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back for a moment into yourselves, and you will find, that what constitutes intelligence in our feeble consciousness, is, that there are there several terms, of which the one perceives the other, of which the other is perceived by the first : in this consists self-knowledge,-in this consists self-comprehension,-in this consists intelligence : intelligence without consciousness is the abstract possibility of intelligence, not intelligence in the act; and consciousness implies diversity and difference. Transfer all this from human to absolute intelligence that is to say, refer the ideas to the only intelligence to which they can belong—you have thus, if I may so express myself, the life of absolute intelligence ; you have this intelligence with the complete development of the elements which are necessary for it to be a true intelligence; you have all the momenta whose relation and motion constitute the reality of knowledge.” In all this, so far as human intelligence is concerned, we cordially agree ; for a more complete admission could not be imagined, not only that a knowledge of the absolute is impossible for man, but that we are unable to conceive the possibility of such a knowledge, even in the Deity, without contradicting our human conceptions of the possibility of intelligence itself. Our author, however, perceives no contradiction; and, without argument or explanation, accords a knowledge of that which can only be known under the negation of all difference and plurality, to that which can only know under the affirmation of both.
If a knowledge of the absolute were possible under these conditions, it may excite our wonder that other philosophers should have viewed the supposition as the merest absurdity; and that Schelling, whose acuteness was never questioned, should have exposed himself gratuitously to the reproach of mysticism by his postulating for a few, and through a faculty above the reach of consciousness, a knowledge already given to all in the fact of consciousness itself. Monstrous as is the postulate of the intellectual intuition, we freely confess that it is only through such a faculty that we can imagine the possibility of a science of the absolute; and have no hesitation in acknowledging, that if Schelling's hypothesis appear to us undemonstrable, that of Cousin is seen to be self-contradictory.
Our author admits, and must admit, that the absolute is absolutely one: and absolute unity is convertible with the absolute negation of plurality and difference : the absolute, and the knowledge of the absolute, are therefore identical. But knowledge, or intelligence, it is asserted by M. Cousin, supposes a plurality of terms—the plurality of subject and object. Intelligence, whose essence is plurality, cannot therefore be identified with the absolute, whose essence is unity; and if known, the absolute as koown must be different from the absolute as existing; that is, there must be two absolutes-an absolute in knowledge, and an absolute in existence, which is doubly contradictory.
But waiving this contradiction, and allowing the non-identity of knowledge and existence, the absolute as known must be known under the conditions of the absolute as existing; that is, as absolute unity. But, on the other hand, it is asserted, that the condition of intelligence as knowing, is plurality and difference; consequently the condition of the absolute as existing, and under which it must be known, and the condition of intelligence as capable of knowing, are incompatible. For if we suppose the absolute cognisable, it must be identified either, First, with the subject; or, Second, with the object of intelligence; or, Third, with the indifference of both. The first hypothesis, and the second, are contradictory of that of the absolute; for in these the absolute is supposed to be known, either as contradistinguished from the subject, or as contradistinguished from the object, of thought;' in other words, it is asserted to be known as absolute unity, i.e. as the negation of all plurality, while the very act by which it is known, affirms plurality as the condition of knowledge itself. The third hypothesis, on the other hand, is contradictory of the plurality of intelligence; for if the subject and the object of consciousness be known as one, a plurality of terms is not the necessary condition of intelligence. The alternative is therefore necessary; either the absolute cannot be known at all, or our author is wrong in subjecting thought to the conditions of plurality and difference. It was the iron necessity of the alternative that constrained Schelling to resort to the hypothesis of a knowledge in identity through the intellectual intuition; and it could only be from an oversight of the main difficulties of the problem that M. Cousin, in abandoning the intellectual intuition, did not abandon the absolute itself. For how that whose essence is all-comprehensive unity, can be known by the negation of that unity under the condition of plurality ;-how that which exists only as an identity of all difference can be known under the negation of that identity in the antithesis of subject and object, of knowledge and of existence,-these are contradictions which M. Cousin has not altempted to solve ;-contradictions which he has not even ventured to state.
In the fourth place. The objection of the inconceivable nature of Schelling's intellectual intuition, and a knowledge of the absolute in identity, apparently determined our author to adopt the opposite, but suicidal alternative, of a knowledge of the absolute in consciousness, and by difference, The equally insuperable objection, that from the absolute defined as absolute, Schelling had not been able, without inconsequence, to deduce the conditioned, seems in like manner to have influenced M. Cousin to define the absolute by a relative; not aware, it would appear, that though he thus facilitated the derivation of the conditioned, he annihilated in reality the absolute itself. By the former proceeding, our author virtually denies the possibility of the absolute in knowledge; by the latter, the possibility of the absolute in existence.
