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DISSERTATION,

EXHIBITING A GENERAL VIEW OF THE

PROGRESS OF METAPHYSICAL, ETHICAL,

AND

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY,

SINCE THE REVIVAL OF LETTERS IN EUROPE.

PART I.

PREFACE,

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

VOL. VI.

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