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a book on the government, manners, laws, customs, peculiarities, and morals of the people. Mr Hodgson travelled over an extent of seven thousand miles, and was always in motion, and yet he undertakes to classify and characterize all the inhabitants of this immense region. The consequence is, that he is wise without knowledge; he makes distinctions where none exist, and talks too much of trifles. He is credulous, and loves to tell of strange things, and repeats the idlest tales with an air of faith and seriousness. The value of the real information, which he gives, is much diminished by his want of discrimination, and by his propensity to think all people as honest and well meaning as himself. book is creditable to his heart and his principles; we should be glad if as much could be said of his discretion and judgment.
Art. XIII.-Histoire comparée des Systèmes de Philosophie,
considérés relativement aux Principes des Connaissances humaines. Par M. DE GERANDO, Membre de l'Institut de France. Deuxième Edition, revue, corrigée, et aug. mentée. 4 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1822. The History of Philosophy is an entire blank in English literature, excepting always the elegant dissertations by Mr Stewart in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia. These, however, treat exclusively of the three last centuries, and of that period in a very summary way. They are rather fitted to make us feel the want of a more complete work on the same subject, than to supply it. The abridgment of Brucker by Enfield, though valuable to the mere English reader for the information contained in it, does not possess the character of an original treatise; and one or two imperfect essays of an earlier date are now forgotten. We are told by Mr Stewart, in his life of Adam Smith, that this eminent philosopher had conceived the design of writing a full history of the intellectual and moral sciences, which he had cultivated with so much success, and that he had in part prepared the materials. It can never be sufficiently regretted, that he did not carry his intention into effect, or that the knowledge of it had not moved his biographer, in the vigor of life, to undertake the same task upon the same scale.
The literature of France was, in this particular, nearly as ill furnished as our own, until the appearance, in 1804, of the great work of the Baron de Gerando, the second edition of which is now going through the press. This work consists of three divisions. The first treats of the period anterior to the revival of learning; and the second of the three last centuries. In the third, the author reviews the whole subject, and states the conclusions to which he is led by this survey. The first of these divisions is the work, which we now propose to notice ; the republication of the second and third being not yet completed. We may, probably, take some future occasion to invite the attention of our readers to the other parts of this valuable treatise.
The reputation of Monsieur de Gerando stands high with the public, in consequence of the commendations, which Mr Stewart has repeatedly bestowed upon him, in almost all his works. In France he is regarded, by general consent, as the first metaphysician of the day; and even in Germany, where the intellectual and moral sciences have been more diligently cultivated of late, than in any other part of Europe, and where the learned in this department are apt to undervalue, in some degree, the productions of foreigners, the merit of M. de Gerando has been felt and acknowledged. His book has been translated into the language of that country, and accompanied with a careful commentary by Professor Tenneman, himself the author of one of the best works on the same subject. If, however, our author has gained the approbation of his neighbors beyond the Rhine, it has not been by adopting their peculiar modes of thinking, and still less of expressing their thoughts. His style is uncommonly perspicuous and elegant; and his opinions are in general nearly the same with those of the Edinburgh school. He has imitated the Germans only in the unwearied industry, with which he recurs to the original writers, however difficult and barren of attraction, instead of resting satisfied with the compilations and extracts of modern commentators. His position, in the neighborhood of the King's library at Paris, has given him the greatest possible advantages for this purpose ; and he seems to have improved them to the utmost. He not only follows the great masters of antiquity to the
charming retreats of the Porch and the Academy, a labor that rewards itself by the pleasure which accompanies it; not only penetrates, with fearless and scrupulous fidelity, the 'palpable obscure' of Kant and Aristotle, but makes it a matter of conscience to investigate the ecstatic mysteries of the new Platonists, and to dwell in the monasteries of the middle ages, with Albert the Great, and Duns the Scotchman. We consider this exemplary care in consulting the originals, as a merit of a very high order ; and it gives to the researches of M. de Gerando a solid and lasting value, independent of the correctness of his own private opinions.
