Transcendentalism, or latest Form of Infidelity

Part I of II

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1845

Art. I. A Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion. By Theodore Parker. Boston : Charles C. Little and James Brown.    1842.    8vo. pp. 504.

We have nothing to add to the brief sketch we gave of the general character of the author of this volume in our last Review ; and very little to say of the volume itself, as a simple literary production, detached from the system in exposition and defence of which it appears to have been written. It is loosely, and even heavily written, in a flippant and affected style, and sins hardly less against grammar and rhetoric than against piety and truth. It bears the marks of haste, and seems to have been hurriedly thrown together, from the author's commonplace-book and the fag ends of his sermons and discourses, and sent forth to the public without his having taken the time or the pains to melt his heterogeneous materials down into a common mass, or to think out, so to speak, the principles he had rashly adopted, in their systematic relations, and logical connexions and consequences. It is crude, confused ; without method, order, systematic unity, or scientific development. As the production of a vain, conceited pedant and scoffer, it may pass ; but as the production of a scholar, a theologian, a man ambitious of contributing to the literature of his country, and establishing a high literary and scientific character of his own,  the less we say of it, the more shall we consult the credit of the author.

But we are not concerned with the author, nor with his book, save so far as one or the other is connected with the system he attempts to set forth, and is to be taken as its exponent.     This system we propose to examine,  not simply the author or his hook ; neither of which, separated from this system, which is not without numerous adherents, both at home and abroad, would deserve any serious attention. But this system, called ordinarily Transcendentalism, by Mr. Parker, Natural Religionism, and not inaptly, by Mr. Andrew's Norton, The latest Form of Infidelity, it is by no means easy to ascertain. Its expounders write on the principle, that u ideas are shy of being expressed in words, and must be suggested rather than stated." They professedly eschew clear and definite statements, and seem to hold that truth can be seen and judged of in its true proportions only as it looms up in the dim and uncertain twilight of vague and indeterminate expressions. This is, no doubt, a convenient theory for them, but it is exceedingly perplexing to readers who would understand what they read, and especially to reviewers who would be just both to themselves and their author. We are not a little perplexed, the moment we undertake to analyze Mr. Parker's book, and reduce it to fundamental propositions which may be clearly apprehended and distinctly stated. It is a book of many pieces. Its author abounds in contradictions no less than in loose and intangible statements, and sometimes brings together in the same sentence not less than two or three mutually contradictory systems. Nevertheless, after much toil and pains, aided by our own familiar acquaintance with the general subject, we believe we may compress what is systematic in the book, what the author most values, what constitute the bases of the Transcendental doctrines generally, within the three following propositions ; namely :  I. Man is the measure of truth and goodness. II. Religion is a fact or principle of human nature.
III. All religious institutions, which have been or are, have their principle and cause in human nature.

A single glance at these propositions reveals the character of the system. It is sheer Naturalism, and Mr. Parker himself calls it " the natural-religious view." Its advocates, however, profess to be religious, to be the especial friends of religion, and to have put a final conclusion to the controversy between believers and infidels, by having discovered a solid and imperishable foundation for religion in the permanent and essential nature of man. Man is religious because he is man, and must be religious or cease to be man. According to them, religion has its foundation, not in supernatural revelation, but in human nature, and rests for its authority, therefore, not on the veracity of God, but on the veracity of man ; and
as man can neither deceive nor be deceived, it of course must be eternally and immutably true ! They also affect to discover truth in all religions, and to accept it. But this does not take their system out of the category of Naturalism, because, 1, they recognize no religion as having been supernaturally given ; and, 2, because they acknowledge in religious institutions, which have been or are, nothing to be truth, which transcends the natural order, or which the natural faculties of man are not adequate to discover, and of whose intrinsic truth they are not competent to judge. All the rest they hold to be misapprehension or exaggeration of natural phenomena, or a mere symbolic way of expressing simple truths lying within the reach of natural reason.

This they all admit ; but they fancy that they escape the condemnation to which Naturalism as ordinarily set forth is justly exposed, by holding that religious institutions depend on what is permanent and essential in man, not on what is accidental and transient. Whence comes the institution of religion ? " To this question," says Mr. Parker, " two answers have been given,  one foolish, one wise. The foolish answer, which may be read in Lucretius and elsewhere, is, that religion is not a necessity of man's nature, which comes from the action of eternal demands within him, but is the result of mental disease, so to say ; the effect of fear, of ignorance combining with selfishness......The wise answer is, that religion comes
out of a principle deep and permanent in the heart,.....from
sublime, permanent, and universal wants, and must be referred to the soul, to the unchanging realities of life. "  pp. 13, 14. But this amounts to nothing ; for both the wise answer and the foolish agree in asserting that religion is of human origin, and that it, itself, not its necessity, merely,  comes out of human nature.    Moreover, what Lucretius regards as the result of mental disease, and rejects under the name of religion, the Transcendentalists   themselves  regard as springing  from the same source, and also reject under the name of the form, or symbol ; and all they hold to be true and permanent, as springing from the permanent and essential nature of man, and which they call religion, Lucretius himself accepts, as well as they, and holds to be eternally true, but is foolish enough to call it "nature."    The only real difference, then, between Lucretius and Mr. Parker, between the " foolish" answer and the " wise," is that the former, with all the world, calls what he contemns and discards religion, and what he retains and commends nature, but the latter is too wise to be guilty of such folly.

