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obscurations of sense, which eclipse this Truth within us, so that we may see it, and believe it not only to be true, but the foundation and essence of all other truth, may, in such language as we are here using, be said to be the problem of Critical Philosophy.
In this point of view, Kant's system may be thought to have a remote affinity to those of Malebranche and Descartes. But if they in some measure agree as to their aim, there is the widest difference as to the means. We state what to ourselves has long appeared the grand characteristic of Kant's Philosophy, when we mention his distinction, seldom perhaps expressed so broadly, but uniformly implied, between Understanding and Reason (Verstand and Vernunft). To most of our readers this may seem a distinction without a difference: nevertheless, to the Kantists it is by no means such. They believe that both Understanding and Reason are organs, or rather we should say modes of operation, by which the mind discovers truth; but they think that their manner of proceeding is essentially different: that their provinces are separable and distinguishable, nay, that it is of the last importance to separate and distinguish them. Reason, the Kantists say, is of a higher nature than Understanding; it works by subtler methods, on higher objects, and requires a far finer culture for its developement, indeed in many men it is never developed at all; but its results are no less certain, nay rather they are much more so; for Reason discerns Truth itself, the absolutely and primitively True; while Understanding discerns only relations, and cannot decide without if. The proper province of Understanding is all strictly speaking real, practical, and material knowledge, Mathematics, Physics, Political Economy, the adaptation of means to ends in the whole business of life. In this province it is the strength and universal implement of the mind; an indispensable servant, without which, indeed, existence itself would be impossible. Let it not step beyond this province however, not usurp the province of Reason, which it is appointed to obey, and cannot rule over, without ruin to the whole spiritual man. Should Understanding attempt to prove the existence of God, it ends, if thoroughgoing and consistent with itself, in Atheism, or a faint possible Theism, which scarcely differs from this: should it speculate of Virtue, it ends in Utility, making Prudence and a sufficiently cunning love of Self the highest good. Consult Understanding about the Beauty of Poetry, and it asks, where is this Beauty? or discovers it at length in rhythms and fitnesses, and male and female rhymes. Witness also its everlasting paradoxes on the
Necessity and Freedom of the Will; its ominous silence on the end and meaning of man; and the enigma which, under such inspection, the whole purport of existence becomes.
Nevertheless, say the Kantists, there is a truth in these things. Virtue is Virtue and not Prudence; not less surely than the angle in a semicircle is a right angle, and no trapezium: Shakspeare is a Poet, and Boileau is none, think of it as you may: Neither is it more certain that I myself exist, than that God exists, infinite, eternal, invisible, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. To discern these truths is the province of Reason, which therefore is to be cultivated as the highest faculty in man. Not by logic and argument does it work; yet surely and clearly may it be taught to work: and its domain lies in that higher region whither logic and argument cannot reach ; in that holier region, where Poetry, and Virtue, and Divinity abide, in whose presence Understanding wavers and recoils, dazzled into utter darkness by that sea of light,' at once the fountain and the termination of all true knowledge.
Will the Kantists forgive us for the loose and popular manner in which we must here speak of these things, to bring them in any measure before the eyes of our readers?-It may illustrate this distinction still farther, if we say that, in the opinion of a Kantist, the French are of all European nations the most gifted with Understanding, and the most destitute of Reason;* that David Hume had no forecast of this latter, and that Shakspeare and Luther dwelt perennially in its purest sphere.
Of the vast, nay, in these days boundless, importance of this distinction, could it be scientifically established, we need remind no thinking man. For the rest, far be it from the reader to suppose that this same Reason is but a new appearance, under another name, of our own old Wholesome Prejudice,' so well known to most of us! Prejudice, wholesome or unwholesome, is a personage for whom the German Philosophers disclaim all shadow of respect; nor do the vehement among them hide their deep disdain for all and sundry who fight under her flag. Truth is to be loved purely and solely because it is true. With moral, political, religious considerations, high and dear as they may otherwise be, the Philosopher as such has no concern. To look
Schelling has said as much or more (Methode des Academischen Studium, pp. 105-111), in terms which we could wish we had space to transcribe.
VOL. XLVI. NO. 92.
at them would but perplex him, and distract his vision from the task in his hands. Calmly he constructs his theorem, as the Geometer does his, without hope or fear, save that he may not find the solution; and stands in the middle, by the one, it may be, accused as an Infidel, by the other as an Enthusiast and a Mystic, till the tumult ceases, and what was true, is and continues true to the end of all time.
Such are some of the high and momentous questions treated of, by calm, earnest, and deeply meditative men, in this system of Philosophy, which to the wiser minds among us is still unknown, and by the unwiser is spoken of and regarded as their nature requires. The profoundness, subtlety, extent of investigation, which the answer of these questions presupposes, need not be farther pointed out. With the truth or falsehood of the system we have here, as already stated, no concern: our aim has been, so far as might be done, to show it as it appeared to us; and to ask such of our readers as pursue these studies, whether this also is not worthy of some study? The reply we must now leave to themselves.
