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Title: History of Modern Philosophy
Author: Benn, Alfred William
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: GIORDANO BRUNO.

From the Statue in the Campo dei Fiori, Rome.]




Author of "The History of English Rationalism in the
Nineteenth Century," Etc.

[Illustration: GIORDANO BRUNO.

From the Statue in the Campo dei Fiori, Rome.]


Watts & Co.,
17 Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, E.C.

Printed by Watts and Co.,
Johnson's Court, Fleet Street,
London, E.C.


  CHAPTER I.                                  PAGE

  THE METAPHYSICIANS                            31

  THE THEORISTS OF KNOWLEDGE                    65

  THE GERMAN IDEALISTS                         101


  BIBLIOGRAPHY                                 149

  INDEX                                        153


  GIORDANO BRUNO      _Frontispiece_

  FRANCIS BACON           13

  RENÉ DESCARTES          34


  DAVID HUME              78

  IMMANUEL KANT           86

  G. W. F. HEGEL         111


  AUGUSTE COMTE          128

  HERBERT SPENCER        138




For a thousand years after the schools of Athens were closed by Justinian
philosophy made no real advance; no essentially new ideas about the
constitution of nature, the workings of mind, or the ends of life were put
forward. It would be false to say that during this period no progress was
made. The civilisation of the Roman Empire was extended far beyond its
ancient frontiers; and, although much ground was lost in Asia and Africa,
more than the equivalent was gained in Northern Europe. Within Europe also
the gradual abolition of slavery and the increasing dignity of peaceful
labour gave a wider diffusion to culture, combined with a larger sense of
human fellowship than any but the best minds of Greece and Rome had felt.
Whether the status of women was really raised may be doubted; but the ideas
and sentiments of women began to exercise an influence on social
intercourse unknown before. And the arts of war and peace were in some ways
almost revolutionised.

This remarkable phenomenon of movement in everything except ideas has been
explained by the influence of Christianity, or rather of Catholicism. There
is truth in the contention, but it is not the whole truth. The Church
entered into a heritage that she did not create; she defined and
accentuated tendencies that {2} long before her advent had secretly been at
work. In the West that diffusion of civilisation which is her historic
boast had been begun and carried far by the Rome whence her very name is
taken. In the East the title of orthodox by which the Greek Church is
distinguished betrays the presence of that Greek thought which moulded her
dogmas into logical shape. What is more, the very idea of right belief as a
vital and saving thing came to Christianity from Platonism, accompanied by
the persuasion that wrong belief was immoral and its promulgation a crime
to be visited by the penalty of death.

Ecclesiastical intolerance has been made responsible for the speculative
stagnation of the Middle Ages, and it has been explained as an effect of
the belief in the future punishment of heresy by eternal torments. But in
truth the persecuting spirit was responsible for the dogma, not the dogma
for persecution. And we must look for the underlying cause of the whole
evil in the premature union of metaphysics with religion and morality first
effected by Plato, or rather by the genius of Athens working through Plato.
Indeed, on a closer examination we shall find that the slowing-down of
speculation had begun long before the advent of Christianity, and coincides
with the establishment of its headquarters at Athens, where also the first
permanent schools of philosophy were established. These schools were
distinctly religious in their character; and none was so set against
innovation as that of Epicurus, falsely supposed to have been a home of
freethought. In the last Greek system of philosophy, Neo-Platonism,
theology reigned supreme; and during the two and a-half centuries of its
existence no real advance on the teaching of Plotinus was made. {3}

Neo-Platonism when first constituted had incorporated a large Aristotelian
element, the expulsion of which had been accomplished by its last great
master, Proclus; and Christendom took over metaphysics under what seemed a
Platonic form--the more welcome as Plato passed for giving its creeds the
independent support of pure reason. This support extended beyond a future
life and went down to the deepest mysteries of revealed faith. For,
according to the Platonic doctrine of ideas, it was quite in order that
there should be a divine unity existing independently of the three divine
persons composing it; that the idea of humanity should be combined with one
of these persons; and that the same idea, being both one with and distinct
from Adam, should involve all mankind in the guilt of his transgression.
Thus the Church started with a strong prejudice in favour of Plato which
continued to operate for many centuries, although the first great
schoolman, John Scotus Eriugena (810-877), incurred a condemnation for
heresy by adopting the pantheistic metaphysics of Neo-Platonism.

As the Platonic doctrine of ideas came to life again in the realism, as it
was called, of scholastic philosophy, so the conflicting view of his old
opponent Aristotle was revived under the form of conceptualism. According
to this theory the genera and species of the objective world correspond to
real and permanent distinctions in the nature of things; but, apart from
the conceptions by which they are represented in the intellect of God and
man, those distinctions have no separate existence. Aristotle's philosophy
was first brought into Europe by the Mohammedan conquerors of Spain, which
became an important centre of learning in the earlier Middle Ages. Not a
few Christian scholars went there to {4} study. Latin translations were
made from Arabic versions of Aristotle, and in this way his doctrines
became more widely known to the lecture-rooms of the Catholic world. But
their derivation from infidel sources roused a prejudice against them,
still further heightened by the circumstance that an Arabian commentator,
Averroes, had interpreted the theology of the _Metaphysics_ in a
pantheistic sense. And on any sincere reading Aristotle denied the soul's
immortality which Plato had upheld. Accordingly, all through the twelfth
century Platonism still dominated religious thought, and even so late as
the early thirteenth century the study of Aristotle was still condemned by
the Church.

Nevertheless a great revolution was already in progress. As a result of the
capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in A.D. 1204 the Greek
manuscripts of Aristotle's writings were brought to Paris, and at a
subsequent period they were translated into Latin under the direction of
St. Thomas Aquinas, the ablest of the schoolmen, who so manipulated the
Peripatetic philosophy as to convert it from a battering-ram into a
buttress of Catholic theology--a position still officially assigned to it
at the present day. Aristotelianism, however, did not reign without a rival
even in the later Middle Ages. Aquinas was a Dominican; and the jealousy of
the competing Franciscan Order found expression in maintaining a certain
tradition of Platonism, represented in different ways by Roger Bacon
(1214-1294) and by Duns Scotus (1265-1308). In this connection we have to
note the extraordinary fertility of the British islands in eminent thinkers
during the Middle Ages. Besides the two last mentioned there is Eriugena
("born in Ireland"), John of Salisbury {5} (1115-1180), the first Humanist,
William of Ockham, and Wycliffe, the first reformer--making six in all, a
larger contribution than any other region of Europe, or indeed all the rest
of Europe put together, has made to the stars of Scholasticism. This
advantage is probably not due to any inherent genius for philosophy in the
inhabitants of these islands, but to their relative immunity from war and
to the political liberty that cannot but have been favourable to
independent thought. Five out of the six were more or less inclined to
Platonism, and their idealist or mystical tendencies were sometimes
associated with the same practicality that distinguished their master. The
sixth, commonly called Occam (died about 1349), is famous as the champion
of Nominalism--that is, of the doctrine that genera and species have no
real existence either in nature or in mind; there are only individuals more
or less resembling one another. He is the author of the famous saying--the
sole legacy of Scholasticism to common thought: "Entities ought not to be
gratuitously multiplied" (entia non sunt præter necessitatem

The capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders had led to Aristotle's
triumph in the thirteenth century. Two hundred years later the conquering
Ottoman advance on the same city was the immediate cause of his overthrow.
For the Byzantine scholars who fled for help and refuge to Italy brought
with them the manuscripts of Plato and Plotinus, and these soon became
known to Western Europe through the Latin translations of Marsilio Ficino.
On its literary side the Platonic revival fell in admirably with the
Humanism to which the Schoolmen had long been intensely distasteful. And
the religious movement that preceded {6} Luther's Reformation found a
welcome ally in Neo-Platonic mysticism. At the same time the invention of
printing, by opening the world of books to non-academic readers, vastly
widened the possibilities of independent thought. And the Reformation, by
discrediting the scholastic theology in Northern Europe, dealt another blow
at the system with which it had been associated by Aquinas.

It has been supposed that the discovery of America and the circumnavigation
of the globe contributed also to the impending philosophical revolution.
But the true theory of the earth's figure formed the very foundation of
Aristotle's cosmology, and was as well known to Dante as to ourselves. Made
by a fervent Catholic, acting under the patronage of the Catholic queen
_par excellence_, the discovery of Columbus increased the prestige of
Catholicism by opening a new world to its missions and adding to the wealth
of its supporters in the Old World.

The decisive blow to medieval ideas came from another quarter--from the
Copernican astronomy. What the true theory of the earth's motion meant for
philosophy has not always been rightly understood. It seems to be commonly
supposed that the heliocentric system excited hostility because it degraded
the earth from her proud position as centre of the universe. But the
reverse is true. According to Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the
centre of the universe is the lowest and least honourable, the
circumference the highest and most distinguished position in it. And that
is why earth, as the vilest of the four elements, tends to the centre;
while fire, being the most precious, flies upward. Again, the incorruptible
æther of which the heavens are composed shows its eternal character {7} by
moving for ever round in a circle of which God, as Prime Mover, occupies
the outermost verge. And this metaphysical topography is faithfully
followed by Dante, who even improves on it by placing the worst criminals
(that is, the rebels and traitors--Satan, with Judas and Brutus and
Cassius) in the eternal ice at the very centre of the earth. Such fancies
were incompatible with the new astronomy. No longer cold and dead, our
earth might henceforth take her place among the stars, animated like
them--if animated they were--and suggesting by analogy that they too
supported teeming multitudes of reasonable inhabitants.

But the transposition of values did not end here. Aristotle's whole
philosophy had been based on a radical antithesis between the sublunary and
the superlunary spheres--the world of growth, decay, vicissitude, and the
world of everlasting realities. In the sublunary sphere, also, it
distinguished sharply between the Forms of things, which were eternal, and
the Matter on which they were imposed, an intangible, evanescent thing
related to Form as Possibility to Actuality. We know that these two
convenient categories are logically independent of the false cosmology that
may or may not have suggested their world-wide application. But the
immediate effect of having it denied, or even doubted, was greatly to exalt
the credit of Matter or Power at the expense of Form or Act.

The first to draw these revolutionary inferences from the Copernican theory
was Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). Born at Nola, a south Italian city not far
from Naples, Bruno entered the Dominican Order before the age of fifteen,
and on that occasion exchanged his baptismal name of Filippo for that by
which he has ever since been known. Here he became acquainted with the {8}
whole of ancient and medieval philosophy, besides the Copernican astronomy,
then not yet condemned by the Church. At the early age of eighteen he first
came into collision with the authorities; and at twenty-eight (1576)
[McIntyre, pp. 9-10] he openly questioned the chief characteristic dogmas
of Catholicism, was menaced with an action for heresy, and fled from the
convent. The pursuit must have been rather perfunctory, for Bruno found
himself free to spend two years wandering from one Italian city to another,
earning a precarious livelihood by tuition and authorship. Leaving Italy at
last, rather from a desire to push his fortunes abroad than from any fear
of molestation, and finding France too hot to hold him, he tried Geneva for
a little while, but, on being given to understand that he could only stay
on the condition of embracing Calvinism, returned to France, where he lived
first for two years as Professor of Philosophy at Toulouse, and three more
in a somewhat less official position at Paris. Thence, in the train of the
French ambassador, he passed to England, where his two years' sojourn seems
to have been the happiest and most fruitful period of his restless career.
It was cut short by his chief's return to Paris. But the philosopher's
fearless advocacy of Copernicanism made that bigoted capital impossible.
The truth, however, seems to be that Bruno never could hit it off with
anyone or any society; and the next five years, spent in trying to make
himself acceptable at one German university after another, are a record of
hopeless failure. Finally, in an evil hour, he goes to Venice at the
invitation of a young noble, Mocenigo, who, in revenge for disappointed
expectations, betrays him to the Inquisition. Questioned about his
heresies, Bruno showed perfect willingness to accept all the theological
dogmas that {9} he had formerly denied. Whether he withdrew his
retractation on being transferred from a Venetian to a Roman prison does
not appear, as the Roman depositions are not forthcoming. Neither is it
clear why so long a delay as six years (1594-1600) was granted to the
philosopher when such short work was made of other heretics. It seems most
probable that Bruno, while pliant enough on questions of religious belief,
remained inflexible in maintaining the infinity of inhabited worlds. When
the final condemnation was read out, he told the judges that he heard it
with less fear than they felt in pronouncing it. In the customary
euphemistic terms they had sent him to death by fire. At the stake, when
the crucifix was held up to him, he turned away his eyes--with what
thoughts we cannot tell. There is a monument to the heroic thinker at Nola,
and another in the Campo dei Fiori on the spot where he suffered at Rome,
raised against the strongest protests of the ecclesiastical authorities.

The Greek-Italian philosophers--the Pythagoreans and Parmenides--had
introduced the idea of finiteness or Limitation as a necessary condition of
reality and perfection into thought. From them it passed over to Plato and
Aristotle, who made it dominant in the schools. Epicurus and Lucretius had,
indeed, carried on the older Ionian tradition of infinite atoms and
infinite worlds dispersed through infinite space; but their philosophy was
practically atheistic, and the Church condemned it as both heretical and
false. Probably the discovery of the earth's globular shape had first
suggested the idea of a finite universe to Parmenides; at any rate, the
discovery of the earth's motion suggested the idea of an infinite universe
to his Greek-souled Italian successor; or rather it was {10} the break-up
of Aristotle's spherical world by Copernicanism that threw Bruno back--as
he gives us himself to understand--on the older Ionian cosmologies, with
their assumption of infinite space and infinite worlds. In this reference
Bruno went far beyond Copernicus, and even Kepler; for both had assumed, in
deference to current opinion, that the fixed stars were equidistant from
the solar system, and formed a single sphere enclosing it on all sides. He,
on the contrary, anticipated modern astronomy in conceiving the stars as so
many suns dispersed without assignable limits through space, and each
surrounded by inhabited planets.

Infinite space had been closely associated by Democritus and Epicurus with
infinite atoms; and the next great step taken by Bruno was to rehabilitate
atomism as a necessary concept of modern science. He figured the atoms as
very minute spheres of solid earthy matter, forming by their combinations
the framework of visible bodies. But their combinations are by no means
fortuitous, as Democritus had impiously supposed; nor do they move through
an absolute void. All space is filled with an ocean of liquid æther, which
is no other than the quintessence of which Aristotle's celestial spheres
were composed. Only in Bruno's system it takes the place of that First
Matter which is the extreme antithesis of the disembodied Form personified
in the Prime Mover, God. And here we come to that reversal of cosmic values
brought about by the reversal of the relations between the earth and sun
which Copernicus had effected. The primordial Matter, so far from passively
receiving the Forms imposed on it from without, has an infinite capacity
for evolving Forms from its own bosom; and, so far {11} from being
unspiritual, is itself the universal spirit, the creative and animating
soul of the world. The First Matter, Form, Energy, Life, and Reason are
identified with Nature, Nature with the Universe, and the Universe with

So far all is clear, if not convincing. It is otherwise with the theory of
Monads. This is only expounded in Bruno's Latin works, for the most part
ill-written and hopelessly obscure. It seems possible that by the monads
Bruno sometimes means the infinitesimal parts into which the æther of space
may conceivably be divided. Each of these possesses consciousness, and
therefore may be considered as reflecting and representing the whole
universe. A number of monads, or rather a continuous portion of the æther
surrounding and interpenetrating a group of atoms, endows them with the
forms and qualities of elementary bodies, ascending gradually through
vegetal and animal organisations to human beings. But the animating process
does not stop with man. The earth, with the other planets, the sun, and all
the stars, are also monads on the largest scale, with reasonable souls,
just as Aristotle thought. In fact, the old mythology whence he derived the
idea repeats itself in his great enemy Bruno.

Beyond and above all these partial unities is the Monas Monadum--the
supreme unity, the infinite God who is the soul of the infinite universe.
Doubtless there is here a reminiscence of the Neo-Platonic One, the
ineffable Absolute, beyond all existence, yet endowed with the infinite
power whence all existence proceeds. Bruno had learned from Cardinal
Nicolas of Cusa--a Copernican before Copernicus--to recognise the principle
of Heracleitus that opposites are one; and in this instance he applies it
with brilliant audacity; for every infinitesimal {12} part of the
space-filling æther is no less the soul of the universe than the Monad of
Monads itself. And both agree in being non-existent in the sense of being
transfinite, since there can be no sum of infinity and no animated
mathematical points.

From Anaximander to Plotinus there is hardly a great Greek thinker whose
influence cannot be traced in the system of Giordano Bruno. And while he
represents the philosophical Renaissance in this eminent degree, he heads
the two lines of speculation which, separately or combined, run through the
whole history of modern metaphysics--the monistic, and what is now called
the pluralistic tendency. With none, except, perhaps, with Hegel, have the
two been perfectly balanced; and in Bruno himself the leaning is distinctly
towards plurality, his Supreme Monad being a mere survival from the
Neo-Platonic One.


Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was by profession a lawyer, by taste a scientific
inquirer, by character a seeker after wealth and power, by natural genius
an immortal master of words. He began life as the friend, adviser, and
client of Elizabeth's favourite, the Earl of Essex. When that unfortunate
courtier, in disregard of his warnings, rushed into a treasonable
enterprise, Bacon appeared as one of the most zealous of the counsel for
the prosecution. Strictly speaking, this may have been his duty as a loyal
subject of the Queen; it was hardly his duty, even on the Queen's
commission, after Essex's execution, to assist in the composition of a
pamphlet blackening the memory of his former friend and patron. In the next
reign Bacon paid assiduous court to James and his favourites. {13}

[Illustration: FRANCIS BACON.

(_Copyright B. P. C._)]

{14} When the first of these, Somerset, fell and was tried on a charge of
murder, he conducted the prosecution, and, finding the evidence
insufficient, suggested to James that the prisoner should be entrapped into
a confession by dangling a false promise of forgiveness before his eyes.
Bacon owed his final exaltation to Buckingham, and as Lord Keeper allowed
himself to be made the tool of that bad man for the perversion of justice.
A suit was brought before him by a young man against a fraudulent trustee
(his own uncle) for the restitution of a sum of money. Bacon gave sentence
for the plaintiff. Buckingham then intervened with a demand that the case
should be retried. "Upon this Bacon saw the parties privately, and,
annulling all the deliberate decisions of the Court, compelled the youth to
assent to the ceasing of all proceedings, and to accept" a smaller sum than
he was entitled to (E. A. Abbott). On another occasion he exercised his
judicial authority in a way that did not square with Buckingham's wishes,
but quite legitimately and without any consciousness of giving offence;
whereupon the insolent favourite addressed him in a letter filled with
outrageous abuse, to which Bacon replied in terms of abject submission.
This meanness had its reward, for in 1618 the philosopher became Lord

After a three years' tenure Bacon was flung from his high position by a
charge of judicial corruption, to the truth of every count in which he
confessed. The question is very complicated, obscure, and much
controverted, not admitting of discussion within the limits here assigned.
On the subject of Bacon's truthfulness, however, a word must be said. The
Chancellor admitted having taken presents from suitors, but {15} denied
having ever let his judgments be influenced thereby; and his word seems to
be generally accepted as a sufficient exoneration. But its value may be
doubted in view of two statements quoted by Dean Church. Of these "one was
made in the House of Commons by Sir George Hastings, a member of the House,
who had been the channel of Awbry's gift [made to the Chancellor _pendente
lite_], that when he had told Bacon that if questioned he must admit it,
Bacon's answer was: 'George, if you do so, I must deny it, upon my
honour--upon my oath.' The other was that he had given an opinion in favour
of some claim of the Masters in Chancery, for which he received £1,200, and
with which he said that all the judges agreed--an assertion which all the
judges denied. Of these charges there is no contradiction." The denial of
Bacon that he ever allowed his judgments to be influenced by bribes, and
his assertion that he was the justest judge since his own father, cannot,
then, count for much. As to the plea that the justice of his sentences was
never challenged, who was to challenge it? The successful suitor would hold
his tongue; and the unsuccessful suitor could hardly be expected to
complete his own ruin by going to law again on the strength of the
Chancellor's condemnation.

Bacon, at any rate, knew quite well that to take presents before judgment
was wrong and criminal, as his answer to Egerton sufficiently shows--an
answer which also fully disposes of the plea that to take such presents was
the common custom of the age. Moreover, had such been the common custom,
Bacon might have taken his trial and pleaded it as a sufficient apology or
extenuation for his own conduct. This would have been a somewhat more
dignified course {16} than the one he actually pursued, which was to plead
guilty to all the charges, throwing himself on the mercy of the Lords. It
has been suggested that he did this at the desire of his powerful patrons,
whose malpractices might have been brought to light by a public
investigation. As his punishment was immediately remitted, some arrangement
with the King and Buckingham seems probable. But for an innocent man to
have saved himself by a false acknowledgment of guilt would, as Macaulay
shows, have been still more infamous than to take bribes.

The desperate efforts of some apologists to whitewash Bacon are apparently
due to a very exaggerated estimate of his services to mankind. Other
critics give themselves the pleasure of painting what has been called a
Rembrandt portrait, with noon on the forehead and night at the heart. And a
third class argue from a rotten morality to a rotten intelligence. In fact,
Bacon as little deserves to be called the wisest and greatest as the
meanest of mankind. He really loved humanity, and tried hard to serve it,
devoting a truly philosophical intellect to that end. The service was to
consist in an immense extension of man's power over nature, to be obtained
by a complete knowledge of her secrets; and this knowledge he hoped to win
by reforming the methods of scientific investigation. Unfortunately,
intellect alone proved unequal to that mighty task. Bacon passes, and not
without good grounds, for a great upholder of the principle that truth can
only be learned by experience. But his philosophy starts by setting that
principle at defiance. He who took all knowledge for his province omitted
from his survey the rather important subject of knowledge itself, its
limits and its laws. Had his attention {17} been drawn that way, the very
first requisite, on empirical principles, would have been to take stock of
the leading truths already ascertained. But the enormous vanity of the
amateur reformer seems to have persuaded him that these amounted to little
or nothing. The later Renaissance was an age of intense scientific
activity, conditioned, in the first instance, by a revival of Greek
learning. Already before the middle of the sixteenth century great advance
had been made in algebra, trigonometry, astronomy, mineralogy, botany,
anatomy, and physiology. Before the publication of the _Novum Organum_
Napier had invented logarithms, Galileo was reconstituting physics, Gilbert
had created the science of magnetism, and Harvey had discovered the
circulation of the blood. These were facts that Bacon took no pains to
study; he either ignores or slights or denies the work done by his
illustrious predecessors and contemporaries. That he rejected the
Copernican theory with scorn is an exaggeration; but he never accepted it,
notwithstanding arguments that the best astronomers of his time found
convincing; and the longer he lived the more unfavourable became his
opinion of its merits. And it is certain that Tycho Brahe's wonderful mass
of observations, with the splendid generalisations based on them by Kepler,
are never mentioned in his writings. Now what really ruined Aristotelianism
was the heliocentric astronomy, as Bruno perfectly saw; and ignorance of
this left Bacon after all in the bonds of medieval philosophy.

We have seen in studying Bruno that the very soul of Aristotle's system was
his distinction between form and matter, and this distinction Bacon
accepted without examination from scholasticism. The purpose of his {18}
life was to ascertain by what combination of forms each particular body was
constituted, and then, by artificially superinducing them on some portion
of matter, to call the desired substance into existence. His celebrated
inductive method was devised as a means to that end. To discover the forms
"we are instructed first to draw up exhaustive tables of the phenomena and
forms under investigation, and then to exclude from our list any 'form'
which does not invariably co-exist with the phenomenon of which _the_ form
is sought. For example, if we are trying to discover the form of heat it
will not do to adduce 'celestial nature'; for, though the sun's light is
hot, that of the moon is cold. After a series of such _exclusions_, Bacon
believed that a single form would finally remain to be the invariable cause
of the phenomenon investigated, and of nothing else" (F. C. S. Schiller).

As Dr. Schiller observes, this _method of exclusions_ is not new; nor,
indeed, does Bacon claim to have originated it; at least he observes in his
_Novum Organum_ that it had been already employed by Plato to a certain
extent for the purpose of discussing definitions and ideas. And elsewhere
he praises Plato as "a man (and one that surveyed all things from a lofty
cliff) for having discerned in his doctrine of Ideas that Forms were the
true object of knowledge; howsoever he lost the fruit of this most true
opinion by considering and trying to apprehend Forms as absolutely
abstracted from matter, whence it came that he turned aside to theological
speculations." Bacon must have known that this reproach does not apply to
Aristotle; as, indeed, the very schoolmen knew that he did not--except in
the single case of God--give Forms a separate {19} existence. But, probably
from jealousy, he specially hated Aristotle, and in this particular
instance the Stagirite more particularly excited his hostility by
identifying Forms with Final Causes. These Bacon rather contemptuously
handed over to the sole cognisance of theology as consecrated virgins
bearing no fruit. As a point of scientific method this condemnation of
teleology is quite unjustified even in the eyes of inquirers who reject the
theological argument from design. To a Darwinian, purpose means survival
value, and the parts of an organism are so many utilities evolved in the
action and reaction between living beings and their environment. But Bacon
disliked any theory tending to glorify the existing arrangements of nature
as perfect and unalterable achievements, for the good reason that it
threatened to discountenance his own scheme for practically creating the
world over again with exclusive reference to the good of humanity. Thus in
his Utopia, the _New Atlantis_, there are artificial mines, producing
artificial metals, plants raised without seeds, contrivances for turning
one tree or plant into another, for prolonging the lives of animals after
the removal of particular organs, for making "a number of kinds of
serpents, worms, flies, fishes of putrefaction; whereof some are advanced
to be perfect creatures like beasts or birds"; with flying-machines,
submarines, and perpetual motions--in short, a general anticipation of
Jules Verne and Mr. H. G. Wells.

