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Note I., p. 93.
“Whatever is for us something is so only so far as it is not something else; all position is possible only by negation; as indeed the word itself define means nothing else but limit.”—Fichte, Gerichtliche Verantwortung (Werke, V. p. 265). “The Finite exists in relation to its Other (the other of it, alterum), which is its negation, and puts itself there as its limit.” “Hegel, Encykl. § 28 (Werke, VI. p. 63). Compare Plotinus, Enn. V. 1. III. c. 12. “But that is the One itself, without the Something (i. e. not some one thing); for if it were the some one thing, then it would not be the One itself; for the One itself is prior to the Something.”—Enn. VI. 1. VII. c. 39. “For the Intelligence, if it is to exercise intelligence, must always apprehend difference and identity.” . . . . . .—Spinoza, Epist. 50. “This determination, therefore, does not belong to the (or a) thing In its own esse, but, on the contrary, belongs to its non-esse.” The canon, undeniable from a human point of view, that all consciousness is limitation, seems to have had some influence on modern philosophical theories concerning the Divine Nature. Thus Hegel maintains that God must become limited to be conscious of himself,146146 Werke, XI. p. 193. and defines Religion as the Divine Spirit’s knowledge of himself, by means of the finite Spirit.147147 Ibid., p. 200.
Note II., p. 94.
“For being limited (finite) ourselves, it would be absurd for us to make some determination of the infinite, and thus endeavor to limit it, as it were, and comprehend it.”—Descartes, Principia, I. 26. “The second reason of our short and imperfect notions of the Deity is, the Infinity of it. For this we must observe, That we can perfectly know and comprehend nothing, but as it is represented to us under some certain Bounds and Limitations. . . . Upon which account, what a loss must we needs be at, in understanding or knowing the Divine Nature, when the very way of our knowing seems to carry in it something opposite to the thing known. For the way of knowing is by defining, limiting, and determining; and the thing known is that of which there neither are, nor can be, any Bounds, Limits, Definitions, or Determinations.”—South, Animadvrersions upon Sherlock, ch. II. p. 55. ed. 1693. “All our thinking is a limiting; and exactly in this respect 273 is it called apprehending; i. e., comprehending something from out of a mass of determinable; so that there always may remain something outside the boundary-line, which has not been included (imprehended) within it,—and so does not belong to that which has been apprehended.”—Fichte, Gerichtliche Verantwortung (Werke, V. p. 265). “What I apprehend (or have an idea of) becomes finite by my mere apprehending, and this, even by endless ascending, never comes to the infinite.”—Fichte, Bestimmung des Menschen (Werke, II. p. 304). “The subject without predicate is, what in the appearance the thing is without attributes, what the thing is in itself, an empty, undetermined ground; it is the notion in itself, which only in the predicate gets a distinction and definiteness.”—Hegel, Logik, Th. II. (Werke, V. p. 70). Compare Philosophie der Religion (Werke, XI. p. 30). Encykopädie § 28, 29 (Werke, VI. p. 65).
Note III., p. 94.
The opposite sides of this contradiction are indicated in the following passages. Aristotle, Phys. III. 6, [10,] 13: “The Infinite . . . . is the whole potentially, but not actually.” . . . . Compare Metaph. viii. [ix. Ed. Gul. Duval, Paris, 1629] 8, 16: “That, therefore, which is capable of being, may both be and not be; the same thing, therefore, is capable both of being and of not being. But that, which is capable of not being, may not be; and that, which may not be, is corruptible. . . . . Nothing, therefore, of things simply incorruptible, is potentially simply being.” For a full discussion of the distinction between potentiality and actuality (the δύναμις and ἐντελέχεια or ἐνέργεια of Aristotle), see Trendelenburg on Arist. De Anima, p. 295. Compare Arist. Metaph. viii. [ix. Ed. Gul. Duval.] 6, 2: “It is actuality when a thing is really so, not as when we say potentially. For we say potentially as (of) the Hermes in the wood, and the half in the whole, because it might be taken out; and so, too, a learned man, of one who is not really versed in learning, if he have the capacity for learning.”. . . . This distinction plays a part in the controversy between Bramhall and Hobbes, the former of whom says, “The nearer that anything comes to the essence of God, the more remote it is from our apprehension. But shall we, therefore, make potentialities and successive duration, and former and latter, or a part without a part (as they say), to be in God? Because we are not able to understand clearly the Divine perfection, we must not therefore attribute any imperfection to Him.”148148 Works, vol. IV. p. 158. To this Hobbes replies, “Nor do I understand what derogation it can be to the divine perfection, to attribute to it potentiality, that is, in English, 274 power.”149149 Works, ed. Molesworth, vol. V. p. 342. “By potentiality,” retorts Bramhall, “he understandeth ‘power’ or might; others understand possibility or indetermination. Is not he likely to confute the Schoolmen to good purpose?”150150 Works, vol. IV. p. 425. Hobbes concludes by saying, “There is no such word as potentiality in the Scriptures, nor in any author of the Latin tongue. It is found only in School divinity, as a word of art, or rather as a word of craft, to amaze and puzzle the laity.”151151 Works, ed. Molesworth, vol. IV. p. 299. This charge may be answered in the words of Trendelenburg. “In unfolding these notions, drawn forth from the very recess of philosophy, we are forced into such straits by the laxness and the poverty of the Latin tongue in matters pertaining to philosophy, that we must have recourse, for the sake of perspicuity, to scholastic terms.”152152 In Arist. de Anima, p. 295.
