Page images

a being must be a conscious being, and as consciousness in the very nature of it implies experience, there is experience connected with a priori reasoning. But is this experience implied in the very conception of a conscious being the experience upon which a posteriori reasoning depends? We think not. Induction, which embraces and expresses the experience required by a posteriori reasoning, demands a wide survey, a multiplication of particular facts, it is not content with the primary experience implied in consciousness. It ranges through a wide field of observation, musters a large array of facts, and in this way seeks to reach a conclusion, in other words, to show what is. The a priori method takes the primary experience implied in consciousness, manifests no anxiety for a multiplication, but simply takes what must necessarily be assumed, and takes this in connection with the innate convictions of the mind, not innate in the sense that they were in the mind as convictions before they were evoked; but innate in the sense that they are native to the mind, are due to its constitution as any other faculty is, and that, apart from these laws, principles, tendencies, or by whatever other name they may be designated, the human mind would not and could not be what it is, and proceeds to develop the logical necessities which this primary experience, and these fundamental beliefs contain; proceeds not only to show what is, but in so far as the nature of the subject will allow, to show what, by logical deduction, must be. There is, then, an obvious distinction between experience as connected with a priori reasoning, and experience constituting the substance of a posteriori argumentation. The one is primary, implied in consciousness, what cannot by any possibility be excluded; the other is an aggregation of particulars any one of which might be excluded. The one method seeks by multiplication of experiences to show what is, the other by fundamental beliefs, evoked in primary experience, to logically reveal what must be. Had considerations like these been duly attended to, the argument as stated by Dr. S. Clarke, would never have been reduced to the character of a posteriori reasoning. The fact that something is, which the Rector of St. James' employs in establishing his first proposition, is a fact of primary experience, is an obvious implication of consciousness, and could not be excluded. The employment of this fact does not invalidate the a priori character of the Doctor's argument, except the a priori reasoning must find foundation and form out of and beyond consciousness.

There is then no reason to conclude that the connection of primary experience, with the fundamental beliefs it evokes in a priori reasoning, invalidates its character. And we may now proceed to inquire whether our original convictions of space and duration are merely convictions of nothingness, or convictions of

reality. Consciousness, if it certifies anything, certifies that space and duration are independent of, and external to, the conscious being. They are not the creations of consciousness; it discovers them, and discovers them as having an existence independent of, and external to, itself; an existence which abides, whether it is immediately concerned in contemplating them or not, and an existence which would continue if the individual mind contemplating them ceased to be. To deny this testimony of consciousness is to undermine the foundations of all certainty, for if consciousness deceives us respecting space and duration, testifying that they are realities when they are not, but are mere nothingness or unreal abstractions, what guarantee have we that its testimony may be relied upon in reference to any other subject? Plainly none. And we are handed over, without possibility of deliverance, to universal uncertainty and scepticism. There is no way of avoiding this sad result except by maintaining the veracity of consciousness in a llits original convictions and primary experience. The original conviction of consciousness gives space and duration as continuous, not only without break, but unbreakable. They cannot be divided as a body can, so as to present separate superfices, with an intervention that can be declared to be in the one case no space, and in the other no duration. This, Mr. Gillespie plainly shows in establishing his second proposition, and in showing this he but developes what is logically contained in our original conviction. The introduction of body into space and duration neither divides nor destroys them, and hence they are penetrable, for body can exist in them without displacing or destroying them. We remember seeing it remarked by a certain writer that indivisibility was of no force whatever in relation to the reality of space or duration, for said he, "nothing is indivisible." This at the time appeared to us a very singular statement, and it appears so still. Indivisibility is certainly a quality, as much so as divisibility; and if our original convictions may be trusted, quality belongs to substance or being, so that it seems, after all, nothing is something; an odd conclusion, verily. Neither indivisibility nor any other quality can be affirmed of nothing; no affirmation can be made, except the affirmation that we mean by nothing the absence of everything positive. The qualities which, by our original convictions, we are compelled to attribute to space and duration, show, if anything can be shown, that they are realities and not mere nihilities.

Though space and duration do not admit of either mental or actual division, yet they allow, as Mr. Gillespie indicates in his argument, of partial consideration-that is, we may confine attention to certain sections of each, and consider them relationally and proportionally as less and greater; and these sections or proportions

may be called parts, providing we make it understood that they are not parts in the sense that between any two of these is an interval in which there is no space or no duration. We may think of a day or a week; we may think of an inch or a yard; but in these cases there is no actual separation of either space or duration. They are only parts in the sense of partial consideration; for we don't think that between the day and week, about which we think there is an interval of no duration, and similarly in reference to space. It certainly appears reasonable to conclude that what we consider relationally and proportionally has positive existence,that it is not mere nihility. It scarcely appears sensible to speak of an inch or a yard of nothing. Neither is it a satisfactory explanation to say that though men are necessitated to speak of space or duration as if they were positive, yet they are not misled, for they know that they are mere negations. For it will be necessary to explain further how it is that men are necessitated to use language which attributes positivity to mere negation. And then men do not know that space and duration, though they speak of them positively, are ngeations, for if the original convictions of man may be trusted, space and duration are realities.