Such dreams, however, do not entitle Bacon to be regarded as a true prophet
of modern science and modern mechanical inventions. In themselves his ideas
do not go beyond the magic of the Middle Ages, or rather of all ages. The
original thing was his {20} Method; and this Method, considered as a means
for surprising the secrets of nature, we know to be completely chimerical,
because there are no such Forms as he imagined, to be enucleated by
induction, with or without the Method of Exclusion. The truth is that the
inductive method which he borrowed from Socrates and Plato was originally
created by Athenian philosophy for the humanistic studies of law, morality,
æsthetics, and psychology. Physical science, on the other hand, should be
approached, as the Greeks rightly felt, through the door of mathematics, an
instrument of whose potency the great Chancellor notoriously had no
conception. Thus his prodigious powers would have been much more usefully
devoted to moral philosophy. As it is, the _Essays_ alone remain to show
what great things he might have done by limiting himself to the subjects
with which they deal. The famous logical and physical treatises, the _Novum
Organum_ and the _De Augmentis_, notwithstanding their wealth and splendour
of language, are to us at the present day less living than the fragments of
early Greek thought, than most of Plato, than much of Aristotle, than
Atomism as expounded by Lucretius.

Macaulay rests his claim of the highest place among philosophers for Bacon
not on his inductive theory, to which the historian rightly denies any
novelty, but on the new purpose and direction that the search for knowledge
is assumed to have received from his teaching. On this view the whole of
modern science has been created by the desire to convert nature into an
instrument for the satisfaction of human wants--an ambition dating from the
publication of the _Novum Organum_. The claim will not stand, for two
reasons. The first is that the great movement of modern science {21} began
at least half a century before Bacon's birth, growing rapidly during his
life, but without his knowledge, and continuing its course without being
perceptibly accelerated by his intervention ever since. The one man of
science who most commonly passes for his disciple is Robert Boyle
(1627-1691). But Boyle did not read the _Novum Organum_ before he was
thirty, whereas, residing at Florence before fifteen, he received a
powerful stimulus from the study of Galileo. And his chemistry was based on
the atomic theory which Bacon rejected.

The second reason for not accepting Macaulay's claim is that in modern
Europe no less than in ancient Greece the great advances in science have
only been made by those who loved knowledge for its own sake, or, if the
expression be preferred, simply for the gratification of their intellectual
curiosity. No doubt their discoveries have added enormously to the
utilities of life; but such advantages have been gained on the sole
condition of not making them the primary end in view. The labours of
Bacon's own contemporaries, Kepler and Gilbert, have led to the navigation
of the sea by lunar distances, and to the various industrial applications
of electro-magnetism; but they were undertaken without a dream of these
remote results. And in our own day the greatest of scientific triumphs,
which is the theory of evolution, was neither worked out with any hope of
material benefits to mankind nor has it offered any prospect of them as
yet. The same may be said of modern sidereal astronomy. From the humanist
point of view it would not be easy to justify the enormous expenditure of
energy, money, and time that this science has absorbed. The schoolmen have
been much ridiculed for discussing the question how {22} many angels could
dance on the point of a needle; but as a purely speculative problem it
surely merits as much attention as the total number of the stars, the rates
of their velocities, or the law of their distribution through space. A
schoolman might even have urged in justification of his curiosity that some
of us might feel a reasonable curiosity about the exact size--if size they
have--of beings with whom we hope to associate one day; whereas by the
confession of the astronomers themselves neither we nor our descendants can
ever hope to verify by direct measurement the precarious guesses of their
science in this branch of celestial statics and dynamics.


It has been shown that one momentous effect of the Copernican astronomy, as
interpreted by Giordano Bruno, was to reverse the relative importance
ascribed in Aristotle's philosophy to the two great categories of Power and
Act, giving to Power a value and dignity of which it had been stripped by
the judgment of Plato and Aristotle. Even Epicurus, when he rehabilitated
infinite space, had been careful as a moralist to urge the expediency of
placing a close limitation on human desires, denouncing the excesses of
avarice and ambition more mildly but not less decisively than the
contemporary Stoic school. Thus Lucretius describes his master as
travelling beyond the flaming walls of the world only that he may bring us
back a knowledge of the fixed barrier set by the very laws of existence to
our aspirations and hopes.

The classic revival of the Renaissance did not bring back the Greek spirit
of moderation. On the contrary, the new world, the new astronomy, the new
monarchy, {23} and the new religion combined to create such a sense of
Power, in contradistinction to Act, as the world had never before known.
For us this new feeling has received its most triumphant artistic
expression from Shakespeare and Milton, for France from Rabelais, for Italy
from Ariosto and Michelangelo. In philosophy Bacon strikes the same note
when he values knowledge as a source of power--knowledge which for Greek
philosophy meant rather a lesson in self-restraint. And this idea receives
a further development from Bacon's chief successor in English philosophy,
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), in whose system love of power figures as the
very essence of human nature, the self-conscious manifestation of that
Motion which is the real substance of the physical world.

Hobbes was a precocious child, and received a good school training; but the
five years he spent at Oxford added nothing to his information, and a
continental tour with the young heir of the Cavendishes had no other effect
than to convince him of the general contempt into which the scholasticism
still taught at Oxford had fallen. On returning to England, he began his
studies over again in the Cavendish library, acquiring a thorough
familiarity with the classic literature of Greece and Rome, a deep hatred
(imbibed through Thucydides) of democracy, and a genuinely antique theory
that the State should be supreme in religious no less than in civil
matters. Amid these studies Hobbes occasionally enjoyed the society of
Bacon, then spending his last years in the retirement of Gorhambury. As
secretary and Latin translator he proved serviceable to the ex-Chancellor,
but remained quite unaffected by his inductive and experimental philosophy.
Indeed, the determining impulse of his {24} speculative activity came from
the opposite quarter. Going abroad once more as travelling tutor, at the
age of forty, he chanced on a copy of Euclid in a gentleman's library lying
open at the famous Forty-Seventh Proposition. His first impulse was to
reject the theorem as impossible; but, on going backwards from proposition
to proposition, he laid down the book not only convinced, but "in love with

Beginning so late in life, his ulterior studies led Hobbes into the belief
that he had squared the circle, besides the far more pernicious error of
applying the deductive method of geometry to the solution of political
problems. Could he and Bacon have exchanged philosophies, the brilliant
faculties of each might have been employed to better purpose. The
categories of Form and Matter, combined with the logic of elimination and
tentative generalisation, would have found a fitting field for their
application in the familiar facts of human nature. But those facts refused
to be treated as so many wheels, pulleys, and cords in a machine for
crushing the life out of society and transmitting the will of a single
despot unresisted through its whole extent; for such is a faithful picture
of what a well-governed community, as Hobbes conceived it, ought to be.
During his second residence abroad he had become acquainted with the
physical philosophy of Galileo--the theory that regards every change in the
external or phenomenal world as a mere rearrangement of matter and motion,
matter being an aggregate of independent molecules held together by
mechanical pressure and impact. The component parts of this aggregate
become known to us by the impressions their movements produce on our
senses, traces of which {25} are preserved in memory, and subsequently
recalled by association. Language consists of signs conventionally affixed
to such images; only the signs, standing as they do for all objects of a
certain sort, have a universal value, not possessed by the original
sensations, through which reasoning becomes possible. Hobbes had evidently
fallen in love with algebra as well as with geometry; and it is on the type
of algebraic reasoning--in other words, on the type of rigorous
deduction--that his logic is constructed. And such a view of the way in
which knowledge advances seemed amply justified by the scientific triumphs
of his age. But his principle that all motion originates in antecedent
motion, although plausible in itself and occasionally revived by ingenious
speculators, has not been verified by modern science. Gravitation,
cohesion, and chemical affinity have, so far, to be accepted as facts not
resoluble into more general facts. Hobbes died before the great discoveries
of Newton which first turned away men's minds from the purely mechanical
interpretation of energy.

That mechanical interpretation led our philosopher to reject Aristotle's
notion of sociality as an essentially human characteristic. To him this
seemed a mere occult quality, the substitution of a word for an
explanation. The counter-view put forth in his great work, _Leviathan_, is
commonly called atomistic. But it would be gross flattery to compare the
ultimate elements of society, as Hobbes conceived them, to the molecules of
modern science, which attract as well as repel each other; or even with the
Democritean atoms, which are at least neutral. According to him, the
tendency to self-preservation, shared by men with all other beings, takes
the form of an insatiable appetite {26} for power, leading each individual
to pursue his own aggrandisement at the cost of any loss or suffering to
the rest. And he tries to prove the permanence of this impulse by referring
to the precautions against robbery taken by householders and travellers.
Aristotle had much more justly mentioned the kindnesses shown to travellers
as a proof of how widely goodwill is diffused. Our countryman, with all his
acuteness, strangely ignores the necessity as a matter of prudence of going
armed and locking the door at night, even if the robbers only amounted to
one in a thousand of the population. Modern researches have shown that
there are very primitive societies where the assumed war of all against
each is unknown, predatory conflicts being a mark of more advanced
civilisation, and the cause rather than the effect of anti-social impulses.

Granting an original state of anarchy and internecine hostility, there is,
according to Hobbes, only one way out of it, which is a joint resolution of
the whole community to surrender their rights of individual sovereignty
into the hands of one man, who thenceforth becomes absolute ruler of the
State, with authority to defend its citizens against mutual aggressions,
and the whole community against attacks from a foreign Power. This
agreement constitutes the famous Social Contract, of which so much was to
be heard during the next century and a-half. It holds as between the
citizens themselves, but not between the subjects and their sovereign, for
that would be admitting a responsibility which there is no power to
enforce. And anyone refusing to obey the sovereign justly forfeits his
life; for he thereby returns to the State of Nature, where any man that
likes may kill his neighbour if he can.

All this theory of an original institution of the State {27} by contract
impresses a modern reader as utterly unhistorical. But its value, if any,
does not depend on its historical truth. Even if the remote ancestors of
the seventeenth-century Europeans had surrendered all their individual
rights, with certain trifling exceptions, into the hands of an autocrat, no
sophistry could show that their mutual engagements were binding on the
subjects of Charles I. and Louis XIV. And it is really on expediency,
understood in the largest sense, that the claims of the New Monarchy are
based by Hobbes. What he maintains is that nothing short of a despotic
government exercised by one man can save society from relapsing into chaos.
But even under this amended form the theory remains amenable to historical
criticism. Had Hobbes pursued his studies beyond Thucydides, he would have
found that other polities besides the Athenian democracy broke down at the
hour of trial. Above all, Roman Imperialism, which seems to have been his
ideal, failed to secure its subjects either against internal disorder or
against foreign invasion.

Democracy, however, was not the sole or the worst enemy dreaded by the
author of _Leviathan_ as a competitor with his "mortal god." In the
frontispiece of that work the deified monarch who holds the sword erect
with his right hand grasps the crozier with his left, thus typifying the
union of the spiritual and temporal powers in the same person. The
publicists of the Italian Renaissance, with their classical ideals, had,
indeed, been as anti-papal as the Protestants; and the political disorders
fomented by the agents of the Catholic reaction during the last hundred
years had given Hobbes an additional reason for perpetuating their point of
view. Meanwhile another menace to {28} public order had presented itself
from an opposite quarter. Calvinism had created a new spiritual power based
on the free individual interpretation of Scripture, in close alliance with
the alleged rights of conscience and with the spirit of republican liberty.
Each creed in turn had attacked the Stuart monarchy, and the second had
just effected its overthrow. Therefore, to save the State it was necessary
that religious creeds, no less than codes of conduct, should be dictated by
the secular authority, enslaving men's minds as well as their bodies.

By the dialectic irony of the speculative movement, this attempt to fetter
opinion was turned into an instrument for its more complete emancipation.
In order to discredit the pretensions of the religious zealots, Hobbes made
a series of attacks on the foundations of their faith, mostly by way of
suggestion and innuendo--no more being possible under the conditions then
obtaining---but with such effect that, according to Macaulay, "for many
years the _Leviathan_ was the gospel of cold-blooded and hard-headed
unbelievers." That one who made religious belief a matter to be fixed by
legislation could be in any sense a Christian seems most unlikely. He
professed, with what sincerity we know not, to regard the existence of God
as something only a fool could deny. But his philosophy from beginning to
end forms a rigorously-thought-out system of materialism which any atheist,
if otherwise it satisfied him, might without inconsistency accept.

On the meeting of the Long Parliament, Hobbes again left England for the
Continent, where he remained for eleven years. But his principles were no
more to the taste of the exiled royalists than of {29} their opponents. He
therefore returned once more to England, made his submission to the
Parliament, and spent the rest of his days, practically unmolested by
either party, under the Commonwealth and the Restoration until his death in
1679 at the age of ninety-one.

It may be said of Hobbes, as of Bacon, that the intellect at work is so
amazing and the mass of literary performance so imposing that the illusions
of historians about the value of their contributions to the progress of
thought are excusable. Nevertheless, it cannot be too distinctly stated
that the current or academic estimate of these great men as having effected
a revolution in physical and moral science is wrong. They stand as much
apart from the true line of evolution as do the gigantic saurians of a
remote geological period whose remains excite our wonder in museums of
natural history. Their systems proved as futile as the monarchies of Philip
II. and of Louis XIV. Bacon's dreams are no more related to the coming
victories of science than Raleigh's El Dorado was to the future colonial
empire of Britain. Hobbes had better fortune than Strafford, in so far as
he kept his head on his shoulders; but the logic of his absolutism
shrivelled up under the sun of English liberty like the great Minister's
policy of Thorough.

The theory of a Social Contract is a speculative idea of the highest
practical importance. But the idea of contract as the foundation of morals
goes back to Epicurus, and it is assumed in a more developed form by
Hooker's _Ecclesiastical Polity_. Its potency as a revolutionary instrument
comes from the reinterpretations of Locke and Rousseau, which run directly
counter to the assumptions of the _Leviathan_. {30}

Hobbes shares with Bacon the belief that all knowledge comes from
experience, besides making it clearer than his predecessor that experience
of the world comes through external sense alone. Here also there can be no
claim to originality, for more than one school of Greek philosophy had said
the same. As an element of subsequent thought, more importance belongs to
the idea of Power, which was to receive its full development from Spinoza;
but only in association with other ideas derived from the philosopher whom
we have next to examine, the founder of modern metaphysics, Descartes.

       *       *       *       *       *





René Descartes (1596-1650) was a Frenchman, born in Touraine, and belonging
by family to the inferior nobility. Educated at the Jesuit college of La
Flèche, he early acquired a distaste for the scholastic philosophy, or at
least for its details; the theology of scholasticism, as we shall see, left
a deep impression on him through life. On leaving college he took up
mathematics, varied by a short plunge into the dissipations of Paris. Some
years of military service as a volunteer with the Catholic armies at the
beginning of the Thirty Years' War enabled him to travel and see the world.
Returning to Paris, he resumed his studies, but found them seriously
interrupted by the tactless bores who, as we know from Molière's amusing
comedy _Les Fâcheux,_ long continued to infest French society. To escape
their assiduities Descartes, who prized solitude before all things, fled
the country. The inheritance of an independent income enabled the
philosopher to live where he liked; and Holland became, with a few
interruptions, his chosen residence for the next twenty years (1629-49).
Even here frequent changes of residence and occasional concealment of his
address were necessary in order to elude the visits of importunate
admirers. With all his unsociability there seems to have {32} been
something singularly magnetic about the personality of Descartes; yet he
only fell in with one congenial spirit, the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of
the unfortunate Winter King and granddaughter of our James I. Possessing to
the fullest extent the intellectual brilliancy and the incomparable charm
of the Stuart family, this great lady impressed the lonely thinker as the
only person who ever understood his philosophy.

Another royal friendship brought his career to an untimely end. Queen
Christina of Sweden, the gifted and restless daughter of Gustavus Adolphus,
heard of Descartes, and invited him to her Court. On his arrival she sent
for the pilot who had brought the illustrious stranger to Stockholm and
questioned him about his passenger. "Madame," he replied, "it is not a man
whom I conducted to your Majesty, but a demi-god. He taught me more in
three weeks of the science of seamanship and of winds and navigation than I
had learned in the sixty years I had been at sea" (Miss E. S. Haldane's
_Life of René Descartes_). The Queen fully came up to the expectations of
her visitor, in whose eyes she had no fault but an unfortunate tendency to
waste her time on learning Greek. Besides her other merits, she possessed
"a sweetness and goodness which made men devoted to her service." It soon
appeared that, as with others of the same rank, this was only the veneer of
a heartless selfishness. Christina, who was an early riser, required his
attendance in her library to give her lessons in philosophy at five o'clock
in the morning. Descartes was by habit a very late riser. Besides, he had
not even a lodging in the royal palace, but was staying at the French
Embassy, and in going there "had to pass over a long bridge which was
always bitterly cold." The cold {33} killed him. He had arrived at
Stockholm in October, and meant to leave in January; but remained at the
urgent request of the Queen, who, however, made no change in the hour of
their interviews, although that winter was one of the severest on record.
At the beginning of February, 1650, he fell ill and died of inflammation of
the lungs on the 11th, in the fifty-fourth year of his age.

Descartes had the physical courage which Hobbes lacked; but he seems, like
Bacon, to have been a moral coward. The most striking instance of this is
that, on hearing of Galileo's condemnation for teaching the heliocentric
astronomy, he withheld from publication and had even thoughts of destroying
a work of his own in which the same doctrine was maintained. This was at a
time when he was living in a country where there could be no question of
personal danger from the Inquisition. But something of the same weakness
shows itself in his running away from France to escape those intrusions on
his studious retirement which one would think might have been checked by
letting it be known with sufficient firmness that his hours could not be
wasted on idle conversation. And we have seen how at last his life was lost
for no better reason than the dread of giving offence to Queen Christina.

It seems strange that a character so unheroic should figure among the great
emancipators of human thought. In fact, Descartes's services to liberty
have been much exaggerated. His intellectual fame rests on three
foundations. Of these the most indubitable is the creation of analytical
geometry, the starting-point of modern mathematics. The value of his
contributions to physics has been much disputed; but, on the whole, expert
opinion seems to have decided that what was new in them was not true, and
what was true was not new. However, the place we must assign Descartes in
the history of philosophy can only be determined by our opinion of his


[Illustration: RENÉ DESCARTES.]

{35} As a philosopher Descartes has, to begin with, the merit of exemplary
clearness. The fault is not with him if we cannot tell what he thought and
how he came to think it. The classic _Discourse on Method_ (1637) relates
his mental history in a style of almost touching simplicity. It appears
that from an early age truth had been his paramount object, not as with
Bacon and Hobbes for its utility, but for its own sake. In search of this
ideal he read widely, but without finding what he wanted. The great and
famous works of literature might entertain or dazzle; they could not
convince. The philosophers professed to teach truth; their endless disputes
showed that they had not found it. Mathematics, on the other hand,
presented a pleasing picture of demonstrated certainty, but a certainty
that seemed to be prized only as a sure foundation for the mechanical arts.
Wearily throwing his books aside, the young man then applied himself to the
great book of life, mingling with all sorts and conditions of men to hear
what they had to say about the prime interests of existence. But the same
vanity and vexation of spirit followed him here. Men were no more agreed
among themselves than were the authorities of his college days. The truths
of religion seemed, indeed, to offer a safe refuge; but they were an
exception that proved the rule; being, as Descartes observes, a
supernatural revelation, not the natural knowledge that he wanted.

The conflict of authorities had at least one good result, which was to
discredit the very notion of {36} authority, thus throwing the inquirer
back on his own reason as the sole remaining resource. And as mathematics
seemed, so far, to be the only satisfactory science, the most reasonable
course was to give a wider extension and application to the methods of
algebra and geometry. Four fundamental rules were thus obtained: (1) To
admit nothing as true that was not evidently so; (2) to analyse every
problem into as many distinct questions as the nature of the subject
required; (3) to ascend gradually from the simplest to the most complex
subjects; and (4) to be sure that his enumerations and surveys were so
exhaustive and complete as to let no essential element of the question

The rules as they stand are ill-arranged, vague, and imperfect. The last
should come first and the first last. The notions of simplicity,
complexity, and truth are neither illustrated nor defined. And no pains are
taken to discriminate judgments from concepts. It may be said that the
method worked well; at least Descartes tells us that with the help of his
rules he made rapid progress in the solution of mathematical problems. We
may believe in his success without admitting that an inferior genius could
have achieved the same results by the same means. The real point is to
ascertain whether the method, whatever its utility in mathematics, could be
advantageously applied to metaphysics. And the answer seems to be that as
manipulated by its author the new system led to nothing but hopeless

After reserving a provisional assent to the customs of the country where he
happens to be residing and to the creed of the Roman Church, Descartes
begins by calling in question the whole mass of beliefs he has {37}
hitherto accepted, including the reality of the external world. But the
very act of doubt implies the existence of the doubter himself. I think,
therefore I am. It has been supposed that the initial affirmation of this
self-evident principle implies that Descartes identified Being with
Thought. He did no such thing. No more is meant, to begin with, than that,
whatever else is or is not, I the thinker certainly am. This is no great
discovery; the interesting thing is to find out what it implies. A good
deal according to Descartes. First he infers that, since the act of
thinking assures him of his existence, therefore he is a substance the
whole essence of which consists in thought, which is independent of place
and of any material object--in short, an immaterial soul, entirely distinct
from the body, easier to know, and capable of existing without it. Here the
confusion of conception with judgment is apparent, and it leads to a
confusion of our thoughts about reality with the realities themselves. And
Descartes carries this loose reasoning a step further by going on to argue
that, as the certainty of his own existence has no other guarantee than the
clearness with which it is inferred from the fact of his thinking, it must
therefore be a safe rule to conclude that whatever things we conceive very
clearly and distinctly are all true.

In his other great philosophical work, the _Meditations_, Descartes sets
out at greater length, but with less clearness, his arguments for the
immateriality of the soul. Here it is fully admitted that, besides
thinking, self-consciousness covers the functions of perceiving, feeling,
desiring, and willing; nor does it seem to be pretended that these
experiences are reducible to forms of thought. But it is claimed that they
depend on {38} thought in the sense that without thought one would not be
aware of their existence; whereas it can easily be conceived without them.
A little more introspection would show that the second part of the
assertion is not true; for there is no thought without words, and no words,
however inaudibly articulated, without a number of tactual and muscular
sensations, nor even without a series of distinct volitions.

Another noticeable point is that, so far from obeying the methodical rule
to proceed from the simple to the complex, Descartes does just the
contrary. Starting with the whole complex content of consciousness, he
works down by a series of arbitrary rejections to what, according to him,
is the simple fact of immaterial thought. Let us see how it fares with his
attempt to reconstruct knowledge on that elementary basis.

Returning to his postulate of universal doubt, our philosopher argues from
this to an imperfection in his nature, and thence to the idea of a perfect
being. The reasoning is most slipshod; for, even admitting that knowledge
is preferable to ignorance--which has not been proved--it does not follow
that the dogmatist is more perfect than the doubter. Indeed, one might
infer the contrary from Descartes's having passed with progressive
reflection from the one stage to the other. Overlooking the paralogism, let
us grant that he has the idea of a perfect being, and go on to the question
of how he came to possess it. One might suggest that the consciousness of
perfect self-knowledge, combined with the wish to know more of other
subjects, would be sufficient to create an ideal of omniscience, and,
proceeding in like manner from a comparison of wants with their
satisfactions, to enlarge this ideal into the {39} notion of infinite
perfection all round. Descartes, however, is not really out for truth--at
least, not in metaphysics; he is out for a justification of what the
Jesuits had taught him at La Flèche, and no Jesuit casuistry could be more
sophistical than the logic he finds good enough for the purpose. To argue,
as he does, that the idea of a perfect being, in his mind, can be explained
only by its proceeding from such a being as its creator is already
sufficiently audacious. But this feat is far surpassed by his famous
ontological proof of Theism. A triangle, he tells us, need not necessarily
exist; but, assuming there to be one, its three angles must be equal to two
right angles. With God, on the other hand, to be conceived is to be; for,
existence being a perfection, it follows, from the idea of a perfect Being,
that he must exist. The answer is more clear and distinct than any of
Descartes's demonstrations. Perfection is affirmed of existing or of
imaginary subjects, but existence is not a perfection in itself.

A third argument for Theism remains to be considered. Descartes asks how he
came to exist. Not by his own act; for on that hypothesis he would have
given himself all the perfections that now he lacks; nor from any other
imperfect cause, for that would be to repeat the difficulty, not to solve
it. Besides, the simple continuance of his existence from moment to moment
needs an explanation. For time consists of an infinity of parts, none
depending in any way on the others; so that my having been a little while
ago is no reason why I should be now, unless there is some power by which I
am created anew. Here we must observe that Descartes is playing fast and
loose with the law of causation. By what he calls the light of nature--in
other words, the light of Greek {40} philosophy--things can no more pass
into nothing than they can come out of it. Moreover, the difficulty is the
same for my supposed Creator as for myself. We are told that thought is a
necessary perfection of the divine nature. But thinking implies time;
therefore God also exists from moment to moment. How, then, can he recover
his being any more than we can? The answer, of course, would be: because he
is perfect, and perfection involves existence. Thus the argument from
causation throws us back on the so-called ontological argument, whose
futility has already been shown.

