Initiation into Philosophy
Emile Faguet

Part 2 out of 3

yet stranger phantasies, passing from absolute scepticism through mysticism
to magi and demonology; in his own time and in subsequent centuries
enjoying the reputation of a devil incarnate as man.



It Is Fairly Accurate to Consider that from the Point of
View of Philosophy, the Middle Ages Lasted until Descartes.

Free-thinkers More or Less Disguised.

Partisans of Reason Apart from Faith, of Observation,
and Of Experiment.

audacity of philosophy rapidly increased. Learned and convinced
Aristotelians were bent, either from sheer love of truth or from a more
secret purpose, on demonstrating to what extent Aristotle, accurately read,
was opposed to the teaching of the Church. For instance, Pomponazzo
revealed that nothing could be drawn from Aristotle in favour of the
immortality of the soul, in which he himself believed fervently, but in
which Aristotle did not believe, hence it was necessary to choose between
the Church and Aristotle; that without the immortality of the soul there
could be no rewards beyond the grave, which was entirely his own opinion,
but whoever should desire to offer excuses for Aristotle could say it was
precisely the existence of punishments and rewards which deprived virtue of
existence, which did away with virtue, since the good that is done for the
sake of reward or from fear of punishment is no longer good; that, still
according to Aristotle, there could never be miracles; that he, Pomponazzo,
believed in all the miracles recorded in the Scriptures; but that Aristotle
would not have believed in them, and could not have believed in them, a
fact which demanded consideration, not assuredly in order to reject belief
in miracles, but in order not to bestow on Aristotle that confidence which
for so long had been too readily placed in him.

In the same way, he took up again the eternal question of the prescience of
God and of human liberty, and showed that no matter what had been said it
was necessary to choose: either we are free and God is not omnipotent, or
God is omnipotent and we are not free. To regard as true this latter
hypothesis, towards which the philosopher evidently leans, would cause God
to be the author of evil and of sin. It would not be impossible for God to
be the author of evil as an essential condition of good, for if evil were
not to exist then there could not be good; nor would it be impossible that
He should be the author, not of sin, but of the possibility of sin in order
that virtue might be possible, there being no virtue where it is impossible
to commit sin; but therein lies a mystery which faith alone can solve, and
which Aristotle at any rate has not solved, therefore let us not place
reliance on Aristotle.

This disguised freethinker, for he does not appear to me to be anything
else, was one of the most original thinkers of the period intermediate
between the Middle Ages and Descartes.

MICHAEL SERVETUS; VANINI.--Such instances of temerity were sometimes
fatal to their authors. Michael Servetus, a very learned Spanish physician
who perhaps discovered the circulation of the blood before Harvey,
disbelieved in the Trinity and in the divinity of Jesus, and, as he was a
Platonist, perceived no intermediaries between God and man save
ideas. Persecuted by the Catholics, he sought refuge at Geneva, believing
Calvin to be more merciful than the Inquisitors, and Calvin burned him

Vanini, half a century later, that is at the commencement of the
seventeenth, a restless, vain, and insolent man, after a life full of
sudden changes of fortune, and yet distinguished, was burnt alive at
Toulouse for certain passages in his _De admirandis ... arcanis_, and
for having said that he would not express his opinion on the immortality of
the soul until he was old, a Jew, and a German.

BRUNO; CAMPANELLA.--Giordano Bruno, an astronomer and one of the
first to affirm that the sun was the centre of the world, professed,
despite certain precautions, a doctrine which confused God with the world
and denied or excluded creation. Giordano Bruno was arrested at Venice in
1593, kept seven years in prison, and finally burnt at Rome in 1600.

Campanella, likewise an Italian, who spent twenty-seven years in a dungeon
for having conspired against the Spanish masters of his country, and who
died in exile in Paris in 1639, was a sceptic in philosophy, or rather an
anti-metaphysician, and, as would be said nowadays, a positivist. There are
only two sources of knowledge, observation and reasoning. Observation makes
us know things--is this true? May not the sensations of things which we
have be a simple phantasmagoria? No; for we have an internal sense, a sense
of our own, which cannot deceive us, which affirms our existence (here is
the _Cogito_ of Descartes anticipated) and which, at the same time,
affirms that there are things which are not ourselves, so that coincidently
the ego and the non-ego are established. Yes, but is this non-ego really
what it seems? It is; granted; but what is it and can we know what it is?
Not without doubt, and here scepticism is unshakable; but in that there is
certitude of the existence of the non-ego, the presumption is that we can
know it, partially, relatively, very relatively, while we remain infinitely
distant from an absolute knowledge, which would be divine. Therefore let us
observe and experiment; let us make the "history" of nature as historians
make the history of the human race. And this is the simple and solid
philosophy of experiment.

But Campanella, like so many more, was a metaphysician possessed by the
devil of metaphysics, and after having imperiously recommended the writing
of only the history of nature, he himself wrote its romance as well. Every
being, he said (and the thought was a very fine one), exists on condition
of being able to exist, and on condition that there be an idea of which it
is the realization, and again on condition that nature is willing to create
it. In other words, nature can, knows what she wishes, and wishes. Now all
beings, in a greater or less degree according to their perfection or
imperfection, feel this triple condition of being able, knowing, and
wishing. Every being can, knows, and wishes, even inorganic matter (here
already is the world as will and representation of Schopenhauer), and God
is only absolute power, absolute knowledge, and absolute will. This is why
all creative things gravitate to God and desire to return to Him as to
their origin, and as the perfection of what they are: the universe has
nostalgia for God.

Campanella was also, as we should say nowadays, a sociologist. He made his
"Republic" as Plato had made his. The Republic of Campanella was called the
_City of the Sun_. It was a community republic, leavened with
aristocracy with "spiritual power" and "temporal power" somewhat after the
manner of Auguste Comte. Campanella was a great sower of ideas.

FRANCIS BACON.--Francis Bacon, lawyer, member of Parliament, Lord
Chancellor of England, personal friend of James I, friend, protector, and
perhaps collaborator with Shakespeare, overthrown as the result of
political animosity and relegated to private life, was a very learned man
with a marvellous mind. Like his namesake, Roger Bacon, but in an age more
favourable to intellectual reform, he attempted a sort of renewal of the
human mind (_Instauratio Magna_) or at least a radical revolution in
the methods and workings of the human mind. Although Francis Bacon
professed admiration for many of the thinkers of antiquity, he urged that
it was wrong to rely on them because they had not sufficiently observed;
one must not, like the schoolmen, have ideas _a priori_, which are
"idols," and there are idols of tribe, of party, of school, of eras;
intentions must not be perceived everywhere in nature, and we must not,
because the sun warms, believe it was created to warm, or because the earth
yields nourishment believe her creation was for the purpose of feeding us,
and that all things converge to man and are put at his service. It is
necessary to proceed by observation, by experiment, and then by induction,
but with prodigious mistrust of induction. Induction consists in drawing
conclusions from the particular to the general, from a certain number of
facts to a law. This is legitimate on condition that the conclusion is not
drawn from a few facts to a law, which is precipitate induction, fruitful
in errors; but from a very large number of facts to a law, which even then
is considered as provisional. As for metaphysics, as for the investigation
of universal law, that should be entirely separated from philosophy itself,
from the "primary philosophy" which does not lead to it; it has its own
field, which is that of faith: "Give to faith what belongeth to faith." In
the main he is uninterested in metaphysics, believing them always to
revolve in a circle and, I do not say, only believes in science and in
method, but has hope only from knowledge and method, an enthusiast in this
respect just as another might be about the super-sensible world or about
ideas, saying human knowledge and human power are really coincident, and
believing that knowledge will support humanity in all calamities, will
prolong human life, will establish a new golden age, etc.

Moreover, let there be none of that eternal and unfounded fear that
knowledge will cause the disappearance of the religious feeling. With
profound conviction and judging by himself, Bacon said: "A little
philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy
bringeth a man's mind about to religion." Such is true philosophy,
"subordinate to the object," attentive to the object, listening to the
voices of the world and only anxious to translate them into human language:
"that is true philosophy which renders the voices of the world the most
accurately possible, like an echo, which writes as if at the dictation of
the world itself, adding nothing of its own, only repeating and

And, as a man is always of his time, he believed in alchemy and in the
possibility of transmuting base metals into gold. But note how he
understood it: "To create a new nature in a given body or to produce new
natures and to introduce them ... he who is acquainted with the forms and
modes of super-inducing yellowness, weight, ductility, fixity, fluidity,
solution, and the rest, with their gradations and methods, will see and
take care that these properties be united in some body, whence its
transformation into gold may follow." Modern chemistry, with scientific
methods highly analogous to those which Bacon indicated or foresaw, has not
made gold, which is not a very useful thing to do, but has done better.

THOMAS HOBBES.--At the end of the sixteenth century, another
Englishman, Thomas Hobbes, began to think. He was, above all else, a
literary man and a sociologist; he translated Thucydides and Homer, he
wrote _Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth_,
which is a manual of despotism, demonstrating that all men in a natural
state were beasts of prey with regard to one another, but that they escaped
this unpleasant fate by submission to a prince who has all rights because
he is perpetually saving his subjects from death, and who can therefore
impose on them whatever he pleases, even scientific dogma or religious
beliefs. Merely regarded as a philosopher, properly so called, Hobbes has
an important position in the history of ideas. Like Francis Bacon, but more
rigorously and authoritatively, he began by separating metaphysics and
theology from philosophy. Philosophy is the art of thinking. That which is
not sensible--mind, soul, God--cannot be thought: can only be believed;
philosophy does not deny all that; merely it does not concern itself
therewith. Here is the whole of positivism established in principle. What
we can think is what we feel. Things are known to us only through
sensations; a thought is a sensation, the human mind is a compound of

No; for I can think of a thing without hearing, seeing, feeling it, etc.

This is because we have memory, which is itself a sensation; it is a
sensation which prolongs itself; to remember is to feel that one has felt;
it is to feel a former sensation which the brain is able to preserve. We
think only by combining current sensations with other current sensations,
or much more often indeed, thanks to memory, by combining current
sensations with older ones, or former sensations with each other. This is
but a fragile basis for knowledge and thought, for sensation is only a
modification of ourselves caused by an external object, and consequently
gives us nothing at all of the external object, and of itself the external
world is eternally unknown to us; but we combine with each other the
illusions that the external world deposits in us through the delusive or
doubtful intermediary of our senses.

When the sensation thus combined with other sensations has become thought,
then ideas begin to exist. They are products of sensation detached from
sensation. They are interassociated by laws that are obscure, yet which can
be vaguely perceived. They awake, so to speak, and call to one another;
every time an idea previously acquired reappears, it is followed by the
thought which accompanied it when it was acquired. In a conversation a
traitor is spoken of. Someone asks what was the value of a piece of silver
in ancient times. This appears incoherent; really it is a natural and
simple association of ideas in which there are few intermediate steps. The
person who listened as the traitor was mentioned thought of Judas, who was
the first traitor of whom he had heard, and of the thirty pieces of silver,
the price of the betrayal by Judas. The association of ideas is more or
less close, more or less loose; it is disconnected in dreams, irregular in
musing, close directly it is dominated and in consequence directed by an
end pursued, by a goal sought; for then there is a desire to attain which
associates nothing of itself, but which, eliminating all ideas that are not
pertinent to the end pursued, permits only the association of those which
have relation to it.

Seeing in the human soul only successive impulses arising from those first
impulses which are the sensations, Hobbes does not believe we are free to
do what we wish; we are carried away by the strongest impulse of our
internal impulses, desire, fear, aversion, love, etc. Nevertheless we
deliberate, we consider different courses to pursue and we decide on the
one we desire to choose. No; we do not deliberate, we only imagine we
deliberate. Deliberation is only a succession of different feelings, and to
the one that gains the day we give the name of volition. "In the
[so-called] deliberation, the final desire or the final fear is called
will." Therefore liberty has no more existence among men than among
animals; will and desire are only one and the same thing considered under
different aspects.

