« PreviousContinue »
here, and that this is the topic of dis- He does not devote his life to books, or to
authorship, but to doing good. He is a
constant and laborious observer of the Of his literary character Mr. Bel. world, for the world's sake; a hearty and lows thus speaks:
deep sympathiser in all human concerns;
an anxious and earnest friend of man. “I have said that he did not run the His life and fortunes are identified with common career of an author. Except an humanity; as that lives, so he lives. He occasional sermon or review, he published is a writer only so far as he is a public nothing until a very few years, and not thinker, and a guardian of the common until after his general reputation was
weal. To correct public sentiment, to established. His literary fame grew out enlighten public ignorance, to of a few essays, published at intervals in public insensibility, this is the sole object, the Christian Examiner, which attracted and this is the measure of his writings. the attention of the world. This is a
His works, therefore, are a part of his remarkable instance of the immediate and life; they are acts. He writes nothing wide recognition of intellectual greatness abstract, nothing systematic, nothing and entireness, in a few disconnected learned, nothing merely tasteful, nothing papers, neither addressed to fame, nor
for posterity. His writings are widely circulated. But the plain reason
the movement of the age in which he is, that everything this man writes is full lives. They are for and to the present; of him; full of the great and glorious they are all purely moral and spiritual, principles, with which he is now identi- and relate to man's highest, immediate, fied. He writes nothing that does not and eternal welfare. They concern the develope, enforce, or sustain the neglected right and wrong of practical opinions, and fundamental truths, which it is his institutions, judgments, actions." Based mission to revive or freshen in the human upon everlasting truths, or the exhibition heart. It matters not how secular his of those truths themselves, they have theme may be, he is never false to his own nothing abstract in them. They concern sacred views; never inconsistent with every man in his practical views and conthem; never even momentarily forgetful duct. Such are his writings. Have I of them; nay, all that he has written in
not rightly said that he has not run the the way of criticism, biography, or poli- common career of an author ?" tics, has been only in application of his religious or spiritual principles to the
With the following, relating to the different phases of life.
There political character of this great teacher are few great writers, from whom so and moralist, we find ourselves comfew splendid passages could be selected. pelled to conclude: His writings press rather than strike; they are pervaded by gravity, rather than “ The greatness of human nature, charged with the electric fluid. His style resulting from man's likeness to God, is so transparent, and the writer himself inspired Dr. Channing with a strong faith so carefully withdrawn, that nothing but in human progress. There is enough to the naked truth appears in what he says. be evolved in man,-there is material You think almost as little of the literary enough in him, for God is in him. There execution of his works, as in the case of is no obscurity in the law of his progress. the sacred writings. It is only when your He is made to know God and to love him. attention is drawn to the subject, that you All his sufferings come of his alienation notice how faultless they are in this from God. There is nothing to prevent respect. It is impossible not to feel that a vast increase of happiness, a quite milthe love of fame has not given birth to lennial beauty and excellence in society, these productions. You see that it is but the ignorance, and sensuality, and not the literary world which is addressed. selfishness of men; and from this there is He does not enter into competition with a susceptibility of recovery in man, and other aspirants for reputation, before the means of grace in the gospel, which leaves tribunal of critics. He addresses man, no man as full of moral power and Chrisand every man. He appeals to his tian experience, as he was, room to doubt brethren throughout the world. It is of the certain triumph of human nature neither for money, nor reputation, nor over its own weakness. All his hope for amusement; for the sake of combatting society, confident as it was, was placed this theory or that opinion; but to teach upon Christianity operating through the the world ; to say what ought to be said individual souls of men, with its enlightupon a vital subject. He is not a literary ening and sanctifying power. He had a man. He is a public teacher. He is not boundless faith in the efficacy of truth, a scholar; he is a moral censor and guide. because it addressed a nature made after
that of truth's Author. His faith in God carried into it, and by the native dignity and in man were co-extensive. Human of the being it tasks. He frowned upon history and God's providence are synony- the silly pride which disdains labor. mous expressions. Because God reigns, Without decrying or undervaluing social man shall not always be trampled under distinctions, he insisted most earnestly the foot of his brother, or beneath his own upon essential equality, and mutual rebrutal passions. Earnest and prompt as spect. He would lift up the head of false his exertions were against, and strong as abasement, and make the menial walk was his sense of, the evils of society, he erect in the presence of the master; he was undismayed by them. He was not would teach the lowly to respect nothing amazed and confounded by the sinfulness but worth, virtue, intelligence in their of the world, because he saw the sources social superiors, and the proud to recog. of it, and knew that they were finite; be- nize goodness and enlightenment in the cause, too, he saw the remedy, and knew humblest walks of life. Few know how that it was infinite. Christianity enforc- much this man has done to raise into selfing reason and conscience against the ani- respect and happiness, the mechanics and mal and selfish passions of man, is like laborers of our country, who felt themMichael wrestling with Satan—an invul- selves ground down in spirit, under the nerable angel contending with a mortal assumptions and pride ascribed to the more enemy-the undying spirit against the privileged classes. I have seen the infludoomed flesh.”
