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L'Idée de Dieu et ses Nouveaux Critiques. Par E. CARO. 8vo. Paris

and London. L. Hachette. In the discharge of his duty as a lecturer on metaphysics, M. Caro has taken the opportunity of cautioning his hearers against the popular errors of the present day. Matters of pure speculation, he thinks, although interesting in themselves, should give way to a discussion of those topics which are now engaging the notice of the whole world; and as the attacks of atheism and pantheism have assumed everywhere the most varied forms, so the champions of the truth should multiply their answers, and shew themselves at all the assailable points. From such a feeling the volume we have to consider has resulted; it is a kind of abstract of M. Caro's public teaching, and we trust that under its present shape it will meet with the success it assuredly deserves.

Our author's intention is to give in due succession the negative and the positive view of the subject; he will, at some future period, state what he conceives to be the true ideas of God, of immortality, and of man, in his relation both to this world and to the next; just now he describes what modern infidelity thinks of these all-important problems. The Idée de Dieu et ses Nouveaux Critiques may be summarily defned a sketch of Hegelianism and of its consequences.

We say Hegelianism, but the philosophy of Kant is responsible likewise, according to M. Caro, for a great proportion of the errors into which recent sophists have fallen. “ Condemnation of metaphysics, distrust with respect to our high faculties, represented as always carried away beyond their proper sphere, elimination of every reality not immediately amenable to experience, the whole development of critical philo. sophy, nay, of Positivism itself, is to be found in the Critique of Pure Reason."

Hegel's system strikes the student at once by the harmony with which all its constituent parts are blended together, by the vigour of the argumentation and the apparent grandeur of the whole scheme. Such a system, however, could not in its original form be presented as intellectual food to our French neighbours. Stripped of its abstract formulas, it was better adapted for the work it had to do, and its influence soon leavened the various categories of literature, history, and ästhetics. “ The negation of a real and living God; the idea of the divine personality considered as nonsense and below the notice of serious thinkers; the notion of a certain indeterminate Being placed at the origin of all things, an obscure principle which determines itself by the succession of phenomena under the twofold shape of nature and of history; the efficient and the final causes of the world represented as anterior to the world itself, immanent, not transcendent, which is the same as to say that the world is its own efficient and final cause; the identity of con

tradictory terms adopted, if not as the basis of a new system of logic, at least as an excellent principle of criticism. Such are a few of the leading ideas which have lately been put into circulation, and which are from the pure Hegelian stock.” M. Caro after thus shewing how the favourite theories of German metaphysicians have been modified to suit French tastes, proceeds to explain the dissolving nature of these theories, and the fatal revolutions they must bring about in every branch of human knowledge. Once admit that the good, the true, the beautiful, do not exist, but that they are in a constant state of formation, then the doctrine of the ideal disappears at once from the sphere of poetry and of the fine arts. Away with the great classical epochs; the most corrupt school of literature expresses a given moment in the necessary succession of ages, and it deserves therefore the same amount of study as the periods which have hitherto been the object of so much mistaken reverence.

It is equally evident that each fact being a given incident in universal reality, there is no possible reason why we should condemn as immoral and base all the deeds of wickedness with which history is full. They must necessarily have happened, they were calculated like the revolutions of a piece of machinery, or the vibrations of a pendulum. Our business is not to judge, but to understand them, to reduce them to their law. Thus morality and immorality in the modern vocabulary of historians are meaningless words, and history itself becomes a branch of natural philosophy.

The application of these doctrines to religion is of the highest importance, and deserves to be carefully noted. All systems aiming at giving an account of man's position with respect to the unknown world are equally reasonable; they merely shew how at various epochs in the history of the universe man represented to himself the divine; and the interest that belongs to them is exactly akin to the one we feel in surveying archæological specimens preserved on the shelves of a museum. God is no longer a personal Being, but merely the name given to a certain class of ideas (nomina, numina); here religion becomes a subjective phenomenon; immortality, heaven, future life, all these words sink into mere ignes fatui, capable of deceiving only weak minds; our reason is our heaven; we are immortal, in so far as we understand our dependance in the universal order of things—the wondrous mechanism of nature.

