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A crucial difficulty in material pantheism is this. If the great Substance is constrained by law, that law must be impressed on it from without, or it must have bound itself. If impressed on it, then there is a power above substance: If it bound itself by law, then it is intelligent, and free to will.
The third hypothesis is dualistic. God and matter are both eternal and uncreate. Matter does not emanate from God, nor is God immaneni in matter. There are two principles—a primordial substance and a supreme force. The primal matter, the “mother of that which is to be," is imperceptible by the senses; it receives its determination, motion, and limits from the Idea, which is active force, or God. This first substance, transferred into a state of motion by the impress of force, swayed into order, and surged into shape. Without the idea, substance is barren, but influenced by force it fructifies into palpable being. Thus the world is organized by the Deity out of pre-existing material, as a sculptor forms a statue out of a block of marble.
God and substance are juxtaposed, and by virtue of that juxtaposition, in a purely mechanical fashion, the organized world is produced. God, the idea of the objective world, is the cause of the form, or mode, of the visible and finite, but not of its existence. Thus the universe is made, not created. From God it derives its plan and harmony; through matter it partakes of the contingent and evil. Thus spirit and matter are in a sense opposite poles; and, as spirit and matter co-exist in the phenomenal world, in nature co-exists good and evil
The fourth hypothesis is that of the Pyrrhonic idealist.
Des Cartes and all philosophers who followed him saw that the existence of the objects of sense is by no means self-evident, and that the reality of our perceptions demands proof. This had been perceived long before by Pyrrho of Elis and the new sceptics; and they had denied the possibility of attainment to objective truth. It was afterwards adopted by Bishop Berkeley, with modifications of his own.
According to the idealistic theory, there is no matter; sun, moon, and stars, earth and sea, our own bodies, and those of our friends, are nothing but ideas passing through our minds, and they have no objective reality and existence. Substance, accident, and extension are modes of thought, not properties of matter. Consequently, the only world that exists is that of ideas; the only existences are minds and thoughts.
But how are ideas impressed on the mind ? Stilpo of Megara, who disallowed the objective validity of generic conceptions (rà ciòn) and the truth of those judgments which are not identical, regarded them as clouds obscuring the mind, probably as arising from a dissolution of the mental unity, and therefore of disorder, and he made the character of a wise man to consist in apathy or impassibility. But Berkeley argued differently. As spirit is the only existence, man can perceive nothing but his feelings and representations! but as he certainly is not the cause of these, it is no less certain from their multiplicity and variety, as well as from their harmony and consistency, that they are communicated by a spirit, and by a spirit of infinite perfections—God.
The fifth hypothesis is that of the Hegelian idealist. What we call the laws of nature are more pro
perly the fornis of our intelligence applied by us to phenomena.
Thought and being are one: nature is thought objected. The object and the subject are one, and this oneness is the absolute science to which the mind rises as to its absolute truth, and the truth is grasped that pure Esse is pure conception in itself; and that pure conception alone is true Esse. Thought bears this relation to reality, that the real is that which alone is rational, and the rational is that which alone is real. Consequently, being and thinking, existence and consciousness, are really identical. The idea is the basis of philosophy. The idea has three elements, conditions, or moments. It is and is not at one and the same time, because it becomes. This contradiction is the basis of its being; it is the fulcrum of a lever, of which one pole is force, the other not-force. It exists in and for itself, having two moments equally opposed, the idea in itself, and the idea out of itself. Consciousness existing in the soul is thrown into contact with the not-I, and the idea elicited by the contact is thought.
Contradiction is the basis of being; for the idea is the synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis. Every idea encloses a contradiction, and this contradiction not only exists in things, but constitutes them.
The extreme of heat and the extreme of cold are opposed poles and equivalents. Perception lies between them. Objects equally illumined can no longer be distinguished, and this uniform day is precisely equivalent to night. Thus light implies its contradictory, obscurity; not only does it suppose its opposite, but it engenders it, and whilst producing it, it realizes itself, and the product is effective light.
The idea is the synthesis of truth, goodness, beauty,
which are the thesis, and of falsehood, evil, and the ugly, which are the antithesis. Its nature consists in the conciliation of antinomies. All our ideas are quantitative; they have consequently opposite extremes, betwixt which exists a point which conciliates them. The absolute is the non-difference of differends, the identity of the being and the not being. This identity is only conceivable as the becoming, the middle point between them.
Consequently, the absolute becomes. The filiation of ideas of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis is a process. The development of the idea is the unrolling of a series of pro
The idea exteriorizes itself, continually objecting itself, and thus enters into the antithetical moment; it ceases to be ousia, and passes to heterousia. The being of the idea is as yet undetermined and unparticularized in distinct forms. The emergence of particularities becomes the essence or truth of being, synthesizing the idea in itself for the idea out of itself.
Nothing exists that is not object of thought. Thought alone gives beings their value, nay, their material reality.
If we suppose an intelligence higher than that of man, the idea of that intelligence will be more perfect and its world more perfect than man's ideal world. Thus, as every one sees his own rainbow, so does every man live in his own world. Law in nature is due to the conception in the mind of the idea of law governing nature. Nature is the assemblage of laws projected from the idea in itself, which for itself are materialized. God, then, like the world, is a creation of thought, for the mind is absolute, and the mind is God.
Such I believe to be a fair précis of the doctrines of Hegelian idealism; but, in following the thoughts of modern German philosophers, the difficulty of arresting
them and reducing them to a clear and easily intelligible system is extreme; the moment one fancies that a thought is assuming precision and outline, it throws out a cloud of ink, like the sepia, and leaves the pursuer bewildered and in the dark
The sixth hypothesis is that the world is created, but created by an arbitrary God, indifferent to His work, and to whom it was a matter of indifference whether He created or did not create.
This hypothesis is not pantheistic. It disengages God from matter, and is truly theistic. It shall, however, be considered in this place, that the reader may have a synopsis of the various theories by which the existence of the world has been accounted for.
God is distinct from the universe. He is a complete and self-sufficing Being, autonomic and free. His will is law. He is bound by no necessity, and is therefore absolute master of His actions. The foundation of His activity is not to be sought in the perfection of His nature, but in His will. Truth and right are only true and right because He chooses them so to be. The three angles of a triangle are not equal to two right angles because this is a necessary truth, but because God has decided that so it shall be.
Creation is thus an act of God's free will, without necessary foundation in His essence.
So also, the conservation of the world is only a continuous co-operation of the eternal will with the creative will, This concursus depends wholly on God's arbitrary choice; it can be suspended at any moment, and then the universe drops into annihilation.
In what light is this world, so created, to be regarded ? As long as we were engaged with material and ideal