Can Change the World Again.
A SYSTEM OF MENTAL PHILOSOPHY. 1882.
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D. LL.D.
SECONDARY IDEAS OF REASON.
In former chapters it has been shown, that reason sustains this relation to the faculties of sense and consciousness: It gives the logical antecedents of phenomena affirmed by these faculties. Thus, on the perception of phenomena, we have the ideas of time, space, substance, personal identity, and cause.
Now reason sustains a relation to the understanding precisely similar to that which it sustains to sense and consciousness. It gives the logical antecedents of notions and conceptions, as well as of primary intuitions. The idea of right and wrong, of obligation, is not the logical antecedent of mere phenomena given by sense and consciousness. Before obligation can be conceived of or affirmed, the notion or conception, not of mere phenomena but of an agent possessed of certain powers, and sustaining certain relations to other agents, must be developed in the intelligence. The idea of obligation, then, is not the logical antecedent of phenomena affirmed by sense and consciousness but of notions given by the understanding. These considerations fully establish the propriety of the distinction between ideas of reason as primary and secondary. The former are the logical antecedents of phenomena given by the primary contingent faculties. The latter sustain the same relation to those of the secondary faculties. The distinction here made seems hitherto, as far as my knowledge extends, to have escaped the notice of the analyzers of the human intelligence. Its reality and importance to a correct understanding of the operations of the human mind will appear manifest as we proceed with our analysis of the secondary ideas of reason. An exposition of all the ideas comprehended under this class will not be attempted. All that will be attempted will be the induction and elucidation of a sufficient number of particulars to serve as lights to the philosophic inquirer, in his researches in the domain of mental science.
IDEA OF RIGHT AND WRONG.
Of the secondary ideas of reason, that which claims the first, and more special attention, is the one mentioned above, that of right and wrong, together with those dependent upon it, or necessarily connected with it.
UNIVERSALITY OF THE IDEA OF RIGHT AND WRONG.
It is an undeniable fact, that in the presence of certain actions, the human mind characterizes them as good or bad, right or wrong; that the mind affirms to itself, that one class of the actions ought, and the other ought not to be performed; that when we have performed certain actions, we deserve reward, and that when we have performed others, we deserve punishment; and that when this takes place, there is moral order, and when it does not, there is moral disorder. Such judgments are passed alike by all mankind, the old and the young, the learned and the ignorant, the savage and the civilized. Should it be said, that mankind differ in different circumstances in their judgment of the moral qualities of actions; I reply:
1. This objection itself implies the universality of moral distinctions. As men may differ in referring particular effects to particular causes, while all agree in the judgment that every event must have a cause, so it is with moral distinctions. Men may not always attribute the same moral qualities to the same actions; yet they universally agree in this, that our actions are either right or wrong.
2. But when we refer to intentions, in which alone the moral quality of actions consists, we find a more extensive agreement among men than is generally supposed. A man wills the good of an individual possessed of moral excellence. Where is the intelligent being in existence who does or can regard such an act as any other than virtuous? Who is not aware, that men, always justify wrong actions, if at all, by a reference to their intentions, showing by such reference, that in their judgment of the great law of love, all agree?
3. Vicious actions are seldom regarded as virtuous. Men may persuade themselves that it is not wrong to perform such actions, but never that they are bound to do them, or deserve a reward for having done them.
When an intention morally right is submitted to the contemplation of mankind, all agree in admitting it as virtuous and meritorious. Thus the sacred writer speaks of himself and associates, as through a "manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience." This could not have been the case, had not the consciences of all men been in fixed correlation to the moral law. The idea of right and wrong, then, is universal.
IDEA OF RIGHT AND WRONG NECESSARY.
It is also necessary. When the intelligence affirms an action or intention to be right or wrong, it is impossible to conceive of it, as possessed of the opposite character. We can no more form such a conception, than we can conceive of the annihilation of space. It has the same claim to the characteristics of universality and necessity, that any other idea has.
IDEAS DEPENDENT ON THAT OF RIGHT AND WRONG.