ence of that single tract of Dr. Channing's,
styled "Self Culture.' It has reconcied « There is one word that covers every thousands to manual labor, satisfied them cause, to which Channing devoted his with their condition, by substituting their talents and his heart, and that word is own respect, and the respect of God, for Freedom. Liberty is the key of his reli- the condescension of riches and fashion, gious, his political, his philanthropic prin- and taught them to look down upon ignociples. Free the slave, free the serf, free rance and folly, even clothed in purple the ignorant, free the sinful. Let there and fine linen, and faring sumptuously be no chains upon the conscience, the every day. And what is more, he taught intellect, the pursuits, or the persons of social equality without Jacobinism and men. Free agency is the prime distinc- Agrarianism. The poor and humble were tion and privilege of humanity. It is the no better, but only as good as the rich and first necessity of a moral being. Extin- the proud. A man was a man in rags, guish freedom, and you extinguish huma- but also a man in purple; the soiled hand nity. Tyranny is spiritual murder, as Sin of labor was still human, and so was the is moral suicide. All infringements of gloved hand of luxury. Toil needed to be liberty are to be regarded as belonging to taught what was respectable in affluence, the same class. Political oppression, as well as affluence what was venerable restrictions upon education, religious in toil. If there was pride, reserve, and thraldom, domestic slavery, the tyranny of contempt, in the high, there was envy, public opinion, the rule of fashion and jealousy, and hatred, in the low. Therewealth, the domination of a strong mind fore, if the rich respect the poor, the poor over weak ones; all these he dreaded, and shall respect the rich. The less favored for the same reason. Therefore, he la- are bound to honor and submit to the conbored for no special sort of freedom. He stitution of society, if the more favored are was as eloquent a defender of free polítical bound to correct and adjust inequalities to institutions, as of religious liberty; of the advantage of the unprivileged. In popular education, as of negro emancipa- Dr. Channing's writings, attention is not tion. So he denounced associations for fixed so much upon what is different, as their tyrannical influence. His whole upon what is the same in all men ; mutual religious teachings are directed towards respect and love are based upon our comfreeing men from servitude to their pas- mon nature and destiny, upon our brothersions, and appetites, and impulses. He hood and filial relation to one God and would make every soul master of itself. Father. Most radical as his spirit is in The individual is weakened by depend- respect of human equality, there is nothing ence; he is enslaved by authority. Let disorganizing in his writings. In this he him be his own master; act upon his own imitates and resembles the spirit of the judgment and responsibility, and so have gospel, which, without violence or revoluthat root in himself, which alone gives tion, saps the strength of all abuses and worth to man. It was upon this principle, errors, and by taking a higher or a deeper that Dr. Channing strove to dignify hum- ground than existing institutions, obtains ble pursuits in the eyes of their followers. room and play for its own principles, He would not have a man think meanly of without immediately or passionately dishimself, or his occupation. He would placing the customs or order which it yet exalt toil by the spirit of independence dooms and finally destroys."
BY 0. A. BROWNSON.
THE SUBJECT AND THE OBJECT.
PHILOSOPHY is the science of Life. Its we have nothing but thought with problem is to find the Ultimate from which to go before or behind it. What, which we may explain the origin of then, is Thought ? What is its reach? man and nature, determine the laws of What are its conditions? “ For I their growth, obtain a presentiment of thought,” says Locke, “ that the first their destiny, and become inspired with step towards satisfying certain inquiries a pure and noble zeal to live and die the mind of man was very apt to run for the glory of God, and the progress into, was to take a survey of our own of mankind.