' Whatever, then, the merits of the system under examination, it is Naturalism,  nothing more, nothing less. The question, then, between us and Transcendentalism is the old question between Naturalism and Supernaturalism. Is man's natural relation the only relation he sustains to his Creator ? Have there been supernatural revelations, or are the so-called supernatural revelations explicable on natural principles ? Do man's natural forces  that is, what he is and receives by virtue of his natural relation to God  suffice for the fulfilment of his destiny ; or needs he the gracious, that is, supernatural, interposition and assistance of his Maker ? These are the real questions at issue ; and these questions Mr. Parker and the Transcendentalists answer in favor of nature against grace, of man against God. The validity and value of their answer is, then, what we propose to examine.

With these remarks, we proceed to take up, seriatim, the propositions themselves.    We begin with the first.

I. Man is the Measure of Truth and Goodness.

We do not understand the Transcendentalists to assert by this proposition, that man actually knows all truth and goodness, though from many things they say we might infer this ; but that man is the measure, the standard, the criterion of all truth and goodness,  the touchstone on which we are to try whatever is alleged to be true and good, and to determine whether it be true and good, or false and evil. Nor do we mean to assert that they are prepared to maintain even this in general thesis ; but that they do assert it, that they everywhere imply it, and that without assuming it their whole system would be a baseless fabric, and their doctrines and speculations the sheerest absurdities.

A slight examination of the leading views of Transcendentalists on the origin and ground of ideas will sustain our assertion. Transcendentalists may be divided into three classes. They all agree in their antagonism to the doctrines of Locke, as set forth in his Essay on the Human Understanding, and in asserting for man the inherent ability to cognize intuitively non-sensible, spiritual, or immaterial facts or realities. We say intuitively ; for we do not understand Locke himself to deny absolutely our ability to cognize such realities, but simply to deny that we can do it intuitively, and to contend that we can do it only discursively, by reflection operating on sensible data. The peculiarity of the Transcendentalists is in holding that we cognize them intuitively, immediately, instead of discursively. But in explaining the principle and fact of intuition, and its modes or conditions, they differ somewhat among themselves, and may, as we have said, be divided into three classes.

1.  The first class name the vis intuitiva the reason, and contend that the vorj^ara^ spiritual cognoscibles, or the immaterial realities capable of being known, are really exterior to and independent of the subject knowing, and are simply apprehended on occasion of the sensible phenomena by which they are rendered present.    Thus, they contend that the ideas of cause, of cause in general, necessary cause,in a word, all the Kantian categories, are entertained by the mind and applied to sensible phenomena, by actual intuition of the objects of these ideas,  not merely the ideas themselves  really existing in the non-sensible world.    Yet they call this non-sensible world reason, and represent these ideas, objectively considered, that is, as objects existing in re, not as mere mental conceptions, to be its constituent elements.    Taking ideas in this sense, as the object, the reason may be termed the regio idearum, or world of absolute and necessary truth.    It is impersonal and objective, and operates spontaneously, by an energy not human, but which is the energy of God, whose Word or Speech reason is. Containing in itself absolute ideas or absolute truth and goodness, the reason is a measure of truth and goodness ; and as it is divine, it must be an exact measure.    Whatever it pronounces true is true ;   whatever it pronounces beautiful is beautiful ; whatever it pronounces good is good.

But this reason, though declared to be impersonal and objective, is also assumed to be a faculty of human nature, a faculty of the human soul, its only light, that by virtue of which it is essentially intelligent, and knows all that it does know, whatever the sphere or degree of its knowledge. Hence, of two things, one,  either man is identical with God, intellectually considered, and it is God that sees in man, which must plunge us, in the last analysis, into absolute Pantheism ; or reason is human, an attribute, if not of the human personality, yet of man. This class of Transcendentalists deny that they are Pantheists. Therefore, they must regard absolute reason as a human faculty ; and then, since reason is the measure of truth and goodness, man himself, taken in his totality, if not in his simple personality, as the same measure. If, however, it be denied that this reason is human, and it be assumed to be God, as M. Cousin also contends, then man and God become one ; and as God is unquestionably the measure contended for, man must also be it ; because it matters not which term you use, Man or God ; since, if identical, what may be predicated of the one term may equally be predicated of the other. Therefore, in either alternative, this class of Transcendentalists assume that man is the measure of truth and goodness.