UTILITARIAN MORALITY.--Henceforth there is no morality; without the
power to will this and not to will that, there is no possible
morality. Hobbes retorts with "utilitarian morality": What man should seek
is pleasure, as Aristippus thought; but true pleasure--that which is
permanent and that which is useful to him. Now it is useful to be a good
citizen, a loyal subject, sociable, serviceable to others, careful to
obtain their esteem by good conduct, etc. Morality is interest rightly
understood, and interest rightly understood is absolutely blended with the
morality of duty. The criminal is not a criminal but an idiot; the honest
man is not an honest man but an intelligent one. Observe that a man is
hardly convinced when preached to in the name of duty, but always convinced
when addressed in the name of his own interest.

All this is fairly sensible; but from the time that freedom ceases there
can be no morality, _not even utilitarian_; for it is useless even
from the point of view of his own interests, to preach to a man who is only
a machine moved by the strongest force; and, if he be only that, to lay
down a moral code for him either from the point of view of his own
interests, or from that of morality, or from that of the love of God are
things which are the same and which are as absurd the one as the other. All
philosophy, which does not believe in human liberty, yet which enunciates a
system of morality, is in perpetual contradiction.





Descartes. Cartesianism.

DESCARTES.--The seventeenth century, which was the greatest
philosophic century of modern times and perhaps of any time, began with
Rene Descartes. Descartes, born at La Haye in Touraine in 1596, of noble
family (his real name was des Quartes), was educated by the Jesuits of the
college of La Fleche, followed the military profession for several years,
then gave himself up to mathematics and became one of the greatest
mathematicians of Europe, traveled all over Europe for his own amusement
and instruction, wrote scientific and philosophical works, of which the
most famous are the _Discourse on_ METHOD, the _Meditations_, and
the _Rules for the Control of the Mind_, resided sometimes in Paris,
sometimes in Holland, and finally, at fifty-four years of age, unhappily
attracted by the flattering invitations of Queen Christina of Sweden,
proceeded to Stockholm, where he succumbed in four months to the severity
of the climate. He died in February, 1650.

THE SYSTEM OF DESCARTES.--In the works of Descartes there are a
general system of philosophy, a psychology, and a method. This order is
here adopted because of the three, in Descartes; it is the third which is
the most important, and which has left the most profound traces. The
foundation of the system of Descartes is belief in God and in the goodness
of God. I say the foundation and not the starting-point. The starting-point
is another matter; but it will be clearly seen that the foundation is what
has just been stated. The starting-point is this: I do not believe,
provisionally, in anything, not wishing to take into account what I have
been taught. I doubt everything. Is there anything I cannot doubt? It
seems to me there is: I cannot doubt that I doubt. Now if I doubt, I
think; if I think, I am. There is one certainty, I am.

And having arrived there, Descartes is at a dead stop, for from the
certitude of one's own existence nothing can be deduced save the certitude
of one's existence. For instance, shall I believe in the existence of
everything that is not myself? There is no reason why I should believe in
it. The world may be a dream. But if I believe in God and in a God of
perfect goodness, I can then believe in something outside of myself, for
God not being able to deceive Himself or me, if He permits me to see the
external world, it is because this external world exists. There are
already, therefore, three things in which I believe: my own existence, that
of God, and that of the universe. Which of these beliefs is the fundamental
one? Evidently, the one not demonstrated; the axiom is that upon which one
rests to demonstrate everything except itself. Now of the three things in
which Descartes believed, his own existence is demonstrated by the
impossibility of thinking or feeling, without feeling his own existence;
the other is demonstrated by the existence of a good God; the existence of
a good God is demonstrated by nothing. It is believed. Hence belief in a
good God is Descartes' foundation. This has not been introduced in order
that he may escape from the _I am_ at which he came to a stop; that
belief certainly existed previously, and if he had recourse to it, it was
because it existed first. Without that, he had too much intellectual
honesty to invent it for a particular need. He had it, and he found it as
it were in reserve when he asked himself if he could go beyond _I
am_. Here was his foundation; all the rest would complete the proof.

THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.--Although Descartes rests on God as being his
first principle, he does not fail to prove His existence, and that is
begging the question, something proved by what has to be proved. For if
Descartes believed only in something outside himself because of a good God,
that Being outside himself, God, he can prove only because of the existence
of a good God, who cannot deceive us, and thus is God proved by the belief
in Him. That is begging the question. Descartes does not fail to prove the
existence of God by superabundance as it were; and this, too, in itself
indicates clearly that faith in God is the very foundation of the
philosophy of Descartes. After having taken it as the basis of reasoning,
he takes it as the goal of reasoning, which indicates that the idea of God,
so to speak, encircled his mind and that he found it at every ultimate
point of thought.

He proves it, therefore, first by an argument analogous to that of
St. Anselm, which is this: we, imperfect and finite, have the idea of a
perfect and infinite Being; we are not capable of this idea. Therefore it
must have come to us from a Being really perfect and infinite, and hence
this perfect Being exists.

Another proof, that of God regarded as cause. First: I exist. Who made me?
Was it myself? No, if it had been myself I should have endowed myself with
all the perfections of which I can conceive and in which I am singularly
deficient. Therefore it must be some other being who created me. It was my
parents. No doubt, but who created my parents and the parents of my
parents? One cannot go back indefinitely from cause to cause, and there
must have been a first one.

Secondly: even my own actual existence, my existence at this very moment,
is it the result of my existence yesterday? Nothing proves it, and there is
no necessity because I existed just now that I should exist at
present. There must therefore be a cause at each moment and a continuous
cause. That continuous cause is God, and the whole world is a creation
perpetually continued, and is only comprehensible as continuous creation
and is only explicable by a Creator.

THE WORLD.--Thus sure of himself, of God, and of the world,
Descartes studies the world and himself. In the world he sees souls and
matter; matter is substance in extensions, souls are substance not in
extension, spiritual substance. The extended substance is endowed with
impulse. Is the impulse self-generated, are the bodies self-impelled? No,
they are moved. What is the primary motive force? It is God. Souls are
substances without extension and motive forces. In this respect they are
analogous to God. They are united to bodies and act on them. How? This is
an impenetrable mystery, but they are closely and substantially united to
the bodies, which is proved by physical pains depressing the soul and moral
sufferings depressing the body; and they act on them, not by creating
movements, for the quantity of movements is always the same, but by
directing the movements after this fashion or that. Souls being spiritual,
there is no reason for their disaggregation, that is, their demise, and in
fact they do not die.

It is for this reason that Descartes lays such stress on animals not having
souls. If they had souls, the souls would be spiritual, they would not be
susceptible to disaggregation and would be immortal. "Save atheism, there
is no doctrine more dangerous and detestable than that," but animals are
soulless and purely mechanism; Descartes exerts himself to prove this in
great detail, and he thus escapes avowing the immortality of the souls of
animals, which is repugnant to him, or by allowing that they perish with
the bodies to be exposed to the objection: "Will it not be the same with
the souls of men?"

THE FREEDOM OF THE SOUL.--The human soul is endowed with freedom to
do good or evil. What proof is there of this freedom? First, the inward
feeling that we have. Every evident idea is true. Now, not only have we
the idea of this freedom, but it would be impossible for us not to have it.
Freedom "is known without proofs, merely by the experience we have of it."
It is by the feeling of our freedom, of our free-will that we understand
that we exist as a being, as a thing which is not merely a thing. The true
_ego_ is the will. Even more than an intelligent being, man is a free
individual, and only feels himself to be a man when feeling himself free,
so that he might not believe himself to be intelligent, nor think himself
sensible, etc., but not to think himself free would for him be moral
suicide; and in fact he actually never does anything which he does not
believe himself to be free to do--that is, which he does not believe that
he might avoid doing, if he so wished. Those who say, "It is simply the
feeling that it is better for ourselves which tends to make us do this
instead of doing that," are deeply in error. They forget that we often
prefer the worst for ourselves in order to prove to ourselves that we are
free and therefore have no other _motive power than our own freedom_.
(And this is exactly what contemporaneous philosophy has thus formulated:
"Will is neither determinate nor indeterminate, it is determinative.")
"Even when a very obvious reason leads us to a thing, although morally
speaking it is difficult for us to do the opposite, nevertheless, speaking
absolutely, we can, for we are always free to prevent ourselves from
pursuing a good thing clearly known ... provided only that _we think it
is beneficial thereby to give evidence of the truth of our free-will_."
It is the pure and simple wish to be free which _creates an action;_
it is the all-powerful liberty.

As has been happily observed, in relation to the universe the philosophy of
Descartes is a mechanical philosophy; in relation to man the philosophy of
Descartes is a philosophy of will. As has also been remarked, there are
very striking analogies between Corneille and Descartes from the point of
view of the apotheosis of the will, and the _Meditations_ having
appeared after the great works of Corneille, it is not so much that
Corneille was a Cartesian, as that Descartes was a follower of Corneille.

PSYCHOLOGY OF DESCARTES.--Descartes has almost written a psychology,
what with his _Treatise on the Passions_ and his letters and, besides,
certain passages in his _Meditations_. The soul thinks and has
passions. There are three kinds of ideas, the factitious, the adventitious,
and the innate; the factitious ideas are those which the imagination forms;
the adventitious ideas are those suggested by the external world through
the intermediary of the senses; the innate ideas are those constituting the
mind itself, the conditions under which it thinks and apart from which it
cannot think: we cannot conceive an object not extended, nor an object
apart from time, nor anything without a cause; the ideas of time, space,
and cause are innate ideas; we cannot conceive ourselves as other than
free; the idea of liberty is an innate idea.

The soul has passions; it is therein that, without dependence on the body,
it has intimate relations with and is modified by it, not radically, but in
its daily life. There are operations of the soul which cannot strictly be
termed passions, and yet which are directed or at least _influenced_
by the body. Memory is passive, and consequently memory is a species of
passion. The lively sensations which the body transmits to the brain leave
impressions (Malebranche would say "traces"), and according to these
impressions the soul is moved a second or a third time, and that is what is
called memory. "The impressions of the brain render it suitable to stir
the soul in the same way as it has been stirred before, and also to make it
recollect something, just as the folds in a piece of paper or linen make it
more suitable to be folded anew as it was before than if it had never been
thus folded." Similarly, the association of ideas is passive, and in
consequence is a kind of passion. The association of ideas is the fact that
thought passes along the same path it has already traversed, and follows in
its labyrinth the thread which interlinks its thoughts, and this thread is
the traces which thoughts have left in the brain. In abandoning ourselves
to the association of ideas, we are passive and we yield ourselves freely
to a passion. That is so true that current speech itself recognizes this:
musing is a passion, it is possible to have a passion for musing, and
musing is nothing else than the association of ideas in which the will does
not intervene.

THE PASSIONS.--Coming to the passions strictly speaking, there are
some which are of the soul and only of the soul; the passion for God is a
passion of the soul, the passion for liberty is a passion of the soul; but
there are many more which are the effects of the union of the soul with the
body. These passions are excited in the soul by a state of the body or a
movement of the body or of some part of the body; they are "emotions" of
the soul corresponding to "movements" of the machine. All passions have
relation to the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain, and according as
they relate to the former or the latter are they expansive or oppressive.
There are six principal passions, of which all the rest are only
modifications: admiration, love, desire, joy, having relation to the
appetite of happiness; hatred, sadness, having relation to the fear of
pain. "All the passions are good and may become bad" (Descartes in this
deviates emphatically from Stoicism for which the passions are simply
maladies of the soul). All passions are good in themselves. They are
destined (this is a remarkable theory) to cause the duration of thoughts
which would otherwise pass and be rapidly effaced; by reason of this, they
cause man to act; if he were only directed by his thoughts, unaccompanied
by his passions, he would never act, and if it be recognized that man is
born for action, it will at the same time be recognized that it is
necessary he should have passions.

