parallel is upset. For the latter there is a reason, if not an
excuse. Aristotle's Koina happen to coincide in the main
with primary qualities. But the doctrine of the Qualities is
metaphysical with a psychological basis, whereas Aristotle's
distinction between common and particular 'sensibles' is
purely psychological. He has plenty of metaphysic, but this
special distinction was not made by him psychologically as
a basis for metaphysic as we make it, or rather as Reid and
Hamilton made it. But both these thinkers invariably
confused psychology with philosophy. Aristotle dimly sees
the force there is in the term Koina, but does not realise it
(as, e. g. in his allusion to touch and sight, Grote, p. 465 c.).
Since Berkeley we have denied that the distinction between
primary and secondary qualities is valid ; Protagoras saw
this too. Knowing what we do as to the coefficient of
muscular sense in sight and touch we say, as against
Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Aristotle, that the senses do
not as such give us ' common sensibles.' Aristotle's followers
themselves soon grew dissatisfied and imputed our appre-
hension of the Koina to intellect, or rational apprehension.
Apart from muscular sense, they cannot be psychologically
explained, and it was through neglecting this that the
Scottish school fell back on common sense, belief, law of
the conditioned and so forth.
Next ' we have Aristotle's doctrine of reason (vovs), with
the interpolated discussion of imagination or phantasy
1 Book III, chh. iii.-viii. These should not only be read but
worried at. Wallace's introduction is not very helpful.
xxi.] Elements of General Philosophy. 227
This, like perception, may be viewed either
subjectively or on its physiological side. Aristotle considers
both aspects, giving in the germ what in this century has been
developed by Professor Bain, who uses ' idea * for ' image.'
The subject is treated more fully in the treatise De Memoria,
where memory is distinguished as imagination with a definite
temporal reference (modern psychology can say little more),
and where there are suggestions of laws of association
contiguity, similarity and contrast. Now Aristotle only
notices association in connexion with reminiscence. This
is a defect. Under association we simply refer to certain
modes in the ' flow ' of our images, whereas reminiscence
is a complex intellectual function involving volition.
Why should there be so little here on imagination ?
Aristotle's whole doctrine of the psychology of representative
intellection is very undeveloped, inasmuch as his discussion
is rather epistemological than psychological, namely, on the
relation of thought to its object ; more, it is metaphysical or
ontological, involving reference to an outer sphere of real
being. And his metaphysic vitiates his psychology here
even more than in his doctrine of sense. He asks whether
images (fyavTuvpara) are true or false; these are matters of
opinion (Sd<), and opinion may be either. But this is not
psychology. It is only in the De Memoria that in this
connexion he is properly psychological.
Even there we find the assertion that nous comes into man
from without (Cvpafav). Aristotle could not in fact quite
overcome the Zeitgeist of his age and his environment. Nor
had he Plato's poetic mantle to throw around himself; he is
nothing if not literal and prosaic. Grote's discursus at
this stage (p. 480 et seq.), connecting the wwfr-doctrine with
Aristotle's physics and cosmogony is quite justified by that
228 Elements of General Philosophy. [LECT.
phrase ' from without.' Aristotle saw that knowledge was
a philosophical question, yet he has not treated of it in the
Metaphysics, where his theme is of ' being as being,' always
excepting the first book, with its discussion of the principles
of knowledge and their relation to sense. Yet here Aristotle
had no idea of working out a theory of know-ledge as
a necessary introduction to a theory of being. For us, as we
have seen (Lecture I), problems of being have since Kant
come to be considered as subject to problems of knowledge.
It is through the doctrine of knowledge that we approach
ontological questions. Many a modern thinker has raised
philosophical questions in his psychology, but Aristotle
so rode off on them as to neglect the psychology of the '
intellect. Yet he did not neglect to point out that reason
cannot work without images. Thought requires a basis
of representative imagination. This is all that he does for
the theory of thought as a mode of intellection.
Here note the remark in Grote (p. 484 and footnote e)
on Aristotle's ' Nominalism ' good in substance, though the
term is a misnomer, no reference having been made to
language in the De Anima. Aristotle only said that we
cannot conceive a general without a certain amount of
particulars. The Nominalist says that we cannot think
in general without the help of a name, that is, except by
means of language. This at least is Hobbes's Nominali;>m.
