JPN Land - Arnold Geulincx and his works
The following article written in 1891 by Professor J.P.N. Land, the editor of the 189- editions of Geulincx’ works, contains an overview of Geulincx’ life and philosophy. This is an abridged version on the original article. Information contained in the article about the publication history of Geulincx’ work appears in the bibliography section of this website.
For a brief overview of Geulincx’ life, see our timeline.
[Under title of ” Arnold Geulincx u. die Gesammtausgabe seiner Werke,” this article (cp. MIND No.61, p. 160) originally appeared in the Arch. F. Gesch. d. Philosophie, iv. 1. The rendering here given (with consent of all the interested parties) will not only make Geulincx, for the first time, really known to English readers, but may also, it is hoped, help to secure an ampler recognition for Prof. Land’s labours in preparing the forthcoming collective edition of the philosopher’s works. Vol. i, will appear at midsummer, to be followed by ii. and iii, at intervals of a year.-EDITOR.]
SINCE Brucker’s time the name of Arnold Geulincx has been well known to every student of philosophy in connexion with the doctrine of Occasionalism. The Flemish thinker was prevented by the unfavourable circumstances of his time and by his early death from gaining his rightful place among the coryphaei of modern philosophy; still, his importance has now become more and more recognised, at least in Germany. Within the last years, many monographs have appeared dealing with various points of his doctrine, and with his relations to Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. His writings, meanwhile, have long been so rare that hardly anyone can have seen them all together, and, till a short time ago, no more was known of the circumstances of his life than was contained in the meagre notice of Paquot (1768). The Biographie Nationale of the Royal Belgian Academy (1) merely added to this some erroneous fancies. Now , however, by the diligence of Victor Vander Haeghen and Abbé G. Monchamp, we are much better instructed as to the first three quarters of his history. The former of these writers has also definitively settled nearly everything that concerns the bibliography of his author (2). Something remained to be discovered as to Geulincx’ last years, during which he taught at Leyden and wrote his systematic works. This I have myself extracted from the archives of our town and university. I now feel pretty confident that any further information we may obtain will be owing to some lucky chance. After a fourteen years’ search, I have, moreover, succeeded in getting together the complete material for a collected edition of Geulincx’ writings. The printing of them will begin in the autumn of this year (1890), with the help of what remains of the Spinoza-fund. I am, accordingly, in a position to lay before the reader the following account, first of the man himself, and then of the forthcoming publication of his writings.
Geulincx (the eu is pronounced as oe) was baptised in Antwerp on the 31st of January, 1624 (not 1625). He was the eldest son of the town’s messenger of Brussels. His parents were fairly well-to-do burgher people. Of their four younger children we know the names and the dates of baptism ; also that one son learned painting under the renowned Jordaens, and died in his thirtieth year, leaving a widow. Arnold, as may be conjectured, studied his trivium with the Augustine friars, who, next to the Jesuits, possessed most Latin schools in the Southern Netherlands. He went to the University of Louvain in 1640 or 1641, and was received into the’ Lily’ Paedagogium. In the four Paedagogia, at that time, nine months were first spent on logic, then eight on physics and metaphysics-all according to Aristotle. The last quarter of the philosophical course of two years was devoted to repetition. Ethics was taken on Sundays and holidays. All through, the students had to take part in disputations. The arrangement of the course of instruction, as we see, was the traditional Peripatetic one. The practice, especially in the matter of theses, was much freer than one would have thought likely; seeing that the country, both ecclesiastically and politically, held so fast to the old order. Even here, influences from the humanism and scientific movement of the time could not be prevented from forcing their way among the scholastic traditions. Of course, the necessary respect for form had to be observed; but, under this condition, occasions were continually presenting themselves for the introduction of novelties. Acquaintance with Stoicism and Epicureanism was obtained through the philologists, Justus Lipsius and Erycius Puteanus. Mathematicians and students of medicine could least of all withhold their interest from the newer positive discoveries. Under these and other such influences there had appeared, before 1638, the Augustinus of the theologian Jansenius, a Dutchman ; and, although his publisher, Libertus Fromondus, took side with the antagonists of Cartesianism, that book, expressing as it did a widespread conviction, showed how deep the opposition to Aristotle and Scholasticism had long since gone. In later years, the learned adherents of Jansenius and of Descartes were mostly the same men; and we have every reason to suppose that Geulincx’ occupation with that Augustinian theology prepared the way for his going over in his mature years to the reformed confession. For the development of his views, it is of special importance to note that one of his teachers in philosophy, Gulielmus Philippi, was a zealous Cartesian; declaring himself such, by his writings, as late as 1661-4, in a way that drew down the final condemnation of the new doctrine from the University. Gerard van Gutschoven, Philippi’s colleague in the medical faculty, was even a personal friend of the French master, and no less frankly attached to his philosophy. Geulincx took the