only, the first age of modern philosophy closed and an entirely new development began for it: a new dogmatism, a new empiricism, and a new idealism appear, which will produce a new skepticism, which will engender a new mysticism; then, in short, begins the second age of modern philosophy, which is the philosophy of the eighteenth century properly so called. Before entering upon it, let us cast a last look upon the age which I have traced, and which we will abandon to-day.

Observe that this great period of the history of philosophy, viewed in all its phenomena, has resolved itself into the same classification in which the systems of India, of Greece, of scholasticism, and of the revival have arranged themselves. Here we have not only the same classification of systems, but moreover the same formation. Idealism and empiricism first present themselves; they rapidly produce skepticism, and it is only when skepticism has decried idealistic and empiric dogmatism that mysticism begins to appear, or at least to take a high importance. Thus behold modern philosophy, at its commencement, provided with the four elementary systems of all philosophy. Behold it constituted. In fact, a philosophy is not constituted so long as it has not all its organic elements, and it has all its organic elements only when it is in possession of the four systems which I have designated to you. Modern philosophy has taken a century and a half to form itself and to acquire the elements which are necessary to it; its first age extends from the first years of the seventeenth century to the middle of the eighteenth. Then only it was constituted; but it was constituted, and its future is secure; and unless some great catastrophe should suddenly take place, the principles which it contains must receive their development.

So much for its interior constitution; its exterior constitution is equally good. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, modern philosophy had but one home, or at least it had a principal home, Italy. It was in Italy that the philosophy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries shone forth in splendor; other countries did little else than reflect it. But in the seventeenth century all Europe became the theatre of philosophy; philosophy was everywhere acclimated; it thrust its roots into the very heart of Europe, in France, in England, in Germany; these were the equal and different homes of modern civilization. If philosophy had remained in Italy, where would it now be ? But, thank God, it descended to the seventeenth century, from that ingenious and unfortunate Italy, into those strong and fruitful lands which belong ever to the new spirit, France, England, Germany; and there it has materially secured, thus to speak, the immense future which its interior constitution promised to it.

Add that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, philosophy had scarcely any means of expression save a single language, and that too a dead language, the Latin; there were doubtless some exceptions, but in the seventeenth century the Latin language became the exception; then philosophy everywhere began to make use of national languages, which it enriched and regulated. There are very few great philosophical works in the seventeenth century which are not written in French* or in English ;f the Latin language was still sustained in the North and in Germany, I yet somewhat barbarous and destitute of language and of literature. Leibnitz, however, was beginning to write in German on philosophical matters, inviting his compatriots to imitate his example, and Wolf sometimes followed it.

Behold modern philosophy then, at the end of the seventeenth century, constituted, I repeat it, interiorly and exteriorly; it possessed its four necessary elements; it was naturalized in the three great nations which represented civilization; it had at its service living languages, full of the future, and which placed it in direct communication with the masses. Thus it marched forward, to become one day an independent, universal, and almost popular power.

Descartes, Malebranche, Arnauld, Fenelon, Bossuet, often Leibnitz, Bayle, Poiret in part.

+ Several parts of Bacon and of Hobbes, Locke, Glanville, Cudworth, Berkeley.

1 The Hollander Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Wolf in part, Swedenborg. $ See Leibnitz's Deutsche Schrifften, of M. Guhrauer, 2 vol. in-18, 1888–1840.

In closing, I should make some apologies to you for reaching so slowly the very heart of my subject, the history of philosophy in Europe during the eighteenth century. I fear lest you may have found these prolegomena both too short and too long. But one may abridge and not be superficial, and I flatter myself that in this rapid sketch not one celebrated school, not one important name, and consequently not a single important element of the history of philosophy, has been omitted. As to length, I shall be pardoned if you form a clear idea of my true aim. This aim is to draw philosophical conclusions from the study which we must pursue together of the philosophy of the eighteenth century: my road is historical, it is true, but my aim is dogmatical; I tend to a theory, and this theory I demand from history. But every theory founded upon history is related to it, and is measured by the extent of the historical space run over. Suppose that I operate upon a single century, the eighteenth for example: I believe that in examining closely this single century we shall find in it idealism, empiricism, skepticism, and mysticism, and thence we shall be able to draw a certain theory of the human mind and of its laws; but this theory will necessarily be as limited in its legitimate results as the single experience that serves it as a basis ; for do you know whether all centuries resemble the eighteenth? Do you know whether all the systems of every century enter into the plan of the classification of the systems of the eighteenth century? This page of the human mind, thus opened before you, is certainly more or less important; but thereby we can conclude nothing in regard to the human mind itself, for there are many other pages; its history fills many other centuries; and a legitimate theory of its nature and its laws must rest on a vast number of experiments. Now this theory is our avowed aim. In order to arrive at it, it was necessary then, in taking a single century, in order to study it thoroughly, it was necessary, I say, to rest this century on all anterior centuries, so Vol. II.


that it might be but its crown and pinnacle, and identify so well the essential elements of which it is composed, with those which the entire history of philosophy comprehend, that this single century might be legitimately taken for the faithful representative of universal history. Then the eighteenth century is no longer an accident, an isolated arbitrary experience; it is not by chance that the eighteenth century was divided into idealism, into empiricism, into skepticism, into mysticism; it was thus developed, because it could not be otherwise than thus developed, because in all the great epochs of philosophy we have found always and everywhere these four great systems which we may consider as the necessary, simple, and indecomposable elements of the history of philosophy.

At the commencement of the fourth lecture proposing this question: What is the philosophy of the eighteenth century? in what does it resemble the philosophy of anterior ages, in what does it differ from it? I answered that the philosophy of the eighteenth century resembles that of anterior ages in that it continues it, and that it differs from that philosophy in that it continues it in greater proportions and on a greater scale. What I then advanced I now repeat with more authority; for I now speak from the summit of the entire history of philosophy, and in the name of the laws of the human mind which three thousand years of experience have made known to us.

Let that be my excuse and my apology for these long prolegomena. You have thus far aided me by the promptness of your intelligence, while we have been travelling together through the centuries on the perilous heights of science and of history. I need the assistance of all your patience, now that I must lead you through the vast details of the philosophy of the eighteenth century.






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