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EXHIBITING A GENERAL VIEW OF THE
PROGRESS OF METAPHYSICAL, ETHICAL,
SINCE THE REVIVAL OF LETTERS IN EUROPE.
CONTAINING SOME CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE DISCOURSE PREFIXED TO
THE FRENCH ENCYCLOPE'DIE.
When I ventured to undertake the task of contributing a Preliminary Dissertation to these Supplemental Volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica, my original intention was, after the example of D'Alembert, to have begun with a general survey of the various departments of human knowledge. The outline of such a survey, sketched by the comprehensive genius of Bacon, together with the corrections and improvements suggested by his illustrious disciple, would, I thought, have rendered it comparatively easy to adapt their intellectual map to the present advanced state of the sciences; while the unrivalled authority which their united work has long maintained in the republic of letters, would, I flattered myself, have softened those criticisms which might be expected to be incurred by any similar attempt of a more modern hand. On a closer examination, however, of their labors, I found myself under the necessity of abandoning this design. Doubts immediately occurred to me with respect to the justness of their logical views, and soon terminated in a conviction, that these views are radically and essentially erroneous. Instead, therefore, of endeavouring to give additional currency to speculations which I conceived to be fundamentally unsound, I resolved to avail myself of the present opportunity to point out their most important defects ;-defects which, I am nevertheless very ready to acknowledge, it is much more easy to remark than to supply. The critical strictures which, in the course of this discussion, I shall have occasion to offer on my predecessors, will, at the same time, account for my forbearing to substitute a new map