This very idea of perfection involves us in fresh difficulties with the law
of causation. A perfect Being might be expected to make perfect
creatures--which by hypothesis we are not. Descartes quite sees this, and
only escapes by a verbal quibble. Our imperfections, he says, come from the
share that Nothingness has in our nature. Once allow so much to the
creative power of zero, and God seems to be a rather gratuitous postulate.

After proving to his own satisfaction the existence of the soul and of God,
Descartes returns to the starting-point of his whole inquiry--that is, the
reality of the material world and of its laws. And now his theology
supplies him with a short and easy method for getting rid of the sceptical
doubts that had troubled him at first. He has a clear and distinct idea of
his own body and of other bodies surrounding it on all sides as extended
substances communicating movements to one another. And he has a tendency to
accept whatever is clearly and distinctly conceived by him as true. But to
suppose that God created that tendency with the intention of deceiving him
would argue a want of veracity in the divine nature incompatible with its
{41} perfection. Such reasoning obviously ignores the alternative that God
might be deceiving us for our good. Or rather what we call truth might not
be an insight into the nature of things in themselves, but a correct
judgment of antecedents and consequents. Our consciousness would then be a
vast sensori-motor machinery adjusted to secure the maintenance and
perfection of life.

Descartes, as a mathematician, places the essence of Matter or Body in
extension. Here he agrees with another mathematical philosopher, Plato, who
says the same in his _Timæus_. So far the coincidence might be accidental;
but when we find that the Frenchman, like the Greek, conceives his
materialised space as being originally divided into triangular bodies, the
evidence of unacknowledged borrowing seems irresistible--the more so that
Huyghens mentions this as customary with Descartes.

The great author of the _Method_ and the _Meditations_--for, after
every critical deduction, his greatness as a thinker remains
undoubted--contributed nothing to ethics. Here he is content to reaffirm
the general conclusions of Greek philosophy, the necessary superiority of
mind to matter, of the soul to the body, of spirit to sense. He accepts
free-will from Aristotle without any attempt to reconcile it with the rigid
determinism of his own mechanical naturalism. At the same time there is a
remarkable anticipation of modern psychology in his doctrine of
intellectual assent as an act of the will. When our judgments go beyond
what is guaranteed by a clear and distinct perception of their truth there
is a possibility of error, and then the error is our own fault, the
precipitate conclusion having been a voluntary act. Thus human free-will
intervenes to clear God of all {42} responsibility for our delusions as
well as for our crimes.


Pascal, we are told, could not forgive Descartes for limiting God's action
on the world to the "initial fillip" by which the process of evolution was
started. Nevertheless, Pascal's friends, the Jansenists, were content to
adopt Cartesianism as their religious philosophy, and his epigram certainly
does not apply to the next distinguished Cartesian, Arnold Geulincx
(1625-1669), a Fleming of Antwerp. Unfortunate in his life, this eminent
teacher has of all original thinkers received the least credit for his
services to metaphysics from posterity, being, outside a small circle of
students, still utterly unknown to fame. Geulincx is the author of a theory
called Occasionalism. Descartes had represented mind, which he identified
with Thought, and matter, which he identified with Extension, as two
antithetical substances with not a note in common. Nevertheless, he
supposed that communications between them took place through a part of the
brain called the pineal body. Geulincx cut through even this narrow
isthmus, denying the possibility of any machinery for transmitting sensible
images from the material world to our consciousness, or volitions from the
mind to the limbs. How, then, were the facts to be explained? According to
him, by the intervention of God. When the so-called organs of sense are
acted on by vibrations from the external world, or when a particular
movement is willed by the mind, the corresponding mental and material
modifications are miraculously produced by the exercise of his omnipotence;
and it is because these events occur _on occasion_ of signals of which they
{43} are not the effects but the consequents that the theory has received
the name of Occasionalism.

The theory, as Geulincx formulated it, seems at first sight simply
grotesque; and from a religious point of view it has the additional
drawback of making God the immediate executor of every crime committed by
man. Nevertheless, it is merely the logical application of a principle
subsequently admitted by profound thinkers of the most opposing
schools--namely, that consciousness cannot produce or transmit energy,
combined with the belief in a God who does not exist for nothing. Even past
the middle of the nineteenth century many English and French naturalists
were persuaded that animal species to the number of 300,000 represented as
many distinct creative acts; and at least one astronomer, who was also a
philosopher, declared that the ultimate atoms of matter, running up to an
immeasurably higher figure, "bore the stamp of the manufactured article."

The capture of Cartesianism by theology was completed by Nicolas
Malebranche (1638-1715). This accomplished writer and thinker, dedicated by
physical infirmity to a contemplative life, entered the Oratory at an early
age, and remained in it until his death. Coming across a copy of
Descartes's _Treatise on Man_ at twenty-six, he at once became a convert to
the new philosophy, and devoted the next ten years to its exclusive study.
At the end of that period he published his masterpiece, _On the
Investigation of Truth_ (_De la Recherche de la Vérité, 1674_), which at
once won him an enormous reputation. It was followed by other works of less
importance. The legend that Malebranche's end was hastened by an argument
with Berkeley has been disproved. {44}

Without acknowledging the obligation, Malebranche accepts the conclusions
of Geulincx to the extent of denying the possibility of any communication
between mind and matter. Indeed, he goes further, and denies that one
portion of matter can act on another. But his real advance on Occasionalism
lies in the question: How, then, can we know the laws of the material
universe, or even that there is such a thing as matter at all? Once more
God intervenes to solve the difficulty, but after a fashion much less crude
than the miraculous apparatus of Geulincx. Introspection assures us that we
are thinking things, and that our minds are stored with ideas, including
the idea of God the all-perfect Being, and the idea of Extension with all
the mathematical and physical truths logically deducible therefrom. We did
not make this idea, therefore it comes from God, was in God's mind before
it was in ours. Following Plotinus, Malebranche calls this idea
intelligible Extension. It is the archetype of our material world. The same
is true of all other clear and distinct ideas; they are, as Platonism
teaches, of divine origin. But is it necessary to suppose that the ideal
contents of each separate soul were placed in it at birth by the Creator?
Surely the law of parsimony forbids. It is a simpler and easier explanation
to suppose that the divine archetypal ideas alone exists, and that we
apprehend them by a mystical communion with the divine consciousness; that,
in short, we see all things in God. And in order to make this vision
possible we must, as the Apostle says, live, move, and have our being in
God. As a mathematician would say, God must be the _locus_, the place of

There is unquestionably something grandiose about this theory, which,
however, has the defect in orthodox {45} opinion of logically leading to
the Pantheism, held in abhorrence by Malebranche, of his greater
contemporary Spinoza. And it is a suggestive circumstance that the very
similar philosophy of the Eternal Consciousness held by our countryman
T. H. Green has been shown by the criticism of Henry Sidgwick to exclude
the personality of God.


With the philosopher whom I have just named we come for the first time in
modern history to a figure recalling in its sustained equality of
intellectual and moral excellence the most heroic figures of Hellenic
thought. Giordano Bruno we may, indeed, pronounce, like Lucan or Cranmer,
"by his death approved," but his submission at Venice has to be set against
his martyrdom at Rome; and if there is nothing very censurable in his
career as a wandering teacher, there is also nothing worthy of any
particular respect. Differences of environment and heredity may no doubt be
invoked to account for the difference of character; and in the philosophy
about to be considered the determining influence of such causes for the
first time finds due recognition; but on the same principle our ethical
judgments also are determined by the very constitution of things.

Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), born at Amsterdam, belonged to a family of
Portuguese Jews, exiled on account of their Hebrew faith, in which also he
was brought up. Soon after reaching manhood he fell away from the
synagogue, preferring to share in the religious exercises of certain
latitudinarian Christian sects. Spies were set to report his conversation,
which soon supplied evidence of sufficiently heterodox opinions. {46} A
sentence of formal excommunication followed; but modern research has
discredited the story of an attempt to assassinate him made by an emissary
of the synagogue. After successfully resisting the claim of his sister and
his brother-in-law to shut out the apostate from his share of the paternal
inheritance, Spinoza surrendered the disputed property, but henceforth
broke off all communication with his family. Subsequently he refused an
offer of 2,000 florins, made by a wealthy friend and admirer, Simon de
Vries, as also a proposal from the same friend to leave him his whole
fortune, insisting that it should go to the legal heir, Simon's brother
Isaac. The latter, on succeeding, wished to settle an annual pension of 500
florins on Spinoza, but the philosopher would accept no more than 300.
Books were his only luxury, material wants being supplied by polishing
glass lenses, an art in which he attained considerable proficiency. But it
was an unhealthy occupation, and probably contributed to his death by

Democracy was then and long afterwards associated with fanaticism and
intolerance rather than with free-thought in religion. The liberal party in
Dutch politics was the aristocratic party. Spinoza sympathised with its
leader, John de Witt; he wept bitter tears over the great statesman's
murder; and only the urgent remonstrances of his friends, who knew what
danger would be incurred by such a step, prevented him from placarding the
walls of the Hague, where he then resided, with an address reproaching the
infuriated people for their crime.


[Illustration: Reproduced (by permission) from _Spinoza's Short Treatise on
God, Man, and his Well-being_, by Professor A. Wolf (A. & C. Black).]


In 1673 the enlightened ruler of the Palatinate, a brother of Descartes's
Princess Elizabeth, offered Spinoza a professorship at Heidelberg, with
full liberty to teach his philosophy. But the pantheistic recluse wisely
refused it. Even at the present day such teaching as his would meet with
little mercy at Berlin, Cambridge, or Edinburgh. As it was, we have reason
to believe that even in free Holland only a premature death saved him from
a prosecution for blasphemy, and his great work the _Ethica_ could not with
safety be published during his lifetime. It appeared anonymously among his
posthumous works in November, 1677, without the name of the true place of
publication on the title-page.

Spinoza was for his time no less daring as a Biblical critic than as a
metaphysician. His celebrated _Tractatus Theologico-Politicus_ has for its
primary purpose to vindicate the freedom of scientific thought against
ecclesiastical interference. And this he does by drawing a trenchant line
of demarcation between the respective offices of religion and of
philosophy. The business of the one is to form the character and to purify
the heart, of the other to guide and inform the intellect. When religion
undertakes to teach scientific truth the very ends for which it exists are
defeated. When theological dogmatism gains control of the Churches the
worst passions are developed under its influence. Instead of becoming lowly
and charitable, men become disturbers of public order, grasping intriguers,
bitter and censorious persecutors. The claims of theology to dictate our
intellectual beliefs are not only mischievous, but totally invalid. They
rest on the authority of the Bible as a revelation of God's will. But no
such supernatural revelation ever was or could be given. Such violation of
the order of nature as the miracles recorded in Scripture history would be
impossible. And the narratives recording them are discredited by {49} the
criticism which shows that various books of the Old Testament were not
written by the men whose names they bear, but long after their time. As a
Hebrew scholar Spinoza discusses the Jewish Scriptures in some detail,
showing in particular that the Pentateuch is of a later date than Moses.
His limited knowledge of Greek is offered as a reason for not handling the
New Testament with equal freedom; but some contradictions are indicated as
disallowing the infallibility claimed for it. At the same time the
perfection of Christ's character is fully acknowledged and accepted as a
moral revelation of God.

Spinoza shared to the fullest extent, and even went beyond, Descartes's
ambition to reconstruct philosophy on a mathematical basis. The idea may
have come to him from the French thinker, but it is actually of much older
origin, being derived from Plato, the leading spirit of the Renaissance, as
Aristotle had been the oracle of the later Middle Ages. Now Plato's ideal
had been to construct a philosophy transcending the assumptions--or, as he
calls them, the hypotheses--of geometry as much as those assumptions
transcend the demonstrations of geometry; and this also was the ideal of
Spinoza. Descartes had been content to accept from tradition his ultimate
realities, Thought, Extension, and God, without showing that they must
necessarily exist; for his proof of God's existence starts from an idea in
the human mind, while Thought and Extension are not deduced at all.

To appreciate the work of the Hebrew philosopher, of the lonely muser, bred
in the religion of Jahveh--a name traditionally interpreted as the very
expression of absolute self-existence--we must conceive him as starting
with a question deeper even than the Cartesian {50} doubt, asking not How
can I know what is? but Why should there _be_ anything whatever? And the
answer, divested of scholastic terminology, is: Because it is inconceivable
that there should be nothing, and if there is anything there must be
everything. This universe of things, which must also be everlasting,
Spinoza calls God.

The philosophy or religion--for it is both--which identifies God with the
totality of existence was of long standing in Greece, and had been
elaborated in systematic detail by the Stoics. It has been known for the
last two centuries under the name of Pantheism, a word of Greek etymology,
but not a creation of the Greeks themselves, and, indeed, of more modern
date than Spinoza. Historians always speak of him as a Pantheist, and there
is no reason to think that he would have objected to the designation had it
been current during his lifetime. But there are important points of
distinction between him and those who preceded or followed him in the same
speculative direction. The Stoics differed from him in being materialists.
To them reality and corporeality were convertible terms. It seems likely
that Hobbes and his contemporary, the atomist Gassendi, were of the same
opinion, although they did not say it in so many words. But Descartes was a
strong spiritualist; and Spinoza followed the master's lead so far, at any
rate, as to give Thought at least equal reality with matter, which he also
identified with Extension. It has been seen what difficulties were created
by the radical Cartesian antithesis between Thought and Extension, or--to
call them by their more familiar names--mind and body, when taken together
with the intimate association shown by experience to obtain between them;
and also how {51} Geulincx and Malebranche were led on by the very spirit
of philosophy itself almost to submerge the two disparate substances in the
all-absorbing agency of God. The obvious course, then, for Spinoza, being
unfettered by the obligations of any Christian creed, was to take the last
remaining step, to resolve the dualism of Thought and Extension into the
unity of the divine substance.

In fact, the Hebrew philosopher does this, declaring boldly that Thought
and Extension are one and the same thing--which thing is God, the only true
reality of which they are merely appearances. And, so far, he has had many
followers who strive to harmonise the opposition of what we now call
subject and object in the synthesis of the All-One. But he goes beyond
this, expanding the conception of God--or the Absolute--to a degree
undreamed of by any religion or philosophy formulated before or after his
time. God, Spinoza tells us, is "a Substance consisting of infinite
attributes, each of which expresses his absolute and eternal essence." But
of these attributes two alone, Thought and Extension, are known to us at
present, so that our ignorance infinitely exceeds our knowledge of reality.
His extant writings do not explain by what process he mounted to this, the
most dizzy height of speculation ever attained by man; but, in the absence
of definite information, some guiding considerations suggest themselves as

Bruno, whom Spinoza is held, on strong grounds, to have read, identified
God with the supreme unifying principle of a universe extending through
infinite space. Descartes, on the other hand, conceived God as a thinking
rather than as an extended substance. But his school tended, as we saw, to
conceive God as mediating {52} between mind and body in a way that
suggested their real union through his power. Furthermore, the habit common
to all Cartesians of regarding geometrical reasoning as the most perfect
form of thought inevitably led to the conception of thought as accompanying
space wherever it went--in fact, as stretching like it to infinity. Again,
from the Cartesian point of view, that Extension which is the very essence
of the material world, while it covers space, is more than mere space; it
includes not only co-existence, but succession or time--that is,
scientifically speaking, the eternal sequence of physical causes; or,
theologically speaking, the creative activity of God. And reason or thought
had also since Aristotle been more or less identified with the law of
universal causation no less than with the laws of geometry.

Thus, then, the ground was prepared for Spinoza, as a pantheistic monist,
to conceive God under the two attributes of Extension and Thought, each in
its own way disclosing his essence as no other than infinite Power. But why
should God have, or consist of, two attributes and no more? There is a good
reason why _we_ should know only those two. It is that we are ourselves
modes of Thought united to modes of Extension, of which our thoughts are
the revealing ideas. But it would be gross anthropomorphism to impose the
limitations of our knowledge on the infinite being of God, manifested
through those very attributes as unlimited Power. The infinite of
co-existence, which is space, the infinite of causal procession, which is
time, suggest an infinity of unimaginable but not inconceivable attributes
of which the one divine substance consists. And here at last we get the
explanation of why there should be such things as Thought and Extension at
all. They are there simply because everything is. If I grant {53}
anything--and I must, at least, grant myself--I grant existence, which,
having nothing outside itself, must fill up all the possibilities of being
which only exclude the self-contradictory from their domain. Thus, the
philosophy of Spinoza neither obliges him to believe in the monsters of
mythology nor in the miracles of Scripture, nor in the dogmas of Catholic
theology, nor even in free-will; nor, again, would it oblige him to reject
by anticipation the marvels of modern science. For, according to him, the
impossibility of really incredible things could be deduced with the
certainty of mathematical demonstration from the law of contradiction

Hegel has given the name of acosmism, or negation of the world, to this
form of pantheism, interpreting it as a doctrine that absorbs all concrete
reality and individuality in the absolute unity of the divine essence. No
misconception could be more complete. Differentiation is the very soul of
Spinoza's system. It is, indeed, more open to the charge of excessive
dispersion than of excessive centralisation. Power, which is God's essence,
means no more than the realisation through all eternity of all
possibilities of existence, with no end or aim but just the process of
infinite production itself. There is, indeed, a nominal identification
between the material processes of Extension and the ideal processes of
Thought. But this amounts to no more than a re-statement in abstract terms
of the empirical truth that there is a close connection between body and
mind. Like the double-aspect theory, the parallelistic theory, the
materialistic theory, the theory of interaction, and the theory of more or
less complete reciprocal independence, it is a mere verbalism, telling us
nothing that we did not know before. Or, if there {54} is more, it consists
of the very questionable assumption that body and mind must come in
somewhere to fill up what would otherwise be blank possibilities of
existence. And this, like other metaphysical assumptions, is an
illegitimate generalisation from experience. The ideas of space and time as
filled-up _continua_ supply the model on which the whole universe must be
constructed. Like them, it must be infinite and eternal, but, so to speak,
at a higher power; as in them, every part must be determined by the
position of all other parts, with the determination put at a logical
instead of at a descriptive value; corresponding to their infinitely varied
differentiation of position and quantity, there must be an infinite
differentiation of concrete content; and, finally, the laws of the universe
must be demonstrable by the same _à priori_ mathematical method that has
been so successfully applied to continuous quantity.

The geometrical form into which Spinoza has thrown his philosophy
unfortunately restricts the number of readers--always rather small--that it
might otherwise attract. People feel themselves mystified, wearied, and
cheated by the appearance, without the reality, of logical demonstration;
and the repulsion is aggravated by the barbarous scholasticism with
which--unlike Bacon, Hobbes, and Descartes--he peppers his pages. Yet, like
the Greek philosophers, he is much more modern, more on the true line of
developing thought than they are. But to get at the true kernel of his
teaching we must, like Goethe, disregard the logical husks in which it is
wrapped up. And, as it happens, Spinoza has greatly facilitated this
operation by printing his most interesting and suggestive discussions in
the form of Scholia, Explanations, and Appendices. Even {55} these are not
easy reading; but, to quote his own pathetic words, "If the way of
salvation lay ready to hand, and could be found without great toil, would
it be neglected by nearly everyone? But all glorious things are as
difficult as they are rare."

Some of his expositors have called Spinoza a mystic; and his philosophy has
been traced, in part at least, to the mystical pantheism of certain
medieval Jews. In my opinion this is a mistake; and I will now proceed to
show that the phrases on which it rests are open to an interpretation more
consistent with the rational foundations of the whole system.

The things that have done most to fasten the character of a mystic on
Spinoza are his identification of virtue with the knowledge and love of
God, and his theory--so suggestive of Christian theology at its highest
flight--that God loves himself with an infinite love. That, like Plato and
Matthew Arnold, he should value religion as a means of popular moralisation
might seem natural enough; but not, except from a mystical motive, that he
should apparently value morality merely as a help to the religious life. On
examination, however, it appears that the beatific vision of this pantheist
offers no experience going beyond the limits of nature and reason. Since
God and the universe are one, to know God is to know that we are, body and
soul, necessary modes of the two attributes, Extension and Thought, by
which the infinite Power which is the essence of the universe expresses
itself for us. To love God is to recognise our own vitality as a portion of
that power, welcoming it with grateful joy as a gift from the universe
whence we come. And to say that God loves himself with an infinite love is
merely to say that the attribute of Thought eternally divides itself among
an infinity of {56} thinking beings, through whose activity the universe
keeps up a delighted consciousness of itself.

Spinoza declares by the very name of his great work that for him the
philosophical problem is essentially a problem of ethics, being, indeed, no
other than the old question, first started by Plato, how to reconcile
disinterestedness with self-interest; and his metaphysical system is really
an elaborate mechanism for proving that, on the profoundest interpretation,
their claims coincide. His great contemporary, Hobbes, had taught that the
fundamental impulse of human nature is the will for power; and Spinoza
accepts this idea to the fullest extent in proclaiming Power to be the very
stuff of which we and all other things are made. But he parts company with
the English philosopher in his theory of what it means. On his view it is
an utter illusion to suppose that to gratify such passions as pride,
avarice, vanity, and lust is to acquire or exercise power. For strength
means freedom, self-determination; and no man can be free whose happiness
depends on a fortuitous combination of external circumstances, or on the
consent of other persons whose desires are such as to set up a conflict
between his gratification and theirs. Real power means self-realisation,
the exercise of that faculty which is most purely human--that is to say, of
Thought under the form of reason.

In pleading for the subordination of the self-seeking desires to reason
Spinoza repeats the lessons of moral philosophy in all ages and countries
since its first independent constitution. In connecting the interests of
morality with the interests of science as such, he follows the tradition of
Athenian thought. In interpreting pantheism as an ethical enthusiasm of the
universe he returns to the creed of Stoicism, and {57} strikes the keynote
of Wordsworth's loftiest poetry. In fixing each man's place in nature as
one among the infinite individuations of divine power he repeats another
Stoic idea--with this difference, however, that among the Stoics it was
intimately associated with their teleology, with the doctrine that
everything in nature has a function without whose performance the universe
would not be complete; whereas Spinoza, following Bacon and Descartes,
utterly abjures final causes as an anthropomorphism, an intrusion of human
interests into a universe whose sole perfection is to exhaust the
possibilities of existence. And herein lies his justification of evil which
the Stoics could only defend on aesthetic grounds as enhancing the beauty
of moral heroism by contrast and conflict. "If I am asked," he says, "why
God did not create all men of such a character as to be guided by reason
alone, my answer is because he had materials enough to create all things
from the highest to the lowest degree of perfection." Perfection with him
meaning reality, this account of evil--and of error also--points to the
theory of degrees of reality, revived and elaborated in our own time by Mr.
F. H. Bradley, involving a correlative theory of illusion. Now, the idea of
illusion, although older than Plato, was first applied on a great scale in
Plato's philosophy, of whose influence on seventeenth-century thought this
is not the only example. We shall find it to some extent countervailed by a
revived Aristotelian current in the work of the metaphysician who now
remains to be considered.


G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716), son of a professor at the University of Leipzig,
is marked by some of the distinguishing intellectual characters of the
German genius. {58} Far more truly than Francis Bacon, this man took all
knowledge for his province. At once a mathematician, a physicist, a
historian, a metaphysician, and a diplomatist, he went to the bottom of
whatever subject he touched, and enriched all his multifarious studies with
new views or with new facts. And as with other great countrymen of his, the
final end of all this curiosity and interest was to combine and reconcile.
One of his ambitions was to create a universal language of philosophy, by
whose means its problems were to be made a matter of mathematical
demonstration; another to harmonise ancient with modern speculation; a
third--the most chimerical of all--to compose the differences between Rome
and Protestantism; a fourth--partly realised long after his time--to unite
the German Calvinists with the Lutherans. In politics he tried, with equal
unsuccess, to build up a Confederation of the Rhine as a barrier against
Louis XIV., and to divert the ambition of Louis himself from encroachments
on his neighbours to the conquest of Egypt.

It seems probable that no intellect of equal power was ever applied in
modern times to the service of philosophy. And this power is demonstrated,
not, as with other metaphysicians, by constructions of more or less
contestable value, however dazzling the ingenuity they may display, but by
contributions of the first order to positive science. It is now agreed that
Leibniz discovered the differential calculus independently of Newton; and,
what is more, that the formulation by which alone it has been made
available for fruitful application was his exclusive invention. In physics
he is a pioneer of the conservation of energy. In geology he starts the
theory that our planet began as a glowing molten mass derived from the sun;
and the modern {59} theory of evolution is a special application of his
theory of development.

