« PreviousContinue »
the general fact, that a philosopher argues more against that teacher of philosophy from whom he has derived the main body of his opinions, whose system contains great part of that which his own consists of, than he does with the whole world beside. Could all that belongs to Leibnitz be abstracted from Kant, and all that belongs to Kant be abstracted from Fichte and Schelling, I should imagine that the metaphysical system of each would straightway fall into a shapeless, baseless wreck. There is perhaps no fallacy so common and so deluding as the imagination that we can understand another man's system of thought and feeling by looking at it from the outside, without having entered into it and abode in it, and learned experimentally its true nature and character. When a man is decrying German philosophy without having studied it, or perhaps read a word of what any German philosopher has written in his own books, his speech is sure to betray him : "so dangerous is it for the ablest man to attempt speaking of what he does not understand.” S. C.
Note Q., p. 366. See his Treatise concerning the Search after Truth.--- De la Recherche de la Vérilé, book iii., especially chap. 6.
Father Malebranche was born at Paris, 1638, died in the same city, Oct. 13, 1715. Cousin speaks as follows of this pious philosopher.
“ Nicholas Malebranche, l'un des Pères de l'Oratoire, ginie profond, caché sous un extérieur peu avantageux, et incontestablement le plus grand métaphysicien que la France ait produit, développa les idies de Descartes avec originalité, en les reproduisant sous des formes plus claires et plus animées ; mais son tour d'esprit érninemment religieux lui fit donner à sa philosophie un caractère mystique qui lui est particulier. La théorie de la connoissance, celle de l'origine des erreurs, surtout des erreurs qui tiennent aux illusions de l'imagination, enfin la méthode pour bien conduire notre pensée, telles sont les parties dont il a traité avec le plus de succés. Malebranche admit la théorie de la passivité de l'entendement et de l'activité libre de la volon!é; il considéra l'étendue comme l'essence des corps, l'âme comme une substance essentiellement simple, et Dieu comme le fond commun de toute existence et de toute pensée : ces doctrines l'amenèrent à combattre les idies innées par des objections pleines de force, et à soutenir que vous voyons tout en Dieu : Dieu, suivant lui, comprend en soi toutes choses de la marière dont elles s'offrent à notre intelligence; il est l'infini de l'espace et de la pensée, le monde intelligible et le lieu des esprits.” Manuel, vol. ii , pp 113–14.
Spoken by Mr. Dequincey in reference to a celebrated German writer.
It has been thought that there is a resemblance between the peculiar tenets of this philosopher and the doctrines of George Fox concerning divine illumination. They certainly prepare the way for the Idealism of Berkeley.
Among the posthumous works of Locke is An Examination of P. Malebranche's opinion of Seeing all things in God (Works, fol. 1751, vol. iii., p. 410), which examination is examined again by Leibnitz in his Remarques sur le sentiment du P. Malebranche, &c., 1708 (Opp. ed., Erdmann II., p. 456). To compare those two discourses is highly instruc. tive and interesting. There are other critiques by eminent men of the Father's doctrine. The following account of the last days of Malebranche is given in the Life of Berkeley prefixed to his Works, the materials of which were chiefly furnished by his brother. “ At Paris, Mr. Berkeley took care to pay his respects to the illustrious Père Malebranche. He found this ingenious father in his cell, cooking in a small pipkin a medicine for a disorder with which he was then troubled, an inflammation on the - Jungs. The conversation naturally turned on our author's system, of which the other had received some knowledge from a translation just published. But the issue of this debate proved tragical to poor Malebranche. In the heat of disputation he raised his voice so high, and gave way so freely to the natural impetuosity of a man of parts and a Frenchman, that he brought on himself a violent increase of his disorder, which carried him off a few days after."
Thus did the illustrious Father Malebranche melt away, as it were, like a man of snow, before the vigorous sun of Berkeley, who was then about one and thirty, splendid in mind and person, and potent with his tongue, while the Father had entered his seventy-eighth year; his great metaphysical mind,—the greatest perhaps that France ever produced, joined with an cager spirit, proving at last too much for the decaying tenement of his body, which appeared from the first so weakly put together that the wonder was how it kept the metaphysician within the bounds of Time and Space so long. Yet his term of earthly existence exceeded by eight years that of his robust rival, who expired Jan. 14, 1753, as he was sitting in the midst of his, family listening to a sermon," -an end very suitable to the tenor of his gentle and pious yet strenuous life. S. C.
Note Q. 2, p. 366. Etienne Bonnot de Condillac was born in 1715 at Grenoble, died in 1780. Cousin says that he labored to perfect the empirical system of Locke, and attempted to trace up all the active faculties of the soul to sensibility by means of the transformation of sensations. Others, as La Mettrie, carried forward this system, till they pushed it by its conse quences, or what they deemed such, into Atheism, Materialism, and a rigorous Determinism. Condillac has remained to the present time the representative of French philosophy, and its avowed chief. (Manuel, pp 208-10.) Des Cartes and Malebranche, though Frenchmen, were philosophers of so different a character, that they had no more to de towards the founding of this French school than metaphysicians of other bations. S. C.
Note R., Dr. Reid, who is considered by many to have been, as the Biographie Universelle describes him, the founder of a new era in the history of Modern Philosophy, was born in 1710, at Strachan in Kincardineshire. In 1763 he succeeded Adam Smith in the chair of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow University; died in October, 1796. He produced many works, the principal of which is Essays on the powers of the human mind : Lond., 1803, three vols., in 8vo.; and perhaps the most popular, Inquiry into the human mind on the principle of common sense, 8vo., which appeared in 1763: it came into a sixth edit. in 1804. He also wrote Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man: Edinb., 1786, in 4to.
