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A SHORT HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

ARCHIBALD B. D. ALEXANDER - 1922 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Voltaire.
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.

 

A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos
Fénelon

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt

 

A SHORT HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

 

INTRODUCTION

Part I. GREEK PHILOSOPHY


Its origin and character

PHYSICAL PERIOD
MONASTIC THEORIES
PLURALISTIC THEORIES

MORAL PERIOD
THE SOPHISTS
SOCRATES. Cynics and Cyrenaics

SYSTEMATIC PERIOD
PLATO
ARISTOTLE

Part II. PHILOSOPHY IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD

ETHICAL THEORIES
Stoicism. Epicureanism
Scepticism

RELIGIOUS TENDENCIES
Roman Moralists: Seneca, Epictetus, M. Aurelius
Alexandrian Mystics: Philo, Plotinus, Proclus

Part III. PHILOSOPHY OF MIDDLE AGES

THE PATRISTIC PERIOD Augustine and Church Fathers

SCHOLASTIC PERIOD Nominalism and Realism

PLATONIC INFLUENCE
Anselm, Abelard, Peter Lombard

ARISTOTELIAN INFLUENCE
1. Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas
2. Duns Scotus, Francis of Assisi, William of Occam
 

Part IV. REVIVAL OF PHILOSOPHY

TRANSITION PERIOD
1. Revival of Learning
2. Reformation
3. Rise of Sciences
Bruno, Böhme, Montaigne

REALISTIC TENDENCY
Bacon
Gassendi
Hobbes

IDEALISTIC TENDENCY
Descartes

PANTHEISTIC TENDENCY
Geulinx, Occasionalism
Malebranche, Pantheism
Spinoza, Acosmism

Part V. PHILOSOPHY OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT

[Introduction]

SECT. I. ENLIGHTENMENT IN BRITAIN
Empiricism-Locke
Development of empiricism-Berkeley
Sceptical Conclusion-Hume

THEOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS
Natural Philosophy
Theological Controversy
Ethical Theories
Scottish Philosophy

SECT. 2. ENLIGHTENMENT IN FRANCE
Earlier Rationalism
Bossuet, Fontenelle, Bayle, Montesquieu, Condillac, Helvetius
Materialistic Tendencies
Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert,  La Mettrie, Holbach, Rousseau

SECT. 3. ENLIGHTENMENT IN GERMANY
INDIVIDUAL IDEALISM—LEIBNITZ

FOLLOWERS OF LEIBNITZ
Thomasius, Tschirnhausen, Wolff

POPULAR PHILOSOPHY
Mendelssohn, Nicolai
Lessing

Part VI. GERMAN IDEALISM


SECT. I. CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY—KANT
INTRODUCTION

KANT'S THEORETIC PHILOSOPHY

KANT'S MORAL PHILOSOPHY

PHILOSOPHY OF ART AND RELIGION

SECT. 2. DEVELOPMENT OF IDEALISM

PHILOSOPHY OF FEELING
Hamann, Herder, Jacobi
Schiller and Humboldt

SUBJECTIVE IDEALISM—FICHTE
1. Science of Knowledge
2. Its Theoretic Principles
3. Its Practical Sphere

OBJECTIVE IDEALISM—SCHELLING
1. Philosophy of Nature
2. Philosophy of Identity
3. Mythology and Revelation

ROMANTIC SCHOOL
1. Novalis and Schlegel
2. Baader and Krause
3. Schleiermacher

 

SECT. 3. ABSOLUTE IDEALISM—HEGELIANISM
CONCEPTION AND METHOD
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
REACTION AGAINST HEGELIANISM
1. Herbart
2. Beneke
3. Schopenhauer

Part VII. MOVEMENTS SINCE HEGEL TO THE PRESENT


GERMAN THOUGHT—AFTER HEGEL
1. Influence of Hegelianism
2. Materialistic Tendency—Haeckel
3. Idealistic Tendency
Fechner, Lotze, Hartmann, Wundt
4. Modern Psychology
5. Neo-Kantianism
Dühring, Schuppe, Ritschl
6. Eucken and Activist Tendency

FRENCH THOUGHT—FROM THE REVOLUTION
1. Cousin and Eclecticism
2. Comte and Positivism
3. Religious Philosophy
4. Philosophy of Development—Taine, Renan, Fouillée

BRITISH PHILOSOPHY IN THE VICTORIAN ERA
1. Utilitarianism—Bentham and Mill
2. Evolution—Darwin and Spencer. Maurice, Newman, Martineau
3. Influence of German Idealism. Caird, Green, Bradley, etc.

