The World's Greatest Books—Volume 14—Philosophy and Economics
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Table of Contents


PHILOSOPHY (continued)

HEGEL, G.W.F. PAGE The Philosophy of History 1

HUME, DAVID Essays, Moral and Political 13

KANT, IMMANUEL The Critique of Pure Reason 24 The Critique of Practical Reason 34

LEWES, GEORGE HENRY A History of Philosophy 45

LOCKE, JOHN Concerning the Human Understanding 56


PLATO The Apology, or Defence of Socrates 75 The Republic 84

SCHOPENHAUER The World as Will and Idea 99

SENECA, L. ANNAEUS On Benefits 109

SPENCER, HERBERT Education 120 Principles of Biology 133 Principles of Sociology 145



BELLAMY, EDWARD Looking Backward 173

BENTHAM, JEREMY Principles of Morals and Legislation 186

BLOCH, JEAN The Future of War 199

BURKE, EDMUND Reflections on the Revolution in France 212

COMTE, AUGUSTE A Course of Positive Philosophy 224

GEORGE, HENRY Progress and Poverty 238

HOBBES, THOMAS The Leviathan 249


MALTHUS, T.R. On the Principle of Population 270

MARX, KARL Capital: A Critical Analysis 282

MILL, JOHN STUART Principles of Political Economy 294

MONTESQUIEU The Spirit of Laws 306

MORE, SIR THOMAS Utopia Nowhere Land 315

PAINE, THOMAS The Rights of Man 324

ROUSSEAU, JEAN JACQUES The Social Contract 337

SMITH, ADAM Wealth of Nations 350

* * * * *

A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.


Acknowledgment and thanks for permission to use the following selections are herewith tendered to Houghton, Mifflin & Company, Boston, for "Looking Backward," by Edward Bellamy; to Ginn & Company, Boston, for the International School of Peace, for "The Future of War," by Jean Bloch; and to Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, for "Progress and Poverty," by Henry George.



The Philosophy of History

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born on August 27, 1770, at Stuttgart, the capital of Wuertemburg, in which state his father occupied a humble position in government service. He was educated at Tuebingen for the ministry, and while there was, in private, a diligent student of Kant and Rousseau. In 1805 he was Professor Extraordinarius at the University of Jena, and in 1807 he gave the world the first of his great works, the "Phenomenology." It was not until 1816 that Hegel's growing fame as a writer secured for him a professorship at Heidelberg, but, after two years, he exchanged it for one at Berlin, where he remained until his death on November 14, 1831. On October 22, 1818, he began his famous lectures. "Our business and vocation," he remarked to his listeners, "is to cherish the philosophical development of the substantial foundation which has renewed its youth and increased its strength." Although the lectures on the "Philosophy of History" and on the "Philosophy of Religion" (Vol. XIII) were delivered during this period, they were not published until a year after his death, when his collected works were issued.

I.—In the East Began History

Universal or world-history travels from east to west, for Europe is absolutely the end of history, Asia the beginning. The history of the world has an east in an absolute sense, for, although the earth forms a sphere, history describes no orbit round it, but has, on the contrary, a determinate orient—viz., Asia. Here rises the outward visible sun, and in the west it sinks down; here also rises the sun of self-consciousness. The history of the world is a discipline of the uncontrolled natural will, bringing it into obedience to a universal principle and conferring a subjective freedom. The East knew, and to this day knows, freedom only for one; the Greek and Roman world knew that some are free; the German world knows that all are free. The first political form, therefore, that we see in history is despotism; the second democracy and aristocracy; and the third monarchy.

The first phase—that with which we have to begin—is the East. Unreflected consciousness—substantial, objective, spiritual existence—forms the basis; to which the subjective will first sustains a relation in the form of faith, confidence, obedience. In the political life of the East we find realised national freedom, developing itself without advancing to subjective freedom. It is the childhood of history. In the gorgeous edifices of the Oriental empires we find all national ordinances and arrangements, but in such a way that individuals remain as mere accidents. These revolve round a centre, round the sovereign, who as patriarch stands (not as despot, in the sense of the Roman imperial constitution) at the head. For he has to enforce the moral and substantial; he has to uphold those essential ordinances which are already established; so that what among us belongs entirely to subjective freedom, here proceeds from the entire and general body of the state.

The glory of the Oriental conception is the one individual as the substantial being to which all belongs, so that no other individual has a separate existence, or mirrors himself in his subjective freedom. All the riches of imagination and nature are appropriated to that dominant existence in which subjective freedom is essentially merged; the latter looks for its dignity not in itself but in the absolute object. All the elements of a complete state—even subjectivity—may be found there, but not yet harmonised with the grand substantial being. For outside the one power—before which nothing can maintain an independent existence—there is only revolting caprice, which, beyond the limits of the central power, moves at will without purpose or result.

Accordingly we find the wild herds breaking out from the upland, falling upon the countries in question and laying them waste, or settling down in them and giving up their wild life; but in all cases lost resultlessly in the central substance.

This phase of substantiality, since it has not taken up its antithesis into itself and overcome it, directly divides itself into two elements. On the one side we see duration, stability—empires belonging, as it were, to mere Space (as distinguished from Time); unhistorical history, as, for example, in China, the state based on the family relation. Yet the states in question, without undergoing any change in themselves, or in the principle of their existence, are constantly changing their opinion towards each other. They are in ceaseless conflict, which brings on rapid destruction. The opposing principle of individuality enters into these conflicting relations; but it is itself as yet only unconscious, merely natural universality—light which is not yet the light of the personal soul. This history, too, is for the most part really unhistorical, for it is only the repetition of the same majestic ruin.

The new element which, in the shape of bravery, prowess, magnanimity, occupies the place of the previous despotic pomp goes through the same cycle of decline and subsidence. And this subsidence, therefore, is not really such; for through all this restless change no advance has been made. History passes at this point—and only outwardly, that is, without connection with the previous phase—to Central Asia. To carry on the comparison with the individual man, this would be the boyhood of history, no longer manifesting the repose and trustfulness of the child, but boisterous and turbulent.

II.—Greece, Rome and Christianity

The Greek world may, then, be compared to the season of adolescence, for here we have individualities shaping themselves. This is the second main principle in human history. Morality is, as in Asia, a principle, but it is morality impressed on individuality, and consequently denoting the free volition of individuals. Here, then, is the union of the moral with the subjective will, or the kingdom of beautiful freedom, for the idea is united with a plastic form. It is not yet regarded abstractly, but intimately bound up with the real, as in a beautiful work of art; the sensible bears the stamp and expression of the spiritual. The kingdom is consequently true harmony; it is a world of the most charming but perishable, or quickly passing, bloom; it is the natural, unreflecting observance of what is becoming—not yet true morality. The individual will of the subject adopts without reflection the conduct and habit prescribed by justice and the laws. The individual is, therefore, in unconscious unity with the idea—the social weal.

The third phase is the realm of abstract universality (in which the social aim absorbs all individual aims); it is the Roman state, the severe labours of the manhood of history. For true manhood acts neither in accordance with the caprice of a despot nor in obedience to a graceful caprice of its own. It works for a general aim, one in which the individual perishes and realises his own private object only in that general aim. The state begins to have an abstract existence and to develop itself for a definite object, in accomplishing which its members have indeed a share, but not a complete and concrete one (calling their whole being into play). Free individuals are sacrificed to the severe demands of the national ends, to which they must surrender themselves in this service of abstract generalisation. The Roman state is not a repetition of such a state of individuals as was the Athenian polis. The geniality and joy of soul that existed there have given place to harsh and rigorous toil. The interest of history is detached from individuals.

But when, subsequently, in the historical development, individuality gains the ascendant, and the breaking up of the community into its component atoms can be restrained only by external compulsion, then the subjective might of individual despotism comes forward to play its part. The individual is led to seek consolation for the loss of his freedom in exercising and developing his private rights. In the next place, the pain inflicted by despotism begins to be felt, and spirit, driven back into its utmost depths, leaves the godless world, seeks for a harmony in itself, and begins now an inner life—a complete concrete subjectivity, which at the same time possesses a substantiality that is not grounded in mere external existence.

Within the soul, therefore, arises the spiritual solution of the struggle, in the fact that the individual personality, instead of following its own capricious choice, is purified and elevated into universality—a subjectivity that of its own free will adopts principles tending to the good of all, reaches, in fact, a divine personality. To the worldly empire this spiritual one wears a predominant aspect of opposition, as the empire of subjectivity that has attained to the knowledge of itself—itself in its essential nature—the empire of spirit in its full sense.

