Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

LONGEVITY

Discoberies

OP THE

were

art.

OF A REMARKABLE HIGHLANDER.

ANCIENTS AND MODERNS, In August, 1827, John Macdonald ex, pired in his son's house, in the Lawnmar

No. V, ket, at the advanced age of one hundred and seven years. He was born in Glen

Having examined what knowledge the Tinisdale, in the Isle of Skye, and, like the ancients had in logic and metaphysics, we other natives of that quarter, was bred to are now to consider with the same imparrural labour. Early one morning in his tiality, what general or particular discoyouth, when looking after his black cattle, veries they made in physics, astronomy, he was surprised by the sight of two ladies, mathematics, mechanics, and the other as he thought, winding slowly round a hill, sciences. and approaching the spot where he stood.. When they came up, they inquired for a OF BODIES THE INCORPOREALITY OF well or stream, where a drink of water THEIR ELEMENTS.-LEIBNITZ. could be obtained. He conducted them to

Although the distance may appear con. the “Virgin Well,” an excellent spring, siderable between metaphysics and phywhich was held in great reverence on ac- sics, yet an idea of their connection runs count of its being the scene of some super- through the whole system of Leibnitz. He stitious and legendary tales. When they founds this on the principle, employed long had quenched their thirst, one of the ladies rewarded Macdonald with a shilling, the ago by Archimedes, “ that there must be

a sufficient reason for every thing." Leibfirst silver coin of which he was possessed, nitz inquires, why bodies are extended in At their own request he escorted them to a length, breadth, and thickness. He holds, gentleman's house at some distance, and that to discover the origin of extension, we there, to his great surprise and satisfaction, must come at something unextended, and he learned that the two “ ladies

without parts; in short, at existences enFlora Macdonald and prince Charles Stew- tirely simple ; and he contends, that“ things

extended" could have had no existence, This was the proudest incident in Mac- but for a things entirely simple.” donald's patriarchal life; and, when sur The foundations of this system were, in rounded by his Celtic brethren, he used to

effect, long since laid by Pythagoras and dilate on all the relative circumstances with his disciples. Traces of it are in Strato of a sort of hereditary enthusiasm, and more Lampsacus, who succeeded Theophrastus than the common garrulity of age, He in the Lyceum ; in Democritus ; in Plato, afterwards turned joiner, and bore a con,

and those of his school, and in Sextus spicuous part in the building of the first Empiricus, who has even furnished entire protestant church which was erected in the island of North Uist. He came to Edin arguments to Leibnitz for establishing as the

necessity of seeking for the reason of comburgh twenty-three years before his death, and continued to work at his trade till hé pound things, in those which never had

external existence." Moderatus Gaditanus, was ninety-seven years of age,

in relation to the numbers of Pythagoras, Macdonald was a temperate, regular

says, “ Numbers are, so to speak, an assemliving man, and never paid a sixpence to a blage of units, a progressive multitude surgeon for himself, nor had an hour's sick- which arises from unity, and finds there its ness in the whole course of his life. He ultimate cause." And Hermias, expoundused to dance regularly on New-year's ing the doctrine of the Pythagoreans, says, day, along with some Highland friends, to that, according to them, the unit, or simthe bagpipe. On New-year's day, 1825, ple essence, was the origin and principle he danced a reel with the father, the son, of all things.” the grandson, and great-grandson, and was Sextus Empiricus deems it unworthy of in more than his usual spirits, His hearing a philosopher to advance, that what falls was nothing impaired, and till within thres under the notice of our senses, could be the weeks of his demise he could have threaded principle of all things; for things sensible the finest needle with facility, without ought to be derived from what is not so. glasses.*

Things compounded of other things cannot

possibly be themselves a principle; but . Scotsman, August, 1827,

what constitutes those things may. Those

who affirm that atoms, similar parts, parti- xi. 3. Through faith we understand that
cles, or those bodies which only are to be the worlds were framed by the word of
apprehended by the intellect itself, are the God, so that things which are seen were not
primary elements of all things, in one made of things which do appear.
respect say true, in another not. In so far

