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readiness with which Plato's doctrine could thus be turned against Catholicity, as it was by Jews and Greeks, as well as the Patarins, is probably the reason why St. Thomas attached himself so rigidly to the Aristotelian method. It was the only way in his time to escape the abuses of the Platonic method, and to combat with success the heresies which then prevailed.
We avow our preference in many respects for Plato, but we dare not take him for a master. The Fathers to some extent were Platonists, but none of them followed him throughout, and St. Augustine, the greatest of them, always masters him, and never suffers himself to be mastered by him. Such men as St. Augustine are in no danger from Plato, but in the hands of men of more erudition than genius, or more imagination than judgment, Platonism has almost invariably led to heresy, to moral abominations, and armed its followers against the Church of God. We therefore fear that M. Gratry, in following Plato, and giving us theodicy for metaphysics, and love for science, may be opening the way to errors and disorders which no man would deplore more than he.
He is a mystic, and writes from the mystical point of view. But though there is a true mysticism, and though the highest and deepest knowledge of God is the mystic, yet the line which separates true from false mysticism is so subtile, that it is easily mistaken, and none but the spiritually enlightened in an extraordinary degree can be sure of not mistaking it. We are afraid, if we give way to the mystical tendency, and undertake to substitute mysticism for scholasticism in popular philosophy and theology, we shall only be making bad worse. While we would by no means exclude or discourage the mystical, while we would study the Blessed Henry Suso, St. Catharine of Genoa, and St. Theresa, we would retain the speculative, and study diligently St. Thomas; we would aim at exact science at the same time that we gave way to the motions of the deepest and most burning love.
These criticisms we have felt it our duty diffidently to offer on M. Gratry's remarkable book, for we look upon its author as one of the few living men of our times, and as one from whom much is to be expected. He is full of life, zeal, and energy; he is learned, pious, and endowed with a philosophical genius of a high order. He writes with freedom, strength, and eloquence, and wins our heart and kindles our enthusiasm. The defects of his work are comparatively few; its merits are many and great, and to these we shall return in another article, especially to the part of the work that treats of the supernatural, of the higher demands of reason which only the supernatural can satisfy, and of God as the adequate object of the wants of the soul. In the mean time we would direct our readers more particularly to meditation on the adaptedness of our holy religion to the wants deeply felt by all men. The age in which we live is to be pitied rather than declaimed against. It is restless and unhappy. It is seeking rest and finding none. Its heart is loving, but has no object it can love. It is empty and desolate. Its song is the low, melodious wail of sorrow, or the wild lament of despair. Can we not speak to this age a word of hope ? Can we not give to these sorrowing souls the object their hearts crave? We have that word of hope. We know what their hearts need, what it is, and where it is to be found. Their sorrow has been ours, their despair we have felt, and in their unrest we have shared. We have found faith, we have found hope, we have found a sweet, ineffable repose. Why can we not aid them?
The Catholic has, and he only has, what this age needs, what especially our own countrymen want.
Is there no way in which we can convince them of this? Is there no way in which we can speak to their hearts, and be to them messengers of love, joy, and peace? Alas! we feel at times that we have been too ready to despair of them, and too distrustful of the Divine assistance. We fear that we have suffered our hearts to grow cold towards them, and to forget the good which Almighty God may have in store for them. We have been too easily overcome by difficulties, and have been too Joath to make sacrifices to bring souls to God, or rather to persuade them to let God come to them. But it is not too late to redeem the time, and we trust thousands and thousands of young Catholics are growing up among us, who will never be content to let our countrymen perish for the lack of the bread of life.
Art. Il. — The History of Ancient Philosophy. By Dr.
HEINRICH RITTER. Translated from the German by ALEXANDER J. W. MORRISON, B. A., Trinity College, Cambridge. Oxford: Talboys. 1838. 4 vols. Svo.
Much of the erudition of German scholars has of late been devoted to the investigation of the history of philosophy. Of all the works which have appeared on this subject, none can compare in both size and learning with that of Dr. Ritter, in twelve volumes, octavo. The works of Brandis, Deutinger, Rixner, Marbach, Zeller, and Schwegler are smaller and inferior in talent. Brycker's large History has the merits of diligent research and extensive learning, and has been of great service to all who have since written histories of philosophical systems, but is wanting in critical judgment. It is an immense mass of individual and isolated facts, collected by a man of erudition, but not a philosopher. Hegel was a philosopher, but his own peculiar ideas run through his whole work, and color and distort the history to such a degree as to render it almost useless to the student of this branch of history. Ritter is the only one who has produced a history of philosophy which unites great learning and clearness of exposition with considerable philosophical judgment and discrimination, and we do not hesitate to award him the first place among the German historians of philosophy.
