Catholic University of America.

American ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 online

. (page 62 of 78)
Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 62 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


intellectual and moral. It will be seen that the same truth is
involved in the above argument for spirituality. If physical and
psychical events belong to different orders, the subject of the
psychical must fall under the same ultimate category as that to
which the physical belongs. Now since the material organism, in
which the physical processes occur, is in the substance category,
the subject of the psychical states, the soul, must be classified
under the same ultimate genus. In the April number of the Revue
de Philosophic (p. 401) M. Gardair, reviewing M. Bemies* recent
work, Spiritualite et Imniortalite^ doubts whether the substan-
tiality of the soul can be completely and strictly proven against
contemporary Monism without appealing to Theodicy, Though
the soul, he says, is a substance, it is dependent in its deepest self
on that universal principle in which we live and move and are.
How prove that that dependence is not one of inherence, if one
does not appeal to the nature of that principle, and thus pass from
the domain of psychological to that of theological science ? M.
Bemies replies to this objection in the August number of the

«Bd. 119, Heft 2.

* Paris : Blond et Barral.



Digitized by



Google



PHILOSOPHY, 571

same Review. He claims that psychology proves the substan-
tiality of the soul, since it proves the existence ol free will ; for
the two are inseparably connected. The branches of a tree derive
their sap from trunk and root ; so, too, our powers or faculties
derive their nature or energy from the soul's essence, the sub-
stance whence they emanate. If, then, the root of those faculties
were itself inherent in some alien substance, some universal prin-
ciple, the whole person, soul and free will included, would belong
to that substance as its properties. Free will would then be not a
/rr^^«^/ endowment, but a mode in which the universal principle
manifests itself. Now, since liberty reveals itself to reflective con-
sciousness as a constituent of personality, it reveals itself likewise
as a property of the wUl, which, in turn, by its activities, shows
itself to be one of the channels through which the substantial
soul emits its spiritual energy. If, therefore, psychology, by its
appeal to reflective consdousness, can prove the freedom of the
will, as it in fact does, it can likewise, without recourse to Theodicy,
prove the self-subsistence of the soul.

The Biological Data of Transformlsm are interesting to the
student of philosophy in so far as they constitute the groundwork
from which that theory rises towards a universal world-view.
Amongst the data of special note are the results of observa-
tions on the transmission of acquired qualities. In Germany,
Fischer and Strandfuss have recently been carrying on some
very elaborate experiments on the pupae of butterflies. The
results are summarized in the PhUosophisches Jahrbuch quoted
above. It is a well-known fact that under the influence of extreme
heat or cold strongly marked variations occur in the pupae of
butterflies (especially of the species Vanessa) ; variations which
seem to belong to an altogether different species. These depar-
tures from the type occur likewise, though in rare cases, in the
natural state, and the supposition is that in this way geographical
varieties at least have arisen. But from this possibility of acci-
dental variation to the probable, not to say, actual, transformation
of species how long must be the way will appear from the follow-
ing : Thousands of pupae were exposed to intense cold and the
abnormal organisms thus gained were paired. In a few instances
the acquired qualities were transmitted under normal conditions



Digitized by



Google



572 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

to the offspring. The improbability that natural species are ever
developed from such variations is obvious. For first the occur-
rence of conditions similar to those artificially effected in the above-
mentioned experiments are highly exceptional in nature ; this is
manifest from the extreme rarity of strongly marked variations
from the type, and only such variations were selected in both
series of experiments. Secondly, the variant male organism must
find for its partner a strongly variant female, a selection which is
still less probable to take place. And even should this singular
event occur, only a small fraction of the progeny will be found
to vary from the type. That from the few variant descendants the
organisms best adapted to transmit their modification should meet
is extremely improbable ; but even should this fortunate conjunc-
ture take place, it is no less improbable that the next generation
would revert to the type. At all events the experiments tell in
no wise favorably for the transmission of variations acquired dur-
ing the life of the organisms, for the influence of the lowered
temperature on the pupae was exerted on the germ plasm they
contained. The experiments are instructive, however, as indi-
cating more sensibly the stability rather than the variability of
natural types and the extreme unlikelihood of the transformation
of species by natural selection. Whether nature effects such
transformation by some other process remains (will it always re-
main ?) a problem for the biologist to solve. In the meantime
the philosopher holds his soul in peace, ready, indeed, to take up
into a larger synthesis whatever new facts and valid inferences
experimental science presents, yet chary withal and critical of mere
conjecturings.

