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1839. Introduction to Astronomy, for College Students. 8vo. (Last revised
On the New Haven Tornado of July, 1839.--Am. Jour. of Science, Vol. 37. 1840. Beau Ideal of the Perfect Teacher.— Am. Inst. of Instruction. 1841. School Astronomy. 12mo.
Letters to a Lady on Astronomy (Massachusetts School Library.) 12mo. 1842. Memoir of Ebenezer Porter Mason. 12mo. 1843. Memoir of Gov. Treadwell.- Am. Quarterly Register, Vol. 15.
Reminiscences of Professor Alexander M. Fisher.- New Englander, Vol. 1. 1844. Rudiments of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. 18mo. An edition of
the same, in raised letters, for the use of the blind. 4to. Series of Papers in N. Y. Journal of Commerce and N. Y. Observer on
Protection from Lightning. 1847. Thoughts on Le Verrier's Planet.-New Englander, Vol. 5.
Revelations of the Microscope.- New Englander, Vol. 5. 1848. Riches of the Natural World. — New Englander, Vol. 6.
Review of Sir John Herschel's Observations at Cape of Good Hope.-Am.
Jour. of Science, 2d ser. Vol. 5. 1849. Memoir of Roger Sherman.-Sprague's American Literary Magazine,
The World made for Man.--New Englander, Vol. 7. 1850. On some points of Electrical theory; and On the Aurora Borealis, etc.
Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science. 4th Meeting, New Haven. 1852. On the Zodiacal Light.—Proc. Amer. Assoc. 6th Meeting, Albany. 1854. Review of Silliman's Travels in Europe.- New Englander, Vol. 12.
Review on the Plurality of Worlds.—New Englander, Vol. 12. 1855. Review of Maury's Wind and Current Charts.—New Englander, Vol. 13.
Wilmington Gunpowder Explosion.— Proc. Amer. Assoc. 9th Meeting,
Providence. 1856. Democratic Tendencies of Science.—Barnard's Journal of Education,
tions, Vol. 8. 1857. On the American Association for the Advancement of Science.-Barnard's
Journal of Education, Vol. 3.
2d ser. Vol. 23, and Proc. Amer. Assoc. 11th Meeting, Montreal. Bar
nards Jour. of Education, Vol. 4. 1858. Analysis of the Character of President Dwight as a Teacher. --Barnard's
Jour. of Education, Vol. 5.
The Divine Love of Truth and Beauty.—New Englander, Vol. 16. 1859. Meteorology of Palestine.- New Englander, Vol. 17.
ARTICLE II.—THE LIMITS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT.
The Limits of Religious Thought examined in Eight Lec
tures delivered before the University of Oxford, in the year 1858, on the Bampton Foundation. By HENRY LONGUEVILLE MANSEL, B. D., &c., &c. First American, from the Third London, Edition. With the Notes translated. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1859. pp. 364.
Mr. Mansel is an admiring disciple of Sir William Hamilton, and one of the editors of his posthumous works. He is not, however, a man who takes his views on trust. He thinks for himself, and his book discovers a vigor of thought and an extent of erudition which have our sincere respect. He dit fers from bis master on some important points, as, for example, on the subject of causality, where he applauds Hamilton's refutation of previous theories, but is not satisfied with Sir William's own hypothesis which resolves the intellectual phenomenon of causality into the mind's inability to think a new existence, or an absolute commencement. But, notwithstanding his occasional divergence from the great Scottish philosopher, there is little in “The Limits of Religious Thought” which a thorough student of the Notes on Reid, and the Essay on the Philosophy of the Conditioned, might not anticipate. In fact, the book is an application of Hamilton's doctrines in mental science to the neighboring province of theology. It is a supplement and expansion of the brief but pregnant utterances which are scattered through his recently published Lectures and former writings, on the nature of our religious knowledge.
