« PreviousContinue »
her to dance at the opera, to play at a public concert, or to put pictures in the Exhibition, because she has learned music, dancing, and drawing. The great use of her knowledge will be, that it contributes to her private happiness. She may make it public; but it is not the principal object which the friends of female education have in view. Among men, the few who write bear no comparison to the many who read. We hear most of the former indeed, because they are, in general, the most ostentatious part of literary men; but there are innumerable men, who, without ever laying themselves before the public, have made use of literature to add to the strength of their understandings, and to improve the happiness of their lives. After all, it may be an evil for ladies to be talked of: but we really think those ladies who are talked of, only as Miss Edgeworth, Mrs. Barbauld, and Mrs. Hamilton are talked of, may bear their misfortunes with a very great degree of Christian patience; and such singular examples of ill fortune may, perhaps, render the school of adversity a little more popular than it is at present.
Their exemptions from all the necessary business of life, is one of the most powerful motives for the improvement of education in women. Lawyers and physicians have in their professions a constant motive to exertion; if you neglect their education, they must, in a certain degree, educate themselves by their commerce with the world; they must learn caution, accuracy, and judgment, because they must incur responsibility. But if you neglect to educate the mind of a woman, by the speculative difficulties which occur in literature, it can never be educated at all; if you do not effectually rouse it by education, it must remain for ever languid. Uneducated men may escape intellectual degradation; uneducated women cannot. They have nothing to do; and if they come untaught from the schools of educa tion, they will never be instructed in the school of
(To be continued.)
(Continued from vol. ii. p. 57.)
THERE is no vice of argument into which the learned fall more easily, than into this of false enumeration, and of not duly considering all the manners how things may be, or be effected; which makes them conclude rashly, either that it is not, because it is not in such a manner, though it may be after another manner; or else that it is after such or such a manner, when it may be after another manner than they have yet thought of.
We may find several of these defective arguments in the proofs upon which Gassendus establishes the ground of his philosophy, viz. that vacuum is interspersed between the parts of matter, which he calls disseminated vacuum. And I am the more willing to produce them, in regard that Gassendus having been a famous person in his time, and of great knowledge in the most curious parts of learning, the errors and failings which are to be seen scattered in many great volumes of his works, published after his death, are therefore the more worthy to be known and discussed; whereas it would be to no purpose to take notice of the errors so frequent in authors of no account.
The first argument which Gassendus employs to prove his disseminated vacuum, and which he would make us believe to be as certain as mathematical demonstration, is this:
If there were not a vacuum, but that all space were filled with bodies, motion would be impossible, and the world would be a mere heap of stiff, inflexible, and immovable matter. For the world being all full, no body could be moved but it must go into the place of another. Thus if the body A be moved, it must displace another body B, at least equal to it, and B, removing, must displace another. Now this can happen only in two ways: one, that the displacing of bodies must extend itself to
infinity, which is ridiuclous and impossible: the second, that the motion must be circular, that so the last body removed may supply the place of A.
Hitherto no imperfect enumeration appears; and it is true, moreover, that it is a ridiculous thing to imagine, that one body being removed, other bodies by removing, successively displace one another to infinity: but it is held that the motion is circular. and that the last body, being removed, possesses the place of the first, which is A, and so the whole is full. And this is that which Gassendus undertakes to refute by the following argument. The first body removed, which is A, cannot be moved if the last, which is X, do not move. Now X cannot move, for that if it moves it must possess the place of A, which is not yet void; and so X not being able to move, neither can A; for which reason the whole must be immoveable. All which argument is founded only upon this supposition, that the body X, which is immediately before A, cannot be removed unless the place of A be void beforehand, when it be gins to move. So that before the instant that it possesses that place, there may be said to be another in which it is a vacuum.
But this supposition is false and imperfect; for there is yet another case wherein it is very possible that X may be moved; that is to say, at the same instant that it possesses the place of A, A may quit that place, and, in that case, there will be no inconvenience if A pushes B forward, and B thrusts forward C till they come to X, and X at the same time possesses the place of A. For by this means there will be a motion, and yet no va
Now, that it is possible that a body may possess the place of another body at the same instant that this other body leaves it, is a thing which we are obliged to confess, whatever hypothesis we may adopt, provided only that we admit the motion of some continued matter. For example, in two parts of a staff, immediately contiguous, it is evident that at the same time that the place is quitted by the first, it is possessed by the second, and that there is no instant wherein there can be said to be a vacuum.
But this is more clearly shown by an iron circle that turns about its centre: for then, at the same instant, every part possesses the space which was quitted by that which went before, with that celerity that will admit no vacuum, so much as to be imagined. Now if this be possible in a circle of iron, shall it not be the same in a circle partly of wood and partly of air? And therefore the body A, supposed to be of wood, pushing forward and displacing the body B, supposed to be of air, why may not B displace another, and that another, to X, which shall enter into the place of A, at the same instant that A quits it.
It is clear then, that the said error in the reasoning of Gassendus proceeds from hence, that Gassendus thought that one body could not possess the place of another, unless the place were void beforehand, and in a preceding instant; not considering that there was the same instant of quitting and possessing.
To judge of a thing which only agrees with it by accident.
This Sophism is called in schools fallacia accidentis, the fallacy of the accident, when we draw an absolute conclusion, simple and without restriction, from what is true only by accident. This is that which causes some people to exclaim against antimony, because that, being ill applied, it produces bad effects: and that others attribute to eloquence all those bad effects which the abuse of it produces; and to physic, the faults of ignorant doctors.
We fall into this vicious way of arguing when we take simple occasions for real causes; as if we should accuse the Christian religion for having been the cause of the massacre of so many multitudes, who rather chose to suffer death than renounce Christ; whereas, we are not to impute those murders to the Christian religion, nor to the constancy of the martyrs, but only to the injustice and cruelty of the pagans.
We also find a considerable example of this sophism in the ridiculous arguments of the Epicureans, who concluded that the gods had human shape, because that only man is indued with reason,
The gods, say they, are most happy. None can be happy without virtue. There is no virtue without reason. And reason is found no where but in human form: we must therefore confess the gods to be of human shape.
But they were strangely blind not to see that the substance which thinks and reasons, may be joined to the body. 'Tis not human shape that causes thought and reason in man. It being ridiculous to imagine that thought and reason depend upon a man's having a nose, a mouth, two cheeks, two arms, two hands, two feet, &c. And therefore it was a childish sophism of those philosophers to conclude, that there could be no reason but in human shapes; it being only joined by accident to human shape in man.
To pass from sense divided to sense composed, or from sense composed to sense divided.
The one of these sophisms is called fallacy of composition, and the other fallacy of division, which are both apprehended better by examples.
Jesus Christ saith in his gospel, speaking of his miracles, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear. This cannot be true, while we take things separately and not conjointly, that is to say, in a sense divided, and not in a sense composed. For the blind see not while they are blind, neither do the deaf hear while they remain so; but only after they had recovered their sight and hearing by the miracles of Christ.
In the same sense it is said in scripture, that God justifies the wicked. Not that He accounts those for just who abide in their wickedness; but that, by his grace, he justifies those who were impious before.
On the other side, there are some propositions which are not true, but in a sense opposed to that which is the sense divided. As when St. Paul says, that slanderers, fornicators, and covetous men, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For it is not meant that none of those who are guilty of those vices shall be saved; but only those who remain impenitent, and obstinately go