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with the powers of so vast and so complicated an instrument as that of speech, and of acquiring this knowledge in circumstances the most unfavourable, we might indeed find cause to wonder at a capacity so admirable. But even at this early period, what reasonings, what observations have been formed! And nature effects all this by the simplest means, the more sure for their simplicity. The simple desire of knowledge explains a mystery which nothing else could explain.” Lect. 67.
Brown concludes his view of the physiology of mind, with these remarks : “ The last lecture concluded our view of the physiology of mind in all the aspects it presents to our observation ; and we trust that good reasons have appeared for the new arrangement we have adopted, since every former arrangement would have been inconsistent with the results of the minuter analysis into which we have been led. In treating of the extensive order of our emotions, which comprehend all our moral feelings, we did not confine ourselves to the mere physiology of those feelings, but intermixed many discussions as to moral duty, and the relation of the benevolent author of nature to the contrivances of our moral frame. It would have been wonderful, if this connexion had escaped us, in considering the human mind. But these remarks were intentionally made, in order to connect in the mind a consideration of the wisdom and goodness of God, with the contemplation of this subject. This connexion will not render us less quick in observation, or less nice in analysis, while it will produce feelings and views far more valuable than the discovery of the greatest truths.” Lect. 73.
The last part of the course is more strictly ethical. The science of ethics, (says Brown,) has relations to our affections of mind, not simply as phenomena, but as virtuous or vicious, right or wrong. In the consideration of such questions, we feel that philosophy is something more than knowledge ; that it not only teaches us what virtue is, but assists us in obtaining it.
It is the opinion of Professor Brown, that the feelings of approval and blame, which we feel on the contemplation of virtuous or vicious actions, are ultimate facts in our nature, which cannot be resolved into any thing more elementary. Many mistakes have arisen, from the confused phraseology of writers on ethical subjects. Merit and obligation are not different things. If a man perform a virtuous action, he must have merit; that is, he will excite the feeling of approbation, in those who contemplate him. In thinking of virtue, we must not look for any thing self-existing, like the universals of the schools, but a felt relation, of certain actions to certain emotions, and nothing more. That there is this relation, no one will deny; but there are some who deny the originality of the principle, and who ascribe our approbation of one class of actions as virtuous, and our disapprobation of another class as vicious, to other principles in our nature, or to adventitious circumstances. There is no principle which is more universally displayed, than moral feeling; without it, society could not exist. There are, it must be allowed, some instances in which it is modified and even perverted by circumstances, as other principles may be. Passion may warp our moral feelings, as it would our rational judgments. Association may prevent our forming a true estimate of an action, which, if truly estimated, would excite emotions different from those, which, under the influence of such association, it does now excite. The mixed nature of human actions, may cause our feelings to vary, according as they have leaned to one or the other element, in the complex action; but still, we never approve vice, merely as vice, without any mixture of good; or refuse our approbation to virtue, when it is distinctly perceived. If any are interested to prove that virtue is nothing, and therefore vice is nothing, it is the guilty; and yet the truth of virtue cannot be shaken off, even by him to whom conviction brings only misery.
Brown examines the systems of different philosophers, who have attempted to resolve our moral feelings into others considered more general ; such as the love of praise, the influence of reason, of utility, the selfish systems, in which he includes Paley's,) and the system of Adam Smith, which refers them to sympathy. He shows that all these either deny the difference of moral feeling from all other emotions, which the consciousness of each one would disprove; or else, take for granted that very principle of moral approbation and disapprobation, for which their systems are designed to account.
Having settled the foundation of virtue, Brown proceeds to the consideration of those practical duties which virtue commands. Some philosophers have made the whole of virtue to consist in benevolence-others in justice; and the inaccuracy in these arrangements, has led to a denial of all moral distinctions.
Here, (we would remark,) may be perceived the importance of mere arrangement; which often, when inaccurate, occasions the confounding of things essentially different. We are all influenced by names; when two things are called by the same name, it is in consequence of some real or supposed resemblance. This resemblance takes our attention, and we lose sight of the distinctions which may exist, and be far more important and characteristic than the resemblance. We are then led to reason as if no such distinctions actually existed; and, our reasonings being deduced from such false premises, though apparently correct in their processes, lead to absurdities. Thus we imbibe a sceptical feeling with regard to all reasoning. Therefore, although no arrangement, however unphilosophical, can alter the actual quali,
ties of things, the effect on our minds is almost as bad as if it could do so. Was there nothing else to approve in the author before us, but his arrangement, the excellence of this, would entitle him to our warmest thanks, for the aid it must lend to the cause of true philosophy.
Brown has arranged our practical duties under three heads ;-those we owe to others, those we owe to ourselves, and those we owe to God. The lectures on this department of the subject, afford lessons of morality, which could not, we think, be read by the most insensible, without new perceptions of the beauty and value of virtue, and new resolutions, (even if they remained nothing more than resolutions,) to make her paths their choice. From an analysis of them, we should obtain only familiar results; as the practical part of ethics, whatever may be the theory on which it is rested, is the same in all ages, with the exception of those refinements which the Christian religion and the progress of civilization have produced.