Intellect alone, however, does not make a great philosopher; character also
is required; and Leibniz's character was quite unworthy of his genius.
Ambitious and avaricious, a courtier and a time-server, he neither made
truth for its own sake a paramount object, nor would he keep on terms with
those who cherished a nobler ideal. After cultivating Spinoza's
acquaintance, he joined in the cry of obloquy raised after his death, and
was mean enough to stir up religious prejudice against Newton's theory of
gravitation. Of the calamity that embittered his closing days we may say
with confidence that it could not possibly have befallen Spinoza. On the
accession of the Elector of Hanover to the English crown as George I.,
Leibniz sought for an invitation to the Court of St. James. Apparently the
prince had not found him very satisfactory as a State official, and had
reason to believe that Leibniz would have liked to exchange his office of
historiographer at Hanover for a better appointment at Vienna. Greatness in
other departments could not recommend one whom he knew only as a negligent
and perhaps unfaithful servant to the favour of such an illiterate master.
Anyhow, the English appointment was withheld, and the worn-out
encyclopædist succumbed to disease and vexation combined. The only mourner
at his funeral was his secretary, Eckhardt, who hastened to solicit the
reversion of the offices left vacant by his chief's decease.

A single theory of Leibniz has attained more celebrity than any one
utterance of any other philosopher; but that fame is due to the undying
fire in which it has been enveloped by the mocking irony of Voltaire. {60}
Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Such is the
famous text as a satire on which _Candide_ was composed. Yet whatever value
Voltaire's objections to optimism may possess tells nearly as much against
Voltaire himself as against his unfortunate butt. For, after all, believing
as he did in a God who combined omnipotence with perfect goodness he could
not any more than Leibniz evade the obligation of reconciling the divine
character with the divine work. On _à priori_ grounds the German
philosopher seems to have an incontrovertible case. A perfect Being must
have made the best possible world. The only question is what we mean by
goodness and by possibility. Spinoza had solved the problem by identifying
goodness with existence. It is enough that the things we call evil are
possible; the infinite Power of nature would be a self-contradiction were
they not realised. Leibniz rejects the pantheistic position in terms, but
nearly admits it in practice. Evil for him means imperfection, and if God
made a world at all it was bound to be imperfect. The next step was to call
pain an imperfection, which suggests a serious logical deficiency in the
optimist; for, although in certain circumstances the production of pain
argues imperfection in the operator, we are not entitled to argue that
wherever there is pain there must be imperfection. Another plea is the
necessity of pain as a punishment for crime, or, more generally, as a
result of moral freedom. Such an argument is only open to the believers in
free-will. A world of free and responsible agents, they urge, is infinitely
more valuable than a world of automata; and it is not too dearly purchased
even at the cost of such suffering as we witness. The argument is not very
convincing; for liberty of choice {61} in a painless world is quite
conceivable. But, be it a good or bad argument, although it might appeal to
Voltaire, who believed in free-will, it could not decently be used by
Leibniz, who was a determinist of the strictest type. To make this clear we
must now turn to his metaphysical system.

Bacon, Descartes, and Spinoza, disagreeing widely on other subjects, were
agreed in discountenancing the study of final causes: Bacon, apparently,
from dislike of the idea that the perfect adaptation of all things to the
service of man rendered superfluous any efforts to make them more
serviceable still; Descartes from his devotion to the mathematical method
which was more applicable to a system of mechanical causation; Spinoza for
the same reason, and also from his disbelief in a personal God. Leibniz, on
the contrary, felt deeply impressed by a famous passage in Plato's _Phædo,_
where Socrates, opposing the philosophy of teleology to the philosophy of
mechanism, desiderates an explanation of nature as designed with a view to
the highest good. But Leibniz did not go so far as Plato. Mediating between
the two methods, he taught that all is done for the best, but also that all
is done through an unbroken series of efficient causes. At the same time,
these causes are only material in appearance; in reality they are spiritual
beings. There is no such thing as dead matter; the universe consists of
living forces all through. The general idea of force probably came from
that infinite Power of which, according to Spinoza, the whole universe is
at once the product and the expression; or it may have been suggested by
Plato's incidental identification of Being with Action. But Leibniz found
his type of force in human personality, which, following the lead of
Aristotle {62} rather than of Plato, he conceived as an Entelechy, or
realised Actuality, and a First Substance. After years of anxious
reflection he chose the far happier name of Monad, a term originally coined
by Bruno, but not, as would appear, directly borrowed from him by the
German metaphysician.

According to Leibniz, the monads or ultimate elements of existence are
constituted by the two essential properties of psychic life, perception and
appetency. In this connection two points have to be made clear. What he
calls bare monads--_i.e._, the components of what is known as inorganic
matter--although percipient, are not conscious of their perceptions; in his
language they do not _apperceive_. And he endeavours to prove that such a
mentality is possible by a reference to our own experience. We hear the
roaring of waves on the seashore, but we do not hear the sound made by the
falling of each particle of water. And yet we certainly must perceive it in
some way or other, since the total volume of sound is made up of those
inaudible impacts. He overlooks the conceivable alternative that the
immediate antecedent of our auditory sensations is a cerebral disturbance,
and that this must attain a certain volume in order to produce an effect on
our consciousness. The other point is that the appetency of a monad does
not mean an active impulse, but a search for more and more perceptions, a
continuous widening of its cognitive range. In short, each monad is a
little Leibniz for ever increasing the sum of its knowledge.

At no stage does that knowledge come from experience. The monad has no
windows, no communication of any kind with the external world. But each
reflects the whole universe, knowing what it knows by {63} mere
introspection. And each reflects all the others at a different angle, the
angles varying from one another by infinitesimal degrees, so that in their
totality they form a continuous series of differentiated individuals. And
the same law of infinitesimal differentiation is observed by the series of
progressive changes through which the monads are ever passing, so that they
keep exact step, the continuity of existence being unbroken in the order of
succession as in the order of co-existence. Evidently there is no place for
free-will in such a system; and that Leibniz, with his relentless fatalism,
should not only admit the eternal punishment of predestined sinners, but
even defend it as morally appropriate, obliges us to condemn his theology
as utterly irrational or utterly insincere.

In this system animal and human souls are conceived as monads of superior
rank occupying a central and commanding position among a multitude of
inferior monads constituting what we call their bodies, and changing _pari
passu_ with them, the correspondence of their respective states being,
according to Leibniz, of such a peculiarly intimate character that the
phenomena of sensation and volition seem to result from a causal reaction
instead of from a mechanical adjustment such as we can imagine to exist
between two clocks so constructed and set as to strike the same hour at the
same time. This theory of the relations between body and soul is known to
philosophy as the system of pre-established harmony.

It may be asked how every monad can possibly reflect every other monad when
we do not know what is passing in our own bodies, still less what is
passing all over the universe. The answer consists in a convenient
distinction between clear and confused {64} perceptions, the one
constituting our actual and the other our potential knowledge. A more
difficult problem is to explain how any particular monad--Leibniz or
another--can consistently be a monadologist rather than a solipsist
believing only in its own existence. Here, as usual, the _Deus ex Machina_
comes in. Following Descartes, I think of God as a perfect Being whose idea
involves his existence, with, of course, the power, will, and wisdom to
create the best possible world--a universe of monads--which, again, by its
perfect mutual adjustments, proves that there is a God. A more serious, and
indeed absolutely insuperable, objection arises from the definition of the
monads as nothing but mutually reflecting entities. For even an infinity of
little mirrors with nothing but each other to reflect must at once collapse
into absolute vacuity. And with their disappearance their creator also
disappears. God, the supreme monad, we are told, has only clear
perceptions; but the clearness is of no avail when he has nothing to
perceive but an absolute blank. Leibniz rejected the objectivity of time
and space; yet the hollow infinity of those blank forms seems, in his
philosophy, to have reached the consciousness of itself.

       *       *       *       *       *





Epistemology, or theory of knowledge, did not begin in modern times. Among
the Greeks it goes back, at least, to Empedocles, and figures largely in
the programmes of the later schools. And Descartes's universal doubt seems
to give the question, How can we be sure of anything? a foremost place in
speculation. But the singular assurance with which the Cartesian
metaphysicians presented their adventurous hypotheses as demonstrated
certainties showed that with them the test of truth meant whatever told for
that which, on other grounds, they believed to be true. In reality, the
thing they called reason was hardly more than a covert appeal to authority,
a suggestion that the duty of philosophy was to reconcile old beliefs with
new. And the last great dogmatist, Leibniz, was the one who practised this
method of uncritical assumption to the utmost extent.


It is the peculiar glory of John Locke (1632-1704) to have resumed that
method of doubt which Descartes had attempted, but which his dogmatic
prepossessions had falsified almost at the first start. This illustrious
thinker is memorable not only for his services to speculation, but for the
example of a genuinely philosophic life {66} entirely devoted to truth and
good--a character in which personal sweetness, simplicity, and charm were
combined with strenuous, disinterested, and fearless devotion to the
service of the State. Locke was a Whig when Whiggism meant advanced
Liberalism in religion and politics, and when _that_ often meant a choice
between exile and death. Thus, after the fall of his patron, Lord
Shaftesbury, the philosopher had to take refuge in Holland, remaining there
for some years, lying hid even there for some time to escape an extradition
order for which the Government of James II. had applied. It was in Holland
that he wrote the _Essay Concerning Human Understanding_.

This revolutionist in thought was no solitary recluse, but, in the best
sense, a thorough man of the world. Educated at Westminster and Christ
Church, he had, in the German poet's phrase, the supreme happiness of
combining the seriousness of an enthusiast with the sagacity of a
statesman, so that great statesmen recognised him as one of themselves.
With the triumph of the Whig cause at a time when diplomacy demanded the
utmost tact and skill, it was proposed to send Locke as Ambassador to the
Court of Brandenburg, and, as that would not have suited his sober habits,
to the Court of Vienna. Weak health obliging him to decline this also, he
received office in the Ministry at home, taking a department where business
talents were eminently required. In that capacity he bore a leading part in
the restoration of the coinage, besides inspiring the Toleration Act and
the Act for Unlicensed Printing. Even the wisest men make mistakes; and it
must be noticed with regret that Locke's theory of toleration excluded
Roman Catholics on the one side and atheists on the other--the former
because their {67} creed made persecution a duty, the latter because their
want of a creed left them no sanction for any duties whatever. To say that
Locke had not our experience does not excuse him, for in both cases the
expediency of toleration can be proved _à priori_. Romanists must be
expected to suppress a heresy whose spokesman declares that when he has the
power he will suppress their Church; and, if atheists are without moral
principle, they will propagate, under cover of orthodoxy, negations that
they are not allowed openly to profess.

Locke was brought up by a Puritan father; and, although in after life he
wandered far from its doctrinal standards, he no doubt always retained a
sense of that close connection between religion and morality which
Puritanism implies. Telling about the train of thought that started his
great Essay, he refers it to a conversation between himself and some
friends, in which they "found themselves quickly at a stand by the
difficulties that rose on every side;" and, according to an intimate friend
of his, the discussion turned "on the principles of morality and revealed
religion." It then occurred to him that they should first ascertain "what
objects their understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." And the
mottoes prefixed to the essay prove that the results were of a decidedly
sceptical cast. Indeed, his successors, though not himself, were destined
to develop them into what is now called Agnosticism.

We have further to note that, while his Continental rivals were
mathematicians, our English philosopher never went deeply into mathematics,
but was by calling a physician. In this he resembles Aristotle and Sextus
Empiricus among the Greeks; and so it is quite in order that, with the same
sort of training, he should {68} adopt Aristotle's method of experience as
against Platonic transcendentalism, and the sceptical relativism of Sextus
as against the dogmatism of the schools.

Locke begins his essay with a vigorous polemic against the doctrine of
Innate Ideas. The word "idea," as he uses it, is ambiguous, serving to
denote perceptions, notions, and propositions; but this confusion is of no
practical importance, his object being to show that all our knowledge
originates in experience; whereas the reigning belief was that at least the
first principles of knowledge had a more authoritative, if not a mystical,
source. Hobbes had been beforehand with him in deriving every kind of
knowledge from experience, but had been content to assume his case; whereas
Locke supports his by a formidable array of proofs. The gist of his
argument is that intellectual and moral principles supposed to be
recognised by all mankind from their infancy are admitted only by some, and
by those only as the result of teaching.

As we saw, the whole inquiry began with questions about religion and
morality; and it is precisely in reference to the alleged universality and
innateness of the belief in God and the moral law that Locke is most
successful. And the more modern anthropology teaches us about primitive
man, the stronger becomes the case against the transcendental side in the
controversy. Where his analysis breaks down is in dealing with the
difficult and important ideas of Space, Time, Substance, and
Causality--with the fatal result that such questions as, How is experience
itself possible? or, How from a partial experience can we draw universal
and necessary conclusions? find no place in his theory of knowledge. Of
course, his contemporaries are open to the same {69} criticism--nor,
indeed, had the time come even for the statement of such problems.
Meanwhile, the facility with which the founder of epistemology accepts
fallacies whence Spinoza had already found his way out shows how little he
was master of his means. According to Locke, it is "a certain and evident
truth that there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing being,
which whether anyone will please to call God it matters not." On
examination the proof appears to involve two unproved assumptions. The
first is that nothing can begin to exist without a cause. The second is
that effects must resemble their causes. And from these it is inferred that
an all-powerful being must have existed from all eternity. The alternative
is overlooked that a succession of more limited beings would answer the
purpose equally well, while it would also be more consistent with our
experience. But a far more fatal objection to Locke's theism results from
his second assumption. This, although not explicitly stated, is involved in
the assertion that for knowledge such as we possess to originate from
things without knowledge is impossible. For, on the same principle, matter
must have been made by something material, pain by something that is
pained, and evil by something that is evil. It would not even be going too
far to say that by this logic I myself must have existed from all eternity;
for to say that I was created by a not-myself would be to say that
something may come from nothing.

We have seen how Locke refused toleration to atheists on the ground that
their denial of a divine lawgiver and judge destroys the basis of morality.
He did not, like Spinoza, believe that morality is of the nature of things.
For him it is constituted by the will of God. Possibly, if pressed, he
might have explained {70} that what atheism denies is not the rule of
right, but the sanction of that rule, the fear of supernatural retribution.
Yet being, like Spinoza and Leibniz, a determinist, he should have seen
that a creator who sets in motion the train of causes and effects
necessarily resulting in what we call good or bad human actions has the
same responsibility for those actions as if he had committed them himself.
To reward one of his passive agents and to punish another would be grossly
unjust and at the same time perfectly useless. But how do we know that he
will, on any theory of volition, reward the good and punish the bad?
"Because we have his word for it." And how do we know that he will keep his
word? "Because he is all-good." But that, on Locke's principles, is pure
assumption; and God, being quite sure that _he_ has no retribution to fear,
must be even more irresponsible than the atheist.

The principle that nothing can come from nothing, so far from proving
theism, leads logically either to pantheism or to a much more thorough
monadism than the system of Leibniz. And, metaphysics apart, it conflicts
with a leading doctrine of the essay--that is the fundamental distinction
between the primary and the secondary qualities of matter. We think of
bodies as in themselves extended, resisting and mobile, but not in
themselves as coloured, sonorous, odorous, hot, cold, or sapid. They cause
our special sensations, but cause them by an unknown power. Again we
perceive--or think we perceive--both primary and secondary qualities in
close union as properties of a single object, and this object in which they
jointly inhere is called a substance. And to the question, What is
substance? Locke admits that he has no answer except something we know not
what. He has returned to the agnostic standpoint of the {71} Cyrenaic
school. This something, for aught we know, might have created the world.

Continental historians regard the whole rationalistic movement of the
eighteenth century, or what in Germany is called the Enlightenment
(Aufklärung), as having been started by Locke. But the sort of arguments
that he adduces for the existence of a God prove that in theology at least
his rationalism had rather narrow limits. Both his theism and his
acceptance of Christianity on the evidence of prophecy and miracles show no
advance on medieval logic. In this respect Spinoza and Bayle (1622-1709)
were far more in line with the modern movement. Still, assuming scripture
as an authoritative revelation, Locke shows that, rationally interpreted,
it yields much less support to dogmatic orthodoxy than English Churchmen
supposed. And whatever may have been the letter of his religious teaching,
there can be little doubt that the English Deists, Toland, Shaftesbury, and
Anthony Collins, represented its true spirit more faithfully than the
philosopher himself.

Representative government and the subordination of ecclesiastical to
secular authority--or, better still, their separation--are both good things
in themselves and favourable conditions to the life of reason. Another
condition is that children should be trained to exercise their intelligence
instead of relying blindly on authority. In these respects also Locke's
writings acted powerfully on the public opinion of the next century,
especially through the agency of French writers; France, as Macaulay justly
claims, being the interpreter between England and the world. Our present
business, however, is not with the diffusion but the development of
thought, and to trace this we must return to British philosophy. {72}


George Berkeley (1684-1753) was born and educated in Ireland. The fact is
of no racial or national importance, but interests us as accounting for his
having received a better training in philosophy than at that time was
possible in England. For the study of Locke, then proscribed at Oxford, had
already been introduced into Dublin when Berkeley was an undergraduate
there; and it was as a critical advance on Locke that his first
publication, the _New Theory of Vision_ (1709), was offered. Next year came
the epoch-making _Principles of Human Knowledge_, followed in 1713 by the
more popular _Dialogues_. At twenty-nine his work was done, and although he
lived forty years longer, rising to be a Bishop in the Irish Church, after
projecting a Christian Utopia for the civilisation of the North American
Indians that never came to anything, and practising "every virtue under
heaven," he made no other permanent contribution to thought.

Berkeley is at once a theorist of knowledge and a metaphysician, combining,
in a way, the method of Locke with the method of Descartes and his
successors. The popular notion of his philosophy is that it resolved the
external world into a dream, or at least into something that has no
existence outside our minds. But this is an utter misconception, against
which Berkeley constantly protested. His quarrel was not with common sense,
but with the theorists of perception. To understand this we must return for
a moment to Locke's teaching. It will be remembered in what a tangle of
difficulties the essay had left its author. Matter had two sets of
qualities, primary and secondary, the one belonging to things in
themselves, the other existing only {73} in our minds; yet both somehow
combined in real substances independent of us, but acting on our senses.
Substance as such is an unknown and unknowable postulate; nevertheless, we
know that it was created by God, of whom our knowledge is, if anything,
inconveniently extensive. Now Berkeley, to find his way out of these
perplexities, begins by attacking the distinction between primary and
secondary qualities. For this purpose his _Theory of Vision_ was written.
It proves--or attempts to prove--that extension is not a real attribute of
things in themselves, but an intellectual construction, or what Locke would
have called an "idea of reflection." Till then people had thought that its
objectivity was firmly established by the concurrent testimony of two
senses, sight and touch. Berkeley shows, on the contrary, that visible and
tangible extension are not the same thing, that the sensations--or, as he
calls them, the ideas--of sight and touch are two different languages whose
words we learn by experience to interpret in terms of each other without
their being necessarily connected. A man born blind would not at first
sight know how to interpret the visual signs of distance, direction, and
magnitude; he would have to learn them by experience. These, in fact, are
ideal relations only existing in the mind; and so we have no right to
oppose mind as inextended to an extended or an external world.

Having thus cleared the ground, our young idealist proceeds in his next and
greatest work, _Of the Principles of Human Knowledge_, to attack the
problem from another side. The world of objects revealed through sensation
and reflection is clearly no illusion, no creation of our own. We find it
there, changing, when it changes, without or even very much against our
will. {74} What, then, is its origin and nature? Locke's view, which is the
common view, tells us that it consists of material bodies, some animated
and some not. And matter, the supposed substance of body, is made known to
us by impressions on our organs of sense. But when we try to think of
matter apart from these sensible qualities and the relations between them
it vanishes into an empty abstraction. Now, according to Berkeley there are
no abstract ideas--_i.e._, no thoughts unassociated with some mental image
besides a mere word; and Matter or inanimate substance would be such an
idea, therefore it does not exist. There is nothing but mind and its
contents--what we call states of consciousness, what Locke and Berkeley
called ideas. Whence, then, come the objects of our consciousness, and
whither do they go when we cease to perceive them? At this point the new
metaphysical system intervenes. Berkeley says that all things subsist in
the consciousness of God, and by their subsistence his existence is proved.
The direct apprehension of a reality that is not ourselves only becomes
possible through what would be called in modern language a subjective
participation in the divine consciousness, more feebly reflected, as would
seem, in the memories, imaginations, and reasonings of our finite minds.

In pursuing these wonderful speculations Berkeley deviated widely from the
direct line of English philosophy, and it is difficult not to believe that
the deflection was determined by the influence of Malebranche, especially
when we find that the writings of the Oratorian Father were included in his
college studies. Moreover, a parallel line of idealistic development
derived from the same source was evolving itself at {75} the same time in
English thought. John Norris (1657-1711), a correspondent of the Platonist
Henry More, an opponent of Locke, and a disciple of Malebranche, had
himself found an enthusiastic admirer in Arthur Collier (1680-1732), whose
_Clavis Universalis_ professed to be "a demonstration of the _non-existence
or impossibility of an external world_" (1713). Both Norris and Collier,
like Malebranche and Berkeley, were Churchmen; but so strong was the drift
towards idealism that Leibniz, a layman and a man of science, contributed
by his Monadology to the same current. Malebranche neither was nor could he
be a complete idealist in the sense of denying the reality of matter; for
the dogma of transubstantiation bound him, as a Catholic, to its
acceptance, while Berkeley, Collier, and Leibniz, as Protestants, were
under no such obligation. His idealism agreed more nearly with the
Neo-Platonic doctrine of Archetypes in the divine Reason among which Matter
was one. On the other hand, Berkeley probably borrowed from him the notion
of a direct contact with God, the difference being that with the Cartesian
it is conceived as an objective vision, with Locke's disciple as (if the
expression may be permitted) a subjective con-consciousness. Leibniz,
again, while abolishing Matter, retains an external world composed indeed
of spirits and so far immaterial, but existing independently of God.

All these systems involve the negation of two fundamental scientific
principles. The first is that every change must be explained by reference
to an antecedent change to which it bears a strict quantitative relation.
The second is that no particular change can be referred to another change
as its necessary antecedent unless it can be shown by experience that a
precisely similar {76} couple of changes are, in fact, always so connected.
Let me illustrate these principles by an example. I leave a kettle full of
cold water on the fire, and on returning after a sufficient interval of
time I find the water boiling. Had I stayed by the fire and watched the
process, my kettle would--a popular proverb to the contrary
notwithstanding--have certainly boiled as soon, but also no sooner for
being helped by my consciousness. The essential thing is that energy of
combustion in the fire should be turned into energy of boiling in the
water. Now, what is Berkeley's interpretation of the facts? Fire, kettle,
water, and ebullition are what in his writings are called "ideas"--_i.e._,
phenomena occasionally in my mind, but always in God's mind. And according
to this view the necessary antecedent to the boiling of the water is not
the fire's burning, but God's consciousness of its burning, his perception
being the essence of the operation. But it is proved by experience that
neither my perception nor anyone else's ever made a single drop of water
boil. In other words, perception is not in this instance a _vera causa_.
Why, then, should the perception of any other mind, however exalted, have
that effect?

Nor is this all. How does Berkeley know that God exists? Because, he says,
to exist is to be perceived, and therefore for the universe to exist
implies a universal Percipient. But he got the idea of God from other men,
who certainly did not come by it as a generalisation from their
perceptions; they got it by generalising from their voluntary actions,
which do produce the changes that perception cannot produce. It will be
said that volitions and the feelings that prompt them exist only in
consciousness. In whose consciousness? In that of a spirit. And what is
spirit apart from {77} sensation, thought, feeling, and volition? Simply
one of those abstract ideas whose existence Berkeley himself denied.


The next step in the evolution of English thought was to consist in a
return to Locke's method, involving a complete breach with
seventeenth-century Platonism, and with the Continental metaphysics that it
had inspired. This decisive movement was effected by one in whom German
criticism has recognised the greatest of all British philosophers. David
Hume (1711-1776) was born and bred at Edinburgh, which also seems to have
been through life his favourite residence. But his great work, the
_Treatise on Human Nature_, was written during a stay in France, between
the ages of twenty-three and twenty-six. Thus his precocity was even
greater than Berkeley's. Indeed, such maturity of thought so early reached
is without a parallel in history. But Hume's style had not then acquired
the perfection--the inimitable charm, Kant calls it--of his later writings;
and, whether for this or for other reasons, the book, in his own words,
"fell dead-born from the press." In middle life the office of librarian of
the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh gave him access to the materials for
his _History of England_, which proved a source of fame and profit. A
profound historical scholar, J. S. Brewer, tells us that Hume "possessed in
a pre-eminent degree some of the highest excellences of a historian." Other
historians have treated their subjects philosophically; he furnishes the
sole instance of a great speculative genius who has also produced a
historical masterpiece of the first order. But morally it is a blot on his
fame. It is sad that a philosopher should have deliberately perverted the
truth, that one who has {78} [Illustration: DAVID HUME.] performed
priceless services to freedom of thought should have made himself the
apologist of clericalising absolutism, and, still more, that a master of
English played this part to some extent through hatred of the great English
people engendered by disappointed literary ambition. It may be mentioned,
however, as a possible extenuation that towards the middle of the
eighteenth century the highest English ability had thrown itself, with few
exceptions, on the Tory side. It must be mentioned {79} also that in
private life Hume's character was entirely admirable--cheerful, generous,
and gentle, without a frailty and without a stain. His opinions were
unpopular; but his life offered no handle for obloquy, although his
studious retirement was more than once exchanged for the responsibilities
of political office, and the freedom from pedantry so conspicuous in his
writings bears witness to habits of well-bred social intercourse.

