History of the Conflict
Between
Religion and Science




 

Chapter V.

Conflict Respecting The Nature of The Soul. -- Doctrine of Emanation And Absorption.

European ideas respecting the soul. -- It resembles the form of the body. Philosophical views of the Orientals. -- The Vedic theology and Buddhism assert the doctrine of emanation and absorption. -- It is advocated by Aristotle, who is followed by the Alexandrian school, and subsequently by the Jews and Arabians. -- It is found in the writings of Erigena. Connection of this doctrine with the theory of conservation and correlation of force. -- Parallel between the origin and destiny of the body and the soul. -- The necessity of founding human on comparative psychology. Averroism, which is based on these facts, is brought into Christendom through Spain and Sicily. History of the repression of Averroism. -- Revolt of Islam against it. -- Antagonism of the Jewish synagogues. -- Its destruction undertaken by the papacy. -- Institution of the Inquisition in Spain. -- Frightful persecutions and their results. -- Expulsion of the Jews and Moors. -- Overthrow of Averroism in Europe. -- Decisive action of the late Vatican Council. The pagan Greeks and Romans believed that the spirit of man resembles his bodily form, varying its appearance with his variations, and growing with his growth. Heroes, to whom it had been permitted to descend into Hades, had therefore without difficulty recognized their former friends. Not only had the corporeal aspect been retained, but even the customary raiment.
 

The primitive Christians, whose conceptions of a future life and of heaven and hell, the abodes of the blessed and the sinful, were far more vivid than those of their pagan predecessors, accepted and intensified these ancient ideas. They did not doubt that in the world to come they should meet their friends, and hold converse with them, as they had done here upon earth -- an expectation that gives consolation to the human heart, reconciling it to the most sorrowful bereavements, and restoring to it its dead. In the uncertainty as to what becomes of the soul in the interval between its separation from the body and the judgment-day, many different opinions were held. Some thought that it hovered over the grave, some that it wandered disconsolate through the air. In the popular belief, St. Peter sat as a door-keeper at the gate of heaven. To him it had been given to bind or to loose. He admitted or excluded the Spirits of men at his pleasure. Many persons, however, were disposed to deny him this power, since his decisions would be anticipatory of the judgment-day, which would thus be rendered needless. After the time of Gregory the Great, the doctrine of purgatory met with general acceptance. A resting-place was provided for departed spirits. That the spirits of the dead occasionally revisit the living, or haunt their former abodes, has been in all ages, in all European countries, a fixed belief, not confined to rustics, but participated in by the intelligent. A pleasing terror gathers round the winter's-evening fireside at the stories of apparitions, goblins, ghosts. In the old times the Romans had their lares, or spirits of those who had led virtuous lives; their larvæ or lemures, the spirits of the wicked; their manes, the spirits of those of whom the merits were doubtful. If human testimony on such subjects can be of any value, there is a body of evidence reaching from the remotest ages to the present time, as extensive and unimpeachable as is to be found in support of any thing whatever, that these shades of the dead congregate near tombstones, or take up their secret abode in the gloomy chambers of dilapidated castles, or walk by moonlight in moody solitude.
 

The Soul.

While these opinions have universally found popular acceptance in Europe, others of a very different nature have prevailed extensively in Asia, and indeed very generally in the higher regions of thought. Ecclesiastical authority succeeded in repressing them in the sixteenth century, but they never altogether disappeared. In our own times so silently and extensively have they been diffused in Europe, that it was found expedient in the papal Syllabus to draw them in a very conspicuous manner into the open light; and the Vatican Council, agreeing in that view of their obnoxious tendency and secret spread, has in an equally prominent and signal manner among its first canons anathematized all persons who hold them. "Let him be anathema who says that spiritual things are emanations of the divine substance, or that the divine essence by manifestation or development becomes all things." In view of this authoritative action, it is necessary now to consider the character and history of these opinions. Ideas respecting the nature of God necessarily influence ideas respecting the nature of the soul. The eastern Asiatics had adopted the conception of an impersonal God, and, as regards the soul, its necessary consequence, the doctrine of emanation and absorption.
 

Asiatic Psychological Views.

Thus the Vedic theology is based on the acknowledgment of a universal spirit pervading all things. "There is in truth but one Deity, the supreme Spirit; he is of the same nature as the soul of man." Both the Vedas and the Institutes of Menu affirm that the soul is an emanation of the all-pervading Intellect, and that it is necessarily destined to be reabsorbed. They consider it to be without form, and that visible Nature, with all its beauties and harmonies, is only the shadow of God. Vedaism developed itself into Buddhism, which has become the faith of a majority of the human race. This system acknowledges that there is a supreme Power, but denies that there is a supreme Being. It contemplates the existence of Force, giving rise as its manifestation to matter. It adopts the theory of emanation and absorption. In a burning taper it sees an effigy of man -- an embodiment of matter, and an evolution of force. If we interrogate it respecting the destiny of the soul, it demands of us what has become of the flame when it is blown out, and in what condition it was before the taper was lighted. Was it a nonentity? Has it been annihilated? It admits that the idea of personality which has deluded us through life may not be instantaneously extinguished at death, but may be lost by slow degrees. On this is founded the doctrine of transmigration. But at length reunion with the universal Intellect takes place, Nirwana is reached, oblivion is attained, a state that has no relation to matter, space, or time, the state into which the departed flame of the extinguished taper has gone, the state in which we were before we were born. This is the end that we ought to hope for; it is reabsorption in the universal Force -- supreme bliss, eternal rest. Through Aristotle these doctrines were first introduced into Eastern Europe; indeed, eventually, as we shall see, he was regarded as the author of them. They exerted a dominating influence in the later period of the Alexandrian school. Philo, the Jew, who lived in the time of Caligula, based his philosophy on the theory of emanation. Plotinus not only accepted that theory as applicable to the soul of man, but as affording an illustration of the nature of the Trinity. For, as a beam of light emanates from the sun, and as warmth emanates from the beam when it touches material bodies, so from the Father the Son emanates, and thence the Holy Ghost. From these views Plotinus derived a practical religious system, teaching the devout how to pass into a condition of ecstasy, a foretaste of absorption into the universal mundane soul. In that condition the soul loses its individual consciousness. In like manner Porphyry sought absorption in or union with God. He was a Tyrian by birth, established a school at Rome, and wrote against Christianity; his treatise on that subject was answered by Eusebius and St. Jerome, but the Emperor Theodosius silenced it more effectually by causing all the copies to be burnt. Porphyry bewails his own unworthiness, saying that he had been united to God in ecstasy but once in eighty-six years, whereas his master Plotinus had been so united six times in sixty years. A complete system of theology, based on the theory of emanation, was constructed by Proclus, who speculated on the manner in which absorption takes place: whether the soul is instantly reabsorbed and reunited in the moment of death, or whether it retains the sentiment of personality for a time, and subsides into complete reunion by successive steps.
 

