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and precisely because he had all the science of his times, it did not satisfy him; and at the close of his career he quitted his employment of Chancellor, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and retired or was exiled to Lyons, and there became master of a school for little children, as may be seen in a very remarkable treatise, de Parvulis ad Deum ducendis, of the Art of Leading Little Children to God. The most important work of Gerson is his treatise on Mystic Theology, Theologia Mystica. You will observe that he is not a recluse who falls naturally into mysticism, without knowing it; he is a philosopher, a man of business, a practical mind, who voluntarily renounces the world and science, and who, in preferring mysticism, knows perfectly well what he does, what he takes and what he quits. The writings of the learned and virtuous Chancellor have this originality, that they are perhaps the first mystic writings in the world that have consented to be called by this name. The author of the Bhagavad-Gita, and afterwards Plotinus and Proclus, present themselves as ordinary philosophers; we have called them mystics. Here, on the contrary, it is mysticism which describes itself and analyzes itself. The Theologie mystique is little known; I think, then, it will be well to cite to you some characteristic morcels.
According to Gerson, ordinary philosophy proceeds by a train of arguments, and leads regularly but slowly to God, by setting out through a multitude of media either from nature or from man. The peculiar property of mysticism is that of being based upon immediate intuition.* Mystic theology is not an abstract science, it is an experimental science; the experience which it invokes is neither the experience of the senses nor that of the reason, but the consciousness of a certain number of sentiments and phenomena which occur in the inmost recesses of the religious soul. This experience is real and leads also to a real system, but one which cannot be comprehended by those who have not proved
* Vol. iii. p. 366. “Quod si philosophia dicitur scientia procedens ex ex perientiis, mystica theologia vera erit philosophia."
facts of this order.* True science is then that of the religious sentiment, or of the immediate intuition of God through the soul. Let a man possess this immediate intuition and he has true science; and were such a man otherwise ignorant either of physics, or metaphysics, or of all other worldly and profane sciences, were he of feeble mind or even an idiot, he would be a true philosopher. Immediate intuition is an operation of the soul, which has the accompaniment of knowledge as its peculiar characteristic, and at the same time it does not proceed by successive argumentations, and it arrives directly at God, who, being once in contact with the soul, sends to it that light by means of which it discovers truth, the principles of all truth and all certitude; it is sufficient that the soul seize the terms in which these truths are expressed, in order to know these truths and believe in them immediately. Then reason is, as it were, on the verge of two worlds, on the verge of the corporeal world and of the intellectual world.f What immediate intuition is, in relation to knowledge, immediate desire of the highest good is in morals. In the order of knowledge, it is sufficient for the reason to conceive immediately the absolute good, to the end that, in the moral order, the mind may apply itself directly to this good, as soon as presented to it by the intelligence.
Mystic theology is, for many reasons, far superior to the speculative theology of the schools; here are four reasons:
* Vol. iii. p. 366. “Theologia mystica innititur ad sui doctrinam experientiis habitis intra in cordibus animarum devotarum. . . . illa autem experientia quæ extrinsecus habetur, nequit ad cognitionem immediatam vel intuitionem deduci illorum qui talium inexperti sunt."
+ Ibid. “Eruditi in ea, quomodo libet aliunde idiotæ sint, philosophi recta ratione nominantur."
Ibid., p. 370–371. “Intelligentia simplex est vis animæ cognoscitiva suscipiens immediate a Deo naturalem quamdam lucem in qua et per quam principia prima cognoscuntur esse vera et certissima, terminis apprehensis.Ratio constituitur velut in horizonte duorum mundorum, spiritualis scilicet et corporalis."
$ Ibid. “Synteresis est vis animæ appetitiva suscipiens immediate naturalem quamdam inclinationem ad bonum, per quam trahitur insequi monitionem boni, ex apprehensione simplicis intelligentiæ præsentati.”
