Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

spective and independent of what is given in experience, the conceptions above named-conceptions which sustain the relation of logical antecedents to no empirical cognitions whatever, and that the chief investigations of Reason pertain to these conceptions. Here lies the great error of this philosopher. From this single assumption flow out the most important peculiarities of his philosophy, together with all the wild vagaries of Transcendentalisin. If these ideas are in the mind as logical antecedents of no empirical intuitions whatever, they are there as splendid conceptions to be sure, but with no claims whatever to objective validity—with no evidence that any corresponding realities exist. Yet as laws of thought, they determine our Understanding-conceptions pertaining to ourselves, the external universe, and the origin of each. Such notions, therefore, as far as they depend upon and receive their character from these ideas, have no claim to objective validity. They are realities to us, simply and exclusively because our Intelligence, by virtue of its own inherent laws, has made them, relatively to ourselves, what they appear to be. Further, if these ideas of Reason exist in the Mind thus independent of experience, and at the same time exist there as regulative principles of experience-conceptions, should we not suppose, and does it not follow as a logical consequent, that all other a priori ideas have the same characteristics, and sustain the same relation to experiencesuch ideas, for example, as those of time, space, cause, and substance ?

These last ideas have the same characteristics of universality and necessity as those of God, Liberty, and Immortality; and, as laws of thought, sustain precisely the same relations to all Understanding-conceptions. All a priori ideas, therefore, exist in the Intelligence without any claim to objective validity. As those ideas, also, as laws of thought, determine the character of all Understanding-conceptions, these last are alike destitute of any claim to objective validity. Neither ourselves, nor the external world, nor that which our Intelligence gives us, as the cause of each, " are what we take them to be.” They are all mere fictions of our Intelligence. Such Kant himself denominates them. Since this philosopher passed off the stage, his successors, such as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, have been laboring to build up the fabric of human knowledge upon the assumption above named, all agreeing in laying the foundation of their

glorious temple upon “airy nothing,” upon the wise assumption, that the very temple they were building with so much toil and trouble was not “what they took it to be.” Such, however, is the logical consequence of the assumption on which all their conclusions rest.

On the other hand, if we conceive the entire action of Reason to be in fixed correlation, in the first instance, to the intuitions of Sense and Consciousness, and in the second to Understanding-conceptions, giving the logical antecedents of such intuitions and conceptions, if we suppose that such intuitions and conceptions, in the order of actual development, precede the ideas to which they are respectively correlated, and are consequently unmodified by them, then we have an entirely different system of knowledge. On this topic I shall have occasion to speak again hereafter.

Classification of Mental Faculties. While the great principle which peculiarizes the system of Kant, and determines its destiny, is found to be a baseless assumption, his classification of the Intellectual faculties clearly designate him as one of the greatest analyzers of the human mind that has yet appeared. We will now proceed to a consideration of this subject. Knowledge, with us, commences not with judgments, but intuitions. This is evident from the fact that all judgments are composed of intuitions. Intuitions are of two classes, empirical, and a priori. The former also are subdivided as subjective and objective. This classification of intuitions gives us a threefold division of the primary faculties, or functions of the Intelligence, to wit, Sense, which gives us the qualities of external material substances—Consciousness, which gives us the qualities of the mind, or subjective phenomena--and Reason, which gives us intuitions a priori. This classification is sustained by phenomena fundamentally distinct from one another.

REMARKS UPON THE RELATIONS OF INTUITIONS TO ONE ANOTHER.

Before leaving the present subject it may be important to make a few remarks upon the relations of intuitions to one another, together with that of the faculties of intuition.

Intuitions cannot be opposed to each other. My first remark is, that intuitions can never be in contradiction to each other. The intuitions of Consciousness, for example, can never be in contradiction to those of Sense, inasmuch as the exclusive office of the former, under such circumstances, is to give to the mind itself, what the latter faculty has affirmed of its object. For similar reasons intuitions a priori can never contradict the empirical of either class, because a logical antecedent can never, from the nature of the case, be contradictory to that to which it sustains such a relation. How can the idea of time be in opposition to that of succession, or that of space to that of body, or the idea of phenomena be opposed to that of substance or cause ? Nor can an a priori or empirical intuition be in opposition to another of the same class. The idea of substance, for example, cannot be in opposition to that of space, time, or cause ; nor can the phenomena of extension be opposed to those of resistance or color. The same holds true in all other instances.