Berkeley's Nominalism holds that we cannot think without
a form, that is, without reference to the particular. Thus
Berkeley goes no farther than Aristotle. But there is no
Nominalism in the De Anima. To this extent it is defective,
that the relation of thought to language is passed over.
Yet Aristotle did see that the two are connected, are practi-
cally the same thing on different sides. This we see in
XXL] Elements of General Philosophy. 229
his Logic, where he always deals with judgments on the side
of language, and with reasoning as expressed in arguments.
And suggestions that he saw this are to be found up and
down in the De Am'ma, yet they are barely to be so called.
All is quite implicit.
If Aristotle had carefully worked out the psychological
doctrine of thought, and considered the psychological func-
tion of language, he would have seen many of the difficul-
ties of his nous (so far as they were psychological) disappear
without the need of reference to celestial bodies. For the
question of thought suggests that of the community of know-
ledge, and it is this that troubles him How is it that \ve all
come to think alike ? How have we a common consciousness ?
Imagination is of the individual consciousness, but that thought
is common consciousness (cf. Reid's ' Common Sense ') is
inevitably begctten by a consideration of the psychology of
thought. It is to explain this that he goes out to the Kosmos,
to theories of the heavenly spheres, to an Eternal Nous, \\ho
enters in and informs each of us, if not in full purity as with
God, yet so as, by acting on our imaginations, to emerge
in common consciousness. And all this to fill up the void
left by ignoring language as a social act, a bond holding
men together !
The relation of nous to mind or soul generally, and of nous
as active and passive, has forme 1 the battle-ground of Aristo-
telian commentators all along, opportunity being given by
Aristotle's obscurities and deficiencies. For instance, while
Grote very decisively negatives the view that Aristotle pre-
dicated immortality of the individual intellect, the mediaeval
commentators argue with equal decision for the opposite con-
clusion. I think that he is too positive as to what Aristotle's
utterances may be held to warrant. Again, Grote speaks very
230 Elements of General Philosophy.
clearly on the contrast between reason as active and reason as
passive (vovs iroirjTiKos, vovy iraQ^nitos, De. An. Ill, v). Wallace,
too, among the liberties he now and then takes in text and
translation, applies the former adjective to noils in his index.
Yet nowhere does Aristotle himself call nous active (iroirjTiKos) ;
he only suggests the term.
I hold that Aristotle was staggering on this doubtful ground,
and that commentators have rushed in to wrangle where he
feared to tread.
Once more, if Aristotle compared mind at birth to a blank
writing tablet, he meant only that the nous was not a fixed
body of innate principles, but something potential, which could
grow and develop.
NOTE. I much regret that no notes are forthcoming on Aristotle's
theory of conation (Book III, chh. ix-xi), with which the lecturer
had announced the intention of dealing at the end of the course. For
further discussion on emotion students were referred to Aristotle's
Rhefon'cand Ethics. ED.
ON THE METHOD OF DESCARTES 1 .
READING. (Euvres de Descartes, ed. Jules Simon, 1844. ' Discours sur
la Methode.' (Euvres choisies de De c.trtes, ed. Gamier. 1876.
' Discours de la Methode;' 'Regies pour la Direction de 1'Esprit.'
The Method, Meditation?, and Selections from the Principles of
Descartes, ed. J. Veitch, 1879. 'Discourse on Method.'
SUCH is the importance of Descartes in the history of
modern philosophy that it behoves us to enter in some detail
into the development of his thought. He, if any one, lets
us know especially in the Discourse on Method and the
Meditations what were the most imimate workings of his
thought, what he started from, what he came to, and what
he was aiming at. We must first see that we keep in mind
the circumstances of his life.
Born 1596, of a noble family in, though not of, Touraine,
Rend des Cartes went at eight years of age, a lad weakly
in constitution but precocious, to the new and famous
Jesuit school of La Fleche, the Jesuits having returned to
France after the conversion of Henry IV. From the first
the Jesuits have sought to a. tract men of the world to the
Church by accommodating the Church to the world, chiefly
by giving a highly efficient secular education to the young.
They have always been well versed in the best thought of
1 From lectures delivered April to June, 1880.
232 Elements of General Philosophy. [LECT.
the country, and have bent that knowledge to the interests of
the Church ; but at the same time they have ever upheld and
still uphold the Scholastic philosophy, especially as taught
by Aquinas. Descartes' subsequent strictures on education
did not include any reflexion on his own teachers, with whom
he ever remained on friendly terms. Trained thoroughly
in Scholastic traditions, he was also made proficient in
mathematics. This had been neglected by the Schoolmen,
but had revived at the Renaissance, when the work both
of Euclid and of the Arabs (algebra) came to be known.
Bacon, who during Descartes' early youth was deep in
politics, and in the publication of the Advancement of
Learning and the Novum Organon, was almost absolutely '
ignorant of mathematics, and had no notion of its use in the
study of nature. His Inductive Method has no place for
it, and hence he does not properly head the modern scientific
movement. To the extent that mathematics has rendered
the latter possible, Descartes is the pioneer. Wolsey's
chair of mathematics at Oxford was suspended after his
fall for a century. Hobbes while at Oxford (1603-8)
remained utterly ignorant of mathematics, and was over forty
when he first saw a copy of Euclid's Elements, whereas
Descartes was, like Pascal (his junior by twenty-seven years),
a mathematical discoverer in his early youth.
Till he was twenty-three he studied mathematics, either ex-
clusively and in seclusion, or in the intervals of military life.
It was when he was serving under Tilly, at the opening of
the Thirty Years' War, and was working still at mathematics
in winter-quarters at Neuburg, that the crisis of his philosophic
life occurred. He had been comparing the certainty of his
mathematical results with the doubtfulness of all other know-
ledge, and this brought him to a state of despair. Tempted
xxii.] Elements of General Philosophy. 233
to resort anywhere for light, he turned to magic ; then to
inspiration from prayer, vowing a pilgrimage to Loretto if he
could find peace of mind. Then came the day of seclusion,
'enferme' seul dans un poele' (read the Discours, Part II).
Mathematics, he saw, led to conclusions positively true.
Could he not, by applying the method of mathematics to
knowledge generally, get truth in other subjects as well ?
After two more years of service and four of travel (in-
cluding the pilgrimage), studying, as he said, the book of the
world, he returned in 1625 to Paris, feeling that, if he had
not yet got certainty, at least he had got on to the right track.
There he alternately moved in scientific circles (no other
city had a mathematical circle), and disappeared for months
together. He would reappear ever riper in thought, and
finally created great expectations among his friends. At
length, after his return from studying siege-appliances at the
siege of La Rochelle, 1628, he created a sensation at the
house of Cardinal De Bagne", where he exposed the fallacies
of Chandoux, a pretender to new science, by showing how
it was possible, by using the current arguments of the day,
to disprove anything claiming to be established truth, and to
prove true anything apparently false. Cardinal Be'rulle
thereupon advised him to set forth a constructive philosophy.
He may at this time have written the Regies (Regulce ad
directionem ingenii), but however that may be, he now re-
moved to Holland, where society was quiet and liberal, and
there he lived, off and on, for twenty years (1629-49),
changing his residence twenty-four times, visiting England,
Denmark and France, and finally returning to France. During
that time all his chief works were written.
The publication of the Discours de la Me'thode in 1637 at
once attracted friends and foes. The Mtdiiationes de Prhna
234 Elements of General Philosophy. [LE-JT.
Philosophia followed in 1641, the Principia Philosophies in
1644. The efforts of Dutch theologians to get him
denounced and expelled, emanating from Utrecht and
Leyden, kept him perpetually unsettled, and much con-
troversial writing was drawn from him. He was invited to
return to France, but neither there was it possible to live
quietly, society being unsettled through the Fronde. Hence
he accepted the invitation of Queen Christina of Sweden,
a girl full of intellectual eagerness and his pupil already by
correspondence, and went to Stockholm, 1649. To have to
come to the palace to give instruction at five a.m. in the depth
of winter affected his lungs and killed him, February n,
The three works last mentioned and Les Passions de
I' A me, published just after his death, are those in which
Descartes is most commonly studied. But much that we
know of him is derived from his Letters edited by Clerselier
(1665-7). Other works, e. g. the Regies, and the Recherche de
la Ve'rite' par la Lumiere nalurelle, were not published till 1701.
