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Title: Christianity and Greek Philosophy
       or, the relation between spontaneous and reflective thought
              in Greece and the positive teaching of Christ and His

Author: Benjamin Franklin Cocker

Release Date: December 20, 2008 [EBook #27571]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Rénald Lévesque and the
Online Distributed Proofreaders Europe at








"Plato made me know the true God, Jesus Christ showed me the way to him."





Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.




iv [Blank Page]



In preparing the present volume, the writer has been actuated by a conscientious desire to deepen and vivify our faith in the Christian system of truth, by showing that it does not rest solely on a special class of facts, but upon all the facts of nature and humanity; that its authority does not repose alone on the peculiar and supernatural events which transpired in Palestine, but also on the still broader foundations of the ideas and laws of the reason, and the common wants and instinctive yearnings of the human heart. It is his conviction that the course and constitution of nature, the whole current of history, and the entire development of human thought in the ages anterior to the advent of the Redeemer centre in, and can only be interpreted by, the purpose of redemption.

The method hitherto most prevalent, of treating the history of human thought as a series of isolated, disconnected, and lawless movements, without unity and purpose; and the practice of denouncing the religions and philosophies of the ancient world as inventions of satanic mischief, or as the capricious and wicked efforts of humanity to relegate itself from the bonds of allegiance to the One Supreme Lord and Lawgiver, have, in his judgment, been prejudicial to the interests of all truth, and especially injurious to the cause of Christianity. They betray an utter insensibility to the grand unities of nature and of thought, and a strange forgetfulness of that universal Providence which comprehends all nature and all history, and is yet so minute in its regards that it numbers the hairs on every vi human head, and takes note of every sparrow's fall, A juster method will lead us to regard the entire history of human thought as a development towards a specific end, and the providence of God as an all-embracing plan, which sweeps over all ages and all nations, and which, in its final consummation, will, through Christ, "gather together all things in one, both things which are in heaven and things which are on earth."

The central and unifying thought of this volume is that the necessary ideas and laws of the reason, and the native instincts of the human heart, originally implanted by God, are the primal and germinal forces of history; and that these have been developed under conditions which were first ordained, and have been continually supervised by the providence of God. God is the Father of humanity, and he is also the Guide and Educator of our race. As "the offspring of God," humanity is not a bare, indeterminate potentiality, but a living energy, an active reason, having definite qualities, and inheriting fundamental principles and necessary ideas which constitute it "the image and likeness of God." And though it has suffered a moral lapse, and, in the exercise of its freedom, has become alienated from the life of God, yet God has never abandoned the human race. He still "magnifies man, and sets his heart upon him." "He visits him every morning, and tries him every moment." "The inspiration of the Almighty still gives him understanding." The illumination of the Divine Logos still "teacheth man knowledge." The Spirit of God still comes near to and touches with strong emotion every human heart. "God has never left himself without a witness" in any nation, or in any age. The providence of God has always guided the dispersions and migrations of the families of the earth, and presided over and directed the education of the race. "He has foreordained the times of each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical boundaries of their habitations, in order that they should seek the Lord, and feel after and find Him who is not far from any one of us." The religions of the ancient world were the painful effort of the human spirit to return to its true rest and vii centre--the struggle to "find Him" who is so intimately near to every human heart, and who has never ceased to be the want of the human race. The philosophies of the ancient world were the earnest effort of human reason to reconcile the finite and the infinite, the human and the Divine, the subject and God. An overruling Providence, which makes even the wrath of man to praise Him, took up all these sincere, though often mistaken, efforts into his own plan, and made them sub-serve the purpose of redemption. They aided in developing among the nations "the desire of salvation," and in preparing the world for the advent of the Son of God. The entire course and history of Divine providence, in every nation, and in every age, has been directed towards the one grand purpose of "reconciling all things to Himself." Christianity, as a comprehensive scheme of reconciliation, embracing "all things," can not, therefore, be properly studied apart from the ages of earnest thought, of profound inquiry, and of intense religious feeling which preceded it. To despise the religions of the ancient world, to sneer at the efforts and achievements of the old philosophers, or even to cut them off in thought from all relation to the plans and movements of that Providence which has cared for, and watched over, and pitied, and guided all the nations of the earth, is to refuse to comprehend Christianity itself.

The author is not indifferent to the possibility that his purpose may be misconceived. The effort may be regarded by many conscientious and esteemed theologians with suspicion and mistrust. They can not easily emancipate themselves from the ancient prejudice against speculative thought. Philosophy has always been regarded by them as antagonistic to Christian faith. They are inspired by a commendable zeal for the honor of dogmatic theology. Every essay towards a profounder conviction, a broader faith in the unity of all truth, is branded with the opprobrious name of "rationalism." Let us not be terrified by a harmless word. Surely religion and right reason must be found in harmony. The author believes, with viii Bacon, that "the foundation of all religion is right reason." The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the confession of despair. Sustained by these convictions, he submits this humble contribution to theological science to the thoughtful consideration of all lovers of Truth, and of Christ, the fountain of Truth. He can sincerely ask upon it the blessing of Him in whose fear it has been written, and whose cause it is the purpose of his life to serve.

The second series, on "Christianity and Modern Thought," is in an advanced state of preparation for the press.

NOTE.--It has been the aim of the writer, as far as the nature of the subject would permit, to adapt this work to general readers. The references to classic authors are, therefore, in all cases made to accessible English translations (in Bohn's Classical Library); such changes, however, have been made in the rendering as shall present the doctrine of the writers in a clearer and more forcible manner. For valuable services rendered in this department of the work, by Martin L. D'Ooge, m. A., Acting Professor of Greek Language and Literature in the University of Michigan, the author would here express his grateful acknowledgment.


ATHENS, AND THE MEN OF ATHENS                    13

THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION                       53

THE RELIGION OF THE ATHENIANS                    98


THE UNKNOWN GOD                                 165

THE UNKNOWN GOD (continued)                     193

THE UNKNOWN GOD (continued)                     224

THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS                      265
THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued)          295
Idealist: Pythagoras--Xenophanes--Parmenides--Zeno.
Natural Realist: Anaxagoras.

THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued)          326

THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued)          353

THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued)          388

THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued)          422
Epicurus and Zeno.


    PHILOSOPHY. (continued)                     495
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"Ye men of Athens, all things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion; for, as I passed through your city and beheld the objects of your worship, I found amongst them an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD; whom, therefore, ye worship, though ye know; Him not, Him declare I unto you. God who made the world and all things therein, seeing He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is He served by the hands of men, as though he needed any thing; for He giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things. And He made of one blood all the nations of mankind to dwell upon the face of the whole earth; and ordained to each the appointed seasons of their existence, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. Forasmuch, then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by the art and device of man. Howbeit, those past times of ignorance God hath overlooked; but now He commandeth all men everywhere to repent, because He hath appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from the dead."--Acts xvii. 22-31.




"Is it not worth while, for the sake of the history of men and nations, to study the surface of the globe in its relation to the inhabitants thereof?"--Goethe.

There is no event recorded in the annals of the early church so replete with interest to the Christian student, or which takes so deep a hold on the imagination, and the sympathies of him who is at all familiar with the history of Ancient Greece, as the one recited above. Here we see the Apostle Paul standing on the Areopagus at Athens, surrounded by the temples, statues, and altars, which Grecian art had consecrated to Pagan worship, and proclaiming to the inquisitive Athenians, "the strangers" who had come to Athens for business or for pleasure, and the philosophers and students of the Lyceum, the Academy, the Stoa, and the Garden, "the unknown God."

Whether we dwell in our imagination on the artistic grandeur and imposing magnificence of the city in which Paul found himself a solitary stranger, or recall the illustrious names which by their achievements in arts and philosophy have shed around the city of Athens an immortal glory,--or whether, fixing our attention on the lonely wanderer amid the porticoes, and groves, and temples of this classic city, we attempt to conceive the emotion which stirred his heart as he beheld it "wholly given to idolatry;" or whether we contrast the sublime, majestic theism proclaimed by Paul with the degrading polytheism and degenerate philosophy which then prevailed in Athens, or consider the prudent and sagacious manner in which the apostle conducts his argument in view of the religious opinions and prejudices of his audience, we can not but feel that this event is fraught with lessons of instruction to the Church in every age.

That the objects which met the eye of Paul on every hand, and the opinions he heard everywhere expressed in Athens, must have exerted a powerful influence upon the current of his thoughts, as well as upon the state of his emotions, is a legitimate and natural presumption. Not only was "his spirit stirred within him"--his heart deeply moved and agitated when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry--but his thoughtful, philosophic mind would be engaged in pondering those deeply interesting questions which underlie the whole system of Grecian polytheism. The circumstances of the hour would, no doubt, in a large degree determine the line of argument, the form of his discourse, and the peculiarities of his phraseology. The more vividly, therefore, we can represent the scenes and realize the surrounding incidents; the more thoroughly we can enter into sympathy with the modes of thought and feeling peculiar to the Athenians; the more perfectly we can comprehend the spirit and tendency of the age; the more immediate our acquaintance with the religious opinions and philosophical ideas then prevalent in Athens, the more perfect will be our comprehension of the apostle's argument, the deeper our interest in his theme. Some preliminary notices of Athens and "the Men of Athens" will therefore be appropriate as introductory to a series of discourses on Paul's sermon on Mars' Hill.

The peculiar connection that subsists between Geography and History, between a people and the country they inhabit, will justify the extension of our survey beyond the mere topography 15 of Athens. The people of the entire province of Attica were called Athenians (Αθηναίοι) in their relation to the state, and Attics (Αττικοί) in regard to their manners, customs, and dialect. 1 The climate and the scenery, the forms of contour and relief, the geographical position and relations of Attica, and, indeed, of the whole peninsula of Greece, must be taken into our account if we would form a comprehensive judgment of the character of the Athenian people.

The soil on which a people dwell, the air they breathe, the mountains and seas by which they are surrounded, the skies that overshadow them,--all these exert a powerful influence on their pursuits, their habits, their institutions, their sentiments, and their ideas. So that could we clearly group, and fully grasp all the characteristics of a region--its position, configuration, climate, scenery, and natural products, we could, with tolerable accuracy, determine what are the characteristics of the people who inhabit it. A comprehensive knowledge of the physical geography of any country will therefore aid us materially in elucidating the natural history, and, to some extent, the moral history of its population. "History does not stand outside of nature, but in her very heart, so that the historian only grasps a people's character with true precision when he keeps in full view its geographical position, and the influences which its surroundings have wrought upon it." 2

Footnote 1: (return) Niebuhr's "Lectures on Ethnography and Geography," p. 91.
Footnote 2: (return) Ritter's "Geographical Studies," p. 34.

It is, however, of the utmost consequence the reader should understand that there are two widely different methods of treating this deeply interesting subject--methods which proceed on fundamentally opposite views of man and of nature. One method is that pursued by Buckle in his "History of Civilization in England." The tendency of his work is the assertion of the supremacy of material conditions over the development of human history, and indeed of every individual mind. Here man is purely passive in the hands of nature. Exterior conditions are the chief, if not the only causes of man's intellectual 16 and social development. So that, such a climate and soil, such aspects of nature and local circumstances being given, such a nation necessarily follows. 3 The other method is that of Carl Ritter, Arnold Guyot, and Cousin. 4 These take account of the freedom of the human will, and the power of man to control and modify the forces of nature. They also take account of the original constitution of man, and the primitive type of nations; and they allow for results arising from the mutual conflict of geographical conditions. And they, especially, recognize the agency of a Divine Providence controlling those forces in nature by which the configuration of the earth's surface is determined, and the distribution of its oceans, continents, and islands is secured; and a providence, also, directing the dispersions and migrations of nations--determining the times of each nation's existence, and fixing the geographical bounds of their habitation, all in view of the moral history and spiritual development of the race,--"that they may feel after, and find the living God." The relation of man and nature is not, in their estimation, a relation of cause and effect. It is a relation of adjustment, of harmony, and of reciprocal action and reaction. "Man is not"--says Cousin--"an effect, and nature the cause, but there is between man and nature a manifest harmony of general laws."... "Man and nature are two great effects which, coming from the same cause, bear the same characteristics; so that the earth, and he who inhabits it, man and nature, are in perfect harmony." 5 God has created both man and the universe, and he has established between them a striking harmony. The earth was made for man; not simply to supply his physical wants, but also to minister to his intellectual and moral development. The earth is not a mere dwelling-place of nations, but a school-house, in which God himself is superintending the education of the race. Hence 17 we must not only study the events of history in their chronological order, but we must study the earth itself as the theatre of history. A knowledge of all the circumstances, both physical and moral, in the midst of which events take place, is absolutely necessary to a right judgment of the events themselves. And we can only elucidate properly the character of the actors by a careful study of all their geographical and ethological conditions.

Footnote 3: (return) See chap. ii. "History of Civilization."
Footnote 4: (return) Ritter's "Geographical Studies;" Guyot's "Earth and Man;" Cousin's "History of Philosophy," lec. vii., viii., ix.
Footnote 5: (return) Lectures, vol. i. pp. 162, 169.

It will be readily perceived that, in attempting to estimate the influence which exterior conditions exert in the determination of national character, we encounter peculiar difficulties. We can not in these studies expect the precision and accuracy which is attained in the mathematical, or the purely physical sciences. We possess no control over the "materiel" of our inquiry; we have no power of placing it in new conditions, and submitting it to the test of new experiments, as in the physical sciences. National character is a complex result--a product of the action and reaction of primary and secondary causes. It is a conjoint effect of the action of the primitive elements and laws originally implanted in humanity by the Creator, of the free causality and self-determining power of man, and of all the conditions, permanent and accidental, within which the national life has been developed. And in cases where physical and moral causes are blended, and reciprocally conditioned and modified in their operation;--where primary results undergo endless modifications from the influence of surrounding circumstances, and the reaction of social and political institutions;--and where each individual of the great aggregate wields a causal power that obeys no specific law, and by his own inherent power sets in motion new trains of causes which can not be reduced to statistics, we grant that we are in possession of no instrument of exact analysis by which the complex phenomena of national character may be reduced to primitive elements. All that we can hope is, to ascertain, by psychological analysis, what are the fundamental ideas and laws of humanity; to grasp the exterior conditions which are, 18 on all hands, recognized as exerting a powerful influence upon national character; to watch, under these lights, the manifestations of human nature on the theatre of history, and then apply the principles of a sound historic criticism to the recorded opinions of contemporaneous historians and their immediate successors. In this manner we may expect, at least, to approximate to a true judgment of history.

There are unquestionably fundamental powers and laws in human nature which have their development in the course of history. There are certain primitive ideas, imbedded in the constitution of each individual mind, which are revealed in the universal consciousness of our race, under the conditions of experience--the exterior conditions of physical nature and human society. Such are the ideas of cause and substance; of unity and infinity, which govern all the processes of discursive thought, and lead us to the recognition of Being in se;--such the ideas of right, of duty, of accountability, and of retribution, which regulate all the conceptions we form of our relations to all other moral beings, and constitute morality;--such the ideas of order, of proportion, and of harmony, which preside in the realms of art, and constitute the beau-ideal of esthetics;--such the ideas of God, the soul, and immortality, which rule in the domains of religion, and determine man a religious being. These constitute the identity of human nature under all circumstances; these characterize humanity in all conditions. Like permanent germs in vegetable life, always producing the same species of plants; or like fundamental types in the animal kingdom, securing the same homologous structures in all classes and orders; so these fundamental ideas in human nature constitute its sameness and unity, under all the varying conditions of life and society. The acorn must produce an oak, and nothing else. The grain of wheat must always produce its kind. The offspring of man must always bear his image, and always exhibit the same fundamental characteristics, not only in his corporeal nature, but also in his mental constitution.19

But the germination of every seed depends on conditions ab extra, and all germs are modified, in their development, by geographical and climatal surroundings. The development of the acorn into a mature and perfect oak greatly depends on the exterior conditions of soil, and moisture, light, and heat. By these it may be rendered luxuriant in its growth, or it may be stunted in its growth. It may barely exist under one class of conditions, or it may perish under another. The Brassica oleracea, in its native habitat on the shore of the sea, is a bitter plant with wavy sea-green leaves; in the cultivated garden it is the cauliflower. The single rose, under altered conditions, becomes a double rose; and creepers rear their stalks and stand erect. Plants, which in a cold climate are annuals, become perennial when transported to the torrid zone. 6 And so human nature, fundamentally the same under all circumstances, may be greatly modified, both physically and mentally, by geographical, social, and political conditions. The corporeal nature of man--his complexion, his physiognomy, his stature; the intellectual nature of man--his religious, ethical, and esthetical ideas are all modified by his surroundings. These modifications, of which all men dwelling in the same geographical regions, and under the same social and political institutions, partake, constitute the individuality of nations. Thus, whilst there is a fundamental basis of unity in the corporeal and spiritual nature of man, the causes of diversity are to be sought in the circumstances in which tribes and nations are placed in the overruling providence of God.

Footnote 6: (return) See Carpenter's "Compar. Physiology," p. 625; Lyell's "Principles of Geology," pp. 588, 589.

The power which man exerts over material conditions, by virtue of his intelligence and freedom, is also an important element which, in these studies, we should not depreciate or ignore. We must accept, with all its consequences, the dictum of universal consciousness that man is free. He is not absolutely subject to, and moulded by nature. He has the power to control the circumstances by which he is surrounded--to 20 originate new social and physical conditions--to determine his own individual and responsible character--and he can wield a mighty influence over the character of his fellow-men. Individual men, as Lycurgus, Solon, Pericles, Alexander, Cæsar, and Napoleon have left the impress of their own mind and character upon the political institutions of nations, and, in indirect manner, upon the character of succeeding generations of men. Homer, Plato, Cicero, Bacon, Kant, Locke, Newton, Shakspeare, Milton have left a deep and permanent impression upon the forms of thought and speech, the language and literature, the science and philosophy of nations. And inasmuch as a nation is the aggregate of individual beings endowed with spontaneity and freedom, we must grant that exterior conditions are not omnipotent in the formation of national character. Still the free causality of man is exercised within a narrow field. "There is a strictly necessitative limitation drawing an impassable boundary-line around the area of volitional freedom." The human will "however subjectively free" is often "objectively unfree;" thus a large "uniformity of volitions" is the natural consequence. 7 The child born in the heart of China, whilst he may, in his personal freedom, develop such traits of character as constitute his individuality, must necessarily be conformed in his language, habits, modes of thought, and religious sentiments to the spirit of his country and age. We no more expect a development of Christian thought and character in the centre of Africa, unvisited by Christian teaching, than we expect to find the climate and vegetation of New England. And we no more expect that a New England child shall be a Mohammedan, a Parsee, or a Buddhist, than that he shall have an Oriental physiognomy, and speak an Oriental language. Indeed it is impossible for a man to exist in human society without partaking in the spirit and manners of his country and his age. Thus all the individuals of a nation represent, in a greater or less degree, the spirit of the nation. They who do this most perfectly are the great men of that nation, because 21 they are at once both the product and the impersonation of their country and their age. "We allow ourselves to think of Shakspeare, or of Raphael, or of Phidias as having accomplished their work by the power of their individual genius, but greatness like theirs is never more than the highest degree of perfection which prevails widely around it, and forms the environment in which it grows. No such single mind in single contact with the facts of nature could have created a Pallas, a Madonna, or a Lear; such vast conceptions are the growth of ages, the creation of a nation's spirit; and the artist and poet, filled full with the power of that spirit, but gave it form, and nothing but form. Nor would the form itself have been attained by any isolated talent. No genius can dispense with experience.... Noble conceptions already existing, and a noble school of execution which will launch mind and hand upon their true courses, are indispensable to transcendent excellence. Shakspeare's plays were as much the offspring of the long generations who had pioneered the road for him, as the discoveries of Newton were the offspring of those of Copernicus." 8 The principles here enounced apply with equal force to philosophers and men of science. The philosophy of Plato was but the ripened fruit of the pregnant thoughts and seminal utterances of his predecessors,--Socrates, Anaxagoras, and Pythagoras; whilst all of them do but represent the general tendency and spirit of their country and their times. The principles of Lord Bacon's "Instauratio Magna" were incipient in the "Opus Majus" of Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar. The sixteenth century matured the thought of the thirteenth century. The inductive method in scientific inquiry was immanent in the British mind, and the latter Bacon only gave to it a permanent form. It is true that great men have occasionally appeared on the stage of history who, like the reformers Luther and Wesley, have seemed to be in conflict with the prevailing spirit of their age and nation, but these men were the creations of a providence--that providence which, from time to time, has 22 supernaturally interposed in the moral history of our race by corrective and remedial measures. These men were inspired and led by a spirit which descended from on high. And yet even they had their precursors and harbingers. Wyckliffe and John Huss, and Jerome of Prague are but the representatives of numbers whose names do not grace the historic page, who pioneered the way for Luther and the Reformation. And no one can read the history of that great movement of the sixteenth century without being persuaded there were thousands of Luther's predecessors and contemporaries who, like Staupitz and Erasmus, lamented the corruptions of the Church of Rome, and only needed the heroic courage of Luther to make them reformers also. Whilst, therefore, we recognize a free causal power in man, by which he determines his individual and responsible character, we are compelled to recognize the general law, that national character is mainly the result of those geographical and ethological, and political and religious conditions in which the nations have been placed in the providence of God.

Footnote 7: (return) See Dr. Wheedon's "Freedom of the Will," pp. 164, 165.
Footnote 8: (return) Froude, "Hist. of England," pp. 73, 74.

Nations, like persons, have an Individuality. They present certain characteristic marks which constitute their proper identity, and separate them from the surrounding nations of the earth; such, for example, as complexion, physiognomy, language, pursuits, customs, institutions, sentiments, ideas. The individuality of a nation is determined mainly from without, and not, like human individuality, from within. The laws of a man's personal character have their home in the soul; and the peculiarities and habits, and that conduct of life, which constitute his responsible character are, in a great degree, the consequence of his own free choice. But dwelling, as he does, in society, where he is continually influenced by the example and opinions of his neighbors; subject, as he is, to the ceaseless influence of climate, scenery, and other terrestrial conditions, the characteristics which result from these relations, and which are common to all who dwell in the same regions, and under the same institutions, constitute a national individuality. Individual 23 character is variable under the same general conditions, national character is uniform, because it results from causes which operate alike upon all individuals.

Now, that man's complexion, his pursuits, his habits, his ideas are greatly modified by his geographical surroundings, is the most obvious of truths. No one doubts that the complexion of man is greatly affected by climatic conditions. The appearance, habits, pursuits of the man who lives within the tropics must, necessarily, differ from those of the man who dwells within the temperate zone. No one expects that the dweller on the mountain will have the same characteristics as the man who resides on the plains; or that he whose home is in the interior of a continent will have the same habits as the man whose home is on the islands of the sea. The denizen of the primeval forest will most naturally become a huntsman. The dweller on the extended plain, or fertile mountain slope, will lead a pastoral, or an agricultural life. Those who live on the margin of great rivers, or the borders of the sea, will "do business on the great waters." Commerce and navigation will be their chief pursuits. The people whose home is on the margin of the lake, or bay, or inland sea, or the thickly studded archipelago, are mostly fishermen. And then it is a no less obvious truth that men's pursuits exert a moulding influence on their habits, their forms of speech, their sentiments, and their ideas. Let any one take pains to observe the peculiarities which characterize the huntsman, the shepherd, the agriculturist, or the fisherman, and he will be convinced that their occupations stamp the whole of their thoughts and feelings; color all their conceptions of things outside their own peculiar field; direct their simple philosophy of life; and give a tone, even, to their religious emotions.

The general aspects of nature, the climate and the scenery, exert an appreciable and an acknowledged influence on the mental characteristics of a people. The sprightliness and vivacity of the Frank, the impetuosity of the Arab, the immobility of the Russ, the rugged sternness of the Scot, the repose and 24 dreaminess of the Hindoo are largely due to the country in which they dwell, the air they breathe, the food they eat, and the landscapes and skies they daily look upon. The nomadic Arab is not only indebted to the country in which he dwells for his habit of hunting for daily food, but for that love of a free, untrammelled life, and for those soaring dreams of fancy in which he so ardently delights. Not only is the Swiss determined by the peculiarities of his geographical position to lead a pastoral life, but the climate, and mountain scenery, and bracing atmosphere inspire him with the love of liberty. The reserved and meditative Hindoo, accustomed to the profuse luxuriance of nature, borrows the fantastic ideas of his mythology from plants, and flowers, and trees. The vastness and infinite diversity of nature, the colossal magnitude of all the forms of animal and vegetable life, the broad and massive features of the landscape, the aspects of beauty and of terror which surround him, and daily pour their silent influences upon his soul, give vividness, grotesqueness, even, to his imagination, and repress his active powers. His mental character bears a peculiar and obvious relation to his geographical surroundings. 9

Footnote 9: (return) Ritter, "Geograph. Studies," p. 287.

The influence of external nature on the imagination--the creative faculty in man--is obvious and remarkable. It reveals itself in all the productions of man--his architecture, his sculpture, his painting, and his poetry. Oriental architecture is characterized by the boldness and massiveness of all its parts, and the monotonous uniformity of all its features. This is but the expression, in a material form, of that shadowy feeling of infinity, and unity, and immobility which an unbroken continent of vast deserts and continuous lofty mountain chains would naturally inspire. The simple grandeur and perfect harmony and graceful blending of light and shade so peculiar to Grecian architecture are the product of a country whose area is diversified by the harmonious blending of land and water, mountain and plain, all bathed in purest light, and canopied with skies of serenest blue. And they are also the product of 25 a country where man is released from the imprisonment within the magic circle of surrounding nature, and made conscious of his power and freedom. In Grecian architecture, therefore, there is less of the massiveness and immobility of nature, and more of the grace and dignity of man. It adds to the idea of permanence a vital expression. "The Doric column," says Vitruvius, "has the proportion, strength, and beauty of man." The Gothic architecture had its birthplace among a people who had lived and worshipped for ages amidst the dense forests of the north, and was no doubt an imitation of the interlacing of the overshadowing trees. The clustered shaft, and lancet arch, and flowing tracery, reflect the impression which the surrounding scenery had woven into the texture of the Teutonic mind.

The history of painting and of sculpture will also show that the varied "styles of art" are largely the result of the aspects which external nature presented to the eye of man. Oriental sculpture, like its architecture, was characterized by massiveness of form and tranquillity of expression; and its painting was, at best, but colored sculpture. The most striking objects are colossal figures, in which the human form is strangely combined with the brute, as in the winged bulls of Nineveh and the sphinxes of Egypt. Man is regarded simply as a part of nature, he does not rise above the plane of animal life. The soul has its immortality only in an eternal metempsychosis--a cycle of life which sweeps through all the brute creation. But in Grecian sculpture we have less of nature, more of man; less of massiveness, more of grace and elegance; less repose, and more of action. Now the connection between these styles of art, and the countries in which they were developed, is at once suggested to the thoughtful mind.

And then, finally, the literature of a people equally reveals the impress of surrounding cosmical conditions. "The poems of Ossian are but the echo of the wild, rough, cloudy highlands of his Scottish home." The forest songs of the wild Indian, the negro's plaintive melodies in the rice-fields of Carolina, the 26 refrains in which the hunter of Kamtchatka relates his adventures with the polar bear, and in which the South Sea Islander celebrates his feats and dangers on the deep, all betoken the influence which the scenes of daily life exert upon the thoughts and feelings of our race. "To what an extent nature can express herself in, and modify the culture of the individual, as well as of an entire people, can be seen on Ionian soil in the verse of Homer, which, called forth under the most favorable sky, and on the most luxuriant shore of the Grecian archipelago, not only charms us to-day, but bearing this impress, has determined what shall be the classic form throughout all coming time." 10

Footnote 10: (return) See Ritter, pp. 288, 289. Poetic art has unquestionably its geographical distributions like the fauna and flora of the globe. "If you love the images, not merely of a rich, but of a luxuriant fancy; if you are pleased with the most daring flights; if you would see a poetic creation full of wonders, then turn your eye to the poetry of the orient, where all forms appear in purple; where each flower glows like the morning ray resting on the earth. But if, on the contrary, you prefer depth of thought, and earnestness of reflection; if you delight in the colossal, yet pale forms, which float about in mist, and whisper of the mysteries of the spirit-land, and of the vanity of all things, except honor, then I must point you to the hoary north.... Or if you sympathize with that deep feeling, that longing of the soul, which does not linger on the earth, but evermore looks up to the azure tent of the stars, where happiness dwells, where the unquiet of the beating heart is still, then you must resort to the romantic poetry of the west."--"Study of Greek Literature," Bishop Esaias Tegnér, p. 38.

In seeking, therefore, to determine correctly what are the characteristics of a nation, we must endeavor to trace how far the physical constitution of that people, their temperament, their habits, their sentiments, and their ideas have been formed, or modified, under the surrounding geographical conditions, which, as we have seen, greatly determine a nation's individuality. Guided by these lights, let us approach the study of "the men of Athens."

Attica, of which Athens was the capital, and whose entire populations were called "Athenians," was the most important of all the Hellenic states. It is a triangular peninsula, the base of which is defined by the high mountain ranges of Cithæron 27 and Parnes, whilst the two other sides are washed by the sea, having their vertex at the promontory of Sunium, or Cape Colonna. The prolongation of the south-western line towards the north until it reaches the base at the foot of Mount Cithæron, served as the line of demarkation between the Athenian territory and the State of Megara. Thus Attica may be generally described as bounded on the north-east by the channel of the Negropont; on the south-west by the gulf of Ægina and part of Megara; and on the north-west by the territory which formed the ancient Bœotia, including within its limits an area of about 750 miles. 11

Hills of inferior elevation connect the mountain ranges of Cithæron and Parnes with the mountainous surface of the south-east of the peninsula. These hills, commencing with the promontory of Sunium itself, which forms the vertex of the triangle, rise gradually on the south-east to the round summit of Hymettus, and onward to the higher peak of Pentelicus, near Marathon, on the east. The rest of Attica is all a plain, one reach of which comes down to the sea on the south, at the very base of Hymettus. Here, about five miles from the shore, an abrupt rock rises from the plain, about 200 feet high, bordered on the south by lower eminences. That rock is the Acropolis. Those lower eminences are the Areopagus, the Pmyx, and the Museum. In the valley formed by these four hills we have the Agora, and the varied undulations of these hills determine the features of the city of Athens. 12

Footnote 11: (return) See art. "Attica," Encyc. Brit.
Footnote 12: (return) See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i. p. 346.

Nearly all writers on the topography of Athens derive their materials from Pausanias, who visited the city in the early part of the second century, and whose "Itinerary of Greece" is still extant. 13 He entered the city by the Peiraic gate, the same gate at which Paul entered some sixty years before. We shall place ourselves under his guidance, and, so far as we are able, 28 follow the same course, supplying some omissions, as we go along, from other sources. On entering the city, the first building which arrested the attention of Pausanias was the Pompeium, so called because it was the depository of the sacred vessels, and also of the garments used in the annual procession in honor of Athena (Minerva), the tutelary deity of Athens, from whom the city derived its name. Near this edifice stood a temple of Demeter (Ceres), containing statues of that goddess, of her daughter Persephone, and of Iacchus, all executed by Praxiteles; and beyond were several porticoes leading from the city gates to the outer Ceramicus, while the intervening space was occupied by various temples, the Gymnasium of Hermes, and the house of Polytion, the most magnificent private residence in Athens.

Footnote 13: (return) The account here given of the topography of Athens is derived mainly from the article on "Athens" in the Encyc. Brit.

There were two places in Athens known by the name of Ceramicus, one without the walls, forming part of the suburbs; and the other within the walls, embracing a very important section of the city. The outer Ceramicus was covered with the sepulchres of the Athenians who had been slain in battle, and buried at the public expense; it communicated with the inner Ceramicus by the gate Dipylum. The Ceramicus within the city probably included the Agora, the Stoa Basileios, and the Stoa Pœcile, besides various other temples and public buildings.

Having fairly passed the city gates, a long street is before us with a colonnade or cloister on either hand; and at the end of this street, by turning to the left, we might go through the whole Ceramicus to the open country, and the groves of the Academy. But we turn to the right, and enter the Agora,--the market-place, as it is called in the English translation of the sacred narrative.

We are not, however, to conceive of the market-place at Athens as bearing any resemblance to the bare, undecorated spaces appropriated to business in our modern towns; but rather as a magnificent public square, closed in by grand historic buildings, of the highest style of architecture; planted 29 with palm-trees in graceful distribution, and adorned with statues of the great men of Athens and the deified heroes of her mythology, from the hands of the immortal masters of the plastic art. This "market-place" was the great centre of the public life of the Athenians,--the meeting-place of poets, orators, statesmen, warriors, and philosophers,--a grand resort for leisure, for conversation, for business, and for news. Standing in the Agora, and looking towards the south, is the Museum, so called because it was believed that Musæus, the father of poetry, was buried there. Towards the north-west is the Pnyx, a sloping hill, partially levelled into an open area for political assemblies. To the north is seen the craggy eminence of the Areopagus, and on the north-east is the Acropolis towering high above the scene, "the crown and glory of the whole."

The most important buildings of the Agora are the Porticoes or cloisters, the most remarkable of which are the Stoa Basileios, or Portico of the king; the Stoa Eleutherius, or Portico of the Jupiter of Freedom; and the Stoa Pœcile, or Painted Porch. These Porticoes were covered walks, the roof being supported by columns, at least on one side, and by solid masonry on the other. Such shaded walks are almost indispensable in the south of Europe, where the people live much in the open air, and they afford a grateful protection from the heat of the sun, as well as a shelter from the rain. Seats were also provided where the loungers might rest, and the philosophers and rhetoricians sit down for intellectual conversation. The "Stoic" school of philosophy derived its name from the circumstance that its founder, Zeno, used to meet and converse with his disciples under one of these porticoes,--the Stoa Pœcile. These porticoes were not only built in the most magnificent style of architecture, but adorned with paintings and statuary by the best masters. On the roof of the Stoa Basileios were statues of Theseus and the Day. In front of the Stoa Eleutherius was placed the divinity to whom it was dedicated; and within were allegorical paintings, celebrating the rise of "the fierce democracy." The Stoa Pœcile derived its name 30 from the celebrated paintings which adorned its walls, and which were almost exclusively devoted to the representation of national subjects, as the contest of Theseus with the Amazons, the more glorious struggle at Marathon, and the other achievements of the Athenians; here also were suspended the shields of the Scionæans of Thrace, together with those of the Lacedemonians, taken at the island of Sphacteria.

It is beyond our purpose to describe all the public edifices,--the temples, gymnasia, and theatres which crowd the Ceramic area, and that portion of the city lying to the west and south of the Acropolis. Our object is, if possible, to convey to the reader some conception of the ancient splendor and magnificence of Athens; to revive the scenes amidst which the Athenians daily moved, and which may be presumed to have exerted a powerful influence upon the manners, the taste, the habits of thought, and the entire character of the Athenian people. To secure this object we need only direct attention to the Acropolis, which was crowded with the monuments of Athenian glory, and exhibited an amazing concentration of all that was most perfect in art, unsurpassed in excellence, and unrivalled in richness and splendor. It was "the peerless gem of Greece, the glory and pride of art, the wonder and envy of the world."

The western side of the Acropolis, which furnished the only access to the summit of the hill, was about 168 feet in breadth; an opening so narrow that, to the artists of Pericles, it appeared practicable to fill up the space with a single building, which, in serving the purpose of a gateway to the Acropolis, should also contribute to adorn, as well as fortify the citadel. This work, the greatest achievement of civil architecture in Athens, which rivalled the Parthenon in felicity of execution, and surpassed it in boldness and originality of design, consisted of a grand central colonnade closed by projecting wings. This incomparable edifice, built of Pentelic marble, received the name of Propylæa from its forming the vestibule to the five-fold gates by which the citadel was entered. In front of the right wing there stood a 31 small Ionic temple of pure white marble, dedicated to Niké Apteros (Wingless Victory).

A gigantic flight of steps conducted from the five-fold gates to the platform of the Acropolis, which was, in fact, one vast composition of architecture and sculpture dedicated to the national glory. Here stood the Parthenon, or temple of the Virgin Goddess, the glorious temple which rose in the proudest period of Athenian history to the honor of Minerva, and which ages have only partially effaced. This magnificent temple, "by its united excellences of materials, design, and decoration, internal as well as external, has been universally considered the most perfect which human genius ever planned and executed. Its dimensions were sufficiently large to produce an impression of grandeur and sublimity, which was not disturbed by any obtrusive subdivision of parts; and, whether viewed at a small or greater distance, there was nothing to divert the mind of the spectator from contemplating the unity as well as majesty of mass and outline; circumstances which form the first and most remarkable characteristic of every Greek temple erected during the purer ages of Grecian taste and genius." 14

Footnote 14: (return) Leake's "Topography of Athens," p. 209 et seq.

It would be impossible to convey any just and adequate conception of the artistic decorations of this wonderful edifice. The two pediments of the temple were decorated with magnificent compositions of statuary, each consisting of about twenty entire figures of colossal size; the one on the western pediment representing the birth of Minerva, and the other, on the eastern pediment, the contest between that goddess and Neptune for the possession of Attica. Under the outer cornice were ninety-two groups, raised in high relief from tablets about four feet square, representing the victories achieved by her companions. Round the inner frieze was presented the procession of the Parthenon on the grand quinquennial festival of the Panathenæa. The procession is represented as advancing in two parallel columns from west to east; one proceeding along the northern, the other along the southern side of the temple; part facing 32 inward after turning the angle of the eastern front, and part meeting towards the centre of that front.

The statue of the virgin goddess, the work of Phidias, stood in the eastern chamber of the cella, and was composed of ivory and gold. It had but one rival in the world, the Jupiter Olympus of the same famous artist. On the summit or apex of the helmet was placed a sphinx, with griffins on either side. The figure of the goddess was represented in an erect martial attitude, and clothed in a robe reaching to the feet. On the breast was a head of Medusa, wrought in ivory, and a figure of Victory about four cubits high. The goddess held a spear in her hand, and an ægis lay at her feet, while on her right, and near the spear, was a figure of a serpent, believed to represent that of Erichthonius.

According to Pliny, the entire height of the statue was twenty-six cubits (about forty feet), and the artist, Phidias, had ingeniously contrived that the gold with which the statue was encrusted might be removed at pleasure. The battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ was carved upon the sandals; the battle of the Amazons was represented on the ægis which lay at her feet, and on the pedestal was sculptured the birth of Pandora.

The temple of Erechtheus, the most ancient structure in Athens, stood on the northern side of the Acropolis. The statue of Zeus Polieus stood between the Propylæa and the Parthenon. The brazen colossus of Minerva, cast from the spoils of Marathon, appears to have occupied the space between the Erechtheium and the Propylæa, near the Pelasgic or northern wall. This statue of the tutelary divinity of Athens and Attica rose in gigantic proportions above all the buildings of the Acropolis, the flashing of whose helmet plumes met the sailor's eye as he approached from the Sunian promontory. And the remaining space of the wide area was literally crowded with statuary, amongst which were Theseus contending with the Minotaur; Hercules strangling the serpents; the Earth imploring showers from Jupiter; and Minerva causing the olive to sprout, while Neptune raises the waves. After these works 33 of art, it is needless to speak of others. It may be sufficient to state that Pausanias mentions by name towards three hundred remarkable statues which adorned this part of the city even after it had been robbed and despoiled by its several conquerors.

The Areopagus, or hill of Ares (Mars), so called, it is said, in consequence of that god having been the first person tried there for the crime of murder, was, beyond all doubt, the rocky height which is separated from the western end of the Acropolis by a hollow, forming a communication between the northern and southern divisions of the city. The court of the Areopagus was simply an open space on the highest summit of the hill, the judges sitting in the open air, on rude seats of stone, hewn out of the solid rock. Near to the spot on which the court was held was the sanctuary of the Furies, the avenging deities of Grecian mythology, whose presence gave additional solemnity to the scene. The place and the court were regarded by the people with superstitious reverence.

This completes, our survey of the principal buildings, monuments, and localities within the city of Athens. We do not imagine we have succeeded in conveying any adequate idea of the ancient splendor and glory of this city, which was not only the capital of Attica, but also

"The eye of Greece, mother of art and eloquence."

We trust, however, that we have contributed somewhat towards awakening in the reader's mind a deeper interest in these classic scenes, and enabling him to appreciate, more vividly, the allusions we may hereafter make to them.

The mere dry recital of geographical details, and topographical notices is, however, of little interest in itself, and by itself. A tract of country derives its chief interest from its historic associations--its immediate relations to man. The events which have transpired therein, the noble or ignoble deeds, the grand achievements, or the great disasters of which it has been the theatre, these constitute the living heart of its geography. Palestine 34 has been rendered forever memorable, not by any remarkable peculiarities in its climate or scenery, but by the fact that it was the home of God's ancient people--the Hebrews and still more, because the ardent imagination of the modern traveller still sees upon its mountains and plains the lingering footprints of the Son of God. And so Attica will always be regarded as a classic land, because it was the theatre of the most illustrious period of ancient history--the period of youthful vigor in the life of humanity, when viewed as a grand organic whole.

Here on a narrow spot of less superficies than the little State of Rhode Island there flourished a republic which, in the grandeur of her military and naval achievements, at Marathon, Thermopylæ, Platæa, and Salamis, in the sublime creations of her painters, sculptors, and architects, and the unrivalled productions of her poets, orators, and philosophers, has left a lingering glory on the historic page, which twenty centuries have not been able to eclipse or dim. The names of Solon and Pericles; of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; of Isocrates and Demosthenes; of Myron, Phidias, and Praxiteles; of Herodotus, Xenophon, and Thucydides; of Sophocles and Euripides, have shed an undying lustre on Athens and Attica.

How much of this universal renown, this imperishable glory attained by the Athenian people, is to be ascribed to their geographical position and surroundings, and to the elastic, bracing air, the enchanting scenery, the glorious skies, which poured their daily inspiration on the Athenian mind, is a problem we may scarcely hope to solve.

Of this, at least, we may be sure, that all these geographical and cosmical conditions were ordained by God, and ordained, also, for some noble and worthy end. That God, "the Father of all the families of the earth," cared for the Athenian people as much as for Jewish and Christian nations, we can not doubt. That they were the subjects of a Providence, and that, in God's great plan of human history, they had an important part to fulfill, we must believe. That God "determined the time of 35 each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical bounds of its habitation," is affirmed by Paul. And that the specific end for which the nation had its existence was fulfilled, we have the fullest confidence. So far, therefore, as we can trace the relation that subsists between the geographical position and surroundings of that nation, and its national characteristics and actual history, so far are we able to solve the problem of its destiny; and by so much do we enlarge our comprehension of the plan of God in the history of our race.

The geographical position of Greece was favorable to the freest commercial and maritime intercourse with the great historic nations--those nations most advanced in science, literature, and art. Bounded on the west by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, by the Mediterranean on the south, and on the east by the Ægean Sea, her populations enjoyed a free intercommunication with the Egyptians, Hebrews, Persians, Phœnicians, Romans, and Carthaginians. This peculiarity in the geographical position of the Grecian peninsula could not fail to awaken in its people a taste for navigation, and lead them to active commercial intercourse with foreign nations. 15 The boundless oceans on the south and east, the almost impassable mountains on the west and north of Asia, presented insurmountable obstacles to commercial intercourse. But the extended border-lands and narrow inland seas of Southern Europe allured man, in presence of their opposite shores, to the perpetual exchange of his productions. An arm of the sea is not a barrier, but rather a tie between the nations. Appearing to separate, it in reality draws them together without confounding them. 16 On such a theatre we may expect that commerce will be developed on an extensive scale. 17 And, along with commerce, there will be increased 36 activity in all departments of productive industry, and an enlarged diffusion of knowledge. "Commerce," says Ritter, "is the great mover and combiner of the world's activities." And it also furnishes the channels through which flow the world's ideas. Commerce, both in a material and moral point of view, is the life of nations. Along with the ivory and ebony, the fabrics and purple dyes, the wines and spices of the Syrian merchant, there flowed into Greece the science of numbers and of navigation, and the art of alphabetical writing from Phœnicia. Along with the fine wheat, and embroidered linen, and riches of the farther Indias which came from Egypt, there came, also, into Greece some knowledge of the sciences of astronomy and geometry, of architecture and mechanics, of medicine and chemistry; together with the mystic wisdom of the distant Orient. The scattered rays of light which gleamed in the eastern skies were thus converged in Greece, as on a focal point, to be rendered more brilliant by contact with the powerful Grecian intellect, and then diffused throughout the western world. Thus intercourse with surrounding nations, by commerce and travel, contact therewith by immigrations and colonizations, even collisions and invasions also, became, in the hands of a presiding Providence, the means of diffusing knowledge, of quickening and enlarging the active powers of man, and thus, ultimately, of a higher civilization.

Footnote 15: (return) Humboldt's "Cosmos," vol. ii. p. 143.
Footnote 16: (return) Cousin, vol. i. pp. 169, 170.
Footnote 17: (return) The advantageous situation of Britain for commerce, and the nature of the climate have powerfully contributed to the perfection of industry among her population. Had she occupied a central, internal station, like that of Switzerland, the facilities of her people for dealing with others being so much the less, their progress would have been comparatively slow, and, instead of being highly improved, their manufactures would have been still in infancy. But being surrounded on all sides by the sea, that "great highway of nations," they have been able to maintain an intercourse with the most remote as well as the nearest countries, to supply them on the easiest terms with their manufactures, and to profit by the peculiar products and capacities of production possessed by other nations. To the geographical position and climate of Great Britain, her people are mainly indebted for their position as the first commercial nation on earth.--See art. "Manufactrues," p. 277, Encyc. Brit.

Then further, the peculiar configuration of Greece, the wonderful complexity of its coast-line, its peninsular forms, the number of its islands, and the singular distribution of its mountains, all seem to mark it as the theatre of activity, of movement, of individuality, and of freedom. An extensive continent, 37 unbroken by lakes and inland seas, as Asia, where vast deserts and high mountain chains separate the populations, is the seat of immobility. 18 Commerce is limited to the bare necessities of life, and there are no inducements to movement, to travel, and to enterprise. There are no conditions prompting man to attempt the conquest of nature. Society is therefore stationary as in China and India. Enfolded and imprisoned within the overpowering vastness and illimitable sweep of nature, man is almost unconscious of his freedom and his personality. He surrenders himself to the disposal of a mysterious "fate" and yields readily to the despotic sway of superhuman powers. The State is consequently the reign of a single despotic will. The laws of the Medes and Persians are unalterable. But in Greece we have extended border-lands on the coast of navigable seas; peninsulas elaborately articulated, and easy of access. We have mountains sufficiently elevated to shade the land and diversify the scenery, and yet of such a form as not to impede communication. They are usually placed neither in parallel chains nor in massive groups, but are so disposed as to inclose extensive tracts of land admirably adapted to become the seats of small and independent communities, separated by natural boundaries, sometimes impossible to overleap. The face of the interior country,--its forms of relief, seemed as though Providence designed, from the beginning, to keep its populations socially and politically disunited. These difficulties of internal transit by land were, however, counteracted by the large proportion of coast, and the accessibility of the country by sea. The promontories and indentations in the line of the Grecian coast are hardly less remarkable than the peculiar elevations and depressions of the surface. "The shape of Peloponnesus, with its three southern gulfs, the Argolic, Laconian, and Messenian, was compared by the ancient geographers to the leaf of a plane-tree: the Pagasæan gulf on the eastern side of Greece, and the Ambrakian gulf on the western, with their narrow entrances and considerable 38 area, are equivalent to internal lakes: Xenophon boasts of the double sea which embraces so large a portion of Attica; Ephorus, of the triple sea by which Bœotia was accessible from west, north, and south--the Eubœan strait, opening a long line of country on both sides to coasting navigation. But the most important of all Grecian gulfs are the Corinthian and Saronic, washing the northern and north-eastern shores of Peloponnesus, and separated by the narrow barrier of the Isthmus of Corinth. The former, especially, lays open Ætolia, Phokis, and Bœotia, as the whole northern coast of Peloponnesus, to water approach.... It will thus appear that there was no part of Greece proper which could be considered as out of the reach of the sea, whilst most parts of it were easy of access. The sea was thus the sole channel for transmitting improvements and ideas as well as for maintaining sympathies" between the Hellenic tribes. 19 The sea is not only the grand highway of commercial intercourse, but the empire of movement, of progress, and of freedom. Here man is set free from the bondage imposed by the overpowering magnitude and vastness of continental and oceanic forms. The boisterous and, apparently, lawless winds are made to obey his will. He mounts the sea as on a fiery steed and "lays his hand upon her mane." And whilst thus he succeeds, in any measure, to triumph over nature, he wakes to conscious power and freedom. It is in this region of contact and commingling of sea and land where man attains the highest superiority. Refreshing our historic recollections, and casting our eyes upon the map of the world, we can not fail to see that all the most highly civilized nations have lived, or still live, on the margin of the sea.

Footnote 18: (return) Cousin, vol. i. pp. 151, 170.
Footnote 19: (return) Grote's "Hist, of Greece," vol. ii. pp. 221, 225.

The peculiar configuration of the territory of Greece, its forms of relief, "so like, in many respects, to Switzerland," could not fail to exert a powerful influence on the character and destiny of its people. Its inclosing mountains materially increased their defensive power, and, at the same time, inspired them with the love of liberty. Those mountains, as we have 39 seen, so unique in their distribution, were natural barriers against the invasion of foreign nations, and they rendered each separate community secure against the encroachments of the rest. The pass of Thermopylæ, between Thessaly and Phocis, that of Cithæron, between Bœotia and Attica; and the mountain ranges of Oneion and Geraneia, along the Isthmus of Corinth, were positions which could be defended against any force of invaders. This signal peculiarity in the forms of relief protected each section of the Greeks from being conquered, and at the same time maintained their separate autonomy. The separate states of Greece lived, as it were, in the presence of each other, and at the same time resisted all influences and all efforts towards a coalescence with each other, until the time of Alexander. Their country, a word of indefinite meaning to the Asiatic, conveyed to them as definite an idea as that of their own homes. Its whole landscape, with all its historic associations, its glorious monuments of heroic deeds, were perpetually present to their eyes. Thus their patriotism, concentrated within a narrow sphere, and kept alive by the sense of their individual importance, their democratic spirit, and their struggles with surrounding communities to maintain their independence, became a strong and ruling passion. Their geographical surroundings had, therefore, a powerful influence upon their political institutions. Conquest, which forces nations of different habits, characters, and languages into unity, is at last the parent of degrading servitude. These nations are only held together, as in the Roman empire, by the iron hand of military power. The despot, surrounded by a foreign soldiery, appears in the conquered provinces, simply to enforce tribute, and compel obedience to his arbitrary will. But the small Greek communities, protected by the barriers of their seas and gulfs and mountains, escaped, for centuries, this evil destiny. The people, united by identity of language and manners and religion, by common interest and facile intercommunication, could readily combine to resist the invasions of foreign nations, as well as the encroachments of their own rulers. And they were able to 40 easily model their own government according to their own necessities and circumstances and common interests, and to make the end for which it existed the sole measure of the powers it was permitted to wield. 20

Footnote 20: (return) Encyc. Brit, art. "Greece."

The soil of Attica was not the most favorable to agricultural pursuits. In many places it was stony and uneven, and a considerable proportion was bare rock, on which nothing could be grown. Not half the surface was capable of cultivation. In this respect it may be fitly compared to some of the New England States. The light, dry soil produced excellent barley, but not enough of wheat for their own consumption. Demosthenes informs us that Athens brought every year, from Byzantium, four hundred thousand medimni of wheat. The alluvial plains, under industrious cultivation, would furnish a frugal subsistence for a large population, and the mildness of the climate allowed all the more valuable products to ripen early, and go out of season last. Such conditions, of course, would furnish motives for skill and industry, and demand of the people frugal and temperate habits. The luxuriance of a tropical climate tends to improvidence and indolence. Where nature pours her fullness into the lap of ease, forethought and providence are little needed. There is none of that struggle for existence which awakens sagacity, and calls into exercise the active powers of man. But in a country where nature only yields her fruits as the reward of toil, and yet enough to the intelligent culture of the soil, there habits of patient industry must be formed. The alternations of summer and winter excite to forethought and providence, and the comparative poverty of the soil will prompt to frugality. Man naturally aspires to improve his condition by all the means within his power. He becomes a careful observer of nature, he treasures up the results of observation, he compares one fact with another and notes their relations, and he makes new experiments to test his conclusions, and thus he awakes to the vigorous exercise of all his powers. These physical conditions must develop a hardy, vigorous, prudent, and 41 temperate race; and such, unquestionably, were the Greeks. "Theophrastus, and other authors, amply attest the observant and industrious agriculture prevalent in Greece. The culture of the vine and olive appears to have been particularly elaborate and the many different accidents of soil, level, and exposure which were to be found, afforded to observant planters materials for study and comparison." 21 The Greeks were frugal in their habits and simple in their modes of life. The barley loaf seems to have been more generally eaten than the wheaten loaf; this, with salt fish and vegetables, was the common food of the population. Economy in domestic life was universal. In their manners, their dress, their private dwellings, they were little disposed to ostentation or display.

Footnote 21: (return) Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. ii. p. 230.

The climate of Attica is what, in physical geography, would be called maritime. "Here are allied the continental vigor and oceanic softness, in a fortunate union, mutually tempering each other." 22 The climate of the whole peninsula of Greece seems to be distinguished from that of Spain and Italy, by having more of the character of an inland region. The diversity of local temperature is greater; the extremes of summer and winter more severe. In Arcadia the snow has been found eighteen inches thick in January, with the thermometer at 16° Fahrenheit, and it sometimes lies on the ground for six weeks. The summits of the central chains of Pindus and most of the Albanian mountains are covered with snow from the beginning of November to the end of March. In Attica, which, being freely exposed to the sea, has in some measure an insular climate, the winter sets in about the beginning of January. About the middle of that month the snow begins to fall, but seldom remains upon the plain for more than a few days, though it lies on the summit of the mountain for a month. 23 And then, whilst Bœotia, which joins to Attica, is higher and colder, and often covered with dense fogs, Attica is remarkable for the 42 wonderful transparency, dryness, and elasticity of its atmosphere. All these climatal conditions exerted, no doubt, a modifying influence upon the character of the inhabitants. 24 In a tropical climate man is enfeebled by excessive heat. His natural tendency is to inaction and repose. His life is passed in a "strenuous idleness." His intellectual, his reflective faculties are overmastered by his physical instincts. Passion, sentiment, imagination prevail over the sober exercises of his reasoning powers. Poetry universally predominates over philosophy. The whole character of Oriental language, religion, literature is intensely imaginative. In the frozen regions of the frigid zone, where a perpetual winter reigns, and where lichens and mosses are the only forms of vegetable life, man is condemned to the life of a huntsman, and depends mainly for his subsistence on the precarious chances of the chase. He is consequently nomadic in his habits, and barbarous withal. His whole life is spent in the bare process of procuring a living. He consumes a large amount of oleaginous food, and breathes a damp heavy atmosphere, and is, consequently, of a dull phlegmatic temperament. Notwithstanding his uncertain supplies of food, he is recklessly improvident, and indifferent to all the lessons of experience. Intellectual pursuits are all precluded. There is no motive, no opportunity, and indeed no disposition for mental culture. But in a temperate climate man is stimulated to high mental activity. The alternations of heat and cold, of summer and of winter, an elastic, fresh, and bracing atmosphere, a diversity in the aspects of nature, these develop a vivacity of temperament, a quickness of sensibility as well as apprehension, and a versatility of feeling as 43 well as genius. History marks out the temperate zone as the seat of the refined and cultivated nations.

Footnote 22: (return) Guyot, "Earth and Man," p. 181.
Footnote 23: (return) Encyc. Brit., art. "Greece."
Footnote 24: (return) The influence of climatic conditions did not escape the attention of the Greeks. Herodotus, Hippocrates, and Aristotle speak of the climate of Asia as more enervating than that of Greece. They regarded the changeful character and diversity of local temperature in Greece as highly stimulating to the energies of the populations. The marked contrast between the Athenians and the Bœotians was supposed to be represented in the light and heavy atmosphere which they respectively breathed.--Grote, vol. ii. pp. 232-3.

The natural scenery of Greece was of unrivalled grandeur--surpassing Italy, perhaps every country in the world. It combined in the highest degree every feature essential to the highest beauty of a landscape except, perhaps, large rivers. But this was more than compensated for by the proximity of the sea, which, by its numerous arms, seemed to embrace the land on nearly every side. Its mountains, encircled with zones of wood, and capped with snow, though much lower than the Alps, are as imposing by the suddenness of their elevation--"pillars of heaven, the fosterers of enduring snows." 25 Rich sheltered plains lie at their feet, covered with an unequally woven mantle of trees, and shrubs, and flowers,--"the verdant gloom of the thickly-mantling ivy, the narcissus steeped in heavenly dew, the golden-beaming crocus, the hardy and ever-fresh-sprouting olive-tree," 26 and the luxuriant palm, which nourishes amid its branches the grape swelling with juice. But it is the combination of these features, in the most diversified manner, with beautiful inland bays and seas, broken by headlands, inclosed by mountains, and studded with islands of every form and magnitude, which gives to the scenery of Greece its proud pre-eminence. "Greek scenery," says Humboldt, "presents the peculiar charm of an intimate blending of sea and land, of shores adorned with vegetation, or picturesquely girt with rocks gleaming in the light of aerial tints, and an ocean beautiful in the play of the ever-changing brightness of its deep-toned wave." 27 And over all the serene, deep azure skies, occasionally veiled by light fleecy clouds, with vapory purple mists resting on the distant mountain tops. This glorious scenery of Greece is evermore the admiration of the modern traveller. "In wandering about Athens on a sunny day in March, when the asphodels are blooming on Colones, when the immortal mountains are folded in a transparent haze, and the Ægean 44 slumbers afar among his isles," he is reminded of the lines of Byron penned amid these scenes--

"Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild;

Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields,

Thine olives ripe as when Minerva smiled,

And still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields;

There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,

The freeborn wanderer of the mountain air;

Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,

Still in his beams Mendeli's marbles glare;

Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but nature still is fair." 28

Footnote 25: (return) Pindar.
Footnote 26: (return) Sophocles, "Œdipus at Colonna."
Footnote 27: (return) "Cosmos," vol. ii. p. 25.
Footnote 28: (return) Canto ii., v. lxxxvi., "Childe Harold."

The effect of this scenery upon the character, the imagination, the taste of the Athenians must have been immense. Under the influence of such sublime objects, the human mind becomes gifted as with inspiration, and is by nature filled with poetic images. "Greece became the birth-place of taste, of art, and eloquence, the chosen sanctuary of the muses, the prototype of all that is graceful, and dignified, and grand in sentiment and action."

And now, if we have succeeded in clearly presenting and properly grouping the facts, and in estimating the influence of geographical position and surroundings on national character, we have secured the natural criteria by which we examine, and even correct the portraiture of the Athenian character usually presented by the historian.

The character of the Athenians has been sketched by Plutarch 29 with considerable minuteness, and his representations have been permitted, until of late years, to pass unchallenged. He has described them as at once passionate and placable, easily moved to anger, and as easily appeased; fond of pleasantry and repartee, and heartily enjoying a laugh; pleased to hear themselves praised, and yet not annoyed by criticism and censure; naturally generous towards those who were poor and in humble circumstances, and humane even towards their enemies; jealous of their liberties, and keeping even their rulers in awe. In regard to their intellectual traits, he affirms their 45 minds were not formed for laborious research, and though they seized a subject as it were by intuition, yet wanted patience and perseverance for a thorough examination of all its bearings. "An observation," says the writer of the article on "Attica," in the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more superficial in itself, and arguing a greater ignorance of the Athenians, can not easily be imagined." Plutarch lived more than three hundred years after the palmy days of the Athenian Demos had passed away. He was a Bœotian by birth, not an Attic, and more of a Roman than a Greek in all his sympathies. We are tempted to regard him as writing under the influence of prejudice, if not of envy. He was scarcely reliable as a biographer, and as materials for history his "Parallel Lives" have been pronounced "not altogether trustworthy." 30

Footnote 29: (return) "De Præcept."
Footnote 30: (return) Encyc. of Biography, art. "Plutarch."

That the Athenians were remarkable for the ardor and vivacity of their temperament,--that they were liable to sudden gusts of passion,--that they were inconstant in their affections, intolerant of dictation, impatient of control, and hasty to resent every assumption of superiority,--that they were pleased with flattery, and too ready to lend a willing ear to the adulation of the demagogue,--and that they were impetuous and brave, yet liable to be excessively elated by success, and depressed by misfortune, we may readily believe, because such traits of character are in perfect harmony with all the facts and conclusions already presented. Such characteristics were the natural product of the warm and genial sunlight, the elastic bracing air, the ethereal skies, the glorious mountain scenery, and the elaborate blending of sea and land, so peculiar to Greece and the whole of Southern Europe. 31 These characteristics were shared 46 in a greater or less degree by all the nations of Southern Europe in ancient times, and they are still distinctive traits in the Frenchman, the Italian, and the modern Greek. 32

Footnote 31: (return) "As the skies of Hellas surpassed nearly all other climates in brightness and elasticity, so, also, had nature dealt most lovingly with the inhabitants of this land. Throughout the whole being of the Greek there reigned supreme a quick susceptibility, out of which sprang a gladsome serenity of temper, and a keen enjoyment of life; acute sense, and nimbleness of apprehension; a guileless and child-like feeling, full of trust and faith, combined with prudence and forecast. These peculiarities lay so deeply imbedded in the inmost nature of the Greeks that no revolutions of time and circumstances have yet been able to destroy them; nay, it may be asserted that even now, after centuries of degradation, they have not been wholly extinguished in the inhabitants of ancient Hellas."--"Education of the Moral Sentiment amongst the Ancient Greeks." By FREDERICK JACOBS, p. 320.
Footnote 32: (return) These are described by the modern historian and traveller as lively, versatile, and witty. "The love of liberty and independence does not seem to be rooted out of the national character by centuries of subjugation. They love to command; but though they are loyal to a good government, they are apt readily to rise when their rights and liberties are infringed. As there is little love of obedience among them, so neither is there any toleration of aristocratic pretensions."--Encyc. Brit., art. "Greece."

The consciousness of power, the feeling of independence, the ardent love of freedom induced in the Athenian mind by the objective freedom of movement which his geographical position afforded, and that subordination and subserviency of physical nature to man so peculiar to Greece, determined the democratic character of all their political institutions. And these institutions reacted upon the character of the people and intensified their love of liberty. This passionate love of personal freedom, amounting almost to disease, excited them to a constant and almost distressing vigilance. And it is not to be wondered at if it displayed itself in an extreme jealousy of their rulers, an incessant supervision and criticism of all their proceedings, and an intense and passionate hatred of tyrants and of tyranny. The popular legislator or the successful soldier might dare to encroach upon their liberties in the moment when the nation was intoxicated and dazzled with their genius, their prowess, and success; but a sudden revulsion of popular feeling, and an explosion of popular indignation, would overturn the one, and ostracism expel the other. Thus while inconstancy, and turbulence, and faction seem to have been inseparable from the democratic spirit, the Athenians were certainly constant in their love of liberty, faithful in their affection for their country, 33 and invariable in their sympathy and admiration 47 for that genius which shed glory upon their native land. And then they were ever ready to repair the errors, and make amends for the injustice committed under the influence of passionate excitement, or the headlong impetuosity of their too ardent temperament. The history of Greece supplies numerous illustrations of this spirit. The sentence of death which had been hastily passed on the inhabitants of Mytilene was, on sober reflection, revoked the following day. The immediate repentance and general sorrow which followed the condemnation of the ten generals, as also of Socrates, are notable instances.

Footnote 33: (return) When immense bribes were offered by the king of Persia to induce the Athenians to detach themselves from the alliance with the rest of the Hellenic States, she answered by the mouth of Aristides "that it was impossible for all the gold in the world to tempt the Republic of Athens, or prevail with it to sell its liberty and that of Greece!"

In their private life the Athenians were courteous, generous, and humane. Whilst bold and free in the expression of their opinions, they paid the greatest attention to rules of politeness, and were nicely delicate on points of decorum. They had a natural sense of what was becoming and appropriate, and an innate aversion to all extravagance. A graceful demeanor and a quiet dignity were distinguishing traits of Athenian character. They were temperate and frugal 34 in their habits, and little addicted to ostentation and display. Even after their victories had brought them into contact with Oriental luxury and extravagance, and their wealth enabled them to rival, in costliness and splendor, the nations they had conquered, they still maintained a republican simplicity. The private dwellings of the principal citizens were small, and usually built of clay; their interior embellishments also were insignificant--the house of Polytion alone formed an exception. 35 All their sumptuousness and magnificence were reserved for and lavished on their public edifices 48 and monuments of art, which made Athens the pride of Greece and the wonder of the world. Intellectually, the Athenians were remarkable for their quickness of apprehension, their nice and delicate perception, their intuitional power, and their versatile genius. Nor were they at all incapable of pursuing laborious researches, or wanting in persevering application and industry, notwithstanding Plutarch's assertion to the contrary. The circumstances of every-day life in Attica, the conditions which surrounded the Athenian from childhood to age, were such as to call for the exercise of these qualities of mind in the highest degree. Habits of patient industry were induced in the Athenian character by the poverty and comparative barrenness of the soil, demanding greater exertion to supply their natural wants. And an annual period of dormancy, though unaccompanied by the rigors of a northern winter, called for prudence in husbanding, and forethought and skill in endeavoring to increase their natural resources. The aspects of nature were less massive and awe-inspiring, her features more subdued, and her areas more circumscribed and broken, inviting and emboldening man to attempt her conquest. The whole tendency of natural phenomena in Greece was to restrain the imagination, and discipline the observing and reasoning faculties in man. Thus was man inspired with confidence in his own resources, and allured to cherish an inquisitive, analytic, and scientific spirit. "The French, in point of national character, hold nearly the same relative place amongst the nations of Europe that the Athenians held amongst the States of Ancient Greece." And whilst it is admitted the French are quick, sprightly, vivacious, perhaps sometimes light even to frivolity, it must be conceded they have cultivated the natural and exact sciences with a patience, and perseverance, and success unsurpassed by any of the nations of Europe. And so the Athenians were the Frenchmen of Greece. Whilst they spent their "leisure time" 36 in the place of public resort, the porticoes and groves, "hearing and telling the latest news" (no undignified 49 or improper mode of recreation in a city where newspapers were unknown), whilst they are condemned as "garrulous," "frivolous," "full of curiosity," and "restlessly fond of novelties," we must insist that a love of study, of patient thought and profound research, was congenial to their natural temperament, and that an inquisitive and analytic spirit, as well as a taste for subtile and abstract speculation, were inherent in the national character. The affluence, and fullness, and flexibility, and sculpture-like finish of the language of the Attics, which leaves far behind not only the languages of antiquity, but also the most cultivated of modern times, is an enduring monument of the patient industry of the Athenians. 37 Language is unquestionably the highest creation of reason, and in the language of a nation we can see reflected as in a mirror the amount of culture to which it has attained. The rare balance of the imagination and the reasoning powers, in which the perfection of the human intellect is regarded as consisting, the exact correspondence between the thought and the expression, "the free music of prosaic numbers in the most diversified forms of style," the calmness, and perspicuity, and order, even in the stormiest moments of inspiration, revealed in every department of Greek literature, were not a mere happy stroke of chance, but a product of unwearied effort--and effort too which was directed by the criteria which reason supplied. The plastic art of Greece, which after the lapse of ages still stands forth in unrivalled beauty, so that, in presence of the eternal models it created, the modern artist feels the painful lack of progress was not a spontaneous outburst of genius, but the result of intense application and unwearied discipline. The achievements of the philosophic spirit, the ethical and political systems of the Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa, and the Garden, the anticipations, scattered here and there like prophetic hints, of some of the profoundest discoveries of "inductive science" in more modern days,--all these are an enduring protest against the strange misrepresentations of Plutarch.

Footnote 34: (return) These are still characteristics of the Greeks. "They are an exceedingly temperate people; drunkenness is a vice remarkably rare amongst them; their food also is spare and simple; even the richest are content with a dish of vegetables for each meal, and the poor with a handful of olives or a piece of salt fish.... All other pleasures are indulged with similar propriety; their passions are moderate, and insanity is almost unknown amongst them."--Encyc. Brit., art. "Greece."
Footnote 35: (return) Niebuhr's Lectures, vol. i. p. 101.
Footnote 36: (return) Εύκαιρέω corresponds exactly to the Latin vacare, "to be at leisure."
Footnote 37: (return) Frederick Jacobs, on "Study of Classic Antiquity," p. 57.

In Athens there existed a providential collocation of the most favorable conditions in which humanity can be placed for securing its highest natural development. Athenian civilization is the solution, on the theatre of history, of the problem--What degree of perfection can humanity, under the most favorable conditions, attain, without the supernatural light, and guidance, and grace of Christianity? 38 "Like their own goddess 51 Athene the people of Athens seem to spring full-armed into the arena of history, and we look in vain to Egypt, Syria, and India, for more than a few seeds that burst into such marvellous growth on the soil of Attica." 39

Footnote 38: (return) It has been asserted by some theological writers, Watson for example, that no society of civilized men has been, or can be constituted without the aid of a religion directly communicated by revelation, and transmitted by oral tradition;--"that it is possible to raise a body of men into that degree of civil improvement which would excite the passion for philosophic investigation, without the aid of religion... can have no proof, and is contradicted by every fact and analogy with which we are acquainted." (Institutes, vol. i. p. 271; see also Archbishop Whately, "Dissertation," etc., vol. i. Encyc. Brit., p. 449-455).

The fallacy of the reasoning by which this doctrine is sought to be sustained is found in the assumption "that to all our race the existence of a First Cause is a question of philosophy," and that the idea of God lies at the end of "a gradual process of inquiry" and induction, for which a high degree of "scientific culture" is needed. Whereas the idea of a First Cause lies at the beginning, not at the end of philosophy; and philosophy is simply the analysis of our natural consciousness of God, and the presentation of the idea in a logical form. Faith in the existence of God is not the result of a conscious process of reflection; it is the spontaneous and instinctive logic of the human mind, which, in view of phenomena presented to sense, by a necessary law of thought immediately and intuitively affirms a personal Power, an intelligent Mind as the author. In this regard, there is no difference between men except the clearness with which they apprehend, and the logical account they can render to themselves, of this instinctive belief. Spontaneous intuition, says Cousin, is the genius of all men; reflection the genius of few men. "But Leibnitz had no more confidence in the principle of causality, and even in his favorite principle of sufficient reason, than the most ignorant of men;" the latter have this principle within them, as a law of thought, controlling their conception of the universe, and doing this almost unconsciously; the former, by an analysis of thought, succeeded in defining and formulating the ideas and laws which necessitate the cognition of a God. The function of philosophy is simply to transform ἀληθὴς δόξα into ίτιστήµη--right opinion into science,--to elucidate and logically present the immanent thought which lies in the universal consciousness of man.

That the possession of the idea of God is essential to the social and moral elevation of man,--that is, to the civilization of our race, is most cheerfully conceded. That humanity has an end and destination which can only be secured by the true knowledge of God, and by a participation of the nature of God, is equally the doctrine of Plato and of Christ. Now, if humanity has a special end and destination, it must have some instinctive tendings, some spermatic ideas, some original forces or laws, which determine it towards that end. All development supposes some original elements to be unfolded or developed. Civilization is but the development of humanity according to its primal idea and law, and under the best exterior conditions. That the original elements of humanity were unfolded in some noble degree under the influence of philosophy is clear from the history of Greece; there the most favorable natural conditions for that development existed, and Christianity alone was needed to crown the result with ideal perfection.

Footnote 39: (return) Max Muller, "Science of Language," p. 404, 2d series.

Here the most perfect ideals of beauty and excellence in physical development, in manners, in plastic art, in literary creations, were realized. The songs of Homer, the dialogues of Plato, the speeches of Demosthenes, and the statues of Phidias, if not unrivalled, are at least unsurpassed by any thing that has been achieved by their successors. Literature in its most flourishing periods has rekindled its torch at her altars, and art has looked back to the age of Pericles for her purest models. Here the ideas of personal liberty, of individual rights, of freedom in thought and action, had a wonderful expansion. Here the lasting foundations of the principal arts and sciences were laid, and in some of them triumphs were achieved which have not been eclipsed. Here the sun of human reason attained a meridian splendor, and illuminated every field in the domain of moral truth. And here humanity reached the highest degree of civilization of which it is capable under purely natural conditions.

And now, the question with which we are more immediately concerned is, what were the specific and valuable results attained by the Athenian mind in religion and philosophy, the two momenta of the human mind? This will be the subject of discussion in subsequent chapters.

The order in which the discussion shall proceed is determined for us by the natural development of thought. The two fundamental momenta of thought and its development are spontaneity 52 and reflection, and the two essential forms they assume are religion and philosophy. In the natural order of thought spontaneity is first, and reflection succeeds spontaneous thought. And so religion is first developed, and subsequently comes philosophy. As religion supposes spontaneous intuition, so philosophy has religion for its basis, but upon this basis it is developed in an original manner. "Turn your attention to history, that living image of thought: everywhere you perceive religions and philosophies: everywhere you see them produced in an invariable order. Everywhere religion appears with new societies, and everywhere, just so far as societies advance, from religion springs philosophy." 40 This was pre-eminently the case in Athens, and we shall therefore direct our attention first to the Religion of the Athenians.

Footnote 40: (return) Cousin, "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 302.



All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion δεισιδαιµονεστέροις.--ST. PAUL.

As a prelude and preparation for the study of the religion of the Athenians, it may be well to consider religion in its more abstract and universal form; and inquire in what does religion essentially consist; how far is it grounded in the nature of man; and especially, what is there in the mental constitution of man, or in his exterior conditions, which determines him to a mode of life which may be denominated religious? As a preliminary inquiry, this may materially aid us in understanding the nature, and estimating the value of the religious conceptions and sentiments which were developed by the Greek mind.

Religion, in its most generic conception, may be defined as a form of thought, feeling, and action, which has the Divine for its object, basis, and end. Or, in other words, it is a mode of life determined by the recognition of some relation to, and consciousness of dependence upon, a Supreme Being. This general conception of religion underlies all the specific forms of religion which have appeared in the world, whether heathen, Jewish, Mohammedan, or Christian.

That a religious destination appertains to man as man, whether he has been raised to a full religious consciousness, or is simply considered as capable of being so raised, can not be denied. In all ages man has revealed an instinctive tendency, or natural aptitude for religion, and he has developed feelings and emotions which have always characterized him as a religious being. Religious ideas and sentiments have prevailed among all nations, and have exerted a powerful influence on 54 the entire course of human history. Religious worship, addressed to a Supreme Being believed to control the destiny of man, has been coeval and coextensive with the race. Every nation has had its mythology, and each mythologic system has been simply an effort of humanity to realize and embody in some visible form the relations in which it feels itself to be connected with an external, overshadowing, and all-controlling Power and Presence. The voice of all ancient, and all contemporaneous history, clearly attests that the religious principle is deeply seated in the nature of man; and that it has occupied the thought, and stirred the feelings of every rational man, in every age. It has interwoven itself with the entire framework of human society, and ramified into all the relations of human life. By its agency, nations have been revolutionized, and empires have been overthrown; and it has formed a mighty element in all the changes which have marked the history of man.

This universality of religious sentiment and religious worship must be conceded as a fact of human nature, and, as a universal fact, it demands an explanation. Every event must have a cause. Every phenomenon must have its ground, and reason, and law. The facts of religious history, the past and present religious phenomena of the world can be no exception to this fundamental principle; they press their imperious demand to be studied and explained, as much as the phenomena of the material or the events of the moral world. The phenomena of religion, being universally revealed wherever man is found, must be grounded in some universal principle, on some original law, which is connate with, and natural to man. At any rate, there must be something in the nature of man, or in the exterior conditions of humanity, which invariably leads man to worship, and which determines him, as by the force of an original instinct, or an outward, conditioning necessity, to recognize and bow down before a Superior Power. The full recognition and adequate explanation of the facts of religious history will constitute a philosophy of religion.

The hypotheses which have been offered in explanation of 55 the religious phenomena of the world are widely divergent, and most of them are, in our judgment, eminently inadequate and unsatisfactory. The following enumeration may be regarded as embracing all that are deemed worthy of consideration.

I. The phenomenon of religion had its origin in SUPERSTITION, that is, in a fear of invisible and supernatural powers, generated by ignorance of nature.

II. The phenomenon of religion is part of that PROCESS or EVOLUTION OF THE ABSOLUTE (i.e., the Deity), which gradually unfolding itself in nature, mind, history, and religion, attains to perfect self-consciousness in philosophy.

III. The phenomenon of religion has its foundation in FEELING--the feeling of dependence and of obligation; and that to which the mind, by spontaneous intuition or instinctive faith, traces this dependence and obligation we call God.

IV. The phenomenon of religion had its outbirth in the spontaneous apperceptions of REASON, that is, the necessary à priori ideas of the Infinite, the Perfect, the Unconditioned Cause, the Eternal Being, which are evoked into consciousness in presence of the changeful and contingent phenomena of the world.

V. The phenomenon of religion had its origin in EXTERNAL REVELATION, to which reason is related as a purely passive organ, and heathenism as a feeble relic.

As a philosophy of religion--an attempt to supply the rationale of the religious phenomena of the world, the first hypothesis is a skeptical philosophy, which necessarily leads to Atheism. The second is an idealistic philosophy (absolute idealism), which inevitably lands in Pantheism. The third is an intuitional or "faith-philosophy," which finally ends in Mysticism. The fourth is a rationalistic or "spiritualistic" philosophy, which yields pure Theism. The last is an empirical philosophy, which derives all religion from instruction, and culminates in Dogmatic Theology.

In view of these diverse and conflicting theories, the question which now presents itself for our consideration is,--does any one of these hypotheses meet and satisfy the demands of 56 the problem? does it fully account for and adequately explain all the facts of religious history? The answer to this question must not be hastily or dogmatically given. The arbitrary rejection of any theory that may be offered, without a fair and candid examination, will leave our minds in uncertainty and doubt as to the validity of our own position. A blind faith is only one remove from a pusillanimous skepticism. We can not render our own position secure except by comprehending, assaulting, and capturing the position of our foe. It is, therefore, due to ourselves and to the cause of truth, that we shall examine the evidence upon which each separate theory is based, and the arguments which are marshalled in its support, before we pronounce it inadequate and unphilosophical. Such a criticism of opposite theories will prepare the way for the presentation of a philosophy of religion which we flatter ourselves will be found most in harmony with all the facts of the case.

I. It is affirmed that the religious phenomena of the world had their origin in SUPERSTITION, that is, in a fear of unseen and supernatural powers, generated from ignorance of nature.

This explanation was first offered by Epicurus. He felt that the universality of the religious sentiment is a fact which demands a cause; and he found it, or presumed he found it not in a spiritual God, which he claims can not exist, nor in corporeal god which no one has seen, but in "phantoms of the mind generated by fear." When man has been unable to explain any natural phenomenon, to assign a cause within the sphere of nature, he has had recourse to supernatural powers, or living personalities behind nature, which move and control nature in an arbitrary and capricious manner. These imaginary powers are supposed to be continually interfering in the affairs of individuals and nations. They bestow blessings or inflict calamities. They reward virtue and punish vice. They are, therefore, the objects of "sacred awe" and "superstitious fear."


Whate'er in heaven,

In earth, man sees mysterious, shakes his mind

With sacred awe o'erwhelms him, and his soul

Bows to the dust; the cause of things conceal

Once from his vision, instant to the gods

All empire he transfers, all rule supreme,

And doubtful whence they spring, with headlong haste

Calls them the workmanship of power divine.

