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land, and that thought with us is about to assume new and nobler forms. Intellectual pursuits are beginning to have charms for us, and a Future, worthy our free institutions, is beginning to be elaborated. We need not say that this gives us joy. It is what we have for years been yearning and laboring for ; but which we have not generally dared hope that we should live long enough to see realized. Discussion of the great problems of metaphysics must come, and we are glad of it; for discussion in this country, of whatever subject it be, cannot fail to be followed by important and useful practical results.
The specific design of the author in this article we profess not to have discovered, and we think he himself would be somewhat puzzled to inform us.
Apparently, however, the article was intended to vindicate the character of Locke as a metaphysician, and to put the community on its guard against certain individuals, whom its author denominates Transcendentalists. Who these Transcendentalists are, what is their number, and what are their principal tenets, the writer does not inform us. Nor does he tell us precisely the dangers we have to apprehend from their labors; but so far as we can collect his meaning, it would seem that these dangers consist in the fact that the Transcendentalists encourage the study of German literature and philosophy, and are introducing the habit of writing bad English. He may be right in this. It is a matter we do not feel ourselves competent to decide.
So far, however, as our knowledge extends, there is no overweening fondness for German literature and philosophy. We know not of a single man in this country, who avows himself a disciple of what is properly called the Transcendental Philosophy. The genius of our countrymen is for Eclecticism. As to the bad English, we presume those, whom this writer calls Transcendentalists, may sometimes be guilty of it, and we shall be happy to learn that they alone are guilty of it.
This writer may be correct in his estimate of the merits of Locke. If we understand him, he does not mean to defend Locke's philosophy - although we should think him partial to it — but merely his candid spirit, and the manner in which he wrote on metaphysics. He thinks Locke wrote on metaphysical subjects in a free and easy manner, altogether more in the manner of a man of the world, than of a cloistered monk. We agree with him in this; but we think several of Locke's predecessors and contemporaries are entitled to this praise as well as he. Hobbes, who preceded Locke by some years, is much his superior, so far as style and language go, and so is Cudworth. Locke is transparent; there is seldom any difficulty in coming at his meaning; but he is diffuse, verbose, tedious, and altogether wanting in elegance, precision, and vigor. Hobbes, while he is equally as transparent as Locke, infinitely surpasses him in strength, precision, and compactness. He tells you more in a few short sentences, than Locke in the whole of a long chapter. If the proper style and language, the proper manner of writing on metaphysical subjects, be the matter in question, we think Locke should not be named in the same year with Hobbes, a man to whom justice has never yet been done; whose name is a term of reproach; but who, as a philosopher, has exerted a thousand times more influence over the English mind, than Locke, and whom Locke himself reproduces much oftener than he acknowledges.
The writer in the Examiner, we think, also ascribes improperly to Locke the merit of delivering us from the technical phraseology and barren logic of the Scholastics. Between Locke and the Scholastics there intervened considerable space of time, Des Cartes, Bacon, Gassendi, and Hobbes, and the most glorious period of English history and literature. The Scholastic philosophy was shaken and nearly destroyed by the Revival of Letters and the study of Antiquity, which so strongly marked the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The little dominion,
it retained at the commencement of the seventeenth century, was completely overthrown by those two fathers of modern philosophy, Des Cartes and Bacon. The Scholastics were defunct in all the world unless Oxford offers an exception - long before Locke began his philosophical career.
But these are small matters. The article, we are examining, appears to us to assume, that the metaphysician should always restrict himself to what may be called common sense modes of thought and expression, and that the highest philosophy may be so announced as to be comprehended at once, by any one of ordinary capacity, whether accustomed to philosophize or not. The article, it is true, does not expressly state the doctrine here implied; but it appears to us to proceed on the supposition of its truth, and we are unable to legitimate its reasonings without assuming it. Through the whole article, there seems to us to be a striking want of clear discernment of the difference between philosophy and common sense. The writer evidently wishes to reconcile common sense and philosophy, which is laudable; but he sees no way by which this can be done, save by reducing philosophy to common sense. He asks, “what is common sense, but the highest philosophy, applied to the usual purposes of practical life? And what is philosophy, but common sense, employed in abstract investigations ?” Do not these questions confound philosophy with common sense? or rather, instead of reconciling philosophy with common sense, do they not sink philosophy in common sense? To us they betray no slight confusion in the mind of him who puts them in earnest, and they are a very good proof that he does not discern clearly, if any difference at all, the difference there is between knowledge and philosophy, two things as far asunder as intuition and reflection.
But this writer is not the only one who does not discern distinctly the difference between common sense and philosophy, in whose mind the limits and
precise characteristics of each are not determined. We trust, therefore, that we shall not be doing a needless work, if we undertake, in what follows, to aid our readers to draw the line between common sense and philosophy, and to determine what is the precise object of philosophy. Moreover, something of this is necessary, to serve as a sort of introduction to a series of articles on metaphysics, which we propose to lay before our readers in our future numbers.
The term common sense may be applied to what Hobbes calls the cognitive faculty, or faculty of knowing, which is common to all human beings. It is by this faculty, and only by this faculty, that we know either in the ordinary affairs of life or in abstract science. The faculty, by means of which we are capable of acquiring knowledge, is the same in all cases. Knowledge then admits of no other divisions than those of the subjects with which we may seek to become acquainted. This is what the writer of the article, we are reviewing, probably meant to assert. But knowledge is not philosophy; and though it is indispensable to philosophy, it can and does, in most men, exist without philosophy.
But the term common sense is also used to designate the common or universal beliefs of mankind, the simple spontaneous beliefs of Humanity. These beliefs may be true, they may be acted on; but with the multitude they are taken on trust, adopted without being legitimated. Philosophy is not a contradiction of these beliefs, a substitution of something else for them, but an explanation and verification of them. This is the precise object of philosophy.
Philosophy and common sense are not opposed to one another. There is no discrepancy between them. Common sense furnishes the philosopher all his knowledge, all the data from which he reasons. His sole mission is to clear up and legitimate the universal beliefs of mankind, or the facts of common sense. The common sense man is not in the wrong; he does not err; he has the truth, but he does not know that
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he has it. He believes the truth, but he does not comprehend what he believes, nor wherefore he believes. He cannot tell how he came to believe what he does believe; he knows not what right he has to believe it; and when asked, why he believes it, he can only answer, he believes it because he does believe it. The philosopher believes precisely the same things, as the common sense man, but he knows what he believes, and he can tell wherefore he believes. The common sense man believes, but does not comprehend; the philosopher comprehends, and therefore believes.
We may easily bring up to our minds the common sense man, by recalling our childhood and youth. In early life, faith is strong and implicit. We believe. We are conscious of no difficulties. We are conscious of no thoughts and feelings too big for words, and which cannot be easily communicated to all who will give us their attention. We see no mysteries in nature, in man, or in God. All things appear to us open and plain. Things are to us what they seem. The primrose is a primrose, and nothing more. The sun and stars are beautiful, and the rain-bow is pleasant to look upon; but they contain no dark, perplexing mystery we are dying to wring out. Day and night, summer and winter, spring and fall, sickness and health, life and death, are alternations to be welcomed, or not welcomed, but they are not mysteries. They are not a book we would learn to read; hieroglyphs we would be able to decipher. We see all. The outward, the sensible, sufficeth us. Common sense satisfies curiosity, and prevents inquiry from becoming doubt. This, which is a description of the childhood and youth of all, is also a description of the greater part of men through their whole lives. All who come under this description are common sense men.
But childhood and youth, with their ready answers to all inquiries, their open brow and laughing cheek and trusting heart, for whom life is all one holiday,