Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/235

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213
A NEW MAN.

Descartes on "Method" especially gave our young thinker more immediate insight, for Descartes here unites to the history of his own development the foundations of thought in general, and of his own system of philosophy in particular. Just this support from the individual facilitated his progress to the universal.

The studies and investigations of our young friend had hitherto merely been extended to the limits of what had been done, showing the limit of the territory illuminated by extinguished emotional life. His mind was turned to the movements that agitated the world around him. Human nature and its peculiarities, and the wide kingdom of the manifold forms of nature around us here, with its governing laws, must now be learned. Is it impossible? Must it not be possible to ascertain the movements of immutable human nature as well as under similarly fixed laws we understand the natural life around us? Is our knowledge merely a knowledge of the dead, of the dead around us and behind us? Is it not a knowledge of life alone? ...

These were the questions to which his new studies led our young friend; a presentiment arose in him that he would be one of the first to fix the science of life. His friends were astonished by his affirming once in this sense that they who were aroused to real and conscious life must draw every-