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which he has borrowed from the works of other philosophers, to the lucid manner in which he has treated ihe materials thus obtained, and to the ingenuity with which he has interwoven them into his own system. He has known how to put all schools under contribution, and thus to build up, piece by piece, the mosaic work of the edifice, which he calls his own. The Scotch and Germans are those to whom he is most indebted, though the obligation is certainly mutual, for the doctrines thus transplanted are often freed from objectionable peculiarities, expressed with greater force and clearness, and thus brought within the reach of a wider circle of readers. The reputation of being a skilful borrower may not appear very flattering, but there are great merits in the able execution even of this secondary task.
sk. To break up the distinctions between various schools, to give universal currency to the treasures of intellect and taste, wbich had otherwise been confined to a single nation, to make available for common use the labors even of one master mind, which has been more successful in the discovery than the dissemination of truth, is an office which has sure claims on the gratitude, though it may not challenge the admiration, of mankind. We give all credit to Cousin for the ability with which he has used his stores of learning, and for the frankness which he shows in consessing the extent of his obligations.
But he is mistaken in imagining, that this manner of building up a system by patchwork is really a new method of conducting philosophical inquiry. He speaks of Eclecticism, as if it were a Novum Organon for the advancement of metaphysical science, and as if the neglect of it had been the leading cause of the errors and contradictions, with which the history of philosophy is filled. Here is the double error of supposing, in the first place, that Eclecticism as such can properly be called any method at all for the discovery of truth; and, in the second place, of believing, that it is the peculiar characteristic of his own philosophy. As to the former point, one might as well talk about an Eclectic system of geometry. The word does not refer to any new method of finding truth, but only to the manner of presenting the result of one's labors to the world, whether alone or in connexion with the fruits of other men's researches. And in the second place, every system of philosophy, which has been broached since the time of Thales, has been more or less Eclectic in its character. Indeed, if philosophy be any science at all, it must grow by addition, by the successive contributions of different minds. Every new fact discovered, every additional principle evolved, forms a new item to swell the previous store. It is true, that the longing after unity and completeness operates as a constant temptation to round off the whole into a single theory. But in no case, that ever we heard of, has such theory been presented as the entire growth of one mind. To go no further for instances, every one perceives, that Kant is under great obligations to Aristotle, Reid to Locke, and Cousin to all the four, to say nothing of many others. If philosophy be considered, as some would have it, as the solution of a single problem, it is evident that no Eclecticism is possible, for there can be only one true solution. If, on the contrary, it be considered as a science, as it really is the most comprehensive of all sciences, then Eclecticism, to a greater or less degree, is unavoidable. One cannot, if he would, avoid incorporating into his own view of it some portion of the labors of other men, whether these elements of truth remain in the state in which they were first announced by their discoverers, or have since passed out into practice, as fanviliar principles of thought or conduct.
When Kant applied the term Criticism to his preliminary examination of the grounds on which metaphysical science rests, he used the word with a definite meaning attached to it, and had good reasons for its application. His great work comprised a critical inquiry into the origin and nature of all a priori knowledge, with a view to test the stability of the foundation, on which rest all systems of philosophy, whether dogmatical or skeptical, and thereby to determine the merits of those systems. But we see no propriety in designating the system of Cousin as an Eclectic philosophy, except in the mere fact, that he has borrowed more largely than others have done from the labors of his predecessors, and therefore can with less reason be said to possess any system that is his own. So far as it is borrowed, it does not belong to him ; so far as it is original, it is not Eclectic.
There is a similar error in his remarks upon Method, where he lays much stress on the process of inquiry by way of observation and induction, as if it were the distinguishing trait of his own labors in the field of mental philosophy.
Every system purports to rest more or less directly upon observed facts, since the wildest theorist would disclaim the intention of building hypotheses, without pretending to seek a basis for them in universal experience. None have been more cautious in this respect, than the Sensualists of the school of Condillac. Cousin objects to them, and with reason, that they have confined themselves to the most obvious facts in our mental constitution, without inquiring into their grounds and origin, and thus have held up the mere phenomena of sensation as presenting a complete theory of our intellectual nature. A more searching analysis discloses an element in the information supposed to come through the senses, which cannot be attributed to the outward impression, and the origin of which must therefore be inferred, not observed, from its characteristic features of universality and necessity. Following closely in the steps of the Scotch metaphysicians, Cousin has laid bare this element, and traced it to its home among the original and intuitive perceptions of the soul. We do not question either the result, or the legitimacy of the method by which it is obtained; but what we have to remark is, that Cousin here abandons the rules of investigation, on which he insisted so much in the outset, and proceeds by inference and analogy. From the nature of the case, the primitive character of a cognition cannot be observed ; it must be deduced from the secondary and complex notions, which alone are the direct objects of consciousness. It is even a hypothesis ; a legitimate one, it is true, but still a hypothesis, for it is assumed to be primitive, only because no fact of experience has yet been shown sufficient to account for its existence.