1st, Mystic theology joins sentiment to intelligence; it elevates man above himself, warms him, gives him an experimental knowledge, and not an abstract knowledge, an experimental knowledge which is nothing less than God manifesting himself in man. 2d, In order to acquire it there is no necessity of being learned, it is sufficient to be a good man. 3d, It may arrive at the highest perfection without literature, whilst speculative theology cannot be perfect, if it does not attain step by step to the immediate intuition of God, to the apprehension of the sovereign good, that is, without a more or less intimate relation with mystic theology. Mystic theology, since it leads directly to God, can dispense with the science of the schools, and the science of the schools cannot dispense with mysticism if it would arrive at God. 4th, Mystic theology alone gives peace and happiness to the soul. Science is but a sterile exercise, in which man, believing that he is regularly approaching God, wanders from him, by wandering from himself; mystic theology is a salutary exercise, which sets out from the soul in order to arrive at God, and consequently never departs from reality.*
Finally, the end of mysticism is the exaltation, not of the imagination, not of the intelligence alone, but of the entire mind, composed at once of imagination and intelligence, an exaltation which ends in unification with God.
You see that this is nothing more nor less than ecstasy,s the Alexandrian and Oriental ecstasy. Thus the mysticism of Gerson, the mysticism engendered by the debates of the two systems nominalism and realism, reproduced, little by little, the same mysticism which we have already encountered in Greece and India; and it reproduced it after a more or less considerable appearance of skepticism, after the more or less general decrial of idealism and of sensualism. The mysticism of Gerson stops at ecstasy, as the scholastic skepticism stops at the abandonment of the form of a false system of dialectics, as the sensualism of Occam stops at the contempt of the absurd entities of idealism, and as this idealism itself wanders not into all the follies into which, both in Greece and India, we have seen the Vedan idealism and the Neoplatonic idealism fall. Unfortunately it is not permitted us to bestow the honor of this sobriety upon the wisdom of the human mind; we are forced to refer it to its weakness and to the active and powerful surveillance of ecclesiastical authority. Under this severe control, philosophy, less independent, is constrained to be more prudent; meanwhile, it is still in these narrow limits more or less idealistie, sensualistic, skeptical, and mystical. In the next lecture we will examine what it was in its days of independence: we will enter into modern philosophy, properly so called.
* Ibid. Considerat. XXIX-XXXII., etc.
+ Ibid. Ibid. Consider. xxvi. p. 391: “Exstasim dicimus speciem quamdam raptus qui fit appropriatius in superiori portione animæ rationalis. . . . Est extasis raptus mentis, cum cessatione omnium operationum in inferioribus potentiis.” See what follows on ecstatic love, and on its power of uniting the soul to God.
PHILOSOPHY OF THE PERIOD OF THE REVIVAL.
Subject of this lecture: philosophy of the fifteenth and of the sixteenth
centuries.-Its character and its origin.-Classification of all its systems into four schools. 1st, Platonic idealistic school: Marsilio Ficino, the Picos of Mirandola, Ramus, Patrizzi, Giordano Bruno.—2d, Peripatetic sensualistic school: Pomponatius, Achillini, Cesalpini, Vanini, Telesio, Campanella.3d, Skeptic school: Sanchez, Montaigne, Charron.-4th, Mystic school : Marsilio Ficino, the Picos, Nicholaus Cusanus, Reuchlin, Agrippa, Paracelsus, Society of the Rosicrucians, Robert Fludd, Van Helmont, Böhme.Comparison of the four schools.-Conclusion.
SCHOLASTICISM had its day. You have seen what, by turns, it necessarily became, at first the humble servant of theology, afterwards its respected ally, finally attempting liberty, and loosening gradually, without breaking, the bonds which it had borne during six centuries. We have distinguished these three momenta in the history of scholasticism; but it is not less true that its general character is the subordination of philosophy to theology, whilst that of modern philosophy is the complete secularization of philosophy. Scholasticism ceases then towards the commencement of the fifteenth century, and modern philosophy begins with the first days of the seventeenth. Between them there is a transition, an intermediate epoch, a precise idea of which it behooves us to obtain.
It is unnecessary to exhibit to you the great events which have distinguished the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in the social, scientific, and literary order; it is sufficient to remind you that what characterizes these two great centuries, is in general the spirit of adventure, a superabundant energy, which after being long nourished and fortified in silence under the severe discipline of the Church, is displayed in every sense and in every way when the passage is open to it. So it was with the philoso