Sketch of A Philosophy
Dr. John Gibson MacVicar, LL.D., D.D.
first published Edinburgh, 1870.
(EDITORS NOTE: The following is but a portion of Macvicar's extensive work. There are other volumes available from Delta Spectrum Research. Keely's biographer Clara Bloomfield-Moore said: "Although Macvicar and Keely differ in their theories of molecular morphology, they agree entirely in calling the cosmical law of sympathetic association of assimilation the watchword and the law of creation.")
Part I, II, III, IV.
Introduction, Part 1, Hint of Our Philosophy
THE COSMICAL LAW [see Cosmical Law]
Introduction, Part 2, Of Ã†ther
THE PASSAGE FROM THE MATERIAL TO THE SPIRITUAL
THE SEEMING CONFLICTS IN NATURE
Preface, Mind and Its Powers
Chapter 1, Part 1, Science and Philosophy
Chapter 1, Part 2, Spencer, Spinoza
Chapter 2, Scientific Method
Chapter 3, Part 1, Consciousness
Chapter 3, Part 2, Self-Manifesting Power
Chapter 3, Part 3, Perception, Intuition
IDEA WITHOUT MEMORY
JOY AND SADNESS
SIGHT AND FEELING
OUR THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Chapter 3, Part 4, Synthesis and Analysis
SYNTHESIS, ITS VALUE
ANALYSIS, ITS EVIL
Chapter 3, Part 5, Antilogies of Consciousness
ANALYSIS, ITS GOOD
Chapter 3, Part 6, Solution of the Antilogies
The Sketcher, Chapter 1, God
The Sketcher, Chapter 2, Creation
The Sketcher, Chapter 3, Cosmical Law
The Sketcher, Chapter 4, Finite Being
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 1, Spirit
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 2, Reason
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 3, Perception
Subject and Object
Position and Space - Time and Motion
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 4, Epochs
The Mythological Epoch
The Positive Epoch
The Scientific Epoch
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 5, Memory
CONSECUTION (LEIBNITZ). - THE INDUCTIVE JUDGMENT
Abstraction and Selective Attention
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 6, Syllogism
Ideals and Art
Dogmatism, Scepticism, and Mental Imbecility
The Pure Dialectic
The Sketcher, Chapter 5, Part 7, Reasoning
The Sketcher, Chapter 6, Creation
The Sketcher, Chapter 7, The Universal Aether or Medium of Light
The Sketcher, Chapter 8, Part 1, Material World
The Sketcher, Chapter 8, Part 2, Gravitation
Symmetry - Sphericity
The Sketcher, Chapter 9, The Return from Material to Spiritual
The Sketcher, Chapter 10, Part 1, Nature
The Mineral World
The Organic Elements
The Vegetable Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom
The Hepatic System
The Sketcher, Chapter 10, Part 2, The Myo-Neuro-cerebral System
Materialism Wholly Inadequate
A HINT OF OUR PHILOSOPHY.
THE ACTUAL STATE OF SCIENCE, UNSATISFACTORY.
In the actual state of Science the phenomena of Nature and the Laboratory have been classified to a great extent and referred to as Laws. But these laws are very numerous; and this makes the acquisition of Science very laborious. Most of them also rest solely on an inductive or empyrical basis, they have been reached merely by observation, they give no account of themselves to Reason; and this places them in a very unsatisfactory position in an intellectual point of view. It obliges the man of Science to content himself with intellectual despair as the only kind of intellectual repose which the actual state of Science allows him.
Is no further reduction of these laws possible? And if they may be reduced in numbers, may not the ultimate laws or law approve itself as a dictate of Reason?
It cannot be denied that such a state of Science were in the highest degree desirable. We are commonly told to despair of it. But why should we? If the law of intellectual progress be admitted generally, why should it be rejected here, and the misadventures of the past be made the rule for the future? Of all theories in connexion with Nature assuredly one of the most respectable is that Nature is a Creation. Now if it be, there is no doubt that in the mind of the Creator Nature is not a multiplicity of things as it is in the actual Science of our day; there is no doubt, that Nature is one grand Reality; and therefore possible the whole action of Nature may be expressed by one all-embracing law. Moreover if it be the creation of an Intelligence, and this is implied in its being a creation, there must also be a sufficient reason for everything in it. And why should we despair of finding out the reasons of things so far at least as our intelligence demands in order to its own well-being? It is surely more legitimate to ascribe our still existing failures in finding reasons for certain things to our still existing ignorance of that which we may possibly know hereafter, than to any radical fault in our intellect. Now such a fault would exist if all men tended to ask that which cannot possibly be answered, and the best men laboured to ascertain that which can never be known.
It is now many years since the Author endeavoured to shew that there is one general mode of action which when modified according to circumstances gives all those varied modes of action which are usually regarded as laws of Nature. But he did not then see the reason of that law; and his views, thus incomplete, though printed and placed in a few libraries for preservation, and no doubt accessible to the curious, were not pressed upon the public and are scarcely at all known. They have indeed sometimes been noticed by the flying criticism of the day, but most frequently by writers so ignorant of what they were criticizing that it was painful to see a proper name in connexion with such nonsense.(1) The author has therefore on this occasion taken care that contributors to the "Gay Science" shall at least have looked into his work deeper than the title-page in order to find the name of an author to whom they may shew their superiority on the subject which he handles - a subject to which he has devoted the leisure of a life-time - so fruitlessly in a social point of view - if this be all that awaits him.
But now along with an all-embracing law he is able to see the reason of it. And having thus been enabled to complete the train of thought in relation to it, and having found
THE COSMICAL LAW.
The cosmical or all-embracing law referred to has been named from that operation of it which is most important to us, that by which our organisation is reintegrated and our energy maintained from hour to hour, namely, Assimilation. And the reason of it appears on our considering the consequences of that view of Nature which has been already alluded to, namely that Nature is the creation of an All-sufficient Creator - a view which may certainly be characterized as the most natural as well as the most respectable, since it comes most spontaneously to every one and has been most generally held by the most reflective minds of all ages.
From this relation it results that nothing which is quite new in creation is possible; for in the Creator himself all fullness dwells from all eternity. Whatever is not self-contradictory or self-destructive is already anticipated and has already a place in the Divine Mind, either as knowing or as being. In the Divine Mind there is already the archtype of every thing that is possible. Moreover it is incredible that an Almighty Creator should award existence to anything which should not be an expression of His will, anything which should not be responsive to Him and a manifestation of Him. In a word the creation cannot be but a mirror which shall reflect, or a luminary which shall radiate, or a treasury which shall dispense the wealth and the glory of the Infinite. Hence in its Being and its action every created thing, and all creation as one thing, must be assimilated and assimilative. In fine Assimilation must be the watch-word and the law of the creation. [see Syntropy]
Hence also we are enabled at once to see that the creation must be, as it is found to be, a Cosmos; for it is the prescript of a perfect Intelligence in whom the love of order cannot but be supreme.
Cosmical Law then at the fountain-head is One only.
But the various breaks in knowledge commonly called branches of Science, which our intellectual weakness and the shortness of life necessitate, render it convenient to have a number of laws to refer to rather than one only. For if one only it might often seem unrelated to the phenomena to be explained and demand many words to connect it with them. Let us therefore here resolve our all-embracing law into three and these in two sets. And let us express them in terms which are applicable to material Nature to which alone the following pages are devoted. The two sets take their rise in the twofold fact that the finite assimilates itself on the one hand to the Infinite, and on the other hand to itself. [see Laws of Being]
- I. From the assimilation of the finite to the Infinite we obtain The Law of Diffusion or Expansion on the one hand and The Law of Individuation or Condensation on the other, and as their harmonized product in the material economy The Law of the Perfect in Form (symmetry culminating in Sphericity).
- II. From the assimilation of finite objects each to itself and all to each other, we obtain The Law of the Permanence of the Properties of Matter and The Law of Types or Species on the one hand, and the phenomena of affinity and transformation and The Law of Generic Resemblance on the other. And as their harmonized product we obtain The Law of the Conservation of Energy. Of all of these, continual illustration will occur as we proceed and they need not be dwelt upon here.
What now as to Being or Reality which is the postulate of all thought and which our cosmical law of assimilation requires us to ascribe to the creation if we ascribe it to the Creator? Are there between sixty and seventy different kinds even of material substance alone, and in this small planet of ours alone, not to speak of spiritual Beings which are greatly out of favour in the present day, or of aether, the claims of which to the award of existence are in a better way now than they were during the last century? In a word is created substance of many kinds which differ from each other in their very grounds? Or when viewed ultimately and in its ground is there but one kind of created substance only? Our cosmical law suggests that as the Creator Himself is only one in substance so also will the creation be to which he awards existence. And here Iet it not be immediately inferred that the extreme simplicity of this deduction, made as it is in the face of all the variety and multiplicity of individualized objects that there are in the Universe, will necessarily involve us in difficulties. Different Beings whether classes or individuals are known to us not by any difference in their substance but only by differences in their attributes. And since Being or Substance and Power or Potentiality differ from each other only in conception, only as the statical differs from the dynamical, it is reasonable, nay in the circumstances it is alone legitimate to suppose that it is not in virtue of some absolute difference in substance (for none appears) but only from differences in the quantity or intensity of substance or power in the individual that different individuals display such different potentialities or endowments as they do display, and come to be justly classified as they are into various orders of Beings. What the best classification of these various orders may be, we who are confined to a small planet with a small orbit in the heavens are not in a good position to determine. But there are three which present themselves on all hands as very distinctly marked and which viewed in the aggregate are The Spiritual, The Aetherial, and The Material.