The Christian community found itself in the Roman world, but as it was secluded from this state, and did not hold the emperor for its absolute sovereign, it was the object of persecution. Then was manifested its inward liberty in the steadfastness with which sufferings were borne. As regards its relation to the truth, the fathers of the Church built up the dogma, but a chief element was furnished by the previous development of philosophy. Just as Philo found a deeper import shadowed forth in the Mosaic record and idealised what he considered the bare shell of the narrative, so also did the Christians treat their records.

It was through the Christian religion that the absolute idea of God, in if true conception, attained consciousness. Here man, too, finds himself comprehended in his true nature, given in the specific conception of "the Son." Man, finite when regarded for himself, is yet at the same time the image of God and a fountain of infinity in himself. Consequently he has his true home in a super-sensuous world—an infinite subjectivity, gained only by a rupture with mere natural existence and volition. This is religious self-consciousness.

The first abstract principles are won by the instrumentality of the Christian religion for the secular state. First, under Christianity slavery is impossible; for man as man—in the abstract essence of his nature—is contemplated in God; each unit of mankind is an object of the grace of God and of the divine purpose. Utterly excluding all speciality, therefore, man, in and for himself—in his simple quality of man—has infinite value; and this infinite value abolishes, ipso facto, all particularity attaching to birth or country.

The other, the second principle, regards the subjectivity of man in its bearing on chance. Humanity has this sphere of free spirituality in and for itself, and everything else must proceed from it. The place appropriated to the abode and presence of the Divine Spirit—the sphere in question—is spiritual subjectivity, and is constituted the place in which all contingency is amenable. It follows, thence, that what we observe among the Greeks as a form of customary morality cannot maintain its position in the Christian world. For that morality is spontaneous, unreflected wont; while the Christian principle is independent subjectivity—the soil on which grows the True.

Now, an unreflected morality cannot continue to hold its ground against the principle of subjective freedom. Now the principle of absolute freedom in God makes its appearance. Man no longer sustains the relation of dependence, but of love—in the consciousness that he is a partaker in the Divine existence.

III.—The Germanic World

The German world appears at this point of development—the fourth phase of world history. The old age of nature is weakness; but this of spirit is its perfect maturity and strength, in which it returns to unity with itself, but in its fully developed character as spirit.

The Greeks and Romans had reached maturity within ere they directed their energies outwards. The Germans, on the contrary, began with self-diffusion, deluging the world, and breaking down in their course the hollow political fabrics of the civilised nations. Only then did their development begin, kindled by a foreign culture, a foreign religion, polity, and legislation. The process of culture they underwent consisted in taking up foreign elements into their own national life.

The German world took up the Roman culture and religion in their completed form. The Christian religion which it adopted had received from councils and fathers of the Church—who possessed the whole culture, and in particular the philosophy of the Greek and Roman world—a perfected dogmatic system. The Church, too, had a completely developed hierarchy. To the native tongue of the Germans the Church likewise opposed one perfectly developed—the Latin. In art and philosophy a similar alien influence predominated. The same principle holds good in regard to the form of the secular sovereignty. Gothic and other chiefs gave themselves the name of Roman patricians. Thus, superficially, the German world appears to be a continuation of the Roman. But there dwelt in it an entirely new spirit—the free spirit which reposes on itself.

The three periods of this world will have to be treated accordingly.

The first period begins with the appearance of the German nations in the Roman Empire. The Christian world presents itself as Christendom—one mass of which, the spiritual and the secular, form only different aspects. This epoch extends to Charlemagne. In the second period the Church develops for itself a theocracy and the state a feudal monarchy. Charlemagne had formed an alliance with the Holy See against the Lombards and the factions of the nobles in Rome. A union thus arose between the spiritual and the secular power, and a kingdom of heaven on earth promised to follow in the wake of this conciliation. But just at this time, instead of a spiritual kingdom of heaven, the inwardness of the Christian principle wears the appearance of being altogether directed outwards, and leaving its proper sphere.

Christian freedom is perverted to its very opposite, both in a religious and secular respect; on the one hand to the severest bondage, on the other to the most immoral excess—a barbarous intensity of every passion. The first half of the sixteenth century marks the beginning of the third period. Secularity appears now as gaining a consciousness of its intrinsic worth; it becomes aware that it possesses a value of its own in the morality, rectitude, probity, and activity of man. The consciousness of independent validity is aroused through the restoration of Christian freedom.

The Christian principle has now passed through the terrible discipline of culture, and it first attains truth and reality through the Reformation. This third period extends to our own times. The principle of free spirit is here made the banner of the world, and from this principle are evolved the universal axioms of reason. Formal thought—the understanding—had been already developed, but thought received its true material first with the Reformation. From that Epoch thought began to gain a culture properly its' own; principles were derived from it which were to be the norm for the constitution of the state. Political life was now to be consciously regulated by reason. Customary morality, traditional usage, lost their validity; the various claims insisted upon must prove their legitimacy as based on rational principles.

These epochs may be compared with the earlier empires. In the German aeon, as the realm of totality, we see the earlier epochs resumed. Charlemagne's time may be compared with the Persian Empire; it is the period of substantive unity, this unity having its foundation in the inner man, the heart, and both in the spiritual and the secular still abiding in its simplicity. To the Greek world and its merely ideal unity the time preceding Charles V. answers; where real unity no longer exists, because all phases of particularity have become fixed in privileges and peculiar rights As, in the interior of the realms themselves, the different estates of the realm, with their several claims, are isolated, so do the various states in their foreign aspects occupy a merely external relation one to another. A diplomatic policy arises which, in the interest of a European balance of power, unites them with and against each other. It is the time in which the world becomes clear and manifest to all (discovery of America).

So, too, does consciousness gain clearness in the super-sensuous world, and respecting it. Substantial objective religion brings itself to sensuous clearness in the sensuous element (Christian art), and also becomes clear to itself in the element of inmost truth. We may compare this time with that of Pericles. The introversion of spirit begins (Socrates—Luther), though Pericles is wanting in this epoch. Charles V. possesses enormous possibilities in point of outward appliances, and appears absolute in his power; but the inner spirit of Pericles, and therefore the absolute means of establishing a free sovereignty, is not in him. This is the epoch when spirit becomes clear to itself in separations occurring in the realm of reality; now the distinct elements of the German world manifest their essential nature.

The third epoch may be compared to the Roman world. The authority of national aim is acknowledged, and privileges melt away before the common object of the state.

IV.—Modern Times

Spirit at last perceives that nature—the world—must be an embodiment of reason. An interest in the contemplation and comprehension of the present world became universal. Thus experimental science became the science of the world; for experimental science involves, on the one hand, the observation of phenomena; on the other hand, also the discovery of the law, the essential being, the hidden force, that causes those phenomena—thus reducing the data supplied by observation to their simple principles. Intellectual consciousness was first extricated by Descartes from that sophistry of thought which unsettles everything. As it was the purely German nations among whom the principle of spirit first manifested itself, so it was by the Romanic nations that the abstract idea was first comprehended.

Experimental science, therefore, very soon made its way among them, in common with the Protestant English, but especially among the Italians. It seemed to men as if God had but just created the moon and stars, plants and animals; as if the laws of the universe were now established for the first time; for only then did they feel a real interest in the universe when they recognised their own reason in the reason that pervades it. The human eye became clear, perception quick, thought active and interpretative. The discovery of the laws of nature enabled men to contend against the monstrous superstition of the time, as also against all notions of mighty alien powers which magic alone could conquer.

The independent authority of subjectivity was maintained against belief founded on authority, and the laws of nature were recognised as the only bond connecting phenomena with phenomena. Man is at home in nature, and that alone passes for truth in which he finds himself at home; he is free through the acquaintance he has gained with nature.

Nor was thought less vigorously directed to the spiritual side. Right and social morality came to be looked upon as having their foundation in the actual present will of man, whereas formerly it was referred only to the command of God enjoined ab extra, written in the Old or New Testament, or appearing in the form of particular right, as opposed to that based on general principles, in old parchments as privilegia, or in international compacts. Luther had secured to mankind spiritual freedom, and the reconciliation of the objective and the subjective in the concrete. He had triumphantly established the position that man's eternal destiny must be wrought out in himself. But the import of that which is to take place in him—what truth is to become vital to him—was taken for granted by Luther, as something already given, something revealed by religion. Now the principle was set up that this import must be capable of actual investigation, and that to this basis of inward demonstration every dogma must be referred.