It
every

where appears that Leibnitz as they acknowledge for principles, only drew many of his notions from Plato; and such things as fall not under our senses, he defines his “ monads," just as Plato does they are right; but they are wrong in ap his ideas, så örtws őrta, “ things really exprehending those to be corporeal princi- isting.” An erudite German says, “I am ples : for as those bodies which fall not assured by one of my friends, who was under our senses, precede those which do, himself informed of it by a learned Italian, they themselves are preceded also by what who went to Hanover to satisfy an ardent is of another nature and as the letters are desire he had of being acquainted with Mr. not a discourse, though they go into the Leibnitz, and spent three weeks with him, composition of it, neither are the elements that this great man, at parting, said to him : of body, body: but since they must be Sir you have often been so good as to ineither corporeal or incorporeal, it follows, sinuate, that you looked upon me as a man that they are incorporeal.” To this end he of some knowledge. Now, sir, I'll show argues, that “ bodies are composed of in- you the sources whence I drew it all;' and corporeal principles, pot to be compre- immediately taking him by the hand, led hended but by the mind itself.”

him into his study, showing him all the To the same effect, Scipio Aquiliamus, books he had; which were Plato, Aristotle, treating of the opinion of Alcmæon, the Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, Euclid, ArchiPythagorean, concerning the principles of medes, Pliny, Seneca, and Cicero." things, reduces it to a syllogism.

( What

Leibnitz and Parmenides agree in these precedes body in the order of nature, is the particulars :principle of body; number is such a thing; 1. The existence and essence of things therefore number is the principle of body. are different. The second of these propositions is proved 2. The essence of things existent, is withthus :-Of two things, that is the first, out the things themselves. which may be conceived independent of 3. There are, in nature, similar and disthe oth

whilst that other cannot of it. similar things. Now number may be conceived independ 4. The similar are conceived, as in existently of body, but not body of number; ence essentially the same. wherefore number is antecedent to body in 5. Whatever exists is reducible to certain the order of nature."

classes, and specific forms. Marcilius Ficinus imputes to Plato the 6. All those forms have their existence same notion, and gives us the substance of in the unity; that is, in God; and hence that philosopher's thoughts.

“ The differ. the whole is one. ent species of all sorts of compounds may 7. Science consists in the knowledge, be traced out to something which in itself not of individuals, but of kinds or species. is uncompounded; as the boundaries of 8. This knowledge differs from that of body to a point, which has no boundary; things existing externally. pumbers to a unit, which consists not of 9. Forms or ideas, as they exist in God, numbers; and elements to what has nothing escape the observation of men. in it mixt or elementary." Marcilius Fici 10. Hence men perceive nothing pernus expresses the system in a few words. fectly. “ Compounds are reducible into things un 11. Our mental notions are but the compounded, and these again into what is shades or resemblances of ideas. still more simple.” One sees here those compounds of Leibnitz, which, when re OF ANIMATED NATURE.—BUFFON. duced to their simple parts, terminate in the Deity for their cause and source.

Buffon's theory respecting universal matPlotinus also affirms, that “there must ter, generation, and nutrition, so much rebe in bodies some principle, or substratum, sembles what was taught by some of the entirely different from any thing corporeal.

ancients, that it is difficult not to think that These quotations accord with passages his ideas drew their origin from that first in Plutarch concerning Heraclitus. There school. It appears indeed, that he had are passages in Stobæus, from Epicurus, Xenocrates, and Diodorus, to a similar pur- from seripture.

• Perhaps this principle derives further illustration port; and a remarkable one in Hebrews

“Io the beginning was the Word.'

