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confifts in its approaching, as nearly as posible, in its nature, to the language of algebra. And hence the effects which long habits of philosophical speculation have, in weakening, by disuse, those faculties of the mind, which are necessary for the exertions of the poet and the orator ; and of gradually forming a Ityle of composition, which they who read merely for amusement, are apt to censure for a want of vivacity and of ornament.
Remarks on the Opinions of some modern Philosophers on
the Subject of the foregoing Section. AFTER the death of Abelard, through whose abilities and eloquence the fect of Nominalists had enjoyed, for a few years, a very fplendid triumph, the system of the Realists began to revive ; and it was foon fo completely re-established in the schools, as to prevail, with little or no opposition, till the fourteenth century. What the circumstances were, which led philosophers to abandon a doctrine, which seems so strongly to recommend itself by its fimplicity, it is not very easy to conceive. Probably the heretical opinions, which had subjected both Abelard and Roscelinus to the cenfure of the church, might create a prejudice alfo against their philofophical principles; and probably too, the manner in which these principles were stated and defended, was not the cleareft, nor the most satisfactory.* The principal cause, however, I am disposed to think, of the decline of the fect of Nominalists, was their want of some palpable example, by means of which they might illustrate their doctrine. It is by the use which algebraists make of the letters of the alphabet in carrying on their operations, that Leibnitz and Berkeley have been most successful in explaining the use of language as an instrument of thought; and, as in the XIIth century, the algebraical art was entirely unknown, Roscelinus and Abelard must have been redu. ced to the necessity of conveying their leading idea by general circumlocutions; and must have found considerable difficulty in stating it in a manner satisfactory to themselves : a consideration, by the way, which, if it accounts for the flow progress which this doctrine made in the world, places in the more striking light, the genius of those men whose fagacity led them, under so great disadvantages, to approach to a conclusion fo just and philosophical in itself
* The great argument which the Nominalists employed against the existence of universals was: “ Entia non sunt multiplicanda
, and so opposite to the prevailing opinions of their age.
In the fourteenth century, this sect seems to have been almost completely extinct ; their doctrine being equally reprobated by the two great parties which then divided the schools, the followers of Duns Scotus and of Thomas Aquinas. These, although they differed in their manner of explaining the nature of universals, and opposed each other's opinions with much asperity, yet united in rejecting the doctrine of the Nominalikts, not only as absurd, but as leading to the most dangerous consequences. At last, William Occam, a native of England, and a scholar of Duns Scotus, revived the ancient controversy : and with equal ability and success vindicated the long-abandoned philosophy of Roscelinus. From this time the dispute was carried on with great warmth, in the universities of France, of Germany, and of England; more particularly in the two for. mer countries, where the fovereigns were led, by fome political views, to interest themselves deeply in the contest; and even to employ the civil power
in fupporting their favorite opinions. The emperor Lewis of Bavaria, in return for the assistance which, in his disputes with the Pope, * Occam had given to him by his writings, fided with the Nominalists. Lewis the Eleventh of France, on the other hand, attached himself to the Realists, and made their antagonists the objects of a cruel persecution.t
The protestant reformation, at length involved men of learning in discussions of a more interesting nature; bur even the zeal of theological controversy could hardly exceed that with which the Nomin. alifts and Realists had for sometime before maintain. ed their respective doctrines. “ Clamores primum " ad ravim," says an author who had himself been an eye-witness of these literary disputes) “ hinc im
probitas, fannæ, minæ, convitia, dum luctantur, et
uterque alterum tentat profternere : consumtis “ verbis venitur ad pugnos, ad veram luctam ex ficta “ et simulata. Quin etiam, quæ contingunt in pala“ ftra, illic non defunt, colaphi, alapæ, consputio, cal“ces, morsus, etiam quæ jam supra leges palæstræ,
fustes, ferrum, faucii multi, nonnunquam occisi.” That this account is not exaggerated, we liave the testimony of no less an author than Erasmus, who mentions it as a common occurrence : “ ad pallorem, usque ad convitia, ufque ad fputa,
nonnunquam et usque ad pugnos invicem digladiari, alios ut Nominales, alios ut Reales, loqui.”'S
“ Eos usque The dispute to which the foregoing observations relate, although for some time after the Reformation, interrupted by theological disquisitions, has been fince occasionally revived by different writers; and, fingular as it may appear, it has not yet been brought to a conclusion in which all parties are agreed. The names, indeed, of Nominalists and Realists exist no longer ; but the point in dispute between these two celebrated sects, coincides precisely with a question which has been agitated in our own times, and which has led to one of the moft beautiful speculations of modern philosophy.
