Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
426
CARTHAGE


contact with the idea of God, all ideas become true and adequate, by the removal of the negative or false element in them. The idea of God is, as it were, the touchstone which distinguishes the gold from the dross. It enables us to detect the higher spiritual element in the natural passions, and to sever the element belonging to that pure love of self which is identical with the love of perfection from the elements belonging to that impure love of our own finite individuality as such which is identical with the love of evil.

The imperfection in Spinoza’s development of this principle has already been indicated. It is in fact the same imperfection which runs through his whole system. Just as he supposed that the ideas of finite things were at once made consistent Implicit difficulties. with the idea of the infinite when he had named them modes, so here his conception of the change through which selfish natural desire must pass in order to become spiritual is far too superficial and external. Hence he has no sympathy with asceticism, but treats it, like Bentham, as a torva el tristis superstitio. Joy is the “transition from less to greater perfection,” and cannot be but good; pain is the “transition from greater to less perfection,” and cannot be but evil. The revolt against the medieval opposition of the nature and spirit is visible in many of his sayings. “No Deity who is not envious can delight in my weakness or hurts, or can regard as virtues those fears and sighs and tears which are the signs of the mind’s weakness; but contrariwise, the greater is our joy, the greater is our progress to perfection, and our participation in the divine nature.”[1] “A free man thinks of nothing less than death, his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.”[2] The same idea, combining with the idea of necessity, leads him to condemn repentance and pity, as well as pride and humility. Unconsciously, Spinoza reproduces the principle of asceticism, while in words he utterly rejects it. For though he tells us that pure self-complacency is the highest thing we can hope, yet from this self-complacency all regard to the finite individuality of the subject is eliminated. “Qui Deum amat, conari non potest ut Deus ipsum contra amet.” In like manner, he absolutely condemns all hatred, envy, rivalry and ambition, as springing out of an over-estimate of those finite things which one only can possess, while the highest good is that which is enjoyed the more easily and fully the greater the number of participants. Yet Spinoza’s exaltation of the social life, and of the love that binds it together, is too like the Buddhist’s universal charity that embraces all creatures, and all creatures equally. Both are based on an abstraction from all that is individual, only the Buddhist’s abstraction goes a step further, and erases even the distinction between man and the animals. Spinoza felt the pressure of this all-levelling logic when he said, “I confess I cannot understand how spirits express God more than the other creatures, for I know that between the finite and the infinite there is no proportion, and that the distinction between God and the most excellent of created things differs not a whit from the distinction between him and the lowest and meanest of them.”[3] As Pope said, God is “as full and perfect in a hair as a heart”; in all finite things there is a ray of divinity, and in nothing more than a ray. Yet in another epistle Spinoza contradicts this view, and declares that, while he does not consider it necessary to “know Christ after the flesh, he does think it is necessary to know the eternal Son of God, i.e. God’s eternal wisdom, which is manifested in all things, but chiefly in the mind of man, and most of all in Christ Jesus.”[4] In the Ethics the distinction of man and the animals is treated as an absolute distinction, and it is asserted with doubtful consistency that the human soul cannot all be destroyed along with the body, for that there is something of it which is eternal. Yet from this eternity we must, of course, eliminate all notion of the consciousness of the finite self as such. At this point, in short, the two opposite streams of Spinoza’s thought, the positive method he intends to pursue, and the negative or abstracting method he really does pursue, meet in irreconcilable contradiction. The finite must be related to the infinite so as to preserve all that is in it of reality; and therefore its limit or the negative element in it must be abstracted from. But it turns out that, with this abstraction from a negative element involved in the existence of the finite, the positive also disappears, and God is all in all in a sense that absolutely excludes the existence of the finite. “The mind’s intellectual love of God,” says Spinoza, “is the very love wherewith God loves himself, not in so far as he is infinite, but in so far as he can be expressed by the essence of the human mind, considered under the form of eternity; i.e. the mind’s intellectual love of God is part of the infinite love wherewith God loves himself.”[5] This double “in so far,” which returns so frequently in Spinoza, just conceals for a moment the contradiction of two streams of thought, one of which must be swallowed up by the other, if they are once allowed to meet.

