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according to reason, and contrary to reason. Our conviction that God exists
is according to reason; the belief that there are more gods than one, or
that a body can be in two different places at the same time, contrary
to reason; the former is a truth which can be demonstrated on rational
grounds, the latter an assumption incompatible with our clear and distinct
ideas. In the one case revelation confirms a proposition of which we
were already certain; in the other an alleged revelation is incapable
of depriving our certain knowledge of its force. Above reason are those
principles whose probability and truth cannot be shown by the natural use
of our faculties, as that the dead shall rise again and the account of the
fall of part of the angels. Among the things which are not contrary to
reason belong miracles, for they contradict opinion based on the usual
course of nature, it is true, but not our certain knowledge; in spite of
their supernatural character they deserve willing acceptance, and receive
it, when they are well attested, whereas principles contrary to reason must
be unconditionally rejected as a revelation from God. Locke's demand for
the subjection of faith to rational criticism assures him an honorable
place in the history of English deism. He enriched the philosophy of
religion by two treatises of his own: _The Reasonableness of Christianity_,
1695, and three _Letters on Tolerance_, 1689-1692. The former transfers the
center of gravity of the Christian religion from history to the doctrine of
redemption; the _Letters_ demand religious freedom, mutual tolerance among
the different sects, and the separation of Church and State. Those sects
alone are to receive no tolerance which themselves exercise none, and which
endanger the well-being of society; together with atheists, who are
incapable of taking oaths. In other respects it is the duty of the state to
protect all confessions and to favor none.

%(b) Practical Philosophy.% - Locke contributed to practical philosophy
important suggestions concerning freedom, morality, politics, and
education. Freedom is the "power to begin or forbear, continue or put an
end to" actions (thoughts and motions). It is not destroyed by the fact
that the will is always moved by desire, more exactly, by uneasiness under
present circumstances, and that the decision is determined by the judgment
of the understanding. Although the result of examination is itself
dependent on the unalterable relations of ideas, it is still in our power
to decide whether we will consider at all, and what ideas we will take into
consideration. Not the thought, not the determination of the will, is free,
but the person, the mind; this has the power to suspend the prosecution of
desire, and by its judgment to determine the will, even in opposition
to inclination. Four stages must, consequently, be distinguished in the
volitional process: desire or uneasiness; the deliberative combination of
ideas; the judgment of the understanding; determination. Freedom has its
place at the beginning of the second stage: it is open to me to decide
whether to proceed at all to consideration and final judgment concerning a
proposed action; thus to prevent desire from directly issuing in movements;
and, according to the result of my examination, perhaps, to substitute for
the act originally desired an opposite one. Without freedom, moral judgment
and responsibility would be impossible. The above appears to us to
represent the essence of Locke's often vacillating discussion of freedom
(II. 21). Desire is directed to pleasure; the will obeys the understanding,
which is exalted above motives of pleasure and the passions. Everything is
physically good which occasions and increases pleasure in us, which removes
or diminishes pain, or contributes to the attainment of some other good and
the avoidance of some other evil. Actions, on the contrary, are morally
good when they conform to a rule by which they are judged. Whoever
earnestly meditates on his welfare will prefer moral or rational good to
sensuous good, since the former alone vouchsafes true happiness. God has
most intimately united virtue and general happiness, since he has made the
preservation of human society dependent on the exercise of virtue.

The mark of a law for free beings is the fact that it apportions reward for
obedience and punishment for disobedience. The laws to which an action must
conform in order to deserve the predicate "good" are three in number
(II. 28): by the divine law "men judge whether their actions are sins
or duties"; by the civil law, "whether they be criminal or innocent"
(deserving of punishment or not); by the law of opinion or reputation,
"whether they be virtues or vices." The first of these laws threatens
immorality with future misery; the second, with legal punishments; the
third, with the disapproval of our fellow-men.

