British Theology And Philosophy -- By: James Lindsay

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:249 (Jan 1906)
Article: British Theology And Philosophy
Author: James Lindsay


British Theology And Philosophy

James Lindsay

Kilmarnock, Scotland

Students of philosophy everywhere will be grateful to Professor James Ward, of Cambridge, for editing the volume of “Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant,”1 by the late Professor H. Sidgwick, Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Cambridge.

The volume is made up of (1) twelve lectures on “the metaphysics of Kant”; (2) three lectures on “the metaphysics of T. H. Green”; (3) two lectures on “the philosophy of Mr.

Herbert Spencer”; and (4) five essays (from Mind and from the Journal of Philology). Professor Ward tells us, in the Preface, that the author felt the lectures on Kant “tolerably complete” but the study on Green “not in the form required for a book.”

The lectures on Kant begin with “the Critical Standpoint.” In a very interesting way, Sidgwick discusses Kant’s inquiry into the possibility of a Metaphysic. He thinks Kant’s answer “simple “and “clear.” Metaphysics has not the characteristics of Science—has not “universal and permanent approval,” and has not the “continually advancing” character of “every other science.” Sidgwick seems to agree with Kant as to the humble and longing attitude of Philosophy in relation to the “uncontested “and “progressive “character of the knowledge of the sciences. Now, this is an excellent chapter, and finely does Sidgwick set out before us the limitations of Kant, but I do not pretend to think so meanly of metaphysics as science as Professor Sidgwick appears to do. It is possible for philosophy—or metaphysic—to be needlessly humble, and to get no profit for its pains. Why was Sidgwick not bolder by far in his claims for scientific metaphysics? Metaphysics is a theoretic discipline like other sciences, and, so far as it is science, does not conduct us beyond experience. Intensively, no doubt, metaphysics may conduct us beyond experience, but then what right has anybody to lay narrower pretensions on metaphysics than on the other sciences? The metaphysic of experience, in its possibility, necessity, and reality, must be scientifically comprehended, for that is the very end of metaphysical science. And as there is “uncontested “knowledge here, so is there “progressive “knowledge also, the whole history of philosophy being witness to a really significant progress or development. The superiority of metaphysics to the concrete sciences is, that, whereas they are content with notions relatively perfect, metaphysic would bring reality up to absolute conceptions. There is so much to be said for metaphysi...

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