But to go from the word to the thing. The contradiction thus involved in the notion of the Infinite has given rise to two opposite representations of it; the one, as the affirmation of all reality; the other, as the negation of all reality. The older metaphysicians endeavored to exhaust the infinite by an endless addition of predicates; hence arose the favorite representation of God, as the Ens perfectissimum, or sum of all realities, which prevailed in the Wolfian Philosophy, and was accepted by Kant.153153 See Wolf, Theologia Naturalis, Pars II. § 6, 14; Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, p. 450, ed. Rosenkranz. On the other hand, the post-Kantian metaphysicians perceived clearly that all predication is necessarily limitation, and that to multiply attributes is merely to represent the infinite under a variety of finite determinations. The consummation of this point of view was attained in the principle of Hegel, that pure being is pure nothing, and that all determinate being (Daseyn) is necessarily limited.154154 See Werke, III. p. 73; IV. p. 26, 27; V. p. 70; VI. p. 63. Hence his constant assertion that God cannot be represented by predicates.155155 See Werke, VI. p. 65; XI. p. 31, 153; XII. p. 229, 418. Both schools of philosophy are right in what they deny, and wrong in what they affirm. The earlier metaphysicians were right in assuming that thought is only possible by means of definite conceptions; but they were wrong in supposing that any multiplication of such conceptions can amount to a representation of the infinite. The later metaphysicians were right in opposing this error; but they fell into the opposite extreme of imagining that by the removal of determinations the act of thought and its object could become infinite. In truth, a thought about nothing is no thought at all; and the rejection of determinations is simply the refusal to think. The 275 conclusion to be drawn from the entire controversy is, that the infinite, as such, is not an object of human thought.
Note IV., p. 95.
“The adding infinity to any idea or conception necessarily finite, makes up no other than a curious contradiction for a divine attribute. . . . You make up an attribute of knowledge or wisdom infinitely finite; which is as chimerical and gigantic an idea as an infinite human body.”—Bp. Browne, Divine Analogy, p. 77. “Discovering conditions of the Unconditioned, inventing a possibility for the absolutely Necessary, and the being willing to construct it in order to be able to conceive of it, must immediately and most obviously appear to be an absurd undertaking.”-Jacobi, Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza (Werke, IV. Abth. II. p. 153). “Thou art different from the finite, not only in degree, but in kind. They only make Thee by that upward gradation a greater man, and ever still only a greater man; but never God, the Infinite, the Immeasurable.”—Fichte, Bestimmung des Menschen (Werke, II. p. 304).
Note V., p. 95.
“For, if we should suppose a man to be made with clear eyes, and all the rest of his organs of sight well disposed, but endued with no other sense; and that he should look only upon one thing, which is always of the same color and figure, without the least appearance of variety, lie would seem to me, whatsoever others might say, to see, no more than I seem to myself to feel the bones of my own limbs by my organs of feeling; and yet those bones are always, and on all sides, touched by a most sensible membrane. I might perhaps say he were astonished, and looked upon it; but I should not say he saw it; it being almost all one for a man to be always sensible of one and the same thing, and not to be sensible at all.” Hobbes, Elem. Phil. (Eng. Works), Sect. I. P. IV. c. 25, 5.
Note VI., p. 95.
The paradox of Hegel, if applied, where alone we have any data for applying( it, to the necessary limits of human thought, becomes no paradox at all, but an obvious truth, almost a truism. Our conceptions are limited to the finite and the determinate; and a thought which is not of any definite object, is but the negation of all thinking. Hegel’s error consists in mistaking an impotence of thought for a condition of existence. 276 That pure being is in itself pure nothing, is more than we can be warranted in assuming; for we have no conception of pure being at all, and no means of judging of the possibility of its existence. The absurdity becomes still more glaring, when this pure nothing is represented as containing in itself a process of self-development,—when being and non-being, which are absolutely one and the same, are regarded at the same time as two opposite elements, which, by their union, constitute becoming, and thus give rise to finite existence. But this absurdity is unavoidable in a system which starts with the assumption that thought and being are identical, and thus abolishes at the outset the possibility of distinguishing between the impotence of thought and its activity.
Note VII., p. 96.
Über den Grund unseres Glaubens an eine göttliche Weltregierung (Werke, V. p. 186). In a subsequent work written in defence of this opinion, Fichte explains himself as meaning that existence, as a conception of sensible origin, cannot be ascribed to God.156156 Appellation an das Publicum gegen die Anklage des Atheismus (Werke, V. p. 220). That the conception of existence is, like all other human representations, incompetent to express the nature of the Absolute, has been frequently admitted, by philosophers and theologians. Thus, Plato describes the supreme good “as not existence, but as above existence, and superior to it in dignity and power:”157157 Republic, VI p. 509. and his language is borrowed by Justin Martyr and Athanasius, to express the absolute nature of God;158158 Justin, Dial. c. Tryph. c. 4. “Who is above all existence; unspeakable, ineffab!e, but the only Noble and Good.”—Athanasius c. Gentes. c. 2. “Who is superior to all existence, and human intelligence, seeing that He is good and surpassing in moral beauty.” Compare Damascenus, De Fide Orthod. I. 4. “He is none of the things that are; not so as not to be, but to be above all things that are, above being itself.” Plotinus in like manner says that “the One is above being;”159159 Enn. V. 1. 10. τὸ ἐπέκεινα ὄντος τὸ ἒν. Compare Proclus, Inst. Theol. c. 115. “It is manifest that every god is above all the things mentioned, existence, and life, and mind.” and Schelling, the Plotinus of Germany, asserts that the Absolute in its essence is neither ideal nor real, neither thought nor being.160160 Bruno, p 57. “The Absolute we have now defined as essentially neither ideal nor real, neither thinking nor being.” This position is perfectly tenable so long as it is confessed that the Absolute is not the object of theological or philosophical speculation, and, consequently, that the provinces of thought and existence are not coextensive. But without this safeguard, there is no middle course 277 between an illogical theology and an atheistical logic. The more pious minds will take refuge in mysticism, and seek to reach the absolute by a superhuman process: the more consistent reasoners will rush into the opposite extreme, and boldly conclude that that which is inconceivable is also non-existent.
Note VIII., p. 96.