THE TREND OF THOUGHT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Anti-Conceptualism—Bergson
Pragmatism—Wm. James
Neo-Realism. Revival of Idealism in Italy. The Philosophy of the Gifford Lectures

 

CONCLUSION

 

BOOKS OF REFERENCE

 

Part VII. MOVEMENTS SINCE HEGEL TO THE PRESENT

Chap. II. Recent French Thought

The progress of philosophy in France was greatly retarded by the Revolution. Thought was dethroned by passion, and in the popular mind superstition and occultism usurped the place of knowledge. Before the beginning of the century a powerful impulse had been given to psychological studies from the investigations of the physician Cabanis, who had pushed the doctrines of Condillac to their extreme. Cabanis, whose principal work was Relations between the Physical System and Mental Faculties of Man, endeavoured to prove that both volition and intelligence are evolved from physical movement. He exerted an influence upon Gall (i758-1828), the founder of phrenology, a system based on the assumption that the character of the mind can be determined by the mass of the brain. In the early part of the century this theory was widely propagated by Spurzheim in Germany and France, and also in England, where it was taken up by Combe and others. These ideas, somewhat crude and unscientific, paved the way for the more systematic investigations into the relations of psychology and physiology, of which, as we have just seen, Fechner, Weber, and Wundt in Germany are the chief exponents.

 

  Immediately after the French Revolution, France was too busy putting its house in order to afford much time for speculation proper. The first Napoleon, as is well known, was wont to express unmitigated scorn of idealists and philosophers generally. He was seeking to reconstruct society and to set up a military despotism. But, as often happens, the very discouragement of thought was more favourable to its growth than its patronage would have been.

Men were forced to ask what was the meaning of this empire which had arisen out of the ruins of the Revolution. It was felt that there were factors of society which must be taken account of, ignored by the eighteenth century writers. History must be studied and humanity investigated. The fearful degradation and disorder of the French peasantry, which had once hoped to share universal freedom but had suffered a bitter disillusionment, awakened in the heart of Fourier and others, who set themselves to meditate on the conditions of human society, communistic ideals which experiment, however, only proved to be impracticable.

After the restoration of peace, reflection succeeded to action. The impulse to social inquiry was not less strong, but it began to exhibit itself more in philosophical theories and systematic study of the various ages and races of men.

In the department of mere philosophy a reaction set in against the materialistic doctrines of Condillac which, it was felt, lay at the foundation of the aberrations of the eighteenth century. The most thoughtful men were convinced that consciousness was not to be explained by sensation. The influence of Scottish and German philosophy had begun to act upon France. Reid and Dugald Stewart were translated. Madame de Stael and others had brought reports from Germany of the wonderful systems of Kant and Jacobi, of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Fresh interest was awakened; the idealism of the Germans seemed to be the element needed to balance and complete the realism of France.

1. A new spiritualistic departure was made by such men as Maine de Biran, Prevost, Ancillon, Royer-Collard, Jouffroy, and, above all, Cousin. Founded by Royer-Collard, established by Victor Cousin, this school owes its originality and distinctive character more to Maine de Biran than any other, whom Cousin calls the first metaphysician of his time. It was he who struck the distinctively spiritual note. The method of psychology, he held, cannot be the method of physical science. The leading idea of Maine de Biran is that a being who knows himself must consider himself from a point of view different from that from which he regards a thing known externally. The mistake made by the Sensationalists was that they confused spiritual forces with physical causes. By what right is a being who is conscious of his acts, and of the activity with which he performs them, to be treated as an external object? Between the absolute of the pure metaphysicians and the phenomenalism of the empiricists there is a third point of view, that of Self-reflection, which enables the subject to distinguish itself from its own modes and from the hidden causes, the existence of which we assume outside ourselves. The primary fact of consciousness, Maine de Biran held, is voluntary effort, by which we know the ego and the non-ego in their mutual opposition.

