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Title: Christianity and Greek Philosophy - or, the relation between spontaneous and reflective thought - in Greece and the positive teaching of Christ and His - Apostles
Author: Cocker, B. F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1821-1883
Language: English
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"Plato made me know the true God, Jesus Christ showed me the way tohim."

                                                           ST. AUGUSTINE



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by HARPER &
BROTHERS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the Southern District of New York.






In preparing the present volume, the writer has been actuated by a
conscientious desire to deepen and vivify our faith in the Christian
system of truth, by showing that it does not rest _solely_ on a special
class of facts, but upon all the facts of nature and humanity; that its
authority does not repose _alone_ on the peculiar and supernatural
events which transpired in Palestine, but also on the still broader
foundations of the ideas and laws of the reason, and the common wants
and instinctive yearnings of the human heart. It is his conviction that
the course and constitution of nature, the whole current of history, and
the entire development of human thought in the ages anterior to the
advent of the Redeemer centre in, and can only be interpreted by, the
purpose of redemption.

The method hitherto most prevalent, of treating the history of human
thought as a series of isolated, disconnected, and lawless movements,
without unity and purpose; and the practice of denouncing the religions
and philosophies of the ancient world as inventions of satanic mischief,
or as the capricious and wicked efforts of humanity to relegate itself
from the bonds of allegiance to the One Supreme Lord and Lawgiver, have,
in his judgment, been prejudicial to the interests of all truth, and
especially injurious to the cause of Christianity. They betray an utter
insensibility to the grand unities of nature and of thought, and a
strange forgetfulness of that universal Providence which comprehends all
nature and all history, and is yet so minute in its regards that it
numbers the hairs on every human head, and takes note of every sparrow's
fall, A juster method will lead us to regard the entire history of human
thought as a development towards a specific end, and the providence of
God as an all-embracing plan, which sweeps over all ages and all
nations, and which, in its final consummation, will, through Christ,
"gather together all things in one, both things which are in heaven and
things which are on earth."

The central and unifying thought of this volume is _that the necessary
ideas and laws of the reason, and the native instincts of the human
heart, originally implanted by God, are the primal and germinal forces
of history; and that these have been developed under conditions which
were first ordained, and have been continually supervised by the
providence of God_. God is the Father of humanity, and he is also the
Guide and Educator of our race. As "the offspring of God," humanity is
not a bare, indeterminate potentiality, but a living energy, an active
reason, having definite qualities, and inheriting fundamental principles
and necessary ideas which constitute it "the image and likeness of God."
And though it has suffered a moral lapse, and, in the exercise of its
freedom, has become alienated from the life of God, yet God has never
abandoned the human race. He still "magnifies man, and sets his heart
upon him." "He visits him every morning, and tries him every moment."
"The inspiration of the Almighty still gives him understanding." The
illumination of the Divine Logos still "teacheth man knowledge." The
Spirit of God still comes near to and touches with strong emotion every
human heart. "God has never left himself without a witness" in any
nation, or in any age. The providence of God has always guided the
dispersions and migrations of the families of the earth, and presided
over and directed the education of the race. "He has foreordained the
times of each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical boundaries
of their habitations, _in order that they should seek the Lord_, and
feel after and find Him who is not far from any one of us." The
religions of the ancient world were the painful effort of the human
spirit to return to its true rest and centre--the struggle to "find Him"
who is so intimately near to every human heart, and who has never ceased
to be the want of the human race. The philosophies of the ancient world
were the earnest effort of human reason to reconcile the finite and the
infinite, the human and the Divine, the subject and God. An overruling
Providence, which makes even the wrath of man to praise Him, took up all
these sincere, though often mistaken, efforts into his own plan, and
made them sub-serve the purpose of redemption. They aided in developing
among the nations "the desire of salvation," and in preparing the world
for the advent of the Son of God. The entire course and history of
Divine providence, in every nation, and in every age, has been directed
towards the one grand purpose of "reconciling all things to Himself."
Christianity, as a comprehensive scheme of reconciliation, embracing
"all things," can not, therefore, be properly studied apart from the
ages of earnest thought, of profound inquiry, and of intense religious
feeling which preceded it. To despise the religions of the ancient
world, to sneer at the efforts and achievements of the old philosophers,
or even to cut them off in thought from all relation to the plans and
movements of that Providence which has cared for, and watched over, and
pitied, and guided all the nations of the earth, is to refuse to
comprehend Christianity itself.

The author is not indifferent to the possibility that his purpose may be
misconceived. The effort may be regarded by many conscientious and
esteemed theologians with suspicion and mistrust. They can not easily
emancipate themselves from the ancient prejudice against speculative
thought. Philosophy has always been regarded by them as antagonistic to
Christian faith. They are inspired by a commendable zeal for the honor
of dogmatic theology. Every essay towards a profounder conviction, a
broader faith in the unity of all truth, is branded with the opprobrious
name of "rationalism." Let us not be terrified by a harmless word.
Surely religion and right reason must be found in harmony. The author
believes, with Bacon, that "the foundation of all religion is right
reason." The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the
confession of despair. Sustained by these convictions, he submits this
humble contribution to theological science to the thoughtful
consideration of all lovers of Truth, and of Christ, the fountain of
Truth. He can sincerely ask upon it the blessing of Him in whose fear it
has been written, and whose cause it is the purpose of his life to

The second series, on "Christianity and Modern Thought," is in an
advanced state of preparation for the press.

NOTE.--It has been the aim of the writer, as far as the nature of the
subject would permit, to adapt this work to general readers. The
references to classic authors are, therefore, in all cases made to
accessible English translations (in Bohn's Classical Library); such
changes, however, have been made in the rendering as shall present the
doctrine of the writers in a clearer and more forcible manner. For
valuable services rendered in this department of the work, by Martin L.
D'Ooge, Μ. Α., Acting Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the
University of Michigan, the author would here express his grateful








     THE UNKNOWN GOD (_continued_).

     THE UNKNOWN GOD (_continued_).
       IS GOD COGNIZABLE BY REASON? (_continued_).


     THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (_continued_).
       PRE-SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_)
     _Idealist_: Pythagoras--Xenophanes--Parmenides--Zeno. _Natural
     Realist_: Anaxagoras.

     THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (_continued_).
       THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).

     THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (_continued_).
       THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).


     THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (_continued_).
       THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).

     THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (_continued_).
       Epicurus and Zeno.

     The Propædeutic Office of Greek Philosophy.

     The Propædeutic Office of Greek Philosophy (_continued_).

      "_Ye men of Athens_, all things which I behold bear witness
      to your carefulness in religion; for, as I passed through
      your city and beheld the objects of your worship, I found
      amongst them an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN
      GOD; whom, therefore, ye worship, though ye know; Him not,
      Him declare I unto you. God who made the world and all
      things therein, seeing He is Lord of heaven and earth,
      dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is He
      served by the hands of men, as though he needed any thing;
      for He giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things. And
      He made of one blood all the nations of mankind to dwell
      upon the face of the whole earth; and ordained to each the
      appointed seasons of their existence, and the bounds of
      their habitation, that they should seek God, if haply they
      might feel after Him and find Him, though he be not far from
      every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our
      being; as certain of your own poets have said, _For we are
      also His offspring_. Forasmuch, then, as we are the
      offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is
      like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by the art and
      device of man. Howbeit, those past times of ignorance God
      hath overlooked; but now He commandeth all men everywhere to
      repent, because He hath appointed a day wherein He will
      judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath
      ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all, in that
      He hath raised Him from the dead."--Acts xvii. 22-31.




      "Is it not worth while, for the sake of the history of men
      and nations, to study the surface of the globe in its
      relation to the inhabitants thereof?"--Goethe.

There is no event recorded in the annals of the early church so replete
with interest to the Christian student, or which takes so deep a hold on
the imagination, and the sympathies of him who is at all familiar with
the history of Ancient Greece, as the one recited above. Here we see the
Apostle Paul standing on the Areopagus at Athens, surrounded by the
temples, statues, and altars, which Grecian art had consecrated to Pagan
worship, and proclaiming to the inquisitive Athenians, "the strangers"
who had come to Athens for business or for pleasure, and the
philosophers and students of the Lyceum, the Academy, the Stoa, and the
Garden, "_the unknown God_."

Whether we dwell in our imagination on the artistic grandeur and
imposing magnificence of the city in which Paul found himself a solitary
stranger, or recall the illustrious names which by their achievements in
arts and philosophy have shed around the city of Athens an immortal
glory,--or whether, fixing our attention on the lonely wanderer amid the
porticoes, and groves, and temples of this classic city, we attempt to
conceive the emotion which stirred his heart as he beheld it "wholly
given to idolatry;" or whether we contrast the sublime, majestic theism
proclaimed by Paul with the degrading polytheism and degenerate
philosophy which then prevailed in Athens, or consider the prudent and
sagacious manner in which the apostle conducts his argument in view of
the religious opinions and prejudices of his audience, we can not but
feel that this event is fraught with lessons of instruction to the
Church in every age.

That the objects which met the eye of Paul on every hand, and the
opinions he heard everywhere expressed in Athens, must have exerted a
powerful influence upon the current of his thoughts, as well as upon the
state of his emotions, is a legitimate and natural presumption. Not only
was "his spirit stirred within him"--his heart deeply moved and agitated
when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry--but his thoughtful,
philosophic mind would be engaged in pondering those deeply interesting
questions which underlie the whole system of Grecian polytheism. The
circumstances of the hour would, no doubt, in a large degree determine
the line of argument, the form of his discourse, and the peculiarities
of his phraseology. The more vividly, therefore, we can represent the
scenes and realize the surrounding incidents; the more thoroughly we can
enter into sympathy with the modes of thought and feeling peculiar to
the Athenians; the more perfectly we can comprehend the spirit and
tendency of the age; the more immediate our acquaintance with the
religious opinions and philosophical ideas then prevalent in Athens, the
more perfect will be our comprehension of the apostle's argument, the
deeper our interest in his theme. Some preliminary notices of Athens and
"the Men of Athens" will therefore be appropriate as introductory to a
series of discourses on Paul's sermon on Mars' Hill.

The peculiar connection that subsists between Geography and History,
between a people and the country they inhabit, will justify the
extension of our survey beyond the mere topography of Athens. The people
of the entire province of Attica were called Athenians (_Αθηναίοι_) in
their relation to the state, and Attics _(Αττικοί_) in regard to their
manners, customs, and dialect.[1] The climate and the scenery, the forms
of contour and relief, the geographical position and relations of
Attica, and, indeed, of the whole peninsula of Greece, must be taken
into our account if we would form a comprehensive judgment of the
character of the Athenian people.

The soil on which a people dwell, the air they breathe, the mountains
and seas by which they are surrounded, the skies that overshadow
them,--all these exert a powerful influence on their pursuits, their
habits, their institutions, their sentiments, and their ideas. So that
could we clearly group, and fully grasp all the characteristics of a
region--its position, configuration, climate, scenery, and natural
products, we could, with tolerable accuracy, determine what are the
characteristics of the people who inhabit it. A comprehensive knowledge
of the physical geography of any country will therefore aid us
materially in elucidating the natural history, and, to some extent, the
moral history of its population. "History does not stand _outside_ of
nature, but in her very heart, so that the historian only grasps a
people's character with true precision when he keeps in full view its
geographical position, and the influences which its surroundings have
wrought upon it."[2]

[Footnote 1: Niebuhr's "Lectures on Ethnography and Geography," p. 91.]

[Footnote 2: Ritter's "Geographical Studies," p. 34.]

It is, however, of the utmost consequence the reader should understand
that there are two widely different methods of treating this deeply
interesting subject--methods which proceed on fundamentally opposite
views of man and of nature. One method is that pursued by Buckle in his
"History of Civilization in England." The tendency of his work is the
assertion of the supremacy of material conditions over the development
of human history, and indeed of every individual mind. Here man is
purely passive in the hands of nature. Exterior conditions are the
chief, if not the _only_ causes of man's intellectual and social
development. So that, such a climate and soil, such aspects of nature
and local circumstances being given, such a nation necessarily
follows.[3] The other method is that of Carl Ritter, Arnold Guyot, and
Cousin.[4] These take account of the freedom of the human will, and the
power of man to control and modify the forces of nature. They also take
account of the original constitution of man, and the primitive type of
nations; and they allow for results arising from the mutual conflict of
geographical conditions. And they, especially, recognize the agency of a
Divine Providence controlling those forces in nature by which the
configuration of the earth's surface is determined, and the distribution
of its oceans, continents, and islands is secured; and a providence,
also, directing the dispersions and migrations of nations--determining
the times of each nation's existence, and fixing the geographical bounds
of their habitation, all in view of the _moral_ history and spiritual
development of the race,--"that they may feel after, and find the living
God." The relation of man and nature is not, in their estimation, a
relation of cause and effect. It is a relation of adjustment, of
harmony, and of reciprocal action and reaction. "Man is not"--says
Cousin--"an effect, and nature the cause, but there is between man and
nature a manifest harmony of general laws."... "Man and nature are two
great effects which, coming from the same cause, bear the same
characteristics; so that the earth, and he who inhabits it, man and
nature, are in perfect harmony."[5] God has created both man and the
universe, and he has established between them a striking harmony. The
earth was made for man; not simply to supply his physical wants, but
also to minister to his intellectual and moral development. The earth is
not a mere dwelling-place of nations, but a school-house, in which God
himself is superintending the education of the race. Hence we must not
only study the _events_ of history in their chronological order, but we
must study the earth itself as the _theatre_ of history. A knowledge of
all the circumstances, both physical and moral, in the midst of which
events take place, is absolutely necessary to a right judgment of the
events themselves. And we can only elucidate properly the character of
the actors by a careful study of all their geographical and ethological

[Footnote 3: See chap. ii. "History of Civilization."]

[Footnote 4: Ritter's "Geographical Studies;" Guyot's "Earth and Man;"
Cousin's "History of Philosophy," lec. vii., viii., ix.]

[Footnote 5: Lectures, vol. i. pp. 162, 169.]

It will be readily perceived that, in attempting to estimate the
influence which exterior conditions exert in the determination of
national character, we encounter peculiar difficulties. We can not in
these studies expect the precision and accuracy which is attained in the
mathematical, or the purely physical sciences. We possess no control
over the "materiel" of our inquiry; we have no power of placing it in
new conditions, and submitting it to the test of new experiments, as in
the physical sciences. National character is a _complex_ result--a
product of the action and reaction of primary and secondary causes. It
is a conjoint effect of the action of the primitive elements and laws
originally implanted in humanity by the Creator, of the free causality
and self-determining power of man, and of all the conditions, permanent
and accidental, within which the national life has been developed. And
in cases where _physical_ and _moral_ causes are blended, and
reciprocally conditioned and modified in their operation;--where primary
results undergo endless modifications from the influence of surrounding
circumstances, and the reaction of social and political
institutions;--and where each individual of the great aggregate wields a
causal power that obeys no specific law, and by his own inherent power
sets in motion new trains of causes which can not be reduced to
statistics, we grant that we are in possession of no instrument of exact
analysis by which the complex phenomena of national character may be
reduced to primitive elements. All that we can hope is, to ascertain, by
psychological analysis, what are the fundamental ideas and laws of
humanity; to grasp the exterior conditions which are, on all hands,
recognized as exerting a powerful influence upon national character; to
watch, under these lights, the manifestations of human nature on the
theatre of history, and then apply the principles of a sound historic
criticism to the recorded opinions of contemporaneous historians and
their immediate successors. In this manner we may expect, at least, to
approximate to a true judgment of history.

There are unquestionably fundamental powers and laws in human nature
which have their development in the course of history. There are certain
primitive ideas, imbedded in the constitution of each individual mind,
which are revealed in the universal consciousness of our race, under the
conditions of experience--the exterior conditions of physical nature and
human society. Such are the ideas of cause and substance; of unity and
infinity, which govern all the processes of discursive thought, and lead
us to the recognition of Being _in se_;--such the ideas of right, of
duty, of accountability, and of retribution, which regulate all the
conceptions we form of our relations to all other moral beings, and
constitute _morality_;--such the ideas of order, of proportion, and of
harmony, which preside in the realms of art, and constitute the
beau-ideal of _esthetics_;--such the ideas of God, the soul, and
immortality, which rule in the domains of _religion_, and determine man
a religious being. These constitute the identity of human nature under
all circumstances; these characterize humanity in all conditions.

Like permanent germs in vegetable life, always producing the same
species of plants; or like fundamental types in the animal kingdom,
securing the same homologous structures in all classes and orders; so
these fundamental ideas in human nature constitute its sameness and
unity, under all the varying conditions of life and society. The acorn
must produce an oak, and nothing else. The grain of wheat must always
produce its kind. The offspring of man must always bear his image, and
always exhibit the same fundamental characteristics, not only in his
corporeal nature, but also in his mental constitution.

But the germination of every seed depends on conditions _ab extra_, and
all germs are modified, in their development, by geographical and
climatal surroundings. The development of the acorn into a mature and
perfect oak greatly depends on the exterior conditions of soil, and
moisture, light, and heat. By these it may be rendered luxuriant in its
growth, or it may be stunted in its growth. It may barely exist under
one class of conditions, or it may perish under another. The Brassica
oleracea, in its native habitat on the shore of the sea, is a bitter
plant with wavy sea-green leaves; in the cultivated garden it is the
cauliflower. The single rose, under altered conditions, becomes a double
rose; and creepers rear their stalks and stand erect. Plants, which in a
cold climate are annuals, become perennial when transported to the
torrid zone.[6] And so human nature, fundamentally the same under all
circumstances, may be greatly modified, both physically and mentally, by
geographical, social, and political conditions. The corporeal nature of
man--his complexion, his physiognomy, his stature; the intellectual
nature of man--his religious, ethical, and esthetical ideas are all
modified by his surroundings. These modifications, of which all men
dwelling in the same geographical regions, and under the same social and
political institutions, partake, constitute the _individuality_ of
nations. Thus, whilst there is a fundamental basis of unity in the
corporeal and spiritual nature of man, the causes of diversity are to be
sought in the circumstances in which tribes and nations are placed in
the overruling providence of God.

[Footnote 6: See Carpenter's "Compar. Physiology," p. 625; Lyell's
"Principles of Geology," pp. 588, 589.]

The power which man exerts over material conditions, by virtue of his
intelligence and freedom, is also an important element which, in these
studies, we should not depreciate or ignore. We must accept, with all
its consequences, the dictum of universal consciousness that man is
_free_. He is not absolutely subject to, and moulded by nature. He has
the power to control the circumstances by which he is surrounded--to
originate new social and physical conditions--to determine his own
individual and responsible character--and he can wield a mighty
influence over the character of his fellow-men. Individual men, as
Lycurgus, Solon, Pericles, Alexander, Cæsar, and Napoleon have left the
impress of their own mind and character upon the political institutions
of nations, and, in indirect manner, upon the character of succeeding
generations of men. Homer, Plato, Cicero, Bacon, Kant, Locke, Newton,
Shakspeare, Milton have left a deep and permanent impression upon the
forms of thought and speech, the language and literature, the science
and philosophy of nations. And inasmuch as a nation is the aggregate of
individual beings endowed with spontaneity and freedom, we must grant
that exterior conditions are not omnipotent in the formation of national
character. Still the free causality of man is exercised within a narrow
field. "There is a strictly necessitative limitation drawing an
impassable boundary-line around the area of volitional freedom." The
human will "however subjectively free" is often "objectively unfree;"
thus a large "uniformity of volitions" is the natural consequence.[7]
The child born in the heart of China, whilst he may, in his personal
freedom, develop such traits of character as constitute his
individuality, must necessarily be conformed in his language, habits,
modes of thought, and religious sentiments to the spirit of his country
and age. We no more expect a development of Christian thought and
character in the centre of Africa, unvisited by Christian teaching, than
we expect to find the climate and vegetation of New England. And we no
more expect that a New England child shall be a Mohammedan, a Parsee, or
a Buddhist, than that he shall have an Oriental physiognomy, and speak
an Oriental language. Indeed it is impossible for a man to exist in
human society without partaking in the spirit and manners of his country
and his age. Thus all the individuals of a nation represent, in a
greater or less degree, the spirit of the nation. They who do this most
perfectly are the _great_ men of that nation, because they are at once
both the product and the impersonation of their country and their age.
"We allow ourselves to think of Shakspeare, or of Raphael, or of Phidias
as having accomplished their work by the power of their individual
genius, but greatness like theirs is never more than the highest degree
of perfection which prevails widely around it, and forms the environment
in which it grows. No such single mind in single contact with the facts
of nature could have created a Pallas, a Madonna, or a Lear; such vast
conceptions are the growth of ages, the creation of a nation's spirit;
and the artist and poet, filled full with the power of that spirit, but
gave it form, and nothing but form. Nor would the form itself have been
attained by any isolated talent. No genius can dispense with
experience.... Noble conceptions already existing, and a noble school of
execution which will launch mind and hand upon their true courses, are
indispensable to transcendent excellence. Shakspeare's plays were as
much the offspring of the long generations who had pioneered the road
for him, as the discoveries of Newton were the offspring of those of
Copernicus."[8] The principles here enounced apply with equal force to
philosophers and men of science. The philosophy of Plato was but the
ripened fruit of the pregnant thoughts and seminal utterances of his
predecessors,--Socrates, Anaxagoras, and Pythagoras; whilst all of them
do but represent the general tendency and spirit of their country and
their times. The principles of Lord Bacon's "Instauratio Magna" were
incipient in the "Opus Majus" of Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar. The
sixteenth century matured the thought of the thirteenth century. The
inductive method in scientific inquiry was immanent in the British mind,
and the latter Bacon only gave to it a permanent form. It is true that
great men have occasionally appeared on the stage of history who, like
the reformers Luther and Wesley, have seemed to be in conflict with the
prevailing spirit of their age and nation, but these men were the
creations of a providence--that providence which, from time to time, has
_supernaturally_ interposed in the moral history of our race by
corrective and remedial measures. These men were inspired and led by a
spirit which descended from on high. And yet even they had their
precursors and harbingers. Wyckliffe and John Huss, and Jerome of Prague
are but the representatives of numbers whose names do not grace the
historic page, who pioneered the way for Luther and the Reformation. And
no one can read the history of that great movement of the sixteenth
century without being persuaded there were thousands of Luther's
predecessors and contemporaries who, like Staupitz and Erasmus, lamented
the corruptions of the Church of Rome, and only needed the heroic
courage of Luther to make them reformers also. Whilst, therefore, we
recognize a free causal power in man, by which he determines his
individual and responsible character, we are compelled to recognize the
general law, that national character is mainly the result of those
geographical and ethological, and political and religious conditions in
which the nations have been placed in the providence of God.

[Footnote 7: See Dr. Wheedon's "Freedom of the Will," pp. 164, 165.]

[Footnote 8: Froude, "Hist. of England," pp. 73, 74.]

Nations, like persons, have an _Individuality_. They present certain
characteristic marks which constitute their proper identity, and
separate them from the surrounding nations of the earth; such, for
example, as complexion, physiognomy, language, pursuits, customs,
institutions, sentiments, ideas. The individuality of a nation is
determined mainly from _without_, and not, like human individuality,
from within. The laws of a man's personal character have their home in
the soul; and the peculiarities and habits, and that conduct of life,
which constitute his responsible character are, in a great degree, the
consequence of his own free choice. But dwelling, as he does, in
society, where he is continually influenced by the example and opinions
of his neighbors; subject, as he is, to the ceaseless influence of
climate, scenery, and other terrestrial conditions, the characteristics
which result from these relations, and which are common to all who dwell
in the same regions, and under the same institutions, constitute a
national individuality. Individual character is _variable_ under the
same general conditions, national character is _uniform_, because it
results from causes which operate alike upon all individuals.

Now, that man's complexion, his pursuits, his habits, his ideas are
greatly modified by his geographical surroundings, is the most obvious
of truths. No one doubts that the complexion of man is greatly affected
by climatic conditions. The appearance, habits, pursuits of the man who
lives within the tropics must, necessarily, differ from those of the man
who dwells within the temperate zone. No one expects that the dweller on
the mountain will have the same characteristics as the man who resides
on the plains; or that he whose home is in the interior of a continent
will have the same habits as the man whose home is on the islands of the
sea. The denizen of the primeval forest will most naturally become a
huntsman. The dweller on the extended plain, or fertile mountain slope,
will lead a pastoral, or an agricultural life. Those who live on the
margin of great rivers, or the borders of the sea, will "do business on
the great waters." Commerce and navigation will be their chief pursuits.
The people whose home is on the margin of the lake, or bay, or inland
sea, or the thickly studded archipelago, are mostly fishermen. And then
it is a no less obvious truth that men's pursuits exert a moulding
influence on their habits, their forms of speech, their sentiments, and
their ideas. Let any one take pains to observe the peculiarities which
characterize the huntsman, the shepherd, the agriculturist, or the
fisherman, and he will be convinced that their occupations stamp the
whole of their thoughts and feelings; color all their conceptions of
things outside their own peculiar field; direct their simple philosophy
of life; and give a tone, even, to their religious emotions.

The general aspects of nature, the climate and the scenery, exert an
appreciable and an acknowledged influence on the _mental_
characteristics of a people. The sprightliness and vivacity of the
Frank, the impetuosity of the Arab, the immobility of the Russ, the
rugged sternness of the Scot, the repose and dreaminess of the Hindoo
are largely due to the country in which they dwell, the air they
breathe, the food they eat, and the landscapes and skies they daily look
upon. The nomadic Arab is not only indebted to the country in which he
dwells for his habit of hunting for daily food, but for that love of a
free, untrammelled life, and for those soaring dreams of fancy in which
he so ardently delights. Not only is the Swiss determined by the
peculiarities of his geographical position to lead a pastoral life, but
the climate, and mountain scenery, and bracing atmosphere inspire him
with the love of liberty. The reserved and meditative Hindoo, accustomed
to the profuse luxuriance of nature, borrows the fantastic ideas of his
mythology from plants, and flowers, and trees. The vastness and infinite
diversity of nature, the colossal magnitude of all the forms of animal
and vegetable life, the broad and massive features of the landscape, the
aspects of beauty and of terror which surround him, and daily pour their
silent influences upon his soul, give vividness, grotesqueness, even, to
his imagination, and repress his active powers. His mental character
bears a peculiar and obvious relation to his geographical

[Footnote 9: Ritter, "Geograph. Studies," p. 287.]

The influence of external nature on the imagination--the _creative_
faculty in man--is obvious and remarkable. It reveals itself in all the
productions of man--his architecture, his sculpture, his painting, and
his poetry. Oriental architecture is characterized by the boldness and
massiveness of all its parts, and the monotonous uniformity of all its
features. This is but the expression, in a material form, of that
shadowy feeling of infinity, and unity, and immobility which an unbroken
continent of vast deserts and continuous lofty mountain chains would
naturally inspire. The simple grandeur and perfect harmony and graceful
blending of light and shade so peculiar to Grecian architecture are the
product of a country whose area is diversified by the harmonious
blending of land and water, mountain and plain, all bathed in purest
light, and canopied with skies of serenest blue. And they are also the
product of a country where man is released from the imprisonment within
the magic circle of surrounding nature, and made conscious of his power
and freedom. In Grecian architecture, therefore, there is less of the
massiveness and immobility of nature, and more of the grace and dignity
of man. It adds to the idea of permanence a _vital_ expression. "The
Doric column," says Vitruvius, "has the proportion, strength, and beauty
of man." The Gothic architecture had its birthplace among a people who
had lived and worshipped for ages amidst the dense forests of the north,
and was no doubt an imitation of the interlacing of the overshadowing
trees. The clustered shaft, and lancet arch, and flowing tracery,
reflect the impression which the surrounding scenery had woven into the
texture of the Teutonic mind.

The history of painting and of sculpture will also show that the varied
"styles of art" are largely the result of the aspects which external
nature presented to the eye of man. Oriental sculpture, like its
architecture, was characterized by massiveness of form and tranquillity
of expression; and its painting was, at best, but colored sculpture. The
most striking objects are colossal figures, in which the human form is
strangely combined with the brute, as in the winged bulls of Nineveh and
the sphinxes of Egypt. Man is regarded simply as a part of nature, he
does not rise above the plane of animal life. The soul has its
immortality only in an eternal metempsychosis--a cycle of life which
sweeps through all the brute creation. But in Grecian sculpture we have
less of nature, more of man; less of massiveness, more of grace and
elegance; less repose, and more of action. Now the connection between
these styles of art, and the countries in which they were developed, is
at once suggested to the thoughtful mind.

And then, finally, the literature of a people equally reveals the
impress of surrounding cosmical conditions. "The poems of Ossian are but
the echo of the wild, rough, cloudy highlands of his Scottish home." The
forest songs of the wild Indian, the negro's plaintive melodies in the
rice-fields of Carolina, the refrains in which the hunter of Kamtchatka
relates his adventures with the polar bear, and in which the South Sea
Islander celebrates his feats and dangers on the deep, all betoken the
influence which the scenes of daily life exert upon the thoughts and
feelings of our race. "To what an extent nature can express herself in,
and modify the culture of the individual, as well as of an entire
people, can be seen on Ionian soil in the verse of Homer, which, called
forth under the most favorable sky, and on the most luxuriant shore of
the Grecian archipelago, not only charms us to-day, but bearing this
impress, has determined what shall be the classic form throughout all
coming time."[10]

[Footnote 10: See Ritter, pp. 288, 289. Poetic art has unquestionably
its _geographical_ distributions like the fauna and flora of the globe.
"If you love the images, not merely of a rich, but of a luxuriant fancy;
if you are pleased with the most daring flights; if you would see a
poetic creation full of wonders, then turn your eye to the poetry of the
_orient_, where all forms appear in purple; where each flower glows like
the morning ray resting on the earth. But if, on the contrary, you
prefer depth of thought, and earnestness of reflection; if you delight
in the colossal, yet pale forms, which float about in mist, and whisper
of the mysteries of the spirit-land, and of the vanity of all things,
except honor, then I must point you to the hoary _north_.... Or if you
sympathize with that deep feeling, that longing of the soul, which does
not linger on the earth, but evermore looks up to the azure tent of the
stars, where happiness dwells, where the unquiet of the beating heart is
still, then you must resort to the romantic poetry of the
_west_."--"_Study of Greek Literature_," Bishop Esaias Tegnér, p. 38.]

In seeking, therefore, to determine correctly what are the
characteristics of a nation, we must endeavor to trace how far the
physical constitution of that people, their temperament, their habits,
their sentiments, and their ideas have been formed, or modified, under
the surrounding geographical conditions, which, as we have seen, greatly
determine a nation's individuality. Guided by these lights, let us
approach the study of "_the men of Athens_."

_Attica_, of which Athens was the capital, and whose entire populations
were called "Athenians," was the most important of all the Hellenic
states. It is a triangular peninsula, the base of which is defined by
the high mountain ranges of Cithæron and Parnes, whilst the two other
sides are washed by the sea, having their vertex at the promontory of
Sunium, or Cape Colonna. The prolongation of the south-western line
towards the north until it reaches the base at the foot of Mount
Cithæron, served as the line of demarkation between the Athenian
territory and the State of Megara. Thus Attica may be generally
described as bounded on the north-east by the channel of the Negropont;
on the south-west by the gulf of Ægina and part of Megara; and on the
north-west by the territory which formed the ancient Bœotia, including
within its limits an area of about 750 miles.[11]

Hills of inferior elevation connect the mountain ranges of Cithæron and
Parnes with the mountainous surface of the south-east of the peninsula.
These hills, commencing with the promontory of Sunium itself, which
forms the vertex of the triangle, rise gradually on the south-east to
the round summit of Hymettus, and onward to the higher peak of
Pentelicus, near Marathon, on the east. The rest of Attica is all a
plain, one reach of which comes down to the sea on the south, at the
very base of Hymettus. Here, about five miles from the shore, an abrupt
rock rises from the plain, about 200 feet high, bordered on the south by
lower eminences. That rock is the Acropolis. Those lower eminences are
the Areopagus, the Pmyx, and the Museum. In the valley formed by these
four hills we have the Agora, and the varied undulations of these hills
determine the features of the city of Athens.[12]

[Footnote 11: See art. "Attica," _Encyc. Brit._]

[Footnote 12: See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St.
Paul," vol. i. p. 346.]

Nearly all writers on the topography of Athens derive their materials
from Pausanias, who visited the city in the early part of the second
century, and whose "Itinerary of Greece" is still extant.[13] He entered
the city by the Peiraic gate, the same gate at which Paul entered some
sixty years before. We shall place ourselves under his guidance, and, so
far as we are able, follow the same course, supplying some omissions, as
we go along, from other sources. On entering the city, the first
building which arrested the attention of Pausanias was the Pompeium, so
called because it was the depository of the sacred vessels, and also of
the garments used in the annual procession in honor of Athena (Minerva),
the tutelary deity of Athens, from whom the city derived its name. Near
this edifice stood a temple of Demeter (Ceres), containing statues of
that goddess, of her daughter Persephone, and of Iacchus, all executed
by Praxiteles; and beyond were several porticoes leading from the city
gates to the outer Ceramicus, while the intervening space was occupied
by various temples, the Gymnasium of Hermes, and the house of Polytion,
the most magnificent private residence in Athens.

[Footnote 13: The account here given of the topography of Athens is
derived mainly from the article on "Athens" in the _Encyc. Brit._]

There were two places in Athens known by the name of Ceramicus, one
without the walls, forming part of the suburbs; and the other within the
walls, embracing a very important section of the city. The outer
Ceramicus was covered with the sepulchres of the Athenians who had been
slain in battle, and buried at the public expense; it communicated with
the inner Ceramicus by the gate Dipylum. The Ceramicus within the city
probably included the Agora, the Stoa Basileios, and the Stoa Pœcile,
besides various other temples and public buildings.

Having fairly passed the city gates, a long street is before us with a
colonnade or cloister on either hand; and at the end of this street, by
turning to the left, we might go through the whole Ceramicus to the open
country, and the groves of the Academy. But we turn to the right, and
enter the Agora,--the market-place, as it is called in the English
translation of the sacred narrative.

We are not, however, to conceive of the market-place at Athens as
bearing any resemblance to the bare, undecorated spaces appropriated to
business in our modern towns; but rather as a magnificent public square,
closed in by grand historic buildings, of the highest style of
architecture; planted with palm-trees in graceful distribution, and
adorned with statues of the great men of Athens and the deified heroes
of her mythology, from the hands of the immortal masters of the plastic
art. This "market-place" was the great centre of the public life of the
Athenians,--the meeting-place of poets, orators, statesmen, warriors,
and philosophers,--a grand resort for leisure, for conversation, for
business, and for news. Standing in the Agora, and looking towards the
south, is the _Museum,_ so called because it was believed that _Musæus_,
the father of poetry, was buried there. Towards the north-west is the
_Pnyx,_ a sloping hill, partially levelled into an open area for
political assemblies. To the north is seen the craggy eminence of the
_Areopagus_, and on the north-east is the _Acropolis_ towering high
above the scene, "the crown and glory of the whole."

The most important buildings of the Agora are the Porticoes or
cloisters, the most remarkable of which are the Stoa Basileios, or
Portico of the king; the Stoa Eleutherius, or Portico of the Jupiter of
Freedom; and the Stoa Pœcile, or Painted Porch. These Porticoes were
covered walks, the roof being supported by columns, at least on one
side, and by solid masonry on the other. Such shaded walks are almost
indispensable in the south of Europe, where the people live much in the
open air, and they afford a grateful protection from the heat of the
sun, as well as a shelter from the rain. Seats were also provided where
the loungers might rest, and the philosophers and rhetoricians sit down
for intellectual conversation. The "Stoic" school of philosophy derived
its name from the circumstance that its founder, Zeno, used to meet and
converse with his disciples under one of these porticoes,--the Stoa
Pœcile. These porticoes were not only built in the most magnificent
style of architecture, but adorned with paintings and statuary by the
best masters. On the roof of the Stoa Basileios were statues of Theseus
and the Day. In front of the Stoa Eleutherius was placed the divinity to
whom it was dedicated; and within were allegorical paintings,
celebrating the rise of "the fierce democracy." The Stoa Pœcile derived
its name from the celebrated paintings which adorned its walls, and
which were almost exclusively devoted to the representation of national
subjects, as the contest of Theseus with the Amazons, the more glorious
struggle at Marathon, and the other achievements of the Athenians; here
also were suspended the shields of the Scionæans of Thrace, together
with those of the Lacedemonians, taken at the island of Sphacteria.

It is beyond our purpose to describe all the public edifices,--the
temples, gymnasia, and theatres which crowd the Ceramic area, and that
portion of the city lying to the west and south of the Acropolis. Our
object is, if possible, to convey to the reader some conception of the
ancient splendor and magnificence of Athens; to revive the scenes amidst
which the Athenians daily moved, and which may be presumed to have
exerted a powerful influence upon the manners, the taste, the habits of
thought, and the entire character of the Athenian people. To secure this
object we need only direct attention to the Acropolis, which was crowded
with the monuments of Athenian glory, and exhibited an amazing
concentration of all that was most perfect in art, unsurpassed in
excellence, and unrivalled in richness and splendor. It was "the
peerless gem of Greece, the glory and pride of art, the wonder and envy
of the world."

The western side of the Acropolis, which furnished the only access to
the summit of the hill, was about 168 feet in breadth; an opening so
narrow that, to the artists of Pericles, it appeared practicable to fill
up the space with a single building, which, in serving the purpose of a
gateway to the Acropolis, should also contribute to adorn, as well as
fortify the citadel. This work, the greatest achievement of civil
architecture in Athens, which rivalled the Parthenon in felicity of
execution, and surpassed it in boldness and originality of design,
consisted of a grand central colonnade closed by projecting wings. This
incomparable edifice, built of Pentelic marble, received the name of
Propylæa from its forming the vestibule to the five-fold gates by which
the citadel was entered. In front of the right wing there stood a small
Ionic temple of pure white marble, dedicated to Niké Apteros (Wingless

A gigantic flight of steps conducted from the five-fold gates to the
platform of the Acropolis, which was, in fact, one vast composition of
architecture and sculpture dedicated to the national glory. Here stood
the Parthenon, or temple of the Virgin Goddess, the glorious temple
which rose in the proudest period of Athenian history to the honor of
Minerva, and which ages have only partially effaced. This magnificent
temple, "by its united excellences of materials, design, and decoration,
internal as well as external, has been universally considered the most
perfect which human genius ever planned and executed. Its dimensions
were sufficiently large to produce an impression of grandeur and
sublimity, which was not disturbed by any obtrusive subdivision of
parts; and, whether viewed at a small or greater distance, there was
nothing to divert the mind of the spectator from contemplating the unity
as well as majesty of mass and outline; circumstances which form the
first and most remarkable characteristic of every Greek temple erected
during the purer ages of Grecian taste and genius."[14]

[Footnote 14: Leake's "Topography of Athens," p. 209 et seq.]

It would be impossible to convey any just and adequate conception of the
artistic decorations of this wonderful edifice. The two pediments of the
temple were decorated with magnificent compositions of statuary, each
consisting of about twenty entire figures of colossal size; the one on
the western pediment representing the birth of Minerva, and the other,
on the eastern pediment, the contest between that goddess and Neptune
for the possession of Attica. Under the outer cornice were ninety-two
groups, raised in high relief from tablets about four feet square,
representing the victories achieved by her companions. Round the inner
frieze was presented the procession of the Parthenon on the grand
quinquennial festival of the Panathenæa. The procession is represented
as advancing in two parallel columns from west to east; one proceeding
along the northern, the other along the southern side of the temple;
part facing inward after turning the angle of the eastern front, and
part meeting towards the centre of that front.

The statue of the virgin goddess, the work of Phidias, stood in the
eastern chamber of the cella, and was composed of ivory and gold. It had
but one rival in the world, the Jupiter Olympus of the same famous
artist. On the summit or apex of the helmet was placed a sphinx, with
griffins on either side. The figure of the goddess was represented in an
erect martial attitude, and clothed in a robe reaching to the feet. On
the breast was a head of Medusa, wrought in ivory, and a figure of
Victory about four cubits high. The goddess held a spear in her hand,
and an ægis lay at her feet, while on her right, and near the spear, was
a figure of a serpent, believed to represent that of Erichthonius.

According to Pliny, the entire height of the statue was twenty-six
cubits (about forty feet), and the artist, Phidias, had ingeniously
contrived that the gold with which the statue was encrusted might be
removed at pleasure. The battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ was carved
upon the sandals; the battle of the Amazons was represented on the ægis
which lay at her feet, and on the pedestal was sculptured the birth of

The temple of Erechtheus, the most ancient structure in Athens, stood on
the northern side of the Acropolis. The statue of Zeus Polieus stood
between the Propylæa and the Parthenon. The brazen colossus of Minerva,
cast from the spoils of Marathon, appears to have occupied the space
between the Erechtheium and the Propylæa, near the Pelasgic or northern
wall. This statue of the tutelary divinity of Athens and Attica rose in
gigantic proportions above all the buildings of the Acropolis, the
flashing of whose helmet plumes met the sailor's eye as he approached
from the Sunian promontory. And the remaining space of the wide area was
literally crowded with statuary, amongst which were Theseus contending
with the Minotaur; Hercules strangling the serpents; the Earth imploring
showers from Jupiter; and Minerva causing the olive to sprout, while
Neptune raises the waves. After these works of art, it is needless to
speak of others. It may be sufficient to state that Pausanias mentions
by name towards three hundred remarkable statues which adorned this part
of the city even after it had been robbed and despoiled by its several

The Areopagus, or hill of Ares (Mars), so called, it is said, in
consequence of that god having been the first person tried there for the
crime of murder, was, beyond all doubt, the rocky height which is
separated from the western end of the Acropolis by a hollow, forming a
communication between the northern and southern divisions of the city.
The court of the Areopagus was simply an open space on the highest
summit of the hill, the judges sitting in the open air, on rude seats of
stone, hewn out of the solid rock. Near to the spot on which the court
was held was the sanctuary of the Furies, the avenging deities of
Grecian mythology, whose presence gave additional solemnity to the
scene. The place and the court were regarded by the people with
superstitious reverence.

This completes, our survey of the principal buildings, monuments, and
localities within the city of Athens. We do not imagine we have
succeeded in conveying any adequate idea of the ancient splendor and
glory of this city, which was not only the capital of Attica, but also

     "The eye of Greece, mother of art and eloquence."

We trust, however, that we have contributed somewhat towards awakening
in the reader's mind a deeper interest in these classic scenes, and
enabling him to appreciate, more vividly, the allusions we may hereafter
make to them.

The mere dry recital of geographical details, and topographical notices
is, however, of little interest in itself, and by itself. A tract of
country derives its chief interest from its historic _associations_--its
immediate relations to man. The events which have transpired therein,
the noble or ignoble deeds, the grand achievements, or the great
disasters of which it has been the theatre, these constitute the living
heart of its geography. Palestine has been rendered forever memorable,
not by any remarkable peculiarities in its climate or scenery, but by
the fact that it was the home of God's ancient people--the Hebrews and
still more, because the ardent imagination of the modern traveller still
sees upon its mountains and plains the lingering footprints of the Son
of God. And so Attica will always be regarded as a classic land, because
it was the theatre of the most illustrious period of ancient
history--_the period of youthful vigor in the life of humanity, when
viewed as a grand organic whole_.

Here on a narrow spot of less superficies than the little State of Rhode
Island there flourished a republic which, in the grandeur of her
military and naval achievements, at Marathon, Thermopylæ, Platæa, and
Salamis, in the sublime creations of her painters, sculptors, and
architects, and the unrivalled productions of her poets, orators, and
philosophers, has left a lingering glory on the historic page, which
twenty centuries have not been able to eclipse or dim. The names of
Solon and Pericles; of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; of Isocrates and
Demosthenes; of Myron, Phidias, and Praxiteles; of Herodotus, Xenophon,
and Thucydides; of Sophocles and Euripides, have shed an undying lustre
on Athens and Attica.

How much of this universal renown, this imperishable glory attained by
the Athenian people, is to be ascribed to their geographical position
and surroundings, and to the elastic, bracing air, the enchanting
scenery, the glorious skies, which poured their daily inspiration on the
Athenian mind, is a problem we may scarcely hope to solve.

Of this, at least, we may be sure, that all these geographical and
cosmical conditions were ordained by God, and ordained, also, for some
noble and worthy end. That God, "the Father of all the families of the
earth," cared for the Athenian people as much as for Jewish and
Christian nations, we can not doubt. That they were the subjects of a
Providence, and that, in God's great plan of human history, they had an
important part to fulfill, we must believe. That God "determined the
time of each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical bounds of
its habitation," is affirmed by Paul. And that the _specific_ end for
which the nation had its existence was fulfilled, we have the fullest
confidence. _So far, therefore, as we can trace the relation that
subsists between the geographical position and surroundings of that
nation, and its national characteristics and actual history, so far are
we able to solve the problem of its destiny; and by so much do we
enlarge our comprehension of the plan of God in the history of our

The geographical position of Greece was favorable to the freest
commercial and maritime intercourse with the great historic
nations--those nations most advanced in science, literature, and art.
Bounded on the west by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, by the
Mediterranean on the south, and on the east by the Ægean Sea, her
populations enjoyed a free intercommunication with the Egyptians,
Hebrews, Persians, Phœnicians, Romans, and Carthaginians. This
peculiarity in the geographical position of the Grecian peninsula could
not fail to awaken in its people a taste for navigation, and lead them
to active commercial intercourse with foreign nations.[15] The boundless
oceans on the south and east, the almost impassable mountains on the
west and north of Asia, presented insurmountable obstacles to commercial
intercourse. But the extended border-lands and narrow inland seas of
Southern Europe allured man, in presence of their opposite shores, to
the perpetual exchange of his productions. An arm of the sea is not a
barrier, but rather a tie between the nations. Appearing to separate, it
in reality draws them together without confounding them.[16] On such a
theatre we may expect that commerce will be developed on an extensive
scale.[17] And, along with commerce, there will be increased activity in
all departments of productive industry, and an enlarged diffusion of
knowledge. "Commerce," says Ritter, "is the great mover and combiner of
the world's activities." And it also furnishes the channels through
which flow the world's ideas. Commerce, both in a material and moral
point of view, is the life of nations. Along with the ivory and ebony,
the fabrics and purple dyes, the wines and spices of the Syrian
merchant, there flowed into Greece the science of numbers and of
navigation, and the art of alphabetical writing from Phœnicia. Along
with the fine wheat, and embroidered linen, and riches of the farther
Indias which came from Egypt, there came, also, into Greece some
knowledge of the sciences of astronomy and geometry, of architecture and
mechanics, of medicine and chemistry; together with the mystic wisdom of
the distant Orient. The scattered rays of light which gleamed in the
eastern skies were thus converged in Greece, as on a focal point, to be
rendered more brilliant by contact with the powerful Grecian intellect,
and then diffused throughout the western world. Thus intercourse with
surrounding nations, by commerce and travel, contact therewith by
immigrations and colonizations, even collisions and invasions also,
became, in the hands of a presiding Providence, the means of diffusing
knowledge, of quickening and enlarging the active powers of man, and
thus, ultimately, of a higher civilization.

[Footnote 15: Humboldt's "Cosmos," vol. ii. p. 143.]

[Footnote 16: Cousin, vol. i. pp. 169, 170.]

[Footnote 17: The advantageous situation of Britain for commerce, and
the nature of the climate have powerfully contributed to the perfection
of industry among her population. Had she occupied a central, internal
station, like that of Switzerland, the facilities of her people for
dealing with others being so much the less, their progress would have
been comparatively slow, and, instead of being highly improved, their
manufactures would have been still in infancy. But being surrounded on
all sides by the sea, that "great highway of nations," they have been
able to maintain an intercourse with the most remote as well as the
nearest countries, to supply them on the easiest terms with their
manufactures, and to profit by the peculiar products and capacities of
production possessed by other nations. To the geographical position and
climate of Great Britain, her people are mainly indebted for their
position as the first commercial nation on earth.--See art.
"Manufactrues," p. 277, _Encyc. Brit_.]

Then further, the peculiar configuration of Greece, the wonderful
complexity of its coast-line, its peninsular forms, the number of its
islands, and the singular distribution of its mountains, all seem to
mark it as the theatre of activity, of movement, of individuality, and
of freedom. An extensive continent, unbroken by lakes and inland seas,
as Asia, where vast deserts and high mountain chains separate the
populations, is the seat of immobility.[18] Commerce is limited to the
bare necessities of life, and there are no inducements to movement, to
travel, and to enterprise. There are no conditions prompting man to
attempt the conquest of nature. Society is therefore stationary as in
China and India. Enfolded and imprisoned within the overpowering
vastness and illimitable sweep of nature, man is almost unconscious of
his freedom and his personality. He surrenders himself to the disposal
of a mysterious "_fate_" and yields readily to the despotic sway of
superhuman powers. The State is consequently the reign of a single
despotic will. The laws of the Medes and Persians are unalterable. But
in Greece we have extended border-lands on the coast of navigable seas;
peninsulas elaborately articulated, and easy of access. We have
mountains sufficiently elevated to shade the land and diversify the
scenery, and yet of such a form as not to impede communication. They are
usually placed neither in parallel chains nor in massive groups, but are
so disposed as to inclose extensive tracts of land admirably adapted to
become the seats of small and independent communities, separated by
natural boundaries, sometimes impossible to overleap. The face of the
interior country,--its forms of relief, seemed as though Providence
designed, from the beginning, to keep its populations socially and
politically disunited. These difficulties of internal transit by land
were, however, counteracted by the large proportion of coast, and the
accessibility of the country by sea. The promontories and indentations
in the line of the Grecian coast are hardly less remarkable than the
peculiar elevations and depressions of the surface. "The shape of
Peloponnesus, with its three southern gulfs, the Argolic, Laconian, and
Messenian, was compared by the ancient geographers to the leaf of a
plane-tree: the Pagasæan gulf on the eastern side of Greece, and the
Ambrakian gulf on the western, with their narrow entrances and
considerable area, are equivalent to internal lakes: Xenophon boasts of
the double sea which embraces so large a portion of Attica; Ephorus, of
the triple sea by which Bœotia was accessible from west, north, and
south--the Eubœan strait, opening a long line of country on both sides
to coasting navigation. But the most important of all Grecian gulfs are
the Corinthian and Saronic, washing the northern and north-eastern
shores of Peloponnesus, and separated by the narrow barrier of the
Isthmus of Corinth. The former, especially, lays open Ætolia, Phokis,
and Bœotia, as the whole northern coast of Peloponnesus, to water
approach.... It will thus appear that there was no part of Greece proper
which could be considered as out of the reach of the sea, whilst most
parts of it were easy of access. The sea was thus the sole channel for
transmitting improvements and ideas as well as for maintaining
sympathies" between the Hellenic tribes.[19] The sea is not only the
grand highway of commercial intercourse, but the empire of movement, of
progress, and of freedom. Here man is set free from the bondage imposed
by the overpowering magnitude and vastness of continental and oceanic
forms. The boisterous and, apparently, lawless winds are made to obey
his will. He mounts the sea as on a fiery steed and "lays his hand upon
her mane." And whilst thus he succeeds, in any measure, to triumph over
nature, he wakes to conscious power and freedom. It is in this region of
contact and commingling of sea and land where man attains the highest
superiority. Refreshing our historic recollections, and casting our eyes
upon the map of the world, we can not fail to see that all the most
highly civilized nations have lived, or still live, on the margin of the

[Footnote 18: Cousin, vol. i. pp. 151, 170.]

[Footnote 19: Grote's "Hist, of Greece," vol. ii. pp. 221, 225.]

The peculiar configuration of the territory of Greece, its forms of
relief, "so like, in many respects, to Switzerland," could not fail to
exert a powerful influence on the character and destiny of its people.
Its inclosing mountains materially increased their defensive power, and,
at the same time, inspired them with the love of liberty. Those
mountains, as we have seen, so unique in their distribution, were
natural barriers against the invasion of foreign nations, and they
rendered each separate community secure against the encroachments of the
rest. The pass of Thermopylæ, between Thessaly and Phocis, that of
Cithæron, between Bœotia and Attica; and the mountain ranges of Oneion
and Geraneia, along the Isthmus of Corinth, were positions which could
be defended against any force of invaders. This signal peculiarity in
the forms of relief protected each section of the Greeks from being
conquered, and at the same time maintained their separate autonomy. The
separate states of Greece lived, as it were, in the presence of each
other, and at the same time resisted all influences and all efforts
towards a coalescence with each other, until the time of Alexander.
Their country, a word of indefinite meaning to the Asiatic, conveyed to
them as definite an idea as that of their own homes. Its whole
landscape, with all its historic associations, its glorious monuments of
heroic deeds, were perpetually present to their eyes. Thus their
patriotism, concentrated within a narrow sphere, and kept alive by the
sense of their individual importance, their democratic spirit, and their
struggles with surrounding communities to maintain their independence,
became a strong and ruling passion. Their geographical surroundings had,
therefore, a powerful influence upon their political institutions.
Conquest, which forces nations of different habits, characters, and
languages into unity, is at last the parent of degrading servitude.
These nations are only held together, as in the Roman empire, by the
iron hand of military power. The despot, surrounded by a foreign
soldiery, appears in the conquered provinces, simply to enforce tribute,
and compel obedience to his arbitrary will. But the small Greek
communities, protected by the barriers of their seas and gulfs and
mountains, escaped, for centuries, this evil destiny. The people, united
by identity of language and manners and religion, by common interest and
facile intercommunication, could readily combine to resist the invasions
of foreign nations, as well as the encroachments of their own rulers.
And they were able to easily model their own government according to
their own necessities and circumstances and common interests, and to
make the end for which it existed the sole measure of the powers it was
permitted to wield.[20]

[Footnote 20: _Encyc. Brit_, art. "Greece."]

The soil of Attica was not the most favorable to agricultural pursuits.
In many places it was stony and uneven, and a considerable proportion
was bare rock, on which nothing could be grown. Not half the surface was
capable of cultivation. In this respect it may be fitly compared to some
of the New England States. The light, dry soil produced excellent
barley, but not enough of wheat for their own consumption. Demosthenes
informs us that Athens brought every year, from Byzantium, four hundred
thousand _medimni_ of wheat. The alluvial plains, under industrious
cultivation, would furnish a frugal subsistence for a large population,
and the mildness of the climate allowed all the more valuable products
to ripen early, and go out of season last. Such conditions, of course,
would furnish motives for skill and industry, and demand of the people
frugal and temperate habits. The luxuriance of a tropical climate tends
to improvidence and indolence. Where nature pours her fullness into the
lap of ease, forethought and providence are little needed. There is none
of that struggle for existence which awakens sagacity, and calls into
exercise the active powers of man. But in a country where nature only
yields her fruits as the reward of toil, and yet enough to the
intelligent culture of the soil, there habits of patient industry must
be formed. The alternations of summer and winter excite to forethought
and providence, and the comparative poverty of the soil will prompt to
frugality. Man naturally aspires to improve his condition by all the
means within his power. He becomes a careful observer of nature, he
treasures up the results of observation, he compares one fact with
another and notes their relations, and he makes new experiments to test
his conclusions, and thus he awakes to the vigorous exercise of all his
powers. These physical conditions must develop a hardy, vigorous,
prudent, and temperate race; and such, unquestionably, were the Greeks.
"Theophrastus, and other authors, amply attest the observant and
industrious agriculture prevalent in Greece. The culture of the vine and
olive appears to have been particularly elaborate and the many different
accidents of soil, level, and exposure which were to be found, afforded
to observant planters materials for study and comparison."[21] The
Greeks were frugal in their habits and simple in their modes of life.
The barley loaf seems to have been more generally eaten than the wheaten
loaf; this, with salt fish and vegetables, was the common food of the
population. Economy in domestic life was universal. In their manners,
their dress, their private dwellings, they were little disposed to
ostentation or display.

[Footnote 21: Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. ii. p. 230.]

The climate of Attica is what, in physical geography, would be called
_maritime_. "Here are allied the continental vigor and oceanic softness,
in a fortunate union, mutually tempering each other."[22] The climate of
the whole peninsula of Greece seems to be distinguished from that of
Spain and Italy, by having more of the character of an inland region.
The diversity of local temperature is greater; the extremes of summer
and winter more severe. In Arcadia the snow has been found eighteen
inches thick in January, with the thermometer at 16° Fahrenheit, and it
sometimes lies on the ground for six weeks. The summits of the central
chains of Pindus and most of the Albanian mountains are covered with
snow from the beginning of November to the end of March. In Attica,
which, being freely exposed to the sea, has in some measure an insular
climate, the winter sets in about the beginning of January. About the
middle of that month the snow begins to fall, but seldom remains upon
the plain for more than a few days, though it lies on the summit of the
mountain for a month.[23] And then, whilst Bœotia, which joins to
Attica, is higher and colder, and often covered with dense fogs, Attica
is remarkable for the wonderful transparency, dryness, and elasticity of
its atmosphere. All these climatal conditions exerted, no doubt, a
modifying influence upon the character of the inhabitants.[24] In a
tropical climate man is enfeebled by excessive heat. His natural
tendency is to inaction and repose. His life is passed in a "strenuous
idleness." His intellectual, his reflective faculties are overmastered
by his physical instincts. Passion, sentiment, imagination prevail over
the sober exercises of his reasoning powers. Poetry universally
predominates over philosophy. The whole character of Oriental language,
religion, literature is intensely imaginative. In the frozen regions of
the frigid zone, where a perpetual winter reigns, and where lichens and
mosses are the only forms of vegetable life, man is condemned to the
life of a huntsman, and depends mainly for his subsistence on the
precarious chances of the chase. He is consequently nomadic in his
habits, and barbarous withal. His whole life is spent in the bare
process of procuring a living. He consumes a large amount of oleaginous
food, and breathes a damp heavy atmosphere, and is, consequently, of a
dull phlegmatic temperament. Notwithstanding his uncertain supplies of
food, he is recklessly improvident, and indifferent to all the lessons
of experience. Intellectual pursuits are all precluded. There is no
motive, no opportunity, and indeed no disposition for mental culture.
But in a temperate climate man is stimulated to high mental activity.
The alternations of heat and cold, of summer and of winter, an elastic,
fresh, and bracing atmosphere, a diversity in the aspects of nature,
these develop a vivacity of temperament, a quickness of sensibility as
well as apprehension, and a versatility of feeling as well as genius.
History marks out the temperate zone as the seat of the refined and
cultivated nations.

[Footnote 22: Guyot, "Earth and Man," p. 181.]

[Footnote 23: _Encyc. Brit._, art. "Greece."]

[Footnote 24: The influence of climatic conditions did not escape the
attention of the Greeks. Herodotus, Hippocrates, and Aristotle speak of
the climate of Asia as more enervating than that of Greece. They
regarded the changeful character and diversity of local temperature in
Greece as highly stimulating to the energies of the populations. The
marked contrast between the Athenians and the Bœotians was supposed to
be represented in the light and heavy atmosphere which they respectively
breathed.--_Grote_, vol. ii. pp. 232-3.]

The natural scenery of Greece was of unrivalled grandeur--surpassing
Italy, perhaps every country in the world. It combined in the highest
degree every feature essential to the highest beauty of a landscape
except, perhaps, large rivers. But this was more than compensated for by
the proximity of the sea, which, by its numerous arms, seemed to embrace
the land on nearly every side. Its mountains, encircled with zones of
wood, and capped with snow, though much lower than the Alps, are as
imposing by the suddenness of their elevation--"pillars of heaven, the
fosterers of enduring snows."[25] Rich sheltered plains lie at their
feet, covered with an unequally woven mantle of trees, and shrubs, and
flowers,--"the verdant gloom of the thickly-mantling ivy, the narcissus
steeped in heavenly dew, the golden-beaming crocus, the hardy and
ever-fresh-sprouting olive-tree,"[26] and the luxuriant palm, which
nourishes amid its branches the grape swelling with juice. But it is the
combination of these features, in the most diversified manner, with
beautiful inland bays and seas, broken by headlands, inclosed by
mountains, and studded with islands of every form and magnitude, which
gives to the scenery of Greece its proud pre-eminence. "Greek scenery,"
says Humboldt, "presents the peculiar charm of an intimate blending of
sea and land, of shores adorned with vegetation, or picturesquely girt
with rocks gleaming in the light of aerial tints, and an ocean beautiful
in the play of the ever-changing brightness of its deep-toned wave."[27]
And over all the serene, deep azure skies, occasionally veiled by light
fleecy clouds, with vapory purple mists resting on the distant mountain
tops. This glorious scenery of Greece is evermore the admiration of the
modern traveller. "In wandering about Athens on a sunny day in March,
when the asphodels are blooming on Colones, when the immortal mountains
are folded in a transparent haze, and the Ægean slumbers afar among his
isles," he is reminded of the lines of Byron penned amid these scenes--

[Footnote 25: Pindar.]

[Footnote 26: Sophocles, "Œdipus at Colonna."]

[Footnote 27: "Cosmos," vol. ii. p. 25.]

     "Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild;
     Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields,
     Thine olives ripe as when Minerva smiled,
     And still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields;
     There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
     The freeborn wanderer of the mountain air;
     Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
     Still in his beams Mendeli's marbles glare;
     Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but nature still is fair."[28]

[Footnote 28: Canto ii., v. lxxxvi., "Childe Harold."]

The effect of this scenery upon the character, the imagination, the
taste of the Athenians must have been immense. Under the influence of
such sublime objects, the human mind becomes gifted as with inspiration,
and is by nature filled with poetic images. "Greece became the
birth-place of taste, of art, and eloquence, the chosen sanctuary of the
muses, the prototype of all that is graceful, and dignified, and grand
in sentiment and action."

And now, if we have succeeded in clearly presenting and properly
grouping the facts, and in estimating the influence of geographical
position and surroundings on national character, we have secured the
natural _criteria_ by which we examine, and even correct the portraiture
of the Athenian character usually presented by the historian.

The character of the Athenians has been sketched by Plutarch[29] with
considerable minuteness, and his representations have been permitted,
until of late years, to pass unchallenged. He has described them as at
once passionate and placable, easily moved to anger, and as easily
appeased; fond of pleasantry and repartee, and heartily enjoying a
laugh; pleased to hear themselves praised, and yet not annoyed by
criticism and censure; naturally generous towards those who were poor
and in humble circumstances, and humane even towards their enemies;
jealous of their liberties, and keeping even their rulers in awe. In
regard to their intellectual traits, he affirms their minds were not
formed for laborious research, and though they seized a subject as it
were by intuition, yet wanted patience and perseverance for a thorough
examination of all its bearings. "An observation," says the writer of
the article on "_Attica_," in the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more
superficial in itself, and arguing a greater ignorance of the Athenians,
can not easily be imagined." Plutarch lived more than three hundred
years after the palmy days of the Athenian Demos had passed away. He was
a Bœotian by birth, not an Attic, and more of a Roman than a Greek in
all his sympathies. We are tempted to regard him as writing under the
influence of prejudice, if not of envy. He was scarcely reliable as a
biographer, and as materials for history his "Parallel Lives" have been
pronounced "not altogether trustworthy."[30]

[Footnote 29: "De Præcept."]

[Footnote 30: _Encyc. of Biography_, art. "Plutarch."]

That the Athenians were remarkable for the ardor and vivacity of their
temperament,--that they were liable to sudden gusts of passion,--that
they were inconstant in their affections, intolerant of dictation,
impatient of control, and hasty to resent every assumption of
superiority,--that they were pleased with flattery, and too ready to
lend a willing ear to the adulation of the demagogue,--and that they
were impetuous and brave, yet liable to be excessively elated by
success, and depressed by misfortune, we may readily believe, because
such traits of character are in perfect harmony with all the facts and
conclusions already presented. Such characteristics were the natural
product of the warm and genial sunlight, the elastic bracing air, the
ethereal skies, the glorious mountain scenery, and the elaborate
blending of sea and land, so peculiar to Greece and the whole of
Southern Europe.[31] These characteristics were shared in a greater or
less degree by all the nations of Southern Europe in ancient times, and
they are still distinctive traits in the Frenchman, the Italian, and the
modern Greek.[32]

[Footnote 31: "As the skies of Hellas surpassed nearly all other
climates in brightness and elasticity, so, also, had nature dealt most
lovingly with the inhabitants of this land. Throughout the whole being
of the Greek there reigned supreme a quick susceptibility, out of which
sprang a gladsome serenity of temper, and a keen enjoyment of life;
acute sense, and nimbleness of apprehension; a guileless and child-like
feeling, full of trust and faith, combined with prudence and forecast.
These peculiarities lay so deeply imbedded in the inmost nature of the
Greeks that no revolutions of time and circumstances have yet been able
to destroy them; nay, it may be asserted that even now, after centuries
of degradation, they have not been wholly extinguished in the
inhabitants of ancient Hellas."--"_Education of the Moral Sentiment
amongst the Ancient Greeks_." By FREDERICK JACOBS, p. 320.]

[Footnote 32: These are described by the modern historian and traveller
as lively, versatile, and witty. "The love of liberty and independence
does not seem to be rooted out of the national character by centuries of
subjugation. They love to command; but though they are loyal to a good
government, they are apt readily to rise when their rights and liberties
are infringed. As there is little love of obedience among them, so
neither is there any toleration of aristocratic pretensions."--_Encyc.
Brit._, art. "Greece."]

The consciousness of power, the feeling of independence, the ardent love
of freedom induced in the Athenian mind by the objective freedom of
movement which his geographical position afforded, and that
subordination and subserviency of physical nature to man so peculiar to
Greece, determined the democratic character of all their political
institutions. And these institutions reacted upon the character of the
people and intensified their love of liberty. This passionate love of
personal freedom, amounting almost to disease, excited them to a
constant and almost distressing vigilance. And it is not to be wondered
at if it displayed itself in an extreme jealousy of their rulers, an
incessant supervision and criticism of all their proceedings, and an
intense and passionate hatred of tyrants and of tyranny. The popular
legislator or the successful soldier might dare to encroach upon their
liberties in the moment when the nation was intoxicated and dazzled with
their genius, their prowess, and success; but a sudden revulsion of
popular feeling, and an explosion of popular indignation, would overturn
the one, and ostracism expel the other. Thus while inconstancy, and
turbulence, and faction seem to have been inseparable from the
democratic spirit, the Athenians were certainly constant in their love
of liberty, faithful in their affection for their country,[33] and
invariable in their sympathy and admiration for that genius which shed
glory upon their native land. And then they were ever ready to repair
the errors, and make amends for the injustice committed under the
influence of passionate excitement, or the headlong impetuosity of their
too ardent temperament. The history of Greece supplies numerous
illustrations of this spirit. The sentence of death which had been
hastily passed on the inhabitants of Mytilene was, on sober reflection,
revoked the following day. The immediate repentance and general sorrow
which followed the condemnation of the ten generals, as also of
Socrates, are notable instances.

[Footnote 33: When immense bribes were offered by the king of Persia to
induce the Athenians to detach themselves from the alliance with the
rest of the Hellenic States, she answered by the mouth of Aristides
"that it was impossible for all the gold in the world to tempt the
Republic of Athens, or prevail with it to sell its liberty and that of

In their private life the Athenians were courteous, generous, and
humane. Whilst bold and free in the expression of their opinions, they
paid the greatest attention to rules of politeness, and were nicely
delicate on points of decorum. They had a natural sense of what was
becoming and appropriate, and an innate aversion to all extravagance. A
graceful demeanor and a quiet dignity were distinguishing traits of
Athenian character. They were temperate and frugal[34] in their habits,
and little addicted to ostentation and display. Even after their
victories had brought them into contact with Oriental luxury and
extravagance, and their wealth enabled them to rival, in costliness and
splendor, the nations they had conquered, they still maintained a
republican simplicity. The private dwellings of the principal citizens
were small, and usually built of clay; their interior embellishments
also were insignificant--the house of Polytion alone formed an
exception.[35] All their sumptuousness and magnificence were reserved
for and lavished on their public edifices and monuments of art, which
made Athens the pride of Greece and the wonder of the world.
Intellectually, the Athenians were remarkable for their quickness of
apprehension, their nice and delicate perception, their intuitional
power, and their versatile genius. Nor were they at all incapable of
pursuing laborious researches, or wanting in persevering application and
industry, notwithstanding Plutarch's assertion to the contrary. The
circumstances of every-day life in Attica, the conditions which
surrounded the Athenian from childhood to age, were such as to call for
the exercise of these qualities of mind in the highest degree. Habits of
patient industry were induced in the Athenian character by the poverty
and comparative barrenness of the soil, demanding greater exertion to
supply their natural wants. And an annual period of dormancy, though
unaccompanied by the rigors of a northern winter, called for prudence in
husbanding, and forethought and skill in endeavoring to increase their
natural resources. The aspects of nature were less massive and
awe-inspiring, her features more subdued, and her areas more
circumscribed and broken, inviting and emboldening man to attempt her
conquest. The whole tendency of natural phenomena in Greece was to
restrain the imagination, and discipline the observing and reasoning
faculties in man. Thus was man inspired with confidence in his own
resources, and allured to cherish an inquisitive, analytic, and
scientific spirit. "The French, in point of national character, hold
nearly the same relative place amongst the nations of Europe that the
Athenians held amongst the States of Ancient Greece." And whilst it is
admitted the French are quick, sprightly, vivacious, perhaps sometimes
light even to frivolity, it must be conceded they have cultivated the
natural and exact sciences with a patience, and perseverance, and
success unsurpassed by any of the nations of Europe. And so the
Athenians were the Frenchmen of Greece. Whilst they spent their "leisure
time"[36] in the place of public resort, the porticoes and groves,
"hearing and telling the latest news" (no undignified or improper mode
of recreation in a city where newspapers were unknown), whilst they are
condemned as "garrulous," "frivolous," "full of curiosity," and
"restlessly fond of novelties," we must insist that a love of study, of
patient thought and profound research, was congenial to their natural
temperament, and that an inquisitive and analytic spirit, as well as a
taste for subtile and abstract speculation, were inherent in the
national character. The affluence, and fullness, and flexibility, and
sculpture-like finish of the language of the Attics, which leaves far
behind not only the languages of antiquity, but also the most cultivated
of modern times, is an enduring monument of the patient industry of the
Athenians.[37] Language is unquestionably the highest creation of
reason, and in the language of a nation we can see reflected as in a
mirror the amount of culture to which it has attained. The rare balance
of the imagination and the reasoning powers, in which the perfection of
the human intellect is regarded as consisting, the exact correspondence
between the thought and the expression, "the free music of prosaic
numbers in the most diversified forms of style," the calmness, and
perspicuity, and order, even in the stormiest moments of inspiration,
revealed in every department of Greek literature, were not a mere happy
stroke of chance, but a product of unwearied effort--and effort too
which was directed by the criteria which reason supplied. The plastic
art of Greece, which after the lapse of ages still stands forth in
unrivalled beauty, so that, in presence of the eternal models it
created, the modern artist feels the painful lack of progress was not a
spontaneous outburst of genius, but the result of intense application
and unwearied discipline. The achievements of the philosophic spirit,
the ethical and political systems of the Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa,
and the Garden, the anticipations, scattered here and there like
prophetic hints, of some of the profoundest discoveries of "inductive
science" in more modern days,--all these are an enduring protest against
the strange misrepresentations of Plutarch.

[Footnote 34: These are still characteristics of the Greeks. "They are
an exceedingly temperate people; drunkenness is a vice remarkably rare
amongst them; their food also is spare and simple; even the richest are
content with a dish of vegetables for each meal, and the poor with a
handful of olives or a piece of salt fish.... All other pleasures are
indulged with similar propriety; their passions are moderate, and
insanity is almost unknown amongst them."--_Encyc. Brit._, art.

[Footnote 35: Niebuhr's Lectures, vol. i. p. 101.]

[Footnote 36: Εύκαιρέω corresponds exactly to the Latin _vacare_, "to be
at leisure."]

[Footnote 37: Frederick Jacobs, on "Study of Classic Antiquity," p. 57.]

In Athens there existed a providential collocation of the most favorable
conditions in which humanity can be placed for securing its highest
natural development. Athenian civilization is the solution, on the
theatre of history, of the problem--What degree of perfection can
humanity, under the most favorable conditions, attain, without the
supernatural light, and guidance, and grace of Christianity?[38] "Like
their own goddess Athene the people of Athens seem to spring full-armed
into the arena of history, and we look in vain to Egypt, Syria, and
India, for more than a few seeds that burst into such marvellous growth
on the soil of Attica."[39]

[Footnote 38: It has been asserted by some theological writers, Watson
for example, that no society of civilized men has been, or can be
constituted without the aid of a religion directly communicated by
revelation, and transmitted by oral tradition;--"that it is possible to
raise a body of men into that degree of civil improvement which would
excite the passion for philosophic investigation, without the aid of
religion... can have no proof, and is contradicted by every fact and
analogy with which we are acquainted." (_Institutes_, vol. i. p. 271;
see also Archbishop Whately, "Dissertation," etc., vol. i. _Encyc.
Brit._, p. 449-455).

The fallacy of the reasoning by which this doctrine is sought to be
sustained is found in the assumption "that to all our race the existence
of a First Cause is a question of philosophy," and that the idea of God
lies at the end of "a gradual process of inquiry" and induction, for
which a high degree of "scientific culture" is needed. Whereas the idea
of a First Cause lies at the beginning, not at the end of philosophy;
and philosophy is simply the analysis of our natural consciousness of
God, and the presentation of the idea in a logical form. Faith in the
existence of God is not the result of a conscious process of reflection;
it is the spontaneous and instinctive logic of the human mind, which, in
view of phenomena presented to sense, by a necessary law of thought
immediately and intuitively affirms a personal Power, an intelligent
Mind as the author. In this regard, there is no difference between men
except the clearness with which they apprehend, and the logical account
they can render to themselves, of this instinctive belief. Spontaneous
intuition, says Cousin, is the genius of all men; reflection the genius
of few men. "But Leibnitz had no more confidence in the principle of
causality, and even in his favorite principle of sufficient reason, than
the most ignorant of men;" the latter have this principle within them,
as a law of thought, controlling their conception of the universe, and
doing this almost unconsciously; the former, by an analysis of thought,
succeeded in defining and formulating the ideas and laws which
necessitate the cognition of a God. The function of philosophy is simply
to transform ἀληθὴς δόξα into ίτιστήμη--right opinion into science,--to
elucidate and logically present the immanent thought which lies in the
universal consciousness of man.

That the possession of the idea of God is essential to the social and
moral elevation of man,--that is, to the civilization of our race, is
most cheerfully conceded. That humanity has an end and destination which
can only be secured by the true knowledge of God, and by a participation
of the nature of God, is equally the doctrine of Plato and of Christ.
Now, if humanity has a special end and destination, it must have some
instinctive tendings, some spermatic ideas, some original forces or
laws, which determine it towards that end. All development supposes some
original elements to be unfolded or developed. Civilization is but the
development of humanity according to its primal idea and law, and under
the best exterior conditions. That the original elements of humanity
were unfolded in some noble degree under the influence of philosophy is
clear from the history of Greece; there the most favorable natural
conditions for that development existed, and Christianity alone was
needed to crown the result with ideal perfection.]

[Footnote 39: Max Muller, "Science of Language," p. 404, 2d series.]

Here the most perfect ideals of beauty and excellence in physical
development, in manners, in plastic art, in literary creations, were
realized. The songs of Homer, the dialogues of Plato, the speeches of
Demosthenes, and the statues of Phidias, if not unrivalled, are at least
unsurpassed by any thing that has been achieved by their successors.
Literature in its most flourishing periods has rekindled its torch at
her altars, and art has looked back to the age of Pericles for her
purest models. Here the ideas of personal liberty, of individual rights,
of freedom in thought and action, had a wonderful expansion. Here the
lasting foundations of the principal arts and sciences were laid, and in
some of them triumphs were achieved which have not been eclipsed. Here
the sun of human reason attained a meridian splendor, and illuminated
every field in the domain of moral truth. And here humanity reached the
highest degree of civilization of which it is capable under purely
_natural_ conditions.

And now, the question with which we are more immediately concerned is,
what were the specific and valuable results attained by the Athenian
mind in _religion_ and _philosophy_, the two momenta of the human mind?
This will be the subject of discussion in subsequent chapters.

The order in which the discussion shall proceed is determined for us by
the natural development of thought. The two fundamental momenta of
thought and its development are spontaneity and reflection, and the two
essential forms they assume are religion and philosophy. In the natural
order of thought spontaneity is first, and reflection succeeds
spontaneous thought. And so religion is first developed, and
subsequently comes philosophy. As religion supposes spontaneous
intuition, so philosophy has religion for its basis, but upon this basis
it is developed in an original manner. "Turn your attention to history,
that living image of thought: everywhere you perceive religions and
philosophies: everywhere you see them produced in an invariable order.
Everywhere religion appears with new societies, and everywhere, just so
far as societies advance, from religion springs philosophy."[40] This
was pre-eminently the case in Athens, and we shall therefore direct our
attention first to the Religion of the Athenians.

[Footnote 40: Cousin, "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 302.]



      All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness
      in religion δεισιδαιμονεστέροις.--ST. PAUL.

As a prelude and preparation for the study of the religion of the
Athenians, it may be well to consider religion in its more abstract and
universal form; and inquire in what does religion essentially consist;
how far is it grounded in the nature of man; and especially, what is
there in the mental constitution of man, or in his exterior conditions,
which determines him to a mode of life which may be denominated
_religious?_ As a preliminary inquiry, this may materially aid us in
understanding the nature, and estimating the value of the religious
conceptions and sentiments which were developed by the Greek mind.

Religion, in its most generic conception, may be defined as a form of
thought, feeling, and action, which has the _Divine_ for its object,
basis, and end. Or, in other words, it is a mode of life determined by
the recognition of some relation to, and consciousness of dependence
upon, a _Supreme Being_. This general conception of religion underlies
all the specific forms of religion which have appeared in the world,
whether heathen, Jewish, Mohammedan, or Christian.

That a religious destination appertains to man as man, whether he has
been raised to a full religious consciousness, or is simply considered
as capable of being so raised, can not be denied. In all ages man has
revealed an instinctive tendency, or natural aptitude for religion, and
he has developed feelings and emotions which have always characterized
him as a religious being. Religious ideas and sentiments have prevailed
among all nations, and have exerted a powerful influence on the entire
course of human history. Religious worship, addressed to a Supreme Being
believed to control the destiny of man, has been coeval and coextensive
with the race. Every nation has had its mythology, and each mythologic
system has been simply an effort of humanity to realize and embody in
some visible form the relations in which it feels itself to be connected
with an external, overshadowing, and all-controlling Power and Presence.
The voice of all ancient, and all contemporaneous history, clearly
attests that the _religious principle_ is deeply seated in the nature of
man; and that it has occupied the thought, and stirred the feelings of
every rational man, in every age. It has interwoven itself with the
entire framework of human society, and ramified into all the relations
of human life. By its agency, nations have been revolutionized, and
empires have been overthrown; and it has formed a mighty element in all
the changes which have marked the history of man.

This universality of religious sentiment and religious worship must be
conceded as a fact of human nature, and, as a universal fact, it demands
an explanation. Every event must have a cause. Every phenomenon must
have its ground, and reason, and law. The facts of religious history,
the past and present religious phenomena of the world can be no
exception to this fundamental principle; they press their imperious
demand to be studied and explained, as much as the phenomena of the
material or the events of the moral world. The phenomena of religion,
being universally revealed wherever man is found, must be grounded in
some universal principle, on some original law, which is connate with,
and natural to man. At any rate, there must be something in the nature
of man, or in the exterior conditions of humanity, which invariably
leads man to worship, and which determines him, as by the force of an
original instinct, or an outward, conditioning necessity, to recognize
and bow down before a Superior Power. The full recognition and adequate
explanation of the facts of religious history will constitute a
_philosophy of religion_.

The hypotheses which have been offered in explanation of the religious
phenomena of the world are widely divergent, and most of them are, in
our judgment, eminently inadequate and unsatisfactory. The following
enumeration may be regarded as embracing all that are deemed worthy of

I. The phenomenon of religion had its origin in SUPERSTITION, that is,
in a _fear_ of invisible and supernatural powers, generated by ignorance
of nature.

II. The phenomenon of religion is part of that PROCESS or EVOLUTION OF
THE ABSOLUTE (i.e., the Deity), which gradually unfolding itself in
nature, mind, history, and _religion_, attains to perfect
self-consciousness in philosophy.

III. The phenomenon of religion has its foundation in FEELING--_the
feeling of dependence and of obligation_; and that to which the mind, by
spontaneous intuition or instinctive faith, traces this dependence and
obligation we call God.

IV. The phenomenon of religion had its outbirth in the spontaneous
apperceptions of REASON, that is, the necessary _à priori ideas of the
Infinite, the Perfect, the Unconditioned Cause, the Eternal Being_,
which are evoked into consciousness in presence of the changeful and
contingent phenomena of the world.

V. The phenomenon of religion had its origin in EXTERNAL REVELATION, to
which _reason_ is related as a purely passive organ, and _heathenism_ as
a feeble relic.

As a philosophy of religion--an attempt to supply the rationale of the
religious phenomena of the world, the first hypothesis is a skeptical
philosophy, which necessarily leads to _Atheism_. The second is an
idealistic philosophy (absolute idealism), which inevitably lands in
_Pantheism_. The third is an intuitional or "faith-philosophy," which
finally ends in _Mysticism_. The fourth is a rationalistic or
"spiritualistic" philosophy, which yields pure _Theism_. The last is an
empirical philosophy, which derives all religion from instruction, and
culminates in _Dogmatic Theology_.

In view of these diverse and conflicting theories, the question which
now presents itself for our consideration is,--does any one of these
hypotheses meet and satisfy the demands of the problem? does it fully
account for and adequately explain all the facts of religious history?
The answer to this question must not be hastily or dogmatically given.
The arbitrary rejection of any theory that may be offered, without a
fair and candid examination, will leave our minds in uncertainty and
doubt as to the validity of our own position. A blind faith is only one
remove from a pusillanimous skepticism. We can not render our own
position secure except by comprehending, assaulting, and capturing the
position of our foe. It is, therefore, due to ourselves and to the cause
of truth, that we shall examine the evidence upon which each separate
theory is based, and the arguments which are marshalled in its support,
before we pronounce it inadequate and unphilosophical. Such a criticism
of opposite theories will prepare the way for the presentation of a
philosophy of religion which we flatter ourselves will be found most in
harmony with all the facts of the case.

I. _It is affirmed that the religious phenomena of the world had their
origin in_ SUPERSTITION, _that is, in a fear of unseen and supernatural
powers, generated from ignorance of nature_.

This explanation was first offered by Epicurus. He felt that the
universality of the religious sentiment is a fact which demands a cause;
and he found it, or presumed he found it not in a spiritual God, which
he claims can not exist, nor in corporeal god which no one has seen, but
in "phantoms of the mind generated by fear." When man has been unable to
explain any natural phenomenon, to assign a cause within the sphere of
nature, he has had recourse to supernatural powers, or living
personalities behind nature, which move and control nature in an
arbitrary and capricious manner. These imaginary powers are supposed to
be continually interfering in the affairs of individuals and nations.
They bestow blessings or inflict calamities. They reward virtue and
punish vice. They are, therefore, the objects of "sacred awe" and
"superstitious fear."

                           Whate'er in heaven,
     In earth, man sees mysterious, shakes his mind
     With sacred awe o'erwhelms him, and his soul
     Bows to the dust; the cause of things conceal
     Once from his vision, instant to the gods
     All empire he transfers, all rule supreme,
     And doubtful whence they spring, with headlong haste
     Calls them the workmanship of power divine.
     For he who, justly, deems the Immortals live
     Safe, and at ease, yet fluctuates in his mind
     How things are swayed; how, chiefly, those discerned
     In heaven sublime--to SUPERSTITION back
     Lapses, and fears a tyrant host, and then
     Conceives, dull reasoner, they can all things do,
     While yet himself nor knows what may be done,
     Nor what may never, nature powers defined
     Stamping on all, and bounds that none can pass:
     Hence wide, and wider errs he as he walks.[41]

[Footnote 41: Lucretius, "De Natura Rerum," book vi. vs. 50-70.]

In order to rid men of all superstitious fear, and, consequently, of all
religion, Epicurus endeavors to show that "nature" alone is adequate to
the production of all things, and there is no need to drag in a "divine
power" to explain the phenomena of the world.

This theory has been wrought into a somewhat plausible form by the
brilliant and imposing generalizations of Aug. Comte. The religious
phenomena of the world are simply one stage in the necessary development
of mind, whether in the individual or the race. He claims to have been
the first to discover the great law of the three successive stages or
phases of human evolution. That law is thus enounced. Both in the
individual mind, and in the history of humanity, thought, in dealing
with its problems, passes, of necessity, through, first, a
_Theological_, second, a _Metaphysical_, and finally reaches a third, or
_Positive_ stage.

In attempting an explanation of the universe, human thought, in its
earliest stages of development, resorts to the idea of living personal
agents enshrined in and moving every object, whether organic or
inorganic, natural or artificial. In an advanced stage, it conceives a
number of personal beings distinct from, and superior to nature, which
preside over the different provinces of nature--the sea, the air, the
winds, the rivers, the heavenly bodies, and assume the guardianship of
individuals, tribes, and nations. As a further, and still higher stage,
it asserts the unity of the Supreme Power which moves and vitalizes the
universe, and guides and governs in the affairs of men and nations. The
_Theological_ stage is thus subdivided into three epochs, and
represented as commencing in _Fetichism_, then advancing to
_Polytheism_, and, finally, consummating in _Monotheism_.

The next stage, the _Metaphysical_, is a transitional stage, in which
man substitutes abstract entities, as substance, force, Being _in se_,
the Infinite, the Absolute, in the place of theological conceptions.
During this period all theological opinions undergo a process of
disintegration, and lose their hold on the mind of man. Metaphysical
speculation is a powerful solvent, which decomposes and dissipates

It is only in the last--the _Positive_ stage--that man becomes willing
to relinquish all theological ideas and metaphysical notions, and
confine his attention to the study of phenomena in their relation to
time and space; discarding all inquiries as to causes, whether efficient
or final, and denying the existence of all entities and powers beyond

The first stage, in its religious phase, is _Theistic_, the second is
_Pantheistic_, the last is _Atheistic_.

The proofs offered by Comte in support of this theory are derived:

I. _From Cerebral Organization_. There are three grand divisions of the
Brain, the Medulla Oblongata, the Cerebellum, and the Cerebrum; the
first represents the merely animal instincts the second, the more
elevated sentiments, the third, the intellectual powers. Human nature
must, therefore, both in the individual and in the race, be developed in
the following order: (1.) in animal instincts; (2.) in social affections
and communal tendencies; (3.) in intellectual pursuits. Infant life is a
merely animal existence, shared in common with the brute; in childhood
the individual being realizes his relation to external nature and human
society; in youth and manhood he compares, generalizes, and classifies
the objects of knowledge, and attains to science. And so the infancy of
our race was a mere animal or savage state, the childhood of our race
the organization of society, the youth and manhood of our race the
development of science.

Now, without offering any opinion as to the merits of the phrenological
theories of Gall and Spurzheim, we may ask, what relation has this order
to the law of development presented by Comte? Is there any imaginable
connection between animal propensities and theological ideas; between
social affections and metaphysical speculations? Are not the
intellectual powers as much concerned with theological ideas and
metaphysical speculations as with positive science? And is it not more
probable, more in accordance with facts, that all the powers of the
mind, instinct, feeling, and thought, enter into action simultaneously,
and condition each other? The very first act of perception, the first
distinct cognition of an object, involves _thought_ as much as the last
generalization of science. We know nothing of _mind_ except as the
development of thought, and the first unfolding, even of the infant
mind, reveals an intellectual act, a discrimination between a self and
an object which is not self, and a recognition of resemblance, or
difference between _this_ object and _that_. And what does Positive
science, in its most mature and perfect form, claim to do more than "to
study actual phenomena in their orders of resemblance, coexistence, and

Cerebral organization may furnish plausible analogies in favor of some
theory of human development, but certainly not the one proposed by Aug.
Comte. The attempt, however, to construct a chart of human history on
such an _à priori_ method,--to construct an ideal framework into which
human nature must necessarily grow, is a violation of the first and most
fundamental principle of the Positive science, which demands that we
shall confine ourselves strictly to the study of actual phenomena in
their orders of resemblance, coexistence, and succession. The history of
the human race must be based on facts, not on hypotheses, and the facts
must be ascertained by the study of ancient records and existing
monuments of the past. Mere plausible analogies and _à priori_ theories
based upon them, are only fitted to mislead the mind; they insert a
prism between the perceiving mind and the course of events which
decomposes the pure white light of fact, and throws a false light over
the entire field of history.

2. _The second order of proof is attempted to be drawn from the
analogies of individual experience_.

It is claimed that the history of the race is the same as that of each
individual mind; and it is affirmed that man is _religious_ in infancy,
_metaphysical_ in youth, and _positive_, that is, scientific without
being religious, in mature manhood; the history of the race must
therefore have followed the same order.

We are under no necessity of denying that there is some analogy between
the development of mind in the individual man, and in humanity as a
whole, in order to refute the theory of Comte. Still, it must not be
overlooked that the development of mind, in all cases and in all ages,
is materially affected by exterior conditions. The influence of
geographical and climatic conditions, of social and national
institutions, and especially of education, however difficult to be
estimated, can not be utterly disregarded. And whether all these
influences have not been controlled, and collocated, and adjusted by a
Supreme Mind in the education of humanity, is also a question which can
not be pushed aside as of no consequence. Now, unless it can be shown
that the same outward conditions which have accompanied the individual
and modified his mental development, have been repealed in the history
of the race, and repeated in the same order of succession, the argument
has no value.

But, even supposing it could be shown that the development of mind in
humanity has followed the same order as that of the individual, we
confidently affirm that Comte has not given the true history of the
development of the individual mind. The account he has given may perhaps
be the history of his own mental progress, but it certainly is not the
history of every individual mind, nor indeed, of a majority even, of
educated minds that have arrived at maturity. It would be much more in
harmony with facts to say childhood is the period of pure receptivity,
youth of doubt and skepticism, and maturity of well-grounded and
rational belief. In the ripeness and maturity of the nineteenth century
the number of scientific men of the Comtean model is exceedingly small
compared with the number of religious men. There are minds in every part
of Europe and America as thoroughly scientific as that of Comte, and as
deeply imbued with the spirit of the Inductive Philosophy, which are not
conscious of any discordance between the facts of science and the
fundamental principles of theology. It may be that, in his own immediate
circle at Paris there may be a tendency to Atheism, but certainly no
such tendency exists in the most scientific minds of Europe and America.
The faith of Bacon, and Newton, and Boyle, of Descartes, Leibnitz, and
Pascal, in regard to the fundamental principles of theology, is still
the faith of Sedgwick, Whewell, Herschel, Brewster, Owen, Agassiz,
Silliman, Mitchell, Hitchcock, Dana, and, indeed of the leading
scientific minds of the world--the men who, as Comte would say, "belong
to the élite of humanity." The mature mind, whether of the individual or
the race, is not Atheistical.

3. _The third proof is drawn from a survey of the history of certain
portions of our race._

Comte is far from being assured that the progress of humanity, under the
operation of his grand law of development, has been uniform and
invariable. The majority of the human race, the vast populations of
India, China, and Japan, have remained stationary; they are still in the
Theological stage, and consequently furnish no evidence in support of
his theory. For this reason he confines himself to the "élite" or
advance-guard of humanity, and in this way makes the history of humanity
a very "abstract history" indeed. Starting with Greece as the
representative of ancient civilization, passing thence to Roman
civilization, and onward to Western Europe, he attempts to show that the
actual progress of humanity has been, on the whole, in conformity with
his law. To secure, however, even this semblance of harmony between the
facts of history and his hypothetical law, he has to treat the facts
very much as Procrustes treated his victims,--he must stretch some, and
mutilate others, so as to make their forms fit the iron bed. The natural
organization of European civilization is distorted and torn asunder. "As
the third or positive stage had accomplished its advent in his own
person, it was necessary to find the metaphysical period just before;
and so the whole life of the Reformed Christianity, in embryo and in
manifest existence, is stripped of its garb of _faith_, and turned out
of view as a naked metaphysical phenomenon. But metaphysics, again, have
to be ushered in by theology; and of the three stages of theology
Monotheism is the last, necessarily following on Polytheism, as that,
again, on Fetichism. There is nothing for it, therefore, but to let the
mediæval Catholic Christianity stand as the world's first monotheism,
and to treat it as the legitimate offspring and necessary development of
the Greek and Roman polytheism. This, accordingly, Comte actually does.
Protestantism he illegitimates, and outlaws from religion altogether,
and the genuine Christianity he fathers upon the faith of Homer and the
Scipios! Once or twice, indeed, it seems to cross him that there was
such a people as the Hebrews, and that they were not the polytheists
they ought to have been. He sees the fact, but pushes it out of his way
with the remark that the Jewish monotheism was 'premature.'"[42]

[Footnote 42: Martineau's Essays, pp. 61, 62.]

The signal defect of Comte's historical survey, however, is, that it
furnishes no evidence of the general prevalence of Fetichism in
primitive times. The writings of Moses are certainly entitled to as much
consideration and credence as the writings of Berosus, Manetho, and
Herodotus; and, it will not be denied, they teach that the faith of the
earliest families and races of men was _monotheistic_. The early Vedas,
the Institutes of Menu, the writings of Confucius, the Zendavesta, all
bear testimony that the ancient faith of India, China, and Persia, was,
at any rate, pantheistic; and learned and trustworthy critics, Asiatic
as well as European, confidently affirm that the ground of the
Brahminical, Buddhist, and Parsist faith is _monotheistic_; and that
_one_ Being is assumed, in the earliest books, to be the origin of all
things.[43] Without evidence, Comte assumes that the savage state is the
original condition of man; and instead of going to Asia, the cradle of
the race, for some light as to the early condition and opinions of the
remotest families of men, he turns to Africa, the _soudan_ of the earth,
for his illustration of the habit of man, in the infancy of our race, to
endow every object in nature, whether organic or inorganic, with life
and intelligence. The theory of a primitive state of ignorance and
barbarism is a mere assumption--an hypothesis in conflict with the
traditionary legends of all nations, the earliest records of our race,
and the unanimous voice of antiquity, which attest the general belief in
a primitive state of light and innocence.

[Footnote 43: "The Religions of the World in their Relation to
Christianity" (Maurice, ch. ii., iii., iv.).]

The three stages of development which Comte describes as necessarily
successive, have, for centuries past, been simultaneous. The
theological, the metaphysical, and the scientific elements coexist now,
and there is no real, radical, or necessary conflict between them.
Theological and metaphysical ideas hold their ground as securely under
the influence of enlarged scientific discovery as before; and there is
no reason to suppose they ever had more power over the mind of man than
they have to-day. The notion that God is dethroned by the wonderful
discoveries of modern science, and theology is dead, is the dream of the
"_profond orage cérébral_" which interrupted the course of Comte's
lectures in 1826. As easily may the hand of Positivism arrest the course
of the sun, as prevent the instinctive thought of human reason
recognizing and affirming the existence of a God. And so long as ever
the human mind is governed by necessary laws of thought, so long will it

[Transcriber's note: In the original document, page 64 is a duplication
of page 63. The real page 64 seems to be missing.]

....eur, and consequently to develop its true philosophy. Its
fundamental error is the assumption that all our knowledge is confined
to the observation and classification of sensible phenomena--that is, to
changes perceptible by the senses. Psychology, based, as it is, upon
self-observation and self-reflection, is a "mere illusion; and logic and
ethics, so far as they are built upon it as their foundation, are
altogether baseless." Spiritual entities, forces, causes, efficient or
final, are unknown and unknowable; all inquiry regarding them must be
inhibited, "for Theology is inevitable if we permit the inquiry into
causes at all."

II. The second hypothesis offered in explanation of the facts of
religious history is, _that religion is part of that_ PROCESS OR
EVOLUTION OF THE ABSOLUTE (_i.e._, the Deity) _which, gradually
unfolding itself in nature, mind, history, and religion, attains to the
fullest self-consciousness in philosophy_.

This is the theory of Hegel, in whose system of philosophy the
subjective idealism of Kant culminates in the doctrine of "_Absolute
Identity_." Its fundamental position is that thought and being, subject
and object, the perceiving mind and the thing perceived, are ultimately
and essentially _one_, and that the only actual reality is that which
results from their mutual relation. The outward thing is nothing, the
inward perception is nothing, for neither could exist alone; the only
reality is the relation, or rather synthesis of the two; the essence or
nature of being in itself accordingly consists in the coexistence of two
contrarieties. Ideas, arising from the union or synthesis of two
opposites, are therefore the _concrete realities_ of Hegel; and the
_process_ of the evolution of ideas, in the human mind, is the process
of all existence--_the Absolute Idea_.

_The Absolute_(die Idée) thus forms the beginning, middle, and end of
the system of Hegel. It is the one infinite existence or thought, of
which nature, mind, history, religion, and philosophy, are the
manifestation. "The absolute is, with him, not the infinite _substance_,
as with Spinoza; nor the infinite _subject_, as with Fichte; nor the
infinite _mind_, as with Schelling; it is a perpetual _process_, an
eternal thinking, without beginning and without end."[44] This _living,
eternal process of absolute existence is the God of Hegel_.

It will thus be seen that the _Absolute_ is, with Hegel, the sum of all
actual and possible existence; "nothing is true and real except so far
as it forms an element of the Absolute Spirit."[45] "What kind of an
Absolute Being," he asks, "is that which does not contain in itself all
that is actual, even evil included?"[46] The Absolute, therefore, in
Hegel's conception, does not allow of any existence out of itself. It is
the _unity_ of the finite and the infinite, the eternal and the
temporal, the ideal and the real, the subject and the object. And it is
not only the unity of these opposites so as to exclude all difference,
but it contains in itself, all the differences and opposites as elements
of its being; otherwise the distinctions would stand over against
absolute as a limit, and the absolute would cease to be absolute.

God is, therefore, according to Hegel, "no motionless, eternally
self-identical and unchangeable being, but a living, eternal _process_
of absolute self-existence. This process consists in the eternal
self-distinction, or antithesis, and equally self-reconciliation or
synthesis of those opposites which enter, as necessary elements, into
the constitution of the Divine Being. This _self-evolution_, whereby the
absolute enters into antithesis, and returns to itself again, is the
eternal _self-actualization_ of its being, and which at once constitutes
the beginning, middle, and end, as in the circle, where the beginning is
at the same time the end, and the end the beginning."[47]

[Footnote 44: Morell, "Hist, of Philos., p. 461."]

[Footnote 45: "Philos. of Religion," p. 204.]

[Footnote 46: Ibid., chap. xi. p. 24.]

[Footnote 47: Herzog's _Real-Encyc._, art. "Hegelian Philos.," by

The whole philosophy of Hegel consists in the development of this idea
of God by means of his, so-called, dialectic method, which reflects the
objective life-process of the Absolute, and is, in fact, identical with
it; for God, says he, "is only the Absolute Intelligence in so far as he
knows himself to be the Absolute Intelligence, _and this he knows only
in science_ [dialectics], _and this knowledge alone constitutes his true
existence._"[48] This life-process of the Absolute has three "moments."
It may be considered as the idea _in itself_--bare, naked, undetermined,
unconscious idea; as the idea _out of itself_, in its objective form, or
in its differentiation; and, finally, as the idea _in itself_, and _for
itself_, in its regressive or reflective form. This movement of thought
gives, _first_, bare, naked, indeterminate thought, or thought in the
mere antithesis of Being and non-Being; _secondly_, thought
externalizing itself in nature; and, _thirdly_, thought returning to
itself, and knowing itself in mind, or consciousness. Philosophy has,
accordingly, three corresponding divisions:--1. LOGIC, which here is
identical with metaphysics; 2. PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE; 3. PHILOSOPHY OF

[Footnote 48: "Hist, of Philos.," iii. p. 399.]

It is beyond our design to present an expanded view of the entire
philosophy of Hegel. But as he has given to the world a _new_ logic, it
may be needful to glance at its general features as a help to the
comprehension of his philosophy of religion. The fundamental law of his
logic is the _identity of contraries or contradictions_. All thought is
a synthesis of contraries or opposites. This antithesis not only exists
in all ideas, but constitutes them. In every idea we form, there must be
_two_ things opposed and distinguished, in order to afford a clear
conception. Light can not be conceived but as the opposite of darkness;
good can not be thought except in opposition to evil. All life, all
reality is thus, essentially, the union of two elements, which,
together, are mutually opposed to, and yet imply each other.

The identity of Being and Nothing is one of the consequences of this

1. _The Absolute is the Being_ (das Absolute ist das Seyn), and "the
Being" is here, according to Hegel, bare, naked, abstract,
undistinguished, indeterminate, unconscious idea.

2. _The Absolute is the Nothing_ (das Absolute ist das Nichts). "Pure
being is pure abstraction, and consequently the absolute-negative, which
in like manner, directly taken, is _nothing_." Being and Nothing are the
positive and negative poles of the Idea, that is, the Absolute. They
both alike exist, they are both pure abstractions, both absolutely
unconditioned, without attributes, and without consciousness. Hence
follows the conclusion--

3. _Being and Nothing are identical_ (das Seyn und das Nichts ist
dasselbe), Being is non-Being. Non-Being _is_ Being--the
Anders-seyn--which becomes _as_ Being to the Seyn. Nothing is, in some
sense, an actual thing.

_Being_ and _Nothing_ are thus the two elements which enter into the one
Absolute Idea as contradictories, and both together combine to form a
complete notion of bare production, or the _becoming_ of something out
of nothing,--the unfolding of real existence in its lowest form, that
is, of _nature_.

The "_Philosophy of Nature_" exhibits a series of necessary movements
which carry the idea forward in the ascending scale of sensible
existence. The laws of mechanics, chemistry, and physiology are resolved
into a series of oppositions. But the law which governs this development
requires the self-reconciliation of these opposites. The idea,
therefore, which in nature was unconscious and ignorant of itself,
returns upon itself, and becomes conscious of itself, that is, becomes
_mind_. The science of the regression or self-reflection of the idea, is
the "_Philosophy of Mind_."