This gentleman has devoted himself, from his youth upward, to the cause of philosophy; and, besides the work before us, has published several others of great value on different branches of intellectual science. He is still living in the full vigor of his faculties, and actively occupied with his favorite studies, and with the discharge of various official functions of the most respectable character. It may be remarked, as an additional recommendation of his writings, that their moral tendency is entirely different from that of the productions of the French philosophers of the preceding generation. Without giving at all into the extravagance and mysticism, which, by a natural reaction, are too apt to grow up after the temporary prevalence of sensual doctrines, and of which we see many symptoms in all parts of the Christian world at the present day, he has nevertheless adopted a generous and elevated notion of the nature and destiny of
His writings are warmed with a genial glow of good feeling, and exhibit a firm though temperate attachment to the cause of rational liberty. They breathe the mild spirit of toleration and charity ; and we rise from perusing them with a conviction, that their author is not only a just and powerful thinker, but, what is still better, a most amiable and virtuous man. It is with us a matter not only of regret, but of some surprise, that books of so much real value, and at the same time of so popular a character, considering their subjects, should not yet have found a translator, either with us, or in England, while the presses of both countries are constantly teeming with republications, and translations of French productions, of a wholly worthless and ephemeral class. The invention of printing, by giving popularity to learning, will accelerate its decline, as much as it has done its progress, if those persons, who make it their profession to direct the public taste to proper objects, neglect their noble office, and basely pander to the vilest passions and most frivolous caprices of the multitude.
The work before us, although it has done much to supply the deficiency in French literature of a good history of philosophy, does not, however, profess to give a complete account of the origin and progress of intellectual and moral science. The author has been led, by taste and habit, to direct his attention principally to that branch of the general inquiry, which considers the sources and certainty of knowledge. He has treated this subject in a separate work, and Mr Stewart has also examined it in one of his essays. This question is obviously the first in order ; since, before we take the trouble of exploring our intellectual domain, it is obviously necessary that we should review the titles by which we hold it, and ascertain whether it is really our own.
I found,' says our author, in studying the various systems of philosophy, that there is one preliminary question upon which the whole discussion seems to turn ; to wit, the origin of knowledge. To determine the real nature of the relation between the mind and the objects of which it takes cognizance, and to ascertain upon what principles it draws conclusions respecting them, and how far those conclusions may be depended on, must be the first objects of attention with every philosopher. This inquiry constitutes, in my opinion, the true first philosophy of Descartes and Bacon, and contains within itself the essence and the elements of every other. It is obvious, that before we can decide the questions respecting the three great objects of all philosophy, God, Man, and the Universe, we must first examine by virtue of what title, we decide upon any thing.'
This question is not only the first in the natural order of the inquiry ; but the decision of it regulates, in a great measure, the character of our conclusions upon the vast subjects mentioned above.
• The ideas, that we form upon the sources and certainty of knowledge, determine us in the choice of the methods by which we examine other subjects. The methods we choose fix the course of our ideas, and conduct us inevitably to one or another of certain opinions. Materialism on the one hand, and Idealism on the other, are the two extreme points towards which we tend, as we
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attach a greater or less degree of importance to sensible, or abstract notions; and hence our views on the comparative importance of these classes of notions, or, in other words, on the sources and certainty of knowledge, will probably determine the point at which we fix ourselves between the opposite systems.'
The author's general plan is, therefore, to recapitulate the opinions of the most eminent philosophers of ancient and modern times on the sources and certainty of knowledge ; and to notice their views on other kindred subjects, as far as they appear to have been determined by the theory adopted respecting this. Hence the work is not properly, as the author himself observes, a history, of philosophy, that is, of intellectual and moral science in general, but an introduction to such a history, or an account of that particular branch of the science, which stands at the threshold, and ought to be examined before we attempt to enter on the study of the rest. It serves, however, to a certain degree, as a substitute for a more complete treatise, since the progress of all the other branches of philosophy is, to a greater or less degree, brought under review in connexion with the principal inquiry. It may perhaps be doubted, whether this question, although the first in order, and even in importance, considering it as a necessary introduction to all the others, is precisely the most suitable to be made the rallying point in a work of this kind. Whether we are sure of the existence of anything, ourselves included, may be, as D'Alembert calls it, a terrible question, * for those who choose to consider it so, and is certainly preliminary in order to any other. But this question, which involves the whole inquiry respecting the sources and certainty of knowledge, does not admit, when rationally treated, of much discussion; and the history of the various strange and wild speculations, into which philosophers have been led by it, is a record of human folly in one of its various forms. Hence, if this be made the leading topic in a general history of philosophy, the attention of the reader is principally directed to one of the least valuable and interesting portions of the subject. The writer, if he is true to his plan, will be obliged to dwell at greater length, and with more care,
* Y a-t-il quelque chose ? C'est une terrible question, à laquelle on n'a pas assez pensé. Letter to Frederic.