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Scottish Philosophers.


supreme God, as he well might, if cause is to be regarded as a mere subjective notion of the finite mind, without a corresponding reality in the nature of things, and thus left nothing in the world of matter or mind but an universal, all-devouring scepticism.1

The Scottish mind, generally practical and sagacious, and withal enamored of the ideal and the divine, as the real basis of human thought, and the true source of all that is highest and purest in man, was shocked at these aberrations, and uttered against them a vehement protest. The most distinguished philosophers of Scotland, Hutcheson, Reid, Stewart, and Hamilton, while admiring both Locke and Hume, have been wonderfully preserved from the extremes of absolute naturalism and absolute spiritualism.2 In consequence of this, the views of Hume were never permitted to take root in the national literature. Indeed, it is to Reid, a Prebyterian clergyman, and professor in Glasgow University, to whom the honor is due of demolishing the representative theory, and thus refuting the opposite errors of Berkeley and Hume. But these distinguished thinkers have been preserved from error and extravagance chiefly by confining themselves to a patient investigation of mental and spiritual phenomena, and steadily eschewing all attempts at ontological speculation. While others, with more venturous wing, have been soaring into the empyrean of absolute thought, or rather perhaps plunging fruitlessly into the awful depths of mystic speculation, these modest but acute and learned men, have been opening the secret chambers of the spirit, and revealing, in a calm and steady light, the secret laws and processes of the intellect, the conscience and the heart. How firmly and loftily has Sir William Hamilton, the last and the greatest of these intellectual giants, while mastering all philosophies, ancient and modern, and apparently more at home amid the speculations of transcendentalism, than the transcendentalists themselves, for the last twenty or thirty years, resisted all the seductions of ontological speculation. Grasping with the ease of a Titan, the whole mass of philosophical investigations, he has calmly pursued his inquiries, without projecting a single theory, or hinting at the possibil

1 Hume's views are developed partly in his "Essay on Human Nature," but chiefly in his "Enquiry into the Human Understanding." His scepticism is brought out chiefly in the 12th section of the "Enquiry."

2 Brown, with great powers of analysis and a towering imagination, was caught in the snare of Hume's speculation on cause and effect, and if he did not fall into it, approached the very borders of the abyss. His elaborate work on "Cause and Effect," is a splendid failure.

ity even of a philosophical system. And yet we hesitate not to say that he is the only man since the days of Reid, who has made anything like effective and solid contributions to the science of mind. Others have speculated, in many cases with much learning and genius, but so far as we know, without adding anything essential to mental philosophy, or the solution of the vast problems of the finite or the infinite nature.1

It must be confessed, however, that in England and Scotland, the speculations of Locke, while quickening the national mind, and enlarging the boundaries of mental and moral inquiry, have checked the influence of a higher and more spiritual philosophy, and too often stifled the aspirations of a heaven-born faith. They have originated and perpetuated a system of arid and secular morality, and run out into the gross and vapid utilities of Priestley and Bentham.

But it is in France especially that the material philosophy has been expounded and applied in its baldest and grossest forms. By a singular, but not unnatural, perversion, claiming Locke as its father, it proceeded, in that country, by a gradual process, to the most monstrous extremities. Denying not only the existence of God, and the immortality of the soul, but the common obligations of morality, it found its natural result in the horrors and impieties of the first revolution.-Taken up, in the first instance by Gassendi and Condillac, both of them ecclesiastics, and men of talent, who derived all knowledge from sensation and all virtue from expediency, it was carried out by Helvetius, Condorcet, and the Baron D'Holbach, whose "Systeme De La Nature," Voltaire himself pronounced to be "illogical in its deductions, absurd in its physics, and abominable in its moral*ity.2

According to these philosophers nothing is real which does not appeal to the senses; the soul itself is the effect of animal organization, thought the product of the brain as chyle is of the stomach, the universe a huge machine, moved forever by inexorable fate, man a link in the vast and interminable chain of revolutions, life a bubble which floats for a brief hour on the heaving bosom of nature and then sinks back into the abyss, morality the interest of the individual or the State, God the phantom of a diseased imagination, and immortality

1 In moral science some advance, we think, has been made. Jacobi, Jouffroy, F. Schlegel, Vinet, Mackintosh, and Wayland have done good service in this department.

2 Morell, Hist. of Philos. p. 112. See Damiron, "Histoire de La Philosophie en France."

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the dream of a fanatic superstition! A system this, if system it can be called,

"Which leans its idiot back On folly's topmost twig."1

The Revolution, like a fire fed by the combustibles which it consumes, swept away these extravagant notions; and a better era dawned upon France. A great reäction ensued, in favor of a more spiritual philosophy, which has received its present development in the eclecticism of Victor Cousin. It leans, however, to the absolute idealism of Germany and is yet crude and imperfect in its principles and forms. Materialism, too, is far from being extinct in France. It lingers among many of her celebrated thinkers, and has been defended, with great learning and ability, by Auguste Comte, who finds nothing in the universe around him or within him but laws and phenomena. Profoundly versed in natural science, he renounces the idea of a providence and a God as the greatest hindrance to science, and constructs the universe from a vast generalization of mechanical forces. The idea of an ultimate or a final cause has escaped from his investigations, and his universe is nothing but a vast and eternally revolving machine, without mind or heart, without end or aim. Man quivers, for a moment, on the wheel of fate, and is then swept into the vortex of all-creating, all-devouring law!