The "_Philosophy of Mind_" is subdivided by Hegel into three parts.
There is, first, the subjective or individual mind (_psychology_); then
the objective or universal mind, as represented in society, the state,
and in history (_ethics, political philosophy,_ or _jurisprudence_, and
_philosophy of history_); and, finally, the union of the subjective and
objective mind, or _the absolute mind_. This last manifests itself again
under three forms, representing the three degrees of the
self-consciousness of the Spirit, as the eternal truth. These are,
first, _art_, or the representation of beauty (æsthetics); secondly,
_religion_, in the general acceptation of the term (philosophy of
religion); and, thirdly, _philosophy_ itself, as the purest and most
perfect form of the scientific knowledge of truth. All historical
religions, the Oriental, the Jewish, the Greek, the Roman, and the
Christian, are _the successive stages in the development or
self-actualization of God_.[49]

It is unnecessary to indicate to the reader that the philosophy of Hegel
is essentially pantheistic. "God is not a _person_, but personality
itself, _i.e._, the universal personality, which realizes itself in
every human consciousness, as so many separate thoughts of one eternal
mind. The idea we form of the absolute is, to Hegel, the absolute
itself, its essential existence being identical with our conception of
it. Apart from, and out of the world, there is no God; and so also,
apart from the universal consciousness of man, there is no Divine
consciousness or personality."[50]

[Footnote 49: See art. "Hegelian Philosophy," in Herzog's _Real-Encyc._,
from whence our materials are chiefly drawn.]

[Footnote 50: Morell, "Hist. of Philos.," p. 473.]

This whole conception of religion, however, is false, and conflicts with
the actual facts of man's religious nature and religious history. If the
word "religion" has any meaning at all, it is "a mode of life determined
by the consciousness of dependence upon, and obligation to God." It is
reverence for, gratitude to, and worship of God as a being distinct from
humanity. But in the philosophy of Hegel religion is a part of God--a
stage in the development or self-actualization of God. Viewed under one
aspect, religion is the self-adoration of God--the worship of God by
God; under another aspect it is the worship of humanity, since God only
becomes conscious of himself in humanity. The fundamental fallacy is
that upon which his entire method proceeds, viz., "the identity of
subject and object, being and thought." Against this false position the
consciousness of each individual man, and the universal consciousness of
our race, as revealed in history, alike protest. If thought and being
are identical, then whatever is true of ideas is also true of objects,
and then, as Kant had before remarked, there is no difference between
_thinking_ we possess a hundred dollars, and actually _possessing_ them.
Such absurdities may be rendered plausible by a logic which asserts the
"identity of contradictions," but against such logic common sense
rebels. "The law of non-contradiction" has been accepted by all
logicians, from the days of Aristotle, as a fundamental law of thought.
"Whatever is contradictory is unthinkable. A=not A=O, or A--A=O."[51]
Non-existence can not exist. Being can not be nothing.

[Footnote 51: Hamilton's Logic, p. 58.]

III. The third hypothesis affirms _that the phenomenon of religion has
its foundation in_ FEELING--_the feeling of dependence and of
obligation_; and that to which the mind, by spontaneous intuition of
instinctive faith, traces that dependence and obligation we call God.

This, with some slight modification in each case, consequent upon the
differences in their philosophic systems, is the theory of Jacobi,
Schleiermacher, Nitzsch, Mansel, and probably Hamilton. Its fundamental
position is, that we can not gain truth with absolute certainty either
from sense or reason, and, consequently, the only valid source of real
knowledge is _feeling--faith, intuition_, or, as it is called by some,

There have been those, in all ages, who have made all knowledge of
invisible, supersensuous, divine things, to rest upon an internal
_feeling_, or immediate, inward vision. The Oriental Mystics, the
Neo-Platonists, the Mystics of the Greek and Latin Church, the German
Mystics of the 14th century, the Theosophists of the Reformation, the
Quietists of France, the Quakers, have all appealed to some _special_
faculty, distinct from the understanding and reason, for the immediate
cognition of invisible and spiritual existences. By some, that special
faculty was regarded as an "interior eye" which was illuminated by the
"Universal Light;" by others, as a peculiar sensibility of the soul--a
_feeling_ in whose perfect calm and utter quiescence the Divinity was
mirrored; or which, in an ecstatic state, rose to a communion with, and
final absorption in the Infinite.

Jacobi was the first, in modern times, to give the "faith-philosophy,"
as it is now designated, a definite form. He assumes the position that
all knowledge, of whatever kind, must ultimately rest upon intuition or
faith. As it regards sensible objects, the understanding finds the
impression from which all our knowledge of the external flows, ready
formed. The process of sensation is a mystery; we know nothing of it
until it is past, and the feeling it produces is present. Our knowledge
of matter, therefore, rests upon faith in these intuitions. We can not
doubt that the feeling has an objective cause. In every act of
perception there is something actual and present, which can not be
referred to a mere subjective law of thought. We are also conscious of
another class of feelings which correlate us with a supersensuous world,
and these feelings, also, must have their cause in some objective
reality. Just as sensation gives us an immediate knowledge of an
external world, so there is an internal sense which gives us an
immediate knowledge of a spiritual world--God, the soul, freedom,
immortality. Our knowledge of the invisible world, like our knowledge of
the visible world, is grounded upon faith in our intuitions. All
philosophic knowledge is thus based upon _belief_, which Jacobi regards
as a fact of our inward sensibility--a sort of knowledge produced by an
immediate _feeling_ of the soul--a direct apprehension, without proof,
of the True, the Supersensuous, the Eternal.

Jacobi prepared the way for, and was soon eclipsed by the deservedly
greater name of Schleiermacher. His fundamental position was that truth
in Theology could not be obtained by reason, but by a feeling,
_insight_, or intuition, which in its lowest form he called
_God-consciousness_, and in its highest form, _Christian-consciousness._
The God-consciousness, in its original form, is the _feeling of
dependence_ on the Infinite. The Christian consciousness is the perfect
union of the human consciousness with the Divine, through the mediation
of Christ, or what we would call a Christian experience of communion
with God.

Rightly to understand the position of Schleiermacher we must take
account of his doctrine of _self_-consciousness. "In all
self-consciousness," says he, "there are two elements, a Being ein Seyn,
and a Somehow-having-become (Irgendweigewordenseyn). The last, however,
presupposes, for every self-consciousness, besides the ego, yet
something else from whence the certainty of the same
[self-consciousness] exists, and without which self-consciousness would
not be just this."[52] Every determinate mode of the sensibility
supposes an _object_, and a _relation_ between the subject and the
object, the subjective feeling deriving its determinations from the
object. External sensation, the feeling, say of extension and
resistance, gives world-consciousness. Internal sensation, the _feeling
of dependence_, gives God consciousness. And it is only by the presence
of world consciousness and God-consciousness that self consciousness can
be what it is.

We have, then, in our self-consciousness a _feeling of direct
dependence_, and that to which our minds instinctively trace that
dependence we call God. "By means of the religious feeling, the Primal
Cause is revealed in us, as in perception, the things external, are
revealed in us."[53] The _felt_, therefore, is not only the first
religious sense, but the ruling, abiding, and perfect form of the
religious spirit; whatever lays any claim to religion must maintain its
ground and principle in _feeling_, upon which it depends for its
development; and the sum-total of the forces constituting religious
life, inasmuch as it is a _life_, is based upon immediate

[Footnote 52: Glaubenslehre, ch. i. § 4.]

[Footnote 53: Dialectic, p. 430.]

[Footnote 54: Nitzsch, "System of Doctrine," p. 23.]

The doctrine of Schleiermacher is somewhat modified by Mansel, in his
"_Limits of Religious Thought_." He maintains, with Schleiermacher, that
religion is grounded in _feeling_, and that the _felt_ is the first
intimation or presentiment of the Divine. Man "_feels_ within him the
consciousness of a Supreme Being, and the instinct to worship, before he
can argue from effects to causes, or estimate the traces of wisdom and
benevolence scattered through the creation."[55] He also agrees with
Schleiermacher in regarding the _feeling of dependence_ as _a_ state of
the sensibility, out of which reflection builds up the edifice of
Religious Consciousness, but he does not, with Schleiermacher, regard it
as pre-eminently _the_ basis of religious consciousness. "The mere
consciousness of dependence does not, of itself, exhibit the character
of the Being on whom we depend. It is as consistent with superstition as
with religion; with the belief in a malevolent, as in a benevolent
Deity."[56] To the feeling of dependence he has added the _consciousness
of moral obligation_, which he imagines supplies the deficiency. By this
consciousness of moral obligation "we are compelled to assume the
existence of a moral Deity, and to regard the absolute standard of right
and wrong as constituted by the nature of that Deity."[57] "To these two
facts of the inner consciousness the feeling of dependence, and
consciousness of moral obligation may be traced, as to their sources,
the two great outward acts by which religion, in its various forms, has
been manifested among men--_Prayer_, by which they seek to win God's
blessing upon the future, and _Expiation_, by which they strive to atone
for the offenses of the past. The feeling of dependence is the instinct
which urges us to pray. It is the feeling that our existence and welfare
are in the hands of a superior power; not an inexorable fate, not an
immutable law; but a Being having at least so far the attribute of
personality that he can show favor or severity to those who are
dependent upon Him, and can be regarded by them with feelings of hope
and fear, and reverence and gratitude."[58] The feeling of moral
obligation--"the law written in the heart"--leads man to recognize a
Lawgiver. "Man can be a law unto himself only on the supposition that he
reflects in himself the law of God."[59] The conclusion from the whole
is, there must be an _object_ answering to this consciousness: there
must be a God to explain these facts of the soul.

[Footnote 55: Mansel, "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 115.]

[Footnote 56: Id., ib., p. 120.]

[Footnote 57: Id., ib., p. 122.]

[Footnote 58: Id., ib., pp. 119, 120.]

[Footnote 59: Id., ib., p. 122.]

This "philosophy of feeling," or of faith generated by feeling, has an
interest and a significance which has not been adequately recognized by
writers on natural theology. Feeling, sentiment, enthusiasm, have always
played an important part in the history of religion. Indeed it must be
conceded that religion is a _right state of feeling towards
God_--religion is _piety_. A philosophy of the religious emotion is,
therefore, demanded in order to the full interpretation of the religious
phenomena of the world.

But the notion that internal feeling, a peculiar determination of the
sensibility, is the source of religious ideas:--that God can be known
immediately by feeling without the mediation of the truth that manifests
God; that he can be _felt_ as the qualities of matter can be felt; and
that this affection of the inward sense can reveal the character and
perfections of God, is an unphilosophical and groundless assumption. To
assert, with Nitzsch, that "feeling has reason, and is reason, and that
the sensible and felt God-consciousness generates out of itself
fundamental conceptions," is to confound the most fundamental
psychological distinctions, and arbitrarily bend the recognized
classifications of mental science to the necessities of a theory.
Indeed, we are informed that it is "by means of an _independent_
psychology, and conformably to it," that Schleiermacher illustrates his
"philosophy of feeling."[60] But all psychology must be based upon the
observation and classification of mental phenomena, as revealed in
consciousness, and not constructed in an "independent" and à priori
method. The most careful psychological analysis has resolved the whole
complex phenomena of mind into thought, feeling, and volition.[61] These
orders of phenomena are radically and essentially distinct. They differ
not simply in degree but in kind, and it is only by an utter disregard
of the facts of consciousness that they can be confounded. Feeling is
not reason, nor can it by any logical dexterity be transformed into

[Footnote 60: Nitzsch, "System of Doctrine," p. 21.]

[Footnote 61: Kant, "Critique of Judg.," ch. xxii.; Cousin, "Hist, of
Philos.," vol. ii. p. 399; Hamilton, vol. i. p. 183, Eng. ed.]

The question as to the relative order of cognition and feeling, that is,
as to whether feeling is the first or original form of the religious
consciousness, or whether feeling be not consequent upon some idea or
cognition of God, is one which can not be determined on empirical
grounds. We are precluded from all scrutiny of the incipient stages of
mental development in the individual mind and in collective humanity. If
we attempt to trace the early history of the soul, its beginnings are
lost in a period of blank unconsciousness, beyond all scrutiny of memory
or imagination. If we attempt the inquiry on the wider field of
universal consciousness, the first unfoldings of mind in humanity are
lost in the border-land of mystery, of which history furnishes no
authentic records. All dogmatic affirmation must, therefore, be
unjustifiable. The assertion that religious feeling precedes all
cognition,--that "the consciousness of dependence on a Supreme Being,
and the instinct of worship" are developed _first_ in the mind, before
the reason is exercised, is utterly groundless. The more probable
doctrine is that all the primary faculties enter into spontaneous action
_simultaneously_--the reason with the senses, the feelings with the
reason, the judgment with both the senses and the reason, and that from
their primary and simultaneous action arises the complex result, called
consciousness, or conjoint knowledge.[62] There can be no clear and
distinct consciousness without the cognition of a _self_ and a
_not-self_ in mutual relation and opposition. Now the knowledge of the
self--the personal ego--is an intuition of reason; the knowledge of the
not-self is an intuition of sense. All knowledge is possible only under
condition of plurality, difference, and relation.[63] Now the judgment
is "the Faculty of Relations," or of comparison; and the affirmation
"_this_ is not _that_" is an act of judgment; to know is, consequently,
to judge.[64] Self-consciousness must, therefore, be regarded as a
synthesis of sense, reason, and judgment, and not a mere self-feeling

[Footnote 62: Cousin, "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 357; vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 63: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 88.]

[Footnote 64: Hamilton, "Metaphys.," p. 277]

A profound analysis will further lead to the conclusion that if ideas of
reason are not chronologically antecedent to sensation, they are, at
least, the logical antecedents of all cognition. The mere feeling of
resistance can not give the notion of without the à priori idea of
space. The feeling of movement of change, can not give the cognition of
event without the rational idea of time or duration. Simple
consciousness can not generate the idea of personality, or selfhood,
without the rational idea of identity or unity. And so the mere "feeling
of dependence," of finiteness and imperfection, can not give the idea of
God, without the rational à priori idea of the Infinite, the Perfect,
the Unconditioned Cause. Sensation is not knowledge, and never can
become knowledge, without the intervention of reason, and a concentrated
self feeling can not rise essentially above animal life until it has,
through the mediation of reason, attained the idea of the existence of a
Supreme Being ruling over nature and man.

Mere feeling is essentially blind. In its _pathological_ form, it may
indicate a want, and even develop an unconscious appetency, but it can
not, itself, reveal an _object_, any more than the feeling of hunger can
reveal the actual presence, or determine the character and fitness, of
any food. An undefinable fear, a mysterious presentiment, an instinctive
yearning, a hunger of the soul, these are all irrational emotions which
can never rise to the dignity of knowledge. An object must be conjured
by the imagination, or conceived by the understanding, or intuitively
apprehended by the reason, before the feeling can have any significance.

Regarded in its _moral_ form, as "the feeling of obligation," it can
have no real meaning unless a "law of duty" be known and recognized.
Feeling, alone, can not reveal what duty is. When that which is right,
and just, and good is revealed to the mind, then the sense of obligation
may urge man to the performance of duty. But the right, the just, the
good, are ideas which are apprehended by the reason, and, consequently,
our moral sentiments are the result of the harmonious and living
relation between the reason and the sensibilities.

Mr. Mansel asserts the inadequacy of Schleiermacher's "feeling of
dependence" to reveal the character of the Being on whom we depend. He
has therefore supplemented his doctrine by the "feeling of moral
obligation," which he thinks "compels us to _assume_ the existence of a
moral Deity." We think his "fact of religious intuition" is as
inadequate as Schleiermacher's to explain the whole phenomena of
religion. In neither instance does feeling supply the actual knowledge
of God. The feeling of dependence may indicate that there is a Power or
Being upon whom we depend for existence and well-being, and which Power
or Being "we call God." The feeling of obligation certainly indicates
the existence of a Being to whom we are accountable, and which Being Mr.
Mansel calls a "moral Deity." But in both instances the character, and
even the existence of God is "_assumed_" and we are entitled to ask on
what ground it is assumed. It will not be asserted that feeling alone
generates the idea, or that the feeling is transformed into idea without
the intervention of thought and reflection. Is there, then, a _logical_
connection between the feeling of dependence and of obligation, and the
idea of the Uncreated Mind, the Infinite First Cause, the Righteous
Governor of the world. Or is there a fixed and changeless co-relation
between _the feeling_ and the _idea_, so that when the feeling is
present, the idea also necessarily arises in the mind? This latter
opinion seems to be the doctrine of Mansel. We accept it as the
statement of a fact of consciousness, but we can not regard it as an
account of the genesis of the idea of God in the human mind. The idea of
God as the First Cause, the Infinite Mind, the Perfect Being, the
personal Lord and Lawgiver, the creator, sustainer, and ruler of the
world, is not a simple, primitive intuition of the mind. It is
manifestly a complex, concrete idea, and, as such, can not be developed
in consciousness, by the operation of a single faculty of the mind, in a
simple, undivided act. It originates in the spontaneous operation of the
whole mind. It is a necessary deduction from the facts of the universe,
and the primitive intuitions of the reason,--a logical inference from
the facts of sense, consciousness, and reason. A philosophy of religion
which regards the feelings as supreme, and which brands the decisions of
reason as uncertain, and well-nigh valueless, necessarily degenerates
into mysticism--a mysticism "which pretends to elevate man directly to
God, and does not see that, in depriving reason of its power, it really
deprives man of that which enables him to know God, and puts him in a
just communication with God by the intermediary of eternal and infinite

[Footnote 65: Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 110.]

The religious sentiments in all minds, and in all ages, have resulted
from the union of _thought_ and _feeling_--the living and harmonious
relation of reason and sensibility; and a philosophy which disregards
either is inadequate to the explanation of the phenomena.

IV. The fourth hypothesis is, _that religion has had its outbirth in the
spontaneous apperceptions of_ REASON; that is, in the necessary, à
priori ideas of the infinite, the perfect, the unconditioned Cause, the
Eternal Being, which are evoked into consciousness in presence of the
changeful, contingent phenomena of the world.

This will at once be recognized by the intelligent reader as the
doctrine of Cousin, by whom _pure reason_ is regarded as the grand
faculty or organ of religion.

Religion, in the estimation of Cousin, is grounded on _cognition_ rather
than upon feeling. It is the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of duty
in its relation to God and to human happiness; and as reason is the
general faculty of all knowing, it must be the faculty of religion. "In
its most elevated point of view, religion is the relation of absolute
truth to absolute Being," and as absolute truth is apprehended by the
reason alone, reason "is the veridical and religious part of the nature
of man."[66] By "reason," however, as we shall see presently, Cousin
does not mean the discursive or reflective reason, but the spontaneous
or intuitive reason. That act of the mind by which we attain to
religious knowledge is not a _process of reasoning_, but a pure
appreciation, an instinctive and involuntary movement of the soul.

[Footnote 66: Henry's Cousin, p. 510.]

The especial function of reason, therefore, is to reveal to us the
invisible, the supersensuous, the Divine. "It was bestowed upon us for
this very purpose of going, without any circuit of reasoning, from the
visible to the invisible, from the finite to the infinite, from the
imperfect to the perfect, and from necessary and eternal truths, to the
eternal and necessary principle" that is God.[67] Reason is thus, as it
were, the bridge between consciousness and being; it rests, at the same
time, on both; it descends from God, and approaches man; it makes its
appearance in consciousness as a guest which brings intelligence of
another world of real Being which lies beyond the world of sense.

Reason does not, however, attain to the Absolute Being directly and
immediately, without any intervening medium. To assert this would be to
fall into the error of Plotinus, and the Alexandrian Mystics. Reason is
the offspring of God, a ray of the Eternal Reason, but it is not to be
identified with God. Reason attains to the Absolute Being indirectly,
and by the interposition of truth. Absolute truth is an attribute and a
manifestation of God. "Truth is incomprehensible without God, and God is
incomprehensible without truth. Truth is placed between human
intelligence, and the supreme intelligence as a kind of mediator."[68]
Incapable of contemplating God face to face, reason adores God in the
truth which represents and manifests Him.

[Footnote 67: Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 103.]

[Footnote 68: Id., ib., p. 99.]

Absolute truth is thus a revelation of God, made by God to the reason of
man, and as it is a light which illuminates every man, and is
perpetually perceived by all men, it is a universal and perpetual
revelation of God to man. The mind of man is "the offspring of God,"
and, as such, must have some resemblance to, and some correlation with
God. Now that which constitutes the image of God in man must be found in
the reason which is correlated with, and capable of perceiving the truth
which manifests God, just as the eye is correlated to the light which
manifests the external world. Absolute truth is, therefore, the sole
medium of bringing the human mind into communion with God; and human
reason, in becoming united to absolute truth, becomes united to God in
his manifestation in spirit and in truth. The supreme law, and highest
destination of man, is to become united to God by seeking a full
consciousness of, and loving and practising the Truth.[69]

[Footnote 69: Henry's Cousin, p. 511, 512.]

It will at once be obvious that the grand crucial questions by which
this philosophy of religion is to be tested are--

1st. _How will Cousin prove to us that human reason is in possession of
universal and necessary principles or absolute truths?_ and,

2d. _How are these principles shown to be absolute? how far do these
principles of reason possess absolute authority?_

The answer of Cousin to the first question is that we prove reason to be
in possession of universal and necessary principles by the analysis of
the contents of consciousness, that is, by psychological analysis. The
phenomena of consciousness, in their primitive condition, are
necessarily complex, concrete, and particular. All our primary ideas are
complex ideas, for the evident reason that all, or nearly all, our
faculties enter at once into exercise; their simultaneous action giving
us, at the same time, a certain number of ideas connected with each
other, and forming a whole. For example, the idea of the exterior world,
which is given us so quickly, is a complex idea, which contains a number
of ideas. There is the idea of the secondary qualities of exterior
objects; there is the idea of the primary qualities; there is the idea
of the permanent reality of something to which you refer these
qualities, to wit, matter; there is the idea of space which contains
bodies; there is the idea of time in which movements are effected. All
these ideas are acquired simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, and
together form one complex idea.

The application of analysis to this complex phenomenon clearly reveals
that there are simple ideas, beliefs, principles in the mind which can
not have been derived from sense and experience, which sense and
experience do not account for, and which are the suggestions of reason
alone: the idea of the _Infinite_, the _Perfect_, the _Eternal_; the
true, the beautiful, the good; the principle of causality, of substance,
of unity, of intentionality; the principle of duty, of obligation, of
accountability, of retribution. These principles, in their natural and
regular development, carry us beyond the limits of consciousness, and
reveal to us a world of real being beyond the world of sense. They carry
us up to an absolute Being, the fountain of all existence--a living,
personal, righteous God--the author, the sustainer, and ruler of the

The proof that these principles are absolute, and possessed of absolute
authority, is drawn, first, from the _impersonality of reason_, or,
rather, the impersonality of the ideas, principles, or truths of reason.

It is not we who create these ideas, neither can we change them at our
pleasure. We are conscious that the will, in all its various efforts, is
enstamped with the impress of our personality. Our volitions are our
own. So, also, our desires are our own, our emotions are our own. But
this is not the same with our rational ideas or principles. The ideas of
substance, of cause, of unity, of intentionality do not belong to one
person any more than to another; they belong to mind as mind, they are
revealed in the universal intelligence of the race. Absolute truth has
no element of personality about it. Man may say "my reason," but give
him credit for never having dared to say "_my_ truth." So far from
rational ideas being individual, their peculiar characteristic is that
they are opposed to individuality, that is, they are universal and
necessary. Instead of being circumscribed within the limits of
experience, they surpass and govern it; they are universal in the midst
of particular phenomena; necessary, although mingled with things
contingent; and absolute, even when appearing within us the relative and
finite beings that we are.[70] Necessary, universal, absolute truth is a
direct emanation from God. "Such being the case, the decision of reason
within its own peculiar province possesses an authority almost divine.
If we are led astray by it, we must be led astray by a light from

[Footnote 70: Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 40.]

[Footnote 71: Id., "Lectures," vol. ii. p. 32.]

The second proof is derived from _the distinction between the
spontaneous and reflective movements of reason_.

Reflection is voluntary, spontaneity is involuntary; reflection is
personal, spontaneity is impersonal; reflection is analytic, spontaneity
is synthetic; reflection begins with doubt, spontaneity with
affirmation; reflection belongs to certain ones, spontaneity belongs to
all; reflection produces science, spontaneity gives truth. Reflection is
a process, more or less tardy, in the individual and in the race. It
sometimes engenders error and skepticism, sometimes convictions that,
from being rational, are only the more profound. It constructs systems,
it creates artificial logic, and all those formulas which we now use by
the force of habit, as if they were natural to us. But spontaneous
intuition is the true logic of nature,--instant, direct, and infallible.
It is a primitive affirmation which implies no negation, and therefore
yields positive knowledge. To reflect is to return to that which was. It
is, by the aid of memory, to return to the past, and to render it
present to the eye of consciousness. Reflection, therefore, creates
nothing; it supposes an anterior operation of the mind in which there
necessarily must be as many terms as are discovered by reflection.
Before all reflection there comes spontaneity--a spontaneity of the
intellect, which seizes truth at once, without traversing doubt and
error. "We thus attain to a judgment free from all reflection, to an
affirmation without any mixture of negation, to an immediate intuition,
the legitimate daughter of the natural energy of thought, like the
inspiration of the poet, the instinct of the hero, the enthusiasm of the
prophet." Such is the first act of knowing, and in this first act the
mind passes from _idea to being_ without ever suspecting the depth of
the chasm it has passed. It passes by means of the power which is in it,
and is not astonished at what it has done. It is subsequently astonished
when by reflection it returns to the analysis of the results, and, by
the aid of the liberty with which it is endowed, to do the opposite of
what it has done, to deny what it has affirmed. "Hence comes the strife
between sophism and common sense, between false science and natural
truth, between good and bad philosophy, both of which come from free

It is this spontaneity of thought which gives birth to _religion._ The
instinctive thought which darts through the world, even to God, is
natural religion. "All thought implies a spontaneous faith in God, and
there is no such thing as natural atheism. Doubt and skepticism may
mingle with reflective thought, but beneath reflection there is still
spontaneity. When the scholar has denied the existence of God, listen to
the man, interrogate him, take him unawares, and you will see that all
his words envelop the idea of God, and that faith in God is, without his
recognition, at the bottom, in his heart."[73]

Religion, then, in the system of Cousin, does not begin with reflection,
with science, but with _faith_. There is, however, this difference to be
noted between the theory of the "faith-philosophers" (Jacobi,
Schleiermacher, etc.) and the theory of Cousin. With them, faith is
grounded on sensation or _feeling_; with him, it is grounded on
_reason_. "Faith, whatever may be its form, whatever may be its object,
common or sublime, can be nothing else than the _consent of reason_.
That is the foundation of faith."[74]

[Footnote 72: Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 106.]

[Footnote 73: "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 137.]

[Footnote 74: Ibid., vol. i. p. 90.]

Religion is, therefore, with Cousin, at bottom, pure Theism. He thinks,
however, that "true theism is not a dead religion that forgets precisely
the fundamental attributes of God." It recognizes God as creator,
preserver, and governor; it celebrates a providence; it adores a
perfect, holy, righteous, benevolent God. It holds the principle of
duty, of obligation, of moral desert. It not only perceives the divine
character, but feels its relation to God. The revelation of the
Infinite, by reason, moves the feelings, and passes into sentiment,
producing reverence, and love, and gratitude. And it creates worship,
which recalls man to God a thousand times more forcibly than the order,
harmony, and beauty of the universe can do.

The spontaneous action of reason, in its greatest energy, is
_inspiration_. "Inspiration, daughter of the soul and heaven, speaks
from on high with an absolute authority. It commands faith; so all its
words are hymns, and its natural language is poetry." "Thus, in the
cradle of civilization, he who possessed in a higher degree than his
fellows the gift of inspiration, passed for the confidant and the
interpreter of God. He is so for others, because he is so for himself;
and he is so, in fact, in a philosophic sense. Behold the sacred origin
of prophecies, of pontificates, and of modes of worship."[75]

[Footnote 75: "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 129.]

As an account of the genesis of the idea of God in the human
intelligence, the doctrine of Cousin must be regarded as eminently
logical, adequate, and satisfactory. As a theory of the origin of
religion, as a philosophy which shall explain all the phenomena of
religion, it must be pronounced defective, and, in some of its aspects,

First, it does not take proper account of that _living force_ which has
in all ages developed so much energy, and wrought such vast results in
the history of religion, viz., the _power of the heart_. Cousin
discourses eloquently on the spontaneous, instinctive movements of the
reason, but he overlooks, in a great measure, the instinctive movements
of the heart. He does not duly estimate the feeling of reverence and awe
which rises spontaneously in presence of the vastness and grandeur of
the universe, and of the power and glory of which the created universe
is a symbol and shadow. He disregards that sense of an overshadowing
Presence which, at least in seasons of tenderness and deep sensibility,
seems to compass us about, and lay its hand upon us. He scarcely
recognizes the deep consciousness of imperfection and weakness, and
utter dependence, which prompts man to seek for and implore the aid of a
Superior Being; and, above all, he takes no proper account of the sense
of guilt and the conscious need of expiation. His theory, therefore, can
not adequately explain the universal prevalence of sacrifices, penances,
and prayers. In short, it does not meet and answer to the deep longings
of the human heart, the wants, sufferings, fears, and hopes of man.

Cousin claims that the universal reason of man is illuminated by the
light of God. It is quite pertinent to ask, Why may not the universal
heart of humanity be touched and moved by the spirit of God? If the
ideas of reason be a revelation from God, may not the instinctive
feelings of the heart be an inspiration of God? May not God come near to
the heart of man and awaken a mysterious presentiment of an invisible
Presence, and an instinctive longing to come nearer to Him? May he not
draw men towards himself by sweet, persuasive influences, and raise man
to a conscious fellowship? Is not God indeed the _great want_ of the
human heart?

Secondly, Cousin does not give due importance to the influence of
revealed truth as given in the sacred Scriptures, and of the positive
institutions of religion, as a divine economy, supernaturally originated
in the world. He grants, indeed, that "a primitive revelation throws
light upon the cradle of human civilization," and that "all antique
traditions refer to an age in which man, at his departure from the hand
of God, received from him immediately all lights, and all truths."[76]
He also believes that "the Mosaic religion, by its developments, is
mingled with the history of all the surrounding people of Egypt, of
Assyria, of Persia, and of Greece and Rome."[77] Christianity, however,
is regarded as "the summing and crown of the two great religious systems
which reigned by turn in the East and in Greece"--the maturity of
Ethnicism and Judaism; a development rather than a new creation. The
explanation which he offers of the phenomena of inspiration opens the
door to religious skepticism. Those who were termed seers, prophets,
inspired teachers of ancient times, were simply men who resigned
themselves wholly to their intellectual instincts, and thus gazed upon
truth in its pure and perfect form. They did not reason, they did not
reflect, they made no pretensions to philosophy they received truth
spontaneously as it flowed in upon them from heaven.[78] This immediate
reception of Divine light was nothing more than the _natural_ play of
spontaneous reason nothing more than what has existed to a greater or
less degree in every man of great genius; nothing more than may now
exist in any mind which resigns itself to its own unreflective
apperceptions. Thus revelation, in its proper sense, loses all its
peculiar value, and Christianity is robbed of its pre-eminent authority.
The extremes of Mysticism and Rationalism here meet on the same ground,
and Plotinus and Cousin are at one.

[Footnote 76: "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 148.]

[Footnote 77: Ibid., vol. i. p. 216.]

[Footnote 78: Morell, "Hist. of Philos.," p. 661.]

V. The fifth hypothesis offered in explanation of the religious
phenomena of the world is that they had their origin _in_ EXTERNAL
REVELATION, _to which reason is related as a purely passive organ, and
Ethnicism as a feeble relic_.

This is the theory of the school of "dogmatic theologians," of which the
ablest and most familiar presentation is found in the "Theological
Institutes" of R. Watson.[79] He claims that all our religious knowledge
is derived from _oral revelation alone_, and that all the forms of
religion and modes of worship which have prevailed in the heathen world
have been perversions and corruptions of the one true religion first
taught to the earliest families of men by God himself. All the ideas of
God, duty, immortality, and future retribution which are now possessed,
or have ever been possessed by the heathen nations, are only broken and
scattered rays of the primitive traditions descending from the family of
Noah, and revived by subsequent intercourses with the Hebrew race; and
all the modes of religious worship--prayers, lustrations,
sacrifices--that have obtained in the world, are but feeble relics,
faint reminiscences of the primitive worship divinely instituted among
the first families of men. "The first man received the knowledge of God
by sensible converse with him, and that doctrine was transmitted, with
the confirmation of successive manifestations, to the early ancestors of
all nations."[80] This belief in the existence of a Supreme Being was
preserved among the Jews by continual manifestations of the presence of
Jehovah. "The intercourses between the Jews and the states of Syria and
Babylon, on the one hand, and Egypt on the other, powers which rose to
great eminence and influence in the ancient world, was maintained for
ages. Their frequent dispersions and captivities would tend to preserve
in part, and in part to revive, the knowledge of the once common and
universal faith."[81] And the Greek sages who resorted for instruction
to the Chaldean philosophic schools derived from thence their knowledge
of the theological system of the Jews.[82] Among the heathen nations
this primitive revelation was corrupted by philosophic speculation, as
in India and China, Greece and Rome; and in some cases it was entirely
obliterated by ignorance, superstition, and vice, as among the
Hottentots of Africa and the aboriginal tribes of New South Wales, who
"have no idea of one Supreme Creator."[83]

[Footnote 79: We might have referred the reader to Ellis's "Knowledge of
Divine Things from Revelation, not from Reason or Nature;" Leland's
"Necessity of Revelation;" and Horsley's "Dissertations," etc.; but as
we are not aware of their having been reprinted in this country, we
select the "Institutes" of Watson as the best presentation of the views
of "the dogmatic theologians" accessible to American readers.]

[Footnote 80: Watson, "Theol. Inst," vol. i. p. 270.]

[Footnote 81: Id. ib., vol. i. p. 31.]

[Footnote 82: See ch. v. and vi., "On the Origin of those Truths which
are found in the Writings and Religious Systems of the Heathen."]

[Footnote 83: Ibid., vol. i. p. 274.]

The same course of reasoning is pursued in regard to the idea of duty,
and the knowledge of right and wrong. "A direct communication of the
Divine Will was made to the primogenitors of our race," and to this
source _alone_ we are indebted for all correct ideas of right and wrong.
"Whatever is found pure in morals, in ancient or modern writers, may be
traced to _indirect_ revelation."[84] Verbal instruction--tradition or
scripture--thus becomes the source of all our moral ideas. The doctrine
of immortality, and of a future retribution,[85] the practice of
sacrifice--precatory and expiatory, are also ascribed to the same
source.[86] Thus the only medium by which religious truth can possibly
become known to the masses of mankind is _tradition_. The ultimate
foundation on which the religious faith and the religious practices of
universal humanity have rested, with the exception of the Jews, and the
favored few to whom the Gospel has come, is uncertain, precarious, and
easily corrupted tradition.

[Footnote 84: Watson, "Theol. Inst.," vol. ii. p. 470.]

[Footnote 85: Id. ib., vol. i. p. 11.]

[Footnote 86: Id. ib., vol. i. p. 26.]

The improbability, inadequacy, and incompleteness of this theory will be
obvious from the following considerations:

1. It is highly improbable that truths so important and vital to man, so
essential to the well-being of the human race, so necessary to the
perfect development of humanity as are the ideas of God, duty, and
immortality, should rest on so precarious and uncertain a basis as
tradition is admitted, even by Mr. Watson, to be.

The human mind needs the idea of God to satisfy its deep moral
necessities, and to harmonize all its powers. The perfection of humanity
can never be secured, the destination of humanity can never be achieved,
the purpose of God in the existence of humanity can never be
accomplished, without the idea of God, and of the relation of man to
God, being present to the human mind. Society needs the idea of a
Supreme Ruler as the foundation of law and government, and as the basis
of social order. Without it, these can not be, or be conserved.
Intellectual creatureship, social order, human progress, are
inconceivable and impossible without the idea of God, and of
accountability to God. Now that truths so fundamental should, to the
masses of men, rest on tradition _alone_, is incredible. Is there no
known and accessible God to the outlying millions of our race who, in
consequence of the circumstances of birth and education, which are
beyond their control, have had no access to an oral revelation, and
among whom the dim shadowy rays of an ancient tradition have long ago
expired? Are the eight hundred millions of our race upon whom the light
of Christianity has not shone unvisited by the common Father of our
race? Has the universal Father left his "own offspring" without a single
native power of recognizing the existence of the Divine Parent, and
abandoned them to solitary and dreary orphanage? Could not he who gave
to matter its properties and laws,--the properties and laws through
whose operation he is working out his own purposes in the realm of
nature,--could not he have also given to mind ideas and principles
which, logically developed, would lead to recognition of a God, and of
our duty to God, and, by these ideas and principles, have wrought out
his sublime purposes in the realm of mind? Could not he who gave to man
the appetency for food, and implanted in his nature the social instincts
to preserve his physical being, have implanted in his heart a "feeling
after God," and an instinct to worship God in order to the conservation
of his spiritual being? How otherwise can we affirm the responsibility
and accountability of all the race before God? Those theologians who are
so earnest in the assertion that God has not endowed man with the native
power of attaining the knowledge of God can not, on any principle of
equity, show how the heathen are "without excuse" when, in involuntary
ignorance of God, they "worship the creature instead of the Creator,"
and violate a law of duty of which they have no possible means to attain
the barest knowledge.

2. This theory is utterly inadequate to the explanation of the
_universality_ of religious rites, and especially of religious ideas.

Take, for example, the idea of God. As a matter of fact we affirm, in
opposition to Watson, the universality of this idea. The idea of God is
connatural to the human mind. Wherever human reason has had its normal
and healthy development[87], this idea has arisen spontaneously and
necessarily. There has not been found a race of men who were utterly
destitute of some knowledge of a Supreme Being. All the instances
alleged have, on further and more accurate inquiry, been found
incorrect. The tendency of the last century, arbitrarily to quadrate all
the facts of religious history with the prevalent sensational
philosophy, had its influence upon the minds of the first missionaries
to India, China, Africa, Australia, and the islands of the Pacific. They
_expected_ to find that the heathen had no knowledge of a Supreme Being,
and before they had mastered the idioms of their language, or become
familiar with their mythological and cosmological systems, they reported
them as _utterly ignorant of God_, destitute of the idea and even the
name of a Supreme Being. These mistaken and hasty conclusions have,
however, been corrected by a more intimate acquaintance with the people,
their languages and religions. Even in the absence of any better
information, we should be constrained to doubt the accuracy of the
authorities quoted by Mr. Watson in relation to Hindooism, when by one
(Ward) we are told that the Hindoo "believes in a God destitute of
_intelligence_" and by another (Moore) that "Brahm is the one eternal
_Mind_, the self-existent, incomprehensible Spirit". Learned and
trustworthy critics, Asiatic as well as European, however, confidently
affirm that "the ground of the Brahminical faith is Monotheistic;" it
recognizes "an Absolute and Supreme Being" as the source of all that
exists.[88] Eugene Burnouf, M. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire, Kœppen, and
indeed nearly all who have written on the subject of Buddhism, have
shown that the metaphysical doctrines of Buddha were borrowed from the
earlier systems of the Brahminic philosophy. "Buddha." we are told, is
"_pure intelligence_" "_clear light_", "_perfect wisdom_;" the same as
Brahm. This is surely Theism in its highest conception.[89] In regard to
the peoples of South Africa, Dr. Livingstone assures us "there is no
need for beginning to tell even the most degraded of these people of the
existence of a God, or of a future state--the facts being universally
admitted.... On questioning intelligent men among the Backwains as to
their former knowledge of good and evil, of God, and of a future state,
they have scouted the idea of any of them ever having been without a
tolerably clear conception on all these subjects."[90] And so far from
the New Hollanders having no idea of a Supreme Being, we are assured by
E. Stone Parker, the protector of the aborigines of New Holland, they
have a clear and well-defined idea of a "_Great Spirit_," the maker of
all things.

[Footnote 87: Watson, "Theol. Inst.," vol. i. p. 46.]

[Footnote 88: Maurice, "Religions of the World," p. 59: _Edin.
Review_,1862, art "Recent Researches on Buddhism." See also Müller's
"Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i. ch. i. to vi.]

[Footnote 89: "It has been said that Buddha and Kapila were both
atheists, and that Buddha borrowed his atheism from Kapila. But atheism
is an indefinite term, and may mean very different things. In one sense
every Indian philosopher was an atheist, for they all perceived that the
gods of the populace could not claim the attributes that belong to a
Supreme Being. But all the important philosophical systems of the
Brahmans admit, in some form or another, the existence of an Absolute
and Supreme Being, the source of all that exists, or seems to
exist."--Müller, "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i. pp. 224,5.

Buddha, which means "intelligence," "clear light," "perfect wisdom," was
not only the name of the founder of the religion of Eastern Asia, but
Adi Buddha was the name of the Absolute, Eternal Intelligence.--Maurice,
"Religions of the World," p. 102.]

[Footnote 90: "Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa," p.

Now had the idea of God rested _solely_ on tradition, it were the most
natural probability that it might be lost, nay, _must_ be lost, amongst
those races of men who were geographically and chronologically far
removed from the primitive cradle of humanity in the East. The people
who, in their migrations, had wandered to the remotest parts of the
earth, and had become isolated from the rest of mankind, might, after
the lapse of ages, be expected to lose the idea of God, if it were not a
spontaneous and native intuition of the mind,--a necessity of thought. A
fact of history must be presumed to stick to the mind with much greater
tenacity than a purely rational idea which has no visible symbol in the
sensible world, and yet, even in regard to the events of history, the
persistence and pertinacity of tradition is exceedingly feeble. The
South Sea Islanders know not from whence, or at what time, their
ancestors came. There are monuments in Tonga and Fiji of which the
present inhabitants can give no account. How, then, can a pure, abstract
idea which can have no sensible representation, no visible image, retain
its hold upon the memory of humanity for thousands of years? The Fijian
may not remember whence his immediate ancestors came, but he knows that
the race came originally from the hands of the Creator. He can not tell
who built the monuments of solid masonry which are found in his
island-home, but he can tell who reared the everlasting hills and built
the universe. He may not know who reigned in Vewa a hundred years ago,
but he knows who now reigns, and has always reigned, over the whole
earth. "The idea of a God is familiar to the Fijian, and the existence
of an invisible superhuman power controlling and influencing nature, and
all earthly things, is fully recognized by him."[91] The idea of God is
a common fact of human consciousness, and tradition alone is manifestly
inadequate to account for its _universality_.

[Footnote 91: "Fiji and the Fijians," p. 215.]

3. A verbal revelation would be inadequate to convey the knowledge of
God to an intelligence "_purely passive_" and utterly unfurnished with
any _à priori_ ideas or necessary laws of cognition and thought.

Of course it is not denied that important verbal communications relating
to the character of God, and the duties we owe to God, were given to the
first human pair, more clear and definite, it may be, than any knowledge
attained by Socrates and Plato through their dialectic processes, and
that these oral revelations were successively repeated and enlarged to
the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament church. And
furthermore, that some rays of light proceeding from this pure fountain
of truth were diffused, and are still lingering among the heathen
nations, we have no desire, and no need to deny.

All this, however, supposes, at least, a natural power and aptitude for
the knowledge of God, and some configuration and correlation of the
human intelligence to the Divine. "We have no knowledge of a dynamic
influence, spiritual or natural, without a dynamic reaction." Matter can
not be moved and controlled by forces and laws, unless it have
properties which correlate it with those forces and laws. And mind can
not be determined from without to any specific form of cognition, unless
it have active powers of apprehension and conception which are governed
by uniform laws. The "material" of thought may be supplied from without,
but the "form" is determined by the necessary laws of our inward being.
All our cognition of the external world is conditioned by the _à priori_
ideas of time and space, and all our thinking is governed by the
principles of causality and substance, and the law of "sufficient
reason." The mind itself supplies an element of knowledge in all our
cognitions. Man can not be taught the knowledge of God if he be not
naturally possessed of a presentiment, or an apperception of a God, as
the cause and reason of the universe. "If education be not already
preceded by an innate consciousness of God, as an operative
predisposition, there would be nothing for education and culture to act
upon."[92] A mere verbal revelation can not communicate the knowledge of
God, if man have not already the idea of a God in his mind. A name is a
mere empty sign, a meaningless symbol, without a mental image of the
object which it represents, or an innate perception, or an abstract
conception of the mind, of which the word is the sign. The mental image
or the abstract conception must, therefore, precede the name; cognition
must be anterior to, and give the meaning of language.[93] The child
knows a thing even before it can speak its name. And, universally, we
must know the _thing_ in itself, or image it by analogies and
resemblances to some other thing we do know, before the name can have
any meaning for us. As to purely rational ideas and abstract
conceptions,--as space, cause, the infinite, the perfect,--language can
never convey these to the mind, nor can the mind ever attain them by
experience if they are not an original, connate part of our mental
equipment and furniture. The mere verbal affirmation "there is a God"
made to one who has no idea of a God, would be meaningless and
unintelligible. What notion can a man form of "the First Cause" if the
principle of causality is not inherent in his mind? What conception can
he form of "the Infinite Mind" if the infinite be not a primitive
intuition? How can he conceive of "a Righteous Governor" if he have no
idea of right, no sense of obligation, no apprehension of a retribution?
Words are empty sounds without ideas, and God is a mere name if the mind
has no apperception of a God.

[Footnote 92: Nitzsch, "System of Christian Doctrine," p. 10.]

[Footnote 93: "Ideas must pre-exist their sensible signs." See De
Boismont on "Hallucination," etc., p. iii.]

It may be affirmed that, preceding or accompanying the announcement of
the Divine Name, there was given to the first human pair, and to the
early fathers of our race, some visible manifestation of the presence of
God, and some supernatural display of divine power. What, then, was the
character of these early manifestations, and were they adequate to
convey the proper idea of God? Did God first reveal himself in human
form, and if so, how could their conception of God advance beyond a rude
anthropomorphism? Did he reveal his presence in a vast columnar cloud or
a pillar of fire? How could such an image convey any conception of the
intelligence, the omnipresence, the eternity of God? Nay, can the
infinite and eternal Mind be represented by any visible manifestation?
Can the human mind conceive an image of God? The knowledge of God, it is
clear, can not be conveyed by any sensible sign or symbol if man has no
prior rational idea of God as the Infinite and the Perfect Being.

If the facts of order, and design, and special adaptation which crowd
the universe, and the _à priori_ ideas of an unconditioned Cause and an
infinite Intelligence which arise in the mind in presence of these
facts, are inadequate to produce the logical conviction that it is the
work of an intelligent mind, how can any preternatural display of
_power_ produce a rational conviction that God exists? "If the universe
could come by chance or fate, surely all the lesser phenomena, termed
miraculous, might occur so too."[94] If we find ourselves standing amid
an eternal series of events, may not miracles be a part of that series?
Or if all things are the result of necessary and unchangeable laws, may
not miracles also result from some natural or psychological law of which
we are yet in ignorance? Let it be granted that man is _not_ so
constituted that, by the necessary laws of his intelligence, he must
affirm that facts of order having a commencement in time prove mind; let
it be granted that man has _no_ intuitive belief in the Infinite and
Perfect--in short, no idea of God; how, then, could a marvellous display
of _power_, a new, peculiar, and startling phenomenon which even seemed
to transcend nature, prove to him the existence of an infinite
_intelligence_--a personal God? The proof would be simply inadequate,
because not the right kind of proof. Power does not indicate
intelligence, force does not imply personality.

[Footnote 94: Morell, "Hist. of Philos." p. 737.]

Miracles, in short, were never intended to prove the existence of God.
The foundation of this truth had already been laid in the constitution
and laws of the human mind, and miracles were designed to convince us
that He of whose existence we had a prior certainty, spoke to us by His
Messenger, and in this way attested his credentials. To the man who has
a rational belief in the existence of God this evidence of a divine
mission is at once appropriate and conclusive. "Master, we know thou art
a teacher sent from God; for no man can do the works which thou doest,
except God be with him." The Christian missionary does not commence his
instruction to the heathen, who have an imperfect, or even erroneous
conception of "the Great Spirit," by narrating the miracles of Christ,
or quoting the testimony of the Divine Book he carries along with him.
He points to the heavens and the earth, and says, "There is a Being who
made all these things, and Jehovah is his name; I have come to you with
a message from Him!" Or he need scarce do even so much; for already the
heathen, in view of the order and beauty which pervades the universe,
has been constrained, by the laws of his own intelligence, to believe in
and offer worship to the "Ἄγνωστος Θεος"--the unseen and
incomprehensible God; and pointing to their altars, he may announce with
Paul, "this God _whom ye worship_, though ignorantly, him declare I unto

The results of our study of the various hypotheses which have been
offered in explanation of the religious phenomena of the world may be
summed up as follows: The first and second theories we have rejected as
utterly false. Instead of being faithful to and adequately explaining
the facts, they pervert, and maltreat, and distort the facts of
religious history. The last three each contain a precious element of
truth which must not be undervalued, and which can not be omitted in an
explanation which can be pronounced complete. Each theory, taken by
itself, is incomplete and inadequate. The third hypothesis overrates
_feeling_; the fourth, _reason_; the fifth, _verbal instruction_. The
first extreme is Mysticism, the second is Rationalism, the last is
Dogmatism. Reason, feeling, and faith in testimony must be combined, and
mutually condition each other. No purely rationalistic hypothesis will
meet and satisfy the wants and yearnings of the heart. No theory based
on feeling alone can satisfy the demands of the human intellect. And,
finally, an hypothesis which bases all religion upon historical
testimony and outward fact, and despises and tramples upon the
intuitions of the reason and the instincts of the heart can never
command the general faith of mankind. Religion embraces and
conditionates the whole sphere of life--thought, feeling, faith, and
action; it must therefore be grounded in the entire spiritual nature of

Our criticism of opposite theories has thus prepared the way for, and
obviated the necessity of an extended discussion of the hypothesis we
now advance.

_The universal phenomenon of religion has originated in the à priori
apperceptions of reason, and the natural instinctive feelings of the
heart, which, from age to age, have been vitalized, unfolded, and
perfected by supernatural communications and testamentary revelations_.

There are universal facts of religious history which can only be
explained on the first principle of this hypothesis; there are special
facts which can only be explained on the latter principle. The universal
prevalence of the idea of God, and the feeling of obligation to obey and
worship God, belong to the first order of facts; the general prevalence
of expiatory sacrifices, of the rite of circumcision, and the observance
of sacred and holy days, belong to the latter. To the last class of
facts the observance of the Christian Sabbath, and the rites of Baptism
and the Lord's Supper may be added.

The history of all religions clearly attests that there are two orders
of principles--the _natural_ and the _positive_, and, in some measure,
two authorities of religious life which are intimately related without
negativing each other. The characteristic of the natural is that it is
_intrinsic_, of the positive, that it is _extrinsic_. In all ages men
have sought the authority of the positive in that which is immediately
_beyond_ and above man--in some "voice of the Divinity" toning down the
stream of ages, or speaking through a prophet or oracle, or written in
some inspired and sacred book. They have sought for the authority of the
natural in that which is immediately _within_ man--the voice of the
Divinity speaking in the conscience and heart of man. A careful study of
the history of religion will show a reciprocal relation between the two,
and indicate their common source.

We expect to find that our hypothesis will be abundantly sustained by
the study of the _Religion of the Athenians_.



"All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion
(δεισιδαιμονεστέρους). For as I passed through your city, and beheld the
objects of your worship, I found amongst them an altar with this
inscription--'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.' Whom therefore ye worship...."--ST.

Through one of those remarkable counter-strokes of Divine Providence by
which the evil designs of men are overruled, and made to subserve the
purposes of God, the Apostle Paul was brought to Athens. He walked
beneath its stately porticoes, he entered its solemn temples, he stood
before its glorious statuary, he viewed its beautiful altars--all
devoted to pagan worship. And "his spirit was stirred within him," he
was moved with indignation "when he saw the city full of images of the
gods."[95] At the very entrance of the city he met the evidence of this
peculiar tendency of the Athenians to multiply the objects of their
devotion; for here at the gateway stands an image of Neptune, seated on
horseback, and brandishing the trident. Passing through the gate, his
attention would be immediately arrested by the sculptured forms of
Minerva, Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, and the Muses, standing near a
sanctuary of Bacchus. A long street is now before him, with temples,
statues, and altars crowded on either hand. Walking to the end of this
street, and turning to the right, he entered the Agora, a public square
surrounded with porticoes and temples, which were adorned with statuary
and paintings in honor of the gods of Grecian mythology. Amid the
plane-trees planted by the hand of Cimon are the statues of the deified
heroes of Athens, Hercules and Theseus, and the whole series of the
Eponymi, together with the memorials of the older divinities; Mercuries
which gave the name to the streets on which they were placed; statues
dedicated to Apollo as patron of the city and her deliverer from the
plague; and in the centre of all the altar of the Twelve Gods.

[Footnote 95: Lange's Commentary, Acts xvii. 16.]

Standing in the market-place, and looking up to the Areopagus, Paul
would see the temple of Mars, from whom the hill derived its name. And
turning toward the Acropolis, he would behold, closing the long
perspective, a series of little sanctuaries on the very ledges of the
rocks, shrines of Bacchus and Æsculapius, Venus, Earth, and Ceres,
ending with the lovely form of the Temple of Unwinged Victory, which
glittered in front of the Propylæa.

If the apostle entered the "fivefold gates," and ascended the flight of
stone steps to the platform of the Acropolis, he would find the whole
area one grand composition of architecture and statuary dedicated to the
worship of the gods. Here stood the Parthenon, the Virgin House, the
glorious temple which was erected during the proudest days of Athenian
glory, an entire offering to Minerva, the tutelary divinity of Athens.
Within was the colossal statue of the goddess wrought in ivory and gold.
Outside the temple there stood another statue of Minerva, cast from the
brazen spoils of Marathon; and near by yet another brazen Pallas, which
was called by pre-eminence "the Beautiful."

Indeed, to whatever part of Athens the apostle wandered, he would meet
the evidences of their "carefulness in religion," for every public place
and every public building was a sanctuary of some god. The Metroum, or
record-house, was a temple to the mother of the gods. The council-house
held statues of Apollo and Jupiter, with an altar to Vesta. The theatre
at the base of the Acropolis was consecrated to Bacchus. The Pnyx was
dedicated to Jupiter on high. And as if, in this direction, the Attic
imagination knew no bounds, abstractions were deified; altars were
erected to Fame, to Energy, to Modesty, and even to Pity, and these
abstractions were honored and worshipped as gods.

The impression made upon the mind of Paul was, that the city was
literally "full of idols," or images of the gods. This impression is
sustained by the testimony of numerous Greek and Roman writers.
Pausanias declares that Athens "had more images than all the rest of
Greece;" and Petronius, the Roman satirist, says, "it was easier to find
a god in Athens than a man."[96]

[Footnote 96: See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St.
Paul;" also, art. "Athens," in _Encyclopædia Britannica_, whence our
account of the "sacred objects" in Athens is chiefly gathered.]

No wonder, then, that as Paul wandered amid these scenes "his spirit was
stirred in him." He burned with holy zeal to maintain the honor of the
true and only God, whom now he saw dishonored on every side. He was
filled with compassion for those Athenians who, notwithstanding their
intellectual greatness, had changed the glory of God into an image made
in the likeness of corruptible man, and who really worshipped the
creature _more_ than the Creator. The images intended to symbolize the
invisible perfections of God were usurping the place of God, and
receiving the worship due alone to him. We may presume the apostle was
not insensible to the beauties of Grecian art. The sublime architecture
of the Propylæa and the Parthenon, the magnificent sculpture of Phidias
and Praxiteles, could not fail to excite his wonder. But he remembered
that those superb temples and this glorious statuary were the creation
of the pagan spirit, and devoted to polytheistic worship. The glory of
the supreme God was obscured by all this symbolism. The creatures formed
by God, the symbols of his power and presence in nature, the ministers
of his providence and moral government, were receiving the honor due to
him. Over all this scene of material beauty and æsthetic perfection
there rose in dark and hideous proportions the errors and delusions and
sins against the living God which Polytheism nurtured, and unable any
longer to restrain himself, he commenced to "reason" with the crowds of
Athenians who stood beneath the shadows of the plane-trees, or lounged
beneath the porticoes that surrounded the Agora. Among these groups of
idlers were mingled the disciples of Zeno and Epicurus, who
"encountered" Paul. The nature of these "disputations" may be easily
conjectured, The opinions of these philosophers are even now familiarly
known: they are, in one form or another, current in the literature of
modern times. Materialism and Pantheism still "encounter" Christianity.
The apostle asserted the personal being and spirituality of one supreme
and only God, who has in divers ways revealed himself to man, and
therefore may be "known." He proclaimed that Jesus is the fullest and
most perfect revelation of God--the _only_ "manifestation of God in the
flesh." He pointed to his "resurrection" as the proof of his superhuman
character and mission to the world. Some of his hearers were disposed to
treat him with contempt; they represented him as an ignorant "babbler,"
who had picked up a few scraps of learning, and who now sought to palm
them off as a "new" philosophy. But most of them regarded him with that
peculiar Attic curiosity which was always anxious to be hearing some
"new thing." So they led him away from the tumult of the market-place to
the top of Mars' Hill, where, in its serene atmosphere, they might hear
him more carefully, and said, "May we hear what this new doctrine is
whereof thou speakest?"

Surrounded by these men of thoughtful, philosophic mind--men who had
deeply pondered the great problem of existence, who had earnestly
inquired after the "first principles of things;" men who had reasoned
high of creation, fate, and providence; of right and wrong; of
conscience, law, and retribution; and had formed strong and decided
opinions on all these questions--he delivered his discourse on the
_being_, the _providence_, the _spirituality_, and the _moral
government_ of God.

This grand theme was suggested by an inscription he had observed on one
of the altars of the city, which was dedicated "To the Unknown God." "Ye
men of Athens! every thing which I behold bears witness to your
_carefulness in religion_. For as I passed by and beheld your sacred
objects I found an altar with this inscription, 'To the Unknown God;'
whom, therefore, ye worship, though ye know him not [adequately], Him
declare I unto you." Starting from this point, the manifest carefulness
of the Athenians in religion, and accepting this inscription as the
evidence that they had some presentiment, some native intuition, some
dim conception of the one true and living God, he strives to lead them
to a deeper knowledge of Him. It is here conceded by the apostle that
the Athenians were a _religious people_. The observations he had made
during his short stay in Athens enabled him to bear witness that the
Athenians were "a God-fearing people,"[97] and he felt that fairness and
candor demanded that this trait should receive from him an ample
recognition and a full acknowledgment. Accordingly he commences by
saying in gentle terms, well fitted to conciliate his audience, "All
things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion." I
recognize you as most devout; ye appear to me to be a God-fearing
people,[98] for as I passed by and beheld your sacred objects I found an
altar with this inscription, "To the Unknown God," whom therefore ye

[Footnote 97: Lange's Commentary, _in loco_.]

[Footnote 98: "Ως before δεισιδ.--so imports. I recognize you as
such."--Lange's Commentary.]

The assertion that the Athenians were "a religious people" will, to many
of our readers, appear a strange and startling utterance, which has in
it more of novelty than truth. Nay, some will be shocked to hear the
Apostle Paul described as complimenting these Athenians--these pagan
worshippers--on their "carefulness in religion." We have been so long
accustomed to use the word "heathen" as an opprobrious
epithet--expressing, indeed, the utmost extremes of ignorance, and
barbarism, and cruelty, that it has become difficult for us to believe
that in a heathen there can be any good.

From our childhood we have read in our English Bibles, Ye men of Athens,
I perceive in all things ye are _too superstitious_ and we can scarcely
tolerate another version, even if it can be shown that it approaches
nearer to the actual language employed by Paul. We must, therefore, ask
the patience and candor of the reader, while we endeavor to show, on the
authority of Paul's words, that the Athenians were a "religious people,"
and that all our notions to the contrary are founded on prejudice and

First, then, let us commence even with our English version: "Ye men of
Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are _too superstitious_." And
what now is the meaning of the word "superstition?" It is true, we now
use it only in an evil sense, to express a belief in the agency of
invisible, capricious, malignant powers, which fills the mind with fear
and terror, and sees in every unexplained phenomenon of nature an omen,
or prognostic, of some future evil. But this is not its proper and
original meaning. Superstition is from the Latin _superstitio_, which
means a superabundance of religion,[99] an extreme exactitude in
religious observance. And this is precisely the sense in which the
corresponding Greek term is used by the Apostle Paul. Δεισιδαιμονία
properly means "reverence for the gods." "It is used," says Barnes, "in
the classic writers, in a good sense, to denote piety towards the gods,
or suitable fear and reverence for them." "The word," says Lechler, "is,
without doubt, to be understood here in a good sense; although it seems
to have been intentionally chosen, in order to indicate the conception
of _fear_(δειδω), which predominated in the religion of the apostle's
hearers."[100] This reading is sustained by the ablest critics and
scholars of modern times. Bengel reads the sentence, "I perceive that ye
are _very religious_"[101] Cudworth translates it thus: "Ye are every
way _more than ordinarily religious."[102]_ Conybeare and Howson read
the text as we have already given it, "All things which I behold bear
witness to your _carefulness in religion_."[103] Lechler reads "very
devout;"[104] Alford, "carrying your _religious reverence very
far_;"[105] and Albert Barnes,[106] "I perceive ye are greatly devoted
to _reverence for religion_."[107] Whoever, therefore, will give
attention to the actual words of the apostle, and search for their real
meaning, must be convinced he opens his address by complimenting the
Athenians on their being more than ordinarily religious.

[Footnote 99: Nitzsch, "System of Christ. Doctrine," p. 33.]

[Footnote 100: Lange's Commentary, _in loco_.]

[Footnote 101: "Gnomon of the New Testament."]

[Footnote 102: "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 626.]

[Footnote 103: "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i. p. 378.]

[Footnote 104: Lange's Commentary.]

[Footnote 105: Greek Test.]

[Footnote 106: Notes on Acts.]

[Footnote 107: Also Clarke's Comment., _in loco_.]

Nor are we for a moment to suppose the apostle is here dealing in hollow
compliments, or having recourse to a "pious fraud." Such a course would
have been altogether out of character with Paul, and to suppose him
capable of pursuing such a course is to do him great injustice. If "to
the Jews he became as a Jew," it was because he recognized in Judaism
the same fundamental truths which underlie the Christian system. And if
here he seems to become, in any sense, at one with "heathenism," that he
might gain the heathen to the faith of Christ, it was because he found
in heathenism some elements of truth akin to Christianity, and a state
of feeling favorable to an inquiry into the truths he had to present. He
beheld in Athens an altar reared to the God _he_ worshipped, and it
afforded him some pleasure to find that God was not totally forgotten,
and his worship totally neglected, by the Athenians. The God whom they
knew imperfectly, "_Him_" said he, "I declare unto you;" I now desire to
make him more fully known. The worship of "the Unknown God" was a
recognition of the being of a God whose nature transcends all human
thought, a God who is ineffable; who, as Plato said, "is hard to be
discovered, and having discovered him, to make him known to all,
impossible."[108] It is the confession of a _want_ of knowledge, the
expression of a _desire_ to know, the acknowledgment of the _duty_ of
worshipping him. Underlying all the forms of idol-worship the eye of
Paul recognized an influential Theism. Deep down in the pagan heart he
discovered a "feeling after God"--a yearning for a deeper knowledge of
the "unknown," the invisible, the incomprehensible, which he could not
despise or disregard. The mysterious _sentiments_ of fear, of reverence,
of conscious dependence on a supernatural power and presence
overshadowing man, which were expressed in the symbolism of the "sacred
objects" which Paul saw everywhere in Athens, commanded his respect. And
he alludes to their "devotions," not in the language of reproach or
censure, but as furnishing to his own mind the evidence of the strength
of their _religious instincts_, and the proof of the existence in their
hearts of that _native apprehension_ of the supernatural, the divine,
which dwells alike in all human souls.

[Footnote 108: Timæus, ch. ix.]

The case of the Athenians has, therefore, a peculiar interest to every
thoughtful mind. It confirms the belief that religion is a necessity to
every human mind, a want of every human heart.[109] Without religion,
the nature of man can never be properly developed; the noblest part of
man--the divine, the spiritual element which dwells in man, as "the
offspring of God"--must remain utterly dwarfed. The spirit, the personal
being, the rational nature, is religious, and Atheism is the vain and
the wicked attempt to be something less than man. If the spiritual
nature of man has its normal and healthy development, he must become a
worshipper. This is attested by the universal history of man. We look
down the long-drawn aisles of antiquity, and everywhere we behold the
smoking altar, the ascending incense, the prostrate form, the attitude
of devotion. Athens, with her four thousand deities--Rome, with her
crowded Pantheon of gods--Egypt, with her degrading
superstitions--Hindostan, with her horrid and revolting rites--all
attest that the religious principle is deeply seated in the nature of
man. And we are sure religion can never be robbed of her supremacy, she
can never be dethroned in the hearts of men. It were easier to satisfy
the cravings of hunger by logical syllogisms, than to satisfy the
yearnings of the human heart without religion. The attempt of Xerxes to
bind the rushing floods of the Hellespont in chains was not more futile
nor more impotent than the attempt of skepticism to repress the
universal tendency to worship, so peculiar and so natural to man in
every age and clime.

[Footnote 109: The indispensable necessity for a religion of some kind
to satisfy the emotional nature of man is tacitly confessed by the
atheist Comte in the publication of his "Catechism of Positive

The unwillingness of many to recognize a religious element in the
Athenian mind is further accounted for by their misconception of the
meaning of the word "religion." We are all too much accustomed to regard
religion as a mere system of dogmatic teaching. We use the terms
"Christian religion," "Jewish religion," "Mohammedan religion," as
comprehending simply the characteristic doctrines by which each is
distinguished; whereas religion is a mode of thought, and feeling, and
action, determined by the consciousness of our relation to and our
dependence upon God. It does not appropriate to itself any specific
department of our mental powers and susceptibilities, but it conditions
the entire functions and circle of our spiritual life. It is not simply
a mode of conceiving God in thought, nor simply a mode of venerating God
in the affections, nor yet simply a mode of worshipping God in outward
and formal acts, but it comprehends the whole. Religion (_religere_,
respect, awe, reverence) regulates our thoughts, feelings, and acts
towards God. "It is a reference and a relationship of our finite
consciousness to the Creator and Sustainer and Governor of the
universe." It is such a consciousness of the Divine as shall awaken in
the heart of man the sentiments of reverence, fear, and gratitude
towards God; such a sense of dependence as shall prompt man to pray, and
lead him to perform external acts of worship.

Religion does not, therefore, consist exclusively in knowledge, however
correct; and yet it must be preceded and accompanied by some intuitive
cognition of a Supreme Being, and some conception of him as a free moral
personality. But the religious sentiments, which belong rather to the
heart than to the understanding of man--the consciousness of dependence,
the sense of obligation, the feeling of reverence, the instinct to pray,
the appetency to worship--these may all exist and be largely developed
in a human mind even when, as in the case of the Athenians, there is a
very imperfect knowledge of the real character of God.

Regarding this, then, as the generic conception of religion, namely,
_that it is a mode of thought and feeling and action determined by our
consciousness of dependence on a Supreme Being_, we claim that the
apostle was perfectly right in complimenting the Athenians on their
"more than ordinary religiousness," for,

1. They had, in some degree at least, that faith in the being and
providence of God which precedes and accompanies all religion.

They had erected an altar to the unseen, the unsearchable, the
incomprehensible, the unknown God. And this "unknown God" whom the
Athenians "worshipped" was the true God, the God whom Paul worshipped,
and whom he desired more fully to reveal to them; "_Him_ declare I unto
you." The Athenians had, therefore, some knowledge of the true God, some
dim recognition, at least, of his being, and some conception, however
imperfect, of his character. The Deity to whom the Athenians reared this
altar is called "the unknown God," because he is unseen by all human
eyes and incomprehensible to human thought. There is a sense in which to
Paul, as well as to the Athenians--to the Christian as well as to the
pagan--to the philosopher as well as to the peasant--God is "_the
unknown_," and in which he must forever remain the incomprehensible.
This has been confessed by all thoughtful minds in every age. It was
confessed by Plato. To his mind God is "the ineffable," the unspeakable.
Zophar, the friend of Job, asks, "Canst thou by searching find out God?
Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" This knowledge is "high
as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?"
Does not Wesley teach us to sing,

                      "Hail, Father, whose creating call
                         Unnumbered worlds attend;
                       Jehovah, comprehending all,
                         Whom none can comprehend?"

To his mind, as well as to the mind of the Athenian, God was "the great
unseen, unknown." "Beyond the universe and man," says Cousin, "there
remains in God something unknown, impenetrable, incomprehensible. Hence,
in the immeasurable spaces of the universe, and beneath all the
profundities of the human soul, God escapes us in this inexhaustible
infinitude, whence he is able to draw without limit new worlds, new
beings, new manifestations. God is therefore to us
_incomprehensible_."[110] And without making ourselves in the least
responsible for Hamilton's "negative" doctrine of the Infinite, or even
responsible for the full import of his words, we may quote his
remarkable utterances on this subject: "The Divinity is in part
concealed and in part revealed. He is at once known and unknown. But the
last and highest consecration of all true religion must be an altar 'to
the unknown God.' In this consummation nature and religion, Paganism and
Christianity, are at one."[111]

[Footnote 110: "Lectures," vol. i. p. 104.]

[Footnote 111: "Discussions on Philosophy," p. 23.]

When, therefore, the apostle affirms that while the Athenians worshipped
the God whom he proclaimed they "knew him not," we can not understand
him as saying they were destitute of all faith in the being of God, and
of all ideas of his real character. Because for him to have asserted
they had _no_ knowledge of God would not only have been contrary to all
the facts of the case, but also an utter contradiction of all his
settled convictions and his recorded opinions. There is not in modern
times a more earnest asserter of the doctrine that the human mind has an
intuitive cognition of God, and that the external world reveals God to
man. There is a passage in his letter to the Romans which is justly
entitled to stand at the head of all discourses on "natural theology,"
Rom. i. 19-21. Speaking of the heathen world, who had not been favored,
as the Jews, with a verbal revelation, he says, "That which may be known
of God is manifest _in_ them," that is, in the constitution and laws of
their spiritual nature, "for God hath showed it unto them" in the voice
of reason and of conscience, so that in the instincts of our hearts, in
the elements of our moral nature, in the ideas and laws of our reason,
we are taught the being of a God. These are the subjective teachings of
the human soul.

Not only is the being of God revealed to man in the constitution and
laws of his rational and moral nature, but God is also manifested to us
objectively in the realm of things around us; therefore Paul adds, "The
invisible things of him, even his eternal power and Godhead, from the
creation are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made." The world of sense, therefore, discloses the being and
perfections of God. The invisible attributes of God are made apparent by
the things that are visible. Forth out of nature, as the product of the
Divine Mind, the supernatural shines. The forces, laws, and harmonies of
the universe are indices of the presence of a presiding and informing
Intelligence. The creation itself is an example of God's coming forth
out of the mysterious depths of his own eternal and invisible being, and
making himself apparent to man. There, on the pages of the volume of
nature, we may read, in the marvellous language of symbol, the grand
conceptions, the glorious thoughts, the ideals of beauty which dwell in
the uncreated Mind, These two sources of knowledge--the subjective
teachings of God in the human soul, and the objective manifestations of
God in the visible universe--harmonize, and, together, fill up the
complement of our natural idea of God. They are two hemispheres of
thought, which together form one full-orbed fountain of light, and ought
never to be separated in our philosophy. And, inasmuch as this divine
light shines on all human minds, and these works of God are seen by all
human eyes, the apostle argues that the heathen world "is without
excuse, because, knowing God (γνόντες τὸν Θεόν) they did not glorify him
as God, neither were thankful; but in their reasonings they went astray
after vanities, and their hearts, being void of wisdom, were filled with
darkness. Calling themselves wise, they were turned into fools, and
changed the glory of the imperishable God for idols graven in the
likeness of perishable man, or of birds, and beasts, and creeping
things,...and they bartered the truth of God for lies, and reverenced
and worshipped the things made rather than the Maker, who is blessed
forever. Amen."[112]

[Footnote 112: Rom. i. 21-25, Conybeare and Howson's translation.]

The brief and elliptical report of Paul's address on Mars' Hill must
therefore, in all fairness, be interpreted in the light of his more
carefully elaborated statements in the Epistle to the Romans. And when
Paul intimates that the Athenians "knew not God," we can not understand
him as saying they had _no_ knowledge, but that their knowledge was
imperfect. They did not know God as Creator, Father, and Ruler; above
all, they did not know him as a pardoning God and a sanctifying Spirit.
They had not that knowledge of God which purifies the heart, and changes
the character, and gives its possessor eternal life.

The apostle clearly and unequivocally recognizes this truth, that the
idea of God is connatural to the human mind; that in fact there is not
to be found a race of men upon the face of the globe utterly destitute
of some idea of a Supreme Being. Wherever human reason has had its
normal and healthful development, it has spontaneously and necessarily
led the human mind to the recognition of a God. The Athenians were no
exception to this general law. They believed in the existence of one
supreme and eternal Mind, invisible, incomprehensible, infeffable--"the
unknown God."

2. The Athenians had also that consciousness of dependence upon God
which is the foundation of all the primary religious emotions.

When the apostle affirmed that "in God we live, and move, and have our
being," he uttered the sentiments of many, if not all, of his hearers,
and in support of that affirmation he could quote the words of their own
poets, for we are also his offspring; [113] and, as his offspring, we
have a derived and a dependent being. Indeed, this consciousness of
dependence is analogous to the feeling which is awakened in the heart of
a child when its parent is first manifested to its opening mind as the
giver of those things which it immediately needs, as its continual
protector, and as the preserver of its life. The moment a man becomes
conscious of his own personality, that moment he becomes conscious of
some relation to another personality, to which he is subject, and on
which he depends.[114]

[Footnote 113:

          "Jove's presence fills all space, upholds this ball;
           All need his aid; his power sustains us all,
          _For we his offspring are_."
                         Aratus, "The Phænomena," book v. p. 5.

Aratus was a poet of Cilicia, Paul's native province. He flourished B.C.

       "Great and divine Father, whose names are many,
        But who art one and the same unchangeable, almighty power;
        O thou supreme Author of nature!
        That governest by a single unerring law!
                      Hail King!
        For thou art able, to enforce obedience from all frail mortals,
       _Because we are all thine offspring,_
        The image and the echo only of thy eternal voice."
                                        Cleanthes, "Hymn to Jupiter."

Cleanthes was the pupil of Zeno, and his successor as chief of the Stoic

[Footnote 114: "As soon as a man becomes conscious of himself, as soon
as he perceives himself as distinct from other persons and things, he at
the same moment becomes conscious of a higher self, a higher power,
without which he feels that neither he nor any thing else would have any
life or reality. We are so fashioned that as soon as we awake we feel on
all sides our dependence on something else; and all nations join in some
way or another in the words of the Psalmist, 'It is He that made us, not
we ourselves.' This is the first _sense_ of the Godhead, the _sensus
numinis_, as it has well been called; for it is a _sensus_, an immediate
perception, not the result of reasoning or generalization, but an
intuition as irresistible as the impressions of our senses.... This
_sensus numinis_, or, as we may call it in more homely language,
_faith_, is the source of all religion; it is that without which no
religion, whether true or false, is possible."--Max Müller, "Science of
Language," Second Series, p. 455.]

A little reflection will convince us that this is the necessary order in
which human consciousness is developed.

There are at least two fundamental and radical tendencies in human
personality, namely, to _know_ and to _act_. If we would conceive of
them as they exist in the innermost sphere of selfhood, we must
distinguish the first as _self-consciousness_, and the second as
_self-determination_. These are unquestionably the two factors of human

If we consider the first of these factors more closely, we shall
discover that self-consciousness exists under limitations and
conditions. Man can not become clearly conscious of _self_ without
distinguishing himself from the outer world of sensation, nor without
distinguishing self and the world from another being upon whom they
depend as the ultimate substance and cause. Mere _cœnœesthesis_ is not
consciousness. Common feeling is unquestionably found among the lowest
forms of animal life, the protozoa; but it can never rise to a clear
consciousness of personality until it can distinguish itself from
sensation, and acquire a presentiment of a divine power, on which self
and the outer world depend. The _Ego_ does not exist for itself, can not
perceive itself, but by distinguishing itself from the ceaseless flow
and change of sensation, and by this act of distinguishing, the _Ego_
takes place in consciousness. And the _Ego_ can not perceive itself, nor
cognize sensation as a state or affection of the _Ego_ except by the
intervention of the reason, which supplies the two great fundamental
laws of causality and substance. The facts of consciousness thus
comprehend three elements--self, nature, and God. The determinate being,
the _Ego_, is never an absolutely independent being, but is always in
some way or other codetermined by another; it can not, therefore, be an
absolutely original and independent, but must in some way or another be
a _derived_ and _conditioned_ existence.

Now that which limits and conditions human self-consciousness can not be
mere _nature_, because nature can not give what it does not possess; it
can not produce what is _toto genere_ different from itself.
Self-consciousness can not arise out of unconsciousness. This new
beginning is beyond the power of nature. Personal power, the creative
principle of all new beginnings, is alone adequate to its production.
If, then, self-consciousness exists in man, it necessarily presupposes
an absolutely _original_, therefore _unconditioned, self-consciousness_.
Human self-consciousness, in its temporal actualization, of course
presupposes a nature-basis upon which it elevates itself; but it is only
possible on the ground that an eternal self-conscious Mind ordained and
rules over all the processes of nature, and implants the divine spark of
the personal spirit with the corporeal frame, to realize itself in the
light-flame of human self-consciousness. The original light of the
divine self-consciousness is eternally and absolutely first and before
all. "Thus, in the depths of our own self-consciousness, as its
concealed background, the God-consciousness reveals itself to us. This
descent into our inmost being is at the same time an ascent to God.
Every deep reflection on ourselves breaks through the mere crust of
world-consciousness, which separates us from the inmost truth of our
existence, and leads us up to Him in whom we live and move and

[Footnote 115: Müller, "Christian Doctrine of Sin," vol. i. p. 81.]

Self-determination, equally with self-consciousness, exists in us under
manifold _limitations_. Self-determination is limited by physical,
corporeal, and mental conditions, so that there is "an impassable
boundary line drawn around the area of volitional freedom." But the most
fundamental and original limitation is that of _duty_. The
self-determining power of man is not only circumscribed by necessary
conditions, but also by the _moral law_ in the consciousness of man.
Self-determination alone does not suffice for the full conception of
responsible freedom; it only becomes, _will_, properly by its being an
intelligent and conscious determination; that is, the rational subject
is able previously to recognize "the right," and present before his mind
that which he _ought_ to do, that which he is morally bound to realize
and actualize by his own self-determination and choice. Accordingly we
find in our inmost being a _sense of obligation_ to obey the moral law
as revealed in the conscience. As we can not become conscious of self
without also becoming conscious of God, so we can not become properly
conscious of self-determination until we have recognized in the
conscience a law for the movements of the will.

Now this moral law, as revealed in the conscience, is not a mere
autonomy--a simple subjective law having no relation to a personal
lawgiver out of and above man. Every admonition of conscience directly
excites the consciousness of a God to whom man is accountable. The
universal consciousness of our race, as revealed in history, has always
associated the phenomena of conscience with the idea of a personal Power
above man, to whom he is subject and upon whom he depends. In every age,
the voice of conscience has been regarded as the voice of God, so that
when it has filled man with guilty apprehensions, he has had recourse to
sacrifices, and penances, and prayers to expatiate his wrath.

It is clear, then, that if man has _duties_ there must he a
self-conscious Will by whom these duties are imposed, for only a real
will can be legislative. If man has a _sense of obligation_, there must
be a supreme authority by which he is obliged. If he is _responsible_,
there must be a being to whom he is accountable.[116] It can not be said
that he is accountable to himself, for by that supposition the idea of
duty is obliterated, and "right" becomes identical with mere interest or
pleasure. It can not be said that he is simply responsible to
society--to mere conventions of human opinions and human
governments--for then "_right_" becomes a mere creature of human
legislation, and "_justice_" is nothing but the arbitrary will of the
strong who tyrannize over the weak. Might constitutes right. Against
such hypotheses the human mind, however, instinctively revolts. Mankind
feel, universally, that there is an authority beyond all human
governments, and a higher law above all human laws, from whence all
their powers are derived. That higher law is the Law of God, that
supreme authority is the God of Justice. To this eternally just God,
innocence, under oppression and wrong, has made its proud appeal, like
that of Prometheus to the elements, to the witnessing clouds, to coming
ages, and has been sustained and comforted. And to that higher law the
weak have confidently appealed against the unrighteous enactments of the
strong, and have finally conquered. The last and inmost ground of all
obligation is thus the conscious relation of the moral creature to God.
The sense of absolute dependence upon a Supreme Being compels man, even
while conscious of subjective freedom, to recognize at the same time his
obligation to determine himself in harmony with the will of Him "in whom
we live, and move, and are."

[Footnote 116: "The thought of God will wake up a terrible monitor whose
name is Judge."--Kant.]

This feeling of dependence, and this consequent sense of obligation, lie
at the very foundation of all religion. They lead the mind towards God,
and anchor it in the Divine. They prompt man to pray, and inspire him
with an instinctive confidence in the efficacy of prayer. So that prayer
is natural to man, and necessary to man. Never yet has the traveller
found a people on earth without prayer. Races of men have been found
without houses, without raiment, without arts and sciences, but never
without prayer any more than without speech. Plutarch wrote, eighteen
centuries ago, If you go through all the world, you may find cities
without walls, without letters, without rulers, without money, without
theatres, but never without temples and gods, or without _prayers_,
oaths, prophecies, and sacrifices, used to obtain blessings and
benefits, or to avert curses and calamities.[117] The naturalness of
prayer is admitted even by the modern unbeliever. Gerrit Smith says,
"Let us who believe that the religion of reason calls for the religion
of nature, remember that the flow of prayer is just as natural as the
flow of water; the prayerless man has become an unnatural man."[118] Is
man in sorrow or in danger, his most natural and spontaneous refuge is
in prayer. The suffering, bewildered, terror-stricken soul turns towards
God. "Nature in an agony is no atheist; the soul that knows not where to
fly, flies to God." And in the hour of deliverance and joy, a feeling of
gratitude pervades the soul--and gratitude, too, not to some blind
nature-force, to some unconscious and impersonal power, but gratitude to
God. The soul's natural and appropriate language in the hour of
deliverance is thanksgiving and praise.

[Footnote 117: "Against Kalotes," ch. xxxi.]

[Footnote 118: "Religion of Reason."]

This universal tendency to recognize a superior Power upon whom we are
dependent, and by whose hand our well-being and our destinies are
absolutely controlled, has revealed itself even amid the most
complicated forms of polytheistic worship. Amid the even and undisturbed
flow of every-day life they might be satisfied with the worship of
subordinate deities, but in the midst of sudden and unexpected
calamities, and of terrible catastrophes, then they cried to the Supreme
God.[119] "When alarmed by an earthquake," says Aulus Gellius, "the
ancient Romans were accustomed to pray, not to some one of the gods
individually, but to God in general, _as to the Unknown_."[120]

[Footnote 119: "At critical moments, when the deepest feelings of the
human heart are stirred, the old Greeks and Romans seem suddenly to have
dropped all mythological ideas, and to have fallen back on the universal
language of true religion."--Max Müller, "Science of Language." p. 436.]

[Footnote 120: Tholuck, "Nature and Influence of Heathenism," p. 23.]

"Thus also Minutius Felix says, 'When they stretch out their hands to
heaven they mention only God; and these forms of speech, _He is great_,
and _God is true_, and _If God grant_(which are the natural language of
the vulgar), are a plain confession of the truth of Christianity.' And
also Lactantius testifies, 'When they swear, and when they wish, and
when they give thanks, they name not many gods, but God only; the truth,
by a secret force of nature, thus breaking forth from them whether they
will or no;' and again he says, 'They fly to God; aid is desired of God;
they pray that God would help them; and when one is reduced to extreme
necessity, he begs for God's sake, and by his divine power alone
implores the mercy of men.'"[121] The account which is given by Diogenes
Laertius[122] of the erection of altars bearing the inscription "to the
unknown God," clearly shows that they had their origin in this general
sentiment of dependence on a higher Power. "The Athenians being
afflicted with pestilence invited Epimenides to lustrate their city. The
method adopted by him was to carry several sheep to the Areopagus,
whence they were left to wander as they pleased, under the observation
of persons sent to attend them. As each sheep lay down it was sacrificed
to _the propitious God_. By this ceremony it is said the city was
relieved; but as it was still unknown what deity was propitious, an
altar was erected _to the unknown God_ on every spot where a sheep had
been sacrificed."[123]

[Footnote 121: Cudworth, vol. i. p. 300.]

[Footnote 122: "Lives of Philosophers," book i., Epimenides.]

[Footnote 123: See Townsend's "Chronological Arrangement of New
Testament," note 19, part xii.; Doddridge's "Exposition;" and Barnes's
"Notes on Acts."]

"The unknown God" was their deliverer from the plague. And the erection
of an altar to him was a confession of their absolute dependence upon
him, of their obligation to worship him, as well as of their need of a
deeper knowledge of him. The gods who were known and named were not able
to deliver them in times of calamity, and they were compelled to look
beyond the existing forms of Grecian mythology for relief. Beyond all
the gods of the Olympus there was "one God over all," the Father of gods
and men, the Creator of all the subordinate local deities, upon whom
even these created gods were dependent, upon whom man was absolutely
dependent, and therefore in times of deepest need, of severest
suffering, of extremest peril, then they cried to the living, supreme,
eternal God.[124]

[Footnote 124: "The men and women of the Iliad and Odyssey are
habitually religious. The language of religion is often on their
tongues, as it is ever on the lips of every body in the East at this
day. The thought of the gods, and of their providence and government of
the world, is a familiar thought. They seem to have an abiding
conviction of their _dependence_ on the gods. The results of all actions
depend on the will of the gods; _it lies on their knees_ (θεῶν ἐν
γούνασι κεἶται, Od. i. 267), is the often repeated and significant
expression of their feeling of dependence."--Tyler, "Theology of Greek
Poets," p. 165.]

3. The Athenians developed in a high degree those religious emotions
which always accompany the consciousness of dependence on a Supreme

The first emotional element of all religion is _fear_. This is
unquestionably true, whether religion be considered from a Christian or
a heathen stand-point. "The _fear_ of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom." Associated with, perhaps preceding, all definite ideas of God,
there exists in the human mind certain feelings of _awe_, and
_reverence_, and _fear_ which arise spontaneously in presence of the
vastness, and grandeur, and magnificence of the universe, and of the
power and glory of which the created universe is but the symbol and
shadow. There is the felt apprehension that, beyond and back of the
visible and the tangible, there is a _personal, living Power_, which is
the foundation of all, and which fashions all, and fills all with its
light and life; that "the universe is the living vesture in which the
Invisible has robed his mysterious loveliness." There is the feeling of
an _overshadowing Presence_ which "compasseth man behind and before, and
lays its hand upon him."

This wonderful presentiment of an invisible power and presence pervading
and informing all nature is beautifully described by Wordsworth in his
history of the development of the Scottish herdsman's mind:

     So the foundations of his mind were laid
     In such communion, not from terror free.
     While yet a child, and long before his time,
     Had he perceived the presence and the power
     Of greatness; and deep feelings had impressed
     So vividly great objects, that they lay
     Upon his mind like substances, whose presence
     Perplexed the bodily sense.
                            ... In the after-day
     Of boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn,
     And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags,
     He sat, and even in their fixed lineaments,
     Or from the power of a peculiar eye,
     Or by creative feeling overborne,
     Or by predominance of thought oppressed,
     Even in their fixed and steady lineaments
     He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind....
     Such was the Boy,--but for the growing Youth,
     What soul was his, when, from the naked top
     Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
     Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked:
     Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
     And ocean's liquid mass, in gladness lay
     Beneath him; far and wide the clouds were touched.
     And in their silent faces could he read
     Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
     Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
     The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form
     All melted into him; they swallowed up
     His animal being; in them did he live,
     And by them did he live; they were his life,
     In such access of mind, in such high hour
     Of visitation from the living God.[125]

But it may be said this is all mere poetry; to which we answer, in the
words of Aristotle, "Poetry is a thing more philosophical and weightier
than history."[126] The true poet is the interpreter of nature. His soul
is in the fullest sympathy with the grand ideas which nature symbolizes,
and he "deciphers the universe as the autobiography of the Infinite
Spirit." Spontaneous feeling is a kind of inspiration.

It is true that all minds may not be developed in precisely the same
manner as Wordsworth's herdsman's, because the development of every
individual mind is modified in some measure by exterior conditions. Men
may contemplate nature from different points of view. Some may be
impressed with one aspect of nature, some with another. But none will
fail to recognize a mysterious _presence_ and invisible _power_ beneath
all the fleeting and changeful phenomena of the universe. "And sometimes
there are moments of tenderness, of sorrow, and of vague mystery which
bring the feeling of the Infinite Presence close to the human

[Footnote 125: "The Wanderer."]

[Footnote 126: Poet, ch. ix.]

[Footnote 127: Robertson.]

Now we hold that _this feeling and sentiment of the Divine_--the
supernatural--exists in every mind. It may be, it undoubtedly is,
somewhat modified in its manifestations by the circumstances in which
men are placed, and the degree of culture they have enjoyed. The African
Fetichist, in his moral and intellectual debasement, conceives a
supernatural power enshrined in every object of nature. The rude Fijian
regards with dread, and even terror, the Being who darts the lightnings
and wields the thunderbolts. The Indian "sees God in clouds, and hears
him in the wind." The Scottish "herdsman" on the lonely mountain-top
"feels the presence and the power of greatness," and "in its fixed and
steady lineaments he sees an ebbing and a flowing mind." The
philosopher[128] lifts his eyes to "the starry heavens" in all the depth
of their concave, and with all their constellations of glory moving on
in solemn grandeur, and, to his mind, these immeasurable regions seem
"filled with the splendors of the Deity, and crowded with the monuments
of his power;" or he turns his eye to "the Moral Law within," and he
hears the voice of an intelligent and a righteous God. In all these
cases we have a revelation of the sentiment of the Divine, which dwells
alike in all human minds. In the Athenians this sentiment was developed
in a high degree. The serene heaven which Greece enjoyed, and which was
the best-loved roof of its inhabitants, the brilliant sun, the mountain
scenery of unsurpassed grandeur, the deep blue sea, an image of the
infinite, these poured all their fullness on the Athenian mind, and
furnished the most favorable conditions for the development of the
religious sentiments. The people of Athens spent most of their time in
the open air in communion with nature, and in the cheerful and temperate
enjoyment of existence. To recognize the Deity in the living powers of
nature, and especially in man, as the highest sensible manifestation of
the Divine, was the peculiar prerogative of the Grecian mind. And here
in Athens, art also vied with nature to deepen the religious sentiments.
It raised the mind to ideal conceptions of a beauty and a sublimity
which transcended all mere nature-forms, and by images, of supernatural
grandeur and loveliness presented to the Athenians symbolic
representations of the separate attributes and operations of the
invisible God. The plastic art of Greece was designed to express
religious ideas, and was consecrated by religious feeling. Thus the
facts of the case are strikingly in harmony with the words of the
Apostle: "All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in
religion," your "reverence for the Deity," your "fear of God."[129] "The
sacred objects" in Athens, and especially "the altar to the Unknown
God," were all regarded by Paul as evidences of their instinctive faith
in the invisible, the supernatural, the divine.

[Footnote 128: Kant, in "Critique of Practical Reason."]

[Footnote 129: See Parkhurst's Lexicon, under _Δεισιδαιμονία_, which
Suidas explains by εὐλάβεια περὶ τὸ θεῖον--_reverence for the Divine_,
and Hesychius by Φυβυθέια--_fear of God_. Also, Josephus, Antiq., book
x. ch. iii, § 2: "Manasseh, after his repentance and reformation, strove
to behave himself (τῇ δεισιδαιμονία χρῆσθαί) in the _most religious
manner_ towards God." Also see A. Clarke on Acts xvii.]

Along with this sentiment of the Divine there is also associated, in all
human minds, an _instinctive yearning_ after the Invisible; not a mere
feeling of curiosity to pierce the mystery of being and of life, but
what Paul designates "a feeling after God," which prompts man to seek
after a deeper knowledge, and a more immediate consciousness. To attain
this deeper knowledge--this more conscious realization of the being and
the presence of God, has been the effort of all philosophy and all
religion in all ages. The Hindoo Yogis proposes to withdraw into his
inmost self, and by a complete suspension of all his active powers to
become absorbed and swallowed up in the Infinite.[130] Plato and his
followers sought by an immediate abstraction to apprehend "the
unchangeable and permanent Being," and, by a loving contemplation, to
become "assimilated to the Deity," and in this way to attain the
immediate consciousness of God. The Neo-Platonic mystic sought by
asceticism and self-mortification to prepare himself for divine
communings. He would contemplate the divine perfections in himself; and
in an _ecstatic_ state, wherein all individuality vanishes, he would
realize a union, or identity, with the Divine Essence.[131] While the
universal Church of God, indeed, has in her purest days always taught
that man may, by inward purity and a believing love, be rendered capable
of spiritually apprehending, and consciously feeling, the presence of
God. Some may be disposed to pronounce this as all mere mysticism. We
answer, The living internal energy of religion is always _mystical_, it
is grounded in _feeling_--a "_sensus numinis_" common to humanity. It is
the mysterious sentiment of the Divine; it is the prolepsis of the human
spirit reaching out towards the Infinite; the living susceptibility of
our spiritual nature stretching after the powers and influences of the
higher world. It is upon this inner instinct of the supernatural that
all religion rests. I do not say every religious idea, but whatever is
positive, practical, powerful, durable, and popular. Everywhere, in all
climates, in all epochs of history, and in all degrees of civilization,
man is animated by the sentiment--I would rather say, the
presentiment--that the world in which he lives, the order of things in
the midst of which he moves, the facts which regularly and constantly
succeed each other, are not _all_. In vain he daily makes discoveries
and conquests in this vast universe; in vain he observes and learnedly
verifies the general laws which govern it; _his thought is not inclosed
in the world surrendered to his science_; the spectacle of it does not
suffice his soul, it is raised beyond it; it searches after and catches
glimpses of something beyond it; it aspires higher both for the universe
and itself; it aims at another destiny, another master.

[Footnote 130: Vaughan, "Hours with the Mystics," vol. i. p. 44.]

[Footnote 131: Id. ib., vol. i. p. 65.]

      "'Par delà tous ces cieux le Dieu des cieux réside.'"[132]

So Voltaire has said, and the God who is beyond the skies is not nature
personified, but a supernatural Personality. It is to this highest
Personality that all religions address themselves. It is to bring man
into communion with Him that they exist.[133]

[Footnote 132: "Beyond all these heavens the God of the heavens

[Footnote 133: Guizot, "L'Eglise et la Societé Chretiennes" en 1861.]

4. The Athenians had that deep consciousness of sin and guilt, and of
consequent liability to punishment, which confesses the need of
expiation by piacular sacrifices.

Every man feels himself to be an accountable being, and he is conscious
that in wrong-doing he is deserving of blame and of punishment. Deep
within the soul of the transgressor is the consciousness that he is a
guilty man, and he is haunted with the perpetual apprehension of a
retribution which, like the spectre of evil omen, crosses his every
path, and meets him at every turn.

     "'Tis guilt alone,
       Like brain-sick frenzy in its feverish mode,
       Fills the light air with visionary terrors,
       And shapeless forms of fear."

Man does not possess this consciousness of guilt so much as it holds
possession of him. It pursues the fugitive from justice, and it lays
hold on the man who has resisted or escaped the hand of the executioner.
The sense of guilt is a power over and above man; a power so wonderful
that it often compels the most reckless criminal to deliver himself up,
with the confession of his deed, to the sword of justice, when a
falsehood would have easily protected him. Man is only able by
persevering, ever-repeated efforts at self-induration, against the
remonstrances of conscience, to withdraw himself from its power. His
success is, however, but very partial; for sometimes, in the moments of
his greatest security, the reproaches of conscience break in upon him
like a flood, and sweep away all his refuge of lies. "The evil
conscience is the divine bond which binds the created spirit, even in
deep apostasy, to its Original. In the consciousness of guilt there is
revealed the essential relation of our spirit to God, although
misunderstood by man until he has something higher than his evil
conscience. The trouble and anguish which the remonstrances of this
consciousness excite--the inward unrest which sometimes seizes the slave
of sin--are proofs that he has not quite broken away from God."[134]

[Footnote 134: Müller, "Christian Doctrine of Sin," vol. i. pp. 225,

In Grecian mythology there was a very distinct recognition of the power
of conscience, and a reference of its authority to the Divinity,
together with the idea of retribution. Nemesis was regarded as the
impersonation of the upbraidings of conscience, of the natural dread of
punishment that springs up in the human heart after the commission of
sin. And as the feeling of remorse may be considered as the consequence
of the displeasure and vengeance of an offended God, Nemesis came to be
regarded as the goddess of retribution, relentlessly pursuing the guilty
until she has driven them into irretrievable woe and ruin. The Erinyes
or Eumenides are the deities whose business it is to punish, in hades,
the crimes committed upon earth. When an aggravated crime has excited
their displeasure they manifest their greatest power in the disquietude
of conscience.

Along with this deep consciousness of guilt, and this fear of
retribution which haunts the guilty mind, there has also rested upon the
heart of universal humanity a deep and abiding conviction that
_something must be done to expiate the guilt of sin_--some restitution
must be made, some suffering must be endured,[135] some sacrifice
offered to atone for past misdeeds. Hence it is that men in all ages
have had recourse to penances and prayers, to self-inflicted tortures
and costly sacrifices to appease a righteous anger which their sins had
excited, and avert an impending punishment. That sacrifice to atone for
sin has prevailed universally--that it has been practised "_sem-per,
ubique, et ab omnibus,_" always, in all places, and by all men--will not
be denied by the candid and competent inquirer. The evidence which has
been collected from ancient history by Grotius and Magee, and the
additional evidence from contemporaneous history, which is being now
furnished by the researches of ethnologists and Christian missionaries,
is conclusive. No intelligent man can doubt the fact. Sacrificial
offerings have prevailed in every nation and in every age. "Almost the
entire worship of the pagan nations consisted in rites of deprecation.
Fear of the Divine displeasure seems to have been the leading feature of
their religious impressions; and in the diversity, the costliness, the
cruelty of their sacrifices they sought to appease gods to whose wrath
they felt themselves exposed, from a consciousness of sin, unrelieved by
any information as to the means of escaping its effects."[136]

[Footnote 135: Punishment is the penalty due to sin; or, to use the
favorite expression of Homer, not unusual in the Scriptures also, it is
the payment of a debt incurred by sin. When he is punished, the criminal
is said to pay off or pay back (άποτίνειν) his crimes; in other words,
to expiate or atone for them (Iliad, iv. 161,162),

      σύν τε μεγάλω ἀπέτισαν σίν σφῇσιν κεφαλῇσι γυναιξί τε καὶ

That is, they shall pay off, pay back, atone, etc., for their treachery
with a great price, with their lives, and their wives and
children.--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 194.]

[Footnote 136: Magee, "On the Atonement," No. V. p. 30.]

It must be known to every one at all acquainted with Greek mythology
that the idea of _expiation_--atonement--was a fundamental idea of their
religion. Independent of any historical research, a very slight glance
at the Greek and Roman classics, especially the poets, who were the
theologians of that age, can leave little doubt upon this head.[137]
Their language everywhere announces the notion of _propitiation_, and,
particularly the Latin, furnishes the terms which are still employed in
theology. We need only mention the words ἱλασμός, ἱλάσκομαι, λύτρον,
περίψημα, as examples from the Greek, and _placare, propitiare, expiare,
piaculum_, from the Latin. All these indicate that the notion of
expiation was interwoven into the very modes of thought and framework of
the language of the ancient Greeks.

[Footnote 137: In Homer the doctrine is expressly taught that the gods
may, and sometimes do, remit the penalty, when duly propitiated by
prayers and sacrifices accompanied by suitable reparations ("Iliad," ix.
497 sqq.). "We have a practical illustration of this doctrine in the
first book of the Iliad, where Apollo averts the pestilence from the
army, when the daughter of his priest is returned without ransom, and a
_sacrifice_ (ἑλατόμβη) is sent to the altar of the god at sacred
Chrysa.... Apollo hearkens to the intercession of his priest, accepts
the sacred hecatomb, is delighted with the accompanying songs and
libations, and sends back the embassy with a favoring breeze, and a
favorable answer to the army, who meanwhile had been _purifying_
(ἀπελυμαίνοντο) themselves, and offering unblemished hecatombs of bulls
and goats on the shore of the sea which washes the place of their

"The object of the propitiatory embassy to Apollo is thus stated by
Ulysses: Agamemnon, king of men, has sent me to bring back thy daughter
Chryses, and to offer a sacred hecatomb for (ὑπέρ) the Greeks, that we
may _propitiate_ (ιλασόμεσθα) the king, who now sends woes and many
groans upon the Argives" (442 sqq.).--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets,"
pp. 196, 197.]

We do not deem it needful to discuss at length the question which has
been so earnestly debated among theologians, as to whether the idea of
expiation be a primitive and necessary idea of the human mind, or
whether the practice of piacular sacrifices came into the post-diluvian
world with Noah, as a positive institution of a primitive religion then
first directly instituted by God. On either hypothesis the practice of
expiatory rites derives its authority from God; in the latter case, by
an outward and verbal revelation, in the former by an inward and
intuitive revelation.

This much, however, must be conceded on all hands, that there are
certain fundamental intuitions, universal and necessary, which underlie
the almost universal practice of expiatory sacrifice, namely, _the
universal consciousness of guilt, and the universal conviction that
something must be done to expiate guilt_, to compensate for wrong, and
to atone for past misdeeds. But _how_ that expiation can be effected,
how that atonement can be made, is a question which reason does not seem
competent to answer. That personal sin can be atoned for by vicarious
suffering, that national guilt can be expiated and national punishment
averted by animal sacrifices, or even by human sacrifices, is repugnant
to rather than conformable with natural reason. There exists no
discernible connection between the one and the other. We may suppose
that eucharistic, penitential, and even deprecatory sacrifices may have
originated in the light of nature and reason, but we are unable to
account for the practice of piacular sacrifices for substitutional
atonement, on the same principle. The ethical principle, that one's own
sins are not transferable either in their guilt or punishment, is so
obviously just that we feel it must have been as clear to the mind of
the Greek who brought his victim to be offered to Zeus, as it is to the
philosophic mind of to-day.[138] The knowledge that the Divine
displeasure can be averted by sacrifice is not, by Plato, grounded upon
any intuition of reason, as is the existence of God, the idea of the
true, the just, and good, but on "tradition,"[139] and the
"interpretations" of Apollo. "To the Delphian Apollo there remains the
greatest, noblest, and most important of legal institutions--the
erection of temples, sacrifices, and other services to the gods,... and
what other services should be gone through with a view to their
_propitiation_. Such things as these, indeed, _we neither know
ourselves, nor in founding the State would we intrust them to others_,
if we be wise;... the god of the country is the natural interpreter to
all men about such matters."[140]

[Footnote 138: "He that hath done the deed, to suffer for it--thus cries
a proverb thrice hallowed by age."--Æschylus, "Choëph," 311.]

