By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Initiation philosophique. English - Initiation into Philosophy
Author: Faguet, Émile, 1847-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Initiation philosophique. English - Initiation into Philosophy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


By Émile Faguet

Of the French Academy

Author of "The Cult Of Incompetence,"
"Initiation Into Literature," etc.

Translated from the French by Sir Homer Gordon, Bart.



This volume, as indicated by the title, is designed to show the way to the
beginner, to satisfy and more especially to excite his initial
curiosity. It affords an adequate idea of the march of facts and of
ideas. The reader is led, somewhat rapidly, from the remote origins to the
most recent efforts of the human mind.

It should be a convenient repertory to which the mind may revert in order
to see broadly the general opinion of an epoch--and what connected it with
those that followed or preceded it. It aims above all at being _a
frame_ in which can conveniently be inscribed, in the course of further
studies, new conceptions more detailed and more thoroughly examined.

It will have fulfilled its design should it incite to research and
meditation, and if it prepares for them correctly.





Philosophical Interpreters of the Universe,
of the Creation and Constitution of the World.


Logicians and Professors of Logic,
and of the Analysis of Ideas, and of Discussion.


Philosophy Entirely Reduced to Morality, and Morality
Considered as the End of all Intellectual Activity.


Plato, like Socrates, is Pre-eminently a Moralist, but
he Reverts to General Consideration of the Universe,
and Deals with Politics and Legislation.


A Man of Encyclopaedic Learning; as Philosopher,
more especially Moralist and Logician.


The Development in Various Schools of the General
Ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.


Epicureanism Believes that the Duty of Man is to
seek Happiness, and that Happiness Consists in Wisdom.


The Passions are Diseases which can and must be Extirpated.


Philosophers who Wished to Belong to No School.
Philosophers who Decried All Schools and All Doctrines.


Reversion to Metaphysics. Imaginative Metaphysicians
after the Manner of Plato, but in Excess.


Philosophic Ideas which Christianity Welcomed, Adopted, or Created;
How it must Give a Fresh Aspect to All Philosophy,
even that Foreign to Itself.



Philosophy is only an Interpreter of Dogma. When it is Declared Contrary to
Dogma by the Authority of Religion, it is a Heresy. Orthodox and Heterodox
Interpretations. Some Independent Philosophers.


Influence of Aristotle. His Adoption by the Church.
Religious Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Decadence of Scholasticism. Forebodings of the Coming Era.
Great Moralists. The Kabbala. Sorcery.


It Is Fairly Accurate to Consider that from the Point of View
of Philosophy, the Middle Ages Lasted until Descartes.
Free-thinkers More or Less Disguised.
Partisans of Reason Apart from Faith, of Observation, and of Experiment.



Descartes. Cartesianism.


All the Seventeenth Century was under the Influence of Descartes.
Port-Royal, Bossuet, Fénelon, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibnitz.


Locke: His Ideas on Human Liberty, Morality,
General Politics, and Religious Politics.


Berkeley: A Highly Idealist Philosophy
which Regarded Matter as Non-existent.
David Hume: Sceptical Philosophy.
The Scottish School: Philosophy of Common Sense.


Voltaire a Disciple of Locke.
Rousseau a Free-thinking Christian, but deeply Imbued
with Religious Sentiments.
Diderot a Capricious Materialist.
D'Holbach and Helvetius Avowed Materialists.
Condillac a Philosopher of Sensations.


Kant Reconstructed all Philosophy by Supporting it on Morality.


The Great Reconstructors of the World,
Analogous to the First Philosophers of Antiquity.
Great General Systems, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, etc.


The Doctrines of Evolution and of Transformism:
Lamarck (French), Darwin, Spencer.


The Eclectic School: Victor Cousin.
The Positivist School: Auguste Comte.
The Kantist School: Renouvier.
Independent and Complex Positivists: Taine, Renan.







Philosophical Interpreters of the Universe, of the Creation
and Constitution of the World.

PHILOSOPHY.--The aim of philosophy is to seek the explanation of all
things: the quest is for the first _causes_ of everything, and also
_how_ all things are, and finally _why_, with what design, with a
view to what, things are. That is why, taking "principle" in all the senses
of the word, it has been called the science of first principles.

Philosophy has always existed. Religions--all religions--are
philosophies. They are indeed the most complete. But, apart from religions,
men have sought the causes and principles of everything and endeavoured to
acquire general ideas. These researches apart from religious dogmas in
pagan antiquity are the only ones with which we are here to be concerned.

THE IONIAN SCHOOL: THALES.--The Ionian School is the most ancient
school of philosophy known. It dates back to the seventh century before
Christ. Thales of Miletus, a natural philosopher and astronomer, as we
should describe him, believed matter--namely, that of which all things and
all beings are made--to be in perpetual transformation, and that these
transformations are produced by powerful beings attached to every portion
of matter. These powerful beings were gods. Everything, therefore, was full
of gods. His philosophy was a mythology. He also thought that the
essential element of matter was water, and that it was water, under the
influence of the gods, which transformed itself into earth, air, and fire,
whilst from water, earth, air, and fire came everything that is in nature.

ANAXIMANDER; HERACLITUS.--Anaximander of Miletus, an astronomer
also, and a geographer, believed that the principle of all things is
_indeterminate_--a kind of chaos wherein nothing has form or shape;
that from chaos come things and beings, and that they return thither in
order to emerge again. One of his particular theories was that fish were
the most ancient of animals, and that all animals had issued from them
through successive transformations. This theory was revived for a while
about fifty years ago.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (very obscure, and with this epithet attached
permanently to his name) saw all things as a perpetual growth--in an
indefinite state of becoming. Nothing is; all things grow and are destined
to eternal growth. Behind them, nevertheless, there is an eternal master
who does not change. It is our duty to resemble him as much as we can; that
is to say, as much as an ape can resemble a man. Calmness is imperative: to
be as motionless as transient beings can. The popular legend runs that
Heraclitus "always wept"; what is known of him only tends to prove that he
was grave, and did not favour emotionalism.

ANAXAGORAS; EMPEDOCLES.--Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, above all else a
natural philosopher, settled at Athens about 470 B.C.; was the master and
friend of Pericles; was on the point of being put to death, as Socrates was
later on, for the crime of indifference towards the religion of the
Athenians, and had to take refuge at Lampsacus, where he died. Like
Anaximander, he believed that everything emerged from something
indeterminate and confused; but he added that what caused the emergence
from that state was the organizing intelligence, the Mind, just as in man,
it is the intelligence which draws thought from cerebral undulations, and
forms a clear idea out of a confused idea. Anaxagoras exerted an almost
incomparable influence over Greek philosophy of the classical times.

Empedocles of Agrigentum, a sort of magician and high-priest, almost a
deity, whose life and death are but little known, appears to have possessed
an encyclopaedic brain. From him is derived the doctrine of the four
elements, for whereas the philosophers who preceded him gave as the sole
source of things--some water, others air, others fire, others the earth, he
regarded them all four equally as the primal elements of everything. He
believed that the world is swayed by two contrary forces--love and hate,
the one desiring eternally to unite, the other eternally to
disintegrate. Amid this struggle goes on a movement of organization,
incessantly retarded by hate, perpetually facilitated by love; and from
this movement have issued--first, vegetation, then the lower animals, then
the higher animals, then men. In Empedocles can be found either evident
traces of the religion of Zoroaster of Persia (the perpetual antagonism of
two great gods, that of good and that of evil), or else a curious
coincidence with this doctrine, which will appear again later among the

PYTHAGORAS.--Pythagoras appears to have been born about B.C. 500 on
the Isle of Elea, to have travelled much, and to have finally settled in
Greater Greece (southern Italy). Pythagoras, like Empedocles, was a sort
of magician or god. His doctrine was a religion, the respect with which he
was surrounded was a cult, the observances he imposed on his family and on
his disciples were rites. What he taught was that the true realities, which
do not change, were numbers. The fundamental and supreme reality is
_one_; the being who is one is God; from this number, which is one,
are derived all the other numbers which are the foundation of beings, their
inward cause, their essence; we are all more or less perfect numbers; each
created thing is a more or less perfect number. The world, governed thus by
combinations of numbers, has always existed and will always exist. It
develops itself, however, according to a numerical series of which we do
not possess the key, but which we can guess. As for human destiny it is
this: we have been animated beings, human or animal; according as we have
lived well or ill we shall be reincarnated either as superior men or as
animals more or less inferior. This is the doctrine of _metempsychosis_,
which had many adherents in ancient days, and also in a more or less
fanciful fashion in modern times.

To Pythagoras have been attributed a certain number of maxims which are
called the _Golden Verses_.

XENOPHANES; PARMENIDES.--Xenophanes of Colophon is also a
"unitarian." He accepts only one God, and of all the ancient philosophers
appears to be the most opposed to mythology, to belief in a multiplicity of
gods resembling men, a doctrine which he despises as being immoral. There
is one God, eternal, immutable, immovable, who has no need to transfer
Himself from one locality to another, who is _without place_, and who
governs all things by His thought alone.

Advancing further, Parmenides told himself that if He alone really exists
who is one and eternal and unchangeable, all else is not only inferior to
Him, but is only a _semblance_, and that mankind, earth, sky, plants,
and animals are only a vast illusion--phantoms, a mirage, which would
disappear, which would no longer exist, and _would never have existed_
if we could perceive the Self-existent.

ZENO; DEMOCRITUS.--Zeno of Elea, who must be mentioned more
especially because he was the master of that Gorgias of whom Socrates was
the adversary, was pre-eminently a subtle dialectician in whom the sophist
already made his appearance, and who embarrassed the Athenians by captious
arguments, at the bottom of which always could be found this fundamental
principle: apart from the Eternal Being all is only semblance; apart from
Him who is all, all is nothing.

Democritus of Abdera, disciple of Leucippus of Abdera (about whom nothing
is known), is the inventor of the theory of atoms. Matter is composed of an
infinite number of tiny indivisible bodies which are called atoms; these
atoms from all eternity, or at least since the commencement of matter, have
been endued with certain movements by which they attach themselves to one
another, and agglomerate or separate, and thence is caused the formation of
all things, and the destruction, which is only the disintegration, of all
things. The soul itself is only an aggregation of specially tenuous and
subtle atoms. It is probable that when a certain number of these atoms quit
the body, sleep ensues; that when nearly all depart, it causes the
appearance of death (lethargy, catalepsy); that when they all depart, death
occurs. We are brought into relation with the external world by the advent
in us of extremely subtle atoms--reflections of things, semblances of
things--which enter and mingle with the constituent atoms of our
souls. There is nothing in our intelligence which has not been brought
there by our senses, and our intelligence is only the combination of the
atoms composing our souls with the atoms that external matter sends, so to
speak, into our souls. The doctrines of Democritus will be found again in
those of Epicurus and Lucretius.



Logicians and Professors of Logic, and of the Analysis of
Ideas, and of Discussion.

DOCTRINES OF THE SOPHISTS.--The Sophists descend from Parmenides and
Zeno of Elea; Gorgias was the disciple of the latter. By dint of thinking
that all is semblance save the Supreme Being, who alone is real, it is very
easy to arrive at belief in all being semblance, including that Being; or
at least what is almost tantamount, that all is semblance, inclusive of any
idea we can possibly conceive of the Supreme Being. To believe nothing, and
to demonstrate that there is no reason to believe in anything, is the
cardinal principle of all the Sophists. Then, it may be suggested, there is
nothing for it but to be silent. No, there is the cultivation of one's
mind (the only thing of the existence of which we are sure), so as to give
it ability, readiness, and strength. With what object? To become a
dexterous thinker, which in itself is a fine thing; to be also a man of
consideration, listened to in one's city, and to arrive at its government.

The Sophists accordingly gave lessons, especially in psychology,
dialectics, and eloquence. They further taught philosophy, but in order to
demonstrate that all philosophy is false; and, as Pascal observed later,
that to ridicule philosophy is truly philosophical. They seem to have been
extremely intellectual, very learned, and most serious despite their
scepticism, and to have rendered Greece the very great service of making a
penetrating analysis--the first recorded--of our faculty of knowledge and
of the limitations, real, possible, or probable, of that faculty.

PROTAGORAS; GORGIAS; PRODICUS.--They were very numerous, the taste
for their art, which might be called philosophical criticism, being
widespread in Attica. It may be believed, as Plato maintains, that some
were of very mediocre capacity, and this is natural; but there were also
some who clearly were eminent authorities. The most illustrious were
Protagoras, Gorgias, and Prodicus of Ceos. Protagoras seems to have been
the most philosophical of them all, Gorgias the best orator and the chief
professor of rhetoric, Prodicus the most eminent moralist and poet.
Protagoras rejected all metaphysics--that is, all investigation of first
causes and of the universe--and reduced all philosophy to the science of
self-control with a view to happiness, and control of others with a view to
their happiness. Like Anaxagoras, he was banished from the city under the
charge of impiety, and his books were publicly burnt.

Gorgias appears to have maintained the same ideas with more moderation and
also with less profundity. He claimed, above all, to be able to make a good
orator. According to Plato, it was he whom Socrates most persistently made
the butt of his sarcasms.

Prodicus, whom Plato himself esteemed, appears to have been principally
preoccupied with the moral problem. He was the author of the famous
apologue which represented Hercules having to choose between two paths, the
one being that of virtue, the other of pleasure. Like Socrates later on, he
too was subject to the terrible accusation of impiety, and underwent
capital punishment. The Sophists furnish the most important epoch in the
history of ancient philosophy; until their advent the philosophic systems
were great poems on the total of all things, known and unknown. The
Sophists opposed these ambitious and precipitate generalizations, in which
imagination had the larger share, and their discovery was to bring
philosophy back to its true starting point by affirming that the first
thing to do, and that before all else, was to know our own mind and its
mechanism. Their error possibly was, while saying that it was the first
thing to do, too often to affirm that it was the only thing to do; still
the fact remains that they were perfectly accurate in their assurance that
it was primary.



Philosophy Entirely Reduced to Morality, and Morality
Considered as the End of all Intellectual Activity.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF SOCRATES.--Of Socrates nothing is known except
that he was born at Athens, that he held many public discussions with all
and sundry in the streets of Athens, and that he died under the Thirty
Tyrants. Of his ideas we know nothing, because he wrote nothing, and
because his disciples were far too intelligent; in consequence of which it
is impossible to know if what they said was thought by him, had really been
his ideas or theirs. What seems certain is that neither Aristophanes nor
the judges at the trial of Socrates were completely deceived in considering
him a Sophist; for he proceeded from them. It is true he proceeded from
them by reaction, because evidently their universal scepticism had
terrified him; but nevertheless he was their direct outcome, for like them
he was extremely mistrustful of the old vast systems of philosophy, and to
those men who pretended to know everything he opposed a phrase which is
probably authentic: "I know that I know nothing;" for, like the Sophists,
he wished to recall philosophy to earth from heaven, namely from
metaphysics to the study of man, and nothing else; for, like the Sophists,
he confined and limited the field with a kind of severe and imperious
modesty which was none the less contemptuous of the audacious; for,
finally, like the Sophists, but in this highly analogous to many
philosophers preceding the Sophists, he had but a very moderate and
mitigated respect for the religion of his fellow-citizens.

According to what we know of Socrates from Xenophon, unquestionably the
least imaginative of his disciples, Socrates, like the Sophists, reduced
philosophy to the study of man; but his great and incomparable originality
lay in the fact that whereas the Sophists wished man to study himself in
order to be happy, Socrates wished him to study himself in order to be
moral, honest, and just, without any regard to happiness. For Socrates,
everything had to tend towards morality, to contribute to it, and to be
subordinated to it as the goal and as the final aim. He applied himself
unceasingly, relates Xenophon, to examine and to determine what is good and
evil, just and unjust, wise and foolish, brave and cowardly, etc. He
incessantly applied himself, relates Aristotle--and therein he was as much
a true professor of rhetoric as of morality--thoroughly to define and
carefully to specify the meaning of words in order not to be put off with
vague terms which are illusions of thought, and in order to discipline his
mind rigorously so as to make it an organ for the ascertainment of truth.

HIS METHOD.--He had dialectical methods, "the art of conferring," as
Montaigne called it, more or less happy, which he had probably borrowed
from the Sophists, that contributed to cause him to be considered one of
them, and exercised a wide vogue long after him. He "delivered men's
minds," as he himself said--that is, he believed, or affected to believe,
that the verities are in a latent state in all minds, and that it needed
only patience, dexterity, and skillful investigation to bring them to
light. Elsewhere, he _interrogated_ in a captious fashion in order to
set the interlocutor in contradiction to himself and to make him confess
that he had said what he had not thought he had said, agreed to what he had
not believed he had agreed to; and he triumphed maliciously over such
confusions. In short, he seems to have been a witty and teasing Franklin,
and to have taught true wisdom by laughing at everyone. Folk never like to
be ridiculed, and no doubt the recollection of these ironies had much to do
with the iniquitous judgment which condemned him, and which he seems to
have challenged up to the last.

HIS INFLUENCE.--His influence was infinite. It is from him that
morality became the end itself, the last and supreme end of all
philosophy--the reason of philosophy; and, as was observed by Nietzsche,
the Circe of philosophers, who enchants them, who dictates to them
beforehand, or who modifies their systems in advance by terrifying them as
to what their systems may contain irreverent towards itself or dangerous in
relation to it. From Socrates to Kant and thence onward, morality has been
the Circe of philosophers, and morality is, as it were, the spiritual
daughter of Socrates. On the other hand, his influence was terrible for the
religion of antiquity because it directed the mind towards the idea that
morality is the sole object worthy of knowledge, and that the ancient
religions were immoral, or of such a dubious morality as to deserve the
desertion and scorn of honest men. Christianity fought paganism with the
arguments of the disciples of Socrates--with Socratic arguments; modern
philosophies and creeds are all impregnated with Socraticism. When it was
observed that the Sophists form the most important epoch in the history of
ancient philosophy, it was because they taught Socrates to seek a
philosophy which was entirely human and preoccupied solely with the
happiness of man. This led a great mind, and in his track other very great
minds, to direct all philosophy, and even all human science, towards the
investigation of goodness, goodness being regarded as the condition of



Plato, like Socrates, is Pre-eminently a Moralist,
but he reverts to General Consideration of the Universe
and Deals with Politics and Legislation.

PLATO A DISCIPLE OF SOCRATES.--Plato, like Xenophon, was a pupil of
Socrates, but Xenophon only wanted to be the clerk of Socrates; and Plato,
as an enthusiastic disciple, was at the same time very faithful and very
unfaithful to Socrates. He was a faithful disciple to Socrates in never
failing to place morality in the foremost rank of all philosophical
considerations; in that he never varied. He was an unfaithful disciple to
Socrates in that, imaginative and an admirable poet, he bore back
philosophy from earth to heaven; he did not forbid himself--quite the
contrary--to pile up great systems about all things and to envelop the
universe in his vast and daring conceptions. He invincibly established
morality, the science of virtue, as the final goal of human knowledge, in
his brilliant and charming _Socratic Dialogues_; he formed great
systems in all the works in which he introduces himself as speaking in his
own name. He was very learned, and acquainted with everything that had been
written by all the philosophers before Socrates, particularly Heraclitus,
Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras. He reconsidered all their teaching,
and he himself brought to consideration a force and a wealth of mind such
as appear to have had no parallel in the world.

THE "IDEAS."--Seeking, in his turn, what are the first causes of all
and what is eternally real behind the simulations of this transient world,
he believed in a single God, as had many before him; but in the bosom of
this God, so to speak, he placed, he seemed to see, _Ideas_--that is
to say, eternal types of all things which in this world are variable,
transient, and perishable. What he effected by such novel, original, and
powerful imagination is clear. He replaced the Olympus of the populace by a
spiritual Olympus; the material mythology by an idealistic mythology;
polytheism by polyideism, if it may be so expressed--the gods by
types. Behind every phenomenon, stream, forest, mountain, the Greeks
perceived a deity, a material being like themselves, more powerful than
themselves. Behind every phenomenon, behind every thought as well, every
feeling, every institution--behind _everything, no matter what it be_,
Plato perceived an idea, immortal, eternal, indestructible, and
incorruptible, which existed in the bosom of the Eternal, and of which all
that comes under our observation is only the vacillating and troubled
reflection, and which supports, animates, and for a time preserves
everything that we can perceive. Hence, all philosophy consists in having
some knowledge of these Ideas. How is it possible to attain such knowledge?
By raising the mind from the particular to the general; by distinguishing
in each thing what is its permanent foundation, what it contains that is
least changing, least variable, least circumstantial. For example, a man is
a very complex being; he has countless feelings, countless diversified
ideas, countless methods of conduct and existence. What is his permanent
foundation? It is his conscience, which does not vary, undergoes no
transformation, always obstinately repeats the same thing; the foundation
of man, the eternal idea of which every man on earth is here the
reflection, is the consciousness of good; man is an incarnation on earth of
that part of God which is the will for good; according as he diverges from
or approaches more nearly to this will, is he less or more man.

THE PLATONIC DIALECTIC AND MORALITY.--This method of raising oneself
to the ideas is what Plato termed dialectic--that is to say, the art of
discernment. Dialectic differentiates between the fundamental and the
superficial, the permanent and the transient, the indestructible and the
destructible. This is the supreme philosophic method which contains all the
others and to which all the others are reduced. Upon this metaphysic and by
the aid of this dialectic, Plato constructed an extremely pure system of
morality which was simply an _Imitation of God_ (as, later on, came
the Imitation of Jesus Christ). The whole duty of man was to be as like
God as he could. In God exist the ideas of truth, goodness, beauty,
greatness, power, etc.; man ought to aim at relatively realizing those
ideas which God absolutely realizes. God is just, or justice lies in the
bosom of God, which is the same thing; man cannot be the just one, but he
can be a just man, and there is the whole matter; for justice comprises
everything, or, to express it differently, is the characteristic common to
all which is valuable. Justice is goodness, justice is beautiful, justice
is true; justice is great, because it reduces all particular cases to one
general principle; justice is powerful, being the force which maintains,
opposed to the force which destroys; justice is eternal and invariable. To
be just in all the meanings of the word is the duty of man and his proper

THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.--Plato shows marked reserve as to the
immortality of the soul and as to rewards and penalties beyond the
grave. He is neither in opposition nor formally favourable. We feel that he
wishes to believe in it rather than that he is sure about it. He says that
"it is a fine wager to make"; which means that even should we lose, it is
better to believe in this possible gain than to disbelieve. Further, it is
legitimate to conclude--both from certain passages in the _Laws_ and
from the beautiful theory of Plato on the punishment which is an expiation,
and on the expiation which is medicinal to the soul and consequently highly
desirable--that Plato often inclined strongly towards the doctrine of
posthumous penalties and rewards, which presupposes the immortality of the

PLATONIC LOVE.--Platonic love, about which there has been so much
talk and on which, consequently, we must say a word, at least to define it,
is one of the applications of his moral system. As in the case of all other
things, the idea of love is in God. There it exists in absolute purity,
without any mixture of the idea of pleasure, since pleasure is essentially
ephemeral and perishable. Love in God consists simply in the impassioned
contemplation of beauty (physical and moral); we shall resemble God if we
love beauty precisely in this way, without excitement or agitation of the

POLITICS.--One of the originalities in Plato is that he busies
himself with politics--that is, that he makes politics a part of
philosophy, which had barely been thought of before him (I say
_barely_, because Pythagoras was a legislator), but which has ever
since been taken into consideration. Plato is aristocratic, no doubt
because his thought is generally such, independently of circumstances,
also, perhaps, because he attributed the great misfortunes of his country
which he witnessed to the Athenian democracy; then yet again, perhaps,
because that Athenian democracy had been violently hostile and sometimes
cruel to philosophers, and more especially to his own master. According to
Plato, just as man has three souls, or if it be preferred, three centres of
activity, which govern him--intelligence in the head, courage in the heart,
and appetite in the bowels--even so the city is composed of three classes:
wise and learned men at the top, the warriors below, and the artisans and
slaves lower still. The wise men will govern: accordingly the nations will
never be happy save when philosophers are kings, or when kings are
philosophers. The warriors will fight to defend the city, never as
aggressors. They will form a caste--poor, stern to itself, and
redoubtable. They will have no individual possessions; everything will be
in common, houses, furniture, weapons, wives even, and children. The
people, finally, living in strict equality, either by equal partition of
land, or on land cultivated in common, will be strictly maintained in
probity, honesty, austerity, morality, sobriety, and submissiveness. All
arts, except military music and war dances, will be eliminated from the
city. She needs neither poets nor painters not yet musicians, who corrupt
morals by softening them, and by making all feel the secret pang of
voluptuousness. All theories, whether aristocratic or tending more or less
to communism, are derived from the politics of Plato either by being
evolved from them or by harking back to them.

even for his opponents, the greatest name in human philosophy. He is the
supreme authority of the idealistic philosophy--that is, of all philosophy
which believes that ideas govern the world, and that the world is
progressing towards a perfection which is somewhere and which directs and
attracts it. For those even who are not of his school, Plato is the most
prodigious of all the thinkers who have united psychological wisdom,
dialectical strength, the power of abstraction and creative imagination,
which last in him attains to the marvellous.



