Adrien Jean Quentin Beuchot.

Bibliotheca sacra and theological review online

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In short, his full meaning is, that this space-filling force is tuhttaneey
whilst its phenomena are the sense modes of its manifestation. It is
substantial entity in space as opposed to non-ens.

To a reflecting mmd, thinking intensely on matter and substance,
and occupied, perhaps, by some such theory as that df Boscovich, the
idea may have often occurred, for a moment, that what we call by
these names may be an energy, a constant force, space rendered im-
penetrable, or ** the manifestation of the Divine power in space."*
There may have occurred something like the an^iQov of Anaximander,
or the kyky the mother of matter of the Greek philosophers, which
belonged to the voifta rather than to the aia^hjid ; or there may have
been some similar thought which mure or less resembled our author's.
But whether the same or not, it i^, as hei-e presented, emphatically
kit conception ; because he has worked it out in a system of his own,
which, whether true or not, is certainly remarkable, not only for its
scientific beauty, but for the many interesting results the author
seems to have drawn from it towards the building of an a priori nat-
ural philosophy in its conditioning principles. The fact that it can
be made to harmonize well with the most general phenomena of a
natui*e of things, and to give them an a priori interpretation of great
simplicity and beauty, is alone an argument of weight in its favor.
It is certainly enough to conciliate the reader to a favorable exami-
nation.

^ If the reviewer may be pardoned in referring to some statements of his own
in a work entitled Flato Contra Atheos, page 279.



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200 m€h(X$ Batiwfud Ptgdiohfft* [Jait*

Sudi has been its effect on the reyiewer, although there are diffi*
colties in the waj of its full reoeption, which he has not yet been able
to overoome. The notion of substance is that of a simple unity, or
rather one-ness ; force, on the other hand, ever seensA to imply a
duality of opposition. The notion of substance, or at least of mate-
rial substance, seems to be that oiesxens not only wanting but exclu-
ding the conception of motion, or tendency to motion, unless as super-
induced ab extra ; force, on the other hand, ever seems to hold die
idea of motion, or tendency to motion, or that resisted tendency which
is equilibrium in distinction from the absolute rest of immobility.
Again, there are the cravings of the understanding, which seems im-
peratively to demand a notion of something still back of the force, of
which the £brce is^ and thus to create the apprehension of falling into
one of those amphibolies which arise from the attempt to sublimate
a thought into an occasion for objective experience, and which the
author has himself, in so masterly a maimer, set forth in respect to
the difficulties of other schools in Section YL Part 11. of this book.
With respect to this last objection, he might perhaps resolve it into a
bad habit of the understanding which has been so accustomed to re-
gard the notion as ever lying back of, or under, phenomena, that it
rejects it when at last it actually seems to make its appecarance ; but
waiving all such difficulties we can only say, at present, that we have
been deeply impressed with the author's view, and that, with some
modifications and explanations, we might be prepared to accept it as
containing a substantial verity. As we wish, however, to find room
in the present article for a review of the argument against the sensa-
tionalist ; all consideration of this interesting subject of the space-
filling force, and especially of the views to which it leads, of the su-
pernatural and the absolute, as presented in the third part, must be
necessarily deferred to another part of our examination. For more
in reference to it, in the work itself, the reader is advised to study
pages 383 and 555 in continuation. Our further sketch is also de-
ferred in like manner, and for a similar reason ; together with a dis-
cussion of those intensely interesting moral and theological, topics
which the author so ably treats in his third department, or, The
Beason.

In the work before us, the examination of each faculty very appro^
priately closes with an argument to prove the valid being of the ob-
jects of which it takes cognizance. First, There are real phenomena,
and there are real things, causes, events, etc Secondly, There are



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18^1.] JfytAMMl agakut ik4 MMrUUtL 291

teal mteHeefcilal operatk»s, sQch as poire intuitions of time and spoee^
conjunctions in quantity, collections in unity, plurality and totality,
dystfnctions in qoaKty, together with certain a priori cogniticms, whicM
cannot be created from sense, or come from any reflection on sense
that does not bring them with it as the conditional means for the per-
formance of its work ; and there are also other real intellectual ope*
rations, such as the viewing of phenomena in one whole of space and
time, and connecting them in the notions substance, cause, etc., which
never could have come from any objective <^der of experience mere*
ly, had there not been, in the mind itself, and from the mind itself,
such intuitions, notions, connections, etc, as conditional for all possi*
ble experience. The argument thus, in both departments, of the
aense and of the understanding, divides itself into three parts -*-
a^glinst the materialist or sensationalist,— ^against the idealist, -^ and
agalnfiLthe sceptic who makes use of the war and contradictions of
the two, to deny all grounds for a true belief in the existende of any-
thing either objective or sobjeetive.