[Footnote 139: "Laws," book vi. ch. xv.]

[Footnote 140: "Republic," book iv. ch. v.]

The origin of expiatory sacrifices can not, we think, be explained
except on the principle of a primitive revelation and a positive
appointment of God. They can not be understood except as a
divinely-appointed symbolism, in which there is exhibited a confession
of personal guilt and desert of punishment; an intimation and a hope
that God will be propitious and merciful; and a typical promise and
prophecy of a future Redeemer from sin, who shall "put away sin by the
sacrifice of himself." This sacred rite was instituted in connection
with the _protevangelium_ given to our first parents; it was diffused
among the nations by tradition, and has been kept alive as a general,
and, indeed, almost universal observance, by that deep sense of sin, and
consciousness of guilt, and personal urgency of the need of a
reconciliation, which are so clearly displayed in Grecian mythology.

The legitimate inference we find ourselves entitled to draw from the
words of Paul, when fairly interpreted in the light of the past
religious history of the world, is, that the Athenians were a religious
people; that is, _they were, however unknowing, believers in and
worshippers of the One Supreme God_.



"That there is one Supreme Deity, both philosophers and poets, and even
the vulgar worshippers of the gods themselves frequently acknowledge;
which because the assertors of gods well understood, they affirm these
gods of theirs to preside over the several parts of the world, yet so
that there is only one chief governor. Whence it follows, that all their
other gods can be no other than ministers and officers which one
greatest God, who is omnipotent, hath variously appointed, and
constituted so as to serve his command."--LACTANTIUS.

The conclusion reached in the previous chapter that the Athenians were
believers in and worshippers of the One Supreme God, has been challenged
with some considerable show of reason and force, on the ground that they
were _Polytheists_ and _Idolaters_.

An objection which presents itself so immediately on the very face of
the sacred narrative, and which is sustained by the unanimous voice of
history, is entitled to the fullest consideration. And as the interests
of truth are infinitely more precious than the maintenance of any
theory, however plausible, we are constrained to accord to this
objection the fullest weight, and give to it the most impartial
consideration. We can not do otherwise than at once admit that the
Athenians were _Polytheists_--they worshipped "many gods" besides "the
unknown God." It is equally true that they were _Idolaters_--they
worshipped images or statues of the gods, which images were also, by an
easy metonymy, called "gods."

But surely no one supposes that this is all that can be said upon the
subject, and that, after such admissions, the discussion must be closed.
On the contrary, we have, as yet, scarce caught a glimpse of the real
character and genius of Grecian polytheistic worship, and we have not
made the first approach towards a philosophy of Grecian mythology.

The assumption that the heathen regarded the images "graven by art and
device of man" as the real creators of the world and man, or as having
any control over the destinies of men, sinks at once under the weight of
its own absurdity. Such hypothesis is repudiated with scorn and
indignation by the heathens themselves. Cotta, in _Cicero_, declares
explicitly: "though it be common and familiar language amongst us to
call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus, yet who can think any one so mad as
to take that to be really a god that he feeds upon?"[141] And _Plutarch_
condemns the whole practice of giving the names of gods and goddesses to
inanimate objects, as absurd, impious, and atheistical: "they who give
the names of gods to senseless matter and inanimate things, and such as
are destroyed by men in the using, beget most wicked and atheistical
opinions in the minds of men, since it can not be conceived how these
things should be gods, for nothing that is inanimate is a god."[142] And
so also the Hindoo, the Buddhist, the American Indian, the Fijian of
to-day, repel the notion that their visible images are real gods, or
that they worship them instead of the unseen God.

[Footnote 141: Cudworth's "Intell. System," vol. ii. p. 257, Eng. ed.]

[Footnote 142: Quoted in Cudworth's "Intell. System," vol. ii. p. 258,
Eng. ed.]

And furthermore, that even the invisible divinities which these images
were designed to represent, were each independent, self-existent beings,
and that the stories which are told concerning them by Homer and Hesiod
were received in a literal sense, is equally improbable. The earliest
philosophers knew as well as we know, that the Deity, in order to be
Deity, must be either _perfect_ or nothing--that he must be _one_, not
many--without parts and passions; and they were scandalized and shocked
by the religious fables of the ancient mythology as much as we are.
_Xenophanes_, who lived, as we know, before Pythagoras, accuses Homer
and Hesiod of having ascribed to the gods every thing that is
disgraceful amongst men, as stealing, adultery, and deceit. He remarks
"that men seem to have created their gods, and to have given them their
own mind, and voice, and figure." He himself declares that "God is
_one,_ the greatest amongst gods and men, neither in form nor in thought
like unto men." He calls the battles of the Titans and the Giants, and
the Centaurs, "the inventions of former generations," and he demands
that God shall be praised in holy songs and nobler strains.[143]
Diogenes Laertius relates the following of _Pythagoras_, "that when he
descended to the shades below, he saw the soul of Hesiod bound to a
pillar of brass and gnashing his teeth; and that of Homer, as suspended
on a tree, and surrounded by serpents; as a punishment for the things
they had said of the gods."[144] These poets, who had corrupted
theology, _Plato_ proposes to exclude from his ideal Republic; or if
permitted at all, they must be subjected to a rigid expurgation. "We
shall," says he, "have to repudiate a large part of those fables which
are now in vogue; and, especially, of what I call the greater
fables,--the stories which Hesiod and Homer tell us. In these stories
there is a fault which deserves the gravest condemnation; namely, when
an author gives a _bad representation of gods and heroes_. We must
condemn such a poet, as we should condemn a painter, whose pictures bear
no resemblance to the objects which he tries to imitate. For instance,
the poet Hesiod related an ugly story when he told how Uranus acted, and
how Kronos had his revenge upon him. They are offensive stories, and
must not be repeated in our cities. Not yet is it proper to say, in any
case,--what is indeed untrue--that gods wage war against gods, and
intrigue and fight among themselves. Stories like the chaining of Juno
by her son Vulcan, and the flinging of Vulcan out of heaven for trying
to take his mother's part when his father was beating her, and all other
battles of the gods which are found in Homer, must be refused admission
into our state, _whether they are allegorical or not_. For a child can
not discriminate between what is allegorical and what is not; and
whatever is adopted, as a matter of belief, in childhood, has a tendency
to become fixed and indelible; and therefore we ought to esteem it as of
the greatest importance that the fables which children first hear should
be adapted, as far as possible, to promote virtue."[145]

[Footnote 143: Max Muller, "Science of Language," pp. 405, 406.]

[Footnote 144: "Lives," bk. viii. ch. xix. p. 347.]

[Footnote 145: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xvii.]

If, then, poetic and allegorical representations of divine things are to
be permitted in the ideal republic, then the founders of the state are
to prescribe "the moulds in which the poets are to cast their fictions."

"Now what are these moulds to be in the case of _Theology?_ They may be
described as follows: It is right always to represent God as he really
is, whether the poet describe him in an epic, or a lyric, or a dramatic
poem. Now God is, beyond all else, _good in reality_, and therefore so
to be represented. But nothing that is good is hurtful. That which is
good hurts not; does no evil; is the cause of no evil. That which is
good is beneficial; is the cause of good. And, therefore, that which is
good is not the cause of _all_ which is and happens, but only of that
which is as it should be.... The good things we must ascribe to God,
whilst we must seek elsewhere, and not in him, the causes of evil

We must, then, express our disapprobation of Homer, or any other poet,
who is guilty of such a foolish blunder as to tell us (Iliad, xxiv. 660)

     'Fast by the threshold of Jove's court are placed
     Two casks--one stored with evil, one with good:'

and that he for whom the Thunderer mingles both--

     'He leads a life checkered with good and ill.'

But as for the man to whom he gives the bitter cup unmixed--

                                         'He walks
     The blessed earth unbless'd, go where he will.'

And if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties by the
act of Pandarus was brought about by Athené and Zeus (Iliad, ii. 60), we
should refuse our approbation. Nor can we allow it to be said that the
strife and trial of strength between tween the gods (Iliad, xx.) was
instigated by Themis and Zeus.... Such language can not be used without
irreverence; it is both injurious to us, and contradictory in

Inasmuch as God is perfect to the utmost in beauty and goodness, _he
abides ever the same_, and without any variation in his form. Then let
no poet tell us that (Odyss. xvii. 582)

                   'In similitude of strangers oft
     The Gods, who can with ease all shapes assume,
     Repair to populous cities.'

And let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, or introduce in tragedies, or
any other poems, Hera transformed into the guise of a princess

     'Alms for the life-giving children of Inachus, river of Argos,'

not to mention many other falsehoods which we must interdict.[147]

"When a poet holds such language concerning the gods, we shall be angry
with him, and refuse him a chorus. Neither shall we allow our teachers
to use his writings for the instruction of the young, if we would have
our guards grow up to be as god-like and god-fearing as it is possible
for men to be."[148]

We are thus constrained by the statements of the heathens themselves, as
well as by the dictates of common sense, to look beyond the external
drapery and the material forms of Polytheism for some deeper and truer
meaning that shall be more in harmony with the facts of the universal
religious consciousness of our race. The religion of ancient Greece
consisted in something more than the fables of Jupiter and Juno, of
Apollo and Minerva, of Venus and Bacchus. "Through the rank and
poisonous vegetation of mythic phraseology, we may always catch a
glimpse of an original stem round which it creeps and winds itself, and
without which it can not enjoy that parasitical existence which has been
mistaken for independent vitality."[149]

[Footnote 146: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xix.]

[Footnote 147: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xx. Much more to the same effect
may be seen in ch. ii.]

[Footnote 148: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xxi.]

[Footnote 149: Max Müller, "Science of Language," 2d series, p. 433.]

It is an obvious truth, attested by the voice of universal consciousness
as revealed in history, that the human mind can never rest satisfied
within the sphere of sensible phenomena. Man is impelled by an inward
necessity to pass, in thought, beyond the boundary-line of sense, and
inquire after causes and entities which his reason assures him must lie
beneath all sensible appearances. He must and will interpret nature
according to the forms of his own personality, or according to the
fundamental ideas of his own reason. In the childlike subjectivity of
the undisciplined mind he will either transfer to nature the phenomena
of his own personality, regarding the world as a living organism which
has within it an informing soul, and thus attain a _pantheistic_
conception of the universe; or else he will fix upon some extraordinary
and inexplicable phenomenon of nature, and, investing it with
_super_natural significance, will rise from thence to a religious and
_theocratic_ conception of nature as a whole. An intelligence--a mind
_within_ nature, and inseparable from nature, or else _above_ nature and
governing nature, is, for man, an inevitable thought.

It is equally obvious that humanity can never relegate itself from a
supernatural origin, neither can it ever absolve itself from a permanent
correlation with the Divine. Man feels within him an instinctive
nobility. He did not arise out of the bosom of nature; in some
mysterious way he has descended from an eternal mind, he is "the
offspring of God." And furthermore, a theocratic conception of nature,
associated with a pre-eminent regard for certain apparently supernatural
experiences in the history of humanity, becomes the foundation of
governments, of civil authority, and of laws. Society can not be founded
without the aid of the Deity, and a commonwealth can only be organized
by Divine interposition. "A Ceres must appear and sow the fields with
corn." And a Numa or a Lycurgus must be heralded by the oracle as

     "Dear to Jove, and all who sit in the halls of the Olympus."

He must be a "descendant of Zeus," appointed by the gods to rule, and
one who will "prove himself a god." These divinely-appointed rulers were
regarded as the ministers of God, the visible representatives of the
unseen Power which really governs all. The divine government must also
have its invisible agents--its Nemesis, and Themis, and Diké, the
ministers of law, of justice, and of retribution; and its Jupiter, and
Juno, and Neptune, and Pluto, ruling, with delegated powers, in the
heavens, the air, the sea, and the nethermost regions. So that, in fact,
there exists no nation, no commonwealth, no history without a Theophany,
and along with it certain sacred legends detailing the origin of the
people, the government, the country itself, and the world at large. This
is especially true of India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Their primitive
history is eminently _mythological_.

Grecian polytheism can not be otherwise regarded than as a
poetico-historical religion of _myth_ and _symbol_ which is under-laid
by a natural Theism; a parasitical growth which winds itself around the
original stem of instinctive faith in a supernatural Power and Presence
which pervades the universe. The myths are oral traditions, floating
down from that dim; twilight of _poetic_ history, which separates real
history, with its fixed chronology, from the unmeasured and unrecorded
eternity--faint echoes from that mystic border-land which divides the
natural from the supernatural, and in which they seem to have been
marvellously commingled. They are the lingering memories of those
manifestations of God to men, in which he or his celestial ministers
came into visible intercourse with our race; the reality of which is
attested by sacred history. In all these myths there is a theogonic and
cosmogonic element. They tell of the generation of the celestial and
aërial divinities--the subordinate agents and ministers of the Divine
government. They attempt an explanation of the genesis of the visible
universe, the origin of humanity, and the development of human society.
In the presence of history, the substance of these myths is preserved by
_symbols_, that is, by means of natural or artificial, real or striking
objects, which, by some analogy or arbitrary association, shall suggest
the _idea_ to the mind. These symbols were designed to represent the
invisible attributes and operations of the Deity; the powers that
vitalize nature, that control the elements, that preside over cities,
that protect the nations: indeed, all the agencies of the physical and
moral government of God. Beneath all the pagan legends of gods, and
underlying all the elaborate mechanism of pagan worship, there are
unquestionably philosophical ideas, and theological conceptions, and
religious sentiments, which give as meaning, and even a mournful
grandeur to the whole.

Whilst the pagan polytheistic worship is, under one aspect, to be
regarded as a departure from God, inasmuch as it takes away the honor
due to God alone, and transfers it to the creature; still, under another
aspect, we can not fail to recognize in it the effort of the human mind
to fill up the chasm that seemed, to the undisciplined mind, to separate
God and man--and to bridge the gulf between the visible and the
invisible, the finite and the infinite. It was unquestionably an attempt
to bring God nearer to the sense and comprehension of man. It had its
origin in that instinctive yearning after the supernatural, the Divine,
which dwells in all human hearts, and which has revealed itself in all
philosophies, mysticisms, and religions.[150] This longing was
stimulated by the contemplation of the living beauty and grandeur of the
visible universe, which, to the lively fancy and deep feeling of the
Greeks, seemed as the living vesture of the Infinite Mind,--the temple
of the eternal Deity. In this visible universe the Divinity was partly
revealed, and partly concealed. The unity of the all-pervading
Intelligence was veiled beneath an apparent diversity of power, and a
manifoldness of operations. They caught some glimpses of this universal
presence in nature, but were more immediately and vividly impressed by
the several manifestations of the divine perfections and divine
operations, as so many separate rays of the Divinity, or so many
subordinate agents and functionaries employed to execute the will and
carry out the purposes of the Supreme Mind.[151] That unseen,
incomprehensible Power and Presence was perceived in the sublimity of
the deep blue sky, the energy of the vitalizing sun, the surging of the
sea, the rushing wind, the roaring thunder, the ripening corn, and the
clustering vine. To these separate manifestations of the Deity they gave
_personal names_, as Jupiter to the heavens, Juno to the air, Neptune to
the sea, Ceres to the corn, and Bacchus to the vine. These personals
denoted, not the things themselves, but the invisible, divine powers
supposed to preside over those several departments of nature. By a kind
of prosopopœia "they spake of the things in nature, and parts of the
world, as persons--and consequently as so many gods and goddesses--yet
so as the intelligent might easily understand their meaning, _that these
were in reality nothing else but so many names and notions of that one
Numen,--divine force and power which runs through all the world,
multiformly displaying itself._"[152] "Their various deities were but
different names, different conceptions, of that Incomprehensible Being
which no _thought_ can reach, and no _language_ express."[153] Having
given to these several manifestations of the Divinity personal names,
they now sought to represent them to the eye of sense by _visible
forms_, as the symbols or images of the perfections of the unseen, the
incomprehensible, the unknown God. And as the Greeks regarded man as the
first and noblest among the phenomena of nature, they selected the human
form as the highest sensible manifestation of God, the purest symbol of
the Divinity. Grecian polytheism was thus a species of _mythical

[Footnote 150: The original constitution of man is such that he "seeks
after" God Acts xvii. 27. "All men yearn after the gods" (Homer,
"Odyss." iii. 48).]

[Footnote 151: "Heathenism springs directly from this, that the mind
lays undue stress upon the bare letter in the book of creation; that it
separates and individualizes its objects as far as possible; that it
places the sense of the individual part, in opposition to the sense of
the whole,--to the _analogia fidei_ or _spiritus_ which alone gives
unity to the book of nature, while it dilutes and renders as transitory
as possible the sense of the universal in the whole.... And as it laid
great stress upon the letter in the book of nature, it fell into
polytheism. The particular symbol of the divine, or of the Godhead,
became a myth of some special deity."--Lange's "Bible-work," Genesis, p.

[Footnote 152: Cudworth, "Intellect. System," vol. i. p. 308.]

[Footnote 153: Max Müller, "Science of Language," p. 431.]

A philosophy of Grecian mythology, such as we have outlined in the
preceding paragraphs, is, in our judgment, perfectly consistent with the
views announced by Paul in his address to the Athenians. He intimates
that the Athenians "thought that the Godhead was _like unto_ (ἐ ναι
ὄμοιον)--to be imaged or represented by human art--by gold, and silver,
and precious stone graven by art, and device of man;" that is, they
thought the perfections of God could be represented to the eye by an
image, or symbol. The views of Paul are still more articulately
expressed in Romans, i. 23, 25: "They changed the glory of the
incorruptible God into the _similitude of an image_ of corruptible
man,.... and they worshipped and served the thing made, παρά--_rather_
than, or _more_ than the Creator." Here, then, the apostle intimates,
first, that the heathen _knew_ God,[154] and that they worshipped God.
They worshipped the creature besides or even more than God, but still
they also worshipped God. And, secondly, they represented the
perfections of God by an image, and under this, as a "_likeness_" or
symbol, they indirectly worshipped God. Their religious system was,
then, even to the eye of Paul, a _symbolic_ worship--that is, the
objects of their devotion were the _ὁμοιώματα_--the similitudes, the
likenesses, the images of the perfections of the invisible God.

[Footnote 154: Verse 21.]

It is at once conceded by us, that the "sensus numinis," the natural
intuition of a Supreme Mind, whose power and presence are revealed in
nature, can not maintain itself, as an influential, and vivifying, and
regulative belief amongst men, without the continual supernatural
interposition of God; that is, without a succession of Divine
revelations. And further, we grant that, instead of this symbolic mode
of worship deepening and vitalizing the sense of God as a living power
and presence, there is great danger that the symbol shall at length
unconsciously take the place of God, and be worshipped instead of Him.
From the purest form of symbolism which prevailed in the earliest ages,
there may be an inevitable descent to the rudest form of false worship,
with its accompanying darkness, and abominations, and crimes; but, at
the same time, let us do justice to the religions of the ancient
world--the childhood stammerings of religious life--which were something
more than the inventions of designing men, or the mere creations of
human fancy; they were, in the words of Paul, "a _seeking after God_, if
haply they might feel after him, and find him, who is not far from any
one of us." It can not be denied that the more thoughtful and
intelligent Greeks regarded the visible objects of their devotion as
mere symbols of the perfections and operations of the unseen God, and of
the invisible powers and subordinate agencies which are employed by him
in his providential and moral government of the world. And whatever
there was of misapprehension and of "ignorance" in the popular mind, we
have the assurance of Paul that it was "_overlooked_" by God.

The views here presented will, we venture to believe, be found most in
harmony with a true philosophy of the human mind; with the religious
phenomena of the world; and, as we shall subsequently see, with the
writings of those poets and philosophers who may be fairly regarded as
representing the sentiments and opinions of the ancient world. At the
same time, we have no desire to conceal the fact that this whole
question as to the origin, and character, and philosophy of the
mythology and symbolism of the religions of the ancient world has been a
subject of earnest controversy from Patristic times down to the present
hour, and that even to-day there exists a wide diversity of opinion
among philosophers, as well as theologians.

The principal theories offered may be classed as the _ethical_, the
_physical_, and the _historical_, according to the different objects the
framers of the myths are supposed to have had in view. Some have
regarded the myths as invented by the priests and wise men of old for
the improvement and government of society, as designed to give authority
to laws, and maintain social order.[155] Others have regarded them as
intended to be allegorical interpretations of physical phenomena--the
poetic embodiment of the natural philosophy of the primitive races of
men;[156] whilst others have looked upon them as historical legends,
having a substratum of fact, and, when stripped of the supernatural and
miraculous drapery which accompanies fable, as containing the history of
primitive times.[157] Some of the latter class have imagined they could
recognize in Grecian mythology traces of sacred personages, as well as
profane; in fact, a dimmed image of the patriarchal traditions which are
preserved in the Old Testament scriptures.[158]

It is beyond our design to discuss all the various theories presented,
or even to give a history of opinions entertained.[159] We are fully
convinced that the hypothesis we have presented in the preceding pages,
viz., _that Grecian mythology was a grand symbolic representation of the
Divine as manifested in nature and providence_, is the only hypothesis
which meets and harmonizes all the facts of the case. This is the theory
of Plato, of Cudworth, Baumgarten, Max Müller, and many other
distinguished scholars.

[Footnote 155: Empedocles, Metrodorus.]

[Footnote 156: Aristotle.]

[Footnote 157: Hecatæus, Herodotus, some of the early Fathers, Niebuhr,
J.H. Voss, Arnold.]

[Footnote 158: Bochart, G.J. Vossius, Faber, Gladstone.]

[Footnote 159: To the English reader who desires an extended and
accurate acquaintance with the classic and patristic literature of this
deeply interesting subject, we commend the careful study of Cudworth's
"Intellectual System of the Universe," especially ch. iv. The style of
Cudworth is perplexingly involved, and his great work is unmethodical in
its arrangement and discussion. Nevertheless, the patient and
persevering student will be amply rewarded for his pains. A work of more
profound research into the doctrine of antiquity concerning God, and
into the real import of the religious systems of the ancient world, is,
probably, not extant in any language.]

There are two fundamental propositions laid down by Cudworth which
constitute the basis of this hypothesis.

1. _No well-authenticated instance can be furnished from among the Greek
Polytheists of one who taught the existence of a multiplicity of
independenty uncreated, self-existent deities; they almost universally_
_believed in the existence of_ ONE SUPREME, UNCREATED, ETERNAL GOD,
"_The Maker of all things_"--"_the Father of gods and men_,"--"_the sole
Monarch and Ruler of the world_."

2. _The Greek Polytheists taught a plurality of_"GENERATED DEITIES,"
_who owe their existence to the power and will of the Supreme God, who
are by Him invested with delegated powers, and who, as the agents of his
universal providence, preside over different departments of the created

The evidence presented by Cudworth in support of his theses is so varied
and so voluminous, that it defies all attempts at condensation. His
volumes exhibit an extent of reading, of patient research, and of varied
learning, which is truly amazing. The discussion of these propositions
involves, in fact, nothing less than a complete and exhaustive survey of
the entire field of ancient literature, a careful study of the Greek and
Latin poets, of the Oriental, Greek, and Alexandrian philosophers, and a
review of the statements and criticisms of Rabbinical and Patristic
writers in regard to the religions of the pagan world. An adequate
conception of the varied and weighty evidence which is collected by our
author from these fields, in support of his views, could only be
conveyed by transcribing to our pages the larger portion of his
memorable _fourth_ chapter. But inasmuch as Grecian polytheism is, in
fact, the culmination of all the mythological systems of the ancient
world, the fully-developed flower and ripened fruit of the cosmical and
theological conceptions of the childhood-condition of humanity, we
propose to epitomize the results of his inquiry as to the _theological_,
opinions of the Greeks, supplying additional confirmation of his views
from other sources.

And first, he proves most conclusively that Orpheus, Homer, and
Hesiod,[160] who are usually designated "the theologians" of Greece, but
who were in fact the depravers and corrupters of pagan theology, do not
teach the existence of a multitude of _unmade, self-existent, and
independent deities_. Even they believed in the existence of _one_
uncreated and eternal mind, _one Supreme God_, anterior and superior to
all the gods of their mythology. They had some intuition, some
apperception of the _Divine_, even before they had attached to it a
sacred name. The gods of their mythology had all, save one, a temporal
origin; they were generated of Chaos and Night, by an active principle
called _Love_. "One might suspect," says Aristotle, that Hesiod, and if
there be any other who made _love_ or _desire_ a principle of things,
aimed at these very things (viz., the designation of the efficient cause
of the world); for Parmenides, describing the generation of the
universe, says:

     'First of all the gods planned he _love_;'

and further, Hesiod:

     'First of all was Chaos, afterwards Earth,
     With her spacious bosom,
     And _Love_, who is pre-eminent among all the immortals;'

as intimating here that in entities there should exist some _cause_ that
will impart motion, and hold bodies in union together. But how, in
regard to these, one ought to distribute them, as to the order of
priority, can be decided afterwards.[161]

[Footnote 160: We do not concern ourselves with the chronological
antecedence of these ancient Greek poets. It is of little consequence to
us whether Homer preceded Orpheus, or Orpheus Homer. They were not the
real creators of the mythology of ancient Greece. The myths were a
spontaneous growth of the earliest human thought even before the
separation of the Aryan family into its varied branches.

The study of Comparative Mythology, as well as of Comparative Language,
assures us that the myths had an origin much earlier than the times of
Homer and Orpheus. They floated down from ages on the tide of oral
tradition before they were systematized, embellished, and committed to
writing by Homer, and Orpheus, and Hesiod. And between the systems of
these three poets a perceptible difference is recognizable, which
reflects the changes that verbal recitations necessarily and
imperceptibly undergo.]

[Footnote 161: "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iv.]

Now whether this "first principle," called "_Love_," "the cause of
motion and of union" in the universe, was regarded as a personal Being,
and whether, as the ancient scholiast taught, Hesiod's love was "the
heavenly Love, which is also God, that other love that was born of Venus
being junior," is just now of no moment to the argument. The more
important inference is, that amongst the gods of Pagan theology but
_one_ is self-existent, or else none are. Because the Hesiodian gods,
which are, in fact, all the gods of the Greek mythology, "were either
all of them derived from chaos, love itself likewise being generated out
of it; or else love was supposed to be distinct from chaos, and the
active principle of the universe, from whence, together with chaos, all
the theogony and cosmogony was derived."[162] Hence it is evident the
poets did not teach the existence of a multiplicity of unmade,
self-existent, independent deities.

[Footnote 162: "Cudworth," vol. i. p. 287.]

The careful reader of Cudworth will also learn another truth of the
utmost importance in this connection, viz., _that the theogony of the
Greek poets was, in fact, a cosmogony_, the generation of the gods
being, in reality, the generation of the heavens, the sun, the moon, the
stars, and all the various powers and phenomena of nature. This is dimly
shadowed forth in the very names which are given to some of these
divinities. Thus Helios is the sun, Selena is the moon, Zeus the
sky--the deep blue heaven, Eos the dawn, and Ersē the dew. It is
rendered still more evident by the opening lines of Hesiod's
"Theogonia," in which he invokes the muses:

     "Hail ye daughters of Jupiter! Grant a delightsome song.
     Tell of the race of immortal gods, always existing,
     Who are the offspring of the earth, of the starry sky,
     And of the gloomy night, whom also the ocean nourisheth.
     Tell how the gods and the earth at first were made,
     And the rivers, and the mighty deep, boiling with waves,
     And the glowing stars, and the broad heavens above,
     And the gods, givers of good, born of these."

Where we see plainly that the generation of the gods is the generation
of the earth, the heaven, the stars, the seas, the rivers, and other
things produced by them. "But immediately after invocation of the Muses
the poet begins with Chaos, and Tartara, and Love, as the first
principles, and then proceeds to the production of the earth and of
night out of chaos; of the ether and of day, from night; of the starry
heavens, mountains, and seas. All which generation of gods is really
nothing but a poetic description of the cosmogonia; as through the
sequel of the poem all seems to be physiology veiled under fiction and
allegory.... Hesiod's gods are thus not only the animated parts of the
world, but also the other things of nature personified and deified, or
abusively called gods and goddesses."[163] The same is true both of the
Orphic and Homeric gods. "Their generation of the gods is the same with
the generation or creation of the world, both of them having, in all
probability, derived it from the Mosaic cabala, or tradition."[164]

But in spite of all this mythological obscuration, the belief in one
Supreme God is here and there most clearly recognizable. "That Zeus was
originally to the Greeks the Supreme God, the true God--nay, at some
time their only God--can be perceived in spite of the haze which
mythology has raised around his name."[165] True, they sometimes used
the word "Zeus" in a physical sense to denote the deep expanse of
heaven, and sometimes in a historic sense, to designate a hero or
deified man said to have been born in Crete. It is also true that the
Homeric Zeus is full of contradictions. He is "all-seeing," yet he is
cheated; he is "omnipotent," yet he is defied; he is "eternal," yet he
has a father; he is "just," yet he is guilty of crime. Now, as Müller
very justly remarks, these contradictions may teach us a lesson. If all
the conceptions of Zeus had sprung from one origin, these contradictions
could not have existed. If Zeus had simply and only meant the Supreme
God, he could not have been the son of Kronos (Time). If, on the other
hand, Zeus had been a mere mythological personage, as Eos, the dawn, and
Helios, the sun, he could never have been addressed as he is addressed
in the famous prayer of Achilles (Iliad, bk. xxi.).[166]

[Footnote 163: Cudworth, vol. i. pp. 321, 332.]

[Footnote 164: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 478.]

[Footnote 165: Max Müller, "Science of Language," p. 457.]

[Footnote 166: Id., ib., p. 458.]

In Homer there is a perpetual blending of the natural and the
supernatural, the human and divine. The _Iliad_ is an incongruous medley
of theology, physics, and history. In its gorgeous scenic
representations, nature, humanity, and deity are mingled in inextricable
confusion. The gods are sometimes supernatural and superhuman
personages; sometimes the things and powers of nature personified; and
sometimes they are deified men. And yet there are passages, even in
Homer, which clearly distinguish Zeus from all the other divinities, and
mark him out as the Supreme. He is "the highest, first of Gods" (bk.
xix. 284); "most great, most glorious Jove" (bk. ii. 474). He is "the
universal Lord" (bk. xi. 229); "of mortals and immortals king supreme,"
(bk. xii. 263); "over all the immortal gods he reigns in unapproached
pre-eminence of power" (bk. xv. 125). He is "the King of kings" (bk.
viii. 35), whose "will is sovereign" (bk. iv. 65), and his "power
invincible" (bk. viii. 35). He is the "eternal Father" (bk. viii. 77).
He "excels in wisdom gods and men; all human things from him proceed"
(bk. xiii. 708-10); "the Lord of counsel" (bk. i. 208), "the all-seeing
Jove" (bk. xiii. 824). Indeed the mere expression "Father of gods and
men" (bk. i. 639), so often applied to Zeus, and him _alone_, is proof
sufficient that, in spite of all the legendary stories of gods and
heroes, the idea of Zeus as the Supreme God, the maker of the world, the
Father of gods and men, the monarch and ruler of the world, was not
obliterated from the Greek mind.[167]

[Footnote 167: "In the order of legendary chronology Zeus comes after
Kronos and Uranos, but in the order of Grecian conception Zeus is the
prominent person, and Kronos and Uranos are inferior and introductory
precursors, set up in order to be overthrown, and to serve as mementos
of the powers of their conqueror. To Homer and Hesiod, as well as to the
Greeks universally, Zeus is the great, the predominant God, 'the Father
of gods and men,' whose power none of the gods can hope to resist, or
even deliberately think of questioning. All the other gods have their
specific potency, and peculiar sphere of action and duty, with which
Zeus does not usually interfere; but it is he who maintains the
lineaments of a providential government, as well over the phenomena of
Olympus as over the earth."--Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. i. p. 3.

Zeus is not only lord of heaven but likewise the ruler of the lower
world, and the master of the sea.--Welcher, "Griechische Götterlehre,"
vol. i. p. 164. The Zeus of the Greek poets is unquestionably the god of
whom Paul declared: In him we live and move, and have our being, as
certain of your own poets have also said--

     "'For we are his offspring.'"

Now whether this be a quotation from Aratus or Cleanthes, the language
of the poets is, "We are the offspring of Zeus;" consequently the Zeus
of the poets and the God of Christianity are the same God.

"The father of gods and men in Homer is, of course, the Universal Father
of the Scriptures."--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 171.]

"When Homer introduces Eumaios, the swineherd, speaking of this life and
the higher powers that rule it, he knows only of just gods 'who hate
cruel deeds, but honor justice and the righteous works of men' (Od. xiv.
83). His whole life is built up on a complete trust in the divine
government of the world without any artificial helps, as the Erinys, the
Nemesis, or Moira. 'Eat,' says the swineherd, 'and enjoy what is here,
for _God_[168] will grant one thing, but another he will refuse,
whatever he will in his mind, for he can do all things' (Od. xiv. 444;
x. 306). This surely is religion, and it is religion untainted by
mythology. Again, the prayer of the female slave, grinding corn in the
house of Ulysses is religious in the truest sense--'Father Zeus, thou
who rulest over gods and men, surely thou hast just thundered in the
starry sky, and there is no cloud anywhere. Thou showest this as a sign
to some one. Fulfill now, even to me, miserable wretch, the prayer which
I now offer'" (Od. xx. 141-150).[169]

[Footnote 168: No sound reason can be assigned for translating _θεός_ by
"_a_ god" as some have proposed, rather than "_God_." But even if it
were translated "a god," this god must certainly be understood as Zeus.
Plato tells us that Zeus is the most appropriate name for God. "For in
reality the name Zeus is, as it were, a sentence; and persons dividing
it in two parts, some of us make use of one part, and some of another;
for some call him Ζήν, and some Δίς. But these parts, collected together
into one, exhibit the nature of the God;... for there is no one who is
more the cause of living, both to us and everything else, than he who is
the ruler and king of all. It follows, therefore, that this god is
rightly named, through whom _life_ is present in all living
beings."--Cratylus, § 28.

Θεός was usually employed, says Cudworth, to designate _God_ by way of
pre-eminence, θεοί to designate inferior divinities.]

[Footnote 169: Müller, "Science of Language," p. 434.]

The Greek tragedians were the great religious instructors of the
Athenian people. "Greek tragedy grew up in connection with religious
worship, and constituted not only a popular but a sacred element in the
festivals of the gods.... In short, strange as it may sound to modern
ears, the Greek stage was, more nearly than any thing else, the Greek
pulpit.[170] With a priesthood that offered sacrifice, but did not
preach, with few books of any kind, the people were, in a great measure,
dependent on oral instruction for knowledge; and as they learned their
rights and duties as citizens from their orators, so they hung on the
lips of the 'lofty, grave tragedians' for instruction touching their
origin, duty, and destiny as mortal and immortal beings.... Greek
tragedy is essentially didactic, ethical, mythological, and

[Footnote 170: Pulpitum, a stage.]

[Footnote 171: Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 205, 206.]

Now it is unquestionable that, with the tragedians, Zeus is the Supreme
God. Æschylus is pre-eminently the theological poet of Greece. The great
problems which lie at the foundation of religious faith and practice are
the main staple of nearly all his tragedies. Homer, Hesiod, the sacred
poets, had looked at these questions in their purely poetic aspects. The
subsequent philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, developed them more fully
by their didactic method. Æschylus stands on the dividing-line between
them, no less poetic than the former, scarcely less philosophical than
the latter, but more intensely practical, personal, and _theological_
than either. The character of the Supreme Divinity, as represented in
his tragedies, approaches more nearly to the Christian idea of God. He
is the Universal Father--Father of gods and men; the Universal Cause
(παναίτιος, Agamem. 1485); the All-seer and All-doer (παντόπτης,
πανεργέτης, ibid, and Sup. 139); the All-wise and All-controlling
(παγκρατής, Sup. 813); the Just and the Executor of justice (δικηφόρος,
Agamem. 525); true and incapable of falsehood (Prom. 1031);

     ψευδηγορεῖν γὰρ οὐκ ἐπίσταταί στόμα
     τὸ δίον, ἀλλὰ πᾶν ἔπος τελεῖ,--

holy (ἁγνός, Sup. 650); merciful (πρευμένης, ibid. 139); the God
especially of the suppliant and the stranger (Supplices, passim); the
most high and perfect One (τέλειον ὕψιστον, Eumen. 28); King of kings,
of the happy, most happy, of the perfect, most perfect power, blessed
Zeus (Sup. 522).[172] Such are some of the titles by which Zeus is most
frequently addressed; such the attributes commonly ascribed to him in

Sophocles was the great master who carried Greek tragedy to its highest
perfection. Only seven out of more than a hundred of his tragedies have
come down to us. There are passages cited by Justin Martyr, Clemens
Alexandrinus, and others which are not found in those tragedies now
extant. The most famous and extensively quoted passage is given by

     Εἶς ταῖς ἀληθείαισιν, εἰς ἐστίν θεὸς,
     Ὂς οὐρανόν τ᾽ έτευξε καὶ γαῖαν μακρὰν,
     Πόντου τε χαροπὸν οἶδμα, κἀνέμων βίαν, κ. τ. λ.[174]

This "one only God" is Zeus, who is the God of justice, and reigns

     "Still in yon starry heaven supreme,
     Jove, all-beholding, all-directing, dwells--
     To him commit thy vengeance."--"Electra," p. 174 sqq.

This description of the unsleeping, undecaying power and dominion of
Zeus is worthy of some Hebrew prophet--

     "Spurning the power of age, enthroned in might,
     Thou dwell'st mid heaven's broad light;
     This was in ages past thy firm decree,
     Is now, and shall forever be:
     That none of mortal race on earth shall know
     A life of joy serene, a course unmarked by woe."

     "Antigone," pp. 606-614.[175]

[Footnote 172: Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 213, 214.]

[Footnote 173: "Intellectual Syst.," vol. i. p. 483.]

[Footnote 174: "There is, in truth, one only God, who made heaven and
earth, the sea, air, and winds," etc.]

[Footnote 175: "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 322.]

Whether we regard the poets as the principal theological teachers of the
ancient Greeks, or as the compilers, systematizers, and artistic
embellishers of the theological traditions and myths which were afloat
in the primitive Hellenic families, we can not resist the conclusion
that, for the masses of the people Zeus was the Supreme God, "the God of
gods" as Plato calls him. Whilst all other deities in Greece are more or
less local and tribal gods, Zeus was known in every village and to every
clan. "He is at home on Ida,[176] on Olympus, at Dodona.[177] While
Poseidon drew to himself the Æolian family, Apollo the Dorian, Athene
the Ionian, there was one powerful God for all the sons of
Hellen--Dorians, Æolians, Ionians, Achæans, viz., the Panhellenic
Zeus."[178] Zeus was the name invoked in their solemn nuncupations of

     "O Zeus, father, O Zeus, king."

In moments of deepest sorrow, of immediate urgency and need, of greatest
stress and danger, they had recourse to Zeus.

     "Courage, courage, my child!
     There is still in heaven the great Zeus;
     He watches over all things, and he rules.
     Commit thy exceeding bitter griefs to him,
     And be not angry against thine enemies,
     Nor forget them."[179]

[Footnote 176: "Iliad," bk. iii. 324.]

[Footnote 177: Bk. xvi. 268.]

[Footnote 178: Müller, p. 452.]

[Footnote 179: Sophocles, "Electra," v. 188.]

He was supplicated, as the God who reigns on high, in the prayer of the

     "Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on the land of the Athenians and on their

It has been urged that, as Zeus means the sky, therefore he is no more
than the deep concave of heaven personified and deified, and that
consequently Zeus is not the true, the only God. This argument is only
equalled in feebleness by that of the materialist, who argues that
"spiritus" means simply breath, therefore the breath is the soul. Even
if the Greeks remembered that, originally, Zeus meant the sky, that
would have no more perplexed their minds than the remembrance that
"thymos"--mind--meant originally blast. "The fathers of Greek theology
gave to that Supreme Intelligence, which they instinctively recognized
as above and ruling over the universe, the name of Zeus; but in doing
so, they knew well that by Zeus they meant more than the sky. The
unfathomable depth, the everlasting calm of the ethereal sky was to
their minds an image of that Infinite Presence which overshadows all,
and looks down on all. As the question perpetually recurred to their
minds, 'Where is he who abideth forever?' they lifted up their eyes, and
saw, as they thought, beyond sun, and moon, and stars, and all which
changes, and will change, the clear blue sky, the boundless firmament of
heaven. That never changed, that was always the same. The clouds and
storms rolled far below it, and all the bustle of this noisy world; but
there the sky was still, as bright and calm as ever. The Almighty Father
must be there, unchangeable in the unchangeable heaven; bright, and
pure, and boundless like the heavens, and like the heavens, too, afar
off."[180] So they named him after the sky, _Zeus_, the God who lives in
the clear heaven--the heavenly Father.

[Footnote 180: Kingsley, "Good News from God," p. 237, Am. ed.]

The high and brilliant sky has, in many languages and many religions,
been regarded as the dwelling-place of God. Indeed, to all of us in
Christian times "God is above;" he is "the God of heaven;" "his throne
is in the heavens;" "he reigns on high." Now, without doing any violence
to thought, the name of the abode might be transferred to him who dwells
in heaven. So that in our own language "heaven" may still be used as a
synonym for "God." The prodigal son is still represented as saying, I
have sinned against "_heaven_." And a Christian poet has taught us to

     "High _heaven_, that heard my solemn vow,
     That vow renewed shall daily hear," etc.

Whenever, therefore, we find the name of heaven thus used to designate
also the Deity, we must bear in mind that those by whom it was
originally employed were simply transferring that name from an object
visible to the eye of sense to another object perceived by the eye of
reason. They who at first called God "_Heaven_" had some conception
within them they wished to name--the growing image of a God, and they
fixed upon the vastest, grandest, purest object in nature, the deep blue
concave of heaven, overshadowing all, and embracing all, as the symbol
of the Deity. Those who at a later period called heaven "_God_" had
forgotten that they were predicating of heaven something more which was
vastly higher than the heaven.[181]

[Footnote 181: See "Science of Language," p. 457.]

Notwithstanding, then, that the instinctive, native faith of humanity in
the existence of one supreme God was overlaid and almost buried beneath
the rank and luxuriant vegetation of Grecian mythology, we can still
catch glimpses here and there of the solid trunk of native faith, around
which this parasitic growth of fancy is entwined. Above all the
phantasmata of gods and goddesses who descended to the plains of Troy,
and mingled in the din and strife of battle, we can recognize an
overshadowing, all-embracing Power and Providence that dwells on high,
which never descends into the battle-field, and is never seen by mortal
eyes--_the Universal King and Father,--the "God of gods_."

Besides the direct evidence, which is furnished by the poets and
mythologists, of the presence of this universal faith in "_the heavenly
Father_," there is also a large amount of collateral testimony that this
idea of one Supreme God was generally entertained by the Greek pagans,
whether learned or unlearned.[182] Dio Chrysostomus says that "all the
poets call the first and greatest God the Father, universally, of all
rational kind, as also the King thereof. Agreeably with which doctrine
of the poets do mankind erect altars to Jupiter-King (Διὸς βασιλέως) and
hesitate not to call him Father in their devotions" (Orat. xxxvi.). And
Maximus Tyrius declares that both the learned and the unlearned
throughout the pagan world universally agree in this; that there is one
Supreme God, the Father of gods and men. "If," says he, "there were a
meeting called of all the several trades and professions,... and all
were required to declare their sense concerning God, do you think that
the painter would say one thing, the sculptor another, the poet another,
and the philosopher another? No; nor the Scythian neither, nor the
Greek, nor the hyperborean. In regard to other things, we find men
speaking discordantly one to another, all men, as it were, differing
from all men... Nevertheless, on this subject, you may find universally
throughout the world one agreeing law and opinion; _that there is one
God, the King and Father of all, and many gods, the sons of God,
co-reigners together with God_"(Diss. i. p. 450).

[Footnote 182: Cudworth, vol. i. pp. 593, 594.]

From the poets we now pass to the philosophers. The former we have
regarded as reflecting the traditional beliefs of the unreasoning
multitude. The philosophers unquestionably represent the reflective
spirit, the speculative thought, of the educated classes of Greek
society. Turning to the writings of the philosophers, we may therefore
reasonably expect that, instead of the dim, undefined, and nebulous form
in which the religious sentiment revealed itself amongst the
unreflecting portions of the Greek populations, we shall find their
theological ideas distinctly and articulately expressed, and that we
shall consequently be able to determine their religious opinions with
considerable accuracy.

Now that Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras, Empedocles,
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all believers in the existence of
one supreme, uncreated, eternal God, has been, we think, clearly shown
by Cudworth.[183]

[Footnote 183: Vol. i. pp. 491-554.]

In subsequent chapters on "_the Philosophers of Athens_," we shall enter
more fully into the discussion of this question. Meantime we assume
that, with few exceptions, the Greek philosophers were "genuine

The point, however, with which we are now concerned is, _that whilst
they believed in one supreme, uncreated, eternal God, they at the same
time recognized the existence of a plurality of generated deities who
owe their existence to the power and will of the Supreme God, and who,
as the agents and ministers of His universal providence, preside over
different departments of the created universe_. They are at once
Monotheists and Polytheists--believers in "one God" and "many gods."
This is a peculiarity, an anomaly which challenges our attention, and
demands an explanation, if we would vindicate for these philosophers a
rational Theism.

Now that there can be but one infinite and absolutely perfect Being--one
supreme, uncreated, eternal God--is self-evident; therefore a
multiplicity of such gods is a contradiction and an impossibility. The
early philosophers knew this as well as the modern. The Deity, in order
to be Deity, must be one and not many: must be perfect or nothing. If,
therefore, we would do justice to these old Greeks, we must inquire what
explanations they have offered in regard to "the many gods" of which
they speak. We must ascertain whether they regarded these "gods" as
created or uncreated beings, dependent or independent, temporal or
eternal We must inquire in what sense the term "god" is applied to these
lesser divinities,--whether it is not applied in an accommodated and
therefore allowable sense, as in the sacred Scriptures it is applied to
kings and magistrates, and those who are appointed by God as the
teachers and rulers of men. "_They are called gods_ to whom the word of
God came."[184] And if it shall be found that all the gods of which they
speak, save _one_, are "generated deities"--dependent beings--creatures
and subjects of the one eternal King and Father, and that the name of
"god" is applied to them in an accommodated sense, then we have
vindicated for the old Greek philosophers a consistent and rational
Theism. In what relation, then, do the philosophers place "_the gods_"
to the one Supreme Being?

_Thales_, one of the most ancient of the Greek philosophers, taught the
existence of a plurality of gods, as is evident from that saying of his,
preserved by Diogenes Laertius, "The world has life, and is full of
gods."[185] At the same time he asserts his belief in one supreme,
uncreated Deity; "God is the oldest of all things, because he is unmade,
or ungenerated."[186] All the other gods must therefore have been
"generated deities," since there is but one unmade God, one only that
had "no beginning."[187]

[Footnote 184: See John x. 35.]

[Footnote 185: "Lives," bk. i.; see also Aristotle's "De Anima," bk. i.
ch. viii. πάντα θιῶν πληρη.]

[Footnote 186: "Lives," bk. i.]

[Footnote 187: "Lives," bk. i.]

_Xenophanes_ was also an assertor of many gods, and one God; but his one
God is unquestionably supreme. "There is one God, the greatest amongst
gods and men;" or, "God is one, the greatest amongst gods and men."[188]

_Empedocles_ also believed in one Supreme God, who "is wholly and
perfectly mind, ineffable, holy, with rapid and swift-glancing thought
pervading the whole world," and from whom all things else are
derived,--"all things that are upon the earth, and in the air and water,
may be truly called the works of God, who ruleth over the world, out of
whom, according to Empedocles, proceed all things, plants, men, beasts,
and _gods_."[189] The minor deities are therefore _made_ by God. It will
not be denied that _Socrates_ was a devout and earnest Theist. He taught
that "there is a Being whose eye pierces throughout all nature, and
whose ear is open to every sound; extending through all time, extended
to all places; and whose bounty and care can know no other bounds than
those fixed by his own creation."[190] And yet he also recognized the
existence of a plurality of gods, and in his last moments expressed his
belief that "it is lawful and right to pray to the gods that his
departure hence may be happy."[191] We see, however, in his words
addressed to Euthydemus, a marked distinction between these subordinate
deities and "Him who raised this whole universe, and still upholds the
mighty frame, who perfected every part of it in beauty and in goodness,
suffering none of these parts to decay through age, but renewing them
daily with unfading vigor;... even he, _the Supreme God_, still holds
himself invisible, and it is only in his works that we are capable of
admiring him."[192]

[Footnote 188: Clem. Alex., "Stromat." bk. v.]

[Footnote 189: Aristotle, "De Mundo," ch. vi.]

[Footnote 190: Xenophon's "Memorabilia," i. 4.]

[Footnote 191: "Phædo," § 152.]

[Footnote 192: "Memorabilia," iv. 3.]

It were needless to attempt the proof that _Plato_ believed in one
Supreme God, and _only_ one. This one Being is, with him, "the first
God;" "the greatest of the gods;" "the God over all;" "the sole
Principle of the universe." He is "the Immutable;" "the All-perfect;"
"the eternal Being." He is "the Architect of the world; "the Maker of
the universe; the Father of gods and men; the sovereign Mind which
orders all things, and passes through all things; the sole Monarch and
Ruler of the world.[193]

And yet remarkable as these expressions are, sounding, as they do, so
like the language of inspiration,[194] there can be no doubt that Plato
was also a sincere believer in a plurality of gods, of which, indeed,
any one may assure himself by reading the _tenth_ book of "the Laws."

[Footnote 193: See chap. xi.]

[Footnote 194: Some writers have supposed that Plato must have had
access through some medium to "the Oracles of God." See Butler, vol. ii.
p. 41.]

And, now that we have in Plato the culmination of Grecian speculative
thought, we may learn from him the mature and final judgment of the
ancients in regard to the gods of pagan mythology. We open the _Timæus_,
and here we find his views most definitely expressed. After giving an
account of the "generation" of the sun, and moon, and planets, which are
by him designated as "visible gods," he then proceeds "to speak
concerning the other divinities:" "We must on this subject assent to
those who in former times have spoken thereon; who were, as they said,
the offspring of the gods, and who doubtless were well acquainted with
their own ancestors..... Let then the genealogy of the gods be, and be
acknowledged to be, that which they deliver. Of Earth and Heaven the
children were Oceanus and Tethys; and of these the children were
Phorcys, and Kronos, and Rhea, and all that followed these; and from
these were born Zeus and Hera, and those who are regarded as brothers
and sisters of these, and others their offspring.

"When, then, _all the gods were brought into existence_, both those
which move around in manifest courses [the stars and planets], and those
which appear when it pleases them [the mythological deities], the
Creator of the Universe thus addressed them: 'Gods, and sons of gods, of
whom I am the father and the author, produced by me, ye are
indestructible because I will.... Now inasmuch as you have been
_generated_, you are hence _not_ immortal, nor wholly indissoluble; yet
you shall never be dissolved nor become subject to the fatality of
death, because _so I have willed_.... Learn, therefore, my commands.
Three races of mortals yet remain to be created. Unless these be
created, the universe will be imperfect, for it will not contain within
it every kind of animal.... In order that these mortal creatures may be,
and that this world may be really a cosmos, do you apply yourselves to
the creation of animals, imitating the exercises of my power in
_creating_ you.'"[195]

[Footnote 195: "Timæus," ch. xv.]

Here, then, we see that Plato carefully distinguishes between the sole
Eternal Author of the universe, on one hand, and the "souls," vital and
intelligent, which he attaches to the heavenly orbs, and diffuses
through all nature, on the other. These subordinate powers or agents are
all created, "_generated_ deities," who owe their continued existence to
the _will_ of God; and though intrusted with a sort of deputed creation,
and a subsequent direction and government of created things, they are
still only the _servants_ and the _deputies_ of the Supreme Creator, and
Director, and Ruler of all things. These subordinate agents and
ministers employed in the creation and providential government of the
world appear, in the estimation of Plato, to have been needed--

1. _To satisfy the demands of the popular faith_, which presented its
facts to be explained no less than those of external nature. Plato had
evidently a great veneration for antiquity, a peculiar regard for
"tradition venerable through ancient report," and "doctrines hoary with
years."[196] He aspired after supernatural light and guidance; he longed
for some intercourse with, some communication from, the Deity. And
whilst he found many things in the ancient legends which revolted his
moral sense, and which his reason rejected, yet the sentiment and the
lesson which pervades the whole of Grecian mythology, viz., that the
gods are in ceaseless intercourse with the human race, and if men will
do right the gods will protect and help them, was one which commended
itself to his heart.

[Footnote 196: Ibid., ch. v.]

2. These intermediate agents seem to have been demanded to _satisfy the
disposition and tendency which has revealed itself in all systems, of
interposing some scale of ascent between the material creation and the
infinite Creator_.

The mechanical theory of the universe has interposed its long series of
secondary causes--the qualities, properties, laws, forces of nature; the
vital theory which attaches a separate "soul" to the various parts of
nature as the cause and intelligent director of its movements. Of these
"souls" or gods, there were different orders and degrees--deified men or
heroes, aërial, terrestrial, and celestial divinities, ascending from
nature up to God. And this tendency to supply some scale of ascent
towards the Deity, or at least to people the vast territory which seems
to swell between the world and God, finds some countenance in "the
angels and archangels," "the thrones, and dominions, and principalities,
and powers" of the Christian scriptures.[197]

3. These inferior ministers also seemed to Plato to _increase the
stately grandeur and imperial majesty of the Divine government._ They
swell the retinue of the Deity in his grand "circuit through the highest
arch of heaven."[198] They wait to execute the Divine commands. They are
the agents of Divine providence, "the messengers of God" to men.

[Footnote 197: "The gods of the Platonic system answer, in office and
conception, to the angels of Christian Theology."--Butler, vol. i. p.

[Footnote 198: "Phædrus," § 56,7.]

4. And, finally, the host of inferior deities interposed between the
material sensible world and God seemed to Plato as _needful in order to
explain the apparent defects and disorders of sublunary affairs_. Plato
was jealous of the Divine honor. "All good must be ascribed to God, and
nothing but good. We must find evil, disorder, suffering, in some other
cause."[199] He therefore commits to the junior deities the task of
creating animals, and of forming "the mortal part of man," because the
mortal part is "possessed of certain dire and necessary passions."[200]

[Footnote 199: "Republic," bk. ii. p.18.]

[Footnote 200: "Timæus," xliv.]

Aristotle seems to have regarded the popular polytheism of Greece as a
perverted relic of a deeper and purer "Theology" which he conceives to
have been, in all probability, perfected in the distant past, and then
comparatively lost. He says--"The tradition has come down from very
ancient times, being left in a mythical garb to succeeding generations,
that these (the heavenly bodies) are gods, and that the Divinity
_encompasses the whole of nature_. There have been made, however, to
these certain fabulous additions for the purpose of winning the belief
of the multitude, and thus securing their obedience to the laws, and
their co-operation towards advancing the general welfare of the state.
These additions have been to the effect that these gods were of the same
form as men, and even that some of them were in appearance similar to
certain others amongst the rest of the animal creation. The wise course,
however, would be for the philosopher to disengage from these traditions
the false element, and to embrace that which is true; and the truth lies
in that portion of this ancient doctrine which regards the first and
deepest ground of all existence to be the _Divine_, and this he may
regard as a divine utterance. In all probability, every art, and
science, and philosophy has been over and over again discovered to the
farthest extent possible, and then again lost; and we may conceive these
opinions to have been preserved to us as a sort of fragment of these
lost philosophers. We see, then, to some extent the relation of the
popular belief to these ancient opinions."[201] This conception of a
deep Divine ground of all existence (for the immateriality and unity of
which he elsewhere earnestly contends)[202] is thus regarded by
Aristotle as underlying the popular polytheism of Greece.

[Footnote 201: "Metaph.," xi. 8.]

[Footnote 202: Bk. xi. ch. ii. § 4.]

The views of the educated and philosophic mind of Greece in regard to
the mythological deities may, in conclusion, be thus briefly stated--

I. _They are all created beings_--"GENERATED DEITIES," _who are
dependent on, and subject to, the will of one supreme God_.

II. _They are the_ AGENTS _employed by God in the creation of, at least
some parts of, the universe, and in the movement and direction of the
entire cosmos; and they are also the_ MINISTERS _and_ MESSENGERS _of
that universal providence which he exercises over the human race_.

These subordinate deities are, 1. the greater parts of the visible
mundane system animated by intelligent souls, and called "_sensible
gods_"--the sun, the moon, the stars, and even the earth itself, and
known by the names Helios, Selena, Kronos, Hermes, etc.

2. Some are _invisible powers_, having peculiar offices and functions
and presiding over special places provinces and departments of the
universe;--one ruling in the heavens (Zeus), another in the air (Juno),
another in the sea (Neptune), another in the subterranean regions
(Pluto); one god presiding over learning and wisdom (Minerva), another
over poetry, music, and religion (Apollo), another over justice and
political order (Themis), another over war (Mars), another over corn
(Ceres), and another the vine (Bacchus).

3. Others, again, are _ethereal_ and _aërial_ beings, who have the
guardianship of individual persons and things, and are called _demons,
genii_, and _lares_; superior indeed to men, but inferior to the gods
above named.

"Wherefore, since there were no other gods among the Pagans besides
those above enumerated, unless their images, statues, and symbols should
be accounted such (because they were also sometimes abusively called
'gods'), which could not be supposed by them to have been unmade or
without beginning, they being the workmanship of their own hands, we
conclude, universally, that all that multiplicity of Pagan gods which
make so great a show and noise was really either nothing but several
names and notions of one supreme Deity, according to his different
manifestations, gifts, and effects upon the world personated, or else
many inferior understanding beings, generated or created by one supreme:
so that one unmade, self-existent Deity, and no more, was acknowledged
by the more intelligent Pagans, and, consequently, the Pagan Polytheism
(or idolatry) consisted not in worshipping a multiplicity of unmade
minds, deities, and creators, self-existent from eternity, and
independent upon one Supreme, but in mingling and blending some way or
other, unduly, creature-worship with the worship of the Creator."[203]

[Footnote 203: Cudworth, "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 311.]

That the heathen regard the one Supreme Being as the first and chief
object of worship is evident from the apologies which they offered for
worshipping, besides Him, many inferior divinities.

1. They claimed to worship them _only_ as inferior beings, and that
therefore they were not guilty of giving them that honor which belonged
to the Supreme. They claimed to worship the supreme God incomparably
above all. 2. That this honor which is bestowed upon the inferior
divinities does ultimately redound to the supreme God, and aggrandize
his state and majesty, they being all his ministers and attendants. 3.
That as demons are mediators between the celestial gods and men, so
those celestial gods are also mediators between men and the supreme God,
and, as it were, convenient steps by which we ought with reverence to
approach him. 4. That demons or angels being appointed to preside over
kingdoms, cities, and persons, and being many ways benefactors to us,
thanks ought to be returned to them by sacrifice. 5. Lastly, that it can
not be thought that the Supreme Being will envy those inferior beings
that worship or honor which is bestowed upon them; nor suspect that any
of these inferior deities will factiously go about to set up themselves
against the Supreme God.

The Pagans, furthermore, apologized for worshipping God in images,
statues, and symbols, on the ground that these were only schetically
worshipped by them, the honor passing from them to the prototype. And
since we live in bodies, and can scarcely, conceive of any thing without
having some image or phantasm, we may therefore be indulged in this
infirmity of human nature (at least in the vulgar) to worship God under
a corporeal image, as a means of preventing men from falling into

To the Christian conscience the above reasons assigned furnish no real
justification of Polytheism and Idolatry; but they are certainly a tacit
confession of their belief in the one Supreme God, and their conviction
that, notwithstanding their idolatry, He only ought to be worshipped.
The heathen polytheists are therefore justly condemned in Scripture, and
pronounced to be "_inexcusable_." They had the knowledge of the true
God--" they _knew God_" and yet "they glorified him not as God." "They
changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of
corruptible man." And, finally, they ended in "worshipping and serving
the creature _more_ than the Creator."[204]

[Footnote 204: Romans i. 21, 25.]

It can not, then, with justice be denied that the Athenians had some
knowledge of the true God, and some just and worthy conceptions of his
character. It is equally certain that a powerful and influential
religious sentiment pervaded the Athenian mind. Their extreme
"carefulness in religion" must be conceded by us, and, in some sense,
commended by us, as it was by Paul in his address on Mars' Hill. At the
same time it must also be admitted and deplored that the purer theology
of primitive times was corrupted by offensive legends, and encrusted by
polluting myths, though not utterly defaced.[205] The Homeric gods were
for the most part idealized, human personalities, with all the passions
and weaknesses of humanity. They had their favorites and their enemies;
sometimes they fought in one camp, sometimes in another. They were
susceptible of hatred, jealousy, sensual passion. It would be strange
indeed if their worshippers were not like unto them. The conduct of the
Homeric heroes was, however, better than their creed. And there is this
strange incongruity and inconsistency in the conduct of the Homeric
gods,--they punish mortals for crimes of which they themselves are
guilty, and reward virtues in men which they do not themselves always
practise. "They punish with especial severity social and political
crimes, such as perjury (Iliad, iii. 279), oppression of the poor (Od.
xvii. 475), and unjust judgment in courts of justice (Iliad, xvi. 386)."
Jupiter is the god of justice, and of the domestic hearth; he is the
protector of the exile, the avenger of the poor, and the vigilant
guardian of hospitality. "And with all the imperfections of society,
government, and religion, the poem presents a remarkable picture of
primitive simplicity, chastity, justice, and practical piety, under the
three-fold influence of moral feeling, mutual respect, and fear of the
divine displeasure; such, at least, are the motives to which Telemachus
makes his appeal when he endeavors to rouse the assembled people of
Ithaca to the performance of their duty (Od. ii. 64)."[206]

[Footnote 205: "There was always a double current of religious ideas in
Greece; one spiritualist, the other tainted with impure

[Footnote 206: Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 167, 168;
Pressensé, "Religion before Christ," p. 77.]

The influence of the religious dramas of Æschylus and Sophocles on the
Athenian mind must not be overlooked. No writer of pagan antiquity made
the voice of conscience speak with the same power and authority that
Æschylus did. "Crime," he says, "never dies without posterity." "Blood
that has been shed congeals on the ground, crying out for an avenger."
The old poet made himself the echo of what he called "the lyreless hymn
of the Furies," who, with him, represented severe Justice striking the
guilty when his hour comes, and giving warning beforehand by the terrors
which haunt him. His dramas are characterized by deep religious feeling.
Reverence for the gods, the recognition of an inflexible moral order,
resignation to the decisions of Heaven, an abiding presentiment of a
future state of reward and punishment, are strikingly predominant.

Whilst Æschylus reveals to us the sombre, terror-stricken side of
conscience, Sophocles shows us the divine and luminous side. No one has
ever spoken with nobler eloquence than he of moral obligation--of this
immortal, inflexible law, in which dwells a God that never grows old--

        "Oh be the lot forever mine
            Unsullied to maintain,
         In act and word, with awe divine,
            What potent laws ordain.

     "Laws spring from purer realms above:
      Their father is the Olympian Jove.
      Ne'er shall oblivion veil their front sublime,
      Th' indwelling god is great, nor fears the wastes of time."[207]

The religious inspiration that animates Sophocles breaks out with
incomparable beauty in the last words of Œdipus, when the old banished
king sees through the darkness of death a mysterious light dawn, which
illumines his blind eyes, and which brings to him the assurance of a
blessed immortality.[208]

[Footnote 207: "Œdipus Tyran.," pp. 863-872.]

[Footnote 208: Pressensé, "Religion before Christ," pp. 85-87.]

Such a theology could not have been utterly powerless. The influence of
truth, in every measure and degree, must be salutary, and especially of
truth in relation to God, to duty, and to immortality. The religion of
the Athenians must have had some wholesome and conserving influence of
the social and political life of Athens.[209] Those who resign the
government of this lower world almost exclusively to Satan, may see, in
the religion of the Greeks, a simple creation of Satanic powers. But he
who believes that the entire progress of humanity has been under the
control and direction of a benignant Providence, must suppose that, in
the purposes of God, even Ethnicism has fulfilled some end, or it would
not have been permitted to live. God has "_never left himself without a
witness_" in any nation under heaven. And some preparatory office has
been fulfilled by Heathenism which, at least, repealed the _want_, and
prepared the mind for, the advent of Christianity.

[Footnote 209: The practice, so common with some theological writers, of
drawing dark pictures of heathenism, in which not one luminous spot is
visible, in order to exalt the revelations given to the Jews, is
exceedingly unfortunate, and highly reprehensible. It is unfortunate,
because the skeptical scholar knows that there were some elements of
truth and excellence, and even of grandeur, in the religion and
civilization of the republics of Greece and Rome; and it is
reprehensible, because it is a one-sided and unjust procedure, in so far
as it withholds part of the truth. This species of argument is a
two-edged sword which cuts both ways. The prevalence of murder, and
slavery, and treachery, and polygamy, in Greece and Rome, is no more a
proof that "the religions of the pagan nations were destructive of
morality" (Watson, vol. i. p. 59), than the polygamy of the Hebrews, the
falsehoods and impositions of Mediaeval Christianity, the persecutions
and martyrdoms of Catholic Christianity, the oppressions and wrongs of
Christian England, and the slavery of Protestant America, are proofs
that the Christian religion is "destructive of morality." What a fearful
picture of the history of Christian nations might be drawn to-day, if
all the lines of light, and goodness, and charity were left out, and the
crimes, and wrongs, and cruelties of the Christian nations were alone

How much more convincing a proof of the truth of Christianity to find in
the religions of the ancient world a latent sympathy with, and an
unconscious preparation for, the religion of Christ. "The history of
religions of human origin is the most striking evidence of the agreement
of revealed religion with the soul of man--for each of these forms of
worship is the expression of the wants of conscience, its eternal thirst
for pardon and restoration--rather let us say, its thirst for
God."--Pressensé, p. 6.]

The religion of the Athenians was unable to deliver them from the guilt
of sin, redeem them from its power, and make them pure and holy. It gave
the Athenian no victory over himself, and, practically, brought him no
nearer to the living God. But it awakened and educated the conscience,
it developed more fully the sense of sin and guilt, and it made man
conscious of his inability to save himself from sin and guilt; and "the
day that humanity awakens to the want of something more than mere
embellishment and culture, that day it feels the need of being saved and
restored from the consequences of sin" by a higher power. Æsthetic taste
had found its fullest gratification in Athens; poetry, sculpture,
architecture, had been carried to the highest perfection; a noble
civilization had been reached; but "the need of something deeper and
truer was written on the very stones." The highest consummation of
Paganism was an altar to "the unknown God," the knowledge of whom it
needed, as the source of purity and peace.

The strength and the weakness of Grecian mythology consisted in the
contradictory character of its divinities. It was a strange blending of
the natural and the supernatural, the human and the divine. Zeus, the
eternal Father,--the immortal King, whose will is sovereign, and whose
power is invincible,--the All-seeing Jove, has some of the weaknesses
and passions of humanity. God and man are thus, in some mysterious way,
united. And here that deepest longing of the human heart is met--the
unconquerable desire to bring God nearer to the human apprehension, and
closer to the human heart. Hence the hold which Polytheism had upon the
Grecian mind. But in this human aspect was also found its weakness, for
when philosophic thought is brought into contact with, and permitted
critically to test mythology, it dethrones the false gods. The age of
spontaneous religious sentiment must necessarily be succeeded by the age
of reflective thought. Popular theological faiths must be placed in the
hot crucible of dialectic analysis, that the false and the frivolous may
be separated from the pure and the true. The reason of man demands to be
satisfied, as well as the heart. Faith in God must have a logical basis,
it must be grounded on demonstration and proof. Or, at any rate, the
question must be answered, _whether God is cognizable by human reason_?
If this can be achieved, then a deeper foundation is laid in the mind of
humanity, upon which Christianity can rear its higher and nobler truths.



"As I passed by, and beheld your sacred objects, I found an altar with
this inscription, _To the Unknown God_."--ST. PAUL.

"That which can be _known_ of God is manifested in their hearts, God
himself having shown it to them" [the heathen nations].--ST. PAUL.

Having now reached our first landing-place, from whence we may survey
the fields that we have traversed, it may be well to set down in
definite propositions the results we have attained. We may then carry
them forward, as torches, to illuminate the path of future and still
profounder inquiries.

The principles we have assumed as the only adequate and legitimate
interpretation of the facts of religious history, and which an extended
study of the most fully-developed religious system of the ancient world
confirms, may be thus announced:

I. A religious nature and destination appertain to man, so that the
purposes of his existence and the perfection of his being can only be
secured in and through religion.

II. The idea of God as the unconditioned Cause, the infinite Mind, the
personal Lord and Lawgiver, and the consciousness of dependence upon and
obligation to God, are the fundamental principles of all religion.

III. Inasmuch as man is a religious being, the instincts and emotions of
his nature constraining him to worship, there must also be implanted in
his rational nature some original _à priori_ ideas or laws of thought
which furnish the necessary cognition of the object of worship; that is,
some native, spontaneous cognition of God.

A mere blind impulse would not be adequate to guide man to the true end
and perfection of his being without rational ideas; a tendency or
appetency, without a revealed object, would be the mockery and misery of
his nature--an "ignis fatuus" perpetually alluring and forever deceiving

That man has a native, spontaneous apperception of a God, in the true
import of that sacred name, has been denied by men of totally opposite
schools and tendencies of thought--by the Idealist and the Materialist;
by the Theologian and the Atheist. Though differing essentially in their
general principles and method, they are agreed in asserting that God is
absolutely "_the unknown_;" and that, so far as reason and logic are
concerned, man can not attain to any knowledge of the first principles
and causes of the universe, and, consequently, can not determine whether
the first principle or principles be intelligent or unintelligent,
personal or impersonal, finite or infinite, one or many righteous or
non-righteous, evil or good.

The various opponents of the doctrine that God can be cognized by human
reason may be classified as follows: I. _Those who assert that all human
knowledge is necessarily confined to the observation and classification
of phenomena in their orders of co-existence, succession, and
resemblance_. Man has no faculty for cognizing substances, causes,
forces, reasons, first principles--no power by which he can _know_ God.
This class may be again subdivided into--

1. Those who limit all knowledge to the observation and classification
of _mental_ phenomena (_e. g_., Idealists like J. S. Mill).

2. Those who limit all knowledge to the observation and classification
of _material_ phenomena (_e. g_., Materialists like Comte).

II. _The second class comprises all who admit that philosophic knowledge
is the knowledge of effects as dependent on causes, and of qualities as
inherent in substances; but at the same time assert that "all knowledge
is of the phenomenal_." Philosophy can never attain to a positive
knowledge of the First Cause. Of existence, absolutely and in itself, we
know nothing. The infinite can not by us be comprehended, conceived, or
thought. _Faith_ is the organ by which we apprehend what is beyond
knowledge. We believe in the existence of God, but we can not _know_
God. This class, also, may be again subdivided into--

1. Those who affirm that our idea of the Infinite First Cause is
grounded on an _intuitional_ or subjective faith, necessitated by an
"impotence of thought"--that is, by a mental inability to conceive an
absolute limitation or an infinite illimitation, an absolute
commencement or an infinite non-commencement. Both contradictory
opposites are equally incomprehensible and inconceivable to us; and yet,
though unable to view either as possible, we are forced by a higher
law--the "Law of Excluded Middle"--to admit that one, and only one, is
necessary (_e. g_., Hamilton and Mansel).

2. Those who assert that our idea of God rests solely on an _historical_
or objective faith in testimony--the testimony of Scripture, which
assures us that, in the course of history, God has manifested his
existence in an objective manner to the senses, and given verbal
communications of his character and will to men; human reason being
utterly incapacitated by the fall, and the consequent depravity of man,
to attain any knowledge of the unity, spirituality, and righteousness of
God (_e. g_., Watson, and Dogmatic Theologians generally).

It will thus be manifest that the great question, the central and vital
question which demands a thorough and searching consideration, is the
following, to wit: _Is God cognizable by human reason_? Can man attain
to a positive cognition of God--can he _know_ God; or is all our
supposed knowledge "a learned ignorance,"[210] an unreasoning faith? We
venture to answer this question in the affirmative. Human reason is now
adequate to the cognition of God; it is able, with the fullest
confidence, to affirm the being of a God, and, in some degree, to
determine his character. The parties and schools above referred to
answer this question in the negative form. Whether Theologians or
Atheists, they are singularly agreed in denying to human reason all
possibility of _knowing_ God.

[Footnote 210: Hamilton's "Philosophy," p. 512.]

Before entering upon the discussion of the negative positions enumerated
in the above classification, it may be important we should state our own
position explicitly, and exhibit what we regard as the true doctrine of
the genesis of the idea of God in the human intelligence. The real
question at issue will then stand out in clear relief, and precision
will be given to the entire discussion.

(i.) _We hold that the idea of God is a common phenomenon of the
universal human intelligence_. It is found in all minds where reason has
had its normal and healthy development; and no race of men has ever been
found utterly destitute of the idea of God. The proof of this position
has already been furnished in chap, ii.,[211] and needs not be re-stated
here. We have simply to remark that the appeal which is made by Locke
and others of the sensational school to the experiences of infants,
idiots, the deaf and dumb, or, indeed, any cases wherein the proper
conditions for the normal development of reason are wanting, are utterly
irrelevant to the question. The acorn contains within itself the
rudimental germ of the future oak, but its mature and perfect
development depends on the exterior conditions of moisture, light, and
heat. By these exterior conditions it may be rendered luxuriant in its
growth, or it may be stunted in its growth. It may barely exist under
one class of conditions; it may be distorted and perverted, or it may
perish utterly under another. And so in the idiotic mind the ideas of
reason may be wanting, or they may be imprisoned by impervious walls of
cerebral malformation. In the infant mind the development of reason is
yet in an incipient stage. The idea of God is immanent to the infant
thought, but the infant thought is not yet matured. The deaf and dumb
are certainly not in that full and normal correlation to the world of
sense which is a necessary condition of the development of reason.
Language, the great vehiculum and instrument of thought, is wanting, and
reason can not develop itself without words. "Words without thought are
dead sounds, _thoughts without words are nothing_. The word is the
thought incarnate."[212] Under proper and normal conditions, the idea of
God is the natural and necessary form in which human thought must be
developed. And, with these explanations, we repeat our affirmation that
the idea of God is a common phenomenon of the universal human

[Footnote 211: Pp. 89,90.]

[Footnote 212: Müller, " Science of Language," p. 384.]

(ii.) _We do not hold that the idea of God, in its completeness, is a
simple, direct, and immediate intuition of the reason alone, independent
of all experience, and all knowledge of the external world_. The idea of
God is a complex idea, and not a simple idea. The affirmation, "God
exists," is a _synthetic_ and _primitive_ judgment spontaneously
developed in the mind, and developed, too, independent of all reflective
reasoning. It is a necessary deduction from the facts of the outer world
of nature and the primary intuitions of the inner world of reason--a
logical deduction from the self-evident truths given in sense,
consciousness, and reason. "We do not _perceive_ God, but we _conceive_
Him upon the faith of this admirable world exposed to view, and upon the
other world, more admirable still, which we bear in ourselves."[213]
Therefore we do not say that man is born with an "innate idea" of God,
nor with the definite proposition, "there is a God," written upon his
soul; but we do say that the mind is pregnant with certain natural
principles, and governed, in its development, by certain necessary laws
of thought, which determine it, by a _spontaneous logic_, to affirm the
being of a God; and, furthermore, that this judgment may be called
_innate_ in the sense, that it is the primitive, universal, and
necessary development of the human understanding which "is innate to
itself and equal to itself in all men."[214]

[Footnote 213: Cousin, "True, Beautiful and Good," p.102.]

[Footnote 214: Leibnitz.]

As the vital and rudimentary germ of the oak is contained in the acorn;
as it is quickened and excited to activity by the external conditions of
moisture, light, and heat, and is fully de developed under the fixed and
determinative laws of vegetable life--so the germs of the idea of God
are present in the human mind as the intuitions of pure reason
(_Rational Psychology_); these intuitions are excited to energy by our
experiential and historical knowledge of the facts and laws of the
universe (_Phenomenology_); and these facts and intuitions are developed
into form by the necessary laws of the intellect (_Nomology_, or
_Primordial Logic_).

The _logical demonstration_ of the being of God commences with the
analysis of thought. It asks, What are the ideas which exist in the
human intelligence? What are their actual characteristics, and what
their primitive characteristics? What is their origin, and what their
validity? Having, by this process, found that some of our ideas are
subjective, and some objective that some are derived from experience,
and that some can not be derived from experience, but are inherent in
the very constitution of the mind itself, as _à priori_ ideas of reason;
that these are characterized as self-evident, universal, and necessary
and that, as laws of thought, they govern the mind in all its
conceptions of the universe; it has formulated these necessary
judgments, and presented them as distinct and articulate propositions.
These _à priori_, necessary judgments constitute the major premise of
the Theistic syllogism, and, in view of the facts of the universe,
necessitate the affirmation of the existence of a God as the only valid
explanation of the facts.

The _natural_ or _chronological order_ in which the idea of God is
developed in the human intelligence, is the reverse process of the
scientific or logical order, in which the demonstration of the being of
God is presented by philosophy; the latter is _reflective_ and
_analytic_, the former is _spontaneous_ and _synthetic._ The natural
order commences with the knowledge of the facts of the universe,
material and mental, as revealed by sensation and experience. In
presence of these facts of the universe, the _à priori_ ideas of power,
cause, reason, and end are evoked into consciousness with greater or
less distinctness; and the judgment, by a natural and spontaneous logic,
free from all reflection, and consequently from all possibility of
error, affirms a necessary relation between the facts of experience and
the _à priori_ ideas of the reason. The result of this involuntary and
almost unconscious process of thought is that natural cognition of a God
found, with greater or less clearness and definiteness, in all rational
minds. The _à posteriori_, or empirical knowledge of the phenomena of
the universe, in their relations to time and space, constitute the minor
premise of the Theistic syllogism.

The Theistic argument is, therefore, necessarily composed of both
experiential and _à priori_ elements. An _à posteriori_ element exists
as a condition of the logical demonstration The rational _à priori_
element is, however, the logical basis, the only valid foundation of the
Theistic demonstration. The facts of the universe alone would never lead
man to the recognition of a God, if the reason, in presence of these
facts, did not enounce certain necessary and universal principles which
are the logical antecedents, and adequate explanation of the facts. Of
what use would it be to point to the events and changes of the material
universe as proofs of the existence of a _First Cause,_ unless we take
account of the universal and necessary truth that "every change must
have an efficient cause;" that all phenomena are an indication of
_power_; and that "there is an ultimate and sufficient reason why all
things exist, and are as they are, and not otherwise." There would be no
logical force in enumerating the facts of order and special adaptation
which literally crowd the universe, as proofs of the existence of an
_Intelligent Creator_, if the mind did not affirm the necessary
principle that "facts of order, having a commencement in time, suppose
mind as their source and exponent." There is no logical conclusiveness
in the assertion of Paley, "that _experience_ teaches us that a designer
must be a person," because, as Hume justly remarks, our "experience" is
narrowed down to a mere point, "and can not be a rule for a universe;"
but there is an infinitude of force in that dictum of reason, that
"intelligence, self-consciousness, and self-determination necessarily
constitute personality." A multiplicity of different effects, of which
experience does not always reveal the connection, would not conduct to a
single cause and to _one_ God, but rather to a plurality of causes and a
plurality of gods, did not reason teach us that "all plurality implies
an ultimate indivisible unity," and therefore there must be a _First
Cause_ of all causes, a _First Principle_ of all principles, _the
Substance_ of all substances, _the Being_ of all beings--_a God_ "of
whom, in whom, and to whom are all things" (πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν τῷ
θεῷ, εἰς τὸν θεόν).

The conclusion, therefore, is, that, as the idea of God is a complex
idea, so there are necessarily a number of simple _à priori_ principles,
and a variety of experiential facts conspiring to its development in the
human intelligence.

(iii.) _The universe presents to the human mind an aggregation and
history of phenomena which demands the idea of a God--a self-existent,
intelligent, personal, righteous First Cause--as its adequate

The attempt of Positivism to confine all human knowledge to the
observation and classification of phenomena, and arrest and foreclose
all inquiry as to causes, efficient, final, and ultimate, is simply
futile and absurd. It were just as easy to arrest the course of the sun
in mid-heaven as to prevent the human mind from seeking to pass beyond
phenomena, and ascertain the ground, and reason, and cause of all
phenomena. The history of speculative thought clearly attests that, in
all ages, the inquiry after the Ultimate Cause and Reason of all
existence--the ἀρχή, or First Principle of all things--has been the
inevitable and necessary tendency of the human mind; to resist which,
skepticism and positivism have been utterly impotent. The first
philosophers, of the Ionian school, had just as strong a faith in the
existence of a Supreme Reality--an Ultimate Cause--as Leibnitz and
Cousin. But when, by reflective thought, they attempted to render an
account to themselves of this instinctive faith, they imagined that its
object must be in some way appreciable to sense, and they sought it in
some physical element, or under some visible and tangible shrine. Still,
however imperfect and inadequate the method, and however unsatisfactory
the results, humanity has never lost its positive and ineradicable
confidence that the problem of existence could be solved. The resistless
tide of spontaneous and necessary thought has always borne the race
onward towards the recognition of a great First Cause; and though
philosophy may have erred, again and again, in tracing the logical order
of this inevitable thought, and exhibiting the necessary nexus between
the premises and conclusion, yet the human mind has never wavered in the
confidence which it has reposed in the natural logic of thought, and man
has never ceased to believe in a God.

We readily grant that all our empirical knowledge is confined to
phenomena in their orders of co-existence, succession, and resemblance.
"To our objective perception and comparison nothing is given but
qualities and changes; to our inductive generalization nothing but the
shifting and grouping of these in time and space." Were it, however, our
immediate concern to discuss the question, we could easily show that
sensationalism has never succeeded in tracing the genetic origin of our
ideas of space and time to observation and experience; and, without the
_à priori_ idea of _space_, as the place of bodies, and of _time_, as
the condition of succession, we can not conceive of phenomena at all.
If, therefore, we know any thing beyond phenomena and their mutual
relations; if we have any cognition of realities underlying phenomena,
and of the relations of phenomena to their objective ground, it must be
given by some faculty distinct from sense-perception, and in some
process distinct from inductive generalization. The knowledge of real
Being and real Power, of an ultimate Reason and a personal Will, is
derived from the apperception of pure reason, which affirms the
necessary existence of a Supreme Reality--an Uncreated Being beyond all
phenomena, which is the ground and reason of the existence--the
contemporaneousness and succession--the likeness and unlikeness, of all

The immediate presentation of phenomena to sensation is the _occasion_
of the development in consciousness of these _à priori_ ideas of reason:
the possession of these ideas or the immanence of these ideas, in the
human intellect, constitutes the original _power_ to know external
phenomena. The ideas of space, time, power, law, reason, and end, are
the logical antecedents of the ideas of body, succession, event,
consecution, order, and adaptation. The latter can not be conceived as
distinct notions without the former. The former will not be revealed in
thought without the presentation to sense, of resistance, movement,
change, uniformity, etc. All actual knowledge must, therefore, be
impure; that is, it must involve both _à priori_ and _à posteriori_
elements; and between these elements there must be a necessary relation.

This necessary relation between the _à priori_ and _à posteriori_
elements of knowledge is not a mere subjective law of thought. It is
both a law of thought and a law of things. Between the _à posteriori_
facts of the universe and the _à priori_ ideas of the reason there is an
absolute nexus, a universal and necessary correlation; so that the
cognition of the latter is possible only on the cognition of the former;
and the objective existence of the realities, represented by the ideas
of reason, is the condition, _sine qua non_, of the existence of the
phenomena presented to sense. If, in one indivisible act of
consciousness, we immediately perceive extended matter exterior to our
percipient mind, then Extension exists objectively; and if Extension
exists objectively, then Space, its _conditio sine qua non_, also exists
objectively. And if a definite body reveals to us the _Space_ in which
it is contained, if a succession of pulsations or movements exhibit the
uniform _Time_ beneath, so do the changeful phenomena of the universe
demand a living _Power_ behind, and the existing order and regular
evolution of the universe presuppose _Thought_--prevision, and
predetermination, by an intelligent mind.

If, then, the universe is a created effect, it must furnish some
indications of the character of its cause. If, as Plato taught, the
world is a "created image" of the eternal archetypes which dwell in the
uncreated Mind, and if the subjective ideas which dwell in the human
reason, as the offspring of God, are "copies" of the ideas of the
Infinite Reason--if the universe be "the autobiography of the Infinite
Spirit which has also repeated itself in miniature within our finite
spirit," then may we decipher its symbols, and read its lessons straight
off. Then every approach towards a scientific comprehension and
generalization of the facts of the universe must carry us upward towards
the higher realities of reason. The more we can understand of Nature--of
her comprehensive laws, of her archetypal forms, of her far-reaching
plan spread through the almost infinite ages, and stretching through
illimitable space--the more do we comprehend the divine Thought. The
inductive generalization of science gradually _ascends_ towards the
universal; the pure, essential, _à priori_ reason, with its universal
and necessary ideas, _descends_ from above to meet it. The general
conceptions of science are thus a kind of _ideœ umbratiles_--shadowy
assimilations to those immutable ideas which dwell in essential reason,
as possessed by the Supreme Intelligence, and which are participated in
by rational man as the offspring and image of God.

Without making any pretension to profound scientific accuracy, we offer
the following tentative classification of the facts of the universe,
material and mental, which may be regarded as hints and adumbrations of
the ultimate ground, and reason, and cause, of the universe. We shall
venture to classify these facts as indicative of some fundamental
relation; (i.) to Permanent Being or Reality; (ii.) to Reason and
Thought; (iii.) to Moral Ideas and Ends.

(i.) _Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation to
Permanent Being or Reality_.

1. _Qualitative_ Phenomena (properties, attributes, qualities)--the
predicates of a _subject_; which phenomena, being characterized by
likeness and unlikeness, are capable of comparison and classification,
and thus of revealing something as to the nature of the _subject_.

2. _Dynamical_ Phenomena (protension, movement, succession)--events
transpiring in _time_, having beginning, succession, and end, which
present themselves to us as the expression of _power_, and throw back
their distinctive characteristics on their _dynamic_ source.

3. _Quantitative_ Phenomena (totality, multiplicity, relative unity)--a
multiplicity of objects having relative and composite unity, which
suggests some relation to an absolute and indivisible _unity_.

4. _Statical_ Phenomena (extension, magnitude, divisibility)--bodies
co-existing in _space_ which are limited, conditioned, relative,
dependent, and indicate some relation to that which is self-existent,
unconditioned, and absolute.

(ii.) _Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation to
Reason or Thought_.

1. _Numerical and Geometrical Proportion_.--Definite proportion of
elements (Chemistry), symmetrical arrangement of parts
(Crystallography), numerical and geometrical relation of the forms and
movements of the heavenly bodies (Spherical Astronomy), all of which are
capable of exact mathematical expression.

2. _Archetypal Forms_.--The uniform succession of new existences, and
the progressive evolution of new orders and species, conformable to
fixed and definite ideal archetypes, the indication of a comprehensive
_plan_(Morphological Botany, Comparative Anatomy).

3. _Teleology of Organs_.--The adaptation of organs to the fulfillment
of special functions, indicating _design_(Comparative Physiology).

4. _Combination of Homotypes and Analogues_.--Diversified homologous
forms made to fulfill analogous functions, or special purposes fulfilled
whilst maintaining a general plan, indicating _choice_ and

(iii.) _Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation
to Moral Ideas and Ends_.

1. _Ethical Distinctions_.--The universal tendency to discriminate
between voluntary acts as right or wrong, indicating some relation to an
_immutable moral standard of right_.

2. _Sense of Obligation_.--The universal consciousness of dependence and
obligation, indicating some relation to Supreme _Power_, an Absolute

3. _Feeling of Responsibility_.--The universal consciousness of
liability to be required to give account for, and endure the
consequences of our action, indicating some relation to a Supreme

4. _Retributive Issues_.--The pleasure and pain resulting from moral
action in this life, and the universal anticipation of pleasure or pain
in the future, as the consequence of present conduct, indicate an
_absolute Justice_ ruling the world and man.

Now, if the universe be a _created effect_, it must, in some degree at
least, reveal the character of its Author and cause. We are entitled to
regard it as a created symbol and image of the Deity; it must bear the
impress of his _power_; it must reveal his infinite _presence_; it must
express his _thoughts_; it must embody and realize his _ideals_, so far,
at least, as material symbols will permit. Just as we see the power and
thought of man revealed in his works, his energy and skill, his ideal
and his taste expressed in his mechanical, artistic, and literary
creations, so we may see the mind and character of God displayed in his
works. The skill and contrivance of Watts, and Fulton, and Stephenson
were exhibited in their mechanical productions. The pure, the intense,
the visionary impersonation of the soul which the artist had conjured in
his own imagination was wrought out in Psyché. The colossal grandeur of
Michael Angelo's ideals, the ethereal and saintly elegance of Raphael's
were realized upon the canvas. So he who is familiar with the ideal of
the sculptor or the painter can identify his creations even when the
author's name is not affixed. And so the "eternal Power" of God is
"clearly seen" in the mighty orbs which float in the illimitable space.
The vastness of the universe shadows forth the infinity of God. The
indivisible unity of space and the ideal unity of the universe reflect
the unity of God. The material forms around us are symbols of divine
ideas, and the successive history of the universe is an expression of
the divine thought; whilst the ethical ideas and sentiments inherent in
the human mind are a reflection of the moral character of God.

The reader can not have failed to observe the form in which the Theistic
argument is stated; "_if_ the finite universe is a created effect, it
must reveal something as to the nature of its cause: _if_ the existing
order and arrangement of the universe had a commencement in time, it
must have an ultimate and adequate cause." The question, therefore,
presents itself in a definite form: "_Is the universe finite or
infinite; had the order of the universe a beginning, or is it eternal_?"

It will be seen at a glance that this is the central and vital question
in the Theistic argument. If the order and arrangement of the universe
is _eternal_, then that order is an inherent law of nature, and, as
eternal, does not imply a cause _ab extra:_ if it is not eternal, then
the ultimate cause of that order must be a power above and beyond
nature. In the former case the minor premise of the Theistic syllogism
is utterly invalidated; in the latter case it is abundantly sustained.

Some Theistic writers--as Descartes, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Saisset--have
made the fatal admission that the universe is, in some sense, _infinite_
and _eternal_. In making this admission they have unwittingly
surrendered the citadel of strength, and deprived the argument by which
they would prove the being of a God of all its logical force. That
argument is thus presented by Saisset: "The finite supposes the
infinite. Extension supposes first space, then immensity: duration
supposes first time, then eternity. A sudden and irresistible judgment
refers this to the necessary, infinite, perfect being."[215] But if "the
world is infinite and eternal,"[216] may not nature, or the totality of
all existence (τὺ πᾶν), be the necessary, infinite, and perfect Being?
An infinite and eternal universe has the reason of its existence in
itself, and the existence of such a universe can never prove to us the
existence of an infinite and eternal God.

[Footnote 215: "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. p. 205.]

[Footnote 216: Ibid, p. 123.]

A closer examination of the statements and reasonings of Descartes,
Pascal, and Leibnitz, as furnished by Saisset, will show that these
distinguished mathematicans were misled by the false notion of
"_mathematical_ infinitude." Their infinite universe, after all, is not
an "absolute," but a "relative" infinite; that is, the indefinite. "The
universe must extend _indefinitely_ in time and space, in the infinite
greatness, and in the infinite littleness of its parts--in the infinite
variety of its species, of its forms, and of its degrees of existence.
The finite can not express the infinite but by being _multiplied_
infinitely. The finite, so far as it is finite, is not in any reasonable
relation, or in any intelligible proportion to the infinite. But the
finite, as _multiplied_ infinitely,[217] ages upon ages, spaces upon
spaces, stars beyond stars, worlds beyond worlds, is a true expression
of the Infinite Being. Does it follow, because the universe has no
limits,--that it must therefore be eternal, immense, infinite as God
himself? No; that is but a vain scruple, which springs from the
imagination, and not from the reason. The imagination is always
confounding what reason should ever distinguish, eternity and time,
immensity and space, _relative_ infinity and _absolute_ infinity. The
Creator alone is eternal, immense, absolutely infinite."[218]

[Footnote 217: "The infinite is distinct from the finite, and
consequently from the multiplication of the finite by itself; that is,
from the _indefinite_. That which is not infinite, added as many times
as you please to itself, will not become infinite."--Cousin, "Hist, of
Philos.," vol. ii. p. 231.]

[Footnote 218: Saisset, "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. pp. 127, 128.]

The introduction of the idea of "the mathematical infinite" into
metaphysical speculation, especially by Kant and Hamilton, with the
design, it would seem, of transforming the idea of infinity into a
sensuous conception, has generated innumerable paralogisms which
disfigure the pages of their philosophical writings. This procedure is
grounded in the common fallacy of supposing that _infinity_ and
_quantity_ are compatible attributes, and susceptible of mathematical
synthesis. This insidious and plausible error is ably refuted by a
writer in the "North American Review."[219] We can not do better than
transfer his argument to our pages in an abridged form.

[Footnote 219: "The Conditioned and the Unconditioned," No. CCV. art.
iii. (1864).]

Mathematics is conversant with quantities and quantitative relations.
The conception of quantity, therefore, if rigorously analyzed, will
indicate _à priori_ the natural and impassable boundaries of the
science; while a subsequent examination of the quantities called
infinite in the mathematical sense, and of the algebraic symbol of
infinity, will be seen to verify the results of this _à priori_

Quantity is that attribute of things in virtue of which they are
susceptible of exact mensuration. The question _how much_, or _how many_
(_quantus_), implies the answer, _so much_, or _so many_ (_tantus_); but
the answer is possible only through reference to some standard of
magnitude or multitude arbitrarily assumed. Every object, therefore, of
which quantity, in the mathematical sense, is predicable, must be by its
essential nature _mensurable._ Now mensurability implies the existence
of actual, definite limits, since without them there could be no fixed
relation between the given object and the standard of measurement, and,
consequently, no possibility of exact mensuration. In fact, since
quantification is the object of all mathematical operations, mathematics
may be not inaptly defined as _the science of the determinations of
limits_. It is evident, therefore, that the terms _quantity_ and
_finitude_ express the same attribute, namely, _limitation_--the former
relatively, the latter absolutely; for quantity is limitation considered
with relation to some standard of measurement, and finitude is
limitation considered simply in itself. The sphere of quantity,
therefore, is absolutely identical with the sphere of the finite; and
the phrase _infinite quantity_, if strictly construed, is a
contradiction in terms.

The result thus attained by considering abstract quantity is
corroborated by considering concrete and discrete quantities. Such
expressions as _infinite sphere, radius, parallelogram, line,_ and so
forth, are self-contradictory. A sphere is limited by its own periphery,
and a radius by the centre and circumference of its circle. A
parallelogram of infinite altitude is impossible, because the limit of
its altitude is assigned in the side which must be parallel to its base
in order to constitute it a parallelogram. In brief, all figuration is
limitation. The contradiction in the term _infinite line_ is not quite
so obvious, but can readily be made apparent. Objectively, a line is
only the termination of a surface, and a surface the termination of a
solid; hence a line can not exist apart from an extended quantity, nor
an infinite line apart from an infinite quantity. But as this term has
just been shown to be self-contradictory, an infinite line can not exist
objectively at all. Again, every line is extension in one dimension;
hence a mathematical quantity, hence mensurable, hence finite; you must
therefore, deny that a line is a quantity, or else affirm that it is

The same conclusion is forced upon us, if from geometry we turn to
arithmetic. The phrases _infinite number, infinite series, infinite
process_, and so forth, are all contradictory when literally construed.
Number is a relation among separate unities or integers, which,
considered objectively as independent of our cognitive powers, must
constitute an exact sum; and this exactitude, or synthetic totality, is
limitation. If considered subjectively in the mode of its cognition, a
number is infinite only in the sense that it is beyond the power of our
imagination or conception, which is an abuse of the term. In either case
the totality is fixed; that is, finite. So, too, of _series_ and
_process_. Since every series involves a succession of terms or numbers,
and every process a succession of steps or stages, the notion of series
and process plainly involves that of _number_, and must be rigorously
dissociated from the idea of infinity. At any one step, at any one term,
the number attained is determinate, hence finite. The fact that, by the
law of the series or of the process, _we_ may continue the operation _as
long as we please_, does not justify the application of the term
infinite to the operation itself; if any thing is infinite, it is the
will which continues the operation, which is absurd if said of human

Consequently, the attribute of infinity is not predicable either of
'diminution without limit,' 'augmentation without limit,' or 'endless
approximation to a fixed limit,' for these mathematical processes
continue only as we continue them, consist of steps successively
accomplished, and are limited by the very fact of this serial

"We can not forbear pointing out an important application of these
results to the Critical Philosophy. Kant bases each of his famous four
antinomies on the demand of pure reason for unconditioned totality in a
regressive series of conditions. This, he says, must be realized either
in an absolute first of the series, conditioning all the other members,
but itself unconditioned, or else in the absolute infinity of the series
without a first; but reason is utterly unable, on account of mutual
contradiction, to decide in which of the two alternatives the
unconditioned is found. By the principles we have laid down, however,
the problem is solved. The absolute infinity of a series is a
contradiction _in adjecto_. As every number, although immeasurably and
inconceivably great, is impossible unless _unity_ is given as its basis,
so every series, being itself a number, is impossible unless a _first
term_ is given as a commencement. Through a first term alone is the
unconditioned possible; that is, if it does not exist in a first term,
it can not exist at all; of the two alternatives, therefore, one
altogether disappears, and reason is freed from the dilemma of a
compulsory yet impossible decision. Even if it should be allowed that
the series has no first term, but has originated _ab œterno_, it must
always at each instant have a _last term_; the series, as a whole, can
not be infinite, and hence can not, as Kant claims it can, realize in
its wholeness unconditioned totality. Since countless terms forever
remain unreached, the series is forever limited by them. Kant himself
admits that it _can never be completed_, and is only potentially
infinite; actually, therefore, by his own admission, it is finite. But a
last term implies a first, as absolutely as one end of a string implies
the other; the only possibility of an unconditioned lies in Kant's first
alternative, and if, as he maintains Reason must demand it, she can not
hesitate in her decisions. That _number is a limitation_ is no new
truth, and that every series involves number is self-evident; and it is
surprising that so radical a criticism on Kant's system should never
have suggested itself to his opponents. Even the so-called _moments_ of
time can not be regarded as constituting a real series, for a series can
not be real except through its divisibility into members whereas time is
indivisible, and its partition into moments is a conventional fiction.
Exterior limitability and interior divisibility result equally from the
possibility of discontinuity. Exterior illimitability and interior
indivisibility are simple phases of the same attribute of _necessary
continuity_ contemplated under different aspects. From this principle
flows another upon which it is impossible to lay too much stress,
namely; _illimitability and indivisibility, infinity and unity,
reciprocally necessitate each other_. Hence the Quantitative Infinites
must be also Units, and the division of space and time, implying
absolute contradiction, is not even cogitable as an hypothesis.[220]

"The word _infinite_, therefore, in mathematical usage, as applied to
_process_ and to _quantity_, has a two-fold signification. An infinite
process is one which we can continue _as long as we please_, but which
exists solely in our continuance of it.[221] An infinite quantity is one
which exceeds our powers of mensuration or of conception, but which,
nevertheless, has bounds and limits in itself.[222] Hence the
possibility of relation among infinite quantities, and of different
orders of infinities. If the words _infinite, infinity, infinitesimal_,
should be banished from mathematical treatises and replaced by the words
_indefinite, indefinity,_ and _indefinitesimal_, mathematics would
suffer no loss, while, by removing a perpetual source of confusion,
metaphysics would get great gain."

[Footnote 220: By the application of these principles the writer in the
"North American Review" completely dissolves the antinomies by which
Hamilton seeks to sustain his "Philosophy of the Conditioned." See
"North American Review," 1864, pp. 432-437.]

[Footnote 221: De Morgan, "Diff. and Integ. Calc." p. 9.]

[Footnote 222: Id., ib., p. 25.]

The above must be regarded as a complete refutation of the position
taken by _Hume_, to wit, that the idea of nature eternally existing in a
state of order, without a cause other than the eternally inherent laws
of nature, is no more self-contradictory than the idea of an
eternally-existing and infinite mind, who originated this order--a God
existing without a cause. The eternal and infinite Mind is indivisible
and illimitable; nature, in its totality, as well as in its individual
parts, has interior divisibility, and exterior limitability. The
infinity of God is not a _quantitative_, but a _qualitative_ infinity.
The miscalled eternity and infinity of nature is an _indefinite_
extension and protension in time and space, and, as _quantitative_, must
necessarily be limited and measurable, therefore _finite_.

The universe of sense-perception and sensuous imagination is a
phenomenal universe, a genesis, a perpetual becoming, an entrance into
existence, and an exit thence; the Theist is, therefore, perfectly
justified in regarding it as disqualified for _self-existence_, and in
passing behind it for the Supreme Entity that needs no cause. Phenomena
demand causation, entities dispense with it. No one asks for a cause of
the _space_ which contains the universe, or of the Eternity on the bosom
of which it floats. Everywhere the line is necessarily drawn upon the
same principle; that entities _may_ have self-existence, phenomena
_must_ have a cause.[223]

[Footnote 223: "Science, Nescience, and Faith," in Martineau's "Essays,"
p. 206.]

IV. _Psychological analysis clearly attests that in the phenomena of
consciousness there are found elements or principles which, in their
regular and normal development, transcend the limits of consciousness,
and attain to the knowledge of Absolute Being, Absolute Reason, Absolute
Good_, i.e., GOD.