The third law, the law of opinion or reputation, called also philosophical,
coincides on the whole, though not throughout, with the first, the divine
law of nature, which is best expressed in Christianity, and which is the
true touchstone of the moral character of actions. While Locke, in his
polemic against innate ideas, had emphasized the diversity of moral
judgments among individuals and nations (as a result of which an action is
condemned in one place and praised as virtuous in another), he here gives
prominence to the fact of general agreement in essentials, since it is only
natural that each should encourage by praise and esteem that which is to
his advantage, while virtue evidently conduces to the good of all who
come into contact with the virtuous. Amid the greatest diversity of moral
judgments virtue and praise, vice and blame, go together, while in general
that is praised which is really praiseworthy - even the vicious man approves
the right and condemns that which is faulty, at least in others. Locke was
the first to call attention to general approval as an external mark of
moral action, a hint which the Scottish moralists subsequently exploited.
The objection that he reduced morality to the level of the conventional is
unjust, for the law of opinion and reputation did not mean for him the
true principle of morality, but only that which controls the majority of
mankind - If anyone is inclined to doubt that commendation and disgrace are
sufficient motives to action, he does not understand mankind; there is
hardly one in ten thousand insensible enough to endure in quiet the
constant disapproval of society. Even if the lawbreaker hopes to escape
punishment at the hands of the state, and puts out of mind the thought of
future retribution, he can never escape the disapproval of his misdeeds
on the part of his fellows. In entire harmony with these views is Locke's
advice to educators, that they should early cultivate the love of esteem in
their pupils.

Of the four principles of morals which Locke employs side by side, and in
alternation, without determining their exact relations - the reason, the
will of God, the general good (and, deduced from this, the approval of
our fellow-men), self-love - the latter two possess only an accessory
significance, while the former two co-operate in such a way that the one
determines the content of the good and the other confirms it and gives
it binding authority. The Christian religion does the reason a threefold
service - it gives her information concerning our duty, which she could have
reached herself, indeed, without the help of revelation, but not with
the same certitude and rapidity; it invests the good with the majesty of
absolute obligation by proclaiming it as the command of God; it increases
the motives to morality by its doctrines of immortality and future
retribution. Although Locke thus intimately joins virtue with earthly joy
and eternal happiness, and although he finds in the expectation of heaven
or hell a welcome support for the will in its conflict with the passions,
we must remember that he values this regard for the results and rewards of
virtue only as a subsidiary motive, and does not esteem it as in itself
ethical: eternal happiness forms, as it were, the "dowry" of virtue,
which adds to its true value in the eyes of fools and the weak, though it
constitutes neither its essence nor its basis. Virtue seems to the wise man
beautiful and valuable enough even without this, and yet the commendations
of philosophers gain for her but few wooers. The crowd is attracted to her
only when it is made clear to it that virtue is the "best policy."

In politics Locke is an opponent of both forms of absolutism, the despotic
absolutism of Hobbes and the patriarchal absolutism of Filmer (died 1647;
his _Patriarcha_ declared hereditary monarchy a divine institution), and
a moderate exponent of the liberal tendencies of Milton (1608-74) and
Algernon Sidney (died 1683; _Discourses concerning Government_). The two
_Treatises on Civil Government_, 1690, develop, the first negatively, the
second positively, the constitutional theory with direct reference to the
political condition of England at the time. All men are born free and with
like capacities and rights. Each is to preserve his own interests, without
injuring those of others. The right to be treated by every man as a
rational being holds even prior to the founding of the state; but then
there is no authoritative power to decide conflicts. The state of nature is
not in itself a state of war, but it would lead to this, if each man should
himself attempt to exercise the right of self-protection against injury. In
order to prevent acts of violence there is needed a civil community, based
on a free contract, to which each individual member shall transfer his
freedom and power. Submission to the authority of the state is a free act,
and, by the contract made, natural rights are guarded, not destroyed;
political freedom is obedience to self-imposed law, subordination to the
common will expressing itself in the majority. The political power is
neither tyrannical, for arbitrary rule is no better than the state of
nature, nor paternal, for rulers and subjects are on an equality in the use
of the reason, which is not the case with parents and children. The
supreme power is the legislative, intrusted by the community to its chosen
representatives - the laws should aim at the general good. Subordinate
to the legislative power, and to be kept separate from it, come the two
executing powers, which are best united in a single hand (the king), viz.,
the executive power (administrative and judicial), which carries the laws
into effect, and the federative power, which defends the community against
external foes. The ruler is subject to the law. If the government, through
violation of the law, has become unworthy of the power intrusted to it, and
has forfeited it, sovereign authority reverts to the source whence it
was derived, that is, to the people. The people decides whether its
representatives and the monarch have deserved the confidence placed in
them, and has the right to depose them, if they exceed their authority. As
the sworn obedience (of the subjects) is to the law alone, the ruler who
acts contrary to law has lost the right to govern, has put himself in a
state of hostility to the people, and revolution becomes merely necessary
defense against aggression.

