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ed and admirable. The highest religious and moral facts may be as truly felt by the peasant as by the philosopher ; but the sole aim of philosophy is to understand the fact, – that is, to know it, not as a fact merely, but as a thought.
The same remarks will apply to the accounts of Fichte and Jacobi, which occupy the second volume, and of Schelling, which takes up most of the third. Shorter notices are given of the less important characters, such as Hamann, Herder, Fr. Schlegel, Novalis, &c. Hegel, who comes in at the latter part of the third volume, is only commenced, and moreover we have only been able to glance at this volume. The method, however, continues the same throughout, and thus does not leave much for us to say ; for, being an analysis itself, the work does not admit of being analyzed. We understand that the remainder of the work will occupy two or three volumes.
M. Damiron, if we mistake not, is the successor of Jouffroy, at the College of France; and some of our readers may have listened to the even stream of never-ending eloquence, always attractive but never entrancing, which he pours forth to admiring audiences in the Paris lecture-rooms.
The same qualities that mark him as a speaker, the same elegance, fluency, and learning, we find in his book.
The narrative manner that we remarked in M. Willm — the habit of talking about a system, and dwelling on superficial peculiarities instead of its relations to Thought in general — belongs, in a still greater degree, to M. Damiron, whose eloquence, moreover, is apt to become long-winded. In a spoken discourse this is more in place, and the repetition to which it gives rise less objectionable than where the attention is concentrated upon it in a book.
The arrangement of matter is as follows:- 1. A Preface, in which the advantages of a study of the History of Philosophy are discussed. These are: the aid derived from it in avoiding errors into which our predecessors have fallen; the removal of the attraction which novelty and the pride of discovery give to erroneous views; the support and advantage derived from the opinions of others, and from witnessing attacks upon and defences of various theories. Neither will this study hurt our originality, as is shown by the examples of Aristotle and Leibnitz. Then again the sympathy and communion of others is needed as much in Philosophy as in Religion. It is necessary also in order that we may be duly thankful, and have due respect for those who have preceded us. Nevertheless, we are not to depend too much on others, &c., &c.
Next, M. Damiron treats of the spirit of Philosophy, which he says is to be comprehended only in its relations to Faith. The difference between them is only in direction, or degree of growth; Faith being undeveloped Reason. The nature of Reason and Faith, however, or the nature of Cognition in general, is not further traced back, but merely discussed at considerable length, as a matter well understood. Next comes an Introduction, consisting of the Report of a Committee of the Academy appointed to award the prize for a dissertation on Cartesian philosophy. Analyses are given of several papers, and the subject-matter somewhat discussed; yet as the gist of the discussion is repeated in the body of the work, we are unable to see the propriety of occupying eightyfour octavo pages with it in this place.
We now come to the Essay itsell, which, commencing with Descartes, includes Ilobbes, Gassendi, Rohault, De la Forge, Regis, Antoine le Grand, Tobias Andreæ, De Cordemoy, De la Chambre, Clauberg, Geulinex, Spinoza, Arnault, Du Tertre, Lami, Boursier, Bossuet, Fenelon.
Of each of these writers, except Antoine and Bossuet, is given a biographical sketch, longer or shorter according to his importance; and a narrative of his opinions, closing with a general critique. Indeed, the whole work may be considered as Biography; the philosophical views of each being stated as facts, merely, as they might have appeared to an accurate, impartial, inquisitive neighbour. The object of the Iristory of Philosophy, M. Damiron thinks, (Preface II.) “is not properly Truth, but what has been thought about Truth;" —“it is to inventory, rather than invent.”
This method, as already remarked, is that generally adopted, to a greater or less extent, by the French writers on this subject, of the present day. In the case of M. Damiron, the advantage to be derived from this course is less than where, as in M. Willm's treatise, access to the originals is from any cause difficult. The work before us, therefore, is not so much a critique, or an auxiliary to the student of philosophy, as a convenient compendium for the general reader.
The following is extracted from his resumé of the philosophy of Descartes. “ To give at once the gist of his philosophy, we must say that he gave it a true point of departure, an incontestable criterium of truth, a simple and sure method ; — that he embraced in it a theory of the soul, which, if not unexceptionable in detail is irrefragable in principle; - a theory of God equally, at least in its fundamental arguments (and particularly in one of them), if not in all its points, above all objection; – a system of Physics and Physiology, not indeed without hypotheses and errors, but in which, nevertheless, besides important truths, is pointed out the way to many of the truths since recognized.” This extract will give a notion of the general character of this Essay as a critique.
Dr. Schaller, the third on our list, undertakes his task to display
progress of the Philosophy of Nature, from Bacon to the present day.
What is to be understood by a philosophy of nature, is a point about which there are very various views in the scientific world, the extremes of which are shown in the difference in acceptation of the terms Natural Philosophy among English, and Natur-philosophie among the Germans ; – the former signifying empirical Physics ; the latter inclining at least towards an a priori construction of Nature. These views Dr. Schaller considers equally onesided.“ Natural Science,” he says, “ seems to possess in observation, and the discoveries made thereby, a tield entirely apart from and untouched by Philosophy.” But — “Observation is necessarily thoughtful observation, and as such, only, has it any scientific value. As such only can it discover universal truth - the forces, the laws of Nature, and thus accomplish the task which it sets before itself. Nature may be spread before Man in all the fulness of her manifold forms, but it is Thought alone that opens his eyes and directs his attention to particular phenomena ;— that contrives experiments and puts questions to Nature herself; — that comprehends what is discovered, and holds it fast as worthy of notice, and as an essential phenomenon. .. Thus the unity of Empiricism and Speculation remains unbroken throughout the whole development of Natural Science:... these two forms of knowledge, from one stage to another, overcoming more and more their one-sided, limited nature, and approaching the complete truth.”