The analysis of thought clearly reveals that the mind of man is in
possession of ideas, notions, beliefs, principles (as _e.g._, the idea
of space, duration, cause, substance, unity, infinity), which are not
derived from sensation and experience, and which can not be drawn out of
sensation and experience by any process of generalization. These ideas
have this incontestable peculiarity, as distinguished from all the
phenomena of sensation, that, whilst the latter are particular,
contingent, and relative, the former are _universal_, _necessary_, and
_absolute_. As an example, and a proof of the reality and validity of
this distinction, take the ideas of _body_ and of _space_, the former
unquestionably derived from experience, the latter supplied by reason
alone. "I ask you, can not you conceive this book to be destroyed?
Without doubt you can. And can not you conceive the whole world to be
destroyed, and no matter whatever in existence? You can. For you,
constituted as you are, the supposition of the non-existence of bodies
implies no contradiction. And what do we call the idea of a thing which
we can conceive of as non-existing? We call it a _contingent_ and
_relative_ idea. But if you can conceive this book to be destroyed, all
bodies destroyed, can you suppose space to be destroyed? You can not. It
is in the power of man's thought to conceive the non-existence of
bodies; it is not in the power of man's thought to conceive the
non-existence of space. The idea of space is thus a _necessary_ and
_absolute_ idea."[224]

[Footnote 224: Cousin's "Hist. of Philos.," vol. ii. p. 214.]

Take, again, the ideas of _event_ and _cause_. The idea of an event is a
_contingent_ idea; it is the idea of something which might or might not
have happened. There is no impossibility or contradiction in either
supposition. The idea of cause is a _necessary_ idea. An event being
given, the idea of cause is necessarily implied. An uncaused event is an
impossible conception. The idea of cause is also a _universal_ idea
extending to all events, actual or conceivable, and affirmed by all
minds. It is a rational fact, attested by universal consciousness, that
we can not think of an event transpiring without a cause; of a thing
being the author of its own existence; of something generated by and out
of nothing. _Ex nihilo nihil_ is a universal law of thought and of
things. This universal "law of causality" is clearly distinguishable
from a _general_ truth reached by induction. For example, it is a very
general truth that, during twenty-four hours, day is succeeded by night.
But this is not a necessary truth, neither is it a universal truth. It
does not extend to all known lands, as, for example, to Nova Zembla. It
does not hold true of the other planets. Nor does it extend to all
possible lands. We can easily conceive of lands plunged in eternal
night, or rolling in eternal day. With another system of worlds, one can
conceive other physics, but one can not conceive other metaphysics. It
is impossible to imagine a world in which the law of causality does not
reign. Here, then, we have one absolute principle (among others which
may be enumerated), the existence and reality of which is revealed, not
by sensation, but by reason--a principle which transcends the limits of
experience, and which, in its regular and logical development, attains
the knowledge of the Absolute Cause--the First Cause of all causes--God.

Thus it is evident that the human mind is in possession of two distinct
orders of primitive cognitions,--one, contingent, relative, and
phenomenal; the other universal, necessary, and absolute. These two
distinct orders of cognition presuppose the existence in man of two
distinct faculties or organs of knowledge--_sensation_, external and
internal, which perceives the contingent, relative, and phenomenal, and
_reason_, which apprehends the universal, necessary, and absolute. The
knowledge which is derived from sensation and experience is called
_empirical_ knowledge, or knowledge _à posteriori_, because subsequent
to, and consequent upon, the exercise of the faculties of observation.
The knowledge derived from reason is called _transcendental_ knowledge,
or knowledge _à priori_, because it furnishes laws to, and governs the
exercise of the faculties of observation and thought, and is not the
result of their exercise. The sensibility brings the mind into relation
with the _physical_ world, the reason puts mind in communication with
the _intelligible_ world--the sphere of _à priori_ principles, of
necessary and absolute truths, which depend upon neither the world nor
the conscious self, and which reveal to man the existence of the soul,
nature, and God. Every distinct fact of consciousness is thus at once
_psychological_ and _ontological_, and contains these three fundamental
ideas, which we can not go beyond, or cancel by any possible
analysis--the _soul_, with its faculties; _matter_, with its qualities;
_God_, with his perfections.

We do not profess to be able to give a clear explication and complete
enumeration of all the ideas of reason, and of the necessary and
universal principles or axioms which are grounded on these ideas. This
is still the grand desideratum of metaphysical science. Its achievement
will give us a primordial logic, which shall be as exact in its
procedure and as certain in its conclusions as the mathematical
sciences. Meantime, it may be affirmed that philosophic analysis, in the
person of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Cousin, has succeeded in
disengaging such _à priori_ ideas, and formulating such principles and
laws of thought, as lead infallibly to the cognition of the _Absolute
Being_, the _Absolute Reason_, the _Absolute Good_, that is, GOD.

It would carry us too far beyond our present design were we to exhibit,
in each instance, the process of _immediate abstraction_ by which the
contingent and relative element of knowledge is eliminated, and the
necessary and absolute principle is disengaged. We shall simply state
the method, and show its application by a single illustration.

There are unquestionably _two_ sorts of abstraction: 1. "_Comparative_
abstraction, operating upon several real objects, and seizing their
resemblances in order to form an abstract idea, which is collective and
mediate; collective, because different individuals concur in its
formation; mediate, because it requires several intermediate
operations." This is the method of the physical sciences, which
comprises comparison, abstraction, and generalization. The result in
this process is the attainment of a _general_ truth. 2. "_Immediate_
abstraction, not comparative; operating not upon several concretes, but
upon a single one, eliminating and neglecting its individual and
variable part, and disengaging the absolute part, which it raises at
once to its pure form." The parts to be eliminated in a concrete
cognition are, first, the quality of the object, and the circumstances
under which the absolute unfolds itself; and secondly, the quality of
the subject, which perceives but does not constitute it. The phenomena
of the me and the not-me being eliminated, the absolute remains. This is
the process of rational psychology, and the result obtained is a
_universal_ and _necessary_ truth.

"Let us take, as an example, the principle of cause. To be able to say
that the event I see must have a cause, it is not indispensable to have
seen several events succeed each other. The principle which compels me
to pronounce this judgment is already complete in the first as in the
last event; it can not change in respect to its object, it can not
change in itself; it neither increases nor decreases with the greater or
less number of applications. The only difference that it is subject to
in regard to us is that we apply it, whether we remark it or not,
whether we disengage it or not from its particular application. The
question is not to eliminate the particularity of the phenomenon wherein
it appears to us, whether it be the fall of a leaf or the murder of a
man, in order immediately to conceive, in a general and abstract manner,
the necessity of a cause for every event that begins to exist. Here it
is not because I am the same, or have been affected in the same manner
in several different cases, that I have come to this general and
abstract conception. A leaf falls; at the same moment I think, I
believe, I declare that this falling of the leaf must have a cause. A
man has been killed; at the same instant I believe, I proclaim that this
death must have a cause. Each one of these facts contains particular and
variable circumstances, and something universal and necessary, to wit,
both of them can not but have a cause. Now I am perfectly able to
disengage the universal from the particular in regard to the first fact
as well as in regard to the second fact, for the universal is in the
first quite as well as in the second. In fact, if the principle of
causality is not universal in the first fact, neither will it be in the
second, nor in the third, nor in the thousandth; for a thousandth is not
nearer than the first to the infinite--to absolute universality. It is
the same, and still more evidently, with _necessity_. Pay particular
attention to this point; if necessity is not in the first fact, it can
not be in any; for necessity can not be formed little by little, and by
successive increments. If, on the first murder I see, I do not exclaim
that this murder had necessarily a cause, at the thousandth murder,
although it shall be proved that all the others had causes, I shall have
the right to think that this murder has, very probably, also a cause,
but I shall never have the right to say that it _necessarily_ had a
cause. But when universality and necessity are already in a single case,
that case is sufficient to entitle me to deduce them from it,"[225] and
we may add, also, to affirm them of every other event that may

[Footnote 225: Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," pp. 57, 58.]

The following _schema_ will exhibit the generally accepted results of
this method of analysis applied to the phenomena of thought:

(i.) _Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments from
whence is derived the cognition of Absolute Being_.

1. _The principle of Substance_; thus enounced--"every quality supposes
a _subject_ or real being."

2. _The principle of Causality_; "every thing that begins to be supposes
a _power_ adequate to its production, _i.e._, an efficient cause."

3. _The principle of Unity_; "all differentiation and plurality supposes
an incomposite unity; all diversity, an ultimate and indivisible

4. _The principle of the Unconditioned_; "the finite supposes the
infinite, the dependent supposes the self-existent, the temporal
supposes the eternal."

(ii.) _Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments, from
which is derived the cognition of the Absolute Reason_.

1. _The principle of Ideality_; thus enounced, "facts of order--definite
proportion, symmetrical arrangement, numerical relation, geometrical
form--having a commencement in time, present themselves to us as the
expression of _Ideas_, and refer us to _Mind_ as their analogon, and
exponent, and source."

2. _The principle of Consecution_; "the uniform succession and
progressive evolution of new existences, according to fixed definite
archetypes, suppose a unity of _thought_--a comprehensive _plan_
embracing all existence."

3. _The principle of Intentionality or Final Cause_; "every means
supposes an _end_ contemplated, and a choice and adaptation of means to
secure the _end_."

4. _The principle of Personality_; "intelligent purpose and voluntary
choice imply a personal agent."

(iii.) _Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments, from
whence is derived the cognition of the Absolute Good_.

1. _The principle of Moral Law_; thus enounced, "the action of a
voluntary agent necessarily characterized as _right_ or _wrong_,
supposes an immutable and universal standard of right--an absolute moral

2. _The principle of Moral Obligation_; "the feeling of obligation to
obey a law of duty supposes a _Lawgiver_ by whose authority we are

3. _The principle of Moral Desert_; "the feeling of personal
accountability and of moral desert supposes a _judge_ to whom we must
give account, and who shall determine our award."

4. _The pnnciple of Retribution_; "retributive issues in this life, and
the existence in all minds of an impersonal justice which demands that,
in the final issue, every being shall receive his just deserts, suppose
a being of _absolute justice_ who shall render to every man according to
his works."

A more profound and exhaustive analysis may perhaps resolve all these
primitive judgments into one universal principle or law, which Leibnitz
has designated "_The principle or law of sufficient reason_," and which
is thus enounced--there must be an ultimate and sufficient reason why
any thing exists, and why it is, rather than otherwise; that is, if any
thing begins to be, something else must be supposed as the adequate
ground, and reason, and cause of its existence; or again, to state the
law in view of our present discussion, "_if the finite universe, with
its existing order and arrangement, had a beginning, there must be an
ultimate and sufficient reason why it exists, and why it is as it is,
rather than otherwise_." In view of one particular class of phenomena,
or special order of facts, this "principle of sufficient reason" may be
varied in the form of its statement, and denominated "the principle of
substance," "the principle of causality," "the principle of
intentionality," etc.; and, it may be, these are but specific judgments
under the one fundamental and generic law of thought which constitutes
the _major_ premise of every Theistic syllogism.

These fundamental principles, primitive judgments, axioms, or necessary
and determinate forms of thought, exist potentially or germinally in all
human minds; they are spontaneously developed in presence of the
phenomena of the universe, material and mental; they govern the original
movement of the mind, even when not appearing in consciousness in their
pure and abstract form; and they compel us to affirm _a permanent being_
or _reality_ behind all phenomena--a _power_ adequate to the production
of change, back of all events; a _personal Mind_, as the explanation of
all the facts of order, and uniform succession, and regular evolution;
and a _personal Lawgiver_ and _Righteous Judge_ as the ultimate ground
and reason of all the phenomena of the moral world; in short, to affirm
_an Unconditioned Cause of all finite and secondary causes; a First
Principle of all principles; an Ultimate Reason of all reasons; an
immutable Uncreated Justice, the living light of conscience; a King
immortal, eternal, invisible, the only wise God, the ruler of the world
and man_.

Our position, then, is, that the idea of God is revealed to man in the
natural and spontaneous development of his intelligence, and that the
existence of a Supreme Reality corresponding to, and represented by this
idea, is rationally and logically demonstrable, and therefore justly
entitled to take rank as part of our legitimate, valid, and positive

And now from this position, which we regard as impregnable, we shall be
prepared more deliberately and intelligibly to contemplate the various
assaults which are openly or covertly made upon the doctrine that _God
is cognizable by human reason_.


THE UNKNOWN GOD (_continued_).


"The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the
confession of despair."--LIGHTFOOT.

At the outset of this inquiry we attempted a hasty grouping of the
various parties and schools which are arrayed against the doctrine that
God is cognizable by human reason, and in general terms we sought to
indicate the ground they occupy.

Viewed from a philosophical stand-point, we found one party marshalled
under the standard of Idealism; another of Materialism and, again,
another of Natural Realism. Regarded in their theological aspects, some
are positive Atheists; others, strange to say, are earnest Theists;
whilst others occupy a position of mere Indifferentism. Yet,
notwithstanding the remarkable diversity, and even antagonism of their
philosophical and theological opinions, they are all agreed in denying
to reason any valid cognition of God.

The survey of Natural Theism we have completed in the previous chapter
will enable us still further to indicate the exact points against which
their attacks are directed, and also to estimate the character and force
of the weapons employed. With or without design, they are, each in their
way, assailing one or other of the principles upon which we rest our
demonstration of the being of God. As we proceed, we shall find that
Mill and the Constructive Idealists are really engaged in undermining
"the _principle of substance_;" their doctrine is a virtual denial of
all objective realities answering to our subjective ideas of matter,
mind, and God. The assaults of Comte and the Materialists of his school
are mainly directed against "_the principle of causality_" and "_the
principle of intentionality_;" they would deny to man all knowledge of
causes, efficient and final. The attacks of Hamilton and his school are
directed against "the _principle of the unconditioned_," his philosophy
of the conditioned is a plausible attempt to deprive man of all power to
think the Infinite and Perfect, to conceive the Unconditioned and
Ultimate Cause; whilst the Dogmatic Theologians are borrowing, and
recklessly brandishing, the weapons of all these antagonists, and, in
addition to all this, are endeavoring to show the insufficiency of "_the
principle of unity_" and the weakness and invalidity of "the _moral
principles_," which are regarded by us as relating man to a Moral
Personality, and as indicating to him the existence of a righteous God,
the ruler of the world. It is necessary, therefore, that we should
concentrate our attention yet more specifically on these separate lines
of attack, and attempt a minuter examination of the positions assumed by
each, and of the arguments by which they are seeking, directly or
indirectly, to invalidate the fundamental principles of Natural Theism.

(i.) _We commence with the Idealistic School_, of which John Stuart Mill
must be regarded as the ablest living representative.

The doctrine of this school is that all our knowledge is necessarily
confined to _mental_ phenomena; that is, "to _feelings_ or states of
consciousness," and "the succession and co-existence, the likeness and
unlikeness between these feelings or states of consciousness."[226] All
our general notions, all our abstract ideas, are generated out of these
feelings[227] by "_inseparable association_," which registers their
inter-relations of recurrence, co-existence, and resemblance. The
results of this inseparable association constitute at once the sum total
and the absolute limit of all possible cognition.

[Footnote 226: J. S. Mill, "Logic," vol. i. p. 83 (English edition).]

[Footnote 227: In the language of Mill, every thing of which we are
conscious is called "feeling." "Feeling, in the proper sense of the
term, is a genus of which Sensation, Emotion, and Thought are the
subordinate species."--"Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 3.]

It is admitted by Mill that one _apparent_ element in this total result
is the general conviction that our own existence is really distinct from
the external world, and that the personal _ego_ has an essential
identity distinct from the fleeting phenomena of sensation. But this
persuasion is treated by him as a mere illusion--a leap beyond the
original datum for which we have no authority. Of a real substance or
substratum called Mind, of a real substance or substratum called Matter,
underlying the series of feelings--"the thread of consciousness"--we do
know and can know nothing; and in affirming the existence of such
substrata we are making a supposition we can not possibly verify. The
ultimate datum of speculative philosophy is not "_I think_," but simply
"_Thoughts or feelings are_." The belief in a permanent subject or
substance, called matter, as the ground and plexus of physical
phenomena, and of a permanent subject or substance, called mind, as the
ground and plexus of mental phenomena, is not a primitive and original
intuition οf reason. It is simply through the action of the principle of
association among the ultimate phenomena, called feelings, that this
(erroneous) separation of the phenomena into two orders or
aggregates--one called mind or self; the other matter, or not
self--takes place; and without this curdling or associating process no
such notion or belief could have been generated. "The principle of
substance," as an ultimate law of thought, is, therefore, to be regarded
as a transcendental dream.

But now that the notion of _mind_ or _self_, and of _matter_ or not
_self_, do exist as common convictions of our race, what is philosophy
to make of them? After a great many qualifications and explanations, Mr.
Mill has, in his "Logic," summed up his doctrine of Constructive
Idealism in the following words: "As body is the mysterious _something_
which excites the mind to feel, so mind is the mysterious _something_
which feels and thinks."[228] But what is this "mysterious something?"
Is it a reality, an entity, a subject; or is it a shadow, an illusion, a
dream? In his "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," where it
may be presumed, we have his maturest opinions, Mr. Mill, in still more
abstract and idealistic phraseology, attempts an answer. Here he defines
matter as "_a permanent possibility of sensation_,"[229] and mind as "_a
permanent possibility of feeling_."[230] And "the belief in these
permanent possibilities," he assures us, "includes all that is essential
or characteristic in the belief in substance."[231] "If I am asked,"
says he, "whether I believe in matter, I ask whether the questioner
accepts this definition of it. If he does, I believe in matter: and so
do all Berkeleians. In any other sense than this, I do not. But I affirm
with confidence that this conception of matter includes the whole
meaning attached to it by the common world, apart from philosophical,
and sometimes from theological theories. The reliance of mankind on the
real existence of visible and tangible objects, means reliance on the
reality and permanence of possibilities of visual and tactual
sensations, when no sensations are actually experienced."[232]
"Sensations," however, let it be borne in mind, are but a subordinate
species of the genus feeling.[233] They are "states of
consciousness"--phenomena of mind, not of matter; and we are still
within the impassable boundary of ideal phenomena; we have yet no
cognition of an external world. The sole cosmical conception, for us, is
still a succession of sensations, or states of consciousness. This is
the one phenomenon which we can not transcend in knowledge, do what we
will; all else is hypothesis and illusion. The _non-ego_, after all,
then, may be but a mode in which the mind represents to itself the
possible modifications of the _ego_.

[Footnote 228: "Logic," bk. i, ch. iii. § 8.]

[Footnote 229: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 243.]

[Footnote 230: Ibid., vol. i. p. 253.]

[Footnote 231: Ibid., vol. i. p. 246.]

[Footnote 232: Ibid., vol. i. pp. 243, 244.]

[Footnote 233: "Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 3.]

And now that matter, as a real existence, has disappeared under Mr.
Mill's analysis, what shall be said of mind or self? Is there any
permanent subject or real entity underlying the phenomena of feeling? In
feeling, is there a personal self that feels, thinks, and wills? It
would seem not. Mind, as well as matter, resolves itself into a "series
of feelings," varying and fugitive from moment to moment, in a sea of
possibilities of feeling. "My mind," says Mill, "is but a series of
feelings, or, as it has been called, a thread of consciousness, however
supplemented by believed possibilities of consciousness, which are not,
though they might be, realized."[234]

[Footnote 234: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 254.]

The ultimate fact of the phenomenal world, then, in the philosophy of
Mill, is neither matter nor mind, but feelings or states of
consciousness associated together by the relations, amongst themselves,
of recurrence, co-existence, and resemblance. The existence of self,
except as "a series of feelings;" the existence of any thing other than
self, except as a feigned unknown cause of sensation, is rigorously
denied. Mr. Mill does not content himself with saying that we are
ignorant of the _nature_ of matter and mind, but he asserts we are
ignorant of the _existence_ of matter and mind as real entities.

The bearing of this doctrine of Idealism upon Theism and Theology will
be instantly apparent to the reader. If I am necessarily ignorant of the
existence of the external world, and of the personal _ego_, or real
self, I must be equally ignorant of the existence of God. If one is a
mere supposition, an illusion, so the other must be. Mr. Mill, however,
is one of those courteous and affable writers who are always conscious,
as it were, of the presence of their readers, and extremely careful not
to shock their feelings or prejudices; besides, he has too much
conscious self-respect to avow himself an atheist. As a speculative
philosopher, he would rather regard Theism and Theology as "open
questions," and he satisfies himself with saying, if you believe in the
existence of God, or in Christianity, I do not interfere with you. "As a
theory," he tells us that his doctrine leaves the evidence of the
existence of God exactly as it was before. Supposing me to believe that
the Divine mind is simply the series of the Divine thoughts and feelings
prolonged through eternity, that would be, at any rate, believing God's
existence to be _as real as my own_[235]. And as for evidence, the
argument of Paley's 'Natural Theology,' or, for that matter, of his
'Evidences of Christianity,' would stand exactly as it does.

The design argument is drawn from the analogies of human experience.
From the relation which human works bear to human thoughts and feelings,
it infers a corresponding relation between works more or less similar,
but superhuman, and superhuman thoughts and feelings. _If_ it prove
these, nobody but a metaphysician needs care whether or not it proves a
mysterious _substratum_ for them.[236] The argument from design, it
seems to us, however, would have no validity if there be no external
world offering marks of design. If the external world is only a mode of
feeling, a series of mental states, then our notion of the Divine
Existence may be only "an association of feelings"--a mode of Self. And
if we have no positive knowledge of a real self as existing, and God's
existence is no more "real than our own," then the Divine existence
stands on a very dubious and uncertain foundation. It can have no very
secure hold upon the human mind, and certainly has no claim to be
regarded as a fundamental and necessary belief. That it has a very
precarious hold upon the mind of Mr. Mill, is evident from the following
passage in his article on "_Later Speculations of A. Comte_."[237] "We
venture to think that a religion may exist without a belief in a God,
and that a religion without a God may be, even to Christians, an
instructive and profitable object of contemplation."

And now let us close Mr. Mill's book, and, introverting our mental gaze,
interrogate _consciousness_, the verdict of which, even Mr. Mill assures
us, is admitted on all hands to be a decision without appeal.[238]

[Footnote 235: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 254.]

[Footnote 236: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 259.]

[Footnote 237: Westminster Review, July, 1835 (American edition), p. 3.]

[Footnote 238: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 161.]

1. We have an ineradicable, and, as it would seem, an intuitive faith in
the real existence of an external world distinct from our sensations,
and also of a personal self, which we call "I," "myself," as distinct
from "my sensations," and "my feelings." We find, also, that this is
confessedly the common belief of mankind. There have been a few
philosophers who have affected to treat this belief as a "mere
prejudice," an "illusion;" but they have never been able, practically,
so to regard and treat it. Their language, just as plainly as the
language of the common people, betrays their instinctive faith in an
outer world, and proves their utter inability to emancipate themselves
from this "prejudice," if such it may please them to call it. In view of
this acknowledged fact, we ask--Does the term "_permanent possibility of
sensations_" exhaust all that is contained in this conception of an
external world? This evening I _remember_ that at noonday I beheld the
sun, and experienced a sensation of warmth whilst exposing myself to his
rays; and I _expect_ that to-morrow, under the same conditions, I shall
experience the same sensations. I now _remember_ that last evening I
extinguished my light and attempted to leave my study, but, coming in
contact with the closed door, experienced a sense of resistance to my
muscular effort, by a solid and extended body exterior to myself; and I
_expect_ that this evening, under the same circumstances, I shall
experience the same sensations. Now, does a belief in "a permanent
possibility of sensations" explain all these experiences? does it
account for that immediate knowledge of an _external_ object which I had
on looking at the sun, or that presentative knowledge of _resistance_
and _extension_, and of an extended, resisting _substance_, I had when
in contact with the door of my study? Mr. Mill very confidently affirms
that this belief includes all; and this phrase expresses all the meaning
attached to extended "matter" and resisting "substance" by the common
world.[239] We as confidently affirm that it does no such thing; and as
"the common world" must be supposed to understand the language of
consciousness as well as the philosopher, we are perfectly willing to
leave the decision of that question to the common consciousness of our
race. If all men do not believe in a permanent _reality_--a substance
which is external to themselves, a substance which offers resistance to
their muscular effort, and which produces in them the sensations of
solidity, extension, resistance, etc.--they believe nothing and know
nothing at all about the matter.

[Footnote 239: "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 243.]

Still less does the phrase "_a permanent possibility of feelings"_
exhaust all our conception of a personal self. Recurring to the
experiences of yesterday, I _remember_ the feelings I experienced on
beholding the sun, and also on pressing against the closed door, and I
confidently _expect_ the recurrence, under the same circumstances, of
the same feelings. Does the belief in "a permanent possibility of
feelings" explain the act of memory by which I recall the past event,
and the act of prevision by which I anticipate the recurrence of the
like experience in the future? Who or what is the "I" that remembers and
the "I" that anticipates? The "ego," the personal mind, is, according to
Mill, a mere "series of feelings," or, more correctly, a flash of
"_present_ feelings" on "a background of possibilities of present
feelings."[240] If, then, there be no permanent substance or reality
which is the subject of the present feeling, which receives and retains
the impress of the past feeling, and which anticipates the recurrence of
like feelings in the future, how can the _past_ be recalled, how
distinguished from the present? and how, without a knowledge of the past
as distinguished from the present, can the _future_ be forecast? Mr.
Mill feels the pressure of this difficulty, and frankly acknowledges it.
He admits that, on the hypothesis that mind is simply "a series of
feelings," the phenomena of memory and expectation are "inexplicable"
and "incomprehensible."[241] He is, therefore, under the necessity of
completing his definition of mind by adding that it is a series of
feelings which "_is aware of itself as a series_;" and, still further,
of supplementing this definition by the conjecture that "_something
which has ceased to exist, or is not yet in existence, can still, in a
manner, be present_."[242] Now he who can understand how a series of
feelings can flow on in time, and from moment to moment drop out of the
present into non-existence, and yet be _present_ and _conscious of
itself as a series_, may be accorded the honor of understanding Mr.
Mill's definition of mind or self, and may be permitted to rank himself
as a distinguished disciple of the Idealist school; for ourselves, we
acknowledge we are destitute of the capacity to do the one, and of all
ambition to be the other. And he who can conceive how the _past_ feeling
of yesterday and the _possible_ feeling of to-morrow can be in any
manner _present_ to-day; or, in other words, how any thing which has
ceased to exist, or which never had an existence, can _now_ exist, may
be permitted to believe that a thing can be and not be at the same
moment, that a part is greater than the whole, and that two and two make
five; but we are not ashamed to confess our inability to believe a
contradiction. To our understanding, "possibilities of feeling" are not
actualities. They may or may not be realized, and until realized in
consciousness, they have no real being. If there be no other background
of mental phenomena save mere "possibilities of feeling," then present
feelings are the only existences, the only reality, and a loss of
immediate consciousness, as in narcosis and coma, is the loss of all
personality, all self-hood, and of all real being.

[Footnote 240: "Exam. of Hamilton," vol. i. p. 260.]

[Footnote 241: Ibid, p. 262.]

[Footnote 242: Ibid.]

2. What, then, is the verdict of consciousness as to the existence of a
permanent substance, an abiding existence which is the subject of all
the varying phenomena? Of what are we really conscious when we say "I
think," "I feel," "I will?" Are we simply conscious of thought, feeling,
and volition, or of a self, a person, which thinks, feels, and wills?
The man who honestly and unreservedly accepts the testimony of
consciousness in all its integrity must answer at once, _we have an
immediate consciousness, not merely of the phenomena of mind, but of a
personal self as passively or actively related to the phenomena_. We are
conscious not merely of the act of volition, but of a self, a power,
producing the volition. We are conscious not merely of feeling, but of a
being who is the subject of the feeling. We are conscious not simply of
thought, but of a real entity that thinks. "It is clearly a flat
contradiction to maintain that I am not immediately conscious of myself,
but only of my sensations or volitions. Who, then, is that _I_ that is
conscious, and how can I be conscious of such states as _mine?_"[243]

[Footnote 243: Mansel, "Prolegomena Logica," p. 122, and note E, p.

The testimony of consciousness, then, is indubitable that we have a
direct, immediate cognition of _self_--I know myself as a distinctly
existing being. This permanent self, to which I refer the earlier and
later stages of consciousness, the past as well as the present feeling,
and which I know abides the same under all phenomenal changes,
constitutes my personal identity. It is this abiding self which unites
the past and the present, and, from the present stretches onward to the
future. We know self immediately, as existing, as in active operation,
and as having permanence--or, in other words, as a "_substance_." This
one immediately presented substance, myself, may be regarded as
furnishing a positive basis for that other notion of substance, which is
representatively thought, as the subject of all sensible qualities.

3. We may now inquire what is the testimony of consciousness as to the
existence of the extra-mental world? Are we conscious of perceiving
external objects immediately and in themselves, or only mediately
through some vicarious image or representative idea to which we
fictitiously ascribe an objective reality?

The answer of common sense is that we are immediately conscious, in
perception, of an _ego_ and a _non-ego_ known together, and known in
contrast to each other; we are conscious of a perceiving subject, and of
an external reality, as the object perceived.[244] To state this
doctrine of natural realism still more explicitly we add, that we are
conscious of the immediate perception of certain essential attributes of
matter objectively existing. Of these primary qualities, which are
immediately perceived as real and objectively existing, we mention
_extension_ in space and _resistance_ to muscular effort, with which is
indissolubly associated the idea of _externality_. It is true that
extension and resistance are only qualities, but it is equally true that
they are qualities of something, and of something which is external to
ourselves. Let any one attempt to conceive of extension without
something which is extended, or of resistance apart from something which
offers resistance, and he will be convinced that we can never know
qualities without knowing substance, just as we can not know substance
without knowing qualities. This, indeed, is admitted by Mr. Mill.[245]
And if this be admitted, it must certainly be absurd to speak of
substance as something "unknown." Substance is known just as much as
quality is known, no less and no more.

[Footnote 244: Hamilton, "Lectures," vol. 1. p. 288.]

[Footnote 245: "Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 6.]

We remark, in conclusion, that if the testimony of consciousness is not
accepted in all its integrity, we are necessarily involved in the
Nihilism of Hume and Fichte; the phenomena of mind and matter are, on
analysis, resolved into an absolute nothingness--"a play of phantasms in
a void."[246]

(ii.) We turn, secondly, to the _Materialistic School_ as represented by
Aug. Comte.

The doctrine of this school is that all knowledge is limited to
_material_ phenomena--that is, to appearances _perceptible to sense_. We
do not know the essence of any object, nor the real mode of procedure of
any event, but simply its relations to other events, as similar or
dissimilar, co-existent or successive. These relations are constant;
under the same conditions, they are always the same. The constant
resemblances which link phenomena together, and the constant sequences
which unite them, as antecedent and consequent, are termed _laws_. The
laws of phenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential
nature and their ultimate causes, _efficient_ or _final_, are unknown
and inscrutable to us.[247]

[Footnote 246: Masson, "Recent British Philos.," p. 62.]

[Footnote 247: See art. "Positive Philos. of A. Comte," _Westminster
Review_, April, 1865, p. 162, Am. ed.]

It is not our intention to review the system of philosophy propounded by
Aug. Comte; we are now chiefly concerned with his denial of all

1. _As to Efficient Causes_.--Had Comte contented himself with the
assertion that causes lie beyond the field of sensible observation, and
that inductive science can not carry us beyond the relations of
co-existence and succession among phenomena, he would have stated an
important truth, but certainly not a new truth. It had already been
announced by distinguished mental philosophers, as, for example, M. de
Biran and Victor Cousin.[248] The senses give us only the succession of
one phenomenon to another. I hold a piece of wax to the fire and it
melts. Here my senses inform me of two successive phenomena--the
proximity of fire and the melting of wax. It is now agreed among all
schools of philosophy that this is all the knowledge the senses can
possibly supply. The observation of a great number of like cases assures
us that this relation is uniform. The highest scientific generalization
does not carry us one step beyond this fact. Induction, therefore, gives
us no access to causes beyond phenomena. Still, this does not justify
Comte in the assertion that causes are to us absolutely _unknown_. The
question would still arise whether we have not some faculty of
knowledge, distinct from sensation, which is adequate to furnish a valid
cognition of cause. It does not by any means follow that, because the
idea of causation is not given as a "physical quæsitum" at the end of a
process of scientific generalization, it should not be a "metaphysical
datum" posited at the very beginning of scientific inquiry, as the
indispensable condition of our being able to cognize phenomena at all,
and as the law under which all thought, and all conception of the system
of nature, is alone possible.

[Footnote 248: "It is now universally admitted that we have no
perception of the causal nexus in the material world."--Hamilton,
"Discussions," p. 522.]

Now we affirm that the human mind has just as direct, immediate, and
positive knowledge of _cause_ as it has of _effect._ The idea of cause,
the intuition _power_, is given in the immediate consciousness of _mind
as determining its own_ operations. Our first, and, in fact, our only
presentation of power or cause, is that of _self as willing_. In every
act of volition I am fully conscious that it is in my power to form a
resolution or to refrain from it, to determine on this course of action
or that; and this constitutes the immediate presentative knowledge of
power.[249] The will is a power, a power in action, a productive power,
and, consequently, a cause. This doctrine is stated with remarkable
clearness and accuracy by Cousin: "If we seek the notion of cause in the
action of one ball upon another, as was previously done by Hume, or in
the action of the hand upon the ball, or the primary muscles upon the
extremities, or even in the action of the will upon the muscles, as was
done by M. Maine de Biran, we shall find it in none of these cases, not
even in the last; for it is possible there should be a paralysis of the
muscles which deprives the will of power over them, makes it
unproductive, incapable of being a cause, and, consequently, of
suggesting the notion of one. But what no paralysis can prevent is the
action of the will upon itself, the production of a resolution; that is
to say, the act of causation entirely mental, the primitive type of all
causality, of which all external movements are only symbols more or less
imperfect. The first cause for us, is, therefore, the _will_, of which
the first effect is volition. This is at once the highest and the purest
source of the notion of cause, which thus becomes identical with that of
personality. And it is the taking possession, so to speak, of the cause,
as revealed in will and personality, which is the condition for us of
the ulterior or simultaneous conception of external, impersonal

[Footnote 249: "It is our _immediate consciousness of effort_, when we
exert force to put matter in motion, or to oppose and neutralize force,
which gives us this internal conviction of _power_ and _causation_, so
far as it refers to the material world, and compels us to believe that
whenever we see material objects put in motion from a state of rest, or
deflected from their rectilinear paths and changed in their velocities
if already in motion, it is in consequence of such an _effort_ somehow
exerted."--Herschel's "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 234; see Mansel's
"Prolegomena," p. 133.]

[Footnote 250: "Philosophical Fragments," Preface to first edition.]

Thus much for the origin of the idea of cause. We have the same direct
intuitive knowledge of cause that we have of effect; but we have not yet
rendered a full and adequate account of the _principle of causality_. We
have simply attained the notion of our personal causality, and we can
not arbitrarily substitute our personal causality for all the causes of
the universe, and erect our own experience as a law of the entire
universe. We have, however, already seen (Chap. V.) that the belief in
exterior causation is _necessary_ and _universal_. When a change takes
place, when a new phenomenon presents itself to our senses, we can not
avoid the conviction that it must have a cause. We can not even express
in language the relations of phenomena in time and space, without
speaking of causes. And there is not a rational being on the face of the
globe--a child, a savage, or a philosopher--who does not instinctively
and spontaneously affirm that every movement, every change, every new
existence, _must_ have a cause. Now what account can philosophy render
of this universal belief? One answer, and only one, is possible. The
_reason_ of man (that power of which Comte takes no account) is in fixed
and changeless relation to the principle of causation, just as _sense_
is in fixed and changeless relation to exterior phenomena, so that we
can not know the external world, can not think or speak of phenomenal
existence, except as _effects_. In the expressive and forcible language
of Jas. Martineau: "By an irresistible law of thought _all phenomena
present themselves to us as the expression of power_, and refer us to a
causal ground whence they issue. This dynamic source we neither see, nor
hear, nor feel; it is given in _thought_, supplied by the spontaneous
activity of mind as the correlative prefix to the phenomena
observed."[251] Unless, then, we are prepared to deny the validity of
all our rational intuitions, we can not avoid accepting "this subjective
postulate as a valid law for objective nature." If the intuitions of our
reason are pronounced deceptive and mendacious, so also must the
intuitions of the senses be pronounced illusory and false. Our whole
intellectual constitution is built up on false and erroneous principles,
and all knowledge of whatever kind must perish by "the contagion of

[Footnote 251: "Essays," p. 47.]

Comte, however, is determined to treat the idea of causation as an
illusion, whether under its psychological form, as _will_, or under its
scientific form, as _force_. He feels that Theology is inevitable if we
permit the inquiry into causes;[252] and he is more anxious that
theology should perish than that truth should prevail. The human will
must, therefore, be robbed of all semblance of freedom, lest it should
suggest the idea of a Supreme Will governing nature; and human action,
like all other phenomena, must be reduced to uniform and necessary law.
All feelings, ideas, and principles guaranteed to us by consciousness
are to be cast out of the account. Psychology, resting on
self-observation, is pronounced a delusion. The immediate consciousness
of freedom is a dream. Such a procedure, to say the least of it, is
highly unphilosophical; to say the truth about it, it is obviously
dishonest. Every fact of human nature, just as much as every fact of
physical nature, must be accepted in all its integrity, or all must be
alike rejected. The phenomena of mind can no more be disregarded than
the phenomena of matter. Rational intuitions, necessary and universal
beliefs, can no more be ignored than the uniform facts of
sense-perception, without rendering a system of knowledge necessarily
incomplete, and a system of truth utterly impossible. Every one truth is
connected with every other truth in the universe. And yet Comte demands
that a large class of facts, the most immediate and direct of all our
cognitions, shall be rejected because they are not in harmony with the
fundamental assumption of the positive philosophy that all knowledge is
confined to _phenomena perceptible to sense_. Now it were just as easy
to cast the Alps into the Mediterranean as to obliterate from the human
intelligence the primary cognitions of immediate consciousness, or to
relegate the human reason from the necessary laws of thought. Comte
himself can not emancipate his own mind from a belief in the validity of
the testimony of consciousness. How can he know himself as distinct from
nature, as a living person, as the same being he was ten years ago, or
even yesterday, except by an appeal to consciousness? Despite his
earnestly-avowed opinions as to the inutility and fallaciousness of all
psychological inquiries, he is compelled to admit that "the phenomena of
life" are "_known by immediate consciousness_."[253] Now the knowledge
of our personal freedom rests on precisely the same grounds as the
knowledge of our personal existence. The same "immediate consciousness"
which attests that I exist, attests also, with equal distinctness and
directness, that I am self-determined and free.

[Footnote 252: "The _inevitable tendency_ of our intelligence is towards
a philosophy radically theological, so often as we seek to penetrate, on
whatever pretext, into the intimate nature of phenomena" (vol. iv. p.

[Footnote 253: "Positive Philos," vol. ii. p. 648.]

In common with most atheistical writers, Comte is involved in the fatal
contradiction of at one time assuming, and at another of denying the
freedom of the will, to serve the exigencies of his theory. To prove
that the order of the universe can not be the product of a Supreme
Intelligence, he assumes that the products of mind must be characterized
by freedom and variety--the phenomena of mind must not be subject to
uniform and necessary laws; and inasmuch as the phenomena presented by
external nature are subject to uniform and changeless laws, they can not
be the product of mind. "Look at the whole frame of things," says he;
"how can it be the product of mind--of a supernatural Will? Is it not
subject to regular laws, and do we not actually obtain _prevision_ of
its phenomena? If it were the product of mind, its order would be
variable and free." Here, then, it is admitted that _freedom is an
essential characteristic of mind_. And this admission is no doubt a
thoughtless, unconscious betrayal of the innate belief of all minds in
the freedom of the will. But when Comte comes to deal with this freedom
as an objective question of philosophy, when he directs his attention to
the only will of which we have a direct and immediate knowledge, he
denies freedom and variety, and asserts in the most arbitrary manner
that the movements of the mind, like all the phenomena of nature, must
be subject to uniform, changeless, and necessary laws. And if we have
not yet been able to reduce the movements of mind, like the movements of
the planets, to statistics, and have not already obtained accurate
prevision of its successions or sequences as we have of physical
phenomena, it is simply the consequence of our inattention to, or
ignorance of, all the facts. We answer, there are no facts so directly
and intuitively known as the facts of consciousness; and, therefore, an
argument based upon our supposed ignorance of these facts is not likely
to have much weight against our immediate consciousness of personal
freedom. There is not any thing we know so immediately, so certainly, so
positively, as this fact--_we are free_.

The word "force," representing as it does a subtile menial conception,
and not a phenomenon of sense, must also be banished from the domains of
Positive Science as an intruder, lest its presence should lend any
countenance to the idea of causation. "Forces in mechanics are only
_movements_, produced, or tending to be produced." In order to "cancel
altogether the old metaphysical notion of force," another form of
expression is demanded. It is claimed that all we do know or can
possibly know is the successions of phenomena in time. What, then, is
the term which henceforth, in our dynamics, shall take the place of
"force?" Is it "Time-succession?" Then let any one attempt to express
the various forms and intensities of movement and change presented to
the senses (as _e.g._, the phenomena of heat, electricity, galvanism,
magnetism, muscular and nervous action, etc.) in terms of
Time-succession, and he will at once become conscious of the utter
hopelessness of physics, without the hyperphysical idea of force, to
render itself intelligible.[254] What account can be rendered of
planetary motion if the terms "centrifugal force" and "centripetal
force" are abandoned? "From the two great conditions of every Newtonian
solution, viz., projectile impulse and centripetal tendency, eject the
idea of _force_, and what remains? The entire conception is simply made
up of this, and has not the faintest existence without it. It is useless
to give it notice to quit, and pretend that it is gone when you have
only put a new name upon the door. We must not call it 'attraction,'
lest there should seem to be a _power_ within; we are to speak of it
only as 'gravitation,' because that is only 'weight,' which is nothing
but a 'fact,' as if it were not a fact that holds a power, a true
dynamic affair, which no imagination can chop into incoherent
successions.[255] Nor is the evasion more successful when we try the
phrase, 'tendency of bodies to mutual approach.' The approach itself may
be called a phenomenon; but the 'tendency' is no phenomenon, and can not
be attributed by us to the bodies without regarding them as the
residence of force. And what are we to say of the _projectile impulse_
in the case of the planets? Is that also a phenomenon? Who witnessed and
reported it? Is it not evident that the whole scheme of physical
astronomy is a resolution of observed facts into dynamic equivalents,
and that the hypothesis posits for its calculations not phenomena, but
proper forces? Its logic is this: _If_ an impulse of certain intensity
were given, and _if_ such and such mutual attractions were constantly
present, then the sort of motions which we observe in the bodies of our
system _would follow_. So, however, they also would _if_ willed by an
Omnipotent Intelligence."[256] It is thus clearly evident that human
science is unable to offer any explanation of the existing order of the
universe except in terms expressive of Power or Force; that, in fact,
all explanations are utterly unintelligible without the idea of
causation. The language of universal rational intuition is, "all
phenomena are the expression of power;" the language of science is,
"every law implies a force."

[Footnote 254: See Grote's "Essay on Correlation of Physical Forces,"
pp. 18-20; and Martineau's "Essays," p. 135.]

[Footnote 255: "Gravity is a real _power_ of whose agency we have daily
experience."--Herschel, "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 236.]

[Footnote 256: Martineau's "Essays," p. 56.]

It is furthermore worthy of being noted that, in the modern doctrine of
the Correlation and Conservation of Forces, science is inevitably
approaching the idea that all kinds of force are but forms or
manifestations of some _one_ central force issuing from some _one_
fountain-head of power. Dr. Carpenter, perhaps the greatest living
physiologist, teaches that "the form of force _which may be taken as the
type of all the rest_" is the consciousness of living effort in
volition.[257] All force, then, is of one type, and that type is mind;
in its last analysis external causation may be resolved into Divine
energy. Sir John Herschel does not hesitate to say that "it is
reasonable to regard the force of gravitation as the direct or indirect
result of a consciousness or will exerted somewhere."[258] The humble
Christian may, therefore, feel himself amply justified in still
believing that "power belongs to God;" that it is through the Divine
energy "all things are, and are upheld;" and that "in God we live, and
move, and have our being;" he is the Great First Cause, the
Fountain-head of all power.

[Footnote 257: "Human Physiology," p. 542.]

[Footnote 258: "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 234.]

2. _As to Final Causes_--that is, reasons, purposes, or ends _for_ which
things exist--these, we are told by Comte, are all "disproved" by
Positive Science, which rigidly limits us to "the history of _what is_,"
and forbids all inquiry into reasons _why it is_. The question whether
there be any intelligent purpose in the order and arrangement of the
universe, is not a subject of scientific inquiry at all; and whenever it
has been permitted to obtrude itself, it has thrown a false light over
the facts, and led the inquirer astray.

The discoveries of modern astronomy are specially instanced by Comte as
completely overthrowing the notion of any conscious design or
intelligent purpose in the universe. The order and stability of the
solar system are found to be the _necessary_ consequences of
gravitation, and are adequately explained without any reference to
purposes or ends to be fulfilled in the disposition and arrangement of
the heavenly bodies. "With persons unused to the study of the celestial
bodies, though very likely informed on other parts of natural
philosophy, astronomy has still the reputation of being a science
eminently religious, as if the famous words, 'The heavens declare the
glory of God, had lost none of their truth... No science has given more
terrible shocks to the doctrine of _final causes_ than astronomy.[259]
The simple knowledge of the movement of the earth must have destroyed
the original and real foundation of this doctrine--the idea of the
universe subordinated to the earth, and consequently to man. Besides,
the accurate exploration of the solar system could not fail to dispel
that blind and unlimited admiration which the general order of nature
inspires, by showing in the most sensible manner, and in a great number
of different respects, that the orbs were certainly not disposed in the
most advantageous manner, and that science permits us easily to conceive
a better arrangement, by the development of true celestial mechanism,
since Newton. All the theological philosophy, even the most perfect, has
been henceforth deprived of its principal intellectual function, the
most regular order being thus consigned as necessarily established and
maintained in our world, and even in the whole universe, _by the simple
mutual gravity of its several parts_."[260]

The task of "conceiving a better arrangement" of the celestial orbs, and
improving the system of the universe generally, we shall leave to those
who imagine themselves possessed of that omniscience which comprehends
all the facts and relations of the actual universe, and foreknows all
the details and relations of all possible universes so accurately as to
be able to pronounce upon their relative "advantages." The arrogance of
these critics is certainly in startling and ludicrous contrast with the
affected modesty which, on other occasions, restrains them from
"imputing any intentions to nature." It is quite enough for our purpose
to know that the tracing of evidences of _design_ in those parts of
nature accessible to our observation is an essentially different thing
from the construction of a scheme of _optimism_ on _à priori_ grounds
which shall embrace a universe the larger portion of which is virtually
beyond the field of observation. We are conscious of possessing some
rational data and some mental equipment for the former task, but for the
latter we feel utterly incompetent.[261]

[Footnote 259: In a foot-note Comte adds: "Nowadays, to minds
familiarized betimes with the true astronomical philosophy, the heavens
declare no other glory than that of Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton, and all
those who have contributed to the ascertainment of their laws." It seems
remarkable that the great men who _ascertained_ these laws did not see
that the saying of the Psalmist was emptied of all meaning by their
discoveries. No persons seem to have been more willing than these very
men named to ascribe all the glory to Him who _established_ these laws.
Kepler says: "The astronomer, to whom God has given to see more clearly
with his inward eye, from what he has discovered, both can and will
glorify God;" and Newton says: "This beautiful system of sun, planets,
comets could have its origin in no other way than by the purpose and
command of an intelligent and powerful Being. We admire him on account
of his perfections, we venerate and worship him on account of his
government."--Whewell's "Astronomy and Physics," pp. 197, 198.]

[Footnote 260: "Positive Philosophy," vol. ii. pp. 36-38; Tulloch,
"Theism," p. 115.]

[Footnote 261: Chalmers's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. pp. 117,

The only plausible argument in the above quotation from Comte is, that
the whole phenomena of the solar system are adequately explained by the
law of gravitation, without the intervention of any intelligent purpose.
Let it be borne in mind that it is a fundamental principle of the
Positive philosophy that all human knowledge is necessarily confined to
phenomena _perceptible to sense_, and that the fast and highest
achievement of human science is to observe and record "the invariable
relations of resemblance and succession among phenomena." We can not
possibly know any thing of even the existence of "causes" or "forces"
lying back of phenomena, nor of "reasons" or "purposes" determining the
relations of phenomena. The "law of gravitation" must, therefore, be
simply the statement of a fact, the expression of an observed order of
phenomena. But the simple statement of a fact is no _explanation_ of the
fact. The formal expression of an observed order of succession among
phenomena is no _explanation_ of that order. For what do we mean by an
explanation? Is it not a "making plain" to the understanding? It is, in
short, a complete answer to the questions _how_ is it so? and _why_ is
it so? Now, if Comte denies to himself and to us all knowledge of
efficient and final causation, if we are in utter ignorance of "forces"
operating in nature, and of "reasons" for which things exist in nature,
he can not answer either question, and consequently nothing is

Practically, however, Comte regards gravitation as a force. The order of
the solar system has been established and is still maintained by the
mutual gravity of its several parts. We shall not stop here to note the
inconsistency of his denying to us the knowledge of, even the existence
of, force, and yet at the same time assuming to treat gravitation as a
force really adequate to the explanation of the _how_ and _why_ of the
phenomena of the universe, without any reference to a supernatural will
or an intelligent mind. The question with which we are immediately
concerned is whether gravitation _alone_ is adequate to the explanation
of the phenomena of the heavens? A review _in extenso_ of Comte's answer
to this question would lead us into all the inextricable mazes of the
nebular hypothesis, and involve us in a more extended discussion than
our space permits and our limited scientific knowledge justifies. For
the masses of the people the whole question of cosmical development
resolves itself into "a balancing of authorities;" they are not in a
position to verify the reasonings for and against this theory by actual
observation of astral phenomena, and the application of mathematical
calculus; they are, therefore, guided by balancing in their own minds
the statements of the distinguished astronomers who, by the united
suffrages of the scientific world, are regarded as "authorities." For
us, at present, it is enough that the nebular hypothesis is rejected by
some of the greatest astronomers that have lived. We need only mention
the names of Sir William Herschel, Sir John Herschel, Prof. Nichol, Earl
Rosse, Sir David Brewster, and Prof. Whewell.

But if we grant that the nebular hypothesis is entitled to take rank as
an established theory of the development of the solar system, it by no
means proves that the solar system was formed without the intervention
of intelligence and design. On this point we shall content ourselves
with quoting the words of one whose encyclopædian knowledge was
confessedly equal to that of Comte, and who in candor and accuracy was
certainly his superior. Prof. Whewell, in his "Astronomy and Physics,"
says: "This hypothesis by no means proves that the solar system was
formed without the intervention of intelligence and design. It only
transfers our view of the skill exercised and the means employed to
another part of the work; for how came the sun and its atmosphere to
have such materials, such motions, such a constitution, and these
consequences followed from their primordial condition? How came the
parent vapor thus to be capable of coherence, separation, contraction,
solidification? How came the laws of its motion, attraction, repulsion,
condensation, to be so fixed as to lead to a beautiful and harmonious
system in the end? How came it to be neither too fluid nor too
tenacious, to contract neither too quickly nor too slowly for the
successive formation of the several planetary bodies? How came that
substance, which at one time was a luminous vapor, to be at a subsequent
period solids and fluids of many various kinds? What but design and
intelligence prepared and tempered this previously-existing element, so
that it should, by its natural changes, produce such an orderly
system"?[262] "_The laws of motion alone will not produce the regularity
which we admire in the motion of the heavenly bodies_. There must be an
original adjustment of the system on which these laws are to act; a
selection of the arbitrary quantities which they are to involve; a
primitive cause which shall dispose the elements in due relation to each
other, in order that regular recurrence may accompany constant change,
and that perpetual motion may be combined with perpetual

[Footnote 262: "Astronomy and Physics," p. 109.]

[Footnote 263: Chalmers's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 119.]

The harmony of the solar system in all its phenomena does not depend
upon the operation of any _one_ law, but from the special adjustment of
several laws. There are certain agents operating throughout the entire
system which have different properties, and which require special
adjustment to each other, in order to their beneficial operation. 1st.
There is _Gravitation,_ prevailing apparently through all space. But it
does not prevail alone. It is a force whose function is to balance other
forces of which we know little, except that these, again, are needed to
balance the force of gravitation. Each force, if left to itself, would
be the destruction of the universe. Were it not for the force of
gravitation, the centrifugal forces which impel the planets would fling
them off into space. Were it not for these centrifugal forces, the force
of gravitation would dash them against the sun. The ultimate fact of
astronomical science, therefore, is not the law of gravitation, but the
_adjustment_ between this law and other laws, so as to produce and
maintain the existing order.[264] 2d. There is _Light_, flowing from
numberless luminaries; and _Heat_, radiating everywhere from the warmer
to the colder regions; and there are a number of adjustments needed in
order to the beneficial operation of these agents. Suppose we grant that
by merely mechanical causes the sun became the centre of our system, how
did it become also the _source of its vivifying influences_? "How was
the fire deposited on this hearth? How was the candle placed on this
candlestick?" 3d. There is an all-pervading _Ether_, through which light
is transmitted, which offers resistance to the movement of the planetary
and cometary bodies, and tends to a dissipation of mechanical energy,
and which needs to be counter-balanced by well-adjusted arrangements to
secure the stability of the solar system. All this balancing of opposite
properties and forces carries our minds upward towards Him who holds the
balances in his hands, and to a Supreme Intelligence on whose
adjustments and collocations the harmony and stability of the universe

[Footnote 264: Duke of Argyll, "Reign of Law," pp. 91, 92.]

[Footnote 265: M'Cosh, "Typical Forms and Special Ends," ch. xiii.]

The recognition of all teleology of organs in vegetable and animal
physiology is also persistently repudiated by this school. When Cuvier
speaks of the combination of organs in such order as to adapt the animal
to the part which it has to play in nature, Geoffroy Saint Hilaire
replies, "I know nothing of animals which have to play a part in
nature." "I have read, concerning fishes, that, because they live in a
medium which resists more than air, their motive forces are calculated
so as to give them the power of progression under these circumstances.
By this mode of reasoning, you would say of a man who makes use of
crutches, that he was originally destined to the misfortune of having a
leg paralyzed or amputated.[266] "With a modesty which savors of
affectation, he says, "I ascribe no intentions to God, for I mistrust
the feeble powers of my reason. I observe facts merely, and go no
farther. I only pretend to the character of the historian of _what is_."
"I can not make Nature an intelligent being who does nothing in vain,
who acts by the shortest mode, who does all for the best."[267] All the
supposed consorting of means to ends which has hitherto been regarded as
evidencing Intelligence is simply the result of "the elective affinities
of organic elements" and "the differentiation of organs" consequent
mainly upon exterior conditions. "_Functions are a result, not an end_.
The animal undergoes the kind of life that his organs impose, and
submits to the imperfections of his organization. The naturalist studies
the play of his apparatus, and if he has the right of admiring most of
its parts, he has likewise that of showing the imperfection of other
parts, and the practical uselessness of those which fulfill no
functions."[268] And it is further claimed that there are a great many
structures which are clearly useless; that is, they fulfill no purpose
at all. Thus there are monkeys, which have no thumbs for use, but only
rudimental thumb-bones hid beneath the skin; the wingless bird of New
Zealand (Apteryx) has wing-bones similarly developed, which serve no
purpose; young whalebone whales are born with teeth that never cut the
gums, and are afterwards absorbed; and some sheep have horns turned
about their ears which fulfill no end. And inasmuch as there are some
organisms in nature which serve no purpose of utility, it is argued
there is no design in nature; things are _used_ because there are
antecedent conditions favorable for _use_, but that use is not the _end_
for which the organ exists. The true naturalist will never say, "Birds
have wings given them _in order_ to fly;" he will rather say, "Birds fly
_because_ they have wings." The doctrine of final causes must,
therefore, be abandoned.

[Footnote 266: Whewell, "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 267: Id., ib., vol. ii. p. 490.]

[Footnote 268: Martin's "Organic Unity in Animals and Vegetables," in M.
Q. Review, January, 1863.]

It is hardly worth while to reply to the lame argument of Geoffroy,
which needs a "crutch" for its support. The very illustration,
undignified and irrelevant as it is, tells altogether against its
author. For, first, the crutch is certainly a _contrivance_ designed for
locomotion; secondly, the length and strength and lightness of the
crutch are all matters of calculation and _adjustment_; and, thirdly,
all the adaptations of the crutch are well-considered, in order to
enable the lame man to walk; the function of the crutch is the final
cause of its creation. This crutch is clearly out of place in Geoffroy's
argument, and utterly breaks down. It is in its place in the
teleological argument, and stands well, though it may not behave as well
as the living limb. The understanding of a child can perceive that the
design-argument does not assert that men were intended to have amputated
limbs, but that crutches are designed for those whose limbs are
paralyzed or amputated.

The existence of useless members, of rudimentary and abortive limbs,
does seem, at first sight, to be unfavorable to the idea of supremacy of
purpose and all-pervading design. It should be remarked, however, that
this is an argument based upon our ignorance, and not upon our
knowledge. It does not by any means follow that because we have
discovered no reasons for their existence, therefore there are no
reasons. Science, in enlarging its conquests of nature, is perpetually
discovering the usefulness of arrangements of which our fathers were
ignorant, and the reasons of things which to their minds, were
concealed; and it ill becomes the men who so far "mistrust their own
feeble powers" as to be afraid of ascribing any intention to God or
nature, to dogmatically affirm there is no purpose in the existence of
any thing. And then we may ask, what right have these men to set up the
idea of "utility" as the only standard to which the Creator must
conform? How came they to know that God is a mere "utilitarian;" or, if
they do not believe in God, that nature is a miserable "Benthamite?" Why
may not the idea of beauty, of symmetry, of order, be a standard for the
universe, as much as the idea of utility, or mere subordination to some
practical end? May not conformity to one grand and comprehensive plan,
sweeping over all nature, be perfectly compatible with the adaptation of
individual existences to the fulfillment of special ends? In civil
architecture we have conformity to a general plan; we have embellishment
and ornament, and we have adaptation to a special purpose, all combined;
why may not these all be combined in the architecture of the universe?
The presence of any one of these is sufficient to prove design, for mere
ornament or beauty is itself a purpose, an object, and an end. The
concurrence of all these is an overwhelming evidence of design. Wherever
found, they are universally recognized as the product of intelligence;
they address themselves at once to the intelligence of man, and they
place him in immediate relation to and in deepest sympathy with the
Intelligence which gave them birth. He that formed the eye of man to
see, and the heart of man to admire beauty, shall He not delight in it?
He that gave the hand of man its cunning to create beauty, shall He not
himself work for it? And if man can and does combine both "ornament" and
"use" in one and the same implement or machine, why should not the
Creator of the world do the same? "When the savage carves the handle of
his war-club, the immediate purpose of his carving is to give his own
hand a firmer hold. But any shapeless scratches would be enough for
this. When he carves it in an elaborate pattern, he does so for the love
of ornament, and to satisfy the sense of beauty." And so "the harmonies,
on which all beauty depends, are so connected in nature that _use_ and
_ornament_ may often both arise out of the same conditions."[269]

[Footnote 269: Duke of Argyll, "Reign of Law," p. 203.]

The "true naturalist," therefore, recognizes two great principles
pervading the universe--_a principle of order_--a unity of plan, and _a
principle of special adaptation_, by which each object, though
constructed upon a general plan, is at the same time accommodated to the
place it has to occupy and the purpose it has to serve. In other words,
there is _homology of structure_ and _analogy of function_, conformity
to _archetypal forms_ and _Teleology of organs_, in wonderful
combination. Now, in the Materialistic school, it has been the prevalent
practice to set up the unity of plan in animal structures, in opposition
to the principle of Final Causes: Morphology has been opposed to
Teleology. But in nature there is no such opposition; on the contrary,
there is a beautiful co-ordination. The same bones, in different
animals, are made subservient to the widest possible diversity of
functions. The same limbs are converted into fins, paddles, wings, legs,
and arms. "No comparative anatomist has the slightest hesitation in
admitting that the pectoral fin of a fish, the wing of a bird, the
paddle of the dolphin, the fore-leg of a deer, the wing of a bat, and
the arm of a man, are the same organs, notwithstanding that their forms
are so varied, and the uses to which they are applied so unlike each
other."[270] All these are homologous in structure--they are formed
after an ideal archetype or model, but that model or type is variously
modified to adapt the animal to the sphere of life in which it is
destined to move, and the organ itself to the functions it has to
perform, whether swimming, flying, walking, or burrowing, or that varied
manipulation of which the human hand is capable. These varied
modifications of the vertebrated type, for special purposes, are
unmistakable examples of final causation. Whilst the silent members, the
rudimental limbs instanced by Oken, Martins, and others--as fulfilling
no purpose, and serving no end, exist in conformity to an ideal
archetype on which the bony skeletons of all vertebrated animals are
formed,[271] and which has never been departed from since time began.
This type, or model, or plan, is, however, itself an evidence of
_design_ as much as the plan of a house. For to what standard are we
referring when we say that two limbs are morphologically the same? Is it
not an _ideal_ plan, a _mental_ pattern, a metaphysical conception? Now
an _ideal_ implies a mind which preconceived the idea, and in which
alone it really exists. It is only as "an _order of Divine thought_"
that the doctrine of animal homologies is at all intelligible; and
Homology is, therefore, the science which traces the outward embodiment
of a Divine Idea.[272] The principle of intentionality or final
causation, then, is not in any sense invalidated by the discovery of "a
unity of plan" sweeping through the entire universe.

[Footnote 270: Carpenter's "Comparative Physiology," p. 37.]

[Footnote 271: Agassiz, "Essay on Classification," p. 10.]

[Footnote 272: Whewell's "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. i. p.
644; "The Reign of Law," p. 208; Agassiz, "Essay on Classification," pp.

We conclude that we are justly entitled to regard "the principle of
intentionality" as a primary and necessary law of thought, under which
we can not avoid conceiving and describing the facts of the
universe--_the special adaptation of means to ends necessarily implies
mind_. Whenever and wherever we observe the adaptation of an organism to
the fulfillment of a special end, we can not avoid conceiving of that
_end_ as foreseen and premeditated, the _means_ as selected and adjusted
with a view to that end, and creative energy put forth to secure the
end--all which is the work of intelligence and will.[273] And we can not
describe these facts of nature, so as to render that account
intelligible to other minds, without using such terms as "contrivance,"
"purpose," "adaptation," "design." A striking illustration of this may
be found in Darwin's volume "On the Fertilization of Orchids." We select
from his volume with all the more pleasure because he is one of the
writers who enjoins "caution in ascribing intentions to nature." In one
sentence he says: "The _Labellum_ is developed into a long nectary, _in
order_ to attract _Lepidoptera_; and we shall presently give reasons for
suspecting the nectar is _purposely_ so lodged that it can be sucked
only slowly, _in order_ to give time for the curious chemical quality of
the viscid matter settling hard and dry" (p. 29). Of one particular
structure he says: "This _contrivance_ of the guiding ridges may be
compared to the little instrument sometimes used for guiding a thread
into the eye of a needle." The notion that every organism has a use or
purpose seems to have guided him in his discoveries. "The strange
position of the _Labellum_, perched on the summit of the column, ought
to have shown me that here was the place for experiment. I ought to have
scorned the notion that the _Labellum_ was thus placed _for no good
purpose_. I neglected this plain guide, and for a long time completely
failed to understand the flower" (p. 262).[274]

[Footnote 273: Carpenter's "Principles of Comparative Physiology," p.

[Footnote 274: Edinburgh Review, October, 1862; article, "The

So that the assumption of final causes has not, as Bacon affirms, "led
men astray" and "prejudiced further discovery;" on the contrary, it has
had a large share in every discovery in anatomy and physiology, zoology
and botany. The use of every organ has been discovered by starting from
the assumption _that it must have some use_. The belief in a creative
purpose led Harvey to discover the circulation of the blood. He says:
"When I took notice that the valves in the veins of so many parts of the
body were so placed that they gave a free passage to the blood towards
the heart, but opposed the passage of the venal blood the contrary way,
I was incited to imagine that so provident a cause as Nature has not
placed so many valves _without design_, and no design seemed more
probable than the circulation of the blood."[275] The wonderful
discoveries in Zoology which have immortalized the name of Cuvier were
made under the guidance of this principle. He proceeds on the
supposition not only that animal forms have _some_ plan, _some_ purpose,
but that they have an intelligible plan, a discoverable purpose. At the
outset of his "_Règne Animal_" he says: "Zoology has a principle of
reasoning which is peculiar to it, and which it employs to advantage on
many occasions; that is, the principle of the conditions of existence,
commonly called final causes."[276] The application of this principle
enabled him to understand and arrange the structures of animals with
astonishing clearness and completeness of order; and to restore the
forms of extinct animals which are found in the rocks, in a manner which
excited universal admiration, and has commanded universal assent.
Indeed, as Professor Whewell remarks, at the conclusion of his "History
of the Inductive Sciences," "those who have been discoverers in science
have generally had minds, the disposition of which was to believe in an
_intelligent Maker_ of the universe, and that the scientific
speculations which produced an opposite tendency were generally those
which, though they might deal familiarly with known physical truths, and
conjecture boldly with regard to unknown, do not add to the number of
solid generalizations."[277]

[Footnote 275: "History of Inductive Science," vol. ii. p. 449.]

[Footnote 276: "History of Inductive Science," vol. ii. p. 2, Eng. ed.]

[Footnote 277: Ibid., vol. ii. p. 491. A list of the "great discoverers"
is given in his "Astronomy and Physics," bk. iii. ch. v.]


THE UNKNOWN GOD (_continued_).


      "The faith which can not stand unless buttressed by
      contradictions is built upon the sand. The profoundest faith
      is faith in the unity of truth. If there is found any
      conflict in the results of a right reason, no appeal to
      practical interests, or traditionary authority, or
      intuitional or theological faith, can stay the flood of

In the previous chapter we have considered the answers to this question
which are given by the Idealistic and Materialistic schools; it devolves
upon us now to review (iii.) the position of the school of _Natural
Realism_ or _Natural Dualism_, at the head of which stands Sir William

It is admitted by this school that philosophic knowledge is "the
knowledge of effects as dependent on their causes,"[278] and "of
qualities as inherent in substances."[279]

[Footnote 278: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 58.]

[Footnote 279: Ibid., vol. i. p. 138.]

1. _As to Events and Causes_.--"Events do not occur isolated, apart, by
themselves; they occur and are conceived by us only in connection. Our
observation affords us no example of a phenomenon which is not an
effect; nay, our thought can not even realize to itself the possibility
of a phenomenon without a cause. By the necessity we are under of
thinking some cause for every phenomenon, and by our original ignorance
of what particular causes belong to what particular effects, it is
rendered impossible for us to acquiesce in the mere knowledge of the
fact of the phenomenon; on the contrary, we are determined, we are
necessitated to regard each phenomenon as _only partially known until we
discover the causes_ on which it depends for its existence.[280]
Philosophic knowledge is thus, in its widest acceptation, the knowledge
of effects as dependent on causes. Now what does this imply? In the
first place, as every cause to which we can ascend is only an effect, it
follows that it is the scope, that is, the aim, of philosophy to trace
up the series of effects and causes until we arrive at _causes which are
not in themselves effects_,"[281]--that is, to ultimate and final
causes. And then, finally, "Philosophy, as the knowledge of effects in
their causes, necessarily tends, not towards a plurality of ultimate or
final causes, but towards _one_ alone."[282]

[Footnote 280: Ibid., vol. i. p. 56.]

[Footnote 281: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 58.]

[Footnote 282: Ibid., vol. i. p. 60.]

2. _As to Qualities and Substance, or Phenomena and Reality_.--As
phenomena appear only in conjunction, we are compelled, by the
constitution of our nature, to think them conjoined in and by something;
and as they are phenomena, we can not think them phenomena of nothing,
but must regard them as properties or qualities of something.[283] Now
that which manifests its qualities--in other words, that in which the
appearing causes inhere, that to which they belong--is called their
_subject_, or _substance_, or _substratum_.[284] The subject of one
grand series of phenomena (as, _e.g._, extension, solidity, figure,
etc.) is called _matter_, or _material substance_. The subject of the
other grand series of phenomena (as, _e.g._, thought, feeling, volition,
etc.) is termed _mind_, or _mental substance_. We may, therefore, lay it
down as an undisputed truth that consciousness gives, as an ultimate
fact, a primitive duality--a knowledge of the _ego_ in relation and
contrast to the _non-ego_, and a knowledge of the _non-ego_ in relation
and contrast to the _ego_[285] Natural Dualism thus establishes the
existence of two worlds of _mind_ and _matter_ on the immediate
knowledge we possess of both series of phenomena; whilst the Cosmothetic
Idealists discredit the veracity of consciousness as to our immediate
knowledge of material phenomena, and, consequently, our _immediate
knowledge of the existence of matter_.[286]

[Footnote 283: Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.]

[Footnote 284: Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.]

[Footnote 285: Ibid., vol. i. p. 292.]

[Footnote 286: Ibid., vol. i. pp. 292, 295.]

The obvious doctrine of the above quotations is, that we have an
immediate knowledge of the "_existence_ of matter" as well as of "the
_phenomena_ of matter;" that is, we know "_substance_" as immediately
and directly as we know "_qualities_." Phenomena are known only as
inherent in substance; substance is known only as manifesting its
qualities. We never know qualities without knowing substance, and we can
never know substance without knowing qualities. Both are known in one
concrete act; substance is known quite as much as quality; quality is
known no more than substance. That we have a direct, immediate,
presentative "face to face" knowledge of matter and mind in every act of
consciousness is asserted again and again by Hamilton, in his
"Philosophy of Perception."[287] In the course of the discussion he
starts the question, "_Is the knowledge of mind and matter equally
immediate?_" His answer to this question may be condensed in the
following sentences. In regard to the immediate knowledge of _mind_
there is no difficulty; it is admitted to be direct and immediate. The
problem, therefore, exclusively regards the intuitive perception of the
qualities of _matter_. Now, says Hamilton, "if we interrogate
consciousness concerning the point in question, the response is
categorical and clear. In the simplest act of perception I am conscious
of _myself_ as a perceiving _subject_, and of an external _reality_ as
the object perceived; and I am conscious of both existences in the same
indivisible amount of intuition."[288] Again he says, "I have frequently
asserted that in perception we are conscious of the external object,
immediately and _in itself_." "If, then, the veracity of consciousness
be unconditionally admitted--_if the intuitive knowledge of matter and
mind_, and the consequent reality of their antithesis, be taken as
truths," the doctrine of Natural Realism is established, and, "without
any hypothesis or demonstration, the _reality of mind_ and the _reality
of matter_."[289]

[Footnote 287: Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, part ii.]

[Footnote 288: Ibid., p. 181.]

[Footnote 289: Ibid., pp. 34, 182.]

Now, after these explicit statements that we have an intuitive knowledge
of matter and mind--a direct and immediate consciousness of self as a
real, "self-subsisting entity," and a knowledge of "an external reality,
immediately and _in itself_," it seems unaccountably strange that
Hamilton should assert "_that all human knowledge, consequently all
human philosophy, is only of the Relative or Phenomenal_;"[290] and that
"_of existence absolutely and in itself we know nothing_."[291] Whilst
teaching that the proper sphere and aim of philosophy is to trace
secondary causes up to ultimate or first causes, and that it
_necessarily tends_ towards one First and Ultimate Cause, he at the same
time asserts that "first causes do not lie within the reach of
philosophy,"[292] and that it can never attain to the knowledge of the
First Cause.[293] "The Infinite God can not, by us, be comprehended,
conceived, or thought."[294] God, as First Cause, as infinite, as
unconditioned, as eternal, is to us absolutely "_The Unknown_." The
science of Real Being--of Being _in se_--of self-subsisting entities, is
declared to be impossible. All science is only of the phenomenal, the
conditioned, the relative. Ontology is a delusive dream. Thus, after
pages of explanations and qualifications, of affirmations and denials,
we find Hamilton virtually assuming the same position as Comte and
Mill--_all human knowledge is necessarily confined to phenomena_.

[Footnote 290: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 136]

[Footnote 291: Ibid., vol. i. p. 138.]

[Footnote 292: Ibid., vol. i. p. 58.]

[Footnote 293: Ibid., vol. i. p. 60.]

[Footnote 294: Ibid., vol. ii. p. 375.]

It has been supposed that the chief glory of Sir William Hamilton rested
upon his able exposition and defense of the doctrine of Natural Realism.
There are, however, indications in his writings that he regarded "the
Philosophy of the Conditioned" as his grand achievement. The Law of the
Conditioned had "not been generalized by any previous philosopher;" and,
in laying down that law, he felt that he had made a new and important
contribution to speculative thought.

The principles upon which this philosophy is based are:

1. _The Relativity of all Human Knowledge._--Existence is not cognized
absolutely and in itself, but only under special modes which are related
to our faculties, and, in fact, determined by these faculties
themselves. All knowledge, therefore, is _relative_--that is, it is of
phenomena only, and of phenomena "under modifications determined by our
own faculties." Now, as the Absolute is that which exists out of all
relation either to phenomena or to our faculties of knowledge, it can
not possibly be _known_.

2. _The Conditionality of all Thinking_.--Thought necessarily supposes
conditions. "To think is to condition; and conditional limitation is the
fundamental law of the possibility of thought. As the eagle can not
out-soar the atmosphere in which he floats, and by which alone he is
supported, so the mind can not transcend the sphere of limitation within
and through which the possibility of thought is realized. Thought is
only of the conditioned, because, as we have said, to think is to
condition."[295] Now the Infinite is the unlimited, the unconditioned,
and as such can not possibly be _thought_.

3. _The notion of the Infinite--the Absolute, as entertained by man, is
a mere "negation of thought._"--By this Hamilton does not mean that the
idea of the Infinite is a negative idea. "The Infinite and the Absolute
are _only_ the names of two counter _imbecilities_ of the human
mind"[296]--that is, a mental inability to conceive an absolute
limitation, or an infinite illimitation; an absolute commencement, or an
infinite non-commencement. In other words, of the absolute and infinite
we have no conception at all, and, consequently, no knowledge.[297]

The grand law which Hamilton generalizes from the above is, "_that the
conceivable is in every relation bounded by the inconceivable_." Or,
again, "The conditioned or the thinkable lies between two extremes or
poles; and these extremes or poles are each of them unconditioned, each
of them inconceivable, each of them exclusive or contradictory of the
other."[298] This is the celebrated "Law of the Conditioned."

[Footnote 295: "Discussions," p. 21.]

[Footnote 296: Ibid., p. 28.]

[Footnote 297: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 368, 373.]

[Footnote 298: Ibid., vol. ii. p. 373.]

In attempting a brief criticism of "the Philosophy of the Conditioned,"
we may commence by inquiring:

I. _What is the real import and significance of the doctrine "that all
human knowledge is only of the relative or phenomenal_?"

Hamilton calls this "the great axiom" of philosophy. That we may
distinctly comprehend its meaning, and understand its bearing on the
subject under discussion, we must ascertain the sense in which he uses
the words "_phenomenal_" and "_relative._" The importance of an exact
terminology is fully appreciated by our author; and accordingly, in
three Lectures (VIII., IX., X.), he has given a full explication of the
terms most commonly employed in philosophic discussions. Here the word
"_phenomenon_" is set down as the necessary "_correlative_" of the word
"_subject_" or "_substance_." "These terms can not be explained apart,
for each is correlative of the other, each can be comprehended only in
and through its correlative. The term '_subject_' is used to denote the
unknown (?) basis which lies under the various _phenomena_ or properties
of which we become aware, whether in our external or internal
experience."[299] "The term '_relative_' is _opposed_ to the term
'_absolute_;' therefore, in saying that we know only the relative, I
virtually assert that we know nothing absolutely, that is, _in and for
itself, and without relation to us and our faculties_."[300] Now, in the
philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, "the absolute" is defined as "that
which is aloof from relation"--"that which is out of all relation."[301]
The _absolute_ can not, therefore, be "_the correlative_" of the
conditioned--can not stand in any relation to the phenomenal. The
_subject,_ however, is the necessary correlative of the phenomenal, and,
consequently, the subject and the absolute are not identical.
Furthermore, Hamilton tells us the subject _may be comprehended_ in and
through its correlative--the phenomenon; but the absolute, being aloof
from all relation, can not be comprehended or conceived at all. "The
subject" and "the absolute" are, therefore, not synonymous terms; and,
if they are not synonymous, then their antithetical terms, "phenomenal"
and "relative," can not be synonymous.

[Footnote 299: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 148.]

[Footnote 300: Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.]

[Footnote 301: "Discussions," p. 21.]

It is manifest, however, that Hamilton does employ these terms as
synonymous, and this we apprehend is the first false step in his
philosophy of the conditioned. "All our knowledge is of the relative
_or_ phenomenal." Throughout the whole of Lectures VIII. and IX., in
which he explains the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge,
these terms are used as precisely analogous. Now, in opposition to this,
we maintain that the relative is not always the phenomenal. A thing may
be "in relation" and yet not be a phenomenon. "The subject or substance"
may be, and really is, on the admission of Hamilton himself,
_correlated_ to the phenomenon. The ego, "the conscious _subject_"[302]
as a "_self-subsisting entity_" is necessarily related to the phenomena
of thought, feeling, etc.; but no one would repudiate the idea that the
conscious subject is a mere phenomenon, or "series of phenomena," with
more indignation than Hamilton. Notwithstanding the contradictory
assertion, "that the _subject_ is unknown," he still teaches, with equal
positiveness, "that in every act of perception I am conscious of self,
as a perceiving _subject."_ And still more explicitly he says: "As
clearly as I am conscious of existing, so clearly am I conscious, at
every moment of my existence, that the conscious Ego is not itself a
mere modification [a phenomenon], nor a series of modifications
[phenomena], but that it is itself different from all its modifications,
and a _self-subsisting entity_."[303] Again: "Thought is possible only
in and through the consciousness of Self. The Self, the I, is recognized
in every act of intelligence as the _subject_ to which the act belongs.
It is I that perceive, I that imagine, I that remember, etc.; these
special modes are all only the phenomena of the I."[304] We are,
therefore, conscious of the _subject_ in the most immediate, and direct,
and intuitive manner, and the subject of which we are conscious can not
be "_unknown_." We regret that so distinguished a philosophy should deal
in such palpable contradictions; but it is the inevitable consequence of
violating that fundamental principle of philosophy on which Hamilton so
frequently and earnestly insists, viz., "that the testimony of
consciousness must be accepted in all its integrity".

[Footnote 302: Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton (edited by O.W.
Wight), p. 181.]

[Footnote 303: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 373.]

[Footnote 304: Ibid., vol. i. p. 166.]

It is thus obvious that, with proper qualifications, we may admit _the
relativity of human knowledge_, and yet at the same time reject the
doctrine of Hamilton, _that all human knowledge is only of the

"The relativity of human knowledge," like most other phrases into which
the word "relative" enters, is vague, and admits of a variety of
meanings. If by this phrase is meant "that we can not know objects
except as related to our faculties, or as our faculties are related to
them," we accept the statement, but regard it as a mere truism leading
to no consequences, and hardly worth stating in words. It is simply
another way of saying that, in order to an object's being known, it must
come within the range of our intellectual vision, and that we can only
know as much as we are capable of knowing. Or, if by this phrase is
meant "that we can only know things by and through the phenomena they
present," we admit this also, for we can no more know substances apart
from their properties, than we can know qualities apart from the
substances in which they inhere. Substances can be known only in and
through their phenomena. Take away the properties, and the thing has no
longer any existence. Eliminate extension, form, density, etc., from
matter, and what have you left? "The thing in itself," apart from its
qualities, is nothing. Or, again, if by the relativity of knowledge is
meant "that all consciousness, all thought are relative," we accept this
statement also. To conceive, to reflect, to know, is to deal with
difference and relation; the relation of subject and object; the
relation of objects among themselves; the relation of phenomena to
reality, of becoming to being. The reason of man is unquestionably
correlated to that which is beyond phenomena; it is able to apprehend
the necessary relation between phenomena and being, extension and space,
succession and time, event and cause, the finite and the infinite. We
may thus admit the _relative character of human thought_, and at the
same time deny that it is an ontological disqualification.[305]

It is not, however, in any of these precise forms that Hamilton holds
the doctrine of the relativity of knowledge. He assumes a middle place
between Reid and Kant, and endeavors to blend the subjective idealism of
the latter with the realism of the former. "He identifies the
_phenomenon_ of the German with the _quality_ of the British
philosophy,"[306] and asserts, as a regulative law of thought, that the
quality implies the substance, and the phenomenon the noumenon, but
makes the substratum or noumenon (the object in itself) unknown and
unknowable. The "phenomenon" of Kant was, however, something essentially
different from the "quality" of Reid. In the philosophy of Kant,
_phenomenon_ means an object as we envisage or represent it to
ourselves, in opposition to the _noumenon_, or a thing as it is in
itself. The phenomenon is composed, in part, of subjective elements
supplied by the mind itself; as regards intuition, the forms of space
and time; as regards thought, the categories of Quantity, Quality,
Relation, and Modality. To perceive a thing in itself would be to
perceive it neither in space nor in time. To think a thing in itself
would be not to think it under any of the categories. The phenomenal is
thus the product of the inherent laws of our own constitution, and, as
such, is the sum and limit of all our knowledge.[307]

[Footnote 305: Martineau's "Essays," p. 234.]

[Footnote 306: M'Cosh's "Defense of Fundamental Truth," p. 106.]

[Footnote 307: Mansel's "Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant," pp. 21,

This, in its main features, is evidently the doctrine propounded by
Hamilton. The special modes in which existence is cognizable" are
presented to, and known by, the mind _under modifications determined by
the faculties themselves_."[308] This doctrine he illustrates by the
following supposition: "Suppose the total object of consciousness in
perception is=12; and suppose that the external reality contributes 6,
the material sense 3, and the mind 3; this may enable you to form some
rude conjecture of the nature of the object of perception."[309] The
conclusion at which Hamilton arrives, therefore, is that things are not
known to us as they exist, but simply as they appear, and as our minds
are capable of perceiving them.

[Footnote 308: Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 148.]

[Footnote 309: Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 129;
and also vol. i. p. 147.]

Let us test the validity of this majestic deliverance. No man is
justified in making this assertion unless, 1. He knows things as they
exist; 2. He knows things not only as they exist but as they appear; 3.
He is able to compare things as they exist with the same things as they
appear. Now, inasmuch as Sir William Hamilton affirms we do not know
things as they exist, but only as they appear, how can he know that
there is any difference between things as they exist and as they appear?
What is this "_thing in itself_" about which Hamilton has so much to
say, and yet about which he professes to know nothing? We readily
understand what is meant by the _thing_; it is the object as existing--a
substance manifesting certain characteristic qualities. But what is
meant by _in itself_? There can be no _in itself_ besides or beyond the
_thing_. If Hamilton means that "the thing itself" is the thing apart
from all relation, and devoid of all properties or qualities, we do not
acknowledge any such thing. A thing apart from all relation, and devoid
of all qualities, is simply pure nothing, if such a solecism may be
permitted. With such a definition of Being _in se_, the logic of Hegel
is invincible, "Being and Nothing are identical."

And now, if "the thing in itself" be, as Hamilton says it is, absolutely
_unknown_, how can he affirm or deny any thing in regard to it? By what
right does he prejudge a hidden reality, and give or refuse its
predicates; as, for example, that it is conditioned or unconditioned, in
relation or aloof from relation, finite or infinite? Is it not plain
that, in declaring a thing in its inmost nature or essence to be
inscrutable, it is assumed to be partially _known_? And it is obvious,
notwithstanding some unguarded expressions to the contrary, that
Hamilton does regard "the thing in itself" as partially known. "The
external reality" is, at least, six elements out of twelve in the "total
object of consciousness."[310] The primary qualities of matter are known
as in the things themselves; "they develop themselves with rigid
necessity out of the simple datum of _substance occupying space_."[311]
"The Primary Qualities are apprehended as they are in bodies"--"they are
the attributes of _body as body_," and as such "are known immediately in
themselves,"[312] as well as mediately by their effects upon us. So that
we not only know by direct consciousness certain properties of things as
they exist in things themselves, but we can also deduce them in an _à
priori_ manner. "The bare notion of matter being given, the Primary
Qualities may be deduced _à priori_; they being, in fact, only
evolutions of the conditions which that notion necessarily implies." If,
then, we know the qualities of things as "in the things themselves,"
"the things themselves" must also be, at least, partially known; and
Hamilton can not consistently assert the relativity of _all_ knowledge.
Even if it be granted that our cognitions of objects are only in part
dependent on the objects themselves, and in part on elements superadded
by our organism, or by our minds, it can not warrant the assertion that
all our knowledge, but only the part so added, is relative. "The
admixture of the relative element not only does not take away the
absolute character of the remainder, but does not even (if our author is
right) prevent us from recognizing it. The confusion, according to him,
is not inextricable. It is for us 'to analyze and distinguish what
elements,' in an 'act of knowledge,' are contributed by the object, and
what by the organs or by the mind."[313]

[Footnote 310: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 129.]

[Footnote 311: Philosophy of Sir Wm. Hamilton, p. 357]

[Footnote 312: Ibid., pp. 377, 378.]

[Footnote 313: Mill's "Examination of Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p.

Admitting the relative character of human thought as a psychological
fact, Mr. Martineau has conclusively shown that this law, instead of
visiting us with disability to transcend phenomena, _operates as a
revelation of what exists beyond_. "The finite body cut out before our
visual perception, or embraced by the hands, lies as an island in the
emptiness around, and without comparative reference to this can not be
represented: the same experience which gives us the definite object
gives us also the infinite space; and both terms--the limited appearance
and the unlimited ground--are apprehended with equal certitude and
clearness, and furnished with names equally susceptible of distinct use
in predication and reasoning. The transient successions, for instance,
the strokes of a clock, which we count, present themselves to us as
dotted out upon a line of permanent duration; of which, without them, we
should have no apprehension, but which as their condition, is
unreservedly known."[314]

"What we have said with regard to space and time applies equally tο the
case of Causation. Here, too, the finite offered to perception
introduces to an Infinite supplied by thought. As a definite body
reveals also the space around, and an interrupted succession exhibits
the uniform time beneath, so does the passing phenomenon demand for
itself a power beneath. The space, and time, and power, not being part
of the thing perceived, but its conditions, are guaranteed to us,
therefore, on the warrant, not of sense, but of intellect."[315]

"We conclude, then, on reviewing these examples of Space, and Time, and
Causation, that ontological ideas introducing us to certain fixed
entities belong no less to our knowledge than scientific ideas of
phenomenal disposition and succession."[316] In these instances of
relation between a phenomenon given in perception and an entity as a
logical condition, the correlatives are on a perfect equality of
intellectual validity, and the relative character of human thought is
not an ontological disqualification, but a cognitive power.

[Footnote 314: "Essays," pp. 193,194.]

[Footnote 315: Ibid., p. 197.]

[Footnote 316: Ibid., p. 195.]

There is a thread of fallacy running through the whole of Hamilton's
reasonings, consequent upon a false definition of the Absolute at the
outset. The Absolute is defined as _that which exists in and by itself,
aloof from and out of all relation_. An absolute, as thus defined, does
not and can not exist; it is a pure abstraction, and, in fact, a pure
non-entity. "The Absolute expresses perfect independence both in being
and in action, and is applicable to God as self-existent."[317] It may
mean the absence of all _necessary_ relation, but it does not mean the
absence of _all_ relation. If God can not _voluntarily_ call a finite
existence into being, and thus stand in the relation of cause, He is
certainly under the severest limitation. But surely that is not a limit
which substitutes choice for necessity. To be unable to know God out of
all relation--that is, apart from his attributes, apart from his created
universe, is not felt by us to be any privation at all. A God without
attributes, and out of all relations, is for us no God at all. God as a
being of unlimited perfection, as infinitely wise and good, as the
unconditioned cause of all finite being, and, consequently, as
voluntarily related to nature and humanity, we can and do know; this is
the living and true God. The God of a false philosophy is not the true
God; the pure abstractions of Hegel and Hamilton are negations, and not

2. We proceed to consider the second fundamental principle of Hamilton's
philosophy of the conditioned, viz., that "conditional limitation is the
fundamental law of the possibility of thought," and that thought
necessarily imposes conditions on its object.

"Thought," says Hamilton, "can not transcend consciousness:
consciousness is only possible under the antithesis of a subject and an
object known only in correlation, and _mutually limiting each
other_"[318] Thought necessarily supposes conditions; "to think is
simply to condition," that is, to predicate limits; and as the infinite
is the unlimited, it can not be thought. The very attempt to think the
infinite renders it finite; therefore there can be no infinite _in
thought_, and, consequently, the infinite can not be known.

[Footnote 317: Calderwood's "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 179.]

[Footnote 318: "Discussions," p. 21.]

If by "the infinite in thought" is here meant the infinite compassed or
contained in thought, we readily grant that the finite can not contain
the infinite; it is a simple truism which no one has ever been so
foolish as to deny. Even Cousin is not so unwise as to assert the
absolutely comprehensibility of God. "In order absolutely to comprehend
the Infinite, it is necessary to have an infinite power of
comprehension, and this is not granted to us."[319] A finite mind can
not have "an infinite thought." But it by no means follows that, because
we can not have infinite thought, we can have no clear and definite
thought of or concerning the Infinite. We have a precise and definite
idea of infinitude; we can define the idea; we can set it apart without
danger of being confounded with another, and we can reason concerning
it. There is nothing we more certainly and intuitively know than that
space is infinite, and yet we can not comprehend or grasp within the
compass of our thought the infinite space. We can not form an _image_ of
infinite space, can not traverse it in perception, or represent it by
any combination of numbers; but we can have the _thought_ of it as an
idea of Reason, and can argue concerning it with precision and
accuracy.[320] Hamilton has an idea of the Infinite; he defines it; he
reasons concerning it; he says "we must believe in the infinity of God."
But how can he define the Infinite unless he possesses some knowledge,
however limited, of the infinite Being? How can he believe in the
infinity of God if he has no definite idea of infinitude? He can not
reason about, can not affirm or deny any thing concerning, that of which
he knows absolutely nothing.

[Footnote 319: "Lectures on History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 104.]

[Footnote 320: "To form an _image_ of any infinitude--be it of time or
space [or power]; to go mentally through it by successive steps of
representation--is indeed impossible; not less so than to traverse it in
our finite perception and experience. But to have the _thought_ of it as
an idea of the reason, not of the phantasy, and assign that thought a
constituent place in valid beliefs and consistent reasonings, appears to
us as not only possible, but inevitable."--Martineau's "Essays," p.

The grand logical barrier which Hamilton perpetually interposes to all
possible cognition of God _as infinite_ is, that to think is to
condition--to limit; and as the Infinite is the unconditioned, the
unlimited, therefore "the Infinite can not be _thought_." We grant at
once that all human thought is limited and finite, but, at the same
time, we emphatically deny that the limitation of our thought imposes
any conditions or limits upon the object of thought. No such affirmation
can be consistently made, except on the Hegelian hypothesis that
"Thought and Being are identical;" and this is a maxim which Hamilton
himself repudiates. Our thought does not create, neither does it impose
conditions upon, any thing.

There is a lurking sophism in the whole phraseology of Hamilton in
regard to this subject. He is perpetually talking about "thinking a
thing"--"thinking the Infinite." Now we do not think a thing, but we
think _of_ or _concerning_ a thing. We do not think a man, neither does
our thought impose any conditions upon the man, so that he must be as
our thought conceives or represents him; but our thought is of the man,
concerning or about the man, and is only so far true and valid as it
conforms to the objective reality. And so we do not "think the
Infinite;" that is, our thought neither contains nor conditions the
Infinite Being, but our thoughts are _about_ the Infinite One; and if we
do not think of Him as a being of infinite perfection, our thought is
neither worthy, nor just, nor true.[321]

[Footnote 321: Calderwood's "Philosophy of the Infinite," pp. 255, 256.]

But we are told the law of all thought and of all being is
determination; consequently, negation of some quality or some
potentiality; whereas the Infinite is "_the One and the All_" (τὸ Ἕν καὶ
Πῦν),[322] or, as Dr. Mansel, the disciple and annotator of Hamilton,
affirms, "the sum of all reality," and "the sum of all possible modes of
being."[323] The Infinite, as thus defined, must include in itself all
being, and all modes of being, actual and possible, not even excepting
evil. And this, let it be observed, Dr. Mansel has the hardihood to
affirm. "If the Absolute and the Infinite is an object of human
conception at all, this, and none other, is the conception
required."[324] "The Infinite Whole," as thus defined, can not be
thought, and therefore it is argued the Infinite God can not be known.
Such a doctrine shocks our moral sense, and we shrink from the thought
of an Infinite which includes evil. There is certainly a moral
impropriety, if not a logical impossibility, in such a conception of

[Footnote 322: Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," Appendix, vol. ii.
p. 531.]

[Footnote 323: "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 76.]

[Footnote 324: Ibid.]

The fallacy of this reasoning consists in confounding a _supposed_
Quantitative Infinite with _the_ Qualitative Infinite--the totality of
existence with the infinitely perfect One. "Qualitative infinity is a
secondary predicate; that is, the attribute of an attribute, and is
expressed by the adverb _infinitely_ rather than the adjective
_infinite_. For instance, it is a strict use of language to say, that
space is infinite, but it is an elliptical use of language to say, God
is infinite. Precision of language would require us to say, God is
infinitely good, wise, and great; or God is good, and his goodness is
infinite. The distinction may seem trivial, but it is based upon an
important difference between the infinity of space and time on the one
hand, and the infinity of God on the other. Neither philosophy nor
theology can afford to disregard the difference. Quantitative Infinity
is illimitation by _quantity_. Qualitative Infinity is illimitation by
_degree_. Quantity and degree alike imply finitude, and are categories
of the finite alone. The danger of arguing from the former kind of
infinitude to the latter can not be overstated. God alone possesses
Qualitative Infinity, which is strictly synonymous with _absolute
perfection_; and the neglect of the distinction between this and
Quantitative Infinity, leads irresistibly to pantheistic and
materialistic notions. Spinozism is possible only by the elevation of
'infinite extension' to the dignity of a divine attribute. Dr. Samuel
Clarke's identification of God's immensity with space has been shown by
Martin to ultimate in Pantheism. From ratiocinations concerning the
incomprehensibility of infinite space and time, Hamilton and Mansel pass
at once to conclusions concerning the incomprehensibility of God. The
inconsequence of all such arguments is absolute; and if philosophy
tolerates the transference of spatial or temporal analogies to the
nature of God, she must reconcile herself to the negation of his
personality and spirituality."[325] An Infinite Being, quite remote from
the notion of _quantity_, may and does exist; which, on the one hand,
does not include finite existence, and, on the other hand, does not
render the finite impossible to thought. Without contradiction they may
coexist, and be correlated.

The thought will have already suggested itself to the mind of the reader
that for Hamilton to assert that the Infinite, as thus defined (the One
and the All), is absolutely unknown, is certainly the greatest
absurdity, for in that case nothing can be known. This Infinite must be
at least partially known, or all human knowledge is reduced to zero. To
the all-inclusive Infinite every thing affirmative belongs, not only to
be, but to be known. To claim it for being, yet deny it to thought, is
thus impossible. The Infinite, which includes all real existence, is
certainly possible to cognition.

The whole argument as regards the conditionating nature of all thought
is condensed into four words by Spinoza--"_Omnis determinatio est
negatio_;" all determination is negation. Nothing can be more arbitrary
or more fallacious than this principle. It arises from the confusion of
two things essentially different--_the limits of a being_, and _its
determinate and distinguishing characteristics_. The limit of a being is
its imperfection; the determination of a being is its perfection. The
less a thing is determined, the more it sinks in the scale of being; the
most determinate being is the most perfect being. "In this sense God is
the only being absolutely determined. For there must be something
indetermined in all finite beings, since they have all imperfect powers
which tend towards their development after an indefinite manner. God
alone, the complete Being in whom all powers are actualized, escapes by
His own perfection from all progress, and development, and

[Footnote 325: North American Review, October, 1864, article, "The
Conditioned and the Unconditioned," pp. 422, 423. See also Young's
"Province of Reason," p. 72; and Calderwood's "Philosophy of the
Infinite," p. 183.]

[Footnote 326: Saisset, "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. p. 71.]

All real being must be determined; only pure Nothing can be
undetermined. _Determination_ is, however, one thing; and _limitation_
is essentially another thing. "Even space and time, though cognized
solely by negative characteristics, are determined in so far as
differentiated from the existences they contain; but this
differentiation involves no limitation of their infinity." If all
distinction is determination, and if all determination is negation, that
is (as here used), limitation, then the infinite, as distinguished from
the finite, loses its own infinity, and either becomes identical with
the finite, or else vanishes into pure nothing. If Hamilton will persist
in affirming that all determination is limitation, he has no other
alternatives but to accept the doctrine of Absolute Nihilism, or of
Absolute Identity. If the Absolute is the indeterminate--that is, no
attributes, no consciousness, no relations--it is pure non-being. If the
Infinite is "the One and All," then there is but one substance, one
absolute entity.

Herbert Spencer professes to be carrying out, a step farther, the
doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel, viz., "the philosophy of
the Unconditioned." In other words, he carries that doctrine forward to
its rigidly logical consequences, and utters the last word which
Hamilton and Mansel dare not utter--"Apprehensible by us there is no
God." The Ultimate Reality is absolutely unknown; it can not be
apprehended by the human intellect, and it can not present itself to the
intellect at all. This Ultimate Reality can not be _intelligent_,
because to think is to condition, and the Absolute is the unconditioned;
can not be _conscious_, because all consciousness is of plurality and
difference, and the Absolute is one; can not be _personal_, because
personality is determination or limitation, and the Infinite is the
illimitable. It is "audacious," "irreverent," "impious," to apply any of
these predicates to it; to regard it as Mind, or speak of it as
Righteous.[327] The ultimate goal of the philosophy of the Unconditioned
is a purely subjective Atheism.

[Footnote 327: "First Principles," pp. 111, 112.]

And yet of this Primary Existence--inscrutable, and absolutely
unknown--Spencer knows something; knows as much as he pleases to know.
He knows that this "ultimate of ultimates is _Force_,"[328] an
"_Omnipresent Power_,"[329] is "_One_" and "_Eternal_."[330] He knows
also that it can not be intelligent, self-conscious, and a
personality.[331] This is a great deal to affirm and deny of an
existence "absolutely unknown." May we not be permitted to affirm of
this hidden and unknown something that it is _conscious Mind_,
especially as Mind is admitted to be the only analogon of Power; and
"the _force_ by which we produce change, and which serves to symbolize
the causes of changes in general, is the final disclosure of

[Footnote 328: "First Principles," p. 235.]

[Footnote 329: Ibid., p. 99.]

[Footnote 330: Ibid., p. 81.]

[Footnote 331: Ibid., pp. 108-112.]

[Footnote 332: Ibid., p. 235.]

3. We advance to the review of the third fundamental principle of
Hamilton's philosophy of the Unconditioned, viz., that the terms
infinite and absolute are names for a "mere negation of thought"--a
"mental impotence" to think, or, in other words, the absence of all the
conditions under which thought is possible.

This principle is based upon a distinction between "positive" and
"negative" thought, which is made with an air of wonderful precision and
accuracy in "the Alphabet of Human Thought."[333] "Thinking is
_positive_ when existence is predicated of an object." "Thinking is
_negative_ when existence is not attributed to an object." "Negative
thinking," therefore, is not the thinking of an object as devoid of this
or that particular attribute, but as devoid of all attributes, and thus
of all existence; that is, it is "the negation of all
thought"--_nothing_. "When we think a thing, that is done by conceiving
it as possessed of certain modes of being or qualities, _and the sum of
these qualities constitutes its concept or notion_." "When we perform an
act of negative thought, this is done by thinking _something_ as _not_
existing in this or that determinate mode; and when we think it as
existing in no determinate mode, _we cease to think at all--it becomes a
nothing_."[334] Now the Infinite, according to Hamilton, can not be
thought in any determinate mode; therefore we do not think it at all,
and therefore it is for us "a logical Non-entity."

[Footnote 333: "Discussions," Appendix I. p. 567.]

[Footnote 334: "Logic," pp. 54, 55.]

It is barely conceivable that Hamilton might imagine himself possessed
of this singular power of "performing an act of negative thought"--that
is, of thinking and not thinking at once, or of "thinking something"
that "becomes nothing;" we are not conscious of any such power. To think
without an object of thought, or to think of something without any
qualities, or to think "something" which in the act of thought melts
away into "nothing," is an absurdity and a contradiction. We can not
think about nothing. All thought must have an object, and every object
must have some predicate. Even space has some predicates--as
receptivity, unity, and infinity. Thought can only be realized by
thinking something existing, and existing in a determinate manner; and
when we cease to think something having predicates, we cease to think at
all. This is emphatically asserted by Hamilton himself.[335] "Negative
thinking" is, therefore, a meaningless phrase, a contradiction in terms;
it is no thought at all. We are cautioned, however, against regarding
"the negation of thought" as "a negation of all mental ability." It is,
we are told, "an attempt to think, and a failure in the attempt." An
attempt to think about _what_? Surely it must be about some object, and
an object which is _known_ by some sign, else there can be no thought.
Let any one make the attempt to think without something to think about,
and he will find that both the process and the result are blank
nothingness. All thought, therefore, as Calderwood has amply shown, is,
must be, _positive_. "Thought is nothing else than the comparison of
objects known; and as knowledge is always positive, so must our thought
be. All knowledge implies an object _known_; and so all thought involves
an object about which we think, and must, therefore, be positive--that
is, it must embrace within itself the conception of certain qualities as
belonging to the object."[336]

[Footnote 335: "Logic," p. 55.]

[Footnote 336: "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 272.]

The conclusion of Hamilton's reasoning in regard to "negative thinking"
is, that we can form no notion of the Infinite Being. We have no
positive idea of such a Being. We can think of him only by "the thinking
away of every characteristic" which can be conceived, and thus "ceasing
to think at all." We can only form a "negative concept," which, we are
told, "is in fact no concept at all." We can form only a "negative
notion," which, we are informed, "is only the negation of a notion."
This is the impenetrable abyss of total gloom and emptiness into which
the philosophy of the conditions leads us at last.[337]

[Footnote 337: Whilst Spencer accepts the general doctrine of Hamilton,
that the Ultimate Reality is inscrutable, he argues earnestly against
his assertion that the Absolute is a "mere negation of thought."