The argument against the first is comparatively easy. Soma
little confusion may arise from allowing him to use the word reflec-
tion, which has really no meaning in his scheme, and only serves ai
a dehisive foil to turn away objections he cannot answer. Some
idight difficulties, too, arise from confounding the sense as a field, or
cme of the fields, for thi. (>peration of the intellectual energy, with tha
sensitive powers that fuynish the objects on which it energizes, and
16 which sensitive power's the name, the «e7t^, truly belongs, when
employed by itself to denote a department <3^ our nature. Thos^
leaving out the terms, sense and understanding, we may speak' of the
intellectual agency as comCructing phen(Hnena in form, in quantity,
and quality, and of the same or another intellectual agency, as con-
nscHng things and events in substanee and cansaHty. Whether wa
fegard them as two distinct faculties, or the same faculty energizing
<m two distinct fields, and in two distinct ways, must depend upon
other parts of our psychological scheme ; but on either view, it re^*
afains, with equal consistency, that the intelleetual agency, with the
Goastmctions, connectionB, intmtions, and notiobs it brings with it as
the li^t in which it Works, are high above,, that is, are distinct irom
and transcend all sensatton afid all experienee. They are brought
into the field of the sense, not found there.'

There is, we think, some of the same confusion which Inay arise
from the careless reading of our author, not from the want of the uU
most deamess in the use of terme, for we thiak he has seldom beta



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202 BickoV$ Rational Psychology. [Jait.

surpassed in this respect, but because it may not be borne in mind
that he departs from Kant and others of the kindred school^ in bring*
ing the notions of quantity and quality into the field of the sense,
rather than of the understanding. . The difference, however, we
think, is more apparent than real. Kant restricts the sense to the
first of the views we have taken of it, as furnishing content merely
for perception. The author gives it a larger range, and " includes
within it an intellectual agency competent to complete the perception,"
p. 158. How far this may be in itself correct, or how far this re-
stricting of one field and enlarging of the other may be merely for
the advantage it affords in presenting what is conceived to be a more
symmetrical view of the mind's operation, we do not now inquire.
Bather, h(twever, than admit that these mtuitions of time and space,
these cognitions of unity, totality, etc, could be given by the mere
sense, we should altogether prefer Kant's division, however ill pro-
portioned it might seem to make the map of the mind. It is dear,
however, that the author, although classifying these cognitions and
intuitions under the sense, never intended to make them the product
of sensation in the sense of Locke, nor of any barren reflection
mirroring in a blank mind only what sense had given it Proof abun-
dant of this may be found in almost every part of his ailment, and
we should not at all have dwelt upon it, had it not been for the possi-
bility that some might carelessly regard him as thus deriving from
the sense whatever he treats of as being in the field of the sense.

The opposite view is justly styled materialisno^ from its inevitable
tendency. Writers may differ much from what their systems would
make them, and this because their souls have been formed under fiur
different influences. Locke, although originating a philosophy iden-
tical with that which Condoroet carried to pure atheism and material-
ism, was a devout man, who feared the Lord and reverenced the
Holy Scriptures. Cousin, who finds so much sensualism in Locke's
philosophy, is, to say the least, in nowise distinguished for any of
that true spirituality which comes from a hearty love of God's writ*
ten revelation, and the Christianity which has ever been taught in
the Church. Edwards may have carried Locke's doctrine of sen-
sation and motive to the very borders of a physical fatalism, (althou^
the reviewer is far from coinciding in any such opinion,) and yet
who could doubt the high spirituality of Edwards, living as he did,
ever in holy communion with *<the things unseen and eternal,''
or even institute a comparison between it and that of the boasting
German idealists, or of any even of those more serious minds among
them who profess a form of evangelical mysticism.



