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Non-existence of a fifth form of activity. Law, sociability.

should be applied only to creators of aesthetic expression
or also to men of scientific research and of action would
be a mere question of words. To observe, on the other
hand, that “genius,” of whatever kind it be, is always a
quantitative conception and an empirical distinction,
would be to repeat what has already been explained as
regards artistic genius.
A fifth form of spiritual activity does not exist. It
would be easy to show how all the other forms either do
not possess the character of activity, or are verbal variants
of the activities already examined, or are complex and
derivative facts, in which the various activities are
mingled, and are filled with particular and contingent
The juridical fact, for example, considered as what is
called objective law, is derived both from the economic
and from the logical activities. Law is a rule, a formula
(whether oral or written matters little here) in which is
fixed an economic relation willed by an individual or by
a community, and this economic side at once unites it
with and distinguishes it from moral activity. Take
another example. Sociology (among the many meanings
the word bears in our times) is sometimes conceived as
the study of an original element, which is called socia-
bility. Now what is it that distinguishes sociability, or
the relations which are developed in a meeting of men,
and not in a meeting of sub-human beings, if it be not
just the various spiritual activities which exist among
the former and which are supposed not to exist, or to
exist only in a rudimentary degree, among the latter 2
Sociability, then, far from being an original, simple, irre-
ducible conception, is very complex and complicated.
A proof of this would be the impossibility, generally
recognized, of enunciating a single law which could be
described as purely sociological. Those that are im-
properly so called are shown to be either empirical
historical observations, or spiritual laws, that is to say
judgements into which the conceptions of the spiritual
activities are translated, when they are not simply empty
and indeterminate generalities, like the so-called law of
evolution. Sometimes, too, nothing more is understood
by “sociability’” than “social rule,” and so law ; thus
confounding sociology with the science or theory of law
itself. Law, sociability, and similar concepts, are to be
dealt with in a mode analogous to that employed by us
in the consideration and analysis of historicity and
It may seem that religious activity should be judged
otherwise. But religion is nothing but knowledge, and
does not differ from its other forms and sub-forms. For
it is in turn either the expression of practical aspirations
and ideals (religious ideals), or historical narrative (legend),

or conceptual science (dogma). *

It can therefore be maintained with equal truth either that religion is destroyed by the progress of human knowledge, or that it is always present there. Their religion was the whole intellectual patrimony of primitive peoples: our intellectual patrimony is our religion. The content has been changed, bettered, refined, and it will change and become better and more refined in the future also ; but its form is always the same. We do not know what use could be made of religion by those who wish to preserve it side by side with the theoretic activity of man, with his art, with his criticism and with his philosophy. It is impossible to preserve an imperfect and inferior kind of knowledge, such as religion, side by side with what has surpassed and disproved it. Catholicism, which is always consistent, will not tolerate a Science, a History, an Ethics, in contradiction to its views and doctrines. The rationalists are less coherent : they are disposed to allow a little space in their souls for a religion in contradiction with their whole theoretic world.

The religious affectations and weaknesses prevalent among the rationalists of our time have their origin in the superstitious worship so recklessly lavished upon the natural sciences. We know ourselves and their chief representatives admit that these sciences are all surrounded by limits. Science having been wrongly identi