Hume's philosophy is best understood when we consider it as, in the first
place, a criticism of Berkeley, just as Berkeley's had been a criticism of
Locke. It will be remembered that the founder of subjective idealism
discarded the notion of material substance as an "abstract idea," an
unintelligible figment devoid of any sensuous or imaginative content. The
only true substances are the subjects of what we call experience
communicating through sensation with God, the infinite spirit whose eternal
consciousness is reality itself. Hume applied the same tests to spiritual
substance, and found that it equally disappeared under his introspective
analysis. He begins by dividing the contents of consciousness into two
classes, impressions and ideas--the second being copies of the first, and
distinguished from them by their relative faintness. Now, from these
perceptions (which he called thoughts) Descartes had passed by an immediate
inference to the ego or self, which he affirms as the primary fact of
consciousness, using it as a basis for sundry other conclusions. But Hume
stops him at once, and will not grant the existence of the metaphysical
self--that is, a simple and continued substance, as distinguished from
particular states of consciousness. We are, he declares, "nothing but a
bundle of different perceptions, which {80} succeed each other with an
inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement." "There
is properly no _simplicity_ in it [the self] at one time, nor _identity_ in
different [times]; whatever natural propensity we may have to imagine that
simplicity and identity." So much being assumed, Berkeley's whole argument
for a new theology founded on subjective idealism is bound to collapse, as
also is the argument for natural immortality derived from the supposed
simplicity and identity of the thinking substance.

Modern critics have rightly insisted, as against Hume, that isolated
perceptions without a self are abstractions not less unintelligible than a
self without perceptions. But the metaphysical argument for human
immortality has not benefited by this more concrete interpretation of
epistemology; and probably Hume was really more interested in destroying
this than in maintaining the sceptical paradox which does not recur in his
later writings.

A word must be added about Hume's division of perceptions into impressions
and ideas. The point left out of sight in this analysis is that impressions
of sense habitually find their reflexes not in revived sensations, but in
expressions, in motor reactions which, with human beings, mostly take the
form of words uttered or thought. These, no doubt, are associated to some
small extent with revived sensations; but they are more commonly grouped
with other words, with movements of the limbs, and with actions on the
material or human environment of the percipient. Such expressions are
incomparably easier to revive in memory, imagination, or expectation than
the impressions that originally excited them; and, indeed, it is in
connection with them that such revivals of sensation {81} as we actually
experience take place. And it is probable that to this active side of our
consciousness that we may trace those associative processes which Hume
studies next in his analysis of human knowledge.

Putting aside principles of doubtful or secondary value, the relations
between states of consciousness that first offer themselves to view are,
according to Hume, Co-existence and Succession (united under the name of
Contiguity), Resemblance, and Causation. It is with the account he gives of
this last category that his name is inseparably associated, for from it all
subsequent speculation has taken rise. Yet primarily he seems to have had
no other object in view than to simplify the laws of knowledge by resolving
one of them into a particular case of another, and thus reducing his three
categories to two. The relation of cause and effect, he tells us, is no
more than a certain relation between antecedent and consequent in time
where the sequence is so habitual as to establish in our minds a custom of
expecting the one whenever the other occurs. The sequence is not necessary,
for one can think, without any self-contradiction, of a change which has
not been preceded by another change; nor is it, like the truths of
geometry, something that can be known _à priori_. Without experience no one
could tell that bread will nourish a man and not nourish a lion, nor even
predict how a billiard-ball will behave when another ball strikes it.
Should it be objected that the _à priori_ knowledge of a general principle
need not involve an equal knowledge of nature's operations in particular
cases, Hume would doubtless reply by saying that there is no abstract idea
of causation apart from its concrete exemplifications.

It is possible to accept Hume's theory in principle {82} without pledging
oneself to all his incidental contentions. Causation, as a general law, may
be known only by experience, whether we can or cannot think of it as a pure
abstraction. And we may interpret it in terms of unconditional antecedence
and consequence, while discarding his apparent assumption of an inscrutable
connection between the two; a mysterious necessity for the production of
the one by the other, for which it is felt that a reason exists, but for
which our reason cannot account. It is inconceivable that our knowledge of
any given sequence could be increased, except by the disclosure of
intermediate sequences, making their continuity, in space and time, more
absolute than we had before perceived, until the whole process has been
resolved into a transference of momentum from one molecule to another--a
change for which, according to Hume, no reason can be given. Nor, on his
principles, would it help us to explain such transferences by bringing them
under the law of the Conservation of Energy. For, although this would be a
great triumph for science, his philosophy demands a reason why the quantity
of energy should remain unalterable for ever.

It is a mistake, shared by Hume with his opponents, to suppose that the
common sense of mankind ever saw more than invariable sequence in the
relation of cause and effect, or ever interpolated a mysterious power
between them. In the famous verse, "Let there be light, and there was
light," it is the instantaneity of succession, not the interpolation of any
exerted effort, that so impresses the imagination. And when Shakespeare
wants to illustrate logical compulsion in conduct, his reference is to an
instance of invariable succession:-- {83}

  This above all,--to thine own self be true;
  And it must follow, as the night the day,
  Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Indeed, I think it will be found on examination that when we associate the
idea of power, or of necessity, with causal sequences, it is not in
connection with a case of causation here and now, but rather in reference
to similar effects that may be expected from the same cause elsewhere or at
another time. And that "custom," by which Hume seeks to explain our belief
in the "power" of the cause to produce its effect as well as the
"necessity" of the connection between them, rather acts negatively by
eliminating all other antecedents as possible causes than positively by
setting up a habit of thinking about a particular antecedent and consequent
at the same time. And that is why a burnt child needs no repetition of the
experiment to be convinced that contact with fire was the cause of its
pain. The very novelty of the experiment was enough to eliminate any
explanation other than that of contact with the flame.

The child, as it grows older, may learn to speak of the fire as having a
power to burn. But that merely means, "if I touch it, it will burn me--or
light paper if I hold the paper to it." Power, in fact, is incomplete
causation, the presence of every condition but that one which, in
Aristotelian phrase, turns potency into act. And it is in contradistinction
to that idea of possibility that the idea of necessary connection comes in.
When all the elements of the causal antecedent are combined the effect
necessarily supervenes. Furthermore, the causal antecedent is thought of as
necessary in contrast with the contingency of other antecedents whose
connection with the effect is merely accidental. Finally, {84} the idea of
production has been quoted as vitally distinguishing true causation from
invariable sequence. But various myths, of which the story of Oedipus is
the best known, show that primitive folk regard day and night as
alternately producing one another, just as Polonius quotes their sequence
as a type of logical necessity.

Hume professed himself a Deist, but probably with no more seriousness than
when he, or when Gibbon, called Christianity "our religion." At any rate,
his philosophy destroys every argument for the existence of a Creator
advanced in his own or in the preceding century. Nor need his particular
theory of causation be invoked for the purpose. The most telling attack is
on the argument from design. The apparent adaptation of means to ends in
living organisms is quoted as evidence of their having been planned by a
conscious intelligence. But, answers Hume, such an intelligence would
itself exhibit marks of design, and so on for ever. Why not, then, stop at
the animal organism as an ultimate fact? It was Shelley's unlucky demand
for a solution of this difficulty that led to his expulsion from Oxford.

It has been shown how the new analysis of mind cut the ground from under
Berkeley's theism, and from under the metaphysical argument for human
immortality. By denying the substantiality of the ego it also confirmed the
necessitarianism of Spinoza. Hume seemed to think he could abate the
unpopularity of this doctrine by interpreting the constant motivation of
human actions as a mere relation of antecedence and consequence. But the
decisive point was that he assimilated sequences in conscious behaviour to
the unconscious sequences in physical events. Thus, for {85} the vulgar and
the theologians, he remained what would now be called a materialist.


The English philosophy of experience and the Continental philosophy of _à
priori_ spiritualism, after their brief convergence in the metaphysics of
Berkeley, parted company once more, the empirical tradition being
henceforth represented, not only by Hume, but in a more or less
anti-Christian and much more superficial form by Voltaire, Rousseau, and
the French Encyclopædists; while the Leibnizian philosophy was systematised
and taught in Germany by Wolf, and a dull but useful sort of modernised
Aristotelianism was set up under the name of "common sense" by Thomas Reid
(1710-1796) and his school in the Scottish Universities.

The extraordinary genius who was to re-combine the parted currents in a
speculative movement of unexampled volume, velocity, and depth showed
nothing of the precocity that had distinguished Berkeley and Hume. Immanuel
Kant (1724-1804), the son of a saddler of Scottish extraction, was born at
Königsberg in Prussia, where he spent his whole life, holding a chair at
the University from 1770 to 1797. It is related that on the day of his
death a small bright cloud was seen sailing alone across the clear blue
sky, of such a remarkable appearance that a crowd assembled on the bridge
to watch it. One of them, a common soldier, exclaimed, "That is Kant's soul
going to heaven!"--a touching and beautiful tribute to the illustrious
German, whose lofty, pure, and luminous spirit it was uniquely fitted to


[Illustration: KANT.

(_Copyright B. P. C._)

{87} Kant grew up among the Pietists, a school which played much the same
part in Germany that the Methodists and the Evangelicals played in England;
indeed, it was from them that John Wesley received his final inspiration.
The Königsberg student came in time to discard their theology while
retaining the stern Puritan morality with which it was wedded, and even,
Rationalist as he became, some of their mystical religiosity. What drew him
away to philosophy seems to have been first the study of classical
philology and then physical science, especially as presented to him in
Newton's works. And so the young man's first ambition, after settling down
as a University teacher at Königsberg, was to extend the Newtonian method
still further by explaining, on mechanical principles, the origin and
constitution of that celestial system whose movements Newton had reduced to
law, but whose beginning he had left unaccounted for except by--what was
not science--the direct fiat of omnipotence.

Kant offered a brilliant solution of the problem in his _Natural History of
the Heavens_ (1755), a work embodying the celebrated nebular hypothesis
rediscovered forty years later by Laplace. It has been well observed that
great philosophers are mostly, if not always, what at Oxford and Cambridge
would be called "double-firsts"--that is, apart from their philosophy, they
have done first-class work in some special line of investigation, as
Descartes by creating analytical geometry, Spinoza by applying Biblical
criticisms to theology, Leibniz by discovering the differential calculus,
Locke by his theory of constitutional government, Berkeley by his theory of
vision, Hume by his contributions to history and political economy. Kant's
cosmogony may have been premature and mistaken in its details; but his idea
of the heavenly bodies as having originated from the condensation of
diffused gaseous matter still holds its {88} ground; and although the more
general idea of natural evolution as opposed to supernatural creation is
not modern but Greek, to have revived and reapplied it on so great a scale
is a service of extraordinary merit.

The next great event in Kant's intellectual career is his rejection of
Continental apriorism in metaphysics for the empiricism of the English
school, especially as regards the idea of causation. For a few years
(1762-1765) Kant accepts Hume's theory that there is nothing in any
succession of events or in change generally to prove on grounds of pure
reason that there must be more in it than a customary sequence. To believe
that anything may happen without a cause does not involve a logical
contradiction; and at that time he believed nothing to be known _à priori_
except that the denial of which involves such a contradiction. But on
reconsidering the basis of mathematical truth it seemed to him to be
something other than the logical laws of Identity and Contradiction. When
we say that seven and five are twelve we put something into the predicate
that was not affirmed in the subject, and also when we say that a straight
line is the shortest distance between two points. Yet the second
proposition is as certain as the first, and both are certain in the highest
degree, more certain than anything learned from experience, and needing no
experience to confirm them.

So much being admitted, we have to recognise a fundamental division of
judgments into two classes, analytic and synthetic. Judgments in which the
predicate adds nothing to the subject are analytic. When we affirm all
matter to be extended, that is an instance of the former, for here we are
only making more explicit what was already contained in the notion of
matter. On the other hand, when we affirm that all matter is heavy, that is
an {89} instance of the latter or synthetic class, for we can think of
matter without thinking that it has weight. Furthermore, this is not only a
synthetic judgment, but it is a synthetic judgment _à posteriori_; for the
law of universal gravitation is known only by experience. But there are
also synthetic judgments _à priori_; for, as we have just seen, the
fundamental truths of arithmetic and geometry belong to this class, as do
also by consequence all the propositions logically deduced from these--that
is to say, the whole of mathematical science.

Up to this point Kant would have carried the whole Cartesian school, and,
more generally, all the modern Platonists, along with him; while he would
have given the English empiricists and their French disciples a rather hard
nut to crack. For they would have had to choose between admitting that
mathematics was a mass of identical propositions or explaining, in the face
of Hume's criticism, what claims to absolute certainty its truths, any more
than the Law of Causation, possess. Now, the great philosophical genius of
Kant is shown by nothing more than by this, that he did not stop here.
Recognising to the same extent as Locke and Hume that all knowledge comes
from experience--at any rate, in the sense of not coming by supernatural
communication, as Malebranche and Berkeley thought--he puts the famous
question, How are synthetic judgments _à priori_ possible? Or, as it might
be paradoxically expressed, How come we to know with the most certainty the
things that we have not been taught by experience? The answer is, that we
know them by the most intimate experience of all--the underlying
consciousness that we have made them what they are. Our minds are no mere
passive recipients, in which a mass of sensations, poured in from some
external {90} source, are then arranged after an order equally originated
from without; there is a principle of spontaneity in our own subjectivity
by which the objective order of nature is created. What Kant calls the
Matter of knowledge is given from without, the Form from within. And this
process begins with the imposition of the two great fundamental Forms,
Space and Time, on the raw material of sensation by our minds.

By space and time Kant does not mean the abstract ideas of coexistence and
succession; nor does he call them, as some critics used incorrectly to
suppose, forms of thought, but forms of intuition. We do not build them up
with the help of muscular or other feelings, but are conscious of them in a
way not admitting of any further analysis. The parts of space, no doubt,
are coexistent, but they are also connected and continuous; more than this,
positions in space do not admit of mutual substitution; the right hand and
left hand glove are perfectly symmetrical, but the one cannot be
superimposed on the other. Besides, all particular spaces are contained in
universal space, not as particular conceptions are contained in a general
conception, but as parts of that which extends to infinity, and where each
has an individual place of its own, repeating all the characters of space
in general except its illimitable extension. And the same is true of time,
with this further distinction from abstract succession, that succession may
be reversed; whereas the order of past, present, and future is irreversibly

The contemporary school of Reid in Scotland, and the subsequent Eclectic
school of Victor Cousin in France, would agree with Kant in maintaining
that sensuous experience will not account for our knowledge of space and
time. But they would protest, in the name {91} of common sense, against the
reduction of these apparently fundamental elements to purely subjective
forms. They would ask, with the German critic Trendelenburg, Why cannot
space and time be known intuitively and yet really exist? Kant furnishes no
direct answer to the question, but he has suggested one in another
connection. Mathematical truth is concerned with spatial and temporal
relations, and for that truth to be above suspicion and exception we must
assume that the objects with which it deals are wholly within our
grasp--that our knowledge of them is exhaustive. But there could be no such
assurance on the supposition that, besides the space and time of our
sensuous experience, another space and time existed independently of our
consciousness as attributes of things in themselves--possibly differing in
important respects from ours--as, for example, a finite, or a
non-continuous, or a four-dimensional space, and a time with a circular
instead of a progressive movement.

This easy assumption that reality accommodates itself to our intellectual
convenience, instead of our being obliged to accommodate our theories of
knowledge to reality, runs through and vitiates the whole of Kant's
philosophy. But, taking the narrower ground of logical consistency, one
hardly sees how his principles can hold together. We are told that the
subjectivity of space and time is not presented as a plausible hypothesis,
but as a certain and indubitable truth, for in no other way can
mathematical certainty be explained. The claim is questionable, but let it
be granted. Immediately a fresh difficulty starts up. What is the source of
our certainty that space and time are subjective forms of intuition? If the
answer is, because that assumption guarantees the certainty of mathematics,
then Kant is {92} reasoning in a circle. If he appeals--as in consistency
he ought--to another order of subjectivity as the sanction of his first
transcendental argument, such reasoning involves the regress to infinity.

Again, on Kant's theory, time is the form of intuition for the inner sense.
So when we become conscious of mental events we know them only as
phenomena; we remain ignorant of what mind is in itself. But before the
publication in 1770 of Kant's inaugural dissertation on _The Sensible and
the Intelligible World_ every one, plain men and philosophers alike,
believed that the consciousness of our successive thoughts and feelings was
the very type of reality itself; and they held this belief with a higher
degree of assurance than that given to the axioms of geometry. By what
right, then, are we asked to give up the greater for the less, to surrender
our self-assurance as a ransom for Euclid's _Elements_ or even for Newton's

Once more, surely mathematics is concerned not with space and time as such,
but with their artificial delimitations as points, lines, figures, numbers,
moments, etc. And it may be granted that these are purely subjective in the
sense of being imposed by our imagination (with the aid of sensible signs)
on the external world. What if _this_ subjectivity were the true source of
that peculiar certainty belonging to synthetic judgments _à priori_? True,
Kant counts in our judgments about the infinity and eternity of space and
time with other accepted characteristics of theirs as intuitive
certainties. But there are thinkers who find the negation of such
properties not inconceivable, so that they cannot be adduced as evidence of
a priority, still less of subjectivity.

Eleven years after the inaugural dissertation Kant {93} published his most
important contribution to philosophy, _The Critique of Pure Reason_ (1781).
Pure Reason means the faculty by which ideas are obtained independently of
all experience, and the critic's object is to ascertain how far such ideas
are valid. As a preliminary to that inquiry the question is also mooted,
How is experience possible? It is answered by a critique of the
understanding or faculty of conception; and as conception implies
perception, this again is prefaced by a section in which Kant's theory of
space and time is repeated and reinforced.

It will be remembered that what started the whole of the new criticism was
Hume's sceptical analysis of Causation; and the central interest of _The
Critique of Pure Reason_ lies in the effort to reconstitute the causal law
in the light of the new theory of knowledge; but so enormous is the mass of
technicalities piled up for this purpose as largely to conceal it from
view, and, on its disclosure, to give the idea of a gigantic machine set in
motion to crack a nut. And the nut after all is _not_ cracked; the shell
slips from between the grappling surfaces long before they meet.

We have seen how Kant interpreted every judgment as a synthesis of subject
and predicate. Now, whether the synthesis be _à priori_ or _à posteriori_,
a study of the forms of judgment as enumerated in the common logic shows
that there are four, and only four, ways in which it can be effected. All
judgments fall under the following classes: Quantity, Quality, Relation,
and Modality--terms whose meaning will be presently explained. And each of
these again is tripartite. We may say (i.) that one A is B, or that some
A's are B, or that all A's are B; (ii.) that A is B, that A is not B, that
not all A's are B; (iii.) that A is B, that A {94} is B if C is D, that A
is either B, C, or D; or (iv.) that A may be B, that A is B, or that A must
be B. The reason why there are four and only four classes is that judgment
has to do with the subject in reference to the predicate, which gives
Quantity; with the predicate in reference to the subject, which gives
Quality; with the connection between the two, which gives Relation; and
with the synthesis between them in reference to our knowledge of it, which
gives Modality.

Now, according to Kant, that there should be so many kinds of judgment and
no more implies that our understanding contributes a formal element to the
constitution of all knowledge, consisting of four combining principles,
without which experience would be impossible. He calls these Categories,
and they are enumerated in the following table:--

    (i.) Quantity.

    Unity, Plurality, Totality.

    (ii.) Quality.

    Reality, Negation, Limitation.

    (iii.) Relation.

    Substance and Accident; Cause and Effect; Action and Reaction

    (iv.) Modality.

    Possibility and Impossibility; Existence and Non-Existence; Necessity
    and Contingency.

A study of the Categories suggests some rather obvious criticisms on the
Critical Philosophy itself. (i.) The first two terms in each triad
evidently form an antithetical couple, of which the third term is the
synthesis. Here we have the first germ of a disease by which the systems of
Kant's successors were much more seriously infected. In the table it is
shown by {95} the intrusion of Limitation, a wholly superfluous adjunct to
Reality and Negation; in the conversion of Reciprocity into a wholly
fictitious synthesis of Substantiality with Causation; and in the complete
absurdity of making Necessity a combination of Possibility with Existence.
(ii.) Innate ideas, after they had been exploded by Locke, are reintroduced
into philosophy by a sufficiently transparent piece of legerdemain. For
assuming that the human intelligence possesses a power of organising and
drilling the sensuous appearances which without its control would appear
only as a disorderly mob, it by no means follows that they must thereby be
referred to an extraphenomenal principle. But such a principle is plainly
implied by the category of Substance. Used in a scholastic sense, it does
not mean the sensuous attributes of a thing taken altogether, but something
that underlies and supports them. And Kant himself seems to take his
category in that significance. For he claims to deduce from it the law of
the indestructibility of matter; as if I could not say snow is white
without committing myself to the assertion that the ultimate particles of
snow have existed and will exist for ever. (iii.) The substitution of
Causation for logical sequence, as implicated in the hypothetical judgment
of Relation, is perfectly scandalous; and still more scandalous is
substitution of Reciprocity or Action and Reaction for Disjunction. The
last points require to be examined a little more in detail.

The sequence of an effect to its cause has only a verbal resemblance to the
sequence of a logical consequent to its reason. We declare categorically
that every change has a cause which precedes it. Logical sequence is, on
the other hand, as the very name of the {96} judgment shows, hypothetical,
and may possibly not represent any actual occurrence, besides being, what
causation is not, independent of time. A particular case of causation may
be hypothetical in respect to our belief that it actually occurred; never
the law of causation itself as a general truth. And the same distinction
applies with even greater force to the alleged connection between a logical
disjunction and a physical reaction. When I say A is either B or C, but not
both, there is only this much resemblance, that both cases involve the
ideas of equality and of opposition. From the admission that A is not B, I
infer that it is C, or, contrariwise, from the admission that it is B, I
infer that it is not C, and in both instances with the same certainty; but
this does not prove that the earth attracts the moon as much as the moon
attracts the earth, only in opposite directions; nor yet that in certain
instances all the heat lost by one body is gained by another.

Kant had learned this much from Hume, that causation is essentially a
relation of antecedence and consequence in time; and apparently his way of
"categorising" the relation--_i.e._, of proving its apriority--is to
represent it as the logical form of reason and consequent masquerading, so
to speak, under the intuitional time-form. Yet he frequently speaks of our
senses as being affected by things in themselves, implying that the
resulting sensations are somehow caused by those otherwise unknown
entities. But since things in themselves do not, according to Kant, exist
in space and time, they cannot be causally related to phenomena or to
anything else.

In his criticism of Pure Reason, properly so called--that is, of inferences
made by human faculty with {97} regard to questions transcending all
experience--Kant shows that of such things nothing can be known. The
ideality of time and space once taken as proved, this amount of agnosticism
seems to follow as a matter of course. It is idle to speculate about the
possible extent or duration of a universe that cannot be described in terms
of coexistence and succession. For each of us at the dissolution of our
bodily organism time itself, and therefore existence as alone we conceive
it, comes to an end. The law of causation, applying as it does to phenomena
alone, offers no evidence for the existence of a God who transcends
phenomena. Kant, however, is not satisfied with such a simple and summary
procedure as this. He tries to show, with most unnecessary pedantry, that
the conditional synthesis of the Understanding inevitably leads thought on
to the unconditional synthesis of the Reason only to find itself lost in a
hopeless welter of paralogisms and self-contradictions.

At this stage we are handed over to the guidance of what Kant calls the
Practical Reason. This faculty gives a synthesis for conduct, as Pure
Reason gave a synthesis for intelligence. All reason demands uniformity,
order, law; only what in theory is recognised as true has in practice to be
imposed as right. In this way Kant arrives at his formula of absolute
morality: Act so that the principle of thy conduct may be the law for all
rational beings. He calls this the Categorical Imperative, as distinguished
from such hypothetical imperatives as: Act this way if you wish to be happy
either here or hereafter; or, act as public opinion tells you. Moreover,
the motive, as distinguished from the end of moral action, should not be
calculating self-interest nor uncalculating impulse, but simply desire to
fulfil the law as such. Previous moralists had set up {98} the greatest
happiness of the greatest number as the end of action, and such an aim does
not lie far from Kant's philosophy; but they could think of no better
motive for pursuing it than self-love or a rather undefined social
instinct; and their _summum bonum_ would take the happiness of irrational
animals into account, while Kant absolutely subordinates the interests of
these to human good. A further coincidence between the Utilitarian and the
Kantian ethics is that in the latter also the happiness of others, not
their perfection, should be the end and aim of each. Finally, the
philosophy of Pure Reason adopts from contemporary French thought as the
governing idea of political organisation what was long to be a principle of
English Utilitarianism--"the liberty of each, bounded only by the equal
liberty of all."