For he who, justly, deems the Immortals live

Safe, and at ease, yet fluctuates in his mind

How things are swayed; how, chiefly, those discerned

In heaven sublime--to SUPERSTITION back

Lapses, and fears a tyrant host, and then

Conceives, dull reasoner, they can all things do,

While yet himself nor knows what may be done,

Nor what may never, nature powers defined

Stamping on all, and bounds that none can pass:

Hence wide, and wider errs he as he walks. 41

Footnote 41: (return) Lucretius, "De Natura Rerum," book vi. vs. 50-70.

In order to rid men of all superstitious fear, and, consequently, of all religion, Epicurus endeavors to show that "nature" alone is adequate to the production of all things, and there is no need to drag in a "divine power" to explain the phenomena of the world.

This theory has been wrought into a somewhat plausible form by the brilliant and imposing generalizations of Aug. Comte. The religious phenomena of the world are simply one stage in the necessary development of mind, whether in the individual or the race. He claims to have been the first to discover the great law of the three successive stages or phases of human evolution. That law is thus enounced. Both in the individual mind, and in the history of humanity, thought, in dealing with its problems, passes, of necessity, through, first, a Theological, second, a Metaphysical, and finally reaches a third, or Positive stage.

In attempting an explanation of the universe, human thought, in its earliest stages of development, resorts to the idea of living personal agents enshrined in and moving every object, whether organic or inorganic, natural or artificial. In an advanced stage, it conceives a number of personal beings 58 distinct from, and superior to nature, which preside over the different provinces of nature--the sea, the air, the winds, the rivers, the heavenly bodies, and assume the guardianship of individuals, tribes, and nations. As a further, and still higher stage, it asserts the unity of the Supreme Power which moves and vitalizes the universe, and guides and governs in the affairs of men and nations. The Theological stage is thus subdivided into three epochs, and represented as commencing in Fetichism, then advancing to Polytheism, and, finally, consummating in Monotheism.

The next stage, the Metaphysical, is a transitional stage, in which man substitutes abstract entities, as substance, force, Being in se, the Infinite, the Absolute, in the place of theological conceptions. During this period all theological opinions undergo a process of disintegration, and lose their hold on the mind of man. Metaphysical speculation is a powerful solvent, which decomposes and dissipates theology.

It is only in the last--the Positive stage--that man becomes willing to relinquish all theological ideas and metaphysical notions, and confine his attention to the study of phenomena in their relation to time and space; discarding all inquiries as to causes, whether efficient or final, and denying the existence of all entities and powers beyond nature.

The first stage, in its religious phase, is Theistic, the second is Pantheistic, the last is Atheistic.

The proofs offered by Comte in support of this theory are derived:

I. From Cerebral Organization. There are three grand divisions of the Brain, the Medulla Oblongata, the Cerebellum, and the Cerebrum; the first represents the merely animal instincts the second, the more elevated sentiments, the third, the intellectual powers. Human nature must, therefore, both in the individual and in the race, be developed in the following order: (1.) in animal instincts; (2.) in social affections and communal tendencies; (3.) in intellectual pursuits. Infant life is a merely animal existence, shared in common with the brute; 59 in childhood the individual being realizes his relation to external nature and human society; in youth and manhood he compares, generalizes, and classifies the objects of knowledge, and attains to science. And so the infancy of our race was a mere animal or savage state, the childhood of our race the organization of society, the youth and manhood of our race the development of science.

Now, without offering any opinion as to the merits of the phrenological theories of Gall and Spurzheim, we may ask, what relation has this order to the law of development presented by Comte? Is there any imaginable connection between animal propensities and theological ideas; between social affections and metaphysical speculations? Are not the intellectual powers as much concerned with theological ideas and metaphysical speculations as with positive science? And is it not more probable, more in accordance with facts, that all the powers of the mind, instinct, feeling, and thought, enter into action simultaneously, and condition each other? The very first act of perception, the first distinct cognition of an object, involves thought as much as the last generalization of science. We know nothing of mind except as the development of thought, and the first unfolding, even of the infant mind, reveals an intellectual act, a discrimination between a self and an object which is not self, and a recognition of resemblance, or difference between this object and that. And what does Positive science, in its most mature and perfect form, claim to do more than "to study actual phenomena in their orders of resemblance, coexistence, and succession."

Cerebral organization may furnish plausible analogies in favor of some theory of human development, but certainly not the one proposed by Aug. Comte. The attempt, however, to construct a chart of human history on such an à priori method,--to construct an ideal framework into which human nature must necessarily grow, is a violation of the first and most fundamental principle of the Positive science, which demands that we shall confine ourselves strictly to the study of actual 60 phenomena in their orders of resemblance, coexistence, and succession. The history of the human race must be based on facts, not on hypotheses, and the facts must be ascertained by the study of ancient records and existing monuments of the past. Mere plausible analogies and à priori theories based upon them, are only fitted to mislead the mind; they insert a prism between the perceiving mind and the course of events which decomposes the pure white light of fact, and throws a false light over the entire field of history.

2. The second order of proof is attempted to be drawn from the analogies of individual experience.

It is claimed that the history of the race is the same as that of each individual mind; and it is affirmed that man is religious in infancy, metaphysical in youth, and positive, that is, scientific without being religious, in mature manhood; the history of the race must therefore have followed the same order.

We are under no necessity of denying that there is some analogy between the development of mind in the individual man, and in humanity as a whole, in order to refute the theory of Comte. Still, it must not be overlooked that the development of mind, in all cases and in all ages, is materially affected by exterior conditions. The influence of geographical and climatic conditions, of social and national institutions, and especially of education, however difficult to be estimated, can not be utterly disregarded. And whether all these influences have not been controlled, and collocated, and adjusted by a Supreme Mind in the education of humanity, is also a question which can not be pushed aside as of no consequence. Now, unless it can be shown that the same outward conditions which have accompanied the individual and modified his mental development, have been repealed in the history of the race, and repeated in the same order of succession, the argument has no value.

But, even supposing it could be shown that the development of mind in humanity has followed the same order as that of the individual, we confidently affirm that Comte has not given the true history of the development of the individual mind. The 61 account he has given may perhaps be the history of his own mental progress, but it certainly is not the history of every individual mind, nor indeed, of a majority even, of educated minds that have arrived at maturity. It would be much more in harmony with facts to say childhood is the period of pure receptivity, youth of doubt and skepticism, and maturity of well-grounded and rational belief. In the ripeness and maturity of the nineteenth century the number of scientific men of the Comtean model is exceedingly small compared with the number of religious men. There are minds in every part of Europe and America as thoroughly scientific as that of Comte, and as deeply imbued with the spirit of the Inductive Philosophy, which are not conscious of any discordance between the facts of science and the fundamental principles of theology. It may be that, in his own immediate circle at Paris there may be a tendency to Atheism, but certainly no such tendency exists in the most scientific minds of Europe and America. The faith of Bacon, and Newton, and Boyle, of Descartes, Leibnitz, and Pascal, in regard to the fundamental principles of theology, is still the faith of Sedgwick, Whewell, Herschel, Brewster, Owen, Agassiz, Silliman, Mitchell, Hitchcock, Dana, and, indeed of the leading scientific minds of the world--the men who, as Comte would say, "belong to the élite of humanity." The mature mind, whether of the individual or the race, is not Atheistical.

3. The third proof is drawn from a survey of the history of certain portions of our race.

Comte is far from being assured that the progress of humanity, under the operation of his grand law of development, has been uniform and invariable. The majority of the human race, the vast populations of India, China, and Japan, have remained stationary; they are still in the Theological stage, and consequently furnish no evidence in support of his theory. For this reason he confines himself to the "élite" or advance-guard of humanity, and in this way makes the history of humanity a very "abstract history" indeed. Starting with Greece as the representative of ancient civilization, passing thence to Roman 62 civilization, and onward to Western Europe, he attempts to show that the actual progress of humanity has been, on the whole, in conformity with his law. To secure, however, even this semblance of harmony between the facts of history and his hypothetical law, he has to treat the facts very much as Procrustes treated his victims,--he must stretch some, and mutilate others, so as to make their forms fit the iron bed. The natural organization of European civilization is distorted and torn asunder. "As the third or positive stage had accomplished its advent in his own person, it was necessary to find the metaphysical period just before; and so the whole life of the Reformed Christianity, in embryo and in manifest existence, is stripped of its garb of faith, and turned out of view as a naked metaphysical phenomenon. But metaphysics, again, have to be ushered in by theology; and of the three stages of theology Monotheism is the last, necessarily following on Polytheism, as that, again, on Fetichism. There is nothing for it, therefore, but to let the mediæval Catholic Christianity stand as the world's first monotheism, and to treat it as the legitimate offspring and necessary development of the Greek and Roman polytheism. This, accordingly, Comte actually does. Protestantism he illegitimates, and outlaws from religion altogether, and the genuine Christianity he fathers upon the faith of Homer and the Scipios! Once or twice, indeed, it seems to cross him that there was such a people as the Hebrews, and that they were not the polytheists they ought to have been. He sees the fact, but pushes it out of his way with the remark that the Jewish monotheism was 'premature.'" 42

Footnote 42: (return) Martineau's Essays, pp. 61, 62.

The signal defect of Comte's historical survey, however, is, that it furnishes no evidence of the general prevalence of Fetichism in primitive times. The writings of Moses are certainly entitled to as much consideration and credence as the writings of Berosus, Manetho, and Herodotus; and, it will not be denied, they teach that the faith of the earliest families and races of men was monotheistic. The early Vedas, the Institutes of Menu, 63 the writings of Confucius, the Zendavesta, all bear testimony that the ancient faith of India, China, and Persia, was, at any rate, pantheistic; and learned and trustworthy critics, Asiatic as well as European, confidently affirm that the ground of the Brahminical, Buddhist, and Parsist faith is monotheistic; and that one Being is assumed, in the earliest books, to be the origin of all things. 43 Without evidence, Comte assumes that the savage state is the original condition of man; and instead of going to Asia, the cradle of the race, for some light as to the early condition and opinions of the remotest families of men, he turns to Africa, the soudan of the earth, for his illustration of the habit of man, in the infancy of our race, to endow every object in nature, whether organic or inorganic, with life and intelligence. The theory of a primitive state of ignorance and barbarism is a mere assumption--an hypothesis in conflict with the traditionary legends of all nations, the earliest records of our race, and the unanimous voice of antiquity, which attest the general belief in a primitive state of light and innocence.

Footnote 43: (return) "The Religions of the World in their Relation to Christianity" (Maurice, ch. ii., iii., iv.).

The three stages of development which Comte describes as necessarily successive, have, for centuries past, been simultaneous. The theological, the metaphysical, and the scientific elements coexist now, and there is no real, radical, or necessary conflict between them. Theological and metaphysical ideas hold their ground as securely under the influence of enlarged scientific discovery as before; and there is no reason to suppose they ever had more power over the mind of man than they have to-day. The notion that God is dethroned by the wonderful discoveries of modern science, and theology is dead, is the dream of the "profond orage cérébral" which interrupted the course of Comte's lectures in 1826. As easily may the hand of Positivism arrest the course of the sun, as prevent the instinctive thought of human reason recognizing and affirming the existence of a God. And so long as ever the human mind is governed by necessary laws of thought, so long will it seek...


[Transcriber's note: In the original document, page 64 is a duplication of page 63. The real page 64 seems to be missing.]


....eur, and consequently to develop its true philosophy. Its fundamental error is the assumption that all our knowledge is confined to the observation and classification of sensible phenomena--that is, to changes perceptible by the senses. Psychology, based, as it is, upon self-observation and self-reflection, is a "mere illusion; and logic and ethics, so far as they are built upon it as their foundation, are altogether baseless." Spiritual entities, forces, causes, efficient or final, are unknown and unknowable; all inquiry regarding them must be inhibited, "for Theology is inevitable if we permit the inquiry into causes at all."

II. The second hypothesis offered in explanation of the facts of religious history is, that religion is part of that PROCESS OR EVOLUTION OF THE ABSOLUTE (i.e., the Deity) which, gradually unfolding itself in nature, mind, history, and religion, attains to the fullest self-consciousness in philosophy.

This is the theory of Hegel, in whose system of philosophy the subjective idealism of Kant culminates in the doctrine of "Absolute Identity." Its fundamental position is that thought and being, subject and object, the perceiving mind and the thing perceived, are ultimately and essentially one, and that the only actual reality is that which results from their mutual relation. The outward thing is nothing, the inward perception is nothing, for neither could exist alone; the only reality is the relation, or rather synthesis of the two; the essence or nature of being in itself accordingly consists in the coexistence of two contrarieties. Ideas, arising from the union or synthesis of two opposites, are therefore the concrete realities of Hegel; and the process of the evolution of ideas, in the human mind, is the process of all existence--the Absolute Idea.

The Absolute(die Idée) thus forms the beginning, middle, and end of the system of Hegel. It is the one infinite existence or thought, of which nature, mind, history, religion, and philosophy, are the manifestation. "The absolute is, with him, not the infinite substance, as with Spinoza; nor the infinite subject, as 66 with Fichte; nor the infinite mind, as with Schelling; it is a perpetual process, an eternal thinking, without beginning and without end." 44 This living, eternal process of absolute existence is the God of Hegel.

It will thus be seen that the Absolute is, with Hegel, the sum of all actual and possible existence; "nothing is true and real except so far as it forms an element of the Absolute Spirit." 45 "What kind of an Absolute Being," he asks, "is that which does not contain in itself all that is actual, even evil included?" 46 The Absolute, therefore, in Hegel's conception, does not allow of any existence out of itself. It is the unity of the finite and the infinite, the eternal and the temporal, the ideal and the real, the subject and the object. And it is not only the unity of these opposites so as to exclude all difference, but it contains in itself, all the differences and opposites as elements of its being; otherwise the distinctions would stand over against absolute as a limit, and the absolute would cease to be absolute.

God is, therefore, according to Hegel, "no motionless, eternally self-identical and unchangeable being, but a living, eternal process of absolute self-existence. This process consists in the eternal self-distinction, or antithesis, and equally self-reconciliation or synthesis of those opposites which enter, as necessary elements, into the constitution of the Divine Being. This self-evolution, whereby the absolute enters into antithesis, and returns to itself again, is the eternal self-actualization of its being, and which at once constitutes the beginning, middle, and end, as in the circle, where the beginning is at the same time the end, and the end the beginning." 47

Footnote 44: (return) Morell, "Hist, of Philos., p. 461."
Footnote 45: (return) "Philos. of Religion," p. 204.
Footnote 46: (return) Ibid., chap. xi. p. 24.
Footnote 47: (return) Herzog's Real-Encyc., art. "Hegelian Philos.," by Ulrici.

The whole philosophy of Hegel consists in the development of this idea of God by means of his, so-called, dialectic method, which reflects the objective life-process of the Absolute, and is, in fact, identical with it; for God, says he, "is only the Absolute 67 Intelligence in so far as he knows himself to be the Absolute Intelligence, and this he knows only in science [dialectics], and this knowledge alone constitutes his true existence." 48 This life-process of the Absolute has three "moments." It may be considered as the idea in itself--bare, naked, undetermined, unconscious idea; as the idea out of itself, in its objective form, or in its differentiation; and, finally, as the idea in itself, and for itself, in its regressive or reflective form. This movement of thought gives, first, bare, naked, indeterminate thought, or thought in the mere antithesis of Being and non-Being; secondly, thought externalizing itself in nature; and, thirdly, thought returning to itself, and knowing itself in mind, or consciousness. Philosophy has, accordingly, three corresponding divisions:--1. LOGIC, which here is identical with metaphysics; 2. PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE; 3. PHILOSOPHY OF MIND.

Footnote 48: (return) "Hist, of Philos.," iii. p. 399.

It is beyond our design to present an expanded view of the entire philosophy of Hegel. But as he has given to the world a new logic, it may be needful to glance at its general features as a help to the comprehension of his philosophy of religion. The fundamental law of his logic is the identity of contraries or contradictions. All thought is a synthesis of contraries or opposites. This antithesis not only exists in all ideas, but constitutes them. In every idea we form, there must be two things opposed and distinguished, in order to afford a clear conception. Light can not be conceived but as the opposite of darkness; good can not be thought except in opposition to evil. All life, all reality is thus, essentially, the union of two elements, which, together, are mutually opposed to, and yet imply each other.

The identity of Being and Nothing is one of the consequences of this law.

1. The Absolute is the Being (das Absolute ist das Seyn), and "the Being" is here, according to Hegel, bare, naked, abstract, undistinguished, indeterminate, unconscious idea.

2. The Absolute is the Nothing (das Absolute ist das Nichts). 68 "Pure being is pure abstraction, and consequently the absolute-negative, which in like manner, directly taken, is nothing." Being and Nothing are the positive and negative poles of the Idea, that is, the Absolute. They both alike exist, they are both pure abstractions, both absolutely unconditioned, without attributes, and without consciousness. Hence follows the conclusion--

3. Being and Nothing are identical (das Seyn und das Nichts ist dasselbe), Being is non-Being. Non-Being is Being--the Anders-seyn--which becomes as Being to the Seyn. Nothing is, in some sense, an actual thing.

Being and Nothing are thus the two elements which enter into the one Absolute Idea as contradictories, and both together combine to form a complete notion of bare production, or the becoming of something out of nothing,--the unfolding of real existence in its lowest form, that is, of nature.

The "Philosophy of Nature" exhibits a series of necessary movements which carry the idea forward in the ascending scale of sensible existence. The laws of mechanics, chemistry, and physiology are resolved into a series of oppositions. But the law which governs this development requires the self-reconciliation of these opposites. The idea, therefore, which in nature was unconscious and ignorant of itself, returns upon itself, and becomes conscious of itself, that is, becomes mind. The science of the regression or self-reflection of the idea, is the "Philosophy of Mind."

The "Philosophy of Mind" is subdivided by Hegel into three parts. There is, first, the subjective or individual mind (psychology); then the objective or universal mind, as represented in society, the state, and in history (ethics, political philosophy, or jurisprudence, and philosophy of history); and, finally, the union of the subjective and objective mind, or the absolute mind. This last manifests itself again under three forms, representing the three degrees of the self-consciousness of the Spirit, as the eternal truth. These are, first, art, or the representation of beauty (æsthetics); secondly, religion, in the general acceptation 69 of the term (philosophy of religion); and, thirdly, philosophy itself, as the purest and most perfect form of the scientific knowledge of truth. All historical religions, the Oriental, the Jewish, the Greek, the Roman, and the Christian, are the successive stages in the development or self-actualization of God. 49

It is unnecessary to indicate to the reader that the philosophy of Hegel is essentially pantheistic. "God is not a person, but personality itself, i.e., the universal personality, which realizes itself in every human consciousness, as so many separate thoughts of one eternal mind. The idea we form of the absolute is, to Hegel, the absolute itself, its essential existence being identical with our conception of it. Apart from, and out of the world, there is no God; and so also, apart from the universal consciousness of man, there is no Divine consciousness or personality." 50

Footnote 49: (return) See art. "Hegelian Philosophy," in Herzog's Real-Encyc., from whence our materials are chiefly drawn.
Footnote 50: (return) Morell, "Hist. of Philos.," p. 473.

This whole conception of religion, however, is false, and conflicts with the actual facts of man's religious nature and religious history. If the word "religion" has any meaning at all, it is "a mode of life determined by the consciousness of dependence upon, and obligation to God." It is reverence for, gratitude to, and worship of God as a being distinct from humanity. But in the philosophy of Hegel religion is a part of God--a stage in the development or self-actualization of God. Viewed under one aspect, religion is the self-adoration of God--the worship of God by God; under another aspect it is the worship of humanity, since God only becomes conscious of himself in humanity. The fundamental fallacy is that upon which his entire method proceeds, viz., "the identity of subject and object, being and thought." Against this false position the consciousness of each individual man, and the universal consciousness of our race, as revealed in history, alike protest. If thought and being are identical, then whatever is true of ideas is also true of objects, and then, as Kant had before remarked, 70 there is no difference between thinking we possess a hundred dollars, and actually possessing them. Such absurdities may be rendered plausible by a logic which asserts the "identity of contradictions," but against such logic common sense rebels. "The law of non-contradiction" has been accepted by all logicians, from the days of Aristotle, as a fundamental law of thought. "Whatever is contradictory is unthinkable. A=not A=O, or A--A=O." 51 Non-existence can not exist. Being can not be nothing.

Footnote 51: (return) Hamilton's Logic, p. 58.

III. The third hypothesis affirms that the phenomenon of religion has its foundation in FEELING--the feeling of dependence and of obligation; and that to which the mind, by spontaneous intuition of instinctive faith, traces that dependence and obligation we call God.

This, with some slight modification in each case, consequent upon the differences in their philosophic systems, is the theory of Jacobi, Schleiermacher, Nitzsch, Mansel, and probably Hamilton. Its fundamental position is, that we can not gain truth with absolute certainty either from sense or reason, and, consequently, the only valid source of real knowledge is feeling--faith, intuition, or, as it is called by some, inspiration.

There have been those, in all ages, who have made all knowledge of invisible, supersensuous, divine things, to rest upon an internal feeling, or immediate, inward vision. The Oriental Mystics, the Neo-Platonists, the Mystics of the Greek and Latin Church, the German Mystics of the 14th century, the Theosophists of the Reformation, the Quietists of France, the Quakers, have all appealed to some special faculty, distinct from the understanding and reason, for the immediate cognition of invisible and spiritual existences. By some, that special faculty was regarded as an "interior eye" which was illuminated by the "Universal Light;" by others, as a peculiar sensibility of the soul--a feeling in whose perfect calm and utter quiescence the Divinity was mirrored; or which, in an ecstatic 71 state, rose to a communion with, and final absorption in the Infinite.

Jacobi was the first, in modern times, to give the "faith-philosophy," as it is now designated, a definite form. He assumes the position that all knowledge, of whatever kind, must ultimately rest upon intuition or faith. As it regards sensible objects, the understanding finds the impression from which all our knowledge of the external flows, ready formed. The process of sensation is a mystery; we know nothing of it until it is past, and the feeling it produces is present. Our knowledge of matter, therefore, rests upon faith in these intuitions. We can not doubt that the feeling has an objective cause. In every act of perception there is something actual and present, which can not be referred to a mere subjective law of thought. We are also conscious of another class of feelings which correlate us with a supersensuous world, and these feelings, also, must have their cause in some objective reality. Just as sensation gives us an immediate knowledge of an external world, so there is an internal sense which gives us an immediate knowledge of a spiritual world--God, the soul, freedom, immortality. Our knowledge of the invisible world, like our knowledge of the visible world, is grounded upon faith in our intuitions. All philosophic knowledge is thus based upon belief, which Jacobi regards as a fact of our inward sensibility--a sort of knowledge produced by an immediate feeling of the soul--a direct apprehension, without proof, of the True, the Supersensuous, the Eternal.

Jacobi prepared the way for, and was soon eclipsed by the deservedly greater name of Schleiermacher. His fundamental position was that truth in Theology could not be obtained by reason, but by a feeling, insight, or intuition, which in its lowest form he called God-consciousness, and in its highest form, Christian-consciousness. The God-consciousness, in its original form, is the feeling of dependence on the Infinite. The Christian consciousness is the perfect union of the human consciousness with the Divine, through the mediation of Christ, or what we would call a Christian experience of communion with God.72

Rightly to understand the position of Schleiermacher we must take account of his doctrine of self-consciousness. "In all self-consciousness," says he, "there are two elements, a Being ein Seyn, and a Somehow-having-become (Irgendweigewordenseyn). The last, however, presupposes, for every self-consciousness, besides the ego, yet something else from whence the certainty of the same [self-consciousness] exists, and without which self-consciousness would not be just this." 52 Every determinate mode of the sensibility supposes an object, and a relation between the subject and the object, the subjective feeling deriving its determinations from the object. External sensation, the feeling, say of extension and resistance, gives world-consciousness. Internal sensation, the feeling of dependence, gives God consciousness. And it is only by the presence of world consciousness and God-consciousness that self consciousness can be what it is.

We have, then, in our self-consciousness a feeling of direct dependence, and that to which our minds instinctively trace that dependence we call God. "By means of the religious feeling, the Primal Cause is revealed in us, as in perception, the things external, are revealed in us." 53 The felt, therefore, is not only the first religious sense, but the ruling, abiding, and perfect form of the religious spirit; whatever lays any claim to religion must maintain its ground and principle in feeling, upon which it depends for its development; and the sum-total of the forces constituting religious life, inasmuch as it is a life, is based upon immediate self-consciousness. 54

Footnote 52: (return) Glaubenslehre, ch. i. § 4.
Footnote 53: (return) Dialectic, p. 430.
Footnote 54: (return) Nitzsch, "System of Doctrine," p. 23.

The doctrine of Schleiermacher is somewhat modified by Mansel, in his "Limits of Religious Thought." He maintains, with Schleiermacher, that religion is grounded in feeling, and that the felt is the first intimation or presentiment of the Divine. Man "feels within him the consciousness of a Supreme Being, and the instinct to worship, before he can argue from effects to causes, or estimate the traces of wisdom and benevolence 73 scattered through the creation." 55 He also agrees with Schleiermacher in regarding the feeling of dependence as a state of the sensibility, out of which reflection builds up the edifice of Religious Consciousness, but he does not, with Schleiermacher, regard it as pre-eminently the basis of religious consciousness. "The mere consciousness of dependence does not, of itself, exhibit the character of the Being on whom we depend. It is as consistent with superstition as with religion; with the belief in a malevolent, as in a benevolent Deity." 56 To the feeling of dependence he has added the consciousness of moral obligation, which he imagines supplies the deficiency. By this consciousness of moral obligation "we are compelled to assume the existence of a moral Deity, and to regard the absolute standard of right and wrong as constituted by the nature of that Deity." 57 "To these two facts of the inner consciousness the feeling of dependence, and consciousness of moral obligation may be traced, as to their sources, the two great outward acts by which religion, in its various forms, has been manifested among men--Prayer, by which they seek to win God's blessing upon the future, and Expiation, by which they strive to atone for the offenses of the past. The feeling of dependence is the instinct which urges us to pray. It is the feeling that our existence and welfare are in the hands of a superior power; not an inexorable fate, not an immutable law; but a Being having at least so far the attribute of personality that he can show favor or severity to those who are dependent upon Him, and can be regarded by them with feelings of hope and fear, and reverence and gratitude." 58 The feeling of moral obligation--"the law written in the heart"--leads man to recognize a Lawgiver. "Man can be a law unto himself only on the supposition that he reflects in himself the law of God." 59 The conclusion from the whole is, there must be an object answering to this consciousness: there must be a God to explain these facts of the soul.

Footnote 55: (return) Mansel, "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 115.
Footnote 56: (return) Id., ib., p. 120.
Footnote 57: (return) Id., ib., p. 122.
Footnote 58: (return) Id., ib., pp. 119, 120.
Footnote 59: (return) Id., ib., p. 122.

This "philosophy of feeling," or of faith generated by feeling, has an interest and a significance which has not been adequately recognized by writers on natural theology. Feeling, sentiment, enthusiasm, have always played an important part in the history of religion. Indeed it must be conceded that religion is a right state of feeling towards God--religion is piety. A philosophy of the religious emotion is, therefore, demanded in order to the full interpretation of the religious phenomena of the world.

But the notion that internal feeling, a peculiar determination of the sensibility, is the source of religious ideas:--that God can be known immediately by feeling without the mediation of the truth that manifests God; that he can be felt as the qualities of matter can be felt; and that this affection of the inward sense can reveal the character and perfections of God, is an unphilosophical and groundless assumption. To assert, with Nitzsch, that "feeling has reason, and is reason, and that the sensible and felt God-consciousness generates out of itself fundamental conceptions," is to confound the most fundamental psychological distinctions, and arbitrarily bend the recognized classifications of mental science to the necessities of a theory. Indeed, we are informed that it is "by means of an independent psychology, and conformably to it," that Schleiermacher illustrates his "philosophy of feeling." 60 But all psychology must be based upon the observation and classification of mental phenomena, as revealed in consciousness, and not constructed in an "independent" and à priori method. The most careful psychological analysis has resolved the whole complex phenomena of mind into thought, feeling, and volition. 61 These orders of phenomena are radically and essentially distinct. They differ not simply in degree but in kind, and it is only by an utter disregard of the facts of consciousness that they can be confounded. Feeling is not reason, nor can it by any logical dexterity be transformed into reason.

Footnote 60: (return) Nitzsch, "System of Doctrine," p. 21.
Footnote 61: (return) Kant, "Critique of Judg.," ch. xxii.; Cousin, "Hist, of Philos.," vol. ii. p. 399; Hamilton, vol. i. p. 183, Eng. ed.

The question as to the relative order of cognition and feeling, that is, as to whether feeling is the first or original form of the religious consciousness, or whether feeling be not consequent upon some idea or cognition of God, is one which can not be determined on empirical grounds. We are precluded from all scrutiny of the incipient stages of mental development in the individual mind and in collective humanity. If we attempt to trace the early history of the soul, its beginnings are lost in a period of blank unconsciousness, beyond all scrutiny of memory or imagination. If we attempt the inquiry on the wider field of universal consciousness, the first unfoldings of mind in humanity are lost in the border-land of mystery, of which history furnishes no authentic records. All dogmatic affirmation must, therefore, be unjustifiable. The assertion that religious feeling precedes all cognition,--that "the consciousness of dependence on a Supreme Being, and the instinct of worship" are developed first in the mind, before the reason is exercised, is utterly groundless. The more probable doctrine is that all the primary faculties enter into spontaneous action simultaneously--the reason with the senses, the feelings with the reason, the judgment with both the senses and the reason, and that from their primary and simultaneous action arises the complex result, called consciousness, or conjoint knowledge. 62 There can be no clear and distinct consciousness without the cognition of a self and a not-self in mutual relation and opposition. Now the knowledge of the self--the personal ego--is an intuition of reason; the knowledge of the not-self is an intuition of sense. All knowledge is possible only under condition of plurality, difference, and relation. 63 Now the judgment is "the Faculty of Relations," or of comparison; and the affirmation "this is not that" is an act of judgment; to know is, consequently, to judge. 64 Self-consciousness must, therefore, be regarded as a synthesis of sense, reason, and judgment, and not a mere self-feeling (cœnæsthesis).

Footnote 62: (return) Cousin, "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 357; vol. ii. p. 337.
Footnote 63: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. p. 88.
Footnote 64: (return) Hamilton, "Metaphys.," p. 277

A profound analysis will further lead to the conclusion that if ideas of reason are not chronologically antecedent to sensation, they are, at least, the logical antecedents of all cognition. The mere feeling of resistance can not give the notion of without the à priori idea of space. The feeling of movement of change, can not give the cognition of event without the rational idea of time or duration. Simple consciousness can not generate the idea of personality, or selfhood, without the rational idea of identity or unity. And so the mere "feeling of dependence," of finiteness and imperfection, can not give the idea of God, without the rational à priori idea of the Infinite, the Perfect, the Unconditioned Cause. Sensation is not knowledge, and never can become knowledge, without the intervention of reason, and a concentrated self feeling can not rise essentially above animal life until it has, through the mediation of reason, attained the idea of the existence of a Supreme Being ruling over nature and man.

Mere feeling is essentially blind. In its pathological form, it may indicate a want, and even develop an unconscious appetency, but it can not, itself, reveal an object, any more than the feeling of hunger can reveal the actual presence, or determine the character and fitness, of any food. An undefinable fear, a mysterious presentiment, an instinctive yearning, a hunger of the soul, these are all irrational emotions which can never rise to the dignity of knowledge. An object must be conjured by the imagination, or conceived by the understanding, or intuitively apprehended by the reason, before the feeling can have any significance.

Regarded in its moral form, as "the feeling of obligation," it can have no real meaning unless a "law of duty" be known and recognized. Feeling, alone, can not reveal what duty is. When that which is right, and just, and good is revealed to the mind, then the sense of obligation may urge man to the performance of duty. But the right, the just, the good, are ideas which are apprehended by the reason, and, consequently, our moral sentiments are the result of the harmonious 77 and living relation between the reason and the sensibilities.

Mr. Mansel asserts the inadequacy of Schleiermacher's "feeling of dependence" to reveal the character of the Being on whom we depend. He has therefore supplemented his doctrine by the "feeling of moral obligation," which he thinks "compels us to assume the existence of a moral Deity." We think his "fact of religious intuition" is as inadequate as Schleiermacher's to explain the whole phenomena of religion. In neither instance does feeling supply the actual knowledge of God. The feeling of dependence may indicate that there is a Power or Being upon whom we depend for existence and well-being, and which Power or Being "we call God." The feeling of obligation certainly indicates the existence of a Being to whom we are accountable, and which Being Mr. Mansel calls a "moral Deity." But in both instances the character, and even the existence of God is "assumed" and we are entitled to ask on what ground it is assumed. It will not be asserted that feeling alone generates the idea, or that the feeling is transformed into idea without the intervention of thought and reflection. Is there, then, a logical connection between the feeling of dependence and of obligation, and the idea of the Uncreated Mind, the Infinite First Cause, the Righteous Governor of the world. Or is there a fixed and changeless co-relation between the feeling and the idea, so that when the feeling is present, the idea also necessarily arises in the mind? This latter opinion seems to be the doctrine of Mansel. We accept it as the statement of a fact of consciousness, but we can not regard it as an account of the genesis of the idea of God in the human mind. The idea of God as the First Cause, the Infinite Mind, the Perfect Being, the personal Lord and Lawgiver, the creator, sustainer, and ruler of the world, is not a simple, primitive intuition of the mind. It is manifestly a complex, concrete idea, and, as such, can not be developed in consciousness, by the operation of a single faculty of the mind, in a simple, undivided act. It originates in the spontaneous operation 78 of the whole mind. It is a necessary deduction from the facts of the universe, and the primitive intuitions of the reason,--a logical inference from the facts of sense, consciousness, and reason. A philosophy of religion which regards the feelings as supreme, and which brands the decisions of reason as uncertain, and well-nigh valueless, necessarily degenerates into mysticism--a mysticism "which pretends to elevate man directly to God, and does not see that, in depriving reason of its power, it really deprives man of that which enables him to know God, and puts him in a just communication with God by the intermediary of eternal and infinite truth." 65

Footnote 65: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 110.

The religious sentiments in all minds, and in all ages, have resulted from the union of thought and feeling--the living and harmonious relation of reason and sensibility; and a philosophy which disregards either is inadequate to the explanation of the phenomena.

IV. The fourth hypothesis is, that religion has had its outbirth in the spontaneous apperceptions of REASON; that is, in the necessary, à priori ideas of the infinite, the perfect, the unconditioned Cause, the Eternal Being, which are evoked into consciousness in presence of the changeful, contingent phenomena of the world.

This will at once be recognized by the intelligent reader as the doctrine of Cousin, by whom pure reason is regarded as the grand faculty or organ of religion.

Religion, in the estimation of Cousin, is grounded on cognition rather than upon feeling. It is the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of duty in its relation to God and to human happiness; and as reason is the general faculty of all knowing, it must be the faculty of religion. "In its most elevated point of view, religion is the relation of absolute truth to absolute Being," and as absolute truth is apprehended by the reason alone, reason "is the veridical and religious part of the nature of man." 66 By 79 "reason," however, as we shall see presently, Cousin does not mean the discursive or reflective reason, but the spontaneous or intuitive reason. That act of the mind by which we attain to religious knowledge is not a process of reasoning, but a pure appreciation, an instinctive and involuntary movement of the soul.

Footnote 66: (return) Henry's Cousin, p. 510.

The especial function of reason, therefore, is to reveal to us the invisible, the supersensuous, the Divine. "It was bestowed upon us for this very purpose of going, without any circuit of reasoning, from the visible to the invisible, from the finite to the infinite, from the imperfect to the perfect, and from necessary and eternal truths, to the eternal and necessary principle" that is God. 67 Reason is thus, as it were, the bridge between consciousness and being; it rests, at the same time, on both; it descends from God, and approaches man; it makes its appearance in consciousness as a guest which brings intelligence of another world of real Being which lies beyond the world of sense.

Reason does not, however, attain to the Absolute Being directly and immediately, without any intervening medium. To assert this would be to fall into the error of Plotinus, and the Alexandrian Mystics. Reason is the offspring of God, a ray of the Eternal Reason, but it is not to be identified with God. Reason attains to the Absolute Being indirectly, and by the interposition of truth. Absolute truth is an attribute and a manifestation of God. "Truth is incomprehensible without God, and God is incomprehensible without truth. Truth is placed between human intelligence, and the supreme intelligence as a kind of mediator." 68 Incapable of contemplating God face to face, reason adores God in the truth which represents and manifests Him.

Footnote 67: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 103.
Footnote 68: (return) Id., ib., p. 99.

Absolute truth is thus a revelation of God, made by God to the reason of man, and as it is a light which illuminates every man, and is perpetually perceived by all men, it is a universal and perpetual revelation of God to man. The mind of man is 80 "the offspring of God," and, as such, must have some resemblance to, and some correlation with God. Now that which constitutes the image of God in man must be found in the reason which is correlated with, and capable of perceiving the truth which manifests God, just as the eye is correlated to the light which manifests the external world. Absolute truth is, therefore, the sole medium of bringing the human mind into communion with God; and human reason, in becoming united to absolute truth, becomes united to God in his manifestation in spirit and in truth. The supreme law, and highest destination of man, is to become united to God by seeking a full consciousness of, and loving and practising the Truth. 69

Footnote 69: (return) Henry's Cousin, p. 511, 512.

It will at once be obvious that the grand crucial questions by which this philosophy of religion is to be tested are--

1st. How will Cousin prove to us that human reason is in possession of universal and necessary principles or absolute truths? and,

2d. How are these principles shown to be absolute? how far do these principles of reason possess absolute authority?

The answer of Cousin to the first question is that we prove reason to be in possession of universal and necessary principles by the analysis of the contents of consciousness, that is, by psychological analysis. The phenomena of consciousness, in their primitive condition, are necessarily complex, concrete, and particular. All our primary ideas are complex ideas, for the evident reason that all, or nearly all, our faculties enter at once into exercise; their simultaneous action giving us, at the same time, a certain number of ideas connected with each other, and forming a whole. For example, the idea of the exterior world, which is given us so quickly, is a complex idea, which contains a number of ideas. There is the idea of the secondary qualities of exterior objects; there is the idea of the primary qualities; there is the idea of the permanent reality of something to which you refer these qualities, to wit, matter; there is the idea of space which contains bodies; there is the idea of time in which movements are effected. All these ideas are acquired 81 simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, and together form one complex idea.

The application of analysis to this complex phenomenon clearly reveals that there are simple ideas, beliefs, principles in the mind which can not have been derived from sense and experience, which sense and experience do not account for, and which are the suggestions of reason alone: the idea of the Infinite, the Perfect, the Eternal; the true, the beautiful, the good; the principle of causality, of substance, of unity, of intentionality; the principle of duty, of obligation, of accountability, of retribution. These principles, in their natural and regular development, carry us beyond the limits of consciousness, and reveal to us a world of real being beyond the world of sense. They carry us up to an absolute Being, the fountain of all existence--a living, personal, righteous God--the author, the sustainer, and ruler of the universe.

The proof that these principles are absolute, and possessed of absolute authority, is drawn, first, from the impersonality of reason, or, rather, the impersonality of the ideas, principles, or truths of reason.

It is not we who create these ideas, neither can we change them at our pleasure. We are conscious that the will, in all its various efforts, is enstamped with the impress of our personality. Our volitions are our own. So, also, our desires are our own, our emotions are our own. But this is not the same with our rational ideas or principles. The ideas of substance, of cause, of unity, of intentionality do not belong to one person any more than to another; they belong to mind as mind, they are revealed in the universal intelligence of the race. Absolute truth has no element of personality about it. Man may say "my reason," but give him credit for never having dared to say "my truth." So far from rational ideas being individual, their peculiar characteristic is that they are opposed to individuality, that is, they are universal and necessary. Instead of being circumscribed within the limits of experience, they surpass and govern it; they are universal in the midst of particular 82 phenomena; necessary, although mingled with things contingent; and absolute, even when appearing within us the relative and finite beings that we are. 70 Necessary, universal, absolute truth is a direct emanation from God. "Such being the case, the decision of reason within its own peculiar province possesses an authority almost divine. If we are led astray by it, we must be led astray by a light from heaven." 71

Footnote 70: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 40.
Footnote 71: (return) Id., "Lectures," vol. ii. p. 32.

The second proof is derived from the distinction between the spontaneous and reflective movements of reason.

Reflection is voluntary, spontaneity is involuntary; reflection is personal, spontaneity is impersonal; reflection is analytic, spontaneity is synthetic; reflection begins with doubt, spontaneity with affirmation; reflection belongs to certain ones, spontaneity belongs to all; reflection produces science, spontaneity gives truth. Reflection is a process, more or less tardy, in the individual and in the race. It sometimes engenders error and skepticism, sometimes convictions that, from being rational, are only the more profound. It constructs systems, it creates artificial logic, and all those formulas which we now use by the force of habit, as if they were natural to us. But spontaneous intuition is the true logic of nature,--instant, direct, and infallible. It is a primitive affirmation which implies no negation, and therefore yields positive knowledge. To reflect is to return to that which was. It is, by the aid of memory, to return to the past, and to render it present to the eye of consciousness. Reflection, therefore, creates nothing; it supposes an anterior operation of the mind in which there necessarily must be as many terms as are discovered by reflection. Before all reflection there comes spontaneity--a spontaneity of the intellect, which seizes truth at once, without traversing doubt and error. "We thus attain to a judgment free from all reflection, to an affirmation without any mixture of negation, to an immediate intuition, the legitimate daughter of the natural energy of thought, like the inspiration of the poet, the instinct of the hero, 83 the enthusiasm of the prophet." Such is the first act of knowing, and in this first act the mind passes from idea to being without ever suspecting the depth of the chasm it has passed. It passes by means of the power which is in it, and is not astonished at what it has done. It is subsequently astonished when by reflection it returns to the analysis of the results, and, by the aid of the liberty with which it is endowed, to do the opposite of what it has done, to deny what it has affirmed. "Hence comes the strife between sophism and common sense, between false science and natural truth, between good and bad philosophy, both of which come from free reflection." 72

It is this spontaneity of thought which gives birth to religion. The instinctive thought which darts through the world, even to God, is natural religion. "All thought implies a spontaneous faith in God, and there is no such thing as natural atheism. Doubt and skepticism may mingle with reflective thought, but beneath reflection there is still spontaneity. When the scholar has denied the existence of God, listen to the man, interrogate him, take him unawares, and you will see that all his words envelop the idea of God, and that faith in God is, without his recognition, at the bottom, in his heart." 73

Religion, then, in the system of Cousin, does not begin with reflection, with science, but with faith. There is, however, this difference to be noted between the theory of the "faith-philosophers" (Jacobi, Schleiermacher, etc.) and the theory of Cousin. With them, faith is grounded on sensation or feeling; with him, it is grounded on reason. "Faith, whatever may be its form, whatever may be its object, common or sublime, can be nothing else than the consent of reason. That is the foundation of faith." 74

Footnote 72: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," p. 106.
Footnote 73: (return) "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 137.
Footnote 74: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 90.

Religion is, therefore, with Cousin, at bottom, pure Theism. He thinks, however, that "true theism is not a dead religion that forgets precisely the fundamental attributes of God." It recognizes God as creator, preserver, and governor; it celebrates 84 a providence; it adores a perfect, holy, righteous, benevolent God. It holds the principle of duty, of obligation, of moral desert. It not only perceives the divine character, but feels its relation to God. The revelation of the Infinite, by reason, moves the feelings, and passes into sentiment, producing reverence, and love, and gratitude. And it creates worship, which recalls man to God a thousand times more forcibly than the order, harmony, and beauty of the universe can do.

The spontaneous action of reason, in its greatest energy, is inspiration. "Inspiration, daughter of the soul and heaven, speaks from on high with an absolute authority. It commands faith; so all its words are hymns, and its natural language is poetry." "Thus, in the cradle of civilization, he who possessed in a higher degree than his fellows the gift of inspiration, passed for the confidant and the interpreter of God. He is so for others, because he is so for himself; and he is so, in fact, in a philosophic sense. Behold the sacred origin of prophecies, of pontificates, and of modes of worship." 75

Footnote 75: (return) "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 129.

As an account of the genesis of the idea of God in the human intelligence, the doctrine of Cousin must be regarded as eminently logical, adequate, and satisfactory. As a theory of the origin of religion, as a philosophy which shall explain all the phenomena of religion, it must be pronounced defective, and, in some of its aspects, erroneous.

First, it does not take proper account of that living force which has in all ages developed so much energy, and wrought such vast results in the history of religion, viz., the power of the heart. Cousin discourses eloquently on the spontaneous, instinctive movements of the reason, but he overlooks, in a great measure, the instinctive movements of the heart. He does not duly estimate the feeling of reverence and awe which rises spontaneously in presence of the vastness and grandeur of the universe, and of the power and glory of which the created universe is a symbol and shadow. He disregards that sense of an overshadowing Presence which, at least in seasons of tenderness 85 and deep sensibility, seems to compass us about, and lay its hand upon us. He scarcely recognizes the deep consciousness of imperfection and weakness, and utter dependence, which prompts man to seek for and implore the aid of a Superior Being; and, above all, he takes no proper account of the sense of guilt and the conscious need of expiation. His theory, therefore, can not adequately explain the universal prevalence of sacrifices, penances, and prayers. In short, it does not meet and answer to the deep longings of the human heart, the wants, sufferings, fears, and hopes of man.

Cousin claims that the universal reason of man is illuminated by the light of God. It is quite pertinent to ask, Why may not the universal heart of humanity be touched and moved by the spirit of God? If the ideas of reason be a revelation from God, may not the instinctive feelings of the heart be an inspiration of God? May not God come near to the heart of man and awaken a mysterious presentiment of an invisible Presence, and an instinctive longing to come nearer to Him? May he not draw men towards himself by sweet, persuasive influences, and raise man to a conscious fellowship? Is not God indeed the great want of the human heart?

Secondly, Cousin does not give due importance to the influence of revealed truth as given in the sacred Scriptures, and of the positive institutions of religion, as a divine economy, supernaturally originated in the world. He grants, indeed, that "a primitive revelation throws light upon the cradle of human civilization," and that "all antique traditions refer to an age in which man, at his departure from the hand of God, received from him immediately all lights, and all truths." 76 He also believes that "the Mosaic religion, by its developments, is mingled with the history of all the surrounding people of Egypt, of Assyria, of Persia, and of Greece and Rome." 77 Christianity, however, is regarded as "the summing and crown of the two great religious systems which reigned by turn in the East and in Greece"--the maturity of Ethnicism and Judaism; a development 86 rather than a new creation. The explanation which he offers of the phenomena of inspiration opens the door to religious skepticism. Those who were termed seers, prophets, inspired teachers of ancient times, were simply men who resigned themselves wholly to their intellectual instincts, and thus gazed upon truth in its pure and perfect form. They did not reason, they did not reflect, they made no pretensions to philosophy they received truth spontaneously as it flowed in upon them from heaven. 78 This immediate reception of Divine light was nothing more than the natural play of spontaneous reason nothing more than what has existed to a greater or less degree in every man of great genius; nothing more than may now exist in any mind which resigns itself to its own unreflective apperceptions. Thus revelation, in its proper sense, loses all its peculiar value, and Christianity is robbed of its pre-eminent authority. The extremes of Mysticism and Rationalism here meet on the same ground, and Plotinus and Cousin are at one.

Footnote 76: (return) "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 148.
Footnote 77: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 216.
Footnote 78: (return) Morell, "Hist. of Philos.," p. 661.

V. The fifth hypothesis offered in explanation of the religious phenomena of the world is that they had their origin in EXTERNAL REVELATION, to which reason is related as a purely passive organ, and Ethnicism as a feeble relic.

This is the theory of the school of "dogmatic theologians," of which the ablest and most familiar presentation is found in the "Theological Institutes" of R. Watson. 79 He claims that all our religious knowledge is derived from oral revelation alone, and that all the forms of religion and modes of worship which have prevailed in the heathen world have been perversions and corruptions of the one true religion first taught to the earliest 87 families of men by God himself. All the ideas of God, duty, immortality, and future retribution which are now possessed, or have ever been possessed by the heathen nations, are only broken and scattered rays of the primitive traditions descending from the family of Noah, and revived by subsequent intercourses with the Hebrew race; and all the modes of religious worship--prayers, lustrations, sacrifices--that have obtained in the world, are but feeble relics, faint reminiscences of the primitive worship divinely instituted among the first families of men. "The first man received the knowledge of God by sensible converse with him, and that doctrine was transmitted, with the confirmation of successive manifestations, to the early ancestors of all nations." 80 This belief in the existence of a Supreme Being was preserved among the Jews by continual manifestations of the presence of Jehovah. "The intercourses between the Jews and the states of Syria and Babylon, on the one hand, and Egypt on the other, powers which rose to great eminence and influence in the ancient world, was maintained for ages. Their frequent dispersions and captivities would tend to preserve in part, and in part to revive, the knowledge of the once common and universal faith." 81 And the Greek sages who resorted for instruction to the Chaldean philosophic schools derived from thence their knowledge of the theological system of the Jews. 82 Among the heathen nations this primitive revelation was corrupted by philosophic speculation, as in India and China, Greece and Rome; and in some cases it was entirely obliterated by ignorance, superstition, and vice, as among the Hottentots of Africa and the aboriginal tribes of New South Wales, who "have no idea of one Supreme Creator." 83

Footnote 79: (return) We might have referred the reader to Ellis's "Knowledge of Divine Things from Revelation, not from Reason or Nature;" Leland's "Necessity of Revelation;" and Horsley's "Dissertations," etc.; but as we are not aware of their having been reprinted in this country, we select the "Institutes" of Watson as the best presentation of the views of "the dogmatic theologians" accessible to American readers.
Footnote 80: (return) Watson, "Theol. Inst," vol. i. p. 270.
Footnote 81: (return) Id. ib., vol. i. p. 31.
Footnote 82: (return) See ch. v. and vi., "On the Origin of those Truths which are found in the Writings and Religious Systems of the Heathen."
Footnote 83: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 274.

The same course of reasoning is pursued in regard to the idea of duty, and the knowledge of right and wrong. "A direct communication of the Divine Will was made to the primogenitors 88 of our race," and to this source alone we are indebted for all correct ideas of right and wrong. "Whatever is found pure in morals, in ancient or modern writers, may be traced to indirect revelation." 84 Verbal instruction--tradition or scripture--thus becomes the source of all our moral ideas. The doctrine of immortality, and of a future retribution, 85 the practice of sacrifice--precatory and expiatory, are also ascribed to the same source. 86 Thus the only medium by which religious truth can possibly become known to the masses of mankind is tradition. The ultimate foundation on which the religious faith and the religious practices of universal humanity have rested, with the exception of the Jews, and the favored few to whom the Gospel has come, is uncertain, precarious, and easily corrupted tradition.

Footnote 84: (return) Watson, "Theol. Inst.," vol. ii. p. 470.
Footnote 85: (return) Id. ib., vol. i. p. 11.
Footnote 86: (return) Id. ib., vol. i. p. 26.

The improbability, inadequacy, and incompleteness of this theory will be obvious from the following considerations:

1. It is highly improbable that truths so important and vital to man, so essential to the well-being of the human race, so necessary to the perfect development of humanity as are the ideas of God, duty, and immortality, should rest on so precarious and uncertain a basis as tradition is admitted, even by Mr. Watson, to be.

The human mind needs the idea of God to satisfy its deep moral necessities, and to harmonize all its powers. The perfection of humanity can never be secured, the destination of humanity can never be achieved, the purpose of God in the existence of humanity can never be accomplished, without the idea of God, and of the relation of man to God, being present to the human mind. Society needs the idea of a Supreme Ruler as the foundation of law and government, and as the basis of social order. Without it, these can not be, or be conserved. Intellectual creatureship, social order, human progress, are inconceivable and impossible without the idea of God, and of accountability to God. Now that truths so fundamental should, 89 to the masses of men, rest on tradition alone, is incredible. Is there no known and accessible God to the outlying millions of our race who, in consequence of the circumstances of birth and education, which are beyond their control, have had no access to an oral revelation, and among whom the dim shadowy rays of an ancient tradition have long ago expired? Are the eight hundred millions of our race upon whom the light of Christianity has not shone unvisited by the common Father of our race? Has the universal Father left his "own offspring" without a single native power of recognizing the existence of the Divine Parent, and abandoned them to solitary and dreary orphanage? Could not he who gave to matter its properties and laws,--the properties and laws through whose operation he is working out his own purposes in the realm of nature,--could not he have also given to mind ideas and principles which, logically developed, would lead to recognition of a God, and of our duty to God, and, by these ideas and principles, have wrought out his sublime purposes in the realm of mind? Could not he who gave to man the appetency for food, and implanted in his nature the social instincts to preserve his physical being, have implanted in his heart a "feeling after God," and an instinct to worship God in order to the conservation of his spiritual being? How otherwise can we affirm the responsibility and accountability of all the race before God? Those theologians who are so earnest in the assertion that God has not endowed man with the native power of attaining the knowledge of God can not, on any principle of equity, show how the heathen are "without excuse" when, in involuntary ignorance of God, they "worship the creature instead of the Creator," and violate a law of duty of which they have no possible means to attain the barest knowledge.

2. This theory is utterly inadequate to the explanation of the universality of religious rites, and especially of religious ideas.

Take, for example, the idea of God. As a matter of fact we affirm, in opposition to Watson, the universality of this idea. The idea of God is connatural to the human mind. Wherever 90 human reason has had its normal and healthy development 87, this idea has arisen spontaneously and necessarily. There has not been found a race of men who were utterly destitute of some knowledge of a Supreme Being. All the instances alleged have, on further and more accurate inquiry, been found incorrect. The tendency of the last century, arbitrarily to quadrate all the facts of religious history with the prevalent sensational philosophy, had its influence upon the minds of the first missionaries to India, China, Africa, Australia, and the islands of the Pacific. They expected to find that the heathen had no knowledge of a Supreme Being, and before they had mastered the idioms of their language, or become familiar with their mythological and cosmological systems, they reported them as utterly ignorant of God, destitute of the idea and even the name of a Supreme Being. These mistaken and hasty conclusions have, however, been corrected by a more intimate acquaintance with the people, their languages and religions. Even in the absence of any better information, we should be constrained to doubt the accuracy of the authorities quoted by Mr. Watson in relation to Hindooism, when by one (Ward) we are told that the Hindoo "believes in a God destitute of intelligence" and by another (Moore) that "Brahm is the one eternal Mind, the self-existent, incomprehensible Spirit". Learned and trustworthy critics, Asiatic as well as European, however, confidently affirm that "the ground of the Brahminical faith is Monotheistic;" it recognizes "an Absolute and Supreme Being" as the source of all that exists. 88 Eugene Burnouf, M. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire, Kœppen, and indeed nearly all who have written on the subject of Buddhism, have shown that the metaphysical doctrines of Buddha were borrowed from the earlier systems of the Brahminic philosophy. "Buddha." we are told, is "pure intelligence" "clear light", "perfect wisdom;" the same as Brahm. This is 91 surely Theism in its highest conception. 89 In regard to the peoples of South Africa, Dr. Livingstone assures us "there is no need for beginning to tell even the most degraded of these people of the existence of a God, or of a future state--the facts being universally admitted.... On questioning intelligent men among the Backwains as to their former knowledge of good and evil, of God, and of a future state, they have scouted the idea of any of them ever having been without a tolerably clear conception on all these subjects." 90 And so far from the New Hollanders having no idea of a Supreme Being, we are assured by E. Stone Parker, the protector of the aborigines of New Holland, they have a clear and well-defined idea of a "Great Spirit," the maker of all things.

Footnote 87: (return) Watson, "Theol. Inst.," vol. i. p. 46.
Footnote 88: (return) Maurice, "Religions of the World," p. 59: Edin. Review,1862, art "Recent Researches on Buddhism." See also Müller's "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i. ch. i. to vi.
Footnote 89: (return) "It has been said that Buddha and Kapila were both atheists, and that Buddha borrowed his atheism from Kapila. But atheism is an indefinite term, and may mean very different things. In one sense every Indian philosopher was an atheist, for they all perceived that the gods of the populace could not claim the attributes that belong to a Supreme Being. But all the important philosophical systems of the Brahmans admit, in some form or another, the existence of an Absolute and Supreme Being, the source of all that exists, or seems to exist."--Müller, "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i. pp. 224,5.

Buddha, which means "intelligence," "clear light," "perfect wisdom," was not only the name of the founder of the religion of Eastern Asia, but Adi Buddha was the name of the Absolute, Eternal Intelligence.--Maurice, "Religions of the World," p. 102.

Footnote 90: (return) "Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa," p. 158.

Now had the idea of God rested solely on tradition, it were the most natural probability that it might be lost, nay, must be lost, amongst those races of men who were geographically and chronologically far removed from the primitive cradle of humanity in the East. The people who, in their migrations, had wandered to the remotest parts of the earth, and had become isolated from the rest of mankind, might, after the lapse of ages, be expected to lose the idea of God, if it were not a spontaneous and native intuition of the mind,--a necessity of thought. A fact of history must be presumed to stick to the mind with much greater tenacity than a purely rational idea which has no visible symbol in the sensible world, and yet, even in regard to 92 the events of history, the persistence and pertinacity of tradition is exceedingly feeble. The South Sea Islanders know not from whence, or at what time, their ancestors came. There are monuments in Tonga and Fiji of which the present inhabitants can give no account. How, then, can a pure, abstract idea which can have no sensible representation, no visible image, retain its hold upon the memory of humanity for thousands of years? The Fijian may not remember whence his immediate ancestors came, but he knows that the race came originally from the hands of the Creator. He can not tell who built the monuments of solid masonry which are found in his island-home, but he can tell who reared the everlasting hills and built the universe. He may not know who reigned in Vewa a hundred years ago, but he knows who now reigns, and has always reigned, over the whole earth. "The idea of a God is familiar to the Fijian, and the existence of an invisible superhuman power controlling and influencing nature, and all earthly things, is fully recognized by him." 91 The idea of God is a common fact of human consciousness, and tradition alone is manifestly inadequate to account for its universality.

Footnote 91: (return) "Fiji and the Fijians," p. 215.

3. A verbal revelation would be inadequate to convey the knowledge of God to an intelligence "purely passive" and utterly unfurnished with any à priori ideas or necessary laws of cognition and thought.

Of course it is not denied that important verbal communications relating to the character of God, and the duties we owe to God, were given to the first human pair, more clear and definite, it may be, than any knowledge attained by Socrates and Plato through their dialectic processes, and that these oral revelations were successively repeated and enlarged to the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament church. And furthermore, that some rays of light proceeding from this pure fountain of truth were diffused, and are still lingering among the heathen nations, we have no desire, and no need to deny.

All this, however, supposes, at least, a natural power and 93 aptitude for the knowledge of God, and some configuration and correlation of the human intelligence to the Divine. "We have no knowledge of a dynamic influence, spiritual or natural, without a dynamic reaction." Matter can not be moved and controlled by forces and laws, unless it have properties which correlate it with those forces and laws. And mind can not be determined from without to any specific form of cognition, unless it have active powers of apprehension and conception which are governed by uniform laws. The "material" of thought may be supplied from without, but the "form" is determined by the necessary laws of our inward being. All our cognition of the external world is conditioned by the à priori ideas of time and space, and all our thinking is governed by the principles of causality and substance, and the law of "sufficient reason." The mind itself supplies an element of knowledge in all our cognitions. Man can not be taught the knowledge of God if he be not naturally possessed of a presentiment, or an apperception of a God, as the cause and reason of the universe. "If education be not already preceded by an innate consciousness of God, as an operative predisposition, there would be nothing for education and culture to act upon." 92 A mere verbal revelation can not communicate the knowledge of God, if man have not already the idea of a God in his mind. A name is a mere empty sign, a meaningless symbol, without a mental image of the object which it represents, or an innate perception, or an abstract conception of the mind, of which the word is the sign. The mental image or the abstract conception must, therefore, precede the name; cognition must be anterior to, and give the meaning of language. 93 The child knows a thing even before it can speak its name. And, universally, we must know the thing in itself, or image it by analogies and resemblances to some other thing we do know, before the name can have any meaning for us. As to purely rational ideas and 94 abstract conceptions,--as space, cause, the infinite, the perfect,--language can never convey these to the mind, nor can the mind ever attain them by experience if they are not an original, connate part of our mental equipment and furniture. The mere verbal affirmation "there is a God" made to one who has no idea of a God, would be meaningless and unintelligible. What notion can a man form of "the First Cause" if the principle of causality is not inherent in his mind? What conception can he form of "the Infinite Mind" if the infinite be not a primitive intuition? How can he conceive of "a Righteous Governor" if he have no idea of right, no sense of obligation, no apprehension of a retribution? Words are empty sounds without ideas, and God is a mere name if the mind has no apperception of a God.

Footnote 92: (return) Nitzsch, "System of Christian Doctrine," p. 10.
Footnote 93: (return) "Ideas must pre-exist their sensible signs." See De Boismont on "Hallucination," etc., p. iii.

It may be affirmed that, preceding or accompanying the announcement of the Divine Name, there was given to the first human pair, and to the early fathers of our race, some visible manifestation of the presence of God, and some supernatural display of divine power. What, then, was the character of these early manifestations, and were they adequate to convey the proper idea of God? Did God first reveal himself in human form, and if so, how could their conception of God advance beyond a rude anthropomorphism? Did he reveal his presence in a vast columnar cloud or a pillar of fire? How could such an image convey any conception of the intelligence, the omnipresence, the eternity of God? Nay, can the infinite and eternal Mind be represented by any visible manifestation? Can the human mind conceive an image of God? The knowledge of God, it is clear, can not be conveyed by any sensible sign or symbol if man has no prior rational idea of God as the Infinite and the Perfect Being.

If the facts of order, and design, and special adaptation which crowd the universe, and the à priori ideas of an unconditioned Cause and an infinite Intelligence which arise in the mind in presence of these facts, are inadequate to produce the logical conviction that it is the work of an intelligent mind, how 95 can any preternatural display of power produce a rational conviction that God exists? "If the universe could come by chance or fate, surely all the lesser phenomena, termed miraculous, might occur so too." 94 If we find ourselves standing amid an eternal series of events, may not miracles be a part of that series? Or if all things are the result of necessary and unchangeable laws, may not miracles also result from some natural or psychological law of which we are yet in ignorance? Let it be granted that man is not so constituted that, by the necessary laws of his intelligence, he must affirm that facts of order having a commencement in time prove mind; let it be granted that man has no intuitive belief in the Infinite and Perfect--in short, no idea of God; how, then, could a marvellous display of power, a new, peculiar, and startling phenomenon which even seemed to transcend nature, prove to him the existence of an infinite intelligence--a personal God? The proof would be simply inadequate, because not the right kind of proof. Power does not indicate intelligence, force does not imply personality.

Footnote 94: (return) Morell, "Hist. of Philos." p. 737.

Miracles, in short, were never intended to prove the existence of God. The foundation of this truth had already been laid in the constitution and laws of the human mind, and miracles were designed to convince us that He of whose existence we had a prior certainty, spoke to us by His Messenger, and in this way attested his credentials. To the man who has a rational belief in the existence of God this evidence of a divine mission is at once appropriate and conclusive. "Master, we know thou art a teacher sent from God; for no man can do the works which thou doest, except God be with him." The Christian missionary does not commence his instruction to the heathen, who have an imperfect, or even erroneous conception of "the Great Spirit," by narrating the miracles of Christ, or quoting the testimony of the Divine Book he carries along with him. He points to the heavens and the earth, and says, "There is a Being who made all these things, and Jehovah is 96 his name; I have come to you with a message from Him!" Or he need scarce do even so much; for already the heathen, in view of the order and beauty which pervades the universe, has been constrained, by the laws of his own intelligence, to believe in and offer worship to the "Ἄγνωστος Θεος"--the unseen and incomprehensible God; and pointing to their altars, he may announce with Paul, "this God whom ye worship, though ignorantly, him declare I unto you!"

The results of our study of the various hypotheses which have been offered in explanation of the religious phenomena of the world may be summed up as follows: The first and second theories we have rejected as utterly false. Instead of being faithful to and adequately explaining the facts, they pervert, and maltreat, and distort the facts of religious history. The last three each contain a precious element of truth which must not be undervalued, and which can not be omitted in an explanation which can be pronounced complete. Each theory, taken by itself, is incomplete and inadequate. The third hypothesis overrates feeling; the fourth, reason; the fifth, verbal instruction. The first extreme is Mysticism, the second is Rationalism, the last is Dogmatism. Reason, feeling, and faith in testimony must be combined, and mutually condition each other. No purely rationalistic hypothesis will meet and satisfy the wants and yearnings of the heart. No theory based on feeling alone can satisfy the demands of the human intellect. And, finally, an hypothesis which bases all religion upon historical testimony and outward fact, and despises and tramples upon the intuitions of the reason and the instincts of the heart can never command the general faith of mankind. Religion embraces and conditionates the whole sphere of life--thought, feeling, faith, and action; it must therefore be grounded in the entire spiritual nature of man.

Our criticism of opposite theories has thus prepared the way for, and obviated the necessity of an extended discussion of the hypothesis we now advance.


The universal phenomenon of religion has originated in the à priori apperceptions of reason, and the natural instinctive feelings of the heart, which, from age to age, have been vitalized, unfolded, and perfected by supernatural communications and testamentary revelations.

There are universal facts of religious history which can only be explained on the first principle of this hypothesis; there are special facts which can only be explained on the latter principle. The universal prevalence of the idea of God, and the feeling of obligation to obey and worship God, belong to the first order of facts; the general prevalence of expiatory sacrifices, of the rite of circumcision, and the observance of sacred and holy days, belong to the latter. To the last class of facts the observance of the Christian Sabbath, and the rites of Baptism and the Lord's Supper may be added.

The history of all religions clearly attests that there are two orders of principles--the natural and the positive, and, in some measure, two authorities of religious life which are intimately related without negativing each other. The characteristic of the natural is that it is intrinsic, of the positive, that it is extrinsic. In all ages men have sought the authority of the positive in that which is immediately beyond and above man--in some "voice of the Divinity" toning down the stream of ages, or speaking through a prophet or oracle, or written in some inspired and sacred book. They have sought for the authority of the natural in that which is immediately within man--the voice of the Divinity speaking in the conscience and heart of man. A careful study of the history of religion will show a reciprocal relation between the two, and indicate their common source.

We expect to find that our hypothesis will be abundantly sustained by the study of the Religion of the Athenians.




"All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion (δεισιδαιµονεστέρους). For as I passed through your city, and beheld the objects of your worship, I found amongst them an altar with this inscription--'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.' Whom therefore ye worship...."--ST. PAUL.

Through one of those remarkable counter-strokes of Divine Providence by which the evil designs of men are overruled, and made to subserve the purposes of God, the Apostle Paul was brought to Athens. He walked beneath its stately porticoes, he entered its solemn temples, he stood before its glorious statuary, he viewed its beautiful altars--all devoted to pagan worship. And "his spirit was stirred within him," he was moved with indignation "when he saw the city full of images of the gods." 95 At the very entrance of the city he met the evidence of this peculiar tendency of the Athenians to multiply the objects of their devotion; for here at the gateway stands an image of Neptune, seated on horseback, and brandishing the trident. Passing through the gate, his attention would be immediately arrested by the sculptured forms of Minerva, Jupiter, Apollo, Mercury, and the Muses, standing near a sanctuary of Bacchus. A long street is now before him, with temples, statues, and altars crowded on either hand. Walking to the end of this street, and turning to the right, he entered the Agora, a public square surrounded with porticoes and temples, which were adorned with statuary and paintings in honor of the gods of Grecian mythology. Amid the plane-trees planted by the hand of Cimon are the statues of the deified heroes of Athens, Hercules and Theseus, and the whole series of the Eponymi, together with the memorials of the older divinities; 99 Mercuries which gave the name to the streets on which they were placed; statues dedicated to Apollo as patron of the city and her deliverer from the plague; and in the centre of all the altar of the Twelve Gods.

Footnote 95: (return) Lange's Commentary, Acts xvii. 16.

Standing in the market-place, and looking up to the Areopagus, Paul would see the temple of Mars, from whom the hill derived its name. And turning toward the Acropolis, he would behold, closing the long perspective, a series of little sanctuaries on the very ledges of the rocks, shrines of Bacchus and Æsculapius, Venus, Earth, and Ceres, ending with the lovely form of the Temple of Unwinged Victory, which glittered in front of the Propylæa.

If the apostle entered the "fivefold gates," and ascended the flight of stone steps to the platform of the Acropolis, he would find the whole area one grand composition of architecture and statuary dedicated to the worship of the gods. Here stood the Parthenon, the Virgin House, the glorious temple which was erected during the proudest days of Athenian glory, an entire offering to Minerva, the tutelary divinity of Athens. Within was the colossal statue of the goddess wrought in ivory and gold. Outside the temple there stood another statue of Minerva, cast from the brazen spoils of Marathon; and near by yet another brazen Pallas, which was called by pre-eminence "the Beautiful."

Indeed, to whatever part of Athens the apostle wandered, he would meet the evidences of their "carefulness in religion," for every public place and every public building was a sanctuary of some god. The Metroum, or record-house, was a temple to the mother of the gods. The council-house held statues of Apollo and Jupiter, with an altar to Vesta. The theatre at the base of the Acropolis was consecrated to Bacchus. The Pnyx was dedicated to Jupiter on high. And as if, in this direction, the Attic imagination knew no bounds, abstractions were deified; altars were erected to Fame, to Energy, to Modesty, and even to Pity, and these abstractions were honored and worshipped as gods.


The impression made upon the mind of Paul was, that the city was literally "full of idols," or images of the gods. This impression is sustained by the testimony of numerous Greek and Roman writers. Pausanias declares that Athens "had more images than all the rest of Greece;" and Petronius, the Roman satirist, says, "it was easier to find a god in Athens than a man." 96

Footnote 96: (return) See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St. Paul;" also, art. "Athens," in Encyclopædia Britannica, whence our account of the "sacred objects" in Athens is chiefly gathered.

No wonder, then, that as Paul wandered amid these scenes "his spirit was stirred in him." He burned with holy zeal to maintain the honor of the true and only God, whom now he saw dishonored on every side. He was filled with compassion for those Athenians who, notwithstanding their intellectual greatness, had changed the glory of God into an image made in the likeness of corruptible man, and who really worshipped the creature more than the Creator. The images intended to symbolize the invisible perfections of God were usurping the place of God, and receiving the worship due alone to him. We may presume the apostle was not insensible to the beauties of Grecian art. The sublime architecture of the Propylæa and the Parthenon, the magnificent sculpture of Phidias and Praxiteles, could not fail to excite his wonder. But he remembered that those superb temples and this glorious statuary were the creation of the pagan spirit, and devoted to polytheistic worship. The glory of the supreme God was obscured by all this symbolism. The creatures formed by God, the symbols of his power and presence in nature, the ministers of his providence and moral government, were receiving the honor due to him. Over all this scene of material beauty and æsthetic perfection there rose in dark and hideous proportions the errors and delusions and sins against the living God which Polytheism nurtured, and unable any longer to restrain himself, he commenced to "reason" with the crowds of Athenians who stood beneath the shadows of the plane-trees, or lounged 101 beneath the porticoes that surrounded the Agora. Among these groups of idlers were mingled the disciples of Zeno and Epicurus, who "encountered" Paul. The nature of these "disputations" may be easily conjectured, The opinions of these philosophers are even now familiarly known: they are, in one form or another, current in the literature of modern times. Materialism and Pantheism still "encounter" Christianity. The apostle asserted the personal being and spirituality of one supreme and only God, who has in divers ways revealed himself to man, and therefore may be "known." He proclaimed that Jesus is the fullest and most perfect revelation of God--the only "manifestation of God in the flesh." He pointed to his "resurrection" as the proof of his superhuman character and mission to the world. Some of his hearers were disposed to treat him with contempt; they represented him as an ignorant "babbler," who had picked up a few scraps of learning, and who now sought to palm them off as a "new" philosophy. But most of them regarded him with that peculiar Attic curiosity which was always anxious to be hearing some "new thing." So they led him away from the tumult of the market-place to the top of Mars' Hill, where, in its serene atmosphere, they might hear him more carefully, and said, "May we hear what this new doctrine is whereof thou speakest?"

Surrounded by these men of thoughtful, philosophic mind--men who had deeply pondered the great problem of existence, who had earnestly inquired after the "first principles of things;" men who had reasoned high of creation, fate, and providence; of right and wrong; of conscience, law, and retribution; and had formed strong and decided opinions on all these questions--he delivered his discourse on the being, the providence, the spirituality, and the moral government of God.

This grand theme was suggested by an inscription he had observed on one of the altars of the city, which was dedicated "To the Unknown God." "Ye men of Athens! every thing which I behold bears witness to your carefulness in religion. 102 For as I passed by and beheld your sacred objects I found an altar with this inscription, 'To the Unknown God;' whom, therefore, ye worship, though ye know him not [adequately], Him declare I unto you." Starting from this point, the manifest carefulness of the Athenians in religion, and accepting this inscription as the evidence that they had some presentiment, some native intuition, some dim conception of the one true and living God, he strives to lead them to a deeper knowledge of Him. It is here conceded by the apostle that the Athenians were a religious people. The observations he had made during his short stay in Athens enabled him to bear witness that the Athenians were "a God-fearing people," 97 and he felt that fairness and candor demanded that this trait should receive from him an ample recognition and a full acknowledgment. Accordingly he commences by saying in gentle terms, well fitted to conciliate his audience, "All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion." I recognize you as most devout; ye appear to me to be a God-fearing people, 98 for as I passed by and beheld your sacred objects I found an altar with this inscription, "To the Unknown God," whom therefore ye worship.

Footnote 97: (return) Lange's Commentary, in loco.
Footnote 98: (return) "Ως before δεισιδ.--so imports. I recognize you as such."--Lange's Commentary.

The assertion that the Athenians were "a religious people" will, to many of our readers, appear a strange and startling utterance, which has in it more of novelty than truth. Nay, some will be shocked to hear the Apostle Paul described as complimenting these Athenians--these pagan worshippers--on their "carefulness in religion." We have been so long accustomed to use the word "heathen" as an opprobrious epithet--expressing, indeed, the utmost extremes of ignorance, and barbarism, and cruelty, that it has become difficult for us to believe that in a heathen there can be any good. 103 From our childhood we have read in our English Bibles, Ye men of Athens, I perceive in all things ye are too superstitious

and we can scarcely tolerate another version, even if it can be shown that it approaches nearer to the actual language employed by Paul. We must, therefore, ask the patience and candor of the reader, while we endeavor to show, on the authority of Paul's words, that the Athenians were a "religious people," and that all our notions to the contrary are founded on prejudice and misapprehension.

First, then, let us commence even with our English version: "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious." And what now is the meaning of the word "superstition?" It is true, we now use it only in an evil sense, to express a belief in the agency of invisible, capricious, malignant powers, which fills the mind with fear and terror, and sees in every unexplained phenomenon of nature an omen, or prognostic, of some future evil. But this is not its proper and original meaning. Superstition is from the Latin superstitio, which means a superabundance of religion, 99 an extreme exactitude in religious observance. And this is precisely the sense in which the corresponding Greek term is used by the Apostle Paul. Δεισιδαιµονία properly means "reverence for the gods." "It is used," says Barnes, "in the classic writers, in a good sense, to denote piety towards the gods, or suitable fear and reverence for them." "The word," says Lechler, "is, without doubt, to be understood here in a good sense; although it seems to have been intentionally chosen, in order to indicate the conception of fear (δειδω), which predominated in the religion of the apostle's hearers." 100 This reading is sustained by the ablest critics and scholars of modern times. Bengel reads the sentence, "I perceive that ye are very religious" 101 Cudworth translates it thus: "Ye are every way more than ordinarily religious." 102 Conybeare and Howson read the text as we have already given it, "All things which I behold bear witness to 104 your carefulness in religion." 103 Lechler reads "very devout;" 104 Alford, "carrying your religious reverence very far;" 105 and Albert Barnes, 106 "I perceive ye are greatly devoted to reverence for religion." 107 Whoever, therefore, will give attention to the actual words of the apostle, and search for their real meaning, must be convinced he opens his address by complimenting the Athenians on their being more than ordinarily religious.

Footnote 99: (return) Nitzsch, "System of Christ. Doctrine," p. 33.
Footnote 100: (return) Lange's Commentary, in loco.
Footnote 101: (return) "Gnomon of the New Testament."
Footnote 102: (return) "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 626.
Footnote 103: (return) "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i. p. 378.
Footnote 104: (return) Lange's Commentary.
Footnote 105: (return) Greek Test.
Footnote 106: (return) Notes on Acts.
Footnote 107: (return) Also Clarke's Comment., in loco.

Nor are we for a moment to suppose the apostle is here dealing in hollow compliments, or having recourse to a "pious fraud." Such a course would have been altogether out of character with Paul, and to suppose him capable of pursuing such a course is to do him great injustice. If "to the Jews he became as a Jew," it was because he recognized in Judaism the same fundamental truths which underlie the Christian system. And if here he seems to become, in any sense, at one with "heathenism," that he might gain the heathen to the faith of Christ, it was because he found in heathenism some elements of truth akin to Christianity, and a state of feeling favorable to an inquiry into the truths he had to present. He beheld in Athens an altar reared to the God he worshipped, and it afforded him some pleasure to find that God was not totally forgotten, and his worship totally neglected, by the Athenians. The God whom they knew imperfectly, "Him" said he, "I declare unto you;" I now desire to make him more fully known. The worship of "the Unknown God" was a recognition of the being of a God whose nature transcends all human thought, a God who is ineffable; who, as Plato said, "is hard to be discovered, and having discovered him, to make him known to all, impossible." 108 It is the confession of a want of knowledge, the expression of a desire to know, the acknowledgment of the duty of worshipping him. Underlying all the forms of idol-worship the eye of Paul recognized an influential Theism. Deep down in the pagan heart he discovered a "feeling after God"--a 105 yearning for a deeper knowledge of the "unknown," the invisible, the incomprehensible, which he could not despise or disregard. The mysterious sentiments of fear, of reverence, of conscious dependence on a supernatural power and presence overshadowing man, which were expressed in the symbolism of the "sacred objects" which Paul saw everywhere in Athens, commanded his respect. And he alludes to their "devotions," not in the language of reproach or censure, but as furnishing to his own mind the evidence of the strength of their religious instincts, and the proof of the existence in their hearts of that native apprehension of the supernatural, the divine, which dwells alike in all human souls.

Footnote 108: (return) Timæus, ch. ix.

The case of the Athenians has, therefore, a peculiar interest to every thoughtful mind. It confirms the belief that religion is a necessity to every human mind, a want of every human heart. 109 Without religion, the nature of man can never be properly developed; the noblest part of man--the divine, the spiritual element which dwells in man, as "the offspring of God"--must remain utterly dwarfed. The spirit, the personal being, the rational nature, is religious, and Atheism is the vain and the wicked attempt to be something less than man. If the spiritual nature of man has its normal and healthy development, he must become a worshipper. This is attested by the universal history of man. We look down the long-drawn aisles of antiquity, and everywhere we behold the smoking altar, the ascending incense, the prostrate form, the attitude of devotion. Athens, with her four thousand deities--Rome, with her crowded Pantheon of gods--Egypt, with her degrading superstitions--Hindostan, with her horrid and revolting rites--all attest that the religious principle is deeply seated in the nature of man. And we are sure religion can never be robbed of her supremacy, she can never be dethroned in the hearts of men. It were easier to satisfy the cravings of hunger by logical syllogisms, 106 than to satisfy the yearnings of the human heart without religion. The attempt of Xerxes to bind the rushing floods of the Hellespont in chains was not more futile nor more impotent than the attempt of skepticism to repress the universal tendency to worship, so peculiar and so natural to man in every age and clime.

