« AnkstesnisTęsti »
new in relation to the reigning French school of the last century, does nothing in reality but continue the tradition of sound philosophy in all times, from which the greater part of Gentile philosophy, as well as modern Cartesianism and its psychologic offspring, was a depart
We agree, for the most part, with the learned author in his estimate of the several systems he analyzes, with the exception of the Cartesian. It may be all our fault, but we fear it is not in the power of mortal man to persuade us that Descartes deserved even to be named among philosophers. He was what Père Gratry calls a Sophist. Even as expounded by M. Maret, his system is nothing but a modified conceptualism, resting entirely on thought regarded as a purely psychological fact. We see in its author no indications of a true metaphysical genius, and no respectable philosophic erudition. There are no doubt true things in his system, for the human mind can never be wholly false, but he holds what truth he has as an inconsequence. Take his starting-point, free his system from its inconsequences and inconsistencies, and it is the pure subjective Idealism of Kant, or the pure Egoism of Fichte. He places all evidence in ideas, and makes all ideas, when consistent with himself, pure conceptions ; and conceptions, as he defines them, are modes or affections of the subject. M. Maret has affinities with Père Malebranche, but he has, in reality, pone with Descartes. He is in his system,-perhaps not always in his method or manner of explaining himself,—an intuitionist, therefore a realist, holding that the mind has and can have no pure conceptions. We were sorry to find Balmes forming a favorable estimate of Descartes, and we cannot excuse Père Gratry's excessive admiration of this shallow sophist. Père Malebranche we respect as a philosopher. He was infinitely superior to Descartes, and ought never to be reckoned as a Cartesian. He retained, indeed, grave errors from Cartesianism, but his own philosophy is of another order, rests on a different basis, and follows a different method. But these dissidences, -as well as some others, we shall express before we close,—from our truly learned and philosophic author, are of no great importance, and detract nothing from the substantial merits of his work. His philosophy, at bottom, is what we ourselves hold, and have defended for years in the pages of this Review.
M. Maret's great merit, and a great merit it is, consists in his maintaining, after Plato, the objectivity of ideas, and after St. Augustine, the identity of ideas, objectively taken, with the Divine Intelligence, and in adopting and defending the intuitive method, which requires us to treat the dialectic and syllogistic methods as secondary, or as simply two forms of reasoning operating on intuitive data, and never transcending them. The syllogism, or method of deduction, is simply analysis, and can give only the contents of the subject analyzed. It cannot itself furnish premises or advance science, as to its matter, beyond the premises from which it operates. It distinguishes, clears up, or draws forth the matter contained in them, and renders explicit what before was im plicit, but it can do nothing more. Dialectics, or the inductive method, by which, in contemplation, we pass from the consideration of particulars to that of universals, cannot itself, any more than the syllogism, furnish premises, Père Gratry to the contrary notwithstanding, for it cannot ascend to or introduce to the mind a universal not given intuitively along with the particulars. Both processes are legitimate, are necessary in their place; but both are secondary, both are in the reflective order, and dependent on intuition without or beyond which neither of them can operate.
According to a recent decision of the Congregation of the Index against the Traditionalists, or in the question between them and the Rationalists, the existence of God may be proved with certainty by natural reason. This decision, in our judgment, imposes upon us the necessity of adopting and defending the intuitive method, for without intuition of God, or of that which ontologically is God, we cannot in any possible way prove or demonstrate by natural reason that God exists. The syllogistic, deductive, or analytic process is that by which from universals we deduce or descend to particulars; but we cannot deduce or descend to particulars from a universal not given in intuition, or any particulars not contained in the universal. God cannot be deduced from a universal, given or not given, for he is not a particular, since he is himself universal, the universal of universals. Dialectics or induction, defined to be the process of ascending from particulars to the universal, and therefore called the synthetic method, cannot enable us to ascend to a universal not intuitively given along with the particulars. A universal not so given, or formed from the intuition of only particulars, would be only a generalization or a classification, a pure mental conception, an abstraction, and no objective reality at all, as we proved at length in our criticism of Père Gratry's Logic, in this Review for July, 1856.