"Every one of the arguments by which the relativity of our knowledge is
demonstrated distinctly postulates the _positive existence_ of something
beyond the relative. To say we can not know the Absolute is, by
implication, to affirm there _is_ an Absolute. In the very denial of our
power to learn _what_ the Absolute is, there lies hidden the assumption
_that_ it is; and the making of this assumption proves that the Absolute
has been present to the mind, not as nothing, but as _something_. And so
with every step in the reasoning by which the doctrine is upheld, the
Noumenon, everywhere named as the antithesis of the Phenomenon, is
throughout thought as actuality. It is rigorously impossible to conceive
that our knowledge is a knowledge of appearances only, without, at the
same time, conceiving a Reality of which these are appearances, for
appearances without reality are unthinkable.

"Truly to represent or realize in thought any one of the propositions of
which the argument consists, the unconditioned must be represented as
_positive_, and not negative. How, then, can it be a legitimate
conclusion from the argument that our consciousness of it is negative?
An argument, the very construction of which assigns to a certain term a
certain meaning, but which ends in showing that this term has no
meaning, is simply an elaborate suicide. Clearly, then, the very
demonstration that a definite consciousness [comprehension] of the
Absolute is impossible, unavoidably presupposes an indefinite
consciousness of it [an apprehension]."--"First Principles," p. 88.]

Still we have the word _infinite_, and we have _the notion_ which the
word expresses. This, at least, is spared to us by Sir William Hamilton.
He who says we have no such notion asks the question _how we have it?_
Here it may be asked, how have we, then, the word infinite? How have we
the notion which this word expresses? The answer to this question is
contained in the distinction of positive and negative thought.

We have a positive concept of a thing when we think of it by the
qualities of which it is the complement. But as the attribution of
qualities is an affirmation, as affirmation and negation are relatives,
and as relatives _are known only in and through each other_, we can not,
therefore, have a _consciousness_ of the affirmation of any quality
without having, at the same time, the _correlative consciousness_ of its
negation. Now the one consciousness is a positive, the other
consciousness is a negative notion; and as all language is the reflex of
thought, the positive and negative notions are expressed by positive and
negative names. Thus it is with the Infinite.[338] Now let us carefully
scrutinize the above deliverance. We are told that "relatives are known
only in and through each other;" that is, such relatives as _finite_ and
_infinite_ are known necessarily in the same act of thought. The
knowledge of one is as necessary as the knowledge of the other. We can
not have a consciousness of the one without the correlative
consciousness of the other. "For," says Hamilton, "a relation is, in
truth, a thought, one and indivisible; and while the thinking a relation
_necessarily involves the thought of its two terms,_, so it is, with
equal necessity, itself involved in the thought of either." If, then, we
are _conscious_ of the two terms of the relation in the same "one and
indivisible" mental act--if we can not have "the consciousness of the
one without the consciousness of the other"--if space and position, time
and succession, substance and quality, infinite and finite, are given to
us in pairs, then 'the _knowledge of one is as necessary as the
knowledge of the other,_' and they must stand or fall together. The
finite is known no more positively than the infinite; the infinite is
known as positively as the finite. The one can not be taken and the
other left. The infinite, discharged from all relation to the finite,
could never come into apprehension; and the finite, discharged of all
relation to the infinite, is incognizable too. "There can be no
objection to call the one 'positive' and the other 'negative,' provided
it be understood that _each_ is so with regard to the other, and that
the relation is convertible; the finite, for instance, being the
negative of the infinite, not less than the infinite of the

[Footnote 338: _Logic,_ p. 73.]

[Footnote 339: Martineau's "Essays," p. 237.]

To say that the finite is comprehensible in and by itself, and the
infinite is incomprehensible in and by itself, is to make an assertion
utterly at variance both with psychology and logic. The finite is no
more comprehensible _in itself_ than the infinite. "Relatives are known
only in and through each other."[340] "The conception of one term of a
relation necessarily implies that of the other, it being the very nature
of a relative to be thinkable only through the conjunct thought of its
correlative." We comprehend nothing more completely than the infinite;
"for the idea of illimitation is as clear, precise, and intelligible as
the idea of limitability, which is its basis. The propositions "A is X"
"A is not X," are equally comprehensible; the conceptions A and X are in
both cases positive data of experience, while the affirmation and
negation consist solely in the copulative or disjunctive nature of the
predication. Consequently, if X is comprehensible, so is not--X; if the
finite is comprehensible, so is the infinite."[341]

Whilst denying that the infinite can by us be _known_, Hamilton tells us
he is "far from denying that it is, must, and ought to be
_believed_."[342] "We must believe in the infinity of God."
"Faith--belief--is the organ by which we apprehend what is beyond
knowledge."[343] We heartily assent to the doctrine that the Infinite
Being is the object of faith, but we earnestly deny that the Infinite
Being is not an object of knowledge. May not knowledge be grounded upon
faith, and does not faith imply knowledge? Can we not obtain knowledge
through faith? Is not the belief in the Infinite Being implied in our
knowledge of finite existence? If so, then God as the infinite and
perfect, God as the unconditioned Cause, is not absolutely "the

[Footnote 340: Hamilton's "Logic," p. 73.]

[Footnote 341: North American Review, October, 1864, article
"Conditioned and the Unconditioned," pp. 441, 442.]

[Footnote 342: Letter to Calderwood, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 530.]

[Footnote 343: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 374.]

A full exposition of Sir William Hamilton's views of _Faith_ in its
connection with Philosophy would have been deeply interesting to us, and
it would have filled up a gap in the interpretation of his system. The
question naturally presents itself, how would he have discriminated
between faith and knowledge, so as to assign to each its province? If
our notion of the Infinite Being rests entirely upon faith, then upon
what ultimate ground does faith itself rest? On the authority of
Scripture, of the Church, or of reason? The only explicit statement of
his view which has fallen in our way is a note in his edition of
Reid.[344] "We _know_ what rests upon reason; we _believe_ what rests
upon authority. But reason itself must rest at last upon authority; for
the original data of reason do not rest upon reason, but are necessarily
accepted by reason on the authority of what is beyond itself. These data
are, therefore, in rigid propriety, Beliefs or Trusts. Thus it is that,
in the last resort, we must, per force, philosophically admit that
belief is the primary condition of reason, and not reason the ultimate
ground of belief."

[Footnote 344: P. 760; also Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, p. 61.]

Here we have, first, an attempted distinction between faith and
knowledge. "We _know_ what rests upon reason;" that is, whatever we
obtain by deduction or induction, whatever is capable of explication and
proof, is _knowledge_. "We _believe_ what rests upon authority;" that
is, whatever we obtain by intellectual intuition or pure apperception,
and is incapable of explication and of proof, is "a _belief or trust_."
These instinctive beliefs, which are, as it were, the first principles
upon which all knowledge rests, are, however, indiscriminately called by
Hamilton "cognitions," "beliefs," "judgments." He declares most
explicitly "that the principles of our knowledge must themselves be
_knowledges_;"[345] and these first principles, which are "the primary
condition of reason," are elsewhere called "_à priori cognitions_;" also
"native, pure, or transcendental _knowledge_," in contradistinction to
"_à posteriori cognitions_," or that knowledge which is obtained in the
exercise of reason.[346] All this confusion results from an attempt to
put asunder what God has joined together. As Clemens of Alexandria has
said, "Neither is faith without knowledge, nor knowledge without faith."
All faith implies knowledge, and all knowledge implies faith. They are
mingled in the one operation of the human mind, by which we apprehend
first principles or ultimate truths. These have their light and dark
side, as Hamilton has remarked. They afford enough light to show _that_
they are and must be, and thus communicate knowledge; they furnish no
light to show _how_ they are and _why_ they are, and under that aspect
demand the exercise of faith. There must, therefore, first be something
_known_ before there can be any _faith_.[347]

[Footnote 345: Ibid., p. 69.]

[Footnote 346: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 26.]

[Footnote 347: M'Cosh, "Intuitions," pp. 197, 198; Calderwood,
"Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 24.]

And now we seem to have penetrated to the centre of Hamilton's
philosophy, and the vital point may be touched by one crucial question,
_Upon what ultimate ground does faith itself rest?_ Hamilton says, "we
believe what rests upon _authority_." But what is that authority? I. It
is not the authority of Divine Revelation, because beliefs are called
"instinctive," "native," "innate," "common," "catholic,"[348] all which
terms seem to indicate that this "authority" lies within the sphere of
the human mind; at any rate, this faith does not rest on the authority
of Scripture. Neither is it the authority of Reason. "The original data
of reason [the first principles of knowledge] do not rest upon the
authority of reason, but _on the authority of what is beyond itself_."
The question thus recurs, what is this ultimate ground beyond reason
upon which faith rests? Does it rest upon any thing, or nothing?

[Footnote 348: Philosophy of Sir Wm. Hamilton, pp. 68, 69.]

The answer to this question is given in the so-called "Law of the
Conditioned," which is thus laid down: "_All that is conceivable in
thought lies between two extremes, which, as contradictory of each
other, can not both be true, but of which, as mutual contradictories,
one must_." For example, we conceive _space_, but we can not conceive it
as absolutely bounded or infinitely unbounded. We can conceive _time_,
but we can not conceive it as having an absolute commencement or an
infinite non-commencement. We can conceive of _degree_, but we can not
conceive it as absolutely limited or as infinitely unlimited. We can
conceive of _existence_, but not as an absolute part or an infinite
whole. Therefore, "the Conditioned is that which is alone conceivable or
cogitable; the Unconditioned, that which is inconceivable or
incogitable. The conditioned, or the thinkable, lies between two
extremes or poles; and each of these extremes or poles are
unconditioned, each of them inconceivable, each of them exclusive or
contradictory of the other. Of these two repugnant opposites, the one is
that of Unconditional or Absolute Limitation; the other that of
Unconditional or Infinite Illimitation, or, more simply, the Absolute
and the Infinite; the term _absolute_ expressing that which is finished
or complete, the term _infinite_ that which can not be terminated or

"The conditioned is the mean between two extremes--two inconditionates,
exclusive of each other, neither of which _can be conceived as
possible_, but of which, on the principle of contradiction, and excluded
middle, _one must be admitted as necessary_. We are thus warned from
recognizing the domain of our knowledge as necessarily co-extensive with
the horizon of our faith. And by a _wonderful revelation_, we are thus,
in the very consciousness of our inability to conceive aught above the
relative and the finite, _inspired with a belief in_ the existence of
something unconditioned beyond the sphere of all comprehensible
reality."[350] Here, then, we have found the ultimate ground of our
faith in the Infinite God. It is built upon a "mental imbecility," and
buttressed up by "contradictions!"[351]

[Footnote 349: "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 368, 374. With
Hamilton, the Unconditioned is a genus, of which the Infinite and
Absolute are species.]

[Footnote 350: "Discussions on Philosophy," p. 22.]

[Footnote 351: The warmest admirers of Sir William Hamilton hesitate to
apply the doctrine of the unconditioned to Cause and Free-will. See
"Mansel's Prolegom.," Note C, p. 265.]

Such a faith, however, is built upon the clouds, and the whole structure
of this philosophy is "a castle in the air"--an attempt to organize
Nescience into Science, and evoke something out of nothing. To pretend
to believe in that respecting which I can form no notion is in reality
not to believe at all. The nature which compels me to believe in the
Infinite must supply me some object upon which my belief can take hold.
We can not believe in contradictions. Our faith must be a rational
belief--a faith in the ultimate harmony and unity of all truth, in the
veracity and integrity of human reason as the organ of truth; and, above
all, a faith in the veracity of God, who is the author and illuminator
of our mental constitution. "We can not suppose that we are created
capable of intelligence in order to be made victims of delusion--that
God is a deceiver, and the root of our nature a lie."[352] We close our
review of Hamilton by remarking:

[Footnote 352: Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, p. 21.]

1. "The Law of the Conditioned," as enounced by Hamilton, is
contradictory. It predicates contradiction of two extremes, which are
asserted to be equally incomprehensible and incognizable. If they are
utterly incognizable, how does Hamilton _know_ that they are
contradictory? The mutual _relation_ of two objects is said to be known,
but the objects themselves are absolutely unknown. But how can we know
any relation except by an act of comparison, and how can we compare two
objects so as to affirm their relation, if the objects are absolutely
unknown? "The Infinite is defined as Unconditional Illimitation; the
Absolute as Conditional Limitation. Yet almost in the same breath we are
told that each is utterly inconceivable, each the mere negation of
thought. On the one hand, we are told they _differ_; on the other, we
are told they do _not differ_. Now which does Hamilton mean? If he
insist upon the definitions as yielding a ground of conceivable
difference, he must abandon the inconceivability; but if he insist upon
the inconceivability, he must abandon the definition as sheer verbiage,
devoid of all conceivable meaning. There is no possible escape from this
dilemma. Further, two negations can never contradict; for contradiction
is the asserting and the denying of the same proposition; two denials
can not conflict. If Illimitation is negative, Limitation, its
contradictory, is positive, whether conditional or unconditional. In
brief, if the Infinite and Absolute are wholly incomprehensible, they
are not distinguishable; but if they are distinguishable, they are not
wholly incomprehensible. If they are indistinguishable, they are to us
identical; and identity precludes contradiction. But if they are
distinguishable, distinction is made by difference, which involves
positive cognition; hence one, at least, must be conceivable. It
follows, therefore, by inexorable logic, that either the contradiction
or the inconceivability must be abandoned."[353]

[Footnote 353: North American Review, October, 1864, pp. 407, 408.]

2. "The Law of the Conditioned," as a ground of faith in the Infinite
Being, is utterly void, meaningless, and ineffectual. Let us re-state it
in Hamilton's own words: "The conditioned is the _mean_ between two
extremes, two inconditionates exclusive of each other, neither of which
_can be conceived as possible_, but of which, on the principle of
Contradiction and Excluded Middle, _one must be admitted as necessary_."
It is scarcely needful to explain to the intelligent reader the above
logical principles; that they may, however, be clearly before the mind
in this connection, we state that the principle of Contradiction is
this: "A thing can not at the same time be and not be; _A is_, _A is
not_, are propositions which can not both be true at once." The
principle of Excluded Middle is this: "A thing either is or is not--_A
either is or is not B_; there is no _medium_."[354] Now, to mention the
law of Excluded Middle and two contradictories with a _mean_ between
them, in the same sentence, is really astounding. "If the two
contradictory extremes are equally incogitable, yet include a cogitable
mean, why insist upon the necessity of accepting either extreme? This
necessity of accepting one of the contradictories is wholly based upon
the supposed impossibility of a _mean_; if a mean exists, _that_ may be
true, and both contradictories together false. But if a mean between two
contradictories be both impossible and absurd, Hamilton's 'conditioned'
entirely vanishes."[355] If both contradictories are equally unknown and
equally unthinkable, we can not discover _why_, on his principles, we
are bound to believe _either_.

[Footnote 354: Hamilton's "Logic," pp. 58, 59; "Metaphysics," vol. ii.
p. 368.]

[Footnote 355: North British Review, October, 1864, pp. 415, 416.]

3. The whole of this confusion in thought and expression results from
the habit of confounding the sensuous imagination with the non-sensuous
reason, and the consequent co-ordination of an imageable conception with
an abstract idea. The objects of sense and the sensuous imagination may
be characterized as extension, limitation, figure, position, etc.; the
objects of the non-sensuous reason may be characterized as universality,
eternity, infinity. I can form an _image_ of an extended and figured
object, but I can not form an _image_ of space, time, or God; neither,
indeed, can I form an image of Goodness, Justice, or Truth. But I can
have a clear and precise idea of space, and time, and God, as I can of
Justice, Goodness, and Truth. There are many things which I can most
surely _know_ that I can not possibly _comprehend_, if to comprehend is
to form a mental image of a thing. There is nothing which I more
certainly know than that space is infinite, and eternity unbeginning and
endless; but I can not comprehend the infinity of space or the
illimitability of eternity. I know that God is, that he is a being of
infinite perfection, but I can not throw my thoughts around and
comprehend the infinity of God.

(iv.) We come, lastly, to consider the position of the _Dogmatic
Theologians_.[356] In their zeal to demonstrate the necessity of Divine
Revelation, and to vindicate for it the honor of supplying to us all our
knowledge of God, they assail every fundamental principle of reason,
often by the very weapons which are supplied by an Atheistical
philosophy. As a succinct presentation of the views of this school, we
select the "_Theological Institutes_" of R. Watson.

[Footnote 356: Ellis, Leland, Locke, and Horsley, whose writings are
extensively quoted in Watson's "Institutes of Theology" (reprinted by
Carlton & Lanahan, New York).]

1st. The invalidity of "_the principle of causality_" is asserted by
this author. "We allow that the argument which proves that the _effects_
with which we are surrounded have been _caused_, and thus leads us up
through a chain of subordinate causes to one First Cause, has a
simplicity, an obviousness, and a force which, when we are previously
furnished with the idea of God, makes it, at first sight, difficult to
conceive that men, under any degree of cultivation, should be inadequate
to it; yet if ever the human mind commenced such an inquiry at all, it
is highly probable that it would rest in the notion of an _eternal
succession of causes and effects_, rather than acquire the ideas of
creation, in the proper sense, and of a Supreme Creator."[357] "We feel
that our reason rests with full satisfaction in the doctrine that all
things are created by one eternal and self-existent Being; but the Greek
philosophers held that matter was eternally co-existent with God. This
was the opinion of Plato, who has been called the Moses of

For a defense of "the principle of causality" we must refer the reader
to our remarks on the philosophy of Comte. We shall now only remark on
one or two peculiarities in the above statement which betray an utter
misapprehension of the nature of the argument. We need scarcely direct
attention to the unfortunate and, indeed, absurd phrase, "an eternal
succession of causes and effects." An "eternal succession" is a
_contradictio in adjecto_, and as such inconceivable and unthinkable. No
human mind can "rest" in any such thing, because an eternal succession
is no rest at all. All "succession" is finite and temporal, capable of
numeration, and therefore can not be eternal.[359] Again, in attaining
the conception of a First Cause the human mind does not pass up "through
a chain of subordinate causes," either definite or indefinite, "to one
First Cause."

[Footnote 357: Watson's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 273.]

[Footnote 358: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 21.]

[Footnote 359: See _ante_, pp. 181, 182, ch. v.]

Let us re-state the principle of causality as a universal and necessary
law of thought. "_All phenomena present themselves to us as the
expression of_ POWER, and refer us to a causal ground whence they
issue." That "power" is intuitively and spontaneously apprehended by the
human mind as Supreme and Ultimate--"the causal ground" is a personal
God. All the phenomena of nature present themselves to us as "effects,"
and we know nothing of "subordinate causes" except as modes of the
Divine Efficiency.[360] The principle of causality compels us to think
causation behind nature, and under causation to think of Volition.
"Other forces we have no sort of ground for believing; or, except by
artifices of abstraction, even power of conceiving. The dynamic idea is
either this or nothing; and the logical alternative assuredly is that
nature is either a mere Time-march of phenomena or an expression of
Mind."[361] The true doctrine of philosophy, of science, and of
revelation is not simply that God did create "in the beginning," but
that he still creates. All the operations of Nature are the operations
of the Divine Mind. "Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return
to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou
renewest the face of the earth."[362]

[Footnote 360: The modern doctrine of the Correlation and Homogenity of
all Forces clearly proves that they are not many, but _one_--"a dynamic
self-identity masked by transmigration."--Martineau's "Essays," pp.

[Footnote 361: Martineau's "Essays," pp. 140, 141.]

[Footnote 362: Psalm civ.]

The assertion that Plato taught "the eternity of matter," and that
consequently he did not arrive at the idea of a Supreme and Ultimate
Cause, is incapable of proof. The term ὕλη=matter does not occur in the
writings of Plato, or, indeed, of any of his predecessors, and is
peculiarly Aristotelian. The ground of the world of sense is called by
Plato "the receptacle" (ὑποδοχή), "the nurse" (τιθήνη) of all that is
produced, and was apparently identified, in his mind, with _pure
space_--a logical rather than a physical entity--the mere negative
condition and medium of Divine manifestation. He never regards it as a
"cause," or ascribes to it any efficiency. We grant that he places this
very indefinite something (ὁποιονοῦν τι) out of the sphere of temporal
origination; but it must be borne in mind that he speaks of "creation in
eternity" as well as of "creation in time;" and of time itself, though
created, as "an eternal image of the generating Father."[363] This one
thing, at any rate, can not be denied, that Plato recognizes creation in
its fullest sense as the act of God.

The admission that something has always existed besides the Deity, as a
mere logical condition of the exercise of divine power (_e.g._, space),
would not invalidate the argument for the existence of God. The proof of
the Divine Existence, as Chalmers has shown, does not rest on the
existence of matter, but on the orderly arrangement of matter; and the
grand question of Theism is not whether the _matter of the world_, but
whether the _present order of the world_ had a commencement.[364]

2d. Doubt is cast by our author upon the validity of "_the principle of
the Unconditioned or the Infinite_." "Supposing it were conceded that
some faint glimmering of this great truth [the existence of a First
Cause] might, by induction, have been discovered by contemplative minds,
by what means could they have _demonstrated_ to themselves that he is
eternal, self-existent, immortal, and independent?"[365] "Between things
visible and invisible, time and eternity, beings finite and beings
infinite, objects of sense and objects of faith, _the connection is not
perceptible_ to human observation. Though we push our researches,
therefore, to the extreme point whither the light of nature can carry
us, they will in the end be abruptly terminated, and we must stop short
at an immeasurable distance between the creature and the Creator."[366]

[Footnote 363: Plato, "Timæus," § xiv.]

[Footnote 364: Chalmers's "Natural Theology," bk. i. ch. v.; also
Mahan's "Natural Theology," pp. 21-23.]

[Footnote 365: Watson's "Institutes of Theol.," vol. i. p. 274.]

[Footnote 366: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 273.]

To this assertion that the connection of things visible and things
invisible, finite and infinite, objects of sense and objects of faith,
is utterly imperceptible to human thought, we might reply by quoting the
words of that Sacred Book whose supreme authority our author is seeking,
by this argument, to establish. "The _invisible_ things of God, even his
eternal power and god-head, from the creation, are clearly _seen_, being
_understood by the things which are made_." We may also point to the
fact that in every age and in every land the human mind has
spontaneously and instinctively recognized the existence of an invisible
Power and Presence pervading nature and controlling the destinies of
man, and that religious worship--prayer, and praise, and
sacrifice--offered to that unseen yet omnipresent Power is an universal
fact of human nature. The recognition of an _immediate_ and a
_necessary_ "connection" between the visible and the invisible, the
objects of sense and the objects of faith, is one of the most obvious
facts of consciousness--of universal consciousness as revealed in
history, and of individual consciousness as developed in every rational

That this connection is "not perceptible to human observation," if by
this our author means "not perceptible to sense," we readily admit. No
one ever asserted it was perceptible to human observation. We say that
this connection is perceptible to human _reason_, and is revealed in
every attempt to think about, and seek an explanation of, the phenomenal
world. The Phenomenal and the Real, Genesis and Being, Space and
Extension, Succession and Duration, Time and Eternity, the Finite and
the Infinite, are correlatives which are given in one and the same
indivisible act of thought. "The conception of one term of a relation
necessarily implies that of the other; it being the very nature of a
correlative to be thinkable only through the conjunct thought of its
correlative; for a relation is, in truth, a thought one and indivisible;
and whilst the thinking of one relation necessarily involves the thought
of its two terms, so it is, with equal necessity, itself involved in the
thought of either."[367] Finite, dependent, contingent, temporal
existence, therefore, necessarily supposes infinite, self-existent,
independent, eternal Being; the Conditioned and Relative implies the
Unconditioned and Absolute--one is known only in and through the other.
But inasmuch as the unconditioned is cognized solely _à priori_, and the
conditioned solely _à posteriori_, the recognition by the human mind of
their necessary correlation becomes the bridge whereby the chasm between
the subjective and the objective may be spanned, and whereby Thought may
be brought face to face with Existence.

[Footnote 367: Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 536, 537.]

The reverence which, from boyhood, we have entertained for the
distinguished author of the "Institutes" restrains us from speaking in
adequate terms of reprobation of the statement that "the _First Cause_"
may be known, and yet not conceived "as eternal, self-existent,
immortal, and independent". Surely that which is the ground and reason
of all existence must have the ground and reason of its own existence in
itself. That which is _first_ in the order of existence, and in the
logical order of thought, can have nothing prior to itself. If the
supposed First Cause is not necessarily self-existent and independent,
it is not the _first_; if it has a dependent existence, there must be a
prior being on which it depends. If the First Cause is not eternal, then
prior to this Ultimate Cause there was nothingness and vacuity, and pure
nothing, by its own act, became something. But "_Ex nihilo nihil_" is a
universal law of thought. To ask the question whether the First Cause be
self-existent and eternal, is, in effect, to ask the question "who made
God?" and this is not the question of an adult theologian, but of a
little child. Surely Mr. Watson must have penned the above passage
without any reflection on its real import[368].

[Footnote 368: In an article on "the Impending Revolution in Anglo-Saxon
Theology" Methodist Quarterly Review, (July, 1863), Dr. Warren seems to
take it for granted that the "aiteological" and "teleological" arguments
for the existence of God are utterly invalidated by the Dynamical theory
of matter. "Once admit that _real power_ can and does reside in matter,
and all these reasonings fail. If inherent forces of matter are
competent to the production of all the innumerable miracles of movement
in the natural world, what is there in the natural world which they can
not produce. If all _the exertions of power_ in the universe can be
accounted for without resort to something back of, and superior to,
nature, what is there which can force the mind to such a resort?" (p.
463). "Having granted that _power_, or _self-activity_, is a natural
attribute of all matter, what right have we to deny it _intelligence_?"
(p. 465). "_Self-moving matter must have thought and design_" (p. 469).

It is not our intention to offer an extended criticism of the above
positions in this note. We shall discuss "the Dynamical theory" more
fully in a subsequent work. If the theory apparently accepted by Dr.
Warren be true, that "_the ultimate atoms of matter are as uniformly
efficient as minds_, and that we have the same ground to regard the
force exerted by the one _innate_ and _natural_ as that exerted by the
other" (p. 464), then we grant that the conclusions of Dr. Warren, as
above stated, are unavoidable. We proceed one step farther, and boldly
assert that the existence of God is, on this hypothesis, incapable of
proof, and the only logical position Dr. Warren can occupy is that of
spiritualistic Pantheism.

Dr. Warren asserts that "the Dynamical theory of matter" is now
generally accepted by "Anglo-Saxon _naturalists_." "One can scarcely
open a scientific treatise without observing the altered stand-point"
(p. 160). We confess that we are disappointed with Dr. Warren's
treatment of this simple question of fact. On so fundamental an issue,
the Doctor ought to have given the name of at least _one_ "naturalist"
who asserts that "the ultimate atoms of matter are as uniformly
efficient as minds." Leibnitz, Morrell, Ulrici, Hickok, the authorities
quoted by him, are metaphysicians and idealists of the extremest school.
At present we shall, therefore, content ourselves with a general denial
of this wholesale statement of Dr. Warren; and we shall sustain that
denial by a selection from the many authorities we shall hereafter
present. "No particle of matter possesses within itself the power of
changing its existing state of motion or of rest. Matter has no
spontaneous power either of rest or motion, but is equally susceptible
to each as it may be acted on by _external_ causes" (Silliman's
"Principles of Physics," p. 13). The above proposition is "a truth on
which the whole science of mechanical philosophy ultimately depends"
(Encyclopædia Britannica, art. "Dynamics," vol. viii. p. 326). "A
material substance existing alone in the universe could not produce any
effects. There is not, so far as we know, a self-acting material
substance in the universe" (M'Cosh, "Divine Government, Physical and
Moral," p. 78). "Perhaps the only true indication of matter is
_inertia_." "The cause of gravitation is _not resident_ in the particles
of matter merely," but also "_in all space_" (Dr. Faraday on
"Conservation of Force," in "Correlation and Conservation of Force." (p.
368). He also quotes with approbation the words of Newton, "That gravity
should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, is so great an
absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophic matters a
competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it" p. 368). "The
'force of gravity' is an improper expression" (p. 340). "Forces are
transformable, indestructible, and, _in contradistinction from matter_,
imponderable" (p. 346). "The first cause of things is Deity" (Dr. Mayer,
in "Correlation and Conservation of Force," p. 341). "Although the word
_cause_ may be used in a secondary and subordinate sense, as meaning
antecedent forces, yet in an abstract sense it is totally inapplicable;
we can not predicate of any physical agent that it is abstractedly the
cause of another" (p. 15). "Causation is the _will_," "creation is the
act, of God" Grove on "Correlation of Physical Forces," (p. 199).
"Between gravity and motion it is impossible to establish the equation
required for a rightly-conceived _causal_ relation" ("Correlation and
Conservation of Force," p. 253). See also Herschel's "Outlines of
Astronomy," p. 234.

It certainly must have required a wonderful effort of imagination on the
part of Dr. Warren to transform "weight" and "density," mere passive
affections of matter, into self-activity, intelligence, thought, and
design. Weight or density are merely relative terms. Supposing one
particle or mass of matter to exist alone, and there can be no
attractive or gravitating force. There must be a cause of gravity which
is distinct from matter.]

3d. The validity of "_the principle of unity_" is also discredited by
Watson. "If, however, it were conceded that some glimmerings of this
great truth, the existence of a First Cause, might, by induction, have
been discovered, by what means could they have demonstrated to
themselves that the great collection of bodies which we call the world
had but _one_ Creator."[369]

[Footnote 369: "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 275.]

We might answer directly, and at once, that the oneness or unity of God
is necessarily contained in "the very notion of a First Cause"--a
_first_ cause is not many causes, but _one_. By a First Cause we do not,
however, understand the first of a numerical series, but an ἀρχή--a
principle, itself unbeginning, which is the source of all beginning. Our
categorical answer, therefore, must be that the unity of God is a
sublime deliverance of reason--God is one God. It is a first principle
of reason that all differentiation and plurality supposes an incomposite
unity, all diversity implies an indivisible identity. The sensuous
perception of a plurality of parts supposes the rational idea of an
absolute unity, which has no parts, as its necessary correlative. For
example, extension is a congeries of indefinitesimal parts; the
continuity of matter, as _empirically_ known by us, is never absolute.
Space is absolutely continuous, incapable of division into integral
parts, illimitable, and, as _rationally_ known by us, an absolute unity.
The cognition of limited extension, which is the subject of quantitative
measurement, involves the conception of unlimited space, which is the
negation of all plurality and complexity of parts. And so the cognition
of a phenomenal universe in which we see only difference, plurality, and
change, implies the existence of a Being who is absolutely unchangeable,
identical, and one.

This law of thought lies at the basis of that universal desire of unity,
and that universal effort to reduce all our knowledge to unity, which
has revealed itself in the history of philosophy, and also of inductive
science. "Reason, intellect, νοῦς, concatenating thoughts and objects
into system, and tending upward from particular facts to general laws,
from general laws to universal principles, is never satisfied in its
ascent till it comprehends all laws in a single formula, and consummates
all conditional knowledge in the unity of unconditional existence." "The
history of philosophy is only the history of this tendency, and
philosophers have borne ample testimony to its reality. 'The mind,' says
Anaxagoras, 'only knows when it subdues its objects, when it reduces the
many to the one.' 'The end of philosophy,' says Plato, 'is the intuition
of unity.' 'All knowledge,' say the Platonists, 'is the gathering up
into one, and the indivisible apprehension of this unity by the knowing

[Footnote 370: Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. pp. 68, 69.]

This law has been the guiding principle of the Inductive Sciences, and
has led to some of its most important discoveries. The unity which has
been attained in physical science is not, however, the absolute unity of
a material substratum, but a unity of _Will_ and of _Thought_. The late
discovery of the monogenesis, reciprocal convertibility, and
indestructibility of all Forces in nature, leads us upward towards the
recognition of one Omnipresent and Omnipotent Will, which, like a mighty
tide, sweeps through the universe and effects all its changes. The
universal prevalence of the same physical laws and numerical relations
throughout all space, and of the same archetypal forms and teleology of
organs throughout all past time, reveals to us a Unity of Thought which
grasps the entire details of the universe in one comprehensive
plan.[371] The positive _à priori_ intuitions of reason and the _à
posteriori_ inductions of science equally attest _that God is one_.

[Footnote 371: We refer with pleasure to the articles of Dr. Winchell,
in the North-western Christian Advocate, in which the _à posteriori_
proof of "the Unity of God" is forcibly exhibited, and take occasion to
express the hope they will soon be presented to the public in a more
permanent form.]

4th. By denying that man has any intuitive cognitions of right and
wrong, or any native and original feeling of obligation, Mr. Watson
invalidates "the moral argument" for the existence of a Righteous God.

"As far as man's reason has applied itself to the discovery of truth or
_duty_ it has generally gone astray."[372] "Questions of morals do not,
for the most part, lie level to the minds of the populace."[373] "Their
conclusions have no _authority_, and place them under no
_obligation_."[374] And, indeed, man without a revelation "is without
_moral control_, without _principles of justice_, except such as may be
slowly elaborated from those relations which concern the grosser
interests of life, without _conscience_, without hope or fear in another

[Footnote 372: "Institutes of Theology," vol. ii. p. 470.]

[Footnote 373: Ibid., vol. i. p. 15.]

[Footnote 374: Ibid., vol. i. p. 228.]

[Footnote 375: Ibid., vol. ii. p. 271.]

Now we shall not occupy our space in the elaboration of the proposition
that the universal consciousness of our race, as revealed in human
history, languages, legislations, and sentiments, bears testimony to the
fact that the ideas of right, duty, and responsibility are native to the
human mind; we shall simply make our appeal to those Sacred Writings
whose verdict must be final with all theologians. That the fundamental
principles of the moral law do exist, subjectively, in all human minds
is distinctly affirmed by Paul, in a passage which deserves to be
regarded as the chief corner-stone of moral science. "The Gentiles
(ἔθνη, heathen), which have not the written law, do by the guidance of
nature (reason or conscience) the works enjoined by the revealed law;
these, having no written law, are a law unto themselves; who show
plainly the works of the law written on their hearts, their conscience
bearing witness, and also their reasonings one with another, when they
accuse, or else excuse, each other."[376] To deny this is to relegate
the heathen from all responsibility. For Mr. Watson admits "that the
will of a superior is not in justice binding unless it be in some mode
sufficiently declared." Now in the righteous adjudgments of revelation
the heathen are "without excuse." The will of God must, therefore, be
"sufficiently declared" to constitute them accountable. Who will presume
to say that the shadowy, uncertain, variable, easily and unavoidably
corrupted medium of tradition running through forty muddy centuries is a
"sufficient declaration of the will of God?" The law is "written on the
heart" of every man, or all men are not accountable.

[Footnote 376: Romans, ch. ii. ver. 14-15.]

Now this "law written within the heart" immediately and naturally
suggests the idea of a Lawgiver who is over us. This felt presence of
Conscience, approving or condemning our conduct, suggests, as with the
speed of the lightning-flash, the notion of a Judge who will finally
call us to account. This "accusing or excusing of each other," this
recognition of good or ill desert, points us to, and constrains us to
recognize, a future Retribution; so that some hope or fear of another
life has been in all ages a universal phenomenon of humanity.

It is affirmed, however, that whilst this capacity to know God may have
been an original endowment of human nature, yet, in consequence of the
fall, "the understanding and reason are weakened by the deterioration of
his whole intellectual nature."[377] "Without some degree of education,
man is _wholly_ the creature of appetite. Labor, feasting, and sleeping
divide his time, and wholly occupy his thoughts."[378]

[Footnote 377: "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 15.]

[Footnote 378: Ibid., vol. i. p. 271.]

We reverently and believingly accept the teaching of Scripture as to the
depravity of man. We acknowledge that "the understanding is darkened" by
sin. At the same time, we earnestly maintain that the Scriptures do not
teach that the fundamental laws of mind, the first principles of reason,
are utterly traversed and obliterated by sin, so that man is not able to
recognize the existence of God, and feel his obligation to Him. "_Though
they_(the heathen) _knew God_ (διότι γνόντες), they did not glorify him
as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imagination, and
their foolish hearts were darkened. They changed the truth of God into a
lie, and worshipped and served the creature _more_ than the Creator."
"And as they did not _approve of holding God with acknowledgment_, God
delivered them over to an unapproving mind, to work those things which
are not suitable." After drawing a fearful picture of the darkness and
depravity of the heathen, the Apostle adds, "Who, _though they_ KNOW
_the law of God_, that they who practise such things are worthy of
death, not only do them, but even are well pleased with those who
practise them."[379] The obvious and direct teaching of this passage is
that the heathen, in the midst of their depravity and idolatry, are not
utterly ignorant of God; "they _know_ God"--"they _know_ the law of God
"--"they worship Him," though they worship the creature _more than_ Him.
They know God, and are unwilling to "acknowledge God." "They know the
righteousness of God," and are "haters of God" on account of his purity;
and their worshipping of idols does not proceed from ignorance of God,
from an intellectual inability to know God, but from "corruption of
heart," and a voluntary choice of, and a "pleasure" in, the sinful
practices accompanying idol worship. Therefore, argues the Apostle, they
are "without excuse." The whole drift and aim of the argument of Paul
is, not to show that the heathen were, by their depravity, incapacitated
to know God, but that because they knew God and knew his righteous law,
therefore their depravity and licentiousness was "inexcusable."

[Footnote 379: Romans, ch. i. ver. 23-32.]

We conclude our review of opposing schools by the re-affirmation of our
position, _that God is cognizable by human reason._ The human mind,
under the guidance of necessary laws of thought, is able, from the facts
of the universe, to affirm the existence of God, and to attain some
valid knowledge of his character and will. Every attempt to solve the
great problem of existence, to offer an explanation of the phenomenal
world, or to explore the fundamental idea of reason, when fairly and
fully conducted, has resulted in the recognition of a Supreme
_Intelligence_, a personal _Mind_ and _Will_, as the ground, and reason,
and cause of all existence. A survey of the history of Greek Philosophy
will abundantly sustain this position, and to this we shall, in
subsequent chapters, invite the reader's attention.





      "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the
      Stoics encountered Paul."--Acts xvii. 18.

      "Plato affirms that this is the most just cause of the
      creation of the world, that works which are good should be
      wrought by the God who is good; whether he had read these
      things in the Bible, or whether by his penetrating genius he
      beheld _the invisible things of God as understood by the
      things which are made_"--ST. AUGUSTINE, "De Civ. Dei," lib.
      xi. ch. 21.

Of all the monuments of the greatness of Athens which have survived the
changes and the wastes of time, the most perfect and the most enduring
is her philosophy. The Propylæa, the Parthenon, and the Erechtheum,
those peerless gems of Grecian architecture, are now in ruins. The
magnificent sculpture of Phidias, which adorned the pediment, and outer
cornice, and inner frieze of these temples, and the unrivalled statuary
of gods and heroes which crowded the platform of the Acropolis, making
it an earthly Olympus, are now no more, save a few broken fragments
which have been carried to other lands, and, in their exile, tell the
mournful story of the departed grandeur of their ancient home. The
brazen statue of Minerva, cast from the spoils of Marathon, which rose
in giant grandeur above the buildings of the Acropolis, and the flashing
of whose helmet plumes was seen by the mariner as soon as he had rounded
the Sunian promontory; and that other brazen Pallas, called, by
pre-eminence, "the Beautiful;" and the enormous Colossus of ivory and of
gold, "the Immortal Maid"--the protecting goddess of the
Parthenon--these have perished. But whilst the fingers of time have
crumbled the Pentelic marble, and the glorious statuary has been broken
to pieces by vandal hands, and the gold and brass have been melted in
the crucibles of needy monarchs and converted into vulgar money, the
philosophic _thought_ of Athens, which culminated in the dialectic of
Plato, still survives. Not one of all the vessels, freighted with
immortal thought, which Plato launched upon the stream of time, has
foundered. And after the vast critical movement of European thought
during the past two centuries, in which all philosophic systems have
been subjected to the severest scrutiny, the _method_ of Plato still
preserves, if not its exclusive authority unquestioned, at least its
intellectual pre-eminence unshaken. "Platonism is immortal, because its
principles are immortal in the human intellect and heart."[380]

[Footnote 380: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

Philosophy is, then, the world-enduring monument of the greatness and
the glory of Athens. Whilst Greece will be forever memorable as "the
country of wisdom and of wise men," Athens will always be pre-eminently
memorable as the University of Greece. This was the home of Socrates,
and Plato, and Aristotle--the three imperial names which, for twenty
centuries, reigned supreme in the world of philosophic thought. Here
schools of philosophy were founded to which students were attracted from
every part of the civilized world, and by which an impulse and a
direction was given to human thought in every land and in every age.
Standing on the Acropolis at Athens, and looking over the city and the
open country, the Apostle would see these _places_ which are inseparably
associated with the names of the men who have always been recognized as
the great teachers of the pagan world, and who have also exerted a
powerful influence upon Christian minds of every age. "In opposite
directions he would see the suburbs where Plato and Aristotle, the two
pupils of Socrates, held their illustrious schools. The streamless bed
of the Ilissus passes between the Acropolis and Hymettus in a
south-westerly direction, until it vanishes in the low ground which
separates the city from the Piræus." Looking towards the upper part of
this channel, Paul would see gardens of plane-trees and thickets of
angus-castus, "with other torrent-loving shrubs of Greece." Near the
base of Lycabettus was a sacred inclosure which Pericles had ornamented
with fountains. Here stood a statue of Apollo Lycius, which gave the
name to the _Lyceum_. Here, among the plane-trees, Aristotle _walked_,
and, as he walked, taught his disciples. Hence the name Peripatetics
(the Walkers), which has always designated the disciples of the
Stagirite philosopher.

On the opposite side of the city, the most beautiful of the Athenian
suburbs, we have the scene of Plato's teaching. Beyond the outer
Ceramicus, which was crowded with the sepulchres of those Athenians who
had fallen in battle, and were buried at the public expense, the eye of
Paul would rest on the favored stream of the Cephisus, flowing towards
the west. On the banks of this stream the _Academy_ was situated. A
wall, built at great expense by Hipparchus, surrounded it, and Cimon
planted long avenues of trees and erected fountains. Beneath the
plane-trees which shaded the numerous walks there assembled the
master-spirits of the age. This was the favorite resort of poets and
philosophers. Here the divine spirit of Plato poured forth its sublimest
speculations in streams of matchless eloquence; and here he founded a
school which was destined to exert a powerful and perennial influence on
human minds and hearts in all coming time.

Looking down from the Acropolis upon the Agora, Paul would distinguish a
cloister or colonnade. This is the Stoa Pœcile, or "Painted Porch," so
called because its walls were decorated with fresco paintings of the
legendary wars of Greece, and the more glorious struggle at Marathon. It
was here that Zeno first opened that celebrated school which thence
received the name of _Stoic_. The site of the _garden_ where Epicurus
taught is now unknown. It was no doubt within the city walls, and not
far distant from the Agora. It was well known in the time of Cicero, who
visited Athens as a student little more than a century before the
Apostle. It could not have been forgotten in the time of Paul. In this
"tranquil garden," in the society of his friends, Epicurus passed a life
of speculation and of pleasure. His disciples were called, after him,
the Epicureans.[381]

[Footnote 381: See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St.
Paul," vol. i., Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy;" and
Encyclopædia Britannica, article, "Athens," from whence our materials
for the description of these "places" are mainly derived.]

Here, then, in Athens the Apostle was brought into immediate contact
with all the phases of philosophic thought which had appeared in the
ancient world. "Amongst those who sauntered beneath the cool shadows of
the plane-trees in the Agora, and gathered in knots under the porticoes,
eagerly discussing the questions of the day, were the philosophers, in
the garb of their several sects, ready for any new question on which
they might exercise their subtlety or display their rhetoric." If there
were any in that motley group who cherished the principles and retained
the spirit of the true Platonic school, we may presume they felt an
inward intellectual sympathy with the doctrine enounced by Paul. With
Plato, "philosophy was only another name for _religion_: philosophy is
the love of perfect Wisdom; perfect Wisdom and perfect Goodness are
identical: the perfect Good is God himself; philosophy is the love of
God."[382] He confessed the need of divine assistance to attain "the
good," and of divine interposition to deliver men from moral ruin.[383]
Like Socrates, he longed for a supernatural--a divine light to guide
him, and he acknowledged his need thereof continually.[384] He was one
of those who, in heathen lands, waited for "the desire of nations;" and,
had he lived in Christian times, no doubt his "spirit of faith" would
have joyfully "embraced the Saviour in all the completeness of his
revelation and advent."[385] And in so far as the spirit of Plato
survived among his disciples, we may be sure they were not among the
number who "mocked," and ridiculed, and opposed the "new doctrine"
proclaimed by Paul. It was "the philosophers of the Epicureans and of
the Stoics who _encountered_ Paul." The leading tenets of both these
sects were diametrically opposed to the doctrines of Christianity. The
ruling spirit of each was alien from the spirit of Christ. The haughty
_pride_ of the Stoic, the Epicurean abandonment to _pleasure_, placed
them in direct antagonism to him who proclaimed the crucified and risen
Christ to be "_the wisdom_ of God."

[Footnote 382: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 383: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. vi. vii.]

[Footnote 384: Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 362.]

[Footnote 385: Wheedon on "The Will," p. 352; also Butler's "Lectures,"
vol. ii. p. 252]

If, however, we would justly appreciate the relation of pagan philosophy
to Christian truth, we must note that, when Paul arrived in Athens, the
age of Athenian glory had passed away. Not only had her national
greatness waned, and her national spirit degenerated, but her
intellectual power exhibited unmistakable signs of exhaustion, and
weakness, and decay. If philosophy had borne any fruit, of course that
fruit remained. If, in the palmy days of Athenian greatness, any field
of human inquiry had been successfully explored; if human reason had
achieved any conquests; if any thing true and good had been obtained,
that must endure as an heir-loom for all coming time; and if those
centuries of agonizing wrestlings with nature, and of ceaseless
questioning of the human heart, had yielded no results, then, at least,
the _lesson_ of their failure and defeat remained for the instruction of
future generations. Either the problems they sought to solve were proved
to be insoluble, or their methods of solution were found to be
inadequate; for here the mightiest minds had grappled with the great
problems of being and of destiny. Here vigorous intellects had struggled
to pierce the darkness which hangs alike over the beginning and the end
of human existence. Here profoundly earnest men had questioned nature,
reason, antiquity, oracles, in the hope they might learn something of
that invisible world of _real_ being which they instinctively felt must
lie beneath the world of fleeting forms and ever-changing appearances.
Here philosophy had directed her course towards every point in the
compass of thought, and touched every _accessible_ point. The sun of
human reason had reached its zenith, and illuminated every field that
lay within the reach of human ken. And this sublime era of Greek
philosophy is of inestimable value to us who live in Christian times,
because _it is an exhaustive effort of human reason to solve the problem
of being_, and in its history we have a record of the power and weakness
of the human mind, at once on the grandest scale and in the fairest

[Footnote 386: See article "Philosophy," in Smith's "Dictionary of the

These preliminary considerations will have prepared the way for, and
awakened in our minds a profound interest in, the inquiry--1st. What
permanent _results_ has Greek philosophy bequeathed to the world? 2d. In
what manner did Greek philosophy fulfill for Christianity a
_propœdeutic_ office?

It will at once be obvious, even to those who are least conversant with
our theme, that it would be fruitless to attempt the answer to these
important questions before we have made a careful survey of the entire
history of philosophic thought in Greece. We must have a clear and
definite conception of the problems they sought to solve, and we must
comprehend their methods of inquiry, before we can hope to appreciate
the results they reached, or determine whether they did arrive at any
definite and valuable conclusions. It will, therefore, devolve upon us
to present a brief and yet comprehensive epitome of the history of
Grecian speculative thought.

"_Philosophy_," says Cousin, "_is reflection_, and nothing else than
reflection, in a vast form"--"Reflection elevated to the rank and
authority of a _method_." It is the mind looking back upon its own
sensations, perceptions, cognitions, ideas, and from thence to the
_causes_ of these sensations, cognitions, and ideas. It is thought
passing beyond the simple perceptions of things, beyond the mere
spontaneous operations of the mind in the cognition of things to seek
the _ground_, and _reason_, and _law_ of things. It is the effort of
reason to solve the great problem of "Being and Becoming," of appearance
and reality, of the changeful and the permanent. Beneath the endless
diversity of the universe, of existence and action, there must be a
principle of unity; below all fleeting appearances there must be a
permanent substance; beyond this everlasting flow and change, this
beginning and ending of finite existence, there must be an _eternal
being_, the source and cause of all we see and know, _What is that
principle of unity, that permanent substance_, or principle, or being?

This fundamental question has assumed three separate forms or aspects in
the history of philosophy. These forms have been determined by the
objective phenomena which most immediately arrested and engaged the
attention of men. If external nature has been the chief object of
attention, then the problem of philosophy has been, _What is the
ἀρχή--_the beginning; what are the first principles_--the elements from
which, the ideas or laws according to which, the efficient cause or
energy by which, and the reason or end for which the universe exists?_
During this period reflective thought was a PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE. If the
phenomena of mind--the opinions, beliefs, judgments of men--are the
chief object of attention, then the problem of philosophy has been,
_What are the fundamental Ideas which are unchangeable and permanent
amid all the diversities of human opinions, connecting appearance with
reality, and constituting a ground of certain knowledge or absolute
truth?_ Reflective thought is now a PHILOSOPHY OF IDEAS. Then, lastly,
if the practical activities of life and the means of well-being be the
grand object of attention, then the problem of philosophy has been,
_What is the ultimate standard by which, amid all the diversities of
human conduct, we may determine what is right and good in individual,
social, and political life?_ And now reflective thought is a PHILOSOPHY
OF LIFE. These are the grand problems with which philosophy has grappled
ever since the dawn of reflection. They all appear in Greek philosophy,
and have a marked chronology. As systems they succeed each other, just
as rigorously as the phenomena of Greek civilization.

The Greek schools of philosophy have been classified from various points
of view. In view of their geographical relations, they have been divided
into the _Ionian_, the _Italian_, the _Eleatic_, the _Athenian_, and the
_Alexandrian_. In view of their prevailing spirit and tendency, they
have been classified by Cousin as the Sensational, the Idealistic, the
Skeptical, and the Mystical. The most natural and obvious method is that
which (regarding Socrates as the father of Greek philosophy in the
truest sense) arranges all schools from the Socratic stand point, and
therefore in the chronological order of development:


The history of philosophy is thus divided into three grand epochs. The
first reaching from Thales to the time of Socrates (B.C. 639-469): the
second from the birth of Socrates to the death of Aristotle (B.C.
469-322); the third from the death of Aristotle to the Christian era
(B.C. 322, A.D. 1). Greek philosophy during the first period was almost
exclusively a philosophy of nature; during the second period, a
philosophy of mind; during the last period, a philosophy of life.
Nature, man, and society complete the circle of thought. Successive
systems, of course, overlap each other, both in the order of time and as
subjects of human speculation; and the results of one epoch of thought
are transmitted to and appropriated by another; but, in a general sense,
the order of succession has been very much as here indicated. Setting
aside minor schools and merely incidental discussions, and fixing our
attention on the general aspects of each historic period, we shall
discover that the first period was eminently _Physical_, the second
_Psychological_, the last _Ethical_. Every stage of progress which
reason, on _à priori_ grounds, would suggest as the natural order of
thought, or of which the development of an individual mind would furnish
an analogy, had a corresponding realization in the development of
Grecian thought from the time of Thales to the Christian era. "Thought,"
says Cousin, "in the first trial of its strength is drawn without." The
first object which engages the attention of the child is the outer
world. He asks the "_how_" and "_why_" of all he sees. His reason urges
him to seek an explanation of the universe. So it was in the _childhood_
of philosophy. The first essays of human thought were, almost without
exception, discourses περὶ φύσεως (De rerum natura), of the nature of
things. Then the rebound of baffled reason from the impenetrable
bulwarks of the universe drove the mind back upon itself. If the youth
can not interpret nature, he can at least "know himself," and find
within himself the ground and reason of all existence. There are
"_ideas_" in the human mind which are copies of those "_archetypal
ideas_" which dwell in the Creative Mind, and after which the universe
was built. If by "analysis" and "definition" these universal notions can
be distinguished from that which is particular and contingent in the
aggregate of human knowledge, then so much of eternal truth has been
attained. The achievements of philosophic thought in this direction,
during the Socratic age, have marked it as the most brilliant period in
the history of philosophy--the period of its _youthful_ vigor. Deeply
immersed in the practical concerns and conflicts of public life,
_manhood_ is mainly occupied with questions of personal duty, and
individual and social well-being. And so, during the hopeless turmoil of
civil disturbance which marked the decline of national greatness in
Grecian history, philosophy was chiefly occupied with questions of
personal interest and personal happiness. The poetic enthusiasm with
which a nobler age had longed for _truth_, and sought it as the highest
good, has all disappeared, and now one sect seeks refuge from the storms
and agitations of the age in Stoical indifference, the other in
Epicurean effeminacy.

If now we have succeeded in presenting the real problem of philosophy,
it will at once be obvious that the inquiry was not, in any proper
sense, _theological_. Speculative thought, during the period we have
marked as the era of Greek philosophy, was not an inquiry concerning the
existence or nature of God, or concerning the relations of man to God,
or the duties which man owes to God. These questions were all remitted
to the _theologian_. There was a clear line of demarkation separating
the domains of religion and philosophy. Religion rested solely on
authority, and appealed to the instinctive faith of the human heart. She
permitted no encroachment upon her settled usages, and no questioning of
her ancient beliefs. Philosophy rested on reason alone. It was an
independent effort of thought to interpret nature, and attain the
fundamental grounds of human knowledge--to find an ἀρχή--a first
principle, which, being assumed, should furnish a rational explanation
of all existence. If philosophy reach the conclusion that the άρχή was
water, or air, or fire, or a chaotic mixture of all the elements or
atoms, extended and self-moved, or monads, or τὸ πᾶν, or uncreated mind,
and that conclusion harmonized with the ancient standards of religious
faith--well; if not, philosophy must present some method of
conciliation. The conflicts of faith and reason; the stragglings of
traditional authority to maintain supremacy; the accommodations and
conciliations attempted in those primitive times, would furnish a
chapter of peculiar interest, could it now be written.

The poets who appeared in the dim twilight of Grecian
civilization--Orpheus, Musæus, Homer, Hesiod--seem to have occupied the
same relation to the popular mind in Greece which the Bible now sustains
to Christian communities.[387] Not that we regard them as standing on
equal ground of authority, or in any sense a revelation. But, in the eye
of the wondering Greek, they were invested with the highest sacredness
and the supremest authority. The high poetic inspiration which pervaded
them was a supernatural gift. Their sublime utterances were accepted as
proceeding from a divine afflatus. They were the product of an age in
which it was believed by all that the gods assumed a human form,[388]
and held a real intercourse with gifted men. This universal faith is
regarded by some as being a relic of still more distant times, a faint
remembrance of the glory of patriarchal days. The more natural opinion
is, that it was begotten of that universal longing of the human heart
for some knowledge of that unseen world of real being, which man
instinctively felt must lie beyond the world of fleeting change and
delusive appearances. It was a prolepsis of the soul, reaching upward
towards its source and goal. The poet felt within him some native
affinities therewith, and longed for some stirring breath of heaven to
sweep the harp-strings of the soul. He invoked the inspiration of the
Goddess of Song, and waited for, no doubt believed in, some "deific
impulse" descending on him. And the people eagerly accepted his
utterance as the teaching of the gods. They were too eager for some
knowledge from that unseen world to question their credentials. Orpheus,
Hesiod, Homer, were the θεολόγοι--the theologians of that age.[389]

[Footnote 387: "Homer was, in a certain sense, the Bible of the
Greeks."--Whewell, "Platonic Dialogues," p. 283.]

[Footnote 388: The universality of this belief is asserted by Cicero:
"Vetus opinio est, jam usque ab heroicis ducta temporibus, eaque et
populi Romani et omnium gentium firmata consensu, versari quandem inter
homines divinationem."--Cicero, "De Divin." bk. i. ch. i.]

[Footnote 389: Cicero.]

These ancient poems, then, were the public documents of the religion of
Greece--the repositories of the national faith. And it is deserving of
especial note that the philosopher was just as anxious to sustain his
speculations by quoting the high traditional authority of the ancient
theologian, as the propounder of modern novelties is to sustain his
notions by the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. Numerous examples of
this solicitude will recur at once to the remembrance of the student of
Plato. All encroachments of philosophy upon the domains of religion were
watched as jealously in Athens in the sixth century before Christ, as
the encroachments of science upon the fields of theology were watched in
Rome in the seventeenth century after Christ. The court of the Areopagus
was as earnest, though not as fanatical and cruel, in the defense of the
ancient faith, as the court of the Inquisition was in the defense of the
dogmas of the Romish Church. The people, also, as "the sacred wars" of
Greece attest, were ready quickly to repel every assault upon the
majesty of their religion. And so philosophy even had its martyrs. The
tears of Pericles were needed to save Aspasia, because she was suspected
of philosophy. But neither his eloquence nor his tears could save his
friend Anaxagoras, and he was ostracized. Aristotle had the greatest
difficulty to save his life. And Plato was twice imprisoned, and once
sold into slavery.[390]

[Footnote 390: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 305.]

It is unnecessary that we should, in this place, again attempt the
delineation of the theological opinions of the earlier periods of
Grecian civilization. That the ancient Greeks believed in _one Supreme
God_ has been conclusively proved by Cudworth. The argument of his
fourth chapter is incontrovertible.[391] However great the number of
"generated gods" who crowded the Olympus, and composed the ghostly array
of Greek mythology, they were all subordinate agents, "demiurges,"
employed in the framing of the world and all material things, or else
the ministers of the moral and providential government of the εἷς θεὸς
ἀγέντος--the one uncreated God. Beneath, or beyond the whole system of
pagan polytheism, we recognize a faith in an _Uncreated Mind_, the
Source of all the intelligence, and order, and harmony which pervades
the universe the Fountain of law and justice; the Ruler of the world;
the Avenger of injured innocence; and the final Judge of men. The
immortality of the soul and a state of future retribution were necessary
corollaries of this sublime faith. This primitive theology was
unquestionably the people's faith; the faith, also, of the philosopher,
in his inmost heart, however far he might wander in speculative thought.
The instinctive feeling of the human heart, the spontaneous intuitions
of the human reason, have led man, in every age, to recognize a God. It
is within the fields of speculative thought that skepticism has had its
birth. Any thing like atheism has only made its appearance amid the
efforts of human reason to explain the universe. The native sentiments
of the heart and the spontaneous movements of the reason have always
been towards faith, that is, towards "a religious movement of the
soul."[392] Unbridled speculative thought, which turns towards the outer
world alone, and disregards "the voices of the soul," tends towards
_doubt_ and irreligion. But, as Cousin has said, "a complete
extravagance, a total delusion (except in case of real derangement), is
impossible." "Beneath reflection there is still spontaneity, when the
scholar has denied the existence of a God; listen to the man,
interrogate him unawares, and you will see that all his words betray the
idea of a God, and that faith in a God is, without his recognition, at
the bottom of his heart."[393]

[Footnote 391: "Intellectual System of the Universe;" see also ch. iii.,
"On the Religion of the Athenians."]

[Footnote 392: Cousin's "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 22.]

[Footnote 393: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 137.]

Let us not, therefore, be too hasty in representing the early
philosophers as destitute of the idea of a God, because in the imperfect
and fragmentary representations which are given us of the philosophical
opinions of Thales, and Anaximenes, and Heraclitus, and Diogenes of
Apollonia, we find no explicit allusions to the _Uncreated Mind_ as the
first principle and cause of all. A few sentences will comprehend the
whole of what remains of the opinions of the earliest philosophers, and
these were transmitted for ages by _oral_ tradition. To Plato and
Aristotle we are chiefly indebted for a stereotype of those scattered,
fragmentary sentences which came to their hands through the dim and
distorting medium of more than two centuries. Surely no one imagines
these few sentences contain and sum up the results of a lifetime of
earnest thought, or represent all the opinions and beliefs of the
earliest philosophers! And should we find therein no recognition of a
personal God, would it not be most unfair and illogical to assert that
they were utterly ignorant of a God, or wickedly denied his being? If
they say "there is no God," then they are foolish Atheists; if they are
silent on that subject, we have a right to assume they were Theists, for
it is most natural to believe in God. And yet it has been quite
customary for Christian teachers, after the manner of some Patristic
writers, to deny to those early sages the smallest glimpse of underived
and independent knowledge of a Divine Being, in their zeal to assert for
the Sacred Scriptures the exclusive prerogative of revealing Him.

Now in regard to the theological opinions of the Greek philosophers, we
shall venture this general _lemma_--_the majority of them recognized an
"incorporeal substance"_[394]_ an uncreated Intelligence, an ordering,
governing Mind_. Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus, who were
Materialists, are perhaps the only exceptions. Many of them were
Pantheists, in the higher form of Pantheism, which, though it associates
the universe with its framer and mover, still makes "the moving
principle" superior to that which is moved. The world was a living

     "Whose body nature is, and God the soul."

Unquestionably most on them recognized the existence of _two_ first
principles, substances essentially distinct, which had co-existed from
eternity--an incorporeal Deity and matter.[395] We grant that the free
production of a universe by a creative fiat--the calling of matter into
being by a simple act of omnipotence--is not elementary to human reason.
The famous physical axiom of antiquity, "_De nihilo nihil, in nihilum
posse reverti"_ under one aspect, may be regarded as the expression of
the universal consciousness of a mental inability to conceive a creation
out of nothing, or an annihilation.[396] "We can not conceive, either,
on the one hand, nothing becoming something, or something becoming
nothing, on the other hand. When God is said to create the universe out
of nothing, we think this by supposing that he evolves the universe out
of himself; and in like manner, we conceive annihilation only by
conceiving the Creator to withdraw his creation from actuality into
power."[397] "It is by _faith_ we understand the worlds were framed by
the _word of God_, so that things which are were not made from things
which do appear"--that is, from pre-existent matter.

[Footnote 394: "Οὐσίαν ἀσώματον."--Plato.]

[Footnote 395: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 269.]

[Footnote 396: Mansell's "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 100.]

[Footnote 397: Sir William Hamilton's "Discussions on Philosophy," p.

Those writers[398] are, therefore, clearly in error who assert that the
earliest question of Greek philosophy was, What is God? and that various
and discordant answers were given, Thales saying, water is God,
Anaximenes, air; Heraclitus, fire; Pythagoras, numbers; and so on. The
idea of God is a native intuition of the mind. It springs up
spontaneously from the depths of the human soul. The human mind
naturally recognizes God as an uncreated Mind, and recognizes itself as
"the offspring of God." And, therefore, it is simply impossible for it
to acknowledge water, or air, or fire, or any material thing to be its
God. Now they who reject this fundamental principle evidently
misapprehend the real problem of early Grecian philosophic thought. The
external world, the material universe, was the first object of their
inquiry, and the method of their inquiry was, at the first stage, purely
physical. Every object of sense had a beginning and an end; it rose out
of something, and it fell back into something. Beneath this ceaseless
flow and change there must be some permanent principle. What is that
στοιχεῖον--that first element? The changes in the universe seem to obey
some principle of law--they have an orderly succession. What is that
μορφή--that form, or ideal, or archetype, proper to each thing, and
according to which all things are produced? These changes must be
produced by some efficient cause, some power or being which is itself
immobile, and permanent, and eternal, and adequate to their production.
What is that ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως--that first principle of movement Then,
lastly, there must be an end for which all things exist--a good reason
why things are as they are, and not otherwise. What is that τὸ οὗ ἕνεκεν
καῖ τὸ ἀγαθόν--that reason and good of all things? Now these are all
ἀρχαί or first principles of the universe. "Common to all first
principles," says Aristotle, "is the being, the original, from which a
thing is, or is produced, or is known."[399] First principles,
therefore, include both elements and causes, and, under certain aspects,
elements are also causes, in so far as they are that without which a
thing can not be produced. Hence that highest generalization by
Aristotle of all first principles; as--1. The Material Cause; 2. The
Formal Cause; 3. The Efficient Cause; 4. The Final Cause. The grand
subject of inquiry in ancient philosophy was not alone what is the final
_element_ from which all things have been produced? nor yet what is the
_efficient cause_ of the movement and the order of the universe? _but
what are those First Principles which, being assumed, shall furnish a
rational explanation of all phenomena, of all becoming?_

[Footnote 398: As the writer of the article "Attica," in the
Encyclopædia Britannica.]

[Footnote 399: "Metaphysics," bk. iv. ch. i. p. 112 (Bohn's edition).]

So much being premised, we proceed to consider the efforts and the
results of philosophic thought in


"The first act in the drama of Grecian speculation was performed on the
varied theatre of the Grecian colonies--Asiatic, insular, and Italian,
verging at length (in Anaxagoras) towards Athens." During the progress
of this drama two distinct schools of philosophy were developed, having
distinct geographical provinces, one on the east, the other on the west,
of the peninsula of Greece, and deriving their names from the localities
in which they flourished. The earliest was the _Ionian;_ the latter was
the _Italian_ school.

It would be extremely difficult, at this remote period, to estimate the
influence which geographical conditions and ethnical relations exerted
in determining the course of philosophic thought in these schools.
Unquestionably those conditions contributed somewhat towards fixing
their individuality. At the same time, it must be granted that the
distinction in these two schools of philosophy is of a deeper character
than can be represented or explained by geographical surroundings; it is
a distinction reaching to the very foundation of their habits of
thought. These schools represent two distinct aspects of philosophic
thought, two distinct methods in which the human mind has essayed to
solve the problem of the universe.

The ante-Socratic schools were chiefly occupied with the study of
external nature. "Greek philosophy was, at its first appearance, a
philosophy of nature." It was an effort of the reason to reach a "first
principle" which should explain the universe. This early attempt was
purely speculative. It sought to interpret all phenomena by
_hypotheses_, that is, by suppositions, more or less plausible,
suggested by physical analogies or by _à priori_ rational conceptions.

Now there are two distinct aspects under which nature presents itself to
the observant mind. The first and most obvious is the _simple phenomena_
as perceived by the senses. The second is the _relations_ of
_phenomena_, cognized by the reason alone. Let phenomena, which are
indeed the first objects of perception, continue to be the chief and
almost exclusive object of thought, and philosophy is on the highway of
pure physics. On the other hand, instead of stopping at phenomena, let
their relations become the sole object of thought, and philosophy is now
on the road of purely mathematical or metaphysical abstraction. Thus two
schools of philosophy are developed, the one SENSATIONAL, the other
IDEALIST. Now these, it will be found, are the leading and
characteristic tendencies of the two grand divisions of the pre-Socratic
schools; the Ionian is _sensational_, the Italian is _idealist_.

These two schools have again been the subject of a further subdivision
based upon diverse habits of thought. The Ionian school sought to
explain the universe by _physical analogies._ Of these there are two
clear and obvious divisions--analogies suggested by living organisms,
and analogies suggested by mechanical arrangements. One class of
philosophers in the Ionian school laid hold on the first analogy. They
regarded the world as a living being, spontaneously evolving itself--a
vital organism whose successive developments and transformations
constitute all visible phenomena. A second class laid hold on the
analogy suggested by mechanical arrangements. For them the universe was
a grand superstructure, built up from elemental particles, arranged and
united by some ab-extra power or force, or else aggregated by some
inherent mutual affinity. Thus we have two sects of the Ionian school;
the first, _Dynamical_ or vital; the second, _Mechanical_.[400]

[Footnote 400: Ritter's "Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 191, 192.]

The Italian school sought to explain the universe by rational
conceptions and _à priori_ ideas. Now to those who seek, by simple
reflection, to investigate the relations of the external world this
marked distinction will present itself: some are relations _between_
sensible phenomena--relations of time, of place, of number, of
proportion, and of harmony; others are relations _of_ phenomena to
essential being--relations of qualities to substance, of becoming to
being, of the finite to the infinite. The former constituted the field
of Pythagorean the latter of Eleatic contemplation. The Pythagoreans
sought to explain the universe by numbers, forms, and harmonies; the
Eleatics by the _à priori_ ideas of unity, substance, Being _in se_, the
Infinite. Thus were constituted a _Mathematical_ and a _Metaphysical_
sect in the Italian school. The pre-Socratic schools may, therefore, be
tabulated in the following order:

     I. IONIAN (Sensational), (1.) PHYSICAL {Dynamical or Vital.

     II. Italian (Idealist), {(2.) MATHEMATICAL Pythagoreans.
                             {(3.) METAPHYSICAL Eleatics.

I. _The Ionian or Physical School._--We have premised that the
philosophers of this school attempted the explanation of the universe by
physical analogies.

One class of these early speculators, the _Dynamical_, or vital
theorists, proceeded on the supposition of a living energy infolded in
nature, which in its spontaneous development continuously undergoes
alteration both of quality and form. This imperfect analogy is the first
hypothesis of childhood. The child personifies the stone that hurts him,
and his first impulse is to resent the injury as though he imagined it
to be endowed with consciousness, and to be acting with design. The
childhood of superstition (whose genius is multiplicity) personifies
each individual existence--a rude Fetichism, which imagines a
supernatural power and presence enshrined in every object of nature, in
every plant, and stock, and stone. The childhood of philosophy (whose
genius is unity) personifies the universe. It regards the earth as one
vast organism, animated by one soul, and this soul of the world as a
"created god."[401] The first efforts of philosophy were, therefore,
simply an attempt to explain the universe in harmony with the popular
theological beliefs. The cosmogonies of the early speculators in the
Ionian school were an elaboration of the ancient theogonies, but still
an elaboration conducted under the guidance of that law of thought which
constrains man to seek for _unity_, and reduce the many to the one.

Therefore, in attempting to construct a theory of the universe they
commenced by postulating an ἀρχή--a first principle or element out of
which, by a _vital_ process, all else should be produced. "Accordingly,
whatever seemed the most subtle or pliable, as well as _universal_
element in the mass of the visible world, was marked as the seminal
principle whose successive developments and transformations produced all
the rest."[402] With this seminal principle the living, _animating_
principle seems to have been associated--in some instances perhaps
confounded, and in most instances called by the same name. And having
pursued this analogy so far, we shall find the _most decided and
conclusive_ evidence of a tendency to regard the soul of man as similar,
in its nature, to the soul which animates the world.

[Footnote 401: Plato's "Laws," bk. x. ch. i.; "Timæus," ch. xii.]

[Footnote 402: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. 1. p.

_Thales of Miletus_(B.C. 636-542) was the first to lead the way in the
perilous inquiry after an ἀρχή, or first principle, which should furnish
a rational explanation of the universe. Following, as it would seem, the
genealogy of Hesiod, he supposed _water_ to be the primal element out of
which all material things were produced. Aristotle supposes he was
impressed with this idea from observing that all things are nourished by
moisture; warmth itself, he declared, proceeded from moisture; the seeds
of all things are moist; water, when condensed, becomes earth.

Thus convinced of the universal presence of water, he declared it to be
the first principle of things.[403]

And now, from this brief statement of the Thalean physics, are we to
conclude that he recognized only a _material_ cause of the universe?
Such is the impression we receive from the reading of the First Book of
Aristotle's Metaphysics. His evident purpose is to prove that the first
philosophers of the Ionian school did not recognize an _efficient_
cause. In his opinion, they were decidedly materialistic. Now to
question the authority of Aristotle may appear to many an act of
presumption. But Aristotle was not infallible; and nothing is more
certain than that in more than one instance he does great injustice to
his predecessors.[404] To him, unquestionably, belongs the honor of
having made a complete and exhaustive classification of causes, but
there certainly does appear something more than vanity in the assumption
that he, of all the Greek philosophers, was the only one who recognized
them all. His sagacious classification was simply a resumè of the labors
of his predecessors. His "principles" or "causes" were incipient in the
thought of the first speculators in philosophy. Their accurate
definition and clearer presentation was the work of ages of analytic
thought. The phrases "efficient," "formal," "final" cause, are, we
grant, peculiar to Aristotle; the ideas were equally the possession of
his predecessors.

[Footnote 403: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 404: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 77;
Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 77.]

The evidence, we think, is conclusive that, with this primal element
(water), Thales associated a formative principle of motion; to the
"material" he added the "efficient" cause. A strong presumption in favor
of this opinion is grounded on the psychological views of Thales. The
author of "De Placitis Philosophorum" associates him with Pythagoras and
Plato, in teaching that the soul is incorporeal, making it naturally
self-active, and an intelligent substance.[405] And it is admitted by
Aristotle (rather unwillingly, we grant, but his testimony is all the
more valuable on that account) that, in his time, the opinion that the
soul is a principle, ἀεικίνητον--ever moving, or essentially
self-active, was currently ascribed to Thales. "If we may rely on the
notices of Thales, he too would seem to have conceived the soul as a
_moving principle_."[406] Extending this idea, that the soul is a moving
principle, he held that all motion in the universe was due to the
presence of a living soul. "He is reported to have said that the
loadstone possessed a soul because it could move iron."[407] And he
taught that "the world itself is _animated_, and full of gods."[408]
"Some think that _soul_ and _life_ is mingled with the whole universe;
and thence, perhaps, was that [opinion] of Thales that all things are
full of gods,"[409] portions, as Aristotle said, of the universal soul.
These views are quite in harmony with the theology which makes the Deity
the moving energy of the universe--the energy which wrought the
successive transformations of the primitive aqueous element. They also
furnish a strong corroboration of the positive statement of
Cicero--"Aquam, dixit Thales, esse initium rerum, Deum autem eam mentem
quæ ex aqua cuncta fingeret." Thales said that water is the first
principle of things, but God was that mind which formed all things out
of water;[410] as also that still more remarkable saying of Thales,
recorded by Diogenes Laertius; "God is the most ancient of all things,
for he had no birth; the world is the most beautiful of all things, for
it is the workmanship of God."[411] We are aware that some historians of
philosophy reject the statement of Cicero, because, say they, "it does
violence to the chronology of speculation."[412] Following Hegel, they
assert that Thales could have no conception of God as Intelligence,
since that is a conception of a more advanced philosophy. Such an
opinion may be naturally expected from the philosopher who places God,
not at the commencement, but at the _end_ of things, God becoming
conscious and intelligent in humanity. If, then, Hegel teaches that God
himself has had a progressive development, it is no wonder he should
assert that the idea of God has also had an historic development, the
_last_ term of which is an _intelligent God_. But he who believes that
the idea of God as the infinite and the perfect is native to the human
mind, and that God stands at the beginning of the entire system of
things, will feel there is a strong _à priori_ ground for the belief
that Thales recognized the existence of an _intelligent God who
fashioned the universe_.

[Footnote 405: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 71.]

[Footnote 406: Aristotle, "De Anima," i. 2, 17.]

[Footnote 407: Id., ib., i. 2, 17.]

[Footnote 408: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," p. 18
(Bohn's ed.).]

[Footnote 409: Aristotle, "De Anima," i. 17.]

[Footnote 410: "De Natura Deor.," bk. i. ch. x.]

[Footnote 411: "Lives," etc., p. 19.]

[Footnote 412: Lewes's "Hist. Philos.," p. 4.]

_Anaximenes of Miletus_ (B.C. 529-480) we place next to Thales in the
consecutive history of thought. It has been usual to rank Anaximander
next to the founder of the Ionian School. The entire complexion of his
system is, however, unlike that of a pupil of Thales. And we think a
careful consideration of his views will justify our placing him at the
head of the Mechanical or Atomic division of the Ionian school.
Anaximenes is the historical successor of Thales; he was unquestionably
a vitalist. He took up the speculation where Thales had left it, and he
carried it a step forward in its development.[413]

Pursuing the same method as Thales, he was not, however, satisfied with
the conclusion he had reached. Water was not to Anaximenes the most
significant, neither was it the most universal element. But air seemed
universally present. "The earth was a broad leaf resting upon it. All
things were produced from it; all things were resolved into it. When he
breathed he drew in a part of this universal life. All things are
nourished by air."[414] Was not, therefore, _air_ the ἀρχή, or primal
element of things?

[Footnote 413: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p.

[Footnote 414: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 7.]

This brief notice of the physical speculations of Anaximenes is all that
has survived of his opinions. We search in vain for some intimations of
his theological views. On this merely negative ground, some writers have
unjustly charged him with Atheism. Were we to venture a conjecture, we
would rather say that there are indications of a tendency to Pantheism
in that form of it which associates God necessarily with the universe,
but does not utterly confound them. His fixing upon "_air_" as the
primal element, seems an effort to reconcile, in some apparently
intermediate substance, the opposite qualities of corporeal and
spiritual natures. Air is invisible, impalpable, all-penetrating, and
yet in some manner appreciable to sense. May not the vital
transformations of this element have produced all the rest? The writer
of the Article on Anaximenes in the Encyclopædia Britannica tells us (on
what ancient authorities he saith not) that "he asserted this air was
God, since the divine power resides in it and agitates it."

Some indications of the views of Anaximenes may perhaps be gathered from
the teachings of Diogenes of Apollonia (B.C. 520-490,) who was the
disciple, and is generally regarded as the commentator and expounder of
the views of Anaximenes. The air of Diogenes was a soul; therefore it
was _living_, and not only living, but conscious and _intelligent_. "It
knows much," says he; "for without _reason_ it would be impossible for
all to be arranged duly and proportionately; and whatever objects we
consider will be found to be so arranged and ordered in the best and
most beautiful manner."[415] Here we have a distinct recognition of the
fundamental axiom that _mind is the only valid explanation of the order
and harmony which pervades the universe_. With Diogenes the first
principle is a "divine air," which is vital, conscious, and intelligent,
which spontaneously evolves itself, and which, by its ceaseless
transformations, produces all phenomena. The soul of man is a detached
portion of this divine element; his body is developed or evolved
therefrom. The theology of Diogenes, and, as we believe, of his master,
Anaximenes also, was a species of Materialistic Pantheism.

[Footnote 415: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 8;
Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 214.]

_Heraclitus of Ephesus_(B.C. 503-420) comes next in the order of
speculative thought. In his philosophy, _fire_ is the ἀρχή, or first
principle; but not fire in the usual acceptation of that term. The
Heraclitean "fire" is not flame, which is only an intensity of fire, but
a warm, dry vapor--an _ether_, which may be illustrated, perhaps, by the
"caloric" of modern chemistry. This "_ether_" was the primal element out
of which the universe was formed; it was also a vital power or principle
which animated the universe, and, in fact, the _cause_ of all its
successive phenomenal changes. "The world," he said, "was neither made
by the gods nor men, and it was, and is, and ever shall be, an
_ever-living fire_, in due proportion self-enkindled, and in due measure
self-extinguished."[416] The universe is thus reduced to "an eternal
fire," whose ceaseless energy is manifested openly in the work of
dissolution, and yet secretly, but universally, in the work of
renovation. The phenomena of the universe are explained by Heraclitus as
"the concurrence of opposite tendencies and efforts in the motions of
this ever-living fire, out of which results the most beautiful harmony.
This harmony of the world is one of conflicting impulses, like the lyre
and the bow. The strife between opposite tendencies is the parent of all
things. All life is change, and change is strife."[417]

[Footnote 416: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p.

[Footnote 417: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 70;
Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 244.]

Heraclitus was the first to proclaim the doctrine of the perpetual
fluxion of the universe (τὸ ῥέον, τὸ γιγνόμενον--Unrest and
Development), the endless changes of matter, and the mutability and
perishability of all individual things. This restless, changing flow of
things, which never _are_, but always are _becoming_, he pronounced to
be the _One_ and the _All_.

From this statement of the physical theory of Heraclitus we might
naturally infer that he was a Hylopathean Atheist. Such an hypothesis
would not, however, be truthful or legitimate. On a more careful
examination, his system will be found to stand half-way between the
materialistic and the spiritual conception of the Author of the
universe, and marks, indeed, a transition from the one to the other.
Heraclitus unquestionably held that all substance is material, for a
philosopher who proclaims, as he did, that the senses are the only
source of knowledge, must necessarily attach himself to a material
element as the primary one. And yet he seems to have _spiritualized_
matter. "The moving unit of Heraclitus--the Becoming--is as immaterial
as the resting unit of the Eleatics--the Being."[418] The Heraclitean
"_fire_" is endowed with _spiritual_ attributes. "Aristotle calls it
ψυχή--soul, and says that it is ἀσωματώτατον, or absolutely incorporeal
("De Anima," i. 2. 16). It is, in effect, the common ground of the
phenomena both of mind and matter it is not only the animating, but also
the intelligent and regulating principle of the universe; the Ξυνὸς
Λόγος, or universal Word or Reason, which it behooves all men to
follow."[419] The psychology of Heraclitus throws additional light upon
his theological opinions. With him human intelligence is a detached
portion of the Universal Reason. "Inhaling," said he, "through the
breath the Universal Ether, which is Divine Reason, we become
conscious." The errors and imperfections of humanity are consequently to
be ascribed to a deficiency of the Divine Reason in man. Whilst,
therefore, the theory of Heraclitus seems to materialize mind, it may,
with equal fairness, be said to spiritualize matter.

[Footnote 418: Zeller's "History of Greek Philosophy," vol. i. p. 57.]

[Footnote 419: Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 297, note.]

The general inference, therefore, from all that remains of the doctrine
of Heraclitus is that he was a Materialistic Pantheist. His God was a
living, rational, intelligent Ether--a soul pervading the universe. The
form of the universe, its ever-changing phenomena, were a necessary
emanation from, or a perpetual transformation of, this universal soul.

With Heraclitus we close our survey of that sect of the physical school
which regarded the world as a living organism.

The second subdivision of the physical school, _the Mechanical_ or
_Atomist theorists_, attempted the explanation of the universe by
analogies derived from mechanical collocations, arrangements, and
movements. The universe was regarded by them as a vast superstructure
built up from elemental particles, aggregated by some inherent force or
mutual affinity.

_Anaximander of Miletus_ (born B.C. 610) we place at the head of the
Mechanical sect of the Ionian school; first, on the authority of
Aristotle, who intimates that the philosophic dogmata of Anaximander
"resemble those of Democritus," who was certainly an Atomist; and,
secondly, because we can clearly trace a genetic connection between the
opinions of Democritus and Leucippus and those of Anaximander.

The ἀρχή, or first principle of Anaximander, was τὸ ἄπειρον, _the
boundless, the illimitable, the infinite_. Some historians of philosophy
have imagined that the infinite of Anaximander was the "unlimited all,"
and have therefore placed him at the head of the Italian or "idealistic
school." These writers are manifestly in error. Anaximander was
unquestionably a sensationalist. Whatever his "infinite" may be found to
be, one thing is clear, it was not a "metaphysical infinite"--it did not
include infinite power, much less infinite mind.

The testimony of Aristotle is conclusive that by "the infinite"
Anaximander understood the multitude of primary, material particles. He
calls it "a μῖγμα, or mixture of elements."[420] It was, in fact, a
_chaos_--an original state in which the primary elements existed in a
chaotic combination without _limitation_ or division. He assumed a
certain "_prima materia_," which was neither air, nor water, nor fire,
but a "mixture" of all, to be the first principle of the universe. The
account of the opinions of Anaximander which is given by Plutarch ("De
Placita," etc.) is a further confirmation of our interpretation of his
infinite. "Anaximander, the Milesian, affirmed the infinite to be the
first principle, and that all things are generated out of it, and
corrupted again into it. _His infinite is nothing else but matter._"
"Whence," says Cudworth, "we conclude that Anaximander's infinite was
nothing else but an infinite chaos of matter, in which were actually or
potentially contained all manner of qualities, by the fortuitous
secretion and segregation of which he supposed infinite worlds to be
successively generated and corrupted. So that we may easily guess whence
Leucippus and Democritus had their infinite worlds, and perceive how
near akin these two Atheistic hypotheses were."[421] The reader, whose
curiosity may lead him to consult the authorities collected by Cudworth
(pp. 185-188), will find in the doctrine of Anaximander a rude
anticipation of the modern theories of "spontaneous generation" and "the
transmutation of species." In the fragments of Anaximander that remain
we find no recognition of an ordering Mind, and his philosophy is the
dawn of a Materialistic school.

[Footnote 420: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 421: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. pp. 186, 187.]

_Leucippus of Miletus_ (B.C. 500-400) appears, in the order of
speculation, as the successor of Anaximander. _Atoms_ and _space_ are,
in his philosophy, the ἀρχαί, or first principles of all things.
"Leucippus (and his companion, Democritus) assert that the plenum and
the vacuum [_i.e._, body and space] are the first principles, whereof
one is the Ens, the other Non-ens; the differences of the body, which
are only figure, order, and position, are the causes of all

[Footnote 422: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," p. 21 (Bohn's edition).]

He also taught that the elements, and the worlds derived from them, are
_infinite_. He describes the manner in which the worlds are produced as
follows: "Many bodies of various kinds and shapes are borne by
amputation from the infinite [_i.e._, the chaotic μῖγμα of Anaximander]
into a vast vacuum, and then they, being collected together, produce a
vortex; according to which, they, dashing against each other, and
whirling about in every direction, are separated in such a way that like
attaches itself to like; bodies are thus, without ceasing, united
according to the impulse given by the vortex, and in this way the earth
was produced."[423] Thus, through a boundless void, atoms infinite in
number and endlessly diversified in form are eternally wandering; and,
by their aggregation, infinite worlds are successively produced. These
atoms are governed in their movements by a dark negation of
intelligence, designated "Fate," and all traces of a Supreme Mind
disappear in his philosophy. It is a system of pure materialism, which,
in fact, is Atheism.

[Footnote 423: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 389.]

_Democritus of Abdera_ (B.C. 460-357), the companion of Leucippus, also
taught "that _atoms_ and the _vacuum_ were the beginning of the
universe."[424] These atoms, he taught, were infinite in number,
homogeneous, extended, and possessed of those primary qualities of
matter which are necessarily involved in extension in space--as size,
figure, situation, divisibility, and mobility. From the combination of
these atoms all other existences are produced; fire, air, earth, and
water; sun, moon, and stars; plants, animals, and men; the soul itself
is an aggregation of round, moving atoms. And "motion, which is the
cause of the production of every thing, he calls _necessity_."[425]
Atoms are thus the only real existences; these, without any pre-existent
mind, or intelligence, were the original of all things.

[Footnote 424: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 395.]

[Footnote 425: Id, ib., p. 394.]

The psychological opinions of Democritus were as decidedly materialistic
as his physical theories. All knowledge is derived from sensation. It is
only by material impact that we can know the external world, and every
sense is, in reality, a kind of touch. Material images are being
continually thrown off from the surface of external objects which come
into actual contact with the organs of sense. The primary qualities of
matter, that is, those which are involved in extension in space, are the
only objects of real knowledge; the secondary qualities of matter, as
softness, hardness, sweetness, bitterness, and the like, are but
modifications of the human sensibilities. "The sweet exists only in
form--the bitter in form, hot in form, color in form; but in causal
reality only atoms and space exist. The sensible things which are
supposed by opinion to exist have no real existence, but atoms and space
alone exist."[426]

[Footnote 426: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 96. The
words of Democritus, as reported by Sextus Empiricus.]

Thus by Democritus was laid the basis of a system of absolute
materialism, which was elaborated and completed by Epicurus, and has
been transmitted to our times. It has undergone some slight
modifications, adapting it to the progress of physical science; but it
is to-day substantially the theory of Democritus. In Democritus we have
the culmination of the mechanical theory of the Ionian or Physical
school. In physics and psychology it terminated in pure materialism. In
theology it ends in positive Atheism.

The fundamental error of all the philosophers of the physical school was
the assumption, tacitly or avowedly, that sense-perception is the only
source of knowledge. This was the fruitful source of all their erroneous
conclusions, the parent of all their materialistic tendencies. This led
them continually to seek an ἀρχή, or first principle of the universe,
which should, under some form, be appreciable to _sense_; and
consequently the course of thought tended naturally towards materialism.

Thales was unquestionably a dualist. Instructed by traditional
intimations, or more probably guided by the spontaneous apperceptions of
reason, he recognized, with more or less distinctness, an incorporeal
Deity as the moving, animating, and organizing cause of the universe.
The idea of God is a truth so self-evident as to need no demonstration.
The human mind does not attain to the idea of a God as the last
consequence of a series of antecedent principles. It comes at once, by
an inherent and necessary movement of thought, to the recognition of God
as the First Principle of all principles. But when, instead of
hearkening to the simple and spontaneous intuitions of the mind, man
turns to the world of sense, and loses himself in discursive thought,
the conviction of a personal God becomes obscured. Then, amid the
endlessly diversified phenomena of the universe, he seeks for a cause or
origin which in some form shall be appreciable to sense. The mere study
of material phenomena, scientifically or unscientifically conducted,
will never yield the sense of the living God. Nature must be
interpreted, can only be interpreted in the light of certain _à priori_
principles of reason, or we can never "ascend from nature up to nature's
God." Within the circle of mere sense-perception, the dim and
undeveloped consciousness of God will be confounded with the universe.
Thus, in Anaximenes, God is partially confounded with "air," which
becomes a symbol; then a vehicle of the informing mind; and the result
is a semi-pantheism. In Heraclitus, the "ether" is, at first, a
semi-symbol of the Deity; at length, God is utterly confounded with this
ether, or "rational fire," and the result is a definite _materialistic
pantheism_. And, finally, when this feeling or dim consciousness of God,
which dwells in all human souls, is not only disregarded, but pronounced
to be an illusion--a phantasy; when all the analogies which intelligence
suggests are disregarded, and a purely mechanical theory of the universe
is adopted, the result is the utter negation of an Intelligent Cause,
that is, _absolute Atheism_, as in Leucippus and Democritus.



PRE-SOCRATIC SCHOOL _(continued_).




In the previous chapter we commenced our inquiry with the assumption
that, in the absence of the true inductive method of philosophy which
observes, and classifies, and generalizes facts, and thence attains a
general principle or law, two only methods were possible to the early
speculators who sought an explanation of the universe--1st, That of
reasoning from physical analogies; or, 2d, That of deduction from
rational conceptions, or _à priori_ ideas.

Accordingly we found that one class of speculators fixed their attention
solely on the mere phenomena of nature, and endeavored, amid sensible
things, to find a _single_ element which, being more subtile, and
pliable, and universally diffused, could be regarded as the ground and
original of all the rest, and from which, by a vital transformation, or
by a mechanical combination and arrangement of parts, all the rest
should be evolved. The other class passed beyond the simple phenomena,
and considered only the abstract _relations_ of phenomena among
themselves, or the relations of phenomena to the necessary and universal
ideas of the reason, and supposed that, in these relations, they had
found an explanation of the universe. The former was the Ionian or
Sensation school; the latter was the Italian or Idealist school.

We have traced the method according to which the Ionian school
proceeded, and estimated the results attained. We now come to consider
the method and results of


This school we have found to be naturally subdivided into--1st, The
_Mathematical_ sect, which attempted the explanation of the universe by
the abstract conceptions of number, proportion, order, and harmony; and,
2d, The _Metaphysical_ school, which attempted the interpretation of the
universe according to the _à priori_ ideas of unity, of Being _in se_,
of the Infinite, and the Absolute.

_Pythagoras of Samos_(born B.C. 605) was the founder of the Mathematical

We are conscious of the difficulties which are to be encountered by the
student who seeks to attain a definite comprehension of the real
opinions of Pythagoras. The genuineness of many of those writings which
were once supposed to represent his views, is now questioned. "Modern
criticism has clearly shown that the works ascribed to Timæus and
Archytas are spurious; and the treatise of Ocellus Lucanus on 'The
Nature of the All' can not have been written by a Pythagorean."[427] The
only writers who can be regarded as at all reliable are Plato and
Aristotle; and the opinions they represent are not so much those of
Pythagoras as "the Pythagoreans." This is at once accounted for by the
fact that Pythagoras taught in secret, and did not commit his opinions
to writing. His disciples, therefore, represent the _tendency_ rather
than the actual tenets of his system; these were no doubt modified by
the mental habits and tastes of his successors.

[Footnote 427: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 24.]

We may safely assume that the proposition from which Pythagoras started
was the fundamental idea of all Greek speculation--_that beneath the
fleeting forms and successive changes of the universe there is some
permanent principle of unity_[428] The Ionian school sought that
principle in some common physical element; Pythagoras sought, not for
"elements," but for "relations," and through these relations for
ultimate laws indicating primal forces.

[Footnote 428: See Plato, "Timæus," ch. ix. p. 331 (Bohn's edition);
Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. v. ch. iii.]

Aristotle affirms that Pythagoras taught "that _numbers_ are the first
principles of all entities," and, "as it were, a _material_ cause of
things,"[429] or, in other words, "that numbers are substances that
involve a separate subsistence, and are primary causes of

[Footnote 429: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. v.]

[Footnote 430: Id., ib., bk. xii. ch. vi.]

Are we then required to accept the dictum of Aristotle as final and
decisive? Did Pythagoras really teach that numbers are real
entities--the _substance_ and cause of all other existences? The reader
may be aware that this is a point upon which the historians of
philosophy are not agreed. Ritter is decidedly of opinion that the
Pythagorean formula "can only be taken symbolically."[431] Lewes insists
it must be understood literally.[432] On a careful review of all the
arguments, we are constrained to regard the conclusion of Ritter as most
reasonable. The hypothesis "that numbers are real entities" does
violence to every principle of common sense. This alone constitutes a
strong _à priori_ presumption that Pythagoras did not entertain so
glaring an absurdity. The man who contributed so much towards perfecting
the mathematical sciences, who played so conspicuous a part in the
development of ancient philosophy, and who exerted so powerful a
determining influence on the entire current of speculative thought, did
not obtain his ascendency over the intellectual manhood of Greece by the
utterance of such enigmas. And further, in interpreting the philosophic
opinions of the ancients, we must be guided by this fundamental
canon--"The human mind has, under the necessary operation of its own
laws, been compelled to entertain the same fundamental ideas, and the
human heart to cherish the same feelings in all ages." Now if a careful
philosophic criticism can not render the _reported_ opinions of an
ancient teacher into the universal language of the reason and heart of
humanity, we must conclude either that his opinions were misunderstood
and misrepresented by some of his successors, or else that he stands in
utter isolation, both from the present and the past. His doctrine has,
then, no relation to the successions of thought, and no place in the
history of philosophy. Nay, more, such a doctrine has in it no element
of vitality, no germ of eternal truth, and must speedily perish. Now it
is well known that the teaching of Pythagoras awakened the deepest
intellectual sympathy of his age; that his doctrine exerted a powerful
influence on the mind of Plato, and, through him, upon succeeding ages;
and that, in some of its aspects, it now survives, and is more
influential to-day than in any previous age; but this element of
immutable and eternal truth was certainly not contained in the inane and
empty formula, "that numbers are real existences, the causes of all
other existences!" If the fame of Pythagoras had rested on such "airy
nothings," it would have melted away before the time of Plato.

[Footnote 431: "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 359.]

[Footnote 432: "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 38.]

We grant there is considerable force in the argument of Lewes. He urges,
with some pertinence, the unquestionable fact that Aristotle asserts,
again and again, that the Pythagoreans taught "that numbers are the
principles and substance of things as well as the causes of their
modifications;" and he argues that we are not justified in rejecting the
authority of Aristotle, unless better evidence can be produced.

So far, however, as the authority of Aristotle is concerned, even Lewes
himself charges him, in more than one instance, with strangely
misrepresenting the opinions of his predecessors.[433] Aristotle is
evidently wanting in that impartiality which ought to characterize the
historian of philosophy, and, sometimes, we are compelled to question
his integrity. Indeed, throughout his "Metaphysics" he exhibits the
egotism and vanity of one who imagines that he alone, of all men, has
the full vision of the truth. In Books I. and XII. he uniformly
associates the "_numbers_" of Pythagoras with the "_forms_" and
"_ideas_" of Plato. He asserts that Plato identifies "forms" and
"numbers," and regards them as real entities--substances, and causes of
all other things. "_Forms are numbers_[434]... so Plato affirmed,
similar with the Pythagoreans; and the dogma that numbers are causes to
other things--of their substance-_he, in like manner, asserted with
them_."[435] And then, finally, he employs the _same_ arguments in
refuting the doctrines of both.

[Footnote 433: "Aristotle uniformly speaks disparagingly of Anaxagoras"
(Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy"). He represents him as
employing mind (νοῦς) simply as "a _machine_" for the production of the
world;--"when he finds himself in perplexity as to the cause of its
being necessarily an orderly system, he then drags it (mind) in by force
to his assistance" "Metaphysics," (bk. i. ch. iv.). But he is evidently
inconsistent with himself, for in "De Anima" (bk. i. ch. ii.) he tells
us that "Anaxagoras saith that mind is at once a _cause of motion_ in
the whole universe, and also of _well_ and _fit_." We may further ask,
is not the idea of fitness--of the good and the befitting--the final
cause, even according to Aristotle?

He also totally misrepresents Plato's doctrine of "Ideas." "Plato's
Ideas," he says, "are substantial existences--real beings"
("Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. ix.). Whereas, as we shall subsequently show,
"they are objects of pure conception for human reason, and they are
attributes of the Divine Reason. It is there they substantially exist."
(Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 415). It is also pertinent
to inquire, what is the difference between the "formal cause" of
Aristotle and the archetypal ideas of Plato? and is not Plato's τὸ
ἀγαθόν the "final cause?" Yet Aristotle is forever congratulating
himself that he alone has properly treated the "formal" and the "final

[Footnote 434: This, however, was not the doctrine of Plato. He does not
say "forms are numbers." He says: "God formed things as they first arose
according to forms _and_ numbers." See "Timaeus," ch. xiv. and xxvii.]

[Footnote 435: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.]

Now the writings of Plato are all extant to-day, and accessible in an
excellent English translation to any of our readers. Cousin has
shown,[436] most conclusively (and we can verify his conclusions for
ourselves), that Aristotle has totally misrepresented Plato. And if, in
the same connection, and in the course of the same argument, and in
regard to the same subjects, he misrepresents Plato, it is most probable
he also misrepresents Pythagoras.

[Footnote 436: "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," pp. 77-81.]

It is, however, a matter of the deepest interest for us to find the
evidence gleaming out here and there, on the pages of Aristotle, that he
had some knowledge of the fact that the Pythagorean numbers were
regarded as _symbols_. The "numbers" of Pythagoras are, in the mind of
Aristotle, clearly identified with the "forms" of Plato. Now, in Chapter
VI. of the First Book he says that Plato taught that these "forms" were
παραδείγματα--models, patterns, exemplars after which created things
were framed. The numbers of Pythagoras, then, are also models and
exemplars. This also is admitted by Aristotle. The Pythagoreans indeed
affirm that entities subsist by an _imitation_ (μίμησις) of
numbers.[437] Now if ideas, forms, numbers, were the models or paradigms
after which "the Operator" formed all things, surely it can not be
logical to say they were the "material" out of which all things were
framed, much less the "efficient cause" of things. The most legitimate
conclusion we can draw, even from the statements of Aristotle, is that
the Pythagoreans regarded numbers as the best expression or
representation of those laws of proportion, and order, and harmony,
which seemed, to their eyes, to pervade the universe. Their doctrine was
a faint glimpse of that grand discovery of modern science--that all the
higher laws of nature assume the form of a precise quantitative

[Footnote 437: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.]

The fact seems to be this, the Pythagoreans busied themselves chiefly
with what Aristotle designates "the _formal_ cause," and gave little
attention to the inquiry concerning "the _material_ cause." This is
admitted by Aristotle. Concerning fire, or earth, or the other bodies of
such kind, they have declared nothing whatsoever, inasmuch as affirming,
in my opinion, nothing that is peculiar concerning _sensible_
natures.[438] They looked, as we have previously remarked, to the
relations of phenomena, and having discovered certain "numerical
similitudes," they imagined they had attained an universal principle, or
law. "If all the essential properties and attributes of things were
fully represented by the relations of numbers, the philosophy which
supplied such an explanation of the universe might well be excused from
explaining, also, that existence of objects, which is distinct from the
existence of all their qualities and properties. The Pythagorean
doctrine of numbers might have been combined with the doctrine of atoms,
and the combination might have led to results worthy of notice. But, so
far as we are aware, no such combination was attempted, and perhaps we
of the present day are only just beginning to perceive, through the
disclosures of chemistry and crystallography, the importance of such an

[Footnote 4398: Id., ib., bk. i. ch. ix.]

[Footnote 439: Whewell's "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. i. p.

These preliminary considerations will have cleared and prepared the way
for a fuller presentation of the philosophic system of Pythagoras. The
most comprehensive and satisfactory exposition of his "method" is that
given by Wm Archer Butler in his "_Lectures on Ancient Philosophy_," and
we feel we can not do better than condense his pages.[440]

[Footnote 440: Lecture VI. vol. i.]

Pythagoras had long devoted his intellectual adoration to the lofty idea
of _order_, which seemed to reveal itself to his mind, as the presiding
genius of the serene and silent world. He had, from his youth, dwelt
with delight upon the eternal relations of space, and determinate form,
and number, in which the very idea of _proportion_ seems to find its
first and immediate development, and without the latter of which
(number), all proportion is absolutely inconceivable. To this ardent
genius, whose inventive energies were daily adding new and surprising
contributions to the sum of discoverable relations, it at length began
to appear as if the whole secret of the universe was hidden in these
mysterious correspondences.

In making this extensive generalization, Pythagoras may, on his known
principles, be supposed to have reasoned as follows: The mind of man
perceives the relations of an eternal _order_ in the proportions of
space, and form, and number. That mind is, no doubt, a portion of the
soul which animates and governs the universe; for on what other
supposition shall we account for its internal principle of activity--the
very principle which characterizes the prime mover, and can scarce be
ascribed to an inferior nature? And on what other supposition are we to
explain the identity which subsists between the principles of order,
authenticated by the reason and the facts of order which are found to
exist in the forms and multiplicities around us, and independent of us?
Can this sameness be other than the sameness of the internal and
external principles of a common nature? The proportions of the universe
inhere in its divine soul; they are indeed its very essence, or at
least, its attributes. The ideas or principles of Order which are
implanted in the human reason, must inhere in the Divine Reason, and
must be reflected in the visible world, which is its product. Man, then,
can boldly affirm the necessary harmony of the world, because he has in
his own mind a revelation which declares that the world, in its real
structure, must be the image and copy of that divine _proportion_ which
he inwardly adores.[441]

[Footnote 441: It is an opinion which goes as far back as the time of
Plato, and even Pythagoras, and has ever since been widely entertained,
that beauty of _form_ consists in some sort of _proportion_ or _harmony_
which may admit of a mathematical expression; and later and more
scientific research is altogether in its favor. It is now established
that complementary colors, that is, colors which when combined make up
the full beam, are felt to be beautiful when seen simultaneously; that
is, the mind is made to delight in the unities of nature. At the basis
of music there are certain fixed ratios; and in poetry, of every
description, there are measures, and correspondencies. Pythagoras has
often been ridiculed for his doctrine of "the music of the spheres;" and
probably his doctrine was somewhat fanciful, but later science shows
that there is a harmony in all nature--in its forms, in its forces, and
in its motions. The highest unorganized and all organized objects take
definite forms which are regulated by mathematical laws. The forces of
nature can be estimated in numbers, and light and heat go in
undulations, whilst the movements of the great bodies in nature admit of
a precise quantitative expression. The harmonies of nature in respect of
color, of number, of form, and of time are forcibly exhibited in
"Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation," by M'Cosh.]