This is the point which consciousness has attained, and these are the principal phases of that form in which the principle of freedom has realised itself, for the history of the world is nothing but the development of the idea of freedom. But objective freedom—the laws of "real" freedom—demands the subjugation of the mere contingent will, for this is in its nature formal. If the objective is in itself rational, human insight and conviction must correspond with the reason which it embodies, and then we have the other essential element—subjective freedom—also realised. We have confined ourselves to the consideration of that progress of the idea which has led to this consummation. Philosophy concerns itself only with the glory of the idea mirroring itself in the history of the world, and with the development which the idea has passed through in realising itself—i.e., the idea of freedom, whose reality is the consciousness of freedom and nothing short of it.

That the history of the world, with all the changing scenes which its annals present, is this true process of development and the realisation of spirit—this is the true Theodikaia, the justification of God in history. The spirit of man may be reconciled with the course of universal history only by perception of this truth—that all which has happened, all that happens daily, is not only not without God, but is essentially His work.


Essays, Moral and Political

David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and historian, was born at Edinburgh, April 26, 1711, and was educated at the college there. He tried law and business without liking either, and at the age of 23 went to France, where he wandered about for a while occupied with dreams of philosophy. In 1739 he published the first part of his "Treatise on Human Nature." The book set an army of philosophers at work trying either to refute what he had said or continue lines that he had suggested, and out of them were created both the Scotch and German schools of metaphysicians. Hume's "Essays, Moral and Political," appeared in 1741-42, and followed closely upon what he described as the "dead-born" "Treatise on Human Nature," the success of the former going a long way towards compensating him for the failure of the latter. In the advertisement to a posthumous edition Hume complains that controversialists had confined their attacks to the crude, earlier treatise, and expressed the desire that for the future the "Essays" might alone be regarded as containing his philosophical sentiments and principles. In the "Essays" Hume brings to bear the results of his criticism upon the problems of current speculative discussion. The argument against miracles is still often discussed; and the work is well worthy of the author whom many regard as the greatest thinker of his time. In 1751 he published his "Inquiry Into the Principles of Morals," which is one of the clearest expositions of the leading principles of what is termed the utilitarian system. Hume died on August 25, 1776.

I.—Doubts Concerning the Understanding

All the objects of human reason or inquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds—to wit, relations of ideas and matters of fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of geometry, algebra, and arithmetic, and, in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. "That the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the squares of the two sides" is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. "That three times five is equal to the half of thirty" expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid would for ever retain their certainty and evidence.

Matters of fact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible, because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness as if ever so conformable to reality. "That the sun will not rise to-morrow" is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmative that "it will rise." We should in vain, therefore, attempt to demonstrate its falsehood. Were it demonstratively false, it would imply a contradiction, and could never be distinctly conceived by the mind.

It may, therefore, be a subject worthy of curiosity to inquire what is the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence of matters of fact beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the records of our memory. All reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of cause and effect. If we would satisfy ourselves, therefore, concerning the nature of that evidence which assures us of matters of fact, we must inquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect.

I shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori, but arises entirely from experience.

To convince us that all the laws of nature, and all the operations of bodies without exception, are known only by experience, the following reflections may perhaps suffice. Were any object presented to us, and were we required to pronounce concerning the effect which will result from it, without consulting past observation, after what manner, I beseech you, must the mind proceed in this operation? It must invent or imagine some event, which it ascribes to the object as its effect; and it is plain that this invention must be entirely arbitrary. The mind can never possibly find the effect in the supposed cause by the most accurate scrutiny and examination. For the effect is totally different from the cause, and, consequently, can never be discovered in it.

A stone or piece of metal raised into the air and left without any support immediately falls. But, to consider the matter a priori, is there anything we discover in this situation which can beget the idea of a downward rather than an upward, or any other motion, in the stone or metal?

In a word, then, every effect is a distinct event from its cause. It could not, therefore, be discovered in the cause, and the first invention or conception of it, a priori, must be entirely arbitrary. And, even after it is suggested, the conjunction of it with the cause must appear equally arbitrary, since there are always many other effects which to reason must seem fully as consistent and natural. In vain, therefore, should we pretend to determine any single event, or infer any cause or effect, without the assistance of observation and experience.

Hence, we may discover the reason why no philosopher who is rational and modest has ever pretended to assign the ultimate cause of any natural operation, or to show distinctly the action of that power which produces any single effect in the universe.

I say, then, that even after we have experience of the operations of cause and effect, our conclusions from that experience are not founded on reasoning, or any process of the understanding.

The bread which I formerly ate nourished me; that is, a body of such sensible qualities was at that time endued with such secret powers; but does it follow that other bread must also nourish me at another time, and that like sensible qualities must always be attended with like secret powers? The consequence seems nowise necessary. At least, it must be acknowledged that there is here a consequence drawn by the mind, that there is a certain step taken; a process of thought, and an inference which wants to be explained.

These two propositions are far from being the same: "I have found that such an object has always been attended with such an effect," and: "I foresee that other objects, which are in appearance similar, will be attended with similar effects." I shall allow, if you please, that the one proposition may justly be inferred from the other; I know, in fact, that it always is inferred. But you must confess that the inference is not intuitive; neither is it demonstrative. Of what nature is it, then? To say it is experimental is begging the question. For all inferences from experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the past, and that similar powers will be conjoined with similar sensible qualities.

If there be any suspicion that the course of nature may change, and that the past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless, and can give rise to no inference or conclusion. It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future, since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular, that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that for the future it will continue so. In vain do you pretend to have learned the nature of bodies from your past experience. Their secret nature, and consequently all their effects and influence, may change without any change in their sensible qualities. This happens sometimes, and with regard to some objects. Why may it not happen always, and with regard to all objects? What logic, what process of argument, secures you against this supposition? My practice, you say, refutes my doubts. But you mistake the purport of my question. As an agent, I am quite satisfied on the point; but as a philosopher, who has some share of curiosity, I will not say scepticism, I want to learn the foundation of this inference.

All inferences from experience are effects of custom, not of reasoning. We have already observed that nature has established connections among particular ideas, and that no sooner one idea occurs to our thoughts than it introduces its correlative, and carries our attention towards it by a gentle and insensible movement. These principles of connection or association we have reduced to three—namely, resemblance, contiguity, and causation, which are the only bonds that unite our thoughts together and beget that regular train of reflection or discourse which, in a greater or less degree, takes place among mankind.

Now, here arises a question on which the solution of the present difficulty will depend. Does it happen in all these relations that when one of the objects is presented to the senses or memory the mind is not only carried to the conception of the correlative, but reaches a steadier and stronger conception of it than otherwise it would have been able to attain? This seems to be the case with that belief which arises from the relation of cause and effect. And I shall add that it is conformable to the ordinary wisdom of nature to secure so necessary an act of the mind by some instinct or mechanical tendency, which may be infallible in its operations, may discover itself at the first appearance of life and thought, and may be independent of all the laboured deductions of the understanding.

II.—On Miracles

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. In such conclusions as are founded on an infallible experience he expects the event with the last degree of assurance, and regards his past experience as a full proof of the future existence of that event.

In other cases he proceeds with more caution. He weighs the opposite experiments. He considers which side is supported by the greatest number of experiments; to that side he inclines with doubt and hesitation, and when at last he fixes his judgment, the evidence exceeds not what we properly call probability. All probability, then, supposes an opposition of experiments and observations, where the one side is found to overbalance the other, and to produce a degree of evidence proportioned to the superiority.

When the fact attested is such a one as has seldom fallen under our observation, here is a contest of two possible experiences, of which the one destroys the other as far as its force goes, and the superior can only operate on the mind by the force which remains. The very same principle of experience which gives us a certain degree of assurance in the testimony of witnesses gives us also, in this case, another degree of assurance against the fact which they endeavour to establish, from which consideration there necessarily arises a counterpoise, and mutual destruction of belief and authority.

But in order to increase the probability against the testimony of witnesses, let us suppose that the fact which they affirm, instead of being only marvellous, is really miraculous; and suppose also that the testimony, considered apart and in itself, amounts to an entire proof, of which the strongest must prevail, but still with a diminution of its force in proportion to that of its antagonist.

A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable that all men must die; that lead cannot of itself remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or, in other words, a miracle, to prevent them?

Nothing is esteemed a miracle if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man seemingly in good health should die on a sudden, because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come to life, because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle; nor can such a proof be destroyed, or the miracle rendered credible, but by an opposite proof which is superior.

The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention) "that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force which remains after deducting the inferior."