Sextus Empiricus, Adv. Math. VII. 311. “If the subject that knows is the whole, then there will be no object that is known; and it belongs to the most irrational of things, that there be that which knows, and there be not, that which is known.”—Plotinus, Enn. V. III. 10. “It must be, then, that that which has intelligence, be in duality when it exercises intelligence, and that either one of the two be outside it, or that both be in it, and that intelligence always have to do with alterity (difference).”—Compare Hegel, Philosophie der Religion (Werke, XI. p. 167). “In the consciousness, so far as I have knowledge of an object, I know it as my Other (or the Other of me), and hence myself limited by it and finite.—”Marheineke, Grundlehren, § 84. “But this comes to pass thus: in the absolute idea, in which science takes its stand-point, the subject is not different from the object, but just as it (i. e. the absolute idea) is the idea of the Absolute, as object, so also is the object in it, as the absolute idea, subject, and therefore the absolute idea is not different from God Himself.”
Note IX., p. 97.
In exhibiting the two universal conditions of human consciousness, that of difference between objects, and that of relation between object and subject, I have considered each with reference to its more immediate and obvious application; the former being viewed in connection with the Infinite, and the latter with the Absolute. But at the same time it is obvious that the two conditions are so intimately connected together, and the ideas to which they relate so mutually involved in each other, that either argument might be employed with equal force in the other direction. For difference is a relation, as well as a limit; that which is one out of many being related to the objects from which it is distinguished. And the subject and object of consciousness, in like manner, are not only related to, but distinguished from, each other; and thus each is a limit to the other: while, if either of them could be destroyed, a conception of the infinite by the finite would be still impossible; for either there would be no infinite to be conceived, or there would be no finite to conceive it.278
The three Laws of Thought, commonly acknowledged by logicians, those of Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle, are but the above two conditions viewed in relation to a given notion. For in the first place, every definite notion, as such, is discerned in the two relations of identity and difference, as being that which it is, and as distinguished from that which it is not. These two relations are expressed by the Laws of Identity and Contradiction. And in the second place, a notion is distinguished from all that it is not (A from not-A), by means of the mutual relation of both objects to a common subject, the universe of whose consciousness is constituted by this distinction. This mutual relation is expressed by the Law of Excluded Middle.
Note X., p. 97.
“Though we cannot fully comprehend the Deity, nor exhaust the infiniteness of its perfection, yet may we have an idea or conception of a Being absolutely perfect; such a one as is nostro modulo conformis, ‘agreeable and proportionate to our measure and scantling;’ as we may approach near to a mountain, and touch it with our hands, though we cannot encompass it all round, and enclasp it within our arms.”—Cudworth, Intellectual System, ch. 5 (vol. II. p. 518, ed. Harrison). “We grant that the mind is limited, but does it thence follow that the object of thought must be limited? We think not. We grant that the mind cannot embrace the Infinite, but we nevertheless consider that the mind may have a notion of the Infinite. No more do we believe that the mind, as finite, can only recognize finite objects, than we believe that the eve, because limited in its power, can only recognize those objects whose entire extension comes within the range of vision. As well tell us that because a mountain is too large for the eye of a mole, therefore the mole can recognize no mountain: as well tell us that because the world is too large for the eye of a man, therefore man can recognize no world,—as tell us that because the Infinite cannot be embraced by the finite mind, therefore the mind can recognize no Infinite.”—Calderwood, Philosophy of the Infinite, p. 12. The illustrations employed by both authors are unfortunate. The part of the mountain touched by the hand of the man, or seen by the eye of the mole, is, ex hypothesi, as a part of a larger object, imperfect, relative, and finite. And the world, which is confessedly too large for the eye of a man, must, in its unseen portion, be apprehended, not by sight, but by some other faculty. If, therefore, the Infinite is too large for the mind of man, it can only be recognized by some other mind, or by some faculty in man which is not mind. But no such faculty is or 279 can be assumed. In admitting that we do not recognize the Infinite in its entire extension, it is admitted that we do not recognize it as infinite. The attempted distinction is sufficiently refuted in the words of Bishop Browne. “If it is said that we may then apprehend God directly, though not comprehend him; that we may have a direct and immediate knowledge partly, and in some degree; and though not of his Essence, yet of the Perfections flowing from it: I answer, That all the Attributes and Perfections of God are in their real Nature as infinite as his very Essence; so that there can be no such thing as having a direct view of him in part; for whatever is in God is equally Infinite. If God is to be apprehended at all by any direct and immediate idea, he must be apprehended as Infinite; and in that very act of the mind, he would be comprehended; and there is no medium between apprehending an Infinite Being directly and analogically.”161161 Divine Analogy, p. 37. The author is speaking of our knowledge in a future state; but his arguments are more properly applicable to our present condition.
Note XI., p. 100.
The brevity with which this argument is necessarily expressed in the text, may render a few words of explanation desirable. Of course it is not meant that no period of time can be conceived, except in a time equally long; for this would make a thousand years as inconceivable as an eternity. But though there is nothing inconceivable in the notion of a thousand years or any other large amount of time, such a notion is conceivable only under the form of a portion of time, having other time before and after it. An infinite duration, on the other hand, can only be conceived as having no time before or after it, and hence as having no relation or resemblance to any amount of finite time, however great. The mere conception of an indefinite duration, bounding every conceivable portion of time, is thus wholly distinct from that of infinite duration; for infinity can neither bound nor be bounded by any duration beyond itself.
This distinction has perhaps not been sufficiently observed by an able and excellent writer of the present day, in a work, the principal portions of which are worthy of the highest commendation. Dr. McCosh argues in behalf of a positive conception of infinity, in opposition to the theory of Sir W. Hamilton, in the following manner: “To whatever point we go out in imagination, we are sure that we are not at the limits of existence; nay, we believe that, to whatever farther point we might go, there would be something still farther on.” “Such,” he continues, “seems to us to be 280 the true psychological nature of the mind’s conviction in regard to the infinite. It is not a mere impotence to conceive that existence, that time or space, should cease, but a positive affirmation that they do not cease.”162162 Method of the Divine Government, p. 534, 4th edition. To this argument it may be objected, in the first place, that this “something still farther on” is not itself primarily an object of conception, but merely the boundary of conception. It is a condition unavoidable by all finite thought, that whatever we conceive must be related to something else which we do not conceive. I think of a thousand years as bounded by a further duration beyond it. But if, secondarily, we turn our attention to this boundary itself, it is not then actually conceived as either limited or unlimited on its remoter side; we do not positively think of it as having no boundary; we only refrain from thinking of it as having a boundary. It is thus presented to us as indefinite, but not as infinite. And the result will be the same, if to our conception of a thousand years we add cycle upon cycle, till we are wearied with the effort. An idea which we tend towards, but never reach, is indefinite, but not infinite; for, at whatever point we rest, there are conditions beyond, which remain unexhausted.