Emanation and Absorption.

From the Alexandrian Greeks these ideas passed to the Saracen philosophers, who very soon after the capture of the great Egyptian city abandoned to the lower orders their anthropomorphic notions of the nature of God and the simulachral form of the spirit of man. As Arabism developed itself into a distinct scientific system, the theories of emanation and absorption were among its characteristic features. In this abandonment of vulgar Mohammedanism, the example of the Jews greatly assisted. They, too, had given up the anthropomorphism of their ancestors; they had exchanged the God who of old lived behind the veil of the temple for an infinite Intelligence pervading the universe, and, avowing their inability to conceive that any thing which had on a sudden been called into existence should be capable of immortality, they affirmed that the soul of man is connected with a past of which there was no beginning,, and with a future to which there is no end. In the intellectual history of Arabism the Jew and the Saracen are continually seen together. It was the same in their political history, whether we consider it in Syria, in Egypt, or in Spain. From them conjointly Western Europe derived its philosophical ideas, which in the course of time culminated in Averroism; Averroism is philosophical Islamism. Europeans generally regarded Averroes as the author of these heresies, and the orthodox branded him accordingly, but he was nothing more than their collector and commentator. His works invaded Christendom by two routes: from Spain through Southern France they reached Upper Italy, engendering numerous heresies on their way; from Sicily they passed to Naples and South Italy, under the auspices of Frederick II.
 

Arabic Psychology.

But, long before Europe suffered this great intellectual invasion, there were what might, perhaps, be termed sporadic instances of Orientalism. As an example I may quote the views of John Erigena (A. D. 800). He had adopted and taught the philosophy of Aristotle; had made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of that philosopher, and indulged a hope of uniting philosophy and religion in the manner proposed by the Christian ecclesiastics who were then studying in the Mohammedan universities of Spain. He was a native of Britain. In a letter to Charles the Bald, Anastasius expresses his astonishment "how such a barbarian man, coming from the very ends of the earth, and remote from human conversation, could comprehend things so clearly, and transfer them into another language so well." The general intention of his writings was, as we have said, to unite philosophy with religion, but his treatment of these subjects brought him under ecclesiastical censure, and some of his works were adjudged to the flames. His most important book is entitled "De Divisione Nature." Erigena's philosophy rests upon the observed and admitted fact that every living thing comes from something that had previously lived. The visible world, being a world of life, has therefore emanated necessarily from some primordial existence, and that existence is God, who is thus the originator and conservator of all. Whatever we see maintains itself as a visible thing through force derived from him, and, were that force withdrawn, it must necessarily disappear. Erigena thus conceives of the Deity as an unceasing participator in Nature, being its preserver, maintainer, upholder, and in that respect answering to the soul of the world of the Greeks. The particular life of individuals is therefore a part of general existence, that is, of the mundane soul. If ever there were a withdrawal of the maintaining power, all things must return to the source from which they issued -- that is, they must return to God, and be absorbed in him. All visible Nature must thus pass back into "the Intellect" at last. "The death of the flesh is the auspices of the restitution of things, and of a return to their ancient conservation. So sounds revert back to the air in which they were born, and by which they were maintained, and they are heard no more; no man knows what has become of them. In that final absorption which, after a lapse of time, must necessarily come, God will be all in all, and nothing exist but him alone." "I contemplate him as the beginning and cause of all things; all things that are and those that have been, but now are not, were created from him, and by him, and in him. I also view him as the end and intransgressible term of all things.... There is a fourfold conception of universal Nature -- two views of divine Nature, as origin and end; two also of framed Nature, causes and effects. There is nothing eternal but God." The return of the soul to the universal Intellect is designated by Erigena as Theosis, or Deification. In that final absorption all remembrance of its past experiences is lost. The soul reverts to the condition in which it was before it animated the body. Necessarily, therefore, Erigena fell under the displeasure of the Church. It was in India that men first recognized the fact that force is indestructible and eternal. This implies ideas more or less distinct of that which we now term its "correlation and conservation." Considerations connected with the stability of the universe give strength to this view, since it is clear that, were there either an increase or a diminution, the order of the world must cease. The definite and invariable amount of energy in the universe must therefore be accepted as a scientific fact. The changes we witness are in its distribution. But, since the soul must be regarded as an active principle, to call a new one into existence out of nothing is necessarily to add to the force previously in the world. And, if this has been done in the case of every individual who has been born, and is to be repeated for every individual hereafter, the totality of force must be continually increasing. Moreover, to many devout persons there is something very revolting in the suggestion that the Almighty is a servitor to the caprices and lusts of man, and that, at a certain term after its origin, it is necessary for him to create for the embryo a soul. Considering man as composed of two portions, a soul and a body, the obvious relations of the latter may cast much light on the mysterious, the obscure relations of the former. Now, the substance of which the body consists is obtained from the general mass of matter around us, and after death to that general mass it is restored. Has Nature, then, displayed before our eyes in the origin, mutations, and destiny of the material part, the body, a revelation that may guide us to a knowledge of the origin and destiny of the companion, the spiritual part, the soul?
 

