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From the time of Wolfius till the philosophy of Kant began to attract general notice, I know of no German metaphysician whose speculations seem to have acquired much celebrity, in the learned world.* Lambert + is perhaps the most illustrious name which occurs during this interval. As a mathematician and natural philosopher, his great merits are universally known and acknowledged, but the language in which his metaphysical and logical works were written, has confined their reputation within a comparatively narrow circle. I am sorry that I cannot speak of these from my own knowledge; but I bave heard them mentioned in terms of the highest praise, by some very competent judges, to whose testimony I am disposed to give the greater credit, from the singular vein of originality which runs through all his mathematical and physical publications. I
est devenue un heureux besoin, la forme sous laquelle elle se présente a rebuté bien des lecteurs. Quoiqu'aient pu faire les interprètes, il a toujours percé quelque chose de l'appareil incommode qui l'entoure à son origine. Condillac tourne plus d'une fois en ridicule ces formes et ce jargon scientifique, et s'applique à montrer qu'ils ne sont pas plus propres à satisfaire la raison que le goût. Il est au moins certain, que le lecteur Français les repousse par instinct, et qu'il y trouve un obstacle très difficile à surmonter. (Reflexions sur les Euvres Posthumnes d'Adam Smith, par M. Prévost de Genève, à Paris, 1794.)
• Madame de Staël mentions Lessing, Hemsterhuis, and Jacobi, as precursors of Kant in his philosophical career. She adds, however, that they had no school, since none of them attempted to found any system ; but they began the war against the doctrines of the Materialists. (Allemagne, Tome III. p. 98.) I am not acquainted with the metaphysical works of any of the three. Those of Hemsterhuis, who wrote wholly in French, were, I understand, first published in a collected form at Paris, in 1792. He was the son of the celebrated Greek scholar and critic, Tiberius Hemsterhusius, Professor of Latin Literature at Leyden.
| Born at Mulhausen in Alsace in 1728. Died at Berlin in 1777.
# The following particulars with respect to Lambert's literary history, are extracted from a Memoir annexed by M. Prévost to his translation of Mr. Smith's Posthumous Works : “Cet ingénieux et puissant Lambert, dont les mathématiques, qui lui doivent beaucoup, ne purent épuiser les forces, et qui ne toucha aucun sujet de physique ou de philosophie rationnelle, sans le couvrir de lumière. Ses lettres cosmolo. giques, qu'il écrivit par forme de délassement, sont pleines d'idées sublimes, entées sur la philosophie la plus saine et la plus savante tout-à-la fois. Il avoit aussi dressé sous la titre d'Architectonique un tableau des principes sur lesquels se fondent les connoissances humaines. Cet ouvrage, au jugement des hommes les plus versés dans l'étude de leur langue, n'est pas exempt d'obscurité. Elle peut tenir en partie à la nature du sujet. Il est à regretter que sa logique, intitulé Organon, ne soit traduite ni en Latin, ni en Français, ni je pense en aucune langue. Un extrait bien fait de cet ouvrage, duquel on écarteroit ce qui répugne au goût national, exciteroit l'attention des philosophes, et la porteroit sur une multitude d'objets qu'ils se sont accoutuinés à regarder avec indifference.” (Prévost, Tome II. pp. 267, 269.)
In the article Lambert, inserted in the twenty-third volume of the Biographie Universelle (Paris, 1819), the following account is given of Lambert's logic: “Wolf, d'après quelques indications de Leibnitz, avoit retiré de l'oubli la syllogistique d'Aristote, science que les scholastiques avoient tellement avilie que ni Bacon ni Locke n'avoient osé lui accorder un regard d'intérêt. Il étoit réservé à Lambert de la montrer sous le plus beau jour et dans la plus riche parure. C'est ce qu'il a fait dans son Novum Organon, ouvrage qui est un des principaux titres de gloire de son auteur. From the writer of this article (M. Servois) we farther learn, that the Novum Organon of Lambert was translated into Latin from the German original by a person of the name of Pfleiderer, and that this translation was in the hands of an English nobleman (the late Earl of Stanhope) as lately as 1782. I quote the words of M. Servois, in the hope that they may attract some attention to the manuscript, if it be still in existence. The publication of it would certainly be a most acceptable present to the learned world. “D'après le conseil de Le Sage de Genève, l'ouvrage fut traduit en Latin par Pfleiderer, aux frais d'un savant lialien ; cette traduction passa, on ne sait comment, entre les mains de Milord Mahon qui la possédoit encore en 1782; on ignore quel est son sort ultérieur.”