understandings, examine our powers,
and see to what things they were There is and can be no higher pro- adapted.” blem than this,-none more worthy to engage the whole force of our minds Thought implies both Subject and and our hearts. It is the problem of Object, that which thinks and that problems; it includes all other pro- which is thought. What, then, is the blems; and on its solution depend all Subject? What is the Object ? other problems for theirs. We have answered no question, whether of man The SUBJECT is the me, that which or nature, of society, religion, or morals, I call myself; and express by the protill we have traced it to the Ultimate, noun I in the phrases I am, I think, I beyond which there is no question to will, I love; or by the pronoun me, be asked, or to be answered.
when I say of some particular thing, it
pleases me, grieves me, injures me, But the Ultimate for ever escapes us. does me good. It recedes always in proportion as we advance; and is never seized save in I do not know myself by direct a finite and relative form. The com- immediate knowledge; I come to a plete solution, therefore, transcends, knowledge of myself only in the phenoand for ever must transcend, the reach menon, in which I see myself reflected of our powers. All that we can do, as in a glass. I am never my own imand all that we should attempt, is to mediate object. “ The understanding," obtain the solution that shall meet the Locke very properly remarks,“ like the wants and satisfy the heart of our own eye, whilst it makes us see and perepoch. This solution, though it must ceive all other things, takes no notice one day needs be outgrown, as we out of itself; and it requires art and pains grow the garments of our childhood, to set it at a distance, and make it its will, nevertheless, bring us a measure own object." This, if we substitute no of peace, become the point of departure direct notice for “ no notice,” is as true for new inquirers, and pave the way when affirmed of me, as when affirmed for new and more adequate solu- of my understanding. I never stand tions.
face to face with myself, looking into
my own eyes. The Seer and the Seen, Philosophy is the creation of the hu- the Subject and the Object, are as disman understanding, naturally or super- tinct in psychology as they are in logic; naturally enlarged and enlightened. and they are distinct in logic, because All begins and ends with Thought, our they are distinct in the nature of things. only medium of knowledge, whatever its sphere or its degree. Thought is, Yet some modern psychologists, misfor us, always ultimate. We cannot apprehending the fact of consciousness, go before nor behind Thought ; for have questioned this statement, and VOL. XI.-NO. LIV.
contended that the Subject may be its it were, my own eye, I should be to own object, and that I may know my- myself as if I were not, did I not think. self by direct, immediate knowledge. When I do not think, I do not exist to But if this were so, I could know at my own apprehension. How know I once, and prior to experience, all that then that I exist at all? I cannot I am, and all that I can do or become. prove my existence; but I have no need I could know myself active without to prove it, for whenever I think, I having acted; thinking without having always find myself in the thought as thought; sentient without having felt. THAT-WHICH-THINKS. As certain as it I should know beforehand the nature is that I think, so certain is it then and the reach of the passions ;-love that I am; for I always think myself without having ever loved; hatred as the subject of the thought. without having ever hated; grief without having ever grieved. I should I do not infer my existence from the know at once all that I ever can know, fact of thinking. I do not infer it at whether of myself or of that which is all; but in the act of thinking I find it. not myself. But it is only God who can My existence is never an inference, and know himself by direct immediate logic has nothing to do with establishknowledge; for only that which is in- ing it. I cannot prove my existence, dependent, self-existent, and self-living, neither can I deny it, nor doubt it. To can contain in itself its own object. doubt is to think. But I never think
without finding myself as the one who No man knows thoroughly himself, thinks. Consequently, in doubting my or can say, till enlightened by expe- existence I should find it. I cannot rience, what he is able to do, or to be- deny my own existence; not only become. Even they who best obey the cause in denying it I should logically injunction, “ Know thyself,” are but affirm it, by affirming the existence of slight proficients in self-knowledge. the denier, but I should be conscious The bulk of mankind are grossly igno- of myself, in the act of denying, as the rant of themselves. Moreover, we ad- one who makes the denial. vance in the knowledge of ourselves. Every day reveals us to ourselves under This finding of myself in the phenosome new aspect. The older we grow, menon, or as the one who thinks, is the more varied our experience, severe precisely what is meant by the term our struggles, and trying the vicissi- CONSCIOUSNESS. Consciousness is not a tudes of life, the better do we come to faculty, nor even an act of a peculiar know and comprehend ourselves. But sort. 'It is simply a higher degree of did we know ourselves by direct, im- what philosophers call perception. As mediate knowledge, what room would its name implies,-cum scientia,-it is there be for this progress ? and how something that goes along with knowcould this varied experience, and these ledge, or something in addition to simstruggles, trials, and vicissitudes, be- ple perception--ad-perceptie, appercome the medium of advancing us in ception, and is easily comprehended. the knowledge of ourselves?
