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2. Pantheism appeared even under that form only in the first periods of the Grecian philosophy. The Eleatæ soon transferred it to its
veritable ground, and placed it on reason for its pedestal. They said they felt that the hypothesis of a soul of the world would still approach too near to Dualism, and that they wished to avoid the consequence by changing the principle. With the Eleatæ there is, in effect, no more question about a soul of the world distinct from it, penetrating and governing it. They have already considered the material world as a phenomenon, to which they seem not to assign a veritable reality.
It is no more on a simple analogy that they found their system, but on dialectic reasoning. Nothing, they say, comes from nothing-something cannot spring out of nothing, for if otherwise, why and how will it come from it? Now, that being which has not had a beginning will not have an end,—for we cannot admit a succession of beings. The being produced must, in effect, be either identical with that which has produced it, or must differ from it in something. If it were identical with it, the two beings would be really but one and the same being; if different from it, that in which it differed from the first, that which was new in it, would be without a cause, would proceed from no principle, would come out of nothing, which cannot be admitted. All that is, is therefore eternal. From the eternity of being, the Eleatæ deduced its infinity, from its infinity its unity, from its unity its indivisibility, its unchanging and constant uniformity, and finally, from its indivisibility its incorporeity.
That which conducted the Elcatæ to the opinion of the unity, immutability, and eternity of matter, was the feeling of the numberless contradictions and oppositions which meet us in our acquisitions of knowledge from experience, through the medium of the senses. Those oppositions seemed to them irreconcilable. They saw that it is impossible for man to ascend from phenomenon to phenomenon, from fact to fact, up to the point where they cease ; that he can no better dispose harmoniously all the judgments acquired by experience in a single and unique focus, in a theory one and complete—and not being willing, in questions surpassing the capacity of the human understanding, to rest on mere presumptions, they appealed to another source of knowledge, regarding that alone as legitimate, and considering the testimony of the senses as a pure illusion, or, if you prefer, as
something subjective, and having no general and universal value. The senses apprize us of a multiplicity of things with which they put us in connection; but according to the Eleatæ, there is there an illusion, an illusion which makes to us objective the purely subjective impressions of the senses.* In correcting that error of the sensible organs, in rising above the illusions of the senses, there remains no more than the being, the veritable and sole being, besides which there is nothing.
The contempt with which the Eleatæ looked upon experience and the knowledge derived from the senses, is a char acteristic of all pantheistic systems, which are essentially enemies of observation, and pretend that the reason is the sole source of true knowledge. We remark, in passing, this fact, which belongs to the very nature of pantheism, and to which we shall be obliged to return again. As to the rest, although in consequence of the small number of the memorials of that school now in existence, it is impossible to pursue its doctrines in their details, we can recognize in it whatever there has been specially remarkable, even down to modern times.
3. A third form of pantheism appears in Neoplatonism. An immense field would here be opened before us, if, in a rapid sketch, we were not under the necessity of confining ourselves to general considerations. The doctrines of Neoplatonism, the great historical importance of which cannot be denied, are derived neither froin logic or dialectics, as that of the Eleatæ, nor from imperfect observation, like the cosmogonies of the first Greek philosophers; they have their origin in the febrile over-excitation of a spirit still active in the midst of an epoch of decay, but without force sufficient to stay the general ruin. Neoplatonism is the genius of Greece grown old and decrepid, and returning with pleasure to the first emotions of its infancy.
What is most important to us here, is to point out the mystic source of their doctrines. The union of the soul with God-that is the highest aim they propose to themselves,
* The Eleatæ attributed to the senses what Kant does to the speculative reason.
He accuses them, too, of objectivat. ing ideas, which are subjective, in his opinion.
and the means they employ to effect that union, become more and more ascetic and theurgic in proportion as the sect approaches its end, and loses the litile vitality that animated 'it at its commencement. The aim, the means, and the explanations which they indicate, have the greatest analogy with the design, means and theories of the pantheistic systems of the East. The tendency is the same in both ; and saving some differences owing to the Grecian spirit, the Neoplatonists resemble much the Yogi of India.
The core of their system is the theory of emanation. We think it unnecessary to explain what is so well known. It is sufficient for us to be reminded that it represents the divinity as the source from which emanate the most exalted beings, these again as the source of those less elevated, and so on successively down to that which is too low and weak to emit from it any thing inferior to itself.
