As great an admirer of the Scholastics as I would have no choice but to live blog the teachings of this wonderful book by Cardinal Mercier. Let us dispense with pleasantries however, and move directly to the meat of the work.
The first chapter of the book is entitled, "The Introduction to Philosophy" (also note the work's wide address -although called a "Manuel of Scholastic Philosophy" it addresses itself to both the seminary student and the wider public). So lets begin -the book starts by saying that some argue that the whole field of certain and verifiable knowledge is rightfully monopolized by the special sciences (physics, math, chemistry, history, etc.). Indeed, since advanced instruments have sharpened our perceptions, we have been able to multiply the number of sciences so as to take up the whole of what can be studied. At best what remains of philosophy can only be shadowy or unverifiable fancies. Here though, the author makes an interesting word choice -that is he uses the word analysis. And later we find that analysis means "to break down ideas". So if this is true, the author seems to characterize modern positive science as sciences which primarily break down "synthetic" ideas. Continuing on, philosophy however does not want to be another science besides the other sciences but it aspires to a place above and after the aforementioned studies. Fascinatingly, the author further describes philosophy as a science which seeks to understand the objects of the other sciences in an ultimate way, inquiring into their relations and connections, and proceeding from thence, to conclusions of universal applicability and to inscrutable ideas (note that even philosophy, is supposed to be analytic, for whatever is inscrutable cannot be further analyzed). Philosophy is the search for the highest causes of things. More will be said of this chapter later.