Footnote 109: (return) The indispensable necessity for a religion of some kind to satisfy the emotional nature of man is tacitly confessed by the atheist Comte in the publication of his "Catechism of Positive Religion."

The unwillingness of many to recognize a religious element in the Athenian mind is further accounted for by their misconception of the meaning of the word "religion." We are all too much accustomed to regard religion as a mere system of dogmatic teaching. We use the terms "Christian religion," "Jewish religion," "Mohammedan religion," as comprehending simply the characteristic doctrines by which each is distinguished; whereas religion is a mode of thought, and feeling, and action, determined by the consciousness of our relation to and our dependence upon God. It does not appropriate to itself any specific department of our mental powers and susceptibilities, but it conditions the entire functions and circle of our spiritual life. It is not simply a mode of conceiving God in thought, nor simply a mode of venerating God in the affections, nor yet simply a mode of worshipping God in outward and formal acts, but it comprehends the whole. Religion (religere, respect, awe, reverence) regulates our thoughts, feelings, and acts towards God. "It is a reference and a relationship of our finite consciousness to the Creator and Sustainer and Governor of the universe." It is such a consciousness of the Divine as shall awaken in the heart of man the sentiments of reverence, fear, and gratitude towards God; such a sense of dependence as shall prompt man to pray, and lead him to perform external acts of worship.

Religion does not, therefore, consist exclusively in knowledge, however correct; and yet it must be preceded and accompanied by some intuitive cognition of a Supreme Being, and some conception of him as a free moral personality. But the religious sentiments, which belong rather to the heart than to the understanding of man--the consciousness of dependence, 107 the sense of obligation, the feeling of reverence, the instinct to pray, the appetency to worship--these may all exist and be largely developed in a human mind even when, as in the case of the Athenians, there is a very imperfect knowledge of the real character of God.

Regarding this, then, as the generic conception of religion, namely, that it is a mode of thought and feeling and action determined by our consciousness of dependence on a Supreme Being, we claim that the apostle was perfectly right in complimenting the Athenians on their "more than ordinary religiousness," for,

1. They had, in some degree at least, that faith in the being and providence of God which precedes and accompanies all religion.

They had erected an altar to the unseen, the unsearchable, the incomprehensible, the unknown God. And this "unknown God" whom the Athenians "worshipped" was the true God, the God whom Paul worshipped, and whom he desired more fully to reveal to them; "Him declare I unto you." The Athenians had, therefore, some knowledge of the true God, some dim recognition, at least, of his being, and some conception, however imperfect, of his character. The Deity to whom the Athenians reared this altar is called "the unknown God," because he is unseen by all human eyes and incomprehensible to human thought. There is a sense in which to Paul, as well as to the Athenians--to the Christian as well as to the pagan--to the philosopher as well as to the peasant--God is "the unknown," and in which he must forever remain the incomprehensible. This has been confessed by all thoughtful minds in every age. It was confessed by Plato. To his mind God is "the ineffable," the unspeakable. Zophar, the friend of Job, asks, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" This knowledge is "high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?" Does not Wesley teach us to sing,

"Hail, Father, whose creating call

Unnumbered worlds attend;

Jehovah, comprehending all,

Whom none can comprehend?"


To his mind, as well as to the mind of the Athenian, God was "the great unseen, unknown." "Beyond the universe and man," says Cousin, "there remains in God something unknown, impenetrable, incomprehensible. Hence, in the immeasurable spaces of the universe, and beneath all the profundities of the human soul, God escapes us in this inexhaustible infinitude, whence he is able to draw without limit new worlds, new beings, new manifestations. God is therefore to us incomprehensible." 110 And without making ourselves in the least responsible for Hamilton's "negative" doctrine of the Infinite, or even responsible for the full import of his words, we may quote his remarkable utterances on this subject: "The Divinity is in part concealed and in part revealed. He is at once known and unknown. But the last and highest consecration of all true religion must be an altar 'to the unknown God.' In this consummation nature and religion, Paganism and Christianity, are at one." 111

Footnote 110: (return) "Lectures," vol. i. p. 104.
Footnote 111: (return) "Discussions on Philosophy," p. 23.

When, therefore, the apostle affirms that while the Athenians worshipped the God whom he proclaimed they "knew him not," we can not understand him as saying they were destitute of all faith in the being of God, and of all ideas of his real character. Because for him to have asserted they had no knowledge of God would not only have been contrary to all the facts of the case, but also an utter contradiction of all his settled convictions and his recorded opinions. There is not in modern times a more earnest asserter of the doctrine that the human mind has an intuitive cognition of God, and that the external world reveals God to man. There is a passage in his letter to the Romans which is justly entitled to stand at the head of all discourses on "natural theology," Rom. i. 19-21. Speaking of the heathen world, who had not been favored, as the Jews, with 109 a verbal revelation, he says, "That which may be known of God is manifest in them," that is, in the constitution and laws of their spiritual nature, "for God hath showed it unto them" in the voice of reason and of conscience, so that in the instincts of our hearts, in the elements of our moral nature, in the ideas and laws of our reason, we are taught the being of a God. These are the subjective teachings of the human soul.

Not only is the being of God revealed to man in the constitution and laws of his rational and moral nature, but God is also manifested to us objectively in the realm of things around us; therefore Paul adds, "The invisible things of him, even his eternal power and Godhead, from the creation are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." The world of sense, therefore, discloses the being and perfections of God. The invisible attributes of God are made apparent by the things that are visible. Forth out of nature, as the product of the Divine Mind, the supernatural shines. The forces, laws, and harmonies of the universe are indices of the presence of a presiding and informing Intelligence. The creation itself is an example of God's coming forth out of the mysterious depths of his own eternal and invisible being, and making himself apparent to man. There, on the pages of the volume of nature, we may read, in the marvellous language of symbol, the grand conceptions, the glorious thoughts, the ideals of beauty which dwell in the uncreated Mind, These two sources of knowledge--the subjective teachings of God in the human soul, and the objective manifestations of God in the visible universe--harmonize, and, together, fill up the complement of our natural idea of God. They are two hemispheres of thought, which together form one full-orbed fountain of light, and ought never to be separated in our philosophy. And, inasmuch as this divine light shines on all human minds, and these works of God are seen by all human eyes, the apostle argues that the heathen world "is without excuse, because, knowing God (γνόντες τὸν Θεόν) they did not glorify him as God, neither were thankful; but in their reasonings they went astray after vanities, and their hearts, being 110 void of wisdom, were filled with darkness. Calling themselves wise, they were turned into fools, and changed the glory of the imperishable God for idols graven in the likeness of perishable man, or of birds, and beasts, and creeping things,...and they bartered the truth of God for lies, and reverenced and worshipped the things made rather than the Maker, who is blessed forever. Amen." 112

Footnote 112: (return) Rom. i. 21-25, Conybeare and Howson's translation.

The brief and elliptical report of Paul's address on Mars' Hill must therefore, in all fairness, be interpreted in the light of his more carefully elaborated statements in the Epistle to the Romans. And when Paul intimates that the Athenians "knew not God," we can not understand him as saying they had no knowledge, but that their knowledge was imperfect. They did not know God as Creator, Father, and Ruler; above all, they did not know him as a pardoning God and a sanctifying Spirit. They had not that knowledge of God which purifies the heart, and changes the character, and gives its possessor eternal life.

The apostle clearly and unequivocally recognizes this truth, that the idea of God is connatural to the human mind; that in fact there is not to be found a race of men upon the face of the globe utterly destitute of some idea of a Supreme Being. Wherever human reason has had its normal and healthful development, it has spontaneously and necessarily led the human mind to the recognition of a God. The Athenians were no exception to this general law. They believed in the existence of one supreme and eternal Mind, invisible, incomprehensible, infeffable--"the unknown God."

2. The Athenians had also that consciousness of dependence upon God which is the foundation of all the primary religious emotions.

When the apostle affirmed that "in God we live, and move, and have our being," he uttered the sentiments of many, if not all, of his hearers, and in support of that affirmation he could quote the words of their own poets, for we are also his offspring; 111 113 and, as his offspring, we have a derived and a dependent being. Indeed, this consciousness of dependence is analogous to the feeling which is awakened in the heart of a child when its parent is first manifested to its opening mind as the giver of those things which it immediately needs, as its continual protector, and as the preserver of its life. The moment a man becomes conscious of his own personality, that moment he becomes conscious of some relation to another personality, to which he is subject, and on which he depends. 114

Footnote 113: (return)

"Jove's presence fills all space, upholds this ball;

All need his aid; his power sustains us all,

For we his offspring are."

Aratus, "The Phænomena," book v. p. 5.

Aratus was a poet of Cilicia, Paul's native province. He flourished B.C. 277.

"Great and divine Father, whose names are many,

But who art one and the same unchangeable, almighty power;

O thou supreme Author of nature!

That governest by a single unerring law!

Hail King!

For thou art able, to enforce obedience from all frail mortals,

Because we are all thine offspring,

The image and the echo only of thy eternal voice."

Cleanthes, "Hymn to Jupiter."

Cleanthes was the pupil of Zeno, and his successor as chief of the Stoic philosophers.

Footnote 114: (return) "As soon as a man becomes conscious of himself, as soon as he perceives himself as distinct from other persons and things, he at the same moment becomes conscious of a higher self, a higher power, without which he feels that neither he nor any thing else would have any life or reality. We are so fashioned that as soon as we awake we feel on all sides our dependence on something else; and all nations join in some way or another in the words of the Psalmist, 'It is He that made us, not we ourselves.' This is the first sense of the Godhead, the sensus numinis, as it has well been called; for it is a sensus, an immediate perception, not the result of reasoning or generalization, but an intuition as irresistible as the impressions of our senses.... This sensus numinis, or, as we may call it in more homely language, faith, is the source of all religion; it is that without which no religion, whether true or false, is possible."--Max Müller, "Science of Language," Second Series, p. 455.

A little reflection will convince us that this is the necessary order in which human consciousness is developed.

There are at least two fundamental and radical tendencies 112 in human personality, namely, to know and to act. If we would conceive of them as they exist in the innermost sphere of selfhood, we must distinguish the first as self-consciousness, and the second as self-determination. These are unquestionably the two factors of human personality.

If we consider the first of these factors more closely, we shall discover that self-consciousness exists under limitations and conditions. Man can not become clearly conscious of self without distinguishing himself from the outer world of sensation, nor without distinguishing self and the world from another being upon whom they depend as the ultimate substance and cause. Mere cœnœesthesis is not consciousness. Common feeling is unquestionably found among the lowest forms of animal life, the protozoa; but it can never rise to a clear consciousness of personality until it can distinguish itself from sensation, and acquire a presentiment of a divine power, on which self and the outer world depend. The Ego does not exist for itself, can not perceive itself, but by distinguishing itself from the ceaseless flow and change of sensation, and by this act of distinguishing, the Ego takes place in consciousness. And the Ego can not perceive itself, nor cognize sensation as a state or affection of the Ego except by the intervention of the reason, which supplies the two great fundamental laws of causality and substance. The facts of consciousness thus comprehend three elements--self, nature, and God. The determinate being, the Ego, is never an absolutely independent being, but is always in some way or other codetermined by another; it can not, therefore, be an absolutely original and independent, but must in some way or another be a derived and conditioned existence.

Now that which limits and conditions human self-consciousness can not be mere nature, because nature can not give what it does not possess; it can not produce what is toto genere different from itself. Self-consciousness can not arise out of unconsciousness. This new beginning is beyond the power of nature. Personal power, the creative principle of all new beginnings, is alone adequate to its production. If, then, self-consciousness 113 exists in man, it necessarily presupposes an absolutely original, therefore unconditioned, self-consciousness. Human self-consciousness, in its temporal actualization, of course presupposes a nature-basis upon which it elevates itself; but it is only possible on the ground that an eternal self-conscious Mind ordained and rules over all the processes of nature, and implants the divine spark of the personal spirit with the corporeal frame, to realize itself in the light-flame of human self-consciousness. The original light of the divine self-consciousness is eternally and absolutely first and before all. "Thus, in the depths of our own self-consciousness, as its concealed background, the God-consciousness reveals itself to us. This descent into our inmost being is at the same time an ascent to God. Every deep reflection on ourselves breaks through the mere crust of world-consciousness, which separates us from the inmost truth of our existence, and leads us up to Him in whom we live and move and are." 115

Footnote 115: (return) Müller, "Christian Doctrine of Sin," vol. i. p. 81.

Self-determination, equally with self-consciousness, exists in us under manifold limitations. Self-determination is limited by physical, corporeal, and mental conditions, so that there is "an impassable boundary line drawn around the area of volitional freedom." But the most fundamental and original limitation is that of duty. The self-determining power of man is not only circumscribed by necessary conditions, but also by the moral law in the consciousness of man. Self-determination alone does not suffice for the full conception of responsible freedom; it only becomes, will, properly by its being an intelligent and conscious determination; that is, the rational subject is able previously to recognize "the right," and present before his mind that which he ought to do, that which he is morally bound to realize and actualize by his own self-determination and choice. Accordingly we find in our inmost being a sense of obligation to obey the moral law as revealed in the conscience. As we can not become conscious of self without also becoming conscious of God, so we can not become properly 114 conscious of self-determination until we have recognized in the conscience a law for the movements of the will.

Now this moral law, as revealed in the conscience, is not a mere autonomy--a simple subjective law having no relation to a personal lawgiver out of and above man. Every admonition of conscience directly excites the consciousness of a God to whom man is accountable. The universal consciousness of our race, as revealed in history, has always associated the phenomena of conscience with the idea of a personal Power above man, to whom he is subject and upon whom he depends. In every age, the voice of conscience has been regarded as the voice of God, so that when it has filled man with guilty apprehensions, he has had recourse to sacrifices, and penances, and prayers to expatiate his wrath.

It is clear, then, that if man has duties there must he a self-conscious Will by whom these duties are imposed, for only a real will can be legislative. If man has a sense of obligation, there must be a supreme authority by which he is obliged. If he is responsible, there must be a being to whom he is accountable. 116 It can not be said that he is accountable to himself, for by that supposition the idea of duty is obliterated, and "right" becomes identical with mere interest or pleasure. It can not be said that he is simply responsible to society--to mere conventions of human opinions and human governments--for then "right" becomes a mere creature of human legislation, and "justice" is nothing but the arbitrary will of the strong who tyrannize over the weak. Might constitutes right. Against such hypotheses the human mind, however, instinctively revolts. Mankind feel, universally, that there is an authority beyond all human governments, and a higher law above all human laws, from whence all their powers are derived. That higher law is the Law of God, that supreme authority is the God of Justice. To this eternally just God, innocence, under oppression and wrong, has made its proud appeal, like that of Prometheus to 115 the elements, to the witnessing clouds, to coming ages, and has been sustained and comforted. And to that higher law the weak have confidently appealed against the unrighteous enactments of the strong, and have finally conquered. The last and inmost ground of all obligation is thus the conscious relation of the moral creature to God. The sense of absolute dependence upon a Supreme Being compels man, even while conscious of subjective freedom, to recognize at the same time his obligation to determine himself in harmony with the will of Him "in whom we live, and move, and are."

Footnote 116: (return) "The thought of God will wake up a terrible monitor whose name is Judge."--Kant.

This feeling of dependence, and this consequent sense of obligation, lie at the very foundation of all religion. They lead the mind towards God, and anchor it in the Divine. They prompt man to pray, and inspire him with an instinctive confidence in the efficacy of prayer. So that prayer is natural to man, and necessary to man. Never yet has the traveller found a people on earth without prayer. Races of men have been found without houses, without raiment, without arts and sciences, but never without prayer any more than without speech. Plutarch wrote, eighteen centuries ago, If you go through all the world, you may find cities without walls, without letters, without rulers, without money, without theatres, but never without temples and gods, or without prayers, oaths, prophecies, and sacrifices, used to obtain blessings and benefits, or to avert curses and calamities. 117 The naturalness of prayer is admitted even by the modern unbeliever. Gerrit Smith says, "Let us who believe that the religion of reason calls for the religion of nature, remember that the flow of prayer is just as natural as the flow of water; the prayerless man has become an unnatural man." 118 Is man in sorrow or in danger, his most natural and spontaneous refuge is in prayer. The suffering, bewildered, terror-stricken soul turns towards God. "Nature in an agony is no atheist; the soul that knows not where to fly, flies to God." And in the hour of deliverance and joy, a feeling of gratitude pervades the soul--and gratitude, too, not to some 116 blind nature-force, to some unconscious and impersonal power, but gratitude to God. The soul's natural and appropriate language in the hour of deliverance is thanksgiving and praise.

Footnote 117: (return) "Against Kalotes," ch. xxxi.
Footnote 118: (return) "Religion of Reason."

This universal tendency to recognize a superior Power upon whom we are dependent, and by whose hand our well-being and our destinies are absolutely controlled, has revealed itself even amid the most complicated forms of polytheistic worship. Amid the even and undisturbed flow of every-day life they might be satisfied with the worship of subordinate deities, but in the midst of sudden and unexpected calamities, and of terrible catastrophes, then they cried to the Supreme God. 119 "When alarmed by an earthquake," says Aulus Gellius, "the ancient Romans were accustomed to pray, not to some one of the gods individually, but to God in general, as to the Unknown." 120

Footnote 119: (return) "At critical moments, when the deepest feelings of the human heart are stirred, the old Greeks and Romans seem suddenly to have dropped all mythological ideas, and to have fallen back on the universal language of true religion."--Max Müller, "Science of Language." p. 436.
Footnote 120: (return) Tholuck, "Nature and Influence of Heathenism," p. 23.

"Thus also Minutius Felix says, 'When they stretch out their hands to heaven they mention only God; and these forms of speech, He is great, and God is true, and If God grant(which are the natural language of the vulgar), are a plain confession of the truth of Christianity.' And also Lactantius testifies, 'When they swear, and when they wish, and when they give thanks, they name not many gods, but God only; the truth, by a secret force of nature, thus breaking forth from them whether they will or no;' and again he says, 'They fly to God; aid is desired of God; they pray that God would help them; and when one is reduced to extreme necessity, he begs for God's sake, and by his divine power alone implores the mercy of men.'" 121 The account which is given by Diogenes Laertius 122 of the erection of altars bearing the inscription "to the unknown God," clearly shows that they had their origin in this general sentiment of dependence on a higher Power. "The Athenians 117 being afflicted with pestilence invited Epimenides to lustrate their city. The method adopted by him was to carry several sheep to the Areopagus, whence they were left to wander as they pleased, under the observation of persons sent to attend them. As each sheep lay down it was sacrificed to the propitious God. By this ceremony it is said the city was relieved; but as it was still unknown what deity was propitious, an altar was erected to the unknown God on every spot where a sheep had been sacrificed." 123

Footnote 121: (return) Cudworth, vol. i. p. 300.
Footnote 122: (return) "Lives of Philosophers," book i., Epimenides.
Footnote 123: (return) See Townsend's "Chronological Arrangement of New Testament," note 19, part xii.; Doddridge's "Exposition;" and Barnes's "Notes on Acts."

"The unknown God" was their deliverer from the plague. And the erection of an altar to him was a confession of their absolute dependence upon him, of their obligation to worship him, as well as of their need of a deeper knowledge of him. The gods who were known and named were not able to deliver them in times of calamity, and they were compelled to look beyond the existing forms of Grecian mythology for relief. Beyond all the gods of the Olympus there was "one God over all," the Father of gods and men, the Creator of all the subordinate local deities, upon whom even these created gods were dependent, upon whom man was absolutely dependent, and therefore in times of deepest need, of severest suffering, of extremest peril, then they cried to the living, supreme, eternal God. 124

Footnote 124: (return) "The men and women of the Iliad and Odyssey are habitually religious. The language of religion is often on their tongues, as it is ever on the lips of every body in the East at this day. The thought of the gods, and of their providence and government of the world, is a familiar thought. They seem to have an abiding conviction of their dependence on the gods. The results of all actions depend on the will of the gods; it lies on their knees (θεῶν ἐν γούνασι κεἶται, Od. i. 267), is the often repeated and significant expression of their feeling of dependence."--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 165.

3. The Athenians developed in a high degree those religious emotions which always accompany the consciousness of dependence on a Supreme Being.

The first emotional element of all religion is fear. This is unquestionably true, whether religion be considered from a 118 Christian or a heathen stand-point. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Associated with, perhaps preceding, all definite ideas of God, there exists in the human mind certain feelings of awe, and reverence, and fear which arise spontaneously in presence of the vastness, and grandeur, and magnificence of the universe, and of the power and glory of which the created universe is but the symbol and shadow. There is the felt apprehension that, beyond and back of the visible and the tangible, there is a personal, living Power, which is the foundation of all, and which fashions all, and fills all with its light and life; that "the universe is the living vesture in which the Invisible has robed his mysterious loveliness." There is the feeling of an overshadowing Presence which "compasseth man behind and before, and lays its hand upon him."

This wonderful presentiment of an invisible power and presence pervading and informing all nature is beautifully described by Wordsworth in his history of the development of the Scottish herdsman's mind:

So the foundations of his mind were laid

In such communion, not from terror free.

While yet a child, and long before his time,

Had he perceived the presence and the power

Of greatness; and deep feelings had impressed

So vividly great objects, that they lay

Upon his mind like substances, whose presence

Perplexed the bodily sense.

... In the after-day

Of boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn,

And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags,

He sat, and even in their fixed lineaments,

Or from the power of a peculiar eye,

Or by creative feeling overborne,

Or by predominance of thought oppressed,

Even in their fixed and steady lineaments

He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind....

Such was the Boy,--but for the growing Youth,

What soul was his, when, from the naked top

Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun

Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked:

Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth

And ocean's liquid mass, in gladness lay

Beneath him; far and wide the clouds were touched.


And in their silent faces could he read

Unutterable love. Sound needed none,

Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank

The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form

All melted into him; they swallowed up

His animal being; in them did he live,

And by them did he live; they were his life,

In such access of mind, in such high hour

Of visitation from the living God. 125

But it may be said this is all mere poetry; to which we answer, in the words of Aristotle, "Poetry is a thing more philosophical and weightier than history." 126 The true poet is the interpreter of nature. His soul is in the fullest sympathy with the grand ideas which nature symbolizes, and he "deciphers the universe as the autobiography of the Infinite Spirit." Spontaneous feeling is a kind of inspiration.

It is true that all minds may not be developed in precisely the same manner as Wordsworth's herdsman's, because the development of every individual mind is modified in some measure by exterior conditions. Men may contemplate nature from different points of view. Some may be impressed with one aspect of nature, some with another. But none will fail to recognize a mysterious presence and invisible power beneath all the fleeting and changeful phenomena of the universe. "And sometimes there are moments of tenderness, of sorrow, and of vague mystery which bring the feeling of the Infinite Presence close to the human heart." 127

Footnote 125: (return) "The Wanderer."
Footnote 126: (return) Poet, ch. ix.
Footnote 127: (return) Robertson.

Now we hold that this feeling and sentiment of the Divine--the supernatural--exists in every mind. It may be, it undoubtedly is, somewhat modified in its manifestations by the circumstances in which men are placed, and the degree of culture they have enjoyed. The African Fetichist, in his moral and intellectual debasement, conceives a supernatural power enshrined in every object of nature. The rude Fijian regards with dread, and even terror, the Being who darts the lightnings and wields the thunderbolts. The Indian "sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind." The Scottish "herdsman" on the lonely 120 mountain-top "feels the presence and the power of greatness," and "in its fixed and steady lineaments he sees an ebbing and a flowing mind." The philosopher 128 lifts his eyes to "the starry heavens" in all the depth of their concave, and with all their constellations of glory moving on in solemn grandeur, and, to his mind, these immeasurable regions seem "filled with the splendors of the Deity, and crowded with the monuments of his power;" or he turns his eye to "the Moral Law within," and he hears the voice of an intelligent and a righteous God. In all these cases we have a revelation of the sentiment of the Divine, which dwells alike in all human minds. In the Athenians this sentiment was developed in a high degree. The serene heaven which Greece enjoyed, and which was the best-loved roof of its inhabitants, the brilliant sun, the mountain scenery of unsurpassed grandeur, the deep blue sea, an image of the infinite, these poured all their fullness on the Athenian mind, and furnished the most favorable conditions for the development of the religious sentiments. The people of Athens spent most of their time in the open air in communion with nature, and in the cheerful and temperate enjoyment of existence. To recognize the Deity in the living powers of nature, and especially in man, as the highest sensible manifestation of the Divine, was the peculiar prerogative of the Grecian mind. And here in Athens, art also vied with nature to deepen the religious sentiments. It raised the mind to ideal conceptions of a beauty and a sublimity which transcended all mere nature-forms, and by images, of supernatural grandeur and loveliness presented to the Athenians symbolic representations of the separate attributes and operations of the invisible God. The plastic art of Greece was designed to express religious ideas, and was consecrated by religious feeling. Thus the facts of the case are strikingly in harmony with the words of the Apostle: "All things which I behold bear witness to your carefulness in religion," your "reverence for the Deity," your "fear of God." 129 "The sacred objects" in 121 Athens, and especially "the altar to the Unknown God," were all regarded by Paul as evidences of their instinctive faith in the invisible, the supernatural, the divine.

Footnote 128: (return) Kant, in "Critique of Practical Reason."
Footnote 129: (return) See Parkhurst's Lexicon, under Δεισιδαιµονία, which Suidas explains by εὐλάßεια περὶ τὸ θεῖον--reverence for the Divine, and Hesychius by Φυßυθέια--fear of God. Also, Josephus, Antiq., book x. ch. iii, § 2: "Manasseh, after his repentance and reformation, strove to behave himself (τῇ δεισιδαιµονία χρῆσθαί) in the most religious manner towards God." Also see A. Clarke on Acts xvii.

Along with this sentiment of the Divine there is also associated, in all human minds, an instinctive yearning after the Invisible; not a mere feeling of curiosity to pierce the mystery of being and of life, but what Paul designates "a feeling after God," which prompts man to seek after a deeper knowledge, and a more immediate consciousness. To attain this deeper knowledge--this more conscious realization of the being and the presence of God, has been the effort of all philosophy and all religion in all ages. The Hindoo Yogis proposes to withdraw into his inmost self, and by a complete suspension of all his active powers to become absorbed and swallowed up in the Infinite. 130 Plato and his followers sought by an immediate abstraction to apprehend "the unchangeable and permanent Being," and, by a loving contemplation, to become "assimilated to the Deity," and in this way to attain the immediate consciousness of God. The Neo-Platonic mystic sought by asceticism and self-mortification to prepare himself for divine communings. He would contemplate the divine perfections in himself; and in an ecstatic state, wherein all individuality vanishes, he would realize a union, or identity, with the Divine Essence. 131 While the universal Church of God, indeed, has in her purest days always taught that man may, by inward purity and a believing love, be rendered capable of spiritually apprehending, and consciously feeling, the presence of God. Some may be disposed to pronounce this as all mere mysticism. We answer, The living internal energy of religion is always mystical, it is grounded in feeling--a "sensus numinis" common to humanity. It is the mysterious 122 sentiment of the Divine; it is the prolepsis of the human spirit reaching out towards the Infinite; the living susceptibility of our spiritual nature stretching after the powers and influences of the higher world. It is upon this inner instinct of the supernatural that all religion rests. I do not say every religious idea, but whatever is positive, practical, powerful, durable, and popular. Everywhere, in all climates, in all epochs of history, and in all degrees of civilization, man is animated by the sentiment--I would rather say, the presentiment--that the world in which he lives, the order of things in the midst of which he moves, the facts which regularly and constantly succeed each other, are not all. In vain he daily makes discoveries and conquests in this vast universe; in vain he observes and learnedly verifies the general laws which govern it; his thought is not inclosed in the world surrendered to his science; the spectacle of it does not suffice his soul, it is raised beyond it; it searches after and catches glimpses of something beyond it; it aspires higher both for the universe and itself; it aims at another destiny, another master.

Footnote 130: (return) Vaughan, "Hours with the Mystics," vol. i. p. 44.
Footnote 131: (return) Id. ib., vol. i. p. 65.

"'Par delà tous ces cieux le Dieu des cieux réside.'" 132

So Voltaire has said, and the God who is beyond the skies is not nature personified, but a supernatural Personality. It is to this highest Personality that all religions address themselves. It is to bring man into communion with Him that they exist. 133

Footnote 132: (return) "Beyond all these heavens the God of the heavens resides."
Footnote 133: (return) Guizot, "L'Eglise et la Societé Chretiennes" en 1861.

4. The Athenians had that deep consciousness of sin and guilt, and of consequent liability to punishment, which confesses the need of expiation by piacular sacrifices.

Every man feels himself to be an accountable being, and he is conscious that in wrong-doing he is deserving of blame and of punishment. Deep within the soul of the transgressor is the consciousness that he is a guilty man, and he is haunted with the perpetual apprehension of a retribution which, like the spectre of evil omen, crosses his every path, and meets him at every turn.


"Tis guilt alone,

Like brain-sick frenzy in its feverish mode,

Fills the light air with visionary terrors,

And shapeless forms of fear."

Man does not possess this consciousness of guilt so much as it holds possession of him. It pursues the fugitive from justice, and it lays hold on the man who has resisted or escaped the hand of the executioner. The sense of guilt is a power over and above man; a power so wonderful that it often compels the most reckless criminal to deliver himself up, with the confession of his deed, to the sword of justice, when a falsehood would have easily protected him. Man is only able by persevering, ever-repeated efforts at self-induration, against the remonstrances of conscience, to withdraw himself from its power. His success is, however, but very partial; for sometimes, in the moments of his greatest security, the reproaches of conscience break in upon him like a flood, and sweep away all his refuge of lies. "The evil conscience is the divine bond which binds the created spirit, even in deep apostasy, to its Original. In the consciousness of guilt there is revealed the essential relation of our spirit to God, although misunderstood by man until he has something higher than his evil conscience. The trouble and anguish which the remonstrances of this consciousness excite--the inward unrest which sometimes seizes the slave of sin--are proofs that he has not quite broken away from God." 134

Footnote 134: (return) Müller, "Christian Doctrine of Sin," vol. i. pp. 225, 226.

In Grecian mythology there was a very distinct recognition of the power of conscience, and a reference of its authority to the Divinity, together with the idea of retribution. Nemesis was regarded as the impersonation of the upbraidings of conscience, of the natural dread of punishment that springs up in the human heart after the commission of sin. And as the feeling of remorse may be considered as the consequence of the displeasure and vengeance of an offended God, Nemesis came to be regarded as the goddess of retribution, relentlessly pursuing the guilty until she has driven them into irretrievable 124 woe and ruin. The Erinyes or Eumenides are the deities whose business it is to punish, in hades, the crimes committed upon earth. When an aggravated crime has excited their displeasure they manifest their greatest power in the disquietude of conscience.

Along with this deep consciousness of guilt, and this fear of retribution which haunts the guilty mind, there has also rested upon the heart of universal humanity a deep and abiding conviction that something must be done to expiate the guilt of sin--some restitution must be made, some suffering must be endured, 135 some sacrifice offered to atone for past misdeeds. Hence it is that men in all ages have had recourse to penances and prayers, to self-inflicted tortures and costly sacrifices to appease a righteous anger which their sins had excited, and avert an impending punishment. That sacrifice to atone for sin has prevailed universally--that it has been practised "sem-per, ubique, et ab omnibus," always, in all places, and by all men--will not be denied by the candid and competent inquirer. The evidence which has been collected from ancient history by Grotius and Magee, and the additional evidence from contemporaneous history, which is being now furnished by the researches of ethnologists and Christian missionaries, is conclusive. No intelligent man can doubt the fact. Sacrificial offerings have prevailed in every nation and in every age. "Almost the entire worship of the pagan nations consisted in rites of deprecation. Fear of the Divine displeasure seems to have been the leading feature of their religious impressions; and in the diversity, the costliness, the cruelty of their sacrifices they 125 sought to appease gods to whose wrath they felt themselves exposed, from a consciousness of sin, unrelieved by any information as to the means of escaping its effects." 136

Footnote 135: (return) Punishment is the penalty due to sin; or, to use the favorite expression of Homer, not unusual in the Scriptures also, it is the payment of a debt incurred by sin. When he is punished, the criminal is said to pay off or pay back (άποτίνειν) his crimes; in other words, to expiate or atone for them (Iliad, iv. 161,162),

σύν τε µεγάλω ἀπέτισαν

σίν σφῇσιν κεφαλῇσι γυναιξί τε καὶ τεκέεσσιν,

that is, they shall pay off, pay back, atone, etc., for their treachery with a great price, with their lives, and their wives and children.--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 194.

Footnote 136: (return) Magee, "On the Atonement," No. V. p. 30.

It must be known to every one at all acquainted with Greek mythology that the idea of expiation--atonement--was a fundamental idea of their religion. Independent of any historical research, a very slight glance at the Greek and Roman classics, especially the poets, who were the theologians of that age, can leave little doubt upon this head. 137 Their language everywhere announces the notion of propitiation, and, particularly the Latin, furnishes the terms which are still employed in theology. We need only mention the words ἱλασµός, ἱλάσκοµαι, λύτρον, περίψηµα, as examples from the Greek, and placare, propitiare, expiare, piaculum, from the Latin. All these indicate that the notion of expiation was interwoven into the very modes of thought and framework of the language of the ancient Greeks.

Footnote 137: (return) In Homer the doctrine is expressly taught that the gods may, and sometimes do, remit the penalty, when duly propitiated by prayers and sacrifices accompanied by suitable reparations ("Iliad," ix. 497 sqq.). "We have a practical illustration of this doctrine in the first book of the Iliad, where Apollo averts the pestilence from the army, when the daughter of his priest is returned without ransom, and a sacrifice (ἑλατόµßη) is sent to the altar of the god at sacred Chrysa.... Apollo hearkens to the intercession of his priest, accepts the sacred hecatomb, is delighted with the accompanying songs and libations, and sends back the embassy with a favoring breeze, and a favorable answer to the army, who meanwhile had been purifying (ἀπελυµαίνοντο) themselves, and offering unblemished hecatombs of bulls and goats on the shore of the sea which washes the place of their encampment."

"The object of the propitiatory embassy to Apollo is thus stated by Ulysses: Agamemnon, king of men, has sent me to bring back thy daughter Chryses, and to offer a sacred hecatomb for (ὑπέρ) the Greeks, that we may propitiate (ιλασόµεσθα) the king, who now sends woes and many groans upon the Argives" (442 sqq.).--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 196, 197.

We do not deem it needful to discuss at length the question which has been so earnestly debated among theologians, as to whether the idea of expiation be a primitive and necessary idea of the human mind, or whether the practice of piacular sacrifices came into the post-diluvian world with Noah, as a 126 positive institution of a primitive religion then first directly instituted by God. On either hypothesis the practice of expiatory rites derives its authority from God; in the latter case, by an outward and verbal revelation, in the former by an inward and intuitive revelation.

This much, however, must be conceded on all hands, that there are certain fundamental intuitions, universal and necessary, which underlie the almost universal practice of expiatory sacrifice, namely, the universal consciousness of guilt, and the universal conviction that something must be done to expiate guilt, to compensate for wrong, and to atone for past misdeeds. But how that expiation can be effected, how that atonement can be made, is a question which reason does not seem competent to answer. That personal sin can be atoned for by vicarious suffering, that national guilt can be expiated and national punishment averted by animal sacrifices, or even by human sacrifices, is repugnant to rather than conformable with natural reason. There exists no discernible connection between the one and the other. We may suppose that eucharistic, penitential, and even deprecatory sacrifices may have originated in the light of nature and reason, but we are unable to account for the practice of piacular sacrifices for substitutional atonement, on the same principle. The ethical principle, that one's own sins are not transferable either in their guilt or punishment, is so obviously just that we feel it must have been as clear to the mind of the Greek who brought his victim to be offered to Zeus, as it is to the philosophic mind of to-day. 138 The knowledge that the Divine displeasure can be averted by sacrifice is not, by Plato, grounded upon any intuition of reason, as is the existence of God, the idea of the true, the just, and good, but on "tradition," 139 and the "interpretations" of Apollo. "To the Delphian Apollo there remains the greatest, noblest, and most important of legal institutions--the erection of temples, sacrifices, 127 and other services to the gods,... and what other services should be gone through with a view to their propitiation. Such things as these, indeed, we neither know ourselves, nor in founding the State would we intrust them to others, if we be wise;... the god of the country is the natural interpreter to all men about such matters." 140

Footnote 138: (return) "He that hath done the deed, to suffer for it--thus cries a proverb thrice hallowed by age."--Æschylus, "Choëph," 311.
Footnote 139: (return) "Laws," book vi. ch. xv.
Footnote 140: (return) "Republic," book iv. ch. v.

The origin of expiatory sacrifices can not, we think, be explained except on the principle of a primitive revelation and a positive appointment of God. They can not be understood except as a divinely-appointed symbolism, in which there is exhibited a confession of personal guilt and desert of punishment; an intimation and a hope that God will be propitious and merciful; and a typical promise and prophecy of a future Redeemer from sin, who shall "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." This sacred rite was instituted in connection with the protevangelium given to our first parents; it was diffused among the nations by tradition, and has been kept alive as a general, and, indeed, almost universal observance, by that deep sense of sin, and consciousness of guilt, and personal urgency of the need of a reconciliation, which are so clearly displayed in Grecian mythology.

The legitimate inference we find ourselves entitled to draw from the words of Paul, when fairly interpreted in the light of the past religious history of the world, is, that the Athenians were a religious people; that is, they were, however unknowing, believers in and worshippers of the One Supreme God.




"That there is one Supreme Deity, both philosophers and poets, and even the vulgar worshippers of the gods themselves frequently acknowledge; which because the assertors of gods well understood, they affirm these gods of theirs to preside over the several parts of the world, yet so that there is only one chief governor. Whence it follows, that all their other gods can be no other than ministers and officers which one greatest God, who is omnipotent, hath variously appointed, and constituted so as to serve his command." --LACTANTIUS.

The conclusion reached in the previous chapter that the Athenians were believers in and worshippers of the One Supreme God, has been challenged with some considerable show of reason and force, on the ground that they were Polytheists and Idolaters.

An objection which presents itself so immediately on the very face of the sacred narrative, and which is sustained by the unanimous voice of history, is entitled to the fullest consideration. And as the interests of truth are infinitely more precious than the maintenance of any theory, however plausible, we are constrained to accord to this objection the fullest weight, and give to it the most impartial consideration. We can not do otherwise than at once admit that the Athenians were Polytheists--they worshipped "many gods" besides "the unknown God." It is equally true that they were Idolaters--they worshipped images or statues of the gods, which images were also, by an easy metonymy, called "gods."

But surely no one supposes that this is all that can be said upon the subject, and that, after such admissions, the discussion must be closed. On the contrary, we have, as yet, scarce caught a glimpse of the real character and genius of Grecian 129 polytheistic worship, and we have not made the first approach towards a philosophy of Grecian mythology.

The assumption that the heathen regarded the images "graven by art and device of man" as the real creators of the world and man, or as having any control over the destinies of men, sinks at once under the weight of its own absurdity. Such hypothesis is repudiated with scorn and indignation by the heathens themselves. Cotta, in Cicero, declares explicitly: "though it be common and familiar language amongst us to call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus, yet who can think any one so mad as to take that to be really a god that he feeds upon?" 141 And Plutarch condemns the whole practice of giving the names of gods and goddesses to inanimate objects, as absurd, impious, and atheistical: "they who give the names of gods to senseless matter and inanimate things, and such as are destroyed by men in the using, beget most wicked and atheistical opinions in the minds of men, since it can not be conceived how these things should be gods, for nothing that is inanimate is a god." 142 And so also the Hindoo, the Buddhist, the American Indian, the Fijian of to-day, repel the notion that their visible images are real gods, or that they worship them instead of the unseen God.

Footnote 141: (return) Cudworth's "Intell. System," vol. ii. p. 257, Eng. ed.
Footnote 142: (return) Quoted in Cudworth's "Intell. System," vol. ii. p. 258, Eng. ed.

And furthermore, that even the invisible divinities which these images were designed to represent, were each independent, self-existent beings, and that the stories which are told concerning them by Homer and Hesiod were received in a literal sense, is equally improbable. The earliest philosophers knew as well as we know, that the Deity, in order to be Deity, must be either perfect or nothing--that he must be one, not many--without parts and passions; and they were scandalized and shocked by the religious fables of the ancient mythology as much as we are. Xenophanes, who lived, as we know, before Pythagoras, accuses Homer and Hesiod of having ascribed to the gods every thing that is disgraceful amongst men, as stealing, adultery, and deceit. He remarks "that men seem to have 130 created their gods, and to have given them their own mind, and voice, and figure." He himself declares that "God is one, the greatest amongst gods and men, neither in form nor in thought like unto men." He calls the battles of the Titans and the Giants, and the Centaurs, "the inventions of former generations," and he demands that God shall be praised in holy songs and nobler strains. 143 Diogenes Laertius relates the following of Pythagoras, "that when he descended to the shades below, he saw the soul of Hesiod bound to a pillar of brass and gnashing his teeth; and that of Homer, as suspended on a tree, and surrounded by serpents; as a punishment for the things they had said of the gods." 144 These poets, who had corrupted theology, Plato proposes to exclude from his ideal Republic; or if permitted at all, they must be subjected to a rigid expurgation. "We shall," says he, "have to repudiate a large part of those fables which are now in vogue; and, especially, of what I call the greater fables,--the stories which Hesiod and Homer tell us. In these stories there is a fault which deserves the gravest condemnation; namely, when an author gives a bad representation of gods and heroes. We must condemn such a poet, as we should condemn a painter, whose pictures bear no resemblance to the objects which he tries to imitate. For instance, the poet Hesiod related an ugly story when he told how Uranus acted, and how Kronos had his revenge upon him. They are offensive stories, and must not be repeated in our cities. Not yet is it proper to say, in any case,--what is indeed untrue--that gods wage war against gods, and intrigue and fight among themselves. Stories like the chaining of Juno by her son Vulcan, and the flinging of Vulcan out of heaven for trying to take his mother's part when his father was beating her, and all other battles of the gods which are found in Homer, must be refused admission into our state, whether they are allegorical or not. For a child can not discriminate between what is allegorical and what is not; and whatever is adopted, as a 131 matter of belief, in childhood, has a tendency to become fixed and indelible; and therefore we ought to esteem it as of the greatest importance that the fables which children first hear should be adapted, as far as possible, to promote virtue." 145

Footnote 143: (return) Max Muller, "Science of Language," pp. 405, 406.
Footnote 144: (return) "Lives," bk. viii. ch. xix. p. 347.
Footnote 145: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xvii.

If, then, poetic and allegorical representations of divine things are to be permitted in the ideal republic, then the founders of the state are to prescribe "the moulds in which the poets are to cast their fictions."

"Now what are these moulds to be in the case of Theology? They may be described as follows: It is right always to represent God as he really is, whether the poet describe him in an epic, or a lyric, or a dramatic poem. Now God is, beyond all else, good in reality, and therefore so to be represented. But nothing that is good is hurtful. That which is good hurts not; does no evil; is the cause of no evil. That which is good is beneficial; is the cause of good. And, therefore, that which is good is not the cause of all which is and happens, but only of that which is as it should be.... The good things we must ascribe to God, whilst we must seek elsewhere, and not in him, the causes of evil things."

We must, then, express our disapprobation of Homer, or any other poet, who is guilty of such a foolish blunder as to tell us (Iliad, xxiv. 660) that:

'Fast by the threshold of Jove's court are placed

Two casks--one stored with evil, one with good:'placed

and that he for whom the Thunderer mingles both--

'He leads a life checkered with good and ill.'

But as for the man to whom he gives the bitter cup unmixed--

'He walks

The blessed earth unbless'd, go where he will.'

And if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties by the act of Pandarus was brought about by Athené and Zeus (Iliad, ii. 60), we should refuse our approbation. Nor can we allow it to be said that the strife and trial of strength between 132 the gods (Iliad, xx.) was instigated by Themis and Zeus.... Such language can not be used without irreverence; it is both injurious to us, and contradictory in itself. 146

Inasmuch as God is perfect to the utmost in beauty and goodness, he abides ever the same, and without any variation in his form. Then let no poet tell us that (Odyss. xvii. 582)

'In similitude of strangers oft

The Gods, who can with ease all shapes assume,

Repair to populous cities.'

And let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, or introduce in tragedies, or any other poems, Hera transformed into the guise of a princess collecting

'Alms for the life-giving children of Inachus, river of Argos,'

not to mention many other falsehoods which we must interdict. 147

"When a poet holds such language concerning the gods, we shall be angry with him, and refuse him a chorus. Neither shall we allow our teachers to use his writings for the instruction of the young, if we would have our guards grow up to be as god-like and god-fearing as it is possible for men to be." 148

We are thus constrained by the statements of the heathens themselves, as well as by the dictates of common sense, to look beyond the external drapery and the material forms of Polytheism for some deeper and truer meaning that shall be more in harmony with the facts of the universal religious consciousness of our race. The religion of ancient Greece consisted in something more than the fables of Jupiter and Juno, of Apollo and Minerva, of Venus and Bacchus. "Through the rank and poisonous vegetation of mythic phraseology, we may always catch a glimpse of an original stem round which it creeps and winds itself, and without which it can not enjoy that parasitical existence which has been mistaken for independent vitality." 149

Footnote 146: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xix.
Footnote 147: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xx. Much more to the same effect may be seen in ch. ii.
Footnote 148: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xxi.
Footnote 149: (return) Max Müller, "Science of Language," 2d series, p. 433.

It is an obvious truth, attested by the voice of universal consciousness as revealed in history, that the human mind can never rest satisfied within the sphere of sensible phenomena. Man is impelled by an inward necessity to pass, in thought, beyond the boundary-line of sense, and inquire after causes and entities which his reason assures him must lie beneath all sensible appearances. He must and will interpret nature according to the forms of his own personality, or according to the fundamental ideas of his own reason. In the childlike subjectivity of the undisciplined mind he will either transfer to nature the phenomena of his own personality, regarding the world as a living organism which has within it an informing soul, and thus attain a pantheistic conception of the universe; or else he will fix upon some extraordinary and inexplicable phenomenon of nature, and, investing it with supernatural significance, will rise from thence to a religious and theocratic conception of nature as a whole. An intelligence--a mind within nature, and inseparable from nature, or else above nature and governing nature, is, for man, an inevitable thought.

It is equally obvious that humanity can never relegate itself from a supernatural origin, neither can it ever absolve itself from a permanent correlation with the Divine. Man feels within him an instinctive nobility. He did not arise out of the bosom of nature; in some mysterious way he has descended from an eternal mind, he is "the offspring of God." And furthermore, a theocratic conception of nature, associated with a pre-eminent regard for certain apparently supernatural experiences in the history of humanity, becomes the foundation of governments, of civil authority, and of laws. Society can not be founded without the aid of the Deity, and a commonwealth can only be organized by Divine interposition. "A Ceres must appear and sow the fields with corn." And a Numa or a Lycurgus must be heralded by the oracle as

"Dear to Jove, and all who sit in the halls of the Olympus."

He must be a "descendant of Zeus," appointed by the gods 134 to rule, and one who will "prove himself a god." These divinely-appointed rulers were regarded as the ministers of God, the visible representatives of the unseen Power which really governs all. The divine government must also have its invisible agents--its Nemesis, and Themis, and Diké, the ministers of law, of justice, and of retribution; and its Jupiter, and Juno, and Neptune, and Pluto, ruling, with delegated powers, in the heavens, the air, the sea, and the nethermost regions. So that, in fact, there exists no nation, no commonwealth, no history without a Theophany, and along with it certain sacred legends detailing the origin of the people, the government, the country itself, and the world at large. This is especially true of India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Their primitive history is eminently mythological.

Grecian polytheism can not be otherwise regarded than as a poetico-historical religion of myth and symbol which is under-laid by a natural Theism; a parasitical growth which winds itself around the original stem of instinctive faith in a supernatural Power and Presence which pervades the universe. The myths are oral traditions, floating down from that dim; twilight of poetic history, which separates real history, with its fixed chronology, from the unmeasured and unrecorded eternity--faint echoes from that mystic border-land which divides the natural from the supernatural, and in which they seem to have been marvellously commingled. They are the lingering memories of those manifestations of God to men, in which he or his celestial ministers came into visible intercourse with our race; the reality of which is attested by sacred history. In all these myths there is a theogonic and cosmogonic element. They tell of the generation of the celestial and aërial divinities--the subordinate agents and ministers of the Divine government. They attempt an explanation of the genesis of the visible universe, the origin of humanity, and the development of human society. In the presence of history, the substance of these myths is preserved by symbols, that is, by means of natural or artificial, real or striking objects, which, by some analogy 135 or arbitrary association, shall suggest the idea to the mind. These symbols were designed to represent the invisible attributes and operations of the Deity; the powers that vitalize nature, that control the elements, that preside over cities, that protect the nations: indeed, all the agencies of the physical and moral government of God. Beneath all the pagan legends of gods, and underlying all the elaborate mechanism of pagan worship, there are unquestionably philosophical ideas, and theological conceptions, and religious sentiments, which give as meaning, and even a mournful grandeur to the whole.

Whilst the pagan polytheistic worship is, under one aspect, to be regarded as a departure from God, inasmuch as it takes away the honor due to God alone, and transfers it to the creature; still, under another aspect, we can not fail to recognize in it the effort of the human mind to fill up the chasm that seemed, to the undisciplined mind, to separate God and man--and to bridge the gulf between the visible and the invisible, the finite and the infinite. It was unquestionably an attempt to bring God nearer to the sense and comprehension of man. It had its origin in that instinctive yearning after the supernatural, the Divine, which dwells in all human hearts, and which has revealed itself in all philosophies, mysticisms, and religions. 150 This longing was stimulated by the contemplation of the living beauty and grandeur of the visible universe, which, to the lively fancy and deep feeling of the Greeks, seemed as the living vesture of the Infinite Mind,--the temple of the eternal Deity. In this visible universe the Divinity was partly revealed, and partly concealed. The unity of the all-pervading Intelligence was veiled beneath an apparent diversity of power, and a manifoldness of operations. They caught some glimpses of this universal presence in nature, but were more immediately and vividly impressed by the several manifestations of the divine perfections and divine operations, as so many separate rays of the Divinity, or so many subordinate agents and 136 functionaries employed to execute the will and carry out the purposes of the Supreme Mind. 151 That unseen, incomprehensible Power and Presence was perceived in the sublimity of the deep blue sky, the energy of the vitalizing sun, the surging of the sea, the rushing wind, the roaring thunder, the ripening corn, and the clustering vine. To these separate manifestations of the Deity they gave personal names, as Jupiter to the heavens, Juno to the air, Neptune to the sea, Ceres to the corn, and Bacchus to the vine. These personals denoted, not the things themselves, but the invisible, divine powers supposed to preside over those several departments of nature. By a kind of prosopopœia "they spake of the things in nature, and parts of the world, as persons--and consequently as so many gods and goddesses--yet so as the intelligent might easily understand their meaning, that these were in reality nothing else but so many names and notions of that one Numen,--divine force and power which runs through all the world, multiformly displaying itself." 152 "Their various deities were but different names, different conceptions, of that Incomprehensible Being which no thought can reach, and no language express." 153 Having given to these several manifestations of the Divinity personal names, they now sought to represent them to the eye of sense by visible forms, as the symbols or images of the perfections of the unseen, the incomprehensible, the unknown God. And as the Greeks regarded man as the first and noblest among the phenomena of nature, they selected the human form as the highest sensible manifestation of God, the purest symbol of the Divinity. Grecian 137 polytheism was thus a species of mythical anthropomorphism.

Footnote 150: (return) The original constitution of man is such that he "seeks after" God Acts xvii. 27. "All men yearn after the gods" (Homer, "Odyss." iii. 48).
Footnote 151: (return) "Heathenism springs directly from this, that the mind lays undue stress upon the bare letter in the book of creation; that it separates and individualizes its objects as far as possible; that it places the sense of the individual part, in opposition to the sense of the whole,--to the analogia fidei or spiritus which alone gives unity to the book of nature, while it dilutes and renders as transitory as possible the sense of the universal in the whole.... And as it laid great stress upon the letter in the book of nature, it fell into polytheism. The particular symbol of the divine, or of the Godhead, became a myth of some special deity."--Lange's "Bible-work," Genesis, p. 23.
Footnote 152: (return) Cudworth, "Intellect. System," vol. i. p. 308.
Footnote 153: (return) Max Müller, "Science of Language," p. 431.

A philosophy of Grecian mythology, such as we have outlined in the preceding paragraphs, is, in our judgment, perfectly consistent with the views announced by Paul in his address to the Athenians. He intimates that the Athenians "thought that the Godhead was like unto (ἐ ναι ὄµοιον)--to be imaged or represented by human art--by gold, and silver, and precious stone graven by art, and device of man;" that is, they thought the perfections of God could be represented to the eye by an image, or symbol. The views of Paul are still more articulately expressed in Romans, i. 23, 25: "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the similitude of an image of corruptible man,.... and they worshipped and served the thing made, παρά--rather than, or more than the Creator." Here, then, the apostle intimates, first, that the heathen knew God, 154 and that they worshipped God. They worshipped the creature besides or even more than God, but still they also worshipped God. And, secondly, they represented the perfections of God by an image, and under this, as a "likeness" or symbol, they indirectly worshipped God. Their religious system was, then, even to the eye of Paul, a symbolic worship--that is, the objects of their devotion were the ὁµοιώµατα--the similitudes, the likenesses, the images of the perfections of the invisible God.

Footnote 154: (return) Verse 21.

It is at once conceded by us, that the "sensus numinis," the natural intuition of a Supreme Mind, whose power and presence are revealed in nature, can not maintain itself, as an influential, and vivifying, and regulative belief amongst men, without the continual supernatural interposition of God; that is, without a succession of Divine revelations. And further, we grant that, instead of this symbolic mode of worship deepening and vitalizing the sense of God as a living power and presence, there is great danger that the symbol shall at length unconsciously take the place of God, and be worshipped instead of Him. From the purest form of symbolism which prevailed in 138 the earliest ages, there may be an inevitable descent to the rudest form of false worship, with its accompanying darkness, and abominations, and crimes; but, at the same time, let us do justice to the religions of the ancient world--the childhood stammerings of religious life--which were something more than the inventions of designing men, or the mere creations of human fancy; they were, in the words of Paul, "a seeking after God, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, who is not far from any one of us." It can not be denied that the more thoughtful and intelligent Greeks regarded the visible objects of their devotion as mere symbols of the perfections and operations of the unseen God, and of the invisible powers and subordinate agencies which are employed by him in his providential and moral government of the world. And whatever there was of misapprehension and of "ignorance" in the popular mind, we have the assurance of Paul that it was "overlooked" by God.

The views here presented will, we venture to believe, be found most in harmony with a true philosophy of the human mind; with the religious phenomena of the world; and, as we shall subsequently see, with the writings of those poets and philosophers who may be fairly regarded as representing the sentiments and opinions of the ancient world. At the same time, we have no desire to conceal the fact that this whole question as to the origin, and character, and philosophy of the mythology and symbolism of the religions of the ancient world has been a subject of earnest controversy from Patristic times down to the present hour, and that even to-day there exists a wide diversity of opinion among philosophers, as well as theologians.

The principal theories offered may be classed as the ethical, the physical, and the historical, according to the different objects the framers of the myths are supposed to have had in view. Some have regarded the myths as invented by the priests and wise men of old for the improvement and government of society, 139 as designed to give authority to laws, and maintain social order. 155 Others have regarded them as intended to be allegorical interpretations of physical phenomena--the poetic embodiment of the natural philosophy of the primitive races of men; 156 whilst others have looked upon them as historical legends, having a substratum of fact, and, when stripped of the supernatural and miraculous drapery which accompanies fable, as containing the history of primitive times. 157 Some of the latter class have imagined they could recognize in Grecian mythology traces of sacred personages, as well as profane; in fact, a dimmed image of the patriarchal traditions which are preserved in the Old Testament scriptures. 158

It is beyond our design to discuss all the various theories presented, or even to give a history of opinions entertained. 159 We are fully convinced that the hypothesis we have presented in the preceding pages, viz., that Grecian mythology was a grand symbolic representation of the Divine as manifested in nature and providence, is the only hypothesis which meets and harmonizes all the facts of the case. This is the theory of Plato, of Cudworth, Baumgarten, Max Müller, and many other distinguished scholars.

Footnote 155: (return) Empedocles, Metrodorus.
Footnote 156: (return) Aristotle.
Footnote 157: (return) Hecatæus, Herodotus, some of the early Fathers, Niebuhr, J.H. Voss, Arnold.
Footnote 158: (return) Bochart, G.J. Vossius, Faber, Gladstone.
Footnote 159: (return) To the English reader who desires an extended and accurate acquaintance with the classic and patristic literature of this deeply interesting subject, we commend the careful study of Cudworth's "Intellectual System of the Universe," especially ch. iv. The style of Cudworth is perplexingly involved, and his great work is unmethodical in its arrangement and discussion. Nevertheless, the patient and persevering student will be amply rewarded for his pains. A work of more profound research into the doctrine of antiquity concerning God, and into the real import of the religious systems of the ancient world, is, probably, not extant in any language.

There are two fundamental propositions laid down by Cudworth which constitute the basis of this hypothesis.

1. No well-authenticated instance can be furnished from among the Greek Polytheists of one who taught the existence of a multiplicity of independenty uncreated, self-existent deities; they almost universally 140 believed in the existence of ONE SUPREME, UNCREATED, ETERNAL GOD, "The Maker of all things"--"the Father of gods and men," --"the sole Monarch and Ruler of the world."

2. The Greek Polytheists taught a plurality of "GENERATED DEITIES," who owe their existence to the power and will of the Supreme God, who are by Him invested with delegated powers, and who, as the agents of his universal providence, preside over different departments of the created universe.

The evidence presented by Cudworth in support of his theses is so varied and so voluminous, that it defies all attempts at condensation. His volumes exhibit an extent of reading, of patient research, and of varied learning, which is truly amazing. The discussion of these propositions involves, in fact, nothing less than a complete and exhaustive survey of the entire field of ancient literature, a careful study of the Greek and Latin poets, of the Oriental, Greek, and Alexandrian philosophers, and a review of the statements and criticisms of Rabbinical and Patristic writers in regard to the religions of the pagan world. An adequate conception of the varied and weighty evidence which is collected by our author from these fields, in support of his views, could only be conveyed by transcribing to our pages the larger portion of his memorable fourth chapter. But inasmuch as Grecian polytheism is, in fact, the culmination of all the mythological systems of the ancient world, the fully-developed flower and ripened fruit of the cosmical and theological conceptions of the childhood-condition of humanity, we propose to epitomize the results of his inquiry as to the theological, opinions of the Greeks, supplying additional confirmation of his views from other sources.

And first, he proves most conclusively that Orpheus, Homer, and Hesiod, 160 who are usually designated "the theologians" 141 of Greece, but who were in fact the depravers and corrupters of pagan theology, do not teach the existence of a multitude of unmade, self-existent, and independent deities. Even they believed in the existence of one uncreated and eternal mind, one Supreme God, anterior and superior to all the gods of their mythology. They had some intuition, some apperception of the Divine, even before they had attached to it a sacred name. The gods of their mythology had all, save one, a temporal origin; they were generated of Chaos and Night, by an active principle called Love. "One might suspect," says Aristotle, that Hesiod, and if there be any other who made love or desire a principle of things, aimed at these very things (viz., the designation of the efficient cause of the world); for Parmenides, describing the generation of the universe, says:

'First of all the gods planned he love;'

and further, Hesiod:

'First of all was Chaos, afterwards Earth,

With her spacious bosom,

And Love, who is pre-eminent among all the immortals;'

as intimating here that in entities there should exist some cause that will impart motion, and hold bodies in union together. But how, in regard to these, one ought to distribute them, as to the order of priority, can be decided afterwards. 161

Footnote 160: (return) We do not concern ourselves with the chronological antecedence of these ancient Greek poets. It is of little consequence to us whether Homer preceded Orpheus, or Orpheus Homer. They were not the real creators of the mythology of ancient Greece. The myths were a spontaneous growth of the earliest human thought even before the separation of the Aryan family into its varied branches.

The study of Comparative Mythology, as well as of Comparative Language, assures us that the myths had an origin much earlier than the times of Homer and Orpheus. They floated down from ages on the tide of oral tradition before they were systematized, embellished, and committed to writing by Homer, and Orpheus, and Hesiod. And between the systems of these three poets a perceptible difference is recognizable, which reflects the changes that verbal recitations necessarily and imperceptibly undergo.

Footnote 161: (return) "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iv.

Now whether this "first principle," called "Love," "the cause of motion and of union" in the universe, was regarded as a personal Being, and whether, as the ancient scholiast taught, Hesiod's love was "the heavenly Love, which is also God, that other love that was born of Venus being junior," is just now of no moment to the argument. The more important inference is, 142 that amongst the gods of Pagan theology but one is self-existent, or else none are. Because the Hesiodian gods, which are, in fact, all the gods of the Greek mythology, "were either all of them derived from chaos, love itself likewise being generated out of it; or else love was supposed to be distinct from chaos, and the active principle of the universe, from whence, together with chaos, all the theogony and cosmogony was derived." 162 Hence it is evident the poets did not teach the existence of a multiplicity of unmade, self-existent, independent deities.

Footnote 162: (return) "Cudworth," vol. i. p. 287.

The careful reader of Cudworth will also learn another truth of the utmost importance in this connection, viz., that the theogony of the Greek poets was, in fact, a cosmogony, the generation of the gods being, in reality, the generation of the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the various powers and phenomena of nature. This is dimly shadowed forth in the very names which are given to some of these divinities. Thus Helios is the sun, Selena is the moon, Zeus the sky--the deep blue heaven, Eos the dawn, and Ersē the dew. It is rendered still more evident by the opening lines of Hesiod's "Theogonia," in which he invokes the muses:

"Hail ye daughters of Jupiter! Grant a delightsome song.

Tell of the race of immortal gods, always existing,

Who are the offspring of the earth, of the starry sky,

And of the gloomy night, whom also the ocean nourisheth.

Tell how the gods and the earth at first were made,

And the rivers, and the mighty deep, boiling with waves,

And the glowing stars, and the broad heavens above,

And the gods, givers of good, born of these."

Where we see plainly that the generation of the gods is the generation of the earth, the heaven, the stars, the seas, the rivers, and other things produced by them. "But immediately after invocation of the Muses the poet begins with Chaos, and Tartara, and Love, as the first principles, and then proceeds to the production of the earth and of night out of chaos; of the ether and of day, from night; of the starry heavens, mountains, and seas. All which generation of gods is really nothing but 143 a poetic description of the cosmogonia; as through the sequel of the poem all seems to be physiology veiled under fiction and allegory.... Hesiod's gods are thus not only the animated parts of the world, but also the other things of nature personified and deified, or abusively called gods and goddesses." 163 The same is true both of the Orphic and Homeric gods. "Their generation of the gods is the same with the generation or creation of the world, both of them having, in all probability, derived it from the Mosaic cabala, or tradition." 164

But in spite of all this mythological obscuration, the belief in one Supreme God is here and there most clearly recognizable. "That Zeus was originally to the Greeks the Supreme God, the true God--nay, at some time their only God--can be perceived in spite of the haze which mythology has raised around his name." 165 True, they sometimes used the word "Zeus" in a physical sense to denote the deep expanse of heaven, and sometimes in a historic sense, to designate a hero or deified man said to have been born in Crete. It is also true that the Homeric Zeus is full of contradictions. He is "all-seeing," yet he is cheated; he is "omnipotent," yet he is defied; he is "eternal," yet he has a father; he is "just," yet he is guilty of crime. Now, as Müller very justly remarks, these contradictions may teach us a lesson. If all the conceptions of Zeus had sprung from one origin, these contradictions could not have existed. If Zeus had simply and only meant the Supreme God, he could not have been the son of Kronos (Time). If, on the other hand, Zeus had been a mere mythological personage, as Eos, the dawn, and Helios, the sun, he could never have been addressed as he is addressed in the famous prayer of Achilles (Iliad, bk. xxi.). 166

Footnote 163: (return) Cudworth, vol. i. pp. 321, 332.
Footnote 164: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. p. 478.
Footnote 165: (return) Max Müller, "Science of Language," p. 457.
Footnote 166: (return) Id., ib., p. 458.

In Homer there is a perpetual blending of the natural and the supernatural, the human and divine. The Iliad is an incongruous medley of theology, physics, and history. In its gorgeous scenic representations, nature, humanity, and deity are 144 mingled in inextricable confusion. The gods are sometimes supernatural and superhuman personages; sometimes the things and powers of nature personified; and sometimes they are deified men. And yet there are passages, even in Homer, which clearly distinguish Zeus from all the other divinities, and mark him out as the Supreme. He is "the highest, first of Gods" (bk. xix. 284); "most great, most glorious Jove" (bk. ii. 474). He is "the universal Lord" (bk. xi. 229); "of mortals and immortals king supreme," (bk. xii. 263); "over all the immortal gods he reigns in unapproached pre-eminence of power" (bk. xv. 125). He is "the King of kings" (bk. viii. 35), whose "will is sovereign" (bk. iv. 65), and his "power invincible" (bk. viii. 35). He is the "eternal Father" (bk. viii. 77). He "excels in wisdom gods and men; all human things from him proceed" (bk. xiii. 708-10); "the Lord of counsel" (bk. i. 208), "the all-seeing Jove" (bk. xiii. 824). Indeed the mere expression "Father of gods and men" (bk. i. 639), so often applied to Zeus, and him alone, is proof sufficient that, in spite of all the legendary stories of gods and heroes, the idea of Zeus as the Supreme God, the maker of the world, the Father of gods and men, the monarch and ruler of the world, was not obliterated from the Greek mind. 167

Footnote 167: (return) "In the order of legendary chronology Zeus comes after Kronos and Uranos, but in the order of Grecian conception Zeus is the prominent person, and Kronos and Uranos are inferior and introductory precursors, set up in order to be overthrown, and to serve as mementos of the powers of their conqueror. To Homer and Hesiod, as well as to the Greeks universally, Zeus is the great, the predominant God, 'the Father of gods and men,' whose power none of the gods can hope to resist, or even deliberately think of questioning. All the other gods have their specific potency, and peculiar sphere of action and duty, with which Zeus does not usually interfere; but it is he who maintains the lineaments of a providential government, as well over the phenomena of Olympus as over the earth."--Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. i. p. 3.

Zeus is not only lord of heaven but likewise the ruler of the lower world, and the master of the sea.--Welcher, "Griechische Götterlehre," vol. i. p. 164. The Zeus of the Greek poets is unquestionably the god of whom Paul declared: In him we live and move, and have our being, as certain of your own poets have also said--

"'For we are his offspring.'"

Now whether this be a quotation from Aratus or Cleanthes, the language of the poets is, "We are the offspring of Zeus;" consequently the Zeus of the poets and the God of Christianity are the same God.

"The father of gods and men in Homer is, of course, the Universal Father of the Scriptures."--Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 171.

"When Homer introduces Eumaios, the swineherd, speaking of this life and the higher powers that rule it, he knows 145 only of just gods 'who hate cruel deeds, but honor justice and the righteous works of men' (Od. xiv. 83). His whole life is built up on a complete trust in the divine government of the world without any artificial helps, as the Erinys, the Nemesis, or Moira. 'Eat,' says the swineherd, 'and enjoy what is here, for God 168 will grant one thing, but another he will refuse, whatever he will in his mind, for he can do all things' (Od. xiv. 444; x. 306). This surely is religion, and it is religion untainted by mythology. Again, the prayer of the female slave, grinding corn in the house of Ulysses is religious in the truest sense--'Father Zeus, thou who rulest over gods and men, surely thou hast just thundered in the starry sky, and there is no cloud anywhere. Thou showest this as a sign to some one. Fulfill now, even to me, miserable wretch, the prayer which I now offer'" (Od. xx. 141-150). 169

Footnote 168: (return) No sound reason can be assigned for translating θεός by "a god" as some have proposed, rather than "God." But even if it were translated "a god," this god must certainly be understood as Zeus. Plato tells us that Zeus is the most appropriate name for God. "For in reality the name Zeus is, as it were, a sentence; and persons dividing it in two parts, some of us make use of one part, and some of another; for some call him Ζήν, and some Δίς. But these parts, collected together into one, exhibit the nature of the God;... for there is no one who is more the cause of living, both to us and everything else, than he who is the ruler and king of all. It follows, therefore, that this god is rightly named, through whom life is present in all living beings."--Cratylus, § 28.

Θεός was usually employed, says Cudworth, to designate God by way of pre-eminence, θεοί to designate inferior divinities.

Footnote 169: (return) Müller, "Science of Language," p. 434.

The Greek tragedians were the great religious instructors of the Athenian people. "Greek tragedy grew up in connection with religious worship, and constituted not only a popular but a sacred element in the festivals of the gods.... In short, 146 strange as it may sound to modern ears, the Greek stage was, more nearly than any thing else, the Greek pulpit. 170 With a priesthood that offered sacrifice, but did not preach, with few books of any kind, the people were, in a great measure, dependent on oral instruction for knowledge; and as they learned their rights and duties as citizens from their orators, so they hung on the lips of the 'lofty, grave tragedians' for instruction touching their origin, duty, and destiny as mortal and immortal beings.... Greek tragedy is essentially didactic, ethical, mythological, and religious." 171

Footnote 170: (return) Pulpitum, a stage.
Footnote 171: (return) Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 205, 206.

Now it is unquestionable that, with the tragedians, Zeus is the Supreme God. Æschylus is pre-eminently the theological poet of Greece. The great problems which lie at the foundation of religious faith and practice are the main staple of nearly all his tragedies. Homer, Hesiod, the sacred poets, had looked at these questions in their purely poetic aspects. The subsequent philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, developed them more fully by their didactic method. Æschylus stands on the dividing-line between them, no less poetic than the former, scarcely less philosophical than the latter, but more intensely practical, personal, and theological than either. The character of the Supreme Divinity, as represented in his tragedies, approaches more nearly to the Christian idea of God. He is the Universal Father--Father of gods and men; the Universal Cause (παναίτιος, Agamem. 1485); the All-seer and All-doer (παντόπτης, πανεργέτης, ibid, and Sup. 139); the All-wise and All-controlling (παγκρατής, Sup. 813); the Just and the Executor of justice (δικηφόρος, Agamem. 525); true and incapable of falsehood (Prom. 1031);

ψευδηγορεῖν γὰρ οὐκ ἐπίσταταί στόµα

τὸ δίον, ἀλλὰ πᾶν ἔπος τελεῖ,--

holy (ἁγνός, Sup. 650); merciful (πρευµένης, ibid. 139); the God especially of the suppliant and the stranger (Supplices, passim); the most high and perfect One (τέλειον ὕψιστον, Eumen. 147 28); King of kings, of the happy, most happy, of the perfect, most perfect power, blessed Zeus (Sup. 522). 172 Such are some of the titles by which Zeus is most frequently addressed; such the attributes commonly ascribed to him in Æschylus.

Sophocles was the great master who carried Greek tragedy to its highest perfection. Only seven out of more than a hundred of his tragedies have come down to us. There are passages cited by Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, and others which are not found in those tragedies now extant. The most famous and extensively quoted passage is given by Cudworth. 173

Εἶς ταῖς ἀληθείαισιν, εἰς ἐστίν θεὸς,

Ὂς οὐρανόν τ᾽ έτευξε καὶ γαῖαν µακρὰν,

Πόντου τε χαροπὸν οἶδµα, κἀνέµων ßίαν, κ. τ. λ. 174

This "one only God" is Zeus, who is the God of justice, and reigns supreme:

"Still in yon starry heaven supreme,

Jove, all-beholding, all-directing, dwells--

To him commit thy vengeance."--"Electra," p. 174 sqq.

This description of the unsleeping, undecaying power and dominion of Zeus is worthy of some Hebrew prophet--

"Spurning the power of age, enthroned in might,

Thou dwell'st mid heaven's broad light;

This was in ages past thy firm decree,

Is now, and shall forever be:

That none of mortal race on earth shall know

A life of joy serene, a course unmarked by woe."

"Antigone," pp. 606-614. 175

Footnote 172: (return) Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 213, 214.
Footnote 173: (return) "Intellectual Syst.," vol. i. p. 483.
Footnote 174: (return) "There is, in truth, one only God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, air, and winds," etc.
Footnote 175: (return) "Theology of Greek Poets," p. 322.

Whether we regard the poets as the principal theological teachers of the ancient Greeks, or as the compilers, systematizers, and artistic embellishers of the theological traditions and myths which were afloat in the primitive Hellenic families, we can not resist the conclusion that, for the masses of the people Zeus was the Supreme God, "the God of gods" as Plato calls 148 him. Whilst all other deities in Greece are more or less local and tribal gods, Zeus was known in every village and to every clan. "He is at home on Ida, 176 on Olympus, at Dodona. 177 While Poseidon drew to himself the Æolian family, Apollo the Dorian, Athene the Ionian, there was one powerful God for all the sons of Hellen--Dorians, Æolians, Ionians, Achæans, viz., the Panhellenic Zeus." 178 Zeus was the name invoked in their solemn nuncupations of vows--

"O Zeus, father, O Zeus, king."

In moments of deepest sorrow, of immediate urgency and need, of greatest stress and danger, they had recourse to Zeus.

"Courage, courage, my child!

There is still in heaven the great Zeus;

He watches over all things, and he rules.

Commit thy exceeding bitter griefs to him,

And be not angry against thine enemies,

Nor forget them." 179

Footnote 176: (return) "Iliad," bk. iii. 324.
Footnote 177: (return) Bk. xvi. 268.
Footnote 178: (return) Müller, p. 452.
Footnote 179: (return) Sophocles, "Electra," v. 188.

He was supplicated, as the God who reigns on high, in the prayer of the Athenian--

"Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on the land of the Athenians and on their fields."

It has been urged that, as Zeus means the sky, therefore he is no more than the deep concave of heaven personified and deified, and that consequently Zeus is not the true, the only God. This argument is only equalled in feebleness by that of the materialist, who argues that "spiritus" means simply breath, therefore the breath is the soul. Even if the Greeks remembered that, originally, Zeus meant the sky, that would have no more perplexed their minds than the remembrance that "thymos"--mind--meant originally blast. "The fathers of Greek theology gave to that Supreme Intelligence, which they instinctively recognized as above and ruling over the universe, the name of Zeus; but in doing so, they knew well that by Zeus they meant more than the sky. The unfathomable depth, the everlasting 149 calm of the ethereal sky was to their minds an image of that Infinite Presence which overshadows all, and looks down on all. As the question perpetually recurred to their minds, 'Where is he who abideth forever?' they lifted up their eyes, and saw, as they thought, beyond sun, and moon, and stars, and all which changes, and will change, the clear blue sky, the boundless firmament of heaven. That never changed, that was always the same. The clouds and storms rolled far below it, and all the bustle of this noisy world; but there the sky was still, as bright and calm as ever. The Almighty Father must be there, unchangeable in the unchangeable heaven; bright, and pure, and boundless like the heavens, and like the heavens, too, afar off." 180 So they named him after the sky, Zeus, the God who lives in the clear heaven--the heavenly Father.

Footnote 180: (return) Kingsley, "Good News from God," p. 237, Am. ed.

The high and brilliant sky has, in many languages and many religions, been regarded as the dwelling-place of God. Indeed, to all of us in Christian times "God is above;" he is "the God of heaven;" "his throne is in the heavens;" "he reigns on high." Now, without doing any violence to thought, the name of the abode might be transferred to him who dwells in heaven. So that in our own language "heaven" may still be used as a synonym for "God." The prodigal son is still represented as saying, I have sinned against "heaven." And a Christian poet has taught us to sing--

"High heaven, that heard my solemn vow,

That vow renewed shall daily hear," etc.

Whenever, therefore, we find the name of heaven thus used to designate also the Deity, we must bear in mind that those by whom it was originally employed were simply transferring that name from an object visible to the eye of sense to another object perceived by the eye of reason. They who at first called God "Heaven" had some conception within them they wished to name--the growing image of a God, and they fixed upon the vastest, grandest, purest object in nature, the deep blue concave of heaven, overshadowing all, and embracing all, as the 150 symbol of the Deity. Those who at a later period called heaven "God" had forgotten that they were predicating of heaven something more which was vastly higher than the heaven. 181

Footnote 181: (return) See "Science of Language," p. 457.

Notwithstanding, then, that the instinctive, native faith of humanity in the existence of one supreme God was overlaid and almost buried beneath the rank and luxuriant vegetation of Grecian mythology, we can still catch glimpses here and there of the solid trunk of native faith, around which this parasitic growth of fancy is entwined. Above all the phantasmata of gods and goddesses who descended to the plains of Troy, and mingled in the din and strife of battle, we can recognize an overshadowing, all-embracing Power and Providence that dwells on high, which never descends into the battle-field, and is never seen by mortal eyes--the Universal King and Father,--the "God of gods."

Besides the direct evidence, which is furnished by the poets and mythologists, of the presence of this universal faith in "the heavenly Father," there is also a large amount of collateral testimony that this idea of one Supreme God was generally entertained by the Greek pagans, whether learned or unlearned. 182 Dio Chrysostomus says that "all the poets call the first and greatest God the Father, universally, of all rational kind, as also the King thereof. Agreeably with which doctrine of the poets do mankind erect altars to Jupiter-King (Διὸς ßασιλέως) and hesitate not to call him Father in their devotions" (Orat. xxxvi.). And Maximus Tyrius declares that both the learned and the unlearned throughout the pagan world universally agree in this; that there is one Supreme God, the Father of gods and men. "If," says he, "there were a meeting called of all the several trades and professions,... and all were required to declare their sense concerning God, do you think that the painter would say one thing, the sculptor another, the poet another, and the philosopher another? No; nor the Scythian neither, nor the Greek, nor the hyperborean. In regard 151 to other things, we find men speaking discordantly one to another, all men, as it were, differing from all men... Nevertheless, on this subject, you may find universally throughout the world one agreeing law and opinion; that there is one God, the King and Father of all, and many gods, the sons of God, co-reigners together with God"(Diss. i. p. 450).

Footnote 182: (return) Cudworth, vol. i. pp. 593, 594.

From the poets we now pass to the philosophers. The former we have regarded as reflecting the traditional beliefs of the unreasoning multitude. The philosophers unquestionably represent the reflective spirit, the speculative thought, of the educated classes of Greek society. Turning to the writings of the philosophers, we may therefore reasonably expect that, instead of the dim, undefined, and nebulous form in which the religious sentiment revealed itself amongst the unreflecting portions of the Greek populations, we shall find their theological ideas distinctly and articulately expressed, and that we shall consequently be able to determine their religious opinions with considerable accuracy.

Now that Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all believers in the existence of one supreme, uncreated, eternal God, has been, we think, clearly shown by Cudworth. 183

Footnote 183: (return) Vol. i. pp. 491-554.

In subsequent chapters on "the Philosophers of Athens," we shall enter more fully into the discussion of this question. Meantime we assume that, with few exceptions, the Greek philosophers were "genuine Theists."

The point, however, with which we are now concerned is, that whilst they believed in one supreme, uncreated, eternal God, they at the same time recognized the existence of a plurality of generated deities who owe their existence to the power and will of the Supreme God, and who, as the agents and ministers of His universal providence, preside over different departments of the created universe. They are at once Monotheists and Polytheists--believers in "one God" and "many gods." This is a peculiarity, 152 an anomaly which challenges our attention, and demands an explanation, if we would vindicate for these philosophers a rational Theism.

