Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/17

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14
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

esses must take their course regardless of the fate of man? Notwithstanding all this, if we should still presume to maintain our faith in God as the author of the universe, what shall we say in explanation of the evil, strife and suffering which everywhere abounds? After profound spiritual struggles Böhme discovered answers to these questions which he published in his Morgenröte im Aufgang (1612). His thought moves in majestic symbols drawn from the Bible and the chemistry or alchemy of his time. He is however fully aware that these symbols can express the pure thought relations but very imperfectly. He was also well aware of the fact that his ideas went beyond the theology of the church. But he stoutly denied the charge that his ideas were heathen. “I write like a philosopher, not like a heathen!” He meets the first doubt with the idea of the presence of God’s power and nature in everything—in the human body as well as in the stellar spheres, and the latter must therefore be possessed of a kind of life—in human souls and throughout infinite space. As a matter of fact our bodies reveal the same elements as are found in the other objects of nature. In objective nature the divine activity is veiled; but in the mind of man it is clearly conscious. It follows therefore that we possess what is highest within ourselves and there is no need that we should seek it beyond the stars. He solves the second doubt with the idea that man must assume an original multiplicity within the divine unity, on the ground that multiplicity cannot be derived from unity, and moreover because opposition and difference are necessary conditions of consciousness: “A being incapable of experiencing contrasts could never become conscious of its own existence.” But multiplicity and contrast furnish the possibility of disharmony,