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spirits. In obedience to its impulse, the pantheists think to ascend higher in the explanation of things ihan those philosophers who are content to admit two principles, and who acknowledge the impossibility of sinking them in one higher unity, which, nevertheless, they do not deny, but which they do not affirm. All that the pantheists do besides, is a hypothesis which does not appear to us to have procured any benefit to philosophy. It is true that their systems are often less constrained than the dualistic, that they seem less defective, and that they explain some questions which a more circumspect philosophy leaves unresolved. But science derives no great advantages from solutions which are but hypotheses.
Nearly related to the cause, which we have just pointed out, we may mention two others, each of which is manifested in a different species of pantheism. This view is presented under two principal forms, which sometimes commingle in one and the same system, but which are, however, distinct, and one of which prevails even there, where the two are amalgamated. Pantheism appears in history, sometimes as a system essentially religious, sometimes as essentially speculative and dialectic. As a religious system we find it in India, amongst the three sects of the Brahmins, the Buddhists, and the Jains; in China, in the doctrine of Fohi; in Persia, in Sufism. The pantheism of the Cabbala, that of the Neoplatonists, and that of most of the mystics of the middle ages, bear in general the same character. As an exclusively speculative system, it is met with in the sect of the Eleatæ, in Giordano Bruno, in Spinosa and in the modern German schools. Each of these two forms has a different source. Religious pantheism is produced by an exaltation of the religious sentiment abandoned to the imagination and without the guidance of reason. Speculative pantheism is the result of an exclusive speculation, badly directed, badly developed ; of a purely logical exercise of the judgment.
We say, in the first place, that religious pantheism is generated by a religious sentiment, borne away by the imagination, and freed from the control of reason. A few considerations will suffice to make this apparent.
The profoundly religious man possesses an unceasing desire for communion with God. Nothing more laudable, inothing better. But if he give no heed to the voice of reason, which tells him that that union can only be a moral one, that it consists only, in sensible beings, such as we are, of the sentiments of the heart; if he allow himself to be carried away by his imagination; if he seek, instead of that moral union, a substantial union with God, he will find himself inevitably drawn into pantheism. Every mystic doctrine which proposes the identification of the soul with God, which aims at the absorption of my individual self into the bosom of Deity, must necessarily consider God as the sole real being, the world as an illusion which must be dissipated in the eternal light, and the soul of man as a part of the sole being. *
History, on this point, presents us numerous examples, and we apprehend that, in all places and in all times, mysticism, when freed entirely from the empire of reason, has ended in pantheism.
Amongst pagan nations, it shows us in the East a multitude of mystic sects, all preaching pantheism, and proposing to themselves, as the ultimate aiin, the absorption of the soul in the Deity, besides whom there is nothing real.f
In the West, it gives us an example of that union of mysticism and pantheism, in Neoplatonism. The Deity with whom Plotinus had the felicity of being so often united, is also the sole real existence, manifesting his being in the infinite variety of things.
It presents before us in Mohammedism, which, notwithstanding its materialism and the precautions of its founder 10 exclude mysticism, has not been able to escape from it, a
* “The key to the release of the soul is in these words, which those false philosophers must repeat over and over without cessation, with a pride beyond that of Lucifer: I am the supreme being, aham ava param Brahma." Lettres édifiantes, xxvi, 247. Similar language sometimes occurs amongst the pantheists of the West, and of modern times.
† See Colebrook's essays on the systems of India, also the Bhagavad-Ghita, of which there is an indifferent French translation.
I Mohammed, considering monachism as the source of mysticism, excluded it from his religious institutions. That there cannot be monks in Mohammedism, is a common saying, even a proverb with every good Mussulman.
pretty large mystic sect, known under the name of Sufism,* proposing as its supreme end, a union with God, the only real being, besides whom all is smoke.f
In the bosom of Christianism, whose spirit, nevertheless, is so opposite to pantheism, it has often followed in the wake of mysticism. All the mystic sects of the middle ages are, at the same time, pantheists. It is sufficient to mention the Beghards, the Brothers of the free spirit, the Friends of God, the Brothers of the common life, etc. If we may believe that the greater part of those who composed those sects were carried away by a blind zeal, excited by the evils of the times, and urged on by some fanatical preachers, the same excuse cannot be made for those who, more enlightened, have been impelled into pantheism merely by the high excitement of their religious sentiment, which exposes itself clearly as the cause and source of their pantheistic notions. We can cite, for example, some men like Eckart, Tauler, Suzo, Ruysbrock. Finally, it might be proved that the mystics, who have not avowed pantheism, were not so far removed from it as they thought, and that they were preserved from those fatal excesses only by their practical judgment. This remark applies particularly to those mystics of the middle ages, who, attaching much greater importance to the practical life than to the gloomy speculation of the schools, were thus saved from the ordinary consequences of their manner of thinking. In this number must be ranged the Victorists, Bonaventure, and some others whose religious sentiment took a practical direction. Speculative pantheism proceeds from another source.