2. The second class, in which we are disposed to rank the author of the volume before us, do not, perhaps, differ very essentially from the first class, but they state their views somewhat differently. They hold that the ideas we have mentioned, and others of a like nature, if others there are, are intuitive, indeed, but are intuitions because they are inherent in the soul, are the soul itself, or its original garniture, endowment, or patrimony. They are the types of the world without us. Hence we cognize the world without us by reason of its correspondence to the type or idea within us. The idea or type of all cognoscibles is in us, and it is by virtue of this fact that we are intelligent and they intelligible. Knowledge is the perception of the correspondence between the inward idea and the external object. " But these [material things]," says Mr. Parker, " are to us only a revelation of something kindred to qualities awakened in ourselves......We see out of us only what we are internally prepared to see ; for seeing depends on the harmony between the object without and your own condition within." *(footnote: * Excellence of Goodness, pp. 3, 4.) Hence we know that this or that is true, beautiful, or good, only because it corresponds to the idea or type of the true, the beautiful, or the good in the soul itself. Hence, then, the standard, or criterion, or measure of truth and goodness is assumed to be in the soul. Nothing can be assumed to be naturally in the soul but the soul itself. " By nature," says Mr. Parker, " there is nothing in man but man himself." Man and the soul are identical; at least, the term man covers all that can be covered by the term soul. Then man is the measure of truth and goodness. Therefore, this second class adopt the proposition in question.

3. The third class, at the head of which stand Ralph Waldo Emerson, A. Brooson Alcott, and several notable women, do the same. These may be distinguished into two subordinate classes. They all agree that the soul knows, and can know, nothing exterior to itself; but the first division of these hold that it knows only by reason of the identity of subject and object, and therefore knows, and can know, only what it is. " What we are," says Mr. Emerson, (Mature, p. 92,) " that only can we see."    The soul knows not by seeing, apprehending, but by being ; and knows all, because it is all.     The second   division  and these   are  the   majorityhold   that the soul knows by containing, and that knowledge is the soul protending or projecting of itself.    u Not in nature, but in man, is all the beauty and worth he sees."Emerson, Essays, 1841, p. 120.   Objects are cognoscibilia, because they are contained in the soul; and the soul knows all, because it contains all.' The outward or sense world is phenomenal, unreal, a shadow without a substance, and  we abuse ourselves when we regard it, and the term knowledge, when we call perception of it by that name.    Knowledge is mscience, or science of what is within.    The true sage never looks abroad, but closes the external apertures of the mind,  shuts his  eyes, stops his ears, holds his nose, opens the internal aperture  through which he looks into the profound abyss of the  soul itself.    Look not, say they, upon this delusive, this vain show, which men call the world,  but into the great soul, which conceals all things in itself, even the infinite and eternal God !    "lam God," said Mr. Alcott, one day to the writer of this, " I am God ; I am greater than God.    God  is one of my ideas.    I therefore contain   God.    Greater is the container than the contained. Therefore I am greater than  God."    With the members of this class,  it is a mark of weakness, of littleness, of shallowness, to be intelligible.    Light is an enemy.    It defines objects too  sharply, and presents them in disagreeable outlines. It permits nothing to loom up or spread out in  dim and awful infinity,  allows the   soul   no scope   to   display its  loftier powers  and diviner instincts, to stand up and  swell out in its sublime proportions into the infinite and eternal God !

These, evidently, in either division, hold that the soul is the measure of truth and goodness ; for it must needs be the measure of what it is, and of what it contains. If it be truth and goodness, or if it contain them, it must be their standard or measure. The soul and the man are the same, at least so far as concerns the present question, as we have just seen. Therefore, this third class, as well as the other two, adopts the proposition that man is the measure of truth and goodness.
That  all  the   Transcendentalists,   of  whatever  class,   do adopt this proposition is still farther evident from the rule of faith and practice which they all avow and contend for. This rule, it is notorious, is that of unrestricted private judgment. They reject the authority of the Church, the authority of the Bible, of the Apostles, of Jesus,nay, all authority but that of the individual himself.

"Jesus," says Mr. Parker, " fell back on God, on absolute religion and morality,  the truth its own authority; his works his witness. The early Christians fell back on the authority of Jesus ; their successors, on the authority of the Bible,  the work of the ' Apostles and Prophets; the next generation, on the Church,  the work of the Apostles and Fathers. The world retreads this ground. Protestantism delivers us from the tyranny of the Church and carries us back to the Bible. Biblical criticism frees us from the thraldom of Scripture, and brings us to the authority of Jesus. Philosophical spiritualism liberates us from all personal and private authority, and restores us to God, the primeval fountain, whence the Church, the Scriptures, and Jesus drew all the water of life wherewith they filled their urns."  p. 483.

This is sufficiently explicit; for the concluding remark, about restoring us to God, simply means restoring us to ourselves, to God as he is immanent in each individual soul,  as is evident from what Mr. Parker elsewhere says.
" To obtain a knowledge of duty, man is not sent away outside of himself to ancient documents, for the only rule of faith and practice ; the word is very nigh him, even in his heart; and by this word he is to try all documents whatever." p. 216. " Jesus is not the author of Christianity, .... its sanction and authority......We verify its eternal truth in our soul."  p. 280.

The God to whom we are restored is, then, evidently, the God in the soul, and in each individual soul. If so, it is God in the soul, either naturally: or supernaturally. Not supernatu-rally, because Transcendentalism denies the supernatural. Then naturally. But then identical with the soul ; for, as we have found by Mr. Parker's own concession, p. 191, there can be by nature nothing in the soul but the soul itself.

