Although, however, he adds that at this point he suspended his religious inquiries, " acquiescing with implicit belief in the tenets and mysteries which are adopted by the general consent of Catholics and Protestants," his readers will probably do him no great injustice if they assume that even then it was rather to the negations than to the affirmations of Protestantism that he most heartily assented.
From the time of Pyrrho overlapping Aristotle himself, who seems to have been well content to use the feints of more than one school among his predecessors, while showing that none of them could claim to get past his guard, down through a period in which the decadent academy under Carneades, otherwise dogmatic in its negations, supplied new thrusts and parries, to Aenesidemus in the late Ciceronian age, and again to Sextus Empiricus, there seems to have been something of plasticity and continuous progress.
Lacordaire read, and his ardent and believing nature, weary of the theological negations of the Encyclopaedists, was convinced.
If some, and not the least essential, of these aspects are quasi-negative, it must be remembered that negations - witness the Unseen, the Unknown, the Infinite of a more advanced theology - are well adapted to supply that mystery on which the religious consciousness feeds with the slight basis of conceptual support it needs.
He denied that foreknowledge or predestination as temporal relations could be properly predicated of God as eternal; he described sin and its consequences as negations, neither caused by nor known to God; he maintained that as evil is only a stage in the development of good, there will ultimately be a universal return to God.
It was not his negations that made him popular; it was the eloquence with which he presented the positive side of his doctrine.
When we reflect on immensity and eternity, we find them negations of all that is imaginable; and that whether we try infinite addition or infinite subdivision.
Knowledge, he says, is perception of relations among ideas; it is expressed in our affirmations and negations; and real knowledge is discernment of the relations of ideas to what is real.