Erigena.

Let us listen for a moment to one of the most powerful of Mohammedan writers: "God has created the spirit of man out of a drop of his own light; its destiny is to return to him. Do not deceive yourself with the vain imagination that it will die when the body dies. The form you had on your entrance into this world, and your present form, are not the same; hence there is no necessity of your perishing, on account of the perishing of your body. Your spirit came into this world a stranger, it is only sojourning, in a temporary home. From the trials and tempests of this troublesome life, our refuge is in God. In reunion with him we shall find eternal rest -- a rest without sorrow, a joy without pain, a strength without infirmity, a knowledge without doubt, a tranquil and yet an ecstatic vision of the source of life and light and glory, the source from which we came." So says the Saracen philosopher, Al-Gazzali (A. D. 1010).
 

Al-Gazzali's Psychology.

In a stone the material particles are in a state of stable equilibrium; it may, therefore, endure forever. An animal is in reality only a form through which a stream of matter is incessantly flowing. It receives its supplies, and dismisses its wastes. In this it resembles a cataract, a river, a flame. The particles that compose it at one instant have departed from it the next. It depends for its continuance on exterior supplies. It has a definite duration in time, and an inevitable moment comes in which it must die. In the great problem of psychology we cannot expect to reach a scientific result, if we persist in restricting ourselves to the contemplation of one fact. We must avail ourselves of all accessible facts. Human psychology can never be completely resolved except through comparative psychology. With Descartes, we must inquire whether the souls of animals be relations of the human soul, less perfect members in the same series of development. We must take account of what we discover in the intelligent principle of the ant, as well as what we discern in the intelligent principle of man. Where would human physiology be, if it were not illuminated by the bright irradiations of comparative physiology? Brodie, after an exhaustive consideration of the facts, affirms that the mind of animals is essentially the same as that of man. Every one familiar with the dog will admit that that creature knows right from wrong, and is conscious when he has committed a fault. Many domestic animals have reasoning powers, and employ proper means for the attainment of ends. How numerous are the anecdotes related of the intentional actions of the elephant and the ape! Nor is this apparent intelligence due to imitation, to their association with man, for wild animals that have no such relation exhibit similar properties. In different species, the capacity and character greatly vary. Thus the dog is not only more intelligent, but has social and moral qualities that the cat does not possess; the former loves his master, the latter her home. Du Bois-Reymond makes this striking remark: "With awe and wonder must the student of Nature regard that microscopic molecule of nervous substance which is the seat of the laborious, constructive, orderly, loyal, dauntless soul of the ant. It has developed itself to its present state through a countless series of generations." What an impressive inference we may draw from the statement of Huber, who has written so well on this subject: "If you will watch a single ant at work, you can tell what he will next do!" He is considering the matter, and reasoning as you are doing. Listen to one of the many anecdotes which Huber, at once truthful and artless, relates: "On the visit of an overseer ant to the works, when the laborers had begun the roof too soon, he examined it and had it taken down, the wall raised to the proper height, and a new ceiling constructed with the fragments of the old one." Surely these insects are not automata, they show intention. They recognize their old companions, who have been shut up from them for many months, and exhibit sentiments of joy at their return. Their antennal language is capable of manifold expression; it suits the interior of the nest, where all is dark. While solitary insects do not live to raise their young, social insects have a longer term, they exhibit moral affections and educate their offspring. Patterns of patience and industry, some of these insignificant creatures will work sixteen or eighteen hours a day. Few men are capable of sustained mental application more than four or five hours. Similarity of effects indicates similarity of causes; similarity of actions demands similarity of organs. I would ask the reader of these paragraphs, who is familiar with the habits of animals, and especially with the social relations of that wonderful insect to which reference has been made, to turn to the nineteenth chapter of my work on the "Intellectual Development of Europe," in which he will find a description of the social system of the Incas of Peru. Perhaps, then, in view of the similarity of the social institutions and personal conduct of the insect, and the social institutions and personal conduct of the civilized Indian -- the one an insignificant speck, the other a man -- he will not be disposed to disagree with me in the opinion that "from bees, and wasps, and ants, and birds, from all that low animal life on which he looks with supercilious contempt, man is destined one day to learn what in truth he really is." The views of Descartes, who regarded all insects as automata, can scarcely be accepted without modification. Insects are automata only so far as the action of their ventral cord, and that portion of their cephalic ganglia which deals with contemporaneous impressions, is concerned.
 

Are Animals Automata?

