Can Change the World Again.
A Critical History of Philosophy.
By Asa Mahan
THE DESIGN AND PLAN OF THE WORK.
I PROPOSE, from a standpoint entirely new, in conformity with a plan, and for an end hitherto unattempted, to write a History of Philosophy. In the productions of this character which occupy places in the libraries of world-thinkers, we have, for the most part, a mere chronology of men and their systems, systems more or less distinctly exhibited. We are not, first of all, as we should be, put in full possession of the nature and character of Philosophy itself, of its appropriate and exclusive sphere in the empire of world-thought, and of the great problems of being and its laws, and of causes proximate and ultimate, which it is its province to solve, and which it must solve before its mission is ended. Nor are we informed of the principles and facts which must be laid down and adduced as the basis of all our deductions, and that as the immutable condition of a true solution of the problems under consideration. Last of all no consciously valid tests or criteria are given by which we may distinguish the true from the false methods of philosophizing, valid from invalid principles in science, or real from assumed facts which may be adduced, as the basis of scientific deduction.
On the other hand, we are informed, when any particular system is presented, that such an individual, in such an age, thought out that system. We are not rendered conscious of the real relations of the system to the true and proper system of Philosophy, what was the actual world-problem which the author attempted to solve, what was his actual method of philosophizing, what were the principles he laid down, and what were the facts which he adduced as the basis of his deductions, and wherein and why he succeeded or failed in accomplishing the end proposed.
Hence it is that, in the study of such productions, the reader finds, at length, a confused panorama of multitudinous contradictory systems passing before his mind, systems none of which he very clearly apprehends, until at last he comes to feel that 'chaos has come again.' He accordingly lays down the volume in which these systems are presented, with the consciousness that he has been rather confused than instructed by what he has read. In short, histories of philosophy have not, for the most part, to say the least, been what such productions should be, to wit, not mere chronologies of systems and men who have appeared and disappeared in the sphere of world-thought, but in the true and proper sense of the words, critiques of systems and men of the former ages especially, critiques which shall not only disclose to the thoughtful inquirer the mazes of 'science falsely so-called,' the deceptions of sophistry, the false assumptions and deductions of unbelief, and the hiding-places of error in all its assumed scientific forms, but shall open upon his vision the realm of truth itself; and 'the highway' of true science to that realm.
WHAT WE PURPOSE TO ACCOMPLISH, AND BY WHAT METHOD.
What we purpose to accomplish in the following treatise, together with the method by which we shall attempt to realize that purpose, has been indicated, though not fully developed, in what we have already stated. It is by no means certain that he who is able to point out the errors of others will succeed in remedying the evils of which he complains. Nor does the ability to show where and why others have deviated from the right path imply the possession of that higher wisdom by which the track of truth is revealed to universal mind. Our purpose is to attempt, at least, the accomplishment of both these results. We shall attempt, not only to expose the errors of 'science, falsely so-called,' but at the same time to render plain the track on which real science conducts to the domain of truth itself. Truth, when fully apprehended, not only demonstrates to the mind its own validity as truth, but at the same time makes equally manifest error as it is, error as constituted wholly of 'vain imaginings,' wild assumptions, and false deductions. Naked error is powerless to deceive, and borrows all its effectiveness from the fragments of truth with which it is associated. Error always starts upon the track of truth, and at particular points takes its departure from that path. Philosophy will never have completed its heaven-appointed mission until it shall have fully disclosed, not only the line on which truth leads, but shall have shown, with equal distinctness, where and why error, in all its forms, takes its departure from that line.
We shall, therefore, in this our introduction, stop for a while to disclose and determine 'the real nature and exclusive sphere of Philosophy itself; the great problems which it is its exclusive province to solve, the principles and facts which lie at the basis of valid deductions in this science, the criteria by which we may distinguish valid from invalid principles, and real from assumed or improperly adduced factsthe true and only true method of conducting our inquiries in this scienceand this as distinguished from those which obtain in systems of error, the possible hypotheses of ontology and ultimate causation, and the tests by which we may distinguish among these the true from the false. We shall then be fully prepared, not only for a specification, but critical examination of the various systems which, in the present and past eras of the world's history, have been developed and commended to the regard of mankind.
PHILOSOPHYITS NATURE AND TRUE AND PROPER SPHERE IN THE EMPIRE OF WORLD-THOUGHT.
SCIENCE has been rightfully defined as knowledge systematized. According to Webster, it is 'certain knowledge' or 'leading truths relating to any subject arranged in systematic order.' Pure science, such as the mathematics, is based exclusively upon self-evident principles and facts. The mixed sciences, such as physics and metaphysics, are built upon principles absolutely known as having universal and necessary validity, and facts of perception external or internal, facts known with equal certainty to be real. Knowledge pertaining to self-evident principles and facts is denominated knowledge À priori. Knowledge pertaining to facts of perception is called knowledge À posteriori. This distinction should be kept distinctly in mind, inasmuch as these two forms of knowledge will hereafter be frequently referred to under the above designations. Knowledge of the former kind is denominated necessary, and that of the latter contingent knowledge. Objects of the former class are apprehended as real, with the absolute impossibility of conceiving them as not existing, or as being in any respects different from, or opposite to, what we apprehended them to be. Objects of the latter class are conceived to be real, with the possibility of conceiving of their non-reality, or of their being different from what we apprehended them to be. While I know space, for example, to be a reality in itself, I find it to be an absolute impossibility for me even to conceive of its nonexistence, or as being, in any respect, different from what I apprehend it to be. The idea of space, therefore, is denominated a necessary idea. I know myself and body, on the other hand, as realities, and that with the same absoluteness that I know space to be a reality. Self and body, however, are conceived of as realities, with the possibility of conceiving that they do not exist, or that they might be, in themselves, other than they are. Our conceptions of self and body, therefore, are denominated contingent ideas. As far as absoluteness of validity is concerned, real knowledge in one form is just as valid for the reality and character of its object as in the other. Knowledge, in its necessary and contingent forms, differs merely and exclusively in regard to the nature of its objects and our modes of conceiving of the same, but not at all as far as validity is concerned. I know myself, for example, as a real self-conscious personality, with the same absoluteness that I know space as a reality. The difference pertains exclusively to my modes of conceiving of these realities. The same holds equally of real knowledge in all its forms, as far as absoluteness of validity is concerned.