If Maine de Biran gave the original impulse to Spiritualism, Royer-Collard (i763-1845) may be regarded as the real founder of the school. As the first occupant, in 1809, of the Chair of Philosophy in the newly constituted University of Paris, he exerted a wide influence by his attempt to reconcile idealism and sensationalism. He favoured a kind of agnosticism similar to that of the Scottish school, which held that consciousness is not the product of feeling, but of certain unknowable mental categories. Royer-Collard's most distinguished follower was Victor Cousin, one of the ablest and most eloquent men France has produced (1792-1867). Cousin is known as the principal representative of the Eclectic school. Instead of originating a philosophy of his own, he subjected all forms of thought to a searching examination, combining into a system the various elements of different schools. The intuitionalism of Scottish thought, the critical philosophy of Kant, the mysticism of Neoplatonism, the transcendentalism of Schelling and Hegel were all reviewed and made tributary to his all-embracing scheme of knowledge. It was his aim to combine in one school the thought of the world. He translated Plato in thirteen volumes, edited the writings of Descartes, and wrote essays on Abelard, Pascal, and Locke. His principal works are a History of Philosophy and a valuable treatise on The True, the Beautiful, and the Good. He was eminent as a critic rather than as an original thinker. He was distinguished as a writer by his moral earnestness, his lucid and graceful expression, and his power of co-ordinating the facts of history and life so as to make them illustrative of evolution. Born within a stone-throw of the Bastille, with its tragic associations, Cousin became a politician as well as a philosopher. On account of his liberalism, in 1821 he was deposed from his office, and spent some time in Germany studying the various systems of German thought. Here he made the acquaintance of Hegel, whose Philosophy of the Absolute filled him with admiration. On his return to France he was reinstated in his Chair at the Sorbonne, where he sought to translate into clear and graceful periods the often dark and uncouth language of the German metaphysician. The enthusiasm which his lectures created can only be paralleled by the excitement roused by the teaching of Abelard in the middle ages.

The Eclectic school, however, at this point, was divided into two branches, a German and a Scottish. The first was represented by Cousin, and the second by his disciple, Jouffroy. Cousin adopted Hegel's conception of philosophy, as thought thinking itself, having itself for its object. The chief feature of his philosophy was his theory of reason, which he conceived not only as a conscious determination, but also as an instinct. It is desirable to enumerate the principles of the mind, but it is more important still to grasp them in a unity. He dwells on two distinctive characteristics of reason—its spontaneity and its impersonality. By establishing the spontaneity of reason he thought to escape from Kant's subjectivity, which he held was due to Kant contemplating the laws of the mind at the reflective instead of at the spontaneous stage. Before reflection is possible, there is an anterior act of mind, a spontaneous act which Cousin calls the "pure apperception of truth." Before truth presents itself to us as necessary, which it does on reflection, it appears simply as true. Spontaneous reason is the first stage, when truth appears as an intuition, an inspiration. Reason is also impersonal. If reason were an individual faculty, it would be variable like our will, or relative like our senses. But it is the same for all men. I do not say my truths. Reason is the truth manifesting itself not in me, but in man. An appeal to reason, Cousin held, is not an appeal to the mere individual, but to that which is common to all individuals. In this impersonality or universality of reason Cousin recognises the best safeguard against anarchy and individualism. It is the supremacy of reason which binds men together. At a later period Cousin linked those two features of reason in a higher—the idea of the infinite or absolute, which is God, in whom the one and the many, the real and the phenomenal, are united, and who is the foundation of all reason and thought. "To think is to know that we think, to trust one's thought, to believe in the principle of thought. ... So that all thought implies the spontaneous belief in God."

