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that the province of philosophy is not to know, but to comprehend; not to give us knowledge, but to enable us to comprehend what we already know; to explain and verify what we have already received as true on the faith of common sense. We all believe that we exist. For this belief we are not indebted to philosophy. Philosophy can neither give it nor take it away. What then is the use of philosophy, in relation to this particular belief? Simply to enable us to comprehend what we do when we believe that we exist; what is involved in the fact that we believe in our existence. All the world, or nearly all the world, believe in God, in Immortality, and Duty, and believe too without the aid of philosophy. The first man who philosophized found the world believing in these, and these were the facts on which he first philosophized. What then in relation to these is the value of philosophy? Not to give us the idea of God, the idea of Immortality, and that of Duty, but to explain these ideas to the understanding, and to determine their worth. Common sense, if that be the term preferred, gives these ideas, places them in the consciousness; philosophy detects, explains, and verifies them.
To detect, explain, and verify our ideas, is no mean service. Under common sense we believe, and believe the truth; but we believe blindly, without knowing why or wherefore without being able to justify our belief to ourselves. We take every thing on trust. But as soon as our intellect is awakened, and we begin to think with some degree of earnestness, we can no longer be satisfied with taking things on trust; we can no longer repose in blind belief; a new want, an imperious want is developed within us, and we ask ourselves, why we have believed? wherefore we have trusted? and what authority we have for believing what we find we have believed? All men may not, we admit, ask themselves these questions, for there are not a few who die children, though they die in old age; but many more ask them than we commonly imagine. There are thousands, who pass along apparently unthinking, with unperturbed looks and careless speech, in whom these questions lie fermenting, or who call upon all nature, upon the seen and the unseen, upon the living and the dead, to answer them. There is more passing beneath those leathern bosoms which men seem to wear, in those secret chambers of thought, into which no stranger enters, than we can easily divine. All who attain to self-consciousness, ask
themselves these questions; and when these questions have once been asked, when they have once been raised, they "will not down at the bidding." Pleasure may distract, business may divert, authority may frighten us awhile from their consideration; but at the first moment of release, at the first moment of calmness and self-collectedness, they return with all their primitive force, and importune us for an answer. Is it a mean service to answer them? Worthless are his labors who helps us to silence their importunate clamor, and to restore peace to the soul? Let him who has been tormented by this everlasting Why, and this ever-recurring Wherefore, which one of the most urgent wants of our nature never ceases, from the first awakening of reason, to ask,- let him answer. But to ask why? wherefore? and to seek for an answer, is to philosophize. Philosophy is nothing more nor less than the answer which we obtain by reflection, to the Why and the Wherefore. Why then speak slightingly of it? Why contemn the philosopher? Wherefore attempt to dissuade from philosophizing? Would we doom our race to perpetual infancy, and forbid the sleep of the cradle ever to be broken? Would we place an interdict upon reflection, and oblige men forever to forego conviction, to know without comprehending, to believe without knowing why or wherefore? If not, we must have and cannot but have philosophy.
To answer the questions of the Why? and the Wherefore? philosophers in their infancy framed hypotheses; and, ignorant as yet of the legitimate province of philosophy and of the true method of philosophizing, they answered merely by guesses. They were unwilling to wait, to inquire. Their wants were too troublesome; their need of dogmatizing was too urgent to allow them to seek an answer by slow and scrupulous analysis. They wanted the patience to untie the knot, to unravel the mysteries of our being; and hence the failures of philosophy, and the reproaches with which she has been visited. But her real friends have profited by experience. They have grown wiser, and prefer research to dogma. They are willing to wait. They have learned that it is in vain to give hypothetical answers; in vain to create answers; and that their only proper method of proceeding is to seek by patient and accurate observation of the facts of consciousness, the answer which God himself has written with his own finger on the tablets of our being. They now know that their business
is not to construct, but to reflect; and so long as they pursue the path of reflection, we are unable to perceive why the gravest common sense man should wish to impede their march. They do but bear the torch of reflection over the dark field of consciousness, and labor to enable us to see and comprehend the mysteries of our spiritual nature. They do only that which every one does to a greater or less extent who turns his mind in upon itself, communes with his own heart, and seeks to solve the problem of his being and destiny. Who is there that is willing to admit that he never does this, or at least that he never attempts to do this? No one, we will take it upon us to answer; that is, no one who has ever become conscious that he is an intellectual being. Let philosophy and philosophers then be acquitted; let philosophy no longer be confounded with mere speculation; and, above all, let the philosopher no longer be counted the synonyme of the mere builder of castles in the air.
