully understands the elementary parts which enter into a just train of reasoning, and can estimate the relative bearing of one part on another, just so far his belief is naturally and ne cessarily affected
$ 30. The mind may be regarded in a threefold point of view. It is undoubtedly true, that the human soul is to be regarded as constituting a nature which is one and indivisible; but still there is abundant reason for asserting that its nature can never be fully understood by contemplating it solely and exclusively under one aspect. There are, accordingly, three prominent and well-defined points of view in which the mind may be contemplated, viz., the Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will, otherwise expressed by the phrases INTELLECTUAL, SENSITIVE Or SENTIENT, and VOLITIONAL States of the mind.
and appropriately belongs to the intellect, has something peculiar and characteristic of it which shuts it out from the domain of the sensibilities; and whatever has the nature of a volition, has a position apart both from the intellectual and the sentient. This is a fundamental arrangement, which, when properly and fully carried out and applied, includes the whole soul. To the one or the other of these general heads, everything involved in our mental existence may be referred. In fully exhausting, therefore, these topics, we may justly count upon having completed the exploration of the mental constitution.
31. Evidence of the general arrangement from consciousness. The general arrangement which has been spoken of, viz., into the INTELLECTUAL, SENTIENT, and VOLUNTARY states of the mind, appears to be susceptible of abundant illustration and proof. It is not our intention, however, to enter into the discussion of its correctness at much length; but merely to indicate, as briefly as possible, some of the grounds on which it has been made; premising, at the same time, that the whole of this work, while it is based in a good degree on this fundamental division, will be found to furnish incidental evidence throughout of its truth.
In proof of the propriety of the general arrangement in question, we may refer, in the first place, to Consciousness. In doing this we are, of course, obliged to presume that the reader understands what is meant by the term consciousness; and that he assents to the truth, so readily
; and generally acknowledged, that we have much of our knowledge of the mind by its aid. Mental philosophers assure us that we are enabled, by means of consciousness, to ascertain what thought and feeling are in themselves, and to distinguish them from each other. And if we are not willing to depend upon the information thus given us, if we reject its authority in the hopes of finding something more certain, we shall only be involved in greater difficulty ; in the language of Condillac on this very subject, “we stray from a point which we apprehend so clearly that it can never lead us into error."* But if it be true that the existence and distinctive character of the mental
Origin of Knowledge, pt. i., ch. i.