The Seventeenth Century


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THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

THE SEVENTEENTH by

EMILE ,BREHIER

TRANSLATED BY WADE BASKIN

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS CHICAGO AND LONDON

677

H

210153

Originally published in 1938 as Histoire de

La Philosophic moderne.

©

The

I:

la

philosophic:

Le dix-septieme

siecle.

1938, Presses Universitaires de France

present bibliography has been revised

and enlarged

to

include recent publications. These have been supplied by the translator and others.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 63-20912 The University of Chicago Press, Chicago London

&

The

University of Toronto Press, Toronto 5, Canada Translation 1966 by The University of Chicago

©

All rights reserved. Published 1966 Printed in the United States of America

WW CONTENTS

i

General Characteristics of the Seventeenth Century

ii

Francis Bacon and Experimental Philosophy in

Descartes and Cartesianism

iv

v

126

Thomas Hobbes Spinoza

vi

vii

Leibniz

141

155

Malebranche

viii

ix

Pascal

46

197

225

John Loc\e and English Philosophy

x

Bayle and Fontenelle INDEX

307

292

267

21

i



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY i

The Conception

of

Human

Nature:

Authority and Absolutism

no century has

exhibited less confidence than the

seventeenth century in the spontaneous forces of unbridled nature.

Where

could

we

find a

more wretched

the hapless victim of conflicting passions political thinkers

point

and moralists

man

portrait of natural

—than

that provided by

of the seventeenth century?

On

this

Hobbes agreed with La Rochefoucauld and La Rochefoucauld

with the Jansenist Nicole: Hobbes held that

men

in the state of

nature were sinister beasts of prey that could be subdued only by

an absolute

and the

ruler,

any charitable or

were unwilling

impulse in

altruistic

concupiscence could have

The

Jansenists

its

men

to

admit that

given, through sin, to

source outside divine grace.

seventeenth century was also the century of the Counter-

reformation and of absolutism.

The Counterreformation

eradicated

the pagan elements of the Renaissance and brought into full a Catholicism

and

souls of

aware of

men. The

hundred schools

its

obligation to offer guidance to the

Jesuit Society,

minds

which had more than two

in France, provided educators, spiritual directors,

and missionaries. Thomism universally taught i

bloom

and

as

formulated by the Jesuit Suarez was

finally

supplanted the doctrine of Melanch-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

2

The Counter-

thon, even in the universities of Protestant countries.

Rome and drew

reformation was instigated in private efforts.

The French

English royalty was Anglican.

support from

its

was Gallican and the

royalty itself

the rulers of France did not

Still,

shrink from using violent means to assure religious unity, and the

blow came when the revocation of the Edict of Nantes simply

final

did away with Protestantism.

The

absolutism of the king was not the power of a strong indi-

from

vidual to exact obedience

by violent means;

tige or

his subjects

was a

it

long minorities

when omnipotent

lute

more than

tion of

God,

is

imposed

it

by divine right but

exercised

who

benefits.

en-

during

in the

name

imposed is

abso-

subjugated to his task by

elec-

the exact opposite of the Renaissance tyrant.

by people

who

tolerated in religion

and

understood their necessity as well as their

Rigid rules constituted not thraldom but support, and with-

out them

man would

in his Essays. ritual

it

origin,

and the king, who

rights,

is first

Thus harsh measures were accepted and in politics

—even

it

ministers exercised

phenomenon, of divine

of the prince. This social duties even

phenomenon which

social

—independently of the person who

dured

through personal pres-

was

his

fall,

disjointed

Ceremony was

his

and uncertain,

guide in

Montaigne

social relations just as

guide in church.

There were instances of

resistance,

however, and they were

quent. In England, absolutism grounded lided with the

like

common

will

on divine

and succumbed;

fre-

right twice col-

in France, religious

unity was established only at the price of periods of persecution.

Throughout the seventeenth century Holland served the persecuted gal,

the Socinians

France

—but

endangered. its

from

it

all

countries

—the Jews from

from Poland, and

later

was a precarious refuge where

The

Catholic religion was

itself

as a refuge for

Spain and Portu-

the Protestants their lives

from

were often

threatened in France,

adopted country, by the quarrel of the Jansenists and the Moli-

nists

and, at the end of the century, by the

non's mysticism. Behind these

known

stir

facts lay

raised by

hidden an

Mme

Guy-

intellectual

ferment which was translated into thousands of incidents, books, or

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

3

lampoons

now

forgotten. Declarations in support of

freedom and

tolerance did not begin in the eighteenth century; they were heard

continually throughout the seventeenth century, especially in Eng-

land and in Holland, and the century drew to a close with a bitter

who

debate between Bossuet,

and

supported the divine right of kings,

Jurieu, the Protestant statesman

who defended

the sovereignty

of the people.

On

closer examination,

however,

we

find that these protestations

and debates bear the mark of the century they were not penned by :

individualists concerned only with

Here we should note tions of the century

promoting

their private opinions.

most

characteristic produc-

that one of the

was the

De

Hugo who men even

jure belli ac pacts (1625) of

Grotius (1583-1645), the author of the doctrine of natural law,

claimed he had discovered universal laws binding on

when

they resort to the use of force.

reason determines whether a

war

is

Not

all

individuals but impersonal

just or unjust,

whether a prince

has the right to impose a religion on his subjects, and what

Where

legitimate scope of his authority.

is

the

Machiavelli saw conflicts

between individual forces that could be resolved only through violence, Grotius

saw

clearly defined relations based

on law. Natural

commands or prohibits an action depending on whether such action is in harmony or disharmony with the nature of rational beings. The rule is in no way arbitrary and

law

is

a rule of reason that

could not be changed by tive law,

which

is

God

himself. Natural law

established either by

God

is

joined to posi-

(in matters of positive

religion) or by the sovereign (in matters of civil legislation); the

one great rule of positive law the

same token, within these

is

not to contradict natural law. By

limits, it is the

law of nature

to respect

positive law. Consequently, Grotius' system leads generally to the

conclusion that the established powers must be respected. For ex-

ample,

it

does not recognize the right of the people to

sovereign; indeed, the reason

why

the people

resist their

formed a nation and

weak to prevent them from

accepted a sovereign was that the individuals were too subsist alone.

Moreover, there was nothing to

giving their sovereign absolute control over their lives

—the control

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

4

a master has over his slaves.

The tendency

of his

ously to justify rationally certain positive laws

men

purpose of making

obvi-

is

—the laws of warfare,

Law

punishment, property, and sovereignty.

argument

not for the

exists

independent of each other but for the

purpose of uniting them. Although Grotius pleaded for tolerance

toward

all

atheists

and

who

those

to

natural religion

The

he drew the

positive religions,

is

when

to

as natural law.

question of tolerance was posed in the same

made by men who thought

spirit.

In Eng-

were of two kinds:

land, for example, pleas for tolerance

they were

came

it

denied the immortality of the soul:

binding

as

line

that they

either

were rediscovering

reason through a natural religion comprehensive enough to unite all

churches and bring an end to dissension, or they were directed

toward freedom of interpretation of the

Bible, "the only religion of

the Protestants," according to Chillingworth. Associated with pleas of the

De

men

kind were

veritate (1628)

versies all

first

like

Herbert of Cherbury,

the opinions of the doctors, or reject

know how separating common universal,

These

to choose."

necessary,

common

in his

advocated a means of ending religious contro-

men embrace

and "the stubbornness with which wretched

do not

who

*

The

them

choice

—which were certain—from

notions

and

wholesale, as

was

to be

if

they

made by

primitive, independent,

adventitious

all

beliefs.

notions constituted a veritable credo which predi-

cated a sovereign

power

that worship consisted

that

must be worshiped and which taught

mainly in a virtuous

life,

that vices

must

be expiated through repentance, and that vices would be punished after death just as virtue

would be rewarded

that established universal peace,

—a

natural religion

though not without a trenchant

criticism of the illusion of "private revelations"

and

for salvation.

same

At

the end of the century

Locke

especially of

was necessary

the notion that divine grace, individually bestowed, still

clung to the

notions.

Associated with pleas of the second kind were

men who

pre-

served the spirit of free thought inherited from the Reformation. 1

1639 edition,

p. 52.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE

5

But, according to

its

CE

N1 U

defenders, free thought

RY

had the

sole function

of eradicating gradually, through independent criticism, everything

Bossuet called "private opinions" and "variations," with the result that

was but another means of arriving

it

the route chosen

was

different

thought together with the

from

that of authority.

conflicts that

it

though

at "catholicity"

Freedom

of

implied seemed to Milton

{Areopagitica, written in 1644, after Cromwell's victory) to be the

must be won by continuous progress;

prerequisite of a truth that

the waters of truth "flow not in a perpetual progression, they

if

muddy

sicken into a

pool of conformity and tradition." Truth, of

course, "turns herself into

shapes except her own, and perhaps

all

tunes her voice according to the time," but this of skepticism:

"Truth

is

is

not an instance

strong next to the Almighty."

Whereas tolerance was linked

to a strong religious

2

sentiment,

which united men, the skepticism of the freethinkers led gious intolerance velli

—another

championed a

path to unity.

describes a state church that

state,

in

Commonwealth

would be

clergy in the universities. Conversely,

background that there emerged

to reli-

Machia-

disciples of

Hobbes provides us with

state religion.

example, and James Harington in his (1656)

The

it

good

a

Oceana

of

controlled by the

was against a

religious

England the idea of a

secular

completely independent of religion; at the beginning of the

century the Anabaptists proclaimed that a national church to which

belonged from birth contradicted

all

Holy

Spirit,

Despite

all

and they preached

faith, a

personal gift of the

revolt against intolerant princes.

these conflicts, advocates of a natural religion

revelation, defenders of tolerance,

and

3

and

apologists of a state religion

had a common goal: unity capable of binding individuals together and keeping them together. Socinianism, the

and England

movement

after the

that spread

from Poland

end of the sixteenth century,

to

also rejected

everything in religion subject to controversy and dissension. 2

Quoted by Denis Saurat, Milton

et le

Named

materialisme chretien en Angleterre (Paris,

—Trans.]

1928), p. 206. [English follows the Areopagitica. 3 Freund, Die Idee der Toleranz im England 1927), pp. 224-25.

Holland

der grossen

Revolution

(Halle,



6

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY who fled to Poland in The Socinians denied the

after

Faustus Socinus (Sozzini), an Italian

1579,

it

was

like a revival of

Arianism.

and the sacramental value of the

Trinity, the divinity of Christ,

Eucharist and infant baptism; furthermore, they denied the theory

which divine

of atonement according to

only through the suffering of God's

by eliminating

religion

all its

own

justice

son.

mysteries and

could be fulfilled

Thus

its

they simplified

supernatural side

not because they refused to base religion on the revelation of Scripture but because "they think that they are not excluding reason but

rather including

it

when

cient for salvation."

And

their plea for tolerance,

"With

under the same law

who

The Arminians after the

Synod

of

and

bond

that

hold different opinions

concerning divine things," they wrote to the (1614), "comes the collapse

suffi-

as the necessary con-

the severance of the

those

all

is

was joined

to the rationality of beliefs

which they posited

dition of social stability:

unites

Holy Scripture

they state that the

states

of

Holland

retrogression of everything."

or Remonstrants,

Dort (1618-19),

who

broke with Calvinism

tried in the

same way

to eradicate

from the theory of grace every element of mystery, everything incompatible with

human

notions of justice. Arminius (1 560-1 609)

denied the "absolute decree" of

God who,

according to Calvin,

predestines the salvation of the souls he elects; against

Gomarus (1563-1641)

that each

man was

and he argued responsible for

whatever sanctions he might incur.

Using a

different approach, the Catholics

seeking unity. in the

They found

unbroken

tradition

it

also

were diligently

only in divinely inspired authority,

and

discipline of the

Church (whereas

the other sects under discussion grounded their search

The

on reason).

debate about grace, which pitted Jansenists against Molinists

after

1640,

was a debate between theologians who accused one

another of being unfaithful to tradition or of breaching discipline.

Their

conflict focused attention

on

the Christian

life

itself

rather

than on theoretical discussions. In addition, the Jesuits adhered to the policy of transferring the

debate from the domain of doctrine and

dogma

to that of discipline.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

7

They had Port Royal condemned not for supporting dogma concerning grace but for resisting the authority and of the king. Richelieu kept

a particular of the pope

Cyran in prison in the

St.

fortress

of Vincennes after 1638, at the instigation of the Jesuits, because St.

Cyran had defended the

The main

rights of the secular hierarchy.

incident of the struggle hinged

on the question

of the

1649 the syndic of the faculty,

of spiritual authority. In

limits

Father Cornet, presented five propositions concerning efficacious grace to the faculty, hoping to have

them condemn the doctrine

advanced by Jansen and his supporters, but without naming

its

condemned by Pope Innocent although it was accepted without

author. These five propositions were

X

in

But

1653.

his

decision

protest

by Arnauld and

wished

to

—did not

go even further and have the

from

as extracts

"Are these fact,



his friends

who

five propositions identified

Jansen's Augustinus. Thus, to the question of law,

was added the question

five propositions heretical?"

"Are they Jansen's?" The

lished only

satisfy the Jesuits,

on the

validity of the

basis of authority,

law could be

but the validity of

facts

of

estab-

could

be established only by experience. Consequently, in 1654 a convocation of bishops decided that the five propositions were in the

Augustinus, not because they found them there but because the

seemed

bull of 1653

to

attribute

them

to

Jansen. In

1655

Alexander VII renewed the condemnation by treating those

Pope

who

did not believe that the propositions were Jansen's as "children of iniquity."

and the

A

formulary was drawn up setting

facts;

it

was

to

be signed by

religious orders in France. In 1665 a

of the formulary

all

new

down

clerics

and members of

bull prescribed the signing

and prohibited any accompanying

nuns of Port Royal kept protesting

both the law

that,

restriction.

The

although they submitted

completely to the pope with respect to the law, they could not affirm the existence of a fact that they

were not in a position

to verify

independently.

With respect to the heart of the dispute, the theory of grace, the aim of the Port-royalists (gratuitously called Jansenists) was to direct man's attention to his utter helplessness when isolated and sep-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

8

from the universal source of

arated

he

is

being.

all

Man

and what he can accomplish only through

power of

his will to

pursue the good

is

The

the influence of efficacious grace.

can learn what

and the

revelation,

realized fully only under

theory of efficacious grace

brings out clearly the deep-rooted hostility between the naturalistic

humanism

power of human

of antiquity proof of the tions

governing the Christian

tune, for

which claimed

of the Renaissance,

we must

whatever was

and

nature,

wonders

and the condi-

But the new emphasis was oppor-

life.

note that Jansenism

vital

to find in the

and even enhanced

left intact

fruitful in the intellectual current that

issued

from the sixteenth century. Nicole

object

is

not linked in any

way

had

said of geometry: "Its

to concupiscence."

4

Thus

there

—knowledge of things in the mateinterests have no part —where

a whole sphere of knowledge

is

world, astronomy, physics

rial

and where the

light of nature,

selfish

undimmed by

conceded that a observing the

society,

maxims

sin,

allows

man

to

Arnauld went even further and

discover the truth for himself.

whatever

its

nature, could not exist without

which are rooted in a natural law

of justice

and of which man has innate knowledge. The

Jansenists,

still

hostile

in this respect to Scholasticism, accepted every particle of Renais-

sance innatism; they were, in their

own

way, true humanists.

Truths revealed by the light of nature and conduct inspired by

it,

In

1

however, cannot justify us in the eyes of

641

Arnauld refuted the book of La Mothe

God and le

save us.

On

Vayer,

the

Virtue of the Pagans, in which the author marshaled telling examples

from antiquity

Christ.

we

if

5

Pagan

to

virtues

prove the are sterile

futility

and

of

illusory,

salvation

through

Arnauld

replied,

seek out their cause: ambition, vanity, the search for inner

satisfaction

in our

—in short, the fundamental sin that consists in believing

own

self-sufficiency.

This

is

true because nothing

more

closely

resembles the effects of charity than the effects of self-love. "In states

where

man 4

5

[charity]

cannot enter because true religion

is

excluded, a

can live as peacefully, as securely, and as comfortably as

Quoted by

J.

Ibid., p. 137.

Laporte,

La Doctrine de

la

Grace chez Arnauld,

p.

in,

n. 74.

if



CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

9

he were in a republic of the

main

ity,

kindness, moderation.

We

1665.

tive to pity, I

what he

recall

would do

believe that

and

my

The

What

Maxims were

celebrated

were completely

I

same views

Jansenists adopted the

am

written in

not very sensi-

insensitive to

one ought even .

go

to .

with expressing compassion without actually feeling

better

commentary could

If the Jansenists

were

on

there be

right, there

is

Still,

also

hold that one must be

also

I

I

much com-

so far as to express

but

.

it.

and

best to comfort a person in distress,

passion for his suffering satisfied

because self-love "imitates

is

said about himself: "I

wish

I

This

and produces "human decency," humil-

actions of charity"

La Rochefoucauld, whose

as

6

saints."

it."

7

Jansenist views!

no morality, no

virtue other

than Christian morality and Christian virtue. These must be separated

from worldly

which has

life,

They

support in nature or society. sort of

grace

own

its

they find no a

transmutation of our will under the influence of divine

—an

irresistible influence, yet

rather fortifies, free will

one that does not destroy, but

God and

the soul, instead

realities external to

each other, fuse

if it is

of being two complementary

true that

and interpenetrate under the influence of

The Conception

II

rules;

are possible only through

of External Nature:

Galileo, Gassendi,

Thus man's

grace.

and Atomism

idea of his

own

The and gave way to

new

nature took on a

individualistic ardor of the Renaissance subsided

form.

the belief that the individual

must be guided by order and unity

unity grounded on reason or

on

authority.

Man's image of external

nature had undergone a similar change: the taneity that

men

like

Bruno saw

rules of

mechanism; only

mained,

still

6

P.

7

in nature gave

(Paris,

way

faint traces of Renaissance

represented by Campanella.

Nicole, Essais de

ed. C. Jourdain

exuberant spon-

vital,

morale, in

Not

only was

CEuvres phllosophiqiies

1845), P- J 8i. Autobiographical sketch printed in 1658.

et

to the rigid

animism life

re-

withheld

morales de Nicole,



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

10

from nature; Descartes even withheld living

being which he made

stantial

from the

so to speak,

it,

into a simple machine. Aristotle's sub-

forms were condemned even in the universities. At Leiden,

men were wondering

even before 1618, "really distinct

from matter and

about the nature of beings

yet material, whether a part of

matter changes into form, whether form pre-exists in matter, as a

bench

pre-exists in the

plank from which

made."

it is

8

Prevalent everywhere was a mechanistic conception that eliminated

from nature any semblance of

vital spontaneity.

The

tend-

ency was dominant in Galileo, Hobbes, and Descartes as well as in

more obscure philosophers

who

Gassendi, Basson, and Berigard,

like

revived the teachings of Democritus and Epicurus.

was not

Galileo (1564-1642)

actually the author of a theory of

groundwork

universal mechanics, but he laid the

for such a theory

by creating a physico-mathematical science of nature that would

accommodate diverse phenomena.

He

did not say what things

were, but he proved that mathematics with

its

triangles, circles,

and

geometric figures was the sole language capable of deciphering

book of nature.

the

He

was more

interested in the

method

of

deciphering nature than in studying the nature of living beings;

method draws together under

the "compositive" or synthetic single mathematical

formula a great number of observed

a

facts

the formulas that he discovered concerning the laws of gravitation, for instance

—and

the "resolutive" or

possible for us to deduce arate facts.

law

For the

first

from

time

as a functional relation;

would keep pace with the philosopher a tion

analytic

method makes it number of sep-

these laws a great

we

find a clear, pure idea of natural

henceforth the progress of mathematics

that of physics,

new manner

and

this

would impose on

of posing the problem of the rela-

between the mind, the author of mathematics, and nature,

which the mind

interprets

through mathematics. Furthermore, the

new methods were

possible only by virtue of the exact measure-

ment

phenomena, and the numerical data provided

of individual

by experiment were the only data that applied 8

Quoted

in Bayle's Dictionary, art.

Heidanus.

to the discovery of

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

II

was led

laws. Galileo therefore

ured as the only true

reality.

to consider that

Thus we

which can be meas-

him

see in

a revival of the

ideas of Democritus: sensible qualities, such as color

we

are not in things, for

sound and Galileo

from the mind,

heat, apart

was inclined

and

smell,

can imagine things without these qualities;

for the

are but

same reason

modes

of motion.

to favor the corpuscular

theory of matter although he did not accept

He

as proved.

it

also

supported the theory of Copernicus and tried to find experimental proofs of the theory; and

we

recall that

he was forced by the

Inquisition to renounce his opinion before the

We

see, then, that

Holy

Office (1632).

Galileo treated universal mechanics as a technical

discovery and not as a necessity grounded in the nature of

and of

things; that

is

why he

allowed

many

traces

mind

of the old

elements to subsist in his thought: Aristotle's distinction between natural

and

motion, for example, and the spontaneous

violent

tendency of the

stars to

move

in circles

(which implicitly denies 9

the principle of inertia, the basis of universal mechanics).

The

atomistic

and

anti-Aristotelian

movement which emerged

in France at the beginning of the seventeeth century in fact issued

and which

from the atomism of the Renaissance showed the same

tendency. Sebastian Basson, in a book which even has an aggressive title

(Philosophiae

naturalis

adversus Aristotelem

quibus abstrusa veterum physiologia restauratur, rores solidis

rationibus refelluntur) , offers

XII, in

libri

et Aristotelis er-

us an image of the

universe based on elementary particles of a different nature: they are surfaces as in the Timaeus, not corpuscles as in Democritus.

These atoms, aggregated in the form of bodies, do not void but are immersed in a

fluid, continuous ether

through which the divine power

transmitted.

is

exist in a

—the

The

medium

hypothesis of

continuous ether obviously discouraged acceptance of the notion of physical mechanics.

Claude Berigard

(1 578-1 663),

a French

professor

in

Padua,

published in the Cir cuius Pisanus (1643) a series of commentaries 9

On

45-78.

the last point,

cf.

A. Koyre, Galilee

et la

hi

d'inertie

(Paris,

1939), pp.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

12

on Aristotelian physics

which he contrasted the

in

corpuscular physics of Anaxagoras.

number

with the

latter

conceived of an infinite

of qualitatively different corpuscles. Like Descartes,

in contrast to Democritus,

motion

He

as a

and

he accepted the plenum and explained

continuous ring of bodies each of which immediately

replaced the preceding one (Anaxagoras' system of physics was of

course annular). nien, a ible

The Democritus

reviviscens (1646) of Jean

French professor in Pavia, posited atoms that were

and

yet capable of

Mag-

indivis-

changing their shape. Here he was guided

by Epicurus' theory of minima, according

to

which the atom was

not simple but composed of very small particles which, in their relative

to

arrangement, produced the shape of the atom. Magnien added

the hypothesis the notion that the inner arrangement

might

change even though the number of minima remained identical

That

in a particular atom.

mechanics

is

moving cause

was reluctant

he, too,

to accept universal

demonstrated by the fact that he searched for the of atoms in sympathetic attraction or in the tendency

of atoms to join together to produce a body with a determinate essence. It

is

strange that not one of these atomists saw collision

as the cause of

motion; Basson's ether, Berigard's vortex, Magnien's

sympathetic attraction

all

show how

indistinct

was the idea

of

mechanism when Descartes gave it a new formulation. to Lucretius and at the same time more closely linked intellectual trend of the time was the atomism of Pierre

universal

Nearer to the

Gassendi (1592-1655), whose detailed explanations of natural phe-

nomena long

rivaled those of Descartes. Gassendi, provost of the

cathedral at Digne,

championed astronomical observation and the

system of Copernicus.

wrote during his

by the

corresponded with Galileo, to the

Holy

Office: "I

am

whom

he

deeply disturbed

fate that awaits you, O you greatest glory of the century; Holy See decides something contrary to your belief, endure

if

the

it

as befits a sage.

that

He

trial at

May you

you have sought

at least live secure in the

after truth."

knowledge

From Epicureanism he

the sensualist theory of knowledge.

He

innatism and especially for the idea of

accepted

censured Descartes for his

God

he professed

to have,

13 since

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY God remains incomprehensible to a mind enslaved by sensible To Herbert of Cherbury he objected that investigation into

images.

the inner nature of things results

know, and

to

whatever

indispensable to

is

from intemperance

human knowledge ought life

—that

in our desire

to be restricted to

to the external qualities

is,

under the senses; only the creator of things can

that fall

nature.

that

10

His atomism bears no

trace of originality;

ism of Lucretius and of Epicurus' Letters ferent shapes, falling through the void.

him: Gassendi makes gravity

—the

—invisible

know

it is

their

the atom-

atoms of

Only two

traits

dif-

identify

motion inherent

principle of

in the atom, "a propensity to motion, unengendered, innate, im-

—something given

possible to lose"

move through them have the That

is

the void at the effect of

on the

speed,

velocity following collision

collisions

it

follows that no body

is

at rest;

rapid but very slight internal motions. that the universe

is

between

mechan-

dependent not only

velocity of the colliding bodies but also

any case

is

and

their direction, not their motion.

diametrically opposed to the principles of Cartesian

which makes

ics,

same

changing

atom by God. All atoms

to the

on

their mass. In

apparent

The second

rest hides

very

distinctive trait

considered as a completely integrated, regular

whole, which cannot be the result of a fortuitous concourse of

atoms but can be explained only by an omnipotent God. Super-

imposed on Epicureanism, then, finality.

is

theology

a

Gassendi even superimposed a

introduces

that

theory

spiritualistic

upon

Epicurus' materialistic theory of the soul which he accepted in entirely:

the effective, vegetative,

and

sensitive

soul

is,

its

in effect,

merely a very subtle and tenuous body, and sensation, for example, is

adequately explained by the impression

made on

this substance

by the idola emitted by each body; but above the soul that perishes with the body of reason,

A

is

an immaterial substance capable of

and of freedom.

similar combination of mechanistic

and

spiritualistic theories,

so unfaithful to the authentic spirit of Epicurus,

of the period. Nature 10

Opera,

self-reflection,

III,

413.

was

was abandoned, turned over

characteristic to

its

own

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

14

mechanism; penetrated

was forsaken by the mind that had studied

it

it,

and found in

more apparent

in Descartes

no

it

and

it,

The consequences were

support.

Hobbes.

in

The Organization of Intellectual Life: Academies and Scientific Gatherings

in

The

were translated into profound

aspirations of the century

disgust for the sectarian struggles that

upon the

sance. Meditating

the rule.

La Mothe

le

and

Skepticism" to be the joint dismissal of

both of

Aristotle,

was no longer

Vayer considered one of the most important

results of his "Christian

Plato

had inflamed the Renais-

texts of Plato or Plotinus

whom

contradict theology, thus leaving

"the soul of the Christian Skeptic like a field that has been cleared

and

rid of

bad

plants."

n

Distaste for sectarianism

was matched

by a marked reaction against the study of Greek. Except

Port

at

Royal the course of studies did not include Greek because of the

pagan

spirit

Moravian

associated with

it.

Comenius

teacher, did not include

nor did he see

to include

fit

Greek

(i 592-1 670),

the great

in his plan of studies,

dangerous Latin authors. "With the

exception of Seneca, Epictetus, Plato, and other such virtuous and

honorable masters, he would like to see other pagan authors banished from Christian schools."

12

Reduced, or almost reduced, to

Latin, studies of the ancients were intended solely to shape literary taste, to contribute,

ing,

and

by means of spirited statements, to moral

to give students practice in

language. That

under the

Jesuits

use in educating

at the

scientific

his classical studies

—in

other words, nothing that might be of any

him

as a philosopher.

philosophers viewed erudition reached

and

using the current

what Descartes retained from

is

train-

The contempt with which its

limit with Malebranche,

end of the century Locke eliminated Greek from

his

plan of education.

On 11

account of

its

sectarian particularism, therefore, Greco-Latin

Prose chagrine, in (Euvres completes (Dresden, 1756), V, 299-318. Heyberger, Jean Amos Comenius (Paris, 1928), p. 146.

"Anna



CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

15

antiquity posed as great a danger to science as to faith. Philosophy

has as the object of

search true universality.

its

Its

exemplar

is

found in mathematical and experimental techniques developed

known

without reference to any

Harvey, and a century

philosophy. Cavalieri, Fermat, and

Ambroise Pare and Bernard

earlier

were independent of the philosophers of

their

Palissy,

time just as Ar-

chimedes, Apollonius, and Hero of Alexandria were independent of their Stoic contemporaries. It less to intellectual

and the

obvious that nothing contributed

progress in mathematics and the natural sciences

mind

than the theories of the

ment

is

practice of dialectic,

elaborated during the Middle Ages

which was intended

In exposition, philosophy was stripped of ratus. all

to reveal agree-

or disagreement between opinions.

Discourses,

were

literary

essays,

meditations,

all its

technical appa-

conversations,

dialogues

forms borrowed from Christian or pagan antiquity

and revived by sixteenth-century humanists. Direct and unencumbered by scholarly discussion, these forms found favor with seventeenth-century thinkers. Descartes wanted people to read his Principles for the first

time just as they would read a novel. Like

Montaigne, Bacon (a great admirer of Machiavelli) wrote Essays in

which he

and

as a

set

man

The same

down

fully his experience as a

generality

was manifested even in the

who were anything who expended so much energy

great philosophers, courtier

of the court

French gentleman

who

great English lord

and a frequent

who had

lives

of the

but academics: Bacon, a

upholding in judicial

in

practice the doctrine of royal prerogative of

noza, a Jew

man

of the world.

James

I;

Descartes, a

lived in seclusion; Hobbes, secretary of a

on the Continent;

Spi-

been expelled from the synagogue and

who

traveler

earned his living by polishing lenses; Malebranche, an Oratorian; Leibniz, minister of a petty

always

filled

with vast

German

political projects;

prince,

whose mind was

and Locke, a good,

liberal,

middle-class Englishman.

Outside and remote from the universities

were formed, private ones

new

intellectual circles

at first, like the society of scholars

and

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

l6

philosophers the

who

gathered around Father Mersenne, a

Minim Order and

a friend

Pascal said of Mersenne:

member

and correspondent of Descartes.

"He was

responsible for several outstand-

ing discoveries which probably would never have been

he had not stimulated other scholars."

13

Then came

of Sciences (1658), offshoot of private gatherings

Montmor the

two

Lincei

the

made if Academy

which began with

and were attended by Roberval, Gassendi, and

in 1636

Pascals.

of

14

There was a

Academy, founded

similar development in Italy: the

in 1603,

welcomed Galileo in

1616;

and

the Cimento, founded in Florence in 1657, maintained relations

with the Parisian Academy and communicated

some of

its

studies.

15

it

the results of

In England the Royal Society of

London drew

to

together, after 1645, all those interested in "philosophical matters,

anatomy, geometry,

physics,

astronomy,

navigation,

magnetism,

chemistry, mechanics, experiments with nature." Their rules stated that "the society will not subscribe to any hypothesis,

any system,

any doctrine concerning the principles of natural philosophy, proposed or mentioned by any philosopher, ancient or modern." than anything thoughts

else,

they refused to risk passing off their private

common

as

notions;

experience

alone

Finally, in the last year of the century Leibniz in Berlin that later

became the Academy of

The voluminous correspondence Leibniz (their

More

letters

of

to the vigor of intellectual exchanges.

But

decide.

founded a

16

society

Science.

men

were often veritable

must

like

treatises)

Descartes

and

bears witness

in the second half of the

century there also came into being a press devoted to scientific

news: in France, the Journal des Savants (1644) and the Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, a review which was founded by Bayle (1684) 13

and which

later (1687-1709)

became the Histoire des Ou-

du P. Mersenne. The first two were published by Mme Paul Tannery (Paris, 1933; Beauchesne, 1937). Publication of the remaining volumes has been assured by C. de Waard, in collaboration with Lenoble and Rochot. Volume V (1635) This volumes

activity

(letters

is

revealed in the Correspondance

from 1617

to 1630)

appeared in 1959.

"Alfred Maury, Les Academies d'autrefois (Paris, 1864). 15 A. Maugain, ttude sur revolution intellectuelle de Vltalie (Paris, 1909). 18 P. Florian, "De Bacon a Newton," Revue de Philosophie, 1914.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

17

wages des Savants, edited by

Protestants. Finally, in Leipzig, Leib-

niz founded the Acta eruditorum (1682).

Nothing from the past compares with collective quest for a universal

years between 1620

and yet human

and 1650 were

the

movement: Bacon published

the

De

dignitate et

this tenacious, continuous,

truth.

The

thirty

decisive years in the history of

the

Novum organum

(1620) and

augmentis scientiarum (1623); Galileo wrote

Dialogo (1632) and his Discorsi (1638); Descartes published the Discourse on the Method (1637), Meditations (1641), and Prin-

his

ciples (1644)

;

the philosophy of law and political philosophy were

taken up by Grotius

(De

cive, 1642)

.

of the Renaissance

erudition

jure belli ac pads, 1625)

and by Hobbes

—which had always, to some degree, confused —had definitely ended. An emergent

and philosophy

tionalism set

point of

(De

All these works indicate that the humanistic phase

its

itself to

consider

divine origin but

ra-

human

reason not from the stand-

from the standpoint of

its

positive

activity.

Would

reason be the principle of order, of organization, sought

Would it be capable, if human knowledge and even, beyond that, of introducing a social bond between all men? This question accounts for the enduring interest of that new upsurge by

all

during the seventeenth century?

"properly managed," of advancing

of intellectual activity.

Bibliography

and Anthologies

Useful Translations

The English Philosophers from Bacon

New

to Mill.

Edited by

Edwin A.

Burth.

York, 1939.

The European Philosophers from Beardsley.

New

Descartes to Nietzsche. Edited by

Monroe C.

York, i960.

Philosophers Spea\ for Themselves. Edited by T. V. Smith and Marjorie Grene. New ed. 4 vols. Chicago, 1957. Vol. Ill, From Descartes to Loc\e. Philosophic Classics. Edited by Walter N.J., 1961. Vol. II,

The Philosophy

of

Bacon

New

and Studies

Histories Burtt, E. A. ed.

New

Kaufmann. 2

vols.

Englewood

and Seventeenth Centuries. Edited by

York, 1966.

of Seventeenth

The Metaphysical Foundations

of

Century Thought Modern

Physical Science. 2d

York, 1955.

Butterfield, Herbert.

The

Origins of

1962. Butterfield, Herbert, et

al.

A

Cliffs,

Kant.

Sixteenth

the

Richard H. Popkin.

to

Modern

Science. Rev. ed.

New

York,

Short History of Science. Garden City, N.Y.,

1959.

The Problem of Knowledge. Translated by William H. Woglom and Charles W. Hendel. New Haven, Conn., 1950. Clark, G. N. The Seventeenth Century. 2d ed. Oxford, 1947. Copleston, Frederick C. A History of Philosophy. 7 vols. London, 1946-62. Vol. IV, Descartes to Leibniz; Vol. V, Hobbes to Hume. Crombie, A. C. Augustine to Galileo: The History of Science, A.D. 400-1650. London, 1952. Dampier, W. C. A History of Science and Its Relations with Philosophy and Cassirer, Ernst.

Religion. 4th ed. Cambridge, 1949. Dibon, Paul. La philosophic neerlandaise au siecle d'or. Amsterdam, 1954. Dunning, W. A. A History of Political Theories from Luther to Montesquieu. New York, 1905. Flint, R. Philosophy of History in Europe. London, 1874.

Gilson, Etienne,

Kant.

New

Hall, A. R.

The

and Thomas Langan. Modern Philosophy from Descartes York, 1963. Scientific Revolution, 1 500-1800.

18

2d

ed.

London,

1962.

to

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENTURY

10,

Hazard,

The European Mind,

P.

1953.

A

Hoffding, H. Laporte,

History of

New

vols.

J.

1680-1715. Translated by

}.

L.

Modern Philosophy. Translated by

York, 1950. Etudes d'histoire de

la

philosophic francaise au

May. London, B. E. Meyer. 2

XVH e

siecle. Paris,

1951.

Lovejoy, Arthur O.

The Great Chain

of Being. Reprint: Cambridge, Mass.,

1948.

Popkin, Richard H. The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Descartes. New York, 1964.

The Career

Randall, John H.

Enlightenment.

New

from the Middle Ages

of Philosophy

to the

York, 1962.

History of Political Theory. Rev. ed. New York, 1950. Procedures and Metaphysics: A Study in the Philosophy of Mathematical and Physical Science in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth

A

Sabine, G. H.

Strong, E.

W.

Centuries. Berkeley, Calif., 1936.

Cberweg, F. Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. 12th ed. 5 vols. Berlin, 1923. Vol. Ill, Die Philosophie der Neuzeit bis zum Ende des XVIII Jahrhunderts, edited by M. Frischeisen-Kohler and W. Moog. Wightman, W. P. D. The Growth of Scientific Ideas. New Haven, Conn., 1951.

Willey, Basil.

A

A

The Seventeenth Century Bac\ground. London,

1934.

History of Science, Technology and Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. 2d ed., revised by D. McKie. London, 1950.

Wolf, A.

Critical History of

Western Philosophy. Edited by D.

J.

O'Conner.

New

York, 1964.

Texts Bodin, Jean. CEuvres philosophiques. Edited and translated by P. Mesnard. Paris, 1951.

Studies Busson, H. Laporte,

J.

La pensee religieuse francaise de Charron a Pascal. ha doctrine de Port-Royal. 2 vols. Paris, 1923-52.

Mesnard, P. h'essor de Moreau-Reibel,

J.

Le

droit

au

XVI e

siecle. Paris, 1936.

Jean Bodin et le droit public compare dans ses rapports avec

la philosophie .

la philosophie politique

Paris, 1933.

de Vhistoire. Paris, 1933. de societe interhumaine

et

le

jus

gentium

.

.

.

jusqu'a

Grotius. Paris, 1950.

Pintard, R.

Le

Paris, 1943.

libertinage erudit dans la premiere moitie

du XVII e

siecle.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

20

"Economique et politique au XVI e siecle: L'Oceana de James HarRevue francaise de science politique, 1952, pp. 24-41. Reynolds, B. Proponents of Limited Monarchy in Sixteenth Century France: Francis Hotman and Jean Bodin. New York, 1931. Polin, R.

rington,"

Texts Gassendi, Pierre. Opera omnia. Edited by H. L. Habert de Montmort. 6 vols.

Lyons, 1658-75. .

Dissertations en

and .

forme de paradoxes contre

les Aristoteliciens.

Edited

translated by B. Rochot. Paris, 1959.

Disquisitio metaphysica. Edited

and

translated by B. Rochet. Paris,

1962.

Studies Brent, G. S. The Philosophy of Gassendi. New York, 1908. Koyre, A. Etudes galileennes. 3 vols. Paris, 1939. Rochot, B. "Gassendi et la logique de Descartes," Revue philosophique, 1955.

Ill

Text Mersenne, Marin. Correspondance. Edited by

Mme

P.

Tannery, C. de Waard,

R. Lenoble, and B. Rochot. 5 vols. Paris, 1933-59.

Studies Lenoble, R. Mersenne; ou, .

"Les origines de

La

la

naissance

du mecanisme.

Paris, 1943.

pensee scientifique moderne," in Histoire de la

science, edited by M. Daumas. Paris, 1957. Pp. 369-534. History of Science. Edited by R. Taton. Translated by A. J. Pomerans. 3 vols. New York, 1964. Vol. II, The Beginnings of Modern Science from 1450 to 1800.

FRANCIS BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY i

The

and Workj

Life

of

Bacon

francis bacon (1561-1626) was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon,

Lord Keeper

he

became learned counsel

later

of James

I

he was appointed

education was that of a

who

of the Great Seal,

career as a statesman. Elected to the

jurist.

to

of the

1584,

reign

to the highest judicial offices.

His

Licensed in 1582, he began teaching

law in London in 1589; Law, which was to serve as

at the school of

Maxims

prepared him for a

House of Commons in the Crown; during the

in

1599 he edited his

a basis for the codifica-

tion of English laws. Ambitious, scheming, adept at changing sides

whenever

this

was

to his

pretentions of James

I,

advantage and

at flattering the absolutist

he rose gradually through the ranks, becom-

ing Solicitor General in 1607, Attorney General in 161 3, Lord

Keeper in

1617,

and Grand Chancellor

Baron Verulam in

161 8

and Viscount

defended the royal prerogative.

St.

in 1618.

He was

demnation of Talbot, a member of the

He

was created

Albans in 1621.

He

always

responsible for the con-

Irish Parliament,

who had

approved Suarez' ideas on the legitimacy of tyrannicide. In the matter of ecclesiastical that judges

commendams he

established the principle

must suspend judgment and confer with the king

whenever the king 21

believes that his

power

is

at issue in a

pending

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

22

was the meeting

suit. It

his downfall.

of Parliament in 1621 that brought about

Accused by the House of

corrupt dealings in chancery

from

received gifts

suits,

Commons

of bribery

he admitted that he had indeed

involved in pending litigation.

parties

and

The

House of Lords sentenced him to a fine of 40,000 pounds and prohibited him from ever discharging any public office, from sitting and from

in Parliament,

living close to the Court. Old, sick,

dishonored, he tried in vain to win reinstatement.

He

and

died five

years later.

In spite of such an active career, Bacon was forever concerned

with the advancement of learning. His works, considered as a whole, have a unified character.

It

was undoubtedly

career that he conceived the comprehensive

preface of the ratio

magna,

pared a

Novum organum

(1620)

and

work

early in his

outlined in the

later called the Instau-

treatise

on the subject

forty years earlier.

The

pre-

treatise, entitled

Temporis partus maximus {The Greatest Parturition

may

had

for in a letter written in 1625 he stated that he

of

Time),

be identical with the Temporis partus masculus sive de inter-

pretation naturae, a short posthumous

treatise

containing a plan

almost identical to that found in the preface to the

ganum. In any

tiones scientarum"

organum

Novum

or-

plan contains six divisions: (1) "Par-

case, the last

(Classification of the Sciences);

(2)

"Novum

de interpretatione naturae"; (3) "Phenomena historia naturalis et experimentalis ad condendam phi-

sive indicia

universi sive

losophiam"; (4) "Scala intellectus sive filum labyrinthi"; (5) "Pro-

dromi

sivi anticipationes

philosophiae secundae"; (6) "Philosophia

The

secunda sive scientia activa." with

all its

lacunae (I),

first

to replace that of Aristotle

of facts (III), passed

on

realization of his plan called for

from the

actual state of learning,

discussed the

new organon designed

a series of treatises which, starting

(II),

then described the investigation

to the investigation of

laws (IV), and

returned to the actions and knowledge that allowed us to control

(V and VI). The treatises that we possess are like the dismembra of a vast undertaking which could never be realized,

nature jecta

as

Bacon was the

first to

admit, by a single man.

We

cite

most of

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

23

them by

classifying

them according

to the plan of the Instauratio

(though they were not written in that order) According .

admission, only the

De

the

dignitate et augmentis scientiarum libri IX, published in treatise was a Latin translation, with many additions, Advancement of Learning, published in 1605. His papers

This

1623.

of the also

own

work was completed:

part of the projected

first

to his

contained other outlines of the same subject: the Valerius

terminus, written about 1603 and published in 1736, and the Descriptio globi intellectualis, written

1653.

The Novum organum

around 1612 and published in

sive indicia vera

de interpretatione

naturae, published in 1620, corresponds to the second part.

whose aim

third part,

Novum

indicated in a tract published after the

is

organum, the Parasceve ad historiam naturalem

mentalem,

is

et experi-

treated in the Historia naturalis et experimentalis

condendam philosophiam 1622.

The

Phaenomena universi, published This work announced a number of monographs, some sive

which were written or outlined

ad in

of

after the Chancellor's downfall: the

Historia vitae et mortis, published in 1623; the Historia densi et rari (1658); the Historia

ventorum (1622); and the Sylva sylvarum,

To

a collection of materials published in 1627.

the fourth part

belong the Filum labyrinthi sive inquisitio legitima de motu, com-

posed in 1608 and published in 1653; the Topica inquisitionis de luce et lumine (1653);

and the

magnete (1658).

Inquisitio de

To

the fifth part (Prodromi sive anticipationes philosophiae secundae,

published in 1653) belong three works published in 1653: the fluxu et refluxu maris, written in 1616; the in 1612;

Thema

caeli,

De

written

and the Cogitationes de natura rerum, written between

1600 and 1604. Finally, second philosophy

is

the subject of the

Cogitata et visa de interpretatione naturae sive de scientia operativa

and of the third book of the Temporis partus masculus, published in 1653.

Even to

it:

treatises that are

not integral parts of his great work relate

the Redargutio philosophiarum, published in 1736;

pecially the

New

and

es-

Atlantis, a plan for organizing scientific research,

published in 1627.

To

these

must be added

his literary works, the

2

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

24

Essays (1597), which were enlarged with each

and

and a great

1625),

Through

number

new

and

to

awaken and

edition (161

legal works.

writing he was the herald of a

his

trumpeter whose mission was

movement

of historical

new

spirit,

a

new

to initiate a

would transform human life by assuring man's He had the zeal of an initiator and a vivid

that

domination over nature.

imagination that engraved precepts in unforgettable characters; but

he

had the systematic mind of a

also

legislator or

an administrator,

prudence that bordered on fastidiousness, and the desire to apportion to each individual

(the observer, the experimenter, the dis-

work

coverer of laws) a limited and precise role in the secular

he was

The Baconian

11

that

initiating.

Understanding

Ideal:

and Experimental Science Bacon considered the existing intellectual world.

He

and of the

state of the sciences

saw around him (he ignored or

failed to

recognize the works of the great minds of his era, notably those

and complacency

of Galileo) rigidity, stagnation,

and he

of the end;

determine

tried to

and advanced. What was

revitalized

how

—early

learning could be

his criticism of the sciences

and

of his era? "Their hasty, premature reduction to arts

ods; after

which learning progresses but

as learning it

is

dispersed in the

keeps increasing; once

however,

it

it

little

or not at

form of aphorisms and

has been imprisoned in

cannot be increased."

*

state.

Learning comes into

its

own, according

adopted by Bacon himself in the

Novum

finds free expression in the absence of

De

augmentis,

I,

41.

he

said,

to

meth-

So long

its

its

methods, its

mass

less arti-

existing

the procedure

organum, only when

it

any preconceived plan. Bacon

so apprehensive about rigidity that

certainty. "In speculations," 1

all.

"Methods," then, are but more or

expository procedures that solidify learning in

to

observations,

can be polished and refined by usage, but

ficial

was

symptoms

he was even afraid of

"whoever begins with certainty

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

25 will

end with doubt; whoever begins with doubt and

entertains

it

for a while will

end with

certainty."

be the methodical doubt of Descartes but for Descartes really

Bacon held

that concluded

is,

patiently

This seems to

in fact, the opposite;

"began" with certainty implied by doubt, the

certainty of the Cogito, ties.

2

and

this certainty led

him

to other certain-

was not the beginning but the end

that certainty

any investigation.

All of Bacon's criticisms derive from his primary criticism of the

humanists

who saw

in the sciences nothing

more than

theme

who by

development; his criticism of the Scholastics

literary

a

for

"im-

prisoning their minds in Aristotle just as they imprison their bodies in their cells," solidify all

those for

whom

dogmas

learning

{rigor

dogmatum);

his criticism of

something already completed, some-

is

thing from the past; his criticism of the specialists first

their favorite field of learning contains the

the Pythagorean geometers

and

Cabalists,

saw numbers everywhere). Whatever is

who renounce

philosophy, take refuge in their discipline, and imagine that

whole of

who,

classifies,

like

reality

(like

Robert Fludd,

whatever

solidifies

bad.

Hence

his distrust of the very

intellectus intellect

instrument of

or understanding. Left to

denced by disputes among

"intellectualists" in

Aristode.

work

the

which the

He knew

Arabs and

nothing of the

subtlety of

sterile intellectual exercises.

only intellect ever recognized by Bacon

classifying intellect that the

at

(permissus sibi)

itself

can only produce one distinction after another, as was evi-

matter ruled out anything other than

The

classification, the

St.

is

the abstract

Thomas

3

and

discovered in

intellect that Descartes

found

in mathematical discovery. According to him, then,

it

is

not through an inner reform of the understanding that learning

can ever become tractable and perfectly clear: the ideas in the

and

will never

fruitful.

human

On

this

2 3

is

understanding do not have

have anything to do with the divine ideas according

which the Creator made the universe. "There

to

point Bacon

Novum organum, Novum organum,

I, I,

aphorism 45. aphorism 19;

De

augmentis,

I,

43.

is

a vast difference

26

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

between the images in our minds and the ideas in the divine mind,

God

between our vain opinions and the true characters that imprinted in his creatures." there

is

4

no natural kinship.

without metaphor, uniformity,

intellect

Here Bacon could jusdy invoke the most

analogy.

celebrated metaphysical speculations of the Renaissance lations of Paracelsus or of If it is

the subtlety of the to nature itself that

edge of

it.

Experience

—the specu-

Giordano Bruno.

mind cannot equal the subtlety of nature, we must turn in order to acquire knowl-

is

the true teacher. Francis

Bacon

is

linked

experimental natural science which, since Aris-

to the tradition of totle,

and truth

a distorting mirror;

constrained to see everywhere equality,

is

it

Between human Intellect is like

has

had always had a rather obvious place in Western thought,

and which appeared

in the

Middle Ages in the work of Roger

Bacon. This natural science had two aspects.

On

one hand were the

Historiae or collections of natural facts, such as Aristotle's History

Animals and

of

which embraces

especially Pliny's all

the

Natural History

—a

compilation

kingdoms of nature and which was

centuries a source of inspiration for those

who

for

sought a more

concrete and vivid image of the world than that of the philosophers.

Alongside the Historiae were the operative techniques, tainted by all sorts

of superstitions,

designs of

which supposedly forced nature

man—natural magic which

to

and alchemy which changed base metals into gold. These were

like astrology,

all

derived from Stoicism and from Neo-Platonism vealed to us only by experience. techniques, appealed strongly to all

sciences,

grounded on a representation of the universe

of mysterious sympathies or antipathies

withstanding

obey the

controlled nature's caprices

The

men

whose

:

the representation

secret could be re-

histories, like the operative

of the sixteenth century. Not-

the superstitions that they carried with them, they

had the

concrete, progressive character that

that he

would

Bacon sought in science, and they gave man hope of controlling nature provided that he would obey it (natura non vincitur nisi parendo) that is, provided



*

learn the laws of nature.

Novum organum,

I,

aphorism 23.

Bacon did not

fail to

recog-

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

27

nize in these sciences

many

elements of credulity and imposture,

but he gave his unqualified approval to their aims

—to

investigate

"the influence of things above on things below," as in astrology;

from myriad forms of speculation

"to divert natural philosophy

and focus attention on the importance of operative techniques," in natural magic; "to separate

of bodies that are hidden

and

and intermixed,

to purify

impurities," as in chemistry. All these ends are proval,

5

as

extract the heterogenous parts

and the means employed, absurd

them

worthy of

of their his ap-

as they often were, never-

theless resulted in fruitful discoveries.

The

Instauratio

magna

among

does not rank

contributions to

mathematics or mathematical physics, where advances were the distinctive trait of the seventeenth century.

Here Bacon abandoned

the sciences of argumentation and concentrated tionally the tangled

mass of

on organizing

ra-

assertions about nature, of operational

procedures, and of practical techniques that constituted the experi-

mental sciences.

The

in

We

Division of the Sciences

turn

now to the first De dignitate

resolved in the

fication of the sciences

task of the Instauratio, the one that et

augmentis scientiarum

intended not so

much

into those that existed as to indicate those that

The most of the

general division

memory,

is

.

It is

is

a classi-

to introduce order

were

still

lacking.

the division into History, or science

Poetry, or science of the imagination,

and Philoso-

phy, or science of reason. History and Philosophy each have two distinct objects, nature

into natural history

of nature

and

and man. History civil history,

is

therefore subdivided

and philosophy

into philosophy

and philosophy of man.

Natural history

is,

in turn, divided into historia generationum,

praetergenerationum, artium. This

is

the division that Pliny the

De augmentis, III, 5 (ed. Spedding, p. 574), on the transmutation of metals. Spinoza (ed. Van Vloten, II, 330), Malebranche {Entretiens sur la metaphysique, X, 12), and Leibniz {New Essays, III, 9, 22) consider this a perfectly legitimate 5

and soluble problem.



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

28

Elder made. As in Pliny's second book, the "history of generations" relates

phenomena,

to celestial

composed of the same element, the phenomena. After

come

this

"history of the arts" through

nature. These are the

two

and

sea

finally

to

man

which

and the

changes the course of

subjects of Pliny's seventh

and VII

masses

rivers, the earth, volcanic

the "history of monsters"

part included between Books II

Bacon deserves

and

to meteors,

is

book (the

devoted to geography).

not for bringing the study of abnormal

credit,

conditions and the arts into natural history, but for stating that

such study constitutes an indispensable part of natural science and is

not merely an appendage of curious

bring to light forces that were natura omnia

which

force

is

regit.

In the

arts,

facts.

Monsters and technics

obvious in natural generation

less

for instance,

man

can create no

not in nature; he can only place bodies closer to

way The new

new

each other or farther apart and in this

create

for the interplay of natural forces.

spirit justifies

decision to

derata)

chap.

As

number among

the

the sciences that are

two new subdivisions

of

for civil history,

lacking {desi-

history

(Vol.

II,

subdivisions correspond to the historical

its

which were prevalent in Bacon's time and which

were rooted in the

past.

They

Eusebius of Caesarea, and

are ecclesiastical history, initiated

civil history

according to the documents on which antiquities, ancient stories

and complete

proper,

it is

based: memoirs (fastes),

such as the Judaic Antiquities of Josephus,

historical accounts

such as biographies, chronicles

Bacon outlines a

scheme of scholarly investigation and adds

which

"literary history,"

primarily the history of advances in technics and the

is

sciences.

by

which he subdivides

of a reign, or the narration of particular events. vast

Bacon's

i).

literary types

true

still

natural

conditions

This was the program adopted universally by scholars

throughout the seventeenth century. After

civil history

come

the divisions of philosophy. Here, too,

the divisions are traditional, but their spirit deviate as

little as

possible

is

new.

"I desire to

from the opinions and manners of speak-

ing of the ancients," said Bacon (Vol.

Ill,

chap,

iv,

sec. i).

God,

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

29

nature,

and man

(or, as

Middle Ages

of the

he says

—luminous

—reminding us of the perspectivists source,

its

refracted ray,

its

reflected

ray) are the three objects of the three great philosophical sciences.

This

is

Aristotle's division into theology, or first philosophy, physics,

and moral philosophy. But the first

spirit is quite different: in Aristotle,

philosophy, or metaphysics, was, at the same time, science of

axioms, science of causes or principles of every substance, sensible or intelligible,

and

ments in Bacon, but

We

God.

science of

rediscover

arrangement

their

these ele-

all

completely different.

is

First philosophy refers to the science of axioms, metaphysics to the

science of causes,

and theology

to the science of

First philosophy, or the science of axioms,

of the three branches

According

—the

sciences of

is

common

sufficiently universal

to apply equally to divine things, to natural things,

things.

For

is

also the

in physics, the horror of the void

state

politics,

and

to

human

"Whatever can best preserve the order of

instance,

things (conservativum formae)

mass; in

trunk

God, of nature, and of man.

"axioms" are adages

to Bacon, the

God. the

most powerful"; whence,

which preserves the

terrestrial

the pre-eminence of the conservative forces of the

over private interests; and in theology, the pre-eminence of

the virtue of charity,

which

unites

all

men. In

short,

Bacon asks

that these universal notions be treated "according to the laws of

and not

nature rather than of discourse—physically,

Adages about understand

rarity

why one

and quantity,

for example,

product, such as gold,

is

logically."

should help us

rare,

and another,

such as iron, plentiful.

Theology becomes the

first

of the philosophical sciences. After

comes the science of nature, which

is

it

subdivided into metaphysics,

or the science of formal and final causes, and special physics, or the science of efficient and material causes.

We

recall that

medieval

knowledge of forms, or the true inaccessible to the human mind. Thus,

followers of Aristotle considered differences of things, as

what Bacon sought a

new

Later

to create,

under the name of metaphysics, was

science, a science intimately related to the study of nature.

we

shall

examine

this

new

science in detail

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

30

The man,

and

third

the philosophical sciences, the science of

last of

subdivided according to the

is

human

faculties into the science

of the intellect, or logic, the science of the will, or ethics, and,

men

finally, the science of

living together in societies.

separated the science of societies

Baconian logic

but the description of the natural progress of

is

science. First, there

invention or discovery of truths, accomplished

is

only through experience (experientia

down

are set

the

Novum

in writing),

litterata,

or experiences that

and induction, the

particular object of

organum. After invention comes judgment of pro-

posed truths, for which the principal instrument syllogism. Its function truths

to

sophisms; tiple

universal it

is

Logic

The

human mind—that contrast

physics.

the Aristotelian

useful

is

also

in

is, its

—for

and

instance, "little"

brings to light the "idols"

it

making mistakes. and classical ethics

reasons for

between Baconian

ethics

is

no

than that between Baconian physics and Aristotelian

Bacon censured the ancients

for offering

no

practical

of attaining their proposed goal, for speculating about the

good without knowing about the future teaches us to seek the to subordinate the

to

refuting

prevents the incorrect use of general words with mul-

"much," "like" and "different"; and

less striking

is

precise but limited: to reduce proposed

principles.

meanings used in every discussion

of the

Thus Bacon

from morality.

life

supreme good, and, in

good of the individual

which he belongs.

It

in

which Christianity

particular, for failing

to the

good of the

was because of such ignorance

falsely stated that the speculative life

is

that throughout antiquity the sovereign

means

supreme

society

that Aristotle

superior to the active

good was sought

tranquility of the individual soul, without reference to the

life;

in the

common

good; and that an Epictetus taught that the sage should find in himself the principle of his happiness

individualism with

—an

outgrowth of ancient

emphasis on achieving a tranquil

its

from external concerns, and

its

life,

choice of serenity rather than

free

mag-

nanimity, passive enjoyment rather than active good manifested

through works. Bacon's than speculative.

He

ethics, like his science,

was more operative

preferred the tyrant Machiavelli, with his

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

31

power

love of

for

joyless virtues;

its

own

sake, to the Stoic sage with his inert

he preferred a true

on materials taken from

from

ethics,

and which

is

man

with

and

passions, based

to Theophrastus'

historians,

Finally, he completed the science of distinct

on the

treatise

Characters.

politics,

which

is

chiefly a doctrine of the state

and of power.

Along with History and Philosophy, Bacon recognized a science, Poetry, the science of the imagination.

men

with which Renaissance

myths and

fables

—the

We

recall the

third

ardor

returned to the interpretation of

basis for a science of

enigmas and images.

Descartes himself, as a young man, paid some attention to such

whimsical notions. They are the subject of the in

which Bacon

finds in the fable of

Cupid

De

sapientia veterum,

the idea of the original

motion of the atom and of the action of atoms on each other across distances; in the song of Orpheus, the prototype of natural

philosophy, which has as of corruptible things. It

its

aim the

this

is

restoration

whole

and renovation

collection of fables, inter-

preted in the context of the great reformation of the sciences, that

Bacon

calls poetry.

But, at bottom the three sciences of history, poetry,

phy

are only three successive advances of the

mind

and

philoso-

in the formation

of the sciences: history, the accumulation of materials; poetry, the first,

wholly chimerical use of materials

beyond which the ancients solid construction of reason.

This

is

whenever he was thinking not of

De

—a kind of dream of science

failed to progress;

and philosophy, the

how

things appeared to Bacon

all

the sciences listed in the

augmentis, but only of the one that truly engrossed him, the

science of nature.

The Novum Organum

iv

A new the

new instrument was needed sciences systematized

Novum

ganum and

organum. the

De

to effect the

by Bacon, and

it

development of the

was

to

be created by

Is the difference between the

augmentis the same

Novum

as the difference

or-

between

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

32

method

a systematic plan of the sciences and a universal, over-all

promoting them? No. In

of

organum

from

to poetry,

with ethics and

and

and nothing

work everything

De

logic.

Now

it is

man

science of

a

the

relates

everything that has to do

Novum organum

program

with the part of logic that

and

that relates to history

remains the program of the science

politics, there

else:

augmentis.

on philosophy everything that

the chapters

and from

to theology,

of nature

the

Novum

the content of the

coincides exactly with certain parts of the

we remove from

If

reality,

is

precisely that

of the sciences of nature together

relates to

The

them.

errors treated in

and

the theory of idols concern only man's conception of nature; the

organum, or

reason as a compass aids the hand,

tool, that aids

pertains exclusively to the science of nature.

The

description of idols, or mistakes

follows

its

ganum and

is,

therefore,

of the necessity of the idols.

made by

the

natural flight, stands at the beginning of the

an opportune prelude

new

mind

it

or-

our understanding

to

instrument. There are four kinds of

Idola tribus ("idols of the tribe"), are natural fallacies

ing laziness and inertia.

as

Novum

We

reflect-

generalize solely on the basis of

affir-

mative instances and thus create superstitions, such as astrology, because

we

fail to

been wrong.

by virtue of

take into account instances where predictions have

We

desire to see realized in nature the notions which,

their simplicity

and uniformity,

best

fit

our minds. This

accounts for the birth of ancient astronomy, which denied the stars

any trajectory other than a circular one, and science of the Cabala (revived in

England

to the

by Robert Fludd), which imagines non-existing to

we

have base

them correspond our

conception

activity, so alchemists

things as well as

to

of

our the

of

realities

among men.

nature

in order

As

on human

among

Idola specus ("idols of the cave")

and training which imprison the

as in Plato's cave. Idola fori ("idols of the

are the

Bacon

combinations.

discovered sympathies and antipathies

relate to the inertia of the habits

mind,

numerical

activity

whole pseudo-

in the time of

words that influence our conception of

market place")

reality. If

we wish



BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

33

to classify things, tion, interferes.

common

language, with

Furthermore,

its

ready-made

many words have

and many have no counterpart in

(as

reality

indistinct

classifica-

meanings

when we speak

of

chance or of the heavenly spheres). Idola theatri ("idols of the theater")

are traceable to

philosophical theories

exotic

certain

those of Aristotle, "the worst of the Sophists,"

and

Plato, "the jester,

was no

the bombastic poet, the impassioned theologian." Bacon less critical

provisions,

who collected facts as an ant collects rationalists, who constructed their spider-web

of the empiricists,

and of the

theories without benefit of experience. Idols, then, are not sophisms

or errors of reasoning but vicious mental dispositions which, like

some kind

make

of original sin,

Bacon's aim,

strictly

speaking,

is

not knowledge, but power over

Knowledge, however,

nature, operational science.

determined by the end

rules are

its

us disregard nature.

enunciated his aim in these words:

them

natures and to introduce

into

a means,

create

one or several new

a particular body."

"nature" means specific properties such as density and

and

cold, heaviness

and

and

lightness, volatility

the pairs of properties listed in the fourth

orology and used as a model by

all

and

supposed to serve. Bacon

it is

"To

is

heat

—in

short,

Aristotle's

Mete-

The

the physicists.

Here

rarity,

stability

book of

6

operational

technique, particularly that of the alchemists, consists in engen-

dering one or more properties in a body that does not already possess them, in changing

and

so forth.

it

Bacon thinks,

from cold

to hot,

from

stable to volatile,

like Aristotle, that each of these natures

is

the manifestation of a certain

If

we

are masters of forms,

we

form or essence

shall

But we cannot be masters of forms

that produces

it.

then be masters of properties. until

we have knowledge

of

them.

Here the

positive task of the

ent: to provide

6

becomes appar-

knowledge of the forms which engender

Aristotle failed to solve this

petuated by

Novuum organum

Thomism)

Novum organum,

II,

problem (and

his

failure

natures.

was

per-

because the differences that enable us to

aphorism

i.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

34

determine a genus and to define a specific essence are not "true

Now

what Bacon

credits

himself with grasping: "form," "true difference," "thing in

itself"

7

differences."

true differences are precisely

(ipsissima res), "nature-engendered nature," "source of emanation,"

determination of the "pure

such expressions

intention.

Furthermore, one means by

Aristotle determined essence

and law was induction; Bacon

Bacon's

indicate

clearly

which

—many

"law"

act,"

employs the same kind of reasoning for the same purpose.

The Novum organum then ancient one



has the same external design as the

knowledge of forms or

beginning with

essences,

through induction. But Bacon claimed

to succeed

where

facts,

Aristotle

moreover, he makes knowledge of forms the prelude to a

failed;

practical operation rather than the satisfaction of a speculative need.

How

this possible?

is

The

study of forms was compared by Bacon to the

who through

alchemist

looking for from the forms with which

matter he

is

When we

are seeking a form,

nature

is

inextricably

form

there, but

is

thing which

How

is

is

we

concerned.

obtain

Induction

it

only by separating

is

He

when

mixed. its

it

from every-

is

the question with

which Bacon was primarily

never asked himself what constitutes good observa-

observation alone

superficial remarks.

and

tists like

is

a process of elimination.

is

being considered, or what

precautions are to be taken; on this point he

inately,

it

find through observation that

observation to be conducted in order to effect the desired

elimination? That

tion,

it.

of the

mixed with a mass of other natures; the

we can

not

work

a series of operations separates the pure

He

for this he

Liebig.

What

made

tended in practice to gather

was

severely censured

critical

only vague,

facts indiscrim-

by professional

scien-

mattered most to him was to multiply and

to diversify experiences in order to prevent the

mind from becom-

ing rigid and immobile. This accounts for the procedures associated

with Pan's hunt (venatio Panis), the pursuit of observations in

which the

sagacity of the hunter plays the

in the ancient fable the sagacity of 7

See E. Brehier,

The Hellenic Age,

trans.

dominant

Pan enabled him J.

Thomas

role just as

to find Ceres.

(Chicago, 1963), p. 179.

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

35

Experiences must be varied {variatio) forest trees in the

same way

—for

as fruit trees,

instance,

by grafting

by observing

how

warmed, or by changing the quantity of substances used experiment; they must be repeated distilling

new

(repetitio)

—for

an

instance,

by

must be extended

(extensio)

—for

instance,

serving certain precautions and, while keeping water apart in the

same

stance,

They must

lighter parts.

from nature

(translatio) artificially

to

the case of the rainbow

in

as

art,

also be transferred

produced in a waterfall; inverted (inversio)

by observing that heat

is

stance,

—for

in-

propagated by means of an ascend-

ing motion and then determining whether cold

means of

by ob-

and wine

receptacle, trying to separate the heavier parts of

wine from the

the

is

in

wine from wine that had already undergone

spirit of

distillation; they

the

rubbed amber varies when the substance

force of attraction of

a descending motion;

is

propagated by

suppressed (compulsio)

—for

in-

by determining whether certain bodies placed between a

magnet and a properties

of iron

piece

applied (applicatio)

—that

is,

will

suppress magnetic attraction;

they must be used to disclose useful

determine the salubrity of the

(for example, to

different places or in different seasons

Finally, several experiences

air in

by the rate of putrefaction).

must be combined

(copulatio), follow-

ing the example of Drebbel who, in 1620, lowered the freezing point of water by mixing ice and saltpeter. There remain accidents (sortes) of experimentation,

tions slightly

which

result

from changing the condi-

—for instance, producing combustion, which ordinarily

takes place in the

open

air,

inside a closed vessel.

8

These eight experimental procedures do not indicate the means of producing a given result, for

what ple,

will result

from

under the rubric

we

variation, repetition, variatio

know

in advance

so forth.

For exam-

can never

and

Bacon proposes

to

the velocity of heavy falling objects will increase increased;

is

and (apparently ignoring

determine whether

when

their

weight

Galileo's celebrated experi-

ments) he maintains that one must not assume a priori that the

answer will be either affirmative or negative. Pan's hunt does not 8

De augmentis V, ,

2, sees.

8-14.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

36

yield fertile (fructifera) observations since

whether the outcome will measure up observations falsity of

are

illuminating

presumed

more obviously linked

Still

we

are unable to forsee

our expectation, but such they

since

(luctifera)

and

relations

to

expose

to the

aim of induction

is

the divi-

sion of experiences into the three tables: presence, absence, degrees.

with

To

the

lay the basis for elimination.

and

the "table of presence" or "essence" he consigns, along

all their

circumstances, experiences involving the production

whose form

of the nature

"declination," those in

sought; to the "table of absence" or

is

which

this

same nature

"table of degrees" or "comparison," those in

is

absent; to the

which nature

varies.

understood, in addition, that the table of presence will also

It is

include the experiences in which a nature exists in subjects that differ to the

utmost degree; and the table of absence will contain

experiences that are as similar as possible to those included in the table of presence.

Induction consists wholly and exclusively in inspecting the three

Comparison

tables.

will suffice to eliminate

from the form sought,

numphenomena which accompany nature. It will obviously be necessary to eliminate all phenomena not found in every experience

spontaneously and with almost mechanical certainty, a great ber of

in the table of presence; then

among

the remaining

phenomena,

all

those present in the experiences in the table of absence; finally,

all

those in the table of degrees that are invariable, in contrast to

nature,

which

varies.

The form

sought will of necessity be in the

residue that persists "once the rejections and exclusions have been

made is

to be determined.

heat is

in the appropriate manner." Suppose that the

is

Bacon

specifies

twenty-seven cases in which

produced; thirty-two, similar to the

not produced

form of heat

first

group, in which

it

—for example, the fact that the sun warms the earth

(presence) in contrast to the fact that the sun does not melt perpetual

snow (absence); and

due that

forty-one in

persists after elimination

produces the

effect

is

which

it

varies.

The

the vibrating motion

resi-

which

observed in a flame or in boiling water. Bacon

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

37

defines

which

it

way: an expansive motion which goes upward,

in this

affects

not the whole body but

repelled in such a

is

manner

that

it

its

smallest parts,

and which

becomes intermittent and vibra-

tory.

The which

difference

between

this operation

consists of simple enumeration,

is

and

Aristotle's induction,

obvious. Aristotle enumer-

ated every case in which a certain circumstance (the absence of

accompanied the phenomenon (longevity) whose cause he

gall)

was seeking. by Bacon

He

therefore restricted himself to the cases assigned

to the table of presence.

periences in this

domain was

The

utilization of negative ex-

truly Bacon's discovery.

Form: Bacon's Mechanism

v

is

One

of the conditions governing the success of Bacon's induction

that

form be not the mysterious thing sought by

element observable in the world about us

—something

perceived by the senses or by instruments that as the microscope.

A

form

is

Aristotle but

assist

not inferred but

of obervation; induction only enables us to

is

an

that can be

the senses, such

made

the object

narrow more and more

the field of observation surrounding the form.

We

should add that in

all

problems of

outlined a solution, the residue certain constant mechanical

is

this type for

which Bacon

always, as in the case of heat, a

arrangement of matter.

