Obrazy na stronie

frequently contradistinguished from the understanding and the judgment. If I could succeed in fully explaining the sense in which the word reason is employed by me, and in satisfying the reader's mind concerning the grounds and importance of the distinction, I should feel little or no apprehension concerning the intelligibility of these essays from first to last. The following section is in part founded on this distinction: the which remaining obscure, all else will be so as a system, however clear the component paragraphs may be, taken separately. In the appendix* to my first Lay Sermon, I have, indeed, treated the question at considerable length, but chiefly in relation to the heights of theology and metaphysics. In the next number I attempt to explain myself more popularly, and trust that with no great expenditure of attention the reader will satisfy his mind, that our remote ancestors spoke as men acquainted with the constituent parts of their own moral and intellectual being, when they described one man as being out of his senses,' another as out of his wits,' orderanged in his understanding,' and a third as having lost his reason.' Observe, the understanding may be deranged, weakened, or perverted; but the reason is either lost or not lost, that is, wholly present or wholly absent.



* The third essay, erroneously lettered B. ED.

[ocr errors]


Man may rather be defined a religious than a rational creature, in regard that in other creatures there may be something of reason, but there is nothing of religion.



Ir the reader will substitute the word 'understanding,' for reason,' and the word 'reason' for 'religion,' Harrington has here completely expressed the truth for which I am contending. Man may rather be defined a rational than an intelligent creature, in regard that in other creatures there may be something of understanding, but there is nothing of reason. But that this was Harrington's meaning is evident. Otherwise, instead of comparing two faculties with each other, he would contrast a faculty with one of its own objects, which would involve the same absurdity as if he had said, that man might rather be defined an astronomical than a seeing animal, because other animals possessed the sense of sight, but were incapable of beholding the satellites of Saturn, or the nebula of fixed stars. If further confirmation be necessary, it may be supplied by the following reflections, the leading thought of which I remember to have read in the works of a

continental philosopher. It should seem easy to give the definite distinction of the reason from the understanding, because we constantly imply it when we speak of the difference between ourselves and the brute creation. No one, except as a figure of speech, ever speaks of an animal reason; but that many animals possess a share of understanding, perfectly distinguishable from mere instinct, we all allow. Few persons have a favorite dog without making instances of its intelligence an occasional topic of conversation. They call for our admiration of the individual animal, and not with exclusive reference to the wisdom in nature, as in the case of the σropyn,


* I have this moment looked over a translation of Blumenbach's Physiology by Dr. Elliotson, which forms a glaring exception, p. 45. I do not know Dr. Elliotson, but I do know Professor Blumenbach, and was an assiduous attendant on the lectures, of which this classical work was the textbook and I know that that good and great man would start back with surprise and indignation at the gross materialism mortised on to his work: the more so because during the whole period, in which the identification of man with the brute in kind was the fashion of naturalists, Blumenbach remained ardent and instant in controverting the opinion, and exposing its fallacy and falsehood, both as a man of sense and as a naturalist. I may truly say, that it was uppermost in his heart and foremost in his speech. Therefore, and from no hostile feeling to Dr. Elliotson, (whom I hear spoken of with great regard and respect, and to whom I my. self give credit for his manly openness in the avowal of his opinions,) I have felt the present animadversion a duty of justice as well as gratitude. April 8, 1817.


or maternal instinct of beasts; or of the hexangular cells of the bees, and the wonderful coincidence of this form with the geometrical demonstration of the largest possible number of rooms in a given space. Likewise, we distinguish various degrees of understanding there, and even discover from inductions supplied by the zoologists, that the understanding appears, as a general rule, in an inverse proportion to the instinct. We hear little or nothing of the instincts of the 'half-reasoning elephant,' and as little of the understanding of caterpillars and butterflies.* But reason is wholly denied, equally to the highest as to the lowest of the brutes; otherwise it must be wholly attributed to them, and with it therefore selfconsciousness, and personality, or moral being.

I should have no objection to define reason with Jacobi, and with his friend Hemsterhuis, as an organ bearing the same relation to spiritual objects, the universal, the eternal, and the neces-sary, as the eye bears to material and contingent phænomena. But then it must be added, that it is an organ identical with its appropriate objects Thus, God, the soul, eternal truth, &c. are the objects of reason; but they are themselves reason.

*Note, that though 'reasoning' does not in our language, in the lax use of words natural in conversation or popular writings, imply scientific conclusion, yet the phrase 'half-reasoning' is evidently used by Pope as a poetic hyperbole.

We name God the Supreme Reason; and Milton


-whence the soul

Reason receives, and reason is her being.*

Whatever is conscious self-knowledge is reason; and in this sense it may be safely defined the organ of the supersensuous; even as the under- ' standing wherever it does not possess or use the reason, as its inward eye, may be defined the conception of the sensuous, or the faculty by which we generalize and arrange the phænomena of perception; that faculty, the functions of which contain the rules and constitute the possibility of out-‚ ward experience. In short, the understanding supposes something that is understood. This may be merely its own acts or forms, that is, formal logic; but real objects, the materials of substantial knowledge, must be furnished, I might safely say revealed, to it by organs of sense. The understanding of the higher brutes has only organs of outward sense, and consequently material objects only; but man's understanding has likewise an organ of inward sense, and therefore the power of acquainting itself within visible realities or spiritual objects. This organ is his reason.

Again, the understanding and experience may exist without reason. But reason cannot exist

[ocr errors]

* P. L. v. 486.-Ed.

+ Of this no one would feel inclined to doubt, who had seen the poodle dog, whom the celebrated BLUMENBACH,—



« PoprzedniaDalej »