Science, in constructing systems of truth, has to do with nothing but real knowledge; that is, with principles known to possess absolute and necessary validity, and with facts known, with equal certainty, to be real. Should any principle or fact whose validity or certainty is not thus known be taken up as a part of such system, the whole process would thereby be vitiated. In the sphere of human thought we meet, not only with forms of real knowledge, but with those of assumptions, beliefs, opinions, and conjectures. Systems based upon, or constructed out of the terms last noticed, are logical fictions, probabilities, or mere fancies, and not creations of science. To impose upon the public deductions based upon mere assumptions, conjectures, beliefs, or opinions, as truths of science, is sophistry. Real science never attempts to systematize or elucidate the unknowable, or the unknown. Realities discovered and brought within the sphere of actual knowledge, these are the exclusive objects of its authoritative teachings. Realities admitted to be located within the domain of the unknowable, or unknown, are thereby, in fact and form, wholly absent from the sphere of true science. Upon assumptions, nothing but logical fictions can be constructed. From mere beliefs, opinions, or conjectures, nothing but probabilities, possibilities, or guesses can be deduced.
Philosophy differs from science only as being less general and more specific and circumscribed in its sphere of inquiry and deduction. Science systematizes knowledge in all its forms. Philosophy, distinguished from science as a part from the whole, attempts 'an explanation of the reason of things,' or the causes of facts and eventsultimate causes especially. The grand problem of Philosophy pertains to the ultimate reason, the finally all-determining cause which reveals the reason why the facts of universal nature are as they are, and not otherwise. The problems of ontology, the inquiry what realities do exist, what are their nature and essence, qualities and attributes, what are the laws which govern them, and what is the ultimate reason or cause of the facts under consideration, these are problems with which Philosophy, in its true and proper sphere, concerns itself. In studying the history of Philosophy, we shall find that these are the main problems professedly solved in all the systems which we shall have occasion to investigate. Germany in former years claimed for itself the honour of being the home of Philosophy. Thinkers in other nations were occupied mainly in the sphere of psychology and kindred sciences, while German thought was devoted to the solution of the great problems pertaining to the conditions of valid knowledge, of ontology, of being, its nature and laws, and especially of ultimate causation. This claim was just as far as the true and proper idea of Philosophy itself, its real sphere in the empire of thought, and its great problems are concerned. Germany, as we shall see hereafter, erred fundamentally, as far as method is concerned, and, consequently, as utterly failed in the solution of the problems of world-thought.
WHAT DOES PHILOSOPHY IMPLY?
Philosophy is not a primary, but an ultimate form of thought. Science, as we have seen, is knowledge reduced to system. Philosophy is science in its ultimate form. Science as Philosophy, and in all other forms, implies the pre-existence of real knowledge. Knowledge must exist before it can be systematized or explained and elucidated. Neither science nor Philosophy can create knowledge. They can, we repeat, but systematize and elucidate the previously known. Real knowledge exists in the Intelligence in two forms, the systematized and elucidated, as in science and Philosophy, and in those primordial forms which precede science.
Relations of these two Forms of Knowledge to each other.
A very important inquiry here presents itselfto wit, what are the relations of these two forms of knowledge, the primordial and the systematized and elucidated, to each other? The former, we remark in general, must contain, in an unreflective and unsystematized form, all that is found in the reflective and systematized form. All systems of science and Philosophy are constituted wholly of principles and facts, the former organizing and elucidating the latter. These principles and facts must have been previously known, that is, in their primordial forms, or they could not have been employed in the construction of systems of knowledge. When we recur to the action of the Intelligence, and contemplate its states prior to all proper scientific movements, we shall discover two distinct forms of activity, the primal proper, or the purely intuitional, and what is denominated the practical, a state intermediate between intuition and science. By intuition all the elements which constitute systems of knowledge are given. In this primal action of the Intelligence, we have real knowledge with no intermixture of error. The reason is obvious. We have here the pure and exclusive action of the Intelligence uninfluenced by that of any of the other faculties. If the Intelligence should err here, it would be because it is its nature, or the necessary law of its activity, to err, and knowledge proper in any form would be impossible.