The Beginnings of Terrestrial Life. — Every once in a while the
voice of some personage eminent in the world of sdence is heard
calling attention to the chasm between the kingdoms of nature
across which the mind has as yet found no passage. One of the
latest of such utterances is quoted by Wildermann in \htjahrbtuh
der Wissenscliaften for 1902 (p. 326). Dr. Branco, an ardent evo-
lutionist, in his inaugural address before the Berlin Academy of
Sciences says : " What may have been the beginning of life on
our globe, whether it was created, whether it developed from
inorganic matter on this planet, or began on some distant star.



Digitized by



Google j



PHILOSOPHY, 573

whether its home is in cosmic space whence it was projected
upon this as upon other planets, whether from the very begin-
ning it has coexisted together with the inorganic elements — of
all this evolutional history tells us naught, for it is utterly ignor-
ant thereof. We are here limited to faith. If there are individ-
uals who think their opinions in these matters firmly established,
as is faith, they simply deceive themselves."

Puzzled Scientists. — Just how one is to conceive the Ultimate
Reality, the Absolute, which the Spiritual Idealists discover at
the foundation of things in this world of ours. Professor Stewart,
writing in the July Mind, declares himsdf puzzled to describe.
Writers of that phase of thought of which Professor James Ward,
the author of Naturalism arid Agnosticism, is dted as a type, ob-
ject to the physicists. Lord Kelvin, for instance, for positing a
" natural " and not a ** spiritual principle " as the ultimate founda-
tion of things. Their objection to Darwin is that he derives man's
self-consciousness ultimately from a material source, whereas it
can be rightly explained, they maintain, only as a ** reproduction "
of an ultimate "spiritual" principle — the "Eternal Consciousness"
which constitutes the world. Readers of books, like Royce's The
World and the Individual, have been no less than Mr. Stewart
perplexed to discover whether the ultimate " spiritual principle "
is in the Idealistic theory a " personal God in the ordinary Chris-
tian sense or an Impersonal (albeit Spiritual) something." On the
one hand Sin Impersonal Spiritual Principle would have no theo-
logical value, would afford no theological setting for science, no
Ideal for ethics. On the other hand, such authorities as Mr. Bal-
four and Professor A. S. Pringle-Pattison declare that Thomas
Green's Philosophy is not only inconsistent with the personality of
God in the Christian sense, but also with the personality of man.
Moreover, Mr. Bradley maintains that the Ultimate Principle or
Absolute, although Spiritual, cannot be personal in the sense nat-
urally conveyed by the language of our Idealists. Nevertheless,
Prof. Royce is positive that " there is an absolute Experience for
which the conception of a system of ideal truth is fulfilled by the
very contents that get presented to this experience . . . God
is this absolute experience . . . He is related to our experi-
ence as an organic whole to its own fragments." This conception of



Digitized by



Google



574 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

God Royce considers to be ** theistic, not pantheistic." It is not
the conception of any conscious reality into which finite beings are
absorbed ; nor of a universal substance in whose law our ethical
independence is lost ; nor of an ineffable mystery which we can
only silently adore. " What the faith of our forefathers has gener-
ally meant by God is . . . identical with the inevitable out-
come of reflective philosophy." So long as there is this ambiguity
of definition as to the nature of the Spiritual Principle which the
Idealists postulate as the ultimate foundation of things, whether,
that is, it is personal or impersonal, Professor Stewart deprecates
their criticism of the scientists who reduce the visible world to the
material ultimates, atoms and ether. They should reckon, he
thinks, first with Mr. Bradley's contention that " person is either
finite or meaningless." Prof Stewart, however, seems not to notice
Mr. Bradley's own equivocation. The subtle author of Appearance
and Reality, in accusing of intellectual dishonesty " most of those
who insist on what they call the Personality of God," lapses sadly
into the familiar fallacy a dicta secundum quid, ad dictum simpli-
citer. Most of those who insist on the Personality of God in the
proper sense of the term do not " want a Deity that is finite, a
person like themselves with thoughts and feelings limited and
mutable in the process of time." They conceive of the Divine
Personality in an utterly diverse sense, as a Person, i, ^., that
infinitely transcends themselves, a Being with thoughts and
volitions unlimited and immutable, whose duration is not that
of time but of eternity. Personality is involved in the Divine
intelligence, or rather God's intelligence is a constituent, so to
say, of His personality ; were He not personal He could not be
intelligent. The argument from design proving God's intelli-
gence proves of necessity His personal nature. Mr. Bradley is
not justified in restricting personality to the finite. In itself and
absolutely, personality is infinite, and the intelligent creature
is personal only inasmuch as it has received from the Infinite
Person a finite, a so to say participated, personality which is pre-
dicated by analogy, of the intelligent creature because of its
relation of dependence on the Creator.