Nevertheless, the old postulate of a necessary connection between virtue
and individual happiness reappears in Kant's ethical theory, and leads to
the construction of a new religious philosophy. His critique had left no
place for the old theology, nor yet for that doctrine of free-will so dear
to most theologians. Its whole object had been to vindicate against Hume
the necessity and universality of causation. Human actions then must, like
all other phenomena, form an unbroken chain of antecedents and consequents.
Nor does Kant conceal his conviction that, with sufficient knowledge and
powers of calculation, a man's whole future conduct might be foretold.
Nevertheless, under the eighteenth-century idea of man as naturally the
creature of passion or self-interest, he claims for us, as moral agents,
the power of choosing to obey duty in preference to either. And this
freedom is supposed to be made conceivable by the subjectivity of time and
causation, outside of which, {99} as a thing in itself, stands the moral
will. That morality, whether as action or mere intention, involves
succession in time is utterly ignored. Nor is this all. Assuming without
warrant that the moral law demands an ultimate coincidence between
happiness and virtue, made impossible in this life by human weakness, Kant
argues that there must be an unending future life to secure time enough for
working out a problem whose solution is infinitely remote. And, finally,
there must be an omnipotent moral God to provide facilities for undertaking
that somewhat gratuitous Psyche's task. Before Kant moral theology had
argued that the Judge of all the world must do right, apportioning
happiness to desert. It was reserved for him to argue, conversely, that for
right to be done such a Judge must exist, and that therefore he does exist.

In appreciating the services of Kant to philosophy we must guard ourselves
against being influenced by the extravagant panegyrics of his countrymen,
whose passion for square circles he so generously gratifies. Still, after
every deduction for mere Laputian pedantry has been made, the balance of
fruitful suggestion remains vast. (i.) The antithesis of object and
subject, although not counted among the categories of his _Critique_, has
remained a prime category of thought ever since. (ii.) The idea of a
necessary limit to human knowledge, given by the very theory of that
knowledge, as distinguished from the Scepticism of the Greeks--in other
words, what we now call Agnosticism--may not be final, but it still remains
to be dealt with. (iii.) The possibility of reducing _à priori_ knowledge
to a form of unconscious experience has put an end to dogmatic metaphysics.
(iv.) The problems of Time and Space have taken a central place in
speculation; it has been {100} shown--what Hume did not see--that Causation
has the certainty of a mathematical axiom; and it has been made highly
probable that all these difficulties may find their solution in a larger
interpretation of experience. (v.) Morality has been definitely dissociated
from the appeal to selfish interests, whether in this life or in another.

We have now to trace, within the limits prescribed by the nature of this
work, the development of philosophy under Kant's German successors.

       *       *       *       *       *





The Critical Philosophy won its first success in Germany less as a new
epistemology than as what, in fact, its author meant it to be, a
rehabilitation of religious belief. The limits of Reason had been drawn so
closely only to make room for Faith. But the current of Rationalism was
running too strongly to be so summarily stopped; and so with Kant's ablest
successors faith is altogether abandoned, while the claims of reason are
pushed relentlessly through. Among these more logical thinkers the first is
J. G. Fichte (1762-1814). In him--for the third time in modern history, for
the first and last time in Germany--the hero as philosopher finds a worthy
representative. Born in Silesia, like Kant of humble parentage, and bred in
circumstances of more oppressive poverty, he also received a severely
religious and moral training as a preparation for the pastoral office. The
bounty of an aristocratic patron gave him an excellent public-school
education; but as a university student, first at Jena and then at Leipzig,
he had to earn a scanty living by private tuition, finally abandoning his
destined career to accept a post in a Swiss family at Zurich. There, as the
result of an attachment in which the love was nearly all on the lady's
side, he became engaged to a niece of the poet Klopstock, and after a long
delay, caused by money {102} difficulties, was enabled to marry her. In the
meantime he had become a convert to Kant's philosophy, winning the
admiration of the old master himself by a _Critique of all Revelation_,
written in four weeks. Published anonymously by an oversight, it was
generally attributed to Kant himself, and, on the real authorship becoming
known, won for Fichte an extraordinary Professorate of Philosophy at Jena,
where his success as a lecturer and writer gave him for a time the
leadership in German speculation (1794-1799). An untoward incident brought
this stage of his career to an end. Writing in a philosophical review, he
defined God as "the moral order of the universe." Dr. Temple long
afterwards used much the same phrase when Bishop of Exeter, finding it,
presumably, compatible with official Theism; but such was not the
impression created in Saxony. A cry of atheism arose, much to the disgust
of Fichte, whose position would have been better described as pantheistic.
But what incensed him most was the suspicion of an attempt to interfere
with the liberty of academic teaching. With his usual impetuosity he talked
about resigning his chair--with a hint that others would follow his
example--were the authorities at Weimar to permit such an outrage. Goethe,
who was then Minister, observed that no Government could allow itself to be
threatened, and Fichte was at once relieved of his post. Settling at
Berlin, he became Professor of Philosophy in the new University founded
after the French conquest of Prussia, having previously done much to revive
the national spirit by his _Addresses to the German Nation_ (1807-1808).
These were in appearance the programme of a new educational Utopia; but
their real purpose was so evident that the speaker lived in daily
expectation of being summoned {103} before a French court-martial and shot.
Unlike his countrymen, Goethe, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, Fichte passionately
resented the Napoleonic despotism, throwing himself heart and soul into the
great uprising by which it was finally overthrown. Although his wish to
accompany the victorious army as field preacher could not be gratified, the
campaign of 1813 still claimed him as one of its victims. After nursing his
heroic wife to recovery from a hospital fever caught in attendance on the
sick and wounded at Berlin, he took the infection from her and died early
in 1814, soon after hearing that Blücher had crossed the Rhine.

G. H. Lewes, in a well-known story, has made himself and his readers merry
over a German savant who undertakes to evolve the idea of a camel out of
the depths of his moral consciousness. The phrase is commonly quoted as
"inner consciousness," but this takes away its whole point. For the
original satirist, who, I think, was not Lewes, but Heine, had in view the
philosophy of Fichte. It need hardly be said that German savants are as
careful observers and diligent collectors of facts as any others; and
Fichte in particular trusted solely to experience for the knowledge of
natural phenomena. But even as regards his general philosophy the place it
gives to morality has been misconceived even by his closest students. With
him goodwill really plays a less important part than with Kant, being not
an end in itself, but a means towards an end. And what that end is his
teaching makes quite clear.

Kant's first critics put their finger on the weak point of his system, the
thing in itself. So, assuming it to be discarded, Fichte set to work on new
lines, the lines of pure idealism. But, though an idealist, he is not, any
more than Berkeley, a solipsist. The celebrated {104} antithesis of the ego
and the non-ego dates from him, and strikes the keynote of his whole
system. It might be thought that, as compared with the old realism, this
was a distinction without a difference. But that is not so; for, according
to Fichte, the non-ego is subjective in its origin, and that is where he
departs widely from Berkeley's theological idealism. Not that I create the
not-myself; I _assume_ it as the condition of my self-consciousness--a
remarkable feat of logic, but after all not more wonderful than that space
and time should result from the activity of the outer and inner senses.
This figment of my imagination is anyhow solid enough to beget a new
feeling of resistance and recoil, throwing the self back on itself, and
bringing with it the interpretation of that external impact by the category
of causation, of its own activity as substance, and of the whole deal
between the ego and the non-ego as interaction or reciprocity. In this way
the first triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis is obtained; and from
this, by a vast expenditure of ingenuity, the whole array of Kant's forms,
categories, and faculties is evolved as a coherent system of scientific
thought in obedience to a single principle--the self-realisation of the
ego, alternatively admitting and transcending a limit to its activity.

It will be easily understood that this self-realising ego is neither
Fichte's nor anyone else's self, but a universal principle, fundamentally
the same in all. One is reminded of Descartes's self-thinking thought by
which the reality of the universe was guaranteed; but between the two there
is this vast difference, that the Frenchman's ego resembles a box
containing a variety of independent ideas, to be separately handled and
examined; the German's is a box enclosing a coiled-up spring by {105} the
expansion of which all the wheels of the philosophical machine are made go
round. From the action of the not-self on the self results the whole of
nature as we conceive it; from the reaction of the self on the not-self,
the whole mentality and morality of man--morality being understood to
include the domestic, social, political, educational, and industrial
organisation of life. The final cause, the impelling ideal of existence, is
the self-realisation of the ego, the entire absorption into its personal
energy of the non-ego, of nature, to be effected by perfect knowledge of
how the physical universe is constituted issuing in perfect subjugation of
its forces to the human will. But such a realisation of the Absolute Ego
would mean its annihilation, for, as we have seen, the antithesis between
objective and subjective is the very condition of consciousness that
without which it could neither begin nor continue to exist. Therefore the
process must go on for ever, and this necessity guarantees the eternal
duration of the human race--not, as Kant had dreamed, of the individual
soul, since for Fichte the Categorical Imperative demands a consummation
widely different from that combination of virtue with happiness which had
satisfied his master. And the agency by which it is being effected through
infinite time is not a personal God, but that moral order of the world
which Fichte regarded as the only true object of religious feeling. As for
human immortality, he seems to have first accepted, but afterwards rejected
it in favour of a mystical union with the divine.

It has been said that morality was not with Fichte what it had been with
Kant--the highest good. Nevertheless, as a means towards the final
synthesis, morality interested him intensely, and his best work has been
{106} done in ethics. As a condition of self-realisation the primal ego
becomes personified in a multitude of free individualities. Just as in
Stoicism, each individual is conceived as having a special office to
perform in the world-process, and the State exists--ideally speaking--in
order to guarantee the necessary independence of all its citizens. For this
purpose everyone must have the right to work and the right to a living
wage. Thus Fichte appears as the first theorist of State Socialism in the
history of German thought. Probably the example of the Greek Stoics with
their communistic utopias acting on a kindred spirit, rather than any
prophetic vision of the coming century, is to be credited for this
remarkable anticipation.


German philosophy is prolific of self-contradictions; and so far the most
flagrant example has been offered by Fichte's _Theory of Knowledge_,
starting as it does with the idea of an impersonal ego, developing through
a process in which this selfless self demands its own negation at every
step, and determined by the prospect of a catastrophe that would be the
annihilation of consciousness itself. In fact, there seemed no need to wait
until time had run out; the self, or, as it was now called, the subject,
had absorbed all reality, only to find that the material universe,
reconstituted as the object of knowledge, was an indispensable condition of
its existence. And meanwhile the physical sciences, more particularly those
concerned with inorganic nature, were entering on a series of triumphs
unparalleled since the days of Newton. Philosophy must come to terms with
these or cease to exist.

The task of reconciliation was first attempted by {107} F. W. J. Schelling
(1775-1854), a Suabian, and the first South German who made a name in pure
philosophy. Educated at the University of Tübingen, at an early age he
covered an encyclopædic range of studies and began authorship at nineteen,
gaining a professorship at Jena four years later. Wandering about from one
university to another, and putting forward new opinions as often as he
changed his residence, the young adventurer ceased to publish after 1813,
and remained silent till in 1841 he came forward at Berlin as the champion
of a reactionary current, practically renouncing the naturalistic pantheism
by which his early reputation had been made. But he utterly failed in the
attempt, which was finally abandoned in the fifth year from its inception.
Lewes, who saw Schelling in his old age, describes him as remarkably like
Socrates; his admirers called him a modern Plato; but he had nothing of the
deep moral earnestness that characterised either, nor indeed was morality
needed for the work that he actually did. This, to use the phrase of his
fellow-student Hegel, consisted in raising philosophy to its absolute
standpoint, in passing from the subjective moralism of the eighteenth
century to the all-comprehensive systematisation of the nineteenth.

Schelling began as a disciple of Fichte, but he came simultaneously under
the influence of Spinoza, whose fame had been incessantly spreading through
the last generation in Germany, with some reinforcement from the revived
name of Bruno. Their teaching served to make the latent pantheism of Fichte
more explicit, while the great contemporary discoveries gave a new interest
to the study of nature, which Fichte, unlike Kant, had put in the
background, strictly subordinating it to the moral service of man. Had he
cared to evolve {108} the idea of a camel from his moral consciousness, the
operation would not have demanded several years, but only a few minutes'
thought. As thus: the moral development of humanity needed the co-operation
of such a race as the Semites. To form their character a long residence in
the Arabian deserts was needed. But for such nomads an auxiliary animal
would be needed with long legs and neck, a stomach for storing water, hump,
etc.--Q. E. D. Schelling also began by explaining the material world as a
preparation for the spiritual; only he did not employ the method of
teleological adaptation, but a method of rather fanciful analogy. As the
evolution of self-conscious reason had proceeded by a triple movement of
thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, so a parallel process had to be
discovered in the advance towards a consciousness supposed to be exhibited
in organic and inorganic nature.

The fundamental idea of natural philosophy is polarity--opposite forces
combining to neutralise one another and then parting to be reunited at a
higher stage of evolution. Thus attraction and repulsion--represented as
space and time--by their synthesis compose matter; magnetism and
electricity produce chemical affinity; life results from a triad of
inorganic forces; in life itself productivity and irritability give birth
to sensibility. The order of the terms made little, if any, difference.
When long afterwards iron was magnetised by the electric current, Schelling
claimed for himself the credit of anticipating this discovery, although he
had placed magnetism before electricity.

The next step was to construct a philosophy of history. This, with much
else, is included under the name of _A System of Transcendental Idealism_
(1800) in the most finished of Schelling's literary compositions. {109}
History, according to the view here unfolded, is the gradual
self-revelation of God, or the Absolute, in whom Nature and Spirit are
united and identified, who never is nor can be, but always is to be.
Meanwhile the supreme ideal is not that ever-increasing mastery of nature
by man which Fichte contemplated, but their reconciliation as achieved by
Art. For just as natural philosophy carried an element of consciousness
into the material universe, so æstheticism recognises a corresponding
element of unconscious creation in the supreme works of artistic genius
where spirit reaches its highest and best. Here Schelling appears as the
philosopher of Romanticism, a movement that characterised German thought
from 1795 to 1805, and is known to ourselves by the faded and feeble image
of it exhibited in a certain section of English society nearly a century
later. Beginning with a more cultivated intelligence of Hellenic antiquity,
this movement rapidly grew into a new appreciation of medieval culture,
falsely supposed to have given more scope to individuality than modern
civilisation, and then into a search for ever-varying sources of excitement
or distraction in the whole history, art, and literature of past or present
times, religion being at last singled out as the vitalising principle of

Singularly enough, Fichte accepted the _Transcendental Idealism_ as an
orthodox exposition of his own philosophy. But its composition seems to
have given Schelling the consciousness of his own independence. Soon
afterwards he defined the new position as a philosophy of Identity or of
Indifference. Nature and Spirit, like Spinoza's Thought and Extension, were
all the same and all one--that is to say, in their totality or in the
Absolute. For, considered as appearances, {110} they might present
quantitative differences determined by the varying preponderance of the
objective or of the subjective side. In this way Schelling found himself
able to repeat his fanciful construction of the forces and forms of nature
in successive triads under new names. The essential departure from Fichte,
who repudiated the Philosophy of Identity with undisguised contempt, was
that it practically repudiated the idea of an eternal progress in man's
ever-growing mastery of nature. But, in spite of all disclaimers, the
master silently followed his former disciple's evolution in the direction
of a pantheistic monism. His later writings represent God no longer as the
moral order of the world, but, like Spinoza, as the world's eternal Being,
of which man's knowledge is the reflected image. Finally, both philosophers
accepted the Christian doctrines of the Fall, the Incarnation, and the
Trinity as mythical symbols of an eternal process in which God, after
becoming alienated from himself in the material universe, returns to
himself in man's consciousness of identity with the Absolute. Instead of
the rather abrupt method of position, negation, and re-affirmation known as
Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis, we have here the more fluid process of a
spiral movement, departing from and returning to itself. And this was to be
the very mainspring of the system that next comes up for consideration.



[Illustration: Hegel

(_Copyright B. P. C._)]

{112} G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), in the opinion of some good judges
Germany's greatest philosopher, was, like Schelling, a Suabian, and
intimately associated with his younger contemporary, first at Tübingen and
afterwards at Jena, where the two friends jointly conducted a philosophical
review. But they gradually drifted apart. Hegel was not a romanticist, but
a classic; not a naturalist, but a humanist. Largely influenced by Greek
thought and Greek literature, for which he continued to be an enthusiast
through life, he readily accepted, as against Kant and Fichte, the change
from a purely subjective to an objective point of view. But, although he
gave some attention to physical science, Hegel was less interested in it
than his colleague, with whose crude and fanciful metaphysics he also
failed to sympathise. With the publication of Hegel's first important work,
the _Phenomenology of Mind_ (1807), things came to a breach; for its
preface amounts to a declaration of war against the philosophy of
Romanticism. Schelling himself is not named; but there is no mistaking the
object of certain picturesque references to "exploding the Absolute on us,"
and "the darkness in which every cow is black." Next year Hegel became what
we should call headmaster of a public school at Nuremberg, filling that
post for eight years, during which his greatest work, the _System of
Logic_, in three volumes, was composed and published. He then obtained a
chair of philosophy at Heidelberg, passing thence to Berlin in 1818, where
he taught until his death by cholera in 1831. David Strauss, who saw the
revered teacher a few days before the fatal seizure, describes him first as
he appeared in the lecture-room, "looking ever so old, bent and coughing";
then in his home, "looking ten years younger, with clear blue eyes, and
showing the most beautiful white teeth when he smiled." He had published a
summary of his whole system, under the name of an _Encyclopædia of the
Philosophical Sciences_, in 1817, and a _Philosophy of Law_--which is
really a treatise on Government--in 1821. His {113} sympathies were with
bureaucratic absolutism in a modernised form, with Napoleon against the
German patriots, with the restored Prussian Government against the new
Liberalism, with English Toryism against the Whigs of the Reform Bill, and
finally with the admirers of war against the friends of peace.

Hegel's collected works, published after his death, fill over twenty
good-sized volumes. Besides the treatises already mentioned, they include
his _Lectures on the History of Philosophy_, the _Philosophy of History_,
the _Philosophy of Religion_, _Æsthetics_, etc., made up with much literary
skill from the Professor's own notes and from the reports of his hearers.
The most permanently valuable of these is the _Æsthetics_; but any student
desirous of getting a notion of Hegelianism at first hand had better begin
with the _Philosophy of History_, of which there is a good and cheap
English translation in one of Bohn's Libraries. Some general points of view
serving to connect the system with its predecessors are all that room can
be found for here.

As compared with Kant, Hegel is distinguished above all by his complete
abjuration of the agnostic standpoint in epistemology. "The universe is
penetrable to thought": an unknowable thing in itself does not exist.
Indeed, the intelligible reality of things is just what we know best; the
unaccountable residuum, if any, lurks in the details of their appearance.
So also in Greek philosophy Hegel holds that the truth was not in the ideal
world of Plato, but in the self-realising Forms of Aristotle. As against
Fichte, Hegel will not allow that the reconciliation of the subjective with
the objective is an infinitely "far-off divine event"; on the contrary, it
is a process being continually realised by ourselves and all about us. In
his homely expression, the very {114} animals as they eat turn their food
into consciousness, in utter disregard of prejudice. But Fichte's
condemnation of Schelling's Indifferentism is quite right. _The Absolute is
Mind_. Nature exists only as the lower stage, whence Spirit emerges to
contradict, to confront, and to explain her as the necessary preparation
for his supreme self-assertion. And Fichte was right in working out his
system by the dialectical method of contradiction and solution, as against
the dogmatism that summarily decrees the Absolute, without taking the
trouble to reason it out, in imitation of the plan pursued by the universe
in becoming conscious of itself.

The most portentous thing about Hegel's philosophy is this notion of the
world's having, so to speak, argued itself into existence. To rationalise
the sum of being, to explain, without assumptions, why there should be
anything, and then why it should be as we know it, had been a problem
suggested by Plato and solved rather summarily by Spinoza's challenge to
conceive Infinite Power as non-existing. Hegel is more patient and
ingenious; but, after all, his superiority merely consists in spinning the
web of arbitrary dialectic so fine that we can hardly see the thread. The
root-idea is to identify, or rather to confuse, causal evolution with
logic. The chain of causes and effects that constitutes the universe is
made out to be one with the series of reasons and consequents by which the
conclusion is demonstrated. As usual, the equation is effected by a
transference of terms from each side to the other. The categories and
processes of logic are credited with a life and movement that belongs only
to the human reasoner operating with them. And the moving, interacting
masses of which the material universe consists are represented as parties
to a dialectical {115} discussion in which one denies what the other
asserts until it is discovered, on lifting the argument to a higher plane,
that after all they are agreed. Nor is this all. The world as we know it is
composed of co-existent elements grouped together or distinguished
according to their resemblances and differences as so many natural kinds;
and of successive events linked together as causes and effects. But while
there is no general law of coexistence except such as may be derived from
the collocation of the previously existing elements whence they are
derived, there _is_ a law of causal succession--namely, this, that the
quantities of mass and energy involved are conserved without loss or gain
through all time. Now, Hegel's way of rationalising or, in plainer words,
accounting for the coexistent elements and their qualities, is to bring
them under a supposed law of complementary opposition, revived from
Heracleitus, according to which everything necessarily involves the
existence, both in thought and reality, of its contradictory. And the same
principle is applied to causal succession--a proceeding which would be
fatal to the scientific law of conservation.

There is another way of rationalising experience--namely, the theological
hypothesis of a supreme intelligence by which the world was created and is
governed with a view to the attainment of some ultimate good. And there is
a sort of teleology in Hegel evidently inspired by his religious education.
But the two do not mean the same thing. For he places conscious reason not
at the beginning but at the end of evolution. The rationality of things is
immanent, not transcendent. Purposes somehow work retrospectively so as to
determine the course of events towards a good end. That end is
self-consciousness--not yours or mine, but the {116} world-spirit's
consciousness and possession of itself. And this is reached in four ways:
in Art by intuition, in Religion by representation, in Philosophy by
conception, in History and Politics by the realisation of righteousness
through the agency of the modern State.

Hegel looked on this world and this life of ours as the only world and the
only life. When Heine pointed to the starry skies he told the young poet
that the stars were a brilliant leprosy on the face of the heavens, and met
the appeal for future compensation with the sarcastic observation: "So you
expect a trinkgeld for nursing your sick mother and for not poisoning your

German historians have justly extolled the ingenuity, the subtlety, the
originality, the systematising power--unequalled since Aristotle--and the
enormous knowledge of their country's chief idealist. But this, after all,
amounts to no more than claiming for Hegel that much of what he said is
true and that much is new. The vital question is whether what is new is
also true--and this is more than they seem prepared to maintain.


The leaders of the party known in the fourth and fifth decades of the last
century as Young Germany, among whom Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) was the
most brilliant and famous, were more or less associated with the Hegelian
school. They were, however, what Hegel was not, political revolutionists
with a tendency to Socialism; while their religious rationalism, unlike
his, was openly proclaimed. The temporary collapse in 1849 of the movement
they initiated brought discredit on idealism as represented by Germany's
classic philosophers, which also had been seriously damaged by the luminous
criticism of Trendelenburg, the neo-Aristotelian professor at Berlin


[Illustration: SCHOPENHAUER]

{118} At this crisis attention was drawn to the long-neglected writings of
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), which then attained a vogue that they
never since have lost. The son of a Hamburg banker and of a literary lady
whose novels enjoyed some reputation in their day, he was placed from the
beginning in a position of greater material and social independence than
usually falls to the lot of German thinkers; and to this, combined with the
fact that he failed entirely as a university teacher, it is partly due that
he wrote about philosophy not like a pedant, but like a man of the world.
At the same time the German professors, resenting the intrusion of an
outsider on their privileged domain, were strong enough to prevent the
reading public from ever hearing of Schopenhauer's existence until an
article in the _Westminster Review_ (April, 1853) astonished Germany by the
revelation that she possessed a thinker whom the man in the street could

Schopenhauer found his earliest teachers of philosophy in Plato and Kant.
He then attended Fichte's lectures at Berlin. At some uncertain
date--probably soon after taking his doctor's degree in 1813--at the
suggestion of an Orientalist he took up the study of the Vedanta system.
All these various influences converged to impress him with the belief that
the things of sense are a delusive appearance under which a fundamental
reality lies concealed. According to Hegel, the reality is reason; but the
Romanticists, with Schelling at their head, never accepted his conclusion,
thinking of the absolute rather as a blind, unconscious substance; still
less could it please {119} Schopenhauer, who sought for the supreme good
under the form of happiness conceived as pleasure unalloyed by pain. A
gloomy and desponding temperament combined, as in the case of Byron and
Rousseau, with passionately sensuous instincts and anti-social habits,
debarred him from attaining it. The loss of a large part of his private
fortune, and the world's refusal to recognise his genius, completed what
natural temperament had begun; and it only remained for the philosophy of
the Upanishads to give a theoretic sanction to the resulting state of mind
by teaching that all existence is in itself an evil--a position which
placed him in still more thoroughgoing antagonism to Hegel.

It will be remembered that Kant's criticism had denied the human mind all
knowledge of things in themselves, and that the post-Kantian systems had
been so many efforts to get at the Absolute in its despite. But none had
stated the question at issue so clearly as Schopenhauer put it, or answered
it in such luminous terms. Like theirs, his solution is idealist; but the
idealism is constructed on new lines. If we know nothing else, we know
ourselves; only it has to be ascertained what exactly we are. Hegel said
that the essence of consciousness is reason, and that reason is the very
stuff of which the world is made. No, replies Schopenhauer, that is a
one-sided scholastic view. Much the most important part of ourselves is
_not_ reason, but that very unreasonable thing called will--that aimless,
hopeless, infinite, insatiable craving which is the source of all our
activity and of all our misery as well. _This_ is the thing-in-itself, the
timeless, inextended entity behind all phenomena, come to the consciousness
of itself, but also of its utter futility, in man. {120}

The cosmic will presents itself to us objectively under the form of the
great natural forces--gravitation, heat, light, electricity, chemical
affinity, etc.; then as the organising power of life in vegetables and
animals; finally as human self-consciousness and sociability. These,
Schopenhauer says, are what is really meant by the Platonic ideas, and they
figure in his philosophy as first differentiations of the primordial will,
coming between its absolute unity and the individualised objects and events
that fill all space and time. It is the function of architecture, plastic
art, painting, and poetry to give each of these dynamic ideas, singly or in
combination, its adequate interpretation for the æsthetic sense. One art
alone brings us a direct revelation of the real world, and that is music.
Musical compositions have the power to express not any mere ideal
embodiment of the underlying will, but the will itself in all its majesty
and unending tragic despair.