A Man of Encyclopedic Learning; as Philosopher,
more especially Moralist and Logician.

ARISTOTLE, PUPIL OF PLATO.--Aristotle of Stagira was a pupil of
Plato, and he remembered it, as the best pupils do as a rule, in order to
oppose him. For some years he was tutor to Alexander, son of Philip, the
future Alexander the Great. He taught long at Athens. After the death of
Alexander, being the target in his turn of the eternal accusation of
impiety, he was forced to retire to Chalcis, where he died. Aristotle is,
before all else, a learned man. He desired to embrace the whole of the
knowledge of his time, which was then possible by dint of prodigious
effort, and he succeeded. His works, countless in number, are the record of
his knowledge. They are the _summa_ of all the sciences of his
epoch. Here we have only to occupy ourselves with his more especially
philosophical ideas. To Aristotle, as to Plato, but more precisely, man is
composed of soul and body. The body is composed of organs, a well-made
piece of mechanism; the soul is its final purpose; the body, so to speak,
results in the soul, but, in turn, the soul acts on the body, and is in it
not its end but its means of acting upon things, and the whole forms a full
and continuous harmony. The faculties of the soul are its divers aspects,
and its divers methods of acting; for the soul is one and
indivisible. Reason is the soul considered as being able to conceive what
is most general, and in consequence it forms within us an intermediary
between ourselves and God. God is unique; He is eternal; from all eternity
He has given motion to matter. He is purely spiritual, but all is material
save Him, and He has not, as Plato would have it, _ideas_--immaterial
living personifications--residing in His bosom. Here may be perceived, in a
certain sense, progress, from Plato to Aristotle, towards monotheism; the
Olympus of ideas in Plato was still a polytheism, a spiritual polytheism
certainly, yet none the less a polytheism; there is no longer any
polytheism at all in Aristotle.

HIS THEORIES OF MORALS AND POLITICS.--The moral system of Aristotle
sometimes approaches that of Plato, as when he deems that the supreme
happiness is the supreme good, and that the supreme good is the
contemplation of thought by thought--thought being self-sufficing; which is
approximately the imitation of God which Plato recommended. Sometimes, on
the contrary, it is very practical and almost mediocre, as when he makes it
consist of a mean between the extremes, a just measure, a certain tact, art
rather than science, and practical science rather than conscience, which
will know how to distinguish which are the practices suitable for an honest
and a well-born man. It is only just to add that in detail and when after
all deductions he describes the just man, he invites us to contemplate
virtues which if not sublime are none the less remarkably lofty.

His very confused political philosophy (the volume containing it, according
to all appearance, having been composed, after his death, of passages and
fragments and different portions of his lectures) is specially a review of
the divergent political constitutions which existed throughout the Greek
world. The tendencies, for there are no conclusions, are still very
aristocratic, but less radically aristocratic than those of Plato.

THE AUTHORITY OF ARISTOTLE.--Aristotle, by reason of his
universality, also because he is clearer than his master, and again because
he dogmatises--not always, but very frequently--instead of discussing and
collating, had throughout both antiquity and the Middle Ages an authority
greater than that of Plato, an authority which became (except on matters of
faith) despotic and well-nigh sacrosanct. Since the sixteenth century he
has been relegated to his due rank--one which is still very distinguished,
and he has been regarded as among the geniuses of the widest range, if not
of the greatest power, that have appeared among men; even now he is very
far from having lost his importance. For some he is a transition between
the Greek genius--extremely subtle, but always poetic and always somewhat
oriental--and the Roman genius: more positive, more bald, more practical,
more attached to reality and to pure science.



The Development in Various Schools of the General Ideas
of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

THE SCHOOL OF PLATO; THEOPHRASTUS.--The school of Plato (not
regarding Aristotle as belonging entirely to that school) was continued by
Speusippus, Polemo, Xenocrates, Crates, and Crantor. Owing to a retrograde
movement, widely different from that of Aristotle, it dabbled in the
Pythagorean ideas, with which Plato was acquainted and which he often
appreciated, but not blindly, and to which he never confined himself.

The most brilliant pupil of Aristotle was Theophrastus, naturalist,
botanist, and moralist. His great claim to fame among posterity, which
knows nothing of him but this, is the small volume of _Characters_,
which served as a model for La Bruyère, and before him to the comic poets
of antiquity, and which is full of wit and flavour, and--to make use of a
modern word exactly applicable to this ancient work--"humour."

SCHOOLS OF MEGARA AND OF ELIS.--We may just mention the very
celebrated schools which, owing to lack of texts, are unknown to us--that
of Megara, which was called the Eristic or "wrangling" school, so marked
was its predilection for polemics; and that of Elis, which appears to have
been well versed in the sophistic methods of Zeno of Elea and of Gorgias.

THE CYNIC SCHOOL; ANTISTHENES; DIOGENES.--Much more important is the
Cynic school, because a school, which was nothing less than Stoicism
itself, emanated or appeared to emanate from it. As often happens, the
vague commencements of Stoicism bore a close resemblance to its end. The
Stoics of the last centuries of antiquity were a sort of mendicant friars,
ill-clothed, ill-fed, of neglected appearance, despising all the comforts
of life; the Cynics at the time of Alexander were much the same, professing
that happiness is the possession of all good things, and that the only way
to possess all things is to know how to do without them. It was
Antisthenes who founded this school, or rather this order. He had been the
pupil of Socrates, and there can be no doubt that his sole idea was to
imitate Socrates by exaggeration. Socrates had been poor, had scorned
wealth, had derided pleasure, and poured contempt on science. The cult of
poverty, the contempt for pleasures, for honours, for riches, and the
perfect conviction that any knowledge is perfectly useless to man--that is
all the teaching of Antisthenes. That can lead far, at least in systematic
minds. If all is contemptible except individual virtue, it is reversion to
savage and solitary existence which is preached: there is no more
civilization or society or patriotism. Antisthenes in these ideas was
surpassed by his disciples and successors; they were cosmopolitans and
anarchists. The most illustrious of this school--illustrious especially
through his eccentricity--was Diogenes, who rolled on the ramparts of
Corinth the tub which served him as a house, lighted his lantern in broad
daylight on the pretext of "searching for a man," called himself a citizen
of the world, was accused of being banished from Sinope by his
fellow-countrymen and replied, "It was I who condemned them to remain," and
said to Alexander, who asked him what he could do for him: "Get out of my
sunshine; you are putting me in the shade."

CRATES; MENIPPUS; ARISTIPPUS.--Crates of Thebes is also mentioned,
less insolent and better-mannered, yet also a despiser of the goods of this
world; and Menippus, the maker of satires, whom Lucian, much later, made
the most diverting interlocutor of his amusing dialogues. In an opposite
direction, at the same epoch, Aristippus, a pupil of Socrates, like
Antisthenes, founded the school of pleasure, and maintained that the sole
search worthy of man was that of happiness, and that it was his duty to
make himself happy; that in consequence, it having been sufficiently proved
and being even self-evident, that happiness cannot come to us from without,
but must be sought within ourselves, it is necessary to study to know
ourselves thoroughly (and this was from Socrates) in order to decide what
are the states of the mind which give us a durable, substantial, and, if
possible, a permanent happiness. Now the seeker and the finder of
substantial happiness is wisdom, or rather, there is no other wisdom than
the art of distinguishing between pleasure and choosing, with a very
refined discrimination, those which are genuine. Wisdom further consists in
dominating misfortunes by the mastery of self so as not to be affected by
them, and in dominating also pleasures even whilst enjoying them, so that
they may not obtain dominion over us; "possessing without being possessed"
was one of his mottoes which Horace thus translated: "I strive to subject
things to myself, not myself to things." This eminently practical wisdom,
which is only a highly-developed egoism, is that of Horace and Montaigne,
and was expressed by Voltaire in verses that were sometimes felicitous.

THE SCHOOL OF CYRENE.--Aristippus had for successor in the direction
of his school, first his daughter Arete, then his grandson. The
Aristippists, or Cyrenaics (the school being established in Cyrene),
frankly despised the gods, regarding them as inventions to frighten women
and little children. One of them, Euhemerus, invented the theory, which in
part is false and in part accurate, that the gods are simply heroes, kings,
great men deified after their death by the gratitude or terror of the
populace. As often happens, philosophic theories being essentially plastic
and taking the form of the temperament which receives them, a certain
Cyrenaic (Hegesias) enunciated the doctrine that the supreme happiness of
man was suicide. In fact, if the object of man is happiness, since life
affords far fewer joys than sorrows, the philosophy of happiness is to get
rid of life, and the sole wisdom lies in suicide. It does not appear that
Hegesias gave the only proof of sincere belief in this doctrine which can
be given by anyone professing it.



Epicureanism Believes that the Duty of Man is to Seek
Happiness, and that Happiness Consists in Wisdom.

MORAL PHILOSOPHY.--Continuing to feel the strong impulse which it
had received from Socrates, philosophy was now for a long while to be
almost exclusively moral philosophy. Only it divided very sharply in two
directions. Antisthenes and Aristippus were both pupils of Socrates. From
Antisthenes came the Cynics; from Aristippus the philosophers of
pleasure. The Cynics gave birth to the Stoics, the philosophers of pleasure
to the Epicureans, and these two great schools practically divided all
antiquity between them. We will take the Epicureans first because,
chronologically, they slightly preceded the Stoics.

EPICURUS.--Epicurus, born at Athens a little after the death of
Plato, brought up at Samos by his parents who had been forced to expatriate
themselves owing to reverses of fortune, returned to Athens about 305 B.C.,
and there founded a school. Personally he was a true wise man, sober,
scrupulous, a despiser of pleasure, severe to himself, _in practice_ a
Stoic. As his general view of the universe, he taught approximately the
doctrine of Democritus: the world is composed of a multitude of atoms,
endowed with certain movements, which attach themselves to one another and
combine together, and there is nothing else in the world. Is there not a
first cause, a being who set all these atoms in motion--in short, a God?
Epicurus did not think so. Are there gods, as the vulgar believe? Epicurus
believed so; but he considered that the gods are brilliant, superior, happy
creatures, who do not trouble about this world, do not interfere with it,
and are even less occupied, were it possible, with mankind. Also they did
not create the world, for why should they have created it? From goodness,
said Plato; but there is so much evil in the world that if they created it
from goodness, they were mistaken and must be fools; and if they willingly
permitted evil, they are wicked; and therefore it is charitable towards
them to believe that they did not create it.

EPICUREAN MORALITY.--From the ethical point of view, Epicurus
certainly attaches himself to Aristippus; but with the difference that lies
between pleasure and happiness. Aristippus taught that the aim of life was
intelligent pleasure, Epicurus declared that the aim of life was
happiness. Now, does happiness consist in pleasures, or does it exclude
them? Epicurus was quite convinced that it excluded them. Like Lord
Beaconsfield, he would say, "Life would be almost bearable, were it not for
its pleasures." Happiness for Epicurus lay in "phlegm," as Philinte would
put it; it lay in the calm of the mind that has rendered itself
inaccessible to every emotion of passion, which is never irritated, never
moved, never annoyed, never desires, and never fears. Why, for instance,
should we dread death? So long as we fear it, it is not here; when it
arrives, we shall no longer fear it; then, why is it an evil?--But, during
life itself, how about sufferings?--We greatly increase our sufferings by
complaints and by self-commiseration. If we acted in the reverse way, if
when we were tortured by them we recalled past pleasures and thought of
pleasures to come, they would be infinitely mitigated.--But, of what
pleasures can a man speak who makes happiness consist in the exclusion of
pleasures? The pleasures of the wise man are the satisfaction he feels in
assuring himself of his own happiness. He finds pleasure when he controls a
passion in order to revert to calmness; he feels pleasure when he converses
with his friends about the nature of true happiness; he feels pleasure when
he has diverted a youth from passionate follies or from despair, and
brought him back to peace of mind, etc.--But what about sufferings after
death? They do not exist. There is no hell because there is no immortality
of the soul. The soul is as material as the body, and dies with it.

You will say, perhaps, that this very severe and austere morality more
nearly approaches to Stoicism than to the teaching of Aristippus. This is
so true that when Horace confessed with a smile that he returned to the
morality of pleasure, he did not say, as we should, "I feel that I am
becoming an Epicurean," he said, "I fall back on the precepts of
Aristippus;" and Seneca, a professed Stoic, cites Epicurus almost as often
as Zeno in his lessons. It may not be quite accurate to state, but there
would not be much exaggeration in affirming, that Epicureanism is a smiling
Stoicism and Stoicism a gloomy Epicureanism. In the current use of the word
we have changed the meaning of Epicurean to make it mean "addicted to
pleasure." The warning must be given that there is no more grievous error.

THE VOGUE OF EPICUREANISM.--Epicureanism had an immense vogue in
antiquity. The principal professors of it at Athens were Metrodorus,
Hermarchus, Polystratus, and Apollodorus. Penetrating to Italy Epicureanism
found its most brilliant representative in Lucretius, who of the system
made a poem--the admirable _De Natura Rerum_; there were also
Atticus, Horace, Pliny the younger, and many more. It even became a
political opinion: the Caesarians were Epicureans, the Republicans
Stoics. On the appearance of Christianity Epicureanism came into direct
opposition with it, and so did Stoicism also; but in a far less degree. In
modern times, as will be seen, Epicureanism has enjoyed a revival.



The Passions are Diseases which can and must be Extirpated.

THE LOGIC OF STOICISM.--Stoicism existed as a germ in the Cynic
philosophy (and also in Socrates) as did Epicureanism in Aristippus. Zeno
was the pupil of Crates. In extreme youth he opened a school at Athens in
the Poecile. The Poecile was a portico; portico in Greek is _stoa_,
hence the name of Stoic. Zeno taught for about thirty years; then, on the
approach of age, he died by his own hand. Zeno thought, as did Epicurus and
Socrates, that philosophy should only be the science of life and that the
science of life lay in wisdom. Wisdom consists in thinking justly and
acting rightly; but to think justly only in order to act rightly--which is
quite in the spirit of Socrates, and eliminates all the science of
research, all consideration of the constitution of the world as well as the
total and even the details of matter. Therein is Stoicism more narrow than

In consequence, man needs clear, precise, and severe "logic" (the Stoics
were the first to use this word). Armed with this weapon, and only
employing it for self-knowledge and self-control, man makes himself
wise. The "wise man" of the Stoic is a kind of saint--a superman, as it has
since been called--very analogous to his God. All his efforts are
concentrated on safeguarding, conquering, and suppressing his passions,
which are nothing save "diseases of the soul." In the external world he
disregards all the "things of chance"--everything, that is, that does not
depend on human will--and considers them as non-existent: the ailments of
the body, pangs, sufferings, misfortunes, and humiliations are not evils,
they are things indifferent. On the contrary, crimes and errors are such
evils that they are _equally_ execrable, and the wise man should
reproach himself as severely for the slightest fault as for the greatest
crime--a paradoxical doctrine which has aroused the warmth of even
respectful opponents of Stoicism, notably Cicero.

MAXIMS OF THE STOICS.--Their most frequently repeated maxim is
"abstain and endure"; abstain from all evil, suffer all aggression and
so-called misfortune without rebelling or complaining. Another precept
widely propagated among them and by them, "Live according to nature,"
remarkably resembles an Epicurean maxim. This must be made clear. This
precept as they interpreted it meant: adhere freely and respectfully to the
laws of the universe. The world is a God who lives according to the laws He
Himself made, and of which we are not judges. These laws surround us and
compel us; sometimes they wound us. We must respect and obey them, have a
sort of pious desire that they should operate even against ourselves, and
live in reverent conformity with them. Thus understood, the "life in
conformity with nature" is nothing else than an aspect of the maxim,

PRINCIPAL STOICS.--The principal adepts and masters of Stoicism with
and after Zeno were Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Aristo, and Herillus in Greece;
at Rome, Cato, Brutus, Cicero to a certain degree, Thrasea, Epictetus
(withal a Greek, who wrote in Greek), Seneca, and finally the Emperor
Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism rapidly developed into a religion, having its
rites, obediences, ascetic practices, directors of conscience, examination
of conscience, and its adepts with a traditional dress, long cloak, and
long beard. It exerted considerable influence, comparable (comparable
only) to Christianity, but it penetrated only the upper and middle classes
of society in antiquity without descending, or barely descending, to the
masses. Like Epicureanism, Stoicism had a renaissance in modern times in
opposition to Christianity; this will be dealt with later.



Philosophers who Wished to Belong to No School
Philosophers who Decried All Schools and All Doctrines.

THE TWO TENDENCIES.--As might be expected to happen, and as always
happens, the multiplicity of sects brought about two tendencies, one
consisting in selecting somewhat arbitrarily from each sect what one found
best in it, which is called "eclecticism," the other in thinking that no
school grasped the truth, that the truth is not to be grasped, which is
called "scepticism."

THE ECLECTICS: PLUTARCH.--The Eclectics, who did not form a school,
which would have been difficult in the spirit in which they acted, had only
this in common, that they venerated the great thinkers of ancient Greece,
and that they felt or endeavoured to feel respect and toleration for all
religions. They venerated Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Zeno,
Moses, Jesus, St. Paul, and loved to imagine that they were each a partial
revelation of the great divine thought, and they endeavoured to reconcile
these divergent revelations by proceeding on broad lines and general
considerations. Among them were Moderatus, Nicomachus, Nemesius, etc. The
most illustrious, without being the most profound--though his literary
talent has always kept him prominent--was Plutarch. His chief effort, since
then often renewed, was to reconcile reason and faith (I am writing of the
polytheistic faith). Perceiving in mythology ingenious allegories, he
showed that under the name of allegories covering and containing profound
ideas, all polytheism could be accepted by the reason of a Platonist, an
Aristotelian, or a Stoic. The Eclectics had not much influence, and only
pleased two sorts of minds: those who preferred knowledge rather than
conviction, and found in Eclecticism an agreeable variety of points of
view; and those who liked to believe a little in everything, and possessing
receptive but not steadfast minds were not far from sceptics and who might
be called affirmative sceptics in opposition to the negative sceptics:
sceptics who say, "Heavens, yes," as opposed to sceptics who always say,
"Presumably, no."

THE SCEPTICS: PYRRHO.--The Sceptics proper were chronologically more
ancient. The first famous Sceptic was a contemporary of Aristotle; he
followed Alexander on his great expedition into Asia. This was Pyrrho. He
taught, as it appears, somewhat obscurely at Athens, and for successor had
Timon. These philosophers, like so many others, sought happiness and
affirmed that it lay in abstention from decision, in the mind remaining in
abeyance, in _aphasia_. Pyrrho being accustomed to say that he was
indifferent whether he was alive or dead, on being asked, "Then why do you
live?" answered: "Just because it is indifferent whether one lives or is
dead." As may be imagined, their favourite sport was to draw the various
schools into mutual opposition, to rout some by the rest, to show that all
were strong in what they negatived, but weak in what they affirmed, and so
to dismiss them in different directions.

THE NEW ACADEMY.--Scepticism, albeit attenuated, softened, and less
aggressive, reappeared in a school calling itself the New Academy. It
claimed to adhere to Socrates--not without some show of reason, since
Socrates had declared that the only thing he knew was that he knew
nothing--and the essential tenet of this school was to affirm nothing. Only
the Academicians believed that certain things were probable, more probable
than others, and they are the founders of probabilism, which is nothing
more than conviction accompanied with modesty. They were more or less
moderate, according to personal temperament. Arcesilaus was emphatically
moderate, and limited himself to the development of the critical faculties
of his pupil. Carneades was more negative, and arrived at or reverted to
scepticism and sophistry pure and simple. Cicero, with a certain foundation
of Stoicism, was a pupil, and one of the most moderate, of the New Academy.

AENESIDEMUS; AGRIPPA; EMPIRICUS.--Others built on experience itself,
on the incertitude of our sensations and observations, on everything that
can cheat us and cause us illusion in order to display how _relative_
and how miserably partial is human knowledge. Such was Aenesidemus, whom
it might be thought Pascal had read, so much does the latter give the
reasons of the former when he is not absorbed in faith, and when he assumes
the position of a sceptic precisely in order to prove the necessity of
taking refuge in faith. Such was Agrippa; such, too, was Sextus Empiricus,
so often critical of science, who demonstrates (as to a slight extent M.
Henri Poincaré does in our own day) that all sciences, even those which,
like mathematics and geometry, are proudest of their certainty, rest upon
conventions and intellectual "conveniences."



Reversion to Metaphysics.
Imaginative Metaphysicians after the Manner of Plato, but in Excess.

ALEXANDRINISM.--Amid all this, metaphysics--namely, the effort to
comprehend the universe--appears somewhat at a discount. It enjoyed a
renaissance in the third century of our era among some teachers from
Alexandria (hence the name of the Alexandrine school) who came to lecture
at Rome with great success. Alexandrinism is a "Neoplatonism"--that is, a
renewed Platonism and, as considered by its authors, an augmented one.