Certainly, we do not find fault with the method here pursued by Cousin, for we believe, that in great part it is the only possible method. We blame him only for laying down in the outset such an insufficient rule of inquiry, that he is obliged to desert it before he has fairly entered the vestibule of the science. The instance we have given, the analysis of the mental act in perception, lies at the very threshold of a psychological theory, and in order to take this first step it is necessary to use a higher Organon of investigation, than that which Bacon established as the only legitimate one for physical science. What are we to expect then, when our author imps his wings for a loftier flight, and soars into the higher regions of speculative philosophy by a series of the boldest and widest generalizations ? Why, that he should wholly lose sight, as he does, of his preliminary principles, and proceed by anticipations as bold as ever entered the teeming brains of those who formed the ancient Grecian schools. His doctrine of the absolute, of the impersonality of the reason, his anticipation of the epochs into which the history of philosophy must divide itself, his a priori method of writing general bistory, — these are strange fruits of a rigid application of the inductive method.
Cousin has written and published much, but has never given to the public an entire and connected view of his system in a single work. His theory must be pieced together from prefaces, lectures, and scraps of criticism. This circumstance detracts from the systematic appearance of his speculations, and makes it less a matter of surprise, that there should be a frequent want of harmony between the parts. As in the later publications we find many opinions modified and set in a different light from that in which they were first expressed, it is probable that the system is not yet definitely worked out in the author's own mind, and therefore an attempt to represent its features as a whole would be, even now, premature. Perhaps, after all, a consciousness of weakness may be at the bottom of this delay,– a lurking fear, lest the prominent points of difference between him and his predecessors, when reduced to their simplest expression in a methodical theory, should not appear to so much advantage as they now do, when brought in singly and incidentally, and placed in sharp contrast with opinions of an opposite character. Be this as it may, there is an obvious propriely, at present, in abstaining from any attempt to give a miniature sketch of his philosopbical doctrine as a whole, and in confining our remarks and criticisms to those points, on which Cousin himself lays most stress, as furnishing the keynote of all his speculations. His writings are now so widely known, that our readers can find no difficulty in following rather a desultory comment upon them.
A liking for bold and splendid generalizations, rapidly formed and confidently stated, which Cousin possesses in common with most speculative writers of bis nation, is very apparent in his analysis and arrangement of the elements of pure reason.
Aristotle, the most successful of all philosophers in forming a comprehensive and systematic classification of the operations of intellect, attempted to give a general statement of our modes of thought, and thus produced his system of the categories. These forms were considered by him as objective, for the basis of the thought, in each case, was held to be a property inherent in the outward thing. Nature was considered in its effects upon mind, and thus a classification of mental phenomena represented also those qualities of external objects, to which the phenomena were believed to correspond. The list thus formed was altered and enlarged by Kant, who also boldly inverted the method of Aristotle by maintaining the doctrine, that the mind creates the object, and beholds in the properties of nature noibing but a reflection of itself. The thinking subject projects its own modes of action and being upon the unsentient object, and gives out from itself the coloring and forms, if not the very tissue and framework, of the natural world. The Greek nomenclature was in great part retained, and the categories, twelve in number, were divided equally among the four classes of quantity, quality, relation, and modality. The essential vice of both theories is, that the classification is merely formal, the phenomena of intelligence being numberless, and the reduction of them to a few elements proceeding
principles that are wholly arbitrary. Every aspect under which an object may be viewed, every relation it may bear to other objects, presents a distinct conception, and the further we carry our arbitrary suppression of the points of difference between these conceptions, the smaller will be our list of ultimate elements, and the more imperfectly will a particular idea be represented in that general notion, which stands at the head of its class. Kant had twelve categories ; Cousin reduces them all to three. Cousin's reduction is a forced and capricious one, but no more so, perhaps, than of Aristotle. Classification proceeds by considering only the common properties of things, to the exclusion of all individual and distinguishing traits. The process is legitimate only when the objects of it are complex. A partial consideration of simple ideas is impossible, and any attempt, therefore, to An imperfect apprehension of them is necessarily a false apprehension, and classification will produce nothing but confusion.