It is one of the functions of vesicular-nervous material to retain traces or relics of impressions brought to it by the organs of sense; hence, nervous ganglia, being composed of that material, may be considered as registering apparatus. They also introduce the element of time into the action of the nervous mechanism. An impression, which without them might have forthwith ended in reflex action, is delayed, and with this duration come all those important effects arising through the interaction of many impressions, old and new, upon each other. There is no such thing as a spontaneous, or self-originated, thought. Every intellectual act is the consequence of some preceding act. It comes into existence in virtue of something that has gone before. Two minds constituted precisely alike, and placed under the influence of precisely the same environment, must give rise to precisely the same thought. To such sameness of action we allude in the popular expression "common-sense" -- a term full of meaning. In the origination of a thought there are two distinct conditions: the state of the organism as dependent on antecedent impressions, and on the existing physical circumstances. In the cephalic ganglia of insects are stored up the relics of impressions that have been made upon the common peripheral nerves, and in them are kept those which are brought in by the organs of special sense -- the visual, olfactive, auditory. The interaction of these raises insects above mere mechanical automata, in which the reaction instantly follows the impression. In all cases the action of every nerve-centre, no matter what its stage of development may be, high or low, depends upon an essential chemical condition -- oxidation. Even in man, if the supply of arterial blood be stopped but for a moment, the nerve-mechanism loses its power; if diminished, it correspondingly declines; if, on the contrary, it be increased -- as when nitrogen monoxide is breathed -- there is more energetic action. Hence there arises a need of repair, a necessity for rest and sleep.
 

Functions of the Nervous System.

Two fundamental ideas are essentially attached to all our perceptions of external things: they are Space and Time, and for these provision is made in the nervous mechanism while it is yet in an almost rudimentary state. The eye is the organ of space, the ear of time; the perceptions of which by the elaborate mechanism of these structures become infinitely more precise than would be possible if the sense of touch alone were resorted to. There are some simple experiments which illustrate the vestiges of ganglionic impressions. If on a cold, polished metal, as a new razor, any object, such as a wafer, be laid, and the metal be then breathed upon, and, when the moisture has had time to disappear, the wafer be thrown off, though now the most critical inspection of the polished surface can discover no trace of any form, if we breathe once more upon it, a spectral image of the wafer comes plainly into view; and this may be done again and again. Nay, more, if the polished metal be carefully put aside where nothing can deteriorate its surface, and be so kept for many months, on breathing again upon it the shadowy form emerges. Such an illustration shows how trivial an impression may be thus registered and preserved. But, if, on such an inorganic surface, an impression may thus be indelibly marked, how much more likely in the purposely-constructed ganglion! A shadow never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace, a trace which might be made visible by resorting to proper processes. Photographic operations are cases in point. The portraits of our friends, or landscape views, may be hidden on the sensitive. surface from the eye, but they are ready to make their appearance as soon as proper developers are resorted to. A spectre is concealed on a silver or glassy surface until, by our necromancy, we make it come forth into the visible world. Upon the walls of our most private apartments, where we think the eye of intrusion is altogether shut out and our retirement can never be profaned, there exist the vestiges of all our acts, silhouettes of whatever we have done. If, after the eyelids have been closed for some time, as when we first awake in the morning, we suddenly and steadfastly gaze at a brightly-illuminated object and then quickly close the lids again, a phantom image is perceived in the indefinite darkness beyond us. We may satisfy ourselves that this is not a fiction, but a reality, for many details that we had not time to identify in the momentary glance may be contemplated at our leisure in the phantom. We may thus make out the pattern of such an object as a lace curtain hanging in the window, or the branches of a tree beyond. By degrees the image becomes less and less distinct; in a minute or two it has disappeared. It seems to have a tendency to float away in the vacancy before us. If we attempt to follow it by moving the eyeball, it suddenly vanishes. Such a duration of impressions on the retina proves that the effect of external influences on nerve-vesicles is not necessarily transitory. In this there is a correspondence to the duration, the emergence, the extinction, of impressions on photographic preparations. Thus, I have seen landscapes and architectural views taken in Mexico developed, as artists say, months subsequently in New York -- the images coming out, after the long voyage, in all their proper forms and in all their proper contrast of light and shade. The photograph had forgotten nothing. It had equally preserved the contour of the everlasting mountains and the passing smoke of a bandit-fire.
 

Registered Impressions.

Are there, then, contained in the brain more permanently, as in the retina more transiently, the vestiges of impressions that have been gathered by the sensory organs? Is this the explanation of memory -- the Mind contemplating such pictures of past things and events as have been committed to her custody. In her silent galleries are there hung micrographs of the living and the dead, of scenes that we have visited, of incidents in which we have borne a part? Are these abiding impressions mere signal-marks, like the letters of a book, which impart ideas to the mind? or are they actual picture-images, inconceivably smaller than those made for us by artists, in which, by the aid of a microscope, we can see, in a space not bigger than a pinhole, a whole family group at a glance? The phantom images of the retina are not perceptible in the light of the day. Those that exist in the sensorium in like manner do not attract our attention so long as the sensory organs are in vigorous operation, and occupied in bringing new impressions in. But, when those organs become weary or dull, or when we experience hours of great anxiety, or are in twilight reveries, or are asleep, the latent apparitions have their vividness increased by the contrast, and obtrude themselves on the mind. For the same reason they occupy us in the delirium of fevers, and doubtless also in the solemn moments of death. During a third part of our life, in sleep, we are withdrawn from external influences; hearing and sight and the other senses are inactive, but the never-sleeping Mind, that pensive, that veiled enchantress, in her mysterious retirement, looks over the ambrotypes she has collected -- ambrotypes, for they are truly unfading impressions -- and, combining them together, as they chance to occur, constructs from them the panorama of a dream.
 

Explanation of Memory.