A moment's reflection will convince us, that the idea of right and wrong is the foundation of that of obligation; and this again, of that of merit or demerit; and this last of that of reward and punishment. When man would justify the bestowment of reward, or the infliction of punishment, they always refer to the merit or demerit of the individual. This judgment is sustained by a reference to the obligation of the same individual, and his obligations are shown by a reference to the idea of right and wrong. Such facts clearly indicate the relation of these ideas, the one to the other.
CHRONOLOGICAL ANTECEDENT TO THE IDEA OF RIGHT AND WRONG, ETC.
It has already been remarked, that the ideas under consideration are the logical antecedents, not of the phenomena of the primary contingent faculties, but of understanding conceptions. Before we can conceive of ourselves as subjects of moral obligation, we must be conscious of the possession of certain powers, and of existence in certain relations to other beings. This knowledge is the chronological antecedent of the ideas of right and wrong, while these ideas sustain to the facts of consciousness the relation of logical antecedents. The question now is, What are the elements of moral agency, necessarily presupposed as the condition of the existence of the idea of right and wrong of obligation, etc., in our minds? They are the following.
1. Power to know ourselves together with our relations.
2. The actual perception of such relations.
3. Power to act, or to refuse to act, in harmony with these relations.
That the ideas of right and wrong sustain to such conceptions the relation of logical antecedent, is evident from the following considerations:
1. When we conceive of a being possessed of these powers, and existing in such relations, we necessarily affirm obligations of him. An intelligent being is revealed to me, as possessed of capacity for virtue or vice, together with susceptibilities for happiness or misery. I have a consciousness of the power to will his virtue and happiness, or his vice and misery. I instantly affirm myself under obligation to will the former instead of the latter. No other conceptions are necessary to the existence of this affirmation. These facts also being postulated, obligation must be affirmed. We can no more conceive it right to will the evil instead of the good, or, that we are not under obligation to will the latter, than we can conceive of the annihilation of space.
2. If any of these elements are not postulated, obligation can not be conceived of, nor affirmed. If we deny of a creature intelligence to perceive his relations to other beings, we cannot conceive of him as under obligation to them. Whatever degree of intelligence be attributed to him, this involves, in our apprehensions, no obligation to one act of will instead of another, in the absence of all power to put forth the required, instead of the prohibited act. Suppose a creature has any degree of intelligence whatever. This creates no obligation to locomotion, in the absence of corresponding power. Suppose the mind located in a body totally destitute of the power of locomotion. Would the existence of intelligence create obligation to locomotion? Certainly not. Such would be the response of universal mind. Now the power to will is just as distinct from the intelligence, as that of locomotion is. Hence, intelligence, of whatever kind or degree, can no more create obligation to one than the other, in the absence of corresponding power. To the conception of an agent, then, possessed of intelligence to know his relations, and power to act, or refuse to act, in harmony with those relations, the ideas of right and wrong, of obligation, etc., sustain the relation of logical antecedents.
IDEA OF FITNESS.
Every person who has attentively noticed the operations of his own mind, must have observed, that under certain circumstances, certain actions, or certain states of mind, appeared to him fit and proper. When asked to give a reason for such judgments, no other account can be given, than a simple reference to the nature of the thing itself; and to the circumstances supposed. For illustration, take the following passage of Scripture: "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." Suppose that father to have been required to give a reason for the judgment that under the circumstances supposed, joy and merriment were fit or proper. What answer could he have given? No other answer than for the judgment, that no phenomena exist without a cause. In both instances the mind knows absolutely that its judgments are, and must be true. No other reason for their truth, however, can be given, than this: The circumstances being given, they are self-affirmed.
THIS IDEA SYNONYMOUS WITH RIGHT AND WRONG, ETC.
Now the idea of fitness, when applied to moral relations, is identical with that of right and wrong. It is the foundation of the idea of merit and demerit; and consequently of that of reward and punishment.
It is also identical with the idea of moral order. When it is asked, why is that state in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished, regarded as a state of moral order? no other reason can be assigned than this: Such a state is fit and proper.
IDEA OF THE USEFUL, OR THE GOOD.
Whenever we conceive of a creature capable of pleasure or pain, happiness or misery, we necessarily conceive of a state in which all the capacities of such a creature for pleasure and happiness are perfectly filled. This state we designate by the term good, a term sometimes used in another sense, as synonymous with that of right. Whatever tends to fill out the measure of pleasure and happiness, we designate by the general term, useful.