If

we

investi-

gate the form of the whiteness that appears in snow, in foaming water, or in pulverized glass,

we

see that in every case there

is

"a

mixture of two transparent bodies, together with a certain simple,

uniform arrangement of

their optical parts."

passage that Descartes reproduced almost

9

Furthermore, in a

word

for

word

in his

Rules, he sees the "form" of colors in a certain geometric arrange-

ment

of lines.

We

see that induction has the effect of eliminating,

in order to identify the form, every qualitative or sensible element in our experience. 9

De

augmentis,

We

III, 4, sec.

can therefore say that in a sense Bacon was 11.

38

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

a mechanist, for he ascribed the essence of each thing in nature to

a permanent geometric

and mechanical

the "latent schematism"

—that

is,

structure. It

true that

is

form from what Bacon

there have been attempts to separate

called

the intimate constitution of bodies

that escapes us because of the smallness of their elements

make

it

—and

a superaddition to a mechanical structure or schematism,

which then would be the material condition of the form and not Bacon

substance. But

—that

operations through which a body acquires

its

Hidden

has reference to a mechanical process.

schematismos

tions (pccultos

of physics.

10

Thus

his

et

motus)

thought has

when he

them. Besides,

explicitly identifies

speaks of latent progress (progressus latens)

—these

its

of insensible

is,

properties structures

—he

still

and mo-

are the true objects

place in the great mechanistic

its

tradition that took shape in the seventeenth century. If there re-

mained

in his thinking any trace of the Aristotelian concept of

form, would he have treated the investigation of final causes, which to Aristotle

was inseparable from the

investigation of form, as a

"sterile virgin" ?

But Bacon's as

is

a

mechanism

something unexpected,

chanical structure

is

as a

of a particular type.

what remains

many

In addition, he posited inexplicable absolutes.

appears

many mechanical

structures

first

The me-

and exclusion."

after "rejection

forms,

Whereas

It

simple result of induction.

structures as

were the things

to

be ex-

plained in the case of Descartes and Gassendi, they were to Bacon the things that explained. Thus, in his view, mathematics did not

have the dominant role assigned

to

it

trusted mathematics, especially after he

by Descartes; Bacon

saw the

results of a

dis-

mathe-

matical conception of nature in the case of his contemporary, the Cabalist Robert Fludd,

who had no

objection

when

his calculations

arrived at the most arbitrary combinations of figures in nature;

of physics

and he wanted mathematics

—that

is,

to

and numbers

remain the "handmaid"

to be limited to providing

him with

a language

for his measurements.

Novum organum, II, aphorisms 6, 39; De augmentis, Lalande, Quid de mathematica senserit Baconius (Paris, 1899), 10

III,

p.

4,

38.

sec.

11.

Cf.

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

39

Experimental Proof

vi

Let us return to the organon. Bacon

tells

which a form

us to narrow the field in

we

tion indicates the exclusions

us that induction allows

to

is

be sought. But

make,

are to

it

induc-

if

obviously cannot

indicate the

New

force us to

process of induc-

tion

moment of completion of the process. make new exclusions. The result of the

provisional;

is

how

Just

to

it is

a

first

facts

could

vintage (vindemiatio prima).

reach a definitive result

something that Bacon

is

promises to explain in his discussion of the "more powerful auxil-

provided by reason. 11

iaries" iaries,"

He

but discusses only the

draws up a

first,

which he

of facts" {praerogativae instantiarum)

How

of "privileged facts."

Why

we

are

he

;

to

of nine such "auxil-

list

calls

lists

the "prerogatives

twenty-seven types

interpret

expression?

this

are these facts not included in the preparatory tables associ-

Take

ated with induction?

the "solitary instances," that

ences in which the nature under investigation

is

is,

experi-

manifested with-

out any of the circumstances that ordinarily accompany

it

(for ex-

ample, producing colors by sending light through a prism). This

and the same

fact belongs in the table of presence,

stantiae

migrantes,

(the whiteness of

instances

where

a nature

foaming water). The

destinae, instances

where a nature

is

to the table of degrees; the instantiae

is

true of in-

is

suddenly manifested

instantiae ostensivae et clan-

maximal or minimal, belong monodicae et deviantes, where

a particular nature appears under exceptional conditions (a

among

minerals, monsters), belong to the table of presence; the

instantiae divortii

which reveal

ordinarily paired (for example

density without being

in the tables.

to us

When we

two separate natures



low density and heat

warm) belong

even the famous crucial

II,

has low

in the table of absence.

hesitate

between two forms

must show

tween one of these forms and the nature Novum organum,

air

that are

Not

facts {instantiae crucis) fail to find a place

particular nature, the crucial facts

11

magnet

aphorisms 21

et

seq.

is

to explain a

"that the union be-

stable

and

indissoluble,



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

40

whereas that of the other

(Aphorism

variable"

is

to interpret this formula? It

is

36).

How

easy for us to understand

we

are

how

facts

in the table of absence conclusively demonstrate such variability (this

how to

an instantia dwortii), but

is

is

hard for us

to

understand

a stable, indissoluble union could be demonstrated according

Baconian

We can

logic.

continue to narrow the

we have

tion but can never say that

view

stance, in Bacon's

gravity the

it

is

we

reached the limit. For in-

can show that the form or cause of if we observe when brought near

the earth's attraction of heavy objects

pendulum

moves

of a clock

but

earth's center;

table of presence,

this is clearly a

and

it

faster

contradicted by another fact.

add nothing

Never does Bacon

at all to the

new

the

not

it is

offer decisive proof

Thus

the "prerogatives

instrument created by Bacon,

and when he includes among them

means

that

simple fact to be added to the

will be probable only so long as

of affirmations; only negations are proved.

of facts"

field of investiga-

instantiae lampadis

—simple

of extending our information either through instruments

that aid the senses, such as the microscope or the telescope, or

through

such as the pulse in sickness

signs,

much more

attentive to the

means

—we

see that

he

is

of gathering materials than to

their possible utilization.

vii

The Last

Parts of the "Instauratio

The Novum organum then

Magna"

merely a description of one phase

is

in the constitution of the sciences of nature.

the Instauratio were supposed to

from the very

The

first step,

make

the Historia, to the

third part concerns the Historia,

The

last

and

last,

operative science.

this is the

engrossed Bacon particularly toward the end of his to 1626.

Aided by

sylvarum

all

the

his secretary

odd

facts

four parts of

natural science a reality

life,

work

that

from 1624

Rawley, he stuffed into the Sylva

he could find in books of

travel, physics,

chemistry, or medicine. His authorities are not the best: he bor-

rowed

freely

from Paracelsus; he took

gold from the alchemists.

He

found

recipes for the fabrication of better guides, however,

in

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

41

works on magnetism and

Gilbert's

The

thermometry.

Sylva

a particular history

is

in Drebbel's experiments with

a general history.

Bacon stipulated that

must be written about each "nature," and he

himself drew up some of them, the Historia vitae et mortis, for

which was often directed against Harvey, who through

instance,

decisive experiments

Not

blood.

had

just

very careful in the matter of direct observation, he

committed the same error

on

demonstrated the circulation of the

Roger Bacon;

as

presumed experience (transmitted by

traditional statements of

Pliny) rather than on experience

The

itself.

fourth part of the Instauratio

resume and

supposed to

organum.

in his Historia he relied

to

apply

—the the

—was

Scala intellectus

theme of the

Novum

Its title,

the ladder of the intellect, refers to the need for

not leaping from

particular observations to general axioms, but,

instead, for

moving

gradually, through intermediate axioms, to the

general ones.

The

fifth part,

supported by general axioms, prepares the ground

for the operative science realized in the sixth part

man

give

goal, his

He

and designed

mastery over nature. But even as he advances toward

to

this

fragmentary work becomes increasingly vague and sketchy.

understood that his aim could not be realized through blind

empiricism but only at the price of an intellectual revolution of

which he was the self-proclaimed herald, that he must not consider returning to the field of action until the revolution could be carried

He

out.

understood that

scientific

work must be

a collective en-

deavor shared by a great number of investigators, and he devoted

one of

his last

works, the

republic in

tific

New Atlantis,

which each individual

to the description of a scien-

is

assigned a task. First

the factual investigators: the mercatores lucis

who go

to investigate strange observations, the depraedatores

ancient books, the venatores sans,

and the

Then come

who

come

to foreign lands

who

strip the

discover the secrets of the

arti-

who initiate new experiments. who assign the facts to the three tables, the those who extract provisional laws; then those who

fossores or pioneers

those

divisores; then

devise experiments to prove the provisional laws;

and

finally those



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

42

who

Even remote from the

carry out experiments under their direction.

imaginary republic, Bacon was

which everything

science for

still

else

here, in his

operational

was made.

Experimental Philosophy in England

viii

Voltaire in his Philosophical Letters rendered an opinion

Bacon

must have been

that

England

fairly general in

on

at the begin-

ning of the eighteenth century: "The most singular and the best of his

works

Novum

is

today the least read and the most useless.

scientarum organon.

philosophy has been

built,

and now

that the

constructed, at least partially, the scaffold

Chancellor Bacon

know

did not

still

roads that lead to nature."

The

I

mean his new

the scaffold with which the

It is

fact

is

new

no longer of any

knew

nature, but he

is

been

edifice has

that there

was

all

use.

the

in England,

beginning about 1650, remarkable progress in what was called the

new

philosophy, experimental philosophy, or effective philosophy

that

is,

in the

whole

field

of experimental natural science.

Royal Society of London, founded around

1645

and

The

officially

recognized in 1662, the work of the physicist Robert Boyle (16271691),

and

Royal

the

especially

the stages in the Society

—an

new

work

endeavor

was a unique attempt

Newton (1642-1727) mark The collective work of the catalogue natural phenomena of

development. to

to realize the first

requirement

set

by Baco-

nian science: a History. Glanvill in his Scepsis scientifica (1665) sees "in the

New

Atlantis the prophetic project of the Royal Society."

The same man clearly expresses the spirit of the Society by showing work the uncertainty of our knowledge about every matter dealt with by Cartesian philosophy the union of mind and body,

in his



the nature

and origin of mind, the origin of

of causes ("we cannot

one thing

is

we

it

expect

called

know," he

the cause of another, to be;

attention

to

even

this

the

vast

path

living bodies, ignorance

said, earlier if is

it

is

than

Hume,

"that

not the cause of what

not infallible"). But Glanvill

number

of

discoveries

engendered

by the practical and experimental part of philosophy, by the

BACON AND EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

43

"new philosophy which he

intends to

make

subject

Every demonstration must be experimental;

treatise."

the essential precept of the Society which to

the

achieve only provisional results, since

this

was henceforth "it

of his

was

to seek

probable that the

is

experiments of future ages will not agree with those of the present, but on the contrary will oppose and contradict them." Hooke, the secretary of the Society

lam," censured "those

and an admirer of "the incomparable Veru-

who wish

transcribe

to

only

own

their

thoughts and therefore risk making general statements about things that are peculiar to them." Until the time of

most eminent member of the in chemistry

cular theory

in the theory of

especially interested

favored the corpus-

and mechanism, and he deduced the "secondary

from the primary

ties"

But

and

Newton, Boyle was the

He was matter. He

Society.

his theory of

qualities of extension

quali-

and impenetrability.

mechanics was that of an English experimental

philosopher; in discussing Descartes' mechanics he used the very

terms

employed by Hooke: "The mechanical explanation that

Descartes gives of qualities depends so

much on

his private views

of a subtle matter, of globules of the second element, similar things,

and he has interwoven these notions

the rest of his hypothesis that

we

can rarely put

it

and other

so closely

with

to use unless

we

adopt his whole philosophy." Descartes' theory, too systematic and personal, stifled the free flow of ideas,

experience.

mental;

it

The

which must be responsive

starting point of Boyle's mechanics

was the mathematical theory of machines,

was

to

experi-

a theory "that

permits the application of pure mathematics to the production or modification of motions in bodies."

Bibliography

I

to

VII

Texts Wor\s of Francis Bacon. Edited by James Spedding, R. L. and D. D. Heath. 7 vols. London, 1857-59. The Letters and Life of Francis Bacon. Edited by James Spedding. 7 vols. London, 1861-74. The Philosophical Worlds of Francis Bacon. Edited by J. M. Robertson. London, 1905. Selected Writings. Edited by H. G. Dick. New York, 1955. The Advancement of Learning. Edited by G. W. Kitchin. London,

Bacon, Francis. The Ellis, .

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1934.

-.

J. M. McNeill. London, 1959. Organon and Related Writings. Edited by

Essays. Edited by

The

New

F.

H. Anderson.

Indianapolis, Ind., i960.

Studies

Adam,

C. La philosophic de F. Bacon. Paris, 1890. Anderson, F. H. The Philosophy of Francis Bacon. Chicago, 1948. Francis Bacon: His Career and His Thought. Los Angeles, 1962. Bevan, B. The Real Francis Bacon. London, i960. .

Bowen, C. D. Francis Bacon: The Temper

The Philosophy

of a

Man. Boston,

1963.

Cambridge, 1926. Brochard, V. "La philosophic de Bacon," Etudes de philosophie ancienne et de philosophie moderne. Paris, 1912. Pp. 303-13. Crowther, J. G. Francis Bacon. London, i960. Church, R. W. Bacon. London, 1884. Eiseley, L. C. Francis Bacon and the Modern Dilemma. Lincoln, Neb., 1962. Farrington, B. Francis Bacon: Philosopher of Industrial Science. New ed. New York, 1961. Gibson, R. W. Francis Bacon : A Bibliography of His Wor\s and of Baconiana to the Year ij$o. Oxford, 1950. Broad, C. D.

Green, A.

W.

of Francis Bacon.

His Life and Wor\s. York, 1954.

Sir Francis Bacon,

Jameson, T. H. Bacon.

44

New

New

York, 1948.

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

45

Baco Verulamis alchemicis philosophis quid debuerit. Angers, 1889.

Janet, P.

Lalande, A. Quid de mathematica vel rationali vel naturali senserit Baconius

Verulamius. Paris, 1899. Les theories de Vinduction. Paris, 1929. "Sur quelques textes de Bacon et de Descartes," Revue de metaphys.

.

ique

et

de morale,

XIX

(191 1), 296-311.

Levi, A. // pensiero de Francesco Bacone. Turin, 1925.

Von Liebig, J. Vber Francis Bacon von Verulam. Munich, De Maistre, J. (Euvres completes. New ed. 14 vols. Lyons, and IX, Examen de la philosophic de Bacon. Rossi, P. Francesco Bacone; della

magia

1863.

1884-86. Vols. VIII

alia scienza. Bari, 1957.

M. La pensee de Lord Bacon. Paris, 1949. G. La philosophic moderne depuis Bacon

Schuhl, P. Sortais,

Paris, 1920-29. Vol.

I,

Steegmuller, F. Sir Francis Bacon: 1930. Sturt,

New

M. Francis Bacon.

jusqu'a Leibniz. 3 vols.

Bacon.

The

First

Modern Mind.

New

York, 1932.

Williams, C. Bacon. London, 1933.

VIII

Texts Robert Boyle. Opera omnia. Venice, 1697. The English Wor\s. Edited by T. Birch. 5 .

vols.

London,

1774.

Studies Florian, P.

"De Bacon

a

Newton," Revue de philosophic,

Masson, F. Robert Boyle: Sprat, T.

The History

A

1914.

Biography. Edinburgh, 1914.

of the Royal Society of

London. London,

1667.

York,

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM i

Life

and Worlds rent

prominent family

descartes

in Touraine.

(1596-1650)

descended

from

a

His grandfather, Pierre Descartes,

fought in the religious wars. His father Joachim,

who became

a

counselor to the parlement of Britanny in 1586, married Jeanne

Brochard. daughter of the lieutenant-general of Poitiers.

who succeeded his father, was the youngest. From 1604 to 1612 he studied at

three children; Pierre,

Rene was of

La

the

Fleche, founded by

There during

his last three years

which consisted of works of

Henry IV and

Organon

third year. This training

Father Clavius' recent

commentaries on the

in the first year, the books

was intended

During

treatise

the college

he received training in philosophy

physics in the second year, the Metaphysics and

to tradition, for theology.

and

directed by the Jesuits.

expositions, summaries, or

Aristotle: the

They had oldest,

his

to

On

on

the Soul in the

prepare him, according

second year he also studied

on mathematics and algebra. In 1616

he passed his examinations in law

at Poitiers.

Like

many

of the

gentry of his time he was freed from any material concern by his

modest fortune. In Holland, then

allied

with France against Spain,

he enlisted in the army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange.

There he struck up a friendship with Isaac Beeckman, medicine

at the

a doctor of

University of Caen. Beeckman, born in 1588, noted

46

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

47

in his journal that he

and Descartes were both

interested in mathe-

matical or physicomathematical problems. Released from his com-

mitment

to the Protestant prince in 1619, Descartes turned to the

army assembled

against the king by the Catholic duke, Maximilian

of Bavaria.

At Frankfurt he attended

the coronation of

Ferdinand.

On November

German his own

10, 1619, in a

with enthusiasm," according to

"filled

1

sciences.

At

that time Descartes

through a period of mystical exaltations.

His

method capable

refers to a universal

ducing unity into the

He was

Ulm,

statement, he dis-

covered "the basic principles of a marvelous science."

ment undoubtedly

Emperor

village near

state-

of intro-

was passing

affiliated

—perhaps

Ulm —with

through the agency of Faulhaber, a mathematician in

the Rosicrucians, a society that prescribed the free practice of medi-

cine

among

members. The

which only a few

period, of

menta

its

titles

lines

of the manuscripts of this

remain, are significant the Expert:

deals with sensible things, the Parnassus with the realm of

the muses

during

and the Olympica, with divine

this

period that he had a prophetic

in a collection of Latin poets

from Ausonius: "Quod

things. Further,

dream

which he used

vitae sectabor iter?"

in

was

it

which he

read,

as a student, this line

He

interpreted the line

as the sign of his philosophical vocation.

From

1619 to 1628 Descartes traveled.

in Italy,

where he took part

Loretto,

which he had vowed

From

From

1623 to 1625 he

in the pilgrimage to the at the

was

Holy House

time of his dream

of

to visit.

2

1626 to 1628 he remained in Paris, studying mathematics and

dioptrics. It treatise,

was probably

in Paris that he wrote the unfinished

Regulae ad directionem ingenii, which was published in

1701, Rules 12

and

13 of

which are translated

Logic of Port Royal (Part IV, chap,

ii,

into

1664).

French in the

During

the

same

period, Cardinal Berulle, founder of the Oratory, encouraged him

pursue philosophical studies in order to serve the cause of

to

reli-

gion against the free-thinkers. 1

2

(Euvres de Descartes, ed. Adam-Tannery (hereafter identified as AT), X, 179. is some doubt as to whether he actually carried out his vow; see Maxime

There

Leroy, Descartes, le philosophe an masque,

I,

107-18

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

48

Toward

end of

the

France in 1644, he remained there

he changed his residence several times. Be-

1649, although

until

tween 1628 and 1629 he wrote a "short

on the

God and

existence of

was then

physics. It

on the

His

1633.

Rome

reflections

—the

phenomena

On

on the phenomenon of parhelions, observed

him

to

formation

an orderly explanation of of

the

man and

human

the

Office for

in

natural

all

gravity,

planets,

tides

—and

Then came by condemned was

the event that was to change his plans: Galileo

Holy

the World. His

can be traced in his correspondence until

finally to his explanation of

the

on metaphysics,"

1629 he turned his attention to

that he wrote the treatise

treatise

in 1629, led

treatise

of our souls, designed to lay the

foundations of his physics. In

progress

Holland in search

1628, Descartes retired to

of solitude. Except for a trip to

body.

upholding the principle that the earth moves.

"This came as such a shock to me," he wrote to Mersenne on

have almost resolved to burn

July 22, 1622, "that

I

or at least not to

anyone see them.

let

of the earth's motion]

losophy are also

by them and

is false,

false, for this

then

I

all

confess that

is

it

without invalidating

papers,

[the principle

the foundations of

principle

my

phi-

obviously demonstrated

so closely linked to every part of

is

could not remove

my

all

if

all

my

treatise that I

the rest."

The

treatise

remained among Descartes' papers and was not published until 1677.

He

making his physics Method; the

did not, however, abandon the idea of

known, and

in

1637 he published a Discourse on

Dioptric; the Meteors; and the Geometry.

The

three essays

and the

Discourse that precedes them are intended, according to his

state-

ment, merely "to chart the course and to determine the depth of

The

the water."

1635, actually

Dioptric,

which he had already completed in

contained a report on studies

glass-cutting machine;

made

in

1629 of a

a chapter on refraction, written in

1632;

and the elaboration of the corresponding chapter on vision in the treatise

1635,

The

On

the World. Meteors

and tn e Geometry original

title

of the

was composed in the summer of

in 1636, while Meteors

work was "Plan

was being

printed.

of a universal science that

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

49

can

raise

lar,

Dioptric, Meteors

our nature to

its

highest degree of perfection; in particu-

and Geometry,

in

which the most curious

matters that the author could select are explained in such a

manner

who have not studied can understand them." Desgave it a new title: Discourse on a Method of Properly

that even those cartes later

Guiding Reason

in the Search for

Dioptric, Meteors

and Geometry, Which Are Essays

In

Truth

in the Sciences; Also, in this

philosophia in quibus Dei existentia et animae immortalitas strantur, to

which he had completed in

1640.

He

prima

demon-

took every precaution

have the theologians look with favor on his Meditations on First

Philosophy. According to his

foundations of his physics. a

Method.

641 Descartes published in Latin the Meditationes de

1

letter to

He

young Dutch theologian;

first

was

it

contained

to

it,

from them what should be changed,

to learn

added before

it

is

published."

theologians of the Sorbonne,

Mer-

treatise to

judgment

corrected, or

was preceded by a

It

the

together

replies (first objections), to

have Mersenne bring the

the attention of the theologians "in order to have their

and

all

submitted the work to Caterus,

then, late in 1640, he sent

with Caterus* objections and his senne. His intention

Mersenne,

letter to the

whose approbation he sought by

stress-

ing the definitive character of his demonstrations against the ungodly.

Mersenne then

gians

(second

collected the objections of different theolo-

objections),

Hobbes

(third

objections),

Arnauld

(fourth objections), Gassendi (fifth objections), and other theolo-

gians and philosophers (sixth objections). lished,

since

it

The

treatise

followed by the objections and by Descartes'

was erroneously assumed

that the

was pub-

replies,

work would have

and the

approbation of the Sorbonne, on the bottom of the cover was printed

"cum approbatione doctorum." This

from the edition of

1642,

and the

corpore distinctio replaced

Animae

title

tions of the Jesuit

disappeared

was modified {Animae a

immortalitas)

contained, in the reply to Arnauld, a passage

which Mersenne had suppressed

notice

.

This edition also

on the Eucharist

in the first edition,

and the

objec-

Bourdin (seventh objections). Finally, Descartes'

Correspondence made public other objections

—from an anonymous

50

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

person nicknamed Hyperaspistes and from the Oratorian Gibieuf

French translation of the

first

appeared in 1647; the second edition

A

contained the

also

(1661)

.

by Descartes,

edition, revised in part

seven objections. Descartes' persistent effort to have his ideas widely accepted

based on something

much

greater than personal ambition;

it

was was

an awareness of the profound significance of his work, the "true

man

generosity that causes a

to rate himself as

high

he

as

legiti-

mately can." In 1642 he manifested to Huyghens his intention to publish

On

the

World

in Latin

losophiae "in order that

it

may

and

entitle

to

Summa

it

phi-

be more easily introduced into the

conversation of educated people

who now condemn

His sum-

it."

mation was actually the Principia philosophiae, which appeared in 1644

and

for

which he

Jesuit masters,

tried to obtain the approval of his

who were

The French

losophy different from Aristotle's. Picot, published in 1647,

former

in the best position to disseminate a phi-

was preceded by a

translation

by Abbe

letter to the translator

designed to reveal the over-all plan of Descartes' philosophy.

From manded

this

moment

Descartes'

on,

ethical

attention.

questions

seem

to

have com-

His correspondence with Princess

Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick, the titular king of Bohemia,

had found refuge

in Holland, provided

to elaborate his ideas treatise

On

who

him with an opportunity

on the highest good and culminated

in the

the Passions, his last work, published in 1649.

His long stay in Holland was often disturbed by polemics. The Discourse of 1637, communicated to the learned

Mersenne, the great reporter of

mathematicians Fermat and Roberval,

upon unsympathetically by those

More than once

in the

Descartes had the opportunity to as well as his

own

virtuosity,

criticism of the Dioptric.

disputes with the French

who

caused

it

associated with the

challenges

that

show

of his time by

developments, brought

scientific

down upon him Morin's and Hobbes's The Geometry was the cause of bitter

men

to

be looked

young

Pascal.

he made or answered,

the fertility of his

and he found an ardent

method

disciple in

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

51

Florimond de Beaune, whose commentary on the Geometry was published in 1649, along with Schoot's Latin translation of the

work. In Holland, ministers and

saw

members

of the teaching profession

that the success of Descartes' philosophy posed

their teachings,

began

at the

and they fought

Academy

a threat to

The polemic

violently for Aristotle.

of Utrecht between Regius, a professor of

medicine, and Gisbert Voet, a theologian. Regius, one of Descartes'

"even gives private lessons in physics and in a few

admirers,

months makes

heaping ridicule on the old

his disciples capable of

March

philosophy." Troubles increased until

"first

because

the old,

ous

it is

new, next because

wholesome philosophy, and

false

new

and absurd opinions." From

this

because

it

moment

personally defended himself against personal attacks. pletely exonerated at the University of spite of his repeated protestations, the

Groningen

the

philosophy,

turns our youth

it

finally

when

1642,

17,

Senate of Utrecht prohibited the teaching of the

away from

teaches vari-

on, Descartes

He

was com-

in 1645, but in

Utrecht magistrates did not

consent to review their sentence declaring his letter to Voet defamatory. Besides,

he was no longer supported by Regius,

who

misunder-

stood his philosophy and whose theses on the soul he was forced to attack in 1647. versity of

accused

The

next attack on Descartes came from the Uni-

Leyden during the same

him

year. Revius, the theologian,

of blasphemy, a crime punishable under the law.

defend himself, Descartes was obliged to appeal

to the

To

ambassador

of France.

His

stay in

Holland was interrupted only by three short

France, in 1644, 1647, and 1648.

young Pascal and suggested later,

a

to

his

second

trip

he met the

to a report written

the notion of conducting experiments with quicksilver

vacuum.

It

was

a pension which

also

on

his second trip that

was never

paid.

parliamentary Fronde and the Paris.

On

him, according

trips to

The

air there,

he

said,

His third

Day

"makes

and

Mazarin granted him

trip

coincided with the

of Barricades.

me dream

He

never liked

instead of thinking

52

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

philosophical thoughts. There in their opinions

there

is

and

see so

I

many

in their calculations that

a universal sickness"

In September, 1649, he

(AT, V,

left

who

people it

are

seems to

wrong

me

that

133).

Holland and traveled

He

died there on February

11

The Method and Universal Mathematics

Stockholm.

to

11, 1650.

In the preface to the French edition of the Principles (1647) Descartes, wishing to present his doctrine according to the traditional outline of philosophy, divided

and

Physics.

His

logic,

however,

it

into Logic, Metaphysics,

not traditional but

is

and because usage plays an important

for us to devote

much

"that

which

which we

teaches us to use reason wisely to discover truths of

ignorant;

is

part,

it

is

are

good

time to practicing the rules that apply to

simple, easy questions, such as those of mathematics."

We

can easily find the

metaphysics

is

last

two

parts of Descartes' philosophy:

explained in the fourth part of the Discourse, in the

Meditations, and in the

first

book of the Principles; physics

explained in the Dioptric and Meteors, in the treatise

World, in the

fifth

and

sixth parts of the Discourse,

three books of the Principles.

the logic of

We

and

On

is

the

in the last

are hard put, however, to find

He wrote no Organon comNovum organum of Bacon. The

which Descartes speaks.

parable to the Analytics or to the

second part of the Discourse, which contains the rules of the

method, does not go beyond

generalities,

and the Rules, probably

written before 1629, are unfinished. There remains the

Geometry

which, according to Descartes, "demonstrates the method." Further-

more, it

to

it

demonstrates the method not by explaining

solve problems,

and we are wrong

simply as a mathematical procedure. matics in and for

itself

numbers and imaginary

mind

to procedures that

We

to treat

it

it

but by using purely and

are not to study mathe-

in order to find the properties of "sterile figures,"

but in order to accustom the

can and ought to be extended to objects

important in an entirely different sense. Descartes always treated

DESCARTES AND CARTESIAN ISM

53

mathematics

am

"I

as a

product of his method, not as the method

minds guided

ceived by superior

definable, divine part of the

consciousness, the

useful thoughts have been deposited, so that often,

may

neglected and repressed they

Historically, strides

his

it

to

with Beeckman

association

we

see in the

determine whether the prodigious

mathematical discoveries

his

how

no matter

and geometry."

hard

is

marked by

seeds of

first

be as a result of prejudicial

spontaneously; this

studies, they yield their fruits easiest sciences, arithmetic

per-

by nature. For in an un-

solely

human

itself.

method has already been

convinced," he said, "that this

—beginning

and culminating

(1619)

with the

in

theory of equations advanced in the Geometry (1637) and in his



on the problem of tangents (1638) precede or follow the method "for the orderly direction of his

letters

discovery of a universal

thoughts" in any matter whatsoever.

One

thing

is

certain: "practice" in the

method was

to

be based

not on "vulgar mathematics" but on what since Aristotle had been classed as "pure mathematics" sions

which studied numbers and dimen-

and "applied mathematics" such

optics. Descartes

was

first

drawn

astronomy, music, and

to applied

he studied the acceleration of falling sure exerted by liquids

as

objects,

mathematics. In 1619 musical chords, pres-

on the bottom of a container, and,

later,

the

laws of refraction. His investigations tended at that time, like those of Kepler

and

toward the mathematical expression of the

Galileo,

laws of nature. But his thought subsequently took an entirely

dif-

ferent course, in the direction of a universal mathematics. Rejecting

the subject matter of vulgar mathematics

sounds



this universal

and measure:

order,

—numbers,

mathematics was concerned only with order

by which the understanding of one term

the necessary result of understanding another;

which

objects are related to

What

is

figures, stars,

this universal

is

and measure, by

one another through some shared

trait.

mathematics that a philosopher must learn

in order to train himself in the

method? The fundamental idea

is

expressed at the end of the Geometry: "In the matter of mathematical progressions, after

we have

grasped the

first

two or three

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

54 terms,

A

not hard to find the others."

is

it

essentially of a series of

progression consists

terms arranged in such a manner that the

following term depends on the preceding one. Order, in this case, allows us not only to put each term in the right place but also to

on the

discover,

the

unknown

basis of the place assigned to

terms;

it

has an inventive, creative capacity.

was not the

sure, Descartes

them, the values of

no idea had been more commonplace

order;

whereas

earlier logicians treated order as a

showed

of the terms

and makes possible

determined are always

be

to

(I,

774),

Descartes

which does not

inherent in the nature

is

their discovery.

unknown

In a mathematical problem,

be

or less arbitrary

that a progression manifests a type of order

depend on an arbitrary judgment but

To

consists in

Ramus. But

since

more

arrangement of previously discovered terms

are

method

realize that

first to

quantities

linked

whose values

known

to

quantities

through relations implicitly defined in the statement of a problem.

For

instance,

Pappus' problem, solved in the

may

Geometry,

straight lines

first

book of the

be stated most simply in this way: given three

on a plane,

to find a point

from which

straight lines

can be drawn on them, resulting in equal angles so that the product of the

first

two angles

is

equal to the square of the third. Then,

"without taking into account any difference between

unknown

lines,

which shows others, until

two ways

we must

in the

we

most natural way

find a

known and

study the difficulty according to order,

means

how

each depends on the

of expressing the

same quantity

in

—in other words, an equation. And we must find such an

equation for each of the 372).

Having brought

mine

the value of the

unknown

lines that

we assumed" (VI, we can deter-

to light the "natural" order,

unknown

the inventive capacity of order

line is

by solving the equation. Thus

truly demonstrated

by the

ex-

pedient of equations.

Universal mathematics, therefore, had to surmount several technical difficulties. In the first place,

from it is

all

it

was necessary

the geometric representations to

which

it

to free algebra

was

linked.

And

not surprising that Descartes began the Geometry by showing



DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

55 that

a and b represent straight

if

X

a

lines,

b or a

a rectangle or a square but another line that

is

2

represents not

to a as

b

is

to unity.

In the same way, a quotient and a root represent straight lines; as a rule, the results of operations are always straight lines. In the

second place,

it

was necessary

more thoroughly

to investigate

the

methods of solving equations independently, without relating symany geometric quantity. This

bols to

book of the Geometry.

of the third

show

is

the fertility of his

method

the subject of the

Finally,

all

The

exhibit a given property.

analytic geometry,

to

Thanks

to

—that

is,

whose

lines

was the creation of

result

mathematics

in

is

to the expedient of co-ordinates,

any point on a line can be determined

if

we know

between two indeterminate straight

relation

was necessary

it

which Descartes' work

often (wrongly) reduced.

half

in the solution of geometric prob-

lems, such as the construction of co-ordinates points

first

lines

the constant

whose points of

intersection supply each of the points of the curve. It follows that

any problem depends on the discovery of a relation between straight lines

—a

braically.

fore

Knowledge

amenable

Such

is

method; dering

of qualities or properties of curves

it

situation in

do" (Rules,

But

science.

universal mathematics,

its

under which

this

mathematics

method

own

it

life,

xii).

is

is

the

is

not the

same time engen-

at the

knowledge which the

intellect

nature and, consequently, of the conditions

exercised.

Wisdom

the intellect will

To

and

accomplish

first

this,

consists

but "in order to prepare objects presented to

itself to it."

imagination, sense, and

perceive

truth"

xii).

memory

This

this:

academic

true, solid

Now among

intellect,

(Rules,

make

in

"in each

show the will what it must the mind must increase its

insights, not "in order to resolve a particular

all

there-

but the application of the method to the simplest

is

Descartes'

acquires of

is

whose procedures have today

the universal mathematics

Above it,

seen, can be expressed alge-

to algebraic calculation.

become part and parcel of objects.

we have

relation which, as

difficulty"

judgments about

the cognitive faculties

—"intelligence

intellectual

alone can

knowledge alone

should be the primary concern of the wise man. "It surprises

me"



56

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

says Descartes, "that ties

most

men

study with the greatest care proper-

and the

of plants, transmutations of metals,

like,

while only a

number concern themselves with the intellect and with which we are speaking." Nevertheless, many philosophers of the past had meditated on the nature of the very small

the universal science of

but Descartes studied the intellect neither in order to

intellect;

determine

place in the metaphysical scale of beings (like a

its

Platonist) nor in order to discover the

mechanism

of ideas through sensations (like the Peripatetics) tions reappeared in the eighteenth

Condillac censured Descartes for ideas nor

and the

how

was

to

him

an

aspects of

We

must

centuries,

and

neither the origin of our

They did not concern

Descartes,

The

sciences are distinguished

their objects

but as distinct forms or

intellect eternally identical to itself {Rules, i).

first

apprehend pure

way we

intuition, "conception of a

we have

distinct that

by isolating

intellect

it

"from the

and the deceptive judgments of the

variable testimony of the senses

imagination." In this

stand,"

These two ques-

not a reality to be explained but a

point of departure and a fulcrum.

from one another not by

of the formation

and nineteenth

knowing

they are generated.

intellectus

.

Neo-

identify

its

two

essential faculties

pure and attentive mind, so easy and so

absolutely

no doubt about what we under-

and deduction through which we understand a truth

being the consequence of another truth of which

we

as

are convinced.

Descartes borrowed his vocabulary from traditional philosophy,

and he did not schools

try to hide this fact.

much

not "worry

these

to

Aristotle, the

He

also stated that

he did

about the meanings attached by the different expressions"

word

{Rules,

iii).

In

"intuition" signifies at the

the

language of

same time knowl-

edge of terms prior to their synthesis by judgment, knowledge of the unity that connects the different elements of a concept,

and

knowledge of something present

two

instances,

it

is

as

being present. In the

intuition that arrives at the elements

first

from which

judgments are formed. Similarly, Cartesian intuition has object

first

"It

often easier to examine

is

the "simple natures" of

which everything

several

is

as

its

composed.

natures joined together,"



DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

57

remarks Descartes

from the

others.

even though tains

I

{Rules, xii), "than

For example,

may

knowledge of

to

separate one of

my

never have noticed that

and

angles, lines,

so forth,

and

prevent our saying that the nature of the triangle

and

these natures since they are

that they are better

what we understand

which,

is

For

composed

other

of all

than the triangle

—extension,

But

we

first

motion, figure realities

follows that their

realities. It

not the simplicity of an abstraction, and that a term

does not become simpler as true.

is

known

does not

which judgments are composed but

when combined, produce

simplicity

knowledge conthis still

in the triangle."

should note that these simple natures are not concepts of

them

can have knowledge of a triangle

I

becomes more

it

instance, the abstract surface of a

limit of the body; although

it

To

simple than this notion.

abstract.

The

body

defined as the

is

reverse

implies the notion of body,

it is

is

less

the intellect, simple natures are ulti-

mate, irreducible terms, so clear that they can be grasped only

reduced to something more

intuitively but not explained or tinct.

There

is

"no

logical definition" of those "things

very simple and which can be recognized naturally place, time,

and the

like"

(AT,

II,

but one surface." existence, or is

attributed

It

is

size,

apprehends not only notions

"I exist," "I think," "a globe has

should be understood that a simple nature,

thought

is

apprehended in a subject

first

and from which

process of abstraction. that

:

which are

—shape,

597).

Intuition, according to Descartes,

but also undeniable truths such as

dis-

it

Number,

to

which

it

can be separated only through a for example,

is

only in the thing

counted, and the "follies" of the Pythagoreans,

who

ascribed

miraculous properties to numbers, would have been impossible

if

they had not conceived numbers as being distinct from the things that are counted {Rules, xiv) therefore,

is

.

The

first

step

not the concept from which

toward understanding,

we

fabricate propositions

but intuitive knowledge of certain truths, the certainty of which will be extended

Finally,

we

by degrees

to their

dependent

truths.

perceive through intuition not only truths but also

the link between one truth

and another immediately dependent on

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

58 it

(for example,

between

1+3 = 2 + 2

and

on

1

+3=

the other)

4,

2

+2=4

on the one hand

and what we

;

common

call

notions (for example, "two things equal to a third thing are equal to

one another") are revealed immediately by the intuition of

these relations.

Such

is

the threefold nature of intuition, the "natural light" or

we

by which

"intellectual

instinct"

"much more

detailed than

onstrate countless propositions"

This demonstration

knowledge

acquire

one might think and

(AT,

VIII, 599).

by which "we understand

things that are the consequence of certain other things"

Cartesian deduction

syllogism.

The

is

dem-

accomplished by means of the second

is

intellectual operation, deduction,

iii).

that

sufficient to

syllogism

quite

is

is

from the

different

all

the

{Rules,

traditional

a relation between concepts, deduction

a relation between truths; the relation between the three terms of the syllogism

is

determined by complicated rules that can be applied

mechanically to reveal whether the syllogism

deduction

is

known by

can be omitted

mind

if

intuition

—through

is

conclusive, whereas

evidence such that

"it

not perceived but cannot be impaired by the

least suited to logical reasoning."

The

syllogism

is

character-

ized by fixed relations between fixed concepts, and these relations exist

even

when

they are not perceived; deduction

is

"the continu-

ous and uninterrupted motion of thought that perceives things, one after the other,

that there

is

with absolute clearness" (AT, X, 369).

It

follows

a place in Cartesian deduction only for propositions

that are certain, whereas the syllogism

accommodates propositions

that are merely probable.

All these differences are easily explained that Cartesian deduction tities

is

typified

if

we understand

clearly

by the comparison of two quan-

by means of a unit of measurement. "Any knowledge that

not acquired through intuition pure and simple

is

comparison of two or more objects. In any process of reasoning, is

only through comparison that

the truth. If there

is

in a

we

we

it

acquire exact knowledge of

magnet a type

ever perceived by our minds,

is

acquired through

of being unlike anything

can never hope to acquire knowl-

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

59

edge of

The

through reasoning" (Rules, xiv).

it

nature of an

unknown thing is determined by its relations with known things. The unknown quantity in an equation is nothing in itself apart from its relations with the known quantities, and it draws its nature entirely from these relations; the same applies to any truth

known through logic)

The

deduction.

object

is

not (as in Aristotelian

to determine whether an attribute belongs to a subject

whose nature

is

known, but

rather to determine the very nature of

the subject, just as a term in a progression

is

determined wholly

by the principle of the progression that engenders deduction essences

—a

a solution to the problem of the determination of

is

Intuition

Cartesian

it.

problem which

baffled the Peripatetics.

and deduction are not method. Method

indicates

"how

we must and how

use intuition to avoid falling into error contrary to truth

arrive at

knowledge of

deduction should operate in such a manner that all

things" (Rules, iv).

proposition, mathematicians choose sitions placed at their disposal

To

from among

we may

demonstrate a

the certain propo-

by intuition and deduction those

immediately applicable, with the result that the convergence of those propositions

produces a

censuring the mathematicians

have arrived

at their choice,

of luck" (Rules, iv). rules for

making

is

new

truth.

that they

which seems

The whole problem

the right choice:

do not

tell

to result

reason for

us

how

they

from a "stroke

method

of

"Method

order and arrangement of the things the

Descartes'

consists

is

to provide

wholly in the

mind should turn toward What we must learn is

in order to discover a truth" (Rules, v).

not to see or deduce truth but infallibly to choose the propositions that bear

on the problem

at

hand.

We

arrive at this result by an

exercise described by Descartes in his sixth rule. It includes three steps

:

"We must

first collect

indiscriminately

all

themselves, then gradually determine whether

them other I

truths,

and from the

truths that present

we can deduce from

latter still others,

and

so on."

Thus

deduce one number from the other in a continuous progression by

always doubling the preceding number. "That done, attentively

on

the truths that

we have

we must

reflect

discovered and examine care-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

60

why we were

fully

and which

others,

able to discover

it

me

to

is

me

harder for

12, for

deduce from the proportion that (this

is

manner

in

consists

which

to

me

here

exists

to

necessary for

it is

between 3 and 12

determine the geometric

to

the third step) "it follows that

know, when we approach a

method

than

mean

to discover the proportional

another proportion that will allow

mean. Finally

easily

following term by doubling the preceding

between the extremes 3 and

intercalate

them more

of

truths they are." Thus, in the preceding progres-

sion, I easily discover the

one, but

some

we

shall then

particular question, the appropriate

begin our study." Thus, according to the Rules,

mainly in providing the mind with various schemes

know, when faced with a new problem, on how many truths the solution depends. And "store them in the memory [like the rules of the

that will enable us to

which truths and on the object

is

not to

syllogism] but to shape the

mind

in such a

them immediately whenever the need order

is

way

that

arises."

will discover

it

The

discovery of

not accomplished through the mechanical application of a

rule but through the strengthening of the

mind by

exercising

its

spontaneous faculties of deduction. follows that

It

method must

which our knowledge

absolute

us

to

distinguish between

which our knowledge depends on nothing

things of of

train

and what

is

else

relative.

progression, the absolute of the terms; in the

unit of volume;

is

a geometric

the principle that allows us to determine

measurement of

in the

is

Furthermore, the two notions depend

on the nature of the problem under consideration. In all

and things

always conditional; between what

is

measurement

length. In general, the absolute

is

a body, the absolute

of a volume,

the

is

the

unit of

the ultimate condition of the

solution of a problem.

Does method tion, dealt

consist entirely in order?

with in the seventh

rule,

At

seems

to

first

be

glance,

enumera-

less a rule of dis-

covery than a practical means of enlarging the scope of intuition.

We

recall that

deduction

is

an uninterrupted motion,

of truths. After apprehending intuitively the truth

and the next, we can

bond

like a chain

that unites one

(this is the process of

enumeration)

DESCARTES AND CARTESIAN ISM

61

"rapidly survey the different links so that

we seem

be apprehend-

to

ing them at a single glance, barely helped by memory." Successive revelation

truth

change into a

revelations tend to

intuitive

instantaneous

single,

which we apprehend the bond between the

in

and the

last in

also to designate a slightly different operation: "If

were neces-

it

which

sary," said Descartes, "to study separately each of the things relate to the goal

be

first

one intuitive glance. But enumeration seems

we have

no man's

set ourselves,

would

lifetime

because they are too numerous or

sufficient for the task, either

because the same things would reappear too often." Enumeration is

a methodical choice that excludes everything not necessary to

the solution of the problem at hand,

and

it

eliminates in particular

the examination of countless individual cases by reducing things to definite classes, just as

we might

reduce

conical sections to classes

all

according to whether the plane that cuts the cone

is

perpendicular

to its axis, parallel, or oblique. "It

to

is

be noted," wrote Descartes to Mersenne, "that

follow the order of materials but only of reasons"

That

do not

I

(AT,

260).

III,

the distinctive trait of the Cartesian method; for the real

is

order of production he substitutes the order that legitimatizes our

famous

affirmations concerning things. This accounts for the four

precepts of the Discourse, the first

was never

of these

be

clearly perceive to

meaning

and

so,

that

I

to

is

now

clear

anything that

my

to accept in

more than what was presented tinctly

which

of

to accept as true

my mind

I

:

"The

did not

judgments nothing

and

so clearly

could have no reason to doubt

it."

dis-

This precept

excludes any source of knowledge other than the natural light of intelligence; the clarity of to the attentive

contains in

mind;

an idea

distinctiveness

—knowledge

itself

another idea.

What

is

constitutes

the very presence of the idea

knowledge of what the idea

is

such that

method

it

is

cannot be confused with

certainly not natural light,

for neither intuition nor deduction can be learned; but for us to learn to

up each

employ nothing

of the difficulties that

parts as possible

and

as

I

else.

it is

"The second was

was going

to

might be required

examine into

to resolve

possible

to divide as

them

many in the

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

62

manner. The third was

best

with the objects

ning

to think in

an orderly fashion, begin-

which were simplest and

easiest to

under-

and gradually, by degrees, reaching upward toward more

stand,

complex knowledge, even assuming an order among things that follow no natural sequence." These are the two rules of order; the the identification of the simple natures

prescribes

first

and the

absolute of a problem (study of the equations of the problem)

;

the

second refers quite clearly to the formation of schemes of increasing

known

complexity

"And

the last

reviews

general

so

omitted."

to us

It is

from the Rules (composition of equations).

was always that

make enumerations

to I

was

certain

nothing had been

that

through enumeration that everything necessary and question

sufficient to resolve a

words added

see clearly in the

is

studied methodically. For as

to the

rendis), the important thing

we

Latin translation of the Dis-

quam

course (tarn in quaerendis mediis

memory once

complete and

so

in difficultatibus percur-

not to retain demonstrations in the

is

they have been accomplished, but to discover every-

thing necessary to their accomplishment.

Metaphysics

in

Descartes wrote to Mersenne on April all

those to

employ I

must

of themselves.

tell

you that

I

foundations of physics

Thus, according

God and tian's

has given the use of reason are obliged to

That

is

why

I

undertook

would never have been if I

had not searched

to Descartes, metaphysics,

of one's

self, fulfills

by methodical order;

knowledge of

my

studies,

for

them

which

is

in this way."

knowledge of

draws support from metaphysics.

is

a Chris-

combat the negations of is

finally, physics

the

first

and

able to discover the

several requirements. It

obligation to use reason to

thinkers; furthermore, metaphysics

it

1630: "I believe that

principally for the purpose of acquiring

it

him and

whom God

15,

free-

question necessitated

cannot achieve certainty unless



DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

63

The in the

of these three reasons reveals Descartes' participation

first

campaign against the

retired to Holland, Descartes

he

was asked by Cardinal Berulle

to

and

support the cause of religion,

We

recall that before

free-thinkers.

that the Meditations, considered

in this light, belong to the tradition of the rationalistic apologetics

wanted

that originated in the sixteenth century. Descartes his

and

part

(AT,

stated

240).

III,

He

repeatedly that he supported "God's cause"

sought the approbation of the theologians

and asked Mersenne

the Sorbonne

to theologians. It

is

do

to

to

at

submit the Meditations only

clear that his metaphysics

had a place in the

and we need only note the use

religious

movement

which

was put by the philosopher-theologians of the second half

it

of the century

But that important

edge of

He

is

is

God

of his time,

—Bossuet,

Arnauld, and Malebranche.

merely an external aspect of Descartes' thought. Most the place

it

has in his system; to Descartes the knowl-

provided by metaphysics was not an end but a means.

thought the goal he had

judgments concerning

—"to

himself

set for

make

first

What was

seeking the foundation of cer-

tainty in

God

tainty of

mathematics and physics which underlie

himself.

at stake

that collectively constitute the happiness of

and

true, valid

the objects that present themselves"

all

could not be attained without

cine,

ethics. "I will tell

was

certainty, the cer-

of the arts

all

man—mechanics,

you privately," he wrote

to

medi-

Mersenne,

"that these six meditations contain the complete foundations of physics, but this arbitrarily

Catholic

to

must not be

told to others."

my

Never did Descartes

introduce the least trace of a specifically Christian or

dogma

into the fabric of his doctrine.

He

affirmed his

faith not as a philosopher

but as a citizen of a country associated

with a religion in which

God had

graciously caused

him

to be

born. His attachment to religion, obviously sincere, quite naturally

implied the conviction that no philosophical truth can be incompatible with the truth of revealed

dogmas (which

is

the generally held

concept of the relations between faith and reason in therefore,

when

Thomism);

theologians criticized his theory of matter and



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

64

stated that

it

was not consonant with the dogma of transubstantishow that the two are compatible.

ation, Descartes took pains to

Thus we and

see that religious considerations intervene only indirectly

and that the Cartesian vision of the universe

accidentally,

independent of dogma.

essentially

The eminent

in all

life.

would "one day" demonstrate some of the

soul. In 1628,

it

God and

truths of faith

the immortality of the

not certain of his physics, he composed a "short

still

on metaphysics." The unfinished dialogue On the Search

for Truth, probably written in life,

to the attention

While writing the Rules he announced

probability the existence of

treatise

must have come

role of metaphysics

of Descartes early in that he

is

also begins

deduce "what

possible for us to

(AT, X,

creatures"

Stockholm during the

with the rational soul and

505).

most

is

During

its

year of his

last

creator,

which makes

certain concerning other

was

the intervening years he

always preoccupied by the same thought: the Discourse (1637), the Meditations, the Principles of metaphysics,

—of

which the

entitled "Principles of

is

agree on the point that no certainty existence of It is

first part,

Human

an exposition

Knowledge"

possible unless based

is



all

on the

God.

hard for us to imagine

have seemed

Descartes'

to

how

contemporaries. In Scholasticism the

God owes

affirmation of the existence of

effect to

intuition

of the

cause, to things

its

certainty wholly to

which lead us back

the certainty of sensible things

from an

paradoxical this thesis must

to

God

as

a cause; inversely, Neo-Platonism begins with

divine principle

—the

and goes from God

effects of this cause.

—the

first

Descartes was apparently

confronted with two alternatives, but his chain of reasoning pro-

vided an escape.

The

first

two

steps of his metaphysics point

up

the impossibility of either course: methodical doubt, by showing that there

is

no

certainty in

sensible

matical things, prevents us from going

things or even in mathe-

from things

to

God, and

the theory of eternal truths prohibits our deriving the essence of

things

from God

as the

model.

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

6$

The Theory

Metaphysics:

iv

Let us

first

of Eternal Truths

consider the theory which Descartes expounded in

his letters as early as 1630

but did not take up again in his published

works. According to the Platonic thesis which suffused the Middle

Ages and the Renaissance, the essence of a created thing in the divine essence, so that there

is

of the divine essence. Degraded, confused, applies to created things,

nearly as

it

and inadequate

which merely

God

you

participate in his eternal essence. Des-

as

do

independent of

all

15,

less

1630).

is in effect to

and

The

to subjugate

possible

To

wholly

say that such truths are

speak of

him

God

to the Styx

and the good are not

omnipotence; possible only are "the things that

he were

as if

and

to fate"

rules to

the will of God, in creating things, submits, for this his

than their

God and depend

were established by

other creatures.

him

Jupiter or Saturn

(April

no

were created by God: "The mathematical truths that

call eternal truths

on him,

it

the creator of existences but not

is

cartes held that the essences of created things,

existences,

as

such knowledge will be perfected, as

can be in a created being, only in the illuminative

vision. It also follows that

of essences,

participates

no knowledge other than that

which

would

God

limit

willed to

be truly possible" and "the reason for their goodness depends on the fact that he

saw

an attachment, then,

fit

to create

to the

them" (May

freedom of

God

Gibieuf, a friend of Descartes, devoted a

to

1644).

Why

such

which the Oratorian

work published

in 1630?

Because, in the finite understanding of man, this theory alone

compatible with a perfect knowledge of essences. "There particular one [of these eternal truths] that if

our minds are disposed to consider

understand the greatness of

with

it"

(April

16,

By bond of

1630).

essences of finite things a

God

it.

we

no

cannot understand

In contrast,

even though

positing

is

is

we cannot

we are familiar God and the

between

creature to creator

and not a bond

of participation, Descartes ruled out the possibility of any meta-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

66

might

physics or physics that of being

and of knowledge from

make God

to

deduce the forms

aspire rationally to

and he was

their first cause;

the guarantee rather than the

able

model of our under-

standing. In other words, according to the general precept of his

method, he no longer followed the order of God's production of things but "the order of reasons,"

how

can engender another, for us the principle of

which shows how one

certainty

God

certainty of the existence of

any other

is

certainty.

Metaphysics: Doubt and the Cogito

v

In the three published expositions of his metaphysics (the fourth part of the Discourse, the Meditations,

and the

Principles), Descartes always followed the

book of the

first

same order: doubt con-

cerning the existence of material things and the certainty of mathematics; the unshakeable certainty of "I think, therefore

am"; the

I

demonstration of the existence of God; the guarantee that

judgments grounded on

existence provides for

and the resulting

ideas; soul,

the

which

is

existence

doubt

and

clear

concerning the essence of the

certainties

thought, the essence of the body, which of

material

things.

to certainty, or rather

plied in doubt

itself,

this

distinct

Thus

from an

metaphysics

size,

is

judgment im-

initial certain

growing succession of

the Cogito, to a

and

goes from

certain

judgments, for only certainty can engender certainty. Since

the

Skeptics

third

century

b.c.

followers

the

had accumulated reasons

for

of

and the

Plato

doubting sensible things.

Descartes took up these reasons. In the illusions of the senses and in

dreams we believe things

false

—sufficient

ceived us. But

to

be true that

we

judge to be

later

reason to distrust the senses that have once deif

his

arguments were the same

Skeptics, his intentions

were quite

different.

He

for his doubt in his reply to the sensationalist

as

those of the

gave the reason

Hobbes:

"I

used

[reasons for doubting] partly for the purpose of training readers'

minds

to consider intellectual things

corporeal things, for

and

to separate

which they have always seemed

them from to

me

to be

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

6y

Summary

an absolute necessity." In the

of Meditations he stated

means

that "doubt provides us with an easy

of accustoming our

minds to detach themselves from the senses," and that such detach-

ment

the necessary condition of certainty.

is

Doubt concerning material an

ascesis

comparable

things, therefore,

to the effort

made by

is

methodical doubt,

Plato's prisoner to turn

toward the light, and Descartes utilized skepticism to achieve, in the nothingness of the sensible world, an awareness of the spiritual reality.

Theologians

who

criticized Descartes

on

point were

this

not mistaken, and objections to his methodical doubt were raised

not by theologians but by sensationalists Cartesian doubt goes

much

—Hobbes

and Gassendi.

further in one sense than does skep-

doubt. For once Descartes had established even the slightest

tical

reason for doubting, he did not hesitate to posit other reasons that amplified

and carried

it

to the

it

utmost degree, proceeding here

who "assume

(he remarked to Gassendi) like those are true in order to cast for instance,

more

who "add new

light

on the truth"

lines to

Such doubt,

—the

geometers,

given figures." This makes

possible the "hyperbolic doubt" that has to

propositions.

that false things

do with mathematical

truly extraordinary since

it

causes us to

hold as uncertain knowledge considered the most certain of is

made

possible by the hypothesis of an

whose hypothetical power ever

I

is

such that

it

add two and three or count the

Rules. But apart

how

is

on knowledge

sides of a square or

is

is

still

unknown

make

eternal

truths

of

God whose

to us, a spirit that has the

same power

If

"evil," this spirit will

things at the very instant us to

the hypothesis of

the very possibility of such doubt conceivable

through his omnipotence? but

Thus

make

classed as intuitive in the

from Descartes' God who has decreed the

existence

all,

"evil spirit"

can introduce error "when-

a decision about something even simpler." the evil spirit casts doubt

omnipotent

we

posit,

instead

be capable of changing the truths of

we

perceive them,

and thus of causing

mistakes.

In another sense, however, Cartesian doubt skeptical doubt. It does not

fails to

go

as far as

go beyond "notions so simple

that,



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

68

by themselves, they provide no knowledge of anything that {Principles,

or at

I,

10), such

common notions —for instance, the principle that least as much reality in the total efficient cause as

effect.

Furthermore,

differs

it

whereas the skeptic

Thus he

and the absence of

tainty

all

considered only they are

objects of

my

no middle ground between if

realities

doubt, which

intelligible or sensi-

where there

doubt

this relation,

my

my

is

without seeing with certainty that

and every reason

I I

thought,

is

no doubt. But

—my

doubt would again

existence as thought

is

my

linked to the

is

cannot perceive that

for doubting that I

reasons for repeating

thought;

am: Cogito ergo sum. entail

my

I

If I

think

came

affirmation,

have managed to adduce

doubt about sensible things, the existence of an

new

cer-

Descartes, like his predecessors,

whether they are

existence of the self that thinks;

to

its

knowledge. Like Plato's prisoner, he

cannot turn toward a world of sense

in

doubting, Descartes would have

he considers uncertainty independently, as thought in this

is

certainty.

objects, for

its

all

there

propositions that give us the slightest

leaves

Such doubt would lead nowhere ble,

must be

there

by nature from skeptical doubt, for

persists in his

us consider as patently false

reason to doubt.

exists"

as the notions of consciousness or existence,

evil spirit

The

affirmation.

the necessary condition of

— are

certainty of

my

doubt.

but

my

Thus

Descartes arrives at an initial judgment of existence by abandoning the vain pursuit of objects

and substituting

on the very

reflection

thing that pursues them.

The it

function of the Cogito, according to Descartes,

provides the paradigm of a certain proposition, and

the

radical

distinction

certain because

my

I

everything which is

my

grounded on

I

a

and

distinctly the relation

existence. Therefore

perceive with the relation,

I

am

I

is

between

can consider as true

same evidence.

My

conviction

a deduction, a progression from one

notion to another, from the notion of existence.

twofold;

establishes

between mind and body. The Cogito

perceive clearly

thought and

is

it

my

thought

to that of

my

not searching for an identity like the one that the

ancient metaphysicists

from Parmenides

to Plotinus tried to estab-

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

69

between thought and being

lish

—an

on an attempt

identity based

to attain to the total reality of the universe within the confines

of thought.

The

total

apprehension of

reality that Plotinus

through the intuitive act of a soul co-extensive with

achieved reality

all

must not be sought in the Cogito. Descartes warns us that the Cogito is not "an illumination of the mind through which it sees

God

in a divine light the things that

means of a

direct impression

standing" (AT, V, 133);

at

it is

sees

fit

to reveal to

of divine lucidity

by

most "a proof of the capacity of

our soul to receive intuitive knowledge from God." Above

shows that the mind can have complete,

it

it

on our under-

total

all else,

knowledge of a

particular object in the absence of total certainty with respect to

the whole of reality. This

a necessary condition of the application

is

The human mind is so only a very small number

of method. distinctly

and

must be instantaneous

certainty

mind could have no certainty

after Descartes, It is

that

tion.

to

of objects at the

same time,

about anything without having

many

metaphysicists

still

believed

then certain knowledge would be impossible.

attained.

But

it

reflection

on

his

all

other certainties

does not follow that other certainties

be attained by the same path

Through

can perceive

it

in order to be effective. If the

only in this sense that the Cogito typifies

might be

ought

certainty

about everything, as

limited that

—that

is,

through

self-reflec-

thought Descartes found no existence

own God or

other than the existence of his

thought, and from this he could

not deduce the existence of

of matter.

The

Cogito has noth-

ing to do with any type of idealism that seeks progressively to define all

forms of

reality as conditions of the reflection of the self

upon

itself.

The second

function of the Cogito in the system

the distinction

upon which

—the distinction between mind and body. thinking being and uniquely as such.

know through a subtle

fire,

I

It is

the Cogito alone whether

I

know

I

still

to establish

am

do not

is

based

myself only as a

true that

I still

cannot

not also a substance,

or something entirely different; I

thinking being, but

is

the whole of Cartesian physics

know

know whether

I

myself as a

am

only a

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

70

thinking being.

my

can nevertheless be certain of

I

being as a

being that thinks, senses, and wills without knowing anything

A

about the existence of bodies. the

mechanism

"perceive

which probably implies corporeal

of these acts,

conditions of which

am

I

totally ignorant,

them immediately by

also sensing the

same thing

as

and the

ourselves," a

which makes "not only hearing,

istic

must be made between

distinction

willing,

common

which

thinking" {Principles,

Thus

relates.

it

it is

character-

and imagining but I,

9)

would

It

.

mind

be a mistake to try to define the operation of the of the object to

we

fact that

in terms

assumed that bodies are

known by sensation; but if I try to determine how I know a piece of wax which is at first fragrant, hard, and cold but later loses all these qualities on being heated, or how I know its flexibility, which is the capacity to receive an infinite number of changes of figure, I

perceive clearly that

of

its

my

I

imagination (which

of figures), but "only action of the

mind

is

that bodies are not

must is

my

on

rely neither

change from one

sensible qualities

state to

all

unable to apprehend an infinite number

on mental

inspection."

not defined by

its

\nown through

It

or object of the senses,

follows that the

object or limited by

it

and

sensation. This affirmation

of great significance. Descartes denied that there reality,

senses (since

another) nor on

and another

is

is

one corporeal

intelligible reality, or

object of the intellect or understanding, as medieval thought with all its

inherent Platonism

had conceived

not defined from without by

its

it.

The understanding

objects but

from within by

is

its

inner need for clarity and distinction.

When

theologians became acquainted with Descartes'

Arnauld was quick thing. Indeed, St.

to note that St.

Augustine used the idea "Si

from pessimism; furthermore, demonstrate that the soul

He

used

it

is

in the

spiritual

also to reveal the

tine's texts.

But

in St.

doubt comparable

De and

jailor,

trinitate

distinct

sum"

to escape

he used

from

was acquainted with

it

to

the body.

image of the divine Trinity

soul. In all probability Descartes

Cogito,

Augustine had said the same

St.

in the

Augus-

Augustine the Cogito did not terminate a

to the

methodical doubt of Descartes and did

71

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

not initiate a study like physics. If he came under

Augustine's

St.

influence, consciously or unconsciously, Descartes used his ideas as

he would use one of Euclid's theorems in a demonstration in his

Geometry.

What

matters

not a truth so simple and so readily

is

accessible as this one, but the use to

noted in

this context,

dated in

its

—the

we must

which

"explore

author." Augustine seized

and the

acquisition of certainty

failed to see in

it

was

As

put.

an idea

Pascal

accommo-

is

immediate consequences

its .

it

how

He

spirituality of the soul.

the "remarkable series of consequences" that

made

"the firm and constant principle of a whole system of physics."

it

Metaphysics:

vi

The

The

Existence of

certainty of the Cogito

thought.

At

first

is

God

limited to the existence of our

glance Descartes seems to have followed

in the path of the Skeptics

when,

to the ideas that are in us,

he defined an idea

after

reducing

it

I

conceive that

fear, I give

my

desire or fear at the

I

and

desire

fear a place

as the idea of a triangle or a tree.

things to the

is

is,

strictly

is

is

mode to

of

"the

"everything

desire or fear ("be-

same time

among my

I

desire or

ideas") as well

In this sense ideas, in their formal

equal and imply nothing other than

my

the solipsism of the Skeptic which reduces

all

or essential reality, are

thought. This

wax"

can receive." Hence an idea

conceived immediately by the mind," that cause

simple

as a

own

our knowledge

all

thought, thought being to ideas as "a piece of different figures that

3

modes

all

of being of the

self,

between an emotion and the notion of an

making no

distinction

object.

was by choosing a completely different path that Descartes emerged from doubt. Doubt is an act of the will through which It

we

retract the

judgments that we have spontaneously made con-

cerning things.

Our

act leaves unaltered the ideas

by which

we

represent these things to ourselves; our beliefs have changed but

not our notions.

Doubt

is

not intended to accustom us not to feel

or perceive or relate ideas; 3

De V esprit

it

is

intended to accustom us not to

geometrique, ed. Brunschvicg, p. 192.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

72

believe that the objects of these sensations, perceptions,

and

rela-

tions exist.

Our

from

ideas (in the language of philosophy, inherited

Plato,

"ideas" meant "forms of divine understanding" and models of

things) continue, however, to be representations or images of things.

They have an

which

"objective reality"

represented, in so far as this being

the

one hand

is

is

in the

by geometers

sion, for instance;

—the

and on the

mind. There are on

immutable natures," such

ideas that represent "true,

as those utilized

the being of the thing

idea of a triangle or of exten-

other, ideas that cannot be said to

represent either a positive nature or a privation

—ideas

like heat or

cold.

Thus we

own

ideas

find that there

—a

difference

a qualitative difference between our

is

which

"suspension" of the Skeptics.

second

and

class are so vivid

doubting, to believe they

exist.

We

Now

us, before

exam-

bases of Peripatetic physics)

from

the right to existence only to ideas of the

between the two types of

compel

these are the ideas (for

—the

that Descartes rigorously excluded

rules out the

should note that ideas of the

forceful that they

heat or of cold

ple, the idea of

and which

decisive

is

his physics; first class.

ideas, therefore,

is

he conceded

The

distinction

one of the moments

(and perhaps the main one) in the vast seesaw movement by

which Descartes was

to

after

would deal only with

very distinction

we

—until then the science —into a science which there-

transform physics

of sensible, obscure, fleeting qualities true,

also discover

immutable natures. But in

one of the great

difficulties

this

of his

system: at this point in his exposition Descartes could not justly attribute to these natures a higher value

employment and

fertility in physics,

by referring

to their future

but only by considering them

independently before he used them as the point of departure for the methodical elaboration of the system.

Descartes

knew

too obvious that

that they could be so used at the time he

meditating on metaphysics, but to

It is all

it

is

also obvious that

was

he wanted

prove the value of his principles independently of their applica-

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

73 tion.

He was

a principle

apart

probably fully aware that the explicative

was

sufficient to confer

on

"moral certainty" and

it

from any metaphysics, mechanical

type of certainty

principles

they served to explain a great

if

phenomena; but

it

fertility of

that,

would have

number

this

of natural

only by "relying on metaphysics" that one

is

can give them "something more than moral certainty" {Principles, IV,

art.

205)

from doubt,

.

That

to

is

make

why

Descartes decided, even before emerging

a distinction between true,

immutable natures

(he cited the familiar example of the objects of mathematics) and all

the disorder

senses,

all

and confusion associated with the

and

the arbitrariness

objects of the

with the

associated

irregularity

objects of the imagination.

Descartes' innatism

is

merely the formulation of

Innatism means that there are ideas which the its

own

resources

and uses

pendence and the

to initiate

interiority

of

the

this separation.

intellect

thought;

it

succession

draws from

asserts the inde-

of

methodically

connected thoughts in contrast to the arbitrary succession of the impressions of the senses and the imagination. Innatism strange doctrine that

Locke

tried to refute



not the

is

the doctrine of an

inner awareness, actual and constant, of every principle of our

knowledge. The innatism of ideas consists in the disposition and,

them;

so to speak, the vocation of the understanding for conceiving

they are innate in us just as gout and gravel are hereditary in certain families.

Like Plato's reminiscence, innatism means the independ-

ence of the intellect in

much with

its

investigations. It

is

the question of origin (obviated, as

concerned not so

we have

seen,

by

the conditions of the problem) as with the question of value.

But what are the objective reality in the

true,

immutable natures which have

mind? Thanks

to the ascesis of methodical

doubt, thanks also to mathematics and to the

muddled

their

manner

in

which the

ideas of the senses, such as the idea of heat, are eliminated,

Descartes accepted only the objects of pure understanding of a facile, even a

common

—objects

or vulgar type of knowledge, like the

knowledge of number, thought, motion, extension. Essences

are

no

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

74

longer grasped with great difficulty and always incompletely even

much

after

in Aristotelian

as

labor,

logic,

but are apprehended

immediately as points of departure. It

was the contemplation of objective God. Not

to the existence of

there

objects;

idea of an

more

is

some than

in others

angel, for instance, than in the idea of a

hard

is

ideas are equal with respect to their

perfection in

question of determining point

all

reality that led Descartes

—in

the

man. The

how ideas are comparable from this standWhat mattered to Descartes was that

resolve.

to

such a comparison necessarily implies the idea of an absolutely perfect being, the standard

The

was

"true idea"

I

am

secretly present

how would

tion began, "for

doubt and that

on which it

all

comparisons are based.

when

metaphysical medita-

be possible for

me

to

know

—that that lack something — did not have within me an

desire

I

I

is,

not wholly perfect

if I

that

and

I

that

idea of a

being more perfect than mine to serve as a basis for comparison

and reveal perfect

and

inasmuch

me

to

infinite

as

it

is

also the first

to

that

my own

nature?" Thus the idea of

not only a "very clear and very distinct idea,"

contains

it is it

the defects in

more

and the

clearest of all ideas,

conceive finite and limited beings.

I

any other, but

objective reality than

and

We

it is

in relation

cannot

say, then,

with the theologians of the second and the fourth objections, that

was fabricated by a mind

this idea

that arbitrarily

augments the

it conceives of and combines them into a fictitious being. Hence a first argument to prove the existence of God. Descartes drew support from the following enunciation of the principle of

perfections

causality:

"There

is

at least as

much

reality in a cause as in

an

Here we recognize the old Aristotelian maxim, "A potential being can become actual being only under the influence of an effect."

actual being." is

provided by

cause

is

An its

effect

can have no perfection except that which

cause; this formulation

makes

sense only

if

the

conceived as an actual being and the effect as residing in

a potential being that

comes under its influence (by itself brass cannot become a statue). Descartes applied the principle to ideas in our minds, considered as an effect: "There is at least as much

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

75

formal

reality in the cause of

the idea

The

itself."

an idea

new

idea of a

as there

is

objective reality in

mechanism could only in the mind

horological

not spring up indiscriminately but was possible

and well trained

of a talented

artisan. It follows that all

and require

in order to find out whether our ideas represent

"formal" reality different from our thought of a being outside our thought selves

have enough

ideas.