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16fil.] Arg¥m%fa ajfoimt the MaUriaUsL 809

But whilst we cannot always judge men hj their philosophical
system, the system itself must manifest its tendency, and it is this
alternate tendency which alone furnishes its most appropriate name«
Says the pious author of the Ilorae Solitariae, "^ The false or heathen
philosophy which derives all knowledge from sensation, naturally
enough ends there." It cannot get above its source, and however
much it may be buoyed up, for a time, by props drawn from an ear"
lier and a better philosophy, must at last terminate in denying the
reality of anything above sense, and, finally, of the sense or sen-
tiency itself as having any true entity aside from the body ihsXfeeU.

Thus viewed the argument against the sensationalist is dear and
direct. It is simply throwing on him the whole onu^ probandu Con-
cede to him all the advantage of holding, in some way, to a blank
spirituality (if he would not wish to rank with those who deny all but
matter) and yet he is not essentially helped. He is to show how cer*
tain things can ever get into this capacity from the sense, unless put
into the sense by the very mind that is to receive and reflect them
back again. We meet him with the common sense argument (for if
there can be an aigument drawn wholly ftt>m sense this is one) that
he is trying to get out of a thing what was never in it — a feat which
no mere capacity, or faculty, or blank power of reflection, can ever
accomplish. He is reversing the famous maxim of his older brethren,
de nihilo fUkUy in the very case where it is most applicable^ He is
trying to get something out of nothing ; for he does this who attempts
to bring more out of less. In other words, he is deducing very great
effects from causes altogether inadequate. There is an immense
range of the mind which can neither be originally extracted from
sense, nor regarded as having grown out of it. It would comprehend
in fact, all above mere feeling — all that involves the conception of
space and time.

Let us suppose such a blank spirituality slumbering in connection
with a power of sensation which is to furnish it with its ideas^ and
which is itself as yet unawakened. The former is to receive, and
reflect upon, only what it may derive from the latter. Nihil in tn-
teUectu quod non priue in sensu. It is not only the occasion, but the
very containing and developing seed whence is to grow up all future
knowledge ! In these circumstances the sense is once aroused to
sentiency ; suppose by the puncture of some sharp instrument in the
* brain or material sensorium. It feels its first feeling, and transmits
it to the blank intelligence above. We might speculate on this one
feelingj and show that even here the awaking mind must receive^ of



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904 SdoQy$ SaUanal P^fckohfff. [Jait*

rather perceive, what ooald not have been in the Benae. Here is
change, here is eu$ and nan-ene, here is unity, here is the diversity of
being and not being. All this, too, might be fairij supposed ci the
pore inner sense, once, in some way aroused to a consciousness that
it is. But we pass on. The sensibility goes to sleep again, and is
again aroused by a similar token from the objective workL It
feels its second feeling, and transmits it to the blank spirituality
above. Like causes must produce like effects. This second feel*
ing is Mke the first, and can, therefore, only bring to the mind a
like result If there be a difference, either from excess or diminu*
tton in the second, or from the addition of something from the first
still remauiing in the sentiency, it can be no difference of kind,
but only of degree, or intensity. It will be just the same sensation
(in kind) over again, giving no other product in the soul, or at
the utmost, only a plus or minus of sensation, such as might have
been given by the first impression on the sensorium, had it been so
proportioned in force and direction. But here we are met by the
startling fact, that there is connected with this second feeling s<mie-
thing which was not in the first. It is, too, not a mere difference of
intensity, or even variety of sensation, but something radically die»
tinct in kind. There is the cognition of something as past, or of
poitnees, if we may employ such a term. There is an intuition ei
time. The soul is awakened to find this within herself. 8he is
aroused by the sensation, but it is of herself she knows she has been
sleeping. It is from her own h'ght, and not from any refiecCiag badk
on sense what sense has given, that she knows there has been a he*
fore, that there is a now, and that there is coming a hereafter. This
intuition of time alone, thtis coming from herself, though kindred
from without, lights up far and wide the interior of her being, and
shows her that it is no void place, but well supplied with goodly store
of intuitions, cognitions, notions, ideas, ready instantaneously to give
forth their own illumination, whenever the objects are presented
which they are adapted to embrace in their beholding. We may be
years in taking a full inventory of this spiritual house, ravttig n/y
olxlag rtjg dxBiQonoitJToVf but as neither sense, nor even consciousness
gave ihcm existence, so can neither, by its absence, detract aught
from the constant reality of their being.