PLOTINUS.--Plotinus taught this: God and matter exist. God is one,
matter is multiple and divisible. God in Himself is incomprehensible, and
is only to be apprehended in his manifestations. Man rises not to
comprehension of Him but to the perception of Him by a series of degrees
which are, as it were, the progressive purification of faith, and which
lead us to a kind of union with Him resembling that of one being with
another whom he could never see, but of whose presence he could have no
doubt. Matter, that is, the universe, is an emanation from God, as perfume
comes from a flower. All is not God, and only God can be God, but all is
divine and all participates in God, just as each of our thoughts
participates of our soul. Now, if all emanates from God, all also tends to
return to Him, as bodies born of earth, nourished by earth, invigorated by
the forces proceeding from the earth, tend to return to the earth. This is
what makes the harmony of the world. The law of laws is, that every
fragment of the universe derived from God returns to Him and desires to
return to Him. The universe is an emanation from the perfect, and an
effort towards perfection. The universe is a God in exile who has
nostalgia for himself. The universe is a progressive descent from God with
a tendency towards reintegration with Him.

How does this emanation from God becoming matter take place? That is a
mystery; but it may be supposed to take place by successive stages. From
God emanates spirit, impersonal spirit which is not spirit of this or that,
but universal spirit spread through the whole world and animating it. From
spirit emanates the soul, which can unite itself to a body and form an
individual. The soul is less divine than spirit, which in turn is less
divine than God, but yet retains divinity. From the soul emanates the body
to which it unites itself. The body is less divine than the soul, which was
less divine than spirit, which was less divine than God; but it still
possesses divinity for it has a form, a figure, a design marked and
impressed with divine spirit. Finally, matter without form is the most
distant of the emanations from God, and the lowest of the descending stages
of God. God _is_ in Himself; He thinks in pure thought in spirit; He
thinks in mixed and confused thought in the soul; He feels in the body; He
sleeps in unformed matter. The object of unformed matter is to acquire
form, that is a body; and the object of a body is to have a soul; and the
aim of a soul is to be united in spirit, and the aim of spirit is to be
absorbed into God.

Souls not united to bodies contemplate spirit and enjoy absolute
happiness. Other souls not united to bodies, but solicited by a certain
instinct to unite themselves to bodies, are of ambiguous but still very
exalted nature. Souls united to bodies (our own) have descended far, but
can raise themselves and be purified by contemplation of the eternal
intelligence, and by relative union with it. This contemplation has
several degrees, so to speak, of intensity, degrees which Plotinus termed
hypostases. By perception we obtain a glimpse of ideas, by dialectics we
penetrate them; by a final hypostasis, which is ecstasy, we can sometimes
unite ourselves directly to God and live in Him.

THE PUPILS OF PLOTINUS.--Plotinus had as pupils and successors,
amongst others, Porphyry and Iamblichus. Porphyry achieves little except
the exposition of the doctrine of his master, and shows originality only as
a logician. Iamblichus and his school made a most interesting effort to
revive exhausted and expiring paganism and to constitute a philosophic
paganism. The philosophers of the school of Iamblichus are, by the way,
magicians, charlatans, miracle-mongers, men as antipositivist as
possible. Iamblichus himself sought to reconcile polytheism with
Neoplatonism by putting in the centre of all a supreme deity, an essential
deity from whom he made a crowd of secondary, tertiary, and quaternary
deities to emanate, ranging from those purely immaterial to those inherent
in matter. The subtle wanderings of Neoplatonism were continued obscurely
in the school of Athens until it was closed for ever in 529 by the Emperor
Justinian as being hostile to the religion of the Empire, which at that
epoch was Christianity.



Philosophic Ideas which Christianity Welcomed, Adopted, or Created
How it must Give a Fresh Aspect to All Philosophy,
even that Foreign to Itself.

CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY AND MORALITY.--Christianity spread through the
Empire by the propaganda of the Apostles, and more especially St. Paul,
from about the year 40. Its success was extremely rapid, especially among
the populace, and little by little it won over the upper classes. As a
general philosophy, primitive Christianity did not absolutely bring more
than the Hebrew dogmas: the unity of God, a providential Deity, that is,
one directly interfering in human affairs; immortality of the soul with
rewards and penalties beyond the grave (a recent theory among the Jews, yet
one anterior to Christianity). As a moral system, Christianity brought
something so novel and so beautiful that it is not very probable that
humanity will ever surpass it, which may be imperfectly and incompletely
summed up thus: love of God; He must not only be feared as He was by the
pagans and the ancient Jews; He must be loved passionately as a son loves
his father, and all things must be done for this love and in consideration
of this love; all men are brethren as sons of God, and they should love one
another as brothers; love your neighbour as yourself, love him who does not
love you; love your enemies; be not greedy for the goods of this world, nor
ambitious, nor proud; for God loves the lowly, the humble, the suffering,
and the miserable, and He will exalt the lowly and put down the mighty from
their seats.

Nothing like this had been said in all antiquity, and it needs
extraordinary ingenuity (of a highly interesting character, by the way), to
find in ancient wisdom even a few traces of this doctrine.

Finally, into politics, so to speak, Christianity brought this novelty:
there are two empires, the empire of God and the empire of man; you do not
owe everything to the earthly empire; you are bound to give it faithfully
only what is needed for it to be strong and to preserve society; apart from
that, and that done, you are the subject of God and have only to answer to
God for your thoughts, your belief, your conscience; and over that portion
of yourself the State has neither right nor authority unless it be usurped
and tyrannical. And therein lay the charter of individual liberty like the
charter of the rights of man.

As appeal to the feelings, Christianity brought the story of a young God,
infinitely good and gentle, who had never cursed, who had been infinitely
loved, who had been persecuted and betrayed, who had forgiven his
executioners, and who died in great sufferings and who was to be imitated
(whence came the thirst for martyrdom). This story in itself is not more
affecting than that of Socrates, but it is that of a young martyr and not
of an old one, and therein lies a marked difference for the imagination and
emotions of the multitude.

THE SUCCESS OF CHRISTIANITY.--The prodigious rapidity of the success
of Christianity is easily explicable. Polytheism had no longer a great hold
on the masses, and no philosophic doctrine had found or had even sought the
path to the crowd; Christianity, essentially democratic, loved the weak and
humble, had a tendency to prefer them to the great ones of this world, and
to regard them as being more the children of God, and was therefore
received by the masses as the only doctrine which could replace the
worm-eaten polytheism. And in Christianity they saw the religion for which
they were waiting, and in the heads of Christianity their own protectors
and defenders.

ITS EVOLUTION.--The evolution of Christianity was very rapid, and
from a great moral doctrine with a minimum of rudimentary metaphysics it
became, perchance mistakenly, a philosophy giving account, or desirous of
giving account of everything; it so to speak incorporated a metaphysic,
borrowed in great part from Greek philosophy, in great part from the Hebrew
traditions. It possessed ideas on the origin of matter, and whilst
maintaining that God was eternal, denied that matter was, and asserted that
God created it out of nothing. It had theories on the essence of God, and
saw Him in three Persons, or hypostases, one aspect of God as power,
another as love, and the other as intelligence. It presented theories on
the incarnation and humanisation of God, God being made man in Jesus Christ
without ceasing to be God. It conceived new relationships of man to God,
man having in himself powers of purgation and perfection, but always
needing divine help for self-perfection (theory of grace). And this he
must believe; if not he would feel insolent pride in his freedom. It had
ideas about the existence of evil, declaring in "justification of God" for
having permitted evil on earth, that the world was a place of trial, and
that evil was only a way of putting man to the test and discovering what
were his merits. It had its notions on the rewards and penalties beyond the
grave, hell for the wicked and heaven for the good, as had been known to
antiquity, but added purgatory, a place for both punishment and
purification by punishment, an entirely Platonic theory, which Plato may
have inspired but did not himself entertain. Finally, it was a complete
philosophy answering, and that in a manner often admirable, all the
questions that mankind put or could ever put.

And, as so often happens, that has proved a weakness and a strength to it:
a weakness because embarrassed with subtle, complicated, insoluble
questions wherein mankind will always be involved, it was forced to engage
in endless discussions wherein the bad or feeble reasons advanced by this
or that votary compromised the whole work; a strength because whoever
brings a rule of life is practically compelled to support it by general
ideas bearing on the relations of things and to give it a place in a
general survey of the world; otherwise he appears impotent, weak,
disqualified to give that very rule of life, incapable of replying to the
interrogations raised by that rule of life; and finally, lacking in

SCHISMS AND HERESIES.--Right or wrong, and it is difficult and
highly hazardous to decide the question, Christianity was a complete
philosophy, which was why it had its schisms and heresies, a certain number
of sincere Christians not resolving the metaphysical questions in the way
of the majority. Heresies were innumerable; only the two shall be cited
which are deeply interesting in the history of philosophy. Manes, an Arab
(and Arabia was then a Persian province), revived the old Zoroastrian
doctrine of two principles of good and evil, and saw in the world two
contending gods, the God of perfection and the god of sin, and laid upon
man the duty of assisting the God of goodness so that His kingdom should
come and cause the destruction of evil in the world. From him proceeded the
Manicheans, who exerted great influence and were condemned by many Councils
until their sect died out, only to reappear or seem to reappear fairly
often in the Middle Ages and in modern times.

Arius denied the Trinity, believing only in one God, not only unique, but
in one Person, and in consequence denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. He
was perpetually involved in controversies and polemics, supported by some
Bishops, opposed by the majority. After his death his doctrine spread
strangely. It was stifled in the East by Theodosius, but was widely
adopted by the "barbarians" of the West (Goths, Vandals, Burgundians,
Lombards). It was revived, more or less exactly, after the Reformation,
among the Socinians.

ROME AND CHRISTIANITY.--The relations of Christianity with the Roman
government were in the highest degree tragic, as is common knowledge. There
were ten sanguinary persecutions, some being atrocious. It has often been
asked what was the cause of this animosity against the Christians on the
part of a government which tolerated all religions and all
philosophies. Persecutions were natural at Athens where a democracy,
obstinately attached to the local deities, treated as enemies of the
country those who did not take these gods into consideration; persecutions
were natural on the part of a Calvin or a Louis XIV who combined in
themselves the two authorities and would not admit that anyone in the State
had the right to think differently from its head; but it has been argued
that they were incomprehensible on the part of a government which admitted
all cults and all doctrines. The explanation perhaps primarily lies in the
fact that Christianity was essentially popular, and that the government saw
in it not only plebeianism, which was disquieting, but an organisation of
plebeianism, which was still more so. The administration of religion had
always been in the hands of the aristocracy; the Roman pontiffs were
patricians, the Emperor was the sovereign pontiff; to yield obedience, even
were it only spiritually, to private men as priests was to be disobedient
to the Roman aristocracy, to the Emperor himself, and was properly speaking
a revolt.

A further explanation, perhaps, is that each new religion that was
introduced at Rome did not oppose and did not contradict polytheism, the
principle of polytheism being precisely that there are many gods; whereas
Christianity denying all those gods and affirming that there is only one,
and that all others must be despised as non-existent, inveighed against,
denied, and ruined or threatened to destroy the very essence of
polytheism. It was not a variation, it was a heresy; it was more than
heretical, it was anarchical; it did not only condemn this or that
religion, but even the very tolerance with which the Roman government
accepted all religions. Hence it is natural enough that it should have been
combated to the utmost by practically all the Emperors, from the most
execrable, such as Nero, to the best, such as Marcus Aurelius.

CHRISTIANITY AND THE PHILOSOPHERS.--The relations of Christianity
with philosophy were confused. The immense majority of philosophers
rejected it, considering their own views superior to it, and moreover,
feeling it to be formidable, made use against it of all that could be found
beautiful, specious, or expedient in ancient philosophy; and the ardour of
Neoplatonism, which we have considered, in part arose from precisely this
instinct of rivalry and of struggle. At that epoch there was a throng of
men like Ernest Havet presenting Hellenism in opposition to Christianity,
and Ernest Havet is only a Neoplatonist of the nineteenth century.

A certain number of philosophers, nevertheless, either on the
Jewish-Christian side or on the Hellenic, tried some reconciliation either
as Jews making advances to Hellenism or as Greeks admitting there was
something acceptable on the part of Sion. Aristobulus, a Jew (prior to
Jesus Christ), seems to have endeavoured to bring Moses into agreement with
Plato; Philo (a Jew contemporary with and surviving Jesus Christ and a
non-Christian), about whom there is more information, throughout his life
pursued the plan of demonstrating all the resemblances he could discover
between Plato and the Old Testament, much in the same way as in our time
some have striven to point out the surprising agreement of the Darwinian
theory with Genesis. He was called the Jewish Plato, and at Alexandria it
was said: "Philo imitates Plato or Plato imitates Philo."

On their side, later on, certain eclectic Greeks already cited, Moderatus,
Nicomachus, Nemesius, extended goodwill so far as to take into account, if
not Jesus, at least Moses, and to admit Israelitish thought into the
history of philosophy and of human wisdom. But, in general it was by the
schools of philosophy and by the ever dwindling section of society priding
itself upon its philosophy that Christianity was most decisively repulsed,
thrust on one side and misunderstood.

CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHERS.--Without dealing with many others who belong
more especially to the history of the Church rather than to that of
philosophy, the Christians did not lack two very illustrious philosophers
who must receive attention--Origen and St. Augustine.

ORIGEN.--Origen was a native of Alexandria at the close of the
second century, and a pupil of St. Clement of Alexandria. A Christian and a
Platonist, in order to give himself permission and excuse for reconciling
the two doctrines, he alleged that the Apostles had given only so much of
the Christian teaching as the multitude could comprehend, and that the
learned could interpret it in a manner more subtle, more profound, and more
complete. Having observed this precaution, he revealed his system, which
was this: God is a pure spirit. He already has descended one step in
_spirits_ which are emanations from Him. These spirits are capable of
good and evil. When addicted to evil, they clothe themselves with matter
and become souls in bodies;--which is what we are. There are others lower
than ourselves. There are impure spirits which have clothed themselves
with unclean bodies; these are demons. Now, as the fallen brethren of
angels, we are free, less free than they, but still free. Through this
freedom we can in our present existence either raise or lower
ourselves. But this freedom does not suffice us; a little help is
essential. This help comes to us from the spirits which have remained
pure. The help they afford us is opposed by the efforts of the utterly
fallen spirits who are lower in the scale than ourselves. To combat these
fallen spirits, to help the pure spirits who help us, and to help them to
help us, such is our duty in this life, which is a medicine, the medicine
of Plato, namely a punishment; sterile when it is not accepted by us,
salutary when gratefully accepted by us, it then becomes expiation and in
consequence purification. The part of the Redeemer in all this is the same
as that of the spirits, but on a grander and more decisive plane. King of
spirits, Spirit of spirits, by revelation He illumines our confused
intelligence and fortifies our weak will against temptation.

ST. AUGUSTINE.--St. Augustine of Tagaste (in Africa), long a pagan
exercising the profession of professor of rhetoric, became a Christian and
was Bishop of Hippo. It is he who "fixed" the Christian doctrine in the way
most suitable to and most acceptable to Western intelligence. Instead of
confusing it, more or less intentionally, more or less inadvertently, with
philosophy, he exerted all his great talents to make the most precise
distinction from it. Philosophers (he says) have always regarded the world
as an emanation from God. Then all is God. Such is not the way to
reason. There is no emanation, but creation; God created the world and has
remained distinct from it. He lives in it in such a way that we live in
Him; in Him we live and move and have our being; He dwells throughout the
world, but He is not the world; He is everywhere but He is not all. God
created the world. Then, can it be said that before the world was created
God remained doing nothing during an immense space of time? Certainly not,
because time only began at the creation of the world. God is outside
time. The eternal is the absence of time. God, therefore, was not an
instant before He created the world. Or, if it be preferred, there was an
eternity before the birth of the world. But it is the same thing; for
eternity is the non-existence of time.

Some understand God in three Persons as three Gods. This polytheism, this
paganism must be rejected. But how to understand? How? You feel in
yourself several souls? No. And yet there are several faculties of the
soul. The three Persons of God are the three divine faculties. Man has body
and soul. No one ought to have doubts about the soul, for to have doubts
presupposes thought, and to think is to be; above all things we are
thinking beings. But what is the soul? Something immaterial, assuredly,
since it can conceive immaterial things, such as a line, a point, surface,
space. It is as necessary for the soul to be immaterial in order to be able
to grasp the immaterial, as it is necessary for the hand to be material in
order that it can grasp a stone.

Whence comes the soul? From the souls of ancestors by transmission? This is
not probable, for this would be to regard it as material. From God by
emanation? This is inadmissible; it is the same error as believing that the
world emanates from God. Here, too, there is no emanation, but creation.
God creates the souls in destination for bodies themselves born from
heredity. Once the body is destroyed, what becomes of the soul? It cannot
perish; for thought not being dependent upon the senses, there is no reason
for its disappearance on the disappearance of the senses.

Human liberty is an assured fact; we are free to do good or evil. But then
God has not been able to know in advance what I shall do to-day, and in
consequence God, at least in His knowledge, has limitations, is not
omnipotent. St. Augustine replies confusedly (for the question is
undoubtedly insoluble) that we have an illusion of liberty, an illusion
that we are free, which suffices for us to acquire merit if we do right and
demerit if we do wrong, and that this illusion of liberty is a relative
liberty, which leaves the prescience of God, and therefore His omnipotence,
absolute. Man is also extremely weak, debilitated, and incapable of good on
account of original sin, the sin of our first parents, which is transmitted
to us through heredity and paralyses us. But God helps us, and this is what
is termed grace. He helps us gratuitously, as is indicated by the word
"grace"--if He wishes and when He wishes and in the measure that He wishes.
From this arises the doctrine of "predestination," by which it is
preordained whether a man is to be saved or lost.





Philosophy is only an Interpreter of Dogma.

When it is Declared Contrary to Dogma by the Authority of Religion,
it is a Heresy.

Orthodox and Heterodox Interpretations.

Some Independent Philosophers.

DOGMA.--After the invasion of the barbarians, philosophy, like
literature, sought refuge in monasteries and in the schools which prelates
instituted and maintained near them. But the Church does not permit the
free search for truth. The truth has been established by the Fathers of the
Church and fixed by the Councils. Thenceforth the philosophic life, so to
speak, which had never been interrupted, assumed a fresh character. Within
the Church it sheltered--I will not say disguised--itself under the
interpretation of dogma; it became a sort of respectful auxiliary of
theology, and was accordingly called the "handmaid of theology," _ancilla
theologiae_. When emancipated, when departing from dogma, it is a
"heresy," and all the great heresies are nothing else than schools of
philosophy, which is why heresies must come into a history of
philosophy. And at last, but only towards the close of the Middle Ages, lay
thought without disturbing itself about dogma and no longer thinking about
its interpretation, created philosophic doctrines exactly as the
philosophers of antiquity invented them apart from religion, to which they
were either hostile or indifferent.

SCHOLASTICISM: SCOTUS ERIGENA.--The orthodox philosophy of the
Middle Ages was the scholastic. Scholasticism consisted in amassing and in
making known scientific facts and matters of knowledge of which it was
useful for a well-bred man not to be ignorant and for this purpose
encyclopaedias were constructed; on the other hand, it consisted not
precisely in the reconciliation of faith with reason, not precisely and far
less in the submission of faith to the criticism of reason, but in making
faith sensible to reason, as had been the office of the Fathers of the
Church, more especially St. Augustine.

Scotus Erigena, a Scotsman attached to the Palatine Academy of Charles the
Bald, lived in the eleventh century. He was extremely learned. His
philosophy was Platonic, or rather the bent of his mind was Platonic. God
is the absolute Being; He is unnamable, since any name is a delimitation of
the being; He _is_ absolutely and infinitely. As the creator of all
and uncreated, He is the cause _per se_; as the goal to which all
things tend, He is the supreme end. The human soul is of impenetrable
essence like God Himself; accordingly, it is God in us. We have fallen
through the body and, whilst in the flesh, we can, by virtue and more
especially by the virtue of penitence, raise ourselves to the height of the
angels. The world is the continuous creation of God. It must not be said
that God created the world, but that He creates it; for if He ceased from
sustaining it, the world would no longer exist. God is perpetual creation
and perpetual attraction. He draws all beings to Himself, and in the end He
will have them all in Himself. There is predestination to perfection in

These theories, some of which, as has been seen, go beyond dogma and form
at least the beginning of heresy, are all impregnated with Platonism,
especially with Neoplatonism, and lead to the supposition that Scotus
Erigena possessed very wide Greek learning.

ARABIAN SCIENCE.--A great literary and philosophical fact in the
eighth century was the invasion of the Arabs. Mahometans successively
invaded Syria, Persia, Africa, and Spain, forming a crescent, the two
points of which touched the two extremities of Europe. Inquisitive and
sagacious pupils of the Greeks in Africa and Asia, they founded everywhere
brilliant universities which rapidly acquired renown (Bagdad, Bassorah,
Cordova, Granada, Seville, Murcia) and brought to Europe a new quota of
science; for instance, all the works of Aristotle, of which Western Europe
possessed practically nothing. Students greedy for knowledge came to learn
from them in Spain; for instance, Gerbert, who developed into a man of
great learning, who taught at Rheims and became Pope. Individually the
Arabs were often great philosophers, and at least the names must be
mentioned of Avicenna (a Neoplatonist of the tenth century) and Averroes
(an Aristotelian of the twelfth century who betrayed tendencies towards
admitting the eternity of nature, and its evolution through its own
initiative during the course of time). Their doctrines were propagated,
and the ancient books which they made known became widely diffused. From
them dates the sway of Aristotle throughout the middle ages.

ST. ANSELM.--St. Anselm, in the eleventh century, a Savoyard, who
was long Abbot of Bec in Normandy and died Archbishop of Canterbury, is one
of the most illustrious doctors of philosophy in the service of theology
that ever lived. "A new St. Augustine" (as he has been called), he starts
from faith to arrive at faith after it has been rendered sensible to
reason. Like St. Augustine he says: "I believe in order to understand"
(well persuaded that if I never believed I should never understand), and he
adds what had been in the thought of St. Augustine: "I understand in order
to believe." St. Anselm proved the existence of God by the most abstract
arguments. For example, "It is necessary to have a cause, one or multiple;
one is God; multiple, it can be derived from one single cause, and that one
cause is God; it can be a particular cause in each thing caused; but then
it is necessary to suppose a personal force which must itself have a cause
and thus we work back to a common cause, that is to say to a single one."

He proved God again by the proof which has remained famous under the name
of the argument of St. Anselm: To conceive God is to prove that He is; the
conception of God is proof of His existence; for every idea has its object;
above all, an idea which has infinity for object takes for granted the
existence of infinity; for all being finite here below, what would give the
idea of infinity to the human mind? Therefore, if the human brain has the
idea of infinity it is because of the existence of infinity. The argument
is perhaps open to difference of opinion, but as proof of a singular vigour
of mind on the part of its author, it is indisputable.

Highly intellectual also is his explanation of the necessity of
redemption. _Cur Deus Homo?_ (the title of one of his works) asked
St. Anselm. Because sin in relation to an infinite God is an infinite
crime. Man, finite and limited in capacity, could therefore never expiate
it. Then what could God do to avenge His honour and to have satisfaction
rendered to Him? He could only make Himself man without ceasing to be God,
in order that as man He should offer to God a reparation to which as God He
would give the character of infinitude. It was therefore absolutely
necessary that at a given moment man should become God, which could only be
done upon the condition that God made Himself man.