Digitized by



Google



Criticisms and JHotes.



IHHAHTTEL EANT : His Life and Doctrine. By Friedrioli Fanlsen, Pro-
fessor of Philosophy in the TTniyersity of Berlin. Translated from the
Bevised German Edition by J. E. Oreighton and Albert Lefevrei of the
Sage Sohool of Philosophy, Oomell TTniyersity. With a Portrait. Vew
Tork : Oharles Scribner's Sons. 1902. Pp. xiz-^lQ.

Kant's philosophy, Professor Paulsen tells us, is ''the door to the
philosophy of our century, and the door to the Kantian philosophy is
the Critique of Pure Reason,^ ^ To this we might add that a con-
venient door both to the Critique and to the Kantian system as a whole
has been opened by Paulsen himself in the present volume.

Out of the darkness of the scepticism in which German philosophy
has been groping during the past century the frantic cry, '* Back to
Kant,'' has been heard again and again. But vain, alas ! is the hope
of light in that direction. The superficial phenomenalism and agnos-
ticism that characterize so much of the theorizing of the closing cen-
tury are the legitimate offspring of the Kantian philosophy. It is true,
as Paulsen reminds us again and again, Kant insists on the reality of
the mundus intelligibilis as distinct from the mundus sensibiiis, but the
author of the Critique of Pure Reason finds in the mind no eye to
discern the things or thoughts of the intelligible worlds as they are
objectively in themselves. Both worlds are perceived through sub-
jective forms, a priori conditions, which preclude the vision of real
objects. Once the visual power of *'pure" or speculative reason is
pronounced illusionary, it is the veriest petitio principii to appeal to
the practical reason to avert scepticism ; for if speculative reason
cannot discern objective reality as it is, how can it tell what practical
reason itself is or can do, since the ability and the objective sphere of
the latter are realities which must fall under the critical scrutiny of
the former. Be all this as it may, however, since the harking is back
to Kant, if the professional student of philosophy find it his duty or his
interest to follow the cry, and he have not the leisure or the equip-
ment or the patience for the direct study of Kant's works, or if he
prefer to enter the labyrinth with intelligent guidance, he cannot do
better than make use of the present volume. It contains a graphic
sketch of Kant's life, character, and work ; a clear and, on the whole.



Digitized by



Google



576 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

apparently just presentation of his philosophical system in its entirety,
and its several organic members. The volume has a place in From-
man's Philosophical Classics, a series in German answering to Black-
wood's Philosophical Classics for English readers. The well-known
ability, philosophical, but especially literary, of the author, may be
taken as to some extent vouching for its general merits. The student
familiar with Paulsen's other works, his Introduction to Philosophy and
his Ethics particularly, both of which exist in English translations,
will expect to meet with not a few misunderstandings of the philosophy
taught in our schools. The writer makes no effort to conceal his
anti-Catholic temper. Unfortunately this animus beclouds at times
his critical discernment, and his statements become either untrue or
place the truth in a misleading light. For instance, he says that Kant's
philosophy has '' the enduring merit to have drawn for the first time,
with a firm hand and in clear outline, the dividing line between knowl-
edge and fiuth.'* ^ The learned professor of philosophy in the Berlin
University must have forgotten that Thomism, of which he speaks so
fiuniliarly and contemptuously later on,' is based precisely on this dis-
tinction, and that in the opening chapters of the Summa Philosophica
St. Thomas divides, with a firm hand and in unmistakable outline, the
spheres of knowledge and &ith. To Kant, indeed, is due the doubtful
honor of having introduced hopeless confiision into these domains by
relegating the highest objects of knowledge to the r^on oifaithy
and by then transmuting faith into a merely subjective impulse to
accept the existence of those objects apart from an evidently objective
motive.