There surely never was a greater number of miracles ascribed to one person than those which were lately said to have been wrought in France upon the tomb of Abbe Paris, the famous Jansenist, with whose sanctity the people were so long deluded. The curing of the sick, giving hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, were everywhere talked of as the usual effects of that holy sepulchre. But, what is more extraordinary, many of the miracles were immediately proved upon the spot before judges of unquestioned integrity, attested by witnesses of credit and distinction, in a learned age, and in the most eminent theatre that is now in the world.

Nor is this all; a relation of them was published and dispersed everywhere; nor were the Jesuits—though a learned body, supported by the civil magistrate and determined enemies to those opinions in whose favour the miracles were said to have been wrought—ever able distinctly to refute or detect them. Where shall we find such a number of circumstances agreeing to the corroboration of one fact? And what have we to oppose to such a cloud of witnesses but the absolute impossibility or miraculous nature of the events which they relate? And this surely, in the eyes of all reasonable people, will alone be regarded as a sufficient refutation.

Suppose that all the historians who treat of England should agree that on January 1, 1600, Queen Elizabeth died; that both before and after her death she was seen by her physicians and the whole court, as is usual with persons of her rank; that her successor was acknowledged and proclaimed by the Parliament; and that, after being interred a month, she again appeared, resumed the throne, and governed England for three years; I must confess that I should be surprised at the concurrence of so many odd circumstances, but should not have the least inclination to believe so miraculous an event. I should not doubt of her pretended death, and of those other public circumstances that followed it; I should only assert it to have been pretended, and that it neither was, nor possibly could be, real.

You would in vain object to me the difficulty and almost impossibility of deceiving the world in an affair of such consequence; the wisdom and solid judgment of that renowned queen; with the little or no advantage which she could reap from so poor an artifice. All this might astonish me; but I would still reply that the knavery and folly of men are such common phenomena that I should rather believe the most extraordinary events to arise from their concurrence than admit of so signal a violation of the laws of nature.

Our most holy religion is founded on faith, not on reason; and it is a sure method of exposing it to put it to such a trial as it is by no means fitted to endure. To make this more evident, let us examine those miracles related in the Pentateuch, which we shall examine as the production of a mere human writer and historian. Here, then, we are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts which every nation gives of its origin.

Upon reading this book we find it full of prodigies and miracles. It gives an account of a state of the world and of human nature entirely different from the present; of our fall from that state; of the age of man extended to near a thousand years; of the destruction of the world by a deluge; of the arbitrary choice of one people as the favourites of Heaven, and that people the countrymen of the author; of their deliverance from bondage by prodigies the most astonishing imaginable. I desire anyone to lay his hand upon his heart, and, after a serious consideration, declare whether he thinks that the falsehood of such a book, supported by such a testimony, would be more extraordinary and miraculous than the miracles it relates, which is, however, necessary to make it be received according to the measures of probability above established.

III.—Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State

I was lately engaged in conversation with a friend who loves sceptical paradoxes. To my expression of the opinion that a wise magistrate can justly be jealous of certain tenets of philosophy such as those of Epicurus, which, denying a divine existence, and consequently a Providence and a future state, seem to loosen the ties of morality, he replied as follows.

"If Epicurus had been accused before the people he could easily have defended his cause and proved his principles of philosophy to be as salutary as those of his adversaries. And, if you please, I shall suppose myself Epicurus for a moment, and make you stand for the Athenian people."

EPICURUS: I come hither, O ye Athenians, to justify in your assembly what I maintained in my school, and I find myself impeached by furious antagonists instead of reasoning with calm and dispassionate inquirers.

By my accusers it is acknowledged that the chief or sole argument for a divine existence (which I never questioned) is derived from the order of nature; where there appear such marks of intelligence and design that you think it extravagant to assign for its cause either chance or the blind and unguided force of matter. You allow that this is an argument drawn from effects to causes. From the order of the work you infer that there must have been project and forethought in the workman. If you cannot make out this point, you allow that your conclusion fails, and you pretend not to establish the conclusion in a greater latitude than the phenomena of nature will justify. These are your concessions. I desire you to mark the consequences.

When we infer any particular cause from an effect we must proportion the one to the other, and can never be allowed to ascribe to the cause any qualities but what are sufficient to produce the effect. A body of ten ounces raised in a scale may serve as a proof that the counterbalancing weight exceeds ten ounces, but never that it exceeds a hundred.

The same rule holds whether the cause assigned be brute, unconscious matter or a rational, intelligent being. If the cause be known only by the effect, we never ought to ascribe to it any qualities beyond what are precisely requisite to produce the effect. Nor can we return back from the cause and infer other effects from it beyond those by which alone it is known to us.

Allowing, therefore, the gods to be the authors of the existence, or order, of the universe, it follows that they possess that precise degree of power, intelligence, and benevolence which appears in their workmanship; but we can never be allowed to mount up from the universe, the effect, to Jupiter, the cause, and then descend downwards to infer any new effect from that cause. The knowledge of the cause being derived solely from the effect, they must be exactly adjusted to each other; and the one can never refer to anything farther.

I deny a Providence, you say, and Supreme Governor of the world, who guides the course of events and punishes the vicious with infamy and disappointment, and rewards the virtuous with honour and success in all their undertakings. But surely I deny not the course of events itself, which lies open to everyone's inquiry and examination. I acknowledge that, in the present order of things, virtue is attended with more peace of mind than vice, and meets with a more favourable reception from the world. I am sensible that, according to the past experience of mankind, friendship is the chief joy of human life, and moderation the only source of tranquillity and happiness. I never balance between the virtuous and the vicious life, but am sensible that, to a well-disposed mind, every advantage is on the side of the former. And what can you say more, allowing all your suppositions and reasonings?


The Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel Kant, the most celebrated of German metaphysicians, was born at Koenigsberg on April 22, 1724, and died on February 12, 1804. Taking his degree at Koenigsberg, he speedily entered on a professional career, which he quietly and strenuously pursued for over thirty years. Though his lectures were limited to the topics with which he was concerned as professor of logic and philosophy, his versatility is evidenced by the fact that he was offered the chair of poetry, which he declined. His lasting reputation began with the publication, in 1781, of his wonderful "Critique of Pure Reason" ("Kritik der reinen Vernunft"). Within twelve years of its appearance it was expounded in all the leading universities, and even penetrated into the schools of the Church of Rome. Kant was the first European thinker who definitely grasped the conception of a critical philosophy, though he was doubtless aided by the tendency of Locke's psychology. He did much to counteract the sceptical influence of Hume. The main object of his "Critique of Pure Reason" is to separate the necessary and universal in the realm of knowledge from the merely experimental or empirical. This little version of Kant's celebrated work has been prepared from the German text.

I.—Knowledge Transcendental: AEsthetic

Experience is something of which we are conscious. It is the first result of our comprehension, but it is not the limit of our understanding, since it stimulates our faculty of reason, but does not satisfy its desire for knowledge. While all our knowledge may begin with sensible impressions or experience, there is an element in it which does not rise from this source, but transcends it. That knowledge is transcendental which is occupied not so much with mere outward objects as with our manner of knowing those objects, that is to say, with our a priori concepts of them. All our knowledge is either a priori or a posteriori. That is a posteriori knowledge which is derived from sensible experience as including sensible impressions or states; while a priori knowledge is that which is not thus gained, but consists of whatever is universal or necessary. A complete "Transcendental Philosophy" would be a systematic exposition of all that is a priori in human knowledge, or of "all the principles of pure reason." But a "Critique of Pure Reason" cannot include all this. It can do little more than deal with the synthetic element or quality in a priori knowledge, as distinguished from the analytic element.

We perceive objects through our sensibility which furnishes us, as our faculty of receptivity, with those intuitions that become translated into thought by means of the understanding. This is the origin of our conceptions, or ideas. I denominate as matter that which in a phenomenon corresponds to sensation; while I call form that quality of matter which presents it in a perceived order. Only matter is presented to our minds a posteriori; as to form, this must inevitably exist in the mind a priori, and therefore it can be considered apart from all sensation.

Pure representation, entirely apart from sensation, in a transcendental signification, forms the pure intuition of the mind, existing in it as a mere form of sensibility. Transcendental aesthetic is the science of all the principles of sensibility. But transcendental logic is the science of the principles of pure thought. In studying the former we shall find that there are two pure forms of sensuous intuition, namely, space and time.

Are space and time actual entities? Or are they only relations of things? Space is simply the form of all the phenomena of external senses; that is, it is the subjective condition of the sensibility under which alone external intuition is possible. Thus, the form of all phenomena may exist a priori in the soul as a pure intuition previous to all experience. So we can only speak of space and of extended objects from the standpoint of human reason. But when we have abstracted all the forms perceived by our sensibility, there remains a pure intuition which we call space. Therefore our discussion teaches us the objective validity of space with regard to all that can appear before us externally as an object; but equally the subjective ideality of space, with regard to things if they are considered in themselves by our reason, that is, without taking into account the nature of our sensibility.