In the intermediate procedure of the Intelligence, the procedure denominated practical, we have, in their concrete and particular forms, all the principles and facts which constitute systems of knowledge. The child and the peasant, for example, when they perceive that two given objects are each equal to one and the same third object, know, with the same absoluteness that the philosopher does, that the two objects first designated are equal to one another. While all in common draw the same conclusions in view of the same facts, and all are guided in doing so by the same principlesto wit, things equal to the same things are equal to one another, the true philosopher only understands clearly the reason why he makes such deductions in view of the facts referred to. The reason is that he only knows this principle in its abstract and universal form, and in its light reflectively contemplates these facts. Knowledge, in its original, concrete, and particular forms, cannot be systematized. It is only when principles are evolved and presented in their necessary and universal forms, and facts are set in the clear light of such principles, that we have science or knowledge systematized, that is, truth in its scientific forms.
While in pure intuition we meet with nothing but the elements of real knowledge, in the practical forms of thought we find truth intermingled with error. The reason is that here, what does not occur in the primal intuitional state, we have the action of the Intelligence in connection with that of other faculties. As a consequence, we have forms of real knowledge intermingled with assumptions, opinions, beliefs, conjectures, and guesses, judgments, some of which are and some of which are not true, while others may or may not be true.
Criteria of True and False Systems of Science.
When systems are constructed exclusively from principles and facts which are the objects of intuitional knowledge, and from deductions necessarily implied by such principles and facts, we then, and only then, have true science. When, on the other hand, mere assumptions, opinions, beliefs, conjectures, or guesses, with deductions from the same, pass over and lie at the foundation, or enter as constituent elements into the structure of systems of affirmed knowledge, we then have 'science, falsely so-called.' We have here undeniably universal and infallible tests or criteria, by which, of affirmed systems of knowledge or science, we are to distinguish the valid from the invalid, the true from the false. Systems of the former classes are to be esteemed as rightfully having place in the sphere of true science. Those of the latter class are to be regarded as having place nowhere but within the circle of logical fiction. Deductions of the former class are to be regarded as truths of science; those of the latter, as the lawless sophisms or wild guesses of false science.
PRINCIPLES AND FACTS OF TRUE SCIENCE AS Distinguished FROM ASSUMPTIONS, OPINIONS, Conjectures, ETC.
A question of fundamental importance here arisesto wit, how shall we distinguish principles and facts of real science from mere assumptions, opinions, beliefs, conjectures, or guesses, which may be employed as principles or facts in the construction of systems of science? A ready answer can now be given to this inquiry, an answer the universal and absolute validity of which must be admitted as soon as the subject is understood. We begin with
Principles as distinguished from mere Assumptions.
Affirmed systems of science may, undeniably, be based either upon valid principles, or upon mere assumptions, that is, unauthorized judgments employed as principles in the construction of such systems. How shall we distinguish the former from the latter? Every judgment of the former class has, undeniably, and as all thinkers admit, these immutable and inseparable characteristics, absolute universality and necessity. In other words, it is absolutely impossible for the mind to conceive that they are not, and must not be, valid in themselves, and do not and must not hold true in respect to all objects and events to which they are applicable. Take as example such judgments as these: Things equal to the same things are equal to one another; A whole is greater than any of its Parts; Body implies space; Succession implies time; Events imply a cause; Phenomena imply substance; In every appearance some reality appears; The conditioned implies the unconditioned; and, It is impossible for the same thing at the same moment to exist and not exist. If we consider any one of these judgments, or all of them together, we shall perceive absolutely that they, one and all, have self-evident validity, and that universally; that they not only are true, but that they cannot be false, and cannot but hold true relatively to all objects and events to which they are applicable. Systems of knowledge resting upon such principles must have a strictly scientific basis. There are four, and only four, conditions on which any proposition or judgment can have self-evident validity. They are the following:
1. When the subject and predicate are identical, as in the judgment, A is A; these are mere tautological judgments, and, of course, are of no use in science.
2. When the predicate represents an essential element of our conception of the subject, as in the judgment, All bodies have extension; these are explicative judgments, and, as such, have important uses in science.
3. When the subject implies the predicate, as in the judgment, Body implies space; as in all such cases it is impossible to conceive of the reality of the object represented by the subject without affirming the same of that represented by the predicate, all such judgments do and must have universal and necessary validity. These are called implied or implicative judgments, and may be and are employed as principles in all the sciences.
4. When the subject sustains to the predicate the relation of absolute and intuitive incompatibility, and the judgment affirms that relation, as in the judgments, It is impossible for the same thing at the same time to exist and not to exist; and, A strait line cannot enclose a space. All the axioms and principles in all the sciences belong to one or the other of the two classes last named, the positive to the former, and the negative to the latter. No judgment can have universal and necessary validity, but upon one of the four conditions above specified, for the reason that it is utterly impossible for the mind even to conceive of any other condition on which any judgment can possess self-evident, universal, and necessary validity. We thus have an absolutely valid test by which we can infallibly determine the character and claims of any proposition or judgment which may be employed as a first principle in science. Any judgment not having any one of these characteristics is to be rejected, together with the system based upon it, as utterly void of validity.
What, as distinguished from valid principles in science, are assumptions? They are, we answer, judgments having no self-evident validity in themselves, which have not, if true, been verified as true, or which may be false in fact; judgments which are, nevertheless, employed as principles in the construction of systems of science. All systems resting upon assumptions instead of valid principles, whatever their characteristics in other respects, and whatever names they may represent, are nothing but logical fictions. When any system has been ascertained and shown to rest on such a basis, no further examination of its claim is required. It is to be esteemed and treated as an unsubstantial creation of false science.