There is another view which differs slightly from naked nihilism, inasmuch as it attributes a sort of reality to space and duration. They are creations of the mind, subjective forms given by the mind to the phenomena of sensation. Objective reality is denied. Men are compelled to think of everything as being in space and duration, but the only positivity they possess is that which the mind gives. They are subjective forms of sensation, nothing more. And we may add that the philosophy in which this view is fundamental makes all our other original convictions purely subjective and classifies them either as categories of the understanding, or ideas of the pure reason. Much that has already been advanced may be urged against this explanation of our fundamental beliefs respecting space and duration. It contradicts the testimony of conciousness, and reduces the necessary operations of the mind to falsity and delusion. We think and speak about the reality of external existence, but we cannot establish it if our original convictions are purely subjective. If the mind can create so much, why not all? This inquiry cannot be answered by the Kantian philosophy. Its fundamental positions logically result in the negation of all external reality. The essential properties of material existence, that is, those properties which belong not to any particular material object but to all material objects, such as divisibility, magnitude, figure, &c., are dependent upon its space relations. For there can be neither divisibility, magnitude, nor figure, where there is no space, and if space be a purely subjective form, why then all material existence must be subjective too. The

history of modern speculative thought shows that the Kantian philosophy conducted to its logical issues negates all external reality, and considers it contained in and explained by a concatenation of subjective forms. And short of this point men cannot stop if they deny that space and duration are real.

Another view, in favour of which the authority of Leibnitz may be pleaded, explains space as merely relational. But here again the testimony of conciousness is disregarded, for we think of space as abiding even if the objects existent in it should be annihilated. And we cannot think of space as ceasing to be along with the material objects, a result this we could not avoid were space merely relational. For when the objects related no longer existed the relation could not abide. Relations exist not apart from related objects. If the objects can cease to be, so can the relations, and according to this view space may become non-existent, a conclusion which plainly contradicts the testimony of consciousness. The relational theory also obviously implies, if it does not explicitly maintain, the infinitude of matter. For we cannot assign limit to space even in thought. And if it be merely the relation of material bodies to cach other, we cannot assign limit to material existence, and thus for the sake of a theory we reject the testimony of consciousness and quietly concede a point of considerable importance in favour of materialism.

From our fundamental beliefs concerning space and duration, the reality of which cannot be questioned without resulting error and absurdity, in conjunction with facts of primary experience, facts which cannot be proved, but must be assumed. Mr. Gillespie developes his argument. He is not "at a loss where to begin," nor is he without sure foothold, and compelled to beg for a starting-point, else surreptitiously to introduce an unwarrantable supposition. These are decisions which can only be pronounced by those who fail to perceive the difference between separate treatises written with different aims. The first proposition in the argument is, "Infinity of extension is necessarily existing;" the second, "Infinity of extension is necessarily indivisible. These propositions must be granted, for a man cannot believe infinity of extension non-existent, try as he may, and that, the existence of which we cannot but believe exists necessarily. It is equally impossible to think infinity of extension divisible, that is, admitting of separation, so that between parts of it there will be an interval of no extension, for this would be to admit that infinity of extension is destructible, while we are compelled to believe it necessarily existing. And as it is an utter contradiction to say infinity of extension can be separated, so it is an utter contradiction to say it is not indivisible. The scholium that whatever is divisible cannot be infinity of extension, and the corollary that

"infinity of extension is necessarily inmovable," must also be granted. This second proposition with its scholium and corollary and the corresponding proposition and corollary in Part II constitute an important part of the argument, for they render materialism untenable and dispose of the theory of succession. If material existence be divisible it cannot be infinity of extension, neither can infinity of extension be affirmed of it, by consequence then it is finite in extension, and similarly in respect to duration. The third proposition in the argument is "There is necessarily a Being of infinity of extension." The author here shows that by necessary division, infinity of extension, which is necessarily existing, must be categorised either as substance or attribute, and he proceeds to consider these alternatives with a view to show that in whichever category it is placed his proposition is established, deferring to a later part of the argument the actual decision as to which alternative must be accepted. First-" If infinity of extension subsist" by itself "without a substratum, then it is a substance." And if any one denies this, to make him aware of the absurdity of denying what is so generally granted, we need but require him to show why infinity of extension is not a substance so far forth as it can subsist by itself without a substratum. Some acute critics have imagined that here they have discovered a process that if legitimate will establish anything, however preposterous, they have but to affirm and challenge their opponents to prove the negative. Whether Mr. Gillespie's method in this instance be legitimate, or otherwise, these critics render themselves sufficiently ridiculous, and exhibit their unfitness for philosophical criticism. Mr. Gillespie is here considering one of two alternatives, which, in reference to the subject of argument, are comprehended in a necessary division. His reasoning admits of a full syllogistic expression. Everything which really exists by itself and without a substratum, must exist as a substance. Infinity of extension (according to the alternative here under consideration) exists by itself and without a substratum. Therefore infinity of extension must exist as a substance. If any one denies the validity of this reasoning, he is certainly bound to show why he denies it. Indeed, there is no other means by which he can be made aware of the absurdity of denying what is by common consent admitted, except requiring him to produce the grounds of his denial. Mr. Gillespie does not intimate that the method he employs in this instance may be employed in every instance, as some of his critics interpret him, leaping to a general conclusion from a particular premiss; but that in the case he here introduces it may be done, and is in fact all that can be done, to render the denier aware of the absurdity of his position. If the first alternative be accepted, the proposition stated is accepted in it. Mr. Gillespie then proceeds to con

« PreviousContinue »