Now that there can be but one infinite and absolutely perfect Being--one supreme, uncreated, eternal God--is self-evident; therefore a multiplicity of such gods is a contradiction and an impossibility. The early philosophers knew this as well as the modern. The Deity, in order to be Deity, must be one and not many: must be perfect or nothing. If, therefore, we would do justice to these old Greeks, we must inquire what explanations they have offered in regard to "the many gods" of which they speak. We must ascertain whether they regarded these "gods" as created or uncreated beings, dependent or independent, temporal or eternal We must inquire in what sense the term "god" is applied to these lesser divinities,--whether it is not applied in an accommodated and therefore allowable sense, as in the sacred Scriptures it is applied to kings and magistrates, and those who are appointed by God as the teachers and rulers of men. "They are called gods to whom the word of God came." 184 And if it shall be found that all the gods of which they speak, save one, are "generated deities"--dependent beings--creatures and subjects of the one eternal King and Father, and that the name of "god" is applied to them in an accommodated sense, then we have vindicated for the old Greek philosophers a consistent and rational Theism. In what relation, then, do the philosophers place "the gods" to the one Supreme Being?

Thales, one of the most ancient of the Greek philosophers, taught the existence of a plurality of gods, as is evident from that saying of his, preserved by Diogenes Laertius, "The world has life, and is full of gods." 185 At the same time he asserts his belief in one supreme, uncreated Deity; "God is the oldest of all things, because he is unmade, or ungenerated." 186 All the 153 other gods must therefore have been "generated deities," since there is but one unmade God, one only that had "no beginning." 187

Footnote 184: (return) See John x. 35.
Footnote 185: (return) "Lives," bk. i.; see also Aristotle's "De Anima," bk. i. ch. viii. πάντα θιῶν πληρη.
Footnote 186: (return) "Lives," bk. i.
Footnote 187: (return) "Lives," bk. i.

Xenophanes was also an assertor of many gods, and one God; but his one God is unquestionably supreme. "There is one God, the greatest amongst gods and men;" or, "God is one, the greatest amongst gods and men." 188

Empedocles also believed in one Supreme God, who "is wholly and perfectly mind, ineffable, holy, with rapid and swift-glancing thought pervading the whole world," and from whom all things else are derived,--"all things that are upon the earth, and in the air and water, may be truly called the works of God, who ruleth over the world, out of whom, according to Empedocles, proceed all things, plants, men, beasts, and gods." 189 The minor deities are therefore made by God. It will not be denied that Socrates was a devout and earnest Theist. He taught that "there is a Being whose eye pierces throughout all nature, and whose ear is open to every sound; extending through all time, extended to all places; and whose bounty and care can know no other bounds than those fixed by his own creation." 190 And yet he also recognized the existence of a plurality of gods, and in his last moments expressed his belief that "it is lawful and right to pray to the gods that his departure hence may be happy." 191 We see, however, in his words addressed to Euthydemus, a marked distinction between these subordinate deities and "Him who raised this whole universe, and still upholds the mighty frame, who perfected every part of it in beauty and in goodness, suffering none of these parts to decay through age, but renewing them daily with unfading vigor;... even he, the Supreme God, still holds himself invisible, and it is only in his works that we are capable of admiring him." 192

Footnote 188: (return) Clem. Alex., "Stromat." bk. v.
Footnote 189: (return) Aristotle, "De Mundo," ch. vi.
Footnote 190: (return) Xenophon's "Memorabilia," i. 4.
Footnote 191: (return) "Phædo," § 152.
Footnote 192: (return) "Memorabilia," iv. 3.

It were needless to attempt the proof that Plato believed in one Supreme God, and only one. This one Being is, with him, 154 "the first God;" "the greatest of the gods;" "the God over all;" "the sole Principle of the universe." He is "the Immutable;" "the All-perfect;" "the eternal Being." He is "the Architect of the world; "the Maker of the universe; the Father of gods and men; the sovereign Mind which orders all things, and passes through all things; the sole Monarch and Ruler of the world. 193

And yet remarkable as these expressions are, sounding, as they do, so like the language of inspiration, 194 there can be no doubt that Plato was also a sincere believer in a plurality of gods, of which, indeed, any one may assure himself by reading the tenth book of "the Laws."

Footnote 193: (return) See chap. xi.
Footnote 194: (return) Some writers have supposed that Plato must have had access through some medium to "the Oracles of God." See Butler, vol. ii. p. 41.

And, now that we have in Plato the culmination of Grecian speculative thought, we may learn from him the mature and final judgment of the ancients in regard to the gods of pagan mythology. We open the Timæus, and here we find his views most definitely expressed. After giving an account of the "generation" of the sun, and moon, and planets, which are by him designated as "visible gods," he then proceeds "to speak concerning the other divinities:" "We must on this subject assent to those who in former times have spoken thereon; who were, as they said, the offspring of the gods, and who doubtless were well acquainted with their own ancestors..... Let then the genealogy of the gods be, and be acknowledged to be, that which they deliver. Of Earth and Heaven the children were Oceanus and Tethys; and of these the children were Phorcys, and Kronos, and Rhea, and all that followed these; and from these were born Zeus and Hera, and those who are regarded as brothers and sisters of these, and others their offspring. 155 "When, then, all the gods were brought into existence, both those which move around in manifest courses [the stars and planets], and those which appear when it pleases them [the mythological deities], the Creator of the Universe thus addressed them:

'Gods, and sons of gods, of whom I am the father and the author, produced by me, ye are indestructible because I will.... Now inasmuch as you have been generated, you are hence not immortal, nor wholly indissoluble; yet you shall never be dissolved nor become subject to the fatality of death, because so I have willed.... Learn, therefore, my commands. Three races of mortals yet remain to be created. Unless these be created, the universe will be imperfect, for it will not contain within it every kind of animal.... In order that these mortal creatures may be, and that this world may be really a cosmos, do you apply yourselves to the creation of animals, imitating the exercises of my power in creating you.'" 195

Footnote 195: (return) "Timæus," ch. xv.

Here, then, we see that Plato carefully distinguishes between the sole Eternal Author of the universe, on one hand, and the "souls," vital and intelligent, which he attaches to the heavenly orbs, and diffuses through all nature, on the other. These subordinate powers or agents are all created, "generated deities," who owe their continued existence to the will of God; and though intrusted with a sort of deputed creation, and a subsequent direction and government of created things, they are still only the servants and the deputies of the Supreme Creator, and Director, and Ruler of all things. These subordinate agents and ministers employed in the creation and providential government of the world appear, in the estimation of Plato, to have been needed--

1. To satisfy the demands of the popular faith, which presented its facts to be explained no less than those of external nature. Plato had evidently a great veneration for antiquity, a peculiar regard for "tradition venerable through ancient report," and "doctrines hoary with years." 196 He aspired after supernatural light and guidance; he longed for some intercourse with, some communication from, the Deity. And whilst he found many things in the ancient legends which revolted his moral sense, and which his reason rejected, yet the sentiment and the lesson which pervades the whole of Grecian mythology, viz., that the 156 gods are in ceaseless intercourse with the human race, and if men will do right the gods will protect and help them, was one which commended itself to his heart.

Footnote 196: (return) Ibid., ch. v.

2. These intermediate agents seem to have been demanded to satisfy the disposition and tendency which has revealed itself in all systems, of interposing some scale of ascent between the material creation and the infinite Creator.

The mechanical theory of the universe has interposed its long series of secondary causes--the qualities, properties, laws, forces of nature; the vital theory which attaches a separate "soul" to the various parts of nature as the cause and intelligent director of its movements. Of these "souls" or gods, there were different orders and degrees--deified men or heroes, aërial, terrestrial, and celestial divinities, ascending from nature up to God. And this tendency to supply some scale of ascent towards the Deity, or at least to people the vast territory which seems to swell between the world and God, finds some countenance in "the angels and archangels," "the thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers" of the Christian scriptures. 197

3. These inferior ministers also seemed to Plato to increase the stately grandeur and imperial majesty of the Divine government. They swell the retinue of the Deity in his grand "circuit through the highest arch of heaven." 198 They wait to execute the Divine commands. They are the agents of Divine providence, "the messengers of God" to men.

Footnote 197: (return) "The gods of the Platonic system answer, in office and conception, to the angels of Christian Theology."--Butler, vol. i. p. 225.
Footnote 198: (return) "Phædrus," § 56,7.

4. And, finally, the host of inferior deities interposed between the material sensible world and God seemed to Plato as needful in order to explain the apparent defects and disorders of sublunary affairs. Plato was jealous of the Divine honor. "All good must be ascribed to God, and nothing but good. We must find evil, disorder, suffering, in some other cause." 199 He therefore commits to the junior deities the task of creating 157 animals, and of forming "the mortal part of man," because the mortal part is "possessed of certain dire and necessary passions." 200

Footnote 199: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. p.18.
Footnote 200: (return) "Timæus," xliv.

Aristotle seems to have regarded the popular polytheism of Greece as a perverted relic of a deeper and purer "Theology" which he conceives to have been, in all probability, perfected in the distant past, and then comparatively lost. He says-- "The tradition has come down from very ancient times, being left in a mythical garb to succeeding generations, that these (the heavenly bodies) are gods, and that the Divinity encompasses the whole of nature. There have been made, however, to these certain fabulous additions for the purpose of winning the belief of the multitude, and thus securing their obedience to the laws, and their co-operation towards advancing the general welfare of the state. These additions have been to the effect that these gods were of the same form as men, and even that some of them were in appearance similar to certain others amongst the rest of the animal creation. The wise course, however, would be for the philosopher to disengage from these traditions the false element, and to embrace that which is true; and the truth lies in that portion of this ancient doctrine which regards the first and deepest ground of all existence to be the Divine, and this he may regard as a divine utterance. In all probability, every art, and science, and philosophy has been over and over again discovered to the farthest extent possible, and then again lost; and we may conceive these opinions to have been preserved to us as a sort of fragment of these lost philosophers. We see, then, to some extent the relation of the popular belief to these ancient opinions." 201 This conception of a deep Divine ground of all existence (for the immateriality and unity of which he elsewhere earnestly contends) 202 is thus regarded by Aristotle as underlying the popular polytheism of Greece.

Footnote 201: (return) "Metaph.," xi. 8.
Footnote 202: (return) Bk. xi. ch. ii. § 4.

The views of the educated and philosophic mind of Greece in regard to the mythological deities may, in conclusion, be thus briefly stated--


I. They are all created beings--"GENERATED DEITIES," who are dependent on, and subject to, the will of one supreme God.

II. They are the AGENTS employed by God in the creation of, at least some parts of, the universe, and in the movement and direction of the entire cosmos; and they are also the MINISTERS and MESSENGERS of that universal providence which he exercises over the human race.

These subordinate deities are, 1. the greater parts of the visible mundane system animated by intelligent souls, and called "sensible gods"--the sun, the moon, the stars, and even the earth itself, and known by the names Helios, Selena, Kronos, Hermes, etc.

2. Some are invisible powers, having peculiar offices and functions and presiding over special places provinces and departments of the universe;--one ruling in the heavens (Zeus), another in the air (Juno), another in the sea (Neptune), another in the subterranean regions (Pluto); one god presiding over learning and wisdom (Minerva), another over poetry, music, and religion (Apollo), another over justice and political order (Themis), another over war (Mars), another over corn (Ceres), and another the vine (Bacchus).

3. Others, again, are ethereal and aërial beings, who have the guardianship of individual persons and things, and are called demons, genii, and lares; superior indeed to men, but inferior to the gods above named.

"Wherefore, since there were no other gods among the Pagans besides those above enumerated, unless their images, statues, and symbols should be accounted such (because they were also sometimes abusively called 'gods'), which could not be supposed by them to have been unmade or without beginning, they being the workmanship of their own hands, we conclude, universally, that all that multiplicity of Pagan gods which make so great a show and noise was really either nothing but several names and notions of one supreme Deity, according to his different manifestations, gifts, and effects upon the world personated, or else many inferior understanding beings, 159 generated or created by one supreme: so that one unmade, self-existent Deity, and no more, was acknowledged by the more intelligent Pagans, and, consequently, the Pagan Polytheism (or idolatry) consisted not in worshipping a multiplicity of unmade minds, deities, and creators, self-existent from eternity, and independent upon one Supreme, but in mingling and blending some way or other, unduly, creature-worship with the worship of the Creator." 203

Footnote 203: (return) Cudworth, "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 311.

That the heathen regard the one Supreme Being as the first and chief object of worship is evident from the apologies which they offered for worshipping, besides Him, many inferior divinities.

1. They claimed to worship them only as inferior beings, and that therefore they were not guilty of giving them that honor which belonged to the Supreme. They claimed to worship the supreme God incomparably above all. 2. That this honor which is bestowed upon the inferior divinities does ultimately redound to the supreme God, and aggrandize his state and majesty, they being all his ministers and attendants. 3. That as demons are mediators between the celestial gods and men, so those celestial gods are also mediators between men and the supreme God, and, as it were, convenient steps by which we ought with reverence to approach him. 4. That demons or angels being appointed to preside over kingdoms, cities, and persons, and being many ways benefactors to us, thanks ought to be returned to them by sacrifice. 5. Lastly, that it can not be thought that the Supreme Being will envy those inferior beings that worship or honor which is bestowed upon them; nor suspect that any of these inferior deities will factiously go about to set up themselves against the Supreme God.

The Pagans, furthermore, apologized for worshipping God in images, statues, and symbols, on the ground that these were only schetically worshipped by them, the honor passing from them to the prototype. And since we live in bodies, and can 160 scarcely, conceive of any thing without having some image or phantasm, we may therefore be indulged in this infirmity of human nature (at least in the vulgar) to worship God under a corporeal image, as a means of preventing men from falling into Atheism.

To the Christian conscience the above reasons assigned furnish no real justification of Polytheism and Idolatry; but they are certainly a tacit confession of their belief in the one Supreme God, and their conviction that, notwithstanding their idolatry, He only ought to be worshipped. The heathen polytheists are therefore justly condemned in Scripture, and pronounced to be "inexcusable." They had the knowledge of the true God--" they knew God" and yet "they glorified him not as God." "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of corruptible man." And, finally, they ended in "worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator." 204

Footnote 204: (return) Romans i. 21, 25.

It can not, then, with justice be denied that the Athenians had some knowledge of the true God, and some just and worthy conceptions of his character. It is equally certain that a powerful and influential religious sentiment pervaded the Athenian mind. Their extreme "carefulness in religion" must be conceded by us, and, in some sense, commended by us, as it was by Paul in his address on Mars' Hill. At the same time it must also be admitted and deplored that the purer theology of primitive times was corrupted by offensive legends, and encrusted by polluting myths, though not utterly defaced. 205 The Homeric gods were for the most part idealized, human personalities, with all the passions and weaknesses of humanity. They had their favorites and their enemies; sometimes they fought in one camp, sometimes in another. They were susceptible of hatred, jealousy, sensual passion. It would be strange indeed if their worshippers were not like unto them. The 161 conduct of the Homeric heroes was, however, better than their creed. And there is this strange incongruity and inconsistency in the conduct of the Homeric gods,--they punish mortals for crimes of which they themselves are guilty, and reward virtues in men which they do not themselves always practise. "They punish with especial severity social and political crimes, such as perjury (Iliad, iii. 279), oppression of the poor (Od. xvii. 475), and unjust judgment in courts of justice (Iliad, xvi. 386)." Jupiter is the god of justice, and of the domestic hearth; he is the protector of the exile, the avenger of the poor, and the vigilant guardian of hospitality. "And with all the imperfections of society, government, and religion, the poem presents a remarkable picture of primitive simplicity, chastity, justice, and practical piety, under the three-fold influence of moral feeling, mutual respect, and fear of the divine displeasure; such, at least, are the motives to which Telemachus makes his appeal when he endeavors to rouse the assembled people of Ithaca to the performance of their duty (Od. ii. 64)." 206

Footnote 205: (return) "There was always a double current of religious ideas in Greece; one spiritualist, the other tainted with impure legends."--Pressensé.
Footnote 206: (return) : Tyler, "Theology of Greek Poets," pp. 167, 168; Pressensé, "Religion before Christ," p. 77.

The influence of the religious dramas of Æschylus and Sophocles on the Athenian mind must not be overlooked. No writer of pagan antiquity made the voice of conscience speak with the same power and authority that Æschylus did. "Crime," he says, "never dies without posterity." "Blood that has been shed congeals on the ground, crying out for an avenger." The old poet made himself the echo of what he called "the lyreless hymn of the Furies," who, with him, represented severe Justice striking the guilty when his hour comes, and giving warning beforehand by the terrors which haunt him. His dramas are characterized by deep religious feeling. Reverence for the gods, the recognition of an inflexible moral order, resignation to the decisions of Heaven, an abiding presentiment of a future state of reward and punishment, are strikingly predominant.

Whilst Æschylus reveals to us the sombre, terror-stricken 162 side of conscience, Sophocles shows us the divine and luminous side. No one has ever spoken with nobler eloquence than he of moral obligation--of this immortal, inflexible law, in which dwells a God that never grows old--

"Oh be the lot forever mine

Unsullied to maintain,

In act and word, with awe divine,

What potent laws ordain.

"Laws spring from purer realms above:

Their father is the Olympian Jove.

Ne'er shall oblivion veil their front sublime,

Th' indwelling god is great, nor fears the wastes of time." 207

The religious inspiration that animates Sophocles breaks out with incomparable beauty in the last words of Œdipus, when the old banished king sees through the darkness of death a mysterious light dawn, which illumines his blind eyes, and which brings to him the assurance of a blessed immortality. 208

Footnote 207: (return) "Œdipus Tyran.," pp. 863-872.
Footnote 208: (return) Pressensé, "Religion before Christ," pp. 85-87.

Such a theology could not have been utterly powerless. The influence of truth, in every measure and degree, must be salutary, and especially of truth in relation to God, to duty, and to immortality. The religion of the Athenians must have had some wholesome and conserving influence of the social and political life of Athens. 209 Those who resign the government of 163 this lower world almost exclusively to Satan, may see, in the religion of the Greeks, a simple creation of Satanic powers. But he who believes that the entire progress of humanity has been under the control and direction of a benignant Providence, must suppose that, in the purposes of God, even Ethnicism has fulfilled some end, or it would not have been permitted to live. God has "never left himself without a witness" in any nation under heaven. And some preparatory office has been fulfilled by Heathenism which, at least, repealed the want, and prepared the mind for, the advent of Christianity.

Footnote 209: (return) The practice, so common with some theological writers, of drawing dark pictures of heathenism, in which not one luminous spot is visible, in order to exalt the revelations given to the Jews, is exceedingly unfortunate, and highly reprehensible. It is unfortunate, because the skeptical scholar knows that there were some elements of truth and excellence, and even of grandeur, in the religion and civilization of the republics of Greece and Rome; and it is reprehensible, because it is a one-sided and unjust procedure, in so far as it withholds part of the truth. This species of argument is a two-edged sword which cuts both ways. The prevalence of murder, and slavery, and treachery, and polygamy, in Greece and Rome, is no more a proof that "the religions of the pagan nations were destructive of morality" (Watson, vol. i. p. 59), than the polygamy of the Hebrews, the falsehoods and impositions of Mediaeval Christianity, the persecutions and martyrdoms of Catholic Christianity, the oppressions and wrongs of Christian England, and the slavery of Protestant America, are proofs that the Christian religion is "destructive of morality." What a fearful picture of the history of Christian nations might be drawn to-day, if all the lines of light, and goodness, and charity were left out, and the crimes, and wrongs, and cruelties of the Christian nations were alone exhibited!

How much more convincing a proof of the truth of Christianity to find in the religions of the ancient world a latent sympathy with, and an unconscious preparation for, the religion of Christ. "The history of religions of human origin is the most striking evidence of the agreement of revealed religion with the soul of man--for each of these forms of worship is the expression of the wants of conscience, its eternal thirst for pardon and restoration--rather let us say, its thirst for God."--Pressensé, p. 6.

The religion of the Athenians was unable to deliver them from the guilt of sin, redeem them from its power, and make them pure and holy. It gave the Athenian no victory over himself, and, practically, brought him no nearer to the living God. But it awakened and educated the conscience, it developed more fully the sense of sin and guilt, and it made man conscious of his inability to save himself from sin and guilt; and "the day that humanity awakens to the want of something more than mere embellishment and culture, that day it feels the need of being saved and restored from the consequences of sin" by a higher power. Æsthetic taste had found its fullest gratification in Athens; poetry, sculpture, architecture, had been carried to the highest perfection; a noble civilization had been reached; but "the need of something deeper and truer was written on the very stones." The highest consummation of Paganism was an altar to "the unknown God," the knowledge of whom it needed, as the source of purity and peace.

The strength and the weakness of Grecian mythology 164 consisted in the contradictory character of its divinities. It was a strange blending of the natural and the supernatural, the human and the divine. Zeus, the eternal Father,--the immortal King, whose will is sovereign, and whose power is invincible,--the All-seeing Jove, has some of the weaknesses and passions of humanity. God and man are thus, in some mysterious way, united. And here that deepest longing of the human heart is met--the unconquerable desire to bring God nearer to the human apprehension, and closer to the human heart. Hence the hold which Polytheism had upon the Grecian mind. But in this human aspect was also found its weakness, for when philosophic thought is brought into contact with, and permitted critically to test mythology, it dethrones the false gods. The age of spontaneous religious sentiment must necessarily be succeeded by the age of reflective thought. Popular theological faiths must be placed in the hot crucible of dialectic analysis, that the false and the frivolous may be separated from the pure and the true. The reason of man demands to be satisfied, as well as the heart. Faith in God must have a logical basis, it must be grounded on demonstration and proof. Or, at any rate, the question must be answered, whether God is cognizable by human reason? If this can be achieved, then a deeper foundation is laid in the mind of humanity, upon which Christianity can rear its higher and nobler truths.




"As I passed by, and beheld your sacred objects, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God."--ST. PAUL.

"That which can be known of God is manifested in their hearts, God himself having shown it to them" [the heathen nations].--ST. PAUL.

Having now reached our first landing-place, from whence we may survey the fields that we have traversed, it may be well to set down in definite propositions the results we have attained. We may then carry them forward, as torches, to illuminate the path of future and still profounder inquiries.

The principles we have assumed as the only adequate and legitimate interpretation of the facts of religious history, and which an extended study of the most fully-developed religious system of the ancient world confirms, may be thus announced:

I. A religious nature and destination appertain to man, so that the purposes of his existence and the perfection of his being can only be secured in and through religion.

II. The idea of God as the unconditioned Cause, the infinite Mind, the personal Lord and Lawgiver, and the consciousness of dependence upon and obligation to God, are the fundamental principles of all religion.

III. Inasmuch as man is a religious being, the instincts and emotions of his nature constraining him to worship, there must also be implanted in his rational nature some original à priori ideas or laws of thought which furnish the necessary cognition of the object of worship; that is, some native, spontaneous cognition of God.

A mere blind impulse would not be adequate to guide man to the true end and perfection of his being without rational ideas; a tendency or appetency, without a revealed object, 166 would be the mockery and misery of his nature--an "ignis fatuus" perpetually alluring and forever deceiving man.

That man has a native, spontaneous apperception of a God, in the true import of that sacred name, has been denied by men of totally opposite schools and tendencies of thought--by the Idealist and the Materialist; by the Theologian and the Atheist. Though differing essentially in their general principles and method, they are agreed in asserting that God is absolutely "the unknown;" and that, so far as reason and logic are concerned, man can not attain to any knowledge of the first principles and causes of the universe, and, consequently, can not determine whether the first principle or principles be intelligent or unintelligent, personal or impersonal, finite or infinite, one or many righteous or non-righteous, evil or good.

The various opponents of the doctrine that God can be cognized by human reason may be classified as follows: I. Those who assert that all human knowledge is necessarily confined to the observation and classification of phenomena in their orders of co-existence, succession, and resemblance. Man has no faculty for cognizing substances, causes, forces, reasons, first principles--no power by which he can know God. This class may be again subdivided into--

1. Those who limit all knowledge to the observation and classification of mental phenomena (e. g., Idealists like J. S. Mill).

2. Those who limit all knowledge to the observation and classification of material phenomena (e. g., Materialists like Comte).

II. The second class comprises all who admit that philosophic knowledge is the knowledge of effects as dependent on causes, and of qualities as inherent in substances; but at the same time assert that "all knowledge is of the phenomenal." Philosophy can never attain to a positive knowledge of the First Cause. Of existence, absolutely and in itself, we know nothing. The infinite 167 can not by us be comprehended, conceived, or thought. Faith is the organ by which we apprehend what is beyond knowledge. We believe in the existence of God, but we can not know God. This class, also, may be again subdivided into--

1. Those who affirm that our idea of the Infinite First Cause is grounded on an intuitional or subjective faith, necessitated by an "impotence of thought"--that is, by a mental inability to conceive an absolute limitation or an infinite illimitation, an absolute commencement or an infinite non-commencement. Both contradictory opposites are equally incomprehensible and inconceivable to us; and yet, though unable to view either as possible, we are forced by a higher law--the "Law of Excluded Middle"--to admit that one, and only one, is necessary (e. g., Hamilton and Mansel).

2. Those who assert that our idea of God rests solely on an historical or objective faith in testimony--the testimony of Scripture, which assures us that, in the course of history, God has manifested his existence in an objective manner to the senses, and given verbal communications of his character and will to men; human reason being utterly incapacitated by the fall, and the consequent depravity of man, to attain any knowledge of the unity, spirituality, and righteousness of God (e. g., Watson, and Dogmatic Theologians generally).

It will thus be manifest that the great question, the central and vital question which demands a thorough and searching consideration, is the following, to wit: Is God cognizable by human reason? Can man attain to a positive cognition of God--can he know God; or is all our supposed knowledge "a learned ignorance," 210 an unreasoning faith? We venture to answer this question in the affirmative. Human reason is now adequate to the cognition of God; it is able, with the fullest confidence, to affirm the being of a God, and, in some degree, to determine his character. The parties and schools above referred to answer this question in the negative form. Whether Theologians 168 or Atheists, they are singularly agreed in denying to human reason all possibility of knowing God.

Footnote 210: (return) Hamilton's "Philosophy," p. 512.

Before entering upon the discussion of the negative positions enumerated in the above classification, it may be important we should state our own position explicitly, and exhibit what we regard as the true doctrine of the genesis of the idea of God in the human intelligence. The real question at issue will then stand out in clear relief, and precision will be given to the entire discussion.

(i.) We hold that the idea of God is a common phenomenon of the universal human intelligence. It is found in all minds where reason has had its normal and healthy development; and no race of men has ever been found utterly destitute of the idea of God. The proof of this position has already been furnished in chap, ii., 211 and needs not be re-stated here. We have simply to remark that the appeal which is made by Locke and others of the sensational school to the experiences of infants, idiots, the deaf and dumb, or, indeed, any cases wherein the proper conditions for the normal development of reason are wanting, are utterly irrelevant to the question. The acorn contains within itself the rudimental germ of the future oak, but its mature and perfect development depends on the exterior conditions of moisture, light, and heat. By these exterior conditions it may be rendered luxuriant in its growth, or it may be stunted in its growth. It may barely exist under one class of conditions; it may be distorted and perverted, or it may perish utterly under another. And so in the idiotic mind the ideas of reason may be wanting, or they may be imprisoned by impervious walls of cerebral malformation. In the infant mind the development of reason is yet in an incipient stage. The idea of God is immanent to the infant thought, but the infant thought is not yet matured. The deaf and dumb are certainly not in that full and normal correlation to the world of sense which is a necessary condition of the development of reason. Language, the great vehiculum and instrument of thought, is wanting, and 169 reason can not develop itself without words. "Words without thought are dead sounds, thoughts without words are nothing. The word is the thought incarnate." 212 Under proper and normal conditions, the idea of God is the natural and necessary form in which human thought must be developed. And, with these explanations, we repeat our affirmation that the idea of God is a common phenomenon of the universal human intelligence.

Footnote 211: (return) Pp. 89,90.
Footnote 212: (return) Müller, " Science of Language," p. 384.

(ii.) We do not hold that the idea of God, in its completeness, is a simple, direct, and immediate intuition of the reason alone, independent of all experience, and all knowledge of the external world. The idea of God is a complex idea, and not a simple idea. The affirmation, "God exists," is a synthetic and primitive judgment spontaneously developed in the mind, and developed, too, independent of all reflective reasoning. It is a necessary deduction from the facts of the outer world of nature and the primary intuitions of the inner world of reason--a logical deduction from the self-evident truths given in sense, consciousness, and reason. "We do not perceive God, but we conceive Him upon the faith of this admirable world exposed to view, and upon the other world, more admirable still, which we bear in ourselves." 213 Therefore we do not say that man is born with an "innate idea" of God, nor with the definite proposition, "there is a God," written upon his soul; but we do say that the mind is pregnant with certain natural principles, and governed, in its development, by certain necessary laws of thought, which determine it, by a spontaneous logic, to affirm the being of a God; and, furthermore, that this judgment may be called innate in the sense, that it is the primitive, universal, and necessary development of the human understanding which "is innate to itself and equal to itself in all men." 214

Footnote 213: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful and Good," p.102.
Footnote 214: (return) Leibnitz.

As the vital and rudimentary germ of the oak is contained in the acorn; as it is quickened and excited to activity by the external conditions of moisture, light, and heat, and is fully de 170 developed under the fixed and determinative laws of vegetable life--so the germs of the idea of God are present in the human mind as the intuitions of pure reason (Rational Psychology); these intuitions are excited to energy by our experiential and historical knowledge of the facts and laws of the universe (Phenomenology); and these facts and intuitions are developed into form by the necessary laws of the intellect (Nomology, or Primordial Logic).

The logical demonstration of the being of God commences with the analysis of thought. It asks, What are the ideas which exist in the human intelligence? What are their actual characteristics, and what their primitive characteristics? What is their origin, and what their validity? Having, by this process, found that some of our ideas are subjective, and some objective that some are derived from experience, and that some can not be derived from experience, but are inherent in the very constitution of the mind itself, as à priori ideas of reason; that these are characterized as self-evident, universal, and necessary and that, as laws of thought, they govern the mind in all its conceptions of the universe; it has formulated these necessary judgments, and presented them as distinct and articulate propositions. These à priori, necessary judgments constitute the major premise of the Theistic syllogism, and, in view of the facts of the universe, necessitate the affirmation of the existence of a God as the only valid explanation of the facts.

The natural or chronological order in which the idea of God is developed in the human intelligence, is the reverse process of the scientific or logical order, in which the demonstration of the being of God is presented by philosophy; the latter is reflective and analytic, the former is spontaneous and synthetic. The natural order commences with the knowledge of the facts of the universe, material and mental, as revealed by sensation and experience. In presence of these facts of the universe, the à priori ideas of power, cause, reason, and end are evoked into consciousness with greater or less distinctness; and the judgment, by a natural and spontaneous logic, free from all 171 reflection, and consequently from all possibility of error, affirms a necessary relation between the facts of experience and the à priori ideas of the reason. The result of this involuntary and almost unconscious process of thought is that natural cognition of a God found, with greater or less clearness and definiteness, in all rational minds. The à posteriori, or empirical knowledge of the phenomena of the universe, in their relations to time and space, constitute the minor premise of the Theistic syllogism.

The Theistic argument is, therefore, necessarily composed of both experiential and à priori elements. An à posteriori element exists as a condition of the logical demonstration The rational à priori element is, however, the logical basis, the only valid foundation of the Theistic demonstration. The facts of the universe alone would never lead man to the recognition of a God, if the reason, in presence of these facts, did not enounce certain necessary and universal principles which are the logical antecedents, and adequate explanation of the facts. Of what use would it be to point to the events and changes of the material universe as proofs of the existence of a First Cause, unless we take account of the universal and necessary truth that "every change must have an efficient cause;" that all phenomena are an indication of power; and that "there is an ultimate and sufficient reason why all things exist, and are as they are, and not otherwise." There would be no logical force in enumerating the facts of order and special adaptation which literally crowd the universe, as proofs of the existence of an Intelligent Creator, if the mind did not affirm the necessary principle that "facts of order, having a commencement in time, suppose mind as their source and exponent." There is no logical conclusiveness in the assertion of Paley, "that experience teaches us that a designer must be a person," because, as Hume justly remarks, our "experience" is narrowed down to a mere point, "and can not be a rule for a universe;" but there is an infinitude of force in that dictum of reason, that "intelligence, self-consciousness, and self-determination necessarily 172 constitute personality." A multiplicity of different effects, of which experience does not always reveal the connection, would not conduct to a single cause and to one God, but rather to a plurality of causes and a plurality of gods, did not reason teach us that "all plurality implies an ultimate indivisible unity," and therefore there must be a First Cause of all causes, a First Principle of all principles, the Substance of all substances, the Being of all beings--a God "of whom, in whom, and to whom are all things" (πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν τῷ θεῷ, εἰς τὸν θεόν).

The conclusion, therefore, is, that, as the idea of God is a complex idea, so there are necessarily a number of simple à priori principles, and a variety of experiential facts conspiring to its development in the human intelligence.

(iii.) The universe presents to the human mind an aggregation and history of phenomena which demands the idea of a God--a self-existent, intelligent, personal, righteous First Cause--as its adequate explanation.

The attempt of Positivism to confine all human knowledge to the observation and classification of phenomena, and arrest and foreclose all inquiry as to causes, efficient, final, and ultimate, is simply futile and absurd. It were just as easy to arrest the course of the sun in mid-heaven as to prevent the human mind from seeking to pass beyond phenomena, and ascertain the ground, and reason, and cause of all phenomena. The history of speculative thought clearly attests that, in all ages, the inquiry after the Ultimate Cause and Reason of all existence--the ἀρχή, or First Principle of all things--has been the inevitable and necessary tendency of the human mind; to resist which, skepticism and positivism have been utterly impotent. The first philosophers, of the Ionian school, had just as strong a faith in the existence of a Supreme Reality--an Ultimate Cause--as Leibnitz and Cousin. But when, by reflective thought, they attempted to render an account to themselves of this instinctive faith, they imagined that its object must be in some way appreciable to sense, and they sought it in some physical element, or under some visible and tangible shrine. Still, however 173 imperfect and inadequate the method, and however unsatisfactory the results, humanity has never lost its positive and ineradicable confidence that the problem of existence could be solved. The resistless tide of spontaneous and necessary thought has always borne the race onward towards the recognition of a great First Cause; and though philosophy may have erred, again and again, in tracing the logical order of this inevitable thought, and exhibiting the necessary nexus between the premises and conclusion, yet the human mind has never wavered in the confidence which it has reposed in the natural logic of thought, and man has never ceased to believe in a God.

We readily grant that all our empirical knowledge is confined to phenomena in their orders of co-existence, succession, and resemblance. "To our objective perception and comparison nothing is given but qualities and changes; to our inductive generalization nothing but the shifting and grouping of these in time and space." Were it, however, our immediate concern to discuss the question, we could easily show that sensationalism has never succeeded in tracing the genetic origin of our ideas of space and time to observation and experience; and, without the à priori idea of space, as the place of bodies, and of time, as the condition of succession, we can not conceive of phenomena at all. If, therefore, we know any thing beyond phenomena and their mutual relations; if we have any cognition of realities underlying phenomena, and of the relations of phenomena to their objective ground, it must be given by some faculty distinct from sense-perception, and in some process distinct from inductive generalization. The knowledge of real Being and real Power, of an ultimate Reason and a personal Will, is derived from the apperception of pure reason, which affirms the necessary existence of a Supreme Reality--an Uncreated Being beyond all phenomena, which is the ground and reason of the existence--the contemporaneousness and succession--the likeness and unlikeness, of all phenomena.

The immediate presentation of phenomena to sensation is the occasion of the development in consciousness of these à 174 priori ideas of reason: the possession of these ideas or the immanence of these ideas, in the human intellect, constitutes the original power to know external phenomena. The ideas of space, time, power, law, reason, and end, are the logical antecedents of the ideas of body, succession, event, consecution, order, and adaptation. The latter can not be conceived as distinct notions without the former. The former will not be revealed in thought without the presentation to sense, of resistance, movement, change, uniformity, etc. All actual knowledge must, therefore, be impure; that is, it must involve both à priori and à posteriori elements; and between these elements there must be a necessary relation.

This necessary relation between the à priori and à posteriori elements of knowledge is not a mere subjective law of thought. It is both a law of thought and a law of things. Between the à posteriori facts of the universe and the à priori ideas of the reason there is an absolute nexus, a universal and necessary correlation; so that the cognition of the latter is possible only on the cognition of the former; and the objective existence of the realities, represented by the ideas of reason, is the condition, sine qua non, of the existence of the phenomena presented to sense. If, in one indivisible act of consciousness, we immediately perceive extended matter exterior to our percipient mind, then Extension exists objectively; and if Extension exists objectively, then Space, its conditio sine qua non, also exists objectively. And if a definite body reveals to us the Space in which it is contained, if a succession of pulsations or movements exhibit the uniform Time beneath, so do the changeful phenomena of the universe demand a living Power behind, and the existing order and regular evolution of the universe presuppose Thought--prevision, and predetermination, by an intelligent mind.

If, then, the universe is a created effect, it must furnish some indications of the character of its cause. If, as Plato taught, the world is a "created image" of the eternal archetypes which dwell in the uncreated Mind, and if the subjective ideas which 175 dwell in the human reason, as the offspring of God, are "copies" of the ideas of the Infinite Reason--if the universe be "the autobiography of the Infinite Spirit which has also repeated itself in miniature within our finite spirit," then may we decipher its symbols, and read its lessons straight off. Then every approach towards a scientific comprehension and generalization of the facts of the universe must carry us upward towards the higher realities of reason. The more we can understand of Nature--of her comprehensive laws, of her archetypal forms, of her far-reaching plan spread through the almost infinite ages, and stretching through illimitable space--the more do we comprehend the divine Thought. The inductive generalization of science gradually ascends towards the universal; the pure, essential, à priori reason, with its universal and necessary ideas, descends from above to meet it. The general conceptions of science are thus a kind of ideœ umbratiles--shadowy assimilations to those immutable ideas which dwell in essential reason, as possessed by the Supreme Intelligence, and which are participated in by rational man as the offspring and image of God.

Without making any pretension to profound scientific accuracy, we offer the following tentative classification of the facts of the universe, material and mental, which may be regarded as hints and adumbrations of the ultimate ground, and reason, and cause, of the universe. We shall venture to classify these facts as indicative of some fundamental relation; (i.) to Permanent Being or Reality; (ii.) to Reason and Thought; (iii.) to Moral Ideas and Ends.

(i.) Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation to Permanent Being or Reality.

1. Qualitative Phenomena (properties, attributes, qualities)--the predicates of a subject; which phenomena, being characterized by likeness and unlikeness, are capable of comparison and classification, and thus of revealing something as to the nature of the subject.

2. Dynamical Phenomena (protension, movement, 176 succession)--events transpiring in time, having beginning, succession, and end, which present themselves to us as the expression of power, and throw back their distinctive characteristics on their dynamic source.

3. Quantitative Phenomena (totality, multiplicity, relative unity)--a multiplicity of objects having relative and composite unity, which suggests some relation to an absolute and indivisible unity.

4. Statical Phenomena (extension, magnitude, divisibility)--bodies co-existing in space which are limited, conditioned, relative, dependent, and indicate some relation to that which is self-existent, unconditioned, and absolute.

(ii.) Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation to Reason or Thought.

1. Numerical and Geometrical Proportion.--Definite proportion of elements (Chemistry), symmetrical arrangement of parts (Crystallography), numerical and geometrical relation of the forms and movements of the heavenly bodies (Spherical Astronomy), all of which are capable of exact mathematical expression.

2. Archetypal Forms.--The uniform succession of new existences, and the progressive evolution of new orders and species, conformable to fixed and definite ideal archetypes, the indication of a comprehensive plan(Morphological Botany, Comparative Anatomy).

3. Teleology of Organs.--The adaptation of organs to the fulfillment of special functions, indicating design(Comparative Physiology).

4. Combination of Homotypes and Analogues.--Diversified homologous forms made to fulfill analogous functions, or special purposes fulfilled whilst maintaining a general plan, indicating choice and alternativity.

(iii.) Facts of the universe which indicate some fundamental relation to Moral Ideas and Ends.


1. Ethical Distinctions.--The universal tendency to discriminate between voluntary acts as right or wrong, indicating some relation to an immutable moral standard of right.

2. Sense of Obligation.--The universal consciousness of dependence and obligation, indicating some relation to Supreme Power, an Absolute Authority.

3. Feeling of Responsibility.--The universal consciousness of liability to be required to give account for, and endure the consequences of our action, indicating some relation to a Supreme Judge.

4. Retributive Issues.--The pleasure and pain resulting from moral action in this life, and the universal anticipation of pleasure or pain in the future, as the consequence of present conduct, indicate an absolute Justice ruling the world and man.

Now, if the universe be a created effect, it must, in some degree at least, reveal the character of its Author and cause. We are entitled to regard it as a created symbol and image of the Deity; it must bear the impress of his power; it must reveal his infinite presence; it must express his thoughts; it must embody and realize his ideals, so far, at least, as material symbols will permit. Just as we see the power and thought of man revealed in his works, his energy and skill, his ideal and his taste expressed in his mechanical, artistic, and literary creations, so we may see the mind and character of God displayed in his works. The skill and contrivance of Watts, and Fulton, and Stephenson were exhibited in their mechanical productions. The pure, the intense, the visionary impersonation of the soul which the artist had conjured in his own imagination was wrought out in Psyché. The colossal grandeur of Michael Angelo's ideals, the ethereal and saintly elegance of Raphael's were realized upon the canvas. So he who is familiar with the ideal of the sculptor or the painter can identify his creations even when the author's name is not affixed. And so the "eternal Power" of God is "clearly seen" in the mighty orbs which float in the 178 illimitable space. The vastness of the universe shadows forth the infinity of God. The indivisible unity of space and the ideal unity of the universe reflect the unity of God. The material forms around us are symbols of divine ideas, and the successive history of the universe is an expression of the divine thought; whilst the ethical ideas and sentiments inherent in the human mind are a reflection of the moral character of God.

The reader can not have failed to observe the form in which the Theistic argument is stated; "if the finite universe is a created effect, it must reveal something as to the nature of its cause: if the existing order and arrangement of the universe had a commencement in time, it must have an ultimate and adequate cause." The question, therefore, presents itself in a definite form: "Is the universe finite or infinite; had the order of the universe a beginning, or is it eternal?"

It will be seen at a glance that this is the central and vital question in the Theistic argument. If the order and arrangement of the universe is eternal, then that order is an inherent law of nature, and, as eternal, does not imply a cause ab extra: if it is not eternal, then the ultimate cause of that order must be a power above and beyond nature. In the former case the minor premise of the Theistic syllogism is utterly invalidated; in the latter case it is abundantly sustained.

Some Theistic writers--as Descartes, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Saisset--have made the fatal admission that the universe is, in some sense, infinite and eternal. In making this admission they have unwittingly surrendered the citadel of strength, and deprived the argument by which they would prove the being of a God of all its logical force. That argument is thus presented by Saisset: "The finite supposes the infinite. Extension supposes first space, then immensity: duration supposes first time, then eternity. A sudden and irresistible judgment refers this to the necessary, infinite, perfect being." 215 But if "the world is infinite and eternal," 216 may not nature, or the totality of all existence (τὺ πᾶν), be the necessary, infinite, and perfect Being? An 179 infinite and eternal universe has the reason of its existence in itself, and the existence of such a universe can never prove to us the existence of an infinite and eternal God.

Footnote 215: (return) "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. p. 205.
Footnote 216: (return) Ibid, p. 123.

A closer examination of the statements and reasonings of Descartes, Pascal, and Leibnitz, as furnished by Saisset, will show that these distinguished mathematicans were misled by the false notion of "mathematical infinitude." Their infinite universe, after all, is not an "absolute," but a "relative" infinite; that is, the indefinite. "The universe must extend indefinitely in time and space, in the infinite greatness, and in the infinite littleness of its parts--in the infinite variety of its species, of its forms, and of its degrees of existence. The finite can not express the infinite but by being multiplied infinitely. The finite, so far as it is finite, is not in any reasonable relation, or in any intelligible proportion to the infinite. But the finite, as multiplied infinitely, 217 ages upon ages, spaces upon spaces, stars beyond stars, worlds beyond worlds, is a true expression of the Infinite Being. Does it follow, because the universe has no limits,--that it must therefore be eternal, immense, infinite as God himself? No; that is but a vain scruple, which springs from the imagination, and not from the reason. The imagination is always confounding what reason should ever distinguish, eternity and time, immensity and space, relative infinity and absolute infinity. The Creator alone is eternal, immense, absolutely infinite." 218

Footnote 217: (return) "The infinite is distinct from the finite, and consequently from the multiplication of the finite by itself; that is, from the indefinite. That which is not infinite, added as many times as you please to itself, will not become infinite."--Cousin, "Hist, of Philos.," vol. ii. p. 231.
Footnote 218: (return) Saisset, "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. pp. 127, 128.

The introduction of the idea of "the mathematical infinite" into metaphysical speculation, especially by Kant and Hamilton, with the design, it would seem, of transforming the idea of infinity into a sensuous conception, has generated innumerable paralogisms which disfigure the pages of their philosophical writings. This procedure is grounded in the common fallacy of supposing that infinity and quantity are compatible attributes, and susceptible of mathematical synthesis. This insidious and 180 plausible error is ably refuted by a writer in the "North American Review." 219 We can not do better than transfer his argument to our pages in an abridged form.

Footnote 219: (return) "The Conditioned and the Unconditioned," No. CCV. art. iii. (1864).

Mathematics is conversant with quantities and quantitative relations. The conception of quantity, therefore, if rigorously analyzed, will indicate à priori the natural and impassable boundaries of the science; while a subsequent examination of the quantities called infinite in the mathematical sense, and of the algebraic symbol of infinity, will be seen to verify the results of this á priori analysis.

Quantity is that attribute of things in virtue of which they are susceptible of exact mensuration. The question how much, or how many (quantus), implies the answer, so much, or so many (tantus); but the answer is possible only through reference to some standard of magnitude or multitude arbitrarily assumed. Every object, therefore, of which quantity, in the mathematical sense, is predicable, must be by its essential nature mensurable. Now mensurability implies the existence of actual, definite limits, since without them there could be no fixed relation between the given object and the standard of measurement, and, consequently, no possibility of exact mensuration. In fact, since quantification is the object of all mathematical operations, mathematics may be not inaptly defined as the science of the determinations of limits. It is evident, therefore, that the terms quantity and finitude express the same attribute, namely, limitation--the former relatively, the latter absolutely; for quantity is limitation considered with relation to some standard of measurement, and finitude is limitation considered simply in itself. The sphere of quantity, therefore, is absolutely identical with the sphere of the finite; and the phrase infinite quantity, if strictly construed, is a contradiction in terms.

The result thus attained by considering abstract quantity is corroborated by considering concrete and discrete quantities. Such expressions as infinite sphere, radius, parallelogram, line, and so forth, are self-contradictory. A sphere is limited by its 181 own periphery, and a radius by the centre and circumference of its circle. A parallelogram of infinite altitude is impossible, because the limit of its altitude is assigned in the side which must be parallel to its base in order to constitute it a parallelogram. In brief, all figuration is limitation. The contradiction in the term infinite line is not quite so obvious, but can readily be made apparent. Objectively, a line is only the termination of a surface, and a surface the termination of a solid; hence a line can not exist apart from an extended quantity, nor an infinite line apart from an infinite quantity. But as this term has just been shown to be self-contradictory, an infinite line can not exist objectively at all. Again, every line is extension in one dimension; hence a mathematical quantity, hence mensurable, hence finite; you must therefore, deny that a line is a quantity, or else affirm that it is finite.

The same conclusion is forced upon us, if from geometry we turn to arithmetic. The phrases infinite number, infinite series, infinite process, and so forth, are all contradictory when literally construed. Number is a relation among separate unities or integers, which, considered objectively as independent of our cognitive powers, must constitute an exact sum; and this exactitude, or synthetic totality, is limitation. If considered subjectively in the mode of its cognition, a number is infinite only in the sense that it is beyond the power of our imagination or conception, which is an abuse of the term. In either case the totality is fixed; that is, finite. So, too, of series and process. Since every series involves a succession of terms or numbers, and every process a succession of steps or stages, the notion of series and process plainly involves that of number, and must be rigorously dissociated from the idea of infinity. At any one step, at any one term, the number attained is determinate, hence finite. The fact that, by the law of the series or of the process, we may continue the operation as long as we please, does not justify the application of the term infinite to the operation itself; if any thing is infinite, it is the will which continues the operation, which is absurd if said of human wills.


Consequently, the attribute of infinity is not predicable either of 'diminution without limit,' 'augmentation without limit,' or 'endless approximation to a fixed limit,' for these mathematical processes continue only as we continue them, consist of steps successively accomplished, and are limited by the very fact of this serial incompletion.

"We can not forbear pointing out an important application of these results to the Critical Philosophy. Kant bases each of his famous four antinomies on the demand of pure reason for unconditioned totality in a regressive series of conditions. This, he says, must be realized either in an absolute first of the series, conditioning all the other members, but itself unconditioned, or else in the absolute infinity of the series without a first; but reason is utterly unable, on account of mutual contradiction, to decide in which of the two alternatives the unconditioned is found. By the principles we have laid down, however, the problem is solved. The absolute infinity of a series is a contradiction in adjecto. As every number, although immeasurably and inconceivably great, is impossible unless unity is given as its basis, so every series, being itself a number, is impossible unless a first term is given as a commencement. Through a first term alone is the unconditioned possible; that is, if it does not exist in a first term, it can not exist at all; of the two alternatives, therefore, one altogether disappears, and reason is freed from the dilemma of a compulsory yet impossible decision. Even if it should be allowed that the series has no first term, but has originated ab œterno, it must always at each instant have a last term; the series, as a whole, can not be infinite, and hence can not, as Kant claims it can, realize in its wholeness unconditioned totality. Since countless terms forever remain unreached, the series is forever limited by them. Kant himself admits that it can never be completed, and is only potentially infinite; actually, therefore, by his own admission, it is finite. But a last term implies a first, as absolutely as one end of a string implies the other; the only possibility of an unconditioned lies in Kant's first alternative, and if, as he maintains 183 Reason must demand it, she can not hesitate in her decisions. That number is a limitation is no new truth, and that every series involves number is self-evident; and it is surprising that so radical a criticism on Kant's system should never have suggested itself to his opponents. Even the so-called moments of time can not be regarded as constituting a real series, for a series can not be real except through its divisibility into members whereas time is indivisible, and its partition into moments is a conventional fiction. Exterior limitability and interior divisibility result equally from the possibility of discontinuity. Exterior illimitability and interior indivisibility are simple phases of the same attribute of necessary continuity contemplated under different aspects. From this principle flows another upon which it is impossible to lay too much stress, namely; illimitability and indivisibility, infinity and unity, reciprocally necessitate each other. Hence the Quantitative Infinites must be also Units, and the division of space and time, implying absolute contradiction, is not even cogitable as an hypothesis. 220

"The word infinite, therefore, in mathematical usage, as applied to process and to quantity, has a two-fold signification. An infinite process is one which we can continue as long as we please, but which exists solely in our continuance of it. 221 An infinite quantity is one which exceeds our powers of mensuration or of conception, but which, nevertheless, has bounds and limits in itself. 222 Hence the possibility of relation among infinite quantities, and of different orders of infinities. If the words infinite, infinity, infinitesimal, should be banished from mathematical treatises and replaced by the words indefinite, indefinity, and indefinitesimal, mathematics would suffer no loss, while, by removing a perpetual source of confusion, metaphysics would get great gain."

Footnote 220: (return) By the application of these principles the writer in the "North American Review" completely dissolves the antinomies by which Hamilton seeks to sustain his "Philosophy of the Conditioned." See "North American Review," 1864, pp. 432-437.
Footnote 221: (return) De Morgan, "Diff. and Integ. Calc." p. 9.
Footnote 222: (return) Id., ib., p. 25.

The above must be regarded as a complete refutation of the 184 position taken by Hume, to wit, that the idea of nature eternally existing in a state of order, without a cause other than the eternally inherent laws of nature, is no more self-contradictory than the idea of an eternally-existing and infinite mind, who originated this order--a God existing without a cause. The eternal and infinite Mind is indivisible and illimitable; nature, in its totality, as well as in its individual parts, has interior divisibility, and exterior limitability. The infinity of God is not a quantitative, but a qualitative infinity. The miscalled eternity and infinity of nature is an indefinite extension and protension in time and space, and, as quantitative, must necessarily be limited and measurable, therefore finite.

The universe of sense-perception and sensuous imagination is a phenomenal universe, a genesis, a perpetual becoming, an entrance into existence, and an exit thence; the Theist is, therefore, perfectly justified in regarding it as disqualified for self-existence, and in passing behind it for the Supreme Entity that needs no cause. Phenomena demand causation, entities dispense with it. No one asks for a cause of the space which contains the universe, or of the Eternity on the bosom of which it floats. Everywhere the line is necessarily drawn upon the same principle; that entities may have self-existence, phenomena must have a cause. 223

Footnote 223: (return) "Science, Nescience, and Faith," in Martineau's "Essays," p. 206.

IV. Psychological analysis clearly attests that in the phenomena of consciousness there are found elements or principles which, in their regular and normal development, transcend the limits of consciousness, and attain to the knowledge of Absolute Being, Absolute Reason, Absolute Good, i.e., GOD.

The analysis of thought clearly reveals that the mind of man is in possession of ideas, notions, beliefs, principles (as e.g., the idea of space, duration, cause, substance, unity, infinity), which are not derived from sensation and experience, and which can not be drawn out of sensation and experience by any process of generalization. These ideas have this incontestable peculiarity, 185 as distinguished from all the phenomena of sensation, that, whilst the latter are particular, contingent, and relative, the former are universal, necessary, and absolute. As an example, and a proof of the reality and validity of this distinction, take the ideas of body and of space, the former unquestionably derived from experience, the latter supplied by reason alone. "I ask you, can not you conceive this book to be destroyed? Without doubt you can. And can not you conceive the whole world to be destroyed, and no matter whatever in existence? You can. For you, constituted as you are, the supposition of the non-existence of bodies implies no contradiction. And what do we call the idea of a thing which we can conceive of as non-existing? We call it a contingent and relative idea. But if you can conceive this book to be destroyed, all bodies destroyed, can you suppose space to be destroyed? You can not. It is in the power of man's thought to conceive the non-existence of bodies; it is not in the power of man's thought to conceive the non-existence of space. The idea of space is thus a necessary and absolute idea." 224

Footnote 224: (return) Cousin's "Hist. of Philos.," vol. ii. p. 214.

Take, again, the ideas of event and cause. The idea of an event is a contingent idea; it is the idea of something which might or might not have happened. There is no impossibility or contradiction in either supposition. The idea of cause is a necessary idea. An event being given, the idea of cause is necessarily implied. An uncaused event is an impossible conception. The idea of cause is also a universal idea extending to all events, actual or conceivable, and affirmed by all minds. It is a rational fact, attested by universal consciousness, that we can not think of an event transpiring without a cause; of a thing being the author of its own existence; of something generated by and out of nothing. Ex nihilo nihil is a universal law of thought and of things. This universal "law of causality" is clearly distinguishable from a general truth reached by induction. For example, it is a very general truth that, during twenty-four hours, day is succeeded by night. But this is not 186 a necessary truth, neither is it a universal truth. It does not extend to all known lands, as, for example, to Nova Zembla. It does not hold true of the other planets. Nor does it extend to all possible lands. We can easily conceive of lands plunged in eternal night, or rolling in eternal day. With another system of worlds, one can conceive other physics, but one can not conceive other metaphysics. It is impossible to imagine a world in which the law of causality does not reign. Here, then, we have one absolute principle (among others which may be enumerated), the existence and reality of which is revealed, not by sensation, but by reason--a principle which transcends the limits of experience, and which, in its regular and logical development, attains the knowledge of the Absolute Cause--the First Cause of all causes--God.

Thus it is evident that the human mind is in possession of two distinct orders of primitive cognitions,--one, contingent, relative, and phenomenal; the other universal, necessary, and absolute. These two distinct orders of cognition presuppose the existence in man of two distinct faculties or organs of knowledge--sensation, external and internal, which perceives the contingent, relative, and phenomenal, and reason, which apprehends the universal, necessary, and absolute. The knowledge which is derived from sensation and experience is called empirical knowledge, or knowledge à posteriori, because subsequent to, and consequent upon, the exercise of the faculties of observation. The knowledge derived from reason is called transcendental knowledge, or knowledge à priori, because it furnishes laws to, and governs the exercise of the faculties of observation and thought, and is not the result of their exercise. The sensibility brings the mind into relation with the physical world, the reason puts mind in communication with the intelligible world--the sphere of à priori principles, of necessary and absolute truths, which depend upon neither the world nor the conscious self, and which reveal to man the existence of the soul, nature, and God. Every distinct fact of consciousness is thus at once psychological and ontological, and contains these 187 three fundamental ideas, which we can not go beyond, or cancel by any possible analysis--the soul, with its faculties; matter, with its qualities; God, with his perfections.

We do not profess to be able to give a clear explication and complete enumeration of all the ideas of reason, and of the necessary and universal principles or axioms which are grounded on these ideas. This is still the grand desideratum of metaphysical science. Its achievement will give us a primordial logic, which shall be as exact in its procedure and as certain in its conclusions as the mathematical sciences. Meantime, it may be affirmed that philosophic analysis, in the person of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Cousin, has succeeded in disengaging such à priori ideas, and formulating such principles and laws of thought, as lead infallibly to the cognition of the Absolute Being, the Absolute Reason, the Absolute Good, that is, GOD.

It would carry us too far beyond our present design were we to exhibit, in each instance, the process of immediate abstraction by which the contingent and relative element of knowledge is eliminated, and the necessary and absolute principle is disengaged. We shall simply state the method, and show its application by a single illustration.

There are unquestionably two sorts of abstraction: 1. "Comparative abstraction, operating upon several real objects, and seizing their resemblances in order to form an abstract idea, which is collective and mediate; collective, because different individuals concur in its formation; mediate, because it requires several intermediate operations." This is the method of the physical sciences, which comprises comparison, abstraction, and generalization. The result in this process is the attainment of a general truth. 2. "Immediate abstraction, not comparative; operating not upon several concretes, but upon a single one, eliminating and neglecting its individual and variable part, and disengaging the absolute part, which it raises at once to its pure form." The parts to be eliminated in a concrete cognition are, first, the quality of the object, and the circumstances 188 under which the absolute unfolds itself; and secondly, the quality of the subject, which perceives but does not constitute it. The phenomena of the me and the not-me being eliminated, the absolute remains. This is the process of rational psychology, and the result obtained is a universal and necessary truth.

"Let us take, as an example, the principle of cause. To be able to say that the event I see must have a cause, it is not indispensable to have seen several events succeed each other. The principle which compels me to pronounce this judgment is already complete in the first as in the last event; it can not change in respect to its object, it can not change in itself; it neither increases nor decreases with the greater or less number of applications. The only difference that it is subject to in regard to us is that we apply it, whether we remark it or not, whether we disengage it or not from its particular application. The question is not to eliminate the particularity of the phenomenon wherein it appears to us, whether it be the fall of a leaf or the murder of a man, in order immediately to conceive, in a general and abstract manner, the necessity of a cause for every event that begins to exist. Here it is not because I am the same, or have been affected in the same manner in several different cases, that I have come to this general and abstract conception. A leaf falls; at the same moment I think, I believe, I declare that this falling of the leaf must have a cause. A man has been killed; at the same instant I believe, I proclaim that this death must have a cause. Each one of these facts contains particular and variable circumstances, and something universal and necessary, to wit, both of them can not but have a cause. Now I am perfectly able to disengage the universal from the particular in regard to the first fact as well as in regard to the second fact, for the universal is in the first quite as well as in the second. In fact, if the principle of causality is not universal in the first fact, neither will it be in the second, nor in the third, nor in the thousandth; for a thousandth 189 is not nearer than the first to the infinite--to absolute universality. It is the same, and still more evidently, with necessity. Pay particular attention to this point; if necessity is not in the first fact, it can not be in any; for necessity can not be formed little by little, and by successive increments. If, on the first murder I see, I do not exclaim that this murder had necessarily a cause, at the thousandth murder, although it shall be proved that all the others had causes, I shall have the right to think that this murder has, very probably, also a cause, but I shall never have the right to say that it necessarily had a cause. But when universality and necessity are already in a single case, that case is sufficient to entitle me to deduce them from it," 225 and we may add, also, to affirm them of every other event that may transpire.

Footnote 225: (return) Cousin, "True, Beautiful, and Good," pp. 57, 58.

The following schema will exhibit the generally accepted results of this method of analysis applied to the phenomena of thought:

(i.) Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments from whence is derived the cognition of Absolute Being.

1. The principle of Substance; thus enounced--"every quality supposes a subject or real being."

2. The principle of Causality; "every thing that begins to be supposes a power adequate to its production, i.e., an efficient cause."

3. The principle of Unity; "all differentiation and plurality supposes an incomposite unity; all diversity, an ultimate and indivisible identity."

4. The principle of the Unconditioned; "the finite supposes the infinite, the dependent supposes the self-existent, the temporal supposes the eternal."

(ii.) Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments, from which is derived the cognition of the Absolute Reason.

1. The principle of Ideality; thus enounced, "facts of order--definite proportion, symmetrical arrangement, numerical 190 relation, geometrical form--having a commencement in time, present themselves to us as the expression of Ideas, and refer us to Mind as their analogon, and exponent, and source."

2. The principle of Consecution; "the uniform succession and progressive evolution of new existences, according to fixed definite archetypes, suppose a unity of thought--a comprehensive plan embracing all existence."

3. The principle of Intentionality or Final Cause; "every means supposes an end contemplated, and a choice and adaptation of means to secure the end."

4. The principle of Personality; "intelligent purpose and voluntary choice imply a personal agent."

(iii.) Universal and necessary principles, or primitive judgments, from whence is derived the cognition of the Absolute Good.

1. The principle of Moral Law; thus enounced, "the action of a voluntary agent necessarily characterized as right or wrong, supposes an immutable and universal standard of right--an absolute moral Law."

2. The principle of Moral Obligation; "the feeling of obligation to obey a law of duty supposes a Lawgiver by whose authority we are obliged."

3. The principle of Moral Desert; "the feeling of personal accountability and of moral desert supposes a judge to whom we must give account, and who shall determine our award."

4. The pnnciple of Retribution; "retributive issues in this life, and the existence in all minds of an impersonal justice which demands that, in the final issue, every being shall receive his just deserts, suppose a being of absolute justice who shall render to every man according to his works."

A more profound and exhaustive analysis may perhaps resolve all these primitive judgments into one universal principle or law, which Leibnitz has designated "The principle or law of sufficient reason," and which is thus enounced--there must be an ultimate and sufficient reason why any thing exists, and 191 why it is, rather than otherwise; that is, if any thing begins to be, something else must be supposed as the adequate ground, and reason, and cause of its existence; or again, to state the law in view of our present discussion, "if the finite universe, with its existing order and arrangement, had a beginning, there must be an ultimate and sufficient reason why it exists, and why it is as it is, rather than otherwise." In view of one particular class of phenomena, or special order of facts, this "principle of sufficient reason" may be varied in the form of its statement, and denominated "the principle of substance," "the principle of causality," "the principle of intentionality," etc.; and, it may be, these are but specific judgments under the one fundamental and generic law of thought which constitutes the major premise of every Theistic syllogism.

These fundamental principles, primitive judgments, axioms, or necessary and determinate forms of thought, exist potentially or germinally in all human minds; they are spontaneously developed in presence of the phenomena of the universe, material and mental; they govern the original movement of the mind, even when not appearing in consciousness in their pure and abstract form; and they compel us to affirm a permanent being or reality behind all phenomena--a power adequate to the production of change, back of all events; a personal Mind, as the explanation of all the facts of order, and uniform succession, and regular evolution; and a personal Lawgiver and Righteous Judge as the ultimate ground and reason of all the phenomena of the moral world; in short, to affirm an Unconditioned Cause of all finite and secondary causes; a First Principle of all principles; an Ultimate Reason of all reasons; an immutable Uncreated Justice, the living light of conscience; a King immortal, eternal, invisible, the only wise God, the ruler of the world and man.

Our position, then, is, that the idea of God is revealed to man in the natural and spontaneous development of his intelligence, and that the existence of a Supreme Reality corresponding to, and represented by this idea, is rationally and logically 192 demonstrable, and therefore justly entitled to take rank as part of our legitimate, valid, and positive knowledge.

And now from this position, which we regard as impregnable, we shall be prepared more deliberately and intelligibly to contemplate the various assaults which are openly or covertly made upon the doctrine that God is cognizable by human reason.



THE UNKNOWN GOD (continued).


"The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith, but the confession of despair."--LIGHTFOOT.

At the outset of this inquiry we attempted a hasty grouping of the various parties and schools which are arrayed against the doctrine that God is cognizable by human reason, and in general terms we sought to indicate the ground they occupy.

Viewed from a philosophical stand-point, we found one party marshalled under the standard of Idealism; another of Materialism and, again, another of Natural Realism. Regarded in their theological aspects, some are positive Atheists; others, strange to say, are earnest Theists; whilst others occupy a position of mere Indifferentism. Yet, notwithstanding the remarkable diversity, and even antagonism of their philosophical and theological opinions, they are all agreed in denying to reason any valid cognition of God.

The survey of Natural Theism we have completed in the previous chapter will enable us still further to indicate the exact points against which their attacks are directed, and also to estimate the character and force of the weapons employed. With or without design, they are, each in their way, assailing one or other of the principles upon which we rest our demonstration of the being of God. As we proceed, we shall find that Mill and the Constructive Idealists are really engaged in undermining "the principle of substance;" their doctrine is a virtual denial of all objective realities answering to our subjective ideas of matter, mind, and God. The assaults of Comte 194 and the Materialists of his school are mainly directed against "the principle of causality" and "the principle of intentionality;" they would deny to man all knowledge of causes, efficient and final. The attacks of Hamilton and his school are directed against "the principle of the unconditioned," his philosophy of the conditioned is a plausible attempt to deprive man of all power to think the Infinite and Perfect, to conceive the Unconditioned and Ultimate Cause; whilst the Dogmatic Theologians are borrowing, and recklessly brandishing, the weapons of all these antagonists, and, in addition to all this, are endeavoring to show the insufficiency of "the principle of unity" and the weakness and invalidity of "the moral principles," which are regarded by us as relating man to a Moral Personality, and as indicating to him the existence of a righteous God, the ruler of the world. It is necessary, therefore, that we should concentrate our attention yet more specifically on these separate lines of attack, and attempt a minuter examination of the positions assumed by each, and of the arguments by which they are seeking, directly or indirectly, to invalidate the fundamental principles of Natural Theism.

(i.) We commence with the Idealistic School, of which John Stuart Mill must be regarded as the ablest living representative.

The doctrine of this school is that all our knowledge is necessarily confined to mental phenomena; that is, "to feelings or states of consciousness," and "the succession and co-existence, the likeness and unlikeness between these feelings or states of consciousness." 226 All our general notions, all our abstract ideas, are generated out of these feelings 227 by "inseparable association," which registers their inter-relations of recurrence, co-existence, and resemblance. The results of this inseparable association constitute at once the sum total and the absolute limit of all possible cognition.

Footnote 226: (return) J. S. Mill, "Logic," vol. i. p. 83 (English edition).
Footnote 227: (return) In the language of Mill, every thing of which we are conscious is called "feeling." "Feeling, in the proper sense of the term, is a genus of which Sensation, Emotion, and Thought are the subordinate species."--"Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 3.

It is admitted by Mill that one apparent element in this total result is the general conviction that our own existence is really distinct from the external world, and that the personal ego has an essential identity distinct from the fleeting phenomena of sensation. But this persuasion is treated by him as a mere illusion--a leap beyond the original datum for which we have no authority. Of a real substance or substratum called Mind, of a real substance or substratum called Matter, underlying the series of feelings--"the thread of consciousness"--we do know and can know nothing; and in affirming the existence of such substrata we are making a supposition we can not possibly verify. The ultimate datum of speculative philosophy is not "I think," but simply "Thoughts or feelings are." The belief in a permanent subject or substance, called matter, as the ground and plexus of physical phenomena, and of a permanent subject or substance, called mind, as the ground and plexus of mental phenomena, is not a primitive and original intuition οf reason. It is simply through the action of the principle of association among the ultimate phenomena, called feelings, that this (erroneous) separation of the phenomena into two orders or aggregates--one called mind or self; the other matter, or not self--takes place; and without this curdling or associating process no such notion or belief could have been generated. "The principle of substance," as an ultimate law of thought, is, therefore, to be regarded as a transcendental dream.

But now that the notion of mind or self, and of matter or not self, do exist as common convictions of our race, what is philosophy to make of them? After a great many qualifications and explanations, Mr. Mill has, in his "Logic," summed up his doctrine of Constructive Idealism in the following words: "As body is the mysterious something which excites the mind to feel, so mind is the mysterious something which feels and thinks." 228 But what is this "mysterious something?" Is it a reality, an entity, a subject; or is it a shadow, an illusion, a dream? In his "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," where 196 it may be presumed, we have his maturest opinions, Mr. Mill, in still more abstract and idealistic phraseology, attempts an answer. Here he defines matter as "a permanent possibility of sensation," 229 and mind as "a permanent possibility of feeling." 230 And "the belief in these permanent possibilities," he assures us, "includes all that is essential or characteristic in the belief in substance." 231 "If I am asked," says he, "whether I believe in matter, I ask whether the questioner accepts this definition of it. If he does, I believe in matter: and so do all Berkeleians. In any other sense than this, I do not. But I affirm with confidence that this conception of matter includes the whole meaning attached to it by the common world, apart from philosophical, and sometimes from theological theories. The reliance of mankind on the real existence of visible and tangible objects, means reliance on the reality and permanence of possibilities of visual and tactual sensations, when no sensations are actually experienced." 232 "Sensations," however, let it be borne in mind, are but a subordinate species of the genus feeling. 233 They are "states of consciousness"--phenomena of mind, not of matter; and we are still within the impassable boundary of ideal phenomena; we have yet no cognition of an external world. The sole cosmical conception, for us, is still a succession of sensations, or states of consciousness. This is the one phenomenon which we can not transcend in knowledge, do what we will; all else is hypothesis and illusion. The non-ego, after all, then, may be but a mode in which the mind represents to itself the possible modifications of the ego.

Footnote 228: (return) "Logic," bk. i, ch. iii. § 8.
Footnote 229: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 243.
Footnote 230: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 253.
Footnote 231: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 246.
Footnote 232: (return) Ibid., vol. i. pp. 243, 244.
Footnote 233: (return) "Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 3.

And now that matter, as a real existence, has disappeared under Mr. Mill's analysis, what shall be said of mind or self? Is there any permanent subject or real entity underlying the phenomena of feeling? In feeling, is there a personal self that feels, thinks, and wills? It would seem not. Mind, as well as matter, resolves itself into a "series of feelings," varying and fugitive from moment to moment, in a sea of possibilities of 197 feeling. "My mind," says Mill, "is but a series of feelings, or, as it has been called, a thread of consciousness, however supplemented by believed possibilities of consciousness, which are not, though they might be, realized." 234

Footnote 234: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 254.

The ultimate fact of the phenomenal world, then, in the philosophy of Mill, is neither matter nor mind, but feelings or states of consciousness associated together by the relations, amongst themselves, of recurrence, co-existence, and resemblance. The existence of self, except as "a series of feelings;" the existence of any thing other than self, except as a feigned unknown cause of sensation, is rigorously denied. Mr. Mill does not content himself with saying that we are ignorant of the nature of matter and mind, but he asserts we are ignorant of the existence of matter and mind as real entities.

The bearing of this doctrine of Idealism upon Theism and Theology will be instantly apparent to the reader. If I am necessarily ignorant of the existence of the external world, and of the personal ego, or real self, I must be equally ignorant of the existence of God. If one is a mere supposition, an illusion, so the other must be. Mr. Mill, however, is one of those courteous and affable writers who are always conscious, as it were, of the presence of their readers, and extremely careful not to shock their feelings or prejudices; besides, he has too much conscious self-respect to avow himself an atheist. As a speculative philosopher, he would rather regard Theism and Theology as "open questions," and he satisfies himself with saying, if you believe in the existence of God, or in Christianity, I do not interfere with you. "As a theory," he tells us that his doctrine leaves the evidence of the existence of God exactly as it was before. Supposing me to believe that the Divine mind is simply the series of the Divine thoughts and feelings prolonged through eternity, that would be, at any rate, believing God's existence to be as real as my own 235. And as for evidence, the argument of Paley's 'Natural Theology,' or, for that matter, of his 'Evidences of Christianity,' would stand exactly as it does.


The design argument is drawn from the analogies of human experience. From the relation which human works bear to human thoughts and feelings, it infers a corresponding relation between works more or less similar, but superhuman, and superhuman thoughts and feelings. If it prove these, nobody but a metaphysician needs care whether or not it proves a mysterious substratum for them. 236 The argument from design, it seems to us, however, would have no validity if there be no external world offering marks of design. If the external world is only a mode of feeling, a series of mental states, then our notion of the Divine Existence may be only "an association of feelings"--a mode of Self. And if we have no positive knowledge of a real self as existing, and God's existence is no more "real than our own," then the Divine existence stands on a very dubious and uncertain foundation. It can have no very secure hold upon the human mind, and certainly has no claim to be regarded as a fundamental and necessary belief. That it has a very precarious hold upon the mind of Mr. Mill, is evident from the following passage in his article on "Later Speculations of A. Comte." 237 "We venture to think that a religion may exist without a belief in a God, and that a religion without a God may be, even to Christians, an instructive and profitable object of contemplation."

And now let us close Mr. Mill's book, and, introverting our mental gaze, interrogate consciousness, the verdict of which, even Mr. Mill assures us, is admitted on all hands to be a decision without appeal. 238

Footnote 235: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 254.
Footnote 236: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 259.
Footnote 237: (return) Westminster Review, July, 1835 (American edition), p. 3.
Footnote 238: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 161.

1. We have an ineradicable, and, as it would seem, an intuitive faith in the real existence of an external world distinct from our sensations, and also of a personal self, which we call "I," "myself," as distinct from "my sensations," and "my feelings." We find, also, that this is confessedly the common belief of mankind. There have been a few philosophers who 199 have affected to treat this belief as a "mere prejudice," an "illusion;" but they have never been able, practically, so to regard and treat it. Their language, just as plainly as the language of the common people, betrays their instinctive faith in an outer world, and proves their utter inability to emancipate themselves from this "prejudice," if such it may please them to call it. In view of this acknowledged fact, we ask--Does the term "permanent possibility of sensations" exhaust all that is contained in this conception of an external world? This evening I remember that at noonday I beheld the sun, and experienced a sensation of warmth whilst exposing myself to his rays; and I expect that to-morrow, under the same conditions, I shall experience the same sensations. I now remember that last evening I extinguished my light and attempted to leave my study, but, coming in contact with the closed door, experienced a sense of resistance to my muscular effort, by a solid and extended body exterior to myself; and I expect that this evening, under the same circumstances, I shall experience the same sensations. Now, does a belief in "a permanent possibility of sensations" explain all these experiences? does it account for that immediate knowledge of an external object which I had on looking at the sun, or that presentative knowledge of resistance and extension, and of an extended, resisting substance, I had when in contact with the door of my study? Mr. Mill very confidently affirms that this belief includes all; and this phrase expresses all the meaning attached to extended "matter" and resisting "substance" by the common world. 239 We as confidently affirm that it does no such thing; and as "the common world" must be supposed to understand the language of consciousness as well as the philosopher, we are perfectly willing to leave the decision of that question to the common consciousness of our race. If all men do not believe in a permanent reality--a substance which is external to themselves, a substance which offers resistance to their muscular effort, and which produces in them the sensations of solidity, extension, 200 resistance, etc.--they believe nothing and know nothing at all about the matter.

Footnote 239: (return) "Examination of Sir Wm. Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 243.

Still less does the phrase "a permanent possibility of feelings" exhaust all our conception of a personal self. Recurring to the experiences of yesterday, I remember the feelings I experienced on beholding the sun, and also on pressing against the closed door, and I confidently expect the recurrence, under the same circumstances, of the same feelings. Does the belief in "a permanent possibility of feelings" explain the act of memory by which I recall the past event, and the act of prevision by which I anticipate the recurrence of the like experience in the future? Who or what is the "I" that remembers and the "I" that anticipates? The "ego," the personal mind, is, according to Mill, a mere "series of feelings," or, more correctly, a flash of "present feelings" on "a background of possibilities of present feelings." 240 If, then, there be no permanent substance or reality which is the subject of the present feeling, which receives and retains the impress of the past feeling, and which anticipates the recurrence of like feelings in the future, how can the past be recalled, how distinguished from the present? and how, without a knowledge of the past as distinguished from the present, can the future be forecast? Mr. Mill feels the pressure of this difficulty, and frankly acknowledges it. He admits that, on the hypothesis that mind is simply "a series of feelings," the phenomena of memory and expectation are "inexplicable" and "incomprehensible." 241 He is, therefore, under the necessity of completing his definition of mind by adding that it is a series of feelings which "is aware of itself as a series;" and, still further, of supplementing this definition by the conjecture that "something which has ceased to exist, or is not yet in existence, can still, in a manner, be present." 242 Now he who can understand how a series of feelings can flow on in time, and from moment to moment drop out of the present into non-existence, and yet be present and conscious of itself as a series, may be 201 accorded the honor of understanding Mr. Mill's definition of mind or self, and may be permitted to rank himself as a distinguished disciple of the Idealist school; for ourselves, we acknowledge we are destitute of the capacity to do the one, and of all ambition to be the other. And he who can conceive how the past feeling of yesterday and the possible feeling of to-morrow can be in any manner present to-day; or, in other words, how any thing which has ceased to exist, or which never had an existence, can now exist, may be permitted to believe that a thing can be and not be at the same moment, that a part is greater than the whole, and that two and two make five; but we are not ashamed to confess our inability to believe a contradiction. To our understanding, "possibilities of feeling" are not actualities. They may or may not be realized, and until realized in consciousness, they have no real being. If there be no other background of mental phenomena save mere "possibilities of feeling," then present feelings are the only existences, the only reality, and a loss of immediate consciousness, as in narcosis and coma, is the loss of all personality, all self-hood, and of all real being.

Footnote 240: (return) "Exam. of Hamilton," vol. i. p. 260.
Footnote 241: (return) Ibid, p. 262.
Footnote 242: (return) Ibid.

2. What, then, is the verdict of consciousness as to the existence of a permanent substance, an abiding existence which is the subject of all the varying phenomena? Of what are we really conscious when we say "I think," "I feel," "I will?" Are we simply conscious of thought, feeling, and volition, or of a self, a person, which thinks, feels, and wills? The man who honestly and unreservedly accepts the testimony of consciousness in all its integrity must answer at once, we have an immediate consciousness, not merely of the phenomena of mind, but of a personal self as passively or actively related to the phenomena. We are conscious not merely of the act of volition, but of a self, a power, producing the volition. We are conscious not merely of feeling, but of a being who is the subject of the feeling. We are conscious not simply of thought, but of a real entity that thinks. "It is clearly a flat contradiction to maintain that I am not immediately conscious of myself, but only of my sensations 202 or volitions. Who, then, is that I that is conscious, and how can I be conscious of such states as mine?" 243

Footnote 243: (return) Mansel, "Prolegomena Logica," p. 122, and note E, p. 281.

