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tions of our own, while the moral sciences start with facts. This circumstance accounts in part for the singular definiteness of its terms; if these terms conform to our ideas, that is all we require. In the sciences of fact, we demand that our ideas should conform to nature, as well as our words to our ideas.
It would, however, be extravagant to assert that on account of these differences, truth is confined to Mathematics. It were hardly more extravagant to say that truth is not found in Mathematics. Fact, reality, is certainly not found there. Not setting out with facts, its reasonings can never lead to facts. It is hypothesis all. If we can be said to know nothing certainly out of Mathematics, we can be said to know nothing really anywhere.
But is it so? Is nothing certain beyond the sphere of Mathematics?
Mathematical truth rests ultimately on definitions, conceptions of the reason, ideas of lines, angles, circles, etc. Moral reasoning rests for the most part upon ideas of sense or of consciousness.
That we truly have such ideas in both cases, we know by precisely the same means, the testimony of our own minds; they do see these ideas in themselves. That in the case of sight there is a thing seen and a seer, we know by the same testimony; we directly see both. Can evidence be higher or clearer?
We may make wrong inferences; but the senses do not deceive us. It was a wrong inference from the testimony of the senses, that the sun revolves about the earth; there is another alternative equally consistent with the testimony of the senses, viz., that the earth moves round on its own axis. The fact of a relative motion is all that is attested by the eye; this may be either motion in the earth or the sun; the visual effect will be the same in both cases, as we see illustrated in sailing along the shore, or passing a stationary train of cars upon a railroad; it is impossible to say, so far as the eye is concerned, which is moving, the boat or the shore, the standing or the passing train. If motion itself were denied, it would contradict the senses. The fact of motion they are competent to know; for our inferences they are not responsible. So far are the senses from being uncertain inlets of knowledge that they, in fact, furnish us with our most expressive language of certainty; to be as clear as sight is to be past all doubt.
In the purely logical process, which is, as we have seen, intuitive at every step, in all reasoning, there can, of course, be no essential difference between mathematical and moral reasoning. The axioms that constitute the successive links of the chain in the one, are no more certain than those equally intuitive judgments which complete the other. That the whole is greater than a part is not clearer than that design implies a designer. Is my notion of sequence among the relations of lines and angles any more certain than my notion of antecedent and consequent among the feelings of my own mind? Is my idea of body or of space less certain than are my ideas of the admeasurements of body or space, their mathematical affections? Yet the ideas of body and of space, and even of extension itself, which the mathematician considers, are metaphysical. The notion of time, whose various portions the mathematician comptvtes, is not itself given by Mathematics. The infinity to which his parallel lines are supposed to be extended, is a metaphysical idea. Indeed, the very subjects whose extension and quantity he deals with, and without a notion of which he could have no extension or quantity, are furnished by the metaphysician, and cannot be less certain than the notions built upon them.
Is any proposition in Euclid more certain than my own existence, or yours, or that of the earth, or of Paris, or of Bonaparte,—of matter and mind and God? If not, what becomes of the conceit that there is no certainty beyond the limits of the Mathematics? Scepticism without those limits is scepticism within them; truth in all science reposes on the same basis, the original laws of our mental constitution.
To a reasoner against the certainty of all but mathematical demonstration, may it not be replied: "Is your reasoning mathematical? If not, permit us to doubt; for mathematical reasoning alone is indubitable." And what has the reasoner to say? It is. not to be denied that the Mathematics, owing to the nature of the subjects as conceptions of our own minds, definitions, and in some degree also to the comparatively small number and unvarying use of its approprate words, has remarkable advantages over all the other sciences. It is no more to be doubted that its principles have, like the ideas of right and beauty, this dignity, — that they seem to belong to the Eternal Mind as well as our finite intellect; all material nature is founded on them; though nowhere unmodified, they are everywhere involved as the ground principles of the physical universe. But that we are confined to the sphere of this science for all absolute certainty is incapable of proof, upon the very principle of the argument by which the proposition is maintained. Indeed, if we know nothing out of Mathematics, we for the same reason know nothing in Mathematics ; for if our immediate intuitions are knowledge, they carry us into the whole field of nature and of mind; if they are not knowledge, what do we know of equality and sequence in the relations of our ideal lines and angles? Are these anything more than immediate intuitions?
