them, and because it finds in its own many powerful minds. We have only to mechanism corresponding sequences of take care that in expressing those truths thought.

we do not use metaphors which are misIt was the work of a great German leading. We have only to remember that metaphysician towards the close of the last we must regard the mind and the laws of century to discriminate and define, more its operation in the light of that most systematically than had been done before, assured truth — the unity of nature. The some at least of those higher elements of mind has no “ moulds"” which have not thought over and above the mere themselves been moulded on the realities perception of external things, the mind of the universe - no

- forms

which it thus contributes out of its own structure did not receive as a part and a conseto the fabric of knowledge. In doing quence of a unity with the rest of nature. this he did immortal service - proving its conceptions are not manufactured ; that when men talked of “experience they are developed. They are not made ; being the source of knowledge, they for- they simply grow. The order of the laws got that the whole process of experience of thought under which it renders intelpresupposes the action of innate laws of ligible to itself all the phenomena of the thought, without which experience can universe, is not an order which it invents, neither gather its facts nor reach their but an order which it simply feels and interpretation. “Experience," as Kant sees. And this "vision and faculty dimost truly said, is nothing but a "syn- vine” is a necessary consequence of its thesis of intuitions”

- a building up or congenital relations with the whole sysputting together of conceptions which the tem of nature — from being bone of its access of external nature finds ready to bone, flesh of its flesh — from breathing be awakened in the mind. The whole of its atmosphere, from living in its light, this process is determined by the mind's and from having with it a thousand points own laws — a process in which even of contact visible and invisible, more than observation of outward facts must take its we can number or understand. place according to principles of arrange- And yet so subtle are the suggestions ment in which alone all explanation of of the human spirit in disparagement of them consists, and out of which any its own powers so near and ever presunderstanding of them is impossible. ent to us is that region which belongs to

And yet this great fact of a large part the unsatisfied reserve of power that of our knowledge — and that the most the very fact of our knowledge arising out important part — coming to us out of the of our organic relations with the rest of very furniture and constitution of the nature has been seized upon as only castmind itself, has been so expressed and ing new discredit on all that we seem to presented in the language of philosophy know. Because all our knowledge arises as rather to undermine than to establish out of these relations, therefore, it is said, our confidence in the certainty of knowl- all our knowledge of things must be itself edge. For if the mind is so spoken of relative; and relative knowledge is not and represented as to suggest the idea knowledge of “things in themselves.” of something apart from the general sys. Such is the argument of metaphysicians tem of nature, and if its laws of thought are an argument repeated with singular looked upon as

- forms

or moulds into unanimity by philosophers of almost every which, by some artificial arrangement or school of thought. By some it has been by some mechanical necessity, everything made the basis of religious proof. By from outside must be squeezed and made some it has been made the basis of a reato fit - then it will naturally occur to us soned scepticism. By others it has been to doubt whether conceptions cut out and used simply to foil attacks upon belief. manufactured under such conditions can The real truth is that it is an argument be any trustworthy representation of the useless for any purpose whatever, betruth. Such, unfortunately, has been the cause it is not itself true. The distincmode of representation adopted by many tion between knowledge of things in their philosophers -- and such accordingly has relations, and knowledge of things "in been the result of their teaching. This themselves,” is a distinction without a is the great source of error in every form meaning. In metaphysics the assertion of the idealistic philosophy, but it is a that we can never attain to any knowlsource of error which can be perfectly edge of things in themselves does not eliminated, leaving untouched and un- mean simply that we know things only doubted the large body of truths which in a few relations out of many. It does has made that philosophy attractive to so l not mean even that there may be and