In the second place, even if we could positively perceive this further duration as going on forever, we should still be far removed from the conception of infinity. For such a duration is given to us as bounding and bounded by our original conception of a thousand years; it is limited at its nearer extremity, though unlimited at the other. If this be regarded as infinite, we are reduced to the self-contradictory notion of infinity related to a time beyond itself. Is a thousand years, plus its infinite boundary, greater than that boundary alone, or not? If it is, we have the absurdity of a greater than the infinite. If it is not, the original conception of a thousand years, from relation to which that of infinity is supposed to arise, is itself reduced to a nonentity, and cannot be related to anything. This contradiction may be avoided, if we admit that Oour conception of time, as bounded, implies an apprehension of the indefinite, but not of the infinite.
But possibly, after all, the difference between Dr. McCosh’s view and that of Sir W. Hamilton, may be rather verbal than real. For the subsequent remarks of the former are such as might be fully accepted by the most uncompromising adherent of the latter. “The mind seeks in vain to embrace the infinite in a positive image, but is constrained to believe, when its efforts fail, that there is a something to which no limits can be put.” All that need practically be contended for by the supporters 281 of the negative theory is, first, that this inability to assign limits indicates directly only an indefiniteness in our manner of thinking, but not necessarily an infinity in the object about which we think; and, secondly, that our indirect belief in the infinite, whether referred to an impotence or to a power of mind, is not of such a character that we can deduce from it any logical consequences available in philosophy or in theology. The sober and reverent tone of religious thought which characterizes Dr. McCosh’s writings, warrants the belief that he would not himself repudiate these conclusions.
Note XII., p. 100.
For the antagonist theories of a beginning of time itself, and of an eternal succession in them, see Plato, Timæus, p. 37, 38, and Aristotle, Phys. VIII. 1. The two theories are ably contrasted in Prof. Butler’s Lectures on the History of Ancient Philosophy, vol. II. p. 185 sqq. Plato does not appear to regard the beginning of time as the beginning of material existence, but only of the sensible phenomena of matter. The insensible substratum of the phenomena seems to have been regarded by him as coeternal with the Deity.163163 See Timæus, p 49-53. Plato’s opinion however has been variously represented. For some account of the controversies on this point, see Mosheim’s Dissertation, De Creatione ex Nilhilo, translated in Harrison’s edition of Cudworth, vol. III. p. 140; Brucker, Historia Philosophiæ, vol. p. 676. Compare also Professor Thompson’s note, in Butler’s Lectures on the History of Ancient Philosophy, vol. II. p. 189. It has been conjectured, indeed, that to this matter was attributed a perpetual existence in successive duration, as distinguished from the existence of the Deity, in a manner devoid of all succession.164164 See Mosheim’s Note in Harrison’s Cudworth, vol. II. p. 551. This hypothesis perhaps relieves the theory from the apparent paradox of an existence before time (before being itself a temporal relation), but it cannot be easily reconciled with the language of Plato; and moreover, it only avoids one paradox by the introduction of another,—that of a state of existence out of time contemporaneous with one in time.
Note XIII., p. 100.
In Joann. Evang. Tract. XXXVIII. 10. “Discuss the changes of things, and you will find a past and a future; think of God, and you will find a present, in which neither past nor future is possible.”—Compare Confess. XI. c. ii.; Enarr. in Ps. II. 7; De Civ. Dei, XI. 21. See also Cudworth, vol. II. p. 529, ed. Harrison; Herder, Gott, Werke, VIII. p. 139.282
Note XIV., p. 100.
De Consol. Philos. L. V. Pr. 6. “Eternity, therefore, is at once the entire and the perfect possession of interminable life.”
Note XV., p. 100.
Summa, P. I. Qu. X. Art. 1. “In this way, therefore, eternity is made klnown by two things. First, by this, that what is in eternity is interminable, i. e., without beginning and without end. Second by this, that eternity is without succession, existing at once in totality.”-Compare Plotinus, Enn. III. 1. viii. c. 2. . . . . . “Always having the whole present, but not this thing now, and then another, but all at once.”—Proclus Inst., Theol. c. 52. “All which is eternal exists at once in totality.” Several historical notices relating to this theory are given by Petavius, Theologica Dogmata, De Deo, 1. III. c. 4.
Note XVI., p. 101.
. . . . “Nor can eternity be defined by time, or have any relation to time.”—Spinoza, Ethica, P. V. Prop. 23. “Eternity, in the pure sense of the word, can be explained by no duration of time, even supposing we take this as endless (indefinite). Duration is an undetermined continuation of existence, which in every moment bears with it a measure of transientness, of the future as of the past.”—Herder, Gott (Werke, VIII. p. 140). “In so far as the I is eternal, it has no duration at all. For duration is thinkable only in relation to objects. We speak of an eternity [sempiternity] of duration (æviternitas) i. e. of an existence in all time, but eternity in the pure sense of the word (æternitas) is Being in no time.” Schelling, Vom Ich, § 15. Cognate to, or rather identical with, these speculations, is the theory advocated by Mr. Maurice (Theological Essays, p. 422 sqq.), “that eternity is not a lengthening out or continuation of time; that they are generically different.”
Note XVII., p. 101.