degree of Licentiate in Arts with great distinction in 1643 (ten years later he calls himself Doctor of Philosophy). He next studied theology for a time, and gaiued the like degree of Licentiate ( on accouut of his age not before 1649). As a profession, however; at least at first, he chose the department of philosophical instruction. In 1646 he obtained a place in his Paedagogium. As one of the two Professores secundarii he had to give readings in the afternoon, especially upon a part of the Organon, with the books De Coelo and De Generatione et Corruptione, the Meteorologica, the Sphaera of Joh. de Sacrobosco, and Arithmetic ; also to preside at disputations. He was soon highly esteemed as an intelligent and ready lecturer; and in December 1652, when he had .just been promoted to the grade of primarius, he was entrusted with the treatment of the so-called Quaestiones quodlibeticae. These were no longer in his time a dialectical tourney among several magistri, but discussions by a single magister on questions of general interest. The themes, as it appears, were proposed to the disputant a short time beforehand; and he had to develop with intelligence and in agreeable form the reasons for and against. On this occasion it was asked, among other things, whether those who are busied with the sciences ought preferably to occupy themselves with the older or with the newer writers; whether riches, or the poverty usual in his state, is most profitable to a scholar ; whether women should be admitted to philosophical discourses; whether it becomes well-behaved youths always to dress in the fashion ; whether it is advisable to set good liquor before friends who come to pay you a visit; and generally every sort of question that could serve for the instruction or entertainment of all academical society. The intention evidently was to provid e for a festive assembly of teachers and scholars a few hours of intellectual amusement. Geulincx had a faculty of ornate and witty expression suitable to the occasion; but he had also very much at heart which he was desirous to commend, at least by hints, to the serious consideration of his hearers. In an allegorical introductory address, he opened a criminal session, in the name of supreme reason, upon the corrupters of science, who take the likeness for the thing, who do not hesitate to represent the world as ordered in the way we should like, or who presume to set up axioms, rules and whole systems according to their own good pleasure. Instead of their brain-cobwebs, an improved logic, with geometry and empirical science, ought to be studied; and then the attempt might be made at scientific explandtion of what is given. Also in the little discourses on the questions proposed for dispute, there is many a stroke disclosing Geulincx’ own thought upon far weightier matters and his low estimate of official science. The whole series, which occupied several sittings, must have been listened to both by friends and opponents with the closest attention. It was forthwith printed at Antwerp, with the author’s coat of arms, bearing the device serio et candide, on the title page. It also stirred up the conservative party in the University to active measures. Within a few days after the academic ceremony, the professor of medicine, Plempius (of Amsterdam), dispatched a circular letter to his colleagues soliciting a declaration against Cartesianism. Such a declaration he in fact received only from four theologians and one jurist. He had it printed in the appendix to the third edition of his Fundamenta Medicinae (1654) ; and with that he had to content himself. The letter does not mention Geulincx and his discourses; nor is the tone of the six opinions marked by any special animosity. Against the new philosophy are alleged, first, various theological and pedagogical scruples. Then the attack is directed in particular upon its repetition of long outworn thoughts of Democritus and Epicurus ; its unjustified paradoxes; its recurrence to God as the cause when at a loss for any other. Behind this enumeration of grievances, the chief motive of the protest lay unexpressed. If philosophical reform was allowed to break ill; the consequences, It was felt, were beyond all certain reckoning. Stability of school, church and social order were threatened. It was natural that good subjects and Catholics should be anxious; and their anxiety formed a resisting power which, now that Geulincx had publicly challenged it with such freedom of heart, constantly worked against him in secret. In no long time, it was destined to bring him down. Meanwhile, he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts (3) from March to September, 1654, and therefore still had the majority in that Faculty on his side. As one of the two primarii in the Paedagogium he had to deliver lectures in the morning-hours on the Isagoge of Porphyry, the Categories and the Andlytics, the Physics, with the books On the Soul and the Metaphysics of Aristotle. Even his opponents did not at all points swear in the name of this master; and he would not fail to interpose critical remarks of his own. So late as September, 1657, he was examiner along with four others for the degree of Licentiate in Arts. He was even designated for a canonry of the cathedral of Aix, but was not allowed to take possession of it; ostensibly because he did not succeed in proving the legitimacy of his parents’ birth. The reason may have been that the earlier church-registers of Antwerp were incomplete-which, after all the troubles in the Netherlands, would have been nothing extraordinary. Such a circumstance would be seized upon in influential quarters as a pretext for taking care that at least no ecclesiastical office fell to the dreaded innovator. Having kept him out of the canonry, his enemies were soon after to succeed, unexpectedly, in putting an end to his position at the University, and also to his residence in Louvain.
