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chief virtues of the critic. Mere judging — “the blaming of this or the praising of that,” says Renan, “is the mark of a narrow method.” The contrast of manner that at once strikes us if we compare Renan with a critic of the old school like Dr. Johnson is something more than a mere opposition of temperament. Dr. Johnson, as we learn from Boswell, was “awful in his deportment,” and if any one ventured to disagree with him, “he roared him down.” Renan, on the other hand, tells us that he always entered so far as possible into the point of view of the person with whom he was talking, and said the thing likely to prove most agreeable to him.2 If the weakness of the old criticism was its narrowness and dogmatism, the danger of the new is that in its endeavor to embrace the world in a universal sympathy, it 1 Avenir de la sc., p. 199.
2 Souvenirs, p. 114.
(3) Philosophical and miscellaneous works: Essais de morale et de critique, 1859 (contains some of Renan's best essays, contributed originally to the Revue des Deux Mondes). - Questions contemporaines, 1868. -- la Réforme intellectuelle et morale, 1871. – Dialogues et fragments philosophiques, 1876. — Mélanges d'histoire et de voyages, 1878. – Discours et conférences, 1887.- l'Avenir de la science, 1890 (written in 1848). – Drames philosophiques, 1888 [Caliban, 1878; l'Eau de Jouvence, 1881; le Prêtre de Nemi, 1886; 1802 ; dialogue des morts, 1886; l'Abbesse de Jouarre, 1886).
Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse, 1883. — Feuilles détachées, 1892. — Ma Sæur Henriette, 1895 (first printed privately in 1862 with the title Henriette Renan).
- Lettres intimes, 1896 (Ma Sæur Henriette also appears in this volume as an introduction to the letters exchanged between Renan and his sister, 1842-1845). — Correspondance (between Renan and Berthelot), 1898.
Among the more important criticisms on Renan, apart from those of a distinctly polemical character and magazine articles too numerous to mention, are the following: Gabriel Séailles, Ernest Renan, 1895 (by far the most penetrating analysis that has yet been made of Renan's philosophy; it needs, however, to be supplemented by some critique that does ampler justice to Renan as an artist and historian). — Emile Faguet, in Politiques et Moralistes, ze série (1900). – Bourget, Essais de psychologie contemporaine (1883). – E. Scherer, Mélanges de critique religieuse (1860), Mélanges d'histoire religieuse (1864), and Vols. IV., VII., VIII., IX., and X. of his Études sur la littérature contemporaine (1863-1895). - Sainte-Beuve, Nouveaux lundis, Vol. II. (1862) and Vol. VI. (1863). – Jules Lemaitre, les Contemporains, Vol. I. (1884) and Vol. IV. (1889): Impressions de théâtre, Vol. I. (1889). - A. France, la Vie littéraire, Vol. I. (1889), and Vol. II. (1894). — F. Brunetière, Nouveaux essais sur la littérature contemporaine (1895) and Library of the World's Best Literature, Vol. XXI. (1897). – G. Pellissier, le Mouvement littéraire au XIX e siècle, p. 314 ff. (1894). — See also the histories of French literature of Petit de Juleville (editor), Lanson, etc.
should forget the task of judging altogether. “Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner.” Renan would rest his criticism on the “excluding of all exclusiveness,” 1 on an intellectual hospitality so vast as to find room for all the contradictory aspects of reality. “Formerly," he says, “every man had a system; he lived and died by it; now we pass successively through all systems, or, better still, understand them all at once. No one was ever more penetrated by the teaching of the Hegelian logic, that a truth, to become true, needs to be completed by its contrary. At first glance he would seem to be a new kind of sceptic, who, instead of doubting everything, affirms everything — which is, of course, only an indirect way of denying the absolute truth of anything. Yet we could fall into no more serious error than to suppose that Renan is a real sceptic. “Woe to the man,” he exclaims,“ who does not contradict himself at least once a day.” But there are some points on which he never contradicts himself, however much they may be overlaid in his later writings by irony and paradox. We can come at these essential affirmations more readily if we turn to that remarkable work of his youth, l'Avenir de la science, recollecting that though written in 1848 it did not appear until 1890, with a preface in which Renan avers
1 Avenir de la sc., p. 66.
2 Dialogues phil., p. ix. 3 Étude sur l’Ecclésiaste, p. 24. Renan ascribes this sentiment to the Hebrew writer, but in such a way as to make it his own.
G. Paris, Penseurs et poètes (1896). — E. M. de Vogüé, Heures d'histoire (1893).R. Allier, la Philosophie d'Ernest Renan (1894).-- A. Ledrain, Renan, sa vie et ses æuvres (1892). – James Darmesteter, Notice sur la vie et les auvres de M. Renan (1893). – Caro, l’Idée de Dieu et ses nouveaux critiques (1864). – P. Janet, la Crise philosophique (1865). – - F. Ravaisson, Rapport sur les progrès de la philosophie (1868). – Prévost-Paradol, Essais de politique et de littérature (1859). R. H. Hutton, Vol. II. of Essays Theological and Literary (1877). – G. Brandes, Eminent Authors of the Nineteenth Century (1887). – G. Saintsbury, Miscella. neous Essays (1892).