In the acute and decisive criticism of Schelling by Sir W. Hamilton, this objection is urged with great effect. “We cannot, at the same moment, be in the intellectual intuition and in common consciousness; we must therefore be able to connect them by an act of memory—of 283 recollection. But how can there be a remembrance of the Absolute and its Intuition? As out of time, and space, and relation, and difference, it is admitted that the Absolute cannot be construed to the understanding. But as remembrance is only possible under the conditions of the understanding, it is consequently impossible to remember anything anterior to the moment when we awaken into consciousness; and the clairvoyance of the Absolute, even granting its reality, is thus, after the crisis, as if it had never been.”—Discussions, p. 23.
Note XVIII., p. 101.
See Augustine, In Joann. Evang. Tract. XXXVIII. 10. “Think of God, you will find a present (an Is) in which the past and future cannot be. In order, therefore, that you also may be, transcend time. But who shall transcend time by his own powers? He will raise you to it, who said to the Father, “I will that they also be with me where I am.” This precept has found great favor with mystical theologians. Thus Eckart, in a sermon published among those of Tauler, says, “Nothing hinders the soul so much in its knowledge of God as time and place. Time and place are parts, and God is one; therefore, if our soul is to know God, it must know him above time and place.”165165 Life and Sermons of Dr John Tauler, translated by Susanna Winkworth, p. 190. And the author of the Theologia Germanica, c. 7: “If the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office towards outward things; that is, holding converse with time and its creatures; then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contemplation.”166166 Theologia Germanica, translated by Susanna Winkworth, p. 20. So too Swedenborg, in his Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence, § 48: “What is infinite in itself and eternal in itself is divine, can be seen, and yet cannot be seen by men: it can be seen by those who think of infinite not from space, and of eternal not from time; but cannot be seen by those who think of infinite and eternal from space and time.”167167 English translation, p. 27. In the same spirit sings Angelus Silesius:
The modern German mysticism is in this respect nowise behind the earlier. Schelling says of his intuition of the Absolute, “The pure self-284consciousness is an act which lies beyond all time, and posits all time.”169169 System des Transcendentalen Idealismus, p. 59 (Werke, III. p. 375). And again, “But since in the Absolute thinking is entirely one with the intuition, so will all things not merely as endless, by their conceptions, but eternal by their ideas, and without any relation, even of opposition, to time, and with absolute unity of potentiality and actuality, be expressed in it, as the highest unity of thought and intuition.”170170 Bruno, p. 58. Schleiermacher (Christliche Glaube, § 52) endeavors to find something analogous to the Divine Eternity, in the timeless existence of the personal self, as the permanent subject of successive modes of consciousness. The analogy, however, fails in two respects; first, because the permanent self cannot be contemplated apart from its successive modes, but is discerned only in relation to them; and, secondly, because, though not itself subject to the condition of succession, it is still in time under that of duration. Kant truly remarks on all such mystical efforts to transcend time: “All solely on this account, that men may at last rejoice over an eternal rest, which makes out their imagined happy end of all things; properly an idea, along with which their understanding is gone, and all thinking itself comes to an end.”171171 Das Ende aller Dinge (Werke, VII. p. 422).
Note XIX., p. 101.
This is directly admitted by Fichte, who says, in his earliest work, “How the infinite Mind may contemplate its existence and its attributes, we cannot know, without being the infinite Mind ourselves.”172172 Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung (Werke, V. p. 42). But of the two alternatives which this important admission offers, Fichte himself, in his subsequent writings, as well as his successors in philosophy, chose the wrong one. See above, Lecture I. Note 29.
Note XX., p. 102.
“Look into the dictionaries for the usage of the words Person, personality, etc., . . . . all say, that these words designate something peculiar or special under a certain appearance; a subordinate idea, which does not belong to the Infinite.”. . . . Herder, Gott (Werke, VIII. p. 199). “What then do you call personality and consciousness? that certainly which you have found in yourselves, which you have become acquainted with in yourselves, and have designated with this name. But the least attention 285 to your construction of this notion can teach you, that you absolutely do not and cannot have this thought without limitation andl finiteness.” Fichte, Ueber göttliche Weltregierung (Werke, V. p. 187). Schleiermacher, in like manner, in his second Discourse on Religion, offers a half apology for Pantheism, on the ground of the limitation implied in the notions of personality and consciousness.173173 Werke, I. pp. 269, 280. And Strauss remarks: “As persons, we know ourselves only in distinction from other persons of the same kind, from whom we distinguish ourselves, and of course, too, as finite; it appears, consequently, that the notion of personality loses all significance beyond this province of the finite, and that a being, who has no other besides himself of his own kind, cannot be a person at all.”—Christliche Glaubenslehre, I. p. 504.
Note XXI., p. 103.
De Trinitate, XV. c. 5. “Therefore if we say, eternal, immortal, incorruptible, wise, powerful, just, good, happy, spirit; of all these, the last only seems to be significant of substance, but the others qualities of this substance; but not so is it in that ineffable and simple nature. For what there seems to be said of qualities must be understood of substance or essence. For God is far from being called Spirit as to substance, and good as to quality; but both of these as to substance . . . . although in God justice is one with goodness, with happiness, and the being Spirit is one with being just and good and happy.”—lbid. VI. c. 4. Compare Aquinas, Summa, P. I. Qu. XL. Art. I: . . . . “Because the divine simplicity excludes the composition of form and matter, it follows, that in divine things, the abstract and the concrete is one with the Deity and God. And because the divine simplicity excludes the composition of subject and accident, it follows that the attributes of God are one with his essential being; and therefore wisdom and virtue are identical in God, because both are in the divine essence.” See also above, Lecture II. Note 27.
Note XXII., p. 103.