Leaving much that might be said upon these and kindred facts, as developing the progress and results of the materialistic or sensational philosophy, we proceed now to consider the more spiritual philosophy of continental Europe, including France and Germany, certainly the most brilliant page in the history of speculative inquiry. It has called into action all the resources of the human mind, and has passed through all conceivable changes of truth and error, now bathing its wing in the very light of God, and anon plunging amid the horrors of abysmal night.

Descartes, with a mind profound, energetic and free, spurning the restraints of custom and authority, and fired by a noble ardor to comprehend the nature of things, has been recognized, on all hands, as the father of the true philosophy of the human mind.

Less saga

1 The essence of the sensual philosophy is all contained in the following sentence from Cabanis, “Les nerfs voilà tout l'homme" — the nerves are the whole of man!"

2" Philosophie Positive," Par Auguste Comte.

Stewart, Cousin and Morell equally concede to him this character.
VOL. VIII. No. 29.


cious, indeed, than Locke, and really contributing less to the stock of human knowledge, he saw, with great clearness, the vast distinction between mind and matter, and commenced his studies with a purely psychological and inductive method. He did not, indeed, carry out with full consistency, his own fundamental principles of inquiry, and finally lapsed into some egregious errors. At first he refused to take anything for granted not proved by the facts of consciousness; but at last seemed to take everything for granted; so that D'Alembert is justified in saying, that "Descartes began with doubting of everything and ended in believing that he had left nothing unexplained."

As nature is to be studied in itself, and by means of simple observation; so Descartes justly concluded that mind is to be studied in itself, and by means of consciousness, or conscious reflection.1 "His Cogito ergo sum," though a petitio principii, on the ground that the I think, involves and indeed expresses the I am, after all furnished him with the fundamental principle of all mental and spiritual science. For, of whatever we doubt, we cannot doubt that we doubt. Conscious personality is involved in every mental act, and consciousness therefore must supply us with the facts of mind. Psychology, therefore, or a well digested account of our mental phenomena, must form the basis of all speculation as to the nature and destiny of mind.2

On this ground, Descartes asserted the pure spirituality or rather immateriality of mind, for spirituality is only the negation of what we term material qualities, and thus did an immense service to the cause of truth. This, however, with slight exceptions, is about the whole amount of his contributions to mental philosophy. His theory of innate ideas, as explained by himself, the criterion of which he makes clearness and distinctness, a criterion manifestly inadequate if not absolutely false, led him to assert the validity of every notion lying clearly and distinctly in the mind. Here, therefore, he found the idea of the absolute and infinite, that is of God, and concluding that such an idea could not come from finite nature; though infinite and absolute are but the simple negation of finite and relative; he concluded that it was a necessary idea, an idea from God himself, and therefore proving à priori, that is an absolute way, the Divine


But how do we prove the existence of the external world, as well as the existence of God? In other words, how do we prove the

1" Meditations Metaphysiques"— Premiere Meditation.

2 "Meditation seconde." Oeuvres (Ed. Charpentier), pp. 68, 77. Meditation Quatrieme, p. 93.


Remarks on the Princeton Review.


finite reality as well as the infinite reality? This, too, exists in the mind clearly and distinctly, and it is not to be supposed, argues Descartes, forgetting utterly his inductive or psychological method, that God would deceive us in such a matter, he concludes that the external world has a real and not merely apparent or phenominal existence.1 Our mental faculties prove the existence of God, and the existence of God proves the validity of our mental faculties, is the vicious circle which throws inextricable confusion into the Cartesian philosophy.2

[To be continued.]



By Edwards A. Park, Abbot Professor in Andover Theol. Seminary.


In the Biblical Repertory for October, 1850, has been published a Review of the last Convention Sermon delivered before the Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts. Some admirers of this Review have published the remark, that no one can mistake "the hand" that is in it, and have fitly characterized its author as one of the most accomplished Reviewers in the country." As it is said to have emanated from a well-known theological instructor; as it suggests some grave questions of rhetoric; and as it illustrates various evils incident to anonymous criticism, it seems entitled to a dispassionate regard. There is no need, however, of canvassing all the principles, right and wrong, which are advanced in the Review, nor of commenting on all the wrong impressions which it makes, with regard to the sermon. We shall content ourselves with noticing a few, as specimens of the many mis-statements into which the critic has inadvertently lapsed.

It is a familiar fact, and one of great practical importance, that there are two generic modes of representing the same system of religious truth; the one mode suited to the scientific treatise, the other to the popular discourse, hymn book, liturgy. They differ not in language alone, but in several, and especially the following particulars: first, in the images and illustrations with which the same truth

1 Meditation Quatrieme, p. 93.

2 Meditation Cinquieme-particularly the close, pp. 107, 108.

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