While Cousin thus maintained the most lofty idea of philosophy, Jouffroy adopted rather the spirit of the Scottish school and severed himself from his master. He divided all questions of philosophy into two classes—questions of fact and ulterior questions. But the latter he only admitted in so far as they were related to the former. All philosophical questions resolved themselves into questions as to the laws and categories of the mind, into problems, in short, of psychology.

Cousin became not only a popular teacher of philosophy, but also one of the most influential political leaders of France. His career is identified with the great struggles of his country for civil and intellectual liberty, and to him more than to any other is due a settlement of those educational and social questions which were exercising men's minds. When his friend and pupil, Guizot, became Prime Minister after the Revolution of 1830, Cousin was made Director of Public Instruction. The direction of the philosopher's thought to practical affairs indicates the line which the energies of Frenchmen are prone to follow. Almost unconsciously the French mind turns to social questions, and the needs and claims of political life have invariably cast abstract speculation into the shade.

A certain realism belongs to the French genius. Frenchmen think in the concrete. They are more interested in the affairs of life and questions of humanity than in ontological problems of Being and Essence. Theories of social contract, of political liberty, and general communism have always had a peculiar fascination for them. The country which produced a Rousseau also gave birth to a Fourier, a St. Simon, and a Comte. Visions of a universal Church and a universal Bank rose before the St. Simonians, and it seemed for a time as if another social revolution was to be attempted. The Divine and the Secular were to be combined. Principles of theology and of political economy were regarded as identical. But a reaction set in. An acute philosopher, an adherent of St. Simon, came forth to prove that theology belonged to the dim past, that philosophical questions belonged to a later period, and that the age of science, of positive knowledge, which deals only with the laws of nature and the outward phenomena of the world, had now arrived.

2. While Cousin and Jouffroy were lecturing at the Sorbonne, Auguste Comte was laying the foundations of his Sociology. He was born in 1798 at Montpellier. Distinguished by his aptitude for mathematics, he became a teacher of that science in Paris, but at the instigation of St. Simon, he began the researches which ultimately led to the construction of his philosophical system. In his own country, during his lifetime, he had only a limited following, and while the lecture-hall of Cousin was crowded, Comte's public exposition of his philosophy had few hearers. Under the influence of John Stuart Mill in England and of Littre in France his views eventually acquired both here and abroad a considerable recognition. Comte died in comparative poverty in 1857. His character was by no means an estimable one. He was vain, dogmatic, and egotistical. He vilified the friend and patron of his youth, St. Simon, to whom he was indebted both pecuniarily and intellectually, and the only recompense Mill and others in England received for the assistance and support they gave him was ingratitude and reproach. His chief work is Cours de Philosophic Positive, in six volumes (1840-2), a translation and condensation of which has been published by Harriet Martineau.

The philosophy of Comte is known as Positivism. "Positivism," he says, "is essentially composed of a philosophy and a polity, which are necessarily inseparable, because they constitute the basis and aim of a system in which intellect and sociability are intimately connected." Dissatisfied with the manifold socialistic and communistic theories to which the Revolution had given rise, Comte conceived the idea of constructing a new social system on scientific principles. In order to construct his sociology he finds it necessary to organize the sciences, i.e. to unify knowledge and bring it within the sphere of scientific investigation. If the social life of man is to attain to the dignity of a science, it must be dealt with in the same positive and exact way as any other science. All sciences, indeed, social as well as physical, must be conceived as branches of one science, and be investigated by one and the same method. This has not hitherto been the case. In the interpretation of the world and of life, all kinds of unscientific and supernatural explanations—providences, interventions, miracles—have been resorted to, and the various sciences have only attained to exactitude, to precision, by gradual steps and at different periods. Hence Comte was led to the enunciation of his famous law of historical progress—"the law of the three stages"—which he applies to all departments of life and thought. Every branch of knowledge passes successively through the threefold periods—the religious or supernatural, the metaphysical or abstract, the positive or scientific.