St. Anselm that there arose the celebrated philosophic quarrel between the
"realists, nominalists, and conceptualists." It is here essential to employ
these technical terms or else not to allude to the dispute at all, because
the strife is above all a war of words. The realists (of whom St. Anselm
was one), said: "The ideas (idea of virtue, idea of sin, idea of greatness,
idea of littleness) are realities; they exist, in a spiritual manner of
course, but they really exist; they are: there is a virtue, a sin, a
greatness, a littleness, a reason, etc. (and this was an exact reminiscence
of the ideas of Plato). It is indeed only the idea, the general, the
universal, which is real, and the particular has only the appearance of
reality. Men do not exist, the individual man does not exist; what exists
is 'man' in general, and individual men are only the appearance of--the
coloured reflections of--the universal man." The nominalists (Roscelin the
Canon of Compiègne, for instance) answered: "No; the general ideas, the
universals as you say, are only names, are only words, emissions of the
voice, labels, if you like, which we place on such and such categories of
facts observed by us; there is no greatness; there are a certain number of
great things, and when we think of them we inscribe this word 'greatness'
on the general idea which we conceive. 'Man' does not exist; there are men
and the word humanity is only a word which to us represents a collective

Why did the realists cling so to their universals, held to be realities and
the sole realities? For many reasons. If the individual alone be real,
there are not three Persons in the Godhead, there are three Gods and the
unity of God is not real, it is only a word, and God is not real, He is
only an utterance of the voice. If the individual is not real, the Church
is not real; she does not exist, there only exist Christians who possess
freedom of thought and of faith. Now the Church is real and it is not only
desirable that she should be real, but even that she alone should possess
reality and that the individuals constituting her should exist by her and
not by themselves. (This is precisely the doctrine with regard to society
now current among certain philosophers: society exists independently of its
members; it has laws of its own independently of its members; it is a
reality on its own basis; and its members are by it, not it by them, and
therefore they should obey it; M. Durckheim is a "realist.")

ABELARD of Nantes, pupil of the nominalist, William of Champeaux,
learned man, artist, man of letters, an incomparable orator, tried to
effect a conciliation. He said: "The universal is not a reality, certainly;
but it is something more than a simple word; it is a conception of the
mind, which is something more than an utterance of the voice. As conception
of the mind, in fact, it lives with a life which goes beyond the
individual, because it can be common to several individuals to many
individuals, and because in fact it is common to them. The general idea
that I have and which I have communicated to my hearers, and which returns
to me from my hearers, is more than a word since it is a link between my
hearers and myself, and an atmosphere in which I and my hearers live. Is
the Church only to be a word? God forbid that I should say so. She is a
bond between all Christians; she is a general idea common to them all, so
that in her each individual feels himself several, feels himself many;
although it is true that were she not believed in by anyone she would be
nothing." At bottom he was a nominalist, but more subtle, also more
profound and more precise, having a better grasp of what William of
Champeaux had desired to say. He shared in his condemnation.

Apart from the great dispute, his ideas were singularly broad and
bold. Half knowing, half guessing at ancient philosophy, he held it in high
esteem; he found there, because he delighted in finding there, all the
Christian ideas: the one God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the imputation
of the merits of the saints, original sin; and he found less of a gulf
between ancient philosophy and Christianity than between the Old and the
New Testament (this is because the only Christianity known to Abelard, not
the primitive but that constituted in the fourth century, was profoundly
impregnated with Hellenism). He believed the Holy Ghost to have revealed
Himself to the wise men of antiquity as well as to the Jews and the
Christians, and that virtuous pagans may have been saved. The moral
philosophy of Abelard is very elevated and pure. Our acts proceed from
God; for it is impossible that they should not; but He permits us the
faculty of disobedience "in order that virtue may exist," to which it
tends; for if the tendency to evil did not exist, there would be no
possibility of effort against evil, and if no efforts, then no virtue; God,
who cannot be virtuous since He cannot be tempted by evil, can be virtuous
in man, which is why He leaves him the tendency to evil for him to triumph
over it and be virtuous so that virtue may exist; even if He were Himself
to lead us into temptation, the tendency would still be the same; He would
only lead us into it to give us the opportunity for struggle and victory,
and therefore in order that virtue might exist; the possibility of sin is
the condition of virtue, and in consequence, even in the admission of this
possibility and above all by its admission, God is virtuous.

The bad deed, furthermore, is not the most considerable from the point of
view of guilt; as merit or demerit the intention is worth as much as the
deed and he is criminal who has had the intention to be so (which is
clearly according to the Gospel).

HUGO DE SAINT-VICTOR; RICHARD.--Abelard possessed perhaps the
broadest and greatest mind of the whole of the Middle Ages. After these
famous names must be mentioned Hugo de Saint-Victor, a somewhat obscure
mystic of German origin; and the not less mystical Richard, who, thoroughly
persuaded that God is not attained by reason but by feeling, taught
exaltation to Him by detachment from self and by six degrees: renunciation,
elevation, impulsion, precipitation, ecstasy, and absorption.



Influence of Aristotle
His Adoption by the Church.
Religious Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

ARISTOTLE AND THE CHURCH.--From the thirteenth century, Aristotle,
completely known and translated into Latin, was adopted by the Church and
became in some sort its lay vicar. He was regarded, and I think rightly, as
of all the Greek thinkers the least dangerous to her and as the one to whom
could be left all the scientific instruction whilst she reserved to herself
all the religious teaching. Aristotle, in fact, "defended her from Plato,"
in whom were always found some germs of adoration of this world, or some
tendencies in this direction, in whom was also found a certain polytheism
much disguised, or rather much purified, but actual and dangerous;
therefore, from the moment when it became necessary to select, Aristotle
was tolerated and finally invested with office.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS.--As Aristotelian theologians must be cited
William of Auvergne, Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus Magnus; but the
sovereign name of this period of the history of philosophy is St. Thomas
Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote several small works but, surpassing them
all, the _Summa_ (encyclopaedia) which bears his name. In general
philosophy St. Thomas Aquinas is an Aristotelian, bending but not
distorting the ideas of Aristotle to Christian conceptions. Like
Aristotle, he demonstrated God by the existence of motion and the necessity
of a first motive power; he further demonstrated it by the contingent,
relative, and imperfect character of all here below: "There is in things
more or less goodness, more or less truth." But we only affirm the more or
less of a thing by comparing it with something absolute and as it
approaches more or less to this absolute; there is therefore an absolute
being, namely God--and this argument appeared to him better than that of
St. Anselm, which he refuted.

HIS CONCEPTION OF NATURE.--He showed the whole of nature as a great
hierarchy, proceeding from the least perfect and the most shapeless to the
most complete and determinate; from another aspect, as separated into two
great kingdoms, that of necessity (mineral, vegetable, animal), and that of
grace (humanity). He displayed it willed by God, projected by God, created
by God; governed by God according to antecedent and consequent wills, that
is, by general wills (God desires man to be saved) and by particular wills
(God wishes the sinner to be punished), and the union of the general wills
is the creation, and the result of all the particular wills is
Providence. Nature and man with it are the work not only of the power but
of the goodness of God, and it is by love that He created us and we must
render Him love for love, which is involuntarily done by Nature herself in
her obedience to His laws, and which we must do voluntarily by obedience to
His commandments.

THE SOUL.--Our soul is immaterial and more complete than that of
animals, for St. Thomas does not formally deny that animals have souls; the
instinct of animals is the sensitive soul according to Aristotle, which is
capable of four faculties: sensibility, imagination, memory, and
estimation, that is elementary intelligence: "The bird picks up straw, not
because it gratifies her feelings [not by a movement of sensibility], but
because it serves to make her nest. It is therefore necessary that an
animal should perceive those intuitions which do not come within the scope
of the senses. It is by opinion or estimation that it perceives these
intuitions, these distant ends." We, mankind, possess a soul which is
sensibility, imagination, memory, and reason. Reason is the faculty not
only of having ideas, but of establishing connections and chains of
connection between the ideas and of conceiving general ideas. Reason pauses
before reaching God because the idea of God precisely is the only one which
cannot be brought to the mind by the interrelation of ideas, for God
surpasses all ideas; the idea of God is given by faith, which can be
subsequently helped by reason, for the latter can work to make faith
perceptible to reason.

Our soul is full of passions, divisible into two great categories, the
passions of desire and those of anger. The passions of desire are rapid or
violent movements towards some object which seems to us a good; the
passions of anger are movements of revolt against something which opposes
our movement towards a good. The common root of all the passions is love,
for it is obvious that from it are derived the passions of desire; and as
for the passions of wrath they would not exist if we had no love of
anything, in which case our desire not coming into collision would not turn
into revolt against the obstacle. We are free to do good or evil, to master
our evil passions and to follow those of which reason approves. Here
reappears the objection of the knowledge God must have beforehand of our
actions: if God foresees our actions we are not free; if free, we act
contrary to his previsions, then He is not all-powerful. St. Thomas makes
answer thus: "There is not prevision, there is vision, because we are in
time whereas God is in eternity. He sees at one glance and instantaneously
all the past, present, and future. Therefore, He does not foresee but see,
and this vision does not hinder human freedom any more than being seen
acting prevents one from acting. Because God knows our deeds after they are
done, no one can plead that that prevents our full liberty to do them; if
He knew them before it is the same as knowing them after, because for Him
past, present, and future are all the same moment." This appears subtle but
is not, for it only amounts to the statement that in speaking of God time
must not be mentioned, for God is as much outside time as outside space.

THE MORAL SYSTEM OF ST. THOMAS.--The very detailed and
circumstantial moral system of St. Thomas may thus be summarized: there is
in conscience, first, an intellectual act which is the distinction between
good and evil; secondly, an act of will which leads us to the good. This
power for good urges the practice of virtue. There are human virtues, well
known to the ancient philosophers, temperance, courage, wisdom, justice,
which lead to happiness on earth; there are divine virtues, inspired in man
by God, which are faith, hope, and charity, and they lead to eternal
happiness. We practise the virtues, when we are well-disposed, because we
are free; but our liberty and our will do not suffice; it is necessary for
God to help us, and that is "grace."

FAITH AND REASON.--On the question of the relation of reason to
faith, St. Thomas Aquinas recognizes, or rather proclaims, that reason will
never demonstrate faith, that the revealed truths, the Trinity, original
sin, grace, etc., are above reason and infinitely exceed it. How, then, can
one believe? By will, aided by the grace of God. Then henceforth must no
appeal be made to reason? Yes, indeed! Reason serves to refute the errors
of the adversaries of the faith, and by this refutation to confirm itself
in belief. The famous _Credo ut intelligam_--I believe in order to
understand--is therefore true. Comprehension is only possible on condition
of belief; but subsequently comprehension helps to believe, if not more, at
least with a greater precision and in a more abundant light. St. Thomas
Aquinas here is in exactly the position which Pascal seems to have taken
up: Believe and you will understand; understand and you will believe more
exactly. Therefore an act of will: "I wish to believe"--a grace of God
fortifying this will: faith exists--studies and reasoning: faith is the

ST. BONAVENTURA; RAYMOND LULLE.--Beside these men of the highest
brain-power there are found in the thirteenth century mystics, that is,
poets and eccentrics, both by the way most interesting. It was St.
Bonaventura who, being persuaded, almost like an Alexandrine, that one
rises to God by synthetic feeling and not by series of arguments, and that
one journeys towards Him by successive states of the soul each more pure
and more passionate--wrote _The Journey of the Soul to God_, which is,
so to speak, a manual of mysticism. Learned as he was, whilst pursuing his
own purpose, he digressed in agreeable and instructive fashion into the
realms of real knowledge.

Widely different from him, Raymond Lulle or de Lulle, an unbridled
schoolman, in his _Ars magna_ invented a reasoning machine, analogous
to an arithmetical machine, in which ideas were automatically deduced from
one another as the figures inscribe themselves on a counter. As often
happens, the excess of the method was its own criticism, and an enemy of
scholasticism could not have more ingeniously demonstrated that it was a
kind of mechanism. Raymond de Lulle was at once a learned man and a
well-informed and most enquiring naturalist for whom Arabian science held
no secrets. With that he was poet, troubadour, orator, as well as very
eccentric and attractive. He was beloved and persecuted in his lifetime,
and long after his death still found enthusiastic disciples.

BACON.--Contemporaneously lived the man whom it is generally the
custom to regard as the distant precursor of experimental science, Roger
Bacon (who must not be confused with Francis Bacon, another learned man who
lived much nearer to our own time). Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar,
occupied himself almost exclusively with physical and natural science. He
passed the greater portion of his life in prison by reason of alleged
sorcery and, more especially, perhaps, because he had denounced the evil
lives of his brethren. He had at least a presentiment of almost all modern
inventions: gunpowder, magnifying glass, telescope, air-pump; he was
distinctly an inventor in optics. In philosophy, properly speaking, he
denounced what was hollow and empty in scholasticism, detesting that
preference should be given to "the straw of words rather than to the grain
of fact," and proclaiming that reasoning "is good to conclude but not to
establish." Without discovering the law of progress, as has too often been
alleged, he arrived at the conclusion that antiquity being the youth of the
world, the moderns are the adults, which only meant that it would be at our
school that the ancients would learn were they to return to earth and that
we ought not to believe blindly in the ancients; and this was an
insurrection against the principle of authority and against the idolatry of
Aristotle. He preached the direct study of nature, observation, and
experiment with the subsequent application of deduction, and especially of
mathematical deduction, to experiment and observation. With all that, he
believed in astrology; for those who are in advance of their time none the
less belong to it: but he was a very great man.



Decadence of Scholasticism. Forebodings of the Coming
Era. Great Moralists. The Kabbala. Sorcery.

DECADENCE OF SCHOLASTICISM.--The fourteenth century dated the
decadence of scholasticism, but saw little new. "Realism" was generally
abandoned, and the field was swept by "nominalism," which was the theory
that ideas only have existence in the brains which conceive them. Thus
Durand de Saint-Pourçain remains famous for having said, "To exist is to be
individually," which at that epoch was very audacious. William of Ockham
repeated the phrase with emphasis; there is nothing real except the
individual. That went so far as to cast suspicion on all metaphysics, and
somewhat on theology. In fact, _although a devout believer_, Ockham
rejected theology, implored the Church not to be learned, because her
science proved nothing, and to content herself with faith: "Science belongs
to God, faith to men." But, or rather in addition, if the ministers of God
were no longer imposing because of their ambitious science, it was
necessary for them to regain their sway over souls by other and better
means. It was incumbent on them to be saintly, to revert to the purity, the
simplicity, and the divine childishness of the primitive Church; and here
he was virtually a forerunner of the Reformation.

Ockham was indeed one of the auxiliaries of Philip the Fair in his struggle
with the Holy See, suffered excommunication, and sought refuge with the
Duke of Bavaria, the foe of the Pope.

continued their mutual strife, sometimes physically even, until the middle
of the fifteenth century. But nominalism always gained ground, having
among other celebrated champions, Peter d'Ailly and Buridan; the one
succeeded in becoming Chancellor of the University of Paris, the other in
becoming its Rector. Buridan has remained famous through his death and his
donkey, both alike legendary. According to a ballad by Villon, Buridan
having been too tenderly loved by Joan of Navarre, wife of Philip the Fair,
was by his order "thrown in a sack into the Seine." By comparison of
dates, the fact seems impossible. According to tradition, either in order
to show the freedom of indifference, or that animals are mere machines,
Buridan declared that an ass with two baskets full of corn placed one on
each side of him and at equal distance from him, would never decide from
which he should feed and would die of starvation. Nothing of the kind is to
be found in his works, but he may have said so in a lecture and his pupils
remembering it have handed it down as a proverb.

PETER D'AILLY; GERSON.--Peter d'Ailly, a highly important
ecclesiastic, head of the College of Navarre, chevalier of the University
of Paris, Cardinal, a leader in the discussions at the Councils at Pisa and
Constance, a drastic reformer of the morals and customs of the Church, did
not evince any marked originality as a philosopher, but maintained the
already known doctrines of nominalism with extraordinary dialectical skill.

Among his pupils he numbered Gerson, who was also Chancellor of the
University of Paris, another highly zealous and energetic reformer, a more
avowed enemy of scholasticism and mysticism, of exaggerated austerity and
astrology, eminently modern in the best sense of the word, whose political
and religious enemies are his title of respect. He was the author of many
small books devoted to the popularization of science, religion, and
morality. To him was long attributed the _Imitation of Jesus Christ_,
which on the whole bears no resemblance to his writings, but which he might
very well have written in old age in his retreat in the peaceful silence of
the Celestines of Lyons.

THE KABBALA.--From the beginning of the fifteenth century the
Renaissance was heralded by a revival of Platonism, both in philosophy and
literature. But it was a Platonism strangely understood, a quaint medley of
Pythagoreanism and Alexandrinism, the source of which is not very clear
(the period not having been much studied). Then arose an incredible
infatuation for the Kabbala--a doctrine which was for a long while the
secret of the Jews, brooded over by them so to speak during the darkness of
the Middle Ages, in which are to be found traces of the most sublime
speculations and of the basest superstitions of antiquity. It contained a
kind of pantheistic theology closely analogous to those of Porphyry and
Iamblichus, as well as processes of magic mingled with astrology. The
Kabbalists believe that the sage, who by his astrological knowledge is
brought into relation with the celestial powers, can affect nature, alter
the course of phenomena, and work miracles. The Kabbala forms part of the
history of the marvelous and of occult science rather than of the history
of philosophy. Nevertheless men of real learning were initiated and were
infatuated, among them the marvelous Pico della Mirandola, Reuchlin, not
less remarkable as humanist and Hebraist, who would have run grave risk at
the hands of the Inquisition at Cologne if he had not been saved by Leo
X. Cardan, a mathematician and physician, was one of the learned men of the
day most impregnated with Kabbalism. He believed in a kind of infallibility
of the inner sense, of the intuition, and regarded as futile all sciences
that proceeded by slow rational operations. He believed himself a mage and
magician. From vanity he spoke of himself in the highest terms and from
cynicism in the lowest. Doubt has been cast on his sincerity and also on
his sanity.

MAGIC.--There were also Paracelsus and Agrippa. Paracelsus, like
Cardan, believed in an intense light infinitely superior to bestial
reasoning and calls to mind certain philosophy of intuition of the present
day. He too believed himself a magician and physician, and effected cures
by the application of astrology to therapeutics. Agrippa did the same with
yet stranger phantasies, passing from absolute scepticism through mysticism
to magi and demonology; in his own time and in subsequent centuries
enjoying the reputation of a devil incarnate as man.



It Is Fairly Accurate to Consider that from the Point of
View of Philosophy, the Middle Ages Lasted until Descartes.

Free-thinkers More or Less Disguised.

Partisans of Reason Apart from Faith, of Observation,
and Of Experiment.

audacity of philosophy rapidly increased. Learned and convinced
Aristotelians were bent, either from sheer love of truth or from a more
secret purpose, on demonstrating to what extent Aristotle, accurately read,
was opposed to the teaching of the Church. For instance, Pomponazzo
revealed that nothing could be drawn from Aristotle in favour of the
immortality of the soul, in which he himself believed fervently, but in
which Aristotle did not believe, hence it was necessary to choose between
the Church and Aristotle; that without the immortality of the soul there
could be no rewards beyond the grave, which was entirely his own opinion,
but whoever should desire to offer excuses for Aristotle could say it was
precisely the existence of punishments and rewards which deprived virtue of
existence, which did away with virtue, since the good that is done for the
sake of reward or from fear of punishment is no longer good; that, still
according to Aristotle, there could never be miracles; that he, Pomponazzo,
believed in all the miracles recorded in the Scriptures; but that Aristotle
would not have believed in them, and could not have believed in them, a
fact which demanded consideration, not assuredly in order to reject belief
in miracles, but in order not to bestow on Aristotle that confidence which
for so long had been too readily placed in him.

In the same way, he took up again the eternal question of the prescience of
God and of human liberty, and showed that no matter what had been said it
was necessary to choose: either we are free and God is not omnipotent, or
God is omnipotent and we are not free. To regard as true this latter
hypothesis, towards which the philosopher evidently leans, would cause God
to be the author of evil and of sin. It would not be impossible for God to
be the author of evil as an essential condition of good, for if evil were
not to exist then there could not be good; nor would it be impossible that
He should be the author, not of sin, but of the possibility of sin in order
that virtue might be possible, there being no virtue where it is impossible
to commit sin; but therein lies a mystery which faith alone can solve, and
which Aristotle at any rate has not solved, therefore let us not place
reliance on Aristotle.

This disguised freethinker, for he does not appear to me to be anything
else, was one of the most original thinkers of the period intermediate
between the Middle Ages and Descartes.

MICHAEL SERVETUS; VANINI.--Such instances of temerity were sometimes
fatal to their authors. Michael Servetus, a very learned Spanish physician
who perhaps discovered the circulation of the blood before Harvey,
disbelieved in the Trinity and in the divinity of Jesus, and, as he was a
Platonist, perceived no intermediaries between God and man save
ideas. Persecuted by the Catholics, he sought refuge at Geneva, believing
Calvin to be more merciful than the Inquisitors, and Calvin burned him

Vanini, half a century later, that is at the commencement of the
seventeenth, a restless, vain, and insolent man, after a life full of
sudden changes of fortune, and yet distinguished, was burnt alive at
Toulouse for certain passages in his _De admirandis ... arcanis_, and
for having said that he would not express his opinion on the immortality of
the soul until he was old, a Jew, and a German.

BRUNO; CAMPANELLA.--Giordano Bruno, an astronomer and one of the
first to affirm that the sun was the centre of the world, professed,
despite certain precautions, a doctrine which confused God with the world
and denied or excluded creation. Giordano Bruno was arrested at Venice in
1593, kept seven years in prison, and finally burnt at Rome in 1600.

Campanella, likewise an Italian, who spent twenty-seven years in a dungeon
for having conspired against the Spanish masters of his country, and who
died in exile in Paris in 1639, was a sceptic in philosophy, or rather an
anti-metaphysician, and, as would be said nowadays, a positivist. There are
only two sources of knowledge, observation and reasoning. Observation makes
us know things--is this true? May not the sensations of things which we
have be a simple phantasmagoria? No; for we have an internal sense, a sense
of our own, which cannot deceive us, which affirms our existence (here is
the _Cogito_ of Descartes anticipated) and which, at the same time,
affirms that there are things which are not ourselves, so that coincidently
the ego and the non-ego are established. Yes, but is this non-ego really
what it seems? It is; granted; but what is it and can we know what it is?
Not without doubt, and here scepticism is unshakable; but in that there is
certitude of the existence of the non-ego, the presumption is that we can
know it, partially, relatively, very relatively, while we remain infinitely
distant from an absolute knowledge, which would be divine. Therefore let us
observe and experiment; let us make the "history" of nature as historians
make the history of the human race. And this is the simple and solid
philosophy of experiment.

