« PreviousContinue »
Kant's own religious belief rested upon his moral consciousness, and his theological position was evidently not far removed from that of many Unitarians, though his faith, from its too exclusively ethical character, appears to have missed in some measure that spiritual element of personal communion with the in-dwelling Father, which enriches the religious utterances of Channing and Martineau. That he took no part in public worship is no doubt to be explained from the circumstance that he could find in Königsberg no congregation with whose forms and ideas he was in sympathy.
“Of the Church," writes Dr. Wallace," he had a noble idea; but he did not find it realised in the Churches of his day. Sacerdotalism, even in its mildest forms, was as abhorrent to him, on the one hand, as a superstitious and sensuous supernaturalism was on the other. To the free soul of Kant the sectarianism which had an eye for nothing higher than professional interests in its performance of the sacred duties of keeping body and spirit sound, could only be abhorrent in the extreme.”
Dr. Wallace’s exposition of Kant's philosophy is as clear and complete as the too limited space allows. • Kant's Speculative Physics and Biology,' is the subject of a very interesting chapter, and the relation of his views to recent doctrines concerning Force and Evolution is very ably presented. The philosophical environment of Kant is also weil described, and the chapter in which Kant's great Kritik is expounded is quite a model of perspicuous exposition. We were struck particularly with the account of the Schematism of the Categories, for this difficult portion of the Kritik becomes, we think, decidedly more intelligible in Dr. Wal e's presentation of it than it is in the original.
We could have wished for a more complete sketch of the contents of the Criticism of the Practical Reason, and Kant's doctrine on the Freedom of the Will certainly calls for fuller treatment than the passing notice which Dr. Wallace accords to it; but, taken all in all, this little book seems to us to be by far the simplest and clearest English introduction to the Kantian philosophy, and the reading of it will probably awaken a desire to pursue the subject further in the more detailed expositions of Adamson, Stirling, and Edward Caird.
Mr. Andrew Seth's Essay on The Development from Kant to Hegel' is the work of a scholar who is not only well read in recent German philosophy, but is also gifted with no small amount of talent for metaphysical investigation. This essay and the companion essay by Dr. Schurman, which we shall presently notice, were written while their authors were Hibbert Travelling Scholars, and each treatise seems to us to be a really valuable contribution to philosophical and theological literature. The present influence of Hegel's writings on British and American thinking is not, perhaps, over-estimated by Professor William James, when he says, in the April number of Mind :
* The Development from Kant to Hegel, with Chapters on the Philosophy of Religion. By ANDREW SETH, M.A., Assistant to the Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh, and late Hibbert Travelling Scholar. Published by the Hibbert Trustees. Williams and Norgate. 1882.
Hegelism, so entirely defunct on its native soil that I believe but a single young disciple of the school is to be counted among the privat-docents and younger professors of Germany, and whose older champions are all passing off the stage, has found among us so zealous and able a set of propagandists that to-day it may really be reckoned one of the most potent influences of the time in the higher walks of thought. Not only in heavier books by pro fessors, but in magazine literature, anonymous book-reviews, and the like, we cross the trail of its path.
It may be added that most recent expositions and critical treatises on Kant's philosophy which have appeared in this country have been written by Hegelians, and the late Professor Green's profound Introduction to David Hume's philosophical writings can hardly be understood without some acquaintance with Hegelian ideas. There is needed, then, for English readers, a clear and reliable sketch of the development of philosophical thought from Kant to Hegel, and this desideratrım Mr. Seth's treatise opportunely supplies. He appears to be himself a pronounced disciple of Hegel ; but he does full justice to the views of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, and his account of the organic connection between these four philosophies displays much philosophical insight, and seems to be in the main correct.
The second half of this essay, in which the Philosophy of Religion is discussed, is also a very serviceable piece of work, which will help to supply the chief omission in Dr. Wallace's book. Mr. Seth first treats of the ethical foundation of Kant's religious philosophy, and then gives a very good analysis of Kant's above-mentioned treatise. Passing over the special views of Fichte and Schelling as being of secondary importance, he proceeds to expound the main features of Hegel's religious philosophy, and to indicate its characteristic differences from the Kantian view.