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probably are a great many relations which strated than by quoting the words in which we have not faculties enabling us to con- this favorite doctrine is expressed by Sir ceive. All this is quite true, and a most William Hamilton. Speaking of important truth. But the metaphysical knowledge of matter he says: distinction is quite different. It affirms name for something known for that that if we knew things in every one of the which appears to us under the forms of relations that affect them, we should still extension, solidity, divisibility, figure, be no nearer than before to a knowledge motion, roughness, smoothness, color, of "things in themselves.”. “It is proper heat, cold,” etc. “But,” he goes on to to observe,” says Sir W. Hamilton, “that say, as these phenomena appear only in had we faculties equal in number to all conjunction, we are compelled by the the possible modes of existence, whether constitution of our nature to think them of mind or matter, still would our knowl. conjoined in and by something; and as edge of mind or matter be only relative. they are phenomena, we cannot think If material existence could exhibit ten them the phenomena of nothing, but must thousand phenomena, if we possessed ten regard them as the properties or qualities thousand senses to apprehend these ten of something that is extended, figured, thousand phenomena of material exist- etc. But this something, absolutely and ence, of existence absolutely and in itself in itself -- i.e., considered apart from its we should then be as ignorant as we are at phenomena -- is to us as zero. It is only present.” The conception here is that in its qualities, only in its effects, in its there is something to be known about relative or phenomenal existence, that it things in which they are not presented as is cognizable or conceivable; and it is in any relation to anything else. It affirms only by a law of thought which compels that there are certain ultimate entities in us to think something absolute and unnature to which all phenomena are due, known, as the basis or condition of the and yet which can be thought of as hav- relative and known, that this something ing no relation to these phenomena, or to obtains a kind of incomprehensible reality ourselves, or to any other existence what to us." The argument here is that beever. Now, as the very idea of knowledge cause phenomena are and must be the consists in the perception of relations, properties or qualities of something

“ ' this affirmation is, in the purest sense of else,” therefore we are “compelled to the word, nonsense - that is to say, it is think” of that something as having an a series of words which have either no existence separable from any relation to meaning at all or a meaning which is self-its own qualities and properties, and that contradictory. It belongs to the class of this something acquires from this reason. propositions which throw just discredit ing a “kind of incomprehensible reality"! on metaphysics — mere verbal proposi- There is no such law of thought. There tions, pretending to deal with conceptions is no such necessity of thinking nonsense which are no conceptions at all, but empty as is here alleged. All that we are comsounds. The “unconditioned,” we are pelled to think is that the ultimate constitold, “is unthinkable : ” but words which tution of matter, and the ultimate source are unthinkable had better be also un- of its relations to our own organism, are speakable, or at least unspoken. It is unknown, and are probably inaccessible altogether untrue that we are compelled to us. But this is a very different conto believe in the existence of anything ception from that which affirms that if we which is unconditioned" in matter did know or could know these ultimate with no qualities — in minds with no truths we should find in them anything character — in a God with no attributes. standing absolutely alone and unrelated Even the metaphysicians who dwell on to other existences in the universe. this distinction between the relative and It is, however, so important that we the unconditioned admit that it is one to should define to ourselves as clearly as which no idea can be attached. Yet, in we can the nature of the limitations which spite of this admission, they proceed to affect our knowledge, and the real inferfound many inferences upon it

, as if it ences which are to be derived from the had an intelligible meaning. Those who consciousness we have of them, that it have not been accustomed to metaphysi. may be well to examine these dicta of cal literature could hardly believe the metaphysicians in the light of specific flagrant unreason which is common on instances. It becomes all the more inthis subject. It cannot be better illus- portant to do so when we observe that the

language in which these dicta are exLectures, vol. i., p. 145.

pressed generally implies that knowledge




which is "only relative" is less genuine can be thought of or conceived as neither or less absolutely true than some other a cause nor a consequence, but solitary kind of knowledge which is not explained, and unrelated. On the contrary, all that except that it must be knowledge of that remains unexplained is the nature and which has no relation to the mind.

cause of its relations - its relations on There is a sense (and it is the only the one hand to the elements out of which sense in which the words have any mean- vegetable vitality has combined it, and ing) in which we are all accustomed to say its relations on the other hand to the still that we know a thing“ in itself,” when we higher vitality which it threatens to dehave found out, for example, its origin, or stroy. Its place in the unity of nature is its structure, or its chemical composition, the ultimate object of our search, and as distinguished from its more superficial this unity is essentially a unity of relaaspects. If a new substance were offered tions, and of nothing else.

