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necessary, imperative, or only persuasive? Can it be resisted or not? A moment's reflection upon our idea of “ cessary connexion” may throw some light upon this subject.
In the external world, when one phenomenon immediately and invariably succeeds another, we connect the two by the relation of cause and effect. Though nothing is perceived but the fact of close succession, we necessarily attribute to the first an efficient agency in producing the second. The power which fire has to inflame gunpowder, for instance, is not perceived. We see only the two events, that the spark falls, and the explosion instantly follows, and we assume the necessary connexion between the two by virtue of an original and instinctive law of belief. A causal union never is perceived, and it is admitted to exist only on the ground of this primitive conviction of the understanding. If we do not give full credit to this intuitive principle, there is no such thing as a necessary event in the world either of matter or of mind. Now if the question be asked, whether human agency is free, we reply, that its freedom is attested by the same species of evidence, by another law of human belief equally cogent with the first. In other words, there is precisely the same authority for “ binding Nature fast in fate," and for “ leaving free the human will.” It will not do to receive the same testimony in one case, which we have just rejected in anoth
Either I am free to choose between two courses of conduct, or the word necessity has no meaning in it, and must be rejected altogether.
One lecture of Cousin, according to the abstract which is placed at its head in the manner of a table of contents, contains an “examination of three important theories found in the “Essay on Human Understanding '; I. theory of freedom, which inclines to Fatalism ; II. theory of the nature of the soul, which inclines to Materialism ; III. theory of the existence of God, which rests itself almost exclusively upon external proofs, drawn from the sensible world.” We have already considered the first of these subjects, and now pass on to the second. The charge of materialism would be preferred with a better grace against the principles of the “Essay, ” if the argument in favor of the immateriality of the thinking principle, with which the accusation is introduced, were not entirely borrowed from Locke himself. Borrowed we say, for though it is not credible, that Cousin took the VOL. LIII. - No. 112.
reasoning directly from the “Essay,” where the sight of it must immediately have convinced himn of the absurdity of bis allegation, yet he must have obtained it at second hand from one of Locke's previous copyists ; probably from Reid or Stewart. Again, we have no room for extracts, but we entreat our readers who may possess the volume, to peruse the three hundred and twenty-sixth and three hundred and twenty-seventh pages of the Elements of Psychology," and then to read over again the extracts from Stewart and Locke in the preceding part of this article in connexion with the idea of substance. When they have satisfied themselves, as we are sure they will do, that the reasoning of the two writers is precisely the same, they will be prepared to appreciate the fairness of the critic's accusation. No one can blame Cousin for borrowing an able argument to prove the immateriality of the soul; but when, in mercantile phrase, he had “accomplished the loan,” for him to turn round and accuse his benefactor of being himself a materialist is rather too bad. The direct occasion of making the charge may as well be mentioned, for it affords a curious illustration of the comparative humility of the two philosophers. With the inherent modesty of his disposition, Locke would not assert, that his argument amounted to a demonstration; he declared, that it was satisfactory to him, and that the point was proved to the highest degree of probability,” but he admitted, that we could not set limits to Divine power on this subject, or show that it was impossible for Omnipotence to superadd the faculty of thinking to systems of matter, when fiily disposed. Cousin puts forth the same reasoning as his own, declares that it is equivalent to a demonstration, and that Locke's humble and cautious estimate of bis means of defence amounts to a virtual desertion to the enemy. If there be any of our readers, who, perplexed by the careless and inconsistent language too often employed by Locke, still think there is some basis for this charge of materialism, let them turn to the celebrated chapter on the existence of a God; let them consider the nature of the proof employed ; let them examine particularly the long and elaborate argument against the supposition of a material deity; and then, perhaps, they will believe with
not that our French critic knowingly fabricated a base calumny against the author he pretended to review, for we believe him to be an honest man, though a weak and vain one, — but that he never read this portion of the “Essay," except perlaps a few headings of the sections, or he must have seen, that his accusation was utterly groundless and absurd.