But, you will say, there can be good passions (of a nature to give force to
just ideas) and evil passions.

No, they are all good, but all also have their bad side, their deviation,
rather, which enables them to become bad. Therefore, in each passion no
matter what it be, it is always possible to distinguish between the passion
itself, which is always good, and the excess, the deviation, the
degradation or corruption of this passion which constitutes, if it be
desired to call it so, an evil passion, and this is what Descartes
demonstrates, passion by passion, in the fullest detail, in his _Treatise
on the Passions_.

THE PART OF THE SOUL.--If it is thus, what will be the part of the
soul (the soul is the will)? It will be to abandon itself to good passions,
or more accurately to the good that is in all passions, and to reduce the
passions to be "nothing more than themselves." In courage, for example,
there is courage and temerity. The action of the will, enlightened by the
judgment, will consist in reducing courage to be nothing but courage. In
fear, there is cowardice and there is the feeling of self-preservation
which, according to Descartes, is the foundation of fear and which is a
very good passion. The action of the soul is to reduce fear to simple

But _how_ will the will effect these metamorphoses or at least these
departures, these separations, these reductions to the due proportion?
_Directly_ it can effect _nothing_ upon the passions; it cannot
_remove_ them; it cannot even remove the baser portions of them; but
it can exercise influence over them by the intermediary of reasoning; it
can lead them to the attentive consideration of the thought that they carry
with them, and by this consideration modify them. For instance, if it is a
question of fear, the soul forces fear to consider that the peril is much
less than was imagined, and thus little by little brings it back to simple

Note that this method, although indirect, is very potent; for it ends by
really transforming the passions into their opposites. Persuade fear that
there is less peril in marching forward than in flight and that the most
salutary flight is the flight forward and you have changed fear to
courage.--But such an influence of the will over the passions is
extraordinarily unlikely: it will never take place.--Yes, by habit! Habit
too is a passion, or, if you will, a passive state, like that of memory or
the association of ideas, and there are men possessed only of that passion.
But the will, by the means which have been described, by imposing an act, a
first act, creates a commencement of habit, by imposing a second confirms
that habit, by imposing a third strengthens it, and so on. In plain words,
the will, by reasoning with the passions and reasoning with them
incessantly, brings them back to what is good in them and ends by bringing
them back there permanently, so that it arrives at having only the passions
it desires, or, if you prefer it, for it is the same thing, at having only
the passion for good. Morality consists in loving noble passions, as was
later observed by Vauvenargues, and that means to love all the passions,
each for what is good in it, that is to reduce each passion to what real
goodness is inherent in it, and that is to gather all the passions into
one, which is the passion of duty.

THE METHOD OF DESCARTES.--As has been observed, not only had
Descartes influence through all that he wrote, but it was by his method
that he has exerted the greatest and most durable sway, and that is why we
conclude with the examination of his method. It is all contained in this:
to accept nothing as true except what is evident; to accept as true all
that is evident. Descartes therefore made evidence the touchstone of
certainty. But mark well the profound meaning of this method: what is it
that gives me the assurance of the evidence of such or such an idea? How
shall I know that such an idea is really evident to me? Because I see it in
perfect clearness? No, that does not suffice: the evidence may be
deceptive; there can be false evidence; all the wrong ideas of the
philosophers of antiquity, save when they were sophists, had for them the
character of being evident. Why? Why should error be presented to the mind
as an evident truth? Because in truth, in profound truthfulness, it must
be admitted that judgment does not depend upon the intelligence. And on
what does it depend? On will, on free-will. This is how. No doubt, error
depends on our judgment, but our judgment depends on our will in the sense
that it depends on us whether we adhere to our judgment without it being
sufficiently precise or do not adhere to it because it is not sufficiently
precise: "If I abstain from giving my judgment on a subject when I do not
conceive it with sufficient clearness and distinction, it is evident that I
shall not be deceived." Evidence is therefore not only a matter of
judgment, of understanding, of intelligence, it is a matter of energetic
will and of freedom courageously acquired. We are confronted with evidence
when, with a clear brain, we are capable, in order to accept or refuse what
it lays before us, of acting "after such a fashion," of having put
ourselves in such a state of the soul that we feel "that no external force
can constrain us to think in such or such a way."

These external forces are authority, prejudices, personal interest, or that
of party. The faculty of perceiving evidence is therefore the triumph both
of sound judgment in itself and of a freedom of mind which, supposing
probity, scrupulousness, and courage, and perhaps the most difficult of all
courage, supposes a profound and vigorous morality. Evidence is given only
to men who are first highly intelligent and next, or rather before all
else, are profoundly honest. Evidence is not a consequence of morality; but
morality is the _condition_ of evidence.

There is the foundation of the method of Descartes; add to it his advice on
the art of reasoning, which even in his time was not at all novel, but
which with him is very precise; not to generalize too hastily, not to be
put off with words, but to have a clear definition of every word, etc., and
thus a sufficient idea of it will be obtained.

Now first, to this method Descartes was unfaithful, as always happens, and
often accepted the suggestions of his magnificent imagination as the
evidences of his reason; secondly, the touchstone of evidence is certainly
the best, but is far from being infallible (and Vico has ridiculed it with
as much sense as wit) and the freest mind can still find false things
evident; yet, thirdly, favouring freedom of research self-controlled,
individual and scornful of all authority, the method of Descartes has
become a banner, a motto, and a flag for all modern philosophy.

result has been that all modern philosophy, with few exceptions, has
recognised Descartes as its parent--that individual evidence, if it may be
thus expressed, favouring temerity and each believing himself closer to the
truth the more he differed from others, and consequently was unable to
suspect himself of being subject to influences, individual evidence has
provided a fresh opportunity for self-deception; finally, that Descartes,
by a not uncommon metamorphosis, by means of his system which he did not
follow, has become the head or the venerated ancestor of doctrines which he
would have detested and which he already did detest more than all
others. Because he said that evidence alone and the free investigation of
evidence led to truth, he has become the ancestor of the sceptics who are
persuaded that surrender must be made only to evidence and that evidence
cannot be found; and he has become the ancestor of the positivists who
believe that evidence certainly exists somewhere, but not in metaphysics or
in theodicy, or in knowledge of the soul, of immortality, and of God,
branches of knowledge which surpass our means of knowing, which are in fact
outside knowledge. So that this man who conceived more than any man, this
man who so often constructed without a sure foundation, and this man, yet
again, as has been aptly said, who always thought by innate ideas, by his
formula has become the master and above all the guarantor of those who are
the most reserved and most distrustful as to philosophic construction,
innate ideas, and imagination. This does not in the least diminish his
brilliant merit; it is only one of those changes of direction in which the
history of ideas abounds.



All the Seventeenth Century was under the Influence of Descartes.
Port-Royal, Bossuet, Fenelon, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibnitz.

CARTESIAN INFLUENCE.--Nearly all the seventeenth century was
Cartesian, and in the general sense of the word, not only as supporters of
the method of evidence, but as adherents of the general philosophy of
Descartes. Gassendi (a Provencal, and not an Italian), professor of
philosophy at Aix, subsequently in Paris, was not precisely a faithful
disciple of Descartes, and he opposed him several times; he had leanings
towards Epicurus and the doctrine of atoms; he drew towards Hobbes, but he
was also a fervent admirer of Bacon, and so approached Descartes, who
thought very highly of him, though impatiently galled by his criticisms.
After the example of Epicurus he was the most sober and austere of men, and
of the two it was Descartes rather than he who was Epicurean in the common
use of the word. According to a tradition, which to my mind rests on
insufficient proof, he was an instructor of Moliere.

All the thinkers of the seventeenth century came more or less profoundly
under the Cartesian influence: Pascal, Bossuet, Fenelon, Arnauld, and all
Port-Royal. This influence was to diminish only in the eighteenth century,
though kept up by the impenitent Fontenelle, but outweighed by that of
Locke, to reappear very vigorously in the nineteenth century in France in
the school of Maine de Biran and of Cousin.

MALEBRANCHE.--A separate niche must be made for the Cartesians,
almost as great as Descartes, who filled the seventeenth century with their
renown,--the Frenchman Malebranche, the Dutchman Spinoza, and the German
Leibnitz. Pushing the theories of Descartes further than Descartes would
himself in all probability have desired to, from what Descartes had said
that it was only _through God_ that we perceived accurately,
Malebranche declared that it was only _in God_ that we perceived
accurately, and fundamentally this is the same idea; it can only be deemed
that Malebranche is the more precise: "God alone is known by Himself [is
believed in without uncertainty]; there is only He that we can see in
immediate and direct perspective." All the rest we see in Him, in His
light, in the light He creates in our minds. When we see, it is that we are
in Him. Evidence is divine light. He is the link of ideas. (And thus
Malebranche brought Plato near to Descartes and showed that, without the
latter being aware of it, they both said the same thing.) God is always the
cause and as He is the cause of all real things, He is cause also of all
truths, and as He is everywhere in real objects, He is also everywhere in
the true ideas which we can have, or rather in which we can participate.
When we seek a truth we pray without thinking we do so; attention is a

In the same way, from the saying of Descartes that the universe is a
continuous creation, Malebranche deduced or rather concluded that our
thoughts and actions are acts of God. There can be no action of the body on
the soul to produce ideas; that would be inconceivable; but on the
occasion, for instance, of our eyes resting on an object, God gives us an
idea of that object, whether in conformity or not we cannot tell; but at
any rate He gives us that idea of the object which He wishes us to have.

There is no action of our soul on our body; that would be
inconceivable. But God to our will adds a force having a tendency towards
goodness as a rule, and to each of our volitions adds a force tending to
its execution and capable of executing it.

Then, when our will is evil and we execute it, does God sin in our name?

Certainly not; because sin is not an act; it consists in doing nothing; it
consists precisely in the soul not acting on the body; therefore it is not
a force but a weakness. Sin is that God has withdrawn Himself from us. The
sinner is only a being who is without strength because he is lacking in

The principle of morality is the respect for order and the love of
order. That makes two degrees, the first of which is regularity and the
second virtue. To conform to order is highly rational but without merit
(_e.g._, to give money to the poor from habit or possibly from
vanity). To love order and to desire that it should be greater, more
complete, and nearer to the will of God, is to adhere to God, to live in
God, just as to see rightly is to see in God. All morality, into the
details of which we will not enter, evolves from the love of order. The
universe is a vast mechanism, as was stated by Descartes, set in motion and
directed by God--that is to say, by the laws established by God; for God
acts only by general dispositions (which are laws) and not by particular
dispositions. In other words, there exists a will, but there are no

MIRACLES.--But then you will say there are no miracles; for miracle
is precisely a particular will traversing and interrupting the general

To begin with, there are very few miracles, which therefore permits order
to subsist; it would be only if there were incessant miracles that order
would be non-existent. Next, a miracle is a warning God gives to men
because of their weakness, to remind them that behind the laws there is a
Lawgiver, behind the general dispositions a Being who disposes. Because of
their intellectual weakness, if they never saw any derogation from the
general laws they would take them to be fatalities. A miracle is a grace
intervening in things, just as grace properly so-called intervenes in human
actions. And it is not contradictory to the general design of God, since
by bringing human minds back to the truth that there is a Being who wills,
it accustoms them to consider all general laws as permanent acts, but also
as the acts of the Being who wills. The miracle has the virtue of making
everything in the world miraculous, which is true. Hence the miracle
confirms the idea of order. Therein, perhaps alone, the exception proves
the rule.

