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content myself with merely stating that the theory of human life and destiny, based on the view of God and nature which has been delineated, is just that which we should have anticipated. The end of man is regarded as the perfect repose which must result from union with the absolute. It is held to be only attainable through the science which is comprised in the formula —“one only without a second.” The way to reach true science is maintained to be meditation on Revelation, with renunciation of the world and pious dispositions and exercises. The effects of it are described as freedom from ignorance, error, the possibility of sin, desire, activity, transmigration, and change. Whoever knows Brahma becomes Brahma. He is freed from the illusion that he has any distinct personal existence. He shakes off pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, all distinctions and qualities. He returns into the essence whence he came, and attains the highest identity. In a word, from the pantheism of the Vedanta philosophy, all its chief consequences are deduced with a boldness and consistency which justify its claim to be regarded as among the greatest systems to which speculation has given birth.
In the pantheism of the Vedanta doctrine the finite is lost in the infinite. Along with the affirmation of an impersonal God there is the negation of the reality of the worlds, both of sense and consciousness. In other words, the issue of this kind of pantheism is acosmism. But pantheism is just as likely to issue in atheism. Those who are determined to reach an absolute unity, while yet feeling constrained to admit that physical objects and finite minds have a veritable existence, must sacrifice the infinite to the finite-God to nature,— must represent God as an abstraction and nullity. From this virtual atheism there is but a step to avowed atheism. The Sankhya philosophy and Buddhism are the Hindu exemplifications of this tendency of pantheistic speculation.?
From India let us pass on to Greece. In India philosophy as a rule rests on the Vedas. Its systems are classed as orthodox or heterodox. Hence Hegel has aptly compared the Hindu to the scholastic systems, as being systems of philosophy within systems of theology. Even the Sankhya system, which can hardly be said to acknowledge the authority of the Vedas, and which is really atheistical in character, yet proposes to itself for final aim a religious end, the securing of salvation to man, and recommends the pursuit of truth only as a means to that end. In Greece it was otherwise. Philosophy there had from the first a sort of consciousness of a function of its own. It invoked no anterior or supernatural authority. The influence of religion upon it was real and considerable, but indirect and secondary. It was content to trust entirely in reason, and to aim at nothing beyond truth.
1 See Appendix XXXV.
All the pre-Socratic schools of Greek philosophy, with the exception of that of Democritus, were more or less pantheistic; but only in the Eleatic philosophy does early Greek pantheism appear fully developed. It bears a most striking resemblance to the Vedanta theory. Almost all that is needed to convert Vedanta doctrine into Eleatic doctrine is to substitute the word Being for the word Brahma. The more closely I have examined and compared the two systems, the more I have been impressed with this truth; and yet there can be no doubt that the one system was as thoroughly Greek as the other was thoroughly Hindu.
The Eleatic philosophy was founded by Xenophanes, and brought to perfection by Parmenides. I shall state very briefly its leading principles as taught by the latter. His cardinal principle is the opposition of being and appearance, truth and opinion, reason and sense. To being corresponds reason; to appearance, sense. Reason apprehending being is truth; sense apprehending appearance is opinion. Being and appearance, reason and sense, truth and opinion, are essentially irreconcilable and contradictory. All truth belongs to reason, which alone can apprehend being. There
is no truth in sense; and the credit which men attach to its testimony is merely a proof of their tendency to follow “the road of appearance, where nought but fallacy reigneth.” Parmenides had the courage to challenge the authority of external irnpressions, and of all reasoning from them, and distinctly to deny that material things exist as we see them, or need exist at all because we believe that we see them. So far as the senses and their objects were concerned, he was an avowed sceptic. His scepticism, however, was a means, and not an end. He denied, and laboured to destroy, the authority of sense, but only in order to affirm and establish the authority of reason. He desired that reason should rule without a rival. His philosophy was, therefore, essentially not scepticism, but dogmatic idealism. It rested on reason alone, and on reason understood in the strictest, narrowest, most exclusive manner-on reason reduced to a single idea, and expressed in a single truth.
What was the truth which he regarded as the one truth, the whole truth? It was this: “Being is, and cannot but be; not-being is not, and cannot be. One can affirm everything of being, and nothing of not-being.” He started where his predecessor, Xenophanes, ended. Xenophanes passed from the thought of God to the thought of absolute being; Parmenides began with absolute being. He was quite aware of the sort of contradiction
involved in saying at one and the same time, “notbeing is not, and cannot be,” and “one can affirm nothing of not-being.” He felt that he had to speak so because the very notion of not-being is a contradiction, and all speech about it must be a contradiction. “One can neither know not-being," he said, "nor express it in words: for it has in it no possibility of being." His not being did not mean non-existence, but all that sense and ordinary thought apprehend as existence; it included earth, air, ocean, and the minds of men. The whole multiple and divisible universe was what he held to be the not-being, which is to reason a contradiction so great that it is impossible even to speak of it in a rational manner. His “what is not is not” was not a truism, but a paradox.
In deducing a doctrine of being, Parmenides displayed great speculative boldness and ability. I can merely state the results at which he arrived. 1°, Being, he argued, is absolutely one. It is not an abstract unity, but the only reality. It so is that it alone is. 2°, Being, he further affirmed, is continuous and indivisible; it is everywhere like to itself, and everywhere alike present. Were there parts in being there would be plurality, and being would not be one—that is, would not be being. There can be no differences or distinctions in being ; for what is different and distinct from being must be not-being, and not-being is not.