Whatever there is of mysticism in pantheism, the Neoplatonists admitted into Christian theology. A writer, who probably lived in the sixth century, published, under the title of Denys the Arcopagite, some works in which Christianity and Neoplatonism were amalgamated, whether because he thought he could again give currency to those doctrines by presenting them, so to speak, in a Christian dress, or that being a Neoplatonic convert, he himself had embraced Christianity through his first philosophical opinions. In the ninth century, Scotus Erigena translated these books into Latin, and from that time they became the text of a multitude of commentaries, and the manual of the mystics of the middle ages, amongst whom it is rare not to find some taint of pantheism.
4. Hitherto pantheism is exhibited to us as a system narrow in its expositions and exclusive in its source. Amongst the ancient Greeks, a superficial observation is its only basis -in the sect of the Eleatæ, it offers us dialectic considerations on being, and unable to explain nature, is compelled to deny its existence; with the Neoplatonists it revolves round some ideas, and becomes inconsistent whenever it will descend into details. We proceed now to contemplate it scientifically, and we shall find it more complete, if not more veritable. God is here again all in all, substance eternal, alone, existing only by itself; but it is not denied that the world may have a certain contingent reality. Thus. The divine
substance has two attributes, two modes of being,' which are thought and extension. By the attribute of thought, God manifests his life, and that manifestation is the spiritual world. Life is no less manifested by the attribute of extension, and that manifestation is the material world. That is the common foundation, which all the modern systems of pantheism develope, each in its own way, and with more or less of ability
Spinosa may be regarded as the father of modern pantheism, although preceded in that way by Giordano Bruno, who assiduously studied the Eleatæ and Neoplatonics, in order to form a system differing little, as well in its basis as in its structure, from that of Schelling. The system of Spinosa has its origin in Cartesianism. Leibnitz has said with much reason: Spinosism is an extravagant (outre) Cartesianism. Spinosa sets out from the idea of Descartes, that there is but one only substance, which becomes spirit or matter accordingly as it receives the attribute of thought or that of exten sion; but instead of regarding extension and thought as two attributes of one and the same subject, he considers them as two modes of being of that sole substance. Here it is that he departs from pure Cartesianism, but that difference entails pantheism as its immediate consequence. If thought and extension are the two modes of being of that substance, there is no need of an exterior cause to give it thought and extension; it possesses both by its own proper nature. The thought which that sole substance thinks, is but a thought of that substance, and the extension which the thought conceives is still but that same substance, considered in a certain manner by itself.
Here it is no more necessary to suppose a God different from the world, in order to explain the existence of the world. That unique and living substance is God, and its determinations, its modes of being are the world. The particular thoughts are the modes which express, each in a determinate manner, the nature of God, as also particular things are but the affections of the atıributes of God. In that system every thing goes out from God, every thing comes to him, or rather, every thing resides in him.
The system of Spinosa, one of the most remarkable monuments erected on the pantheistic point of view, has exercised a great influence on the systems which have sncceeded it. SECOND SERIES, VOL. VIII. NO. 1.
It is very 'evident that Schelling is in general under the impression of Spinosism. Saving the developments of that doctrine, under the influence of German philosophy, and the applications to it of the advancements in knowledge, the point of view is the same, and the results are not very different. The chief difference consists in the mode of exposition. Spinosa thought himself obliged to proceed in a mathematical way; Schelling, on the contrary, has taken a dialectic march, which is much better for a philosophical exposition. But at bottom, the system of Schelling is pantheism a little transformed and dressed up under a new title.*
The system of absolute identity is composed of two parts, a philosophy of nature, and a philosophy of spirit; the latter being denominated by Schelling transcendental idealism. In transcendental idealism the spirit studies itself; in the philosophy of nature it contemplates an object without itself. But that object and that subject, however different they may seem to us at first view, really differ less than might be supposed. The same laws govern both ; the laws of thought are those of nature, and the laws of nature those of thought. But farther ; there is, according to Schelling, a point where the subject and object, spirit and nature cease to be different things—that point is the one from which they both go out equally, and in his own language somewhat singular but lucid, he calls that point the indifference of the different, that is to say, the place where the different things cease to be so. There, there is absolute identity between spirit and nature, and it is owing to that idea that the systein has been called a system of absolute identity.
It is in the absolute that the different things cease to be so;
* It is true that, in his work on human liberty, the author of the system of absolute identity pretends and endeavors to show, that there is an essential difference between his doctrine and pantheism; but it seems to us that he has only shown that his system is not an undigested and gross panthe. ism, such as we sometimes find it exhibited by those who would resute that point of view. But this is not the place to enter upon these considerations, which would carry us too far ; the rapid exposition of that system, which we offer, will present it, we hope, in its true light.