John i. 1. ED:

attentively read the ancients, and knew animals. The bread we eat, and the other how to value them. He says himself, that aliments we take, turn themselves, accord“the ancients understood much better, and ing to the ancients, into hair, veins, arteries, made a greater progress in the natural history nerves, and all the other parts of our body; of animals and minerals, than we have because there are, in those aliments, the done. They abounded more in real obser- constituent parts of blood, nerves, bones, vations; and we ought to have made much hair, &c. which, uniting with one another, better advantage of their illustrations and make themselves by their coalition perceptiremarks." Yet Buffon does not seem to ble, which they were not before, because of have perceived the analogy which every their infinite littleness. where reigns between his system and that Empedocles believed, that matter had in of the ancients.

it a living principle, a subtile active fire, Anaxagoras thought that bodies were which put all in motion ; and this Buffon composed of small, similar, or homogeneous calls, by another name,“ organized matter, particles; that those bodies, however, ad- always active; or animated organic matter.' mitted a certain quantity of small particles According to Empedocles, “this matter that were heterogene, or of another kind; was distributed through the four elements, but that to constitute any body to be of a among which it had an uniting force to bind particular species, it sufficed, that it was them, and a separating to put them asuncomposed of a great number of small parti- der; for the small parts either mutually cles, similar and constitutive of that species. embraced, or repelled one another ; whence Different bodies were masses of particles nothing in reality perished, but every thing similar among themselves; dissimilar, how- was in perpetual vicissitude.” ever, relatively to those of any other body, Empedocles had a sentiment, which Bufor to the mass of small particles belonging fon follows, in the same terms; where he to a different species. Thus, the ancients says, that “the sexes contain all the small taught, that blood was formed of many parts analogous to the body of an animal, drops or particles, each of which had blood and necessary to its production.” in it; that a bone was formed of many Plotinus, investigating what might be small bones, which from their extreme lit- the reason of this sympathy and attraction tleness evaded our view; and these similar in nature, discovered it to proceed from parts they called oxolojispiras similaritates. such a “ harmony and assimilation of the Likewise, that nothing was properly liable parts, as bound them together when they to generation, or corruption, to birth, or to met,” or repelled them when they were death; generations of every kind, being no dissimilar; he says, that it is the variety of other than an assemblage of small particles these assimilations that concurs to the formconstituent of the kind ; and the destruction ation of an animal; and calls this binding, of a body being no other than the disunion or dissolving force, “ the magic of the uniof many small bodies of the same sort, verse." which always preserving a natural tendency Anaxagoras thought as Buffon does, that to reunite, produce again, by their conjunc- there is no preexistent seed, involving in. tion with other similar particles, other finite numbers of the same kind one within bodies of the same species. Vegetation and another; but an ever active organic matter, nutrition were but means employed by always ready so to adapt itself, as to assinature for the continuation of beings; thus, inilate, and render other things conformthe different juices of the earth being com able to that wherein it resides. The species posed of a coilection of innumerable small of animals and vegetables can never thereparticles intermixed, constituting the dif- fore exhaust themselves; but as long as an ferent parts of a tree or flower for example, individual subsists, the species will be take, according to the law of nature, differ- always new. It is as extensive now as it ent arrangements; and by the motion ori. was at the beginning, and all will subsist ginally impressed upon them, proceed till, of themselves, till they are annihilated by arriving at the places destined and proper the Creator. for them, they collect themselves and halt, It would be easy to show, that in morals to form all the different parts of that tree or and politics, as in physics, the most emiflower; in the same manner as many small neut' moderns have said nothing new. imperceptible leaves go to the formation of Hobbes has advanced nothing, but what he the leaves we see, many little parts of the found in the writings of the Grecian and fruits of different kinds to the composition Latin philosophers; and above all, in those of those which we eat; and so of the rest. of Epicurus. Montesquieu also assumes The same, with respect to the nutrition of from the ancients the principles of his sys.