Furthermore, the appeal is always made to the individual reason, conscience, and sentiment. In the individual is the authority before which all must bow, the tribunal before which all claimants must plead. The Transcendentalist summons all religions to his private bar, and assumes his right to judge them all. The Bible he holds to be the word of God so far as he judges it to be true, and not his word where he judges it to be not true ; holding that he has the right to decide by his own reason, conscience, and sentiments, what is true and what not. In like manner he summons before him Jesus and the Apostles, makes them answer to him, and tells them when they speak wisely, truly, and when falsely and foolishly. Christianity itself is amenable to the same authority.    " Christianity, then,
is a form of religion.....It is to be judged of as all other
forms of religion, by reason and the religious sentiment."  p. 240.    But the fact is notorious, and there is no need of proofs. We all know that the Transcendentalist denies the authority of the Church, of the Written Word, of Jesus, of Prophets and ¦ Apostles, of all inspired messengers,  and of the common assent or belief of mankind, claiming for each all that may be claimed  for the whole.     What Adam had, what   Caesar could, you have and may do."    If they speak respectfully of Jesus, it is as a model-man, because in their view he spoke out from his own mind, acknowledging no external authority, and in this set an example we all should follow.    Their leading doctrine is, that each man may and should be a Christ, and speak from his own proper divinity.

But, if our Transcendentalists recognize the unrestricted right of private judgment in all cases whatever, they must, in order to have a basis for that right, assume that each man is the measure of truth and goodness. Every judgment involves three terms,  the matter, judged, the judge, and the rule or measure by which the judge judges. Now', the rule or measure must be identical with the matter, with the judge, or distinct from both. The first is inadmissible ; for, though the matter must needs be the measure of itself, yet its measure is unascer-tainable, if measured only by itself. The third is denied by the denial of all authority out of the individual reason, conscience, and sentiment, to which the judge is bound to conform his judgments. Then, the second must be adopted, namely, that the individual is his own yardstick of truth and goodness, not only the judge, but the rule or measure of his judgment ; which is what the proposition in question asserts.
This will not be denied. The right of private judgment, as the Transcendentalists assert it, is the denial of all rules, measures, or standards, out of the individual reason, conscience, and sentiments, to which he is obliged to conform his judgments. Then either man judges without any rule, measure, or standard by which to judge, or he assumes himself as the standard.    The first is absurd ; for a judgment which has no
rule, which is by no standard, is no judgment at all. Then the last must be assumed, or private judgment is impossible, and the right of private judgment utterly baseless. Rights are not ultimate. They must have some foundation, or they are not rights ; and there is no foundation of the right of the individual to judge for himself, in all cases whatever, without regard to any external rule, but his right to judge by himself; and there is no foundation of his right to judge by himself, but in the fact that he himself is the rule, standard, or measure of the matter to be judged. The assumption of the right of private judgment, in the sense explained, then, necessarily involves the assumption of the fact, that man is the measure of truth and goodness. But the Transcendentalists do assume the right, as is well known ; therefore they assume that man is the measure of truth and goodness. This, in fact, is expressly avowed. We quote a few sentences from a pamphlet written in defence of Mr. Parker, by one of his friends, and which has been published since we commenced writing this article. The author is giving, exprofesso, the views of the sect, and on the very point before us.

"We believe," says the author of the pamphlet, "the truths that Jesus uttered in no degree because of the miracles he wrought; we believe them because our mind recognizes their intrinsic truth,.....and this we hold to be good ground of faith for all men.....God has given to all men the power to attain to a religious faith that needs no external evidence to support it.....The deepest, truest religious faith is not  capable of support from any outward evidence whatever.....Men have  recourse  to outward
evidence through the weakness of their faith.....The most deeply religious minds never, in any stage of their progress, have any thing to do with such gross outward helps to their belief. To tell them to believe on the evidence of signs and wonders, to offer to prop up their faith by argument and logic, is to do violence to all their deepest and most sacred feelings. With hearts overflowing with love, and reverence, and gratitude to God, seeing him in all that is glorious and beautiful around them, feeling him within and about them everywhere, walking in his presence daily, as with a 'Father and a Friend,'  what care such men for logic and cunning reasoning,  what care they for signs and wonders?    All around them is wonderful, for they see God in all.....Tell them a deep religious truth, and they cannot but believe it, though all evidence were against it. For truth is native to their sovls. God has made them of that natwe that they cannot be deceived. Their minds arc touchstones whereon to try all words and thoughts."  Remarks on an Article from the Christian Examiner, entitled, " Mr. Parker and his Views" pp. 6, 7.

