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ing to the general reader would be the article on Cousin, although that on the Philosophy of Perception displays to greater advantage his immense stores of metaphysical learning and his intensity of thought. None of his articles have ever been answered. Indeed, on logical principles, they are probably unanswerable. The disquisition on Cousin, which comprehends not only a review of his philosophy, but a consideration of the whole ground of Rationalism, and a course of argument directed against all philosophical theories of the Infinite, is admirably calculated for the present state of speculation in this country, however unpalatable may be its doctrines. He takes the position, that our knowledge is restricted within the domain of the finite, - that we have no immediate knowledge of things, but only of their phenomena,
and that, in every attempt to fix the absolute as a positive in knowledge, “the absolute, like the water in the sieves of the Danaides, has always hitherto run through as a negative into the abyss of nothing." As a specimen of the style, we extract his statement of the opinions " which may be entertained regarding the unconditioned as an immediate object of knowledge and thought.”
“ These opinions may be reduced to four:- 1. The unconditioned is incognizable and inconceivable; its notion being only negative of the conditioned, which last can alone be positively known or conceived. 2. It is not an object of knowledge; but its notion, as a regulative principle of the mind itself, is more than a mere negation of the conditioned. 3. It is cognizable, but not conceivable ; it can be known by sinking back into identity with the absolute, but is incomprehensible by consciousness and reflection, which are only of the relative and the different. 4. It is cognizable and conceivable by consciousness and reflection, under relation, difference, and plurality.
" The first of these opinions we regard as true; the second is held by Kant; the third by Schelling; and the last by our author.
“1. In our opinion, the mind can conceive, and consequently can know, only the limited and the conditionally limited. The unconditionally unlimited, or the infinite, the unconditionally limited, or the absolute, cannot positively be construed to the mind; they can be conceived at all only by a thinking away, or abstraction, of those very conditions under which thought itself is realized ; consequently the notion of the unconditioned is only negative, - negative of the conceivable itself. For example, on the one hand, we can positively conceive neither an absolute whole, that is, a whole so great that we cannot also conceive it as a relative part of a still greater whole; nor an absolute part, that is, a part so small that we cannot also conceive it as a relative whole, divisible into smaller parts. On the other hand, we cannot positively represent to the mind an infinite whole, for this could only be done by the infinite synthesis in thought of finite wholes, which would itself require an infinite time for its accomplishment; nor, for the same reason, can we follow out in thought an infinite divisibility of parts. The result is the same, whether we apply the process to limitation in space, in time, or in degree. The unconditional affirm. ation of limitation – in other words, the infinite and the absolute, properly so called * - are thus equally inconceivable to us.
“ As the conditionally limited (which we may briefly call the conditioned) is thus the only object of knowledge and of positive thought, thought necessarily supposes conditions; to think is therefore to condition, and conditional limitation is the fundamental law of the possibility of thought. How, indeed, it could ever be doubted that thought is only of the conditioned, may well be deemed a matter of the profoundest admiration. Thought cannot transcend consciousness; consciousness is only possible under the antithesis of a subject and object of thought, known only in correlation and mutually limiting each other; while, independently of this, all we know either of subject or object, either mind or matter, is only a knowledge in each of the particular, of the different, of the modified, of the phenomenal. We admit that the consequence of this doctrine is, that philosophy, if viewed as more than a science of the conditioned, is impossible. Departing from the particular, we admit that we can never, in our highest generalization, rise above the finite; that our knowledge, whether of mind or matter, can be nothing more than a knowledge of the relative manifestations of an existence which, in itself, it is our highest wisdom to recognize as beyond the reach of philosophy : - Cognoscendo ignorari, et ignorando cognosci.”
* “It is proper to observe, that though we are of opinion that the terms Infinite and Absolute, and Unconditioned, ought not to be confounded, and accurately distinguish them in the statement of our own view ; yet, in speaking of the doctrines of those by whom they are indifferently employed, we have not thought it necessary, or rather we have found it impossible, to adhere to the distinction."
A collection of Sir William Hamilton's articles, as far as they are generally known, might easily be contained in a moderately sized volume, and we trust it will soon be made. Such a book could not fail to be successful, even in the publisher's notion of that word; and it would farniliarize the minds of our students with far more rigorous habits of thinking and investigation than are now in vogue. Three or four of the ablest of these papers have already been translated into French, and published in a single volume at Paris.
William Gifford, the editor of the Quarterly Review, seems to have united in himself all the bad qualities of the criticism of his time. He was fierce, dogmatic, bigoted, libellous, and unsympathizing. Whatever may have been his talents, they were exquisitely unfitted for his position - his literary judgments being contemptible, where any sense of beauty was required, and principally distinguished for malice and word-picking. The bitter and snarling spirit with which he commented on the
excellence he could not appreciate ; the extreme narrowness and shallowness of his taste; the labored blackguardism in which he was wont to indulge, under the impression that it was satire; his detestable habit of carrying his political hatreds into literary criticism; his gross personal attacks on Hunt, Hazlitt, and others who might happen to profess less illiberal principles than his own; made him a dangerous and disagreeable adversary, and one of the worst critics of modern times. Through his position as the editor of an influential journal, his enmity acquired an importance due neither to his talents nor his character. His notoriety was coëxtensive with his malignity ; his fame consisted in having the power to wound better men than himself; and consequently, from being a terror and a scourge, he has now passed into oblivion, or is only occasionally rescued from it to be an object of wondering contempt. As far as his influence in the management of the review extended, it was employed to serve the meanest and dirtiest ends of his party, and the exploded principles of a past literary taste; and it was owing to no fault of his, that the journal did not become a synonyme of malignant dulness and ferocious illiberality, and feed to the full the vulgar appetite for defamation. Nothing but the occasional contributions of eminent writers and scholars prevented it from sinking to the dead level of his intellect and prejudices. The blindness which partisan warfare produces, even in men of education and courtesy, could alone have permitted the organ of a great party to be under the management of this critical Ketch, this political Quilp. His acumen was shown in his profound appreciation of works which died as soon as puffed, and in his insensibility to those whose fame was destined to begin with his oblivion; and his statesmanship, in the low abuse of individuals, in a resolute defence of the rotten parts of toryism, and in assiduous libels on foreign countries. It is to him, we presume, that we are indebted for the lies and blunders about the United States for which the Quarterly was once distinguished.
To Gifford for a time belonged the equivocal fame of killing John Keats; but we are glad that a disclosure of the facts has lately robbed him of this laurel of slander. It is quite a satisfaction to know, that even the tenderest and most sensitive of poets was beyond the reach of his envenomed arrows. Shelley, in a monody on the death of Keats, - then supposed to have been accelerated by the brutal article in the Quarterly, - has, in a strain of invective hot from his heart, fixed a brand on Gifford's brow, which may keep it above the waters of oblivion for some years to come.
“Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame!
Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow,
- as now.
“Nor let us weep that our delight is filed
Through time and change, unquenchably the same,