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the attention of psychologists was first existence is concerned. But, in so distinctly directed to the only known far as I am an ego, or an existence as instance in which a notion and a re- a self, I certainly did create myself. ality are identical and coincident-in By becoming conscious, I, in one sense, which a thought is the same as a thing. actually created myself.”
But, by means of the dogma, cogito “ But," says the other, “ must you ergo sum, was it not the design of Des not have existed before you could beCartes to prove his own existence ? come conscious, and in order to beTake our word for it, no such miser- come conscious." able intention ever entered into his “ Certainly," answers Des Cartes, head. His great object, in the first some sort of being must have existplace, was emphatically to signalize ed before my consciousness, but it was the very singular and altogether ano- only after consciousness that that bemalous phenomenon we have spoken ing became I." of, namely, the identity in nian of “Do you then cease to be whenever thought and reality, and then to found you cease to be conscious ?" upon this point as on a rock which no To this question Des Cartes an. conceivable scepticism could shake; swers both yes and no. “ As an existe and, in the second place, he attempted ing being," says he, “ fulfilling many to point out the genesis of the ego, in purposes of creation, I certainly do so far as it admitted of logical exposi- not cease to exist when I cease to be tion. Cogito ergo sum-I am consci- conscious; but as an 'l' (ego), I cerous, therefore, I am-that is--consci- tainly am no more the moment conousness--or the notion of “ I," takes sciousness leaves me. Consciousness place in a particular Being-and the made me from a thing, a self; that is, it reality of " l" is the immediate re. lifted me up from existing merely for sult. The ergo here does not denote a others, and taught me to exist also fir mere logical inference from the fact of myself. My being as an ego depends consciousness, but it points to a genetic upon, and results from my consciousor creative power in that act.
ness, and, therefore, as soon as my “ Consciousness created you—that consciousness is taken away, my existis to say, you created yourself-did ence as an ego or self vanishes. The you?"-we may here imagine an being heretofore called l' still exists, opponent of Des Cartes to interpose. but not as • I.' It lives only for
No,” replies Des Cartes ; " I did others--not for itself-not as a self at not create myself, in so far as my mere all, either in thought or in deed.”
But though we have seen that con- thousand breasts. Thy consciousness sciousness is the genesis or origin of was faint in the extreme ; for as yet the ego, and that without the former thou hadst but slightly awakened to the latter has no existence, we have yet thyself; and thy sensations and deto throw somewhat more light on con- sires were nearly all-absorbing. Carry sciousness itself, and the circumstan- thyself back still farther, into days yet ces in which it arises.
more “ dark with excess of light," and Let thyself float back, oh reader! as thou shalt behold, through the visionfar as thou canst in obscure memory ary mists, an earlier time, when thy into thy golden days of infancy, when consciousness was altogether null-a the light of thy young life, rising out time when the discrimination of thy of unknown depths, scattered away sensations into subject and object, death from before its path, beyond the which seems so ordinary and inevitable very limits of thought ; even as the a process to thee now, had not taken sun beats off the darkness of night in- place, but when thyself and nature to regions lying out of the visible were enveloped and fused together in boundaries of space. In those days a glowing and indiscriminate synthethy light was single and without re- sis. In these days, thy state was inflection. Thou wert one with pature, deed blessed, but it was the blessedand, blending with her bosom, thou ness of bondage. The earth flattered didst drink in inspiration from her thee, and the smiling heavens flattered thee into forgetfulness. Thou wert of the other. But consciousness also nature's favourite, but at the same time is the discrimination between the ego her fettered slave.
and the non-ego ; or, in other words, But thy destiny was to be free ;- consciousness resolves itself, in its to free thyself—to break asunder the clearest form, into an act of negation, chains of nature-to oppose thy will In order, then, to throw the strongest and thy strength to the universe, both light we can on consciousness, we without thee and within thee-to tread must ascertain the value and import, earth and the passions of earth beneath and, if possible, the origin of this act of thy feet ; and thy first step towards negation — this fundamental energy this great consummation was to dissolve and vital condition upon which the the strong, primary and natural syn- peculiar being of humanity depends. thesis of sensation. In the course of And, first of all, we must beg the reader time, then, that which was originally (a point we have had occasion to press one in the great unity of nature, be- upon him before) to banish from his came two beneath the first exercise of mind the notion that this negation is a a reflective analysis. Thy sensation mere logical power, or form, consist. was now divided into subject and object; ing of a thought and a word. Let that is, thyself and the universe around him endeavour to realize such a conthee. Now, for the first time, wert ception of it as will exhibit it to him thou" 1."
