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trust, meet with no advocates
In his preface the author asserts, those who feel the importance of di
“ that the invariableness of antecevine truth, and who wish to guard dence and consequence, which is rethe ministerial office against profa presented as only the sign of causanation by heretical men.
tion, is itself the only essential cirthis is the only application of the
cumstance of causation;" and," that Bible as the sole test of orthodoxy,
in the sequences of events, we are consistent with the objection that
not merely ignorant of any thing inhuman creeds are unlawful. To ap
termediate, but have in truth no reaply it in any other way is a practical son to suppose it as really existing, abandonment of the objection. We
or, if any thing intermediate exist, are aware that those who have no
no reason to consider it but as itself written creed may profess to regard another physical antecedent of the the Bible as their test of orthodoxy,
consequent which we knew before.” but assuredly, if they pay any re
“ This simple theory" he thinks will gard to the purity of the church in
render the “great doctrines of reliadmitting persons into the ministe gion at once more intelligible and rial office, they do the very thing
more sublime," "by destroying that for which they may feel disposed
supposed connecting link between to censure others; they use their
the antecedent will of the Deity and sense of the Bible, that is, their
the consequent rise of the world.”
To attribute to God creed, as a test by which to try the
work of faith of candidates. They have no
creation, any act of efficiency would, written creed; but they have a
of course, if this theory is true, be creed, and to this creed they have
improper; and we must cease from recourse in order to detect such er
saying, if we would be philosophers
of Dr. Brown's cast, that the Deity rors as they deem sufficient to ex
does what he wills, for he merely clude a person from the ministerial office.
wills without producing existencies. The Confession of Faith not only
In this treatise, the author endea
vours, “in the first place, to fix, demands the attention of ministers
what it is which truly constitutes of the gospel and other officers of
the relation of cause and effect;min our church, to whom it is peculiarly
the second place, to examine the important, but has a claim upon the
sources of various illusions, which regard of all private Christians who
have led philosophers to consider it belong to the Presbyterian church.
as something more mysterious ;-and It is worthy of their careful and di
in the third place, to ascertain the ligent study, because it presents a
circumstances, in which the belief of compendious, accurate and lucid
this relation arises in the mind." He exhibition of the great doctrines of thinks it "
necessary to add, in a divine revelation. It ought to be fourth part, some remarks on the found in the library of every family, errors of” Mr. Hume's “doctrine," and in the hands of every indivi
concerning cause and effect, “and on dual.
the errors of those who have ascribed to him a very different doctrine,"
from the one which Dr. Brown judges Inquiry into the Relation of Cause
he has maintained. This work might and Effect. By Thomas Brown, M. D. F.R. 8. Edin. &c. Profes
very soon have been brought to a
close, for the author does little more sor of Moral Philosophy in the than assert in a great variety of University of Edinburgh. Third
modes, that invariable antecedence Edition. "Edinburgh, 1818. pp.
and sequence is that thing, and that 569. 8vo.
alone, which constitutes the relation We shall endeavour to present a of cause and effect; so that a cause fair analysis of this celebrated work. means nothing but an invariable an
tecedent, and an effect nothing but tion of spirit he means an inherent an invariable sequence. He might faculty for any one mental operahave said, that an old milk cart and tion, then we deny that it subsists the horse which has invariably drawn only by the succession of the operait into the city twice a day, for twen tions proper to that faculty; and let ty years, explained his meaning. him prove the affirmative who can. The horse should have been his One remark we will here venture, cause of the cart, and the cart his that a person who fills 569 octavo effect of the horse.
pages with matter which might easi. But we must take a wide range, ly be contained in five, ought to affix for “the philosophy, which regards some definite meaning to his own phenomena, as they are successive in terms, before he undertakes to write a certain order, is the philosophy of another volume on the subject of every thing that exists in the uni causation and mental philosophy. verse.” p. 9. We readily admit, that From observing the phenomena of the doctrine of cause and effect is antecedents and sequences Dr. B.procontinually exemplified throughout ceeds to show, that the mind judges the universe. Wherever a change concerning the past and future, that takes place, whether in mind or mat whenever certain similar antecedents ter, there is an effect; and we never have existed, or shall exist, certain observe an effect, or even conceive similar sequences have existed, or of it, without constitutionally judg will follow them. Hence the mind ing, that it must have had a cause. “converts the passing sequences of