The ideas of the useful and the good, above defined, give birth to all the varied forms of human industry, such as agriculture, the mechanic arts, commerce, etc. All are moving on to the realization of one great leading idea, the filling up of the capacities of man for pleasure and happiness.
THE SUMMUM BONUM.
There is one idea of reason, expressed by the words, the great good, the summum bonum, and the to calon, about which philosophers have long disputed, and in respect to which, they have been about equally divided in opinion. The question may be thus put: When we think of ourselves, or of the universe at large, what is that state to which our nature is correlated, as preferable to any other, actual or conceivable?
Some have placed the great good in happiness merely. To this position, however, we find that our nature is not exclusively correlated. If happiness were the only thing to which our nature is correlated, as in itself most to be desired, if happiness exists, we should be totally indifferent in respect to the means, or conditions of its existence. We are not pleased, but pained at the thought, for example, that perfect happiness should be associated with great wickedness.
Others, in departing from this idea, have placed the great good, in virtue. To this position, also, we find that our nature is not correlated. If virtue is the only thing that the mind regards as good, it would be indifferent in respect to the condition in which it should exist; whether, for example, the virtuous agent were happy or miserable. We are pained, on the other hand, at the thought, that virtuous beings should not be happy. Happiness our intelligence affirms to be the right of the pure and virtuous.
The true solution is, no doubt, to be found in the blending of the two above given, or, as Cousin expresses it, "In the connection and harmony of virtue and happiness as merited by it." If we conceive of a state of perfect virtue, associated with perfect happiness, this conception contains a realization of our idea of the summum bonum. Every department of our nature is correlated to that idea. We can conceive of no state so much to be desired as this. Nor can we perceive any element in this state to which the laws of our being do not fully respond.
IDEAS OF LIBERTY AND NECESSITY.
These ideas, like those of right and wrong, are opposites. The elements entering into one, are excluded from the other. The question is, What are the characteristics which separate and distinguish one of these ideas from the other? In answer, I would remark, that they represent two entirely distinct and opposite relations, which may be supposed to exist between an antecedent and its consequent. The first is this: The antecedent being given, but one consequent is possible, and that must arise. This relation we designate by the term necessity. The second relation is, the antecedent being given, either of two or more consequents are possible, and consequently, when any one does arise, either of the others might arise in its stead.
IDEA OF LIBERTY REALIZED ONLY IN THE ACTION OF THE WILL.
The relation between all antecedents and consequents, with the exception of motives and acts of will, are conceived by the intelligence as necessary. If the idea of liberty is not realized in the action of the will, it exists in the intelligence without an object, or any element in any object corresponding to it, in the universe.
CHRONOLOGICAL ANTECEDENTS OF THESE IDEAS.
No idea of reason does or can exist in the mind, without the appearance of some phenomena, through which it is revealed. The existence of the idea of liberty can be accounted for only on the supposition of the appearance in consciousness of the element of liberty in the action of the will. In all other phenomena of which the mind is conscious, the element of necessity appears. The appearance of these phenomena, then, are the chronological antecedents of the ideas of liberty and necessity.
IDEA OF THE BEAUTIFUL AND SUBLIME.
All men agree in pronouncing some objects beautiful, and some sublime, and others the opposite. By many philosophers, the beautiful and sublime are contemplated as simple emotions. Some suppose, that all objects are to the mind originally alike in this respect, that they are unadapted to awaken any such emotions in the mind, and that these feelings come to be connected with particular objects by accidental association. Pleasing emotions are from some cause awakened in the mind. While in this state, we perceive, we will suppose, a rose. These emotions are thus associated with that object, so that when it is perceived again, they re-appear. Hence, not because the rose is in itself more beautiful than any other object, but on account of the feelings thus associated with it, it is ever after regarded as beautiful. Now to this theory there exists this insuperable objection. Accidental association can never account for the absolute universality of judgment which exists among mankind, in respect to particular objects. Why, for example, do all the world agree in pronouncing the rose and lily more beautiful than the poppy or sunflower? Accidents never produce perfect uniformity.