The fundamental principle of this system is, that our knowledge is confined to the limited, or the conditioned, or the finite. The unconditioned is not and cannot be an object of conception or positive thought. The unconditioned is a generic term and comprises the Infinite and the Absolute. The Absolute denotes that which is free from all necessary relation to any other being,—which is free from every relation as a condition of existence. The Infinite denotes that which is free from all possible limitation; than which a greater is inconceivable, and which, therefore, can become possessed of no attribute which it had not from eternity. Now it is claimed that the Infinite and Absolute are inconceivable, incapable of being compassed in thought, the knowledge of them being contrary to the conditions under which alone intelligence is possible. They involve simply the negation of conceivability. Thus the mind can conceive space; but it cannot conceive space as absolutely bounded ; that is, as a whole, beyond which there is no further space. This, it is said, is verified by the appeal to consciousness and by other evidence. On the other hand, the mind cannot conceive space as infinite, as without limits. “You may launch out in thought beyond the solar walk, you may transcend in fancy even the universe of matter, and rise from sphere to sphere in the region of empty space, until imagination sinks exhausted; -with all this what have you done? You have never gone beyond the finite, you have attained at best only to the indefinite, and the indefinite, however expanded, is still always the finite."* So we cannot conceive of space as absolutely divided, that is, of an indivisible part; nor can we conceive of space as infinitely divisible. Both the maximum and minimum of space are incomprehensible. Yet, in each of these cases, we are presented with contradictory propositions, one of which must therefore be true. Space is either infinitely extended or absolutely bounded; and space is either Infinitely divisible, or there is an absolute minimum. By a similar process we should reach the same results in respect to Time and Degree, " the three species of quantity which constitute the relations of existence.” What is the conclusion then? That conception or positive thought is between two poles; there being on either side an inconceivable. The repugnance of the two inconceivables to one another necessitates (by the logical law of excluded middle) the conviction that one or the other is real. The inference is inevitable that the limits of our thought are not the limits of existence. The mind is shown to be weak, but is not convicted of deceit. Here it is that Hamilton differs from Kant, with whom he is prone to agree.' Kant endeavored to show that pure reason, in its legitimate exercise, ends in a series of insoluble contradictions. Skepticism follows as an unavoidable consequence of his doctrine that the human intelligence is repugnant with itself. “If I have done anything," says Hamilton,“ meritorious in Philosophy, it is the attempt to explain the phenomena of these contradictions; in showing that they arise only when intelligence transcends the limits to which its legitimate exercise is restricted ; and that within these bounds, (the conditioned,) natural thought is neither fallible nor mendacious,
“Neque decipitur, nec decipit unquam." If this view be correct, Kant's antinomies, with their consequent skepticism, are solved; and the human mind, however weak, is shown not to be the work of a treacherous creator. * "Kant has clearly shown that the idea of the unconditioned can have no objective reality,—that it conveys no kuowledge,--and that it involves the most insoluble contradictions. But he ought to have shown that the unconditioned had no objective application, because it had, in fact, no subjective affirmation,—that it afforded no real knowledge, because it contained nothing even conceivable, and that it is self-contradictory, because it is not a notion, either simple or positive, but only a fasciculus of negatives—negatives of the conditioned in its opposite extremes, and bound together merely by the aid of language and their common character of incomprehensibility.”+ Says Hamilton again, describing his own doctrine: “The mind is not represented as conceiving two propositions subversive of each other, as equally possible ; but only, as unable to understand as possible either of two extremes; one of which, however, on the ground of their mutual repugnance, it is compelled to recognize as true.” #
In what way, we now proceed to ask, are the possibilities of thought violated in the claim of a power to conceive of the unconditioned—the infinite or the absolute? First, consciousness implies distinction between one object and another. We conceive of something or are conscious of something, only as that something is distinguished from that which it is not. One thing is known by being distinguished from another, by having some form of existence which the other has not. But this is limitation, so that an object in order to be known must be finite. Again, consciousness is impossible apart from the relation of subject and object. There must be a subject, or person conscious, and an object or thing of which he is conscious. Destroy this relation and thought is no more.
* Lectures on Metaphysics: Appendix, p. 647.
+ Philosophy of the Conditioned, in Wight's Edition of Hamilton's Philosophy,) p. 459.
The same, p. 457
Hence the conception of the Absolute, like the conception of the Infinite, is self-contradictory. We cannot enter into a further explication of the grounds on which a knowledge of anything above the finite or conditioned is pronounced to be impossible. We can only direct our readers to Mr. Mansel's book, especially to Lecture III., and to Sir William Hamilton's masterly review of Cousin, to which we have already referred. In the course of this review, he says: “Thought cannot transcend consciousness; consciousness is only possible under the antithesis of a subject and object of thought, known only in correlation and mutually limiting each other; while independently of this, all that we know either of subject or object, either of mind or matter, is only a knowledge in each of the particular, of the plural, of the different, of the modified, of the phenomenal. We admit that the consequence of this doctrine is,--that philosophy, if viewed as inore than the science of the conditioned, is impossible.”* The doctrine is that the two universal conditions of knowledge and conception are that of difference between objects, one thing having what another has not, and that of relation between object and subject, each limiting and pre-supposing the other. For the mind to rise above the finite is to annihilate thought.
The doctrine of the inconceivability of the infinite, we may stop to observe, has met with opposition even from writers of the Scottish school. We have before us a little work on the philosophy of the infinite, by Mr. Heury Calderwood, a
* Philosophy of the Conditioned, p. 456.