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Cousin, in none of his works, has stated, and which we are confident he is unable to solve.
After the tenor of our previous observations, it is needless to say that we regard M. Cousin's attempt to establish a general peace among philosophers, by the promulgation of his Eclectic theory, as a failure. But though no converts to his Unconditioned, and viewing with regret what we must regard as the misapplication of his distinguished talents, we cannot disown a strong feeling of interest and admiration for those qualities, even in their excess, which have betrayed him, with so many other aspiring philosophers, into a pursuit which could only end in disappointment;—we mean his love of truth, and his reliance on the powers of man. Not to despair of philosophy is “a last infirmity of noble minds." The stronger the intellect, the stronger the confidence in its force; the more ardent the appetite for knowledge, the less are we prepared to canvass the uncertainty of the fruition. “The wish is parent to the thought." Loath to admit that our science is at best the reflection of a reality we cannot know, we strive to penetrate to existence in itself; and what we have laboured intensely to attain, we at last fondly believe we have accomplished. But, like Ixion, we embrace a cloud for a divinity. Conscious only of,-conscious only in and through, limitation, we think to comprehend the Infinite; and dream even of establishing the science — the nescience of man, on an identity with the omniscience of God. It is this powerful tendency of the most vigorous minds to transcend the sphere of our faculties, which makes a "learned ignorance” the most difficult acquirement, perhaps, indeed, the consummation, of knowledge. In the words of a forgotten, but acute philosopher :-“Magna, immo maxima pars sapentiæ est,quodam æquo animo nescire velle.” *
[“INFINITAS! INFINITAS ! Hic mundus est infinitas.
Quod cernis est infinitas; Infinitas et totus est,
Quod non vides corpusculum, (Nam mente nunquam absolveris;) Sed mente sola concipis, Infinitas et illius
Corpusculi et corpusculum, Pars quælibet, partisque pars. Hujusque pars corpusculi, Quod tangis est infinitas; Partisque pars, hujusque pars,
[See Appendix I. (B), for testimonies in regard to the limitation of our knowledge, from the limitation of our faculties.]
In hacque parte quicquid est, Queis contineris undique ; Infinitatem continet.
Quiesce mens, et limites Secare mens at pergito,
In orbe cessa quærere. Nunquam secare desine; Quod quæris in te repperis : In sectione qualibet
In mente sunt, in mente sunt, Infinitates dissecas.
Hi, quos requiris, termini ; Quiesce mens heic denique, A rebus absunt limites, Arctosque nosce limites In hisce tantum infinitas,
Proh, quantus heic acervus est !
nihil quod nostra mens
II.-PHILOSOPHY OF PERCEPTION.*
Euvres complètes de Thomas REID, chef de l'école Ecossaise.
Publiées par M. TH. JOUFFROY, avec des Fragments de M. ROYER-COLLARD, et une Introduction de l'Editeur.—Tomes II. -VI. 8vo. Paris, 1828-9, (not completed.)
WE rejoice in the appearance of this work,—and for two rea
We hail it as another sign of the convalescence of philosophy, in a great and influential nation; and prize it as a seasonable testimony by intelligent foreigners to the merits of a philosopher, whose reputation is, for the moment, under an eclipse at home.
Apart from the practical corruption, of which (in the emphatic language of Fichte) “ the dirt-philosophy” may have been the cause, we regard the doctrine of mind, long dominant in France, as more pernicious, through the stagnation of thought which it occasioned, than for the speculative errors which it set afloat. The salutary fermentation, which the scepticism of Hume determined in Scotland and in Germany, did not extend to that country; and the dogmatist there slumbered on, unsuspicious of his principles, nay even resigned to conclusions, which would make
[* In French by M. Peisse ; in Italian by S. Lo Gatto ; in Crosse's Selections.