Others suppose, that there are in the mind ideas of reason represented by the terms beautiful and sublime, and that objects are referred to one or the other, as they present corresponding characteristics. I will now present certain considerations designed to show, that this last is the true conception.
CONSIDERATION INDICATING THE EXISTENCE IN THE MIND OF IDEAS OF REASON, DESIGNATED BY THE TERMS BEAUTIFUL AND SUBLIME.
One fact which has a very important bearing upon this question, strikes the mind at first view. It is this: No human form or countenance is regarded by any person as perfect. How can this fact be accounted for, except on the supposition, that every such judgment is based upon a comparison of the external object, with an idea more perfect, existing, in the mind itself?
Again, the ancient sculptors and painters, when they attempted to give to the world, what all men would alike regard as the forms of perfect beauty, copied after no one living model; but took from all the forms of beauty in the world around them, those parts which were most beautiful, and from these combined new forms more beautiful than any realities actually existing. Does not this show, that they were endeavoring to realize, not the forms of beauty actually existing in the universe around them, but an idea in their own minds more perfect than these forms?
With this supposition also, and with this only, consists the fact, that the pleasure derived from the contemplation of certain forms of beauty is permanent, and becomes more intense, the more intimate and protracted our acquaintance with them; while the pleasure derived from the contemplation of other forms ceases on a protracted and intimate acquaintance. The reason of this obviously is, that the first-mentioned forms correspond very nearly, in all their arts, to the ideal in the mind. An intimate acquaintance with the others, however, gives us a knowledge of their defects, and in time destroys the pleasure which we felt when those defects were not perceived.
I will present one other consideration bearing upon the subject, which I regard as perfectly decisive. The particular elements which mark objects as beautiful or sublime, do in fact correspond with fundamental ideas. In respect to the sublime, all agree in fixing upon the infinite as the chief source of emotions of sublimity. In finite objects one element only is correlated to these emotions, that of vastness.
The characteristics of the beautiful are determinate form, regularity, uniformity, and variety. A waving, instead of a crooked line, a line realizing the ideas of uniformity and variety, has universally been fixed upon, as the line of beauty and grace. Now that which proceeds according to fundamental ideas, must be itself the representative of such ideas.
OBJECTION TO THE UNIVERSALITY OF THESE IDEAS.
An objection to the principle above elucidated, to wit, the different standards of beauty adopted by different nations, and by the same nations, at different periods, has sometimes been adduced. In reply, the following considerations are presented as deserving special attention:
1. It may be questioned whether the savage when he paints and tattoos his form, and the civilized person when he adorns his with the ornaments of civilized society, are endeavoring to realize the same idea. The one may be aiming to realize the idea of the beautiful, and the other (the savage), that of the terrible. The same holds true of architecture. The prominent idea in the Grecian style is the beautiful. That in the Gothic is the grand, the solemn, the sublime. The former and the latter then, had not different standards of beauty. They were aiming to realize different ideas.
2. While the idea may exist alike in all minds, the ideal, that is, the form in which the idea shall be embodied, may exist in different minds, and among mankind at different periods, in different degrees of development. Consequently the forms in which they will embody the idea will be various.
3. In contemplating particular forms of beauty, in which many defects of course exist along with the beautiful, these may be mistaken for the particular features which are the source of the pleasurable emotions felt under these circumstances. These defects then will be copied instead of the actual beauties.
4. But in the midst of all this apparent variety, there is a more general agreement than is commonly supposed; an agreement that is fundamental to the inquiry before us. Introduce men of all ages, and of every nation into the same family, and ask them which of the children in that particular family is the most beautiful, and you will find but little diversity in their judgments, and no diversity which is not perfectly consistent with the supposition of a common ideal in their minds, while the striking coincidence in their judgments can be explained on no other supposition.
5. There are actual forms of beauty, in respect to which all men do agree. The most perfect specimens of ancient sculpture and painting may be adduced as an illustration. Also forms of beauty in the world around us; as, the rose and the lily. Such circumstances we should find it difficult to explain on any other supposition than the one before us.
CHRONOLOGICAL ANTECEDENTS OF THESE IDEAS.