The testimony of consciousness, then, is indubitable that we have a direct, immediate cognition of self--I know myself as a distinctly existing being. This permanent self, to which I refer the earlier and later stages of consciousness, the past as well as the present feeling, and which I know abides the same under all phenomenal changes, constitutes my personal identity. It is this abiding self which unites the past and the present, and, from the present stretches onward to the future. We know self immediately, as existing, as in active operation, and as having permanence--or, in other words, as a "substance." This one immediately presented substance, myself, may be regarded as furnishing a positive basis for that other notion of substance, which is representatively thought, as the subject of all sensible qualities.

3. We may now inquire what is the testimony of consciousness as to the existence of the extra-mental world? Are we conscious of perceiving external objects immediately and in themselves, or only mediately through some vicarious image or representative idea to which we fictitiously ascribe an objective reality?

The answer of common sense is that we are immediately conscious, in perception, of an ego and a non-ego known together, and known in contrast to each other; we are conscious of a perceiving subject, and of an external reality, as the object perceived. 244 To state this doctrine of natural realism still more explicitly we add, that we are conscious of the immediate perception of certain essential attributes of matter objectively existing. Of these primary qualities, which are immediately perceived as real and objectively existing, we mention extension in space and resistance to muscular effort, with which is indissolubly associated the idea of externality. It is true that extension and resistance are only qualities, but it is equally true that they 203 are qualities of something, and of something which is external to ourselves. Let any one attempt to conceive of extension without something which is extended, or of resistance apart from something which offers resistance, and he will be convinced that we can never know qualities without knowing substance, just as we can not know substance without knowing qualities. This, indeed, is admitted by Mr. Mill. 245 And if this be admitted, it must certainly be absurd to speak of substance as something "unknown." Substance is known just as much as quality is known, no less and no more.

Footnote 244: (return) Hamilton, "Lectures," vol. 1. p. 288.
Footnote 245: (return) "Logic," bk. i. ch. iii. § 6.

We remark, in conclusion, that if the testimony of consciousness is not accepted in all its integrity, we are necessarily involved in the Nihilism of Hume and Fichte; the phenomena of mind and matter are, on analysis, resolved into an absolute nothingness--"a play of phantasms in a void." 246

(ii.) We turn, secondly, to the Materialistic School as represented by Aug. Comte.

The doctrine of this school is that all knowledge is limited to material phenomena--that is, to appearances perceptible to sense. We do not know the essence of any object, nor the real mode of procedure of any event, but simply its relations to other events, as similar or dissimilar, co-existent or successive. These relations are constant; under the same conditions, they are always the same. The constant resemblances which link phenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite them, as antecedent and consequent, are termed laws. The laws of phenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature and their ultimate causes, efficient or final, are unknown and inscrutable to us. 247

Footnote 246: (return) Masson, "Recent British Philos.," p. 62.
Footnote 247: (return) See art. "Positive Philos. of A. Comte," Westminster Review, April, 1865, p. 162, Am. ed.

It is not our intention to review the system of philosophy propounded by Aug. Comte; we are now chiefly concerned with his denial of all causation.


1. As to Efficient Causes.--Had Comte contented himself with the assertion that causes lie beyond the field of sensible observation, and that inductive science can not carry us beyond the relations of co-existence and succession among phenomena, he would have stated an important truth, but certainly not a new truth. It had already been announced by distinguished mental philosophers, as, for example, M. de Biran and Victor Cousin. 248 The senses give us only the succession of one phenomenon to another. I hold a piece of wax to the fire and it melts. Here my senses inform me of two successive phenomena--the proximity of fire and the melting of wax. It is now agreed among all schools of philosophy that this is all the knowledge the senses can possibly supply. The observation of a great number of like cases assures us that this relation is uniform. The highest scientific generalization does not carry us one step beyond this fact. Induction, therefore, gives us no access to causes beyond phenomena. Still, this does not justify Comte in the assertion that causes are to us absolutely unknown. The question would still arise whether we have not some faculty of knowledge, distinct from sensation, which is adequate to furnish a valid cognition of cause. It does not by any means follow that, because the idea of causation is not given as a "physical quæsitum" at the end of a process of scientific generalization, it should not be a "metaphysical datum" posited at the very beginning of scientific inquiry, as the indispensable condition of our being able to cognize phenomena at all, and as the law under which all thought, and all conception of the system of nature, is alone possible.

Footnote 248: (return) "It is now universally admitted that we have no perception of the causal nexus in the material world."--Hamilton, "Discussions," p. 522.

Now we affirm that the human mind has just as direct, immediate, and positive knowledge of cause as it has of effect. The idea of cause, the intuition power, is given in the immediate consciousness of mind as determining its own operations. Our first, and, in fact, our only presentation of power or cause, is that of self as willing. In every act of volition I am fully 205 conscious that it is in my power to form a resolution or to refrain from it, to determine on this course of action or that; and this constitutes the immediate presentative knowledge of power. 249 The will is a power, a power in action, a productive power, and, consequently, a cause. This doctrine is stated with remarkable clearness and accuracy by Cousin: "If we seek the notion of cause in the action of one ball upon another, as was previously done by Hume, or in the action of the hand upon the ball, or the primary muscles upon the extremities, or even in the action of the will upon the muscles, as was done by M. Maine de Biran, we shall find it in none of these cases, not even in the last; for it is possible there should be a paralysis of the muscles which deprives the will of power over them, makes it unproductive, incapable of being a cause, and, consequently, of suggesting the notion of one. But what no paralysis can prevent is the action of the will upon itself, the production of a resolution; that is to say, the act of causation entirely mental, the primitive type of all causality, of which all external movements are only symbols more or less imperfect. The first cause for us, is, therefore, the will, of which the first effect is volition. This is at once the highest and the purest source of the notion of cause, which thus becomes identical with that of personality. And it is the taking possession, so to speak, of the cause, as revealed in will and personality, which is the condition for us of the ulterior or simultaneous conception of external, impersonal causes." 250

Footnote 249: (return) "It is our immediate consciousness of effort, when we exert force to put matter in motion, or to oppose and neutralize force, which gives us this internal conviction of power and causation, so far as it refers to the material world, and compels us to believe that whenever we see material objects put in motion from a state of rest, or deflected from their rectilinear paths and changed in their velocities if already in motion, it is in consequence of such an effort somehow exerted."--Herschel's "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 234; see Mansel's "Prolegomena," p. 133.
Footnote 250: (return) "Philosophical Fragments," Preface to first edition.

Thus much for the origin of the idea of cause. We have the same direct intuitive knowledge of cause that we have of effect; but we have not yet rendered a full and adequate account 206 of the principle of causality. We have simply attained the notion of our personal causality, and we can not arbitrarily substitute our personal causality for all the causes of the universe, and erect our own experience as a law of the entire universe. We have, however, already seen (Chap. V.) that the belief in exterior causation is necessary and universal. When a change takes place, when a new phenomenon presents itself to our senses, we can not avoid the conviction that it must have a cause. We can not even express in language the relations of phenomena in time and space, without speaking of causes. And there is not a rational being on the face of the globe--a child, a savage, or a philosopher--who does not instinctively and spontaneously affirm that every movement, every change, every new existence, must have a cause. Now what account can philosophy render of this universal belief? One answer, and only one, is possible. The reason of man (that power of which Comte takes no account) is in fixed and changeless relation to the principle of causation, just as sense is in fixed and changeless relation to exterior phenomena, so that we can not know the external world, can not think or speak of phenomenal existence, except as effects. In the expressive and forcible language of Jas. Martineau: "By an irresistible law of thought all phenomena present themselves to us as the expression of power, and refer us to a causal ground whence they issue. This dynamic source we neither see, nor hear, nor feel; it is given in thought, supplied by the spontaneous activity of mind as the correlative prefix to the phenomena observed." 251 Unless, then, we are prepared to deny the validity of all our rational intuitions, we can not avoid accepting "this subjective postulate as a valid law for objective nature." If the intuitions of our reason are pronounced deceptive and mendacious, so also must the intuitions of the senses be pronounced illusory and false. Our whole intellectual constitution is built up on false and erroneous principles, and all knowledge of whatever kind must perish by "the contagion of uncertainty."

Footnote 251: (return) "Essays," p. 47.

Comte, however, is determined to treat the idea of causation as an illusion, whether under its psychological form, as will, or under its scientific form, as force. He feels that Theology is inevitable if we permit the inquiry into causes; 252 and he is more anxious that theology should perish than that truth should prevail. The human will must, therefore, be robbed of all semblance of freedom, lest it should suggest the idea of a Supreme Will governing nature; and human action, like all other phenomena, must be reduced to uniform and necessary law. All feelings, ideas, and principles guaranteed to us by consciousness are to be cast out of the account. Psychology, resting on self-observation, is pronounced a delusion. The immediate consciousness of freedom is a dream. Such a procedure, to say the least of it, is highly unphilosophical; to say the truth about it, it is obviously dishonest. Every fact of human nature, just as much as every fact of physical nature, must be accepted in all its integrity, or all must be alike rejected. The phenomena of mind can no more be disregarded than the phenomena of matter. Rational intuitions, necessary and universal beliefs, can no more be ignored than the uniform facts of sense-perception, without rendering a system of knowledge necessarily incomplete, and a system of truth utterly impossible. Every one truth is connected with every other truth in the universe. And yet Comte demands that a large class of facts, the most immediate and direct of all our cognitions, shall be rejected because they are not in harmony with the fundamental assumption of the positive philosophy that all knowledge is confined to phenomena perceptible to sense. Now it were just as easy to cast the Alps into the Mediterranean as to obliterate from the human intelligence the primary cognitions of immediate consciousness, or to relegate the human reason from the necessary laws of thought. Comte himself can not emancipate his own mind from a belief in the validity of the testimony 208 of consciousness. How can he know himself as distinct from nature, as a living person, as the same being he was ten years ago, or even yesterday, except by an appeal to consciousness? Despite his earnestly-avowed opinions as to the inutility and fallaciousness of all psychological inquiries, he is compelled to admit that "the phenomena of life" are "known by immediate consciousness." 253 Now the knowledge of our personal freedom rests on precisely the same grounds as the knowledge of our personal existence. The same "immediate consciousness" which attests that I exist, attests also, with equal distinctness and directness, that I am self-determined and free.

Footnote 252: (return) "The inevitable tendency of our intelligence is towards a philosophy radically theological, so often as we seek to penetrate, on whatever pretext, into the intimate nature of phenomena" (vol. iv. p. 664).
Footnote 253: (return) "Positive Philos," vol. ii. p. 648.

In common with most atheistical writers, Comte is involved in the fatal contradiction of at one time assuming, and at another of denying the freedom of the will, to serve the exigencies of his theory. To prove that the order of the universe can not be the product of a Supreme Intelligence, he assumes that the products of mind must be characterized by freedom and variety--the phenomena of mind must not be subject to uniform and necessary laws; and inasmuch as the phenomena presented by external nature are subject to uniform and changeless laws, they can not be the product of mind. "Look at the whole frame of things," says he; "how can it be the product of mind--of a supernatural Will? Is it not subject to regular laws, and do we not actually obtain prevision of its phenomena? If it were the product of mind, its order would be variable and free." Here, then, it is admitted that freedom is an essential characteristic of mind. And this admission is no doubt a thoughtless, unconscious betrayal of the innate belief of all minds in the freedom of the will. But when Comte comes to deal with this freedom as an objective question of philosophy, when he directs his attention to the only will of which we have a direct and immediate knowledge, he denies freedom and variety, and asserts in the most arbitrary manner that the movements of the mind, like all the phenomena of nature, must be subject to uniform, changeless, and necessary laws. And if we have not 209 yet been able to reduce the movements of mind, like the movements of the planets, to statistics, and have not already obtained accurate prevision of its successions or sequences as we have of physical phenomena, it is simply the consequence of our inattention to, or ignorance of, all the facts. We answer, there are no facts so directly and intuitively known as the facts of consciousness; and, therefore, an argument based upon our supposed ignorance of these facts is not likely to have much weight against our immediate consciousness of personal freedom. There is not any thing we know so immediately, so certainly, so positively, as this fact--we are free.

The word "force," representing as it does a subtile menial conception, and not a phenomenon of sense, must also be banished from the domains of Positive Science as an intruder, lest its presence should lend any countenance to the idea of causation. "Forces in mechanics are only movements, produced, or tending to be produced." In order to "cancel altogether the old metaphysical notion of force," another form of expression is demanded. It is claimed that all we do know or can possibly know is the successions of phenomena in time. What, then, is the term which henceforth, in our dynamics, shall take the place of "force?" Is it "Time-succession?" Then let any one attempt to express the various forms and intensities of movement and change presented to the senses (as e.g., the phenomena of heat, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, muscular and nervous action, etc.) in terms of Time-succession, and he will at once become conscious of the utter hopelessness of physics, without the hyperphysical idea of force, to render itself intelligible. 254 What account can be rendered of planetary motion if the terms "centrifugal force" and "centripetal force" are abandoned? "From the two great conditions of every Newtonian solution, viz., projectile impulse and centripetal tendency, eject the idea of force, and what remains? The entire conception is simply made up of this, and has not the faintest 210 existence without it. It is useless to give it notice to quit, and pretend that it is gone when you have only put a new name upon the door. We must not call it 'attraction,' lest there should seem to be a power within; we are to speak of it only as 'gravitation,' because that is only 'weight,' which is nothing but a 'fact,' as if it were not a fact that holds a power, a true dynamic affair, which no imagination can chop into incoherent successions. 255 Nor is the evasion more successful when we try the phrase, 'tendency of bodies to mutual approach.' The approach itself may be called a phenomenon; but the 'tendency' is no phenomenon, and can not be attributed by us to the bodies without regarding them as the residence of force. And what are we to say of the projectile impulse in the case of the planets? Is that also a phenomenon? Who witnessed and reported it? Is it not evident that the whole scheme of physical astronomy is a resolution of observed facts into dynamic equivalents, and that the hypothesis posits for its calculations not phenomena, but proper forces? Its logic is this: If an impulse of certain intensity were given, and if such and such mutual attractions were constantly present, then the sort of motions which we observe in the bodies of our system would follow. So, however, they also would if willed by an Omnipotent Intelligence." 256 It is thus clearly evident that human science is unable to offer any explanation of the existing order of the universe except in terms expressive of Power or Force; that, in fact, all explanations are utterly unintelligible without the idea of causation. The language of universal rational intuition is, "all phenomena are the expression of power;" the language of science is, "every law implies a force."

Footnote 254: (return) See Grote's "Essay on Correlation of Physical Forces," pp. 18-20; and Martineau's "Essays," p. 135.
Footnote 255: (return) "Gravity is a real power of whose agency we have daily experience."--Herschel, "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 236.
Footnote 256: (return) Martineau's "Essays," p. 56.

It is furthermore worthy of being noted that, in the modern doctrine of the Correlation and Conservation of Forces, science is inevitably approaching the idea that all kinds of force are 211 but forms or manifestations of some one central force issuing from some one fountain-head of power. Dr. Carpenter, perhaps the greatest living physiologist, teaches that "the form of force which may be taken as the type of all the rest" is the consciousness of living effort in volition. 257 All force, then, is of one type, and that type is mind; in its last analysis external causation may be resolved into Divine energy. Sir John Herschel does not hesitate to say that "it is reasonable to regard the force of gravitation as the direct or indirect result of a consciousness or will exerted somewhere." 258 The humble Christian may, therefore, feel himself amply justified in still believing that "power belongs to God;" that it is through the Divine energy "all things are, and are upheld;" and that "in God we live, and move, and have our being;" he is the Great First Cause, the Fountain-head of all power.

Footnote 257: (return) "Human Physiology," p. 542.
Footnote 258: (return) "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 234.

2. As to Final Causes--that is, reasons, purposes, or ends for which things exist--these, we are told by Comte, are all "disproved" by Positive Science, which rigidly limits us to "the history of what is," and forbids all inquiry into reasons why it is. The question whether there be any intelligent purpose in the order and arrangement of the universe, is not a subject of scientific inquiry at all; and whenever it has been permitted to obtrude itself, it has thrown a false light over the facts, and led the inquirer astray.

The discoveries of modern astronomy are specially instanced by Comte as completely overthrowing the notion of any conscious design or intelligent purpose in the universe. The order and stability of the solar system are found to be the necessary consequences of gravitation, and are adequately explained without any reference to purposes or ends to be fulfilled in the disposition and arrangement of the heavenly bodies. "With persons unused to the study of the celestial bodies, though very likely informed on other parts of natural philosophy, astronomy has still the reputation of being a science eminently religious, as if the famous words, 'The heavens 212 declare the glory of God, had lost none of their truth... No science has given more terrible shocks to the doctrine of final causes than astronomy. 259 The simple knowledge of the movement of the earth must have destroyed the original and real foundation of this doctrine--the idea of the universe subordinated to the earth, and consequently to man. Besides, the accurate exploration of the solar system could not fail to dispel that blind and unlimited admiration which the general order of nature inspires, by showing in the most sensible manner, and in a great number of different respects, that the orbs were certainly not disposed in the most advantageous manner, and that science permits us easily to conceive a better arrangement, by the development of true celestial mechanism, since Newton. All the theological philosophy, even the most perfect, has been henceforth deprived of its principal intellectual function, the most regular order being thus consigned as necessarily established and maintained in our world, and even in the whole universe, by the simple mutual gravity of its several parts." 260

The task of "conceiving a better arrangement" of the celestial orbs, and improving the system of the universe generally, we shall leave to those who imagine themselves possessed of that omniscience which comprehends all the facts and relations of the actual universe, and foreknows all the details and relations of all possible universes so accurately as to be able to 213 pronounce upon their relative "advantages." The arrogance of these critics is certainly in startling and ludicrous contrast with the affected modesty which, on other occasions, restrains them from "imputing any intentions to nature." It is quite enough for our purpose to know that the tracing of evidences of design in those parts of nature accessible to our observation is an essentially different thing from the construction of a scheme of optimism on à priori grounds which shall embrace a universe the larger portion of which is virtually beyond the field of observation. We are conscious of possessing some rational data and some mental equipment for the former task, but for the latter we feel utterly incompetent. 261

Footnote 259: (return) In a foot-note Comte adds: "Nowadays, to minds familiarized betimes with the true astronomical philosophy, the heavens declare no other glory than that of Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton, and all those who have contributed to the ascertainment of their laws." It seems remarkable that the great men who ascertained these laws did not see that the saying of the Psalmist was emptied of all meaning by their discoveries. No persons seem to have been more willing than these very men named to ascribe all the glory to Him who established these laws. Kepler says: "The astronomer, to whom God has given to see more clearly with his inward eye, from what he has discovered, both can and will glorify God;" and Newton says: "This beautiful system of sun, planets, comets could have its origin in no other way than by the purpose and command of an intelligent and powerful Being. We admire him on account of his perfections, we venerate and worship him on account of his government."--Whewell's "Astronomy and Physics," pp. 197, 198.
Footnote 260: (return) "Positive Philosophy," vol. ii. pp. 36-38; Tulloch, "Theism," p. 115.
Footnote 261: (return) Chalmers's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. pp. 117, 118.

The only plausible argument in the above quotation from Comte is, that the whole phenomena of the solar system are adequately explained by the law of gravitation, without the intervention of any intelligent purpose. Let it be borne in mind that it is a fundamental principle of the Positive philosophy that all human knowledge is necessarily confined to phenomena perceptible to sense, and that the fast and highest achievement of human science is to observe and record "the invariable relations of resemblance and succession among phenomena." We can not possibly know any thing of even the existence of "causes" or "forces" lying back of phenomena, nor of "reasons" or "purposes" determining the relations of phenomena. The "law of gravitation" must, therefore, be simply the statement of a fact, the expression of an observed order of phenomena. But the simple statement of a fact is no explanation of the fact. The formal expression of an observed order of succession among phenomena is no explanation of that order. For what do we mean by an explanation? Is it not a "making plain" to the understanding? It is, in short, a complete answer to the questions how is it so? and why is it so? Now, if Comte denies to himself and to us all knowledge of efficient and final causation, if we are in utter ignorance of "forces" operating in nature, and of "reasons" for which things exist in 214 nature, he can not answer either question, and consequently nothing is explained.

Practically, however, Comte regards gravitation as a force. The order of the solar system has been established and is still maintained by the mutual gravity of its several parts. We shall not stop here to note the inconsistency of his denying to us the knowledge of, even the existence of, force, and yet at the same time assuming to treat gravitation as a force really adequate to the explanation of the how and why of the phenomena of the universe, without any reference to a supernatural will or an intelligent mind. The question with which we are immediately concerned is whether gravitation alone is adequate to the explanation of the phenomena of the heavens? A review in extenso of Comte's answer to this question would lead us into all the inextricable mazes of the nebular hypothesis, and involve us in a more extended discussion than our space permits and our limited scientific knowledge justifies. For the masses of the people the whole question of cosmical development resolves itself into "a balancing of authorities;" they are not in a position to verify the reasonings for and against this theory by actual observation of astral phenomena, and the application of mathematical calculus; they are, therefore, guided by balancing in their own minds the statements of the distinguished astronomers who, by the united suffrages of the scientific world, are regarded as "authorities." For us, at present, it is enough that the nebular hypothesis is rejected by some of the greatest astronomers that have lived. We need only mention the names of Sir William Herschel, Sir John Herschel, Prof. Nichol, Earl Rosse, Sir David Brewster, and Prof. Whewell.

But if we grant that the nebular hypothesis is entitled to take rank as an established theory of the development of the solar system, it by no means proves that the solar system was formed without the intervention of intelligence and design. On this point we shall content ourselves with quoting the words of one whose encyclopædian knowledge was confessedly equal to that of Comte, and who in candor and accuracy was certainly 215 his superior. Prof. Whewell, in his "Astronomy and Physics," says: "This hypothesis by no means proves that the solar system was formed without the intervention of intelligence and design. It only transfers our view of the skill exercised and the means employed to another part of the work; for how came the sun and its atmosphere to have such materials, such motions, such a constitution, and these consequences followed from their primordial condition? How came the parent vapor thus to be capable of coherence, separation, contraction, solidification? How came the laws of its motion, attraction, repulsion, condensation, to be so fixed as to lead to a beautiful and harmonious system in the end? How came it to be neither too fluid nor too tenacious, to contract neither too quickly nor too slowly for the successive formation of the several planetary bodies? How came that substance, which at one time was a luminous vapor, to be at a subsequent period solids and fluids of many various kinds? What but design and intelligence prepared and tempered this previously-existing element, so that it should, by its natural changes, produce such an orderly system"? 262 "The laws of motion alone will not produce the regularity which we admire in the motion of the heavenly bodies. There must be an original adjustment of the system on which these laws are to act; a selection of the arbitrary quantities which they are to involve; a primitive cause which shall dispose the elements in due relation to each other, in order that regular recurrence may accompany constant change, and that perpetual motion may be combined with perpetual stability." 263

Footnote 262: (return) "Astronomy and Physics," p. 109.
Footnote 263: (return) Chalmers's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 119.

The harmony of the solar system in all its phenomena does not depend upon the operation of any one law, but from the special adjustment of several laws. There are certain agents operating throughout the entire system which have different properties, and which require special adjustment to each other, in order to their beneficial operation. 1st. There is Gravitation, prevailing apparently through all space. But it does not 216 prevail alone. It is a force whose function is to balance other forces of which we know little, except that these, again, are needed to balance the force of gravitation. Each force, if left to itself, would be the destruction of the universe. Were it not for the force of gravitation, the centrifugal forces which impel the planets would fling them off into space. Were it not for these centrifugal forces, the force of gravitation would dash them against the sun. The ultimate fact of astronomical science, therefore, is not the law of gravitation, but the adjustment between this law and other laws, so as to produce and maintain the existing order. 264 2d. There is Light, flowing from numberless luminaries; and Heat, radiating everywhere from the warmer to the colder regions; and there are a number of adjustments needed in order to the beneficial operation of these agents. Suppose we grant that by merely mechanical causes the sun became the centre of our system, how did it become also the source of its vivifying influences? "How was the fire deposited on this hearth? How was the candle placed on this candlestick?" 3d. There is an all-pervading Ether, through which light is transmitted, which offers resistance to the movement of the planetary and cometary bodies, and tends to a dissipation of mechanical energy, and which needs to be counter-balanced by well-adjusted arrangements to secure the stability of the solar system. All this balancing of opposite properties and forces carries our minds upward towards Him who holds the balances in his hands, and to a Supreme Intelligence on whose adjustments and collocations the harmony and stability of the universe depends. 265

Footnote 264: (return) Duke of Argyll, "Reign of Law," pp. 91, 92.
Footnote 265: (return) M'Cosh, "Typical Forms and Special Ends," ch. xiii.

The recognition of all teleology of organs in vegetable and animal physiology is also persistently repudiated by this school. When Cuvier speaks of the combination of organs in such order as to adapt the animal to the part which it has to play in nature, Geoffroy Saint Hilaire replies, "I know nothing of animals which have to play a part in nature." "I have read, 217 concerning fishes, that, because they live in a medium which resists more than air, their motive forces are calculated so as to give them the power of progression under these circumstances. By this mode of reasoning, you would say of a man who makes use of crutches, that he was originally destined to the misfortune of having a leg paralyzed or amputated. 266 "With a modesty which savors of affectation, he says, "I ascribe no intentions to God, for I mistrust the feeble powers of my reason. I observe facts merely, and go no farther. I only pretend to the character of the historian of what is." "I can not make Nature an intelligent being who does nothing in vain, who acts by the shortest mode, who does all for the best." 267 All the supposed consorting of means to ends which has hitherto been regarded as evidencing Intelligence is simply the result of "the elective affinities of organic elements" and "the differentiation of organs" consequent mainly upon exterior conditions. "Functions are a result, not an end. The animal undergoes the kind of life that his organs impose, and submits to the imperfections of his organization. The naturalist studies the play of his apparatus, and if he has the right of admiring most of its parts, he has likewise that of showing the imperfection of other parts, and the practical uselessness of those which fulfill no functions." 268 And it is further claimed that there are a great many structures which are clearly useless; that is, they fulfill no purpose at all. Thus there are monkeys, which have no thumbs for use, but only rudimental thumb-bones hid beneath the skin; the wingless bird of New Zealand (Apteryx) has wing-bones similarly developed, which serve no purpose; young whalebone whales are born with teeth that never cut the gums, and are afterwards absorbed; and some sheep have horns turned about their ears which fulfill no end. And inasmuch as there are some organisms in nature which serve no purpose of 218 utility, it is argued there is no design in nature; things are used because there are antecedent conditions favorable for use, but that use is not the end for which the organ exists. The true naturalist will never say, "Birds have wings given them in order to fly;" he will rather say, "Birds fly because they have wings." The doctrine of final causes must, therefore, be abandoned.

Footnote 266: (return) Whewell, "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. ii. p. 486.
Footnote 267: (return) Id., ib., vol. ii. p. 490.
Footnote 268: (return) Martin's "Organic Unity in Animals and Vegetables," in M. Q. Review, January, 1863.

It is hardly worth while to reply to the lame argument of Geoffroy, which needs a "crutch" for its support. The very illustration, undignified and irrelevant as it is, tells altogether against its author. For, first, the crutch is certainly a contrivance designed for locomotion; secondly, the length and strength and lightness of the crutch are all matters of calculation and adjustment; and, thirdly, all the adaptations of the crutch are well-considered, in order to enable the lame man to walk; the function of the crutch is the final cause of its creation. This crutch is clearly out of place in Geoffroy's argument, and utterly breaks down. It is in its place in the teleological argument, and stands well, though it may not behave as well as the living limb. The understanding of a child can perceive that the design-argument does not assert that men were intended to have amputated limbs, but that crutches are designed for those whose limbs are paralyzed or amputated.

The existence of useless members, of rudimentary and abortive limbs, does seem, at first sight, to be unfavorable to the idea of supremacy of purpose and all-pervading design. It should be remarked, however, that this is an argument based upon our ignorance, and not upon our knowledge. It does not by any means follow that because we have discovered no reasons for their existence, therefore there are no reasons. Science, in enlarging its conquests of nature, is perpetually discovering the usefulness of arrangements of which our fathers were ignorant, and the reasons of things which to their minds, were concealed; and it ill becomes the men who so far "mistrust their own feeble powers" as to be afraid of ascribing any intention to God or nature, to dogmatically affirm there is no purpose in the existence of any thing. And then we may ask, 219 what right have these men to set up the idea of "utility" as the only standard to which the Creator must conform? How came they to know that God is a mere "utilitarian;" or, if they do not believe in God, that nature is a miserable "Benthamite?" Why may not the idea of beauty, of symmetry, of order, be a standard for the universe, as much as the idea of utility, or mere subordination to some practical end? May not conformity to one grand and comprehensive plan, sweeping over all nature, be perfectly compatible with the adaptation of individual existences to the fulfillment of special ends? In civil architecture we have conformity to a general plan; we have embellishment and ornament, and we have adaptation to a special purpose, all combined; why may not these all be combined in the architecture of the universe? The presence of any one of these is sufficient to prove design, for mere ornament or beauty is itself a purpose, an object, and an end. The concurrence of all these is an overwhelming evidence of design. Wherever found, they are universally recognized as the product of intelligence; they address themselves at once to the intelligence of man, and they place him in immediate relation to and in deepest sympathy with the Intelligence which gave them birth. He that formed the eye of man to see, and the heart of man to admire beauty, shall He not delight in it? He that gave the hand of man its cunning to create beauty, shall He not himself work for it? And if man can and does combine both "ornament" and "use" in one and the same implement or machine, why should not the Creator of the world do the same? "When the savage carves the handle of his war-club, the immediate purpose of his carving is to give his own hand a firmer hold. But any shapeless scratches would be enough for this. When he carves it in an elaborate pattern, he does so for the love of ornament, and to satisfy the sense of beauty." And so "the harmonies, on which all beauty depends, are so connected in nature that use and ornament may often both arise out of the same conditions." 269

Footnote 269: (return) Duke of Argyll, "Reign of Law," p. 203.

The "true naturalist," therefore, recognizes two great principles pervading the universe--a principle of order--a unity of plan, and a principle of special adaptation, by which each object, though constructed upon a general plan, is at the same time accommodated to the place it has to occupy and the purpose it has to serve. In other words, there is homology of structure and analogy of function, conformity to archetypal forms and Teleology of organs, in wonderful combination. Now, in the Materialistic school, it has been the prevalent practice to set up the unity of plan in animal structures, in opposition to the principle of Final Causes: Morphology has been opposed to Teleology. But in nature there is no such opposition; on the contrary, there is a beautiful co-ordination. The same bones, in different animals, are made subservient to the widest possible diversity of functions. The same limbs are converted into fins, paddles, wings, legs, and arms. "No comparative anatomist has the slightest hesitation in admitting that the pectoral fin of a fish, the wing of a bird, the paddle of the dolphin, the fore-leg of a deer, the wing of a bat, and the arm of a man, are the same organs, notwithstanding that their forms are so varied, and the uses to which they are applied so unlike each other." 270 All these are homologous in structure--they are formed after an ideal archetype or model, but that model or type is variously modified to adapt the animal to the sphere of life in which it is destined to move, and the organ itself to the functions it has to perform, whether swimming, flying, walking, or burrowing, or that varied manipulation of which the human hand is capable. These varied modifications of the vertebrated type, for special purposes, are unmistakable examples of final causation. Whilst the silent members, the rudimental limbs instanced by Oken, Martins, and others--as fulfilling no purpose, and serving no end, exist in conformity to an ideal archetype on which the bony skeletons of all vertebrated animals are formed, 271 and which has never been departed from since 221 time began. This type, or model, or plan, is, however, itself an evidence of design as much as the plan of a house. For to what standard are we referring when we say that two limbs are morphologically the same? Is it not an ideal plan, a mental pattern, a metaphysical conception? Now an ideal implies a mind which preconceived the idea, and in which alone it really exists. It is only as "an order of Divine thought" that the doctrine of animal homologies is at all intelligible; and Homology is, therefore, the science which traces the outward embodiment of a Divine Idea. 272 The principle of intentionality or final causation, then, is not in any sense invalidated by the discovery of "a unity of plan" sweeping through the entire universe.

Footnote 270: (return) Carpenter's "Comparative Physiology," p. 37.
Footnote 271: (return) Agassiz, "Essay on Classification," p. 10.
Footnote 272: (return) Whewell's "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. i. p. 644; "The Reign of Law," p. 208; Agassiz, "Essay on Classification," pp. 9-11.

We conclude that we are justly entitled to regard "the principle of intentionality" as a primary and necessary law of thought, under which we can not avoid conceiving and describing the facts of the universe--the special adaptation of means to ends necessarily implies mind. Whenever and wherever we observe the adaptation of an organism to the fulfillment of a special end, we can not avoid conceiving of that end as foreseen and premeditated, the means as selected and adjusted with a view to that end, and creative energy put forth to secure the end--all which is the work of intelligence and will. 273 And we can not describe these facts of nature, so as to render that account intelligible to other minds, without using such terms as "contrivance," "purpose," "adaptation," "design." A striking illustration of this may be found in Darwin's volume "On the Fertilization of Orchids." We select from his volume with all the more pleasure because he is one of the writers who enjoins "caution in ascribing intentions to nature." In one sentence he says: "The Labellum is developed into a long nectary, in order to attract Lepidoptera; and we shall presently give reasons for suspecting the nectar is purposely so lodged that it can 222 be sucked only slowly, in order to give time for the curious chemical quality of the viscid matter settling hard and dry" (p. 29). Of one particular structure he says: "This contrivance of the guiding ridges may be compared to the little instrument sometimes used for guiding a thread into the eye of a needle." The notion that every organism has a use or purpose seems to have guided him in his discoveries. "The strange position of the Labellum, perched on the summit of the column, ought to have shown me that here was the place for experiment. I ought to have scorned the notion that the Labellum was thus placed for no good purpose. I neglected this plain guide, and for a long time completely failed to understand the flower" (p. 262). 274

Footnote 273: (return) Carpenter's "Principles of Comparative Physiology," p. 723.
Footnote 274: (return) Edinburgh Review, October, 1862; article, "The Supernatural."

So that the assumption of final causes has not, as Bacon affirms, "led men astray" and "prejudiced further discovery;" on the contrary, it has had a large share in every discovery in anatomy and physiology, zoology and botany. The use of every organ has been discovered by starting from the assumption that it must have some use. The belief in a creative purpose led Harvey to discover the circulation of the blood. He says: "When I took notice that the valves in the veins of so many parts of the body were so placed that they gave a free passage to the blood towards the heart, but opposed the passage of the venal blood the contrary way, I was incited to imagine that so provident a cause as Nature has not placed so many valves without design, and no design seemed more probable than the circulation of the blood." 275 The wonderful discoveries in Zoology which have immortalized the name of Cuvier were made under the guidance of this principle. He proceeds on the supposition not only that animal forms have some plan, some purpose, but that they have an intelligible plan, a discoverable purpose. At the outset of his "Règne Animal" he says: "Zoology has a principle of reasoning which is peculiar to it, and which it employs to advantage on many occasions; that is, 223 the principle of the conditions of existence, commonly called final causes." 276 The application of this principle enabled him to understand and arrange the structures of animals with astonishing clearness and completeness of order; and to restore the forms of extinct animals which are found in the rocks, in a manner which excited universal admiration, and has commanded universal assent. Indeed, as Professor Whewell remarks, at the conclusion of his "History of the Inductive Sciences," "those who have been discoverers in science have generally had minds, the disposition of which was to believe in an intelligent Maker of the universe, and that the scientific speculations which produced an opposite tendency were generally those which, though they might deal familiarly with known physical truths, and conjecture boldly with regard to unknown, do not add to the number of solid generalizations." 277

Footnote 275: (return) "History of Inductive Science," vol. ii. p. 449.
Footnote 276: (return) "History of Inductive Science," vol. ii. p. 2, Eng. ed.
Footnote 277: (return) Ibid., vol. ii. p. 491. A list of the "great discoverers" is given in his "Astronomy and Physics," bk. iii. ch. v.


THE UNKNOWN GOD (continued).


"The faith which can not stand unless buttressed by contradictions is built upon the sand. The profoundest faith is faith in the unity of truth. If there is found any conflict in the results of a right reason, no appeal to practical interests, or traditionary authority, or intuitional or theological faith, can stay the flood of skepticism."--ABBOT.

In the previous chapter we have considered the answers to this question which are given by the Idealistic and Materialistic schools; it devolves upon us now to review (iii.) the position of the school of Natural Realism or Natural Dualism, at the head of which stands Sir William Hamilton.

It is admitted by this school that philosophic knowledge is "the knowledge of effects as dependent on their causes," 278 and "of qualities as inherent in substances." 279

Footnote 278: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 58.
Footnote 279: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 138.

1. As to Events and Causes.--"Events do not occur isolated, apart, by themselves; they occur and are conceived by us only in connection. Our observation affords us no example of a phenomenon which is not an effect; nay, our thought can not even realize to itself the possibility of a phenomenon without a cause. By the necessity we are under of thinking some cause for every phenomenon, and by our original ignorance of what particular causes belong to what particular effects, it is rendered impossible for us to acquiesce in the mere knowledge of the fact of the phenomenon; on the contrary, we are determined, we are necessitated to regard each phenomenon as only partially known until we discover the causes on which it depends for its existence. 280 Philosophic knowledge is thus, in its widest 225 acceptation, the knowledge of effects as dependent on causes. Now what does this imply? In the first place, as every cause to which we can ascend is only an effect, it follows that it is the scope, that is, the aim, of philosophy to trace up the series of effects and causes until we arrive at causes which are not in themselves effects," 281--that is, to ultimate and final causes. And then, finally, "Philosophy, as the knowledge of effects in their causes, necessarily tends, not towards a plurality of ultimate or final causes, but towards one alone." 282

Footnote 280: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 56.
Footnote 281: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 58.
Footnote 282: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 60.

2. As to Qualities and Substance, or Phenomena and Reality.--As phenomena appear only in conjunction, we are compelled, by the constitution of our nature, to think them conjoined in and by something; and as they are phenomena, we can not think them phenomena of nothing, but must regard them as properties or qualities of something. 283 Now that which manifests its qualities--in other words, that in which the appearing causes inhere, that to which they belong--is called their subject, or substance, or substratum. 284 The subject of one grand series of phenomena (as, e.g., extension, solidity, figure, etc.) is called matter, or material substance. The subject of the other grand series of phenomena (as, e.g., thought, feeling, volition, etc.) is termed mind, or mental substance. We may, therefore, lay it down as an undisputed truth that consciousness gives, as an ultimate fact, a primitive duality--a knowledge of the ego in relation and contrast to the non-ego, and a knowledge of the non-ego in relation and contrast to the ego 285 Natural Dualism thus establishes the existence of two worlds of mind and matter on the immediate knowledge we possess of both series of phenomena; whilst the Cosmothetic Idealists discredit the veracity of consciousness as to our immediate knowledge of material phenomena, and, consequently, our immediate knowledge of the existence of matter. 286

Footnote 283: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.
Footnote 284: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.
Footnote 285: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 292.
Footnote 286: (return) Ibid., vol. i. pp. 292, 295.

The obvious doctrine of the above quotations is, that we 226 have an immediate knowledge of the "existence of matter" as well as of "the phenomena of matter;" that is, we know "substance" as immediately and directly as we know "qualities." Phenomena are known only as inherent in substance; substance is known only as manifesting its qualities. We never know qualities without knowing substance, and we can never know substance without knowing qualities. Both are known in one concrete act; substance is known quite as much as quality; quality is known no more than substance. That we have a direct, immediate, presentative "face to face" knowledge of matter and mind in every act of consciousness is asserted again and again by Hamilton, in his "Philosophy of Perception." 287 In the course of the discussion he starts the question, "Is the knowledge of mind and matter equally immediate?" His answer to this question may be condensed in the following sentences. In regard to the immediate knowledge of mind there is no difficulty; it is admitted to be direct and immediate. The problem, therefore, exclusively regards the intuitive perception of the qualities of matter. Now, says Hamilton, "if we interrogate consciousness concerning the point in question, the response is categorical and clear. In the simplest act of perception I am conscious of myself as a perceiving subject, and of an external reality as the object perceived; and I am conscious of both existences in the same indivisible amount of intuition." 288 Again he says, "I have frequently asserted that in perception we are conscious of the external object, immediately and in itself." "If, then, the veracity of consciousness be unconditionally admitted--if the intuitive knowledge of matter and mind, and the consequent reality of their antithesis, be taken as truths," the doctrine of Natural Realism is established, and, "without any hypothesis or demonstration, the reality of mind and the reality of matter." 289

Footnote 287: (return) Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, part ii.
Footnote 288: (return) Ibid., p. 181.
Footnote 289: (return) Ibid., pp. 34, 182.

Now, after these explicit statements that we have an intuitive knowledge of matter and mind--a direct and immediate 227 consciousness of self as a real, "self-subsisting entity," and a knowledge of "an external reality, immediately and in itself," it seems unaccountably strange that Hamilton should assert "that all human knowledge, consequently all human philosophy, is only of the Relative or Phenomenal;" 290 and that "of existence absolutely and in itself we know nothing." 291 Whilst teaching that the proper sphere and aim of philosophy is to trace secondary causes up to ultimate or first causes, and that it necessarily tends towards one First and Ultimate Cause, he at the same time asserts that "first causes do not lie within the reach of philosophy," 292 and that it can never attain to the knowledge of the First Cause. 293 "The Infinite God can not, by us, be comprehended, conceived, or thought." 294 God, as First Cause, as infinite, as unconditioned, as eternal, is to us absolutely "The Unknown." The science of Real Being--of Being in se--of self-subsisting entities, is declared to be impossible. All science is only of the phenomenal, the conditioned, the relative. Ontology is a delusive dream. Thus, after pages of explanations and qualifications, of affirmations and denials, we find Hamilton virtually assuming the same position as Comte and Mill--all human knowledge is necessarily confined to phenomena.

Footnote 290: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 136.
Footnote 291: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 138.
Footnote 292: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 58.
Footnote 293: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 60.
Footnote 294: (return) Ibid., vol. ii. p. 375.

It has been supposed that the chief glory of Sir William Hamilton rested upon his able exposition and defense of the doctrine of Natural Realism. There are, however, indications in his writings that he regarded "the Philosophy of the Conditioned" as his grand achievement. The Law of the Conditioned had "not been generalized by any previous philosopher;" and, in laying down that law, he felt that he had made a new and important contribution to speculative thought.

The principles upon which this philosophy is based are:

1. The Relativity of all Human Knowledge.--Existence is not cognized absolutely and in itself, but only under special modes which are related to our faculties, and, in fact, determined by 228 these faculties themselves. All knowledge, therefore, is relative--that is, it is of phenomena only, and of phenomena "under modifications determined by our own faculties." Now, as the Absolute is that which exists out of all relation either to phenomena or to our faculties of knowledge, it can not possibly be known.

2. The Conditionality of all Thinking.--Thought necessarily supposes conditions. "To think is to condition; and conditional limitation is the fundamental law of the possibility of thought. As the eagle can not out-soar the atmosphere in which he floats, and by which alone he is supported, so the mind can not transcend the sphere of limitation within and through which the possibility of thought is realized. Thought is only of the conditioned, because, as we have said, to think is to condition." 295 Now the Infinite is the unlimited, the unconditioned, and as such can not possibly be thought.

3. The notion of the Infinite--the Absolute, as entertained by man, is a mere "negation of thought."--By this Hamilton does not mean that the idea of the Infinite is a negative idea. "The Infinite and the Absolute are only the names of two counter imbecilities of the human mind" 296--that is, a mental inability to conceive an absolute limitation, or an infinite illimitation; an absolute commencement, or an infinite non-commencement. In other words, of the absolute and infinite we have no conception at all, and, consequently, no knowledge. 297

The grand law which Hamilton generalizes from the above is, "that the conceivable is in every relation bounded by the inconceivable." Or, again, "The conditioned or the thinkable lies between two extremes or poles; and these extremes or poles are each of them unconditioned, each of them inconceivable, each of them exclusive or contradictory of the other." 298 This is the celebrated "Law of the Conditioned."

Footnote 295: (return) "Discussions," p. 21.
Footnote 296: (return) Ibid., p. 28.
Footnote 297: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 368, 373.
Footnote 298: (return) Ibid., vol. ii. p. 373.

In attempting a brief criticism of "the Philosophy of the Conditioned," we may commence by inquiring:


I. What is the real import and significance of the doctrine "that all human knowledge is only of the relative or phenomenal?"

Hamilton calls this "the great axiom" of philosophy. That we may distinctly comprehend its meaning, and understand its bearing on the subject under discussion, we must ascertain the sense in which he uses the words "phenomenal" and "relative." The importance of an exact terminology is fully appreciated by our author; and accordingly, in three Lectures (VIII., IX., X.), he has given a full explication of the terms most commonly employed in philosophic discussions. Here the word "phenomenon" is set down as the necessary "correlative" of the word "subject" or "substance." "These terms can not be explained apart, for each is correlative of the other, each can be comprehended only in and through its correlative. The term 'subject' is used to denote the unknown (?) basis which lies under the various phenomena or properties of which we become aware, whether in our external or internal experience." 299 "The term 'relative' is opposed to the term 'absolute;' therefore, in saying that we know only the relative, I virtually assert that we know nothing absolutely, that is, in and for itself, and without relation to us and our faculties." 300 Now, in the philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, "the absolute" is defined as "that which is aloof from relation"--"that which is out of all relation." 301 The absolute can not, therefore, be "the correlative" of the conditioned--can not stand in any relation to the phenomenal. The subject, however, is the necessary correlative of the phenomenal, and, consequently, the subject and the absolute are not identical. Furthermore, Hamilton tells us the subject may be comprehended in and through its correlative--the phenomenon; but the absolute, being aloof from all relation, can not be comprehended or conceived at all. "The subject" and "the absolute" are, therefore, not synonymous terms; and, if they are not synonymous, then their antithetical terms, "phenomenal" and "relative," can not be synonymous.

Footnote 299: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 148.
Footnote 300: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 137.
Footnote 301: (return) "Discussions," p. 21.

It is manifest, however, that Hamilton does employ these terms as synonymous, and this we apprehend is the first false step in his philosophy of the conditioned. "All our knowledge is of the relative or phenomenal." Throughout the whole of Lectures VIII. and IX., in which he explains the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge, these terms are used as precisely analogous. Now, in opposition to this, we maintain that the relative is not always the phenomenal. A thing may be "in relation" and yet not be a phenomenon. "The subject or substance" may be, and really is, on the admission of Hamilton himself, correlated to the phenomenon. The ego, "the conscious subject" 302 as a "self-subsisting entity" is necessarily related to the phenomena of thought, feeling, etc.; but no one would repudiate the idea that the conscious subject is a mere phenomenon, or "series of phenomena," with more indignation than Hamilton. Notwithstanding the contradictory assertion, "that the subject is unknown," he still teaches, with equal positiveness, "that in every act of perception I am conscious of self, as a perceiving subject." And still more explicitly he says: "As clearly as I am conscious of existing, so clearly am I conscious, at every moment of my existence, that the conscious Ego is not itself a mere modification [a phenomenon], nor a series of modifications [phenomena], but that it is itself different from all its modifications, and a self-subsisting entity." 303 Again: "Thought is possible only in and through the consciousness of Self. The Self, the I, is recognized in every act of intelligence as the subject to which the act belongs. It is I that perceive, I that imagine, I that remember, etc.; these special modes are all only the phenomena of the I." 304 We are, therefore, conscious of the subject in the most immediate, and direct, and intuitive manner, and the subject of which we are conscious can not be "unknown." We regret that so distinguished a philosophy should deal in such palpable contradictions; but it is the inevitable consequence of violating that 231 fundamental principle of philosophy on which Hamilton so frequently and earnestly insists, viz., "that the testimony of consciousness must be accepted in all its integrity".

Footnote 302: (return) Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton (edited by O.W. Wight), p. 181.
Footnote 303: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 373.
Footnote 304: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 166.

It is thus obvious that, with proper qualifications, we may admit the relativity of human knowledge, and yet at the same time reject the doctrine of Hamilton, that all human knowledge is only of the phenomenal.

"The relativity of human knowledge," like most other phrases into which the word "relative" enters, is vague, and admits of a variety of meanings. If by this phrase is meant "that we can not know objects except as related to our faculties, or as our faculties are related to them," we accept the statement, but regard it as a mere truism leading to no consequences, and hardly worth stating in words. It is simply another way of saying that, in order to an object's being known, it must come within the range of our intellectual vision, and that we can only know as much as we are capable of knowing. Or, if by this phrase is meant "that we can only know things by and through the phenomena they present," we admit this also, for we can no more know substances apart from their properties, than we can know qualities apart from the substances in which they inhere. Substances can be known only in and through their phenomena. Take away the properties, and the thing has no longer any existence. Eliminate extension, form, density, etc., from matter, and what have you left? "The thing in itself," apart from its qualities, is nothing. Or, again, if by the relativity of knowledge is meant "that all consciousness, all thought are relative," we accept this statement also. To conceive, to reflect, to know, is to deal with difference and relation; the relation of subject and object; the relation of objects among themselves; the relation of phenomena to reality, of becoming to being. The reason of man is unquestionably correlated to that which is beyond phenomena; it is able to apprehend the necessary relation between phenomena and being, extension and space, succession and time, event and cause, the finite and the infinite. We may thus admit the relative 232 character of human thought, and at the same time deny that it is an ontological disqualification. 305

It is not, however, in any of these precise forms that Hamilton holds the doctrine of the relativity of knowledge. He assumes a middle place between Reid and Kant, and endeavors to blend the subjective idealism of the latter with the realism of the former. "He identifies the phenomenon of the German with the quality of the British philosophy," 306 and asserts, as a regulative law of thought, that the quality implies the substance, and the phenomenon the noumenon, but makes the substratum or noumenon (the object in itself) unknown and unknowable. The "phenomenon" of Kant was, however, something essentially different from the "quality" of Reid. In the philosophy of Kant, phenomenon means an object as we envisage or represent it to ourselves, in opposition to the noumenon, or a thing as it is in itself. The phenomenon is composed, in part, of subjective elements supplied by the mind itself; as regards intuition, the forms of space and time; as regards thought, the categories of Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Modality. To perceive a thing in itself would be to perceive it neither in space nor in time. To think a thing in itself would be not to think it under any of the categories. The phenomenal is thus the product of the inherent laws of our own constitution, and, as such, is the sum and limit of all our knowledge. 307

Footnote 305: (return) Martineau's "Essays," p. 234.
Footnote 306: (return) M'Cosh's "Defense of Fundamental Truth," p. 106.
Footnote 307: (return) Mansel's "Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant," pp. 21, 22.

This, in its main features, is evidently the doctrine propounded by Hamilton. The special modes in which existence is cognizable" are presented to, and known by, the mind under modifications determined by the faculties themselves." 308 This doctrine he illustrates by the following supposition: "Suppose the total object of consciousness in perception is=12; and suppose that the external reality contributes 6, the material sense 3, 233 and the mind 3; this may enable you to form some rude conjecture of the nature of the object of perception." 309 The conclusion at which Hamilton arrives, therefore, is that things are not known to us as they exist, but simply as they appear, and as our minds are capable of perceiving them.

Footnote 308: (return) Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 148.
Footnote 309: (return) Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 129; and also vol. i. p. 147.

Let us test the validity of this majestic deliverance. No man is justified in making this assertion unless, 1. He knows things as they exist; 2. He knows things not only as they exist but as they appear; 3. He is able to compare things as they exist with the same things as they appear. Now, inasmuch as Sir William Hamilton affirms we do not know things as they exist, but only as they appear, how can he know that there is any difference between things as they exist and as they appear? What is this "thing in itself" about which Hamilton has so much to say, and yet about which he professes to know nothing? We readily understand what is meant by the thing; it is the object as existing--a substance manifesting certain characteristic qualities. But what is meant by in itself? There can be no in itself besides or beyond the thing. If Hamilton means that "the thing itself" is the thing apart from all relation, and devoid of all properties or qualities, we do not acknowledge any such thing. A thing apart from all relation, and devoid of all qualities, is simply pure nothing, if such a solecism may be permitted. With such a definition of Being in se, the logic of Hegel is invincible, "Being and Nothing are identical."

And now, if "the thing in itself" be, as Hamilton says it is, absolutely unknown, how can he affirm or deny any thing in regard to it? By what right does he prejudge a hidden reality, and give or refuse its predicates; as, for example, that it is conditioned or unconditioned, in relation or aloof from relation, finite or infinite? Is it not plain that, in declaring a thing in its inmost nature or essence to be inscrutable, it is assumed to be partially known? And it is obvious, notwithstanding some unguarded expressions to the contrary, that Hamilton does 234 regard "the thing in itself" as partially known. "The external reality" is, at least, six elements out of twelve in the "total object of consciousness." 310 The primary qualities of matter are known as in the things themselves; "they develop themselves with rigid necessity out of the simple datum of substance occupying space." 311 "The Primary Qualities are apprehended as they are in bodies"--"they are the attributes of body as body," and as such "are known immediately in themselves," 312 as well as mediately by their effects upon us. So that we not only know by direct consciousness certain properties of things as they exist in things themselves, but we can also deduce them in an à priori manner. "The bare notion of matter being given, the Primary Qualities may be deduced à priori; they being, in fact, only evolutions of the conditions which that notion necessarily implies." If, then, we know the qualities of things as "in the things themselves," "the things themselves" must also be, at least, partially known; and Hamilton can not consistently assert the relativity of all knowledge. Even if it be granted that our cognitions of objects are only in part dependent on the objects themselves, and in part on elements superadded by our organism, or by our minds, it can not warrant the assertion that all our knowledge, but only the part so added, is relative. "The admixture of the relative element not only does not take away the absolute character of the remainder, but does not even (if our author is right) prevent us from recognizing it. The confusion, according to him, is not inextricable. It is for us 'to analyze and distinguish what elements,' in an 'act of knowledge,' are contributed by the object, and what by the organs or by the mind." 313

Footnote 310: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 129.
Footnote 311: (return) Philosophy of Sir Wm. Hamilton, p. 357.
Footnote 312: (return) Ibid., pp. 377, 378.
Footnote 313: (return) Mill's "Examination of Hamilton's Philosophy," vol. i. p. 44.

Admitting the relative character of human thought as a psychological fact, Mr. Martineau has conclusively shown that this law, instead of visiting us with disability to transcend phenomena, operates as a revelation of what exists beyond. "The finite 235 body cut out before our visual perception, or embraced by the hands, lies as an island in the emptiness around, and without comparative reference to this can not be represented: the same experience which gives us the definite object gives us also the infinite space; and both terms--the limited appearance and the unlimited ground--are apprehended with equal certitude and clearness, and furnished with names equally susceptible of distinct use in predication and reasoning. The transient successions, for instance, the strokes of a clock, which we count, present themselves to us as dotted out upon a line of permanent duration; of which, without them, we should have no apprehension, but which as their condition, is unreservedly known." 314

"What we have said with regard to space and time applies equally tο the case of Causation. Here, too, the finite offered to perception introduces to an Infinite supplied by thought. As a definite body reveals also the space around, and an interrupted succession exhibits the uniform time beneath, so does the passing phenomenon demand for itself a power beneath. The space, and time, and power, not being part of the thing perceived, but its conditions, are guaranteed to us, therefore, on the warrant, not of sense, but of intellect." 315

"We conclude, then, on reviewing these examples of Space, and Time, and Causation, that ontological ideas introducing us to certain fixed entities belong no less to our knowledge than scientific ideas of phenomenal disposition and succession." 316 In these instances of relation between a phenomenon given in perception and an entity as a logical condition, the correlatives are on a perfect equality of intellectual validity, and the relative character of human thought is not an ontological disqualification, but a cognitive power.

Footnote 314: (return) "Essays," pp. 193,194.
Footnote 315: (return) Ibid., p. 197.
Footnote 316: (return) Ibid., p. 195.

There is a thread of fallacy running through the whole of Hamilton's reasonings, consequent upon a false definition of the Absolute at the outset. The Absolute is defined as that which exists in and by itself, aloof from and out of all relation. An absolute, as thus defined, does not and can not exist; it is 236 a pure abstraction, and, in fact, a pure non-entity. "The Absolute expresses perfect independence both in being and in action, and is applicable to God as self-existent." 317 It may mean the absence of all necessary relation, but it does not mean the absence of all relation. If God can not voluntarily call a finite existence into being, and thus stand in the relation of cause, He is certainly under the severest limitation. But surely that is not a limit which substitutes choice for necessity. To be unable to know God out of all relation--that is, apart from his attributes, apart from his created universe, is not felt by us to be any privation at all. A God without attributes, and out of all relations, is for us no God at all. God as a being of unlimited perfection, as infinitely wise and good, as the unconditioned cause of all finite being, and, consequently, as voluntarily related to nature and humanity, we can and do know; this is the living and true God. The God of a false philosophy is not the true God; the pure abstractions of Hegel and Hamilton are negations, and not realities.

2. We proceed to consider the second fundamental principle of Hamilton's philosophy of the conditioned, viz., that "conditional limitation is the fundamental law of the possibility of thought," and that thought necessarily imposes conditions on its object.

"Thought," says Hamilton, "can not transcend consciousness: consciousness is only possible under the antithesis of a subject and an object known only in correlation, and mutually limiting each other" 318 Thought necessarily supposes conditions; "to think is simply to condition," that is, to predicate limits; and as the infinite is the unlimited, it can not be thought. The very attempt to think the infinite renders it finite; therefore there can be no infinite in thought, and, consequently, the infinite can not be known.

Footnote 317: (return) Calderwood's "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 179.
Footnote 318: (return) "Discussions," p. 21.

If by "the infinite in thought" is here meant the infinite compassed or contained in thought, we readily grant that the 237 finite can not contain the infinite; it is a simple truism which no one has ever been so foolish as to deny. Even Cousin is not so unwise as to assert the absolutely comprehensibility of God. "In order absolutely to comprehend the Infinite, it is necessary to have an infinite power of comprehension, and this is not granted to us." 319 A finite mind can not have "an infinite thought." But it by no means follows that, because we can not have infinite thought, we can have no clear and definite thought of or concerning the Infinite. We have a precise and definite idea of infinitude; we can define the idea; we can set it apart without danger of being confounded with another, and we can reason concerning it. There is nothing we more certainly and intuitively know than that space is infinite, and yet we can not comprehend or grasp within the compass of our thought the infinite space. We can not form an image of infinite space, can not traverse it in perception, or represent it by any combination of numbers; but we can have the thought of it as an idea of Reason, and can argue concerning it with precision and accuracy. 320 Hamilton has an idea of the Infinite; he defines it; he reasons concerning it; he says "we must believe in the infinity of God." But how can he define the Infinite unless he possesses some knowledge, however limited, of the infinite Being? How can he believe in the infinity of God if he has no definite idea of infinitude? He can not reason about, can not affirm or deny any thing concerning, that of which he knows absolutely nothing.

Footnote 319: (return) "Lectures on History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 104.
Footnote 320: (return) "To form an image of any infinitude--be it of time or space [or power]; to go mentally through it by successive steps of representation--is indeed impossible; not less so than to traverse it in our finite perception and experience. But to have the thought of it as an idea of the reason, not of the phantasy, and assign that thought a constituent place in valid beliefs and consistent reasonings, appears to us as not only possible, but inevitable."--Martineau's "Essays," p. 205.

The grand logical barrier which Hamilton perpetually interposes to all possible cognition of God as infinite is, that to think is to condition--to limit; and as the Infinite is the unconditioned, the unlimited, therefore "the Infinite can not be 238 thought." We grant at once that all human thought is limited and finite, but, at the same time, we emphatically deny that the limitation of our thought imposes any conditions or limits upon the object of thought. No such affirmation can be consistently made, except on the Hegelian hypothesis that "Thought and Being are identical;" and this is a maxim which Hamilton himself repudiates. Our thought does not create, neither does it impose conditions upon, any thing.

There is a lurking sophism in the whole phraseology of Hamilton in regard to this subject. He is perpetually talking about "thinking a thing"--"thinking the Infinite." Now we do not think a thing, but we think of or concerning a thing. We do not think a man, neither does our thought impose any conditions upon the man, so that he must be as our thought conceives or represents him; but our thought is of the man, concerning or about the man, and is only so far true and valid as it conforms to the objective reality. And so we do not "think the Infinite;" that is, our thought neither contains nor conditions the Infinite Being, but our thoughts are about the Infinite One; and if we do not think of Him as a being of infinite perfection, our thought is neither worthy, nor just, nor true. 321

Footnote 321: (return) Calderwood's "Philosophy of the Infinite," pp. 255, 256.

But we are told the law of all thought and of all being is determination; consequently, negation of some quality or some potentiality; whereas the Infinite is "the One and the All" (τὸ Ἕν καὶ Πῦν), 322 or, as Dr. Mansel, the disciple and annotator of Hamilton, affirms, "the sum of all reality," and "the sum of all possible modes of being." 323 The Infinite, as thus defined, must include in itself all being, and all modes of being, actual and possible, not even excepting evil. And this, let it be observed, Dr. Mansel has the hardihood to affirm. "If the Absolute and the Infinite is an object of human conception at all, this, and none other, is the conception required." 324 "The Infinite Whole," as thus defined, can not be thought, and therefore 239 it is argued the Infinite God can not be known. Such a doctrine shocks our moral sense, and we shrink from the thought of an Infinite which includes evil. There is certainly a moral impropriety, if not a logical impossibility, in such a conception of God.

Footnote 322: (return) Hamilton's "Lectures on Metaphysics," Appendix, vol. ii. p. 531.
Footnote 323: (return) "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 76.
Footnote 324: (return) Ibid.

The fallacy of this reasoning consists in confounding a supposed Quantitative Infinite with the Qualitative Infinite--the totality of existence with the infinitely perfect One. "Qualitative infinity is a secondary predicate; that is, the attribute of an attribute, and is expressed by the adverb infinitely rather than the adjective infinite. For instance, it is a strict use of language to say, that space is infinite, but it is an elliptical use of language to say, God is infinite. Precision of language would require us to say, God is infinitely good, wise, and great; or God is good, and his goodness is infinite. The distinction may seem trivial, but it is based upon an important difference between the infinity of space and time on the one hand, and the infinity of God on the other. Neither philosophy nor theology can afford to disregard the difference. Quantitative Infinity is illimitation by quantity. Qualitative Infinity is illimitation by degree. Quantity and degree alike imply finitude, and are categories of the finite alone. The danger of arguing from the former kind of infinitude to the latter can not be overstated. God alone possesses Qualitative Infinity, which is strictly synonymous with absolute perfection; and the neglect of the distinction between this and Quantitative Infinity, leads irresistibly to pantheistic and materialistic notions. Spinozism is possible only by the elevation of 'infinite extension' to the dignity of a divine attribute. Dr. Samuel Clarke's identification of God's immensity with space has been shown by Martin to ultimate in Pantheism. From ratiocinations concerning the incomprehensibility of infinite space and time, Hamilton and Mansel pass at once to conclusions concerning the incomprehensibility of God. The inconsequence of all such arguments is absolute; and if philosophy tolerates the transference of spatial or temporal analogies to the nature of God, she must reconcile herself 240 to the negation of his personality and spirituality." 325 An Infinite Being, quite remote from the notion of quantity, may and does exist; which, on the one hand, does not include finite existence, and, on the other hand, does not render the finite impossible to thought. Without contradiction they may coexist, and be correlated.

The thought will have already suggested itself to the mind of the reader that for Hamilton to assert that the Infinite, as thus defined (the One and the All), is absolutely unknown, is certainly the greatest absurdity, for in that case nothing can be known. This Infinite must be at least partially known, or all human knowledge is reduced to zero. To the all-inclusive Infinite every thing affirmative belongs, not only to be, but to be known. To claim it for being, yet deny it to thought, is thus impossible. The Infinite, which includes all real existence, is certainly possible to cognition.

The whole argument as regards the conditionating nature of all thought is condensed into four words by Spinoza--"Omnis determinatio est negatio;" all determination is negation. Nothing can be more arbitrary or more fallacious than this principle. It arises from the confusion of two things essentially different--the limits of a being, and its determinate and distinguishing characteristics. The limit of a being is its imperfection; the determination of a being is its perfection. The less a thing is determined, the more it sinks in the scale of being; the most determinate being is the most perfect being. "In this sense God is the only being absolutely determined. For there must be something indetermined in all finite beings, since they have all imperfect powers which tend towards their development after an indefinite manner. God alone, the complete Being in whom all powers are actualized, escapes by His own perfection from all progress, and development, and indetermination." 326

Footnote 325: (return) North American Review, October, 1864, article, "The Conditioned and the Unconditioned," pp. 422, 423. See also Young's "Province of Reason," p. 72; and Calderwood's "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 183.
Footnote 326: (return) Saisset, "Modern Pantheism," vol. ii. p. 71.

All real being must be determined; only pure Nothing can be undetermined. Determination is, however, one thing; and limitation is essentially another thing. "Even space and time, though cognized solely by negative characteristics, are determined in so far as differentiated from the existences they contain; but this differentiation involves no limitation of their infinity." If all distinction is determination, and if all determination is negation, that is (as here used), limitation, then the infinite, as distinguished from the finite, loses its own infinity, and either becomes identical with the finite, or else vanishes into pure nothing. If Hamilton will persist in affirming that all determination is limitation, he has no other alternatives but to accept the doctrine of Absolute Nihilism, or of Absolute Identity. If the Absolute is the indeterminate--that is, no attributes, no consciousness, no relations--it is pure non-being. If the Infinite is "the One and All," then there is but one substance, one absolute entity.

Herbert Spencer professes to be carrying out, a step farther, the doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel, viz., "the philosophy of the Unconditioned." In other words, he carries that doctrine forward to its rigidly logical consequences, and utters the last word which Hamilton and Mansel dare not utter--"Apprehensible by us there is no God." The Ultimate Reality is absolutely unknown; it can not be apprehended by the human intellect, and it can not present itself to the intellect at all. This Ultimate Reality can not be intelligent, because to think is to condition, and the Absolute is the unconditioned; can not be conscious, because all consciousness is of plurality and difference, and the Absolute is one; can not be personal, because personality is determination or limitation, and the Infinite is the illimitable. It is "audacious," "irreverent," "impious," to apply any of these predicates to it; to regard it as Mind, or speak of it as Righteous. 327 The ultimate goal of the philosophy of the Unconditioned is a purely subjective Atheism.

And yet of this Primary Existence--inscrutable, and 242 absolutely unknown--Spencer knows something; knows as much as he pleases to know. He knows that this "ultimate of ultimates is Force," 328 an "Omnipresent Power," 329 is "One" and "Eternal." 330 He knows also that it can not be intelligent, self-conscious, and a personality. 331 This is a great deal to affirm and deny of an existence "absolutely unknown." May we not be permitted to affirm of this hidden and unknown something that it is conscious Mind, especially as Mind is admitted to be the only analogon of Power; and "the force by which we produce change, and which serves to symbolize the causes of changes in general, is the final disclosure of analysis." 332

Footnote 327: (return) "First Principles," pp. 111, 112.
Footnote 328: (return) "First Principles," p. 235.
Footnote 329: (return) Ibid., p. 99.
Footnote 330: (return) Ibid., p. 81.
Footnote 331: (return) Ibid., pp. 108-112.
Footnote 332: (return) Ibid., p. 235.

3. We advance to the review of the third fundamental principle of Hamilton's philosophy of the Unconditioned, viz., that the terms infinite and absolute are names for a "mere negation of thought"--a "mental impotence" to think, or, in other words, the absence of all the conditions under which thought is possible.

This principle is based upon a distinction between "positive" and "negative" thought, which is made with an air of wonderful precision and accuracy in "the Alphabet of Human Thought." 333 "Thinking is positive when existence is predicated of an object." "Thinking is negative when existence is not attributed to an object." "Negative thinking," therefore, is not the thinking of an object as devoid of this or that particular attribute, but as devoid of all attributes, and thus of all existence; that is, it is "the negation of all thought"--nothing. "When we think a thing, that is done by conceiving it as possessed of certain modes of being or qualities, and the sum of these qualities constitutes its concept or notion." "When we perform an act of negative thought, this is done by thinking something as not existing in this or that determinate mode; and when we think it as existing in no determinate mode, we cease to think at all--it becomes a nothing." 334 Now the Infinite, 243 according to Hamilton, can not be thought in any determinate mode; therefore we do not think it at all, and therefore it is for us "a logical Non-entity."

Footnote 333: (return) "Discussions," Appendix I. p. 567.
Footnote 334: (return) "Logic," pp. 54, 55.

It is barely conceivable that Hamilton might imagine himself possessed of this singular power of "performing an act of negative thought"--that is, of thinking and not thinking at once, or of "thinking something" that "becomes nothing;" we are not conscious of any such power. To think without an object of thought, or to think of something without any qualities, or to think "something" which in the act of thought melts away into "nothing," is an absurdity and a contradiction. We can not think about nothing. All thought must have an object, and every object must have some predicate. Even space has some predicates--as receptivity, unity, and infinity. Thought can only be realized by thinking something existing, and existing in a determinate manner; and when we cease to think something having predicates, we cease to think at all. This is emphatically asserted by Hamilton himself. 335 "Negative thinking" is, therefore, a meaningless phrase, a contradiction in terms; it is no thought at all. We are cautioned, however, against regarding "the negation of thought" as "a negation of all mental ability." It is, we are told, "an attempt to think, and a failure in the attempt." An attempt to think about what? Surely it must be about some object, and an object which is known by some sign, else there can be no thought. Let any one make the attempt to think without something to think about, and he will find that both the process and the result are blank nothingness. All thought, therefore, as Calderwood has amply shown, is, must be, positive. "Thought is nothing else than the comparison of objects known; and as knowledge is always positive, so must our thought be. All knowledge implies an object known; and so all thought involves an object about which we think, and must, therefore, be positive--that is, it must embrace within itself the conception of certain qualities as belonging to the object." 336

Footnote 335: (return) "Logic," p. 55.
Footnote 336: (return) "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 272.

The conclusion of Hamilton's reasoning in regard to "negative thinking" is, that we can form no notion of the Infinite Being. We have no positive idea of such a Being. We can think of him only by "the thinking away of every characteristic" which can be conceived, and thus "ceasing to think at all." We can only form a "negative concept," which, we are told, "is in fact no concept at all." We can form only a "negative notion," which, we are informed, "is only the negation of a notion." This is the impenetrable abyss of total gloom and emptiness into which the philosophy of the conditions leads us at last. 337

Footnote 337: (return) Whilst Spencer accepts the general doctrine of Hamilton, that the Ultimate Reality is inscrutable, he argues earnestly against his assertion that the Absolute is a "mere negation of thought."

"Every one of the arguments by which the relativity of our knowledge is demonstrated distinctly postulates the positive existence of something beyond the relative. To say we can not know the Absolute is, by implication, to affirm there is an Absolute. In the very denial of our power to learn what the Absolute is, there lies hidden the assumption that it is; and the making of this assumption proves that the Absolute has been present to the mind, not as nothing, but as something. And so with every step in the reasoning by which the doctrine is upheld, the Noumenon, everywhere named as the antithesis of the Phenomenon, is throughout thought as actuality. It is rigorously impossible to conceive that our knowledge is a knowledge of appearances only, without, at the same time, conceiving a Reality of which these are appearances, for appearances without reality are unthinkable.

"Truly to represent or realize in thought any one of the propositions of which the argument consists, the unconditioned must be represented as positive, and not negative. How, then, can it be a legitimate conclusion from the argument that our consciousness of it is negative? An argument, the very construction of which assigns to a certain term a certain meaning, but which ends in showing that this term has no meaning, is simply an elaborate suicide. Clearly, then, the very demonstration that a definite consciousness [comprehension] of the Absolute is impossible, unavoidably presupposes an indefinite consciousness of it [an apprehension]."--"First Principles," p. 88.

Still we have the word infinite, and we have the notion which the word expresses. This, at least, is spared to us by Sir William Hamilton. He who says we have no such notion asks the question how we have it? Here it may be asked, how have we, then, the word infinite? How have we the notion which this word expresses? The answer to this question is contained in the distinction of positive and negative thought.


We have a positive concept of a thing when we think of it by the qualities of which it is the complement. But as the attribution of qualities is an affirmation, as affirmation and negation are relatives, and as relatives are known only in and through each other, we can not, therefore, have a consciousness of the affirmation of any quality without having, at the same time, the correlative consciousness of its negation. Now the one consciousness is a positive, the other consciousness is a negative notion; and as all language is the reflex of thought, the positive and negative notions are expressed by positive and negative names. Thus it is with the Infinite. 338 Now let us carefully scrutinize the above deliverance. We are told that "relatives are known only in and through each other;" that is, such relatives as finite and infinite are known necessarily in the same act of thought. The knowledge of one is as necessary as the knowledge of the other. We can not have a consciousness of the one without the correlative consciousness of the other. "For," says Hamilton, "a relation is, in truth, a thought, one and indivisible; and while the thinking a relation necessarily involves the thought of its two terms,, so it is, with equal necessity, itself involved in the thought of either." If, then, we are conscious of the two terms of the relation in the same "one and indivisible" mental act--if we can not have "the consciousness of the one without the consciousness of the other"--if space and position, time and succession, substance and quality, infinite and finite, are given to us in pairs, then 'the knowledge of one is as necessary as the knowledge of the other,' and they must stand or fall together. The finite is known no more positively than the infinite; the infinite is known as positively as the finite. The one can not be taken and the other left. The infinite, discharged from all relation to the finite, could never come into apprehension; and the finite, discharged of all relation to the infinite, is incognizable too. "There can be no objection to call the one 'positive' and the other 'negative,' provided it be understood that each is so with regard to the other, and that 246 the relation is convertible; the finite, for instance, being the negative of the infinite, not less than the infinite of the finite." 339

Footnote 338: (return) Logic, p. 73.
Footnote 339: (return) Martineau's "Essays," p. 237.

To say that the finite is comprehensible in and by itself, and the infinite is incomprehensible in and by itself, is to make an assertion utterly at variance both with psychology and logic. The finite is no more comprehensible in itself than the infinite. "Relatives are known only in and through each other." 340] "The conception of one term of a relation necessarily implies that of the other, it being the very nature of a relative to be thinkable only through the conjunct thought of its correlative." We comprehend nothing more completely than the infinite; "for the idea of illimitation is as clear, precise, and intelligible as the idea of limitability, which is its basis. The propositions "A is X" "A is not X," are equally comprehensible; the conceptions A and X are in both cases positive data of experience, while the affirmation and negation consist solely in the copulative or disjunctive nature of the predication. Consequently, if X is comprehensible, so is not--X; if the finite is comprehensible, so is the infinite." 341

Whilst denying that the infinite can by us be known, Hamilton tells us he is "far from denying that it is, must, and ought to be believed." 342 "We must believe in the infinity of God." "Faith--belief--is the organ by which we apprehend what is beyond knowledge." 343 We heartily assent to the doctrine that the Infinite Being is the object of faith, but we earnestly deny that the Infinite Being is not an object of knowledge. May not knowledge be grounded upon faith, and does not faith imply knowledge? Can we not obtain knowledge through faith? Is not the belief in the Infinite Being implied in our knowledge of finite existence? If so, then God as the infinite and perfect, God as the unconditioned Cause, is not absolutely "the unknown."

Footnote 340: (return) Hamilton's "Logic," p. 73.
Footnote 341: (return) North American Review, October, 1864, article "Conditioned and the Unconditioned," pp. 441, 442.
Footnote 342: (return) Letter to Calderwood, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 530.
Footnote 343: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 374.

A full exposition of Sir William Hamilton's views of Faith in its connection with Philosophy would have been deeply interesting to us, and it would have filled up a gap in the interpretation of his system. The question naturally presents itself, how would he have discriminated between faith and knowledge, so as to assign to each its province? If our notion of the Infinite Being rests entirely upon faith, then upon what ultimate ground does faith itself rest? On the authority of Scripture, of the Church, or of reason? The only explicit statement of his view which has fallen in our way is a note in his edition of Reid. 344 "We know what rests upon reason; we believe what rests upon authority. But reason itself must rest at last upon authority; for the original data of reason do not rest upon reason, but are necessarily accepted by reason on the authority of what is beyond itself. These data are, therefore, in rigid propriety, Beliefs or Trusts. Thus it is that, in the last resort, we must, per force, philosophically admit that belief is the primary condition of reason, and not reason the ultimate ground of belief."

Footnote 344: (return) P. 760; also Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, p. 61.

Here we have, first, an attempted distinction between faith and knowledge. "We know what rests upon reason;" that is, whatever we obtain by deduction or induction, whatever is capable of explication and proof, is knowledge. "We believe what rests upon authority;" that is, whatever we obtain by intellectual intuition or pure apperception, and is incapable of explication and of proof, is "a belief or trust." These instinctive beliefs, which are, as it were, the first principles upon which all knowledge rests, are, however, indiscriminately called by Hamilton "cognitions," "beliefs," "judgments." He declares most explicitly "that the principles of our knowledge must themselves be knowledges;" 345 and these first principles, which are "the primary condition of reason," are elsewhere called "à priori cognitions;" also "native, pure, or transcendental knowledge," in contradistinction to "à posteriori cognitions," or that 248 knowledge which is obtained in the exercise of reason. 346 All this confusion results from an attempt to put asunder what God has joined together. As Clemens of Alexandria has said, "Neither is faith without knowledge, nor knowledge without faith." All faith implies knowledge, and all knowledge implies faith. They are mingled in the one operation of the human mind, by which we apprehend first principles or ultimate truths. These have their light and dark side, as Hamilton has remarked. They afford enough light to show that they are and must be, and thus communicate knowledge; they furnish no light to show how they are and why they are, and under that aspect demand the exercise of faith. There must, therefore, first be something known before there can be any faith. 347

Footnote 345: (return) Ibid., p. 69.
Footnote 346: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 26.
Footnote 347: (return) M'Cosh, "Intuitions," pp. 197, 198; Calderwood, "Philosophy of the Infinite," p. 24.

And now we seem to have penetrated to the centre of Hamilton's philosophy, and the vital point may be touched by one crucial question, Upon what ultimate ground does faith itself rest? Hamilton says, "we believe what rests upon authority." But what is that authority? I. It is not the authority of Divine Revelation, because beliefs are called "instinctive," "native," "innate," "common," "catholic," 348 all which terms seem to indicate that this "authority" lies within the sphere of the human mind; at any rate, this faith does not rest on the authority of Scripture. Neither is it the authority of Reason. "The original data of reason [the first principles of knowledge] do not rest upon the authority of reason, but on the authority of what is beyond itself." The question thus recurs, what is this ultimate ground beyond reason upon which faith rests? Does it rest upon any thing, or nothing?

Footnote 348: (return) Philosophy of Sir Wm. Hamilton, pp. 68, 69.

The answer to this question is given in the so-called "Law of the Conditioned," which is thus laid down: "All that is conceivable in thought lies between two extremes, which, as contradictory of each other, can not both be true, but of which, as mutual contradictories, one must." For example, we conceive space, but 249 we can not conceive it as absolutely bounded or infinitely unbounded. We can conceive time, but we can not conceive it as having an absolute commencement or an infinite non-commencement. We can conceive of degree, but we can not conceive it as absolutely limited or as infinitely unlimited. We can conceive of existence, but not as an absolute part or an infinite whole. Therefore, "the Conditioned is that which is alone conceivable or cogitable; the Unconditioned, that which is inconceivable or incogitable. The conditioned, or the thinkable, lies between two extremes or poles; and each of these extremes or poles are unconditioned, each of them inconceivable, each of them exclusive or contradictory of the other. Of these two repugnant opposites, the one is that of Unconditional or Absolute Limitation; the other that of Unconditional or Infinite Illimitation, or, more simply, the Absolute and the Infinite; the term absolute expressing that which is finished or complete, the term infinite that which can not be terminated or concluded." 349

"The conditioned is the mean between two extremes--two inconditionates, exclusive of each other, neither of which can be conceived as possible, but of which, on the principle of contradiction, and excluded middle, one must be admitted as necessary. We are thus warned from recognizing the domain of our knowledge as necessarily co-extensive with the horizon of our faith. And by a wonderful revelation, we are thus, in the very consciousness of our inability to conceive aught above the relative and the finite, inspired with a belief in the existence of something unconditioned beyond the sphere of all comprehensible reality." 350 Here, then, we have found the ultimate ground of our faith in the Infinite God. It is built upon a "mental imbecility," and buttressed up by "contradictions!" 351

Footnote 349: (return) "Lectures on Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 368, 374. With Hamilton, the Unconditioned is a genus, of which the Infinite and Absolute are species.
Footnote 350: (return) "Discussions on Philosophy," p. 22.
Footnote 351: (return) The warmest admirers of Sir William Hamilton hesitate to apply the doctrine of the unconditioned to Cause and Free-will. See "Mansel's Prolegom.," Note C, p. 265.