“At every moment of our con phenomena into signs of future corsciousness, some sensation, or thought responding sequences. In whatever or emotion, is beginning in the mind, inanner it may arise, and whatever or ceasing, or growing more or less circumstances may or may not be intense; and if the bodily functions necessary for giving birth to it, the of life continue only while the parti- belief itself is a fact in the history of cles of the frame are quitting one the mind, which it is impossible to place to exist in another, the func deny, and a fact as universal as the tions of spirit, which animates it, life which depends on it.” p. 14. It may be said as truly to subsist only is a fact in mental history, that all by the succession of feeling after men constitutionally judge, that sifeeling.” p. 10. Every mental ope milar causes will, under similar cirration is an effect, no doubt, but cumstances, produce similar effects. every mental operation is not a feel This is an old, and a common axiom ing. The particles of our bodily in metaphysics, which required not frames are continually changing, it a cart-load of verbiage about it, to must be admitted, and the various bury it up, under the pretence of functions of animal life, such as making it obvious. breathing, and the circulation of the It is, however, believed by every blood, continue. The functions of man who has not argued himself out spirit also subsist, while there is in of common sense, not only that certhe mind a succession of operations; tain objects which have hitherto been but how the functions of spirit sub accompanied by certain consequents, sist only by the succession of feel were the antecedents of those conseings, or indeed of mental operations quents, but the causes of their existin general,
we know not; unless by ence: and mankind will continue to function Dr. B. means merely a believe, even if they should all take mode of spiritual action, and then, to the trouble to read Dr. Brown's work be sure, a mode of mental operation on the Relation of Cause and Effect, subsists only by a succession of simi that something more than immediate lar operations; for that mode of ac and invariable antecedency of one tion would cease, if no act of the thing to another is requisite to conkind should succeed. If by a func- stitute the antecedent the cause of
the consequent. One interstice be admits, may be said to be, that which tween the coggs of the same wheel immediately precedes any change, is invariably the antecedent to one and which, existing at any time in of the coggs, and the consequent to similar circumstances, has been althe other; but it is neither the effect ways, and will be always, immediof its immediate antecedent, nor the ately followed by a similar change. cause of its immediate consequent. Priority in [to] the sequence ob
Yet we are told, “it is this mere served, and invariableness of antecerelation of uniform antecedence, so dence in the past and future seimportant and so universally believed,
quences supposed, are the elements which
appears to me to constitute all and the only elements, combined in that can be philosophically meant, in the notion of a cause.” Of course the words power or causation, to priority in any immediate invariawhatever objects, material or spiri- ble antecedent is enough to constitual, the words may be applied." p. 15. tute it a cause of the next sequent,
To us it appears otherwise; for whether it has any efficiency in prothe mere existence of God was im ducing it or not.
« The words promediately antecedent to the exist perty and quality admit of exactly ence of the first creature, and yet the same definition ; expressing only the mere existence of God was not a certain relation of invariable antethe cause or the existence of the cedence and consequence, in changes, first creature. Our author tells us that take place, on the presence of the mere will of God was the imme the substance to which they are asdiate antecedent to the existence of cribed. They are stricly synonymous the first creature. Well then, the with power." p. 17, 18. Hence, acmere existence of God always was cording to our author, the quality of the immediate antecedent to the will redness in the morocco cover of my of God; and yet the mere existence Bible, is the power of the perception of God is not the cause of that will. of red colour.
We must entreat the patience of All will agree, that a cause must our readers, that our author may exist before any effect can be prohave a fair hearing. “We give the duced by it; so that a cause is alname of cause to the object which we ways antecedent to its effect. If, believe to be the invariable antece moreover, any change occurs, there dent of a particular change; we give must have been some cause of that the name effect, reciprocally to that change, prior to the fact of the invariable consequent; and the rela change. But a change may take tion itself, when considered abstract place, without ever being preceded ly, we denominate power in the ob or followed by a similar change: ject that is the invariable antece must this change be without cause, dent.” p. 16. The letter A has al for the want of invariablenes of anways been the immediate antece tecedence in the past and future?” dent to B in the English alphabet. Iron once was made to swim: the Is it therefore the cause of B? Is B fact occurred but once, and probably the effect of A? No; it will be an never will occur again: did it swim swered; but the author now says, without a cause? Yet there was no that every change is the effect of that invariableness of antecedence here. which was immediately antecedent The same effect, it is true, would to it; but that the causation of the arise from a similar exertion of aleffect means nothing but the invaria
mighty energy ble priority of its antecedent. “Pow By property we understand any er is only a shorter synonymous ex thing which is said to belong to pression of invariableness of ante any subject of conception and discedence." p. 467.