After his death his MSS. were sent to Paris, but fell into
the Seine, lay there three days, and were carelessly dried, so
that there are flaws. The Recherche, though crude and
incomplete, really gives the best exposition of his system as
a method. Internal evidence shows it must have been
written not later than 1629. The Method advocates the
importance of acquiring a certain way of thinking before
any philosophically valid results can be arrived at. With it,
as a collection of Philosophical Essays, he published three
applications of his method : Dioptrica (on refraction, giving
also a good account of sense), Meteora, and Geometria, the
last setting out his special method as got from, rather than
applied to, mathematics. Modern analytical geometry dates
xxil.] Elements of General Philosophy. 235
from this work. In the Method he hints at a greater work
he was keeping back. He apparently thought it best to
publish not a philosophy of mind, but a doctrine of nature,
which was really the outcome of that philosophy. This
standpoint marks him off from Galileo and Newton, who
investigated on lines of positive science without having regard
to mind. Accordingly, in 1630, he set himself to write the
treatise Le Monde, ou Traite de la Lumiere, at the end of
w'.Jch he brings in the philosophic principles which had
been all along in his mind. This work, which was finished
in 1633, he was about to publish, when Galileo was put on
his trial before the Holy Inquisition on account of his
Dialogue on the motion of the earth. The Copernican
theory had not even then been accepted by the Church,
although certain popes had been disposed in its favour.
Galileo dared to expound it, but only as the hypothesis that
best fitted the facts. Descartes had done the same in Le
Monde, but as timid by nature, a sincere Catholic, and above
all things preferring an undisturbed life to fame, he suppressed
the work. What was later on published under this title was
simply a section of the original work. The gist of the latter
was actually given in the Principia, with the modified view
that not the earth, but the medium in which the earth is,
moves round the sun (Cf. infra p. 261). By 1637 his fears
and scruples had given way, and in the Method, written in
French, he refers to his Monde.
The Meditations, ' where are demonstrated the existence
of God and the distinction of soul from body,' written
in Latin, and appealing to the learned, were published in
1641-1642, together with the objections raised by certain
critics who had read them in IMS. The most important of
these were Hobbes, Gassendi and Arnauld, the two foimer
236 Elements of General Philosophy. [LECT.
advancing Epicureanism and Sensationalism of a crude
Descartes after this took courage and set forth his whole
philosophy in the Principia, in dogmatic form and not
analytically as in the Meditations. The Passions, a psycho-
physiological study of the relations of body to mind, was
written in 1646 for his pupil Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia,
grand-daughter of our James I.
An important minor work, entitled Remarks by Descartes
on a Certain Placard printed in the Netherlands, was written
in 1647 in opposition to the view of his ardent admirer
Regius, or Leroy, a Utrecht professor, who had, professedly
from the Cartesian point of view, transformed Dualism into
something very like later Materialism, speaking of body as
having two modes, thought and extension, and of knowledge
as due to our sense-experience of body acting on body.
The Remarks set out more clearly than elsewhere Descartes'
view as to the relation between reason, innate ideas and
experience. If elsewhere he is crude, here he is circumspect,
agreeing with what Leibniz said later on of predispositions
The Recherche adds nothing new, but shows him as
having so mastered his philosophy that he undertakes to
make it plain in dialogue to any intellect.
To understand how Descartes came to philosophise, let
us begin with his doctrine of method as set out expressly,
not in the Method, though in the four rules there given we
have the sum and substance of it, but in the Regies 1 .
His first point is that philosophy is methodic thinking as
1 The Regies is incomplete, unfinished, tortuous and not clear ;
probably Descartes was striving to work his method out fully. Study
especially Rule XII.
xxii.] Elements of General Philosophy. 237
opposed to thinking received on authority or through custom,
and is free from all trace of doubt. Erudition, conversance
with opinions and facts, is not knowledge. True knowledge
must have been individually thought over. Here he opposes
both Scholasticism and the Renaissance. The philosopher's
business is to arrive at all knowledge, for knowledge is one ;
until you know all you do not know at all. This was his
attack on specialists. It is the business of philosophers to
keep all knowledge together. This is harder now than then,
yet there is now more need than ever to do so. Descartes,
however, did not by universal science mean knowledge of
everything, but that the way of arriving at truth, the method
of discovery, is the same for att things. That is to say, you
may be a specialist on the condition that you have had
a philosophic training. A specialist should know something
of the way of knowing truth generally.
All knowledge, he held, must begin with what can be
clearly thought through and through. True knowledge he
contrasts with vague opinion. We are now less inclined
than Descartes to look askance at the probable. Descartes'
certainty is found to be not so certain. There is even
mathematical knowledge that is only probable. Nevertheless
there is a great difference between what is well known
and what is badly known. The opposition between truth and
opinion does not lose its value, even when we are not so
certain on some questions as he was.
To continue: In order to arrive at perfect knowledge,
at universal science, we must start from the simplest truths,
from those we can most ' clearly ' apprehend, namely, from
intuitions, and proceed by synthesis to more complex ideas.
If other relatively complex cognitions become as clear
as those intuitions, we have then arrived at truth by
238 Elements of General Philosophy. [LECT.
deduction. But deduction, applied in any complex case, must
begin with an enumeration or induction of all the points
entering into the question to be set out of all the conditions
on which the solution depends. Thus the deductive act
proper consists in passing progressively from condition to
conditioned, and, if the way is long and the steps are many,
in passing repeatedly up and down the same until all the
elements are mastered, and the last and most complex, with
all that it depends on, stands out with the same evidence
as the first. The first conditions which are themselves not
conditioned, and involve no conclusion, must have an im-
mediate certainty and be intuitions, that is, directly known.
For intuition, to start with, -and deduction, as the way, are
all that the human mind has to go upon for certainty. This
is most plainly put in Regie V.
What we have to know indirectly we can know as certainty,
as intuition, if we practise deduction in this way. And the
method applies not only to all special questions, but also to
problems of general knowledge. Descartes was a methodo-
logist, but he had a philosophy to produce as well. To
do this it seemed to him equally essential to go back to
fundamental intuitions having reference to the fact of in-
telligence ; indeed all knowledge of special questions comes
for him to depend upon his philosophical proof of the
possibility of knowledge generally. He insists in the Regies
on the question of knowledge itself as preliminary to any
solution of special questions of science 1 . He there strikes
the note of the philosopher and not of the methodologist.
We must know what the human mind can settle before we
go in for any special study. The passages might have
been written by Kant and may be compared with Locke's
1 Cf. Regies I and VIII.
xxii.] Elements of General Philosophy. 239
Introduction to his Essay. But of such we find no trace
The student may find Descartes' usage of the terms Deduc-
tion and Induction puzzling. He seems to waver in his
choice and render satisfactory explanation by means of them
impossible by employing them interchangeably, and in other
senses than those of logic. According to his view of know-
ledge, there are some things we are sure of directly, or can
by attention be brought to see that we really are sure of
directly. These intuitions may assume the form of pro-
positions, and as such they become useful in philosophy or
science. In them our knowledge is reduced to its simplest
terms, and we see between the terms of such propositions
a necessary connexion. For example, ' body must be ex-
tended.' Whether the necessity be analytic or synthetic, he
did not, like Kant, proceed to inquire.
Of other things we are not sure directly, but can become
sure of by a process of thought connecting them with what
we are directly sure of. And this process of becoming sure
is what he calls deduction, or sometimes, when the steps
are few, intuition *. But he would never have called a deduc-
tion an intuition if it were founded upon an induction or
enumeration of conditions.
Now deduction, he declared, was a process that the
commonest minds can perform. All men have direct in-
tuition of some things, and cannot help having it; the final
result of a deduction is also easily seen ; thus logicians are
unnecessary. Why then did he lay so much stress on
method, and even on preliminary investigation ? And what
did he mean by contemning the old logic, a view shared
for that matter by all the advancing minds of his time?
1 Cf. Regie XL
240 Elements of General Philosophy. [LECT.
Descartes never completed his method. He broke down