Which of these three orders of Being are we to take as the type, as that in constituting which finite Being culminates and justifies its own existence though finite and therefore necessarily imperfect? This question is not more distinctly answered by the voice of intelligence which is the highest of all than it is by our cosmical law. For in as much as the Author of all is Himself a spiritual Being that law leads us to expect that the type of created Being shall be spirit also. Nor can Being in any object be so attenuated or so far removed from Him who filleth all in all, but it must surely still retain an aura of the spiritual nature.
This inference as to the typical character of Spirit in the Cosmos may be otherwise put thus. An individualized Being is a Spirit when by the preservation of a true unity in his Being notwithstanding its quantity, the intensity or energy of Being which he possesses is such as to impart to him self-directive power instead of the power of resting merely when he rests or of driving merely as he is driven, that is, when it is such as to impart to him the vis voluntatis instead of the vis inertiÃ¦, and along with this, perception and memory and desire and aversion, instead of a blind receptivity of special impressions only and mere atavism with attraction and repulsion. Since then the Creator is infinite in (the energy or intensity of) his Being and is truly One, creation in obeying the law of assimilation is to be expected to be either wholly a spirit-world from the first, or if otherwise, to tend continually in that direction.
As to the mental powers and capacities of spirits by which they are so fully differentiated from all other orders of finite Being whether material or Ã¦therial it has been shewn in the first part of this work that, with the exception of that autokinetic action which is the characteristic of spirit, they are all phenomena of Assimilation, now to the Creator giving Reason, now to self giving Consciousness, now to the world giving Perception and Memory - the very term "idea" which has been consecrated from a remote antiquity as most proper to the phenomena of the spiritual world meaning "an assimilation".
We have conceived the existence of an universe consisting solely of spiritual Beings. Now such a conception carries with it an answer to the question in Theodicy why a Being who is absolutely perfect in Himself should award existence, as we see that He has done, to that which being finite cannot but be imperfect; for spiritual Beings are the proper subject of enjoyment; and assuredly enjoyment is such an excellence that it is a warrant for existence; and an increase of enjoyment if it be possible is a warrant for creation. But however absolute the fulness of the Infinite, and however perfect His own enjoyment or ever-blessedness, still such is the nature of enjoyment that while One only exists One only can enjoy. By a creation on the other hand of sentient creatures whose wellbeing shall imply enjoyment, these creatures being placed in circumstances favourable to their wellbeing, enjoyment may be multiplied without end.
Theodicy and our Theory therefore equally suggest a creation which shall consist wholly of spiritual, psychical or sentient Beings. But such an universe, it appears not obscurily, could not exist under universal assimilation as the cosmical law. For among the attributes of the Infinite there is not only Unity, there is also immensity. His Being and power are everywhere present. Under the influence of the divine Immensity then finite Being under the law of assimilation must tend to be diffused and to be found in space to the utmost degree possible. It must tend to be everywhere present. Now this it can be, since it is finite, only by being partitioned into the smallest unities of which it is capable. Moreover in being so partitioned it may also obey the law of assimilation in respect of the Unity of the Creator, for each element may itself be an unity.
It is further to be remarked that these diffused elements being all attenuated to the last degree that is possible to finite substance must all be identical with each other, except in the relative position in space which each occupies. And in this respect as well as in the quantity or intensity of Being in the individual the aetherial world which we are now considering must differ completely from the world of Spirits. With regard to the latter nothing appears to present the individuals which constitute it from possessing different quantities or powers. Nothing appears to prevent the spiritual world from being a Hierarchy. But the individuals or elements in the world of aether must be everywhere identical.
As to their self-assimitative action it must be next to nothing. But, for the same reason, it is important to remark, that the medium as a whole must be eminently suited for assimilating itself to other Beings and things that are placed in it. It must therefore be eminently suited for representing and for reporting these Beings and things to each other with perfect truth. It must also for the same reason be most fully dependent on the Creator and suited for manifesting Him as He is. And are not these anticipation fully verified by the phenomena of that medium which is the medium of vision, of light and colours, the realm of all visible beauty and glory?
Nor should we stop here were we to enter upon the subject in detail. In that case we might shew that while the aether aims at assimilating itself by its universal diffusion to the Immensity of the Creator, it aims also by its mode of action at assimilating itself to His Eternity; for eternity is not as we are somnolently apt to suppose a beginningless and endless thread of time extended in a line. Eternity is all time wound up in one; it is an abiding simultaneousness, and its first finite manifestation is a maximum velocity. And thus instead of the existing physical explanations, all of which have hitherto been complete failures, we obtain at least a metaphysical explanation, of the simultaneousness of universal attraction and the extreme velocity of light &c.
But enough and more than enough it will be said of the Spiritual world and the Universal Ã†ther, both of which are often regarded as of questionable existence. What of the Material world it will be asked - that world which to the men of science of our day is every thing. To this we reply that in our philosophy the material world far from being the whole universe as is popularly maintained is merely an incident in it, a very beautiful as well as a very vast creation no doubt, but still only of the nature of a beautiful cloud-work or precipitate in the Universal Ã†ther.
Assuming the Ã¦therial to which we suppose the Creator to have awarded existence to be proceeding towards the spiritual in a non-miraculous way, it appears that the material element must present itself in the first instance, instead of the spiritual. This the inexorable conditions of geometry appear to demand. Nor let it be hastily inferred that in affirming this we are affirming limits to almighty power. For the first forthputting of almighty power must consist in lighting up itself with perfect intelligence, and geometry is merely intelligence conceiving the relations of finite portions of something when occupying finite portions of space. But hence, in the redemption of Being from its most diffused and attenuated and wholly apathetic state to a state in which sensibility may be restored, it appears that the Ã¦therial elements in the first instance must aggregate and unify into an order of individualities or elements in each of which the quantity or intensity of Being is still too small to have recovered and to be able to manifest autokinetic power or spiritual endowment of any kind. For the evidence of this Chapters III and IV of Book I of the work now in the Readers hand may be consulted. We are indeed to expect in the individuals of this new order of Beings, (in as much as there is more substance in each), more individuality and higher powers than there are in the Ã¦therial element. Instead of being capable of assimilating itself to other Beings and things merely as to motion and rest, which is all that the Ã¦therial element can do, we are to expect that this new element shall be able to assimilate itself to itself in these respect also, that is, to rest as it rests and to drive as it is driven. We are also to expect in it phenomena which shall be reminiscences and anticipations of spiritual endowments such as are preception and memory, desire and aversion, we are to expect in it, for instance, a receptivity of the action of other things upon it, redintegration of former states, attraction and repulsion. Now these anticipations are realized in the material element.
THE PASSAGE FROM THE MATERIAL TO THE SPIRITUAL.
Thus as soon as the Infinite comes into relation with the finite, as soon as immensity and eternity manitest themselves in terms of space and time it looks as if by the intrusion of the material element, a barrier were to be thrown up which would prevent access to the realm of spirits beyond, and put a stop to their creation in a non-miraculous way. But it soon appears that there is no danger of this. The material element makes its apparition in nature in virtue of the unifying or synthetic action that is implied in the cosmical law of Assimilation. But that action cannot and does not terminate here. Nor can we legitimately assign a limit to it until synthetic action in the cosmos has proved itself coordinate in intensity with analytic action. We must look for effect of a synthetic action as perfect as those of the analytic action as perfect as those of the analytic action. And since the analytic action partitions completely Being or substance ultimately into the smallest individualities of which Being as such admits (the Ã¦therial elements), we must look in the cosmos for a synthetic action which shall unify completely again these minima into new individualities ultimately of the greatest power, which the individualism of the adjacent individuals permits.
What response then let us ask do we actually find in Nature to such a conclusion? To this it is to be answered that we undoubtedly find the synthetic action of Nature subsequently to the genesis of the Material out of the Ã†therial element going on with unabated energy; and we are warranted by the contemplation of Nature no less than by our theory to look for effects of synthetic action as perfect as those of analytic action. Now nowhere within the compass of the purely material sphere do we find the production of perfect unities. Such is the self-conservative power of the material elements that when they unite they unite by juxta-position only, and nothing results but a molecular structure, a sturcture which can be taken to pieces again. And we are not authorized either by mechanics, dynamics, chemistry or any other branch of science to ascribe to any merely molecular aggregate, whatever its mass or structure, phenomena of quite another order than those which are truly mechanical or chemical. Assuredly we are not authorized to ascribe to it thought and feeling.