What really enabled them to strike the decisive blow in legal form is not stated in the official record. An earlier conjecture, in a first essay of mine on the fortunes of Geulincx (4), has been in part overthrown by a later discovery. With our present knowledge, it is now possible to put together the following circumstances. At the end of the year, 1658, in which he was deprived of his office, Geulincx married, in Leyden, a relation of his mother. His parents had come to Louvain to reside with their son in 1649, and the Susanna Strickers who afterwards became his wife may have come thither, from Weert near Antwerp; either on a visit or to help his mother, Mary Strickers, or after her death in order to act as housekeeper. In any case, her cousin had fallen in love with her, Before making her his wife, he would have to seek permission to retain his office in the University. Since he had been proposed for election as canon of the cathedral, he must have received minor orders-which, as is known, do not bind to celibacy. His teacher Philippi, who was Canon of Bruges, had been in similar case. On his marriage in 1630, Philippi had been empowered by the Council of Brabant (the highest court of justice in the Country) to retain his professorship of philosophy at Louvain, though such permission was to be confined to him. Still, Geulincx may have thought that, as there was no insuperable canonical hindrance to his marriage, and as an exception from the rule had been allowed in favour of his elder colleague, he might himself expect the like treatment. But this was in the eyes of the academical conservatives a very great scandal. Their following- had certainly been growing stronger within the last years; and they were able to convince the majority of the members of Faculties that it was high time to put a stop to the overweening- doings of the young neologist . The legal question, however, still remained open, and what its settlement would be was doubtful; the strength of the reforming party also could not prudently be underestimated. Accordingly the surest way was, after the manner of clerical tradition, to settle the affair in secret as quickly as possible, and, without alleging motives, to put the friends of the accused at once face to face with the accomplished fact. Geulincx lodged a protest with the Council of Brabant, and obtained an injunction allowing- him to retain his office provisionally. He may nevertheless have soon perceived that convictions such as his could not permanently be maintained in the academical circle of Louvain. Accordingly, while it was still spring, he betook himself to Leyden. He had little or no pecuniary means. Paquot will have it that his property was distrained by creditors. By none of his opponents is any dishonourable conduct laid to his charge.
The National University of Holland had always owed a considerable part of its fame to emigrants from the south. Scholars of any reputation who could not accommodate themselves to the Catholic government were readily received, and, if they joined the Reformed Church established in Holland, were given official posts as teachers. As to this, the decision rested with the Curatorium-a body which commonly consisted of four distinguished men representing the sovereign Provincial States, of the Burgomaster of the town, and of a secretary. It was thus a thoroughly political body. The interests it had at heart were freedom of instruction and the prosperity of the University-but, no less, external peace among the parties in course of formation and the education of citizens qualified to be of service to State and Church. The religious passions of the multitude and the pretensions of the Church-courts-the so-called class-assemblies of preachers ill each district-had at the same time to be constantly regarded. At present the aristocrats of the towns sat at the helm under the guidance of De Witt. Themselves not disinclined to freer views, they had yet, with the best intentions, to avoid giving room for violent changes. If they had completely disregarded the ecclesiastically-minded, they would have endangered both their own position and the preservation of the existing state of things, which, on the whole, gave satisfaction. They might easily provoke that new rising of the Orange party, allied with the clericals, which threatened them in those days. The adherents of the then existing order included Spinoza, who championed its principles in his political and theologico-political tractates, and was in friendly relations with the leading statesmen, so far as was permitted to a burgher and an excommunicated Jew. This, indeed, belongs to a somewhat later time ; but from 1654 to 1672 things remained generally the same. From these circumstances the relations between Geulincx and the University at which he now presented himself become explicable. In the highest places of the State there was no disinclination to moderate Cartesians. These were indeed natural allies of the ruling political order. The rulers, however, were not sufficiently firm in their seats to venture openly to recognise Cartesians as such. Senators who, from scientific interest, would willingly have done all that was in their power, colud only take the risk upon themselves with the necessary precautions. Now that the new doctrine had for years been a constant apple of contention among the students, the supreme government itself had in 1656, after many unsuccessful attempts at settlement, very strictly forbidden all mixture of theological and philosophical matters ; but without wishing to interfere with the freedom of philosophising. It was expressly ordered that teachers should keep within the limits of the received mode of instruction. The books of Descartes were excluded. According to the intention of that ordinance there remained open to those of another way of thinking only the press and opposition at disputations-under the condition that they expressed themselves temperately. In truth, to the learned whose intellectual needs were fully satisfied, by the ecclesiastical doctrine, by natural science or by philology, the new philosophy in the main appeared nothing but a troublesome intruder. Scholasticism tempered by humanism was, they thought, sufficient for the preliminary mental discipline of unripe youth. To what purpose, instead of keeping them to solid and profitable professional studies, let them involve themselves in the endless doubts and controversies of contemporary thinkers? And this at the expense of that harmony and settled conviction without which a successful activity in the service of the civil and ecclesiastical order was not to be expected? After all, the independent pretensions of philosophy had only been allowable in pre-Christian antiquity. For us, the most important questions had been settled once for all by the Gospel. At least in the universities then, let the traditionally guaranteed material for the formal strengthening of the judgment be still retained. If to One or another the philosophical impulse allowed no rest, let him wait till the age of manhood; there would be no objection then to his making what attempt he could to speculate for himself. How long the nature of things would endure such an artificial seclusion of the school from life, these cautious people did not care. The’ Philosophical Faculty,’ as it was pleased to call itself, was almost depressed to the level of a higher boys’ school; but, in compensation, it got rid of a heavy responsibility. we must not blame this too much. The growing philosophy was as yet too little developed to admit of its ends, its means and its dangers being so well surveyed as those old ones that had lived their life. A case in some respects parallel is the rivalry between classics and modern literature at the present day. The instruction into which it was proposed to introduce the Cartesian philosophy was, after all, principally propædeutic ; and the pedagogues of the time might well regard it very much as those of to-day regard the substitution of some literature that is now in process of development for classical culture. Thus it came about that even the three representatives of the philosophical branches in the Leyden faculty thought as Cartesians without being willing to teach in the same spirit. The moralist, Bornius, an adroit man of the world, whom Heydanus calls a Cartesian in disguise, came forward in his opening address of 1653 in the character of an eclectic, but recommended for beginners the tried conductor, Aristotle. De Raei, lecturing on physics, where it was already the accepted procedure to keep facts and explanations apart, could better afford to present modern theories as the more probable. The third philosophical representative of the faculty, Adriaan Heereboord, declared himself, in physics, on the side of the moderns. He was, however, a strict adherent of t be Reformed Church, for whom philosophy was subordinated, as Hagar, to the theological Sarah ; and, in his logic, he kept to the official leading-strings of Burgersdyck. To this man especially, Geulincx and his endeavours after philosophical reform must have been an annoyance ; the more, if he already knew that Geulincx had a way of opposing his own philosophy as Christian to the heathen Peripatetic philosophy. Not until after Heereboord’s death was the Southerner to succeed in conquering a post at the University.
