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wish 10 meet them, and the examination of their principles of
Much is made by the spiritualists of all classes, and most of all by those who are now before us, of the inevitable necessity by which all those who attempt to philosophize, become either Platonists or Aristotelians, whether the cause is found in their intellectual tendencies, their moral disposition, or the influence of favorite authors. The distinction between the schools is represented as so great, that the one employs certain faculties, and appeals to their decision, which the other neither recognizes nor believes to exist, that in consequence, the two cannot confer together, nor can they comprehend each other,—that the one is the school of science, and the other of empiricism,—the one, a sanctuary of faith, and a temple of worship,--the other, a dwelling place of unbelief, and a nursery of irreligion. It is easy to see that if these claims be admitted as true, they carry with them the most sweeping conclusions, and give to the spiritualists, not only the field in argument, but occasion for earnest and devout attachment to their own philosophy, and for serious alarm at the prevalence of the opposite. Nor ought it to be a matter of wonder, that much importance should be attached by them to this general fact, and that it should be often used in the argument.
It cannot be intended by this doctrine, merely, that there was a wide dissimilarity in the intellectual structure of these great philosophers, nor that their modes of announcing and defending their doctrines were so unlike, that if they held precisely the same opinions, one would express them in the Aristotelian fashion, and the other in the Platonic way; but that the school of the one is a school of scepticism and of unbelief-while the other is a nursery of faith and devotion ; that the one invests the mind with the mists of error, and perplexes it in the intricate labyrinth of doubt, while the other causes it to breathe the pure ether, where forgotten truths of heavenly origin are brought back to the delighted memory, and the soul holds communion with her divine original.
The former of these opinions—the one not held by our
spiritualists, we regard as correct ;-the latter which they hold and propagate, we think is defective and false. defective and untrue in its judgment of the two philosophers, who are made the representatives of the opposing systems. Who then, was Aristotle, and who was Plato ? Aristotle was a man who thought severely, and expressed his thoughts in language, condensed, precise and purely philosophical. Plato also thought severely, but in giving expression to his thoughts, presents processes rather than results,-hence, in contrast to Aristotle, he is diffuse rather than concise, suggestive rather than precise, rambling rather than condensed, useful rather in setting the mind upon a course of thinking, than satisfying it at the conclusion by a result briefly expressed and skilfully elaborated. Above all, while Aristoile is naked and abstract in his diction, Plato is illustrative, warm, and poetical, while that of the one is rough, often obscure and always repulsive, aiming to present the thought alone, that of the other is wrought into the finest harmonies of a most delightful style, which is as clear as amber, and musical as the lute of Apollo. The one marches you right on to his conclusion ; and often by strides so tremendous that you must follow, haud passibus æquis, the other takes you by the hand, and leads you in a devious way, now along a
stiil stream, then beneath a cool and balmy shade, not forgetting now and then to try you with a tangled thicket, and to perplex you with the intricacy of nice distinctions in the way-till at length, having carried you as far as he thinks well to do, he leaves you to review the way you have gone, and to guess out the remainder alone-being satisfied with the exercise which you have received, and apparently having aimed at this as his only object. The one seeks to grasp and understand all the things that are, or which have sprung from the mind of man—the laws of nature, the principles of government, society, and education, the elements of logic, rhetoric, and poetry, and subjects them alike to an analysis marvellously subtle, and a process that is wonderfully exhausting, till he arrives at conclusions which are admirable for the justness of their good sense. He seeks alike to collect the facts which were known in natural history, then a science in its embryo, and discourses also in the same calm and unpretending way of the mysteries of the Deity and of the human soul. He would
penetrate all nature by the searching eye of his analy
sis, or cause her to reveal herself in her primeval elements, by the powerful solvent of his own scientific method. The favorite field of the other is the moral, the religious, and metaphysical-into the darker recesses of which departments he loves to penetrate; and having gone with you to a certain depth, he prefers then to worship, rather than farther 10 explore, to pause in mute wonder, or to relieve himself of the mystery under which he labors, by some splendid and lofty mythus, or ornate and finished description. Hence, his doctrine of truths forgotten in a former state, but recalled in this, of men confined in a cave to the view of their own shadow, as cast by the light above upon the farthest wall, of the chariot drawn by unequal steeds, etc., which are sometimes taken by his more devout, not to say, credulous disciples, in a sense somewhat more scientific than the master designed.
Such are some of the contrasts between these venerable masters of Grecian science. Opposite in many intellectual characteristics, and fitted by their modes of instruction, and the intellectual training which they impart, to produce philosophers who will differ, and that most widely, but still in no sense deserving to be set over against each other, the one as constituting the school.of empiricism and of unbelief, and the other, that of science and of faith.