Nature has thus implanted in the organization of every man means which impressively suggest to him the immortality of the soul and a future life. Even the benighted savage thus sees in his visions the fading forms of landscapes, which are, perhaps, connected with some of his most pleasant recollections; and what other conclusion can be possibly extract from those unreal pictures than that they are the foreshadowings of another land beyond that in which his lot is cast? At intervals he is visited in his dreams by the resemblances of those whom he has loved or hated while they were alive; and these manifestations are to him incontrovertible proofs of the existence and immortality of the soul. In our most refined social conditions we are never able to shake off the impressions of these occurrences, and are perpetually drawing from them the same conclusions that our uncivilized ancestors did. Our more elevated condition of life in no respect relieves us from the inevitable operation of our own organization, any more than it relieves us from infirmities and disease. In these respects, all over the globe men are on an equality. Savage or civilized, we carry within us a mechanism which presents us with mementoes of the most solemn facts with which we can be concerned. It wants only moments of repose or sickness, when the influence of external things is diminished, to come into full play, and these are precisely the moments when we are best prepared for the truths it is going to suggest. That mechanism is no respecter of persons. It neither permits the haughtiest to be free from the monitions, nor leaves the humblest without the consolation of a knowledge of another life. Open to no opportunities of being tampered with by the designing or interested, requiring no extraneous human agency for its effect, out always present with every man wherever he may go, it marvelously extracts from vestiges of the impressions of the past overwhelming proofs of the realities of the future, and, gathering its power from what would seem to be a most unlikely source, it insensibly leads us, no matter who or where we may be, to a profound belief in the immortal and imperishable, from phantoms which have scarcely made their appearance before they are ready to vanish away.
 

Nature of Religious Impressions.

The insect differs from a mere automaton in this, that it is influenced by old, by registered impressions. In the higher forms of animated life that registration becomes more and more complete, memory becomes more perfect. There is not any necessary resemblance between an external form and its ganglionic impression, any more than there is between the words of a message delivered in a telegraphic office and the signals which the telegraph may give to the distant station; any more than there is between the letters of a printed page and the acts or scenes they describe, but the letters call up with clearness to the mind of the reader the events and scenes. An animal without any apparatus for the retention of impressions must be a pure automaton -- it cannot have memory. From insignificant and uncertain beginnings, such an apparatus is gradually evolved, and, as its development advances, the intellectual capacity increases. In man, this retention or registration reaches perfection; he guides, himself by past as well as by present impressions; be is influenced by experience; his conduct is determined by reason.
 

Effect of Registered Impressions.

A most important advance is made when the capability is acquired by any animal of imparting a knowledge of the impressions stored up in its own nerve-centres to another of the same kind. This marks the extension of individual into social life, and indeed is essential thereto. In the higher insects it is accomplished by antennal contacts, in man by speech. Humanity, in its earlier, its savage stages, was limited to this: the knowledge of one person could be transmitted to another by conversation. The acts and thoughts of one generation could be imparted to another, and influence its acts and thoughts. But tradition has its limit. The faculty of speech makes society possible -- nothing more. Not without interest do we remark the progress of development of this function. The invention of the art of writing gave extension and durability to the registration or record of impressions. These, which had hitherto been stored up in the brain of one man, might now be imparted to the whole human race, and be made to endure forever. Civilization became possible -- for civilization cannot exist without writing, or the means of record in some shape. From this psychological point of view we perceive the real significance of the invention of printing -- a development of writing which, by increasing the rapidity of the diffusion of ideas, and insuring their permanence, tends to promote civilization and to unify the human race. In the foregoing paragraphs, relating to nervous impressions, their registry, and the consequences that spring from them, I have given an abstract of views presented in my work on "Human Physiology," published in 1856, and may, therefore, refer the reader to the chapter on "Inverse Vision, or Cerebral Sight;" to Chapter XIV., Book I.; and to Chapter VIII., Book II.; of that work, for other particulars.

 

Communication of Knowledge.

The only path to scientific human psychology is through comparative psychology. It is a long and wearisome path, but it leads to truth. Is there, then, a vast spiritual existence pervading the universe, even as there is a vast existence of matter pervading it -- a spirit which, as a great German author tells us, "sleeps in the stone, dreams in the animal, awakes in man?" Does the soul arise from the one as the body arises from the other? Do they in like manner return, each to the source from which it has come? If so, we can interpret human existence, and our ideas may still be in unison with scientific truth, and in accord with our conception of the stability, the unchangeability of the universe. To this spiritual existence the Saracens, following Eastern nations, gave the designation "the Active Intellect." They believed that the soul of man emanated from it, as a rain-drop comes from the sea, and, after a season, returns. So arose among them the imposing doctrines of emanation and absorption. The active intellect is God.
 

Theory of Emanation.

In one of its forms, as we have seen, this idea was developed by Chakia Mouni, in India, in a most masterly manner, and embodied in the vast practical system of Buddhism; in another, it was with less power presented among the Saracens by Averroes. But, perhaps we ought rather to say that Europeans hold Averroes as the author of this doctrine, because they saw him isolated from his antecedents. But Mohammedans gave him little credit for originality. He stood to them in the light of a commentator on Aristotle, and as presenting the opinions of the Alexandrian and other philosophical schools up to his time. The following excerpts from the "Historical Essay on Averroism," by M. Renan, will show how closely the Saracenic ideas approached those presented above: This system supposes that, at the death of an individual, his intelligent principle or soul no longer possesses a separate existence, but returns to or is absorbed in the universal mind, the active intelligence, the mundane soul, which is God; from whom, indeed, it had originally emanated or issued forth. The universal, or active, or objective intellect, is uncreated, impassible, incorruptible, has neither beginning nor end; nor does it increase as the number of individual souls increases. It is altogether separate from matter. It is, as it were, a cosmic principle. This oneness of the active intellect, or reason, is the essential principle of the Averroistic theory, and is in harmony with the cardinal doctrine of Mohammedanism -- the unity of God. The individual, or passive, or subjective intellect, is an emanation from the universal, and constitutes what is termed the soul of man. In one sense it is perishable and ends with the body, but in a higher sense it endures; for, after death, it returns to or is absorbed in the universal soul, and thus of all human souls there remains at last but one -- the aggregate of them all. Life is not the property of the individual, it belongs to Nature. The end of man is to enter into union more and more complete with the active intellect -- reason. In that the happiness of the soul consists. Our destiny is quietude. It was the opinion of Averroes that the transition from the individual to the universal is instantaneous at death, but the Buddhists maintain that human personality continues in a declining manner for a certain term before nonentity, or Nirwana, is attained. Philosophy has never proposed but two hypotheses to explain the system of the world: first, a personal God existing apart, and a human soul called into existence or created, and thenceforth immortal; second, an impersonal intelligence, or indeterminate God, and a soul emerging from and returning to him. As to the origin of beings, there are two opposite opinions: first, that they are created from nothing; second, that they come by development from preëxisting forms. The theory of creation belongs to the first of the above hypotheses, that of evolution to the last. Philosophy among the Arabs thus took the same direction that it had taken in China, in India, and indeed throughout the East. Its whole spirit depended on the admission of the indestructibility of matter and force. It saw an analogy between the gathering of the material of which the body of man consists from the vast store of matter in Nature, and its final restoration to that store, and the emanation of the spirit of man from the universal Intellect, the Divinity, and its final reabsorption.

