Imagens da página

Swedenborg enumerates and describes seventeen different methods of finding the longitude, which had been devised up to his time, most of which, however, were entirely useless, and rejected almost as soon as invented. Chronometers, which since the time of Swedenborg have been brought to a very surprising degree of perfection, are now chiefly depended upon for ascertaining the longitude of a place; and the accounts which Captain Basil Hall and Dr. Arnott give of this eminently useful instrument are very surprising; but the chronometer, however perfect, is liable to many contingencies and disturbances; besides it is only a mechanical method, and not a purely scientific one. Swedenborg converts the heavens into a clock or chronometer, the two hands of which are the moon and any given pair of stars. “ Let there," says he, “ be a pair of stars, or several pairs of stars visible, the longitude and latitude of which may be known from tables; let the time be observed when the moon comes into a line, or into the same arc with these stars*, from which observation the apparent place of the moon will be evident, after which its true place may be found according to the following methods."

We cannot, however, be expected in this place to follow the author in his mathematical demonstrations; we will only enumerate the advantages of this new method, which at that time appeared to Swedenborg to attend it, above every other method then known. These advantages are,-1. The apparent place of the moon is, by this method, easily ascertained by observation, even without the assistance of nautical instruments. 2. The true place of the moon may be ascertained by the solution of one right-angled triangle. 3. The knowledge of the latitude of the place is not necessary. 4. The parallaxt may be found by only observing the altitude, and by resolving, as before stated, one triangle. 5. This observation may be made, when the moon shines, four or six times every night, and even oftener. 6. That the customary nautical instruments are equally as well suited for these observations. 7. This method possesses also the advantage of a kind of eclipse of the moon (See this explained and demonstrated at p. 24). 8. The ephemerides also may be easily constructed according to this method, to facilitate the labour of the observer.

We beg to state to our scientific readers, that it is well worth the trouble to compare Swedenborg's method of finding the longitude

* Here the author clearly explains what he means by diagrams.

+ The parallax is the difference between the apparent place of the moon or of a planet as viewed from the surface of the earth, and its true place, as it would be seen if viewed from the centre.

with the most approved scientific method of the present day, and to ascertain in what respects they differ. If Swedenborg's method is that which is now generally employed, or if it form the basis of that which is now most approved, why should not his name have the honour of the discovery? Let the palm be awarded to whom it is due. Manchester, 1842.




(Translated from the German.)

The greater our thirst after truth is, the greater importance must we attach to the question,--Has our reason any real certainty in its decisions? and if so, on what basis does that reality rest ? This question brings us at once to thorough scepticism, which doubts every thing. However, if every thing were uncertain, it would be impossible to entertain that very doubt; for every one who doubts must, at least, be certain that he doubts, or, which is the same thing, that he exists as a doubter; consequently, that because something exists, something must necessarily have always existed; since this something cannot inhere in nothing, or have been produced from nothing, but must exist on a being, or must inhere in something immutable in a substance, which, in consequence of its permanence, constantly forms its basis. For it is utterly absurd to think that any thing exists on nothing, or has been produced from nothing, or is not based on something permanent, something substantial, as the substratum of all its changes and modifications. To us, therefore, the being of an absolute substance, truly deserving that name, is more certain than our own existence. With this certainty we obtain both the law of its existence—the law of immutability or of identity with itself, which at the same time manifests itself as the law of all our thinking, and which (in the argument just given) has manifested itself in the law of identity, or, negatively expressed, of non-contradiction: Do not assert any thing contradictory, but only what agrees with its subject; and also the law of the reason why, which is coincident with the former. Every predicate presupposes a subject as the ESSE on which it is based, which is thought of under this form, and which, out of this form, does not exist for us at all. This brings us to the still higher identity of the real and the ideal of being and thought; according to which there is no form without a substance on which it exists, and no substance without a form in which it exists. Both are distinguishably one (distincte unum). This philosophy of Schelling and Hegel is to be found quite simply, but much purer, in Swedenborg, in the words (S. A. de Div. Am. § 14), “Where there is esse there is also existere ; one is not possible without the other; for esse is by existere, and not without it; .... and inasmuch as the one has place with and not without the other, it follows that they are one, but distinctly one. They are distinctly one, as is the case with love and wisdom; for love also is esse and wisdom existere, inasmuch as love does not exist but in wisdom, nor wisdom but from love; wherefore when love is in wisdom then it exists. These two are such a ONE that they may be distinguished indeed in thought, but not in act; therefore it is said they are distinctly one.” Again, No. 15, “ The reason why an esse is not an esse unless it exists, is, because it is not before in a form; and that which is not in a form has not a quality ; and that which has not a quality is not any thing."

Besides (T. C. R. 20), “Inasmuch as God is esse, he is also substance; for an esse without a substance is a mere imaginary entity; and whatsoever is a substance is likewise a form ; for substance too without a form, is a mere imaginary entity; wherefore both substance and form may be predicated of God; but with this distinction, that he is the only, the very, and the first substance and form.” Again in the same work, 21: “ That God is not only esse in itself, but likewise existere in itself, results from this, that an esse, unless it exists, is nothing; and in like manner an existere is nothing, unless it be derived from its esse ; wherefore, granting one, we must also grant the other. The same reasoning is applicable to substance and form : a substance is nothing without a form, and a form cannot exist unless it be derived from a substance; for nothing is predicable of a substance without a form; and a form without a substance must be a mere nothing, because it is without that which is necessary to give it quality or distinction."