Put the course of molecular synthesis into its meaning. Thus having prepared for itself in the mineral kingdom a ground to stand upon Synthesis marches onwards through the vegetable to the animal kingdom, which by universal consent culminates in our planet in Man. Now any animal and specially man considered as a molecular structure merely, may be justly described as a myo-neuro-cerebral apparatus with its accessories to give nourishment, support, protection &c. Moreover in this organic apparatus which unhappily no shorter name than which has been given can characterize as an unity (which it is), and in which molecular synthesis in our planet culminates we also see analysis culminating. The muscular system which in its peripheral part is the triumph of synthesis or structure. The brain which is its central part is the triumph of analysis or volume, under the condition that the result shall still be concrete. The brain consists of elements the atomic weight of none of which exceeds a low number, and they are kept far apart by means of hydrogen. And as might be expected in these circumstances it is so tender that of all the products of material nature it is the first to decompose after it has ceased to live.
And now what as to use? That of the muscular system is obvious. It is to move a system of fulcra and levers and so to effect motion. But what as to the brain? With a view to discover this we may remark in the first place that it is the centre of the entire animated system, every particular muscle and the whole periphery being connected with it, and the action of all led into it by innumerable conducting threads of the same nature as itself. We may safely infer therefore that the brain must be a focus of action of great force, and that force primarily in so far as its environments are concerned, centripetal. In the second place we may remark that compared with what it might have been (but for analysis culminating in it) the brain is very voluminous, and its value obviously depends in great measure on its volume. Now this fact taken in connexion with its highly analysed and readily disintegrating structure seems at first sight strange. But it ceases to be so when we call to mind that in the very degree that it ceases to be a dense mass of heavy molecular matter while yet it is a molecular structure it comes to be a volume of individualized Ã¦ther. The brain commonly so considered with its fibres and ganglions is according to our view merely a support or skeleton to a large unified volume of a hyaline, invisible, imponderable substance, which however secure it may be of escaping detection by the eye or the balance is yet there, and is such that according to our philosophy it may be expected to fulfil a most important function in nature.
Here in fact we have a repetition on a great scale, and by the use of the material element as the instrument, of that aggregation of Ã¦therial elements in the celestial spaces, from the centripetal action of which we infer (Chap. III) their perfect synthesis or unification by confluence in a definite small number, and the consequent giving to Nature of a new order of Being, namely, the material element. In this repetition then of the same structure on a much grander scale in the brain, what are we to expect but the perfect synthesis or unification by confluence of Ã¦therial elements again in vast numbers in that organ into a new order of Being transcending the Material? But if so what we obtain can be nothing else but a psychian or spiritual Being, according as the synthetic force of the myo-neuro-cerebral organ which is its mother and nurse, is less or greater - an organ which may obviously be of on less value to its inhabitant, when its efferent or centrifugal action has commenced, for it must serve as an apparatus to it for communicating with its environments, and for placing itself in a relationship of well-being and of well-doing in the world.
Grant this coordination of the synthetic with the analytic force in nature, and our conception of a Cosmos is complete. The power-loom provided by the Creator for weaving the beautiful web of Nature is perfect. The material system which threatened at first to put a stop to the multiplication of spiritual Beings altogether is converted into an apparatus most productive of sentient Beings in all varieties that are capable of enjoying their existence until the soul of man is reached - the soul of man which is not only alive to enjoyment like every sentient nature, but which can also compass self-originated or God-like action. And thus the all-important truth of the immortality of the feeling and thinking principle in man is no longer left as a tenet needing to be held by faith in opposition to the indications of modern science. It is on the contrary placed in the position of that truth towards which all science culminates.
THE SEEMING CONFLICTS IN NATURE.
Since the Cosmos is finite and the condition of its existence (the cosmical law of assimilation) calls upon it to imitate, even to the impossible undertaking of emulating, the infinite a seeming conflict in many respects must be unavoidable. Thus the Infinite is at once absolute Unity and absolute Immensity. Now of this the finite conception is that of two opposite extremes neither of which can be reached, one extreme all development and expansion, the other all contraction and concentration. Hence Nature is all in motion in opposite directions, and often seems to conflict with herself. That this is a seeming only might however be inferred from the fact that all these movements originate in one and the same idea, obey one and the same law (assimilation) and aim at one and the same end. Accordingly it forms one of the integral parts of the Philosophy of the inimitable Leibnitz that they never frustrate or extinguish each other, and that the same amount of energy is always conserved in the cosmos - a principle which is now generally admitted, and of which one hears much as a discovery of our own day.
But the incompetence of that which is finite to assimilate itself to that which is at once absolute Unity and absolute Immensity is not the only ground of seeming conflict in Nature. The Author of all is also at once Immutable and Everliving. And hence phenomena in the creation when assimilating itself to the Creator in this respect, which are in their seeming at least still more difficult to resolve. Hence the stability for ages of the crystal on the one hand, and the changefulness from hour to hour of the sentient creature on the other, and that not merely as matter of fact, but as the conditions of its well-being; for normal changefulness accomplishing itself without effort in a sentient nature affects the sensibility of that creature as enjoyment. But such changefulness is the abolition or the destruction of stability. It is therefore opposed to mechanical excellence. Is then the conflict between the truly vital and the excellently mechanical both real and insuperable? If so then perennial enjoyment can only be secured in the spirit world into which the merely mechanical does not enter at all.
But let us not on that account disparage the mechanical, the material. Can there possibly be enjoyment, at least such enjoyment as is known to us, without the knowledge of its opposite correlative, without the conception at least if not the experience of suffering? It would seem that there cannot. But if so, then the material world instead of merely coming in the way of the spiritual world as a barrier (the point of view in which it presented itself to us at first) implying as it does a discipline in suffering, may even be necessary to that in virtue of which alone spirit possesses value. Doubtless the conflict here also is only seeming. And so in all cases if they really be part of the economy of Creation, and not products of finite wills. Doubtless in reality and in His own thought the supreme Intelligence of the Great Creator sees harmony only. And possibly the same joy may be n reserve for us also when Science shall have been perfected.
But here as a ground for setting aside our entire philosophy it may be said that these objecdtive conflicts be they all seeming only or be they all real, are no discouragements to speculative philosophy, compared with those subjective conflicts which take their rise in Reason itself, since Reason when venturing on such cosmological ideas as enter largely in such philosophy does not scruple to affirm with equal confidence conclusions which are directly contradictory of each other. This is a very serious consideration. But it has received what to us is a satisfactory solution in our Ist Part (On Mind, its Powers and Capacities). These contradictory conclusions, it has there been shewn, instead of being antinomies of Reason (though the admirable Kant regarded them as such) are only antilogies of consciousness, that is, phenomena of perceptivity not pure and simple, but modified (and generally maltreated) by the presence along with it in the same mind of a personal activity which in itself has no law but that of liberty, and which therefore is always bent on denying, because it finds that all belief binds, and therefore limits the exercise of liberty.
MIND AND ITS POWERS
P R E F A C E.
One commonly likes to get a glance, if he can, at a new book, before he commits himself to its purchase or perusal. This, therefore, the author has attempted to give the reader in the Analytical Contents which immediately follow - not without the hope that he will be so much interested by the new aspect in which old beliefs are presented to him, as to feel disposed to dip into the work itself. Even from these contents it may be gathered that the author propounds "A Philosophy" - meaning, by this term, a cycle of thought descriptive, in an orderly manner, of what is held to be Reality, in which everything that is cognizable has its own place, and in which everything that is introduced, while it stands in the last analysis on a solid basis, proves also to be harmonious with its antecedents, its concomitants, and its consequences, or, in other words, is explained and justified by them.
It is through Part II, which treats of the chemistry of nature, that the author wishes that he could have recommended this Part I. to the readers consideration; for it is part and parcel of the same train of thought, and he conceives that in it, such arithmetical and geometrical verification have been adduced, as must ultimately convince every one, that the views there advanced represent molecular nature, or are at any rate such, that molecular nature is most articulately and loudly responsive to them. But the author dare not hope, even though it really possessed all the merits which he ascribes to it, that Part II. can be much attended to, or can make much way in the scientific world for years to come; for he cannot conceal from himself that it is as antithetic to existing hypotheses in chemistry, as the Newtonian System was at its first publication to the vortices of Des Cartes. Nor can he deny that it professes to make a greater step in science than has been made since those days; for it professes to give the forms and structures of the various atoms and molecules which constitute chemical substances, and thus to raise chemistry to the level, and bring it within the sphere, of mechanics, investing its objects, at the same time, with all the distinctness of the objects of other branches of natural science. Now, it would be contrary to the teaching of the whole history of science, if such pretensions (however well founded) were attended to, or admitted, till after long years, first of neglect and then of resistance. Parte I., "The Philosophy of Mind," must therefore stand, in the meantime, on its own merits. It too has, indeed, the misfortune of presenting itself in direct opposition to the prevalent tastes of the day; and therefore it too will be extensively repudiated at any rate at the present moment, and until the now rising tide of materialism and pantheism shall have fallen into the ebb again, as after having reached the full it has so often done already, before the constitutional instincts or inspirations of humanity with which speculative minds may indeed dally for a generation, but which are ultimately inexorable.
Meantime, to those who, still standing firmly on their feet, as true men actuated by the principles referred to, are not to be carried away by the flowing tide - to those, in a word, who still hold to the worship of God, the duty of self-sacrifice for the good of others, and the belief in immortality, - what follows may serve to show that, in believing and in acting as they do, they are standing on ground which is truly scientific, and have nothing to fear from the progress of thought, in so far as it is entitled to the name of scientific - nay, are in a position to lead the way in all that can be justly so called.
