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truths, which are the causes why other things are true, is a maxim older than the days of Aristotle, in which all found philosophers have necessarily concurred; since, by the contrary supposition, there could be no such thing as Truth at all :b For, as all the productions of the material creation owe their existence to Seeds of one kind or other; so every true production in the intellectual system owes its existence to some fort of Principles analogous to Seeds.
But though all philosophers, who are in any respect entitled to that name, are unanimoufly agreed in the existence of such Principles, as the only foundation of found learning j it is amazing to reflect how widely they differ from each other in deter^ mining what they are. Almost every one, who has embarked in the search of knowledge, has exhibited a string of his own as the grounds of his future reasoning j ^nd
others refusing to admit them, have, upon equal authority, substituted different ones in their room.c Aristotle himself, after refuting those of all his predecessors * was the prolific father of various Principles; and, collected from one or other, their number, their variety, and their inconsistency are almost infinite.
Principles as well as Seeds are, doubtless, of many and various kinds, and to canvass and examine them, to reduce them to simplicity and order, to arrange them into classes, and to determine them with precision, is the first and most essential office of found logic.
As they are indispensible to all Truth,* What are Principles? is a previous question more important to the inquirer than « What is Truth i"
'See Aristot. Metaph. B. ii. chap. 3,4, 5, 6, in which the Peripatetic delivers the different opinions of the ancient philosophers, Hesiod, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Lcucippus, Democritus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Xenophon, Melissus and Plato.
d See Aristot. Metaph. lib. i. cap. 7.
c Wxi.irz Si tr»rnT« Tx V^utx xx\ r» x"mx. Stx yxf T«*i», xxi tx T8tw Ta.X'hx yyuf I'£(t«i, xM.'»' txZrx Ji« run uvoKttfAviuv. Aristot. Metaph. lib. i. cap. 2.
See Aristot. Metaph. lib. ii. cap. 2.
Are they such Axioms or Universal Propositions' as those upon which Aristotle and the sages of antiquity erected Sciences and Systems, and such as our Newton established as his Principia? If this question be affirmed, (and it will not be denied,) it will bring after it another of equal moment. Are these Axioms such PrinCiples as are properly First; such as have the feed absolutely in themselves, that is, such as are derived from no others of any kind whatever by any act or process of Reason j such as, in the words of a living writer ' are intuitively certain, or intuite/y pro
* babie, and are known by a power of the
* mind which perceives truth not by pro'greffive argumentation, but by an instan'taneous and instinctive impulse; derived 'neither from education nor from habit, but 'from nature; acting independently upon
Aristot. Mctaph, lib. iii. cap; 2.
'our * our will, whenever the object is presented, 'according to an established law, and therec fore not improperly called Sense, and act
* ing in the same manner upon all mankind,
* and therefore properly called Common Sen/e, 'the ultimate judge of Truth ?'S Or, are they the result of the laborious investigations, reasonings and deductions of a few
philosophers? If the latter part of this
alternative be true (and the Categories from which Aristotle formed his Axioms, whether philosophically or not is here no question, as well as the Principia of Newton, have immortalized the fame of their inventors as splendid monuments of human Reason j) there must be Other Grounds or Evidences productive of intuitive certainty or intuitive probability, obvious, instantaneous and incapable of being deduced by Reason, which are as the First Principles from which these Secondary Ones are, by a process of Reason, formed.'
These Primary Principles, (and they have surely the first title to the name of Prin
( Beat tie's Essay on Truth, p. 36 and 42.