Again, the world is assuredly _perfect_, as being the sensible image and
copy of the Divinity, the outward and multiple development of the
Eternal Unity. It must, therefore, when thoroughly known and properly
interpreted, answer to all which we can conceive as perfect; that is, it
must be regulated by laws, of which we have the highest principles in
those first and elementary properties of numbers which stand next to
_unity_. "The world is then, through all its departments, _a living
arithmetic in its development, a realized geometry in its repose_." It
is a κόσμος (for the word is purely Pythagorean)--the expression of
_harmony_, the manifestation, to sense, of everlasting _order_.

Though Pythagoras found in geometry the fitting initiative for abstract
speculation, it is remarkable that he himself preferred to constitute
the science of Numbers as the true representative of the laws of the
universe. The reason appears to be this: that though geometry speaks
indeed of eternal truths, yet when the notion of symmetry and proportion
is introduced, it is often necessary to insist, in preference, upon the
properties of numbers. Hence, though the universe displays the geometry
of its Constructor or Animator, yet nature was eminently defined as the
μίμησις τῶν ἀριθμῶν--the imitation of numbers.

The key to all the Pythagorean dogmas, then, seems to be the general
formula of _unity in multiplicity_:--unity either evolving itself into
multiplicity, or unity discovered as pervading multiplicity. The
principle of all things, the same principle which in this philosophy, as
in others, was customarily called _Deity_, is the primitive unit from
which all proceeds in the accordant relations of the universal scheme.
Into the sensible world of multitude, the all-pervading Unity has
infused his own ineffable nature; he has impressed his own image upon
that world which is to represent him in the sphere of sense and man.
What, then, is that which is at once single and multiple, identical and
diversified--which we perceive as the combination of a thousand
elements, yet as the expression of a single spirit--which is a chaos to
the sense, a cosmos to the reason? What is it but
harmony--proportion--the one governing the many, the many lost in the
one? The world is therefore a _harmony_ in innumerable degrees, from the
most complicated to the most simple: it is now a Triad, combining the
Monad and the Duad, and partaking of the nature of both; now a Tetrad,
the form of perfection; now a Decad, which, in combining the four
former, involves, in its mystic nature, all the possible accordances of
the universe.[442]

The psychology of the Pythagoreans was greatly modified by their
physical, and still more, by their moral tenets. The soul was ἀριθμὸς
ἑαυτὸν κινῶν--a self-moving number or Monad, the copy (as we have seen)
of that Infinite Monad which unfolds from its own incomprehensible
essence all the relations of the universe. This soul has three elements,
Reason (νοῦς), Intelligence (φρήν), and Passion (θυμός). The two last,
man has in common with brutes, the first is his grand and peculiar
characteristic. It has, hence, been argued that Pythagoras could not
have held the doctrine of "transmigration." This clear separation of man
from the brute, by this signal endowment of reason, which is
sempiternal, seems a refutation of those who charge him with the

In the department of morals, the legislator of Crotona found his
appropriate sphere. In his use of numerical notation, moral good was
essential unity--evil, essential plurality and division. In the fixed
truths of mathematical abstractions he found the exemplars of social and
personal virtue. The rule or law of all morality is resemblance to God;
that is, the return of number to its root, to unity,[443] and virtue is
thus a harmony.

[Footnote 442: That is, 1+2+3+4=10. There are intimations that the
Pythagoreans regarded the Monad as God, the Duad as matter, the Triad as
the complex phenomena of the world, the Tetrad as the completeness of
all its relations, the Decad as the cosmos, or harmonious whole.]

[Footnote 443: Aristotle, "Nichomachian Ethics," bk. i. ch. vi.]

Thus have we, in Pythagoras, the dawn of an _Idealist_ school; for
mathematics are founded upon abstractions, and there is consequently an
intimate connection between mathematics and idealism. The relations of
space, and number, and determinate form, are, like the relations of
cause and effect, of phenomena and substance, perceptible _only in
thought_; and the mind which has been disciplined to abstract thought by
the study of mathematics, is prepared and disposed for purely
metaphysical studies. "The looking into mathematical learning is a kind
of prelude to the contemplation of real being."[444] Therefore Plato
inscribed over the door of his academy, "Let none but Geometricians
enter here." To the mind thus disciplined in abstract thinking, the
conceptions and ideas of reason have equal authority, sometimes even
superior authority, to the perceptions of sense.

[Footnote 444: Alcinous, "Introduction to the Doctrines of Plato," ch.

Now if the testimony of both reason and sense, as given in
consciousness, is accepted as of equal authority, and each faculty is
regarded as, within its own sphere, a source of real, valid knowledge,
then a consistent and harmonious system of _Natural Realism_ or _Natural
Dualism_ will be the result. If the testimony of sense is questioned and
distrusted, and the mind is denied any immediate knowledge of the
sensible world, and yet the existence of an external world is maintained
by various hypotheses and reasonings, the consequence will be a species
of _Hypothetical Dualism_ or _Cosmothetic Idealism_. But if the
affirmations of reason, as to the unity of the cosmos, are alone
accepted, and the evidence of the senses, as to the variety and
multiplicity of the world, is entirely disregarded, then we have a
system of _Absolute Idealism_. Pythagoras regarded the harmony which
pervades the diversified phenomena of the outer world as a manifestation
of the unity of its eternal principle, or as the perpetual evolution of
that unity, and the consequent _tendency_ of his system was to
depreciate the _sensible_. Following out this tendency, the Eleatics
first neglected, and finally denied the variety of the universe--denied
the real existence of the external world, and asserted an absolute
_metaphysical_ unity.

_Xenophanes of Colophon_, in Ionia (B.C. 616-516), was the founder of
this celebrated school of Elea. He left Ionia, and arrived in Italy
about the same time as Pythagoras, bringing with him to Italy his Ionian
tendencies; he there amalgamated them with Pythagorean speculations.

Pythagoras had succeeded in fixing the attention of his countrymen on
the harmony which pervades the material world, and had taught them to
regard that harmony as the manifestation of the intelligence, and unity,
and perfection of its eternal principle. Struck with this idea of
harmony and of unity, Xenophanes, who was a poet, a rhapsodist, and
therefore by native tendency, rather than by intellectual discipline, an
Idealist, begins already to attach more importance to _unity_ than
multiplicity in his philosophy of nature. He regards the testimony of
reason as of more authority than the testimony of sense; "and he holds
badly enough the balance between the unity of the Pythagoreans and the
variety which Heraclitus and the Ionians had alone considered."[445]

We are not, however, to suppose that Xenophanes denied entirely the
existence of _plurality_. "The great Rhapsodist of Truth" was guided by
the spontaneous intuitions of his mind (which seemed to partake of the
character of an inspiration), to a clearer vision of the truth than were
his successors of the same school by their discursive reasonings. "The
One" of Xenophanes was clearly distinguished from the outward universe
(τὰ πολλά) on the one hand, and from the "_non-ens_" on the other. It
was his disciple, Parmenides, who imagined the logical necessity of
identifying plurality with the "_non-ens_" and thus denying all
immediate cognition of the phenomenal world. The compactness and logical
coherence of the system of Parmenides seems to have had a peculiar charm
for the Grecian mind, and to have diverted the eyes of antiquity from
the views of the more earnest and devout Xenophanes, whose opinions were
too often confounded with those of his successors of the Eleatic school.
"Accordingly we find that Xenophanes has obtained credit for much that
is, exclusively, the property of Parmenides and Zeno, in particular for
denying plurality, and for identifying God with the universe."[446]

[Footnote 445: Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 440.]

[Footnote 446: See note by editor, W.H. Thompson, M.A., on pages 331,
332 of Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. His authorities are "Fragments of
Xenophanes" and the treatise "De Melisso, Xenophane, et Gorgia," by

In theology, Xenophanes was unquestionably a _Theist_. He had a profound
and earnest conviction of the existence of a God, and he ridiculed with
sarcastic force, the anthropomorphic absurdities of the popular
religion. This one God, he taught, was self-existent, eternal, and
infinite; supreme in power, in goodness, and intelligence.[447] These
characteristics are ascribed to the Deity in the sublime words with
which he opens his philosophic poem--

     "There is one God, of all beings, divine and human, the greatest:
     Neither in body alike unto mortals, neither in mind."

He has no parts, no organs, as men have, being

     "All sight, all ear, all intelligence;
     Wholly exempt from toil, he sways all things by _thought_ and                                                            _will_."[448]

Xenophanes also taught that God is "uncreated" or "uncaused," and that
he is "excellent" as well as "all-powerful."[449] And yet, regardless of
these explicit utterances, Lewes cautions his readers against supposing
that, by the "one God," Xenophanes meant a Personal God; and he asserts
that his Monotheism was Pantheism. A doctrine, however, which ascribes
to the Divine Being moral as well as intellectual supremacy, which
acknowledges an outward world distinct from Him, and which represents
Him as causing the changes in that universe by the acts of an
intelligent volition, can only by a strange perversion of language be
called pantheism.

[Footnote 447: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 38;
Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 428, 429.]

[Footnote 448: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp.
432, 434.]

[Footnote 449: Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 331, note; Ritter's
"History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 428.]

_Parmenides of Elea_ (born B.C. 536) was the philosopher who framed the
psychological opinions of the Idealist school into a precise and
comprehensive system. He was the first carefully to distinguish between
_Truth_ (ἀλήθειαν) and _Opinion_ (δοξαν)--between ideas obtained through
the reason and the simple perceptions of sense. Assuming that reason and
sense are the only sources of knowledge, he held that they furnish the
mind with two distinct classes of cognitions--one variable, fleeting,
and uncertain; the other immutable, necessary, and eternal. Sense is
dependent on the variable organization of the individual, and therefore
its evidence is changeable, uncertain, and nothing but a mere
"_seeming_." Reason is the same in all individuals, and therefore its
evidence is constant, real, and true. Philosophy is, therefore, divided
into two branches--_Physics_ and _Metaphysics_; one, a science of
absolute knowledge; the other, a science of mere appearances. The first
science, Physics, is pronounced illusory and uncertain; the latter,
Metaphysics, is infallible and immutable.[450]

Proceeding on these principles, he rejects the dualistic system of the
universe, and boldly declared that all essences are fundamentally
_one_--that, in fact, there is no real plurality, and that all the
diversity which "appears" is merely presented under a peculiar aesthetic
or sensible law. The senses, it is true, teach us that there are "many
things," but reason affirms that, at bottom, there exists only "the
one." Whatever, therefore, manifests itself in the field of sense is
merely illusory--the mental representation of a phenomenal world, which
to experience seems diversified, but which reason can not possibly admit
to be other than "immovable" and "one." There is but one Being in the
universe, eternal, immovable, absolute; and of this unconditioned being
all phenomenal existences, whether material or mental, are but the
attributes and modes. Hence the two great maxims of the Eleatic school,
derived from Parmenides--τὰ πάντα ἕν, "_The All is One_" and τὸ αὐτὸ
νοεῖν τε καὶ εἶναι (Idem est cogitare atque esse), "_Thought and Being
are identical._" The last remarkable dictum is the fundamental principle
of the modern pantheistic doctrine of "absolute identity" as taught by
Schelling and Hegel.[451]

[Footnote 450: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp.
447, 451.]

[Footnote 451: Id., ib., vol. i. pp. 450, 455.]

Lewes asserts that "Parmenides did not, with Xenophanes, call 'the One'
God; he called it Being.[452] In support of this statement he, however,
cites no ancient authorities. We are therefore justified in rejecting
his opinion, and receiving the testimony of Simplicius, "the only
authority for the fragments of the Eleatics,"[453] and who had a copy of
the philosophic poems of Parmenides. He assures us that Parmenides and
Xenophanes "affirmed that '_the One,_' or unity, was the first Principle
of all,....they meaning by this One _that highest or supreme God_, as
being the cause of unity to all things.... It remaineth, therefore, that
that _Intelligence_ which is the cause of all things, and therefore of
mind and understanding also, in which all things are comprehended in
unity, was Parmenides' one Ens or Being.[454] Parmenides was, therefore,
a spiritualistic or idealistic Pantheist.

_Zeno of Elea_ (born B.C. 500) was the logician of the Eleatic school.
He was, says Diogenes Laertius, "the inventor of Dialectics."[455] Logic
henceforth becomes the ὄργανον[456]--organon of the Eleatics.

[Footnote 452: "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 50.]

[Footnote 453: Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Simplicius."]

[Footnote 454: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 511.]

[Footnote 455: "Lives," p. 387 (Bohn's edition).]

[Footnote 456: Plato in "Parmen."]

This organon, however, Zeno used very imperfectly. In his hands it was
simply the "reductio ad absurdum" of opposing opinions as the means of
sustaining the tenets of his own sect. Parmenides had asserted, on _à
priori_ grounds, the existence of "the One." Zeno would prove by his
dialectic the non-existence of "the many." His grand position was that
all phenomena, all that appears to sense, is but a _modification_ of the
absolute One. And he displays a vast amount of dialectic subtilty in the
effort to prove that all "appearances" are unreal, and that all movement
and change is a mere "seeming"--not a reality. What men call motion is
only a name given to a series of conditions, each of which, considered
separately, is rest. "Rest is force resistant; motion is force
triumphant."[457] The famous puzzle of "Achilles and the Tortoise," by
which he endeavored to prove the unreality of motion, has been rendered
familiar to the English reader.[458]

[Footnote 457: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 60.]

[Footnote 458: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp.
475, 476.]

Aristotle assures us that Zeno, "by his one Ens, which neither was moved
nor movable, meaneth God." And he also informs us that "Zeno endeavored
to demonstrate that there is but one God, from the idea which all men
have of him, as that which is the best, supremest, most powerful of all,
or an absolutely perfect being" ("De Xenophane, Zenone, et

With Zeno we close our survey of the second grand line of independent
inquiry by which philosophy sought to solve the problem of the universe.
The reader will be struck with the resemblance which subsists between
the history of its development and that of the modern Idealist school.
Pythagoras was the Descartes, Parmenides the Spinoza, and Zeno the Hegel
of the Italian school.

In this survey of the speculations of the pre-Socratic schools of
philosophy, we have followed the course of two opposite streams of
thought which had their common origin in one fundamental principle or
law of the human mind--the _intuition of unity_--"or the desire to
comprehend all the facts of the universe in a single formula, and
consummate all conditional knowledge in the unity of unconditioned
existence." The history of this tendency is, in fact, the history of all
philosophy. "The end of all philosophy," says Plato, "is the intuition
of unity." "All knowledge," said the Platonists, "is the gathering up
into one."[460]

[Footnote 459: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 518.]

[Footnote 460: Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. pp. 67-70 (English

Starting from this fundamental idea, _that, beneath the endless flux and
change of the visible universe, there must be a permanent principle of
unity_, we have seen developed two opposite schools of speculative
thought. As the traveller, standing on the ridges of the Andes, may see
the head-waters of the great South American rivers mingling in one, so
the student of philosophy, standing on the elevated plane of analytic
thought, may discover, in this fundamental principle, the common source
of the two great systems of speculative thought which divided the
ancient world. Here are the head-waters of the sensational and the
idealist schools. The Ionian school started its course of inquiry in the
direction of _sense_; it occupied itself solely with the phenomena of
the external world, and it sought this principle of unity in a
_physical_ element. The Italian school started its course of inquiry in
the direction of _reason_; it occupied itself chiefly with rational
conceptions or _à priori_ ideas, and it sought this principle of unity
in purely _metaphysical_ being. And just as the Amazon and La Plata
sweep on, in opposite directions, until they reach the extremities of
the continent, so these two opposite streams of thought rush onward, by
the force of a logical necessity, until they terminate in the two
Unitarian systems of _Absolute Materialism_ and _Absolute Idealism_,
and, in their theological aspects, in a pantheism which, on the one
hand, identifies God with matter, or, on the other hand, swallows up the
universe in God.

The radical error of both these systems is at once apparent. The
testimony of the primary faculties of the mind was not regarded as each,
within its sphere, final and decisive. The duality of consciousness was
not accepted in all its integrity; one school rejected the testimony of
reason, the other denied the veracity of the senses, and both prepared
the way for the _skepticism_ of the Sophists.

We must not, however, lose sight of the fact that there were some
philosophers of the pre-Socratic school, as Anaxagoras and Empedocles,
who recognized the partial and exclusive character of both these
systems, and sought, by a method which Cousin would designate as
Eclecticism, to combine the element of truth contained in each.

_Anaxagoras of Clazomencœ_ (B.C. 500-428) added to the Ionian philosophy
of a material element or elements the Italian idea of a _spirit_
distinct from, and independent of the world, which has within itself the
principle of a spontaneous activity--Νοῦς αὐτοκρατής, and which is the
first cause of motion in the universe--ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως.[461]

[Footnote 461: Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 411.]

In his physical theory, Anaxagoras was an Atomist. Instead of one
element, he declared that the elements or first principles were
numerous, or even infinite. No point in space is unoccupied by these
atoms, which are infinitely divisible. He imagined that, in nature,
there are as many kinds of principles as there are species of compound
bodies, and that the peculiar form of the primary particles of which any
body is composed is the same with the qualities of the compound body
itself. This was the celebrated doctrine of _Homœomeria_, of which
Lucretius furnishes a luminous account in his philosophic poem "De
Natura Rerum"--

                        "That bone from bones
     Minute, and embryon; nerve from nerves arise;
     And blood from blood, by countless drops increased.
     Gold, too, from golden atoms, earths concrete,
     From earths extreme; from fiery matters, fire;
     And lymph from limpen dews. And thus throughout
     From primal kinds that kinds perpetual spring."[462]

These primary particles were regarded by Anaxagoras as eternal; because
he held the dogma, peculiar to all the Ionians, that nothing can be
really created or annihilated (de nihilo nihil, in nihilum nil posse
reverti). But he saw, nevertheless, that the simple existence of
"_inert_" matter, even from eternity, could not explain the motion and
the harmony of the material world. Hence he saw the necessity of another
power--_the power of Intelligence_. "All things were in chaos; then came
Intelligence and introduced Order."[463]

Anaxagoras, unlike the pantheistic speculators of the Ionian school,
rigidly separated the Supreme Intelligence from the material universe.
The Νοῦς of Anaxagoras is a principle, infinite, independent
(αὺτοκρατές), omnipresent (ἐν παντὶ παντὸς μοίοα ἔνον), the subtilest
and purest of things (λεπτότατον πάντων χρημάτων καὶ καθαρώτατον); and
incapable of mixture with aught besides; it is also omniscient (πάντα
ἔγνω), and unchangeable (πᾶς ὁμοῖός ἐστι).--Simplicius, in "Arist.
Phys." i. 33.[464]

[Footnote 462: Good's translation, bk. i. p. 325.]

[Footnote 463: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 59.]

[Footnote 464: Butler's "Lectures on Philosophy," vol. i. p. 305, note.]

Thus did Anaxagoras bridge the chasm between the Ionian and the Italian
schools. He accepted both doctrines with some modifications. He believed
in the real existence of the phenomenal world, and he also believed in
the real existence of "The Infinite Mind," whose Intelligence and
Omnipotence were manifested in the laws and relations which pervade the
world. He proclaimed the existence of the Infinite Intelligence ("the
ONE"), who was the Architect and Governor of the Infinite Matter ("the

On the question as to the origin and certainty of human knowledge,
Anaxagoras differed both from the Ionians and the Eleatics. Neither the
sense alone, nor the reason alone, were for him a ground of certitude.
He held that reason (λόγος) was the regulative faculty of the mind, as
the Νοῦς, or Supreme Intelligence, was the regulative power of the
universe. And he admitted that the senses were veracious in their
reports; but they reported only in regard to phenomena. The senses,
then, perceive _phenomena_, but it is the reason alone which recognizes
_noumena_, that is, the reason perceives being in and through phenomena,
substance in and through qualities; an anticipation of the fundamental
principle of modern psychology--"_that every power or substance in
existence is knowable to us, so far only, as we know its phenomena_."
Thus, again, does he bridge the chasm that separates between the
Sensationalist and the Idealist. The Ionians relied solely on the
intuitions of sense; the Eleatics accepted only the apperceptions of
pure reason; he accepted the testimony of both, and in the synthesis of
subject and object--the union of an element supplied by sensation, and
an element supplied by reason, he found real, certain knowledge.

The harmony which the doctrine of Anaxagoras introduced into the
philosophy of Athens, soon attracted attention and multiplied disciples.
He was teaching when Socrates arrived in Athens, and the latter attended
his school. The influence which the doctrine of Anaxagoras exerted upon
the mind of Socrates (leading him to recognize Intelligence as the cause
of order and special adaptation in the universe),[465] and also upon the
course of philosophy in the Socratic schools, is the most enduring
memorial of his name.[466]

[Footnote 465: "Phaedo," § 105.]

[Footnote 466: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iii.]

We have devoted a much larger space than we originally designed to the
ante-Socratic schools--quite out of proportion, indeed, with that we
shall be able to appropriate to their successors. But inasmuch as all
the great primary problems of thought, which are subsequently discussed
by Plato and Aristotle, were started, and received, at least, typical
answers in those schools, we can not hope to understand Plato, or
Aristotle, or even Epicurus, or Zeno of Cittium, unless we have first
mastered the doctrines of Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, and
Anaxagoras.[467] The attention we have bestowed on these early thinkers
will, therefore, have been a valuable preparatory discipline for the
study of


The first cycle of philosophy was now complete. That form of Grecian
speculative thought which, during the first period of its development,
was a philosophy of nature, had reached its maturity; it had sought "the
first principles of all things" in the study of external nature, and had
signally failed. In this pursuit of first principles as the basis of a
true and certain knowledge of the system of the universe, the two
leading schools had been carried to opposite poles of thought. One had
asserted that _experience_ alone, the other, that _reason_ alone was the
sole criterion of truth. As the last consequence of this imperfect
method, Leucippus had denied the existence of "the one," and Zeno had
denied the existence of "the many." The Ionian school, in Democritus,
had landed in Materialism; the Italian, in Parmenides, had ended in
Pantheism; and, as the necessary result of this partial and defective
method of inquiry, which ended in doubt and contradiction, a spirit of
general skepticism was generated in the Athenian mind. If doubt be cast
upon the veracity of the primary cognitive faculties of the mind, the
flood-gates of universal skepticism are opened. If the senses are
pronounced to be mendacious and illusory in their reports regarding
external phenomena, and if the intuitions of the reason, in regard to
the ground and cause of phenomena, are delusive, then we have no ground
of certitude. If one faculty is unveracious and unreliable, how can we
determine that the other is not equally so? There is, then, no such
thing as universal and necessary truth. Truth is variable and uncertain,
as the variable opinion of each individual.

[Footnote 467: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 114; Butler's
"Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. pp. 87, 88.]

The Sophists, who belonged to no particular school, laid hold on the
elements of skepticism contained in both the pre-Socratic schools of
philosophy, and they declared that "the σοφία" was not only
unattainable, but that no relative degree of it was possible for the
human faculties.[468] Protagoras of Abdera accepted the doctrine of
Heraclitus, that thought is identical with sensation, and limited by it;
he therefore declared that there is no criterion of truth, and _Man is
the measure of all things_.[469] Sextus Empiricus gives the
psychological opinions of Protagoras with remarkable explicitness.
"Matter is in a perpetual flux, whilst it undergoes augmentations and
losses; the senses also are modified according to the age and
disposition of the body. He said, also, that the reason of all phenomena
resides in matter as substrata, so that matter, in itself, might be
whatever it appeared to each. But men have different perceptions at
different periods, according to the changes in the things perceived....
Man is, therefore, the criterion of that which exists; all that is
perceived by him exists; _that which is perceived by no man does not
exist_."[470] These conclusions were rigidly and fearlessly applied to
ethics and political science. If there is no Eternal Truth, there can be
no Immutable Right. The distinction of right and wrong is solely a
matter of human opinion and conventional usage.[471] "That which
_appears_ just and honorable to each city, is so for _that city_, so
long as the opinion prevails."[472]

[Footnote 468: Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Sophist."]

[Footnote 469: Plato's "Theætetus" (άνθρωπος--"the individual is the
measure of all things"), vol. i. p. 381 (Bohn's edition).]

[Footnote 470: Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 117.]

[Footnote 471: "Gorgias," § 85-89.]

[Footnote 472: Plato's "Theætetus," § 65-75.]

There were others who laid hold on the weapons which Zeno had prepared
to their hands. He had asserted that all the objects of sense were mere
phantoms--delusive and transitory. By the subtilties of dialectic
quibbling, he had attempted to prove that "change" meant "permanence,"
and "motion" meant "rest."[473] Words may, therefore, have the most
opposite and contradictory meanings; and all language and all opinion
may, by such a process, be rendered uncertain. One opinion is,
consequently, for the individual, just as good as another; and all
opinions are equally true and untrue. It was nevertheless desirable, for
the good of society, that there should be some agreement, and that, for
a time at least, certain opinions should prevail; and if philosophy had
failed to secure this agreement, rhetoric, at least, was effectual; and,
with the Sophist, rhetoric was "the art of making the worst appear the
better reason." All wisdom was now confined to a species of "word
jugglery," which in Athens was dignified as "the art of disputation."

[Footnote 473: "And do we not know that the Eleatic Palamedes (Zeno)
spoke by art in such a manner that the same things appeared to be
similar and dissimilar, one and many, at rest and in
motion?"--"Phædrus," § 97.]

SOCRATES (B.C. 469-399), the grand central figure in the group of
ancient philosophers, arrived in Athens in the midst of this general
skepticism. He had an invincible faith in truth. "He made her the
mistress of his soul, and with patient labor, and unwearied energy, did
his great and noble soul toil after perfect communion with her." He was
disappointed and dissatisfied with the results that had been reached by
the methods of his predecessors, and he was convinced that by these
methods the problem of the universe could not be solved. He therefore
turned away from physical inquiries, and devoted his whole attention to
the study of the human mind, its fundamental beliefs, ideas, and laws.
If he can not penetrate the mysteries of the outer world, he will turn
his attention to the world within. He will "know himself," and find
within himself the reason, and ground, and law of all existence. There
he discovered certain truths which can not possibly be questioned. He
felt he had within his own heart a faithful monitor--a _conscience_,
which he regarded as the voice of God.[474] He believed "he had a divine
teacher with him at all times. Though he did not possess wisdom, this
teacher could put him on the road to seek it, could preserve him from
delusions which might turn him out of the way, could keep his mind fixed
upon the end for which he ought to act and live."[475] In himself,
therefore, he sought that ground of certitude which should save him from
the prevailing skepticism of his times. The Delphic inscription, Γνῶθι
σεαντόν, "_know thyself_" becomes henceforth the fundamental maxim of

[Footnote 474: The Dæmon of Socrates has been the subject of much
discussion among learned men. The notion, once generally received, that
his _δαίμων_ was "a familiar genius," is now regarded as an exploded
error. "Nowhere does Socrates, in Plato or Xenophon, speak of _a_ genius
or demon, but always of a _dœmoniac something (το δαιμόνιον_, or
_δαιμόνιν τι_), or of a _sign_, a _voice_, a _divine sign_, a _divine
voice_" (Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 166).
"Socrates always speaks of a _divine or supernatural somewhat_ ('divinum
quiddam,' as Cicero has it), the nature of which he does not attempt to
divine, and to which he never attributes personality" (Butler's
"Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 357). The scholar need not
to be informed that _το δαιμόνιον_, in classic literature, means the
divine Essence (Lat. _numen_), to which are attributed events beyond
man's power, yet not to be assigned to any special god.]

[Footnote 475: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 124.]

Truth has a rational, _à priori_ foundation in the constitution of the
human mind. There are _ideas_ connatural to the human reason which are
the copies of those archetypal ideas which belong to the Eternal Reason.
The grand problem of philosophy, therefore, now is--_What are these
fundamental_ IDEAS _which are unchangeable and permanent, amid all the
diversifies of human opinion, connecting appearance with reality, and
constituting a ground of certain knowledge or absolute truth_? Socrates
may not have held the doctrine of ideas as exhibited by Plato, but he
certainly believed that there were germs of truth latent in the human
mind--principles which governed, unconsciously, the processes of
thought, and that these could be developed by reflection and by
questioning. These were embryonate in the womb of reason, coming to the
birth, but needing the "maieutic" or "obstetric" art, that they might be
brought forth.[476] He would, therefore, become the accoucheur of ideas,
and deliver minds of that secret truth which lay in their mental
constitution. And thus _Psychology_ becomes the basis of all legitimate

[Footnote 476: Plato's "Theætetus," § 22.]

By the general consent of antiquity, as well as by the concurrent
judgment of all modern historians of philosophy, Socrates is regarded as
having effected a complete revolution in philosophic thought, and, by
universal consent, he is placed at the commencement of a new era in
philosophy. Schleiermacher has said, "the service which Socrates
rendered tο philosophy consisted not so much in the truths arrived at
_as in the_ METHOD _by which truth is sought_." As Bacon inaugurated a
new method in physical inquiry, so Socrates inaugurated a new method in
metaphysical inquiry.

What, then, was this _new method_? It was no other than the _inductive_
method applied to the facts of consciousness. This method is thus
defined by Aristotle: "Induction is the process from particulars to
generals;" that is, it is the process of discovering laws from facts,
causes from effects, being from phenomena. But how is this process of
induction conducted? By observing and enumerating the real facts which
are presented in consciousness, by noting their relations of resemblance
or difference, and by classifying these facts by the aid of these
relations. In other words, it is _analysis_ applied to the phenomena of
mind.[477] Now Socrates gave this method of psychological analysis to
Greek philosophy. There are two things of which Socrates must justly be
regarded as the author,--the _inductive reasoning_ and _abstract
definition_.[478] We readily grant that Socrates employed this method
imperfectly, for methods are the last things perfected in science; but
still, the Socratic movement was a vast movement in the right direction.

[Footnote 477: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 30.]

[Footnote 478: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," vol. xii. ch. iv. p. 359
(Bohn's edition).]

In what are usually regarded as the purely Socratic dialogues,[479]
Plato evidently designs to exhibit this method of Socrates. They proceed
continually on the firm conviction that there is a standard or criterion
of truth in the reason of man, and that, by _reflection_, man can
apprehend and recognize the truth. To awaken this power of reflection;
to compel men to analyze their language and their thoughts; to lead them
from the particular and the contingent, to the universal and the
necessary; and to teach them to test their opinions by the inward
standard of truth, was the aim of Socrates. These dialogues are a
picture of the conversations of Socrates. They are literally an
education of the thinking faculty. Their purpose is to discipline men to
think for themselves, rather than to furnish opinions for them. In many
of these dialogues Socrates affirms nothing. After producing many
arguments, and examining a question on all sides, he leaves it
undetermined. At the close of the dialogue he is as far from a
declaration of opinions as at the commencement. His grand effort, like
that of Bacon's, is to furnish men a correct method of inquiry, rather
than to apply that method and give them results.

[Footnote 479: "Laches," "Charmides," "Lysis," "The Rivals," "First and
Second Alcibiades," "Theages," "Clitophon." See Whewell's translation,
vol. i.]

We must not, however, from thence conclude that Socrates did not himself
attain any definite conclusions, or reach any specific and valuable
results. When, in reply to his friends who reported the answer of the
oracle of Delphi, that "Socrates was the wisest of men," he said, "he
supposed the oracle declared him wise _because he knew nothing_," he did
not mean that true knowledge was unattainable, for his whole life had
been spent in efforts to attain it. He simply indicates the disposition
of mind which is most befitting and most helpful to the seeker after
truth. He must be conscious of his own ignorance. He must not exalt
himself. He must not put his own conceits in the way of the thing he
would know. He must have an open eye, a single purpose, an honest mind,
to prepare him to receive light when it comes. And that there is light,
that there is a source whence light comes, he avowed in every word and

Socrates unquestionably believed in one Supreme God, the immaterial,
infinite Governor of all. He cherished that instinctive, spontaneous
faith in God and his Providence which is the universal faith of the
human heart. He saw this faith revealed in the religious sentiments of
all nations, and in the tendency to worship so universally
characteristic of humanity.[480] He appealed to the consciousness of
absolute dependence--the persuasion, wrought by God in the minds of all
men, that "He is able to make men happy or miserable," and the
consequent sense of obligation which teaches man he ought to obey God.
And he regarded with some degree of affectionate tenderness the common
sentiment of his countrymen, that the Divine Government was conducted
through the ministry of subordinate deities or generated gods. But he
sought earnestly to prevent the presence of these subordinate agents
from intercepting the clear view of the Supreme God.

The faith of Socrates was not, however, grounded on mere feeling and
sentiment. He endeavored to place the knowledge of God on a rational
basis. We can not read the arguments he employed without being convinced
that he anticipated all the subsequent writers on Natural Theology in
his treatment of the argument from _special ends_ or _final causes_. We
venture to abridge the account which is given by Xenophon of the
conversation with Aristodemus:[481]

[Footnote 480: "Memorabilia," bk. i. ch. iv. § 16.]

[Footnote 481: Ibid., bk. i. ch. iv.]

"I will now relate the manner in which I once heard Socrates discoursing
with Aristodemus concerning the Deity; for, observing that he never
prayed nor sacrificed to the gods, but, on the contrary, ridiculed those
who did, he said to him:

"'Tell me, Aristodemus, is there any man you admire on account of his
merits? Aristodemus having answered, 'Many,--'Name some of them, I pray
you,' said Socrates. 'I admire,' said Aristodemus, 'Homer for his Epic
poetry, Melanippides for his dithyrambics, Sophocles for his tragedy,
Polycletus for statuary, and Zeuxis for painting.'

"'But which seemed to you most worthy of admiration, Aristodemus--the
artist who forms images void of motion and intelligence, or one who has
skill to produce animals that are endued, not only with activity, but

"'The latter, there can be no doubt,' replied Aristodemus, 'provided the
production was not the effect of chance, but of wisdom and contrivance.'

"'But since there are many things, some of which we can easily see the
use of, while we can not say of others to what purpose they are
produced, which of these, Aristodemus, do you suppose the work of

"'It would seem the most reasonable to affirm it of those whose fitness
and utility are so evidently apparent,' answered Aristodemus.

"'But it is evidently apparent that He who, at the beginning, made man,
endued him with senses because they were good for him; eyes wherewith to
behold what is visible, and ears to hear whatever was heard; for, say,
Aristodemus, to what purpose should odor be prepared, if the sense of
smelling had been denied or why the distinction of bitter or sweet, of
savory or unsavory, unless a palate had been likewise given,
conveniently placed to arbitrate between them and proclaim the
difference? Is not that Providence, Aristodemus, in a most eminent
manner conspicuous, which, because the eye of a man is so delicate in
its contexture, hath therefore prepared eyelids like doors whereby to
secure it, which extend of themselves whenever it is needful, and again
close when sleep approaches? Are not these eyelids provided, as it were,
with a fence on the edge of them to keep off the wind and guard the eye?
Even the eyebrow itself is not without its office, but, as a penthouse,
is prepared to turn off the sweat, which falling from the forehead might
enter and annoy that no less tender than astonishing part of us. Is it
not to be admired that the ears should take in sounds of every sort, and
yet are not too much filled with them? That the fore teeth of the animal
should be formed in such a manner as is evidently best for cutting, and
those on the side for grinding it to pieces? That the mouth, through
which this food is conveyed, should be placed so near the nose and eyes
as to prevent the passing unnoticed whatever is unfit for
nourishment?... And canst thou still doubt, Aristodemus, whether a
_disposition of parts like this should be a work of chance, or of wisdom
and contrivance_?'

"'I have no longer any doubt,' replied Aristodemus; 'and, indeed, the
more I consider it, the more evident it appears to me that man must be
the masterpiece of some great Artificer, carrying along with it infinite
marks of the love and favor of Him who hath thus formed it.'

"'But, further (unless thou desirest to ask me questions), seeing,
Aristodemus, thou thyself art conscious of reason and intelligence,
supposest thou there is no intelligence elsewhere? Thou knowest thy body
to be a small part of that wide-extended earth thou everywhere
beholdest; the moisture contained in it thou also knowest to be a
portion of that mighty mass of waters whereof seas themselves are but a
part, while the rest of the elements contribute out of their abundance
to thy formation. It is the _soul_, then, alone, that intellectual part
of us, which is come to thee by some lucky chance, from I know not
where. If so, there is no intelligence elsewhere; and we must be forced
to confess that this stupendous universe, with all the various bodies
contained therein--equally amazing, whether we consider their magnitude
or number, whatever their use, whatever their order--all have been
produced by chance, not by intelligence!'

"'It is with difficulty that I can suppose otherwise,' returned
Aristodemus; 'for I behold none of those gods whom you speak of as
framing and governing the world; whereas I see the artists when at their
work here among us.'

"'Neither yet seest thou thy soul, Aristodemus, which, however, most
assuredly governs thy body; although it may well seem, by thy manner of
talking, that it is chance and not reason which governs thee.'

"'I do not despise the gods,' said Aristodemus; 'on the contrary, I
conceive so highly of their excellency, as to suppose they stand in no
need of me or of my services.'

"'Thou mistakest the matter,' Aristodemus, 'the great magnificence they
have shown in their care of thee, so much the more honor and service
thou owest them.'

"'Be assured,' said Aristodemus, 'if I once could persuade myself the
gods take care of man, I should want no monitor to remind me of my

"'And canst thou doubt, Aristodemus, if the gods take care of man? Hath
not the glorious privilege of walking upright been alone bestowed on
him, whereby he may with the better advantage survey what is around him,
contemplate with more ease those splendid objects which are above, and
avoid the numerous ills and inconveniences which would otherwise befall
him? Other animals, indeed, they have provided with feet; but to man
they have also given hands, with which he can form many things for use,
and make himself happier than creatures of any other kind. A tongue hath
been bestowed on every other animal; but what animal, except man, hath
the power of forming words with it whereby to explain his thoughts and
make them intelligible to others? But it is not with respect to the body
alone that the gods have shown themselves bountiful to man. Their most
excellent gift is that of a soul they have infused into him, which so
far surpasses what is elsewhere to be found; for by what animal except
man is even the existence of the gods discovered, who have produced and
still uphold in such regular order this beautiful and stupendous frame
of the universe? What other creature is to be found that can serve and
adore them?... In thee, Aristodemus, has been joined to a wonderful soul
a body no less wonderful; and sayest thou, after this, the gods take no
thought for me? What wouldst thou, then, more to convince thee of their

"'I would they should send and inform me,' said Aristodemus, 'what
things I ought or ought not to do, in like manner as thou sayest they
frequently do to thee.'"

In reply, Socrates shows that the revelations of God which are made in
nature, in history, in consciousness, and by oracles, are made _for_ all
men and _to_ all men. He then concludes with these remarkable words:
"As, therefore, amongst men we make best trial of the affection and
gratitude of our neighbor by showing him kindness, and make discovery of
his wisdom by consulting him in our distress, do thou, in like manner,
behave towards the gods; and if thou wouldst experience what their
wisdom and their love, render thyself deserving of some of those divine
secrets which may not be penetrated by man, and are imparted to those
alone who consult, who adore, and who obey the Deity. Then shalt thou,
my Aristodemus, understand _there is a Being whose eye passes through
all nature, and whose ear is open to every sound; extended to all
places, extending through all time; and whose bounty and care can know
no other bounds than those fixed by his own creation_".[482]

[Footnote 482: Lewes's translation, in "Biog. History of Philosophy,"
pp. 160-165.]

Socrates was no less earnest in his belief in the immortality of the
soul, and a state of future retribution. He had reverently listened to
the intuitions of his own soul--the instinctive longings and aspirations
of his own heart, as a revelation from God. He felt that all the powers
and susceptibilities of his inward nature were in conscious adaptation
to the idea of immortality, and that its realization was the appropriate
destiny of man. He was convinced that a future life was needed to avenge
the wrongs and reverse the unjust judgments of the present life;[483]
needed that virtue may receive its meet reward, and the course of
Providence may have its amplest vindication. He saw this faith reflected
in the universal convictions of mankind, and the "common traditions" of
all ages.[484] No one refers more frequently than Socrates to the grand
old mythologic stories which express this faith; to Minos, and
Rhadamanthus, and Æacus, and Triptolemus, who are "real judges," and
who, in "the Place of Departed Spirits, administer _justice_."[485] He
believed that in that future state the pursuit of wisdom would be his
chief employment, and he anticipated the pleasure of mingling in the
society of the wise, and good, and great of every age.

[Footnote 483: "Apology," § 32, p. 329 (Whewell's edition).]

[Footnote 484: Ibid.]

[Footnote 485: "Apology," p. 330.]

Whilst, then, Socrates was not the first to teach the doctrine of
immortality, because no one could be said to have first _discovered_ it
any more than to have first discovered the existence of a God, he was
certainly the first to place it upon a philosophic basis. The Phædo
presents the doctrine and the _reasoning_ by which Socrates had elevated
his mind above the fear of death. Some of the arguments may be purely
Platonic, the argument especially grounded on "ideas;" still, as a
whole, it must be regarded as a tolerably correct presentation of the
manner in which Socrates would prove the immortality of the soul.

In _Ethics_, Socrates was pre-eminently himself. The systematic
resolution of the whole theory of society into the elementary principle
of natural law, was peculiar to him. _Justice_ was the cardinal
principle which must lie at the foundation of all good government. The
word σοφια--_wisdom_--included all excellency in personal morals,
whether as manifested (reflectively) in the conduct of one's self, or
(socially) towards others. And _Happiness_, in its purity and
perfection, can only be found in virtuous action.[486]

[Footnote 486: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp.
360, 361.]

Socrates left nothing behind him that could with propriety be called a
_school_. His chief glory is that he inaugurated a new _method_ of
inquiry, which, in Plato and Aristotle, we shall see applied. He gave a
new and vital impulse to human thought, which endured for ages; "and he
left, as an inheritance for humanity, the example of a heroic life
devoted wholly to the pursuit of truth, and crowned with martyrdom."



THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).


We have seen that the advent of Socrates marks a new era in the history
of speculative thought. Greek philosophy, which at first was a
philosophy of nature, now changes its direction, its character, and its
method, and becomes a philosophy of mind. This, of course, does not mean
that now it had mind alone for its object; on the contrary, it tended,
as indeed philosophy must always tend, to the conception of a rational
ideal or _intellectual system of the universe_. It started from the
phenomena of mind, began with the study of human thought, and it made
the knowledge of mind, of its ideas and laws, the basis of a higher
philosophy, which should interpret all nature. In other words, it
proceeded from psychology, through dialectics, to ontology.[487]

[Footnote 487: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 413.]

This new movement we have designated in general terms as the _Socratic
School_. Not that we are to suppose that, in any technical sense,
Socrates founded _a_ school. The Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa, and the
Garden, were each the chosen resort of distinct philosophic sects, the
locality of separate schools; but Athens itself, the whole city, was the
scene of the studies, the conversations, and the labors of Socrates. He
wandered through the streets absorbed in thought. Sometimes he stood
still for hours lost in profoundest meditation; at other times he might
be seen in the market-place, surrounded by a crowd of Athenians, eagerly
discussing the great questions of the day.

Socrates, then, was not, in the usual sense of the word, a teacher. He
is not to be found in the Stoa or the Grove, with official aspect,
expounding a system of doctrine. He is "the garrulous oddity" of the
streets, putting the most searching and perplexing questions to every
bystander, and making every man conscious of his ignorance. He delivered
no lectures; he simply talked. He wrote no books; he only argued: and
what is usually styled his school must be understood as embracing those
who attended him in public as listeners and admirers, and who caught his
spirit, adopted his philosophic _method_, and, in after life, elaborated
and systematized the ideas they had gathered from him.

Among the regular or the occasional hearers of Socrates were many who
were little addicted to philosophic speculation. Some were warriors, as
Nicias and Laches; some statesmen, as Critias and Critobulus; some were
politicians, in the worst sense of that word, as Glaucon; and some were
young men of fashion, as Euthydemus and Alcibiades. These were all alike
delighted with his inimitable irony, his versatility of genius, his
charming modes of conversation, his adroitness of reply; and they were
compelled to confess the wisdom and justness of his opinions, and to
admire the purity and goodness of his life. The magic power which he
wielded, even over men of dissolute character, is strikingly depicted by
Alcibiades in his speech at "the Banquet."[488] Of these listeners,
however, we can not now speak. Our business is with those only who
imbibed his philosophic spirit, and became the future teachers of
philosophy. And even of those who, as Euclid of Megara, and Antisthenes
the Cynic, and Aristippus of Cyrenaica, borrowed somewhat from the
dialectic of Socrates, we shall say nothing. They left no lasting
impression upon the current of philosophic thought, because their
systems were too partial, and narrow, and fragmentary. It is in Plato
and Aristotle that the true development of the Socratic philosophy is to
be sought, and in Plato chiefly, as the disciple and friend of Socrates.

[Footnote 488: "Banquet," §§ 39, 40.]

Plato (B.C. 430-347) was pre-eminently the pupil of Socrates. He came to
Socrates when he was but twenty years of age, and remained with him to
the day of his death.

Diogenes Laertius reports the story of Socrates having dreamed he found
an unfledged cygnet on his knee. In a few moments it became winged and
flew away, uttering a sweet sound. The next day a young man came to him
who was said to reckon Solon among his near ancestors, and who looked,
through him, to Codrus and the god Poseidon. That young man was Plato,
and Socrates pronounced him to be the bird he had seen in his

[Footnote 489: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. iii.
ch. vii.]

Some have supposed that this old tradition intimates that Plato departed
from the method of his master--he became fledged and flew away into the
air. But we know that Plato did not desert his master whilst he was
living, and there is no evidence that he abandoned his method after he
was dead. He was the best expounder and the most rigid observer of the
Socratic "organon." The influence of Socrates upon the philosophy of
Plato is everywhere discernible. Plato had been taught by Socrates, that
beyond the world of sense there is a world of eternal truth, seen by the
eye of reason alone. He had also learned from him that the eye of reason
is purified and strengthened by _reflection_, and that to reflect is to
observe, and analyze, and define, and classify the facts of
consciousness. Self-reflection, then, he had been taught to regard as
the key of real knowledge. By a completer induction, a more careful and
exact analysis, and a more accurate definition, he carried this
philosophic method forward towards maturity. He sought to solve the
problem of _being_ by the principles revealed in his own consciousness,
and in the _ultimate ideas of the reason_ to find the foundation of all
real knowledge, of all truth, and of all certitude.

Plato was admirably fitted for these sublime investigations by the
possession of those moral qualities which were so prominent in the
character of his master. He had that same deep seriousness of spirit,
that earnestness and rectitude of purpose, that longing after truth,
that inward sympathy with, and reverence for justice, and purity, and
goodness, which dwelt in the heart of Socrates, and which constrained
him to believe in their reality and permanence. He could not endure the
thought that all ideas of right were arbitrary and factitious, that all
knowledge was unreal, that truth was a delusion, and certainty a dream.
The world of sense might be fleeting and delusive, but the voice of
reason and conscience would not mislead the upright man. The opinions of
individual men might vary, but the universal consciousness of the race
could not prevaricate. However conflicting the opinions of men
concerning beautiful things, right actions, and good sentiments, Plato
was persuaded there are ideas of Order, and Right, and Good, which are
universal, unchangeable, and eternal. Untruth, injustice, and wrong may
endure for a day or two, perhaps for a century or two, but they can not
always last; they must perish. The _just_ thing and the _true_ thing are
the only enduring things; these are eternal. Plato had a sublime
conviction that his mission was to draw the Athenian mind away from the
fleeting, the transitory, and the uncertain, and lead them to the
contemplation of an Eternal Truth, an Eternal Justice, an Eternal
Beauty, all proceeding from and united in an Eternal Being--the ultimate
ἀγαθόν--_the Supremely Good_. The knowledge of this "Supreme Good" he
regarded as the highest science.[490]

[Footnote 490: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xvi. p. 193.]

Added to these moral qualifications, Plato had the further qualification
of a comprehensive knowledge of all that had been achieved by his
predecessors. In this regard he had enjoyed advantages superior to those
of Socrates. Socrates was deficient in erudition, properly so called. He
had studied men rather than books. His wisdom consisted in an extensive
_observation_, the results of which he had generalized with more or less
accuracy. A complete philosophic method demands not only a knowledge of
contemporaneous opinions and modes of thought, but also a knowledge of
the succession and development of thought in past ages. Its instrument
is not simply psychological analysis, but also historical analysis as a
counterproof.[491] And this erudition Plato supplied. He studied
carefully the doctrines of the Ionian, Italian, and Eleatic schools.
Cratylus gave him special instruction in the theories of
Heraclitus.[492] He secured an intimate acquaintance with the lofty
speculations of Pythagoras, under Archytas of Tarentum, and in the
writings of Philolaus, whose books he is said to have purchased. He
studied the principles of Parmenides under Hermogenes,[493] and he more
than once speaks of Parmenides in terms of admiration, as one whom he
had early learned to reverence.[494] He studied mathematics under
Theodoras, the most eminent geometrician of his day. He travelled in
Southern Italy, in Sicily, and, in search of a deeper wisdom, he pursued
his course to Egypt.[495] Enriched by the fruits of all previous
speculations, he returned to Athens, and devoted the remainder of his
life to the development of a comprehensive system "which was to combine,
to conciliate, and to supersede them all."[496] The knowledge he had
derived from travel, from books, from oral instruction, he fused and
blended with his own speculations, whilst the Socratic spirit mellowed
the whole, and gave to it a unity and scientific completeness which has
excited the admiration and wonder of succeeding ages.[497]

[Footnote 491: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 31.]

[Footnote 492: Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 493: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. iii.
ch. viii. p. 115.]

[Footnote 494: See especially "Theætetus," § 101.]

[Footnote 495: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 496: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 497: Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Plato."]

The question as to _the nature, the sources, and the validity of human
knowledge_ had attracted general attention previous to the time of
Socrates and Plato. As the results of this protracted controversy, the
opinions of philosophers had finally crystallized in two well-defined
and opposite theories of knowledge.

1. That which reduced all knowledge to the accidental and passively
receptive quality of the organs of sense and which asserted, as its
fundamental maxim, that "_Science consists in_

This doctrine had its foundation in the physical philosophy of
Heraclitus. He had taught that all things are in a perpetual flux and
change. "Motion gives the appearance of existence and of generation."
"Nothing _is_, but is always a _becoming"_[499] Material substances are
perpetually losing their identity, and there is no permanent essence or
being to be found. Hence Protagoras inferred that truth must vary with
the ever-varying sensations of the individual. "Man (the individual) is
the measure of all things." Knowledge is a purely relative thing, and
every man's opinion is truth for him.[500] The law of right, as
exemplified in the dominion of a party, is the law of the strongest;
fluctuating with the accidents of power, and never attaining a permanent
being. "Whatever a city enacts as appearing just to itself, this also is
just to the city that enacts it, so long as it continues in force."[501]
"The just, then, is nothing else but that which is expedient for the

[Footnote 498: "Theætetus," § 23.]

[Footnote 499: Ibid., §§ 25, 26.]

[Footnote 500: Ibid., §§ 39, 87.]

[Footnote 501: Ibid., § 87.]

[Footnote 502: "Republic," bk. i. ch. xii.]

2. The second theory is that which denies the existence (except as
phantasms, images, or mere illusions of the mind) of the whole of
sensible phenomena, and refers all knowledge to the _rational
apperception of unity_ (τὸ ἔν) _or the One_.

This was the doctrine of the later Eleatics. The world of sense was, to
Parmenides and Zeno, a blank negation, the _non ens_. The identity of
thought and existence was the fundamental principle of their philosophy.

      "Thought is the same thing as the cause of thought; For
      without the thing in which it is announced, You can not find
      the thought; for there is nothing, nor shall be, Except the

[Footnote 503: Parmenides, quoted in Lewes's "Biog. History of
Philosophy," p. 54.]

This theory, therefore, denied to man any valid knowledge of the
external world.

It will at once be apparent to the intelligent reader that the direct
and natural result of both these theories[504] of knowledge was a
tendency to universal skepticism. A spirit of utter indifference to
truth and righteousness was the prevailing spirit of Athenian society.
That spirit is strikingly exhibited in the speech of Callicles, "the
shrewd man of the world," in "Gorgias" (§85, 86). Is this new to our
ears?" My dear Socrates, you talk of _law_. Now the laws, in my
judgment, are just the work of the weakest and most numerous; in framing
them they never thought but of themselves and their own interests; they
never approve or censure except in reference to _this._ Hence it is that
the cant arises that tyranny is improper and unjust, and to struggle for
eminence, guilt. Unable to rise themselves, of course they would wish to
preach liberty and equality. But nature proclaims the law of the
stronger.... We surround our children from their infancy with
preposterous prejudices about liberty and justice. The man of sense
tramples on such impositions, and shows what Nature's justice is.... I
confess, Socrates, philosophy is a highly amusing study--in moderation,
and for boys. But protracted too long, it becomes a perfect plague. Your
philosopher is a complete novice in the life _comme il faut_.... I like
very well to see a child babble and stammer; there is even a grace about
it when it becomes his age. But to see a man continue the prattle of the
child, is absurd. Just so with your philosophy." The consequence of this
prevalent spirit of universal skepticism was a general laxity of morals.
The Aleibiades, of the "_Symposium_," is the ideal representative of the
young aristocracy of Athens. Such was the condition of society
generally, and such the degeneracy of even the Government itself, that
Plato impressively declares "that God alone could save the young men of
his age from ruin."[505]

[Footnote 504: Between these two extreme theories there were offered
two, apparently less extravagant, accounts of the nature and limits of
human knowledge--one declaring that "_Science_(real knowledge) _consists
in right opinion_" (δόξα ἀληθής), but having no further basis in the
reason of man ("Theæstetus," § 108); and the other affirming that
"_Science is right opinion with logical explication or definition_"
(μετὰ λόχου), ("Theætetus," § 139). A close examination will, however,
convince us that these are but modifications of the sensational theory.
The latter forcibly remind us of the system of Locke, who adds
"reflection" to "sensation," but still maintains that all on "simple
ideas" are obtained from without, and that these are the only material
upon which reflection can be exercised. Thus the human mind has no
criterion of truth within itself, no elements of knowledge which are
connatural and inborn.]

[Footnote 505: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. vii.]

Therefore the grand, the vital, the most urgent question for his times,
as indeed for all times, was, _What is Truth? What is Right_? In the
midst of all this variableness and uncertainty of human opinion, is
there no ground of certainty? Amid all the fluctuations and changes
around us and within us, is there nothing that is immutable and
permanent? Have we no ultimate standard of Right? Is there no criterion
of Truth? Plato believed most confidently there was such a criterion and
standard. He had learned from Socrates, his master, to cherish an
unwavering faith in the existence of an Eternal Truth, an Eternal Order,
an Eternal Good, the knowledge of which is essential to the perfection
and happiness of man, and which knowledge must therefore be presumed to
be attainable by man. Henceforth, therefore, the ceaseless effort of
Plato's life is to attain a standard (κριτήριον)[506]--a CRITERION OF

[Footnote 506: "Theætetus," § 89.]

At the outset of his philosophic studies, Plato had derived from
Socrates an important principle, which became the guide of all his
subsequent inquiries. He had learned from him that the criterion of
truth must be no longer sought amid the ever-changing phenomena of the
"sensible world." This had been attempted by the philosophers of the
Ionian school, and ended in failure and defeat. It must therefore be
sought in the metaphenomenal--the "intelligible world;" that is, it must
be sought in the apperceptions of the reason, and not in opinions
founded on sensation. In other words, he must look _within_. Here, by
reflection, he could recognize, dimly and imperfectly at first, but
increasing gradually in clearness and distinctness, two classes of
cognitions, having essentially distinct and opposite characteristics. He
found one class that was complex (σνγκεγυμένον), changeable (θάτερον),
contingent and relative (τὰ προς τι σχέσιν ἔχοντα); the other, simple
(κεχωρισμένον), unchangeable (ἀκίνητον), constant (ταὐτόν), permanent
(τὸ ὂν ἀει), and absolute (ἀνυπόθετον = ἁπλοῦν). One class that may be
questioned, the other admitting of no question, because self-evident and
necessary, and therefore compelling belief. One class grounded on
sense-perception, the other conceived by reason alone. But whilst the
reason recognizes, it does not create them. They are not particular and
individual, but universal. They belong not to the man, but to the race.

He found, then, that there are in all minds certain "principles" which
are fundamental--principles which lie at the basis of all our cognitions
of the objective world, and which, as "mental laws," determine all our
forms of thought; and principles, too, which have this marvellous and
undeniable character, that they are encountered in the most common
experiences, and, at the same time, instead of being circumscribed
within the limits of experience, transcend and govern it--principles
which are _universal_ in the midst of particular phenomena--_necessary,_
though mingled with things contingent--to our eyes _infinite_ and
_absolute_, even when appearing in us the relative and finite beings
that we are.[507] These first or fundamental principles Plato called
IDEAS (ἰδέαι).

[Footnote 507: Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 40.]

In attempting to present to the reader an adequate representation of the
Platonic Ideas, we shall be under the necessity of anticipating some of
the results of his Dialectical method before we have expounded that
method. And, further, in order that it may be properly appreciated by
the modern student, we shall avail ourselves of the lights which modern
psychology, faithful to the method of Plato, has thrown upon the
subject. Whilst, however, we admit that modern psychology has succeeded
in giving more definiteness and precision to the "doctrine of Ideas," we
shall find that all that is fundamentally valuable and true was present
to the mind of Plato. Whatever superiority the "Spiritual" philosophy of
to-day may have over the philosophy of past ages, it has attained that
superiority by its adherence to the principles and method of Plato.

In order to the completeness of our preliminary exposition of the
Platonic doctrine of Ideas, we shall conditionally assume, as a natural
and legitimate hypothesis, the doctrine so earnestly asserted by Plato,
that the visible universe, at least in its present form, is an _effect_
which must have had a _cause_,[508] and that the Order, and Beauty, and
Excellence of the universe are the result of the presence and operation
of a "regulating Intelligence"--a _Supreme Mind_.[509] Now that,
anterior to the creation of the universe, there must have existed in the
Eternal Mind certain fundamental principles of Order, Right, and Good,
will not be denied. Every conceivable _form_, every possible _relation_,
every principle of _right_, must have been eternally present to the
Divine thought. As pure intelligence, the Deity must have always been
self-conscious--must have known himself as substance and cause, as the
Infinite and Perfect. If then the Divine Energy is put forth in creative
acts, that energy must obey those eternal principles of Order, Right,
and Good. If the Deity operate at all, he must operate rightly, wisely,
and well. The created universe must be an _image_, in the sphere of
sense, of the ideas which inhere in the reason of the great First Cause.

[Footnote 508: "Timæus," ch. ix.]

[Footnote 509: "Phædo," § 105.]

"Let us declare," says Plato, "with what _motive_ the Creator hath
formed nature and the universe. He was _good_, and in the good no manner
of envy can, on any subject, possibly subsist. Exempt from envy, he had
wished that all things should, as far as possible, _resemble
himself_.... It was not, and is not to be allowed for the Supremely Good
to do any thing except what is most _excellent_ (κάλλιστον)--most
_fair_, most _beautiful_."[510] Therefore, argues Plato, "inasmuch as
the world is the most beautiful of things, and its artificer the best of
causes, it is evident that the Creator and Father of the universe looked
to the _Eternal Model_(παράδειγμα), pattern, or plan,"[511] which lay in
his own mind. And thus this one, only-generated universe, is the _image_
(εἰκών) of that God who is the object of the intellect, the greatest,
the best, and the most perfect Being.[512]

[Footnote 510: "Timæus," ch. x.]

[Footnote 511: Ibid., ch. ix.]

[Footnote 512: "Timæus," ch. lxxiii.]

And then, furthermore, if this Supreme Intelligence, this Eternal Mind,
shall create another _mind_, it must, in a still higher degree, resemble
him. Inasmuch as it is a rational nature, it must, in a peculiar sense,
partake of the Divine characteristics. "The soul," says Plato, "is that
which most partakes of the _Divine_"[513] The soul must, therefore, have
native _ideas_ and sentiments which correlate it with the Divine
original. The ideas of substance and cause, of unity and identity, of
the infinite and perfect, must be mirrored there. As it is the
"offspring of God,"[514] it must bear some traces and lineaments of its
Divine parentage. That soul must be configured and correlated to those
principles of Order, Right, and Good which dwell in the Eternal Mind.
And because it has within itself the same ideas and laws, according to
which the great Architect built the universe, therefore it is capable of
knowing, and, in some degree, of comprehending, the intellectual system
of the universe. It apprehends the external world by a light which the
reason supplies. It interprets nature according to principles and laws
which God has inwrought within the very essence of the soul. "That which
imparts truth to knowable things, and gives the knower his power of
knowing truth, is the _idea of the good_, and you are to conceive of
this as the source of knowledge and of truth."[515]

[Footnote 513: "Laws," bk. v. ch. i.]

[Footnote 514: Ibid., bk. x.]

[Footnote 515: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xviii.]

And now we are prepared to form a clear conception of the Platonic
doctrine of Ideas. Viewed in their relation to the Eternal Reason, as
giving the primordial thought and law of all being, these principles are
simply εἴδη αὐτὰ καθ᾽ αὑτά--_ideas in themselves_--the essential
qualities or attributes of Him who is the supreme and ultimate Cause of
all existence. When regarded as before the Divine imagination, giving
definite forms and relations, they are the τύποι, the παραδείγματα--_the
types_, _models, patterns, ideals_ according to which the universe was
fashioned. Contemplated in their actual embodiment in the laws, and
typical forms of the material world, they are εἰκόνες--_images_ of the
eternal perfections of God. The world of sense pictures the world of
reason by a participation (μέθεξις) of the ideas. And viewed as
interwoven in the very texture and framework of the soul, they are
ὁμοιώματα--copies of the Divine Ideas which are the primordial laws of
knowing, thinking, and reasoning. Ideas are thus the nexus of relation
between God and the visible universe, and between the human and the
Divine reason.[516] There is something divine in the world, and in the
human soul, namely, _the eternal laws and reasons of things_, mingled
with the endless diversity and change of sensible phenomena. These ideas
are "the light of the intelligible world;" they render the invisible
world of real Being perceptible to the reason of man. "Light is the
offspring of the Good, which the Good has produced in his own likeness.
Light in the visible world is what the _idea of the Good_ is in the
intelligible world. And this offspring of the Good--light--has the same
relation to vision and visible things which the Good has to intellect
and intelligible things."[517]

[Footnote 516: "Now, Idea is, as regards God, a mental operation by him
(the notions of God, eternal and perfect in themselves); as regards us,
the first things perceptible by mind; as regards Matter, a standard; but
as regards the world, perceptible by sense, a pattern; but as considered
with reference to itself, an existence."--Alcinous, "Introduction to the
Doctrines of Plato," p. 261.

"What general notions are to our minds, he (Plato) held, ideas are to
the Supreme Reason (νοῦς βασιλευς); they are the eternal thoughts of the
Divine Intellect, and we attain truth when our thoughts conform with
His--when our general notions are in conformity with the
ideas."--Thompson, "Laws of Thought," p. 119.]

[Footnote 517: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xix.]

_Science_ is, then, according to Plato, _the knowledge of universal,
necessary, unchangeable, and eternal ideas_. The simple cognition of the
concrete phenomena of the universe is not regarded by him as _real_
knowledge. "Science, or real knowledge, belongs to _Being_, and
ignorance to _non_-Being." Whilst that which is conversant only "with
that which partakes of both--of being and non-being--and which can not
be said either to be or not to be"--that which is perpetually
"becoming," but never "really is," is "simply _opinion_, and not real
knowledge."[518] And those only are "philosophers" who have a knowledge
of the _really-existing_, in opposition to the mere seeming; of the
_always-existing_, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which
exists _permanently_, in opposition to that which waxes and wanes--is
developed and destroyed alternately. "Those who recognize many beautiful
things, but who can not see the Beautiful itself, and can not even
follow those who would lead them to it, they _opine_, but do not _know_.
And the same may be said of those who recognize right actions, but do
not recognize an absolute righteousness. And so of other ideas. But they
who look at these ideas--permanent and unchangeable ideas--these men
_really know_."[519] Those are the true philosophers alone who love the
sight of truth, and who have attained to the vision of the eternal
order, and righteousness, and beauty, and goodness in the Eternal Being.
And the means by which the soul is raised to this vision of real Being

Plato, in the "Theætetus," puts this question by the interlocutor
Socrates, "What is Science (᾽Επιστήμη) or positive knowledge?"[520]
Theætetus essays a variety of answers, such as, "Science is sensation,"
"Science is right judgment or opinion," "Science is right opinion with
logical definition." These, in the estimation of the Platonic Socrates,
are all unsatisfactory and inadequate. But after you have toiled to the
end of this remarkable discussion, in which Socrates demolishes all the
then received theories of knowledge, he gives you no answer of his own.
He abruptly closes the discussion by naïvely remarking that, at any
rate, Theætetus will learn that he does not understand the subject; and
the ground is now cleared for an original investigation.

[Footnote 518: "Republic," bk. v. ch. xx.]

[Footnote 519: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.]

[Footnote 520: "Theætetus," § 10.]

This investigation is resumed in the "Republic." This greatest work of
Plato's was designed not only to exhibit a scheme of Polity, and present
a system of Ethics, but also, at least in its digressions, to propound a
system of Metaphysics more complete and solid than had yet appeared. The
discussion as to the _powers_ or _faculties_ by which we obtain
knowledge, the _method_ or _process_ by which real knowledge is
attained, and the ultimate _objects_ or _ontological grounds_ of all
real knowledge, commences at § 18, book v., and extends to the end of
book vii.

That we may reach a comprehensive view of this "sublimest of sciences,"
we shall find it necessary to consider--

1st. _What are the powers or faculties by which we obtain knowledge, and
what are the limits and degrees of human knowledge?_

2d. _What is the method in which, or the processes and laws according to
which, the mind operates in obtaining knowledge?_

3d. _What are the ultimate results attained by this method? what are the
objective and ontological grounds of all real knowledge?_

The answer to the first question will give the PLATONIC PSYCHOLOGY; the
answer to the second will exhibit the PLATONIC DIALECTIC; the answer to
the last will reveal the PLATONIC ONTOLOGY.


Every successful inquiry as to the reality and validity of human
knowledge must commence by clearly determining, by rigid analysis, what
are the actual phenomena presented in consciousness, what are the powers
or faculties supposed by these phenomena, and what reliance are we to
place upon the testimony of these faculties? And, especially, if it be
asserted that there is a science of absolute Reality, of ultimate and
essential Being, then the most important and vital question is, By what
power do we cognize real Being? through what faculty do we obtain the
knowledge of that which absolutely _is_? If by sensation we only obtain
the knowledge of the fleeting and the transitory, "_the becoming_" how
do we attain to the knowledge of the unchangeable and permanent, "the
_Being_?" Have we a faculty of universal, necessary, and eternal
principles? Have we a faculty, an interior eye which beholds "_the
intelligible_," ideal, spiritual world, as the eye of sense beholds the
visible or "_sensible world_?"[521]

Plato commences this inquiry by first defining his understanding of the
word δύναμις--_power_ or _faculty_. "We will say _faculties_ (δυνάμεις)
are a certain kind of real existences by which we can do whatever we are
able (_e.g._, to know), as there are powers by which every thing does
what it does: the eye has a _power_ of seeing; the ear has a _power_ of
hearing. But these powers (of which I now speak) have no color or figure
to which I can so refer that I can distinguish one power from another.
_In order to make such distinction, I must look at the power itself, and
see what it is, and what it does. In that way I discern the power of
each thing, and that is the same power which produces the same effect,
and that is a different power which produces a different effect_."[522]
That which is employed about, and accomplishes one and the same purpose,
this Plato calls a _faculty_.

[Footnote 521: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xviii.]

[Footnote 522: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxi.]

We have seen that our first conceptions (_i.e._, first in the order of
time) are of the mingled, the concrete (τὸ συγκεχυμένον), "the
multiplicity of things to which the multitude ascribe beauty, etc.[523]
The mind "contemplates what is great and small, not as distinct from
each other, but as confused.[524] Prior to the discipline of
_reflection_, men are curious about mere sights and sounds, love
beautiful voices, beautiful colors, beautiful forms, but their
intelligence can not see, can not embrace, the essential nature of the
Beautiful itself.[525] Man's condition previous to the education of
philosophy is vividly presented in Plato's simile of the cave.[526] He
beholds only the images and shadows of the ectypal world, which are but
dim and distant adumbrations of the real and archetypal world.

Primarily nothing is given in the abstract (τὸ κεγωρισμένον), but every
thing in the concrete. The primary faculties of the mind enter into
action spontaneously and simultaneously; all our primary notions are
consequently synthetic. When reflection is applied to this primary
totality of consciousness, that is, when we analyze our notions, we find
them composed of diverse and opposite elements, some of which are
variable, contingent, individual, and relative, others are permanent,
unchangeable, universal, necessary, and absolute. Now these elements, so
diverse, so opposite, can not have been obtained from the same source;
they must be supplied by separate powers. "Can any man with common sense
reduce under one what _is infallible_, and what is _not
infallible?_"[527] Can that which is "_perpetually becoming_" be
apprehended by the same faculty as that which "_always is?_"[528] Most
assuredly not.

[Footnote 523: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.]

[Footnote 524: Ibid., bk. vii. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 525: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xx.]

[Footnote 526: Ibid., bk. vii. ch. i., ii.]

[Footnote 527: "Republic," bk. v. ch. xxi.]

[Footnote 528: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.; also "Timæus," § 9.]

These primitive intuitions--the simple perceptions of sense, and the _à
priori_ intuitions of the reason, which constitute the elements of all
our complex notions, have essentially _diverse objects_--the sensible or
ectypal world, seen by the eye and touched by the hand, which Plato
calls δοξαστήν--_the subject of opinion_; and the noetic or archetypal
world, perceived by reason, and which he calls διανοητικήν--_the subject
of rational intuition or science_. "It is plain," therefore, argues
Plato, "that _opinion_ is a different thing from _science_. They must,
therefore, have a different _faculty_ in reference to a different
object--science as regards that which _is_, so as to know the nature of
real _being_--opinion as regards that which can not be said absolutely
to be, or not to be. That which is known and that which is opined can
not possibly be the same,... since they are naturally faculties of
different things, and both of them are faculties--_opinion_ and
_science_, and each of them different from the other."[529] Here then
are two grand divisions of the mental powers--a faculty of apprehending
universal and necessary Truth, of intuitively beholding absolute
Reality, and a faculty of perceiving sensible objects, and of judging
according to appearance.

[Footnote 529: Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxi., xxii.]

According to the scheme of Plato, these two general divisions of the
mental powers are capable of a further subdivision. He says: Consider
that there are two kinds of things, the _intelligible_ and the
_visible_; two different regions, the intelligible world and the
sensible world. Now take a line divided into two equal segments to
represent these two regions, and again divide each segment in the same
ratio--both that of the visible and that of the intelligible species.
The parts of each segment are to represent differences of clearness and
indistinctness. In the visible world the parts are _things_ and
_images_. By _images_ I mean shadows,[530] reflections in water and in
polished bodies, and all such like representations; and by _things_ I
mean that of which images are resemblances, as animals, plants, and
things made by man.

You allow that this difference corresponds to the difference of
_knowledge_ and _opinion_; and the _opinionable_ is to the _knowable_ as
the _image_ to the _reality_.[531]

[Footnote 530: As in the simile of the cave ("Republic," bk. vii. ch. i.
and ii.).]

[Footnote 531: The analogy between the "images produced by reflections
in water and on polished surfaces" and "the images of external objects
produced in the mind by sensation" is more fully presented in the
"Timæus," ch. 19.

The eye is a light-bearer, "made of that part of elemental fire which
does not burn, but sheds a mild light, like the light of day.... When
the light of the day meets the light which beams from the eye, then
light meets like, and make a homogeneous body; the external light
meeting the internal light, in the direction in which the eye looks. And
by this homogeneity like feels like; and if this beam touches any
object, or any object touches it, it transmits the motions through the
body to the soul, and produces that sensation which we call _seeing_....
And if (in sleep) some of the strong motions remain in some part of the
frame, they produce within us likenesses of external objects,... and
thus give rise to dreams.... As to the images produced by mirrors and by
smooth surfaces, they are now easily explained, for all such phenomena
result from the mutual affinity of the external and internal fires. The
light that proceeds from the face (as an object of vision), and the
light that proceeds from the eye, become one continuous ray on the
smooth surface."]

Now we have to divide the segment which represents intelligible things
in this way: The one part represents the knowledge which the mind gets
by using things as images--the other; that which it has by dealing with
the ideas themselves; the one part that which it gets by reasoning
downward from principles--the other, the principles themselves; the one
part, truth which depends on hypotheses--the other, unhypothetical or
absolute truth.

Thus, to explain a problem in geometry, the geometers make certain
hypotheses (namely, definitions and postulates) about numbers and
angles, and the like, and reason from them--giving no reason for their
assumptions, but taking them as evident to all; and, reasoning from
them, they prove the propositions which they have in view. And in such
reasonings, they use visible figures or diagrams--to reason about a
square, for instance, with its diagonals; but these reasonings are not
really about these visible figures, but about the mental figures, and
which they conceive in thought.

The diagrams which they draw, being visible, are the images of thoughts
which the geometer has in his mind, and these images he uses in his
reasoning. There may be images of these images--shadows and reflections
in water, as of other visible things; but still these diagrams are only
images of conceptions.

This, then, is _one_ kind of intelligible things: _conceptions_--for
instance, geometrical conceptions of figures. But in dealing with these
the mind depends upon assumptions, and does not ascend to first
principles. It does not ascend above these assumptions, but uses images
borrowed from a lower region (the visible world), these images being
chosen so as to be as distinct as may be.

Now the _other_ kind of intelligible things is this: that which the
_Reason_ includes, in virtue of its power of reasoning, when it regards
the assumptions of the sciences as (what they are) assumptions only, and
uses them as occasions and starting-points, that from these it may
ascend to the _Absolute_, which does not depend upon assumption, the
origin of scientific truth.

_The reason takes hold of this first principle of truth_, and availing
itself of all the connections and relations of this principle, it
proceeds to the conclusion--using no sensible image in doing this, but
contemplates the _idea alone_; and with these ideas the process begins,
goes on, and terminates.

"I apprehend," said Glaucon, "but not very clearly, for the matter is
somewhat abstruse. _You wish to prove that the knowledge which by the
reason, in an intuitive manner, we may acquire of real existence and
intelligible things is of a higher degree of certainty than the
knowledge which belongs to what are commonly called the Sciences_. Such
sciences, you say, have certain assumptions for their basis; and these
assumptions are by the student of such sciences apprehended not by
sense, but by a mental operation--by conception.

"But inasmuch as such students ascend no higher than assumptions, and do
not go to the first principles of truth, they do not seem to have true
knowledge, intellectual insight, intuitive reason, on the subjects of
their reasonings, though the subjects are intelligible things. And you
call this habit and practice of the geometers and others by the name of
JUDGMENT (διάνοια), not reason, or insight, or intuition--taking
judgment to be something between opinion, on the one side, and intuitive
reason, on the other.

"You have explained it well," said I. "And now consider these four kinds
of things we have spoken of, as corresponding to four affections (or
faculties) of the mind. INTUITIVE REASON (νόησις), the highest; JUDGMENT
(διάνοια)(or _discursive reason_), the next; the third, BELIEF (πίστις);
and the fourth, CONJECTURE, or _guess_ (εὶκασία); and arrange them in
order, so that they may be held to have more or less certainty, as their
objects have more or less truth."[532] The completeness, and even
accuracy of this classification of all the objects of human cognition,
and of the corresponding mental powers, will be seen at once by studying
the diagram proposed by Plato, as figured on the opposite page.

[Footnote 532: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx. and xxi.]

            |                                 |
            | VISIBLE WORLD                   | INTELLIGIBLE WORLD
            | (the object of Opinion--δόξα).  |(the object of Knowledge or
            |                                 | Science--ίπυττήμη).
            |                |                |              |
            | Things.        | Images.        | Intuitions.  | Conceptions.

And may be thus further expanded:
            |                                 |
            | VISIBLE WORLD.                  |   INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
            |                |                |             |
            | Things         | Images         | Ideas       | Conceptions
OBJECT      |                |                |             |
            | ζὼα. κ.τ.λ.    | ικονες.        | ιδεαί.      | δυενοήματα.
            |                |                |             |
            | Belief.        | Conjecture.    | Intuition.  |Demonstration.
PROCESS     |                |                |             |
            | πιοτις.        | ειkασια.       | νόησις.     | ίπισιηιη.
            |                |                |             |
            | SENSATION.     | PHANTASY.      | INTUITIVE   | DISCURSIVE
FACULTY     |                |                |   REASON.   |    REASON.
            | αiσθησις.      | ϕαντασία.       | νούς.       | λόγος.
            |                |                |             |
NOMENCLATURE|Presentative    |Representative  |Regulative   | Logical
            | Faculty.       | Faculty        | Faculty.    |    Faculty.
            |                                 |
            | MEMORY.                         | REMINISCENCE
            | μνημη.                          |   αναμησις.
            | The Conservative Faculty--      | The Reproductive Faculty--
            | "the preserver of sensation"    |"the recollection of the
            | (σωτηρια αισιν, σεως.) [533]    | things which the soul
            |                                 | saw (in Eternity) when
            |                                 | journeying in the train of
            |                                 | the Deity."[534]
            |[Footnote 533: "Philebus," § 67] | [Footnote 534: Phædrus,
            |                                 |                     § 62.]

The foregoing diagram, borrowed from Whewell, with some modifications
and additions we have ventured to make, exhibits a perfect view of the
Platonic scheme of the _cognitive powers_--the faculties by which the
mind attains to different degrees of knowledge, "having more or less
certainty, as their objects have more or less truth."[535]

1st. SENSATION (αἴσθησις).--This term is employed by Plato to denote the
passive mental states or affections which are produced within us by
external objects through the medium of the vital organization, and also
the cognition or vital perception or consciousness[536] which the mind
has of these mental states.

2d. PHANTASY (φαντασία).--This term is employed to describe the power
which the mind possesses of imagining or representing whatever has once
been the object of sensation. This may be done involuntarily as "in
dreams, disease, and hallucination,"[537] or voluntarily, as in
reminiscence. Φαντάσματα are the images, the life-pictures (ζωγράφημα)
of sensible things which are present to the mind, even when no external
object is present to the sense.

[Footnote 535: "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xix.]

[Footnote 536: "In Greek philosophy there was no term for
'consciousness' until the decline of philosophy, and in the latter ages
of the language. Plato and Aristotle, to say nothing of other
philosophers, had no special term to express the knowledge which the
mind has of the operation of its own faculties, though this, of course,
was necessarily a frequent matter of consideration. Intellect was
supposed by them to be cognizant of its own operations.... In his
'Theætetus' Plato accords to sense the power of perceiving that it
perceives."--Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 198 (Eng. ed.).]

[Footnote 537: "Theætetus," § 39.]

The conjoint action of these two powers results in what Plato calls
_opinion_ (δόξα). "Opinion is the complication of memory and sensation.
For when we meet for the first time with a thing perceptible by a sense,
and a sensation is produced by it, and from this sensation a memory, and
we subsequently meet again with the same thing perceived by a sense, we
combine the memory previously brought into action with the sensation
produced a second time, and we say within ourselves [this is] Socrates,
or a horse, or fire, or whatever thing there may be of such a kind. Now
this is called _opinion_, through our combining the recollection brought
previously into action with the sensation recently produced. And when
these, placed along each other, agree, a true opinion is produced; but
when they swerve from each other, a false one."[538] The δόξα of Plato,
therefore answers to the experience, or the _empirical knowledge_ of
modern philosophy, which is concerned only with appearances (phenomena),
and not with absolute realities, and can not be elevated to the dignity
of _science_ or real knowledge.

We are not from hence to infer that Plato intended to deny all reality
whatever to the objects of sensible experience. These transitory
phenomena were not real existences, but they were _images_ of real
existences. The world itself is but the image, in the sphere of sense,
of those ideas of Order, and Proportion, and Harmony, which dwell in the
Divine Intellect, and are mirrored in the soul of man. "Time itself is a
moving image of Eternity."[539] But inasmuch as the immediate object of
sense-perception is a representative image generated in the vital
organism, and all empirical cognitions are mere "conjectures" (εἰκασίαι)
founded on representative images, they need to be certified by a higher
faculty, which immediately apprehends real Being (τὸ ὄν). Of things, as
they are in themselves, the senses give us no knowledge; all that in
sensation we are conscious of is certain affections of the mind (πάθος);
the existence of self, or the perceiving subject, and a something
external to self, a perceived object, are revealed to us, not by the
senses, but by the reason.

[Footnote 538: Alcinous, "Introduction to the Doctrine of Plato," p.

[Footnote 539: "Timæus," § 14.]

3d. JUDGMENT (διάνοια, λόγος), _the Discursive Faculty, or the Faculty
of Relations_.--According to Plato, this faculty proceeds on the
assumption of certain principles as true, without inquiring into their
validity, and reasons, by deduction, to the conclusions which
necessarily flow from these principles. These assumptions Plato calls
hypotheses (ὑποθέσεις). But by hypotheses he does not mean baseless
assumptions--"mere theories--"but things self-evident and "obvious to
all;"[540] as for example, the postulates and definitions of Geometry.
"After laying down hypotheses of the odd and even, and three kinds of
angles [right, acute, and obtuse], and figures [as the triangle, square,
circle, and the like], he _proceeds on them as known, and gives no
further reason about them_, and reasons downward from these
principles,"[541] affirming certain judgments as consequences deducible

[Footnote 540: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx.]

[Footnote 541: Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xx.]

All judgments are therefore founded on _relations_. To judge is to
compare two terms. "Every judgment has three parts: the subject, or
notion about which the judgment is; the predicate, or notion with which
the subject is compared; and the copula, or nexus, which expresses the
connection or relation between them.[542] Every act of affirmative
judgment asserts the agreement of the predicate and subject; every act
of negative judgment asserts the predicate and subject do not agree. All
judgment is thus an attempt to reduce to unity two cognitions, and
reasoning (λογίζεσθαι) is simply the extension of this process. When we
look at two straight lines of equal length, we do not merely think of
them separately as _this_ straight line, and _that_ straight line, but
they are immediately connected together by a comparison which takes
place in the mind. We perceive that these two lines are alike; they are
of equal length, and they are both straight; and the connection which is
perceived as existing between them is a _relation of sameness or
identity._[543] When we observe any change occurring in nature, as, for
example, the melting of wax in the presence of heat, the mind recognizes
a causal efficiency in the fire to produce that change, and the relation
now apprehended is a _relation of cause and effect_[544] But the
fundamental principles, the necessary ideas which lie at the basis of
all the judgments (as the ideas of space and time, of unity and
identity, of substance and cause, of the infinite and perfect) are not
given by the judgment, but by the "highest faculty"--"the _Intuitive
Reason_,[545] which is, for us, the source of all unhypothetical and
absolute knowledge.

[Footnote 542: Thompson's "Laws of Thought," p. 134.]

[Footnote 543: "Phædo," §§ 50-57, 62.]

[Footnote 544: "Timæus," ch. ix.; "Sophocles," § 109.]

[Footnote 545: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xxi.]

The knowledge, therefore, which is furnished by the Discursive Reason,
Plato does not regard as "real Science." "It is something between
Opinion on the one hand, and Intuition on the other."[546]

[Footnote 546: Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xxi.]

4th. REASON (νοῦς)--_Intuitive Reason_, is the organ of self-evident,
necessary, and universal Truth. In an immediate, direct, and intuitive
manner, it takes hold on truth with absolute certainty. The reason,
through the medium of _ideas_, holds communion with the world of real
Being. These ideas are the _light_ which reveals the world of unseen
realities, as the sun reveals the world of sensible forms. "_The idea of
the good_ is the _sun_ of the Intelligible World; it sheds on objects
the light of truth, and gives to the soul that knows, the power of
knowing."[547] Under this light, the eye of reason apprehends the
eternal world of being as truly, yes more truly, than the eye of sense
apprehends the world of phenomena. This power the rational soul
possesses by virtue of its having a nature kindred, or even homogeneous
with the Divinity. It was "generated by the Divine Father," and, like
him, it is in a certain sense "_eternal_."[548] Not that we are to
understand Plato as teaching that the rational soul had an independent
and underived existence; it was created or "generated" in eternity,[549]
and even now, in its incorporate state, is not amenable to the
conditions of time and space, but, in a peculiar sense, dwells in
eternity; and therefore is capable of beholding eternal realities, and
coming into communion with absolute beauty, and goodness, and
truth--that is, with God, the _Absolute Being_.

[Footnote 547: Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xix.; see also ch. xviii.]

[Footnote 548: The reader must familiarize himself with the Platonic
notion of _"eternity" as a fixed state out of time existing
contemporaneous with one in time_, to appreciate the doctrine of Plato
as stated above. If we regard his idea of eternity as merely an
indefinite extension of time, with a past, a present, and a future, we
can offer no rational interpretation of his doctrine of the eternal
nature of the rational essence of the soul. An eternal nature
"generated" in a "past" or "present" time is a contradiction. But that
was not Plato's conception of "eternity," as the reader will discover on
perusing the "Timæus" (ch. xiv.). "God resolved to create a moving image
of eternity, and out of that eternity which reposes in its own
_unchangeable unity_ he framed an eternal image moving according to
numerical succession, which we call _Time_. Nothing can be more
inaccurate than to apply the terms, _past, present, future_, to real
Being, which is immovable. Past and future are expressions only suitable
to generation which proceeds through time." Time reposes on the bosom of
eternity, as all bodies are in space.]

[Footnote 549: "Timæus," ch. xvi., and "Phædrus," where the soul is
pronounced ἀρχὴ δὲ ἁγένητον.]

Thus the soul (ψυχή) as a composite nature is on one side linked to the
eternal world, its essence being generated of that ineffable element
which constitutes the real, the immutable, and the permanent. It is a
beam of the eternal Sun, a spark of the Divinity, an emanation from God.
On the other side it is linked to the phenomenal or sensible world, its
emotive part[550] being formed of that which is relative and phenomenal.
The soul of man thus stands midway between the eternal and the
contingent, the real and the phenomenal, and as such, it is the mediator
between, and the interpreter of, both.

[Footnote 550: Θυμειδές, the seat of the nobler--ἐπιθυμητικόν, the seat
of the baser passions.]

In the allegory of the "Chariot and Winged Steeds"[551] Plato represents
the lower or inferior part of man's nature as dragging the soul down to
the earth, and subjecting it to the slavery and debasement of corporeal
conditions. Out of these conditions there arise numerous evils that
disorder the mind and becloud the reason, for evil is inherent to the
condition of finite and multiform being into which we have "fallen by
our own fault." The present earthly life is a fall and a punishment. The
soul is now dwelling in "the grave we call the body." In its incorporate
state, and previous to the discipline of education, the rational element
is "asleep." "Life is more of a dream than a reality." Men are utterly
the slaves of sense, the sport of phantoms and illusions. We now
resemble those "captives chained in a subterraneous cave," so poetically
described in the seventh book of the "Republic;" their backs are turned
to the light, and consequently they see but the shadows of the objects
which pass behind them, and they "attribute to these shadows a perfect
reality." Their sojourn upon earth is thus a dark imprisonment in the
body, a dreamy exile from their proper home. "Nevertheless these pale
fugitive shadows suffice to revive in us the reminiscence of that higher
world we once inhabited, if we have not absolutely given the reins to
the impetuous untamed horse which in Platonic symbolism represents the
emotive sensuous nature of man." The soul has some dim and shadowy
recollection of its ante-natal state of bliss, and some instinctive and
proleptic yearnings for its return.

[Footnote 551: "Phædrus," § 54-62.]

     "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
     The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
       Has had elsewhere its setting,
       And cometh from afar,
       Not in entire forgetfulness,
       And not in utter nakedness,
     But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
     From God, who is our home."[552]

[Footnote 552: Wordsworth, "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality," vol.

Exiled from the true home of the spirit, imprisoned in the body,
disordered by passion, and beclouded by sense, the soul has yet longings
after that state of perfect knowledge, and purity, and bliss, in which
it was first created. Its affinities are still on high. It yearns for a
higher and nobler form of life. It essays to rise, but its eye is
darkened by sense, its wings are besmeared by passion and lust; it is
"borne downward, until at length it falls upon and attaches itself to
that which is material and sensual," and it flounders and grovels still
amid the objects of sense.

And now, with all that seriousness and earnestness of spirit which is
peculiarly Christian, Plato asks how the soul may be delivered from the
illusions of sense, the distempering influence of the body, and the
disturbances of passion, which becloud its vision of the real, the good,
and the true?

Plato believed and hoped this could be accomplished by _philosophy_.
This he regarded as a grand intellectual discipline for the purification
of the soul. By this it was to be disenthralled from the bondage of
sense[553] and raised into the empyrean of pure thought "where truth and
reality shine forth." All souls have the faculty of knowing, but it is
only by reflection, and self-knowledge, and intellectual discipline,
that the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness,
and beauty--that is, to the vision of God. And this intellectual
discipline was the _Platonic Dialectic_.

[Footnote 553: Not, however, fully in this life. The consummation of the
intellectual struggle into "the intelligible world" is death. The
intellectual discipline was therefore μελέτη θανατου, _a preparation for



THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).



The Platonic Dialectic is the Science of Eternal and Immutable
Principles, and the _method_ (ὄργανον) by which these first principles
are brought forward into the clear light of consciousness. The student
of Plato will have discovered that he makes no distinction between logic
and metaphysics. These are closely united in the one science to which he
gives the name of "_Dialectic_" and which was at once the science of the
ideas and laws of the Reason, and of the mental process by which the
knowledge of Real Being is attained, and a ground of absolute certainty
is found. This science has, in modern times, been called _Primordial_ or
_Transcendental Logic_.

We have seen that Plato taught that the human reason is originally in
possession of fundamental and necessary ideas--the copies of the
archetypal ideas which dwell in the eternal Reason; and that these ideas
are the primordial laws of thought--that is, they are the laws under
which we conceive of all objective things, and reason concerning all
existence. These ideas, he held, are not derived from sensation, neither
are they generalizations from experience, but they are inborn and
connatural. And, further, he entertained the belief, more, however, as a
reasonable hypothesis[554] than as a demonstrable truth, that these
standard principles were acquired by the soul in a pre-existent state in
which it stood face to face with ideas of eternal order, beauty,
goodness, and truth.[555] "Journeying with the Deity," the soul
contemplated justice, wisdom, science--not that science which is
concerned with change, and which appears under a different manifestation
in different objects, which we choose to call beings; but such science
as is in that which alone is indeed _being_.[556] Ideas, therefore,
belong to, and inhere in, that portion of the soul which is properly
οὐσία--_essence_ or _being_; which had an existence anterior to time,
and even now has no relation to time, because it is now in
eternity--that is, in a sphere of being to which past, present, and
future can have no relation.[557]

[Footnote 554: Within "the εἰκότων μύθων ἰδέα--the category of

[Footnote 555: "Phædo," § 50-56.]

[Footnote 556: "Phædrus," § 58.]

[Footnote 557: See note on p. 349.]

All knowledge of truth and reality is, therefore, according to Plato, a
REMINISCENCE (ἀνάμνησις)--a recovery of partially forgotten ideas which
the soul possessed in another state of existence; and the _dialectic_ of
Plato is simply the effort, by apt _interrogation_, to lead the mind to
"_recollect_"[558] the truth which has been formerly perceived by it,
and is even now in the memory though not in consciousness. An
illustration of this method is attempted in the "_Meno_" where Plato
introduces Socrates as making an experiment on the mind of an uneducated
person. Socrates puts a series of questions to a slave of Meno, and at
length elicits from the youth a right enunciation of a geometrical
truth. Socrates then points triumphantly to this instance, and bids Meno
observe that he had not taught the youth any thing, but simply
interrogated him as to his opinions, whilst the youth had recalled the
knowledge previously existing in his own mind.[559]

[Footnote 558: "To learn is to recover our own previous knowledge, and
this is properly to _recollect._"--"Phædo" § 55.]

[Footnote 559: "Meno," § 16-20. "Now for a person to recover knowledge
himself through himself, is not this to _recollect_."]

Now whilst we readily grant that the instance given in the "_Meno_" does
not sustain the inference of Plato that "the boy" had learnt these
geometrical truths "in eternity," and that they had simply been brought
forward into the view of his consciousness by the "questioning" of
Socrates, yet it certainly does prove that _there are ideas or
principles in the human reason which are not derived from without--which
are anterior to all experience, and for the development of which,
experience furnishes the occasion, but is not the origin and source_. By
a kind of lofty inspiration, he caught sight of that most important
doctrine of modern philosophy, so clearly and logically presented by
Kant, _that the Reason is the source of a pure_ à priori _knowledge_--a
knowledge native to, and potentially in the mind, antecedent to all
experience, and which is simply brought out into the field of
consciousness by experience conditions. Around this greatest of all
metaphysical truths Plato threw a gorgeous mythic dress, and presented
it under the most picturesque imagery.[560] But, when divested of the
rich coloring which the glowing imagination of Plato threw over it, it
is but a vivid presentation of the cardinal truth that _there are ideas
in the mind which have not been derived from without_, and which,
therefore, the mind brought with it into the present sphere of being.
The validity and value of this fundamental doctrine, even as presented
by Plato, is unaffected by any speculations in which he may have
indulged, as to the pre-existence of the soul. He simply regarded this
doctrine of pre-existence as highly probable--a plausible explanation of
the facts. That there are ideas, innate and connatural to the human
mind, he clung to as the most vital, most precious, most certain of all
truths; and to lead man to the recognitions of these ideas, to bring
them within the field of consciousness, was, in his judgment, the great
business of philosophy.

And this was the grand aim of his _Dialectic_--to elicit, to bring to
light the truths which are already in the mind--"a μαίευσις" a kind of
intellectual midwifery[561]--a delivering of the mind of the ideas with
which it was pregnant.

[Footnote 560: As in the "Phædo," §§ 48-57; "Phædrus," §§ 52-64;
"Republic," bk. x.]

[Footnote 561: "Theætetus," §§ 17-20.]

It is thus, at first sight, obvious that it was a higher and more
comprehensive science than the art of deduction. For it was directed to
the discovery and establishment of First Principles. Its sole object was
the discovery of truth. His dialectic was an _analytical_ and _inductive
method_. "In Dialectic Science," says _Alcinous_, "there is a dividing
and a defining, and an analyzing, and, moreover, that which is inductive
and syllogistic."[562] Even _Bacon_, who is usually styled "the Father
of the Inductive method," and who, too often, speaks disparagingly of
Plato, is constrained to admit that he followed the inductive method.
"An induction such as will be of advantage for the invention and
demonstration of Arts and Sciences must distinguish the essential nature
of things (naturam) by proper rejections and exclusions, and then after
as many of these negatives as are sufficient, by comprising, above all
(super), the positives. Up to this time this had not been done, nor even
attempted, _except by Plato alone, who, in order to attain his
definitions and ideas, has used, to a certain extent, the method of

[Footnote 562: "Introduction to the Doctrines of Plato," vol. vi. p.
249. "The Platonic Method was the method of induction."--Cousin's
"History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 307.]

[Footnote 563: "Novum Organum," vol. i. p. 105.]

The process of investigation adopted by Plato thus corresponds with the
inductive method of modern times, with this simple difference, that
Bacon conducted science into the world of _matter_, whilst Plato
directed it to the world of _mind_. The dialectic of Plato aimed at the
discovery of the "laws of thought;" the modern inductive philosophy aims
at the discovery of the "laws of nature." The latter concerns itself
chiefly with the inquiry after the "causes" of material phenomena; the
former concerned itself with the inquiry after the "first principles" of
all knowledge and of all existence. Both processes are, therefore,
carried on by _interrogation_. The analysis which seeks for a law of
nature proceeds by the interrogation of nature. The analysis of Plato
proceeds by the interrogation of mind, in order to discover the
fundamental _ideas_ which lie at the basis of all cognition, which
determine all our processes of thought, and which, in their final
analysis, reveal the REAL BEING, which is the ground and explanation of
all existence.

Now the fact that such an inquiry has originated in the human mind, and
that it can not rest satisfied without some solution, is conclusive
evidence that the mind has an instinctive belief, a proleptic
anticipation, that such knowledge can be attained. There must
unquestionably be some mental initiative which is the _motive_ and
_guide_ to all philosophical inquiry. We must have some well-grounded
conviction, some _à priori_ belief, some pre-cognition "ad intentionem
ejus quod quæritur,"[564] which determines the direction of our
thinking. The mind does not go to work aimlessly; it asks a specific
question; it demands the "_whence_" and the "_why_" of that which is.
Neither does it go to work unfurnished with any guiding principles. That
which impels the mind to a determinate act of thinking is the possession
of a _knowledge_ which is different from, and independent of, the
process of thinking itself. "A rational anticipation is, then, the
ground of the _prudens quæstio_--"the forethought query, which, in fact,
is the prior half of the knowledge sought."[565] If the mind inquire
after "laws," and "causes," and "reasons," and "grounds,"--the first
principles of all knowledge and of all existence,--"it must have the _à
priori_ ideas of "law," and "cause," and "reason," and "being _in se"_
which, though dimly revealed to the mind previous to the discipline of
reflection, are yet unconsciously governing its spontaneous modes of
thought. The whole process of induction has, then, some rational ground
to proceed upon--some principles deeper than science, and more certain
than demonstration, which reason contains within itself, and which
induction "draws out" into clearer light.

[Footnote 564: Bacon.]

[Footnote 565: Coleridge, vol. ii. p. 413.]

Now this mental initiative of every process of induction is the
intuitive and necessary conviction _that there must be a sufficient
reason why every thing exists, and why it is as it is, and not
otherwise_;[566] or in other words, if any thing begins to be, some
thing else must be supposed[567] as the ground, and reason, and cause,
and law of its existence. This "_law of sufficient_ (or _determinant)
reason_"[568] is the fundamental principle of all metaphysical inquiry.
It is contained, at least in a negative form, in that famous maxim of
ancient philosophy, "_De nihilo nihil_"--"Ἀδύνατον γίνεσθαί τι ἐκ
μηδενὸς προϋπάρχοντος." "It is impossible for a real entity to be made
or generated from nothing pre-existing;" or in other words, "nothing can
be made or produced without an efficient cause."[569] This principle is
also distinctly announced by Plato: "Whatever is generated, is
necessarily generated from a certain αἰτίαν"--_ground, reason_, or
_cause_; "for it is wholly impossible that any thing should be generated
without a cause."[570]

[Footnote 566: "Phædo," § 103.]

[Footnote 567: _Suppono_, to place under as a support, to take as a

[Footnote 568: This generic principle, viewed under different relations,

1st. _The principle of Substance_--every quality supposes a subject or
real being.

2d. _The principle of Causality_--every thing which begins to be must
have a cause.

3d. _The principle of Law_--every phenomenon must obey some uniform law.

4th. _The principle of Final Cause_--every means supposes an end, every
existence has a purpose or reason why.

5th. _The principle of Unity_--all plurality supposes a unity as its
basis and ground.]

[Footnote 569: Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. ii. p. 161.]

[Footnote 570: "Timæus," ch. ix.]

The first business of Plato's dialectic is to demonstrate that the
ground and reason of all existence can not be found in the mere objects
of sense, nor in any opinions or judgments founded upon sensation.
Principles are only so far "first principles" as they are permanent and
unchangeable, depending on neither time, nor place, nor circumstances.
But the objects of sense are in ceaseless flux and change; they are
"_always becoming_;" they can not be said to have any "_real being_."
They are not to-day what they were yesterday, and they will never again
be what they are now; consequently all opinions founded on mere
phenomena are equally fluctuating and uncertain. Setting out, therefore,
from the assumption of the fallaciousness of "_opinion_" it examined the
various hypotheses which had been bequeathed by previous schools of
philosophy, or were now offered by contemporaneous speculators, and
showed they were utterly inadequate to the solution of the problem. This
scrutiny consisted in searching for the ground of "contradiction"[571]
with regard to each opinion founded on sensation, and showing that
opposite views were equally tenable. It inquired on what ground these
opinions were maintained, and what consequences flowed therefrom, and it
showed that the grounds upon which "opinion" was founded, and the
conclusions which were drawn from it, were contradictory, and
consequently untrue.[572] "They," the Dialecticians, "examined the
opinions of men as if they were error; and bringing them together by a
reasoning process to the same point, they placed them by the side of
each other: and by so placing, they showed that _the opinions are at one
and the same time contrary to themselves, about the same things, with
reference to the same circumstances, and according to the same
premises_."[573] And inasmuch as the same attribute can not, at the same
time, be affirmed and denied of the same subject,[574] therefore a thing
can not be at once "changeable" and "unchangeable," "movable" and
"immovable," "generated" and "eternal."[575] The objects of sense,
however generalized and classified, can only give the contingent, the
relative, and the finite; therefore the permanent ground and sufficient
reason of all phenomenal existence can not be found in opinions and
judgments founded upon sensation.

[Footnote 571: "The Dialectitian is one who syllogistically infers the
contradictions implied in popular opinions."--Aristotle, "Sophist," §§
1, 2.]

[Footnote 572: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.]

[Footnote 573: "Sophist," § 33; "Republic," bk. iv. ch. xii.]

[Footnote 574: See the "Phædo," § 119, and "Republic," bk. iv. ch.
xiii., where the Law of Non-contradiction is announced.]

[Footnote 575 "Parmenides," § 3.]

The dialectic process thus consisted almost entirely of
_refutation_,[576] or what both he and Aristotle denominated _elenchus_
(ἔλεγχος)--a process of reasoning by which the contradictory of a given
proposition is inferred. "When refutation had done its utmost, and all
the points of difficulty and objection had been fully brought out, the
dialectic method had accomplished its purpose; and the affirmation which
remained, after this discussion, might be regarded as setting forth the
truth of the question under consideration;"[577] or in other words,
_when a system of error is destroyed by refutation, the contradictory
opposite principle, with its logical developments, must be accepted as
an established truth_.

[Footnote 576: Confutation is the greatest and chiefest of
purification.--"Sophist," § 34.]

[Footnote 577: Article "Plato," Encyclopædia Britannica.]