Some deletions, found necessary in conseqnence of the unexpected length to which the Article extended, (especially from the second paragraph on this page, to “contributed,” near the top of p. 43), have been restored. Otherwise, I have added little or nothing to this criticism beyond references to my Dissertations supplementary of Reid, when the points under discussion are there more fully or more accurately treated.]
philosophy to man, the solution of the terrific oracle to Edipus:
“May'st thou ne'er learn the truth of what thou art !” Since the metaphysic of Locke,” says M. Cousin, “ crossed the channel on the light and brilliant wings of Voltaire's imagination, Sensualism has reigned in France without contradiction, and with an authority of which there is no parallel in the whole history of philosophy. It is a fact, marvellous but incontestable, that from the time of Condillac, there has not appeared among us any philosophical work, at variance with his doctrine, which has produced the smallest impression on the public mind. Condillac thus reigned in peace; and his domination, prolonged even to our own days, through changes of every kind, pursued its tranquil course, apparently above the reach of danger. Discussion had ceased : his disciples had only to develope the words of their master: philosophy seemed accomplished.”—(Journal des Savans, 1819.)
Nor would such a result have been desirable, had the one exclusive opinion been true, as it was false,-innocent, as it was corruptive. If the accomplishment of philosophy imply a cessation of discussion,-if the result of speculation be a paralysis of itself; the consummation of knowledge is only the condition of intellectual barbarism. Plato has profoundly defined man,“ The hunter of truth;" for in this chase, as in others, the pursuit is all in all, the success comparatively nothing. “Did the Almighty," says Lessing,“ holding in his right hand Truth, and in his left Search after Truth, deign to proffer me the one I might prefer ;-in all humility, but without hesitation, I should request—Search after Truth.” We exist only as we energise; pleasure is the reflex of unimpeded energy; energy is the mean by which our faculties are developed; and a higher energy the end which their development proposes. In action is thus contained the existence, happiness, improvement, and perfection of our being; and knowledge is only precious, as it may afford a stimulus to the exercise of our powers, and the condition of their more complete activity. Speculative truth is, therefore, subordinate to speculation itself; and its value is directly measured by the quantity of energy which it occasions,-immediately in its discovery,-mediately through its consequences. Life to Endymion was not preferable to death: aloof from practice, a waking error is better than a sleeping truth.—Neither, in point of fact,
is there found any proportion between the possession of truths, and the development of the mind in which they are deposited. Every learner in science is now familiar with more truths than Aristotle or Plato ever dreamt of knowing; yet, compared with the Stagirite or the Athenian, how few, even of our masters of modern science, rank higher than intellectual barbarians! Ancient Greece and modern Europe prove, indeed, that “the march of intellect” is no inseparable concomitant of “the march of science;”—that the cultivation of the individual is not to be rashly confounded with the progress of the species.
But if the possession of theoretical facts be not convertible with mental improvement, and if the former be important only as subservient to the latter; it follows, that the comparative utility of a study is not to be principally estimated by the complement of truths which it may communicate, but by the degree in which it determines our higher capacities to action. But though this be the standard by which the different methods, the different branches, and the different masters, of philosophy, ought to be principally (and it is the only criterion by which they can all be satisfactorily) tried ; it is nevertheless a standard, by which, neither methods, nor sciences, nor philosophers, have ever yet been even inadequately appreciated. The critical history of philosophy, in this spirit, has still to be written; and when written, how opposite will be the rank, which, on the higher and more certain standard, it will frequently adjudge,—to the various branches of knowledge, and the various modes of their cultivation,—to different ages, and countries, and individuals, from that which has been hitherto partially awarded, on the vacillating authority of the lower!
On this ground (which we have not been able fully to state, far less adequately to illustrate,) we rest the pre-eminent utility of metaphysical speculations. That they comprehend all the sublimest objects of our theoretical and moral interest ;-that every (natural) conclusion concerning God, the soul, the present worth, and the future destiny of man, is exclusively metaphysical, will be at once admitted. But we do not found the importance, on the paramount dignity, of the pursuit. It is as the best gymnastic of the mind, -as a mean, principally, and almost exclusively conducive to the highest education of our noblest powers, that we would vindicate to these speculations the necessity which has too frequently been denied them. By no other