Pure Reason (the most celebrated of works) appeared in 1781.*
The che title by the author, is thus explained
Criticam rationis puræ non dico censuram w et Systematum, sed facultatis rationalis in uni..sum, respectu cognitionum omnium, ad quas, ab omni experientiâ libera, possit anniti, proinde dijudicationem possibilitatis aut impossibilitatis metaphysices in genere, constitutionemque tum fontium, tum ambitûs atque compagis, tum vero terminorum illius, sed cuncta hæc ex principiis.” (Kantii
, Opera ad Philosophiam Criticam, Vol. I. Præfatio Auctoris Prior, pp. xi, xii.) To render this somewhat more intelligible, I shall subjoin the comment of one of his intimate friends,t whose work, we are informed by Dr. Willich, had received the sanction of Kant himself. “ The aim of Kant's Critique is no less than to lead Reason to the true knowledge of itself; to examine the titles upon which it founds the supposed possession of its metaphysical knowledge ; and by means of this examination to mark the true limits, beyond which it cannot venture to speculate, without wandering into the empty region of pure fancy.” The same author adds, “ The whole Critique of Pure Reason is established upon this principle, that there is a free reason, independent of all experience and sensation.
When the Critique of Pure Reason first came out, it does not seem to have attracted much notice,f but such
• Kant was born at Königsberg, in Prussia, in 1724. He died in 1804.
| Mr. John Schulze, an eminent divine at Königsberg, author of the Synopsis of the Critical Philosophy, translated by Dr. Willich, and inserted in his Elementary View of Kant's Works. (See pp. 42, 43.)
† “ Il se passa quelque tems après la première publication de la Critique de la Pure Raison, sans qu'on fit beaucoup d'attention à ce livre, et sans que la plupart de philosophes, passionés pour l'eclectisme, soupçonassent seulement la grande révolution que cet ouvrage et les productions suivantes de son auteur devoient opérer dans la science.” (Buhle, Hist. de la Phil. Mod. Tom. VI. p. 573. Paris, 1816.)
As early, however, as the year 1783, the philosophy of Kant appears to have been
has been its subsequent success, that it may be regarded (according to Madame de Staël) * " as having given the impulse to all that has been since done in Germany, both in literature and in philosophy.” (Allemagne, Vol. III. pp. 68, 69.)
“ At the epoch when this work was published,” con
adopted in some of the German schools. The ingenious M. Trembley, in a memoir then read before the Academy of Berlin, thus speaks of it: "La Philosophie de Kant, qui, à la honte de l'esprit humain, paroit avoir acquis tant de faveur dans certaines écoles. (Essai sur les Préjugés. Reprinted at Neufchatel in 1790.)
