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difficulty. It involved the foundation of all religious faith, and thus the weal of the race. Impelled at once by profound piety and ardent philanthropy, Jacobi addressed himself to this great philosophical question of the day. Giving the problem his deliberate study, he evolved a psychological theory no less profound than bold, which conflicted with leading doctrines of both Kant and Hume. Eminently practical was his every thought; it contemplated.the nature of man, and aimed to satisfy the wants of his heart. No consideration stood before this, and every product of his formal thinking in solitude had to be sacrificed in the world's arena if found to conflict with the interests of humanity. Thus he established an equivocal name, as an atheist, a theist, and a mystic. It may be only partially the fault of his interpreters that before the general public he still bears the same unjust reputation. In general, however, it must be confessed that Jacobi has fared remarkably well at the hands of his critics. His spirit disarms hostility, and his name is almost invariably linked with terms of the greatest respect.
Jacobi's works are not voluminous or very systematic. "Never was it my aim," he declares, "to set up a system for the schools. My writings proceeded out of my inmost life. . . . I wrote them, so to speak, not myself, of my own free will, but urged on by a higher power which I could not resist." It may not be remarkable, since he wrote under such a conscious impulse from without, that his works lack the unity of plan which belongs to continuous effort. Yet this does not interfere with his conscious identity, or the permanence of his convictions. It was the same man who, as he confessed, was "a heathen in his understanding and a Christian in his feelings."
Jacobi's earliest works were "Edward Allwill's Correspondence," and "Woldemar," which contain many of his philosophical views incorporated in such romance as suited the taste and intelligence of the period. He has been severely criticised for allowing himself to sugar-coat his philosophy with sensational fiction of questionable moral tone. "Woldemar" especially has been criticised and applauded with equal zeal. A literary critic in the "Edinburgh Review" (1847) finds it even more astonishing that such a work should have come from the pen of "a serene and virtuous philosopher," than that it should have been so eagerly read, which latter he would otherwise consider the most astonishing thing in the world. The reviewer referred to, though he seems to base his criticism upon sound principles, may have overlooked the important fact that Jacobi aimed to establish in that work an argument against mere conventionalities, in favor of higher moral obligations and rights of the individual. Mrs. Sarah Austen, whom Macaulay calls "an interpreter between the mind, of Germany and the mind of Britain," praises the literary character of Jacobi's fiction as "distinguished for vigorous painting; admirable delineation of nature and the human heart; warmth and depth of feeling; and a lively, bold, yet correct turn of expression." Professor Chalybaeus, with equal ardor, declares that "Jacobi's style, as remote from scholastic stiffness as from the superficial character of polite literature, will ever hold good as a model."
Works more exclusively philosophical and argumentative are the "Letters to Moses Mendelssohn," "David Hume on Faith; or, Idealism and Realism," and "Divine Things and their Revelation."
The first of these regards the doctrines of Spinoza, and the views of Lessing concerning them, Jacobi maintaining that, in a conversation with him, Lessing had confessed an inclination to accept the doctrines of Spinoza. Mendelssohn and some others claimed that in these letters Jacobi had attributed to Lessing a stronger devotion to Spinoza than was consistent with his published views, which so distinctly adopt the dualism of Descartes and Leibnitz that their author cannot be thought seriously to have entertained the pantheistic monism which Leibnitz chiefly controverted. But more important than this dispute about Lessing's views are the views advocated by the author of the work himself. These are, in brief, that all philosophical demonstration must end in Spinozism, which is fatalism and atheism, and that, to escape these evils, we must abandon demonstration and accept faith.
The work on "Idealism and Realism" convicted Kant of a radical defect in his "Critique of Pure Reason;" for, since Spinozism was essentially atheistic, Jacobi was eager to correct the errors of this popular Kantian philosophy, which system was perfectly compatible with his religious belief. He found, in Kant, that it is at once both indispensable and impossible that things in themselves should affect our sentient organisms. This contradiction is fatal to all that is built upon it. In his theoretical philosophy Kant admitted, however reluctantly, that unaided sensation yields no knowledge of the transcendental, but merely a multiplicity of impressions. In spite of this concession, he assumed, and ever maintained, the dualism of subject and object, while neither is the product of any visibly connected cause. Jacobi has, then, the distinguished merit of establishing against Kant the following point: The "Critique of Pure Reason" denies that any causal nexus can be found between thinking and any noumenal object or subject, while the "Critique of Practical Reason," ignoring the principle already laid down, boldly assumes the transcendental as revealed by the phenomenal. Kant attempted to find some impossible demonstration for that which is undeniable and needs none, and thus threw a character of uncertainty upon the most positive knowledge that we have.
