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senses which reveal it to us; he deals not with the essence, but with the facts and their laws; he controls the testimony of the senses without discussing it. He relegates to philosophy all researches into the ultimate reasons of things; let philosophy solve them, if it can. Even chemistry, which in analysis descends to quite the last elements, does not go beyond the study of secondary causes.

In the science of language, the question dear to philosophy is that of origin. Put forward in the time of Democritus, it has been again debated in our days by the theological school of De Maistre and De Bonald. But when linguistics was definitively constituted a special science, this question of origin was laid aside, and though it appears obscure rather than insoluble, it is banished from the positive study of languages. The linguist accepts the existence of various idioms and dialects as a fact; classifies them, traces them, and explains their radiations, but the question of origin he regards as hazardous or at least premature.

The study of economical facts is gaining in importance every day; in France especially, notwithstanding the strong prejudices against it.

The dissent of the economists does not hinder the science from establishing itself, little by little, and destroying the pretended axioms of common sense by solid reasons. But political economy holds by facts, and though it presupposes philosophical principles, it does not discuss them. Locke, in his Essay on Civil Government, did not separate this science from the other methods of being of social life. Boisguillebert gave it a more distinct position ; at length Quesnay and Smith constituted for it an independent domain, and since that time its independence, with respect to metaphysics, has increased daily.

It would be easy to multiply proofs by mentioning other sciences; for instance, to show that biology deals only with manifestations of life, but resolutely sets aside all theories on its nature and origin;-it places them outside scientific knowledgethat biology regards vitalism, animism, organism, etc., merely as ingenious, unverified systems.

It appears still more unfortunate for philosophy, that from the moment at which any science shakes itself free from metaphysical

researches, it immediately begins to make progress. This is exemplified by mathematics, with Archimedes and Euclid; astronomy, with Kepler and Copernicus ; physics, with Galileo, Huyghens, and Newton; chemistry, with Lavoisier; biology, with Bichat and contemporaries; the science of language with Bopp and Max Müller. And yet this is not in reality surprising ; there are very plain reasons for it : in the first place, because the genius which was expended in solving the insoluble and finding the undiscoverable is now devoted only to purely scientific researches; and in the second, because the aim of science is changed; theories are now subordinated to facts, and not facts to theories; systems pass away, but experiences remain.

Thus then, everywhere and always, particular sciences which have a special object are only constituted by leaving a balance of unsolved questions aside at their outset. Exactly speaking, they have no commencement; they come out by chance, as they can; no one knows from whence they come, nor whither they go; but on the other hand, every one knows what they are. To those who judge them as philosophers, their point of departure is ruinous, ill established, not discussed ; but if philosophy condemns, experience absolves them. And even logic does the same, by proving that thus they ought to proceed. Now we can understand under what conditions the particular sciences still adherent to philosophy will be able to render themselves independent of it. They must start from some postulate, from certain rational or experimental truths; they must not stop at questions of principles, and they must leave discussions to philosophy. Morals, for instance, will not seek beyond that which is good in itself. Psychology will not ask what the soul is; it will interdict all excursions into the region of primary causes. This is the absolute condition of their existence as exact sciences capable of progress. Those who have reproached these attempts at emancipation with an absence of foundation, who have said to morals and to psychology : “It is anti-philosophical to endeavour to do without preliminary metaphysics; your commencement is arbitrary ; your data are affirmed, not discussed; you are not fixed upon principles.'--how have they failed to see that this was a logical necessity, and that debates on principles prevent arrival at

consequences? How have they failed to see that their reproaches might as well be directed to geometry, to physics, to chemistry, in short, to all the actually constituted sciences? Will they oppose the gratuitous difficulty that that which is possible for the study of nature is not possible for that of man; that we may do without first principles in investigating matter and its properties, but that we cannot dispense with them when we are concerned with mind and its manifestations ? Not only would this assertion be devoid of facts, but it would be in contradiction to the facts. For, among the number of the sciences which are called moral,that is to say, whose objects are the manifestations of human thought and will, do we not place the science of languages, law, political economy, which interdict as much as possible, and every day more strongly, all metaphysical discussions ?