Plotinus, Enn. VII. 1. ix. c. 6. “Whatever may be said to be wanting, is wantilmg in “the Well” (i. e., in perfectness of condition); . . . . so that oodness, so that will, is not predicable of the One; for the One transcends goodness; . . . . nor intelligence . . nor motion, for it is prior to intelligence, to motion.” . . . . Spinoza, Eth. P. I. Prop. 17. Schol. “If intelligence belongs to the divine nature, it cannot be, as our intelligence, 286 posterior to or coëxistent with the objects of intelligence, since God is in causality prior to all things; but on the contrary reality and the formal essence of things is on that account such, because as such it exists objectively in the Divine Mind. . . . . Since, therefore, the Divine Intelligence is the one and the only cause of things, indeed (as we have shown) as much of their essence as of their existence, He Himself ought necessarily to differ from them as much in respect to essence as to existence. . . . . And yet the Intelligence of God is the cause both of the essence and of the existence of our intelligence; therefore the Intelligence of God, so far as it is conceived to constitute the divine essence, differs from our intelligence, in respect alike to essence and to existence.” . . . . Compare P. I. Prop. 32. Cor. 1, 2, and P. II. Prop. ii. Cor., where Spinoza maintains that God is not conscious in so far as he is infinite, but becomes conscious in man;—a conclusion identical with that of the extreme Hegelian school, and, indeed, substantially the same with that of Hegel himself. See above, Lecture I, notes 29, 32.
Note XXIII., p. 104.
Ansem, Monolog. c. 66. “Without doubt, in all investigations into the essential being of the Creator, the deeper knowledge is reached, the greater the likeness to Him of the created thing, by which the investigation is made. . . . . Manifestly, therefore, as the rational mind alone among all created things can rise to the investigation of this essential being, this alone can avail to the discovery of it.” Compare Aquinas, Summa, P. I. Qu. XXIX. Art. 3. “Person signifies that which is most perfect in all nature, or a subsistence in a rational nature. Hence, since all which belongs to perfection, must be attributed to God because his essence contains in itself all perfection,—it is fitting that this name person, be used of God, yet not in the same way in which it is used of creatures, but in a more excellent way; just as other names are ascribed to God, which are put by us upon created beings.” And Jacobi, at the conclusion of an eloquent denunciation of the Pantheism of his own day, truly observes, “A being without self-being is entirely and universally impossible. But a self-being without consciousness, and again a consciousness without self-consciousness, without substantiality and at least an implied personality, is just as impossible; the one as well as the other is but empty words. And so God is not in being, He is, in the highest sense, the Not-being, if He is not a Spirit; and He is not a Spirit, if he is wanting in the fundamental quality of Spirit, self-consciousness, substantiality and personality.”174174 Ueber eine Weissagung Lichtenberg’s (Werke, III. p. 240). Compare also the Preface to Vol. IV. p. xlv. In the same 287 spirit, and with a just recognition of the limits of human thought, M. Bartholmèss says, “He who refuses to take some traits of resemblance from the moral part of the world will be forced to take them from the physical part, the mathematical, the logical; he will make God after the image of the material world,—after the image of a geometrical magnitude or arithmetical,—after the image of a logical abstraction. Always, in lifting himself to the Creator, he will rest upon some part or other of the creation.”175175 Histoire des doctrines religieuses de la Philosophie Moderne, Introduction, p. xli. To the same effect, a distinguished living writer of our own country observes, “The worshipper carried through the long avenues of columns and statues, and the splendid halls of the ancient temple of Egyptian Thebes, was not conducted at last to a more miserable termination, when in the inner shrine he found one of the lower animals, than the follower of a modern philosopher, when conducted through processes, laws, and developments, to a divinity who has less of separate sensation, consciousness, and life, than the very brutes which Egypt declared to be its gods.”176176 McCosh, Method of the Divine Government p. 461 (4th edition).
Note XXIV., p. 104.
Pensées, P. I. Art. IV. § 6. In like manner, in another passage, Pascal says, “All bodies, the firmament, the stars, the earth, kingdoms,—are not equal to the most insignificant spirit; for such a spirit knows all these, and itself; but the body, nothing.”177177 Pensées P. II. Art X. § 1.
The following spirited translation of Jacobi178178 Von den göttlichen Dingen (Werke, III. p. 425). is from the pen of Sir W. Hamilton, and occurs in the second of his Lectures on Metaphysics, just published. The entire Lecture from which it is taken constitutes a forcible and admirably illustrated argument to the same effect. “Nature conceals God: for through her whole domain Nature reveals only fate, only an indissoluble chain of mere efficient causes without beginning and without end, excluding, with equal necessity, both providence and chance. An independent agency, a free original commencement, within her sphere and proceeding from her powers, is absolutely impossible. Working without will, she takes counsel neither of the good nor of the beautiful; creating nothing, she casts off from her dark abyss only eternal transformations of herself, unconsciously and without an end; furthering with the same ceaseless industry decline and increase, death and life,—never producing what alone is of God and what supposes liberty,—the virtuous, the immortal. Man reveals God: for Man by his intelligence rises above nature, and in virtue of this intelligence is conscious of himself, as a 288 power not only independent of, but opposed to, nature, and capable of resisting, conquering, and controlling her. As man has a living faith in this power, superior to nature, which dwells in him, so has he a belief in God; a feeling, an experience of his existence. As he does not believe in this power, so does he not believe in God: he sees, he experiences naught in existence but nature,—necessity,—fate.”—Hamilton’s Lectures on Metaphysics, Am. Edition, p. 29.
Note XXV., p. 105.
Descartes, Discours de la Méthode, P. IV., Principia, P. I. § 7. That the Cartesian cogito, ergo sum, is not intended as a syllogism, in which thought and existence are two distinct attributes, but as a statement of the fact, that personal existence consists in consciousness, has been sufficiently shown by M. Cousin, in his Essay “Sur le vrai sens du cogito, ergo sum.” The same view has been well stated by Mr. Veitch, in the introduction to his translation of the Discours de la Méthode, p. xxii. M. Bartholmèss (Histoire des doctrines religieuses, I. p. 23) happily renders ergo by c’est-à-dire. It must be remembered, however, that the cogito of Descartes is not designed to express the phenomena of reflection alone, but is coëxtensive with the entire consciousness. This is expressly affirmed in the Principia, P. I. § 9. “By the word cogitatio I understand all the objects of our consciousness. And so not only to understand, to will, to imagine, but also to perceive,—all are meant by cogitare.” The dictum, thus extended, may perhaps be advantageously modified by disengaging the essential from the accidental features of consciousness; but its main principle remains unshaken; namely, that our conception of real existence, as distinguished from appearance, is derived from, and depends upon, the distinction between the one conscious subject and the several objects of which he is conscious. The rejection of consciousness, as the primary constituent of substantive existence, constitutes Spinoza’s point of departure from the principles of Descartes, and, at the same time, the fundamental error of his system. Spinoza in fact transfers the notion of substance, which is originally derived from the consciousness of personality, and has no positive significance out of that consciousness, to the absolute, which exists and is conceived by itself,—an object to whose existence consciousness bears no direct testimony, and whose conception involves a self-contradiction.