 

Averroism.

Having thus indicated in sufficient detail the philosophical characteristics of the doctrine of emanation and absorption, I have in the next place to relate its history. It was introduced into Europe by the Spanish Arabs. Spain was the focal point from which, issuing forth, it affected the ranks of intelligence and fashion all over Europe, and in Spain it had a melancholy end. The Spanish khalifs had surrounded themselves with all the luxuries of Oriental life. They had magnificent palaces, enchanting gardens, seraglios filled with beautiful women. Europe at the present day does not offer more taste, more refinement, more elegance, than might have been seen, at the epoch of which we are speaking, in the capitals of the Spanish Arabs. Their streets were lighted and solidly paved. The houses were frescoed and carpeted; they were warmed in winter by furnaces, and cooled in summer with perfumed air brought by underground pipes from flower-beds. They had baths, and libraries, and dining-halls, fountains of quicksilver and water. City and country were full of conviviality, and of dancing to the lute and mandolin. Instead of the drunken and gluttonous wassail orgies of their Northern neighbors, the feasts of the Saracens were marked by sobriety. Wine was prohibited. The enchanting moonlight evenings of Andalusia were spent by the Moors in sequestered, fairy-like gardens or in orange-groves, listening to the romances of the story-teller, or engaged in philosophical discourse; consoling themselves for the disappointments of this life by such reflections as that, if virtue were rewarded in this world, we should be without expectations in the life to come; and reconciling themselves to their daily toil by the expectation that rest will be found after death -- a rest never to be succeeded by labor.
 

Andalusian Civilization.

In the tenth century the Khalif Hakein II. had made beautiful Andalusia the paradise of the world. Christians, Mussulmen, Jews, mixed together without restraint. There, among many celebrated names that have descended to our times, was Gerbert, destined subsequently to become pope. There, too, was Peter the Venerable, and many Christian ecclesiastics. Peter says that he found learned men even from Britain pursuing astronomy. All learned men, no matter from what country they came, or what their religious views, were welcomed. The khalif had in his palace a manufactory of books, and copyists, binders, illuminators. He kept book-buyers in all the great cities of Asia and Africa. His library contained four hundred thousand volumes, superbly bound and illuminated. Throughout the Mohammedan dominions in Asia, in Africa, and in Spain, the lower order of Mussulmen entertained a fanatical hatred against learning. Among the more devout -- those who claimed to be orthodox -- there were painful doubts as to the salvation of the great Khalif Al-Mamun -- the wicked khalif, as they called him -- for he had not only disturbed the people by introducing the writings of Aristotle and other Greek heathens, but had even struck at the existence of heaven and hell by saying that the earth is a globe, and pretending that he could measure its size. These persons, from their numbers, constituted a political power. Almansor, who usurped the khalifate to the prejudice of Hakem's son, thought that his usurpation would be sustained if he put himself at the head of the orthodox party. He therefore had the library of Hakem searched, and all works of a scientific or philosophical nature carried into the public places and burnt, or thrown into the cisterns of the palace. By a similar court revolution Averroes, in his old age -- he died A. D. 1193 -- was expelled from Spain; the religious party had triumphed over the philosophical. He was denounced as a traitor to religion. An opposition to philosophy had been organized all over the Mussulman world. There was hardly a philosopher who was not punished. Some were put to death, and the consequence was, that Islam was full of hypocrites. Into Italy, Germany, England, Averroism had silently made its way. It found favor in the eyes of the Franciscans, and a focus in the University of Paris. By very many of the leading minds it had been accepted. But at length the Dominicans, the rivals of the Franciscans, sounded an alarm. They said it destroys all personality, conducts to fatalism, and renders inexplicable the difference and progress of individual intelligences. The declaration that there is but one intellect is an error subversive of the merits of the saints, it is an assertion that there is no difference among men. What! is there no difference between the holy soul of Peter and the damned soul of Judas? are they identical? Averroes in this his blasphemous doctrine denies creation, providence, revelation, the Trinity, the efficacy of prayers, of alms, and of litanies; he disbelieves in the resurrection and immortality; he places the summum bonum in mere pleasure.
 

Averroism in Andalusia.

