Sidor som bilder

gers when they are close upon us, and to keep them at arm's length, not in solid and grounded courses to preclude or subdue them. We must content ourselves with expedient-makers—with fire-engines against fires, life-boats against inundations ; but no houses built fire-proof, no dams that rise above the water-mark. The reader will have observed that already has the term, reason been 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," or

deranged 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.


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.


If 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 ânimals possessed the sense of sight, but were incapable of beholding the satellites of Saturn, or the nebulæ 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

* I have this moment looked over a translation of Blumenbach's Physiol. ogy, 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 text-book; 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

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 in telligence 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 grogyn, 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 self-consciousness, and personality, or moral being.

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

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 myself 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.

* 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.

4 Von den Göttlichen Dingen, Beilage A. Jacobi, in this passage, speaks of reason in man as being recipient rather than originant, and of this as the true Platonic doctrine. The affirmation of identity rather than pre-conformity between the finite and infinite Reason, by Coleridge, in this passage, is more than Jacobi is ready to affirm, as Coleridge evidently means to indicate by his criticism. A better statement of the doctrine may be found in an extract from John Smith, I. p. 264, note.-Am. Ed.


the objects of reason ; but they are themselves reason. We name God the Supreme Reason ; and Milton says,

-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 understanding 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 phenomena of perception ; that faculty, the functions of which contain the rules and constitute the possibility of outward 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

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 with invisible realities or spiritual objects. This organ is his reason. Again, the understanding and experience may existt without

But reason can not exist without understanding ; nor does it or can it manifest itself but in and through the understanding, which in our elder writers is often called discourse, or the discursive faculty, as by Hooker, Lord Bacon, and Hobbes : and an understanding enlightened by reason Shakspeare gives as the contradistinguishing character of man, under the name discourse of reason.' In short, the human understanding possesses two distinct organs, the outward sense, and the mind's


which is reason : wherever we use that phrase, the 'mind's eye,' in its proper sense, and not as a mere synonyme of the memory or the

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

+ of this no one would feel inclined to doubt, who had seen the poodle dog, whom the celebrated BLUMENBACH, –a name so dear to science, as a physiologist and comparative anatomist, and not less dear as a man to all Englishmen who have ever resided at Göttingen in the course of their education,-trained up, not only to hatch the eggs of the hen with all the mother's care and patience, but to attend the chickens afterwards, and find the food for them. I have myself known a Newfoundland dog, who watched and guarded a family of young children with all the intelligence of a nurse, during their walks.




fancy. In this way we reconcile the promise of revelatior that the blessed will see God, with the declaration of St. John, No man hath seen God at any time.*

I will add one other illustration to prevent any misconception, as if I were dividing the human soul into different essences, or ideal persons. In this piece of steel I acknowledge the properties of hardness, brittleness, high polish, and the capability of forming a mirror. I find all these likewise in the plate glass of a friend's carriage ; but in addition to all these I find the quality of transparency, or the power of transinitting, as well as of reflecting, the rays of light. The application is obvious.

If the reader therefore will take the trouble of bearing in mind these and the following explanations, he will have removed beforehand every possible difficulty from The Friend's political section. For there is another use of the word, reason, arising out of the former indeed, but less definite, and more exposed to misconception. In this latter use it means the understanding considered as using the reason, so far as by the organ

of reason only we possess the ideas of the necessary and the universal; and this is the more common use of the word, when it is applied with any attempt at clear and distinct conceptions. In this narrower and derivative sense the best definition of reason, which I can give, will be found in the third member of the following sentence, in which the understanding is described in its three-fold operation, and from each receives an appropriate name. The sense,-vis sensitiva vel intuitivaperceives: vis regulatrix—the understanding, in its own peculiar operation-conceives : vis rationalis—the reason or rationalized understanding-comprehends. The first is impressed through the organs of sense; the second combines these multifarious impressions into individual notions, and by reducing these notions to rules, according to the analogy of all its former notices, constitutes experience : the third subordinates both of them, the notions, namely, and the rules of experience, to absolute principles or necessary laws: and thus concerning objects, which our experience has proved to have real existence, it demonstrates, moreover, in what way they are possible, and in doing this constitutes science. Reason therefore, in this secondary sense, and used, not as a spiritual organ, but as a

1 Ep. iv. 12.-Ed.

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »