Luther A Fox.

Evidence of a future life : from reason and revelation online

. (page 17 of 19)
Online LibraryLuther A FoxEvidence of a future life : from reason and revelation → online text (page 17 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


found among the members of it, but also the most
original thinker since Aristotle. He taught an
ideal pantheism to which the philosophy of Schel-
ling bears a marked resemblance. The One sends
forth an image of itself The image turns to its
source and becomes nous. The nous produces
soul. The soul being only an image, it is neces-
sarily inferior to the nous. The soul turns towards
the nous, as the nous turned toward the One, and
it also turns to matter, which it produces. The
soul has a divisible and also an indivisible element.
It is not corporeal; nor is it the harmony or entel-
echy of the body, because the nous, memory, per-
ception and mental force, are all separable from the
body. The soul is immaterial, but permeates the
body as fire does the air. It may be said that the
body is the soul, rather than that the soul is the
body. There are activities of the soul to which
the body is not necessary. The soul is entirely in
the whole body and entirely in every part of it.
There are two kinds of faculties in the soul ; reason
and sensibility. The former is allied to the nous,
the latter to the body.

Porphyry doubted apparitions, but believed in
the separate existence of the soul. The mind has



324 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

within itself the reasons for all things, and for this
reason can operate on the senses even without the
exciting external causes. The end of philosophy
is the salvation of the soul.

Proclus distinguished five orders of faculties in
the mind. The second order manifests the soul's
connection with the body, but reveals also its own
individuality. The fifth relates to the highest
truths, and gradually assimilates our nature to the
Divine Being. By nature the soul is divine.
Midway between the sensuous and the divine
order of faculties there is freedom, and the soul is
responsible for its actions.

lamblichus departed so far from the principles
of his school as to be set down as the founder of
another. He fell into superstition, and defined
with considerable minuteness the various classes of
angels and demons. There is an intellectual and
sensible world, but the sensible is the shadow of
the intellectual.

Boethius, in the spirit of the Platonic philosophy,
wrote a treatise on Consolation. With him the
school ends.

Early in the Christian era there was a class of
philosophers known as Gnostics. In religion they
were eclectics, but they incorporated enough of



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 325

Christianity into their system to be regarded by
the Church as heretical Christians. Many of them
were esteemed in their own day as men of great
ability and learning. Gnosticism was an earnest
effort to solve the problems of the w^orld. It was
imaginative at the expense of the philosophic.
The greatest names among them were Valentinian,
Basilides, Bardasanus, and Marcion. There were
a number of sects, but they were agreed as to the
two-fold element in the soul, and the importance
of the intellectual over the sensitive soul.
• The Christian Fathers are usually regarded as
mere theologians, but most of them had philo-
sophic training, and some of them were eminent
as philosophers. Every history of philosophy
gives them prominent places. Some of them ob-
tained recognition from the most distinguished
philosophers of their own times.

Justin Martyr studied the doctrines of the lead-
ing philosophical schools before he became a Chris-
tian. He wrote a book on the nature of the soul.
He had a materialistic view of its nature and de-
nied its natural immortality, but believed that God
had conferred endless life upon it as a gift, and that
future rewards and punishments are to be eternal.
Tatian, the disciple of Justin, but influenced by



326 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

Gnosticism, thought that there are two souls, the
one subject to matter and the other an emanation
from God. The inferior is full of darkness, the
superior is the image of God. Irenseus denied the
preexistence and transmigration of souls. Ter-
tullian taught traducianism, and regarded every
soul as a branch of Adam's soul. He supposed the
soul to be material, but of the most refined nature.
If it were not material it would not be capable of
suffering, nor its activity be dependent upon the
condition of the body. Origen taught the pre-
existence of souls and the freedom of the will.
Arnobius denied the natural immortality of the
soul, but held that the Epicurean notion of the
future life is also false. The soul is neither ma-
terial nor divine. lyactantius agreed with him in
denying the conclusiveness of the arguments of
Plato for immortality, and based a proof upon the
idea of justice. Without immortality virtue would
not be adequately rewarded.