SPINOZA.--Spinoza, who during his life was a pure Stoic and the
purest of Stoics, polishing the lenses of astronomical telescopes in order
to gain his living, refusing all pensions and all the professorial
positions offered to him, and living well-nigh on nothing, had read
Descartes and, to conform to the principle of evidence, had begun by
renouncing his religion, which was that of the Jews. His general outlook
on the world was this: There is only one God. God is all. Only He has His
attributes--that is to say, His manners of being and His modes, that is His
modifications, as the sun (merely a comparison) has as its manners of
being, its roundness, colour, and heat, as modifications its rays,
terrestrial heat, direct and diffused light, etc. Now God has two
attributes, thought and extension, as had already been observed by
Descartes; and for modifications He has exactly all we can see, touch, or
feel, etc. The human soul is an attribute of God, as is everything else; it
is an attribute of God in His power. It is not free, for all that comes
from God, all that _is of God_, is a regular and necessary development
of God Himself. "There is nothing contingent" [nothing which may either
happen or not happen]. All things are determined, by the necessity of the
divine nature, to exist and to act in a given manner. There is therefore
no free-will in the soul, the soul is determined to will this or that by a
cause which is itself determined by another and that by another, and so on
to infinity.

Nevertheless we believe ourselves to be free and according to the principle
of evidence we are; for nothing is more evident to us than our liberty. We
are as intimately convinced of our liberty as of our existence and we
_all_ affirm, I am free,--with the same emphasis that Descartes
affirms: I am. I am and I am free are the two things it is impossible for
man to doubt, no matter what effort he makes.

No doubt, but it is an illusion. It is the illusion of a being who feels
himself as cause, but does not feel himself as effect. Try to imagine a
billiard ball which feels it moves others, but which does not feel that it
is moved. What we call decision is an idea which decides us because it
exercises more power over us than the others do; what we term deliberation
is a hesitancy between two or three ideas which at the moment have equal
force; what we name volition is an idea, and what we call will is our
understanding applied to facts. We do not want to fight; we conceive the
idea of fighting and the idea carries us away; we do not want to hang
ourselves; we have the obsessing idea of hanging ourselves and this thought
runs away with us.

HIS MORAL SYSTEM.--Spinoza wrote a system of morality. Is it not
radically impossible to write a system of morality when the author does not
believe in free-will? The admirable originality of Spinoza, even though
his idea can be contested, is precisely that morality depends on belief in
the necessity of all things--that is, the more one is convinced of this
necessity so much the more does one attain high morality--that is, the more
one believes oneself free the more one is _immoral_. The man who
believes himself free claims to run counter to the universal order, and
morality precisely is adherence to it; the man who believes himself free
seeks for an individual good just as if there could be an individual good,
just as if the best for each one were not to submit to the necessary laws
of everything, laws which constitute what is good; the man who thinks
himself free sets himself against God, believes himself God since he
believes himself to be creator of what he does, and since he believes
himself capable of deranging something in the mechanism and of introducing
a certain amount of movement. As a matter of fact, he does nothing of the
kind; but he believes that he does it, and this mere thought, false and low
as it is, keeps him in the most miserable condition of life; to sum up, a
man who believes himself free may not perhaps be an atheist, but he is

On the contrary, the man who does not believe himself free believes he is
in the hands of God, and that is the beginning of wisdom and the beginning
of virtue. We are in the hands of God as the clay is in those of the
potter; the mad vase would be the one which reproached the potter for
having made it small instead of big, common instead of decorative. It is
the beginning of wisdom to believe oneself in the hands of God; to see Him,
to see Him the least indistinctly that we can, therein lies the highest
wisdom; we must see His designs, or at least His great design and associate
ourselves with it, thus becoming not only part of Him, which we always are,
but a conscient part of Him.

This is the love of God, and the love of God is virtue itself. We ought to
love God without consideration of the good He can do us and of the
penalties He can inflict upon us; for to love God from love of a beneficent
God or from fear of a punitive God is not to love God but to love oneself.

THE PASSIONS.--We have our passions as enemies and as obstacles to
our elevation to this semi-perfection. It is they which cause us to do
immoral acts. "Immoral," has that a meaning from the moment that we do
nothing which we are not obliged to do? Yes, just as when led by our
deceitful mind we have arrived necessarily at a false idea, the fact of
this thought being necessary does not prevent it from being false; we may
have been led by necessity to commit a villainous action, but that does not
prevent its being immoral. The passions are our imperfections, omissions,
gaps in a soul which is not full of the idea of God and of universal order
and the love of God and of universal order, and which, in consequence,
lives individually--that is, separated from the universe.

The passions are infinite in number and Spinoza, in a bulky volume,
furnished a minute and singularly profound description of the principal
ones alone, into the details of which we regret that we cannot enter. The
_Ethics_ of Spinoza is an incomparable masterpiece.

The study of the passions is very salutary, because in studying them one
gets so detached from them that one can perceive their emptiness, their
meanness, and their puerile, nay, even bestial character. It might even be
added that the mere thought of studying them is already an act of
detachment in reference to them. "Thou wouldst not seek Me, hadst thou not
already found Me," said God to Pascal. "Thou wouldst not make
investigations about us, hadst thou not already quitted us," the passions
might say to the philosopher.

SANCTIONS OF MORALITY.--What are the sanctions of morality? They are
necessary sanctions; just as everything is necessary and may even be said
to be mechanical. There is neither merit nor demerit and the criminal is
not culpable; only he is outside order, and everything must be in order.
"He who is maddened by the bite of a mad dog is certainly innocent; yet
anyone has the right to suffocate him. In the same way, the man who cannot
govern his passions by fear of the law is a very excusable invalid; yet he
cannot enjoy peace of mind, or the knowledge of God, or even the love of
God, and it is necessary that he perish." Through death he has re-entered
within order.

But does the sanction of beyond-the-grave exist, and is the soul immortal,
and are we to be rewarded therein in another life? The conclusion of
Spinoza on this matter is hesitating, but at the risk of misrepresenting
it, which I fear to do, it seems to me that it can be thus summed
up--_The soul makes itself immortal_, in proportion as by the
knowledge and love of God it participates more in God. In proportion it
makes itself divine; and approaching perfection, by the same progress it
also approaches immortality. It is conceivable that by error and sin it
kills itself, and by virtue renders itself imperishable. This immortality
is not or does not seem to be personal, it is literally a definite re-entry
into the bosom of God; Spinozian immortality would therefore be a
prolongation of the same effort which we make in this life to adhere to
universal order; the recompense for having adhered to it here below is to
be absorbed in it there, and in that lies true beatitude. Here below we
ought to see everything from the point of view of eternity (_sub specie
aeternitatis_), and this is a way of being eternal; elsewhere we shall
be in eternity itself.

LEIBNITZ.--Leibnitz possessed a universal mind, being historian,
naturalist, politician, diplomatist, scholar, theologian, mathematician;
here we will regard him only as philosopher. For Leibnitz the basis, the
substance of all beings is not either thought or extension as with
Descartes, but is force, productive of action. "What does not act does not
exist." Everything that exists is a force, either action or tendency to
action. And force, all force has two characteristics: it desires to do, it
wishes to think. The world is the graduated compound of all these
forces. Above all there is the supreme force, God, who is infinite force,
infinite thought; by successive descents those base and obscure forces are
reached which seem to have neither power nor thought, and yet have a
minimum of power and even of thought, so to speak, latent. God thinks and
acts infinitely; man thinks and acts powerfully, thanks to reason, which
distinguishes him from the rest of creation; the animal acts and thinks
dimly, but it does act and think, for it has a soul composed of memory and
of the results and consequences of memory, and by parenthesis
"three-fourths of our own actions are governed by memory, and most
frequently we act like animals"; plants act, and if they do not think, at
least feel (which is still thought), though more dimly than animals; and
finally in the mineral kingdom the power of action and thought slumber, but
are not non-existent since they can be transformed into plants, animals,
and men, into living matter which feels and thinks.

Therefore, as was later on to be maintained by Schopenhauer, everything is
full of souls, and of souls which are forces as well as intelligences. The
human soul is a force too, like the body. Between these two forces, which
seem to act on one another and which certainly act in concert in such
fashion that the movement desired by the soul is executed by the body or
that the soul obviously assents to a movement desired by the body, what can
be the affinity and the relation, in what consists their concurrence and
concord? Leibnitz (and there was already something of the same nature
suggested by Descartes) believes that all the forces of the world act, each
spontaneously; but that among all the actions they perform there exists an
agreement imposed by God, a concord establishing universal order, a
"preestablished harmony" causing them all to co-operate in the same
design. Well, then, between the soul, this force, and the body, this force
also, this harmony reigns as between any force whatever in nature and one
and all of the others; and that is the explanation of the union and concord
between the soul and the body. Imagine two well-constructed clocks wound up
by the same maker; they indicate the same hour, and it might appear that
this one directs the other, or that the other directs the first. All the
forces of the world are clocks which agree with each other, because they
have been regulated in advance by the divine clockmaker, and they all
indicate the eternal hour.

THE RADICAL OPTIMISM OF LEIBNITZ.--From all these general views on
matter, on mind and on the mind, Leibnitz arrived at a radical optimism
which is the thing for which he has since been most ridiculed, and by
which, at any rate, he has remained famous. He believes that all is good,
despite the evil of which no one can dispute the existence; and he believes
that all is the best _possible_ in the best of _possible_
worlds. In fact, God is supreme wisdom and supreme goodness; that was quite
evident to Descartes, who in the matter of evidence was not easily
satisfied. This perfect wisdom and perfect goodness could choose only what
is best.--But yet evil exists! Diminish it as much as you choose, it still
exists.--It exists by a necessity inherent in what is created. Everything
created is imperfect. God alone is perfect; what is imperfect is by its
definition evil mingled with good. Evil is only the boundary of good, where
God was compelled to stop in creating beings and things other than Himself,
and if He had created only according to absolute goodness, He could have
created only Himself. And that is the precise meaning of this phrase "the
best of possible worlds"; the world is perfect so far as that which is
created, and therefore imperfect, can be perfect; so far as what is not God
can be divine; the world is God Himself as far as He can remain Himself
whilst being anything else than Himself. THE THREE EVILS.--Let us
distinguish in order to comprehend better. There are three evils: the
metaphysical, the physical, and the moral. Metaphysical evil is this very
fact of not being perfection; it is natural enough that what emanates only
from perfection should not be perfection. Physical evil is suffering; God
cannot _will_ suffering, desire it, or cherish it; but He can permit
it as a means of good, as a condition of good; for there would be no moral
good if there were not occasion for struggle, and there would be no
occasion for struggling if physical evil did not exist; imagine a paradise;
all the inhabitants merely exist and never have cause to show the slightest
endurance, the least courage, the smallest virtue. And finally, as to
moral evil, which is sin, God can even less desire that it should exist,
but He can admit its existence, _allow it to be_, to afford men
occasion for merit or demerit. Nothing is more easy than to criticize God
whilst considering only a portion of His work and not considering it as a
whole. He must have created it to be a whole and it is as a whole that it
must be judged. And precisely because the whole cannot be comprehended by
anyone, "hold thy peace, foolish reason," as Pascal said, and judge not or
judge _a priori_, since here it is not possible to judge by
experience; and declare that the Perfect can have willed only the most
perfect that is possible.

THE POSSIBLE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE.--There still remains the
fundamental objection: to reduce God to the conditions of the possible is
to limit Him, and it is useless to say that God is justified if He has done
all the good possible. He is not; the words "possible" and "impossible"
having no meaning to Him who is omnipotent, and by definition infinite
power could effect the impossible.

Yes, Leibnitz replies, there is a metaphysical impossibility, there is an
impossibility in the infinite; this impossibility is absurdity, is
contradiction. Could God make the whole smaller than the part or any line
shorter than a straight one? Reason replies in the negative. Is God
therefore limited? He is limited by the absurd and that means He is
unlimited; for the absurd is a falling away. It is therefore credible that
the mixture of evil and good is a metaphysical necessity to which I will
not say God submits, but in which He acts naturally, and that the absence
of evil is a metaphysical contradiction, an absurdity in itself, which God
cannot commit precisely because He is perfect; and no doubt, instead of
drawing this conclusion, we should actually see it, were the totality of
things, of their relations, of their concordance, and of their harmony
known to us.