Similar objections to some of those we have been considering, we have occasionally heard alleged against French Eclecticism. We do not take notice of this fact because we would give in our adherence to that philosophy. To us all truth is sacred and desirable, and we are ready to own and obey it, let it come from what quarter and under what name it may; but we choose to see it for ourselves, and to accept and obey it because we ourselves are convinced by our own examination that it is the truth, not because it is the dogma, or the theory of a school. We do not hold ourselves responsible for the doctrines of the French Eclectics, nor do we propose them for the adoption of our countrymen. But we do place a high value on the labors of the French Eclectics, and we believe an acquaintance with their philosophical researches a very important acquisition in the work of elaborating a better philosophy than any which has hitherto obtained among us. We would, therefore, see their works studied, and studied without prejudice, for what they are, and not for what they are not. And this is our apology,—if an apology be needed,- for taxing the time and attention of our readers with some remarks, designed to place French Eclecticism in its true light.
Many among us confound French Eclecticism with German Transcendentalism; and German Transcendentalism they suppose to be the very "fifth essence" of extravagance and absurdity. They who thus confound the two philosophies seem VOL. XXII. 3D S. VOL. IV. NO. II.
to take it for granted that German Transcendentalism namesa particular school, designates a special metaphysical doctrine. But this is a mistake. German Transcendentalism is a phrase of uncertain import. It may include systems which have hardly any thing in common. As used by the Germans themselves it is nearly synonymous with the term metaphysics, and metaphysics, among the Germans, vary with almost every individual devoted to their pursuit. German philosophy has, in point of fact, no unity which authorizes us to predicate any thing of it, as a whole, unless it be its freedom and independence, and the fact that the reason, instead of the sensibility, is in all cases its point of departure. It is not just to condemn the whole because a part may be unsound; one man's views, because another's, which are different, are judged to be erroneous. For their freedom, for their bold and uniform assertion and maintenance of the independence of the reason, we respect the whole body of German metaphysicians, whatever the systems they may have severally arrived at, or supported; in this particular they cannot be praised too warmly; but we are not aware that any of them, nor that all of them, have as yet given us a true philosophy of man. They have contributed valuable materials for the construction of that philosophy; but that philosophy, or what we deem such, we have not found in any of their systems which have fallen under our notice. Kant, the ablest and soberest of them all, has unquestionably done much. He has explored the human understanding, and determined the conditions of all experience, or what must be the nature of the understanding to render experience possible. In doing this, he has created a new era in the history of metaphysical science; but he has not given us a philosophy; he has merely fixed the starting point, and opened the route for future philosophers. Fichte was a bold speculator, an ardent friend of freedom and Humanity. For this last we honor him, and cherish his memory; but we have yet to learn the important service he has rendered to philosophy. Had he lived, he might have done something worth remembering, as he had before his death hit upon the path, which, if followed, conducts to true philosophy; but cut off as he was in the prime of his life, philosophy has gained little by his talents, genius, and labors. Jacobi had some dim visions, some vague presentiments of a superior philosophy, but he wanted the intellectual vigor to obtain results
truly scientific. He did something, however, to open the way for Fries, from whom philosophy is receiving valuable contributions. Fries adopts the true psychological method of philosophizing, and upholds the experimental against the hypothetical or constructive philosophy. Schelling, whose reputation as a philosopher will diminish with time, attempted a philosophy of Man, and of Nature; but both he and Hegel, who in respect to method agrees with him, have vitiated their labors by adopting the hypothetical or constructive instead of the psychological or experimental method of philosophizing; and notwithstanding they have, as we believe, divined the truth to a great extent, in consequence of the original sin of their method, they have been unable to give it any scientific value. It is their vicious method which constitutes the real objection which may be urged against those German metaphysicians, who are, we suppose, generally understood by the Transcendentalists, and it is the only objection which we deem it necessary to bring against them. They build on hypothesis, and construct a theory with which to explain facts, instead of observing facts as the only basis of all just theory. A theory, which is anything else than the true statement of what there is of the general in facts, as distinguished from the particular, has no value in our eyes. The facts should elicit the theory, and not the theory the facts. Some of the Germans reverse this maxim, and if they who do it are the ones, as we presume they are, intended by the Transcendentalists, we most certainly have no disposition to appear in their defence. But these are not the only ones who bear the name of Transcendentalist, for the term, instead of being restricted to these, is used in a much broader sense, so as to include those who adopt the psychological as well as those who adopt the hypothetical or constructive method, the philosophizers as well as the systematizers. Whenever, then, we speak of German Transcendentalists, we should be careful to discriminate, and let it be known of whom we intend to speak;. and whenever we judge it to be our duty to condemn Transcendentalism, we should state distinctly whether we mean to condemn metaphysics in general, or only some special system of metaphysics; and, if this last be the case, as is most likely, what special system we mean.
It is desirable also, that this same discrimination should be made, when speaking of Transcendentalism as it is beginning to be manifested among ourselves, and some injustice has