But Campanella, like so many more, was a metaphysician possessed by the
devil of metaphysics, and after having imperiously recommended the writing
of only the history of nature, he himself wrote its romance as well. Every
being, he said (and the thought was a very fine one), exists on condition
of being able to exist, and on condition that there be an idea of which it
is the realization, and again on condition that nature is willing to create
it. In other words, nature can, knows what she wishes, and wishes. Now all
beings, in a greater or less degree according to their perfection or
imperfection, feel this triple condition of being able, knowing, and
wishing. Every being can, knows, and wishes, even inorganic matter (here
already is the world as will and representation of Schopenhauer), and God
is only absolute power, absolute knowledge, and absolute will. This is why
all creative things gravitate to God and desire to return to Him as to
their origin, and as the perfection of what they are: the universe has
nostalgia for God.

Campanella was also, as we should say nowadays, a sociologist. He made his
"Republic" as Plato had made his. The Republic of Campanella was called the
_City of the Sun_. It was a community republic, leavened with
aristocracy with "spiritual power" and "temporal power" somewhat after the
manner of Auguste Comte. Campanella was a great sower of ideas.

FRANCIS BACON.--Francis Bacon, lawyer, member of Parliament, Lord
Chancellor of England, personal friend of James I, friend, protector, and
perhaps collaborator with Shakespeare, overthrown as the result of
political animosity and relegated to private life, was a very learned man
with a marvellous mind. Like his namesake, Roger Bacon, but in an age more
favourable to intellectual reform, he attempted a sort of renewal of the
human mind (_Instauratio Magna_) or at least a radical revolution in
the methods and workings of the human mind. Although Francis Bacon
professed admiration for many of the thinkers of antiquity, he urged that
it was wrong to rely on them because they had not sufficiently observed;
one must not, like the schoolmen, have ideas _a priori_, which are
"idols," and there are idols of tribe, of party, of school, of eras;
intentions must not be perceived everywhere in nature, and we must not,
because the sun warms, believe it was created to warm, or because the earth
yields nourishment believe her creation was for the purpose of feeding us,
and that all things converge to man and are put at his service. It is
necessary to proceed by observation, by experiment, and then by induction,
but with prodigious mistrust of induction. Induction consists in drawing
conclusions from the particular to the general, from a certain number of
facts to a law. This is legitimate on condition that the conclusion is not
drawn from a few facts to a law, which is precipitate induction, fruitful
in errors; but from a very large number of facts to a law, which even then
is considered as provisional. As for metaphysics, as for the investigation
of universal law, that should be entirely separated from philosophy itself,
from the "primary philosophy" which does not lead to it; it has its own
field, which is that of faith: "Give to faith what belongeth to faith." In
the main he is uninterested in metaphysics, believing them always to
revolve in a circle and, I do not say, only believes in science and in
method, but has hope only from knowledge and method, an enthusiast in this
respect just as another might be about the super-sensible world or about
ideas, saying human knowledge and human power are really coincident, and
believing that knowledge will support humanity in all calamities, will
prolong human life, will establish a new golden age, etc.

Moreover, let there be none of that eternal and unfounded fear that
knowledge will cause the disappearance of the religious feeling. With
profound conviction and judging by himself, Bacon said: "A little
philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy
bringeth a man's mind about to religion." Such is true philosophy,
"subordinate to the object," attentive to the object, listening to the
voices of the world and only anxious to translate them into human language:
"that is true philosophy which renders the voices of the world the most
accurately possible, like an echo, which writes as if at the dictation of
the world itself, adding nothing of its own, only repeating and

And, as a man is always of his time, he believed in alchemy and in the
possibility of transmuting base metals into gold. But note how he
understood it: "To create a new nature in a given body or to produce new
natures and to introduce them ... he who is acquainted with the forms and
modes of super-inducing yellowness, weight, ductility, fixity, fluidity,
solution, and the rest, with their gradations and methods, will see and
take care that these properties be united in some body, whence its
transformation into gold may follow." Modern chemistry, with scientific
methods highly analogous to those which Bacon indicated or foresaw, has not
made gold, which is not a very useful thing to do, but has done better.

THOMAS HOBBES.--At the end of the sixteenth century, another
Englishman, Thomas Hobbes, began to think. He was, above all else, a
literary man and a sociologist; he translated Thucydides and Homer, he
wrote _Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth_,
which is a manual of despotism, demonstrating that all men in a natural
state were beasts of prey with regard to one another, but that they escaped
this unpleasant fate by submission to a prince who has all rights because
he is perpetually saving his subjects from death, and who can therefore
impose on them whatever he pleases, even scientific dogma or religious
beliefs. Merely regarded as a philosopher, properly so called, Hobbes has
an important position in the history of ideas. Like Francis Bacon, but more
rigorously and authoritatively, he began by separating metaphysics and
theology from philosophy. Philosophy is the art of thinking. That which is
not sensible--mind, soul, God--cannot be thought: can only be believed;
philosophy does not deny all that; merely it does not concern itself
therewith. Here is the whole of positivism established in principle. What
we can think is what we feel. Things are known to us only through
sensations; a thought is a sensation, the human mind is a compound of

No; for I can think of a thing without hearing, seeing, feeling it, etc.

This is because we have memory, which is itself a sensation; it is a
sensation which prolongs itself; to remember is to feel that one has felt;
it is to feel a former sensation which the brain is able to preserve. We
think only by combining current sensations with other current sensations,
or much more often indeed, thanks to memory, by combining current
sensations with older ones, or former sensations with each other. This is
but a fragile basis for knowledge and thought, for sensation is only a
modification of ourselves caused by an external object, and consequently
gives us nothing at all of the external object, and of itself the external
world is eternally unknown to us; but we combine with each other the
illusions that the external world deposits in us through the delusive or
doubtful intermediary of our senses.

When the sensation thus combined with other sensations has become thought,
then ideas begin to exist. They are products of sensation detached from
sensation. They are interassociated by laws that are obscure, yet which can
be vaguely perceived. They awake, so to speak, and call to one another;
every time an idea previously acquired reappears, it is followed by the
thought which accompanied it when it was acquired. In a conversation a
traitor is spoken of. Someone asks what was the value of a piece of silver
in ancient times. This appears incoherent; really it is a natural and
simple association of ideas in which there are few intermediate steps. The
person who listened as the traitor was mentioned thought of Judas, who was
the first traitor of whom he had heard, and of the thirty pieces of silver,
the price of the betrayal by Judas. The association of ideas is more or
less close, more or less loose; it is disconnected in dreams, irregular in
musing, close directly it is dominated and in consequence directed by an
end pursued, by a goal sought; for then there is a desire to attain which
associates nothing of itself, but which, eliminating all ideas that are not
pertinent to the end pursued, permits only the association of those which
have relation to it.

Seeing in the human soul only successive impulses arising from those first
impulses which are the sensations, Hobbes does not believe we are free to
do what we wish; we are carried away by the strongest impulse of our
internal impulses, desire, fear, aversion, love, etc. Nevertheless we
deliberate, we consider different courses to pursue and we decide on the
one we desire to choose. No; we do not deliberate, we only imagine we
deliberate. Deliberation is only a succession of different feelings, and to
the one that gains the day we give the name of volition. "In the
[so-called] deliberation, the final desire or the final fear is called
will." Therefore liberty has no more existence among men than among
animals; will and desire are only one and the same thing considered under
different aspects.

UTILITARIAN MORALITY.--Henceforth there is no morality; without the
power to will this and not to will that, there is no possible
morality. Hobbes retorts with "utilitarian morality": What man should seek
is pleasure, as Aristippus thought; but true pleasure--that which is
permanent and that which is useful to him. Now it is useful to be a good
citizen, a loyal subject, sociable, serviceable to others, careful to
obtain their esteem by good conduct, etc. Morality is interest rightly
understood, and interest rightly understood is absolutely blended with the
morality of duty. The criminal is not a criminal but an idiot; the honest
man is not an honest man but an intelligent one. Observe that a man is
hardly convinced when preached to in the name of duty, but always convinced
when addressed in the name of his own interest.

All this is fairly sensible; but from the time that freedom ceases there
can be no morality, _not even utilitarian_; for it is useless even
from the point of view of his own interests, to preach to a man who is only
a machine moved by the strongest force; and, if he be only that, to lay
down a moral code for him either from the point of view of his own
interests, or from that of morality, or from that of the love of God are
things which are the same and which are as absurd the one as the other. All
philosophy, which does not believe in human liberty, yet which enunciates a
system of morality, is in perpetual contradiction.





Descartes. Cartesianism.

DESCARTES.--The seventeenth century, which was the greatest
philosophic century of modern times and perhaps of any time, began with
René Descartes. Descartes, born at La Haye in Touraine in 1596, of noble
family (his real name was des Quartes), was educated by the Jesuits of the
college of La Flèche, followed the military profession for several years,
then gave himself up to mathematics and became one of the greatest
mathematicians of Europe, traveled all over Europe for his own amusement
and instruction, wrote scientific and philosophical works, of which the
most famous are the _Discourse on_ METHOD, the _Meditations_, and
the _Rules for the Control of the Mind_, resided sometimes in Paris,
sometimes in Holland, and finally, at fifty-four years of age, unhappily
attracted by the flattering invitations of Queen Christina of Sweden,
proceeded to Stockholm, where he succumbed in four months to the severity
of the climate. He died in February, 1650.

THE SYSTEM OF DESCARTES.--In the works of Descartes there are a
general system of philosophy, a psychology, and a method. This order is
here adopted because of the three, in Descartes; it is the third which is
the most important, and which has left the most profound traces. The
foundation of the system of Descartes is belief in God and in the goodness
of God. I say the foundation and not the starting-point. The starting-point
is another matter; but it will be clearly seen that the foundation is what
has just been stated. The starting-point is this: I do not believe,
provisionally, in anything, not wishing to take into account what I have
been taught. I doubt everything. Is there anything I cannot doubt? It
seems to me there is: I cannot doubt that I doubt. Now if I doubt, I
think; if I think, I am. There is one certainty, I am.

And having arrived there, Descartes is at a dead stop, for from the
certitude of one's own existence nothing can be deduced save the certitude
of one's existence. For instance, shall I believe in the existence of
everything that is not myself? There is no reason why I should believe in
it. The world may be a dream. But if I believe in God and in a God of
perfect goodness, I can then believe in something outside of myself, for
God not being able to deceive Himself or me, if He permits me to see the
external world, it is because this external world exists. There are
already, therefore, three things in which I believe: my own existence, that
of God, and that of the universe. Which of these beliefs is the fundamental
one? Evidently, the one not demonstrated; the axiom is that upon which one
rests to demonstrate everything except itself. Now of the three things in
which Descartes believed, his own existence is demonstrated by the
impossibility of thinking or feeling, without feeling his own existence;
the other is demonstrated by the existence of a good God; the existence of
a good God is demonstrated by nothing. It is believed. Hence belief in a
good God is Descartes' foundation. This has not been introduced in order
that he may escape from the _I am_ at which he came to a stop; that
belief certainly existed previously, and if he had recourse to it, it was
because it existed first. Without that, he had too much intellectual
honesty to invent it for a particular need. He had it, and he found it as
it were in reserve when he asked himself if he could go beyond _I
am_. Here was his foundation; all the rest would complete the proof.

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.--Although Descartes rests on God as being his
first principle, he does not fail to prove His existence, and that is
begging the question, something proved by what has to be proved. For if
Descartes believed only in something outside himself because of a good God,
that Being outside himself, God, he can prove only because of the existence
of a good God, who cannot deceive us, and thus is God proved by the belief
in Him. That is begging the question. Descartes does not fail to prove the
existence of God by superabundance as it were; and this, too, in itself
indicates clearly that faith in God is the very foundation of the
philosophy of Descartes. After having taken it as the basis of reasoning,
he takes it as the goal of reasoning, which indicates that the idea of God,
so to speak, encircled his mind and that he found it at every ultimate
point of thought.

He proves it, therefore, first by an argument analogous to that of
St. Anselm, which is this: we, imperfect and finite, have the idea of a
perfect and infinite Being; we are not capable of this idea. Therefore it
must have come to us from a Being really perfect and infinite, and hence
this perfect Being exists.

Another proof, that of God regarded as cause. First: I exist. Who made me?
Was it myself? No, if it had been myself I should have endowed myself with
all the perfections of which I can conceive and in which I am singularly
deficient. Therefore it must be some other being who created me. It was my
parents. No doubt, but who created my parents and the parents of my
parents? One cannot go back indefinitely from cause to cause, and there
must have been a first one.

Secondly: even my own actual existence, my existence at this very moment,
is it the result of my existence yesterday? Nothing proves it, and there is
no necessity because I existed just now that I should exist at
present. There must therefore be a cause at each moment and a continuous
cause. That continuous cause is God, and the whole world is a creation
perpetually continued, and is only comprehensible as continuous creation
and is only explicable by a Creator.

THE WORLD.--Thus sure of himself, of God, and of the world,
Descartes studies the world and himself. In the world he sees souls and
matter; matter is substance in extensions, souls are substance not in
extension, spiritual substance. The extended substance is endowed with
impulse. Is the impulse self-generated, are the bodies self-impelled? No,
they are moved. What is the primary motive force? It is God. Souls are
substances without extension and motive forces. In this respect they are
analogous to God. They are united to bodies and act on them. How? This is
an impenetrable mystery, but they are closely and substantially united to
the bodies, which is proved by physical pains depressing the soul and moral
sufferings depressing the body; and they act on them, not by creating
movements, for the quantity of movements is always the same, but by
directing the movements after this fashion or that. Souls being spiritual,
there is no reason for their disaggregation, that is, their demise, and in
fact they do not die.

It is for this reason that Descartes lays such stress on animals not having
souls. If they had souls, the souls would be spiritual, they would not be
susceptible to disaggregation and would be immortal. "Save atheism, there
is no doctrine more dangerous and detestable than that," but animals are
soulless and purely mechanism; Descartes exerts himself to prove this in
great detail, and he thus escapes avowing the immortality of the souls of
animals, which is repugnant to him, or by allowing that they perish with
the bodies to be exposed to the objection: "Will it not be the same with
the souls of men?"

THE FREEDOM OF THE SOUL.--The human soul is endowed with freedom to
do good or evil. What proof is there of this freedom? First, the inward
feeling that we have. Every evident idea is true. Now, not only have we
the idea of this freedom, but it would be impossible for us not to have it.
Freedom "is known without proofs, merely by the experience we have of it."
It is by the feeling of our freedom, of our free-will that we understand
that we exist as a being, as a thing which is not merely a thing. The true
_ego_ is the will. Even more than an intelligent being, man is a free
individual, and only feels himself to be a man when feeling himself free,
so that he might not believe himself to be intelligent, nor think himself
sensible, etc., but not to think himself free would for him be moral
suicide; and in fact he actually never does anything which he does not
believe himself to be free to do--that is, which he does not believe that
he might avoid doing, if he so wished. Those who say, "It is simply the
feeling that it is better for ourselves which tends to make us do this
instead of doing that," are deeply in error. They forget that we often
prefer the worst for ourselves in order to prove to ourselves that we are
free and therefore have no other _motive power than our own freedom_.
(And this is exactly what contemporaneous philosophy has thus formulated:
"Will is neither determinate nor indeterminate, it is determinative.")
"Even when a very obvious reason leads us to a thing, although morally
speaking it is difficult for us to do the opposite, nevertheless, speaking
absolutely, we can, for we are always free to prevent ourselves from
pursuing a good thing clearly known ... provided only that _we think it
is beneficial thereby to give evidence of the truth of our free-will_."
It is the pure and simple wish to be free which _creates an action;_
it is the all-powerful liberty.

As has been happily observed, in relation to the universe the philosophy of
Descartes is a mechanical philosophy; in relation to man the philosophy of
Descartes is a philosophy of will. As has also been remarked, there are
very striking analogies between Corneille and Descartes from the point of
view of the apotheosis of the will, and the _Meditations_ having
appeared after the great works of Corneille, it is not so much that
Corneille was a Cartesian, as that Descartes was a follower of Corneille.

PSYCHOLOGY OF DESCARTES.--Descartes has almost written a psychology,
what with his _Treatise on the Passions_ and his letters and, besides,
certain passages in his _Meditations_. The soul thinks and has
passions. There are three kinds of ideas, the factitious, the adventitious,
and the innate; the factitious ideas are those which the imagination forms;
the adventitious ideas are those suggested by the external world through
the intermediary of the senses; the innate ideas are those constituting the
mind itself, the conditions under which it thinks and apart from which it
cannot think: we cannot conceive an object not extended, nor an object
apart from time, nor anything without a cause; the ideas of time, space,
and cause are innate ideas; we cannot conceive ourselves as other than
free; the idea of liberty is an innate idea.

The soul has passions; it is therein that, without dependence on the body,
it has intimate relations with and is modified by it, not radically, but in
its daily life. There are operations of the soul which cannot strictly be
termed passions, and yet which are directed or at least _influenced_
by the body. Memory is passive, and consequently memory is a species of
passion. The lively sensations which the body transmits to the brain leave
impressions (Malebranche would say "traces"), and according to these
impressions the soul is moved a second or a third time, and that is what is
called memory. "The impressions of the brain render it suitable to stir
the soul in the same way as it has been stirred before, and also to make it
recollect something, just as the folds in a piece of paper or linen make it
more suitable to be folded anew as it was before than if it had never been
thus folded." Similarly, the association of ideas is passive, and in
consequence is a kind of passion. The association of ideas is the fact that
thought passes along the same path it has already traversed, and follows in
its labyrinth the thread which interlinks its thoughts, and this thread is
the traces which thoughts have left in the brain. In abandoning ourselves
to the association of ideas, we are passive and we yield ourselves freely
to a passion. That is so true that current speech itself recognizes this:
musing is a passion, it is possible to have a passion for musing, and
musing is nothing else than the association of ideas in which the will does
not intervene.

THE PASSIONS.--Coming to the passions strictly speaking, there are
some which are of the soul and only of the soul; the passion for God is a
passion of the soul, the passion for liberty is a passion of the soul; but
there are many more which are the effects of the union of the soul with the
body. These passions are excited in the soul by a state of the body or a
movement of the body or of some part of the body; they are "emotions" of
the soul corresponding to "movements" of the machine. All passions have
relation to the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain, and according as
they relate to the former or the latter are they expansive or oppressive.
There are six principal passions, of which all the rest are only
modifications: admiration, love, desire, joy, having relation to the
appetite of happiness; hatred, sadness, having relation to the fear of
pain. "All the passions are good and may become bad" (Descartes in this
deviates emphatically from Stoicism for which the passions are simply
maladies of the soul). All passions are good in themselves. They are
destined (this is a remarkable theory) to cause the duration of thoughts
which would otherwise pass and be rapidly effaced; by reason of this, they
cause man to act; if he were only directed by his thoughts, unaccompanied
by his passions, he would never act, and if it be recognized that man is
born for action, it will at the same time be recognized that it is
necessary he should have passions.

But, you will say, there can be good passions (of a nature to give force to
just ideas) and evil passions.

No, they are all good, but all also have their bad side, their deviation,
rather, which enables them to become bad. Therefore, in each passion no
matter what it be, it is always possible to distinguish between the passion
itself, which is always good, and the excess, the deviation, the
degradation or corruption of this passion which constitutes, if it be
desired to call it so, an evil passion, and this is what Descartes
demonstrates, passion by passion, in the fullest detail, in his _Treatise
on the Passions_.

THE PART OF THE SOUL.--If it is thus, what will be the part of the
soul (the soul is the will)? It will be to abandon itself to good passions,
or more accurately to the good that is in all passions, and to reduce the
passions to be "nothing more than themselves." In courage, for example,
there is courage and temerity. The action of the will, enlightened by the
judgment, will consist in reducing courage to be nothing but courage. In
fear, there is cowardice and there is the feeling of self-preservation
which, according to Descartes, is the foundation of fear and which is a
very good passion. The action of the soul is to reduce fear to simple

But _how_ will the will effect these metamorphoses or at least these
departures, these separations, these reductions to the due proportion?
_Directly_ it can effect _nothing_ upon the passions; it cannot
_remove_ them; it cannot even remove the baser portions of them; but
it can exercise influence over them by the intermediary of reasoning; it
can lead them to the attentive consideration of the thought that they carry
with them, and by this consideration modify them. For instance, if it is a
question of fear, the soul forces fear to consider that the peril is much
less than was imagined, and thus little by little brings it back to simple

Note that this method, although indirect, is very potent; for it ends by
really transforming the passions into their opposites. Persuade fear that
there is less peril in marching forward than in flight and that the most
salutary flight is the flight forward and you have changed fear to
courage.--But such an influence of the will over the passions is
extraordinarily unlikely: it will never take place.--Yes, by habit! Habit
too is a passion, or, if you will, a passive state, like that of memory or
the association of ideas, and there are men possessed only of that passion.
But the will, by the means which have been described, by imposing an act, a
first act, creates a commencement of habit, by imposing a second confirms
that habit, by imposing a third strengthens it, and so on. In plain words,
the will, by reasoning with the passions and reasoning with them
incessantly, brings them back to what is good in them and ends by bringing
them back there permanently, so that it arrives at having only the passions
it desires, or, if you prefer it, for it is the same thing, at having only
the passion for good. Morality consists in loving noble passions, as was
later observed by Vauvenargues, and that means to love all the passions,
each for what is good in it, that is to reduce each passion to what real
goodness is inherent in it, and that is to gather all the passions into
one, which is the passion of duty.

THE METHOD OF DESCARTES.--As has been observed, not only had
Descartes influence through all that he wrote, but it was by his method
that he has exerted the greatest and most durable sway, and that is why we
conclude with the examination of his method. It is all contained in this:
to accept nothing as true except what is evident; to accept as true all
that is evident. Descartes therefore made evidence the touchstone of
certainty. But mark well the profound meaning of this method: what is it
that gives me the assurance of the evidence of such or such an idea? How
shall I know that such an idea is really evident to me? Because I see it in
perfect clearness? No, that does not suffice: the evidence may be
deceptive; there can be false evidence; all the wrong ideas of the
philosophers of antiquity, save when they were sophists, had for them the
character of being evident. Why? Why should error be presented to the mind
as an evident truth? Because in truth, in profound truthfulness, it must
be admitted that judgment does not depend upon the intelligence. And on
what does it depend? On will, on free-will. This is how. No doubt, error
depends on our judgment, but our judgment depends on our will in the sense
that it depends on us whether we adhere to our judgment without it being
sufficiently precise or do not adhere to it because it is not sufficiently
precise: "If I abstain from giving my judgment on a subject when I do not
conceive it with sufficient clearness and distinction, it is evident that I
shall not be deceived." Evidence is therefore not only a matter of
judgment, of understanding, of intelligence, it is a matter of energetic
will and of freedom courageously acquired. We are confronted with evidence
when, with a clear brain, we are capable, in order to accept or refuse what
it lays before us, of acting "after such a fashion," of having put
ourselves in such a state of the soul that we feel "that no external force
can constrain us to think in such or such a way."

These external forces are authority, prejudices, personal interest, or that
of party. The faculty of perceiving evidence is therefore the triumph both
of sound judgment in itself and of a freedom of mind which, supposing
probity, scrupulousness, and courage, and perhaps the most difficult of all
courage, supposes a profound and vigorous morality. Evidence is given only
to men who are first highly intelligent and next, or rather before all
else, are profoundly honest. Evidence is not a consequence of morality; but
morality is the _condition_ of evidence.