We can now perceive what philosophy tends to become, and what a transformation the continuous coalition of the sciences must inevitably oblige it to undergo. Universal in its origin, philosophy will in the future be still universal, but in another manner. Formerly, it contained everything-principles and consequences, causes and facts, general truths and results. It now presents the strange spectacle of a science, universal on certain sides, particular on others. At a later date, it will contain only the general speculations of the human mind upon the first principles and the last reasons of all things. It will be metaphysics and nothing more. That which will thus occupy the philosophers, and constitute their own domain, will be that unknown upon

which every science establishes itself, and which it then abandons to their disputes. In that there will still be an eternal source of discussion and research ; and, as they will extend over the whole field of human knowledge, of all sciences which exist, or which shall come into being, philosophy will remain universal. Nor is this all. The progress of particular sciences leads them necessarily to wider and wider generalizations, supported upon facts indeed, but which frequently outrun them—such are the hypotheses which explain so many phenomena, summarize so many laws, have resisted so many verifications, that they are almost demonstrated truths. In these will be other materials for future philosophy. The law of universal attraction, and that of the correlation of forces, enable us to foresee what the sciences may discover by the accumulation of facts, by calculation, and exact methods. Let us suppose some analogous discovery in chemistry. Let us admit that some of its mysteries are stolen from life, and that biology finds its Newton. Let us hope for some generalization in the phenomena of thought, which shall associate them with those of life; that history will, in part at least, yield up its secret to us. Let us add all the great views which we cannot forestal, all that the sciences yet unborn shall reveal to us; can we then believe that method will be wanting to philosophical minds, that is to say, to minds engaged upon the general whole? Let it not be said either that there is a contradiction in maintaining that the progress of the sciences brings them back to philosophy, after its having been stated that it detaches them from it. All science is contradicted by the double action of analysis and synthesis. It arrives at precise, active, verified knowledge, only by constantly descending towards the infinitely little ; it distinguishes, separates, divides, seeks out exceptions and differences. But a heap of well-established facts is not a science; the relations remain to be appreciated, the resemblances to be grouped, the laws to be reached by induction, the whole to be sought out. There must, therefore, be two orders of problems in philosophy, identical at bottom : those from which sciences spring, and those which are their result. Philosophy will be always sounding this double ignorance. The entire collection of human knowledge resembles a great river flowing full between its banks, under a sky glowing with light, but whose source and mouth are unknown, which springs and dies in the clouds. Bold spirits have never been able either to solve this mystery or to forget it. There are always some sufficiently intrepid to throw themselves resolutely into this inaccessible region, whence they return blinded, giddy, and relating such strange things that the world holds them to be hallucinations.

Is philosophy, thus understood, to remain a science? How can it so remain, if everything which is scientifically to be known is taken away from it, if, wherever there are facts to be observed, laws to be sought into, rotations to be calculated, some particular science constitutes a domain of its own, and leaves to philosophy such questions only as it cannot solve? How can there be a science where there is no measure or verification possible ? Metaphysics is a collection of truths outside and above all demonstration, because they are the foundation of all demonstration; it is negatively determined by the collective action of all the sciences, which eliminates everything that outruns them. Besides this, metaphysics is subjective, and science ought to be objective. That which is demonstrated, established, formulated in laws, is invariably acquired independently of time and place. Mathematical truths are the same for the Hindu and the Greek, the Italian and the Englishman. Science does not reflect the genius of a race, it is the work of an impersonal spirit. There is no such thing as French physics as opposed to English physics; that which was true for Galileo is true for Ampère and Faraday. This must be so, since the affirmations of science are capable of verification, since science fashions the human mind after nature, instead of fashioning nature according to the arbitrary conceptions of the human mind. In metaphysics the contrary is the case; the work is personal, it is impressed with the character of an individual, or at least of a race. It is local and ephemeral, for the individual communicates his fragility to his work.

It has been ingeniously said that metaphysicians are poets who have missed their vocation.'1 The more one thinks of it, the more just the saying appears. When philosophy shall have become that which it ought to be, when nothing will remain to it but the general, the abstract, the ideal, then it will be seen clearly by every one to be the work of art rather than of science; to be, to some, tiresome ill-written poetry, while to others it is elevated, powerful, truly divine.

Why should we not already face this truth, which is only paradoxical to those who stop at appearances ? If you are not one of those dull minds which cannot conceive anything above the

1 M. Vacherot, La Métaphysique et la Science, vol. i. p. 5. He disputes this opinion.

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