Time is not empirically conceived of; that is, it is not experimentally apprehended. Time is a necessary representation on which all intuitions are dependent, and the representation of time to the mind is thus given a priori. In it alone can phenomena be apprehended. These may vanish, but time cannot be put aside.

Time is not something existing by itself independently, but is the formal condition a priori of all phenomena. If we deduct our own peculiar sensibility, then the idea of time disappears indeed, because it is not inherent in any object, but only in the subject which perceives that object. Space and time are essential a priori ideas, and they are the necessary conditions of all particular perceptions. From the latter and their objects we can, in imagination, without exception, abstract; from the former we cannot.

Space and time are therefore to be regarded as the necessary a priori pre-conditions of the possibility and reality of all phenomena. It is clear that transcendental aesthetic can obtain only these two elements, space and time, because all other concepts belong to the senses and pre-suppose experience, and so imply something empirical. For example, the concept of motion pre-supposes something moving, but in space regarded alone there is nothing that moves; therefore, whatever moves must be recognised by experience, and is a purely empirical datum.

II.—Transcendental Logic

Our knowledge is derived from two fundamental sources of the consciousness. The first is the faculty of receptivity of impressions; the second, the faculty of cognition of an object by means of these impressions or representations, this second power being sometimes styled spontaneity of concepts. By the first, an object is given to us; by the second it is thought of in the mind. Thus intuition and concepts constitute the elements of our entire knowledge, for neither intuition without concepts, nor concepts without intuition, can yield any knowledge whatever. Hence arise two branches of science, aesthetic and logic, the former being the science of the rules of sensibility; the latter, the science of the rules of the understanding.

Logic can be treated in two directions: either as logic of the general use of the understanding, or of some particular use of it. The former includes the rules of thought, without which there can be no use of the understanding; but it has no regard to the objects to which the understanding is applied. This is elementary logic. But logic of the understanding in some particular use includes rules of correct thought in relation to special classes of objects; and this latter logic is generally taught in schools as preliminary to the study of sciences.

Thus, general logic takes no account of any of the contents of knowledge, but is limited simply to the consideration of the forms of thought. But we are constrained by anticipation to form an idea of a logical science which has to deal not only with pure thought, but also has to determine the origin, validity, and extent of the knowledge to which intuitions relate, and this science might be styled transcendental logic.

In transcendental aesthetic we isolated the faculty of sensibility. So in transcendental logic we isolate the understanding, concentrating our consideration on that element of thought which has its source simply in the understanding. But transcendental logic must be divided into transcendental analytic and transcendental dialectic. The former is a logic of truth, and is intended to furnish a canon of criticism. When logic is used to judge not analytically, but to judge synthetically of objects in general, it is called transcendental dialectic, which serves as a protection against sophistical fallacy.


The understanding may be defined as the faculty of judging. The function of thought in a judgment can be brought under four heads, each with three subdivisions.

1. Quantity of judgments: Universal, particular, singular.

2. Quality: Affirmative, negative, infinite.

3. Relation: Categorical, hypothetical, disjunctive.

4. Modality: Problematical, assertory, apodictic [above contradiction].

If we examine each of these forms of judgment we discover that in every one is involved some peculiar idea which is its essential characteristic. Thus, a singular judgment, in which the subject of discourse is a single object, involves obviously the special idea of oneness, or unity. A particular judgment, relating to several objects, implies the idea of plurality, and discriminates between the several objects. Now, the whole list of these ideas will constitute the complete classification of the fundamental conceptions of the understanding, regarded as the faculty which judges, and these may be called categories.

1. Of Quantity: Unity, plurality, totality.

2. Of Quality: Reality, negation, limitation.

3. Of Relation: Substance and accident, cause and effect, action and reaction.

4. Of Modality: Possibility—impossibility, existence—non-existence, necessity—contingence.

These, then, are the fundamental, primary, or native conceptions of the understanding, which flow from, or constitute the mechanism of, its nature; are inseparable from its activity; and are hence, for human thought, universal and necessary, or a priori. These categories are "pure" conceptions of the understanding, inasmuch as they are independent of all that is contingent in sense.


A distinction is usually made between what is immediately known and what is only inferred. It is immediately known that in a figure bounded by three straight lines there are three angles, but that these angles together are equal to two right angles is only inferred. In every syllogism is first a fundamental proposition; secondly, another deduced from it; and, thirdly, the consequence.

In the use of pure reason its concepts, or transcendental ideas, aim at unity of all conditions of thought. So all transcendental ideas may be arranged in three classes; the first containing the unity of the thinking subject; the second, the unity of the conditions of phenomena observed; the third, the unity of the objective conditions of thought.

This classification becomes clear if we note that the thinking subject is the object-matter of psychology; while the system of all phenomena (the world) is the object-matter of cosmology; and the Being of all Beings (God) is the object-matter of theology.

Hence we perceive that pure reason supplies three transcendental ideas, namely, the idea of a transcendental science of the soul (psychologia rationalis); of a transcendental science of the world (cosmologia rationalis); and, lastly, of a transcendental science of God (theologia transcendentalis). It is the glory of transcendental idealism that by it the mind ascends in the series of conditions till it reaches the unconditioned, that is, the principles. We thus progress from our knowledge of self to a knowledge of the world, and through it to a knowledge of the Supreme Being.

III.—The Antinomies of Pure Reason

Transcendental reason attempts to reconcile conflicting assertions. There are four of these antinomies, or conflicts.

FIRST ANTINOMY. Thesis. The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited in regard to space. Proof. Were the world without a time-beginning we should have to ascribe a present limit to that which can have no limit, which is absurd. Again, were the world not limited in regard to space, it must be conceived as an infinite whole, yet it is impossible thus to conceive it.

Antithesis. The world has neither beginning in time, nor limit in space, but in both regards is infinite. Proof. The world must have existed from eternity, or it could never exist at all. If we imagine it had a beginning, we must imagine an anterior time when nothing was. But in such time the origin of anything is impossible. At no moment could any cause for such a beginning exist.

SECOND ANTINOMY. Thesis. Every composite substance in the world is composed of simple parts. This thesis seems scarcely to require proof. No one can deny that a composite substance consists of parts, and that these parts, if themselves composite, must consist of others less composite, till at length we come, by compulsion of thought, to the conception of the absolutely simple as that wherein the substantial consists.

Antithesis. No composite thing in the world consists of simple parts, and nothing simple exists anywhere in the world. Proof. Each simple part implied in the thesis must be in space. But this condition is a positive disproof of their possibility. A simple substance would have to occupy a simple portion of space; but space has no simple parts. The supposition of such a part is the supposition, not of space, but of the negation of space. A simple substance, in existing and occupying any portion of space, must contain a real multiplicity of parts external to each other, i.e., it must contradict its own nature, which is absurd.

THIRD ANTINOMY. Thesis. The causality of natural law is insufficient for the explanation of all the phenomena of the universe. For this end another kind of causality must be assumed, whose attribute is freedom. Proof. All so-called natural causes are effects of preceding causes, forming a regressive series of indefinite extent, with no first beginning. So we never arrive at an adequate cause of any phenomenon. Yet natural law has for its central demand that nothing shall happen without such a cause.

Antithesis. All events in the universe occur under the exclusive operation of natural laws, and there is no such thing as freedom. Proof. The idea of a free cause is an absurdity. For it contradicts the very law of causation itself, which demands that every event shall be in orderly sequence with some preceding event. Now, free causation is such an event, being the active beginning of a series of phenomena. Yet the action of the supposed free cause must be imagined as independent of all connection with any previous event. It is without law or reason, and would be the blind realisation of confusion and lawlessness. Therefore transcendental freedom is a violation of the law of causation, and is in conflict with all experience. We must of necessity acquiesce in the explanation of all phenomena by the operation of natural law, and thus transcendental freedom must be pronounced a fallacy.

FOURTH ANTINOMY. Thesis. Some form of absolutely necessary existence belongs to the world, whether as its part or as its cause. Proof. Phenomenal existence is serial, mutable, consistent. Every event is contingent upon a preceding condition. The conditioned pre-supposes, for its complete explanation, the unconditioned. The whole of past time, since it contains the whole of all past conditions, must of necessity contain the unconditioned or also "absolutely necessary."

