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have doubled since his time: all the ill is reduced to a small number of peaceable readers, who have examined the arguments of Spinosa in their closets, and have written for or against them works but little known.
For yourselves, it is of little consequence to have caused to be printed ad usum Delphini'the atheism of Lucretius (as you have already been reproached with doing) no trouble, no scandal, has ensued from it so leave Spinosa to live in peace in Holland. Lucretius was left in repose at Rome.
But if there appears among you any new book, the ideas of which shock your own (supposing you have any) or of which the author may be of a party contrary to yours; or what is worse, of which the author may not be of any party at all, then you cry out 'Fire!' and let all be noise, scandal, and uproar in your small corner of the earth. There is an abominable man who has printed, that if we had no hands we could not make shoes nor stockings. Devotees cry out, furred doctors assemble, alarms multiply from college to college, from house to house, and why? For five or six pages, about which there will no longer be a question at the end of three months. Does a book displease you? refute it. Does it tire you? read it not.
Oh! say you to me, the books of Luther and Calvin have destroyed the Roman catholic religion in one half of Europe? Why say not also, that the books of the patriarch Photius have destroyed this Roman religion in Asia, Africa, Greece, and Russia?
You deceive yourself very grossly, when you think that you have been ruined by books. The empire of Russia is two thousand leagues in extent, and there are not six men who are aware of the points disputed by the Greek and Latin church. If the monk Luther, John Calvin, and the vicar Zuinglius, had been content with writing, Rome would still subjugate all the states that it has lost; but these people and their adherents ran from town to town, from house to house, exciting the women, and were maintained by princes. -Fury which tormented Amata, and which, according to -Virgil, whipped her like a top, was not more turbulent.
Know, that one enthusiastic, factious, ignorant, supple, vehement capuchin, the emissary of some ambitious monks, preaching, confessing, communicating, and caballing, will much sooner overthrow a province, than a hundred authors can enlighten it. It was not the KoIran which caused Mahomet to succeed: it was Mahomet who caused the success of the Koran.
No-Rome has not been vanquished by books; it has been so by having caused Europe to revolt at its rapacity; by the public sale of indulgences; for having insulted men, and wishing to govern them like domestic animals; for having abused its power to such an excess that it is astonishing a single village remains to it. Henry VIII. Elizabeth, the duke of Saxe, the landgrave of Hesse, the princes of Orange, the Condés and Colignis, have done all, and books nothing. Trumpets have never gained battles, nor caused any walls to fall except those of Jericho.
You fear books, as certain small cantons fear violins. Let us read, and let us dance-these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
THE following passage is found in the "System de la Nature," London edition, page 84:-" We ought to define life, before we reason concerning soul; but I hold it to be impossible to do so."
On the contrary, I think a definition of life very possible. Life is organization with the faculty of sensation. Thus all animals are said to live. Life is attributed to plants, only by a species of metaphor or catechresis. They are organized and vegetate; but being incapable of sensation, do no not properly possess life.
We may however live without actual sensation; for we feel nothing in a complete apoplexy, in a lethargy, or in a sound sleep without dreams, but yet possess the capacity of sensation. Many persons, it is too well known, have been buried alive, like Roman vestals, and it is what happens after every battle, especially in cold countries. A soldier lies without motion, and breath
less, who, if he were duly assisted, might recover; but to settle the matter speedily, they bury him.
What is this capacity of sensation? Formerly, life and soul meant the same thing, and the one was no better understood than the other; at bottom, is it more understood at present?
In the sacred books of the Jews, soul is always used for life.
"Dixit etiam Deus, producant aquæ reptile animæ viventis."*
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature which hath a living soul.
"Creavit Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem, atque motabilem quam produxerant aquæ.'
And God created great dragons (tannitiim) and every living soul that moveth, which the waters brought forth,
It is difficult to explain the creation of these watery dragons, but such is the text, and it is for us to submit to it.
"Producat terra animam viventem in genere suo, jumenta et reptilia.”†
Let the earth produce the living soul after its kind, cattle, and creeping things.
"Et in quibus est anima vivens, ad vescendum." And to everything wherein there is a living soul, (every green herb) for meat.
"Et inspiravit in faciem ejus spiraculum vitæ, et factus est homo in animam viventem."§
And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
Sanguinem enim animarum vestrarum requiram de manu cunctarum betiarum, et de manu hominis," &c. I shall require back your souls from the hands of man and beast.
Souls here evidently signify lives. The sacred text certainly did not mean, that beasts had swallowed the souls of men, but their blood, which is their life; and
Gen. i, 20, † Ibid i. 24.
+ Ibid i. 30.
§ Ibid ii. 7.
as to the hands given by this text to beasts, it signifies their claws.
In short, more than two hundred passages may be quoted in which the soul is used for the life, both of beasts and man; . but not one which explains either life or soul.
If life be the faculty of sensation, whence this faculty? In reply to this question, all the learned quote systems, and these systems are destructive of each other. But why anxious to ascertain the source of sensation? It is as difficult to conceive the power which binds all things to a common centre, as to conceive the cause of animal sensation. The direction of the needle towards the pole, the paths of comets, and a thousand other phenomena, are equally incomprehensible.
Properties of matter exist, the principle of which will never be known to us; and that of sensation, without which there cannot be life, is among the number. Is it possible to live without experiencing sensation? No. An infant which dies in a lethargy that has lasted from its birth, has existed, but not lived.
Let us imagine an idiot unable to form complex ideas, but who possesses sensation; he certainly lives without thinking, forming simple ideas from his sensations.
Thought therefore is not necessary to life, since this idiot has lived without thinking.
Hence, certain thinkers think that thought is not of the essence of man. They maintain that many idiots who think not, are men; and so decidedly men, as to produce other men, without the power of constructing a single argument.
The doctors who maintain the essentiality of thought, reply that these idiots have certain ideas from their
Bold reasoners rejoin, that a well-taught mind possesses more consecutive ideas and is very superior to these idiots, whence has sprung a grand dispute upon the soul, of which we shall speak-possibly at too great a length-in the article SOUL.
PERHAPS there never was a more sage, a more methodical genius, never a more accurate logician, than Locke; yet he was by no means a great mathematician. He could never submit to the fatigue of calculations, nor endure the dry and barren nature of mathematical truths, which do not at first present the mind with any sensible image; and no man was ever a more decisive evidence, that it is possible to have a geometrical mind, without the assistance of geometry. Before his time, great philosophers had decided positively in what the soul of man consisted. But as they knew nothing at all about the manner, they were just as might be expected, all of different opinions.
In Greece, the cradle both of arts and errors, and in which the strength and weakness of the human mind have been so strikingly displayed, men reasoned, as we ourselves do now, upon the subject of the soul. The divine Anaxagoras-to whom an altar was raised, for having taught mankind that the sun was larger than the Pelopennesus, that snow was black, and that the heavens were composed of stone-asserted that the soul was an aerial spirit, but nevertheless immortal. Diogenes, a different man from him who became a cynic, after having been a dealer in base coin, asserted, that the soul was a portion of the very substance of God himself; an idea which was at least brilliant and dazzling. Epicurus composed it of parts, like body. Aristotle, who has been explained in innumerable ways, because he was utterly unintelligible, believed, if we refer for his belief to some of his disciples, that the understanding of all men was one and the same substance. The divine Plato, master of the divine Aristotle, and the divine Socrates, master of the divine Plato, pronounced the soul corporeal and eternal. The demon of Socrates had undoubtedly informed him what it was. There are, indeed, people who pretend that a man who boasted of having a familiar genius, must inevitably have been a little foolish, or a little