That unity to us as food, and if we examined its ap- everywhere proclaims the truth that there pearance to the eye, and felt its consis- is nothing in the wide universe which is tency to the touch, and smeltits odor, and unrelated to the rest. finally tasted it, we should then know as Let us take another example. Until much about it as these various senses modern science had established its methcould tell us. Other senses, or other ods of physical investigation, light and forms of sensation, might soon add their sound were known as sensations only. own several contributions to our knowl. That is to say, they were known in terms edge, and we might discover that this sub- of the mental impressions which they imstance had deleterious effects upon the mediately produce upon us, and in no other human organism. This would be know- terms whatever. There was no proof ing, perhaps, by far the most important that in these sensations we had any things that are to be known about it. knowledge “in themselves” of the exterBut we should certainly like to know nal agencies which produce them. But more, and we should probably consider now all this is changed. Science has disthat we had found out what it was “in covered what these two agencies are “in itself,” when we had discovered farther, themselves;” that is to say, it has defor example, that it was the fruit of a tree. fined them under aspects which are Chemistry might next inform us of the totally distinct from seeing or hearing, analysis of the fruit, and might exhibit and is able to describe them in terms adsome alkaloid to which its peculiar prop- dressed to wholly different faculties of erties and its peculiar effects upon the conception. Both light and sound are in body are due. This, again, we should the nature of undulatory movements in certainly consider as knowing what it is elastic media – to which undulations our “in itself.” But other questions respect. organs of sight and hearing are respecing it would remain behind. How the tively adjusted or “attuned.” In these tree can extract this alkaloid from the organs, by virtue of that adjustment or inorganic elements of the soil, and how, attuning, these same undulations when so extracted, it should have such “translated” into the sensations which and such peculiar effects upon the animal we know. It thus appears that the facts body, — these, and similar questions, we as described to us in this language of senmay ask, and probably we shall ask in sation are the true equivalent of the facts vain. But there is nothing in the inac- as described in the very different lancessibility of this knowledge to suggest guage of inteliectual analysis. The eye that we are absolutely incapable of under. is now understood to be an apparatus for standing the answer if it were explained enabling the mind instantaneously to

On the contrary, the disposition appreciate differences of motion which we have to put such questions raises a are of almost inconceivable minuteness. strong presumption that the answer The pleasure we derive from the harwould be one capable of that assimilation monies of color and of sound, although by our intellectual nature in which all un. mere sensations, do correctly represent derstanding of anything consists. There the movement of undulations in a definite is nothing in the series of phenomena order; whilst those other sensations which which this substance has exhibited to us we know as discords represent the actual — nothing in the question which they clashing and disorder of interfering waves. raise — which can even suggest the idea In breathing the healthy air of physical that all these relations which we have discoveries such as these, although the traced, or any others which may remain limitations of our knowledge continually behind, are the result of something which | haunt us, we gain nevertheless a trium:


to us.


phant sense of its certainty and of its come from luminous bodies. This was a truth. Not only are the mental impres. relation - but a relation of the vaguest sions, which our'organs have been so con- and most general kind. As compared structed as to convey, a true interpretation with this vague relation the new relation of external facts, but the conclusions we under which we know them is knowledge draw as to their origin and their source, of a more definite and of a higher kind. and as to the guarantee we have for the Light and sound we now know to be accuracy of our conceptions, are placed on words or ideas representing not merely the firmest of all foundations. The any one thing or any two things, but espemirror into which we look is a true mirror, cially a relation of adjustment between a reflecting accurately and with infinite fine number of things. In this adjustment ness the realities of nature. And this light and sound, as known to sense, do great lesson is being repeated in every "in themselves " consist. Sound becomes new discovery, and in every new applica- known to us as the attunement between tion of an old one. Every reduction of certain aerial pulsations and the auditory phenomena to ascertained measures of apparatus. Light becomes known to us force; every application of mathematical | as a similar or analogous attunement beproof to theoretical conceptions; every tween the ethereal pulsations and the detection of identical operations in diverse optic apparatus. Sound in this sense is departments of nature; every subjection not the aerial waves “in themselves,” but of material agencies to the service of in their relation to the ear. Light is not mankind; every confirmation of knowl-the ethereal undulations “in themselves,” edge acquired through one sense by the but in their relation to the eye. It is only evidence of another, every one of these when these come into contact with a préoperations adds to the verifications of arranged machinery that they become science, confirms our reasonable trust in what we know and speak of as light and the faculties we possess, and assures us sound. This conception, therefore, is that the knowledge we acquire by the found to represent and express a pure careful use of these is a real and substan. relation; and it is a conception higher tial knowledge of the truth.