Brown does not lay much stress on mere metaphysical arguments, for the existence of the Deity. On the great argument of the evidence of design, which the works of nature afford, he rests the doctrine. If we could not, he says, believe that a multitude of types thrown together, would produce the principia of Newton, how can we believe that the world which he has described, is less indicative of design? In his argument for the benevolence of the Deity, he has deemed it sufficient to show, that our happiness far exceeds our misery; but, in addition to this, we find evil sometimes productive of good, especially moral good. The virtues of patience, magnanimity, and fortitude, could not have been developed, without suffering; and who is there, that would not blush to prefer the most perfect but inglorious ease and luxury, to these virtues ?
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, (says Brown,) is one so congenial to our wishes, that we might be induced to adopt it on evidence less satisfactory, than would be demanded in an impartial state of the mind. The analysis and arrangement of the phenomena of mind, are independent of any views which we may form of the nature of the substance. These may be the same, whether we adopt the opinions of the materialists or immaterialists. But they cannot be indifferent, in an inquiry which relates to the permanence of the substance, since this must, in Brown's opinion, be admitted or rejected, nearly accordingly as we admit or reject one or the other opinion. If there be nothing distinct from the material frame-if the phenomena of mind depend on organized matter, we have reason to believe, that, when this organization is destroyed, the capacity for thought, which depends on it, should also be destroyed. If our material frame be not thought, but only something which bears a certain relation to VOL. IV.NO. 7.
the principle of thought, there is no reason to conclude, that, because the particles of our frame lose their present arrangement, and their relation to the spirit is dissolved, the spirit must, on that account, become extinct. If we might trust to consciousness, we need not go far for evidence of the unity of the thinking principle, and consequently for the proof, that it is not matter. No one but the philosopher, could be made to believe, that thought and feeling were not the properties of a simple individual substance. Much of the fallacy of the arguments of the materialists, arises from a false notion of unity. What we term a body, is not a simple substance, but a congeries of particles, each of which possesses the qualities that belong to the whole ; and, if matter is in its nature divisible, no arrangement of particles can confer on it the property of indivisibility. There is an ambiguity also in the term result, which has betrayed many persons into a confidence in the doctrine of materialism. An instrument of music, it is said, consists of parts; and yet the result, which is a sound, is simple. But sound is not a quality of matter—it is an affection of mind. Can spirit then, which is essentially one, indivisible, and unextended, be dependent on any arrangement of the particles of matter, which is in its nature divisible, extended, and subject to change?
Brown lays little stress on arguments merely metaphysical, in favour of the immortality of the soul; he thinks the only foundation which reason can give for a belief in this doctrine, must rest on the immateriality of the thinking principle.
The only division of the subject which remains, is the duty we owe to ourselves. The influence of the doctrine of universals, is apparent in the various theories of happiness which were formed by the ancients, as well as in every other department of their philosophy. Because, a single term, as happiness, was employed to express the various emotions which resemble each other in the circumstance of being agreeable, however different may be their degrees, or however distinct their existing causes, it was believed that happiness was one and simple; and they denied that there could be any absolute happiness, except in that particular species which they denominated the universal good. “The Epicureans believed all happiness to be ultimately resolvable into sensual delight. The Stoics, into intellectual. Both were right in what they admitted, and wrong in what they denied.” "A wider and more judicious view of our being, would show that human happiness is as various as the functions of man.”
Happiness is only a name for a series of agreeable feelings, and whatever is capable of exciting these feelings is a source of happiness.” Lect. 100.
Brown arranges the sources of our happiness under three heads, sensitive, intellectual, and moral and religious. Conforming to the three aspects under which he has, throughout his work, regarded man, viz: as a sensitive, an intellectual, and a moral and religious being. But having exceeded the limits which we had proposed to ourselves, we must refer the reader to the three last lectures for his remarks on these subjects.
There are some repetitions in these lectures, which, if the author had lived to prepare them himself for the press, would doubtless have been omitted. There is also a diffuseness in the style, and, in many places, an amplification of the idea, which have with justness been condemned, as not suiting the gravity and precision of science. But it should be remembered, that this is not a system of intellectual philosophy, originally designed for the public, but a course of lectures delivered to a class of young men. An important object with the lecturer, was to render an abstract and difficult subject, intelligible and interesting to his pupils. That in this he must have been eminently successful, will not be doubted, by any one acquainted with other metaphysical writings. This study, which presents as many points of general interest, as any in the whole circle of human inquiry, has, hitherto, in consequence of the dry and often unintelligible manner of treating it,) obtained the attention only of a small number, even of the learned. The popular form in which it is presented by Professor Brown, while it takes nothing from the accuracy and profoundness of his investigations, has rendered his work attractive to every reader of philosophical taste and curi. osity, and will, we think, do much towards raising this science to its just rank.
ART. II. EGYPTIAN HISTORY.
1.-Aperçu des Resultats Historiques de la découverte de
l'alphabete Hieroglyphique Egyptiene, par M. CHAMPOLLION LE JEUNE, from the Bulletin Universel for May and
June, 1827. 2.- Description de l'Egypte.--Paris, 1821. PANCKOUCKE. Pre
In a former number of this journal, we have given an account of the Egyptian System of Hieroglyphic writing. * We have, in one more recent, † attempted to fix the dates of the settlement of Egypt, and of the reign of Sesostris. This subject possesses
* No. II. p. 438. † No. IV. p. 509.