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We have been especially pleased with the development of the phonetic elements of our language. Very few teachers even seem to be aware of the importance of a knowledge of these elements. If the subject were more heeded there would be less occasion for the sneer of the witty Frenchman, that "the Englishman gains two hours a day over the Frenchman, because he swallows half his words.” We have a great deal of vicious pronunciation and unimpressive elocution that might be saved by a careful study of the force of the sounds of our language.
The great attention given to the derivation of words will be considered by many a great excellence of these volumes. Nearly a hundred pages of the larger work are devoted to this, and we know of no other treatise where, in so small a compass, the same amount of information can be found.
Professor Fowler has all through his works introduced the prominent features of the new philology. Becker's classification, and his analysis of the sentence, which have produced such an entire change in the later grammars of Latin and Greek, are introduced as fully as practicable in elementary works.
After a careful examination of these volumes, we are prepared to say that there is no series of English Grammars so well adapted for instruction. Professor Fowler has placed ns all under great obligation, for we have found much interest in reading his larger work. We often hear the regret expressed that so little attention is given to the study of our own tongue in our colleges and higher seminaries. Surely it cannot be said that it is for want of a suitable text-book. We trust the time will soon come when the thorough and systematic study of our language will be pursued all through the schools, and it will no longer be to the reproach of our colleges that they graduate students who have no conception of the value and resources of their own tongue.
ART. VII.—M'COSH ON THE INTUITIONS. A Reviero of the Intuitions Inductively Investigated. By the
Rev. JAMES M'Cosh, LL.D. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers. 1860.
The importance and difficulty of a thorough and sifting discussion of our primary intuitions can be doubted by no philosophic mind. The looseness of expressions and the crudeness of the views of these germs of systems have contributed to bewilder the deepest thinkers, and to deprive the brightest ages of a complete psychology. Never did the interests of mental science utter a louder demand than at this hour for the proof of the reality of these intuitions, for the analyzation of their characteristics, and for the demonstration of the validity of their objective affirmations. Should this demand be promptly heeded the threatened mischief may be averted; but otherwise, the highest interests of the science will be imperiled. Before the close of the present century the sensationalism of France, or the idealism of Germany, may become the grave of all that is ennobling in psychology. In vain has Christian philosophy looked to the great mind of Hamilton, and to the thorough scholarship of Mansel* for that scientific indemnity against this fatal relapse which it had a right to expect from so high a source. Indeed, these are the minds which have most contributed to accelerate the dreaded result.
* The pantheistic assertion of Schelling, that “God contains in himself all that is actual, evil included," is indorsed by Mansel, who says: “This conclusion we may repudiate with indignation, but the reasoning is unassailable." That this mind of so high an order should yield assent to the validity of this reasoning, which rests entirely on the most arbitrary definition of God, is amazing! The absurdities that lie on the face of this pantheistic transformation of the adorable Jehovah are glaring. As specimens let us observe the following, namely: that a mind which is infinite and perfect must consist in part of what is finite and imperfect; that Omnipotence cannot give being to what was not from eternity in himself; that the recency of our own being, though a fact of universal consciousness, involves an impossibility; that a being who is infinite must be so in all his conceivable forms and relations, in power and weakness, goodness and malignity, in bliss and anguish, in abject dependence, and in supreme independence. Certainly a sifting analysis would have convinced Mr. M. that all these palpable solecisms arise not from the nature of the subject, but from the gratuitous assumptions of his definitions.
The vicious elements which, after the Germans, Mr. Mansel has admitted into his premises, are the germs of all those startling contradictions to which his other-. wise logical reasoning has conducted him.
Our century has been honored with no metaphysical mind so erudite as Sir William's with none on which the impress of original greatness was more profound. Still this literary giant was misguided by the doctrine of Kant on the “conditioned.” Instead of refuting the error of that Teutonic master, he modified it and embraced it. Nor was Kant completely original. He did not originate the idea, but found it in the skeptical theory of Hume, and powerfully developed and applied it. Indeed, in regard to this idea Hume himself claimed no originality, but found it in the philosophy of Locke, who taught that the mind perceives not the relations of objects, but merely the relations of ideas. Like Hume, Kant maintained that we know nothing directly, excepting our own mental states, thus making all relations primarily subjective.