I think a rose.
This is a simple phe
nomenon, or rather a single aci of the But, though I know not myself by mind; but, in addition to the perception direct, immediate knowledge, yet I of the rose, the object of the ihoughi, I know myself mediately, indirectly, recognize, but as an integral part of the through the medium of my acts. same phenomenon, myself as the agent Whenever I think, I find myself as one thinking, or the one who perceives the of the elements of the thought. I never rose. This recognition of myself is think without knowing that it is I and the consciousness. All acts in which not another that thinks. This is the I so recognize myself as actor or meaning of the “Cogito, ergò sum" of thinker, are called by Leibnitz APPERDescartes, “I think, therefore I am." CEPTIONS. All thoughts are properly Descartes did not offer in this, nor pre- apperceptions, for they all include in tend to offer, as he himself expressly the view of the thinker, both the subtells us, an argument for his existence; ject thinking and the object thought. but merely stated the fact in which he found it. Not being able to see or to But according to this, consciousness recognize myself in myself, to see, as is not, as is sometimes supposed, the
1842.] The Subject and the Object.- Reality of the Olject.
569 immediate perception of myself in my- myself only under the relation of subself. I am conscious of myself only in ject or cause; and, therefore, it is only the phenomenon, and even then only under this relation of subject or cause, under the relation of its subject. I can only as projected into the phenomenon, speak, I can think, or even conceive of that I can be my own object, that I can myself only as the subject of an act. study myself, and learn what I am and I can define myself only by referring to of what I am capable. my acts. I express myself, indeed, by the personal pronoun, but never with But the phenomenon is never the out joining it to the verb. I, me, taken SOLE product of the subject. There is alone, without a verb, expressed or un- and can be no thought with a single derstood, means nothing. It must be term. It is impossible to think withalways I am, I do, I think, I will, I out thinking an OBJECT as well as a love, or I hate. In my essence, save subject. I never think without enso far as my being is revealed in my countering an object, and only in condoing, I never know or apprehend my currence with the object. But in the self. I find myself never as pure es act of thinking where I find myself, and sence, but always as cause, and as be- where only I find myself, I always find ing only so far forth as cause; that is myself as subject, never as OBJECT. I to say, I find myself, exist to myself, find the OBJECT always, invariably oponly in my efforis, productions, orphe- posed to the subject, and, therefore,
I am conscious, therefore, of never as me, but ALWAYS AS NOT ME.
REALITY OF THE OBJECT.
I RECOGNIZE myself, am conscious of in philosophy. It settles the question my own existence, am able to affirm so long agitated concerning the objectthat I am, only in the act of thinking. ive validity of human knowledge, and But I can think only on condition of puts an end at once and for ever to all encountering in the phenomenon an İDEALISM, and to all SKEPTICISM. The object which, as opposed to the subject object is no creature of the subject; or me, must needs be noi me. Then I for it is as essential to the production can never find myself without finding of the phenomenon we term thought, at the same time, and in the same phe- as is the subject itself. Where there is nomenon, that which is not myself. no subject, of course there is no But I do find myself in every thought. thought; where no object, equally no It follows, then, that both myself and thought. Since the object precedes that which is not myself, the me and thought as one of its conditions, it canthe not me, are given in each and not be a product of thought ; since its every thought, in the first and simplest, existence is essential to the activity or as well as in the last and most com to the manifestation of the subject, it plex.
must be independent of the subject,
and therefore not me. If not me, it The highest degree of certainty I ever have or can aspire to, is that of must be what I find it in the phenomy own existence. This is merely the itself what I think it, or what it
menon ; that is to say, it must be in certainty I have that in thinking I recognize myself as the subject of the enters for into the thought as one of its
elements. For, if it were not what I thought
. But the certainty I have, think it; if it entered into the phenothat in thinking I encounter an object,
menon for what it is not in itself, it which is not me, is precisely equal to would not be not me, but me; and this. Consequently, the certainty I have of the existence of the Object, in therefore not object but subject, which
were a contradiction in terms. Every all cases as not me, is precisely, object, thought contains an object; and this obively and subjectively, the certainty I
ject, whatever it be, is therefore not have of my own existence, that is, my me, but exists really out of me, and inhighest degree of certainty,
dependent of me. The object I think This conclusion is of immense reach then really is; and is, not because I