In the theological stage man seeks after causes, and regards all effects as the productions of supernatural agents. It is the stage of the human mind in which feeling predominates, and imagination resorts first to Fetichism, next to Polytheism, and later to Monotheism in explanation of the world.

 

  In the metaphysical or transitional stage, reason comes to the front, and starting with monotheism, supernatural agents are set aside for abstract forces, infinite entities, and first causes, the constancy of whose appearance leads the mind to conclude that they are not produced by the intervention of an external being, but belong to the nature of things themselves.

In the third stage—the positive—the mind is convinced of the futility of all inquiry into causes and essences, and restricts itself to the observation and classification of phenomena according to the invariable relations of succession and similitude which things bear to each other.

It will thus be seen that Comte holds that all knowledge is relative. We know nothing save phenomena. To talk of first causes and ultimate ends of things has no meaning. The mind can only deal with facts as they are presented to us, and the discovery and systematizing of the laws of nature, by observation and induction, can be the only legitimate aim of man.

Comte proceeds to apply this law of the three stages to the history of mankind in order to construct a theory of society. As a basis for his new science of sociology he finds it necessary to co-ordinate the sciences. This classification in the order of their dependence determined by the degrees of simplicity or generality of the phenomena they deal with, has been pronounced by Comte's admirers as one of the great achievements of modern thought. In the hierarchy of the sciences there is a regular progress visible from the simple to the more complex. Mathematics is followed by Astronomy, that by Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and, finally, by Sociology, which is made to rest on the preceding. All the sciences, according to Comte, have reached the positive stage, more or less, with the exception of the last, the science of man as a social being. To found and elaborate this science is the purpose of Comte's labours.

The two conditions of civilization he conceives to be order and progress, which must, therefore, form the basis of every scientific political system. Corresponding to these two ideas, he divides Sociology into two parts; the one of which he calls the Static, under which he considers the conditions; and the other, the Dynamic, which has to do with the laws of social movement. Under the first, the Static, he deals with man as a member of the family and the State; and under the second, the Dynamic, he treats of the evolution of human society as a whole in accordance with the law of the three stages already mentioned. To this universal law of mental life the whole movement of history is subject. He shows that the material development of society follows a course analogous to that of the intellectual development of mankind. The lowest or theological stage is coincident with the military state of society. The military spirit gradually gives way to the legal state or the rule of the jurists, which, in its turn, finally passes into the industrial stage, which must become the permanent object of European polity.

The theological and military spirit begins with the most primitive ages of history—the age of fetichism and magic, when every man's hand is against his neighbour. Gradually fetichism passes into polytheism, the most perfect type of which is to be found in the East. In the classical civilization of Greece we have an intellectual polytheism. In the third, a Roman period, the prevailing feature is militarism. The priestly class is subordinated to the secular power, and intellectual activity has free scope. Gradually monotheism takes the place of the old polytheism, and a conflict arises also between the military and industrial orders.

With the advent of the middle ages a separation is effected between the spiritual and temporal powers, which is accompanied by a conversion of slavery into feudalism and the domination of morality over polity. With the decline of the mediaeval society there begins the metaphysical stage, which reaches its culmination in the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the revolutionary theories of the eighteenth century. This period is destined to yield at length to the positive stage, the age of science, the industrial and peaceful epoch which the Positive Polity of Comte has inaugurated.

In his Positive Polity, which he rears on the basis of the principles just described, Comte elaborates a scheme of individual and social conduct. Comte believed the first requisite of systematic action to be a recognition of a central intellectual authority. He had no faith in the "equality" demanded by the Revolutionary spirits of his time. Society was for him an organism, the members of which had different parts to play and different functions to serve. There must be degrees of rank and variety and subordination of class. At the head of the regime he would accordingly place "a spiritual power," a college of philosophers or thinkers, to be supported by the State. The temporal power he would place in the hands of the captains of industry, the Capitalists and bankers, with whom a third class, the "workers," including labourers, agriculturists, tradesmen, manufacturers, and merchants—were to co-operate in the use and exercise of wealth for the good of all. In this way all workers would find their place, labour would be organized, selfish interests would be abolished, and the general welfare advanced.