The absolute is defined by our author" an absolute cause -a cause which cannot but pass into act. Now, it is sufficiently manifest that a thing existing absolutely, (i. e. not under relation,) and a thing existing absolutely as a cause, are contradictory. The former is the absolute negation of all relation, the latter is the absolute affirmation of a particular relation. A cause is a relative, and what exists absolutely as a cause, exists absolutely under relation. Schelling has justly observed, that“ he would deviate as wide as the poles from the idea of the absolute, who would think of defining its nature by the notion of activity.' But he who would define the absolute by the notion of a cause, would deviate still more widely from its. nature ; inasmuch as the notion of a cause involves not only the notion of a determination to activity, but of a determination to a dependant kind of activity-an activity not immanent, but transient. What exists merely as a cause, exists merely for the sake of something else,-is not final in itsell, but simply a mean towards an end ; and in the acomplishment of that end, it consummates its own perfection. Abstractly considered, the effect is therefore
Bruno, p. 171.
superior to the cause. A cause, as cause, may indeed be better than any given number of its effects : but the total complement of the effects of what exists only as a cause, is better than that which, ex hypothesi, exists only for the sake of their production. But an absolute cause is not only dependant on the effect for its perfection—it is dependant on it even for its reality. For to what extent a thing exists necessarily as a cause, to that extent it is not all-sufficient to itself; for to that extent it is dependant on the effect, as on the condition through which alone it realises its existence; and what exists absolutely as a cause, exists therefore in absolute dependance on the effect for the reality of its existence. An absolute cause, in truth, only exists in its effects : it never is, it always becomes.
The definition of the absolute by absolute cause is, therefore, tantamount to a negation, of itself; for it defines by relation and conditions, that which is conceived only as exclusive of both. The same is true of the definition of the absolute by substance.
The vice of M. Cousin's definition of the absolute by absolute cause, is manifested likewise in its applications. Our author vaunts that his theory can alone explain the nature and relations of the Deity; and on its absolute incompetency to fulfil the conditions of a rationalt heism, we are willing to rest a demonstration of its futility.
“ God,” says our author, “ creates ; he creates in virtue of his creative power, and he draws the universe, not from nonentity, but from himself, who is absolute existence. His distinguishing characteristic being an absolute creative force, which cannot but pass into activity, it follows, not that the creation is possible, but that it is necessary.”.
We must be very brief. The subjection of the Deity to a necessity-a necessity of self-manifestation identical with the creation of the universe, is contradictory of the fundamental postulates of a divine nature. On this hypothesis, God is not distinct from the world; the creature is a modification of the Creator. Now, without objecting that the simple subordination of the Deity to necessity, is in itself tantamount to his dethronement, let us see to what consequences this necessity, on the hypothesis of our author, inevitably leads.
On this hypothesis one of two alternatives must be admitted. God, as necessarily determined to pass from absolute essence to relative manifestation, is determined to pass either from the better to the worse, or from the worse to the better. A third possibility, that both states are equal, as contradictory in itself, and as contradicted by our author, it is not necessary to consider.
The first supposition must be rejected. The necessity in this case determines God to pass from the better to the worse; that is, operates to his partial annihilation. The force which compels this must be external and hostile, for nothing operates to its own deterioration; and, as superior to the pretended God, is either the real Deity, if an intelligent cause, or a negation of all Deity, if a blind force or fate.
The second is equally inadmissible—that God, passing into the universe, passes from a state of comparative imperfection, into a state of comparative perfection. The divine nature is identical with the most perfect nature, and is also identical with the first cause. If the first cause be not identical with the most perfect nature, there is no God; for the two essential conditions of his existence are not in combination. Now, on the present supposition, the most perfect nature is the derived ; that is, the universe in rela
tion to its cause, is the real, the actual, the Vtws óv. It would also be the divine, but that divinity supposes also the notion of cause, while the universe, ex hypothesi, is only an effect.
It is no answer to these difficulties for M. Cousin to say, that the Deity, though a cause which cannot choose but create, is not, however, exhausted in the act; and though passing with all the elements of his being into the universe, that he remains entire in his essence, and with all the superiority of the cause over the effect. The dilemma is unavoidable-either the Deity is independent of the universe for his being or his perfection; on which alternative our author must abandon his theory of God and the creation : or the Deity is dependant on his manifestation in the universe for his existence or his perfection; on which alternative his doctrine is assailed by the difficulties previously stated.