" I am

6

who affirm that atoms, similar parts, parti- xi. 3. Through faith we understand that cles, or those bodies which only are to be the worlds were framed by the word of apprehended by the intellect itself, are the God, so that things which are seen were not primary elements of all things, in one made of things which do appear.' respect say true, in another not. In so far

It every where appears that Leibnitz as they acknowledge for principles, only drew many of his notions from Plato; and such things as fall not under our senses, he defines his “ monads,” just as Plato does they are right; but they are wrong in ap- his ideas, örtws õita, “ things really exprehending those to be corporeal princi- isting.” An erudite German says, ples : for as those bodies which fall not assured by one of my friends, who was under our senses, precede those which do, himself informed of it by a learned Italian, they themselves are preceded also by what who went to Hanover to satisfy an ardent is of another natureand as the letters are desire he had of being acquainted with Mr. not a discourse, though they go into the Leibnitz, and spent three weeks with him, composition of it, neither are the elements that this great man, at parting, said to him : of body, body : but since they must be Sir

you

have often been so good as to ineither corporeal or incorporeal, it follows, sinuate, that you looked upon me as a man that they are incorporeal. To this end he of some knowledge. Now, sir, I'll show argues, that “ bodies are composed of in- you the sources whence I drew it all;' and corporeal principles, not to be compre- immediately taking him by the hand, led hended but by the mind itself.”

him into his study, showing him all the To the same effect, Scipio Aquiliamus, books he had; which were Plato, Aristotle, treating of the opinion of Alcmæon, the Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, Euclid, ArchiPythagorean, concerning the principles of medes, Pliny, Seneca, and Cicero." things, reduces it to a syllogism.

bi What

Leibnitz and Parmenides agree in these precedes body in the order of nature, is the particulars :principle of body; number is such a thing; 1. The existence and essence of things Therefore number is the principle of body. are different. The second of these propositions is proved 2. The essence of things existent, is withthus :-Of two things, that is the first, out the things themselves. which may be conceived independent of 3. There are, in nature, similar and disthe other, whilst that other cannot of it.

similar things. Now number may be conceived independ 4. The similar are conceived, as in existently of body, but not body of number; ence essentially the same. wherefore number is antecedent to body in 5. Whatever exists is reducible to certain the order of nature."

classes, and specific forms. Marcilius Ficinus imputes to Plato the 6. All those forms have their existence same notion, and gives us the substance of in the unity; that is, in God; and hence that philosopher's thoughts.

“ The differ the whole is one. ent species of all sorts of compounds may

7. Science consists in the knowledge, be traced out to something which in itself not of individuals, but of kinds or species. is uncompounded; as the boundaries of 8. This knowledge differs from that of body to a point, which has no boundary; things existing externally., numbers to a unit, which consists not of 9. Forms or ideas, as they exist in God, numbers; and elements to what has nothing escape the observation of men. in it mixt or elementary." Marcilius Fici 10. Hence men perceive nothing pernus expresses the system in a few words. fectly. “ Compounds are reducible into things un 11. Our mental notions are but the compounded, and these again into what is shades or resemblances of ideas. still more simple.” One sees here those compounds of Leibnitz, which, when re OF ANIMATED NATURE.-BUFFON. duced to their simple parts, terminate in the Deity for their cause and source.

Buffon's theory respecting universal matPlotinus also affirms, that “there must ter, generation, and nutrition, so much rebe in bodies some principle, or substratum, sembles what was taught by some of the entirely different from any thing corporeal.

ancients, that it is difficult not to think that These quotations accord with passages

his ideas drew their origin from that first in Plutarch concerning Heraclitus. There school. It appears indeed, that he had are passages in Stobæus, from Epicurus, Xenocrates, and Diodorus, to a similar pur

• Perhaps this principle derives further illustration

from scripture. port; and a remarkable one in Hebrews John 1. 1. Ed.

* In the beginning was thefWord.'