as a vital and energetic deed by which Wouldst thou re-examine thy sensa. he brings himself into existence-not tion as it exists in its primary synthe- indeed as a Being-but as that which tic state ?-then look at it-what is it he calls “ I.” Let him consider that, but a pure unmixed sensation—a sen- unless this deed of negation were pracsation, and nothing more? Wouldet tised by him, he himself would not be thou behold it—in thy own secondary here-a particular Being would, inanalysis of it?-then, lo! how a new deed, be here ; but it is only by deny. element, altogether transcending mere ing or distinguishing itself from other sensation, is presented to thee--the things that that Being becomes a self element or act of negation; that is, as himself. Unless this discrimination we shall show, of freedom.
took place, the Being would remain Sensation in man is found to be, first lost and swallowed up in the identity, of all, a unity-and at this time there or uniformity of the universe. It is no ego or non-ego at all in the case; would be only for others, not for itself. but afterwards it becomes a duality, Self, in its case, would not emerge. and then there is an ego and a non-ego. Am I, then, to say that “ I'' have But, in the latter case, it is obvious been endowed by some other Being that very different circumstances are with this power of sundering myself, connected with sensation, and very dif- during sensation, from the objects ferent elements are found along with causing it-am I to say that this capait, than are found in it when it is a bility has been given ~ me?" Given unity: there is, for instance, the fact me! Why, I was not " !" until after of negation, the non which is inter- this power was exerted, how then posed between the subject and the could it have been given “ me?" object and there are also, of course, There was no “ me” to give it to. I any other facts into which this one became “I" only by exercising it; may resolve itself.
and after it had been exerted, what Moreover, it is evident that, but for would be the advantage of supposing this act of negation or division, there it given to me then, I having it would be no ego, or non-ego. Take already? If, then, I suppose this away this element, and the sensation power given to “me" before it is is restored to its first unity, in which exerted, I suppose it given to that these, being undiscriminated, were which does not as yet exist to receive virtually non-existent. For it is obvious it; and if I suppose it given to me that, unless a man discriminates him. after it is exerted—after I bave beself as “ I" from other things, he does come “ I," I make myself the receiver not exist as “ I." The ego and the of a very superfluous and unnecessary non-ego, then, only are by being dis- gist. criminated, or by the one of them But suppose it should be said that this being denied (not in thought or word power, though not, properly speaking, only, but in a primary and vital act) given to “ me," is yet given to that particular Being which afterwards, in out his will it would be the act of anoconsequence of exercising it, becomes ther Being. In this act of negation, “ I," then we answer, that in this then, or, in other words, in perception case it is altogether a mistake to sup- and consciousness, Will has place. pose that this particular Being exer- Thus, though man is a sentient and cises the power. The power is, truly passionate creature, without his will, speaking, exercised by the Being he is not a conscious, or percipient which infused it, and which itself here being, not an ego, even in the slightbecomes “I;" while the particular est degree, without the concurrence Being supposed to become “ " in con- and energy of his volition. Thus early sequence of the endowment, remains does human will come into play-thus precisely what it was, and does not, by profoundly down in the lowest foun. any conceivability, become “1." One dations of the ego is its presence and Being may, indeed, divide and sunder operation to be found. another Being from other objects; but It is curious to observe how comthis does not make the latter Being pletely these views, in which we iden“ I.” In order to become “I” it tify perception with a primary act of must sunder itself from other things negation, are borne out by certain by its own act. Finally, this act of philological coincidences, which are, negation, or, in other words, conscious assuredly, not accidental, but based ness, is either derived or underived. If upon deeper reflection than we well it is derived, then it is the conscious. know how to fathom. Thus, in Greek, ness of the Being from whom it is de- there is the verb sw, I am: then, anterived, and not mine. But I am sup- rior to this, in the order of thought, posing it, and it is admitted to be, mine, there is yo-ww (primary meaning), I and not another Being's, therefore it am - with a negation. (Secondary must be underived ; that is to say, self- meaning) I perceive; showing how originated and free.
sensible the founders of the Greek A particular Being becomes “ I" language were, that all perception is in consequence of exercising this act ultimately founded on negation and of negation.