Now

it



is

to

—that

a

the existence

is,

determine whether

we

our-

reality or perfection to be the authors of these

obvious that we, imperfect beings that

is

we need

we

are,

cannot be the author of the idea of the perfect being; only the perfect being has

enough

produce

reality to

it

fore exist with the infinite perfections conceived

Descartes' proof received further confirmation line of

argument:

the author of

my

am

I

of a perfect being;

it

by

being, for

if

I

I

there-

us.

from the following

an imperfect being and

follows that

and must

in us

have the idea

I

cannot conceive of myself as

had the power

to create myself,

would have the power a fortiori to give myself all the perfections of which I conceive; for the same reason I can eliminate causes which would be less perfect than God (since they would have given I

themselves every possible perfection) and also responsible only for

my

body; therefore,

I

am

my

parents,

who

are

created by the perfect

being. His proof appears to be similar to the proof a contingentia

mundi, which begins with any kind of back to the

first

cartes begins

cause, but

with a

finite

it

is

and

finite effect

traces

it

actually quite different, since Des-

mind

possessed of the idea of the

first

cause.

Thus two

existences have been established: that of myself as a

thinking being and that of

God

outside me.

The

point worth

noting, the reason for Descartes' radical originality in spite of the alien material he

employed,

the existence of things only of

them

—for

is

this: it is possible for us to establish

when we have

a clear

and

instance, thought or the perfect being.

axiom of Aristotelianism was

that existence

This implies that

A

methodical

must be proved before

investigating essence, in order to avoid pursuing like the stag-goat.

distinct idea

we can make

mere chimeras, a judgment of

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

j6

we know

existence before

we

are affirming

the nature of the thing

whose

existence

—an attitude wholly in keeping with the common-

sense approach that forces us to accept for the very same reason

many

obscure and ill-defined notions. Against

this,

methodical doubt

rules out the existence for the

human mind

of anything that

muddled

idea. Certain

judgments of existence

object of an obscure,

made

can be

only

if

their

and

are clear

subjects

distinct

the

is

ideas.

Descartes was able to dispense with existence and posit essence

because he had a means, not accessible to Aristotle, of separating "true natures"

from the chimeras of the imagination. By conceding

existence only to objects of clear ideas,

thought flight

is

in a realm of

its

own and

we

arrive at a reality

can engage in

its

without fear of being submerged by an ocean of alien

inaccessible to the

realities

mind.

Descartes' intention effected his intention

that hyperbolic

where

methodical

is



manifested in the means by which he

proof of the existence of God.

doubt revealed the

evil spirit as a

We

recall

being capable of

introducing error even into clear and distinct thought, with the result

that

thought was never master of

demonstration of the existence of

God

own domain. But

its

destroys

the strength of

such doubt. Knowledge of that true nature represented by the idea of a perfect being

shows us that the

our imagination, for an omnipotent being has tions at the

cannot be deceived about things that

clearly

and

all

distinctly. If

is

a chimera of

the other perfec-

same time and could not be malicious or

existence of this benevolent being, therefore,

we

was

evil spirit

deceptive.

The

our guarantee that

we have once

perceived

"an atheist cannot be a geometer"

it is

be-

we make mistakes the our will. Our understand-

cause he lacks this guarantee of certainty. If fault lies not in

ing

and to

is

finite

our understanding but in

—that

distinct ideas.

is,

it

Our

has obscure, confused ideas alongside clear will

is

finite— that

is,

we have

full

freedom

adhere or not to adhere to the conjunctions of ideas presented to

us by our understanding.

Judgment

is

not knowledge of a relation

but rather assent through an act of the will.

We

are free to act in

:

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

77

such a manner that only the light of our understanding will determine the consent of our will; methodical doubt proves this precept and is merely its application.

This marks a veritable turning point in philosophical thought.

That

truth perceived through

human

understanding had

foun-

its

Thomism

dation in divine understanding was a familiar precept of

"Uncreated truth and divine understanding are neither measured

nor produced, but they measure and produce a double truth, one

and the other

in things

notions are exist in

still

in the soul."

images of the

how

matter

is

Descartes,

become

intellectual

it is

a reflection

toward

therefore turned naturally

and our true vocation

reflection will

blurred, our

intelligible reasons of things as they

God; our knowledge, authenticated because

of divine understanding, origin,

No

in the eternal

is

life

which

in

its

this

a direct vision. Against this, according to

knowledge

is

participation in divine understanding,

not in

and

it is

the

least

degree a

well for us to recall

here that in his thinking the essences which are the object of

human

understanding are creatures of God. In consequence

God

is

the guarantee of our knowledge, not through an attribute relating to his

understanding but through attributes relating to his creative

power, omnipotence, and goodness. standing life.

is

The

vocation of

human

under-

not to consummate the vision of essences in the eternal

Clear and distinct knowledge, which was the object or goal

when

these essences

were viewed

in divine understanding, in search of

its

as reflections of those that existed

became a point of departure

combinations and

effects.

for the

mind

Descartes looked forward

toward the methodical analysis of things rather than backward their transcendent origin.

The

natural destiny of

standing had no supernatural destiny as

its

clarity of

elect

did not in

human knowledge, which

proceeds not from obscurity to clarity but from clarity to Descartes,

who

established a close relation

God, and even went

under-

complement, and the

thought of the dazzling vision promised to the

any way obscure the perfect

human

at

so far as to say that

clarity.

between knowledge and

an

atheist could not

be

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

jS

same time

a geometer, at the

radically separated

any theological design by putting understanding, which has

But was Descartes

A

doubt?

this point.

justified in

relying

human

wholly on the plane of

God.

a certainty authenticated by

using this means to emerge from

number of his contemporaries took issue with him on They discovered that he had been caught in a vicious

God

for the existence of

circle,

it

knowledge from

on the evidence of

clear

could be demonstrated only by

and

distinct ideas, yet such evidence

depended on prior demonstration of

his existence. Descartes

an-

swered the objection by saying that there are two types of certainty, the certainty of axioms,

which are grasped

directly

and which are

not subject to doubt, and the certainty of acquired knowledge,

which ing.

consists of conclusions that

depend on a long chain of reason-

As we proceed we are able to grasp successively each of the make up the links in the chain and to see its relato the preceding link. Having reached the conclusion, how-

propositions that tion ever,

we

we

recall that

clearly perceived the first propositions

though we can no longer perceive them now. In thentication

is

useless in the case of

even

short, divine au-

axioms and necessary only for

acquired knowledge. Descartes' reply

the existence of

is

somewhat perplexing.

itself

God depends on

a rather long

First, if

proof of

and complicated

chain of reasoning, the vicious circle persists. Furthermore, Descartes

seems to have extended doubt far beyond the

When

in his reply.

results

assumed

he said that the simplest operations, such

as

counting the sides of a square, were subject to doubt, he was certainly not limiting

doubt

to the conclusions

of reasoning. Finally, even

Descartes

God

still

fallible,

ceived an obvious

memory depends As

memory,

clear,

two

solely

when

on our is

there

drawn from

difficulties it is

for nothing

from leading us truth

far as the first point

found a

these

could not have meant, as

authenticates

from being

if

a chain

were removed,

sometimes

stated, that

would prevent memory

to believe that

we had

was none; the

per-

fidelity

of

attention.

concerned, Descartes thought he had

axiomatic proof of the existence of God: the one

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

79

customarily called the ontological proof, expounded for the

time in the Discourse and for the

God

the existence of

property of a triangle

we

perfection,

deduced from the definition of

is

Once we understand

God

that

God

see that

perfection. Existence

time in the Meditations;

last

deduced from the notion of God,

is

just as a

this figure.

the being possessed of every

is

possesses existence since existence

a perfection:

is

But God

have of him

as

an

to say that there

he a

To

therefore not absolutely perfect,

is

this

power.

viewpoint

power

God

that produces

Descartes referred

ground of

the

is

its

own

when he

we

say that he does not exist

him some power which

in

which his

existence.

contradictory.

is

This

is

is

not realized, that

is

own

a

upon

through the idea that

reveals himself to us

infinite

is

is

power

implies a positive

it

in the thing that exists or in whatever has conferred existence this thing.

first

From

being {causa sui), the proof to

said he did not believe "that the

which

human

mind could know anything with greater evidence and certainty." Thus the first difficulty vanishes if proof of the existence of God acquires the certainty of an axiom.

But the second to

remains, since hyperbolic doubt seems

difficulty

extend even to axioms. Here

it

is

necessary for us to note one

distinction that Descartes clearly established in his reply to Regius,

who had

objected that divine authentication

axioms of reply

clearly

truth

and

clear

(May

22, 1640)

understood?

self-evident "I agree

:

it

clearly.

with the nature of God, however,

if it

is

It

God

follows that

in

his

long as they are

this too, so

So long

we

as

we

are unfamiliar

cannot conclude that the

will appear to us again with equal clearness even

an axiom.

tability of

stated

for

therefore not possible for us to doubt a

It is

whenever we perceive

same proposition

Descartes

truth.

with

was not necessary

is

What

guarantees the goodness and the

immu-

the constancy of positive proof throughout time.

we need

only recall having clearly perceived a

proposition (provided of course that our

order to be sure that

it

is

memory

true. Certainty derives

is

faithful)

from an

in

instan-

taneous vision, and successive instants are in themselves independent of each other.

We

therefore could not conclude that one

mo-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

80

ment's truth will endure until the next

have divine immutability instants.

together

link

to

moment

we

if

did not

host of successive

a

4

Metaphysics: Soul and Body

vii

Descartes had a good reason for stressing the necessity of raising

doubts "on even the slightest metaphysical pretext": at stake was

which was a web

the certainty of his physics,

contemporaries.

and

distinct

things

and

and the

The

was

human

ideas of

which they are composed;

him was

criticism constantly leveled against

make

not have the right to

new

man

that

thought, as Gassendi phrased

rule of the truth of things."

clear

this:

understanding are the measure of

indicate to us the natures of

adversaries as a

of paradoxes to his

result of Descartes' theology

Thus

"the

it,

Descartes was depicted by his

who

Protagoras

did

did not draw support from

anything solid or lasting.

He

answered Gassendi confidently: "Yes, the thought of any

individual of

its

is,

—must be the standard

his perception of a thing

truth; in other words, to be sound, all his

conform I

—that

can have a clear and distinct idea of myself as a thinking being

and can conceive notion of

this

my body. my soul

to say that

my

judgments must

to his perception."

thinking being without introducing any

According is

to the rule, then, I

have the right

body. But Arnauld raised an objection: because

acquire

some knowledge

about

my

when

I

body, can

I

of

be certain that

I

am

is

*Cf. Jean Wahl, (Paris, 1920).

no reason Du

role

nothing to

am

do

so.

de Videe de

to

making

not

certain, for to attribute materiality to the soul

attribute that contributes

I

able to

myself without knowing anything

exclude the body from the essence of

quently there

from

a thinking substance wholly distinct

my is

I'instant

I

to confer

our knowledge of

The

a mistake

soul?

can be

on

it;

it

spirituality of the soul dans

la philosophic

an

conse-

and

de Descartes



DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

8l

the distinction between soul

from

are derived

A

body, in turn,

stance only that

and

and body then are

rational truths

is

distinct

which by

distinct idea apart

from a

itself

soul

and contains

from any other

its

sub-

idea: for instance, three-

as existing independently,

it

in

can constitute the object of a clear

dimensional extension, the object of geometers. Since to conceive

and

their notions.

I

am

able

must be the material

it

substance that physicists have long sought. Obviously, therefore, I

should

make

it

a rule to attribute to

only those properties that

it

imply extension, and to refuse to attribute ness, lightness, heat, cold

and

indistinct notion,

—of

to

it

—heavi-

any quality

which the mind has but a confused

and which does not seem

mode

to us to be a

of extension.

Regius objected, of course, that stance only as thinking substance

we

can conceive thinking sub-

and

are

under no compulsion

whatsoever to attribute extension to the same substance, but that

nothing prevents us from doing so "since these attributes

and extension cartes could



—thought

are not contradictory but merely different." Des-

answer the objection (which Spinoza seems

adumbrated in

to

have

only by showing that thought and

his doctrine)

extension are both essential attributes and that a substance can have

but one such attribute. "If attributes that constitute the natures of things are different

and the notion of one

in the other,

we

would mean

that the

But

how

thing?

cannot say that they

same

fit

attribute

the

subject could have

is

not contained

same

subject, since this

two

different natures."

can an attribute be said to constitute the nature of a

The

explanation

is

that the attribute

that includes" everything that here, for instance, that the

might be

body

is

is

"the

common

reason

said about a substance

susceptible to figure

and

to

motion.

There

Of

is

in the dualism of Descartes something completely

new.

course Peripateticism recognized thought apart from the body,

and the corpuscular physics of Democritus advanced mechanical explanations in which

mind played no

part.

In the

first

place,

82

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

however, the word "thought" did not

and

Aristotle

to Descartes.

"By the word

that occurs within us in such a

by ourselves; that but also sensing

why

is

the

is

the thinking intellect

way

that

mean

we

same thing

the

'think,' I

mean

perceive

to

everything

immediately

it

not only hearing, willing, and imagining

same thing here

as thinking." In Aristotle

was separated from the

active or sensitive

which the body was indispensable. But methodical

functions for

doubt proved that the act of sensing or willing in no way implied the existence of the body. Therefore spiritual

and

rational in all

its

it

is

mind

the whole

that

functions, to the degree that "it

is

must

always think."

As

for Democritus, he

was not

merely to refrain from

satisfied

introducing a spiritual soul into his explanation of things; in his theory of mechanics he denied outright the existence of this soul.

Democritus and Epicurus rejected because of Descartes excluded because of his method.

We

should add that the

point of departure for Descartes' corpuscular physics ideas of

from the body, and

that

thinking substance

God

exists,

which

is

extension.

The

exists, that it is distinct

we do not know whether we are familiar with their

but

bodies exist outside us even though

it is

existence of a

body

not evident;

is

not contained in our idea of the body, and this idea

perfect that

it

is

not so

could not have been produced by us. There remains

our strong natural inclination to believe in

doubt showed that our inclination did not

its

existence although

no longer the same

after

and could

entail assent

be offset by equally compelling, opposing reasons. is

was not obscure

atoms and the void but the clear idea of extension.

We are certain that the

essence,

system what

their

we know God. This

Still,

the situation

perfect being could

not have wished for our natural inclination to mislead us, and his

goodness therefore

is

one more guarantee for

tesian proof of the existence of bodies. It

inasmuch

as

it

is

us.

Such

is

the Car-

rather disconcerting

attributes to nature, to propensity, to inclination, a

property that would seem to belong only to clear and distinct ideas.

To

appreciate

its

significance

we must remember

within us a faculty— imagination

—whose

existence

that is

we have

not in any



83

way

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM necessary to the thinking being as such. Distinct

standing,

it

perceives

its

particular mental contention" that

is

we

easily

as

example, the

certainty, for

each figure; but our image of the

through "a

of no use in intellection.

can apprehend intellectually a myriagon

and know with

from under-

objects as being present only

first is

sum

as

We

pentagon

a

of the angles of

quite indistinct, whereas

can easily imagine the second. Universal mathematics served

by and large

mathematical thought and the imag-

to disentangle

Thus

ining of figures.

the imagination always appears as something

essentially alien to the

mind,

an intrusive, obfuscating element

as

that can be explained only through a force outside the

sequently,

no matter how paradoxical

the existence of external things

us of confused clear

and

of these

viii

If

and

is

may

mind. Con-

seem, affirmation of

grounded on the presence within nothing

indistinct ideas that contribute

distinct idea of extension

same

it

which

constitutes the essence

things.

Physics

we wished

to

examine Descartes' physics from the standpoint

of his positive contribution to the history of this science,

need

to the

to

separate

from metaphysics,

in

we would

which he chose

them, a number of discoveries that do not belong there discoveries

made

before 1627,

when he was The law of

for his physics in metaphysics.

bodies that he expounded to

Beeckman

to

place

—that

is,

trying to find support the velocity of falling

as early as 1619

is

a

mathe-

matical investigation that assumes the law of inertia (the conservation of acquired

motion in a moving object) and has nothing

with the cause of gravity which he explained early as 1626 he

to

at a later date.

had discovered the law of the equality of the

of the angle of incidence

and the

do

As sine

sine of the angle of refraction

the starting point of formulas for the fabrication of lenses

—through

an experiment which he described quite independently of the pre-

sumed demonstration

that he offered later (1637)

In October, 1637, he wrote for

*

n tne Dioptric.

Huyghens an "explanation

of en-

84

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

gines that will enable the operator, lift

a heavy burden." This short effect of a force

he defined the

displacement that

it

by applying a small

treatise

force, to

on machines, in which

(action or

work)

by the

solely

produced in a unit of mass and without

taking into account the speed of

its

motion, introduced general

notions which he never employed in his physics.

Such investigations led

to

the discovery of natural laws that

could be expressed mathematically, like those of Kepler and Galileo;

based solely on experience and mathematical techniques (in 1619 Descartes used the

method

of indivisibles devised by the physicist

Cavalieri to express the law of falling bodies), they implied no

hypothesis concerning the constitution of matter. This orientation

toward mathematical expression of the laws of nature disappeared in the definitive version of Descartes' physics; in the last

we

of the Principles

find

no mathematical formulas

two books

but, instead,

a description of mechanical combinations capable of producing the effects

observed through experience. Descartes was apparently con-

vinced that the prodigious complexity of causes prevented

from arriving for

at effects that

he did not pursue

his investigations of the

and he challenged the oscillations of the

him

could be expressed in simple formulas,

validity of the

pendulum. The

law of

falling bodies,

law of the isochronism of

result

was a strange anomaly:

Descartes, the inventor of analytical geometry,

which

later

became

the indispensable instrument of physicists, found not the slightest

use for

One

it

in his physics.

admirably elucidated by Pierre Boutroux, 5

contrast,

who

noting. Kepler,

vision of the universe,

is

worth

introduced aesthetic considerations into his

and

Galileo,

whose conception of the

prin-

remained vague, discovered exact laws that make

ciple of inertia

possible a rigid prediction of

phenomena; Descartes, whose

chief

concern was the exactness and precision of principles such as those

expounded finally

in

the second

managed

book of

his

to describe (in the third

Principles of Philosophy,

and fourth books) mech-

anisms which would provide a rough explanation of things but 5

Revue de Metaphysique (November, 1921).

.

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

85

would make

possible

We

no prediction.

now

turn our attention to

those principles.

The

essence of matter

and

infinitely small

extension. It follows that matter

is

infinitely large

(that

the indivisible atoms of Democritus totle),

and

that

it

is

one (that

between the matter of

A

ments).

body can

When

body

differ

is

is

presumed

The

is

be at

to

reject

any distinction

first is

its

shape and position.

and the

rest

position of a

never the same at different

means

that

two bodies cannot be

properties of bodies

known

to us

all

by experience

which have prescribed shapes and

which are animated by

certain motions

—a

the effects and

to a

combination

by man. Descartes

modeled the intimate constitution of natural bodies on artifice

"The example

me

tween the machines constructed by

artisans

human

no difference be-

and the

different bodies

alone, except that the effects of

pend only on the arrangement of

such

in this matter," he said, speaking

of his mechanical explanations; "for I recognize

composed by nature

just

of several bodies constructed by

has been of great use to

and

relative positions

combination similar to

that observable in mechanical artifices invented

artifices.

in

place.

physical problem consisted in reducing

of bodies

ele-

said to be in motion. Moreover, each

impenetrable, and this

same

both

world of Aris-

but a limited portion of extension, and one

moments, the second body the

reject

finite

and the matter of the

from another only through

one body

is

we must

celestial things

second body in relation to the

body

is,

we must

is,

and the

is

machines de-

certain tubes or springs or other

instruments which, since they must be proportionate to the hands of their makers, are always so big that their shapes

and movements

can be seen, whereas the tubes or springs that cause the

effects of

natural bodies are ordinarily too small to be perceived by our senses.

And we

can be certain that

all

metaphysics, with the result that

the rules of mechanics pertain to all artificial

things are also natural"

{Principles, IV, 203)

known to allowed man

Mechanics was processes that

the ancients only as the totality of the to

produce "violent" motions

—for

ex-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

86

ample, to

lift

existed only

weights by means of a lever or a windlass; thus

human

on the

scale.

it

In contrast, physics was the study

of "natural" motions, such as falling

—that

is,

a spontaneous motion

which in the absence of any obstacle directs a spontaneous motion toward

its

natural place, the center of the world. In an infinite

world, however, there was no longer a center, no longer a natural place,

and consequently no longer

means

a

of separating natural

motions from violent motions. By the same token there was an obvious necessity for a law of inertia; by of changing

remain

move

its

state of rest or of if

state is

changed by

collision

visible

scale

visible scale

incapable

it

will continue to

and uniform motion unless

with an external body. Impact

state,

and

this cause

Mechanical structure, therefore,

size of the scale,

is

If it is at rest, it will

motion

in

indefinitely with a rectilinear

only cause of a change of ical.

and

at rest indefinitely,

body

a

itself

motion.

is

is

its

the

eminently mechan-

wholly independent of the

is

and we must picture

to ourselves

it

by analogy with mechanisms known

on the

to

in-

us on the

through experience.

This analogy was responsible in the eyes of Descartes' contemporaries for the real difficulty of his physics. "In nature,"

wrote to him, "can be found

magnet.

as those relating to the

about

celestial influences,

different,

they

for they act in a

anything other than

many

God

effects that

And

if

told

I

Morin

have no equal, such

you what

I

know

would again be something wholly

manner

himself"

that defies

(AT,

II,

comparison with

411). Descartes

was

when he wrote in his who were convinced that for each new effect for a new species of beings unknown to them

thinking of physicists with just such views

Rules (1628) of those they "must search previously."

Descartes' mechanics

is

one of impact, impact being the only

action capable of modifying the state of a body. It

must be added

that the colliding action

it

state of the

body that

is

is

instantaneous, that

is,

modifies the

struck at the very instant the impact occurs.

Descartes' physics recognizes only instantaneous actions. as

And

just

methodical doubt eliminated any type of certainty other than

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

87

immediate perception,

of

that

which would require duration

The

action.

action of light

the luminous

body

in order to unfold the effects of

transmitted from

an impulse

is

transmitted from

stick to the other.

makes

rience of the senses

The

point

is

so important to

(AT,

the extreme statement

showed any delay

was not demonstrated by Roemer

would

How

and the

light

(The

at all."

308) that the expe-

velocity of light

The

until 1675.)

I,

if

slightest delay

imply a discontinuity and a void in the interval

in effect

between

its

is

"whole philosophy would be radically destroyed

his

any force

instantaneous and

to the eye just as

one end of a rigid Descartes that he

is

eliminates

physics

his

eye.

are such instants, each powerless to prolong itself in another,

linked together ?

By

a

law of permanence based on the immutability

and constancy of God, a law

that corresponds in physics to the

divine attribute of perfect veracity in the theory of knowledge. the

It is

At every

famous law of the quantitative conservation of motion.

to the universe at the initial instant

motion of a body

of

motion imparted by God

instant in time the quantity of

is

remains identical; the quantity

the product of

its

mass (calculated accord-

ing to the geometric dimensions of the body) and state of the universe at a particular instant

to the state of the universe at just

The

only remaining modifications

are

themselves instantaneous, due to impact.

after

motion

how If

is

Thus

all diffi-

modifications

The

that

as

before

impact.

are

seven laws of impact

They show how

the

is

the

quantity of

divided between two bodies following their collision and

their direction changes.

two bodies (assumed

and moving the

therefore equivalent

instant.

dominated by the principle that the quantity of motion

same

The

inherent in change are eliminated.

culties

are

is

any other

velocity.

its

at the

same speed and

to

be completely impenetrable) are equal

same speed, each rebounds

after

in the opposite direction. If

one of the bodies

impact with

and both have the same velocity, the larger body continues in the same direction and at the same velocity while the smaller

is

larger

one maintains the same velocity and moves in the opposite direc-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

88

tion. If

both are equal, and one of them

moving more

is

rapidly

than the other, the slower object rebounds while the faster one maintains

its

direction; furthermore, both

the faster imparting half of

body

is

it

at rest, the smaller

is

same conditions the smaller one

move

in the

the smaller one, to

which

the larger one continues to

along with

velocity,

one

body

re-

motion while the larger one remains

its

motionless. If under the

motion.

and

larger than the other

bounds and maintains

assume the same

excess velocity to the slower. If

its

they are equal and one

same

is

at rest,

direction, carrying

transfers a part of

it

while the other

its

is

in

motion, the body in motion rebounds but loses one-fourth of

its

If

motion, which in the

the

same

imparts to the other body.

it

direction

moment

and one

of impact

two

motion of the slower body the faster

it

is

moving

possibilities

a part of

body its

If

both bodies are going

faster arise:

than the other, at

carries the slower

its

motion; in the opposite

one along with

are based

sideration

are

imparting

it,

motion.

These "laws of nature," though inexact, apply

They

the quantity of

if

greater than that of the faster one,

is

body rebounds but maintains

case, the faster

to

at rest

is

on the assumption absolutely

that the

impenetrable,

a

an ideal

case.

two bodies under con-

is

Descartes

that

fiction

admittedly accepted only "in order that things

mathematical examination." Another fiction

to

may

fall

under

that such bodies are

not subject to any influence emanating from adjacent bodies, for this is

tion

impossible in the plenum.

Whereas Newton's law

of attrac-

(which was considered the paradigm of a natural law in the

eighteenth century) issued from experience and led to the predic-

and discovery of phenomena, the laws of impact were derived from reason and could not be used deductively. No human under-

tion

standing can predict every impact to which adjacent bodies will subject a particular

body

at a

given instant

speed and direction at the next instant. Just as

or,

consequently,

human

artifice

its

cannot

reproduce natural mechanisms because of their complexity, so "one can indeed make a machine that will remain in the air like a bird,

metaphysice loquendo (for as

I

see

it

even birds are such machines)

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

09

but not physice or moraliter loquendo, for this would necessitate

such delicate and at the same time such strong springs that they could not be fabricated by a say that everything

explain

all

man" (AT,

III,

163). Similarly,

we can

we

cannot

accomplished through collision but

is

the details.

Descartes' conception of the nature of matter involves the necessity of vortexes.

In the

a vortical motion;

body pursuing

it,

plenum

the only possible motion

when one body

the second body

relinquishes

its

must take the

have

to

in effect

place to the

place of another

body, the latter of a third body, and so on until the will immediately

is

body, which

last

occupy the place vacated by the

body.

first

Descartes compared the circular motion of one of the bodies that

make up the move at each

vortex to that of a stone in a sling: the stone instant in a straight line at a tangent to

its

would

trajectory

not held back by a strap; similarly, the body in a vortex must

if

constantly be pressed toward rectilinear

its

Our has if

solar system,

at a

with

its

axis

by adjacent bodies that oppose

tangent to its

trajectory.

its

planets, issues

axis in the sun. Descartes described

its

we

motion

from

its

a vortex

which way:

genesis in this

suppose that the matter of the vortex was formed at the

outset by almost equal bodies, then

it is

necessary for these

moving

bodies constantly to find something to oppose their motion, with the result that their angles are rounded off

The

scrapings of these spheres engenders a fine matter or

ment capable through all

its

tenuousness and agitation of

the interstices between the spheres

sible shape.

As

and they become

it

slips

The

spheres. first ele-

filling

and of assuming every

that

we

its

pos-

spheres themselves constitute the second element.

through the spheres of the second element, fine matter

tends always to escape from the center of the vortex and to

toward

up

periphery. Light

feel

when

possible, the first

it

is

merely the force of the fine matter

presses against our eyes. Since

element that escapes from

replaced by other corpuscles of the

then produces of the heavens.

light,

move

first

its

axis

element.

is

The

no void

is

immediately first

element

and the second element produces the matter

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

90

The

particles of the first element, set in the interstices of the

spheres of the second, are shaped like a curvilinear triangle with concavities or flutings. If these particles are halted in their motion, their flutings will

we

as is

mesh, gradually forming a rough, crusty matter,

and

see in sunspots

the third element,

in solid planets such as the earth: this

made up

of multiform particles,

some

of

them

forked, others long, others almost round. In short, they exhibit as

many

differences

among

play the same role;

themselves as Democritus' atoms, and they

was through the conjunction of

it

particles

with

determinate shapes that Descartes explained the diverse bodies seen

on the

earth.

solid matter

With

with

wishes, Descartes terrestrial

its

his subtle matter, his liquid heavens,

parts to

hoped

phenomena:

to

and

his

which he can give whatever shape he construct

heaviness,

mechanisms heat,

light,

composition of bodies, magnetism.

We

shall

to

explain

all

the chemical

tides,

not attempt to follow

his detailed explanations.

We

must

try to grasp the spirit of

The most

"fiction of the vortexes."

what

his adversaries called the

notable point

to explain the present state of the universe,

of affairs

that, in

order state

(the division of matter into corpuscles of equal size)

which he chose matters

"It

is

he began with a

as arbitrarily as

he

little,"

said,

geometers choose their hypotheses.

"how

I

reach the assumption that

matter was arranged in the beginning, for

it is

scarcely possible for

us to imagine an arrangement that did not change continuously, as

we

can prove according to these laws, in such a manner that

would

finally constitute

a world quite like this one, since these

laws cause matter successively to assume III,

In

art.

it

all

shapes" {Principles,

45).

this

way

Descartes freed physics

Hellenic cosmos, that state of things

is,

from the obsession

from the image of a

that satisfies our aesthetic needs

duced and maintained only through the action of

gence—an

obsession

from which even

Galileo were not exempt.

There

is

of the

certain privileged

and can be proa

supreme

physicists like

no such thing

intelli-

Kepler and

as a privileged

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

91

state since all states are equivalent;

nor

there a place in physics

is

for the investigation of final causes or for the consideration of the best possible state.

"Even

we

if

we

posited the chaos of the poets,

could always demonstrate that through them [the laws of nature] this

confusion must gradually return to the order that

now

exists

in the world."

The

physicist could divest himself of the stable concept of the

cosmos only by imagining a theory which was too capacious for experience and which went beyond the explication of what

For

instance,

effects

from

principles

we

can deduce an infinite

wholly different from those actually realized, just

is

given.

number as a

of

watch-

maker, using the same methods, can contrive movements quite

from those

distinct

actually imagined.

But the absence of conformity

is

precisely

what makes experience

indispensable in the Cartesian system of physics. state a priori that the universe is

We

can indeed

composed of a unique,

divisible

matter animated by circular movements, and that motion served.

"But we were unable in the same way

size of the parts into

which

which they move, or the

this

matter

circles that

is

to

is

divided, or the speed at

they describe; for since

might have ordained these things in countless ways,

it

is

God

through

experience alone and not through the power of reason that

we

know which of these ways he has chosen" {Principles, III, The physicist with his principles therefore would not have slightest

pre-

determine the

can 46).

the

chance of falling upon the combination actually realized

(since there are

innumerable similar combinations), and he must

"anticipate causes through effects."

In each instance experience indicates the particular problem that principles are supposed to provide the

can be no cosmology unless exactly

what we

we have

means

for resolving.

There

begin, like astrologers, by describing

see in the heavens;

no theory of the magnet before

enunciated in detail the properties discovered by such

experimenters as Gilbert. in

we

hand with

From

this point of

view theory goes hand

experience, as Descartes clearly stated in his Rules:

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

92

"The

answer the question, 'What

physicist cannot

but only the question, 'What

is

the

experiments conducted by Gilbert ?

Thus

magnet

is

the magnet?'

in the light of the

" '

important for experiments to be as numerous and as

it is

precise as possible. Descartes liked always to join experience with

He

reasoning.

mathematics



began, as

we have

with problems of applied

seen,

He

music, barology, dioptrics.

held Bacon in high

esteem and concluded that there was "nothing more to be said"

he had given the rules for carrying out useful experiments.

after

"A

phenomena following

history of celestial

method

the

of Veru-

lamius," he wrote in 1632, "without the introduction of reason or hypotheses, first

seem

would be more

to be,

and

useful to the public than

would

it

me

relieve

of

much

Descartes always promoted experimentation;

at

it

might

difficulty."

at

Thus

the end of the

Discourse he asks rulers to subsidize the vast expenditures required for experiments necessary for the

he retired

to

Egmond,

advancement of the

sciences. After

Descartes himself was deeply interested in

anatomical research and practiced dissections. In short, he was a rationalist

who

never disavowed the contempt manifested in the

Rules for astronomers

who

studied the nature of the heavens with-

out having observed their motions,

from

physics,

who

studied mechanics apart

and who neglected experiment, thinking that they

could extract truth from their brains.

But here a distinction must be made. There

is

a world of differ-

ence between precise experiments involving measurement and

cal-

—long practiced by astronomers and exemplified by Galileo Pascal— and experiences which simply recount the immediate

culation

and

perceptions of the senses

Those of the specific

first

and which

are exact only qualitatively.

type suggest numerical laws concerning the

phenomenon under study and provide

that can be confirmed or invalidated

by

new

a basis for predictions

experiments. Those of

the second type, since they are descriptive, can lead only to theories

which are themselves ically,

and which

descriptive,

which are not

in consequence provide

no

stated

mathemat-

basis for prediction.

Only experiments of the second type were used by Descartes

in his

93

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM His descriptions of the heavens,

physics, at least in the Principles. tides,

and the magnet contain no

precise mathematical data.

imagined in order

over, the mechanical structures that he

phenomena

diverse

for

relations to provide a

explain tides through lunar pressure did not allow

That was not

had the same deep-rooted causes

interest in the investigation of laws

ematically.

Such experiments were

simplicity of mathematical laws causes,

him

to indicate

phenomenon.

aim. His disdain for experiments involving

his

exact measurements

is

as his lack of

which could be expressed mathuseless in a

world

like his; the

possible only in a universe in

such as gravity and universal gravitation, act in

numbers and always

limited

to explain

mathematical deduction. For instance, his attempt to

the exact nature of the

which

More-

are simply "rough" descriptions, as Pascal said,

and do not give detailed dimensions and basis

6

in the

same manner; experience

in-

volving measurement, laws expressed mathematically, and physics of central forces go together.

The mechanism any attempt

infinite complication, jeopardizes

of impact, with to

its

reduce nature to

mathematical form.

Whenever Descartes ciples,

ceased to be the theoretician of the Prin-

however, he adhered to the tradition that led by way of

Roberval, Pascal, and

Huyghens

to

Newton—he used mathematics

to determine certain effects numerically

check the

to

For

results.

instance,

in

and

called

his

correspondence with

on experience

Mersenne and Cavendish concerning the discovery of

a

simple

pendulum isochronous with

a compound pendulum, even after he had determined mathematically the length of a simple pendulum

(by using methods of integration that transcended the limits he had prescribed in the Geometry), he objections arising

showed

Or, rather,

if

felt

constrained to answer to

Cavendish,

were inaccurate. Furthermore, he

that his results

that such experiments 6

still

from experiences which, according must be

subject to

specified

precise measurements and

they are precise they are inexact; for instance, he assumed that

astronomical distances were

cosmogonies modernes

much

(Paris,

less

than they actually

1924), p. 20 (note).

are.

Cf.

P.

Busco, Lcs

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

94

gave the following

rule,

which

menter: "I

that

in

believe

greatest skill

is

actually that of a true experi-

of

experiences

the

required for choosing those which are least depend-

ent on diverse causes true causes"

is

the examination

and which have the most

easily discovered

(AT, IV, 392) The rule is apt but strictly inapplicable where everything depends on innumerable .

to a universe like his,

causes.

The

This was not

cartes.

overshadowed the theoretician in Des-

scientist constantly

true,

however, in the works intended for the role

that

we have

the World, written between 1629

and

1632, con-

Here experience always retained the

public.

indicated.

Physiology

ix

The

treatise

On

cluded with some chapters on man, a sample of which appears in the fifth part of the Discourse, in his discussion of the motions

human

of the heart. In 1648 Descartes wrote a description of the

body (published by of the Foetus.

Clerselier in 1664) entitled

Here Descartes expanded

On

the Formation

mechanics

his

to

make

it

include the functions of the body, "the digestion of food, the beat-

ing of the pulse, the distribution of the five senses" (AT, XI, 221). "I

am now

anatomizing the heads of different animals," he wrote

to

Mersenne, "in order to explain imagination and memory" (AT,

I,

263).

That the bodies

machines or automatons

Greek philosophy, even vestiges

machine body do.

is

We

structed

and men are comparable

of animals is

a notion

in Plato

which

and

found frequently in

is

Aristotle,

and which

left its

throughout the Middle Ages. Yet the idea that the body is

to

is

a

—to the idea that the

linked traditionally to another idea

an instrument for a soul that uses find nothing like this in Descartes,

and made

to function in

as a

mechanic would

whose machine

is

con-

accordance with the universal

laws of nature, with the result that there

same image,

it

for a particular mechanic.

is

Hence

no need,

to use the

the possibility of the

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

95

famous theory of animal-machines, which eliminates any governing

made

soul in the aniaml. This theory,

possible by the universal

mechanism, derived from something more than

from the body: by with-

the soul as a thinking substance distinct

drawing any

his conception of

animal function from the soul and making

vital,

pure thought, capable of

self-reflection,

it

Descartes in effect elimi-

nated every motive for attributing souls to animals. Descartes' physiology rests entirely that

Harvey had

tive juices are

made

just

on the experimental discovery

of the circulation of the blood. Nutri-

converted into blood in the liver and carried to the

right auricle of the heart through the vena cava, then to the lungs

through the pulmonary vein, then to the

pulmonary all its

tory

and

artery,

branches. But

movement

through the

Descartes agreed with Harvey on the circula-

if

of the blood, he differed completely with

the cause of circulation. peller which,

left auricle

throughout the body by the aorta and

finally

Harvey looked upon the heart

by contracting, drove blood into the

and

of the heart (systolic

clinging

Descartes,

the

and

movement

caused the circulation of the

diastolic) to

as a pro-

arteries,

which, by expanding, drew blood from the veins; the blood.

him on

ancient

concept,

Aristotelian

looked upon the heart as a source of heat capable of dilating the

blood that entered

its

the blood,

cavities;

when

dilated the cavity of the heart that enclosed outlet

through the pulmonary vein when

and through the aorta when

movement

of the heart

was

it

it

it,

was

dilated, in turn

until

it

found an

in the right cavity,

in the left cavity; thus the

was no longer the cause of the

circulation of

the blood but the result, passively sustained, of the dilation of the

blood produced by

and contrary

its

heat.

Thus

Descartes, in opposition to

to the facts, reversed the true order of the

the heart, for he

assumed that

it

dilated in the systole

Harvey

motions of

(when

the

and that it contracted in the (when blood came in through the vena cava). His mistake was not accidental but was tied in with his whole

blood escaped through the aorta) diastole

physiological system. After criticizing Harvey, Descartes goes so

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

96

far as to say: "It

the true cause of

knowledge we can know

medicine" (AT, XI, 245). His

to the theory of

nothing relating mistake was, in

know

very important for us to

is

the motion of the heart, for without this

responsible for the revival of the traditional

effect,

theory of animal spirits and for the establishment of a link be-

tween

all

of the functions

known

today as relational functions and

the circulation of the blood. For "the most agitated

and

active parts

come

of the blood are carried to the brain through the arteries that

by the straightest

wind

subtle air or

prepare

it

common

—that

spirits

is,

they prepare

and

also impres-

organ or seat

same

this

air or

flow from the brain through the nerves into

member" (AT, XI, "which

heart's heat,

to be the

it

a very

by dilating the brain,

and memory. Then to serve as

and by distending the muscles

to every

and they make up

spirits; these,

and prepare the nerves

the muscles senses;

animal

sense, imagination,

same

these

called

heart,

to receive impressions of external objects

sions of the soul

of

from the

line

is

227)

.

variously, they impart

motion

All of these effects depend on the

main spring and

like the

all

organs of the external

the cause of

all

the

motions" of the body.

According canals

and

to Descartes, the

cavities

various modifications, cavities

or

tubes

are

and which passively spirits. It felt.

was

The

is

composed of

all

of

a system of

undergoing

circulates,

them dependent on

its

heat.

These

simple containers which function no

actively than similar organs

or

body

through which the blood

might function

in an

artificial

less

machine

receive the effects of the dilation of the blood

cause of these effects

is

the heart's

own

in this sphere that lack of experience

heat.

was most acutely

"Descartes was too familiar with the lacunae in our present

knowledge of the history of man," wrote the anatomist Steno

a

short time later, "to undertake to explain his true composition.

Thus he does not attempt

to

do

it

in his treatise

on man, but he

does try to explain the workings of a machine that performs the actions of sians

which men

who went

are capable."

And

addressing the Carte-

further than the master, he added: "Those

undertake to demonstrate that Descartes'

all

man

is

made

who

like other

:

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

97

men

will learn

through the study of anatomy that their undertak-

ing cannot be successful."

x

7

Ethics

Wisdom, first

conflict

no

the goal of philosophy,

shows the will the choice that

is it

attained

when

"intelligence

should make." But there

and the exigencies

that "perfect

knowledge of

knowledge of moral

method and

of

of order, which teach us

the other sciences necessarily precedes

all

This

science."

the conflict supposedly re-

is

solved in the "provisional morality," which Descartes to his statement in the Discourse)

become aware of the vanity not remain irresolute in

me

to be irresolute

The moral maxims "The

first

to

was

to

drew up

of the sciences, "in order that

had

should

I

reason might

of Descartes, enunciated in the third part of

imbued with

rational considerations

obey the laws and customs of

the religion in which

God

my

country, holding

graciously caused

from childhood, and basing

instructed

(according

in 1618, after he

my actions even though in my judgments."

the Discourse, are nevertheless

fast

a

between the urgency of moral wisdom, since action admits

delay,

oblige

is

my

me

conduct in

to

all

be

other

matters on the most moderate and least extreme opinions which

were commonly accepted in practice by the most those with

whom

I

had

conformity because

social

to

live."

it

is

conduct according to those with tion because the practice."

"My

possible in

once

I

my

maxim was

actions,

had made up

my

and

truth,"

for

to

to follow the

II,

7.

to

pattern our

live,

and modera-

certain." is

in

most dubious opinions,

less

constancy than

Such constancy, having no

if

they

roots in

nevertheless rooted deep in a "very

inconstancy in conduct, which

N. Steno, Discourse on the anatomie of the Brain,

hagen, 1910),

must

be as firm and resolute as

mind, with no

the certainty of opinion,

7

"most profitable"

whom we

most moderate opinions are "most appropriate

second

had been absolutely certain

intelligent of

Here Descartes recommended

in

derives

from

Opera Philosophica (Copen-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

98

instability of opinions, does is

not promote contentment of

and repentance.

forever producing remorse

"My

third

mind but

maxim was

to try always to master myself rather than fortune, to change

my

desires rather than the order of the

world; and generally to accus-

tom

is

myself to believe that nothing

wholly in our power except

we have done our best with respect to we fail to accomplish is far as we are concerned." This attitude

our thoughts, so that after

the things that are outside us, everything absolutely impossible so suffices to

make me

eliminate desires that cannot be satisfied and "thus to

content." is

the art of living happily in

persists in

our judgments of things but

Provisional morality, therefore, spite of the

which

in

doubt which

no way

conformity,

affects the conditions of

constancy of the will, moderation of desires

standards reflecting a

wisdom

paganism were the very ones

and

conflict

our happiness. Social

independently of the clash

identified,

between speculative opinions, by moralists

Vair, Montaigne,

—these

easily traceable in origin to ancient

like

Du

and Charron. The provisional elements of

his

They

re-

moral philosophy were not identical appeared in the same form

when

to these standards.

Descartes, after constructing his

metaphysics and his physics, treated moral questions systematically in his letters to Princess Elizabeth, his correspondence with

and

his treatise

on the passions. In speculative matters

remained independent of doubt and of tive

Chanut,

their veracity

certainty, but in the defini-

statement of his moral philosophy Descartes based his precepts

on a

rational, analytical conception of

In the study of

man

as in

everything

man. else,

Descartes followed the

"order of reason" rather than the "order of matter"; consequently his notion of man was fashioned from clear and distinct elements which he discovered one after the other as deduction progressed.

Metaphysics, knowledge of the distinction between soul and body,

knowledge of the union of soul and body edge was matched by the entry of a

—every advance in knowl-

new element into the notion man was fashioning of himself. Man was first defined as a thinking and spiritual substance. But

that

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

99

and

to Descartes sensation, passion,

and

intellectual notions were. Passions

new

imply a

will are

modes

of thought just as

sensations not only did not

feeling soul superadded to the intellectual soul but

merely aspects of the thinking faculty. In thought distinguishes

two groups of modes



"passion" designates in a general sciousness without any action

on

passions

way

its

and

The word

everything given to con-

part: the clear

notions of understanding (extension and thought,

well as true sensations and passions

Descartes

itself

actions.

were

(desire,

and

distinct

first

axioms) as

anger).

The word

"action" designates only the free will that enables us to judge or to abstain

from judging,

that

is,

to give or

withhold our assent to

the associations of ideas that are presented to us by the imagination,

understanding, or the senses.

but the

finite, is, it is

human

will

free to give or to

The whole

is

Human

knowledge

is

limited

"infinite" like the will of

and

God—that

withhold assent.

of Cartesian philosophy assumes this infinite will, the

freedom of which

proved

is

to us

by a strong inner

feeling.

The

first

—his firm, constant resolution to adhere only

steps of the philosopher

methodical doubt which results from

to positive proofs,

tion

—these

there

is

are the fruits of an initiative of will. In philosophy

no separation between extension of knowledge and nurture

of judgment.

But judgment, subjecting

the light of faith," first

which

causes

—that

is

distinct idea of his

Here man

is

the understanding,

"the acquisition of knowledge of truth

is,

wisdom."

Physics, in turn, adds to man's

and

itself to

good considered by natural reason without

leads to the "highest

through

this resolu-

knowledge by giving him a

body and of the world

to

clear

which he belongs.

merely a machine obedient to the general laws of na-

and the concept of thinking substance does not intervene. The mechanism of the animal spirits which travel from the heart to the ture,

brain and are spread through the nerves to the muscles, where they

produce motion,

is

the

same

in nature as the

mechanism

of any fluid

whatsoever. But knowledge of this unlimited world and of the universal

mechanism

of

which our body

is

an infinitesimal part inclines

us to judge rationally events of the outer world and accidents that

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

100

world that has

befall us. It destroys the false idea of a

man: "For

if

we imagine

that

end in

its

beyond the heavens there

nothing

is

but imaginary spaces, and that the fulness of the heavens exists only

and the earth

for the benefit of the earth

that life

we

are inclined to think this earth

our best

life

we

sumption,

.

and beginning

.

.

number

Nothing

show an impertinent preand with him assume of

which gives

and

it

happens

would be wrong

way." This entails,

is

to us

it is

an

is

over the

preserves. "Every-

and "we ought

think

to

necessary and inexorable, so

wish for

for us to

a resurgence of Stoic fate

now

but

God

belief in the providence of

directed by divine providence"

that everything that

that

rise to

vexations." Descartes' denial

mechanism which he has created and which he is

is

this

incompatible than elimination of the study of

is less

final causes in physics

thing

result

no way a denial of divine provi-

in

is

all

and

of vain concerns

of anthropomorphic finality

dence.

man, the

aspire to be in God's council

charge of the conduct of the world, infinite

to

for

our principal abode,

is

it

to

happen any other

and the resignation

that

tempered by reason and divested of the

it

false

notion of a finality favorable to man.

Metaphysics has recourse to notions of pure understanding to acquaint us with the soul and

its

of imagination gives us a clear

we need is

maker, and physics with the help

and

distinct idea of the body.

only practice "suspension of the senses" to realize that

something other than a soul and a body, that he

and

joined to a body,

composite

is

that fusion

an independent

action: the action of the

the action of the soul

entity.

is

so complete that the

is

passion, the soul spirits that

and

natural

is

totally

totally

has produced

of the complicated

it;

human

and

passion,

name of unknown to

union,

it

is

because the

the soul; in experiencing

unaware of the mechanism of animal

knows nothing moves an arm or a leg;

in exercising the will,

mechanism by which

it

it

such relations were instituted by nature. Furthermore, these tions

have a special

mode

inter-

in voluntary acts. If the relation

of action to passion merits the relation

in sensation

man

also a soul

This union consists in an

body on the soul

on the body

is

But

of intelligibility



finality.

rela-

Descartes had

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

101

excluded

finality

from

—a —and

and body

soul

our being

supreme

in the

union of

enters explicitly into the definition of the pas-

effects are felt as in the

mind

itself

on corporeal

and which gen-

cannot be related to an immediate cause"; moreover, they are

erally

fully

reigns

passions are defined as being dependent

"whose

causes

it

union decreed by nature for the conservation of

it

The

sions.

physics, but

understood only in light of their

fact that they fortify

that the

mind

The same

utility,

which

consists "in the

thoughts and cause them to endure."

"preserves them, for otherwise they

natural finality

is

seen again in the corporeal

that spontaneously execute voluntary decisions:

It is

movements

for instance, the

pupillary reflex depends on will, "for although the subject narily

unaware of

its

performance, his

ments that enable the called voluntary

lips

and tongue

movements because they

to the will;

in

ordi-

none-

and move-

pronounce words are

to

are a consequence of the

manner

will to speak, notwithstanding our ignorance of the

which they must be executed

is

ability to see clearly is

dependent upon and a consequence

theless

well

might be effaced."

pronouncing each

letter"

in

(AT,

VI, 107).

The

notion of the union of soul and body, sharply criticized by

Spinoza, Malebranche, and Leibniz but considered by Descartes as

being as "primitive" and legitimate as the notions of extension and thought, provides a clearer understanding of his view of intelligibility.

God

manner

in

is

not deceptive; any error originates in us, from the

which we employ notions outside the sphere of

proper application. Physics has been

falsified

because

it

has

their

made

use of sensible qualities, forces, substantial forms, finality; but these

notions are not illusory in themselves (as Spinoza later believed);

and

if

they are related to the union of soul and body, their veracity

will be

brought

to light. Sensible qualities serve to

of the dangers of the body.

form which represents extended form

is

the soul

notion of a force or a substantial

for us a spiritual being acting within an

true as soon as

and body. The natural it

The

warn

finality

we

apply

it

to the

union of soul

contained in this union even makes

impossible for our desires or our natural needs to deceive us,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

102

may

except by accident. For instance, a dropsical person

ence

even though

thirst,

it is

dangerous for him

ism

—a relation normally useful and

—continues to exert

Man,

that

come

to

him from

degree the master of his corporeal

so ferocious that trary,

it is

ness in It is

an organ-

subjected to the sensations

is

his body, but

he

On

movements.

solely

to a certain

is

the other hand,

upon

his passions.

cultivate," said Descartes, "is not so barbaric or

I

rejects the

it

his feeling

indispensable to

man's happiness and unhappiness depend

"The philosophy

and

its effects.

as a soul united to a body,

and passions

experi-

to drink, because

the relation between a certain motion of his spirits of thirst

still

enjoyment of the passions; on the con-

to this alone that I attribute all the sweetness

and happi-

life."

important for the moralist

nature and

have knowledge of the

first to

each passion, then measurement of the influ-

utility of

ence passions have on

will,

and the influence

will has

on

passions.

Passions are "affections or emotions which are related specifically

way from

sensations,

and which

are engen-

to the soul itself [they are distinguished in this

which are

related to objects outside the soul]

dered, continued,

mal

spirits."

senses

The

and augmented by a

particular

study of this motion,

its effects, is

each passion and the reason for

known

modifications

unknown

to the

mind

ani-

that

part of the physics of the body. Descartes tried

determine the particular motion of

to

motion of the

as

its

spirits that

corresponded to

continuation through the organic

expression of the emotions

—angry

out-

bursts, tears, depression.

The motions

of animal spirits generally have their source in the

impression of an external object on the senses, or at least in the

image of the

object.

assumed by the

will,

Passion

is

with respect to eternal objects. Thus the necessary

condition of

Descartes

is

its

all

other

first

passions



is

spirits,

of the passions—the

wonder, which in

but one form of spontaneous attention. Thanks to

wonder, an object of

the attitude passively

essentially

under the influence of the motion of

is

somehow brought

novelty in relation to the others.

into the foreground because

Then comes

love in

which

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

103

the will

disposed to unite with an object, and hatred which dis-

is

poses the will to evade the object. Joy and sadness imply prior love

and hatred, passions

since

one of them derives from the

and the other from

satisfaction of

such

failure to realize their satisfaction. All

other passions are but variations or combinations of these five primitive passions.

By

out what

useful (love),

is

such dispositions

from the

solely

us, causes

them

reason inter-

Of

to seek

from danger (hatred). But

to flee

judgments concerning good and

are true so long as passions

remain within

course "the utility of any passion derives

fact that to

and

contain

also

and such judgments

their natural limits.

will, before

welcome new knowledge (wonder),

venes in any way, to

evil,

our

their nature passions predispose

fortifies

it

thoughts and, fortunately for

be preserved in the mind," but Descartes added:

any

evil that they

can cause also derives from the fact

that they fortify

and preserve

these thoughts to a greater degree

".

.

just as

.

than

is

necessary."

The

finality of passions,

union of soul and body, thing

we

love

is

is

which depends on the

only general and imperfect: not every-

we

good, not everything

hate

is

bad. These judg-

ments are largely determined by accidental circumstances.

First,

physical circumstances, such as the constitution of the brain, can

produce vast differences in the capacity of each of us to be affected

by objects; secondly, the same object can be neutral and can arouse either love or hatred,

depending on personal experiences;

finally,

accidental associations, by transferring our passion to objects associated with the

a

primary

object,

manner which we would

can cause us to love or fear things in

least

expect and which

is

least

advan-

tageous to us.

But

it is

precisely this imperfection in the finality of the passions

that will provide a foothold for the will

In the

first

place

man

and give

it

sovereign power.

can influence the conditions that govern the

—through medicine, through hygiene, —and such physical therapeutics are not negli-

flow of spirits in the brain

through alimentation gible. its

But there are

influence

also intellectual therapeutics.

on the mind, according

The body

to Descartes,

exerts

through a par-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

104

organ

ticular

—the

pineal gland. This

little

organ, located at the

base of the brain, was selected as the "seat of the soul,"

because

on

located

it is

assymetrical parts of the brain,

from

inferred

the

structure

its

that

it

could be shaken by

flow of animal

the

from the brain

motion

—that

is,

law of

its

impulsion.

It

Thus

gland and in

it

this

mind can change

his steed

without contributing to

its

can change the direction of motion of the pineal

way

influence the flow of spirits to the brain

and

muscles.

We

gland

voluntary only in the sense that the pupillary reflex

is

voluntary. it;

must bear

The

a

uses force without adding anything to

horseman guides

just as a

Accord-

motion in the universe. Without

conservation, however, the

the direction of motion. it,

The mind

spirits.

cannot add even the slightest quantity of

it

to the constant quantity of

violating the

moving

mind cannot be

ing to the principles of Cartesian physics, the force

spirits

into the muscles.

through the pineal gland on the motion of the

moving

first

one of the few

the heart or sense organs into the "cavities" of the

brain or descending acts

is

and secondly because Descartes

and location

disturbance in

slightest

upward from

body and

the axis of the

will

is

in

mind, however, that the motion of the

unaware of

it

and

is

not linked directly to

but the will provokes modifications in the flow of

willing a particular motion,

and

is

by

spirits

these modifications produce the

desired muscular contraction in accordance with natural laws gov-

erning the union of soul and body.

Thus ence

when

and consequently on the

appropriately exercised

fixes the attention of the

produce the passions

body assume it

on the motion of

the will has only an indirect influence

the animal spirits

is

mind on

we wish

passions, but

influ-

unlimited, either because

objects

opposed

to those

to destroy, or because

attitudes incompatible

its

it

it

which

makes

the

with bad passions, or because

and makes a passion Through the mechanism

takes advantage of associations of ideas

change

its

object by a voluntary transfer.

of habit

we

opposed

to the

can cause an object to produce an effect diametrically

one

it

produces naturally, just as

to set or point in the presence of

we

game which,

can train a dog

spontaneously, he

105

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

would pursue. In that

way

this

do not present things

they are

—are

allowed

The consequences nature have

only

as

passions

"licit"

—joys

desires

being better and more desirable than

to subsist.

of this progressive, orderly inspection of man's

not been exhausted. "According to the rule of

still

measured by

reason," said Descartes, "each pleasure ought to be

the magnitude of the perfection that produces the highest

and

good

knowledge of truth and

is

it."

follows that

It

that the sole virtue

is

a

firm and constant resolution to subordinate the will to the light of

our understanding. For our good can be only in "that which some-

how

and

appertains to us

is

we must have

such that

achieve perfection," and the only such thing in us It

if

the rule of reason

used,

is

must be independent of the passion which bears the

same name,

since

its

it

in order to

our free

will.

must produce the

follows that the rational exercise of the will

greatest pleasure

is

and that such pleasure

issues

from the body and

dependence upon the body would

introduce an element of imperfection. Therefore "the soul has

own

pleasures," and, in a general way,

depend on the body

its

has passions which do not

—love and joy—"the causes of which are clearly it

known to us." These are the passions which the Stoics, under the name of exmdOeiai^ attributed to the wise man; they are the seat of consummate It is

sions

from which

bliss.

a clear

and

himself clearly not only as a being

body but

a soul united with a

which we could not

and more

survive.

must

nature that the pas-

Each of us

issue.

endowed with a

also as a part of a

"Each of us

is

free will

is

and

as

whole without

a part of the universe,

joined by his dwelling place, his oath, his

and he must always prefer the

which he belongs over those of rational consideration,

when

it

is

his

interests

of the

whole

to

person in particular." This

perfectly clear to us,

panied by an "intellectual love" for the whole to which perfections

sees

especially a part of the earth, the state, the group, the

family to which one birth;

human

distinct idea of

constitute our beatitude

is

accom-

we owe our

—a love that links us to the whole voluntarily, as sensible

love linked us to our bodies.

Love

for the

whole

is

not charity

dis-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

106

tributed equally

and

which enables us

and which

indifferently to everyone;

worth

increases as our

only for that which

it

is

decreases.

We

—for

sacrifice ourselves

worth more than we

is

a rational love

our worth in relation to the whole

to estimate

our country, for

instance, but not for wealth.

The

exact estimation of our

passion which

worth

the fruit of generosity, a

is

when we

but one aspect of the search for truth

is

are the object of the search.

Knowing

severely limited, the generous

man

human knowledge

that

realizes that his

is

worth depends

not on the superiority of his intelligence but solely on his will and

on the firmness with which the best to his intelligence.

He

will always chooses

whatever seems

therefore has neither misplaced humility

nor scorn for other men, for he knows that each of them has a free will

which

infinite

is

and capable of equal

But he knows that God, among

whom created

he

his will. "Before

what every

and he willed

we count

he sent us into

inclination of our wills

thus." In the

it

for so

little

is

our being

this

would

world, he

be; he

knew

particular thing;

whole consisting of God and our-

that our love for

great as possible. Furthermore, our love is

upon

the one

free acts themselves are

would make us decide on a

that our free wills

it

is

most completely dependent. Not only

is

exactly

selves,

virtue.

other beings,

and preserved by God, but our

dependent upon

knew

all

is

him should be

intellectual

and

as

rational;

born of natural illumination and independent of faith or

grace;

and

it

in

acts

utterly to our wills,

such a

we

way

"surrendering ourselves

that,

divest ourselves of our

have no passion other than that of doing what

own we

interests

and

believe to be

pleasing to him."

Cartesian philosophy, based on method, tion of judgment.

by reason of thing that

It is

their clarity

I try to

ics is

and

teach in

tinct ideas of the things

The fundamental

is

an unflinching will

essentially the cultiva-

to

distinctiveness.

my

Meditations

is

adhere to ideas only

"The most important the formation of dis-

about which judgments are to be made."

intention of mathematics, metaphysics,

and phys-

not to augment our knowledge of quantities, of God, or of

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

107

nature, but to fortify judgment. Since

judgment

is

an

act of the free

follows that from the very beginning philosophy embraces

will, it

this attitude of the will,

which

constitutes virtue.

Cartesianistn in the Seventeenth Century

xi

Cartesianism was a fashionable philosophy. Physics, especially,

aroused enthusiasm. In his celebrated novel, Cyrano de Bergerac described sunspots in terms of Descartes' hypothesis, and in Les

Femmes

savantes, the following exchange takes place:

Belise I

can take small bodies in

endure, and

I

my

stride,

find subtle matter

but the void seems hard to

much more

palatable.

Trissotin Descartes' theory of

magnetism makes sense

to

me.

Armande I

like his vortexes.

Philaminte

And

I

his falling worlds.

Theologians and Peripatetics saw their vested interests imperiled

and managed the public

to

convince the king and even the parlement that

good was

was prohibited,

at stake. Descartes' doctrine

not by a spiritual power enunciating the truth, as in the case of St.

Thomas Aquinas and

Siger of Brabant, but by a temporal

charged with the administration of public

affairs.

There

ward, anecdotal side to the history of Cartesianism.

amusing, as

when

Boileau,

on the point of passing

warned

Jansenists,

debate was

may

It

be

was

a decree prohibiting the teaching of any

writing his famous Arret burlesque; but the

power an out-

that the parlement of Paris

philosophy other than that of Aristotle, prevented

when

is

it

may

its

also

passage by

be

tragic, as

complicated by conflicts between

and Oratorians,

all

of

whom

insisted

Jesuits,

on directing the

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

108

The

education of youth.

and clung

Jesuits

were generally

hostile to Descartes

Arnauld

to their traditional courses; the Jansenists, like

and Nicole, showed

their liking for Descartes

by introducing whole

passages from the Rules into their Logic; and the Oratorians,

whom

of

Descartes had

numbered among

his friends

beginning, were favorably disposed toward they saw between his spiritualism and

St.

him by

many

from the very

the resemblance

Augustine's. This compli-

cated affair culminated in pamphlets such as Father Daniel's

Voyage du monde de Descartes, in the heresy and

(Father Valois),

of

M. de La

Ville

formulary brutally imposed by the

a

in

Le

on Oratorian professors (1678), who were forced to state and in the

Jesuits

that they believed in substantial forms, in real accidents, void.

But these noisy episodes do not constitute the true history of Cartesianism.

What

matters to us

through

assimilation

the slow, silent process of

is

which mental

gradually

habits,

modified

through meditation on Cartesian truths, were once again harmonized.

The philosophy Holland:

of Descartes spread throughout Europe. First to

Daniel

1653); Jean de

Heerebord,

(Specimina

Lipstorp

Raey (Clams philosophiae

who

published his

et cartesianae philosophiae, in

whose Annotations spinoza

philosophiae

(1690).

to the

first

cartesianae,

naturalis, 1654);

work, Parallelismus

1643; Geulincx;

Adrien

aristotelicae

and Chr. Wittich,

Meditations (1688) was followed by Anti-

In England, Antoine

Grand, a Frenchman,

le

spread the ideas of Descartes and defended (Institutiones philosophiae,

him

in his

handbooks

London, 1672 and 1678), against Samuel

Parker. In Germany, there were Clauberg and Balthasar Bekker,

author of a

and

De

philosophia cartesiana admonitio Candida (1691);

in France, Rohault, Sylvain Regis,

Cordemoy, La Forge, and

Malebranche.

Of by to

its

course Cartesianism did not progress in the direction intended

founder, and while

it

be sufficiently established,

especially in medicine,

advanced principles which he thought it

made

little

which required

for

progress in physics and its

development

difficult



.

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

109

and

costly

own

experiments that an individual could not conduct at his

On

expense.

this point

Leibniz was harsh in his criticism of

the sterility of Descartes' disciples.

Cartesians could cite 1675)

and

The

only physicist

whom

the

by way of rebuttal was Jacques Rohault (1620-

his investigations of capillarity. In his Treatise

on Physics

he gave in Paris over a period of

(1671), based

on

several years,

he advocated a science inspired by Cartesianism

lectures that

replace Aristotle's treatises,

which the

universities

were

to

teaching

still

under the name of physics. Rohault's physics, divided into four parts according to the Cartesian order

—natural

bodies and their

and of

properties, the system of the world, the nature of the earth

and animated bodies

terrestrial bodies,

ence,

which

is



stresses the role of experi-

especially useful in verifying suppositions.

When we

formulate a hypothesis concerning the nature of a subject,

we

believe about

certain

its

nature

manner we must

had not

yet imagined;

we had thought

is

verifiable,

of necessity reveal a

and

to test

"if

then by arranging

new

our reasoning

it

what in a

effect which we we do whatever

capable of causing the subject to produce this

effect" (Preface)

But the imprint and continuing influence of Cartesian thinking

was manifested much more

clearly in metaphysical principles, the

nature of ideas, the value of knowledge, and the union of soul and

body.

had

Having

to discern

lost

any right

to refer to the sensible, the Cartesian

through intrinsic qualities what constitutes the true

value of objects of the

mind

ideas

—and

what keeps us from con-

fusing ideas with fictions. For just as Descartes, in the

name

of

clear ideas, censured the Peripatetics for attributing reality to sensi-

ble qualities, his adversaries in their turn pretended that

he was

substituting a figment of his imagination, an invention of his for the real world.

xii

mind,

Such was the preoccupation of Geulincx.

Geulincx

Arnold Geulincx (1625-1669) studied at the University of Louwhere he later taught for six years. Forced for obscure reasons

vain,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

110

up

to give

his post,

he became a Protestant and sought refuge in

among

Leiden, where he gave private lessons after 1663. His works,

them a Metaphysica vera and a Metaphysica ad mentem peripateticam, appeared belatedly after his death

after

(1 691-1698,

Male-

branche's works).

The

was

central idea of all his investigations

to escape

from "the

human mind to base the modes of its own thoughts on known things." Aristotle was the exemplar of those who succumbed, Descartes the model for those who sought to resist. One of the first mistakes of the Peripatetics was to imagine inclination of the

corporeal agents capable of producing in us a great variety of sen-

and

sations I

ideas; for

I

am, on the other that

am

simply acknowledge on the one hand that

many

have

I

is

No,

for

a simple being,

which therefore has

this diversity,

But

am

is

it

its

that

I

"quite obvious that there

scious

I

follow

my

and of which

and

I

know

I

do not

that the cause of

modes

no action unless there

is

the

which

me

mode

is

that fire pro-

I

I

see clearly

am

not con-

of production; con-

lacks consciousness, cannot

of thought can only be a thinking

being outside me. But every thinking being

can therefore produce diverse

maintained?

"natural instinct,"

know

that the body,

such

spite of

as Aristotle

cannot be the author of an action of which

sequently act,

when

I

source in an external agent.

consciousness in the agent. Prejudice convinces

duces heat; but

of thought;

cannot produce in myself

I

found in bodies,

the agent to be

modes

remain the same in

also a simple being, since I

diversity; since I

different

effects

is

simple like

me

and

only through the intervention

of something capable of diverse changes that give rise to diverse objects

of

thought— through the intervention of extension and

bodies. "Bodies then act as instruments act as the instruments of

more things than sionalist thesis

I

as causes."

can conceive. This

is

who

They

can create

one form of the occa-

advanced by Malebranche. 8

Geulincx went

much

to consider bodies as 8

and not

an ineffable cause— God

further in his reasoning. Descartes learned

being intelligible and attributed to them exten-

Metaphysica vera, ed. Land, pp. 150-51, 153, 268 (note).

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

Ill

sion, infinitely divisible, impenetrable,

and endowed with diverse

other properties. But these properties are intelligible and therefore

must have been

intro-

put into matter not only motion but

all its

as such; they

cannot belong to brute bodies

God

duced by a mind. other properties.

We

tendency of his reasoning.

see the

we must

of thought to the end, ceive

we

If

follow his train

mind can

conclude that the

and know nothing about a thing except what has been

duced into the thing by the mind. But the principle, he

was much

he drew from

application.

its

less

sure about the consequences that

Sometimes he viewed the mind's con-

things as they are in themselves (ut sunt in se)

from us

conceal

modes, genera, and

but of

human

their physical

species,

considerations

or right or the rules of



knowledge of

for instance,

reality.

Similarly,

when when

were beings and that he was describing

Aristotle said that things their

intro-

Geulincx was firm about

if

tribution to things as an obstacle to the acquisition of

qualities

con-

he was not speaking of things

which had no more

grammar and which,

reality

For example, "being

stitute a discipline (doctrina).

than

left

like these, could conis

nothing but

mode of thinking through which we apprehend something on which we have decided to state an opinion," and the same is true of parts and wholes, of unity and plurality. But human wisdom a

would then have

severe limitations; it would reach only things which we ourselves have produced: "such is our consciousness of love, hatred,

affirmation, negation,

and

all

our other actions," in

other words, immediate psychological data.

Wisdom sometimes ("ideas"

are

is

radically

thoughts"), yet an idea

defined as knowledge derived from ideas

distinct is

from "human considerations and

not simply an image of a thing in

itself

we saw in the example of the body) but an addition of the mind. The distinguishing mark of an idea—the idea of extension, (as

for instance



is

this:

because

it

derives

from the divine mind,

it

acquires the character of a rule or law, something not found in

human modes 9

of thinking.9 In any case, nothing

Metaphysica ad mentem peripateticam, ed. Land,

II,

is

more

199; 191 (note).

instruc-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

112

than the fluctuation in the reasoning of Geulincx who, finding the thing-in-itself only in immediate consciousness, tried to provide science with an object by tracing a line of demarcation, never quite tive

distinct,

between thoughts that have

their source in us

and true

ideas.

Clauberg

xin

Johann Clauberg (1622-1665), a Westphalian who wrote two of German (noteworthy in view of the

his philosophical treatises in

practice of his contemporaries), taught first at at

Duisburg (1652).

An

Herborn

erudite Cartesian, he

(1650), then

was familiar with

Renaissance Platonism, with Marsilio Ficino, Plotinus, and Plato.

The

essential characteristic of his

attention

it

deserves,

Platonic tradition.

is

work, which has not received the

his attempt to relate Cartesianism to the

Nothing

is

more

singular in this respect than his

teaching concerning the theologian Conrad Berg. According to

Clauberg, in his unpublished writings Berg defended a theory of ideas "similar in every tical to Plato's:

way

to Descartes' theory,"

and almost iden-

ideas are "species" of the absolute Being, have

more

perfection than the things they represent in proportion as they are spiritual,

and are "something inanimate." Berg was even familiar

with the proof of the existence of for this proof

is

at

God through

the idea of

God,

bottom only one aspect and one application of

the principle that led Plato to infer the existence of ideal models

from

sensible things: things are natural signs of spiritual realities;

similarly, the idea of ity."