This is as express as language can well be. Men are so made that they cannot be deceived, and their minds are touchstones on which are to be tried all words and thoughts. Do not imagine that the writer means to assert this only of a few gifted or singularly privileged individuals. No such thing. He intentionally asserts it of all men, for he continues :

" What these men are all ought to be. What these men are all can be. For God has made men of one nature, and has not left himself without a witness in any heart.    It is within the capacity of all men to reach this point of faith.....We have a religious nature, an inborn capacity for receiving truths of God, and heaven, and immortality, and all unearthly things. This is not intellect; it is not reasoning. It has nothing whatever to do with these. It cannot depend upon them. It is faith, the power of apprehending the unseen and invisible,  the power of rising from earth to heaven. We hold that this [faith] is most peculiarly a faculty of man as man. It is that which makes him man, that which raises him above and separates him from all other creatures."  lb. p. 7.

The fact that the writer calls the power by which we are enabled to affirm the truth in religious matters faith, and distinguishes it from intellect and reasoning, affects not our position ; for he calls it a faculty of man, the constituent element and distinctive characteristic of man as man. It is therefore human, is man himself, under a given aspect, and inseparable from his nature. His testimony is, therefore, all we could ask. Mr. Parker may not admit his authority, but that is nothing to us. He is a Transcendentalist ; and it is Transcendentalism, not Mr. Parker, we are mainly concerned with.

The writings of Mr. Emerson, who is as high authority on any point of Transcendentalism as we can quote without going abroad, contain not a little to the same effect. He teaches expressly that the soul is the source and measure of truth ; that a man is never to look abroad, but to consult in all cases only his own soul, the tendencies of his own nature, and in all his judgments of truth and goodness to listen to himself, and to take himself as their rule or standard.

" Whoso," he says, " would be a man must be a non-conformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred  but the integrity of our own mind.    Absolve yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.....What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? .... But these impulses may be from below, not from
above.....They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the
devil's child, 1 will live from the devil. No law is sacred to me but the law of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to this or that; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only ivrong is what is against it."  Essayst 1841, pp. 41, 42.

" That which I call right or goodness is the choice of my constitution ; and that which I call heaven, and inwardly aspire to, is the state or circumstance desirable to my constitution ; and the action which I in all my years tend to do is the work for my faculties." lb. p. 114. "In the book I read the good thought returns to me, as every truth will, the image of the whole soul. To the bad thought, which I find in it, the same soul becomes a discerning, separating sword, and lops it off. We are wiser than we know. If we will not interfere with our thought, but will act entirely, or see how the thing stands in God, we know the particular thing, and every thing and every man. For the Maker of all things stands behind us, and casts his dread omniscience through us over things."  lb. pp. 231, 232. " Let man, then, learn the revelation of nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely, that the Highest dwells with him.....If he would know what the great
God speaketh,.... he must greatly listen to himself. .... The soul
makes no appeal.  The faith that stands on authority is no faith.....
Great is the soul.....It believes always in itself. .... It calls the
light its own, and feels that the grass grows and the stone falls by a law inferior to and dependent on its own. Behold, it saith, I am born into the universal mind ; I, the imperfect, adore my own perfect.    I am somehow  receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook the sun and stars.....Thus viewing the soul, will come to see that the world is the perennial miracle the soul worketh."-lb. pp. 243-245.

These passages, taken almost at random, and to which many-others may be added, equally to our purpose, require no comment. The standard is assumed to be in man, to be man, man's constitution ; and all a man has to do, in order to be in conformity with truth and goodness, is to conform to himself, to his own constitution, his own thoughts, tendencies, and impulses. Hence the celebrated maxim of the Transcendental school,  " Obey thyself." All this expressly asserts or necessarily implies that man is the measure of truth and goodness.

Mr. Parker also assumes this as the ground of his argument from the existence of the sentiment in man to the existence of the object which it demands, out of man. He defines religion to be a sentiment natural to man, that is, springing from man's nature. But this sentiment, as its object, requires God to love, reverence, and adore. Therefore, God exists. His argument drawn out in form is, whatever natural want man experiences, for that want there is an external supply. Man wants an object to love, reverence, and adore ; therefore, such object is. He wants truth, therefore there is truth ; God, therefore God is. You may always conclude from the internal want to the external supply. " This general rule," he says, " may thus be laid down ;  that for each animal, intellectual, affectional, and moral want of man there is a supply,'- and what may be well to bear in mind, " a supply set within his reach, and a [natural] guide to connect the two."  pp.  188, 189.

It is on this ground that he holds sentiment to be as authoritative, if not even more so, than reason.    Detect in man a sentiment or a want, no matter what, and you may at once say that that which will supply it really exists and is within his reach.    Now, this conclusion is valid only on condition,  so to speak, of the truthfulness of human nature.    It assumes that human nature conforms in all things to eternal and unalterable truth, and is in itself a test or touchstone of what is true and good ; that is, as we have said, man is the measure of truth and goodness.    Truth is what conforms to my nature.    " Right or goodness," says Mr. Emerson, " is that which is after my constitution ; wrong, that which is against it."    If this does not make  man the standard,  the   measure,   we know not what would.    Hence, Mr. Parker says again, " the truth of the human faculties  [that is, conscience and sentiment, as well as intellect and reason] must be assumed in all arguments ; and if this be admitted, we have then the same evidence for spiritual facts as we have for the maxims or the   demonstrations of geometry."  p. 20, note.