By the application of this method, Plato had not only exposed the
insufficiency and self-contradiction of all results obtained by a mere
_à posteriori_ generalization of the simple facts of experience, but he
demonstrated, as a consequence, that we are in possession of some
elements of knowledge which have not been derived from sensation; that
there are, in all minds, certain notions, principles, or ideas, which
have been furnished by a higher faculty than sense; and that these
notions, principles, or ideas, transcend the limits of experience, and
reveal the knowledge of _real being_--τὸ ὄντως ὄν--_Being in se_.

To determine what these principles or ideas are, Plato now addresses
himself to the _analysis of thought_. "It is the glory of Plato to have
borne the light of analysis into the most obscure and inmost region; he
searched out what, in this totality which forms consciousness, is the
province of reason; what comes from it, and not from the imagination and
the senses--from within, and not from without."[578] Now to analyze is
to decompose, that is, to divide, and to define, in order to see better
that which really is. The chief logical instruments of the dialectic
method are, therefore, _Division_ and _Definition_. "The being able to
_divide_ according to genera, and not to consider the same species as
different, nor a different as the same,"[579] and "to see under one
aspect, and bring together under one general idea, many things scattered
in various places, that, by _defining_ each, a person may make it clear
what the subject is," is, according to Plato, "dialectical."[580]

[Footnote 578: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 328.]

[Footnote 579: "Sophist," § 83.]

[Footnote 580: "Phædrus," §§ 109, 111.]

We have already seen that, in his first efforts at applying reflection
to the concrete phenomena of consciousness, Plato had recognized two
distinct classes of cognitions, marked by characteristics essentially
opposite;--one of "_sensible_" objects having a definite outline, limit,
and figure, and capable of being imaged and represented to the mind in a
determinate form--the other of "_intelligible_" objects, which can not
be outlined or represented in the memory or the imagination by any
figures or images, and are, therefore, the objects of purely rational
conception. He found, also, that we arrive at one class of cognitions
"_mediately_" through images generated in the vital organism, or by some
testimony, definition, or explication of others; whilst we arrive at the
other class "_immediately_" by simple intuition, or rational
apperception. The mind stands face to face with the object, and gazes
directly upon it. The reality of that object is revealed in its own
light, and we find it impossible to refuse our assent--that is, it is
_self-evident_. One class consisted of _contingent_ ideas--that is,
their objects are conceived as existing, with the possibility, without
any contradiction, of conceiving of their non-existence; the other
consisted of _necessary_ ideas--their objects are conceived as existing
with the absolute impossibility of conceiving of their non-existence.
Thus we can conceive of this book, this table, this earth, as not
existing, but we can not conceive the non-existence of space. We can
conceive of succession in time as not existing, but we can not, in
thought, annihilate duration. We can imagine this or that particular
thing not to have been, but we can not conceive of the extinction of
Being in itself. He further observed, that one class of our cognitions
are _conditional_ ideas; the existence of their objects is conceived
only on the supposition of some antecedent existence, as for example,
the idea of qualities, phenomena, events; whilst the other class of
cognitions are _unconditional_ and _absolute_--we can conceive of their
objects as existing independently and unconditionally--existing whether
any thing else does or does not exist, as space, duration, the infinite,
Being _in se_. And, finally, whilst some ideas appear in us as
_particular_ and _individual_, determined and modified by our own
personality and liberty, there are others which are, in the fullest
sense, _universal_. They are not the creations of our own minds, and
they can not be changed by our own volitions. They depend upon neither
times, nor places, nor circumstances; they are common to all minds, in
all times, and in all places. These ideas are the witnesses in our
inmost being that there is something beyond us, and above us; and beyond
and above all the contingent and fugitive phenomena around us. Beneath
all changes there is a _permanent_ being. Beyond all finite and
conditional existance there is something _unconditional_ and _absolute_.
Having determined that there are truths which are independent of our own
minds--truths which are not individual, but universal--truths which
would be truths even if our minds did not perceive them, we are led
onward to a _super-sensual_ and super-natural ground, on which they

To reach this objective reality on which the ideas of reason repose, is
the grand effort of Plato's dialectic. He seeks, by a rigid analysis,
clearly to _separate_, and accurately to _define_ the _à priori_
conceptions of reason. And it was only when he had eliminated every
element which is particular, contingent, and relative, and had defined
the results in precise and accurate language, that he regarded the
process as complete. The ideas which are self-evident, universal, and
necessary, were then clearly disengaged, and raised to their pure and
absolute form. "You call the man dialectical who requires a reason of
the essence or being of each thing. As the dialectical man can define
the essence of every thing, so can he of the good. He can _define_ the
idea of the good, _separating_ it from all others--follow it through all
windings, as in a battle, resolved to mark it, not according to opinion,
but according to science."[581]

[Footnote 581: "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xiv.]

_Abstraction_ is thus the process, the instrument of the Platonic
dialectic. It is important, however, that we should distinguish between
the method of _comparative_ abstraction, as employed in physical
inquiry, and that _immediate_ abstraction, which is the special
instrument of philosophy. The former proceeds by comparison and
generalization, the latter by simple separation. The one yields a
contingent general principle as the result of the comparison of a number
of individual cases, the other gives an universal and necessary
principle by the analysis of a single concrete fact. As an illustration
we may instance "the principle of causality." To enable us to affirm
"that every event must have a cause," we do not need to compare and
generalize a great number of events. "The principle which compels us to
pronounce the judgment is already complete in the first as in the last
event; it can change in regard to its object, it can not change in
itself; it neither increases nor decreases with the greater or less
number of applications."[582] In the presence of a single event, the
universality and necessity of this principle of causality is recognized
with just as much clearness and certainty as in the presence of a
million events, however carefully generalized.

[Footnote 582: Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," pp. 57,

Abstraction, then, it will be seen, creates nothing; neither does it add
any new element to the store of actual cognitions already possessed by
all human minds. It simply brings forward into a clearer and more
definite recognition, that which necessarily belongs to the mind as part
of its latent furniture, and which, as a law of thought, has always
unconsciously governed all its spontaneous movements. As a process of
rational inquiry, it was needful to bring the mind into intelligible and
conscious communion with the world of _Ideas_. These ideas are partially
revealed in the sensible world, all things being formed, as Plato
believed, according to ideas as models and exemplars, of which sensible
objects are the copies. They are more fully manifested in the
constitution of the human mind which, by virtue of its kindred nature
with the original essence or being, must know them intuitively and
immediately. And they are brought out fully by the dialectic process,
which disengages them from all that is individual and phenomenal, and
sets them forth in their pure and absolute form.

But whilst Plato has certainly exhibited the true method of
investigation by which the ideas of reason are to be separated from all
concrete phenomena and set clearly before the mind, he has not attempted
a complete enumeration of the ideas of reason; indeed, such an
enumeration is still the grand desideratum of philosophy. We can not
fail, however, in the careful study of his writings, to recognize the
grand Triad of Absolute Ideas--ideas which Cousin, after Plato, has so
fully exhibited, viz., the _True_, the _Beautiful_, and the _Good_.


I. _The idea of_ ABSOLUTE TRUTH or REALITY (τὸ ἀληθές--τὸ ὄν)--the
ground and efficient cause of all existence, and by participating in
which all phenomenal existence has only so far a reality, sensible
things being merely shadows and resemblances of ideas. This idea is
developed in the human intelligence in its relation with the phenomenal
world; as,

1. _The idea of_ SUBSTANCE (οὐσία)--the ground of all phenomena, "the
being or essence of all things," the permanent reality.--"Timæeus," ch.
ix. and xii.; "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xiv.; "Phædo,"§§ 63-67, 73.

2. _The idea of_ CAUSE (αἰτία)--the power or efficiency by which things
that "become," or begin to be, are generated or produced.--"Timæus," ch.
ix.; "Sophist," § 109; "Philebus," §§ 45, 46.

3. _The idea of_ IDENTITY (αὐτὸ τὸ ἴσον)--that which "does not change,"
"is always the same, simple and uniform, incomposite and
indissoluble,"--that which constitutes personality or
self-hood.--"Phædo," §§ 61-75; "Timæus," ch. ix.; "Republic," bk. ii.
ch. xix. and xx.

4. _The idea of_ UNITY (τὸ ἕν)--one _mind_ or intelligence pervading the
universe, the comprehensive conscious _thought_ or _plan_ which binds
all parts of the universe in one great whole (τὸ πᾶν)--the principle of
_order_.--"Timæus," ch. xi. and xv.; "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.;
"Philebus," §§ 50-51.

5. _The idea of the_ INFINITE (τὸ ἄπειρον)--that which is unlimited and
unconditioned, "has no parts, bounds, no beginning, nor middle, nor
end."--"Parmenides," §§ 22, 23.

II. _The idea of_ ABSOLUTE BEAUTY (τὸ καλόν)--the formal cause of the
universe, and by participation in which all created things have only so
far a real beauty.--"Timæus," ch. xi, "Greater Hippias," §§ 17, 18;
"Republic," bk. v. ch. 22.

This idea is developed in the human intelligence in its relation to the
organic world; as:

      1. _The Idea of_ PROPORTION or SYMMETRY (συμμετρἰα)--the
      proper relation of parts to an organic whole resulting in a
      harmony (κόσμος), and which relation admits of mathematical
      expression.--"Timæus," ch. lxix.; "Philebus," § 155
      ("Timæus," ch. xi. and xii., where the relation of numerical
      proportions to material elements is expounded).

      2. _The idea of_ DETERMINATE FORM (παράδειγμα
      ἀρχέτυπος)--the eternal models or archetypes according to
      which all things are framed, and which admit of geometrical
      representation.--"Timæus," ch. ix.; "Phædo," §112 ("Timæus,"
      ch. xxviii.-xxxi., where the relation of geometrical forms
      to material elements is exhibited).

      3. _The idea of_ RHYTHM (ῥυθμός)--measured movement in time
      and space, resulting in melody and grace.--"Republic," bk.
      iii. ch. xi. and xii.; "Philebus," § 21.

      4. _The idea of_ FITNESS or ADAPTATION
      (χρήσιοω)--effectiveness to some purpose or end.--"Greater
      Hippias," § 35.

      5. _The idea of_ PERFECTION (τελειότης)--that which is
      complete, "a structure which is whole and finished--of whole
      and perfect parts."--"Timæus," ch. xi., xii., and xliii.

III. _The idea of_ ABSOLUTE GOOD (τὸ ἀγαθόν)--the final _cause_ or
_reason_ of all existence, the sun of the invisible world, that pours
upon all things the revealing light of truth.

The first Good[583] (_summum bonum_) is God the highest, and Mind or
Intelligence (νοῦς), which renders man capable of knowing and resembling
God. The second flows from the first, and are virtues of mind. They are
good by a participation of the chief good, and constitute in man a
likeness or _resemblance_ to God.--"Phædo," §§110-114; "Laws," bk. i.
ch. vi., bk. iv. ch. viii.; "Theætetus," §§ 84, 85; "Republic," bk. vi.
ch. xix., bk. vii. ch. iii., bk. x. ch. xii.[584]

[Footnote 583: "Let us declare, then, on what account the framing
Artificer settled the formation of the universe. He was GOOD;" and being
good, "he desired that all things should as much as possible resemble
himself."--"Timæus," ch. x.]

[Footnote 584: "At the utmost bounds of the intellectual world is the
_idea of the Good_, perceived with difficulty, but which, once seen,
makes itself known as the cause of all that is beautiful and good; which
in the visible world produces light, and the orb that gives it; and
which in the invisible world directly produces Truth and
Intelligence."--"Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.]

This idea is developed in the human intelligence in its relation to the
world of moral order; as,

1. _The idea of_ WISDOM or PRUDENCE (φρόνησις)--thoughtfulness,
rightness of intention, following the guidance of reason, the right
direction of the energy or will.--"Republic," bk. iv. ch. vii., bk. vi.
ch. ii.

2. _The idea of_ COURAGE or FORTITUDE (ἀνδρία)--zeal, energy, firmness
in the maintenance of honor and right, virtuous indignation against
wrong.--"Republic," bk. iv. ch. viii.; "Laches;" "Meno," § 24.

(σωφροσύνη)--sound-mindedness, moderation, dignity.--"Republic," bk. iv.
ch. ix.; "Meno," § 24; "Phædo," § 35.

4. _The idea of_ JUSTICE (δικαιοσύνη)--the harmony or perfect
proportional action of all the powers of the soul.--"Republic," bk. i.
ch. vi., bk. iv. ch. x.-xii., bk. vi. ch. ii. and xvi.; "Philebus," §
155; "Phædo," § 54; "Theætetus," §§ 84, 85.

Plato's idea of Justice comprehends--

(1) EQUITY (ὶσότης)--the rendering to every man his due.--"Republic,"
bk. i. ch. vi.

(2.) VERACITY (ἀλήθεια)--the utterance of what is true.--"Republic," bk.
i. ch. v., bk. ii. ch. xx., bk. vi. ch. ii.

(3.) FAITHFULNESS (πιστὸτης)--the strict performance of a
trust.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. v., bk. vi. ch. ii.

(4.) USEFULNESS (ώφέλτμον)--the answering of some valuable
end.--"Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii., bk. iv. ch. xviii.; "Meno," § 22.

(5.) BENEVOLENCE (εὔνοια)--seeking the well-being of
others.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. xvii., bk. ii. ch. xviii.

(6.) HOLINESS (ὁσιότης)--purity of mind, piety.--"Protagoras," §§ 52-54;
"Phædo," § 32; "Theætetus," § 84.

The final effort of Plato's Dialectic was to ascend from these ideas of
Absolute Truth, and Absolute Beauty, and Absolute Goodness to the
_Absolute Being_, in whom they are all united, and from whom they all
proceed. "He who possesses the true love of science is naturally carried
in his aspirations to the _real Being_; and his love, so far from
suffering itself to be retarded by the multitude of things whose reality
is only apparent, knows no repose until it have arrived at union with
the _essence_ of each object, by the part of the soul which is akin to
the permanent and essential; so that this divine conjunction having
produced intelligence and truth, the knowledge of _being_ is won."[585]

[Footnote 585: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. v.]

To the mind of Plato, there was in every thing, even the smallest and
most insignificant of sensible objects, a _reality_ just in so far as it
participates in some archetypal form or idea. These archetypal forms or
ideas are the "_thoughts of God_"[586]--they are the plan according to
which he framed the universe. "The Creator and Father of the universe
looked to an _eternal model_.... Being thus generated, the universe is
framed according to principles that can be comprehended by reason and
reflection."[587] Plato, also, regarded all individual conceptions of
the mind as hypothetical notions which have in them an _à priori_
element--an idea which is unchangeable, universal, and necessary. These
unchangeable, universal, and necessary ideas are copies of the Divine
Ideas, which are, for man, the primordial laws of all cognition, and all
reasoning. They are possessed by the soul "in virtue of its kindred
nature to that which is permanent, unchangeable, and eternal." He also
believed that every archetypal form, and every _à priori_ idea, has its
ground and root in a higher idea, which is _unhypothetical_ and
_absolute_--an idea which needs no other supposition for its
explanation, and which is, itself, needful to the explanation of all
existence--even the idea of an _absolute_ and _perfect Being_, in whose
mind the ideas of absolute truth, and beauty, and goodness inhere, and
in whose eternity they can only be regarded as eternal.[588] Thus do the
"ideas of reason" not only cast a bridge across the abyss that separates
the sensible and the ideal world, but they also carry us beyond the
limits of our personal consciousness, and discover to us a realm of real
Being, which is the foundation, and cause, and explanation of the
phenomenal world that appears around us and within us.

[Footnote 586: Alcinous, "Doctrines of Plato," p. 262.]

[Footnote 587: "Timæus," ch. ix.]

[Footnote 588: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 149.]

This passage from psychology to ontology is not achieved _per saltum_,
or effected by any arbitrary or unwarrantable assumption. There are
principles revealed in the centre of our consciousness, whose regular
development carry us beyond the limits of consciousness, and attain to
the knowledge of actual being. The absolute principles of _causality_
and _substance_, of _intentionality_ and _unity_, unquestionably give us
the absolute Being. Indeed the absolute truth _that every idea supposes
a being in which it resides_, and which is but another form of the law
or principle of substance, viz., _that every quality supposes a
substance or being in which it inheres_, is adequate to carry us from
Idea to Being. "There is not a single cognition which does not suggest
to us the notion of existence, and there is not an unconditional and
absolute truth which does not necessarily imply an absolute and
unconditional Being."[589]

[Footnote 589: Cousin's "Elements of Psychology," p. 506.]

This, then, is the dialectic of Plato. Instead of losing himself amid
the endless variety of particular phenomena, he would search for
principles and laws, and from thence ascend to the great Legislator, the
_First Principle of all Principles_. Instead of stopping at the
relations of sensible objects to the general ideas with which they are
commingled, he will pass to their _eternal Paradigms_--from the just
thing to the idea of absolute justice, from the particular good to the
absolute good, from beautiful things to the absolute beauty, and thence
to the ultimate reality--_the absolute Being_. By the realization of the
lower idea, embodied in the forms of the visible universe and in the
necessary laws of thought, he sought to rise to the higher idea, in its
pure and abstract form--the _Supreme Idea_, containing in itself all
other ideas--the _One Intelligence_ which unites the universe in a
harmonious whole. "The Dialectic faculty proceeds from hypothesis to an
unhypothetical principle.... It uses hypotheses as steps, and
starting-points, in order to proceed from thence to the _absolute_. The
Intuitive Reason takes hold of the First Principle of the Universe, and
avails itself of all the connections and relations of that principle. It
ascends from idea to idea, until it has reached the Supreme Idea"--the
_Absolute Good_--that is, _God_.[590]

[Footnote 590: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx. and xxi.]

We are thus brought, in the course of our examination of the Platonic
method, to the _results_ obtained by this method--or, in other words, to


The grand object of all philosophic inquiry in ancient Greece was to
attain to the knowledge of real Being--that Being which is permanent,
unchangeable, and eternal. It had proceeded on the intuitive conviction,
that beneath all the endless diversity of the universe there must be a
principle of _unity_--below all fleeting appearances there must be a
permanent _substance_--beyond all this everlasting flow and change, this
beginning and end of finite existence, there must be an eternal Being,
which is the _cause_, and which contains, in itself, the _reason_ of the
order, and harmony, and beauty, and excellency which pervades the
universe. And it had perpetually asked what is this permanent,
unchangeable, and eternal substance or being?

Plato had assiduously labored at the solution of this problem. The
object of his dialectic was "to lead upward the soul to the knowledge of
real being,"[591] and the conclusions to which he attained may be summed
up as follows:

1st. _Beneath all_ SENSIBLE _phenomena there is an unchangeable
subject-matter, the mysterious substratum of the world of sense, which
he calls the receptacle (ἱποδοχή) the nurse (τιθήνη) of all that is

It is this "substratum or physical groundwork" which gives a reality and
definiteness to the evanescent phantoms of sense, for, in their
ceaseless change, _they_ can not justify any title whatever. It alone
can be styled "_this_" or "_that_" (τόδε or τοῦτο); they rise no higher
than "_of such kind_" or "_of what kind or quality" (τοιοῦτον or
ὁποιονοῦν τι).[593] It is not earth, or air, or fire, or water, but "an
invisible _species_ and formless universal receiver, which, in the most
obscure way, receives the immanence of the intelligible."[594] And in
relation to the other two principles (_i.e._, ideas and objects of
sense), "it is _the mother_" to the father and the offspring.[595] But
perhaps the most remarkable passage is that in which he seems to
identify it with _pure space_, which, "itself imperishable, furnishes a
_seat_ (ἕδραν) to all that is produced, not apprehensible by direct
perception, but caught by a certain spurious reasoning, scarcely
admissible, but which we see as in a dream; gaining it by that judgment
which pronounces it necessary that all which is, be _somewhere_, and
occupy a _certain space_."[596] This, it will be seen, approaches the
Cartesian doctrine, which resolves matter into _simple extension.[597]

[Footnote 591: "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xii. and xiii.]

[Footnote 592: "Timæus," ch. xxii.]

[Footnote 593: "Timæus," ch. xxiii.]

[Footnote 594: Ibid., ch. xxiv.]

[Footnote 595: Ibid., ch. xxiv.]

[Footnote 596: Ibid., ch. xxvi.]

[Footnote 597: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

It should, however, be distinctly noted that Plato does not use the word
ὓλη--matter. This term is first employed by Aristotle to express "the
substance which is the subject of all changes."[598] The subject or
substratum of which Plato speaks, would seem to be rather a logical than
a material entity. It is the _condition or supposition_ necessary for
the production of a world of phenomena. It is thus the
_transition-element_ between the real and the apparent, the eternal and
the contingent; and, lying thus on the border of both territories, we
must not be surprised that it can hardly be characterized by any
definite attribute.[599] Still, this unknown recipient of forms or ideas
has a _reality_; it has "an abiding nature," "a constancy of existence;"
and we are forbidden to call it by any name denoting quality, but
permitted to style it "_this_" and "_that_" (τόδε καὶ τοῦτο).[600]
Beneath the perpetual changes of sensible phenomena there is, then, an
unchangeable subject, which yet is neither the Deity, nor ideas, nor the
soul of man, which exists as the means and occasion of the manifestation
of Divine Intelligence in the organization of the world.[601]

[Footnote 598: "Metaphysics," bk. vii. ch. i.]

[Footnote 599: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 600: "Timæus," ch. xxiii.]

[Footnote 601: Ibid., ch. xiiii]

There has been much discussion as to whether Plato held that this
"_Receptacle_" and "_Nurse_" of forms and ideas was eternal, or
generated in time. Perhaps no one has more carefully studied the
writings of Plato than William Archer Butler, and his conclusions in
regard to this subject are presented in the following words: "As, on the
one hand, he maintained a strict system of dualism, and avoided, without
a single deviation, that seduction of pantheism to which so many
abstract speculators of his own school have fallen victims; so, on the
other hand, it appears to me that he did not scruple to place this
principle, the opposite of the Divine intelligence, in a sphere
independent of temporal origination.... But we can scarcely enter into
his views, unless we ascertain his notions of the nature of _Time_
itself. This was considered to have been created with the rest of the
sensible world, to finish with it, if it ever finished--to be altogether
related to this phenomenal scene.[602] 'The generating Father determined
to create a moving image of eternity (αἰῶνος); and in disposing the
heavens, he framed of this eternity, reposing in its own unchangeable
unity, an eternal _image_, moving according to numerical succession,
which he called _Time_. With the world arose days, nights, months,
years, which all had no previous existence. The past and future are but
forms of time, which we most erroneously transfer to the eternal
substance (ἀίδιον οὐσίαν); we say it was, and is, and will be, whereas
we can only fitly say _it is_. Past and future are appropriate to the
successive nature of generated beings, for they bespeak motion; but the
Being eternally and immovably the same is subject neither to youth nor
age, nor to any accident of time; it neither was, nor hath been, nor
will be, which are the attributes of fleeting sense--the circumstances
of time, imitating eternity in the shape of number and motion. Nor can
any thing be more inaccurate than to apply the term _real being_ to
past, or present, or future, or even to non-existence. Of this, however,
we can not now speak fully. _Time_, then, was formed with the heavens,
that, together created, they may together end, _if indeed an end be in
the purpose of the Creator_; and it is designed as closely as possible
to resemble the eternal nature, its exemplar. The model exists through
all eternity; the world has been, is, and will be through all
_time_.'[603] In this ineffable eternity Plato places the Supreme Being,
and the archetypal ideas of which the sensible world of time partakes.
Whether he also includes under the same mode of existence the
_subject-matter_ of the sensible world, it is not easy to pronounce; and
it appears to me evident that he did not himself undertake to speak with
assurance on this obscure problem."[604] The creation of matter "out of
nothing" is an idea which, in all probability, did not occur to the mind
of Plato. But that he regarded it as, in some sense, a _dependent_
existence--as existing, like time, by "the purpose or will of the
Creator"--perhaps as an eternal "generation" from the "eternal
substance," is also highly probable; for in the last analysis he
evidently desires to embrace all things in some ultimate _unity_--a
tendency which it seems impossible for human reason to avoid.

[Footnote 602: See _ante_, note 4, p. 349.]

[Footnote 603: "Timæus," ch. xiv.]

[Footnote 604: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

2d. _Beneath all mental phenomena there is a permanent subject or
substratum which he designates_ THE IDENTICAL (τὸ αὐτό)--_the rational
element of the soul--"the principle of self-activity" or

There are three principles into which Plato analyzes the soul--the
principle of the _Identical_, the _Diverse_, and the _Intermediate
Essence_.[606] The first is indivisible and eternal, always existing in
_sameness_, the very substance of _Intelligence_ itself, and of the same
nature with the Divine.[607] The second is divisible and corporeal,
answering to our notion of the passive _sensibilities_, and placing the
soul in relation with the visible world. The third is an intermediate
essence, partaking of the natures of both, and constituting a medium
between the eternal and the mutable--the conscious _energy_ of the soul
developed in the contingent world of time. Thus the soul is, on one
side, linked to the unchangeable and the eternal, being formed of that
ineffable element which constitutes the _real_ or _immutable Being_, and
on the other side, linked to the sensible and the contingent, being
formed of that element which is purely _relative_ and _contingent_. This
last element of the soul is regarded by Plato as "mortal" and
"corruptible," the former element as "immortal" and "indestructible,"
having its foundations laid in eternity.

[Footnote 605: "Laws," bk. x. ch. vi. and vii.; "Phædrus," § 51; "άρχὴ

[Footnote 606: "Timæus," ch. xii.; ταὐτον, θάτερον, and οὐσία or τὸ

[Footnote 607: "Laws," bk. v. ch. i.]

This doctrine of the eternity of the free and rational element of the
soul must, of course, appear strange and even repulsive to those who are
unacquainted with the Platonic notion of eternity as a fixed state out
of time, which has no past, present, or future, and is simply that which
"always _is_"--an everlasting _now_. The soul, in its elements of
rationality and freedom, has existed anterior to time, because it now
exists in eternity.[608] In its actual manifestations and personal
history it is to be contemplated as a "generated being," having a
commencement in time.

Now, that the human soul, like the uncreated Deity, has always had a
distinct, conscious, personal, independent being, does not appear to be
the doctrine of Plato. He teaches, most distinctly, that the "divine,"
the immortal part, was created, or rather "generated," in eternity. "The
Deity himself _formed the divine_, and he delivered over to his
celestial offspring [the subordinate and generated gods] the task of
_forming the mortal_. These subordinate deities, copying the example of
their parent, and receiving from his hands the _immortal principle_ of
the human soul, fashioned subsequently to this the mortal body, which
they consigned to the soul as a vehicle, and in which they placed
another kind of soul, mortal, the seat of violent and fatal
affections."[609] He also regarded the soul as having a derived and
dependent existence. He draws a marked distinction between the divine
and human forms of the "self-moving principle," and makes its
continuance dependent upon the will and wisdom of the Almighty Disposer
and Parent, of whom it is "the first-born offspring."[610]

[Footnote 608: See _ante_, note 4, p. 349, as to the Platonic notions of
"Time" and "Eternity."]

[Footnote 609: "Timaeus," ch. xliv.]

[Footnote 610: See the elaborate exposition in "Laws," bk. x. ch. xii.
and xiii.]

That portion of the soul which Plato regarded as "immortal" and "to be
entitled divine," is thus the "_offspring of God_"--a ray of the
Divinity "generated" by, or emanating from, the Deity. He seems to have
conceived it as co-eternal with its ideal objects, in some mysterious
ultimate _unity_. "The true foundation of the Platonic theory of the
constitution of the soul is this fundamental principle of his
philosophy--the _oneness of truth and knowledge_.[611] This led him
naturally to derive the _rational_ element of the soul (that element
that _knows_), that possesses the power of νόησις from the _real_
element in things (the element that _is_)--the νοούμενον; and in the
original, the final, and, though imperfectly, the present state of that
rational element, he, doubtless, conceived it united with its object in
an eternal conjunction, or even identity. But though intelligence and
its correlative intelligibles were and are thus combined, the soul is
_more_ than pure intelligence; it possesses an element of personality
and consciousness distinct to each individual, of which we have no
reason to suppose, from any thing his writings contain, Plato ever meant
to deprive it."[612] On the contrary, he not only regarded it as having
now, under temporal conditions, a distinct personal existence, but he
also claimed for it a conscious, personal existence after death. He is
most earnest, and unequivocal, and consistent in his assertion of the
doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The arguments which human
reason can supply are exhibited with peculiar force and beauty in the
"Phædo," the "Phædrus," and the tenth book of the "Republic." The most
important of these arguments may be presented in a few words.

[Footnote 611: See Grant's "Aristotle," vol. i. pp. 150, 151.]

[Footnote 612: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.
209, note.]

1. _The soul is immortal, because it is incorporeal_. There are two
kinds of existences, one compounded, the other simple; the former
subject to change, the latter unchangeable; one perceptible to sense,
the other comprehended by mind alone. The one is visible, the other is
invisible. When the soul employs the bodily senses, it wanders and is
confused; but when it abstracts itself from the body, it attains to
knowledge which is stable, unchangeable, and immortal. The soul,
therefore, being uncompounded, incorporeal, invisible, must be
indissoluble--that is to say, immortal.[613]

[Footnote 613: "Phædo," §§ 61-75.]

2. _The soul is immortal, because it has an independent power of
self-motion_--that is, it has self-activity and self-determination. No
arrangement of matter, no configuration of body, can be conceived as the
originator of free and voluntary movement.

Now that which can not move itself, but derives its motion from
something else, may cease to move, and perish. "But that which is
self-moved, never ceases to be active, and is also the cause of motion
to all other things that are moved." And "whatever is continually active
is immortal." This "self-activity is," says Plato, "the very essence and
true notion of the soul."[614] Being thus essentially _causative_, it
therefore partakes of the nature of a "principle," and it is the nature
of a principle to exclude its _contrary_. That which is essentially
self-active can never cease to be active; that which is the cause of
motion and of change, can not be extinguished by the change called

3. _The soul is immortal, because it possesses universal, necessary, and
absolute ideas_, which transcend all material conditions, and bespeak an
origin immeasurably above the body. No modifications of matter, however
refined, however elaborated, can give the Absolute, the Necessary, the
Eternal. But the soul has the ideas of absolute beauty, goodness,
perfection, identity, and duration, and it possesses these ideas in
virtue of its having a nature which is one, simple, identical, and in
some sense, eternal.[616] If the soul can conceive an immortality, it
can not be less than immortal. If, by its very nature, "it has hopes
that will not be bounded by the grave, and desires and longings that
grasp eternity," its nature and its destiny must correspond.

In the concluding sections of the "Phædo" he urges the doctrine with
earnestness and feeling as the grand motive to a virtuous life, for "the
reward is noble and the hope is great."[617] And in the "Laws" he
insists upon the doctrine of a future state, in which men are to be
rewarded or punished as the most conclusive evidence that we are under
the moral government of God.[618]

[Footnote 614: "Phædrus," §§ 51-53.]

[Footnote 615: "Phædo," §§ 112-128.]

[Footnote 616: Ibid., §§ 48-57, 110-115.]

[Footnote 617: Ibid., §§ 129-145.]

[Footnote 618: The doctrine of Metempsychosis, or transmigration of
souls, can scarcely be regarded as part of the philosophic system of
Plato. He seems to have accepted it as a venerable tradition, coming
within the range of probability, rather than as a philosophic truth, and
it is always presented by him in a highly mythical dress. Now of these
mythical representations he remarks in the "Phædo" (§ 145) that "no man
in his senses would dream of insisting _that they correspond to the
reality_, but that, the soul having been shown to be immortal, this, or
something like this, is true of individual souls or their habitations."
If, as in the opinions of the ablest critics, "the Laws" is to be placed
amongst the last and maturest of Plato's writings, the evidence is
conclusive that whatever may have been his earlier opinions, he did not
entertain the doctrine of "Metempsychosis" in his riper years. But when,
on the one hand, the soul shall remain having an intercourse with divine
virtue, it becomes divine pre-eminently; and pre-eminently, after having
been conveyed to a _place_ entirely holy, it is changed for the better;
but when it acts in a contrary manner, it has, under contrary
circumstances, placed its existence in some _unholy spot_.

     _This is the judgment of the gods, who hold Olympus._

"O thou young man," [know] "that the person who has become more wicked,
_departs to the more wicked souls;_ but he who has become better, to the
better both in life and in all deaths, to do and suffer what is fitting
for the like."--"Laws," bk. x. ch. xii. and xiii.]

4. _Beyond all finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas,
and principles, there is an_ INTELLIGENCE _or_ MIND, _the First
Principle of all Principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas
are grounded; the Monarch and Lawgiver of the universe, the ultimate
Substance from which all other things derive their being and essence,
the First and efficient Cause of all the order, and harmony, and beauty,
and excellency, and goodness, which pervades the universe, who is called
by way of pre-eminence and excellence the Supreme Good_, THE GOD (ὁ
θεός), "_the God over all_," (ὁ ἐπὶ πᾶσι θεός).

_This_ SUPREME MIND,[619] Plato taught, is incorporeal,[620]
unchangeable,[621] infinite,[622] absolutely perfect,[623] essentially
good,[624] unoriginated,[625] and eternal.[626] He is "the Father, and
Architect, and Maker of the Universe,"[627] "the efficient Cause of all
things."[628] "the Monarch and Ruler of the world,"[629] "the sovereign
Mind that orders all things, and pervades all things,"[630] "the sole
Principle of all things,"[631] and "the Measure of all things,"[632] He
is "the Beginning of all truth,"[633] "the Fountain of all law and
justice,"[634] "the Source of all order and beauty,"[635] "the Cause of
all good;"[636] in short, "he is the Beginning, the Middle, and End of
all things."[637]

[Footnote 619: "Phædo," §§ 105-107.]

[Footnote 620: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," bk. iii. ch. 77.]

[Footnote 621: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xix.; "Timæus," ch. ix.]

[Footnote 622: "Apeleius," bk. i. ch. v.]

[Footnote 623: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xx.]

[Footnote 624: "Timæus," ch. x.; "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii.]

[Footnote 625: "Timæus," ch. ix.-x.]

[Footnote 626: Ibid., ch. xii.]

[Footnote 627: Ibid., ch. ix.]

[Footnote 628: "Phædo," § 105.]

[Footnote 629: "Laws," bk. x. ch. xii.; "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.;
"Philebus," § 50.]

[Footnote 630: "Philebus," §51.]

[Footnote 631: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xix.]

[Footnote 632: "Laws," bk. iv. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 633: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xxi.]

[Footnote 634: "Laws," bk. iv. ch. vii.]

[Footnote 635: "Philebus," § 51; "Timæus," ch. x.]

[Footnote 636: "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii.; "Timæus," ch. x.]

[Footnote 637: "Laws," bk. iv, ch. vii.]

Beyond the sensible world, Plato conceived another world of
intelligibles or _ideas_. These ideas are not, however, distinct and
independent existences. "What general notions are to our own minds,
ideas are to the Supreme Reason (νοῦς βασιλεύς); they are the _eternal
thoughts_ of the Divine Intellect."[638] Ideas are not substances, they
are qualities, and there must, therefore, be some ultimate substance or
being to whom, as attributes, they belong. "It must not be believed, as
has been taught, that Plato gave to ideas a substantial existence. When
they are not objects of pure conception for human reason, they are
attributes of the Divine Reason. It is there they substantially
exist."[639] These eternal laws and reasons of things indicate to us the
character of that Supreme Essence of essences, the Being of beings. He
is not the simple aggregate of all laws, but he is the Author, and
Sustainer, and Substance of all laws. At the utmost summit of the
intellectual world of Ideas blazes, with an eternal splendor, the idea
of the _Supreme Good_ from which all others emanate.[640] This Supreme
Good is "far beyond all existence in dignity and power, and it is that
from which all things else derive their being and essence."[641] The
Supreme Good is not the truth, nor the intelligence; "it is the Father
of it." In the same manner as the sun, which is the visible image of the
good, reigns over the world, in that it illumes and vivifies it; so the
Supreme Good, of which the sun is only the work, reigns over the
intelligible world, in that it gives birth to it by virtue of its
inexhaustible fruitfulness.[642] _The Supreme Good is_ GOD _himself_,
and he is designated "the good" because this term seems most fittingly
to express his essential character and essence.[643] It is towards this
superlative perfection that the reason lifts itself; it is towards this
infinite beauty the heart aspires. "Marvellous Beauty!" exclaims Plato;
"eternal, uncreated, imperishable beauty, free from increase and
diminution... beauty which has nothing sensible, nothing corporeal, as
hands or face: which does not reside in any being different from itself,
in the earth, or the heavens, or in any other thing, but which exists
_eternally and absolutely in itself, and by itself;_ beauty of which
every other beauty partakes, without their birth or destruction bringing
to it the least increase or diminution."[644] The absolute being--God,
is the last reason, the ultimate foundation, the complete ideal of all
beauty. God is, _par excellent_, the Beautiful.

[Footnote 638: Thompson's "Laws of Thought," p. 119.]

[Footnote 639: Cousin, "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 415. "There is no quintessential metaphysics which can prevail
against common sense, and if such be the Platonic theory of ideas,
Aristotle was right in opposing it. But such a theory is only a chimera
which Aristotle created for the purpose of combating it."--"The True,
the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 77.]

[Footnote 640: "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 641: "Ibid.," bk. vi. ch. xviii. and xix.]

[Footnote 642: "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 642: Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 644: "Banquet," § 35. See Cousin, "The True, the Beautiful,
and the Good," Lecture IV., also Lecture VII. pp. 150-153; Denis,
"Histoire des Théories et Ideés Morales dans l'Antiquité," vol. i. p.

God is therefore, with Plato, _the First Principle of all Principles;_
the Divine energy or power is the _efficient cause_, the Divine beauty
the _formal cause_, and the Divine goodness the _final cause_ of all

_The eternal unity of the principles of Order, Goodness, and Truth, in
an ultimate reality--the_ ETERNAL MIND, is thus the fundamental
principle which pervades the whole of the Platonic philosophy. And now,
having attained this sublime elevation, he looks down from thence upon
the _sensible, the phenomenal world_, and upon _the temporal life of
man;_ and in the light of this great principle he attempts to explain
their meaning and purpose. The results he attained in the former case
constitute the Platonic _Physics_, in the latter, the Platonic _Ethics_.


Firmly believing in the absolute excellence of the Deity, and regarding
the Divine Goodness as the Final Cause of the universe, he pronounces
the physical world to be an _image_ of the perfection of God.
Anaxagoras, no doubt, prepared the way for this theory. Every one who
has read the "Phædo," will remember the remarkable passage in which
Socrates gives utterance to the disappointment which he had experienced
when expecting from physical science an explanation of the universe.
"When I was young," he said--"it is not to be told how eager I was about
physical inquiries, and curious to know _how the universe came to be as
it is_; and when I heard that Anaxagoras was teaching that all was
arranged by _mind_, I was delighted with the prospect of hearing such a
doctrine unfolded; I thought to myself, if he teaches that mind made
every thing to be as it is, he will explain _how it is_ BEST _for it to
be_, and show that so it is." But Anaxagoras, it appears, lost sight of
this principle, and descended to the explanation of the universe by
material causes. "Great was my hope," says Socrates, "and equally great
my disappointment."[645]

[Footnote 645: "Phædo," §§ 105, 106.]

Plato accepted this suggestion of Anaxagoras with all his peculiar
earnestness, and devoted himself to its fuller development. It were a
vain and profitless theory, which, whilst it assumed the existence of a
Supreme Mind, did not represent that mind as operating in the universe
by _design_, and as exhibiting his intelligence, and justice, and
goodness, as well as his power, in every thing. If it be granted that
there is a Supreme Mind, then, argued Plato, he must be regarded as "the
measure of all things," and all things must have been framed according
to a plan or "model" which that mind supplied. Intelligence must be
regarded as having a _purpose_, and as working towards an _end_, for it
is this alone which distinguishes reason from unreason, and mind from
mere unintelligent force. The only proper model which could be presented
to the Supreme Intelligence is "the eternal and unchangeable model"[646]
which his own perfection supplies, "for he is the most excellent of
causes."[647] Thus God is not simply the maker of the universe, but the
model of the universe, because he designed that it should be an IMAGE,
in the sphere of sense, of his own perfections--a revelation of his
eternal beauty, and wisdom, and goodness, and truth. "God was _good_,
and being good, he desired that the universe should, as far as possible,
_resemble_ himself.... Desiring that all things should be _good_, and,
as far as might be, nothing evil, he took the fluctuating mass of things
visible, which had been in orderless confusion, and reduced it to
_order_, considering this to be the _better_ state. Now it was and is
utterly impossible for the supremely good to form any thing except that
which is _most excellent_ (κάλλιστον--most fair, most beautiful").[648]
The object at which the supreme mind aimed being that which is "_best_,"
we must, in tracing his operations in the universe, always look for
"_the best_" in every thing.[649] Starting out thus, upon the assumption
that the goodness of God is the final cause of the universe, Plato
evolved a system of _optimism_.

The physical system of Plato being thus intended to illustrate a
principle of optimism, the following results may be expected:

1. That it will mainly concern itself with _final causes_. The universe
being regarded chiefly, as indeed it is, an indication of the Divine
Intelligence--every phenomenon will be contemplated in that light.
Nature is the volume in which the Deity reveals his own perfections; it
is therefore to be studied solely with this motive, that we may learn
from thence the perfection of God. The _Timæus_ is a series of ingenious
hypotheses designed to deepen and vivify our sense of the harmony, and
symmetry, and beauty of the universe, and, as a consequence, of the
wisdom, and excellence, and goodness, of its Author.[650]

[Footnote 646: "Timæus," ch. ix.]

[Footnote 647: Ibid.]

[Footnote 648: Ibid., ch. x.]

[Footnote 649: Ibid., ch. xix.]

[Footnote 650: "Being is related to Becoming (the Absolute to the
Contingent) as Truth is to Belief; consequently we must not marvel
should we find it impossible to arrive at any certain and conclusive
results in our speculations upon the creation of the visible universe
and its authors; it should be enough for us if the account we have to
give be as probable as any other, remembering that we are but men, and
therefore bound to acquiesce in merely probable results, without looking
for a higher degree of certainty than the subject admits of"--"Timæus,"
ch. ix.]

Whatever physical truths were within the author's reach, took their
place in the general array: the vacancies were filled up with the best
suppositions admitted by the limited science of the time.[651] And it is
worthy of remark that, whilst proceeding by this "high _à priori_ road,"
he made some startling guesses at the truth, and anticipated some of the
discoveries of the modern inductive method, which proceeds simply by the
observation, comparison, and generalization of facts. Of these prophetic
anticipations we may instance that of the definite proportions of
chemistry,[652] the geometrical forms of crystallography,[653] the
doctrine of complementary colors,[654] and that grand principle that all
the highest laws of nature assume the form of a precise quantitative

2. It may be expected that a system of physics raised on optimistic
principles will be _mathematical_ rather than experimental. "Intended to
embody conceptions of proportion and harmony, it will have recourse to
that department of science which deals with the proportions in space and
number. Such applications of mathematical truths, not being raised on
ascertained facts, can only accidentally represent the real laws of the
physical system; they will, however, vivify the student's apprehension
of harmony in the same manner as a happy parable, though not founded in
real history, will enliven his perceptions of moral truth."[656]

[Footnote 651: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 652: "Timæus," ch. xxxi.]

[Footnote 653: Ibid., ch. xxvii.]

[Footnote 654: Ibid., ch. xlii.]

[Footnote 655: "It is Plato's merit to have discovered that the laws of
the physical universe are resolvable into numerical relations, and
therefore capable of being represented by mathematical
formulæ."--Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 163.]

[Footnote 656: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

3. Another peculiarity of such a system will be an impatience of every
merely _mechanical_ theory of the operations of nature.

"The psychology of Plato led him to recognize mind wherever there was
motion, and hence not only to require a Deity as first mover of the
universe, but also to conceive the propriety of separate and subordinate
agents attached to each of its parts, as principles of motion, no less
than intelligent directors. These agents were entitled '_gods_' by an
easy figure, discernible even in the sacred language,[657] and which
served, besides, to accommodate philosophical hypotheses to the popular
religion. Plato, however, carefully distinguished between the sole,
Eternal Author of the Universe, on the one hand, and that 'soul,' vital
and intelligent, which he attaches to the world, as well as the spheral
intelligences, on the other. These 'subordinate deities,' though
intrusted with a sort of deputed creation, were still only the deputies
of the Supreme Framer and Director of all."[658] The "gods" of the
Platonic system are "subordinate divinities," "generated gods," brought
into existence by the will and wisdom of the Eternal Father and Maker of
the universe.[659] Even Jupiter, the governing divinity of the popular
mythology, is a descendant from powers which are included in the
creation.[660] The offices they fulfill, and the relations they sustain
to the Supreme Being, correspond to those of the "angels" of Christian
theology. They are the ministers of his providential government of the

[Footnote 657: Psalm lxxxii. I; John x. 34.]

[Footnote 658: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 659: "Timæus," ch. xv.]

[Footnote 660: Ibid.]

[Footnote 661: "Laws," bk. x.]

The application of this fundamental conception of the Platonic
system--_the eternal unity of the principles of Order, Goodness, and
Truth in an ultimate reality, the Eternal Mind_--to the elucidation of
the _temporal life_ of man, yields, as a result--


Believing firmly that there are unchangeable, necessary, and absolute
principles, which are the perfections of the Eternal Mind, Plato must,
of course, have been a believer in an _immutable morality_. He held that
there is a rightness, a justice, an equity, not arbitrarily constituted
by the Divine will or legislation, but founded in the nature of God, and
therefore eternal. The independence of the principles of morality upon
the mere will of the Supreme Governor is proclaimed in all his
writings.[662] The Divine will is the fountain of efficiency, the Divine
reason, the fountain of law. God is no more the creator of _virtue_ than
he is the creator of _truth_.

And inasmuch as man is a partaker of the Divine essence, and as the
ideas which dwell in the human reason are "copies" of those which dwell
in the Divine reason, man may rise to the apprehension and recognition
of the immutable and eternal principles of righteousness, and "by
communion with that which is Divine, and subject to the law of order,
may become himself a subject of order, and divine, so far as it is
possible for man."[663]

[Footnote 662: In "Euthyphron" especially.]

[Footnote 663: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.]

The attainment of this consummation is the grand purpose of the Platonic
philosophy. Its ultimate object is "_the purification of the soul_," and
its pervading spirit is the aspiration after perfection. The whole
system of Plato has therefore an eminently _ethical_ character. It is a
speculative philosophy directed to a practical purpose.

Philosophy is the _love of wisdom_. Now wisdom (σοφία) is expressly
declared by Plato to belong alone to the Supreme Divinity,[664] who
alone can contemplate reality in a direct and immediate manner, and in
whom, as Plato seems often to intimate, knowledge and being coincide.
Philosophy is the aspiration of the soul after this wisdom, this perfect
and immutable truth, and in its realization it is a union with the
Perfect Wisdom through the medium of a divine affection, the _love_ of
which Plato so often speaks. The eternal and unchangeable Essence which
is the proper object of philosophy is also endowed with _moral_
attributes. He is not only "the Being," but "the Good" (τὸ ἀγαθόν), and
all in the system of the universe which can be the object of rational
contemplation, is an emanation from that goodness. The love of truth is
therefore the love of God, and the love of Good is the love of truth.
Philosophy and morality are thus coincident. Philosophy is the love of
Perfect Wisdom; Perfect Wisdom and Perfect Goodness are identical; the
Perfect Good is God; philosophy is the "_Love of God_."[665] Ethically
viewed, it is this one motive of _love_ for the Supreme Wisdom and
Goodness, predominating over and purifying and assimilating every desire
of the soul, and governing every movement of the man, raising man to a
participation of and communion with Divinity, and restoring him to "the
_likeness_ of God." "This flight," says Plato, "consists in resembling
God (όμοίωσιϛ Θεῷ), and this resemblance is the becoming just and holy
with wisdom."[666] "This assimilation to God is the enfranchisement of
the divine element of the soul. To approach to God as the substance of
truth is _Science_; as the substance of goodness in truth is _Wisdom_,
and as the substance of Beauty in goodness and truth is _Love_."[667]

The two great principles which can be clearly traced as pervading the
ethical system of Plato are--

1. _That no man is willingly evil_.[668]

2. _That every man is endued with the power of producing changes in his
moral character_[669]

[Footnote 664: "Phædrus," § 145.]

[Footnote 665: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 666: "Theætetus," § 84.]

[Footnote 667: Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p.

[Footnote 668: "Timæsus," ch. xlviii.]

[Footnote 669: "Laws," bk. v. ch. i., bk. ix. ch. vi., bk. x. ch. xii.]

The first of these principles is the counterpart ethical expression of
his theory of _immutable Being_. The second is the counterpart of his
theory of phenomenal change, or _mere Becoming_.

The soul of man is framed after the pattern of the immutable ideas of
the _just_, and the _true_, and the _good_, which dwell in the Eternal
Mind--that is, it is made in the image of God. The soul in its ultimate
essence is formed of "the immutable" and "the permanent." The presence
of the ideas of the just, and the true, and the good in the reason of
man, constitute him a moral nature; and it is impossible that he can
cease to be a moral being, for these ideas, having a permanent and
immutable being, can not be changed. All the passions and affections of
the soul are merely phenomenal. They belong to the mortal, the
transitory life of man; they are in endless flow and change, and they
have no permanent reality. As phenomena, they must, however, have some
ground; and Plato found that ground in the mysterious, instinctive
longing for the _good_ and the _true_ which dwells in the very essence
of the soul. These are the realities after which it strives, even when
pursuing pleasure, and honor, and wealth, and fame. All the restlessness
of human life is prompted by a longing for the _good_. But man does not
clearly perceive what the _good_ really is. The rational element of the
soul has become clouded by passion and ignorance, and suffered an
eclipse of its powers. Still, man longs for the good, and bears witness,
by his restlessness and disquietude, that he instinctively desires it,
and that he can find no rest and no satisfaction in any thing apart from
the knowledge and the participation of the Supreme, the Absolute Good.

This, then, is the meaning of the oft-repeated assertion of Plato "_that
no man is willingly evil_;" viz., that no man deliberately chooses evil
as evil. And Plato is, at the same time, careful to guard the doctrine
from misconception. He readily grants that acts of wrong are
distinguished as voluntary and involuntary, without which there could be
neither merit nor demerit, reward nor punishment.[670] But still he
insists that no man chooses evil in and by itself. He may choose it
voluntarily as a means, but he does not choose it as an end. Every
volition, by its essential nature, pursues, at least, an _apparent_
good; because the end of volition is not the immediate act, but the
object for the sake of which the act is undertaken.[671]

[Footnote 670: "Laws," bk. ix. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 671: "Gorgias," §§ 52, 53.]

How is it, then, it may be asked, that men become evil? The answer of
Plato is, that the soul has in it a principle of change, in the power of
regulating the desires--in indulging them to excess, or moderating them
according to the demands of reason. The circumstances in which the soul
is placed, as connected with the sensible world by means of the body,
present an occasion for the exercise of that power, the end of this
temporal connection being to establish a state of moral discipline and
probation. The humors and distempers of the body likewise deprave,
disorder, and discompose the soul.[672] "Pleasures and pains are unduly
magnified; the democracy of the passions prevails; and the ascendency of
reason is cast down." Bad forms of civil government corrupt social
manners, evil education effects the ruin of the soul. Thus the soul is
changed--is fallen from what it was when first it came from the
Creator's hand. But the eternal Ideas are not utterly effaced, the image
of God is not entirely lost. The soul may yet be restored by remedial
measures. It may be purified by knowledge, by truth, by expiations, by
sufferings, and by prayers. The utmost, however, that man can hope to do
in this life is insufficient to fully restore the image of God, and
death must complete the final emancipation of the rational element from
the bondage of the flesh. Life is thus a discipline and a preparation
for another state of being, and death the final entrance there.[673]

[Footnote 672: "Gorgias," §§ 74-76.]

[Footnote 673: "Phædo," §§ 130, 131.]

Independent of all other considerations, virtue is, therefore, to be
pursued as the true good of the soul. Wisdom, Fortitude, Temperance,
Justice, the four cardinal virtues of the Platonic system, are to be
cultivated as the means of securing the purification and perfection of
the inner man. And the ordinary pleasures, "the lesser goods" of life,
are only to be so far pursued as they are subservient to, and compatible
with, the higher and holier duty of striving after "the resemblance to



THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL (_continued_).


Aristotle was born at Stagira, a Greek colony of Thrace, B.C. 384. His
father, Nicomachus, was a physician in the Court of Amyntas II., King of
Macedonia, and is reported to have written several works on Medicine and
Natural History. From his father, Aristotle seems to have inherited a
love for the natural sciences, which was fostered by the circumstances
which surrounded him in early life, and which exerted a determining
influence upon the studies of his riper years.

Impelled by an insatiate desire for knowledge, he, at seventeen years of
age, repaired to Athens, the city of Plato and the university of the
world. Plato was then absent in Sicily; on his return Aristotle entered
his school, became an ardent student of philosophy, and remained until
the death of Plato, B.C. 348. He therefore listened to the instructions
of Plato for twenty years.

The mental characteristics of the pupil and the teacher were strikingly
dissimilar. Plato was poetic, ideal, and in some degree mystical.
Aristotle was prosaic, systematic, and practical. Plato was intuitive
and synthetical. Aristotle was logical and analytical. It was therefore
but natural that, to the mind of Aristotle, there should appear
something confused, irregular, and incomplete in the discourses of his
master. There was a strange commingling of questions concerning the
grounds of morality, and statements concerning the nature of science; of
inquiries concerning "real being," and speculations on the ordering of a
model Republic, in the same discourse. Ethics, politics, ontology, and
theology, are all comprised in his Dialectic, which is, in fact, the one
grand "science of the idea of the good." Now to the mind of Aristotle it
seemed better, and much more systematic, that these questions should be
separated, and referred to particular heads; and, above all, that they
should be thoroughly discussed in an exact and settled terminology. To
arrange and classify all the objects of knowledge, to discuss them
systematically and, as far as possible, exhaustively, was evidently the
ambition, perhaps also the special function, of Aristotle. He would
survey the entire field of human knowledge; he would study nature as
well as humanity, matter as well as mind, language as well as thought;
he would define the proper limits of each department of study, and
present a regular statement of the facts and principles of each science.
And, in fact, he was the first who really separated the different
sciences and erected them into distinct systems, each resting upon its
own proper principles. He distributed philosophy into three
branches:--(i.) _Theoretic_; (ii.) _Efficient_; (iii.) _Practical_. The
Theoretic he divided into--1. _Physics_; _2. Mathematics_; 3.
_Theology_, or the Prime Philosophy--the science known in modern times
as Metaphysics. The Efficient embraces what we now term the arts,--1.
_Logic; 2. Rhetoric_; 3. _Poetics_. The Practical comprises--_1.
Ethics_; 2. _Politics_. On all these subjects he wrote separate
treatises. Thus, whilst Plato is the genius of abstraction, Aristotle is
eminently the genius of classification.

Such being the mental characteristics of the two men--their type of mind
so opposite--we are prepared to expect that, in pursuing his inquiries,
Aristotle would develop a different _Organon_ from that of Plato, and
that the teachings of Aristotle will give a new direction to philosophic


Plato made use of psychological and logical analysis in order to draw
from the depth of consciousness certain fundamental ideas which are
inherent in the mind--born with it, and not derived from sense or
experience. These ideas he designates "the intelligible species" (τὰ
νοουμενα γένη) as opposed to "the visible species"--the objects of
sense. Such ideas or principles being found, he uses them as
"starting-points" from which he may pass beyond the sensible world and
ascend to "the absolute," that is, to God.[674] Having thus, by
immediate abstraction, attained to universal and necessary ideas, he
descends to the outer world, and attempts by these ideas to construct an
intellectual theory of the universe.[675]

Aristotle will reverse this process. He will commence with _sensation_,
and proceed, by induction, from the known to the unknown.

The repetition of sensations produces _recollection_, recollection
_experience_, and experience produces _science_.[676] "Science and art
result unto men by means of experience...." "Art comes into being when,
from a number of experiences, one universal opinion is evolved, which
will embrace all similar cases. For example, if you know that a certain
remedy has cured Callias of a certain disease, and that the same remedy
has produced the same effect on Socrates and on several other persons,
that is _Experience_; but to know that a certain remedy will cure all
persons attacked with that disease, is _Art_. Experience is a knowledge
of individual things (τῶν καθέκαστα); art is that of universals (τῶν

[Footnote 674: "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx.]

[Footnote 675: "Timæus," ch. ix.]

[Footnote 676: "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. i.]

[Footnote 677: Ibid.]

Disregarding the Platonic notion of the unity of all Being in the
absolute idea, he fixed his immediate attention on the manifoldness of
the phenomenal, and by a classification of all the objects of experience
he sought to attain to "general notions." Concentrating all his
attention on the individual, the contingent, the particular, he ascends,
by induction, from the particular to the _general_; and then, by a
strange paralogism, "the _universal_" is confounded with "the _general_"
or, by a species of logical sleight-of-hand, the general is transmuted
into the universal. Thus "induction is the pathway from particulars to
universals."[678] But how universal and necessary principles can be
obtained by a generalization of limited experiences is not explained by
Aristotle. The experiences of a lifetime, the experiences of the whole
race, are finite and limited, and a generalization of these can only
give the finite, the limited, and at most, the general, but not the

[Footnote 679: "Topics," bk. i. ch. xii.; "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. iii.]

Aristotle admits, however, that there are ideas or principles in the
mind which can not be explained by experience, and we are therefore
entitled to an answer to the question--how are these obtained? "Sensible
experience gives us what is _here_, _there_, _now_, in such and such a
manner, but it is impossible for it to give what is _everywhere_ and _at
all times_."[680] He tells us further, that "science is a conception of
the mind engaged in universals, and in those things which exist of
necessity, and since there are _principles of things demonstrable and of
every science_ (for science is joined with reason), it will be neither
science, nor art, nor prudence, which discovers the principles of
science;... it must therefore be (νοῦς) pure intellect," or the
intuitive reason.[681] He also characterizes these principles as
_self-evident_. "First truths are those which obtain belief, not through
others, but through themselves, as there is no necessity to investigate
the '_why_' in scientific principles, but each principle ought to be
credible by itself."[682] They are also _necessary_ and _eternal_.
"Demonstrative science is from necessary principles, and those which are
_per se_ inherent, are necessarily so in things."[683] "We have all a
conception of that which can not subsist otherwise than it does.... The
object of science has a necessary existence, therefore it is _eternal_.
For those things which exist in themselves, by necessity, are all
eternal."[684] But whilst Aristotle admits that there are "immutable and
first principles,"[685] which are not derived from sense and
experience--"principles which are the foundation of all science and
demonstration, but which are themselves indemonstrable,"[686] because
self-evident, necessary, and eternal; yet he furnishes no proper account
of their genesis and development in the human mind, neither does he
attempt their enumeration. At one time he makes the intellect itself
their source, at another he derives them from sense, experience, and
induction. This is the defect, if not the inconsistency, of his

[Footnote 680: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. xxxi.]

[Footnote 681: "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 682: "Topics," bk. i. ch. i.]

[Footnote 683: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 684: "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 685: Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xi.]

[Footnote 686: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 687: Hamilton attempts the following mode of reconciling the
contradictory positions of Aristotle:

"On the supposition of the mind virtually containing, antecedent to all
experience, certain universal principles of knowledge, in the form of
certain necessities of thinking; still it is only by repeated and
comparative experiments that we compass the certainty; on the one hand,
that such and such cognitions can not but be thought as necessary,
native generalities; and, on the other, that such and such cognitions
may or may not be thought, and are, therefore, as contingent, factitious
generalizations. To this process of experiment, analysis, and
classification, through which we attain to a scientific knowledge of
principles, it might be shown that Aristotle, not improperly, applies
the term _Induction_."--"Philosophy," p. 88.]

The human mind, he tells us, has two kinds of intelligence--the
_passive_ intelligence (νοῦς παθητικός), which is the receptacle of
forms (δεκτικὸν τοῦ εὶδους); and the _active_ intelligence (νοῦς
ποιητικός), which impresses the seal of thought upon the data furnished
by experience, and combines them into the unity of a single judgment,
thus attaining "general notions."[688] The passive intelligence (the
"external perception" of modern psychology) perceives the individual
forms which appear in the external world, and the active intelligence
(the intellect proper) classifies and generalizes according to fixed
laws or principles inherent in itself; but of these fixed laws--πρῶτα
νοήματα--first thoughts, or _à priori_ ideas, he offers no proper
account; they are, at most, purely subjective. This, it would seem, was,
in effect, a return to the doctrine of Protagoras and his school, "that
man--the individual--is the measure of all things." The aspects under
which objects present themselves in consciousness, constitute our only
ground of knowledge; we have no direct, intuitive knowledge of Being _in
se_. The noetic faculty is simply a _regulative_ faculty; it furnishes
the laws under which we compare and judge, but it does not supply any
original elements of knowledge. Individual things are the only real
entities,[689] and "universals" have no separate existence apart from
individuals in which they inhere as attributes or properties. They are
consequently pure mental conceptions, which are fixed and recalled by
general names. He thus substitutes a species of conceptual-nominalism in
place of the realism of Plato. It is true that "real being" (τὸ ὄν) is
with Aristotle a subject of metaphysical inquiry, but the proper, if not
the only subsistence, or οὐαία, is the form or abstract nature of
things. "The essence or very nature of a thing is inherent in the _form_
and _energy_"[690] The science of Metaphysics is strictly conversant
about these abstract intellectual forms just as Natural Philosophy is
conversant about external objects, of which the senses give us
information. Our knowledge of these intellectual forms is, however,
founded upon "beliefs" rather than upon immediate intuition, and the
objective certainty of science, upon the subjective necessity of
believing, and not upon direct apperception.

[Footnote 688: "On the Soul," ch. vi.; "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. i.]

[Footnote 689: "Metaphysics," bk. vi. ch. xiii.]

[Footnote 690: Ibid., bk. vii. ch. iii.]

The points of contrast between the two methods may now be presented in a
few sentences. Plato held that all our cognitions are reducible to two
elements--one derived from _sense_, the other from _pure reason_; one
element particular, contingent, and relative, the other universal,
necessary, and absolute. By an act of _immediate abstraction_ Plato will
eliminate the particular, contingent, and relative phenomena, and
disengage the universal, necessary, and absolute _ideas_ which underlie
and determine all phenomena. These ideas are the thoughts of the Divine
Mind, according to which all particular and individual existences are
generated, and, as divine thoughts, they are real and permanent
existences. Thus by a process of immediate abstraction, he will rise
from particular and contingent phenomena to universal and necessary
principles, and from these to the First Principle of all principles, the
First Cause of all causes--that is, to _God_.

Aristotle, on the contrary, held that all of our knowledge begins with
"the singular," that is, with the particular and the relative, and is
derived from sensation and experience. The "sensible object," taken as
it is without any sifting and probing, is the basis of science, and
reason is simply the architect constructing science according to certain
"forms" or laws inherent in mind. The object, then, of metaphysical
science is to investigate those "universal notions" under which the mind
conceives of and represents to itself external objects, and speculates
concerning them. Aristotle, therefore, agrees with Plato in teaching
"that science can only be a science of universals,"[691] and "that
sensation alone can not furnish us with scientific knowledge."[692] How,
then, does he propose to attain the knowledge of universal principles?
How will he perform that feat which he calls "passing from the known to
the unknown?" The answer is, by _comparative abstraction_. The universal
being constituted by a relation of the object to the thinking subject,
that is, by a property recognized by the intelligence alone, in virtue
of which it can be retained as an object of thought, and compared with
other objects, he proposes to _compare, analyze, define,_ and _classify_
the primary cognitions, and thus evoke into energy, and clearly present
those principles or forms of the intelligence which he denominate
"universals." As yet, however, he has only attained to "general
notions," which are purely subjective, that is, to logical definitions,
and these logical definitions are subsequently elevated to the dignity
of "universal principles and causes" by a species of philosophic
legerdemain. Philosophy is thus stripped of its metaphysical character,
and assumes a strictly _logical_ aspect. The key of the Aristotelian
method is therefore the


Pure Logic is the science of the formal laws of thought. Its office is
to ascertain the rules or conditions under which the mind, by its own
constitution, reasons and discourses. The office of Applied Logic--of
logic as an art--is "to form and judge of conclusions, and, through
conclusions, to establish proof. The conclusions, however, arise from
propositions, and the propositions from conceptions." It is chiefly
under the latter aspect that logic is treated by Aristotle. According to
this natural point of view he has divided the contents of the logical
and dialectic teaching in the different treatises of the _Organon_.

[Footnote 691: "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 692: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. xxxi.]

The first treatise is the "_Categories_" or "Predicaments"--a work which
treats of the universal determinations of Being. It is a classification
of all our mental conceptions. As a matter of fact, the mind forms
notions or conceptions about those natures and essences of things which
present an outward image to the senses, or those, equally real, which
utter themselves to the mind. These may be defined and classified; there
may be general conceptions to which all particular conceptions are
referable. This classification has been attempted by Aristotle, and as
the result we have the ten "Categories" of _Substance, Quantity,
Quality, Relation, Time, Place, Position, Possession, Action, Passion_.
He does not pretend that this classification is complete, but he held
these "Predicaments" to be the most universal expressions for the
various relations of things, under some one of which every thing might
be reduced.

The second treatise, "_On Interpretation_," investigates language as the
expression of thought; and inasmuch as a true or false thought must be
expressed by the union or separation of a subject and a predicate, he
deems it necessary to discuss the parts of speech--the general term and
the verb--and the modes of affirmation and denial. In this treatise he
develops the nature and limitations of propositions, the meaning of
contraries and contradictions, and the force of affirmations and denials
in _possible, contingent_, and _necessary_ matter.

The third are the "_Analytics_," which show how conclusions are to be
referred back to their principles, and arranged in the order of their

The First or Prior Analytic presents the universal doctrine of the
Syllogism, its principles and forms, and teaches how must reason, if we
would not violate the laws of our own mind. The theory of reasoning,
generally, with a view to accurate demonstration, depends upon the
construction of a perfect syllogism, which is defined as "a discourse in
which, certain things being laid down, something else different from the
premises necessarily results, in consequence of their existence."[693]
Conclusions are, according to their own contents and end, either
_Apodeictic_, which deal with necessary and demonstrable matter, or
_Dialectic_, which deal with probable matter, or _Sophistical_, which
are imperfect in matter or form, and announced, deceptively, as correct
conclusions, when they are not. The doctrine of Apodeictic conclusions
is given in the "_Posterior Analytic_," that of Dialectic conclusions in
the "_Topics_," and that of the Sophistical in the "_Sophistical

Now, if Logic is of any value as an instrument for the discovery of
truth, the attainment of certitude, it must teach us not only how to
deduce conclusions from premises, but it must certify to us the validity
of the principles from whence we reason and this is attempted by
Aristotle in the Posterior Analytic. This treatise opens with the
following statement: All doctrine, and all intellectual discipline,
arises from a prior or pre-existent knowledge. This is evident, if we
survey them all; for both mathematical sciences, and also each of the
arts, are obtained in this manner. The same holds true in the case of
reasonings, whether through [deductive] _Syllogism_ or through
_Induction_, for both accomplish the instruction they afford from
information previously known--the former (syllogistic reasoning)
receiving it, as it were, from the traditions of the intelligent, the
latter (inductive reasoning) manifesting the universal through the light
of the singular.[694] Induction and Syllogism are thus the grand
instruments of logic.[695]

[Footnote 693: "Prior Analytic," bk. i. ch. i.; "Topics," bk. i. ch. i.]

[Footnote 694: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. i.]

[Footnote 695: "We believe all things through syllogism, or from
induction."--"Prior Analytic," bk. ii. ch. xxiii.]

Both these processes are based upon an _anterior_ knowledge.
Demonstrative science must be from things true, first, immediate, more
known than, prior to, and the causes of, the conclusion, for thus there
will be the appropriate first principles of whatever is
demonstrated.[696] The first principles of demonstration, the material
of thought, must, consequently, be supplied by some power or faculty of
the mind other than that which is engaged in generalization and
deductive reasoning. Whence, then, is this "anterior knowledge" derived,
and what tests or criteria have we of its validity?

1. In regard to deductive or syllogistic reasoning, the views of
Aristotle are very distinctly expressed.

Syllogistic reasoning "proceeds from generals to particulars."[697] The
general must therefore be supplied as the foundation of the deductive
reasoning. Whence, then, is this knowledge of "the general" derived? The
answer of Aristotle is that the universal major proposition, out of
which the conclusion of the syllogism is drawn, _is itself necessarily
the conclusion of a previous induction, and mediately or immediately an
inference_--a collection from individual objects of sensation or of
self-consciousness. "Now," says he, "demonstration is from universals,
but induction from particulars. It is impossible, however, to
investigate universals except through induction, since things which are
said to be from abstraction will be known only by induction."[698] It is
thus clear that Aristotle makes _deduction necessarily dependent upon
induction_. He maintains that the highest or most universal principles
which constitute the primary and immediate propositions of the former
are furnished by the latter.

[Footnote 696: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 697: Ibid., bk. i. ch. xviii.; "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 698: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. xviii.]

2. General principles being thus furnished by induction, we may now
inquire whence, according to Aristotle, are the materials for induction
derived? What is the character of that "anterior knowledge" which is the
basis of the inductive process?

Induction, says Aristotle, is "the progression from singulars to
universals."[699] It is an illation of the universal from the singular
as legitimated by the laws of thought. All knowledge, therefore, begins
with singulars--that is, with individual objects. And inasmuch as all
knowledge begins with "individual objects," and as the individual is
constantly regarded by Aristotle as the "object of sense," it is claimed
that his doctrine is that all knowledge is derived from _sensation_, and
that science and art result to man (_solely_) by means of _experience._
He is thus placed at the head of the empirical school of philosophy, as
Plato is placed at the head of the ideal school.

[Footnote 699: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. xviii.]

This classification, however, is based upon a very superficial
acquaintance with the philosophy of Aristotle as a whole. The practice,
so commonly resorted to, of determining the character of the
Aristotelian philosophy by the light of one or two passages quoted from
his "Metaphysics," is unjust both to Aristotle and to the history of
philosophic thought. We can not expect to attain a correct understanding
of the views of Aristotle concerning the sources and grounds of all
knowledge without some attention to his psychology. A careful study of
his writings will show that the terms "sensation" (αὶσθησις) and
"experience" (ἐμπειρία) are employed in a much more comprehensive sense
than is usual in modern philosophic writings.

"Sensation," in its lowest form, is defined by Aristotle as "an
excitation of the soul through the body,"[700] and, in its higher form,
as the excitation of the soul by any object of knowledge. In this latter
form it is used by him as synonymous with "intuition," and embraces all
immediate intuitive perceptions, whether of sense, consciousness, or
reason. "The universe is derived from particulars, therefore we ought to
have a sensible perception (αὶσθησις) of these; and this is intellect
(νοῦς)."[701] Intelligence proper, the faculty of first principles, is,
in certain respects, a sense, because it is the source of a class of
truths which, like the perceptions of the senses, are immediately
revealed as facts to be received upon their own evidence. It thus
answers to the "sensus communis" of Cicero, and the "Common Sense" of
the Scottish school. Under this aspect, "Sense is equal to or has the
force of Science."[702] The term "Experience" is also used to denote,
not merely the perception and remembrance of the impressions which
external objects make upon the mind, but as co-extensive with the whole
contents of consciousness--all that the mind _does_ of its own native
energy, as well as all that it _suffers_ from without. It is evidently
used in the Posterior Analytic (bk. ii. ch. xix.) to describe the whole
process by which the knowledge of universals is obtained. "From
experience, or from every universal remaining in the soul, the
principles of art and science arise." The office of experience is "to
furnish the principles of every science"[703]--that is, to evoke them
into energy in the mind. 'Experience thus seems to be a thing almost
similar to science and art.[704] In the most general sense, "sensation"
would thus appear to be the immediate perception or intuition of facts
and principles, and "experience" the operation of the mind upon these
facts and principles, elaborating them into scientific form according to
its own inherent laws. The "experience" of Aristotle is analogous to the
"reflection" of Locke.

[Footnote 700: "De Somn.," bk. i.]

[Footnote 701: "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. xi.; see also ch. vi.]

[Footnote 702: "De Cen. Anim."]

[Footnote 703: "Prior Analytic," bk. i. ch. xix.]

[Footnote 704: "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. i.]

So much being premised, we proceed to remark that there is a distinction
perpetually recurring in the writings of Aristotle between the elements
or first principles of knowledge which are "clearest in their own
nature" and those which "are clearest to our perception."[705] The
causes or principles of knowledge "are _prior_ and _more known_ to us in
two ways, for what is prior in nature is not the same as that which is
prior to us, nor that which is more known (simply in itself) the same as
that which is more known to us. Now I call things prior and more known
to us, those which are _nearer to sense_; and things prior and more
known simply in themselves, those which are _remote from sense_; and
those things are most remote which are especially _universal_, and those
nearest which are _singular_; and these are mutually opposed."[706] Here
we have a distribution of the first or prior elements of knowledge into
two fundamentally opposite classes.

(i.) _The immediate or intuitive perceptions of sense,_

(ii.) _The immediate or intuitive apperceptions of pure reason,_

[Footnote 705: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. iv.; "Metaphysics," bk. ii. ch. i.;
"Rhetoric," bk. i. ch. ii.; "Prior Analytic," bk. ii. ch. xxiii.]

[Footnote 706: "Post. Analytic," bk. i. ch. ii.]

The objects of sense-perception are external, individual, "nearest to
sense," and occasionally or contingently present to sense. The objects
of the intellect are inward, universal, and the essential property of
the soul. They are "remote from sense," "prior by nature;" they are
"forms" essentially inherent in the soul previous to experience; and it
is the office of experience to bring them forward into the light of
consciousness, or, in the language of Aristotle, "to evoke them from
potentiality into actuality." And further, from the "prior" and
immediate intuitions of sense and intellect, all our secondary, our
scientific and practical knowledge is drawn by logical processes.

The Aristotelian distribution of the intellectual faculties corresponds
fully to this division of the objects of knowledge. The human intellect
is divided by Aristotle into,

1. The Passive or Receptive Intellect (νοῦς παφητικός).--Its office is
the reception of sensible impressions or images (Φαντάσματα) and their
retention in the mind (μνήμη). These sensible forms or images are
essentially immaterial. "Each sensoriurn (αἰσθητήρων) is receptive of
the sensible quality _without the matter_, and hence when the sensibles
themselves are absent, sensations and φαντασίκός remain."[707]

[Footnote 707: "De Anima," bk. iii. ch. ii.]

2. The Active or Creative Intellect (νοῦς ποιητικός).--This is the power
or faculty which, by its own inherent power, impresses "form" upon the
material of thought supplied by sense-perception, exactly as the First
Cause combines it, in the universe, with the recipient matter.

"It is necessary," says Aristotle, "that these two modes should be
opposed to each other, as matter is opposed to form, and to all that
gives form. The receptive reason, which is as matter, becomes all things
by receiving their forms. The creative reason gives existence to all
things, as light calls color into being. The creative reason transcends
the body, being capable of separation from it, and from all things; it
is an everlasting existence, incapable of being mingled with matter, or
affected by it; prior, and subsequent to the individual mind. The
receptive reason is necessary to individual thought, but it is
perishable, and by its decay all memory, and therefore individuality, is
lost to the higher and immortal reason."[708]

This "Active or Creative Intellect" is again further subdivided, by

1. The _Scientific_ (έπιστημονικον) part--the "virtue," faculty, or
"habit of principles." He also designates it as the "place of
principles," and further defines it as the power "which apprehends those
existences whose principles can not be otherwise than they are"--that
is, self-evident, immutable, and necessary truths[709]--the _intuitive

2. The _Reasoning_ (λογιστικόν) part--the power by which we draw
conclusions from premises, and "contemplate contingent matter"[710]--the
_discursive reason_.

The correlatives _noetic_ and _dianoetic_, says Hamilton, would afford
the best philosophic designation of these two faculties; the knowledge
attained by the former is an "intuitive principle"--a truth at first
hand; that obtained by the latter is a "demonstrative proposition"--a
truth at second hand.

The preceding notices of the psychology of Aristotle will aid us
materially in interpreting his remarks "_Upon the Method and Habits
necessary to the ascertainment of Principles_."[711]

[Footnote 708: "De Anima," bk. iii. ch. v.]

[Footnote 709: "Ethics," bk. vi. ch. i.]

[Footnote 710: Ibid.]

[Footnote 711: "Post. Analytic," bk. ii, ch. xix., the concluding
chapter of the Organon.]

"That it is impossible to have scientific knowledge through
demonstration without a knowledge of first immediate principles, has
been elucidated before." This being established, he proceeds to explain
how that "knowledge of first, immediate principles" is developed in the

1. The knowledge of first principles is attained by the _intuition of
sense_--the immediate perception of external objects, as the _exciting_
or _occasional cause_ of their development in the mind.

"Now there appears inherent in all animals an innate power called
_sensible perception_ (αἴσθησις); but sense being inherent, in some
animals a permanency of the sensible object is engendered, but in others
it is not engendered. Those, therefore, wherein the sensible object does
not remain have no knowledge without sensible perception, but others,
when they perceive, retain one certain thing in the soul,... with some,
_reason_ is produced from the permanency (of the sensible impression),
[as in man], but in others it is not [as in the brute]. From sense,
therefore, as we say, memory is produced, and from the repeated
remembrance of the same thing we get experience.... From experience, or
_from every universal remaining in the soul_--the one besides the many
which in all of them is _one_ and the _same_--the principles of art and
science arise. If experience is conversant with generation, the
principles of art; if with being, the principles of science.... Let us
again explain: When one thing without difference abides, there is then
the first universal (notion) [developed] in the soul; for the singular
indeed is perceived by sense, _but sense is [also] of the
universal_"--that is, the universal is immanent in the sensible object
as a property giving it "form." "It is manifest, then, that primary
things become necessarily known by induction, for thus sensible
perception produces [develops or evokes] the _universal_." 2. The
knowledge of first principles is attained by the _intuition of pure
intellect_ (νοῦς)--that is, "_intellect itself is the principle of
science_" or, in other words, intellect is the _efficient, essential
cause_ of the knowledge of first principles.

"Of those habits which are about intellect by which we ascertain truth,
_some[712] are always true_, but others[713] admit the false, as opinion
and reasoning. But science and (pure) intellect are always true, and no
other kind of knowledge, except intellect [intellectual intuition], is
more accurate than science. And since the principles of demonstration
are more known, and all science is connected with reason, there could
not be a science of principles. But since nothing can be more true than
science, except intellect, intellect will belong to principles. From
these [considerations] it is evident that, as demonstration is not the
principle of demonstration, so neither is science the principle of
science. If, then, we have no other true genus (of habit) besides
science, _intellect will be the principle of science_; it will also be
the principle (or cause of the knowledge) of the principle."

[Footnote 712: The "noetic."]

[Footnote 713: The "dianætic."]

The doctrine of Aristotle regarding "first principles" may perhaps be
summed up as follows: All demonstrative science is based upon
_universals_ "prior in nature"--that is, upon _à priori_, self-evident,
necessary, and immutable principles. Our knowledge of these "first and
immediate principles" is dependent primarily on _intellect_ (νοῦς) or
intuitive reason, and secondarily on sense, experience, and induction.
Prior to experience, the intellect contains these principles in itself
potentially, as "forms," "laws," "habitudes," or "predicaments" of
thought; but they can not be "evoked into energy," can not be revealed
in consciousness, except on condition of experience, and they can only
be scientifically developed by logical abstraction and definition. The
ultimate ground of all truth and certainty is thus a mode of our own
mind, a subjective necessity of thinking, and truth is not in things,
but in our own minds.[714] "Ultimate knowledge, as well as primary
knowledge, the most perfect knowledge which the philosopher can attain,
as well as the point from which he starts, is still a proposition. All
knowledge seems to be included under two forms--knowledge _that_ it is
so; knowledge _why_ it is so. Neither of these can, of course, include
the knowledge at which Plato is aiming--knowledge which is correlated
with Being--a knowledge, not _about_ things or persons, but _of_

[Footnote 714: "Metaphysics," bk. v. ch. iv.]

[Footnote 715: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 190.]


Theoretical philosophy, "the science which has truth for its end," is
divided by Aristotle into Physics, Mathematics, and Theology, or the
First Philosophy, now commonly known as "Metaphysics," because it is
beyond or above physics, and is concerned with the primitive ground and
cause of all things.[716]

In the former two we have now no immediate interest, but with Theology,
as "the science of the Divine,"[717] the _First Moving Cause_, which is
the source of all other causes, and the original ground of all other
things, we are specially concerned, inasmuch as our object is to
determine, if possible, whether Greek philosophy exerted any influence
upon Christian thought, and has bequeathed any valuable results to the
Theology of modern times.

"The Metaphysics" of Aristotle opens by an enumeration of "the
principles or causes"[718] into which all existences can be resolved by
philosophical analysis. This enumeration is at present to be regarded as
provisional, and in part hypothetical--a verbal generalization of the
different principles which seem to be demanded to explain the existence
of a thing, or constitute it what it is. These he sets down as--

[Footnote 716: "Physics are concerned with things which have a principle
of motion in themselves; mathematics speculate on permanent, but not
transcendental and self-existent things; and there is another science
separate from these two, which treats of that which is immutable and
transcendental, if indeed there exists such a substance, as we shall
endeavor to show that there does. This transcendental and permanent
substance, if it exist at all, must surely be the sphere of the
_divine_--it must be the first and highest principle. Hence it follows
that there are three kinds of speculative science--Physics, Mathematics,
and Theology."--"Metaphysics," bk. x. ch. vii.]

[Footnote 717: "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 718: Αἴτιον--cause--is here used by Aristotle in the sense of
"account of" or "reason why."]

1. The Material Cause (τὴν ὕλην καὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον)--the matter and
subject--that _out of_ which a given thing has been originated. "From
the analogy which this principle has to wood or stone, or any actual
matter out of which a work of nature or of art is produced, the name
'material' is assigned to this class." It does not always necessarily
mean "matter" in the now common use of the term, but "antecedents--that
is, principles whose inherence and priority is implied in any existing
thing, as, for example, the premises of a syllogism, which are the
material cause of the conclusion."[719] With Aristotle there is,
therefore, "matter as an object of sense," and "matter as an object of

2. The Formal Cause (τὴν οὐσίαν καὶ τό τι εἶναι)--the being or abstract
essence of a thing--that primary nature on which all its properties
depend. To this Aristotle gave the name of εἶδος--the form or exemplar
_according to_ which a thing is produced.

3. The Moving or Efficient Cause (ὃθεν ἦ ἆρχη τῆς κινήσεως)--the origin
and principle of motion--that _by which_ a thing is produced.

4. The Final Cause (τὸ οὗ ἕνεκεν καὶ τὸ ἀγαθόν)--the good end answered
by the existence of any thing--that for the sake of which_ any thing is
produced--the ἕνεκα τοῦ, or reason for it.[720] Thus, for instance, in a
house, the wood out of which it is produced is the _matter (ὕλη), the
idea or conception according to which it is produced is _the form_
(εἶδος῏῏μορφή), the builder who erects the house is the _efficient_
cause, and the reason for its production, or the end of its existence is
the _final_ cause.

[Footnote 719: Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Aristotle;" "Post.
Analytic," bk. ii. ch. xi.]

[Footnote 720: "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iii.]

Causes are, therefore, the elements into which the mind resolves its
first rough conception of an object. That object is what it is, by
reason of the matter out of which it sprang, the moving cause which gave
it birth, the idea or form which it realizes, and the end or object
which it attains. The knowledge of a thing implies knowing it from these
four points of view--that is, knowing its four causes or principles.

These four determinations of being are, on a further and closer
analysis, resolved into the fundamental antithesis of MATTER and FORM.

"All things that are produced," says Aristotle,[721] "are produced from
something (that is, from _matter_), by something (that is, _form_), and
become something (the totality--τὸ σύνολον);" as, for example, a statue,
a plant, a man. To every subject there belongs, therefore, first,
_matter_ (ὕλη); secondly, _form_ (μορφή). The synthesis of these two
produces and constitutes _substance_, or οὐσία. Matter and form are thus
the two grand causes or principles whence proceed all things. The
formative cause is, at the same time, the moving cause and the final
cause; for it is evidently the element of determination which impresses
movement upon matter whilst determining it; and it is also the end of
being, since being only really exists when it has passed from an
indeterminate to a determinate state.

[Footnote 721: "Metaphysics," bk. vi. ch. vii.]

In proof that the εἶδος or form is an _efficient_ principle operating in
every object, which makes it, to our conception, what it is, Aristotle
brings forward the subject of generation or production.[722] There are
three modes of production--natural, artificial, and automatic. In
natural production we discern at once a matter; indeed Nature, in the
largest sense, may be defined as "that out of which things are
produced." Now the result formed out of this matter or nature is a given
substance--a vegetable, a beast, or a man. But what is the _producing_
cause in each case? Clearly something akin to the result. A man
generates a man, a plant produces another plant like to itself. There
is, therefore, implied in the resulting thing a _productive force_
distinct from matter, upon which it works. And this is the εἶδος, or
form. Let us now consider artificial production. Here again the form is
the producing power. And this is in the soul. The art of the physician
is the εἶδος, which produces actual health; the plan of the architect is
the conception, which produces an actual house. Here, however, a
distinction arises. In these artificial productions there is supposed a
νόησις and a ποίησις. The νόησις is the previous conception which the
architect forms in his own mind; the ποίησις is the actual creation of
the house out of the given matter. In this case the conception is the
moving cause of the production. The form of the statue in the mind of
the artist is the motive or cause of the movement by which the statue is
produced; and health must be in the thought of the physician before it
can become the moving cause of the healing art. Moreover, that which is
true of artificial production or change is also true of spontaneous
production. For example, a cure may take place by the application of
warmth, and this result is accomplished by means of friction. This
warmth in the body is either itself a portion of health, or something is
consequent upon it which is like itself, which is a portion of health.
Evidently this implies the previous presence either of nature or of an
artificer. It is also clearly evident that this kind of generating
influence (the automatic) should combine with another. There must be a
productive power, and there must be something out of which it is
produced. In this case, then, there will be a ὕλη and an εἶδος.[723]

[Footnote 722: Ibid.]

[Footnote 723: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," pp. 205, 206.]

From the above it appears that the _efficient_ cause is regarded by
Aristotle as identical with the _formal_ cause. So also the _final_
cause--the end for the sake of which any thing exists--can hardly be
separated from the perfection of that thing, that is, from its
conception or form. The desire for the end gives the first impulse of
motion; thus the final cause of any thing becomes identical with the
good of that thing. "The moving cause of the house is the builder, but
the moving cause of the builder is the end to be attained--that is, the
house." From such examples as these it would seem that the
determinations of form and end are considered by Aristotle as one, in so
far as both are merged in the conception of _actuality_; for he regarded
the end of every thing to be its completed being--the perfect
realization of its idea or form. The only fundamental determinations,
therefore, which can not be wholly resolved into each other are _matter
and form_.[724]

[Footnote 724: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," pp. 120, 123.]

The opposition of matter and form, with Aristotle, corresponds to the
opposition between the element of _generality_ and the element of
_particularity_. Matter is indeterminate; form is determinate. Matter,
abstracted from form, in thought, is entirely without predicate and
distinction; form is that which enters into the definition of every
subject, and without which it could not be defined. Matter is capable of
the widest diversity of forms, but is itself without form. Pure form is,
in fact, that which is without matter, or, in other words, it is the
pure conception of being. Matter is the necessary condition of the
existence of a thing; form is the essence of each thing, that in virtue
of which substance is possible, and without which it is inconceivable.
On the one side is passivity, possibility of existence, capacity of
action; on the other side is activity, actuality, thought. The unity of
these two in the realm of determined being constitutes every individual
substance. The relation of matter and form, logically apprehended, is
thus the relation of POTENTIALITY and ACTUALITY.

This is a further and indeed a most important step in the Aristotelian
theology. Matter, as we have seen, after all, amounts to merely capacity
for action, and if we can not discover some productive power to develop
potentiality into actuality, we look in vain for some explanation of the
phenomena around us. The discovery, however, of energy (ἐνέργεια), as a
principle of this description, is precisely what we wanted, and a
momentary glance at the actual phenomena will show its perfect identity
with the εἶδος, or form.[725] "For instance, what is a calm? It is
evenness in the surface of the sea. Here the sea is the subject, that
is, the matter in _capacity_, but the evenness is the _energy_ or
actuality;... energy is thus as form."[726] The form (or idea) is thus
an energy or actuality (ἐνέργεια); the matter is a capacity or
potentiality (δύναμις), requiring the co-operation of the energy to
produce a result.

These terms, which are first employed by Aristotle in their
philosophical signification, are characteristic of his whole system. It
is, therefore, important we should grasp their precise philosophical
import; and this can only be done by considering them in the strictest
relation to each other. It is in this relation they are defined by
Aristotle. "Now ἐνέργεια is the existence of a thing not in the sense of
its potentially existing. The term _potentially_ we use, for instance,
of the statue in the block, and of the half in the whole (since it may
be subtracted), and of a person knowing a thing, even when he is not
thinking of it, but might be so; whereas ἐνέργεια is the opposite. By
applying the various instances our meaning will be plain, and one must
not seek a definition in each case, but rather grasp the conception of
the analogy as a whole,--that it is as that which builds to that which
has a capacity for building; as the waking to the sleeping; as that
which sees to that which has sight, but whose eyes are closed; as the
definite form to the shapeless matter; as the complete to the
unaccomplished. In this contrast, let the ἐνέργεια be set off as forming
the one side, and on the other let the potential stand. Things are said
to be in ἐνέργεια not always in like manner (except so far as there is
an analogy, that as this thing is in this, and related to this, so is
that in that, or related to that); for sometimes it implies _motion_ as
opposed to the _capacity of motion_, and sometimes _complete existence_
opposed to _undeveloped matter_".[727] As the term δύναμις has the
double meaning of "_possibility of existence_" as well as "_capacity of
action_" so there is the double contrast of "_action_" as opposed to the
capacity of action; and "_actual existence_" opposed to possible
existence or potentiality. To express accurately this latter antithesis,
Aristotle introduced the term ἐντελέχεια[728]--entelechy, of which the
most natural account is that it is a compound of ἐν τέλει ἔχειν--"being
in a state of perfection."[729] This term, however, rarely occurs in the
"Metaphysics," whilst ἐνέργεια is everywhere employed, not only to
express activity as opposed to passivity, but complete existence as
opposed to undeveloped matter.

[Footnote 725: "That which Aristotle calls 'form' is not to be
confounded with what we may perhaps call shape [or figure]; a hand
severed from the arm, for instance, has still the outward shape of a
hand, but, according to Aristotelian apprehension, it is only a hand now
as to matter, and not as to form; an actual hand, a hand as to form, is
only that which can do the proper work of a hand."--Schwegler's "History
of Philosophy," p. 122.]

[Footnote 726: "Metaphysics," bk. vii. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 727: "Metaphysics," bk. viii. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 728: "Entelechy indicates the perfected act, the completely

[Footnote 729: Grant's Aristotle's "Ethics," vol. i. p. 184.]

"In Physics δύναμις answers to the necessary conditions for the
existence of any thing before that thing exists. It thus corresponds to
ὕλη, both to the πρώτη ὕλη--the first matter, or matter devoid of all
qualities, which is capable of becoming any definite substance, as, for
example, marble; and also to the ἐσχάτη ὕλη--or matter capable of
receiving form, as marble the form of the statue." Marble then exists
potentially in the simple elements before it is marble. The statue
exists potentially in the marble before it is carved. All objects of
thought exist, either purely in potentiality, or purely in actuality, or
both in potentiality and in actuality. This division makes an entire
chain of all existence. At the one end is matter, the πρώτη ὕλη which
has a merely potential existence, which is necessary as a condition, but
which having no form and no qualities, is totally incapable of being
realized by the mind. At the other end of the chain is pure form, which
is not at all matter, the absolute and the unconditioned, the eternal
substance and energy without matter (οὐσία ἀίδιος καὶ ἐνέργεια ἄνευ
δυνάμεως), who can not be thought as non-existing--the self-existent
God. Between these two extremes is the whole row of creatures, which out
of potentiality evermore spring into actual being.[730]

[Footnote 730: Id., ib., vol. i. p. 185.]

The relation of actuality to potentiality is the subject of an extended
and elaborate discussion in book viii., the general results of which may
be summed up in the following propositions:

1. _The relation of Actuality to Potentiality is as the Perfect to the
Imperfect_.--The progress from potentiality to actuality is motion or
production (κίνησις or γένεσις). But this motion is transitional, and in
itself imperfect--it tends towards an end, but does not include the end
in itself. But actuality, if it implies motion, has an end in itself and
for itself; it is a motion desirable for its own sake.[731] The relation
of the potential to the actual Aristotle exhibits by the relation of the
unfinished to the finished work, of the unemployed builder to the one at
work upon his building, of the seed-corn to the tree, of the man who has
the capacity to think, to the man actually engaged in thought.[732]
Potentially the seed-corn is the tree, but the grown-up tree is the
actuality; the potential philosopher is he who is not at this moment in
a philosophic condition; indeed, every thing is potential which
possesses a principle of development, or of change. Actuality or
entelechy, on the other hand, indicates the _perfect act_, the end
gained, the completed actual; that activity in which the act and the
completeness of the act fall together--as, for example, to see, to
think, where the acting and the completed act are one and the same.

2. _The Relation of Actuality to Potentiality is a causal Relation_.--A
thing which is endued with a simple capacity of being may nevertheless
not actually exist, and a thing may have a capacity of being and really
exist. Since this is the case, there must ensue between non-being and
real being some such principle as _energy_, in order to account for the
transition or change.[733] Energy has here some analogy to motion,
though it must not be confounded with motion. Now you can not predicate
either motion or energy of things which are not. The moment energy is
added to them they are. This transition from potentiality to actuality
must be through the medium of such principles as propension or _free
will_, because propension or free will possess in themselves the power
of originating motion in other things.[734]

[Footnote 731: "Metaphysics," bk. viii. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 732: Ibid., bk. viii. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 733: Ibid., bk. viii. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 734: Ibid., bk. viii. ch. v.]

3. _The Relation of Actuality and Potentiality is a Relation of
Priority_.--Actuality, says Aristotle, is prior to potentiality in the
order of reason, in the order of substance, and also (though not
invariably) in the order of time. The first of all capacities is a
capacity of energizing or assuming a state of activity; for example, a
man who has the capacity of building is one who is skilled in building,
and thus able to use his energy in the art of building.[735] The primary
energizing power must precede that which receives the impression of it,
Form being older than Matter. But if you take the case of any particular
person or thing, we say that its capacity of being that particular
person or thing precedes its being so actually. Yet, though this is the
case in each particular thing, there is always a foregone energy
presumed in some other thing (as a prior seed, plant, man) to which it
owes its existence. One pregnant thought presents itself in the course
of the discussion which has a direct bearing upon our subject. [Greek:
Δὑναμιϛ] has been previously defined as "a principle of motion or change
in another thing in so far forth as it is another thing"[736]--that is,
it is fitted by nature to have motion imparted to it, and to communicate
motion to something else. But this motion wants a resting-place. There
can be no infinite regression of causes. There is some primary [Greek:
δύναμιϛ] presupposed in all others, which is the beginning of change.
This is [Greek: Φύσις], or nature. But the first and original cause of
all motion and change still precedes and surpasses nature. The final
cause of all potentiality is energy or _actuality_. The one proposed is
prior to the means through which the end is accomplished. A process of
actualization, a tendency towards completeness or perfection ([Greek:
τέλοϛ]) presupposes an absolute actuality which is at once its beginning
and end. "One energy is invariably antecedent to another in time, up to
that which is primarily and eternally the Moving Cause."[737]

[Footnote 735: "Metaphysics," bk. viii. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 736: Ibid., bk. iv. ch. xii.]

[Footnote 737: Ibid., bk. viii. ch. viii.]

And now having laid down these fundamental principles of metaphysical
science, as preparatory to Theology, Aristotle proceeds to establish the
conception of the Absolute or Divine Spirit _as the eternal, immutable
Substance, the immaterial Energy, the unchangeable Form of Forms, the
first moving Cause_.

I. _The Ontological Form of Proof_.--It is necessary to conceive an
eternal and immutable substance--an actuality which is absolute and
prior, both logically and chronologically, to all potentiality; for that
which is potential is simply contingent, it may just as easily not be as
be; that which exists only in capacity is temporal and corruptible, and
may cease to be. Matter we know subsists merely in capacity and
passivity, and without the operation of Energy,(ἐνέργεια), or the
formative cause, would be to us as non-entity. The phenomena of the
world exhibits to us the presence of Energy, and energy presupposes the
existence of an eternal substance. Furthermore, matter and potentiality
are convertible terms, therefore the primal Energy or Actuality must be

2. _The Cosmological Form of Proof_.--It is impossible that there should
be _motion_, genesis, or a chain of causes, except on the assumption of
a first Moving Cause, since that which exists only in capacity can not,
of itself energize, and consequently without a principle of motion which
is essentially active, we have only a principle of immobility. The
principle "ex nihilo nihil" forbids us to assume that motion can arise
out of immobility, being out of non-being. "How can matter be put in
motion if nothing that subsists in energy exist, and is its cause?" All
becoming, therefore, necessarily supposes that which has not become,
that which is eternally self-active as the principle and cause of all
motion. There is no refuge from the notion that all things are "born of
night and nothingness" except in this belief.[739]

[Footnote 738: "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. vi.]

[Footnote 739: Ibid., bk. xi. ch. vii., viii.]

The existence of an eternal principle subsisting in energy is also
demanded to explain the _order_ of the world. "For how, let me ask, will
there prevail _order_ on the supposition that there is no subsistence of
that which is eternal, and which involves a separable existence, and is
permanent."[740] "All things in nature are constituted in the best
possible manner."[741] All things strive after "the good." "The
appearance of ends and means in nature is a proof of design."[742] Now
an end or final cause presupposes intelligence,--implies a _mind_ to see
and desire it. That which is "fair," "beautiful," "good," an "object of
desire," can only be perceived by Mind. The "final cause" must therefore
subsist in that which is prior and immovable and eternal; and _Mind_ is
"that substance which subsists absolutely, and according to
energy."[743] "The First Mover of all things, moves all things without
being moved, being an eternal substance and energy; and he moves all
things as the object of reason and of desire, or love."[744]

[Footnote 740: Ibid., bk. x. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 741: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. ix.]

[Footnote 742: "Nat. Ausc.," bk. ii. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 743: "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. vii.]

[Footnote 744: Ibid.]

3. _The Moral Form of Proof_.--So far as the relation of potentiality
and actuality is identical with the relation of matter and form, the
argument for the existence of God may be thus presented: The conception
of an absolute matter without form, involves the supposition of an
absolute form without matter. And since the conception of form resolves
itself into _motion_, _conception_, _purpose_ or _end_, so the Eternal
One is the absolute principle of motion (the πρῶτον κινοῦν), the
absolute conception or pure intelligence (the pure τί ἦν εἶναι), and the
absolute ground, reason, or end of all being. All the other predicates
of the First Cause follow from the above principles with logical

(i.) _He is, of course, pure intellect_, because he is absolutely
immaterial and free from nature. He is active intelligence, because his
essence is pure actuality. He is self-contemplating and self-conscious
intelligence, because the divine thought can not attain its actuality in
any thing extrinsic; it would depend on something else than self--some
potential existence for its actualization. Hence the famous definition
of the absolute as "the thought of thought" (νόησις νοήσεως).[745] "And
therefore the first and actual perception by mind of Mind itself, doth
subsist in this way throughout all eternity."[746]

[Footnote 745: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," p. 125.]

[Footnote 746: "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. ix.]

(ii.) _He is also essential life_. "The principle of life is inherent in
the Deity, for the energy or active exercise of mind constitutes life,
and God constitutes this energy; and essential energy belongs to God as
his best and everlasting life. Now our statement is this--that the Deity
is a living being that is everlasting and most excellent in nature, so
that with the Deity life and duration are uninterrupted and eternal; for
this constitutes the essence of God."[747]

(iii.) _Unity belongs to him_, since multiplicity implies matter; and
the highest idea or form of the world must be absolutely
immaterial.[748] The Divine nature is "devoid of parts and indivisible,
for magnitude can not in any way involve this Divine nature; for God
imparts motion through infinite duration, and nothing finite--as
magnitude is--can be possessed of an infinite capacity."[749]

(iv.) _He is immovable and ever abideth the same_; since otherwise he
could not be the absolute mover, and the cause of all becoming, if he
were subject to change.[750] God is impassive and unalterable ([Greek:
ἀπαθὴϛ καὶ ὰναλλοίωτον]); for all such notions as are involved in
passion or alteration are outside the sphere of the Divine

[Footnote 747: "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. vii.]

[Footnote 748: Ibid.]

[Footnote 749: Ibid.]

[Footnote 750: Ibid., bk. xi. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 751: Ibid., bk. xi. ch. vii.]

(v.) _He is the ever-blessed God_.--"The life of God is of a kind with
those highest moods which, with us, last a brief space, it being
impossible they should be permanent; whereas, with Him they are
permanent, since His ever-present consciousness is pleasure itself. And
it is because they are vivid states of consciousness, that waking, and
perception, and thought, are the sweetest of all things. Now essential
perception is the perception of that which is most excellent,... and the
mind perceives itself by participating of its own object of perception;
but it is a sort of coalescence of both that, in the Divine Mind,
creates a regular identity between the two, so that with God both (the
thinker and the thought, the subject and object) are the same. In
possession of this prerogative, He subsists in the exercise of energy;
and the contemplation of his own perfections is what, to God, must be
most agreeable and excellent. This condition of existence, after so
excellent a manner, is what is "so astonishing to us when we examine
God's nature, and the more we do so the more wonderful that nature
appears to us. The mood of the Divine existence is essential energy,
and, as such, it is a life that is most excellent, blessed, and

[Footnote 752: "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. vii.]

The theology of Aristotle may be summed up in the following sentences
selected from book xi. of his "Metaphysics:"

"This motionless cause of motion is a necessary being; and, by virtue of
such necessity, is the all-perfect being. This all-pervading principle
penetrates heaven and all nature. It eternally possesses perfect
happiness; and its happiness is in action. This primal mover is
immaterial; for its essence is in energy. It is pure thought--thought
thinking itself--the thought of thought. The activity of pure
intelligence--such is the perfect, eternal life of God. This primal
cause of change, this absolute perfection, moves the world by the
universal desire for the absolute good, by the attraction exercised upon
it by the Eternal Mind--the serene energy of Divine Intelligence."