The Manse, Moffat,
This sketch of a Philosophy is now brought to a close, and that not without pleasing prospects as to the future of Science. Since 1868, when Part II., which related to molecular construction, was printed in Germany, there has been a notable progress of philosophy in the same direction. The spectrum-analysis of star-light emanating from sources differing greatly as to the degree of heat which actuates them, or the state of diffusion and attenuation in the matter of which they consist, has forced on the minds of chemists the very reasonable suspicion that cosmical force, acting out in the great universe since the beginning of time on the same particles of matter, may be capable of doing something more in the way of ultimate analysis than the chemist in his laboratory with his small experiments. In consideration of the growing simplicity which seems to characterize the light-giving elements of different heavenly bodies according as they are on the way to greater attenuation through heat or are already extremely attenuated, the idea begins to be tolerated even by experimental chemists, that of the 63 so-called simple substances only a very few, perhaps only one, can survive without decomposition that ordeal of molecular transformation which is the very secret of all the variety, the harmony, the beauty of nature.
On comparing the data of the spectroscope with our molecular synthesis, it will be seen that those substances which ocular vision gives the astronomer as the last survivors under extreme cosmical analysis are the same as those which mental vision has given us under our method as the most simple, stable, and recurrent of molecular structures, viz., two lighter than hydrogen, nitrogen or azote (which in our theory is secularly resolvable into hydro-carbon; 2 Az = C4H4 = olefiant gas), magnesium, sodium, iron, &c.
Chemists are still indeed content with their formless, structureless, phantom atoms, instead of particles looking like reality, having distinctly conceived forms and structures; they are content with mere abstraction, such as atomicity and affinity, instead of well-understood reasons and mechanical causes! But surely chemistry as it now exists must soon become tired of itself. Surely it cannot be long before earnest minds who have youth and energy will make a rush into the light. As to others, it must not be forgotten that death usually supervenes before even demonstration can wholly change a long-cherished habit of thought. It was more than a generation - upwards of 30 years - after the publication of "before the philosophy of Newton was presented to the University of Cambridge, and even then by stealth, under the protection of the philosophy of Des Cartes, which was still taught! Moreover, the perpetual secretary of The Academy of Science in Paris, living in and its historian, a man of genius, and an admirer of Newton, 70 years after the publication of "The Principia," still maintained the Cartesian astronomy, and died in that belief, though he lived to his hundredth year! Happy the man who by his own researches has been able to satisfy the demands of his own reason and to make silence in his own heart.
ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE SCIENCE OF THE DAY AND PHILOSOPHY PROPERLY SO CALLED.
In the rising science of the day it is maintained by our most popular authors and lecturers that the "physical forces"-taken in the singular number, physical force-is the las word, the ultimate principle, which science can legitimately pronounce.
The physical forces are represented, not as the fingers of God, which they are, but as all that there is for God.
Power and Eternity, which have hitherto been generally held to be attributes of God, are now regarded as attributes of a definite amount of merely dynamic energy which, it is maintained, constitutes the whole universe of being.
The most exquisite object in nature-the lily, the rose, the bee, the dove, the peacock, the horse, man himself-are now looked to merely in relation to their material environments, and the incident forces which are supposed to have produced them. All growth and development, all organs and limbs, are regarded merely as inevitable extrusions in the direction of least resistance.
The idea of antecedent design, either in reference to nature as a whole or in reference to any object in particular, is dropped as unscientific or repudiated as unsound; in short, a reference to the physical forces is the last word permitted in any treatise, if that treatise is to be admitted as possessing a scientific character. Or; if there be one word more, it is only the "correlation" of these same physical forces, and their "conservation" or persistence eternally in the same amount of energy in the universe.
And let it be fully granted that, in their own place and within their own sphere, these are physical truths which are of the greatest value. As to the forms (the correlation of the physical forces), it is a wholesome relapse into the old philosophy of nature, a reduction to unity again of agencies which had lately been regarded as many, but long ago as one only. And as to the latter(the conservation of energy), it is also a return to a view of things which is more sound than that which was popular before the doctrine of conservation was revived, or indeed at the epoch of the revival of philosophy in modern times. Thus at that epoch, Des Cartes went the length of maintaining that there was a conservation of motion in the universe.* This, Newton demonstrated to be a mistake.+ Then came Leibnitz, who, as usual, adjusted the truth between these two great men, and he showed that it was not motion, but the possibility or means of motion-in one word, energy-that was conserved in the universe. In many parts of his works this philosopher maintains this doctrine, and very distinctly in the following note added to his fifth reply to Dr S. Clarke, which was indeed among the last things he ever wrote:-"Je nentreprends pas ici detablir ma DYNAMIQUE, ou ma doctrine des FORCES: ce \lieu ny seroit point propre. Cependant je puis fort bien repondre a lobjection quon me fait ici. Javois sountenu que les FORCES ACTIVES se conservent dans le monde (Voyez la note sur le 13 de la Troisieme Replique de Mr Clarke). On mobjecte que deux corps mous, on non elastique concourant entre eux perdent de leur force. Je reponds que non. Il est vrai que les touts la perdent par rapport a leur mouvement total; mais les parties la recoivent, etant agitees interieurement par la force du concours. Ainsi ce defaut narrive quen apparence. Les forces ne sont pas detruites mais dissipees parmi les parties menues. Ce nest pas les perdre, mais cest faire comme font ceux qui changent la grosswe monnoye en petite. Je demeure point la meme, et en cela japprouve ce qui se dit pag 341, de loptique de Mr Newton quon cite ici. Mais jai montre alleurs, quil y a de la difference entre la quantite de mouvement et la quantite de force."++ Thus our modern physicists, writing on this subject, have, to adopt his own figure, only given us change for Leibnitzs notes.
If it be said that, in the above words, Leibnitz does not state that one of the principal forms of the incident force, when dissipated in bodies on their collision, is heat, which is known now to be the fact, or that perhaps he did not know that heat was a mode of motion at all, the answer is, that it was never doubted by any philosopher of that epoch that heat was a mode of motion. And in the following words of Leibnitz have we not the most approved view of the nature of heat and its relation to light as definitely expressed as it is in any modern work?-"Caloris eadem est caussa, quae lucis, solo subtilitatis discrimine, utrumque et oritur a motu intestino in se redeunte subtiliora sui ejaculante, et eum facit."*
But the claim to original discovery in our day of the conservation of energy would be but a small evil if the idea were not at the same time carried a loutrance. In itself the doctrine amounts to nothing more than this, that inasmuch as every ultimate atom of matter is perfectly elastic, so is the whole universe of atoms perfectly elastic. Hence it is a doctrine which cannot be legitimately extended beyond the merely material sphere, except on the assumption that matter is the only reality, and that there is no such thing as a spiritual world at all - an assumption which is one of the boldest, and which, however often it may have been made, has always served only to awake a prevailing voice to the contrary, and the firm vote of a large majority to the effect that mind exists as well as matter, and is prior in the order of existence to matter.
What would the great Leibnitz, the discoverer of the principle of the conservation of energy, have thought had he met in the writings of any man of science who had adopted that principle, such words as these, "A miracle is strictly defined as a violation of the law of the conservation of energy" - prayer also, on the same ground, declared to be objectively impotent, and good only as a mental discipline; nay, the act itself of prayer "probably be found to illustrate that law (the conservation of energy!) in its ultimate expansion."+
The truth is, that the most popular science of our day viewing universal existence as a mechanical dynamism merely, and all mental phenomena as of the nature of echoes merely, just as Spinoza did, but setting out at the other end from that at which he set out, that is, adopting not reason, but the external senses, as the only informers of the mind-the most popular science of the day is merely spelling out for itself Spinozism backwards, and, as might be expected, is breaking down half-way, and falling into a Naturalism or Pancosmism, which is fraught with all the evils, and has none of the intellectual charms of the exquisitely systematic construction of the philosopher of Amsterdam, a construction such, that if you grant his premises, or rather indeed his single premis,* the whole comes out with scarcely less continuity and beauty than the six books of Euclid.
The logical charm of the Ethics, it must be admitted by all, is intense; but when regarded in a higher point of view than the merely logical, that charm is not unsullied. Spinoza often makes use of language for which, in its true meaning, there is no place in his system. In that system he utterly ignores, and in fact destroys, all that is understood by personality equally in God and man; yet in writing out that system, he so respected the personality of his readers that he admits, nay assigns, a most eminent place to the love of God, to liberty, to human merit, and to the immortality of the good man. But, for none of these things in his system, considered as a logical construction, is there any place at all. The author is generally admired for his boldness of denial and his honesty of mind. Be it so. It is no less certain that he has spread a net-not designedly perhaps, but in point of fact-a net, of which the material consists in the constant use of terms which are so venerable in the regard of all men that the reader is apt to be caught before he is aware, and to fail to discover till it be too late that these much-loved terms, when worked into the meshes of the authors system, have been entirely emptied of all their meaning, all that meaning in virtue of which humanity has always regarded them as sacred.