Such a faith, however, is built upon the clouds, and the whole structure of this philosophy is "a castle in the air"--an attempt to organize Nescience into Science, and evoke something out of nothing. To pretend to believe in that respecting which I can form no notion is in reality not to believe at all. The nature which compels me to believe in the Infinite must supply me some object upon which my belief can take hold. We can not believe in contradictions. Our faith must be a rational belief--a faith in the ultimate harmony and unity of all truth, in the veracity and integrity of human reason as the organ of truth; and, above all, a faith in the veracity of God, who is the author and illuminator of our mental constitution. "We can not suppose that we are created capable of intelligence in order to be made victims of delusion--that God is a deceiver, and the root of our nature a lie." 352 We close our review of Hamilton by remarking:

Footnote 352: (return) Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, p. 21.

1. "The Law of the Conditioned," as enounced by Hamilton, is contradictory. It predicates contradiction of two extremes, which are asserted to be equally incomprehensible and incognizable. If they are utterly incognizable, how does Hamilton know that they are contradictory? The mutual relation of two objects is said to be known, but the objects themselves are absolutely unknown. But how can we know any relation except by an act of comparison, and how can we compare two objects so as to affirm their relation, if the objects are absolutely unknown? "The Infinite is defined as Unconditional Illimitation; the Absolute as Conditional Limitation. Yet almost in the same breath we are told that each is utterly inconceivable, each the mere negation of thought. On the one hand, we are told they differ; on the other, we are told they do not differ. Now which does Hamilton mean? If he insist upon the definitions as yielding a ground of conceivable difference, he must abandon the inconceivability; but if he insist upon the inconceivability, he must abandon the definition as sheer verbiage, devoid of all conceivable meaning. There is no possible 251 escape from this dilemma. Further, two negations can never contradict; for contradiction is the asserting and the denying of the same proposition; two denials can not conflict. If Illimitation is negative, Limitation, its contradictory, is positive, whether conditional or unconditional. In brief, if the Infinite and Absolute are wholly incomprehensible, they are not distinguishable; but if they are distinguishable, they are not wholly incomprehensible. If they are indistinguishable, they are to us identical; and identity precludes contradiction. But if they are distinguishable, distinction is made by difference, which involves positive cognition; hence one, at least, must be conceivable. It follows, therefore, by inexorable logic, that either the contradiction or the inconceivability must be abandoned." 353

Footnote 353: (return) North American Review, October, 1864, pp. 407, 408.

2. "The Law of the Conditioned," as a ground of faith in the Infinite Being, is utterly void, meaningless, and ineffectual. Let us re-state it in Hamilton's own words: "The conditioned is the mean between two extremes, two inconditionates exclusive of each other, neither of which can be conceived as possible, but of which, on the principle of Contradiction and Excluded Middle, one must be admitted as necessary." It is scarcely needful to explain to the intelligent reader the above logical principles; that they may, however, be clearly before the mind in this connection, we state that the principle of Contradiction is this: "A thing can not at the same time be and not be; A is, A is not, are propositions which can not both be true at once." The principle of Excluded Middle is this: "A thing either is or is not--A either is or is not B; there is no medium." 354 Now, to mention the law of Excluded Middle and two contradictories with a mean between them, in the same sentence, is really astounding. "If the two contradictory extremes are equally incogitable, yet include a cogitable mean, why insist upon the 252 necessity of accepting either extreme? This necessity of accepting one of the contradictories is wholly based upon the supposed impossibility of a mean; if a mean exists, that may be true, and both contradictories together false. But if a mean between two contradictories be both impossible and absurd, Hamilton's 'conditioned' entirely vanishes." 355 If both contradictories are equally unknown and equally unthinkable, we can not discover why, on his principles, we are bound to believe either.

Footnote 354: (return) Hamilton's "Logic," pp. 58, 59; "Metaphysics," vol. ii. p. 368.
Footnote 355: (return) North British Review, October, 1864, pp. 415, 416.

3. The whole of this confusion in thought and expression results from the habit of confounding the sensuous imagination with the non-sensuous reason, and the consequent co-ordination of an imageable conception with an abstract idea. The objects of sense and the sensuous imagination may be characterized as extension, limitation, figure, position, etc.; the objects of the non-sensuous reason may be characterized as universality, eternity, infinity. I can form an image of an extended and figured object, but I can not form an image of space, time, or God; neither, indeed, can I form an image of Goodness, Justice, or Truth. But I can have a clear and precise idea of space, and time, and God, as I can of Justice, Goodness, and Truth. There are many things which I can most surely know that I can not possibly comprehend, if to comprehend is to form a mental image of a thing. There is nothing which I more certainly know than that space is infinite, and eternity unbeginning and endless; but I can not comprehend the infinity of space or the illimitability of eternity. I know that God is, that he is a being of infinite perfection, but I can not throw my thoughts around and comprehend the infinity of God.

(iv.) We come, lastly, to consider the position of the Dogmatic Theologians. 356 In their zeal to demonstrate the necessity of Divine Revelation, and to vindicate for it the honor of supplying to us all our knowledge of God, they assail every fundamental principle of reason, often by the very weapons which are 253 supplied by an Atheistical philosophy. As a succinct presentation of the views of this school, we select the "Theological Institutes" of R. Watson.

Footnote 356: (return) Ellis, Leland, Locke, and Horsley, whose writings are extensively quoted in Watson's "Institutes of Theology" (reprinted by Carlton & Lanahan, New York).

1st. The invalidity of "the principle of causality" is asserted by this author. "We allow that the argument which proves that the effects with which we are surrounded have been caused, and thus leads us up through a chain of subordinate causes to one First Cause, has a simplicity, an obviousness, and a force which, when we are previously furnished with the idea of God, makes it, at first sight, difficult to conceive that men, under any degree of cultivation, should be inadequate to it; yet if ever the human mind commenced such an inquiry at all, it is highly probable that it would rest in the notion of an eternal succession of causes and effects, rather than acquire the ideas of creation, in the proper sense, and of a Supreme Creator." 357 "We feel that our reason rests with full satisfaction in the doctrine that all things are created by one eternal and self-existent Being; but the Greek philosophers held that matter was eternally co-existent with God. This was the opinion of Plato, who has been called the Moses of philosophy." 358

For a defense of "the principle of causality" we must refer the reader to our remarks on the philosophy of Comte. We shall now only remark on one or two peculiarities in the above statement which betray an utter misapprehension of the nature of the argument. We need scarcely direct attention to the unfortunate and, indeed, absurd phrase, "an eternal succession of causes and effects." An "eternal succession" is a contradictio in adjecto, and as such inconceivable and unthinkable. No human mind can "rest" in any such thing, because an eternal succession is no rest at all. All "succession" is finite and temporal, capable of numeration, and therefore can not be eternal. 359 Again, in attaining the conception of a First Cause the human mind does not pass up "through a chain of subordinate causes," either definite or indefinite, "to one First Cause."

Footnote 357: (return) Watson's "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 273.
Footnote 358: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. p. 21.
Footnote 359: (return) See ante, pp. 181, 182, ch. v.

Let us re-state the principle of causality as a universal and necessary law of thought. "All phenomena present themselves to us as the expression of POWER, and refer us to a causal ground whence they issue." That "power" is intuitively and spontaneously apprehended by the human mind as Supreme and Ultimate--"the causal ground" is a personal God. All the phenomena of nature present themselves to us as "effects," and we know nothing of "subordinate causes" except as modes of the Divine Efficiency. 360 The principle of causality compels us to think causation behind nature, and under causation to think of Volition. "Other forces we have no sort of ground for believing; or, except by artifices of abstraction, even power of conceiving. The dynamic idea is either this or nothing; and the logical alternative assuredly is that nature is either a mere Time-march of phenomena or an expression of Mind." 361 The true doctrine of philosophy, of science, and of revelation is not simply that God did create "in the beginning," but that he still creates. All the operations of Nature are the operations of the Divine Mind. "Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth." 362

Footnote 360: (return) The modern doctrine of the Correlation and Homogenity of all Forces clearly proves that they are not many, but one--"a dynamic self-identity masked by transmigration."--Martineau's "Essays," pp. 134-144.
Footnote 361: (return) Martineau's "Essays," pp. 140, 141.
Footnote 362: (return) Psalm civ.

The assertion that Plato taught "the eternity of matter," and that consequently he did not arrive at the idea of a Supreme and Ultimate Cause, is incapable of proof. The term ὕλη = matter does not occur in the writings of Plato, or, indeed, of any of his predecessors, and is peculiarly Aristotelian. The ground of the world of sense is called by Plato "the receptacle" (ὑποδοχή), "the nurse" (τιθήνη) of all that is produced, and was apparently identified, in his mind, with pure space--a logical rather than a physical entity--the mere negative condition and medium of Divine manifestation. He never regards it as a "cause," or ascribes to it any efficiency. We grant that 255 he places this very indefinite something (ὁποιονοῦν τι) out of the sphere of temporal origination; but it must be borne in mind that he speaks of "creation in eternity" as well as of "creation in time;" and of time itself, though created, as "an eternal image of the generating Father." 363 This one thing, at any rate, can not be denied, that Plato recognizes creation in its fullest sense as the act of God.

The admission that something has always existed besides the Deity, as a mere logical condition of the exercise of divine power (e.g., space), would not invalidate the argument for the existence of God. The proof of the Divine Existence, as Chalmers has shown, does not rest on the existence of matter, but on the orderly arrangement of matter; and the grand question of Theism is not whether the matter of the world, but whether the present order of the world had a commencement. 364

2d. Doubt is cast by our author upon the validity of "the principle of the Unconditioned or the Infinite." "Supposing it were conceded that some faint glimmering of this great truth [the existence of a First Cause] might, by induction, have been discovered by contemplative minds, by what means could they have demonstrated to themselves that he is eternal, self-existent, immortal, and independent?" 365 "Between things visible and invisible, time and eternity, beings finite and beings infinite, objects of sense and objects of faith, the connection is not perceptible to human observation. Though we push our researches, therefore, to the extreme point whither the light of nature can carry us, they will in the end be abruptly terminated, and we must stop short at an immeasurable distance between the creature and the Creator." 366

Footnote 363: (return) Plato, "Timæus," § xiv.
Footnote 364: (return) Chalmers's "Natural Theology," bk. i. ch. v.; also Mahan's "Natural Theology," pp. 21-23.
Footnote 365: (return) Watson's "Institutes of Theol.," vol. i. p. 274.
Footnote 366: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. p. 273.

To this assertion that the connection of things visible and things invisible, finite and infinite, objects of sense and objects of faith, is utterly imperceptible to human thought, we might 256 reply by quoting the words of that Sacred Book whose supreme authority our author is seeking, by this argument, to establish. "The invisible things of God, even his eternal power and god-head, from the creation, are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made." We may also point to the fact that in every age and in every land the human mind has spontaneously and instinctively recognized the existence of an invisible Power and Presence pervading nature and controlling the destinies of man, and that religious worship--prayer, and praise, and sacrifice--offered to that unseen yet omnipresent Power is an universal fact of human nature. The recognition of an immediate and a necessary "connection" between the visible and the invisible, the objects of sense and the objects of faith, is one of the most obvious facts of consciousness--of universal consciousness as revealed in history, and of individual consciousness as developed in every rational mind.

That this connection is "not perceptible to human observation," if by this our author means "not perceptible to sense," we readily admit. No one ever asserted it was perceptible to human observation. We say that this connection is perceptible to human reason, and is revealed in every attempt to think about, and seek an explanation of, the phenomenal world. The Phenomenal and the Real, Genesis and Being, Space and Extension, Succession and Duration, Time and Eternity, the Finite and the Infinite, are correlatives which are given in one and the same indivisible act of thought. "The conception of one term of a relation necessarily implies that of the other; it being the very nature of a correlative to be thinkable only through the conjunct thought of its correlative; for a relation is, in truth, a thought one and indivisible; and whilst the thinking of one relation necessarily involves the thought of its two terms, so it is, with equal necessity, itself involved in the thought of either." 367 Finite, dependent, contingent, temporal existence, therefore, necessarily supposes infinite, self-existent, independent, eternal Being; the Conditioned and Relative 257 implies the Unconditioned and Absolute--one is known only in and through the other. But inasmuch as the unconditioned is cognized solely à priori, and the conditioned solely à posteriori, the recognition by the human mind of their necessary correlation becomes the bridge whereby the chasm between the subjective and the objective may be spanned, and whereby Thought may be brought face to face with Existence.

Footnote 367: (return) Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. ii. pp. 536, 537.

The reverence which, from boyhood, we have entertained for the distinguished author of the "Institutes" restrains us from speaking in adequate terms of reprobation of the statement that "the First Cause" may be known, and yet not conceived "as eternal, self-existent, immortal, and independent". Surely that which is the ground and reason of all existence must have the ground and reason of its own existence in itself. That which is first in the order of existence, and in the logical order of thought, can have nothing prior to itself. If the supposed First Cause is not necessarily self-existent and independent, it is not the first; if it has a dependent existence, there must be a prior being on which it depends. If the First Cause is not eternal, then prior to this Ultimate Cause there was nothingness and vacuity, and pure nothing, by its own act, became something. But "Ex nihilo nihil" is a universal law of thought. To ask the question whether the First Cause be self-existent and eternal, is, in effect, to ask the question "who made God?" and this is not the question of an adult theologian, but of a little child. Surely Mr. Watson must have penned the above passage without any reflection on its real import 368.

Footnote 368: (return) In an article on "the Impending Revolution in Anglo-Saxon Theology" Methodist Quarterly Review, (July, 1863), Dr. Warren seems to take it for granted that the "aiteological" and "teleological" arguments for the existence of God are utterly invalidated by the Dynamical theory of matter. "Once admit that real power can and does reside in matter, and all these reasonings fail. If inherent forces of matter are competent to the production of all the innumerable miracles of movement in the natural world, what is there in the natural world which they can not produce. If all the exertions of power in the universe can be accounted for without resort to something back of, and superior to, nature, what is there which can force the mind to such a resort?" (p. 463). "Having granted that power, or self-activity, is a natural attribute of all matter, what right have we to deny it intelligence?" (p. 465). "Self-moving matter must have thought and design" (p. 469).

It is not our intention to offer an extended criticism of the above positions in this note. We shall discuss "the Dynamical theory" more fully in a subsequent work. If the theory apparently accepted by Dr. Warren be true, that "the ultimate atoms of matter are as uniformly efficient as minds, and that we have the same ground to regard the force exerted by the one innate and natural as that exerted by the other" (p. 464), then we grant that the conclusions of Dr. Warren, as above stated, are unavoidable. We proceed one step farther, and boldly assert that the existence of God is, on this hypothesis, incapable of proof, and the only logical position Dr. Warren can occupy is that of spiritualistic Pantheism.

Dr. Warren asserts that "the Dynamical theory of matter" is now generally accepted by "Anglo-Saxon naturalists." "One can scarcely open a scientific treatise without observing the altered stand-point" (p. 160). We confess that we are disappointed with Dr. Warren's treatment of this simple question of fact. On so fundamental an issue, the Doctor ought to have given the name of at least one "naturalist" who asserts that "the ultimate atoms of matter are as uniformly efficient as minds." Leibnitz, Morrell, Ulrici, Hickok, the authorities quoted by him, are metaphysicians and idealists of the extremest school. At present we shall, therefore, content ourselves with a general denial of this wholesale statement of Dr. Warren; and we shall sustain that denial by a selection from the many authorities we shall hereafter present. "No particle of matter possesses within itself the power of changing its existing state of motion or of rest. Matter has no spontaneous power either of rest or motion, but is equally susceptible to each as it may be acted on by external causes" (Silliman's "Principles of Physics," p. 13). The above proposition is "a truth on which the whole science of mechanical philosophy ultimately depends" (Encyclopædia Britannica, art. "Dynamics," vol. viii. p. 326). "A material substance existing alone in the universe could not produce any effects. There is not, so far as we know, a self-acting material substance in the universe" (M'Cosh, "Divine Government, Physical and Moral," p. 78). "Perhaps the only true indication of matter is inertia." "The cause of gravitation is not resident in the particles of matter merely," but also "in all space" (Dr. Faraday on "Conservation of Force," in "Correlation and Conservation of Force." (p. 368). He also quotes with approbation the words of Newton, "That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, is so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophic matters a competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it" p. 368). "The 'force of gravity' is an improper expression" (p. 340). "Forces are transformable, indestructible, and, in contradistinction from matter, imponderable" (p. 346). "The first cause of things is Deity" (Dr. Mayer, in "Correlation and Conservation of Force," p. 341). "Although the word cause may be used in a secondary and subordinate sense, as meaning antecedent forces, yet in an abstract sense it is totally inapplicable; we can not predicate of any physical agent that it is abstractedly the cause of another" (p. 15). "Causation is the will," "creation is the act, of God" Grove on "Correlation of Physical Forces," (p. 199). "Between gravity and motion it is impossible to establish the equation required for a rightly-conceived causal relation" ("Correlation and Conservation of Force," p. 253). See also Herschel's "Outlines of Astronomy," p. 234.

It certainly must have required a wonderful effort of imagination on the part of Dr. Warren to transform "weight" and "density," mere passive affections of matter, into self-activity, intelligence, thought, and design. Weight or density are merely relative terms. Supposing one particle or mass of matter to exist alone, and there can be no attractive or gravitating force. There must be a cause of gravity which is distinct from matter.


3d. The validity of "the principle of unity" is also discredited by Watson. "If, however, it were conceded that some glimmerings of this great truth, the existence of a First Cause, 259 might, by induction, have been discovered, by what means could they have demonstrated to themselves that the great collection of bodies which we call the world had but one Creator." 369

Footnote 369: (return) "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 275.

We might answer directly, and at once, that the oneness or unity of God is necessarily contained in "the very notion of a First Cause"--a first cause is not many causes, but one. By a First Cause we do not, however, understand the first of a numerical series, but an ἀρχή--a principle, itself unbeginning, which is the source of all beginning. Our categorical answer, therefore, must be that the unity of God is a sublime deliverance of reason--God is one God. It is a first principle of reason that all differentiation and plurality supposes an incomposite unity, all diversity implies an indivisible identity. The sensuous perception of a plurality of parts supposes the rational idea of an absolute unity, which has no parts, as its necessary correlative. For example, extension is a congeries of indefinitesimal parts; the continuity of matter, as empirically known by us, is never absolute. Space is absolutely continuous, incapable of division into integral parts, illimitable, and, as rationally known by us, an absolute unity. The cognition of limited extension, which is the subject of quantitative measurement, involves the conception of unlimited space, which is the negation of all plurality and complexity of parts. And so the cognition of a phenomenal universe in which we see only difference, 260 plurality, and change, implies the existence of a Being who is absolutely unchangeable, identical, and one.

This law of thought lies at the basis of that universal desire of unity, and that universal effort to reduce all our knowledge to unity, which has revealed itself in the history of philosophy, and also of inductive science. "Reason, intellect, νοῦς, concatenating thoughts and objects into system, and tending upward from particular facts to general laws, from general laws to universal principles, is never satisfied in its ascent till it comprehends all laws in a single formula, and consummates all conditional knowledge in the unity of unconditional existence." "The history of philosophy is only the history of this tendency, and philosophers have borne ample testimony to its reality. 'The mind,' says Anaxagoras, 'only knows when it subdues its objects, when it reduces the many to the one.' 'The end of philosophy,' says Plato, 'is the intuition of unity.' 'All knowledge,' say the Platonists, 'is the gathering up into one, and the indivisible apprehension of this unity by the knowing mind.'" 370

Footnote 370: (return) Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. pp. 68, 69.

This law has been the guiding principle of the Inductive Sciences, and has led to some of its most important discoveries. The unity which has been attained in physical science is not, however, the absolute unity of a material substratum, but a unity of Will and of Thought. The late discovery of the monogenesis, reciprocal convertibility, and indestructibility of all Forces in nature, leads us upward towards the recognition of one Omnipresent and Omnipotent Will, which, like a mighty tide, sweeps through the universe and effects all its changes. The universal prevalence of the same physical laws and numerical relations throughout all space, and of the same archetypal forms and teleology of organs throughout all past time, reveals to us a Unity of Thought which grasps the entire details of the universe in one comprehensive plan. 371 The positive à priori 261 intuitions of reason and the à posteriori inductions of science equally attest that God is one.

Footnote 371: (return) We refer with pleasure to the articles of Dr. Winchell, in the North-western Christian Advocate, in which the à posteriori proof of "the Unity of God" is forcibly exhibited, and take occasion to express the hope they will soon be presented to the public in a more permanent form.

4th. By denying that man has any intuitive cognitions of right and wrong, or any native and original feeling of obligation, Mr. Watson invalidates "the moral argument" for the existence of a Righteous God.

"As far as man's reason has applied itself to the discovery of truth or duty it has generally gone astray." 372 "Questions of morals do not, for the most part, lie level to the minds of the populace." 373 "Their conclusions have no authority, and place them under no obligation." 374 And, indeed, man without a revelation "is without moral control, without principles of justice, except such as may be slowly elaborated from those relations which concern the grosser interests of life, without conscience, without hope or fear in another life." 375

Footnote 372: (return) "Institutes of Theology," vol. ii. p. 470.
Footnote 373: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 15.
Footnote 374: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 228.
Footnote 375: (return) Ibid., vol. ii. p. 271.

Now we shall not occupy our space in the elaboration of the proposition that the universal consciousness of our race, as revealed in human history, languages, legislations, and sentiments, bears testimony to the fact that the ideas of right, duty, and responsibility are native to the human mind; we shall simply make our appeal to those Sacred Writings whose verdict must be final with all theologians. That the fundamental principles of the moral law do exist, subjectively, in all human minds is distinctly affirmed by Paul, in a passage which deserves to be regarded as the chief corner-stone of moral science. "The Gentiles (ἔθνη, heathen), which have not the written law, do by the guidance of nature (reason or conscience) the works enjoined by the revealed law; these, having no written law, are a law unto themselves; who show plainly the works of the law written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and also their reasonings one with another, when they accuse, or else excuse, each other." 376 To deny this is to relegate the heathen from all responsibility. For Mr. Watson admits "that the 262 will of a superior is not in justice binding unless it be in some mode sufficiently declared." Now in the righteous adjudgments of revelation the heathen are "without excuse." The will of God must, therefore, be "sufficiently declared" to constitute them accountable. Who will presume to say that the shadowy, uncertain, variable, easily and unavoidably corrupted medium of tradition running through forty muddy centuries is a "sufficient declaration of the will of God?" The law is "written on the heart" of every man, or all men are not accountable.

Footnote 376: (return) Romans, ch. ii. ver. 14-15.

Now this "law written within the heart" immediately and naturally suggests the idea of a Lawgiver who is over us. This felt presence of Conscience, approving or condemning our conduct, suggests, as with the speed of the lightning-flash, the notion of a Judge who will finally call us to account. This "accusing or excusing of each other," this recognition of good or ill desert, points us to, and constrains us to recognize, a future Retribution; so that some hope or fear of another life has been in all ages a universal phenomenon of humanity.

It is affirmed, however, that whilst this capacity to know God may have been an original endowment of human nature, yet, in consequence of the fall, "the understanding and reason are weakened by the deterioration of his whole intellectual nature." 377 "Without some degree of education, man is wholly the creature of appetite. Labor, feasting, and sleeping divide his time, and wholly occupy his thoughts." 378

Footnote 377: (return) "Institutes of Theology," vol. i. p. 15.
Footnote 378: (return) Ibid., vol. i. p. 271.

We reverently and believingly accept the teaching of Scripture as to the depravity of man. We acknowledge that "the understanding is darkened" by sin. At the same time, we earnestly maintain that the Scriptures do not teach that the fundamental laws of mind, the first principles of reason, are utterly traversed and obliterated by sin, so that man is not able to recognize the existence of God, and feel his obligation to Him. "Though they(the heathen) knew God (διότι γνόντες), they did not glorify him as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imagination, and their foolish hearts were 263 darkened. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." "And as they did not approve of holding God with acknowledgment, God delivered them over to an unapproving mind, to work those things which are not suitable." After drawing a fearful picture of the darkness and depravity of the heathen, the Apostle adds, "Who, though they KNOW the law of God, that they who practise such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but even are well pleased with those who practise them." 379 The obvious and direct teaching of this passage is that the heathen, in the midst of their depravity and idolatry, are not utterly ignorant of God; "they know God"--"they know the law of God "--"they worship Him," though they worship the creature more than Him. They know God, and are unwilling to "acknowledge God." "They know the righteousness of God," and are "haters of God" on account of his purity; and their worshipping of idols does not proceed from ignorance of God, from an intellectual inability to know God, but from "corruption of heart," and a voluntary choice of, and a "pleasure" in, the sinful practices accompanying idol worship. Therefore, argues the Apostle, they are "without excuse." The whole drift and aim of the argument of Paul is, not to show that the heathen were, by their depravity, incapacitated to know God, but that because they knew God and knew his righteous law, therefore their depravity and licentiousness was "inexcusable."

Footnote 379: (return) Romans, ch. i. ver. 23-32.

We conclude our review of opposing schools by the re-affirmation of our position, that God is cognizable by human reason. The human mind, under the guidance of necessary laws of thought, is able, from the facts of the universe, to affirm the existence of God, and to attain some valid knowledge of his character and will. Every attempt to solve the great problem of existence, to offer an explanation of the phenomenal world, or to explore the fundamental idea of reason, when fairly and fully conducted, has resulted in the recognition of a Supreme 264 Intelligence, a personal Mind and Will, as the ground, and reason, and cause of all existence. A survey of the history of Greek Philosophy will abundantly sustain this position, and to this we shall, in subsequent chapters, invite the reader's attention.






"Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered Paul."--Acts xvii. 18.

"Plato affirms that this is the most just cause of the creation of the world, that works which are good should be wrought by the God who is good; whether he had read these things in the Bible, or whether by his penetrating genius he beheld the invisible things of God as understood by the things which are made"--ST. AUGUSTINE, "De Civ. Dei," lib. xi. ch. 21.

Of all the monuments of the greatness of Athens which have survived the changes and the wastes of time, the most perfect and the most enduring is her philosophy. The Propylæa, the Parthenon, and the Erechtheum, those peerless gems of Grecian architecture, are now in ruins. The magnificent sculpture of Phidias, which adorned the pediment, and outer cornice, and inner frieze of these temples, and the unrivalled statuary of gods and heroes which crowded the platform of the Acropolis, making it an earthly Olympus, are now no more, save a few broken fragments which have been carried to other lands, and, in their exile, tell the mournful story of the departed grandeur of their ancient home. The brazen statue of Minerva, cast from the spoils of Marathon, which rose in giant grandeur above the buildings of the Acropolis, and the flashing of whose helmet plumes was seen by the mariner as soon as he had rounded the Sunian promontory; and that other brazen Pallas, called, by pre-eminence, "the Beautiful;" and the enormous Colossus of ivory and of gold, "the Immortal Maid"--the protecting goddess of the Parthenon--these have 266 perished. But whilst the fingers of time have crumbled the Pentelic marble, and the glorious statuary has been broken to pieces by vandal hands, and the gold and brass have been melted in the crucibles of needy monarchs and converted into vulgar money, the philosophic thought of Athens, which culminated in the dialectic of Plato, still survives. Not one of all the vessels, freighted with immortal thought, which Plato launched upon the stream of time, has foundered. And after the vast critical movement of European thought during the past two centuries, in which all philosophic systems have been subjected to the severest scrutiny, the method of Plato still preserves, if not its exclusive authority unquestioned, at least its intellectual pre-eminence unshaken. "Platonism is immortal, because its principles are immortal in the human intellect and heart." 380

Footnote 380: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 9.

Philosophy is, then, the world-enduring monument of the greatness and the glory of Athens. Whilst Greece will be forever memorable as "the country of wisdom and of wise men," Athens will always be pre-eminently memorable as the University of Greece. This was the home of Socrates, and Plato, and Aristotle--the three imperial names which, for twenty centuries, reigned supreme in the world of philosophic thought. Here schools of philosophy were founded to which students were attracted from every part of the civilized world, and by which an impulse and a direction was given to human thought in every land and in every age. Standing on the Acropolis at Athens, and looking over the city and the open country, the Apostle would see these places which are inseparably associated with the names of the men who have always been recognized as the great teachers of the pagan world, and who have also exerted a powerful influence upon Christian minds of every age. "In opposite directions he would see the suburbs where Plato and Aristotle, the two pupils of Socrates, held their illustrious schools. The streamless bed of the Ilissus passes between the Acropolis and Hymettus in a south-westerly direction, until it vanishes in the 267 low ground which separates the city from the Piræus." Looking towards the upper part of this channel, Paul would see gardens of plane-trees and thickets of angus-castus, "with other torrent-loving shrubs of Greece." Near the base of Lycabettus was a sacred inclosure which Pericles had ornamented with fountains. Here stood a statue of Apollo Lycius, which gave the name to the Lyceum. Here, among the plane-trees, Aristotle walked, and, as he walked, taught his disciples. Hence the name Peripatetics (the Walkers), which has always designated the disciples of the Stagirite philosopher.

On the opposite side of the city, the most beautiful of the Athenian suburbs, we have the scene of Plato's teaching. Beyond the outer Ceramicus, which was crowded with the sepulchres of those Athenians who had fallen in battle, and were buried at the public expense, the eye of Paul would rest on the favored stream of the Cephisus, flowing towards the west. On the banks of this stream the Academy was situated. A wall, built at great expense by Hipparchus, surrounded it, and Cimon planted long avenues of trees and erected fountains. Beneath the plane-trees which shaded the numerous walks there assembled the master-spirits of the age. This was the favorite resort of poets and philosophers. Here the divine spirit of Plato poured forth its sublimest speculations in streams of matchless eloquence; and here he founded a school which was destined to exert a powerful and perennial influence on human minds and hearts in all coming time.

Looking down from the Acropolis upon the Agora, Paul would distinguish a cloister or colonnade. This is the Stoa Pœcile, or "Painted Porch," so called because its walls were decorated with fresco paintings of the legendary wars of Greece, and the more glorious struggle at Marathon. It was here that Zeno first opened that celebrated school which thence received the name of Stoic. The site of the garden where Epicurus taught is now unknown. It was no doubt within the city walls, and not far distant from the Agora. It was well known in the time of Cicero, who visited Athens as a student little more than 268 a century before the Apostle. It could not have been forgotten in the time of Paul. In this "tranquil garden," in the society of his friends, Epicurus passed a life of speculation and of pleasure. His disciples were called, after him, the Epicureans. 381

Footnote 381: (return) See Conybeare and Howson's "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i., Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy;" and Encyclopædia Britannica, article, "Athens," from whence our materials for the description of these "places" are mainly derived.

Here, then, in Athens the Apostle was brought into immediate contact with all the phases of philosophic thought which had appeared in the ancient world. "Amongst those who sauntered beneath the cool shadows of the plane-trees in the Agora, and gathered in knots under the porticoes, eagerly discussing the questions of the day, were the philosophers, in the garb of their several sects, ready for any new question on which they might exercise their subtlety or display their rhetoric." If there were any in that motley group who cherished the principles and retained the spirit of the true Platonic school, we may presume they felt an inward intellectual sympathy with the doctrine enounced by Paul. With Plato, "philosophy was only another name for religion: philosophy is the love of perfect Wisdom; perfect Wisdom and perfect Goodness are identical: the perfect Good is God himself; philosophy is the love of God." 382 He confessed the need of divine assistance to attain "the good," and of divine interposition to deliver men from moral ruin. 383 Like Socrates, he longed for a supernatural--a divine light to guide him, and he acknowledged his need thereof continually. 384 He was one of those who, in heathen lands, waited for "the desire of nations;" and, had he lived in Christian times, no doubt his "spirit of faith" would have joyfully "embraced the Saviour in all the completeness of his revelation and advent." 385 And in so far as the spirit of Plato survived among his disciples, we may be sure they were not among the 269 number who "mocked," and ridiculed, and opposed the "new doctrine" proclaimed by Paul. It was "the philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics who encountered Paul." The leading tenets of both these sects were diametrically opposed to the doctrines of Christianity. The ruling spirit of each was alien from the spirit of Christ. The haughty pride of the Stoic, the Epicurean abandonment to pleasure, placed them in direct antagonism to him who proclaimed the crucified and risen Christ to be "the wisdom of God."

Footnote 382: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 61.
Footnote 383: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. vi. vii.
Footnote 384: (return) Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 362.
Footnote 385: (return) Wheedon on "The Will," p. 352; also Butler's "Lectures," vol. ii. p. 252.

If, however, we would justly appreciate the relation of pagan philosophy to Christian truth, we must note that, when Paul arrived in Athens, the age of Athenian glory had passed away. Not only had her national greatness waned, and her national spirit degenerated, but her intellectual power exhibited unmistakable signs of exhaustion, and weakness, and decay. If philosophy had borne any fruit, of course that fruit remained. If, in the palmy days of Athenian greatness, any field of human inquiry had been successfully explored; if human reason had achieved any conquests; if any thing true and good had been obtained, that must endure as an heir-loom for all coming time; and if those centuries of agonizing wrestlings with nature, and of ceaseless questioning of the human heart, had yielded no results, then, at least, the lesson of their failure and defeat remained for the instruction of future generations. Either the problems they sought to solve were proved to be insoluble, or their methods of solution were found to be inadequate; for here the mightiest minds had grappled with the great problems of being and of destiny. Here vigorous intellects had struggled to pierce the darkness which hangs alike over the beginning and the end of human existence. Here profoundly earnest men had questioned nature, reason, antiquity, oracles, in the hope they might learn something of that invisible world of real being which they instinctively felt must lie beneath the world of fleeting forms and ever-changing appearances. Here philosophy had directed her course towards every point in the compass of thought, and touched every accessible point. The 270 sun of human reason had reached its zenith, and illuminated every field that lay within the reach of human ken. And this sublime era of Greek philosophy is of inestimable value to us who live in Christian times, because it is an exhaustive effort of human reason to solve the problem of being, and in its history we have a record of the power and weakness of the human mind, at once on the grandest scale and in the fairest characters. 386

Footnote 386: (return) See article "Philosophy," in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible."

These preliminary considerations will have prepared the way for, and awakened in our minds a profound interest in, the inquiry--1st. What permanent results has Greek philosophy bequeathed to the world? 2d. In what manner did Greek philosophy fulfill for Christianity a propœdeutic office?

It will at once be obvious, even to those who are least conversant with our theme, that it would be fruitless to attempt the answer to these important questions before we have made a careful survey of the entire history of philosophic thought in Greece. We must have a clear and definite conception of the problems they sought to solve, and we must comprehend their methods of inquiry, before we can hope to appreciate the results they reached, or determine whether they did arrive at any definite and valuable conclusions. It will, therefore, devolve upon us to present a brief and yet comprehensive epitome of the history of Grecian speculative thought.

"Philosophy," says Cousin, "is reflection, and nothing else than reflection, in a vast form"--"Reflection elevated to the rank and authority of a method." It is the mind looking back upon its own sensations, perceptions, cognitions, ideas, and from thence to the causes of these sensations, cognitions, and ideas. It is thought passing beyond the simple perceptions of things, beyond the mere spontaneous operations of the mind in the cognition of things to seek the ground, and reason, and law of things. It is the effort of reason to solve the great problem of "Being and Becoming," of appearance and reality, of the changeful and the permanent. Beneath the endless diversity of the universe, of existence and action, there must be a principle 271 of unity; below all fleeting appearances there must be a permanent substance; beyond this everlasting flow and change, this beginning and ending of finite existence, there must be an eternal being, the source and cause of all we see and know, What is that principle of unity, that permanent substance, or principle, or being?

This fundamental question has assumed three separate forms or aspects in the history of philosophy. These forms have been determined by the objective phenomena which most immediately arrested and engaged the attention of men. If external nature has been the chief object of attention, then the problem of philosophy has been, What is the ἀρχή--the beginning; what are the first principles--the elements from which, the ideas or laws according to which, the efficient cause or energy by which, and the reason or end for which the universe exists? During this period reflective thought was a PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE. If the phenomena of mind--the opinions, beliefs, judgments of men--are the chief object of attention, then the problem of philosophy has been, What are the fundamental Ideas which are unchangeable and permanent amid all the diversities of human opinions, connecting appearance with reality, and constituting a ground of certain knowledge or absolute truth? Reflective thought is now a PHILOSOPHY OF IDEAS. Then, lastly, if the practical activities of life and the means of well-being be the grand object of attention, then the problem of philosophy has been, What is the ultimate standard by which, amid all the diversities of human conduct, we may determine what is right and good in individual, social, and political life? And now reflective thought is a PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. These are the grand problems with which philosophy has grappled ever since the dawn of reflection. They all appear in Greek philosophy, and have a marked chronology. As systems they succeed each other, just as rigorously as the phenomena of Greek civilization. 272 The Greek schools of philosophy have been classified from various points of view. In view of their geographical relations, they have been divided into the Ionian, the Italian, the Eleatic, the Athenian, and the Alexandrian. In view of their prevailing spirit and tendency, they have been classified by Cousin as the Sensational, the Idealistic, the Skeptical, and the Mystical. The most natural and obvious method is that which (regarding Socrates as the father of Greek philosophy in the truest sense) arranges all schools from the Socratic stand point, and therefore in the chronological order of development:




The history of philosophy is thus divided into three grand epochs. The first reaching from Thales to the time of Socrates (B.C. 639-469): the second from the birth of Socrates to the death of Aristotle (B.C. 469-322); the third from the death of Aristotle to the Christian era (B.C. 322, A.D. 1). Greek philosophy during the first period was almost exclusively a philosophy of nature; during the second period, a philosophy of mind; during the last period, a philosophy of life. Nature, man, and society complete the circle of thought. Successive systems, of course, overlap each other, both in the order of time and as subjects of human speculation; and the results of one epoch of thought are transmitted to and appropriated by another; but, in a general sense, the order of succession has been very much as here indicated. Setting aside minor schools and merely incidental discussions, and fixing our attention on the general aspects of each historic period, we shall discover that the first period was eminently Physical, the second Psychological, the last Ethical. Every stage of progress which reason, on à priori grounds, would suggest as the natural order of thought, or of which the development of an individual mind would furnish an analogy, had a corresponding realization in the development of Grecian thought from the time of Thales to the Christian era. "Thought," says Cousin, "in the first trial of its strength is drawn without." The first object which engages the attention of the child is the outer world. He asks the 273 "how" and "why" of all he sees. His reason urges him to seek an explanation of the universe. So it was in the childhood of philosophy. The first essays of human thought were, almost without exception, discourses περὶ φύσεως (De rerum natura), of the nature of things. Then the rebound of baffled reason from the impenetrable bulwarks of the universe drove the mind back upon itself. If the youth can not interpret nature, he can at least "know himself," and find within himself the ground and reason of all existence. There are "ideas" in the human mind which are copies of those "archetypal ideas" which dwell in the Creative Mind, and after which the universe was built. If by "analysis" and "definition" these universal notions can be distinguished from that which is particular and contingent in the aggregate of human knowledge, then so much of eternal truth has been attained. The achievements of philosophic thought in this direction, during the Socratic age, have marked it as the most brilliant period in the history of philosophy--the period of its youthful vigor. Deeply immersed in the practical concerns and conflicts of public life, manhood is mainly occupied with questions of personal duty, and individual and social well-being. And so, during the hopeless turmoil of civil disturbance which marked the decline of national greatness in Grecian history, philosophy was chiefly occupied with questions of personal interest and personal happiness. The poetic enthusiasm with which a nobler age had longed for truth, and sought it as the highest good, has all disappeared, and now one sect seeks refuge from the storms and agitations of the age in Stoical indifference, the other in Epicurean effeminacy.

If now we have succeeded in presenting the real problem of philosophy, it will at once be obvious that the inquiry was not, in any proper sense, theological. Speculative thought, during the period we have marked as the era of Greek philosophy, was not an inquiry concerning the existence or nature of God, or concerning the relations of man to God, or the duties which man owes to God. These questions were all remitted to the 274 theologian. There was a clear line of demarkation separating the domains of religion and philosophy. Religion rested solely on authority, and appealed to the instinctive faith of the human heart. She permitted no encroachment upon her settled usages, and no questioning of her ancient beliefs. Philosophy rested on reason alone. It was an independent effort of thought to interpret nature, and attain the fundamental grounds of human knowledge--to find an ἀρχή--a first principle, which, being assumed, should furnish a rational explanation of all existence. If philosophy reach the conclusion that the άρχή was water, or air, or fire, or a chaotic mixture of all the elements or atoms, extended and self-moved, or monads, or τὸ πᾶν, or uncreated mind, and that conclusion harmonized with the ancient standards of religious faith--well; if not, philosophy must present some method of conciliation. The conflicts of faith and reason; the stragglings of traditional authority to maintain supremacy; the accommodations and conciliations attempted in those primitive times, would furnish a chapter of peculiar interest, could it now be written.

The poets who appeared in the dim twilight of Grecian civilization--Orpheus, Musæus, Homer, Hesiod--seem to have occupied the same relation to the popular mind in Greece which the Bible now sustains to Christian communities. 387 Not that we regard them as standing on equal ground of authority, or in any sense a revelation. But, in the eye of the wondering Greek, they were invested with the highest sacredness and the supremest authority. The high poetic inspiration which pervaded them was a supernatural gift. Their sublime utterances were accepted as proceeding from a divine afflatus. They were the product of an age in which it was believed by all that the gods assumed a human form, 388 and held a real intercourse with gifted 275 men. This universal faith is regarded by some as being a relic of still more distant times, a faint remembrance of the glory of patriarchal days. The more natural opinion is, that it was begotten of that universal longing of the human heart for some knowledge of that unseen world of real being, which man instinctively felt must lie beyond the world of fleeting change and delusive appearances. It was a prolepsis of the soul, reaching upward towards its source and goal. The poet felt within him some native affinities therewith, and longed for some stirring breath of heaven to sweep the harp-strings of the soul. He invoked the inspiration of the Goddess of Song, and waited for, no doubt believed in, some "deific impulse" descending on him. And the people eagerly accepted his utterance as the teaching of the gods. They were too eager for some knowledge from that unseen world to question their credentials. Orpheus, Hesiod, Homer, were the θεολόγοι--the theologians of that age. 389

Footnote 387: (return) "Homer was, in a certain sense, the Bible of the Greeks."--Whewell, "Platonic Dialogues," p. 283.
Footnote 388: (return) The universality of this belief is asserted by Cicero: "Vetus opinio est, jam usque ab heroicis ducta temporibus, eaque et populi Romani et omnium gentium firmata consensu, versari quandem inter homines divinationem."--Cicero, "De Divin." bk. i. ch. i.
Footnote 389: (return) Cicero.

These ancient poems, then, were the public documents of the religion of Greece--the repositories of the national faith. And it is deserving of especial note that the philosopher was just as anxious to sustain his speculations by quoting the high traditional authority of the ancient theologian, as the propounder of modern novelties is to sustain his notions by the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. Numerous examples of this solicitude will recur at once to the remembrance of the student of Plato. All encroachments of philosophy upon the domains of religion were watched as jealously in Athens in the sixth century before Christ, as the encroachments of science upon the fields of theology were watched in Rome in the seventeenth century after Christ. The court of the Areopagus was as earnest, though not as fanatical and cruel, in the defense of the ancient faith, as the court of the Inquisition was in the defense of the dogmas of the Romish Church. The people, also, as "the sacred wars" of Greece attest, were ready quickly to repel every assault upon the majesty of their religion. And so 276 philosophy even had its martyrs. The tears of Pericles were needed to save Aspasia, because she was suspected of philosophy. But neither his eloquence nor his tears could save his friend Anaxagoras, and he was ostracized. Aristotle had the greatest difficulty to save his life. And Plato was twice imprisoned, and once sold into slavery. 390

Footnote 390: (return) Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 305.

It is unnecessary that we should, in this place, again attempt the delineation of the theological opinions of the earlier periods of Grecian civilization. That the ancient Greeks believed in one Supreme God has been conclusively proved by Cudworth. The argument of his fourth chapter is incontrovertible. 391 However great the number of "generated gods" who crowded the Olympus, and composed the ghostly array of Greek mythology, they were all subordinate agents, "demiurges," employed in the framing of the world and all material things, or else the ministers of the moral and providential government of the εἷς θεὸς ἀγέντος--the one uncreated God. Beneath, or beyond the whole system of pagan polytheism, we recognize a faith in an Uncreated Mind, the Source of all the intelligence, and order, and harmony which pervades the universe the Fountain of law and justice; the Ruler of the world; the Avenger of injured innocence; and the final Judge of men. The immortality of the soul and a state of future retribution were necessary corollaries of this sublime faith. This primitive theology was unquestionably the people's faith; the faith, also, of the philosopher, in his inmost heart, however far he might wander in speculative thought. The instinctive feeling of the human heart, the spontaneous intuitions of the human reason, have led man, in every age, to recognize a God. It is within the fields of speculative thought that skepticism has had its birth. Any thing like atheism has only made its appearance amid the efforts of human reason to explain the universe. The native sentiments of the heart and the spontaneous movements 277 of the reason have always been towards faith, that is, towards "a religious movement of the soul." 392 Unbridled speculative thought, which turns towards the outer world alone, and disregards "the voices of the soul," tends towards doubt and irreligion. But, as Cousin has said, "a complete extravagance, a total delusion (except in case of real derangement), is impossible." "Beneath reflection there is still spontaneity, when the scholar has denied the existence of a God; listen to the man, interrogate him unawares, and you will see that all his words betray the idea of a God, and that faith in a God is, without his recognition, at the bottom of his heart." 393

Footnote 391: (return) "Intellectual System of the Universe;" see also ch. iii., "On the Religion of the Athenians."
Footnote 392: (return) Cousin's "Hist. of Philos.," vol. i. p. 22.
Footnote 393: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. p. 137.

Let us not, therefore, be too hasty in representing the early philosophers as destitute of the idea of a God, because in the imperfect and fragmentary representations which are given us of the philosophical opinions of Thales, and Anaximenes, and Heraclitus, and Diogenes of Apollonia, we find no explicit allusions to the Uncreated Mind as the first principle and cause of all. A few sentences will comprehend the whole of what remains of the opinions of the earliest philosophers, and these were transmitted for ages by oral tradition. To Plato and Aristotle we are chiefly indebted for a stereotype of those scattered, fragmentary sentences which came to their hands through the dim and distorting medium of more than two centuries. Surely no one imagines these few sentences contain and sum up the results of a lifetime of earnest thought, or represent all the opinions and beliefs of the earliest philosophers! And should we find therein no recognition of a personal God, would it not be most unfair and illogical to assert that they were utterly ignorant of a God, or wickedly denied his being? If they say "there is no God," then they are foolish Atheists; if they are silent on that subject, we have a right to assume they were Theists, for it is most natural to believe in God. And yet it has been quite customary for Christian teachers, after the manner of some Patristic writers, to deny to those early sages the smallest glimpse of underived and independent 278 knowledge of a Divine Being, in their zeal to assert for the Sacred Scriptures the exclusive prerogative of revealing Him.

Now in regard to the theological opinions of the Greek philosophers, we shall venture this general lemma--the majority of them recognized an "incorporeal substance" 394 an uncreated Intelligence, an ordering, governing Mind. Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus, who were Materialists, are perhaps the only exceptions. Many of them were Pantheists, in the higher form of Pantheism, which, though it associates the universe with its framer and mover, still makes "the moving principle" superior to that which is moved. The world was a living organism,

"Whose body nature is, and God the soul."

Unquestionably most on them recognized the existence of two first principles, substances essentially distinct, which had co-existed from eternity--an incorporeal Deity and matter. 395 We grant that the free production of a universe by a creative fiat--the calling of matter into being by a simple act of omnipotence--is not elementary to human reason. The famous physical axiom of antiquity, "De nihilo nihil, in nihilum posse reverti" under one aspect, may be regarded as the expression of the universal consciousness of a mental inability to conceive a creation out of nothing, or an annihilation. 396 "We can not conceive, either, on the one hand, nothing becoming something, or something becoming nothing, on the other hand. When God is said to create the universe out of nothing, we think this by supposing that he evolves the universe out of himself; and in like manner, we conceive annihilation only by conceiving the Creator to withdraw his creation from actuality into power." 397 "It is by faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are were not made from things which do appear"--that is, from pre-existent matter.

Footnote 394: (return) "Οὐσίαν ἀσώµατον."--Plato.
Footnote 395: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 269.
Footnote 396: (return) Mansell's "Limits of Religious Thought," p. 100.
Footnote 397: (return) Sir William Hamilton's "Discussions on Philosophy," p. 575.

Those writers 398 are, therefore, clearly in error who assert that the earliest question of Greek philosophy was, What is God? and that various and discordant answers were given, Thales saying, water is God, Anaximenes, air; Heraclitus, fire; Pythagoras, numbers; and so on. The idea of God is a native intuition of the mind. It springs up spontaneously from the depths of the human soul. The human mind naturally recognizes God as an uncreated Mind, and recognizes itself as "the offspring of God." And, therefore, it is simply impossible for it to acknowledge water, or air, or fire, or any material thing to be its God. Now they who reject this fundamental principle evidently misapprehend the real problem of early Grecian philosophic thought. The external world, the material universe, was the first object of their inquiry, and the method of their inquiry was, at the first stage, purely physical. Every object of sense had a beginning and an end; it rose out of something, and it fell back into something. Beneath this ceaseless flow and change there must be some permanent principle. What is that στοιχεῖον--that first element? The changes in the universe seem to obey some principle of law--they have an orderly succession. What is that µορφή--that form, or ideal, or archetype, proper to each thing, and according to which all things are produced? These changes must be produced by some efficient cause, some power or being which is itself immobile, and permanent, and eternal, and adequate to their production. What is that ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως--that first principle of movement Then, lastly, there must be an end for which all things exist--a good reason why things are as they are, and not otherwise. What is that τὸ οὗ ἕνεκεν καῖ τὸ ἀγαθόν--that reason and good of all things? Now these are all ἀρχαί or first principles of the universe. "Common to all first principles," says Aristotle, "is the being, the original, from which a thing is, or is produced, or is known." 399 First principles, therefore, include both elements and causes, and, under certain aspects, elements are 280 also causes, in so far as they are that without which a thing can not be produced. Hence that highest generalization by Aristotle of all first principles; as--1. The Material Cause; 2. The Formal Cause; 3. The Efficient Cause; 4. The Final Cause. The grand subject of inquiry in ancient philosophy was not alone what is the final element from which all things have been produced? nor yet what is the efficient cause of the movement and the order of the universe? but what are those First Principles which, being assumed, shall furnish a rational explanation of all phenomena, of all becoming?

Footnote 398: (return) As the writer of the article "Attica," in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Footnote 399: (return) "Metaphysics," bk. iv. ch. i. p. 112 (Bohn's edition).

So much being premised, we proceed to consider the efforts and the results of philosophic thought in


"The first act in the drama of Grecian speculation was performed on the varied theatre of the Grecian colonies--Asiatic, insular, and Italian, verging at length (in Anaxagoras) towards Athens." During the progress of this drama two distinct schools of philosophy were developed, having distinct geographical provinces, one on the east, the other on the west, of the peninsula of Greece, and deriving their names from the localities in which they flourished. The earliest was the Ionian; the latter was the Italian school.

It would be extremely difficult, at this remote period, to estimate the influence which geographical conditions and ethnical relations exerted in determining the course of philosophic thought in these schools. Unquestionably those conditions contributed somewhat towards fixing their individuality. At the same time, it must be granted that the distinction in these two schools of philosophy is of a deeper character than can be represented or explained by geographical surroundings; it is a distinction reaching to the very foundation of their habits of thought. These schools represent two distinct aspects of philosophic thought, two distinct methods in which the human mind has essayed to solve the problem of the universe.

The ante-Socratic schools were chiefly occupied with the 281 study of external nature. "Greek philosophy was, at its first appearance, a philosophy of nature." It was an effort of the reason to reach a "first principle" which should explain the universe. This early attempt was purely speculative. It sought to interpret all phenomena by hypotheses, that is, by suppositions, more or less plausible, suggested by physical analogies or by à priori rational conceptions.

Now there are two distinct aspects under which nature presents itself to the observant mind. The first and most obvious is the simple phenomena as perceived by the senses. The second is the relations of phenomena, cognized by the reason alone. Let phenomena, which are indeed the first objects of perception, continue to be the chief and almost exclusive object of thought, and philosophy is on the highway of pure physics. On the other hand, instead of stopping at phenomena, let their relations become the sole object of thought, and philosophy is now on the road of purely mathematical or metaphysical abstraction. Thus two schools of philosophy are developed, the one SENSATIONAL, the other IDEALIST. Now these, it will be found, are the leading and characteristic tendencies of the two grand divisions of the pre-Socratic schools; the Ionian is sensational, the Italian is idealist.

These two schools have again been the subject of a further subdivision based upon diverse habits of thought. The Ionian school sought to explain the universe by physical analogies. Of these there are two clear and obvious divisions--analogies suggested by living organisms, and analogies suggested by mechanical arrangements. One class of philosophers in the Ionian school laid hold on the first analogy. They regarded the world as a living being, spontaneously evolving itself--a vital organism whose successive developments and transformations constitute all visible phenomena. A second class laid hold on the analogy suggested by mechanical arrangements. For them the universe was a grand superstructure, built up from elemental particles, arranged and united by some ab-extra power or force, or else aggregated by some inherent mutual 282 affinity. Thus we have two sects of the Ionian school; the first, Dynamical or vital; the second, Mechanical. 400

Footnote 400: (return) Ritter's "Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 191, 192.

The Italian school sought to explain the universe by rational conceptions and à priori ideas. Now to those who seek, by simple reflection, to investigate the relations of the external world this marked distinction will present itself: some are relations between sensible phenomena--relations of time, of place, of number, of proportion, and of harmony; others are relations of phenomena to essential being--relations of qualities to substance, of becoming to being, of the finite to the infinite. The former constituted the field of Pythagorean the latter of Eleatic contemplation. The Pythagoreans sought to explain the universe by numbers, forms, and harmonies; the Eleatics by the à priori ideas of unity, substance, Being in se, the Infinite. Thus were constituted a Mathematical and a Metaphysical sect in the Italian school. The pre-Socratic schools may, therefore, be tabulated in the following order:

I. IONIAN (Sensational),   (1.) PHYSICAL {Dynamical or Vital.

II. Italian (Idealist),    {(2.) MATHEMATICAL Pythagoreans.
                           {(3.) METAPHYSICAL Eleatics.

I. The Ionian or Physical School.--We have premised that the philosophers of this school attempted the explanation of the universe by physical analogies.

One class of these early speculators, the Dynamical, or vital theorists, proceeded on the supposition of a living energy infolded in nature, which in its spontaneous development continuously undergoes alteration both of quality and form. This imperfect analogy is the first hypothesis of childhood. The child personifies the stone that hurts him, and his first impulse is to resent the injury as though he imagined it to be endowed with consciousness, and to be acting with design. The childhood of superstition (whose genius is multiplicity) personifies each individual existence--a rude Fetichism, which imagines a supernatural power and presence enshrined in every object of 283 nature, in every plant, and stock, and stone. The childhood of philosophy (whose genius is unity) personifies the universe. It regards the earth as one vast organism, animated by one soul, and this soul of the world as a "created god." 401 The first efforts of philosophy were, therefore, simply an attempt to explain the universe in harmony with the popular theological beliefs. The cosmogonies of the early speculators in the Ionian school were an elaboration of the ancient theogonies, but still an elaboration conducted under the guidance of that law of thought which constrains man to seek for unity, and reduce the many to the one.

Therefore, in attempting to construct a theory of the universe they commenced by postulating an ἀρχή--a first principle or element out of which, by a vital process, all else should be produced. "Accordingly, whatever seemed the most subtle or pliable, as well as universal element in the mass of the visible world, was marked as the seminal principle whose successive developments and transformations produced all the rest." 402 With this seminal principle the living, animating principle seems to have been associated--in some instances perhaps confounded, and in most instances called by the same name. And having pursued this analogy so far, we shall find the most decided and conclusive evidence of a tendency to regard the soul of man as similar, in its nature, to the soul which animates the world.

Footnote 401: (return) Plato's "Laws," bk. x. ch. i.; "Timæus," ch. xii.
Footnote 402: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. 1. p. 292.

Thales of Miletus(B.C. 636-542) was the first to lead the way in the perilous inquiry after an ἀρχή, or first principle, which should furnish a rational explanation of the universe. Following, as it would seem, the genealogy of Hesiod, he supposed water to be the primal element out of which all material things were produced. Aristotle supposes he was impressed with this idea from observing that all things are nourished by moisture; warmth itself, he declared, proceeded from moisture; the seeds of all things are moist; water, when condensed, becomes earth. 284 Thus convinced of the universal presence of water, he declared it to be the first principle of things. 403

And now, from this brief statement of the Thalean physics, are we to conclude that he recognized only a material cause of the universe? Such is the impression we receive from the reading of the First Book of Aristotle's Metaphysics. His evident purpose is to prove that the first philosophers of the Ionian school did not recognize an efficient cause. In his opinion, they were decidedly materialistic. Now to question the authority of Aristotle may appear to many an act of presumption. But Aristotle was not infallible; and nothing is more certain than that in more than one instance he does great injustice to his predecessors. 404 To him, unquestionably, belongs the honor of having made a complete and exhaustive classification of causes, but there certainly does appear something more than vanity in the assumption that he, of all the Greek philosophers, was the only one who recognized them all. His sagacious classification was simply a resumè of the labors of his predecessors. His "principles" or "causes" were incipient in the thought of the first speculators in philosophy. Their accurate definition and clearer presentation was the work of ages of analytic thought. The phrases "efficient," "formal," "final" cause, are, we grant, peculiar to Aristotle; the ideas were equally the possession of his predecessors.

Footnote 403: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iii.
Footnote 404: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 77; Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 77.

The evidence, we think, is conclusive that, with this primal element (water), Thales associated a formative principle of motion; to the "material" he added the "efficient" cause. A strong presumption in favor of this opinion is grounded on the psychological views of Thales. The author of "De Placitis Philosophorum" associates him with Pythagoras and Plato, in teaching that the soul is incorporeal, making it naturally self-active, and an intelligent substance. 405 And it is admitted by 285 Aristotle (rather unwillingly, we grant, but his testimony is all the more valuable on that account) that, in his time, the opinion that the soul is a principle, ἀεικίνητον--ever moving, or essentially self-active, was currently ascribed to Thales. "If we may rely on the notices of Thales, he too would seem to have conceived the soul as a moving principle." 406 Extending this idea, that the soul is a moving principle, he held that all motion in the universe was due to the presence of a living soul. "He is reported to have said that the loadstone possessed a soul because it could move iron." 407 And he taught that "the world itself is animated, and full of gods." 408 "Some think that soul and life is mingled with the whole universe; and thence, perhaps, was that [opinion] of Thales that all things are full of gods," 409 portions, as Aristotle said, of the universal soul. These views are quite in harmony with the theology which makes the Deity the moving energy of the universe--the energy which wrought the successive transformations of the primitive aqueous element. They also furnish a strong corroboration of the positive statement of Cicero--"Aquam, dixit Thales, esse initium rerum, Deum autem eam mentem quæ ex aqua cuncta fingeret." Thales said that water is the first principle of things, but God was that mind which formed all things out of water; 410 as also that still more remarkable saying of Thales, recorded by Diogenes Laertius; "God is the most ancient of all things, for he had no birth; the world is the most beautiful of all things, for it is the workmanship of God." 411 We are aware that some historians of philosophy reject the statement of Cicero, because, say they, "it does violence to the chronology of speculation." 412 Following Hegel, they assert that Thales could have no conception of God as Intelligence, since that is a conception of a more advanced philosophy. Such an opinion may be naturally expected from the philosopher who places God, not 286 at the commencement, but at the end of things, God becoming conscious and intelligent in humanity. If, then, Hegel teaches that God himself has had a progressive development, it is no wonder he should assert that the idea of God has also had an historic development, the last term of which is an intelligent God. But he who believes that the idea of God as the infinite and the perfect is native to the human mind, and that God stands at the beginning of the entire system of things, will feel there is a strong à priori ground for the belief that Thales recognized the existence of an intelligent God who fashioned the universe.

Footnote 405: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 71.
Footnote 406: (return) Aristotle, "De Anima," i. 2, 17.
Footnote 407: (return) Id., ib., i. 2, 17.
Footnote 408: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," p. 18 (Bohn's ed.).
Footnote 409: (return) Aristotle, "De Anima," i. 17.
Footnote 410: (return) "De Natura Deor.," bk. i. ch. x.
Footnote 411: (return) "Lives," etc., p. 19.
Footnote 412: (return) Lewes's "Hist. Philos.," p. 4.

Anaximenes of Miletus (B.C. 529-480) we place next to Thales in the consecutive history of thought. It has been usual to rank Anaximander next to the founder of the Ionian School. The entire complexion of his system is, however, unlike that of a pupil of Thales. And we think a careful consideration of his views will justify our placing him at the head of the Mechanical or Atomic division of the Ionian school. Anaximenes is the historical successor of Thales; he was unquestionably a vitalist. He took up the speculation where Thales had left it, and he carried it a step forward in its development. 413

Pursuing the same method as Thales, he was not, however, satisfied with the conclusion he had reached. Water was not to Anaximenes the most significant, neither was it the most universal element. But air seemed universally present. "The earth was a broad leaf resting upon it. All things were produced from it; all things were resolved into it. When he breathed he drew in a part of this universal life. All things are nourished by air." 414 Was not, therefore, air the ἀρχή, or primal element of things?

Footnote 413: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 203.
Footnote 414: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 7.

This brief notice of the physical speculations of Anaximenes is all that has survived of his opinions. We search in vain for some intimations of his theological views. On this merely 287 negative ground, some writers have unjustly charged him with Atheism. Were we to venture a conjecture, we would rather say that there are indications of a tendency to Pantheism in that form of it which associates God necessarily with the universe, but does not utterly confound them. His fixing upon "air" as the primal element, seems an effort to reconcile, in some apparently intermediate substance, the opposite qualities of corporeal and spiritual natures. Air is invisible, impalpable, all-penetrating, and yet in some manner appreciable to sense. May not the vital transformations of this element have produced all the rest? The writer of the Article on Anaximenes in the Encyclopædia Britannica tells us (on what ancient authorities he saith not) that "he asserted this air was God, since the divine power resides in it and agitates it."

Some indications of the views of Anaximenes may perhaps be gathered from the teachings of Diogenes of Apollonia (B.C. 520-490,) who was the disciple, and is generally regarded as the commentator and expounder of the views of Anaximenes. The air of Diogenes was a soul; therefore it was living, and not only living, but conscious and intelligent. "It knows much," says he; "for without reason it would be impossible for all to be arranged duly and proportionately; and whatever objects we consider will be found to be so arranged and ordered in the best and most beautiful manner." 415 Here we have a distinct recognition of the fundamental axiom that mind is the only valid explanation of the order and harmony which pervades the universe. With Diogenes the first principle is a "divine air," which is vital, conscious, and intelligent, which spontaneously evolves itself, and which, by its ceaseless transformations, produces all phenomena. The soul of man is a detached portion of this divine element; his body is developed or evolved therefrom. The theology of Diogenes, and, as we believe, of his master, Anaximenes also, was a species of Materialistic Pantheism.

Footnote 415: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 8; Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 214.

Heraclitus of Ephesus(B.C. 503-420) comes next in the order of speculative thought. In his philosophy, fire is the ἀρχή, or first principle; but not fire in the usual acceptation of that term. The Heraclitean "fire" is not flame, which is only an intensity of fire, but a warm, dry vapor--an ether, which may be illustrated, perhaps, by the "caloric" of modern chemistry. This "ether" was the primal element out of which the universe was formed; it was also a vital power or principle which animated the universe, and, in fact, the cause of all its successive phenomenal changes. "The world," he said, "was neither made by the gods nor men, and it was, and is, and ever shall be, an ever-living fire, in due proportion self-enkindled, and in due measure self-extinguished." 416 The universe is thus reduced to "an eternal fire," whose ceaseless energy is manifested openly in the work of dissolution, and yet secretly, but universally, in the work of renovation. The phenomena of the universe are explained by Heraclitus as "the concurrence of opposite tendencies and efforts in the motions of this ever-living fire, out of which results the most beautiful harmony. This harmony of the world is one of conflicting impulses, like the lyre and the bow. The strife between opposite tendencies is the parent of all things. All life is change, and change is strife." 417

Footnote 416: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 235.
Footnote 417: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 70; Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 244.

Heraclitus was the first to proclaim the doctrine of the perpetual fluxion of the universe (τὸ ῥέον, τὸ γιγνόµενον--Unrest and Development), the endless changes of matter, and the mutability and perishability of all individual things. This restless, changing flow of things, which never are, but always are becoming, he pronounced to be the One and the All.

From this statement of the physical theory of Heraclitus we might naturally infer that he was a Hylopathean Atheist. Such an hypothesis would not, however, be truthful or legitimate. On a more careful examination, his system will be found to stand half-way between the materialistic and the spiritual conception 289 of the Author of the universe, and marks, indeed, a transition from the one to the other. Heraclitus unquestionably held that all substance is material, for a philosopher who proclaims, as he did, that the senses are the only source of knowledge, must necessarily attach himself to a material element as the primary one. And yet he seems to have spiritualized matter. "The moving unit of Heraclitus--the Becoming--is as immaterial as the resting unit of the Eleatics--the Being." 418 The Heraclitean "fire" is endowed with spiritual attributes. "Aristotle calls it ψυχή--soul, and says that it is ἀσωµατώτατον, or absolutely incorporeal ("De Anima," i. 2. 16). It is, in effect, the common ground of the phenomena both of mind and matter it is not only the animating, but also the intelligent and regulating principle of the universe; the Ξυνὸς Λόγος, or universal Word or Reason, which it behooves all men to follow." 419 The psychology of Heraclitus throws additional light upon his theological opinions. With him human intelligence is a detached portion of the Universal Reason. "Inhaling," said he, "through the breath the Universal Ether, which is Divine Reason, we become conscious." The errors and imperfections of humanity are consequently to be ascribed to a deficiency of the Divine Reason in man. Whilst, therefore, the theory of Heraclitus seems to materialize mind, it may, with equal fairness, be said to spiritualize matter.

Footnote 418: (return) Zeller's "History of Greek Philosophy," vol. i. p. 57.
Footnote 419: (return) Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 297, note.

The general inference, therefore, from all that remains of the doctrine of Heraclitus is that he was a Materialistic Pantheist. His God was a living, rational, intelligent Ether--a soul pervading the universe. The form of the universe, its ever-changing phenomena, were a necessary emanation from, or a perpetual transformation of, this universal soul.

With Heraclitus we close our survey of that sect of the physical school which regarded the world as a living organism.

The second subdivision of the physical school, the Mechanical 290 or Atomist theorists, attempted the explanation of the universe by analogies derived from mechanical collocations, arrangements, and movements. The universe was regarded by them as a vast superstructure built up from elemental particles, aggregated by some inherent force or mutual affinity.

Anaximander of Miletus (born B.C. 610) we place at the head of the Mechanical sect of the Ionian school; first, on the authority of Aristotle, who intimates that the philosophic dogmata of Anaximander "resemble those of Democritus," who was certainly an Atomist; and, secondly, because we can clearly trace a genetic connection between the opinions of Democritus and Leucippus and those of Anaximander.

The ἀρχή, or first principle of Anaximander, was τὸ ἄπειρον, the boundless, the illimitable, the infinite. Some historians of philosophy have imagined that the infinite of Anaximander was the "unlimited all," and have therefore placed him at the head of the Italian or "idealistic school." These writers are manifestly in error. Anaximander was unquestionably a sensationalist. Whatever his "infinite" may be found to be, one thing is clear, it was not a "metaphysical infinite"--it did not include infinite power, much less infinite mind.

The testimony of Aristotle is conclusive that by "the infinite" Anaximander understood the multitude of primary, material particles. He calls it "a µῖγµα, or mixture of elements." 420 It was, in fact, a chaos--an original state in which the primary elements existed in a chaotic combination without limitation or division. He assumed a certain "prima materia," which was neither air, nor water, nor fire, but a "mixture" of all, to be the first principle of the universe. The account of the opinions of Anaximander which is given by Plutarch ("De Placita," etc.) is a further confirmation of our interpretation of his infinite. "Anaximander, the Milesian, affirmed the infinite to be the first principle, and that all things are generated out of it, and corrupted again into it. His infinite is nothing else but matter." "Whence," says Cudworth, "we conclude that Anaximander's 291 infinite was nothing else but an infinite chaos of matter, in which were actually or potentially contained all manner of qualities, by the fortuitous secretion and segregation of which he supposed infinite worlds to be successively generated and corrupted. So that we may easily guess whence Leucippus and Democritus had their infinite worlds, and perceive how near akin these two Atheistic hypotheses were." 421 The reader, whose curiosity may lead him to consult the authorities collected by Cudworth (pp. 185-188), will find in the doctrine of Anaximander a rude anticipation of the modern theories of "spontaneous generation" and "the transmutation of species." In the fragments of Anaximander that remain we find no recognition of an ordering Mind, and his philosophy is the dawn of a Materialistic school.

Footnote 420: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. xi. ch. ii.
Footnote 421: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. pp. 186, 187.

Leucippus of Miletus (B.C. 500-400) appears, in the order of speculation, as the successor of Anaximander. Atoms and space are, in his philosophy, the ἀρχαί, or first principles of all things. "Leucippus (and his companion, Democritus) assert that the plenum and the vacuum [i.e., body and space] are the first principles, whereof one is the Ens, the other Non-ens; the differences of the body, which are only figure, order, and position, are the causes of all others." 422

Footnote 422: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," p. 21 (Bohn's edition).

He also taught that the elements, and the worlds derived from them, are infinite. He describes the manner in which the worlds are produced as follows: "Many bodies of various kinds and shapes are borne by amputation from the infinite [i.e., the chaotic µῖγµα of Anaximander] into a vast vacuum, and then they, being collected together, produce a vortex; according to which, they, dashing against each other, and whirling about in every direction, are separated in such a way that like attaches itself to like; bodies are thus, without ceasing, united according to the impulse given by the vortex, and in this way the earth was produced." 423 Thus, through a boundless 292 void, atoms infinite in number and endlessly diversified in form are eternally wandering; and, by their aggregation, infinite worlds are successively produced. These atoms are governed in their movements by a dark negation of intelligence, designated "Fate," and all traces of a Supreme Mind disappear in his philosophy. It is a system of pure materialism, which, in fact, is Atheism.

Footnote 423: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 389.

Democritus of Abdera (B.C. 460-357), the companion of Leucippus, also taught "that atoms and the vacuum were the beginning of the universe." 424 These atoms, he taught, were infinite in number, homogeneous, extended, and possessed of those primary qualities of matter which are necessarily involved in extension in space--as size, figure, situation, divisibility, and mobility. From the combination of these atoms all other existences are produced; fire, air, earth, and water; sun, moon, and stars; plants, animals, and men; the soul itself is an aggregation of round, moving atoms. And "motion, which is the cause of the production of every thing, he calls necessity." 425 Atoms are thus the only real existences; these, without any pre-existent mind, or intelligence, were the original of all things.

Footnote 424: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 395.
Footnote 425: (return) Id, ib., p. 394.

The psychological opinions of Democritus were as decidedly materialistic as his physical theories. All knowledge is derived from sensation. It is only by material impact that we can know the external world, and every sense is, in reality, a kind of touch. Material images are being continually thrown off from the surface of external objects which come into actual contact with the organs of sense. The primary qualities of matter, that is, those which are involved in extension in space, are the only objects of real knowledge; the secondary qualities of matter, as softness, hardness, sweetness, bitterness, and the like, are but modifications of the human sensibilities. "The sweet exists only in form--the bitter in form, hot in form, color in form; but in causal reality only atoms and space exist. The sensible things which are supposed by opinion 293 to exist have no real existence, but atoms and space alone exist." 426

Footnote 426: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 96. The words of Democritus, as reported by Sextus Empiricus.

Thus by Democritus was laid the basis of a system of absolute materialism, which was elaborated and completed by Epicurus, and has been transmitted to our times. It has undergone some slight modifications, adapting it to the progress of physical science; but it is to-day substantially the theory of Democritus. In Democritus we have the culmination of the mechanical theory of the Ionian or Physical school. In physics and psychology it terminated in pure materialism. In theology it ends in positive Atheism.

The fundamental error of all the philosophers of the physical school was the assumption, tacitly or avowedly, that sense-perception is the only source of knowledge. This was the fruitful source of all their erroneous conclusions, the parent of all their materialistic tendencies. This led them continually to seek an ἀρχή, or first principle of the universe, which should, under some form, be appreciable to sense; and consequently the course of thought tended naturally towards materialism.

Thales was unquestionably a dualist. Instructed by traditional intimations, or more probably guided by the spontaneous apperceptions of reason, he recognized, with more or less distinctness, an incorporeal Deity as the moving, animating, and organizing cause of the universe. The idea of God is a truth so self-evident as to need no demonstration. The human mind does not attain to the idea of a God as the last consequence of a series of antecedent principles. It comes at once, by an inherent and necessary movement of thought, to the recognition of God as the First Principle of all principles. But when, instead of hearkening to the simple and spontaneous intuitions of the mind, man turns to the world of sense, and loses himself in discursive thought, the conviction of a personal God becomes obscured. Then, amid the endlessly diversified phenomena of the universe, he seeks for a cause or origin which in some form 294 shall be appreciable to sense. The mere study of material phenomena, scientifically or unscientifically conducted, will never yield the sense of the living God. Nature must be interpreted, can only be interpreted in the light of certain à priori principles of reason, or we can never "ascend from nature up to nature's God." Within the circle of mere sense-perception, the dim and undeveloped consciousness of God will be confounded with the universe. Thus, in Anaximenes, God is partially confounded with "air," which becomes a symbol; then a vehicle of the informing mind; and the result is a semi-pantheism. In Heraclitus, the "ether" is, at first, a semi-symbol of the Deity; at length, God is utterly confounded with this ether, or "rational fire," and the result is a definite materialistic pantheism. And, finally, when this feeling or dim consciousness of God, which dwells in all human souls, is not only disregarded, but pronounced to be an illusion--a phantasy; when all the analogies which intelligence suggests are disregarded, and a purely mechanical theory of the universe is adopted, the result is the utter negation of an Intelligent Cause, that is, absolute Atheism, as in Leucippus and Democritus.








In the previous chapter we commenced our inquiry with the assumption that, in the absence of the true inductive method of philosophy which observes, and classifies, and generalizes facts, and thence attains a general principle or law, two only methods were possible to the early speculators who sought an explanation of the universe--1st, That of reasoning from physical analogies; or, 2d, That of deduction from rational conceptions, or à priori ideas.

Accordingly we found that one class of speculators fixed their attention solely on the mere phenomena of nature, and endeavored, amid sensible things, to find a single element which, being more subtile, and pliable, and universally diffused, could be regarded as the ground and original of all the rest, and from which, by a vital transformation, or by a mechanical combination and arrangement of parts, all the rest should be evolved. The other class passed beyond the simple phenomena, and considered only the abstract relations of phenomena among themselves, or the relations of phenomena to the necessary and universal ideas of the reason, and supposed that, in these relations, they had found an explanation of the universe. The former was the Ionian or Sensation school; the latter was the Italian or Idealist school.

We have traced the method according to which the Ionian 296 school proceeded, and estimated the results attained. We now come to consider the method and results of


This school we have found to be naturally subdivided into--1st, The Mathematical sect, which attempted the explanation of the universe by the abstract conceptions of number, proportion, order, and harmony; and, 2d, The Metaphysical school, which attempted the interpretation of the universe according to the à priori ideas of unity, of Being in se, of the Infinite, and the Absolute.

Pythagoras of Samos(born B.C. 605) was the founder of the Mathematical school.

We are conscious of the difficulties which are to be encountered by the student who seeks to attain a definite comprehension of the real opinions of Pythagoras. The genuineness of many of those writings which were once supposed to represent his views, is now questioned. "Modern criticism has clearly shown that the works ascribed to Timæus and Archytas are spurious; and the treatise of Ocellus Lucanus on 'The Nature of the All' can not have been written by a Pythagorean." 427 The only writers who can be regarded as at all reliable are Plato and Aristotle; and the opinions they represent are not so much those of Pythagoras as "the Pythagoreans." This is at once accounted for by the fact that Pythagoras taught in secret, and did not commit his opinions to writing. His disciples, therefore, represent the tendency rather than the actual tenets of his system; these were no doubt modified by the mental habits and tastes of his successors.

Footnote 427: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 24.

We may safely assume that the proposition from which Pythagoras started was the fundamental idea of all Greek speculation--that beneath the fleeting forms and successive changes of the universe there is some permanent principle of unity 428 The 297 Ionian school sought that principle in some common physical element; Pythagoras sought, not for "elements," but for "relations," and through these relations for ultimate laws indicating primal forces.

Footnote 428: (return) See Plato, "Timæus," ch. ix. p. 331 (Bohn's edition); Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. v. ch. iii.

Aristotle affirms that Pythagoras taught "that numbers are the first principles of all entities," and, "as it were, a material cause of things," 429 or, in other words, "that numbers are substances that involve a separate subsistence, and are primary causes of entities." 430

Footnote 429: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. v.
Footnote 430: (return) Id., ib., bk. xii. ch. vi.

Are we then required to accept the dictum of Aristotle as final and decisive? Did Pythagoras really teach that numbers are real entities--the substance and cause of all other existences? The reader may be aware that this is a point upon which the historians of philosophy are not agreed. Ritter is decidedly of opinion that the Pythagorean formula "can only be taken symbolically." 431 Lewes insists it must be understood literally. 432 On a careful review of all the arguments, we are constrained to regard the conclusion of Ritter as most reasonable. The hypothesis "that numbers are real entities" does violence to every principle of common sense. This alone constitutes a strong à priori presumption that Pythagoras did not entertain so glaring an absurdity. The man who contributed so much towards perfecting the mathematical sciences, who played so conspicuous a part in the development of ancient philosophy, and who exerted so powerful a determining influence on the entire current of speculative thought, did not obtain his ascendency over the intellectual manhood of Greece by the utterance of such enigmas. And further, in interpreting the philosophic opinions of the ancients, we must be guided by this fundamental canon--"The human mind has, under the necessary operation of its own laws, been compelled to entertain the same fundamental ideas, and the human heart to cherish the same feelings in all ages." Now if a careful philosophic 298 criticism can not render the reported opinions of an ancient teacher into the universal language of the reason and heart of humanity, we must conclude either that his opinions were misunderstood and misrepresented by some of his successors, or else that he stands in utter isolation, both from the present and the past. His doctrine has, then, no relation to the successions of thought, and no place in the history of philosophy. Nay, more, such a doctrine has in it no element of vitality, no germ of eternal truth, and must speedily perish. Now it is well known that the teaching of Pythagoras awakened the deepest intellectual sympathy of his age; that his doctrine exerted a powerful influence on the mind of Plato, and, through him, upon succeeding ages; and that, in some of its aspects, it now survives, and is more influential to-day than in any previous age; but this element of immutable and eternal truth was certainly not contained in the inane and empty formula, "that numbers are real existences, the causes of all other existences!" If the fame of Pythagoras had rested on such "airy nothings," it would have melted away before the time of Plato.