course, whether it be an inherent " A cause," he says, “in the fullest or merely incidental attribute of that definition which it philosophically ) subject; and by quality we denote
some inherent characteristic of any Now if the powers of substances subject. Property includes quali are only the substances themselves, ty; but quality is only a species we may banish the word power, and of property. These may exist, use some specific substance in its and be conceived of as existing, in place, in every instance. If we an inactive state. To make them should hear one say for instance, synonymous with power, therefore,
“Dr. Brown has logical powers," we conceive to be a gross abuse of we might correct him, and require language. We might as well say, him to say, “ Dr. Brown has logithat all words denote nothing more cal substances :" or if we should than antecedent and consequent; || hear, that Dr. B." has great powers and therefore banish the rest from for writing," we might conclude the our vocabulary. Indeed our subse correct meaning to be, that Dr. B. quent extracts will evince how fond has great substances for writing; the doctor must be of simplifying such for instance, as a great quill, human language, for he says,
great sheets of paper, and a great “ The powers of substances are quantity of ink. According to the only the substances themselves.” p. same theory, the attraction of gravi142. "The powers, properties, or tation, and of cohesion, together with qualities of a substance, are not to all magnetic, and galvanic influences, be regarded, then, as any thing su and all chemical affinities, must be peradded to the substance, or dis substances. Pray what kind of subtinct from it.” p. 20. “ The sub stances must they be? Has gravitastances that exist in nature, are tion thought, or extension, or any of surely every thing that has a real the attributes of mind, or of matter? existence in nature; for they com Until we can find some of the attriprehend the Omnipotent himself, and butes of substances in the attraction all his living and inanimate crea of gravitation, we shall be content to tures." p. 24. But modes, forms, con call it a property of material subceptions and imaginations exist, even stances, and not a distinct substance in Dr. Brown's head: and are they itself. substances ? If they are, he must have His doctrine of cause and effect, a thick head. “There are not sub Dr. B. thinks equally applicable, "to stances, therefore, and also powers phenomena of every class;" p. 34, and qualities, but substances alone.” and power, when applied to mental p. 27. Of course, every power of operations, or to bodily motions, the doctor's mind, is a substance. means nothing more, he says, than “The priority of relation, which con the invariableness of antecedence stitutes power," he says, “must be and sequence in those phenomena an invariable priority, and not mere which are called causes and effects. priority.” p. 31. There must be, he “When we voluntarily move our tells us, “a mutual connexion that is || hand, the antecedent is our will or invariable,” between an antecedent desire to move it; and we have perand a sequent, to constitute the first fect foreknowledge, that the motion ą power, a cause, a quality, and the is immediately to take place.” p. 47. last an effect. p. 32. "Power is this The desire to move the hand is, he uniform relation and nothing more.” says, the cause or antecedent, and the “ It is only from a confusion of ca motion of the hand the effect, or the sual with uniform antecedence, that
sequence. One event, and another power can be conceived to be some. following event, are here the phenothing different from that invariable mena; and if we say, as he does, relation; for it is impossible to form that one is the cause of the other, or any conception of it whatever, ex
the power which produces the secept merely as that which has been, cond event, we ought to mean noand is and will be constantly follow- thing more than to predicate unifored by a certain change." p. 39. mity of relation between these two
events. “When I say that I have ed, to the voluntary exertion to promentally the power of moving my duce it, is owing to the agent's poshand, I mean nothing more, than sessing and exerting a faculty of that when my body is in a sound efficiency in the case. state, and no foreign force is imposed sitions we judge to be true, and to on me, the motion of my hand will communicate some additional inforalways follow
my desire to move it. mation, to all which is contained in I speak of a certain state of the the statement of an invariable relamind, as invariably antecedent, and tion of antecedency and sequency in a certain state of the body, as inva events. riably consequent. If power be more To maintain his favourite theory, than this invariableness, let the test Dr. B. denies the distinction, which be repeated which I used in a former is commonly admitted, and which to case;" (p. 49.) that is, let a true pro us seems perfectly natural and just, position be stated concerning the between a desire, and an act of the power of moving the hand, which will, or a volition. He admits, howcontains some additional informa ever, that there is a distinction, and tion to that which is given, when it hence he calls those desires, which is said, there is an invariable rela are immediately followed by some tion of antecedency and sequency be voluntary operation, "brief feelings," tween the desire to move the hand, in opposition to desires, of longer and the actual motion of the hand. continuance, which are not succeedp. 36. “When a proposition is true, ed by any such operations. and yet communicates no additional With this writer desires, voliinformation, it must be of exactly the tions, wishes, choice, conceptions, nosame import, as some other proposi- tions, and remembrance, are all feeltion, formerly understood and admit ings, and feelings differing only in ted.” “This test of identity appears the time of their continuance; and to me to be a most accurate one." in the circumstances of their sequen
desire to move our hand, cies. p. 54, 67, 343. It is no wonder yet judge that it is not best to do it; that he should make power, causaand so not will to do it; for the will tion, energy, and efficiency, mean nooften is (and it would be well were thing more than the invariable relait always) guided by judgment, or tion of antecedency and sequency conscience, in direct opposition to in any two given events. “ The powerful desires. We could have
theory of power, then," he concludes, agreed with our author, had he writ “or causation, (p. 81.), seems to reten, " When I
that I have men ceive no additional light from a contally the power of moving my hand, sideration of mental energy, as exI mean nothing more, than that when hibited in the bodily movements that my body is in a sound state, and no depend upon the will; for we find, foreign force is imposed on me, the as before, only a sequence of two motion of my hand will always fol phenomena, that are believed to be, low my
exertion to move it; and my in the same circumstances, uniexertion to move it, will always, un formly antecedent and consequent. der such circumstances, follow my But the feelings of the mind are folwill to move it; and my will to lowed, not by bodily movements move it will always follow the pre only; they are followed, also, by sentation of some sufficient induce other feelings of the mind. We have ment.” We can speedily try the antecedents and consequents, where doctor's test, thus: There is an in the whole train is mental;" but still variable relation of antecedency and he concludes, that the causation of sequency between the exertion of a each and every one of these "feelvoluntary agent to move his hand, ings,” by which he must mean every and the actual motion of the hand: mental operation, is only the uniform and, this sequency of the event will relation of some antecedent to it as