It is remarkable that the true head of the party of progress was a theologian-the wealthy preacher and professor, Abraham Heydanus. The influence of this humane and cultivated churchman with the Curatorium and the government had already effected the nomination of his well-known colleague Coccejus, and had brought about many a softening of the decrees cauied through by the conservatives. From the beginning to the end of our thinker’s activity at Leyden, Heydanus was his protector and benefactor. Through him it, no doubt, was that Geulincx immediately went over to Protestantism. (The original attestation has been lost with the church-registers of the time.) On the 7th of May, 1658, he was matriculated by the Rector; it is noted that he had a household of his own. At the little open spot mentioned (Garenmarkt), and, as may be conjectured, in the same house, his bride Susanna Strickers was living with her mother when, towards the end of November, he had his name inscribed with hers in the register of mixed marriages. On the 8th of December she became his wife. The witnesses named are her mother and Geulincx’ brother-in-law to be, Sebastiaan van den Bosch. The family therefore was not opposed to the union, and probably had only gone with Geulincx to Holland on account of this, without joining him in his change of religion. The two members of the family who were present may have returned home at once. Perhaps that is the reason why no further trace of it is found. If, as may have been the case, the deceased father of the bride was the Arnoldus Strix or Strickers who had stood godfather at Geulincx’ baptism, that would have been an additional ground of scandal for the opponents of the marriage when it was first planned at Louvain.
To commend himself in his new surroundings as a man of learning, Geulincx had taken the degree of Doctor of Medicine on the l6th of September. That he intended to practise as a physician is at least doubtful; on the other hand a Medicina contracta is found among the transcribed volumes of lectures of which we shall have to speak later. From having been shortly before a celebrated faculty professor, Geulincx now, at first, found himself forced to depend on the proceeds of private lessons in subjects that were little in demand, and on the bounty of his patron Heydanus, An obstacle to his making way as a teacher was his Latin, formerly much admired, On the models furnished by Louvain, he had acquired a florid and somewhat mannered style, disdained in Leyden as unclassical. A native of Brabant and a man of sanguine temperament, his address had a certain exaggeration unpleasing to the simpler and sedater Dutch. Besides, he had been dismissed from his office on grounds that were not correctly known, and had come thither as a resourceless fugitive. To proceed at once to set up a household under such circumstances might seem to many a proof of unpardonable lightness of mind. Was it certain that such a man’s change of religion had been seriously considered ? Had not the good pastor been deceived ? So many foreign fugitives had met with a reception better than their deserts in the hospitable republic; and this had in no long time become manifest, Geulincx was accordingly almost everywhere received with reserve. This reserve and the ill-will and the calumnies of certain people, he was less likely than others to escape. In spite of all, there was discernible in the man a not insignificant force of mind, that might make of him a dangerous rival. Without good counsel and patience, he could not hope to reach his aim.
In the spring of 1659, and not till then, the academical Senate imparted to him the right to hold collegia, or private lectures before more than one hearer. This was, no doubt, in recognition of his degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The presidency at public disputations within the university building was granted by the Curators upon approbation of the Faculty; but not until late in the autumn, (Heereboord was not there, being at the time under ecclesiastical censure for having been found drunk in the public street,) The proviso was made that he should keep strictly within Peripatetic limits, and that the consent should always be revocable. He was also expressly refused all claim to further concessions. When in the following year he nevertheless made bold to apply anew for permission to deliver unpaid public lectures, Heereboord was again at his post, and he got for answer a refusal, together with a withdrawal of the permission previously granted. The decision, however, was not officially communicated till four months afterwards. For the rest, it was the habit of the Dutch regents to comply with public opinion or with the stronger party by severe decrees, and then, by carrying them out as mildly as possible, to shelter those who were aimed at. In June, 1661, the right of public instruction without title or payment was granted to yet another Peripatetic, of the ordinary stamp, David Stuart. Eight days after, Geulincx’ worst antagonist, Heereboord, died, and he could again try to get a hearing from the Curators.