The length to which the preceding observations have extended, prevents us from adverting to many other opinions of our author, which we conceive to be equally unfounded. For example, to say nothing of his proof of the impersonality of intelligence, because, forsooth, truth is not subject to our will, what can be conceived more self-contradictory than his theory of liberty? Divorcing liberty from intelligence, but connecting it with personality, he defines it to be a cause which is determined to act only by its proper energy. But (to say nothing of remoter difficulties) how liberty can be conceived (supposing always a plurality of modes of activity) without a knowledge of that plurality,--how a faculty can resolve to act by preference in a particular manner, and not determine itself by final causes, how intelligence can influence a blind power without operating as an efficient cause, -or how, in fine, morality can be founded on a liberty which, at best, only escapes necessity by taking refuge with chance,- these are problems which M. Cousin, in none of his works, has stated, and which we are confident he is unable to solve.
After the tenor of our previous observations, it is needless to say that we regard M. Cousin's attempt to establish a general peace among philosophers, by the promulgation of his Eclectic Theory, as a signal failure. But though no converts to bis philosophy, and viewing with regret what we must regard as the misapplication of his distinguished talents, we cannot disown a strong feeling of interest and admiration for those qualities, even in their excess, which have betrayed him, with so many other aspiring philosophers, into a pursuit which could end only in disappointment-we mean his love of truth, and his reliance on the powers of man. Not to despair of philosophy is a “last infirmity of noble minds.” The stronger the intellect, the stronger the confidence in its force; the more ardent the appetite for knowledge, the less are we prepared to canvass the uncertainty of the fruition. The wish is parent to the thought.” Loath to admit that our science is at best the reflection of a reality we cannot know, we strive to penetrate to existence in itself; and what we have laboured intensely to attain, we at last fondly believe we have accomplished. But, like Ixion, we embrace a cloud for a divinity. Conscious only of limitation, we think to comprehend the infinite, and dream of establishing our human science on an identity with the omniscient God. It is this powerful tendency of the most vigorous minds to transcend the sphere of our faculties, that makes a “ learned ignorance” the most difficult acquirement of knowledge. In the words of a forgotten, but acute philosoper,-magna, immo maxima, pars sapientiæ, est quædam æquo animo nescire velle.
PHILOSOPHY OF PERCEPTION-REID AND BROWN.*
We rejoice in the publication of this work,--and for two reasons. We hail it as another sign of the convalescence of philosophy in a great and influential nation; and prize it as a seasonable testimony by intelligent foreigners, to the merits of a philosopher, whose reputation is, for the moment, under an eclipse at home.
We are pleased by the appearance of this translation of the works of Reid -in Paris—and under the auspices of so distinguished an edilor as M. Jouffroy, less, certainly, as indicating the triumph of any particular system or school, than as a pledge, among many others, of the zealous, yet liberal and unexclusive, spirit with which the science of mind has of late been cultivated in France. The contrast which the present philosophical enthusiasm of France exhibits to the speculative apathy of Britain, is any thing, indeed, but flattering to ourselves. The new spirit of metaphysical enquiry, which the French imbibed from Germany and Scotland, arose with them precisely at the time when the popularity of psychological researches began to decline with us; and now, when all interest in these speculations seems here to be extinct, they are there seen flourishing in public favour, with a universality and vigour corresponding to their encouragement.
The only example that can be adduced of any interest in such subjects, recently exhibited in this country, is the favourable reception of Dr. Brown's Lectures on the Philosophy of the Mind. This work, however, we regard as a concurrent cause of the very indifference we lament, and as a striking proof of its reality.
As a cause ;—these lectures have certainly done much to justify the general neglect of the study they were intended to promote. Dr. Brown's high reputation for metaphysical acuteness gave a presumptive authority to any doctrine he might promulgate; and the personal relations in which he stood to Mr. Stewart, afforded every assurance, that he would not revolt against that philosopher's opinions, rashly, or except on grounds that would fully vindicate his dissent. In these circumstances, what was the impression on the public mind, when all that was deemed best established, -all that was claimed as original and most important in the philosophy of Reid and Stewart, -was proclaimed by their disciple and successor to be “nought but a series of misconceptions, only less wonderful in their commission than in the general acquiescence in their truth?” Confidence was at once withdrawn from a pursuit, in which the most sagacious enquirers were thus at fault; and the few who did not relinquish the study in despair, clung with implicit faith to the revelation of the new apostle.
As a proof;—these lectures asford evidence of how greatly talent has, of late, been withdrawn from the field of metaphysical discussion. This work has now been before the world for ten years.
In itself it combines many of the qualities calculated to attract public, and even popular attention; while its admirers have exhausted hyperbole in its praise, and disparaged every philosophic name to exalt the reputation of its author. Yet, though altenlion has been thus concentred on these lectures for so long a period, and though the high ability, and higher authority, of Dr. Brown, deserved,
Euvres complètes de Thomas Reid, chef de l'Ecole Ecossaise. Publiées par M. Th. Jouffroy, avec des Fragmens de M. Royer-Collard, el une Introduction de l'Editeur. Tomes II. - VI. 8vo. Paris, 1828 9. (Not completed )-Vol. lii. page 158. October, 1830.