The work entitled, "Divine Things and their Revelation," was Jacobi's last, and probably contains the best exposition of bis distinguishing doctrines, especially his "faith-philosophy." For this philosophy its author never claimed a place beside other systems, but, perhaps even too hastily and modestly, granted the argument to philosophers whose conclusions were revolting to him, but whose methods seemed to him valid. He thus occupied an anomalous position, which must be explained in one of these two ways; namely, either Jacobi was in error in supposing that the head positively demanded pantheism and the heart Christianity, or we are constituted with a cruel and irreconcilable antinomy, waging perpetual war in the center of our being, and setting one member against another in a manner for which no development theory can account, and of which no beneficent Creator could be guilty. This is the most important error of which Jacobi can be convicted, as he himself clearly saw. He was fully aware that his doctrines must break into two opposed systems, one of which must be false, by the most positive principles of logical opposition.
An antinomy may well lie under the suspicion of being nothing more than a convenient name under which to cover the shortsightedness of men. Can God's laws conflict? or can it really be that both the affirmative and negative of any given proposition can be supported with equally strong proofs. By any given man, perhaps they may. In a boys' debating club they often are; but even the boys usually think that, if they knew all, the scale would promptly turn to one side or the other. With what reason, then, do men talk of antinomies aa soon as the pros and cons seem to balance? It is clear that the data upon which rests one of the conflicting judgments must be either inaccurate or inadequate, unless there is a fallacy in the logic.
A supposed conflict of laws is sometimes attributed to the error of applying reason to matters beyond its sphere, as though there were spheres where reason could mislead, or where it were better, forsooth, to be unreasonable. Both Locke, in his "Essay Concerning the Human Understanding," and Kant, in his " Critique of Pure Reason," have given expression to views of which this would be a bald, but perhaps not altogether unfair, statement. Not the excess, but the deficiency, of reason leads to error; and laws which really conflict must be human. The Creator of the macrocosm created also the microcosm, and "I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs." Rob the world of the faith that all things fit into the harmonious plan of the Author of all, and the philosophy of history, and the grand system of correlated sciences, which thrill us with enthusiastic delight as they unfold before us, would, like bright dreams or punctured bubbles, vanish from the earth. All forms of matter, and all the faculties of the mind, must be supposed to be governed by harmonious laws, and enter, as coordinate elements, into the plan of the universe; else we impeach either the power, wisdom, or goodness of God.
Jacobi's philosophical creed developed at a time when the prevailing philosophy was Kant's, with all the admiration that belonged to its freshest triumphs. No other theme was so prominent as that to which, a century earlier, Locke had drawn very general attention—the question of the powers and limitations of the human understanding. After making experience the basis of all our knowledge, Locke was so unfortunate in his explanation of the origin of our ideas that Cousin easily convicted him of laying an excellent foundation for that sensationalism for which Hobbes and Condillac acknowledged their indebtedness to him, however distasteful such thanks might be.
It may not seem unnatural that Hobbes should derive from Locke's representative theory of perception his subtile corporeal spirit to replace the second member of Descartes' dualism, but it is far more startling to find Bishop Berkeley, with "every virtue under heaven," establishing upon the same basis a thorough-going idealism, and successfully maintaining his ground against the whole sensational school. To exhaust the strange possibilities of the case, Hume, again, accepting both Locke and Berkeley, advanced one fatal but inevitable step further, and, consigning mind to the same fate that matter had suffered at the hands of Berkeley, established a skeptical nihilism, which no subsequent philosopher has been able to refute without revising the whole foundation of the system upon which it rested. This task called for the genius of a Kant. He was able to reconstruct the principles of knowledge upon the ruins to which Locke's system had been reduced by the twofold reductio ad absurdum of Berkeley and Hume. In doing so, however, though he gained the foremost place among the metaphysicians of his age, he committed an error hardly inferior to Locke's, and quite as difficult to throw off. Locke perceived only images of things, that, so far as he could show, might have no corresponding external objects behind them. Kant, on the other hand, perceived only phenomena, and knew nothing of the things in themselves, which are manifest only in the phenomena. For both alike objects were implied as the originals of the images of the one, and as the principals behind the phenomena of the other. Both alike have furnished a basis upon which logical minds have built up systems that have violated the plainest dicta of common sense. Every body but a few philosophers thinks he knows that he walks in an actual physical world, and among other men like himself, while, according to Locke and Kant, pure reason teaches nothing of the sort; but rather that the world which we see is within us, and that we may be dreaming as truly in our waking as in our sleeping hours. Goethe appreciates this situation very well when he makes Faust say that this philosophy leaves him "as great a fool as he was before;" and then, in despair of knowing any thing, turn to the sensual enjoyments of the world.
From the particular error of Locke philosophy has largely, but not altogether, recovered; and from Kant's it is slowly re