Carlyle and Scottish Thought by Ralph Jessop (auth.)

By Ralph Jessop (auth.)

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For Sterling, the term 'prophecy' described a certain kind of religious experience which was at the same time an experience of intuitive insightfulness, an ability to look into Existence and the nature of things and interpret these. If Carlyle possessed this 'sense of the Divine' then, according to Sterling's understanding of his faith, or philosophy, he was truly a poet and his pursuit was fundamentally poetic or artistic in the highest sense. 42 Nonetheless, descriptions of Carlyle as a prophet or sage were often negative.

The very heterogeneity of nineteenth-century categorizations suggests if not proves the diversity of Carlyle's work - a myriad-voiced writing that accommodates preaching, teaching, translating, reviewing, criticizing, prophesying, philosophizing, fictionalizing. But if Carlyle may be freed from certain categorial constraints by a more open approach to his writing, there is by now general agreement that he cannot be classed as a philosopher. 62 Le Quesne remarks that 'It is impossible to make any serious claim for [ ...

He went on to give an etymological account of the term 'cause' as translated into several languages concluding that, 'The unsophisticated sentiments of mankind, are in perfect unison with the deductions of logic, and imply nothing more at bottom, in the relation of cause and effect, than a constant and invariable sequence'. He also gave a decidedly sceptical account of human conception of the relation A Common Fund of Philosophic Prose 37 between cause and effect. He admitted that we feel something more than the mere invariable succession of events', but claimed of this feeling that 'it is a fallacious sentiment, which experience and reflection gradually correct, yet never entirely eradicate'.

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