« ZurückWeiter »
nounce it in a certain manner, and with a certain tone and accent ?
In all these cases, we may observe, that the animal infers some fact beyond what immediately strikes his senses; and that this inference is altogether found. ed on past experience, while the creature expects from the present object the same events, which it has always found in its observation to result from fimi. lar objects.
Secondly. "'Tis impossible, that this inference of the animal can be founded on any process of argu. ment or reasoning, by which he concludes, that like events must follow like objects, and that the course of nature will always be regular in its operations. For if there be in reality any arguments of this nature, they surely lie too abstruse for the observation of such imperfect understandings ; since it may well employ the utmost care and attention of a philosophic genius to discover and observe them. Animals, therefore, are not guided in these inferences by reasoning : Neither are children: Neither are the generality of mankind, in their ordinary actions and conclusions : Neither are philosophers themselves, who, in all the active parts of life, are, in the main, the same with the vulgar, and are govern'd by the same maxims. Nature must have provided some other principle, of more ready, and more general use and application ; nor can an operation of such immense consequence in life, as that of inferring effects from causis, be trusted to the uncertain process of reasoning and argumentation. Were this doubtful with regard to men, it seems to admit of no question with regard to the brute-creation ; and the conclusion being once firmly establish'd in the one, we have a strong presumption, from all the rules of analogy, that it ought to be universally admitted, without any exception or reserve. 'Tis custom alone, which engages animals, from every object, that strikes their senses, to infer its usual attendant, and carries their imagination, from the appearance of the one, to conceive the other, in that strong and lively manner, which we denominate belief. No other explication can be given of this operation, in all the higher, as well as lower classes of sensitive beings, which fall under our notice and observa. tion *. .
Since all reasonings concerning facts or causes is deriv'd merely from cuítom, it may be ask'd how it happens, that men so much furpass animals in reasoning, and one man fo much surpasses another ? Has not the same custom the same influence on all ?
We Mall here endeavour briefly to explain the great difference in human understandings : After which, the reason of the difference betwixt men and animals will easily be comprehended.
• 1. When we have liv'd any time, and have been accuftom'd to the uniformity of nature, we acquire a general ha
bit, But tho' animals learn many parts of their know. lege from observation, there are also many parts of it, which they derive from the original hand of nabit, by which we always transfer the known to the un. known, and conceive the latter to resemble the former, By means of this general habitual principle, we regard even one experiment as the foundation of reasoning, and expect a fi. milar event with some degree of certainty, where the expe. riment has been made accurately and free from all foreign circumstances. 'Tis therefore considered as a matter of great importance to observe the consequences of things ; and as one man may very much surpass another in attention and memory and observation, this will make a very great difference in their reasoning.
2. Where there is a complication of causes to produce any effect, one mind may be much larger than another, and bet. ter able to comprehend the whole system of objects, and to infer juftly their consequences.
3. One man is able to carry on a chain of consequences to a greater length chan another.
4. Few men can think long without running into a confusion of ideas, and miftaking one for another; and there are various degrees of this infirmity.
5. The circumstance, on which the effect depends, is frequently involv'd in other circumstances, which are foreign and extrinfic, The separation of it often requires great attention, accuracy and subtilty.
6. The forming general maxims from particular obseryation is a very nice operation ; and nothing is more usual, from hafte or a narrowness of mind, which sees not on all fides, than to commit mistakes in this particular,
7. When we reason from analogies, the man, who has the greater experience or the greater promptitude of suge gesting analogies, will be the better reasoner.
8. Byasses from prejudice, education, passion, party, &c. hang more upon one mind than another.
9. After we have acquired a confidence in human testimony, books and conversation enlarge much more the sphere of one man's experience and thought than those of another.
"Twou'd be easy to discover many other circumstances. that make a difference in the understandings of men.
lure, which much exceed the share of capacity they possess on ordinary occasions, and in which they im. prove, little or nothing, by the longest practice and experience. These we denominate Instincts, and are fo apt to admire, as something very extraordinary, and inexplicable by all the disquisitions of hu. man understanding. But our wonder will, perhaps, cease or diminish ; when we consider, that the expe. rimental reasoning itself, which we possess in common with beasts, and on which the whole conduct of life depends, is nothing but a species of instinct or mechanical power, that acts in us unknown to ourfelves ; and in its chief operations, is not directed by any such relations or comparisons of ideas, as are the proper objects of our intellectual faculties. Tho' the instinct be different, yet still 'tis an instinct, which teaches a man to avoid the fire ; as much as that, which teaches a bird, with such exactness, the art of incubation, and the whole oeconomy and order of its nursery.