The same arguments might be applied to all our perceptions of
space, of figure, of quantity, of quality. Sense cannot answer the
question when, and it remains equally silent to the question where*
We feel hardness, we sec colors, we hear sounds, and these singly ot



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i85L] Seme doei nai f m mM peffset Ideah. 205

combined prodaoe sensatioiui of yarying intensity, but it is only in the
light wkich the pure spirituality sheds upon them that we perceive
unity, or doality, or plurality, or totality, or number, or ratio, or iig^
nre even ; for these can be only seen in the intuition of space which
sense cannot give. And so, a fortiori, may we say, that it is by a
still higher knowledge of the soul we know that phenomena must in-
here in substance, and cohere in mutual causality.^

Sense may draw its line upon the retina, or the brain, or the last
matter that intervenes, but the spirit, measures it by its own canon of
fltraigfatness. So also it may protract its varied lines, but the soul
surveys their relations by its own ideas of parallelism, angularity,
rectangularity, ratio, equality,' etc If it be said, that these are mani-
festly furnished by sense, we appeal to the fact that they are nowhere
found throughout the sensible world in their perfection. There are
no perfectly straight lines lying, as the old Greek geometers defined
them, ^ iffov, equally between their extreme points. There are no
perfectly stradght lines exactly parallel ; there are no perfect cirdes.
Sense and experience, the more minutely they are examined, are
found never to come to the perfect ideal models which the mind has
tomehow got into its possession. They could, therefore, never have
given Qs these ideal standards, because, without such previous ideal,
we coidd never know how much the sensible imitations were bekyw
ity or, in fact, that they were below it at alL We may talk as we
will of the association of ideas, but if the chain is not originally fas-
tened to something permanently in the mind, and which regulates the
whole assoeifltion, how shall we ever mount up by it into the mind
itself. It is maintained that though imperfect they are near enough
to the truth to represent the perfect idea, and that so the mind reaches
down and gets it from this representation? But what is meant?
What is representation but a throwing back of what had been im-
parted. It ever of necessity implies an original ; and by what does
the mind correct the imperfect copy afler it has thus got it in pos*
session?

The mathematician may make his demonstration from a very ill

1 Every time we read Plato's ailment in the Phacdon respecting these " remi-
niscences '' of the Tid wov, t6 nttl^, etc^ we are the more and more convinced,
that, instead of being the egregioos quibble which some pronounce it, it is abso^
lately unanswerable. ^

^ The idea of equality comes into that of straightneu. Evenly — that is, nothing
on one side that is not on the other. The modem definition substitutes a differ-
ent and ku simple notion.

Vol. VIIL No. 29. 18



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206 ISckoes Ratumai Pmichology. [Jan.

drawn diagram, because he easily rectifies it, in his mind's eye, irom
his own pure ideal ; and so it is near enough for his purpose, though
a clumsy obtuse angle may have to represent rectangularity. The
accomplished musician can use a very imperfect instrument, and enjoy
the intellectual pleasure of the harmony/ notwithstanding some grat-
ings on the sense, because he mentally brings up its Jarring strings to
the perfect attuning of his own mind. It is enough if it suggest the
perfect chords which the musician's soul knows so welL But where
would either of them be, if they had no other, and never could have
any other, standard than could be obtained from die clumsy diagram,
or the ill-tuned piano. In short, there cannot well be conceived a
grosser hytteron proteron than that which derives the rule, or, in
general, the accuracy of the rule, from the very imperfection whose
deficiency it is brought to measure.

