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2 clectic Review.
ART. I.-1. Euvres de Descartes. Nouvelle Edition, collationée sur les
meilleurs Textes, et précédée d'une Introduction par M. Jules
Simon. Paris : Charpentier. 1851. 2. Histoire et Critique de la Révolution Cartésienne. Ouvrage
couronné par l'Institut. Par M. Francisque Bouillier, Ancien
Elève de l'Ecole Normale. Paris : Joubert. 1842. 3. Fragments de Philosophie Cartésienne. Par Victor Cousin.
Paris : Charpentier. 1845.
and Knox. 1850. In the estimation of many large and sanguine minds, metaphysics, in the old-fashioned sense of the term, has long ceased to possess claim on attention. The assumptions of alchemy and astrology have vanished before the generalizations of those positive sciences of which they were the forerunners. Augury has given place to physiology ; the law of the supposed transmutation of metals is now superseded by the law of definite proportions ; and the occult influences of the stars by the registered perturbations of the planets. The science of metaphysics, it is assumed, bears to the investigations of modern psychology precisely the same relationship, and must soon abdicate the
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tottering throne on which it has been dreaming for ages. Philosophy, these great men contend, has long since renounced all hope of arriving at the nature of things, or at the knowledge of things per se; and even Bacon understood by forma, by the latens schematismus, and the latens processus, nothing more than we mean by the elements of which anybody is composed, the laws that govern its action, and the facts that are developed in its study; and, therefore, philosophy should, by becoming strictly inductive, renounce all opinion, and all hope of forming opinion, on the nature of mind, or the relations of mind and matter, of God and the universe.
It is not within our province to enter, at much length, into these discussions; but we cannot resist the conviction that to entertain them at all is to acknowledge that we have a greater power than the conclusions of the anti-metaphysicians seem to allow. We cannot defend the opinion that philosophy is only the science of laws without assuming a contradiction of that maxim, without involving ourselves in deeper problems than we profess to consider consistent with it.
It appears to us that metaphysics can never become a purely inductive science of laws, will never end in a mere register of antecedents and consequents, of Baconian causes and effects, that the mind is never sufficiently isolated from all influences but one, for us to calculate upon the actual effects of that one. If we could put pure mind into some crucible, and subject it to the influence of separate causes; if we could stand upon the border land of mind and matter, and survey each separately and trace their mutual action; if we could form a calculus with which safely to analyze our mental operations; if, independently of consciousness, we could experiment on our own thoughts, and unwind the genesis of ideas, and if the combining elements of our calculation were generic instead of individual-mere determinate constants, instead of variable and complicated factors, the thing would be done; but this condition would satisfy the metaphysician as much as the mere mental physiologist; and it is because this eminence has always seemed inaccessible, and because the attempts to sketch the wide panorama from its summit have ever proved hopeless, that the course of philosophical enterprise has been so circular, and has appeared so frequently to return to the very point from which it started some centuries ago. It is granted that the explanations of those who have looked upon philosophy as the science of being' have frequently been absurd, and when subjected to the sledgehammer of a merciless logic, have been shivered for a while into a thousand pieces; stretched on the inquisitorial rack, the thews of Anakim' have snapped, the joints of very Samsons