Opinions, Beliefs, Conjectures, etc., as distinguished from Facts of real
But how shall we distinguish real knowledge pertaining to realities and facts from mere opinions, beliefs, and conjectures pertaining to the same objects? Phenomena of the class last named, we answer, may be and often are changed, varied, or utterly and for ever displaced from human regard. We may hold one opinion or form of belief to-day, and its opposite to-morrow. Forms of belief which for ages, it may be, have had absolute authority in human regard, may, by increase of knowledge, be utterly displaced from human thought and regard. Real knowledge, on the other hand, has the character of absolute immutability. So far as we really and truly know an object, our convictions pertaining to it can never by any possibility be either changed or modified.
Mutability, then, is the fixed characteristic which reveals and distinguishes all mental apprehensions and judgments as mere opinions, beliefs, conjectures or guesses. Absolute immutability, on the other hand, as absolutely reveals, characterizes, and distinguishes from all other phenomena real knowledge in all its forms. When we have apprehensions and convictions relatively to any objects or facts, apprehensions and convictions which neither reasoning, nor sophistry, nor any increase of knowledge or forms of experience can displace, change, or modify, here we find ourselves in the presence of real knowledge, or knowledge in no form has place in human thought. Who will question the validity of the above distinctions and criteria? All systems of error, then, have their basis in assumptions, or are constituted in their superstructure of mere beliefs, opinions, conjectures, or guesses at truth. All systems of real science have for their basis universal and necessary principles, and in their superstructure are constituted exclusively of the forms and elements of real knowledge.
Intuitions and Forms of Belief which take rise from Intuitions.
We can now understand how it is that real intuitions are often confounded with forms of belief which are sometimes connected with and take rise from the former, and how it is that the validity of the former is called in question from the fact that the latter is found to be false. From the appearance of the earth as visible to the eye, the race once held that our globe is a vast plane, dotted with mountains, hills, valleys, lakes and oceans. The visible is the object of intuition. The judgment that the earth is a plane, and not a globe, is an unauthorized inference deduced from the intuition, an opinion which a wider induction of facts proved to be false. From the actual visibilities of the earth, as related to the sun, the moon, and the stars, men once inferred that all the heavenly bodies moved daily round the earth. What was actually seen is one thing; an inference deduced from visible facts is quite another. In what was really seen we have facts of actual intuitive knowledge. In what was inferred we have opinions, beliefs, conjectures, in all of which there is liability to error. The same holds true in all similar cases. In all appearances, even in what are called the optical illusions of mirage, some reality appears. In what actually appears we have facts of intuition, and here is real knowledge. In what is inferred from such facts, here, and only here, is the illusion. Such discriminations must be made everywhere; otherwise we shall confound truth with error.
CONDITION OF REAL KNOWLEDGE.
Science, as we have seen, is knowledge systematized. A question of fundamental importance here presents itselfto wit, What is the immutable condition of real knowledge? To this question but one answer can be given: Knowledge implies a subject possessed of the capacity or power to know, and an object so correlated to this faculty, that when the proper conditions are fulfilled, knowledge of said object necessarily arises, in consequence of that reciprocal relation. On no other condition is it possible for us even to conceive of the existence or possibility of knowledge. If knowledge exists at all, it must be, we repeat, because there exists a faculty which is, relatively to some object, a power of knowing, and an object which is, relatively to such power, an object of knowledge; and the power and object in such relations to each other, that real knowledge arises in consequence of this relation. Let anyone attempt to conceive of the fact or possibility of a knowledge of any object whatever on any other condition than the one before us, and he will find himself utterly unable to form such a conception. We have here, then, the one absolute condition of real knowledgea condition which properly takes rank as a principle of science.
THE QUESTION, WHAT CAN WE KNOW?HOW ANSWERED.
The question, What can we know? can be correctly answered but by a valid answer to anotherto wit, What do we know, and what is implied by facts of actual knowledge? À priori, we cannot determine whether any or what faculties or objects of knowledge do, or do not, exist. The existence and nature of all powers and causes of every kind are revealed and determined, not à priori, but exclusively, by the known effects which they produce, and through what is implied by such effects. So of a power of knowledge. The existence and nature of said power can, by no possibility, be determined but through facts of actual knowledge. The question, What can we know? together with the other question, What are the extent and limits of valid knowledge? is determinable, we repeat, only through a valid determination of the facts and objects of actual knowledge, and what is implied by the same. We have in the answer now given to the question, What can we know? another immutable principle of universal science. Any other answer to this question conducts us, not in the direction of true, but of false science. The fundamental postulate of all the sciences, is the existence of the intelligence as a faculty with correlated objects of valid knowledge. Take away this one postulate, and we have undeniably no basis for scientific induction or deduction in any direction whatever. If no reality is known and recognizable as known, we have self-evidently nothing, not even knowledge itself, to systematize, explain, or elucidate. No principles are, or can be, of more fundamental importance and authority in science than those just defined, together with the criteria previously givencriteria by which we can infallibly distinguish, in respect to principles and facts of science, all forms of valid knowledge from assumptions, beliefs, opinions, and conjectures which enter, as constituent elements, into all systems of 'science falsely so-called.'
CONDITIONS, EXTENT, AND LIMITs OF VALid KNOWLEDGE AS AFFIRMED IN ALL SYSTEMS OF MATERIALISM AND IDEALISM.
