Изображения страниц

laws of action, and to describe idea is to describe being. This is a characteristic trait of that system, a trait on which we have remarked in the system of absolute identity, and to which we shall have to revert subsequently, when we shall see what is the fundamental defect of modern pantheism.

The two other parts of the philosophy of Hegel discuss idea or being in its manifestations, in its external life, in its developments, or, as Hegel calls it, in its goings-out (processus). And here that philosophy departs a little from Schelling, and above all, from Spinosa. The latter supposes that the two modes of being of the infinite, extension and thought, are simultaneously manifested. Hegel, doubtless prompted by the discoveries of geology, which show us that the successive creations have followed a growing gradation in their organic forms-Hegel, prompted by these discoveries, al. though he affects to borrow nothing from experience, is of opinion that being is first manifested as nature. Proceeding from a state so vague, so indeterminate that it resembles nothing in existence, idea, before arriving at its perfect development, before having a conscious knowledge of itself, was under the necessity of passing through a series of different degrees, and by a progressive education, to become capable of assuming a form more suitable to its dignity, and to appear as spirit.* As the material form is less

perfect than the spiritual, idea manifested itself first under the form of the world. The description of its progress in that direction, forms the second part of his system, that is, a philosophy of nature.

Then follows a third part, which is the philosophy of spirit. Here we have presented before us the spectacle of the most beautiful developments of idea. It disengages itself, so to speak, from the bonds of matter; it becomes free; it has a consciousness of itself. In that new state, being passes through three degrees of development; it manifests itself first as individual spirit in man, and in that inferior form it is yet in connection with nature which it does not entirely con

* Does not this remind us somewhat of the, at least singular idea of Robinet, who in the last century regarded the petrifactions which geology had not yet explained, as the unsuccessful efforts of nature in seeking to form man?

trol. Then, creating for itself a proper world, a world wholly spiritual, having nothing common with nature, it manifests itself as that general spirit which animates an entire mass of mankind; that is properly, the national spirit, which, with Hegel, is not an abstraction. Finally, it elevates itself to the summit of that superior state, in order to pass into the ideal sphere. Then idea apprehends itself; sees itself; contemplates itself; studies itself; knows itself; it feels itself God, God perfect, God infinite, God eternal.

As it seems, each of the systems is the definition, the description of the absolute in a different degree of its developments, and the entire system is but the tableau of the life of being.

Such, in its latest impression, is the system of Hegel. Doubtless this dry and neagre sketch is very far from exhibiting it as it ought to be, in order to make an impression, that is to say, by rising gradually on an unbroken chain of the most concise reasoning. As little partisan as we may

be of that system, we cannot help admiring its beautiful structure, and proclaiming it the boldest, philosophy has produced. But one must study it in Hegel's own writings in order to gain a complete idea of it. Here, we repeat it again, because unwilling to be accused of not representing strongly and truly, the theories we design to conibat; here, we have only to inquire into the general traits of the spirit of the system, and we think we have said enough on the subject to give our readers an exact idea of it.

We have just cast a rapid glance at the three most celebrated pantheistic systems which the history of philosophy has offered us, and it is to those we must, above all, have regard, the pantheism of the first Grecian philosophers, that of the Eleatæ and that of the Neoplatonists, which are transfused into the modern systems. We may remark that, notwithstanding some differences in their details, they all three revert to this as their basis, to know God, the absolute, the idea,—the name is of no account—as the sole and only being, and the universe with all it contains, whether matter or spirit, as nothing else than a manifestation of that being, a moment of its life, its mode or modes of existence.

II. Appreciation of Pantheism.---Pantheism cannot be considered as the hap-hazard product of certain minds totally imbued with error. Although an enormous error, it must find in the human soul some causes ever ready to act, when no longer counterbalanced by other forces of the mind necessary to maintain the equilibrium. We are led to this opinion by observing the constancy with which it has persevered from the most ancient times to the present, and the universal power with which it has operated, at different periods, on the human mind. Already in most remote antiquity, it appears at the foundation of all the systems of India. Scarcely has mind waked up in the west, before it appears in the sect of the Eleatæ : it leaves some traces in Platonism, reigns among the Neoplatonists, penetrates into Christian theology, which it essays to invade at several different periods, and at length is developed in all its vigor in the modern systems of Germany.

