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ledged that the adoption of the principles which they maintained ought not to affect the practice of men, who must ever act as if they were known to be false: an argument, one would imagine, itself, of strong presumptive force, against all their plausible reasonings. But however the doctrines inculcated by these subtle disputants might have opposed their own feelings, or shocked the minds of others, it is certain they contributed much to promote that speculative philosophy, the tendency of which is to strike at the root of all knowledge, and all belief.

On observing the sceptical conclusions which BERKELEY and Hume had drawn from the old theory of perception, as it had been taught, in substance, by all writers, from PYTHAGORAS down to their time, some philosophers of Great-Britain were led, about the middle of the eighteenth century, to call this theory in question. If it were assumed as true that we perceive, not external objects themselves, but only the ideas in our minds, they saw no method of avoiding the consequences which had been so daringly admitted. They, therefore, denied the grand doctrine on which the whole superstructure they wished to oppose was built; and endeavoured to show, that, as the premises were gratuitously assumed and false, so the conclusions deduced from them were absurd and impossible. This controversy, doubtless, deserves to be considered among the most memorable of the age; and if the principles and reasonings of certain modern metaphysicians of North-Britain, to the publication of which this controversy has given rise, be regarded as just, they certainly form the most important accession which the philosophy of mind has received since the time of Mr. LOCKE.

At the head of these British philosophers stands Dr. REID, who first, in his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, and afterwards in his Essays on the Intellectual and Active Powers of Man, gave a display, and attempted à refutation of the sceptical philosophy, which no one who suitably estimates the importance of the subject, can peruse without profound respect for the author and the deepest interest in his reasonings. He totally rejected the ideal system, or theory of perception, as taught by his predecessors, and maintained, that the mind perceives not merely the ideas or images of external objects, but the external objects themselves; that when these are presented to our senses, they produce certain im- . pressions; that these impressions are followed by correspondent sensations; and these sensations by a perception of the existence and qualities of the objects about which the mind is employed. He contended that all the steps of this process arę equally incomprehensible; that we can assign no other reason for these facts taking place, but that such is the constitution of our nature; and that when sensible objects are presented to us, we become persuaded that they exist, and that they possess the qualities which we witness, not by a train of reasoning, by formal reflection, or by association of ideas; but by a direct and necessary connection between the presence of such objects and our consequent perceptions. In short, the great and distinguishing peculiarity of this class of metaphysicians is, that they appeal from the delusive principles and shocking conclusions of their

opponents, to the Common Sense of mankind, as a tribunal paramount to all the subtleties of philosophy, The same principle they apply to memory, and other powers of the mind.

It is obvious, from this view of Dr. Reid's la. bours, that, although he has taken much pains to overturn the old ideal system, he has not yentured

to substitute any theory of his own in its place. Indeed it would have been inconsistent with his leading doctrine to have attempted this. His aim rather was, to give a simple and precise statement of facts, divested of all theoretical expressions; to show how long philosophers have imposed on themselves by principles gratuitously assumed, and by words without meaning; and to convince them, that “ with respect to the process of nature in perception, they are no less ignorant than the vulgar. Nor let any slight this as a mere negative and unimportant discovery. If it be founded in truth, “ few positive discoveries in the whole history of science can be mentioned, which have a juster claim to high reputation, than that which has detected, so clearly and unanswerably, the fallacy of an hypothesis, which has descended to us from the earliest ages of philosophy, and which, in modern times, has not only served to BERKE, LEY and Hume, as the basis of their sceptical sys, tems, but was adopted as an indisputable truth by Locke, by CLARKE, and by Newton."

It ought in justice to be stated, that Dr. Reid, however great his merit for illustrating and defending the doctrine of Common Sense, as taught in his metaphysical writings, was by no means the first who resorted to this method of opposing the sceptical philosophy of the age. Father Buffier, a learned and ingenious Jesuit, of France, early in the century, espoused a doctrine substantially the same, and announced it in his “ First Truths," as the only ground that could be taken in order to combat successfully Des Cartes, MALEBRANCHE, and Locke. It must be owned, indeed, that BufFIER does not always speak of this faculty or power in man in precisely the same terms with Dr. Reid and his followers, nor can their different accounts of the subject be in every case fully reconciled; yet there is doubtless such a similarity between the ideas of the learned Jesuit and those of the celebrated British Divine, that the merit of originality can hardly be yielded to the latter. To Dr. Reid, however, and some contemporary philosophers, the honour undoubtedly belongs, of having more fully explained the grand principle upon which their system turns; of having extended its application; and of having deduced its consequences in a more explicit and systematic manner.

f Elements of the Philosopby of Mind, by DUGALD STEWART, F. R. S. E. &c. p. 94, 4to. 1792. In adopting, from Professor Stewart, this high praise of Dr. Reid, and his writings on the human mind, I would by no means be understood to express unqualified approbation of his philosophy, To me his Essays on the Active Powers of Man have always appeared much inferior to those on the Intellectual Powers. Indeed, in the former there are several doctrines which I must consider as entirely erroneous. But of thus guarding and qualifying one's approbation there is no end, Speaking of Dr. Reid's works in general, they are certainly among the most instructive and valuable metaphysical writings of the age.

Since the publication of Dr. Reid's philosophy, it has been espoused and defended by several dis

g See First Truths, &c. translated from the French of Pere BUFFIER by an anonymous hand, 8vo. London, 1780. The translator of this work, in a long prefatory discourse, endeavours to fasten the charges of Plagia, rism, Concealment, and Ingratitude on Drs. Reid, Beattie, and Oswald, with a degree of zeal, acrimony, and contemptuous sneer, by no means honourable to himself. He represents them as indebted to Buffier for the substance of all they have written. Whoever this violent assailant is, he certainly does them injustice. To exculpate those gentlemen wholly from the charge of Plagiarism would not, perhaps, be easy ; but to push the charge so far as he does, and especially to treat their general character and merits as he permits himself to do, cannot fail to disgust every candid reader. After all that he has advanced concerning Pere BUFFER, the impartial, inquirer will find such a degree of originality in the works of the celebrated Scottish metaphysicians, especially those of Dr. Reid, as ought to secure to them a high and lasting reputation.

The late Dr. WITHERSPOON, President of the College of New-Jersey, whose vigour and originality of mind are generally known, once informed a friend, that the first publication in Great-Britain in which Reid's lead. ing doctrine was suggested, and in a degree developed, was an Essay written by himself, and published in a Scottish magazine, some years before Dr. Reid wrote on the subject. Those who are acquainted with the talents of the illustrious President, and who know how remote his disposition was from that vanity and arrogance which prompt men to make false preten. sions, will probably, without hesitation, accredit his claim.

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tinguished metaphysicians, especially in GreatBritain. Among the most able of these is Dr. Dugald Stewart, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow. It was before remarked, that Dr. Reid, after demolishing the doctrines of his predecessors, and laying the foundation of a new system, forbore to undertake the erection of an improved superstructure on this basis. Professor STEWART, though far from having, in his own estimation, completed such a superstructure, is yet considered as having done something towards it, and as having rendered substantial service to the philosophy of mind. He has carried some of his doctrines to a greater length than they were carried by his great predecessor, and in some important particulars he dissents from that able pneumatologist."

The principles of Dr. Reid have also been adopted, and perspicuously displayed by Dr. BEATTIE, in his Essay on Truth, and other publi. cations; by Dr. Oswald, in his Appeal to Common Sense in Behalf of Religion; by Lord KAIMS, in his Sketches of the History of Man; by Dr. A. FERGUSON, in his Principles of Moral and Political Science; and by some other respectable writers.

A system of pneumatology, partly belonging to the eighteenth century, from the noise which it made, and the speculations which it excited during that period, is that of the celebrated LEIBNITZ, a philosopher of Germany, who was mentioned

b It is not easy, in this place, to point out the particulars in which Dr. STEWART differs from Dr. Reid. The reader will receive satisfactory information on this subject by looking into those chapters in STEWART'S Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind, which treat of Conception, Abstraction, and Association.

i In chronological strictness, the system of LEIBNITZ ought to have been noticed before those of BerKELEY, Hume, and Reid; but as the latter stood in close connection with the doctrines of MALEBRANCHE, and as it did not appear expedient to interrupt the course of narration respecto ing them, it has been judged proper to introduce a brief account of the doc:

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