This time he began by writing his Logica fundamentis suis, a quibus hactenus collapsa fueerat, restituta. For the dedication, the Supreme Council rewarded him, in August, 1662, with seventy gulden and a poorly paid Readership. The intention of the Council was doubtless to open a backdoor for that new philosophy which, in presence of the dominant prejudices and the existing regulations, they dared not bring into the foreground. By this means they hoped to content many students and their advocates, and to prevent the University from falling behind the times. Whoever was offended had at any rate the consolation that David Stuart was raised to the rank of Professor extraordinaris. The received logic thereby kept its precedence, and was not to lose it in case of further promotions. Yet Geulincx’ appointment was, after all earlier measures, a considerable event. For the first time, a philosophical chair in the University was assigned to an independent thinker; and it was granted at the very moment when he had shown that the Peripatetic clause in his installation could be to him nothing but a dead letter. This was attested anew by his inaugural address of the 14th October, De removendis parergis et nitore conciliando disciplinis. Without mentioning the scouted name of Descartes, he delivered strokes pointed with wit against the chief faults of the old method-the widely expatiating introductions, the premature discussions upon deeper questions, all the historical and rhetorical rubbish with which the simplest things were heaped over and obscured. Through such evil circumstances, logic had fallen into contempt with many. Others held that innate thinking powers enabled them pretty well to dispense with it. And yet logic was nothing less than the science of the intellect, and, as such, of far more moment than even mathematical and physical inquiries. “Sed generosae mentes,” ran the conclusion of the address, “exsolvunt se istis praejudiciis ; malunt secum quam cum corpore versari. Et hisce logicam placere necessum est; sea genuinam logicam, nam in spuriam illam merito debacchantur ; illa mihi juxta ac illis illvisa semper erit.” with such an outspoken declaration did the new prælector stand forth against the old School-still excessively powerful. And in that place, as Geulincx knew, he had nothing to expect, in face of its enmity and the indifference of most of those who despised it, but permanent poverty and neglect. Yet, if, like the Professores ordinarii, he had chosen to make a few dexterous concessions, he possessed talent enough to secure for himself a more brilliant lot, as they had so excellently succeeded in doing. Unlike them, however, he was a man of character, and awaited his victory from truth and supreme reason. For the moment he did not seem to have miscalculated. After a few months he could, without hindrance, open disputations upon physical and ethical sllbjects. In the summer of 1663 the dedication of the Methodus inveniendi argumenta was rewarded by the Curators with sixty gulden. This was followed by an increase of stipend in the autumn of 1664. In the succeeding year there was a new edition of the Louvain Quaestiones quodlibeticae under the more classical title of Saturnalia. Geulincx’ Latin was now choicer than it had been at Louvain ; the contents of the book were adapted to the ways of thought of republican and protestant readers; elucidations were also added to a part of the introduction. The book was dedicated to a nobleman of Zealand ; and from the dedication we learn that this nobleman’s nephew had lived in Geulincx’ house as a pupil since his appointment three years before.
The first tractate on Ethics appeared at the same time. This brought Geulincx an honorarium of thirty gulden. It was also the cause of his being raised to the rank of Professor extraordinarius. He did not, with the step in academical precedence, gain an increase of stipend; but instead of this he was granted free residence in the States-College or national boarding-house for theologians. The post of Sub-regent of that establishment was then vacant, and the number of alumni so small that there was no haste in filling it up. To hand it over entirely to an enlightened innovator was more than could be ventured on in face of the clericals ; especially as the College had acquired a dubious reputation in the Remonstrant quarrels of half-a-century before, even falling under the suspicion of being a hot-bed of Catholicism. Geulincx, therefore, had to be satisfied with the family-residence that stood empty. In return for it he may have given some services as Repetent. Many members of the foundation would have occasion to take part in disputations under him.
For the third time he had to deliver an academical address. This time he chose for a theme the contempt into which even the most precious things fall among men when they think them too well known. Especially is this true, as he proceeded to set forth, of our own reason, whose utterances are far less regarded than the shows of sense and fantasy; although these have their source in the bodily life, radically foreign to the soul, and can only darken the knowledge of our self and of its true interests. Here is the key to Geulincx’ whole view of philosophy. The dualism of mind and body is for him a determined fact. What he proposed was to develop the mental life from its own principles, independently of all that may be outside, and to bring it into settled order. Hence he conceives of physics as a merely hypothetical explandtion of what is given in perception. Logic and metaphysics, on the other hand, have to lay their foundations in indubitable facts, and thereby to prepare for an apodictically certain ethics. Natural science he claims to have treated as rationally as possible, in attachment to experimental research; but he devotes himself by preference to the sciences of mind. In these there is no need to wait for isolated indications from the external world, but everpresent reason gives the securest direction for the guidance of life conformably to its demands. And ethical science was not for Geulincx merely the business of the learned classes. Besides continuing his ethical and physical disputations, and immediately opelling others upon the foulldations of metaphysics, he translated his first ethical tract ate into the language of the country. The translation is a model of Flemish style; already to be remarked in the charming preface with which he seizes the occasion for commending this work also to the Curators(5).
