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come by experience ; whereas, the fact of our insufficiency should, on his ground, be a fact of immediate consciousness, arrived at without
aid of discursive reason at all. 2. The consciousness of our own insufficiency, according to the paragraph quoted, does not of itself give us religion, or the objects of religion. It does not give us God immediately, but is simply a fact from which we are led to ask if there be not a God, or, at most, from which we infer there is and must be something above and beyond us. But his doctrine is not that we may rationally conclude from the facts of our nature to the existence of God and the necessity or propriety of religion, but that religion is given immediately, without any process of reasoning, by a special law, element, or principle of our nature, bearing the same or an analogous relation to spiritual objects that the bodily senses do to material objects. Admit, therefore, that we are conscious of our own insufficiency, and that we may rationally conclude from this insufficiency to the existence of a power that is all-sufficient, this does not prove that we have a special religious element, — far less, that we are conscious of the existence of such element. 3. Even assuming that we are conscious, immediately conscious, which is more than Mr. Parker proves, of our own insufficiency, it does not follow that we are conscious of the religious element; for our insufficiency is not an element or principle of our na
An element or principle of nature is something positive, constitutive of that nature ; but insufficiency is a mere negation, and is not included in what our nature is, but in what it is not. Consciousness of it, therefore, is not, and cannot be, consciousness of an element within us, or an element of our nature, an essential part of our constitution.”
5. According to Mr. Parker, philosophical analysis of man's nature gives us the element in question. This analysis, in his hands, gives us the sense of dependence ; and the sense of dependence, in the last analysis, he tells us, is the religious element. But philosophical analysis cannot give us the sense of dependence as an element or principle of nature, for the best of all reasons, because it is not and cannot be such element or principle. The sense of dependence is a fact of human life or experience, -not a fact, element, or principle of human
That our nature is dependent is a fact, but not an element or principle of that nature, for the same reason that insufficiency is not such element or principle. The word sense is, or may be, ambiguous. When we say sense of sight or
hearing, we mean a principle, or rather power or faculty, of human nature. But we cannot use the word in this sense, when we say sense of dependence, any more than when we say sense of danger. Sense in this case is not a power or faculty, is not an element or principle of nature, but a simple fact of experience. It means simply, that we mentally apprehend, perceive, or are conscious of the fact that we are dependent. It is an intellectual fact, a product of the activity of the intelligent subject, not an element of its nature. Consequently, it is idle to pretend, that, if the religious element be rightly defined the sense of dependence, it is an element or principle of our nature.
But Mr. Parker, though he officially defines the religious element to be the sense of dependence, tells us that he is not tenacious of that definition. Others,” he says, it the consciousness of the infinite ; I contend less for the analysis than for the fact of a religious element in man." p. 18, note. But, my dear Sir, how, unless you tell us what you mean by this religious element, are we to determine whether you have proved it to be an element of man's nature or not? We cannot allow you to write thus loosely. You affirm that there is a religious element in man, and that philosophical analysis of man's nature can detect it. If you have not determined what this element is, if you know not its characteristic, how do you know philosophical analysis can detect it ? We hold you to your definition, or to the alternative you give us. According to you, it is the sense of dependence, or, at least, the consciousness of the infinite. The first it cannot be, and, if held to that, you are evidently wrong. will give you the advantage of the second, but we will give you no other advantage. Say, then, the ultimate principle of religion is the consciousness of the infinite.” The infinite is not an element or principle of man's nature, for man's nature is finite. Consciousness is not a principle of nature at all, but simply the act or state of being conscious. It is a fact of life, not an element of nature. Consequently, the consciousness of the infinite, even admitting it to be a fact of our intellectual life, is no more, than the sense of dependence, an element or principle of human nature.
But perhaps we shall be told that it is not contended, strictly speaking, that the consciousness of the infinite is an element or principle of human nature, but that we are conscious of the infinite by virtue of a special principle or power
of our nature. This is, we suppose, the real doctrine of the Transcendentalists. Hence, Mr. Parker contends that we have spiritual senses, and that the idea of God is an intuition of reason. They question the unity of the intelligent principle in man, and seem to lay down the doctrine, that our knowledge does not differ objectively only, but subjectively also, — that we know one class of objects by virtue of one subjective intelligent power or principle, and another class by another. It is this doctrine which misleads them and involves them in the greater part of their errors and absurdities. But this doctrine we have refuted in our last Review, as well as on several previous occasions. The faculty of intelligence is not complex, but simple. It may have various degrees and conditions, but in itself is one and the same, whatever the degree or sphere of knowledge. The subjective power, by which I know an object to be a tree or a house, is one and the same with the power by which I know the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, or that I ought to love my neighbour as myself. Consciousness is nothing but a peculiar modification of knowing, and is the same subjectively considered, whatever the object of which I am conscious. If, then, I am conscious of the infinite, I am conscious of it by my general power of consciousness, and this consciousness- differs from any other consciousness only in so far as its object is different.