The condition of the development of the idea of beauty and of sublimity in the mind, is the perception of the elements of the beautiful and sublime in some external object. In the divine mind, these ideas, among others, existed eternally as the prototypes after which creation was formed and moulded. The human intelligence is so constituted, that, in the presence of objects in the conformation of which the divine idea is more or less nearly realized, the same idea is awakened in the mind of man. This idea then becomes the standard by which the external object is characterized as beautiful, grand, or sublime.
ILLUSTRATION FROM COUSIN.
Cousin thus beautifully explains the origin of the idea of beauty in the mind: "The idea of the beautiful is equally inherent in the mind of man, as that of the just and the good. Interrogate yourselves, when a vast and tranquil sea, when mountains of harmonious proportions, when the manly or graceful forms of men and women, are present to your view, or some trait of heroic devotion, to your recollection. Once impressed with the idea of the beautiful, man seizes, disengages, extends, develops and purifies it in his thought, and by the assistance of this idea, which external objects have suggested to him, he re-examines these same objects, and finds them inferior to the idea which they themselves have suggested."
IDEA OF HARMONY.
The remarks and illustrations above presented, pertaining to the ideas of the beautiful and sublime, are equally applicable to that of harmony. The ear trieth sounds, as the eye doth form and color. In harmony words and sound are arranged according to fundamental ideas, just as other elements are in the beautiful and sublime. That this is the true application of the subject will appear, I think, from the following considerations:
1. When highly excited by musical performances, those who attentively watch the operations of their own minds, cannot fail to notice, that under such circumstances they uniformly conceive of the same pieces as performed infinitely better; and that it is this conception which constitutes the main source of delight.
2. Persons in whose minds the principle of harmony is most fully developed, enjoy an exquisite piece of music quite as highly, when reading it alone, in the absence of all musical sounds, as when hearing it performed by the best trained choir, clearly showing that the idea in the mind far surpasses realities without.
3. Skillful performers on the organ or piano, who have lost the faculty of hearing, enjoy these instruments no less than before. I recollect to have read of a celebrated musician in Germany, who in his old age lost his hearing entirely. Yet, as his fingers would run over the keys of his piano, the instrument used being (a fact unknown to him) totally destitute of power to produce any sound whatever, he would rise in his feelings to perfect ecstasy of delight. In his own mind there was harmony deep and profound. It was harmony in idea.
4. The principles of harmony are all found to be reducible to mathematical formulas. These principles are not deduced, in the first instance, from observation, irrespective of fundamental ideas. Such ideas must first be developed, before the principles of harmony can be understood.
We are now prepared for a definition of poetry, properly so called. A mere rhythmical jingle of words at the end of lines of a given length, does not constitute poetry, according to the true signification of the term. Nor have I been satisfied with the popular definitions of the subject which I have met with. I will present, as an example, that given by Coleridge: "A poem is that species of composition which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth; and from all other species (having this object in common with it) it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole as is compatible with a distinct gratification from each component part." The great objection to this definition is, that many prose, as well as poetical compositions, would fall under it. I will now propose another and a different definition. Poetry, or more properly, perhaps, a poem, is the creations of the imagination embodied in language arranged in conformity to the idea of harmony. I leave the definition to speak for itself.
IDEA OF TRUTH.IDEA DEFINED.
Another fundamental idea of reasonan idea which controls the intelligence in all its movementsis the idea of truth. The term truth may be contemplated objectively and subjectively. Objectively, it comprehends and expresses all realities, whatever they may be. Subjectively it designates an intellectual conception in harmony with the object of the conception.
CHRONOLOGICAL ANTECEDENT OF THIS IDEA.
The chronological antecedent of this idea, or the condition of its development by the reason, is the perception of phenomena, and the consequent development of the idea of substance. Then the great question, "What is truth?" becomes the leading idea in the intelligence.
THE IDEA OF LAW,LAW DEFINED.
Among the most fundamental of all ideas of reason is that of law. Law, in its most general acceptation, is defined as a rule of action, and in thought and fact, takes on two forms,physical or natural, and moral; the former comprising the rule, or rules, in conformity to which the physical powers in nature do act, and the latter those in conformity to which moral agents are required to act. Natural law is a rule of action; moral law, on the other hand, is a rule for action.
LAW, SUBJECTIVE AND OBJECTIVE.