The following works are more biographical in character: J. Cognat, Renan, hier et aujourd'hui (1883). – Mary J. Darmesteter, la Vie de Ernest Renan (1898). G. Monod, Renan, Taine et Michelet (1894). — Sir M. E. Grant Duff, Ernest Renan (1893). – F. Espinasse, Life of Renan (1895); a Renan bibliography by J. P. Anderson, of the British Museum, will be found at the end of this volume.
that at bottom he has not changed in the interval. In the peculiar fervor of the cult it renders to science, the book marks a moment, not in the life of Renan merely, but of the century. We have but to listen to the dithyrambic tones in which he speaks of science to see that he has turned away from the faith of his childhood only to become the priest of another altar :
Science, then, is a religion ; science alone in the future will make creeds; science can alone solve for man the everlasting problems the solution of which his nature imperiously demands.” 1
After humanity has been scientifically organized, science will proceed“ to organize God.” 2
Renan has evidently carried over to science all the mental habits of Catholicism. As Sainte-Beuve remarks, “In France we shall remain Catholics long after we have ceased to be Christians." 8 Renan, indeed, may be best defined as a scientist and positivist with a Catholic imagination. For instance, he arrives at the conception of scientific dogma, 4 of an infallible scientific papacy,5 of a scientific hell and inquisition, of resurrection and immortality through science, of scientific martyrs.8 When scientific progress is at stake, he is even ready to resort to the Jesuitical doctrine that the end justifies the means,
“ Let us learn not to be severe with those who have employed a little trickery and what is usually known as corruption if they really have as their object the greater good of humanity."9 He promises us that if we imitate him we may hope to be, like himself, sanctified through science: “If all were as cultivated as I, all would be, like me, happily incapable of wrong-doing. Then it would be true to say: ye are gods and sons of the Most High.” 10
Renan thus has a special gift for surrounding science with an atmosphere of religious emotion. Like Lucretius of old, he lends to analysis an imaginative splendor that it does not in itself
1 Avenir de la sc., p. 108.
2 Ibid., p. 37
3 Nouvelle correspondance, p. 123. 4 Avenir de la sc., pp. 344 and 442. 5 Dialogues phil., p. 112.
6 Ibid., pp. 113 8 Ibid., p. 129.
9 Avenir de la sc., p. 351. and 120.
7 Ibid., pp. 134-135. 10 Ibid., p. 476.
possess. In this way, he attracts many who would have been repelled by a hard and dry positivism. They can have in reading him the pleasant illusion that, after all, they are making no serious sacrifice in substituting science for religion. “God, Providence, soul,” says Renan, "good old words, a bit clumsy, but expressive and respectable, that science will interpret in a sense ever more refined but will never replace to advantage.” 1 In other words, all the terms of the old idealism are to be retained, but by a system of subtle equivocation, they are to receive new meanings. Thus a great deal is said about the “soul,” but, as used by Renan, it has come to be a sort of function of the brain. “Those will understand me who have once breathed the air of the other world and tasted the nectar of the ideal.” 2 When this is taken in connection with the whole passage
where it occurs, we discover that “ tasting the nectar of the ideal” does not signify much more than reading a certain number of German monographs. Men, he tells us, are immortal, — that is, “in their works,” or “ in the memory of those who have loved them," or “in the memory of God." 3 Elsewhere we learn that by God he means merely the “category of the ideal.” By a further attenuation, the ideal has ceased to be the immediate personal perception of a spiritual order superior to the real world. – Of idealism in this sense there is more in one sentence of Emerson than in scores of pages of Renan. — It is simply the faith in scientific progress reinforced, as we have seen, in his own case, by a religious sensibility of unusual depth and richness. His creed, as he himself formulates it, is “ the cult of the ideal, the negation of the supernatural, the experimental search for truth.”4. In spite of the first article of this creed, Renan is like other positivists in his extreme distrust of the unaided insight or intuition of the individual. We should note how careful he is to rest his revolt from Catholicism, not on the testimony of the reason or the conscience, but on the outer fact. 5
1 Avenir de la sc., p. 476, and Études d'hist. rel., p. 419. p. 56. 3 Dialogues phil., p. 139 - Ibid., p. 5 See Souvenirs, pp. 176 and 205 f.
2 Avenir de la sc.,
The belief was once held, and in France with a firmer assurance than elsewhere, that truth might be attained by abstract reasoning. In Malebranche's dialogue, Théodore and Ariste shut themselves up in their room with drawn curtains so as to consult more effectually the inner oracle, and then start out from this luminous proposition: “Le néant n'a point de propriétés.” Renan, for his part, will be satisfied with nothing less than the entire overthrow of apriorism and metaphysical assumption. He regards “the slightest bit of scientific research ” as more to the purpose than “ fifty years of metaphysical meditation.”1 To be sure, every man has a right to his philosophy, but this philosophy is only his personal dream of the infinite, and has no objective value apart from the scientific data it happens to contain.2 Superficial readers of Renan are disconcerted when they learn that nothing he had done gave him so much satisfaction as his Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, the most aridly erudite of all his works, the one in which he has put the least of himself, according to ordinary standards. But what, Renan might reply, is a mere dream of the infinite, however artistically expressed, compared with the honor of contributing even a single brick to that edifice of positive knowledge which is being reared by science, and is destined to take the place of the air-palaces of the metaphysicians?
Renan is careful, then, to found his study of man not on introspection, but on the positive evidence of history and language. “ There is no science of the individual soul.” 4 This one phrase contains the denial of the old religion and psychology; but he offers to substitute for this traditional idea of human nature a definite image of humanity as it is revealed in its past. “The only science of a being in a constant state of development is its history."
." 5 History, therefore, rises at once into immense impor
1 Avenir de la sc., p. 163. ? Dialogues phil., p. 240, etc.
3 A bit of paper found in Renan's desk after his death had written upon it: “De tout ce que j'ai fait, c'est le Corpus que j'aime le mieux." 4 Dialogues phil., p. 265. 5 Avenir de la sc., p. 132.