Such a system, in practice, leads to a kind of quietism based upon the necessary character of all that happens here below. What is liberty but the realization in this world of truth, justice, right? Now, if the true and the good, as Hegelians constantly repeat, are only the variable resultants of a certain combination of forces, if they are not a fixed goal to which we should ever be aiming, how can we apply our liberty? Shall we be satisfied with striving after phantoms ? M. Caro acknowledges that many of the disciples of Hegel are better than the system they advocate, and that they often sacrifice logic to their nobler sentiments; but this is just a simple piece of inconsistency which is conclusive against the views we are combating,



The remarks we have now been offering to our readers are the substance of a masterly discussion carried on by our author in his introductory chapter against the scientific atheists of the present day. Before taking separately the works of Messrs. Taine, Renan, and Vacherot, whom he selects as the chief representatives of this school, he has thought it advisable to study the primary sources from which the school itself is derived, and he terminates his prefatory tableau by proving in the clearest manner that, even whilst we reason on natural facts, we require some other test besides those supplied by empyricism.

Amongst the philosophers who appear in M. Caro's gallery, M. Renan is the one with whom English readers are most familiar, and therefore we shall devote to him the remaining portion of this short review. Some persons have seemed surprised at what they call the novelty of M. Renan's ideas on our Lord and his teaching; but the slightest acquaintance with the earlier productions of the author of La Vie de Jésus would have led them see that the latter work was nothing else but the application of theories carefully elaborated during the fourteen previous years, and expressed in the Etudes d'Histoire Religieuse. It is curious to see what effect the Vie de Jésus, when it first issued from the press, had upon those quasi-sceptics, who, already holding very loosely by positive religion, might naturally have been deemed especially open to M. Renan's influence. Let us, on this subject, consult M. Caro who has had the occasion of questioning a few of the persons to whom we are alluding. “ They are not satisfied. They tell us that when so serious a question is handled, it would not be out of place to think less of artistic perfection, and more of the exigences of criticism. If a man wishes to claim the right of drawing an inference, he must prove that he can argue a case. The circumstance was grave enough to justify a departure from the fastidious habits of an over-refined mind. In short, people have been at first astonished, and then fatigued and irritated at meeting nothing but inductions, conjectures, mere suppositions on the most solemn points of that history to which is suspended the moral life of the world. They have formed a flattering idea of the author's talent, but they affirm that talent alone was not what they expected to find in his book.”

M. Renan, accordingly, has by no means secured the suffrage of scientific readers. What the errors are of that theological novel, which he calls the Life of Jesus, competent critics have already abundantly demonstrated, and M. Caro does so himself in a masterly chapter (the third) to which we would earnestly draw the reader's attention. But the fact that the adepts of Hegelianism should have shrugged up their shoulders at this latest specimen of French unbelief, and spoken sneeringly of the science it was supposed to contain, is something calculated to humble even a vainer man than M. Renan.

At the same time it must be frankly acknowledged that the Vie de Jésus has enjoyed an amount of success which no work, treating of religious subjects and published during the last thirty years, can boast of having obtained. For this M. Renan is indebted to a party with




which he would certainly refuse to be identified; he, the arch-critic, the man “who lives aloft and who dreads to step down" (qui vit haut, et qui a peine à s'abaisser), we allude to that pseudo-liberal party identified with Voltaire, and denouncing Christianity in the name of freedom. For liberals of this description M. Renan's book was a kind of standard ; they raised it up and rallied around it their diminished forces. Then how pleasant it is to fancy that after a few hours' reading you are on a level with Paulus, Ewald, Strauss, and Feuerbach! How comforting to believe that you are still a Christian because, like M. Renan, you build up a kind of ideal Christianity, a religion free, individual, without dogma, without connecting tie, without either theology or church; an eclectic and sentimental religion which each one arranges and fashions according to his own views of God, admitting under this vague and confused name all great men, all great moralists, indiscriminately and on the same level, thus building for the future that Jerusalem, one day described to us by M. De Sacy, the Jerusalem with a hundred gates, upon which the name of Mahomet will be carved next to that of Moses, the name of Buddha next to that of Jesus Christ, and, in order to please everybody, the names of Voltaire and Rousseau next to those of St. Peter and St. Paul. We have here a Jerusalem which is strikingly similar to the tower of Babel. The only difference is this, the old Babel finished by the confusion of tongues, whilst the modern one begins by the confusion of ideas. It is promising.'"