We have now reviewed the main points of the system, which was the ultimate result of the principles of Descartes. The importance of this first movement of modern philosophy lies in its assertion and exhibition of the unity of the intelligible world with itself and with the mind of man. In this point of view, it was the philosophical counterpart of Protestantism; but, like Protestantism in its earliest phase, it passed rapidly General importance of the Cartesian school. from the doctrine that God is, without priest or authority, present to man’s spirit, to the doctrine that man’s spirit is as nothing before God. The object was too powerful for the subject, who effaced himself before God that he might be strong towards men. But in this natural movement of feeling and thought it was forgotten that God who effaced the world and the finite spirit by his presence could not be a living God. Spinoza gives the ultimate expression to this tendency, and at the same time marks its limit, when he says that whatever reality is in the finite is of the infinite. But he is unsuccessful in showing that, on the principles on which he starts, there can be any reality in the finite at all. Yet even if the finite be an illusion, still more if it be better than an illusion, it requires to be accounted for. Spinoza accounts for it neither as illusory nor as real. It was reserved for the following generation of philosophers to assert, in different ways, the reality of the finite, the value of experience and the futility of abstractions. Spinoza had declared that true knowledge consists in seeing things under the form of eternity, but it is impossible that things can be seen under the form of eternity unless they have been first seen under the form of time. The one-sided assertion of individuality and difference in the schools of Locke and Leibnitz was the natural complement of the one-sided assertion of universality and unity in the Cartesian school. But when the individualistic tendency of the 18th century had exhausted itself, and produced its own refutation in the works of Kant, it was inevitable that the minds of men should again turn to the great philosopher, who, with almost perfect insight working through imperfect logic, first formulated the idea of a unity presupposed in and transcending the difference of matter and mind, subject and object.

See the Histories of Philosophy, especially those by Hegel, Feuerbach, Erdmann and Fischer; F. Bouillier, Histoire de la philosophie cartésienne (1854); Ollé-Laprune, Philosophie de Malebranche; E. Saisset, Précurseurs et disciples de Descartes (1862). The German treatises on Spinoza are too numerous to mention. Jacobi’s Letters on Spinoza, which were the beginning of a true interpretation of his philosophy, are still worth reading. We may also mention C. Schaarschmidt, Descartes und Spinoza (1850); C. Sigwart, Spinozas neuentdeckter Tractat von Gott, dem Menschen, und dessen Glückseligkeit (1866). Both these writers have published German translations of the Tractatus de Deo. See also Trendelenburg, Historische Beiträge zur Philosophie (1867); R. Avenarius, Über die beiden ersten Phasen des spinozischen Pantheismus (1868); M. Joël, Zur Genesis der Lehre Spinozas (1871); R. Willis, Benedict de Spinoza: his Ethics, Life and Influence on Modern Religious Thought (1870); F. Pollock, Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy (1880); J. Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory (1885); J. Caird, Spinoza (in Blackwood’s Philosophical Series); H. H. Joachim, A Study of the Ethics of Spinoza (1901); R. Adamson, The Development of Modern Philosophy (1903); also articles Descartes, Malebranche, and Spinoza.  (E. C.) 

CARTHAGE (Phoenician Kart-hadshat, “New City”; Gr. Καρχηδών, Lat. Carthago or Carchedon), one of the most famous cities of antiquity, on the north coast of Africa; it was founded about 822 B.C. by the Phoenicians, destroyed for the first time by the Romans in 146 B.C., rebuilt by the Romans, and finally destroyed by the Arabs in A.D. 698. It was situated in the heart of the Sinus Uticensis (mod. Gulf of Tunis), which is protected on the west by the promontory of Apollo (mod. Ras Ali el Mekki), and on the east by the promontory of Mercury or Cape Bon (mod. Ras Addar). Its position naturally formed a sort of bastion on the inner curve of the bay between the Lake of Tunis on the south and the marshy plain of Utica (Sukhara) on the north. Cape Gamart, the Arab village of Sidi-bu-Saïd and the small harbour of Goletta (La Goulette, Halk el Wad) form a triangle which represents the area of Carthage at its greatest, including its extramural suburbs. Of this area the highest point is Sidi-bu-Saïd, which stands on a lofty cliff about 490 ft. high. On Cape Gamart (Kamart) was the chief cemetery; the citadel, Byrsa, was on the hill on which to-day stand the convent of Les Pères Blancs (White Fathers) and the cathedral of St Louis. The harbours lay about three-fifths of a mile south of Byrsa, near the modern hospital of the Khram, at

  1. Eth. iv. schol. 45.
  2. Eth. iv. 67.
  3. Epist. 57.
  4. Epist. 21.
  5. Eth. v. 36.