Графични страници
PDF файл
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* Believe it, my good friend, to love Truth for Truth's sake is the
principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of
all other virtues.'--LOCKE

Vol. I.





All rights reserved


28049 Kershna

The primary intent of the author of this work was to fill, however imperfectly, what he considered a gap in the history of philosophy. Since the publication of Staudlin's wellknown monograph on the subject (Leipzig, 1794) no work has appeared in modern literature having for its object a complete and impartial history of Skepticism, Attempts have been made both in Germany and France to supply what has been generally recognised as a want, but they have either been partial, as in the case of Dr. Tafel's work, or abortive, as in the projected works of MM. Bartholmess and Emile Saisset.

Another motive that actuated the author was to suggest a new method for the investigation and classification of philosophic thinkers. Most persons must have remarked the confused appearance presented by ordinary histories of philosophy, in which thinkers of all kinds are huddled together without any regard to intellectual affinities or similarities. It seems at least worth considering whether some elementary basis of classification might not be adopted which would subdivide philosophers according to their psychological idiosyncrasies. Thus they might be arranged, as Diogenes Laertius remarked, into two main classes, Synthetic and Analytic, or, using the more usual terms, Dogmatists and Skeptics— denoting respectively those in which constructive or disintegrating instincts preponderate. Such a division, although not rigidly logical, seems the best of which the subject is

capable. Probably few remarkable intellects have ever existed as to which it would be impossible to determine whether their bent, their native unbiassed propensity, was Dogmatic or Skeptical. Hence the following work, taking as its subject eminent examples of the analyzing, inquiring type of intellect, endeavours to show the similarity of its procedures under varying conditions of time, race, country, diversity of dogmatic and social environment, &c. Its readers will learn a lesson surely worth acquiring—that Skepticism--the exercise of the questioning and suspensive faculty-is confined to no period, race, religious or secular belief. In itself the energy is altogether natural, and its manifestation, even when extreme, ought to arouse no harsher feelings than are evoked by other developments of human speculation which also share a natural basis and starting-point.

Genuine Skepticism may be regarded from two standpoints.

1. In relation to dogma, it is the antithetical habit which suggests investigation—the instinct that spontaneously distrusts both finality and infallibility as ordinary attributes of truth. It inculcates caution and wariness as against the confidence, presumption, self-complacent ssurance of Dogmatists. Thus interpreted, it is needles: to point out the importance of its functions. A history of doubters and free-thinkers is in fact the history of human enlightenment. Every advance in thought or knowledge has owed its inception and impulse to inquiring doubt. Hence it would be idle to deny or attempt to minimize the historical importance of Skepticism, or the perennial antagonism between doubt and dogma—the dynamic and static principles of all human knowledge.

2. Considered in itself Skepticism implies (1) Continuous search, (2) Suspense, or so much of it as is needful as an incentive to search. This is the literal meaning of the word as well as its general signification in Greek philosophy.

« ПредишнаНапред »