Antithesis. There is no absolutely necessary existence, whether in the world as its part, or outside of it as its cause. Proof. Of unconditionally necessary existence within the world there can be none. The assumption of a first unconditioned link in the chain of cosmical conditions is self-contradictory. For such link or cause, being in time, must be subject to the law of all temporal existence, and so be determined—contrary to the original assumption—by another link or cause before it.

The supposition of an absolutely necessary cause of the world, existing without the world, also destroys itself. For, being outside the world, it is not in time. And yet, to act as a cause, it must be in time. This supposition is therefore absurd.

The theses in these four antinomies constitute the teaching of philosophical dogmatism. The antitheses constitute doctrines of philosophical empiricism.

IV.—Criticism of the Chief Arguments for the Existence of God

The ontological argument aims at asserting the possibility of conceiving the idea of an ens realissimum, of being possessed of all reality. But the idea of existence and the fact of existence are two very different things. Whatever I conceive, or sensibly imagine, I necessarily conceive as though it were existing. Though my pocket be empty, I may conceive it to contain a "hundred thalers." If I conceive them there, I can only conceive them as actually existing there. But, alas, the fact that I am under this necessity of so conceiving by no means carries with it a necessity that the coins should really be in my pocket. That can only be determined by experience.

The cosmological argument contends that if anything exists, there must also exist an absolutely necessary being. Now, at least I myself exist. Hence there exists an absolutely necessary being. The argument coincides with that by which the thesis of the fourth antinomy is supposed. The objections to it are summed up in the proof of the antithesis of the fourth antimony. As soon as we have recognised the true conception of causality, we have already transcended the sensible world.

The physico-theological or teleological argument is what is often styled the argument from design. It proceeds not from general, but particular experience. Nature discloses manifold signs of wise intention and harmonious order, and these are held to betoken a divine designer. This argument deserves always to be treated with respect. It is the oldest and clearest of all proofs, and best adapted to convince the reason of the mass of mankind. It animates us in our study of nature. And it were not only a cheerless, but an altogether vain task to attempt to detract from the persuasive authority of this proof. There is nought to urge against its rationality and its utility.

All arguments, however, to prove the existence of God must, in order to be theoretically valid, start from specifically and exclusively sensible or phenomenal data, must employ only the conceptions of pure physical science, and must end with demonstrating in sensible experience an object congruous with, or corresponding to, the idea of God. But this requirement cannot be met, for, scientifically speaking, the existence of an absolutely necessary God cannot be either proved or disproved. Hence room is left for faith in any moral proofs that may present themselves to us, apart from science. With this subject ethics, the science of practice or of practical reason, will have to deal.

The Critique of Practical Reason

Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason" ("Kritik der praktischen Vernunft"), published in 1788, is one of the most striking disquisitions in the whole range of German metaphysical literature. One of its paragraphs has alone sufficed to render it famous. The passage concerning the starry heavens and the moral law as the two transcendently overwhelming phenomena of the universe is, perhaps, more frequently quoted than any other written by a German author. This is the treatise which forms the central focus of Kant's thinking. It stands midway between the "Critique of Pure Reason" and the "Critique of Judgment." Herein Kant takes up the position of a vindicator of the truth of Christianity, approaching his proof of its validity and authority by first establishing positive affirmations of the immortality of the soul and the existence of God. It also includes a theory of happiness, and an argument concerning the summum bonum of life, the special aim being to demonstrate that man should not simply seek to be happy, but should, by absolute obedience to the moral law, seek to become worthy of that happiness which God can bestow.

I.—Analytic of Practical Reason

Practical principles are propositions containing a general determination of the will. They are maxims, or subjective propositions, when expressing the will of an individual; objective, when they are valid expressions of the will of rational beings generally.

Practical principles which pre-suppose an object of desire are empirical, or experimental, and supply no practical laws. Reason, in the scope of a practical law, influences the will not by the medium of pleasure or pain. All rational beings necessarily wish for happiness, but they are not all agreed either as to the means to attain it, or as to the objects of their enjoyment of it. Thus, subjective practical principles can only be reckoned as maxims, never as law.

A rational being ought not to conceive that his individual maxims are calculated to constitute universal laws, and to become the basis of universal legislation. To discover any law which would bring all men into harmony is absolutely impossible.

One of the problems of practical reason is to find the law which can necessarily determine the will, assuming that the will is free. The solution of this problem is to be found in action according to the moral law. We should so act that the maxim of our will can always be valid as a principle of universal legislation. Experience shows how the moral consciousness determines freedom of the will.

Suppose that someone affirms of his inclination for sensual pleasure that he cannot possibly resist temptation to indulgence. If a gallows were erected at the place where he is tempted, on which he should be hanged immediately after satiating his passions, would he not be able to control his inclination? We need not long doubt what would be his answer.

But ask him, if his sovereign commanded him to bear false witness against an honourable man, under penalty of death, whether he would hold it possible to conquer his love of life. He might not venture to say what he would choose, but he would certainly admit that it is possible to make choice. Thus, he judges that he can choose to do a thing because he is conscious of moral obligation, and he thus recognises for himself a freedom of will of which, but for the moral law, he would never have been conscious.

We obtain the exact opposite of the principle of morality if we adopt the principle of personal private happiness as the determining motive of the will. This contradiction is not only logical, but also practical. For morality would be totally destroyed were not the voice of reason as clear and penetrating in relation to the will, even to the most ordinary men.

If one of your friends, after bearing false witness against you, attempted to justify his base conduct by enumerating the advantages which he had thus secured for himself and the happiness he had gained, and by declaring that thus he performed a true human duty, you would either laugh him to scorn or turn from him in horror. And yet, if a man acts for his own selfish ends, you have not the slightest objection to such behaviour.


The maxim of self-love simply advises; the law of morality commands. There is a vast difference between what we are advised and what we are obliged to do. No practical laws can be based on the principle of happiness, even on that of universal happiness, for the knowledge of this happiness rests on merely empirical or experimental data, every man's ideas of it being conditioned only on his individual opinion. Therefore, this principle of happiness cannot prescribe rules for all rational beings.

But the moral law demands prompt obedience from everyone, and thus even the most ordinary intelligence can discern what should be done. Everyone has power to comply with the dictates of morality, but even with regard to any single aim it is not easy to satisfy the vague precept of happiness. Nothing could be more absurd than a command that everyone should make himself happy, for one never commands anyone to do what he inevitably wishes to do. Finally, in the idea of our practical reason, there is something which accompanies the violation of a moral law—namely, its demerit, with the consciousness that punishment is a natural consequence. Therefore, punishment should be connected in the idea of practical reason with crime, as a consequence of the crime, by the principles of moral legislation.


The practical material principles of determination constituting the basis of morality may be thus classified.

1. Subjective

External: Education; the civil constitution. Internal: Physical feeling; moral feeling.

2. Objective

Internal: Perfection. External: Will of God.

The subjective elements are all experimental, or empirical, and cannot supply the universal principle of morality, though they are expounded in that sense by such writers as Montaigne, Mandeville, Epicurus, and Hutcheson.

But the objective elements, as enunciated and expounded by Wolf and the Stoics, and by Crusius and other theological moralists, are founded on reason, for absolute perfection as a quality of things (that is, God Himself) can only be thought of by rational concepts.

The conception of perfection in a practical sense is the adequacy of a thing for various ends. As a human quality (and so internal) this is simply talent, and what completes it is skill. But supreme perfection in substance, that is, God Himself, and therefore external (considered practically), is the adequacy of this being for all purposes. All these principles above classified are material, and so can never furnish the supreme moral law. For even the Divine will can supply a motive in the human mind because of the expectation of happiness from it.

Therefore, the formal practical principle of the pure reason insists that the mere form of a universal legislation must constitute the ultimate determining principle of the will. Here is the only possible practical principle which is sufficient to furnish categorical imperatives, that is, practical laws which make action a duty.

It follows from this analytic that pure reason can be practical. It can determine the will independently of all merely experimental elements.

There is a remarkable contrast between the working of the pure speculative reason and that of the pure practical reason. In the former—as was shown in the treatise on that subject—a pure, sensible intuition of time and space made knowledge possible, though only of objects of the senses.

On the contrary, the moral law brings before us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any of the data of the world of sense. And the entire range of our theoretical use of reason indicates a pure world of understanding, which even positively determines it, and enables us to know something of it—namely, a law.

We must observe the distinction between the laws of a system of nature to which the will is subject, and of a system of nature which is subject to the will. In the former, the objects cause the ideas which determine the will; in the latter, the objects are caused by the will. Hence, causality of the will has its determining principle exclusively in the faculty of pure reason, which may, therefore, also be called a pure practical reason.