But this act must identical with it ; that an act of negabe that Being's own; otherwise, tion is, in fact, the very condition upon supposing it to be the act of ano- which perception depends. Our own ther Being, it would be that other word “ know” also clearly betokens Being which would become I, and this_it is nothing but “no," and not the particular Being spoken of. knowledge, from lowest to highest, is But it was this particular Being, and merely the constant alleging “ no" of no other, which was supposed to be things, or, in other words, a continual come I, and therefore the act by which process of denying them, first of ourit became so must have been its own; selves, and then of one another :-of that is, it must have been an act of course we mean not only in word, but pure and absolute freedom.
also in thought and in deed. Besides In this self-originated act there is gouwoxw, in Greek, there is, in Latin, no passivity. Now every pure and nosco, or nonsco—all words denoting underived act, of course, implies and knowledge, and all carrying negative involves the presence of will of the signs upon their very fronts. agent. If the act were evolved with.
THE LACE-MERCHANT OF NAMUR.
In the beautiful city of Namur, in leaving the young man in the shop to Flanders, there lived an old widow, profit by their favour. The admirawhose very existence was unknown, tion of his visiters was not created by unless to those who saw her in church, any splendour of dress or decoration. which she frequented every day, or in At that time it was the fashion for her small shop, where she carried on a young gallants to shine forth in all the trade in silks and laces. Perhaps poor splendour of a huge periwig and a Madame Le Blond might have died long sword. But the widow's parsias unknown as she had lived, if she mony—or indeed her poverty-forhad not had the good fortune to have bade any such ornaments,—and the a son, who, as he grew to man's es- poor youth was left to the natural simtate, attracted a good deal of observa- plicity of his rich brown hair, that tion among his towns-people, particu- waved in long curls over his snowlarly the fairer portion of them. He wbite collar,—and to the unadorned was now in his two-and. twentieth plainness of a tight-fitting coat and year; a modest, sedate, young man, pantaloons, to which was appended who did great credit to the training neither sword nor dagger. As to Le of his mother,—unknowing of evil, Blond himself, he did not take any noand, indeed, having no acquaintance tice whether people wondered at his beyond the small circle of devout and wiglessness or not. He was totally respectable old ladies who formed the unconscious of any thing peculiar society of his parent. Of money he either in his dress or appearance; and had no great store, as his father, who, had not the remotest idea wbat exact however, was an officer high in the note was taken of both by the fairest army, had died without fortune, and and loftiest ladies in Namur. When the small trade in lace did little more the shop was filled with the beauty than keep the widow and her son alive. and fashion of the whole city-buyBut the virtues and good qualities of ing, as if in emulation—and smiling young Le Blond would never have condescendingly on the attentive lacemade him a reputation in Namur, if man, "see, my son !" whispered the he had not been the handsomest young good widow, as she took her rosary fellow that all Flanders, or perhaps and hurried off to church, “see how all Europe, had to boast of. In what the saints have blest our piety-our his good looks consisted, or from what zeal—our industry !” The son bent collocation of limbs and features his religiously as she passed by, and excessive handsomeness arose, we find thanked the saints for their goodness. it impossible to describe. Suffice it But when, after some time, it beto say, that there was a something- came evident, even to the old lady, wbatever that something might be- that the saints were somewhat arbithat made his form and face a study trary in their favours, and in fact only for the painter,-and, as was soon suf- rewarded piety, and zeal, and industry ficiently proved, when he began to in the person of the son-leaving the assist his mother in her trade-there poor widow, as often as she took charge were a good many painters in the fair of the business, without any customtown of Namur, of the softer sex, who ers whatsoever,—she addressed him were in search of such a model. For one day in a more serious manner instantly on young Le Blond com- than usual. “ Alas, alas, I am an old mencing business, there was such a and feeble woman, and have not the rush upon his shop, as if his silks way of talking to customers as you were the richest that India had ever have; 'twere better for me to give up. sent home, and his laces finer than I have laboured and kept house, and those of Malines. Trade prospered saved and scraped long enough. Work so strangely under his management,
now for yourself; take a wife, and I that the old lady could find no means will live with you peaceably till I die." of accounting for it but the interpo. The son, who was never known to sition of two or three of the saints, to disobey an injunction of his mother, whose service she accordingly devot found this very reasonable. He knew ed herself with more energy than ever; that it was usual when a man reached a certain age for him to take a wife; had never ventured to hope that any and why should he trouble his head of the four known quarters of the about what was the object of such a globe would have produced her a proceeding?