But it may be objected that Mr. Parker does not make man the measure, for he holds up absolute religion and morality as the standard. " Religion," he says, " is the universal term, and absolute religion and morality its highest expression. Christianity is a particular form under this universal term ; one form of religion among many others. It is either absolute religion and morality, or it is less ; greater it cannot be, as there is no greater."  p. 240. Here evidently the standard is assumed to be not man, but absolute religion and morality.

But the objection is invalid ; for Mr. Parker makes man the measure of absolute religion and morality. Absolute religion and morality are declared by Mr. Parker to be " something inward and natural to man," p. 241,  " religion as it exists in the facts of man's soul,"" the law God made for man and wrote in his nature," p. 243, in a word, that which " answers exactly to the religious sentiment, and is what the religious sentiment demands," p. 239. If it be asked, then, What is absolute religion and morality ? the answer is, That which answers exactly to the moral and religious sentiments, wants, or facts of the soul. Conceding, then, that absolute religion and morality are the standard by which particular forms of religion and morality are to be judged, yet man is himself the standard or measure of absolute religion and morality ; which not only answers the objection, but confirms our general assertion,'that man is assumed to be the measure of truth and goodness.

That man is assumed to be the measure of absolute religion and morality is also certain from the fact that they are assumed to be matters of intuition. Man is the measure in all cases of intuitive knowledge, as Mr. Parker concedes, p. 263. But the great truths of absolute religion, or absolute religion and morality, (for Mr. Parker uses the two phrases as equivalent,) are declared to be " matters of direct personal experience," " matters of intuition," p. 247. Therefore man is assumed to be their measure.
This conclusion would follow from the ordinary and proper sense of intuition, that of knowing by immediate apprehension of the object known ; in which sense it is distinguished from science, which is discursive, and from faith, which depends on testimony. But it follows a fortiori from intuition as understood by the Transcendentalists. They understand by it, as near as we can seize their sense, the sentiment, feeling, or want of the soul, regarded, not as the characteristic of the subject, but as the intimation or indication of the object which will satisfy it. The sentiments are wants, but wants are indications of something wanted. What is thus indicated is said to be known by intuition, or to be a matter of intuition. The religious sentiment, for instance, is a want; hut, as a want, it demands God for its supply. It is therefore in itself an intimation, an indication, of God. Therefore the existence of God is a matter of intuition. To say that any given object is a matter of intuition is, then, simply saying it is what is demanded by an internal want or sentiment, and what answers to that sentiment or want. The intuitions depend, then, entirely on the wants of the soul, and are determined by them. The objects are known to be, not because intellectually apprehended, but because the internal sentiments demand them and are satisfied by them. Ascertain, then, the sentiments or wants, and what will satisfy them, and you have ascertained what is matter of intuition. The sentiments are, then, the measure of the truth and goodness of the objects, that is, the authority we have for saying the objects are, and that they are good. The sentiments are admitted to be facts of the soul, permanent, unalterable, essential ; therefore the soul itself; therefore man, under a given aspect. Consequently, the assertion, that absolute religion and morality are matters of intuition, not only invalidates the objection we are considering, but also confirms our assertion, that the Transcendentalists hold man to be the measure of truth and goodness.
But we have not yet seized the precise sense in which the Transcendentalists hold man to be the measure of truth and goodness. They distinguish, or attempt to distinguish, between man as person, and man as impersonal soul or nature, and predicate the measure of man in the latter sense, not in the former. This is an important fact, and must not be overlooked, if we would attain to a right understanding of Transcendentalism.

According to the Transcendental view, man is twofold : personal, as Peter, James, or John ; impersonal, as simple human nature, a force, or aggregate of forces, underlying the personality. Of the first they make no great account. It is the latter  which they call " Impersonal Reason,'' " Spontaneity," "Instinct," "Nature," "the Soul," " the great Soul," " the Over-Soul," " the Divine in Man," and which is supposed to enlarge its proportions as it frees itself and recedes from the restrictions and limitations of personality, and to expand at last into the infinite God, the background of all being, the substantiality of all existences, whether material or immaterial to which they refer when they speak in such lofty terms, and predicate such glorious attributes of man. Man, as mere person, is weak, and falls into the silliest errors, the grossest absurdities, the most degrading and debasing superstitions ; but as the impersonal soul, as freed from all personal restrictions and limitations, he is great, grand, noble, sublime, a god, walking the earth in majesty, and the master of all things.    If we will but sink our mean and contemptible personality, abandon ourselves to the soul, to its intuitions, spontaneous utterances and suggestions,  to the great unconscious nature that underlies us,  we shall find ourselves one with the Universal Mind, one with the Great Soul of All, whose dread omniscience and almightiness flow into and through us, opening all things to our intuitions, and subjecting all things to our power. Then are we the measure of all things, because one with their Maker, and do contain the source and law of all things in ourselves.    Hence, Mr. Emerson says :

" Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wis-dom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full centre of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment. Then you put all gainsayers in the wrong. Then you are the world, the measure of right, of truth, of beauty. If we will not be mar-plots with our miserable interferences, the work, the society, letters, arts, science, religion of men would go on far better than now, and the heaven predicted from the beginning of the world, and still predicted from the bottom of the heart, would organize itself, as do now the rose and the air and the sun."  Essays, 1841, p. 114.