Augustine is not only the greatest theologain,
but also the greatest philosopher of his age. He
taught that the soul is not an attribute of the body,
but a separate substance. It is not material, for it
has thought, remembrance and will, and is without
any material quality. It feels sensations in every



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 327

part of the body, and therefore is in every part,
and in this is unlike corporeal substances, which
are only in one place at one time. The faculties
are not like qualities of matter, for they are not
confined in extent to the mental substratum. It is
immortal, because it knows eternal truth. It is
placed in a body for discipline. Its superiority to
the body is seen in the life, movement and sensa-
tion which the body obtains from it. It is invisi-
ble, incorporeal, spiritual. He further argued this
from the nature of memory. Its life is an essential
part of its nature. Its future existence is attested
by its longing after immortal happiness.

Claudius Mamertus replied to Faustus, a Bishop
in Gaul, who taught that the soul is a thin air.
Mamertus argued the immateriality of the soul from
the image of God, from the illocality of it, from
the want of quantity, from the fact that it is not
contained in the body and from its faculty of rea-
soning. Gregory of Nyssa taught that the soul
originated simultaneously with the body, is present
in every part of it, but survives it, and after death
is an existence independent of space. He believed
that there are three parts : sensitive, vegetable and
intellectual life.

While these Church Fathers differed somewhat



328 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

as to the nature of the soul, a few holding that it
is a material substance, yet there is perfect unani-
mity in believing that it is an existence distinct
from the body and exists in another state. During
all that period there is not one voice of any im-
portance whatever against its immortality.

In the ninth century Scholasticism arose, ruled
for a number of centuries, and continued until
after the Reformation. It was a peculiar form of
philosophizing, but it rendered the philosophic
world eminent service. During the earlier period
Plato's influence preponderated, but subsequently
gave way to that of Aristotle. The authority of
the Roman Church set limits to their speculations,
and these great and acute minds were kept at the
analysis of admitted principles until they descended
often to puerilities, John Scotus Krigena was
the first of the schoolmen. He was a pantheist.
His philosophy led to a denial of the personal im-
mortality of man, yet he did not announce that
.conclusion.

There was a large number of eminent men
among the schoolmen : Roscellinus, William of
Champeaux, Gerbert, Lanfranc, Anselm, Abelard,
Bernard, Walter of Montaigne, Peter Lombard,
John of Salisbury, Alanus, Amalrich, William of



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BEUEF. 329

Aiivergne, Robert Greatliead, John Fidanza, Al-
bert Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus,
Roger Bacon, William Occam, Peter D'Ailly,
John Gerson, Eckhart, Groot, John Wessel, and
others. During this same period were the Arabian
philosophers, Alfarabi, Avicenna, Averroes and
Algazel. Only a few of these were pantheistic.
All the others were agreed as to the immaterial
nature of the soul and its future existence. The
opinions of only a few can be quoted.

William of Auvergne said that the soul exists
independently of the body. It needs the body as
the instrument of sensual functions. It is related
to the body as the cithern player is to his cithern.

Albert Magnus held that the active intellect is
part of the soul, and is that principle in each man
which gives form and individuality. The think-
ing and form-giving principle has vegetative, sen-
sitive, appetitive and motive faculties, and these
are separable from the body. It is heir to immor-
tality because of its affinity with God.

Aquinas maintained that the soul is not material,
because it is the source of life in living beings, and
because it knows the nature of all kinds of matter.
It is an independent existence, because the intellec-
tual principle works by itself without connection



330 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

with the body. He asserted its immortality from
its immateriality, and also from its longing after
immortality — a longing arising from the power of
abstracting from every limitation of the present.
Immortality is common to all the mental powers,
because they belong to the same substance. The
lower powers depend upon the sense for activity,
but not for existence. The souls of animals, which
are forms inhering in matter, perish with their
bodies. He rejected the doctrine of the preexist-
ence of souls. The soul as the form-giving prin-
ciple makes a new body after death similar to the
one now possessed.

Occam's argument for the separate existence of
the mind was based on the antagonism between
science and reason, which could not exist in the
same substance.

