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HISTORY OF SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY, FROM
Aristotelian Philosophers-Cesalpin- Opposite Schools of Philosophy - Telesio - Jordano Bruno - Sanchez Aconcio Nizotius - Logic of Ramus.
1. THE authority of Aristotle, as the great master of dogmatic philosophy, continued generally predominant through the sixteenth century. It has been al-nance of ready observed, that, besides the strenuous support of the Catholic clergy, and especially of the Sorbonne, who regarded all innovation with abhorrence, the Aristotelian philosophy had been received, through the influence of Melanchthon, in the Lutheran universities. The reader must be reminded that under the name of speculative philosophy we comprehend not only the logic and what was called ontology of the schools, but those physical theories of ancient or modern date, which, appealing less to experience than to assumed hypotheses, cannot be mingled, in a literary classification, with the researches of true science, such as we shall hereafter have to place under the head of natural philosophy.
2. Brucker has made a distinction between the scholastic and the genuine Aristotelians; the former being Scholastic chiefly conversant with the doctors of the middle and genuine ages, adopting their terminology, their distinc- lians. tions, their dogmas, and relying with implicit deference on Scotus or Aquinas, though, in the progress of learning, they might make some use of the original master; while the latter, throwing off the yoke of the schoolmen, prided themselves on an equally complete submission to Aristotle himself. These were chiefly philosophers and physicians, as the former were theologians; and the difference of their objects suffices to account for the different lines in which they pursued them, and the lights by which they were guided.a
Brucker, Hist. Philos., iv. 117 et post.
The others not much
3. Of the former class, or successors and adherents of the The former old schoolmen, it might be far from easy, were remembered. it worth while, to furnish any distinct account. Their works are mostly of considerable scarcity; and none of the historians of philosophy, except perhaps Morhof, profess much acquaintance with them. It is sufficient to repeat that, among the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits, especially in Spain and Italy, the scholastic mode of argumentation was retained in their seminaries, and employed in prolix volumes, both upon theology and upon such parts of metaphysics and natural law as are allied to it. The reader may find some more information in Brucker, whom Buhle, saying the same things in the same order, may be presumed to have silently copied. 4. The second class of Aristotelian philosophers, devoting themselves to physical science, though investigating it with a very unhappy deference to mistaken dogmas, might seem to offer a better hope of materials for history; and in fact we meet here with a very few names of men once celebrated and of some influence over the opinions of their age. But even here their writings prove to be not only forgotten, but incapable, as we may say, on account of their rare occurrence, and the improbability of their republication, of being ever again
5. The Italian schools, and especially those of Pisa and Schools of Padua, had long been celebrated for their adherence to Aristotelian principles, not always such as could justly be deduced from the writings of the Stagirite himself, but opposing a bulwark against novel speculation, as well as against the revival of the Platonic, or any other ancient philosophy. Simon Porta of the former university, and Cæsar Cremonini of the latter, stood at the head of the rigid Aristotelians; the one near the commencement of this period, the other about its close. Both these philosophers have been reproached with the tendency to atheism, so common in the Italians of this period. Ă similar imputation has fallen on another professor of the university of Pisa, Cesalpini, who is said to have deviated from the strict system of Aristotle towards
b Brucker, Hist. Philos., iv. 117 et post. Buhle, ii. 448.
that of Averroes, though he did not altogether coincide even with the latter. The real merits of Cesalpin, in very different pursuits, it was reserved for a later age to admire. His "Quæstiones Peripateticæ," published in 1575, is a treatise on metaphysics, or the first philosophy, founded professedly upon Aristotelian principles, but with considerable deviation. This work is so scarce that Brucker had never seen it, but Buhle has taken much pains to analyse its very obscure contents. obscure contents. Paradoxical and unintelligible as they now appear, Cesalpin obtained a high reputation in his own age, and was denominated, by excellence, the philosopher. Nicolas Taurellus, a professor at Altdorf, denounced the "Quæstiones Peripatetica" in a book to which, in allusion to his adversary's name, he gave the puerile title of Alpes Cæsæ.
6. The system of Cesalpin is one modification of that ancient hypothesis which, losing sight of all truth and experience in the love of abstraction, substi- bis system. tutes the barren unity of pantheism for religion, and a few incomprehensible paradoxes for the variety of science. Nothing, according to him, was substance which was not animated; but the particular souls which animate bodies are themselves only substances, because they are parts of the first substance, a simple, speculative, but not active intelligence, perfect and immovable, which is God. The reasonable soul, however, of mankind is not numerically one; for matter being the sole principle of plurality, and human intelligences being combined with matter, they are plural in number. He differed also from Averroes in maintaining the separate immortality of human souls; and while the philosopher of Cordova distinguished the one soul which he ascribed to mankind from the Deity, Cesalpin considered the individual soul as a portion, not of this common human intelligence, which he did not admit, but of the first substance, or Deity. His system was therefore more incompatible with theism, in any proper sense, than that of Averroes himself, and anticipated in some measure that of Spinoza, who gave a greater extension to his one substance, by comprehending all matter as well as spirit within it. Cesalpin also denied, and in this he went far from his Aristotelian creed, any other
than a logical difference between substances and accidents. I have no knowledge of the writings of Cesalpin except through Buhle; for though I confess that the "Questiones Peripatetica" may be found in the British Museum, it would scarce repay the labour to examine what is both erroneous and obscure.
7. The name of Cremonini, professor of philosophy for above forty years at Padua, is better known than Cremonini. his writings. These have become of the greatest scarcity. Brucker tells us he had not been able to see any of them, and Buble had met with but two or three.d Those at which I have looked are treatises on the Aristotelian physics; they contain little of any interest; nor did I perceive that they countenance, though they may not repel, the charge of atheism sometimes brought against Cremonini, but which, if at all well-founded, seems rather to rest on external evidence. Cremonini, according to Buhle, refutes the Averroistic notion of an universal human intelligence. Gabriel Naudé, both in his letters, and in the records of his conversation called Naudæana, speaks with great admiration of Cremonini. He had himself passed some years at Padua, and was at that time a disciple of the Aristotelian school in physics, which he abandoned after his intimacy with Gassendi.
8. Meantime the authority of Aristotle, great in name and respected in the schools, began to lose more Aristotle. and more of its influence over speculative minds. Cesalpin, an Aristotelian by profession, had gone wide in some points from his master. But others waged an open war as philosophical reformers. Francis Patrizzi, in his "Discussiones Peripatetica" (1571 and 1581), appealed to prejudice with the arms of calumny, raking up the most unwarranted aspersions against the private life of Aristotle, to prepare the way for assailing his philosophy; a warfare not the less unworthy, that it
Buhle, ii. 525. Brucker (iv. 222) laments that he had never seen this book. It seems that there were few good libraries in Germany in Brucker's age, or at least that he had no access to them, for it is surprising how often he makes the same complaint. He had, however, seen a copy of the Alpes Cæsæ of Taurellus,
and gives rather a long account both
d Buhle, ii. 519.
⚫ Some passages in the Naudæana tend to confirm the suspicion of irreligion, both with respect to Cremonini and Naudé himself.