To many it will be a revelation to learn that *' Kant's philosophy
made it possible to be at once a candid thinker and an honest man of
fiuth," • though it may be true that '* it was a deliverance similar to
that which the Reformation had brought to the German spirit a cen-
tury or two earlier " ; * for one may indeed " in a certain sense regard
Kant as the finisher of what Luther had begun. ^

Paulsen's writings abound in half-truths. For instance: Kant
'< placed morality on a Protestant basis — not works, but the disposition
of the heart. ' ' • Are we to infer that the disposition of the heart is
not a Catholic basis of morality ? Again, ** Protestant, like Catholic,
theology claimed to be absolute revealed truth. ' ' ' When and where

> P. 6. » P. 7. ^Ib. f P. 396.

« Pp. 8-12. * lb. • 16.



Digitized by



Google



CRITICISMS AND NOTES. $77

did "Catholic theology'* make such a claim? The principles, re-
vealed truths, whence theology proceeds, are ''absolute"; but the-
ology or theological science, being an acquirement of the human, an
essentially relative intellect, must itself be relative. An ''absolute
theology" is a contradiction in terms. It would take much more
space than is here at command to unravel the singular tangle of truth
and half-truth and downright error contained in Paulsen's contrast of
Kantism with "Thomism." The following passages, however, may
answer as illustrations requiring no comment: The Catholic school
philosophy "at the end of the last (the eighteenth) century was as
dead as out-worn system ever was " ; and " Thomism does not set the
spirit free, it enslaves it, which, of course, is just its intention." '

PHILOSOFHT : Its Soope and Belations. An Introdnotoiy Oonise of Leo-
tares. By the late Henij Sidgwiok, Enightbridge Professor of Moral
Philosophy in the Uniyersity of Oambridge. London : Haomillan &
Oompany, Ltd. ; Hew Tork ; The MaomillaTi Company. 1902. Pp.
xvii - 252.

OUTLHTES OF METAPETSIOS. By John S. Haokenzie, H.A. Glasg.,
Litt.D. Oamb., Professor of Logio and Philosophy in the Uniyersity
College of South Wales and Honmonthshiref eto. ; author of "An
Introdnotion to Sooial Philosophy " and a "A Manual of Ethics.'^
London : Maomillan & Go. ; New Tork : The Maomillau Oompany.
1902. Pp. xv-172.

Prior to his death the late Professor Henry Sidgwick left dictated
instruction concerning the publication of his posthumous lectures on
philosophy. Professor James Ward has edited and arranged in the
present volume the lectures constituting an Introduction to Philosophy.
They treat under separate headings of the Scope of Philosophy (I-II),
its Relation to Psychology (III), History (VI-VII), and Sociology
(VIII-XI). There are two especial lectures on the Scope of Meta-
physics as such (IV-V), and a final lectiu-e on the Relation of Theo-
retical to Practical Philosophy. Expressing as they do the matiwed
thought of the author of The Methods of Ethics and The Principles of
Political Economy, two works of merited rank in the literature of
their subjects, they, it need hardly be said, reflect a considerable
depth of philosophical insight, a subtle though kindly critical temper,
and an unusual power of lucid exposition. Doubtless if the author
had been spared to bring them under a final revision some details
might have been amended or clarified. Thus whilst the opening

«P. II.



Digitized by



Google



578 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

paragraph lays down the requisites for any definition of philosophy —
clarity, usefulness, and conformity with common usage, one would
like to find a fuller development in the sequent paragraphs of the
author's own formulations ** the study which * takes all knowledge for
its province,'" which ''deals not with the whole matter of any
science, but with the most important of its special notions, its funda-
mental principles, its distinctive method, its main conclusions."'
Some illustrations of those notions , principles^ and conclusions would
have added to the clarity of the definition and would have enabled
the reader the better to appreciate the subsequent critique of Herbert
Spencer's definition of philosophy as "completely unified knowl-
edge."' Perhaps, too, the amending hand of Professor Sidgwick
would have erased the phrase, '' since Descartes, philosophical thought
has found no difficulty in distinguishing the thinking, feeling, willing
thing, that each one of us is conscious of being, fh)m the complex
aggregate of extended solid particles which each of us calls his body. "*
Surely philosophical thought found no difficulty in making so obvious
a distinction long before Descartes. Unfortimately the Cartesian
distinction was a separation, and the reaction by psychologists against
the dualism thus invoked resulted in a materialistic psychology and
an idealistic Monism that obliterated all real distinction between mind
and body.

