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into the popular system of the philosophy of Locke, and, was thus not merely saved from destruction, but introduced with such company as insured it a reception. It never can be denied that a strong tinge of materialism pervaded a phi-, losophy which made ideas the products of sensation, without allowing any distinction between the ideas of abstract and moral: essences, and the phenomena of visible matter: and still less can it be denied that a philosopher, who maintained the possibility of cogitation in matter*, and that the soul owes the perfection of rational thinking to the body t, gave some encouragement to the sceptic to assert the materiality of the thinking substance, the, doctrine of fatal necessity, moral irresponsibility, and other such desperate conclusions.
Descartes and Malebranche had turned the current of thinking in France towards an ideal philosophy, correspondent in many of its characters to the spiritual elevation of the Platonic system, to which great additional splendor had been imparted by the eloquence and virtues of Fenelon, Bossuet, and Pascal. But the celebrity of Locke soon found its way to the continent, where Condillac and Helvetius were ready to embrace his philosophy of sensations in its widest extent, and to carry it to every consequence prejudicial to the religious and spiritual interests of man of which it was susceptible. In Diderot the degradation was complete; in his “System of Nature,” materialism, such as it was maintained by Leucippus and Epicurus, was renewed, and philosophy was in danger of falling back into the darkness of ancient paganism.
The aversion of Locke to innate ideas would not suffer him to allow the Deity to have any native seat in the mind of man; God was also to find his way thither with the herd of common ideas by sense and experience. To discredit the persuasion of any such stamp of the Divinity upon the mind, he set himself to discover, as Madame de Staël observes, out of all the narratives of travellers, some nations who were destitute of any religious belief, The remark of Madame de Staël upon the singularity of the circumstance, that a being so religious as Locke should try to change the primitive characters of belief into an accidental knowledge, is very natural and just; and the ensuing comments on the fallacy in which the great philosopher strove to involve the fact on which he so reasoned are full of eloquence and fire.
It is an observation of Madame de Staël, that Descartes, Pascal, and Malebranche had much more resemblance to the German
* See the Controversy with the Bishop of Worcester, book iv. ch. 3. sect. 6. † Essay concerning the Human Understanding, book ii. ch. i. sect. lô.
philosophers than to the French writers of the eighteenth century: and she is perfectly right; for the French writers of the eighteentlı century have been among the most pernicious fabricators of moral mischief that have declared war against the human soul. But we are far from agreeing with her that Malebranche and the Germans differ in this--that the one lays down as an article of faith what the others reduce into a scientific theory. It is not that Malebranche and the idealists of that school promulgated their opinions as articles of faith, but that they endeavoured to shew that their opinions were consistent with every tittle of that faith which holy Scripture has taught; while the German philosophers of these last tifty years have set up their own theories as the tests of Scripture, treating its doctrines in a light and speculative way, and making use of its authority only where it could be bent into accommodation to the postulates of their imperious systems. We will venture also to say, that this lady has violently misunderstood the course of intellectual progression in supposing that “ if the French had followed the metaphysical bias of their great men of the seventeenth century, they would now have entertained the same opinions as the Germans."
The truth is, that when men employ their minds in the pursuit of a knowledge for which there are no clear intelligible data, he must be bold indeed who will venture to say into what theories they may be ultimately carried by the undisciplined. currents of their thoughts. The great object of all pure metaphysical research has hitherto been to develope and determine the origin of our ideas. Nothing on this head can be certainly known until the nature of the “ sensitive faculty” is understood. According to the materialists, "all existences are either bodies, or the properties or relations of bodies.” The “ sensitive faculty" with them is therefore in the nervous system; and thought itself is the result of mere organized matter, operated upon in a thousand ways by vibrations or other impulses. The ideal philosophers differ widely among themselves in the distance at which they retreat from matter; some allow the “ sensitive faculty” to be a faculty which receives impressions, but where it is to be placed those who agree in admitting its existence extremely differ: some place it in the material organization, denying, however, that the incorporeal soul seizes any thing but the idea, not being susceptible itself of any impressions, and therefore having no sensitive faculty; and some placing it in the soul itself, which acknowledges the impressions made on the senses. Others again deny any sensitive faculty altogether, as well as any external world, maintaining, that as solidity, extension, figure, and colour are the only properties whereby the existence of inaterial substances can be knowir, and as these properties exist in sensation or relatiou only, which are in us and not in the things themselves, the substances themselves cau have no existence but in the mind. The world of ideas is therefore the only world of realities. With these propositions the philosophical sceptics, or pyrrhonists, readily close. They say there is contained in this doctrine an admission that every thing is radically uncertain; for since ideas are not the things themselves, but merely copies, what meaus are there of judging whether the ideas of things resemble the things they are said to represent. There is, therefore, no possible criterion of truth; and it becomes a philosopher to reject all certainties, and rest in tranquillity about every thing past, present, and to come, and acknowledge nothing as clear. In this ideal system we perceive a source of infidelity as great and desperate as that in which materialism terminates; the tendencies may proceed through more or fewer gradations, but the extremes ultimately meet in a point that releases man from responsibilty, and bereaves him of hope. Malebranche would have considered it as a great insult to the dignity of his doctrine to have been told that the system of Berkeley could ever be established upon it; and Berkeley would have been equally indignant at being associated with such a free thinker as Hume.