And again,

" All goes to show that the soul in man is not an organ, but animates and exercises all the organs; is not a function, like the power of memory, of calculation, of comparison,  but uses these as hands and feet; is not a faculty, but a light; is not the intellect or the will, but the master of the intellect and the will;  is the vast background of our being, in which they lie,  an immensity not possessed and that cannot be possessed. From within or from behind a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all. A man is the fagade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. What we commonly call manv the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect; but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. And the blindness of intellect begins when it would be something of itself. The weakness of the will begins when the individual would be something of himself. All reform aims, in some one particular, to let the great Soul have its way through us ; to engage us to obey [that is, the impersonal soull "  lb. pp. 224, 225.                                                                   

" The heart which abandons itself to the Supreme Mind finds itself related to all its works, and will travel a royal road to particular knowledges and powers. For in ascending to this primary and aboriginal sentiment, we have come from our remote station on the circumference, instantaneously, to the centre of the world, where, as in the closet of God, we see causes, and anticipate the universe, which is but a slow effect......Persons themselves
acquaint us with the impersonal. In all conversation between two persons, a tacit reference is made to a third party, to a common nature. That third party or common nature is not social; it is impersonal ; is God."  lb. pp. 228, 229.

All this is express enough ; but here is another passage, still more express, if possible.

" It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns, that, beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect, he is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself), by abandonment to the nature of things; that beside his privacy of power, as an individual man, there is a great public power, on which he can draw, by unlocking, at all risks, his human doors, and suffering the ethereal tide to roll and circulate through him ; then he is caught up into the life of the universe, his speech is thunder, his thought is law, and his words are universally intelligible as the plants and animals. The poet knows that he speaks adequately, then, only when he speaks somewhat wildly, or * with the flower of the mind '; not with the intellect used as an organ, but with the intellect released from all service, and suffered to take its direction from its celestial life, or, as the ancients were wont to express themselves, not with the intellect alone, but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. As the traveller, who has lost his way, throws his reins on the horse's neck, and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find the road, so must we do with the divine animal we ride through this world. For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened into nature, the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is possible. This is the reason why bards love wine, mead, narcotics, coffee, tea, opium, the fumes of sandal-wood and tobacco, or whatever other species of animal exhilaration."  Essays, 2d Series, 1844, pp. 28-30.

These quotations sufficiently establish the fact that Transcendentalism does distinguish, in man, between the personal and the impersonal, and makes the impersonal, to the exclusion of the personal, the measure of truth and goodness. What, then, do Transcendentalists mean by the impersonal man, the great soul, the unconscious energy, of which they speak with so
much awe and emphasis, and to which they exhort us to abandon ourselves without reserve ? Whatever they may mean by it, this much, we think, is certain, that they include it in the definition of man, and that the distinction they make is a distinction between what they regard as the personal and the impersonal in man, not between man and something not man. They can, then, mean nothing more by it than simple human nature minus human personality. Ascertain, then, what in man is constitutive, or the essential characteristic, of personality, eliminate that from the conception or definition of man, and what remains will be at least all they do or can mean by the impersonal soul.

A person, in ordinary language, is a rational being, according to Locke " a thinking and intelligent being "; according to the Schoolmen, after Boetius, rationalis naturce individua substantia,  an individual substance of rational nature, and personality is defined by philosophers to be " the last complement of rational nature." A person must be an individual substance or being, because, in the language of the Schoolmen, a singular, not a universal,  a whole, not a part,  subsisting in and acting from itself as subject, not in and from another, and incommunicable, not held or shared in common ; and of rational nature, because individual substances not rational by nature or essence are never regarded as persons. We may have individual substances not rational by nature, as the stone, the plant, the tree ; and even individual substances which are up to a certain degree intelligent, as the dog, the ox, the horse, to which it would be rash to deny at least an imperfect degree, or the rude beginnings, of intelligence, without having persons, because these are not of rational nature. That, then, in man, which is constitutive of personality, its distinctive mark or essential characteristic, is not substantiality, nor individuality,  although, if these, or either of them, be wanting, there is no person,  but the rational nature. The rational nature is expressed by the word reason, therefore the essential characteristic of personality is reason. Where reason is, there is personality, and where reason is wanting, personality is wanting ; and, as we shall soon see, where personality is wanting, the reason also is wanting.
But personality is the last complement of rational nature, that is, rational nature brought to its terminus, fulfilled, or, if you please, realized. Man, regarded as the genus, as abstract human nature, is, no doubt, rational nature, but without its last complement,rational nature unfulfilled, a metaphysical rational nature,  a possible, but not a real, rational nature. It becomes real, is fulfilled, receives its last complement, only in individual men and women, beyond which it has no existence in re. It is impersonal, and, properly speaking, void. ^ Hence, we may say human nature attains to personality only in individualization,  is personal only as individualized because it is only as individualized that it receives its last complement, or becomes a real being.