They had already given him permission to deliver ethical lectures (Feb. 1667), and had raised his stipend to 700 gulden, Whether, in exchange, he had to give up his residence in the College is uncertain, It was not until the late autumn of 1608 that the Peripatetic Spinaeus was installed as Sub-regent. No compensation was then assigned to the temporary resident. Nor was Geulincx invited to a University-feast ill honour of Spinaeus and others who had been newly nominated, His well-wishers did not feel entitled to attempt anything which, to no purpose, would have called forth lively opposition. Yet they put in his way what they could, For example, the Presideut of the Collegium Oratorium, George Hornius, having long been absent on account of a mental malady , Geulincx received the charge of conducting the exercises. The definite appointment was made as late as the 1st of June, 1669; but possibly Geulincx had already begun with the exercises in private, we have still, at least, the notes of his lectures under the above title (Collegium Oratorium). They were even published towards the end of the century at Amsterdam.
Geulincx was yet only forty-five years old; but now the remaining days of his life were numbered. He was not, like Spinoza-who, born nearly nine years after him, reached about the same age-snatched away by an insidious disease. Quite unexpectedly he was to fall a victim, along with many of his colleagues-among them Coccejus-to one of those plagues by which the town, as late as the seventeenth century, was often desolated. The descriptions of the medical eyewitnesses are unintelligible to the physicians of today, and the nature of the disease cannot be determined with certainty. Some think it was typhus; others that it was a particularly bad kind of malaria. Melancholy experience keeps us still familiar with both diseases at the present day, though within a smaller circuit. From July to November, 1669 there died, among others, the chief magistrate of the town, four ruling burgomasters, more than half the council, and, in sum, two or three hundred persons every week, mostly of the better-to-do classes. The academical lectures could not recommence till the 21st of November-instead of immediately after the dog-days. The day before they began, the venerable Heydanus delivered in the theological auditorium an introductory discourse in which he mentioned for honourable rememberance his own wife and many a friend and official colleague. The University had lost, among others, two philosophers. One was David Stuart, who had just repaired to Paris and was about to be operated upon by a Parisian expert for the stone. With him perished “copiosa illa logicae artis supellex, et distinctionum innumerabilium apparatus, et eclecticae philosophiae quam promittebat, spes omnis quam ostentabat”. So that even the erudition-crammed representative of the official logic had not remained quite untouched by the movement of the time. The other death was that of oUr Geulincx-”ille quidem illgenio felix et eloquio disertus, ut nisi paupertas (illa quidem bonae mentis mater, sed magnum, ne emergant qui cum illa conflictantur, impedimentum) obstitisset, inter excellentes hujus seculi philosophos et oratores nomen et decus tueri potuerit”.
I have not been able to discover either the date and place of his death or where he is buried. On the 8th of November he was still among the living; his last quarters stipend having been paid only twelve days before that obituary record was dedicated to him. On the 27th, the Curators decided, at the petition of his widow, to allot to her, “for the support of her family, on the ground of compassion,” a pension of a hundred gulden a year for two years, not to be increased. The accounts, which have been well preserved, show that the money was never received. Already at the beginning of January the poor woman had to be carried to the grave at the expense of the Senate; and there is no further mention of the family, whose very existence is only known of from the decision as to the pension. Perhaps the children also had in the meantime succumbed to the still-prevailing disease.
No letters or other papers have been preserved; and this is easily explicable if, as may be conjectured from all indications, the household had been extinguished in a few weeks. Indifferent under-Officials, to whom the care fell of the little that had been left, would destroy everything combustible as dangerous to health. Of a portrait, in Geulincx’ circumstances, there could scarcely have been question. His handwriting we possess only in the official records of the Senate, in which he had three times to subscribe the form of a receipt for disputation-dues to the amount of a few gulden. The editors of his lecture-volumes between 1675 and 1696 had already to content themselves with copies made by pupils. One of these pupils was Bontekoe, who would certainly have spared no pains to get possession of the originals.