Scholasticism at length began to decline. The
disputes between Nominalists and Realists, kept
up for so many years, had weakened confidence in
it. The expansion of mind resulting from the
Crusades, the fall of Constantinople, the invention
of printing, the discovery of the New World, the
revival of letters, and the development of natural
science, made thinking men dissatisfied with the
methods so long employed. The trammels became



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 33 1

Oppressive, and the rising spirit of freedom re-
belled. Attacks were made upon the Scholastics
both in the interest of religion and of philosophy.
Bessarion, Pletho, Hermolaus Barbaras, Angelas
Politianus, Mirandola, Valla, Agricola, Erasmus,
Vives, and Hutten, were direct or indirect assail-
ants. The old schools under various modifications
were revived. Cusanus, a Cardinal, was an eclec-
tic, combining Platonic, Pythagorean, skeptical
and mystical principles. Ficinus and Mirandola
were Platonists. Reuchlin was a Cabbalist.
Agrippa combined Cabbalism with skepticism.
Pomponatius was an Aristotelian. He asserted that
there is no certain natural proof of immortality,
but believed it on the ground of religion. Vernias,
his predecessor at Padua, had taught Averroistic
pantheism, but in his old age was converted to the
belief in personal immortality. J. C. Scaliger,
Vanini, a martyr, and Niphus, were also Peripa-
tetics. Stoicism was advocated by Lipsius and
Thomas Gataker. Bpicurean physics was taught
by Gassendi, who has been called the renewer of
systematic materialism. Telesius and Galileo
studied natural philosophy. Telesius drew a broad
distinction between the immortal soul of man and
the souls of other animals, and held that immor-



2)^2 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

tality was a gift at conception. Theosophy was
taught by Paracelsus. Robert Fludd, J. Boehm,
F. M. Helmont, and others, belonged to the same
school. Skepticism was almost inevitable. Mon-
taigne and Charron were the more noted skeptics.
During these times of philosophic turmoil there
were a number of independent thinkers. Among
them, Bruno became eminent by his martyrdom.
He held a kind of pantheism. God is the imma-
nent cause of the universe. The stars are moved
by their souls. The elementary parts of all things
are monads. The soul is a monad, and is never
without a body. He believed that man is immortal,
and based upon this fact the proof of the eternity
of the world. Campanella held that there is a
world of incorporeal beings, but believed that
human souls are corporeal spirits which are warm,
subtile and light. He proved the immortality of
the soul from its desire for happiness. Bacon did
not believe that natural science is able to make
any positive affirmation as to the nature of the soul
and of God, but believed that it is sufficient for the
refutation of atheism. He said that slight tastes
of philosophy lead to atheism, but fuller draughts
lead back to religion. He distinguished between
the spirit, or intellectual soul, and the soul or



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 333

animal part, and pronounced the first scientifically
unknowable, but the other may be known to
science as a thin material substance.

During this breaking up of old opinions, we
would not be surprised to find doubts as to a future
life, but there were none. The skeptics did not
deny the possibility of it, and some affirmed it is a
fact. A few were pantheists, but even they did
not deny future personal immortality. Gassendi,
the materialist, "decidedly affirms that the evi-
dences of the soul's immortality are so full, explicit
and overwhelming that no person can reasonably
have the smallest doubt upon the point, who will
set about the investigation in a candid and con-
siderate spirit."* Hobbes, another materialist,
held that the soul, though material, was of extreme
tenuity. The only person of any prominence in
the literary world who cast doubt upon a future
life was Bembo, the dissolute Cardinal of Leo X.
Sixteen hundred years pass without a single phil-
osopher of any importance avowing the belief that
there is no existence after death.

After several centuries from the beginning of the
reaction against scholasticism, modern philosophy
emerges. The French claim that Descartes was

* Blakey.



334 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

the first of modern philosophers. It must be ad-
mitted that he exerted a deep influence on the
continent of Europe, and added much to that of
Bacon in shaping thought in Great Britain.