We might also here adduce the passages in which Swedenborg says that the true is not mere thought, but the only real and the only substantial, as A. C. 6880, 7004. Nay, all this is even contained in the words I am that I am, (Ex. 3, 14.) Thus thorough scepticism carries us beyond itself, and leads immediately to the true Being who is the esse of all existere, who in all thought is the actual Thinker, who is therefore the only one who can truly say of himself, I am (Jehovah); because any thing else only exists by him and through him, and every thinker only thinks in him. For this reason, whatever we actually think, i. e., think conformably to the laws of thought, must necessarily be real, i. e., absolutely true; for it is in accordance with the thought of him, consequently with the most certain thought, because it is already contained in that greatest certainty, because it is included in that which is more certain than our own existence. No one, therefore, can reasonably demand a proof of the existence of God; for if to prove means to deduce the truth of the less certain from the more certain, how can the most certain be derived from something else beside Himself? Jehovah is, therefore, not only the source of all things, but also the ratio suficiens for the cognition of all things. We are, because He is; Sumus quia Deus est ; (S. A. de Div. Prov. § 46.) Our business is only to become distinctly conscious of that which we already possess. But how shall we attain this ? what is the condition of our progress? We have it already in the law of identity: assert nothing contradictory! if we add, that the very possibility of our asserting what is contradictory, opens an infinite field before us. For the contradiction divides the whole province of thought into two halves, in one of which, the truth must necessarily be contained. If it can be shewn, then, that one of two contradictory predicates is opposed to the nature of God, the other must necessarily be affirmed of Him; and, vice versá, if it can be shewn that one of two contradictory attributes actually does belong to him, the other must necessarily be denied. We may, therefore, conclude the truth of one predicate from the falsehood of its contradictory opposite; and the falsehood of one attribute from the truth of its opposite. The possibility of a third is excluded. This law “ of the excluded third,” (regula exclusi tertiä,) which is implanted in the sceptic together with his own existence, has been thus expressed. Of two predicates contradictorily opposed to each other, one must necessarily be ascribed to the subject. This law is also the basis of every apagogical argument. It is also a pledge for the possibility of a philosophy, or, of an absolutely true cognition of truth by reason, and of a critique of all revelation. Any philosophy, therefore, which denies the reality of this law, and founds a pretended new system upon the denial, as Hegel has done, begins by exposing itself to an unfavourable prejudice. That Hegel's denial of this law, is founded on a palpable confusion of contradictory with merely contrary opposites, has been circumstantially proved against him, in the work Geschichte und Kritik des Skepticismus,* p. 22–23. Evil and not-evil, for instance, are contradictory opposites. Not-evil includes everything else except evil, as the false, for instance ;

* History and Critique of Scepticism. See a Review of this work in the Int. Rep. for 1837, pp. 357, & 473.

it is impossible for any third thing to exist beside two such opposites. But the evil and the false are examples of contrary opposites; and any body may perceive that there may be a third, fourth, &c., here, as good, beautiful, red, black, &c. Evil and good are contrary opposites, which are called, in morals, the opposite poles ; but these are not meant when logical opposition is spoken of. If, however, we are able, by these means, to attain absolutely true notions of God and the divine agency,—viz., such as agree with the idea of the supreme Esse, and with his essence,-these notions are, nevertheless, only of a negative and general kind. Hence Luther justly remarked, “Reason does not comprehend what God is; but it comprehends most certainly what God is not.... Whatever then is against reason is surely much more against God; for, how is it possible for a thing not to be contrary to divine truth, which is contrary even to reason and human truth ?" Swedenborg says the same thing more emphatically (S. A. de Div. Prov. § 46): “ What the Infinite and Eternal is, cannot be comprehended by finite beings, and yet it can; it cannot be comprehended, because the finite is not capable of the infinite ; and yet it can be comprehended, because there are abstract ideas, by which it can be seen that things exist, though not what is their quality. Such ideas are given of the infinite; as that God, because he is infinite, is esse itself; that he is essence and substance itself; that he is love itself and wisdom itself; or, that he is good itself and truth itself; yea, that he is man himself. Then, also, if it be said, that the infinite is all ; that infinite wisdom is omniscience, and infinite power is omnipotence; still, these things fall but obscurely within the thought, and from being incomprehensible, may perhaps come to be denied ; unless the things which thought derives from nature be abstracted from the idea, especially what it derives from these two things proper to nature, space and time; for these cannot but terminate ideas, and cause abstract ideas to be as nothing. But if these can be abstracted by a man as they are by an angel, then the infinite can be comprehended by means of the things above mentioned ; and it can be comprehended, that man is something, because he was created by an infinite God, who is all ; and that man is a finite substance, because he was created by an infinite God, who is substance itself; also that man is wisdom, because created by God, who is wisdom itself; and so on: for unless the infinite God were all, substance itself and wisdom itself, man would not be anything; therefore, he would either be nothing, or only an idea of a being according to those visionaries who are called idealists.” That is to say, as God is the sole Being and first Mover in every thing existing, so also is he the sole Life in

« AnteriorContinuar »