This continuance is no evidence indeed of its truth, but it is proper for us to understand that, like all other philosophical points of view, pantheism is always produced under the influence of certain causes present in the human mind, and active whenever a favorable occasion offers.* We shall first proceed to inquire into those causes and to expose that which may be regarded as giving birth to pantheism. Then we shall essay to show what is the fundamental error of all the systems of that sort. And finally we shall point out some of the dangers of pantheism both in the field of thought and in that of practical life. These three points will form, it seems to us, a refutation of this view, if not complete, at least sufficiently satisfactory.

1. The Psychological causes of Pantheism.-From our very nature, composed of two parts, one spiritual, the other material, we find ourselves connected with two very different

* All the philosophical systems can be disposed into certain classes ; and each class has its own particular way of con. sidering things. Does any one take such a point of view, he is necessarily drawn towards such a species of system? But as each of those modes of view has its logical reason in the human spirit, it follows that all the systems have their source in the human spirit itself. Every system is worth as much as the source in the human mind from which it proceeds. In order therefore to give a just idea of each system, it will be advantageous to go into an examination of its psychological causes.

worlds, and as we possess two sorts of instruments for acquiring knowledge, the senses and reason, we attain two kinds of ideas, those of experience and those of reflection. Hence we are ready to believe that our nature imposes on us a dualism from which we cannot escape, and which it is impossible for us to reduce to unity.

Yet the human mind is unwilling to remain in that dualistic state; it feels a need of finding a principle in which all contradictions will disappear, and which will be of itself competent to explain all. The numberless contradictions we perceive between the ideas obtained through the senses and those of the reason, the no less numerous oppositions we encounter between the ideas coming from the same source, puzzle and embarrass us. The history of philosophy, is nothing else than the history of the efforts made by the human mind to reconcile them. Within us and without us we always find two principles, spirit and matter, continually present, in action and reaction, often in conflict. Are these two principles hostile only on their surface, so to speak, only in that in which they are apprehensible by us, whilst in their nature itself, in their substance, they are one, branches of a common stock, diverse manifestations of the same principle ? Or is their opposition rather in their very nature, and is there no common point, from which they both emanale ?

A sage and prudent philosophy knows well that it cannot answer those questions, and a multitude of others of a similar nature ; it is, in effect, impossible for the human spirit to penetrate into the substance of things. But there is a number of systems less cautious, which regard dualism as an inferior view, and imagine themselves to have found the point where opposition ceases, and whence it proceeds.* The authors of these systems are evidently impelled by the necessity which the human mind feels of reducing, everything to unity. We pretend not that here is the single cause of those systems, nor the principal ; but we think it contributes its proportion towards their formation.

These systems establish their unity in two ways. Some

* We shall call these systems monistic, in distinction from the dualistie. The monistic systems are materialism, idealism, and pantheism.

[ocr errors]

of them deny the reality of one of the two terms, and seek to explain the phenomena appertaining to it, by the action of the single term which they affirm. Thus materialism arrives at unity by denying all qualitative difference between spirit and matter, regarding spirit as subtile matter, and representing intellectual phenomena as produced by matter endowed with an organization infinitely delicate. Idealism establishes unity by a similar process; it denies the reality of the sensible and considers the phenomena attributed to it, as the result of the action of spirit. These systems, by setting aside one half of all that is, simplify the problem and render its solution indeed much more easy, but their disregard or their negation of one of the terms necessarily condemns them to error.

Pantheism, the other form of these systems, recognizes the existence of two factors, but treats them as two branches of a single trunk. It admits, in this way, duality, and reduces it to a unique principle. But this unique principle is but a supposition proposed to satisfy our need and our desire to get rid of the contradictions which are every where present. In fact, the point at which they suppose all contradictions cease, and which they hold to be the common source of spirit and matter, is not known to us either by the senses or by the reason. Were it a reality, did it verily exist, it would be to us as if it were not, since we have no means of knowing its existence. Schelling, indeed, says much of a superior faculty, by which we perceive that substance which manifests itself here as spirit, there as matter, and which is nevertheless neither matter nor spirit. But psychology has never discovered in the human spirit anything resembling that intellectual intuition, which this philosophy assumes. Hegel, feeling the impossibility of building on so fragile a basis, the system of absolute identity, considered himself more lucky in supposing that pure thought gives us the knowledge of that primary substance. But there again is a psychological fiction ; the faculty of thought is able to operate only on a subject provided for it; it is neither intuitive nor creative. That being, in which spirit and matter are identical, and which is their common substratum, has not been proved to exist; it is assumed; it is decreed.' But that will not suffice in philosophy.

We should not disown the influence exercised on the formation of these systems by the need of unity felt by ours

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »