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CHAPTER FIRST.

UTILITY OF INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY.

1. Of the prejudice existing against this science.

A prejudice prevails against the science of Intellectual Philosophy. It is generally entered upon in our academies and colleges with reluctance, and relinquished without regret. This aversion is not limited to the idle, but includes those, who know the value of time and the importance of mental improvement.

The objections against the Philosophy of the Mind, which have in a great measure given rise to this prejudice, may be principally summed up in two particulars.

§. 2. Of the metaphysicks of the schools.

Of these, one is the frivolous character of the metaphysical writings of the SCHOOLS.

The origin of those institutions, to which the name of •CHOOLS is given, was this By order of a general Council of the Roman Catholick Church, held at Rome in the year 1179, certain persons were appointed to give instructions. either in the cathedrals and monasteries, or in some suitable buildings erected near them The places of instruction were called by the Latin name SCHOLAE; the teachers were termed SCHOLASTICI. These minor institutions, some of which had an existence previous to the enactment of

the canons of the Council, which has been mentioned, at length grew up into the more imposing shape of seminaries, answering to the publick literary institutions of modern times. But while there was an alteration in the institutions themselves, and universities and colleges in the end. arose from these small beginnings, the same appellations continued.

By the SCHOOLS, then, are to be understood the Europeanliterary and theological institutions, as they were constituted and regulated from about the middle of the twelfth century to the period of the Protestant reformation. By the SCHOLASTICK PHILOSOPHY, using the terms in a general sense, we mean those topicks, which were most examined and insisted on during that period.

The learning of the SCHOOLS may in general be referred to three great divisions, viz.

ONTOLOGY Or the science of Being in general;—

NATURAL THEOLOGY, which seems to have been the application of the principles of ontology to the particular existences, called God and angels; and PNEUMATOLOGY or doctrines having relation to the human mind.

The following are some of the inquiries, which were warmly agitated during the period now under examination.

Whether the Deity can exist in imaginary space no less than in the space, which is real? Whether the Deity loves a possible unexisting angel better, than an insect in actual existence ?

Whether the essence of mind be distinct from its existence? And whether its essence might, therefore, subsist, 'when it had no actual existence?

Whether angels can visually discern objects in the dark? Or whether they can pass from one point of space to another without passing through the intermediate points?

Such inquiries, it will readily be admitted, were worse than fruitless. But Intellectual Philosophy, as it exists at the present day, evidently ought not to be estimated by what it was in the scholastick ages. If, therefore, the pre

judice, which has been mentioned as prevailing against this science, be in any measure founded on the frivolous discussions of the schools, it is so far unjust; since it is now prosecuted on different principles and with different results.

§. 3. Supposed practical inutility of this science.

A second ground of the prejudice, existing against this science, is the prevalence of a false opinion of its practical inutility. In studying Intellectual Philosophy, we are sup posed in the erroneous opinion, which has been mentioned, to learn in a scientifick form only what we have previously learnt from nature; we acquire nothing new, and the time, therefore, which is occupied in this pursuit, is mispent.

All persons, however ignorant, know what it is, to think, to imagine, to feel, to perceive, to exercise belief. All persons know the fact in Intellectual Philosophy, that memory depends on attention; and when asked, why they have forgotten things, which occurred yesterday in their presence, think it a sufficient answer to say, that they did not at tend to them. Every body is practically acquainted with the principles of association, even the groom; who, with all his ignorance of philosophical books, has the sagacity to feed his horses to the sound of the drum and bugle, as a training preparatory to their being employed in military service.

From some facts of this kind, which may safely be admitted to exist, the opinion has arisen of the practical inutility of studying Intellectual Philosophy as a science.

§. 4. Its supposed practical inutility answered.

If, however, these facts be admited to be a valid objection in application to this study, the same objection evidently exists to the study of other sciences, for instance, Natural Philosophy. It is remarked of savages, that they gain an eminence before they throw their missile weapons, in order by the aid of such a position to increase the momentum of what is thrown. They do this without any sci

entifick knowledge of the accelerating force of gravity. The sailor, who has perhaps never seen a mathematical diagram, practically understands, as is evident from the mode in which he handles the ropes of the vessel, the composition and resolution of forces. In a multitude of instances, we act on principles, which are explained and demonstrated in some of the branches of Natural Philosophy. We act on them, while we are altogether ignorant of the science. But no one, it is presumed, will consider this a good excuse for making no philosophical and systematick inquiries into that department of knowledge.

But without contenting ourselves with this answer to the objection, that the study, upon which we are entering, is of no practical profit, some further remarks will be made, more directly and positively showing its beneficial results.

§. 5. Intellectual philosophy teaches us how to direct our inquiries.

It is one of the good results of a knowledge of Intellectual Philosophy, that we are taught by it to limit our inquiries to those subjects, to the investigation of which our capacities are equal and are adapted. The Supreme Being is an all pervading mind, a principle of life, that has an existence in all places and in all space, and whose intelligence is like his omnipresence, acquainted with all things, But man, his creature, is made with an inferiour capacity; he knows only in part, and it is but reasonable to suppose, that there are many things, which he will never be able to know. But, although it be justly admitted, that man is subordinate to the supreme Being and is infinitely inferiour to Him, his Maker has kindly given him aspirations after knowledge, with the power of satisfying in some measure and under certain limitations these natural breathings forth of the soul. If, therefore, man be a being, formed to know, and there be, moreover, certain restrictions, placed upon the capacity of knowledge, it is highly important to ascertain the limitations, whatever they may be, which are imposed. Nor is this always an easy thing to be determin

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ed. There is oftentimes a difficulty in ascertaining precisely the boundary, which runs between the possibility and the impossibility of knowledge, but whenever it is ascer tained, there is an indirect increase of mental ability by means of the withdrawment of the mind from unprofitable pursuits, in which there is an expence of effort without any remuneration.

When, for example, a piece of wood, or any other of those material bodies, by which we are surrounded, is presented to any one for his examination, there are some things in this material substance, which may be known, and others, which cannot. Its colour, its hardness or softness. its extension are points, upon which he can inform himself, can reason, can arrive at knowledge. He opens his eye; an impression is made on the organ of vision, and he has the idea of colour. By means of the application of his hand to the wood, he learns the penetrability or impenetrability, the softness or hardness of the mass, which he holds. By moving his hand from one point to another in the mass, he is informed of the continuity or extension of its parts. But when be pushes his inquisition beneath the surface of this body, when he attempts to become acquainted not only with its qualities, but with that supposed something, in which those qualities are often imagined to inhere, and, in a word, expends his efforts, in obedience to this unprofitable determination, in learning what matter is, independently of its properties, he then stumbles on a boundary, which it is not given men to pass, and seeks for knowledge where they are not permitted to know.

The necessity of understanding what things come with, in the reach of our powers and what do not, was a thought, which laid the foundation of Mr. Locke's Essay on the Hu man Understanding.

§. 6. Remarks of Mr. Locke on this point,

"Were it fit to trouble thee with the history of this Essay (he remarks in the Epistle to the reader) I should tell thee, that five or six friends meeting at my chamber and discours

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