Jacques Maritain Center : History of Philosophy / by William Turner


Germany. In Germany there seems to be at the present time a tendency towards reconstruction on a realistic basis. Darwin's evolutionary hypothesis and the law of the conservation of energy, which was formulated and proved by Robert Mayer (1814-1878), demanded a reconstruction of the philosophy of nature, and in answer to this demand there appeared various systems.

(a) Materialism, represented by Karl Vogt (1817-1895), author of Vorlesungen über den Menschen, etc. (1863), Jakob Moleschott (1822-1893), author of Der Kreislauf des Lebens (1852), Ludwig Büchner, author of Kraft und Stoff (1855), and Ernst Haeckel, author of Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (1868), Die Welt rätsel (1899). With these is contrasted Albert Lange (1828-1875), the historian of materialism, who, while maintaining that materialism is indispensable as a method of investigation, teaches that it is untenable as a system.{1}

(b) Neo-Criticism. The Neo-Criticists, deploring the effects of the "deluge of romanticism," return to the principle of criticism, and in their idealistic reconstruction give fuller scope to the scientific view than their predecessors succeeded in doing. Chief among the Neo-Criticists are Rudolf Hermann Lotze (1817-1881), author of Metaphysik (1840), Medizinische Psychologie (1852), Mikrokosmos (1856-1864), etc., and Eugen Dühring, author of Natürliche Dialektik (1865), etc. Lotze's philosophy may be said to combine Herbartian with Fichtean and Hegelian metaphysics. Dühring devotes special attention to epistemology, emphasizing the antithesis between the ideal continuity of thought and the fragmentary character of given empirical reality. The most enthusiastic of the Neo-Kantians is Friedrich Paulsen,{2} who defines philosophy as "the sum of all scientific knowledge." He is equally opposed to the intellectualism of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, who "absolutely ignore experience and pay it no regard whatever," and to the materialism of Vogt, Buchner, etc., who overlook the essential distinction between the psychical and the physical order of reality. He adopts a theory of metaphysical and psychological parallelism (pan-psychism), and insists, as Rousseau and Schopenhauer insisted, on the recognition of the demands of the heart and the supremacy of will over intellect.

In the philosophy of Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg (1802-1872) the realistic reaction appears in the form of a revived Aristotelianism. His principal works are Logische Untersuchungen (1840), Naturrecht auf dem Grunde der Ethik (1860), and Historische Beiträge zur Philosophie (1846).

(c) Specialization of Philosophy. A third phase of the rcalistic reaction appears in the empirical philosophy, which, in obedience to the principle of the division of labor, is tending towards specialization of philosophical inquiry. Under this head may be included the physiologist, E. H. Weber; the psychologists Fechner and Wundt, founders of the science of psycho- physics,{3} Brentano, Stumpf; the educationalists and folk-psychologists, Steinthal, Lazarus; the logician Sigwart; the epistemologists, E. L. Fischer and Hermann Schwarz. To these may be added Tonnies, Daring, Ziegler, who devote special attention to ethical problems; Hermann, Karl Fischer, students of the philosophy of history; and Zeller, J. E. Erdmann, Kuno Fischer, Falckenberg, Windelband, Otto Willmann, and Clemens Baeumker, historians of philosophy.

Avenarius (1843-1896) represents the critical philosophy of experience (empirio-criticism).

France. In France the current of contemporary thought seems to have set towards a neo-criticism, which aims at spiritualistic reconstruction: "After passing," writes M. Fouillée, "through a period in which the intellect was in revolt against the heart, we are entering into one in which the heart is in revolt against the intellect."{4} Vacherot (1809-1897), author of La métaphysique et la science (1858), represents the form of idealism prevalent in France about the middle of the nineteenth century, -- the reaction against positivism. More recently, Renouvier, Secrétan, Pillon, Boutroux, represent a critical philosophy,{5} which is tending towards partial dogmatism (existence of the Infinite, freedom of the will, etc.).