The conditions, extent, and limits of valid knowledge as affirmed by the founders and advocates of Materialism on the one hand, and Idealism on the other, now claim a moment's attention. Materialism, as taught by all its advocates, affirms the absolute impossibility of valid knowledge, but upon one exclusive conditionthat the object shall be external to the faculty of knowledge. In other words, we can have no real knowledge of any realities but such as are external to us. Idealism, on the other hand, denies absolutely the possibility of all knowledge of outward objects. In the different schools of idealism, the condition of valid knowledge is expressed in two forms: 1. That there must be a ' synthesis of being and knowing;' that is, that the subject and object of knowledge must be one and identical. This is the condition on which, as a principle, pantheism and subjective idealism are in fact and form based. 2. 'An absolute identity of being and knowledge;' that is, that knowledge itself and the object of knowledge must be one and identical. It is a question in dispute among German thinkers whether Schelling or Hegel first announced this condition as a principle in science.
Remarks on these Hypotheses.
On these hypotheses we have the following fundamental remarks to offer: 1. The condition of valid knowledge, in neither of the forms above announced, has even the appearance of self-evident certainty, and consequently has no claim whatever to the place in the sphere of thought assigned to said condition by its advocatesto wit, that of a principle in sciencea principle which has universal and necessary validity. Knowledge not merely in one, but in three distinct forms, and the consequent existence of corresponding powers of knowledge, are equally conceivable, and, therefore, in themselves possible. We can conceive of an intelligence to which nothing but a knowledge of external objects is possible. Equally conceivable is an intelligence capacitated exclusively for subjective knowledge, or of one which shall know its own knowledge. Finally, we can with equal facility conceive of a power of intelligence to which knowledge in all these three forms shall be both possible and actual. All this is undeniable. How, then, can we determine under which of the above conceptions the human intelligence shall be classed? Not à priori, as is attempted in each of the schools under consideration. A penny is about to be thrown into the air. We should regard an individual as demented who should affirm himself possessed of the power to determine by à priori insight, and that with absolute certainty, which side will fall uppermost. Equally removed from such insight are the three cases under consideration. The possibility of knowledge in any one form designated is just as conceivable, and, therefore, as probable in any given case as in any of the others. À priori, it is just as possible and probable in itself that the human intelligence is capacitated for real knowledge in all these forms, as in any one of them.
The question before us, then, is to be determined wholly and exclusively à posteriori; that is, by reference to actual facts of consciousness. If we are actually conscious of knowledge, but in one exclusive form, the objective or subjective, or of actually knowing no other object but the mere act of knowing itself, such, we are to affirm, are the nature, extent, and limits of our faculty of knowledge. If, on the other hand, we are absolutely conscious of actual knowledge in all these forms, upon this adamantine fact we are to base our deductions in regard to the nature, extent, and limits of the human intelligence as a faculty of knowledge. The hypothesis of Materialism, and those of Idealism in all its forms, stand revealed as mere lawless assumptions, and nothing else.
2. While the hypothesis of Materialism on the one hand, and those of Idealism on the other, are utterly incompatible the one with the other, the evidence in favour of the claims of the former is absolutely equal to that in favour of the latter. The possibility of knowledge in its objective is just as conceivable as in its subjective forms. No à priori proof, evidence, or antecedent probability, can be adduced in favour of one as against the other. The evidence à posteriori, also, is balanced with equal absoluteness. We are as perfectly conscious of actual knowledge in one form as in the other. No possible argument can be adduced in favour of one hypothesis, an argument which does not bear with equal absoluteness in favour of the other.
3. In the clearest possible testimony of universal consciousness we have absolute disproof of both these hypotheses. If we are conscious of anything, we are conscious, and equally so, of actual knowledge, both in its subjective and objective forms. In every act of external perception, for example, we are just as absolutely conscious of knowing 'things without us,' as we are of knowing facts of internal experience. To deny this is, in the language of Sir William Hamilton, to affirm 'consciousness to be a liar from the beginning.'
4. Each of these hypotheses, by impeaching the validity of consciousness in one form, implies the absolute impossibility of real knowledge in any form. Each hypothesis denies absolutely the validity of consciousness in one of its known forms. If this faculty, as is affirmed, fundamentally deceives us in one form, it is to be trusted nowhere. Each of these hypotheses actually saps the foundation of knowledge in every sphere, actual and conceivable.
5. The hypothesis of Pure Idealism, that of 'absolute identity of being and knowing'that is, that knowledge itself and the object of knowledge are always one and identicalis of utterly inconceivable and impossible validity. Thought without a thinker, ideas existing nowhere and in no time, and existing as the attributes of no real being, phenomena without substance, events without causes, and knowledge without a subject or object, except knowledge itselfcan a greater absurdity have place in this or any other world? It was well said by a great German philosopher that the system of Hegel, which was based upon this hypothesis, was 'nothing in itself nor of itself; nor was its author in himself, but beside himself.' We can affirm with perfect safety that any professed system of science which has its basis in either of the above hypotheses must be void of all claims to truth, if that hypothesis is not and cannot be verified.
FOUR, AND BUT FOUR, REALITIES ARE REPRESENTED, OR ARE REPRESENTABLE, IN HUMAN THOUGHT.
