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as unwillingly be supposed to adopt the extravagant opinions, in the other extreme, of Dr. Parr and Mr. Coleridge. These two gentlemen, who privately hated Paley, and, perhaps, traduced him, have hung like bees over one particular paragraph in his Evidences, as though it were a flower transplanted from Hymettus. Dr. Parr pronounced it the finest sentence in the English language. It is a period (that is, a cluster of sentences) moderately well, but not too well constructed, as the German nurses are accustomed to say. Its felicity depends on a trick easily imitated on a balance happily placed (namely, "in which the wisest of mankind would rejoice to find an answer to their doubts, and rest to their inquiries"). As a bravura, or tour de force, in the dazzling fence of rhetoric, it is surpassed by many hundreds of passages which might be produced from rhetoricians; or, to confine myself to Paley's contemporaries, it is very far surpassed by a particular passage in Burke's letter upon the Duke of Bedford's base attack upon him in the House of Lords; which passage I shall elsewhere produce, because I happen to know, on the authority of Burke's executors, that Burke himself considered it the finest period which he had ever written. At present, I will only make one remark, namely, that it is always injudicious, in the highest degree, to cite for admiration that which is not a representative specimen of the author's manner. In reading Lucian, I once stumbled on a passage of German pathos, and of German effect. Would it have been wise, or would it have been intellectually just, to quote this as the text of an eulogium on Lucian? What false criticism it would have suggested
to every reader! what false anticipations! To quote a formal and periodic pile of sentences, was to give the feeling that Paley was what the regular rhetorical artists designate as a periodic writer, when, in fact, no one conceivable character of style more pointedly contradicted the true description of his merits.
But, leaving the style of Paley, I must confess that I agree with Mr. Bulwer (England and the English) in thinking it shocking and almost damnatory to an English university, the great well-heads of creeds, moral and evangelical, that authors such in respect of doctrine as Paley and Locke should hold that high and influential station as teachers, or rather oracles of truth, which has been conceded to them. As to Locke, I, when a boy, had made a discovery of one blunder full of laughter and of fun, which, had it been published and explained in Locke's lifetime, would have tainted his whole philosophy with suspicion. It relates to the Aristotelian doctrine of syllogism, which Locke undertook to ridicule. Now, a flaw, a hideous flaw, in the soi-disant detecter of flaws, a ridicule in the exposer of the ridiculous — that is fatal; and I am surprised that Lee, who wrote a folio against Locke in his lifetime, and other examiners, should have failed in detecting this. I shall expose it elsewhere; and, perhaps, one or two other exposures of the same kind will give an impetus to the descent of this falling philosophy. With respect to Paley, and the naked prudentialism of his system, it is true that in a longish note Paley disclaims that consequence. But to this we may reply, with Cicero, Non quæro quid neget Epicurus, sed quid con
gruenter neget. Meantime, waiving all this as too notorious, and too frequently denounced, I wish to recur to this trite subject, by way of stating an objection made to the Paleyan morality in my seventeenth year, and which I have never since seen reason to withdraw. It is this-I affirm that the whole work, from first to last, proceeds upon that sort of error which the logicians call ignoratio elenchi, that is, ignorance of the very question concerned - of the point at issue. For, mark, in the very vestibule of ethics, two questions arise-two different and disconnected questions, A and B; and Paley has answered the wrong one. Thinking that he was answering A, and meaning to answer A, he has, in fact, answered B. One question arises thus: Justice is a virtue; temperance is a virtue; and so forth. Now, what is the common principle which ranks these several species under the same genus? What, in the language of logicians, is the common differential principle which determines these various aspects of moral obligation to a common genius? Another question, and a more interesting question to men in general, is this, - What is the motive to virtue? By what impulse, law, or motive, am I impelled to be virtuous rather than vicious? Whence is the motive derived which should impel me to one line of conduct in preference to the other? This, which is a practical question, and, therefore, more interesting than the other, which is a pure question of speculation, was that which Paley believed himself to be answering. And his answer was, That utility, a perception of the resulting benefit, was the true determining motive. Meantime, it was ob
jected that often the most obvious results from a virtuous action were far otherwise than beneficial. Upon which, Paley, in the long note referred to above, distinguished thus: That whereas actions have many results, some proximate, some remote, just as a stone thrown into the water produces many concentric circles, be it known that he, Dr. Paley, in what he says of utility, contemplates only the final result, the very outermost circle; inasmuch as he acknowledges a possibility that the first, second, third, including the penultimate circle, may all happen to clash with utility; but then, says he, the outermost circle of all will never fail to coincide with the absolute maximum of utility. Hence, in the first place, it appears that you cannot apply this test of utility in a practical sense; you cannot say, This is useful, ergo, it is virtuous; but, in the inverse order, you must say, This is virtuous, ergo, it is useful. You do not rely on its usefulness to satisfy yourself of its being virtuous; but, on the contrary, you rely on its virtuousness, previously ascertained, in order to satisfy yourself of its usefulness. And thus the whole practical value of this test disappears, though in that view it was first introduced; and a vicious circle arises in the argument; as you must have ascertained the virtuousness of an act, in order to apply the test of its being virtuous. But, secondly, it now comes out that Paley was answering a very different question from that which he supposed himself answering. Not any practical question as to the motive or impelling force in being virtuous, rather than vicious, that is, to the sanctions of virtue, but a purely speculative question, as to the issue of
virtue, or the common vinculum amongst the several modes or species of virtue (justice, temperance, etc.) — this was the real question which he was answering. I have often remarked that the largest and most subtle source of error in philosophic speculations has been the confounding of the two great principles so much insisted on by the Leibnitzians, namely, the ratio cognoscendi and the ratio essendi. Paley believed himself to be assigning—it was his full purpose to assign-the ratio cognoscendi; but, instead of that, unconsciously and surreptitiously, he has actually assigned the ratio essendi; and, after all, a false and imaginary ratio essendi.