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Note XV., page 131.,
Among the recent defenders of materialism in Germany, Moleschott, Vogt, Büchner, Löwenthal, Haeckel, Dühring, and Strauss may be named. Jacob Moleschott's 'Kreislauf des Lebens' (Circulation of Life), published in 1852, was the first systematic exposition of what is called scientific materialism. It was written in a popular style, and contained a considerable amount of interesting biological information, but contributed nothing to the proof of the fundamental dogmas of materialism; these, indeed, it borrowed from that feeble production of Ludwig Feuerbach, which it pronounces to be “the immortal critique of religion."
Charles Vogt threw himself with great vigour and violence into the conflict excited by Moleschott's book, and by a celebrated discourse of Rudolph Wagner “On the Creation of Man and the Substance of the Soul” (1854). His ‘Lectures on Man, his place in creation and in the history of the earth,' published in 1863, have been translated into English, and show well what manner of person he is.
Louis Büchner has been probably the most efficient and successful of the popularisers of contemporary materialism. His ' Matter and Force' (1855), “Nature and Science' (1862), and “Man's Place in Nature' (1869), have passed through many editions, and been translated into most European languages. The first mentioned of these books seems to have almost taken the place formerly filled by Holbach’s ‘System of Nature. There have been
many replies to it; that of M. Janet, ‘Materialism of the Present Day'-of which there is a good translation by Gustave Masson—combines most happily, perhaps, elegance as to form with thoroughness as to substance.
Edward Löwenthal regards even the authors just mentioned as neither sufficiently materialistic nor speculatively consistent, seeing that they affirm the coexistence of two principles-matter and force. He maintains that matter is alone primordial, and that force is merely a product of atomic aggregation. He also labours to construct “a religion without a creed" on his materialism, and to form an "international freethinkers' association,” from which he expects great results; in a word, he aspires to be the founder of what he calls “ Cogitantenthum” (Thinkingdom), which is to take the place of Christendom. His ‘System and History of Naturalism,' first published in 1861, is now in its fifth edition. The system is very feebly and loosely constructed, and the history is very inaccurate.
Ernst Haeckel is the most enthusiastic and influential of German Darwinists. His reputation as a “morphologist” and “zoologist" stands very high. He is a thorough materialist and atheist, but he prefers to call himself a monist. He regards the eternity of matter as a law of nature, and spontaneous generation as a scientific certainty. He gets enraged when he hears of final causes; and he tells those who dare to doubt of the apeorigin of humanity, that “it is an interesting and instructive circumstance that those men are chiefly indignant at the discovery of the natural development of man from the monkey, between whom and our common tertiary ancestors there is the least observable difference, whether as to intellectual capacity or cerebral character. istics.” His "General Morphology,' published in 1866, his ‘Natural History of Creation, of which the first edition appeared in 1868, and his “Anthropogenie' (1874), are the works in which he has expounded his so-called monism. The second and third of them have been translated into English. For a good general exposition of his system, based on the ‘Natural History of Creation,' see M. Léon Dumont's 'Haeckel et la théorie de l'évolution en Allemagne.'
Eugene Dühring has endeavoured in various works to establish and apply a so-called "philosophy of reality" which is essentially materialistic. He gave a general exposition of his system in a ‘Course of Philosophy' published in 1875. The work has considerable merits; but, besides other defects, it has the fatal fault of seldom giving proofs either of its affirmations or its negations. The book of Hans Vaihinger, mentioned in Note V., will be found highly useful to the student of Dühring's philosophy.
David F. Strauss closed his literary career by a “ Confession,” in which materialism and pantheism were blended together, and Darwinism was accepted as the new and true Gospel. The celebrity which he had acquired, and his talent as a writer, were the chief reasons why this confession—“The Old and the New Faith,' 1873— excited a remarkable amount of attention. As regards real intellectual substance it is poor, superficial, and confused. The “new faith” is a faith as old as speculative error. As held by Strauss it is an unreasoned faith in the eternity of matter, in spontaneous generation, in the incarnation of the ape, and in the truth of optimism, although the world is ruled by blind and aimless, unconscious and unmoral forces. Its central positive and constructive idea is that the universe — the totality of existence designated nature—is the only God which the modern mind enlightened by science can consent to worship. Among the multitude of reviews which the book called forth, those of Rauwenhoff and Nippold, of Huber, of Vera, of Henry B. Smith (“Philosophy and Faith,' pp. 443-488), of J. Hutchison Stirling (‘Athenæum,' June 1873), and of Ulrici, might be specified. Ulrici's article—an annihilating and unanswerable criticism of the philosophical postulates and dogmas of the latest faith of Strauss—has been translated into English, with an introduction, by Dr Krauth.
Materialism has now for almost thirty years been spreading more and more widely in Germany, with what results the future will show. It has owed its success to the spirit of the times; not to any intellectual superiority of its advocates over its opponents. Schaller, Lotze, J. H. Fichte, Ulrici, Bona Meyer, Huber, Hoffmann, Froschammer, Fabri, Weiss, Wigand, and a host of others, have done all that could be desired in the way both of repelling and of returning its attacks. There is considerable exaggeration current as to the extent, and especially as to the quality, of its conquests. The highest class of German thinkers is chiefly composed of those who regard materialism as the least satisfactory of philosophical systems.
In France scarcely any work of merit has recently appeared in defence of materialism, if positivism be not counted as materialism. The communistic conspirator, A. Blanqui, wrote a curious little book entitled 'L'Eternité par les astres, hypotèse astronomique' (1872), which showed very considerable literary talent, and which
was very ingeniously reasoned out from the assumption that matter is infinite both in extension and duration. He displayed in it his characteristic disregard of the nature of the consequences of his principles. Thus he contended that, since there must be all possible combinations of worlds if matter be absolutely infinite, there must be many worlds like the present-stars with, for example, duplicates in them of France, Paris, the Commune, and Blanqui, and even of all these at every stage of their existence. He neither proved, however, that matter is doubly infinite, nor that we have such a comprehension of absolute as to be able to deduce from it definite inferences.
M. Lefèvre, in his ‘La Philosophie' (1879), has written the history of philosophy from a materialistic standpoint, and given a general exposition of the system of materialism.
In the work of M. Caro— Le Matérialisme et la Science'—the pretensions of so-called scientific materialism are very searchingly tested, and the conclusion that the positive sciences can neither displace nor replace metaphysics is very convincingly maintained.
In England, Mr Herbert Spencer, Professors Huxley and Tyndall, and a few other writers of distinguished philosophical or scientific talents, have done far more to diffuse materialism than any of those who are willing to avow themselves materialists. Never was materialism more fortunate than when it secured to itself the sympathy and support of minds so vigorous and so richly gifted. It is quite incorrect, however, to say that in this country the foremost scientific men have, as a body, gone over to the materialistic camp or to the side of scepti.