There are, then, three points of view from which we may consider personality, and distinguish the personal from the impersonal. 1. We may consider the person as subject, and wish to note the fact that the person subsists in and operates from himself. In this case, we make, under this point of view, the mark of personality substantia, substance. 2. We may wish to denote by person, not abstract human nature, man in general, but human nature as fulfilled, realized, having its last complement ; and then, under this point of view, we add individua, make the mark of personality individuality. 3. But if we wish to distinguish persons from all beings or subsistences not persons, and to express the essential quality of personal natures, we make its characteristic reason.

Now it is only from these three, or some one of these three points of view, that it is possible to distinguish between the personal and impersonal. The Transcendentalists cannot adopt the first, because the impersonal of which they speak is to be taken as a substantive existence ; since they regard it as subsisting in and operating from itself as subject, not as an attribute, a function, an operation, or phenomenon of some other subject on which it is dependent.

Do they adopt the second ? They have frequently the air of doing so, and we are not sure but, to a very considerable extent, they really do intend by the impersonal soul the generic man, or man in general, as distinguished from the individual man. This is the most natural interpretation of their language. But, if this is their meaning, if by sinking personality they. mean sinking the individual and falling back on human nature as abstract human nature, they require us to fall back on human nature unfulfilled, wanting its last complement, in which sense it is a mere essentia metaphysica, and has no real existence, is no entity, and can be the subject of no act or operation : for, as we have said, human nature is real only as individualized in men and women.    Out of individuals it is an abstraction, existing, if you will, in conceptu, but not in re. It is the simple genus ; and genera are real, active, operative, only in substance, as they become substantia, and these, again, only as fulfilled, as they receive their last complement in becoming sub-sistentice. To sink individuality and fall back on generic man, or man in general, would be to fall back on a metaphysical abstraction, practically on nothing, and to take a nonentity for our sovereign guide or teacher.

We are not ignorant that the humanitarian division of the Transcendentalists exhort us to sink the individual and to fall back on our common humanity, and seem to teach that this common humanity is not merely that which each individual man realizes, but that it is, as it were, a mighty entity, a vast reservoir of wisdom, virtue, and strength, which individuals do not and cannot exhaust. We ourselves, especially during the interval between our rejection of Eclecticism and our conversion to Christianity, following Plato, the Neo-Platonists, Le-roux, and the Saint-Simonians, and some half glimpses of the teachings of the old Realists, whose doctrines we did not understand, fell into this absurdity, and sought to make it appear that humanity, not as the collective mass of individuals, but as genus, as out of all individuals, has a real, an entitative existence, and can operate as subject ; and that in this sense humanity is not what is common to all individuals, but a somewhat that transcends all individuals, and makes all individuals, manifesting itself in various degrees,  in one individual under one aspect, in another under another, and so on. An individual we regarded as a particular manifestation of a particular aspect or phase of humanity, as a particular act of an individual manifests some particular aspect or phase of the individual; and the mission of the individual we declared to be, through his whole life, the realization in his own thoughts, words, and deeds of that particular phase or aspect of humanity he represents. It was in this way we solved the old question of individuation, and found, as we supposed, a basis for the state, and legitimated, so to speak, individual liberty. Taking this view, we necessarily held humanity to be greater than the individual, nay, greater than all individuals together. Substantially, all Transcendentalists, so far as they admit a human existence at all, do the same.    They all say man is greater than men.

The common source of all our errors on this point is easily discovered ;  it is in the well known doctrine of the Transcendentalists, that the possible exists, not merely as possible, but in point of fact as real, and that what is possible is altogether more perfect than the actual. What you conceive is possible ; then it is possible. Then you affirm that it exists, though not yet realized,  i3 real in potentia, and what is real in potentia is superior to what is in actu. Therefore, regard not the actual, but fall back on the possible. To conceal the absurdity, we gave to the possible the name of the ideal, and then said, live not in and for the actual, but in and for the ideal. All very fine, no doubt, and admirably calculated to make old men see visions, and young men and maidens dream dreams, and, what is worse, tell their dreams.

But what is in potentia is no more in re than in actu, for it is a contradiction in terms to call the potential real. Moreover, the ideal, the possible, is always below the real, the actual, be-. cause it has never in itself the force to realize or actualize itself. The power to act is below act, because it must receive what it has not, before it becomes act, or is reduced to act. Here is the fundamental error, in denying this, and assuming potentia to stand above actus,  which is the terminus or last complement of potentia. Now, humanity in abstracto is at best only man in potentia. To assume, then, its superiority over individuals, who are its terminus, or last complement, or that, in sinking individualized humanity and falling back on humanity as abstracted from all individuals, or rather as emancipated from all individuality, we fall back on something higher, broader, and richer, is precisely the error of placing potentia above actus, the possible above the actual. Potentia is void ; actus is full.    Void is therefore superior to full, emptiness to fulness !