Law, then, may be contemplated in two points of light,subjective, and objective. In the first sense, it is an idea, in which powers are contemplated as arranged relatively to each other, so that their mutual action and reaction shall produce results in correspondence to a certain end, conceived of, and chosen by the mind. In the second sense, it is the existence, arrangement, and consequent action of these powers, in harmony with that idea.
CONCLUSION FROM THE ABOVE.
We come to this conclusion: that whenever powers act in conformity with law,powers whose arrangements take form in time, they are acting in obedience to some idea existing in some intelligent mind. To illustrate this, let us suppose an army of one hundred thousand men all dressed and equipped alike, arranged in a given order, and all performing perfectly harmonious motions and evolutions. You here perceive the presence and all-prevading influence of law. Is it possible to conceive all this, and not suppose this law to be some idea in some intelligent minda mind that comprehends all the parts, and assigns to each part its position, etc.? If this could not be supposed of intelligent powers much less could we suppose a similar action of necessary and unintelligent ones. The grand problem, then, the solution of which is the final object and distinctive character of philosophy, when once solved, leads the mind to the direct apprehension and contemplation of the infinite,of God, whose creative idea is the law of all existences. The problem referred to is this: "For all that exists conditionally (i. e. the existence of which is inconceivable except under the condition of its dependency on some other as its antecedent) to find a ground that is unconditional and absolute, and thereby to reduce the aggregate of human knowledge to a system." Now, this ground can be found in nothing but in the mind of God.
CHRONOLOGICAL ANTECEDENT TO THIS IDEA.
As mind wakes into conscious existence, and contemplates the action of the powers of nature within and around it, it at once perceives all things existing and acting as a means to an end. Everywhere diversity blended with harmony, presents itself. Now this presentation of the powers of nature is the chronological antecedent of the idea of law in the reason. Hence the great inquiry ever after imposed upon the intelligence; to wit, What are the laws in conformity to which they act? In this inquiry, the intelligence begins to "feel after" the infinite, and it never rests until it finds itself in the presence of "that creative idea, which appoints to each thing its position, and in consequence of that position, gives it its qualities, yea, its very existence as that particular thing."
NATURE OF PROOF.
One thought suggested by the preceding analysis demands special attention,the nature of proof. No proposition is, properly speaking, proved, till facts or arguments are adduced, which not only affirm its truth, but contradict every opposite proposition. How often is this fundamental law of evidence overlooked and disregarded in almost every department of human investigation! In theology, for example, how often is an hypothesis denominated a doctrine, which merely consists with a given class of passages of Holy Writ,assumed as absolutely affirmed by these passages, when, in reality, they equally consist with the contradictory hypothesis! Let it ever be borne in mind, that no passage or passages of Scripture prove any one doctrine which do not contradict every opposite doctrine. No facts affirm any one hypothesis which do not equally contradict every contradictory hypothesis.
FUNDAMENTAL AND SUPERFICIAL THINKERS.
Another suggestion which presents itself is this,the difference between superficial and fundamental thinkers. The former dwell only upon the surface of subjects, and having there found certain hypotheses which consist with mere exterior facts, they gravely decide that they "have heard the conclusion of the whole matter." They have discovered all that can be known, and "wisdom will die with them." The latter class, on the other hand, retire into the interior of subjects, and taking their position upon some great central facts, announce the existence and operations of universal laws, sustaining to exterior facts the relation of logical antecedents, and explaining them all. The reason why the positions assumed by such men are uniformly so impregnable is, that the error of every hypothesis in opposition to that which they have assumed, as well as the truth of their own, becomes visible at once, in the light of the great central facts on which they have taken their stand.
THE PHILOSOPHIC IDEA.
The philosophic idea realized, or objectively considered, is the reduction of phenomena to fundamental ideas,the reduction of the sum of human knowledge to a system; the finding, and the infinity of facts which are floating in the universe around us, some great central fundamental facts or laws, which are affirmed by all others, and explain them all.
This idea subjectively considered is a conception lying down in the depths of the reason, that all substances exist and act in harmony with such ideas. Hence the questions perpetually imposed upon the understanding and judgment, in all departments of human research; to wit, what are the laws which explain the facts here presented? Science is everywhere now on the high road tending to the realization of this great idea. Happy the eyes that shall be realized.
