« PreviousContinue »
SECT. VI. Other Passions, as well as Moral Sentiments, useful aux-
SECT. III. The Unintelligible
Part I. From Confusion of Thought
Part II. From Affectation of Excellence
Part III. From Want of Meaning
ALL art is founded in science, and the science is of little value which does not serve as a foundation to some beneficial art. On the most sublime of all sciences, theology and ethics, is built the most important of all arts, the art of living. The abstract mathematical sciences serve as a ground-work to the arts of the land-measurer and the accountant; and in conjunction with natural philosophy, including geography and astronomy, to those of the architect, the navigator, the dialist, and many others. Of what consequence anatomy is to surgery, and that part of physiology which teaches the laws of gravitation and of motion is to the artificer, is a matter too obvious to need illustration. The general remark might, if necessary, be exemplified throughout the whole circle of arts, both useful and elegant. Valuable knowledge, therefore, always leads to some practical skill, and is perfected in it. On the other hand, the practical skill loses much of its beauty and extensive utility, which does not originate in knowledge. There is by consequence a natural relation between the sciences and the arts, like that which subsists between the parent and the offspring.
I acknowledge indeed that these are sometimes unnaturally separated; and that by the mere influence of example on the one hand, and imitation on the other, some progress may be made in an art, without the knowledge of the principles from which it sprung. By the help of a few rules, which men are taught to use mechanically, a good practical arithmetician may be formed, who neither knows the reasons on which the rules he works by were first established, nor ever thinks it of any moment to inquire into them. In like manner, we frequently meet with expert artisans, who are ignorant of the six mechanical powers, which, though in the exercise of their profession they daily employ, they do not understand the principles whereby, in any instance, the result of their application is ascertained. The propagation of the arts may therefore be compared more justly to that variety which takes place in the vegetable kingdom, than to the uniformity which obtains universally in the animal world; for, as to the anomalous race of zoophytes, I do not comprehend them in the number. It is