Footnote 431: (return) "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 359.
Footnote 432: (return) "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 38.

We grant there is considerable force in the argument of Lewes. He urges, with some pertinence, the unquestionable fact that Aristotle asserts, again and again, that the Pythagoreans taught "that numbers are the principles and substance of things as well as the causes of their modifications;" and he argues that we are not justified in rejecting the authority of Aristotle, unless better evidence can be produced.

So far, however, as the authority of Aristotle is concerned, even Lewes himself charges him, in more than one instance, with strangely misrepresenting the opinions of his predecessors. 433 Aristotle is evidently wanting in that impartiality which 299 ought to characterize the historian of philosophy, and, sometimes, we are compelled to question his integrity. Indeed, throughout his "Metaphysics" he exhibits the egotism and vanity of one who imagines that he alone, of all men, has the full vision of the truth. In Books I. and XII. he uniformly associates the "numbers" of Pythagoras with the "forms" and "ideas" of Plato. He asserts that Plato identifies "forms" and "numbers," and regards them as real entities--substances, and causes of all other things. "Forms are numbers 434... so Plato affirmed, similar with the Pythagoreans; and the dogma that numbers are causes to other things--of their substance-he, in like manner, asserted with them." 435 And then, finally, he employs the same arguments in refuting the doctrines of both.

Footnote 433: (return) "Aristotle uniformly speaks disparagingly of Anaxagoras" (Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy"). He represents him as employing mind (νοῦς) simply as "a machine" for the production of the world;--"when he finds himself in perplexity as to the cause of its being necessarily an orderly system, he then drags it (mind) in by force to his assistance" "Metaphysics," (bk. i. ch. iv.). But he is evidently inconsistent with himself, for in "De Anima" (bk. i. ch. ii.) he tells us that "Anaxagoras saith that mind is at once a cause of motion in the whole universe, and also of well and fit." We may further ask, is not the idea of fitness--of the good and the befitting--the final cause, even according to Aristotle?

He also totally misrepresents Plato's doctrine of "Ideas." "Plato's Ideas," he says, "are substantial existences--real beings" ("Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. ix.). Whereas, as we shall subsequently show, "they are objects of pure conception for human reason, and they are attributes of the Divine Reason. It is there they substantially exist." (Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 415). It is also pertinent to inquire, what is the difference between the "formal cause" of Aristotle and the archetypal ideas of Plato? and is not Plato's τὸ ἀγαθόν the "final cause?" Yet Aristotle is forever congratulating himself that he alone has properly treated the "formal" and the "final cause!"

Footnote 434: (return) This, however, was not the doctrine of Plato. He does not say "forms are numbers." He says: "God formed things as they first arose according to forms and numbers." See "Timaeus," ch. xiv. and xxvii.
Footnote 435: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.

Now the writings of Plato are all extant to-day, and accessible in an excellent English translation to any of our readers. Cousin has shown, 436 most conclusively (and we can verify his conclusions for ourselves), that Aristotle has totally misrepresented Plato. And if, in the same connection, and in the course of the same argument, and in regard to the same subjects, he misrepresents Plato, it is most probable he also misrepresents Pythagoras.

Footnote 436: (return) "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," pp. 77-81.

It is, however, a matter of the deepest interest for us to find the evidence gleaming out here and there, on the pages of Aristotle, that he had some knowledge of the fact that the Pythagorean numbers were regarded as symbols. The "numbers" of Pythagoras are, in the mind of Aristotle, clearly identified with the "forms" of Plato. Now, in Chapter VI. of the First Book he says that Plato taught that these "forms" were παραδείγµατα--models, patterns, exemplars after which created things were framed. The numbers of Pythagoras, then, are also models and exemplars. This also is admitted by Aristotle. The Pythagoreans indeed affirm that entities subsist by an imitation (µίµησις) of numbers. 437 Now if ideas, forms, numbers, were the models or paradigms after which "the Operator" formed all things, surely it can not be logical to say they were the "material" out of which all things were framed, much less the "efficient cause" of things. The most legitimate conclusion we can draw, even from the statements of Aristotle, is that the Pythagoreans regarded numbers as the best expression or representation of those laws of proportion, and order, and harmony, which seemed, to their eyes, to pervade the universe. Their doctrine was a faint glimpse of that grand discovery of modern science--that all the higher laws of nature assume the form of a precise quantitative statement.

Footnote 437: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.

The fact seems to be this, the Pythagoreans busied themselves chiefly with what Aristotle designates "the formal cause," and gave little attention to the inquiry concerning "the material cause." This is admitted by Aristotle. Concerning fire, or earth, or the other bodies of such kind, they have declared nothing whatsoever, inasmuch as affirming, in my opinion, nothing that is peculiar concerning sensible natures. 438 They looked, as we have previously remarked, to the relations of phenomena, and having discovered certain "numerical similitudes," they imagined they had attained an universal principle, or law. "If all the essential properties and attributes of things were fully represented by the relations of numbers, the philosophy 301 which supplied such an explanation of the universe might well be excused from explaining, also, that existence of objects, which is distinct from the existence of all their qualities and properties. The Pythagorean doctrine of numbers might have been combined with the doctrine of atoms, and the combination might have led to results worthy of notice. But, so far as we are aware, no such combination was attempted, and perhaps we of the present day are only just beginning to perceive, through the disclosures of chemistry and crystallography, the importance of such an inquiry." 439

Footnote 438: (return) Id., ib., bk. i. ch. ix.
Footnote 439: (return) Whewell's "History of Inductive Sciences," vol. i. p. 78.

These preliminary considerations will have cleared and prepared the way for a fuller presentation of the philosophic system of Pythagoras. The most comprehensive and satisfactory exposition of his "method" is that given by Wm Archer Butler in his "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," and we feel we can not do better than condense his pages. 440

Footnote 440: (return) Lecture VI. vol. i.

Pythagoras had long devoted his intellectual adoration to the lofty idea of order, which seemed to reveal itself to his mind, as the presiding genius of the serene and silent world. He had, from his youth, dwelt with delight upon the eternal relations of space, and determinate form, and number, in which the very idea of proportion seems to find its first and immediate development, and without the latter of which (number), all proportion is absolutely inconceivable. To this ardent genius, whose inventive energies were daily adding new and surprising contributions to the sum of discoverable relations, it at length began to appear as if the whole secret of the universe was hidden in these mysterious correspondences.

In making this extensive generalization, Pythagoras may, on his known principles, be supposed to have reasoned as follows: The mind of man perceives the relations of an eternal order in the proportions of space, and form, and number. That mind is, no doubt, a portion of the soul which animates and governs the universe; for on what other supposition shall we account 302 for its internal principle of activity--the very principle which characterizes the prime mover, and can scarce be ascribed to an inferior nature? And on what other supposition are we to explain the identity which subsists between the principles of order, authenticated by the reason and the facts of order which are found to exist in the forms and multiplicities around us, and independent of us? Can this sameness be other than the sameness of the internal and external principles of a common nature? The proportions of the universe inhere in its divine soul; they are indeed its very essence, or at least, its attributes. The ideas or principles of Order which are implanted in the human reason, must inhere in the Divine Reason, and must be reflected in the visible world, which is its product. Man, then, can boldly affirm the necessary harmony of the world, because he has in his own mind a revelation which declares that the world, in its real structure, must be the image and copy of that divine proportion which he inwardly adores. 441

Footnote 441: (return) It is an opinion which goes as far back as the time of Plato, and even Pythagoras, and has ever since been widely entertained, that beauty of form consists in some sort of proportion or harmony which may admit of a mathematical expression; and later and more scientific research is altogether in its favor. It is now established that complementary colors, that is, colors which when combined make up the full beam, are felt to be beautiful when seen simultaneously; that is, the mind is made to delight in the unities of nature. At the basis of music there are certain fixed ratios; and in poetry, of every description, there are measures, and correspondencies. Pythagoras has often been ridiculed for his doctrine of "the music of the spheres;" and probably his doctrine was somewhat fanciful, but later science shows that there is a harmony in all nature--in its forms, in its forces, and in its motions. The highest unorganized and all organized objects take definite forms which are regulated by mathematical laws. The forces of nature can be estimated in numbers, and light and heat go in undulations, whilst the movements of the great bodies in nature admit of a precise quantitative expression. The harmonies of nature in respect of color, of number, of form, and of time are forcibly exhibited in "Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation," by M'Cosh.

Again, the world is assuredly perfect, as being the sensible image and copy of the Divinity, the outward and multiple development of the Eternal Unity. It must, therefore, when thoroughly known and properly interpreted, answer to all which 303 we can conceive as perfect; that is, it must be regulated by laws, of which we have the highest principles in those first and elementary properties of numbers which stand next to unity. "The world is then, through all its departments, a living arithmetic in its development, a realized geometry in its repose." It is a κόσµος (for the word is purely Pythagorean)--the expression of harmony, the manifestation, to sense, of everlasting order.

Though Pythagoras found in geometry the fitting initiative for abstract speculation, it is remarkable that he himself preferred to constitute the science of Numbers as the true representative of the laws of the universe. The reason appears to be this: that though geometry speaks indeed of eternal truths, yet when the notion of symmetry and proportion is introduced, it is often necessary to insist, in preference, upon the properties of numbers. Hence, though the universe displays the geometry of its Constructor or Animator, yet nature was eminently defined as the µίµησις τῶν ἀριθµῶν--the imitation of numbers.

The key to all the Pythagorean dogmas, then, seems to be the general formula of unity in multiplicity:--unity either evolving itself into multiplicity, or unity discovered as pervading multiplicity. The principle of all things, the same principle which in this philosophy, as in others, was customarily called Deity, is the primitive unit from which all proceeds in the accordant relations of the universal scheme. Into the sensible world of multitude, the all-pervading Unity has infused his own ineffable nature; he has impressed his own image upon that world which is to represent him in the sphere of sense and man. What, then, is that which is at once single and multiple, identical and diversified--which we perceive as the combination of a thousand elements, yet as the expression of a single spirit--which is a chaos to the sense, a cosmos to the reason? What is it but harmony--proportion--the one governing the many, the many lost in the one? The world is therefore a harmony in innumerable degrees, from the most complicated to the most simple: it is now a Triad, combining the Monad and the Duad, and partaking of the nature of both; now a Tetrad, 304 the form of perfection; now a Decad, which, in combining the four former, involves, in its mystic nature, all the possible accordances of the universe. 442

The psychology of the Pythagoreans was greatly modified by their physical, and still more, by their moral tenets. The soul was ἀριθµὸς ἑαυτὸν κινῶν--a self-moving number or Monad, the copy (as we have seen) of that Infinite Monad which unfolds from its own incomprehensible essence all the relations of the universe. This soul has three elements, Reason (νοῦς), Intelligence (φρήν), and Passion (θυµός). The two last, man has in common with brutes, the first is his grand and peculiar characteristic. It has, hence, been argued that Pythagoras could not have held the doctrine of "transmigration." This clear separation of man from the brute, by this signal endowment of reason, which is sempiternal, seems a refutation of those who charge him with the doctrine.

In the department of morals, the legislator of Crotona found his appropriate sphere. In his use of numerical notation, moral good was essential unity--evil, essential plurality and division. In the fixed truths of mathematical abstractions he found the exemplars of social and personal virtue. The rule or law of all morality is resemblance to God; that is, the return of number to its root, to unity, 443 and virtue is thus a harmony.

Footnote 442: (return) That is, 1+2+3+4=10. There are intimations that the Pythagoreans regarded the Monad as God, the Duad as matter, the Triad as the complex phenomena of the world, the Tetrad as the completeness of all its relations, the Decad as the cosmos, or harmonious whole.
Footnote 443: (return) Aristotle, "Nichomachian Ethics," bk. i. ch. vi.

Thus have we, in Pythagoras, the dawn of an Idealist school; for mathematics are founded upon abstractions, and there is consequently an intimate connection between mathematics and idealism. The relations of space, and number, and determinate form, are, like the relations of cause and effect, of phenomena and substance, perceptible only in thought; and the mind which has been disciplined to abstract thought by the study of mathematics, is prepared and disposed for purely metaphysical studies. "The looking into mathematical learning is a kind 305 of prelude to the contemplation of real being." 444 Therefore Plato inscribed over the door of his academy, "Let none but Geometricians enter here." To the mind thus disciplined in abstract thinking, the conceptions and ideas of reason have equal authority, sometimes even superior authority, to the perceptions of sense.

Footnote 444: (return) Alcinous, "Introduction to the Doctrines of Plato," ch. vii.

Now if the testimony of both reason and sense, as given in consciousness, is accepted as of equal authority, and each faculty is regarded as, within its own sphere, a source of real, valid knowledge, then a consistent and harmonious system of Natural Realism or Natural Dualism will be the result. If the testimony of sense is questioned and distrusted, and the mind is denied any immediate knowledge of the sensible world, and yet the existence of an external world is maintained by various hypotheses and reasonings, the consequence will be a species of Hypothetical Dualism or Cosmothetic Idealism. But if the affirmations of reason, as to the unity of the cosmos, are alone accepted, and the evidence of the senses, as to the variety and multiplicity of the world, is entirely disregarded, then we have a system of Absolute Idealism. Pythagoras regarded the harmony which pervades the diversified phenomena of the outer world as a manifestation of the unity of its eternal principle, or as the perpetual evolution of that unity, and the consequent tendency of his system was to depreciate the sensible. Following out this tendency, the Eleatics first neglected, and finally denied the variety of the universe--denied the real existence of the external world, and asserted an absolute metaphysical unity.

Xenophanes of Colophon, in Ionia (B.C. 616-516), was the founder of this celebrated school of Elea. He left Ionia, and arrived in Italy about the same time as Pythagoras, bringing with him to Italy his Ionian tendencies; he there amalgamated them with Pythagorean speculations.

Pythagoras had succeeded in fixing the attention of his countrymen on the harmony which pervades the material world, 306 and had taught them to regard that harmony as the manifestation of the intelligence, and unity, and perfection of its eternal principle. Struck with this idea of harmony and of unity, Xenophanes, who was a poet, a rhapsodist, and therefore by native tendency, rather than by intellectual discipline, an Idealist, begins already to attach more importance to unity than multiplicity in his philosophy of nature. He regards the testimony of reason as of more authority than the testimony of sense; "and he holds badly enough the balance between the unity of the Pythagoreans and the variety which Heraclitus and the Ionians had alone considered." 445

We are not, however, to suppose that Xenophanes denied entirely the existence of plurality. "The great Rhapsodist of Truth" was guided by the spontaneous intuitions of his mind (which seemed to partake of the character of an inspiration), to a clearer vision of the truth than were his successors of the same school by their discursive reasonings. "The One" of Xenophanes was clearly distinguished from the outward universe (τὰ πολλά) on the one hand, and from the "non-ens" on the other. It was his disciple, Parmenides, who imagined the logical necessity of identifying plurality with the "non-ens" and thus denying all immediate cognition of the phenomenal world. The compactness and logical coherence of the system of Parmenides seems to have had a peculiar charm for the Grecian mind, and to have diverted the eyes of antiquity from the views of the more earnest and devout Xenophanes, whose opinions were too often confounded with those of his successors of the Eleatic school. "Accordingly we find that Xenophanes has obtained credit for much that is, exclusively, the property of Parmenides and Zeno, in particular for denying plurality, and for identifying God with the universe." 446

Footnote 445: (return) Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 440.
Footnote 446: (return) See note by editor, W.H. Thompson, M.A., on pages 331, 332 of Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. His authorities are "Fragments of Xenophanes" and the treatise "De Melisso, Xenophane, et Gorgia," by Aristotle.

In theology, Xenophanes was unquestionably a Theist. He 307 had a profound and earnest conviction of the existence of a God, and he ridiculed with sarcastic force, the anthropomorphic absurdities of the popular religion. This one God, he taught, was self-existent, eternal, and infinite; supreme in power, in goodness, and intelligence. 447 These characteristics are ascribed to the Deity in the sublime words with which he opens his philosophic poem--

"There is one God, of all beings, divine and human, the greatest:

Neither in body alike unto mortals, neither in mind."

He has no parts, no organs, as men have, being

"All sight, all ear, all intelligence;

Wholly exempt from toil, he sways all things by thought and will." 448

Xenophanes also taught that God is "uncreated" or "uncaused," and that he is "excellent" as well as "all-powerful." 449 And yet, regardless of these explicit utterances, Lewes cautions his readers against supposing that, by the "one God," Xenophanes meant a Personal God; and he asserts that his Monotheism was Pantheism. A doctrine, however, which ascribes to the Divine Being moral as well as intellectual supremacy, which acknowledges an outward world distinct from Him, and which represents Him as causing the changes in that universe by the acts of an intelligent volition, can only by a strange perversion of language be called pantheism.

Footnote 447: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 38; Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 428, 429.
Footnote 448: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 432, 434.
Footnote 449: (return) Butler's "Lectures," vol. i. p. 331, note; Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 428.

Parmenides of Elea (born B.C. 536) was the philosopher who framed the psychological opinions of the Idealist school into a precise and comprehensive system. He was the first carefully to distinguish between Truth (ἀλήθειαν) and Opinion (δοξαν)--between ideas obtained through the reason and the simple perceptions of sense. Assuming that reason and sense are the only sources of knowledge, he held that they furnish the mind with two distinct classes of cognitions--one variable, fleeting, 308 and uncertain; the other immutable, necessary, and eternal. Sense is dependent on the variable organization of the individual, and therefore its evidence is changeable, uncertain, and nothing but a mere "seeming." Reason is the same in all individuals, and therefore its evidence is constant, real, and true. Philosophy is, therefore, divided into two branches--Physics and Metaphysics; one, a science of absolute knowledge; the other, a science of mere appearances. The first science, Physics, is pronounced illusory and uncertain; the latter, Metaphysics, is infallible and immutable. 450

Proceeding on these principles, he rejects the dualistic system of the universe, and boldly declared that all essences are fundamentally one--that, in fact, there is no real plurality, and that all the diversity which "appears" is merely presented under a peculiar aesthetic or sensible law. The senses, it is true, teach us that there are "many things," but reason affirms that, at bottom, there exists only "the one." Whatever, therefore, manifests itself in the field of sense is merely illusory--the mental representation of a phenomenal world, which to experience seems diversified, but which reason can not possibly admit to be other than "immovable" and "one." There is but one Being in the universe, eternal, immovable, absolute; and of this unconditioned being all phenomenal existences, whether material or mental, are but the attributes and modes. Hence the two great maxims of the Eleatic school, derived from Parmenides--τὰ πάντα ἕν, "The All is One" and τὸ αὐτὸ νοεῖν τε καὶ εἶναι (Idem est cogitare atque esse), "Thought and Being are identical." The last remarkable dictum is the fundamental principle of the modern pantheistic doctrine of "absolute identity" as taught by Schelling and Hegel. 451

Footnote 450: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 447, 451.
Footnote 451: (return) Id., ib., vol. i. pp. 450, 455.

Lewes asserts that "Parmenides did not, with Xenophanes, call 'the One' God; he called it Being. 452 In support of this statement he, however, cites no ancient authorities. We are 309 therefore justified in rejecting his opinion, and receiving the testimony of Simplicius, "the only authority for the fragments of the Eleatics," 453 and who had a copy of the philosophic poems of Parmenides. He assures us that Parmenides and Xenophanes "affirmed that 'the One,' or unity, was the first Principle of all,....they meaning by this One that highest or supreme God, as being the cause of unity to all things.... It remaineth, therefore, that that Intelligence which is the cause of all things, and therefore of mind and understanding also, in which all things are comprehended in unity, was Parmenides' one Ens or Being. 454 Parmenides was, therefore, a spiritualistic or idealistic Pantheist.

Zeno of Elea (born B.C. 500) was the logician of the Eleatic school. He was, says Diogenes Laertius, "the inventor of Dialectics." 455 Logic henceforth becomes the ὄργανον 456--organon of the Eleatics.

Footnote 452: (return) "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 50.
Footnote 453: (return) Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Simplicius."
Footnote 454: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 511.
Footnote 455: (return) "Lives," p. 387 (Bohn's edition).
Footnote 456: (return) Plato in "Parmen."

This organon, however, Zeno used very imperfectly. In his hands it was simply the "reductio ad absurdum" of opposing opinions as the means of sustaining the tenets of his own sect. Parmenides had asserted, on à priori grounds, the existence of "the One." Zeno would prove by his dialectic the non-existence of "the many." His grand position was that all phenomena, all that appears to sense, is but a modification of the absolute One. And he displays a vast amount of dialectic subtilty in the effort to prove that all "appearances" are unreal, and that all movement and change is a mere "seeming"--not a reality. What men call motion is only a name given to a series of conditions, each of which, considered separately, is rest. "Rest is force resistant; motion is force triumphant." 457 The famous puzzle of "Achilles and the Tortoise," by which he endeavored to prove the unreality of motion, has been rendered familiar to the English reader. 458

Footnote 457: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 60.
Footnote 458: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 475, 476.


Aristotle assures us that Zeno, "by his one Ens, which neither was moved nor movable, meaneth God." And he also informs us that "Zeno endeavored to demonstrate that there is but one God, from the idea which all men have of him, as that which is the best, supremest, most powerful of all, or an absolutely perfect being" ("De Xenophane, Zenone, et Gorgia"). 459

With Zeno we close our survey of the second grand line of independent inquiry by which philosophy sought to solve the problem of the universe. The reader will be struck with the resemblance which subsists between the history of its development and that of the modern Idealist school. Pythagoras was the Descartes, Parmenides the Spinoza, and Zeno the Hegel of the Italian school.

In this survey of the speculations of the pre-Socratic schools of philosophy, we have followed the course of two opposite streams of thought which had their common origin in one fundamental principle or law of the human mind--the intuition of unity--"or the desire to comprehend all the facts of the universe in a single formula, and consummate all conditional knowledge in the unity of unconditioned existence." The history of this tendency is, in fact, the history of all philosophy. "The end of all philosophy," says Plato, "is the intuition of unity." "All knowledge," said the Platonists, "is the gathering up into one." 460

Footnote 459: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. i. p. 518.
Footnote 460: (return) Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. pp. 67-70 (English edition).

Starting from this fundamental idea, that, beneath the endless flux and change of the visible universe, there must be a permanent principle of unity, we have seen developed two opposite schools of speculative thought. As the traveller, standing on the ridges of the Andes, may see the head-waters of the great South American rivers mingling in one, so the student of philosophy, standing on the elevated plane of analytic thought, may discover, 311 in this fundamental principle, the common source of the two great systems of speculative thought which divided the ancient world. Here are the head-waters of the sensational and the idealist schools. The Ionian school started its course of inquiry in the direction of sense; it occupied itself solely with the phenomena of the external world, and it sought this principle of unity in a physical element. The Italian school started its course of inquiry in the direction of reason; it occupied itself chiefly with rational conceptions or à priori ideas, and it sought this principle of unity in purely metaphysical being. And just as the Amazon and La Plata sweep on, in opposite directions, until they reach the extremities of the continent, so these two opposite streams of thought rush onward, by the force of a logical necessity, until they terminate in the two Unitarian systems of Absolute Materialism and Absolute Idealism, and, in their theological aspects, in a pantheism which, on the one hand, identifies God with matter, or, on the other hand, swallows up the universe in God.

The radical error of both these systems is at once apparent. The testimony of the primary faculties of the mind was not regarded as each, within its sphere, final and decisive. The duality of consciousness was not accepted in all its integrity; one school rejected the testimony of reason, the other denied the veracity of the senses, and both prepared the way for the skepticism of the Sophists.

We must not, however, lose sight of the fact that there were some philosophers of the pre-Socratic school, as Anaxagoras and Empedocles, who recognized the partial and exclusive character of both these systems, and sought, by a method which Cousin would designate as Eclecticism, to combine the element of truth contained in each.

Anaxagoras of Clazomencœ (B.C. 500-428) added to the Ionian philosophy of a material element or elements the Italian idea of a spirit distinct from, and independent of the world, which has within itself the principle of a spontaneous activity--Νοῦς αὐτοκρατής, and which is the first cause of motion in the universe--ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως. 461

Footnote 461: (return) Cousin, "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 411.

In his physical theory, Anaxagoras was an Atomist. Instead of one element, he declared that the elements or first principles were numerous, or even infinite. No point in space is unoccupied by these atoms, which are infinitely divisible. He imagined that, in nature, there are as many kinds of principles as there are species of compound bodies, and that the peculiar form of the primary particles of which any body is composed is the same with the qualities of the compound body itself. This was the celebrated doctrine of Homœomeria, of which Lucretius furnishes a luminous account in his philosophic poem "De Natura Rerum"--

"That bone from bones

Minute, and embryon; nerve from nerves arise;

And blood from blood, by countless drops increased.

Gold, too, from golden atoms, earths concrete,

From earths extreme; from fiery matters, fire;

And lymph from limpen dews. And thus throughout

From primal kinds that kinds perpetual spring." 462

These primary particles were regarded by Anaxagoras as eternal; because he held the dogma, peculiar to all the Ionians, that nothing can be really created or annihilated (de nihilo nihil, in nihilum nil posse reverti). But he saw, nevertheless, that the simple existence of "inert" matter, even from eternity, could not explain the motion and the harmony of the material world. Hence he saw the necessity of another power--the power of Intelligence. "All things were in chaos; then came Intelligence and introduced Order." 463

Anaxagoras, unlike the pantheistic speculators of the Ionian school, rigidly separated the Supreme Intelligence from the material universe. The Νοῦς of Anaxagoras is a principle, infinite, independent (αὺτοκρατές), omnipresent (ἐν παντὶ παντὸς µοίοα ἔνον), the subtilest and purest of things (λεπτότατον πάντων χρηµάτων καὶ καθαρώτατον); and incapable of mixture with aught besides; it is also omniscient (πάντα ἔγνω), and unchangeable (πᾶς ὁµοῖός ἐστι).--Simplicius, in "Arist. Phys." i. 33. 464

Footnote 462: (return) Good's translation, bk. i. p. 325.
Footnote 463: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," p. 59.
Footnote 464: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Philosophy," vol. i. p. 305, note.

Thus did Anaxagoras bridge the chasm between the Ionian and the Italian schools. He accepted both doctrines with some modifications. He believed in the real existence of the phenomenal world, and he also believed in the real existence of "The Infinite Mind," whose Intelligence and Omnipotence were manifested in the laws and relations which pervade the world. He proclaimed the existence of the Infinite Intelligence ("the ONE"), who was the Architect and Governor of the Infinite Matter ("the MANY").

On the question as to the origin and certainty of human knowledge, Anaxagoras differed both from the Ionians and the Eleatics. Neither the sense alone, nor the reason alone, were for him a ground of certitude. He held that reason (λόγος) was the regulative faculty of the mind, as the Νοῦς, or Supreme Intelligence, was the regulative power of the universe. And he admitted that the senses were veracious in their reports; but they reported only in regard to phenomena. The senses, then, perceive phenomena, but it is the reason alone which recognizes noumena, that is, the reason perceives being in and through phenomena, substance in and through qualities; an anticipation of the fundamental principle of modern psychology--"that every power or substance in existence is knowable to us, so far only, as we know its phenomena." Thus, again, does he bridge the chasm that separates between the Sensationalist and the Idealist. The Ionians relied solely on the intuitions of sense; the Eleatics accepted only the apperceptions of pure reason; he accepted the testimony of both, and in the synthesis of subject and object--the union of an element supplied by sensation, and an element supplied by reason, he found real, certain knowledge.

The harmony which the doctrine of Anaxagoras introduced into the philosophy of Athens, soon attracted attention and multiplied disciples. He was teaching when Socrates arrived in Athens, and the latter attended his school. The influence which the doctrine of Anaxagoras exerted upon the mind of Socrates (leading him to recognize Intelligence as the cause 314 of order and special adaptation in the universe), 465 and also upon the course of philosophy in the Socratic schools, is the most enduring memorial of his name. 466

Footnote 465: (return) "Phaedo," § 105.
Footnote 466: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. iii.

We have devoted a much larger space than we originally designed to the ante-Socratic schools--quite out of proportion, indeed, with that we shall be able to appropriate to their successors. But inasmuch as all the great primary problems of thought, which are subsequently discussed by Plato and Aristotle, were started, and received, at least, typical answers in those schools, we can not hope to understand Plato, or Aristotle, or even Epicurus, or Zeno of Cittium, unless we have first mastered the doctrines of Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras. 467 The attention we have bestowed on these early thinkers will, therefore, have been a valuable preparatory discipline for the study of

Footnote 467: (return) Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 114; Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. pp. 87, 88.


The first cycle of philosophy was now complete. That form of Grecian speculative thought which, during the first period of its development, was a philosophy of nature, had reached its maturity; it had sought "the first principles of all things" in the study of external nature, and had signally failed. In this pursuit of first principles as the basis of a true and certain knowledge of the system of the universe, the two leading schools had been carried to opposite poles of thought. One had asserted that experience alone, the other, that reason alone was the sole criterion of truth. As the last consequence of this imperfect method, Leucippus had denied the existence of "the one," and Zeno had denied the existence of "the many." The Ionian school, in Democritus, had landed in Materialism; the Italian, in Parmenides, had ended in Pantheism; and, as the necessary result of this partial and defective method of inquiry, which ended in doubt and contradiction, a spirit of general 315 skepticism was generated in the Athenian mind. If doubt be cast upon the veracity of the primary cognitive faculties of the mind, the flood-gates of universal skepticism are opened. If the senses are pronounced to be mendacious and illusory in their reports regarding external phenomena, and if the intuitions of the reason, in regard to the ground and cause of phenomena, are delusive, then we have no ground of certitude. If one faculty is unveracious and unreliable, how can we determine that the other is not equally so? There is, then, no such thing as universal and necessary truth. Truth is variable and uncertain, as the variable opinion of each individual.

The Sophists, who belonged to no particular school, laid hold on the elements of skepticism contained in both the pre-Socratic schools of philosophy, and they declared that "the σοφία" was not only unattainable, but that no relative degree of it was possible for the human faculties. 468 Protagoras of Abdera accepted the doctrine of Heraclitus, that thought is identical with sensation, and limited by it; he therefore declared that there is no criterion of truth, and Man is the measure of all things. 469 Sextus Empiricus gives the psychological opinions of Protagoras with remarkable explicitness. "Matter is in a perpetual flux, whilst it undergoes augmentations and losses; the senses also are modified according to the age and disposition of the body. He said, also, that the reason of all phenomena resides in matter as substrata, so that matter, in itself, might be whatever it appeared to each. But men have different perceptions at different periods, according to the changes in the things perceived.... Man is, therefore, the criterion of that which exists; all that is perceived by him exists; that which is perceived by no man does not exist." 470 These conclusions were rigidly and fearlessly applied to ethics and political science. If there is no Eternal Truth, there can be no Immutable 316 Right. The distinction of right and wrong is solely a matter of human opinion and conventional usage. 471 "That which appears just and honorable to each city, is so for that city, so long as the opinion prevails." 472

Footnote 468: (return) Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Sophist."
Footnote 469: (return) Plato's "Theætetus" (άνθρωπος--"the individual is the measure of all things"), vol. i. p. 381 (Bohn's edition).
Footnote 470: (return) Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 117.
Footnote 471: (return) "Gorgias," § 85-89.
Footnote 472: (return) Plato's "Theætetus," § 65-75.

There were others who laid hold on the weapons which Zeno had prepared to their hands. He had asserted that all the objects of sense were mere phantoms--delusive and transitory. By the subtilties of dialectic quibbling, he had attempted to prove that "change" meant "permanence," and "motion" meant "rest." 473 Words may, therefore, have the most opposite and contradictory meanings; and all language and all opinion may, by such a process, be rendered uncertain. One opinion is, consequently, for the individual, just as good as another; and all opinions are equally true and untrue. It was nevertheless desirable, for the good of society, that there should be some agreement, and that, for a time at least, certain opinions should prevail; and if philosophy had failed to secure this agreement, rhetoric, at least, was effectual; and, with the Sophist, rhetoric was "the art of making the worst appear the better reason." All wisdom was now confined to a species of "word jugglery," which in Athens was dignified as "the art of disputation."

Footnote 473: (return) "And do we not know that the Eleatic Palamedes (Zeno) spoke by art in such a manner that the same things appeared to be similar and dissimilar, one and many, at rest and in motion?"--"Phædrus," § 97.

SOCRATES (B.C. 469-399), the grand central figure in the group of ancient philosophers, arrived in Athens in the midst of this general skepticism. He had an invincible faith in truth. "He made her the mistress of his soul, and with patient labor, and unwearied energy, did his great and noble soul toil after perfect communion with her." He was disappointed and dissatisfied with the results that had been reached by the methods of his predecessors, and he was convinced that by these methods the problem of the universe could not be solved. He therefore turned away from physical inquiries, and devoted his 317 whole attention to the study of the human mind, its fundamental beliefs, ideas, and laws. If he can not penetrate the mysteries of the outer world, he will turn his attention to the world within. He will "know himself," and find within himself the reason, and ground, and law of all existence. There he discovered certain truths which can not possibly be questioned. He felt he had within his own heart a faithful monitor--a conscience, which he regarded as the voice of God. 474 He believed "he had a divine teacher with him at all times. Though he did not possess wisdom, this teacher could put him on the road to seek it, could preserve him from delusions which might turn him out of the way, could keep his mind fixed upon the end for which he ought to act and live." 475 In himself, therefore, he sought that ground of certitude which should save him from the prevailing skepticism of his times. The Delphic inscription, Γνῶθι σεαντόν, "know thyself" becomes henceforth the fundamental maxim of philosophy.

Footnote 474: (return) The Dæmon of Socrates has been the subject of much discussion among learned men. The notion, once generally received, that his δαίµων was "a familiar genius," is now regarded as an exploded error. "Nowhere does Socrates, in Plato or Xenophon, speak of a genius or demon, but always of a dœmoniac something (το δαιµόνιον, or δαιµόνιν τι), or of a sign, a voice, a divine sign, a divine voice" (Lewes's "Biographical History of Philosophy," p. 166). "Socrates always speaks of a divine or supernatural somewhat ('divinum quiddam,' as Cicero has it), the nature of which he does not attempt to divine, and to which he never attributes personality" (Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. p. 357). The scholar need not to be informed that το δαιµόνιον, in classic literature, means the divine Essence (Lat. numen), to which are attributed events beyond man's power, yet not to be assigned to any special god.
Footnote 475: (return) Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 124.

Truth has a rational, à priori foundation in the constitution of the human mind. There are ideas connatural to the human reason which are the copies of those archetypal ideas which belong to the Eternal Reason. The grand problem of philosophy, therefore, now is--What are these fundamental IDEAS which are unchangeable and permanent, amid all the diversifies of human opinion, connecting appearance with reality, and constituting a ground of certain knowledge or absolute truth? Socrates may 318 not have held the doctrine of ideas as exhibited by Plato, but he certainly believed that there were germs of truth latent in the human mind--principles which governed, unconsciously, the processes of thought, and that these could be developed by reflection and by questioning. These were embryonate in the womb of reason, coming to the birth, but needing the "maieutic" or "obstetric" art, that they might be brought forth. 476 He would, therefore, become the accoucheur of ideas, and deliver minds of that secret truth which lay in their mental constitution. And thus Psychology becomes the basis of all legitimate metaphysics.

Footnote 476: (return) Plato's "Theætetus," § 22.

By the general consent of antiquity, as well as by the concurrent judgment of all modern historians of philosophy, Socrates is regarded as having effected a complete revolution in philosophic thought, and, by universal consent, he is placed at the commencement of a new era in philosophy. Schleiermacher has said, "the service which Socrates rendered tο philosophy consisted not so much in the truths arrived at as in the METHOD by which truth is sought." As Bacon inaugurated a new method in physical inquiry, so Socrates inaugurated a new method in metaphysical inquiry.

What, then, was this new method? It was no other than the inductive method applied to the facts of consciousness. This method is thus defined by Aristotle: "Induction is the process from particulars to generals;" that is, it is the process of discovering laws from facts, causes from effects, being from phenomena. But how is this process of induction conducted? By observing and enumerating the real facts which are presented in consciousness, by noting their relations of resemblance or difference, and by classifying these facts by the aid of these relations. In other words, it is analysis applied to the phenomena of mind. 477 Now Socrates gave this method of psychological analysis to Greek philosophy. There are two things of which Socrates must justly be regarded as the author,--the 319 inductive reasoning and abstract definition. 478 We readily grant that Socrates employed this method imperfectly, for methods are the last things perfected in science; but still, the Socratic movement was a vast movement in the right direction.

Footnote 477: (return) Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 30.
Footnote 478: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," vol. xii. ch. iv. p. 359 (Bohn's edition).

In what are usually regarded as the purely Socratic dialogues, 479 Plato evidently designs to exhibit this method of Socrates. They proceed continually on the firm conviction that there is a standard or criterion of truth in the reason of man, and that, by reflection, man can apprehend and recognize the truth. To awaken this power of reflection; to compel men to analyze their language and their thoughts; to lead them from the particular and the contingent, to the universal and the necessary; and to teach them to test their opinions by the inward standard of truth, was the aim of Socrates. These dialogues are a picture of the conversations of Socrates. They are literally an education of the thinking faculty. Their purpose is to discipline men to think for themselves, rather than to furnish opinions for them. In many of these dialogues Socrates affirms nothing. After producing many arguments, and examining a question on all sides, he leaves it undetermined. At the close of the dialogue he is as far from a declaration of opinions as at the commencement. His grand effort, like that of Bacon's, is to furnish men a correct method of inquiry, rather than to apply that method and give them results.

Footnote 479: (return) "Laches," "Charmides," "Lysis," "The Rivals," "First and Second Alcibiades," "Theages," "Clitophon." See Whewell's translation, vol. i.

We must not, however, from thence conclude that Socrates did not himself attain any definite conclusions, or reach any specific and valuable results. When, in reply to his friends who reported the answer of the oracle of Delphi, that "Socrates was the wisest of men," he said, "he supposed the oracle declared him wise because he knew nothing," he did not mean that true knowledge was unattainable, for his whole life had been spent in efforts to attain it. He simply indicates the disposition of mind which is most befitting and most helpful to the seeker 320 after truth. He must be conscious of his own ignorance. He must not exalt himself. He must not put his own conceits in the way of the thing he would know. He must have an open eye, a single purpose, an honest mind, to prepare him to receive light when it comes. And that there is light, that there is a source whence light comes, he avowed in every word and act.

Socrates unquestionably believed in one Supreme God, the immaterial, infinite Governor of all. He cherished that instinctive, spontaneous faith in God and his Providence which is the universal faith of the human heart. He saw this faith revealed in the religious sentiments of all nations, and in the tendency to worship so universally characteristic of humanity. 480 He appealed to the consciousness of absolute dependence--the persuasion, wrought by God in the minds of all men, that "He is able to make men happy or miserable," and the consequent sense of obligation which teaches man he ought to obey God. And he regarded with some degree of affectionate tenderness the common sentiment of his countrymen, that the Divine Government was conducted through the ministry of subordinate deities or generated gods. But he sought earnestly to prevent the presence of these subordinate agents from intercepting the clear view of the Supreme God.

The faith of Socrates was not, however, grounded on mere feeling and sentiment. He endeavored to place the knowledge of God on a rational basis. We can not read the arguments he employed without being convinced that he anticipated all the subsequent writers on Natural Theology in his treatment of the argument from special ends or final causes. We venture to abridge the account which is given by Xenophon of the conversation with Aristodemus: 481

Footnote 480: (return) "Memorabilia," bk. i. ch. iv. § 16.
Footnote 481: (return) Ibid., bk. i. ch. iv.

"I will now relate the manner in which I once heard Socrates discoursing with Aristodemus concerning the Deity; for, observing that he never prayed nor sacrificed to the gods, but, on the contrary, ridiculed those who did, he said to him:

"'Tell me, Aristodemus, is there any man you admire on 321 account of his merits? Aristodemus having answered, 'Many,--'Name some of them, I pray you,' said Socrates. 'I admire,' said Aristodemus, 'Homer for his Epic poetry, Melanippides for his dithyrambics, Sophocles for his tragedy, Polycletus for statuary, and Zeuxis for painting.'

"'But which seemed to you most worthy of admiration, Aristodemus--the artist who forms images void of motion and intelligence, or one who has skill to produce animals that are endued, not only with activity, but understanding?'

"'The latter, there can be no doubt,' replied Aristodemus, 'provided the production was not the effect of chance, but of wisdom and contrivance.'

"'But since there are many things, some of which we can easily see the use of, while we can not say of others to what purpose they are produced, which of these, Aristodemus, do you suppose the work of wisdom?'

"'It would seem the most reasonable to affirm it of those whose fitness and utility are so evidently apparent,' answered Aristodemus.

"'But it is evidently apparent that He who, at the beginning, made man, endued him with senses because they were good for him; eyes wherewith to behold what is visible, and ears to hear whatever was heard; for, say, Aristodemus, to what purpose should odor be prepared, if the sense of smelling had been denied or why the distinction of bitter or sweet, of savory or unsavory, unless a palate had been likewise given, conveniently placed to arbitrate between them and proclaim the difference? Is not that Providence, Aristodemus, in a most eminent manner conspicuous, which, because the eye of a man is so delicate in its contexture, hath therefore prepared eyelids like doors whereby to secure it, which extend of themselves whenever it is needful, and again close when sleep approaches? Are not these eyelids provided, as it were, with a fence on the edge of them to keep off the wind and guard the eye? Even the eyebrow itself is not without its office, but, as a penthouse, is prepared to turn off the sweat, which falling from the forehead 322 might enter and annoy that no less tender than astonishing part of us. Is it not to be admired that the ears should take in sounds of every sort, and yet are not too much filled with them? That the fore teeth of the animal should be formed in such a manner as is evidently best for cutting, and those on the side for grinding it to pieces? That the mouth, through which this food is conveyed, should be placed so near the nose and eyes as to prevent the passing unnoticed whatever is unfit for nourishment?... And canst thou still doubt, Aristodemus, whether a disposition of parts like this should be a work of chance, or of wisdom and contrivance?'

"'I have no longer any doubt,' replied Aristodemus; 'and, indeed, the more I consider it, the more evident it appears to me that man must be the masterpiece of some great Artificer, carrying along with it infinite marks of the love and favor of Him who hath thus formed it.'

"'But, further (unless thou desirest to ask me questions), seeing, Aristodemus, thou thyself art conscious of reason and intelligence, supposest thou there is no intelligence elsewhere? Thou knowest thy body to be a small part of that wide-extended earth thou everywhere beholdest; the moisture contained in it thou also knowest to be a portion of that mighty mass of waters whereof seas themselves are but a part, while the rest of the elements contribute out of their abundance to thy formation. It is the soul, then, alone, that intellectual part of us, which is come to thee by some lucky chance, from I know not where. If so, there is no intelligence elsewhere; and we must be forced to confess that this stupendous universe, with all the various bodies contained therein--equally amazing, whether we consider their magnitude or number, whatever their use, whatever their order--all have been produced by chance, not by intelligence!'

"'It is with difficulty that I can suppose otherwise,' returned Aristodemus; 'for I behold none of those gods whom you speak of as framing and governing the world; whereas I see the artists when at their work here among us.'

"'Neither yet seest thou thy soul, Aristodemus, which, however, 323 most assuredly governs thy body; although it may well seem, by thy manner of talking, that it is chance and not reason which governs thee.'

"'I do not despise the gods,' said Aristodemus; 'on the contrary, I conceive so highly of their excellency, as to suppose they stand in no need of me or of my services.'

"'Thou mistakest the matter,' Aristodemus, 'the great magnificence they have shown in their care of thee, so much the more honor and service thou owest them.'

"'Be assured,' said Aristodemus, 'if I once could persuade myself the gods take care of man, I should want no monitor to remind me of my duty.'

"'And canst thou doubt, Aristodemus, if the gods take care of man? Hath not the glorious privilege of walking upright been alone bestowed on him, whereby he may with the better advantage survey what is around him, contemplate with more ease those splendid objects which are above, and avoid the numerous ills and inconveniences which would otherwise befall him? Other animals, indeed, they have provided with feet; but to man they have also given hands, with which he can form many things for use, and make himself happier than creatures of any other kind. A tongue hath been bestowed on every other animal; but what animal, except man, hath the power of forming words with it whereby to explain his thoughts and make them intelligible to others? But it is not with respect to the body alone that the gods have shown themselves bountiful to man. Their most excellent gift is that of a soul they have infused into him, which so far surpasses what is elsewhere to be found; for by what animal except man is even the existence of the gods discovered, who have produced and still uphold in such regular order this beautiful and stupendous frame of the universe? What other creature is to be found that can serve and adore them?... In thee, Aristodemus, has been joined to a wonderful soul a body no less wonderful; and sayest thou, after this, the gods take no thought for me? What wouldst thou, then, more to convince thee of their care?'


"'I would they should send and inform me,' said Aristodemus, 'what things I ought or ought not to do, in like manner as thou sayest they frequently do to thee.'"

In reply, Socrates shows that the revelations of God which are made in nature, in history, in consciousness, and by oracles, are made for all men and to all men. He then concludes with these remarkable words: "As, therefore, amongst men we make best trial of the affection and gratitude of our neighbor by showing him kindness, and make discovery of his wisdom by consulting him in our distress, do thou, in like manner, behave towards the gods; and if thou wouldst experience what their wisdom and their love, render thyself deserving of some of those divine secrets which may not be penetrated by man, and are imparted to those alone who consult, who adore, and who obey the Deity. Then shalt thou, my Aristodemus, understand there is a Being whose eye passes through all nature, and whose ear is open to every sound; extended to all places, extending through all time; and whose bounty and care can know no other bounds than those fixed by his own creation". 482

Footnote 482: (return) Lewes's translation, in "Biog. History of Philosophy," pp. 160-165.

Socrates was no less earnest in his belief in the immortality of the soul, and a state of future retribution. He had reverently listened to the intuitions of his own soul--the instinctive longings and aspirations of his own heart, as a revelation from God. He felt that all the powers and susceptibilities of his inward nature were in conscious adaptation to the idea of immortality, and that its realization was the appropriate destiny of man. He was convinced that a future life was needed to avenge the wrongs and reverse the unjust judgments of the present life; 483 needed that virtue may receive its meet reward, and the course of Providence may have its amplest vindication. He saw this faith reflected in the universal convictions of mankind, and the "common traditions" of all ages. 484 No one refers more frequently than Socrates to the grand old mythologic stories which express this faith; to Minos, and Rhadamanthus, 325 and Æacus, and Triptolemus, who are "real judges," and who, in "the Place of Departed Spirits, administer justice." 485 He believed that in that future state the pursuit of wisdom would be his chief employment, and he anticipated the pleasure of mingling in the society of the wise, and good, and great of every age.

Footnote 483: (return) "Apology," § 32, p. 329 (Whewell's edition).
Footnote 484: (return) Ibid.
Footnote 485: (return) "Apology," p. 330.

Whilst, then, Socrates was not the first to teach the doctrine of immortality, because no one could be said to have first discovered it any more than to have first discovered the existence of a God, he was certainly the first to place it upon a philosophic basis. The Phædo presents the doctrine and the reasoning by which Socrates had elevated his mind above the fear of death. Some of the arguments may be purely Platonic, the argument especially grounded on "ideas;" still, as a whole, it must be regarded as a tolerably correct presentation of the manner in which Socrates would prove the immortality of the soul.

In Ethics, Socrates was pre-eminently himself. The systematic resolution of the whole theory of society into the elementary principle of natural law, was peculiar to him. Justice was the cardinal principle which must lie at the foundation of all good government. The word σοφια--wisdom--included all excellency in personal morals, whether as manifested (reflectively) in the conduct of one's self, or (socially) towards others. And Happiness, in its purity and perfection, can only be found in virtuous action. 486

Footnote 486: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. i. pp. 360, 361.

Socrates left nothing behind him that could with propriety be called a school. His chief glory is that he inaugurated a new method of inquiry, which, in Plato and Aristotle, we shall see applied. He gave a new and vital impulse to human thought, which endured for ages; "and he left, as an inheritance for humanity, the example of a heroic life devoted wholly to the pursuit of truth, and crowned with martyrdom."






We have seen that the advent of Socrates marks a new era in the history of speculative thought. Greek philosophy, which at first was a philosophy of nature, now changes its direction, its character, and its method, and becomes a philosophy of mind. This, of course, does not mean that now it had mind alone for its object; on the contrary, it tended, as indeed philosophy must always tend, to the conception of a rational ideal or intellectual system of the universe. It started from the phenomena of mind, began with the study of human thought, and it made the knowledge of mind, of its ideas and laws, the basis of a higher philosophy, which should interpret all nature. In other words, it proceeded from psychology, through dialectics, to ontology. 487

Footnote 487: (return) Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 413.

This new movement we have designated in general terms as the Socratic School. Not that we are to suppose that, in any technical sense, Socrates founded a school. The Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa, and the Garden, were each the chosen resort of distinct philosophic sects, the locality of separate schools; but Athens itself, the whole city, was the scene of the studies, the conversations, and the labors of Socrates. He wandered through the streets absorbed in thought. Sometimes he stood still for hours lost in profoundest meditation; at other times he might be seen in the market-place, surrounded by a crowd of Athenians, eagerly discussing the great questions of the day.


Socrates, then, was not, in the usual sense of the word, a teacher. He is not to be found in the Stoa or the Grove, with official aspect, expounding a system of doctrine. He is "the garrulous oddity" of the streets, putting the most searching and perplexing questions to every bystander, and making every man conscious of his ignorance. He delivered no lectures; he simply talked. He wrote no books; he only argued: and what is usually styled his school must be understood as embracing those who attended him in public as listeners and admirers, and who caught his spirit, adopted his philosophic method, and, in after life, elaborated and systematized the ideas they had gathered from him.

Among the regular or the occasional hearers of Socrates were many who were little addicted to philosophic speculation. Some were warriors, as Nicias and Laches; some statesmen, as Critias and Critobulus; some were politicians, in the worst sense of that word, as Glaucon; and some were young men of fashion, as Euthydemus and Alcibiades. These were all alike delighted with his inimitable irony, his versatility of genius, his charming modes of conversation, his adroitness of reply; and they were compelled to confess the wisdom and justness of his opinions, and to admire the purity and goodness of his life. The magic power which he wielded, even over men of dissolute character, is strikingly depicted by Alcibiades in his speech at "the Banquet." 488 Of these listeners, however, we can not now speak. Our business is with those only who imbibed his philosophic spirit, and became the future teachers of philosophy. And even of those who, as Euclid of Megara, and Antisthenes the Cynic, and Aristippus of Cyrenaica, borrowed somewhat from the dialectic of Socrates, we shall say nothing. They left no lasting impression upon the current of philosophic thought, because their systems were too partial, and narrow, and fragmentary. It is in Plato and Aristotle that the true development of the Socratic philosophy is to be sought, and in Plato chiefly, as the disciple and friend of Socrates.

Footnote 488: (return) "Banquet," §§ 39, 40.

Plato (B.C. 430-347) was pre-eminently the pupil of Socrates. He came to Socrates when he was but twenty years of age, and remained with him to the day of his death.

Diogenes Laertius reports the story of Socrates having dreamed he found an unfledged cygnet on his knee. In a few moments it became winged and flew away, uttering a sweet sound. The next day a young man came to him who was said to reckon Solon among his near ancestors, and who looked, through him, to Codrus and the god Poseidon. That young man was Plato, and Socrates pronounced him to be the bird he had seen in his dream. 489

Footnote 489: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. iii. ch. vii.

Some have supposed that this old tradition intimates that Plato departed from the method of his master--he became fledged and flew away into the air. But we know that Plato did not desert his master whilst he was living, and there is no evidence that he abandoned his method after he was dead. He was the best expounder and the most rigid observer of the Socratic "organon." The influence of Socrates upon the philosophy of Plato is everywhere discernible. Plato had been taught by Socrates, that beyond the world of sense there is a world of eternal truth, seen by the eye of reason alone. He had also learned from him that the eye of reason is purified and strengthened by reflection, and that to reflect is to observe, and analyze, and define, and classify the facts of consciousness. Self-reflection, then, he had been taught to regard as the key of real knowledge. By a completer induction, a more careful and exact analysis, and a more accurate definition, he carried this philosophic method forward towards maturity. He sought to solve the problem of being by the principles revealed in his own consciousness, and in the ultimate ideas of the reason to find the foundation of all real knowledge, of all truth, and of all certitude.

Plato was admirably fitted for these sublime investigations by the possession of those moral qualities which were so prominent in the character of his master. He had that same deep 329 seriousness of spirit, that earnestness and rectitude of purpose, that longing after truth, that inward sympathy with, and reverence for justice, and purity, and goodness, which dwelt in the heart of Socrates, and which constrained him to believe in their reality and permanence. He could not endure the thought that all ideas of right were arbitrary and factitious, that all knowledge was unreal, that truth was a delusion, and certainty a dream. The world of sense might be fleeting and delusive, but the voice of reason and conscience would not mislead the upright man. The opinions of individual men might vary, but the universal consciousness of the race could not prevaricate. However conflicting the opinions of men concerning beautiful things, right actions, and good sentiments, Plato was persuaded there are ideas of Order, and Right, and Good, which are universal, unchangeable, and eternal. Untruth, injustice, and wrong may endure for a day or two, perhaps for a century or two, but they can not always last; they must perish. The just thing and the true thing are the only enduring things; these are eternal. Plato had a sublime conviction that his mission was to draw the Athenian mind away from the fleeting, the transitory, and the uncertain, and lead them to the contemplation of an Eternal Truth, an Eternal Justice, an Eternal Beauty, all proceeding from and united in an Eternal Being--the ultimate ἀγαθόν--the Supremely Good. The knowledge of this "Supreme Good" he regarded as the highest science. 490

Footnote 490: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xvi. p. 193.

Added to these moral qualifications, Plato had the further qualification of a comprehensive knowledge of all that had been achieved by his predecessors. In this regard he had enjoyed advantages superior to those of Socrates. Socrates was deficient in erudition, properly so called. He had studied men rather than books. His wisdom consisted in an extensive observation, the results of which he had generalized with more or less accuracy. A complete philosophic method demands not only a knowledge of contemporaneous opinions and modes of thought, but also a knowledge of the succession and development 330 of thought in past ages. Its instrument is not simply psychological analysis, but also historical analysis as a counterproof. 491 And this erudition Plato supplied. He studied carefully the doctrines of the Ionian, Italian, and Eleatic schools. Cratylus gave him special instruction in the theories of Heraclitus. 492 He secured an intimate acquaintance with the lofty speculations of Pythagoras, under Archytas of Tarentum, and in the writings of Philolaus, whose books he is said to have purchased. He studied the principles of Parmenides under Hermogenes, 493 and he more than once speaks of Parmenides in terms of admiration, as one whom he had early learned to reverence. 494 He studied mathematics under Theodoras, the most eminent geometrician of his day. He travelled in Southern Italy, in Sicily, and, in search of a deeper wisdom, he pursued his course to Egypt. 495 Enriched by the fruits of all previous speculations, he returned to Athens, and devoted the remainder of his life to the development of a comprehensive system "which was to combine, to conciliate, and to supersede them all." 496 The knowledge he had derived from travel, from books, from oral instruction, he fused and blended with his own speculations, whilst the Socratic spirit mellowed the whole, and gave to it a unity and scientific completeness which has excited the admiration and wonder of succeeding ages. 497

Footnote 491: (return) Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 31.
Footnote 492: (return) Aristotle's "Metaphysics," bk. i. ch. vi.
Footnote 493: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. iii. ch. viii. p. 115.
Footnote 494: (return) See especially "Theætetus," § 101.
Footnote 495: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 147.
Footnote 496: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 22.
Footnote 497: (return) Encyclopædia Britannica, article "Plato."

The question as to the nature, the sources, and the validity of human knowledge had attracted general attention previous to the time of Socrates and Plato. As the results of this protracted controversy, the opinions of philosophers had finally crystallized in two well-defined and opposite theories of knowledge.

1. That which reduced all knowledge to the accidental and 331 passively receptive quality of the organs of sense and which asserted, as its fundamental maxim, that "Science consists in αἴσθησις--sensation." 498

This doctrine had its foundation in the physical philosophy of Heraclitus. He had taught that all things are in a perpetual flux and change. "Motion gives the appearance of existence and of generation." "Nothing is, but is always a becoming" 499 Material substances are perpetually losing their identity, and there is no permanent essence or being to be found. Hence Protagoras inferred that truth must vary with the ever-varying sensations of the individual. "Man (the individual) is the measure of all things." Knowledge is a purely relative thing, and every man's opinion is truth for him. 500 The law of right, as exemplified in the dominion of a party, is the law of the strongest; fluctuating with the accidents of power, and never attaining a permanent being. "Whatever a city enacts as appearing just to itself, this also is just to the city that enacts it, so long as it continues in force." 501 "The just, then, is nothing else but that which is expedient for the strongest." 502

Footnote 498: (return) "Theætetus," § 23.
Footnote 499: (return) Ibid., §§ 25, 26.
Footnote 500: (return) Ibid., §§ 39, 87.
Footnote 501: (return) Ibid., § 87.
Footnote 502: (return) "Republic," bk. i. ch. xii.

2. The second theory is that which denies the existence (except as phantasms, images, or mere illusions of the mind) of the whole of sensible phenomena, and refers all knowledge to the rational apperception of unity (τὸ ἔν) or the One.

This was the doctrine of the later Eleatics. The world of sense was, to Parmenides and Zeno, a blank negation, the non ens. The identity of thought and existence was the fundamental principle of their philosophy.

"Thought is the same thing as the cause of thought;

For without the thing in which it is announced,

You can not find the thought; for there is nothing, nor shall be,

Except the existing." 503

Footnote 503: (return) Parmenides, quoted in Lewes's "Biog. History of Philosophy," p. 54.

This theory, therefore, denied to man any valid knowledge of the external world.


It will at once be apparent to the intelligent reader that the direct and natural result of both these theories 504 of knowledge was a tendency to universal skepticism. A spirit of utter indifference to truth and righteousness was the prevailing spirit of Athenian society. That spirit is strikingly exhibited in the speech of Callicles, "the shrewd man of the world," in "Gorgias" (§85, 86). Is this new to our ears?" My dear Socrates, you talk of law. Now the laws, in my judgment, are just the work of the weakest and most numerous; in framing them they never thought but of themselves and their own interests; they never approve or censure except in reference to this. Hence it is that the cant arises that tyranny is improper and unjust, and to struggle for eminence, guilt. Unable to rise themselves, of course they would wish to preach liberty and equality. But nature proclaims the law of the stronger.... We surround our children from their infancy with preposterous prejudices about liberty and justice. The man of sense tramples on such impositions, and shows what Nature's justice is.... I confess, Socrates, philosophy is a highly amusing study--in moderation, and for boys. But protracted too long, it becomes a perfect plague. Your philosopher is a complete novice in the life comme il faut.... I like very well to see a child babble and stammer; there is even a grace about it when it becomes his age. But to see a man continue the prattle of the child, is absurd. Just so with your philosophy." The consequence of this prevalent spirit of universal skepticism was a 333 general laxity of morals. The Aleibiades, of the "Symposium," is the ideal representative of the young aristocracy of Athens. Such was the condition of society generally, and such the degeneracy of even the Government itself, that Plato impressively declares "that God alone could save the young men of his age from ruin." 505

Footnote 504: (return) Between these two extreme theories there were offered two, apparently less extravagant, accounts of the nature and limits of human knowledge--one declaring that "Science(real knowledge) consists in right opinion" (δόξα ἀληθής), but having no further basis in the reason of man ("Theæstetus," § 108); and the other affirming that "Science is right opinion with logical explication or definition" (µετὰ λόχου), ("Theætetus," § 139). A close examination will, however, convince us that these are but modifications of the sensational theory. The latter forcibly remind us of the system of Locke, who adds "reflection" to "sensation," but still maintains that all on "simple ideas" are obtained from without, and that these are the only material upon which reflection can be exercised. Thus the human mind has no criterion of truth within itself, no elements of knowledge which are connatural and inborn.
Footnote 505: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. vii.

Therefore the grand, the vital, the most urgent question for his times, as indeed for all times, was, What is Truth? What is Right? In the midst of all this variableness and uncertainty of human opinion, is there no ground of certainty? Amid all the fluctuations and changes around us and within us, is there nothing that is immutable and permanent? Have we no ultimate standard of Right? Is there no criterion of Truth? Plato believed most confidently there was such a criterion and standard. He had learned from Socrates, his master, to cherish an unwavering faith in the existence of an Eternal Truth, an Eternal Order, an Eternal Good, the knowledge of which is essential to the perfection and happiness of man, and which knowledge must therefore be presumed to be attainable by man. Henceforth, therefore, the ceaseless effort of Plato's life is to attain a standard (κριτήριον) 506--a CRITERION OF TRUTH.

Footnote 506: (return) "Theætetus," § 89.

At the outset of his philosophic studies, Plato had derived from Socrates an important principle, which became the guide of all his subsequent inquiries. He had learned from him that the criterion of truth must be no longer sought amid the ever-changing phenomena of the "sensible world." This had been attempted by the philosophers of the Ionian school, and ended in failure and defeat. It must therefore be sought in the metaphenomenal--the "intelligible world;" that is, it must be sought in the apperceptions of the reason, and not in opinions founded on sensation. In other words, he must look within. Here, by reflection, he could recognize, dimly and imperfectly at first, but increasing gradually in clearness and distinctness, two classes of cognitions, having essentially distinct and opposite characteristics. He found one class that was complex (σνγκεγυµένον), 334 changeable (θάτερον), contingent and relative (τὰ προς τι σχέσιν ἔχοντα); the other, simple (κεχωρισµένον), unchangeable (ἀκίνητον), constant (ταὐτόν), permanent (τὸ ὂν ἀει), and absolute (ἀνυπόθετον = ἁπλοῦν). One class that may be questioned, the other admitting of no question, because self-evident and necessary, and therefore compelling belief. One class grounded on sense-perception, the other conceived by reason alone. But whilst the reason recognizes, it does not create them. They are not particular and individual, but universal. They belong not to the man, but to the race.

He found, then, that there are in all minds certain "principles" which are fundamental--principles which lie at the basis of all our cognitions of the objective world, and which, as "mental laws," determine all our forms of thought; and principles, too, which have this marvellous and undeniable character, that they are encountered in the most common experiences, and, at the same time, instead of being circumscribed within the limits of experience, transcend and govern it--principles which are universal in the midst of particular phenomena--necessary, though mingled with things contingent--to our eyes infinite and absolute, even when appearing in us the relative and finite beings that we are. 507 These first or fundamental principles Plato called IDEAS (ἰδέαι).

Footnote 507: (return) Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 40.

In attempting to present to the reader an adequate representation of the Platonic Ideas, we shall be under the necessity of anticipating some of the results of his Dialectical method before we have expounded that method. And, further, in order that it may be properly appreciated by the modern student, we shall avail ourselves of the lights which modern psychology, faithful to the method of Plato, has thrown upon the subject. Whilst, however, we admit that modern psychology has succeeded in giving more definiteness and precision to the "doctrine of Ideas," we shall find that all that is fundamentally valuable and true was present to the mind of Plato. Whatever superiority the "Spiritual" philosophy of to-day may have over 335 the philosophy of past ages, it has attained that superiority by its adherence to the principles and method of Plato.

In order to the completeness of our preliminary exposition of the Platonic doctrine of Ideas, we shall conditionally assume, as a natural and legitimate hypothesis, the doctrine so earnestly asserted by Plato, that the visible universe, at least in its present form, is an effect which must have had a cause, 508 and that the Order, and Beauty, and Excellence of the universe are the result of the presence and operation of a "regulating Intelligence"--a Supreme Mind. 509 Now that, anterior to the creation of the universe, there must have existed in the Eternal Mind certain fundamental principles of Order, Right, and Good, will not be denied. Every conceivable form, every possible relation, every principle of right, must have been eternally present to the Divine thought. As pure intelligence, the Deity must have always been self-conscious--must have known himself as substance and cause, as the Infinite and Perfect. If then the Divine Energy is put forth in creative acts, that energy must obey those eternal principles of Order, Right, and Good. If the Deity operate at all, he must operate rightly, wisely, and well. The created universe must be an image, in the sphere of sense, of the ideas which inhere in the reason of the great First Cause.

Footnote 508: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.
Footnote 509: (return) "Phædo," § 105.

"Let us declare," says Plato, "with what motive the Creator hath formed nature and the universe. He was good, and in the good no manner of envy can, on any subject, possibly subsist. Exempt from envy, he had wished that all things should, as far as possible, resemble himself.... It was not, and is not to be allowed for the Supremely Good to do any thing except what is most excellent (κάλλιστον)--most fair, most beautiful." 510 Therefore, argues Plato, "inasmuch as the world is the most beautiful of things, and its artificer the best of causes, it is evident that the Creator and Father of the universe looked to the Eternal Model (παράδειγµα), pattern, or plan," 511 which lay in his 336 own mind. And thus this one, only-generated universe, is the image (εἰκών) of that God who is the object of the intellect, the greatest, the best, and the most perfect Being. 512

Footnote 510: (return) "Timæus," ch. x.
Footnote 511: (return) Ibid., ch. ix.
Footnote 512: (return) "Timæus," ch. lxxiii.

And then, furthermore, if this Supreme Intelligence, this Eternal Mind, shall create another mind, it must, in a still higher degree, resemble him. Inasmuch as it is a rational nature, it must, in a peculiar sense, partake of the Divine characteristics. "The soul," says Plato, "is that which most partakes of the Divine" 513 The soul must, therefore, have native ideas and sentiments which correlate it with the Divine original. The ideas of substance and cause, of unity and identity, of the infinite and perfect, must be mirrored there. As it is the "offspring of God," 514 it must bear some traces and lineaments of its Divine parentage. That soul must be configured and correlated to those principles of Order, Right, and Good which dwell in the Eternal Mind. And because it has within itself the same ideas and laws, according to which the great Architect built the universe, therefore it is capable of knowing, and, in some degree, of comprehending, the intellectual system of the universe. It apprehends the external world by a light which the reason supplies. It interprets nature according to principles and laws which God has inwrought within the very essence of the soul. "That which imparts truth to knowable things, and gives the knower his power of knowing truth, is the idea of the good, and you are to conceive of this as the source of knowledge and of truth." 515

Footnote 513: (return) "Laws," bk. v. ch. i.
Footnote 514: (return) Ibid., bk. x.
Footnote 515: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xviii.

And now we are prepared to form a clear conception of the Platonic doctrine of Ideas. Viewed in their relation to the Eternal Reason, as giving the primordial thought and law of all being, these principles are simply εἴδη αὐτὰ καθ᾽ αὑτά--ideas in themselves--the essential qualities or attributes of Him who is the supreme and ultimate Cause of all existence. When regarded as before the Divine imagination, giving definite forms and relations, they are the τύποι, the παραδείγµατα--the types, 337 models, patterns, ideals according to which the universe was fashioned. Contemplated in their actual embodiment in the laws, and typical forms of the material world, they are εἰκόνες--images of the eternal perfections of God. The world of sense pictures the world of reason by a participation (µέθεξις) of the ideas. And viewed as interwoven in the very texture and framework of the soul, they are ὁµοιώµατα--copies of the Divine Ideas which are the primordial laws of knowing, thinking, and reasoning. Ideas are thus the nexus of relation between God and the visible universe, and between the human and the Divine reason. 516 There is something divine in the world, and in the human soul, namely, the eternal laws and reasons of things, mingled with the endless diversity and change of sensible phenomena. These ideas are "the light of the intelligible world;" they render the invisible world of real Being perceptible to the reason of man. "Light is the offspring of the Good, which the Good has produced in his own likeness. Light in the visible world is what the idea of the Good is in the intelligible world. And this offspring of the Good--light--has the same relation to vision and visible things which the Good has to intellect and intelligible things." 517

Footnote 516: (return) "Now, Idea is, as regards God, a mental operation by him (the notions of God, eternal and perfect in themselves); as regards us, the first things perceptible by mind; as regards Matter, a standard; but as regards the world, perceptible by sense, a pattern; but as considered with reference to itself, an existence."--Alcinous, "Introduction to the Doctrines of Plato," p. 261.

"What general notions are to our minds, he (Plato) held, ideas are to the Supreme Reason (νοῦς ßασιλευς); they are the eternal thoughts of the Divine Intellect, and we attain truth when our thoughts conform with His--when our general notions are in conformity with the ideas."--Thompson, "Laws of Thought," p. 119.

Footnote 517: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xix.

Science is, then, according to Plato, the knowledge of universal, necessary, unchangeable, and eternal ideas. The simple cognition of the concrete phenomena of the universe is not regarded by him as real knowledge. "Science, or real knowledge, belongs to Being, and ignorance to non-Being." Whilst that which is conversant only "with that which partakes of both--of being 338 and non-being--and which can not be said either to be or not to be"--that which is perpetually "becoming," but never "really is," is "simply opinion, and not real knowledge." 518 And those only are "philosophers" who have a knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to the mere seeming; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes and wanes--is developed and destroyed alternately. "Those who recognize many beautiful things, but who can not see the Beautiful itself, and can not even follow those who would lead them to it, they opine, but do not know. And the same may be said of those who recognize right actions, but do not recognize an absolute righteousness. And so of other ideas. But they who look at these ideas--permanent and unchangeable ideas--these men really know." 519 Those are the true philosophers alone who love the sight of truth, and who have attained to the vision of the eternal order, and righteousness, and beauty, and goodness in the Eternal Being. And the means by which the soul is raised to this vision of real Being (τὸ ὄντως ὄν) is THE SCIENCE OF REAL KNOWLEDGE.

Plato, in the "Theætetus," puts this question by the interlocutor Socrates, "What is Science (᾽Επιστήµη) or positive knowledge?" 520 Theætetus essays a variety of answers, such as, "Science is sensation," "Science is right judgment or opinion," "Science is right opinion with logical definition." These, in the estimation of the Platonic Socrates, are all unsatisfactory and inadequate. But after you have toiled to the end of this remarkable discussion, in which Socrates demolishes all the then received theories of knowledge, he gives you no answer of his own. He abruptly closes the discussion by naïvely remarking that, at any rate, Theætetus will learn that he does not understand the subject; and the ground is now cleared for an original investigation.

Footnote 518: (return) "Republic," bk. v. ch. xx.
Footnote 519: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.
Footnote 520: (return) "Theætetus," § 10.

This investigation is resumed in the "Republic." This 339 greatest work of Plato's was designed not only to exhibit a scheme of Polity, and present a system of Ethics, but also, at least in its digressions, to propound a system of Metaphysics more complete and solid than had yet appeared. The discussion as to the powers or faculties by which we obtain knowledge, the method or process by which real knowledge is attained, and the ultimate objects or ontological grounds of all real knowledge, commences at § 18, book v., and extends to the end of book vii.

That we may reach a comprehensive view of this "sublimest of sciences," we shall find it necessary to consider--

1st. What are the powers or faculties by which we obtain knowledge, and what are the limits and degrees of human knowledge?

2d. What is the method in which, or the processes and laws according to which, the mind operates in obtaining knowledge?

3d. What are the ultimate results attained by this method? what are the objective and ontological grounds of all real knowledge?

The answer to the first question will give the PLATONIC PSYCHOLOGY; the answer to the second will exhibit the PLATONIC DIALECTIC; the answer to the last will reveal the PLATONIC ONTOLOGY.


Every successful inquiry as to the reality and validity of human knowledge must commence by clearly determining, by rigid analysis, what are the actual phenomena presented in consciousness, what are the powers or faculties supposed by these phenomena, and what reliance are we to place upon the testimony of these faculties? And, especially, if it be asserted that there is a science of absolute Reality, of ultimate and essential Being, then the most important and vital question is, By what power do we cognize real Being? through what faculty do we obtain the knowledge of that which absolutely is? If by sensation we only obtain the knowledge of the fleeting and the transitory, "the becoming" how do we attain to the knowledge 340 of the unchangeable and permanent, "the Being?" Have we a faculty of universal, necessary, and eternal principles? Have we a faculty, an interior eye which beholds "the intelligible," ideal, spiritual world, as the eye of sense beholds the visible or "sensible world?" 521

Plato commences this inquiry by first defining his understanding of the word δύναµις--power or faculty. "We will say faculties (δυνάµεις) are a certain kind of real existences by which we can do whatever we are able (e.g., to know), as there are powers by which every thing does what it does: the eye has a power of seeing; the ear has a power of hearing. But these powers (of which I now speak) have no color or figure to which I can so refer that I can distinguish one power from another. In order to make such distinction, I must look at the power itself, and see what it is, and what it does. In that way I discern the power of each thing, and that is the same power which produces the same effect, and that is a different power which produces a different effect." 522 That which is employed about, and accomplishes one and the same purpose, this Plato calls a faculty.

Footnote 521: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xviii.
Footnote 522: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxi.

We have seen that our first conceptions (i.e., first in the order of time) are of the mingled, the concrete (τὸ συγκεχυµένον), "the multiplicity of things to which the multitude ascribe beauty, etc. 523 The mind "contemplates what is great and small, not as distinct from each other, but as confused. 524 Prior to the discipline of reflection, men are curious about mere sights and sounds, love beautiful voices, beautiful colors, beautiful forms, but their intelligence can not see, can not embrace, the essential nature of the Beautiful itself. 525 Man's condition previous to the education of philosophy is vividly presented in Plato's simile of the cave. 526 He beholds only the images and shadows of the ectypal world, which are but dim and distant adumbrations of the real and archetypal world.


Primarily nothing is given in the abstract (τὸ κεγωρισµένον), but every thing in the concrete. The primary faculties of the mind enter into action spontaneously and simultaneously; all our primary notions are consequently synthetic. When reflection is applied to this primary totality of consciousness, that is, when we analyze our notions, we find them composed of diverse and opposite elements, some of which are variable, contingent, individual, and relative, others are permanent, unchangeable, universal, necessary, and absolute. Now these elements, so diverse, so opposite, can not have been obtained from the same source; they must be supplied by separate powers. "Can any man with common sense reduce under one what is infallible, and what is not infallible?" 527 Can that which is "perpetually becoming" be apprehended by the same faculty as that which "always is?" 528 Most assuredly not.

Footnote 523: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.
Footnote 524: (return) Ibid., bk. vii. ch. viii.
Footnote 525: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xx.
Footnote 526: (return) Ibid., bk. vii. ch. i., ii.
Footnote 527: (return) "Republic," bk. v. ch. xxi.
Footnote 528: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxii.; also "Timæus," § 9.

These primitive intuitions--the simple perceptions of sense, and the à priori intuitions of the reason, which constitute the elements of all our complex notions, have essentially diverse objects--the sensible or ectypal world, seen by the eye and touched by the hand, which Plato calls δοξαστήν--the subject of opinion; and the noetic or archetypal world, perceived by reason, and which he calls διανοητικήν--the subject of rational intuition or science. "It is plain," therefore, argues Plato, "that opinion is a different thing from science. They must, therefore, have a different faculty in reference to a different object--science as regards that which is, so as to know the nature of real being--opinion as regards that which can not be said absolutely to be, or not to be. That which is known and that which is opined can not possibly be the same,... since they are naturally faculties of different things, and both of them are faculties--opinion and science, and each of them different from the other." 529 Here then are two grand divisions of the mental powers--a faculty of apprehending universal and necessary 342 Truth, of intuitively beholding absolute Reality, and a faculty of perceiving sensible objects, and of judging according to appearance.

Footnote 529: (return) Ibid., bk. v. ch. xxi., xxii.

According to the scheme of Plato, these two general divisions of the mental powers are capable of a further subdivision. He says: Consider that there are two kinds of things, the intelligible and the visible; two different regions, the intelligible world and the sensible world. Now take a line divided into two equal segments to represent these two regions, and again divide each segment in the same ratio--both that of the visible and that of the intelligible species. The parts of each segment are to represent differences of clearness and indistinctness. In the visible world the parts are things and images. By images I mean shadows, 530 reflections in water and in polished bodies, and all such like representations; and by things I mean that of which images are resemblances, as animals, plants, and things made by man.

You allow that this difference corresponds to the difference of knowledge and opinion; and the opinionable is to the knowable as the image to the reality. 531

Footnote 530: (return) As in the simile of the cave ("Republic," bk. vii. ch. i. and ii.).
Footnote 531: (return) The analogy between the "images produced by reflections in water and on polished surfaces" and "the images of external objects produced in the mind by sensation" is more fully presented in the "Timæus," ch. 19.

The eye is a light-bearer, "made of that part of elemental fire which does not burn, but sheds a mild light, like the light of day.... When the light of the day meets the light which beams from the eye, then light meets like, and make a homogeneous body; the external light meeting the internal light, in the direction in which the eye looks. And by this homogeneity like feels like; and if this beam touches any object, or any object touches it, it transmits the motions through the body to the soul, and produces that sensation which we call seeing.... And if (in sleep) some of the strong motions remain in some part of the frame, they produce within us likenesses of external objects,... and thus give rise to dreams.... As to the images produced by mirrors and by smooth surfaces, they are now easily explained, for all such phenomena result from the mutual affinity of the external and internal fires. The light that proceeds from the face (as an object of vision), and the light that proceeds from the eye, become one continuous ray on the smooth surface."

Now we have to divide the segment which represents 343 intelligible things in this way: The one part represents the knowledge which the mind gets by using things as images--the other; that which it has by dealing with the ideas themselves; the one part that which it gets by reasoning downward from principles--the other, the principles themselves; the one part, truth which depends on hypotheses--the other, unhypothetical or absolute truth.

Thus, to explain a problem in geometry, the geometers make certain hypotheses (namely, definitions and postulates) about numbers and angles, and the like, and reason from them--giving no reason for their assumptions, but taking them as evident to all; and, reasoning from them, they prove the propositions which they have in view. And in such reasonings, they use visible figures or diagrams--to reason about a square, for instance, with its diagonals; but these reasonings are not really about these visible figures, but about the mental figures, and which they conceive in thought.

The diagrams which they draw, being visible, are the images of thoughts which the geometer has in his mind, and these images he uses in his reasoning. There may be images of these images--shadows and reflections in water, as of other visible things; but still these diagrams are only images of conceptions.

This, then, is one kind of intelligible things: conceptions--for instance, geometrical conceptions of figures. But in dealing with these the mind depends upon assumptions, and does not ascend to first principles. It does not ascend above these assumptions, but uses images borrowed from a lower region (the visible world), these images being chosen so as to be as distinct as may be.


Now the other kind of intelligible things is this: that which the Reason includes, in virtue of its power of reasoning, when it regards the assumptions of the sciences as (what they are) assumptions only, and uses them as occasions and starting-points, that from these it may ascend to the Absolute, which does not depend upon assumption, the origin of scientific truth.

The reason takes hold of this first principle of truth, and availing itself of all the connections and relations of this principle, it proceeds to the conclusion--using no sensible image in doing this, but contemplates the idea alone; and with these ideas the process begins, goes on, and terminates.

"I apprehend," said Glaucon, "but not very clearly, for the matter is somewhat abstruse. You wish to prove that the knowledge which by the reason, in an intuitive manner, we may acquire of real existence and intelligible things is of a higher degree of certainty than the knowledge which belongs to what are commonly called the Sciences. Such sciences, you say, have certain assumptions for their basis; and these assumptions are by the student of such sciences apprehended not by sense, but by a mental operation--by conception.

