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out of this philosophy many thousands of books have been written by way of teaching it, discussing it, extending it, opposing it. And yet it is a fact, that all its doctrines are negative teaching, in no case, what we are, but simply what we are not to believe- and that all its truths are barren. Such being its unpopular character, I cannot but imagine that the German people have received it with so much ardor, from profound incomprehension of its meaning, and utter blindness to its drift- a solution which may seem extravagant, but is not so; for, even amongst those who have expressly commented on this philosophy, not one of the many hundreds whom I have. myself read, but has retracted from every attempt to explain its dark places. In these dark places lies, indeed, the secret of its attraction. Were light poured into them, it would be seen that they are culs-de-sac, passages that lead to nothing; but, so long as they continue dark, it is not known whither they lead, how far, in what direction, and whether in fact, they may not issue into paths connected directly with the positive and the infinite. Were it known that upon every path a barrier faces you insurmountable to human steps-like the barriers which fence in the Abyssinian valley of Rasselas - the popularity of this philosophy would expire at once; for no popular interest can long be sustained by speculations which, in every aspect, are known to be essentially negative and essentially finite. Man's nature has something of infinity within itself, which requires a corresponding infinity in its objects. We are told, indeed, by Mr. Bulwer, that the Kantian system has ceased to be of any authority in Germany that it is defunct, in fact and that we have first begun to import it into England, after its root had withered, or begun to wither, in its native soil. But Mr. Bulwer is mistaken. The philosophy has never withered
in Germany. It cannot even be said that its fortunes have retrograded they have oscillated: accidents of taste and ability in particular professors, or caprices of fashion, have given a momentary fluctuation to this or that new form of Kantianism, an ascendancy, for a period, to various, and, in some respects, conflicting modifications of the transcendental system; but all alike have derived their power mediately from Kant. No weapons, even if employed as hostile weapons, are now forged in any armory but that of Kant; and, to repeat a Roman figure which I used above, all the modern polemic tactics of what is called metaphysics, are trained and made to move either ejus ductu or ejus auspiciis. Not one of the new systems affects to call back the Leibnitzian philosophy, the Cartesian, or any other of earlier or later date, as adequate to the purposes of the intellect in this day, or as capable of yielding even a sufficient terminology. Let this last fact decide the question of Kant's vitality. Qui bene distinguit bene docet. This is an old adage. Now, he who imposes new names upon all the acts, the functions, and the objects of the philosophic understanding, must be presumed to have distinguished most sharply, and to have ascertained with most precision, their general relations— so long as his terminology continues to be adopted. This test, applied to Kant, will show that his spirit yet survives in Germany. Frederick Schlegel, it is true, twenty years ago, in his lectures upon literature, assures us that even the disciples of the great philosopher have agreed to abandon his philosophic nomenclature. But the German philosophic literature, since that date, tells another tale. Mr. Bulwer is, therefore, wrong; and, without going to Germany, looking only to France, he will see cause to revise his sentence. Cousin the philosophic Cousin, the only great name in philosophy for modern France
familiar as he is with North Germany, can hardly be presumed unacquainted with a fact so striking, if it were a fact, as the extinction of a system once so triumphantly supreme as that of Kant; and yet Mr. Bulwer, admiring Cousin as he does, cannot but have noticed his efforts to naturalize Kant in France. Meantime, if it were even true that transcendentalism had lost its hold of the public mind in Germany, primâ facie, this would prove little more than the fickleness of that public which must have been wrong in one of the two cases either when adopting the system, or when rejecting it. Whatever there may be of truth and value in the system, will remain unimpeached by such caprices, whether of an individual or of a great nation; and England would still be in the right to import the philosophy, however late in the day, if it were true even (which I doubt greatly) that she is importing it.
Both truth and value there certainly is in one part of the Kantian philosophy; and that part is its foundation. I had intended, at this point, to introduce an outline of the transcendental philosophy-not, perhaps, as entering by logical claim of right into any biographical sketch, but as a very allowable digression in the record of that man's life to whom, in the way of hope and of profound disappointment, it had been so memorable an object. For two or three years before I mastered the language of Kant,* it had been a pole-star to my hopes, and in hypothesi
* I might have mastered the philosophy of Kant, without waiting for the German langage, in which all his capital works are written; for there is a Latin version of the whole, by Born, and a most admirable digest of the cardinal work, (admirable for its fidelity and the skill by which that fidelity is attained,) in the same language, by Rhiseldek, a Danish professor. But this fact, such was the slight knowledge of all things connected with Kant in England, I did not learn for some years.
agreeably to the uncertain plans of uncertain knowledge,
as a life dedicated Such it was some years
the luminous guide to my future life and set apart to philosophy.
before I knew it for, at least ten long years after I came into a condition of valuing its true pretensions and measuring its capacities, this same philosophy shed the gloom of something like misanthropy upon my views and estimates of human nature; for man was an abject animal, if the limitations which Kant assigned to the motions of his speculative reason were as absolute and hopeless as, under his scheme of the understanding and his genesis of its powers, too evidently they were. I belonged to a reptile race, if the wings by which we had sometimes seemed to mount, and the bouyancy which had seemed to support our flight, were indeed the fantastic delusions which he represented them. Such, and so deep and so abiding in its influence upon my life, having been the influence of this German philosophy, according to all logic of proportions, in selecting the objects of my notice, I might be excused for setting before the reader, in its full array, the analysis of its capital sections. However, in any memorial of a life which professes to keep in view (though but as a secondary purpose) any regard to popular taste, the logic of proportions must bend, after all, to the law of the occasion to the proprieties of time and place. For the present, therefore, I shall restrict myself to the few sentences in which it may be proper to gratify the curiosity of some readers, the two or three in a hundred, as to the peculiar distinctions of this philosophy. Even to these two or three out of each hundred, I shall not venture to ascribe a larger curiosity than with respect to the most general whereabouts' of its position - from what point it starts - whence and from what aspect it surveys the ground — and by what links from this starting
point it contrives to connect itself with the main objects of philosophic inquiry.
Immanuel Kant was originally a dogmatist in the school of Leibnitz and Wolf; that is, according to his trisection of all philosophy into dogmatic, sceptical, and critical, he was, upon all questions, disposed to a strong affirmative creed, without courting any particular examination into the grounds of this creed, or into its assailable points. From this slumber, as it is called by himself, he was suddenly aroused by the Humian doctrine of cause and effect. This celebrated essay on the nature of necessary connection
so thoroughly misapprehended at the date of its first publication to the world by its soi-disant opponents, Oswald, Beattie, &c., and so imperfectly comprehended since then by various soi-disant defenders became in effect the 'occasional cause" (in the phrase of the logicians) of the entire subsequent philosophic scheme of Kant—every section of which arose upon the accidental opening made to analogical trains of thought, by this memorable effort of scepticism, applied by Hume to one capital phenomenon among the necessities of the human understanding. What is the nature of Hume's scepticism as applied to this phenonenon? What is the main thesis of his celebrated essay on cause and effect? For few, indeed, are they who really know anything about it. If a man really understands it, a very few words will avail to explain the nodus. Let us try. It is a necessity of the human understanding (very probably not a necessity of a higher order of intelligences) to connect its experiences by means of the idea of cause and its correlate, effect: and when Beattie, Oswald, Reid, &c., were exhausting themselves in proofs of the indispensableness of this idea, they were fighting with shadows; for no man had ever questioned the practical