We are farther told by Buhle, that the attention of the public to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason was first attracted by an excellent analysis of the work, which appeare ed in the General Gazette of Literature, and hy the Letters on Kant's Philosophy, which Reinhold inserted in the German Mercury. (Buhle, Tom. VI. p. 573.) Of this last philosopher, who appears, in the first instance, to have entered with enthusiasm into Kant's views, and who afterwards contributed much to open the eyes of his countrymen to the radical defects of his system, I shall have occasion to speak hereaffer. Dégérando, as well as Buhle, bestows high praise not only on his clearness, but on his eloquence, as a writer in his own language. Il a traduit les oracles Kanciens dans une langue élégante, harmonieuse, et pure. Il a su exprimer avec une langage éloquent, des idées jusqu'alors inintelligibles,” &c. (Histoire Comparée, &c. Tom. II. p. 271.) That this praise is not undeserved I am very ready to believe, having lately had an opportunity (through the kindness of my learned and revered friend, Dr. Parr) of reading, in the Latin version of Fredericus Gottlob Born, Reinhold's principal work, entitled Periculum Nove Theorie Facultatis Representativæ Humane. In point of perspicuity, he appears to me to be greatly superior to Kant; and of this I conceive myself to be not altogether incompetent to judge, as the Latin versions of both authors are by the sanie hand.
• The following quotation, froin the advertisement prefixed to Madame de Staël's posthumous work ( Considérations sur la Rérolution Française), will at once account to my readers for the confidence with which I appeal to her historical statements on the subject of German philosophy. Her own knowledge of the language was probably not so critically exact, as to enable her to enter into the more refined details of the different systems which she has described; but her extraordinary penetration, joined to the opportunities she enjoyed of conversing with all that was then most illustrious in Germany, qualified her in an eminent degree to seize and to delineate their great outlines. And if, in executing this task, any considerable mistakes could have been supposed to escape her, we may be fully assured, that the very accomplished person, to whose revision we learn that her literary labors at this period of her lite were submited, would prevent them from ever meeting the public eye. I except, of course, those mistakes into which she was betrayed by her admiration of the German school. Of some of the most important of these, I shall take notice as I proceed; a task which I feel incumbent on me, as it is through the medium of her book that the great majority of English readers have acquired all their knowledge of the new German philosophy, and as her name and talents have given it a temporary consequence in this country which it could not otherwise have acquired.
“Le travail des éditeurs s'est borné uniquement à la révision des épreuves, et à la correction de ces légères inexactitudes de style, qui échappent à la vue dans le manuscrit le plus soigné. Ce travail c'est fait sous les yeux de M. A. W. de Schlegel, dont le rare supériorité d'esprit et de savoir justifie la confiance avec laquelle Madame de Staël le consultoit dans tous ses travaux littéraires, autant que son honorable caractère mérite l'estime et l'amitié qu'elle n'a pas cessé d'avoir pour lui pendant une liaison de treize années."
If any farther apology be necessary for quoting a French lady as an authority on German metaphysics, an obvious one is suggested by the extraordinary and wellmerited popularity of her Allemagne in this country. I do not know, if, in any part of her works, her matchless powers have been displayed to greater advantage. Of this no stronger proof can be given, than the lively interest she inspires, even when discussing such systeins as those of Kant and of Fichte.
iter, " there existed among thinking
ystems concerning the Human under- ne one, that of Locke, ascribed all our ideas vusations ; * the other, that of Descartes and of uitz, had for its chief objects to demonstate the spirscuality and activity of the soul, the freedom of the willet and, in short, the whole doctrines of the idealists.
* That this is a very incorrect account of Locke's philosophy, has been already shown at great length; but in this mistake Madame de Staël has only followed Leibnitz, and a very large proportion of the German philosophers of the present day. “ The philosophy of sensation,” says Frederick Schlegel, “ which was unconsciously bequeathed to the world by Bacon, and reduced to a methodical shape by Locke, first displayed in France the true immorality and destructiveness of which it is the parent, and assuined the appearance of a perfect system of Atheism.” (Lectures on the History of Literature, from the German of Fred. Schlegel. Edin. 1818, Vol. II. p. 22.) It is evident, that the system of Locke is here confounded with that of Condillac. May not the former be called the philosophy of reflection, with as great propriety as the philosophy of sensation ?
f In considering Leibnitz as a partisan of the freedom of the will, Madame de Staël "has also followed the views of many German writers, who make no distinction between Materialists and Necessitarians, imagining, that to assert the spirituality of the soul, is to assert its free-agency. On the inaccuracy of these conceptions it would be superfluous to enlarge, after what was formerly said in treating of the metaphysical opinions of Leibnitz.