The philosophy of human knowledge proposing, as we have said, to settle the laws of belief, the ground principles of all science, serves, we think, to throw some light upon another question of more moment still, if possible, the question, first raised, and naturally enough, in the bosom of the Roman Catholic church, but entertained to some extent among Protestants, between Faith and Reason. To deter awakening minds from inquiry and investigation, and to secure the credit of Tradition, an appeal has been made to the authority of revelation; the judgments of cultivated reason have been repressed as presumptuous and profane. By another class of theologians, the same appeal has been made from wholly different and infinitely better motives. Men of no worldly policy, and no design to prop a tottering fabric of superstition, have occasionally, at different periods, been so offended by the aberrations of opinion, and have become so impatient of the weary progress of truth in the world, that they have come to distrust our human capacities altogether, and to give up all hope of light but from a supernatural revelation.
They are right, clearly, in despairing of the human mind without the Bible; right in depending on the Scriptures for much of our best knowledge upon all moral and spiritual subjects, and for all we may be said to know upon some of the greatest subjects of thought and dearest interests of man. Faith has its proper sphere beyond the province of reason, and supplies a class of truths to which unaided reason could never have attained. But faith is not, therefore, a substitute for reason. We are not obliged to renounce reason in order to avoid rationalism ; this would be the opposite extreme. There is a point of union. The two principles are not antagonistic; they blend and harmonize in the same mind; the one is the proper complement of the other. Isolated and in excess they lead, the one to impiety, the other to superstition. Indulged to extremes, they destroy one another. A faith not justified by reason is an illusion; a reason not implying faith is impossible. How can a faith which does not commend itself to the judgment, command respect or be binding? On what does it rest its claims? Whereon does its authority repose? What gives it power to bind the conscience? To what does it appeal? And a reason which docs not receive the testimonies of the senses, of the memory, of the conscience, of the taste, of the cognitive power in all its manifestations, what can it do? What does it know? Absolutely nothing. There is therefore a kind of faith, faith in God, my Maker, lying at the basis of all my primary judgments, a confidence in the divine voice speaking through my physical and moral organization. And there is a reasonableness in the faith which carries me beyond the reach of my natural powers, and helps me, reposing on God's revealed word, to see things invisible to the mere natural man. The attempt, therefore, to dissever faith from reason, is an attempt to put asunder what God hath joined together; if it could be done, and just so far as it could be done, it would make a false man ; would annihilate man on the one hand, or cut him oft'from God on the other.
The theory is, that nothing can be known but what is taught us in the Bible; that the Bible is an authoritative revelation from heaven, and precludes all reliance on human reason — a degraded, uncertain, fallacious guide, amusing and bewildering us with vain philosophies, but utterly unworthy to be trusted, and forbidden to presume on seeing or knowing anything.
Now if it be so, it is certainly natural to ask where the Bible itself gets its authority? Are we to assume that it is the word of God, and receive it without examination or inquiry? Why receive it, and not the Talmuds, or the Apocryphies, or the Koran, or the Vedas 1 Are all of equal authority? If not, what reason of preference? How do we know that miracles were ever wrought; that Moses or John ever witnessed a miracle; that the eyes of Moses or John did not delude them; that the real books of Moses and John have come down to us; that we rightly interpret their words 1 How know we, in a word, that we have any revelation from God? What is a miracle, if there be no God? If all the events of nature may come to pass without God, why not those we call mirac les? How can the Bible be God's word, unless there be a God? And how can the Bible, of itself, prove God's existence? The authority of the Bible is derived from its being God's book. It cannot, therefore, be assumed to prove a God. If all nature fails to prove it, can it be proved by a book? The argument for the Bible and the argument for miracles take the being of God for granted; and are both incapable of proof unless his being is assumed; for, unless this be assumed, there is no God to interrupt the course of nature for a moral purpose, and that is the idea of a miracle; no God to be set forth in Scripture. We have, therefore, neither an internal credibility arising from the correspondence of the Bible with the known character of God, nor the evidence of miracles in support of our faith in the Scriptures.
Is it replied, that we have reason, each of us, to expect a special inspiration to assure us of the authority of the Word, and to guide us to the understanding of it? How know we this? By inspiration? Then how know we that we are thus inspired? The first act of inspiration cannot be known by a previous one. And if not, we must at last cotne to a point where we can judge of the question of our inspiration by our reason only. And thus even this faith in