Paul Janet (1823-1899), an eclectic spiritualist, represents the continuation of the philosophy of Cousin and Jonifroy, while Alfred Fouillée defends a system of monism based on the concept of idées forces, -- a monism which combines the intellectualism of Hegel with the voluntarism of Schopenhauer.{6}

M. L'Abbé Piat, one of the most distinguished representatives of constructive spiritualism in France at the present time, expounds and defends the essential doctrines of Thomistic philosophy. He is to be reckoned among the most enlightened and successful of the Neo-Thomists.{7}

Among the psychologists, Ribot, Delboeuf, Paulhan, represent a modified form of phenomenalism, while Bernheim, Charcot (1825- 1893), Binet, Luys, and Pierre Janet represent the French school of pathological psychology, and psycho-physics.{8}

The socialism of Fourier (1772-1837), Proudhon (1809-1865), etc., gave, towards the middle of the nineteenth century, an impetus to sociological inquiry which has produced the contemporary French school of sociology. The chief contributors to the literature of sociology are M. Tarde and René Worms.

England. In England the Neo-Hegelian movement has been gaining strength during the last quarter of a century. In addition to J. H. Stirling, T. H. Green, John Caird, Edward Caird,{9} of whom mention has already been made, William Wallace, F. H. Bradley, David G. Ritchie, Andrew Seth, John McTaggart, and others exhibit different phases of contemporary interest in transcendental criticism and construction on an idealistic basis.{10} "The springs of this movement," Professor Wallace observes, "lie in the natural and national revulsion of English habits of mind. Slowly, but at length, the storms of the great European revolution found their way to our intellectual world, and shook Church and State, society and literature. . . . The insularity which had secluded and narrowed the British mind since the middle of the eighteenth century needed something deeper and stronger than French 'ideology' to bring it abreast of the requirements of the age. Whatever may be the drawbacks of transcendentalism, they are virtues when set beside the vulgar ideals of enlightenment by superficialization."{11}

Alexander Campbell Fraser,{12} in his Philosophy of Theism, advocates the necessity of philosophic faith. Arthur James Balfour, in his Defence of Philosophic Doubt (1879) and his Foundations of Belief (1895), opposes both realism and idealism and advocates the principle of authority.

In the special departments of philosophic study there have appeared in recent times the logicians, George Boole (1815-1864), W. Stanley Jevons (1835-1882), John Veitch, J. N. Keynes, Thomas Fowler; the moral philosophers, Henry Sidgwick{13} (1838- 1900), James Martineau (1805-1900), Henry Calderwood, Leslie Stephen; the psychologists, James Sully, C. Lloyd Morgan, and W. B. Carpenter (1813-1885); and the pathologists, Henry Maudsley, C. A. Mercier.

Italy. In Italy the official philosophy, whether Hegelian, positivistic, phenomenalistic, or Rosminian, manifests a spirit of bitter hostility towards religion in the positive form of Catholicism. So far the Neo-Scholastic movement is apparently without influence on the centers of secular education.

Mention must here be made of the Italian school of criminology and psychiatry represented by Lombroso and Mantegazza.

America. In America the Neo-Hegelian movement has found distinguished representatives in John Watson and W. T. Harris.{14} The future course of philosophic thought in this country is, however, likely to be influenced less by the Neo-Hegelians than by the Neo-Voluntarists, who teach that "the ultimate test for us of what a truth means is the conduct it dictates or inspires," and that "the whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me at definite instants of our lives if this world-formula or that world-formula be the one which is true." This pragmatism may be said to interpret the meaning of conceptions by asking what difference they make in the matter of life, conduct, and activity experience; for the Cartesian, "Cogito, ergo sum," it substitutes "Ago, ergo sum." It was first proposed as a maxim by C. S. Peirce.{15} Its chief representatives in this country are Professor William James of Harvard, and Professor William Caldwell{16} of Northwestern University. The latter contends that Professor James, while rightly appealing to pragmatism as a method, fails to carry the principle of voluntarism far enough. He suggests the adoption of a broader metaphysical principle, according to which reality should be defined as "that which sustains a more or less verifiable and determinable relation to our activity."

