Imágenes de páginas

ness is simply this recognition of self as subject. This dis tinction is important; for, if we include under the fact of consciousness the thing thought as well as the subject thinking, we can include it only in correlation with ourselves, simply as the objective terminus of thought, and have still the question to settle whether it be placed by the subject, or whether it exist as thing independent of subject. It is this confusion of the object with the fact of consciousness that has led Sir William Hamilton to deny that the unconditioned can be thought, and Professor Ferrier to represent the scibile, or the knowable, as the synthesis of subject and object, which supposes nothing to exist save as known, and thus confounds existence and knowledge, thought and being, conceptions and things.

The correction of this fatal error lies in taking our principles, not from the object as perceptum, but as res,-not as object perceived, but as thing existing a parte rei, and which is object because it is thing, and not thing because it is object. Etymologically, to think is to thing, for the two words are from the same Anglo-Saxon root; but this does not mean that the thought gives to the object its reality, but a thing or reality to itself; that is, presents a thing or reality to the apprehension of the subject, in the sense in which the word realize is sometimes used even by Sir William Hamilton, as when he says, realize in thought, that is, bring distinctly before the mind the thing or reality with which the thought is conversant. Strictly speaking, to think is to judge, that is, to judge or affirm the perceptum is res or thing. It declares the fact, but does not create it. Let this be borne in mind, that to think things conditions the object as object thought, but not as thing existing in the order of reality. This done,

we must take our principium, not from the object as object, but as thing or reality. It is the reality we must contemplate, not the reality as object, or conditioned by our act of thinking, which is not the thing itself, but our conception. In this way our principium will be the principium of things, which must be the principium of all real science, of all science that is not subjective and illusory.

Now our solution of the problem we have been considering has already been foreshadowed. The judgment of causality is a primitive judgment or first principle, and is embraced in the principium of all human science as in the

principium of things. All philosophers, not excepting even Hume, if he understood himself, do really admit a nonempirical element in all our cognitions, ideal and apodictic. This element Reid calls the principles of common sense; Kant calls it a form or category of the reason or understanding; Cousin, a revelation, inspiration, sometimes the constituent element, of the spontaneous reason; Rosmini, the idea of being or existence in general, which precedes and accompanies all our empirical judgments; Sir William Hamilton seems to call it a primitive and necessary belief, arising from the impotence of our reason to conceive the unconditioned; but however they call it, they all in some form or other assert it, or at least concede it. All agree, with the exception of the so-called Thomists, that it is indemonstrable, for it is the principle or basis of all demonstration. Now we think philosophers here lose themselves in a fog, and make a great mystery of what is in reality very plain and simple. This ideal element is the principium of things, and simply affirms itself to us intuitively. Say with Rosmini that the idea of being precedes and accompanies every one of our judgments, only that it is the idea or apprehension of real and necessary being, you have then the intuitive judgment, Real and necessary being is. Add the judgment of causality, that is, Real and necessary being is cause or creator, that is, as Gioberti expresses it, Real and necessary being creates existences, and you have an ideal formula or judgment which at once is the principium of things and of science. Say now that this ideal formula or judgment affirms itself in immediate intuition, and you have our solution of the problem. and necessary Being, Ens simpliciter, is God, though we do not always advert to the fact, as St. Augustine says, and thus we have the judgment of causality, because God reveals or affirms himself to our noetic faculty, and affirms himself as creating existences or the universe, and we assist, if we may use a Gallicism, at the spectacle of creation. The origin of the judgment is in intuition of the creative act of God, and is therefore, though indemonstrable, except ex consequentiis, objectively evident, and therefore knowledge, not merely belief, as Sir William Hamilton pretends. To clear up all this and establish it satisfactorily would require a volume; but it is not necessary to attempt it here, since it has already been done in the


metaphysical articles inserted in our Review during the last five years. It is enough for the present to say that this judgment, formed by intuition of the reality, enters as an integral element into every one of our empirical judg ments, and forms the necessary, apodictic, and infallible element of those judgments, from which there is and need be no appeal. Our judgment of causality in the order of second causes copies or imitates our judgment in the order of the first cause, and, like that judgment, has one term necessary, the other contingent. When we see an event happen, we judge at once that it has a cause; for we know, as it happens, that it is in the order of contingents, and that contingents cannot come into existence uncaused, since they are not God, and nothing not God can exist but by his causative or creative act. So far, then, as the judg ment affirms that the event has had a cause, it repeats the primitive judgment, and is infallible; but so far as it assigns this or that particular cause for this or that parti cular event, it depends on experience, and may or may not be just. Here the judgment is not apodictic, and has only probability, or what is called moral certainty.