The moral law is a law of the causality through freedom, and therefore of the possibility of a super-sensible system of nature. It determines the will by imposing on its maxim the condition of a universal legislative form, and thus it is able for the first time to impart practical reality to reason, which otherwise would continue to be transcendent when seeking to proceed speculatively with its ideas.

Thus the moral law induces a stupendous change. It changes the transcendent use of reason into the immanent use. And in result reason itself becomes, by its ideas, an efficient cause in the field of experience.


It may be said of David Hume that he initiated the attack on pure reason. My own labours in the investigation of this subject were occasioned by his sceptical teaching, for his assault made them necessary. He argued that without experience it is impossible to know the difference between one thing and another; that is, we can know a priori, and, therefore, the notion of a cause is fictitious and illusory, arising only from the habit of observing certain things associated with each in succession of connections.

On such principles we can never come to any conclusion as to causes and effects. We can never predict a consequence from any of the known attributes of things. We can never say of any event that it must necessarily have followed from another; that is, that it must have had an antecedent cause. And we could never lay down a rule derived even from the greatest number of observations. Hence we must trust entirely to blind chance, abolishing all reason, and such a surrender establishes scepticism in an impregnable citadel.

Mathematics escaped Hume, because he considered that its propositions were analytical, proceeding from one determination to another, by reason of identity contained in each. But this is not really so, for, on the contrary, they are synthetical, the results depending ultimately on the assent of observers as witnesses to the universality of propositions. So Hume's empiricism leads inevitably to scepticism even in this realm.

My investigations led me to the conclusion that the objects with which we are familiar are by no means things in themselves, but are simply phenomena, connected in a certain way with experience. So that without contradiction they cannot be separated from that connection. Only by that experience can they be recognised. I was able to prove the objective reality of the concept of cause in regard to objects of experience, and to demonstrate its origin from pure understanding, without experimental or empirical sources.

Thus, I first destroyed the source of scepticism, and then the resulting scepticism itself. And thus was subverted the thorough doubt as to whatever theoretic reason claims to perceive, as well as the claim of Hume that the concept of causality involved something absolutely unthinkable.


By a concept of practical reason, I understand the representation to the mind of an object as an effect possible to be produced through freedom. The only objects of practical reason are good and evil. For by "good" we understand an object necessarily abhorred, the principle of reason actuating the mind in each case.

In the common use of language we uniformly distinguish between the "good" and the "pleasant," the "evil" and the "unpleasant," good and evil being judged by reason alone. The judgment on the relation, of means to ends certainly belongs to reason. But "good" or "evil" always implies only a reference to the "will," as resolved by the law of reason, to make something its object.

Thus good and evil properly relate to actions, not to personal sensations. So, if anything is to be reckoned simply good or evil, it can only be so estimated by the way of acting. Hence, only the maxim of the will, and consequently the person himself, can be called good or evil, not the thing itself.

The Stoic was right, even though he might be laughed at, who during violent attacks of gout exclaimed, "Pain, I will never admit that thou art an evil!" What he felt was indeed what we call a bad thing; but he had no reason to admit that any evil attached thereby to himself, for the pain did not in the least detract from his personal worth, but only from that of his condition. If a single lie had been on his conscience it would have humiliated his soul; but pain seemed only to elevate it, when he was not conscious of having deserved it as a punishment for any unjust deed.

The rule of judgment subject to the laws of pure practical reason is this: Ask yourself whether if the action you propose were to happen by a natural system of law, of which you were yourself a part, you could regard it as possible by your own will? In fact, everyone does decide by this rule whether actions are morally good or evil.

II.—Dialectic of Practical Reason


Pure practical reason postulates the immortality of the soul, for reason in the pure and practical sense aims at the perfect good (summum bonum), and this perfect good is only possible on the supposition of the soul's immortality. It is the moral law which determines the will, and, in this will, the perfect harmony of the mind with the moral law, is the supreme condition of the summum bonum. The principle of the moral destination of our nature—that only by endless progress can we come into full harmony with the moral law—is of the greatest use, not only for fortifying the speculative reason, but also with respect to religion. In default of this, either the moral law is degraded from its holiness, being represented as indulging our convenience, or else men strain after an unattainable aim, hoping to gain absolute holiness of will, thus losing themselves in fanatical theosophic dreams utterly contradicting self-knowledge.

For a rational, but finite, being the only possibility is an endless progression from the lower to the higher degrees of perfection. The Infinite Being, to whom the time-condition is nothing, sees in this endless succession the perfect harmony with the moral law.


The pure practical reason must also postulate the existence of God as the necessary condition of the attainment of the summum bonum. As the perfect good can only be promoted by accordance of the will with the moral law, so also this summum bonum is possible only through the supremacy of an Infinite Being possessed of causality harmonising with morality. But the postulate of the highest derived good (sometimes denominated the best world) coincides with the postulate of a highest original good, or of the existence of God.

We now perceive why the Greeks could never solve their problem of the possibility of the summum bonum, because they made the freedom of the human will the only and all-sufficient ground of happiness, imagining there was no need for the existence of God for that end. Christianity alone affords an idea of the summum bonum which answers fully to the requirement of practical reason. That idea is the Kingdom of God.

The holiness which the Christian law requires makes essential an infinite progress. But just for that very reason it justifies in man the hope of endless existence. And it is only from an Infinite Supreme Being, morally perfect, holy, good, and with an omnipotent will, that we can hope, by accord with His will, to attain the summum bonum, which the moral law enjoins on us as our duty to seek ever to attain.

The moral law does not enjoin on us to render ourselves happy, but instructs us how to become worthy of happiness. Morality must never be regarded as a doctrine of happiness, or direction how to become happy, its province being to inculcate the rational condition of happiness, not the means of attaining it. God's design in creating the world is not primarily the happiness of the rational beings in it, but the summum bonum, which super-adds another condition to that desire of human beings, namely, the condition of deserving such happiness. That is to say, the morality of rational beings is a condition which alone includes the rule by observing which they can hope to participate in happiness at the hand of an all-wise Creator.

The highest happiness can only be conceived as possible under conditions harmonising with the divine holiness. Thus they are right who make the glory of God the chief end of creation. For beyond all else that can be conceived, that glorifies God which is the most estimable thing in the whole world, honour for His command and obedience to His law, when to this is added His glorious design to crown so beauteous an order of things with happiness corresponding.


Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe—the starry heavens above me, and the moral law within me. I need not search for them, and vaguely guess concerning them, as if they were veiled in darkness or hidden in the infinite altitude. I see them before me, and link them immediately with the consciousness of my existence. The former begins from the spot I occupy in the outer world of sense, and enlarges my connection with it to a boundless extent with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems.

The second begins from my invisible self, my personality, and places me in a truly infinite world traceable only by the understanding, with which I perceive I am in a universal and necessary connection, as I am also thereby with all those visible worlds.

This view infinitely elevates my value as an intelligence by my personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent of the animal and even the whole material world, and reaching by destiny into the infinite.

But though admiration may stimulate inquiry, it cannot compensate for the want of it. The contemplation of the world, beginning with the most magnificent spectacle possible, ended in astrology; and morality, beginning with the noblest attribute of human nature, ended in superstition. But after reason was applied to careful examination of the phenomena of nature a clear and unchangeable insight was secured into the system of the world. We may entertain the hope of a like good result in treating of the moral capacities of our nature by the help of the moral judgment of reason.


A History of Philosophy

George Henry Lewes, born in London on April 18, 1817, was the grandson of a famous Covent Garden comedian. As an actor, philosopher, novelist, critic, dramatist, journalist, man of science, Lewes played many parts in the life of his time, and some of them he played very well. George Eliot owed him a great deal; he turned her genius away from pure speculation, and directed it to its true province—fiction. Lewes was, in fact, an excellent critic, and it is by his splendid critical work, the "Biographical History of Philosophy," that he is now best remembered. In this remarkable book, which appeared in 1845-46, Lewes the novelist and the journalist collaborates with Lewes the philosopher and man of science. He has the rare art of making an abstruse subject clear and attractive; he does not give a dry summary of the ideas of the great thinkers, but depicts the living man and relates his way of life to his way of thinking. The result is that in his hands metaphysic becomes as interesting as history did in the hands of Macaulay.

I.—The Early Thinkers

It is the object of the present work to show how philosophy became a positive science; to indicate by what methods the human mind was enabled to conquer its present modicum of certain knowledge. The boldest and the grandest speculations came first. Man needed the stimulus of some higher reward than that of merely tracing the laws of phenomena. Nothing but a solution of the mystery of the universe could content him. Astronomy was derived from astrology: chemistry from alchemy, and physiology from auguries. The position occupied by philosophy in the history of mankind is that of the great initiative to positive science. It was the forlorn hope of mankind, and though it perished in its efforts, it did not perish without having led the way to victory.