In connection with this neo-voluntarism, or "new ethical" movement, mention must be made of Professor Josiah Royce{17} of Harvard, who declares that "philosophy turns altogether upon trying what our various fundamental ideas mean," defines the individual to be that which is the object of exclusive interest, and in general adopts some non-rational standard, such as concrete experience (loyalty, love, interest) rather than elements constitutive of abstract thought-value, as the ultimate test of philosophic truth. "To be means simply to express, to embody the complete internal meaning of a certain absolute system of ideas. . . . Our theory of the nature of Meaning is to be founded upon a definition in terms of Will and Purpose."{18}

Mention must also be made of psychologists who, like Professor J. M. Baldwin{19} of Princeton, contend that all cognitive activity is at the same time emotional activity, and that intellectual development is a continual growth in motor accommodation and in practical inventiveness.{20}

In the writings of Professor John Dewey{21} of the University of Chicago there is traceable the influence of the English Hegelians, especially that of Green. There is, however, a manifest tendency on the part of Dr. Dewey to modify the purely intellectual idealism of Green by recognizing the motor tendency of our ideas, and thus bringing idealism into closer relation to the determination of values. Professor Frank Thilly{22} of the University of Missouri has done good service to philosophy in America by his translations and by his able presentation of ethical problems. In the published works of Professor G. T. Ladd{23} the preponderant influence seems to be that of Lotze. Indeed, between Lotze's treatment of the problem of values and the contemporary pragmatic notion of philosophical method there exists a similarity which is suggestive of causal dependence. For, just as in Lotze's teleological idealism, reality is referred not to a purely rational category but to worth or value, which is determined by the purpose of life, so also in the pragmatism with which so much of recent philosophical literature is imbued, "The ultima ratio of every creed, the ultima ratio of truth itself, is that it works."{24}

Retrospect. When contrasted with the philosophy of the eighteenth century, the philosophy of the nineteenth century exhibits, in the first place, a spirit of constructive activity. The eighteenth century was largely destructive in its aim and tendency; the age of illumination, which terminated that century, drew a line of separation between the intellectual and the spiritual, between the scientific and the religio-aesthetic, between culture and belief, and placed the individual in sharp antithesis to the social order. It treated with levity, and often with contempt, every effort to harmonize these elements into a constructive system of thought. The nineteenth century, however, changed all this. Thoroughly in earnest with theism and the problems of theistic philosophy, it attempted to combine into a synthetic system the spiritual, the religious, and the aesthetic elements of human life, as well as the intellectual and scientific. It studied the relation between the individual and society from the point of view of organic unity and dependence, rather than from that of mechanical independence and natural conflict. Not that philosophy in the nineteenth century succeeded in effecting a complete and systematic unification of these various elements. The century which has just come to a close was happily alive to the importance and value of constructive effort; but it was unfortunately condemned to start its construction on the foundation which a previous age had laid. If, therefore, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a final philosophy seems as far from being attained as it seemed a hundred years ago, it is not because men have not striven, for they have striven earnestly, to find the true solution of the problems of philosophy; nor is it because they have neglected what their predecessors had too often underestimated, but because they could not break altogether with the past -- with the subjectivism, the psychological dualism, and the false sense of philosophic method which they had inherited from Descartes.

Indeed, post-Kantian philosophy, the philosophy of the nineteenth century, exhibits in a high degree the subjectivism which is a characteristic of modern life. It is true that this trait is not always, and in all its aspects, a defect. For instance, while, as is well known, the beautiful and the spiritual in their objective phases played a far more important part in Greek life and in mediaeval life than they play in modern life, yet it is the modern world that, owing to its clearer consciousness of inner experience, first undertook to analyze the sentiment of the beautiful and the religious sentiment. The subjectivism of modern philosophy appears, too, in its fuller realization of the difficulty of the philosopher's task. No doubt the work of unifying all knowledge and formulating a rational explanation of the complex world revealed by modern science, is far more imposing than the problem which confronted Thales; but when due allowance is made for the greater complexity of the problems which confront modern philosophy, must it not be charged to the too great subjectivism of our age that while it has felt more intensely, thought more profoundly, and analyzed more acutely, it has accomplished less than any preceding age? As in the individual, so also in the race; too much questioning and too little active responsibility and practical realization of the problems of life lead inevitably to the despair of knowing anything. Must an era of reflection be an era of irresolution and hesitancy? The neo-voluntaristic movement of the present hour may be taken as an indication of the incompetency of "mere intellect" to explain all reality, and the importance which is at the present time attached to philosophic faith may be regarded as an assertion of the limitations of the analytic faculty and an affirmation of the need of constructive synthesis. Both these contemporary tendencies of thought may well meet in a common endeavor to restore a method which, uniting the objective with the subjective and making the supernatural continuous with the natural, would give free scope to reason within the limits of rational inquiry and leave at the same time ample room for the exercise of religious faith.