We now advance to a consideration of the hypothesis which lies at the foundation of this entire Treatise, the hypothesis about which all the inductions, deductions, expositions, and elucidations of said Treatise revolve. The hypothesis is this: Four, and but four, realities ever have been, or by any possibility can be, represented as realities in human thought. We refer, of course, to spirit and matter, time and space. Whatever is represented or representable as real, must of necessity be apprehended as one or the other of these realities, or as a property, attribute, state or effect of the same. The reason is obvious and undeniable. Nothing else is the object of perception external or internal, and no other reality is implied by what we perceive.
Body and its qualities, of which we become conscious through external, and mind with its operations, of which we become conscious in internal, perception, do imply the reality of time and space, and imply nothing else. Time and space by themselves do not imply the reality of either matter or spirit, much less, if possible, do they imply any other reality. Undeniably, no reality is or can be representable in human thought but objects of external and internal perception, and such as are implied by what we perceive. All must admit that no other realities are the conscious objects of perception, external or internal, but matter and spirit, with their phenomena, and that these imply no other realities but time and space. These realities are, undeniably, represented in human thought, and it is equally manifest that none others can be thus represented.
Let anyone attempt to form a positive conception of some reality which is neither matter, spirit, time, nor space, and he will find that he has attempted an utter impossibility. The reason is obvious. No elements of thought exist, elements out of which such a conception can by any possibility be constructed. All ideas in the mind, and all language also, take exclusive form from our apprehensions of these four realities, and of their apprehended attributes, properties or phenomena. Whatever is apprehended as not being one or the other of these realities, or their properties or phenomena, is, of necessity, apprehended as nothingas no reality at all. Thoughts of such realities must be utterly objectless, and as wholly void of content in themselves; while the words representing such ideas must be totally void of meaning. Human thought is necessarily limited to these four realities, their nature, attributes, properties, phenomena, and mutual relations included.
NATURE, CHARACTER, AND MUTUAL RELATIONS OF THESE FOUR REALITIES.
Questions of fundamental importance here arise; namely, What are the essential characteristics, as represented in human thought, of these four realities? What are their mutual relationships, the one to each of the others? and what are their relations as objects of knowledge to the human intelligence? These questions, as we believe, admit of definite answers, and may be settled upon purely scientific grounds. Let us proceed to the accomplishment of these objects.
All these Realities are distinctly represented in Human Thought.
Our first position is this, all these realities are, in fact, distinctly represented in human thought. No individual, young or old, learned or unlearnedan individual of common understandingmisappre- hends us when we speak to him of matter or spirit, time or space. Nor does he ever confound any one of these realities with any other. In all languages, also, specific terms are employed to represent each of these realities. In all systems of Philosophy, too, the existence of all these realities, and the validity of our knowledge of the same, are affirmed or denied, and that in forms which imply the absolute universality and identity of human apprehension of all these existences. When philosophers, for example, deny the existence of any one of these realities, or impeach the validity of our knowledge of the same, no one misunderstands them. Such facts absolutely evince the existence in all minds of the apprehensions, clear and distinct, of all these four realities. Nor will real thinkers of any school deny the validity of these statements.
No other Reality is or can be represented in Human Thought.
Nor is any other reality represented in human thought; nor can we receive any such representation until some fifth entity, having none of the properties of any of these, is distinctly manifested to us. À priori, we cannot determine what realities do or do not exist in time and space. À posteriori, we perceive, and consequently know of none but material or mental entities, together with their attributes, properties, and relations. Nor of any effects ever perceived by us, are we able to affirm absolutely that they are not the phenomena of material or spiritual entities. No philosopher has ever witnessed a single phenomenon not connected with one or other of these substances. Pure idealists give us a system which has no material or spiritual substance in it. Every constituent element of that system, however, is taken, body and soul, from one of the known attributes of one of these substancesto wit, thought. Suppose that all of these realities, with all their attributes, properties, and mutual relations, were left out. Where would be our material for the construction of any system, or for the formation of any conception of any reality whatever? The fact that, in such circumstances, we can have no thought representations of any realities of any kind, evinces absolutely that the elements of all our conceptions and ideas are derived wholly from these four realities.
These Realities wholly unlike each other.
We remark, in the next place, that as represented in human thought, each of these realities is wholly unlike every other. There is not an essential property or attribute of any one of them that, in any form, resembles any property or attribute which, as represented in human thought, pertains to either of the others. When we have fully analyzed our apprehensions of space, for example, we cannot find in the idea a single element which can be found in our apprehension of either of the other realities. So in all other cases. When we compare our conceptions of matter and spirit, we find in these conceptions no common elements. What is there in thought, feeling, and acts of will, which include all the attributes of mind, that in any sense resembles extension and form, essential properties of matterthat is, whenever we compare these realities as actually represented in human thought? We sometimes, but never in the same sense, employ the same term to represent certain properties of each of these realities. We speak, for example, of body, space, and time, as having extension. But neither, as represented in thought, has extension in the same sense and form that either of the others has. The fact is undeniable that, as represented in our apprehensions, each of these realities is wholly unlike every other. We may, by assumption, resolve matter into spirit, and spirit into matter, and time and space into mere laws of thought. In our actual apprehensions, however, they are still the same distinct, separate, and dissimilar realities that they were before. We may assume that certain movements of matter eliminate thought and other mental acts and states, and that the content of all objects of external perception is sensation, a mere feeling of the mind. But we can no more conceive matter as exercising the functions of spirit, or as identical with any mental state, than we can conceive of the annihilation of time or space. We can as readily conceive of empty space as actually thinking, feeling, and willing, or as possessed of the properties of solidity and form, as in thought to affirm the former class of phenomena to be functions of matter, or the latter to be attributes of mind. Some scientists have assured us that in dissecting and analyzing a dead man's brains, they have discovered the identical process by which matter eliminates thought. With just as great a show of wisdom they might affirm that they had discovered and demonstrated that the powers of thought, feeling, and willing, together with that of gravitation, necessarily inhere as essential properties in a circle or square. Thought, with all the other functions of mind, is not at a greater remove from our apprehensions of a triangle than it is from that of matter. Of the validity of all these statements every mind must be absolutely conscious.