Montesquieu made these political ideas of Locke the common property of
Europe.[1] Rousseau did a like service for Locke's pedagogical views, given
in the modest but important _Thoughts concerning Education_, 1693. The
aim of education should not be to instill anything into the pupil, but to
develop everything from him; it should guide and not master him, should
develop his capacities in a natural way, should rouse him to independence,
not drill him into a scholar. In order to these ends thorough and
affectionate consideration of his individuality is requisite, and private
instruction is, therefore, to be preferred to public instruction. Since it
is the business of education to make men useful members of society, it must
not neglect their physical development. Learning through play and object
teaching make the child's task a delight; modern languages are to be
learned more by practice than by systematic study. The chief difference
between Locke and Rousseau is that the former sets great value on arousing
the sense of esteem, while the latter entirely rejects this as an
educational instrument.

[Footnote 1: Cf. Theod. Pietsch, _Ueber das Verhältniss der politischen
Theorien Lockes zu Montesquieus Lehre von der Teilung der Gewalten_ Berlin
dissertation, Breslau, 1887.]


CHAPTER V.

ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.

Besides the theory of knowledge, which forms the central doctrine in his
system, Locke had discussed the remaining branches of philosophy, though in
less detail, and, by his many-sided stimulation, had posited problems
for the Illumination movement in England and in France. Now the several
disciplines take different courses, but the after-influence of his powerful
mind is felt on every hand. The development of deism from Toland on is
under the direct influence of his "rational Christianity"; the ethics of
Shaftesbury stands in polemic relation to his denial of everything innate;
and while Berkeley and Hume are deducing the consequences of his theory of
knowledge, Hartley derives the impulse to a new form of psychology from his
chapter on the association of ideas.


%1. Natural Philosophy and Psychology.%

In Locke's famous countryman, Isaac Newton (1642-1727),[1] the modern
investigation of nature attains the level toward which it had striven, at
first by wishes and demands, gradually, also, in knowledge and achievement,
since the end of the mediaeval period. Mankind was not able to discard at
a stroke its accustomed Aristotelian view of nature, which animated things
with inner, spirit-like forces. A full century intervened between Telesius
and Newton, the concept of natural law requiring so long a time to break
out of its shell. A tremendous revolution in opinion had to be effected
before Newton could calmly promulgate his great principle, "Abandon
substantial forms and occult qualities and reduce natural phenomena to
mathematical laws," before he could crown the discoveries of Galileo and
Kepler with his own. For this successful union of Bacon's experimental
induction with the mathematical deduction of Descartes, this combination of
the analytic and the synthetic methods, which was shown in the demand
for, and the establishment of, mathematically formulated natural laws,
presupposes that nature is deprived of all inner life [2] and all
qualitative distinctions, that all that exists is compounded of uniformly
acting parts, and that all that takes place is conceived as motion. With
this Hobbes's programme of a mechanical science of nature is fulfilled. The
heavens and the earth are made subject to the same law of gravitation. How
far Newton himself adhered to the narrow meaning of mechanism (motion from
pressure and impulse), is evident from the fact that, though he is often
honored as the creator of the dynamical view of nature, he rejected _actio
in distans_ as absurd, and deemed it indispensable to assume some "cause"
of gravity (consisting, probably, in the impact of imponderable material
particles). It was his disciples who first ventured to proclaim gravity as
the universal force of matter, as the "primary quality of all bodies" (so
Roger Cotes in the preface to the second edition of the _Principia_, 1713).