than the one we had before, not because If now we examine the kind of knowl- it is either less or more relative, but beedge respecting light and sound which cause its relativity is to a higher faculty recent discoveries have revealed to us, as of the intellect or the understanding. compared with the knowledge which ive And indeed, when we come to think of had of them before these discoveries it, we see that all kinds of knowledge were made, we shall find that there is an must take their place and rank according important difference. The knowledge to this order of precedence. For as all which we had before was the simple and knowledge consists in the establishment elementary knowledge of sensation. As of relations between external facts and compared with that knowledge the new the various faculties of the mind, the knowledge we have acquired respecting highest knowledge must always be that light and sound is a knowledge of these in which such relations are established things “in themselves." Such is the lan- with those intellectual powers which are guage in which we should naturally ex- of the highest kind. Hence we have a press our sense of that difference, and in strictly scientific basis of classification so expressing it we should be expressing for arranging the three great subjects of an important truth. The newer knowl- all human inquiry — the what, the how, edge is a higher knowledge than the older and the whence or why. These are steps and simpler knowledge which we had in an ascending series. What things are, before. And why? Wherein does this how they come to be, and for what pur. higher quality of the new knowledge con- pose they are intended in the whole sys. sist? Is it not in the very fact that the tem of nature — these are the questions, new knowledge is the perception of a each rising above the other, which correhigher kind of relation than that which spond to the order and the rank of our we had perceived before? There is no own faculties in the value and importance difference between the two kinds of of their work. knowledge in respect to the mere abstract It is the result of this analysis to estabcharacter of relativity. The old was as lish that, even if it were true that there relative as the new; and the new is as could be anything in the universe existing relative as the old. Before the new dis- out of relation with other things around coveries sound was known to come from it, or if it were conceivable that there sonorous bodies, and light was known to I could be any knowledge of things as they





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so exist, it would be not higher knowl

From The Cornhill Magazine. edge, but infinitely lower knowledge than that which we actually possess. It could SOME

MISS WILLIAMSON'S at the best be only knowledge of the “ what," and that too in the lowest conceivable form — knowledge of the barest, driest, nakedest existence, without value From Miss Sophy King in Switzerland or significance of any kind. And further,

to Miss Williamson in Old Street, it results from the same analysis that the

London, W. relativity of human knowledge, instead

“DEAREST Miss WILLIAMSON, Your of casting any doubt upon its authenticity, two letters have come flying through the is the very characteristic which guaran-ravines and over the waterfalls, and the tees its reality and its truth. It results sunlight on the plains and the half-way further that the depth and completeness storms, and through all the freshness as of that knowledge depends on the degree well as the less agreeable whiffs from the in which it brings the facts of nature into village. We are very comfortably en relation with the highest faculties of camped at our hotel; mamma is wondermind.

fully well for her. My father is in It must be so if man is part of the great Scotland, but we are not lonely, and have system of things in which he lives. It found several friends here. Chief among must be so, especially if in being part of them are your friends the Arnheims, who it, he is also the highest visible part of it only went down to Interlaken this morning

- the product of its “laws ” and (as re- we follow on Monday. Mr. Arnheim gards his own little corner of the universe) has an engagement to play at the concerts the consummation of its history.

there. Fina, the little girl, has started up Nor can there be any doubt as to what wonderfully, and reaches her father's are the supreme faculties of the human shoulder. I told her I should be writing mind. The power of initiating changes to you, and she sent you her love and in the order of nature and of shaping begged me to tell you that she mends her them from the highest motives to the father's clothers now, and adds up the noblest ends — this, in general terms, bills, and keeps all the money. She has may be said to include or to involve them grown very like her poor mother, whom I all. They are based upon the ultimate remember seeing at your lodgings in Old and irresolvable power of will, with such Street. I wonder if those very disagreefreedom as belongs to it; upon the fac-able people, her relations, are living near ulty of understanding the use of means you still; that pompous Miss Ellis and to ends, and upon the moral sense which the colonel, and the silent younger sister recognizes the law of righteousness, and and the delightful old lady; and I wonthe ultimate authority on which it rests. der if you, too, are in your usual corner, If the universe or any part of it is ever where I can see you as plainly as I can to be really understood by us — if any- see mamma in her chair on the terrace thing in the nature of an explanation is opposite. This is written from a broad ever to be reached concerning the system green balcony overhung with clematis ; of things in which we live, these are the all the people come out of the diningperceptive powers to which the informa- room and sit here to look at the moun. tion must be given — these are the facul- tains. ties to which the explanation must be “ The day the Arnheims were here they addressed. When we desire to know the took me out for a long day in the mounnature of things “in themselves," we tains. Mr. Arnheim led the way, Fina desire to know the highest of their rela- and I followed. One cannot talk, but one tions which are conceivable to us: we goes on climbing ever through changing desire, in the words of Bishop Butler, to lights, from one height to another, higher know “the Author, the cause, and the and higher still. We left autumn at the end of them.”

foot of the mountain, and after a time

found ourselves in summer and spring • Sermon "On the Ignorance of Man."

ve, striking the blue sky, hung winter snows and crystals, but round us was spring. A flood of fragrant Alpine fowers spread by every rocky ridge, along every Alp and plateau, rhododendrons crimson incandescent; violets and saxifrage, and light iris lilies with a

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