It is not in modern times, nor is it in Europe or the West-it was many ages ago, and in the East, that there was developed, in all logical simplicity and purity, the Pantheism which Spinoza clothed in language that does not belong to it, and which the science that is rising into popularity amongst us now is uttering again in broken syllables. Such is Buddhism. The cosmology and the physics attached to that system are indeed absurd enough; but these absurdities are merely imported into Buddhism from other systems. They form no part of the special teaching of Buddhu himself. Buddhu, in fact, discountenanced all such inquiries, and, like Socrates, maintained that Ethics alone was worthy of study.
And here let us state, though in a few words, and in occidental terms and conceptions, this Oriental Pantheism, as I have myself learned it from the lips of Buddhist priests in Asia, and as it exists as a living creed; for Buddhism is the type towards which much of western thought is now tending.
1. There exists from all eternity an universe which develops into all that occurs; and all that occurs recurs in cycles of inconceivably long periods, so that, regarded in the largest point of view, uniformity rules throughout the universe through all eternity.
2. The universe is instinct with life; and life in various orders of beings, and most eminently in man, effloresces into intelligence.
3. Man, when he has attained to the perfection of his nature (a Buddhu), is the most divine of all beings, and the proper object of adoration-himself if he be still alive, his memory if he be gone.
4. While some(the priesthood) ought to devote their lives to aiming at this perfection, and meantime are worthy of adoration for doing so, all men ought to their utmost to cultivate humanity, and to practise it in their lives.
Here we have a pure Pantheism unmixed with ideas borrowed from other systems. There is no attempt here, as there is in the work of Spinoza, to satisfy the religiously disposed; and accordingly, when such persons appear in Buddhist families, they have recourse to some more positive religion. Influenced by their inner darkness, or light, or their surroundings, they became demon worshipers as well as Buddhists, or worshipers of the gods of the Hindu, or Christians, all which the Buddhist priest wisely permits, knowing the necessity of such a step in order in any measure to satisfy the religious consciousness of man. And so far so well; for nothing seems to be so killing to all the higher attributes of humanity as Atheism. And in the very proportion that Buddhism is more consequent and logically pure than Spinozism, it is more destructive of all earnestness of character, all power of believing and of practising the morality which it sets forth. Thus the Buddhist nations in the present day, inasmuch as they are the mentally enfeebled offspring of a hereditary Atheism, are generally indisposed, if not wholly incapable, of having a strong faith in any one, or in anything. They have become merely the creatures of a long-established conventionalism, to change which in any particular, seems to them as much as their life is worth. Custom, which in all men tends to become a second nature, is to them all the nature they have.
Those who are acquainted with the ultimate views of Auguste Comte, the author of the "Systeme de Philosophie Positive," will observe that his system forms the stepping-stone from Spinozism to Buddhism. Comtes object of worship is not, as it is with the Buddhist, the individual man who has attained to the perfection of his nature, but the aggregate of men, such as they have been and are. This is his "grande conception de lHumanite qui vient eliminer irrevocablement celle de Dieu." Now, this enables him to retain and to celebrate the love of the "Grand-etre, l"Etre Supreme," as Spinoza does, and with a much better grace; for Spinozas God is merely infinite substance, self-developing itself necessarily into every conceivable attribute and mode-a God in which Intellect and Will differ so entirely from what they are in us that they can agree only in name, and to use his own illustration-"Non aliter scilicet, quam inter se conveniunt canis signum celeste it canis animal latrans."* Such a being it is obviously impossible to love. Not so, however, Comtes "Etre Supreme." The love of God, according to Comtes theology, is in fact one and the same thing as the love of mankind. And to this we are by him called with an urgency which nothing can surpass, if we are to have worship at all; for by his own showing the very existence of the Supreme Being himself depends on our love to him. "Car le charactere propre de ce nouveau Grand-Etre consistant a etre necessairement compose delements separable, toute son existence repose sur lamour mutuel qui lie toujours ses diverses parties."+
The "occidental regenerator" meets the Buddhism of the East also by providing an ample calendar of such Buddhus as actual history can supply - a motley assemblage - among whom, according to his own showing, his own name ought to stand most conspicuous. His egotism, in fact, from first to last, is enormous. His discontent kept him always unhappy; and his querulousness never missed an opportunity of expressing itself. Would that, for his own happiness, he had taken a leaf out of the book of the Oriental Buddhu! That sage, when he attained to the perfection of knowledge, and had clear insight into everything (as seemed to him), after a fortnights delighted contemplation, both of himself and of all his surroundings, seated at the foot of a Much-alindo tree, thus expressed himself:- "Pleasant is retirement to him who is contented, gratified with the doctrines he has heard, gentle and kindly disposed towards all beings, who is free from sensual enjoyments, who is beyond the influence of worldly desire; and supremely happy is that state in which the pride of the I am is subdued."* But this beautiful creation of the human imagination, this perfected saint, this object of the adoration of three or four hundred millions of living men, at last died, and what became of him, and where is he now? To this the proper answer is, "He is in Nirvana." But where or what is Nirvana? To this the only discoverable equivalent in occidental thought is, that he has altogether ceased to exist as an individualized being. He lives only in the memory of his worshipers, and if it be not his images in their temples, it is his memory only that they adore!
Had Spinoza, when he conceived the composition of "The Ethics," been previously acquainted with the Buddhism of the East, he would have seen that the problem of which he contemplated the solution had been already solved. According to Spinoza, virtue does not consist in the culture and development of the good affections, together with the suppression and extermination of the bad, and in bringing into play the former only. According to him, a liability to affections of any kind is an impotency, and all virtue consists in living in the light of reason. In Spinozism, just as in Buddhism, knowledge is everything; and every affection not yet cured by knowledge, or transformed or developed into knowledge, is a weakness, and the evidence of a nature not yet perfected. Now, Spinoza places consciousness among the affections. Hence, for man, when perfected according to Spinozism also, there remains nothing but Nirvana, "in which," to use the Oriental illustration, "the previously thinking and feeling being is where the flame of the lamp is, when all the oil has been burnt up." Spinoza does indeed attempt to make out that there is immortality for the good man. But his system does not admit of such a thing. According to Spinozism, humanity is a failure, an abortion, or, at any rate, in all the higher attributes of his being, man never gets beyond the embryo state. He lives and dies the subject of many impotencies which he finds himself called upon to struggle against, and to cure or eliminate from his being; but while doing his best, he vanishes, according to this philosophy, from existence for ever.
But enough of these melancholy, heart-desolating, life-destroying speculations. In our country at the present time, as has been already stated, the popular scientific rule is to make no religious references whatever. We are told to rest in the physical forces as the last word, and the only safe haven of thought. But why this should be insisted upon, or even admitted for a moment, Reason finds it difficult to understand. Granting to the physical forces, both when incident from without and when acting from within, all the architectonic power which is ascribed to them, whether with regard to stellar or solar systems, worlds, crystals, plants, or animals, why should not these forces themselves be investigated with a view to discover, if possible, a theory of them also? Reason, on comparing their absolutely blind and merely dynamical character with the exquisitely-reasoned objects to which they give rise, immediately conceives that surely these mechanically-acting forces are the products or the manifestations of a higher force-a force which is not blind and merely dynamical in its nature, as they themselves obviously are-a force which can compass not merely concurrent and antagonistic motions in space, but which has been able so to adjust these concurrences and antagonisms as to construct agencies which shall realize designs - a force, therefore, which is thoughtful and percipient; in one word, intelligent;-a force, in fine, which is not a mere mathematical dynamism in space and time, but a true Power existing in its type and fulness, in one word-God. Earnest minds in all ages and countries, in contemplating surrounding nature, have arrived at this inference. If there be anything that is legitimate for reason, it is to make such an inference; for, while reason is led to this inference from without by the voice of nature, this inference is at the same time but the articulate expression of a constitutional intuition which in all men worships the Unseen, and aspires to God.
But, in contradiction of this, it is usual to say in the present day, that such an inference belongs to religion, and that, therefore, science has nothing to do with it. Now, surely such a dictum is arbitrary in the highest degree. The logical continuity of thought, science at its very fountain-head claims the possibility of an inference of design in nature as rightfully belonging to one and the same train of thought as that which gives the phenomena of nature themselves. Such an inference (if there is ground for it) is an integrand element in the interpretation of phenomena. It is, in fact, that towards which every interpretation which aims at completeness spontaneously tends, and in which all interpretations which are adequate culminate. And in works which treat of the phenomena of nature, to forbid or to set aside such an inference, or to put it down under the ban of the term "religion"-a term which happens at the present moment to be out of favour with many-is neither logical nor fair. A systematic distinction between religious, and philosophical, and scientific ideas cannot be maintained. All the three run into each other with the most perfect legitimacy. Their dissociation can be effected only by art, their divorce only by violence. The "Gloria Deo" with which the elder physicists closed their works is more logical and more philosophical by far than the "Finis" of the moderns; for adoration in the contemplation of the universe is always meet, while finality is never attainable.