10

It

was

God

is

"the natural sign of the divine real-

his Christian Platonism, suffused

of the dignity of the soul, that led Clauberg to

with an awareness

deny that any

cor-

poreal modification could produce a modification in the soul, since

an

effect

could not be more noble than

its

cause. It follows, he

said (using a Stoic expression), that "the motions of our bodies are

only procatarctic causes that provide the mind, as well as the prin-

De

cognitione, exercise xvi, pp. 619-20,

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

113

with an occasion (menti occasionem dant) for

ciple cause,

always potential {semper

call forth ideas that are

ticular time." This thesis clearly reveals

its

it

to

virtute) at a par-

Platonic origin.

Digby

xiv Sir

Kenelm Digby tried

Paris,

construct

to

from

Gassendi's as

who

(1603-1665),

lived for

corpuscular physics

a

To

Descartes'.

dynamic physics he fused three

many

as

years in

remote from

construct the corpuscles of his

forces: condensation, rarefaction,

reveals his hostility to the thesis of the

and weight. His system

identity of extension and matter. But

also

it

shows that on many

axiom

points his thinking parallels that of Geulincx. "Aristotle's that there

the understanding which was not

nothing in

is

ously in the senses

falls so far

he says in his

Demon stratio

p. 216), "that

we ought

sensible things,

parts

immortalitatis animae rationalis (1664,

was

—we

are

in the senses."

first

when we speak

and wholes, cause and

stances

short of being true in a strict sense,"

rather to say the opposite: there

in the understanding that

previ-

With

of existence, relations

effect,

is

nothing

respect to

—for instance,

number, the continuum, or sub-

making statements about

their

properties

that

cannot pass for our inner images of things. "The things behind the relations

drawn

we

making

are

in appropriate colors, but

and have an image of in

statements about can be depicted and

common between

a pile

made up

signification of the

number

cent of Geulincx)

why do we

tions

we

formulate,

subsistent

mind with

thing

how

can

half, or of cause

if

ten

?

And

it

attention to the

way

in

is

there

and the

ideal

(according to terms reminis-

not "because substance— that its

own

limits

which

it

somehow depend?" These

reflected in the notions

What

attribute substantiality to the no-

circumscribed by

can

depict their relations

effect?"

of ten objects

a convenient, solid basis to

and on which

we

and



is,

a

provides

can attach

self-

the itself

characteristics call

which the exigencies of our minds are

which we have of

things.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

114

La Forge

xv

In the preface of his Treatise on the

Mind

of

Man,

Its Faculties

and Functions and Its Union with the Body, according to the Principles of Rene Descartes (1666), Louis de la Forge tried, like Clauberg, to show that Descartes' ideas are in harmony, not only with

Augustine's but also with those of Marsilio Ficino and the

St.

other Platonists.

he

cast light

One

He

main

had

was

results of his meditation

on one another and the

the action of bodies soul.

of the

on the manner in which a Cartesian was

interaction of

to struggle not only against materialists

that

to interpret

body and

who, imagin-

ing that any action would have to be modeled on action through contact, declared that a soul could not act

was

itself

verse as a real quality

and

to clear ideas,

clear

and

of a

moving

:

neither harder [nor easier] to

that one

motion

the soul

is

its

The

is

consider the it

no notion

one body on another,

and the

if

it

itself

materialists erred in

mind since understand how a mind can spirituality of

than to understand

only moving force

and obliges the

"directs

to bodies in

to the

with bodies and .

power which

.

it

we

how one body

pushes

God, the universal

is

we

can say

the particular cause of another motion or that

moving power

laws of motion the

we

the particular cause of a corporeal motion only

have acted, according govern

it

are both inimical

if

the motions in the world. Consequently

all

that

dynamism

—extension—we find in

"action'* of

unintelligible,

is

who viewed

introduced into the uni-

an argument against the

it

another" (p. 254).

and

body

The

force.

on a body and move

mean

God

materialism and

distinct idea of

deducing from

cause of

body unless the soul

for identical reasons. Indeed,

consider only bodies,

act

a

corporeal, but also against certain Cartesians

the constant quantity of motion that

"it is

on

.

and

for

manner

first

cause to apply

whose absence in

minds—for

which

it

it

its

if

we

force

would not

has resolved to

bodies according to the

minds according

to the extension of

has elected to accord to the will."

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

115

Gerard de Cordemoy

xvi

Gerard de Cordemoy, counselor to the king and reader to the grand dauphin, followed the same course in his own reflections. Like La Forge, he published

work in 1666: Ten Discourses Body and Soul. He had formu-

his first

on the Separation and the Union of

on the

lated his ideas

and had discussed

with several friends.

of this thesis in his fourth discourse

"What we

:

others

moved, they

("The

mean when we

really

at least at the

come

same

speed,

what was

and

clear formulation

First

say that

that all bodies are impenetrable

is

see that

most Cartesians. Cordemoy offered a

strongly to

tion")

We

ascendancy and appealed

occasionalism was in the

called

later

it

subject seven or eight years earlier (p. 72),

Cause of Mo-

some bodies move

and cannot always be

that consequently,

when

mind that moved the first with The interaction of body and soul

together, they provide the

move

an occasion to

the second."

same way. "A

moves a body when, because

is

conceived in the

it

wishes this to happen, whatever was already moving the body

actually

moves

it

in the direction desired

Cordemoy drew

considerations

rather surprising. Since there is

commonly

these terms,

is

and

called cause

we

soul

by the

From

such

some of which

conclusions,

no

soul."

intrinsic relation

effect deriving

are

between what

from the nature of

can imagine, between a soul and a body or between

one soul and another, modes of relation quite different from actual

mind, separated from the

modes; for instance,

it is

body, to imagine

bodies, without union with one precluding, as

it

to

now

does,

all

possible for the

union with another.

We can

communicate thoughts, need only

a thought can, after

than

a

motion;

all,

upon us

Words, pp. 75-79).

It

imagine minds which, communication, for

more

easily

discloses

new

occasion another thought even

furthermore,

thoughts to us whose cause to the influence

also

will their

is

inspiration,

which

we cannot grasp, can probably be traced minds unknown to us {Discourse on

of

obvious that Cordemoy's Cartesianism

tends toward the sort of disconnected vision of the universe which



Il6

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY and which almost

caused Leibniz to censure the occasionalists anticipated

Hume's

vision

—a conclusion wholly consonant with the

type of atomism that he substituted in physics for the master's

continuous matter. Finally, he concluded from his

thesis, as

Male-

branche also concluded, that belief in the existence of bodies can be guaranteed only by faith.

xvn

and Huet

Sylvain Regis

suit the tastes of

known that his metaphysics was too strong to many. The history of Platonism proves that ideal-

ism based

on

Descartes

made

solely

it

spiritual realities, unless

tempered by the

rigor-

ous discipline, self-control, and generosity typified by Descartes, in

danger of becoming visionary. The fault

in the his

weak minds

System

of those

of Philosophy

who

lies

is

not in Descartes but

tried to interpret idealism. In

Regis

Sylvain

(1690)

(1632-1707)

one of the most celebrated popularizers of Cartesianism in Toulouse (1665), Montpellier (1671), of Cartesianism

and Paris

which eliminated

—expounded

that danger.

speculative excesses in the doctrine

He

put an end to

by considering

These ideas derive

reference to non-spiritual realities, with

all

realities

—as

simple images of

all their

value from their

even innate ideas and clear and distinct ideas non-spiritual realities.

a bland variety

which

their existence begins

and ends; furthermore, the same principle applies even more fully to truths

grounded on such

ideas.

force-

"Numerical, geometric, and

metaphysical truths can be eternal neither according to their matter

nor according to their form cause this

is

—not

on the

basis of their matter be-

nothing other than the substances that

produced, and not on the basis of their form because this other than the operation through which in a certain way,

mind

God is

has

nothing

considers substances

and the mind's operation cannot be

Cartesian then accepted Aristotle's axiom, "there

is

eternal."

This

nothing in the

understanding that has not been in the senses," and tried to find in things a stable foundation for truth. But he also accepted the doctrine of innate ideas,

though only in the sense that they

exist in the

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

117

mind from

the time of our earliest experiences

and remain there

permanently. For instance, any external experience a

mode

of extension,

extension with

properties;

and the same

mode

is

true of the idea of

of thought. Regis' opinions con-

with those of Malebranche who,

answer the objections of

to

knowledge of

and any mode of extension implies the idea of

all its

thought enveloped in any trast sharply

is

as

we

had

shall see,

concerning the ideas which

his critics

he saw directly "in God." Regis assumed the role of defending Descartes against the attacks

who

of Pierre Daniel Huet,

Cartesianae in 1689.

Huet appears on

Weakness

Treatise on the

published his Censura philosophiae the basis of his Philosophical

Human

of the

Mind, written before

1690 but not published until 1723, to be a sensationalist and, con-

The

sequently, a skeptic.

"species" of objects, because they pass

through diverse media and then through our senses which

them

by the time they reach

more, are distorted

still

skepticism

is

a definitive avowal of powerlessness, intended

It is

to "prepare the

mind

upon everything

to receive faith."

human

in

and

Descartes' rationalism

must look with doubt

things reason can attain to cer-

in the light of faith. easily

is

discerned;

for marshaling an arsenal of causes,

can explain imaginary (p. 172),

We

that reason teaches us or at least believe that in

and even

tainty only through

at the

his

not, like that of the ancient Skeptics, a continuous

search for truth.

divine things

us.

alter

But

all

of

His attitude toward

he

them

suspect since they

effects as readily as real ones.

Huyghens was

the

first to

Descartes

criticizes

For example

discover Saturn's ring,

time of Descartes was assumed to be two

satellites;

which

Descartes

"thought that he had adduced perfectly valid reasons to explain

why

the imaginary planets

for his criterion of clear

the set.

famous

move

and

vicious circle for

distinct ideas, its

which he was

In his Reply to Criticism

physics in an

odd manner.

quite slowly around Saturn."

He

worth

criticized

is

not pertain to

it,"

refuted by

from the

out-

(1691), Regis defended Cartesian

maintained that "speculative physics

can be dealt with only problematically, that whatever strative does

As

and

that

its

role

is

demon-

was limited

to devis-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Il8

ing a mechanical arrangement for deducing effects from experience.

As

for the vicious circle,

human

of a perfect being, but

the truth of an idea

Toward biased

for

it

was on the

the

it

was on the plane of the absolute

depended on the existence of

end of the century,

that

this idea.

in the opinion of

many men

less

than Huet, Cartesian rationalism was dangerous simply

because to

was merely apparent;

it

plane that the certainty of a true idea led to the existence

it

was a form of rationalism. The "cause of God" was hard

defend through recondite arguments. "I have learned," said

God

Jaquelot, for example, in his Dissertations on the Existence of

(1690), "that several metaphysical proofs to strike the heart perceptibly.

too subtle, even though

The mind

arguments that seem

resists

might find nothing

to refute

them."

argument, Jaquelot substituted for proof of the

to clinch his

ence of

it

do not have enough body

God

his idea of the old proof a contingentia

And exist-

mundi. Fur-

thermore, this was the age that witnessed the appearance of a

number

of

refutations

the

of

Cartesian

proof,

refutations

that

struck at the very heart of his philosophy. For instance, in his

]udicium de argumento Cartesii petito ab ejus idea (Basel, 1699), Werenfels wrote that the idea of God is no more an immutable nature than

is

the idea of "horse," since

one or more of whether

its

its

perfections.

existence

is

compatible with truths

with to

unknown

truths.

He

possible, since

known

we

can arbitrarily eliminate

added that we cannot know

to us,

even it

if

can

Even Fenelon, though

we

still

God by

setting

down

it

is

entirely sympathetic

Descartes, thought that he should begin his

Existence of

grant that

be incompatible Treatise on the

the most obvious

proof, that of final causes written for "intelligent

and popular

men" who

did

not have "a thorough knowledge of physics." In the period that lay ahead,

more

stress

was

to

invention of sound reasons.

be placed on persuasion than on the

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I

to

X

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Adam

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(Euvres

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New

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S.

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New

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Kemp

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.

Studies Alquie, F. Descartes:

Vhomme

Balz, A. G. A. Descartes

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New

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J.

.

.

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Spinoza

Delbos, V.

ha

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J.

P. Gordy.

1887. Fouillee, A. Descartes. Paris, 1893.

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The Philosophy 119

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New

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120

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.

role

le

de

la

pensee medievale dans

la

formation du

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S. Descartes: His Life and Times. New York, 1905. Hamelin, O. Le systeme de Descartes. Paris, 191 1. Jaspers, Karl. Descartes und die Philosophic 3d ed. Berlin, 1956. Keeling, S. V. Descartes. London, 1934. Laberthonniere, LeP. Etudes sur Descartes. 2 vols. Paris, 1935. Laporte, J. M. F. Le rationalisme de Descartes. Paris, 1945.

Haldane, E.

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Scott,

F.

J.

The

Wor\

Scientific

of

Rene

Sebba, G. Bibliographia Cartesiana: ature, i8oo-ig6o.

The Hague,

London, 1952. Guide to the Descartes

Descartes.

A

Critical

Liter-

1964.

I'homme et le penseur. Paris, 195 1. Studies in the Cartesian Philosophy. London, 1902.

Serrurier, C. Descartes,

Smith, N. .

Kemp.

New Studies in

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La

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G.

Sortais,

Vartanian, A. Diderot and Descartes. Princeton, N.J., 1953. Versfeld, M. An Essay on the Metaphysics of Descartes. London, 1940. Meta-Meditations. Edited by A. Sesonske and B. N. Fleming. Belmont, Calif., 1965.

Studies

Adam,

C. Vie et oeuvres de Descartes. (CEiwres, Vol. XII.) Paris, 1910. .

Descartes; ses amities feminines. Paris, 1937.

"Rene Descartes, Manuscrit de Gottingen," Revue bourguignonne de I'enseignement superieur, 1896. .

Baillet,

Adrien.

La

vie

de Monsieur Descartes. 2

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Cantecor, G. "La vocation de Descartes," Revue philosophique, November, 1923. .

"A

Revue

E.

Cassirer,

quelle date Descartes

d'histoire

de

Descartes:

la

a-t-il

philosophic

Lehre,

ecrit

Cohen, G. Ecrivains francais en Hollande dans si eel

c

Paris, 1920.

la

Recherche de

(1928). Personlich\eit, Wir\ung.

la

Verite?"

II

la

Stockholm, premiere moitie du

1939.

XVH e

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

121

Gouhier, H. "Sur

la

date de

la

Recherche de

Revue

la Verite,"

d'histoire

de

la philosophie, III (1929).

Les premieres pensees de Descartes. Paris, 1958. Descartes, le philosophe au masque. Paris, 1929. Milhaud, G. "L'ceuvre de Descartes pendant l'hiver 1 619-1620," Scientia, .

M.

Leroy,

January, 191 8. .

"Une

crise

mystique chez Descartes en 1619," Revue de metaphysique,

July, 1916. .

Sirven,

"La sincerite de Descartes," Revue de metaphysique, May, 1919. Les annees d'apprentissage de Descartes, 1^6-1628. Paris, 1928.

J.

II

Studies Alquie, F.

La decouverte metaphysique de I'homme chez

Descartes. Paris,

1950.

Articles on Descartes commemorating the third centenary Revue philosophique, 1951. H. Gouhier, and M. Gueroult. Descartes. (Colloque de Royau-

Alquie, F., et

al.

of his death,

Alquie, F.,

mont.) Paris, 1957. J. "La methode de Descartes," Revue de metaphysique, 1896. Boutroux, P. L' imagination et les mathematiques selon Descartes. Paris, 1900. "La signification historique de la Geometrie de Descartes," Revue de metaphysique, 19 15. Brunschvicg, L. Ecrits philosophiques. Paris, 1951. I, 11-108. Berthet,

.

Gibson, B. "The Regulae of Descartes," Mind, 1898.

"La geometrie de Descartes au point de vue de de metaphysique, 1896. .

la

methode," Revue

M. Descartes, selon I'ordre des raisons. 2 vols. Paris, 1958. Vol. I, L'dme et Dieu; Vol. II, L'dme et le corps. Hannequin, A. "La methode de Descartes," Revue de metaphysique, 1906. Gueroult,

Reprinted in Essais sur Vhistoire des sciences 1908.

Milhaud, G.

quantum

Num

Cartesii

methodus tantum

et

de

la philosophie. Paris,

valeat in sui opere illustrando

senserit. Montpellier, 1894.

.

"La Geometrie de Descartes," Revue generale des

.

"Descartes et l'analyse infinitesimale," Ibid., 1917.

.

"La querelle de Descartes

et

sciences, 19 16.

de Fermat au sujet des tangentes,"

1917.

Vuillemin,

J.

Mathematiques

et

metaphysique chez Descartes.

Paris, i960.

Ibid.,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

122

III

Studies Gilson, E. 1914.

"L'inneisme cartesien

Reprinted

1921, pp. 146

et

Etudes

in

la

de

Revue de metaphysique,

theologie,"

philosophic

medievale,

Strasbourg,

ff.

Natorp, P. Descartes Er\enntnisstheorie: Eine Studie zur Vorgeschichte des Kriticismus. Marburg, 1882. Virgier,

J.

"Les idees de temps, de duree et d'eternite dans Descartes," Revue

philosophique, 1920.

Wahl,

J.

Du

role

de Videe de Vinstant dans

la

philosophic de Descartes.

Paris, 1920.

IV

Study Boutroux, E.

De

veritatibus aeternis

apud Cartesium.

eternelles chez Descartes. Translated

Paris, 1875.

by Canguilhem.

Des

verites

Paris, 1927.

V Studies Blanchet, L. Les antecedents historiques

du

"]e pense,

done

je suis." Paris,

1920.

Gueroult,

M. Nouvelles

reflexions sur la preuve ontologique de Descartes.

Paris, 1955.

VI

Studies M. "Le Christianisme de Descartes," Revue de metaphysique, 1896. La doctrine cartesienne de la liberte et la theologie. Paris, 1913. Gouhier, H. La pensee religieuse de Descartes. Paris, 1924. Blondel,

Glison, E.

Hannequin, A. "La preuve ontologique de Descartes defendue contre Leibniz," Revue de metaphysique, 1896. Laberthonniere, L. "La religion de Descartes," Annales de philosophic chretienne, August, 191 .

"La theorie de

1.

la foi

chez Descartes,"

Ibid., July, 191

1.

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

123

"Le pretendu rationalisme de Descartes au point de vue

.

September, 191 1. Laporte, J. "La finalite chez Descartes," Revue d'histoire de

religieux,'

Ibid.,

philosophic

la

(1928).

II

Russier,

J.

Sagesse

I'immortalite de

carte sienne

Vdme

et

religion:

Essai

sur la

connaissance

de

selon Descartes. Paris, 1958.

VII

Study Schwarz, H. "Les recherches de Descartes sur exterieur," Revue de metaphysique, 1896.

la

du monde

connaissance

VIII

Studies Belaval, Y. Leibniz critique de Descartes. Paris, i960.

Carteron, H. "L'idee de

Revue philosophique, Gilson,

E.

"Meteores

la force

mecanique dans

le

systeme de Descartes,"

1922.

cartesiens

et

meteores

scolastiques,"

de

Etudes

in

philosophic medievale, Strasbourg, 192 1, pp. 247 ff. Hoffman, A. "Die Lehre von der Bildung des Universums bei Descartes,"

Archiv fur die Geschichte der Philosophic, XVII (1904). Korteweg. "Descartes et Snellius, d'apres quelques documents nouveaux," Revue de metaphysique, 1896. Milhaud, T. "Descartes experimentateur," Revue philosophique, 19 18. Reprinted in Descartes savant, Paris, 1920. .

"Descartes et Bacon," Scientia, 19 17. Reprinted in Descartes savant,

Paris, 1917. .

"Le double aspect de Pceuvre scientifique de Descartes,"

Scientia,

1916. Reprinted in Descartes savant, Paris, 1917. .

"Notes sur Descartes,"

Revue philosophique, 19 18. Reprinted

in

Descartes savant, Paris, 19 17.

Tannery, P. "Descartes physicien," Revue de metaphysique, 1896.

IX

Studies Berthier,

"Le mecanisme

cartesien et la physiologie au

XVII e

siecle,"

Isis,

1914.

Canguilhem, G. La formation du concept de reflexe aux XVII e siecles. Paris, 1955.

et

XVIUe

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124

"Organisme et modeles mecaniques, Reflexions sur la biologie carRevue philosophique, 1955, pp. 281-299. Gilson, E. "Descartes et Harvey," Revue philosophique, 1921 and 1922. Re.

tesienne (i),"

printed in Etudes de philosophic medievale, Strasbourg, 1921, pp. 191 fT. in der Heil\nude am

Sommer, E. Die Entstehung der mechanischem Schule Ausgang des iy. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1899.

Studies Boutroux, E.

"Du

cartesienne,"

rapport de

la

morale a

Revue de metaphysique,

Brochard, V. "Le

traite

la

science

dans

la

philosophic

1896.

des Passions de Descartes et l'Ethique de Spinoza,"

Revue de metaphysique,

1896.

Reprinted

in

Etudes

de

ancienne et de philosophic moderne. Paris, 1912. Pp. 3271!. "Descartes stoi'cien," in Etudes de philosophic ancienne .

sophic moderne. Paris, 1912. Pp. 320

philosophic et

de philo-

ff.

Espinas, A. Descartes et la morale. 2 vols. Paris, 1925.

Lanson, G.

"Le heros cornelien

et

le

genereux

selon

Descartes,"

Revue

d'histoire litteraire, 1894.

Lewis, G. L'indiridualite selon Descartes. Paris, 1950. Le probleme de Vinconscient et le carte sianisme. Paris, 1950. La morale de Descartes. Paris, 1957. .

.

Mesnard, P. Essai sur la morale de Descartes. Paris, 1936. Seailles, G. Quid de ethica Carte sins senserit. Paris, 1883.

XI

Studies

New York, 195 1. de la philosophie cartesienne. 3d ed. 2 vols. Paris, 1868. Mouy, P. Le developpement de la physique cartesienne, 1646-17 12. Paris,

Balz, A. G. Cartesian Studies. Bouillier, F. Histoire

1934Prost,

J.

Essai sur

Vatomisme

et

V occasionalisme dans

la

philosophie cartesi-

enne. Paris, 1907.

XII

Text Geulincx, Arnold. Opera philosophica. Edited by

Hague, 1891-93.

J.

P.

N. Land. 3

vols.

The

DESCARTES AND CARTESIANISM

125

Studies

Van

der Haeghen, V. Geulincx: Etudes sur sa

vie,

sa philosophic et ses

ouvrages. Ghent, 1886.

Land,

J.

P.

N. Arnold Geulincx und seine Philosophic The Hague,

1895.

XIII

Text Clauberg, Johannes. Opera. Amsterdam, 1691.

Study Miiller,

Hermann. Johannes Clauberg und

seine Stellung

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(Dissertation) Jena, 1891.

XV Study Seyfarth,

H. Louis de

la

Forge und seine Stellung im Occasionalismus.

(Dissertation) Gotha, 1887.

XVII

Texts Regis, Sylvain. Systeme de philosophic contenant la logique, la metaphysique,

physique

la

et la

morale. Paris, 1690.

Huet, D. Censura philosophiae carte sianae. Paris, 1689. Traite philosophique de la jaiblesse de Vesprit humain. Amsterdam, .

1723.

Studies Bartholmes, C. Huet, eveque d'Avranches, ou

le

scepticisme

theologique.

Paris, 1850. Sortais,

G. "Le cartesianisme chez

siecle,"

les Jesuites francais ail

Archives de philosophic, VI (1929).

XVII e

et

au XVTI e

PASCAL i

The Methods

of Pascal

blaise pascal

was not

(1623-1662)

a philosopher.

He was

a scientist

scientist

he had a place in the tradition of mathematical and ex-

and an apologist

for the Catholic religion.

perimental physics that led from Galileo to Newton.

he did not

start

by attempting

to

To answer

a

apologist

demonstrate by reason

truths of faith that are demonstrable.

he turned

As an

As

all

the

the freethinkers

whole spectrum of human

to history for evidence, to the

behavior, just as he turned to experience

and not

to reason

for

proof of a physical truth. Descartes was also a scientist and, to a certain degree,

an apologist, but his genius prevented him from

being both without being a philosopher at the same time

—without

introducing science and apologetics into the "chain of reasons"

from which he had excluded the truths of on the contrary, allowed him neither getics

to

make

an integral part of a philosophy nor

sideration the truths of faith.

almost contemporaries,

is

so

The

faith. Pascal's genius,

science

and apolo-

to fail to take into con-

contrast between the

two men,

profound and so striking that in

all

probability nothing else in history can provide us with a better

human mind. when Pascal was hardly

understanding of the nature of the

The Essay on

Conies, written

out of his

childhood (1639), reveals one of his characteristic intellectual

When

traits.

dealing with a specific problem (to find the principle from 126



PASCAL

127

which

all

the properties of conic sections can be deduced), he

devised a specific

of resolving this problem

method capable

and

only this problem. Pascal discovered that every property of a conic

depended upon the invention of a certain hexagon, which

section

he

Thus each problem

the mystic hexagram.

calls

the ability to discover the precise notions

why

This explains

solution.

its

and

principles needed

showed

that

and of the

sur-

Pascal subsequently

in order to find the center of gravity of a cycloid faces or

volumes that depend upon

this curve,

we must

take into

consideration the properties of so-called triangular numbers.

who

points out in his Thoughts, those

and

repelled by definitions

and

the

intuitively,

hexagram and the

seem

sterile to

them; they cannot

to

slightest

As he

are not geometers will be

principles that

by propositions incomprehensible ately

new

on the part of the mathematician, who must have

inventive effort

for

requires a

relation

them and

see,

immedi-

between the mystic

properties of conical sections, between triangular

numbers and the question of

centers of gravity.

The

discovery of

such relations depends not upon a method communicable to every-

one but upon a certain mentality possessed by few

few men with

men.

whom

"I

I

—the

geometric

was bothered by the

is

were

could discuss them," Pascal later remarked

in speaking of the abstract sciences.

He

used the word "method" in

the plural, for he maintained that there

procedures to be devised

—which

mind

fact that there

were

as

many methods

—as there were problems to be solved. The

geometer separates objects from one another, and the geometric

mind in turn separates The geometric mind Pascal

who

endowments

"Some

the geometer is

from other men.

only part of the scientific mind.

studied hydrostatics did not use the as

the Pascal

who

same

The

intellectual

invented the mystic hexagram.

people," he said, "have a clear understanding of the effects

of water,

which involves few

so subtle that only the

Such men would not includes

many

principles; but their consequences are

most penetrating minds can reach them.

necessarily be great geometers, for

principles,

and a

certain kind of

geometry

mind may be

able to

gain a thorough grasp of a few principles and yet be unable even

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

128

begin to understand things that involve

to

mind" with "power

"discriminating

and

still

many

to penetrate"

principles."

A

can be narrow

serve to investigate the effects of water (since the prin-

ciple of hydrostatics

is

unique)

the geometric mind,

;

on the other

hand, must be able to grasp a great number of principles without confusion and

As

is

search for principles

is

plenum through

lieved

an

must

correct is

is

be weak.

useless, or rather, in

"They

1

it.

say that because

you be-

empty when you saw nothpossible.

This

Or

they say that because you were told in school

—which understood impression— was corrupted and

no vacuum, your common sense

wrong

your

to

Consequently, no recourse to principles

But experience

certainty that the weight of a

column

first

nature" (No. 82).

possible in the question

is

with certainty that the tube

establishes

above the quicksilver in a barometer liberated

which the

claim to establish

your senses, strengthened by custom, and science

must be corrected by going back of the void.

may

Cartesians

principles:

quite clearly before this

it

may

you believed that a vacuum was

them,

illusion of

that there

futile.

child that boxes were

a

as

ing in is

it

a scientist, Pascal also applied himself to other studies in

which knowledge of principles the

though

therefore broad even

is

empty, and with equal

of quicksilver

by a pressure acting on the

free surface.

the celebrated experiment at Puy-de-D6me,

must be equiFurthermore,

which showed that the

height of the column decreases as the altitude of the apparatus increases,

The

proved that the pressure



vacuum

existence of the

affirmed nor denied

on the

is

caused by the atmosphere.

or the weight of air can neither be

basis of principles.

Geometric mind, discriminating mind, and experimental method all

these are

modes

of investigation that require different intel-

endowments. Pascal did not describe them or speculate on them from the standpoint of an outsider but entered into each mode with enthusiasm and passion. He was able to make a sharp

lectual

distinction 1

between these modes of investigation because of

Pensees (references are to numbers in Brunschvicg's edition).

his

PASCAL

129

experience with each of them. His success was prodigious in each instance,

and

in a

few years he had managed

to

break

new ground

everywhere. In mathematics he created the calculus of probabilities,

and one of

his

remarks about curves on a characteristic triangle

suggested to Leibniz the procedure for the infinitesimal calculus. In physics his

work with

and barometry provided the

hydrostatics

stimulus for the study of the mechanics of fluids.

Adjusting the mind to the domain of the objects studied

key

A

to Pascal's approach.

will be

"wrong and

geometer Pascal learned Chevalier de la

mind

"right" in

if

it

changes

its

its

the

own domain domain. The

through his association with the

this

Mere and

is

that

insufferable"

is

other

men

of the world.

had sound judgment about manners and

Many of them Had they

personalities.

reasoned like a geometer in reaching their convictions? Reasoned, yes; like a geometer, no.

The geometer

ber of principles; each principle has is

uses a large but finite

its

own

distinct formulation,

grasped perfectly by any attentive mind, and

other principle and to the conclusion. But the is

num-

is

linked to every

man

of the world

not interested in these principles since they are of no use to him.

His principles are "in

How

common

would he engage

usage and there for everyone to see."

in geometric reasoning, using principles

"which are sensed rather than known" and which can be communicated

numerous

to others only

"with

that demonstrating

infinite pains,"

them

with principles so

in an orderly fashion

would

be "an infinite thing," with principles that cannot be formulated distinctly since

"no

man

is

capable of expressing them"?

of the world does reason, but "he does

This

is

because he

is

endowed with

a

it

The man

tacitly, naturally, artlessly."

mind

quite different

from the

geometric mind, the "discriminating mind" that consists primarily in "seeing the thing at a glance

and not through progressive reason-

ing.

The

discovery of the discriminating

mind

is

of capital impor-

Here we have an authentic type of reasoning which bears almost the same relation to geometric reasoning as Cavalieri's

tance.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

130

principle of indivisibles bears

mathematics; the relation

is

and the

the inexpressible

Pascal isolated

that

to

the calculus of finite

between the

expressible, intuition

discourse.

"mind" depends on

lems in is

to

for

its

judge

man

but to estimate

man.

On

its

and we must

as a specialist,

it

as a

worth in

also

this point Descartes

this

determine

gence employing a single method. Pascal acted as a concluded that to be productive in exclusive:

its

of

only

worth

its

single

all

intelli-

specialist

and

domain, a mind must be

men

"Geometers rarely have discriminating minds and

with discriminating minds are rarely geometers."

men

way

did not hesitate:

judgment because they represent a

sciences fortify

from

The worth

appropriateness to the solution of prob-

its

own domain;

for a

of the intellect. But

another point of view he associated and compared. a

in

finite,

and separated, whereas Descartes searched

method grounded on the unity

unity of

and

sums

and the

infinite

Is

it

good

for

them away from man, I saw that he is not fitted for abstract sciences and that I deviated farther from my condition by immersing myself in them than did others by ignoring them" (144). to devote themselves to studies

more important

tasks?

"When

that take

began

I

to study

Pascal devoted himself to the "science of

man"

only after he had

undertaken his apology for the Catholic religion. This science and the apology

are interconnected in his

poses problems

without

it,

He

cannot understand himself. In the to

solve Pascal

nature

Christianity;

new problem

remained wholly

faithful to

searched for a solution that would conform to every

circumstance and omit none. relation to the

Human

which can be solved only by revealed

man

which he undertook his genius.

thinking.

problem of

The

man

revelation of Christ has the

as the

or triangular

numbers

solution to the

problem will never come through analysis of

to

same

mystic hexagram to conies the

the center of gravity of cycloids;

no matter how penetrating. Original

notions,

whose

its

data

relation

to

the question can be understood only by exceptional minds,

must

be found or forged. Such notions do not have the Cartesian

intel-

ligibility that pertains to

notions considered independently; through

PASCAL

131

them other things are intelligible. The same thing applies in the science of man. Here too, here especially, the solution must come from without

—from

according to our

the Christian religion which,

human

alone capable of

criteria, is

unintelligible

making man

comprehensible to himself. Criticism of Principles

11

He we arrive at the element common to tions. He abhorred principles which could

all

of Pascal's specula-

be applied indiscrimi-

and from which everything could be deduced. His antipathy

nately

toward the

Jesuits' casuistry

stemmed

even from contempt for lax morals.

from partisanship nor

neither

He

men

detested the fact that

of their capabilities were adept at finding the subterfuge through

which they could

way

in this

relate

any action

abominable

justify

to

an established principle and

And

offenses.

in the Provincial Letters does not differ,

his criticism of

from

them

certain points of

view, from the criticism of Descartes' physics which he expressed

"We must

in his

Thoughts:

figure

and motion,

for

compose the machine

it is

is

say

summarily that

what

true; but to say

ridiculous, for

this is

made by

these are

and

useless, uncertain,

it is

to

and

painful" (79). Principles which are sufficiently universal to apply to everything, such as Descartes' mechanics, explain

nothing with

certainty.

But Descartes was wrong in thinking that he could principles intelligible in themselves

and

relate to

them

start

his

from whole

chain of deductions. His mistake was the same as that of the

who

atomists

make up

believed they could

the whole

first

identify the elements that

and then reconstruct the whole by juxtaposing

the parts, for "the parts of the world are to

one another that

I

deem

it

impossible to

other and without the whole" (72)

atom is

no

and

is

illusory.

less

But the

what

a

.

The

and linked

so related

know one

without the

intelligibility of

intelligibility of Descartes'

Gassendi's

simple nature

"man cannot understand what a body is, mind is, and less than anything else how a

illusory, for

still less

all

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

132

body can be joined

to a

anything

at first principles in

nature.

Man,

with the

mind"

The

(72).

reflects

in the order of nature,

Infinite,

is

impossibility of arriving

a radical defect in

an All in comparison with Nothing, a mean

between nothing and everything." Furthermore, "his the

same position

world of thought

in the

as his

the expanse of nature. All he can do, then,

how

things look

either their

What

human

"a Nothing in comparison

from the

body occupies in

to gain

is

intellect holds

some idea

of

knowing

center, in eternal despair of

beginning or their end."

are the "principles"

of departure for

which

are supposed to serve as a point

human knowledge and which

Pascal himself often

mentioned in connection with the geometric or discriminating

mind? The axioms and a

principles in

strict

definitions of Euclid cannot be classed as

sense,

for

the perfection of the geometric

method would require defining and demonstrating everything

We

—an

when confronted with indefinable and indemonstrable principles. Which of these is not suspect? Can we appeal to nature? "But there is no principle, however natural it may seem to be and even if it dates from childhood, that may not be a false impression attributable either to instruction or to infinite

undertaking.

have

to stop

the senses" (82). Descartes thought that he

had

established a clear

between nature and custom through methodical doubt.

distinction

Pascal allied himself with Montaigne

and the Pyrrhonians: "What

are our natural principles but principles based

ent custom

would

nature that destroys the

not natural?

I

first.

But what

is

Custom

nature?

greatly fear that this nature

A

on custom?

result in different principles.

is itself

is

Why

differ-

a second

is

a first

custom custom"

(9 2 >39)-

Here

Pascal's criticism of principles did not disagree with the

use to which he put that they

them

in geometry

and

in physics, for he said

were not absolute beginnings and that they were not

intelligible in themselves.

But nothing (and

and geometry) prevented

their being perfectly fitted to their role,

which was

to

account for a certain

through reason, such

number

this

is

true of physics

of properties

as the properties of conical sections, or

known through

PASCAL

133

column of quicksilver

observation, such as the height of the

"We

barometer.

always find that the thing to be proven

and the thing used

to

Pascal could break

source of knowledge

prove

it

obscure

clear."

away from Pyrrhonism only by and

is

in a

virtue of the

certainty that he called heart or, less fre-

quently, intelligence. Heart or intelligence contrasts with reason

which, in the language of Pascal, means reasoning or discourse in

knowledge of consequences. Reason "can be bent

general, the

(274), for the conclusion

direction"

premises received from other sources. in the sphere of principles

the heart" (278)

The

in

who

is

knowledge "sensible to

and the axioms of geometry. "The heart

But was he not

any

determined by

is

heart provides

—knowledge of God

that there are three dimensions in infinite."

reaches

it

space and that

senses

numbers

in a sense contradicting himself

he accepted both the views of the Pyrrhonians and, under the

are

when name

of heart, a particular faculty for arriving at principles with cer-

By

tainty?

edge

of

heart he

principles,

knowledge

that

meant not a but

a

certain

faculty for acquiring

manner

of

knowl-

accommodating

would otherwise remain "uncertain and

unsettled."

Pascal often contrasted the faith of simple people, strong and sure,

with the discourses of philosophers strate the existence of

how

God.

logical, are of little

who

He knew

used reason to demon-

that discourses,

use in winning over the impious: "meta-

physical proofs are so remote

from the reasoning of men and

involved that they are not very convincing; and use to some,

it

an hour

Thus

one thing to

is

if

they

may

so

be of

can only be during the time they witness the demon-

stration, for it

no matter

another to sense

it

later they are afraid of

know

being mistaken" (543).

truth through reason

and quite

through the heart. Because principles are sensed

as the believer senses

God, the geometer can surmount Pyrrhonism.

Pascal the Apologist

in

Pascal's religious apologetic therefore

is

not a demonstration of

the truth of the Christian religion, or rather his demonstration

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

134

(the traditional one through the

Old Testament and

but one part of a demonstration, the part

is

main stream

in the set

of tradition.

But when he had

to prove, as

out to do, that the Christian religion answered

truth.

Why

to that of

should

many

its

all

human

truth superior

method

revelation

is

heart

and

that

known

its

divine grace. In the

is

on the Vacuum, composed before

Treatise

Thoughts, he wrote the well that the only

its

other Christians, that the only proof

of the truths of the Christian religion

the

he

of man's

other religions that are the fruit of our prejudices?

only means of access to the to

make

perfect expedience

Pascal knew, along with

preface

all

and completely, expedience took precedence over

needs, uniquely

is

the miracles)

where he remained

his

pages in which he revealed

of investigation of truth in religious matters

based on authority which has

its

source in

God

himself. In his

Thoughts he treated revealed truths concerning our supernatural destiny

and meditation on Christ

If traditional

the

same

would be

as a

datum

or point of departure.

proofs in the form of miracles or prophecies were

in nature as geometric proofs, the rest of the apologetic useless.

But these proofs are such that they cannot con-

vince the unbeliever; through reveals about himself;

and

them God

that

is

why

conceals as

faith

much

as

he

remains meritorious

and depends on grace rather than on reason. Accordingly, instead of using proofs

when he

addressed the

unbeliever, he had to show that only the Christian religion can make man comprehensible to himself. He therefore had to make man desire truth, to "free him from passions and prepare him to

may find man must know

follow truth wherever he

But for

this,

Descartes, man's nature

is

it."

his

own

nature. According to

revealed to the philosopher gradually,

according to the order of reasons. Pascal, on the other hand, tried to concentrate all of

experience which of his nature.

man's knowledge of himself into a unique

would

"When we

reveal to

him simultaneously

every facet

seek effectively to reprove someone and

show him that he is wrong, we must take note of the standpoint from which he is observing a thing, for from that angle it is gen-

PASCAL

135

and we must admit

erally true,

him

tried before

judge

He

This

is

who

maintained,

in his "thought"

is

things, even including his

all

(9).

criticism of those

his

determine the nature of man.

to

with Epictetus, that man's greatness his faculty to

him"

that truth to

on which Pascal based

the principle

own

—that

is,

weakness;

but the Stoics were ignorant of man's wretchedness and, consequently, their doctrine

words were directed control.

Montaigne was

and

ness

is

frailty of

and

ineffective

their advice sterile; their

man

to a fictitious

right, therefore,

when he showed

man, duped constantly by

cepting as natural justice something that

endowed with

country,

capable of absolute

is

self-

the weak-

his imagination, ac-

merely a custom of his

a mental volubility that makes him

in-

capable of choosing an exact point from which he could see himself

and nature

in the right perspective, so enslaved to opinion that

he attaches more importance

him than

to

the "last act

of the

and

.

.

.

is

the

taigne into his

is,

subject to afflictions

always tragic, no matter

comedy may

that

judgments that others pass on

to the

what he himself

be. Finally

end of

own

some

dirt is

Pascal put

it all."

all

he

finally

toward

without

and

fear

tranquillity of soul that the Stoics

tain

through opposing paths

certain traits

Mon-

is

why, through

selfit,

from the

is

without

remorse; ... he

and Montaigne

illusory

because, by eliminating

made

picture, they

(63).

tried to at-

it

more coherent than

is.

Here, too, there must be a is

his head,

and indolent manner"

The

what

thrown over

the substance of

the "foolish things" he said as a result of

all

salvation,

actually

beautiful the rest

reached a state worse than despair, an "indifference

thinks only of dying in a cowardly

it

to death,

work. Yet Montaigne's vision was defective, for

he was ignorant of man's grandeur. That

complacency and

how

and

asserted with equal veracity.

and contradiction: a

unified experience.

total,

stated as true concerning

Man

is

entail

an

matter

the epitome of incoherence

tragic incoherence

vealed to us as in a painting which

most would

No

man, the opposite can always be

intellectual

we

inasmuch

as

it

is

not

re-

could ignore or which at

dissatisfaction;

it

touches our

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

136

innermost being;

eliminates the very basis of our moral

it

life,

—the confidence of the Stoic as well —leaving us bewildered and

every vestige of our assurance

as the nonchalance of the Skeptic

"What kind

oriented.

how

contradictory,

of

how

myth

Many

philosophers

and a

titanic part

prehensible in

how

chaotic,

things, a senseless

(after the

riff-raff

Orphics) had, of course, looked

merely to

by attributing

it

make

celestial part

The new

the situation com-

to the order of

to his logical place in the

nature and

descending hierarchy of

vision of the universe that the Renaissance

had engendered made

this

relation to the totality of nature im-

possible. In the terrifying silence of infinite space, lost in the

man

of nature,

He

destiny.

is

nothing.

He knows

realm

neither his origin nor his

can no longer find support in the chimerical image

of a finite, ordered universe in

which

He has to fall back upon himself. What does he find in himself? had the

and

of the universe."

engaged in a struggle; but they had intended

itself

man

living beings.

new,

all

an intermediate being composed of a

as

(especially the Neo-Platonists)

assigning

How

truth, a cesspool of uncertainty

crowning glory and the

upon man

man?

is

prodigious! Judge of

earthworm; a storehouse of error; the

dis-

His



"foolish plan" of depicting

and which

the center of everything

his place

own

a self

is

is

self,

clearly indicated.

which Montaigne

which seeks

at the

to

become

same time unjust and

may

irritating so far as others are concerned. Reciprocal politeness

indeed remove false,

for

irritation,

man

from the

possible

Whenever he

is

but not injustice (455). But even this

seeks through "diversion" to escape as self

to

which he

sacrifices

diversions prevent us that

fragile

we

(139).

love so

and thousands of other

from thinking about the weakness of the

much. But

and deceptive. The truth

to us to be

everything

is

as

alone with himself, he lives in an intolerable state

of boredom. Conversations, games, reading,

self

much

remedies actually are

these external supports are also is

that the diversions that

much worse

seem

than boredom, for

they "take us farther than anything else from the search for the

cure to our

ills."

The

result

is

that

man, constantly

tossed

from

self

PASCAL

137

and from things

to things

to self, searches in vain for happiness

"without ever finding contentment because in creatures but only in

This portrait of tianity.

It

suffering

human

destiny of

neither in us nor

is

owes nothing

separated

clearly

to Pascal's Chris-

from the

His interpretation of the portrait

offers.

of

human

must be

it

God."

every aspect

as follows:

is

he

interpretation

nature can be explained in terms of the supernatural

man

The

revealed through Christianity.

deluded by the notion that there

is

philosopher was

which everything

a nature to

We must change our perspective and see man in the drama in which he is an actor: his grandeur which derives from his divine origin, his wretchedness which originated with the fall of Adam whose children can no longer resist concan be related. supernatural

cupiscence,

and

hope of salvation through the redemption of

his

whose absence knowledge

Jesus Christ in

man. In keeping with the

use to

ascribed a purely internal

drama

of creation,

fall,

we

seen and which

and

God would

of

be of no

age and milieu, Pascal

spirit of his

religious significance to the three-act

and redemption which we have frame (we

shall again see as the

monotonous rhythm of station-procession-conversion)

so often

the

recall

com-

for the

prehensive representation of the universe.

The is

close correlation

between Christianity and human nature

the thing that Pascal sought to emphasize, the thing that could

the freethinker to religion.

attract

Man

wager (333).

his

celebrated

has a penchant for gambling, and the gambler

naturally places his bet in other respects,

This explains

on the

table where,

the odds are

if

all

equal

he has a chance to win the most. Suppose the odds

are equal with respect to the truth or falsity of the Christian reli-

gion. Suppose truth:

I

I

place

my

wager

give myself over to

pay no heed

to the

demands

duties that can procure for

my

gain or

from gion

all

my

loss in

all

first

on

its falsity

of the Christian

me

or

my

if I

net gain,

and find

when compared with

its

and

perform the

I

Now we

each instance:

nothing

life,

eternal salvation.

the painful duties of the Christian

is false, is

and then on

the pleasures of concupiscence

compute

free myself

that the reli-

the eternal salvation

I38 that

I

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY can obtain by leading a Christian

true. Since the odds favoring falsity are

to place

presumed

my

to

wager on

be equal, its

truth.

it

is

Man

life

and finding

that

obviously to is

my

it

will

make you

believe

and

work

of

God

and

"Take

will stupefy you." Pascal

was not concerned with transforming human nature, the

its

advantage

a creature of custom

imagination. True religion must also become a custom.

holy water;

it is

and the odds favoring

truth

its

alone and of his grace.

He

for this

is

sought simply to

bring to light the points through which Christian truth could gain access to this corrupt

and decayed nature. For

not the art of demonstration (as

we noted

this

purpose he used

earlier,

the proofs of

religion are for believers), but the art of persuasion, adjusted to

the hearer's disposition conviction, since

men

and "based

are governed

as

much on

more by

acquiescence as on

caprice than by reason."

Bibliography Texts Pascal, Blaise. (Euvres completes. Edited

by L. Brunschvicg,

P. Boutroux,

and

F. Gazier. 14 vols. Paris, 1904-14.

(Euvres completes. Edited by J. Chevalier. Paris, i960. (Euvres completes. Edited by L. Lafuma. Paris, 1963. Thoughts, Letters, and Opuscules. Translated by O.

.

.

.

W.

Wright.

Boston, 1888.

The Great Shorter Wor\s

.

J.

of Pascal. Translated

C. Blankenagel. Philadelphia, 1948. Pensees and The Provincial Letters. Translated by .

New

T. McCrie.

York, 1941. Pensees. Translated by H. F. Stewart. 2d ed.

.

Cailliet

and

F. Trotter

and

by E.

W.

New York,

1965.

Studies M. Pascal: The Life of Genius. New York, 1936. Blanchet, L. "L'attitude religieuse des Jesuites et les sources

Bishop,

Revue de metaphysique

du

pari de Pascal,"

de morale, 1919. Boutroux, E. Pascal. Translated by E. M. Clark. Manchester, 1902. Brunschvicg, L. Le genie de Pascal. Paris, 1924. .

et

Pascal. Rieder, 1932.

Blaise Pascal. Edited by G. Lewis. Paris, 1953.

.

Cailliet, E. Pascal:

Chevalier, .

J.

The Emergence

of Genius.

2d

ed. Gloucester, Mass., 1961.

Pascal. Paris, 1922.

"La methode de connaitre d'apres Pascal," Revue de metaphysique,

1923.

Fletcher, F. T.

H. Pascal and the Mystical Tradition. Oxford,

Giraud, V. Pascal, .

Vhomme,

1954.

I'oeuvre, I'influence. Fribourg, 1898.

"La modernite des Pensees de Pascal," Annales de philosophic

chretienne, 1906. -.

Blaise Pascal, etudes d'histoire morale. Paris, 1910.

Goldmann,

L. Correspondance de Martin

Paris, 1956. .

The Hidden God. London,

Hatzfeld, A. Pascal. Paris, 190 1.

139

1963.

de Barcos, abbe de Saint-Cyran.

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A.,

Jolivet,

Romeyer, and

B.

J.

Souilhe.

on

Studies

Pascal.

Archives de

philosophic 1923. Jovy, E. Etudes pascaliennes. 5 vols. Paris, 1927-28. Lacombe, R. E. L'apologetique de Pascal, etude critique. Paris, 1958. Lahorgue, P. M. Le realisme de Pascal. Paris, 1924. Laporte,

J.

"Pascal et la doctrine de Port-Royal,"

Revue de metaphysique,

1923.

he

.

coeur et la raison selon Pascal. Paris, 1950.

Lhermet, J. Pascal et la Bible. Paris (no date). Maire, A. Bibliographic generate des ceuvres de Pascal. 5 vols. Paris, 1928. L'oeuvre scientifique de Blaise Pascal. Paris, 1912. Malvy, A. Pascal et le probleme de la croyance. Paris, 1923. Mesnard, J. Pascal: His Life and Wor\s. New York, 1952. Mortimer, Ernest. Blaise Pascal: The Life and Wor\ of a Realist. New York .

1959.

Rauh, F. "La philosophie de Pascal," Revue de metaphysique, 1923. Ravaisson, F. "La philosophie de Pascal," Revue des deux-mondes, 1887. Russier,

J.

La

Souriau, P.

foi selon Pascal. 1 vols. Paris, 1949.

L ombre de Dieu. Paris,

Stewart, H. F.

The

1955.

Secret of Pascal. Cambridge, 194 1.

Strowski, F. Pascal et son temps. 3 vols. Paris, 1907-9. Vinet, A. Etudes sur Pascal. 2d ed. Paris, 1856.

Webb,

C. Pascal's Philosophy of Religion. Oxford, 1929.

Blaise Pascal,

I'homme

Paris, 1956.

et l'oeuvre.

(Cahiers de Royaumont, Philosophie,

I.)

THOMAS HOBBES born in 1588

He

son of a clergyman.

become private onshire).

He

fruit of this period

A

second

quam

sit

Oxford in 1608

his pupil to

France and

to

Italy in 1610

until 1628, the year of his death.

was

the

William Cavendish (Lord Dev-

The

only

Thucydides, of which

his translation of

later in his versified

visit to

Thomas Hobbes was

the University of

left

accompanied

ostendit mihi

Westport,

tutor to the son of

and remained near him he was to say

at

autobiography: "Is democratia

inepta."

France lasted from 1629 until 1631. Not until

then did he become acquainted with Euclid's Elements, which was to serve thereafter as his

1634 to 1637, brought

model.

him

A

third visit to the continent,

into contact with

Mersenne and

from

all his

learned associates in Paris, and with Galileo near Florence. In 1640 he wrote

The Elements

Law, Natural and

of

Politic, the first

formulation of his philosophical and political system. In 1650 the

manuscript was published, without his approval,

works

{Human Nature and De

whole was not published

corpore politico).

as

two separate

The work

as a

until 1889.

In 1640, believing that he was in danger because of his royalist convictions, he fled to France,

was crowned kind of the Scots Paris in 1642

and Leviathan

eight years of his

life

141

in

where he resided in 1651.

in 1651.

He

During

England he spent

until Charles II

published

De

ciue in

the remaining twenty-

his energies in polemics

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

I42

with theologians, scholars, and politicians: with John Bramhall, the

whom

Arminian bishop of Londonderry, against

he upheld the

who

doctrine of determinism; with the mathematician John Wallis, in his Elenchus geometriae hobbianae (1655)

the mathematical errors in

De

with the physicist Robert Boyle,

who was

Hobbes because

Society, closed to

a

examined

ruthlessly

same

corpore, published the

member

year;

of the Royal

of his aversion to experience;

Edward Hyde and several bishops who accused "for making the Church dependent on he said by way of justification. He died in 1679.

with Chancellor

him the

and heresy

of atheism

Crown,"

as

Hobbes gave the following account of the ical investigations at

the time he published

already advanced far

enough

In the

dealt with bodies

first

of these

in the second faculties,

I

and

I

to divide

man from

studied

his affections;

and

for meditation the social polity

The

was

state of his

De

my work and

:

"I

had

into three sections.

their general properties;

a particular point of view, his

in the last part,

and the

used

I

duties of those

it.

first

philosophy and some elements of physics; here

that the first part included

as a basis

who com-

what

pose

result

philosoph-

cive (1642)

I

is

called

tried

to

discover the reasons for time, place, causes, powers, relation, proportion, quantity, figure,

memory,

imagination,

honesty, dishonesty,

homine, and plan

fails to

De

and motion. In the second

intellect,

I

considered

reason, appetite, will, good, evil,

and other things of

this sort."

De

corpore,

cive are the titles of the three sections.

give any indication of the

thought was actually shaped.

manner

He had

in

But

De this

which Hobbes's

no idea of presenting a

when he composed The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic in 1640. In this political treatise, which covers the same ground as De cive, he makes no reference systematic outline of his philosophy

at all to the first

had begun political

to

two

parts of his philosophy. Finally, although he

conceive and execute his general plan after 1640,

circumstances caused

before he published the

De homine

(still

the preface to

De

first

him

to publish

two

parts:

fragmentary) in 1658. cive that "there

De

cive in 1644, long

De corpore in And he stated

was no danger in

1655,

and

plainly in

this reversal

THOMAS HOBBES

143

of the order, for principles,

it

was

which are

no need of the

first

The common

clear that this part,

two

own

its

had

experience,

parts."

link between his physics

and deductive

constructive

grounded on

known through

sufficiently

and

his politics

his

is

In each of the two areas Hobbes

spirit.

begins by defining precisely the terms or notions that he will use

order that

in

may be

consequences subsequently

all

through simple reasoning. Philosophy

we

or appearances, as

is

acquire by true ratiocination

ratiocinationem) from the knowledge

we have

first

(per rectam

and again, of such causes or generations

from knowing

their effects."

by which we Still,

know

and ...

things]

the

against empirical

may

be

empiricist: "Sense [is] the principle

those principles [by

all

as

1

Hobbes was an

course,

effects

of their causes

or generation;

Of

explained

"such knowledge of

which we know

knowledge we have

is

knowledge based on the

other

all

derived from

it."

2

association of ideas

and on the expectation of a future conforming

to

the past

and

suggesting prudence, he set purely rational knowledge in the form

wisdom

of

or science. Such rational

knowledge begins with the

use of signs, which are the words of our language. appellation

...

to bring to his

is

the voice of a

man

arbitrarily

it is

words

truth, error, reasoning acquire

imposed."

proposition

the subject

is

meaning.

said to be true or false,

depending upon whether

and the predicate designate the same thing. "A

has three sides" means "this thing which has three angles

thing which has three sides."

tical to this

finally to link

same thing

we

use

two names by

as the first

numbers

things themselves. 1 2 3

in

two.

is

iden-

syllogism enables us

We

use

names

in our reasoning, just as

our calculations, without ever considering

That

is

317.

Elements of Law, chap,

A

triangle

virtue of a third that designates the

why,

Opera philosophica, ed. Molesworth, Ibid., p.

or

mark

mind some conception concerning the thing on 3 Thanks to speech and to speech alone, the

which

A

"A name

imposed, for a

v, sec. 2.

I,

in spite of the continual flux of 2.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

144

we

experience, distinct

reach

definite,

knowledge

certain

that

is

quite

from empirical knowledge.

The philosophy

of nature outlined in

De

corpore might be called

"motionalism," according to one of Hobbes' recent interpreters:

"Hobbes

is

the philosopher of motion, just as Descartes

is

the

disregard logic) includes three parts:

first

philosopher of extension."

His philosophy

(if

we

4

philosophy, which shows the elements that comprise the notion of bodies, the theory of

motion {de rationibus motuum

we

tudinum), and physics. First explain mechanically the

way

human body and produce

consider physics,

et

which aims

which external bodies

in

perceptions

magnito

affect the

and related phenomena.

Affected by the motions of external objects, the senses are set in

motion, and their motion

is

transmitted by the brain to the heart;

here begins a reactive motion in the opposite direction; the onset (conatus) of the reactive motion in the heart

is

the basis of sensa-

tion. Sensible qualities, sounds, odors, tastes, etc. are

merely modi-

fications of the affected subject, not properties of things.

association of ideas, pleasure

We

and pain

Memory,

are connected with sensation.

have memory when the motion which produced sensation con-

tinues in the absence of an object,

between two

establishes a link

association

when

experience

sensitive motions, pleasure or pain

depending upon whether the flow of the blood

is

facilitated or

impaired by sensible impressions. Hobbes's physics

is

not, strictly speaking, a study of the external

laws of nature, as in Galileo and Descartes, but a mechanical theory of perception

composed

was intended on animal cepts,

and of mind. This was true from the time Hobbes work,

his first to

spirits

his Short Tract

show how

on First Principles, which

species given off

whose motions

by bodies act

locally

in turn constitute sensations, con-

and judgments.

Thus when we

see that in the first

two

parts of

De

corpore

Hobbes, under the influence of Galileo and Descartes, superimposed *Frithiof

Brandt,

hagen, 1928),

p.

378,

Thomas Hobbes' Mechanical Conception

of

Nature

(Copen-

THOMAS HOBBES

145

on

and motion,

his physics the study of general notions of bodies

we must

bear in

mind

that his

aim was not

to achieve a

compre-

hensive view of the universe but rather to lay a foundation for his

The

mechanical theory of mind.

notions of body

having no dependence on our thought,

is

which

("that,

coincident or co-extended

with some part of space"), space ("the phantasm of a thing existing without the mind simply"), and time ("the phantasm of before

and

after in

Descartes,

motion") are not very original.

always be at

to

remain

at

is

manner, whatsoever

like

it

is

it

to rest"

(p.

But he

115).

moved,

(like Galileo) that

to rectilinear

his

it

on

(p. 215).

By

made through

De

of motion,

the

same token, which

corpore he defined en-

the length of a point,

instant or a point of time." (Similarly, impetus instant.) Later, of course,

so far as to

that of conatus or endeavor,

is

his preoccupations. In

deavor as "motion

and went

applied to circular motion as well as

and uniform motion

most important concept

bears directly

is

and

first

this notion.

consisteth pleasure or pain," he wrote in

this solicitation is the

of animal motion." effort is

We

which

The Elements of Law draw near to

also a solicitation or provocation either to

the thing that pleaseth, or to retire

And

an

used the notion of conatus to

describe the motions of a living being. "This motion, in

(p. 22),

in

speed at a given

mathematicians exploited his infinitesimal

and Leibniz and Spinoza made use of

can be certain that Hobbes

is

will

which

it,

failed to realize the full sig-

nificance of the second part of the principle

assume

by

it,

no longer

always be moved, except there be some other body besides causeth

will

rest

besides

place by motion, suffers

its

... In

at rest.

stated clearly, after

some other body

unless there be

rest,

endeavoring to get into

He

"Whatsoever

the principle of inertia:

made on

He

from the thing

that displeaseth.

endeavor [conatus] or internal beginning

also applied the notion of conatus to the

the eye by the

one of the main points of

medium

that transmits light. This

his discussion

with Descartes on the

subject of optics. Descartes spoke of an "action or inclination to

motion" which he wished

to separate

from motion;

replied that "vision occurs through an action derived

to this

Hobbes

from an

object,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

146

for any action to the eye."

5

the aggregate of

is

is

propagated from light

the endeavors through

all

body supported by the

of a

{De

and a motion

a motion,

is

Generalizing this notion, he concludes that "weight

The

corpore, p. 351).

which

His

it

cive

was published prematurely because of the use

might be put

at that

ple

rest.

with the emotions and concerns of his

politics is suffused

De

downward"

notion of conatus then introduces motion

everywhere, even where there appears to be absolute

era.

the points

all

scale of a balance tend

in

which

to

view of the conditions that existed in England

time (1642). "In England," he explains in his preface, "peo-

were beginning

engage in heated discussions concerning the

to

and the duty of

right of the sovereign

which began

subjects.

several years before the civil

These

presage of the misfortunes that threatened and assailed

Thus, since this last part

I

foresaw the conflagration,

and the two

communicated

it

I

parts that precede

were

fully justified

my

country.

hastened to complete it

a few years ago to only a small

persons." His fears

discussions,

wars broke out, were a

even though

number

had

I

of discreet

by the revolution that abol-

ished the throne (1648).

The

political thesis that

arch.

From

illegitimate.

Hobbes sought

was

construction of society thesis

it

thesis

had gained ascendancy

Hooker denied

power

on a

rational

I;

it

same stand when he made

is

England under

during the reign of Elizabeth the

that a political

or in part, sovereignty that

in

body could recapture,

in

whole

had once relinquished, and he held

that the principle extended even to spiritual power. James

the

mon-

of the

can be deduced that any revolution

this

The

Elizabeth and under James jurist

to establish

that of the absolute

this

I

took

statement concerning the divine

source of his authority: "Whatever relates to the mystery of regal

power ought not

to

be the subject of a debate; this would divest

princes of the mystical veneration that pertains to those seated at the throne of God."

obviously clashes at

all

The

who

are

divine-right theory of sovereignty

points with the theory of the social contract,

which was prevalent during the Middle Ages and which placed 5

"Tractatus Opticus," in

The Elements

of

Law,

ed. Tonnies, p.

171.

THOMAS HOBBES

147

everyone on an equal footing by attributing the birth of society to

an agreement between the people and the monarch. In 1606 the assembly of the Anglican clergy condemned those

"men roamed through woods and them

who

until experience taught

fields

some from

the necessity of government; that they then chose

among them

to

held that

govern the others, and that

power therefore

all

is

derived from the people."

The

novelty and originality of Hobbes's system derives from the

he supported absolutism and

fact that

to the theory of the social contract.

at the

same time subscribed

For he did not believe he could

construct society without the notion of a social contract, any

more

than he could explain the nature of intelligence without speech.

Nor

did he think that the social contract impaired absolutism in

any way.

when

On

the contrary, he believed that the social contract,

rightly interpreted, of necessity led to absolutism.

and

absolutist without being a theologian,

apart I to

from

we must examine

disposition to

we

This

man

most ferocious animals: "Man

Hobbes recognized

in

is

a wolf to

man was

right reason,

ever he

it

savage

we

call

and most right the

conformity to

to use his natural faculties in

man has by nature the right to do whathis own preservation, that is, to do or But at the same time reason shows man

follows that

deems good

for

possess whatever he likes.

that the right to to all other

as

man." The only

the simplest

elementary, the instinct of self-preservation. If

freedom each of us has

according to

false,

is

seeks in a civil society only

him, and people are by nature

to

Most

are born with a certain natural

societies.

that each

is

which seems good

instinct that

from James

the necessity of the social contract.

that

form human

Hobbes. The truth that

was an doctrine

6

political writers believe

as the

He

his

sets

that of the other absolutists of the century,

Bossuet.

First

this

all

things

men, who

is

of

no use

are his equals;

his right, the result will

if

to

him

each

be a war between

since

man all

XV, 436-41.

also belongs

men, which

trary to the preservation of all as well as of each. "Fifth warning to Protestants, ed. Lachat,

it

wishes to exercise

The

is

con-

experience of

I48 civil

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

wars shows that

omnium

bellum

this

contra

omnes

something imaginary but an ever present danger. Nature the instinct of self-preservation

us that for our

own

not

is

—that

is,

—guided by reason, therefore teaches

we must seek peace if it is attainwe must cease trying to exercise our Thus men are constrained by the law of

preservation

able; in our search for peace

own

right in

things.

all

nature and of reason to draw up contracts in which each of the

some

parties divests himself of full

in

freedom

common. Their

contract

is

pact or promise to observe the terms of the

one party has reason

—that

is,

both formerly held

motivated solely by the instinct of self-preservation.

follows that in the state of nature the pact if

and grants the other

of his rights

to exercise the natural right that

if

in

is

to believe that the other

own

he has reason to fear for his

is

of peace, natural

law obliges us

no way binding not observing

preservation.

since compliance with the terms of such contracts

It

is

it

Still,

the guarantee

them and to repay kindit commands us to

to observe

ness with kindness rather than ingratitude;

show clemency;

it

prohibits vengeance, cruelty, insult, pride;

commands moderation and

equity;

it

differences to impartial judges. All these laws are

some moral

instinct or universal consent

which searches for means of because they are conclusions

Reason shows that the

They

self-preservation.

drawn from

deduced not from

but from right reason

immutable

are

a process of reasoning.

nature and the accomplishment

state of

of natural laws are incompatible. In the state of nature

no motive

for respecting contracts,

antee of peace.

The

must therefore be

which

might

instilled in

result

men—fear

presumed advantage of exercising

men

have

are nevertheless the guar-

only motive for respecting contracts

of the consequences that

it

counsels us to submit our

from

is

the fear

their violation.

keen enough

Fear

to offset the

their natural right over all things.

That is precisely the problem which the social state must resolve, and the conditions of the problem will determine the character of this state.

Here reason alone

together in a civil society. is

why animal

societies

Men

are in

speaks, for

no

instinct

draws

are not like bees or ants,

men

and that

no way comparable, according

to

THOMAS HOBBES

149

Hobbes,

to civil societies

ment and

made up

of rational beings.

the voluntary consent of

who

is

believe they

and who, through

superfluous,

wars."

know more

follows that there

It

Mutual agree-

are too artificial

and

pre-

some

will always be

For "there

carious in nature to insure peace.

persons

all

than others, whose knowledge

their innovations, stir

must be

up

civil

a single will to control all

things necessary for peace: "This can be done only

if

each individ-

ual submits his will to that of another individual or an assembly

whose counsel absolutely

is

followed

who compose

the body

in matters concerning the general peace

and adopted

as that of all those

of the republic." Natural law, as

we have

seen, dictated that

should relinquish a part of our natural right to

and pushes

state generalizes

law, for

all

authority;

cause

all

The in

men

dictamen of natural

to the limit this

convey to the sovereign the right

to exercise his

and the sovereign acquires such strength

who would

those to tremble

sovereign, whether

which the majority

possession of rights.

it

is

confronted by no multitude in

The multitude if

that he can

break the bonds of concord.

be a single man, a king, or a council

decides,

of unified will or action:

we

things; the social

all

is

not a single subject capable

people do not join together to form

a social body, everything belongs to everyone;

if

they form a social

body, they transfer their natural rights to the sovereign. Conse-

quently the sovereign has the power to coerce, to punish, to war, to

make

laws.

He

wage

outlaws doctrines such as popery or even

many give to the him and which some bishops seek to usurp in their diocese," with the result that many wars break out. He is not himself subject to laws (and we recall

Presbyterianism because of "the authority which

pope in kingdoms that do not belong

that Chancellor

the state above is

to

Bacon had no scruples about all

law). Putting

the welfare of the people

it

another way, his supreme law

—protecting them

mies, promoting internal peace,

and

from a

to

This objection seems natural

it.

contract,

it

against external ene-

facilitating

But the objection might be raised that issues

setting the right of

if

commerce.

the sovereign

can be dissolved by those to those

who

who

power

are parties

seek to ground

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

15O

on nothing

regal authority it

less

than divine right, but in practice

Unanimous consent would be required

has no merit.

This can never be obtained, of course, and

dissolution.

men

number

of

and

are illegitimate.

Even an assembly

He

feared the ignorance of the

assembly with respect to internal

norance of external

affairs,

which can give and

ferred a king

ment

if

"The

folly of the

that deliberated in the

members of more their

still

remain

is

ig-

also

evil,

and

why he

pre-

good the appearance of

That

He

secret.

the

by the king, even though

public assemblies can be a legitimate govern-

its

individuals surrender their natural rights to the body politic.

of States"

One

to

rise to sedition.

a privy council selected

a democracy with

and

affairs

which ought

feared eloquence, which can give factionalism,

revolu-

all

was always suspect

in conformity to the laws

eyes of Hobbes.

its

through the deliberation of a small

tions that are accomplished

publicly

for

(De

people and eloquence contribute to the subversion

cive,

ii,

12, 13).

serious difficulty inherent in his doctrine

between the sovereign and

relation

designate a

power

distinct

from

civil

religion.

remains: the

still

Does not

sovereignty

—a

religion

power

that

exercises complete control over everything relating to eternal salva-

tion? In Hobbes's time such a distinction

was not only a

subject

for discussion but also the cause of serious conflicts all over Europe.

dogma

God

"There

is

human

sciences that does not give rise to dissensions, then to quar-

almost no

rels, to insults,

mas

and

finally to wars.

are false but because

ing a certain

relating to the worship of

man

as

wisdom and wants it

all

liefs

and

his

others to hold is

him

in equally

the concern of the sovereign

threatens civil peace. But even Hobbes, bold

indefatigable arguer that he was, radical solution

This happens, not because dog-

by nature prides himself on possess-

high esteem." Clearly, then, religion

inasmuch

or to

—to

was reluctant

to

permit the sovereign to impose his

own form

and

advocate one

own

of worship on everyone. "I do not see

be-

why

he would allow anyone to teach and do things which in his judg-

ment would

entail eternal

wish

entangled in resolving this

to get

damnation," says Hobbes; "but difficulty."

The

I

do not

difficulty

THOMAS HOBBES

151

in a country like England,

was indeed great

governed Protestant

Though he

subjects.

where Catholic kings

disregarded the individual

opinion of the sovereign, he nevertheless asserted that the state

form of worship,

institute a unique, obligatory

the most

must

"for otherwise all

absurd opinions relating to the Divinity

and

all

the most

impertinent and ridiculous ceremonies that have ever been seen

would be found was

in a single

The

only restriction he imposed

must not obey a sovereign who commands him

that a subject

God and

to revile

city.'*

to

worship instead a

man on whom

he has con-

ferred divine attributes.

But (since

was the Christian

his only concern

religion)

do we not

have, either in the Decalogue or in the evangelical precepts, obligatory laws

Here a

which have

logue are

a different source

civil laws, for

makes no

same condition civil

laws that

commandment such

We

"Thou

sense until laws have defined property,

sin, justice,

and

find in the Gospel

yours and what

is

as

Thus it come into

applies to all the others. injustice

the precepts of the Gospel, they are not laws at faith.

that of civil laws?

Moses possessed temporal sovereignty over

the Jews. Furthermore, a steal"

from

must be made: the commandments of the Deca-

distinction

is

no

all,

is

shall

not

and the

only through

existence.

As

for

but an appeal to

rule that allows us to discern

mine, no standard that serves

what

as a basis for

regulating exchange. Therefore the sovereign alone must establish

what

is

just

and what

is

unjust.