These two elements are more widely separated in proportion as we go back towards the earlier period of Modern Philosophy. This history Dr. Schaller divides into two general divisions :the mechanical view of Nature, from Bacon and Descartes to Kant; and the dynamic view, beginning with Kant. The two parts of his work which have been received by us, extend only through the immediate Kantian school. These two divisions are further subdivided as follows:
I. First Stage of the Mechanical View. 1. EMPIRICISM.
a. Bacon. b. Hobbes. C. Gassendi. 2. IDEALISM.
a. Descartes. b. Geulinex, Malebranche. c. Spinoza.
II. Second Stage of the Mechanical View. 1. EMPIRICISM.
b. Newton. c. Materialism. 2. IDEALISM.
a. Leibnitz. b. Wolf.
III. Third Stage of the NIechanical View'.
Descartes and Bacon, though so much opposed, yet both start from the same point, namely, the immediate perception of truth by the mind. The perception of truth implies a coincidence of the cognizant Subject and the Object of which the truth is known. They must be separate, else there is no reality in knowledge; and they must come together, else there is no truth. Hence arises an apparent contradiction, and a difficulty arises which can only be solved by a thorough understanding of the relation of Being and Thought, and which, meanwhile, must lead to Skepticism.
This difficulty is not felt, however, by Bacon nor by Descartes, and thus they do not advance to its solution.
Thus Bacon, although he demands a thoughtful consideration as well as observation of Nature, yet “ does not elevate himself to the thought that the forms in Nature are of absolute necessity, and implied in the very conception of Nature, but contents himself with pointing them out as cristing and general.” And he does not perceive that Thought does not proceed gradually and by accumulation of facts, (though the way for thought may be thus prepared), but always per soltum ; — and moreover, that Certainty could never be attained by any such accumulation, since we can never have all the facts, and a new fact might at any time destroy the best founded theory. Thus the Inductive system not only fails to explain the nature or possibility of knowledge, but also is at direct variance with the fact of knowledge, and with itself in demanding what it renders impossible.
Hobbes carries out Bacon's principles, and thus displays their results. Knowledge being the aggregate of observations, Thought is merely addition or subtraction, and nothing which cannot be added to, or subtracted from, can be known. Any thing simple and unsensuous is, therefore, unknowable. Thus of God, for instance, we can know nothing, but only believe, and this belief not resting by any possibility upon facts, is again a matter of belief. All first principles, therefore, are deduced a priori, without proof. What we know is not the essence, but depends upon something which we do not and cannot know.
Somewhat similar is Gassendi, who brought up again the philosophy of Epicurus, substituting God in the place of Chance, yet God is here also Chance. Nevertheless, Gassendi really belongs to Modern Philosophy, and his atomistic theory to the Empirical system. His atoms are products of reflection ; without
weight, invisible and indivisible; thus approaching somewhat to an idealistie principle.
Descartes makes knowledge attainable through the idea of God, the Absolute. Having this, (by faith,) we know God will not deceive us, and thus we can trust to clear and definite notions, as being true. God is the only Substance, and the laws of Matter are secondary, being implanted by Him. Of secondary substances, all those are distinct which can be clearly conceived as distinct. Mind and Matter are, therefore, distinct substances : Mind purely active; matter purely passive -- mere Being. Here, therefore, as in Bacon, the nature of Matter is uncomprehended, and no means or possibility pointed out for any comprehension. Natural Science is therefore necessarily empirical. And as Matter is purely passive, a force belonging to matter is inconceirable. There is no such thing, therefore, as Physics in the Cartesian philosophy, but only Mechanics. All force manifested in matter as Motion, must be given by impulse from without; and as matter does not change or vary in substance, but only in motion, Natural Science is destroyed. The interest begins just where the possibility of knowledge ends.
Geulincx carried out to its results this separation of mind and matter. It is impossible that Spirit should influence Body: the reason of their connection, or rather coincidence, lies in an (incomprehensible) harmony established by God, who must create perception of the outward world, for this could not become visible of itself.
Malebranche insists particularly on the mediation of God in our knowledge. General notions cannot be obtained through the limited faculties of the human mind, but only through God. They are not, however, immediately impressed on our minds, — for this would be a deception, — but through the medium of the outward world.
Spinoza. With Descartes the dependence of finite substances on the Infinite Substance is not fundamental, since they remain of different natures. They are dependent only as respects Existence, not in Essence. Spinoza makes this dependence essential. Mind and Matter (Thought and Extension) are indeed distinct, but only as different attributes of the one Substance.
Thus the diversity, the manifold variety of things, is only superficial. The only reality is Substance, and thus the only reality of the two attributes consists in their identity, that is, in Substance; so that their difference is an unreal one. The reality of Thought is not-Thought, and the reality of Extension non-extension. Determinatio est negatio : the reality of particular existence is negation. Thought, therefore, as that which is to discover reality, must consist in the negation of the facts of experience.
Locke shows consistency in abstaining from general principles.