It may be here mentioned, however, that a reconciliation between religion and science has lately been proposed by an author who is both extensively and profoundly versed in science, and who writes on all the subjects which he handles with great power equally of observation, abstraction, and generalization; for such is Mr. Herbert Spencer, author of a "System of Philosophy", now in the course of publication. But the terms of reconciliation which he proposes cannot be accepted. According to him, the states of mind to which science and religion respectively belong are antithetic, and so also it is the subject-matter of both. Science, according to Spencer, rightfully claims as its own all orderly knowledge; while religion, according to the same authority, is and ought to rest in a dogmatic nescience - merely in the affirmation of a power in the universe, underlying phenomena and evolving them indeed, but respecting which we ought neither to affirm nor to deny personality, and to which we ought to refrain from ascribing any attributes whatever-a power, in a word, which is utterly "unknowable."
Such is Mr. Spencers philosophy. He says, that "it gives the religious sentiment the widest possible sphere of action." In his own mind, therefore, it has the same claims as the system of Spinoza had in his mind; while yet, in so far as the use of the term God is concerned, it may be regarded as the counterpart of Spinozism. It is therefore to this extent a great improvement. Mr. Spencers language is never beguiling, as Spinozas often is But except in the omission of sacred names, and the method of reading all things backwards, that is, from the senses to reason, Mr. Spencers philosophy, though of course more precise, is one and the same with that of Spinoza. It may be said to be Spinozism constructed according to the sensational method, and co-ordinated with a more advanced state of physics.
True liberty, the love of God, immortality, all the most animating beliefs and ennobling aspirations of humanity, are excluded from Spencers view of things no less than from that of Spinoza. And this is the more remarkable, because he even opens his work-and it is a great work-in language such that in reading it, one seems to be listening to Cousin. The first sentence stands in these words, "We too often forget that not only is there a soul of goodness in things evil, but very generally also a soul of truth in things erroneous." And in the first paragraph he says, "We must admit that the convictions entertained by many minds in common are most likely to have some foundation." Then, after having shown in an elaborate manner that the explanation of the phenomena of nature by all mankind consists at first in affirming as their cause the existence of a Principle of volition somewhere, he proceeds to affirm that the progress of light and civilization, of science and religion, consists in ridding belief of such a Principle altogether. After admitting that "the presumption that any current opinion is not wholly false gains in strength according to the number of its adherents," and "that life is impossible unless through a certain agreement between internal convictions and external circumstances," he proceeds to set aside the testimony of entire humanity as to a certain agreement of that kind. He sets down the world-wide doctrine of a Will, which, when not prompted from without, is free, whether in the individual breast or in the Power which is manifested in the universe, as a mistake which, though secularly committed, is yet antithetic to all science. He considers such a Principle as excluded by the growing certainty of an absolute uniformity of all phenomena, physical, intellectual and moral, when the conditions of existence are the same. Now, granting all that the author affirms as to uniformity, is such a conclusion as this necessary or even legitimate? There might obviously have been another solution of the fact, if the author had a mind to look in another direction. For, not less than a mere mechanical dynamism, a Will that is almighty and perfectly free if co-ordinated with an intelligence that is omniscient, must provide to every extent for uniformities among phenomena when the conditions of existence are the same. A considerate Theism, instead of being in any degree incompatible with such uniformities or laws of phenomena as observation may give, whatever their extent, instead of leaving them merely as the unintelligible outcome of "the unknowable," which is Mr. Spencers position, provides for them, and explains them, and that not by any singular and soul-mutilating hypothesis like his, but in harmony with the catholic conviction, and the reason of mankind.
Into this position in which he presents himself to his readers this author is driven by that which is practically and habitually at least, if not also formally, his method, namely, a pure Sensationalism. Conceptions in his regard are true only in so far as they are mental imagery of individual objects given by the senses. And all that we can do with them is to abstract and generalize them. Hence all scientific thinking is vidifaction; and if the highest generalizations do not give "vox et praeterea nihil," it is merely because the author here goes a step beyond the method which he usually follows, and along with phenomena admits the existence of a substratum-his "unknowable," namely. He considers himself safe in admitting this much of the philosophy of common sense, though this only. But Comte is more true to the sensational method when he admits only phenomena and their laws; and Pyrrho is more consistent than either when he admits phenomena only, and with regard to all other things suspends his judgment; for who that goes so far as to make a question of all, or almost all, the data of common sense, can legitimately refrain from making it a question, whether the laws of phenomena which men of science discover may not be laws of thinking merely imposed upon nature as her laws? Nay, who can refrain from admitting with Kant that they can be nothing more?
If we look to the external senses alone as the only informers of the mind as to the extent and order of the universe, we unavoidably exclude ourselves from all that is best entitled to the name of philosophy. We possess these senses in common with the lower animals. Their functions in us are the same as they are in them. And if we look to these senses alone for scientific knowledge, it is not to be expected that we shall rise above a knowledge of our material surroundings. The true function of the external senses in manifestly something very different from that of "carrying the torch of discovery around the universe." The focal distance of the eye is co-ordinate with the range of our prehensile organs, and the structure of the ear is suited to report the existence in our neighborhood of a centre of disturbance during darkness when the eye cannot act. And still more the senses of taste, and smell, and touch, and the muscular sense which imparts fitness equally for fighting or for flying, in a word, the whole system of the senses, indicates clearly that their normal function is to direct and assist in providing food for the body and in giving warnings of bodily danger. For the senses to determine the nature of Being, and the extent of the universe of Being, is quite out of their way. And as to philosophies which look to the external senses for the whole of their contents, it is only to be expected that they shall be no philosophies at all, and, in a word, that they shall always fail to reach, as they have ever been found to do, the knowledge of God, the soul, liberty, morality, immortality, those very facts and principles which in all ages have been held to be the proper themes of philosophy.
It is not, however, from much that the senses have to show, either for or against the Power that underlies all phenomena, that Mr. Spencer holds that power to be utterly unknowable. It is rather from the antilogies or contradictions in which thought is inevitably involved when we attempt to inform ourselves about that Power; and probably, also from the consideration of certain features in nature, especially in the animal kingdom, which appear to him to be irreconcilable with a Theodicy. Now, this latter difficulty on his part, and on the part of many naturalists, calls for a sympathy and consideration which it has not yet received from the scientific theologian; and as to those antilogies in which thought is ever apt to involve itself on every transcendent theme, they are indeed intellectual phenomena of the greatest scientific interest. But they do not warrant the destructive criticism to which Mr. Spencer applies them. No; undoubtedly, in the meantime, and until the phenomenon be understood, those are in the right (Kant, Hamilton, Mansel) who, in reference to such all-important matters of belief, take refuge from these apparent contradictions of thought in the stronghold of our moral nature. Already, it may be discovered that such antilogies are not co-ordinate demonstrations of equal value and authority, the one affirmative and the other negative of the same proposition. They are not simultaneous but alternate, and they are not accomplished by one and the same intellectual power, but one by the mind when acting in its synthetic, and the other by it when acting in its analytic phase. They are, in fact, the expression and the products of a rhythm, which consists in alternate phases, the one spontaneous and intuitional, the other selective and intentional-the one purely cosmical and necessary, the other personal and optional. Now, it is when under the dominion of this rhythm we equate our merely logical powers with the discovery of the universe in all its heights and depths, that we are apt to make such sad havoc of reality, and to leave ourselves but little to believe in, which is much worth caring for.
What is wanted in order to the discovery of the truth as it represents reality in the harmonious relation of all its sides, is emancipation from this desultory way of viewing things, a state of intellectual vision in the repose of the personal activity, wherein the mind mirrors on its own boson both its own more immediate surroundings and all that is beyond, both the finite and the infinite, no longer in alternate conflicting flashes merely, but harmoniously, simultaneously, steadily, clearly, and distinctly. That such a state of intellectual vision is possible even in this life, many have maintained; and that it is in reserve for the human mind hereafter, there are mental phenomena occasionally occurring in the present state of our being which go far to prove.
Is it said, that in consequence of the antinomies which exist meantime, one does not know what to believe; and that as each contradicts the other with seemingly equal authority and right, the only legitimate conclusion is to discard both, and wholly to suspend our judgment? The answer is, that if one of the sides of the antinomy affirm and the other deny the same proposition, then one or other of them must be in the right; for everything must either be or not be, and it is open to inquire, on some other ground, which of the two is that which is belief-worthy. Now, this point may be often settled by the scientific development of the propositions in suspense, that is by placing them in all their ascertainable relations, and observing which of the two dovetails into these relations as part of that unity, which all things doubtless are in their ground, and which of the two contradicts these relations.
But this is to view an affirmation in all its consequences. And this in our day is very generally denounced. We are told that Truth must be sought and asserted without regard to consequences; that in Truth there never can be any danger; and so on. And all this would be very sound if the truth in question were no longer in question, but fully ascertained fact-if, in short, the inquiry were satisfactorily completed, and the affirmation reached were the last word of an irreproachable demonstration directly effected. But this is not always possible even in mathematics. Even in that typically demonstrative science the REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM is often unavoidable. And if, in reference to the comparatively simple relations of space, such a method of proof be necessary, how much more may we not expect it to be necessary in reference to such complicated relations as are implied in the idea of humanity, its mission, its well-being, and its destinies? In this walk almost nothing can be demonstrated but by cumulative evidence-evidence surrounding the proposition in hand in every direction. And if in connection with that proposition consequences present themselves, which at once manifestly flow from it, and which are at the same time contrary to what is known to be true, or which are destructive of what is known to be right, then there is adequate evidence that what we have been supposing to be true is not true in reality; for nothing is more certain, and it is universally admitted, that truth, when justly entitled to the name of scientific, is harmonious, not merely with existence, but with the well-being of existence-that is, not merely with reality, but with moral order-not merely with that which is, but also with that which ought to be.