Descartes was an extreme Dualist, and he could
not conceive of any influence of mind upon mat-
ter. Geulinx tried to develop the theory of com-
plete independence through *' occasionalism," and
Malebranche by *'the vision of God." Spinoza
came from this school, and propounded a system
of pantheism that still exerts a deep influence in
philosophy. Though a pantheist, Spinoza taught
that the soul as an individual survives the body.

lycibnitz also belonged, in some measure, to the
Descartians, but so modified the philosophy of
Descartes that he started a new movement and
remained the philosopher of Germany until the
rise of Kant. The characterizing feature of his
system was the idea of the monad. God is the
first monad. Every soul is a monad, and the
power of acting on itself proves its substantiality.
The souls of animals are monads having sensation
and memory. Human souls can have clear, dis-
tinct, and single adequate ideas. The soul is the
centre or governing monad of the body, control-
ling the changes in the monads making up our



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 335

physical nature. Every soul monad is enveloped
in a body which it never wholly loses, but it may
partially lose it. The spiritual nature of the soul
shows its immortality. Wolf was the great ex-
pounder of the doctrine of Leibnitz, and his name
was attached to the system. While some few emi-
nent men, as Rudiger and Crusius, criticised cer-
tain features in the system, the list of the followers
of Leibnitz embraces an immense majority of
noted professors in Germany for more than a cen-
tury.

The eighteenth century carried the reaction
against ecclesiastical authority over into radical-
ism. It reached its furthest extreme in France,
where the Reformation of the Church had been
least. The French philosophy of that century was
devoted to political and social questions and gen-
eral culture, and it gave little attention to the pro-
founder problems of thought. The philosophic
principles were naturalistic, with a strong ten-
dency to materialism. Voltaire, a controlling spirit
during his life, did not commit himself fully either
to atheism or materialism. He thought that mat-
ter might think, that our ideas generally come
through the senses, but moral ideas spring from our
nature, and that the belief in a rewarding and pun-



2,2,6 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

ishing God is necessary to moral order. La Mettrie
avowed gross materialism, and said the soul per-
ishes with the body. Rousseau, the most brilliant
writer of his day, and also an acute thinker, was
a decided opponent of materialism and pantheism,
and zealously attested his faith both in a personal
God and personal immortality. Condillac, who
introduced Locke's philosophy into France, was
not a materialist. Extended and divisible matter,
he thought, cannot be the substratum of thought
and feeling, which are unextended and indivisible.
Bonnet derived all our representations from sensa-
tion, but distinguished the mind from the body.
The mind could do nothing without the body — thus
approaching in his doctrine a positive materialism.
De Alembert said we did not have a clear idea of the
nature of either mind or matter: the relation be-
tween matter and mind was inscrutable, but that
matter is intelligent is inconceivable. Diderot,
after much wavering, reached pantheism. De Hol-
bach professed atheism. Cabanis, a little later,
denies the existence of the soul as a being — it is
only a faculty of the body. The brain secretes
thought. But he lived to modify very greatly
his views, and admit an intelligent cause of the
world.



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BELIEF. 2)2>7

After Bacon there were in England some philo-
sophical writers of prominence and importance
before the time of Locke. Hooker, his cotempor-
ary, was a theologian, but he is regarded by Hal-
lam as the most philosophical writer of his period.
Davies discussed the nature of the soul and its im-
mortality. Herbert, of Cherburg, the first of the
Deists, laid down as one of the five common no-
tions of natural religion this principle: "There is;
another life with rewards and punishments."
Culverwell, Cudworth, More, Whichcote, Chilling-
worth, and Gale, were men of superior ability.

Locke is the greatest metaphysician of England
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries^
He was respected by Leibnitz, with whom he cor-
responded. He was the ruling spirit in his own
country for a great many years, and his influence
was very great in France. He taught sensational-
ism, but not materialism. He regarded the soul as
immaterial, but thought that God can endow mat-
ter with the power of thinking. Berkeley was an
idealist, and believed in a future life of the indi-
vidual. Hartley carried out the sensationalism of
Locke, and brought against himself the charge of
materialism; but he earnestly denied the charge,
and contested the materalistic conclusions which
15



338 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

were drawn from his philosophy. Priestley held
that the soul is material, but gave a new definition
of matter. He held that there is a future existence.
Darwin, who belongs to the same associational
school with the last two, held that there are two
substances in nature: spirit producing motion, and
matter receiving motion. Newton, the great natu-
ral philosopher, was the friend of Locke, and gave
some attention to psychology. He thought the
soul is a distinct substance, and is situated in the
brain where it perceives the images of things as
they are introduced. The Deists were free-thinkers,
but they held to the idea of a future life. Toland,
Collins, Cooper, Tindal and Morgan assailed reve-
lation at different points, but admitted a natural
religion. Here, as in many other cases, the popu-
lace rushed to conclusions that the teachers never
admitted. Hume, a profound metaphysician, was
a philosophic skeptic. He did not commit himself
to any positive view in religion, though privately
he said, on one or two occasions, that he did not
think differently from other men about another life.
During this century Scotland produced some
eminent writers besides those already mentioned
in other connections. There was a school, which
still exists, called the Scottish. Carmichael was



