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perceive how ridiculous it would be to maintain, that nature had toiled on from the very beginning of time to adjust herself to the inventions of our fortuitous and arbitrary arts, all of which are of so late a date in their discovery; but it is perfectly clear that if noses were not made for spectacles, they were made for smelling, and there have been noses ever since there
In the same manner, hands, instead of being bestowed for the sake of gloves, are visibly destined for all those uses to which the metacarpus, the phalanx of the fingers, and the movements of the circular muscle of the wrist, render them applicable by us.
Cicero, who doubted everything else, had no doubt about final causes.
It appears particularly difficult to suppose that those parts of the human frame, by which the perpetuation of the species is conducted, should not, in fact, have been intended and destined for that purpose, from their mechanism so truly admirable, and the sensation which nature has connected with it more admirable still. Epicurus would be at least obliged to admit that pleasure is divine, and that that pleasure is a final cause, in consequence of which beings, endowed with sensibility, but who could never have communicated it to themselves, have been incessantly introduced into the world as others have passed away from it.
This philosopher, Epicurus, was a great man for the age in which he lived. He saw what Descartes denied, what Gassendi affirmed, and what Newton demonstrated--that motion cannot exist without a vacuum. He conceived the necessity of atoms to serve as constituent parts of invariable species. These are philosophical ideas. Nothing, moreover, was more respectable than the morality of genuine Epicureans; it consisted in sequestration from public affairs, which are incompatible with wisdom, and in friendship, without which, life is but a burden.* But as to the rest of the philo
* The claim of this boasted morality to either virtue or wisdom is exceedingly to be doubted. It may be often, indeed, both virtuous and wise to retire from the active business of life to the en
sophy of Epicurus, it appears not to be more admissible than the grooved or tubular matter of Descartes. It is, as it appears to me, wilfully to shut the
and the understanding, to maintain that there is no design in nature; and if there is design, there is an intelligent cause: there exists a God.
Some object to us the irregularities of our globe, the volcanoes, the plains of moving sands, some small mountains swallowed up in the ocean, others raised by earthquakes, &c. But does it follow from the naves of your chariot wheels taking fire, that your chariot was not made expressly for the purpose of conveying you from one place to another ?
The chains of mountains which crown both hemispheres, and more than six hundred rivers which flow from the foot of these rocks towards the sea; the various streams that swell these rivers in their course, after fertilising the fields through which they pass; the innumerable fountains which spring from the same source, which supply necessary refreshment, and joyment of peaceful leisure and the cultivation of the social affections; but as here laid down, such retirement amounts to nothing beyond a refined species of selfishness. The post of honour is not necessarily a private station ; it is altogether the reverse, when public good is to be advanced or public evil resisted by mingling with the crowd. Nothing is more common than for men to dig. nify their vices or infirmities with the name of virtues ; which is precisely the case of the Epicureans, when standing upon the generality here advanced by Voltaire. Thus the abandonment of a troublesome duty is termed virtuous and wise, and indolence and self-enjoyment, wisdom and virtue. · Happily, human nature is so constituted, this mental luxuriance of repose is seldom very widely attractive; but the notion itself appears to be as much at war with one of the great final causes of society, as mookery and the cloister. It was natural, however, for a philosopher who created gods of this description, to make it wise and virtuous in mortals to imitate them. A due sprinkling of men of this class, in the great mass of society, is, no doubt, graceful and becoming; and society can always afford to indulge them; but the general principle maintaining their consequent superiority in wisdom and virtue must be eternally disputed. It is, however, a favourite notion under civilized despotisms; and, no doubt, not unfrequently a judicious election on the part of gifted men, who are not admitted to share in higher duties. Voltaire's own conduct and active inteference with existing evils form an admirable contrast to his doctrine in this short, inconsiderate passage.-T.
growth, and beauty, to animal and vegetable life; all this appears no more to result from a fortuitous concourse and an obliquity of atoms, than the retina which receives the rays of light, or the chrystalline humour which refracts it, or the drum of the ear which admits sounds, or the circulation of the blood in our veins, the systole and diastole of the heart, the regulating principle of the machine of life.
It would appear that a man must be supposed to have lost his senses, before he can deny that stomachs are made for digestion, eyes to see, and ears to hear.