Rather should we style them, the one, the imaginative and mythical school, the other, the analytic, and we will not yet say, the more purely philosophical. We grant also, that each have their peculiar exposures to error,--that while that of the Aristotelian is to deny that to exist which does, in fact—that of the Platonist is to bring into being that which is not; in a word, the besetting sin of the one is unbelief, that of the other, is idolatry and superstition. Which is the more hostile to science we do not hesitate to affirm. Which is the more a foe to true religion, it would be hard to decide. The spirit of both is equally a spirit of science and of faith. Yet the Aristotelian, often, when he has arrived at a great first truth,-principium et fons congnoscendi, -deems it important to survey it with a more careful exactness, and to test the certainty of its being one of the truths, for which faith alone, or rather intuition, must vouch, or whether it is susceptible of a still nicer division. As the naturalist, when the nucleus of the crystal has been uncovered, and presents its brilliant surfaces to his view, still must search for a new
cleavage, till he sometimes batters its fair face with his chisel, or it breaks in pieces under bis hammer, so does the analytical philosopher, with the primal elements of knowledgeeither refining them till they cease to be objects of faith, or denying that any can be attained on which the mind may fasten. So did Hume ; and others besides him have thus destroyed the elements which make possible either science or faith. Hume was altogether an Aristotelian, it is true, but the results to which he arrived are in no sense the legitimate consequences of the Aristotelian philosophy, but only their possible perversion.
The Platonist on the other hand, has his exposures. From his disposition to believe rather than to question, to wonder or worship rather than to analyze, he receives as general laws, and primal elements, those facts which a closer examination would lead him to refer to a law still more general. He imposes upon himself, as facts, the merest figments of words. He multiplies first truths, and thus destroys the simplicity of science, and does dishonor to the simplicity of nature. So also, through his fondness for certain mysterious entities, which he calls ideas, is he tempted to render them a vague and almost idolatrous worship, to substitute them as objects of love and honor, in the stead of his brother-man, and his sovereign God. Not unfrequently does he thus fall into a demon-worship of the powers of nature, or referring them back to one grand idea, to bow before it, as To tav, an entity, not personal nor yet material, not living nor yet unconcious; the supreme reason,-the great idea,—the vital force,—the fount of being, - or whatever be the name under which he chooses to veil his pantheistic divinity.
The different methods in which the opposite schools use language, has been adverted to in passing; there are in it consequences, which it is much to our purpose to notice. The Aristotelian employs the language of abstraction, which, though clear and precise, and not without interest to the reflecting mind, is yet the most remote from the looser language of common life, and not less unlike the diction of the excited orator, or the rapt poet. He employs images indeed, but they are briefly presented, and instead of withdrawing the mind from the scientific truth, reflect a stronger light upon the argument, and set it forth in a finer relief.
He presents, from common life, facts and illustrations, but such only as carry the mind back again, with a freshened interest to the
truths which they illustrate. The Platonist adopts with freedom, the poetical and figurative diction, and is solicitous to avoid the lifeless and naked style of the follower of Aristotle. Nay, often when the severest simplicity of scientific statement is required, and all the powers of a strictly philosophical expression should be tasked, he is content darkly to show forth what he deems the truth by an allegory or an image, and thinks that he has given a triumphant solution, when he has only hit upon a happy illustration, and covered the knot of the problem by a veil of graceful diction. Even if the two should possess the same scientific truth, and should see with a metaphysical exactness equally nice, they would adopt a method so different, and forms of language so entirely unlike, that the truths propounded might seem scarcely the ime. Then, too, the associations which they awaken, the emotions which they kindle, the allusions in which they are at home, and the nomenclature with which they are familiar, are all so different, that they often seem to be combatants, even when they are fellow-soldiers, for the same great truths. We are quite certain that truths have been propounded by Locke and Reid, on which Kant and Coleridge have prided themselves as peculiar to their own system, and as giving it an indisputable advantage over the opposite school. More than one determined partizan of Coleridge has been unable to see such a truth in a plainer style and under a different form of expression, through the merest trickery of language, and the splendid fascinations of a portico-philosophical diction.
Indeed, to the spiritualist of our day, the naked and abstract language of mental and moral science, is most offensive, contrasted with the gorgeous coloring of his own favorite authors and their warmer and more moving style. He counts it reason enough, for his rejection of any writer, that his speculations are dead ; that they have not that living force which of itself wakes up the intellect and warms the heart. His language of them all is, “Let the dead bury their dead," while he directs you to his own adopted teachers, and asks no other reason for the excellence of their philosophy than its influence on the minds of those who study it. We are not insensible to the fascinations and the
of that style which delights to invest some grand truth, concerning God or man, in the splendid drapery of a creating imagi