Sir James Mackintosh, with his usual anxiety to give all men as well as all arguments their due, and to put down hasty and unjust depreciation, defends Dr. Reid from the charge of shallowness and popularity, and maintains his right to “a commendation more descriptive of a philosopher than that bestowed by Professor Cousin of having made a rigorous protest against scepticism on behalf of common sense." He alleges that this philosopher's “observations on suggestion, on natural signs, on the connexion between what he calls sensation and perception, though perhaps occasioned by Berkeley, whose idealism Reid had once adopted, are marked by the genuine spirit of original observation.” Sir James, however, admits that “ Dr. Brown very justly considered the claims of Reid to the merit of detecting the universal delusion which had betrayed philosophers into the belief that ideas, which were the sole objects of knowledge, had a separate existence, as a proof of his having mistaken their illustrative language for a metaphysical opinion." Whether a man who utterly misunderstands the language of preceding philosophers on a cardinal point can himself be a deep thinker," is a question which I do not pretend to solve; I only think it is a question, and without offering a philosophical opinion I must say that Dr. Reid's
In this misapprehension Professor Stewart has followed him, as is evident from Elements, chap. iv., section ii
literal way of understanding his predecessors in the matter of ideas, and his representing them accordingly as a set of cloud-weavers and phan. tasts, has always reminded me of certain amusing remarks in Lamb's Essay entitled “ Imperfect Sympathies.” His bantering style too is more popular than philosophic, and scarcely evinces that patience and modesty for which Sir James, I doubt not on sufficient grounds, npon a review of his whole works, gives himn credit. I should say, if it were worth while to record my impression-(I do not call it a judgment) that Cousin's summary of his merits is as clear-sighted and clever as his summaries usually are, and that a certain vigor in commanding and presenting a limited view of the subject of external perception, is the best characteristic of Dr. Reid's Inquiry. And was it not this mistaken part of his teaching more than his intelligent remarks in extension of that of Berkeley, which installed him in his high reputation of " the founder of a new era ?” Dr. Reid's great merit, even according to Stewart, consisted in his having “ had courage to lay aside all the hypothetical language of his predecessors concerning perception, and to exbibit the difficulty in all its magnitude by a plain statement of the fact.”* But if he misunderstood that language, and combated, as Sir James affirms (p. 164), “ imaginary antagonists,” where was his victory? Was not this combat and seeming triumph the very pith and marrow of his book, and that which gave it great part of its savor to the public ? Did he really advance the science of metaphysics materially beyond the point at which it had arrived in the days of Berkeley? The answer to Berkeley from the first had been : “Nevertheless we do perceive an external world, and what presents itself within ns, which we instinctively refer to things without is, does really tell us that there are things without us, and whal they are ip reference to us; and that we feel as sure of this as of our existence, and are incapable, by the constitution of our minds, from thinking otherwise, is a sufficient proof that it is true. Does Reid's explanation amount to more than what has just been expressed! But so much as this Berkeley himself anticipated. He stated the objection to his theory contained in the fact of universal original belief of the contrary, and tried to push it aside—it was the only obstacle that did not yield to his victorious hand.t
That Dr. Reid's philosophy was received with applause in Paris, when taught there by M. Royer Collard, favors the supposition that it was clear rather than deep; smart, rather than characterized by the grave energy, which slowly and laboriously grasps a something more of
Elements, p. 69.
truth,-a real and substantial something. Hume's compliment to Dr. Reid's profundity may have been mere gentlemanly courtesy to a gentlemanly antagonist. He would perhaps have been as polite to Dr. Beattie, if he had not “indulged himself in the personalities and invectives of a popular pamphleteer," and so departed from fairness and, what he undertook to defend, “ common sense.”
Dugald Stewart, the accomplished disciple of Reid, and improver of his philosophy, was born in the College of Edinburgh in 1753, became Professor of Moral Philosophy there in 1785, died in June, 1828. He published Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind in 1792, Philosophical Essays in 1810, Outlines of Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of the Active and Moral powers of Man, and other works. Sir James Mackintosh has given his character, as a man and an author, in his interesting Dissertation, p. 145, edit. 1830. S. C.
Note S., p. 371. I take this opportunity of mentioning that the solution of the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise brought forward in The Friend (see vol. iii., pp. 92, 3d and 4th edits.) and in Tait's Mag. of 1834, is distinctly given by Leibnitz in his Letters to Mr. Foucher, Sur quelques axiomes philosophiques, in which he says, “ Ne craignez point, Monsieur, la tortuë que les Pirrhoniens faisoient aller aussi vîte qu'Achille. Un espace divisible sans fin se passe dans un tems aussi divisible sans fin. Je ne conçois point d'invisibles physiques sans miracle, et je crois que la nature peut réduire les corps à la petitesse que la Giomitrie peut considérer.” In his rejoinder to Foucher's reply he says that P. Gregoire de St. Vincent has shown, by means of geometry, the exact place where Achilles must have caught the tortoise. Opp. ed. Erdmann, I.,
Aristotle, in his brief way, had given the solution long before, when he said that Time does not consist of indivisible nows or now-existents εκ των νυν όντων αδιαιρίτων any more than any other magnitude. See the editor's note upon the passage of The Friend referred to above. S. C.