There is the foundation of the method of Descartes; add to it his advice on
the art of reasoning, which even in his time was not at all novel, but
which with him is very precise; not to generalize too hastily, not to be
put off with words, but to have a clear definition of every word, etc., and
thus a sufficient idea of it will be obtained.

Now first, to this method Descartes was unfaithful, as always happens, and
often accepted the suggestions of his magnificent imagination as the
evidences of his reason; secondly, the touchstone of evidence is certainly
the best, but is far from being infallible (and Vico has ridiculed it with
as much sense as wit) and the freest mind can still find false things
evident; yet, thirdly, favouring freedom of research self-controlled,
individual and scornful of all authority, the method of Descartes has
become a banner, a motto, and a flag for all modern philosophy.

result has been that all modern philosophy, with few exceptions, has
recognised Descartes as its parent--that individual evidence, if it may be
thus expressed, favouring temerity and each believing himself closer to the
truth the more he differed from others, and consequently was unable to
suspect himself of being subject to influences, individual evidence has
provided a fresh opportunity for self-deception; finally, that Descartes,
by a not uncommon metamorphosis, by means of his system which he did not
follow, has become the head or the venerated ancestor of doctrines which he
would have detested and which he already did detest more than all
others. Because he said that evidence alone and the free investigation of
evidence led to truth, he has become the ancestor of the sceptics who are
persuaded that surrender must be made only to evidence and that evidence
cannot be found; and he has become the ancestor of the positivists who
believe that evidence certainly exists somewhere, but not in metaphysics or
in theodicy, or in knowledge of the soul, of immortality, and of God,
branches of knowledge which surpass our means of knowing, which are in fact
outside knowledge. So that this man who conceived more than any man, this
man who so often constructed without a sure foundation, and this man, yet
again, as has been aptly said, who always thought by innate ideas, by his
formula has become the master and above all the guarantor of those who are
the most reserved and most distrustful as to philosophic construction,
innate ideas, and imagination. This does not in the least diminish his
brilliant merit; it is only one of those changes of direction in which the
history of ideas abounds.



All the Seventeenth Century was under the Influence of Descartes.
Port-Royal, Bossuet, Fénelon, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibnitz.

CARTESIAN INFLUENCE.--Nearly all the seventeenth century was
Cartesian, and in the general sense of the word, not only as supporters of
the method of evidence, but as adherents of the general philosophy of
Descartes. Gassendi (a Provençal, and not an Italian), professor of
philosophy at Aix, subsequently in Paris, was not precisely a faithful
disciple of Descartes, and he opposed him several times; he had leanings
towards Epicurus and the doctrine of atoms; he drew towards Hobbes, but he
was also a fervent admirer of Bacon, and so approached Descartes, who
thought very highly of him, though impatiently galled by his criticisms.
After the example of Epicurus he was the most sober and austere of men, and
of the two it was Descartes rather than he who was Epicurean in the common
use of the word. According to a tradition, which to my mind rests on
insufficient proof, he was an instructor of Molière.

All the thinkers of the seventeenth century came more or less profoundly
under the Cartesian influence: Pascal, Bossuet, Fénelon, Arnauld, and all
Port-Royal. This influence was to diminish only in the eighteenth century,
though kept up by the impenitent Fontenelle, but outweighed by that of
Locke, to reappear very vigorously in the nineteenth century in France in
the school of Maine de Biran and of Cousin.

MALEBRANCHE.--A separate niche must be made for the Cartesians,
almost as great as Descartes, who filled the seventeenth century with their
renown,--the Frenchman Malebranche, the Dutchman Spinoza, and the German
Leibnitz. Pushing the theories of Descartes further than Descartes would
himself in all probability have desired to, from what Descartes had said
that it was only _through God_ that we perceived accurately,
Malebranche declared that it was only _in God_ that we perceived
accurately, and fundamentally this is the same idea; it can only be deemed
that Malebranche is the more precise: "God alone is known by Himself [is
believed in without uncertainty]; there is only He that we can see in
immediate and direct perspective." All the rest we see in Him, in His
light, in the light He creates in our minds. When we see, it is that we are
in Him. Evidence is divine light. He is the link of ideas. (And thus
Malebranche brought Plato near to Descartes and showed that, without the
latter being aware of it, they both said the same thing.) God is always the
cause and as He is the cause of all real things, He is cause also of all
truths, and as He is everywhere in real objects, He is also everywhere in
the true ideas which we can have, or rather in which we can participate.
When we seek a truth we pray without thinking we do so; attention is a

In the same way, from the saying of Descartes that the universe is a
continuous creation, Malebranche deduced or rather concluded that our
thoughts and actions are acts of God. There can be no action of the body on
the soul to produce ideas; that would be inconceivable; but on the
occasion, for instance, of our eyes resting on an object, God gives us an
idea of that object, whether in conformity or not we cannot tell; but at
any rate He gives us that idea of the object which He wishes us to have.

There is no action of our soul on our body; that would be
inconceivable. But God to our will adds a force having a tendency towards
goodness as a rule, and to each of our volitions adds a force tending to
its execution and capable of executing it.

Then, when our will is evil and we execute it, does God sin in our name?

Certainly not; because sin is not an act; it consists in doing nothing; it
consists precisely in the soul not acting on the body; therefore it is not
a force but a weakness. Sin is that God has withdrawn Himself from us. The
sinner is only a being who is without strength because he is lacking in

The principle of morality is the respect for order and the love of
order. That makes two degrees, the first of which is regularity and the
second virtue. To conform to order is highly rational but without merit
(_e.g._, to give money to the poor from habit or possibly from
vanity). To love order and to desire that it should be greater, more
complete, and nearer to the will of God, is to adhere to God, to live in
God, just as to see rightly is to see in God. All morality, into the
details of which we will not enter, evolves from the love of order. The
universe is a vast mechanism, as was stated by Descartes, set in motion and
directed by God--that is to say, by the laws established by God; for God
acts only by general dispositions (which are laws) and not by particular
dispositions. In other words, there exists a will, but there are no

MIRACLES.--But then you will say there are no miracles; for miracle
is precisely a particular will traversing and interrupting the general

To begin with, there are very few miracles, which therefore permits order
to subsist; it would be only if there were incessant miracles that order
would be non-existent. Next, a miracle is a warning God gives to men
because of their weakness, to remind them that behind the laws there is a
Lawgiver, behind the general dispositions a Being who disposes. Because of
their intellectual weakness, if they never saw any derogation from the
general laws they would take them to be fatalities. A miracle is a grace
intervening in things, just as grace properly so-called intervenes in human
actions. And it is not contradictory to the general design of God, since
by bringing human minds back to the truth that there is a Being who wills,
it accustoms them to consider all general laws as permanent acts, but also
as the acts of the Being who wills. The miracle has the virtue of making
everything in the world miraculous, which is true. Hence the miracle
confirms the idea of order. Therein, perhaps alone, the exception proves
the rule.

SPINOZA.--Spinoza, who during his life was a pure Stoic and the
purest of Stoics, polishing the lenses of astronomical telescopes in order
to gain his living, refusing all pensions and all the professorial
positions offered to him, and living well-nigh on nothing, had read
Descartes and, to conform to the principle of evidence, had begun by
renouncing his religion, which was that of the Jews. His general outlook
on the world was this: There is only one God. God is all. Only He has His
attributes--that is to say, His manners of being and His modes, that is His
modifications, as the sun (merely a comparison) has as its manners of
being, its roundness, colour, and heat, as modifications its rays,
terrestrial heat, direct and diffused light, etc. Now God has two
attributes, thought and extension, as had already been observed by
Descartes; and for modifications He has exactly all we can see, touch, or
feel, etc. The human soul is an attribute of God, as is everything else; it
is an attribute of God in His power. It is not free, for all that comes
from God, all that _is of God_, is a regular and necessary development
of God Himself. "There is nothing contingent" [nothing which may either
happen or not happen]. All things are determined, by the necessity of the
divine nature, to exist and to act in a given manner. There is therefore
no free-will in the soul, the soul is determined to will this or that by a
cause which is itself determined by another and that by another, and so on
to infinity.

Nevertheless we believe ourselves to be free and according to the principle
of evidence we are; for nothing is more evident to us than our liberty. We
are as intimately convinced of our liberty as of our existence and we
_all_ affirm, I am free,--with the same emphasis that Descartes
affirms: I am. I am and I am free are the two things it is impossible for
man to doubt, no matter what effort he makes.

No doubt, but it is an illusion. It is the illusion of a being who feels
himself as cause, but does not feel himself as effect. Try to imagine a
billiard ball which feels it moves others, but which does not feel that it
is moved. What we call decision is an idea which decides us because it
exercises more power over us than the others do; what we term deliberation
is a hesitancy between two or three ideas which at the moment have equal
force; what we name volition is an idea, and what we call will is our
understanding applied to facts. We do not want to fight; we conceive the
idea of fighting and the idea carries us away; we do not want to hang
ourselves; we have the obsessing idea of hanging ourselves and this thought
runs away with us.

HIS MORAL SYSTEM.--Spinoza wrote a system of morality. Is it not
radically impossible to write a system of morality when the author does not
believe in free-will? The admirable originality of Spinoza, even though
his idea can be contested, is precisely that morality depends on belief in
the necessity of all things--that is, the more one is convinced of this
necessity so much the more does one attain high morality--that is, the more
one believes oneself free the more one is _immoral_. The man who
believes himself free claims to run counter to the universal order, and
morality precisely is adherence to it; the man who believes himself free
seeks for an individual good just as if there could be an individual good,
just as if the best for each one were not to submit to the necessary laws
of everything, laws which constitute what is good; the man who thinks
himself free sets himself against God, believes himself God since he
believes himself to be creator of what he does, and since he believes
himself capable of deranging something in the mechanism and of introducing
a certain amount of movement. As a matter of fact, he does nothing of the
kind; but he believes that he does it, and this mere thought, false and low
as it is, keeps him in the most miserable condition of life; to sum up, a
man who believes himself free may not perhaps be an atheist, but he is

On the contrary, the man who does not believe himself free believes he is
in the hands of God, and that is the beginning of wisdom and the beginning
of virtue. We are in the hands of God as the clay is in those of the
potter; the mad vase would be the one which reproached the potter for
having made it small instead of big, common instead of decorative. It is
the beginning of wisdom to believe oneself in the hands of God; to see Him,
to see Him the least indistinctly that we can, therein lies the highest
wisdom; we must see His designs, or at least His great design and associate
ourselves with it, thus becoming not only part of Him, which we always are,
but a conscient part of Him.

This is the love of God, and the love of God is virtue itself. We ought to
love God without consideration of the good He can do us and of the
penalties He can inflict upon us; for to love God from love of a beneficent
God or from fear of a punitive God is not to love God but to love oneself.

THE PASSIONS.--We have our passions as enemies and as obstacles to
our elevation to this semi-perfection. It is they which cause us to do
immoral acts. "Immoral," has that a meaning from the moment that we do
nothing which we are not obliged to do? Yes, just as when led by our
deceitful mind we have arrived necessarily at a false idea, the fact of
this thought being necessary does not prevent it from being false; we may
have been led by necessity to commit a villainous action, but that does not
prevent its being immoral. The passions are our imperfections, omissions,
gaps in a soul which is not full of the idea of God and of universal order
and the love of God and of universal order, and which, in consequence,
lives individually--that is, separated from the universe.

The passions are infinite in number and Spinoza, in a bulky volume,
furnished a minute and singularly profound description of the principal
ones alone, into the details of which we regret that we cannot enter. The
_Ethics_ of Spinoza is an incomparable masterpiece.

The study of the passions is very salutary, because in studying them one
gets so detached from them that one can perceive their emptiness, their
meanness, and their puerile, nay, even bestial character. It might even be
added that the mere thought of studying them is already an act of
detachment in reference to them. "Thou wouldst not seek Me, hadst thou not
already found Me," said God to Pascal. "Thou wouldst not make
investigations about us, hadst thou not already quitted us," the passions
might say to the philosopher.

SANCTIONS OF MORALITY.--What are the sanctions of morality? They are
necessary sanctions; just as everything is necessary and may even be said
to be mechanical. There is neither merit nor demerit and the criminal is
not culpable; only he is outside order, and everything must be in order.
"He who is maddened by the bite of a mad dog is certainly innocent; yet
anyone has the right to suffocate him. In the same way, the man who cannot
govern his passions by fear of the law is a very excusable invalid; yet he
cannot enjoy peace of mind, or the knowledge of God, or even the love of
God, and it is necessary that he perish." Through death he has re-entered
within order.

But does the sanction of beyond-the-grave exist, and is the soul immortal,
and are we to be rewarded therein in another life? The conclusion of
Spinoza on this matter is hesitating, but at the risk of misrepresenting
it, which I fear to do, it seems to me that it can be thus summed
up--_The soul makes itself immortal_, in proportion as by the
knowledge and love of God it participates more in God. In proportion it
makes itself divine; and approaching perfection, by the same progress it
also approaches immortality. It is conceivable that by error and sin it
kills itself, and by virtue renders itself imperishable. This immortality
is not or does not seem to be personal, it is literally a definite re-entry
into the bosom of God; Spinozian immortality would therefore be a
prolongation of the same effort which we make in this life to adhere to
universal order; the recompense for having adhered to it here below is to
be absorbed in it there, and in that lies true beatitude. Here below we
ought to see everything from the point of view of eternity (_sub specie
aeternitatis_), and this is a way of being eternal; elsewhere we shall
be in eternity itself.

LEIBNITZ.--Leibnitz possessed a universal mind, being historian,
naturalist, politician, diplomatist, scholar, theologian, mathematician;
here we will regard him only as philosopher. For Leibnitz the basis, the
substance of all beings is not either thought or extension as with
Descartes, but is force, productive of action. "What does not act does not
exist." Everything that exists is a force, either action or tendency to
action. And force, all force has two characteristics: it desires to do, it
wishes to think. The world is the graduated compound of all these
forces. Above all there is the supreme force, God, who is infinite force,
infinite thought; by successive descents those base and obscure forces are
reached which seem to have neither power nor thought, and yet have a
minimum of power and even of thought, so to speak, latent. God thinks and
acts infinitely; man thinks and acts powerfully, thanks to reason, which
distinguishes him from the rest of creation; the animal acts and thinks
dimly, but it does act and think, for it has a soul composed of memory and
of the results and consequences of memory, and by parenthesis
"three-fourths of our own actions are governed by memory, and most
frequently we act like animals"; plants act, and if they do not think, at
least feel (which is still thought), though more dimly than animals; and
finally in the mineral kingdom the power of action and thought slumber, but
are not non-existent since they can be transformed into plants, animals,
and men, into living matter which feels and thinks.

Therefore, as was later on to be maintained by Schopenhauer, everything is
full of souls, and of souls which are forces as well as intelligences. The
human soul is a force too, like the body. Between these two forces, which
seem to act on one another and which certainly act in concert in such
fashion that the movement desired by the soul is executed by the body or
that the soul obviously assents to a movement desired by the body, what can
be the affinity and the relation, in what consists their concurrence and
concord? Leibnitz (and there was already something of the same nature
suggested by Descartes) believes that all the forces of the world act, each
spontaneously; but that among all the actions they perform there exists an
agreement imposed by God, a concord establishing universal order, a
"preestablished harmony" causing them all to co-operate in the same
design. Well, then, between the soul, this force, and the body, this force
also, this harmony reigns as between any force whatever in nature and one
and all of the others; and that is the explanation of the union and concord
between the soul and the body. Imagine two well-constructed clocks wound up
by the same maker; they indicate the same hour, and it might appear that
this one directs the other, or that the other directs the first. All the
forces of the world are clocks which agree with each other, because they
have been regulated in advance by the divine clockmaker, and they all
indicate the eternal hour.

THE RADICAL OPTIMISM OF LEIBNITZ.--From all these general views on
matter, on mind and on the mind, Leibnitz arrived at a radical optimism
which is the thing for which he has since been most ridiculed, and by
which, at any rate, he has remained famous. He believes that all is good,
despite the evil of which no one can dispute the existence; and he believes
that all is the best _possible_ in the best of _possible_
worlds. In fact, God is supreme wisdom and supreme goodness; that was quite
evident to Descartes, who in the matter of evidence was not easily
satisfied. This perfect wisdom and perfect goodness could choose only what
is best.--But yet evil exists! Diminish it as much as you choose, it still
exists.--It exists by a necessity inherent in what is created. Everything
created is imperfect. God alone is perfect; what is imperfect is by its
definition evil mingled with good. Evil is only the boundary of good, where
God was compelled to stop in creating beings and things other than Himself,
and if He had created only according to absolute goodness, He could have
created only Himself. And that is the precise meaning of this phrase "the
best of possible worlds"; the world is perfect so far as that which is
created, and therefore imperfect, can be perfect; so far as what is not God
can be divine; the world is God Himself as far as He can remain Himself
whilst being anything else than Himself. THE THREE EVILS.--Let us
distinguish in order to comprehend better. There are three evils: the
metaphysical, the physical, and the moral. Metaphysical evil is this very
fact of not being perfection; it is natural enough that what emanates only
from perfection should not be perfection. Physical evil is suffering; God
cannot _will_ suffering, desire it, or cherish it; but He can permit
it as a means of good, as a condition of good; for there would be no moral
good if there were not occasion for struggle, and there would be no
occasion for struggling if physical evil did not exist; imagine a paradise;
all the inhabitants merely exist and never have cause to show the slightest
endurance, the least courage, the smallest virtue. And finally, as to
moral evil, which is sin, God can even less desire that it should exist,
but He can admit its existence, _allow it to be_, to afford men
occasion for merit or demerit. Nothing is more easy than to criticize God
whilst considering only a portion of His work and not considering it as a
whole. He must have created it to be a whole and it is as a whole that it
must be judged. And precisely because the whole cannot be comprehended by
anyone, "hold thy peace, foolish reason," as Pascal said, and judge not or
judge _a priori_, since here it is not possible to judge by
experience; and declare that the Perfect can have willed only the most
perfect that is possible.

THE POSSIBLE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE.--There still remains the
fundamental objection: to reduce God to the conditions of the possible is
to limit Him, and it is useless to say that God is justified if He has done
all the good possible. He is not; the words "possible" and "impossible"
having no meaning to Him who is omnipotent, and by definition infinite
power could effect the impossible.

Yes, Leibnitz replies, there is a metaphysical impossibility, there is an
impossibility in the infinite; this impossibility is absurdity, is
contradiction. Could God make the whole smaller than the part or any line
shorter than a straight one? Reason replies in the negative. Is God
therefore limited? He is limited by the absurd and that means He is
unlimited; for the absurd is a falling away. It is therefore credible that
the mixture of evil and good is a metaphysical necessity to which I will
not say God submits, but in which He acts naturally, and that the absence
of evil is a metaphysical contradiction, an absurdity in itself, which God
cannot commit precisely because He is perfect; and no doubt, instead of
drawing this conclusion, we should actually see it, were the totality of
things, of their relations, of their concordance, and of their harmony
known to us.

The optimism of Leibnitz was ridiculed specially in the _Candide_ of
Voltaire, ingeniously defended by Rousseau, magnificently defended by
Victor Hugo in the following verses, well worthy of Leibnitz:

 "Oui peut-être au delà de la sphère des nues,
  Au sein de cet azur immobile et dormant,
  Peut-être faites-vous des choses inconnues
  Où la douleur de l'homme entre comme élément."



Locke: His Ideas on Human Liberty, Morality, General
Politics, and Religious Politics.

LOCKE.--Locke, very learned in various sciences--physics, chemistry,
medicine, often associated with politics, receiving enlightenment from
life, from frequent travels, from friendships with interesting and
illustrious men, always studying and reflecting until an advanced old age,
wrote only carefully premeditated works: his _Treatise of Government_
and _Essay on the Human Understanding_.

Locke appears to have written on the understanding only in order to refute
the "innate ideas" of Descartes. For Locke innate ideas have no
existence. The mind before it comes into contact with the external world is
a blank sheet, and there is nothing in the mind which has not first come
through the senses. What, then, are ideas? They are sensations registered
by the brain, and they are also sensations elaborated and modified by
reflection. These ideas then commingle in such a manner as to form an
enormous mass of combinations. They are commingled either in a natural or
an artificial manner. In a natural manner, that is in a way conforming to
the great primary ideas given us by reflection, the idea of cause, the idea
of end, the idea of means to an end, the idea of order, etc., and it is the
harmony of these ideas which is commonly termed reason; they become
associated by accident, by the effects of emotion, by the effect of custom,
etc., and then they give birth to prejudices, errors, and
superstitions. The passions of the soul are aspects of pleasure and pain.
The idea of a possible pleasure gives birth in us to a desire which is
called ambition, love, covetousness, gluttony; the idea of a possible pain
gives birth in us to fear and horror, and this fear and horror is called
hatred, jealousy, rage, aversion, disgust, scorn. At bottom we have only
two passions, the desire of enjoyment, and the fear of suffering.

THE FREEDOM OF MAN.--Is man free? Appealing to experience and
making use only of it and not of intimate feeling, Locke declares in the
negative. A will always seems to him determined by another will, and this
other by another to infinity, or by a motive, a weight, a motive power
which causes a leaning to right or left. Will certainly exists--that is to
say, an exact and lively desire to perform an action, or to continue an
action, or to interrupt an action, but this will is not free, for to
represent it as free is to represent it as capable of wishing what it does
not wish. The will is an anxiety to act in such or such a fashion, and this
anxiety, on account of its character of anxiety, of strong emotion, of
tension of the soul, appears to us free, appears to us an internal force
which is self-governed and independent; we feel consciousness of will in
the effort. This tension must not be denied, but it must be recognised as
the effect of a potent desire which the obstacle excites; this tension,
therefore, is an indication of nothing except the potency of the desire and
the existence of an obstacle. Now this desire, so potent that it is
irritated by the obstacle, and, so to speak, unites us against it, is a
passion dominating and filling our being; so that we are never more swayed
by passion than when we believe ourselves to be exercising our will, and in
consequence the more we desire the less are we free.

It is not essential formally and absolutely to confound will with
desire. Overpowered by heat, we desire to drink cold water, and because we
know that that would do us harm we have the will not to drink; but although
this is an important distinction it is not a fundamental one; what incites
us to drink is a passion, what prevents us is another passion, one more
general and stronger, the desire not to die, and because this passion by
meeting with and fighting another produces in all our being a powerful
tension, it is none the less a passion, even if we ought not to say that it
is a still more impassioned passion.

LOCKE'S THEORY OF POLITICS.--In politics Locke was the adversary of
Hobbes, whose theories of absolutism have already been noticed. He did not
believe that the natural state was the war of all against all. He believed
men formed societies not to escape cannibalism, but more easily to
guarantee and protect their natural rights: ownership, personal liberty,
legitimate defence. Society exists only to protect these rights, and the
reason of its existence lies in this duty to defend them. The sovereign
therefore is not the saviour of the nation, he is its law-maker and
magistrate. If he violates the rights of man, he acts so directly contrary
to his mission and his mandate that insurrection against him is
legitimate. The "wise Locke," as Voltaire always called him, was the
inventor of the Rights of Man.