The relation, he says, of Hegel to Kant in his theory of religion is, indeed, an exact parallel to the relation between them, in respect of the doctrine of knowledge. In both cases the sameness is more striking than the difference. Kantianism seems everywhere on the point of casting off the presuppositions which bind it to the old metaphysic. In evidence of this it is only necessary to specify in the present case, Kant's whole attitude to positive religion, his treatment of the Fall, and even, to some extent, of the idea of Reconciliation. But the new metaphysic, developed by Hegel out of Kantianism, does away with the abstract distinction between God and man, which still remains at the Kantian standpoint. God is recognised, Hegel says, “not as a Spirit beyond the stars, but as Spirit in all spirits ;” and so the course of human history is frankly identified with the course of divine self-rerelation. The culmination of this religious development is reached in Christianity; and Christianity reveals nothing more than that God is essentially this revelation of Himself. In this connection it is that a new significance is given to the doctrine of the Trinity, which thereby becomes fundamental for the Hegelian Philosophy of Religion. This attitude towards the course of history, and towards Christianity in particular, is the only one which is permissible to an Absolute philosophy. However fenced about with er. planations, the thesis of such a philosophy must always be—" The actual is the rational."
In estimating Kant's doctrine of Moral Freedom Mr. Seth follows the Hegelians. Admitting that Kant's attempt to reconcile Liberty and Necessity is a failure, and that it must be conceded that man is either phænomenally free or not free at all, he accepts the latter term of the alternative, and holds that though man is self-detormined, there is only one line of self-determination possible, and consequently man could not have acted otherwise than he has done. Yet Mr. Seth seems to feel that this view is not altogether satisfactory; for he allows that it appears “to leave no room for that possible alienation from God which is the subjective root of religion, and he adds that “where there is no estrangement, reconciliation, in the ordinary sense of the term, can have no function.”
The chief strength of Dr. Schurman's able treatise * lies, we think, in the direction in which we find the main weakness of Mr. Seth's criticism. Dr. Schurman gives an excellent exposition and criticism of Kant's ethical theory, particularly in reference to the doctrine of Moral Freedom. He shows that the Kantian doctrine that man is phænomenally determined, but metaphysicaily free, is inconsistent and untenable, and that it was bound to lead to that doctrine of thorough-going Determinism which appears in the later German philosophits. The Kantian view can only be made consistent with itself by accepting the hypothesis put forth by Schelling that the moral choice which determines the character of a man's life does not fall in time, but in eternity. What man now is in time he is in virtue of his own act out of time. In the original creation (teaches Schelling), when the eternal yearning gave birth at once to God and nature, man, who now appears determined, was an undetermined being, and by an act of his own he took to himself the definite character with which we now find him here. What he was to be he alone could, and did, decide, and though all memory of this act be vanished, a consciousness of it yet remains in man's self-accusation and remorse. Dr. Schurman remarks that on this theory " freedom must be held as a mere idea of the reason which, however valuable for the speculative thinker, has no worth or validity for the moral agent, and can have no bearing on our life and conduct, which follow necessarily the laws of the natural world !"
As this view, which thus banishes freedom to a timeless creation, and delivers this life wholly over to necessity, affords no satisfaction to the moral consciousness, and yet is the only view that a Kantian can consistently hold, Dr. Schurman rejects the doctrine of Kant on this subject, and, accepting the opposite alternative to that taken by Mr. Seth, main. tains that man's personality is really free, that is, exercises original causation in its acts of moral choice. His reply to Kant is quite in the
* Kantian Ethics and the Ethics of Evolution. A critical study by J. GOULD SCHCRMAN, H. A.Lond., D.Sc.Edinb., Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in Acadia College, Nova Scotia, and late Hibbert Travelling Scholar. Published by the Hibbert Trustees. Williams and Norgate. 1881.
spirit of Kant's own teaching; for whereas Kant declares that the mind imposes the category of necessary causation or phænomena, Dr. Sehur. man very pertinently asks on whai rational ground Kant can apply to the acts of the mind that category of necessity which owes its very existence to the mind's own act.
This criticism of the Kantian Ethics is followed by a constructire section in which Dr. Schurman sets forth his own ethical doctrine.