Note XXVI., p. 105.
“I am, that I am. This decisive utterance establishes all. Its echo in the human soul is the revelation of God in it. What makes man man, i. e., 289 makes him the image of God, is called Reason. This begins with the—I am. . . . . Reason without personality is non-entity, the like non-entity with that original cause,—which is All and not One, or One and None, the perfection of the imperfect, the absolutely Undetermined—called God by those who will have no knowledge of the true God, but yet shrink from denying Him—with the lips.”—Jacobi, Von den göttlichen Dingen (Werke, III. p. 418).
Note XXVII., p. 106.
For notices of Schelling’s philosophy in this respect, see Bartholmèss Histoire des doctrines religieuses, II. p. 116, and Willm, Histoire de la Philosophie Allemande, III. p. 318. “The school of Schelling,” says Mme de Stael, “supposes that the individual perishes in us, but that the inward qualities, which we possess, reënter into the grand whole of the eternal creation. This immortality has a terrible resemblance to death.”179179 De l’Allemagne, Partie III. ch. 7. Schelling’s views on this point are more completely developed by his disciple Blasche, in his Philosophische Unsterblichkeitlehre, especially §§ 18, 55, 56, 72. The tendency of Hegel’s teaching is in the same direction; the individual being with him only an imperfect and insignificant phase of the universal:180180 Phänomnenologie des Geistes, Vorrede (Werke, II. p. 22). and a personal immortality, though not openly denied, seems excluded by inference; an inference which his successors have not hesitated to make.181181 See Michelet, Geschichte der letzten Systeme der Philosophie, II. p. 638. Strauss, in his Christliche Glaubenslehre, § 106-110, gives an instructive account of some of the speculations of recent German writers on this question; his own commentary being not the least significant portion. “Thereby indeed,” he says “the Ego makes known its will to carry on to all eternity (i. e. not to take a step out from its own finiteness) not only its subjectivity in general, but the particular relations of this subjectivity.” And again: “Only the nature of the species is infinite and inexhaustible; that of the individual can be only finite.” His inquiry concludes with the well-known words, “The other world is, in all forms, the one foe, but in its form as the world to come, the last foe, which speculative criticism has to combat and if possible to overcome.” And Feuerbach, another “advanced” disciple of the Hegelian school, has written an essay on Death and Immortality, for the purpose of showing that a belief in personal annihilation is indispensable to sound morality and true religion; that the opposite belief is connected with all that is “satanic” and “bestial;” and that temporal death is but an image of God, the “great objective negation:” and has indicated significantly, in another work, the philosophical basis of his theory, by an aphorism the direct contradictory to that of Descartes, “Cogitans nemo sum. Cogito, ergo omnes sum homines.” Schleiermacher concludes his Second Discourse on Religion with these remarkable words: “The final aim of a religious life is not the immortality, which 290 many wish for and believe in, or only pretend to believe in . . . . not that beyond time or rather after this time, but yet in time, but the immortality, which we can have immediate in this temporal life,—and which is a problem in the solution of which we are ever employed. In the midst of the finite to be one with the infinite, and be eternal in every instant,—that is the immortality of religion.” And later, in his Christliche Glaube, § 158, while admitting that the belief in a personal immortality follows naturally from the doctrine of the twofold nature of Christ, he notwithstanding thinks it necessary to apologize for those who reject this belief on pantheistic principles: “For from this point of view, it may be alike maintained, on the one hand, that the consciousness of God makes up the essential nature of every life which in the higher sense is self-conscious or rational, on the other hand, however, that, while the Spirit in this productivity is essentially immortal, yet the individual soul is only a transient action of this productivity, and so is also essentially perishable. . . . . With such a renunciation of the continuation of personality, would a supremacy of the consciousness of God perfectly agree.” Mr. Atkinson, from the side of materialism, arrives at a similar conclusion: “What more noble and glorious than a calm and joyful indifference about self and the future, in merging the individual in the general good,—the general good in universal nature.”182182 Letters on the Laws of Man’s Nature and Development, p. 189. And M. Comte comes forward with his substitute of “subjective immortality,” i. e., being remembered by other people, as a far nobler and truer conception of a future life than that held by theologians.183183 Catéchisme Positiviste, p. 169. But the most systematic and thoroughgoing exponent of this philosophy is Schopenhauer. With him, the species is the exhibition in time of the idea or real being, of which the individual is but the finite and transient expression.184184 Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, II. p. 484, 487, 511. In the same sense in which the individual was generated from nothing, he returns to nothing by death.185185 Ibid., p. 482, 498. To desire a personal immortality is to desire to perpetuate an error to infinity; for individual existence is the error from which it should be the aim of life to extricate ourselves.186186 Ibid., p. 494. Judaism, which teaches a creation out of nothing, consistently asserts that death is annihilation; while Christianity has borrowed its belief in immortality from India, and inconsistently engrafted it on a Jewish stem.187187 Ibid., p. 489, 617. The true doctrine however is not to be found in these, but in the Indian Vedas, whose superior wisdom can only be ascribed to the fact, that their authors, 291 living nearer, in point of time, to the origin of the human race, comprehended more clearly and profoundly the true nature of things.188188 lbid., p. 487. As a relief from this desolating pantheism, it is refreshing to turn to the opposite language of Neander. “Man could not become conscious of God as his God, if he were not a personal spirit, divinely allied, and destined for eternity, an eternal object (as an individual) of God; and thereby far above all natural and perishable beings, whose perpetuity is that of the species, not the individual.189189 Life of Jesus Christ, p. 399. (Bohn’s edition.)