In short, the basis of religious harmony, which social

harmony,

raries thought,

is

but conformity.

the same, the

(1651)

is

by the

state

and

critical attitude

is

necessary for

many of Hobbes's contempoThough the doctrine of Leviathan

not tolerance, as

title

refers to the gigantic

reveals even

more

toward the Church.

clearly than

He

was

power represented

De

cive Hobbes's

so critical, in fact, that

even though he could pass for the stanchest supporter of the royalist

cause, he

had

to

break with the English royalist party, which

counted on the Anglican church to insure Hobbes's "naturalism" in as his "materialism."

its

success.

political matters

Both are expressed in

is

essentially the

his rationalism,

same

which

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

152 consists

enough

in

reducing "nature" to elements simple and tractable

them

for us to use

storing concrete realities

and

self-preservation

:

in a process of deduction capable of re-

body and motion on the one hand,

instinct

Hobbes required nothing

else for

on the

other.

the construction of his system of physics

seventeenth century," said Nietzsche, therefore of will."

No

"is

and of

politics.

the century of reason

one provides better

justification

idea than Hobbes: he was the logician of politics, the tried

with

unequaled determination

but he was also

—a passionate ated

man who

—and

this

man who

"The

to

untangle

for

and this

man who

incoherencies;

accounts for the severe beauty of

De ewe

could dominate his passions, an opinion-

could examine even his most cherished opinions in

the light of clear reason.

Bibliography Texts

W.

Hobbes, Thomas. Wor\s. Edited by

Molesworth. 16

vols.

London, 1839-

45.

Selections. Edited

by F.

E.

J.

Woodbridge. Reprinted:

New

York,

1959. .

.

.

La

Body, Man, and Citizen. Edited by R. S. Peters. New York, 1962. The Elements of Law, Edited by F. Tonnies. 2d ed. Cambridge, 1928. The Metaphysical System of Hobbes. Edited by M. W. Calkins. 2d ed.

Salle,

The

.

111.,

1948.

Citizen.

Edited by

S.

P.

Lamprecht.

New

ed.

New

York,

1962. .

Leviathan. Edited by Michael Oakeshott. Oxford, 1946.

Studies Bowie,

Hobbes and His Critics: London, 1951.

J.

A

Study of Seventeenth-century Con-

stitutionalism.

Thomas Hobbes' Mechanical Conception of Nature. London, 1928. Thomas Hobbes. Kiel, 1895. Dewey, John. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes. (Studies in the History Brandt, F.

Brandt, G. Grundlinien der Philosophic von of Ideas, Vol.

Gough, ed.

J.

W. The

I.)

New York,

19 18.

Social Contract:

A

Critical

Study of

Its

Development. Rev.

Oxford, 1956.

Honigswald, R. "Uber Thomas Hobbes' systematische Stellung," Kantstudien,

XIX

(1914).

Hobbes und die Staatsphilosophie. Munich, 1934. Hood, F. C. The Divine Politics of Thomas Hobbes. New York, Laird, J. Hobbes. London, 1934. .

1964.

Landry, B. Hobbes. Paris, 1930. Levi, A. La filosofia di Tommaso Hobbes. Milan, 1929. Lyon, G. La philosophic de Hobbes. Paris, 1893.

Macdonald, H., and M. Hargreaves. Thomas Hobbes:

A

Bibliography. London,

1952.

Macpherson, C. B. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Loc\e. A/ew York, 1962. Mintz, S. I. The Hunting of Leviathan. London, 1962.

153

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

154

Peters, R. S.

Hobbes. London, 1956.

Polin, R. Politique et philosophic chez

Thomas Hobbes.

Paris, 1952.

Robertson, G. C. Hobbes. London, 1886. Sortais,

G. La philosophic moderne depuis Bacon jusqu'a Leibniz. 3 Vol II, Hobbes.

vols.

Paris, 1920-29.

Stephen, Leslie. Hobbes. London, 1904. Strauss, Leo.

New

The

Political

Philosophy of Hobbes. Translated by E. Sinclair.

ed. Chicago, 1963.

Thomas Hobbes. London, 1908. Thomas Hobbes: Leben und Lehre. 3d ed. Stuttgart, 1925. Warrender, Howard. The Political Philosophy of Hobbes. Oxford, 1957. Taylor, A. E.

Tonnies, F.

Watkins,

J.

Zagorin, P.

W. N. Hobbes' s System

A

of Ideas.

London,

1954.

Hobbes

1965.

History of Political Thought in the English Revolution. London,

Studies. Edited

by K. Brown. Oxford, 1965.

I VI} SPINOZA i

Life,

Background, and Wor\s the circumstances

relating to the life

and back-

ground of Spinoza are complex. Born into the Jewish community in

Amsterdam, he was influenced by

details of

which are

his religious heritage, certain

particularly interesting.

He

descended from

Portuguese Jews who, along with their Spanish brothers, settled in

Amsterdam toward

brought with them a in the Netherlands.

who were of 1492 but

the

Most

compelled

end of the sixteenth century. They

spirit quite different

to

of

from

that of the Jews

them descended from Marranos

—men

embrace Catholicism by Ferdinand's

who remained Jews

at heart.

Under

edict

these circumstances

the traditional teaching of their religion was denied

them and they

knew nothing about Hebrew or the Talmudic commentaries on the Bible. In Amsterdam they found a community in which the mysticism of the Cabala was studied almost exclusively and the profane sciences were neglected. This explains the dissension that existed

among

the Jews in

Amsterdam throughout the first half who knew logic, metaphysics,

of the seventeenth century; those

and medicine da Costa,

resisted rabbinical instruction.

who was born

Holland around

went

161 5,

so far as to write that "the

'55

One

such man, Uriel

Oporto in 1585 and emigrated to denied the immortality of the soul and in

law of Moses

is

a

human

inven-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

156

found between

tion" because of the contradictions that he

it

and

"natural law."

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was the son of a Jewish merchant of

Amsterdam; he received provided for classes

all

the intensive but purely Hebraic training successive

devoted to the learning of Hebrew, the reading of the Books

of Moses, Kings,

Talmud.

He

and the Prophets, and

prepared himself for the

his studies after leaving school.

and

community: seven

the children of the

certain

Crescas,

Jewish

whom

rabbi and continued

office of

Thus he

philosophers

finally the study of the

learned about the Cabala

Middle Ages. Hasdai

the

of

he cited once in his Letters (Ep. XII), taught in the

God

fourteenth century that the perfection of

consists not in

knowl-

edge but in love and that the perfection of a creature depends on his

participation

in

this

love;

this

doctrine,

closely to the beliefs of the Franciscans,

which corresponds

the one found at the end

is

may have been alluding to Maimonides or to a commentator on the Zohar when he spoke of ancient Hebrews who saw that God, his understanding, and the object of this of Spinoza's Ethics. Spinoza

understanding were identical {Ethics,

came

into possession

ii,

of the Plotinian

7,

scholium).

thesis

Thus he

of the identity

of

thought, the thinking subject, and the object conceived.

The

son and grandson of wealthy merchants, he directed the

family business from 1654 to 1656. Excluded from the Jewish com-

munity by the

civil authorities

(and

not, as

it

is

often alleged, by

Amsterdam and went The Hague, where he

the Jewish theologians), he left short time later he

went

to

to Leiden.

lived

on

A

his

earnings as a lens grinder and perhaps on the income from his commercial enterprise

if it is true, as is

after his departure to operate

fore his cles

it

now

believed, that he continued

through an intermediary. Even be-

excommunication he had begun

to

frequent Christian

where he found teachers who introduced him

sciences, as well as friends

and

disciples.

The

cir-

to the profane

physician

Van den

Enden taught him physics, geometry, and Cartesian philosophy. Van den Enden was an adept in the theosophy prevalent in Italy and Germany during the Renaissance and the seventeenth century

SPINOZA

157

which held

that nothing existed apart

from God. Through him

Spinoza became acquainted with Bruno who, a century

had

and the

asserted the unity of substance

and who made a statement

nature,

"The

place in Spinoza's Ethics: attributes,

The

and one of these

Christians with

dependent

traits

noted

is

earlier,

God and

would hardly seem out of

principle

first

attributes

whom

that

identity of

is

infinite in all its

extension."

he associated exhibited the two

earlier:

Christianity

almost

inter-

divested

of

dogma and a spirit of complete tolerance. Briefly, their Christianity was more practical than speculative and put more stress on living according to the precepts of the Gospel than on speculating about the nature of God.

The Mennonites,

for example,

who had

already

been in existence for a century, abstained from any form of violence

and refused

to participate in war, to

assume a public

office,

or to

take an oath; furthermore, they rejected the priesthood and sacra-

ments

—even

baptism

—and

denied

all

dogmas except

the Trinity,

the divine sonship of Christ, and salvation through Christ.

known

as the Collegiants,

among whom Spinoza found

The

sect

friends like

Simon de Vries and Jan Bredenburg, a weaver of Rotterdam, was founded by Jan, Adrian, and Gilbert van der Kodde, after the Synod of Dort (1618-19), on the belief that the Holy Ghost was revealed to every pious man and that there was no need of theologians to interpret the Bible. They were also tolerant enough to accept into their fellowship the Catholics

Such a

members from groups

as divergent as

and the Socinians.

practical

form of Christianity

left

the field open to

gious speculations independent of dogmatic theology. In his veritate

religionis

christianae

(1687)

Philip

reli-

De

van Limborch used

eternal salvation as a basis for classifying the diverse opinions of his era

and he divided

these opinions into three groups: those of

the Christians, those of the Jews, and those of people he called atheists or deists. "I

put these two together," he wrote, "not because

the words 'atheist' and

'deist'

have the same meaning but because

most of the time deism hardly

who

call

differs

from atheism, and those

themselves deists are generally atheists inwardly; both

158

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

refuse to

acknowledge God, or

into a natural, necessary agent

and in

this

certain rule of life or, if they

way

completely subvert

any revelation, they have

religion; furthermore, since they reject

no

change him

at the very least they

have one,

no more perfect

is

it

than the rule deduced from the principles of nature." With obvious malice Philip van Limborch included in this naturalism

which were independent

lations concerning salvation

theology

had no

which

and

Spinozism.

The

an

evidenced

consequently

Collegian ts,

who met

specu-

all

of dogmatic affinity

with

twice a year in Rijnsburg,

scruples about discussing the supernatural character of the

mission of Jesus, the authority of Scripture, or the reality of miracles.

Indeed,

it

is

the

possibility

of

such free speculation, accom-

panied by the practice of Christian virtues independently of any formal confession of

that Spinoza himself, in his Political

faith,

Treatise, asks the public authorities to secure for all

Descartes

left to

salvation

and

to

the theologians the task of dealing with eternal the princes the

allotting to each a distinct sphere, all

members

sophical,

men. Whereas

management

of public affairs,

Spinoza follows the practice of

of his milieu in affirming the radical unity of philo-

and

religious,

political

problems.

His

philosophy,

as

expressed in the Ethics, contains a theory of society and concludes

with a theory of salvation through philosophical knowledge. His Theologicopolitical

served for

Treatise

men who do

indicates

the paths

of

salvation

re-

not go beyond obedience to the prescrip-

tions of positive religions. Finally, his Political Treatise describes

an

organization of the state that leaves freedom of thought to each

man; and we know

that Spinoza,

actively in public affairs,

though he did not

participate

was an ardent supporter of Jan de Witt,

whose government guaranteed such tolerance

until 1672, the year

of the Orangist triumph.

Spinoza carefully avoided everything that might alienate his dependence. Admired by the great Conde,

him

in Utrecht during the

of a pension

and residence

campaign of in France.

who

1673,

invited

him

in-

to visit

he refused the offer

The same

year the Palatinate

SPINOZA

159

elector, Princess Elizabeth's brother, offered

him

a chair at Heidel-

berg University, where he could freely teach his philosophy; again

he refused.

should be noted that his delicate health must have

It

placed severe limitations on his activity; tuberculosis, with which

he seems

His

life,

to

which was

an

that of

have been

ascetic;

afflicted, necessitates

so orderly, so moderate,

was

it

much and

that of an invalid for

rest

and calm.

so simple,

whom

was not

health

is

a

age of forty-four, he died.

priceless possession. In 1677, at the

Spinoza wrote two general expositions of his philosophy: the Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, which he wrote

and which has survived through

in Latin for his friends (1660)

two Dutch

translations;

and

his Ethics

Demonstrated according

to

the Geometrical Order

(Ethica or dine geometrico demonstratd)

which he attempted

complete on several occasions.

suggested in differs

letters

to

written in 1661 to Oldenburg and

from the order followed

version,

and

in

,

The

order

De

Vries

in the first part of the published

1665 he had almost completed the work, which

then contained only three parts. But between 1670 and 1675 he revised the third part lished version

—the

two

expositions,

De

emendatione

and made

it

the last three parts of the pub-

Passions, Slavery,

Spinoza wrote a intellectus,

and Freedom. Besides

treatise (unfinished)

before 1662.

The

these

on method,

Theologicopolitical

was written between 1665 and 1670, and the Political Treatise (unfinished) between 1675 and 1677. Many years earlier, Treatise

between 1656 and

1663,

he had written Renati Descartes principia

philosophiae, an exposition of Cartesian philosophy for the use of

a pupil. Cogitata metaphysica, which explains the terms used in

philosophy, dates from the same period.

During

his lifetime

Spinoza

published only Principles of Cartesian Philosophy, with the Cogita as

an appendix (1663), and the Theologicopolitical Treatise (1670). But his Opera postuma which appeared as early as 1677, included Ethics, the treatise Political Treatise,

On

the

Improvement

of the Understanding, the

and an important body of correspondence which

unfortunately was revised and softened by his friends.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

l6o

The Improvement

ii

No

of the Understanding

other doctrine has aroused as

Few

tion as Spinoza's.

more

ent ways and judged poraries Spinoza

much enthusiasm and

indigna-

more

others have been interpreted in

contem-

diversely. In the eyes of his

final causes,

and

Holy Word,

the

was the denier of Providence, of

of free will, the critic of the authority of the

differ-

author of a pantheism in which the individual founders.

As

is fre-

quently the case, his contemporaries were struck by the negations of his system rather than by

its

which are nevertheless

affirmations,

their counterparts.

Taken

as a

whole, the Spinozist doctrine

through knowledge of God.

The end

is

a doctrine of salvation

of philosophy

to "search

is

good which can be imparted and of which the discovery

for a

insure throughout eternity possession of lasting

Thus

does not at

it

of Descartes

first

and supreme

will joy."

appear to be in line with the philosophies

and Bacon, who relegated

question of the ultimate end of

to the sphere of faith the

man. Spinozism bears an

external

resemblance to the Neo-Platonic theosophies that have flourished

throughout history. Spinoza's

first

step

the

is

same

many who

as that of

theorized

on the love of God during the Middle Ages: "All these passions (sadness, envy, fear, hate) things.

are our lot

But love that goes out

to

when we

love perishable

something eternal and

infinite

nourishes the soul with pure joy

—a

These words are the same

found in the Imitation of Christ

(ii,

7.1)

:

"Qui adhaeret

Jesum firmabitur

in

as those

creaturae, cadet,

joy

cum

is

does not belong to ing,

labili;

qui amplectitur

aevum." In the sixteenth century Leone Hebreo

used these words to explain the nature of

"Although love

untainted by sadness."

also

higher kind of love:

found in corporeal and material things,

them

and every other

this

alone; but just as being,

life,

perfection, goodness, or beauty

depend upon

spiritual beings

and descend from immaterial things

things, so love

found

is

first

and

it

understandto material

essentially in the purely conceptual



SPINOZA

l6l

world and descends from there tical

problem posed

the Understanding

at the

world of bodies."

beginning of

On

same one which

the

is

to the

the

1

The

prac-

Improvement

of

resolved in the last

is

propositions of the Ethics. All the rest of Spinoza's philosophy leads to the

same

And

propositions.

yet Spinoza

is

removed from the atmosphere of vague

far

experiences, devotion, asceticism, ciated with divine love.

then, one

"Love

it

rests

all else,

a

in such a

without error and as perfectly

as possible." Its

mented. Here Spinoza's point of departure Cartesian method: there

traditionally asso-

on knowledge. Before

way of healing the understanding and way that it will know things successfully,

must think of

of purifying

and enthusiasm

power must be augmeditation on the

is

a methodical chain of truths that begins

is

with clear and distinct ideas and manifests the unrestricted fecundity of the understanding

physics.

Opposing

knowledge any

this

through the creation of mathematics and

chain are the disconnected fragments of

come from

that

spiritual initiative.

the senses

Spinoza

is

and the imagination, without

also a Cartesian

in direct contrast to the Neo-Platonists, that the

when he assumes, human mind can-

not ascend by degrees from knowledge of sensible things to intellectual

knowledge,

immediate

from an image

intellectual

sage in the

and

the lowest level

from the day of

my

to

its

model, but must achieve

knowledge. This theme

Improvement

various classes

At

as

in

is

found in the pas-

which he divides knowledge

retains only those that will serve his purpose. is

knowledge by hearsay, knowledge

birth and, in a general way,

thing that comes to

me from

tradition;

that

I

dental comparison of similar occurrences are mortal for example; then effect

—from

the union of soul



knowledge of every-

this

is

how

comes knowledge that

I

I

acci-

know men

have of cause

the fact of sensation, for instance,

I

deduce

and body. These three kinds of knowledge

juxtaposed to one another, inert, and an end to themselves 1

have

next comes knowledge

based upon undisciplined experience, knowledge coming from

through

into

— are

Quoted by H. Pflaum, Die Idee der Liebe bei Leone Hebreo (Tubingen, 1926),

p. 105.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

l62

power of the

rejected because they will not serve to increase the

understanding. Quite different

is

knowledge through which an

deduced from a cause: from

effect is

its

definition

properties of a figure, for example. Quite different too

knowledge

intuitive

edge

is

that

deduce the the certain,

have of certain propositions. Such knowl-

I

The merchant who

truly productive.

1 is

applies the rule that

he has been taught (hearsay) in order to find the fourth propor-

when

tional

who, having

three terms are given, or

successfully

carried out the operation in simple cases, applies the process that

he has discovered to more complicated cases (undisciplined experience), arrives at the quantity to be discovered or at a result as

who demonstrates a rule (knowledge or the man who intuitively apprehends that when the terms given are i, 2, and 3. But

surely as the mathematician of effect through cause)

the

number sought

is

6

no

the merchant goes

further,

whereas a Descartes, by meditating

on proportionals, discovers the means of resolving equations of a higher degree.

From tain

Descartes Spinoza also learned that the acquisition of cer-

knowledge precedes the discovery

natural

—through

force

harm each

of a method.

other," according to Descartes

—the

on the

knowledge. The in the theses

essentials of these

of the

method

attainment of

expends

its

advanced in the Improvement. Just

can advance

it

more

its

search.

perfectly, so the

Method does not precede it

new

as the artisan first

follows them.

hammer

understanding

native strength in forging instruments with

effective intellectual procedures;

is

developments are incorporated

beats iron with natural instruments before fabricating a

with which he can forge

its

understanding spon-

new knowledge; the basis order that has made possible the

taneously discovers reflection

Through

and deduction "which cannot

intuition

which

investigation It is

it

and

knowledge

we know things through ideas before we know we know them. The idea of the circle is knowledge of a thing

of knowledge, for that

that has a center

and a periphery, but the idea

center nor periphery itself;

consequently

and

we

is

can

something quite

know

itself

from the circle knowing the idea

distinct

a circle without

has neither

SPINOZA

163

of a circle.

on the

in turn,

is

but the idea of the idea, that

is,

is

an instru-

or a standard for acquiring further knowledge.

Here we

reflection

ment

The method,

true idea to the degree that the idea

new

have everything that separates the to things themselves,

and a perpetual

analyses of concepts

spirit,

which goes

from ancient philosophy, which dialectic

directly

with

rests

based on opinions.

The method of the Rules is complemented by the doubt of the Meditations. The method begins with natural certainties immanent in the mind and shows through the rule of order how these certainties can engender new knowledge. Doubt searches for a sure means

and

of excluding everything uncertain,

it

the apparatus of methodical doubt, the Cogito

according to Descartes,

is

Spinoza abandons Descartes

ing to him, contain their

own

tive essence of a thing," that

understanding; fail to

it

work,

the thing as

is,

clearly

and

dis-

at this point: true ideas, accord-

certainty; certainty

follows that the

know

his

indispensable in preparing the will to

which the understanding perceives

assent to that

cannot

and the guarantee

God. The whole of the second part of

of certainty through

tinctly.

employs, besides

mind

that they are true;

only "the objec-

represented in the

in possession of true ideas

no

reach them, and they require no guarantee. fictitious ideas (idea ficta), false ideas,

it is

is

truly sincere

We

doubt can

need only identify

or doubtful ideas in order to

avoid confusing them with true ideas.

The

distinction

between true ideas and other ideas

tion of Spinozism, just as the doctrine of true

natures

is

mind can

substance, or extension, the

forge ideas such as those of God,

whole structure of Ethics would

difficulty

when he wrote

be assumed that after

we have

forged the idea of a thing and

stated freely

and voluntarily that

are unable to conceive of

it

it

and "compromising

fidence grounded?

A

its

as existing otherwise."

own

fictitious

these lines: "It

actually exists in nature, then

not disconcerted by the "absurdity" of a itself

col-

Spinoza foresaw the

lapse.

we

the founda-

the foundation of Cartesianism. If there were the slight-

est suspicion that the

may

is

and immutable

freedom."

idea

is

Spinoza was

mind being deluded by

On

what was

his con-

identified primarily

by

its

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

164

We

indetermination. or not existing;

we

can arbitrarily imagine

object as existing

its

can arbitrarily attribute such and such a predi-

known to us imperfectly —for example, we can imagine that the mind is square; the fictive idea is the idea that permits an alternative. But if we possess the true idea of a being, indetermination disappears. To anyone who knew the entire a being whose nature

cate to

is

course of nature the existence of a being

who knew

or an impossibility, and anyone

could not suppose

A

conceives

its

example,

is

the nature of the

class.

It its

mind

attributes

to

a subject a

mind manner. Doubt

nature because the

nature only in a confused, indistinct

from

springs

same

not deduced from

is

either a necessity

be square.

in the

false idea is

predicate that

to

it

would be

Descartes' celebrated hypothetical doubt, for

error.

possible only because of a belief in the possible existence

of a deceitful

God.

A

on

true idea,

the contrary,

is

a completely

determinate idea that contains the cause of everything that can be stated or denied concerning

its

object.

For

instance, in the

a worker the idea of a well regulated mechanism

when

the relation between

though the mechanism idea

not

is

its

may

parts

its

is

is

mind

of

a true idea

conceived distinctly even

not be realized.

What

constitutes a true

correspondence with an external reality but

its

"in-

trinsic character."

Here Spinoza to

form, of

ideas

itself,

is

thinking of the power of the understanding

true ideas in mathematics.

which could only be true

be wholly determinate It

since,

—extension,

It

begins with simple

being simple, they have to

quantity, motion, for example.

forms complex ideas by linking simple ideas

sphere, for example, circle

around

its

which has

its

diameter. Each such idea

and the mind never has

essence,

—the

idea of the

origin in the rotation of a semi-

to pass

is

a wholly determinate

through universal, abstract

axioms.

But

is

tion of is

not the power of the understanding limited to the produc-

mathematics?

Is it

not here and here alone that the

mind

a "spiritual automaton" acting in accordance with the laws of the

understanding, whereas in knowledge of nature

it

"has the condi-

SPINOZA

165

tion of a patient" subject to the senses

and

to "the operations that

give rise to images produced in accordance with laws quite differ-

ent from the laws of the understanding"? In short,

any knowl-

is

edge of nature reached through the understanding? Methodical

problem

analysis of the conditions of the

Knowledge

is

of

is

the effects of nature, just as the essence of a circle

its

properties.

From

minds reproduce nature

we might

for

all

as perfectly as possible.

assume, a

new

its

The

thesis of the

principle

descending hierarchy from the

is

not, as

incursion of Neo-Platonism into

Neo-Platonic explanation moves

the

the cause

other things, so that our

nature through deduction of

at first

is

the idea of the true essence the understand-

ing deduces, objectively, the idea of

intelligibility of

if it is

the universal cause

all

philosophy,

solution.

its

of nature can pertain to the understanding only

capable of representing a true essence which

of

the key to

One

through a

or First Cause to the sensible

world, to the world of duration, generation, and corruption: a spurious intelligibility, ignorant of the conditions of mathematical

can be deduced from

intelligibility in

which only eternal

eternal

Nature, which the understanding deduces from

verities.

verities

the objective essence of the principle, cannot be "the succession of

singular things subject to change, but only the succession of fixed, eternal things (seriem

rerum fixarum oeternarumque) ." What are

To

these fixed, eternal things?

understand what they

which

are,

we need

posits in nature fixed essences

and

eternal verities, such as extension, the conservation of motion,

and

to recall Cartesian physics,

the laws of impact. Spinoza's "fixed, eternal things" are also the

whole

set

of laws

which

nature, laws "according to are regulated."

These

constitute

the permanent structure of

which

singular things

all

res fixae then

happen and

are also particular essences,

well defined and determinate verities (just as the essence of a right

angle or a circle

is

a determinate essence in mathematics), although

they are present throughout nature and play the role of universals.

The world to

rule of as in

method

prohibits Spinoza

from deducing the

sensible

emanative metaphysics. Moreover, he does not pretend

deduce the whole gamut of

res fixae (in the

manner

of Plotinus ?

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

l66

who

caused an intelligible world to derive from the One), for "to

conceive everything at once surpasses by far the powers of the

human

understanding." Just as

we deduce one

mathematical truth

from another without ever reaching the end of the chain or using to

form

a whole, Spinoza sees each of the res fixae as nothing

than a link in a chain or a part of a whole.

And

moment

in a progression

is

the solution of the problem that

was

human

hi

God Thus

nature,

power, and

its

its

oriented; its

oriented toward

it is

point of departure

the design of the philosophy of Ethics owes

a theory of the

as a

first

principle,

De

human

man,

its

intellectus

God, on which

then the determination of the place of ticular, the singular essence that is

—that

union with God.

methodical exigencies developed in first,

more

and not

just as in mathematics, Spinozist deduction

does not proceed haphazardly but

of

it

origin to the

emendatione: depends;

all else

nature and, in par-

in the res fixae et aeternae

deduced from divine nature. Spinoza indicated precisely the inner

way the dependence of all things on God; the fifth part shows the same thing but through consideration of the essence of the mind" (v, prop. 35, scholium). As in Descartes, who provided the model in his Replies

plan of Ethics: "The

first

mathematical frame adopted by Spinoza, or

to the Objections, the

more and

precisely, the

its

once

it

Euclidean frame with

propositions,

is

its

when we compare

its

with the definitive revision of the Ethics.

nitions are introduced.

is

An

axiom

modified and

is

Our

emendatione, for

it

illusion

is

find

is

restated

new

defi-

illusory

a traditional treatise

that follows "the order of matter"

order of reasons."

We

Such a synthetic exposition may be

and may suggest that what he has written

on metaphysics

axioms,

a letter written to Oldenburg in

as a proposition, the order of definitions

De

definitions,

merely a procedure for explaining a truth

has been discovered, not a method of invention.

proof of this 1 661

part shows in a general

and not "the

dissipated as soon as

we

turn to

reveals to us in the discovery of the notion

167

SPINOZA

God

the result of an exigency of method,

of

that Spinoza's thought

is

and

it

should warn us

thoroughly analytical, probing ever more

man

deeply for the conditions under which nature and

can be

apprehended through the understanding.

One

of the

main

properties of the understanding

positive ideas before negative ones."

we

negative one, for

The

is

that "it forms

idea of the finite

call "finite in its class

is

a

anything that can be

terminated by something else of the same nature. For example, a

body

(Ethics

i,

and

def. 1),

The paradigm

of

all

in general

number

is,

essence"; positive because that

which

"any determination

is

a negation."

endowed with an

which expresses an a substance, that

it is

is

the idea of God, "the abso-

is

the substance

of attributes, each of

and

can always conceive a larger one"

positive ideas

lutely infinite being, that

itself

we

called finite because

is

conceived by

itself,

is,

infinite

eternal, infinite

"that

which

is

in

the concept of which

has no need of the concept of something else from which to be

formed." This

no Aristotelian substance, the hidden essence of

is

things beyond the reach of the mind,

hending properties and of a substance cipal attribute sion.

is

limited to appre-

accidents. Descartes taught that the essence

was known

—for

which

clearly

and

distinctly

through

prin-

example, the essence of a body through exten-

Spinoza follows Descartes in defining the attribute

which the understanding perceives of the substance its

its

as "that

as constituting

essence."

On

the other hand, Descartes twice denied the positive character

of the idea of substance. First, he believed that the real distinction

between two

which

is

attributes,

such as extension and thought, each of

conceived independently, forced us to posit two distinct

substances, soul

and body:

to limit a substance to

God, the absolutely

to limit

its reality.

number

of attributes, each of

and thought, both also believed that

which expresses

infinite, are

one attribute

infinite being, has

two such

an

is

infinite

his infinity; extension

attributes of

God. Descartes

thinking substance and extended substance did

not exist independently but had to be produced by the divine substance: "it pertains to the nature of the divine substance to exist,"

l68

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

for to be conceived independently

to

is

have need o£ nothing

else

in order to exist.

"Extension

is

an attribute of God." This

seemed most shocking

make God

Spinoza's assertion physics

and the

not

its

bodies

it

makes between extension

it

and extension

imagined

constituent parts but is

Did

and

divisibility

as

an object of the imagination.

infinite

is

and

indivisible; bodies are

—that which

conceived by this thing."

From

is

Modes

in another thing

are

and

is

the standpoint of the physicist,

of extension (they are conceived through exten-

sion), not parts of extension as

Spinozist thesis

between

limitations; the distinction

its

"the affections of substance

modes

an object

as

not a real distinction but a modal distinction.

bodies are

not

it

passivity?

comprehensible only in terms of Cartesian

is

is

him

attribute to

distinction

of the understanding

Extension as

one of the theses that

Spinoza's contemporaries.

to

and

corporeal

is

is

it

might be conceived by them. The

possible only because extension

the principle

is

of intelligibility.

This

clarifies

the Spinozist notion that unique substance and

universal intelligibility are one, provided that the relation of a

substance to

its

attributes

not a simple relation of subject to

is

predicate; an indivisible substance

the existence of the

modes

must be the reason

of their essential difference, have one to

modes

explain the

that

depend on the nature of an the order according to

are

common

them.

in

trait

—their

attribute, for intelligibility

among

geometry enables us

to

understand

ideas can be identical with an order

equation of the curve just as

its

among

and

its

between

how

and

in each attri-

an order

the affections

linked to the

depend on

its

equation can be treated

one and the same being since their being order.

is

properties actually

nature, with the result that the curve

and the same

order,

which modes derive from each other

of extension: the idea of the properties of a curve

as

is

capacity

does not

Intelligibility

attribute can be identical in spite of the distinction

butes. Cartesian

that explains

in each attribute. All attributes, in spite

is

constituted by one

Unity of substance, therefore,

versal intelligibility provided that substance

is

signifies

uni-

not a subject but,



SPINOZA

169

more than anything each attribute.

else,

the root of the unique order displayed in

"The order and

order and relation of things"

relation of ideas

Everything in Christian dogmatism relating

own

of his

resolves

will

free

is

prominently as

it

God

that

a fable in

to

who

effect;

first

or,

who

subjects his will to the final

figures as It is

true

a reason {causa sive ratio) that

is

God

in this sense

cause, a cause of essences as well as of existences,

absolutely

as the

a Creator

does in the accounts of the pagan gods.

makes us understand an

nature

same

which anthropomorphism

a cause, but a cause

is

the

produce the things conceived

to

through his understanding and cause of good

is

prop. 7).

(ii,

is

an

efficient

an independent or

cause, a cause that acts according to the laws of

putting

it

another way, a free cause

—a

cause that

an immanent cause

is

—one

efficacious only independently;

he

whose action does not pass

being outside himself; consequently

he

no

is

natura)

different

The

also

is

from what philosophers

call

nature (Deus sive

.

Human

iv

to a

Nature

third exigency of

that the

mind

is

to order things in

will not be exhausted

direct deduction

useful to us

method

by

such a

useless efforts; that

way is,

to

only toward those things that yield knowledge

—knowledge

of

human

nature.

Beginning with the

second part, Spinoza devotes his Ethics entirely to the study of

human and

nature to the extent that

attributes of

infinite

are

of

them

is

man—body and

plicity, birth,

finite

corruption.

first

the notion of

mode.

of God's infinite attributes

known; each

nature of

can be deduced from the nature

God. But he must introduce

mode, then the notion of

Only two

it

—extension

and thought

simple, infinite, eternal. Alternately, the

—connotes

soul

How

was

it

duration, change, multi-

possible for the

changing

to

spring from the eternal? This problem, which was the cross of every

philosophy

derived

from Platonism, was transformed by

Spinoza. Descartes' notion of extension could give birth to a physics

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

170

only by virtue of motion which alone distinguishes one body from another, inasmuch as bodies are not distinct simply because they are extended; moreover, the quantity of this

and the laws of

motion

is

constant,

communication or distribution (which alone

its

The constant quantity of motion, according to Spinoza, is a mode or affection of the attribute of extension, but it is an eternal mode like the attribute itself, and an "infinite mode" since it indicates the accounts for distinctions between bodies) are eternal verities.

elements of immutability in "the aspect of the universe taken as a

whole" (fades

universi).

totius

mode

thought a

attribute of

But there

necessarily

is

mode

infinite

that contains "objectively," along with the idea of

of attributes

universi.

totius

the "infinite intellect," or intellect of

is

"infinite

immutable order that assumes a

God

aspect in each attribute, they have

God,

God, an infinitude

and corresponding modes. Since these

are the expression of one

the

that contains "objectively" the whole,

immutable order of nature constituted by fades This

in

modes"

different

as their "absolutely proxi-

mate cause." They make us pass from "naturing" nature {natura naturans) to "natured" nature {natura naturatd) which consists in

modes, but they do not take us away from the eternal and the infinite. If

we now

consider a finite

mode

of extension, a body,

which

is

nothing but an extended mass whose parts are animated by motions

which are

interrelated

in such a

manner

find in

it

and transmitted from one part

that the

nothing that links

The

of extension.

whole it

to another

persists for a certain term,

we

to the eternal essence of the attribute

existence of the

body has

its

reason in other

modes, in other bodies that have imparted motion to it and, through their causality, actually make it what it is. The other finite

finite

modes, in turn, have their reason in other indefinitely.

modes

What

is

true of

modes, and so on is

also true of

of thought or ideas, for the order of objects in our thought

reproduces the order of

realities in

correspondence of attributes. has a

modes

finite

of extension

manner

From

extension in accordance with the this

it

of existing quite different

follows that a finite

from

that of

an

mode

infinite

SPINOZA

171

mode

The

or an attribute.

mode and

infinite

the attribute possess

eternity or infinite usufruct of being (infinita essendi fruitio), in

which essence

merged with

is

from the standpoint

sidered

begins to exist

it

of

when

only

existence; but the finite its

essence,

another

duration

and

essence, ity

of

existence

is

belongs solely to the

it

being outside

its

and duration,

causality

the extent

to

itself. is

finite

Thus

merely possible, since

mode produces it and mode excludes it. Existence

finite

ceases to exist as soon as another finite

in

is

that

himself.

cause

is

God God

from

distinct

is

it

being that has the causal-

the finite world, with external

characterized uniquely by a deficiency

and, as such, cannot be deduced immediately the attribute of

mode, con-

God, whose consequences are

from the nature

of

God

just as eternal as

mode which

is

its

himself modified in a certain manner, but he

is

its

indeed

is

its

cause since the finite

remote cause (causa remota).

Such was Spinoza's conception of human nature and

Man

ties.

consists of a

of extension

body and a mind

and of an

actual

mode

—that

of an actual

is,

what the

body could be within the universal mechanism.

the individuality of a machine

proper-

mode

of thought constituted by the

idea of this body. Spinoza tried to imagine of a

its

whose

individuality

He saw

it

as

different parts are arranged

by external causes in such a manner that they impart motion in accordance with a permanent order; an individual being

formed of other individual beings, and the human body a very

is

is

complex machine composed of other machines. In the

bute of thought

is

an idea which corresponds

itself

therefore attri-

to a corporeal indi-

vidual and which has no object other than the actual individual. the soul

is

external cause in other finite the

modes

modes

of thought corresponding to

of extension that are the causes of the body.

All the properties of soul are deduced from this definition soul

is

the idea of the body. But Spinoza's idea

outside the soul

judgment by

It

which begins and ends with the body and which has an

—"a

to give

itself affirms

its

is

mute image painted on a board" assent.

The

the existence of

idea, its

mode

object,

:

the

not something

—waiting for

of a divine attribute,

and

its

affirmation per-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

172 as

sists

as this existence is

long

What must

another idea. negation, and

is

it

not excluded by the existence of

be explained

not the position but the

is

explained by the positive elements in whatever

Thus

excludes the thing negated.

the idea of a body

but rather the position and affirmation of

tion

thought. Besides, the idea

just as

is

not

is

its reflec-

existence

its

composite as the body

in

itself,

and the individuality of the mind, with the variety of perceptions that

it

includes, does not differ in nature

from the individuality of

the body.

But because the soul the idea that

bodies

are

it

has of

a finite

is

its

An

inadequate ideas.

cause or reason

known

is

at the

quate whenever the opposite finite

mode, limited

since the finite

finite

mode;

its

mode

finite

itself,

adequate whenever

is

as its object;

mode

body

that has

of itself

of thought, its

has of

its

inade-

it is

will of necessity be inadequate

mind has

knowledge of

it

has of external

it

Alternately, any idea of a

true.

is

essentially the

is

side itself; the idea that the

quate since, as a

idea

same time

mode,

to this

mode

mode, the idea that

body, and the idea that

is

it

has

is

its

its

cause out-

therefore inade-

cause in another

inadequate since the

exist-

ence and constitution of this body depend on an elusive influence exerted by external bodies; finally,

depends on the impression they external perception depends

its

knowledge

make on

of external bodies

own

its

body. Thus

on the nature of our bodies more than

on the nature of external bodies. Furthermore,

for

if

bodies, in the absence of an external impression,

any reason our

happen

ceive the external

imagination. In

body

fact, just like

the actual existence of if

as if

its

it

we

dis-

per-

were present: hence memory or

perception, the

object;

be

to

posed again as they were at the time of this impression,

and the

memory image

latter

implies

can be denied only

excluded by other ideas.

Man depends on a He is unintelligible

course of nature completely

according to Spinoza, unintelligible.

To

ence would be a

is

To

to

be

him.

finite,

simultaneously to exist in time and to be

search for the finite futile,

unknown

himself by his very nature.

to

modes

that explain our exist-

impossible undertaking, for they are them-

SPINOZA

173

Such

selves unintelligible.

is

the

first

notion that

we have

of

human

nature.

Spinoza demonstrates that in the prehensible to reattaching

human

soul, limited

in this detached, isolated

itself,

itself to

the whole, reason

must

we must

and incom-

fragment incapable of originate.

To

mind

under-

the

two

notions of intelligibility which Spinoza categorically excludes:

first,

stand clearly his demonstration

bear in

the Neo-Platonic notion of an intelligible world

—a

kind of ideal

transposition of the sensible world; second, the notion of universals

—blurred images of the intelligible world which the understanding, starting

from the

sensible

process of abstraction.

world, attains through a complicated

The two

types of intelligibility are both con-

ceived, in effect, in terms of their relation to the sensible world, as its

model and the other

as its extract.

one

Spinoza thinks he has

demonstrated that in the course of nature the mind can possess only mutilated and indistinct ideas. Descartes identified a completely different type of intelligibility in the absolute ideas

from

are detached

all

other ideas and have inherent intelligibility:

the idea of extension or of thought, for example.

nature Spinoza deduces the presence in the ideas. In Descartes they are characterized

be wholly present in a being no matter to the Meditations, thought,

parts.

which

how

is

of these absolute

fact that they

limited

is

it is;

wholly in each of

the total nature of extension

Spinoza demonstrates that

idea of that

mind

by the

From human

we

necessarily

is

its

suf-

mani-

in each of

its

have an adequate

found in both the whole and the

we must have adequate

can

according

whether considered in passion or

fering or in intellectual conception, festations, just as

which

part; that

ideas of the attribute of extension

and of

we have an idea, no matter how mutilated and indistinct, of a mode of extension or of a mode of thought; and that we have an adequate idea of God the attribute of thought for the very reason that

whose nature

is

quate ideas are

wholly present in each of the modes. These ade-

common

notions since they are equally present in

each individual, and collectively they constitute reason. arrive at the notion of

man

as a rational being.

Thus we

174

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

Man, of

then, acquires

knowledge

in several ways.

together by a simple succession. reason,

of

consists

common

and

from them: knowledge whose object and

entails the

is

abstracted

from duration

shows

knowledge

in

how human

na-

which the mind

intelligible to itself.

human nature how man, by his very

This conception of Spinoza shows

is

distinct

from

nature, sometimes

Descartes'.

succumbs

sometimes attains to truth. Descartes imputed to

free will capable of avoiding error

the clear

deduced

apprehension of things "under a certain aspect of

ture gives rise to a third kind of

to error,

of knowledge, or

of everything

eternity." Finally, all the rest of the Ethics

becomes

kind

and images linked

The second kind

notions

first

he has through

consists of the inadequate ideas that

knowledge

the ordinary course of nature: sense perception

The

and

distinct

and

of giving

ideas of the understanding.

Descartes' theory of error

is

man

a

assent only to

its

his false notion of ideas:

The

root of

having

inter-

preted ideas as simple pictures or images, he had to posit along with

them the empty power This "will" credited. volition,

is

and

to affirm

to

deny what he called

will.

but one of the universal terms which Descartes

The power

and

to affirm

and with

to deny,

it

belief

dis-

and

belong to each of our ideas. Error does not consist of assent

based on an inadequate idea;

adequate idea. For example, that the sun

is

demonstrated

its

the inadequate idea

it is

in a certain sense, in so far as

it is

it is

itself, at least

not excluded and denied by an

perception that makes us estimate

two hundred yards away, true distance. Error, then,

until the is

geometer has

not perception but the

absence of true ideas that correct perception, and the absence of

doubt that accompanies error ideas: the first

the

is

mark

is

not the same thing as assent to true

of our weakness, the second of our

strength.

Thus Spinoza

new

introduces a whole

into the theory of

man:

the object

is

intellectual equilibrium

no longer

to justify but to

demonstrate. Everywhere Descartes posited free wills— human or

divine—engaged justified

his

in the pursuit of

method by

relating

an end posited it

to

the

as a

good.

He

good of man, God's

SPINOZA

175

immunity from

error by ascribing error to the will of

them

passions by depicting

as

man, and the

something instituted by nature for the

benefit of man. Spinoza demonstrates that man, whether succumb-

ing to error or searching for truth,

from human

deduces the passions will



a spiritual being,

is

nature.

The

engaged in the pursuit of an end, the notion of good and

evil

these are illusory, mutilated, indistinct notions.

The

v

Error

Bondage

Passions:

a necessary product of

is

human

nature,

and passion (con-

trary to the widely accepted opinion of the Stoics,

contradicted nature is

and he

notion of a free

and

that the will

natural and necessary. Passion

which

it

that the being

sity

it

it)

that a living being experi-

itself is

not the cause or of

but the partial cause; action, on the contrary, means

is

which are

held that

had absolute control over

means

which the being

ences an affection of

who

in

subject

is

passion,

to

body, which

the complete (adequate) cause of the affections

In the ordinary course of nature,

it.

is finite,

has

since its

man

is

of neces-

any affection experienced by

his

source in a proximate body and so on

by degrees throughout the whole order of nature; and the mind in like

manner has inadequate

cause.

But

man

Thus

which

also acts in so far as

deduces from them cause.

ideas of

still

it

is

not the integral

he has adequate ideas and

other ideas of which he then

is

the total

the natural course of the passive affections contrasts

with the rational concatenation of ideas in the understanding just as the first

kind of knowledge contrasts with the second kind of

knowledge.

How, then, do inadequate ideas produce the passive affections that we call joy, sadness, and the like? "Every being tends to persevere in its own being," for every being is an expression, near or remote, of divine power;

The endeavor the

first

ment

no being can be destroyed except by another being.

(conatus) to persevere, inherent in every being,

of the passive affections. In the

to self

is

body the immediate

termed appetite (appetitus) and

is

is

attach-

the very essence

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

176

man;

of

in the soul

termed desire (cupiditas) and

it is

tendency to self-affirmation inherent in any idea. only an image

principle

causes act

of

all

other

the

on our bodies and

to persevere in our

which

arise: joy,

perfection, fection.

an affirmation of

An

idea

is

not

obvious that

itself. It is

from being dependent on any idea of a pursued good,

desire, far

the

but also

simply the

is

is

own

affections.

For

is

external

instance,

promote or impede our endeavor

either

being, with the result that

two

affections

the (adequate) idea of an increase in a body's

and sadness, which

Furthermore, love

the idea of a decrease in

is

arises

when

the idea of joy

per-

its

combined

is

with the (inadequate) idea of the cause believed to have produced hatred arises under the same conditions,

it;

bined with the idea of

its

cause.

The

when

sadness

com-

is

diversity of the passions

is

explained by the endeavor of the soul to imagine things that increase

vent

it

of love

power

its

from

to act

and

images of things that pre-

to exclude

acting. It follows that all passions are modifications

and hatred. Thus these two passions are spread by virtue

of the laws of the imagination,

from

primary object

their

to objects

which are themselves neutral but which were perceived along with

and bear some resemblance

it

may

individual

same it

class or to the

to objects

state of fluctuation,

virtue of the

same nation. By

for

one

virtue of associations linking

and hatred

same time,

at the

resulting in a

which makes us love and hate the same thing.

same

laws, images of things produce the

affections as things themselves: to ourselves

For example, hatred

it.

which produce sadness, an object that arouses love or

joy can arouse sadness

By

to

be transferred to every individual belonging to the

same

hope and fear when we represent

something that will probably produce joy or sadness;

hope and fear that become security and despair when we no longer entertain doubt concerning

impending joy and

—images

laws also explain contentment and regret ness produced by things

Another of a

effect of the

human

affection,

we have hoped

imagination

being similar to

sadness.

us,

:

it is

who

The same

of joy

and

sad-

for or dreaded.

impossible for us to think is

experiencing a certain

without experiencing the same affection ourselves. This

SPINOZA

177

which

explains commiseration,

the sadness caused by our aware-

is

ness of another person's sadness,

and emulation, which

is

the desire

caused by the image of the same desire in another person. this

reason that

we

try to

promote joy in others; we

It is for

desire to

do

when we we praise them. Another consequence, however, is that we try to make others become similar to ourselves to hate whatever we hate and to love whatever we love. Our ambition, identical in each of us, is whatever will please others, and acting in the

same way toward

imagine that they are

us,



thwarted by that of

all

the others who, in their turn, are trying to

transform us according to their wishes, with the result that hatred

is

generated. This law of the imagination which

much

makes us

love an object loved by another person also produces the modification of hatred called

envy

the object in question can be possessed

if

man

by only one individual, and

is

thus torn between pity for the

unfortunate individual and envy or jealousy with respect to those

who

are fortunate.

Now we

see

how

resemblance engenders hatred which, having

once sprung up, multiplies more or sible for us to

him

in turn,

less

independently.

It is

impos-

imagine that another person hates us without hating

and our hatred

for destruction

which

is

is

accompanied by a desire

necessarily

manifested through anger or cruelty. But

"hatred can be overcome by love, and hatred that has been over-

come by

love

becomes

love,

preceded by hatred." For love for me, he

is

which

if I

and the joy

I feel

to banish sadness,

through

greater than

imagine a

a cause of joy for

by the mind Still to

is

this love

me;

if it

man whom

I

had not been hate, feeling

then begin to love him;

I

promotes the endeavor made

which was enveloped

in hatred.

be explained are certain modifications of love and hatred

that originate in the

freedom that we imagine present in the object

and hatred are stronger toward

a

being believed to be free than toward one bound by necessity, for

I

loved or hated.

It is clear

that love

conceive the free being as the sole cause of find itself

it

impossible,

if I

my

joy or sadness, but

see that the cause of this joy or sadness has

been produced of necessity by other beings, not to transfer

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

178

my

love or hatred to

these beings.

all

cations of our affections are different

they relate to a singular

to have nothing in common with objects What is then produced is admiration, which becomes if we dread the object, veneration if the man involved

which we imagine

object

known

to us.

consternation is

For the same reason, modifi-

when

superior to us, honor

when we

he has vices that exceed the norm, scorn

if

believe that he does not actually possess the qualities that

caused us to admire him. Finally,

to

our joy becomes

act,

we

ourselves are the cause of

we imagine

our joy or sadness, inasmuch as

power

if

our power or lack of

and our sadness

self-satisfaction

humility.

We

see that all the passive affections relate to the

the soul to persevere in

own

its

body) has an individuality which distinguishes

from

all others,

and which

different persons,

endeavor of

being. But each soul (and each

and separates

it

it

changes with time. Consequently,

itself

and even the same person

at different times, are

not in agreement about the objects to be loved or to be hated. Passive affections express

our

own

nature rather than the nature of

external things,

and believing that we are apprehending

we

what we love good, what we hate

itself,

Such

vainly call

is

the

mechanism

evil.

of the passive affections that reveal to us

man's bondage. The soul

is

what

it

every wind, hating

reality

a finite being that shifts

its

has loved and loving what

course with it

has hated

under the influence of external causes. Our passive affections are determined by the whole course of nature, which has complete control over

human vi

human

nature inasmuch as

it

nature as does the infinite to the

bears the

same

relation to

finite.

Freedom and Eternal Life But not everything

in proportion to the

every affection

is

in

is

is

determined by the course of nature: his ideas,

of necessity passive

idea. Joy, for instance,

fection. It

man

adequacy of

is

he

acts.

and linked

to

Moreover, not

an inadequate

the idea of that which increases our per-

a passive affection

if

the cause of the increase

is

out-

SPINOZA

179

side us, but

are

its

it is

an affection without being a passion

adequate cause. In the same way, desire

only to the extent that

we

which we are the adequate

passive affection

is

there

if

depend on

can be only passive, since by

it)

cannot seek self-destruction and since

a part of

is

cause, the affection of desire

remains, without passion. Sadness alone (together with fections that

ourselves

are able to continue in existence only

through the concurrence of external causes, for ourselves of

we

if

it is

all

the af-

itself

a being

absolutely necessary for a

being to have an external cause.

Given the fundamental tendency of

own

man must

being,

good and whatever hinders interest,

and

a being to persevere in

it evil.

Good, then,

virtue consists in loving one's

are those determined by adequate ideas or

we that

the most perfect of

we

We

also

because of reason, which consists of lar

and

To do

much

as possible)

grounded on reason,

for

On

we know our good among other men in know that all men are similar common notions, and dissimi-

all actions.

fewer obstacles to

shall find

so far as they resemble us.

clear that vir-

and an action of which we are the

are their adequate cause, is

identical to self-

is

self. It is

tuous actions (those which increase our power as

cause

its

consider whatever promotes this tendency

the other hand,

in conflict with each other because of their passive affections.

everything possible in order to prevent such conflict

in conformity to reason: this ciety. It

is

is

to act

the purpose of the institution of so-

should be noted that in Spinoza's view the social power

not an educative power but only a coercive power.

prevent conflicts between us, not by

making men

It is

is

intended to

rational but, in

keeping with the principle that an affection cannot be destroyed except

by a stronger

punishment

—to

affection,

by using a stronger

mutual security of men: hatred, jealousy, nature each evil

man

own

constitution,

—fear

of

the

cruelty. In the state of

has the right to decide what

according to his

affection

that endanger

oppose the passive affections

which

is is

good and what

is

of necessity deter-

mined by universal nature; consequently he has the right to avenge wrongs something which now belongs to society. Sin and goodness,



justice

and

injustice can

now

be defined only by society.

We

are

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

100

therefore following the rules of reason

men

the affections which tend to unite

In a general way, preservation

all

when we

the affections that are conducive to

good "a wise :

man

will restore his

moderate and agreeable nourishment, delight scent

and bright

cles"

(iv, 45,

self-

body through with the

his senses

games, and specta-

colors of plants, enjoy music,

scholium). In contrast, the passions that depend on

humil—particularly hatred, but also melancholy, fear, —are bad, debilitating, and always contrary to rea-

sadness

son.

all

are good.

—even passive affections—must be judged good. Joy and

gaiety can only be

ity,

decide that the pas-

by society are bad and that

sive affections declared illegitimate

pity,

and remorse But not

all

depend on joy are good; those

of the passions that

capable of excess, such as love, and those excessive in themselves,

such as pride, are not good. Pride indicates an ignorance of oneself

and

a

weakness matched only by contempt for

The

common

principle

passions

is

to

these

all

oneself.

judgments concerning the

obvious: just as truth destroys the error of sensible per-

ception without destroying

its

welcomes

positive elements, so reason

the positive elements of the passions. "Appetite that produces the passions

is

the

is

scholium).

same

as

The endeavor

derived from reason"

appetite to

(iv,

fundamentally identical to the endeavor to persevere in being,

since the being of the

mind

is

an idea; consequently, ideas of the

passive affections that increase our being contain only that is

good and

rational.

Wisdom, which impels

can preserve and increase our power, but on

life"

(iv,

which obviates

67).

perils,

the joy that results is

18,

understand, characteristic of reason,

The and

man

wise

far

attains the inner peace,

the wise

if

man

is

freer in the city

than in solitude"

The freedom

of the wise

where he

to act.

strives to

practices gratitude

still

from considering the laws of the

his freedom, "he

common law

does not despise prudence

from the contemplation of our power

the benefits of the ignorant, he

and

us toward whatever

meditation, not on death

way he

in this

not the inner peace of a hermit:

faith;

"is

which

His

avoid

and good

city as obstacles to

lives

according to

(iv, 73).

man

in

no way depends,

as Descartes

SPINOZA

l8l

make man an "em-

thought, on a hypothetical free will that would

an empire." According

pire within

between body and

Whatever

soul.

to Descartes there

interaction

is

passion in the soul

is

is

the result

of an action of the body; inversely, however, the soul has the to

modify the pineal gland, with the

motion of the animal

Such

passions.

respondence

exists

sion in the soul

is

is

impossible

if it is

We

directly

on the body but must to

to

is

will

it

engenders. But this

nature drives us to this affection.

ambition

acts.

For example,

—the desire of each —and the serious

to himself

true only

is

we wish

If

when the course of make other men

to

why

such a transformation

loved or hated for reasons

is

sequently no object loved or hated sadness, but

is

is

necessary. In passion

drawn from

its

nature; con-

the true cause of our joy or

is

merely an imagined cause. This joy or sadness not

only can be separated from

we

affec-

which promotes peace among men.

obvious

no object

as

same

which we are the adequate cause then becomes the virtue

of piety, It is

not

affections will

similar to ourselves with respect to our rationality, the tion of

is

of the affections of

Such

become virtuous

we know the passive affection called man to make all other men similar conflicts that

"pas-

always utilizing the same

the inadequate cause.

no longer be passions but

pas-

is

word

can deduce the conditions that

become the adequate cause

he, in passion,

its

offer vain precepts for acting

try,

we

determine whether

man

whatever

whose adequate cause

must not

method,

which

soul;

equally passion in the body, for the

contained in a being.

power

upon the

true that a perfect cor-

between the body and the

sion" designates only the elements

will allow

acts

it

and acquires absolute control over

spirits

a result

result that

its

apparent cause;

and sadness

learn through reason that joy

versal course of nature,

we

it

must result

be.

As soon

from a uni-

cease to love or to hate the things that

our imagination presented to us as their causes; similarly, sadness

brought about by the as soon as

sion

is

to

affection

we learn know the

it

loss of a

good

that the loss passion, that

is

was is,

assuaged in a singular manner inevitable.

to

To overcome

a pas-

have an adequate idea of the

envelops. Alternatively, affections that originate in ade-

1

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

82

quate ideas have a singular claim to survival and to constancy.

an

number

affection varies in strength according to the

that arouse

it,

no

affection will be stronger than the

If

of causes

one linked

to

adequate ideas; for whereas the objects of inadequate ideas are changeable, and transitory, the objects of adequate ideas are

finite,

and whereas the

constant and eternal; variable

and

we always

our passions

knowledge of our perfection

by

joy,

when we

diverse,

find the eternal laws of nature.

affection, in so far as

true cause

God, and

this love of

of

God

it is

is

traceable to

man

is

accompanied by the idea of God,

God, grounded on adequate

myth

counterpart any love of affection; finally, far

it

ideas, differed

for

men,

from the

is

how love

constant and cannot change

is

of the fallen angel;

God

accompanied

it is

God, the principle of the

adequate cause. Spinoza stressed

its

discussed by theologians:

to hatred, as in the

Adequate

adequate, expresses the

and power of our being; consequently

whose

eternal laws of nature. This joy,

love of

objects of our passions are

consider the affections embraced by

since

it

God

from resembling the

cannot have as

its

exempt from any

is

mystic's solitary love,

it

men closer to one another because it is grounded on reason. Thus man achieves a certain degree of mastery over his passions by utilizing common notions of the second kind of knowledge. The idea that we have of our finite individuality as such is an inadequate idea. The idea that we have of God and of the principles of nature is an adequate idea, and we know that it is from this that all things, indraws

cluding ourselves and our passions, are of necessity deduced. This idea transforms the idea that selves as beings lose

we have

of ourselves;

identify our-

determined by the laws of the universe and thus

none of the positive elements of our individuality. Instead of

we

eliminating the conatus through which

own

we

being,

we somehow draw

tend to persevere in our

support for

it

from the conatus of

the universe (v, props. 1-20).

But such knowledge such that

we

of the universe, as parts.

That

is

universal. It

relate to the universe

is

why

is

not our individual being as

but our individual being as a part

having something in the second kind of

common

with

all

the other

knowledge does not exempt



SPINOZA

183

us entirely from conflicts engendered by the passive affections or

from

life

under conditions of duration, two things which are nec-

Superimposed upon the second kind of knowledge

essarily related.

knowledge by which we apprehend

the third kind,

is

with the same that 6

and 3

is

clarity that characterizes

numbers

the fourth proportional to the three simple

—the

God and

such to the nature of

to

By

his attributes.

imagine ourselves

inexplicable in our isolation, besieged

the

universal laws of

its

kind of

by insurmountable and un-

we know

the

which we are the expression; but by the third kind

knowledge we are able

To know

first

as finite individuals,

explained forces; by the second kind of knowledge

see that

1, 2,

necessary dependence that relates our individuality as

knowledge we were able

of

intuitively

our apprehension of the fact

to consider

our individual being and

to

uniqueness derives from the nature of God. oneself in this

way

pendent of any duration. Eternal

to

is

life

achieve eternal

life,

inde-

has nothing to do with sur-

vival of the soul following destruction of the body, or immortality,

for the soul exist

is

the idea of the

only so long as the body

what

is

ments

eternal life?

in the idea

We

man

body and therefore can continue itself

must once again imagine the three mo-

fashions of his

sees himself as a finite, singular

being

own

nature: at the outset he

(first

moment)

agines his reabsorbtion in universal necessity

he

is

;

next he im-

(second moment);

he reappears to himself as a singular being, except that

finally

moment). Thus the Ethic being as it passes from time

eternal (third

transfiguration of

to theologians,

spirit of Descrates,

who

The attribute foreground when he dealt with this basic point.

is

now

kind of

to eternity,

from

relegated such questions

seems incontestable. All the

found in Descartes' thought sprang from

beings

reveals a

That we are confronted here with something

finitude to infinity.

wholly alien to the

to

continues in existence. But just

his creative

of

difficulties that

their divergent views

God which will:

on

Descartes put in the

the relations between

and providential

Spinoza

God

God and

himself

is

finite

the cre-

ator of eternal truths, the guarantee of the criterion of evidence

through his veracity; he insures the constancy of motion, creates

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

184

the world at each instant through a soul

and body

by Descartes

for the

new

act, institutes

good of man. These were

to establish the impossibility of

all

the union of

notions advanced

deducing the nature

from God and, consequently, the

of finite, singular beings

necessity

of relegating to faith supernatural destiny and everything having to

do with the union of the soul with God; these were vehemently for us to

criticized

draw

by Spinoza. Nevertheless,

a hasty conclusion, for instead of pondering Des-

and the way he applied

his

method was

essence of his

method

geometry and physics. The

and

proceed

to

through intuition and deduction from one singular thing

solely

any

we

to

should note that (theoretically

rate) his explanation of the singular bodies of nature, the

heavens, or individual

man

left

no

unintelligible residue,

—manipulated

and

which did not originate

from

to

method

to consider his

to leave universals aside

another. In physics, for instance, at

we ought

theology and metaphysics,

cartes'

it

also the notions

would be wrong

and

that his corporeal

way by a woven in its

dealt with in this

in sensation

—was

physics entirety

intelligible relations.

Such considerations should guide our thinking. able to pass

passage,

if

from time

to eternity?

passage there

ment he begins

is,

is

is

to

quadam

aspect of eternity {sub

was Spinoza

has been asked. But such

an accomplished

to use the second

notions, for to use reason

it

How fact

from the mo-

kind of knowledge and

common

apprehend things under a certain aeterni specie). But there

is

really

no "passage" from time to eternity. Spinoza states this explicitly: "The desire to know things by the third kind of knowledge cannot arise from the first kind of knowledge." The whole treatise On the Improvement of the Understanding shows in fact that rational knowledge

is

direct contact

a point of departure with if

that "it can arise

it

is

ever to reach

its

which the soul must have goal,

though Spinoza adds

from the second type of knowledge"

indicates that he assumes,

(v, 28).

This

on the contrary, a perfect continuity

be-

tween knowledge sub quadam aeterni specie derived from common,

and

universal notions specie aeternitatis

.

eternal

The

life

our knowledge of ourselves sub

explanation



this

bears repeating



is

that

SPINOZA

185

the spiritual

an original

was not conceived by Spinoza

life

from which man has

state

progression; not one that to

perfect

makes us

that

knowledge deduced from

to

toward

methodical

makes us move from imperfect knowledge

knowledge but one

knowledge

as a return

fallen but as a

it.

pass

from

perfect

The common notions of God is deduced

reason are sources of deduction: from the idea of

an infinitude of

infinite attributes;

modes, such as the

infinite

from each

infinite

attribute are

sion,

which moves

inert

common

the attribute of

in

intellect

thought and constancy of motion in extension.

deduced

It is

in this progres-

by step toward singular things, and not in

step

And

notions that reason consists.

it

seems

at first

glance that deduction ends here, for Spinoza does not deduce finite

modes

from the absolute nature of

existing in time

though the singular being that we these modes.

such

But the

resides in

of the Ethics shows precisely that

fifth part

not the case and that deduction, as

is

and body,

are, soul

even

attributes

continues, brings us

it

same singular

beings,

endowed now, however, with

ent type of existence

known

not in time but sub specie aeternitatis.

to the

The

individual

was defined by

is

a differ-

not an obscure quiddity; the corporeal individual

a fixed, intelligible relation between motions (Defi-

nition, following

ii,

13)

without thinking of

;

its

therefore,

if

we

consider the relation

existence in time,

we apprehend

it

itself,

in

its

mode of mind is the

eternal essence as a necessary consequence of the infinite

And

extension represented by the laws of motion. idea of the body,

follows that even

"some part of

perishes,

namely

it

its

essence

divine intellect,

something

it,

which proceeds

from an

infinite

if

eternal,

from the

we

are eternal"

(v,

"We 23,

feel

body

(v, 23),

infinite or

of thought, just as

proceeds from the laws of motion in extension.

through experience that

the

must remain"

eternally

mode

if

the actually existing

its

body

and know

scholium), but

demonstrations involve "the eyes of the soul."

The

eternal life of the soul

essence that proceeds essence

which

we it

is

like the internal

from the divine

development of the

intellect.

By knowing

this

acquire a better understanding of the principle from

emanates, just as

we know more about

a geometric being

l86

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

we deduce more of the consequences of its definition: "The more we know about particular things, the more we understand about

as

God"

(v, 24)

knowledge

.

Thus

the third kind of

mind can

that the

knowledge

is

the

most perfect

attain. It yields the eternal joy that

God arises in the joy. The love which

culminates in beatitude, and an intellectual love of

God as the source of this God and which is linked to his essence must itself have God as its cause; since God is absolutely infinite, he must love himself with an infinite intellectual love; the soul's love for God mind when

it

identifies

the soul feels for

does not differ from God's love for himself but

This joy and

this love are affections

elements since by these affections

nature the soul

its

do not

produced the passive

is

is

it.

adequate cause. Yet,

their

is

differ essentially

from the conatus which

affections, since the conatus,

the essence of beings,

rather a part of

which no longer include passive

which constituted

pure affirmation which posits beings with-

Omnis One) contrasts with (statement from Part Five). A de-

out any temporal limits; they have lost only their limitations. (statement from Part

determinatio negatio

essentia particularis affirmativa

termination which

not contain

its

comprehends tistically

is

own

itself

but sees

a negation

the limit of a being that does

which

reason; a singular thing

because

its

is

it

no longer

falls

affirmative

is

back upon

dependence on the universe in

its

itself

ego-

very singu-

larity.

vii

Positive Religion

and

Politics

In his Theologicopolitical Treatise Spinoza shows the contrast

between an eternal

life

based on

ways of salvation taught by the

way

revealed to

clear, distinct

religions.

He

him by philosophy:

believer will be saved.

How,

then, are

knowledge and the

seems to regard the

we

to explain the outcries

occasioned by the appearance of the celebrated Treatise?

son

is

that Spinoza carefully isolates

by religions

—the

and

latter

like the philosopher, the

separates

The

rea-

two things united

teaching of truth and the rules of conduct to be

followed. For religions consider their sacred books not merely as a set of

commandments but

as a revelation that has

its

source in

God

187

SPINOZA

himself. In this

way there arises, alongside a religion that prescribes among men, a theology which is based on the pre-

and love sumed authority piety

God

shows us a

and

to anger,

of the divine revelation of Scripture

and which

subject to every passion, to repentance, to jealousy,

to pity.

Thanks

method

to the allegorical

Philo the Jew had provided the model, the theologians in ability

had long been accustomed not

sions that

and a

similarity

Cartesian and Spinozist

life,

prob-

were too offensive; but such half-measures assumed a

the second)

first

kind of knowledge to

between them, in direct contrast

spirit;

and in Spinoza's

powerful images that he throws into

Moses and the prophets owe

their

to the

exegesis of Scrip-

breath of

relief (the

the mythology of the angels, divine apparitions)

his opinion

all

to interpret literally expres-

passing from image to idea (from the

ture, the

which

for

show

hold on the

that in

common

people to the strength of their imagination; they do not go beyond the

domain of the

senses

and have no

clear

and

distinct

of things divine. It goes directly against the nature of ciate particular

God

to

enun-

laws which have a beginning in time and which are

addressed to only one

man

or only one nation; only eternal conse-

quences can be deduced from the nature of God. prohibited

knowledge

Adam

from eating of the

fruit

The

edict that

"was a law only with

man Adam and necessitated by the defectiveness his knowledge." That is also why God revealed himself to Moses a princely legislator. If God had spoken to him immediately, he

respect to the one

of as

"would have perceived the Decalogue not truth." Spinoza's

was the

first

attempt,

Richard Simon's, to perform a purely

as a

law but

much more

literal exegesis

as

an eternal

radical than

of the Bible;

thus he reached not the content of the precepts themselves but the reasons adduced to support them.

The ratives

dissociation

2

between the worth of

biblical or evangelical nar-

and the worth of the precepts they contained was accepted

as a matter of course in the religious circles that attracted Spinoza's 3

Louis Meyer, a close friend

who

published Spinoza's posthumous works, had

written a Philosophia scripturae interpres

(1666)

in

which he surmised

standard for interpreting Scripture was the agreement between the truths

and reason.

that it

the

taught

1

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

88

sympathy. In that

spirit

short,

of

all

consisted

them were animated by

the Socinian

expurgating religion of any theological

in

teaching and in accepting only precepts conforming to the light of nature; moreover, they found in Scripture

itself

many

passages that

strengthened their conviction. Here, therefore, Spinoza constructed nothing; he had before

him

a religion of salvation in

faith consists not in the idea of

from

it,

God and

but in the belief that obedience to the orders of God, con-

sidered as our king, can save us.

At

of faith.

the

He was

phy: "Even

if

we

not cease to give

and

religion

cal Treatise goes sible,

did not first

aware of the value

that "religion"

is

not

outlined in his philoso-

life as

know that our soul is eternal, we would among the objects of human existence

place

—in

short, to everything that relates to the in-

and generosity of the soul"

trepidity

fully

end of the Ethics he shows

dependent on knowledge of eternal

to piety

which saving

the consequences deduced

much

further, for

(v, 41).

The

Theologicopoliti-

declares that salvation

it

is

pos-

even without the second kind of knowledge, through the

simple, practical attitude of obedience.

The

theory of salvation through faith

thing Spinoza observed around him. his

consonant with every-

is

Is it

equally consonant with

whole system of philosophy? F. Rauh noted that the human

understanding, because of the infinite distance that separates

from the divine understanding, must admit salvation incomprehensible to in the Ethics, consists not in

it;

that there are

and he noted

it

ways of

that salvation, even

knowledge but rather

in the affection

it

and which can

conceivably be associated with other conditions.

We

should add that

Spinoza had direct experience with a religious

life

independent of

of joy

and blessedness which are

associated with

philosophy, and that even though he criticized experience as a source of intelligibility, he never denied certainty.

its

Furthermore, the entire Treatise

the positive elements of this experience

human

error

ideas of

God

—a

separation

is

worth

as a source of

devoted to separating

from the elements added by

accomplished by virtue of adequate

provided by philosophy. Spinozism

patible with the value of the religious experience.

is

perfectly

com-

SPINOZA

189

Be

that as

it

may,

was linked

his outlook

United Provinces, for

that prevailed throughout the

gion independent of theoretical beliefs or munities.

The

must stand

to the spirit of tolerance

rites that

must not support

state itself

as the defender of

fundamental tenet of Spinoza's

made

it

reli-

separated com-

a particular belief but

freedom of thought: that was the politics.

noza's description of the origin of society

We

saw

earlier that Spi-

was the same

as

Hobbes';

but whereas Hobbes concluded with the annihilation of the rights

and the sovereignty

of the individual

with a

liberal state that

individual even while

it

of the state, Spinoza

ended

did not abolish the natural rights of the instituted civil rights based

and

tional conception of justice

injustice.

