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on what was generally understood to be the great object of inquiry ; I mean, on the mode of con munication between the mind and the material world : and, in truth, amounts only to a precise description of the fact, Itripped of all hypothesis, and stated in such a manner as to give us a distinct view of the insurmountable limits which nature has in this inftance prescribed to our curiosity. The fame obfer. vation may be made, on the reaonings of this profound and original author, with respect to some metaphysical questions that had been Itarted on the subject of vision ; in particular, concerning the cause of our seeing objects single with two eyes, and our seeing objects erect, by nieans of inverted images on the letina.
If we were to examine, in like manner, the present state of morals, of jurisprudence, of politics, and of philosophical criticism; I believe, we thould find, that the principal circumstance which retards their progress, is the vague and indistinct idea, which those who apply to the study of them have formed to themselves of the objects of their researches. Were these objects once clearly defined, and the proper plan of inquiry for attaining them illustrated by a few unexceptionable models, writers of inferior genius would be enabled to employ their industry to much more advantage ; and would be prevented from adding to that rubbish, which, in consequence of the ill-directed ingenuity of our predecessors, obstructs our progress in the pursuit of truth.
As a philosophical system of logic would afsift us in our particular scientific investigations, by keeping steadily in our view the attainable objects of human curiosity; so, by exhibiting to us the relation in which they all stand to each other, and the relation which they all bear to what ought to be their com mon aim, the advancement of human happiness, it would have a tendency to confine industry and genius to inquiries which are of real practical utility; and would communicate a dignity to the inost subordinate pursuits, which are in any respect fubfervient to so important a purpose. When our views are limited to one particular science, to which we have been led to devote ourselves by taste or by ac. cident, the course of our studies resembles the progrefs of a traveller through an unknown country; whose wanderings, from place to place, are determined merely by the impulse of occasional curiosity; and whose opportunities of information must necefsarily be limited to the objects which accidentally present themselves to his notice. It is the philosophy of the mind alone, which, by furnishing us with a general map of the field of human knowledge, can enable us to proceed with steadiness, and in an use. ful direction; and while it gratifies our curiosity, and animates our exertions, by exhibiting to us all the various bearings of our journey, can conduct us to those eminences from whence the eye may wander over the vast and unexplored regions of science. Lord Bacon was the first person who took this comprehensive view of the different departments of stu. dy; and who pointed out, to all the classes of literary men, the great end to which their labors should conspire ; the multiplication of the sources of human enjoyment, and the extension of man's dominion over nature. Had this object been kept steadily in view by his followers, their discoveries, numerous and important as they have been, would have ad. vanced with still greater rapidity, and would have had a much more extensive influence on the practical arts of life. *
* Omnium autem gravissimus error in deviatione ab ultimo doc. trinarum fine consistit. Appetunt enim homines scientiam, alii ex insita curiositate et irrequieta ; alii animi causa et delectationis, alii existimationis gratia : alii contentionis ergo, atque ut in disserendo superiores sint . plerique propter Incrum et victum; paucissi
From such a system of logic, too, important asliftance might be expected, for reforming the established plan of public or academical education. It is melancholy to reflect on the manner in which this is carried on, in moft, perhaps, I might say, in all the countries of Europe ; and that in an age of comparative light and liberality, the intellectual and moral characters of youth should continue to be formed on a plan devised by men, who were not only strangers to the business of the world, but who felt themselves interested in opposing the progress of useful knowledge.
For accomplishing a reformation in the plan of academical study, on rational and systematical principles, it is necessary, in the first place, to consider the relation in which the different branches of literature, and the different arts and sciences, stand to each other, and to the practical purposes of life: and secondly to consider them in relation to the human mind, in order to determine the arrangement, best fitted for unfolding and maturing its faculties. Many valuable hints towards such
a work may be collected from Lord Bacon's writings.
II. Another very important branch of a rational fystem of logic (as I had occasion already to observe) ought to be ; to lay down the rules of investigation which it is proper to follow in the different sciences. In all of these, the faculties of the understanding are the instruments with which we operate; and without a previous knowledge of their nature, it is impossible to employ them to the best advantage. In every exercise of our reasoning and of our inventive powers, there are general laws which regulate the progress of the mind; and when once these laws are ascertained, they enable us to speculate and to invent, for the future, with more system, and with a greater certainty of success. In the mechanical arts, it is well known, how much time and ingenuity are misapplied, by those who acquire their practical skill, by their own trials, undirected by the precepts or example of others. What we call the rules of an art, are merely a collection of general observations, fuggested by long experience, with respect to the most compendious and effectual means of performing every different step of the processes which the art involves. In consequence of fuch rules, the artift is enabled to command the fame success in all his operations, for which the unskilled workman mult trust to a happy combination of accidental circumstances; the misapplications, too, of the labor of one race are saved to the next; and the acquisition of practical address is facilitated, by confining its exertion to one direction. The analogy is perfect, in those processes which are purely intellectual ; and to regulate which, is the great object of logic. In the case of individuals, who have no other guide to di. rect them in their inquiries than their own natural sagacity, much time and ingenuity muft inevitably be thrown away, in every exertion of the inventive powers. In proportion, however, to the degree of their experience and observation, the number of these milapplications will diminish ; and the power of invention will be enabled to proceed with more certainty and steadiness to its object. The misfortune is, that as the aids which the understanding derives from experience, are seldom recorded in wri. ting, or even described in words, every succeeding inquirer finds himself, at the commencement of his philosophical pursuits, obliged to struggle with the same disadvantages which had retarded the progress of his predecessors. If the more important practice al rules, which habits of investigation suggest to individuals, were diligently preserved, each generation would be placed in circumstances more favorable to invention than the preceding; and the progress of knowledge, instead of cramping original genius, would affist and direct its exertions. In the infancy of literature, indeed, its range may be more unbounded, and its accidental excursions may excite more aftonishment, than in a cultivated and enlight. ened age ; but it is only in such an age, that inven. tive genius can be trained by rules founded on the experience of our predecessors, in such a manner as to insure the gradual and regular improvement of science. So just is the remark of Lord Bacon : « Certo fciant homines, artes inveniendi solidas et “ veras adolescere et incrementa sumere cum ipfis "inventis.”
mi, ut donum rationis, divinitus datum, in usus humani generis impendant.
-Hoc enim illud est, quod revera doctrinam atque artes condecoraret, et attolleret, si contemplatio, et actio, arctiore quam dhuc vinculo copularentur. De Aug. Scient. lib. i.
The analogy between the mechanical arts, and the operations of scientific invention, might perhaps be carried further. In the former, we know how much the natural powers of man have been assisted, by the use of tools and instruments. Is it not poffible to devise, in like manner, certain aids to our intellectual faculties?
That such a query is not altogether chimerical, appears from the wonderful effects of algebra (which is precisely such an instrument of thought, as I have been now alluding to) in facilitating the inquiries of modern mathematicians. Whether it might not be pos. sible to realise a project which Leibnitz has somewhere mentioned, of introducing a similar contrivance into other branches of knowledge, I fhall not take upon me to determine; but that this idea has at least fome plausibility, must, I think, be evident to those who have reflected on the nature of the general terms which abound more or less in every cultivated language; and which may be considered as one species of instrumental aid, which art has discovered to our intellectual powers. From the observations which I