Billeder på siden

one more particularly dwelt upon by Locke and the other by Kant; and never was M. Cousin's catholic eclecticism more reasonably resorted to. For example, he shows that in the evolution of the idea of pure space, the idea of body, obtained by the senses, is a necessary condition, since without sensation, we should not, according to our present constitution, have any idea of space at all; but he also shows, on the other hand, that the very instant in which we gain from sensation the idea of body as extended, the correlative conception of space as a necessary condition of the existence of body is also obtained; so that as the idea of space now presents itself, we are compelled, by the very constitution of our laws of thought, to regard it as the anterior condition of any conception of the existence of body, though it be true that we should not without sensation have had any notion of body at all, nor therefore of space. The one he calls the 'logical' condition of the conception of space; and the other the 'chronological' condition of the same notion, as dependent, in point of time, on the prior sensations by which the existence of body is notified to us. Nothing can be clearer than M. Cousin's frequent statement of these two conditions in the actual formation of many of our fundamental notions; nor any thing more beautiful than his illustrations of the mode in which, in fact, the representations of Locke and Kant may be reconciled, but then since they can be thus reconciled, we contend that the due recollection of this should have given the key to many of the alleged contradictions which M. Cousin charges upon Locke.

If M. Cousin had merely said that Locke had been so intent on illustrating the one aspect of the subject that he had given very disproportionate attention to.

the other; that the origin of all our ideas in sensational conditions had been unduly insisted upon, and that the ratio of the other element, though admitted, was not adequately estimated, we could have heartily gone with him. But in his resolute effort to make Locke the responsible head of the sensational schools, M. Cousin has gone far beyond this; and in many cases done him grievous injustice. We shall presently give examples in the interpretation of Locke's notions of space, duration, substance, and power. Somebody said of Bentley, that he was such a sagacious critic that the text of Horace was not corrupt enough for him.' The reader of M. Cousin might almost be tempted to think that the critic thought the same of Locke. We hope we shall not be misunderstood, however; we really think M. Cousin's 'Lectures on Locke' of very great merit: they abound in specimens of really very refined analysis, and admirable clearness of expression. The parts of the lectures on John Locke which are the best, are those (and they are many) which are not on John Locke-if we may thus paradoxically express it. But before saying

[ocr errors]

more of M. Cousin's lectures, we shall resume the question of the fundamental principles of Locke's philosophy, and just bring into one view the several indications which by fair implication corroborate the interpretation already put on the passages we have cited from his essay, and which, in our judgment, absolve him from any charge of patronising the Hartleys or Condillacs of a subsequent period.

1. The admissions of Locke even in his celebrated First Book, in which he is combating the supposed 'innate ideas' of nobody knows exactly who, (for probably no one since the world began ever literally held the doctrines he refutes,) are in fact enough; his

very admission of the possession of such and such a constitution of the human faculties, by which it becomes possessed of the maxims which he denies to be innate (rightly enough in his sense,) and by which it comes to apprehend the very notions which are the subjects of dispute, and not other or different ones, does virtually decide the question. His distinct appeal to 'common sense,' in the very same book, yet more formally shows, as Sir W. Hamilton observes, that if he ever intended to contend for the extreme view so often attributed to him, he abandons even while he states it.*

2. Similarly, Locke's constant and expressly declared distinction between necessary and contingent truth ought to decide in behalf of the more favourable interpretation of him; for to what else than an internal source of thought can any who do admit our possession of necessary truths (those who deny any such truths may take another course) attribute their origination? Such notions, on the hypothesis that there are such in the mind, must evidently be the product of the mind's own constitution; for though experience may be the condition of their evolution, it can never prove them. The sharp and trenchant


* He would be thought,' says Locke, 'void of common sense who asked on the one side, or on the other went to give a reason, why it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be?' On this Sir William remarks, ‘In other words, common sense or intellect, as the source, is the guarantee of the principle of contradiction. There is here a confession, the importance of which has been observed neither by Locke nor his antagonists.'—Hamilton's Reid, Appendix A., p. 784.

† Leibnitz has remarked in his 'Nouveaux Essais' that the admission of necessary truths does, in fact, concede the point apparently contested, and hence, as also on other grounds, thinks he sees that the differences between himself and Locke are not irreconcilable.

manner in which Locke distinguishes in his chapter on 'discerning,' &c. between men and brutes (B. II. ch. xi).-denying to the latter all approach to the faculty of abstraction, in a way, perhaps, to which some brutes or some advocates of brutes might demur, -furnishes collateral proof that Locke did not mean to exclude the intellect itself as a distinct source of ideas. Animals, we have reason to believe, both from our own observation, and from their analogous structure, as far as their senses are concerned, have the same sensations as we have. How is it that they never arrive at the same results from similar sensational conditions? Because, it will be said, they have not the same faculties that we possess, though they may have the same sensations. Exactly so; that is, it is the faculties to which these phenomena are submitted-alike in the pig and the man-that determine and limit the results; it is owing to man's intellect being so and so conditioned, and not his sensations. How is it that animals never derive out of those sensational conditions which are common to both, those necessary truths which men do, or at least, think they do? for even that is enough to show the difference in question, as well as the cause of it. How is it that a pig, as he looks on the fields and sees them always green, or on the skies, if he ever lifts his queer eyes there, and sees them always blue, never troubles his head with any question of cause; nor extracts out of some of his uniformities of experience, what man calls necessary truths, and acknowledges that other experiences equally uniform, tell him only of contingent truths? Perhaps a pure sensationalist might say, 'And the pig is, to our fancy, all the wiser; for there are no such necessary truths, they are a pure delusion.' Very well, we should reply; as

to the first point, there is no disputing about tastes; as to the second, even supposing the 'delusion,' the delusion itself shows whence it comes, that is, from the internal character of the intellect itself. But at all events, and à fortiori, he who admits these necessary truths, and that they are not delusions (as was the case with Locke) can hardly be supposed to deny that the intellect itself is, from its very structure, an independent source of ideas. Never otherwise shall we account for the fact that man makes so different a use, in different cases, of similar uniform phenomena— the very same invariable experience; turning it, in one case, into a source of what he deems a necessary and universal truth, and declining to pronounce anything of the kind in another. He sees two lines which intersect, and he is willing every where to stake his life that they will never meet again, and never enclose a space; he sees the snow is always white, and yet he will not dare to say that it might not have been of any or of all the colours of the rainbow; or if he denies it, does so in virtue of a principle which he borrows not from sense at all, but from a presumed necessary law of interconnection between the internal structure and external qualities of objects, of which law sense and experience tell him nothing, nay, of which the philosopher now generally admits that sense and experience never did nor can tell him anything; these certifying to him nothing but invariable coexistence in phenomena, or invariable antecedence and sequence in the order of succession. Out of some of these invariable antecedents and consequents man derives what he calls necessary truths, and is every where willing to pledge his existence that truths they can never cease to be; as to others, equally invariable to his experience, he will not pledge sixpence that the

« ForrigeFortsæt »