|A NEW PHASE OF GERMAN THOUGHT.|
FROM THE FRENCH OF LÉON DUMONT
HARTMANN adopts the following words as the title of his principal work: "Speculative results according to the inductive method of the natural sciences." If we were to trust to these words, we might suppose that the author's system takes an essentially scientific form, and relies exclusively on the observation and analysis of facts. But the reading of a very few chapters soon leaves quite an opposite impression. Although Hartmann gives proof of abundant acquisitions in physics and physiology, he puts himself completely at odds with the naturalist school, and, soaring away at once, launches into the metaphysical regions haunted by Schelling and Schlegel. He begins, it is true, by setting forth quite a number of facts belonging to the domain of the natural sciences, but he follows with the immediate declaration that such facts can only be explained by a cause of the supernatural order. Now, to take any fact whatever, and endeavor to show that it is not a result of physical conditions, but has its cause in a spiritual principle, intelligent and distinct from its reality, may not, we suppose, be necessarily false, but we certainly cannot recognize, in such a procedure, "the inductive method of the natural sciences."
The principle of final causes is the starting-point of the system. In vain Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, have successively combated it; in vain Darwin has given it its death-blow, by the proof that every thing heretofore conceived as a final cause in the organic world might be hypothetically, if not by demonstration, explained as a result; in Hartmann's teaching, the idea of finality once more takes a place perhaps as high as in that of ancient philosophic systems. He says, the causes of a fact are necessarily either material or spiritual—there is no middle way; therefore, when material circumstances fail to explain a fact sufficiently, we must resort to the admission of a spiritual cause. Now, when the mind acts, there is always a will joined with an idea, a force tending to the realization of an end conceived; in a word, there is always a final cause. Therefore, to prove the existence of a providential principle, it is enough to show that certain facts cannot possibly be reduced to material conditions.
This doctrine may be thus stated: Whatever we have not yet succeeded in grasping by observation is of a spiritual nature, or, whatever in the production of a fact has hitherto eluded our experimental research, must be a priori a principle like the human intellect. Is not