The optimism of Leibnitz was ridiculed specially in the _Candide_ of
Voltaire, ingeniously defended by Rousseau, magnificently defended by
Victor Hugo in the following verses, well worthy of Leibnitz:

"Oui peut-etre au dela de la sphere des nues,
Au sein de cet azur immobile et dormant,
Peut-etre faites-vous des choses inconnues
Ou la douleur de l'homme entre comme element."



Locke: His Ideas on Human Liberty, Morality, General
Politics, and Religious Politics.

LOCKE.--Locke, very learned in various sciences--physics, chemistry,
medicine, often associated with politics, receiving enlightenment from
life, from frequent travels, from friendships with interesting and
illustrious men, always studying and reflecting until an advanced old age,
wrote only carefully premeditated works: his _Treatise of Government_
and _Essay on the Human Understanding_.

Locke appears to have written on the understanding only in order to refute
the "innate ideas" of Descartes. For Locke innate ideas have no
existence. The mind before it comes into contact with the external world is
a blank sheet, and there is nothing in the mind which has not first come
through the senses. What, then, are ideas? They are sensations registered
by the brain, and they are also sensations elaborated and modified by
reflection. These ideas then commingle in such a manner as to form an
enormous mass of combinations. They are commingled either in a natural or
an artificial manner. In a natural manner, that is in a way conforming to
the great primary ideas given us by reflection, the idea of cause, the idea
of end, the idea of means to an end, the idea of order, etc., and it is the
harmony of these ideas which is commonly termed reason; they become
associated by accident, by the effects of emotion, by the effect of custom,
etc., and then they give birth to prejudices, errors, and
superstitions. The passions of the soul are aspects of pleasure and pain.
The idea of a possible pleasure gives birth in us to a desire which is
called ambition, love, covetousness, gluttony; the idea of a possible pain
gives birth in us to fear and horror, and this fear and horror is called
hatred, jealousy, rage, aversion, disgust, scorn. At bottom we have only
two passions, the desire of enjoyment, and the fear of suffering.

THE FREEDOM OF MAN.--Is man free? Appealing to experience and
making use only of it and not of intimate feeling, Locke declares in the
negative. A will always seems to him determined by another will, and this
other by another to infinity, or by a motive, a weight, a motive power
which causes a leaning to right or left. Will certainly exists--that is to
say, an exact and lively desire to perform an action, or to continue an
action, or to interrupt an action, but this will is not free, for to
represent it as free is to represent it as capable of wishing what it does
not wish. The will is an anxiety to act in such or such a fashion, and this
anxiety, on account of its character of anxiety, of strong emotion, of
tension of the soul, appears to us free, appears to us an internal force
which is self-governed and independent; we feel consciousness of will in
the effort. This tension must not be denied, but it must be recognised as
the effect of a potent desire which the obstacle excites; this tension,
therefore, is an indication of nothing except the potency of the desire and
the existence of an obstacle. Now this desire, so potent that it is
irritated by the obstacle, and, so to speak, unites us against it, is a
passion dominating and filling our being; so that we are never more swayed
by passion than when we believe ourselves to be exercising our will, and in
consequence the more we desire the less are we free.

It is not essential formally and absolutely to confound will with
desire. Overpowered by heat, we desire to drink cold water, and because we
know that that would do us harm we have the will not to drink; but although
this is an important distinction it is not a fundamental one; what incites
us to drink is a passion, what prevents us is another passion, one more
general and stronger, the desire not to die, and because this passion by
meeting with and fighting another produces in all our being a powerful
tension, it is none the less a passion, even if we ought not to say that it
is a still more impassioned passion.

LOCKE'S THEORY OF POLITICS.--In politics Locke was the adversary of
Hobbes, whose theories of absolutism have already been noticed. He did not
believe that the natural state was the war of all against all. He believed
men formed societies not to escape cannibalism, but more easily to
guarantee and protect their natural rights: ownership, personal liberty,
legitimate defence. Society exists only to protect these rights, and the
reason of its existence lies in this duty to defend them. The sovereign
therefore is not the saviour of the nation, he is its law-maker and
magistrate. If he violates the rights of man, he acts so directly contrary
to his mission and his mandate that insurrection against him is
legitimate. The "wise Locke," as Voltaire always called him, was the
inventor of the Rights of Man.

In religious politics he was equally liberal and advocated the separation
of Church and State; the State, according to him, should not have any
religion of its own, its province being only to protect equally the liberty
of all denominations. Locke was discussed minutely by Leibnitz, who,
without accepting the innate ideas of Descartes, did not accept the ideas
through sensation of Locke, and said: "There is nothing in the intelligence
which has not first been in the senses," granted ... "except the
intelligence itself." The intelligence has not innate ideas born ready
made; but it possesses forms of its own in which the ideas arrange
themselves and take shape, and this is the due province of the
intelligence. And it was these forms which later on Kant was to call the
categories of the intellect, and at bottom Descartes meant nothing else by
his innate ideas. Locke exerted a prodigious and even imperious influence
over the French philosophers of the eighteenth century.



Berkeley: Highly Idealist Philosophy which Regarded Matter as Non-existent.

David Hume: Sceptical Philosophy.

The Scottish School: Common Sense Philosophy.

BERKELEY.--To the "sensualist" Locke succeeded Berkeley, the
unrestrained "idealist," like him an Englishman. He began to write when
very young, continued to write until he was sixty, and died at
sixty-eight. He believed neither in matter nor in the external world. There
was the whole of his philosophy. Why did he not believe in them? Because
all thinkers are agreed that we cannot know whether we see the external
world _as it is_. Then, if we do not know it, why do we affirm that it
exists? We know nothing about it. Now we ought to build up the world only
with what we know of it, and to do otherwise is not philosophy but yielding
to imagination. What is it that we know of the world? Our ideas, and
nothing but our ideas. Very well then, let us say: there are only
ideas. But whence do these ideas come to us? To explain them as coming from
the external world which we have never seen is to explain obscurity by
denser darkness. They are spiritual, they come to us without doubt from a
spirit, from God. This is possible, it is not illogical, and Berkeley
believes it.

This doctrine regarded by the eyes of common sense may appear a mere
phantasy; but Berkeley saw in it many things of high importance and great
use. If you believe in matter, you can believe in matter only, and that is
materialism with its moral consequences, which are immoral; if you believe
in matter and in God, you are so hampered by this dualism that you do not
know how to separate nature from God, and it therefore comes to pass that
you see God in matter, which is called pantheism. In a word, between us and
God Berkeley has suppressed matter in order that we should come, as it
were, into direct contact with God. He derives much from Malebranche, and
it may be said he only pushes his theories to their extreme. Although a
bishop, he was not checked, like Descartes, by the idea of God not being
able to deceive us, and he answered that God does not deceive us, that He
gives us ideas and that it is we who deceive ourselves by attributing them
to any other origin than to Him; nor was he checked, like Malebranche, by
the authority of Scripture, which in Genesis portrays God creating
matter. He saw there, no doubt, only a symbolical sense, a simple way of
speaking according to the comprehension of the multitude.

DAVID HUME.--David Hume, a Scotsman, better known, at least in his
own times, as the historian of England than as a philosopher, nevertheless
well merits consideration in the latter category. David Hume believes in
nothing, and, in consequence, it may be said that he is not a philosopher;
he has no philosophic system. He has no philosophic system, it is true; but
he is a critic of philosophy, and therefore he philosophizes. Matter has no
existence; as we know nothing about it, we should not say it exists. But we
ourselves, we exist. All that we can know about that is that in us there is
a succession of ideas, of representations; but _we_, but _I_,
what is that? Of that we know nothing. We are present at a series of
pictures, and we may call their totality the _ego_; but we do not
grasp ourselves as a thing of unity, as an individual. We are the
spectators of an inward dramatic piece behind which we can see no
author. There is no more reason to believe in _oneself_ than in the
external world.

INNATE IDEAS.--As for innate ideas, they are simply general ideas,
which are general delusions. We believe, for instance, that every effect
has a cause, or, to express it more correctly, that everything has a cause.
What do we know about it? What do we see? That one thing follows another,
succeeds to another. What tells us that the latter proceeds from the
former, that the thing B must necessarily come, owing to the thing A
existing? We believe it because every time the thing A has been, the thing
B has come. Well, let us say that every time A has been (thus far) B has
come; and say no more. There are regular successions, but we are completely
ignorant whether there are causes for them.

THE LIBERTY AND MORALITY OF HUME.--It results from this that for
Hume there is no liberty. Very obviously; for when we believe ourselves
free, it is because we believe we can fix upon ourselves as a cause. Now
the word "cause" means nothing. We are a succession of phenomena very
absolutely determined. The proof is that we foresee and nearly always
accurately (and we could always foresee accurately if we completely knew
the character of the persons and the influences acting on them) what people
we know will do, which would be impossible if they did as they wished. And
I, at the very moment when I am absolutely sure I am doing such and such a
thing because I desired to, I see my friend smile as he says: "I was sure
you would do that. See, I wrote it down on this piece of paper." He
understood me as a necessity, when I felt myself to be free. And he,
reciprocally, will believe himself free in doing a thing I would have
wagered to a certainty that he would not fail to do.

What system of morality can Hume have with these principles? First of all,
he protests against those who should deduce from his principles the
immorality of his system. Take care, said he wittily (just like Spinoza,
by the way), it is the partisans of free-will who are immoral. No doubt! It
is when there is liberty that there is no responsibility. I am not
responsible for my actions if they have no connection in me with anything
durable or constant. I have committed murder. Truly it is by chance, if it
was by an entirely isolated determination, entirely detached from the rest
of my character, and momentary; and I am only infinitesimally
responsible. But if all my actions are linked together, are conditional
upon one another, dependent on one another, if I have committed murder it
is because I am an assassin at every moment of my life or nearly so, and
then, oh! how responsible I am!

Note that this is the line taken up by judges, since they make careful
investigation of the antecedents of the accused. They find him all the more
culpable if he has always shown bad instincts.--Therefore they find him the
more responsible, the more he has been compelled by necessity.--Yes.

Hume then does not believe himself "foreclosed" in morality; he does not
believe he is forbidden by his principles to have a system of morality and
he has one. It is a morality of sentiment. We have in us the instinct of
happiness and we seek happiness; but we have also in us an instinct of
goodwill which tends to make us seek the general happiness, and reason
tells us that there is conciliation or rather concordance between these two
instincts, because it is only in the general happiness that we find our
particular happiness.

THE SCOTTISH SCHOOL: REID; STEWART.--The Scottish School (end of the
eighteenth century) was pre-eminently a school of men who attached
themselves to common sense and were excellent moralists. We must at any
rate mention Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart. They were bent especially on
opposing the transcendent idealism of Berkeley and the scepticism of David
Hume, also in some measure Locke's doctrine of the blank sheet. They
reconstituted the human mind and even the world (which had been so to speak
driven off in vapour by their predecessors), much as they were in the time
of Descartes. Let us believe, they said, in the reality of the external
world; let us believe that there are causes and effects; let us believe
there is an _ego,_ a human person whom we directly apprehend, and who
is a cause; let us believe that we are free and that we are responsible
because we are free, etc. They were, pre-eminently, excellent describers of
states of the soul, admirable psychological moralists and they were the
ancestors of the highly remarkable pleiad of English psychologists of the
nineteenth century.



Voltaire a Disciple of Locke.

Rousseau a Freethinking Christian, but deeply Imbued
with Religious Sentiments.

Diderot a Capricious Materialist.

D'Holbach and Helvetius Avowed Materialists.