Such an end in the prime of life we at first lament as untimely. The best that the thinker had to give had never yet seemed to him fit to go beyond the narrow bounds of the lecture-room into the great world. We should have liked to see the indefatigable teacher attain the highest academical rank, become a famous speaker and writer, and take part in the progress of his science amid universal recognition. But, on closer consideration, it becomes plain that, so far as Geulincx might have promised himself any important external result of his struggle with fortune, he was spared many & bitter disenchantment. No more than four years after his decease, the Cartesian movement, which we have seen arduously maintaining itself at the University , was forcibly suppressed by the victorious Orange party and the strict clericals joined with it. Theodore Kranen, the last representative of Cartesianism in logic and metaphysics, was transferred to the medical Faculty. All chairs, as they became vacant, were filled up with adherents of the Peripatetic tradition; and so, in the end, this alone could make itself heard within the University. The younger men, indeed, zealous disciples of our Geulincx, still bestirred themselves continually in disputations, and on every opportunity gave tokens of their disapproval to clerical opponents like Spanheim. One disciple, Johannes Swartenhengst, who had defended a treatise of the master on the 3rd July, 1666, tried to continue his teaching. At the beginning of 1672 he was even permitted to hold the presidency at philosophical disputations. The talent of these young men, however, was not equal to their zeal, and they had no power to stem the current of reaction. In 1675 the rising heretic was expelled from the University; and in the following year the almost octogenarian Heydanus had to pay the penalty for his publicly expressed blame of the latest regulations of the Curatorium by the loss of his office. He died on the 15th of October, 1678, as a highly honoured preacher. We have now for a year possessed a detailed monograph upon him by Dr. J. A. Cramer, with all particulars drawn from the official records. Where the expelled Swartenhengst found a resting-place I do not know. Bontekoe, who was expelled along with him, ended his life, ten years after, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder; as body-physician to the Elector of Brandenberg. There was one subject, however, in which Aristotelianism had plainly become impossible. In physics, experiment and calculation had got the upper hand, and would be exorcised by no decrees. Here, accordingly, the circumspect Cartesian De Volder retained his post beside the Peripatetically-minded Wolferd Senguerd. The teaching of these two, with its preponderant emphasis on facts, excited no disturbances. Rather, it brought the old theoretical antagonisms into oblivion. On the other hand mental science of the kind that Geulincx had projected was turned out of the University along with his pupils (who indeed would hardly have advanced it much). The objective side of the Cartesian philosophy lost itself in empirical science, the cultivators of which have since then been regarded in Holland as pre-eminently “philosophers”.
Outside the University there were still some, both learned and unlearned, whom the spiritual nutriment supplied by the churches and public schools did not wholly satisfy. Many of these endeavoured in quiet to form convictions of their own in accordance with the new knowledge of the times. Not a few found refreshment in the writings of Spinoza-Latin or translated. Others would rather find comfort in the apparently less radical Geulincx. To their desires we, no doubt, owe the publication of almost the whole of the deceased thinker’s lectures, which, before publication, would get known by travelling from hand to hand. First, Bontekoe, under the name of Philaretus, carried through the printing of the complete Ethica and brought out a new edition of the Methodus, to which were added the author’s answers to some objections made against the former work. It was in the year of these editions, 1675, that Bontekoe had to leave the town; and he found no opportunity of continuing the undertaking. The Ethica appeared in 1683 for the second time; the publishers now being a different Leyden firm. Five years later, this firm in combination with another (also of Leyden) published the Physica as an appendix to Bontekoe’s intermitted Metaphysica. There appeared at the same time an older form of this compendium, acquired through the agency of one Caspar Langenhert of Franeker. After these, there are contributions by three more publishers. The famous Amsterdam house of Jansson-Waesberge republished the Ethica again three more times (1691, 1696, and 1709) ; part was taken in the publication of 1696 by the preachers, Flenderus and Hazeu (6), The same house also published the Collegium Oratorium from Bontekoe’s copy, which was in the possession of an old fellow-pupil. Another Amsterdam bookseller, Joh. Wolters added the Metaphysica in 1695. In 1698 Wolters reprint the Logica according. to the editio princeps of 1662, but without mentioning this. The editions published by Dirk Goris Dordrecht form a third group. For all of these we probably have to thank Antonius de Reus (inscribed at Leyden, 24 April, 1668, as a student of law and as twenty-three years old.) They embrace the Annotata praecurrentia and majora Descartes’ Principia; a collection of theses defended under Geulincx’ presidency in 1600-1; and Dutch translations the Metaphysica, Physica, and Ethica from the printed originals (1606 and 1607). After the Wittenberg Ethica epitoma -which, by the way, M. Vander Haeghen (p. 200) cites a, neuter plural-a Dutch abstract appeared at Groningen 1722. This, however, was one of those theological refutations that at length deprived the Ethica of its hitherto uncontested fame as a book for edification. It was now obscured by the rise of Ruard Andala and of the Halle professor Christian Thomasius. The name of the Flemish thinker thus became for a time half-forgotten. The later inquiries into the fortunes of Cartesianism have been needed to bring it or more into the light of day. ‘From writings that have hitherto been imperfectly obtainable, these inquiries have provisionally established the importance of Geulincx among the protagonists of modern science; but the whole material judgment has never yet been put under the eye of the investigator in a convenient view. Before we can finally decide upon Geulincx’ place, we need a full collection of widely scattered works.
Everything necessary for such a collection has at length; after long endeavours of my own, been put at my command by the exact references of M. Vander Haeghen; and, having collected the works, I have undertaken to prepare the complete edition of them. Besides the printed works, I have at my disposition a clean MS., found a few years ago, now in our University-library. Here an unnamed admirer has preserved for posterity the whole series of the prælections delivered at Leyden, and for the most part in a purer text than the earlier editors possessed. The MS. comprises the marks on Descartes ; the Collegium Oratorium , the Metaphysica, Physica vera and complete Ethica,. a Physica ad entem Peripateticorum,. remarks on the printed Logic ; a Collegium Medicum ; a tractate De Officiis Dispantnatium ; paradigms for disputations ; also collected schemata and phrases from Cicero. There would be no purpose now in including these collectanea, any more than the medical compendium and the Annotata præcurrentia, which offer nothing original. The rest will fill three volumes. These will appear in similar external form to the edition of Spinoza prepared by me in collaboration with Van Vloten. The expenses will be defrayed from the balance remaining over from that undertaking. Considering the historical and spiritual relationship between the two thinkers, the managing committee of the Spinoza Memorial thought that it would best consult the intentions of the contributors by making use of the remainder to facilitate the comparison of Spinoza’s thoughts with those his neighbour and nearest precursor. The name of the publisher, Martinus Nyhoff at the Hague, is a guarantee for e technical execution.
