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What have been their means of expression? What languages have they used ? This is important, for the introduction of the vulgar tongues into philosophy, therein exhibits more or less the independence and originality of thought. I do not find that any peripatetic then wrote in a vulgar 'tongue. In the Platonic school, near the close, and even towards the middle of the sixteenth century, the employment of a national language began; we find the Dialectics of Ramus* in pretty good French; and Giordano Bruno wrote several works in Italian. As to skepticism, Sanchez excepted, it always made use of a vulgar tongue, the French. I conclude then that sensualism and idealism were, especially during the fifteenth century, borrowed systems, and that there was more originality in skepticism. I say as much of mysticism. If in its first developments, in the Florentine school, it speaks the appropriate language of this school, the Latin, it ended by speaking in Böhme a vulgar tongue. It must be observed that Jacob Böhme wrote all his works in the only language that he knew, and that was known around him, the German; a circumstance which makes of the mysticism of Böhme a system more natural and serious than that of Ficino and of the Picos of Mirandola.
Finally, if I seek out the good and the evil part in the philosophy of these two centuries, it seems to me that the good is especially found in the immense career which the free imitation of antiquity has opened to the human mind, and in the fruitful fermentation which systems so numerous and so diverse must have excited in European philosophy. This is a benefit which must balance all inconveniences, for from that must have proceeded whatever was good in the future. When we read the life, the adventures, and the enterprises of Ramus, of Giordano Bruno, of Telesio, and of Campanella, we feel that Bacon and Descartes are not far off. The evil is in the predominance of the spirit of imitation which engenders immense confusion and is betrayed by the absence of method. Absence of method, such is the capital fault of the philosophy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is marked in two ways: 1st, This philosophy scarcely establishes the relation of the different parts of which it is composed; metaphysics, morals, politics, physics are not therein united among themselves by those intimate ties which attest the presence of a single and profound thought. 2d, It cannot discern, and does not seek out among the different parts which it embraces that which must be the fundamental part and the basis of the whole edifice. We thus begin in every thing, to go, we know not to what; there is no order of research which may be accepted as the fixed and necessary point from which philosophy must set out in order to reach its ultimate aim. Or if we wished to find a point of departure common to all systems, we might say that this point of departure is taken in ontology, that is, outside of human nature. We begin in general by God or by external nature, and we arrive as well as we can at man, and that too, without any very well-defined rule, without establishing this manner of proceeding as a principle and as a method. Hence the necessity of a revolution whose character must have been the opposite of that of the philosophy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to wit, the introduction of a method, and of a method which must have been the opposite of the confused practice of the preceding epoch, the opposite of ontology, that is, psychology. It is this fruitful revolution, with the great systems which it has produced, that I propose to make known to you in my next lecture.
* Dialectique de Pierre de La Ramée, à Charles de Lorraine cardinal, son Mécène, Paris, in-4, 1555. † Della causa, principio et uno.
Degli eroici furori.
La Bestia trionfante. - Dell' infinito, universo e mondi ; finally the Candelaio, come diadel Bruno Nolano, achademico di nulla achademia, detto il fastidito. " In tristitia hilaris, in hilaritate tristis,” Pariggi, 1582.
MODERN PHILOSOPHY. SEVENTEENTH CENTURY. SENSUAL
ISM AND IDEALISM.
Modern philosophy. Its general character.—Two ages in modern philoso
phy: the first age is that of the philosophy of the seventeenth century, properly so called.-Schools of the seventeenth century. Sensualistic school: Bacon, Hobbes, Gassendi, Locke. Idealistic school : Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche.
The philosophy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries released the human mind from scholasticism, from slavery to a foreign principle-authority; at the same time it prepared it for modern philosophy, for absolute independence, and conducted it from scholasticism to modern philosophy by the intermediation of an epoch wherein authority still reigned, but an authority much more flexible than that of the middle age, the authority of philosophic antiquity. The philosophy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is, as it were, the education of modern thought by ancient thought. Its character is an ardent and often blind imitation ; its necessary result was a universal fermentation, and the want of a definitive revolution. This revolution was consummated in the seventeenth century; it is modern philosophy properly so called.
The most general feature which distinguishes it is an entire independence; it is independent both of the authority which reigned in scholasticism, the ecclesiastical authority, and of the authority which reigned in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the admiration of ancient genius. It breaks with every thing past, thinks only of the future, and feels capable of drawing the future from itself. On one hand it might be said that from fear of being charmed by the genius of Plato and of Aristotle, it turns away from them designedly, and even ignorance and disdain of them seem the ransom of independence. Bacon and Leibnitz excepted, all the great philosophers of the new era, Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche, Hobbes, Locke, and their disciples, have no knowledge of, and no respect for antiquity; they scarcely read any thing else than what is found in nature and in consciousness. On the other hand, the progressive secularization of philosophy is evident on all sides : inquire, for example, who are the two great men that founded modern philosophy? Do they belong to the ecclesiastical body, that body which, in the middle age, furnished scholasticism with so many great interpreters ? No, the two fathers of modern philosophy are two laymen; and, with a few exceptions, it may be said that from the seventeenth century up to our own times, the most illustrious philosophers have not come from the ranks of the Church. Philosophical instruction was, in the middle age, confined to cloisters and convents. Universities were soon after established; this was a considerable step, for in the universities, even of the middle age, were found professors taken from among the laity. The seventeenth century witnessed the establishment of a new institution, which is to universities what universities were to convents; I mean academies. They began in Italy towards the close of the sixteenth century, but it was especially in the seventeenth century that they spread throughout Europe. There are three which from their first institution acquired the greatest glory, and were extremely useful to the free culture of thought. These are, 1st, The Royal Society of London, established on the plan of Bacon ;* 2d, the Academy of Sciences at Paris, a useful creation of the genius of Colbert, as the French Academy had been the brilliant creation of the genius of Richelieu ; 3d, the Academy of Berlin, not only foundedt on the plan of Leibnitz, but by Leibnitz himself, who was its first president, and who edited the first volume of its transactions.