Condillac a Philosopher of Sensations.

VOLTAIRE; ROUSSEAU.--The French philosophy of the eighteenth
century, fairly feeble it must be avowed, seemed as if dominated by the
English philosophy, excepting Berkeley, but especially by Locke and David
Hume, more particularly Locke, who was the intellectual deity of those
Frenchmen of that epoch who were interested in philosophy.

Whenever Voltaire dealt with philosophy, he was only the echo of Locke
whose depths he failed to fathom, and to whom he has done some injury, for
reading Locke only through Voltaire has led to the belief that Locke was

Rousseau was both the disciple and adversary of Hobbes, as often occurs,
and dealt out to the public the doctrines of Hobbes in an inverted form,
making the state of nature angelic instead of infernal, and putting the
government of all by all in the place of government by one, invariably
reaching the same point with a simple difference of form; for if Hobbes
argued for despotism exercised by one over all, Rousseau argued for the
despotism of all over each. In _Emile_, he was incontestably inspired
by the ideas of Locke on education in some degree, but in my opinion less
than has been asserted. On nearly all sides it has been asserted that
Rousseau exercised great influence over Kant. I know that Kant felt
infinite admiration for Rousseau, but of the influence of Rousseau upon
Kant I have never been able to discover a trace.

DIDEROT; HELVETIUS; D'HOLBACH.--It was particularly on David Hume
that Diderot depended. The difference, which is great, is that David Hume
in his scepticism remained a grave, reserved man, well-bred and discreet,
and was only a sceptic, whilst Diderot was violent in denial and a man of
paradoxes and jests, both impertinent and cynical.

It is almost ridiculous in a summary history of philosophy to name as
sub-Diderots, if one may so express it, Helvetius and D'Holbach, who were
merely wits believing themselves philosophers, and who were not always

CONDILLAC.--Condillac belongs to another category. He was a very
serious philosopher and a vigorous thinker. An exaggerated disciple of
Locke, while the latter admitted sensation _and_ reflection as the
origin of ideas, Condillac admitted only pure sensation and transformed
sensation--that is to say, sensation transforming itself. The definition of
man that he deduces from these principles is very celebrated and it is
interesting: "The _ego_ of each man is only the collection of the
sensations that he feels and of those his memory recalls; it is the
consciousness of what he is combined with the recollection of what he has
been." To Condillac, the idea is a sensation which has fixed itself and
which has been renewed and vivified by others; desire is a sensation which
wishes to be repeated and seeks what opportunity offers for its renewal,
and the will itself is only the most potent of desires. Condillac was
voluntarily and systematically limited, but his system is well knit and
presented in admirably clear and precise language.



Kant Reconstructed all Philosophy by Supporting it on Morality.

KNOWLEDGE.--Kant, born at Koenigsberg in 1724, was professor there
all his life and died there in 1804. Nothing happened to him except the
possession of genius. He had commenced with the theological philosophy in
use in his country, that of Wolf, which on broad lines was that of
Leibnitz. But he early read David Hume, and the train of thought of the
sceptical Scotsman at least gave him the idea of submitting all philosophic
ideas to a severe and close criticism.

He first of all asked himself what the true value is of our knowledge and
what knowledge is. We believe generally that it is the things which give us
the knowledge that we have of them. But, rather, is it not we who impose on
things the forms of our mind and is not the knowledge that we believe we
have of things only the knowledge which we take of the laws of our mind by
applying it to things? This is what is most probable. We perceive the
things by moulds, so to speak, which are in ourselves and which give them
their shapes and they would be shapeless and chaotic were it
otherwise. Consequently, it is necessary to distinguish the matter and the
form of our knowledge: the matter of the knowledge is the things
themselves. The form of our knowledge is ourselves: "Our experimental
knowledge is a compound of what we receive from impressions and of what our
individual faculty of knowing draws from itself on the occasion of these

SENSIBILITY; UNDERSTANDING; REASON.--Those who believe that all we
think proceeds from the senses are therefore wrong; so too are those wrong
who believe that all we think proceeds from ourselves. To say, Matter is an
appearance, and to say, Ideas are appearances, are equally false doctrines.
Now we know by sensibility, by understanding, and by reason. By sensibility
we receive the impression of phenomena; by the understanding we impose on
these impressions their forms, and link them up together; by reason we give
ourselves general ideas of things--universal ones, going beyond or
believing they go beyond the data, even when linked up and systematized.

Let us analyse sensibility, understanding, and reason. Sensibility already
has the forms it imposes on things. These forms are time and space. Time
and space are not given us by matter like colour, smell, taste, or sound;
they are not perceived by the senses; they are therefore the forms of our
sensibility: we can feel only according to time and space, by lodging what
we feel in space and time; these are the conditions of sensibility.
Phenomena are thus perceived by us under the laws of space and of time.
What do they become in us? They are seized by the understanding, which also
has its forms, its powers of classification, of arrangement, and of
connection. Its forms or powers, or, putting it more exactly, its active
forms are, for example, the conception of quantity being always equal:
through all phenomena the quantity of substance remains always the same;
the conception of causality: everything has a cause and every cause has an
effect and it is ever thus. Those are the conditions of our understanding,
those without which we do not understand and the forms which within us we
impose on all things in order to understand them.

It is thus that we know the world; which is tantamount to stating that the
world exists, so far as we are concerned, only so long as we think
so. Reason would go further: it would seize the most general, the
universal, beyond experience, beyond the limited and restricted
systematizations established by the understanding; to know, for instance,
the first cause of all causes, the last and collective end, so to speak, of
all purposes; to know "why is there something?" and "in view of what end is
there something?" in fact, to answer all the questions of infinity and
eternity. Be sure that it cannot. How could it? It only operates, can only
operate, on the data of experience and the systematizations of the
understanding, which classify experience but do not go beyond it. Only
operating upon that, having nothing except that as matter, how could it
itself go beyond experience? It cannot. It is only (a highly important
fact, and one which must on no account be forgotten)--it is only a sign,
merely a witness. It is the sign that the human spirit has need of the
absolute; it is itself that need; without that it would not exist; it is
the witness of our invincible insistence on knowing and of our tendency to
estimate that we know nothing if we only know something; it is itself that
insistence and that tendency: without that it would not exist. Let us pause
there for the moment. Man knows of nature only those impressions which he
receives from it, co-ordinated by the forms of sensibility, and further the
ideas of it which he preserves co-ordinated by the forms of his
understanding. This is very little. It is all, if we consider only pure

PRACTICAL REASON.--_But_ there is perhaps another reason, or
another aspect of reason--to wit, practical reason. What is practical
reason? Something in us tells us: you should act, and you should act in
such a way; you should act rightly; this is not right, so do not do it;
that is right, do it. As a fact this is uncontestable. What is the
explanation? From what data of experience, from what systematization of
the understanding has our mind borrowed this? Where has it got it? Does
nature yield obedience to a "you ought"? Not at all. It exists, and it
develops and it goes its way, according to our way of seeing it in time and
space, and that is all. Does the understanding furnish the idea of "you
ought"? By no means; it gives us ideas of quantity, of quality, of cause
and effect, etc., and that is all; there is no "you ought" in all
that. Therefore this "you ought" is purely human; it is the only principle
which comes exactly from ourselves only. It might therefore well be the
very foundation of us.--It may be an illusion.--No doubt, but it is highly
remarkable that it exists, though nothing gives it birth or is of a nature
to give it birth. An illusion is a weakness of the senses or an error of
logic and is thus explained; but an illusion in itself and by itself and
only proceeding from itself is most singular and not to be explained as an
illusion. Hence it remains that it is a reality, a reality of our nature,
and given the coercive force of its voice and act, it is the most real
reality there is in us.

THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE.--Thus, at least, thought Kant, and he
said: There is a practical reason which does not go beyond experience and
does not seek to go beyond it; but which does not depend on it, is
absolutely separated from it, and is its own (human) experience by
itself. This practical reason says to us: you ought to do good. The crowd
call it conscience; I call it in a general way practical reason, and I call
it the categorical imperative when I take it in its principle, without
taking into account the applications which I foresee. Why this name? To
distinguish it clearly; for we feel ourselves commanded by other things
than it, but not in the same way. We feel ourselves commanded by prudence,
for instance, which tells us: do not run down that staircase _if_ you
do not wish to break your neck; we feel ourselves commanded by the
conventions which say: be polite _if_ you do not wish men to leave you
severely alone, etc. But conscience does not say _if_ to us: it says
bluntly "you ought" without consideration of what may or may not happen,
and it is even part of its character to scorn all consideration of
consequences. It would tell us: run down that staircase to save that child
even at the risk of breaking your neck. Because of that I call all the
other commandments made to us hypothetical imperatives and that of
conscience, alone, the categorical or absolute imperative. Here is a
definite result.

MORALITY, THE LAW OF MAN.--Yet reflect: if the foregoing be true,
morality is the very law of man, his especial law, as the law of the tree
is to spread in roots and branches. Well. But for man to be able to obey
his law he must be free, must be able to do what he wishes. That is
certain. Then it must be believed that we are free, for were we not, we
could not obey our law; and the moral law would be absurd. The moral law is
the _sign_ that we are free. Compared to this, all the other proofs of
freedom are worthless or weak. We are free because we must be so in order
to do the good which our law commands us to do.

Let us examine further. I do what is right in order to obey the law; but,
when I have done it, I have the idea that it would be unjust that I should
be punished for it, or that I should not be rewarded for it, that it would
be unjust were there not concordance between right and happiness. As it
happens, virtue is seldom rewarded in this world and often is even
punished; it draws misfortune or evil on him who practises it. Would not
that be the sign that there are two worlds of which we see only one? Would
not that be the sign that virtue unrewarded here will be rewarded elsewhere
_in order that there should not be injustice?_ It is highly probable
that this is so.

But for that it is necessary that the soul be immortal. It is so, since it
is necessary that it should be. The moral law is accomplished and
consummated in rewards or penalties beyond the grave, which pre-suppose the
immortality of the soul. All the other proofs of the immortality of the
soul are worthless or feeble beside this one which demonstrates that were
there no immortality of the soul there would be no morality.

GOD.--And, finally, if justice is one day to be done, this supposes
a Judge. It is neither ourselves who in another life will do justice to
ourselves nor yet some force of circumstances which will do it to us. It is
necessary to have an intelligence conceiving justice and a will to realise
it. God is this intelligence and this will.

All the other proofs of God are weak or worthless beside this one. The
existence of God has been deduced from the idea of God: if we have the idea
of God, it is necessary that He should exist. A weak proof, for we can have
an idea which does not correspond with an object. The existence of God has
been deduced from the idea of causality; for all that is, a cause is
necessary, this cause is God. A weak proof, for things being as they are,
there is necessity for ... cause; but a cause and a _single_ cause,
why? There could be a series of causes to infinity and thus the cause of
the world could be the world itself. The existence of God has been deduced
from the idea of design well carried out. The composition, the ordering of
this world is admired; this world is well made; it is like a clock. The
clock supposes a clock-maker; the fine composition of the world supposes an
intelligence which conceived a work to be made and which made it. Perhaps;
but this consideration only leads to the idea of a manipulation of matter,
of a demiurge, as the Greeks said, of an architect, but not to the idea of
a _Creator;_ it may even lead only to the idea of several architects
and the Greeks perfectly possessed the idea of a fine artistic order
existing in the world when they believed in a great number of deities. This
proof also is therefore weak, although Kant always treats it with respect.

The sole convincing proof is the existence of the moral law in the heart of
man. For the moral law to be accomplished, for it not to be merely a tyrant
over man, for it to be realised in all its fullness, weighing on man here
but rewarding him infinitely elsewhere, which means there is justice in all
that, it is necessary that somewhere there should be an absolute realizer
of justice. God must exist for the world to be moral.