wooer, blushed so celestially when she - But where shall I get a wife, mo- heard of Le Blond's proposal, that her ther?” said the son.
countenance actually became blue. “ Leave that to me," replied the But the good Le Blond, when he heard widow, “ I'll manage every thing." of his acquisition, looked exactly of
“ How if I were to take Maria, my the same colour. When he had regodfather's daughter?” enquired Le covered a little from his first surprise, Blond_“she is a well-behaved girl. he held out all his ten fingers, and I recollect when we were children, said, “see, mother, I will count you we used to play at man and wife. My not one reason, but two hundred and godfather spoke of it to me last week." fifty-on these fingers, why young
“ He spoke to me too,” said the mo. Mademoiselle Paulet can never be my ther— but that can never be—and wife. First, when I only think of it, for a hundred and fifty reasons. I it gives me the scarlet fever; secondwill only mention to you half a dozen ly, influenza ; thirdly, giddiness in the of them. First, as long as we did not head-fourthly, Asiatic chulera ; fifthget on in our trade, your godfather ly": looked at us over his shoulder-now, “ Hold !" exclaimed Madame Le when he sees we are prospering, he Blond, who did not wish to hear the tries to be civil. I can't bear the old remaining two hundred grounds of fox. Second, Maria is good and tidy, dissent; “ You speak like an apotheand active-but she has nothing. A cary, not a merchant. Let us calcumerchant, my dear son, must not ask late, if we turn over the lady's portion what a wife is, but what she has. ten times in the year, how much our Nothing multiplied by nothing pro- gains will be." duces nothing. Third, there are ob- But the mother and son never jections to it which I am acquainted brought their reckonings to the same with, and even if there were none, I This produced a little bitterwould never give my consent to it ness between them ; the lady stood on while I live. Fourth":
the oldness and wisdom of her head“ Enough, enough, mother," inter- the young man on the youth and rupted the young man.
“ It was no- warmth of his heart; and when head thing but a suggestion of my own. and heart are at variance, there can be Choose another
for me yourself.” no great comfort till their discrepanIn a very few days the careful mo- cies are reconciled. Home became ther had fixed upon another, the daugh- uncomfortable to even the best and ter of Paulet the silversmith. The most unsophisticated of sons. If it girl was rich, but hideously ugly. A had not been for the strong filial affeehump on her back, and an eye closed tion he retained he would have left up by the small-pox, were the small- the poor old lady to herself. As it est of the unlovelinesses of the selected was, he went more frequently abroad bride. It was from these causes she than he had ever done in his life, in had not obtained a husband, though order to hear no more of his pestilenceher wealth was enough to have tempts creating bride. Once, indeed, he was ed a dozen. Master Paulet the silver- nearly off altogether, and it was on smith agreed with the old lady in a the following occasion, moment; and the young damsel, who
One morning he had gone to mass, not seem to be very deep in her devo. as was his custom, and he observed
She appeared to regard Le kneeling, not far from him, a female Blond with great attention, and then figure in a rich, yet simple travelling she whispered to her neighbour, and dress, with her face hidden by a gold- then both of them looked at him. Le spangled veil. The worshipper, al- Blond saw their proceedings, but took though the golden balls of her rosary little notice. The thought only crossfell quickly through her fingers, did ed him, “ Ah! they are not so hide