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other school, as we have seen, regard the moral laws as being themselves merely physical laws, which by a necessary evolution, are in process of bringing about human morality, and therewith the ideal harmony between egoism and altruism, between happiness and duty. But the question is, whence do physical laws derive the power of becoming moral laws ? By what force is egoism transformed into altruism? Must there not be some motive power, which impels nature to rise above herself? And assuming that, when at last the ideal limit and the end towards which this progress tends has been reached, nature and virtue will be one (for even Kant admits that in the kingdom of ends virtue becomes holiness), still, in the interval that lies between us and this ideal state, in our present life in fact, it is through the idea of duty that each step is won, it is this notion alone that prompts the effort without which there can be no progress.
CHAPTER I .
SCEPTICISM AND CERTITUDE
THE first inclination of the human mind is to act without questioning itself. In the beginning of mental life the distinction between thought and the object of thought is not clearly perceived. But man falls into error, and the moment he becomes conscious of this, his mistrust is awakened. When later he discovers the contradictions of human opinions, his confidence is still further shaken. Then thought, which was at first directed to external things, turns upon itself. soon as we begin to reflect upon our own thought, to speculate as to its value, we have reached the first period of doubt, and whether we are to get beyond this stage or not, we are henceforward obliged to face the most formidable of all philosophical problems: Is the human mind capable of attaining certitude ? Have we the right to expect it?
Every system of philosophy is a direct or an indirect answer to this question. The Dogmatists in divers ways affirm the harmony of thought and its object. They recognize, it is true, the existence of two terms, the ego and the non-ego, matter and mind, but they are terms between which thought itself constitutes a natural connection. The Sceptics deny the possibility of knowledge: they either oppose the mind to the object which it strives to know but can never reach ; or, imprisoning thought within itself, they seek to discourage it by the spectacle of its own contradictions. Lastly, seeing the impossibility of vindicating knowledge if we accept the existence of an object opposed to the mind and having nothing in common with it, or into the essence of which it is, to say the least, impossible to penetrate, the Idealists derive from the subject itself the object of knowledge, and admit nothing as real but the intelligible. Between these extreme theories we find intermediate solutions, in the history of which we see the efforts that have been made by the mind not to yield its dominion altogether, while yet allowing its own place to scepticism,
Pre-Socratic Philosophy: Antithesis between Sensible and Rational Knowledge. The Origin of Sophistry. Sophistry and the Law of Contradiction,
At the first awakening of Greek thought the question did not yet present itself, so that it can hardly be said that any solution of it was given. There was, however, an entirely instinctive, spontaneous, or, so to speak, unconscious solution, in which we recognize the natural and primitive tendency of the human mind, and which is implied in the very fact that the problem did not exist. The mind had before it the world of nature, and did not yet consider itself as a separate thing. The Pythagoreans and the Eleatics, Empedocles, Democritus, and Anaxagoras all attempted an explanation of nature, but never thought of raising any doubt as to our means of knowing it; philosophy, at this first period, was an unconscious dogmatism.
No doubt this dogmatism was not without some reservation. Xenophanes complains of the difficulty we have in discovering truth, and he adds, that even, when by chance we come upon (Túxol) the true, we are never sure of possessing it; Sókos démi πασι τέτυκται. Nevertheless Xenophanes sets forth, with the most complete conviction, his own views concerning the gods. We find the same complaint and the same dogmatism in Empedocles (V, 36 sq.) and in Democritus (Sext. Emp. Adv. Math. VII). But we must not attribute to these ancient philosophers the theories that would seem to be implied in some of their principles. Because Heraclitus affirms the union of contraries, we must not, like Aristotle (Metaph. X, c. 5), accuse him of having denied the law of contradiction, and hence the possibility of any certitude. He had no idea of the law of contradiction; he had not even a clear notion of what a contradiction is.