Why is it necessary for the world to be moral? Because an immoral world
with even a single moral being in it would be a very strange thing.

Thus, whilst the majority of philosophers deduced human liberty from God,
and the spirituality of the soul from human liberty, the immortality of the
soul from human spirituality, and morality from human immortality, Kant
starts from morality as from the incontestable fact, and from morality
deduces liberty, and from liberty spirituality, and God from the
immortality of the soul with the consequent realization of justice.

He has effected an extraordinarily powerful reversal of the argument
generally employed.

THE INFLUENCE OF KANT.--The influence of Kant has been incomparable
or, if you will, comparable only to those of Plato, Zeno, and
Epicurus. Half at least of the European philosophy of the nineteenth
century has proceeded from him and is closely connected with him. Even in
our own day, pragmatism, as it is called--that is, the doctrine which lays
down that morality is the measure of truth and that an idea is true only if
it be morally useful--is perhaps an alteration of Kantism, a Kantian
heresy, but entirely penetrated with and, as it were, excited by the spirit
of Kant.



The great reconstructors of the world, analogous to the
first philosophers of antiquity.

Great general systems: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, etc.

FICHTE.--Fichte, embarrassed by what remained of experience in the
ideas of Kant, by the part, restricted though it was, which Kant left to
things in the external world, completely suppressed the external world,
like Berkeley, and affirmed the existence of the human _ego_
alone. Kant said that the world furnished us with the matter of the idea
and that we furnished the form. According to Fichte, form and matter alike
came from us. What then is sensation? It is nothing except the pause of the
_ego_ encountering what is not self, the impact of the _ego_
against what limits it.--But then the external world does exist, for how
could our mind be encountered by nothing and there be an impact of our mind
against nothing?--But this non-self that encounters self is precisely a
product of self, a product of the imagination which creates an object,
which projects outside us an appearance before which we pause as before
something real which should be outside us.

This theory is very difficult to understand, but indicates a very fine
effort of the mind.

Yet outside ourselves is there anything? There is pure spirit, God. What
is God? For Fichte He is moral order (a very evident recollection of
Kant). Morality is God and God is morality. We are in God, and it is the
whole of religion, when we do our duty without any regard to the
consequences of our actions; we are outside God, and it is atheism, when we
act in view of what results our actions may have. And thus morality and
religion run into one another, and religion is only morality in its
plenitude and complete morality is the whole of religion. "The holy, the
beautiful, and the good are the immediate apparition [if it could be] in us
of the essence of God."

SCHELLING.--Schelling desired to correct what, according to him, was
too radical in the idealism of Fichte. He restored the external world; for
him the _non-ego_ and the _ego_ both exist and the two are
_nature_, nature which is the object in the world regarded by man, the
subject when it regards man, subject and object according to the case; in
itself and in its totality neither subject nor object, but absolute,
unlimited, indeterminate. Confronting this world (that is nature and man)
there is another world which is God. God is the infinite and the perfect,
and particularly the perfect and infinite will. The world that we know is a
debasement from that without our being able to conceive how the perfect can
be degraded, and how an emanation of the perfect can be imperfect and how
the non-being can come out of being, since relatively to the infinite, the
finite has no existence, and relatively to perfection, the imperfect is

It appears however that it is thus, and that the world is an emanation of
God in which He degrades Himself and a degradation of God such that it
opposes itself to Him as nothing to everything. It is a fall. The fall of
man in the Scriptures may give an idea, however distant, of that.

HEGEL.--Hegel, a contemporary of Schelling, and often in
contradiction to him, is the philosopher of "_becoming_" and of the
idea which always "becomes" something. The essence of all is the idea, but
the idea in progress; the idea makes itself a thing according to a rational
law which is inherent in it, and the thing makes itself an idea in the
sense that the idea contemplating the thing it has become thinks it and
fills itself with it in order to become yet another thing, always following
the rational law; and this very evolution, all this evolution, all this
becoming, is that absolute for which we are always searching behind things,
at the root of things, and which is _in_ the things themselves.

The rationally active is everything; and activity and reality are synonyms,
and all reality is active, and what is not active is not real, and what is
not active has no existence.

Let not this activity be regarded as always advancing forward; the becoming
is not a river which flows; activity is activity and retro-activity. The
cause is cause of the effect, but also the effect is cause of its cause.
In fact the cause would not be cause if it had no effect; it is therefore,
thanks to its effect, because of its effect, that the cause is cause; and
therefore the effect is the cause of the cause as much as the cause is
cause of the effect.

A government is the effect of the character of a people, and the character
of a people is the effect also of its government; my son proceeds from me,
but he reacts on me, and because I am his father I have the character which
I gave him, more pronounced than before, etc.

Hence, all effect is cause as all cause is effect, which everybody has
recognized, but in addition all effect is cause of its cause and in
consequence, to speak in common language, all effect is cause forward and
backward, and the line of causes and effects is not a straight line but a

THE DEISM OF HEGEL.--God disappears from all that. No, Hegel is very
formally a deist, but he sees God in the total of things and not outside
things, yet distinct. In what way distinct? In this, that God is the
totality of things considered not in themselves but in the spirit that
animates them and the force that urges them, and because the soul is of
necessity in the body, united to the body, that is no reason why it should
not be distinct from it. And having taken up this position, Hegel is a
deist and even accepts proofs of the existence of God which are regarded by
some as hackneyed. He accepts them, only holding them not exactly as
proofs, but as reasons for belief, and as highly faithful descriptions of
the necessary elevation of the soul to God. For example, the ancient
philosophers proved the existence of God by the contemplation of the
marvels of the universe: "That is not a 'proof,'" said Hegel, "that is not
a proof, but it is a great reason for belief; for it is an exposition, a
very exact although incomplete account rendered of the fact that by
contemplation of the world the human mind rises to God." Now this fact is
of singular importance: it indicates that it is impossible to think
strongly without thinking of God. "When the passage [although
insufficiently logical] from the finite to the infinite does not take
place, it may be said that there is no thought." Now this is a reason for

After the same fashion, the philosophers have said "from the moment that we
imagine God, the reason is that He is." Kant ridiculed this proof. Granted,
it is not an invincible proof, but this fact alone that we cannot imagine
God without affirming His existence indicates a tendency of our mind which
is to relate finite thought to infinite thought and not to admit an
imperfect thought which should not have its source in a perfect thought;
and that is rather an invincible belief than a proof, but that this belief
is invincible and necessary in itself is an extremely commanding proof,
although a relative one.

HIS POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.--The philosophy of the human mind and
political philosophy according to Hegel are these. Primitive man is mind,
reason, conscience, but he is so only potentially, as the philosophers
express it; that is to say, he is so only in that he is capable of becoming
so. Really, practically, he is only instincts: he is egoist like the
animals [it should be said like the greater part of the animals], and
follows his egoistical appetites. Society, in whatever manner it has
managed to constitute itself, transforms him and his "becoming" commences.
From the sexual instinct it makes marriage, from capture it forms regulated
proprietorship, out of defence against violence it makes legal punishment,
etc. Hence-forth, and all his evolution tends to that, man proceeds to
substitute in himself the general will for the particular will; he tends to
disindividualize himself. The general will, founded upon general utility,
is that the man be married, father, head of a family, good husband, good
father, good relative, good citizen. All that man ought to be in
consideration of the general will which he has put in the place of his own,
and which he has made his own will. That is the first advance.

It is realized (always imperfectly) in the smallest societies, in the
cities, in the little Greek republics, for example.

Here is the second advance. By war, by conquest, by annexations, by more
gentle means when possible, the stronger cities subdue the weaker, and the
great State is created. The great State has a more important part than the
city; it continues to substitute the general will for the particular wills;
but, _in addition,_ it is an idea, a great civilizing idea,
benevolent, elevating, aggrandizing, to which private interests must and
should be sacrificed. Such were the Romans who considered themselves, not
without reason, as the legislators and civilizers of the world.

THE IDEAL FORM OF STATE.--Putting aside for a while the continuation
of this subject, what political form should the great State take to conform
to its destiny? Assuredly the monarchical form; for the republican form is
always too individualist. To Hegel, the Greeks and even the Romans seem to
have conceded too much to individual liberty or to the interests of class,
of caste; they possessed an imperfect idea of the rights and functions of
the State. The ideal form of the State is monarchy. It is necessary for the
State to be contracted, gathered up, and personified in a prince who can be
personally loved, who can be reverenced, which is precisely what is
needed. These great States are only really great if they possess strong
cohesion; it is therefore necessary that they should be nationalities, as
it is called--that is, that they should be inwardly very united and highly
homogeneous by community of race, religion, customs, language, etc. The
idea to be realized by a State can only be accomplished if there be a
sufficient community of ideas in the people constituting it. However the
great State will be able to, and even ought to, conquer and annex the small
ones in order to become stronger and more capable, being stronger, of
realizing its idea. Only this should be done merely when it is certain or
clearly apparent that it represents an idea as against a people which does
not, or that it presents a better, greater, and nobler idea than that
represented by the people it attacks.

WAR.--But, as each people will always find its own idea finer than
that of another, how is this to be recognized?--By victory itself. It is
victory which proves that a people ... was stronger than another!--Not
only stronger materially but representing a greater, more practical, more
fruitful idea than the other; for it is precisely the idea which supports a
people and renders it strong. Thus, victory is the sign of the moral
superiority of a people, and in consequence force indicates where right is
and is indistinguishable from right itself, and we must not say as may
already perhaps have been said: "Might excels right," but "Might is right"
or "Right is might."

For example [Hegel might have said], France was "apparently" within her
rights in endeavouring to conquer Europe from 1792 to 1815; for she
represented an idea, the revolutionary idea, which she might consider, and
which many besides the French did consider, an advance and a civilizing
idea; but she was beaten, _which proves_ that the idea was false; and
before this demonstration by events is it not true that the republican or
Caesarian idea is inferior to that of traditional monarchy? Hegel would
certainly have reasoned thus on this point.

Therefore war is eternal and must be so. It is history itself, being the
condition of history; it is even the evolution of humanity, being the
condition of that evolution; there-fore, it is divine. Only it is purifying
itself; formerly men only fought, or practically always, from ambition; now
wars are waged for principles, to effect the triumph of an idea which has a
future, and which contains the future, over one that is out of date and
decayed. The future will see a succession of the triumphs of might which,
by definition, will be triumphs of right and which will be triumphs of
increasingly fine ideas over ideas that are barbarous and justly condemned
to perish.

Hegel has exercised great influence on the ideas of the German people both
in internal and external politics.

ART, SCIENCE, AND RELIGION.--The ideas of Hegel on art, science, and
religion are the following: Under the shelter of the State which is
necessary for their peaceful development in security and liberty, science,
literature, art, and religion pursue aims not superior to but other than
those of the State. They seek, without detaching the individual from the
society, to unite him to the whole world. Science makes him know all it
can of nature and its laws; literature, by studying man in himself and in
his relations with the world, imbues him with the sentiment of the possible
concordance of the individual with the universe; the arts make him love
creation by unravelling and bringing into the light and into relief all
that is beautiful in it relatively to man, and all that in consequence
should render it lovely, respected, and dear to him; religion, finally,
seeks to be a bond between all men and a bond between all men and God; it
sketches the plan of universal brotherhood which is ideally the last state
of humanity, a state which no doubt it will never attain, but which it is
essential it should imagine and believe to be possible, without which it
always would be drawn towards animality more and much more than it is.

The Hegelian philosophy has exercised an immense influence throughout
Europe not only on philosophic studies, but on history, art, and
literature. It may be regarded as the last "universal system" and as the
most daring that has been attempted by the human mind.