[Footnote 1: 1669-95 professor of mathematics in Cambridge, later resident
in London; 1672, member, and, 1703, president of the Royal Society. Chief
work, _Philosophic Naturalis Principia Mathematica_, 1687. _Works_, 1779
_seq_. On Newton cf. K. Snell, 1843; Durdik, _Leibniz und Newton_, 1869;
Lange, _History of Materialism_, vol. i. p. 306 _seq_.]

[Footnote 2: That the mathematical view of nature, since it leaves room for
quantitative distinctions alone, is equivalent to an examination of nature
had been clearly recognized by Poiret. As he significantly remarked: The
principles of the Cartesian physics relate merely to the "cadaver" of
nature _(Erud_., p. 260).]

Newton resembles Boyle in uniting profound piety with the rigor of
scientific thought. He finds the most certain proof for the existence of
an intelligent creator in the wonderful arrangement of the world-machine,
which does not need after-adjustment at the hands of its creator, and whose
adaptation he praises as enthusiastically as he unconditionally rejects
the mingling of teleological considerations in the explanation of physical
phenomena. By this "physico-theological" argument he furnishes a welcome
support to deism. While the finite mind perceives in the sensorium of the
brain the images of objects which come to it from the senses, God has all
things in himself, is immediately present in all, and cognizes them without
sense-organs, the expanse of the universe forming his sensorium.

* * * * *

The transfer of mechanical views to psychical phenomena was also
accompanied by the conviction that no danger to faith in God would
result therefrom, but rather that it would aid in its support. The chief
representatives of this movement, which followed the example of Gay,
were the physician, David Hartley[1] (1704-57), and his pupil, Joseph
Priestley,[2] a dissenting minister and natural scientist (born 1733, died
in Philadelphia 1804; the discoverer of oxygen gas, 1774).

The fundamental position of these psychologists is expressed in two
principles: (1) all cognitive and motive life is based on the mechanism of
psychical elements, the highest and most complex inner phenomena (thoughts,
feelings, volitions) are produced by the combination of simple ideas,
that is, they arise through the "association of ideas "; (2) all inner
phenomena, the complex as well as the simple, are accompanied by, or rather
depend on, more or less complicated physical phenomena, viz., nervous
processes and brain vibrations. Although Hartley and Priestley are agreed
in their demand for an associational and physiological treatment of
psychology, and in the attempt to give one, they differ in this, that
Hartley cautiously speaks only of a parallelism, a correspondence between
mental and cerebral processes, and rejects the materialistic interpretation
of inner phenomena, pointing out that the heterogeneity of motion and ideas
forbids the reduction of the latter to the former, and that psychological
analysis never reaches corporeal but only psychical elements. Moreover, it
is only with reluctance that, conscious of the critical character of the
conclusion, he admits the dependence of brain vibrations on the mechanical
laws of the material world and the thoroughgoing determinateness of the
human will, consoling himself with the belief that moral responsibility
nevertheless remains intact. Priestley, on the contrary, boldly avows the
materialistic and deterministic consequences of his position, holds that
psychical phenomena are not merely accompanied by material motions but
consist in them (thought is a function of the brain), and makes psychology,
as the physics of the nerves, a part of physiology. The denial of
immortality and the divine origin of the world is, however, by no means
to follow from materialism. Priestley not only combated the atheism of
Holbach, but also entered the deistic ranks with works of his own on
Natural Religion and the Corruptions of Christianity.

[Footnote 1: Hartley, _Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duties, his
Expectations_. 1749.]

[Footnote 2: Priestley, _Hartley's Theory of the Human Mind on the
Principles of the Association of Ideas_, 1775; _Disquisitions relating to
Matter and Spirit_, 1777; _The Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity_, 1777;
_Free Discussions of the Doctrines of Materialism_, 1778 (against Richard
Price's _Letters on Materialism and Philosophical Necessity_). Cf. on
both Schoenlank's dissertation, _Hartley und Priestley, die Begründer des
Assoziationismus in England_, 1882.]