Schopenhauer's theory of knowledge is given in the essay by which he
obtained his doctor's degree, _On the Four-fold Root of the Sufficient
Reason_. Notwithstanding this rather alarming title, it is a singularly
clear and readable work. The standpoint is a simplification of Kant's
_Critique_. The objects of consciousness offer themselves to the thinking,
acting subject as grouped presentations in which there is "nothing sudden,
nothing single." (1) When a new object appears to us, it must have a cause,
physical, physiological, or psychological; and this we call the reason why
it becomes. (2) Objects are referred to concepts of more or less
generality, according to the logical rules of definition, classification,
and inference; that is the reason of their being known. (3) Objects are
mathematically determined by their position relatively to {121} other
objects in space and time; that is the reason of their being. (4) Practical
objects or ends of action are determined by motives; the motive is the
reason why one thing rather than another is done.

The last "sufficient reason" takes us to ethics. Schopenhauer agrees with
Kant in holding that actions considered as phenomena are strictly
determined by motives, so much so that a complete knowledge of a man's
character and environment would enable us to predict his whole course of
conduct through life. Nevertheless, each man, as a timeless subject, is and
knows himself to be free. To reconcile these apparently conflicting
positions we must accept Plato's theory that each individual's whole fate
has been determined by an ante-natal or transcendental choice for which he
always continues responsible. Nevertheless, cases of religious "conversion"
and the like prove that the eternal reality of the Will occasionally
asserts itself in radical transformations of character and conduct.

In ethics Schopenhauer distinguishes between two ideals which may be called
"relative" and "absolute" good. Relative good agrees with the standard of
what in England is known as Universalistic Hedonism--the greatest pleasure
combined with the least pain for all sensitive beings, each agent counting
for no more than one. Personally passionate, selfish, and brutal,
Schopenhauer still had a righteous abhorrence of cruelty to animals;
whereas Kant had no such feeling. But positive happiness is a delusion, and
no humanity can appreciably diminish the amount of pain produced by vital
competition--recognised by our philosopher before Darwin--in the world.
Therefore Buddhism is right, and the higher morality bids us extirpate the
{122} will-to-live altogether by ascetic practices and meditation on the
universal vanity of things. Suicide is not allowed, for while annihilating
the intelligence it would not exclude some fresh incarnation of the will.
And the last dying wish of Schopenhauer was that the end of this life might
be the end of all living for him.


J. F. Herbart (1776-1841) occupies a peculiar position among German
idealists. Like the others, he distinguishes between reality and
appearance; and, like Schopenhauer in particular, he altogether rejects
Hegel's identification of reality with reason. But, alone among
post-Kantian metaphysicians, he is a pluralist. According to him,
things-in-themselves, the eternal existents underlying all phenomena, are
not one, but many. So far his philosophy is a return to the pre-Kantian
system of Wolf and Leibniz; but whereas the monads of Leibniz were credited
with an inward principle of evolution carrying them for ever onward through
an infinite series of progressive changes, Herbart pushes his metaphysical
logic to the length of denying all change and all movement to the eternal
entities of which reality is made up.

Herbart is entitled to the credit--whatever it may be worth--of devising a
system unlike every other in history; for while Hegel has a predecessor in
Heracleitus, his rival combines the Eleatic immobilism with a pluralism
that is all his own. It is not, however, on these paradoxes that his
reputation rests, but on more solid services as a psychologist and an
educationalist. Without any acquaintance, as would seem, with the work
doing in Britain, Herbart discarded the old faculty psychology, conceiving
mentality as made up {123} of "presentations," among which a constant
competition for the field of consciousness is going on; and it is to this
view that such terms as "inhibition" and "threshold of consciousness" are
due. And the enormous prominence now given to the idea of value in ethics
may be traced back to the teaching of a thinker whom he greatly influenced,
F. E. Beneke (1798-1854).

       *       *       *       *       *




The philosophical movement of the nineteenth century, after the collapse of
German idealism, has not been dominated by any single master or any single
direction to anything like the same extent as its predecessors. But if we
are called on to select the dominant note by which all its products have
been more or less coloured and characterised, none more impressive than the
note of Humanism can be named. As applied to the culture of the
Renaissance, humanism meant a tendency to concentrate interest on this
world rather than on the next, using classic literature as the best means
of understanding what man had been and again might be. At the period on
which we are entering human interests again become ascendant; but they
assume the widest possible range, claiming for their dominion the whole of
experience--all that has ever been done or known or imagined or dreamed or
felt. Hegel's inventory, in a sense, embraced all this; but Hegel had a way
of packing his trunk that sometimes crushed the contents out of
recognition, and a way of opening it that few could understand. Besides,
much was left out of the trunk that could ill be spared by mankind.

Aristotle has well said that the soul is in a way everything; and as such
its analysis, under the name of {125} psychology, has entered largely into
the philosophy of the century. Theory of knowledge, together with logic,
has figured copiously in academic courses, with the result of putting what
is actually known before the student in a new and interesting light; but
with the result also of developing so much pedantry and scepticism as to
give many besides dull fools the impression that divine philosophy is both
crabbed and harsh.


In the two centuries after Descartes France, so great in science, history,
and literature, had produced no original philosopher, although general
ideas derived from English thought were extensively circulated for the
purpose of discrediting the old order in Church and State. When this work
had been done with a thoroughness going far beyond the intention of the
first reformers a reaction set in, and the demand arose for something more
conservative than the so-called sensualism and materialistic atheism of the
pre-revolutionary times. A certain originality and speculative
disinterestedness must be allowed to Maine de Biran (1766-1824), who, some
years after Fichte--but, as would seem, independently of him--referred to
man's voluntary activity as a source of _à priori_ knowledge. A greater
immediate impression was produced by Royer-Collard (1763-1845), who, as
Professor at the Sorbonne in 1811, imported the common-sense spiritualism
of Reid (1710-1796) as an antidote to the then reigning theories of
Condillac (1715-1780), who, improving on Locke, abolished reflection as a
distinct source of our ideas. Then came Victor Cousin (1792-1867), a
brilliant rhetorician, and, after Madame de Staël, the first to popularise
German philosophy in France. As {126} Professor at the Sorbonne in the last
years of the Bourbon monarchy he distinctly taught a pantheistic Absolutism
compounded of Schelling and Hegel; but, whether from conviction or
opportunism, this was silently withdrawn, and a so-called eclectic
philosophy put in its place. According to Cousin, in all countries and all
ages, from ancient India to modern Europe, speculation has developed under
the four contrasted forms of sensualism, idealism, scepticism, and
mysticism. Each is true in what it asserts, false in what it denies, and
the right method is to preserve the positive while rejecting the negative
elements of all four. But neither the master nor his disciples have ever
consistently answered the vital question, what those elements are.


Among other valuable contributions to the history of philosophy, Victor
Cousin had lectured very agreeably on the philosophy of Kant, accepting the
master's arguments for the apriorism of space and time, but rejecting his
reduction of them to mere subjective forms as against common sense. He had
not gone into Kant's destructive criticism of all metaphysics, and this was
now to be turned against him by an unexpected assailant. Sir William
Hamilton (1788-1856), afterwards widely celebrated as Professor of Logic
and Metaphysics at Edinburgh, began his philosophical career by an essay on
"The Philosophy of the Conditioned" in the _Edinburgh Review_ for October,
1829, controverting the Absolutism both of Cousin and of his master,
Schelling. The reviewer had acquired some not very accurate knowledge of
Kant in Germany ten years before; and he uses this, with other rather
flimsy {127} erudition, to establish the principle that _to think is to
condition_, and that therefore the Absolute cannot be thought--cannot be
conceived. Hamilton enjoyed the reputation of having read "all that mortal
man had ever written about philosophy"; but this evidently did not include
Hegel, who certainly had performed the feat declared to be impossible.
Thirty years later the philosophy of the conditioned attained a sudden but
transient notoriety, thanks to the use made of it by Hamilton's disciple,
H. L. Mansel, in his Bampton Lectures on _The Limits of Religious Thought_
(1858). The object of these was to prove that, as we know nothing about
Things-in-themselves, nothing told about God in the Bible or the Creeds can
be rejected _à priori_ as incredible. As an apology, the book failed
utterly, its only effect being to prepare public opinion for the
Agnosticism of Herbert Spencer and Huxley.


The brilliant audiences that hung spell-bound on the lips of Victor Cousin
as he unrolled before them the Infinite, the Finite, and the relation
between the two, little knew that France's only great philosopher since
Descartes was working in obscurity among them. Auguste Comte (1798-1857),
the founder of Positivism, belonged to a Catholic and Legitimist family. By
profession a mathematical teacher, he fell early under the influence of the
celebrated St. Simon, a mystical socialist who exercised a powerful
attraction on others besides Comte. The connection lasted four years, when
they quarrelled; indeed Comte's character was such as to make permanent
co-operation with him impossible, except on terms of absolute agreement
with his opinions and submission to his will. At a {128} subsequent period
he obtained some fairly well-paid employment at the École Polytechnique,
but lost it again owing to the injurious terms in which he spoke of his
colleagues. In his later years he lived on a small annuity made up by
contributions from his admirers.

[Illustration: AUGUSTE COMTE.]


Auguste Comte disliked and despised Plato, altogether preferring Aristotle
to him as a philosopher; but it is fundamentally as a Platonist, not as an
Aristotelian, that he should himself be classed--in this sense, that he
valued knowledge above all as the means towards reconstituting society on
the basis of an ideal life. And this is the first reason why his philosophy
is called positive--to distinguish it as reconstructive from the purely
negative thought of the Revolution. The second reason is to distinguish it
as dealing with real facts from the figments of theology and the
abstractions of metaphysics. Positive science explains natural events
neither by the intervention of supernatural beings nor by the mutual
relations of hypostasised concepts, but by verifiable laws of succession
and resemblance. Turgot was the first to distinguish the theological,
metaphysical, and mechanical interpretations as successive stages of a
historical evolution (1750); Hume was the first to single out the relations
of orderly succession and resemblance as the essential elements of real
knowledge (1739); Comte, with the synthetic genius of the nineteenth
century, first combined these isolated suggestions with a wealth of other
ideas into a vast theory of human progress set out in the fifth and sixth
volumes of his _Philosophie Positive_--the best sketch of universal history
ever written.

The positive sciences fall into two great divisions--the concrete, dealing
with the actual phenomena as presented in space and time; the abstract,
which alone concern philosophy, dealing with their laws. The most important
of the abstract sciences is Sociology, claimed by Comte as his own special
creation. The study of this demands a previous knowledge of biology,
psychology {130} being dismissed as a metaphysical delusion and phrenology
put in its place. The science of life presupposes Chemistry, before which
comes Physics, presupposing Astronomy, and, as the basis of all,
Mathematics, divided into the calculus and geometry. At a later period
Morality was placed as a seventh fundamental science at the head of the
whole hierarchy.

At a first glance some serious flaws reveal themselves in the imposing
logic of this scheme. Astronomy as a concrete science ought to have been
excluded from the series, its admission being apparently due to the
historical circumstance that the most general laws of physics were
ascertained through the study of celestial phenomena. But on the same
ground geology can no longer be excluded, as its records led to the
recognition of the evolution of life; or should evolution be referred to
the concrete sciences of zoology and botany, by parity of reasoning human
progress should be treated as a branch of universal history--which, in
fact, is what Comte makes it in his fifth and sixth volumes. It would have
been better had he also studied social statics on the historical method. As
it is, the volume in which the conditions of social equilibrium are
supposed to be established contains only one chapter on the subject, and
that is very meagre, consisting of some rather superficial observations on
family life and the division of labour. No doubt the matter receives a far
more thorough discussion in the author's later work, _Politique Positive_.
But this merely embodies his own plan of reorganisation for the society of
the future, and therefore should count not as science, but as art.

The Positivist theory of social dynamics is that all {131} branches of
knowledge pass through three successive stages already described as the
theological, the metaphysical, and the scientific. And this advance is
accompanied by a parallel evolution on the governmental side from the
military to the industrial régime, with a revolutionary or transitional
period answering to metaphysical philosophy. To this scheme it might be
objected that the parallelism is merely accidental. A scientific view of
nature and a profound knowledge of her laws is no doubt far more conducive
to industry than a superstitious view; but it is also more favourable to
the successful prosecution of war, which, indeed, always has been an
industry like another. Nor, to judge by modern experience, does it look as
if a government placed in the hands of a country's chief capitalists--which
was what Comte proposed--would be less militant in its general disposition
than the parliamentary governments which he condemns as "metaphysical." In
fact, it is by theologians and metaphysicians that our modern horror of war
has been inspired rather than by scientists.

The great idea of Comte's life, that the positive sciences, philosophically
systematised, are destined to supply the basis of a new religion surpassing
Catholicism in its social efficacy, seems a delusion really inherited from
one of his pet aversions, Plato. It arose from a profound misconception of
what Catholicism had done, and a misconception, equally profound, of the
means by which its priesthood worked. In spite of Comte's denials, the
leverage was got not by appeals to the heart, but by appeals to that future
judgment with which the preaching of righteousness and temperance was
associated by St. Paul, his supposed precursor in religion, as Aristotle
was his precursor in philosophy. {132}

The worship of Humanity, or, as it has been better called, the Service of
Man, is a great and inspiring thought. Only it is not a religion, but a
metaphysical idea, derived by Comte from the philosophers of the eighteenth
century, and by them through imperial Rome from the Humanists and Stoics of
ancient Athens.


John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was, like Comte, a Platonist in the sense of
valuing knowledge chiefly as an instrument of social reform. He was indeed
bred up by his father, James Mill (1773-1836), and by Jeremy Bentham as a
prophet of the new Utilitarianism as Comte was, to some extent, trained by
St. Simon to substitute a new order for that which the Revolution had
destroyed. Mill, however, had been educated on the lines of Greek liberty
rather than in the tradition of Roman authority; while both were largely
affected by the Romanticism current in their youth. The worship of women,
revived from the age of chivalry, entered into the romantic movement; and
it may be mentioned in this connection that Mill calls Mrs. Taylor, the
lady with whom he fell in love at twenty-four and married eighteen years
later, "the inspirer and in part the author of all" that was best in his
writings; while Comte refers his religious conversion to Madame Clotilde de
Vaux, the object of his adoration in middle life. It seems probable,
however, from the little we know of Mrs. Taylor--whom Carlyle credits with
"the keenest insight and the royallest volition"--that her influence was
the reverse of Clotilde's. If anything, she attached Mill still more firmly
to the cause of pure reason.

It has been mentioned how Kant's metaphysical {133} agnosticism was played
out by Hamilton against Cousin. A little later Whewell, the Cambridge
historian of physical science, imported Kant's theory of necessary truth in
opposition to the empiricism of popular English thought, and Kant's
Categorical Imperative in still more express contradiction to Bentham's
utilitarian morality. Now Mill, educated as he had been on the
associationist psychology and in the central line of the English
epistemological tradition, rejected the German apriorism as false in
itself, while more particularly hating it as, in his opinion, a dangerous
enemy to all social progress. For to him what people called their
intuitions, whether theoretic or practical, were merely the time-honoured
prejudices in which they had been brought up, and the contradictory of
which they could not conceive. Comte similarly interpreted the metaphysical
stage of thought as the erection into immutable principles of certain
abstract ideas whose value--if they had any--was merely relative and
provisional. Mill, with his knowledge of history, might have remembered
that past thought, beginning with Plato, shows no such connection between
intuitionism and immobility or reaction, while such experientialists as
Hobbes and Hume have been political Tories. But in his own time the _à
priori_ philosophy went hand in hand with conservatism in Church and State,
so he set himself to explode it in his _System of Logic_ (1843).

Mill's _Logic_, the most important English contribution to philosophy since
Hume, is based on Hume's theory of knowledge, amended and supplemented by
some German and French ideas. It is conceded to Kant that mathematical
truths are synthetic, not analytic. It is not contained in the idea of two
and {134} two that they make four, nor in the idea of two straight lines
that they cannot enclose a space. Such propositions are real additions to
our knowledge; but it is only experience that justifies us in accepting
them. What constitutes their peculiar certainty is that they can be
verified by trial on imagined numbers and lines, without reference to
external objects. But by what right we generalise from mental experience to
all experience Mill does not explain. Hume's analysis of causation into
antecedence and sequence of phenomena is accepted by Mill as it was
accepted by Kant; but the law that every change must have a cause is
affirmed, in adhesion to Dr. Thomas Brown (1778-1820), with more
distinctness than by Hume. As Laplace put it, the whole present state of
the universe is a product of its whole preceding state. But we only know
this truth by experience; and we can conceive a state of things where
phenomena succeed one another by a different law or without any law at all.
Mill himself was ready to believe that causation did not obtain at some
very remote point of space; though what difference remoteness could make,
except we suppose it to be causal--which would be a reassertion of the
law--he does not explain; nor yet what warrant we have for assuming that
causation holds through all time, or at any future moment of time.

Next to the law of universal causation inductive science rests on the
doctrine of natural kinds. The material universe is known to consist of a
number of substances--namely, the chemical elements and their combinations,
so constituted that a certain set of characteristic properties are
invariably associated with an indefinite number of other properties. Thus,
if in a strange country a certain mineral answers the usual {135} tests for
arsenic, we know that a given dose of it will destroy life; and we are
equally certain that if the spectroscopic examination of a new star shows
the characteristic lines of iron, a metal possessing all the properties of
iron as we find it in our mines is present in that distant luminary.
According to Mill, we are justified in drawing that sweeping inference on
the strength of a single well-authenticated observation, because we know by
innumerable observations on terrestrial substances that natural kinds
possessing such index qualities do exist, whereas there is not a single
instance of a substance possessing those qualities without the rest.

For Mill, as for Hume, reality means states of consciousness and the
relations between them. Matter he defines as a permanent possibility of
sensation; mind as a permanent possibility of thought and feeling. But the
latter definition is admittedly not satisfactory. For a stream of thoughts
and feelings which is proved by memory to have the consciousness of itself
seems to be something more than a mere stream. All explanations must end in
an ultimate inexplicability. God may be conceived as a series of thoughts
and feelings prolonged through eternity; and it is a logically defensible
hypothesis that the order of nature was designed by such a being, although
the amount of suffering endured by living creatures excludes the notion of
a Creator at once beneficent and omnipotent. And if the Darwinian theory
were established, the case for a designing intelligence would collapse.
Personally Mill believed neither in a God nor in a future life.

In morals Mill may be considered the creator of what Henry Sidgwick, in his
_Methods of Ethics_ (1874), called Universalistic Hedonism. The English
moralists of the {136} eighteenth century had set up the greatest happiness
of the greatest number as the ideal end of action; but they did not hold
that each individual could be expected to pursue anything but his own
happiness; the object of Bentham (1748-1832) being to make the two
coincide. Kant showed that the rule of right excluded any such
accommodation, and a crisis in his own life led Mill to adopt the same
conclusion. Afterwards he rather confused the issues by distinguishing
between higher and lower pleasures, leaving experts to decide which were
the pleasures to be preferred. The universalistic standard settles the
question summarily by estimating pleasures according to their social

Mill fully sympathised with Comte's demand for social reorganisation as a
means towards the moral end. But, with his English and Protestant
traditions, he had no faith in the creation of a new spiritual power with
an elaborate religious code and ritual as the best machinery for the
purpose. In his opinion, the claims of the individual to extended liberty
of thought and action, not their restriction, were what first needed
attention. Second to this--if second at all--came the necessity for
reforming representative government on the lines of an enlarged franchise
and a readjusted electoral system with plural suffrage determined by merit,
votes for women, and a contrivance for giving minorities a weight
proportioned to their numbers. The problem of poverty was to be dealt with
by restrictions on the increase of population and on the amount of
inheritable property, the maximum of which ought not to exceed a modest

Among the noble characters presented by the history of philosophy we may
distinguish between the heroic and the saintly types. To the former in
modern {137} times belong Giordano Bruno, Fichte, and to some extent Comte;
to the latter, Spinoza, Berkeley, and Kant. To the second class we may
surely add John Stuart Mill, whom Gladstone called "the saint of
rationalism," and of whom Auguste Laugel said, "He was not sincere--he was
sincerity itself."


Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was the son of a Nonconformist country
schoolmaster, but was educated chiefly by his uncle Thomas, an Evangelical
clergyman of the Church of England. A radical reformer of the old school,
Thomas Spencer seems to have indoctrinated his youthful charge with the
germinal principles afterwards generalised into a whole cosmic philosophy.
He had a passion for justice realised under the form of liberty, individual
responsibility, and self-help. In his opinion, until it was modified by
private misfortunes, everything served everybody right. Beginning as an
economical administrator of the new Poor Law, he at last became an advocate
of its total abolition; and, alone among fifteen thousand clergymen, he was
an active member of the Anti-Corn Law League, besides supporting the
separation of Church and State. At twenty-two Herbert Spencer accepted and
summed up this policy under the form of a general hostility to State
interference with individual liberty, supporting it by a reference to the
reign of Natural Law in all orders of existence. In his first great work,
_Social Statics_, the principle of _laissez-faire_ received its full
systematic development as the restriction of State action to the defence of
liberty against internal and external aggression, the raising of taxes for
any other purpose being unjust, as is also private ownership of {138} land,
which is by nature the common heritage of all. Spencer subsequently came to
abandon land nationalisation, probably from alarm at its socialistic

[Illustration: HERBERT SPENCER.]

The doctrine of natural law and liberty carried with it for Spencer a
strong repugnance not only to protectionism in politics, but also to
miracles in theology. The profession of journalism brought him into touch
{139} with a freethinking set in London. Whether under their influence, or
Shelley's, or by some spontaneous process, his religious convictions
evaporated by twenty-eight into the agnosticism which thenceforth remained
their permanent expression. There might or not be a First Cause; if there
was, we know nothing about it. At this stage Lyell's attempted refutation
of Lamarck converted Spencer to the belief in man's derivation from some
lower animal by a process of gradual adaptation. Thus the scion of an
educationalist family came to interpret the whole history of life on our
planet as an educative process.

It seemed, however, as if there was one fatal exception to the scheme of
naturalistic optimism. The Rev. Thomas Malthus had originally published his
_Essay on Population_ (1798) as a telling answer to the "infidel" Godwin's
_Political Justice_ (1793), the bolder precursor of _Social Statics_. The
argument was that the tendency of population to outrun the means of
subsistence put human perfectibility out of the question. It had been
suggested by the idealists, Mill among the number, that the difficulty
might be obviated by habitual self-restraint on the part of married people.
But Spencer, with great ingenuity, made the difficulty its own solution.
The pressure of population on the means of subsistence is the source of all
progress; and of progress not only in discoveries and inventions, but also,
through its increased exercise, in the instrument which effects them--that
is, the human brain. Now, it is a principle of Aristotle's, revived by
modern biology, that individuation is antagonistic to reproduction; and
increasing individuation is the very law of developing life, shown above
all in the growing power of life's chief instrument, which is thought's
organ, the brain. For, as Spencer proceeded {140} to show in his next work,
the _Principles of Psychology_, life means a continuous series of
adjustments of internal to external relations. Therefore the rate of
multiplication must go on falling with the growth of intellectual and moral
power until it only just suffices to balance the loss by death. The next
step was to revive Laplace's nebular hypothesis, and to connect it through
Lyell's uniformitarian geology with Lamarck's developmental biology,
thereby extending the same evolutionary process through the whole history
of the universe.

Nor was this all. Milne-Edwards, by another return to Aristotle, had
pointed to the "physiological division of labour" as a mark of ascending
organic perfection, to which Spencer adds integration of structure as its
obverse side, at the same time extending the world-law, already made
familiar in part through its industrial applications by Adam Smith, to all
orders of social activity. Finally, differentiation and integration were
stretched back from living to lifeless matter, thus bringing astronomy and
geology, which had already entered into the causal series of cosmic
transformations, under one common law of evolution; while at the same time,
seeing it to be generally admitted that inorganic changes originated from
the operation of purely mechanical forces, they suggested that mechanism,
without teleology, could adequately explain organic evolution also.

Finally came the great discovery of Darwin and Wallace, with its extension
of Malthus's law to the whole world of living things. Spencer had just
touched, without grasping, the same idea years before. He now gladly
accepted Natural Selection as supplementing without superseding Lamarck's
theory of spontaneous adaptation. {141}

To complete even in outline the vast sweep of his projected Synthetic
Philosophy two steps more remained for Spencer to take. The law of
evolution had to be brought under the recently-discovered law of the
Conservation of Energy, or, as he called it, the Persistence of Force, and
the whole of unified science had to be reconciled with religion. The first
problem was solved by interpreting evolution as a redistribution of matter
and motion--a process in which, of course, energy is neither lost nor
gained. The second problem was solved by reducing faith and knowledge to
the common denominator of Agnosticism--a method that found more favour with
Positivists (in the wide sense) than with Christian believers.