The first volume will embrace chiefly what Geulincx mself made public, in chronological order. After a biogaphical sketch there will follow: (1) the Discourse of 1653 Ld the Quæstiones-both in the latest revision (1665) with specification of the older readings; (2) the Discourse of 1662 and the Logic together with the elucidations preserved the lecture-volumes ; (3) the Methodus and the tractate, related to this in subject-matter, upon the duties of disputants, from the same source ; (4) the inaugural address of 1655.
The second volume will contain the systematic works. These, it is true, only appeared in the form of lectures, but it highly probable that they were intended to be given to the press after a final revision. Under this head come (1) the Physica vera; (2) the hitherto unknown Physica admentum Peripateticorum ; (3) the Metaphysica ; (4) the Ethica. The first ethical treatise was published by the author in 1665, but without the notes.
There remain, for the third volume, writings which were doubtless only meant to serve the momentary aim of the teacher, but which have value for us because they give the philosopher’s view upon points to which he found no opportunity of addressing himself before a larger circle. They are (I) the Annotata majora to Descartes, and (2) the the theses which were only printed as occasional writings for use in auditorium. Of the first edition of these, so far as I know only one copy has been preserved in Berlin. The Collegium Oratorium will be printed as an appendix.
Care will everywhere be taken, by solicitous comparison of the existing texts, that the reader shall have complete command of all the sources still available. Only man slips of the pen and errors of the press will be corrected. Plainly inappropriate punctuation will be replaced by a more intelligible one. Generally, the procedure will be such the duty of an editor of papers left by an author would require. May the whole work contribute to bring a unimportant chapter in the history of philosophy nearer perfection, and to atone for what his time, in its ignorance, failed to render to a candid seeker after the highest truth.
LEYDEN, May, 1890.
(1) T. vii., col. 691-3, Art, by Reusens.
(2) Vander Haeghen, Geulincx: Etude sur sa Vie, sa Philosophie et ses Ouvrages, Gand, 1886. [See MIND xiii. 298. ] M. Vander Haeghen is the worthy son of a bibliographic expert
(3) Among the five Deans of the University he is mentioned in the last place. The higher Faculties were those of Theology, of Canon and Civil Law as separate departments, and of Medicine.
(4) Dealt with, by Dr. Spruyt in Archiv f. Gesch. D. Phil., iii., 503.
(5) The little book is extremely rare, and has escaped the notice of M. Vander Haeghen, who only knows the citations from it in Bontekoe’s first edition of the complete Latin Ethica. This is why he says (p. 211) : ” Les notes flamandes de Geulincx soit pleines de mots français, conformément a l’usage de son temps (Voir, p. ex., Eth. tr. i., sect. 2, ~ 11, n. 2).” The passage he has hit upon is one that Geulincx himself introduces as follows :-” I will here alter the languages a little, in case anyone should be more accustomed to the courtly or school-speech (as they call it), and should apprehend this better; for it is necessary that every one should rightly understand what is said. To use that speech properly, I must stick togetller bits of different languages: that is the fashion. Having got through with this, I will again, as becomes a good fellow countryman, proceed plainly, and without circumlocution.” Then follows the parody of that ornate mode of speech full of foreign words. It is even printed differently from the rest of the text. Bontekoe, who did not understand the sarcasm, transcribed the passage as simply a supplement to the text, without the introduction belonging to it. The translator of 1691, De Reus, whose language M. Vander Haeghen extols as much purer, rather gives the impression of a stiff and timid purist. For his inaccurate rendering he deserves the blame with which the Belgian scholar visits him at p. 167
(6) Dr. Goppert (Geulincx Ethisches System Breslau, 1883, p. 4) takes Hazeu for a “higher ecclesiastic, perhaps according to our ideas a superintendent” at Oestgeest. “The village,” he says, “appears to no longer in existence.” As a matter of fact, village and church stand now, where they did then by the highway to Haarlem, and an “antiste” is simply a clergyman. Higher ecclesiastics no protestant church the country has ever known. Again Prof. Minor, in his book Schiller, makes the father of the poet visit “the flourishing towns in the Hague,” as if that residence were a whole district. If writers cannot get correct information on such matters, they might at least refrain from superfluous explanations. What is of more importance is to Hazeu (”Hassen,” in Vander Haeghen, p. 216, is a misprint), had defended, as a student, a treatise of Geulincx De finibus bonorum et malorum on the 14th of March, 1668. Flenderus had studied elsewhere, and was a preacher and titular professor in Zutphen.