As early as in Hartley[1] the principle, which is so important for ethics,
appears that things and actions (_e.g._, promotion of the good of others)
which at first are sought and done because they are means to our own
enjoyment, in time come to have a direct worth of their own, apart from the
original egoistic end. James Mill (1829) has repeated this thought in later
times. As fame becomes an immediate object of desire to the ambitious man,
and gold to the miser, so, through association, the impulse toward that
which will secure approval may be transformed into the endeavor after that
which deserves approval.

[Footnote 1: Cf. Jodl, _Geschichte der Ethik_, vol. i. p. 197 _seq_.]

Among later representatives of the Associational school we may mention
Erasmus Darwin _(Zoönomia, or the Laws of Organic Life_, 1794-96).


%2. Deism%.

As Bacon and Descartes had freed natural science, Hobbes, the state, and
Grotius, law from the authority of the Church and had placed them on an
independent basis, _i.e._, the basis of nature and reason, so deism[1]
seeks to free religion from Church dogma and blind historical faith, and to
deduce it from natural knowledge. In so far as deism finds both the source
and the test of true religion in reason, it is rationalism; in so far as it
appeals from the supernatural light of revelation and inspiration to the
natural light of reason, it is naturalism; in so far as revelation and its
records are not only not allowed to restrict rational criticism, but are
made the chief object of criticism, its adherents are freethinkers.

[Footnote 1: Cf. Lechler's _Geschichte des Englischen Deismus_, 1841, which
is rigorously drawn from the sources. [Hunt, _History of Religious Thought
in England_, 1871-73 [1884]; Leslie Stephen, _History of English Thought in
the Eighteenth Century_, 1876 [1880]; Cairns, _Unbelief in the Eighteenth
Century_, 1881.]]

The general principles of deism may be compressed into a few theses. There
is a natural religion, whose essential content is morality; this comprises
not much more than the two maxims, Believe in God and Do your duty.

Positive religions are to be judged by this standard. The elements in them
which are added to natural religion, or conflict with it, are superfluous
and harmful additions, arbitrary decrees of men, the work of cunning rulers
and deceitful priests. Christianity, which in its original form was the
perfect expression of the true religion of reason, has experienced great
corruptions in its ecclesiastical development, from which it must now be
purified.

These principles are supported by the following arguments: Truth is one
and there is but one true religion. If the happiness of men depends on the
fulfilment of her commands, these must be comprehensible to every man and
must have been communicated to him; and since a special revelation and
legislation could not come to the knowledge of all, they can be no other
than the laws of duty inscribed on the human heart. In order to salvation,
then, we need only to know God as creator and judge, and to fulfill his
commands, _i.e._. to live a moral life. The one true religion has been
communicated to man in two forms, through the inner natural revelation of
reason, and the outer historical revelation of the Gospel. Since both have
come from God they cannot be contradictory. Accordingly natural religion
and the true one among the positive religions do not differ in their
content, but only in the manner of their promulgation. Reason tries
historical religion by the standard furnished by natural religion, and
distinguishes actual from asserted revelation by the harmony of its
contents with reason: the deist believes in the Bible because of the
reasonableness of its teachings; he does not hold these teachings true
because they are found in the Bible. If a positive religion contains
less than natural religion it is incomplete; if it contains more it is
tyrannical, since it imposes unnecessary requirements. The authority of
reason to exercise the office of a judge in regard to the credibility of
revelation is beyond doubt; indeed, apart from it there is no means of
attaining truth, and the acceptance of an external revelation as genuine,
and not merely as alleged to be such, is possible only for those who have
already been convinced of God's existence by the inner light of reason.

To these logical considerations is added an historical position, which,
though only cursorily indicated at the beginning, is evidenced in



Online LibraryRichard FalckenbergHistory of Modern Philosophy From Nicolas of Cusa to the Present Time → online text (page 18 of 62)