This

is

on a conven-

true because his

point of departure, notwithstanding appearances, was not wholly identical to Hobbes's: in Spinoza's view, the

endeavor of a being

own being when implicated in passion is the same as its endeavor when it has become rational; or, to use the language of Hobbes, agreement among men led by reason is effected through the same forces that unleash universal war. The to persevere in its

state, therefore, is

role

is

its

limited to using fear of punishment to prevent conflicting

passions lates

not to use violence to suppress these forces;

from being

destructive; but for this very reason,

the rational affections that unite

of producing

have the right

them to

or excites hate

directly.

judge the

among

its

posed to that of Hobbes,

From

men, though

this

it

it

is

it

stimu-

incapable

follows that individuals

state or to rebel if the state uses violence

subjects: a conclusion diametrically op-

who

wrote with the intention of prevent-

ing revolution in his country, whereas Spinoza continued to support the liberal government of Jan de Witt following the Orangist party's

usurpation of authority.

viii

Spinozists

and AntiSpinozists

Spinozism remained an

ment

in

Holland.

essentially religious

Van Leenhof

(1 647-1712)

and

sectarian

move-

and Van Hattem

(1641-1706), both clergymen, popularized Spinoza's ideas on beati-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

I9O

tude and eternal

"When we

life

through works written in the vernacular.

consider the necessity of hardships in the eternal order

Van

of God," says

Leenhof, "and

when we can

fashion for our-

an adequate idea of his sufferings, hardships are no longer

selves

hardships but contemplations of the order of nature that always contain elements of satisfaction."

3

The

Spinozist sect

was

severely

persecuted by theologians.

The doctrine was The Cartesians were

not favorably received by other philosophers. particularly conscientious about replying to ac-

cusations such as those of Leibniz,

The same

of Spinozism."

who saw

in Descartes "the seeds

accusations are found again in a

work

of

Aubert de Verse entitled The Sincere Unbeliever or Dissertation

Which Are Refuted the Foundations of His Atheism (1684). The work contained not only a refutation of Spinoza's impious maxims but also a refutation of the principal against Spinoza, in

hypotheses of Cartesianism which were said to be the origin of

Spinozism. These were the hypotheses of extended substance and continuous creation.

Thus

the refutations of the Cartesians con-

tinued without intermission.

Among them

were Wittich (Anti-

(Fundamenta atheismi

spinoza, 1690), Poiret

eversa, in the second

edition of Cogitationes rationales, 1685), Regis (Refutation of Spi-

noza's Opinion of the Existence

and Nature

of

God, following The

Use of Reason and Faith), and the Benedictine Francois Lamy (New Atheism Destroyed, or Refutation of the System of Spinoza,

Drawn Man,

for the

Most Part from the Knowledge

of

Truth and of

1706).

But the anti-Spinozism of Bayle, the exponent of the

and of

We

tolerance, equaled that of Leibniz,

need only

many

recall the

systematic atheist," "the

man who 3

he

aussi ct

ciel

who

reduce atheism to a system," the

God was

subject to extension

and conse-

denied the principle of contradiction and

sur la terre, ou description breve et claire de la veritable et solide joie,

conforme a

la raison

sous toutes les formes

cartesienne,

notes in his Dictionary against "the

first to

admitted that

quently divisible,

critical spirit

Malebranche, or Fenelon.

I,

419.

qu'a la sainte ecriture, presentee a toute espece

d'hommes

(1703). Quoted by Bouillier, Histoire de la philosophic

191

SPINOZA

said that

God was

subject to contrasting modes,

who

denied moral

"The Germans killed ten thousand Turks," but "God in the form of Germans killed God in the form of ten thousand Turks"). Bayle's indignation was passed

responsibility

on

(for

one must not

say,

and even found its way into the Encyclopedia. Not German Romantic movement was there a rivival of in-

to Voltaire

until the terest in It is

Spinozism.

true that in his

De

ficto Baylii

Poiret charged that this indignation

adversus Spinozam certamine,

was

spurious. In his article

(Note O) Bayle did in

fact attribute the origin of Spinoza's system

to the objections of the

Manicheans

the grounds of the existence of evil. are invalid

if

(as in

to the unity of the principle,

They

Spinoza) the principle

ing in accordance with the infinitude of are all valid

if this

principle

is

zism gave Bayle an opportunity ness of the

Manichean

—those

Spinoza

is

its

a necessary cause act-

power but

a providential nature.

that they

Thus Spino-

to call attention to the persuasive-

objections.

Other pretended refutations of

of the Collegiant Jan

Bredenburg {Enervatio

tatus theologicopolitici, Rotterdam, 1675) lainvilliers

on

note that these objections

trac-

and of the Count of Bou-

{Refutation of the Errors of Benedict Spinoza) also can

be classed as disguised apologies intended to promulgate the doctrine.

I

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MALEBRANCHE Life

i

pleted

and Wor\s

—with

born in Paris little

enthusiasm

theology at the College of

became

1659),

(1664),



1638, Nicolas

and except

Malebranche com-

courses in philosophy

his first

La Marche and

a novice in the Oratory (1600),

and

the Sorbonne

(1654—

was ordained

a priest

for occasional sojourns in the provinces, resided

in the Oratory of the to

in

Rue Saint-Honore

until his death.

He

is

said

have discovered the philosophy and method of Descartes in 1664,

upon reading the lished,

and

quivered.

to

treatise

On Man which La Forge had

just

pub-

have been so deeply moved by his discovery that he

Even

this

if

account

is

not true,

we

can be sure that

meditation on the works of Descartes awakened in interest in philosophy.

In 1674 he published the

first

him an volume

avid

of his

Search for Truth, followed in 1675 by the second volume, then by a third

volume

of Clarifications.

During

his lifetime the

work went

through several editions. Christian Conversations (1676), a sum-

mary

Due

of the Christian doctrine,

was published

at the request of the

de Chevreuse. His Short Meditations on Humility and Pen-

itence

(1677)

initiated a

polemic with Arnauld on grace. Male-

branche developed his theory of grace in his Treatise on Nature and

Grace (1680), which was censured by both Bossuet and the Jansenist.

"Pulchra,

Fenelon,

in

nova, falsa'/ wrote

Bossuet on his copy;

agreement with him, published 197

his

Refutation

and of

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

190

Malebranche's System concerning Nature and Grace, while Bos-

him

reproved

suet

publicly

in

funeral

the

oration

of

Marie

Therese. Arnauld, in turn, began by attacking Malebranche's philosophical theses in his

many

followed by

On True and

book

rejoinders

brought charges against Malebranche in

having less

book placed on the Index

his

False Ideas, which was

and counter-joinders; furthermore, he

Rome and

in 1690.

succeeded in

Malebranche neverthe-

defended his ideas by publishing the Treatise on Morals (1683),

Christian Meditations (1683),

and Religion hove

(1688). In 1697 he wrote his short Treatise on the

him with Bossuet in the famous quarrel His relations with M. de Lionne, a bishop who

God, which

of

and Conversations on Metaphysics

over quietism.

allied

served as a missionary in China, prompted the tract Conversation

between a Christian Philosopher and a Chinese Philosopher on the

God

Existence of

(1707). Finally, in 1714, Boursier's book,

tion of

God on

his last

work, Reflections on Physical Promotion.

The Ac-

from Malebranche

the Creature, elicited a reply

He

in

died in Octo-

ber, 1715.

Philosophy and Theology

11

"He maintained tranquillity,"

his personal integrity in

wrote Lelong after the death of Malebranche.

uniformly pure and

style, too, is

tumult as well as in

lively.

Without irony or

1

His

bitterness,

but always with the appropriate tone, he depicted the intellectual inconsistencies of

danger of

minds

men

solely

men,

especially those of scholars,

with "powerful imaginations"

who dominate weak who are

and imagination which

forcibly

which appealed

imposed

Malebranche's two great enemies. Inflexible in his

beliefs,

itself

new commentary on There 1

is

were

he yielded

neither to Bossuet nor to Arnauld; moreover, each of his

a

also the

through the vividness of their images and

responsible for all kinds of superstitions. Erudition to authority

and

works

is

the same themes.

nothing, according to Malebranche, that will not lead

Quoted by Blampignon, Etude

sw

Malebranche,

p. 40.

MALEBRANCHE

199

us to

God when

summation of life.

and

that

we

is

is

only a part of

re-

take his most celebrated theses: the theory of occa-

assumes that only the actions of

duped by our imagination

are

form whatsoever

—even

God

is

our sole

knowledge of material bodies

and meditation teaches us

that self-love, far

when he

leads him,

God. Malebranche's system things appear clearly to the

pend upon God

if

God are efficacious we attribute efficacy

to his creatures; the theory of the divine

origin of ideas assumes that, because

knowledge

from God,

the

is

essentially religious or rather

that living according to reason

To

sional causes

in any

which

his philosophy,

which assumes ligious

properly used as a basis for meditation. This

is

—leads

light,

any

us to him;

from separating man

has been enlightened, to the love of

which

a vast act of conversion in

mind and allow

us to see that

we

all

de-

"God is wholly everywhere," said St. Auguswhy we are able to remember him. Man remembers enough to turn toward God as toward the light which reaches him in some way even when he departs from it." Such thoughts

tine,

"and that

alone.

is

were the object of constant meditations dre Martin

(Ambrosius Victor),

in

in the Oratory. Father

An-

Sanctus Augustinus: de

his

Dei (1653), had brought together all of the eternal truth, identical with God, uncreated, im-

existentia et veritate saint's texts

mense, to

on

this

infinite, superior to

any created

intelligence, yet accessible

man's understanding through the rules of geometry or moral

precepts;

and he had contrasted the

which denied that

intellectualist theory

which sought truth

sensationalist theory

man

in

with the

sensible images

and

could attain through ethics anything other

than unstable precepts, or go beyond knowledge of bodies and whatever resembles bodies.

In minds so disposed,

tween the

this

Augustinianism. life

find

no exact

limit of philosophical thought

religious life;

gious

we

is

To

line of

and the

a resurgence of St.

demarcation bestarting point of

Bonaventure's

spirit

appreciate thoroughly the integration of

and philosophy, we must

recall the affinity of

of

reli-

Augustin-

ianism and Cartesianism which already existed long before the

appearance of Search for Truth. Descartes, even more forcefully

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

200

than

Augustine, separated the intellect from the senses, saw

St.

truth only in the intellect,

and grounded

leave

God and

face to face with

it

been alleged,

we can

itself.

and

Contrary to what has often

be sure that Malebranche did not find univer-

When

he entered the

make

Congregation, his superiors took every precaution to

was

that the only doctrine taught

generally accepted

ascetic

the sensible world

sympathy for Descartes in the Oratory.

sal

on

his philosophy

mind from

practices designed to isolate the

and necessary

certain

that of Aristotle, "the only one

for students."

2

But

their precau-

tions prove that there existed a current favorable to the idealistic

One

views of Plato and Descartes.

thing

is

certain

—Malebranche's

profound admiration for Descartes. In 1673 he retracted the signature which he, along with all the others in the Oratory, had affixed to

an anti-Cartesian statement.

He

nevertheless

He

abandoned a

certain

number

of Cartesian doc-

has an idea of

God is the creator of eternal truths, that man God, that man has a clear and distinct idea of his

soul, that soul

and body

trines.

That

his negations

accord lation

denied that

is

and the general

easily discernible: truth

God

between soul and

sented by an idea; ourselves.

general

are united through

we

is

spirit of

is

mutual

interaction.

Augustinianism are in

uncreated and infinite; the

God

immediate;

find only obscurity

re-

cannot be repre-

when we

retire

within

His negations are equally consonant, however, with one

trait

observable in the evolution of Cartesianism.

type of clear and distinct idea

mechanics in physics: anything that

serves as the basis of

extension or

number

is

The

the notion of extension,

not within the province of

is

human

only

which is

not

under-

standing. Malebranche expressed his point of view clearly when,

toward the end of

work and took

his career,

issue

with Spinoza. "To demonstrate," he

to develop a clear idea

and

idea necessarily includes;

enough tension 2

to be

he commented on the whole of his

to

and

it

said, "is

deduce with certainty whatever the

seems

to

me

that the only ideas clear

used in accomplishing demonstrations are those of ex-

and numbers. Not even

the soul has any

Quoted by G. Gouhier, La vocation de Malebranche,

knowledge

p. 53.

of itself;

MALEBRANCHE

201 it

has only an inward awareness of

even

ing

finite, it is

ity.

... As for me,

regarding

capable of

less I

am

I

owe

I

mainly

it

modifications. Be-

its

knowing the attributes of infindogmas of faith in things

certain for a thousand reasons that

they are solidly grounded; and verity,

and

build only on the

because

faith,

itself

to

if

these

have discovered a theological

I

dogmas."

Here we

3

warned: apart from mathematics and physics, nothing strable because tions; this

we have no

clear idea of the basis of

demon-

our demonstra-

the antithesis of the view of Leibniz,

is

duly

are is

who was

con-

vinced that metaphysical truths are demonstrable. It

would seem

two points of view: that of the theologian who draws

from dogmas and and

and

grace,

tries to

who works

that of the scientist

theologians

—Arnauld,

is

with physics and

by no means so simple, for contem-

and

Bossuet,

Fenelon

Malebranche mainly because he placed too much

As

of reason.

early as 1671 Rohault advised

own

point of view, the warning

stress

thesis: reason or the

makes

little

sense. All of

men and who lated,

despite

God who became

flesh in

mysteries

incomprehensible

and thought and philosophical

example, prayers like a prayer

with truth. essentially

man 3

elicit

grace,

which the

The

no

to

the

different

life

and the attention

Word

identical

order to save is

trans-

human mind, exists

between

and thought. For of the scientist

is

answers by illuminating his mind

steps followed

by

God

in creating the

world are

from the methodical process through which

understands nature.

"To

"Correspondance avec Mairan,"

P-345-

is

bestows on them divine grace. This identity

through an analogous relationship that somehow religious life

governed

is

inward word that illuminates

the meditations of the mathematician and the physicist

with the Word, the Son of

role

him not to shock peoif we assume Male-

Malebranche's philosophical and religious speculation

by the following

—censured

on the

But

ple by appearing to miscere sacra profanis.

branche's

his inspiration

understand the divine scheme of nature

mathematics. But the question porary

embraces

to follow that Malebranche's philosophy

consider the properties of extension

in Cousin,

Fragments de philosophic cartcsienne,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

202

Malebranche, "we must begin, like Descartes, with

in order," writes

and pass from the simplest

their simplest relations

the most

to

this way of examining our ideas and mind and is simplest, but also because it

complex, not only because their relations helps the will give us a better

understanding of the works of God, inasmuch

he always chooses the shortest course and

as

4

manner."

And,

in a

review of his whole system, he called attention

"new philosophy" and

the identity of the

to

new philosophy

called

overturns

in complete

For

religion.

cause."

The two

if

new

gion, the

harmony with

the

"The

religion:

so-

the reasons of the freethinkers

all

through the establishment of the greatest of is

an orderly

in

acts

first

its

principles,

which

principle of the Christian

religion teaches us that there

is

but one true

philosophy shows us that there

is

reli-

but one true

5

influence of the

new

spirit is

seen in his theology, which has

principles that are basically identical:

God

through

acts only

general manifestations of his will, and he acts through the simplest

ways.

We

same thing when we say

are stating the

cerned only with himself all his acts,

and

consequences of

when he

acts, that "his

that

God

is

that he wishes only to manifest his attributes. this principle are

con-

glory" determines

The

obvious: Christian theology seems

in effect to posit "particular" manifestations of the divine will in

the sense intended by Malebranche.

Incarnation as a consequence of

For

Adam's

instance, sin

and

ransoming man; miracles, which are contrary of nature, also will; the

seem

to

God

willed the

for the purpose of

to the ordinary course

be particular manifestations of the divine

same thing applies

to the election of those saved

by grace.

Malebranche, on the other hand, in his interpretation of these dogmas,

tries to

explain

them without

lar manifestation of his will.

problem of

attributing to

maximum and minimum:

the problem

the greatest effect by the simplest means, particular end. 4

5

and

incarnation of the Son of

la Verite, Book VI, Part Two, chap, Book VI, Part Two, chap, iii, 68.

Recherche de Ibid.,

The

God any

Creation, for example,

this

God

iv, ed.

is

was

to

particu-

God

a

to obtain

excluded any is

independent

Bouillier,

II,

72.



MALEBRANCHE

203

man; the redemption is its result and not its end; the incarnation would have taken place even if Adam had not sinned because the world would otherwise have been a production of the redemption of

unworthy of God. Miracles themselves inasmuch

into the

fit

scheme of things

with respect to the

as they are objects of a particular will

laws of nature and therefore are included in the more general laws of the

Kingdom

For Grace too

of Grace.

most deeply the theologians of

(this

his time) has

Kingdom God had willed a

scandalous to assume that the

Adam's

to

sin

and

that

sequences would be

He

Kingdom

of Grace

through an absolutely general act of will through which he produced nature Malebranche's aim

the part that stirred

of Grace was subordinate

world, one of whose con-

Kingdom

of Grace.

—the kingship of Christ

to

which even the

act of will

subordinate.

is

obvious: to eliminate from

is

would be

laws. It

its

order to establish the

sin, in

willed instead the

is

Christianity

everything that makes the vision of the universe a veritable drama characterized by unforeseeable initiatives, everything that

He

an actual history characterized by accidents.

is

makes

it

not trying to

submerge Christianity (following a pattern now familiar

to us) in

drama become the divine reality and in which

a metaphysics in which the events of the sacred

necessary

moments

physics

indistinguishable

is

with the Cartesian

in the evolution of a

from theology; but he seeks

which

spirit

and

it

sees at the heart of reality only a

reason acting methodically and by isolate the clear

to infuse

own

its

initiative,

and which can

distinct ideas that will provide

man

with a

physics independent of theology.

One

difficulty

remains

is

:

not original

sin,

Christian faith transformed the conditions of

unforeseeable initiatives that do not

Malebranche's study of the soul the outset by the to

dogma

of original

misconstrue his conclusions

made

if

we

fit

is

which according

human

into the

life,

to the

one of the

scheme of things?

dominated wholly and from

sin,

and

it

would be easy

failed to realize that

for us

he always

two psychologies: Adam's psychology and Adam's psychology after his sin, which is our

a distinction between

before his sin,

own. Our psychology

is

characterized by the dependence of the

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

204 soul,

which has become

upon the body.

passions,

and of the

a plaything of the imagination

dependence which we experience

this

It is

continuously and which the Search for Truth describes in detail.

Reason, however,

inasmuch

us that this dependence contradicts order

tells

as the soul

is

superior in perfection to the body: normally

Thus "experience

the body ought to obey the soul.

proof that things are not as our reason

and

it is

its

transmission to

abnormal, confused psychology that the

body

things

is

men

all

ours.

is

adequate

us they ought to be,

tells

Only Adam's

ridiculous to philosophize against experience."

and the dogma of

sin

offers

can explain the

The predominance

of

the effect of sin. But sin did not change the scheme of

and Malebranche

will

show

that confusion

the consequence

is

of universal laws themselves, not of a modification in the conduct

God toward man

of

Human

in

following Adam's

sin.

Nature

Malebranche

belong to

attributes to the soul faculties that

it

in-

dependently of any connection with the body: understanding, which is

the faculty to receive ideas,

motion of the soul, the

two

soul. Since

faculties

and

inclination,

we have no

clear

which

and

to the body,

and

idea; understanding

inclination

Both before and

the natural

distinct idea of the

can be understood only by analogy with the

modalities of extension, the only object of which

and unmistakable

is

after

is

is

to the soul

Adam's

sin,

we have

to the soul

what motion

these faculties

a clear

what shape is

is

to the body.

were operative

only in connection with certain modifications of the soul caused by its

union with the body. Intellection

is

always accompanied by im-

ages that originate in the senses, just as inclinations are always ac-

companied by

passions,

which

are to inclinations

are to pure understanding. Inclinations are the

and

so

is

there are

what the

same

senses

in everyone,

understanding; by contrast, depending on the individual,

many

varieties of passions

and

sensations. Prior to sin,

imagination was subservient to understanding, just as passions were subservient to right inclinations.

We

know

that the

image has a

MALEBRANCHE

205

double role in Cartesian psychology: as

when

at times

a cause of error,

it is

the senses deceive us with respect to the distance of the

sun; at times

it is

an aid

when

to the intellect, as

to a state in

which, before the Fall, the image was always an aid,

which man, capable of directing

and

in

how

to eliminate useless or

The same

the intellect uses

Malebranche referred

straight lines to represent abstract quantities.

his attention at will,

knew

harmful sensations.

applies to passions: a passion implies a prior determi-

nation of inclination or will toward an object which the will represents as

good or toward an

represents as evil,

and

this

of love, desire, or aversion.

the union of soul a

way

determination

is

accompanied by feelings

Only then do passions

and body, the animal

spirits

by virtue of

arise;

move about

body in the proper position

as to put the

one which the will

object contrary to the

to unite

in such

with good

or to shun evil; and this motion generates in the soul an emotion

accompanied by feelings of love or hatred much more intense than those that accompanied simple inclination. to the order of nature,

Thus

passions belong

and before the Fall they had no

role other

than that of reinforcing right inclinations; but in the same way

and

in accordance with the

that have It

same

laws, they reinforce inclinations

become bad and depraved. and body,

follows that sin did not create the union of soul

whose laws remained

identical before

change the union into a dependence. ing, even

though

it

did not participate in

the free initiative of the will,

degree that

though

it

its

lost

and

It also

exercise

none of

its

clear

and

it

did

follows that understand-

sin,

which was a

was nevertheless

depended on

but

after the Fall,

affected

by

result of it

to the

attention, a faculty of the will; distinct ideas,

ously submerged in the flow of images. This

is

it

was continu-

the state depicted

by Malebranche in the Search for Truth, in which

five of the six

books are devoted to an investigation of the causes of errors in the senses, imagination, understanding, inclinations,

Man

subjects

his

and

judgments of material things

wrongly assuming that the senses give him the

passions. to

the senses,

real qualities of

things instead of expressing the relations of things to our

own

bod-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

206

Imagination depends

ies.

on the constitution of the brain;

first

women,

that are too delicate, like those found in tal application, for

they cannot resist the invasion of images; fibers

that are too hard, like those

images to

settle,

fibers

any men-

rule out

found in old people, do not allow new

with the result that an old

man

is

dominated by

Imagination also depends on properties acquired by the

his past.

brain: animal spirits follow

most

easily routes that they

have

al-

ready traveled. This accounts for the kind of spiritual inertia that gives us the illusion of finding again in

already know.

based on our

It also first,

tion. Finally, a

with a weak imagination

we

men

dependent on

is

seduced by poets, orators, writers,

is

who impose upon him images and beliefs. also susceptible to errors when it fails to dom-

storytellers

The understanding

is

mainly in taking abstractions

inate images: such errors consist real, in

the things that

irradicable impressions acquired through educa-

man

with powerful imagination; he

and simple

new things

accounts for our absurd respect for authority,

introducing into things

all

to be

the powers of occult forces which

Scholastics accept as explanations.

As of

for inclination,

depravation through original sin

our errors. Inclination,

all

The motion tinct idea

God

its

of the soul

—no

more

is

will, love



all

is

the basis

are one to Malebranche.

not apprehended through a clear and

so than

any other mental faculty

—but

dis-

since

has his end in himself, he could not have given to the soul any

impulsion other than toward universal order, toward good in general.

"The

desire for formal beatitude or for pleasure in general

the gist or essence of the will to the degree that

ing the good." This impulsion includes love of

we

capable of lov-

it is

self:

is

"God

wills that

should will the perfection of our being through the invincible

love that he has for immutable order." In the theological controver-

over quietism, Malebranche takes a decisive stand against the

sies

advocates of disinterested love

excluded love of

God

puts in me],

self like

Sin

is

self.

who

"Through

when

the Stoic sage,

I

I

put

it

pretended that true love of

this [natural love for

to

good use instead

seek only him,

I

God

myself that

of pleasing

my-

tend only toward him."

precisely the misuse of such love. Since

God

has

endowed man

MALEBRANCHE

207

with a motion that carries him toward the universal good, he always has enough power to go beyond particular goods presented to

by

But suppose he

his understanding.

the will

—a failure of the will

love of self gives

way

ward

good the

a particular

Man

universal good. also free to is

still it

arrests his will in the presence

Thus

of a particular good: then he sins.

sin

is

a kind of failure of

Then

power.

to exercise its full

to vanity

and concupiscence;

man

him

force that has been given to

and cause

it

to deviate. In either case, his

not the creation of a force, for

tesian physics the deviation of a

we know

true

turns tofor the

free to follow the divine impulsion;

is

him

he

is

freedom

that according to Car-

motion requires no supplementary

force.

Foremost among these deviate inclinations which give errors are the desire for limits of

rise

to

knowledge, which spurs us on beyond the

our minds, the desire to appear wise, which produces the

love of paradox,

and the individual friendships

that cause us to ap-

prove the thoughts of others uncritically. In the absence of a clear and distinct idea of the mind, the

dogma

of original sin then allowed Malebranche to obtain in psychology a result

analogous to the result reached by Descartes in physics: with

his clear

and

distinct idea of extension, Descartes substituted for the

confusion of sensible qualities a mechanistic physics in which the

mind sin,

proceeds in an orderly fashion; with the

dogma

of original

Malebranche, in order to understand the disordered complica-

tions of

our inner

life,

made

defines the relations of soul,

of nature; the soul

the body. This

is

use of a normative psychology which

God, and body according

to the order

God and

in control of

then in subservience to

dogma,

like all the others,

enabled

him

to introduce

order and reason into his interpretation of the universe.

Malebranche's moral philosophy conception of

human

through principles curved nius

lines

is

to

is

wholly dependent upon his

nature. "Ethics demonstrated to

and explained

knowledge of man what knowledge of

knowledge of

and Archimedes are

the relations of

is

straight lines";

to Euclid.

it

is

Mathematics has

what Apolloits

source in

magnitude which the mind contemplates in the

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

208

Word;

divine

perfection which are no tions of

from the contemplation of

ethics derives

magnitude.

are four, that

immutable and

relations of

certain than the rela-

can see with equal clearness that two and two

I

mind

less

superior to matter,

is

estimable than a stone and

and

that a beast

more

is

estimable than a man. Moral virtue

less

made

begins with sustained attentiveness,

by sin and per-

difficult

haps impossible by the absence of grace, which allows us to see the

immutable order of perfection and to

conform

to

it;

the difficulty

An

the light appears." the sight of

God

to cause our conduct, like God's,

in "always suspending assent until

is

and

act will be meritorious

will justify us in

when accomplished through

only

love of order

based on our vision of relations of perfection. Love of order

mon

to all

men and

subsists

our vision of order that

is

is

com-

even in the greatest sinners; thus

it is

rendered impossible by the depravity of

our inclinations, and only inner meditation, together with the suspension of action associated with

The

mind

the mind," that

is,

ments of the world from at every

moment

to listen

same language." These

virtues of the pagans:

often

is

Freedom

in order to gain the

belief

is

the understanding

is

in "retiring within oneself

virtues are quite different

from the

the injuries inflicted It is

uses false

upon

his laziness that

his Stoic pride that consoles

that an effort of the will as,

of

by sentiment

and determine whether inner truth

neither moderate nor patient.

own

life

consists in hearing the judg-

and

all sides

out meditation upon order, just

iv

work

"One who endures

makes him immobile and branche's

to

in not letting oneself be misled

but in arriving at clear ideas.

him

power and freedom. Power

cardinal virtues then are mental

consists in "putting the

the

can combat this depravity.

it,

is

him." Male-

impossible with-

in the sciences,

all

the

work

of

unproductive without method.

Occasional Causes

Even before Malebranche,

of course,

the theory of occasional causes.

To

identical with simple extension

was

belong to the body since

it

many

Cartesians arrived at

consider a physical body as being to say that

was not contained

motive force did not

in the notion of exten-

MALEBRANCHE

209

sion. Indeed, Descartes

God at

motion with

identified the first cause of

and, adopting the thesis of continuous creation, assumed that

moment

each

modes

other hand,

On

must be repeated.

in time the divine act

(idea or feeling in thought,

the

motion in exten-

sion) always imply substance in the Cartesian sense, but substance

never implies the effective existence of this or of that mode; consequently the existence of a

mode

is

due

an

to

efficient

cause alien to

substance which (unlike the substance of Aristotle or of Leibniz) receives

its

modes without producing them.

Finally, as

presented

it is

by Descartes, the distinction between soul and body makes any kind

two substances

of interaction between the

and the

unintelligible,

—in sensations, passions, or —necessitates recourse to a cause superior to both. Fur-

correspondence that exists between them voluntary acts

thermore, the paradigm of mathematical intelligibility consists in constant relations which do not contain the idea of any efficient

power.

Malebranche uses

all

belief that creatures

only through

its

have

idea,

common

of these arguments to refute the efficient

and

powers.

We

can judge a thing

obvious that extension does not

is

it

embrace a motive force or a force capable of producing modificamind. But Malebranche goes further in

tions in the

Considering independently the idea of to act,

he shows that

true cause it

and

is

its effect."

condition.

this

such that the

Any

Only the

mind

perceives a necessary link between

will of is

body can be modified through itself

his analysis.

cause or of power

notion includes something divine, for "a

true causality

pable of creating

efficient

an omnipotent being

satisfies this

essentially creative: to say that the

its

own power

is

to say that

it is

ca-

with modifications different from those willed

by God. Belief in the efficacy of natural causes

and

Aristotle's doctrine

was but one

that this analysis alone enables causality in the soul even stance.

He

was

of

its

at the root of

forms.

Malebranche

though he has no

to

We

paganism,

should note

deny any

efficient

clear idea of this sub-

goes even further than his predecessors and denies

not only any power over the body but also any power over

it

itself.



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

210

(Freedom,

Thus he

we saw

as

earlier,

not a true power of the soul.)

is

puts on the same plane the philosophical exigency of in-

telligibility

and the

religious notion of the powerlessness of created

beings.

The

affirmation that

God

alone

an

is

A

such a theory.

cause

efficient

complete theory of occasional causes, but

is

it

a

first

not the

is

toward

step

on the part of the Muslim

similar affirmation

theologians of the ninth century introduced discontinuity and arbitrariness into the universe.

who

fore acts through versal

laws.

of Malebranche

in the simplest

immutable decrees and

a

is

ways and who

God

there-

in accordance with uni-

Furthermore, these laws produce the most varied a mathematical function, while yet preserving

results, just as

identity,

God

But the

and proceeds

loves order

when

assumes different values

Here the

to the variable.

such conditions

variable

—and the constant

is

event

this or that particular

is

meeting of two bodies that

for example, the

its

different values are assigned

collide

under such and

the laws by which motions are

moment to assume determinate The collision is then said to be the

imparted, causing the bodies at this speeds in a determinate direction.

occasional or natural cause of the motion.

not a

natural cause then

cause but only an occasional cause, and

real, true

author of nature act in

God

A

this or that

manner on

is

makes the

it

this or that occasion;

continuously adjusts the efficacy of his action to the state of his

creation.

That

is

enough

to satisfy experience,

which requires only

a constant relation between the modalities of nature

herent power to It is clear

that experience

constant relation. state the

from the

and not an

in-

act.

To

is

indispensable to the discovery of this

state that

God

has a constant will

nature of his will in addition. Descartes

not to

is

deduced

its

laws

which

is

itself

rule of the conservation of motion, a rule

based on the principle "that the action of the creator must bear the

stamp of

his immutability." "Nevertheless," says

perience has convinced us that Descartes

metaphysical principle of his opinion clusion that he draws

from

it is

is

is

Malebranche, "ex-

wrong, not because the

false

but because the con-

not true, even though at

first

glance

MALEBRANCHE

211 it

seems highly probable" {Search,

II,

Thus

397).

in 1698, in re-

sponse to Leibniz* criticism, Malebranche changed the laws of impact

which he had based on the principle of the conservation of

motion in the

The notion

first

of occasional cause, therefore,

When

notion of law.

and body,

edition of his Search.

linked closely to the

is

Malebranche, speaking of the union of soul

God

says that in sensation or passion

has established

certain modifications of the body which are the occasional causes

of certain modifications of the soul, or that

God

has established in

the will certain thoughts which are the occasional causes of certain

motions, by the same token he

is

teaching the existence of laws

governing the union of soul and body, and these are the laws he tries

to

determine through his psychophysiological investigations

which play such an important part in is

his

work. Moreover, a thought

the occasional cause of another thought in the soul; consequently

the soul also has constant laws. of these laws

Malebranche

calls attention to

—the one which holds that attentiveness

by the perception of

is

no man achieves

clear ideas. Finally,

vided

it is

God

his actions (prayers or

good works) that have pro-

him

with the occasions for bestowing grace on

cordance with certain laws

unknown

justifica-

on him by

tion independently but only through merit conferred

grace; yet

one

accompanied

in ac-

to us.

Occasionalism, far from assuming a "perpetual miracle" (Leibniz* criticism),

is

whose laws v

The

therefore inseparable

rigidly determine the

X attire

of

All Things in

from

whole

a

deterministic doctrine

series of events.

6

Knowledge and Seeing

God

All the philosophers inspired by Descartes dealt with the different

"kinds of knowledge"; like Spinoza, however, they accepted the clear

and

distinct idea as the

viewed any other knowledge

paradigm of perfect knowledge and

as

an obscure and indistinct

Malebranche was a great innovator. In his work •Principal texts: Recherche,

v and

vi: Entretiens, vii.

Book VI, Part Two, chap,

iii;

we

idea.

Here

find neither

Meditations chreuennes,



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

212

and

the notion of an obscure

whatever

is

indistinct idea nor the thesis that

known through

not

a clear

and

distinct idea

through an obscure and indistinct idea. Whatever

through a idea.

and

clear

distinct idea is not

Here we find an

known known

is

not

is

known through any kind

of

implicit criticism of Cartesianism, for Male-

branche implied that his concept of ideas was quite different from Descartes'.

To

Descartes, ideas were "images" of things

which con-

tained "objectively" whatever things contained "formally," objective existence being an inferior degree of formal existence. rejected such a distinction,

word

tributed to the

model.

It is

which seemed obscure

result that things

finite

the

for

at-

"idea" only the Platonic sense of archetype or

must be judged according to

assume three

knowledge: from things themselves

God,

Malebranche him, and

only in this sense that ideas represent things, with the

Malebranche had of

to

it is

can see

to their ideas.

different

—for

ways

of

Thus

acquiring

example, our knowledge

obvious that he has no archetype and that the In-

itself

only in

knowledge we have of

itself;

"all

from awareness or inner

feeling

things that are indistinguishable in-

dependently" and the only knowledge

we have

from our ideas of things

that pertains exclusively to

things different as

—knowledge

from ourselves and unknowable

our knowledge of natural bodies.

that the

knowledge of bodies

to

It is

of our souls;

and

in themselves, such

important for us to note

which Malebranche here

refers is

not the analytical knowledge of the physicist but ordinary perception of external bodies. If ideas are

was bound

the archetypes of things they represent, Malebranche

to arrive at the celebrated thesis of seeing all things in

God. Ideas cannot be the hovering species which Democritus made

an intermediary between body and mind. Ideas are not creatures

when one

of the mind, for an idea, senses, appears as a

much

of a cube are

both

realities

resist the

two things

no longer a prisoner

of the

truer reality than the material thing

represents. It has properties

which somehow

is

which the mind discovers

in

it

it

and

mind. The idea of a square and the idea

and to make mind would be to

that exhibit real differences,

depend upon one

creative act of the

MALEBRANCHE

213

attribute to

it

Nor can

the omnipotence of God.

it

be said that these

ideas are innate in the soul, for they appear to the soul

and

the other in the succession of our perceptions;

assumed

to be present in the soul, they

also the

power

if

would have

to choose within this chaotic state.

one

after

they were

all

to be accorded

The

process of

elimination leaves only one possible hypothesis: they are seen directly in

God. God must have within himself the ideas of

human

beings he has created; in addition, the

mediately with

God and

ways by revealing

God

the

acts in the sim-

an external

to us in himself the idea of

moment when this body nally, on our own bodies. Seeing all things in God was the

body

all

united im-

is

always sees a particular, determinate being

only as a limitation in infinite Being. Finally, plest

soul

produces

at the

its

impression, exter-

subject of an ardent polemic

with the Cartesians Arnauld and Regis, for criticism of Malebranche on

this point

was always made

Arnauld, though not very receptive

in the

to

initiated his

Malebranche's theses on

to his attention a year earlier.

polemic against seeing

On True and theses

of Descartes.

Nature and Grace (1680),

grace, did not reply to his Treatise on

which Malebranche had brought

name

things in

all

God

He

with the book

False Ideas (1683); not until 1685 did he attack the

on grace. Regis, who had supported Arnauld's opinion

in his

System of Philosophy, engaged in a discussion with Malebranche in 1694. In the

long

series of rejoinders

and

counter-rejoinders, the

same arguments often reappear. One common postulate to

Descartes separates

stated

Malebranche from

by Arnauld as follows:

we

to determine the nature

is

ception of is

it;

the

known

No

and origin of object

is is

our ideas [and

one thinks of denying

acquired through ideas.

Arnauld, the idea of an object

was

see immediately and which are

the immediate object of our thought."

knowledge of bodies

attributable

adversaries. It

"It is quite true that

not bodies] are the things which that

his

no

The

sole

aim

is

these ideas. According to

different

from the

identical with the act

soul's per-

by which

it

known. This unique thing, this perception-idea, has only two

relations:

one

to the soul that

it

modifies (perception), the other to



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

214

the thing perceived in so far as

it

exists objectively in the

under-

standing (idea). Here objective existence designates the manner in

which

"objects are

perfect

manner

an

wont

to exist in the

mind," a "much more im-

of being than that through

existent." Perception,

the soul; consequently an idea

object

is

really

a modification of

is

also a modification of the soul. It

is

follows that the origin of ideas

adequately explained by the fac-

is

which God has endowed our minds. The

ulty of seeing bodies, with

thesis that all things are seen in ficulty, since it entails

which an

Malebranche agrees,

God

involves one very great dif-

the admission that there are in

particular ideas as there are bodies, each with

its

God

as

many

contingent modali-

ties.

Malebranche answers both questions: the

between perception and

tinction

by making a

first

dis-

by advancing the

idea, the second

theory of intelligible extension.

The

difference

to Regis,

seems

knowing

subjects

between ideas and perception, Malebranche wrote clear "as the difference

as

between ourselves

and the knowledge we acquire." The

as

contrast

is

we have no clear and distinct Our modalities, such as pleasure and sorrow or perception we have of our ideas, are obscure in so far as we

indeed striking. As knowing subjects, idea of ourselves.

even the

ourselves are concerned.

him, is

is

clear

soul.

Man's substance,

unintelligible to him. In contrast,

and

distinct,

For example,

I

and

I

know

know

if it

as

were a mode of if

my

soul, for a

this

Furthermore, Malebranche's reply to the related to his reply to the second.

For

the

mind

(as

Arnauld supposed) but rather an it

from

my

this

mode cannot

thesis

its

would be be ap-

could be dem-

ideas could be seen in the soul as distinctly as

roundness can be seen in extension, and

then

distinct

from myself, and

prehended apart from substance. Arnauld's onstrated only

—an idea

what we know

something

the idea of a square together with

properties as something distinct

impossible

it

from enlightening

far

if it

is

first

question

is

closely

can be demonstrated that

really perceives not finite, limited,

will follow that the idea

not possible.

is

and contingent bodies

infinite intelligible extension,

to the soul

what the

infinite

is

MALEBRANCHE

215

mind, which

to the finite; the

duce a finite

mode

is

finite,

lacks the capacity to pro-

such as intelligible extension, which

does not have enough reality to imagine

His argument bodies

valid only

is

if

constituted not by as

is

"The

is infinite.

the infinite."

the true object of the perception of

many

particular ideas as there are

To

bodies but by a unique idea, the idea of intelligible extension.

understand Malebranche's thinking on

point,

this

it

which

singular bodies, as in

are merely

geometry a body

extension.

its

limitations. In physics as well

determined by a limit in a pre-existing

Our knowledge

of the physical world, therefore, does not

to the

whole;

it

does not consist in placing in juxta-

which the world

position with one another the finite bodies of It

goes from the whole to the parts;

ning only in

infinity.

is

a kind of universal

is

extracted in

a

Furthermore, according

some way from an

summation of

it

some way over

from

it

which the

this

it

an

applies to

—beyond

implies

particu-

not the result of

is

infinite

number

the particular ideas

—the idea of universal or infinite being

diffused

particular ideas. This generality cannot be

ourselves, for

is

begin-

Malebranche,

to

infinite source

particular ideas, for

which exemplify

its

law of knowledge: any particular knowledge

of such ideas; consequently

in

can have

it

knowledge determines. Thus a general idea

lar

prior to

is

is

go from parts the sum.

necessary

is

for us to recall that extension, according to Descartes,

we

are particular beings.

ternal bodies obeys a general rule,

The

drawing

drawn

perception of ex-

support from the

its

apprehension of intelligible extension, which, according to Cartesian physics, constitutes the archetype of the

unique idea are.

Here

to

which we must turn in order

to find out

any knowledge, the thought of

as in

prior to the

world of bodies

immediate union of the soul with

only by virtue of this union. of course, for

it

Not

infinity

God and

—the

what they is

always

can exist

that the soul understands infinity,

can be perceived without being understood; that

a particular body

is

limited for us in an extension

is,

which we perceive

—an extension without limits but with a positive infinitude that we can nevertheless apprehend.

The

epistemological thesis, however,

was matched,

perforce, by a

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

2l6

new

theological thesis that gave rise to is

not a creature since

everything which

it

infinite;

God forms

in

is

is

ligible extension is to see the

attacks. Intelligible extension

it

God. But

therefore in

is

if

part of his essence, to see intel-

very essence of

God—an

unacceptable

but necessary consequence which Malebranche's adversaries used

He

against him.

replied by introducing a concept of infinity wholly

inspired by mathematics. In the seventeenth century the concept of

had become

infinity

sumed

be infinite only in relation to each other.

to

example, can be viewed as an infinite

word "infinity" does not necessarily Only God is not infinite in a relative

when

considered independently, he extension

telligible

quently,

God

relation

to

extension

were

relative; infinities of different orders

sum

A

as-

finite line, for

of infinitesimal lines; the

designate the whole of reality. sense, for is

he contains

infinitely

all

infinite.

being;

But

in-

simply the archetype of bodies and, conse-

is

not here considered independently but only in his

is

When we

possible material creatures.

we do

see

intelligible

not see the essence of God: "Essence means the

absolute being [infinitely infinite] that represents nothing finite";

we

God

only see the substance of

"considered in relation to

creatures or in so far as they participate in

In

it."

world seen in

the thesis of the intelligible

all

God

there remains

one singularity that attracted the attention of Malebranche's contemporaries. Descartes

had managed

ciple of his physics only

sensible perceptions;

mon

to posit extension as the prin-

by using methodical doubt

to eliminate

through the concept of extension, then, com-

perception was excluded from this wholly intellectual knowl-

edge. But

common

perception

is

precisely

to explain. If intelligible extension

which

lacks

—which

is

single

and continuous,

any variation or modification, and which

any sensible properties in physics,

what Malebranche sought

it is



is

hard for us

is

deprived of

the principle of intellectual

knowledge

to see

how

it

could produce the variety

of perceptions that reveal to us a multitude of separate bodies en-

dowed with

sensible qualities

branche explains

common

accomplished by Descartes,

which make them

distinct.

Male-

perception by reversing the operation

who through

analysis

had

isolated ex-

MALEBRANCHE

217 tension the

from the

two things and

smell,

so

qualities, are

forth

—which,

tions are purely

is

no knowledge.

It

color,

He

stresses the contrast be-

the object of an idea, whereas sensa-

would be

sound

—of

considered by themselves, as

and simply modalities of the

to the sensation of rejects

when

not related to extension.

tween the two: extension yield

Malebranche considers

rest of sensible perception.

separately: first extension, then sensations

futile, for

soul, feelings

example, for us to turn

out what sound really

to find

which

is;

acoustics

any sensation of sound and substitutes instead the study of

intelligible

to give us

mathematical

relations.

and

sensations

If

feelings fail

any knowledge of things, they are connected according

to precise laws (laws of the

union of soul and body)

to states of

our

bodies and their relations with external bodies, with the result that the external bodies are their (occasional) causes. These laws, established in the interest of the preservation of the body,

against the dangers

it

a dissociation even

Descartes (inasmuch as sensation at all),

Malebranche

is

more

rigid than that of

not confused knowledge but no

still

how

has to determine

God

two

body

is

perceived as an intelligible figure in unintelligible extension, for applies intelligible extension to our

on the diverse

relations that exist

minds

diversely,

depending

between our bodies and external

bodies. Modalities of the soul or sensations,

moment, extend through

may

the

A

elements join together to produce external perception. first

the soul

can incur.

Having accomplished knowledge

warn

produced

at the

same

bodies; moreover, each limited extension

contain several sensible qualities which

somehow

interpenetrate,

for the property of being extended belongs essentially to

none of

them.

"Man

is

often ignorant of things he thinks he knows,

knows well certain The perception of vides us with

things about which he thought he

bodies

knowledge

lishes in us a relationship

is

proof of

this:

of the external world, but

with the archetype of

and with the modalities

of our soul.

the external world

no sense given; nor can

is

in

It

had no

we imagine this

it

that

and he ideas." it

pro-

only estab-

world in God,

follows that the existence of it

be demonstrated,

"

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

2l8

as can the existence of a cause of

no

efficacy other

our sensations, since

than that of God;

it is

we apprehend

established only by the reve-

lation of sacred writings.

This

final

doubt gave

rise to the last

his correspondence (1713-1714)

his thesis to Spinoza's. "It seems to

writer's errors,"

polemic of Malebranche in

with Mairan,

me

who

that the

tried to reduce

main cause

of this

wrote Malebranche, "go back to the fact that he

mistakes the ideas of creatures for creatures themselves and of bodies

and assumes

for bodies themselves selves."

But

if

anyone

Mairan, because he telligible

is

in error

is

God and

word

modes.

intelligible,"

intelligible,"

is

Malebranche, according to

incapable of seeing any distinction between in-

extension which

God and

in

is

extended material bodies,

made by Spinoza between

other than the distinction of

that they can be seen in themit

"We must

not

let

the attribute

ourselves be fascinated by the

he wrote. "The essences of things are purely

and there

really

is

no

distinction

between the extension

contained in the concept of body and the extension called intelligible.

"Once they

are rightly interpreted the terms 'representative essence,'

'participable

save

by

bodies,'

and 'archetype of

bodies,'

and mitigate the consequence, are reduced

which seem

to

'substance of

to

bodies.'

Nothing penetrates more deeply

into the system of

Malebranche

than Mairan's criticism. Arnauld and Regis held that an idea was essentially representative; to the is

being was limited to objective being,

its

being of an image of things. Malebranche held that the idea

intelligible in itself since

essentially

representative;

happens through his will

it is

becomes representative only

it

to

a divine archetype but that

wish

to create beings

known to we have of

model; his will can be made tion.

The knowledge

—since

it is

that

us,

it is

if

not

God

according to this

however, only by revela-

bodies

—physical

knowledge of the unique idea of extension,

knowledge is

therefore

completely independent of the knowledge of their existence and

complete without

this

is

knowledge.

This theory breaks the

last

link that

seemed

to

bind the mind to

something other than God. The mind no longer has

to yield to the

MALEBRANCHE

219

contingency of an existence independent of counters

is

only in

in the

itself. It is

mind

it.

The

that

resistance

knowing

with sensing, ideas with feelings, inner truth which

with personal inspiration which

is

is

it

en-

contrasts

immutable

forever changing, the clarity of

the natural light with the vivacity of instinct. In each instance the

term designates the mental faculty that leads us

first

to truth, the

second the one given to us for the preservation of our bodies.

by confusing them; the philosopher's task

errs

is

to

Man

keep them

clearly separated at all times.

The Malebranchists

vi

In spite of powerful adversaries, the philosophy of Malebranche

was widely acclaimed toward the end of the seventeenth century. It

was popular among the

elite

and

the Congregation of the Oratory

and

Jesuits.

Such eminent

in the universities as well as in

and even among the Benedictines

ladies as

Mme

readers of the works of Malebranche,

Grignan were assiduous

whose

niece,

Mile Vailly,

sembled the Malebranchists of Paris in her salon each week.

was himself

a

member

of the

as-

He

Academy of Sciences and had among among them, the Marquis de

his colleagues dedicated supporters:

l'Hopital,

on of the advocates of the infinitesimal calculus; Carre,

the mathematician to

was but one

of geometry

physics"; the engineer ricians

who

whom,

according to Fontenelle, "the whole

step in the direction of his beloved meta-

Renaud

d'Elissagaray;

and

several geomet-

continued to favor Cartesian physics.

In the congregations

it

was

of Malebranche, several of

difficult to

support publicly the ideas

whose works were again placed on the

Index in 1709 and in 1714. The Oratorian Thomassin (1619-1695) wrote Dogmata theologica, of which the second volume

De Deo Deique Proclus,

proprietatibus.

is

eternal

wisdom

entitled

avid reader of Plato, Plotinus,

and Dionysius the Areopagite, he followed the

of the Renaissance scholars

same

An

and attributed

tradition

to these philosophers "the

that dictated the evangelical law."

Though

he never named Malebranche, he was probably influenced by him, especially

when he

attributed to Plato the doctrine that the

first

220

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY word and

principles subsist eternally in the divine

are continually

present to every intellectual nature that seeks to attain them.

Malebranche's of

life

came

to

an end

time

at a

when

the empiricism

Locke and the physics of Newton were on the verge of triumph.

Nonetheless, throughout the eighteenth century there existed in

England and France a current of

antisensationalist thought. It ap-

pears in Montesquieu's Persian Letters: "Justice lation

between two things. The relation

matter whether the being

man"

who

considers

re-

God, an angel, or

is

it

an expedient

is

always the same, no

is

(Letter 81). Jean-Jacques Rousseau related that he

was

a

in-

troduced to philosophy in 1736 in books "which mixed devotion

with the sciences;

and from Port Royal." More

particularly,

hundred times" Conversations about the Bernard

Lamy

ones from the Oratory

this is especially true of the

he "read and reread a

Sciences, by the Oratorian

(1640-1715) who, in the third edition of his Dis-

course on Philosophy (1709), exalted the Malebranchist doctrine of

shows more

external perception. This doctrine

other man's exclusive dependence

The

literature to

than any

which Rousseau alluded was copious and must

have been widely read.

A

good example

is

Father Roche's Treatise

on the Nature of the Soul and the Origin of the System of

clearly

upon God.

Loc\e and

Knowledge

Its

his Supporters (1715). It

was

against

also to refute

the empirical tendencies of the Cartesian Regis that Lelevel, a resolute

supporter of Malebranche, wrote

Metaphysics (1694). Moreover, of divine efficacy

many

and the action of

The True and

the False

polemics involved the thesis

creatures.

A

Malebranchist like

Fede {Metaphysical Meditations on the Origin of the Soul, 1683) seemed to incline toward Spinozism by attributing to creatures an "infinite duration"

by virtue of their connection with divine im-

mensity. There was in any harmony which, according

to Lefort

edge That

and the

the

Is in

Knowledge

God,

KnowlBenedictine Francois Lamy {On de Moriniere

of One's Self, 1701), attributed too

action. All the while

a

171 8)

case criticism of Leibniz' pre-established

the

much

Malebranche was being defended

—against the charge of denying free

calumny

{On

will.

—as

This

to

human

if

against

is

one of

221

MALEBRANCHE

the principal themes of the Letters which the counselor at the

Chatelet

Miron wrote in Europe savante (1718-1719). Father Andre

of the Society of Jesus (1675-1764), in spite of the persecutions that

he endured, was a faithful disciple of Malebranche, and wrote his biography. His Essay on the Beautiful and his Discourses propa-

gated the

He

spirit of the doctrine.

held that the philosophy of

which was currently being taught by the

Aristotle,

which the great principle

is

that there

is

and "of

Jesuits

nothing in the mind that

has not passed through the senses, obviously overthrows

all

the

sciences, especially ethics."

The same polemic was Locke was writing

An

also being

conducted in England. In 1695

Examination of Malebranche 's Opinion of

Seeing All Things in God.

Two

English translations of the Search

had appeared in

1694.

John Norris

for Truth

(1 667-1 711), a

Male-

branchist, criticized Locke's empiricism in the second part of

An

Essay towards the Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World (1701-

Locke mainly

1704), censuring

for posing the

problem of the origin

His own thinking was

of ideas before determining their nature.

suffused with the doctrine of St. Augustine.

During the eighteenth ist

theses

fisica

were supported in

contro

il

and Malebranch-

century, antisensationalist Italy

by Mattia Doria (Difesa

Ange

signor G. Loc\e, 1732), by

humanae natura ab Augustino

subsequently Defense of P. Malebranche

(Animae

by Cardinal Gerdil (Im-

detecta),

of the Soul Demonstrated against Loc\e,

materiality

della mata-

Fardella

s

View

1747,

and

of the Origin

and

Nature of Ideas against Loc\e's Examination)', in France by Cardinal Melchior de Polignac (Anti-Lucretius, 1747) to

whom

Bouillier attributed, perhaps

;

Created Infinity, published under the

name

a treatise which holds that matter

infinite, that

that there

similar to

is

an

man,

are worlds,

and

infinite

the Inner Sense, 1760),

Terrasson,

of Malebranche in 1769:

mind

infinite,

is

of worlds inhabited by beings

many

incarnations of

that the duration of the worlds

Abbe Lignac (Elements sional causes.

number

that there are as

is

Abbe

wrongly, the Treatise on

is

God

infinite)

as there ;

and by

of Metaphysics, 1753, and Testimony of

who remained

a stanch supporter of occa-

Bibliography

I

VI

to

Texts Malebranche, Nicolas. CEuvres. Edited by Jules Simon. 4 vols. Paris, 1871. CEuvres completes. Edited by A. Robinet. 20 vols. Paris, 1959-

— Dialogues on Metaphysics and Translated by M. Ginsburg. London, — Correspondance avec Dortous de Mairan. Edited by V. New by Moreau. — du Malebranche M. Arnauld. de Religion.

.

1923.

J.

.

ed., edited

.

Cousin.

J.

Paris, 1947.

J.

toutes les reponses

Recueil

a

P.

Paris,

1709.

Studies Church, R.

W. A Study

in the

Philosophy of Malebranche. London, 1931.

Cousin, Victor. Fragments de philosophic cartesienne. Paris, 1852. Gueroult,

M. Malebranche.

3 vols. Paris, 1955-59.

Luce, A. A. Berkeley and Malebranche.

New

York, 1934.

Rodis-Lewis, G. Nicolas Malebranche. Paris, 1963.

Rome.

B.

K. The Philosophy of Malebranche. Chicago, 1963.

Studies Pere Andre Martin (Ambrosius Victor). Philosophia Christiana. 6 vols. Paris, 1671. .

De

la

vie

du Rev. Pere Malebranche

,

pretre

de VOratoire, avec

de ses ouvrages. Edited by Ingold. Paris, 1886. Gouhier, H. Malebranche: textes et commentaires. (Les Moralistes chretiens.) I'histoire

Paris, 1929.

Robinet, A. Malebranche et Leibniz, relations personnelles. Paris, 1955. Roustan, D. "Pour une edition de Malebranche," Revue de metaphysique, 1916.

222

MALEBRANCHE

223

II

Studies Blampignon, E. A. Etude sur Malebranche. Paris, 1862. Blondel, M. "L'anticartesianisme de Malebranche," Revue de metaphysique, 1916. Bouillier, F. Histoire

de

la philosophie carte sienne.

3d

ed. 2 vols. Paris, 1868.

15-207.

II,

Boutroux, E. "L'intellectualisme de Malebranche," Revue de metaphysique, 1916.

Delbos, V. Etude sur la philosophie de Malebranche. Paris, 1924.

La philosophie

.

francaise. Paris, 1921. Pp. 91-132.

Figures et doctrines des philosophes. Paris, 19 19. Gouhier, H. La philosophie de Malebranche et son experience religieuse. Paris, .

1926. .

La vocation de Malebranche. Paris, 1926. M. "Etendue et psychologie chez Malebranche," Les

Gueroult,

Belle s-Lettres,

1939-

Hubert, Rene. "Revue de quelques ouvrages recents sur Malebranche," Revue d' histoire de la philosophie, igiy. Olle-Laprune, L. Pillon, F.

La

philosophie de Malebranche. Paris, 1870-72.

"L'evolution de l'idealisme au XVIII e

critiques,"

philosophie de

la

Annee philosophique,

siecle:

Malebranche

et

ses

1893, 1894, 1896.

Rolland E., and L. Esquirol. "La philosophie chretienne de Malebranche," Archives de philosophie, XIV (1938).

Ill

Studies

Van Biema. "Comment Malebranche

conceit

la

psychologie,"

Revue de meta-

physique, 1916.

La volonte selon Malebranche. Paris, 1958. Thamin, R. "Le traite de morale de Malebranche," Revue de metaphysique, Dreyfus, G. 1916.

IV Studies

Duhem, Mouy,

P.

Revue de metaphysique, 1916. Les his du choc des corps d'apres Malebranche. Paris, 1927.

P. "L'optique de Malebranche,"

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

224

Novaro, M. "La

teoria

della

causalita

Malebranche," Reale Academia dei

Lincei, 1890. Prost,

J.

Essai sur I'atomisme

et

Voccasionalisme

dans

la

philosophic

de

Malebranche. Rennes, 1909.

Studies Delbos, V. "La controverse d'Arnauld et de Malebranche sur l'origine des idees," Annales de philosophic chretienne, 1913. Gaonach, J. M. ha theorie des idees dans la philosophic de Malebranche. Rennes, 1909. Gouhier, H. "La premiere polemique de Malebranche [with Foucher] ," Revue d'histoire de la philosophic, 1927. Pillon, F. "La correspondance de Mairan et de Malebranche," Annee philoso-

phique, 1894. "Spinozisme .

.

et

Malebranchisme," Ibid.

"L'idealisme de Lanion et

le

scepticisme de Bayle," Ibid., 1895.

VI

Studies Pere Andre Martin. CEuvres philosophiques de Pere Andre, avec une introduction sur sa vie et ses ouvragcs, tiree de sa correspondance incdite.

Edited by Victor Cousin. Paris, 1843. de la philosophic carte sienne. 3d ed. 2

Bouillier, F. Histoire II.

Ch. 17-19, 27-28, 30-31.

vols. Paris, 1868.

LEIBNIZ German Philosophy

i

before Leibniz

in a tract entitled Aurora se initia scientiae generalis, fire

Leibniz contrasted the primitive, barbaric practice of drawing

from

friction generated

borrowing

fire

from the

terrestrial

matter at

light

then heat, and

first,

substances." light,

The

sticks

with the

rays of the sun:

first,

title

by

"On

scientific practice of

the one hand, heavy,

then heat, then light; on the other hand,

through heat, fusion of the hardest

finally,

symbolism of

of the tract, like the

fire

and

was borrowed from Jakob Bohme. Here we enter a universe

from

of thought quite different

branche.

We

cannot ignore

that of Descartes

this fact if

we

and of Male-

are to understand Leibniz.

Germany, which produced Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa, was the center of speculative mysticism, in contrast to the religious or

contemplative mysticism of the Latin countries. Speculative mysticism, expressed in the vernacular,

is

represented at the end of the

sixteenth century by Valentin

Weigel

were not published

and

until 161 8,

teenth century by Jakob

Bohme

(i 533-1588),

at the

whose works

begining of the seven-

(1575-1624).

What Bohme's most

him can probably be said of all the other "Bohme sought not gnosis but salvation; knowledge would have been given him only as a bonus and would even

recent biographer said of

German

mystics:

have come as a great surprise 1

A. Koyre, La Philosophic de Jacob

225

to

him."

Boehme

*

But

if

they wished

(Paris, 1929), p. 30.

first

of

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

226

to save themselves, the conditions

all

problem of salvation led them

which

later

provided the Romanticists

Weigel and Bohme were both salvation through faith, that

is,

man

tion,

God and human

Weigel's theosophy

somehow

Lutheran

hostile to the

to us

thesis of is

based

from without. They held

is

nature that constitutes a veritable theosophy.

God

based on the idea that

will, or

personality,

reveals himself to himself

attributes.

and

is

primitively

he

that as he creates,

and makes manifest

of his

all

His creature contains elements of nothingness and for

very reason has the possibility of straying from him, of exerting

own

Adam, nality

will,

and thus brings about the Fall

the true Hell that

seems to

is

—the

knowing

of the

object but in the

(Gegenwurf)

subject:

is

passive

who

knowledge). In the

from the standpoint

"Knowledge and judgment

man who

judges what

is

knowl-

has been saved

are not in the

before him."

The

external

merely the occasion of his judgment; but "no object can

object

is

judge

itself,"

opposite

to his source (supernatural

the object

and

of knowledge,

to the state of the fallen creature (natural

and brought back state,

of Lucifer

two modes

edge) and the other to the state of the creature

first

fall

within each fallen man. Weigel's origi-

relate to his description of

one corresponding

is

models. For

their

achieves salvation through a positive, intimate transforma-

devoid of action,

this

with

through a veritable rebirth; such a rebirth implies a representa-

tion of

its

metaphysical constructions

to the belief that salvation

on the merits of Christ and comes that

under which they posed the

to the vast

is

no

truth,

no wisdom can come from without. The

true of supernatural knowledge.

wholly active and

silence; yet such

man

knowledge

which God, who

is

Here the

object

(God)

has nothing to do except to wait in is

also internal, or

in us, acquires of himself

is

merely knowledge

by using

man

as

an

The salvation of man is therefore the last phase of the act by which God acquires knowledge of himself; supernatural knowlorgan.

edge

is

a transformation of being.

The famous Jakob Bohme was

neither a popular preacher en-

croaching on the territory of pastors nor a sectarian leader competing for followers. "I do not keep

company with

the

common

peo-

227 pie,"

LEIBNIZ he

said.

Bohme, who descended from prosperous peasants of

Upper Lusatia and became fact

among

have

his friends doctors

and whose knowledge he the nobility.

a master

He was

shoemaker in Gorlitz, did in

who were

assimilated,

disciples of Paracelsus

and enlightened members of

impelled to write "in order to give an account

and

of his gift, his knowledge,

his experience,"

but not in a

critical

or proselytizing spirit.

Bohme began with

the experience of evil, the feeling of melan-

him when he saw that the impious man; and his culmination was the

choly and sadness that engulfed

man was

as

happy

as the pious

"triumphant joy of the

spirit," the veritable rebirth

him

the illumination that allowed

and thereby

to free himself

from

which followed

understand the will of

to

God

his sadness.

His liberating illumination suggested rather than formulated a doctrine which he expressed

An

ages rather than ideas.

—following

his

custom

was impressed by the striking images developed ism

—the

wrathful

destructive

fire,

also acquainted

God

—through

im-

assiduous reader of the Scriptures, he fully in

Old Testament with

of the

and the God of love of the Gospels with the hidden, ineffable

God

Lutheran-

his avenging,

—but

he was

of the mystics.

A

friend of the alchemists, he saw in the attempt to transmute metals

an image of the purification through

into gold through calcination

which the

fallen soul achieves salvation.

His mind impregnated with such images, he theme, after considering

many

others:

What

is

finally settled

on one

the relation between

—the eternal Nothing, the absolute absolute freedom— and the concrete,

the bottomless abyss (JJngrund)

being without essence which personal It is

God who knows

necessary for

him

is

himself and

to posit

the

God

Bohme of wrath

finds

the creator of the world?

with the JJngrund a will toward

manifestation or self-revelation. festation,

is

As

for the conditions of this

them through meditation on

the identity of

and the God of love unifying love can :

self-

mani-

exist

only

through victory over hate, light only through the heat that destroys

and absorbs matter, pure gold only through the calcination

of im-

pure elements. All these images express the same graphic scheme,

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

228

which may be formulated in the

Bohme never life of God as

"Yes implies no."

abstract as

same scheme

tired of using the

well as his act of creation

to express the inner

and the

of his creatures.

life

This scheme suggests a solution to the problem of

evil.

Since the

must be within

created world expresses divine nature, there

it

an

obscure corner, conflicting forces, an egotistical desire; but above

and

victorious there

subjugated.

it is

come,

must be an ordering, harmonizing

Though

evil exists for the

exists of necessity.

it

man who

other: a

But

fire

this solution

runs counter to an-

has dark desire and disorder deep in his heart

God and

subordinate

of desire to the light of the spirit, or he can relinquish the

victory to the forces of disorder,

new

which

purpose of being over-

possesses complete freedom; he can imitate

the

will to

it

and through

manifestation of God, as Savior.

ambiguity between of the wrath of

his fall bring about a

We find here the

evil as a necessary condition of

fundamental

—an image

good

God in nature—and the introduction of a fugitive, man who, created in the image of God, has freely

contingent evil by eradicated

from

his person the traces of his divine origin.

biguity persisted in the thinking of Leibniz

and

in

This am-

German meta-

physics of the nineteenth century.

Life

ii

and Wor\s

Gottfried

of Leibniz

Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) studied ancient

ophy with Thomasius Jena,

at

and jurisprudence

filiated

at Altdorf.

became councilor a

philos-

with Weigel at

At Nuremberg he became

af-

with the Rosicrucians. In 1670, thanks to Johann Christian

von Boyneburg, formerly

was

Leipzig, mathematics

sent

at the

first

minister to the Elector of Mainz, he

supreme court of the

on a diplomatic mission

memorandum

urging Louis

electorate. In 1672

to Paris; in the

XIV

to

he

same year he wrote

put an end to the influence

Turks by conquering Egypt. In France he associated with Arnauld and studied the mathematical works of Pascal; he resided of the

there until 1676 (except for a trip to

England

in 1673

when he met

Boyle and the mathematician Oldenburg). In 1676 he invented the

LEIBNIZ

229

differential calculus (as early as 1665

In 1676 he returned to

of fluxions).

Newton had used Germany by way

and Holland (where he met Spinoza) and became private councilor to

He

method England

the of

and

librarian

John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Liineburg.

devoted part of his time to assembling the sources of the history

of the house of

Scriptures

Brunswick and, in

rerum brunswicensium

1701,

began publication of the

illustrationi inservientes. In Leip-

zig he founded the Acta Eruditorum (1682) and

became the

president (1700) of the scientific society that Frederick

transform into the Berlin Academy.

He

I

Louis XIV, he turned

first

where he

Czar and the Emperor.

He

tried to effect

having

to Charles XII, then,

in 171 1, after his defeat at Poltava, to Peter the Great.

resided in Vienna,

to

did not abandon his idea

of a union of the Christian nations against the Orient; failed to persuade

first

was

an

alliance

He

next

between the

died in 171 6.

Leibniz formulated the essentials of his philosophy in 1685. Prior to this date, his writings

motus concreti

(De

arte combinatoria, 1666,

and Theoria

et abstract!, 1671)

bear no trace of his fundamental

doctrine of individual substances.

systematic account of the doc-

trine

is

given in his Discourse on Metaphysics (1686).

His work treatises in

is

a lush tangle, with countless short philosophical

each of which he attempted to give a systematic account

of his whole system; with

all his

encyclopedia of information;

down

A

in the

form

of

plans for a universal science, for an

with

memoranda)

political reconciliation of

all

for

his

practical

promoting the

projects

(set

religious

and

Christian nations and the religious or-

ganization of the earth; finally, with his voluminous correspondence

with the time.

scientists,

Both of

philosophers,

theologians,

his long philosophical

was approaching old age:

New

and

of his

jurists

works were completed

Essays concerning

Human

as

he

Under-

standing (written between 1701 and 1709 and not published until 1765) in

which he examined Locke's Essay paragraph by paragraph;

and the Theodicy (1710),

in

which he explained

his

optimism by

re-

ferring mainly to the objections raised in the article "Rorarius" in Bayle's Dictionary.

23O

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

These works, in which he defended the against Locke's empiricism

theologians

who defended

thesis

of innate ideas

on the one hand and supported the on the

other,

must be sought

in his

the thesis of Providence

The

are not expositions of his system.

latter

shorter writings, such as the Discourse on Metaphysics (1686),

plemented by

correspondence with Arnauld, the

his

New

com-

System

of Nature and of the Communication of Substances (1695), and the Monadology (1714), written for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1714).

General Science

Initial Position of Leibniz:

in

we compare Leibniz with Descartes, Spinoza, and Malebranche, common traits are quickly noticed; like them, he is a mathematician; like them, he is a mechanist. But we also see contrasts: If

their

Leibniz the mathematician finds in Aristotle's logic the principles

from which he

will evolve his metaphysics; Leibniz the mechanist

restores the substantial

causes in physics.

forms of Scholasticism and the use of

But the

their thought. Descartes

main

difference

had reversed the order

grounding the certainty of physics on

and

of oneself; Leibniz goes back

tional order.

We

it

is

is

work

of philosophy by

to the tradi-

that corresponds to

in fact a theory of

knowledge;

by beginning with matter and mechanics that he

able to rise to metaphysics

what was preliminary

and

to

it

is

God. Thus questions are reversed:

to Descartes

becomes

question of the origin of our ideas," he said, philosophy, and

of

knowledge of God

beyond Descartes

will find nothing in his

Cartesian metaphysics, which rather

reflective

final

rhythm

in the

lies

final to Leibniz. "is

"The

not preliminary in

can be satisfactorily resolved only after

much

progress has been made."

Furthermore, and even more important perhaps (for

this

is

his

point of departure and his persistent idea), Leibniz views as a

whole and

as

existing simultaneously parts of philosophy

which

Descartes subordinated to one another: those which, no matter what is

being studied, admit of demonstration. Leibniz finds demonstra-

tions to be in order not only in

geometry but

also in logic, meta-

LEIBNIZ

231

physics (especially in Plato

ophy

and the theologians), and moral

He was

(particularly jurisprudence).

philos-

attentive to the efforts

Erhard Weigel (1625-1699), who showed that Aristotle used the method of Euclid in his Analytics, and who wrote an Ethica of

which Leibniz

euclidea,

one of his

dissertations (Dissertatio

first

he himself

cites in a letter to

tries, after

Thomasius (1663). In

de arte combinatoria, 1666),

demonstrating different theorems concerning

combinations, to show their applicability to the whole universe of

and

the sciences, particularly logic,

Mathematics then tion,

is

but one application of the art of demonstra-

which can be extended

dreams was

also to jurisprudence.

to

many

to create a general science

other subjects.

which had

One

of his

at its disposal a

system of symbols or a universal language (characteristica universalis)

which would have

in mathematics,

in all subjects the role that

and which would allow us

instead of "Let us discuss," no matter [a

language] such as the one

I

to say

what the

conceive,

we

symbolism had

"Let us calculate"

question. "If

we had

could reason in math-

ematics and in moral philosophy; for symbols would stabilize our thoughts, too vague and too variable in these subjects in which

imagination trasts

is

of

no help

with the Cartesian

ing point or as

ideal,

To

progresses.

it

The ideal of his science conwhether we consider it from its start-

to us" (1677).

demonstrate, in his science,

is

to

reduce given propositions to identical propositions in which the the

same

as the attribute; but such a reduction

subject

is

only

the notions that enter into the propositions can be analyzed

if

is

revealed,

are such that the

and only

possible

which they are composed and

into the simple elements of identity

is

if

their

the symbols chosen for the elements

complex notion

is

of necessity

deduced from the

notions of the simple elements. "Reasoning in any form

is

merely

the connecting or substituting of characteristic symbols; any substitution arises

from

a certain equipollence; [reasoning]

a combination of symbols." strate that

1+2 = 3

1

we

in a strict sense

we

therefore

can demon-

are dealing with numerical sym-

and perfectly defined on the basis of the simple and +. Because Descartes prescribed self-evident prop-

bols completely

notions of

Thus

because

is

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

232

he failed

ositions as the starting point,

which

a subjective characteristic

is

to attain the goal; evidence

varies according to the individ-

and which can engender only chimeras. Descartes generally

ual

failed to pursue notions that should be subject to further analysis,

such as the notion of extension. Leibniz was not rigid enough to

He

adopt the Cartesian method. acquainted with

for

it,

hold," the Geometry

it

his

even "in

strong-

its

as insoluble to

that Leibniz easily resolved through

Leibniz thought that his reductive analysis

his infinitesimal calculus.

and

sterile

which Descartes considered

in

human mind problems

the

doubted that he was adequately

had proved

system of combination employed symbols that "ought to be

useful in discovery

new

analysis, the

and

judgment"

in

if

here, as in mathematical

notions were simply combinations of previously

acquired notions. Finally, according to Leibniz, one of the greatest

advantages of method was the weighing of advantages and

dis-

advantages through a process of deliberation and the calculation of probabilities.