It has its origin in an exclusive employment of the faculty of reflection, depending on it alone, and discarding the aid of
* Tholuck has written in Latin a remarkable work on this philosophical religious sect.
† Tholuck, Sufismus, p. 247, 219, 142, 153, etc.
# Tauler teaches positively, that God alone exists; that besides him all is nonentity, and that in the abyss of his divinity, from which the soul has enanated, and into which it must be absorbed again, all temporal contradictions will one day be dissolved in a perfect identity. Ch. Schmidt, Essay on the mystics of the fourteenth century, p. 77.
all the other faculties. It is easy to see, when we examine systems of this sort, that they rely not at all on observation, for which they profess a profound contempt, and which they regard at best as the means of acquiring some ideas of an inferior order, and useless as to philosophy. They launch out, at once, towards regions inaccessible to human ken, and which it seems to common sense not possible to attain but by slow and timid inductions, built on observations well made and long studied. The point from which these systems would start, is precisely that at which a philosophy more reserved arrives at length, with difficulty and after much toiling labor. But, posting itself on ground concealed from human view, and disdaining to take for a point of departure what can be known by us, how can speculative pantheism establish any system ? Some pantheists, it is true, have pretended that the invisible world is concealed only from profane and gross minds. The Neoplatonists talk of a possibility of seeing God, and we have already said that Schelling admits in man a faculty, which he calls intellectual intuition, by which we can have a view of hyperphysical things. But, besides that this is proved to be a psychological error, and that the understanding is not an intuitive faculty, the more logical pantheists, as Hegel, for instance, reject this opinion. How, then, can they know any thing of the intellectual world, since they cannot have any intuition of it, and do not attain to it by reasoning through induction on the things which we know ? The only method remaining to them is that of reasoning a priori on the intellectual world. And, reasoning a priori is at once the method and the origin of speculative pantheism. It is to the judgment alone it addresses itself; on it alone it stakes all; it rejects totally our other means of knowledge.
The judgment is a discerning faculty; its proper office is, to be exercised on what we acquire by observation, in order to deduce conclusions by different species of reasoning. But here it is not employed in exerting its powers on matters of experience, on a basis furnished by the senses. Pantheism must create its own proper subject : how will it set about it? It can only be done by forming to itself some notions a priori of what seems to it necessary, and as it cannot be bound by ideas derived from experience, and often very difficult to arrange in order, it determines its notions according to the laws of logic. Thus the ensemble of the ideas so formed is eminently logical ; nor is this astonishing, since logic alone has been concerned in their production ; and the systems constructed after this fashion possess a unity and attractiveness which are very seductive; but they resemble Roland's horse, which would have been perfect, but for one single fault, that he was without life.
These systems, in fact, do not represent what is; but what, according to their authors, may logically be. They are indeed very beautiful romance, but are they the history of actual being? What would be thought of a man who, proposing to unfold the causes which have operated in producing human events, would not consult every testimony, every chronicle, every work—and who, proceeding on an a priori conception of man and society, should construct a history of the human race with the logical deductions he might make from that ideal notion? But this is nevertheless just what the pantheists do. True, they pretend that the inutual relations of being are the same as the relations of our ideas among themselves; so that logic is sufficient to supply us with metaphysical ideas. But on what does such an opinion rest, which nothing seems to authorize ? On an idea true in itself, we confess, but abused in this case and wrested from its proper signification. It is certain that we only know things by the ideas we have of them. A parallelism may therefore he struck between what actually is, and our idea of that which is. But between this and the identity of being and idea, as pantheism assumes, the distance is very great. That identity could, at most, be established by means of ideas derived from experience, and things which fall within the field of observation; and yet it has been denied under these restricted limits. But nothing could warrant us to extend it in all cases to ideas which we form a priori, and to beings inaccessible to us; nothing could authorize us to believe that thelogical relations of our ideas are identical with the real relations of being.
Here, however, is the foundation of speculative pantheism. It describes the relations of beings according to the logical relations of our thoughts, and it considers logic a branch of metaphysics. We come now to show this system to be nothing less than a confusion of the laws of thought with those of matter. We shall confine ourselves to some principal traits.