In the sphere of morals the main office of the spiritual power is to strengthen the social tendencies of man as against the purely personal, to settle disputes, and to regulate and concentrate the labours of the various members of society so that their combined efforts may meet the social needs of the whole.

Though the theological stage is one which must be renounced by man in his intellectual progress, it is significant that Comte does not dispense with religion. Indeed, strange as it may seem, it is the keynote of his whole system, the bond which binds the divergent tendencies of society together. Religion, as defined by Comte, is the harmony proper to human existence, individual and collective; it gathers together and presides over all the elements of our nature, active, affectionate, and intelligent. To fulfil its true function religion must first subordinate our existence to an external and irresistible power, which is also capable of drawing forth the two primary feelings of our nature, love and faith. The conception of humanity regarded as a collective unity is one which, according to Comte, alone fulfils these conditions. This grand être, consisting of all the men and women, past, present, and future, whose lives have been or shall be devoted to the well-being of the race, is the object of man's affection, service, and worship, to whom to devote himself is his highest virtue, and with whom finally to be incorporated his supreme reward. Comte regarded the religion of humanity as a fulfilment of all the highest aims of the religions of the past and as succeeding naturally to Christianity, which he held to be but a transitional phase of religious development.

The religion of Positivism, which has "love for its principle, order as its basis, and progress for its goal," is a religion without a God and without any other immortality than a continuance in the grateful memory of posterity. The dogmas of the positive religion are scientific formulae; its public worship with its multiplicity of sacraments and festivals is offered to the "Grand being," Humanity, along with which, space and time, the earth and its powers, and the heroes of by-gone times are the objects of veneration. The ethics of the future has as its one motive for action the good of others.

For a time both in France and England Comtism created considerable interest, and churches were formed for the worship and cultivation of Positive principles. The head of English Positivism is Fred. Harrison, while Mill and Herbert Spencer and J. G. Lewes advocated its doctrines. In France Comte's school split eventually into two groups, one of which, headed by Littré, held to his earlier views, disclaiming his religious tenets; the other, presided over by Laffitte, claimed to be his faithful disciples, almost adoring his person as divine and cherishing his words as sacred.

There seems to be something like the irony of fate in the unconscious process by which Comte, the enemy of theology, should be led in the end to set up a worship as the last word of Positivism. The faiths of the past are dead and done with, but, after all, man needs some kind of religion, and the Goddess of Humanity is enthroned in the place of the old, and a priesthood and cult as elaborate as those of the Roman hierarchy are instituted. But Comte's reconstruction of religion is artificial and fictitious. It is evidently an after-thought. It is manufactured to fit such a definition of religion as modern science will permit. On Comte's principles, as his disciples saw, he was really precluded from formulating a religion altogether. All that relates to what we call God and the spiritual world belongs to the unknowable, and has, therefore, no meaning for Positivism. Religion even of the relative spurious kind which Comte advocates can only be a concession to human weakness, a permissible form of self-deception, a fiction of the imagination which is to reconcile us to our fate by giving us the semblance of a providence.

With regard to the philosophical side of Positivism, and especially the development of his science of Sociology, on which the fame of Comte chiefly rests, it may be denied that it has the originality which is claimed for it. It has been compared to the doctrine of Hegel, but the comparison is superficial. While Hegel's idea of development was one from simpler to more complex forms of thought and life, each new stage taking up into itself the results of the former, and thus becoming richer and fuller as history advanced, Comte sees in history only a movement of abstraction and generalization, by which the first concrete fulness of religious conceptions was gradually attenuated till nothing remained but the bare idea of nature. As a matter of fact, Comte shows no real development at all. His three stages are not borne out by facts. History nowhere reveals a succession of theological, metaphysical, and scientific periods. The advance has rather been from the material to the spiritual, from the simple and abstract to the complex and social conception of the world and of mankind.

