« ZurückWeiter »
tion are the result of the relations it bears to different bodies, either fluid * or solid.
I should not therefore express myself with accuracy, if I said that the laws of nature have adapted the means to the end.t Because, the laws of nature are only simple effects; and, according to my ideas, effects suppose a cause; or, to speak in other words, the actual existence of a thing supposes the relative existence of another thing, which I consider as the reason of the existence of the first.
If nature has received laws, he who has imposed those laws on nature has, without doubt, the power of suspending, modifying, or directing those laws as he pleases.
But if the legislator of nature be as wise as he is powerful, he will neither suspend
Light propagates itself in a straight line. Its refraction is that property, by means of which its rays are bent in passing from one medium into another medium of a different nature; viz. from air into water, or from water into air. The reflection of light is that property by which it reverberates, or appears to reverberate, from bodies. Experience discovers. these . properties, and their laws. Geometry calculates them.
# Encyclopedia of Paris, on the word, Leaves of Plante..
nor modify those laws, unless they be in themselves insufficient to fulfil the views of his wisdom; for wisdom consists as much in not multiplying the means without neces. şity, as in the choice of the best means to arrive at the best end.
Now I cannot doubt the wisdom of the legislator of nature, because I cannot doubt the intelligence of thát legislator. I observe that the more man becomes enlightened, the more traces he discovers in the universe of a creative intelligence. I remark even, with astonishment, that this intelligence is not displayed with less splendor in the structure of a mite, or a worm, than in that of man, or in the disposition or the motions of celestial bodies.
I therefore conceive, that the intelligence which has been able to form the immense plan of the universe, is at least the most perfect of intelligences.
But this intelligence is inherent in a necessarily existent being; a necessarily existe'nt being is not only that being -which cannot but be, it is also that being which cannot be in any other manner. But a being whose perfections were susceptible of improvement, would not be a necessarily existent being, since it might then be otherwise than it is. From this argument, then, I infer that the perfections of the necessarily existent being, are not susceptible of improvement, and that they are absolutely that which they are.
I say absolutely, because I cannot conceive degrees in these perfections of a necessarily existent being.
I clearly see, that a limited being may be determined in
because I clearly conceive the possibility of change in its limits.
If the necessarily existent being possess an intelligence without limits, it will also enjoy an unlimited wisdom; for, wisdom is properly here the intelligence itself, inasmuch as it proposes an end, and the means relative to that end.
Wisdom, therefore, appears in all the works of the creative intelligence; it has proposed to itself the best possible end in the creation of every being, and it has pre. determined the best means to arrive at that end.
CHA P. II.
THE LOVE OF HAPPINESS THE BASIS OF THE NA. TURAL LAWS OF MAN.-CONSEQUENCE IN FA. VOUR OF THE PERFECTION OF THE MORAL SYSTEM.THE LAWS OF NATURE THE LAN. GUAGE OF THE LEGISLATOR.
AM a sensitive and intelligent being; the
desire of existing agreeably is inherent in the nature of every sensitive and intelli: gent being, and it is that strong desire which constitutes self-love. Self-love, therefore, does not differ from the love of happiness.
I cannot but perceive that the love of happiness is the universal principle of my actions.
Happiness, therefore, is the great end of my being. I did not make myself; I did not give to myself that universal principle of action. The author of
The author of my existence, who has placed within me that powerful principle, has then created me for happi.
By happiness, I understand, in general, whatever can contribute to the preservation or perfection of my nature.
objects make a strong impression on me, and my intelligence is very limited, it happens frequently that I mistake happiness, and that I prefer an apparent to a real happiness.
These mistakes are discovered to me by my daily experience, and by my reflections, the result of this experience. I perceive, then, that to attain the end of my being, I am under a strict obligation to observe the laws of my being
I therefore consider these laws as the natural means which the author of my being has chosen to conduct me to happiness.* As they are the necessary result of my relations to different beings, and I have not the faculty of changing these relations, I manifestly see, that I cannot infringe either more or less the laws of my particular nature, without departing more or less from my true end.
* Vide part xv. ch. iy.--Vide also part viii. ch. iii.