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BEUEF. 339

perhaps the first. He was succeeded by Hutche-
son, who is best known from his theory in ethics.
Oswald, Beattie, Price, Harris and Burnet were
prominent. Adam Smith, the friend of Hume, is
well known as a writer on political science, but he
was also the author of a system of morals. Fer-
guson was also eminent as an ethical writer.
Thomas Reid was the greatest metaphysician
belonging to the school, with the single exception
of Hamilton. Reid gave it a new departure and
placed it upon a better philosophic basis. All of
them with the possible exception of Smith were
decided spiritualists or anti-materialists, and he
with all the others believed in a future life.

With Kant's Critique of Pure Reason there
commenced a new era in modern philosophy.
For a long time a disciple of the Wolfian Leibnitz-
ian school, he was aroused by the skepticism of
Hume to seek a surer foundation for philosophy.
He started the Germans upon a new career, and
his influence went into France, crossed over the
English Channel, and came even into America.
He was a natural realist, but awakened tendencies
both to skepticism and idealism. He admits that
the ego must regard itself as a simple immaterial
substance, but denies that we are able to pass to



340 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE UFE.

the synthetic judgment that it is simple and im-
material. He proves that the soul is immortal
from the practical necessity of an existence suffi-
cient for the complete fulfilment of the moral law.
We cannot attain to perfect holiness, and the con-
flict can be brought to an end only through an
eternal progression.

Fichte, Schelling and Hegel were Absolute
Idealists. They ran the idealistic element in
Kant into pantheism or the doctrine of Absolute
Identity. Fichte held to a future life. Schelling
and Hegel were less pronounced. Hegel's follow-
ers divided into two schools. Fichte and Goschel
maintained a personal immortality. Conradi,
Michelet and others maintained the extinction of
the individual. Ruge's Journal became so radical
that it was suppressed by the government.

Kant's philosophy for various reasons awakened
opposition. Some from the Leibnitzian school, as
Eberhard, Schwab, and Mendelssohn, opposed it be-
cause of its radical departure. Herder opposed its
dualism. G. B. Schulze, somewhat skeptical, at
first opposed but afterwards approached it. Some
others criticised the idealistic elements in it. But
it gathered around it a host of friends, some of
whom were faithful interpreters, and others while



SKETCH OF PHILOSOPHIC BEUEF. 341

retaining its fundamental principles modified it.
Schiller is the most widely known, but Reinhold, J.
Schultz, Schmid, Krug, Fries, Bouterweg, Abicht,
and Bardilli, were all able men. Some of these
maintained clearly and distinctly the doctrine of
the separate nature of the mind, but others, as Fries
and Beck and Bardilli, approximated absolutism.

Schelling also had a large number of able dis-
ciples. A few, like Klein and Wagner, were
pantheists. Some like Oken and Essenbeck made
his philosophy the basis of natural science. Oken
said that mind is the polarity of the immaterial,
and that the antagonism in the animal life re-
appears as attributes of man. Others devoted
themselves to speculative philosophy. Krause
held that the ego is an organized and independent
being, and is a spiritual organized whole. He re-
garded Christianity as the end of philosophical
opinions. Berger thought that mind is the organ-
izing and vitalizing principle. StefFens said that
humanity conceals in itself a presentiment of an
infinite future. Baader opposed pantheism. He
believed in a personal future life. If we accept
salvation in Christ, we have immortality. Souls
in Hades may still be saved, but those in hell are
forever lost.



342 EVIDENCE OF A FUTURE LIFE.

Jacobi, a younger contemporary of Kant, and one
of his critics, taught doctrines that exerted a strong
influence upon many subsequent philosophers. He
doubted the ability of reason to solve the great
problems of the world, and sought to raise himself


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 19

Online LibraryLuther A FoxEvidence of a future life : from reason and revelation → online text (page 17 of 19)