In consequence of this misapprehension, Madame de Staël, and many other late writers on the Continent, have been led to employ, with a very exceptionable lat. itude, the word Idealist, to comprehend not only the advocates for the immateriality of the mind, but those also who maintain the Freedom of the Human Will. Between these two opinions, there is certainly no necessary connexion; Leibnitz, and many other German metaphysicians denying the latter with no less confidence than that with which they assert the former.
In England, the word Idealist is most commonly restricted to such as (with Berkeley) reject the existence of a material world. of late, its meaning has been sometimes extended (particularly since the publications of Reid) to all those who retain the theory of Descartes and Locke, concerning the immediate objects of our perceptions and thoughts, whether they admit or reject the consequences deduced from this theory by the Berkeleians. In the present state of the science, it would contribute much to the distinctness of our reasonings, were it to be used in this last sense exclusively.
There is another word to which Madame de Staël and other writers on the German philosophy annex an idea peculiar to themselves; I mean the word experimental or empirical. This epithet is often used by them to distinguish what they call the Philosophy of Sensations, from that of Plato and of Leibnitz. It is accordingly generally, if not always, employed by them in an unfavorable sense. In this country, on the contrary, the experimental or inductive philosophy of the human mind denotes those speculations concerning mind, which, rejecting all hypothetical theories, rest solely on phenomena for which we have the evidence of consciousness. It is applied to the philosophy of Reid, and to all that is truly valuable in the metaphysical works of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.
Nor are the words Experimental and Empirical by any means synoymous in our language. The latter word is now almost exclusively appropriated to the practice of Medicine; and when so understood always implies a rash and unphilosophical use of Experience. The appellation Empiric,” says the late Dr. John Gregory, “is generally applied to one who, from observing the effects of a remedy in one case of a disease, applies it to all the various cases of that disteinper.” The same remark may be extended to the word Empirique in the French language, which is very nearly synonymous with Charlatan. In consequence of this abuse of terms, the epithet experimental, as well as empirical, is seldom applied by foreign writers to the philosophy of Locke, without being intended to convey a censure.
Between these extremes reason continued to wander, till Kant undertook to trace the limits of the two empires, of the senses and of the soul; of the external and of the internal worlds. The force of meditation and of sagacity, with which he marked these limits, had not perhaps any example among his predecessors." (Allemagne, Vol. III. pp. 70, 72.)
The praise bestowed on this part of Kani's philosophy, by one of his own pupils, is not less warm than that of Madame de Staël. I quote the passage, as it enters into some historical details which she has omitted, and describes more explicitly than she has done one of the most important steps, which Kant is supposed by his disciples to have made beyond his predecessors. In reading it, some allowances must be made for the peculiar phraseology of the German school.
“ Kant discovered that the intuitive faculty of man is a compound of very dissimilar ingredients; or, in other words, that it consists of parts very different in their nature, each of which performs functions peculiar to itself; namely, the sensitive faculty, and the understanding.
Leibnitz, indeed, had likewise remarked the distinction subsisting between the sensitive faculty and the understanding; but he entirely overlooked the essential difference between their functions, and was of opinion that the faculties differed from one another only in degree.
In the works of the English and French philosophers, we find this essential distinction between the sensitive and the intellectual faculties, and their combination towards producing one synthetical intuition scarcely mentioned. Locke only alludes to the accidental limitations of both faculties; but to inquire into the essential difference between them does not at all occur to him.
This distinction, then, between the sensitive and the intellectual faculties, forms an essential feature in the philosophy of Kant, and is, indeed, the basis upon which most of his subsequent inquiries are established."
(Elements of the Cri. Phil. by A. F. M. Willich, M. D. pp. 68, 69, 70.)
It is a circumstance not easily explicable, that, in the foregoing historical sketch, no mention is made of the