[ocr errors]

attentively read the ancients, and knew animals. The bread we eat, and the other how to value them. He says himself, that aliments we take, turn themselves, accord“the ancients understood much better, and ing to the ancients, into hair, veins, arteries, made a greater progress in the natural history nerves, and all the other parts of our body; of animals and minerals, than we have because there are, in those aliments, the done. They abounded more in real obser- constituent parts of blood, nerves, bones, vations; and we ought to have made much hair, &c. which, uniting with one another, better advantage of their illustrations and make themselves by their coalition perceptiremarks." Yet Buffon does not seem to ble, which they were not before, because of have perceived the analogy which every their infinite littleness. where reigns between his system and that Empedocles believed, that matter had in of the ancients.

it a living principle, a subtile active fire, Anaxagoras thought that bodies were which put all in motion ; and this Buffon composed of small, similar, or homogeneous calls, by another name," organized matter, particles; that those bodies, however, ad- always active; or animated organic matter." mitted a certain quantity of small particles According to Empedocles, “this matter that were heterogene, or of another kind; was distributed through the four elements, but that to constitute any body to be of a among which it had an uniting force to bind particular species, it sufficed, that it was them, and a separating to put them asuncomposed of a great number of small partie der; for the small parts either mutually cles, similar and constitutive of that species. embraced, or repelled one another; whence Different bodies were masses of particles nothing in reality perished, but every thing similar among themselves ; dissimilar, bow- was in perpetual vicissitude.” ever, relatively to those of any other body, Empedocles had a sentiment, which Bufor to the mass of small particles belonging fon follows, in the same terms; where he to a different species. Thus, the ancients says, that “the sexes contain all the small taught, that blood was formed of many parts analogous to the body of an animal, drops or particles, each of which had blood and necessary to its production.” in it; that a bone was formed of many Plotinus, investigating what might be small bones, which from their extreme lit- the reason of this sympathy and attraction tleness evaded our view; and these similar in nature, discovered it to proceed from parts they called ououousgiras similaritates. such a harmony and assimilation of the Likewise, that nothing was properly liable parts, as bound them together when they to generation, or corruption, to birth, or to met,” or repelled them when they were death; generations of every kind, being no dissimilar; he says, that it is the variety of other than an assemblage of small particles these assimilations that concurs to the formconstituent of the kind ; and the destruction ation of an animal; and calls this binding, of a body being no other than the disunion or dissolving force, “ the magic of the uniof many small bodies of the same sort, verse." which always preserving a natural tendency Anaxagoras thought as Buffon does, that to reunite, produce again, by their conjunce there is no preexistent seed, involving in. tion with other similar particles, other finite numbers of the same kind one within bodies of the same species. Vegetation and another; but an ever active organic matter, nutrition were but" means employed by always ready so to adapt itself

, as to assinature for the continuation of beings; thus, milate, and render other things conformthe different juices of the earth being com able to that wherein it resides. The species posed of a collection of innumerable small of animals and vegetables can never thereparticles intermixed, constituting the dif- fore exhaust themselves; but as long as an ferent parts of a tree or flower for example, individual subsists, the species will be take, according to the law of nature, differ- always new. It is as extensive now as it ent arrangements; and by the motion ori. was at the beginning, and all will subsist ginally impressed upon them, proceed till, of themselves, till they are annihilated by arriving at the places destined and proper the Creator. for them, they collect themselves and halt, It would be easy to show, that in morals to form all the different parts of that tree or and politics, as in physics, the most emiflower; in the same manner as many small nent moderns have said no ng new. imperceptible leaves go to the formation of Hobbes has advanced nothing, but what he the leaves we see, many little parts of the found in the writings of the Grecian and fruits of different kinds to the composition Latin philosophers; and above all, in those of those which we eat; and so of the rest. of Epicurus. Montesquieu also assumes The same, with respect to the nutrition of from the ancients the principles of his sys.

66

« НазадПродовжити »