It may perhaps be said that the system of thought which is opposed in these pages, inasmuch as it denies all true liberty, all free choice to man, leaves no room for this distinction, no legitimate place for the term "ought." Nevertheless, under that system this distinction remains. In the merely mechanical sphere, monstrosities and abortions and wrong places are possible, as well as typical forms and normal developments and relations. And it will not be denied that Truth, though it may be descriptive of the monstrous or disorderly in the instance in hand, yet in the very degree that it becomes entitled to the name of Scientific, becomes harmonious with the typical and the normal, and, in a word, descriptive of that which ought to be.
THE SO-CALLED SCIENTIFIC METHOD, OR METHOD OF MERELY OUTSIDE OBSERVATION, THOUGH VERY CONVENIENT AND FLATTERING TO SENSE, IS WHOLLY INADEQUATE FOR THE DISCOVERY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT REALITIES.
We are all born and exist for some time in a state of profound ignorance as to everything. But a certain mental capacity soon begins to manifest itself in each of us. In some point or other we all proceed to chip the shell of ignorance - we all try, more or less, to acquire knowledge, that is, to give contents to our curiosity which shall present to our own satisfaction the realities which we ourselves are, as also those by which we are surrounded.
Mental representations of these realities, provided they be soul-satisfying, we name truth; and it is admitted that there is no pursuit which is more worthy than that of truth, and nothing that is more important than a right method of pursuing it.
And what, let us ask, is that right method? At first sight this question seems easily answered. There seems to be no difficulty about the matter. It naturally occurs to every one that we ought to begin with that which is at once most palpable and most certain, and to build upon that.
But no one can pursue this method long, before he is met by a difficulty which threatens to throw it out of gear, and which ultimately does so completely. In a word, the palpable and the certain cannot be found meeting in any one and the same object! That which is most palpable is by no means that which is most certain; and that which is most certain is, of all things, the most impalpable. Matter alone is palpable; but a little reflection soon compels the admission that matter is not so certain as at first sight it seemed to be-not so certain, in fact, as mind. Thus matter, in so far at least as philosophy has to do with it, can only be thought. Sensation, in which it is maintained that all thought begins, whether of sight or sound or any other kind, is only a form of thought; and thought is a function of mind. It is mind, therefore, not matter, which possesses the highest certainty: and it thus becomes a question whether that outward thing which at first captivates our senses, which we call matter, and which we affirms something quite different from mind, may not be some statical and opaque condition standing opposite to us of that same thing, which, when referred to Self and in possession of all its possible limpidity and quickness, is mind.
But of the two, matter alone, as has been said, possesses the charm of palpability, that is, the power of presenting itself to us without disagreeably interfering with us; and this is, of all kinds of evidence, the most pleasing, being at once respectful and persuasive. And hence it has come to pass that, though it is only as an object of mind that matter can be an object to us at all, still matter holds its place in the popular regard as the great thing; and, under influences which can be fully explained, there are many who hold that matter is everything. This our own day is remarkable for the number of those who hold this view, who look upon matter as the Alpha and the Omega of existence. But there are others who advocate with no less zeal the claims of mind. And thus that method for the pursuit of knowledge which seemed at first to be altogether free from objection, namely, to begin with that which is at once most palpable and most certain, completely breaks down, and issues in a distraction and a controversy as to the respective claims of matter and mind.
How then shall we adjust the difference? Shall we attempt a compromise by accepting both mind and matter as co-ordinate and aboriginal? This is what many have done, especially in ancient times. But such is the constitution of intelligence that it cannot but regard as unsatisfactory a duality at the fountain-head of Being. The condition of intellectual satisfaction and repose is the discovery and the holding of an unity there. And hence the history of philosophy has presented hitherto little else but a series of phases of alternate partisanship as to the first of things-now for the palpable, now for the certain, now for matter, now for mind. The former gives to philosophy, as the system of the universe, Materialism, in which mind is regarded as merely a function or mode of action of matter when possessing a special organization, or at any rate it gives, as the only content of the universe, call it matter or not, something which is the subject of mechanically-acting force \merely, and to which liberty or a true choice, as also a possible existence apart from the special organization which manifests the mental phenomena, are denied. The latter gives to philosophy some system of Idealism, in which either matter is never reached in its palpable characteristics at all, or else under the guise of an ideal world a system of things is conceived which is as fatalistic as Materialism. So far as I am aware, no philosophical system exists which, on an unity as its basis, provides at once for the free and the forced, at once for mind and matter-placing both in a popular, and at the same time, a scientific relationship to one another. The systems of Spinoza and of Hegel, grounded, the one on an universal substance, and the other on an uniform process, are certainly great intellectual achievements, and both are highly scientific in their development; but, although both repudiate the charge, yet both have the defects referred to: both are equally irresponsive as to what is implied in personality as commonly understood, whether in God or man. Neither of them is suited popularly to explain humanity or to supply its wants.
Now, all this is very unsatisfactory; and hence in all ages, more or less, and most especially in our own, an abandonment, nay, a denunciation of the method of the pursuit of truth which has been indicated. Hence a disregard, in the first instance, equally of the most palpable objects and the most certain as they present themselves to us. Hence, instead of an outwardly-directed appeal to Nature, a giving to Self the choice of what to begin with! And what has this choice been? Naturally it has been to the effect that we ought to begin with that which, however defective its claims in other respects, shall have at least this personal recommendation, that it promise to be most easily understood! Now, this implies that to which we direct our study in the first instance shall possess the smallest number of properties; that it shall exist and act with the least variety, and be placed in the fewest relation. But this leads us to fix upon mere vacuity and mere duration as the first objects of our regard. It therefore gives as the first mental occupation, the play of our intelligence, now in a synthetic, now in an analytic phase, upon space and time as the ground,-that is, it gives arithmetic, geometry, and cinematics After these comes that, which, being viewed as finite, may be elaborated by thought as existing in definite quantitative relation with space and time, viz., matter in general. Then among material objects come those which seem to be the most simple, as, for instance, the heavenly bodies on the one hand, which are so far away as to be barely visible, and the molecules of bodies on the other hand, which are so near as not to be visible at all. Then after these come objects which fall within the cognizance of other senses as well as the sense of sight,-minerals, plants, and animals, including man and his ways, who comes last of all. Such is the so-called "positive method" which has been so boldly and consistently developed by A. Comte, and has been maintained by him as giving "the hierarchy of the sciences."
But this method had come into favour before Comtes day, and it is very generally followed now by those who care little for his views. Thus, modern systems of chemistry generally begin with those elements of bodies which they deem to be most simple; systems of crystallography with those forms which are most regular; systems of botany and zoology with those plants and animals which have or seem to have fewest organs and endowments; and these systems come to a close with the discussion of those objects which are the most highly organized and perfect in the kingdom they belong to. It may be said that this method has prevailed during almost the whole of this century. And at the present day it is never doubted but that it is most philosophical. And to this method the great progress and the highly advanced state of science-of which one hears so much-are said to be in a great measure owing.
Now, however the fact may be as to the advanced state of science in our day, whether this be a reality, or only the expression of that popular egotism in which no age is defective, it is surely desirable that we should keep in mind what the circumstances are which led to the adopting of this method, what the ground on which it stands, and what its sanction. For, as to its ground (however we may boast), it manifestly stands on no basis more respectable than our intellectual impotence; and, as to sanction, it has none higher than necessity. Instead of a sound method which shall be natural and objective, and which shall lay hold of Nature as she presents herself, and which may happly join her in her dance, it is the substitution of a method which is wholly subjective and a thing of human convenience merely. It is an attempt to acquire a knowledge of Nature, by laying hold of her train merely, with chalk in hand, to scribble our own notions on her skirts, while we, on our part, are creeping up as high as we may before she shake us off. On the ground of comparative facility, this method may have much to commend it. It may be maintained, perhaps, that considering our intellectual means, or rather our want of them, it is a necessity, at least for the general run of inquirers. But, at any rate, it ought to be remembered respecting it, that it is not at all the reflection of Nature, rather that it is a creation of despair, the despair of man, who, before he will believe, protests that he must see with his own eyes, and who, before he will admit that his position is high, must show that he has climbed up to where he is. Hence in this short life of ours, in those who adopt this method, there is a sufficient reason why they do not and cannot reach the highest truths. In beginning their studies on the level of their own impotency, they place these truths in such remoteness from where they begin, that life is over before they reach them.
This ought to be, and which alone would be, if our intellectual power were equal to what we undertake. If the mind of man in its present embodied state possessed a cosmical intuition, or even such an intuition of our more immediate surroundings as some of the inferior animals appear to possess-if our own organization, for instance, where visible to us when viewed from within, and we could see its whole structure and functions as clearly and distinctly as we can see, or suppose that we see, the structure and functions of an amoeba or a polype, would any one in that case propose to head the zoological system with such creatures as I have just named? No; in that case reason could not be kept from insisting upon knowing and understanding at once the typical animal, that species in which organization and function attain the highest perfection. And, doubtless, all the other members of the zoological field would be distributed in relation to the typical species, and be viewed as so many aimings at or falling away from the type.