It can not be denied that, so far as it goes, this conception of the
Deity is admirable, worthy, and just. Viewed from a Christian
stand-point, we at once concede that it is essentially defective. There
is no clear and distinct recognition of God as Creator and Governor of
the universe; he is chiefly regarded as the Life of the universe--the
Intellect, the Energy--that which gives excellence, and perfection, and
gladness to the whole system of things. The Theology of Aristotle is, in
fact, metaphysical rather than practical. He does not contemplate the
Deity as a moral Governor. Whilst Plato speaks of "being made like God
through becoming just and holy," Aristotle asserts that "all moral
virtues are totally unworthy of being ascribed to God."[753] He is not
the God of providence. He dwells alone, supremely indifferent to human
cares, and interests, and sorrows. He takes no cognizance of individual
men, and holds no intercourse with man. The God of Aristotle is not a
being that meets and satisfies the wants of the human heart, however
well it may meet the demands of the reason.

[Footnote 753: "Ethics," bk. x. ch. viii.]

Morality has no basis in the Divine nature, no eternal type in the
perfections and government of God, and no supports and aids from above.
The theology of Aristotle foreshadows the character of the


We do not find in Aristotle any distinct recognition of an eternal and
immutable morality, an absolute right, which has its foundation in the
nature of God. Plato had taught that there was "an absolute Good, above
and beyond all existence in dignity and power;" which is, in fact, "the
cause of all existence and all knowledge," and which is God; that all
other things are good in proportion as they "partake of this absolute
Good;" and that all men are so far good as they "resemble God." But with
this position Aristotle joins issue. After stating the doctrine of Plato
in the following words--"Some have thought that, besides all these
manifold goods upon earth, there is some _absolute good_, which is the
cause to all these of their being good"--he proceeds to criticise that
idea, and concludes his argument by saying--"we must dismiss the idea at
present, for if there is any one good, universal and generic, or
transcendental and absolute, it obviously can never be realized nor
possessed by man; whereas something of this latter kind is what we are
inquiring after." He follows up these remarks by saying that "Perhaps
the knowledge of the idea may be regarded by some as useful, as a
pattern (παράδειγμα) by which to judge of relative good." Against this
he argues that "There is no trace of the arts making use of any such
conception; the cobbler, the carpenter, the physician, and the general,
all pursue their vocations without respect to the _absolute good_, nor
is it easy to see how they would be benefited by apprehending it."[754]
The good after which Aristotle would inquire is, therefore, a _relative
good_, since the knowledge of the absolute good can not possibly be

[Footnote 754: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. vi.]

Instead, therefore, of seeking to attain to "a transcendental and
absolute good "--a fundamental idea of right, which may be useful as a
paradigm by which we may judge of relative good, he addresses himself
solely to the question, "what is good for man"--what is the good
attainable in action? And having identified the Chief Good with the
final and perfect end of all action, the great question of the _Ethics_
is, "_What is the end of human action?_" (τί ἐστι τὸ τῶν πρακτῶν

[Footnote 755: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. xiii.]

Now an end or final cause implies an intelligence--implies a mind to
perceive and desire it. This is distinctly recognized by Aristotle. The
question, therefore, naturally arises--is that end fixed for man by a
higher intelligence, and does it exist for man both as an idea and as an
ideal? Can man, first, intellectually apprehend the idea, and then
consciously strive after its realization? Is it the duty of man to aim
at fulfilling the purposes of his Creator? To this it may be answered
that Aristotle is not at all explicit as to God's moral government of
the world. "Moral government," in the now common acceptation of the
term, has no place in the system of Aristotle, and the idea of "duty" is
scarcely recognized. He considers "the good" chiefly in relation to the
constitution and natural condition of man. "_It is_" says he, "_the end
towards which nature tends_." As physical things strive unconsciously
after the end of their existence, so man strives after the good
attainable in life. Socrates had identified virtue and knowledge, he had
taught that "virtue is a Science." Aristotle contended that virtue is an
art, like music and architecture, which must be attained by exercise. It
is not purely intellectual, it is the bloom of the physical, which has
become ethical. As the flower of the field, obeying the laws of its
organization, springs up, blooms, and attains its own peculiar
perfection, so there is an instinctive desire (ὄρεξις) in the soul which
at first unconsciously yearns after the good, and subsequently the good
is sought with full moral intent and insight. Aristotle assumes that the
desires or instincts of man are so framed as to imply the existence of
this end (τέλος).[756] And he asserts that man can only realize it in
the sphere of his own proper functions, and in accordance with the laws
of his own proper nature and its harmonious development.[757] It is not,
then, through instruction, or through the perfection of knowledge, that
man is to attain the good, but through exercise and habit (ἔθος). By
practice of moral acts we become virtuous, just as by practice of
building and of music, we become architects and musicians; for the
habit, which is the ground of moral character, is only a fruit of
oft-repeated moral acts. Hence it is by these three things--nature,
habit, reason--that men become good.

[Footnote 756: Ibid, bk. i. ch. ii.]

[Footnote 757: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. vii.]

Aristotle's question, therefore, is, _What is the chief good for man as
man_? not what is his chief good as a spiritual and an immortal being?
or what is his chief good as a being related to and dependent upon God?
And the conclusion at which he arrives is, that it is _the absolute
satisfaction of our whole nature_--that which men are agreed in calling
_happiness_. This happiness, however, is not mere sensual pleasure. The
brute shares this in common with man, therefore it can not constitute
the happiness of man. Human happiness must express the completeness of
rational existence. And inasmuch as intelligence is essential activity,
as the soul is the _entelechy_ of the body, therefore the happiness of
man can not consist in a mere passive condition. It must, therefore,
consist in _perfect activity_ in well-doing, and especially in
contemplative thought,[758] or as Aristotle defines it--"_It is a
perfect practical activity in a perfect life_."[759] His conception of
the chief good has thus two sides, one internal, that which exists in
and for the consciousness--a "complete and perfect life," the other
external and practical. The latter, however, is a means to the former.
That complete and perfect life is the complete satisfaction and
perfection of our rational nature. It is a state of peace which is the
crown of exertion. It is the realization of the divine in man, and
constitutes the absolute and all-sufficient happiness.[760] A good
action is thus an End-in-itself (τέλειον τέλος) inasmuch as it secures
the _perfection_ of our nature; it is that for the sake of which our
moral faculties before existed, hence bringing an inward pleasure and
satisfaction with it; something in which the mind can rest and fully
acquiesce; something which can be pronounced beautiful, fitting,
honorable, and perfect.

[Footnote 758: "If it be true to say that happiness consists in doing
well, a life of action must be best both for the state and the
individual. But we need not, as some do, suppose that a life of action
implies relation to others, or that those only are active thoughts which
are concerned with the results of action; but far rather we must
consider those speculations and thoughts to be so which have their _end
in themselves_, and which are for their own sake."--"Politics," bk. vii.
ch. iii.]

[Footnote 759: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. x.]

[Footnote 760: "Ethics," bk. x. ch. viii.]

From what has been already stated, it will be seen that the Aristotelian
conception of _Virtue_ is not conformity to an absolute and immutable
standard of right. It is defined by him as _the observation of the right
mean (μεσότης) in action_--that is, the right mean relatively to
ourselves. "Virtue is a habit deliberately choosing, existing as a mean
(μέσον) which refers to us, and is defined by reason, and as a prudent
man would define it; and it is a mean between two evils, the one
consisting in excess, the other in defect; and further, it is a mean, in
that one of these falls short of, and the other exceeds, what is right
both in passions and actions; and that virtue both finds and chooses the
mean."[761] The perfection of an action thus consists in its containing
the right degree--the true mean between too much, and too little. The
law of the μεσότης is illustrated by the following examples: Man has a
fixed relation to pleasure and pain. In relation to pain, the true mean
is found in neither fearing it nor courting it, and this is _fortitude_.
In relation to pleasure, the true mean stands between greediness and
indifference; this is _temperance_. The true mean between prodigality
and narrowness is _liberality_; between simplicity and cunning is
_prudence_; between suffering wrong and doing wrong is _justice_.
Extending this law to certain qualifications of temper, speech, and
manners, you have the portrait of a graceful Grecian gentleman. Virtue
is thus _proportion, grace, harmony, beauty in action_.

[Footnote 761: Ibid, bk. ii. ch. vi.]

It will at once be seen that this classification has no stable
foundation. It furnishes no ultimate standard of right. The _mean_ is a
wavering line. It differs under different circumstances and relations,
and in different times and places. That mean which is sufficient for one
individual is insufficient for another. The virtue of a man, of a slave,
and of a child, is respectively different. There are as many virtues as
there are circumstances in life; and as men are ever entering into new
relations, in which it is difficult to determine the correct method of
action, the separate virtues can not be limited to any definite number.

Imperfect as the ethical system of Aristotle may appear to us who live
in Christian times, it must be admitted that his writings abound with
just and pure sentiments. His science of Ethics is a _discipline of
human character in order to human happiness_. And whilst it must be
admitted that it is directed solely to the improvement of man in the
present life, he aims to build that improvement on pure and noble
principles, and seeks to elevate man to the highest perfection of which
he could conceive. "And no greater praise can be given to a work of
heathen morality than to say, as may be said of the ethical writings of
Aristotle, that they contain nothing which a Christian may dispense
with, no precept of life which is not an element of Christian character;
and that they only fail in elevating the heart and the mind to objects
which it needed Divine Wisdom to reveal."[762]

[Footnote 762: Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Aristotle."]





Philosophy, after the time of Aristotle, takes a new direction. In the
pre-Socratic schools, we have seen it was mainly a philosophy of nature;
in the Socratic school it was characterized as a philosophy of mind; and
now in the post-Socratic schools it becomes a philosophy of life--a
moral philosophy. Instead of aiming at the knowledge of real Being--of
the permanent, unchangeable, eternal principles which underlie all
phenomena, it was now content to aim, chiefly, at individual happiness.
The primary question now discussed, as of the most vital importance, is,
What is the ultimate standard by which, amid all the diversities of
human conduct and opinion, we may determine what is right and good in
individual and social life?

This remarkable change in the course of philosophic inquiry was mainly

1st. _To the altered circumstances of the times_. An age of civil
disturbance and political intrigue succeeded the Alexandrian period. The
different states of Greece lost their independence, and became gradually
subject to a foreign yoke. Handed over from one domination to another,
in the struggles of Alexander's lieutenants, they endeavored to
reconquer their independence by forming themselves into confederations,
but were powerless to unite in the defense of a common cause. The Achæan
and Etolian leagues were weakened by internal discords; and it was in
vain that Sparta tried to recover her ancient liberties.

Divided amongst themselves, the smaller states invoked the aid of
dangerous allies--at one time appealing to Macedon, at another to Egypt.
In this way they prepared for the total ruin of Greek liberty, which was
destined to be extinguished by Rome.[763]

[Footnote 763: Pressensé, "Religions before Christ," pp. 136-140.]

During this period of hopeless turmoil and social disorder, all lofty
pursuits and all great principles were lost sight of and abandoned. The
philosophic movement followed the downward course of society, and men
became chiefly concerned for their personal interest and safety. The
wars of the Succession almost obliterated the idea of society, and
philosophy was mainly directed to the securing of personal happiness; it
became, in fact, "the art of making one's self happy." The sad reverses
to which the Grecian mind had been subjected produced a feeling of
exhaustion and indifference, which soon reflected itself in the
philosophy of the age.

2d. In connection with the altered circumstances of the age, we must
also take account of _the apparent failure of the Socratic method to
solve the problem of Being_.

The teaching of Aristotle had fostered the suspicion that the dialectic
method was a failure, and thus prepared the way for a return to
sensualism. He had taught that individuals alone have a real existence,
and that the "essence" of things is not to be sought in the elements of
unity and generality, or in the _idea_, as Plato taught, but in the
elements of diversity and speciality. And furthermore, in opposition to
Plato, he had taught his disciples to attach themselves to sensation, as
the source of all knowledge. As the direct consequence of this teaching,
we find his immediate successors, Dicearchus and Straton, deliberately
setting aside "the god of philosophy," affirming "that a _divinity_ was
unnecessary to the explanation of the existence and order of the
universe." Stimulated by the social degeneracy of the times, the
characteristic skepticism of the Greek intellect bursts forth anew. As
the skepticism of the Sophists marked the close of the first period of
philosophy, so the skepticism of Pyrrhonism marked the close of the
second. The new skepticism arrayed Aristotle against Plato as the
earlier skeptics arrayed atomism against the doctrine of the Eleatics.
They naturally said: "We have been seeking a long time; what have we
gained? Have we obtained any thing certain and determinate? Plato says
we have. But Aristotle and Plato do not agree. May not our opinion be as
good as theirs? What a diversity of opinions have been presented during
the past three hundred years! One may be as good as another, or they may
be all alike untrue!" Timon and Pyrrhon declared that, of each thing, it
might be said to be, and not to be; and that, consequently, we should
cease tormenting ourselves, and seek to obtain an _absolute calm_, which
they dignified with the name of _ataraxie_. Beholding the overthrow and
disgrace of their country, surrounded by examples of pusillanimity and
corruption, and infected with the spirit of the times themselves, they
wrote this maxim: "Nothing is infamous; nothing is in itself just; laws
and customs alone constitute what is justice and what is iniquity."
Having reached this extreme, nothing can be too absurd, and they cap the
climax by saying, "We assert nothing; no, not even that we assert

And yet there must some function, undoubtedly, remain for the "wise man"

Reason was given for some purpose. Philosophy must have some end. And
inasmuch as it is not to determine speculative questions, it must be to
determine practical questions. May it not teach men to _act_ rather than
to _think_? The philosopher, the schools, the disciples, survive the
darkening flood of skepticism.

Three centuries before Christ, the Peripatetic and Platonic schools are
succeeded by two other schools, which inherit their importance, and
which, in other forms, and by an under-current, perpetuate the disputes
of the Peripatetics and Platonists, namely, the Epicureans and Stoics.
With Aristotle and Plato, philosophy embraced in its circle nature,
humanity, and God; but now, in the systems of Epicurus and Zeno, moral
philosophy is placed in the foreground, and assumes the chief, the
overshadowing pre-eminence. The conduct of life--morality--is now the
grand subject of inquiry, and the great theme of discourse.

In dealing with _morals_ two opposite methods of inquiry were possible:

1. _To judge of the quality of actions by their_ RESULTS.

2. _To search for the quality of actions in the actions them selves_.

Utility, which in its last analysis is _Pleasure_, is the test of right,
in the first method; an assumed or discovered _Law of Nature_, in the
second. If the world were perfect, and the balance of the human
faculties undisturbed, it is evident that both systems would give
identical results. As it is, there is a tendency to error on each side,
which is fully developed in the rival schools of the Epicureans and
Stoics, who practically divided the suffrages of the mass of educated
men until the coming of Christ.


Epicurus was born B.C. 342, and died B.C. 270. He purchased a Garden
within the city, and commenced, at thirty-six years of age, to teach
philosophy. The Platonists had their academic Grove: the Aristotelians
walked in the Lyceum: the Stoics occupied the Porch: the Epicureans had
their Garden, where they lived a tranquil life, and seem to have had a
community of goods.

There is not one of all the various founders of the ancient
philosophical schools whose memory was cherished with so much veneration
by his disciples as that of Epicurus. For several centuries after his
death, his portrait was treated by them with all the honors of a sacred
relic: it was carried about with them in their journeys, it was hung up
in their schools, it was preserved with reverence in their private
chambers; his birthday was celebrated with sacrifices and other
religious observances, and a special festival in his honor was held
every month.

So much honor having been paid to the memory of Epicurus, we naturally
expect that his works would have been preserved with religious care. He
was one of the most prolific of the ancient Greek writers. Diogenes
calls him "a most voluminous writer," and estimates the number of works
composed by him at no less than three hundred, the principal of which he
enumerates.[764] But out of all this prodigious collection, not a single
book has reached us in a complete, or at least an independent form.
Three letters, which contain some outlines of his philosophy, are
preserved by Diogenes, who has also embodied his "Fundamental
Maxims"--forty-four propositions, containing a summary of his ethical
system. These, with part of his work "On Nature," found during the last
century among the Greek MSS. recovered at Herculaneum, constitute all
that has survived the general wreck.

[Footnote 764: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xvi., xvii.]

We are thus left to depend mainly on his disciples and successors for
any general account of his system. And of the earliest and most
immediate of these the writings have perished.[765] Our sole original
authority is Diogenes Laertius, who was unquestionably an Epicurean. The
sketch of Epicurus which is given in his "Lives" is evidently a "labor
of love." Among all the systems of ancient philosophy described by him,
there is none of whose general character he has given so skillful and so
elaborate an analysis. And even as regards the particulars of the
system, nothing could be more complete than Laertius's account of his
physical speculations. Additional light is also furnished by the
philosophic poem of Lucretius "On the Nature of Things," which was
written to advocate the physical theory of Epicurus. These are the chief
sources of our information.

[Footnote 765: Some fragments of the writings of Metrodorus, Phædrus,
Polystratus, and Philodemus, have been found among the Herculanean
Papyri, and published in Europe, which are said to throw some additional
light on the doctrines of Epicurus. See article on "Herculanean Papyri,"
in Edinburgh Review, October, 1862.]

It is said of Epicurus that he loved to hearken to the stories of the
indifference and apathy of Pyrrhon, and that, in these qualities, he
aspired to imitate him. But Epicurus was not, like Pyrrhon, a skeptic;
on the contrary, he was the most imperious dogmatist. No man ever showed
so little respect for the opinions of his predecessors, or so much
confidence in his own. He was fond of boasting that he had made his own
philosophy--_he_ was a "self-taught" man! Now "Epicurus might be
perfectly honest in saying he had read very little, and had worked out
the conclusions in his own mind, but he was a copyist, nevertheless; few
men more entirely so."[766] His psychology was certainly borrowed from
the Ionian school. From thence he had derived his fundamental maxim,
that "sensation is the source of all knowledge, and the standard of all
truth." His physics were copied from Democritus. With both, "atoms are
the first principle of all things." And in Ethics he had learned from
Aristotle, that if an absolute good is not the end of a practical life,
_happiness_ must be its end.[767] All that is fundamental in the system
of Epicurus was borrowed from his predecessors, and there is little that
can be called new in his teaching.

[Footnote 766: Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 236.]

[Footnote 767: "Ethics," bk. i. ch. vi]

The grand object of philosophy, according to Epicurus, _is the
attainment of a happy life_. "Philosophy," says he, "is the power by
which reason conducts men to happiness." Truth is a merely relative
thing, a variable quantity; and therefore the pursuit of truth for its
own sake is superfluous and useless. There is no such thing as absolute,
unchangeable right: no action is intrinsically right or wrong. "We
choose the virtues, not on their own account, but for the sake of
pleasure, just as we seek the skill of the physician for the sake of
health."[768] That which is nominally right in morals, that which is
relatively good in human conduct, is, therefore, to be determined by the
effects upon ourselves; that which is agreeable--pleasurable, is right;
that which is disagreeable--painful, is wrong. "The virtues are connate
with living pleasantly."[769] Pleasure (ἡδονή), then, is the great end
to be sought in human action. "Pleasure is the chief good, the beginning
and end of living happily."[770]

[Footnote 768: "Fundamental Maxims," preserved in Diogenes Laertius,
"Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxx.]

[Footnote 769: "Epicurus to Menæceus," in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of
the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxvii.]

[Footnote 770: Id., ib.]

The proof which Epicurus offers in support of his doctrine, "that
pleasure is the chief good," is truly characteristic. "All animals from
the moment of their birth are delighted with pleasure and offended with
pain, by their natural instincts, and without the employment of reason.
Therefore we, also, of our own inclination, flee from pain."[771] "All
men like pleasure and dislike pain; they naturally shun the latter and
pursue the former." "If happiness is present, we have every thing, and
when it is absent, we do every thing with a view to possess it."[772]
Virtue thus consists in man's doing deliberately what the animals do
instinctively--that is, choose pleasure and avoid pain.

[Footnote 771: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxix.]

[Footnote 772: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxvii.]

"Every kind of pleasure" is, in the estimation of Epicurus, "alike
good," and alike proper. "If those things which make the pleasures of
debauched men put an end to the fears of the mind, and to those which
arise about the heavenly bodies [supernatural powers], and death and
pain,... we should have no pretense for blaming those who wholly devote
themselves to pleasure, and who never feel any pain, or grief (which is
the chief evil) from any quarter."[773] Whilst, however, all pleasures
of the body, as well as the mind, are equal in dignity, and alike good,
they differ in intensity, in duration, and, especially, in their
consequences. He therefore divides pleasure into two classes; and in
this, as Cousin remarks, is found the only element of originality in his
philosophy. These two kinds of pleasure are:

1. _The pleasure of movement, excitement, energy_ (ἡδονὴ ἐν
κινήσει).[774] This is the most lively pleasure; it supposes the
greatest development of physical and mental power. "Joy and cheerfulness
are beheld in motion and energy." But it is not the most enduring
pleasure, and it is not the most perfect. It is accompanied by
uneasiness; it "brings with it many perturbations," and it yields some
bitter fruits.

[Footnote 773: "Fundamental Maxims," No. 9, in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives
of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxxi.]

[Footnote 774: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxviii.]

2. _The second kind of pleasure is the pleasure of repose, tranquillity,
impassibility_ (ἡδονὴ καταστηματική). This is a state, a "condition,"
rather than a motion. It is "the freedom of the body from pain, and the
soul from confusion."[775] This is perfect and unmixed happiness--the
happiness of God; and he who attains it "will be like a god among men."
"The storm of the soul is at an end, and body and soul are perfected."

Now, whilst "no pleasure is intrinsically bad,"[776] prudence
(φρόνησις), or practical wisdom, would teach us to choose the highest
and most perfect happiness. Morality is therefore the application of
reason to the conduct of life, and virtue is wisdom. The office of
reason is to "determine our choices"--to take account of the duration of
pleasures, to estimate their consequences, and to regard the happiness
of a whole lifetime, and not the enjoyment of a single hour. Without
wisdom men will choose the momentary excitements of passion, and follow
after agitating pleasures, which are succeeded by pain; they will
consequently lose "tranquillity of mind." "It is not possible," says
Epicurus, "to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and
justly."[777] The difference, then, between the philosopher and the
ordinary man is this--that while both seek pleasure, the former knows
how to forego certain indulgences which cause pain and vexation
hereafter, whereas the ordinary man seeks only immediate enjoyment.
Epicurus does not dispense with virtue, but he simply employs it as a
means to an end, namely, the securing of happiness.[778]

[Footnote 775: Id., ib.]

[Footnote 776: "Fundamental Maxims," No. 7.]

[Footnote 777: Ibid., No. 5.]

[Footnote 778: Pressensé, "Religions before Christ," p. 141.]

Social morality is, like private morality, founded upon _utility._ As
nothing is intrinsically right or wrong in private life, so nothing is
intrinsically just or unjust in social life. "Justice has no independent
existence: it results from mutual contracts, and establishes itself
wherever there is a mutual engagement to guard against doing or
sustaining any injury. Injustice is not intrinsically bad; it has this
character only because there is joined with it the fear of not escaping
those who are appointed to punish actions marked with this
character."[779] Society is thus a contract--an agreement to promote
each other's happiness. And inasmuch as the happiness of the individual
depends in a great degree upon the general happiness, the essence of his
ethical system, in its political aspects, is contained in inculcating
"the greatest happiness of the greatest number."

If you ask Epicurus what a man shall do when it is clearly his immediate
interest to violate the social contract, he would answer, that if your
general interest is secured by always observing it, you must make
momentary sacrifices for the sake of future good. But "when, in
consequence of new circumstances, a thing which has been pronounced just
does not any longer appear to agree with utility, the thing which was
just... ceases to be just the moment it ceases to be useful."[780] So
that self-interest is still the basis of all virtue. And if, by the
performance of duty, you are exposed to great suffering, and especially
to death, you are perfectly justified in the violation of any and all
contracts. Such is the social morality of Epicurus.

With coarse and energetic minds the doctrine of Epicurus would
inevitably lead to the grossest sensuality and crime; with men whose
temperament was more apathetic, or whose tastes were more pure, it would
develop a refined selfishness--a perfect egoism, which Epicurus has
adorned with the name "tranquillity of mind--impassibility,"

[Footnote 779: "Fundamental Maxims," Nos. 35, 36.]

[Footnote 780: Ibid., No. 41.]

[Footnote 781: It is scarcely necessary to discuss the question whether,
by making pleasure the standard of right, Epicurus intended to encourage
what is usually called sensuality. He earnestly protested against any
such unfavorable interpretation of his doctrine:--"When we say that
pleasure is a chief good, we are not speaking of the pleasures of the
debauched man, or those which lie in sensual enjoyment, as some think
who are ignorant, and who do not entertain our opinions, or else
interpret them perversely; but we mean the freedom of the body from
pain, and the soul from confusion" ("Epicurus to Menæceus," in Diogenes
Laertius, "Lives," bk. x. ch. xxvii.). The most obvious tendency of this
doctrine is to extreme selfishness, rather than extreme sensuality--a
selfishness which prefers one's own comfort and case to every other

As to the personal character of Epicurus, opinions have been divided
both in ancient and modern times. By some the garden has been called a
"sty." Epicurus has been branded as a libertine, and the name
"Epicurean" has, in almost all languages, become the synonym of
sensualism. Diogenes Laertius repels all the imputations which are cast
upon the moral character of his favorite author, and ascribes them to
the malignity and falsehood of the Stoics. "The most modern criticism
seems rather inclined to revert to the vulgar opinion respecting him,
rejecting, certainly with good reason, the fanatical panegyrics of some
French and English writers of the last century. Upon the whole, we are
inclined to believe that Epicurus was an apathetic, decorous, formal
man, who was able, without much difficulty, to cultivate a measured and
even habit of mind, who may have occasionally indulged in sensual
gratifications to prove that he thought them lawful, but who generally
preferred, as a matter of taste, the exercises of the intellect to the
more violent forms of self-indulgence. And this life, it seems to us,
would be most consistent with his opinions. To avoid commotion, to make
the stream of life flow on as easily as possible, was clearly the aim of
his philosophy."--Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 236.]

To secure this highest kind of happiness--this pure impassivity, it was
necessary to get rid of all superstitious fears of death, of
supernatural beings, and of a future retribution.[782] The chief causes
of man's misery are his illusions, his superstitions, and his
prejudices. "That which principally contributes to trouble the spirit of
men, is the persuasion which they cherish that the stars are beings
imperishable and happy (_i.e.,_ that they are gods), and that then our
thoughts and actions are contrary to the will of those superior beings;
they also, being deluded by these fables, apprehend an eternity of
evils, they fear the insensibility of death, as though that could affect
them...." "The real freedom from this kind of trouble consists in being
emancipated from all these things."[783] And this emancipation is to be
secured by the study of philosophy--that is, of that philosophy which
explains every thing on natural or physical principles, and excludes all
supernatural powers.

[Footnote 782: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. 1. 100-118.]

[Footnote 783: Epicurus to Herodotus, in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of
the Philosophers," p. 453 (Bohn's edition).]

That ignorance which occasions man's misery is two-fold, (i.) _Ignorance
of the external world, which leads to superstition._ All unexplained
phenomena are ascribed to unseen, supernatural powers; often to
malignant powers, which take pleasure in tormenting man; sometimes to a
Supreme and Righteous Power, which rewards and punishes men for their
good or evil conduct. Hence a knowledge of Physics, particularly the
physics which Democritus taught, was needful to deliver men from false
hopes and false fears.[784] (ii.) _Ignorance of the nature of man, of
his faculties, powers, and the sources and limits of his knowledge_,
from whence arise illusions, prejudices, and errors. Hence the need of
Psychology to ascertain the real grounds of human knowledge, to explain
the origin of man's illusions, to exhibit the groundlessness of his
fears, and lead him to a just conception of the nature and end of his

[Footnote 784: "The study of physics contributes more than any thing
else to the tranquillity and happiness of life."--Diogenes Laertius,
"Lives," bk. x. ch. xxiv. "For thus it is that _fear_ restrains all men,
because they observe many things effected on the earth and in heaven, of
which effects they can by no means see the causes, and therefore think
that they are wrought by a _divine_ power. For which reasons, when we
have clearly seen that _nothing can be produced from nothing_, we shall
have a more accurate perception of that of which we are in search, and
shall understand whence each individual thing is generated, and how all
things are done without the agency of the gods."--Lucretius, "On the
Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 145-150.]

Physics and Psychology are thus the only studies which Epicurus would
tolerate as "conducive to the happiness of man." The pursuit of truth
for its own sake was useless. Dialectics, which distinguish the true
from the false, the good from the bad, on _à priori_ grounds, must be
banished as an unnecessary toil, which yields no enjoyment. Theology
must be cancelled entirely, because it fosters superstitious fears. The
idea of God's taking knowledge of, disapproving, condemning, punishing
the evil conduct of men, is an unpleasant thought. Physics and
Psychology are the most useful, because the most "agreeable," the most
"comfortable" sciences.


In his physical theories Epicurus followed Leucippus and Democritus. He
expounds these theories in his letters to Herodotus and Pythocles, which
are preserved in Diogenes Laertius.[785] We shall be guided mainly by
his own statements, and when his meaning is obscure, or his exposition
is incomplete, we shall avail ourselves of the more elaborate statements
of Lucretius,[786] who is uniformly faithful to the doctrine of
Epicurus, and universally regarded as its best expounder.

The fundamental principle of his philosophy is the ancient maxim--"_de
nihilo nihil, in nihilum nil fosse reverti_;" but instead of employing
this maxim in the sense in which it is used by Parmenides, Anaxagoras,
Empedocles, and others, to prove there must be something self-existent
and eternal, or in other words, "that nothing which once was not can
ever of itself come into being," he uses it to disprove a divine
creation, and even presents the maxim in an altered form--viz., "nothing
is ever _divinely_ generated from nothing;"[787] and he thence concludes
that the world was by no means made for us by _divine_ power.[788]
Nature is eternal. "The universal whole always was such as it now is,
and always will be such." "The universe also is infinite, for that which
is finite has a limit, but the universe has no limit."[789]

[Footnote 785: "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.]

[Footnote 786: "De Natura Rerum."]

[Footnote 787: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i.]

[Footnote 788: Ibid.]

[Footnote 789: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxiv.]

The two great principles of nature are a _vacuum_, and a _plenum._ The
plenum is _body_, or tangible nature; the vacuum is _space_, or
intangible nature. "We know by the evidences of the senses (which are
our only rule of reasoning) that _bodies_ have a real existence, and we
infer from the evidence of the senses that the vacuum has a real
existence; for if space have no real existence, there would be nothing
in which bodies can move, as we see they really do move. Let us add to
this reflection that one can not conceive, either in virtue of
perception, or of any analogy founded on perception, any general quality
peculiar to all beings, which is not either an attribute, or an
accident, of the body or of the vacuum."[790]

Of bodies some are "combinations"--concrete bodies--and some are
primordial "elements," out of which combinations are formed. These
primordial elements, out of which the universe is generated, are
"_atoms_" (ἄτομοι). These atoms are "the first principles" and "seeds"
of all things.[791] They are "_infinite_ in number," and, as their name
implies, they are "_infrangible" "unchangeable_" and
"_indestructible."_[792] Matter is, therefore, not infinitely divisible;
there must be a point at which division ends.[793]

The only qualities of atoms are _form_, _magnitude_, and _density._ All
the other sensible qualities of matter--the secondary qualities--as
color, odor, sweetness, bitterness, etc.--are necessarily inherent in
form. All secondary qualities are changeable, but the primary atoms are
unchangeable; "for in the dissolution of combined bodies there must be
something _solid_ and _indestructible,_ of such a kind that it will not
change, either into what does not exist, or out of what does not exist,
but the change results from a simple displacement of parts, which is the
most usual case, or from an addition or subtraction of particles."[794]

[Footnote 790: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxiv.]

[Footnote 791: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxv.]

[Footnote 792: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxiv.]

[Footnote 793: Id., ib.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l.

[Footnote 794: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxiv.]

The atoms are not all of one _form_, but of different forms suited to
the production of different substances by combination; some are square,
some triangular, some smooth and spherical, some are hooked with points.
They are also diversified in _magnitude_ and _density_. The number of
original forms is "incalculably varied," but not infinite. "Every
variety of forms contains an infinitude of atoms, but there is not, for
that reason, an infinitude of forms; it is only the number of them which
is beyond computation."[795] To assert that atoms are of every kind of
form, magnitude, and density, would be "to contradict the phenomena;
"for experience teaches us that objects have a finite magnitude, and
form necessarily supposes limitation.

[Footnote 795: Id., ib.]

A variety of these primordial forms enter into the composition of all
sensible objects, because sensible objects possess different qualities,
and these diversified qualities can only result from the combination of
different original forms. "The earth has, in itself, primary atoms from
which springs, rolling forth cool _water_, incessantly recruit the
immense sea; it has also atoms from which _fire_ arises.... Moreover,
the earth contains atoms from which it can raise up rich _corn_ and
cheerful _groves_ for the tribes of men...." So that "no object in
nature is constituted of one kind of elements, and whatever possesses in
itself must numerous powers and energies, thus demonstrates that it
contains more numerous kinds of primary particles,"[796] or primordial
"seeds of things."

"The atoms are in a continual state of _motion_" and "have moved with
_equal rapidity_ from all eternity, since it is evident the vacuum can
offer no resistance to the heaviest, any more than the lightest." The
primary and original movement of all atoms is _in straight lines, by
virtue of their own weight_. The vacuum separates all atoms one from
another, at greater or less distances, and they preserve their own
peculiar motion in the densest substances.[797]

[Footnote 796: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 582-600.]

[Footnote 797: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxiv.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 80-92.]

And now the grand crucial question arises--_How do atoms combine so as
to form concrete bodies?_ If they move in straight lines, and with equal
rapidity from all eternity, then they can never unite so as to form
concrete substances. They can only coalesce by deviating from a straight
line.[798] How are they made to deviate from a straight line? This
deviation must be introduced _arbitrarily_, or by some _external cause_.
And inasmuch as Epicurus admits of no causes "but space and matter," and
rejects all divine or supernatural interposition, the _new_ movement
must be purely arbitrary. They deviate _spontaneously,_ and of their own
accord. "The system of nature immediately appears _as a free agent_,
released from tyrant masters, to do every thing of itself spontaneously,
without the help of the gods."[799] The manner in which Lucretius proves
this doctrine is a good example of the petitio principii. He assumes, in
opposition to the whole spirit and tendency of the Epicurean philosophy,
that man has "a free will," and then argues that if man who is nothing
but an aggregation of atoms, can "turn aside and alter his own
movements," the primary elements, of which his soul is composed, must
have some original spontaneity. "If all motion is connected and
dependent, and a new movement perpetually arises from a former one in a
certain order, and if the primary elements do not produce any
commencement of motion by deviating from the straight line to break the
laws of fate, so that cause may not follow cause in infinite succession,
_whence comes this freedom of will_ to all animals in the world? whence,
I say, is this liberty of action wrested from the fates, by means of
which we go wheresoever inclination leads each of us? whence is it that
we ourselves turn aside, and alter our motions, not at any fixed time,
nor in any fixed part of space, but just as our own minds prompt?....
Wherefore we must necessarily confess that the same is the case with the
seeds of matter, and there is some other cause besides strokes and
weight [resistance and density] from which this power [of free movement]
is innate in them, since we see that _nothing is produced from
nothing_."[800] Besides form, extension, and density, Epicurus has found
another inherent or essential quality of matter or atoms, namely,
"_spontaneous" motion._

[Footnote 798: "At some time, though at no fixed and determinate time,
and at some point, though at no fixed and determinate point, they turn
aside from the right line, but only so far as you can call the least
possible deviation."--Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. ii. l.

[Footnote 799: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things" bk. ii. 1.

[Footnote 800: Id., ib., bk. ii. l. 250-290.]

By a slight "voluntary" deflection from the straight line, atoms are now
brought into contact with each other; "they strike against each other,
and by the percussion new movements and new complications
arise"--"movements from high to low, from low to high, and horizontal
movements to and fro, in virtue of this reciprocal percussion." The
atoms "jostling about, _of their own accord_, in infinite modes, were
often brought together confusedly, irregularly, and to no purpose, but
at length they _successfully coalesced_; at least, such of them as were
thrown together suddenly became, in succession, the beginnings of great
things--as earth, and air, and sea, and heaven."[801]

[Footnote 801: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. ii. l.

And now Lucretius shall describe the formation of the different parts of
the world according to the cosmogony of Epicurus. We quote from Good's

     But from this boundless mass of matter first
     How heaven, and earth, and ocean, sun, and moon,
     Rose in nice order, now the muse shall tell.
     For never, doubtless, from result of thought,
     Or mutual compact, could primordial seeds
     First harmonize, or move with powers precise.
     But countless crowds in countless manners urged,
     From time eternal, by intrinsic weight
     And ceaseless repercussion, to combine
     In all the possibilities of forms,
     Of actions, and connections, and exert
     In every change some effort to create--
     Reared the rude frame at length, abruptly reared,
     Which, when once gendered, must the basis prove
     Of things sublime; and whence eventual rose
     Heaven, earth, and ocean, and the tribes of sense.

     Yet now nor sun on fiery wheel was seen
     Riding sublime, nor stars adorned the pole,
     Nor heaven, nor earth, nor air, nor ocean lived,
     Nor aught of prospect mortal sight surveyed;
     But one vast chaos, boisterous and confused.
     Yet order hence began; congenial parts
     Parts joined congenial; and the rising world
     Gradual evolved: its mighty members each
     From each divided, and matured complete
     From seeds appropriate; whose wild discortderst,
     Reared by their strange diversities of form,
     With ruthless war so broke their proper paths,
     Their motions, intervals, conjunctions, weights,
     And repercussions, nought of genial act
     Till now could follow, nor the seeds themselves
     E'en though conjoined in mutual bonds, co
     Thus air, secreted, rose o'er laboring earth;
     Secreted ocean flowed; and the pure fire,
     Secreted too, toward ether sprang sublime.

     But first the seeds terrene, since ponderous most
     And most perplext, in close embraces clung,
     And towards the centre conglobating sunk.
     And as the bond grew firmer, ampler forth
     Pressed they the fluid essences that reared
     Sun, moon, and stars, and main, and heaven's high wall.
     For those of atoms lighter far consist,
     Subtiler, and more rotund than those of earth.
     Whence, from the pores terrene, with foremost haste
     Rushed the bright ether, towering high, and swift
     Streams of fire attracting as it flowed.

     Then mounted, next, the base of sun and moon,
     'Twixt earth and ether, in the midway air
     Rolling their orbs; for into neither these
     Could blend harmonious, since too light with earth
     To sink deprest, while yet too ponderous far
     To fly with ether toward the realms extreme:
     So 'twixt the two they hovered; _vital_ there
     Moving forever, parts of the vast whole;
     As move forever in the frame of man
     Some active organs, while some oft repose.[802]

[Footnote 802: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," b. v. l. 431-498]

After explaining the origin and causes of the varied celestial
phenomena, he proceeds to give an account of the production of plants,
animals, and man:

     Once more return we to the world's pure prime,
     Her fields yet liquid, and the tribes survey
     First she put forth, and trusted to the winds.

     And first the race she reared of verdant herbs,
     Glistening o'er every hill; the fields at large
     Shone with the verdant tincture, and the trees
     Felt the deep impulse, and with outstretched arms
     Broke from their bonds rejoicing. As the down
     Shoots from the winged nations, or from beasts
     Bristles or hair, so poured the new-born earth
     Plants, fruits, and herbage. Then, in order next,
     Raised she the sentient tribes, in various modes,
     By various powers distinguished: for not heaven
     Down dropped them, nor from ocean's briny waves
     Sprang they, terrestrial sole; whence, justly _Earth_
     Claims the dear name of mother, since alone
     Flowed from herself whate'er the sight surveys.

     E'en now oft rears she many a sentient tribe
     By showers and sunshine ushered into day.[803]
     Whence less stupendous tribes should then have risen
     More, and of ampler make, herself new-formed,
     In flower of youth, and _Ether_ all mature.[804]

     Of these birds first, of wing and plume diverse,
     Broke their light shells in spring-time: as in spring
     Still breaks the grasshopper his curious web,
     And seeks, spontaneous, foods and vital air.

     Then rushed the ranks of mortals; for the soil,
     Exuberant then, with warmth and moisture teemed.
     So, o'er each scene appropriate, myriad wombs
     Shot, and expanded, to the genial sward
     By fibres fixt; and as, in ripened hour,
     Their liquid orbs the daring foetus broke
     Of breath impatient, nature here transformed
     Th' assenting earth, and taught her opening veins
     With juice to flow lacteal; as the fair
     Now with sweet milk o'erflows, whose raptured breast
     First hails the stranger-babe, since all absorbed
     Of nurture, to the genial tide converts.
     Earth fed the nursling, the warm ether clothed,
     And the soft downy grass his couch compressed.[805]

[Footnote 803: The doctrine of "spontaneous generations" is still more
explicitly announced in book ii. "Manifest appearances compel us to
believe that animals, though possessed of sense, are generated from
senseless atoms. For you may observe living worms proceed from foul
dung, when the earth, moistened with immoderate showers, has contracted
a kind of putrescence; and you may see all other things change
themselves, similarly, into other things."--Lucretius, "On the Nature of
Things," bk. i. l. 867-880.]

[Footnote 804: Ether is the father, earth the mother of all organized
being.--Id., ib., bk. i. l. 250-255.]

[Footnote 805: Id., ib., bk. v. l. 795-836.]

A state of pure savagism, or rather of mere animalism, was the primitive
condition of man. He wandered naked in the woods, feeding on acorns and
wild fruits, and quenched his thirst at the "echoing waterfalls," in
company with the wild beast.

Through the remaining part of book v. Lucretius describes how speech was
invented; how society originated, and governments were instituted; how
civilization commenced; and how religion arose out of ignorance of
natural causes; how the arts of life were discovered, and how science
sprang up. And all this, as he is careful to tell us, without any divine
instruction, or any assistance from the gods.

Such are the physical theories of the Epicureans. The primordial
elements of matter are infinite, eternal, and self-moved. After ages
upon ages of chaotic strife, the universe at length arose out of an
_infinite_ number of atoms, and a _finite_ number of forms, by a
fortuitous combination. Plants, animals, and man were spontaneously
generated from ether and earth. Languages, society, governments, arts
were gradually developed. And all was achieved simply by blind,
unconscious nature-forces, without any designing, presiding, and
governing Intelligence--that is, without a God.

The evil genius which presided over the method of Epicurus, and
perverted all his processes of thought, is clearly apparent. The end of
his philosophy was not the discovery of truth. He does not commence his
inquiry into the principles or causes which are adequate to the
explanation of the universe, with an unprejudiced mind. He everywhere
develops a malignant hostility to religion, and the avowed object of his
physical theories is to rid the human mind of all fear of supernatural
powers--that is, of all fear of God.[806] "The phenomena which men
observe to occur in the earth and the heavens, when, as often happens,
they are perplexed with fearful thoughts, overawe their minds with a
dread of the gods, and humble and depress them to the earth. For
ignorance of natural causes obliges them to refer all things to the
power of the divinities, and to resign the dominion of the world to
them; because of those effects they can by no means see the origin, and
accordingly suppose that they are produced by divine influence."[807]

[Footnote 806: "Let us trample religion underfoot, that the victory
gained over it may place us on an equality with heaven" (book i.). See
Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv. pp.
453,454 (Bohn's edition); Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i.
l. 54-120.]

[Footnote 807: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. vi. l. 51-60.]

To "expel these fancies from the mind" as "inconsistent with its
tranquillity and opposed to human happiness," is the end, and, as
Lucretius believes, the glory of the Epicurean philosophy. To accomplish
this, God must be placed at an infinite distance from the universe, and
must be represented as indifferent to every thing that transpires within
it. We "must beware of making the Deity interpose here, for that Being
we ought to suppose _exempt from all occupation_, and perfectly
happy,"[808]--that is, absolutely impassible. God did not make the
world, and he does not govern the world. There is no evidence of design
or intelligence in its structure, and "such is the faultiness with which
it stands affected, that it can not be the work of a Divine power."[809]

Epicurus is, then, an unmistakable Atheist. He did not admit a God in
any rational sense. True, he _professed_ to believe in gods, but
evidently in a very equivocal manner, and solely to escape the popular
condemnation. "They are not pure spirits, for there is no spirit in the
atomic theory; they are not bodies, for where are the bodies that we may
call gods? In this embarrassment, Epicurus, compelled to acknowledge
that the human race believes in the existence of gods, addresses himself
to an old theory of Democritus--that is, he appeals to dreams. As in
dreams there are images that act upon and determine in us agreeable or
painful sensations, without proceeding from exterior bodies, so the gods
are images similar to those of dreams, but greater, having the human
form; images which are not precisely bodies, and yet not deprived of
materiality which are whatever you please, but which, in short, must be
admitted, since the human race believes in gods, and since the
universality of the religious sentiment is a fact which demands a

[Footnote 808: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.
ch. xxv.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 55-60.]

[Footnote 809: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. v. l. 195-200.]

[Footnote 810: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 431.]

It is needless to offer any criticism on the reasoning of Epicurus. One
fact will have obviously presented itself to the mind of the reflecting
reader. He starts with atoms having form, magnitude, and density, and
essays to construct a universe; but he is obliged to be continually
introducing, in addition, a "_nameless something_" which "remains in
secret," to help him out in the explanation of the phenomena.[811] He
makes life to arise out of dead matter, sense out of senseless atoms,
consciousness out of unconsciousness, reason out of unreason, without an
adequate cause, and thus violates the fundamental principle from which
he starts, "_that nothing can arise from nothing_."


In the system of Epicurus, the soul is regarded as corporeal or
material, like the body; they form, together, one nature or substance.
The soul is composed of atoms exceedingly diminutive, smooth, and round,
and connected with or diffused through the veins, viscera, and nerves.
The substance of the soul is not to be regarded as simple and
uncompounded; its constituent parts are _aura_, heat, and air. These are
not sufficient, however, even in the judgment of Epicurus, to account
for _sensation_; they are not adequate to generate sensible motives such
as revolve any thoughts in the mind. "A certain fourth nature, or
substance, must, therefore, necessarily be added to these, _that is
wholly without a name_; it is a substance, however, than which nothing
exists more active or more subtile, nor is any thing more essentially
composed of small and smooth elementary particles; and it is this
substance which first distributes sensible motions through the

[Footnote 811: As, _e.g._, Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk.
iii. l. 260-290.]

[Footnote 812: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 237-250.]

Epicurus is at great pains to prove that the soul is material; and it
can not be denied that he marshals his arguments with great skill.
Modern materialism may have added additional illustrations, but it has
contributed no new lines of proof. The weapons are borrowed from the old
arsenal, and they are not wielded with any greater skill than they were
by Epicurus himself, I. The soul and the body act and react upon each
other; and mutual reaction can only take place between substances of
similar nature. "Such effects can only be produced by _touch_, and touch
can not take place without _body_."[813] 2. The mind is produced
together with the body, it grows up along with it, and waxes old at the
same time with it.[814] 3. The mind is diseased along with the body, "it
loses its faculties by material causes, as intoxication, or by severe
blows; and is sometimes, by a heavy lethargy, borne down into a deep
eternal sleep."[815] 4. The mind, like the body, is healed by medicines,
which proves that it exists only as a mortal substance.[816] 5. The mind
does not always, and at the same time, continue _entire_ and
_unimpaired_, some faculties decay before the others, "the substance of
the soul is therefore divided." On all these grounds the soul must be
deemed mortal; it is dissolved along with the body, and has no conscious
existence after death.

[Footnote 813: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l.

[Footnote 814: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 444-460.]

[Footnote 815: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 438-490.]

[Footnote 816: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 500-520.]

Such being the nature of the soul, inasmuch as it is material, all its
knowledge must be derived from sensation. The famous doctrine of
perception, as taught by Epicurus, is grounded upon this pre-supposition
that the soul is corporeal. "The ειδωλα ἀπόῤῥοιαι--_imagines, simulacra
rerum, etc_., are, like pellicles, continually flying off from objects;
and these material 'likenesses,' diffusing themselves everywhere in the
air, are propelled to the perceptive organs." These images of things
coming in contact with the senses produce _sensation_ (αἴσθησις). A
sensation may be considered either as regards its object, or as regards
him who experiences it. As regards him who experiences it, it is simply
a passive affection, an agreeable or disagreeable feeling, passion, or
sentiment (τὸ πάθος). But along with sensation there is inseparably
associated some knowledge of the object which excites sensation; and it
is for this reason that Epicurus marked the intimate relation of these
two phenomena by giving them analogous names. Because the second
phenomenon is joined to the first, he calls it ἐπαίσθησις--_perception_.
It is sensation viewed especially in regard to its
object--_representative sensation_, or the "sensible idea" of modern
philosophy. It is from perception that we draw our general ideas by a
kind of prolepsis (πρόληψις) an anticipation or laying hold by reason of
that which is implied in sensation. Now all sensations are alike true in
so far as they are sensations, and error arises from false reasoning
about the testimony of sense. All knowledge is purely relative and
contingent, and there is no such thing as necessary and absolute truth.

The system of Epicurus is thus a system of pure materialism, but not a
system of materialism drawn, as a logical consequence, from a careful
and unprejudiced study of the whole phenomena of mind. His openly avowed
design is to deliver men from the fear of death, and rid them of all
apprehension of a future retribution. "Did men but know that there was a
fixed limit to their woes, they would be able, in some measure, to defy
the religious fictions and menaces of the poets; but now, since we must
fear eternal punishment at death, there is no mode, no means of
resisting them."[817] To emancipate men from "these terrors of the
mind," they must be taught "that the soul is mortal, and dissolves with
the body"--that "death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved is
devoid of sensation, and that which is devoid of sensation is nothing to
us."[818] Starting with the fixed determination to prove that

     "Death is nothing, and naught after death,"

he will not permit any mental phenomena to suggest to him the idea of an
incorporeal spiritual substance. Matter, under any form known to
Epicurus, is confessedly insufficient to explain sensation and thought;
a "nameless something" must be _supposed_. But may not "that principle
which _lies entirely hid, and remains in secret_"[819]--and about which
even Epicurus does not know any thing--be a spiritual, an _immaterial_
principle? For aught that he knows it may as properly be called
"_spirit_" as matter. May not _sensation_ and _cognition_ be the result
of the union of matter and spirit; and if so, may not their mutual
affections, their common sympathies, be the necessary conditions of
sensation and cognition in the present life? A reciprocal relation
between body and mind appears in all mental phenomena. A certain
proportion in this relation is called mental health. A deviation from it
is termed disease. This proportion is by no means an equilibrium, but
the perfect adaptation of the body, without injury to its integrity, to
the purposes of the mind. And if this be so, all the arguments of
materialism fall to the ground.

[Footnote 817: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 100-118.]

[Footnote 818: Diogenes Laertius, Maxim 2, in "Lives of the
Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxxi.]

[Footnote 819: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l.

The concluding portion of the third book, in which Lucretius discourses
on _death_, is a mournful picture of the condition of the heathen mind
before Christianity "brought life and immortality fully to light." It
comes to us, like a voice from the grave of two thousand years, to prove
they were "without hope." To be delivered from the fear of future
retribution, they would sacrifice the hope of an immortal life. To
extintinguish guilt they would annihilate the soul. The only way in
which Lucretius can console man in prospect of death is, by reminding
him that he will _escape the ills of life_.

     "'But thy dear home shall never greet thee more!
     No more the best of wives!--thy babes beloved,
     Whose haste half-met thee, emulous to snatch
     The dulcet kiss that roused thy secret soul,
     Again shall never hasten!--nor thine arm,
     With deeds heroic, guard thy country's weal!--
     Oh mournful, mournful fate!' thy friends exclaim!
     'One envious hour of these invalued joys
     Robs thee forever!--But they add not here,
     '_It robs thee, too, of all desire of joy_'--
     A truth, once uttered, that the mind would free
     From every dread and trouble. 'Thou art safe
     The sleep of death protects thee, _and secures
     From all the unnumbered woes of mortal life!_
     While we, alas! the sacred urn around
     That holds thine ashes, shall insatiate weep,
     Nor time destroy the eternal grief we feel!'
     What, then, has death, if death be mere repose,
     And quiet only in a peaceful grave,--
     What has it thus to mar this life of man?"[820]

[Footnote 820: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l.

This is all the comfort that Epicureanism can offer; and if "the wretch
still laments the approach of death," she addresses him "with voice

     "Vile coward! dry thine eyes--
     Hence with thy snivelling sorrows, and depart!"

It is evident that such a system of philosophy outrages the purest and
noblest sentiments of humanity, and, in fact, condemns itself. It was
born of selfishness and social degeneracy, and could perpetuate itself
only in an age of corruption, because it inculcated the lawfulness of
sensuality and the impunity of injustice. Its existence at this precise
period in Grecian history forcibly illustrates the truth, that Atheism
is a disease of the heart rather than the head. It seeks to set man free
to follow his own inclinations, by ridding him of all faith in a
Divinity and in an immortal life, and thus exonerating him from all
accountability and all future retribution. But it failed to perceive
that, in the most effectual manner, it annihilated all real liberty, all
true nobleness, and made of man an abject slave.


The Stoical school was founded by Zeno of Citium, who flourished B.C.
290. He taught in the Stoa Poecile, or Painted Porch; and his disciples
thence derived the name of Stoics. Zeno was succeeded by Cleanthes (B.C.
260); and Cleanthes by Chrysippus (B.C. 240), whose vigorous intellect
gave unity and completeness to the Stoical philosophy. He is reported to
have said to Cleanthes,--"Give me your doctrines, and I will find the

[Footnote 821: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. vii.]

None of the writings of the early Stoics, save a "Hymn to Jupiter," by
Cleanthes, have survived. We are chiefly indebted to Diogenes
Laertius[822] and Cicero[823] for an insight into their system. The Hymn
of Cleanthes sheds some light on their Theology, and their moral
principles are exhibited in "The Fragments" of Epictetus, and "The Life
and Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius.

[Footnote 822: "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.]

[Footnote 823: "De Fm.," and "De Natura Deorum."]

The philosophy of the Stoics, like that of the Epicureans, was mainly a
philosophy of life--that is, a _moral_ philosophy. The manner in which
they approached the study of morals, and the principles upon which they
grounded morality, were, however, essentially different.

The grand object of Epicurus was to make the current of life flow on as
comfortably as possible, without any distracting thoughts of the past or
any disturbing visions of the future. He therefore starts with this
fundamental principle, that the true philosophy of life is to enjoy
one's self--the aim of existence is to be happy. Whatever in a man's
beliefs or conduct tends to secure happiness is _right_; whatever
awakens uneasiness, apprehension, or fear, is _wrong_. And inasmuch as
the idea of a Divine Creator and Governor of the universe, and the
belief in a future life and retribution, are uncomfortable thoughts,
exciting superstitious fears, they ought to be rejected. The Physics and
the Psychology of Epicurus are thus the natural outgrowth of his

Zeno was evidently a more earnest, serious, and thoughtful man. He
cherished a nobler ideal of life than to suppose "man must do
voluntarily, what the brute does instinctively--eschew pain, and seek
pleasure." He therefore seeks to ascertain whether there be not some
"principle of nature," or some law of nature, which determines what is
right in human action--whether there be not some light under which, on
contemplating an action, we may at once pronounce upon its intrinsic
_rightness_, or otherwise. This he believes he has found in the
_universal reason_ which fashioned, and permeates, and vivifies the
universe, and is the light and life of the human soul. The chief good
is, confessedly, to live according to nature; which is to live according
to virtue, for nature leads us to that point.... For our individual
natures are all part of the universal nature; on which account, the
chief good is to live in a manner corresponding to one's own nature, and
to universal nature; doing none of those things which the common law of
mankind (the universal conscience of our race) forbids. _That common law
is identical with_ RIGHT REASON _which pervades every thing, being the
same with Jupiter_ (Ζεύς), _who is the regulator and chief manager of
all existing things_.[824] The foundation of the ethical system of the
Stoics is thus laid in their philosophy of nature--their Physiology and
Psychology. If, therefore, we would apprehend the logical connection and
unity of Stoicism, we must follow their order of thought--that is, we
must commence with their


Diogenes Laertius tells us that the Stoics held "that there are two
general principles in the universe--the _passive_ principle (τὸ πάσχον),
which is matter, an existence without any distinctive quality, and the
_active_ principle (τὸ ποιοῦν), which is the reason existing in the
passive, that is to say, God. For that He, being eternal, and existing
throughout all matter, makes every thing."[825] This Divine Reason,
acting upon matter, originates the necessary and unchangeable laws which
govern matter--laws which the Stoics called λόγοι
σπερματικοί--generating reasons or causes of things. The laws of the
world are, like eternal reason, necessary and immutable; hence the
εἱμαρμένη--the _Destiny_ of the Stoics, which is also one of the names
of the Deity.[826] But by Destiny the Stoics could not understand a
blind unconscious necessity; it is rather the highest reason in the
universe. "Destiny (εἱμαρμένη) is a connected (εἰρομένη) cause of
things, or the reason according to which the world is regulated."[827]

[Footnote 824: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. liii.]

[Footnote 825: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxviii.]

[Footnote 826: "They teach that God is unity, and that he is called
Mind, and _Fate_, and Jupiter."--Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxviii.]

[Footnote 827: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. lxxiv.]

These two principles are not, however, regarded by the Stoics as having
a distinct, separate, and independent existence. One is substance
(οὐσία); the other is quality (ποῖος). The primordial matter is the
passive ground of all existence--the original substratum for the Divine
activity. The Divine Reason is the active or formative energy which
dwells within, and is essentially united to, the primary substance. The
Stoics, therefore, regarded all existence as reducible, in its last
analysis, to _one substance_, which on the side of its passivity and
capacity of change, they called _hyle_ (ὕλη);[828] and on the side of
its changeless energy and immutable order, they called God. The
corporeal world--physical nature--is "a peculiar manifestation" of God,
generated from his own substance, and, after certain periods, absorbed
in himself. Thus God, considered in the evolution of His power, is
nature. And nature, as attached to its immanent principle, is called
God.[829] The fundamental doctrine of the Stoics was a spiritual, ideal,
intellectual pantheism, of which the proper formula is, _All things are
God, but God is not all things_.

[Footnote 828: Or "matter." A good deal of misapprehension has arisen
from confounding the intellectual ὕλη of Aristotle and the Stoics with
the gross physical "matter" of the modern physicist. By "matter" we now
understand that which is corporeal, tangible, sensible; whereas by ὕλη,
Aristotle and the Stoics (who borrowed the term from him) understood
that which is incorporeal, intangible, and inapprehensible to sense,--an
"unknown something" which must necessarily be _supposed_ as the
condition of the existence of things. The _formal_ cause of Aristotle is
"the substance and essence"--the primary nature of things, on which all
their properties depend. The _material_ cause is "the matter or subject"
through which the primary nature manifests itself. Unfortunately the
term "material" misleads the modern thinker. He is in danger of
supposing the _hyle_ of Aristotle to be something sensible and physical,
whereas it is an intellectual principle whose inherence is implied in
any physical thing. It is something distinct from _body_, and has none
of those properties we are now accustomed to ascribe to matter. Body,
corporeity, is the result of the union of "hyle" and "form." Stobaeus
thus expounds the doctrine of Aristotle: Form alone, separate from
matter (ὕλη) is _incorporeal_; so matter alone, separated from form, is
not _body_. But there is need of the joint concurrence of both
these--matter and form--to make the substance of body. Every individual
substance is thus a totality of matter and form--a σίνολον.

The Stoics taught that God is _oneliness_ (Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of
the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxviii.); that he is _eternal_ and
_immortal_ (bk. vii. ch. lxxii.); he could not, therefore, be corporeal,
for "body _infinite, divisible,_ and _perishable_" (bk. vii. ch.
lxxvii.). "All the parts of the world are perishable, for they change
one into another; therefore the world is perishable" (bk. vii. ch.
lxx.). The Deity is not, therefore, absolutely identified with the world
by the Stoics. He permeates all things, creates and dissolves all
things, and is, therefore, _more_ than all things. The world is finite;
God is infinite.]

[Footnote 829: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. lxx.]

Schwegler affirms that, in physics, the Stoics, for the most part,
followed Heraclitus, and especially "carried out the proposition that
nothing incorporeal exists; every thing is essentially _corporeal_." The
pantheism of Zeno is therefore "_materialistic._"[830] This is not a
just representation of the views of the early Stoics, and can not be
sustained by a fair interpretation of their teaching. They say that
principles and elements differ from each other. Principles have no
generation or beginning, and will have no end; but elements may be
destroyed. Also, that elements have bodies, and have forms, _but
principles have no bodies, and no forms_.[831] Principles are,
therefore, _incorporeal._ Furthermore, Cicero tells us that they taught
that the universal harmony of the world resulted from all things being
"contained by one _Divine_ SPIRIT;"[832] and also, that reason in man is
"nothing else but part of the _Divine_ SPIRIT merged into a human
body."[833] It thus seems evident that the Stoics made a distinction
between corruptible _elements_ (fire, air, earth, water) and
incorruptible _principles_, by which and out of which elements were
generated, and also between corporeal and incorporeal substances.

[Footnote 830: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," p. 140.]

[Footnote 831: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. lxviii.]

[Footnote 832: "De Natura Deorum," bk. ii. ch. xiii.]

[Footnote 833: Ibid, bk. ii. ch. xxxi.]

On a careful collation of the fragmentary remains of the early Stoics,
we fancy we catch glimpses of the theory held by some modern pantheists,
that the material elements, "having body and form," are a vital
transformation of the Divine substance; and that the forces of
nature--"the generating causes or reasons of things" (λόγοι
σπερματικοί)--are a conscious transmutation of the Divine energy. This
theory is more than hinted in the following passages, which we slightly
transpose from the order in which they stand in Diogenes Laertius,
without altering their meaning. "They teach that the Deity was in the
beginning by _himself_".... that "first of all, he made the four
elements, fire, water, air, and earth." "The fire is the highest, and
that is called æther, in which, first of all, the sphere was generated
in which the fixed stars are set...; after that the air; then the water;
and the sediment, as it were, of all, is the earth, which is placed in
the centre of the rest." "He turned into water the whole substance which
pervaded the air; and as the seed is contained in the product, so, too,
He, being the seminal principle of the world, remained still in
moisture, making matter fit to be employed by himself in the production
of things which were to come after."[834] The Deity thus draws the
universe out of himself, transmuting the divine substance into body and
form. "God is a being of a certain quality, having for his peculiar
manifestation universal substance. He is a being imperishable, and who
never had any generation, being the maker of the arrangement and order
that we see; and who at certain periods of time _absorbs all substance
in himself and then reproduces it from himself_."[835] And now, in the
last analysis, it would seem as though every thing is resolved into
_force_. God and the world are _power, and its manifestation_, and these
are ultimately one. "This identification of God and the world, according
to which the Stoics regarded the whole formation of the universe as but
a period in the development of God, renders their remaining doctrine
concerning the world very simple. Every thing in the world seemed to be
permeated by the Divine life, and was regarded as the flowing out of
this most perfect life through certain channels, until it returns, in a
necessary circle, back to itself."[836]

[Footnote 834: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. lxviii., lxix.]

[Footnote 835: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxx.]

[Footnote 836: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," p. 141.]

The God of the Stoics is not, however, a mere principle of life
vitalizing nature, but an _intelligent_ principle directing nature; and,
above all, a _moral_ principle, governing the human race. "God is a
living being, immortal, rational, perfect, and intellectual in his
happiness, unsusceptible of any kind of evil; having a foreknowledge of
the world, and of all that is in the world."[837] He is also the
gracious Providence which cares for the individual as well as for the
whole; and he is the author of that natural law which commands the good
and prohibits the bad. "He made men to this end that they might be
happy; as becomes his fatherly care of us, he placed our good and evil
in those things which are in our own power."[838] The Providence and
Fatherhood of God are strikingly presented in the "Hymn of Cleanthes" to

[Footnote 837: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. lxxii.]

[Footnote 838: Marcus Aurelius, bk. iii. ch. xxiv.]

     Most glorious of the immortal Powers above!
     O thou of many names! mysterious Jove:
     For evermore almighty! Nature's source!
     Thou governest all things in their order'd course!
     All hail to thee! since, innocent of blame,
     E'en mortal creatures may address thy name;
     For all that breathe, and creep the lowly earth,
     Echo thy being with reflected birth--
     Thee will I sing, thy strength for aye resound:
     The universe, that rolls this globe around,
     Moves wheresoe'er thy plastic influence guides,
     And, ductile, owns the god whose arm presides.
     The lightnings are thy ministers of ire;
     The double-forked and ever-living fire;
     In thy unconquerable hands they glow,
     And at the flash all nature quakes below.
     Thus, thunder-armed, thou dost creation draw
     To one immense, inevitable law:
     And, with the various mass of breathing souls,
     Thy power is mingled, and thy spirit rolls.
     Dread genius of creation! all things bow
     To thee: the universal monarch thou!

     Nor aught is done without thy wise control,
     On earth, or sea, or round the ethereal pole,
     Save when the wicked, in their frenzy blind,
     Act o'er the follies of a senseless mind,
     Thou curb'st th' excess; confusion, to thy sight,
     Moves regular; th' unlovely scene is bright.
     Thy hand, educing good from evil, brings
     To one apt harmony the strife of things.
     One ever-during law still binds the whole,
     Though shunned, resisted, by the sinner's soul.
     Wretches! while still they course the glittering prize
     The law of God eludes their ears and eyes.
     Life, then, were virtue, did they thus obey;
     But wide from life's chief good they headlong stray.
     Now glory's arduous toils the breast inflame;
     Now avarice thirsts, insensible of shame;
     Now sloth unnerves them in voluptuous ease,
     And the sweet pleasures of the body please.
     With eager haste they rush the gulf within,
     And their whole souls are centred in their sin.
     But, oh, great Jove! by whom all good is given!
     Dweller with lightnings and the clouds of heaven!
     Save from their dreadful error lost mankind!
     Father! disperse these shadows of the mind!
     Give them thy pure and righteous law to know;
     Wherewith thy justice governs all below.
     Thus honored by the knowledge of thy way,
     Shall men that honor to thyself repay;
     And bid thy mighty works in praises ring,
     As well befits a mortal's lips to sing:
     More blest, nor men, nor heavenly powers can be,
     Than when their songs are of thy law and thee.[839]

[Footnote 839: Sir C. A. Elton's version, published in "Specimens of
Ancient Poets," edited by William Peters, A. M., Christ Church, Oxford.]


As in the world there are two principles, the passive and the active, so
in the understanding there are two elements: a passive
element--_sensation_, and an active element--_reason_.

All knowledge commences with the phenomena of sensation (αἴσθησις). This
produces in the soul an image (φαντασία), which corresponds to the
exterior object, and which Chrysippus regarded as a modification of the
mind (ἀλλοίωσις).[840]

Associate with sensibility is thought--the faculty of general ideas--the
ὀρθὸς λόγος, or right reason, as the supreme power and the guiding light
of humanity. This active principle is of divine origin, "a part or shred
of the Divinity."

[Footnote 840: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. xxxiv.]

This "right reason," or "common reason," is the source and criterion of
all truth; "for our individual natures are all parts of the universal
nature," and, therefore, all the dictates of "common reason" are
"identical with that right reason which pervades every thing, being the
same with Jupiter, who is the regulator and chief manager of all

The fundamental canon of the logic of the Stoics, therefore, was that
"what appears to all, that is to be believed, for it is apprehended by
the reason, which is common and Divine."

It is needless to remark that the Stoics were compelled by their
physiological theory to deny the proper immortality of the soul. Some of
them seem to have supposed that it might, for a season, survive the
death of the body, but its ultimate destination was absorption into the
Divine essence. It must return to its original source.


If reason be the great organizing and controlling law of the universe,
then, to live conformable to reason is the great practical law of life.
Accordingly, the fundamental ethical maxim of the Stoics is, "Live
conformably with nature--that is, with reason, or the will of the
universal governor and manager of all things."[841] Thus the chief good
(εὐδαιμονία) is the conformity of man's actions to reason--that is, to
the will of God, "for nothing is well done without a reference to

[Footnote 841: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. liii.]

[Footnote 842: Marcus Aurelius, bk. iii. § II.]

It is obvious that this doctrine must lead to a social morality and a
jurisprudence the very opposite of the Epicurean. If we must do that
which is good--that is, that which is reasonable, regardless of all
consequences, then it is not for the pleasurable or useful results which
flow from it that justice should be practised, but because of its
intrinsic excellence. Justice is constituted good, not by the law of
man, but by the law of God. The highest pleasure is to do right; "this
very thing is the virtue of the happy man, and the perfect happiness of
life, when every thing is done according to a harmony of the genius of
each individual to the will of the Universal Governor and Manager of all
things."[843] Every thing which interferes with a purely rational
existence is to be eschewed; the pleasures and pains of the body are to
be despised. To triumph over emotion, over suffering, over passion; to
give the fullest ascendency to reason; to attain courage, moral energy,
magnanimity, constancy, was to realize true manhood, nay, "to be
godlike; for they have something in them which is, as it were, a

The sublime heroism of the Stoic school is well expressed in the manly
precept, "Ἀνεχοῦ"--_sustine_--endure. "Endure the sorrows engendered by
the bitter struggle between the passions support all the evils which
fortune shall send thee--calumny, betrayal, poverty, exile, irons, death
itself." In Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius this spirit seems to rise
almost to the grandeur of Christian resignation. "Dare to lift up thine
eyes to God and say, 'Use me hereafter to whatsoever thou pleasest. I
agree, and am of the same mind with thee, indifferent to all things.
Lead me whither thou pleasest. Let me act what part thou wilt, either of
a public or a private person, of a rich man or a beggar.'"[845] "Show
those qualities," says Marcus Aurelius, "which God hath put in thy
power--sincerity, gravity, endurance of labor, aversion to pleasure,
contentment with thy portion and with few things, benevolence,
frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from trifling,

[Footnote 843: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.
ch. liii.]

[Footnote 844: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. xliv.]

[Footnote 845: Arrian, "Diss. Epict.," bk. ii. ch. xviii.]

[Footnote 846: "I read to-day part of the 'Meditations of Marcus
Antonius' [Aurelius]. What a strange emperor! And what a strange
heathen! Giving thanks to God for all the good things he enjoyed! In
particular for his good inspirations, and for twice revealing to him, in
dreams, things wherby he was cured of (otherwise) incurable distempers.
I make no doubt but this is one of the 'many' who shall come from the
east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,' while
the 'children of the kingdom'--nominal Christians--are 'shut
out.'"--Wesley's "Journal," vol. i, p. 353.]

Amid the fearful moral degeneracy of imperial Rome, Stoicism became the
refuge of all noble spirits. But, in spite of its severity, and its
apparent triumph over the feelings, it brought no real freedom and
peace. "Stoical morality, strictly speaking, is, at bottom, only a
slavish morality, excellent in Epictetus; admirable still, but useless
to the world, in Marcus Aurelius." Pride takes the place of real
disinterestedness. It stands alone in haughty grandeur and solitary
isolation, tainted with an incurable egoism. Disheartened by its
metaphysical impotence, which robs God of all personality, and man of
all hope of immortality; defeated in its struggle to obtain purity of
soul, it sinks into despair, and often terminates, as in the case of its
two first leaders, Zeno and Cleanthes, and the two Romans, Cato and
Seneca, in self-murder. "Thus philosophy is only an apprenticeship of
death, and not of life; it tends to death by its image, _apathy_ and

[Footnote 847: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i.
p. 439.]



"Philosophy, before the coming of the Lord, was necessary to the Greeks
for righteousness, and it now proved useful for godliness, being in some
part a preliminary discipline (προπαιδεία τις οὖσα) for those who reap
the fruits of faith through demonstration. Perhaps we may say it was
given to the Greeks with this special object; for philosophy was to the
Greeks what the Law was to the Jews, 'a schoolmaster to bring them to

Philosophy, says Cousin, is the effort of _reflection_--the attempt of
the human mind to develop in systematic and logical form that which has
dimly revealed itself in the spontaneous thought of ages, and to account
to itself in some manner for its native and instinctive beliefs. We may
further add, it is the effort of the human mind to attain to truth and
certitude on purely rational grounds, uncontrolled by traditional
authorities. The sublime era of Greek philosophy was, in fact, an
independent effort of human reason to solve the great problems of
existence, of knowledge, and of duty. It was an attempt to explain the
phenomenal history of the universe, to interpret the fundamental ideas
and laws of human reason, to comprehend the utterances of conscience,
and to ascertain what Ultimate and Supreme Reality underlies the world
of phenomena, of thought, and of moral feeling.[848] And it is this
which, for us, constitutes its especial value; that it was, as far as
possible, a result of simple reason; or, if at any time Faith asserted
its authority, the distinction is clearly marked: If this inquiry was
fully, and honestly, and logically conducted, we are entitled to presume
that the results attain by this effort of speculative thought must
harmonize with the positive utterances of the Divine Logos--the Eternal
Reason, whose revelations are embalmed and transmitted to us in the Word
of God. If the great truth that man is "the _offspring of God"_ and as
such "_the image and glory of God_" which is asserted, alike, by Paul
and the poet-philosophers of Tarsus and Mysia, be admitted, then we may
expect that the reason of man shall have some correlation with the
Divine reason. The mind of man is the _chef-d'œuvre_ of Divine art. It
is fashioned after the model which the Divine nature supplies. "Let us
make man in _our_ image after _our_ likeness." That image consists in
ἐπίγνωσις--_knowledge;_ δικαιοσύνη--_justice_; and
ὁσιότης--_benevolence._ It is not merely the _capacity_ to know, to be
just, and to be beneficent; it is _actual_ knowledge, justice, and
benevolence. It supposes, first, that the fundamental ideas of the true,
the just, and the good, are connate to the human mind; second, that the
native determination of the mind is towards the realization of these
ideas in every mental state and every form of human activity; third,
that there is a constitutional sympathy of reason with the ideas of
truth, and righteousness, and goodness, as they dwell in the reason of
God. And though man be now fallen, there is still within his heart some
vestige of his primal nature. There is still a sense of the divine, a
religious aptitude, "a feeling after God," and some longing to return to
Him. There are still ideas in the reason, which, in their natural and
logical development compel him to recognize a God. There is within his
conscience a sense of duty, of obligation, and accountability to a
Superior Power--"a law of the mind," thought opposed and antagonized by
depraved passions and appetites--"the law in the members." There is yet
a natural, constitutional sympathy of reason with the law of God--"it
delights in that law," and consents "that it is good," but it is
overborne and obstructed by passion. Man, even as unregenerate, "wills
to do that which is good," but "how to perform that which is good he
finds not," and in the agony of his soul he exclaims, "Oh, wretched man
that I am, who shall deliver me!"[849]

[Footnote 848: Plato sought also to attain to the Ultimate Reality
underlying all æsthetic feeling--the Supreme Beauty as well as the
Supreme Good.]

[Footnote 849: Romans, ch. vii.]

The Author of nature is also the Author of revelation. The Eternal
Father of the Eternal Son, who is the grand medium of all God's direct
communications to our race--the revealer of God, is also "the Father of
the spirits of all flesh." That divine inbreathing which first
constituted man "a living soul"--that "inspiration of the Almighty which
giveth man understanding," and still "teacheth him knowledge," proceeds
from the same Spirit as that which inspires the prophets and seers of
the Old Testament Church, and the Apostles and teachers of the new. That
"true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" shone
on the mind of Anaxagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, as well as on the
mind of Abraham and Rahab, Cornelius and the Syro-Phoenician woman, and,
in a higher form, and with a clearer and richer effulgence, on the mind
of Moses, Isaiah, Paul and John. It is not to be wondered at, then, if,
in the teaching of Socrates and Plato, we should find a striking
_harmony_ of sentiment, and even form of expression, with some parts of
the Christian revelation. No short-sighted jealousy ought to impugn the
honesty of our judgment, if, in the speculations of Plato, we catch
glimpses of a world of ideas not unlike that which Christianity
discloses, and hear words not unfamiliar to those who spake as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost.

If, then, there exists some correlation between Divine and human reason,
and if the light which illuminates all minds in Christian and in heathen
lands is the _same_ "true light," though differing in degrees of
brightness, it is most natural and reasonable to expect some connection
and some correspondence between the discoveries of philosophy and the
revelations of the Sacred Oracles.

Although Christianity is confessedly something which is above reason and
nature--something communicated from above, and therefore in the fullest
sense supernatural and superhuman, yet it must stand in _relation_ to
reason and nature, and to their historic development; otherwise it could
not operate on man at all. "We have no knowledge of a dynamic influence,
spiritual or natural, without a dynamic reaction." Matter can only be
moved by forces, and according to laws, as it has properties which
correlate it with these forces and laws. And mind can not be determined
from without to any specific form of cognition, unless it have powers of
apprehension and conception which are governed by uniform laws. If man
is to be instructed by a verbal revelation, he must, at least, be
capacitated for the reception of divine communication--must have a power
of forming supersensuous conceptions, and there must be some original
community of thought and idea between the mind that teaches and the mind
that is taught. A revelation from an invisible God--a being "whom no man
has ever seen or ever can see" with the eye of sense--would have no
affinity for, and no power to affect and enlighten, a being who had no
presentiment of an invisible Power to which he is in some way related. A
revealed law promulgated from an unseen and utterly unknown Power would
have no constraining authority, if man had no idea of right, no sense of
duty, no feeling of obligation to a Supreme Being. If, therefore,
religious instruction be not already preceded by an innate consciousness
of God, and of obligation to God, as an operative predisposition, there
would be nothing for revelation to act upon. Some relation between the
reason which planned the universe, and which has expressed its thoughts
in the numerical relations and archetypal forms which are displayed
therein, and the reason of man, with its ideas of form and number,
proportion and harmony, is necessarily supposed in the statement of Paul
that "the invisible things of God from the creation are seen." Nature to
us could be no symbol of the Divine Thought, if there were no
correlation between the reason of man and the reason of God. All
revelation, indeed, supposes some community of nature, some affinities
of thought, some correlation of ideas, between the mind communicating
spiritual knowledge, and the mind to which the communication is made. In
approaching man, it must traverse ground already occupied by man; it
must employ phrases already employed, and assume forms of thought
already familiar to man. It must address itself to some ideas,
sentiments, and feelings already possessed by man. If religion is the
great end and destination of man, then the nature of man must be
constituted for religion. Now religion, in its inmost nature, is a
communion, a fellowship with God. But no creature can be brought into
this communion "save one that is constitutionally related to God in
terms that admit of correspondence." There must be intelligence offered
to his intelligence, sentiment to his sentiment, reason to his reason,
thought to his thought. There must be implanted in the human mind some
fundamental ideas and determinations grounded upon this fact, that the
real end and destination of man is for religion, so that when that
higher sphere of life and action is presented to man, by an outward
verbal revelation, there shall be a recognized harmony between the inner
idea and determination, and the outer revelation. We can not doubt that
such a relation between human nature and reason, and Christianity,
exists. We see evidences of this in the perpetual strivings of humanity
to attain to some fuller and clearer apprehension of that Supreme Power
which is consciously near to human thought, and in the historic
development of humanity towards those higher forms of thought and
existence which demand a revelation in order to their completion. This
original capacity, and this historical development, have unquestionably
prepared the way for the reception of Christianity.

Christianity, then, must have some connection with the reason of man,
and it must also have some relation to the progressive developments of
human thought in the ages which preceded the advent of Christ.
Christianity did not break suddenly upon the world as a new commencement
altogether unconnected with the past, and wanting in all points of
sympathy and contact with the then present. It proceeded along lines of
thought which had been laid through ages of preparation; it clothed
itself in forms of speech which had been moulded by centuries of
education, and it appropriated to itself a moral and intellectual
culture which had been effected by long periods of severest discipline.
It was, in fact, the consummation of the whole moral and religious
history of the world.

A revelation of new truths, presented in entirely new forms of thought
and speech, would have defeated its own ends, and, practically, would
have been no revelation at all. The divine light, in passing through
such a medium, would have been darkened and obscured. The lens through
which the heavenly rays are to be transmitted must first be prepared and
polished. The intellectual eye itself must be gradually accustomed to
the light. Hence it is that all revelation has been _progressive_,
commencing, in the infancy of our race, with images and symbols
addressed to sense, and advancing, with the education of the race, to
abstract conceptions and spiritual ideas. The first communications to
the patriarchs were always accompanied by some external, sensible
appearance; they were often made through some preternatural personage in
human form. Subsequently, as human thought becomes assimilated to the
Divine idea, God uses man as his organ, and communicates divine
knowledge as an internal and spiritual gift. The theistic conception of
the earliest times was therefore more or less anthropomorphic, in the
prophetic age it was unquestionably more spiritual. The education of
Hebraic, Mosaic, and prophetic ages had gradually developed a purer
theism, and prepared the Jewish mind for that sublime announcement of
our Lord's--"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in
spirit." For ages the Jews had worshipped in Samaria and Jerusalem, and
the inevitable tendency of thought was to localize the divine presence;
but the gradual withdrawment from these localities of all visible tokens
of Jehovah's presence, prepared the way for the Saviour's explicit
declaration that "neither in this mountain of Samaria, nor yet at
Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father," to the exclusion of any other
spot on earth; the real temple of the living God is now the heart of
man. The _Holiness_ of God was an idea too lofty for human thought to
grasp at once. The light of God's ineffable purity was too bright and
dazzling to burst at once on human eyes. Therefore it was gradually
displayed. The election of a chosen seed in Abraham's race to a nearer
approach to God than the rest of pagan humanity; the announcement of the
Decalogue at Sinai amidst awe-inspiring wonders; the separation of a
single tribe to the priestly office, who were dedicated to, and purified
in an especial manner for the service of the tabernacle; the
sanctification of the High-priest by sacrifice and lustration before he
dared to enter "the holiest place"--the presence-chamber of Jehovah: and
then the direct and explicit teaching of the prophets--were all
advancing steps by which the Jewish mind was lifted up to the clearer
apprehension of the holiness of God, the impurity of man, the distance
of man from God, and the need of Mediation.

The ideas of _Redemption_ and _Salvation_--of atonement, expiation,
pardon, adoption, and regeneration--are unique and _sui-generis_. Before
these conceptions could be presented in the fullness and maturity of the
Christian system, there was needed the culture and education of the ages
of Mosaic ritualism, with its sacrificial system, its rights of
purification, its priestly absolution, and its family of God.[850]
Redemption itself, as an economy, is a development, and has
consequently, a history--a history which had its commencement in the
first Eden, and which shall have its consummation in the second Eden of
a regenerated world. It was germinally infolded in the first promise,
gradually unfolded in successive types and prophecies, more fully
developed in the life, and sayings, and sufferings of the Son of God,
and its ripened fruit is presented to the eye of faith in the closing
scenic representations of the grand Apocalypse of John. "Judaism was not
given as a perfect religion. Whatever may have been its superiority over
surrounding forms of worship, it was, notwithstanding, a provisional
form only. The consciousness that it was a preparatory, and not a
definite dispensation, is evident throughout. It points to an end beyond
itself, suggests a grander thought than any in itself; its glory
precisely consists in its constant looking forward to a glorious future
destined to surpass it."[851]

[Footnote 850: Romans, IX 4-6.]

[Footnote 851: Pressensé, "Religions before Christ," p. 202.]

Thus the determinations which, through Redemption, fall to the lot of
history, as Nitzsch justly remarks, obey the emancipating law of
_gradual progress_.[852] Christianity was preceded by ages of
preparation, in which we have a gradual development of religious phrases
and ideas, of forms of social life and intellectual culture, and of
national and political institutions most favorable to its advent and its
promulgation; and "in the fullness of time"--the maturity and fitness of
the age--"God sent his own Son into the world."

[Footnote 852: "System of Doctrine," p. 73.]

This work of preparation was not confined alone to Judaism. The divine
plan of redemption comprehended all the race; its provisions are made in
view of the wants of all the race; and we must therefore believe that
the entire history of the race, previous to the coming of the Redeemer,
was under a divine supervision, and directed towards the grand centre of
our world's history. Greek philosophy and Grecian civilization must
therefore have a place in the divine plan of history, and they must
stand in an important relation to Christianity. He who "determined the
time of each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical boundaries
of their habitation in order that they may seek the Lord," can not have
been unmindful of the Greek nation, and of its grandest age of
philosophy. "The Father of the spirits of all flesh" could not be
unconcerned in the moral and spiritual welfare of any of his children.
He was as deeply interested in the Athenian as in the Hebrew. He is the
God of the Gentile as well as the Jew. His tender mercies are over all
his works. If the Hebrew race was selected to be the agent of his
providence in one special field, and if the Jewish theocracy was one
grand instrument of preparatory discipline, it was simply because,
through these, God designed to bless all the nations of the earth. And
surely no one will presume to say that a civilization and an
intellectual culture which was second only to the Hebrew, and, in some
of its aspects, even in advance of the Hebrew, was not determined and
supervised by Divine Providence, and made subservient to the education
and development of the whole race. The grand results of Hebrew
civilization were appropriated and assimilated by Christianity, and
remain to this day. And no one can deny that the same is true of Greek
civilization. Through a kind of historic preparation the heathen world
was made ready for Christ, as a soil is prepared to receive the seed,
and some precious fruits of knowledge, of truth, and of righteousness,
even, were largely matured, which have been reaped, and appropriated,
and vitalized by the heaven-descended life of Christianity.

The chief points of excellence in the civilization of the Greeks are
strikingly obvious, and may be readily presented. High perfection of the
intellect and the imagination displaying itself in the various forms of
art, poetry, literature, and philosophy. A wonderful freedom and
activity of body and of mind, developed in trade, and colonization, in
military achievement, and in subtile dialectics. A striking love of the
beautiful, revealing itself in their sculpture and architecture, in the
free music of prosaic numbers, and the graceful movement and measure of
their poetry. A quickness of perception, a dignity of demeanor, a
refinement of taste, a delicacy of moral sense, and a high degree of
reverence for the divine in nature and humanity. And, in general, a ripe
and all-pervading culture, which has made Athens a synonym for all that
is greatest and best in the genius of man; so that literature, in its
most flourishing periods has rekindled its torch at her altars, and art
has looked back to the age of Pericles for her purest models.[853] All
these enter into the very idea of Greek civilization. We can not resist
the conviction that, by a Divine Providence, it was made subservient to
the purpose of Redemption; it prepared the way for, and contributed to,
the spread of the Gospel.

[Footnote 853: In Lord Brougham's celebrated letter to the father of the
historian Macaulay in regard to the education of the latter, we read:
"If he would be a great orator, he must go at once to the fountain-head,
and be familiar with every one of the great orations of Demosthenes....
I know from experience that nothing is half so successful in these times
(bad though they be) as what has been formed on the Greek models. I use
poor illustrations in giving my own experience, but I do assure you that
both in courts and Parliament, and even to mobs, I have never made so
much play (to use a very modern phrase) as when I was almost translating
from the Greek. I composed the peroration of my speech for the Queen, in
the Lords, after reading and repeating Demosthenes for three or four

Its subserviency to this grand purpose is seen in the Greek tendency to
trade and colonization. Their mental activity was accompanied by great
physical freedom of movement. They displayed an inherent disposition to
extensive emigration. "Without aiming at universal conquest, they
developed (if we may use the word) a remarkable catholicity of
character, and a singular power of adaptation to those whom they called
Barbarians. In this respect they were strongly contrasted with the
Egyptians, whose immemorial civilization was confined to the long valley
which extended from the cataracts to the mouth of the Nile. The Hellenic
tribes, on the other hand, though they despised the foreigners, were
never unwilling to visit them and to cultivate their acquaintance. At
the earliest period at which history enables us to discover them, we see
them moving about in their ships on the shores and among the islands of
their native seas; and, three or four centuries before the Christian
era, Asia Minor, beyond which the Persians had not been permitted to
advance, was bordered by a fringe of Greek colonies; and lower Italy,
when the Roman Republic was just becoming conscious of its strength, had
received the name of Greece itself. To all these places they carried
their arts and literature, their philosophy, their mythology, and their
amusements.... They were gradually taking the place of the Phœnicians in
the empire of the Mediterranean. They were, indeed, less exclusively
mercantile than those old discoverers. Their voyages were not so long.
But their influence on general civilization was greater and more
permanent. The earliest ideas of scientific navigation and geography are
due to the Greeks. The later Greek travellers, Pausanias and Strabo, are
our best sources of information on the topography of St. Paul's

"With this view of the Hellenic character before us, we are prepared to
appreciate the vast results of Alexander's conquests. He took the meshes
of the net of Greek civilization which were lying in disorder on the
edge of the Asiatic shore, and spread them over all the countries he
traversed in his wonderful campaigns. The East and the West were
suddenly brought together. Separate tribes were united under a common
government. New cities were built as the centres of political life. New
lines of communication were opened as the channels of commercial
activity. The new culture penetrated the mountain ranges of Pisidia and
Lycaonia. The Tigris and Euphrates became Greek rivers. The language of
Athens was heard among the Jewish colonies of Babylonia, and a Grecian
Babylon was built by the conqueror in Egypt, and called by his name.

"The empire of Alexander was divided, but the effects of his campaigns
and policy did not cease. The influence of these fresh elements of
social life was rather increased by being brought into independent
action within the sphere of distinct kingdoms. Our attention is
particularly directed to two of the monarchical lines which descended
from Alexander's generals--the Ptolemies, or the Greek kings of Egypt,
and the Seleucidæ, or the Greek kings of Syria. Their respective
capitals, Alexandria and Antioch, became the metropolitan centres of
commercial and civilized life in the East."[854] Antioch was for ages
the home of science and philosophy. Here the religious opinions of the
East and the West were blended and mutually modified. Here it was
discovered by the heathen mind that a new religion had appeared, and a
new revelation had been given.[855] In Alexandria all nations were
invited to exchange their commodities and, with equal freedom, their
opinions. The representatives of all religions met here. "Beside the
Temple of Jupiter there rose the white marble Temple of Serapis, and
close at hand stood the synagogue of the Jews." The Alexandrian library
contained all the treasures of ancient culture, and even a copy of the
Hebrew Scriptures.

[Footnote 854: Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul,"
vol. i. pp. 8-10.]

[Footnote 855: Acts, xi. 26.]

The spread of the Greek _language_ was one of the most important
services which the cities of Antioch and Alexandria rendered to
Christianity. The Greek tongue is intimately connected with the whole
system of Christian doctrine.

This language, which, in symmetry of structure, in flexibility and
compass of expression, in exactness and precision, in grace and
elegance, exceeds every other language, became the language of theology.
Next in importance to the inspiration which communicates the superhuman
thought, must be the gradual development of the language in which the
thought can clothe itself. That development by which the Greek language
became the adequate vehicle of Divine thought, the perfect medium of the
mature revelation of truth contained in the Christian Scriptures, must
be regarded as the subject of a Divine providence. Christianity waited
for that development, and it awaited Christianity. "The Greek tongue
became to the Christian more than it had been to the Roman or the Jew.
The mother-tongue of Ignatius at Antioch was that in which Philo
composed his treatises at Alexandria, and which Cicero spoke at Athens.
It is difficult to state in a few words the important relation which
Alexandria, more especially, was destined to bear to the whole Christian
Church." In that city, the Old Testament was translated into Greek;
there the writings of Plato were diligently studied; there Philo, the
Platonizing Jew, had sought to blend into one system the teachings of
the Old Testament theology and the dialectic speculations of Plato.
Numenius learns of Philo, and Plotinus of Numenius, and the ecstasy of
Plotinus is the development of Philo's intuitions. A _theological
language_ by this means was developed, rich in the phrases of various
schools, and suited to convey the spiritual revelation of Christian
ideas to all the world. "It was not an accident that the New Testament
was written in Greek, the language which can best express the highest
thoughts and worthiest feelings of the intellect and heart, and which is
adapted to be the instrument of education for all nations; nor was it an
accident that the composition of these books and the promulgation of the
Gospels were delayed till the instruction of our Lord, and the writings
of his Apostles could be expressed in the dialect [of Athens and] of
Alexandria."[856] This must be ascribed to the foreordination of Him
who, in the history of nations and of civilizations, "worketh all things
according to the counsel of his own will."

[Footnote 856: Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul,"
vol. i. p. 10.]

Now it is the doctrine of the best philologists that language is a
_growth_. Gradually, and by combined efforts of successive generations,
it has been brought to the perfection which we so much admire in the
idioms of the Bible, the poetry of Homer, Dante, and Shakspeare, and the
prose compositions of Demosthenes, Cicero, Johnson, and Macaulay. The
material or root-element of language may have been the product of mental
instinct, or perhaps the immediate gift of God by revelation; but the
formal element must have been the creation of thought, and the result of
rational combination. Language is really the incarnation of thought;
consequently the growth of a language, its affluence, comprehension, and
fullness must depend on the vigor and activity of thought, and the
acquisition of general ideas. Language is thus the best index of
intellectual progress, the best standard of the intellectual attainment
of an age or nation. The language of barbaric tribes is exceedingly
simple and meagre; the paucity of general terms clearly indicating the
absence of all attempts at classification and all speculative thought.
Whilst the language of educated peoples is characterized by great
fullness and affluence of terms, especially such as are expressive of
general notions and abstract ideas. All grammar, all philology, all
scientific nomenclature are thus, in fact, _psychological deposits_,
which register the progressive advancement of human thought and
knowledge in the world of mind, as the geological strata bear testimony
to the progressive development of the material world. "Language," says
Trench, "is fossil poetry, fossil history," and, we will add, fossil
philosophy. Many a single word is a concentrated poem. The record of
great social and national revolutions is embalmed in a single term.[857]
And the history of an age of philosophic thought is sometimes condensed
and deposited in one imperishable word.[858]

[Footnote 857: See Trench "On the Study of Words," p. 20, where the word
"frank" is given as an illustration.]

[Footnote 858: For example, the κόσμος of the Pythagoreans, the εὶδη of
the Platonists, and the ἀταραξία of the Stoics.]

If, then, language is the creation of thought, the sensible vesture with
which it clothes itself, and becomes, as it were, incarnate--if the
perfection and efficiency of language depends on the maturity and
clearness of thought, we conclude that the wonderful adequacy and
fitness of the Greek language to be the vehicle of the Divine thought,
the medium of the most perfect revelation of God to men, can only be
explained on the assumption that the ages of philosophic thought which,
in Greece, preceded the advent of Christianity, were under the immediate
supervision of a providence, and, in some degree, illuminated by the
Spirit of God.

Greek philosophy must therefore have fulfilled a propædeutic office for
Christianity. "As it had been intrusted to the Hebrews to preserve and
transmit the heaven-derived element of the Monotheistic religion, so it
was ordained that, among the Greeks, all seeds of human culture should
unfold themselves in beautiful harmony, and then Christianity, taking up
the opposition between the divine and human, was to unite both in one,
and show how it was necessary that both should co-operate to prepare for
the appearance of itself and the unfolding of what it contains."[859]
During the period of Greek philosophy which preceded the coming of
Christ, human reason, unfolding itself from beneath, had aspired after
that knowledge of divine things which is from above. It had felt within
itself the deep-seated consciousness of God--the sporadic revelation of
Him "who is not far from any one of us"--the immanent thought of that
Being "in whom we live and move and are," and it had striven by analysis
and definition to attain a more distinct and logical apprehension. The
heart of man had been stirred with "the feeling after God"--the longing
for a clearer sense of the divine, and had struggled to attain, by
abstraction or by ecstasy, a more immediate communion with God. Man had
been conscious of an imperative obligation to conform to the will of the
great Supreme, and he sought to interpret more clearly the utterances of
conscience as to what duty was. He had felt the sense of sin and guilt,
and had endeavored to appease his conscience by expiatory offerings, and
to deliver himself from the power of sin by intellectual culture and
moral discipline. And surely no one, at all familiar with the history of
that interesting epoch in the development of humanity, will have the
hardihood to assert that no steps were taken in the right direction, and
no progress made towards the distant goal of human desire and hope. The
language, the philosophy, the ideals of moral beauty and excellence, the
noble lives and nobler utterances of the men who stand forth in history
as the representatives of Greek civilization, all attest that their
noble aspiration and effort did not end in ignominious failure and utter
defeat. It is true they fell greatly beneath the realization of even
their own moral ideals, and they became painfully conscious of their
moral weakness, as men do even in Christian times. They learned that,
neither by intellectual abstraction, nor by ecstasy of feeling, could
they lift themselves to a living, conscious fellowship with God. The
sense of guilt was unrelieved by expiations, penances, and prayers. And
whilst some cultivated a proud indifference, a Stoical apathy, and
others sank down to Epicurean ease and pleasure, there was a noble few
who longed and hoped with increasing ardor for a living Redeemer, a
personal Mediator, who should "stand between God and man and lay his
hand on both." Christ became in some dim consciousness "the Desire of
Nations," and the Moral Law became even to the Greek as well as the Jew
"a school-master to lead them to Him."

[Footnote 859: Neander's "Church History," vol. i. p. 4.]

The arrival of Paul at Athens, in the close of this brilliant period of
Greek philosophy, now assumes an aspect of deeper interest and
profounder significance. It was a grand climacteric in the life of
humanity--an epoch in the moral and religious history of the world. It
marked the consummation of a periodic dispensation, and it opened a new
era in that wonderful progression through which an overruling Providence
is carrying the human race. As the coming of the Son of God to Judea in
the ripeness of events--"the fullness of time"--was the consummation of
the Jewish dispensation, and the event for which the Jewish age had been
a preparatory discipline, so the coming of a Christian teacher to
Athens, in the person of "the Apostle of the Gentiles," was the
_terminus ad quem_ towards which all the phases in the past history of
philosophic thought had looked, and for which they had prepared.
Christianity was brought to Athens--brought into contact with Grecian
philosophy at the moment of its exhaustion--at the moment when, after
ages of unwearied effort, it had become conscious of its weakness, and
its comparative failure, and had abandoned many questions in despair.
Greek philosophy had therefore its place in the plan of Divine
Providence. It had a mission to the world; that mission was now
fulfilled. If it had laid any foundation in the Athenian mind on which
the Christian system could plant its higher truths--if it had raised up
into the clearer light of consciousness any of those _ideas_ imbedded in
the human reason which are germane to Christian truth--if it had
revealed more fully the wants and instincts of the human heart, or if it
had attained the least knowledge of eternal truth and immutable right,
upon this Christianity placed its _imprimatur_. And at those points
where human reason had been made conscious of its own inefficiency, and
compelled to own its weakness and its failure, Christianity shed an
effulgent and convincing light.

Therefore the preparatory office of Greek religion and Greek philosophy
is fully recognized by Paul in his address to the Athenians. He begins
by saying that the observations he had made enabled him to bear witness
that the Athenians were indeed, in every respect, "a God-fearing
people;"--that the God whom they knew so imperfectly as to designate Him
"the Unknown," but whom "they worshipped," was the God he worshipped,
and would now more fully declare to them. He assures them that their
past history, and their present geographical position, had been the
object of Divine foreknowledge and determination. "He hath determined
beforehand the times of each nation's existence, and fixed the
geographical boundaries of their habitation," all with this specific
design, that they might "seek after," "feel after," and "find the Lord,"
who had never been far from any one of them. He admits that their
poet-philosophers had risen to a lofty apprehension of "the Fatherhood
of God," for they had taught that "we are all his offspring;" and he
seems to have felt that in asserting the common brotherhood of our race,
he would strike a chord of sympathy in the loftiest school of Gentile
philosophy. He thus "recognized the Spirit of God brooding over the face
of heathenism, and fructifying the spiritual element in the heart even
of the natural man. He feels that in these human principles there were
some faint adumbrations of the divine, and he looked for their firmer
delineation to the figure of that gracious Master, higher and holier
than man, whom he contemplated in his own imagination, and whom he was
about to present to them."[860]

[Footnote 860: Merivale's "Conversion of the Roman Empire," p. 78.]

This function of ancient philosophy is distinctly recognized by many of
the greatest of the Fathers, as Justin, Clement, Origen, Augustine, and
Theodoret. Justin Martyr believed that a ray of the Divine Logos shone
on the mind of the heathen, and that the human soul instinctively turned
towards God as the plant turns towards the sun. "Every race of men
participated in the Word. And they who lived with the Word were
Christians, even if they were held to be godless; as, for example, among
the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and those like them."[861] Clement
taught that "philosophy, before the coming of the Lord, was necessary to
the Greeks for righteousness; and now it proved useful for godliness,
being a sort of preliminary discipline for those who reap the fruits of
faith through demonstration.... Perhaps we may say that it was given to
the Greeks with this special object, for it brought the Greek nation to
Christ as the Law brought the Hebrews."[862] "Philosophy was given as a
peculiar testament to the Greeks, as forming the basis of the Christian
philosophy."[863] Referring to the words of Paul, Origen says, the
truths which philosophers taught were from God, for "God manifested
these to them, and all things that have been nobly said."[864] And
Augustine, whilst deprecating the extravagant claims made for the great
Gentile teachers, allows "that some of them made great discoveries, so
far as they received help from heaven; whilst they erred as far as they
were hindered by human frailty."[865] They had, as he elsewhere
observes, "a distant vision of the truth, and learnt, from the teaching
of nature, what prophets learnt from the spirit."[866] In addressing the
Greeks, Theodoret says, "Obey your own philosophers; let them be your
initiators; for they announced beforehand our doctrines." He held that
"in the depths of human nature there are characters inscribed by the
hand of God." And that "if the race of Abraham received the divine law,
and the gift of prophecy, the God of the universe led other nations to
piety by natural revelation, and the spectacle of nature."[867]

[Footnote 861: "First Apology," ch. xlvi.]

[Footnote 862: "Stromata," bk. i. ch. v.]

[Footnote 863: "Stromata," bk. vi. ch. viii.]

[Footnote 864: "Contra Celsum," bk. vi. ch. iii.]

[Footnote 865: "De Civitate Dei," bk. ii. ch. vii.]

[Footnote 866: Sermon lxviii. 3.]

[Footnote 867: See Smith's "Bible Dictionary," article "Philosophy;"
Pressensé, "Religions before Christ," p. II; Butler's "Lectures on
Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. pp. 28-40.]

In attempting to account for this partial harmony between Philosophy and
Revelation, we find the Patristic writers adopting different theories.
They are generally agreed in maintaining some original connection, but
they differ as to its immediate source. Some of them maintained that the
ancient philosophers derived their purest light from the fountain of
Divine Revelation. The doctrines of the Old Testament Scripture