While he agrees with Kant that "the perfecting of the will through the reason is the final cause of our existence," he regards Kant's Categorical Imperative as merely formal, empty, and subjective. - Accord. ing to Kant (he says) the individual is supposed to be the source and standard of all moral good, and no account is taken of morality already existent in the world. But this wholly ignores the development of the individual consciousness, which is made up for the most part of the moral and intellectual substance it has assimilated from its environment. Unus homo, nullus homo." So far as we can understand Dr. Schur. man's theory (which he regards as in the main at one with the ethical teaching of Aristotle) he appears to hold that the inner activity of reasoa in the soul responding to the objective conscience already embodied in social institutions, fashions in the mind an ideal of the true end of humanity, and to this advancing moral standard man feels that he ought to conform his life.
Believing that every true system of Ethics is driven to a teleological conception of the universe, Dr. Schurman proceeds, in the concluding section of the Essay, to criticise, under the title 'Evolutionistie Hedonism,' Mr. Herbert Spencer's . Data of Ethics,' which rests on the mechanical conception of the universe. At the outset he protests against “the illogical method of importing into the sphere of morality an hypothesis of causation taken from physical phænomena.” He then attacks in succession all the main positions laid down in the • Data of Ethics,' and we are acquainted with no criticism of that work in which the attack is conducted with greater fairness or with greater success. As one of the most forcible of his strictures on Mr. Spencer's ethical doctrine we may mention his examination of Mr. Spencer's attempt to find a passage in his theory from prudential self-restraint to moral selfrestraint, where Dr. Schurman shows quite conclusively, we think, that no such transition is possible from the restraint of the savage to the restraint of the evolutionist except on assumptions quite foreign to Mr. Spencer's theory.
We cannot in this short notice do justice to this thoughtful essay; but we would recommend it to the earnest attention of those who fancy that old-fashioned ethical ideas have been entirely overthrown by recent science.
C. B. V.
THE substance of the work under notice was originally contributed
in a series of articles to the Revue des deux Mondes in 1834. These articles were afterwards republished in a German dress by Hoffmann and Campe, of Hamburg, in 1835, but in so mutilated a form, owing to the action of the Censor of the Press, that a second German edition was necessitated. This second German edition was, however, never revised by the author; while the French work was probably, judging from the practice of Heine in other cases, not the sole and unassisted work of Heine himself. The problem, therefore, presented itself to the translator, which edition should form the basis of the English version. He has practically solved the problem as follows. He has used the French version, finally revised by the author, as decisive in cases of discrepance in regard to the question, what was the definitive form in which he desired the work to appear, but the actual translation in all other cases has been made rather from the German than from the French, Whatever opinion may be held as to the justice and wisdom of this course, the result is one of the raciest and most amusing volumes that have for a ong time appeared on the most serious of all questions that could engage the human mind.
Another circumstance lends interest to the book. Between 1835 and 1852 Heine had recanted his atheism (if that be the term which properly describes his negative attitude towards the popular Deism of his day), and announces himself a Deist. But all the same και γέγραφα γέγραφα is still his motto, and beyond a warning word in the preface, nothing in the second German edition of his work appears to intimate his recantation. Perhaps he was dimly conscious that his strength lay after all rather in his criticisms than in his affirmations; that Heinrich Heine was Heinrich Heine, and that his personality was of far more value than his particular opinions. And this is probably the truth. Heine's judg. ment may be often ut fauit; his wit is never so. The good things which cram this volume would admit of being diluted to the advantage of many hundred ordinary books. Let the following extracts suffice as examples :
By France I mean Paris, and not the provinces; for what the provinces think is of as little consequence as what one's legs think. It is the head that is the seat of our thoughts. I have been told that the French of the provinces are good Catholics. I can neither affirm nor deny it. The men of the provinces with whom I have conversed have impressed me like milestones bearing inscribed on their foreheads the distance, more or less great, from the capital.
In Paris itself Catholicism ceased, in fact, to exist at the Revolution, and long previous to that event it had lost all real importance. It still lay in wait in the recesses of the Churches, crouching like a spider in its web, ready to spring precipitately from its retreat, whenever it had a chance of seizing a child in its cradle or an old man in his
* Religion and Philosophy in Germany: A Frigment. By HEINRICH HEINE. Translated by John Snodgrass. Trübner and Co. 1882.