fied with the so-called natural sciences, it could be
foreseen that the remainder would be sought in religion ;
that remainder with which the human spirit cannot
dispense. We are therefore indebted to materialism, to
positivism, to naturalism for this unhealthy and often
disingenuous recrudescence of religious exaltation, which
belongs to the hospital, when it does not belong to the
Philosophy removes from religion all reason for exist-
ing, because it substitutes itself for religion. As the
science of the spirit, it looks upon religion as a pheno-
menon, a transitory historical fact, a psychic condition
that can be surpassed. Philosophy shares the domain
of knowledge with the natural sciences, with history and
with art. To the first it leaves enumeration, measure-
ment and classification ; to the second, the chronicling
of what has individually happened ; to the third, the
individually possible. There is nothing left to allot to
religion. For the same reason, philosophy, as the science
of the spirit, cannot be philosophy of the intuitive datum ;
nor, as has been seen, philosophy of history, nor philosophy
of nature ; and therefore there cannot be a philosophical
science of what is not form and universal, but material
and particular. This amounts to affirming the impossi-
bility of Metaphysic.
The methodology or logic of history has supplanted the
philosophy of history; an epistemology of the concepts
employed in the natural sciences succeeded the Philosophy
of Nature. What philosophy can study of history is its
mode of construction (intuition, perception, document,
probability, etc.); of the natural sciences the forms of
the concepts which constitute them (space, time, motion,
number, types, classes, etc.). Philosophy as metaphysic
in the sense above described would, on the other hand,
claim to compete with history and with the natural
sciences, which alone are legitimate and effective in their
field. Such a challenge could do nothing but reveal the
incompetence of those who made it. In this sense we are
antimetaphysicans, while declaring ourselves to be ultra-

metaphysicians, when the word is used to claim and to
affirm the office of philosophy as self-consciousness of
the spirit, distinguished from the merely empirical and
classificatory office of the natural sciences.
Metaphysic has been obliged to assert the existence
of a specific spiritual activity producing it, in order to
maintain itself side by side with the sciences of the spirit.
This activity, called in antiquity mental or superior
imagination, and more often in modern times intuitive
intellect or intellectual intuition, was held to unite the
characters of imagination and intellect in an altogether
special form. It was supposed to provide the means of
passing by deduction or dialectic from the infinite to the
finite, from form to matter, from the concept to the
intuition, from science to history, acting by a method
which was held to penetrate both the universal and
the particular, the abstract and the concrete, intuition
and intellect. A faculty marvellous indeed and most
valuable to possess; but we, who do not possess it, have
no means of establishing its existence.
Intellectual intuition has sometimes been considered
to be the true aesthetic activity. At others a no less
marvellous aesthetic activity has been placed beside,
below, or above it, a faculty altogether different from
simple intuition. The glories of this faculty have been
celebrated, and the production of art attributed to it,
or at least of certain groups of artistic production,
arbitrarily chosen. Art, religion and philosophy have
seemed in turn to be one only, or three distinct faculties
of the spirit, sometimes one, sometimes another of them
being supreme in the dignity shared by all.
It is impossible to enumerate all the various attitudes
assumed or capable of being assumed by this conception
of AEsthetic, which we will call mystical. We are here
in the kingdom, not of the science of imagination, but of
imagination itself, which creates its world out of vary-
ing elements drawn from impressions and feelings.
Suffice it to mention that this mysterious faculty has
been conceived, sometimes as practical, sometimes as a

Mental imagination and the intuitive intellect.


Mortality and immortality of art.

mean between the theoretic and the practical, at others again as a theoretic form side by side with philosophy and religion.

The immortality of art has sometimes been deduced from this last conception, as belonging with its sisters to the sphere of absolute spirit. At other times, on the other hand, when religion has been looked upon as mortal and as dissolved in philosophy, then has been proclaimed the mortality, even the death, actual or at least imminent, of art. This question has no meaning for us, because, seeing that the function of art is a necessary degree of the spirit, to ask if art can be eliminated is the same as to ask if sensation or intelligence can be eliminated. But Metaphysic, in the above sense, transplanting itself into an arbitrary world, is not to be criticized in its particulars, any more than we can criticize the botany of the garden of Alcina or the navigation of the voyage of Astolfo. Criticism can only exist when we refuse to join in the game ; that is to say, when we reject the very possibility of Metaphysic, always in the sense above indicated.

There is therefore no intellectual intuition in philosophy, as there is no surrogate or equivalent of it in art, or any other mode by which this imaginary function may be called and represented. There does not exist (if we may repeat ourselves) a fifth degree, a fifth or supreme faculty, theoretic or practical-theoretic, imaginative-intellectual, or intellectual-imaginative, or however otherwise it may be attempted to conceive such a faculty.

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