IDEA OF SCIENCE DEFINED.
The idea of science, which of course is a pure conception of reason, is knowledge reduced to fundamental ideas and principles; or the properties and relations of objects, systematically evolved in the light of such ideas and principles. Thus in geometry, we have the properties and relations of particular objects systematically evolved in the light of axioms and postulates, which are, in reality, fundamental ideas of reason. Whenever this end is accomplished, in reference to any phenomena, or objects, then we have the scientific idea realized.
When the axioms, postulates, and definitions are all alike pure conceptions of reason, and when the judgment evolves the properties and relations of the objects of such definitions in the light of such axioms and postulates, then we have what are denominated pure sciences. Such is geometry, and the mathematics generally.
When the axioms and postulates are ideas or principles of reason, and when the definitions pertain to phenomena or objects contingent and relative, as in natural philosophy, and when the judgment evolves the relations and properties of such objects in the light of such ideas and postulates, then we have mixed sciences.
Conscience is that function of reason which pertains to the ideas of right and wrong, of obligation, of merit and demerit, etc. It is a testifying function of reason, pertaining to the relation which ought to exist between the action of the will and the idea of right and wrong.
AUTHORITY OF CONSCIENCE.
1. Conscience always commands us in the name of God. Her mandates are regarded as the voice of God speaking within us, and when disregarded, we always hold ourselves amenable to the divine tribunal. Conscience in the heathen is not only a law, but a law of God; and so it is regarded by them.
2. As conscience is the voice of God within us, it follows that it can never, in its appropriate exercise, put right for wrong, and the opposite. In other words, no man acts conscientiously when wittingly doing wrong, nor in opposition to conscience, when wittingly doing right. "Conscience," as Coleridge remarks, "in the absence of direct inspiration, bears the same relation to the will of God, that a chronometer does to the position of the sun in a cloudy day."
In opposition to the principle above stated, it is very common to refer to the contradictory standards of moral obligation adopted by different nations, communities, and individuals. The following considerations are deserving of special attention in reply to this objection:
1. To suppose that the heathen, for example, in all their rights and ceremonies, are endeavoring to realize the idea of right, is as absurd as to suppose that the savage is endeavoring to realize the idea of the beautiful, when he is tattooing his body.
2. The Bible affirms that the heathen are actuated by fear and not by conscience: "And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
3. The judgment that a thing is not wrong, is often mistaken for the testimony of conscience to its rightness.
4. When a reference is made to the intention, the only appropriate object of conscience, we find a more universal agreement among men than is generally supposed, an agreement of such a nature as to demand the truth of the above proposition, while every shade of difference may be explained in perfect consistency with it.
TERM CONSCIENCE AS USED IN THE SCRIPTURES.
A good conscience, as the words are there used, is the testimony of the mind to the agreement of the will, or moral action, with the moral law. An evil conscience is the opposite, the testimony of the mind to the fact of the disagreement of the action of the will with that law.
RELATION OF REASON TO OTHER INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES.
The relation of reason to other functions of the intelligence may now be readily pointed out. Of the phenomena, or truths affirmed by those faculties, reason gives the logical antecedents. This is its exclusive function. The judgment, in all its operations, is exclusively analytic. It simply evolves what is embraced in the affirmations of the other faculties. Reason is synthetic. It always adds to the affirmation of the other faculties something not embraced in the affirmation. The element added, however, always sustains to that to which it is added a fixed relation, that of logical antecedent. Thus when sense or consciousness affirms phenomena, reason adds to the affirmation an element not embrace in it, that of substance, an element, however, staining to the affirmation a fixed relation, that of logical antecedent.
REASON COMMON TO ALL MEN.
Reason also exists in all men, and equally in all who posses it at all. This is evident from the fact that if an individual knows a truth of reason at all, he does and must know it absolutely. There are no degrees in such knowledge. The difference, and only difference, between men lies in their perceptive and reflective faculties. Newton differed from other men not because he knew, any more absolutely than they, that events suppose a cause, that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another, etc., but because he possessed powers of perception and reflection which enabled him to see (what they could not discover) the qualities involved in such truths.