"But inasmuch as such students ascend no higher than assumptions, and do not go to the first principles of truth, they do not seem to have true knowledge, intellectual insight, intuitive reason, on the subjects of their reasonings, though the subjects are intelligible things. And you call this habit and practice of the geometers and others by the name of JUDGMENT (διάνοια), not reason, or insight, or intuition--taking judgment to be something between opinion, on the one side, and intuitive reason, on the other.

"You have explained it well," said I. "And now consider these four kinds of things we have spoken of, as corresponding to four affections (or faculties) of the mind. INTUITIVE REASON (νόησις), the highest; JUDGMENT (διάνοια)(or discursive reason), the next; the third, BELIEF (πίστις); and the fourth, CONJECTURE, or guess (εὶκασία); and arrange them in order, so that they may be held to have more or less certainty, as their objects have more or less truth." 532 The completeness, and even accuracy of this classification of all the objects of human cognition, and of the corresponding mental powers, will be seen at once by studying the diagram proposed by Plato, as figured on the opposite page.

Footnote 532: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx. and xxi.
            |                                 |
            | VISIBLE WORLD                   | INTELLIGIBLE WORLD
            | (the object of Opinion--δόξα).  |(the object of Knowledge or
            |                                 | Science--ίπυττήµη).
            |                |                |              |
            | Things.        | Images.        | Intuitions.  |Conceptions.
 And may be thus further expanded:
            |                                 |
            | VISIBLE WORLD.                  |   INTELLIGIBLE WORLD.
            |                |                |             |
            | Things         | Images         | Ideas       | Conceptions
OBJECT      |                |                |             |
            | ζὼα. κ.τ.λ.    | ικονες.        | ιδεαί.      | δυενοήµατα.
            |                |                |             |
            | Belief.        | Conjecture.    | Intuition.  |Demonstration.
PROCESS     |                |                |             |
            | πιοτις.        | ειϰασια.       | νόησις.     | ίπισιηιη.
            |                |                |             |
            | SENSATION.     | PHANTASY.      | INTUITIVE   | DISCURSIVE
FACULTY     |                |                |   REASON.   |    REASON.
            | αiσθησις.      | ϕαντασία.       | νούς.       | λόγος.
            |                |                |             |
NOMENCLATURE|Presentative    |Representative  |Regulative   | Logical
            | Faculty.       | Faculty        | Faculty.    |    Faculty.
            |                                 |
            | MEMORY.                         | REMINISCENCE
            | µνηµη.                          |   αναµησις.
            | The Conservative Faculty--      | The Reproductive Faculty--
            | "the preserver of sensation"    |"the recollection of the
            | (σωτηρια αισιν, σεως) [533]     | things which the soul
            |                                 | saw (in Eternity) when
            |                                 | journeying in the train of
            |                                 | the Deity."[534]
            |[Footnote 533: "Philebus," § 67] | [Footnote 534: Phædrus,
            |                                 |                     § 62.]

The foregoing diagram, borrowed from Whewell, with some modifications and additions we have ventured to make, exhibits a perfect view of the Platonic scheme of the cognitive powers--the faculties by which the mind attains to different degrees of knowledge, "having more or less certainty, as their objects have more or less truth." 535

1st. SENSATION (αἴσθησις).--This term is employed by Plato to denote the passive mental states or affections which are produced within us by external objects through the medium of the vital organization, and also the cognition or vital perception or consciousness 536 which the mind has of these mental states.

2d. PHANTASY (φαντασία).--This term is employed to describe the power which the mind possesses of imagining or representing whatever has once been the object of sensation. This may be done involuntarily as "in dreams, disease, and hallucination," 537 or voluntarily, as in reminiscence. Φαντάσµατα are the images, the life-pictures (ζωγράφηµα) of sensible things which are present to the mind, even when no external object is present to the sense.

Footnote 535: (return) "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xix.
Footnote 536: (return) "In Greek philosophy there was no term for 'consciousness' until the decline of philosophy, and in the latter ages of the language. Plato and Aristotle, to say nothing of other philosophers, had no special term to express the knowledge which the mind has of the operation of its own faculties, though this, of course, was necessarily a frequent matter of consideration. Intellect was supposed by them to be cognizant of its own operations.... In his 'Theætetus' Plato accords to sense the power of perceiving that it perceives."--Hamilton's "Metaphysics," vol. i. p. 198 (Eng. ed.).
Footnote 537: (return) "Theætetus," § 39.

The conjoint action of these two powers results in what Plato calls opinion (δόξα). "Opinion is the complication of memory and sensation. For when we meet for the first time with a thing perceptible by a sense, and a sensation is produced by it, and from this sensation a memory, and we subsequently meet again with the same thing perceived by a sense, we combine the memory previously brought into action with the sensation produced a second time, and we say within ourselves [this is] Socrates, or a horse, or fire, or whatever thing there may be of 347 such a kind. Now this is called opinion, through our combining the recollection brought previously into action with the sensation recently produced. And when these, placed along each other, agree, a true opinion is produced; but when they swerve from each other, a false one." 538 The δόξα of Plato, therefore answers to the experience, or the empirical knowledge of modern philosophy, which is concerned only with appearances (phenomena), and not with absolute realities, and can not be elevated to the dignity of science or real knowledge.

We are not from hence to infer that Plato intended to deny all reality whatever to the objects of sensible experience. These transitory phenomena were not real existences, but they were images of real existences. The world itself is but the image, in the sphere of sense, of those ideas of Order, and Proportion, and Harmony, which dwell in the Divine Intellect, and are mirrored in the soul of man. "Time itself is a moving image of Eternity." 539 But inasmuch as the immediate object of sense-perception is a representative image generated in the vital organism, and all empirical cognitions are mere "conjectures" (εἰκασίαι) founded on representative images, they need to be certified by a higher faculty, which immediately apprehends real Being (τὸ ὄν). Of things, as they are in themselves, the senses give us no knowledge; all that in sensation we are conscious of is certain affections of the mind (πάθος); the existence of self, or the perceiving subject, and a something external to self, a perceived object, are revealed to us, not by the senses, but by the reason.

Footnote 538: (return) Alcinous, "Introduction to the Doctrine of Plato," p. 247.
Footnote 539: (return) "Timæus," § 14.

3d. JUDGMENT (διάνοια, λόγος), the Discursive Faculty, or the Faculty of Relations.--According to Plato, this faculty proceeds on the assumption of certain principles as true, without inquiring into their validity, and reasons, by deduction, to the conclusions which necessarily flow from these principles. These assumptions Plato calls hypotheses (ὑποθέσεις). But by hypotheses he does not mean baseless assumptions--"mere theories--"but 348 things self-evident and "obvious to all;" 540 as for example, the postulates and definitions of Geometry. "After laying down hypotheses of the odd and even, and three kinds of angles [right, acute, and obtuse], and figures [as the triangle, square, circle, and the like], he proceeds on them as known, and gives no further reason about them, and reasons downward from these principles," 541 affirming certain judgments as consequences deducible therefrom.

Footnote 540: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx.
Footnote 541: (return) Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xx.

All judgments are therefore founded on relations. To judge is to compare two terms. "Every judgment has three parts: the subject, or notion about which the judgment is; the predicate, or notion with which the subject is compared; and the copula, or nexus, which expresses the connection or relation between them. 542 Every act of affirmative judgment asserts the agreement of the predicate and subject; every act of negative judgment asserts the predicate and subject do not agree. All judgment is thus an attempt to reduce to unity two cognitions, and reasoning (λογίζεσθαι) is simply the extension of this process. When we look at two straight lines of equal length, we do not merely think of them separately as this straight line, and that straight line, but they are immediately connected together by a comparison which takes place in the mind. We perceive that these two lines are alike; they are of equal length, and they are both straight; and the connection which is perceived as existing between them is a relation of sameness or identity. 543 When we observe any change occurring in nature, as, for example, the melting of wax in the presence of heat, the mind recognizes a causal efficiency in the fire to produce that change, and the relation now apprehended is a relation of cause and effect 544 But the fundamental principles, the necessary ideas which lie at the basis of all the judgments (as the ideas of space and time, of unity and identity, of substance and cause, of the infinite and perfect) are not given by the judgment, but 349 by the "highest faculty"--"the Intuitive Reason, 545 which is, for us, the source of all unhypothetical and absolute knowledge.

Footnote 542: (return) Thompson's "Laws of Thought," p. 134.
Footnote 543: (return) "Phædo," §§ 50-57, 62.
Footnote 544: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.; "Sophocles," § 109.
Footnote 545: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xxi.

The knowledge, therefore, which is furnished by the Discursive Reason, Plato does not regard as "real Science." "It is something between Opinion on the one hand, and Intuition on the other." 546

Footnote 546: (return) Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xxi.

4th. REASON (νοῦς)--Intuitive Reason, is the organ of self-evident, necessary, and universal Truth. In an immediate, direct, and intuitive manner, it takes hold on truth with absolute certainty. The reason, through the medium of ideas, holds communion with the world of real Being. These ideas are the light which reveals the world of unseen realities, as the sun reveals the world of sensible forms. "The idea of the good is the sun of the Intelligible World; it sheds on objects the light of truth, and gives to the soul that knows, the power of knowing." 547 Under this light, the eye of reason apprehends the eternal world of being as truly, yes more truly, than the eye of sense apprehends the world of phenomena. This power the rational soul possesses by virtue of its having a nature kindred, or even homogeneous with the Divinity. It was "generated by the Divine Father," and, like him, it is in a certain sense "eternal." 548 Not that we are to understand Plato as teaching that the rational soul had an independent and underived existence; it 350 was created or "generated" in eternity, 549 and even now, in its incorporate state, is not amenable to the conditions of time and space, but, in a peculiar sense, dwells in eternity; and therefore is capable of beholding eternal realities, and coming into communion with absolute beauty, and goodness, and truth--that is, with God, the Absolute Being.

Footnote 547: (return) Ibid., bk. vi. ch. xix.; see also ch. xviii.
Footnote 548: (return) The reader must familiarize himself with the Platonic notion of "eternity" as a fixed state out of time existing contemporaneous with one in time, to appreciate the doctrine of Plato as stated above. If we regard his idea of eternity as merely an indefinite extension of time, with a past, a present, and a future, we can offer no rational interpretation of his doctrine of the eternal nature of the rational essence of the soul. An eternal nature "generated" in a "past" or "present" time is a contradiction. But that was not Plato's conception of "eternity," as the reader will discover on perusing the "Timæus" (ch. xiv.). "God resolved to create a moving image of eternity, and out of that eternity which reposes in its own unchangeable unity he framed an eternal image moving according to numerical succession, which we call Time. Nothing can be more inaccurate than to apply the terms, past, present, future, to real Being, which is immovable. Past and future are expressions only suitable to generation which proceeds through time." Time reposes on the bosom of eternity, as all bodies are in space.
Footnote 549: (return) "Timæus," ch. xvi., and "Phædrus," where the soul is pronounced ἀρχὴ δὲ ἁγένητον.

Thus the soul (ψυχή) as a composite nature is on one side linked to the eternal world, its essence being generated of that ineffable element which constitutes the real, the immutable, and the permanent. It is a beam of the eternal Sun, a spark of the Divinity, an emanation from God. On the other side it is linked to the phenomenal or sensible world, its emotive part 550 being formed of that which is relative and phenomenal. The soul of man thus stands midway between the eternal and the contingent, the real and the phenomenal, and as such, it is the mediator between, and the interpreter of, both.

Footnote 550: (return) Θυµειδές, the seat of the nobler--ἐπιθυµητικόν, the seat of the baser passions.

In the allegory of the "Chariot and Winged Steeds" 551 Plato represents the lower or inferior part of man's nature as dragging the soul down to the earth, and subjecting it to the slavery and debasement of corporeal conditions. Out of these conditions there arise numerous evils that disorder the mind and becloud the reason, for evil is inherent to the condition of finite and multiform being into which we have "fallen by our own fault." The present earthly life is a fall and a punishment. The soul is now dwelling in "the grave we call the body." In its incorporate state, and previous to the discipline of education, the rational element is "asleep." "Life is more of a dream than a reality." Men are utterly the slaves of sense, the sport of phantoms and illusions. We now resemble those "captives chained in a subterraneous cave," so poetically described in the seventh book of the "Republic;" their backs are turned to the light, and consequently they see but the shadows of the objects 351 which pass behind them, and they "attribute to these shadows a perfect reality." Their sojourn upon earth is thus a dark imprisonment in the body, a dreamy exile from their proper home. "Nevertheless these pale fugitive shadows suffice to revive in us the reminiscence of that higher world we once inhabited, if we have not absolutely given the reins to the impetuous untamed horse which in Platonic symbolism represents the emotive sensuous nature of man." The soul has some dim and shadowy recollection of its ante-natal state of bliss, and some instinctive and proleptic yearnings for its return.

Footnote 551: (return) "Phædrus," § 54-62.

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The soul that rises with us, our life's star,

Has had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar,

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory, do we come

From God, who is our home." 552

Footnote 552: (return) Wordsworth, "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality," vol. v.

Exiled from the true home of the spirit, imprisoned in the body, disordered by passion, and beclouded by sense, the soul has yet longings after that state of perfect knowledge, and purity, and bliss, in which it was first created. Its affinities are still on high. It yearns for a higher and nobler form of life. It essays to rise, but its eye is darkened by sense, its wings are besmeared by passion and lust; it is "borne downward, until at length it falls upon and attaches itself to that which is material and sensual," and it flounders and grovels still amid the objects of sense.

And now, with all that seriousness and earnestness of spirit which is peculiarly Christian, Plato asks how the soul may be delivered from the illusions of sense, the distempering influence of the body, and the disturbances of passion, which becloud its vision of the real, the good, and the true?

Plato believed and hoped this could be accomplished by philosophy. This he regarded as a grand intellectual discipline for the purification of the soul. By this it was to be 352 disenthralled from the bondage of sense 553 and raised into the empyrean of pure thought "where truth and reality shine forth." All souls have the faculty of knowing, but it is only by reflection, and self-knowledge, and intellectual discipline, that the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty--that is, to the vision of God. And this intellectual discipline was the Platonic Dialectic.

Footnote 553: (return) Not, however, fully in this life. The consummation of the intellectual struggle into "the intelligible world" is death. The intellectual discipline was therefore µελέτη θανατου, a preparation for death.






The Platonic Dialectic is the Science of Eternal and Immutable Principles, and the method (ὄργανον) by which these first principles are brought forward into the clear light of consciousness. The student of Plato will have discovered that he makes no distinction between logic and metaphysics. These are closely united in the one science to which he gives the name of "Dialectic" and which was at once the science of the ideas and laws of the Reason, and of the mental process by which the knowledge of Real Being is attained, and a ground of absolute certainty is found. This science has, in modern times, been called Primordial or Transcendental Logic.

We have seen that Plato taught that the human reason is originally in possession of fundamental and necessary ideas--the copies of the archetypal ideas which dwell in the eternal Reason; and that these ideas are the primordial laws of thought--that is, they are the laws under which we conceive of all objective things, and reason concerning all existence. These ideas, he held, are not derived from sensation, neither are they generalizations from experience, but they are inborn and connatural. And, further, he entertained the belief, more, however, as a reasonable hypothesis 554 than as a demonstrable truth, that these standard principles were acquired by the soul 354 in a pre-existent state in which it stood face to face with ideas of eternal order, beauty, goodness, and truth. 555 "Journeying with the Deity," the soul contemplated justice, wisdom, science--not that science which is concerned with change, and which appears under a different manifestation in different objects, which we choose to call beings; but such science as is in that which alone is indeed being. 556 Ideas, therefore, belong to, and inhere in, that portion of the soul which is properly οὐσία--essence or being; which had an existence anterior to time, and even now has no relation to time, because it is now in eternity--that is, in a sphere of being to which past, present, and future can have no relation. 557

Footnote 554: (return) : Within "the εἰκότων µύθων ἰδέα--the category of probability."--"Phædo."
Footnote 555: (return) "Phædo," § 50-56.
Footnote 556: (return) "Phædrus," § 58.
Footnote 557: (return) See note on p. 349.

All knowledge of truth and reality is, therefore, according to Plato, a REMINISCENCE (ἀνάµνησις)--a recovery of partially forgotten ideas which the soul possessed in another state of existence; and the dialectic of Plato is simply the effort, by apt interrogation, to lead the mind to "recollect" 558 the truth which has been formerly perceived by it, and is even now in the memory though not in consciousness. An illustration of this method is attempted in the "Meno" where Plato introduces Socrates as making an experiment on the mind of an uneducated person. Socrates puts a series of questions to a slave of Meno, and at length elicits from the youth a right enunciation of a geometrical truth. Socrates then points triumphantly to this instance, and bids Meno observe that he had not taught the youth any thing, but simply interrogated him as to his opinions, whilst the youth had recalled the knowledge previously existing in his own mind. 559

Footnote 558: (return) "To learn is to recover our own previous knowledge, and this is properly to recollect."--"Phædo" § 55.
Footnote 559: (return) "Meno," § 16-20. "Now for a person to recover knowledge himself through himself, is not this to recollect."

Now whilst we readily grant that the instance given in the "Meno" does not sustain the inference of Plato that "the boy" had learnt these geometrical truths "in eternity," and that they had simply been brought forward into the view of his 355 consciousness by the "questioning" of Socrates, yet it certainly does prove that there are ideas or principles in the human reason which are not derived from without--which are anterior to all experience, and for the development of which, experience furnishes the occasion, but is not the origin and source. By a kind of lofty inspiration, he caught sight of that most important doctrine of modern philosophy, so clearly and logically presented by Kant, that the Reason is the source of a pure à priori knowledge--a knowledge native to, and potentially in the mind, antecedent to all experience, and which is simply brought out into the field of consciousness by experience conditions. Around this greatest of all metaphysical truths Plato threw a gorgeous mythic dress, and presented it under the most picturesque imagery. 560 But, when divested of the rich coloring which the glowing imagination of Plato threw over it, it is but a vivid presentation of the cardinal truth that there are ideas in the mind which have not been derived from without, and which, therefore, the mind brought with it into the present sphere of being. The validity and value of this fundamental doctrine, even as presented by Plato, is unaffected by any speculations in which he may have indulged, as to the pre-existence of the soul. He simply regarded this doctrine of pre-existence as highly probable--a plausible explanation of the facts. That there are ideas, innate and connatural to the human mind, he clung to as the most vital, most precious, most certain of all truths; and to lead man to the recognitions of these ideas, to bring them within the field of consciousness, was, in his judgment, the great business of philosophy.

And this was the grand aim of his Dialectic--to elicit, to bring to light the truths which are already in the mind--"a µαίευσις" a kind of intellectual midwifery 561--a delivering of the mind of the ideas with which it was pregnant.

Footnote 560: (return) As in the "Phædo," §§ 48-57; "Phædrus," §§ 52-64; "Republic," bk. x.
Footnote 561: (return) "Theætetus," §§ 17-20.

It is thus, at first sight, obvious that it was a higher and more comprehensive science than the art of deduction. For it 356 was directed to the discovery and establishment of First Principles. Its sole object was the discovery of truth. His dialectic was an analytical and inductive method. "In Dialectic Science," says Alcinous, "there is a dividing and a defining, and an analyzing, and, moreover, that which is inductive and syllogistic." 562 Even Bacon, who is usually styled "the Father of the Inductive method," and who, too often, speaks disparagingly of Plato, is constrained to admit that he followed the inductive method. "An induction such as will be of advantage for the invention and demonstration of Arts and Sciences must distinguish the essential nature of things (naturam) by proper rejections and exclusions, and then after as many of these negatives as are sufficient, by comprising, above all (super), the positives. Up to this time this had not been done, nor even attempted, except by Plato alone, who, in order to attain his definitions and ideas, has used, to a certain extent, the method of Induction." 563

Footnote 562: (return) "Introduction to the Doctrines of Plato," vol. vi. p. 249. "The Platonic Method was the method of induction."--Cousin's "History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 307.
Footnote 563: (return) "Novum Organum," vol. i. p. 105.

The process of investigation adopted by Plato thus corresponds with the inductive method of modern times, with this simple difference, that Bacon conducted science into the world of matter, whilst Plato directed it to the world of mind. The dialectic of Plato aimed at the discovery of the "laws of thought;" the modern inductive philosophy aims at the discovery of the "laws of nature." The latter concerns itself chiefly with the inquiry after the "causes" of material phenomena; the former concerned itself with the inquiry after the "first principles" of all knowledge and of all existence. Both processes are, therefore, carried on by interrogation. The analysis which seeks for a law of nature proceeds by the interrogation of nature. The analysis of Plato proceeds by the interrogation of mind, in order to discover the fundamental ideas which lie at the basis of all cognition, which determine all our 357 processes of thought, and which, in their final analysis, reveal the REAL BEING, which is the ground and explanation of all existence.

Now the fact that such an inquiry has originated in the human mind, and that it can not rest satisfied without some solution, is conclusive evidence that the mind has an instinctive belief, a proleptic anticipation, that such knowledge can be attained. There must unquestionably be some mental initiative which is the motive and guide to all philosophical inquiry. We must have some well-grounded conviction, some à priori belief, some pre-cognition "ad intentionem ejus quod quæritur," 564 which determines the direction of our thinking. The mind does not go to work aimlessly; it asks a specific question; it demands the "whence" and the "why" of that which is. Neither does it go to work unfurnished with any guiding principles. That which impels the mind to a determinate act of thinking is the possession of a knowledge which is different from, and independent of, the process of thinking itself. "A rational anticipation is, then, the ground of the prudens quæstio --"the forethought query, which, in fact, is the prior half of the knowledge sought." 565 If the mind inquire after "laws," and "causes," and "reasons," and "grounds,"--the first principles of all knowledge and of all existence,--"it must have the à priori ideas of "law," and "cause," and "reason," and "being in se" which, though dimly revealed to the mind previous to the discipline of reflection, are yet unconsciously governing its spontaneous modes of thought. The whole process of induction has, then, some rational ground to proceed upon--some principles deeper than science, and more certain than demonstration, which reason contains within itself, and which induction "draws out" into clearer light.

Footnote 564: (return) Bacon.
Footnote 565: (return) Coleridge, vol. ii. p. 413.

Now this mental initiative of every process of induction is the intuitive and necessary conviction that there must be a sufficient reason why every thing exists, and why it is as it is, and not otherwise; 566 or in other words, if any thing begins to be, some 358 thing else must be supposed 567 as the ground, and reason, and cause, and law of its existence. This "law of sufficient (or determinant) reason" 568 is the fundamental principle of all metaphysical inquiry. It is contained, at least in a negative form, in that famous maxim of ancient philosophy, "De nihilo nihil"--"Ἀδύνατον γίνεσθαί τι ἐκ µηδενὸς προϋπάρχοντος." "It is impossible for a real entity to be made or generated from nothing pre-existing;" or in other words, "nothing can be made or produced without an efficient cause." 569 This principle is also distinctly announced by Plato: "Whatever is generated, is necessarily generated from a certain αἰτίαν"--ground, reason, or cause; "for it is wholly impossible that any thing should be generated without a cause." 570

Footnote 566: (return) "Phædo," § 103.
Footnote 567: (return) Suppono, to place under as a support, to take as a ground.
Footnote 568: (return) This generic principle, viewed under different relations, gives--

1st. The principle of Substance--every quality supposes a subject or real being.

2d. The principle of Causality--every thing which begins to be must have a cause.

3d. The principle of Law--every phenomenon must obey some uniform law.

4th. The principle of Final Cause--every means supposes an end, every existence has a purpose or reason why.

5th. The principle of Unity--all plurality supposes a unity as its basis and ground.

Footnote 569: (return) Cudworth's "Intellectual System," vol. ii. p. 161.
Footnote 570: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.

The first business of Plato's dialectic is to demonstrate that the ground and reason of all existence can not be found in the mere objects of sense, nor in any opinions or judgments founded upon sensation. Principles are only so far "first principles" as they are permanent and unchangeable, depending on neither time, nor place, nor circumstances. But the objects of sense are in ceaseless flux and change; they are "always becoming;" they can not be said to have any "real being." They are not to-day what they were yesterday, and they will never again be what they are now; consequently all opinions founded on mere phenomena are equally fluctuating and uncertain. Setting out, therefore, from the assumption of the fallaciousness of "opinion" it examined the various hypotheses 359 which had been bequeathed by previous schools of philosophy, or were now offered by contemporaneous speculators, and showed they were utterly inadequate to the solution of the problem. This scrutiny consisted in searching for the ground of "contradiction" 571 with regard to each opinion founded on sensation, and showing that opposite views were equally tenable. It inquired on what ground these opinions were maintained, and what consequences flowed therefrom, and it showed that the grounds upon which "opinion" was founded, and the conclusions which were drawn from it, were contradictory, and consequently untrue. 572 "They," the Dialecticians, "examined the opinions of men as if they were error; and bringing them together by a reasoning process to the same point, they placed them by the side of each other: and by so placing, they showed that the opinions are at one and the same time contrary to themselves, about the same things, with reference to the same circumstances, and according to the same premises." 573 And inasmuch as the same attribute can not, at the same time, be affirmed and denied of the same subject, 574 therefore a thing can not be at once "changeable" and "unchangeable," "movable" and "immovable," "generated" and "eternal." 575 The objects of sense, however generalized and classified, can only give the contingent, the relative, and the finite; therefore the permanent ground and sufficient reason of all phenomenal existence can not be found in opinions and judgments founded upon sensation.

Footnote 571: (return) "The Dialectitian is one who syllogistically infers the contradictions implied in popular opinions."--Aristotle, "Sophist," §§ 1, 2.
Footnote 572: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.
Footnote 573: (return) "Sophist," § 33; "Republic," bk. iv. ch. xii.
Footnote 574: (return) See the "Phædo," § 119, and "Republic," bk. iv. ch. xiii., where the Law of Non-contradiction is announced.
Footnote 575: (return) "Parmenides," § 3.

The dialectic process thus consisted almost entirely of refutation, 576 or what both he and Aristotle denominated elenchus (ἔλεγχος)--a process of reasoning by which the contradictory 360 of a given proposition is inferred. "When refutation had done its utmost, and all the points of difficulty and objection had been fully brought out, the dialectic method had accomplished its purpose; and the affirmation which remained, after this discussion, might be regarded as setting forth the truth of the question under consideration;" 577 or in other words, when a system of error is destroyed by refutation, the contradictory opposite principle, with its logical developments, must be accepted as an established truth.

Footnote 576: (return) Confutation is the greatest and chiefest of purification.--"Sophist," § 34.
Footnote 577: (return) Article "Plato," Encyclopædia Britannica.

By the application of this method, Plato had not only exposed the insufficiency and self-contradiction of all results obtained by a mere à posteriori generalization of the simple facts of experience, but he demonstrated, as a consequence, that we are in possession of some elements of knowledge which have not been derived from sensation; that there are, in all minds, certain notions, principles, or ideas, which have been furnished by a higher faculty than sense; and that these notions, principles, or ideas, transcend the limits of experience, and reveal the knowledge of real being--τὸ ὄντως ὄν--Being in se.

To determine what these principles or ideas are, Plato now addresses himself to the analysis of thought. "It is the glory of Plato to have borne the light of analysis into the most obscure and inmost region; he searched out what, in this totality which forms consciousness, is the province of reason; what comes from it, and not from the imagination and the senses--from within, and not from without." 578 Now to analyze is to decompose, that is, to divide, and to define, in order to see better that which really is. The chief logical instruments of the dialectic method are, therefore, Division and Definition. "The being able to divide according to genera, and not to consider the same species as different, nor a different as the same," 579 and "to see under one aspect, and bring together under one general idea, many things scattered in various places, that, by defining 361 each, a person may make it clear what the subject is," is, according to Plato, "dialectical." 580

Footnote 578: (return) Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 328.
Footnote 579: (return) "Sophist," § 83.
Footnote 280: (return) "Phædrus," §§ 109, 111.

We have already seen that, in his first efforts at applying reflection to the concrete phenomena of consciousness, Plato had recognized two distinct classes of cognitions, marked by characteristics essentially opposite;--one of "sensible" objects having a definite outline, limit, and figure, and capable of being imaged and represented to the mind in a determinate form--the other of "intelligible" objects, which can not be outlined or represented in the memory or the imagination by any figures or images, and are, therefore, the objects of purely rational conception. He found, also, that we arrive at one class of cognitions "mediately" through images generated in the vital organism, or by some testimony, definition, or explication of others; whilst we arrive at the other class "immediately" by simple intuition, or rational apperception. The mind stands face to face with the object, and gazes directly upon it. The reality of that object is revealed in its own light, and we find it impossible to refuse our assent--that is, it is self-evident. One class consisted of contingent ideas--that is, their objects are conceived as existing, with the possibility, without any contradiction, of conceiving of their non-existence; the other consisted of necessary ideas--their objects are conceived as existing with the absolute impossibility of conceiving of their non-existence. Thus we can conceive of this book, this table, this earth, as not existing, but we can not conceive the non-existence of space. We can conceive of succession in time as not existing, but we can not, in thought, annihilate duration. We can imagine this or that particular thing not to have been, but we can not conceive of the extinction of Being in itself. He further observed, that one class of our cognitions are conditional ideas; the existence of their objects is conceived only on the supposition of some antecedent existence, as for example, the idea of qualities, phenomena, events; whilst the other class of cognitions are unconditional and absolute--we can conceive of their objects as 362 existing independently and unconditionally--existing whether any thing else does or does not exist, as space, duration, the infinite, Being in se. And, finally, whilst some ideas appear in us as particular and individual, determined and modified by our own personality and liberty, there are others which are, in the fullest sense, universal. They are not the creations of our own minds, and they can not be changed by our own volitions. They depend upon neither times, nor places, nor circumstances; they are common to all minds, in all times, and in all places. These ideas are the witnesses in our inmost being that there is something beyond us, and above us; and beyond and above all the contingent and fugitive phenomena around us. Beneath all changes there is a permanent being. Beyond all finite and conditional existance there is something unconditional and absolute. Having determined that there are truths which are independent of our own minds--truths which are not individual, but universal--truths which would be truths even if our minds did not perceive them, we are led onward to a super-sensual and super-natural ground, on which they rest.

To reach this objective reality on which the ideas of reason repose, is the grand effort of Plato's dialectic. He seeks, by a rigid analysis, clearly to separate, and accurately to define the à priori conceptions of reason. And it was only when he had eliminated every element which is particular, contingent, and relative, and had defined the results in precise and accurate language, that he regarded the process as complete. The ideas which are self-evident, universal, and necessary, were then clearly disengaged, and raised to their pure and absolute form. "You call the man dialectical who requires a reason of the essence or being of each thing. As the dialectical man can define the essence of every thing, so can he of the good. He can define the idea of the good, separating it from all others--follow it through all windings, as in a battle, resolved to mark it, not according to opinion, but according to science." 581

Footnote 581: (return) "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xiv.

Abstraction is thus the process, the instrument of the Platonic 363 dialectic. It is important, however, that we should distinguish between the method of comparative abstraction, as employed in physical inquiry, and that immediate abstraction, which is the special instrument of philosophy. The former proceeds by comparison and generalization, the latter by simple separation. The one yields a contingent general principle as the result of the comparison of a number of individual cases, the other gives an universal and necessary principle by the analysis of a single concrete fact. As an illustration we may instance "the principle of causality." To enable us to affirm "that every event must have a cause," we do not need to compare and generalize a great number of events. "The principle which compels us to pronounce the judgment is already complete in the first as in the last event; it can change in regard to its object, it can not change in itself; it neither increases nor decreases with the greater or less number of applications." 582 In the presence of a single event, the universality and necessity of this principle of causality is recognized with just as much clearness and certainty as in the presence of a million events, however carefully generalized.

Footnote 582: (return) Cousin's "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," pp. 57, 58.

Abstraction, then, it will be seen, creates nothing; neither does it add any new element to the store of actual cognitions already possessed by all human minds. It simply brings forward into a clearer and more definite recognition, that which necessarily belongs to the mind as part of its latent furniture, and which, as a law of thought, has always unconsciously governed all its spontaneous movements. As a process of rational inquiry, it was needful to bring the mind into intelligible and conscious communion with the world of Ideas. These ideas are partially revealed in the sensible world, all things being formed, as Plato believed, according to ideas as models and exemplars, of which sensible objects are the copies. They are more fully manifested in the constitution of the human mind which, by virtue of its kindred nature with the original essence or being, must know them intuitively and immediately. And 364 they are brought out fully by the dialectic process, which disengages them from all that is individual and phenomenal, and sets them forth in their pure and absolute form.

But whilst Plato has certainly exhibited the true method of investigation by which the ideas of reason are to be separated from all concrete phenomena and set clearly before the mind, he has not attempted a complete enumeration of the ideas of reason; indeed, such an enumeration is still the grand desideratum of philosophy. We can not fail, however, in the careful study of his writings, to recognize the grand Triad of Absolute Ideas--ideas which Cousin, after Plato, has so fully exhibited, viz., the True, the Beautiful, and the Good.


I. The idea of ABSOLUTE TRUTH or REALITY (τὸ ἀληθές--τὸ ὄν)--the ground and efficient cause of all existence, and by participating in which all phenomenal existence has only so far a reality, sensible things being merely shadows and resemblances of ideas. This idea is developed in the human intelligence in its relation with the phenomenal world; as,

1. The idea of SUBSTANCE (οὐσία)--the ground of all phenomena, "the being or essence of all things," the permanent reality.--"Timæeus," ch. ix. and xii.; "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xiv.; "Phædo,"§§ 63-67, 73.

2. The idea of CAUSE (αἰτία)--the power or efficiency by which things that "become," or begin to be, are generated or produced.--"Timæus," ch. ix.; "Sophist," § 109; "Philebus," §§ 45, 46.

3. The idea of IDENTITY (αὐτὸ τὸ ἴσον)--that which "does not change," "is always the same, simple and uniform, incomposite and indissoluble,"--that which constitutes personality or self-hood.--"Phædo," §§ 61-75; "Timæus," ch. ix.; "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xix. and xx.

4. The idea of UNITY (τὸ ἕν)--one mind or intelligence pervading the universe, the comprehensive conscious thought or plan which binds all parts of the universe in one great 365 whole (τὸ πᾶν)--the principle of order.--"Timæus," ch. xi. and xv.; "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.; "Philebus," §§ 50-51.

5. The idea of the INFINITE (τὸ ἄπειρον)--that which is unlimited and unconditioned, "has no parts, bounds, no beginning, nor middle, nor end."--"Parmenides," §§ 22, 23.

II. The idea of ABSOLUTE BEAUTY (τὸ καλόν)--the formal cause of the universe, and by participation in which all created things have only so far a real beauty.--"Timæus," ch. xi, "Greater Hippias," §§ 17, 18; "Republic," bk. v. ch. 22.

This idea is developed in the human intelligence in its relation to the organic world; as,

1. The Idea of PROPORTION or SYMMETRY (συµµετρἰα)--the proper relation of parts to an organic whole resulting in a harmony (κόσµος), and which relation admits of mathematical expression.--"Timæus," ch. lxix.; "Philebus," § 155 ("Timæus," ch. xi. and xii., where the relation of numerical proportions to material elements is expounded).

2. The idea of DETERMINATE FORM (παράδειγµα ἀρχέτυπος)--the eternal models or archetypes according to which all things are framed, and which admit of geometrical representation.--"Timæus," ch. ix.; "Phædo," §112 ("Timæus," ch. xxviii.-xxxi., where the relation of geometrical forms to material elements is exhibited).

3. The idea of RHYTHM (ῥυθµός)--measured movement in time and space, resulting in melody and grace.--"Republic," bk. iii. ch. xi. and xii.; "Philebus," § 21.

4. The idea of FITNESS or ADAPTATION (χρήσιον)--effectiveness to some purpose or end.--"Greater Hippias," § 35.

5. The idea of PERFECTION (τελειότης)--that which is complete, "a structure which is whole and finished--of whole and perfect parts."--"Timæus," ch. xi., xii., and xliii.

III. The idea of ABSOLUTE GOOD (τὸ ἀγαθόν)--the final cause or reason of all existence, the sun of the invisible world, that pours upon all things the revealing light of truth.


The first Good 583 (summum bonum) is God the highest, and Mind or Intelligence (νοῦς), which renders man capable of knowing and resembling God. The second flows from the first, and are virtues of mind. They are good by a participation of the chief good, and constitute in man a likeness or resemblance to God.--"Phædo," §§110-114; "Laws," bk. i. ch. vi., bk. iv. ch. viii.; "Theætetus," §§ 84, 85; "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xix., bk. vii. ch. iii., bk. x. ch. xii. 584

Footnote 583: (return) "Let us declare, then, on what account the framing Artificer settled the formation of the universe. He was GOOD;" and being good, "he desired that all things should as much as possible resemble himself."--"Timæus," ch. x.
Footnote 584: (return) "At the utmost bounds of the intellectual world is the idea of the Good, perceived with difficulty, but which, once seen, makes itself known as the cause of all that is beautiful and good; which in the visible world produces light, and the orb that gives it; and which in the invisible world directly produces Truth and Intelligence."--"Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.

This idea is developed in the human intelligence in its relation to the world of moral order; as,

1. The idea of WISDOM or PRUDENCE (φρόνησις)--thoughtfulness, rightness of intention, following the guidance of reason, the right direction of the energy or will.--"Republic," bk. iv. ch. vii., bk. vi. ch. ii.

2. The idea of COURAGE or FORTITUDE (ἀνδρία)--zeal, energy, firmness in the maintenance of honor and right, virtuous indignation against wrong.--"Republic," bk. iv. ch. viii.; "Laches;" "Meno," § 24.

3. The idea of SELF-CONTROL or TEMPERANCE (σωφροσύνη)--sound-mindedness, moderation, dignity.--"Republic," bk. iv. ch. ix.; "Meno," § 24; "Phædo," § 35.

4. The idea of JUSTICE (δικαιοσύνη)--the harmony or perfect proportional action of all the powers of the soul.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. vi., bk. iv. ch. x.-xii., bk. vi. ch. ii. and xvi.; "Philebus," § 155; "Phædo," § 54; "Theætetus," §§ 84, 85.

Plato's idea of Justice comprehends--

(1) EQUITY (ὶσότης)--the rendering to every man his due.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. vi.


(2.) VERACITY (ἀλήθεια)--the utterance of what is true.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. v., bk. ii. ch. xx., bk. vi. ch. ii.

(3.) FAITHFULNESS (πιστὸτης)--the strict performance of a trust.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. v., bk. vi. ch. ii.

(4.) USEFULNESS (ώφέλτµον)--the answering of some valuable end.--"Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii., bk. iv. ch. xviii.; "Meno," § 22.

(5.) BENEVOLENCE (εὔνοια)--seeking the well-being of others.--"Republic," bk. i. ch. xvii., bk. ii. ch. xviii.

(6.) HOLINESS (ὁσιότης)--purity of mind, piety.--"Protagoras," §§ 52-54; "Phædo," § 32; "Theætetus," § 84.

The final effort of Plato's Dialectic was to ascend from these ideas of Absolute Truth, and Absolute Beauty, and Absolute Goodness to the Absolute Being, in whom they are all united, and from whom they all proceed. "He who possesses the true love of science is naturally carried in his aspirations to the real Being; and his love, so far from suffering itself to be retarded by the multitude of things whose reality is only apparent, knows no repose until it have arrived at union with the essence of each object, by the part of the soul which is akin to the permanent and essential; so that this divine conjunction having produced intelligence and truth, the knowledge of being is won." 585

Footnote 585: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. v.

To the mind of Plato, there was in every thing, even the smallest and most insignificant of sensible objects, a reality just in so far as it participates in some archetypal form or idea. These archetypal forms or ideas are the "thoughts of God" 586--they are the plan according to which he framed the universe. "The Creator and Father of the universe looked to an eternal model.... Being thus generated, the universe is framed according to principles that can be comprehended by reason and reflection." 587 Plato, also, regarded all individual conceptions of the mind as hypothetical notions which have in them an à 368 priori element--an idea which is unchangeable, universal, and necessary. These unchangeable, universal, and necessary ideas are copies of the Divine Ideas, which are, for man, the primordial laws of all cognition, and all reasoning. They are possessed by the soul "in virtue of its kindred nature to that which is permanent, unchangeable, and eternal." He also believed that every archetypal form, and every à priori idea, has its ground and root in a higher idea, which is unhypothetical and absolute--an idea which needs no other supposition for its explanation, and which is, itself, needful to the explanation of all existence--even the idea of an absolute and perfect Being, in whose mind the ideas of absolute truth, and beauty, and goodness inhere, and in whose eternity they can only be regarded as eternal. 588 Thus do the "ideas of reason" not only cast a bridge across the abyss that separates the sensible and the ideal world, but they also carry us beyond the limits of our personal consciousness, and discover to us a realm of real Being, which is the foundation, and cause, and explanation of the phenomenal world that appears around us and within us.

Footnote 586: (return) Alcinous, "Doctrines of Plato," p. 262.
Footnote 587: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.
Footnote 588: (return) Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 149.

This passage from psychology to ontology is not achieved per saltum, or effected by any arbitrary or unwarrantable assumption. There are principles revealed in the centre of our consciousness, whose regular development carry us beyond the limits of consciousness, and attain to the knowledge of actual being. The absolute principles of causality and substance, of intentionality and unity, unquestionably give us the absolute Being. Indeed the absolute truth that every idea supposes a being in which it resides, and which is but another form of the law or principle of substance, viz., that every quality supposes a substance or being in which it inheres, is adequate to carry us from Idea to Being. "There is not a single cognition which does not suggest to us the notion of existence, and there is not an unconditional and absolute truth which does not necessarily imply an absolute and unconditional Being." 589

Footnote 589: (return) Cousin's "Elements of Psychology," p. 506.

This, then, is the dialectic of Plato. Instead of losing himself amid the endless variety of particular phenomena, he would search for principles and laws, and from thence ascend to the great Legislator, the First Principle of all Principles. Instead of stopping at the relations of sensible objects to the general ideas with which they are commingled, he will pass to their eternal Paradigms--from the just thing to the idea of absolute justice, from the particular good to the absolute good, from beautiful things to the absolute beauty, and thence to the ultimate reality--the absolute Being. By the realization of the lower idea, embodied in the forms of the visible universe and in the necessary laws of thought, he sought to rise to the higher idea, in its pure and abstract form--the Supreme Idea, containing in itself all other ideas--the One Intelligence which unites the universe in a harmonious whole. "The Dialectic faculty proceeds from hypothesis to an unhypothetical principle.... It uses hypotheses as steps, and starting-points, in order to proceed from thence to the absolute. The Intuitive Reason takes hold of the First Principle of the Universe, and avails itself of all the connections and relations of that principle. It ascends from idea to idea, until it has reached the Supreme Idea"--the Absolute Good--that is, God. 590

Footnote 590: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xx. and xxi.

We are thus brought, in the course of our examination of the Platonic method, to the results obtained by this method--or, in other words, to


The grand object of all philosophic inquiry in ancient Greece was to attain to the knowledge of real Being--that Being which is permanent, unchangeable, and eternal. It had proceeded on the intuitive conviction, that beneath all the endless diversity of the universe there must be a principle of unity--below all fleeting appearances there must be a permanent substance--beyond all this everlasting flow and change, this beginning and end of finite existence, there must be an eternal 370 Being, which is the cause, and which contains, in itself, the reason of the order, and harmony, and beauty, and excellency which pervades the universe. And it had perpetually asked what is this permanent, unchangeable, and eternal substance or being?

Plato had assiduously labored at the solution of this problem. The object of his dialectic was "to lead upward the soul to the knowledge of real being," 591 and the conclusions to which he attained may be summed up as follows:

1st. Beneath all SENSIBLE phenomena there is an unchangeable subject-matter, the mysterious substratum of the world of sense, which he calls the receptacle (ἱποδοχή) the nurse (τιθήνη) of all that is produced. 592

It is this "substratum or physical groundwork" which gives a reality and definiteness to the evanescent phantoms of sense, for, in their ceaseless change, they can not justify any title whatever. It alone can be styled "this" or "that" (τόδε or τοῦτο); they rise no higher than "of such kind" or " of what kind or quality" (τοιοῦτον or ὁποιονοῦν τι). 593 It is not earth, or air, or fire, or water, but "an invisible species and formless universal receiver, which, in the most obscure way, receives the immanence of the intelligible." 594 And in relation to the other two principles (i.e., ideas and objects of sense), "it is the mother" to the father and the offspring. 595 But perhaps the most remarkable passage is that in which he seems to identify it with pure space, which, "itself imperishable, furnishes a seat (ἕδραν) to all that is produced, not apprehensible by direct perception, but caught by a certain spurious reasoning, scarcely admissible, but which we see as in a dream; gaining it by that judgment which pronounces it necessary that all which is, be somewhere, and occupy a certain space." 596 This, it will be seen, approaches the Cartesian doctrine, which resolves matter into simple extension. 597

Footnote 591: (return) "Republic," bk. vii. ch. xii. and xiii.
Footnote 592: (return) "Timæus," ch. xxii.
Footnote 593: (return) "Timæus," ch. xxiii.
Footnote 594: (return) Ibid., ch. xxiv.
Footnote 595: (return) Ibid., ch. xxiv.
Footnote 596: (return) Ibid., ch. xxvi.
Footnote 597: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 171.

It should, however, be distinctly noted that Plato does not use the word ὓλη--matter. This term is first employed by Aristotle to express "the substance which is the subject of all changes." 598 The subject or substratum of which Plato speaks, would seem to be rather a logical than a material entity. It is the condition or supposition necessary for the production of a world of phenomena. It is thus the transition-element between the real and the apparent, the eternal and the contingent; and, lying thus on the border of both territories, we must not be surprised that it can hardly be characterized by any definite attribute. 599 Still, this unknown recipient of forms or ideas has a reality; it has "an abiding nature," "a constancy of existence;" and we are forbidden to call it by any name denoting quality, but permitted to style it "this" and "that" (τόδε καὶ τοῦτο). 600 Beneath the perpetual changes of sensible phenomena there is, then, an unchangeable subject, which yet is neither the Deity, nor ideas, nor the soul of man, which exists as the means and occasion of the manifestation of Divine Intelligence in the organization of the world. 601

Footnote 598: (return) "Metaphysics," bk. vii. ch. i.
Footnote 599: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 178.
Footnote 600: (return) "Timæus," ch. xxiii.
Footnote 601: (return) Ibid., ch. xiiii

There has been much discussion as to whether Plato held that this "Receptacle" and "Nurse" of forms and ideas was eternal, or generated in time. Perhaps no one has more carefully studied the writings of Plato than William Archer Butler, and his conclusions in regard to this subject are presented in the following words: "As, on the one hand, he maintained a strict system of dualism, and avoided, without a single deviation, that seduction of pantheism to which so many abstract speculators of his own school have fallen victims; so, on the other hand, it appears to me that he did not scruple to place this principle, the opposite of the Divine intelligence, in a sphere independent of temporal origination.... But we can scarcely enter into his views, unless we ascertain his notions of the nature of Time itself. This was considered to have been 372 created with the rest of the sensible world, to finish with it, if it ever finished--to be altogether related to this phenomenal scene. 602 'The generating Father determined to create a moving image of eternity (αἰῶνος); and in disposing the heavens, he framed of this eternity, reposing in its own unchangeable unity, an eternal image, moving according to numerical succession, which he called Time. With the world arose days, nights, months, years, which all had no previous existence. The past and future are but forms of time, which we most erroneously transfer to the eternal substance (ἀίδιον οὐσίαν); we say it was, and is, and will be, whereas we can only fitly say it is. Past and future are appropriate to the successive nature of generated beings, for they bespeak motion; but the Being eternally and immovably the same is subject neither to youth nor age, nor to any accident of time; it neither was, nor hath been, nor will be, which are the attributes of fleeting sense--the circumstances of time, imitating eternity in the shape of number and motion. Nor can any thing be more inaccurate than to apply the term real being to past, or present, or future, or even to non-existence. Of this, however, we can not now speak fully. Time, then, was formed with the heavens, that, together created, they may together end, if indeed an end be in the purpose of the Creator; and it is designed as closely as possible to resemble the eternal nature, its exemplar. The model exists through all eternity; the world has been, is, and will be through all time.' 603 In this ineffable eternity Plato places the Supreme Being, and the archetypal ideas of which the sensible world of time partakes. Whether he also includes under the same mode of existence the subject-matter of the sensible world, it is not easy to pronounce; and it appears to me evident that he did not himself undertake to speak with assurance on this obscure problem." 604 The creation of matter "out of nothing" is an idea which, in all probability, did not occur to the mind of Plato. But that he regarded it as, in some sense, a dependent 373 existence--as existing, like time, by "the purpose or will of the Creator"--perhaps as an eternal "generation" from the "eternal substance," is also highly probable; for in the last analysis he evidently desires to embrace all things in some ultimate unity--a tendency which it seems impossible for human reason to avoid.

Footnote 602: (return) See ante, note 4, p. 349.
Footnote 603: (return) "Timæus," ch. xiv.
Footnote 604: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 171-175.

2d. Beneath all mental phenomena there is a permanent subject or substratum which he designates THE IDENTICAL (τὸ αὐτό)--the rational element of the soul--"the principle of self-activity" or self-determination. 605

There are three principles into which Plato analyzes the soul--the principle of the Identical, the Diverse, and the Intermediate Essence. 606 The first is indivisible and eternal, always existing in sameness, the very substance of Intelligence itself, and of the same nature with the Divine. 607 The second is divisible and corporeal, answering to our notion of the passive sensibilities, and placing the soul in relation with the visible world. The third is an intermediate essence, partaking of the natures of both, and constituting a medium between the eternal and the mutable--the conscious energy of the soul developed in the contingent world of time. Thus the soul is, on one side, linked to the unchangeable and the eternal, being formed of that ineffable element which constitutes the real or immutable Being, and on the other side, linked to the sensible and the contingent, being formed of that element which is purely relative and contingent. This last element of the soul is regarded by Plato as "mortal" and "corruptible," the former element as "immortal" and "indestructible," having its foundations laid in eternity.

Footnote 605: (return) "Laws," bk. x. ch. vi. and vii.; "Phædrus," § 51; "άρχὴ κινήσεως."
Footnote 606: (return) "Timæus," ch. xii.; ταὐτον, θάτερον, and οὐσία or τὸ σνµµισγόµενον.
Footnote 607: (return) "Laws," bk. v. ch. i.

This doctrine of the eternity of the free and rational element of the soul must, of course, appear strange and even repulsive to those who are unacquainted with the Platonic notion of eternity as a fixed state out of time, which has no past, present, 374 or future, and is simply that which "always is"--an everlasting now. The soul, in its elements of rationality and freedom, has existed anterior to time, because it now exists in eternity. 608 In its actual manifestations and personal history it is to be contemplated as a "generated being," having a commencement in time.

Now, that the human soul, like the uncreated Deity, has always had a distinct, conscious, personal, independent being, does not appear to be the doctrine of Plato. He teaches, most distinctly, that the "divine," the immortal part, was created, or rather "generated," in eternity. "The Deity himself formed the divine, and he delivered over to his celestial offspring [the subordinate and generated gods] the task of forming the mortal. These subordinate deities, copying the example of their parent, and receiving from his hands the immortal principle of the human soul, fashioned subsequently to this the mortal body, which they consigned to the soul as a vehicle, and in which they placed another kind of soul, mortal, the seat of violent and fatal affections." 609 He also regarded the soul as having a derived and dependent existence. He draws a marked distinction between the divine and human forms of the "self-moving principle," and makes its continuance dependent upon the will and wisdom of the Almighty Disposer and Parent, of whom it is "the first-born offspring." 610

Footnote 608: (return) See ante, note 4, p. 349, as to the Platonic notions of "Time" and "Eternity."
Footnote 609: (return) "Timaeus," ch. xliv.
Footnote 610: (return) See the elaborate exposition in "Laws," bk. x. ch. xii. and xiii.

That portion of the soul which Plato regarded as "immortal" and "to be entitled divine," is thus the "offspring of God"--a ray of the Divinity "generated" by, or emanating from, the Deity. He seems to have conceived it as co-eternal with its ideal objects, in some mysterious ultimate unity. "The true foundation of the Platonic theory of the constitution of the soul is this fundamental principle of his philosophy--the oneness of truth and knowledge. 611 This led him naturally to derive the 375 rational element of the soul (that element that knows), that possesses the power of νόησις from the real element in things (the element that is)--the νοούµενον; and in the original, the final, and, though imperfectly, the present state of that rational element, he, doubtless, conceived it united with its object in an eternal conjunction, or even identity. But though intelligence and its correlative intelligibles were and are thus combined, the soul is more than pure intelligence; it possesses an element of personality and consciousness distinct to each individual, of which we have no reason to suppose, from any thing his writings contain, Plato ever meant to deprive it." 612 On the contrary, he not only regarded it as having now, under temporal conditions, a distinct personal existence, but he also claimed for it a conscious, personal existence after death. He is most earnest, and unequivocal, and consistent in his assertion of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The arguments which human reason can supply are exhibited with peculiar force and beauty in the "Phædo," the "Phædrus," and the tenth book of the "Republic." The most important of these arguments may be presented in a few words.

Footnote 611: (return) See Grant's "Aristotle," vol. i. pp. 150, 151.
Footnote 612: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 209, note.

1. The soul is immortal, because it is incorporeal. There are two kinds of existences, one compounded, the other simple; the former subject to change, the latter unchangeable; one perceptible to sense, the other comprehended by mind alone. The one is visible, the other is invisible. When the soul employs the bodily senses, it wanders and is confused; but when it abstracts itself from the body, it attains to knowledge which is stable, unchangeable, and immortal. The soul, therefore, being uncompounded, incorporeal, invisible, must be indissoluble--that is to say, immortal. 613

Footnote 613: (return) "Phædo," §§ 61-75.

2. The soul is immortal, because it has an independent power of self-motion--that is, it has self-activity and self-determination. No arrangement of matter, no configuration of body, can be conceived as the originator of free and voluntary movement.


Now that which can not move itself, but derives its motion from something else, may cease to move, and perish. "But that which is self-moved, never ceases to be active, and is also the cause of motion to all other things that are moved." And "whatever is continually active is immortal." This "self-activity is," says Plato, "the very essence and true notion of the soul." 614 Being thus essentially causative, it therefore partakes of the nature of a "principle," and it is the nature of a principle to exclude its contrary. That which is essentially self-active can never cease to be active; that which is the cause of motion and of change, can not be extinguished by the change called death. 615

3. The soul is immortal, because it possesses universal, necessary, and absolute ideas, which transcend all material conditions, and bespeak an origin immeasurably above the body. No modifications of matter, however refined, however elaborated, can give the Absolute, the Necessary, the Eternal. But the soul has the ideas of absolute beauty, goodness, perfection, identity, and duration, and it possesses these ideas in virtue of its having a nature which is one, simple, identical, and in some sense, eternal. 616 If the soul can conceive an immortality, it can not be less than immortal. If, by its very nature, "it has hopes that will not be bounded by the grave, and desires and longings that grasp eternity," its nature and its destiny must correspond.

In the concluding sections of the "Phædo" he urges the doctrine with earnestness and feeling as the grand motive to a virtuous life, for "the reward is noble and the hope is great." 617 And in the "Laws" he insists upon the doctrine of a future state, in which men are to be rewarded or punished as the most conclusive evidence that we are under the moral government of God. 618

Footnote 614: (return) "Phædrus," §§ 51-53.
Footnote 615: (return) "Phædo," §§ 112-128.
Footnote 616: (return) Ibid., §§ 48-57, 110-115.
Footnote 617: (return) Ibid., §§ 129-145.
Footnote 618: (return) The doctrine of Metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, can scarcely be regarded as part of the philosophic system of Plato. He seems to have accepted it as a venerable tradition, coming within the range of probability, rather than as a philosophic truth, and it is always presented by him in a highly mythical dress. Now of these mythical representations he remarks in the "Phædo" (§ 145) that "no man in his senses would dream of insisting that they correspond to the reality, but that, the soul having been shown to be immortal, this, or something like this, is true of individual souls or their habitations." If, as in the opinions of the ablest critics, "the Laws" is to be placed amongst the last and maturest of Plato's writings, the evidence is conclusive that whatever may have been his earlier opinions, he did not entertain the doctrine of "Metempsychosis" in his riper years. But when, on the one hand, the soul shall remain having an intercourse with divine virtue, it becomes divine pre-eminently; and pre-eminently, after having been conveyed to a place entirely holy, it is changed for the better; but when it acts in a contrary manner, it has, under contrary circumstances, placed its existence in some unholy spot.

This is the judgment of the gods, who hold Olympus.

"O thou young man," [know] "that the person who has become more wicked, departs to the more wicked souls; but he who has become better, to the better both in life and in all deaths, to do and suffer what is fitting for the like."--"Laws," bk. x. ch. xii. and xiii.


4. Beyond all finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas, and principles, there is an INTELLIGENCE or MIND, the First Principle of all Principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded; the Monarch and Lawgiver of the universe, the ultimate Substance from which all other things derive their being and essence, the First and efficient Cause of all the order, and harmony, and beauty, and excellency, and goodness, which pervades the universe, who is called by way of pre-eminence and excellence the Supreme Good, THE GOD (ὁ θεός), "the God over all," (ὁ ἐπὶ πᾶσι θεός).

This SUPREME MIND, 619 Plato taught, is incorporeal, 620 unchangeable, 621 infinite, 622 absolutely perfect, 623 essentially good, 624 unoriginated, 625 and eternal. 626 He is "the Father, and Architect, and Maker of the Universe," 627 "the efficient Cause of all things." 628 "the Monarch and Ruler of the world," 629 "the sovereign Mind that orders all things, and pervades all things," 630 "the sole 378 Principle of all things," 631 and "the Measure of all things," 632 He is "the Beginning of all truth," 633 "the Fountain of all law and justice," 634 "the Source of all order and beauty," 635 "the Cause of all good;" 636 in short, "he is the Beginning, the Middle, and End of all things." 637

Footnote 619: (return) "Phædo," §§ 105-107.
Footnote 620: (return) Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," bk. iii. ch. 77.
Footnote 621: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xix.; "Timæus," ch. ix.
Footnote 622: (return) "Apeleius," bk. i. ch. v.
Footnote 623: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xx.
Footnote 624: (return) "Timæus," ch. x.; "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii.
Footnote625: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.-x.
Footnote 626: (return) Ibid., ch. xii.
Footnote 627: (return) Ibid., ch. ix.
Footnote 628: (return) "Phædo," § 105.
Footnote 629: (return) "Laws," bk. x. ch. xii.; "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.; "Philebus," § 50.
Footnote 630: (return) "Philebus," §51.
Footnote 631: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xix.
Footnote 632: (return) "Laws," bk. iv. ch. viii.
Footnote 633: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xxi.
Footnote 634: (return) "Laws," bk. iv. ch. vii.
Footnote 635: (return) "Philebus," § 51; "Timæus," ch. x.
Footnote 636: (return) "Republic," bk. ii. ch. xviii.; "Timæus," ch. x.
Footnote 637: (return) "Laws," bk. iv, ch. vii.

Beyond the sensible world, Plato conceived another world of intelligibles or ideas. These ideas are not, however, distinct and independent existences. "What general notions are to our own minds, ideas are to the Supreme Reason (νοῦς ßασιλεύς); they are the eternal thoughts of the Divine Intellect." 638 Ideas are not substances, they are qualities, and there must, therefore, be some ultimate substance or being to whom, as attributes, they belong. "It must not be believed, as has been taught, that Plato gave to ideas a substantial existence. When they are not objects of pure conception for human reason, they are attributes of the Divine Reason. It is there they substantially exist." 639 These eternal laws and reasons of things indicate to us the character of that Supreme Essence of essences, the Being of beings. He is not the simple aggregate of all laws, but he is the Author, and Sustainer, and Substance of all laws. At the utmost summit of the intellectual world of Ideas blazes, with an eternal splendor, the idea of the Supreme Good from which all others emanate. 640 This Supreme Good is "far beyond all existence in dignity and power, and it is that from which all things else derive their being and essence." 641 The Supreme Good is not the truth, nor the intelligence; "it is the Father of it." In the same manner as the sun, which is the 379 visible image of the good, reigns over the world, in that it illumes and vivifies it; so the Supreme Good, of which the sun is only the work, reigns over the intelligible world, in that it gives birth to it by virtue of its inexhaustible fruitfulness. 642 The Supreme Good is GOD himself, and he is designated "the good" because this term seems most fittingly to express his essential character and essence. 643 It is towards this superlative perfection that the reason lifts itself; it is towards this infinite beauty the heart aspires. "Marvellous Beauty!" exclaims Plato; "eternal, uncreated, imperishable beauty, free from increase and diminution... beauty which has nothing sensible, nothing corporeal, as hands or face: which does not reside in any being different from itself, in the earth, or the heavens, or in any other thing, but which exists eternally and absolutely in itself, and by itself; beauty of which every other beauty partakes, without their birth or destruction bringing to it the least increase or diminution." 644 The absolute being--God, is the last reason, the ultimate foundation, the complete ideal of all beauty. God is, par excellent, the Beautiful.

Footnote 638: (return) Thompson's "Laws of Thought," p. 119.
Footnote 639: (return) Cousin, "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 415. "There is no quintessential metaphysics which can prevail against common sense, and if such be the Platonic theory of ideas, Aristotle was right in opposing it. But such a theory is only a chimera which Aristotle created for the purpose of combating it."--"The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," p. 77.
Footnote 640: (return) "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.
Footnote 641: (return) "Ibid.," bk. vi. ch. xviii. and xix.
Footnote 642: (return) "Republic," bk. vii. ch. iii.
Footnote 643: (return) Ritter's "History of Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 275.
Footnote 644: (return) "Banquet," § 35. See Cousin, "The True, the Beautiful, and the Good," Lecture IV., also Lecture VII. pp. 150-153; Denis, "Histoire des Théories et Ideés Morales dans l'Antiquité," vol. i. p. 149.

God is therefore, with Plato, the First Principle of all Principles; the Divine energy or power is the efficient cause, the Divine beauty the formal cause, and the Divine goodness the final cause of all existence.

The eternal unity of the principles of Order, Goodness, and Truth, in an ultimate reality--the ETERNAL MIND, is thus the fundamental principle which pervades the whole of the Platonic philosophy. And now, having attained this sublime elevation, he looks down from thence upon the sensible, the phenomenal world, and upon the temporal life of man; and in the light of this great principle he attempts to explain their meaning and purpose. The results he attained in the former case constitute the Platonic Physics, in the latter, the Platonic Ethics.



Firmly believing in the absolute excellence of the Deity, and regarding the Divine Goodness as the Final Cause of the universe, he pronounces the physical world to be an image of the perfection of God. Anaxagoras, no doubt, prepared the way for this theory. Every one who has read the "Phædo," will remember the remarkable passage in which Socrates gives utterance to the disappointment which he had experienced when expecting from physical science an explanation of the universe. "When I was young," he said--"it is not to be told how eager I was about physical inquiries, and curious to know how the universe came to be as it is; and when I heard that Anaxagoras was teaching that all was arranged by mind, I was delighted with the prospect of hearing such a doctrine unfolded; I thought to myself, if he teaches that mind made every thing to be as it is, he will explain how it is BEST for it to be, and show that so it is." But Anaxagoras, it appears, lost sight of this principle, and descended to the explanation of the universe by material causes. "Great was my hope," says Socrates, "and equally great my disappointment." 645

Footnote 645: (return) "Phædo," §§ 105, 106.

Plato accepted this suggestion of Anaxagoras with all his peculiar earnestness, and devoted himself to its fuller development. It were a vain and profitless theory, which, whilst it assumed the existence of a Supreme Mind, did not represent that mind as operating in the universe by design, and as exhibiting his intelligence, and justice, and goodness, as well as his power, in every thing. If it be granted that there is a Supreme Mind, then, argued Plato, he must be regarded as "the measure of all things," and all things must have been framed according to a plan or "model" which that mind supplied. Intelligence must be regarded as having a purpose, and as working towards an end, for it is this alone which distinguishes reason from unreason, and mind from mere unintelligent force. The only proper model which could be presented to the Supreme 381 Intelligence is "the eternal and unchangeable model" 646 which his own perfection supplies, "for he is the most excellent of causes." 647 Thus God is not simply the maker of the universe, but the model of the universe, because he designed that it should be an IMAGE, in the sphere of sense, of his own perfections--a revelation of his eternal beauty, and wisdom, and goodness, and truth. "God was good, and being good, he desired that the universe should, as far as possible, resemble himself.... Desiring that all things should be good, and, as far as might be, nothing evil, he took the fluctuating mass of things visible, which had been in orderless confusion, and reduced it to order, considering this to be the better state. Now it was and is utterly impossible for the supremely good to form any thing except that which is most excellent (κάλλιστον--most fair, most beautiful"). 648 The object at which the supreme mind aimed being that which is "best," we must, in tracing his operations in the universe, always look for "the best" in every thing. 649 Starting out thus, upon the assumption that the goodness of God is the final cause of the universe, Plato evolved a system of optimism.

The physical system of Plato being thus intended to illustrate a principle of optimism, the following results may be expected:

1. That it will mainly concern itself with final causes. The universe being regarded chiefly, as indeed it is, an indication of the Divine Intelligence--every phenomenon will be contemplated in that light. Nature is the volume in which the Deity reveals his own perfections; it is therefore to be studied solely with this motive, that we may learn from thence the perfection of God. The Timæus is a series of ingenious hypotheses designed to deepen and vivify our sense of the harmony, and symmetry, and beauty of the universe, and, as a consequence, of the wisdom, and excellence, and goodness, of its Author. 650

Footnote 646: (return) "Timæus," ch. ix.
Footnote 647: (return) Ibid.
Footnote 648: (return) Ibid., ch. x.
Footnote 649: (return) Ibid., ch. xix.
Footnote 650: (return) "Being is related to Becoming (the Absolute to the Contingent) as Truth is to Belief; consequently we must not marvel should we find it impossible to arrive at any certain and conclusive results in our speculations upon the creation of the visible universe and its authors; it should be enough for us if the account we have to give be as probable as any other, remembering that we are but men, and therefore bound to acquiesce in merely probable results, without looking for a higher degree of certainty than the subject admits of"--"Timæus," ch. ix.

Whatever physical truths were within the author's reach, took their place in the general array: the vacancies were filled up with the best suppositions admitted by the limited science of the time. 651 And it is worthy of remark that, whilst proceeding by this "high à priori road," he made some startling guesses at the truth, and anticipated some of the discoveries of the modern inductive method, which proceeds simply by the observation, comparison, and generalization of facts. Of these prophetic anticipations we may instance that of the definite proportions of chemistry, 652 the geometrical forms of crystallography, 653 the doctrine of complementary colors, 654 and that grand principle that all the highest laws of nature assume the form of a precise quantitative statement. 655

2. It may be expected that a system of physics raised on optimistic principles will be mathematical rather than experimental. "Intended to embody conceptions of proportion and harmony, it will have recourse to that department of science which deals with the proportions in space and number. Such applications of mathematical truths, not being raised on ascertained facts, can only accidentally represent the real laws of the physical system; they will, however, vivify the student's apprehension of harmony in the same manner as a happy parable, though not founded in real history, will enliven his perceptions of moral truth." 656

Footnote 651: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 157.
Footnote 652: (return) "Timæus," ch. xxxi.
Footnote 653: (return) Ibid., ch. xxvii.
Footnote 654: (return) Ibid., ch. xlii.
Footnote 655: (return) "It is Plato's merit to have discovered that the laws of the physical universe are resolvable into numerical relations, and therefore capable of being represented by mathematical formulæ."--Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 163.
Footnote 656: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 163.

3. Another peculiarity of such a system will be an impatience of every merely mechanical theory of the operations of nature.


"The psychology of Plato led him to recognize mind wherever there was motion, and hence not only to require a Deity as first mover of the universe, but also to conceive the propriety of separate and subordinate agents attached to each of its parts, as principles of motion, no less than intelligent directors. These agents were entitled 'gods' by an easy figure, discernible even in the sacred language, 657 and which served, besides, to accommodate philosophical hypotheses to the popular religion. Plato, however, carefully distinguished between the sole, Eternal Author of the Universe, on the one hand, and that 'soul,' vital and intelligent, which he attaches to the world, as well as the spheral intelligences, on the other. These 'subordinate deities,' though intrusted with a sort of deputed creation, were still only the deputies of the Supreme Framer and Director of all." 658 The "gods" of the Platonic system are "subordinate divinities," "generated gods," brought into existence by the will and wisdom of the Eternal Father and Maker of the universe. 659 Even Jupiter, the governing divinity of the popular mythology, is a descendant from powers which are included in the creation. 660 The offices they fulfill, and the relations they sustain to the Supreme Being, correspond to those of the "angels" of Christian theology. They are the ministers of his providential government of the world. 661

Footnote 657: (return) Psalm lxxxii. I; John x. 34.
Footnote 658: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 164.
Footnote 659: (return) "Timæus," ch. xv.
Footnote 660: (return) Ibid.
Footnote 661: (return) "Laws," bk. x.

The application of this fundamental conception of the Platonic system--the eternal unity of the principles of Order, Goodness, and Truth in an ultimate reality, the Eternal Mind--to the elucidation of the temporal life of man, yields, as a result--


Believing firmly that there are unchangeable, necessary, and absolute principles, which are the perfections of the Eternal Mind, Plato must, of course, have been a believer in an immutable morality. He held that there is a rightness, a justice, an 384 equity, not arbitrarily constituted by the Divine will or legislation, but founded in the nature of God, and therefore eternal. The independence of the principles of morality upon the mere will of the Supreme Governor is proclaimed in all his writings. 662 The Divine will is the fountain of efficiency, the Divine reason, the fountain of law. God is no more the creator of virtue than he is the creator of truth.

And inasmuch as man is a partaker of the Divine essence, and as the ideas which dwell in the human reason are "copies" of those which dwell in the Divine reason, man may rise to the apprehension and recognition of the immutable and eternal principles of righteousness, and "by communion with that which is Divine, and subject to the law of order, may become himself a subject of order, and divine, so far as it is possible for man." 663

Footnote 662: (return) In "Euthyphron" especially.
Footnote 663: (return) "Republic," bk. vi. ch. xiii.

The attainment of this consummation is the grand purpose of the Platonic philosophy. Its ultimate object is "the purification of the soul," and its pervading spirit is the aspiration after perfection. The whole system of Plato has therefore an eminently ethical character. It is a speculative philosophy directed to a practical purpose.

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. Now wisdom (σοφία) is expressly declared by Plato to belong alone to the Supreme Divinity, 664 who alone can contemplate reality in a direct and immediate manner, and in whom, as Plato seems often to intimate, knowledge and being coincide. Philosophy is the aspiration of the soul after this wisdom, this perfect and immutable truth, and in its realization it is a union with the Perfect Wisdom through the medium of a divine affection, the love of which Plato so often speaks. The eternal and unchangeable Essence which is the proper object of philosophy is also endowed with moral attributes. He is not only "the Being," but "the Good" (τὸ ἀγαθόν), and all in the system of the universe which can be the object of rational contemplation, is an emanation from that 385 goodness. The love of truth is therefore the love of God, and the love of Good is the love of truth. Philosophy and morality are thus coincident. Philosophy is the love of Perfect Wisdom; Perfect Wisdom and Perfect Goodness are identical; the Perfect Good is God; philosophy is the "Love of God." 665 Ethically viewed, it is this one motive of love for the Supreme Wisdom and Goodness, predominating over and purifying and assimilating every desire of the soul, and governing every movement of the man, raising man to a participation of and communion with Divinity, and restoring him to "the likeness of God." "This flight," says Plato, "consists in resembling God (όµοίωσιϛ Θεῷ), and this resemblance is the becoming just and holy with wisdom." 666 "This assimilation to God is the enfranchisement of the divine element of the soul. To approach to God as the substance of truth is Science; as the substance of goodness in truth is Wisdom, and as the substance of Beauty in goodness and truth is Love." 667

The two great principles which can be clearly traced as pervading the ethical system of Plato are--

1. That no man is willingly evil. 668

2. That every man is endued with the power of producing changes in his moral character 669

Footnote 664: (return) "Phædrus," § 145.
Footnote 665: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 61.
Footnote 666: (return) "Theætetus," § 84.
Footnote 667: (return) Butler's "Lectures on Ancient Philosophy," vol. ii. p. 277.
Footnote 668: (return) "Timæsus," ch. xlviii.
Footnote 669: (return) "Laws," bk. v. ch. i., bk. ix. ch. vi., bk. x. ch. xii.

The first of these principles is the counterpart ethical expression of his theory of immutable Being. The second is the counterpart of his theory of phenomenal change, or mere Becoming.

The soul of man is framed after the pattern of the immutable ideas of the just, and the true, and the good, which dwell in the Eternal Mind--that is, it is made in the image of God. The soul in its ultimate essence is formed of "the immutable" and "the permanent." The presence of the ideas of the just, and the true, and the good in the reason of man, constitute him a 386 moral nature; and it is impossible that he can cease to be a moral being, for these ideas, having a permanent and immutable being, can not be changed. All the passions and affections of the soul are merely phenomenal. They belong to the mortal, the transitory life of man; they are in endless flow and change, and they have no permanent reality. As phenomena, they must, however, have some ground; and Plato found that ground in the mysterious, instinctive longing for the good and the true which dwells in the very essence of the soul. These are the realities after which it strives, even when pursuing pleasure, and honor, and wealth, and fame. All the restlessness of human life is prompted by a longing for the good. But man does not clearly perceive what the good really is. The rational element of the soul has become clouded by passion and ignorance, and suffered an eclipse of its powers. Still, man longs for the good, and bears witness, by his restlessness and disquietude, that he instinctively desires it, and that he can find no rest and no satisfaction in any thing apart from the knowledge and the participation of the Supreme, the Absolute Good.

This, then, is the meaning of the oft-repeated assertion of Plato "that no man is willingly evil;" viz., that no man deliberately chooses evil as evil. And Plato is, at the same time, careful to guard the doctrine from misconception. He readily grants that acts of wrong are distinguished as voluntary and involuntary, without which there could be neither merit nor demerit, reward nor punishment. 670 But still he insists that no man chooses evil in and by itself. He may choose it voluntarily as a means, but he does not choose it as an end. Every volition, by its essential nature, pursues, at least, an apparent good; because the end of volition is not the immediate act, but the object for the sake of which the act is undertaken. 671

Footnote 670: (return) "Laws," bk. ix. ch. vi.
Footnote 671: (return) "Gorgias," §§ 52, 53.

How is it, then, it may be asked, that men become evil? The answer of Plato is, that the soul has in it a principle of change, in the power of regulating the desires--in indulging them to excess, or moderating them according to the demands 387 of reason. The circumstances in which the soul is placed, as connected with the sensible world by means of the body, present an occasion for the exercise of that power, the end of this temporal connection being to establish a state of moral discipline and probation. The humors and distempers of the body likewise deprave, disorder, and discompose the soul. 672 "Pleasures and pains are unduly magnified; the democracy of the passions prevails; and the ascendency of reason is cast down." Bad forms of civil government corrupt social manners, evil education effects the ruin of the soul. Thus the soul is changed--is fallen from what it was when first it came from the Creator's hand. But the eternal Ideas are not utterly effaced, the image of God is not entirely lost. The soul may yet be restored by remedial measures. It may be purified by knowledge, by truth, by expiations, by sufferings, and by prayers. The utmost, however, that man can hope to do in this life is insufficient to fully restore the image of God, and death must complete the final emancipation of the rational element from the bondage of the flesh. Life is thus a discipline and a preparation for another state of being, and death the final entrance there. 673

Footnote 672: (return) "Gorgias," §§ 74-76.
Footnote 673: (return) "Phædo," §§ 130, 131.

Independent of all other considerations, virtue is, therefore, to be pursued as the true good of the soul. Wisdom, Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, the four cardinal virtues of the Platonic system, are to be cultivated as the means of securing the purification and perfection of the inner man. And the ordinary pleasures, "the lesser goods" of life, are only to be so far pursued as they are subservient to, and compatible with, the higher and holier duty of striving after "the resemblance to God."






Aristotle was born at Stagira, a Greek colony of Thrace, B.C. 384. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician in the Court of Amyntas II., King of Macedonia, and is reported to have written several works on Medicine and Natural History. From his father, Aristotle seems to have inherited a love for the natural sciences, which was fostered by the circumstances which surrounded him in early life, and which exerted a determining influence upon the studies of his riper years.

Impelled by an insatiate desire for knowledge, he, at seventeen years of age, repaired to Athens, the city of Plato and the university of the world. Plato was then absent in Sicily; on his return Aristotle entered his school, became an ardent student of philosophy, and remained until the death of Plato, B.C. 348. He therefore listened to the instructions of Plato for twenty years.

The mental characteristics of the pupil and the teacher were strikingly dissimilar. Plato was poetic, ideal, and in some degree mystical. Aristotle was prosaic, systematic, and practical. Plato was intuitive and synthetical. Aristotle was logical and analytical. It was therefore but natural that, to the mind of Aristotle, there should appear something confused, irregular, and incomplete in the discourses of his master. There was a strange commingling of questions concerning the grounds of morality, and statements concerning the nature of science; of inquiries concerning "real being," and speculations on the ordering of a model Republic, in the same discourse. Ethics, 389 politics, ontology, and theology, are all comprised in his Dialectic, which is, in fact, the one grand "science of the idea of the good." Now to the mind of Aristotle it seemed better, and much more systematic, that these questions should be separated, and referred to particular heads; and, above all, that they should be thoroughly discussed in an exact and settled terminology. To arrange and classify all the objects of knowledge, to discuss them systematically and, as far as possible, exhaustively, was evidently the ambition, perhaps also the special function, of Aristotle. He would survey the entire field of human knowledge; he would study nature as well as humanity, matter as well as mind, language as well as thought; he would define the proper limits of each department of study, and present a regular statement of the facts and principles of each science. And, in fact, he was the first who really separated the different sciences and erected them into distinct systems, each resting upon its own proper principles. He distributed philosophy into three branches:--(i.) Theoretic; (ii.) Efficient; (iii.) Practical. The Theoretic he divided into--1. Physics; 2. Mathematics; 3. Theology, or the Prime Philosophy--the science known in modern times as Metaphysics. The Efficient embraces what we now term the arts,--1. Logic; 2. Rhetoric; 3. Poetics. The Practical comprises--1. Ethics; 2. Politics. On all these subjects he wrote separate treatises. Thus, whilst Plato is the genius of abstraction, Aristotle is eminently the genius of classification.

Such being the mental characteristics of the two men--their type of mind so opposite--we are prepared to expect that, in pursuing his inquiries, Aristotle would develop a different Organon from that of Plato, and that the teachings of Aristotle will give a new direction to philosophic thought.


Plato made use of psychological and logical analysis in order to draw from the depth of consciousness certain fundamental ideas which are inherent in the mind--born with it, and not 390 derived from sense or experience. These ideas he designates "the intelligible species" (τὰ νοουµενα γένη) as opposed to "the visible species"--the objects of sense. Such ideas or principles being found, he uses them as "starting-points" from which he may pass beyond the sensible world and ascend to "the absolute," that is, to God. 674 Having thus, by immediate abstraction, attained to universal and necessary ideas, he descends to the outer world, and attempts by these ideas to construct an intellectual theory of the universe. 675

Aristotle will reverse this process. He will commence with sensation, and proceed, by induction, from the known to the unknown.

The repetition of sensations produces recollection, recollection experience, and experience produces science. 676 "Science and art result unto men by means of experience...." "Art comes into being when, from a number of experiences, one universal opinion is evolved, which will embrace all similar cases. For example, if you know that a certain remedy has cured Callias of a certain disease, and that the same remedy has produced the same effect on Socr