Nor did that singularly acute German mind differ from the skeptical historian in resolving efficient cause into a mental law. Indeed, he developed that doctrine into a far-reaching principle, alleging that whatever appears necessary to us must be given a priori, by the mind itself; must be a law of thought, and not a law of things. It was easy to give this principle a broader application, and thus make time and space mere forms of thought, denying to them the least shadow of external reality. This principle excluded all contents from our intuitions excepting mere relations. Substance and cause were regarded as forms in which the understanding produces conceptions. This substitution of the laws of conception for the laws of nature shut out from universal mind all objective reality; it left no room for our own personality, for the universe, or for God.
When against this conclusion objective reality was asserted, the series of judgments were found to involve contradictory results. Hence Kant's antinomies, or four contradictions. The first regards the beginning of the world, the second the simplicity of its parts, the third causal efficiency, the fourth the first INFINITE CAUSE. That he should find all these sustained by evidence equally demonstrative to that which proves their opposites, is indeed startling. Mind is not constructed to repose in these fiercely conflict propositions which regard the most vital subjects of human thought. Of the several modes in which solution has been sought, the only tenable one is the utter denial that reason ever affirmed such contradictions, that they arise solely from the falsity of the system which adopts them.
Instead of exposing and vanquishing this fallacy forever, what has Hamilton done with it? He has conceded the premises and strangely sought to mitigate the gloom involved in the conclusion by referring the contradiction to the mind's imbecility, and not to its falsity. But this admission of the contradiction is a blow at the very root of thought.
Nor is Mansel less dangerous in adopting the principle which is exclusive of efficient cause, (pp. 47–53.) His statement “ that the cause cannot as such be absolute, and that the absolute as such cannot be a cause, includes in its fatal grasp all for which the pantheist Spinoza would contend. Though the position of the French school was directly opposite to this, it was no less subversive of fundamental truth. It was this: “The infinite is a necessary and eternal cause—a cause which must pass into action." Thus while Mansel and the school of Spinoza make creation involve a contradiction, and thereby precluded its possibility, Cousin made that work an eternal necessity, and thereby placed the Divine omnipotence under a power above itself.
These perversions of first principles are mere specimens of those with which our century has abounded. The demand is therefore imperative for a sifting discussion of our primary convictions.
The author we review has aimed at supplying this desideratum; how he has achieved his object we now proceed to disclose to the reader.
Dr. M'Cosh exhibits our intuitions in the opposite characters of both the clearest and the darkest of the mind's objects. In the unborrowed light which flashes on intuitive objects they are clear as vision; but when the mind's eye turns itself back to investigate them in reflex light, they are mantled in the shades of dimmest twilight. The unerring certainty inseparable from these first apprehensions makes them the solid foundation of all our knowledge. It is only at some remove from them that apparent truth may be distrusted. But our author has shown that though these intuitive objects shine in the light of their own evidence, too clear to be increased, and too strong to be vanquished, yet are they utterly inexplicable. If they yield to analysis and require induction, it cannot be in their simple state, but after they are classified. Had this distinction never escaped Dr. Reid, he would never have asserted “that there are principles in the constitution of the mind, and that they come forth in general propositions."
That the intuitive faculty appertains to the mind, no clearer proof can exist than our knowledge of the objects it apprehends. As another faculty could no more reveal these objects than a microscope or telescope could disclose colors to the blind, the fact of their being known is the proof of the intuitive faculty. The simplicity of the objects apprehended by intuition is a bar against their resolution into simpler elements, and equally so against referring them to higher principles from which they might be supposed to have derived their authority. But though these objects are never complex, they are ever concrete. In seeking simplicity in the complex, we must continue our regression till we return to that which has its evidence in itself, and the same law which forbids our stopping short of that point prohibits the slightest assurance beyond it. It is otherwise with the concrete. This is always united in nature but separable in thought; that is, it is ever perceived by a single intuitive glance, but is separable by a reflex mental act. Thus we cannot perceive what is not self without a co-existing knowledge of self, while we affirm of self which perceives that it is not the thing perceived. We perceive moral excellence, and then think it apart from all mere pleasure. We perceive the pain of guilt, but are never in danger of identifying it with physical pain. This separation in thought of what is apprehended together, is based on the concrete nature of our primary apprehensions.
The complex is the union of elements separately perceptible, and susceptible of reduction to simplicity by analysis. It is then obtrusively plain that by confounding the concrete with the complex, the utmost confusion must ensue; the former being the simple objects of primary apprehension, and the latter a combination of these objects by a reflex mental act.
Our author (in language our space permits is not to copy) has sent back a piercing glance at Greek psychologists, comparing their views of intụitions with those of modern cultiva.