Herbert Spencer was disappointed to find that people took more interest in
the portico (as he called it in a letter to the present writer)--that is to
say, the metaphysical introduction to his philosophical edifice--than in
its interior. He probably had some suspicion that the portico was mere lath
and plaster, while he felt sure that the columns and architraves behind it
were of granite. The public, however, besides their perennial interest in
religion, might be excused for giving more attention to even a baroque
exterior with some novelty about it than to the formalised eclecticism of
what stood behind it. Unfortunately, they soon found that the alleged
reconciliation was a palpable sham. Religion is nothing if not a
revelation, and an unknowable God is no God at all. Even the pretended
proofs of that poor residual deity involved their author in the transparent
self-contradiction of calling the universe the manifestation of an
Unknowable Power. Then the relations between this Power (such as it was)
and the Energy (or Force) whose conservation (or persistence) was the very
first {142} of First Principles seemed hard to adjust. Either energy is
created, or it is not. In the one case, what becomes of its eternity? in
the other case, what need is there to assume a Power (knowable or not)
behind it? Science will not shrink back before such a phantom, nor will
Religion adore it.

Such faulty building in the portico prepares us for somewhat unsteady
masonry within; and in fact none holds together except what has been
transported bodily from other temples. In the past history of the universe,
considered as a "rearrangement of matter and motion," disintegration and
assimilation play quite as great a part as integration and differentiation.
Such formulas have no advantage over the metaphysical systematisation of
Aristotle, and they give us as little power either to predict or to direct.
Will war be abolished at some future time, or property equalised or
abolished, or morality exalted, or religion superseded? Spencer was ready
with his answer; but the law of evolution could not prove it true.
Nevertheless, his name will long be associated with evolution as a
world-wide process, though neither in the way of original discovery nor of
complete generalisation, and far less of successful application to modern
problems; but rather of diffusion and popularisation, even as other
valuable ideas have been impressed on the public mind by other philosophies
at a vast expense of ingenuity, knowledge, and labour, but not at greater
expense than the eventual gain has been worth.


Hegel's philosophy first drew attention in England through its supposed
connection with Strauss's mythic theory of the Gospels and Baur's theory of
New {143} Testament literature as a product of party conflicts and
compromises in the primitive Church. Rightly interpreted as a system of
Pantheism, it was decried and ridiculed by orthodox theologians in the name
of religion and common sense, while cherished by the advanced Broad Church
as a means of symbolising away the creeds they continued to repeat. Then
the triumph of Spencer's Agnosticism in the middle Victorian period
(1864-1874) suggested an appeal to a logic whose object had been to resolve
the negations of eighteenth-century enlightenment in the synthesis of a
higher unity. The first pronunciation in this sense was _The Secret of
Hegel_ (1865), by Dr. Hutchison Stirling (1820-1909), a writer of geniality
and genius, who, writing from the Hegelian standpoint, tried to represent
the English rationalists of the day as a superficial and retrograde school.
It was a bold but unsuccessful attempt to plant the banner of the Hegelian
Right on British soil. By attacking Darwinism Stirling put himself out of
touch with the general movement of thought. Professor William Wallace
(1844-1897), John Caird (1820-1898), and his brother Edward Caird
(1835-1908) inclined more or less to the Left, as also does Lord Haldane
(_b._ 1865) in his _Gifford Lectures_ (1903); and all have the advantage
over Stirling of writing in a clearer if less picturesque style.

T. H. Green (1836-1882) is sometimes quoted as a Hegelian, but his
intellectual affinities were rather with Fichte. According to him, reality
is the thought of an Eternal Consciousness, of which personality need not
be predicated, while the endless duration of personal spirits seems to be
denied. Another idealist, F. H. Bradley (_b._ 1846)--perhaps the greatest
living English {144} thinker--develops in his _Appearance and Reality_
(1893) a metaphysical system which, though Absolutist in form, is, to me at
least, in substance practically indistinguishable from the dogmatic
Agnosticism of Herbert Spencer, and even more destructive of the popular
Theism. Finally the writings of Dr. J. E. McTaggart (_b._ 1866), teaching
as they do a doctrine of developmental personal immortality without a God,
show a tendency to combine Hegel with Lotze.


By general consent the most serious and influential of German systematic
thinkers since Hegel is R. H. Lotze (1817-1881). His philosophy is built up
of materials derived in varying proportions from all his German
predecessors, the most distinctive idea being pluralism, probably suggested
in the first instance by Herbart, whom he succeeded as Professor at
Göttingen. But Lotze discards the rigid monads of his master for the more
intelligible soul-substances of Leibniz--or rather of Bruno--whose example
he also follows in his attempt to combine pluralism with monism. Very
strenuous efforts are made to give the unifying principle the character of
a personal God; but the suspicion of a leaning to Pantheism is not
altogether eluded.

More original and far more uncompromising is the work of Ed. v. Hartmann
(1842-1906). Personally he enjoyed the twofold distinction--whatever it may
be worth--of having served as an officer for a short time in the Prussian
army, and of never having taught in a university. His great work, published
at twenty-seven, appeared under the telling title of the _Philosophy of the
Unconscious_. It won immediate popularity, and reached its eleventh edition
in 1904. Hartmann adopts, {145} with some slight attenuation,
Schopenhauer's pessimism, and his metaphysics with a considerable
emendation. In this new version the world is still conceived as Will and
Representation; but whereas for Schopenhauer the intellective side had been
subordinated to the volitional, with Hartmann the two are co-equal and
intimately united, together forming that "Unconscious" which is the new
Absolute. In this way Reason again becomes, what it had been with Hegel, a
great cosmic principle; only as the optimistic universe had argued itself
_into_ existence, so conversely the pessimistic universe has to argue
itself _out of_ existence. As in the process of developing differentiation,
the volitional and intellective sides draw apart, the Unconscious becomes
self-conscious, and thus awakens to the terrible mistake it committed in
willing to be. Thenceforth the whole of evolution is determined by the
master-thought of how not to be. The problem is how to annul the creative
Will. And the solution is to divide it into two halves so opposed that the
one shall be the negation and destruction of the other. There will be then,
not indeed a certainty, but an equal chance of definitive self-annihilation
and eternal repose. Thus, the immediate duty for mankind, as also their
predestined task, is the furtherance of scientific and industrial progress
as a means towards this consummation, which is likewise their predestined
end. A religious colouring is given to the process by representing it as an
inverted Christian scheme in which man figures as the redeemer of
God--_i.e._ the Absolute--from the unspeakable torments to which he is now
condemned by the impossibility of satisfying his will.

Like Hartmann, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the greatest writer of
modern Germany, took his start from {146} Schopenhauer, but broke with
pessimism at an early date, having come to disbelieve in the hedonism on
which it is founded. His restless vanity drove him to improve on Darwinism
by interpreting evolution as the means towards creating what he called the
Superman--that is, a race as much superior to us as we are to the apes.
Progress, however, is not to be in the direction of a higher morality, but
of greater power--the Will-to-Power, not the Will-to-Live, being the
essence of what is. Later in life Nietzsche revived the Stoic doctrine that
events move, and have moved through all time, in a series of recurring
cycles, each being the exact repetition of its predecessor. It is a
worthless idea, and Nietzsche, who had been a Greek professor, must have
known where he got it; but the megalomania to which he eventually succumbed
prevented his recognising the debt. By a merited irony of fate this
worshipper of the Napoleonic type will survive only as a literary moralist
in the history of thought.

The modern revolt against metaphysical systemisation, with or without a
theological colouring, took in Germany the form of two distinct
philosophical currents. The first is scientific materialism, or, as some of
its advocates prefer to call it, energism. This began about 1850, but
boasts two great living representatives, the biologist Haeckel and the
chemist Ostwald. In their practical aims these men are idealists; but their
admission of space and time as objective realities beyond which there is
nothing, and their repudiation of agnosticism, distinguish them from the
French and English Positivists. The other and more powerful school is known
as Neo-Kantianism. It numbers numerous adherents in the German
universities, and also in those of France and Italy, representing various
{147} shades of opinion united by a common reference to Kant's first
Critique, dissociated from its concessions to deism, as the true
starting-point of modern thought.


Since the beginning of the twentieth century the interest in philosophy and
the ability devoted to its cultivation have shown no sign of diminution.
Two new doctrines in particular have become subjects of world-wide
discussion. I refer to the theory of knowledge called Pragmatism, and to
the metaphysics of Professor Henri Bergson. Both are of so revolutionary,
so contentious, and so elusive a character as to preclude any discussion or
even outline of the new solutions for old problems which they claim to
provide. But I would recommend the study of both, and especially of
Bergson, to all who imagine that the possibilities of speculation are
exhausted, or that we are any nearer finality and agreement than when
Heracleitus first glorified war as the father of all things, and
contradiction as the central spring of life.

       *       *       *       *       *



Kuno Fischer. _Geschichte der neuern Philosophie._ Nine vols. Fourth ed.;
Heidelberg, 1897-1904. (Comes down to Schopenhauer.)

Erdmann. _Geschichte der Philosophie._ Vol. ii. Fourth ed.; Berlin, 1896.
(Comes down to Lotze; third ed.; trans. by W. S. Hough; London, 1889.)

Windelband. _Geschichte der neuern Philosophie._ Two vols. Fifth ed. (Comes
down to Herbart and Beneke. There is an English trans. of Windelband's
_General History of Philosophy_, by J. H. Tufts, New York, 1893. In his
contribution to the General History of Philosophy in the _Kultur der
Gegenwart_, Berlin, 1909, Windelband includes a brief but useful summary of
Pragmatism and Bergson.)

Levy-Bruhl. _History of Modern Philosophy in France._ Trans. by Miss
Coblence. London, 1890.

Forsyth, T. M. _English Philosophy: A Study of its Methods and General
Development._ London, 1910. (A. & C. Black.)

Giordano Bruno. _Opere Italiane._ Ed. P. Lagarde. Göttingen, 1888.

---- _Opera latine conscripta._ Naples and Florence, 1879-91.

McIntyre, J. L. _Life of Giordano Bruno._ London, 1903.

Bacon, Francis. _Works and Life._ Ed. by Ellis and Spedding. Fourteen vols.
1864-74.--Works. One vol. Ed. by Ellis, Spedding, and Robertson.
(Routledge.)--_Novum Organum._ Ed. by T. Fowler. Oxford, 1878.

Abbott, Edwin. _Francis Bacon._ London, 1885.

Church, R. W. _Bacon_ (English Men of Letters). London, 1889.

Hobbes, Thomas. _Works English and Latin._ Ed. Sir Wm. Molesworth. Sixteen
vols. London, 1839-45.

Robertson, G. C. _Hobbes._ London, 1886 (Blackwood's Philosophical

Stephen, Sir Leslie. _Hobbes._ London, 1903 (English Men of Letters).

---- _English Thought in the Eighteenth Century._ Second ed.; two vols.
London, 1881.

---- _The English Utilitarians._ Three vols. London, 1900. {150}

Descartes. _Oeuvres._ Ed. V. Cousin. Eleven vols. Paris, 1824-1828. A new
edition is in course of publication.--English trans. of the _Method and the
Meditations_ in the Scott Library. London, 1901.--_Life_, by Elizabeth
Haldane. London, 1905.

Malebranche. _Oeuvres._ Three vols. Ed. Jules Simon. Paris, 1871.

Spinoza. _Opera._ Ed. Van Vloten and Land. Two vols. The Hague, 1882-83.

---- _Life and Philosophy._ By Sir Fr. Pollock. London, 1880; second ed.,

---- _A Study of._ By James Martineau. London, 1883.

----_'s Ethics, A Study of._ By H. H. Joachim. Oxford, 1901.

---- Trans. of his principal works. By Elwes in Bohn's Library. Two vols.,
1883-86. Also Everyman's Library. (Dent.)

---- _Ethics._ Trans. by Hale White, revised by Amelia Stirling. London,

---- _Leben und Lehre._ Von J. Frendenthal. 1904.

Leibniz. _Philosophische Schriften._ Seven vols. Ed. C. J. Gerhardt.
Berlin, 1875-90.--_The Philosophy of Leibniz._ By Bertrand Russell.
Cambridge, 1900.

Locke, John. _Works._ Nine vols. London, 1824.

---- _Essay Concerning Human Understanding._ Two vols.; in Bohn's Library.
London, 1877.

---- _Life of._ By Fox Bourne. Two vols. London, 1876.

---- By Thomas Fowler. London, 1880 (English Men of Letters).

---- By Prof. A. C. Fraser; in Blackwood's Phil. Classics. 1890.

Berkeley, George. _Works and Life._ Ed. A. C. Fraser. Four vols. Oxford,

---- By Fraser (Philosophical Classics). 1881.

Hume, David. _Philosophical Works._ Four vols. Ed. Green and Grose. London,

---- By T. H. Huxley (English Men of Letters). New edition. London, 1894.

Kant. _Werke._ Ed. Rosenkranz and Schubert. Twelve vols. 1838-40. Two new
editions, including the correspondence, are now in course of publication at
Berlin. There are English translations of all the principal works.

---- _Life and Doctrine._ By F. Paulsen; trans. by Creighton and Lefevre.
London, 1908.

Fichte, J. G. _Werke._ Eleven vols. 1834-46. Trans. of his more popular
works by Dr. W. Smith. Two vols. London, 1890.

Adamson. _Fichte._ In Blackwood's Phil. Classics. 1901. {151}

Schelling, F. W. J. _Werke._ Fourteen vols. Stuttgart, 1856-61.

Watson, Prof. J. _Schelling's Transcendental Idealism_, Chicago, 1882.

Hegel, G. W. F. _Werke._ Nineteen vols. in twenty-one. Leipzig, 1832-87.

Hegel. By Prof. E. Caird (Philosophical Classics for English Readers.)
Edinburgh, 1883. Hegel's Philosophies of _Law, Religion, History, Mind, his
History of Philosophy_, and the smaller _Logic_, have been translated into

Schopenhauer. _Werke._ Six volumes in the Reclam Series. Leipzig, 1892.

Ribot. _La Philosophie de Schopenhauer._ Ninth ed.; Paris, 1909.

Wallace, Prof. W. _Life of Schopenhauer_ (Great Writers Series). London,

Whittaker, Thomas. "Schopenhauer," in _Philosophies Ancient and Modern_.
London, 1908.

Schopenhauer's _World as Will and Idea._ Trans. by Haldane and Kemp. Three
vols. London, 1884-86.--Essays. Trans. by Belfort Bax (Bohn's Library).
London, 1891.

Schopenhauer. _Studies._ Consisting of translations by T. Bailey Saunders.
Seven vols. London, 1889-96.--Other essays translated by Madame Hillebrand
(London, 1889) and by A. B. Ballock (London, 1903)

Herbart, J. F. _Werke._ Ed. Kehrbach. Fifteen vols. 1887 _ff._

Wagner. _Vollständige Darstellung d. Lehre Herbarts._ 1896.

Hayward, F. H. _The Student's Herbart._ 1902.

Hamilton, Sir W. _Discussions on Philosophy._ Second ed. London, 1853.

Comte, Auguste. _Cours de Philosophie Positive._ Five vols. Paris,
1830-42.--_Politique Positive._ Four vols. Paris, 1851-54.

Caird, Edward. _The Social Philosophy of Auguste Comte._ Glasgow, 1885.

Levy-Bruhl. _The Philosophy of Auguste Comte._ English trans. London, 1903.

Whewell, Wm. _Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences._ London, 1840.

Mill, J. S. _A System of Logic._ Two vols. London, 1843.--_On Liberty._
London, 1859.--_Utilitarianism._ London, 1863.--_Examination of Sir William
Hamilton's Philosophy._ London, 1865.

Whittaker, T. "Comte and Mill," in _Philosophies Ancient and Modern._
London, 1908.

Spencer, Herbert. _First Principles._ London, 1862.--_Essays._ Three vols.
London, 1891.--_Autobiography._ London, 1904.

Macpherson, Hector. _Herbert Spencer._ London, 1900. {152}

Green, T. H. _Prolegomena to Ethics._ Oxford, 1884.

Green, T. H. _Works._ Three vols. London, 1885-1900.

Bradley, F. H. _Appearance and Reality._ Third ed. London, 1889.

Lotze, H. _Mikrocosmus._ 1856-64.--_System der Philosophie._
1874-79.--English trans. of the _Microc._ Two vols. Edinburgh, 1885.--Of
the _Metaphysics._ Two vols. Oxford. 1884.

Jones, Sir Henry. _The Philosophy of Lotze._ Glasgow, 1895.

Hartmann, Ed. von. _Die Philosophie des Unbewussten._ 1869. English trans.
by W. C. Coupland. Three vols. London, 1884.

Nietzsche, Fr. _Werke._ Leipzig, 1895 _ff._ English trans. in fourteen
vols. Edinburgh. (T. N. Foulis.)--D. Halévy, _La Vie de Nietzsche._ Paris,

Russell, Bertrand. _The Problems of Philosophy_ (Home University Library).
London, 1912.

       *       *       *       *       *



  Abbott, E. A., quoted, 14
  Agnosticism, 67, 70, 141, 143, 144
  Anaximander, 12
  Aquinas, St. Thomas, 4
  Aristotle, 3, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25, 49, 52, 129, 139, 142
  Arnold, Matthew, 55
  Athens, 1 _f._
  Atomism, revival of, 10, 21
  Averroes, 4

  Bacon, Roger, 4
  Bacon, Francis, 12 _ff._, 24, 29, 32, 61
  Baur, F. C., 142
  Bayle, Pierre, 71
  Beneke, F. E., 123
  Bergson, Henri, 147
  Berkeley, Bishop, 43, 72 _ff._;
    _Theory of Vision_, 73;
    Idealism, 73 _ff._, 89
  Boyle, Robert, 21
  Bradley, F. H., 57, 143
  Brahe, Tycho, 17
  Brown, Dr. Thomas, 134
  Bruno, Giordano, 7 _ff._, 22, 45, 51, 107
  Byron, 119

  Caird, Edward, 143
  Caird, John, _ib._
  Calvinism, 28
  Catholicism and philosophy, 2 _ff._
  Causation. _See_ Hume, Kant, Hegel, Mill
  Christianity. _See_ Catholicism
  Christina, Queen, 32 _f._
  Church, Dean, quoted, 15
  Collier, Arthur, 75
  Collins, Anthony, 71
  Columbus, 6
  Comte, Auguste, 127 _ff._;
    classification of the sciences, 130;
    _Politique Positive_, _ib._;
    philosophy of history, 131, 133
  Condillac, 125
  Copernicanism, 6 _f._
  Cousin, Victor, 90

  Dante, 6 _f._
  Darwin, Charles, 140
  Democritus, 10
  Descartes, 30, 31 _ff._;
    on belief, 41, 49, 61, 65, 87
  Duns Scotus, 4

  Eclectics, French, 125 _f._;
    German, 144
  Ego, the Absolute, 105
  Elizabeth, Princess, 32
  Empedocles, 65
  Epicurus, 9, 22, 29
  Epistemology, 65
  Eriugena, John Scotus, 3, 4
  _Ethica_, Spinoza's, 48

  Fichte, J. G., 101 _ff._;
    his definition of God, 102;
    as German patriot, 102 _f._;
    his  idealism, 103 _ff._;
    ethical standpoint, 106;
    later teaching, 110
  Ficino, Marsilio, 5
  Final causes in modern philosophy, 61;
    in Plato, _ib._
  Form and Matter, 10, 18, 24

  Galileo, 17, 24
  Gassendi, 50
  Geulincx, 42, 44, 51
  Gilbert, 17, 21
  Godwin, William, 139
  Goethe, 102, 105
  Green, T. H., 143

  Haeckel, Ernst, 146
  Haldane, Lord, 143
  Haldane, Miss E. S.,
    quoted, 32
  Hamilton, Sir William, 126 f., 132
  Hartmann, Ed. von, 144 f.
  Harvey, 17
  Hegel, G. F. W., 24;
    on Spinoza, 53, 103, 107, 110 _ff._;
    _Phenomenology of Mind_, 112;
    _Science of Logic_, _ib._;
    _Encyclopædia_, _ib._;
    _Philosophy of Law_, _ib._;
    _Æsthetics_, 113;
    _Philosophy of History_, _ib._;
    his didactic method, 113 _ff._;
    negation of supernatural religion, 116, 118, 124, 126
  Hegelians, the English, 142 _ff._
  Heine, 103, 116
  Heracleitus, 11, 147
  Herbart, J. F., 122, 144
  Hobbes, Thomas, 22 _ff._, 50, 56, 68
  Hooker, Richard, and the Social Contract, 29
  Humanism in the nineteenth century, 124
  Hume, David, 77 _ff._;
    character as a historian, 77;
    theory of causation, 81 _ff._;
    attitude towards theism, 84, 89;
    a precursor of Comte, 129;
    and of Mill, 133 _ff._
  Huxley, T. H., 127
  Huyghens on Descartes, 41

  Induction, Baconian, 20
  Innate ideas, 68, 95

  John of Salisbury, 4
  Justinian, 1

  Kant, Immanuel, 85 ff.;
    his nebular hypothesis, 87;
    on synthetic and analytic judgments, 87 _ff._;
    on space and time, 90 _ff._;
    _Critique of Pure Reason_, 93 _ff._;
    on causation, 95 _f._;
    moral and religious philosophy, 97 ff., 118, 119, 132, 133, 134, 147
  Kepler, 10, 17, 21
  Klopstock, 101

  Lamarck, 139, 140
  Laplace, 87
  Leibniz, G. W., 57 _ff._;
    optimism, 59 _ff._;
    monadology, 62;
    determinism, 63;
    pre-established harmony, _ib._, 144
  Lewes, G. H., 103, 107
  Locke, John, 29, 65 _ff._;
    on toleration, 67;
    his proof of theism, 69;
    moral inconsistency, 69 _f._, 72, 87, 89
  Lotze, R. H., 144
  Lucretius, 9, 20, 22
  Luther, 6
  Lyell, Sir Charles, 139

  Macaulay on Bacon, 16;
    on Hobbes, 28, 71
  McTaggart, Dr. J. E., 144
  Maine de Biran, 125
  Malebranche, 42 _ff._, 51, 74, 89
  Malthus, 137
  Mansel, H. L., 127
  Materialists, German, 146
  Mill, J. S., 132 _ff._;
    _System of Logic_, 133;
    metaphysics, 135;
    theology, _ib._;
    ethics, 135 _f._;
    politics, 136;
    character, 137
  Milne-Edwards, 140
  Monadism, 11, 70

  Napier, 17
  Neo-Kantianism, 146
  Neo-Platonism, 2 f.
  Newton, Isaac, 58, 59
  Nicolas of Cusa, 11
  Nietzsche, Friedrich, 145 _f._
  Norris, John, 75

  Occam, 5
  Occasionalism, 42
  Ostwald, 146

  Pantheism, 45,50
  Parmenides, 9
  Pascal, 42
  Plotinus, 2, 5, 12, 44
  Positivism. See Comte
  Power, idea of, in Spinoza, 52;
    how connected with causation, 83
  Pragmatism, 147
  Proclus, 3
  Pythagoreans, 9

  Reality, degrees of, 57
  Reid, Thomas, 85, 125
  Renaissance,  scientific activity of the, 17
  Rousseau, 29, 119

  St. Simon, 127
  Schelling, F. W. J., 106 _ff._;
    natural philosophy, 108;
    _Transcendental Idealism_, 108 _f._;
    romanticism, 109;
    Absolutism, 110, 126
  Schiller, F. C. S., quoted, 18
  Schopenhauer, Arthur, 103, 118 _ff._;
    pessimism, 119;
    metaphysics, 119 _ff._;
    ethics, 121 _f._, 145
  Sextus Empiricus, 67
  Shaftesbury, Lord, author of the _Characteristics_, 71
  Shelley, 139
  Sidgwick, Henry, 135
  Smith, Adam, 140
  Social Contract, 26
  Spencer, Herbert, 127, 137 ff.;
    _Social Statics_, 137;
    _Psychology_, 140;
    _Synthetic Philosophy_, 141;
    on religion, _ib._;
    formula of evolution, 142, 144
  Spencer, Rev. Thomas, 137
  Spinoza, 30, 45 _ff._;
    _Tractatus Theologico-Politicus_, 48;
    not a mystic, 55;
    ethics, 56 _f._;
    return to Stoicism, 56, 59, 61, 69, 87, 106, 110
  Staël, Madame de, 125
  Stirling, Dr. Hutchison, 143
  Strauss, David, 112, 142

  Taylor, Mrs., and J. S. Mill, 132
  Temple, Archbishop, 102
  Theism. _See_ Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Mill
  _Timæus_, Plato's, 41
  Toland, 71
  Turgot, 129

  Vaux, Clotilde de, and Comte, 132
  Voltaire and optimism, 59
  Vries, Simon de and Spinoza, 46

  Wallace, A. R., 140
  Wallace, Prof. William, 143
  Whewell, William, 133
  Wordsworth, 57
  Wycliffe, 5

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The following changes were made:

Page 38. "passed with progressive reflection": 'progress-sive' on line
break in original.

Page 57. "only defend on aesthetic grounds": 'grounps' in original.

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