Part 3 out of 3
gorilla," on the other side he is a mystic animal, and that in "a double
nature, mysterious hymen," as Hugo wrote, lay the explanation of all the
baseness in ideas and actions as well as all the sublimity in ideas and
actions of humanity. Personally he was a Stoic and his practice was the
continuous development of the intelligence regarded as the condition and
guarantee of morality.
RENAN.--Renan, destined for the ecclesiastical profession and always
preserving profound traces of his clerical education, was, nevertheless, a
Positivist and believed only in science, hoping everything from it in youth
and continuing to venerate it at least during his mature years. Thus
formed, a "Christian Positivist," as has been said, as well as a poet above
all else, he could not proscribe metaphysics and had a weakness for them
with which perhaps he reproached himself. He extricated himself from this
difficulty by declaring all metaphysical conceptions to be only "dreams,"
but sheltered, so to say, by this concession he had made and this
precaution he had taken, he threw himself into the dream with all his heart
and reconstituted God, the immortal soul, the future existence, eternity
and creation, giving them new, unforeseen, and fascinating names. It was
only the idea of Providence--that is, of the particular and circumstantial
intervention of God in human affairs, which was intolerable to him and
against which he always protested, quoting the phrase of Malebranche, "God
does not act by particular wills." And yet he paid a compliment, which
seems sincere, to the idea of grace, and if there be a particular and
circumstantial intervention by God in human affairs, it is certainly grace
according to all appearances.
He was above all an amateur of ideas, a dilettante in ideas, toying with
them with infinite pleasure, like a superior Greek sophist, and in all
French philosophy no one calls Plato to mind more than he does.
He possessed a charming mind, a very lofty character, and was a marvellous
TO-DAY.--The living French philosophers whom we shall content
ourselves with naming because they are living and receive contemporary
criticism rather than that of history, are MM. Fouillee, Theodule Ribot,
Liard, Durckheim, Izoulet, and Bergson.
THE FUTURE OF PHILOSOPHY.--It is impossible to forecast in what
direction philosophy will move. The summary history we have been able to
trace sufficiently shows, as it seems to us, that it has no regular advance
such that by seeing how it has progressed one can conjecture what path it
will pursue. It seems in no sense to depend, or at all events, to depend
remarkably little, at any period, on the general state of civilization
around it, and even for those who believe in a philosophy of history there
is not, as it appears to me, a philosophy of the history of philosophy. The
only thing that can be affirmed is that philosophy will always exist in
response to a need of the human mind, and that it will always be both an
effort to gather scientific discoveries into some great general ideas and
an effort to go beyond science and to seek as it can the meaning of the
universal enigma; so that neither philosophy, properly speaking, nor even
metaphysics will ever disappear. Nietzsche has said that life is valuable
only as the instrument of knowledge. However eager humanity may be and
become for branches of knowledge, it will be always passionately and
indefatigably anxious about complete knowledge.
INDEX OF NAMES
Ailly, Peter d'
Alexander the Great
Champeaux, William of
Charles the Bald
Christina of Sweden
Clement, St., of Alexandria
Durand de Saint-Pourcain
Hugo de Saint-Victor
Joan of Navarre
Maine de Biran
Ockham, William of
Philips the Fair
Pico della Mirandola
Pliny the Younger
Richard de Saint-Victor
Rousseau, J. J.
Thomas Aquinas, St.
Vincent of Beauvais
William of Auvergne
Zeno (of Citium)
Zeno (of Elea)