These Realities differ equally relatively to our Manner of Perceiving and Apprehending them.
If we contemplate these realities with reference to our manner of perceiving and apprehending them, we shall find them in forms equally fundamental, distinguished and peculiarized, the one from each of the others. Matter, we consciously perceive, in all its properties, as an exterior object distinct and separate from ourselves. Of mind, in all its functions and operations, we are conscious as the object of internal perception. As thus perceived, these realities are never in thought confounded, but for ever separated, the one from the other. Space we are conscious of apprehending as implied by body, which we perceive, and as the place of the same. Time we apprehend as implied by successive events of which we are conscious, and as the place of such events. As related to our manner of perceiving and apprehending them, each of these realities thus stands at an infinite remove from every other.
There are two peculiarities which separate time and space, with their properties, from spirit and matter, with their phenomena. The former we apprehend as existing, with the impossibility of conceiving of their non-existence, or as being in any respects different from our apprehensions of them. Matter and spirit we apprehend as realities, with the possibility of conceiving of their non-being. While we cannot conceive of space or time as not existing, we can conceive of them as unoccupied by substances and events. We therefore classify our ideas of the former realities as necessary, and those of matter and spirit as contingent, ideas. Time and space, also, are, though in different senses, apprehended as absolutely infinite and unlimited; the former in the past and future, and the latter in all directions. Matter and our own spirits, in senses equally special and peculiar, are apprehended as finite and limited; the former as existing in and occupying space, and the latter in the range of its faculties. Thus distinct and separated in human thought and apprehension is each of these realities from every other. In this light true science must and will recognize them.
These Realities sustain to each other fixed and definable relations.
While these realities, as universally represented in human thought, are thus unlike, distinct, and dissimilar, each from every other, they all sustain to each other fixed and definable relations. Some of these we have already specified. Space and time are apprehended as the places of substances and events, and as the necessary conditions of their existence and occurrence. We cannot conceive of substances and events without apprehending them as existing somewhere, that is, in space, and as occurring in definite periods of time. The ideas of space and time also render conceivable the possibility of the existence and occurrence of substances and events. If the former are not real, the latter cannot be.
While our ideas of space and time, that is, necessary ideas, are thus universally given as the logical antecedents of contingent ideas, those of matter and spirit, and in the order of origination in the mind, that is, contingent ideas, as universally precede necessary ones. Space and time are apprehended but as the places of substances and events, and as implied by the same. In no other forms can the former be defined. It is self-evident that a reality which is and can be apprehended, but as the place of, and as implied by, some other reality, cannot have been apprehended before the latter. Contingent ideas, then, must have been originated in the mind before necessary ones could have been. These relations, the logical and chronological order of these ideas, should be clearly apprehended and kept distinctly in mind, as they will hereafter be found to be of fundamental importance in the explanation of different systems of Philosophy.
Another relation of equal importance between our apprehensions of these realities here claims special attention. We refer to the relation of absolute compatibility. There is absolutely nothing in our ideas of any one of these realities in the remotest degree incompatible with our apprehensions of either of the others. The idea that space is a reality in itself is in no sense or form incompatible with the idea that time is also, and in the same sense, real. The idea that space and time are realities in themselves is equally compatible with the conception that matter and spirit are also realities in themselves. Nothing is or can be more self-evident than this, that an implied reality cannot be incompatible with the reality by which the former is implied, and that the latter cannot be incompatible with the former. The same relation of absolute compatibility exists between our apprehensions of matter and spirit. Matter is apprehended as relatively to spirit an object, and the latter as a faculty, of knowledge. The conception of the reality of one is in no sense or form incompatible with that of the other. Matter is apprehended as a substance existing in and occupying space, and, consequently, as possessed, among others, of the qualities of real extension and form. Mind is apprehended as an immaterial substance exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and willing. The idea that the object of the former apprehension exists as a reality in itself in no sense whatever contradicts the idea that the object of the latter exists as a similar reality. Nor can we find, on the most rigid scrutiny, in one of these apprehensions, a single element in the remotest degree contradictory to any element existing in the other. How, for example, can extension, form, colour and attraction, existing as qualities in one substance, be in the remotest degree incompatible with any form of thought, feeling, and willing, existing as attributes of another substance?
These Apprehensions not Self-contradictory.