Professor Mackenzie's Outlines of Metaphysics does n©t fell imder
the class '' Introduction to Philosophy," as this title has come to be
understood. The work is introductory, however, in so fer as it is a
critique of knowledge preparatory to and inclusive of philosophy as
a whole. The author defines Metaphysics not in the Aristotelian
sense as the science of Being, but rather in the Hegelian spirit as the
science which deals with experience as a whole, as a systematic unity.
The special sciences, physics and the rest, treat of this or that de-
partment of experience and from a view-point that is not fully ana-
lyzed. Metaphysics sifts the ultimate conceptions that are left over by
the special sciences. It seeks to know these conceptions not psycho-
logically, /. ^., not as mental processes, but epistemologically, /. ^., as
regards their knowledge value. The work might, therefore, be en-
titled Critics, Objective Logic, or Epistemology. The author gives
a very wide meaning to the term experience. He makes it cover
the ''universe as such," whatever enters into human consciousness

» P. lo. > P. 17. » P. 52.



Digitized by



Google



CRITICISMS AND NOTES, $79

and becomes there unified and systematized. Of all this metaphysics
has to inquire in what sense is it a unity, in what sense a manifold ?
In what sense is it subjective, and in what sense is it objective ? In
what sense is it individual, and in what sense is it universal ? The
reader will doubtless anticipate with the author that metaphysics in
this transcendent light ** bakes no bread, nor does it bring new fects
to our knowledge. Its problem is rather to make our world as a
whole intelligible, to show us what all facts mean and what all bread
is worth.'** Three forms of experience — sense experience, perceptual
and conceptual, answering to as many stages of conscious develop-
ment — are successively analyzed. The method pursued is genetic,
t'.e,, objective experience being revealed in consciousness, the endeavor
is to render an account of the significance of the various elements in
its growth. From this point of view, having set forth his theory on
the genesis of experience in the various forms above indicated, the
work concludes with a criticism of the different ideal constructions as
follows :

1. Perceptual Construction ^ or that which is involved in the simple setting be-
fore OS of a number of objects ;

2. Scientific Construction, or that which is involved in the attempt to connect
objects tc^ether, so as to think of them in relation to one another as parts of a larger
system ;

3. Ethical Construction, or that which is involved in the effort to bring objects
into relation to a final end or good ;

4. yEsthetic Construction, or that which is involved in the apprehension of ob-
jects in relation to feeling, as beautiful or the reverse ;

5. Religious Construction, or that which is involved in the effort to view the
universe as a complete system which is one, beautiful and good ;

6. Speculative Construction, or that which is involved in the systematic attempt
to think out the justification for such a view of the universe.

The broad result reached is ** the general conviction of the reli-
ability of experience as a whole, coupled with a general distrust of
the finality of any particular aspect of it.'* * In other words, it is
claimed that * ' experience is an organic whole in which each part has
value only in the light of all the rest," and unless interpreted in these
all-sided relations ** every special element in it is open to the gravest
suspicion." • Accepting the term experience in the large sense here
attached to it one feels no difficulty in admitting this conclusion.
When one endeavors, however, to follow the individual steps leading
up to the conclusion one finds oneself obliged to part company with
the author on the most vital subjects. For instance, the ''Absolute**

* P. 23. * P. 164. « P. 165.



Digitized by



Google



S8o THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

is described as the ''speculative ideal of a completely coherent system
of experience. * ' ^ We are not sure whether by the Absolute is here
meant God or only some ultimate abstraction or Hegelian Idea. The
former supposition seems justified by the context and by the use of
capitals. As regards the knowability of the "Absolute" in this sense



Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 62 of 78)