The German metaphysicians are a species of eclectics, without acknowledging it. They profess to propound systems entirely their own; but, alas! they move within the circle of a magical influence, which, after all their toils of abstraction, returns them to the place from which they set out.
Among the loftiest of these lofty pretenders to discovery in the terra incognita of mind is Professor Kant, with whose principles we must presume Madame de Staël to be well acquainted, as she bestows upon him so much commendation. To minds of less penetration the very cabala of his terms would oppose an impassable barrier. At the portals of his mystical science stands a frowning demon, whose very aspect is enough to petrify profane curiosity. At a respectful distance we have ventured to make some timorous enquiries, and we learn, in general, that the great object of the great professor has been to keep himself pure from any of the existing systems of materialism, spiritualism, idealism, and scepticism; that his next step has been to discover the precise point of delusion which has hitherto prevented the great philosophers of the mind from forming an union of principle, which he at length ascertained to lie in their respective methods of philosophising. They all neglected, according to him, to enquire into the true nature and constitution of the power of
knowledge,” the extent and operations of which they should have considered before looking into the properties of the things which are the subjects of this knowledge. The first enquiry, according to the professor, should be“ wherein consists the power of knowledge, and not,“ wherein consists the essences of the things we know.” The objects of the visible and invisible world are the objects of knowledge, which cannot inform us wherein knowledge consists, much less wherein consists the power of knowledge. Now to all this we have constantly returned the following simple answer-how can we know any thing of knowledge but by its effects, or by considering it with relation to knowable objects and things? So that if we could find a method of converting the frowning demon, which we have alluded to, into a person as complaisant as the showman at Exeter Change, we should still stick fast at the threshold, and must be contented to hear the elephant roar from within.
We have looked a little into the system of morals, we beg his pardon, the metaphysics of morals of Mr. Professor Kant, in which we find his fundamental proposition to be this, “ Act according to those principles only, of which thou canst will that they ought to become the general laws of conduct among all reasonable beings.” To this we cordially subscribe; but we think we owe no gratitude to any human wisdom for the discovery while our Saviour's golden rule is before us, As
would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them likewise.”
But the boast of Kant's great moral principle is this, that whereas all other philosophers have proposed some final end or purpose as the criterion of moral good, the professor will have us build our morality upon reason only. The moral systems of others, say the followers of Kant, place the morality of actions in their consequences, whereas he tells his disciples to be on all occasions morally good, whatever may be the consequence. Other moralists make reason the servant of sensation and enjoyment; Mr. Kant makes reason the beginning and end.
Now to all this may it not be answered that the scriptural precept is equally pure from any self
selfish purpose? It leaves the final object untouched, resting on the sanity of the rule, and the authority of the propounder. But after all that has been or can be written, on this most useless of all topics, will not happiness in some sort, differing indeed greatly in quality, continue practically the great motive of our actions and if that happiness, purified through the medium of religion, involves the happiness of those with whom we live in society, is such a self-love unworthy of the purest ethics? We agree, however, that the regulation of conduct by reference
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to consequences is not without its dangers; and that even the happiness of our fellow creatures might be a dangerous rule if adopted as the end of our actions upon too large a scale of calculation.' We can never be warranted in doing any thing contrary to justice or veracity, upon the pretext of a preponderancy of good to arise to the mass of human beings from such particular breaches. It is our business to act so as to produce happiness within a sphere of proximate and immediate benevolence, leaving that, of which we possess faculties too limited to judge, to him to whom these catholic ends exclusively belong. Such general objects are beyond the tact of an individual, and could not be the law of his conduct without causing hiin to start out of his place in society. In complicated operations, for the whole to be well conducted, each man must attend exclusively to the part assigned him.
As universal happiness is too wide a scope to regulate specific moral action, so mere solitary love of self can never be the true and proper end of the activity of a human being; when pursued in practice it is found to defeat itself; it is contradictory, and cannot therefore be true; and it is also confuted by that inoral faculty, most obviously implanted in us, of discerning and feeling the right from the wrong, and which though feebler in some than others, is always, if attended to before habit has perverted it, capable of great enlargement by religious education. “Again if the criterion of right were utility alone, it would be absurd to suppose any moral sense or faculty connatural with our minds, for a know e of utility could only come by experience, and such a rule would evidently be as precarious and fluctuating as the circumstances and interests of mankind.
But the grand principle of Kant, apparently free from all reference to consequences, stands upon no real bottom. to do that upon all occasions which it is reasonable that all men sliould do. He must intend by this reason either an instrument or an end. If an instrument, we are to use reason in ascertaining the propriety of the act; and then it becomes a question, what is the propriety ?-Is it fitness, utility, obedience, or what else? If by reason, in this place, we are to understand an end, then the question will be, what is reasonable? If the answer be, that which is virtuous and good; then how is virtue or goodness to be determined but with reference to consequences, and combined with feelings and sensations? Mere fitness or unfitness in actions, discernible by the essential differences of things, admitting the existence of such a chimera, would only be a natural, and not a moral good.
Wearied with walking in these vain shadows, where can the fainting pilgrim find rest for his feet unless upon the floor of the sanctuary? Where can he end his search, but in assuming the