Thales, who was born at Miletus, in Asia Minor, and flourished in 585 B.C., is justly considered the father of Greek speculation. The step he took was small but decisive. He opened the physiological inquiry into the constitution of the universe. Seeing around him constant transformations—birth and death, change of shape, of size, and of mode of being, he could not regard any one of these variable states of existence as existence itself. He therefore asked, What is the beginning of things? Finding that all things were nourished by moisture, he declared that moisture was the principle of everything. He was mistaken, of course, but he was the first man to furnish a formula from which to reason deductively.

Anaximenes (550 B.C.) pursued the method of Thales, but he was not convinced of the truth of his master's doctrine. He thought that the air was the prime, universal element, from which all things were produced and into which all things were resolved. Diogenes of Apollonia adopted the idea of Anaximenes, but gave a deeper significance to it. The older thinker conceived the vital air as a kind of soul; the younger man conceived the soul as a kind of air—an invisible force, permeating and actuating everything. This attribution of intelligence to the primal power or matter was certainly a progress in speculation; but another line of thought was struck out by Anaximander of Miletus, who had been a friend of Thales. He was passionately addicted to mathematics, and a great many inventions are ascribed to him; among others, the sun-dial and the geographical map.

In his view, any one single thing could not be all things, and in his famous saying, "The infinite is the origin of all things," he introduced into metaphysics an abstract conception in place of the inadequate concrete principles of Thales and his disciples. Pythagoras was a contemporary of Anaximander, and, like him, one of the great founders of mathematics. He held that the only permanent reality in the cosmos was the principle of order and harmony, which prevented the universe from becoming a blank, unintelligible chaos; and he expressed this idea in his mystic doctrine: "Numbers are the cause of the material existence of things." The movement which he spread by means of a vast, secret confraternity ended, however, in a barren symbolism, and it is impossible to trace what relation his strange theories of the transmigration of souls and the music of the spheres have to his general system of thought.

Far more influence on the progress of speculation was exercised by Xenophanes of Colophon. Driven by the Persian invasion of 546 B.C. to earn his living as a wandering minstrel, he developed the ideas of Anaximander, and founded the school of great philosophic poets, to which Parmenides, Empedocles and Lucretius belong. He is the grand monotheist, and he has published his doctrines in his verses:

There is one God alone, the greatest of spirits and mortals, Neither in body to mankind resembling, neither in ideas.

Shelley's line: "The One remains, the Many change and pass," sums up the teaching of the line of thinkers which culminated in Plato. In their view, knowledge derived from the senses was fallacious because it touched only the diverse and changing appearances of things; absolute knowledge of the one abiding spiritual reality could, they held, only be obtained by the exercise of spiritual faculty of reason, which, unlike the animal power of sense, is the same in all men. One of the philosophers of this school, Zeno of Elea, was the inventor of the dialectic method of logic, which Socrates and Plato used with so tremendous an effect.

Anaxagoras, however, attempted to reconcile the evidence of the sense with the dictates of the reason. He was the first philosopher to settle in Athens, and Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates were among his pupils. He was extraordinarily modern in many of his ideas. He held that the matter of knowledge was derived through the senses, but that reason regulated and verified it, and he carried this dualism into his conception of the universe, which he represented as a manifestation of a Divine intelligence, acting through invariable laws, but in no way confused with the matter acted on.

His successor, Democritus, adopted his theory of the origin of knowledge, and by applying it to the problem of the One and the Many, produced the most striking of ancient anticipations of modern science. He regarded the world as something made up of invisible particles, each absolutely similar to the other; these formed the essential unity which could be grasped only by the reason, but by their various combinations and arrangements they brought about the apparent multiplicity of objects which the senses perceived. Such was the foundation of the atomic theory of Democritus. He conceived the atom as a centre of force, and not as a particle having weight and material qualities. As, however, his hypothesis was purely a metaphysical one, it did not lead to any of the discoveries which have followed on the establishment of the modern scientific theory, which was arrived at in a different way, and has a different signification. Democritus also threw out in vague outline the idea of gravitation. But this was not science: it was guess-work; it afforded no ground on which the fabric of verified knowledge could be erected, and no sure method of obtaining this knowledge.

II.—The School of Socrates

It was against the vain and premature hypotheses of the physiologists of his day that the greatest and noblest intellect in Greece revolted. Socrates was the knight-errant of philosophy.

It was his confessed aim and purpose to withdraw the mind from the contemplation of the phenomena of nature, and fix it on its own phenomena. "I have not leisure for physical speculations," he said, with characteristic irony, "and I will tell you why: I am not yet able, according to the Delphic inscription, to know myself, and it seems to me very ridiculous, while ignorant of myself, to inquire into what I am not concerned in." Weary of disputes about the origin of the universe, he turned to the one field in which the current method of abstract reasoning could be fruitfully applied—the field of ethics.

Living in an age of wild sophistry, he endeavoured to steady and enlighten the conscience of men by establishing right principles of conduct. His method of proceeding by definitions and analogy has been misapplied, but in his hands it was a powerful instrument in discovering and marking out a new field of inquiry. His religious genius, the ideal character of his ethics, and the heroic character of his life, have been his great titles to fame, but it is his method which gives him his high position in the history of philosophy.

The method of Socrates was adopted and enlarged by the most famous of all ancient writers. Aristocles, surnamed Plato (the broad-browed), was a brilliant young Athenian aristocrat who turned from poetry to philosophy on meeting, in his twentieth year, with Socrates. After travelling abroad in search of knowledge, he returned to Athens and founded his world-renowned Academy there in 387 B.C. With vast learning and puissant method, he created an influence which is not yet extinct Plato was the culminating point of Greek philosophy.

In his works all the various and conflicting tendencies of preceding eras were collected under one method. This method was doubtless the method of Socrates, but much extended and improved. Socrates relied on definitions and analogical reasoning as the principles of investigation. Plato used these arts, but he added to them the more scientific processes of analysis, generalisation, and classification.

In regard to his system of thought, Plato was a realist. He believed that ideas have a real existence, and that material things are only copies of the realities existing in the ideal world. He held that beauty, goodness, and wisdom are spiritual realities, from which all things beautiful, good, and wise derive their existence.

In his philosophy the universe is divided into the celestial region of ideas and the mundane region of material phenomena, answering to the modern conception of heaven and earth. As the phenomena of matter are but copies of ideas (not, as some suppose, the bodily realisation of them), there arises a question: How do ideas become matter? Plato gives two different explanations. In the "Republic" he says that God, instead of perpetually creating individual things, created a distinct type (idea) for each thing, and from this type all objects of the class are made. But in a later work, the "Timaeus," Plato takes another view of the origin of the world. Types are conceived as having existed from all eternity, and God, in fashioning cosmos out of chaos, fashioned it after the model of these eternal types.

Plato's conception of heaven and earth as two distinct regions is completed by his conception of the double nature of the soul; or, rather, of two souls, one rational and the other sensitive. The sensitive soul awakens the divine reminiscences of the rational soul; and the rational soul, by detecting the One in the Many, preserves man from the scepticism inevitably resulting from mere sense-knowledge.

Aristotle, who was born in 384 B.C., was Plato's pupil. He, however, completely broke away from his master's theory. He maintained that individual objects alone exist. But if only individual objects exist, only by the senses can they be known; and if we have only sense-knowledge, how can we arrive at the general truths on which both philosophy and science are founded? This was the problem which had led Plato to claim for ideas, or types of general truths, a higher origin than the intermittent and varying data of the senses.

Aristotle held that it could be solved in a natural way without the conception of an ideal world. In his view, ideas were obtained by induction. Sensation is the basis of all knowledge. But we have another faculty besides that of sensation; we have memory. Having perceived many objects, we remember our perceptions, and this enables us to discern wherein things differ and wherein they agree. Then, by means of the art of induction, we arrive at ideas. Aristotle's theory of induction is clearly explained by him: "Experience furnishes the principles of every science. Thus astronomy is grounded on observation. For if we were to observe properly the phenomena of the heavens, we might demonstrate the laws which regulate them. The same applies to other sciences." Had he always held before his eyes this conception of science, he would have anticipated Bacon—he would have been the Father of Positive Science. But he could not confine himself to experience, as there was not sufficient experience accumulated in his age from which to generalise with any effect. So he turned to logic as an instrument for investigating the mystery of existence, and by bringing physics and metaphysics together again, he paved the way for a new era—the era of scepticism.

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