« IndietroContinua »
induction nor deduction ; it is directed ad narrandum, non ad demonstrandum; it does not construct universals and abstractions, but posits intuitions. The this and here, the individuum omnimode determinatum, is its domain, as it is the domain of art. History, therefore, is included in the universal concept of art.
As against this doctrine, in view of the impossibility of conceiving a third mode of knowledge, objections have been brought forward which would lead to the affiliation of history to intellectual or scientific knowledge. The greater portion of these objections is animated by the prejudice that in refusing to history the character of conceptual science something of its value and dignity has been taken from it. This really arises from a false idea of art, conceived not as an essential theoretic function, but as an amusement, a superfluity, a frivolity. Without reopening a long debate, which so far as we are concerned is finally closed, we will mention here one sophism which has been and still is widely repeated. Its purpose is to show the logical and scientific nature of history. The sophism consists in admitting that historical knowledge has for its object the individual ; but not the representation, it is added, but rather the concept of the individual. From this it is argued that history is also a logical or scientific form of knowledge. History, in fact, is supposed to work out the concept of a personage such as Charlemagne or Napoleon ; of an epoch, like the Renaissance or the Reformation; of an event, such as the French Revolution and the Unification of Italy. This it is held to do in the same way as Geometry works out the concepts of spatial forms, or Æsthetic that of expression. But all this is untrue. History cannot do otherwise than represent Napoleon and Charlemagne, the Renaissance and the Reformation, the French Revolution and the Unification of Italy as individual facts with their individual physiognomy: that is, in the sense in which logicians use the word “represent " when they say that one cannot have a concept of the individual, but only a representation. The so-called concept of the
individual is always a universal or general concept, full of characteristics, supremely full, if you like, but however full it be, incapable of attaining to that individuality to which historical knowledge, as æsthetic knowledge, alone attains.
To show how the content of history comes to be distinguished from that of art in the narrow sense, we must recall what has already been observed as to the ideal character of the intuition or first perception, in which all is real and therefore nothing is real. Only at a later stage does the spirit form the concepts of external and internal, of what has happened and what is desired, of object and subject, and the like : only at this later stage, that is, does it distinguish historical from non-historical intuition, the real from the unreal, real imagination from pure imagination. Even internal facts, what is desired and imagined, castles in the air, and countries of Cockaigne, have their reality, and the soul, too, has its history. His illusions form part of the biography of every individual as real facts. But the history of an individual soul is history, because the distinction between the real and the unreal is always active in it, even when the illusions themselves are the real. But these distinctive concepts do not appear in history like the concepts of science, but rather like those that we have seen dissolved and melted in the æsthetic intuitions, although in history they stand out in a manner altogether special to themselves. History does not construct the concepts of the real and unreal, but makes use of them. History, in fact, is not the theory of history. Mere conceptual analysis is of no use in ascertaining whether an event in our lives was real or imaginary. We must mentally reproduce the intuitions in the most complete form, as they were at the moment of production. Historicity is distinguished in the concrete from pure imagination as any one intuition is distinguished from any other: in
memory. Historical Where this is not possible, where the delicate and criticism. fleeting shades between the real and unreal intuitions
are so slight as to mingle the one with the other, we must either renounce for the time being at least the knowledge of what really happened (and this we often do), or we must fall back upon conjecture, verisimilitude, probability. The principle of verisimilitude and of probability in fact dominates all historical criticism. Examination of sources and authorities is devoted to establishing the most credible evidence. And what is the most credible evidence, save that of the best observers, that is, of those who best remember and (be it understood) have not wished to falsify, nor had interest in falsifying the truth of things ?