In religious politics he was equally liberal and advocated the separation
of Church and State; the State, according to him, should not have any
religion of its own, its province being only to protect equally the liberty
of all denominations. Locke was discussed minutely by Leibnitz, who,
without accepting the innate ideas of Descartes, did not accept the ideas
through sensation of Locke, and said: "There is nothing in the intelligence
which has not first been in the senses," granted ... "except the
intelligence itself." The intelligence has not innate ideas born ready
made; but it possesses forms of its own in which the ideas arrange
themselves and take shape, and this is the due province of the
intelligence. And it was these forms which later on Kant was to call the
categories of the intellect, and at bottom Descartes meant nothing else by
his innate ideas. Locke exerted a prodigious and even imperious influence
over the French philosophers of the eighteenth century.



Berkeley: Highly Idealist Philosophy which Regarded Matter as Non-existent.

David Hume: Sceptical Philosophy.

The Scottish School: Common Sense Philosophy.

BERKELEY.--To the "sensualist" Locke succeeded Berkeley, the
unrestrained "idealist," like him an Englishman. He began to write when
very young, continued to write until he was sixty, and died at
sixty-eight. He believed neither in matter nor in the external world. There
was the whole of his philosophy. Why did he not believe in them? Because
all thinkers are agreed that we cannot know whether we see the external
world _as it is_. Then, if we do not know it, why do we affirm that it
exists? We know nothing about it. Now we ought to build up the world only
with what we know of it, and to do otherwise is not philosophy but yielding
to imagination. What is it that we know of the world? Our ideas, and
nothing but our ideas. Very well then, let us say: there are only
ideas. But whence do these ideas come to us? To explain them as coming from
the external world which we have never seen is to explain obscurity by
denser darkness. They are spiritual, they come to us without doubt from a
spirit, from God. This is possible, it is not illogical, and Berkeley
believes it.

This doctrine regarded by the eyes of common sense may appear a mere
phantasy; but Berkeley saw in it many things of high importance and great
use. If you believe in matter, you can believe in matter only, and that is
materialism with its moral consequences, which are immoral; if you believe
in matter and in God, you are so hampered by this dualism that you do not
know how to separate nature from God, and it therefore comes to pass that
you see God in matter, which is called pantheism. In a word, between us and
God Berkeley has suppressed matter in order that we should come, as it
were, into direct contact with God. He derives much from Malebranche, and
it may be said he only pushes his theories to their extreme. Although a
bishop, he was not checked, like Descartes, by the idea of God not being
able to deceive us, and he answered that God does not deceive us, that He
gives us ideas and that it is we who deceive ourselves by attributing them
to any other origin than to Him; nor was he checked, like Malebranche, by
the authority of Scripture, which in Genesis portrays God creating
matter. He saw there, no doubt, only a symbolical sense, a simple way of
speaking according to the comprehension of the multitude.

DAVID HUME.--David Hume, a Scotsman, better known, at least in his
own times, as the historian of England than as a philosopher, nevertheless
well merits consideration in the latter category. David Hume believes in
nothing, and, in consequence, it may be said that he is not a philosopher;
he has no philosophic system. He has no philosophic system, it is true; but
he is a critic of philosophy, and therefore he philosophizes. Matter has no
existence; as we know nothing about it, we should not say it exists. But we
ourselves, we exist. All that we can know about that is that in us there is
a succession of ideas, of representations; but _we_, but _I_,
what is that? Of that we know nothing. We are present at a series of
pictures, and we may call their totality the _ego_; but we do not
grasp ourselves as a thing of unity, as an individual. We are the
spectators of an inward dramatic piece behind which we can see no
author. There is no more reason to believe in _oneself_ than in the
external world.

INNATE IDEAS.--As for innate ideas, they are simply general ideas,
which are general delusions. We believe, for instance, that every effect
has a cause, or, to express it more correctly, that everything has a cause.
What do we know about it? What do we see? That one thing follows another,
succeeds to another. What tells us that the latter proceeds from the
former, that the thing B must necessarily come, owing to the thing A
existing? We believe it because every time the thing A has been, the thing
B has come. Well, let us say that every time A has been (thus far) B has
come; and say no more. There are regular successions, but we are completely
ignorant whether there are causes for them.

THE LIBERTY AND MORALITY OF HUME.--It results from this that for
Hume there is no liberty. Very obviously; for when we believe ourselves
free, it is because we believe we can fix upon ourselves as a cause. Now
the word "cause" means nothing. We are a succession of phenomena very
absolutely determined. The proof is that we foresee and nearly always
accurately (and we could always foresee accurately if we completely knew
the character of the persons and the influences acting on them) what people
we know will do, which would be impossible if they did as they wished. And
I, at the very moment when I am absolutely sure I am doing such and such a
thing because I desired to, I see my friend smile as he says: "I was sure
you would do that. See, I wrote it down on this piece of paper." He
understood me as a necessity, when I felt myself to be free. And he,
reciprocally, will believe himself free in doing a thing I would have
wagered to a certainty that he would not fail to do.

What system of morality can Hume have with these principles? First of all,
he protests against those who should deduce from his principles the
immorality of his system. Take care, said he wittily (just like Spinoza,
by the way), it is the partisans of free-will who are immoral. No doubt! It
is when there is liberty that there is no responsibility. I am not
responsible for my actions if they have no connection in me with anything
durable or constant. I have committed murder. Truly it is by chance, if it
was by an entirely isolated determination, entirely detached from the rest
of my character, and momentary; and I am only infinitesimally
responsible. But if all my actions are linked together, are conditional
upon one another, dependent on one another, if I have committed murder it
is because I am an assassin at every moment of my life or nearly so, and
then, oh! how responsible I am!

Note that this is the line taken up by judges, since they make careful
investigation of the antecedents of the accused. They find him all the more
culpable if he has always shown bad instincts.--Therefore they find him the
more responsible, the more he has been compelled by necessity.--Yes.

Hume then does not believe himself "foreclosed" in morality; he does not
believe he is forbidden by his principles to have a system of morality and
he has one. It is a morality of sentiment. We have in us the instinct of
happiness and we seek happiness; but we have also in us an instinct of
goodwill which tends to make us seek the general happiness, and reason
tells us that there is conciliation or rather concordance between these two
instincts, because it is only in the general happiness that we find our
particular happiness.

THE SCOTTISH SCHOOL: REID; STEWART.--The Scottish School (end of the
eighteenth century) was pre-eminently a school of men who attached
themselves to common sense and were excellent moralists. We must at any
rate mention Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. They were bent especially on
opposing the transcendent idealism of Berkeley and the scepticism of David
Hume, also in some measure Locke's doctrine of the blank sheet. They
reconstituted the human mind and even the world (which had been so to speak
driven off in vapour by their predecessors), much as they were in the time
of Descartes. Let us believe, they said, in the reality of the external
world; let us believe that there are causes and effects; let us believe
there is an _ego,_ a human person whom we directly apprehend, and who
is a cause; let us believe that we are free and that we are responsible
because we are free, etc. They were, pre-eminently, excellent describers of
states of the soul, admirable psychological moralists and they were the
ancestors of the highly remarkable pleiad of English psychologists of the
nineteenth century.



Voltaire a Disciple of Locke.

Rousseau a Freethinking Christian, but deeply Imbued
with Religious Sentiments.

Diderot a Capricious Materialist.

D'Holbach and Helvetius Avowed Materialists.

Condillac a Philosopher of Sensations.

VOLTAIRE; ROUSSEAU.--The French philosophy of the eighteenth
century, fairly feeble it must be avowed, seemed as if dominated by the
English philosophy, excepting Berkeley, but especially by Locke and David
Hume, more particularly Locke, who was the intellectual deity of those
Frenchmen of that epoch who were interested in philosophy.

Whenever Voltaire dealt with philosophy, he was only the echo of Locke
whose depths he failed to fathom, and to whom he has done some injury, for
reading Locke only through Voltaire has led to the belief that Locke was

Rousseau was both the disciple and adversary of Hobbes, as often occurs,
and dealt out to the public the doctrines of Hobbes in an inverted form,
making the state of nature angelic instead of infernal, and putting the
government of all by all in the place of government by one, invariably
reaching the same point with a simple difference of form; for if Hobbes
argued for despotism exercised by one over all, Rousseau argued for the
despotism of all over each. In _Émile_, he was incontestably inspired
by the ideas of Locke on education in some degree, but in my opinion less
than has been asserted. On nearly all sides it has been asserted that
Rousseau exercised great influence over Kant. I know that Kant felt
infinite admiration for Rousseau, but of the influence of Rousseau upon
Kant I have never been able to discover a trace.

DIDEROT; HELVETIUS; D'HOLBACH.--It was particularly on David Hume
that Diderot depended. The difference, which is great, is that David Hume
in his scepticism remained a grave, reserved man, well-bred and discreet,
and was only a sceptic, whilst Diderot was violent in denial and a man of
paradoxes and jests, both impertinent and cynical.

It is almost ridiculous in a summary history of philosophy to name as
sub-Diderots, if one may so express it, Helvetius and D'Holbach, who were
merely wits believing themselves philosophers, and who were not always

CONDILLAC.--Condillac belongs to another category. He was a very
serious philosopher and a vigorous thinker. An exaggerated disciple of
Locke, while the latter admitted sensation _and_ reflection as the
origin of ideas, Condillac admitted only pure sensation and transformed
sensation--that is to say, sensation transforming itself. The definition of
man that he deduces from these principles is very celebrated and it is
interesting: "The _ego_ of each man is only the collection of the
sensations that he feels and of those his memory recalls; it is the
consciousness of what he is combined with the recollection of what he has
been." To Condillac, the idea is a sensation which has fixed itself and
which has been renewed and vivified by others; desire is a sensation which
wishes to be repeated and seeks what opportunity offers for its renewal,
and the will itself is only the most potent of desires. Condillac was
voluntarily and systematically limited, but his system is well knit and
presented in admirably clear and precise language.



Kant Reconstructed all Philosophy by Supporting it on Morality.

KNOWLEDGE.--Kant, born at Königsberg in 1724, was professor there
all his life and died there in 1804. Nothing happened to him except the
possession of genius. He had commenced with the theological philosophy in
use in his country, that of Wolf, which on broad lines was that of
Leibnitz. But he early read David Hume, and the train of thought of the
sceptical Scotsman at least gave him the idea of submitting all philosophic
ideas to a severe and close criticism.

He first of all asked himself what the true value is of our knowledge and
what knowledge is. We believe generally that it is the things which give us
the knowledge that we have of them. But, rather, is it not we who impose on
things the forms of our mind and is not the knowledge that we believe we
have of things only the knowledge which we take of the laws of our mind by
applying it to things? This is what is most probable. We perceive the
things by moulds, so to speak, which are in ourselves and which give them
their shapes and they would be shapeless and chaotic were it
otherwise. Consequently, it is necessary to distinguish the matter and the
form of our knowledge: the matter of the knowledge is the things
themselves. The form of our knowledge is ourselves: "Our experimental
knowledge is a compound of what we receive from impressions and of what our
individual faculty of knowing draws from itself on the occasion of these

SENSIBILITY; UNDERSTANDING; REASON.--Those who believe that all we
think proceeds from the senses are therefore wrong; so too are those wrong
who believe that all we think proceeds from ourselves. To say, Matter is an
appearance, and to say, Ideas are appearances, are equally false doctrines.
Now we know by sensibility, by understanding, and by reason. By sensibility
we receive the impression of phenomena; by the understanding we impose on
these impressions their forms, and link them up together; by reason we give
ourselves general ideas of things--universal ones, going beyond or
believing they go beyond the data, even when linked up and systematized.

Let us analyse sensibility, understanding, and reason. Sensibility already
has the forms it imposes on things. These forms are time and space. Time
and space are not given us by matter like colour, smell, taste, or sound;
they are not perceived by the senses; they are therefore the forms of our
sensibility: we can feel only according to time and space, by lodging what
we feel in space and time; these are the conditions of sensibility.
Phenomena are thus perceived by us under the laws of space and of time.
What do they become in us? They are seized by the understanding, which also
has its forms, its powers of classification, of arrangement, and of
connection. Its forms or powers, or, putting it more exactly, its active
forms are, for example, the conception of quantity being always equal:
through all phenomena the quantity of substance remains always the same;
the conception of causality: everything has a cause and every cause has an
effect and it is ever thus. Those are the conditions of our understanding,
those without which we do not understand and the forms which within us we
impose on all things in order to understand them.

It is thus that we know the world; which is tantamount to stating that the
world exists, so far as we are concerned, only so long as we think
so. Reason would go further: it would seize the most general, the
universal, beyond experience, beyond the limited and restricted
systematizations established by the understanding; to know, for instance,
the first cause of all causes, the last and collective end, so to speak, of
all purposes; to know "why is there something?" and "in view of what end is
there something?" in fact, to answer all the questions of infinity and
eternity. Be sure that it cannot. How could it? It only operates, can only
operate, on the data of experience and the systematizations of the
understanding, which classify experience but do not go beyond it. Only
operating upon that, having nothing except that as matter, how could it
itself go beyond experience? It cannot. It is only (a highly important
fact, and one which must on no account be forgotten)--it is only a sign,
merely a witness. It is the sign that the human spirit has need of the
absolute; it is itself that need; without that it would not exist; it is
the witness of our invincible insistence on knowing and of our tendency to
estimate that we know nothing if we only know something; it is itself that
insistence and that tendency: without that it would not exist. Let us pause
there for the moment. Man knows of nature only those impressions which he
receives from it, co-ordinated by the forms of sensibility, and further the
ideas of it which he preserves co-ordinated by the forms of his
understanding. This is very little. It is all, if we consider only pure

PRACTICAL REASON.--_But_ there is perhaps another reason, or
another aspect of reason--to wit, practical reason. What is practical
reason? Something in us tells us: you should act, and you should act in
such a way; you should act rightly; this is not right, so do not do it;
that is right, do it. As a fact this is uncontestable. What is the
explanation? From what data of experience, from what systematization of
the understanding has our mind borrowed this? Where has it got it? Does
nature yield obedience to a "you ought"? Not at all. It exists, and it
develops and it goes its way, according to our way of seeing it in time and
space, and that is all. Does the understanding furnish the idea of "you
ought"? By no means; it gives us ideas of quantity, of quality, of cause
and effect, etc., and that is all; there is no "you ought" in all
that. Therefore this "you ought" is purely human; it is the only principle
which comes exactly from ourselves only. It might therefore well be the
very foundation of us.--It may be an illusion.--No doubt, but it is highly
remarkable that it exists, though nothing gives it birth or is of a nature
to give it birth. An illusion is a weakness of the senses or an error of
logic and is thus explained; but an illusion in itself and by itself and
only proceeding from itself is most singular and not to be explained as an
illusion. Hence it remains that it is a reality, a reality of our nature,
and given the coercive force of its voice and act, it is the most real
reality there is in us.

THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE.--Thus, at least, thought Kant, and he
said: There is a practical reason which does not go beyond experience and
does not seek to go beyond it; but which does not depend on it, is
absolutely separated from it, and is its own (human) experience by
itself. This practical reason says to us: you ought to do good. The crowd
call it conscience; I call it in a general way practical reason, and I call
it the categorical imperative when I take it in its principle, without
taking into account the applications which I foresee. Why this name? To
distinguish it clearly; for we feel ourselves commanded by other things
than it, but not in the same way. We feel ourselves commanded by prudence,
for instance, which tells us: do not run down that staircase _if_ you
do not wish to break your neck; we feel ourselves commanded by the
conventions which say: be polite _if_ you do not wish men to leave you
severely alone, etc. But conscience does not say _if_ to us: it says
bluntly "you ought" without consideration of what may or may not happen,
and it is even part of its character to scorn all consideration of
consequences. It would tell us: run down that staircase to save that child
even at the risk of breaking your neck. Because of that I call all the
other commandments made to us hypothetical imperatives and that of
conscience, alone, the categorical or absolute imperative. Here is a
definite result.

MORALITY, THE LAW OF MAN.--Yet reflect: if the foregoing be true,
morality is the very law of man, his especial law, as the law of the tree
is to spread in roots and branches. Well. But for man to be able to obey
his law he must be free, must be able to do what he wishes. That is
certain. Then it must be believed that we are free, for were we not, we
could not obey our law; and the moral law would be absurd. The moral law is
the _sign_ that we are free. Compared to this, all the other proofs of
freedom are worthless or weak. We are free because we must be so in order
to do the good which our law commands us to do.

Let us examine further. I do what is right in order to obey the law; but,
when I have done it, I have the idea that it would be unjust that I should
be punished for it, or that I should not be rewarded for it, that it would
be unjust were there not concordance between right and happiness. As it
happens, virtue is seldom rewarded in this world and often is even
punished; it draws misfortune or evil on him who practises it. Would not
that be the sign that there are two worlds of which we see only one? Would
not that be the sign that virtue unrewarded here will be rewarded elsewhere
_in order that there should not be injustice?_ It is highly probable
that this is so.

But for that it is necessary that the soul be immortal. It is so, since it
is necessary that it should be. The moral law is accomplished and
consummated in rewards or penalties beyond the grave, which pre-suppose the
immortality of the soul. All the other proofs of the immortality of the
soul are worthless or feeble beside this one which demonstrates that were
there no immortality of the soul there would be no morality.

GOD.--And, finally, if justice is one day to be done, this supposes
a Judge. It is neither ourselves who in another life will do justice to
ourselves nor yet some force of circumstances which will do it to us. It is
necessary to have an intelligence conceiving justice and a will to realise
it. God is this intelligence and this will.

All the other proofs of God are weak or worthless beside this one. The
existence of God has been deduced from the idea of God: if we have the idea
of God, it is necessary that He should exist. A weak proof, for we can have
an idea which does not correspond with an object. The existence of God has
been deduced from the idea of causality; for all that is, a cause is
necessary, this cause is God. A weak proof, for things being as they are,
there is necessity for ... cause; but a cause and a _single_ cause,
why? There could be a series of causes to infinity and thus the cause of
the world could be the world itself. The existence of God has been deduced
from the idea of design well carried out. The composition, the ordering of
this world is admired; this world is well made; it is like a clock. The
clock supposes a clock-maker; the fine composition of the world supposes an
intelligence which conceived a work to be made and which made it. Perhaps;
but this consideration only leads to the idea of a manipulation of matter,
of a demiurge, as the Greeks said, of an architect, but not to the idea of
a _Creator;_ it may even lead only to the idea of several architects
and the Greeks perfectly possessed the idea of a fine artistic order
existing in the world when they believed in a great number of deities. This
proof also is therefore weak, although Kant always treats it with respect.

The sole convincing proof is the existence of the moral law in the heart of
man. For the moral law to be accomplished, for it not to be merely a tyrant
over man, for it to be realised in all its fullness, weighing on man here
but rewarding him infinitely elsewhere, which means there is justice in all
that, it is necessary that somewhere there should be an absolute realizer
of justice. God must exist for the world to be moral.

Why is it necessary for the world to be moral? Because an immoral world
with even a single moral being in it would be a very strange thing.

Thus, whilst the majority of philosophers deduced human liberty from God,
and the spirituality of the soul from human liberty, the immortality of the
soul from human spirituality, and morality from human immortality, Kant
starts from morality as from the incontestable fact, and from morality
deduces liberty, and from liberty spirituality, and God from the
immortality of the soul with the consequent realization of justice.

He has effected an extraordinarily powerful reversal of the argument
generally employed.

THE INFLUENCE OF KANT.--The influence of Kant has been incomparable
or, if you will, comparable only to those of Plato, Zeno, and
Epicurus. Half at least of the European philosophy of the nineteenth
century has proceeded from him and is closely connected with him. Even in
our own day, pragmatism, as it is called--that is, the doctrine which lays
down that morality is the measure of truth and that an idea is true only if
it be morally useful--is perhaps an alteration of Kantism, a Kantian
heresy, but entirely penetrated with and, as it were, excited by the spirit
of Kant.



The great reconstructors of the world, analogous to the
first philosophers of antiquity.

Great general systems: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, etc.

FICHTE.--Fichte, embarrassed by what remained of experience in the
ideas of Kant, by the part, restricted though it was, which Kant left to
things in the external world, completely suppressed the external world,
like Berkeley, and affirmed the existence of the human _ego_
alone. Kant said that the world furnished us with the matter of the idea
and that we furnished the form. According to Fichte, form and matter alike
came from us. What then is sensation? It is nothing except the pause of the
_ego_ encountering what is not self, the impact of the _ego_
against what limits it.--But then the external world does exist, for how
could our mind be encountered by nothing and there be an impact of our mind
against nothing?--But this non-self that encounters self is precisely a
product of self, a product of the imagination which creates an object,
which projects outside us an appearance before which we pause as before
something real which should be outside us.

This theory is very difficult to understand, but indicates a very fine
effort of the mind.

Yet outside ourselves is there anything? There is pure spirit, God. What
is God? For Fichte He is moral order (a very evident recollection of
Kant). Morality is God and God is morality. We are in God, and it is the
whole of religion, when we do our duty without any regard to the
consequences of our actions; we are outside God, and it is atheism, when we
act in view of what results our actions may have. And thus morality and
religion run into one another, and religion is only morality in its
plenitude and complete morality is the whole of religion. "The holy, the
beautiful, and the good are the immediate apparition [if it could be] in us
of the essence of God."

SCHELLING.--Schelling desired to correct what, according to him, was
too radical in the idealism of Fichte. He restored the external world; for
him the _non-ego_ and the _ego_ both exist and the two are
_nature_, nature which is the object in the world regarded by man, the
subject when it regards man, subject and object according to the case; in
itself and in its totality neither subject nor object, but absolute,
unlimited, indeterminate. Confronting this world (that is nature and man)
there is another world which is God. God is the infinite and the perfect,
and particularly the perfect and infinite will. The world that we know is a
debasement from that without our being able to conceive how the perfect can
be degraded, and how an emanation of the perfect can be imperfect and how
the non-being can come out of being, since relatively to the infinite, the
finite has no existence, and relatively to perfection, the imperfect is

It appears however that it is thus, and that the world is an emanation of
God in which He degrades Himself and a degradation of God such that it
opposes itself to Him as nothing to everything. It is a fall. The fall of
man in the Scriptures may give an idea, however distant, of that.

HEGEL.--Hegel, a contemporary of Schelling, and often in
contradiction to him, is the philosopher of "_becoming_" and of the
idea which always "becomes" something. The essence of all is the idea, but
the idea in progress; the idea makes itself a thing according to a rational
law which is inherent in it, and the thing makes itself an idea in the
sense that the idea contemplating the thing it has become thinks it and
fills itself with it in order to become yet another thing, always following
the rational law; and this very evolution, all this evolution, all this
becoming, is that absolute for which we are always searching behind things,
at the root of things, and which is _in_ the things themselves.

The rationally active is everything; and activity and reality are synonyms,
and all reality is active, and what is not active is not real, and what is
not active has no existence.

Let not this activity be regarded as always advancing forward; the becoming
is not a river which flows; activity is activity and retro-activity. The
cause is cause of the effect, but also the effect is cause of its cause.
In fact the cause would not be cause if it had no effect; it is therefore,
thanks to its effect, because of its effect, that the cause is cause; and
therefore the effect is the cause of the cause as much as the cause is
cause of the effect.