So, too, among the Jews who were then the leading intellects of the world, Averroism had been largely propagated. Their great writer Maimonides had thoroughly accepted it; his school was spreading it in all directions. A furious persecution arose on the part of the orthodox Jews. Of Maimonides it had been formerly their delight to declare that he was "the Eagle of the Doctors, the Great Sage, the Glory of the West, the Light of the East, second only to Moses." Now, they proclaimed that he had abandoned the faith of Abraham; had denied the possibility of creation, believed in the eternity of the world; had given himself up to the manufacture of atheists; had deprived God of his attributes; made a vacuum of him; had declared him inaccessible to prayer, and a stranger to the government of the world. The works of Maimonides were committed to the flames by the synagogues of Montpellier, Barcelona, and Toledo.
 

Averroism among the Jews.

Scarcely had the conquering arms of Ferdinand and Isabella overthrown the Arabian dominion in Spain, when measures were taken by the papacy to extinguish these opinions, which, it was believed, were undermining European Christianity. Until Innocent IV. (1243), there was no special tribunal against heretics, distinct from those of the bishops. The Inquisition, then introduced, in accordance with the centralization of the times, was a general and papal tribunal, which displaced the old local ones. The bishops, therefore, viewed the innovation with great dislike, considering it as an intrusion on their rights. It was established in Italy, Spain, Germany, and the southern provinces of France. The temporal sovereigns were only too desirous to make use of this powerful engine for their own political purposes. Against this the popes strongly protested. They were not willing that its use should pass out of the ecclesiastical hand. The Inquisition, having already been tried in the south of France, had there proved to be very effective for the suppression of heresy. It had been introduced into Aragon. Now was assigned to it the duty of dealing with the Jews. In the old times under Visigothic rule these people had greatly prospered, but the leniency that had been shown to them was succeeded by atrocious persecution, when the Visigoths abandoned their Arianism and became orthodox. The most inhuman ordinances were issued against them -- a law was enacted condemning them all to be slaves. It was not to be wondered at that, when the Saracen invasion took place, the Jews did whatever they could to promote its success. They, like the Arabs, were an Oriental people, both traced their lineage to Abraham, their common ancestor; both were believers in the unity of God. It was their defense of that doctrine that had brought upon them the hatred of their Visigothic masters. Under the Saracen rule they were treated with the highest consideration. They became distinguished for their wealth and their learning. For the most part they were Aristotelians. They founded many schools and colleges. Their mercantile interests led them to travel all over the world. They particularly studied the science of medicine. Throughout the middle ages they were the physicians and bankers of Europe. Of all men they saw the course of human affairs from the most elevated point of view. Among the special sciences they became proficient in mathematics and astronomy; they composed the tables of Alfonso, and were the cause of the voyage of De Gama. They distinguished themselves greatly in light literature. From the tenth to the fourteenth century their literature was the first in Europe. They were to be found in the courts of princes as physicians, or as treasurers managing the public finances.
 

Suppression of Averroism.

The orthodox clergy in Navarre had excited popular prejudices against them. To escape the persecutions that arose, many of them feigned to turn Christians, and of these many apostatized to their former faith. The papal nuncio at the court of Castile raised a cry for the establishment of the Inquisition. The poorer Jews were accused of sacrificing Christian children at the Passover, in mockery of the crucifixion; the richer were denounced as Averroists. Under the influence of Torquemada, a Dominican monk, the confessor of Queen Isabella, that princess solicited a bull from the pope for the establishment of the Holy Office. A bull was accordingly issued in November, 1478, for the detection and suppression of heresy. In the first year of the operation of the Inquisition, 1481, two thousand victims were burnt in Andalusia; besides these, many thousands were dug up from their graves and burnt; seventeen thousand were fined or imprisoned for life. Whoever of the persecuted race could flee, escaped for his life. Torquemada, now appointed inquisitor-general for Castile and Leon, illustrated his office by his ferocity. Anonymous accusations were received, the accused was not confronted by witnesses, torture was relied upon for conviction; it was inflicted in vaults where no one could hear the cries of the tormented. As, in pretended mercy, it was forbidden to inflict torture a second time, with horrible duplicity it was affirmed that the torment had not been completed at first, but had only been suspended out of charity until the following day! The families of the convicted were plunged into irretrievable ruin. Llorente, the historian of the Inquisition, computes that Torquemada and his collaborators, in the course of eighteen years, burnt at the stake ten thousand two hundred and twenty persons, six thousand eight hundred and sixty in effigy, and otherwise punished ninety-seven thousand three hundred and twenty-one. This frantic priest destroyed Hebrew Bibles wherever be could find them, And burnt six thousand volumes of Oriental literature at Salamanca, under an imputation that they inculcated Judaism. With unutterable disgust and indignation, we learn that the papal government realized much money by selling to the rich dispensations to secure them from the Inquisition.
 

The Inquisition.

But all these frightful atrocities proved failures. The conversions were few. Torquemada, therefore, insisted on the immediate banishment of every unbaptized Jew. On March 30, 1492, the edict of expulsion was signed. All unbaptized Jews, of whatever age, sex, or condition, were ordered to leave the realm by the end of the following July. If they revisited it, they should suffer death. They might sell their effects and take the proceeds in merchandise or bills of exchange, but not in gold or silver. Exiled thus suddenly from the land of their birth, the land of their ancestors for hundreds of years, they could not in the glutted market that arose sell what they possessed. Nobody would purchase what could be got for nothing after July. The Spanish clergy occupied themselves by preaching in the public squares sermons filled with denunciations against their victims, who, when the time for expatriation came, swarmed in the roads and filled the air with their cries of despair. Even the Spanish onlookers wept at the scene of agony. Torquemada, however, enforced the ordinance that no one should afford them any help. Of the banished persons some made their way into Africa, some into Italy; the latter carried with them to Naples ship-fever, which destroyed not fewer than twenty thousand in that city, and devastated that peninsula; some reached Turkey, a few England. Thousands, especially mothers with nursing children, infants, and old people, died by the way; many of them in the agonies of thirst.
 