Note XXVIII., p. 106.
We have great reason to find fault with the strange manner of some men, who are ever vexing themselves with the discussion of ill-conceived matters. They seek for that which they know, and know not that for which they seek.”—Leibnitz, Nouveaux Essais, L. II. Ch. 21. § 14.
Note XXIX., p. 106.
See the acute criticism of the Kantian distinction between things and phenomena, by M. Willm, in his Histoire de la Philosophie Allemande, Vol. I. p. 177. “It is not necessary to admit, that what interposes between the objects and the reason alters and falsifies, so to say, the view of the objects; and it may be that the laws of the mind are at the same time the laws of things as they are. Hegel has justly said, that it were quite possible, that after having penetrated behind the scene, which is open before us, we should find nothing there; we may add, that it is possible, that this veil—which seems to cover the picture, and which we are striving to lift—may be the picture itself.” Kant unquestionably went too far, in asserting that things in themselves are not as they appear to our faculties: the utmost that his premises could warrant him in asserting is, that we cannot tell whether they are so or not. And even this degree of skepticism, though tenable as far as external objects are concerned, cannot legitimately be extended to the personal self. I exist as I am conscious of existing; and this conscious self is itself the Ding an sich, the standard by which all representations of personality must be judged, and from which our notion of reality, as distinguished from appearance, is originally derived. To this extent Jacobi’s criticism of Kant is just and decisive. “All our philosophizing is a struggle to get behind the form of the thing; i. e., to get to the thing itself; but how is this possible, since then we 292 must get behind ourselves, behind all nature,—things, behind their origin?”190190 Ueber das Unternehmen des Kriticismus, (Werke III. p. 176).
Note XXX., p. 108.
The Intellectual Intuition of Schelling has been noticed above. See notes 16, 17, 18, pp. 77 sqq. The method of Hegel, in its aim identical with that of Schelling, differs from it chiefly in making thought, instead of intuition, the instrument of reaching the Absolute. As Schelling assumes the possibility of an intuition superior to time and difference, so Hegel postulates the existence of a logical process emancipated from the laws of identity and contradiction. The Understanding and the Reason are placed in sharp antagonism to each other. The one is a faculty of finite thinking, subject to the ordinary laws of thought: the other is a faculty of infinite thinking, to which those laws are inapplicable. Hence the principles of Identity, of Contradiction, and of Excluded Middle are declared to be valid merely for the abstract understanding, from which reason is distinguished by the principle of the Identity of Contradictories.191191 See Logik, B. II. c. 2; Encyklopädie, § 28, 115, 119, Geschichte der Philosophie, Werke, XV. p. 598. See also his attempt to rescue speculative philosophy from the assaults of skepticism, Werke, XIV. p. 511, 512. He charges the skeptic with first making reason finite, in order to overthrow it by the principles of finite thought. The defence amounts to no more than this: “The laws of thought are against me; but I refuse to be bound by their authority.” But this assertion, indispensable as it is to Hegel’s system, involves more consequences than the author himself would be willing to admit. The important admission, that an infinite object of thought can only be apprehended by an infinite act of thinking, involves the conclusion, that the understanding and the reason have no common ground on which either can make itself intelligible to the other; for the very principles which to the one are a criterion of truth, are to the other an evidence of falsehood. Moreover, the philosophy which regards the union of contradictories as essential to the conceptions of the reason, is bound in consistency to extend the same condition to its judgments and deductions; for whatever is one-sided and partial in the analysis of a notion, must be equally so in those more complex forms of thought into which notions enter. The logic of the understanding must be banished entirely, or not at all. Hence the philosopher may neither defend his own system, nor refute his adversary, by arguments reducible to the ordinary logical forms; for these forms rest on the very laws of thought which the higher philosophy is supposed to repudiate. Hegel’s own polemic is thus self-condemned; 293 and his attempted refutation of the older metaphysicians, is a virtual acknowledgment of the validity of their fundamental principles. If the so-called infinite thinking is a process of thought at all, it must be a process entirely sui generis, isolated and unapproachable, as incapable as the intuition of Schelling of being expressed in ordinary language, or compared, even in antagonism, with the processes of ordinary reasoning. The very attempt to expound it thus, necessarily postulates its own failure.
But this great thinker has rendered one invaluable service to philosophy. He has shown clearly what are the only conditions under which a philosophy of the Absolute could be realized; and his attempt has done much to facilitate the conclusion, to which philosophy must finally come, that the Absolute is beyond the reach of human thought. If such a philosophy were possible at all, it would be in the form of the philosophy of Hegel. And Hegel’s failure points to one inevitable moral. All the above inconsistency and division of the human mind against itself, might be avoided by acknowledging the supreme authority of the laws of thought over all human speculation; and by recognizing the consequent distinction between positive and negative thinking,—between the lawful exercise of the reason within its own province, and its abortive efforts to pass beyond it. But such an acknowledgment amounts to a confession that thought and being are not identical, and that reason itself requires us to believe in truths that are beyond reason. And to this conclusion speculative philosophy itself leads us, if in no other way, at least by the wholesome warning of its own pretensions and failures.
Note XXXI., p. 108.
Tertullian, De Carne Christi, c. 5. “The Son of God was born; that awakens no shame, precisely because it is shameful; and the Son of God died; it is thoroughly credible, because it is absurd; He was buried and then rose again; it is certain, because it is impossible.”
Note XXXII., p. 110.
See above, Lecture II., Note 37.
Note XXXIII., p. 113.
Hooker, E. P. B. I. ch. ii. § 2. Compare the words of Jacobi, An Fichte (Werke, III., p. 7). “A God, who could be known, were no God at all.”294
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