Leibniz' initial position

His aim

Descartes.

through which the

on evidence, and that

is

would

so forth

suffice to nullify

of

identities

man

is

involves

mental processes reflection

due

to

—doubt,

determine the necessary relations

from one proposition

him than

to

God to sin.

no doubt.

another.

Cartesian doubt, which

any philosophical undertaking, for

posited, the existence of fallibility

—but to

to pass

more abhorrent

is

free,

arrives at truth

not to describe the

human mind

compel the mind

Nothing

therefore closer to Aristotle than to

is

cannot remove

it,"

"if

especially

if

it is

the

The

resolution of propositions into

"We

acknowledge postulates and

axioms not only because they are proved by an

infinity of experi-

ences but also because they immediately satisfy the mind; nevertheless, the perfection of science requires that

they be demonstrated."

Leibniz was on the path which led to the symbolic logic and the

non-Euclidean geometries that came into being in the nineteenth century as a result of attempts to demonstrate postulates. Leibniz' system of combination, therefore, consists essentially of

fashioning

all

possible connections

—that

is,

noncontradictory con-

LEIBNIZ

233

—between

terms given

nections

initially,

and thus proving

the reality of a concept as such. But such a accessible to the

notion of last

human mind,

number

for there

method

a priori

generally in-

is

no notion other than the

is

that will enable us to determine by analysis the

"requisites." Clarity

Not only must an

and

distinctness of ideas are insufficient.

idea be clear (that

is,

not susceptible of being

confused with other ideas, such as the idea of color) and distinct (that

we must have

is,

from other

apart

thought);

it

must

The

ideas also

must be analyzed

a clear

—for

knowledge of the marks that instance,

—that

be adequate

extension the

is,

set it

relation

in

to

marks themselves

into their last elements.

possibility of a concept

is

proved, not a priori by method,

but a posteriori by experience; and even in the clearest of the sciences

—the

leave

at that.

it

science of

numbers

—we

For example, Leibniz

are

cites

sometimes obliged

to

one of Fermat's theorems

involving prime numbers which could be verified in every concrete

proof attempted but which had not been demonstrated

was demonstrated by art of instituting

Euler, in 1736).

What

is

(it finally

needed, then,

experiments that will supply what

is

is

"an

lacking in

our data."

iv

The Doctrine The

of Infinity

logic of concepts

finitude

:

a fixed

of genera

and

number

is

traditionally linked to the doctrine of

of species constituted by a definite

differences; a finite

number

world in space constituted in

such a manner that species remain fixed as individuals change.

Everything which in

viduality, continuity, infinity

the order

frame

reality resists inclusion in this



and dependent on an

is

viewed

as

—indi-

being excluded from

unintelligible principle of disorder.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the doctrine of infinity

impregnated every sphere of mathematics and physics; time the logic of universals collapsed. Leibniz, no is

an impassioned advocate of the doctrine of

less

at the

same

than Spinoza,

infinity:

any

definite

notion whatsover, any notion that does not envelop infinity,

is

ac-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

234

him an

cording to

the inexhaustible

real.

is

and could he remain

He

holds that only

these conditions,

how would he

incomplete notion.

abstract,

Under

faithful to the spirit of Aristotelian logic and,

both are essentially

to a certain degree, Aristotelian physics, since

The

finite?

expression he uses so often, "infinite analysis," shows

the union, essential in his view, between the

ophy, which must be infinite in so far as

it

two

aspects of philos-

relates to the actual

universe and analytic in order to penetrate the sphere of intelligibility.

Leibniz

finity,

and

all

concerned exclusively with creating a logic of

is

of his doctrines

and

in-

studies in mathematics, physics,

metaphysics, theology, and moral philosophy are but

its

several

aspects.

In geometry, infinite analysis seems impossible because the very definition of geometric continuity

the elements

which would,

and

ertheless,

the

for

in

same

makes

it

impossible for us to find

sum, reproduce the continuum. Nevreason,

we can imagine a how small.

quantity

smaller than any given quantity, no matter

Leibniz'

concept of infinitely small quantities contrasts sharply with Cavprinciple of indivisibles,

alieri's

finite

infinite lines, tity

able

which

same

in nature as

aggregation of points, a surface as an infinite aggregation of

and

To

so forth.

Leibniz, however, the infinitely small quan-

in the case of a line to

an infinitesimal

is

neity of

The

curves.

space,

ilar figure

observation

property

a

that

of their absolute dimensions lines

is

enables

is

based on the homogeus

to

imagine a

corresponding to a given figure, no matter

follows that the relation between

become

the relation

when

its

is

straight lines

its

how

is

small.

It

independent

Leibniz shows that the direction

points depends solely on the determination of

the lines are infinitely small, so that

recourse to infinite analysis the curve (that

two

sim-

and can remain the same when the

infinitely small.

of a curve at one of

between

Leibniz then

line.

turn to account one of Pascal's incidental observations

concerning

two

are the

magnitudes. For example, Cavalieri regarded the line as an

when we need

tangent) at any given point.

his logic of infinity

and

we

can have

to find the direction of

Aristotelian logic

The is

difference

crystal clear:

235

LEIBNIZ with given concepts whose relations are studied

his does not begin later, for these

would have

concepts

ber of elements; instead,

an

infinite

number

it

composed

num-

of a finite

of terms (the points of the curve).

Leibniz' philosophy

based essentially on the discovery in each

is

instance of a kind of algorithm role of

to be

begins with a relation that engenders

which plays mutatis mutandis the

an infinitesimal algorithm in the infinitesimal calculus.

In mechanics, the law of the conservation of force, which should

account for the indefinite

series of

mechanical changes in the world

of bodies; in metaphysics, the notion of individual substance, is

which

simply the law of their consecutive changes or the pre-established

harmony which

is

the law of the interrelationship of individual sub-

stances; in theology, the divine attributes

—understanding, which

the law of essences, the will or choice of the better, of existences,

and

potentiality,

essence to existence;

all

which

is

these notions,

the

which

is

is

the law

law of the passage from

how

no matter

different in

appearance and origin, have no function except that of introducing universally the intelligibility of infinity

which the infinitesimal

cal-

we must endeavor fecundity. We may diswe please; if we relate

culus contributed to geometry. In each instance to

apprehend a notion with an inexhaustible

tribute points

them on the

on

a surface as arbitrarily as

basis of a continuous trait,

an equation will give the

law of distribution of these points. Our example brings into

clear

focus the thought that permeates Leibniz' whole system: there

always a law to explain infinite variation.

The most theory of

celebrated of Leibniz' doctrines

life,

his theory of

of this unique idea,

—his

freedom and contingency

and considered apart from

it

dynamism,

they sometimes

them

to

his theory of substance

from

which we could

one another or deduce them from one another.

There have been attempts, derives

his

if

same thought, we must not assume

that they are contained in a coherent system in easily relate

his

—are corollaries

tend to present a rather disconcerting aspect. Furthermore, doctrines are the fruit of the

is

for example, to relate his

on the ground that

his notion of force; the truth

dynamism

his notion of the is

to

monad

that each of the

two



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

236

notions had

both

origin in independent considerations, though they

its

into the

fit

We

same pattern of thought.

shall

examine them

one by one, but without exaggerating their systematic elaboration.

A common rithm)

characteristic of these notions (of these sorts of algo-

that, unlike Descartes* clear

is

and

distinct ideas, they are

not the object of intuition but are present as conclusions

from two universal

analysis

principles

The two

A

is

whose

fertility

was erroneously denied by the

great principles are the principle of identity

any given term

equivalent to

evident

is

its effect;

or:

provable a priori.

it is

soever: nature never acts state to

aries. It

is

and not otherwise;

A, when

or: a cause

any true proposition which

To

these

continuity which states a property

one

Cartesians.

—A

—and the principle of sufficient reason —every-

thing has a reason for being as is

drawn by

principles applicable to all things

by leaps

must be added the

common

—that

is,

to

is

any diversity what-

discernible

number of intermedimust be composed of

parts that are indiscernible; nothing can originate suddenly

sciousness

no more than motion." Reality then

us as a continuum

v

whose

parts

we

self-

a thing can pass from

another only through an infinite

follows that "whatever

not

is

principle of

is

—con-

always revealed to

cannot exhaust.

Mechanics and Dynamism Leibniz was

first

and always

a mechanist

and an advocate of the

plenum. As early

as 1669 he looked upon the modern explanation phenomena by size, figure, and motion as being the most acceptable one and even "the one closest to Aristotle." In 1670 he gave

of

all

a systematic explanation of a system of mechanics in his Theoria

motus

abstracti, in

which the notion of conatus

(that

small quantity of motion), borrowed from Hobbes, tance. Later, to explain

how motion was

by impulsion, he had

to

imagine that

in a fluid that offered

no

resistance but

the solid bodies, that the fluid

swimming

in a fluid

still

more

itself

subtle,

is

is,

of

an

infinitely

first

transmitted in the

solid bodies

was

plenum

were swimming

fluid only in relation to

was composed of and

impor-

so forth

solid bodies

ad infinitum, the



LEIBNIZ

237

having no

subtlety of the fluids

and

cartes,

In both Leibniz and Des-

limit.

reasons, such a theory of mechanics ruled

same

for the

out any system of mathematical physics as conceived by Galileo,

Newton; and whereas

Pascal, or

Newton with

the calculation of fluxions provided

the language needed for his physics, Leibniz never

used his infinitesimal calculus to express the laws of nature.

Leibniz nevertheless heaped criticism on Cartesian physics. His

may

criticism

be

by Descartes

ited

summed up

in

one statement: the principles pos-

—extended substance, conservation of motion, and —are not principles of

laws of nature derived from such principles

unity capable of explaining the infinite diversity of things. First,

extension cannot be a substance, for tion,

and every being of

derives

if

each being of which

its reality,

this

it is

gation"; extension, which

this is precisely

no

different

what

(whatever

tition of this

from the

composed

is still

when of

it

exists,

it

may

void,

strictly

does not have

motion

—since

it

it

be)

is

extension." Since extension

nor does

same

fill

it.

it

its

coexisting parts."

violates the principle of reason

wrongly assumes that motion

the motion of the

first

is

The law

is

force

the velocity of the

weight

—the

of conservation

causa adaequat effectum

A

fallen four feet has obviously acquired

is

to the

one

foot.

motion of the second is

That

as 2

is

identical in

product of the mass and the square of

two weights (mv2 )

constant sought by Descartes,

laws of impact

like time,

proportionate to force.

determined by Galileo's laws. That what

both instances

explain the va-

Motion,

force as a four-pound weight that has fallen

to 4 easily

is

would be the

contains nothing which

speaking, because an aggregate never exists

one-pound weight that has the

an aggregate, not

constitutes the essence of a body; the repe-

which characterizes the things that

"never

reality at all

a being through aggre-

is infinitely divisible, is

sufficient cause of resistance or mobility,

riety

have no

will

it

must be "something extended or continuous,

a substance. So there

and

kind implies simple beings from which

with the result that

it

a "being through aggrega-

it is

is

—which

is

therefore the true

also easily determined. Descartes'

are, in turn, contrary to the principle of continuity,

primarily because he often supposed that there was an instantaneous

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

238

change in either the quantity or the direction of motion of the liding bodies at the

moment

should have warned bodies which, lose their

if

him

is

principle of continuity

they rebound on contact with another body,

motion gradually (without a corresponding

in turn results

it

anew by

from the inner an inner

ity therefore expresses

any

agitation of their parts. Elastic-

which

force, intrinsic to each body,

not produced by the external bodies that determine

bodies represented by Descartes' elements, any

The

loss of

first

virtue of their elasticity,

action. Leibniz therefore cannot accept the perfectly

accept atoms.

col-

that in nature there can be only elastic

part of their force), then acquire

which

The

of impact.

existence of elasticity

its

mode

of

homogeneous

more than he can

and of inner

forces sup-

poses the infinite divisibility of actual bodies which accordingly can-

not have exact, determinate shapes. So there

no matter how

matter, parts,

each of which

body

differs

force that

it

is

small,

which

is

in nature

not composed of

is

from another not by

tween data becomes very

shape but by the inner

size or

which holds

becomes very

slight.

slight,

fails to

when

its

if

B

direction should

to

him,

if

two

follows that

metaphysical.

if

is

The

larger than

everything in nature

Cartesians

is

namely

C

by even the

forces

its

actions, are

this

when

is

to

is

It is

"the

first

And

indeed the permanent cause

the actions a body can accomplish

can endure.

they

suppose that

within bodies themselves something superior to them.

in fact force, as conceived by Leibniz, all

and

conservation the arbitrary

will of a deus ex machina, for the only alternative is

slight-

explained mechanically,

must have understood

introduced as the cause of motion and

of

colliding bodies,

remain the same.

the very principles of mechanics,

there

appreciate

the difference be-

C, have the same mass and velocity, they will both rebound

amount,

It

that

the difference between the results

According

with the same velocity; but est

smaller

and one

manifests.

In the elaboration of his rules Descartes also

B and

still

constantly in a state of agitation,

the principle of continuity,

also

no part of

and of

all

the passions

entelechy" which "corresponds to

or substantial form." In discovering the constancy of force

it

mind {mv 2 )

LEIBNIZ

239 to

which he attaches

law of conservation of quan-

as a corollary the

progression (that

tity of

projection of velocities

sum

constancy of the algebraic

is,

on an

axis),

of the

Leibniz thinks that he has found

a veritable reality.

What

dynamism

the significance of Leibniz'

is

reality of force,

which would constrain us

or theory of the

from physics

to pass

metaphysics? Particularly worthy of our attention

is

to

the contrast

between his dynamism and the dynamism of central forces that was being evolved at the same time by Roberval, Huyghens, and

Newton

ton.

New-

did not accept the plenum and saw as the paradigm

of force the force of gravitational attraction which, following his investigations,

We

that,

recall

must

became

a particular instance of universal gravitation.

according to his famous pronouncement, physics

steer clear of metaphysics,

gravitation

with the result that the formula for

was important (following the

logic characteristic of the

Newton) because it algreat number of phenomena,

scientific current that linked Galileo and

lowed him

to calculate

and not because

it

and

revealed

foresee a

some hidden

of attraction. In contrast, Leibniz,

(mv

2

)

disclosed a

profound

which could be used

we

have, perhaps for the

Newton

who thought

first it

that his formula

could deduce from

in the exact calculation of

ent minds. Paradoxically, criticism of

reality,

essence, such as a real force

time, the confrontation of

would seem

it

two

in his letters to Clarke

For

physics.

it is

differ-

at first glance that Leibniz' is

identical with his

criticism of Descartes: the inability to dispense with a

machina in

nothing

phenomena. Here

Deus ex

easy to demonstrate that by virtue of

the prolonged action of gravitation, a system such as the solar sys-

tem

will gradually deteriorate unless

just as a

light

mechanic repairs

on the degree

to

God

his contrivances.

repairs the

which Leibniz deemed the metaphysical

superstructure of his physics to be indispensable. arbitrary metaphysics cessity or

by choice,

machinery

Their encounter sheds

He

shunned the

which Descartes and Newton added, of ne-

to their physics.

In force he had something real

to account for all mechanical changes.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

24O

The Notion

vi

of Individual Substance

and Theology

Everything in the system of Leibniz hinges upon the infinitude of the world

not in

is

pate in

seen, extension

body

and there

is

no

not divided into

is

own way

at the is

satisfied.

a "syncategorematic"

and which

series

its

2

The

infinity,

we

which

is

has as

its

necessary

which

is

series.

Similarly, as

typified

we

A

and which

is

by a mathematical our ever

syncategorematic in-

complement a "categorematic

the law of the series

infinity"

is

of necessity outside the

shall see, Leibniz'

concept of infinity in

the sensible universe has as the series of changes

its

necessary

which Leibniz

But substances or

stances.

inherent in each

find in the universe

consists essentially in the impossibility of

arriving at the last term of a progression. finity

traces of

whole future.

infinity that

infinity

each

the infinitude of the universe,

same time the exigency of

never

and limited

which does not contain

state of a substance

whole past and the germs of But

finite

infinitely subdivided; furthermore,

is

real substance contains in its

thing,

which

own way infinite, any element which does not particiown way in this infinitude. Even in the world of bodies,

bodies; instead, each

its

reality

its

its

we have

as

and the impossibility of carving out any

complement the laws of

identifies

with individual sub-

subjects, in turn, constitute not a real

being but an indefinite multiplicity. Above this infinitude of substances

we must

therefore conceive an infinite being, a kind of law

or "hypercategorematic infinite being,"

consideration of infinitude in finitude or perfection

universe

is

what the law

God—that

and is,

this brings us to the

to theology.

Divine

in-

to the eternally incomplete infinitude of the

of a series

is

to the infinitude of

its

terms in

mathematics. Metaphysics and theology then are inseparable; the truth of a metaphysical notion, such as the notion of substance, can

of course he proved "without mentioning 2

A

notion probably derived from William of

from Peter of Spain. edition of Plotinus.

On

the origin of the idea,

cf.

God

except

when

neces-

Ockham, who had borrowed it the notice on Ennead VI in my

LEIBNIZ

24I

sary to indicate

when

forcefully

my

dependence; but

the notion in

source from which

it is

this truth

is

drawn." The same applies

more

expressed

question has divine knowledge

as the

to all of the no-

tions in Leibniz' philosophy, whether they are taken at their lower

God)

level (in the creature of

God) where

source in

Here we

analysis

or at their higher level (in their

comes

to

an end.

—the

Neo-

same total reality more concentrated and

closer

find a doctrinal scheme long familiar to us

Platonic scheme according to which the

expression at different levels, being to the

One

lower

level.

at the

higher level and more divided and diluted at the

We recall the Neo-Platonic design that became prevalent

during the Renaissance and the

which "each thing was

all

intelligible

things"

when we

world of Plotinus

him and

to

"any substance

is

signs of all that will

like a

whole world and

in

read that "in the soul

of Alexander there reside eternally remnants of

pened

finds

happen like a

all

to

that has hap-

him," and that

mirror of

God

or of

the whole universe."

The long as stance,

crux of Leibniz' metaphysics

we do not discern what we shall have nothing to

is

is

the notion of substance. "So

truly a complete being or a sub-

halt us."

But we must reach

a halt,

as Aristotle said, at least in the order of reasons. Descartes defined

created substance as that

which

need only of the concurrence of

on the one hand attribute

sole

there could be

no

is

conceived independently and has

God

in order to exist. This

that the essence of a substance

cast

no change

in

it,

and on the other that

on the very

to a

it

involved

with the result that doubt

existence of a world, that

interrelated substances. Cartesianism

germ

was reduced

(extension or consciousness), with the result that

relation to other created substances,

was

meant

(and that

is,

is

the aggregate of

why

it

contains

little value upon the individuality mind as well as bodies had ceased to be substances and become modes of thought or extension. As the language of Leibniz suggests, his notion of substance has its source in completely different traditions. For example, when he

the

of Spinozism) placed

of substances, for

referred to "individual substance" in his Discourse on Metaphysics

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

242

he was using the language of Aristotle and trying like him to individual substances

make

(which are merely subjects) the only true

word "monad," a Neo-Platonic term which he probably borrowed from Bruno and which Proclus used to designate the "units" which are subordinate to the Supreme One Later he used the

realities.

and

reflect

universe.

from diverse points of view the whole

But the dynamism of

his physics

is

multiplicity of the

another source of his

notion of substance and probably of his vitalism as well.

We is

need

first to

examine the notion of individual substance

revealed in his Discourse on Metaphysics.

main concern lem of God's

is

as

it

Here Leibniz, whose

the solution of the theological problem (the prob-

relation to his creatures), follows a

method, showing

how

notions of individual substance, and then of divine attributes,

issue

from investigation

of the conditions of

what

is

called a con-

tingent truth.

In contrast to truths of reason, which can be reduced to identities

and of which the opposites imply contradiction, contingent truths or truths of fact are those of which the opposites do not imply contradiction; the "metaphysical necessity" of eternal truths contrasts

with the absence of metaphysical necessity. But necessity complete indetermination

?

It

is

is

the absence of

not, for that

would be

contrary to the principle of sufficient reason. But does not determi-

nation entail necessity, that

come?

If so,

is,

the impossibility of a different out-

contingency would not differ from necessity. Determi-

nation implies necessity but not metaphysical or logical necessity; there

is

also

an ex hypothesi

necessity, consequential or conditional,

according to which a thing exists on condition that something else exists

first.

The

metaphysical or logical necessity of an identical

from the examination

proposition issues immediately or mediately of

its

terms; but the necessity of a proposition of fact (Caesar has

crossed the Rubicon)

is

due

to prior events

(Caesar's decision to

secure his power). Since the prior events themselves are necessary

only by virtue of their conditions, and so on indefinitely, said that for Caesar not to have crossed the

physically possible.

it

can be

Rubicon remains meta-

LEIBNIZ

243

This accounts for the positive definition of contingent truths or

whose

truths of fact: truths

by an

of reason,

integral reason could be identified only

beyond the scope of the human mind. Truths

infinite analysis

on the other hand, may be demonstrated by

a finite anal-

ysis.

The

notion of individual substance

is

obtained by an application

of the principle of reason to true propositions that have an individual being as their subject. "It

predication has a proposition

an established

is

some foundation not identical

is

—that —

expressly included in the subject

and

that

is

what philosophers

fact that

is,

when

the predicate

must be included

it

Thus

call in esse.

ways includes the predicate term, with the

any true

and when

in the nature of things,

not

is

potentially,

the subject term that

result

al-

whoever

understood perfectly the notion of the subject would also think that the predicate belonged to

it.

Therefore

we can

of an individual substance or a complete being so complete that

from This

it

is

all

sufficient to

it is

embrace and

the predicates of the subject to

demonstrable a

is

priori.

have a notion

to

is

to allow us to

which

the application of the great principle

true proposition

say that the nature

which

But

deduce

attributed."

is

it

states that

any

not the ex hy-

is

pothesi necessity of contingent truths transformed thereby into a

metaphysical necessity

if,

here too, their truth issues from an ex-

amination of notions?

The

objections raised by Leibniz' correspondents are

worth con-

To

say that all

sidering. First, Arnauld, speaking as a theologian:

changes in an individual being are deduced from properties of sphere are deduced

from

its

notion, as the

its

definition,

is

to eliminate,

along with contingency and freedom, any kind of true individuality.

Then

Voider, speaking as a geometer: "Everything deduced from

the nature of a thing persists; thus

is

invariably in the thing as long as

from the notion of individual substance

low that nothing

is

on the part of the

active

by nature, for action

creature." Leibniz here

jections analogous to those

is

comes

it

nature

would

fol-

always variation to grips

which Aristotle was unable

he was called upon to choose between

its

with ob-

to resolve:

intelligibility that pertains

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

244

only to necessary propositions and individuality that escapes intelligibility.

To answer

the objections of the geometers Leibniz compares the

nature of individual substance to the law of a series that embraces the indefinite progression of

its

terms or to the equation of a curve

that allows us to determine at will

an

But he quickly adds:

is

make

of points.

the clearest statement

constitute

the infinite evolution

human mind

those that a

infinitely surpass

of predicates]

human minds

we know we

for this reason:

predicates, but

its

ourselves are never in possession of such a notion. This

we

cause "although

antecedent

state,

is

true be-

can account for a subsequent state in terms of

and then of the antecedent

can never come to a final cause within the is

surpass

infinitely

can understand."

that the notion of a substance produces all

its

state in its turn,

series."

But

we

since there

always a connection that leads us indefinitely from one term to

the next,

no matter how

which

never complete and will never be complete (Leibniz

it

can

I

geometric minds, although these kinds of lines [lines that

to

They

"I believe this

number

infinite

is

far

syncategorematic infinity),

ries is a

cause which

makes

we go

in the infinite series of terms

we must assume

all

and a

priori

stance can belong only to It

follows that it

is

Thus we have

knowledge of each of the predicates

infal-

that belong

and such immediate recognition of an individual sub-

to substance,

and

that outside the se-

the terms and their dependence im-

mediately intelligible (categorematic infinity). lible

calls

on

we must

this

level

God, the author of

all

things.

seek the root of contingent truths in God,

Leibniz takes his stand to answer

that

Arnauld's objection. There

is

an a

priori

proof for any truth,

whether contingent or necessary, drawn from the notion of terms;

if

the truth

mind;

if

contingent, proof exists only in God. But

is

necessary, this proof

is

proof, the total, unique "infallible vision" that

not exclude

all

accessible to the finite

God

how

has of

can

this

all

things,

contingencies? In Cartesian theology, which

makes

eternal truths or essences as well as existences will, the real is

its

depend on the divine

not separated from the possible. Whatever

is

belongs

LEIBNIZ

245

same

of necessity to the

and

and contingent

God. Through possible, that

were no longer applicable

we

to theology,

see that nec-

God

conceives everything that

is

everything that does not imply a contradiction.

he decides

his will

presented to

Spi-

truths refer to distinct attributes of

understanding

his

is,

is

two great

the belief that the

sufficient reason,

For when we apply them

in theology.

essary truths

Through

and Descartes' true successor

stemmed from

noza. Descartes' error principles, identity

order,

him by

to create

his understanding.

one of the possible worlds Consequently his

infallible

same

vision of real substances with their predicates cannot be of the

nature as his knowledge of the possibility of these substances; and his

knowledge of the

essences,

distinct

is

Knowledge

possibility of these substances, that

from our knowledge of the

is,

of their

truths of reason.

of substances (and consequently of contingent truths)

belongs in fact to the divine intellect in so far as the latter relates

knowledge of

to will;

possible; it is

knowledge of

possible substances to a will

same

real substances to the

which

itself

is

will in so far as

Knowledge of the truths of reason, however, belongs Thus God's infallible vision is explained by he knows which of the substances conceived by his in-

effective.

solely to the intellect.

the fact that tellect

The fore,

is

he has decided distinction

to create

tween two divine

which

will.

between the contingent and the necessary, there-

identical to the distinction

between existence and essence. will

through his

It

between the has

its

attributes, intellect

real

and the

possible,

source in the distinction be-

which

relates to essences

and

relates to existences.

But God's vision of individual substances

is

infallible

virtue of the principle of sufficient reason, his will

is

only

if,

by

not arbitrary

but determinate with respect to the choice of possible substances.

The

only choice worthy of the perfect being

is

the choice of "the

best of all possible worlds," the wholly a priori principle of the

famous Leibnizian optimism which cannot be proved or disproved by experience and which cannot be impaired by the mockery of Voltaire's Candide.

The word

"best,"

in the ears of theologians to assert

which Leibniz often exploded

more

forcefully his anti-Spino-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

246 zism,

sometimes replaced by the expression

is

sence." In fact, the existence of

"maximum

of es-

one possible can be incompatible

with the existence of another; two or more possibles whose ence

compatible (that

is

among

possibles;

one which contains the

God

the one

not contradictory) are said to be corn-

is,

combinations of possibles, there

all

exist-

maximum

is

obviously

and

of reality or essence,

this

is

chooses.

Theology and Monadology

vii

The

analytic exposition of Leibniz' system in the Discourse on

Metaphysics was followed by a systematic exposition in which his debt to Plato

At

is

to derive the

God: "At

is

But

The

established a priori

this proof, as

existence of

God

it

is

is

on the

I

manage

if

and

perfect be-

basis of so-called ontological proof. is

incomplete.

The

deduced from the idea of God, of course, but is

possible, that

The proof becomes: "God

essence; therefore ity

existence of the infinite

conceived by Descartes,

on condition that the idea tradiction.

a deeper level in philosophy

supreme laws of natural things from some knowledge

of divine perfections."

ing

monad.

revealed in his concept of the

the summit,

he

of the existence of

is

possible,

he

is

is,

does not imply con-

necessary by virtue of his

To show

exists."

the possibil-

God, Leibniz has recourse sometimes

simplicity, since contradiction exists only in a concept

to his

whose

ele-

ments are mutually incompatible, sometimes

to proof a contingentia

mundi, which thus becomes the preliminary

step of the ontological

proof.

For we know of the existence of beings that

other, finite beings.

Such beings are possible a

God

and

his intellect

is

if

there were not

neces-

intellect,

and

will.

His power

is

the foundation of essences or possibles.

might say that he corresponds

Platonists

through if

also be impossible.

has three attributes: power,

creative,

We

would

but

were impossible, beings

sary being or independent being {ens a se) that exist through others

exist

fortiori,

to the intelligible

two important

place, the field of possibles or of essences

is

world of the

differences. In the first infinitely greater

than

LEIBNIZ

247

the field of existences, so that

which

possibles will

come

a possible

into existence

into being through

an edict of

which

actual

down

tains

come

will never

necessary for us to separate the

it is

will

become

to the smallest detail

actual being.

"My

creation of an

everything that will belong to the

of

whom

Thus

God,

in

it

to

God

come

God

willed the

he had a vague, incomplete notion,

Adam whom

he conceived as

as Plotinus said, there are ideas

God

of individuals. Finally, the will of

causes

not an ideal model but con-

is

but that he willed the creation of an

it

In the second place,

supposition," he said, "is not that

Adam

a definite individual."

ences; through

will.

from those which

the foundation of exist-

is

chooses the best combination of possibles and

into being.

Further elaboration of the divine attributes yields a clearer understanding of determination and that

its

mechanistic character.

any possible tends toward existence

essence

is

grant

or that

for each possible achieves ex-

it is

degree of perfection

its

the one that possesses the his metaphysical

maximum is

is,

of reality.

mechanism, linked

mechanism

just as his physical

—that in —and the total combination

not blocked by other possibles

istence in so far as

accordance with

From

we

merely the exigency of existence, creation becomes a prob-

lem of equilibrium and of maximum,

is

If

(exigit existere)

the optimal will

to

linked to force, Leibniz deduces

a priori the general characteristics of the universe.

We

cannot speak of

infinitude. parts,

and

reality

Only imaginary, that

niz, therefore,

is

without speaking

one more proof of

had

their

to find a universe in

ing real which was not at the same time of his notion of the is

as

commonly it

up

into finite

imaginary character. Leib-

which there could be nothinfinite.

That

is

the origin

monad. Leibniz began by substituting

for

what

called the real universe a representation of the universe

exists in the

mind. The universe assumed

an insubstantial phenomenon; tations.

same time of

at the

abstract beings can be cut

reality is the

to

be real

mind with

its

is

merely

represen-

Furthermore, he generalized the idea of representation,

which became equivalent

to the idea of expression:

becomes the expression of another (in

my

language)

"One thing when there

a

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

248

a constant, regular relation between

is

what can be

said of the other. Expression

and

ural perception, animal feeling,

From

species."

what can be

the

minds

whose aggregate

we

tations each of

us.

follows that the repre-

it

intellectual

knowledge and con-

Representation does not imply conscious-

observe that within ourselves there are represen-

which involves an

indefinite

division into parts,

The

without our having the slightest awareness of such perceptions.

sound of the surf, for example, between many tiny totally

unaware.

Or

particles

is

sum

the

—elementary

of the sound of collisions

sounds of which

we

are

again, a perceptible quality, color, or smell

deceptively simple, for

number

its

constitutes the universe are not

endowed with

by

sciously perceived ness; indeed,

nat-

knowledge are

popular point of view and his gen-

his reversal of the

that are

one and

... a genus, and

is

intellectual

eralization of the idea of representation, sentative beings

said of

it

results

from the aggregation of a huge

of elementary perceptions of unnoticed motions.

are states, such as that of being in a faint, in

no longer accompanied by any fore be expressed in countless

feeling.

ways

tions in a distinct representation.

is

And

there

which perceptions are

The same

thing can there-

since there are countless grada-

Thus we not only can but must

(since the universe has to contain the

maximum

of reality) con-

ceive the universe as an aggregate of beings representative of the

infinitude of the universe. since there

is

an

There must be an

infinity of such beings

infinity of degrees in the clearness

and

distinctive-

ness of the representation of the universe.

Thus through tion of

generalization the notion of

monad. The universe of Leibniz

is

mind becomes

the no-

in a sense analogous to

Plotinus intelligible world in which the total reality of the world ,

appears through each idea, and

it is

important for us to

recall that

the notion of a descending hierarchy in which each universe repeats all is

of the others at different degrees of concentration or of dilution

one of the most

common

notions in Platonic philosophy. This

indeed what monads are: each of them "windowless," isolated, and perfectly also a different expression of the

same

is

a spiritual universe

self-sufficient

universe,

and

world; each all

is



is

such expres-

LEIBNIZ

249

sions constitute a hierarchy descending

But

least perfect.

from the most

no longer Neo-Platonism

this is

:

perfect to the

the gradational

universes of the Neo-Platonists, taken in their descending order, exhibit less

and

unity until finally, at the lowest degree, they

less

reach the state of juxtaposition in space which characterizes the sensible

world. Here nothing of the sort happens; each of the

monads

keeps the same indivisible unity from one hierarchy to the next. reason

is

that Leibniz rejects the concept of the distinction

The

between

unity and dispersion, required by the realism of the spatial world

he no longer

and puts

accepts,

distinctiveness

and

in

its

place the Cartesian concept of

confusion and obscurity,

clarity in contrast to

which remains wholly

spiritual in nature.

Monads then

differ

among

themselves only in so far as they express the same universe with

varying degrees of

clarity.

It

is

thought that introduces into the exist in the gradational

the spiritual nature of Leibniz'

monad

dynamism

a

that did not

worlds of the Neo-Platonists, for each

monad

not only expresses the whole universe at every instant with a certain degree of clarity but also tends spontaneously to express best possible

way. Each

monad

it

or variety in the unity by which the infinite detail of things

resented in

it

at every

in the

then has two attributes: perception

moment, and

is

rep-

appetition or the spontaneous

tendency to pass from obscure perceptions to clearer perceptions.

And

there

monad"

is

a hierarchy of

monads extending from

that has only perceptions without

ing to the rational sciousness

and

monad

or

reflective acts,

mind

any apperception or

feel-

that possesses, along with con-

knowledge of necessary

intermediate level are the animal

the "naked

truths.

monads which, thanks

can predict the future by anticipating,

when an

ready taken place recurs, the event that followed

to

On

event that has it

an

memory, al-

on the previous

occasion (empirical successions).

Furthermore, any

and fore,

is is

pregnant with

its

contains traces of

not rely on our experience. "I

shall take a trip but

I

its

whole past

whole future. Everything about

determined by internal reasons. This

we must I

monad always

am

am

we know

it,

there-

a priori, and

uncertain as to whether

not uncertain as to whether

I shall

always

25O

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

be myself, regardless of the

trip.

Such things seem indeterminate

us only because the signs or indications of

The

not recognizable to us."

them

we

events that

to

in our substance are

contingent are not

call

indeterminate.

Monads

same universe. The only

are mirrors or expressions of the

difference between

them

relates to the degree of clarity in their ex-

But an infinitude of monads must be postulated, for the

pression.

law of plenitude and continuity applies equally extension. Furthermore, just as there

between two points of a straight

is

an

to

forms and

infinity of other points

line, so there

is

an

infinity of in-

termediate expressions between two expressions that differ in

This

is

characteristic of divine infinitude: "Because

sees

fit

to

God

clarity.

from

reveals

way

the general system of

phenomena

produce in order

to manifest his glory,

and views every

every aspect and in every

he

to

no

aspect of the world in every possible manner, letting

relation

escape his omniscience, the result of each view of the universe a certain spot

is

from

from

a substance that expresses the universe

that

this

angle."

The

infinity of

monads

whole or a substantial by

itself, it is

principle is

(the aggregate) in

reality that

we might

one of the syncategorematic

must be sought outside the

no way call

the world.

infinities

series.

The

constitutes a

Taken

whose unifying Leibnizian view

therefore diametrically opposed to the idea of a world soul or a

universal mind.

viii

Pre-established

The

serial

established will

and

way

as to

law which

harmony.

his

Harmony relates

It is

monads

to

one another

grounded on the

belief that

is

called pre-

God, by

wisdom, has acted on the being of monads

make

at every instant,

in such a

each monad's perceptions correspond to one another each perception differing from the others because

of the point of view

from which the universe

using a metaphor, because of

harmony means

his

that

God,

its

degree of

in creating

is

seen or, without

clarity. Pre-established

one monad, had

all

other

LEIBNIZ

25I

monads

in

mind. The will

from

events that issues for there

of

all

is

it is

no fragmented

to create a particular

monad with

all

the

never a primitive or an absolute decree, will in

God. But having willed the

best

possible worlds, he gave to each substance every possible per-

fection,

with the result that his decree with respect to a particular

substance or to an event involving this substance

always an ex-

is

hypothesi decree resulting from the universal order.

harmony explains the monad. The whole being of

Pre-established ideal) of a

action in a

monad

action or passion (always

monad

a

is

representative;

from a higher degree of

designates passage

clarity,

passion to a lower degree. Further, by virtue of pre-established har-

mony an tive a

increase of clarity in one

diminution of

clarity in

therefore said to act (ideally)

such interaction

is

monad

has as a necessary correla-

one or more other monads the ;

upon

the others.

A

first is

particular case of

brought to light in connection with the problem

of the union of soul

and body. Between the two there

is

neither real

influence, as Descartes maintained, nor occasional causality, as

Male-

branche maintained, but pre-established harmony like that between

two clocks

so well regulated by their

indefinitely to

maker

that they will continue

keep the same time. Such independence and spon-

taneity does not prevent us

from speaking

in the sense that whatever

is

sion in the other,

and

an interaction

(ideally) of

action in one will be

matched by

pas-

vice versa.

Freedom and Theodicy: Optimism

ix

The problem There

is

of

freedom

also finds

its

solution in monadology.

no modification of the monad which

is

not spontaneous

and which does not come about independently, but there of

all types,

tinct

ranging from those whose perceptions are

even than the perceptions that

consciousness to the rational

by

clear

and

distinct ideas.

we have during

monads whose

Such

monads more indisare

a total loss of

actions are determined

acts are called free,

freedom being

nothing except "spontaneity of intelligent being." Freedom then in

no sense indetermination, nor does

it

is

involve indetermination.

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

252

Free

acts,

derived like everything else from the internal law of the

monad, manifest

Arnauld coun-

a kind of rational determinism.

tered Leibniz, however, by saying that such freedom implied no responsibility

on the part of the author of the

Adam

the notion of the creation of

divine decree, then

we must

and

say that

God

is

Every theologian since Plato had taken pains

For example,

act.

his sin

if

the object of a

is

the author of sin.

to set aside this very

objection.

Leibniz dealt at length with the problem in one of his longer works, the Theodicy, which defends is

God

the author of sin and, in general, of

against the charge that he

The book

evil.

inspired for

is

the most part by the traditional teachings of the Stoics gustine,

which Descartes

Leibniz makes a distinction between metaphysical tion, physical evil or pain,

rives

that

from the

God

and moral

its

all

if

we

realize

place in the

its

possible worlds,

we

infer

scheme of things every creature possesses

just proportion of perfection; since

hend things only

in isolation

and

seems to us to be

less perfect

than

is

Au-

Here

evil or imperfec-

limits inherent in every creature; but

whole and that he created the best of each instant

St.

evil or sin. Imperfection de-

created no being without awareness of

that within the total

and

also used in his fourth Meditation.

abstractly, it

might

we

at

can appre-

however, each creature

be. Physical evil or pain

explained as being a consequence, established by divine justice,

of either imperfection (pain being associated with passivity) or sin.

Adam's sin is not a simple imperfection but which sprang from his own initiative and which

Last comes moral a positive evil

evil:

transformed the destiny of mankind;

it

introduced into things the

kind of discontinuity that Leibniz sought everywhere

from

his vision of the universe.

onciled with

dogma?

We

peculiar to Leibniz, but

How,

was

God's not

Adam, though

free,

God and which was having known infallibly

would

tion, equally traditional,

sin.

We

sin be rec-

difficulty

traditional in a theology

an omnipotent and omniscient to account for

moral

then, could

should note that the

to eliminate

was not

which posited

therefore unable in advance that

should also note that the solu-

was provided by

St.

Augustine,

who

stated

LEIBNIZ

253 that

God

can foresee events but that events are not thereby prede-

termined. Leibniz' position

he can

of

it is

God

man

that each

responsible for

each

to

is

decree.

According

man

is

then one can say that it.

Though

God

willed

the implication

Adam

God

by

best of all possible worlds; consequently

he

Adam

Adam

as

was entering the

object;

its

Adam, he would not have made him created the best of

all

if

Adam would

was metaphysically to sin,

best of all

he had created only

would he have

a sinner, nor

possible worlds. Leibniz believes, then, that

he can avoid the absolute decree by imputing certain that

and

cannot be said to have willed Adam's sin since

have

his will did not

sin

God created we know this is total decree

to sin because

possible worlds.

Adam's

that

is

through one particular, original decree,

which God created the

damna-

destined either to salvation or to

not true, for the particular decree depends on the

allowed

to Cal-

by a decree dependent on the sovereign and arbitrary will

tion. If this is true, is

The only way in which show how it is possible, in his

less tenable.

from Calvin's absolute

system, to escape vin,

is

satisfy the theologians

sin,

sin to

Adam.

It

was

but his sin was not necessary since

possible (that

noncontradictory) for

is,

it

him not

and the reason with which he was endowed enabled him

to

understand the sin that he was committing.

The sume

nature of Leibniz' optimism

made

it

that the best of all possible worlds

him

possible for

to as-

accommodated dogmas

such as those relating to the small number of the

elect.

No

pages

bring out more clearly the significance of his doctrine of infinity

than those in the Theodicy dealing with eternal damnation, the endless suffering

which seems

to provide a contrast intended to

the beauty of the universe. sent,

and divine

justice

is

Here the

man

to

is

enhance

completely ab-

no more rigorous than a geometrical

orem. For the tragic sense can destiny of

tragic sense

exist

only for those

who

the-

consider the

be a kind of entity, isolated to some degree from

the universe through an initiative of the will. But in a system in

which only individual substances their spontaneity,

exist

and everything

even the slightest element has

universe as a whole. This

is

its

issues

from

function in the

because these individual substances are

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

254

universes

and contain,

substance,

only by

at least potentially, everything possible.

which seems

its

relations

be complete by

to

with

damned

in a hierarchy that includes the

actually defined

itself, is

other beings and by

all

Each

definite place

its

as well as angels

and the

elect.

x

Living Beings

Monadology

also helps

Leibniz resolve the problem of the nature

In a sense the problem of living beings, which never ceased

of

life.

to

concern him, was at the outset one of the sources of his theory of

monads. In

1671,

when he was

them

Rosicrucians, he expressed with

kind of

invisible nucleus of the

of microscopists

—Leuwenhoek,

made important

his conviction that there

body which

discoveries

is

a

will subsist until the

was drawn quite naturally

Resurrection. His attention

and

associating with alchemists

to the

works

Swammerdam, and Malpighi—who

between 1670 and 1690 concerning

mals or animate elements invisible to the naked eye.

ani-

The microscope

enabled them to see in the living being not (in keeping with the ancient tradition of Aristotle) organs

formed of homogenous

tissues

but

organs whose parts were themselves organized. This offered a kind of experimental confirmation of the alchemists' subsistent nucleus,

and

it

allowed Leibniz to introduce his infinitary ideas indirectly

into biology. It also allowed as Plotinus is

had already done,

nothing in nature which

that matter

is

it

grows

is

to universalize the concept of

to the extent of

not animate.

organized to infinity

how small, that we cannot

ter

that

him

is itself

organized.

assert that

until

it

—that

From

an animal

becomes

visible

is

is,

assuming that there

was

It

it

born or

dies;

we

human come

organization also allowed

race:

him

to

is

until

it

be-

indestructi-

assume the "pattern-

Adam

germs are organisms and can decrease

infinitely small.

can only say

and then decreases

ing of germs" to explain the pre-existence in

no mat-

follows immediately

comes imperceptible; the germ of the animate being ble. Infinite

assume

sufficient to

that every part,

this

life,

Each organism, no matter how

of the

whole

until they be-

small,

is

com-

LEIBNIZ

255

posed of an

number of parts; there must be a law of their "central monad" whose representations correspond

infinite

relation in the

between

ideally to the relations

material universe

and which

is

this

to the

organism and the

organism

rest of the

as the soul

we

body. Corresponding to the growth of the body, to what birth

and

its

adult state,

in the central

an increase in the

is

monad. Thus Leibniz, who

moment

call its

clarity of perceptions

in his correspondence

with Arnauld (1686) had seemed to concede that created at the

to the

is

human

souls

were

were pre-

of birth, later believed that they

existent but raised to a higher degree of clarity with the birth of the

body. Moreover, in his view rational souls not only subsist after

death (like the souls of brutes, which state of

fall

back into their primitive

confusion) but are also truly immortal

decree of

God

enables

them

—that

to preserve their reason

a special

is,

and personality

independently of their bodies. Leibniz' biological and organic theory, therefore, allowed

speak of unity in bodies. Such unity, as

we have

him

to

seen repeatedly,

cannot be due to extension, which spontaneously crumbles. But do

we

not run into difficulty

monads? gate of larly,

We

we

if

attribute

it

to

an aggregate of

have seen that the universe was formed of an aggre-

monads which did not monads

the aggregate of

constitute a unit.

That

is

why

constitute a

whole or a

that corresponds to a

unit; simi-

body

will not

Des Bosses

in his correspondence with

(1706) he postulated a substantial bond {vinculum substantiale)

between monads, thereby making constant application of the same principle: to realize, outside the infinite series of terms infinity of

monads

in relation to a single body), the

(here the

law of the

series.

xi

Innate Ideas: Leibniz and hoc\e

Monadology provided Leibniz with the solution to the problem of innate ideas. "The question is somewhat equivocal," he said, apparently referring to the ficulty

way

which he examined

in

which Locke had handled the

in his turn in the preface

and

first

dif-

book

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

256

New

of the

Essays concerning

Human

Understanding.

The

first

we can refute the doctrine of we do not always have actual knowlbeing known to us when we concentrate make them innate. Furthermore, the word

equivocation consists in thinking that innate ideas by showing that

edge of them

—for

upon them

enough

"innate"

own

is

to

equivocal: to the degree that everything comes from

is

resources

nothing that

mon

their

is

and

am

I

subjected to

not innate in the

monad

that

I

my

action, there

is

am. But "in the com-

system" that postulates the influence of bodies on minds, that

which does not come from

and

no external

this

the

is

sensible

knowledge

called "innate,"

is

meaning implied by the famous adage which denies

innatism: "Nihil est in intellectu guod non prius fuerit in sensu."

This is also the meaning generally accepted by Leibniz, but the word embraces so many nuances that precision is not always easy. The mark of innatism is necessity, which pertains either to the primreason

itive truths of

reason

ficient

—or

—the axiom of identity and the principle of suf-

word

a "priori"

proof). is

As

inconceivable

as a

be proven a priori (the

used by Leibniz only with reference to such a

is

—the

and not

to

For example, intellect

accept the Scholastic

"There

nothing in the itself

apriority are merely

marks

which

perience

—that

rience:

"Inasmuch

is

by which

as

of innatism.

which

is

sensations

is,

it

from that which

"intelligible

being"

think. Leibniz can

one

restriction:

in sensation,

ipse)" But necessity and

The word

"innate" properly

within us independendy of any external ex-

to that

but only that which

we

which has not been

{nisi intellects

the object of pure internal expe-

and inductions can never teach

completely universal truths or that which

partially

which

impossible for a thing

adage, but with

intellect

except the intellect

is,

it is

be at the same time. All of our innate ideas taken

therefore

refers to that

which a truth

ideas of being, possible, same, identity,

whole constitute the is

may

for innate ideas, they are ideas without

enter into an innate truth. to be

can be reduced to the

to the derived truths that

principle of necessity; to truths that

follows that is

is

absolutely necessary,

we have drawn such

within us." So

all

truths

ideas are reduced to

—to the "object of pure understanding" which

is

LEIBNIZ

257 the

constituted by inner experience.

self,

stance, action,

from

my

and of

of myself

and

"The notion

that I have

thoughts, and consequently of being, sub-

identity,

"reflective acts," as

comes from an inner experience" or

he says elsewhere (Monadology, 30).

And

in a letter to Sophia Charlotte, he adds the following restriction to the Scholastic

adage: "With the exception of the understanding

or whoever understands."

itself

But inner experience natural light of reason us and which

we

:

now it

designates something greater than the

signifies

see there

everything which

when our

vision

is

is

naturally in

not obscured by the

needs and inclinations that come from the body. Alongside reason constituted by confused but innate knowledge:

instinct,

is

must pursue joy and avoid

sadness," for instance

whose reasons are unknown and which are .

.

.

so."

along with customs, though

—natural sentiments untangle

"difficult to

generally possible for us to do

Here, as in the thinking of Descartes, the innateness of an idea

does not exclude

The

xii

its

being indistinct.

Existence of Bodies

Monads

We

it is

"One

are the only substantial realities that exist in the universe.

saw how Leibniz removed

rior world,

deprive

such as

of every

it

it

substantial existence

was conceived by the

mode

of existence?

the mind, though "windowless,"

is

We

from the

ought

exte-

But did he

Cartesians.

first to

note that

quite certain, even in the absence

of the complicated machinery of the Cartesian proof, that something exists in the outer

world. Descartes

ous truths "I think, and there :

is

since

is

only the

great variety in

the second truth "proves that there

which

knew is

first

my

of

two obvi-

thoughts." For

something other than ourselves

the cause of the variety of the things that appear to us,"

one and the same thing cannot be the cause of the changes

within

it.

The

representation of the external world then

is

to

me

a

"well-founded phenomenon," founded on the existence of the substantial diversity of

monads outside ourselves. But it is also by inner phenomena" are distinguishable from the

characteristics that "real

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

258

'imaginary phenomena" of dreams

enon in

non

is

and

its

itself,

by

its

animation,

:

its

first, if

permanence or

consider the

multiplicity (the real

endowed not with one but with

phenomena, by

we

phenom-

phenome-

several sensible qualities),

integrity in time; then,

we

if

consider other

agreement with prior phenomena, by the mutual

its

agreement of minds, and by success in the prediction of phenomena.

These we should note, are the are derived

criteria

mentioned by Descartes they :

from the Academic and Skeptic schools of

and Leibniz brings out

their true

worth when he

antiquity,

says that they pro-

vide moral certainty rather than metaphysical certainty. If

we

examine, looking beyond things themselves, the order in

which they time. Far

coexist

and succeed one another, we obtain space and

from being

which they are contained, things possible

and

antecedent to things or receptacles in

realities

as the

Newtonians thought, they are

relative only to the beings of

order. "I hold that space

is

an order of coexistences,

something purely

just as

time

is

ideal

which they are the

relative, like time, to

an order of successions,"

Leibniz wrote to Clarke. "For space indicates in terms of possibility

an order of things that

exist at the

same time

together, without entering into their

we

see several things together,

we

ways of

in so far as they exist existing.

notice the order

And when

among

the things

themselves."

Ethics

xiii

From

his theology

and monadism Leibniz deduces a moral

phi-

losophy. "I submit," he wrote to Conring as early as 1670, "that

may require no more than a God and the immortality of the

ethics

demonstration that the existence

of

soul are probable or at least pos-

sible."

Why? On

one hand he assumes with Carneades that

without an appropriate folly;

eral

utility,

on the other hand he

whether present or future,

justice

is

utter

sees clearly that justice seeks the gen-

good or the good of the

society to

which we belong. Only a

providential theology can resolve the problem of the just corre-

spondence of virtue and

—the problem attacked by

utility

Cicero in

a

LEIBNIZ

259 the

De officiis—and "we

must do what

is

we

just unless

first

demonstrate that there

petual [avenger] of the public interest, that

much

he

as

be another

clearly not always the

is

had discovered

Later, after he

avenger in

monads

his

and

are capable of discovering necessary

are

a per-

must

this life, there

and transmuted

from angels

subjects (ranging

of his city

is

justice,

world the greatest good that our happiness] are formulas

there

if

is

is

to

men)

which

we

if

a

his universe into a

monarch (God) whose

Minds

are

is

certain [to contribute to

a Providence that governs

we

of every type.

consists "in procuring for the

can; this

which we should not forget

guage of monadology it

—"substances that think truths"— he followed the

Minds" ruled over by

"universal republic of

that each

is

that inas-

of a higher degree

ancient tradition of the Stoics

mum

God and

system of monads and shown

minds

Indeed,

is,

life."

that

The law

man

cannot demonstrate with precision that

all

things."

These

to translate into the lan-

are to understand their full significance.

through a natural law derived from the will of

mind

God

in the universe acquires at each instant the maxi-

of perfection compatible with the whole, but the

consciously while the bare will that thrusts us

mind

acts

monad is divested of sensation; and the common utility is illuminated by

toward the

knowledge of our own nature, with the "the inner power that keeps

man from

result that virtue

is

actually

being diverted from the right

path to happiness by the passions of his soul." Such

is

the jatum

christianum ; in a "good sense" fatutn means the decree of Providence.

"And

those

who submit

to the decree

divine perfections, of which the love of

through knowledge of

God

is

a consequence, do

not (like the pagan philosophers) simply resign themselves to patient

endurance but are even happy in the knowledge that whatever

God

ordains

is

for the best."

escape the jatum

God were

,

interrelated, as well as quietism

since, in his opinion, It

But Leibniz thought that he could

mahometanum which denied

would seem

knowledge engendered

that the decrees of

and

"idle

argument"

action.

that the idea of a universal republic should have

persuaded Leibniz to accept a universal religion of some kind



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

200

humanism

superior to positive religions

he tried to show

cally,

mas were

no way contrary

in

—but

it

did not. Theoreti-

that the positive elements of Christian dog-

we have

to reason; practically, as

seen,

he conceived a religious organization of the world in which Chris-

and united

tians, politically reconciled

in the

same Church, would

spread Christian civilization throughout the world. In keeping with his genius, his universalism

Stoic thinkers; instead, filtrates

One

is

not the abstract universalism of the

assumes the most concrete forms and

it

in-

the infinite realm of singular political realities.

of his

first

works had been an anti-Socinian Defensio Trini-

(about 1665), in which he boasted of having already found "a

tatis

more profound philosophy" more

to supply

applicable to meditation

him with

precepts

on sacred things and

him

well as to physics, and which would allow

which were

civic affairs as

"to lead a tranquil

Consequently he never separated these three objects: religion,

life."

physics,

and

civic life.

He

did everything possible to eliminate seem-

ingly wide divergences between the discontinuity of the Christian vision of the universe instance, as

it

and

was revealed

his

own

conception of continuity

Other elements

to us in his theory of sin.

of the Christian faith (miracles, transubstantiation) also

interrupt the continuity of nature: the Port-royalist jected that Leibniz'

monadology excluded

—for

miracles,

seemed

to

Arnauld ob-

and the

Jesuit

Des Bosses believed it to be irreconcilable with transubstantiation. Drawing support from his doctrine of infinity, Leibniz defended his view of miracles as follows: we know that when points are indicated on a surface in any manner whatsoever, we can find the equation of the curve that contains them and accounts for their arrangement. Suppose, then, that

and

that

some

them while must

indefinite series of events

others do not

—in other words, they are

we understand miraculous; we

conceive, in divine infinitude, a law of the series that will

brace both kinds of events.

what we verse,

we have an

of the events obey natural laws as

call

and

The miraculous

events,

em-

which interrupt

the natural order, have a place in the order of the uni-

their failure to

divine attributes.

As

have a place in

for transubstantiation,

it

would contravene

we saw how

the

Leibniz in

LEIBNIZ

26l

his reply to

Des Bosses conceived

the substantial

bond

to

account for

monads correspond "well-founded" phenomenon; but

the unity of bodies; in transubstantiation the to the subsistent bread,

which

is

a

through a miracle the substantial bond of the body of Christ places the substantial

In practice, almost

bond all

re-

of the bread.

were directed toward

of Leibniz' activities

the triumph of Christianity. But he

felt that its

triumph could not

be assured without a return to unity, which should have

begin-

its

ning in the union of Lutherans and Calvinists, 3 followed by the reuniting of the Protestants in

As

Germany with

the Catholic Church.

early as 1673 he discussed the matter with Pellisson, through

whom

he tried

and

to reach Bossuet,

Systema

in 1686 he wrote the

theologicum in which he proposed a formulary for conciliation. Pellisson died in 1693, but as late as 1701 Leibniz

me

hope: "You are right in judging

he wrote

to

Mme

de Brinon. "The essence of Catholicism

communion with Rome;

be in

cated unjustly

would

otherwise those

who

munion, which makes us a part of the body of he

lost all

are

.

.

.

,"

not to

is

excommuni-

cease to be Catholics in spite of their wishes

and without being inculpated in any way. The this spirit

had not

to be a Catholic at heart

tried, for the benefit

true, essential

Christ,

is

com-

charity." In

of Bossuet, to attenuate the impor-

tance of doctrinal differences that separated the confessions, pointing

out that they originated in the Council of Trent, whose ecumenical

was not even recognized

character

no more

significant than the

in France,

and

divine love which did not destroy the unity of the the

Roman community. "What

the

dogmas

can

prevents reunion

as the practices" of the

(perhaps unwise) spirit that

facility

that they

Roman

Church within is

Church.

not so

And

Church and recognize

Cf

.

and

with a

he called Bossuet's attention to the Galli-

and other

pastors." Bossuet also sought unity

but on condition that the Protestants simply return to the

3

much

animated France, to the "limits placed there on the

authority of the popes

variations

were

unending controversies about grace and

all

of

its

Roman

decisions; unity did not include the

differences that Leibniz

wished to safeguard.

"Correspondance inedite," Revue philosophique,

July, 1934.

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H. "Leibniz

Peters,

wissenschajt

als

Chemiker," Archiv fur die Geschichte der Natur-

und der Techni\,

1916, pp. 85

ff.

X Study "Lockes Lehre der menschlichen Erkenntnis im Vergleich mit der leibnizschen Kritik derselben," Abhandlungen der sachsischen

Hartenstein, G.

Gesellschaft der Wissenschajten,

X

&

(1865), 4 11

XI

Studies

Van Biema,

E. L'espace et le

W. Die

Volp,

temps chez Leibniz

Phenomenalitat

der

Materie

et

bei

chez Kant. Paris, 1903. Leibniz.

(Dissertation)

Erlangen, 1903.

XII

Study Nathan,

B.

Uber das Verhaltnis der leibnizschen Ethi\ zu Metaphysi\ und

Theologie. (Dissertation) Jena, 1918.

XIII

Studies Grua, G. Jurisprudence universelle .

La

justice

humaine

et theodicee selon Leibniz. Paris, 1953.

selon Leibniz. Paris, 1956.

JOHN LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY i

and Wor\

Life

Loc\e

of

john locke (1632-1704),

the son of a small land-

owner and attorney from Wrington, near war began and

the civil

his father enlisted in the

From

the parliamentary side.

was

Bristol,

1652 to 1658 he

sixteen

when

army supporting

was a student

at

Oxford, where he took courses normally associated with preparation

for

service

as

shifted to medicine

a

clergyman; in 1658, however, his interest

and he completed courses in

this

field,

but

without ever receiving the degree of doctor. In 1666 he formed close ties

with Lord Ashley, afterward Earl of Shaftesbury, whose

mented

political life

had

its

repercussions on Locke.

France on two different occasions, 1675

and

1679,

when he

first

in 1672

and

He

tor-

resided in

later

between

spent a year at Montpellier for the sake

of his delicate health; but his second period of residence in France

was prolonged by the disgrace of the Earl of Shaftesbury. In 1684 he had to leave England once again. Shaftesbury failed in his attempt

to

provoke a revolution and had to seek refuge in Holland

(where he soon died), and Locke, suspected by those decided that he in turn should

make

remained until the Revolution of

England

in 1689,

his

1688.

way

to

Following

his

he declined, primarily on account of

267

in power,

Holland, where he return to his health,



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

268

him by

the post offered

Brandenburg

of

—and

Concerned

peals.

was then

(it

—the

embassy

retired

Masham

to

1

to the Elector

Commissioner of Ap-

office of

political as well as

Some

that he wrote

on the Consequences of the Lowering of

the Value of Money),

He

new king

with religious and

especially

economic questions tions

the

accepted the

Interest,

Considera-

and Raising

he also had to reply to numerous polemics.

Oates, not far

from

Lord and Lady

friends

his

(daughter of the philosopher Cudworth), and remained

there until his death.

In 1670 Locke, then thirty-eight, had been Shaftesbury's personal physician since 1667, and there was nothing as yet to suggest his

A

philosophical vocation.

whom 1668,

and

friend of the physician

he collaborated, and a

member

he had written two short medical

De

Sydenham, with

of the Royal Society since treatises

Anatomica (1668)

medica (1669), in which he stated "there is no knowledge worthy of the name except knowledge that leads to some new, arte

useful invention.

Any

other speculation

an

is

idle pursuit."

General

theories are injurious because they check

and

only special hypotheses are useful

apprehending immediate

—in

he had

causes. In addition,

reflected

on the

political

questions that were disturbing his country and

and Reflections on the Roman Republic, encroachment of the clergy upon the scripturae interpres

non

ciple that the Bible

necessarius, in sufficient for

is

in

stabilize

knowledge;

and

religious

had written Sacerdos

which he protested the

civil

authority;

Infallibilis

which he advanced the prin-

our salvation; and

An

Essay

concerning Toleration (1667), in which he reflected on the tolerance

toward nonconformists (Puritans)

that should be manifested

had not accepted the Act of Uniformity of Charles

who

II.

In the winter of 1670-1671, following discussions with his friends

(among them James

to the revolution that

Orange 1

to

—the lawyer who was

Tyrell

overthrew James

—and

the throne

II

and brought William of

physician David

Thomas)

his

The campaigns which he conducted at that time against factitiously raising the money culminated in a monetary reform and in the creation of the Bank England in 1698. Cf. Rodocanachi's communication to the Academy of Moral

value of of

the

later to contribute

Sciences, session of July 24, 1933.

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

269

thoughts took an unexpected turn. According to Tyrell's testimony,

he noticed that

it

would be impossible

"principles of morality

ining "our

own

and revealed to

abilities

see

for us to establish firmly the

religion" without

what

exam-

first

objects our understandings

were, or were not, fitted to deal with." This was the origin of

Human

Essay concerning

Understanding, which does in fact end

with a discussion of the certainty of moral truths (IV, the relation between faith

and reason (IV,

humano

intellectu

in

and

4.7)

of

Although the Es-

18).

Locke had written

say did not appear until 1690, as early as 1671

De

An

which the reduction of

all

of our ideas to

simple ideas was presented in the same was as in his Essay, which

was the

fruit of the rare

moments

of leisure afforded

him by

his

turbulent career during the nineteen-year interval. After 1688 his

were

ideas

accessible

lished in Jean

Le

through an abridgement of the Essay pub-

Clerc's Bibliotheque universelle et historique.

second edition (1694) contains II,

many

and changes

xxxiii; IV, xix)

additions

(II, xxvii; II, ix, 8;

(II, xxi; II, xxiii);

translation (1700), revised by Locke, also includes a

and

ditions

11

The

Coste's

French

number

of ad-

corrections.

Political Ideas

The Essay was

not devoted to speculation for

this reason a brief analysis of

light the conditions

Locke struggled against

its

own

sake.

Locke's political ideas will bring to

under which he wrote.

all his life

two interdependent

against the Anglican theocracy, that theses:

first,

that

no

less

is,

by divine right the

king wields absolute power; second, that the king's power itual

For

is

spir-

than temporal, giving him the right to impose on the

nation a creed and a form of worship. In this doctrine the royal

power appears lished

and not

as

he was

as

we

to

to

be something of a mystery, something pre-estab-

susceptible to analysis.

To

criticize

it

Locke proceeded

proceed in the study of the understanding. In the Essay,

shall see,

tries to identify

he reduces complex ideas to simple

factors; here

he

by analysis the simple factors into which the royal

a

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

27O

power can be

come under

divided. In neither case does their historical genesis

consideration.

His analysis was favored or even made possible by the idea (then current) that since the social state

we must

originates in a pact,

nature prior to the pact.

state of

and

not natural to

mankind but

Is

injustice to a convention, or

is

view, advocated by those

ural

law

expanse of land a

man

The

a political one.



The second

He

accepts as nat-

on work and consequently lim-

can cultivate, and paternal author-

based on the premise that the family

is

a natural institution, not

school that inspired Locke

to the doctrine of innatism

idea of jus-

(following the Stoics) subscribed to

the right of property based

ited to the ity

who

the one adopted by Locke.

is

in his

there a lex insita ration!

natural moral law which was imposed prior to the pact ? the law of nations,

man

the state of nature the absence of

Hobbes maintained, which reduces any

a standard, as tice

is

study, in the abstract,

first

which he

rejects.

He

is

linked, however,

maintains that

it is

possible to demonstrate the rules of justice without recourse to the

doctrine of innatism

mandment tions to

of

and predicates

God who

his

demonstration on the com-

established these rules

them; consequently

his

and attached

sanc-

demonstration depends on religious

views.

The

social pact creates

individuals

who

tive force to

no new

right. It

is

an agreement between

join together for the purpose of using their collec-

bring about the execution of natural laws, and

who

renounce the use of individual force in bringing about their execution.

This conception

is

purely nominalistic and utilitarian;

it

re-

duces society to a stabilizing force effective in repressing infractions of the law.

It

follows that the royal

owe obedience

tations. Citizens

to their

permanent laws, not with respect day.

There are

power

is

subject to precise limi-

king only with respect to

to

laws improvised from day to

legislatures but they

cannot act capriciously; more

particularly, they

cannot arbitrarily dispose of

citizens'

property by

levying a tax without their consent. In a word, the pact between subject

and sovereign

revolt against

is

bilateral,

and the

subject has the right to

any violation of the law. Such

is

the origin

and the

271

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

nature of royal authority; cised illegally.

The

result

it

has a legal basis and cannot be exer-

is

the total reversal of the doctrine of

Hobbes, and Locke was one of those

who gave

their intellectual

assent to the Revolution of 1688.

From

such considerations the doctrine of toleration was derived.

In England the object was not to prevent a spiritual power distinct

from the temporal power,

as in

Roman

ing upon the temporal power in the all

men; on the

Elizabeth

Catholicism, from encroach-

name

"the religion of the subject

I,

regularly debated in a parliament

civil

was determined by a law

composed

laymen, statesmen, and businessmen,"

whether the

of eternal salvation for

contrary, in a country where, since the time of

2

for the

the object

was

most part of to

determine

authority created by the pact could regulate the

Under these conditions Locke refused to The sovereign is indifferent to the beliefs when they are expressed by acts contrary to

spiritual life of the people.

grant absolute toleration. of his subjects except

the purpose of the political society; the king will therefore prohibit

"papism," which allows the intervention of a foreign government,

and

will repress atheism since belief in

God

is

the principle of the

certainty of natural laws.

in

The Doctrine

The Essay

contains the doctrine

which was

to establish religious

by revealing the nature and

limits of

understanding. But before taking up this doctrine

we ought

and philosophical

human

of the "Essay": Criticism of Innate Ideas

to consider

toleration

one incident that will give us a better insight into

author's intentions. In 1678, while

Locke was meditating on

its

his

work, Cudworth published The True Intellectual System of the Universe. Cudworth, one of the

moving

spirits

of the

Cambridge

Platonists during this period, maintained that demonstration of the

truth of the existence of

God

is

inseparable

from the

thesis of innate

and that the famous empirical adage, "Nihil est quod non prius fuerit in sensu," led directly to atheism.

ideas,

2

C. Bastide, John Loc\e, p. 131.

in intellectu If all science

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

272

or knowledge

merely the informing of our minds by things

is

ted outside us, he said (following the line of

situa-

argument used

in the

tenth book of Plato's Laws), the world has to exist before there can exist a

notion and knowledge of the world; nor can knowledge and

intelligence precede the

he wrote, that

cious,

world

as

cause; but this thesis

its

carried to

if

logical conclusion

its

so falla-

is

would

it

exclude from existence not only reason and intelligence but even the faculty of feeling, for this faculty cannot be apprehended by the senses.

Cudworth's

system, for

it

thesis, if it

were

true,

was on the hypothesis

would upset Locke's whole

and

to

prove the existence of God.

the only possible one

sis

things

we must

Locke

of sensationalism that

sought to show the existence of the understanding and

Why

nature,

its

was the empirical hypothe-

Because in order to have the right idea of

?

introduce the

their inalterable relations,

mind

and not

to their inflexible nature

and

what

to

our

strive to introduce things to

assumed

to

be

immediate, inward knowledge and obviously accommodates

all

of

prejudices. Innatism, however, begins with

main theses that ought to bring

our individual prejudices; thus the us peace of

—the theory of the understanding and the existence

mind

God—are assumed

of

The

is

to

be inseparable from our prejudices.

internal structure of the Essay

is

largely explained

by Locke's

concern to reply to the Cambridge Platonists, although he never

names

his adversaries. In

Book

I,

which

is

a criticism of the doctrine

of innate ideas, the long chapter on the existence of

God and

the

chapter on enthusiasm complement and support each other.

In

Book

innatism

is

I,

Locke

clearly indicates his intention: to

would be

sufficient" for

him

use of their natural faculties,

to

may

criticize the doctrine itself

certainty without

show "how men, barely by the knowledge they

any such original notions or

one of the most dangerous of

proclamation of

infallibility

(I,

all ii.

and

attain to all the

have, without the help of any innate impressions, and

is

that

the doctrine of the prejudiced. If he were writing for

unprejudiced readers, he would not "it

show

doctrines in that 20;

I,

iii.

may

principles." it

24), that

arrive at

But

this

leads to the is,

to

an

ir-

reducible certainty based on nothing except the affirmation of an

273

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY He

individual.

dogmatism characterized by groundless

inspired if

therefore sees in innatism a kind of individually

there were truly innate principles, they

men, universally and first

But

eternally.

if

and then the

we examine

known

to

use.

few people, even

To

and

we

etc.),

bitter;

we

see

immediately their dissimilarity,

in

impossible for a

it is

itself.