It may, perhaps, be thought that, provided we complete the course of study which we have begun, and reach man, though it be at last, it matters little which end we begin at, whether with the HOMO SAPIENS of the "Systema Naturae" of Linne and the old school, or with the ANIMAUX APATHIQUES of Lamarck, or the PROTOZOA of the more modern school. But this were to mistake. This were to suppose that we are creatures of entirely free and pure intelligence, whereas, on the contrary, we are in the main creatures of memory and habit, building up every successive acquisition of knowledge on what we possessed before as its foundation. This were to ignore the law of reintegration, in virtue of which every new step in knowledge tends to suggest and to reproduce our knowledge already acquired, and to lead us to rest in the objects first studied.
Nor is it in natural history, as commonly understood merely, that reason would lead us to adopt a method directly the reverse of that which is popular, if we possessed the intellectual means. If we possessed as clear and distinct a perception of mind, its powers and laws, as we possess, or think we possess, of matter and its laws, we should certainly begin with the study of mind in preference to the study of matter. To this we should be led not only by its magical endowments, and its being our very selves, or at least the field in which we are always digging, and which we are always bent on cultivating, but because it is only through mind, nay, only in terms of mind, that we can know anything about matter, or indeed anything at all. If a thorough and scientific knowledge of mind were easily attainable, there can be no doubt that just as if we had a clear insight into the structure and functioning of the human organism, we should hold Man to be the type in the zoological kingdom, and should view all other organisms in relation to the human frame, so, could we but have a clear and distinct knowledge of mental being and its attributes as a first attainment in philosophy, we should hold Mind to be the type of being, and refer all other sorts of beings which are less highly endowed to mental being, regarding them all as fallings away, or residuary forms or states of that which, in its type, constitutes mind or spirit.
But every such notion as this is quite foreign to the mode of thought which is fashionable in science in our day. That mode is to look only at things which are outside of ourselves-things of which, consequently, we can see but little, and which therefore seem too very simple and easily understood; and hence a tone and general character of modern scientific thought which is much to be deplored. Hence mere matter has come to be the favorite in popular regard, and is permitted to claim the homage of all primary study; and mind, when at last it obtrudes itself in connection with certain organisms, is looked upon merely as some kind of accessory to these organisms, some kind of efflor escence of matter when it happens to be built up into certain molecular structures, as nothing more, in fact, but a mere phenomenon, a mere function, accomplishing itself under the same laws of necessity as determine all material movements, and vanishing altogether when the organism which manifests it deases to act. In a word, a homage to our intellectual weakness, the consecration of our inability to comprehend at first anything but what seems to be quite simple, and the holding up to Nature our own ignorance as the mirror in which the universe is to reflect itself, is betraying us through a forgetfulness of the grounds of our method into a denial of God, the soul, liberty, immortality-all, in fine, that givesw value and dignity to humanity.
Or, if haply we still continue to view nature as a creation, it is leading us in our thoughtlessness to ascribe to the procedure of the great Creator the same intellectual weakness which actuates ourselves. Thus, as the system of scientific knowledge, according to the most modern conception of it, is a gradual development of science out of nescience, beginning with the most empty and simple objects, and gradually rising to those which are more richly endowed (the whole scheme being the dictate of our intellectual weakness and want of comprehension at first), so the whole procedure of Nature itself begins now to be scientifically regarded as a development also from the low to the high, from the simple to the complex. Those animals, for instance, our ocular analysis of which either is, or is supposed to be, most easy, and with which, therefore, the study of Zoology is begun, are named Protozoa-a term which, taken by itself, means something mere, or rather something else, than that they are the first objects of study. And the theory of all plants, all animals, which is at the present moment most popular, is, that they have all been similarly developed from one or a few germs, which were more simple than any plants or animals now existing, and which came into being at an epoch previous to which neither plants nor animals existed at all. Such is the theory of development. But it will abundantly appear as we proceed that the Analytical and the Synthetical in nature are everywhere co-ordinate, and that there is every reason to believe that they were from the first coeval. The theory of development, therefore, considered as an objective theory or history of nature, if it be true at all, is at any rate no more than half the truth.
But any merely cosmological speculation, however inadequate, can only be a small evil compared with a denial of the liberty, the responsibility, and the morality of man. Yet to this result a commencement of scientific study with matter and force as the primary data, if that study is made consistent with itself all through, cannot but lead. Such a method tends to rob us, or rather, indeed, to steal away from us before we are aware the best part of our inheritance as men.
Let us, then, at whateve incovenience, reverse this method. Instead of looking around us, like Buffon, or beneath us, like more modern naturalists, to pick up worms in the first instance, let us rather, like Sokrates, look to ourselves, and see whether, from what we know and feel that we are, something may not be learned of mental Being, and, possibly, through mental Being of Being general.
That mental rather than material Being must be regarded as the type of Being, must be admitted by every one who admits that there is such a thing as mental Being at all. For not only is mind, as has been already stated, more highly endowed than matter, but it rules throughout the universe, and regulates everything. Or, if this be disputed, it must at any rate be admitted that it rules in philosophy, and regulates everything there. It may indeed be said, and it is too often said, that there is not such thing as mental Being; but with equal cogency, to say the least, it has also been often said, and may be said again, that there is no such thing as material Being. Let these two conflicting views, then, in the meantime be set off against each other.
But have we the means, it will here be asked, of learning anything about mental Being with which we thus desire to become acquainted in the first instance? Now to this we answer Yes; better means of becoming acquainted with it than we possess in reference to material Being, though haply the use of these means implies more application, more patience, and more perceverance. Thus, in reference to matter, if we can see it at all, we can see it only on the outside; for matter, when seen, is always on the outside of us. It may, for aught that we know, have an eye within itself to see its own interior, but at any rate it has no tongue to tell us what is there. In a word, we are completely excluded from all direct knowledge of the interior of matter. But with regard to mental Being, on the contrary, we are sure that in certain cases, at least, it has an eye within itself. In the case of ourselves it has such an eye. And with that eye we stand in such immediate communication that we not only hold it as our own, but as our very selves. Its informations do not come to us at second hand at all; its sight are intuitions. We say each for himself and with his entire consciousness of truth,-I feel, I see, I think, I will.
So far, then all is satisfactory. There is no doubt that this "I," this EGO has the power, at least when placed as a member in the system of the universe, to supply itself with contents. There is no doubt that when these contents possess certain characteristics, the EGO holds and receives them as truth, and affirms them to others as truth. And with regard to the most important and the most constantly recurring of these contents, there is no doubt that men in general are agreed about them that they are truth. They constitute the common sense of mankind.
But yet, let it not be conceared that to the speculative mind a difficulty presents itself even with regard to these truths. Thus, whilst the EGO affirms the ambient universe, or any of its features, it also asserts its own liberty, its own right to be free, that is, to be as if it were itself the universe. Hence the serious question, Can this EGO be expected to present to itself truthfully and to conceive aright the external universe to which it thus appears to object? There is obviously room for a quenstion here. In devoting ourselves to the acquisition of a knowledge of mental Being, therefore, our first step must be to acquire, if possible, a knowledge of this EGO, this eye within, which thus in successive moments seems to see and not to see, to affirm and to deny. In a word, we must endeavour, in the first instance, to ascertain the structure or normal mode of functioning of perceptivity as it exists in us; in other words, of consciousness. We have seen that it tends both to affirm and to deny, and curious it is to observe the way in which popular science does homage to this peculiarity. It gives the most hasty solution possible. Within a certain sphere, that of physical science namely, it unconditionally accept an universal affirmative; beyond that sphere it affirms an universal negative! But this solution, as might be expected, does not stand long. After having told us that matter and force, definite and unchangeable in amount from all eternity, is the whole of existence, and that it is by the use of the senses only, aided by abstraction, that anything can be known, it tells us in the next breath that all perception and the external world, as the external senses and consciousness give it, is mere illusion!
One must search far back into the history of philosophy if he is to find a state of anarchy in science as great as that which exists at the present day.
(1) As quite an exception to this, there must be entered here the name of the Contemporary Review. That work, as in reference to the subjects generally which it handles, speaks (July 1866) with great intelligence as to the authors views and altogether in a manner which he has found to be very gratifying and encouraging. There may have been others also a philosophy which is of value to himself he naturally desires to present it to others. He has good evidence that there are a few, though at the present moment they may be but a few, who are deply dissatisfied with the shallowness of that which is only popularly admired as Science, and who are thirsting for a view of Nature which shall both in its application be more adequate to explain phenomena, and in itself more profound and soul-satisfying. It is for these in the meantime that he publishes his results; for others hereafter.
Law of Assimilation
Law of the Conservation of Energy
Law of Diffusion or Expansion
Law of Generic Resemblance
Law of Individuation or Condensation
Law of the Perfect in Form
Law of the Permanence of the Properties of Matter
Law of Types or Species