Different Intuition Faculties cannot contradict each other.

From the above principles the conclusion is irresistible, that the , affirmations of no one faculty of intuition can be opposed to the other intuitions of the same faculty ; nor can the intuitions of one faculty be opposed to the intuitions of another. For the same reasons it might be shown that, the affirmations of the primary and secondary faculties cannot be opposed to each other. These conclusions are so self-evident, that no remarks in confirmation are deemed requisite.

The logical Consequents of no one Intuition can be in Opposition to any primary Intuition, nor to the logical Consequents of the same.

Another conclusion is equally self-evident, to wit, That the logical consequents of no one intuition can be in opposition to any primary intuition, or to the logical consequents of the same. As the ideas of time, space, substance, cause, and of the infinite cannot be in contradiction to one another, nor to the intuitions of phenomena, so the logical consequents of any one of these ideas cannot be in contradiction to any other of these intuitions, or to the logical consequents of the same. If the ideas of substance and space, for example, are not contradictory to each other, how can the logical consequents of one contradict the other idea, or its logical consequents ? So in all other instances.

Error of Kant and Coleridge. We are now fully prepared to appreciate the theory of Kant, Coleridge, and the Transcendental school, generally, pertaining to the external world, or as Coleridge expresses it pertaining to the “presumption that there exist things without us." All these philosophers acknowledge, in the first instance, that through the faculty of Sense we have intuitions of the qualities of external material substances, and that by means of such intuitions together with the ideas of substance, cause, space, time, &c., the Intelligence gives us the external universe as a real existence. They then profess to find other intuitions of Reason, from which the necessary conclusion is, that the things which we envisage are not that in themselves for which we take them.” In other words, the logical consequents of one class of intuitions given by the Intelligence, are in opposition to other intuitions of the same Intelligence, and to the logical consequents of the same. Thus one series of intuitions devours others, together with all their consequents. The procedure of the Intelligence, according to this theory, very much resembles that of the serpent in the fable, who seizing his tail in his mouth finally succeeded in burying his entire body so completely in his own stomach, that it became wholly invisible. From the Intelligence in the first instance, proceed intuitions empirical and a priori, from which most logically result the apprehension, and knowledge of a vast and glorious universe of real existences. From the profound depths of the same Intelligence, then, there proceed other intuitions through which the entire and before conceived substantial system of knowledge

"Is melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of a vision,
The cloud-cap'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all that it inherit, are dissolved;
And like an unsubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a wreck behind.”

Most sublime philosophy that, surely! And after these voracious intuitions have devoured all others that were before them, together with their consequents, “ themselves still being so ill-favored that it cannot be known that they have eaten anything," it would be easy to find others by which these, in their turn, would be devoured, and so on

interminably. Indeed this is the necessary procedure of the Intelligence, according to the system under consideration. For if, as their system maintains, all other objects of knowledge " are not what we take them to be," we must of necessity conclude, that their system of philosophy is not what we or they take it to be. For the system itself is given by an Intelligence, which, as they maintain, does not give things as they are, or as this same Intelligence“ takes them to be.”

On what then does this whole theory rest ? On baseless assumptions, and nothing else. Coleridge, directly acknowledges that his theory does rest upon assumptions. The same is true, however, he says, of the opposite theory. This is freely admitted, with this difference, however: His theory rests upon assumptions which are not affirmed as true by the Intelligence. The theory which gives us “things without us,” rests upon assumptions affirmed as true by the Intelligence. There is a wide difference between a theory resting upon assumptions in opposition to intuitions, and one resting upon assumptions in harmony with such intuitions.

SECONDARY FACULTIES.

We are now prepared for a consideration of the secondary faculties or functions of the Intelligence.

.: Understanding. After intuitions, the next class of phenomena which strikes our attention is notions, or Understanding-conceptions. Such notions are of two classes—those which pertain to individuals, and those which represent classes of individuals, or notions, particular and general. All such phenomena are found, on analysis, to be composed of intuitions given by the primary faculties. Now the act of combining intuitions into notions, particular and general, reveals an entirely new function of the Intelligence, a function not implied in the operation of either of the intuitive faculties, nor in all combined. This intellecual function we denominate the Understanding.

The Judgment. As soon as an Understanding-conception appears on the the theatre of Consciousness, an intellectual process entirely

« AnteriorContinuar »