To believe that Comte's theory of historical progress is unsatisfactory as an explanation of civilization, that his social ideal is but a revival of the mediaeval system of feudalism, and that his religion of humanity is incompatible with the principles on which he bases his positive philosophy, ought not to prevent us from recognising the many valuable elements in his work as a whole. The merit of Comte lies in his insistence upon the social nature and destiny of man. It must be remembered that he lived in the throes of a social revolution. Positivism has at once the defects and merits which belong to the speculations of a transition period.

Comte gives us an insight into the diseases and wants of modern society, and with the practical earnestness of a reformer he attempts to reconstruct a new fabric of society on the ruins of the old.

3. Since the time of Comte few outstanding names appear in the annals of French speculation. The philosophy of religion has received attention lately from several thinkers. As early as 1858, Emile Saisset, a disciple of Cousin, in his work, Essai de Philosophie Religieuse, sought to defend theism against the pantheism of Germany. He follows Descartes in proving the existence' of the Deity from our conceptions of a perfect being. Saisset meets pantheism with an ingenious dilemma. If the world and God are one, then either God is absorbed in the world, and we have no longer pantheism, but atheism; or, on the other hand, the world is absorbed in God, and we have not pantheism, but simply a theory of annihilation, a state of Nirvana. In the first case God is nothing, simply nature; in the second, the world, nature, life, individual freedom, family, society, State, science—all vanish like shadows into the universal void. The link which binds God to the world is, Saisset holds, the link of love and freedom, which are, both in God and man, the expression of personality. He sums up his doctrine in the maxim of Maine de Biran: "There are two poles in human science, the person, I, whence all things radiate, and the person God, where all things meet and end."

Jules Simon, in his work, Religion Naturelle, i860; Caro, Idée de Dieu, 1866; Ravaisson, Rapport sur la Philosophie du 19 Siècle, 1868; and Janet, in his Final Causes, which has been translated—have all supported the fundamental idea of a spiritual theism, and have advocated a perfect being who produces the world by an act of love and freedom. Opposed to this school it is sufficient to mention MM. Vacherot (1809-1897) and Renan, the former of whom in his work Métaphysique et la Science, and the latter in his various Essais, maintain that God is nothing but an ideal in the human mind, an ideal which is being gradually realized by the world in its onward progress. Among the latest writers, M. Secrétan teaches that God is absolute freedom; and M. Renouvier, a disciple of Kant, denies that metaphysics can attain to a knowledge of God; but he vindicates the claims of religion on practical grounds.

French writers of recent times have taken a prominent place in the discussion of the question of immortality. In the school of Comte, as we have seen, the idea of a future life is reduced to the glorification and worship of great men. But a more positive attitude was taken by Jouffroy, who based immortality on the infinity of our capacities and aspirations, arguing from the inconceivable injustice that would result if death were to quench for ever that which is potential in our being. The same idea on a larger scale is developed by the Humanitarian school, of which Pierre Leroux (i797-1871) and Jean Reynaud (1806-1863) are the representatives. Leroux, in his work, L'Humanité, teaches a doctrine of metempsychosis which implies that human beings are repeatedly born into the world again—a theory, it may be observed, of individual continuance, but not of personal immortality in another world. Reynaud, unable to admit an immortality which does not imply consciousness and memory, in order to preserve the idea of personality, suggests in his work, Terre et Ciel, that there is a migration of souls from planet to planet, which takes place according to individual merit or demerit. At the same time, he believes, in harmony with the more positive tone of French theology of this period, that there will be a final victory of good over evil.

These writers are also noted for their socialistic tendencies. Following St. Simon, they advocate a reorganization of the social order on the basis of material progress, substituting industrial and economic ideals for intellectual in the political and social life.

4. Among those who have exerted the greatest influence upon the present generation, the names of Taine, Renan and Fouillée, the leading representatives of the French Development philosophy, ought to be mentioned. Taine (1828-1893) is better known as a litterateur and art critic than as a philosopher. In his purely philosophical studies he reflects the influence of the English Psychological school as represented by Mill, Bain and Spencer. His chief work, De l'Intelligence, works out the idea of a development of the mental faculty through conflict with the other psychical elements of our being. Taine's views of life were largely determined by his melancholy temperament. The political events of 1870 shattered his hopes and caused him to withdraw from political life. His recent biography shows that he was a keen observer of men and affairs. His visit to England enlarged his sympathies. In spite of his many disappointments he preserved the disposition of a Stoic. The best part of his life belongs to the world of thought.