This criticism of innatism

Book IV

others as

see that they are

Nor are they of we need only perceive

not bitter

is

without having to resort to the principle that thing to be different from

and con-

in enlightened circles.

decide that sweet

the ideas of sweet

of

individually

("Do unto

practical principles

you would have them do unto you," any

to exist in all

the speculative principles (the principles of identity

tradiction)

For

affirmations.

would have

is

supplemented by the tenth chapter

which the existence of God

is

proved by the simple

use of natural faculties, without resort to innate ideas. This

is

imply a preconceived notion of God;

constructed with the proof

itself.

ence of the contingent being that otent being of

who

knowing, and who

mind and

it

I

According

am

also intelligent since

is

is

was much

a

mundi, which, unlike ontological

variety of proof a contingentia proofs, does not

is

to

this notion

Locke, the

exist-

implies an eternal, omnip-

he created in

me

the faculty

the creator of matter, since he created

easier for

him

to

my

have created matter. This

proof alone can lead us to an exact, constant notion of the Divinity. Conversely, the notion that of such proof

men

have of the Divinity in the absence

confused and incoherent. There are even savage

is

who have no God is suffused

God; among the common people

tribes

idea of

of

with anthropomorphism.

Finally, the chapter

on enthusiasm (IV,

second edition of the Essay) illusions

which

is

xix,

the idea

introduced in the

a criticism of all of the individual

in religious circles are ascribed to divine inspiration.

This chapter corresponds to Malebranche's chapter on vivid imaginations

and

to Spinoza's

also note that in less sects to

Theologicopolitical

England the

disease

spring up, and Locke recognized

than anyone

else.

He

Treatise.

was endemic; its

it

We

should

caused count-

danger more clearly

called attention to the contrast

between such

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

274

an imaginative, personal religion and the rational character of

The Reasonableness

Christianity (in

and he reduced

the Scriptures, 1695), Christianity to that that his his

of Christianity as delivered in all

of the essential

which can be demonstrated by

dogmas of

reason.

It is clear

condemnation of enthusiasm in religion corresponds

to

condemnation of innatism in philosophy.

Simple Ideas and Complex Ideas

iv

How and

can he introduce the

to their inalterable

comprehensible sian doctrine

if

was

we

to the inflexible nature of things

relations?

Locke's system would be in-

did not assume that reflection on the Cartesource;

its

What

"an idealism."

mind

role

it is,

as his critics pointed out to

do ideas play in

him,

his system?

All knowledge consists in the perception of similarity between ideas

—yellow

are equal,

the

first

not red, two triangles which have three equal sides

is

and

so forth; this perception

case or reducible

The

tion as in the second.

what the term either

is

is

by demonstration idea, then,

is

to

either to

immediate

as in

an immediate percep-

knowledge approximately

to the proposition in logic. Ideas themselves are

complex (that

formed of simple ideas into which they

is,

can be analyzed) or simple and irreducible. Locke's exposition

is

actually the reverse of the order just indicated; he first tries to de-

how they combine to form how we perceive the simi(Book IV). We shall now

termine the nature of simple ideas, then

complex ideas (Book larity

II),

and

finally

or dissimilarity between ideas

follow the order of his exposition.

Actually his somewhat atomistic approach, which resolves the contents of sense and reflections into ideas,

than

we might

at

first

(simple ideas) or their simplicity of

suppose, whether

mode

communicated

more complicated

we consider To begin

of combination.

an idea does not refer

that cannot be

is

elements with, the

to its intrinsic character: ideas

to us if

we do

not have them from

experience (bitter, cold) are simple, and the absolute impossibility of our originating within us a single

new

simple idea (whereas

we

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

275

do form complex ideas) marks the

limits of

our knowledge. Our

simple ideas are divided into three classes: simple ideas of sensation

—warm,

solid,

smooth,

simple ideas of reflection

within

us,

hard,

—that

extension,

bitter, is,

motion;

figure,

we

ideas of the faculties that

find

such as memory, attention, will (the word "reflection"

designates only our inward

perception

of

these

faculties);

and

simple ideas of both sensation and reflection, such as the ideas of

and number.

existence, duration,

This

is

sentative;

tive?

where complications begin: the Cartesian idea an image of things.

it is

Undoubtedly, for

as

we

the value of representations

Is

is

repre-

Locke's idea also representa-

he raised the question of

shall see,

and asked,

at

with respect to

least

simple ideas of sensation, which ideas actually represented the external world.

But then such ideas would play two

hand they would be which all

constitute our

roles:

on one

the points of departure or ultimate elements

knowledge and, by the same token, they would

be equal; on the other hand they would represent material

things and, like intermediaries between us quite unequal in value.

As

and

Locke

a physicist,

things,

would be

in fact adopted the

conclusions of Boyle's mechanics: only extension, figure, solidity,

and motion, together with the Colors, sounds,

and

ideas of existence, time,

which represent

are "primary qualities"

tastes are

and number,

to us things as they are.

"secondary qualities" produced in us

by the impression made on our senses by the several motions of bodies so small that

we

are unable to perceive them.

that even with respect to primary qualities to

achieve the certainty of Descartes.

world the

should note

failed

by far

represent the external

physicist uses these ideas because he cannot use others;

for example,

if

we make

impulsion the cause of motion,

it

what

it

does not touch ...

other

way than by motion"

is

this is

only

"impossible to conceive that body should operate on

because

or, (II,

when

it

viii,

n;

does touch, operate any first

edition); but that

is

not an irreducible objection to the physics of cen-

which

posits attraction as the cause of motion. Further-

"impossibility" tral forces

To

We

Locke

more, the idea of extension

is

far

from

clear to

Locke: the cohesion



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

276

of bodies cannot be explained by

and he

tradictory;

all

and

it,

at

qualities,

is all

that

we know

from the idea of the substance of body

are as far

all."

Thus simple

ought not

The double

is

when he

constates

complex idea of extended, figured, colored,

other sensible qualities which

nothing

infinite divisibility

hardly faithful to Descartes

16) that "by the

(II, xxiii,

and

is

as if

we we knew of

it,

even those of the primary

ideas,

to be taken for the real elements of things.

interpretation of ideas of sensation

—as

the ultimate

elements of knowledge and as representatives of the real world did not persist

among

others,

only from the

among

the "idealists"

who

was decidedly opposed first

followed Locke. Berkeley,

to

it;

he considered ideas

point of view and abandoned the notion that

they were representative.

By

positing, along with simple ideas of sensation, simple ideas of

reflection,

the

and by conceding

that our

mind cannot be reduced

Locke eliminates the

to

knowledge of the

faculties of

our knowledge of sensible things,

traditional link

(as

found in Hobbes) be-

tween empiricism and sensationalism. By means of the kind of inner experience which he called reflection, as original as external experience, he answers the strongest objections of the

Cambridge

and we saw how

Platonists against the atheism of the empiricists;

he used inner experience to demonstrate the existence of

God

with-

out recourse to innate ideas. Locke's speculation concerning complex ideas was to entail the elimination of vain philosophical discussions, for he showed the true origin of the ideas that

"simple ideas" do not

fit

were

at issue. It

into the

categories

is

obvious that his

which

traditional

philosophy used to classify the objects of knowledge; they are neither substances nor

innovations but, as

we

Complex

is

modes

of substance.

One

of Locke's most important

that he considers such categories not as primary ideas

shall see, as

combinations of simple ideas.

ideas are separated into

two groups: those in which

simple ideas are combined in the idea of one thing (the idea of

gold or the idea of man), and those in which combined ideas continue to represent distinct but united things (the idea of "filiation"

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

277

which unites the idea of son and

The

relation).

of

first

modes which

group

father,

and

in general all ideas of

divided into two classes: ideas

itself

is

are the ideas of things that cannot subsist by them-

selves (a triangle or a

number); and

which are

ideas of substances

the ideas of things that subsist by themselves

(a

man). Modes

themselves are divided into simple modes in which the same simple idea

is

combined with

bination of units,

itself (for

example, number which

combination of homogeneous parts)

composed of

is

a com-

and space or duration, each of which ;

a

is

and complex or mixed modes

different kinds of simple ideas, such as beauty or the

idea of a murder.

Locke's composition (or deduction) of categories allowed

many

resolve

lems of

among them

controversial problems,

infinity,

him

to

the three prob-

power, and substance which only theories of

in-

nate ideas were thought to be capable of resolving.

According

Locke, infinity

to

repetition of units of the differs tion.

from

Therefore

it is

is

no

limit

is

not true that the infinite

from the

since

it

consists of

time, or space)

;

it

assigned to this repetiis

a limitation of the infinite, that

finity of perfection different

just

mode

same kind (number,

finitude only in that

that the finite

have

a simple

is

prior to the finite,

we

conceive an in-

we

infinity of quantity that

examined; the infinitude of God, in particular

is

conceived

number or an unlimited extension of his acts relative Of course, divine infinitude is different; actual inwhich is realized, is in no way our idea of infinity, which is

by us only

as a

to the world. finity,

endless progression; similarly, eternity

which we conceive, for "what infinity lies in obscurity,

negative idea, wherein all I

would,

it

I

lies

is

not the endless duration

beyond our

positive idea towards

and has the indeterminate confusion of a

know

I

neither do nor can

being too large for a

finite

comprehend

and narrow capacity"

(II,

xvii, 15).

Analysis of the idea of power and of the idea of freedom which

depends on

it

should, in Locke's

way

of thinking, put an

the endless controversies over this question.

simple

mode formed by

The

idea of

end

power

is

to

a

the repeated experiencing of certain changes

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

278

we have

that

noted in sensible things and in ourselves.

When we

perceive that our ideas change under the influence of sensory im-

and when

pressions or of voluntary choices, ceive the possibility of a similar

power

idea of active

power

power

active

a reflective idea;

is

will produces in bodies. is

also

which produces change and of passive

in that

which undergoes change. But

in that

The

it

in general the idea of

from the change

derives

will, then, is

who

ask

if

the will

ask

if

one power

tion since a

is

move

wishes to

free is

is

his legs

free

power

invested with another to

—a

an agent. But

so.

To

it is

to

senseless ques-

we

can ask

if

has the power to act on the basis of his knowledge

—that

is,

has the power to perform or not to perform

free to will or not to will

whatever

is

to

in his

do

so



in addition

is

power: that question

can be resolved through analysis of the motives of to will

to act

the will: a paralytic,

not free to do

is

an action depending on whether he wishes

duced

power

the

It is

made by

therefore to ask an absurd question;

power can belong only

who

the agent

and who

is

that our

an active power. Freedom

an active power, but of another kind.

or not to act according to the choice for instance,

we conwe have the

in addition

change in the future,

We

will.

are in-

by uneasiness or dissatisfaction caused by privation of

a good, but our uneasiness

not proportionate to the excellence of

is

we have

the good. Further,

the

power

to

compare one good with

another and, on the basis of our examination, to suspend actions that

would produce

uneasiness.

indifference but consists in of

judgment rather than

The most

question of the nature of substance

controversial. Substance

able to state clearly attributes.

stance

is

Locke

was

in

The

on the

—a is

is

basis

one of the

any case considered by

realities, yet,

all to

no philosopher had been

what he understood by

a false simple idea

of simple ideas

decisions

(II, xxiii)

tried to resolve the question

Here Locke's thought

ity is illusory.

not a freedom of

is

desire (II, xxi).

be the paradigm of primary

idea.

Freedom, then,

making voluntary

this

substratum of

complex idea mistaken

for a simple

not easy to penetrate, and

substance of gold seems at

all

by showing that sub-

first

its

simplic-

glance to consist

which are shown by experience always

to be

grouped

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

279

together (yellowness, fusibility, ductility, great weight) and which, collectively, are

always referred to by the same name. But in

this

case a substance

would not

also

a constant

Locke

sides,

from

differ

mind

to

from

a substance in

name

to designate their group,

imagine these simple ideas

to a single thing stitutes a

its

it is

in fact impossible for the

and are

we

because

it is

actually linked to

properties.

Locke

"We

states

if

believe they belong

union that con-

in a

it

use a single

known, would explain the

we have no

how

But he

[simple ideas of sensible

what we discover through sensation and Locke something is,

less

emphatically



—Aristotle's

lying the relation of simple ideas

it

no

states

idea of this substance: to explain the cause under-

our understanding, which can add nothing

know what

relation of

emphatically his belief in the existence

cannot conceive

qualities] should subsist alone."

to

we

If

whole. For example, gold must have an intimate constitu-

of substance:

is

by themselves, apart

as existing

which they are inherent.

—a real essence which,

that

is

beyond

to these ideas

beyond

quiddity

Substance then

reflection.

like actual infinity:

it

exists,

but

we do

and the only kind of investigation open

the experimental investigation of coexisting qualities. This

need

to separate

mind need

(a

mass of simple ideas of

to resolve the question of

we

with

reflection); but

nature.

That

is

both Descartes,

is

is

we

to

God

we

what

it

things,

that

man

and the

man

knowl-

or to angels.

idea, according to Locke,

true of complex ideas

all

incompatible

who assumed

Scholastics, with their substantial forms, attributed to

edge that belonged only

not

absolutely nothing about

had knowledge of the intimate mechanism of

Every

to us is all

determining whether matter can or

we know

why

is

it

cannot be sure that the power of thinking

its

not

body (a mass of simple ideas of sensation) and

cannot think, for since is,

is

objects to being criticized for mistaking simple ideas

for the real elements of things since

tion

mixed mode, which

a

group of simple ideas designated by a single name. Be-

is

and of simple

correspond to the reality of things

?

representative. This ideas.

Some

To what

ideas

is

equally

extent do they

—ideas of substances

—are always incomplete, for we can never know which of their un-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

280

known powers

will be revealed to us

contrary, are always complete;

we have formed by

ideas that ideas



gratitude, justice,

we

than what

conceive

ception. Furthermore,

the sense ascribed to

and

we

by the word used if

be since they exist only by our con-

to

same way an idea

when we

to express

is

words that designate ideas

attribute to

of

its

think of the

when

sum

complex mode

than the notion that

reality other

substance in general

is

we

in-

is

it

represents some-

of the characteristics that

constitute the conventional sense attributed to stance, the idea of a

complex mode

of a

conventional meaning. In the

said to be true both

when we

idea of a

think of everything designated

and the idea

it,

we omit an element

thing real and

uniting arbitrarily certain simple

them by unanimous convention, the

substance can be complete

complete

mixed or complex

moral ideas can be nothing other

all

them

if

by experience. Others, on the

these are the

it.

In the

always true since

fashion of

it,

first

in-

has no

it

and the idea of

always false in the sense that

it

never ex-

and it is sometimes false when it unites simple shown by experience to be separated or separates ideas which

presses real essences;

ideas

are in reality united. In the second instance,

when words

are not

given their exact meaning, ideas of individual substances are

most always

true, the idea of

mixed modes often

al-

false.

Finally, the analysis of ideas affords a definite solution to the

famous question of say "This

When

universals.

lead" or "This

is

is

nates a real essence the answer

ing with real essences

and how can we

is

we can

simple

never

Never. For

:

know

precisely

ceases to be of the species of horse or of lead.

nates a

nominal essence fashioned from a

associated with a

proposition

is

legitimately

a horse" ? If the universal term desig-

If,

we are dealwhen a thing

if

however,

it

desig-

collection of simple ideas

name, we can know with certainty when such a

legitimate

and with even greater

certainty as

the

convention becomes more firmly established.

But

is

this

mind? No,

nominal essence

in turn constructed arbitrarily

ideas, are representative. In a chapter (II, xxxiii),

by the

for according to Locke, general ideas, like all other

which corresponds

on the association of ideas

to Malebranche's

book on the imag-

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

28l ination,

Locke manages from

own

his

point of view to separate

general ideas that result from individual imaginings from those that are truly valid.

Here experience and usage

modes, such

our moral or legal ideas (the idea of murder), are

as

formed quite

are our masters.

Mixed

freely but not haphazardly; given social conditions

(the existence of certain laws or customs) force us to choose certain

combinations. Similarly, in the formation of general ideas of substances

we

not only conform with usage but must also follow

nature and link together only simple ideas which are constantly linked together in experience; the

our general ideas can be valid only in nature.

The

last

condition

there

if

is

a certain

general idea of substance, then,

manship but founded on the nature of

possible

is

is

of

and

permanence

human work-

things. This correspondence

between our ideas and nature raised many questions in the minds of Berkeley

v

and Hume.

Knowledge Knowledge

is

among The bonds between our ideas

the perception of agreement or disagreement

our ideas, expressed in a judgment.

can be of three sorts: identity or diversity, relation (there of relations, such as father

and

and

son, greater

is

a host

smaller, equal

and

unequal, similar and dissimilar), and coexistence. But identity and coexistence are merely singular instances of relation. is

therefore the perception of a relation.

always certain, and what

is

commonly

By

definition

Knowledge

knowledge

is

referred to as faith, belief, or

probability always falls short of knowledge,

which can nevertheless

—as when we have intuitive perception of agreedisagreement—or mediate, as when we apprehend the

be either immediate

ment

or

relation of

agreement or disagreement only through a demonstra-

tion that gradually brings us nearer to

But Locke

identifies

still

an

intuitive perception.

a fourth sort of knowledge, "that of

actual real existence agreeing to any idea." It

is

clear that the per-

ception of existence cannot be reduced to the perception of a relation

between two

ideas, for existence

is

not an idea like that of sweetness

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

282

Locke

or bitterness. Moreover,

identifies (IV, ix, x, xi)

we have concerning the we have intuitive knowledge

degrees of

the certainty

existence of real things: by

reflection

of our

to this

own

existence; linked

demonstrative knowledge of the existence of God; but "the

is

knowledge of the existence of any other thing, we can have only by sensation." Certainly

it is

absurd for us

which are capable of producing

jects

doubt the

to

in us pleasure

which produce the impressions responsible

and

sensation,

to

doubt impressions that

pieces of sensory evidence that confirm

recognizes that such certainty daily

life,

The



for all of our ideas of

we

cannot prevent, and

one another. But Locke

relative to practical situations in

is

which do not require a higher degree of

duality of these

two judgments

clearly illustrated in Locke's

is

There are two categories of

false

reality of ob-

and pain and

certainty.

—of relation and of existence

handling of the problem of truth.

judgments: in one the relation ex-

pressed by language in the proposition does not correspond to the intuitively perceived relation

correct sists

it

by returning

between

ideas,

and

it is

to intuition; in the other the

We

things.

ideas,

is

not a centaur, for example) and true

but only in the second case do

we have

knowledge.

real

follows that real knowledge implies the union of the

we have

It

two elements

separated: the perception of the existence of a relation

between ideas and the is

it

to the real existence of material

can perceive with equal certainty relations between

fanciful ideas (a hippogriff

idea

mistake con-

not in perceiving a relation incorrectly but in perceiving

between ideas that do not conform

that

easy for us to

real existence of

an archtype of which an

the representation.

From

this

it

follows that there are

two

different

ways of posing

the problem of the reality of knowledge, depending

upon whether

we are considering mixed modes whose ideas, fashioned by the mind under the conditions we have examined, have no archetype other than themselves, or substances whose archetypes are outside us.

In the

everything

mind:

first is

instance

we have

absolutely certain

traceable to relations

these are the mathematical

knowledge

since

between notions posited by the

and moral

sciences (particularly

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

283

the juridical sciences) which have the since they are based

ample,

we

same

certainty as mathematics

on equally constant and secure

notions.

For

ex-

can use these notions to demonstrate that murder must

be punished, and the soundness or our demonstration will equal that of a mathematical theorem. In the second instance experience

alone will determine whether the coexistence of ideas in our judg-

ments corresponds

Thus

to reality.

the dualism that

we have

noted in Locke from the very be-

—the dualism between the idea as an element of knowledge the idea as a representation of reality— was finally translated

ginning

and

into a radical distinction between ideal sciences

and experimental

sciences.

The

English sage originated the ideological analysis that was to

dominate philosophy for a long time: a compromise between a combinatory art which derives

and

distinct elements,

possible

all

knowledge from simple

and an empiricism which determines by

perience and custom which elements

ex-

and which combinations of

elements are valid. This analysis reveals the limits of the understand-

ing from two angles

:

it first

eliminates

all

knowledge not obtainable

through combination (such as knowledge of actual stance, real essence, free will), then all

experience. tolerance

vi

To

and

sub-

infinity,

knowledge not

confine knowledge within these limits

justifiable is

by

to assure

social peace.

English Philosophy at the

End

of the Seventeenth Century In England the transition from the seventeenth to the eighteenth a resurgence of religious philosophy. Locke

century was

marked by

was the

witness to the intellectual ferment which characterized

first

the eighteenth century.

Three currents can be

Platonism of Cambridge;

(2)

natural

identified:

religion,

(1) the

represented

Clarke; and (3) criticism of positive religions, as in

by

To land and

Collins.

The

oldest of these currents

is

Cambridge Platonism, which

dates

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

284

from the middle of the seventeenth century. Heirs

to the erudite

Platonism of the Renaissance, the Cambridge clergy preserved the traditions of

lasticism

Greek culture and evidenced

their

throughout the century. Their work

contempt for Schois

similar to that

accomplished by French Oratorians like Father Thomassin. Like

him

they viewed Platonism not as a theory of mystical knowledge

but as a theory of rational knowledge, and in 1670 one of them

wrote a refutation of Bohme, whose ideas were being introduced

England. But the Cambridge Platonists, more

into

Thomassin could not

be,

viewed reason

dimmed by

the Fall

and which

whose

essential

dogmas (according

religion,

number and tical,

intelligible to

all.

is

the necessary foundation of

notions and in ranking

man—one who,

of his soul logically, sees

imbued with the

to

them) are few

in

Smith (1616-1652) followed

Plotinus in ranking the enthusiast above the

intuitive

which was

Their rationalism, though not mys-

lacks the aridity of Locke's. John

common

than

liberal

as a natural light

still

man who

reasons with

higher the contemplative or

incapable of demonstrating the immortality it

in a superior light. Locke,

liberal spirit of

who had

been

Cambridge (which, according

to

him, makes reason the judge of divine revelation), nevertheless

condemned

the innatism

and enthusiasm

Cudworth.

Still

follow-

ing Plotinus in their criticism of mechanism, Cudworth

(1617-

1688)

and Henry More considered

different degrees. Leibniz,

was persuaded by Cudworth

who

of

bodies as having

all

—true

The second Samuel Clarke

which, since they act physically and

forces

current

—natural

(1 675-1729), a

Newtonian who delivered stituted in his will

from Leibniz' monads.

religion



is

well

a fervent

the Boyle lectures against atheism (in-

by the physicist) which resulted in

work was written

and other deniers

by

represented

London clergyman and

A

Discourse

concerning the Being and Attributes of God. According to the

in

to take a position against the "plastic natures" posited

construct organisms, differ markedly

title,

life

also attributed life to all things,

"in answer to

of natural

and revealed

establish the notion of liberty

its

Mr. Hobbes, Spinoza

and prove

religion," its

and

sub.

.

.

in order to

certainty, in contrast

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

285

to reason

and

Clarke attempted to convince unbelievers through

fate.

reason and sought, setting aside revelation and even the diversity of proofs of the existence of God, to use an unbroken chain of closely

connected propositions from which he could deduce successively the existence

and

God. Like Locke, he

attributes of

started

principle that something has existed throughout eternity;

from the

from

this

he then deduced all the attributes of God. He was a Newand he always found the best answers to materialism in Newton's The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. "The eternity

tonian,

he wrote

materialists,"

Leibniz, with

to

whom

he corresponded

frequently in 1715, "suppose that the structure of things

from the mechanical

that everything can arise

and motion, from of philosophy

and

necessity

show on

only from a

such

the mathematical principles

the contrary that the state of the universe

(the constitution of the sun arise

fate;

is

principles of matter

and the planets)

free, intelligent cause."

is

such that

can

it

His identifying Newton

with natural religion and his opposition to mechanism are important in the history of philosophy. Leibniz

demonstrate that his theism and freedom.

The

third current

reptitiously at

materialists

first,

and

tion of 1688.

own mechanism

—free

at the

thought

was trying vainly

to

could accommodate both

—which

appeared almost sur-

beginning of the century,

among

sects of

"moralists," developed vigorously after the Revolu-

We

find in

Toland (1670-1722)

all

of the themes that

sustained the anti-Christian polemic during the eighteenth century: the diatribe against priests

who

allied

themselves with the

magistrate in order to delude the people and

who

civil

invented dogmas

such as those of the immortality of the soul in order to consolidate their

power.

He

contrasted their religion with primitive Christianity

—that of the Nazarenes

and Ebionites, grounded

with neither tradition nor

priests.

he advocated a pure mechanism

solely

on reason,

Moreover, in his Pantheisticon

—an

eternal

world endowed with

spontaneous motion which leaves no room for chance, a theory of materialism which makes thought a motion of the brain. Anthony Collins (1676-1729) in

A

Discourse of Free-Thinking, Occasioned

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

286

by the Rise and Growth of a Sect Called Free-Thinkers (1713) protested especially against the extravagances of the Bible

and

its

miracles which were merely frauds, against the absurdity and in-

coherence of

man from

who, under the pretext of

interpreters

official

its

and protecting him from

setting aside dangerous opinions

own judgment.

error,

Remarks on a Pretended Demonstration of the Immateriality and Natural Immortality of the Soul 3 is a reply to the letter which Clarke wrote prevented



using his



who

against the theologian Dodwell, soul

which

a principle

is

immortal by the Collins trine of

showed the union

to

which

is

rendered

punish or reward man." In his

of materialism

knowledge: "Since thought

of matter on our senses,

maintained in 1706 that "the

naturally mortal but

is

God

will of

Collins'

we have

is

and the

letter

sensationalist doc-

a consequence of the action

every reason to conclude that

it is

a property or affection of matter occasioned by the action of matter."

Such were the three forms of rationalism prevalent

at the begin-

ning of the eighteenth century: the rationalism inspired by the

Cambridge

Platonists, the rationalism of Clarke,

alism. Shaftesbury (1671-1713),

out on an independent course which drew

Cambridge

and

Platonists

order and beauty society,

is

man an

in

whose development

its

He

is

inspiration

set

from the

and

maintained, contrary to is

love of

expressed in the universe and

perfection in

responsible for

is

its

innate moral sense which

—an order which

and which has

critical ration-

stressed the affective, sentimental,

aesthetic elements in their teachings.

Locke, that there

and

grandson of Locke's protector,

all

God; natural

affections

of the unhappiness of

men.

This view of universal order, in which apparent disorders disappear,

—one

provided a solution to the problem of evil recognized as being similar to his

was

own

which Leibniz

optimism. But Shaftesbury

careful to call attention in his Letter concerning

Enthusiasm

(1708) to the difference between the false enthusiasm of the fanatic (observable in the English sects of his period) 3

Published

taining

in

English as

Some Remarks

.

la nature et la destination

.

.

A (2d

Letter to

the Learned Mr.

Henry Dodwell; Con-

1709) and in French under the humaine (London, 1769).

ed.,

de Vame

and true enthusiasm, title

Essai sur

287

which ligious

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY is

man. The

religion.

ligion

the awareness of a divine presence in the artist or the reletter affirms the

preeminence of morality over

"This science," he added in Soliloquy (ijio), "judges

itself,

examines inspiration,

miracles; the sole standard

is

re-

prophecies, distinguishes

tests

derived from moral rectitude."

4

On the

whole, his thought resembles a commentary on Diotima's discourse in the

Symposium and,

after so

much

dry

dialectic, is singularly re-

freshing. 4

Quoted by A. Leroy, French translation of the

Letter, p. 263, note.

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York, 1925.

Edited by E. T. Campagnac. London, 1901.

Studies Albee, Ernest. "Clarke's Ethical Philosophy," Philosophical Review, (1928), 304 Cassirer, Ernst. Pettegrove.

Hutin,

S.

ff.

and 403

The

XXXVII

ff.

Platonic Renaissance in England. Translated by

London,

J.

Les disciples anglais de Jacob Boehme. Paris, i960. Un precurseur de la franc-maconnerie , John Toland, suivi de

Lantoine, A.

traduction francaise

P.

1953.

du

la

Pantheisticon. Paris, 1927.

Leroux, E., and A. Leroy. ha philosophie anglaise classique. Paris, 1952. Lyon, G. L'idealisme anglais au XVIII e siecle. Paris, 1888.

Muirhead,

J.

H. The Platonic Tradition

in

Anglo-Saxon Philosophy. London,

1920.

Passmore,

De

J.

Pauley,

A. Ralph Cudworth:

W.

C.

The Candle

An

Cambridge, 1951. Lord: Studies in the Cambridge Plato-

Interpretation.

of the

nists. New York, 1937. Pawson, G. P. The Cambridge Platonists and Their Place in Religious Thought. London, 1930. Powicke, F. J. The Cambridge Platonists. London, 1926.

29I

LOCKE AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHY

N. Logic and the Basis of Ethics. Oxford, 1949. Theology and Christian Philosophy J. Rational Seventeenth Century. 2d ed. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1872.

Prior, A.

Tulloch,

in

England

in the

Tuveson, E. L. Imagination as a Means of Grace. Berkeley, Calif., i960. Ward, R. Life of Henry More. New ed., edited by M. H. Howard. London, 1911.



BAYLE AND FONTENELLE i

Pierre Bayle

the principal works of Pierre Bayle prior to his celebrated Historical

France or forced

become

to

a Protestant family

and

when

date from the grievous period

Critical Dictionary

(1697),

Protestants were expelled

converts. Bayle himself,

and who returned

he had embraced Catholicism

(i 647-1 706),

briefly

to the

who was from

reformed religion

rest of his life.

Thoughts Written the

to a

All of his subsequent works

Doctor

Comet which Appeared

at the

where

Diverse

Sorbonne on the Occasion of

December

in

of

in 1680, fled with

several coreligionists, including Pierre Jurieu, to Rotterdam,

he spent the

after

Academy

(1669), left the

Sedan where he had been teaching philosophy and,

from

MDCLXX

(1681), the

General Criticism of Louis de Maimbourgs History of Calvinism (1682),

and Philosophical Commentary on These Words

Christ:

Compel Them

ance, but their tone

is

to

Come

wholly

in (1686)

different.

—are

demands

of Jesus for toler-

Bayle did not speak as a

member of a humble, outlawed sect, nor did he protest, in the name of a religious truth which was the exclusive

like Jurieu,

property of

Calvinism, for his intellectual awareness of the absurdity of intoler-

ance was no

less

acute than the feeling of revulsion caused by the

horror of the religious persecutions.

He knew

that Calvinism

just as intolerant as Catholicism; all theologians,

292

even

when

was

they at

BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

293 first

agree to discussion, end like the "converters of France; around

1680 these gentlemen began to offer to discuss their religion with

promised

their errant brothers; they

lighten them, to instruct

them

to hear their doubts, to en-

answering two

cordially; but after

or three times, they would no longer endure contradiction and insisted that

anyone

opinionated. That ning, for to

it is

who would

not accept their explanations was

what they should have

is

from the begin-

said

ridiculous to enter into discussion unwilling to listen

an oppenent's reply" {Dictionary,

article

on Rufin, Note C)

.

matter which side he was on, no theologian observed the law of cussion. Bayle himself

found a most implacable enemy

No dis-

in the person

of the Protestant minister Jurieu.

How,

then, did this spirit evolve ?

The

great metaphysical systems

which dominate the seventeenth century conceal the profound terest in history that characterized this period, yet

more widespread. "For one

in-

nothing was then

investigator of physical experiences,"

writes Bayle, "or for one mathematician, you find a

hundred

serious

and its dependencies." Bayle strongly condemns maxims" of those who scorn historical investigations.

students of history the "disdainful

Mathematicians ness in

may

contrast the clarity of their logic with the dark-

which the investigation of human

reasons that historical facts can be tainty perfect in

its

own

and cannot

known with

but Bayle

a degree of cer-

right; in addition, the historian, in contrast

to the mathematician, deals not

of our soul"

facts leaves us,

with beings that are merely "ideas

"exist outside

our imaginations" but with

true realities. Mathematicians, Bayle adds (and here

we

are

bound

to recall Leibniz), stress the great ideas of the infinitude of

God

yielded by the "abstract depths of mathematics"; against this the historians set the priceless

the failings

and

The tendency

knowledge yielded by

limitations of is

human

investigations of

reason.

obvious: thanks to Bayle, scholars broke out of

and became interested in philosmore profound and more important data on the nature of man than had ever been provided by philosophers versed in geometry. As a matter of fact, as he noted in the

their

ophy.

narrow

fields of investigation

They sought

to provide

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

294

draft of his Dictionary, Bayle's intention

first

factual errors

found

in the dictionaries

had preceded him, by checking

was not

and works of

He

was

toward Spinoza, he used blunted weapons against

implacable

who answered him

dogmatism

What was was

who

and philosophers.

criticized all the great metaphysical systems of his time.

Leibniz the

historians

their sources, but rather to challenge

the validity of the opinions held by theologians

He

to refute

in his Theodicy,

of philosophers

no

and he disapproved

than that of theologians.

less

the nature of Bayle's criticism?

obvious that he

It is

human

intrigued by the spectacle of the medley and variety of

opinions, but his interest

of

was not the same,

either fundamentally or

formally, as that of a skeptic like Montaigne. Bayle belonged to an

age of impassioned (and excessive) controversy: never had there

been so

and the

much dry debate over "grace" or "the way of examination way of authority." Bayle himself was a controversialist when

he locked horns with Jurieu in defense of tolerance. Moreover, the opinions which were upheld in a controversy were presented in the

manner most appropriate doctrines

to their defense

—that

is,

as established

marked by inner coherence and based on universally It was this form, appropriate to controversy,

accepted principles.

that Bayle tried to give to the theses

how

which he examined;

stand the

test.

is

Leibniz' monadology failed the test because of "all

—for

the impossibilities that strike in the imagination"

substance which

causing

its

first

simple and which

is

is

step

its

and of passing from

opposite in the absence of any external reason.

toward putting an end

that neither of the

example, a

nevertheless capable of

perceptions to vary spontaneously

one perception to

The

that

he tested them, and he rejected them because they did not with-

to controversy

was

two adversaries understood himself or

to

show

said any-

thing intelligible.

He

was quick

relationships

to sense not only the slightest incoherence but also

between ideas even when these relationships were

veiled or dissimulated by the partisan spirit of the controversialists.

For example,

a considerable part of his

Thoughts on the Comets

is

BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

295

based on the rather explicit assumption of an

Church and

miracles officially accepted by the

common

future events accepted by the

between

affinity

the prediction of

people on the basis of the

appearance of comets; that his method of criticism was effective

On

obvious.

is

the thorny question of grace he suggests to adversaries

that they cannot fail to understand each other once they agree to

examine

their doctrines instead of

championing

the matter of liberty there are only say that

two stands

their causes: to take.

it

the

make

it

resolve to act in a certain

stand

is

that taken by Molinists, the other that taken

who

"On is

to

of the distinct causes that converge in the soul confer

all

upon

power

to act or not to act; the other

way

that

it

is

cannot

to say that they resist.

and Protestants of the confession of Geneva

Jansenists,

One

oppose Molinism and

who

therefore

must have

same dogma. But the Thomists vehemently

The

first

by Thomists,

—three groups essentially the

insisted that they

were

not Jansenists, and the Jansenists insisted with equal vehemence that they

were not Calvinists on the matter of

liberty

.

.

.

and

all

of this for the purpose of avoiding the dire consequences envisioned in case of

agreement on some point with either the Jansenists or

the Calvinists.

On

the other hand, there has been no sophism

which the Molinists have not used

to

show

that St. Augustine did

not teach Jansenism" {Dictionary, article on Jansenius, Note C).

Bayle

likes,

prejudices,

however, to separate things which we, because of our

deem

to

(a then novel idea

be indissolubly united. For example, he notes

which was

logical investigations)

to be of great significance in ethno-

that belief in

magic and demonic powers

does not imply belief in God; and he was able to the religions of the Far East

cite as

evidence

which were then becoming known in

Europe.

This foils

relentless criticism,

based on unreserved intellectual sincerity,

biased opinions by taking individual theses

and revealing

their

inner contradictions or unintelligibility, by showing the affinity that sometimes exists arbitrariness of the

between opposing theses and, by

bond

contrast, the

that unites certain affirmations. This re-

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

296 lentless

manipulation of ideas,

pursued

this collation of theses is

indefatigably (to the unending delight of the reader) throughout the pages of the Dictionary.

But was

assume?

was

It

precisely because of

its

and hardly conform

to ordinary

me

distinguished layman like

judgments: ...

called attention to

be no reason for anyone to be concerned.

guide in such matters an author

ments

which are "rather If a

rank, un-

an error in vast

involving religion or morality, there would

historical collections

incidentally,

at first

dissemination that Bayle

tried to attenuate the significance of his reflections, free

we might

widely disseminated as

this criticism as

and who,

who

.

.

.

No

one chooses

as a

speaks only in passing and

for the very reason that he scatters his senti-

like needles in a haystack, clearly indicates that

wish to be followed." Montaigne's to disturb theologians until they

ideas,

he does not

he continues, did not begin

were reduced

to a

system by Pierre

Charron. In reality

we

find in

ment which always

fective. It consists in

of any support in that

Bayle,

managed

of Bayle's criticisms a dialectical

all

retains

its

identity

and which

is

move-

singularly ef-

depriving metaphysical and religious theses

human

nature or

human

reason, with the result

while pretending always to subscribe to orthodoxy,

to relegate

them

they laid claim. Almost

solely to the divine authority to

which

of the great metaphysical systems since

all

Descartes had implied that certain theological theses were linked to the very nature of

human

reason: existence and unity of God,

Providence, immortality of the soul.

most

liberal advocates of tolerance

leave in peace the atheists

thought

to

main

the

or materialists

be contrary to any moral

nection between the

At

religious

same time even the

were nevertheless reluctant life. It

to

whose opinions were was

this

dogmas and

presumed con-

the fundamental

needs of reason and morality that Bayle's criticism gradually undid. In dealing with the existence of God, Bayle said: there

is

ample

this existence

liberty."

"On

this point

"Provided that a doctor acknowledges that

can be proved by some other means, he

is

allowed

the liberty of criticizing this or that particular proof" (Article on

:

BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

297

Note G). In plain language he

Zabarella,

saying that there

is

first

mover implies

notion. Furthermore,

movers

the eternity of the world

no

means

universally accepted proof. In fact, the Aristotelian proof by of the

is

—an unacceptable

can be used to prove a multiplicity of prime

it

just as surely as

can be used to prove that there

it

God. The Cartesian proof was

criticized

from the Sorbonne, L'Herminier, was

from

all

quarters.

one

is

A

doctor

able freely to reject every

Thomist proof and accept only the proof grounded on the order of the universe.

On

this question, therefore,

evidence. Luther's teacher, Biel, of the existence of

Providence

God

had

was no absolute

there

moreover that "proofs

stated

provided by reason are only probable."

Bayle's favorite question, the question to

is

The problem

returns time after time.

of theodicy

had

which he

in effect been

stimulating vain discussions for centuries but had never been resolved.

The

istence of

existence of evil could not be reconciled with the ex-

an

good and omnipotent

infinitely

goodness must be limited it

its

power must be limited

to prohibit evil

but could not. Everything said to justify

him an absurd

despot.

order to manifest his

would allow

To

wisdom

him

to see in

is

two

issue.

principles,

will not

"a monarch

marvel

hypothesis

better than

who

its

theory of

one good and the other bad, could resolve the at

itself in

and who

a

most singular

situation

will not deplore the destiny of

our reason? Take the Manicheans: with a tradictory

God makes

sedition to spread in order to acquire the glory of

Thus human reason found

"Who

wished

if it

example, that he permits sin in

say, for

having brought a remedy." Only Manicheism, with the

its

permitted the existence of evil which

if it

could have prohibited, or

principle; either

they explain

totally

absurd and con-

experiences a hundred

times

orthodox thinkers with their righteous, necessary, and

uniquely true hypothesis of an infinitely good and omnipotent First Principle" veiled,

Can

is

Note E).

the immortality of the soul, in

Pomponazzi's prove

(Art. Pauliciens,

its

Bayle's irony,

though

unmistakable.

treatise clearly

showed

its

turn, be

proven rationally ?

that Peripateticism could not

immortality: "Here only the system of Descartes has laid



THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

298

down

firm principles." But, the Cartesian principle

ituality of the soul)

Descartes satisfied It

not evident to

is

many

might be alleged

all,

(the spir-

itself

and Gassendi's

reply to

people (Art. Pomponazzi, Note F).

dogmas

in defense of these

that they are in-

dispensable to public morality, but experience reveals that atheists

may

sometimes have good morals and that believers

be criminals.

Bayle gave his approval to Pomponazzi's observation "that a great

number

of rogues

and

rascals believe in the immortality of the soul

while several saints and righteous

Thoughts on the Comet,

in

existence of ethical principles

men do

not."

which Bayle repeatedly

among

him. "This

versaries to raise their voices against

stressed the

had caused many ad-

atheists,

is

because they do

not wish to admit that religious motives are by no means our only

The Sadducees who were more virtuous than the

motives for action," he says; "there are others.

denied the immortality of the soul

who were

Pharisees

God"

men

we

doubt or

learn that there

to

fail

men

Note C). The

ions

and

about

little

another

is

illusion springs

life

after

But nothing

is

so

uncommon

as consistency in

who

one"

this

can be

it

belief in a future life will serve as a

practices. Jurieu, for instance,

we

from the assumption

always act according to their principles, so that

demonstrated a priori that restraint.

would know

believed that "our morals are corrupted because

(Art. Sanchez, that

We

Sadducees, Note E).

(Art. if

meticulous in the observation of the law of

moral

our opin-

conceded that our

reli-

gious beliefs depend on our mental dispositions and tried logically to

deduce tolerance since

not open to dispute, proved to

tastes are

be the most intolerant of men. Furthermore,

it is

wrongly assumed

that religious motives are our only motives for action; there are in fact

many

others

—love of praise, fear of infamy, and many more

which are often stronger than

religious motives

ing to virtuous actions" {Dictionary, ed. of 1715,

These few indications reveal the Bayle pursued his

work

of

infinite

and capable III,

988).

patience with which

removing one by one every prop sup-

porting the metaphysical and religious truths inherent in nature, every

of lead-

argument adduced

to

make them

a

human

human

necessity;



BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

299

in short, every reason for believing derived

He

nevertheless pretended that he

and

comparison with

God

it,

was

permitted

it;

it

to

to authority alone

proval, this letter

reason in

Every doubt raised by :

"This

is

remove doubts: God

and

just,

Note C) Recourse

done, wisely permitted" (Art. Rufin,

and

fallible

therefore true

is

single true

human

eliminated by authority

and the true way

the right choice

did

is

infallible divine authority?

the problem of theodicy

God

was not removing a

what

solid support for religion:

from the essence of man.

surely

said

it,

wisely

to authority

.

obligatory. Bayle cites, not without ap-

is

from Perrot d'Ablancourt

to Patru:

"You

believe

in the immortality of the soul because your reason dictates this

course,

and

I

my

against

because our religion

judgment.

commands me

I

believe our souls are immortal

to believe in this way. Consider

both views and you will probably admit that mine (Art. Perrot,

Thus he

Note

much

better"

I).

puts metaphysical truths on such a high plane that they

no longer have any human

from

separated

is

rationality

interest.

and

Reduced

to

its

own domain,

ethics, isolated in its majesty, reli-

gion remained helplessly suspended. Will authority provide a basis for

agreement? No, not so long

assess

worth. "Scripture

its

is

as

human judgment

intervenes to

used to support both sides of a ques-

Note C). There is no agreement on the interpretation of Scripture. Nicole and the Catholics supported the method of authority which made the Roman Church an infallible tion" (Art. Semblangay,

interpreter; but

who,

in the absence of lengthy investigations not

accessible to the faithful, can assure us of the unity of this tradition

The method isters, itself

of critical examination, supported by Protestant min-

engendered disputes. Thus there

for evaluating authority. that

men

What

recourse

is

is

no human method

there except to believe

are led to religion by purely irrational means,

"some

through education and others through grace?" This time any

between religion and reason has been broken, duly and religion

is

we might religion

is

?

wholly divine but infer

from the

after all a

mere

it

first

tie

decisively;

is in no way human. Or perhaps, as means of access to it education



custom, traceable like other customs to

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

300

the accident of birth. Bayle's thought flections

which he

communion by education

certain

may

be expressed in these

"When

attributes to Nihusius:

be gained by the change

it

if

unless something

is

—a better position, for instance; for what

would we gain by abandoning the communion and shaped us

re-

to a

or birth, the resulting disadvan-

tages are not a legitimate reason for leaving to

one belongs

by leaving

it

we

that has

produced us

only exchanged one sickness for

another?" (Art. Nihusius, Note H).

Thus moved but for

Bayle's negative dialectic resulted in tolerance religious conviction

had

it

as its positive counterpart

(and

significance) a concrete, historical,

its

human

which

from the domain of human this, especially,

re-

disputes,

accounts

and human conception of

nature which had no transcendent term as a referent.

Fontenelle

ii

Bernard Fontenelle (1657-1757),

who

first

devoted himself to the

writing of minor poems, pastorals, and an unsuccessful tragedy, tions in public

more than any of his contemporaries on revolutaste, on "changes that are forever occurring in the

minds of men,

tastes that are

must have

reflected

what might be described

in

imperceptibly replaced by

as a relentless,

or an eternal revolution of opinions

tle

Do one

these changes in taste follow

taste supplants another; there

den link"

He

taste.

(II,

434).

gan

1

to meditate

Sur Vhistoire, 1

81 8).

Worlds he demonstrated

in his

that he

Con-

knew

astronomy.

Academy of Sciences, he bemovement of his time, particularly

he became secretary of the

in mathematics

Paris,

attentive to public

and the Hotel de Rambouillet, and

to interest the ladies in

after

not by chance that

his contemporaries' distaste for the preciosity

versations on the Plurality of

But

"It is

*

ordinarily a necessary but hid-

Here he was obviously being

was aware of

of the age of Voiture

how

is

tastes

mutually destructive bat-

and customs."

no rule ?

new

II,

on the

and 434

scientific

became the

historian or rather

and subsequent references are

to Fontenelle's (Euvres,

physics; thus he (this

BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

301

the historiographer of the sciences through eulogies written for de-

members

ceased

changes in

eral

human mind

beneath the

of

discerned, beneath

ephem-

among

the in-

new

the emergence of a

taste,

tellectual elite and,

the

Academy, and he

of the

which

interest in his essays

new

spirit,

spirit

the fundamental traits of

was but one form. Fontenelle's

it

sole

(sometimes uninspired), in the prefaces to

The Analysis of Infinitely Small Objects, The Geometry of Infinity, and The Utility of Mathematics and Physics, in his short History and The Origin of Fables, and in his somewhat longer History of Oracles (whose subject matter he borrowed from Van Dale), was to arrive at a description of the human mind which would take into account the prodigious advances that had occurred in the mathematical and physical sciences during the seventeenth century.

Fontenelle saw these advances as the point of departure for an

ascending

movement whose

assume that the sciences are colleagues.

"The

task of the

future could not be foreseen just

:

"We may

approaching birth," he wrote

Academy

is

to

to his

provide an ample supply

of authenticated facts, for the structures of physics cannot be raised until experimental physics

is

able to provide the necessary materials"

The example

of

progress in infinitesimal geometry in the seventeenth century

is

(I,

37).

What

direction

topical; all of the great

row, Mercator

—"each

would

this progress

geometers

take?

—Descartes,

one following

his

own

Fermat, Pascal, Barparticular route

was

led either to infinity or to the brink of infinity. It permeated all things, followed the geometers everywhere,

them freedom to escape" and discovered the means

21).

to

employ

common

in calculus "this infinity

It is

not the analytical development

principles accepted by everyone;

efforts, at first

is

just

coming

scattered truths

them

it

is

the unanimity of

dispersed, which are harmonized thanks

spired discovery of a general principle: etry

to birth,

we

"When

to the in-

a science like

geom-

can apprehend almost nothing but

which do not cling

separately, as best

along

which

Thus knowledge does not begin with

unity but tends toward unity. of

Newton and Leibniz came

(I,

could no longer be rejected."

and would not allow

together,

and we prove each of

we can and almost always with considerable

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

302

But

difficulty.

after a certain

we

been found, ples begin to

how

see

emerge"

number fit

of these unitary truths have

together and their general princi-

27).

clear that the expression "general principle" here signifies

It is

nothing comparable is

(I,

they

to the principle of identity or its analogues;

it

rather a principle that accords science a deductive form, such as

the infinitesimal calculus in

all

of attraction in every particular

form

an

is

ideal

remote from

problems of quadrature or the law

law in astronomy. The deductive

science,

but

it is

of any science, even history. Fontenelle sees

nevertheless the idea

an

affinity

between the

system of motive powers by which Tacitus explained the history of the

Roman

emperors and the system of vortexes by which Descartes

explained natural phenomena, and he entertains the notion of going

even further and constructing a priori a history in which a sequence of historical events will issue

from the

once these are thoroughly understood

principles of

(II,

taneity of separate thoughts,

number (I,

work it

in

human

development. it

later

is

which are only the

implies the spon-

The mind

only after a certain

and when same

its

turn arrives"

force

does not, in

always explains the

with the known. This

fables,

to light

this regularity implies that the

ways of proceeding;

it

nevertheless subject to a regulative

knowledge comes

of prior items have been clarified

But

21).

is

nature,

429).

Progress in the direction of principles, though order: "Each item of

human

is

always at

fact,

have two

unknown by comparing

the same procedure that gave birth to sciences of primitive

man, and which

caused the advance of the sciences. Fables are generally ex-

plained (and here Fontenelle

is

probably thinking of Bacon) by the

uncertain faculty of the imagination. In reality

many

antiquity on, assumed that myths were etiological to explain

people,

—that

is,

from

intended

phenomena. Fontenelle was a vigorous exponent of the

etiological theory;

Homer and Hesiod were the first Greek philosomen of extraordinary intelli-

phers, but even "in those crude times

gence were naturally inclined saw";

if

must be

to seek out the cause of

whatever they

water always flowed in a stream, they reasoned that there a

nymph

holding an urn from which water flowed without

BAYLE AND FONTENELLE

303 ceasing

(II,

389). Fontenelle offers a singular proof of the rational

character of fables, namely, the identity that he finds (thus antici-

pating comparative mythology) between the fables of the Greeks

and those of the American Indians

(II, 395). Gods and goddesses, from the same principle which regulated modern

therefore, issued

sciences: the relating of the

concludes: "All pidities of

any

men

tribe

unknown

to the

known. Fontenelle

resemble one another so closely that the stu-

whatsoever should

make

us shudder"

(II,

431).

modern man is attributable to the development of his knowledge and not to his intelligence, which Fontenelle equates with that of primitive man. Fontenelle went still further in his thinking, but he had to take

The

superiority of

every precaution before expressing himself. of Christianity

the action of

is

God

One

in history

of the foundations

—an action translated

by the miracles and the Incarnation. Fontenelle envisions a positive history taire's

which teaches

man

only about himself; the

spirit of

God. Fontenelle points out that "there are two parts of history studied": the fabulous history of primitive times, the invention of

two

Vol-

Essay on Morals contrasts sharply with that of The City of

men, and the true

and

first

be

The

after the gen-

been provided by morals"; their usefulness

discovery of "the soul of facts," which in the of errors

man,

to

wholly

is

history of times closer to us.

histories will reveal "a detailed portrait of

eral portrait has

which

is

in the

instance consists

One could hardly made an attempt to be so in his

in the second of passions (II, 431).

be more explicit, though Fontenelle

One

History of Oracles.

of the historical proofs of the

power

of

Christ was said to be that the pagan oracles, which were necessitated by demons,

had ceased

to speak at the time of his

Following the account of

Van

plaining oracles through

demons

commodiousness, which made

Dale, Fontenelle

it

is

first

coming.

shows that ex-

unsound because

of their very

possible for the Christians easily to

explain the miracles of paganism; then he shows that the fact of the cessation of oracles

is itself

spurious.

If in all of his essays Fontenelle, like Bayle, implies the

of the action of

God

in history, he suggests,

negation

by way of counterpart,



304 that

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

God must

be sought in nature: "Physics follows and untangles

the signs of the infinite intelligence all things, whereas history has as

and whims of men" of history

but the

(I,

its

and wisdom which produced

subject the effect of the passions

35). Fontenelle's

God

is

—the God manifested in the intolerant

God

of nature

who

acts

no longer the God sects of religions

through fixed laws. Physics

elevated to the status of theology."

itself "is

Bibliography

Texts Bayle, Pierre. Dictionnaire historique et critique. 3 vols. Rotterdam, 1697. 3d

Rotterdam, 1715.

ed. 4 vols.

New

ed., edited

by A.

J.

Q. Beuchot. 16

vols.

Paris, 1820-24. vols. The Hague, 1727-31. from Bayle's Dictionary. Edited and translated by E. A. Beller and M. du P. Lee, Jr. Princeton, N.J., 1952. Historical and Critical Dictionary, Selections. Translated by Richard H. Popkin. Indianapolis, Ind., 1965.

CEuvres diverses. 4

.

Selections

.

-.

Studies

W. H.

Barber,

"Pierre Bayle: Faith

and Reason,"

in

The French Mind. Ox-

ford, 1952. Pp. 109-25.

Constantinescu-Bagdat, E. Pierre Bayle. Paris, 1928. Delbos, V. "Fontenelle et Bayle," in

La

philosophic francaise. Paris,

1919.

Pp. 133 ff. Delvolve, J. Essai sur Pierre Bayle, religion, critique, et philosophic positive. Paris, 1906.

Labrousse, Elisabeth. Inventaire critique de la correspondance de Pierre Bayle. Paris, 1961. .

Pierre Bayle. 2 vols.

The Hague,

1963-64.

Levy-Bruhl, L. "Les tendances generates de Bayle et de Fontenelle," Revue d'histoire de la philosophic, I (1927), 50 ff. Mason, H. T. Pierre Bayle and Voltaire. London, 1963. Puaux, F. Les precurseurs francais de la tolerance au

XVHI e

siecle.

Paris,

1881.

Robinson, H. Bayle the Sceptic. Smith, H. E.

The

New York,

193 1.

Literary Criticism of Pierre Bayle.

New

Haven, Conn.,

1912.

Pierre Bayle:

Le philosophe de Rotterdam. Edited by Paul Dibon. Amsterdam,

1959.

305

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

306

II

Texts Fontenelle, Bernard de. CEuvres. 5 vols. Paris, 1825. Histoire de V Academic royale des sciences. Paris, 1702-33. .

.

De

Vorigine des fables. Edited by

J.

R. Carre. Paris, 1932.

Dialogues on the Plurality of Worlds. Translated by York, 1929. .

}.

Glanvill.

New

Studies Carre,

J.

La philosophic de

R.

Fontenelle, ou le sourire de la raison. Paris,

1932.

Cosentini,

}.

W.

Fontenelle's Art of Dialogue.

Delbos, V. "Fontennelle et Bayle," in

Pp. 133

Delorme, ^

New York,

La philosophic

1952.

francaise. Paris, 1919.

ff.

S.

"Etudes sur Fontenelle," Revue d'histoire des sciences, 1957,

pp. 288-309.

Gregoire,

F.

"Le dernier defenseur des Tourbillons, Fontenelle," Revue

d'histoire des sciences, 1954, .

pp 220-46.

Fontenelle: une philosophic desabusee. Nancy, 1947.

Levy-Bruhl, L. "Les tendances generates de Bayle et de Fontenelle," Revue d'histoire de la philosophic, I (1927), 50 ff. Marsak, L. M. Bernard de Fontenelle. Philadelphia, 1959.

INDEX Academies and

scientific gatherings,

ences,

experimental

27-33;

phi-

losophy, 21-43; experimental proof,

14-17

Instauratio magna, 40-42; and works, 21-24; mechanism, 37-39; Novum organum, 31-37;

Adam-Tannery, 47 n. Alexander, 241 Alexander VII, 7

39-41;

Anabaptists, 5 Anaxagoras, 12

theory of idols, 32-33; understanding and experimental science, 24-

life

Andre, 221 Apollonius, 15, 207

27 Bacon, Nicholas, 21

Archimedes, Arianism, 6

Barrow, 301

15,

Bacon, Roger, 26, 41

207

Aristotle, 10-11, 14, 25-26, 29-30, 33,

Basson, 10-12

37-38, 50-51, 53, 56, 76, 82, 85, 94, 109-11, 113, 116, 167, 209, 221, 230-

Bayle, Pierre,

32, 234, 236, 241-43, 254,

279

Aristotelianism and Aristotelians, 59,

C,

271 n. 16,

190-91, 229, 292-

300 Beaune, Florimond de, 51

Beeckman,

74-75, 95 Arminians, 6 Arminius, 6

Arnauld, 7-8, 8

Bastide,

Isaac, 46, 53, 83

Bekker, Balthasar, 108 Benedictines, 190, 219-20 n., 49, 63, 70, 80, 108,

197-98, 201, 213-14, 218, 228, 230,

243-44, 252, 255, 260 Ashley, 267

Berg, Conrad, 112 Bergerac, Cyrano de, 107 Berigard, 10-12 Berkeley, 276

Atomism, 9-14

Berulle, 47, 63

Augustinianism, 199-200 Ausonius, 47

Biel,

297

Blampignon, 198

n.

Bohme, Jakob, 225-28, 225 Bacon and experimental philosophy, 2 i-53

Bacon, Francis, 149,

Bossuet, 15,

16

n.,

17, 52, 92,

160, 302; division of the sci-

307

n.,

284

Boileau, 107 3, 5, 63, 147,

197-98, 201, 261

Bouillier, 202 n., 221

Boulainvilliers,

Count

of, 191

3 o8

INDEX

Bourdin, 49

Chillingworth, 4

Boursier, 198

Christianity

Boutroux, Pierre, 84

30,

Boyle, Robert, 42-43, 142, 228, 275 Boyneburg, Johann Christian von, 228 Bramhall, 142 Brandenburg, Elector of, 268

and Christians,

130-31,

62,

134,

6, 9,

137-38,

156-57, 203, 229, 260-61, 274, 285,

303 Christian Platonism, 112

Christian Skepticism, 14 Cicero, 258

Brandt, Frithiof, 144 n.

Bredenburg, Jan, 157, 191

Clarke, Samuel, 239, 258, 283-86

Brehier, E., 34 n.

Clauberg, 108, 112

Brinon,

Clavius, 46

Mme de, 261

Brochard, Jeanne, 46 Bruno, 9, 26, 242 Brunschvicg, 71 n., 128 n.

Clerc, Jean

Busco, 93 n. Cabala, 32, 155, 156

Collins, Anthony, 283, 285-86 Comenius, 14 Conde, 158

Cabalists, 25

Condillac, 56

Caesar, 242

Conring, 258 Copernicus, n-12

Clerselier,

Calvinism and Calvinists, 261, 292, 295 271-72,

Platonists,

276,

283-84, 286

Campanella, 9 Carneades, 258

Cordemoy, Gerard

de, 108, 115

Cornet, 7 Coste, 269 Council of Trent, 261

Counterreformation, 1-2 Crescas, Hasdai, 156

Cartesianism and Cartesians, 128,

269

Cousin, 201 n.

Carre, 219 118,

le,

94

Collegiants, 157-58, 191

Calvin, 253

Cambridge

14,

151,

130,

161,

163,

46-

13,

168,

165,

187, 190, 199, 200, 203, 205, 207-8,

Cromwell, 5

Cud worth,

268, 271-72, 284

Cupid, 31

212-13, 215, 219, 220, 230-32, 23638, 241, 244, 249, 257, 274-75,

297-

98 Cartesianism in the seventeenth cenCaterus, 49 Catholicism and Catholics, 130, 151, 155, 157, 261, 292,

(Lord

shire), 93, 141

Ceres, 34 II,

212

63,

299

Descartes, Rene, 10, 12, 14-17, 37-38, 43, 46-118, 45,

Devon-

158,

126,

160,

130-32, 134, 144-

162-64, 166-67,

^9,

173-74, 183-84, 190, 197, 199, 200, 202, 207, 209-1 1, 213, 215-17, 225,

230-32, 236-39, 241, 245-46, 251-

Chanut, 98 Charles

85, 00,

Bosses, 255, 260-61

Descartes and Cartesianism, 46-118 1-2,

Cavalieri, 15, 84, 129, 234

William

Costa, Uriel, 155, 269

Democritus, 10-12, 80-81,

Des

tury, 107-9

Cavendish,

Di

Daniel, 108

257-58, 275-76, 279, 296-98, 301-2; doubt and the Cogito, 6652,

141, 268

Charron, Pierre, 98, 296 Chevreuse, Due de, 197

71; ethics, 97-107; existence of

God,

71-80; metaphysics, 62-83; method,

3°9

INDEX

52-62; physics, 83-94; physiology, 94-97; soul and body, 80-83; theory

Gassendi, Pierre,

of eternal truths, 65-66

Gerdil, 221

Digby, Kenelm, 113 Dionysius the Areopagite, 219 Diotima, 287

298

German philosophy

before

Leibniz,

225-28 Geulincx, Arnold, 108-9, IX 3

Dodwell, Henry, 286

Gibieuf, 50, 65

Drebbel, 35, 41

Gilbert, 41, 91-92

Du Vair, 98

12-13, 16, 38, 49,

9,

67, 80, 113, 131,

Glanvill, 42

Gomarus, 6 Ebionites, 285

Gouhier, G., 200 n.

Eckhart, 225 Edict of Nantes, 2

Grignan,

Elizabeth

Guymon, Mme, 2

I,

Grotius,

146

Elizabeth, Princess, 50, 98, 159 Enden, van den, 156

English philosophy

at the

end of the

seventeenth century, 283-87 Epictetus, 10, 12, 14, 30, 135

Epicureanism, 12-13 Epicurus, 13, 82 Euclid, 71, 132, 141, 207, 231 Euler, 233

Eusebius of Caesarea, 28

Mme,

219

Hugo,

3, 4,

17

Harrington, James, 5 Harvey, 15, 41, 95 Hatten, van, 189 Hebreo, Leone, 160, 161 n.

Heerebord, Adrien, 108

Henry IV, 46 Herbert of Cherbury,

Hero

4,

Experimental philosophy in England,

Hesiod, 302 Heyberger, Anna, 14 n.

42-43 Experimental proof, 29-40

Hobbes, Thomas,

Fardella,

Ange, 221

Faulhaber, 47 Fede, 220 Fenelon, 118, 190,201 Ferdinand, 155

Ferdinand II, 47 Fermat, 15, 50, 233, 301 Ficino, Marsilio, 112, 114

Florian, P., 16 n.

Fludd, Robert, 25, 32, 38 Fontenelle, Bernard, 219, 300-304 Franciscans, 156

Frederick of Bohemia, 50 Frederick I, 229

Freund, 5

90, 92, 126, 141, 144-45, 237

1, 5,

10, 14-15, 17,

49-50, 66, 141-52, 189, 236, 270-71, 276, 284

Homer, 302 Hooke, 43 Hooker, 146 Huet, Pierre Daniel,

Hume,

1

17-18

42, 116

Huyghens, 50, 83, 93, Hyde, Edward, 142

117,

239

Hyperaspistes, 50

Idols, Bacon's theory of, 32-33 Innate ideas, 255-57, 2 7 I- 74 Innocent X, 7

Inquisition, 11

n.

Galileo, 9-12, 16-17, 24, 35, 48, 53, 84,

13

of Alexandria, 15

James James

I,

21, 146-47

II,

Jansen, 7

268

INDEX

310

Jansenism and Jansenists,

1-2,

6-9,

251-54;

harmony,

pre-established

250-51; theology and monadology,

107-8, 197

246-50

Jansenius, 295 Jaquelot, 118

Lelevel, 220

and

Jesuit Society

Jesuits, 1, 6-7, 14,

46, 49, 107-8, 131, 219, 221,

260

Jesus Christ, 6, 134, 137, 157-58, 160, 203, 261, 292, 303

Lelong, 198 Lenoble, 16 n. Leroy, Andre, 287 n. Leroy, Maxime, 47 n.

Jews, 2, 15, 151, 155, 157

Leuwenhoek, 254

John Frederick, 229

L'Herminier, 297

Josephus, 28

L'Hopital, Marquis de, 219

Jourdain,

C, 9

Liebig, 34

Jupiter, 65

Lignac, Abbe, 221

Jurieu, 3, 292-94, 298

Limborch, Philip van,

157, 158

Lionne, M. de, 198 Lipstorp, Daniel, 108

Kepler, 53, 84, 90

Locke and English Philosophy, 267-

Kodde, Adrian van der, 157 Kodde, Gilbert van der, 157 Kodde, Jan van der, 157 Koyre, A., 11

n.,

225

87 Locke, John,

14-15,

4,

73,

220-21,

229-30, 255, 268; Essay, 271-74; innate ideas, 271-74; life and work,

n.

267-69; political ideas, 269-71; simLachat, 147 n. La Forge, Louis de, 108,

and complex ideas, 274-81; theory of knowledge, 281-83

ple 1

14-15, 197

Lalande, 38 n. Lamy, Bernard, 220

Louis XIV, 228-29

Lamy, Francois, 190, 220 La Mothe le Vayer, 8, 14 Land, non., in n.

Lucretius, 12-13

Laporte,

J.,

Lucifer, 226

Luther, 297

Lutherans and Lutheranism, 227, 261

8 n.

La Rochefoucauld, 1, 9 La Ville (Father Valois), 108

Machiavelli,

Leenhof, van, 189-90

Le Grand, Antoine, 108 Leibniz,

27

Gottfried

Wilhelm,

15-17,

101, 109, 116, 129, 145, 190,

n.,

201, 211, 220, 225-61, 284-86, 294,

301;

doctrine of infinity, 233-36;

ethics,

258-61; existence of bodies,

257-58; freedom and theodicy, 25154; general science, 230-33; individual substance and theology, 240-

46; innate ideas, 255-57;

life

and

works, 225-30; and Locke, 255-57; mechanics and dynamism, 236-39; nature of

life,

254-55;

3, 5, 15,

30

Magnien, Jean, 12 Maimonides, 156 Mainz, Elector of, 228

optimism,

Mairan, 201

218

n.,

Malebranche,

Nicolas,

63, 101, 108,

no,

251, 273, 280;

14-15,

27

n.,

190, 197-219, 225,

human

nature, 204-

and works, 197-98; nature and knowledge, 211-19; occasional causes, 209-n; philosophy and the8;

life

ology, 198-204; seeing

God, 211-19 Malebranchism 219-21 Malpighi, 254

all

things in

and Malebranchists,

3H INDEX and

Manicheans

Manicheism,

191,

Martin,

Occasional causes and occasionalism,

209-11 Oldenburg, 159, 166, 228 Optimism, 251-54

297 Marie Therese, 198 Marranos, 155

Andre (Ambrosius

Victor),

Oratorians, 15, 50, 65, 107-8, 219, 284

Oratory, 47, 197, 199, 200, 219, 220

199

Masham, Lord and Lady, 268

Orpheus, 31

Mattia, Doria, 221

Orphics, 136

Maugain, A., 16 n. Maurice of Nassau, 46 Maury, Alfred, 16 n. Maximilian of Bavaria, 47 Mazarin, 51

Palissy, Bernard, 15

Pan's hunt, 34, 35

Pappus, 54 Paracelsus, 26, 40, 227

Pare, Ambroise, 15

Mennonites, 157 Mercator, 301

Parker, Samuel, 108

Mere, Chevalier de

Mersenne,

16, 16 n.,

Parmenides, 68

129

la,

48-50, 61-63, 93,

Meyer, Louis, 187 n. Middle Ages, 26, 29,

2 37>

65, 94, 146, 156,

301 l of

criticism

apologist,

133-38;

principles,

131-33;

methods, 126-31; wager, 137-38 Patru, 299

160

Pellisson, 261

Milton, 5 Minim Order, 16

Peripateticism and Peripatetics, 56, 59, 72, 81, 107, 109-10, 297

Molesworth, 143 n.

Molinism and Molinists, Monadology, 246-50 Montaigne,

Pascal, Blaise, 51, 92-93, 126-38, 228,

2 34>

141

2,

15, 98,

2, 6,

132,

Perrot d'Ablancourt, 299

295

Peter of Spain, 240 n. 135,

294,

Peter the Great, 229

296 Montesquieu, 220

Pflaum, 161 n.

Montmor, 16

Philo the Jew, 187

More, Henry, 284 Morin, 50, 86

Picot,

Moriniere, Lefort de, 220

Pharisees, 298

Plato,

50 14, 32-33,

66, 72-73, 94,

112,

200, 219, 231, 246, 252, 272

Moses, 151, 155-56, 187

Platonism and Platonists, 65, 1 12-14, 169, 246, 248, 271, 276, 283-84

Nazarenes, 285 Neo-Platonism and Neo-Platonists, 26, 56, 64, 136, 160-61, 165, 173, 241-

Pliny, 26-28, 41

240

n.,

14,

68-69,

II2 >

J 65,

219,

241, 247-48, 254, 284

Poiret, 190-91

42,249

Newton, 42-43,

Plotinus,

88, 93, 126, 220, 229,

2 37> 2 39, 301

Newtonians, 258, 284-85

Polignac, Melchior de, 221

Pomponazzi, 297 Port Royal and Port-Royalists, 220, 260

Nicholas of Cusa, 225 Nicole, 1, 8, 9, 108

Pre-established

Nietzsche, 152

Proclus, 219, 242

Nihusius, 300

Protagoras, 80

harmony, 250-51

7, 14,

INDEX

312

Protestants, 2-4, 17,

no, 147 n.,

151,

Shaftesbury, 286 Shaftesbury, Earl of, 267

261, 292-93, 299

Puritans, 268

Siger of Brabant, 107

Pyrrhonians and Pyrrhonism, 132-33

Simon, Richard, 187 Simple and complex

Pythagoreans, 25, 57

ideas, 274-81

Skeptics, 71-72, 117, 136, 258

Raey, Jean de, 108

Smith, John, 284

Ramus, 54 Rauh, R, 188

Socinianism

and Socinians,

Rawley, 40 Reformation, 4

5-6,

81,

101,

Sophia, Charlotte, 257

Regius, 51, 79, 81 Regis, 108, 1 16-17, 190, 213-14, 218,

Sophists, 33

220 Remonstrants, 6

Spinoza, Baruch, 15, 27

Spedding, 27 n. n.,

145, 155-89, 200, 218, 229-30, 233,