Banishment of the Jews.

This action against the Jews was soon followed by one against the Moors. A pragmatica was issued at Seville, February, 1502, setting forth the obligations of the Castilians to drive the enemies of God from the land, and ordering that all unbaptized Moors in the kingdoms of Castile and Leon above the age of infancy should leave the country by the end of April. They might sell their property, but not take away any gold or silver; they were forbidden to emigrate to the Mohammedan dominions; the penalty of disobedience was death. Their condition was thus worse than that of the Jews, who had been permitted to go where they chose. Such was the fiendish intolerance of the Spaniards, that they asserted the government would be justified in taking the lives of all the Moors for their shameless infidelity. What an ungrateful return for the toleration that the Moors in their day of power had given to the Christians! No faith was kept with the victims. Granada had surrendered under the solemn guarantee of the full enjoyment of civil and religious liberty. At the instigation of Cardinal Ximenes that pledge was broken, and, after a residence of eight centuries, the Mohammedans were driven out of the land.

 

Expulsion of the Moors.

The coexistence of three religions in Andalusia -- the Christian, the Mohammedan, the Mosaic -- had given opportunity for the development of Averroism or philosophical Arabism. This was a repetition of what had occurred at Rome, when the gods of all the conquered countries were confronted in that capital, and universal disbelief in them all ensued. Averroes himself was accused of having been first a Mussulman, then a Christian, then a Jew, and finally a misbeliever. It was affirmed that he was the author of the mysterious book "De Tribus Impostoribus."
 

Averroism in Europe.

In the middle ages there were two celebrated heretical books, "The Everlasting Gospel," and the "De Tribus Impostoribus." The latter was variously imputed to Pope Gerbert, to Frederick II., and to Averroes. In their unrelenting hatred the Dominicans fastened all the blasphemies current in those times on Averroes; they never tired of recalling the celebrated and outrageous one respecting the eucharist. His writings had first been generally made known to Christian Europe by the translation of Michael Scot in the beginning of the thirteenth century, but long before his time the literature of the West, like that of Asia, was full of these ideas. We have seen how broadly they were set forth by Erigena. The Arabians, from their first cultivation of philosophy, had been infected by them; they were current in all the colleges of the three khalifates. Considered not as a mode of thought, that will spontaneously occur to all men at a certain stage of intellectual development, but as having originated with Aristotle, they continually found favor with men of the highest culture. We see them in Robert Grostete, in Roger Bacon, and eventually in Spinoza. Averroes was not their inventor, be merely gave them clearness and expression. Among the Jews of the thirteenth century, he had completely supplanted his imputed master. Aristotle had passed away from their eyes; his great commentator, Averroes, stood in his place. So numerous were the converts to the doctrine of emanation in Christendom, that Pope Alexander IV. (1255) found it necessary to interfere. By his order, Albertus Magnus composed a work against the "Unity of the Intellect." Treating of the origin and nature of the soul, he attempted to prove that the theory of "a separate intellect, enlightening man by irradiation anterior to the individual and surviving the individual, is a detestable error." But the most illustrious antagonist of the great commentator was St. Thomas Aquinas, the destroyer of all such heresies as the unity of the intellect, the denial of Providence, the impossibility of creation; the victories of "the Angelic Doctor" were celebrated not only in the disputations of the Dominicans, but also in the works of art of the painters of Florence and Pisa. The indignation of that saint knew no bounds when Christians became the disciples of an infidel, who was worse than a Mohammedan. The wrath of the Dominicans, the order to which St. Thomas belonged, was sharpened by the fact that their rivals, the Franciscans, inclined to Averroistic views; and Dante, who leaned to the Dominicans, denounced Averroes as the author of a most dangerous system. The theological odium of all three dominant religions was put upon him; he was pointed out as the originator of the atrocious maxim that "all religions are false, although all are probably useful." An attempt was made at the Council of Vienne to have his writings absolutely suppressed, and to forbid all Christians reading them. The Dominicans, armed with the weapons of the Inquisition, terrified Christian Europe with their unrelenting persecutions. They imputed all the infidelity of the times to the Arabian philosopher. But he was not without support. In Paris and in the cities of Northern Italy the Franciscans sustained his views, and all Christendom was agitated with these disputes.
 

St. Thomas Combats Averroism.

Under the inspiration of the Dominicans, Averroes became to the Italian painters the emblem of unbelief. Many of the Italian towns had pictures or frescoes of the Day of Judgment and of Hell. In these Averroes not unfrequently appears. Thus, in one at Pisa, he figures with Arius, Mohammed, and Antichrist. In another he is represented as overthrown by St. Thomas. He had become an essential element in the triumphs of the great Dominican doctor. He continued thus to be familiar to the Italian painters until the sixteenth century. His doctrines were maintained in the University of Padua until the seventeenth. Such is, in brief, the history of Averroism as it invaded Europe from Spain. Under the auspices of Frederick II., it, in a less imposing manner, issued from Sicily. That sovereign bad adopted it fully. In his "Sicilian Questions" he had demanded light on the eternity of the world, and on the nature of the soul, and supposed he had found it in the replies of Ibn Sabin, an upholder of these doctrines. But in his conflict with the papacy he was overthrown, and with him these heresies were destroyed. In Upper Italy, Averroism long maintained its ground. It was so fashionable in high Venetian society that every gentleman felt constrained to profess it. At length the Church took decisive action against it. The Lateran Council, A. D. 1512, condemned the abettors of these detestable doctrines to be held as heretics and infidels. As we have seen, the late Vatican Council has anathematized them. Notwithstanding that stigma, it is to be borne in mind that these opinions are held to be true by a majority of the human race.

Averroism Anathematized.