Imágenes de páginas


To speak of the forces of nature may be proper and convenient, if such usage is not made to imply that these forces are merely physical mechanism. It is impossible that Nature in its form and content can be the created workmanship of God without it being a real and substantial expression of God's thought, and therefore, so far, spiritual. No man can find a single object within the range of his senses that is not full of thoughts and ideas. Apart from thought, Nature is nothing; but since the objects are there as matters of fact, they are there as thoughts, ideas, categories, middle terms of syllogisms; on the one side external and finite, on the other, internal and infinite. No matter in what form Being and Thought may be presented, they are a unity, and at bottom, one, manifested in infinite difference, in infinite variety --both one and many-in their action crossing and re-crossing boundlessly in every direction. The voice of Nature is manifesting itself in infinite variety of voices, notes and tones, yet none without a definite signification, all blending freely in glorious moral harmony. The painful jarring discords that prevail are caused by men refusing to hear the voice that speaks to them on all sides from heaven and earth. What thought is, contains the whole secret of universal gravitation.



The principle of what is properly named German philosophy had its origin in Kant's attempt to solve what is called the 'Problem of Hume,' viz. What is the universal and necessary principle in the essential unity of cause and effect? Kant stated the problem

thus: How are synthetic judgments à priori possible?' We must, however, more fully expound and criticize Kant's theory of the system of pure reason. Such criticism is necessary in order to see clearly the spiritual nature of the philosophy of Hegel and Stirling.

We have stated that, in reality, German philosophy had its origin with Kant, and that what we may name his Copernican metaphysic, as grounded in his transcendental logic, was the first dim recognition or suggestion that the real idea of force in Nature was spiritual, was thought, was Ego. He must in part have come to see that this was the case, even in mathematics and physical science. At any rate, he held that both possessed synthetical judgments à priori as principles which were named transcendental, and therefore were in essential relation to the transcendental unity of self-consciousness, for otherwise,' he said, 'they could not be thought, and would be nothing for me."



He says: 'A new light must have flashed on the mind of the first man who demonstrated the properties of the isosceles triangle,' and saw that he

must not attribute to the object any other properties than those which necessarily followed from that which he had placed in the object himself.' This discovery 'determined for all time the path which this science must follow.' So Kant considered 'a light broke upon all natural philosophers' when 'Gallei experimented with balls,' 'Torricelli with air,' and 'Stahl with metals.' Then, in like manner, he seems to have held that a new light flashed on the mind of Copernicus when he said to himself,

'Instead of looking for the explanation of the celestial movements by assuming that the heavenly bodies are revolving round the spectator, I will assume, contrary to the apparent testimony of the senses, that the spectator revolves, and, so far, regard the stars as being at rest.' He had long pondered on the question, though the new thought which flashed on his mind was the old idea of Pythagoras, the Grecian philosopher, who lived five centuries before Christ. With Pythagoras it was, however, only a guess, though based on the fitness of things. Up to that time all attempts to reduce the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars to a system such as reason demanded, had failed, because based on the supposition that all moved round the earth. But if the earth really revolved on its axis and also moved round the sun, though this was contrary to what the senses seemed to warrant, then all the demands of reason would be fully met.

This discovery, along with its exposition, demolished for ever the Ptolemaic theory of Astronomy, which theory shows how the evidence of the senses may be misinterpreted by a false method of reasoning. The error was not due to the senses, but to a defective conception of the true nature of reason.


In all ages men have more or less reasoned falsely through a lack of a true metaphysic of physics and of sense-objects in general. This lack became especially manifest in the reasoning of Hume, concerning the tie between cause and effect. If this 'tie,' as he held, could not be known, neither could the universal bond of nature be known. This seemed to involve the total overthrow, not only of metaphysics as a science, but also of the physical sciences; but

Kant was firmly convinced that 'metaphysics must be considered as an actual science, and if not as a science, then as a natural capability.' He says: 'To all men, as soon as reason has advanced to speculation, a metaphysic of some kind has always been and always will be.' He had become assured that metaphysics could be demonstrated to be a science as truly as any mathematical or physical science.

As a speculative science, the sure scientific method of metaphysics was unknown, or lay buried in the writings of Aristotle. A new light apparently flashed on the mind of Kant in relation to the science of metaphysics. This happy thought was that there seemed to be some analogy between the power or force by which the earth and the other planets constantly move round the sun and thought, as the universal formative and ruling power of all objects in Nature. Universal gravitation seemed to be the only explanation required by reason of the apparent movements of the heavenly bodies, so Kant asked himself, 'Why should not the science of logical thought (the I think) furnish the proper ground of the categories, and, at the same time, be the power that 'prescribes laws à priori to Nature?' An explanation of Nature and of the general laws of motion would then be fundamentally metaphysical without in any way excluding the physical and mathematical.


He also asks, Why has metaphysics not hitherto found the sure path of science? He replies, because it has been assumed that our cognition must conform to the objects which surround us. Let us assume, on the contrary, that the objects must conform to our cognition, and thought will then be the universal centre and quality of gravitation. Thus Kant vir

tually proposed to do for metaphysics, the science of reason, thought, or The Ego, or if you will, the science of Nature, what Copernicus had done for the science of astronomy. (It will be noticed, however, that Kant viewed mathematics, physics (or natural philosophy), logic and metaphysics, as four absolutely independent sciences, nay, independent existences.) Be this as it may, he suggested a universal metaphysical gravitation as the essential nature or basis of a universal physical gravitation, and in his way endeavoured to give it a logical basis. He did not, however, carry out this grand conception of a metaphysic of Nature to its logical issue. He failed to do so because he held that a system of pure reason could not be considered necessarily a doctrine, or an 'organon' of reason, or a complete system of philosophy. He divided Logic, the science of Thought, into general and transcendental logic, but they were both false because he failed to see that the science of metaphysics is neither more nor less than the science of concrete logical thought, in other words, the universal science of Concrete Logic. He says, Logic advanced in a sure course from the earliest times,' while metaphysics, he declares, 'has remained in a vacillating condition'; again, ‘metaphysics, a purely speculative science, occupies a completely isolated position,' and 'is entirely independent of the teachings of experience.' The fact is, no science is independent of experience, and every particular experience involves the universality of reason-thought in all matters of sense. The particular contains the universal and the universal the particular. Thus with Kant, metaphysics is isolated at once from physics, mathematics, and sound logic, so from the standpoint of his critical philosophy, the problem of 'How are à priori synthetic judgments

« AnteriorContinuar »