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method, and pointed men to ethics, instead of bewildering speculations about physical nature. Aristotle led the world again to speculation; he brought philosophy back to the point where Socrates had found it. A second crisis followed, under the same laws as the first. The Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the New Academy arose. All these schools were essentially sceptical; and scepticism protested against all philosophy. Mr. Lewes thus sums up the result:—
The struggles of so many men, from Thales, who first asked himself, whence do all things proceed to the elaborate systematisation of the forms of thought which occupied an Aristotle—the struggles of all these men had ended in scepticism. Little was to be gleaned from the harvest of their endeavours but arguments against the possibility of that philosophy which they were so anxious to form. Centuries of thought had not advanced the mind one step nearer to a solution of the problems with which, child-like, it began. It began with a childlike question; it ended with an aged doubt. Not only did it doubt the solutions of the great problem which others had attempted, it even doubted the possibility of any solution. It was not the doubt which begins, but the doubt which ends enquiry; it had no illusions.
Reason had now but one recourse; it allied itself with faith, and Alexandria was the theatre of the great effort to construct a religious philosophy. Neo-Platonism arose; then Neo-Platonism was felt to be antagonistic to Christianity. The Alexandrian school was finally defeated with Proclus:—
With Proclus the Alexandrian school expired; with him philosophy ceased. Religion, and religion alone, seemed capable of affording satisfactory answers to the questions which perplexed the human race; and philosophy was reduced to the subordinate office which the Alexandrians had consigned to the Aristotelian logic. Philosophy became the servant of religion, no longer reigning in its own right. Thus was the circle of endeavour completed. With Thales, reason separated itself from faith; with the Alexandrians, the two were again united. The centuries between these epochs
were filled with helpless struggles to overcome an insuperable difficulty.
We have already stated that Mr. Lewes, holding that the ancient philosophy ended with Proclus, and the modern began with Bacon, has contented himself with interposing three stepping-stones in the long space between, in the names of Abelard, Algazzali, and Giordano Bruno. The first epoch in the modern philosophy was the foundation of the inductive method, with which, of course, Mr. Lewes couples the name of Bacon. The second epoch was the foundation of the deductive method, associated with the name of Descartes. Spinoza brought about the first intellectual crisis in the modern philosophy; ontology gave way to psychology. It was now felt that knowledge dependent on experience must necessarily be merely knowledge of phenomena. Experience could only mean experience of ourselves as modified by objects. To know things per se, that is, what are called noumena in opposition to phenomena, we must know them through some other channel than experience. And psychology was studied in order to find an answer to the question, Have we ideas independent of experience We know outward things relatively; that is, as they transmit to us, through the media of sense, their pictures and ideas : but can we know things absolutely 5–that is, as they are in themselves, though there were no eye to see them, no fingers to touch them, no ear to hear them : Thus Mr. Lewes's third epoch is that of Hobbes, Locke, and Leibnitz. And Mr. Lewes holds that Locke brought things to a point which demonstrated the impossibility of philosophy: inasmuch as he showed that all knowledge is derived from experience, in its two forms of sensation and reflection; and so that we know things only relatively, not absolutely. Mr. Lewes, it will be observed, throughout his work identifies philosophy with ontology; and while most men will admit that ontology is impossible, few, we believe, will agree with him in thinking that this of necessity implies the impossibility of all metaphysics. From Locke's system there proceeded three distinct systems; the admitted fact that knowledge is subjective, resulted in the idealism of Berkeley, the scepticism of Hume, and the sensationalism of Condillac. Then came a crisis: it was the reaction of common sense. Dr. Reid, the head of the Scotch school, held, that although we cannot justly be said to pass beyond the limits of consciousness, and so cannot be said precisely to know things per se, still we cannot choose but believe that things are in themselves what they seem to us. We cannot possibly doubt that sense transmits to us an account of the external world, which is accurate so far as it goes. And we believe this, just because the common consent of mankind has decided the question. Kant, anxious to have data of a more purely philosophical character to found upon, sought them in a critical
examination of the reason itself. But as Kant admitted
After the Eleatics had vexed the problem of existence to no purpose, then came Democritus, Anaxagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, who endeavoured to settle the problems of the nature and origin of human knowledge. So in modern times, after Descartes and Spinoza, came Hobbes, Locke, Leibnitz, Reid, and Kant. The ancient researches into the origin of knowledge, ended in the Sceptics, the Stoics, and the New Academy: that is to say, in scepticism, common sense, and scepticism again. The modern researches ended in Berkeley, Hume, Reid, and Kant;
that is, in idealism, scepticism, common sense, and scepticism again. These enquiries terminating thus fruitlessly, a new and desperate spring was made in Alexandria; reason was given up for ecstasy; philosophy merged itself in religion. In Germany a similar spectacle presents itself. Schelling identified philosophy with religion. Thus has philosophy completed its circle, and we are left in this nineteenth century precisely at the same point at which we were in the fifth.
Such is the course which philosophy has run. Let us select from another part of Mr. Lewes's book Comte's view of what it has ended in :—
Humanity has three stages—the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. Whether we examine the history of nations, of individuals, or of special sciences, we find that speculation always commences with supernatural explanations, advances to metaphysical explanations, and finally reposes in positive explanations. The first is the necessary point of departure taken by human intelligence; the second is merely a stage of transition from the supernatural to the positive; and the third is the fixed and definite condition in which knowledge is alone capable of progressive development.
In the theological stage the mind regards all effects as the productions of supernatural agents, whose intervention is the cause of all the apparent anomalies and irregularities. Nature is animated by supernatural beings. Every unusual phenomenon is a sign of the pleasure or displeasure of some being adored and propitiated as a god. The lowest condition of this stage is that of the savages, viz., Fetishism. The highest condition is when one being is substituted for many, as the cause of all phenomena.
In the metaphysical stage, which is only a modification ofthe former, but which is important as a transitional stage, the supernatural agents give place to abstract forces (personified abstractions), supposed to inhere in the various substances, and capable themselves of engendering phenomena. The highest condition of this stage is when all these forces are brought under one general force, named Nature.