Strictly speaking, however, to say I am conscious of the infinite is absurd ; for I can be conscious only of myself as the subject of my own phenomena, whether voluntary, sentient, or intellectual. The fact of consciousness is restricted by all accurate psychologists to the recognition of myself, as subject in the intellectual phenomenon to which Leibnitz gives the name of apperception. In every act I perform, that is, in every actus humanus, I always recognize myself as subject or actor, as distinguished both from the act and the object to which I act. This recognition is the fact of consciousness, and the only fact to which the term is ever rightly applied. Consequently, to say I am conscious of the infinite is to affirm my own infinity, which is false and absurd. Instead of saying we are conscious of the infinite, we should say we perceive, or mentally apprehend, the infinite, - that is, the infinite is an object of our knowledge, or, in other words, we know the infinite.
But waiving these remarks on consciousness, which are conclusive in themselves, we deny that the consciousness of the
VOL. II. NO. IV.
infinite is an element or principle of our nature, for the simple reason, that we have no consciousness of the infinite. The infinite is conceived, but it is no object of knowledge. Knowledge of the infinite would be infinite knowledge, and infinite knowledge is possible only to an infinite subject, which man is not. Man is finite, and his knowledge is necessarily finite, and therefore limited to the finite.
This is a point we commend to the very serious attention of the Transcendentalists. They seem on many occasions, and when it suits their purpose, to be duly aware of the limited nature of our faculties, and the littleness and emptiness of our knowledge, as we see in the passage quoted from Mr. Parker, in which he is endeavouring to establish the fact of our own insufficiency for ourselves. Yet, with a consistency purely Transcendental, they contend that we may see God face to face, may have intuitive vision of the infinite !
The great endeavour of several of the later German metaphysicians, and of some of our own, as it was with the old Alexandrians, is to find in man's subjective power of cognition a faculty or principle by which he can cognize intrinsically the mysteries of faith. They find mankind believing in certain mysteries, which unquestionably transcend the reach of the ordinary understanding. These are believed, not by the few only, — the élite of the race, men of rare genius and cultivation, — but by the simple and uncultivated, the shepherd watching his flocks, and the rustic following his plough; and often by these more sincerely and more firmly than by the gifted and enlightened few. Whence is this?' Surely these simple, unlettered, and unreasoning masses have not demonstrated to their own minds the intrinsic truth of these mysteries, and reasoned themselves into the belief of them; for few, if any, of them can assign even a tolerable reason for their belief, or render any satisfactory account of it. Is this belief a delusion, and is the human race wholly deceived in its faith? We dare not say it. To say so would be to blaspheme humanity, and, in blaspheming humanity, to blaspheme humanity's Maker. To assume that it is a delusion would be to deny all criterion of truth and falsehood, and to plunge into the ocean of universal doubt. Moreover, it would be anti-philosophical to make such assumption, for it would be to assume the reality of an effect, and a most stupendous effect, without conceding it any actual or even possible cause.
This faith, then, must have a solid and imperishable ground
It is a mys
somewhere. It must be well founded. Hence, say they, there must be in man some principle or faculty, overlooked by philosophers generally, which takes imniediate cognizance of the objects of this faith. These objects all are, or imply, the infinite; therefore man must have the subjective power of cognizing the infinite. Therefore the infinite is cognoscible. Therefore the human race believe in the mysteries, because able, by the inherent faculties of the soul, to apprehend intuitively their intrinsic truth.
But what is this power? It is not sense, it is not intellect, it is not reason in its ordinary acceptation, but a faculty sui generis, which may indeed be called reason, but which cannot better be defined than by calling it a spiritual sense, or power of apprehending the invisible, of approaching the inapproachable, of knowing the unknowable, of comprehending the incomprehensible, of measuring the immeasurable ! terious and incomprehensible faculty, like the matters with which it places us in relation. All very intelligible, no doubt, to those who call darkness light, and finite infinite. But what is the evidence of the reality of such faculty ? The only ground, it will be seen from our statement, for asserting the reality of such faculty is the well known fact, that mankind do believe, and always have believed, and, in spite of all obstacles, persist in believing, in mysteries whose intrinsic truth transcends both the senses and the understanding. But how could they believe in such mysteries, if they had no power above that of the senses and the understanding, by which their intrinsic truth is apprehended ?
In reply, we may simply ask how a man who has never been in China can believe there is such a city as Peking? Assuredly, he does not perceive the intrinsic truth of the proposition, There is a city in China called Peking. Yet he believes it, and because he has, or believes he has, sufficient EXTERNAL evidence of the fact. The philosophers in question assume, that, since mankind believe in the mysteries, the intrinsic truth of the mysteries must be apprehended by them, which could not be, unless we had the subjective power of knowing it. But this assumption is unwarrantable ; for faith is to believe what is not intrinsically known. The facts adduced only prove the faith of mankind in mysteries ; and if it be faith, it is not knowledge. Therefore, the fact, that mankind believe in the mysteries, is itself not proof that the intrinsic truth of the mysteries is cognoscible, but that it is not cognoscible; and