From this it follows that intellectualistic scepticism Historical finds it easy to deny the certainty of any history, for the scepticism. certainty of history differs from that of science. It is the certainty of memory and of authority, not that of analysis and demonstration. To speak of historical induction or demonstration is to make a metaphorical use of these expressions, which bear a quite different meaning in history to that which they bear in science. The conviction of the historian is the undemonstrable conviction of the juryman, who has heard the witnesses, listened attentively to the case, and prayed Heaven to inspire him. Sometimes, without doubt, he is mistaken, but the mistakes are in a negligible minority compared with the occasions when he grasps the truth. That is why good sense is right against the intellectualists in believing in history, which is not a “fable agreed upon," but what the individual and humanity remember of their past. We strive to enlarge and to render as precise as possible this record, which in some places is dim, in others very clear. We cannot do without it, such as it is, and taken as a whole it is rich in truth. Only in a spirit of paradox can one doubt that there ever was a Greece or a Rome, an Alexander or a Cæsar, a feudal Europe overthrown by a series of revolutions, that on the ist of November 1517 the theses of Luther were fixed to the door of the church at Wittemberg, or that the Bastile was taken by the people of Paris on the 14th of July-1789.
“What proof hast thou of all this?” asks the sophist,
ironically. Humanity replies : “I remember it." Philosophy as The world of what has happened, of the concrete, of perfect science. historical fact, is the world called real, natural, including The so-called natural in this definition both the reality called physical and that sciences, and their limits.
called spiritual and human. All this world is intuition ; historical intuition, if it be shown as it realistically is ; imaginary or artistic intuition in the narrow sense, if presented in the aspect of the possible, that is to say, of the imaginable.
Science, true science, which is not intuition but concept, not individuality but universality, cannot be anything but science of the spirit, that is, of what reality has of universal : Philosophy. If natural sciences be spoken of, apart from philosophy, we must observe that these are not perfect sciences : they are aggregates of cognitions, arbitrarily abstracted and fixed. The socalled natural sciences indeed themselves recognize that they are surrounded by limitations, and these limitations are nothing but historical and intuitive data. They calculate, measure, establish equalities and uniformities, create classes and types, formulate laws, show in their own way how one fact arises out of other facts; but while doing this they are constantly running into facts known intuitively and historically. Even geometry now states that it rests altogether on hypotheses, since threedimensional or Euclidean space is but one of the possible spaces, selected for purposes of study because more convenient. What is true in the natural sciences is either philosophy or historical fact. What of properly naturalistic they contain, is abstraction and caprice. When the natural sciences wish to become perfect sciences, they must leave their circle and enter philosophy. They do this when they posit concepts which are anything but naturalistic, such as those of the unextended atom, of ether or vibration, of vital force, of non-intuitional space, and the like. These are true and proper attempts at philosophy, when they are not mere words void of meaning. The concepts of natural science are, without
doubt, most useful ; but one cannot obtain from them that system which belongs only to the spirit.
These historical and intuitive data which cannot be eliminated from the natural sciences furthermore explain not only how, with the advance of knowledge, what was once believed to be true sinks gradually to the level of mythological belief and fantastic illusion, but also how among natural scientists some are to be found who call everything in their sciences upon which reasoning is founded mythical facts, verbal expedients, or conventions. Natural scientists and mathematicians who approach the study of the energies of the spirit without preparation, are apt to carry thither such mental habits and to speak in philosophy of such and such conventions as “ decreed by man." They make conventions of truth and morality, and a supreme convention of the Spirit itself! But if there are to be conventions, something must exist which is no convention, but is itself the author of conventions. This is the spiritual activity of man. The limitation of the natural sciences postulates the illimitability of philosophy. These explications have firmly established that the The phenome
non and the pure or fundamental forms of knowledge are two : the
noumenon. intuition and the concept-Art, and Science or Philosophy. With these are to be included History, which is, as it
is were, the product of intuition placed in contact with the concept, that is, of art receiving in itself philosophic distinctions, while remaining concrete and individual. All other forms (natural sciences and mathematics) are impure, being mingled with extraneous elements of practical origin. Intuition gives us the world, the phenomenon, the concept gives us the noumenon, the Spirit.