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and falsehood different and oppofite? Is
It is difficult, perhaps impoffible, to give a logical definition of Truth. But we fhall endeavour to give fuch a defcription of it, as may make others understand what we mean by the word. The definitions of former writers are not fo clear, nor fo unexceptionable, as could be wifhed. Thefe therefore we shall overlook, without feeking either to explain or to correct them; and fhall fatisfy ourfelves with taking notice of fome of the mental phenomena that attend the perception of truth. This feems to be the fafeft way of introducing the fubject.
Η πρώσθ ̓ ἕναςον ὡς ἔχει τὸ εἶναι, οὕτω και τῆς ἀληθείας.
N hearing these propofitions,-I ex-
Ariftot. Metaph. lib. 2. cap. 1.
acquainted with all nature, in all its parts, and in all its laws *.
If I be afked, what I mean by the nature of things, I cannot otherwife explain myself, than by faying, that there is in my mind something which induces me to think, that every thing existing in nature, is determined to exift, and to exist after a certain manner, in confequence of eftablished laws; and that whatever is agreeable to thofe laws is agrecable to the na ture of things, becaufe by thofe laws the nature of all things is determined. Of thofe laws I do not pretend to know any thing, except fo far as they seem to be intimated to me by my own feelings, and by the fuggeftions of my own understanding. But these feelings and fuggestions are fuch, and affect me in fuch a manner, that I cannot help receiving them, and trusting in them, and believing that their intimations are not fallacious, but fuch as I fhould approve if I were perfectly acquainted with every thing in the universe, and fuch as I may approve, and admit of,
*This remark, when applied to truth in general, is fubject to certain limitations; for which fee part 2. chap. 1. fect. 3.
and regulate my conduct by, without dan-
It is not eafy on this fubject to avoid identical expreffions. I am not certain
that I have been able to avoid them. And perhaps I might have expreffed my meaning more fhortly and more clearly, by faying, that I account That to be truth which the constitution of my nature determines me to believe, and That to be falfehood which the conftitution of my nature determines me to difbelieve. Believing and difbelieving are fimple acts of the mind; I can neither define nor describe them in words; and therefore the reader must judge of their nature from his own experience. We often believe what we afterwards find to be falfe; but while belief continues, we think it true; when we discover its falfity, we believe it no longer.
Hitherto we have ufed the word belief to denote that act of the mind which attends the perception of truth in general. But truths are of different kinds; fome are certain, others only probable; and we ought not to call that act of the mind which attends the perception of certainty, and
and that which attends the perception of probability, by one and the fame name, Some have called the former conviction, and the latter affent. All convictions are equally ftrong; but affent admits of innumerable degrees, from moral certainty, which is the highest degree, downward, through the several stages of opinion, to that fufpenfe of judgement which is called doubt.
We may, without abfurdity, fpeak of probable truth, as well as of certain truth, Whatever a rational being is determined, by the conftitution of his nature, to admit as probable, may be called probable truth; the acknowledgement of it is as univerfal as rational nature, and will be as permanent. But, in this inquiry, we propofe to confine ourselves chiefly to that kind of truth which may be called certain,. which enforceth our conviction; and the belief of which, in a found mind, is not tinctured with any doubt or uncertainty.
The investigation and perception of truth is commonly afcribed to our rational faculties: and these have by fome been reduced to two; Reafon, and Judgement; the former being fuppofed to be converfant about certain truths, the latter chiefly