Mr. Morrison's translation includes only the Ancient Philosophy, which reaches to the close of Neo-Platonism. The other and better half of the work has not been translated. Of the translation we shall say nothing. We cannot praise' it, and to blame it were now useless, as the translator before this time must be aware of its demerits. It seems a little strange to see a work in bad English coming from a member of Trinity College, Cambridge; but of all the translations we have ever seen, we remember none which reads so badly in our language, except, perhaps, the Oxford translation of Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft.
In the Introduction, the author explains what he considers as strictly belonging to the history of philosophy. He imagines that he is writing a history of a steady progress of philosophical thought. What in earlier times would be regarded as belonging to this history, as being a problem or new evolution of philosophy, afterwards becomes blended with the general mass of traditionary knowledge, and is no longer an ingredient in the history of philosophy. This tradition has its origin in the first discoveries of philosophy. Regarding all the truths of philosophy, that is to say,
all those truths which reason can explain or verisy, as discoverable and actually discovered by reason, the history of philosophy is with him a history of the attempts of the human mind to discover these truths. The sum of these truths constitutes the mass of tradition, the vantage-ground, as he calls it, for further improvement. On this principle, the mass of tradition would be so increased by the accumulation of so many ages, that little would remain for philosophy at the present time, and the questions now discussed by philosophers would be far in advance of the earlier problems of philosophy. But the starting-point of philosophers is now what it was in the earliest infancy of science, unless indeed more be now denied, and more consequently is to be proved now than then. The history of philosophy is a history of the failure, rather than of the success, of the human mind in the attainment of truth. The discovery of truth by the unaided natural reason of man is neither a fact nor a possibility. It is not a fact, for if it were, it would be necessary to admit that man, or the human race in the beginning, was without any positive knowledge. Whereas the tendency of the nations from the very earliest times has been to depart from and lose sight of the , primitive tradition made by God to man. Neither is it possible for the unaided reason of man to advance its stock of knowledge. Reason has but two modes of operation, — the one intuitive, the other reflective. The intuitive faculty is the same in all men, and can discover to one man no more than it does to another. It does not present the intelligible to the mind under a sensible form. The intelligible perceived in intuition cannot become the object of distinct apprehension, or of reflection, until sensibly represented in language. Words are the sensible signs of intelligible truths, and in the revelation of language is included the revelation of intelligible and necessary truth, which, although intuitively evident to reason, is not distinctly apprehended by it without the sensible sign thus revealed. We do not therefore agree with Dr. Ritter in his theory of the spider-like evolution of philosophy by the human mind, but hold that the necessary truths which constitute philosophy were originally revealed to man. That they are apprehended by reason, and are intuitively evident to it, we also maintain, and when represented by the sensible sign of language, they are the object of reflection. Hence we admit no progress, in a strict sense of the word, in philosophy. For man originally possessed all the truths of philosophy. That one particular nation, or one particular school, may have made progress, cannot be denied, but this is only a particular progress, and is more properly a returning to the wisdom of those who went before, than an advance towards something new. The human race is continually advancing and receding. There is a progress at one time, and a retrogression at another. One epoch may be regarded as the result of a progress in relation to another, but, if compared with some other still earlier, will be found to be no progress. In Plato and Aristotle we find Greek philosophy far in advance of what it was a century before, but in the later philosophers of Greece we see it decline to the lowest state of its previous existence.
The history of Greek philosophy begins with Thales. He was the first to inquire into the origin of the universe. Greek philosophy first spoke in maxims and gnomes, in fables and dogmatical precepts.
Its earliest language was poetry, its character was practical. Of the seven wise men of Greece, six acquired that name by mature experience and the practical wisdom resulting from it, by their prudence and skill in the affairs of state. Thales was the first to give it a distinct form, and to detach it from the poetical mythology and dogmatical morality with which it was before him so identified as to lose all claim to the character of philosophy. Thales was of the Phænician family of the Thelidæ, who deduced their origin from Cadmus and Agenor. Some of the ancient writers call him a Phænician, but he was born at Miletus on the Menander, at that time the most important city in Ionia. His birth is placed in the first year of the thirtyfifth Olympiad (640 B. C.). It is asserted with much probability that he travelled into Egypt and there learned the mathematical sciences. He is said to have introduced astronomy into Greece, and to have divided the year into