{1} Falckenberg, op. cit., p. 489 (English trans., p. 615).

{2} Cf. Introduction to Philosophy, trans. by Thily (New York, 1895).

{3} Cf. Ribot, Psychologie allemande contemporaine, trans. by Baldwin (New York, 1886).

{4} Revue des Deux Mondes, mars 15, 1896.

{5} Renouvier, Essai de critique générale (1854), Science de la morale (1869), Principes de la nature (1864), Philosophie analytique de l'histoire (1896-1897), etc.; Secrétan, De la philosophie de Leibniz (1840), La philosophie de la liberté (1849), La raison et le christianisme (1863), etc. Pillon, L'année philosophique (first number, 1891); Boutroux, Questions de morale et d'education (1895), etc.

{6} Janet, Causes finales (1876), etc.; Foullée, L'avenir de la métaphysique fondée sur l'expérience (1889), L'évolution des idées-forces (1890), etc.

{7} L'intellect actif (1891), L'idée (1896), La liberté (1894-1895), Socrate (1901), etc.

{8} Ribot, L'hérédité (1882), La psychologie anglaise contemporaine (1870), La psychologie allemande contemporaine (1879), Maladies de la memoire (1881), etc.; Delboeuf, Études psychologiques (1873), Théorie générale de la sensibilité (1875), etc.; Paulhan, La physiologie de l'esprit (1888), Les caractères (1894), etc. ; Binet, Les altérations de la personnalité (1892), and, in collaboration with M. Feri, Le magnétisme animale (troisième édition, 1890); Luys, Le cerveau et ses fonctions (1875); Bernheim, La suggestion, etc. (1884); Charcot (1825-1893), Les démoniaques dans l'art (1887); Pierre Janet, L'automatisme psychologique (1889).

{9} John Caird, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (1880), etc.; Edward Caird, The Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1889), etc.

{10} Wallace, Prolegomena to the Logic of Hegel (second edition, 1894); Bradley, Appearance and Reality (1893); Ritchie, Darwin and Hegel (1893); Andrew Seth, Hegelianism and Personality (1887); McTaggart, Studies in Hegelian Dialectic (1898), Hegelian Cosmology (1901).

{11} Prolegomena to Hegel's Philosophy, Preface, p. xi.

{12} Philosophy of Theism (First Series, 1895 ; Second Series, 1896), Collected Works of Berkeley, Selections from Berkeley, etc.

{13} Cf. "On the Ethical Theory of Henry Sidgwick," Mind, April, 1901.

{14} Watson, Comte, Mill, and Spencer, an Outline of Philosophy (Glasgow, 1895); Harris, Hegel's Logic (Chicago, 1890), etc.

{15} In Popular Science Monthly (January, 1878); cf. Dictionary of Philosophy article, "Pragmatism"; Mind (October, 1900); Phil. Review, Sept. 1903, Jan. 1904.

{16} James, Principles of Psychology (New York, 1893); The Will to Believe, etc. (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), etc.; Caldwell, Schopenhauer's System in its Philosophical Significance (New York, 1896); cf. International Journal of Ethics (July, 1898); Mind (October, 1900).

{17} The Spirit of Modern Philosophy (1893), The Conception of God (1897), Studies of Good and Evil (1898), The Conception of Immortality (1900), The World and the Individual (First Series, 1899; Second Series, 1901).

{18} The World and the Individual (First Series, pp. 36, 37).

{19} Mental Development, etc. (New York, 1895), Social and Ethical Interpretations, etc. (New York, 1897), Fragments in Philosophy and Science (1902); cf. especially, Social and Ethical Interpretations, pp. 243 and 295.

{20} Cf. New World (September, 1898), VII, 504 ff.

{21} Psychology (1886), Outlines of Ethics (1892), etc. cf. Psychol. Bull., January 15, 1904.

{22} Introduction to Ethics (New York, 1900); translations of Weber's History of Philosophy (New York, 1896), Paulsen's Introduction to Philosophy (New York, 1895), Paulsen's System of Ethics (New York, 1899).

{23} Physiological Psychologv (1887), Introduction to Philosophy (1891), Philosophy of Mind (1895), Philosophy of Knowledge (1897), A Theory of Reality (1890), etc.

{24} Andrew Seth, Man's Place in the Cosmos, p. 307.

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