What we like especially in M. Caro's volume is the constant, firm, out-spoken assertion of a personal living God, in opposition to the unsubstantial dreams of pantheism and the brutal denegations of atheism. He takes of the present state of religion in France a much less desponding view than some of his contemporaries. The very excitement caused by the publication of works like those of Messrs. Renan, Taine, and Vacherot is, he remarks, an excellent symptom. “ The inestimable price of the ideal truths which formed our belief and our hope has aroused in us a profound feeling, now that we think ourselves threatened to lose them, now that, through the efforts of modern criticism, the Infinite seems concealed beyond deeper obscurity. Let us not complain of the crisis through which we are passing, of the trial we are undergoing. Is not this doubtful of agitation, better for the dignity of philosophy than a weariness visited by neither thoughts nor dreams—than the common-place optimism which characterizes epochs of decay? We would add that many persons who know nothing of the Bible turn to it now out of mere curiosity, and for the sake of verifying the quotations or testing the statements of M. Renan : once brought into contact with the sacred volume, they seek in vain those fanciful descriptions, those assumed inconsistencies which savants make so much of; and finding themselves in the presence of Him who came to save us, they wonder how prejudice and the conceit of false learning could have led a writer, particularly proud of his critical powers, to accumulate within the compass of one volume so many absurdities.

G. M.



Auguste Comte, et la Philosophie Positive. Par E. LITTRE. 8vo.

Paris and London : Hachette. The biography of M. Auguste Comte is a work which, in more respects than

one, deserves to be noticed. Whatever opinion we may be inclined to form of the philosophical doctrines identified with the founder of Positivism, he was certainly, as a mathematician, one of the most eminent men of our times. His powers of application were extraordinary, and some of the views he has propounded will bear the test of severe criticism. But this is uot all. 1f the epithet were not almost incongruous, when applied to such a man, we might almost say that M. Auguste Comte was a theologian. At all events, he aimed at founding a new religion, based upon our connection, not with the unknown world, but with the world of sense. His system of philosophy comprised a scheme of divinity (very gross, to be sure); he was the chief of a church, and, as M. Littré remarks, towards the end of his career he had " instituted himself the Higb-priest of humanity; he was a kind of Pope, and, in that quality, he published briefs.

For various reasons, we have thought that a short account of M. Littré's excellent volume would interest our readers. It places before us the whole development of an important and still influential school ; it is written, besides, with a clearness, a method, a simplicity, which are truly fascinating; and last, though not least, it breathes a spirit of impartiality doubly valuable in a work of this character.

M. Littré has divided his biographical sketch into three parts. The first begins with the earliest labours of M. Auguste Comte, and takes us as far as the epoch when he asserted his position as an independent thinker, unfolding his doctrines in a course of lectures, beginning the composition of his large treatise, and shaking off altogether the bonds which, up to that time, had associated him with the school of Henri Saint Simon. M. Comte, as his historian observes, was primitively a revolutionist; and his efforts were, in the first instance, devoted to the destruction of the social and religious institutions then prevalent throughout Europe, and which, he thought, were diametrically opposed to the principles of 1789. Gradually brought to see the insufficiency of the mere negative process to counteract or annihilate existing erils, he applied his energies to the solution of the difficulties which seemed to him most important; and it was whilst endeavouring to construct a political system that he produced a philosophical theory applicable, as he deemed, to every manifestation of the human mind. M. Littré thus describes M. Auguste Comte in his capacity of a chef d'école, and he then goes on to enquire whether Positivism did not already exist in a germinal or rudimentary state in the teaching of some of the thinkers who flourished during the latter part of the eighteenth century. Kant, Turgot, and Condorcet are, according to M. Littré, the forerunners of Positivism, properly so called ; and this fact he endeavours to prove by a careful examination of the theories with which the names of these philosophers are associated. The distinctive merit of Turgot is that of having understood the law of progress, and more particularly of having


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