The third charge above mentioned, which concerns the nature of the argument for proving the being of a God, opens to us a wide field of discussion, which we must pass over in a hurried and imperfect manner. The inquiry will be more surely conducted, if, before we attempt to weigh the different proofs against each other, we determine definitely in our own minds, how much we are to expect from any or all of them. We hold, that demonstrative arguments are confined to the sphere of abstract ideas, and are never properly applied to real existences. The geometer and algebraist are busied about pure abstractions, and the results which they obtain must be qualified in a material degree before they are applicable to practice, or can be verified by experiment. The Deity is not a mere idea ; His existence is a fact, the most momentous of all facts. Such, at least, we conceive, is the Christian conception of a God, - a real and personal Being, properly distinguished from His works, though everywhere present in those works. As such, the reality of His being must be made evident to our finite capacities through moral proofs. We do not say, that the argument does not amount to a demonstration, for this would imply that the reasoning we are obliged to use is less cogent and conclusive than that of the mathematician, a point which we by no means admit; but we do say, that it is not a demonstration. Moral proof raised to the highest point does not differ in degree, but in kind, from demonstrative evidence. On a thousand independent subjects the convictions of the geometer are quite as firmly fixed, as on those which he has just established by means of dia. grams and figures so that never lie.” At any rate, enough is done to secure the full measure of human responsibility on this awful subject, to make man justly accountable for denying his God, when it is shown, that among all the expectations and probabilities, by which the actions of this life, from the most insignificant to the most important, are governed, there is not one more firmly supported, than that which points to the separate existence of an all-wise and all-benevolent Creator and Governor of the universe.
We are perfectly aware, that this view of the matter does
not supply an argumentum ad hominem to M. Cousin. He talks with perfect consistency about demonstrating the existence of a God, for he not only reasons from pure abstractions, but he identifies the object of his inquiry with an abstract idea. According to his theory, the three elements of pure Reason, the idea of the Finite, the Infinite, and their relation, do not afford a passage to the Divine existence, “for these ideas are God himself.” These three elements, “a triplicity which resolves itself into unity, and an unity which developes itself into triplicity,” constitute the Divine Intelligence itself, the tria juncta in uno, the mystery of the Godhead. “Up to this height, Gentlemen,” he exclams in the most impressive style of French eloquence, “Up to this height, Gentlemen, does our intelligence upon the wings of ideas, — to speak with Plato, - elevate itself. Here is that thrice holy God, whom the family of man recognises and adores, and before whom the octogenary author of the Système du Monde' bowed and uncovered his head, whenever he was named. But we are now above the world, above humanity, above human reason. [True.) We are no longer in nature and in humanity ; we are only in the world of ideas."* • Those who are satisfied with this conception of the Deity can accept also Cousin's demonstrative proof of His existence. But for ourselves, we want words to express our indignation against this impious Harlequinade of words, this mode of binding together three dry sticks of abstract ideas, and then baptizing the miserable fagot as God.
In estimating the validity of the objections to the argument a posteriori, it is important to remember, that they have neither force nor application, except against the unwise assertion, that this argument is demonstrative in its character. They leave absolutely untouched the overwhelming probability, — we use the word in its technical and logical meaning, the moral certainty, which results from this chain of reasoning, when considered only as a moral proof. Take an instance from one branch of the main argument, the reasoning from final causes. It is idle for the skeptic and the Transcendentalist to assert, that adaptation does not prove design, unless he admits in the same breath, that it creates so strong a presumption of design, that a man would be a fit tenant of
* Introduction to the History of Philosophy, pp. 131, 132, 158.
Bedlam, caput insanabile tribus Anticyris, who would not act upon the proposition with quite as firm assurance, as if he were enunciating any theorem in Euclid. Yet Paley's admirable work has been impeached, because he did not waste his own time and his readers' patience in an attempt to substantiate this simple proposition, — because he coolly took it for granted. We do not rest the whole, or even the chief, stress of the argument for the Divine existence upon this single point. We hold, that the argument is naturally cumulative, for the very reason, that it is not a demonstrative, but a moral, proof. We adınit all branches of it, therefore, the a priori no less than the a posteriori element, each holding its proper place and adding its due share to conviction. We only protest, and here lies the point of the matter for Cousio and his adherents, — against the virtual rejection of the argument froni the effect to the cause, because it is said, forsooth, to be the fungous growth of a diseased tree, the offspring of that mighty bugbear, the Sensual philosophy.
The charge against Locke, — and it is treated as a grave one,- is, that he grounds his reasoning “almost exclusively upon external prooss drawn from the sensible world.” Though we have hitherto reasoned as if the charge was well founded, yet it turns out, as might be expected alter the tissue of misrepresentations which we have exposed, that the matter of the indictment is not more than half true. Man's own existence is the only datum, the only sensible fact that is appealed to in the argument ; from this point the reasoning is direct by a short series of intuitive propositions up to the being of a God. Even this existence is subsequently explained (see Sec. 18th) to be a spiritual existence, the point of the argument turning upon man not as a material, but a thinking, creature. Locke's selection of an argument does not appear to us a very happy one, and we have already given our reasons for not considering it as demonstrative, though we thereby contradict his favorite doctrine. But it would be quite as well to represent his reasoning correctly, before making it the subject of criticism.
Locke's real offence consists in rejecting the Cartesian method of treating the argument. To rest the whole weight of the proof on the idea of God as it exists in the human mind, is the course which Locke censures as partial and unwise. He admits, that there is some force in this consid