Our solution, it will be seen, differs in only one respect from that of the so-called Thomist school, a school which has not wholly broken with the past, and which retains many traditions of the ancients, the greater Fathers, and more distinguished scholastics. This difference is, that we begin intellectual life with the intuition of the principle of things, and it begins it with a sensible fact, and ascends, by way of demonstration, to that principle. But the principle once obtained, we proceed alike, and come to the same conclusions. In this we think the members of this school mistake the real sense of St. Thomas, and suffer themselves unconsciously to be affected by the conceptualism of Des Cartes. The state of the question has been changed since the time of Thomas, and involves now, as it did not then, a discussion of the principles of demonstration itself. Certainly St. Thomas teaches that God can be known, though not per se; but this does not necessarily imply that we cannot have intuition of real and necessary being, which is God, or of real and necessary being creating existences, which is at once the principle of things and the principle of science. No doubt this judgment, though intuitive, becomes clear and distinct to reflective

intellect only by a process of reasoning. What St. Thomas really does, is to clear up and render this judgment distinct by what he calls demonstration. The question as to the origin of the judgment of causality, the real basis of all demonstration, was not debated in his time. He finds the mind in possession of it, and uses it without further question. But if he had been asked its origin, it is not to be believed that he would have said we obtain it from demonstration. Then again, though he appears to start from the sensible element, his real process is not to infer the ideal or noetic element from it, but to disengage it, and to show that it is the Divine judgment. To this process well understood there is nothing to object, and it is the very process we are ourselves obliged to follow in order to show that our principium is really the principle of things, that is to say, is really God by his act creating the universe. The Thomist seems to us to confound the method it is necessary to follow in teaching with the method the mind follows in its own intellectual life. Whoever teaches philosophy must follow his method, but it will not do to confound it with the method of that which the teacher has to explain and systematize.

ART. III.-The Know-Nothing Platform.

THE article in our last Review, on 4 Know-Nothing Legislature, was written and in type before the meeting of the delegates of the Know-Nothing party in their National Council in Philadelphia, and consequently before we were aware of the apparent split in the secret order on the question of slavery. Had we foreseen that the order would agree to play the game of being pro-slavery at the South and anti-slavery at the North, we should have expressed ourselves less decidedly as to its failure as a political party in the country. We look upon the protest and apparent separation of the Northern Know-Nothings as a mere ruse, designed solely to secure sectional votes. We do not believe that there is any real division in the order, or that there has been any real modification of its principles, and



perhaps it has never been more formidable than at the present moment.

Massachusetts had rendered herself so odious to the South by her Know-Nothing legislation, especially on the slavery question, that it was idle for the party to go into the canvass in any Southern or Southwestern State without having ostensibly disowned all fellowship with her. The Council felt it necessary, to enable the party to assume a national character in some States and a sectional character in others. Hence we regard the protest and withdrawal of the Northern members as mutually concerted, and done to enable the order to have some chance of securing the votes of the Southern and National Whigs. But there is, in our opinion, no real breach between the two sections of the organization. The Northern Anti-Nebraska Know-Nothings and the Southern and Western Nebraska Know-Nothings stand, we have no doubt, equally well in the order; and if the order puts up a national ticket, both will be found voting in loving harmony for the same candidates, whether those candidates are Nebraska or Anti-Nebraska. We therefore believe our Massachusetts Know-Nothings are in as good standing in the order as any others. Of course, this is only an opinion; but we think the public will by no means find it an idle opinion.

The Know-Nothing party originated we know not when, where, or by whom, but we make little doubt that its organization has been favored and supported principally by that section of the Whig party, who, after their terrible defeat in the election of General Pierce, despaired of ever attaining again to power under their own and organization. The Democratic party was so strong at the moment of the election, that its division or the disaffection of a large portion of its members, when the distribution of offices came, might be reasonably expected. The master-stroke of policy, then, would be to seize upon an organization that would secure the support of the main body of the defeated Whigs and Free-Soilers, and attract the co-operation of disaffected Democrats. Out of these three elements it would not be unreasonable to hope for the forming of a party strong enough to elect the next President. Such was the calculation. Fortune seemed to favor the conspirators. The disaffection in the Democratic

« AnteriorContinuar »