not square with the results of speculation, so much the worse for the facts. Although Hegel does not wholly depreciate experimental knowledge, he too lays chief stress on the à priori method. Knowledge is boundless in its possibilities; no limit can be set to man's faculty of truth. Basing themselves upon such conceptions as these, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel undertook the construction of an edifice, which though grand and daring in plan and execution, had no foundation on the earth. And when philosophy loses its footing on the ground, it must Antaeus-like perish in mid-air.
While the German metaphysicians and their following were proving by all the rules of logic what the world really ought to be, the exact sciences were modestly finding out what it actually was. The whistle of the locomotive suddenly awakened the speculator from his dreams, and called his attention to the wonderful progress of natural science with its fruitful methods and useful results. A reaction soon set in against Hegelianism, and its star sank. Men grew aweary of fanciful speculations and longed to return from the clouds to the realities of the material world. Railroads were built. Trade and commerce took enormous strides forward, commercial and polytechnical schools were founded. All energies were directed toward the discovery, explanation and application of material laws, and the exact sciences took the place in the public confidence once held by philosophy. Liebig, the great chemist, introduced the laboratory into German universities. Alexander von Humboldt made a reputation for himself as a scientist. Important discoveries were made in France and Germany by physiologists like Müller, Weber, Flourens, Magendie, Leurct, Longet. Philosophy lost her crown; despised and forsaken by a world that was now as extreme in its contempt as it had formerly been extravagant in its praise, there was none so poor to do her reverence. The philosopher was described as one speaking of things of which he knew nothing, in words which no one could understand. The mistake lay in identifying all philosophy with a temporary one-sided phase of it. The hue and cry was raised against the persecuted queen. The natural sciences, of course, renounced their allegiance and established an antiphilosophical republic of their own. They deluded themselves into believing in the possibility of excluding philosophical conceptions from their realm; they simply succeeded in introducing loose, illogical notions into their explanations, notions that careful thinkers had long ago rejected as unsatisfactory. Materialism, the simplest and most insufficient solution of the world-problem, became the order of the day.
Conditions like these could not fail to intimidate philosophy. Mis-
- Hegel, Vol. VI., pp. 53 and 78.
- See Lange, History of Materialism.