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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Hence we must seek another way of knowing the supersensible


(1.)

Spinozism is atheism, because, according to it, the cause of the world is no person--is no being working for an end, and endowed with reason and will--and hence is no God. It is fatalism, for, according to it, the human will regards itself only falsely as free.

(2.) This atheism and fatalism is, however, only the necessary consequence of all strictly demonstrative philosophizing. To conceive a thing, says Jacobi, is to refer a thing to its nearest cause; it is to find a possible for an actual, the condition for a conditioned, the mediation for an immediate. We conceive only that which we can explain out of another. Hence our conceiving moves in a chain of conditioned conditions, and this connection forms a mechanism of nature, in whose investigation our understanding has its immeasurable field. However far we may carry conception and demonstration, we must hold, in reference to every object, to a still higher one which conditions it; where this chain of the conditioned ceases, there do conception and demonstration also cease; till we give up demonstrating we can reach no infinite. If philosophy determines to apprehend the infinite with the finite understanding, then must it bring down the divine to the finite; and here is where every preceding philosophy has been entangled, while it is obviously an absurd undertaking to attempt to discover the conditions of the unconditioned, and make the absolutely necessary a possible, in order that we may

be able to construct it. A God who could be proved is no God, for the ground of proof is ever above that which is to be proved; the latter has its whole reality from the former. If the existence of God should be proved, then God would be derived from a ground which were before and above him. Hence the paradox of Jacobi; it is for the interest of science that there be no God, no supernatural and no extra or supramundane being. Only upon the condition that nature alone is, and is therefore independent and all in all, can science hope to gain its goal of perfection, and become, like its object itself, all in all. Hence the result which Jacobi derives from the "Drama of the history of philosophy" is this:--"There is no other philosophy than that of Spinoza. He who considers all the works and acts of men to be the effect of natural mechanism, and who believes that intelligence is but an accompanying consciousness, which has only to act the part of a looker-on, cannot be contended with and cannot be helped till we set him free from his philosophy. No philosophical conclusion can reach him, for what he denies cannot be philosophically proved, and what he proves cannot be philosophically denied." Whence then is help to come? "The understanding, taken by itself, is materialistic and irrational; it denies spirit and God. The reason taken by itself is idealistic, and has nothing to do with the understanding; it denies nature and makes itself God."

(3.) Hence we must seek another way of knowing the supersensible, which is faith. Jacobi calls this flight from cognition through conception to faith, the _salto mortale_ of the human reason. Every certainty through a conception demands another certainty, but in faith we are led to an immediate certainty which needs no ground nor proof, and which is in fact absolutely exclusive of all proof. Such a confidence which does not arise from arguments, is called faith. We know the sensible as well as the supersensible only through faith. All human knowledge springs from revelation and faith.


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