Ernest Renan (1823-1892) forms a contrast to Taine. Vivacious, sanguine, somewhat dilettante, and lacking in system, he has the brilliancy and wit which are so characteristic of the French nature. At an early age he forsook the Catholic faith and became an enthusiast for religious freedom and scientific progress. As a writer his fame rests upon his works of ecclesiastical history and criticism, and especially upon his epoch-making book, the Life of Jesus. In his philosophical dialogues he asks what is the goal of the world's progress? The hope of man rests not in the ascendency of the people, the mediocracy, but in the supremacy of thought, in the production of an intellectual aristocracy. In his last book, the Examination of the Philosophic Conscience (1888), he gives utterance to the two thoughts which sum up his philosophy. First, whether we are occupied with great things or small we touch the infinite. Whatever be the immediate results of our labours, the infinite, into which everything runs up, gives us a great hope. We know nothing, but because there is in us an infinite element which lifts us above the present, we may believe in immortality. And the second thought is connected with the first. In the midst of all uncertainty and mystery, there exist for us four great imperatives or ideals—love, religion, poetry, virtue—forces which the materialist and egoist deny, but which redeem and carry forward the world. They are the voice of the universe, or, if you will, the voice of God.

Alfred Fouillée (b. 1838) is more strictly a systematic philosopher than Renan, and may be said to develop the note of continuity and spiritual evolution which Taine has struck. A strong idealist, in the most notable of his books —La Psychologie des Idées-forces, 1893—he lays the foundation of his thought in psychology, which he defines as a study of the will. Hence he works out an elaborate system of voluntarism. Psychology has hitherto suffered by being narrowed down to mere intellectualism. It has not been sufficiently remarked that our psychical phenomena are the expressions of an impulse or desire (appétition) which are accompanied by pleasure or pain according as they are favoured or suppressed. Every decision or discernment, even the most elementary, presupposes a choice (préférence, choise pratique rudimentaire). This preference, which is constantly offered, gives the character to our life. Every thought or idea betokens a more or less conscious direction of effort. Fouillée's ethics stand in close relationship with his psychology. Thus he emphasizes the fact that the ego cannot be conscious of itself without being aware of other like beings. This idea of the relativity of personality implies not only the solidarity of life, but also a universal altruistic sense. This inner force of our being, which exists as a primitive natural instinct, becomes an imperative of our nature, the fulfilment of which is the ideal and end of life to be realized at last in a kingdom of freedom, equality and justice. The word 'God,' the idea of which is borrowed from our human relationships, betokens the universal reason and the highest aspiration of universal social life.

While Renouvier and Boutroux (b. 1845) contend energetically against the philosophy of continuity (the latter especially contributing a remarkable agreement with the positivism of Comte), and represent a critical philosophy which is tending towards a partial dogmatism, it may be noticed in conclusion that a school of pathological psychology has recently arisen in France, of which Ribot, Delbœuf, Paulhan, Binet, Luys, and Pierre Janet are the chief representatives.

M. Emile Boutroux died in November, 1921. As a great teacher and personality of much charm he exerted a widespread influence in philosophical circles. His most important volume, De la Contingence des Lois de la Nature, was first published in 1897. Since its republication in 1895 it has gone through a number of editions and is now recognised as giving the point of departure for the speculations of Bergson and Le Roy. Boutroux was Gifford Lecturer in Glasgow in 1904-5, his subject being La Nature et l'Esprit. Though the lectures have not been published, the contents have been embodied in a later work—Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy. For thirty years Boutroux occupied a Chair of Philosophy in the University of Paris, and crowned a busy and fruitful career by his appointment in 1902 to the Directorship of the Fondation Thiers.

German Thought. After Hegel                                                              British Philosophy in the Victorian Era

 

 

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