On the other hand, a man must have a singular partiality for final causes, to assert that stone was made for building houses, and that silk-worms are produced in China that we may wear satins in Europe.
But, it is urged, if God has evidently done one thing by design, he has then done all things by design. It is ridiculous to admit providence in the one case and to deny it in the others. Everything that is done was foreseen, was arranged. There is no arrangement without an object, no effect without a cause; all, therefore, is equally the result, the produce of a final cause : it is therefore as correct to say that noses were made to bear spectacles, and fingers to be adorned with rings, as to say that the ears were formed to hear sounds, the eyes to receive light.
All that this objection amounts to, in any opinion, is, that everything is the result, nearer or more remote, of a general final cause; that everything is the consequence of eternal laws.
When the effects are invariably the same in all times and places, and when these uniform effects are independent of the beings to which they attach, then there is visibly a final cause.
All animals have eyes and see; all have ears and hear; all have a mouth with which they eat; a stomach, or something similar, by which they digest their food; all have suitable means for expelling the fæces; all have the organs requisite for the continuation of their species; and these natural gifts perform their regular course and process without any application or intermixture of art. Here are final causes clearly established; and to deny a truth so universal would be a perversion of the faculty of reason.
But stones, in all times and places, do not constitute the materials of buildings. All noses do not bear spectacles; all fingers do not carry a ring; all legs are not covered with silk stockings. A silk-worm, therefore, is not made to cover my legs, exactly as your mouth is made for eating, and another part of your person for the “garderobe.” There are, therefore, we see, immediate effects produced from final causes, and effects of a very numerous description, which are remote productions from those causes.
Everything belonging to nature is uniform, immutable, and the immediate work of its author. . It is he who has established the laws by which the moon contributes three-fourths to the cause of the flux and reflux of the ocean, and the sun the remaining fourth. It is he who has given a rotatory motion to the sun, in consequence of which that orb communicates its rays of light in the short space of seven minutes and a half to the eyes of men, crocodiles, and cats.
But if, after a course of ages, we started the inventions of shears and spits, to clip the wool of sheep with the one, and with the other to roast in order to eat them, what else can be inferred from such circumstances, but that God formed us in such a manner that, at some time or other, we could not avoid becoming ingenious and carnivorous ?
Sheep, undoubtedly, were not made expressly to be roasted and eaten, since many nations abstain from such food with horror. Mankind are not created essentially to massacre one another, since the bramins, and the respectable primitives called quakers, kill no
But the clay out of which we are kneaded frequently produces massacres, as it produces calumnies, vanities, persecutions, and impertinences. It is not precisely that the formation of man is the final cause of our madnesses and follies, for a final cause is universal, and invariable in every age and place: but the horrors and absurdities of the human race are not at all the less included in the eternal order of things. When we thresh our corn, the flail is the final cause of the separation of the grain. But if that flail, while threshing my grain, crushes to death a thousand insects, that occurs not by an express and determinate act of my will, nor, on the other hand, is it by mere chance; the insects were, on this occasion, actually under my flail, and could not but be there.
It is a consequence of the nature of things that a man should be ambitious; that he should enrol and discipline a number of other men; that he should be a conqueror, or that he should be defeated; but it can never be said that the man was created by God to be killed in war.
The organs with which nature has supplied us cannot always be final causes in action. The eyes which are bestowed for seeing are not constantly open. Every sense has its season for repose. There are some senses that are even made no use of. An imbecile and wretched female, for example, shut up in a cloister at the age of fourteen years, mars one of the final causes of her existence; but the cause, nevertheless, equally subsists, and whenever it is free it will operate.
FINESSE, FINENESS, &c. Of the different Significations of this Word. FINENESS either in its proper or figurative sense does not signify either light, slender, fine, or of a rare thin texture; this word expresses something delicate and finished. Light cloth, soft linen, thin lace, or slender galoon, are not always fine.
This word has a relation to the verb to finish, whence come the finishings of art; thus we say, the finishings of Vanderwerff's
's pencil or of Mieris : we say, a fine horse, fine gold, a fine diamond, &c. A fine horse is opposed to a clumsy one; the fine diamond to a false one; fine or refined gold to gold mixed with alloy.