A government is the effect of the character of a people, and the character
of a people is the effect also of its government; my son proceeds from me,
but he reacts on me, and because I am his father I have the character which
I gave him, more pronounced than before, etc.

Hence, all effect is cause as all cause is effect, which everybody has
recognized, but in addition all effect is cause of its cause and in
consequence, to speak in common language, all effect is cause forward and
backward, and the line of causes and effects is not a straight line but a

THE DEISM OF HEGEL.--God disappears from all that. No, Hegel is very
formally a deist, but he sees God in the total of things and not outside
things, yet distinct. In what way distinct? In this, that God is the
totality of things considered not in themselves but in the spirit that
animates them and the force that urges them, and because the soul is of
necessity in the body, united to the body, that is no reason why it should
not be distinct from it. And having taken up this position, Hegel is a
deist and even accepts proofs of the existence of God which are regarded by
some as hackneyed. He accepts them, only holding them not exactly as
proofs, but as reasons for belief, and as highly faithful descriptions of
the necessary elevation of the soul to God. For example, the ancient
philosophers proved the existence of God by the contemplation of the
marvels of the universe: "That is not a 'proof,'" said Hegel, "that is not
a proof, but it is a great reason for belief; for it is an exposition, a
very exact although incomplete account rendered of the fact that by
contemplation of the world the human mind rises to God." Now this fact is
of singular importance: it indicates that it is impossible to think
strongly without thinking of God. "When the passage [although
insufficiently logical] from the finite to the infinite does not take
place, it may be said that there is no thought." Now this is a reason for

After the same fashion, the philosophers have said "from the moment that we
imagine God, the reason is that He is." Kant ridiculed this proof. Granted,
it is not an invincible proof, but this fact alone that we cannot imagine
God without affirming His existence indicates a tendency of our mind which
is to relate finite thought to infinite thought and not to admit an
imperfect thought which should not have its source in a perfect thought;
and that is rather an invincible belief than a proof, but that this belief
is invincible and necessary in itself is an extremely commanding proof,
although a relative one.

HIS POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.--The philosophy of the human mind and
political philosophy according to Hegel are these. Primitive man is mind,
reason, conscience, but he is so only potentially, as the philosophers
express it; that is to say, he is so only in that he is capable of becoming
so. Really, practically, he is only instincts: he is egoist like the
animals [it should be said like the greater part of the animals], and
follows his egoistical appetites. Society, in whatever manner it has
managed to constitute itself, transforms him and his "becoming" commences.
From the sexual instinct it makes marriage, from capture it forms regulated
proprietorship, out of defence against violence it makes legal punishment,
etc. Hence-forth, and all his evolution tends to that, man proceeds to
substitute in himself the general will for the particular will; he tends to
disindividualize himself. The general will, founded upon general utility,
is that the man be married, father, head of a family, good husband, good
father, good relative, good citizen. All that man ought to be in
consideration of the general will which he has put in the place of his own,
and which he has made his own will. That is the first advance.

It is realized (always imperfectly) in the smallest societies, in the
cities, in the little Greek republics, for example.

Here is the second advance. By war, by conquest, by annexations, by more
gentle means when possible, the stronger cities subdue the weaker, and the
great State is created. The great State has a more important part than the
city; it continues to substitute the general will for the particular wills;
but, _in addition,_ it is an idea, a great civilizing idea,
benevolent, elevating, aggrandizing, to which private interests must and
should be sacrificed. Such were the Romans who considered themselves, not
without reason, as the legislators and civilizers of the world.

THE IDEAL FORM OF STATE.--Putting aside for a while the continuation
of this subject, what political form should the great State take to conform
to its destiny? Assuredly the monarchical form; for the republican form is
always too individualist. To Hegel, the Greeks and even the Romans seem to
have conceded too much to individual liberty or to the interests of class,
of caste; they possessed an imperfect idea of the rights and functions of
the State. The ideal form of the State is monarchy. It is necessary for the
State to be contracted, gathered up, and personified in a prince who can be
personally loved, who can be reverenced, which is precisely what is
needed. These great States are only really great if they possess strong
cohesion; it is therefore necessary that they should be nationalities, as
it is called--that is, that they should be inwardly very united and highly
homogeneous by community of race, religion, customs, language, etc. The
idea to be realized by a State can only be accomplished if there be a
sufficient community of ideas in the people constituting it. However the
great State will be able to, and even ought to, conquer and annex the small
ones in order to become stronger and more capable, being stronger, of
realizing its idea. Only this should be done merely when it is certain or
clearly apparent that it represents an idea as against a people which does
not, or that it presents a better, greater, and nobler idea than that
represented by the people it attacks.

WAR.--But, as each people will always find its own idea finer than
that of another, how is this to be recognized?--By victory itself. It is
victory which proves that a people ... was stronger than another!--Not
only stronger materially but representing a greater, more practical, more
fruitful idea than the other; for it is precisely the idea which supports a
people and renders it strong. Thus, victory is the sign of the moral
superiority of a people, and in consequence force indicates where right is
and is indistinguishable from right itself, and we must not say as may
already perhaps have been said: "Might excels right," but "Might is right"
or "Right is might."

For example [Hegel might have said], France was "apparently" within her
rights in endeavouring to conquer Europe from 1792 to 1815; for she
represented an idea, the revolutionary idea, which she might consider, and
which many besides the French did consider, an advance and a civilizing
idea; but she was beaten, _which proves_ that the idea was false; and
before this demonstration by events is it not true that the republican or
Caesarian idea is inferior to that of traditional monarchy? Hegel would
certainly have reasoned thus on this point.

Therefore war is eternal and must be so. It is history itself, being the
condition of history; it is even the evolution of humanity, being the
condition of that evolution; there-fore, it is divine. Only it is purifying
itself; formerly men only fought, or practically always, from ambition; now
wars are waged for principles, to effect the triumph of an idea which has a
future, and which contains the future, over one that is out of date and
decayed. The future will see a succession of the triumphs of might which,
by definition, will be triumphs of right and which will be triumphs of
increasingly fine ideas over ideas that are barbarous and justly condemned
to perish.

Hegel has exercised great influence on the ideas of the German people both
in internal and external politics.

ART, SCIENCE, AND RELIGION.--The ideas of Hegel on art, science, and
religion are the following: Under the shelter of the State which is
necessary for their peaceful development in security and liberty, science,
literature, art, and religion pursue aims not superior to but other than
those of the State. They seek, without detaching the individual from the
society, to unite him to the whole world. Science makes him know all it
can of nature and its laws; literature, by studying man in himself and in
his relations with the world, imbues him with the sentiment of the possible
concordance of the individual with the universe; the arts make him love
creation by unravelling and bringing into the light and into relief all
that is beautiful in it relatively to man, and all that in consequence
should render it lovely, respected, and dear to him; religion, finally,
seeks to be a bond between all men and a bond between all men and God; it
sketches the plan of universal brotherhood which is ideally the last state
of humanity, a state which no doubt it will never attain, but which it is
essential it should imagine and believe to be possible, without which it
always would be drawn towards animality more and much more than it is.

The Hegelian philosophy has exercised an immense influence throughout
Europe not only on philosophic studies, but on history, art, and
literature. It may be regarded as the last "universal system" and as the
most daring that has been attempted by the human mind.

SCHOPENHAUER.--Schopenhauer was the philosopher of the
will. Persuaded, like Leibnitz, that man is an epitome and a picture of the
world, and that the world resembles us (which is hypothetical), he takes up
the thought of Leibnitz, changing and transforming it thus: All the
universe is not thought, but all the universe is will; thought is only an
accident of the will which appears in the superior animals; but the will,
which is the foundation of man, is the foundation of all; the universe is a
compound of wills that act. All beings are wills which possess organs
conformed to their purpose. It is _the will to be_ which gave claws to
the lion, tusks to the boar, and intelligence to man, because he was the
most unarmed of animals, just as to one who becomes blind it gives
extraordinarily sensitive and powerful sense of hearing, smell, and
touch. Plants strive towards light by their tops and towards moisture by
their roots; the seed turns itself in the earth to send forth its stalk
upwards and its rootlet downward. In minerals there are "constant
tendencies" which are nothing but obscure wills; what we currently term
weight, fluidity, impenetrability, electricity, chemical affinities, are
nothing but natural wills or inconscient wills. Because of this, the
diverse wills opposing and clashing with one another, the world is a war of
all against all and of _everything_ literally against _everything_; and
the world is a scene of carnage.

The truth is that will is an evil and is the evil. What is needed for
happiness is to kill the will, to destroy the wish to be.--But this would
be the end of existence?--And in fact to be no more or not to be at all is
the true happiness and it would be necessary to blow up the whole world in
an explosion for it to escape unhappiness. At least, as Buddhism desired
and, in some degree, though less, Christianity also, it is necessary to
make an approach to death by a kind of reduction to the absolute minimum of
will, by detachment and renunciation pushed as far as can be.

NIETZSCHE.--A very respectful but highly independent and untractable
pupil of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche "turns Schopenhauer inside out" as it
were, saying: Yes, assuredly the will to be is everything; but precisely
because of that it is essential not to oppose but to follow it and to
follow it as far as it will lead us. But is it not true that it will lead
to suffering? Be sure of that, but in suffering there is an intoxication of
pain which is quite comprehensible; for it is the intoxication of the will
in action; and this intoxication is an enjoyment too and in any case a good
thing; for it is the end to which we are urged by our nature composed of
will and of hunger for existence. Now wisdom, like happiness, is to follow
our nature. The happiness and wisdom of man is to obey his will for power,
as the wisdom and happiness of water is to flow towards the sea.

From these ideas is derived a morality of violence which can be
legitimately regarded as immoral and which, in any case, is neither
Buddhist nor Christian, but which is susceptible of several
interpretations, all the more so because Nietzsche, who was a poet, never
fails, whilst always artistically very fine, to fall into plenty of



The Doctrines of Evolution and of Transformism:
Lamarck (French), Darwin, Spencer.

TRANSFORMISM AND EVOLUTION.--The great philosophic invention of the
English of the nineteenth century has been the idea, based on a wide
knowledge of natural history, that there never was creation. The animal
species had been considered by all the philosophers (except Epicurus and
the Epicureans) as being created once and for all and remaining
invariable. Nothing of the kind. Matter, eternally fruitful, has
transformed itself first into plants, then into lower animals, then into
higher animals, then into man; our ancestor is the fish; tracing back yet
more remotely, our ancestor is the plant. Transformation (hence the name
_transformism_), discrimination and separation of species, the
strongest individuals of each kind alone surviving and creating descendants
in their image which constitute a species; evolution (hence the name
_evolutionism_) of living nature thus operating from the lowest types
to the highest and therefore the most complicated; there is nothing but
that in the world.

LAMARCK; DARWIN; SPENCER.--The Frenchman Lamarck in the eighteenth
century had already conceived this idea; Darwin, purely a naturalist, set
it forth clearly, Spencer again stated it and drew from it consequences of
general philosophy. Thus, to Spencer, the evolutionist theory contains no
immorality. On the contrary, the progressive transformation of the human
species is an ascent towards morality; from egoism is born altruism because
the species, seeking its best law and its best condition of happiness,
perceives a greater happiness in altruism; seeking its best law and its
best condition of happiness, perceives that a greater happiness lies in
order, regular life, social life, etc.; so that humanity raises itself to a
higher and yet higher morality by the mere fact of adapting itself better
to the conditions of the life of humanity. Morality develops
physiologically as the germ becomes the stem and the bud becomes the

As for religion it is the domain of the unknowable. That is not to assert
that it is nothing. On the contrary it is something formidable and
immense. It is the feeling that something, apart from all that we know,
surpasses us and that we shall never know it. Now this feeling at the same
time maintains us in a humility highly favourable to the health of the soul
and also in a serene confidence in the mysterious being who presides over
universal evolution and who, no doubt, is the all-powerful and eternal soul
of it.



The Eclectic School: Victor Cousin.

The Positivist School: Auguste Comte.

The Kantist School: Renouvier.

Independent and Complex Positivists: Taine, Renan.

LAROMIGUIÈRE: ROYER-COLLARD.--Emerging from the school of Condillac,
France saw Laromiguière who was a sort of softened Condillac, less
trenchant, and not insensible to the influence of Rousseau; but he was
little more than a clear and elegant professor of philosophy. Royer-Collard
introduced into France the Scottish philosophy (Thomas Reid, Dugald
Stewart) and did not depart from it or go beyond it; but he set it forth
with magnificent authority and with a remarkable invention of clear and
magisterial formulae.

MAINE DE BIRAN.--Maine de Biran was a renovator. He attached himself
to Descartes linking the chain anew that had for so long been
interrupted. He devoted his attention to the notion of _ego_. In full
reaction from the "sensualism" of Condillac, he restored a due activity to
the _ego_; he made it a force not restricted to the reception of
sensations, which transform themselves, but one which seized upon,
elaborated, linked together, and combined them. For him then, as for
Descartes, but from a fresh point of view, the voluntary deed is the
primitive deed of the soul and the will is the foundation of man. Also, the
will is not all man; man has, so to say, three lives superimposed but very
closely inter-united and which cannot do without one another: the life of
sensation, the life of will, and the life of love. The life of sensation is
almost passive, with a commencement of activity which consists in
classifying and organizing the sensations; the life of will is properly
speaking the "human" life; the life of love is the life of activity and yet
again of will, but which unites the human with the divine life. By the
ingenious and profound subtlety of his analyses, Maine de Biran has placed
himself in the front rank of French thinkers and, in any case, he is one of
the most original.

VICTOR COUSIN AND HIS DISCIPLES.--Victor Cousin, who appears to have
been influenced almost concurrently by Maine de Biran, Royer-Collard, and
the German philosophy, yielded rapidly to a tendency which is
characteristically French and is also, perhaps, good, and which consists in
seeing "some good in all the opinions," and he was eclectic, that is, a
borrower. His maxim, which he had no doubt read in Leibnitz, was that the
systems are "true in what they affirm and false in what they deny."
Starting thence, he rested upon both the English and German philosophy,
correcting one by the other. Personally his tendency was to make
metaphysics come from philosophy and to prove God by the human soul and the
relations of God with the world by the relations of man with matter. To him
God is always an augmented human soul. All philosophies, not to mention all
religions, have rather an inclination to consider things thus: but this
tendency is particularly marked in Cousin. In the course of his career,
which was diversified, for he was at one time a professor and at another a
statesman, he varied somewhat, because before 1830 he became very Hegelian,
and after 1830 he harked back towards Descartes, endeavouring especially to
make philosophic instruction a moral priesthood; highly cautious, very
well-balanced, feeling great distrust of the unassailable temerities of the
one and in sympathetic relations with the other. What has remained of this
eclecticism is an excellent thing, the great regard for the _history_
of philosophy, which had never been held in honour in France and which,
since Cousin, has never ceased to be so.

The principal disciples of Cousin were Jouffroy, Damiron, Emile Saisset,
and the great moralist Jules Simon, well-known because of the important
political part he played.

LAMENNAIS.--Lamennais, long celebrated for his great book, _Essay
on Indifference in the Matter of Religion_, then, when he had severed
himself from Rome, by his _Words of a Believer_ and other works of
revolutionary spirit, was above all a publicist; but he was a philosopher,
properly speaking, in his _Sketch of a Philosophy_. To him, God is
neither the Creator, as understood by the early Christians, nor the Being
from whom the world emanates, as others have thought. He has not created
the world from nothing; but He has created it; He created it from Himself,
He made it issue from His substance; and He made it issue by a purely
voluntary act. He created it in His own image; it is not man alone who is
in the image of God, but the whole world. The three Persons of God, that
is, the three characteristics, power, intelligence, and love are
found--diminished and disfigured indeed, but yet are to be found--in every
being in the universe. They are especially our own three powers, under the
form of will, reason, sympathy; they are also the three powers of society,
under the forms of executive power, deliberation, and fraternity. Every
being, individual or collective, has in it a principle of death if it
cannot reproduce however imperfectly all the three terms of this trinity
without the loss of one.

AUGUSTE COMTE.--Auguste Comte, a mathematician, versed also in all
sciences, constructed a pre-eminently negative philosophy in spite of his
great pretension to replace the negations of the eighteenth century by a
positive doctrine; above all else he denied all authority and denied to
metaphysics the right of existence. Metaphysics ought not to exist, do not
exist, are a mere nothing. We know nothing, we can know nothing, about the
commencement or the end of things, or yet their essence or their object;
philosophy has always laid down as its task a general explanation of the
universe; it is precisely this general explanation, all general explanation
of the aggregate of things, which is impossible. This is the negative part
of "positivism." It is the only one which has endured and which is the
_credo_ or rather the _non credo_ of a fairly large number of

The affirmative part of the ideas of Comte was this: what can be done is to
make a classification of sciences and a philosophy of history. The
classification of sciences according to Comte, proceeding from the most
simple to the most complex--that is, from mathematics to astronomy,
physics, chemistry, biology to end at sociology, is generally considered by
the learned as interesting but arbitrary. The philosophy of history,
according to Comte, is this: humanity passes through three states:
theological, metaphysical, positive. The theological state (antiquity)
consists in man explaining everything by continual miracles; the
metaphysical state (modern times) consists in man explaining everything by
ideas, which he still continues to consider somewhat as beings, by
abstractions, entities, vital principle, attraction, gravitation, soul,
faculty of the soul, etc. The positive state consists in that man explains
and will explain all things, or rather limits himself and will limit
himself to verifying them, by the links that he will see they have with one
another, links he will content himself with observing and subsequently with
controlling by experiment. Also there is always something of the succeeding
state in the preceding state and the ancients did not ignore observation,
and there is always something of the preceding state in the succeeding
state and we have still theological and metaphysical habits of mind,
theological and metaphysical "residues," and perhaps it will be always
thus; but for theology to decline before metaphysics and metaphysics before
science is progress.

Over and above this, Comte in the last portion of his life--as if to prove
his doctrine of residues and to furnish an example--founded a sort of
religion, a pseudo-religion, the religion of humanity. Humanity must be
worshipped in its slow ascent towards intellectual and moral perfection
(and, in consequence, we should specially worship humanity to come; but
Comte might reply that humanity past and present is venerable because it
bears in its womb the humanity of the future). The worship of this new
religion is the commemoration and veneration of the dead. These last
conceptions, fruits of the sensibility and of the imagination of Auguste
Comte, have no relation with the basis of his doctrine.

RENOUVIER.--After him, by a vigorous reaction, Renouvier restored
the philosophy of Kant, depriving it of its too symmetrical, too minutely
systematic, too scholastic character and bringing it nearer to facts; from
him was to come the doctrine already mentioned, "pragmatism," which
measures the truth of every idea by the moral consequence that it contains.

TAINE.--Very different and attaching himself to the general ideas of
Comte, Hippolyte Taine believed only in what has been observed,
experimented, and demonstrated; but being also as familiar with Hegel as
with Comte, with Spencer as with Condillac, he never doubted that the need
of going beyond and escaping from oneself was also a fact, a human fact
eternal among humanity, and of this fact he took account as of a fact
observed and proved, saying if man is on one side a "fierce and lascivious
gorilla," on the other side he is a mystic animal, and that in "a double
nature, mysterious hymen," as Hugo wrote, lay the explanation of all the
baseness in ideas and actions as well as all the sublimity in ideas and
actions of humanity. Personally he was a Stoic and his practice was the
continuous development of the intelligence regarded as the condition and
guarantee of morality.

RENAN.--Renan, destined for the ecclesiastical profession and always
preserving profound traces of his clerical education, was, nevertheless, a
Positivist and believed only in science, hoping everything from it in youth
and continuing to venerate it at least during his mature years. Thus
formed, a "Christian Positivist," as has been said, as well as a poet above
all else, he could not proscribe metaphysics and had a weakness for them
with which perhaps he reproached himself. He extricated himself from this
difficulty by declaring all metaphysical conceptions to be only "dreams,"
but sheltered, so to say, by this concession he had made and this
precaution he had taken, he threw himself into the dream with all his heart
and reconstituted God, the immortal soul, the future existence, eternity
and creation, giving them new, unforeseen, and fascinating names. It was
only the idea of Providence--that is, of the particular and circumstantial
intervention of God in human affairs, which was intolerable to him and
against which he always protested, quoting the phrase of Malebranche, "God
does not act by particular wills." And yet he paid a compliment, which
seems sincere, to the idea of grace, and if there be a particular and
circumstantial intervention by God in human affairs, it is certainly grace
according to all appearances.

He was above all an amateur of ideas, a dilettante in ideas, toying with
them with infinite pleasure, like a superior Greek sophist, and in all
French philosophy no one calls Plato to mind more than he does.

He possessed a charming mind, a very lofty character, and was a marvellous

TO-DAY.--The living French philosophers whom we shall content
ourselves with naming because they are living and receive contemporary
criticism rather than that of history, are MM. Fouillée, Théodule Ribot,
Liard, Durckheim, Izoulet, and Bergson.

THE FUTURE OF PHILOSOPHY.--It is impossible to forecast in what
direction philosophy will move. The summary history we have been able to
trace sufficiently shows, as it seems to us, that it has no regular advance
such that by seeing how it has progressed one can conjecture what path it
will pursue. It seems in no sense to depend, or at all events, to depend
remarkably little, at any period, on the general state of civilization
around it, and even for those who believe in a philosophy of history there
is not, as it appears to me, a philosophy of the history of philosophy. The
only thing that can be affirmed is that philosophy will always exist in
response to a need of the human mind, and that it will always be both an
effort to gather scientific discoveries into some great general ideas and
an effort to go beyond science and to seek as it can the meaning of the
universal enigma; so that neither philosophy, properly speaking, nor even
metaphysics will ever disappear. Nietzsche has said that life is valuable
only as the instrument of knowledge. However eager humanity may be and
become for branches of knowledge, it will be always passionately and
indefatigably anxious about complete knowledge.



     Agrippa, Cornelius
     Ailly, Peter d'
     Albertus Magnus
     Alexander the Great
     Anselm, St.
     Augustine, St.


     Bacon, Francis
     Bacon, Roger
     Bonaventura, St.
     Bruno, Giordano


     Champeaux, William of
     Charles the Bald
     Christina of Sweden
     Clement, St., of Alexandria
     Comte, Auguste
     Cousin, Victor


     Durand de Saint-Pourçain








     Havet, Ernest
     Hobbes, Thomas
     Holbach, d'
     Hugo, Victor
     Hugo de Saint-Victor
     Hume, David




     James I
     Jesus Christ
     Joan of Navarre




     La Bruyère
     Leo X
     Louis XIV
     Lulle, Raymond


     Maine de Biran
     Marcus Aurelius




     Ockham, William of


     Paul, St.
     Philips the Fair
     Pico della Mirandola
     Pliny the Younger
     Poincaré, Henri


     Reid, Thomas
     Ribot, Théodule
     Richard de Saint-Victor
     Rousseau, J. J.


     Saisset, Emile
     Scotus Erigena
     Servetus, Michael
     Sextus Empiricus
     Simon, Jules
     Spencer, Herbert
     Stewart, Dugald


     Taine, Hippolyte
     Thomas Aquinas, St.


     Vincent of Beauvais


     William of Auvergne




     Zeno (of Citium)
     Zeno (of Elea)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Initiation philosophique. English - Initiation into Philosophy" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.