Here is the difficulty. Neither deduction nor induction can give us any objective reality not intuitively presented. Balmes feels the difficulty, but afraid to say that we have intuition of real and necessary being, for that would imply that we have intuition of God, confesses, though aware that the conception of real and necessary being underlies all our conceptions, that he does not know how to answer it, and thus leaves the fundamental problem of science unsolved, with an intimation that it cannot be solved. Some of our psychological friends, in happy unconsciousness of any difficulty in the case, restrict all intuition to particulars, to the finite and the contingent. But they would oblige us, if they would explain how it is possible to prove, inductively or deductively, the existence of a reality which transcends the finite and the contingent, and which is in no form or manner intuitively presented to the mind; for we very frankly confess that we have and can conceive no process of reasoning that is possible without intuitive data, or by which we can attain to a reality which is not, either synthetically or analytically, contained in them. If God is not given in the intuitive data, we can neither rise nor descend from them to him ; if he is given in them, we have intuition of him in our intuition of them,
Many worthy persons, we are aware, hesitate to adopt the intuitive method, because they fear that it would require them to maintain that we can have the intuitive vision of God enjoyed by the Saints in Heaven by our simple natural light, which all our theologians teach is possible only by the light of glory or ens supernaturale. We respect their hesitation, but their fear is unfounded. No man in his senses maintains that the intuitive vision of God enjoyed by the Blest is possible by the simple light of natural reason, or even by natural reason illumined by the supernatural light of faith. We assert by the natural intuition of God nothing of the sort. That vision is intrinsic, the view of God as he is in himself, his own interior life and essence; but our natural intuition of God is extrinsic, apprehensive, not comprehensive, and is a view of God as he is in relation to our intellect, as the principle and immediate object of our intelligence, not as he is in himself, or in his essence. We see him only as the Idea, the Intelligible, the type and cause of creatures, and therefore as the principle and necessary element of our intelligence. This element to which is reducible what philosophers call necessary ideas, necessary truths, first truths, eternal truths, &c., is intuitively presented, for without it there is and can be no intellectual operation, and in point of fact no human intellect itself ; and hence it is that we are never able to stop with the finite and the contingent, but are obliged, as the inductive philosophers allege, to assert at every moment the infinite and the necessary, not as an abstraction, a mental conception, but as an objective reality. All the reasonings ever adopted or that ever can be adopted to prove the existeuce of God demand, as their principle, the conception of the infinite and the necessary, and this conception, if formed by the mind from the generalization of the finite and the contingent, without intuition of real and necessary being, is an abstraction, and like all abstractions, objectively null.
The failure to recognize this intuition is what ruined the dialectic philosophy of the seventeenth century, which Père Gratry is laboring so enthusiastically to revive, and the logical consequences of which are to be seen in the Sensism and Atheism which followed, and from which we are even now only slowly recovering. That philosophy overlooks intuition and founds all on conceptions defined to be modes or affections of the subject. Hence the God it asserts is simply a mental conception, an abstraction, and no real, living God at all. Descartes
no doubt labored hard to prove that the idea in the mind of the infinite and the necessary, is not a purely mental conception, but his success did not respond to his industry or his good intention. Conceptions can give only conceptions, -0 x0=0. As a man, as a Christian, Descartes believed, no doubt, in a living God; but as a philosopher he asserted only an abstract God.
Others, again, hesitate to adopt the intuitive method, because they fail to observe that nobody pretends that we can know without reflection, study, or instruction, that the Idea, the Intelligible, the necessary entity, or real and necessary being, affirmed to us in intuition, is God, or that it can be proved to be God without reasoning, both inductive and deductive, that is, without dialectics and the syllogism. No one thinks of superseding the necessity of reasoning on the subject, and we certainly do not dispute, in its place and with its proper conditions, the validity of the reasoning of St. Anselm, St. Thomas, or even the Bridgewater Treatises in proof of the existence of God. We only say that to the validity of that reasoning a prior fact, tacitly assumed by it, but of which it takes no account, must be recognized, namely, the intuition of the Intelligible, the infinite, the necessary, the perfect, that is, real and necessary being, the intelligible element of all thought and the principle of all reasoning. That must be intuitively presented, but we do not say that we do or that we must know intuitively that it is God. St. Anselm concludes the existence of God from the idea of the most perfect being, than which nothing greater can be conceived. If he stops there, he concludes only an abstract God, and offers no refutation of Atheism. St. Thomas sees this, and hence refutes and rejects St. Anselm's argument, as he understands it. The conclusion is valid only on the condition that the idea is taken to be the intuition of most perfect or real and necessary being. Taking the idea as an intuition, the argument is conclusive; taking it as a mental conception, or as a conception formed from the intuition of the finite, the imperfect, or the contingent alone, it is not so much as an ingenious sophism. St. Anselm, Descartes, and all Père Gratry's dialectic philosophers, fail to recognize distinctly the fact that conceptions or ideas without intuitions are null, are abstractions, and affirm no reality beyond the human mind itself. This