SCHOPENHAUER.--Schopenhauer was the philosopher of the
will. Persuaded, like Leibnitz, that man is an epitome and a picture of the
world, and that the world resembles us (which is hypothetical), he takes up
the thought of Leibnitz, changing and transforming it thus: All the
universe is not thought, but all the universe is will; thought is only an
accident of the will which appears in the superior animals; but the will,
which is the foundation of man, is the foundation of all; the universe is a
compound of wills that act. All beings are wills which possess organs
conformed to their purpose. It is _the will to be_ which gave claws to
the lion, tusks to the boar, and intelligence to man, because he was the
most unarmed of animals, just as to one who becomes blind it gives
extraordinarily sensitive and powerful sense of hearing, smell, and
touch. Plants strive towards light by their tops and towards moisture by
their roots; the seed turns itself in the earth to send forth its stalk
upwards and its rootlet downward. In minerals there are "constant
tendencies" which are nothing but obscure wills; what we currently term
weight, fluidity, impenetrability, electricity, chemical affinities, are
nothing but natural wills or inconscient wills. Because of this, the
diverse wills opposing and clashing with one another, the world is a war of
all against all and of _everything_ literally against _everything_; and
the world is a scene of carnage.

The truth is that will is an evil and is the evil. What is needed for
happiness is to kill the will, to destroy the wish to be.--But this would
be the end of existence?--And in fact to be no more or not to be at all is
the true happiness and it would be necessary to blow up the whole world in
an explosion for it to escape unhappiness. At least, as Buddhism desired
and, in some degree, though less, Christianity also, it is necessary to
make an approach to death by a kind of reduction to the absolute minimum of
will, by detachment and renunciation pushed as far as can be.

NIETZSCHE.--A very respectful but highly independent and untractable
pupil of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche "turns Schopenhauer inside out" as it
were, saying: Yes, assuredly the will to be is everything; but precisely
because of that it is essential not to oppose but to follow it and to
follow it as far as it will lead us. But is it not true that it will lead
to suffering? Be sure of that, but in suffering there is an intoxication of
pain which is quite comprehensible; for it is the intoxication of the will
in action; and this intoxication is an enjoyment too and in any case a good
thing; for it is the end to which we are urged by our nature composed of
will and of hunger for existence. Now wisdom, like happiness, is to follow
our nature. The happiness and wisdom of man is to obey his will for power,
as the wisdom and happiness of water is to flow towards the sea.

From these ideas is derived a morality of violence which can be
legitimately regarded as immoral and which, in any case, is neither
Buddhist nor Christian, but which is susceptible of several
interpretations, all the more so because Nietzsche, who was a poet, never
fails, whilst always artistically very fine, to fall into plenty of



The Doctrines of Evolution and of Transformism:
Lamarck (French), Darwin, Spencer.

TRANSFORMISM AND EVOLUTION.--The great philosophic invention of the
English of the nineteenth century has been the idea, based on a wide
knowledge of natural history, that there never was creation. The animal
species had been considered by all the philosophers (except Epicurus and
the Epicureans) as being created once and for all and remaining
invariable. Nothing of the kind. Matter, eternally fruitful, has
transformed itself first into plants, then into lower animals, then into
higher animals, then into man; our ancestor is the fish; tracing back yet
more remotely, our ancestor is the plant. Transformation (hence the name
_transformism_), discrimination and separation of species, the
strongest individuals of each kind alone surviving and creating descendants
in their image which constitute a species; evolution (hence the name
_evolutionism_) of living nature thus operating from the lowest types
to the highest and therefore the most complicated; there is nothing but
that in the world.

LAMARCK; DARWIN; SPENCER.--The Frenchman Lamarck in the eighteenth
century had already conceived this idea; Darwin, purely a naturalist, set
it forth clearly, Spencer again stated it and drew from it consequences of
general philosophy. Thus, to Spencer, the evolutionist theory contains no
immorality. On the contrary, the progressive transformation of the human
species is an ascent towards morality; from egoism is born altruism because
the species, seeking its best law and its best condition of happiness,
perceives a greater happiness in altruism; seeking its best law and its
best condition of happiness, perceives that a greater happiness lies in
order, regular life, social life, etc.; so that humanity raises itself to a
higher and yet higher morality by the mere fact of adapting itself better
to the conditions of the life of humanity. Morality develops
physiologically as the germ becomes the stem and the bud becomes the

As for religion it is the domain of the unknowable. That is not to assert
that it is nothing. On the contrary it is something formidable and
immense. It is the feeling that something, apart from all that we know,
surpasses us and that we shall never know it. Now this feeling at the same
time maintains us in a humility highly favourable to the health of the soul
and also in a serene confidence in the mysterious being who presides over
universal evolution and who, no doubt, is the all-powerful and eternal soul
of it.



The Eclectic School: Victor Cousin.

The Positivist School: Auguste Comte.

The Kantist School: Renouvier.

Independent and Complex Positivists: Taine, Renan.

LAROMIGUIERE: ROYER-COLLARD.--Emerging from the school of Condillac,
France saw Laromiguiere who was a sort of softened Condillac, less
trenchant, and not insensible to the influence of Rousseau; but he was
little more than a clear and elegant professor of philosophy. Royer-Collard
introduced into France the Scottish philosophy (Thomas Reid, Dugald
Stewart) and did not depart from it or go beyond it; but he set it forth
with magnificent authority and with a remarkable invention of clear and
magisterial formulae.

MAINE DE BIRAN.--Maine de Biran was a renovator. He attached himself
to Descartes linking the chain anew that had for so long been
interrupted. He devoted his attention to the notion of _ego_. In full
reaction from the "sensualism" of Condillac, he restored a due activity to
the _ego_; he made it a force not restricted to the reception of
sensations, which transform themselves, but one which seized upon,
elaborated, linked together, and combined them. For him then, as for
Descartes, but from a fresh point of view, the voluntary deed is the
primitive deed of the soul and the will is the foundation of man. Also, the
will is not all man; man has, so to say, three lives superimposed but very
closely inter-united and which cannot do without one another: the life of
sensation, the life of will, and the life of love. The life of sensation is
almost passive, with a commencement of activity which consists in
classifying and organizing the sensations; the life of will is properly
speaking the "human" life; the life of love is the life of activity and yet
again of will, but which unites the human with the divine life. By the
ingenious and profound subtlety of his analyses, Maine de Biran has placed
himself in the front rank of French thinkers and, in any case, he is one of
the most original.

VICTOR COUSIN AND HIS DISCIPLES.--Victor Cousin, who appears to have
been influenced almost concurrently by Maine de Biran, Royer-Collard, and
the German philosophy, yielded rapidly to a tendency which is
characteristically French and is also, perhaps, good, and which consists in
seeing "some good in all the opinions," and he was eclectic, that is, a
borrower. His maxim, which he had no doubt read in Leibnitz, was that the
systems are "true in what they affirm and false in what they deny."
Starting thence, he rested upon both the English and German philosophy,
correcting one by the other. Personally his tendency was to make
metaphysics come from philosophy and to prove God by the human soul and the
relations of God with the world by the relations of man with matter. To him
God is always an augmented human soul. All philosophies, not to mention all
religions, have rather an inclination to consider things thus: but this
tendency is particularly marked in Cousin. In the course of his career,
which was diversified, for he was at one time a professor and at another a
statesman, he varied somewhat, because before 1830 he became very Hegelian,
and after 1830 he harked back towards Descartes, endeavouring especially to
make philosophic instruction a moral priesthood; highly cautious, very
well-balanced, feeling great distrust of the unassailable temerities of the
one and in sympathetic relations with the other. What has remained of this
eclecticism is an excellent thing, the great regard for the _history_
of philosophy, which had never been held in honour in France and which,
since Cousin, has never ceased to be so.

The principal disciples of Cousin were Jouffroy, Damiron, Emile Saisset,
and the great moralist Jules Simon, well-known because of the important
political part he played.

LAMENNAIS.--Lamennais, long celebrated for his great book, _Essay
on Indifference in the Matter of Religion_, then, when he had severed
himself from Rome, by his _Words of a Believer_ and other works of
revolutionary spirit, was above all a publicist; but he was a philosopher,
properly speaking, in his _Sketch of a Philosophy_. To him, God is
neither the Creator, as understood by the early Christians, nor the Being
from whom the world emanates, as others have thought. He has not created
the world from nothing; but He has created it; He created it from Himself,
He made it issue from His substance; and He made it issue by a purely
voluntary act. He created it in His own image; it is not man alone who is
in the image of God, but the whole world. The three Persons of God, that
is, the three characteristics, power, intelligence, and love are
found--diminished and disfigured indeed, but yet are to be found--in every
being in the universe. They are especially our own three powers, under the
form of will, reason, sympathy; they are also the three powers of society,
under the forms of executive power, deliberation, and fraternity. Every
being, individual or collective, has in it a principle of death if it
cannot reproduce however imperfectly all the three terms of this trinity
without the loss of one.

AUGUSTE COMTE.--Auguste Comte, a mathematician, versed also in all
sciences, constructed a pre-eminently negative philosophy in spite of his
great pretension to replace the negations of the eighteenth century by a
positive doctrine; above all else he denied all authority and denied to
metaphysics the right of existence. Metaphysics ought not to exist, do not
exist, are a mere nothing. We know nothing, we can know nothing, about the
commencement or the end of things, or yet their essence or their object;
philosophy has always laid down as its task a general explanation of the
universe; it is precisely this general explanation, all general explanation
of the aggregate of things, which is impossible. This is the negative part
of "positivism." It is the only one which has endured and which is the
_credo_ or rather the _non credo_ of a fairly large number of

The affirmative part of the ideas of Comte was this: what can be done is to
make a classification of sciences and a philosophy of history. The
classification of sciences according to Comte, proceeding from the most
simple to the most complex--that is, from mathematics to astronomy,
physics, chemistry, biology to end at sociology, is generally considered by
the learned as interesting but arbitrary. The philosophy of history,
according to Comte, is this: humanity passes through three states:
theological, metaphysical, positive. The theological state (antiquity)
consists in man explaining everything by continual miracles; the
metaphysical state (modern times) consists in man explaining everything by
ideas, which he still continues to consider somewhat as beings, by
abstractions, entities, vital principle, attraction, gravitation, soul,
faculty of the soul, etc. The positive state consists in that man explains
and will explain all things, or rather limits himself and will limit
himself to verifying them, by the links that he will see they have with one
another, links he will content himself with observing and subsequently with
controlling by experiment. Also there is always something of the succeeding
state in the preceding state and the ancients did not ignore observation,
and there is always something of the preceding state in the succeeding
state and we have still theological and metaphysical habits of mind,
theological and metaphysical "residues," and perhaps it will be always
thus; but for theology to decline before metaphysics and metaphysics before
science is progress.

Over and above this, Comte in the last portion of his life--as if to prove
his doctrine of residues and to furnish an example--founded a sort of
religion, a pseudo-religion, the religion of humanity. Humanity must be
worshipped in its slow ascent towards intellectual and moral perfection
(and, in consequence, we should specially worship humanity to come; but
Comte might reply that humanity past and present is venerable because it
bears in its womb the humanity of the future). The worship of this new
religion is the commemoration and veneration of the dead. These last
conceptions, fruits of the sensibility and of the imagination of Auguste
Comte, have no relation with the basis of his doctrine.

RENOUVIER.--After him, by a vigorous reaction, Renouvier restored
the philosophy of Kant, depriving it of its too symmetrical, too minutely
systematic, too scholastic character and bringing it nearer to facts; from
him was to come the doctrine already mentioned, "pragmatism," which
measures the truth of every idea by the moral consequence that it contains.

TAINE.--Very different and attaching himself to the general ideas of
Comte, Hippolyte Taine believed only in what has been observed,
experimented, and demonstrated; but being also as familiar with Hegel as
with Comte, with Spencer as with Condillac, he never doubted that the need
of going beyond and escaping from oneself was also a fact, a human fact
eternal among humanity, and of this fact he took account as of a fact
observed and proved, saying if man is on one side a "fierce and lascivious


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