As an appendage to the charge of Mysticism brought against the Germans, there is often added the seemingly incongruous one of Irreligion. On this point also we had much to say; but must for the present decline it. Meanwhile, let the reader be assured, that to the charge of Irreligion, as to so many others, the Germans will plead not guilty. On the contrary, they will not scruple to assert that their literature is, in a positive sense, religious; nay, perhaps to maintain, that if ever neighbouring nations are to recover that pure and high spirit of devotion, the loss of which, however we may disguise it or pretend to overlook it, can be hidden from no observant mind, it must be by travelling, if not on the same path, at least in the same direction, in which the Germans have already begun to travel. We shall add, that the Religion of Germany is a subject not for slight but for deep study, and if we mistake not, may in some degree reward the deepest,
Here, however, we must close our examination or defence. We have spoken freely, because we felt distinctly, and thought the matter worthy of being stated, and more fully inquired into. Farther than this, we have no quarrel for the Germans: we would have justice done to them, as to all men and all things; but for their literature or character, we profess no sectarian or exclusive preference. We think their recent Poetry, indeed, superior to the recent poetry of any other nation; but taken as a
whole, inferior to that of several; inferior not to our own only, but to that of Italy, nay, perhaps to that of Spain. Their Philosophy, too, must still be regarded as uncertain; at best only the beginning of better things. But surely even this is not to be neglected. A little light is precious in great darkness: nor amid the myriads of Poetasters and Philosophes, are Poets and Philosophers so numerous that we should reject such, when they speak to us in the hard, but manly, deep, and expressive tones of that old Saxon speech, which is also our mothertongue.
We confess, the present aspect of spiritual Europe might fill a melancholic observer with doubt and foreboding. It is mournful to see so many noble, tender, and high-aspiring minds deserted of that religious light which once guided all such; standing sorrowful on the scene of past convulsions and controversies, as on a scene blackened and burnt up with fire; mourning in the darkness, because there is desolation, and no home for the soul; or what is worse, pitching tents among the ashes, and kindling weak earthly lamps which we are to take for stars. This darkness is but transitory obscuration; these ashes are the soil of future herbage and richer harvests. Religion, Poetry is not dead; it will never die. Its dwelling and birthplace is in the soul of man, and it is eternal as the being of man. In any point of Space, in any section of Time, let there be a living Man; and there is an Infinitude above him and beneath him, and an Eternity encompasses him on this hand and on that; and tones of Sphere-music, and tidings from loftier Worlds, will flit round him, if he can but listen, and visit him with holy influences, even in the thickest press of trivialities, or the din of busiest life. Happy the man, happy the nation that can hear these tidings; that has them written in fit characters, legible to every eye, and the solemn import of them present at all moments to every heart! That there is, in these days, no nation so happy, is too clear; but that all nations, and ourselves in the van, are, with more or less discernment of its nature, struggling towards this happiness, is the hope and the glory of our time. To us, as to others, success, at a distant or a nearer day, cannot be uncertain. Meanwhile, the first condition of success is, that in striving honestly ourselves, we honestly acknowledge the striving of our neighbour; that with a Will unwearied in seeking Truth, we have a Sense open for it, wheresoever and howsoever it may arise.
ART. III.-Six Discourses delivered before the Royal Society, at their Anniversary Meetings, on the Award of the Royal and Copley Medals, preceded by an Address to the Society on the Progress and Prospects of Science. By Sir HUMPHRY DAvy, President of the Royal Society. 4to. pp. 148. London. Murray. 1827.
HE unusual length of time which has lately elapsed since this highly distinguished person has contributed to the stores of Physical Science, is, we fear, but too well accounted for by the infirm state of his bodily health, requiring him to lead the life of a traveller and an invalid. Nor will the scientific world be willing to receive the contents, elegant though they be, of this volume, as a substitute for the more weighty matters of Philosophy. It exhibits the circumstances attending upon the representation of the Presidency-the trappings of his office-not the substantial labour of the Academician; we have this eminent chemist only doing the honours of the chair, which any man could do well enough, and many little men could do far better than he; not the philosopher on his proper ground-doing the work of his laboratory, wielding the great agents of heat and electricity, and pursuing those astonishing discoveries, with which their agency has enabled him beyond any other living man to enrich the domains of science.
This volume makes us acquainted with a fact, certainly hitherto little known, that of late years Sir Joseph Banks had revived a practice formerly prevalent,—at least it was used by Sir John Pringle, though subsequently dropt,-of pronouncing a Discourse as often as he gave away the annual medal upon Sir Godfrey Copley's donation. Sir Humphry bestows several tributes of applause upon his eminent predecessor's success in this department of his official duties; and commemorates his pe'culiar sagacity and happy talent of illustration,' in discoursing upon scientific matters. Sagacity, we should have expected from that high quarter, certainly; but that any very felicitous illustration should proceed from thence, was less to be dreamt of. Sir Joseph Banks never, we believe, appeared before the world as an author; unless he may have described some plant or some insect in a letter to a friend, afterwards made public, and now forgotten-if he ever even did so much. To begin at this time of day praising his powers of eloquence and description is somewhat out of date; he was a man of many and considerable merits; he was a liberal patron of science; he devoted a large fortune, and all his personal attention, as well as influence,