We see that the line is strmght, and that the spaces are equal, be-
cause we a priori know what straightness and equality are. The
seeing is determined by the knowing. Otherwise there would have
been immeasurable diversity, and no unity, or approach to unity,
either of name or idea. The word tuggest will not remove the diffi-
culty for the disciple of Mill and Locke. It is a term which belongs
to the other schooL The imperfect approach cannot create the ideal
rule, but it may very well put the soul in mind (if we may use the
familiar expression) of one it had before.

Nihil in inteUectu quod non prius in sentu. We would not be so
extravagant as to invert this famous maxim, and say that there is noth-
ing in the sense which was not previously in the intellect ; but in view
of what has been said, we may maintain, that little or nothing in the
aentiency, or which comes from the sentiency, would i4[>pear what it
does appear, were it not for its connection with the intellect, or, in
other words, the light giving spirituality above. Even the sense,
says Aristotle, is not wholly alogal — ovj oJtf aXoyi^ hoi to atc&t^i"
nop ^eiij dp rig Qaditas ;by which he evidently means, that what the
sense has in itself is rationalized, and made different from what it
would be, by its connection with a higher or lower intellect. We see
nothing as we should see it, if we had only sense and a blank spirit-
uality, — even admitting that that were possible. Every reader must
be familiar with examples in which our intuitions, our notions, or, if
any choose to call them such, our assumptions, be they original or ac-
quired, do greatly vary our perceptions, aind even, sometimes, the very

^ It may seem a paradoxj but in thi^i way, a scientific musician might be less
offended by a poor instrument) than one who had a good car and no science.



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1851.] The Serma do not give direct Knowledge. 207

sensations themselves. Our perceptions of distance ever depend on
an assumed size, and even here we get nothing absolute, because on
the other hand our perceptions of size do ever depend on an as-
8omed distance, either spontaneously taken, or given to us by circum-
stances. We speak of the real size of objects. But how shaU we
ascertain it as matter of sense? Not even the famous Auguste
Compte, with all his parade of ^ experience " and '^ positive knowl-
edge," could give us the mathematical formula for this apparently
simplest of all problems. No man on earth can make a definition of
it, that does not immediately involve something out of what might
seem to be a direct perception of size itself, or, in other words, de-
mand an ideal measure. I look out of my window in the evening,
and behold what appears to be a great light For some reason, I
had fixed its locality across au extended valley. This was my notion^
my understanding. It makes no difference now whence that under-
standing came, and whether original or acquired. It had its instan-
taneous effect upon the perception. Again, some cause modifies it,
and I am convinced that the place of the phenomenon is just across
the street Not only the perception, but the very sensation is changed.
There is a dwindling at once in brightness and size, and all that re-
mains is the dq^fpearance of a dim candle in the window of a neigh-
boring house.

This is a familiar case ; and yet it might be shown that almost all
the affirmations of our senses, instead of giving us the most direct
knowledge, as some would say, do, in a similar manner, involve some
hypothesis, and are liable to similar modifications. Unless rectified
by a continual judgment, of which, in its intuitive rapidity and fre-
qneney we take no notice until revealed to us in the analysis of per-
spective science, the mere sensual revelations of our eyes would often
be distorted and delusive pictures. Hardly anything appears to one
sense exactly acoording to what another sense, or the understanding,
judging according to another sense, would pronounce reality ; and it
may be unhesitatingly affirmed, that we never see anything of its
true shape from whatever position it may be viewed. We talk of
eorrecting one sense by another, as though that would help the pres-
ent difficulty, or repair the broken arches of the materialist's crum-
bling bridge. We need again some plank from the other shore. We
bring in again the thought of a rule or model out of sense. In
affirming that we correcf one sense by another, there is of course
implied some higher standard than either. Without it we have
no means of determining which is most correct, and therefore best



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SOB Mekoet Satwnal P$^tAoUig^ [Jait*

entitled to be used as a measure for the other, or how far one or both
fall below the standard of absolute Gorrectness. Without th]% it
would be like measuring the yard bj the foot, and then the foot by
its 'assumed multiple the yard.

Education, arts, associations^ do all, on the same principle, vary
our perceptions, and make them to c^pear different from what they



Online LibraryAdrien Jean Quentin BeuchotBibliotheca sacra and theological review → online text (page 24 of 98)