* Occam, we are told, was accustomed to say to the Emperor : “ Tu me defendas gladio, et ego te defendam calamo.” BRUCKEK vol. iii p. 848.
+ MOSHEIM's Ecclesiastical History. | LUDOVICUS Vives.
The Nominalists procured the death of John Huss, who was a Realist; and in their letter to Lewis King of France, do not pretend to deny that he fell a victim the resentment of their sect. The Realists, on the other hand, obtained, in the year 1479, the condemoation of John de Wesalia, who was attached to the party
Of the advocates who have appeared for the doctrine of the Nominalists, since the revival of letters, the most distinguished are, Hobbes, Berkeley, and Hume. The first has, in various parts of his works, reprobated the hypothesis of the Realifts; and has ftated the opinions of their antagonists with that acuteness, simplicity, and precision, which distinguish all his writings. The second, considering (and in
of the Nominalists. These contending sects carried their fury so far as to charge each other with “ the sin against the Holy Ghost."
MOSHEIM's Ecclesiastical History. * “ The universality of one name to many things, hath been the cause that men think the things themselves are universal ; and
so seriously contend, that besides Peter and John, and all the rest 66 of the men that are, have been, or shall be, in the world, there is "yet something else, that we call Man, viz. Man in general; de“ceiving themselves, by taking the universal, or general appella6 tion, for the thing it signifieth : For if one should desire the “ painter to make him the picture of a man, which is as much as " to say, of a man in general ; he meaneth no more, but that the
painter should chuse what man he pleaseth to draw, which must “ needs be some of them that are, or have been, or may be ; none e of which are universal. But when he would have him to draw " the picture of the king, or any particular person, he limiteth the
painter to that one person he chuseth. It is plain, therefore, " that there is nothing universal but names ; which are therefore " called indefinite, because we limit them not ourselves, but laave are similar to them. As I look upon this to be one of the
my opinion, justly) the doctrines of the antients concerning universals, in support of which so much ingenuity had been employed by the Realists, as the great source of mystery and error in the abstract sciences, was at pains to overthrow it completely, by some very ingenious and original speculations of his own. Mr. Hume's* view of the subject, as he him. felf acknowledges, does not differ materially from that of Berkeley; whom, by the way, he seems to have regarded as the author of an opinion, of which he was only an expositor and defender; and which, since the days of Rofcelinus and Abelard, has been familiarly known in all the universities of Europe.f
" them to be applied by the hearer : whereas a singular name is
limited and restrained to one of the many things it signifieth ; as 6 when we say, this man, pointing to him, or giving him his pro" per name, or by some such other way.”
HOBBES's Tripos, chap. v. 90. *" A very material question has been started concerning ab
stract or general ideas : Whether they be general or particular “ in the mind's conception of them? A great philosopher has dis“puted the received opinion in this particular ; and has asserted, « that all general ideas are nothing but particular ones annexed to
certain term, which gives them a more extensive signification, " and makes them recal, upon occasion, other individuals, which
greatest and most valuable discoveries that have been made of “ late years in the republic of letters, I shall here endeavor to con“ firm it by some arguments, which, I hope, will put it beyond all “ doubt and controversy."
Treatise of Human Nature, book i. part i. $ 7. + Leibnitz, too, has declared himself a partisan of this sect, in a dissertation “ De Stilo Philosophico Marii Nizolii.” This Nizo lius published a book at Parma, in the year 1553, entitled, “De “ Veris principiis et vera Ratione Philosophandi ;” in which he opposed several of the doctrines of Aristotle, particularly his opin. ion concerning universals. An edition of this work, with a Preface and Notes, was published by Leibnitz at Franckfort, in the year 1070. The Preface and Notes are to be found in the fourth volume of his works, by Dutens. (Geneva, 1768.) I have inserted a short extract from the former, in Note (!) at the end of the volume,