Nor, we remark finally, can any self-contradictory elements be found in our apprehensions of any one of these realities, elements which prove such apprehension to be invalid for the reality and character of its object. As we here encounter the only formal argument ever adduced against the validity of our knowledge of the realities under consideration, very special attention is requested to what we have now to offer. Our apprehensions of each of these realities are, it is affirmed, self-contradictory, and, therefore, invalid. Let us see if any such contradictions do indeed exist in these apprehensions. Our ideas of space and time are undeniably absolutely simple ideas, and can, therefore, by no possibility, be either of them self-contradictory. The fundamental elements of contingent ideas are substance and attribute, the latter implying the former. Here, undeniably, is not the remotest appearance of self-contradiction. The implied, and that by which the former is implied, cannot be incompatible the one with the other. The same holds true of all the constituent elements relating to each other, elements of each of these apprehensions. There can be nothing, for example, in any form of thought that is incompatible with the existence of any feeling or act of will, facts which exist or occur in the mind. Nor is there the remotest appearance of incompatibility between any one of these classes of phenomena and any other. The idea of mind as possessed of threefold capacities, those of thought, feeling, and willing, is just as self-consistent as any idea can be. Analyze the facts of mind as carefully and fully as may be, and we shall find between every one and every other of them the fixed relation of absolute compatibility.
In respect to what is intrinsic in our apprehensions of matter, but one seeming contradiction is found, and this not in the idea as it actually exists in the mind, but in another substituted for this, and constituted for the occasion. The apprehension actually existing in the mind is this: all objects of external perception are apprehended as compound substances constituted of simple parts, the former being divisible, and the latter wholly incapable of being divided, the simple, also, being given not as perceived, but as implied by the compound which is an object of perception. Here, again, we have the perceived and the implied, between which there can by no possibility be any real nor even apparent contradiction. The seeming contradiction is thus rendered plausible. Take any material object we please. We apprehend it as a whole, made up of parts. Conceive this object divided, and then form a conception of either of the parts. The result will be that this new conception will be found to be like the first, constituted of the idea of a whole made up of parts. Repeat the operation as long and often as we please, and the same result will be obtainedthe conception of a whole made up of parts. Hence the deduction that all our apprehensions of material objects are those of compounds constituted of compounds, which is self-contradictory. Our apprehensions of material objects being thus self-contradictory, the further inference is deduced that such apprehensions cannot be valid for the reality and character of their objects. The fallacy involved in such reasoning is obvious. A fiction is here substituted for a reality. The actually existing apprehension of material objects is, as we have seen, not that of a compound made up of parts which are themselves compounded, and capable of being divided, but of a compound constituted of absolute simples, simples which cannot be separated into parts. To prove the existence of contradictory elements in any conception, we must take that conception as actually given, and not as it is not given, in consciousness. The conception of material objects actually given is wholly void of real or apparent contradiction. The fiction substituted for what is real has in it incompatible elements. The manner in which this self -contradictory fiction is formed may be readily explained. When we form a conception of any material object, we employ a secondary intellectual faculty, the understanding, or notion-forming power of the mind. All such objects apprehended through this faculty must be conceived of as wholes constituted of parts. If we conceive an object to be divided, and then, through this secondary faculty, form a conception of either of the divided parts, we shall obtain the same result as before, the conception of a compound constituted of parts. Continue the process of division and of conception as long as we please, and the same result follows, the conception of a compound made up of parts. Now, it is not through such a process, or by means of this conceptive faculty, that we obtain our idea of the simple which cannot be divided. This idea, on the other hand, is furnished wholly through a primary faculty, the reason, the organ of implied knowledge, the faculty which gives us the necessary elements which enter into all our conceptions. We perceive body, succession and events. Reason, on occasion of such perceptions, apprehends space, time, substance, and cause, as necessarily implied by what we perceive. So, when we perceive the compound, reason apprehends the simple as implied by the perceived. The understanding blends the perceived and implied elements into the conception represented by the term body.
Between the perceived and implied elements constituting this conception, as in all other cases of perceived and implied knowledge, even the appearance of incompatibility or self- contradiction is impossible. It is thus demonstrably evident that our apprehensions of no one of the realities under consideration are in any sense or form incompatible with those of any other, and that our actual apprehension of each one of them is equally void of contradictory elements.
An argument against the validity of our knowledge of all material objects is also drawn from our affirmed apprehensions of the infinite divisibility of matter. On the one hand, it is affirmed that it is impossible for us to conceive of matter as real without conceiving of it as being infinitely divisible. On the other hand, infinite divisibility cannot be represented in thought. Hence the inference that our ideas of this substance cannot be valid. Such is the argument of Kant, and from him as given by Herbert Spencer. In our actual apprehension of this substance, as we have seen, it is not conceived at all as being, in itself, infinitely divisible, but the opposite. Suppose, now, that we can or cannot conceive of it as being thus divisible. From this fact we cannot infer that it does not exist in the form in which we actually conceive it to exist. Who doubts the actual existence in space of a straight line one inch long? Yet all that Kant and Spencer have said about the divisibility of matter apply in fact and form, as shown in 'The Science of Natural Theology,' pp. 272, 273, to our apprehensions of every such line. We should subject ourselves to the just charge of infinite stupidity if we should infer from such quibbling that no such lines do or can exist. So of the same identical argument against the validity of our idea of matter. Matter in any form, as conceived by the understanding, is divisible. Not so of its constituent elements as apprehended by the reason.
Necessary Deductions from the Principles and Facts just evinced as True.
1. Any systems of science or Philosophy, systems built upon the hypothesis that the relation of incompatibility exists between our apprehensions of any one and any other of the four realities under consideration, or that any of these apprehensions are, in themselves, self-contradictoryany such systems, we say, have place nowhere but in the sphere of 'science falsely so-called.' They can have no claims whatever to our regard as 'knowledge systematized.'
2. Equally void of all claims to our regard, as a principle in science, is the hypothesis that lies at the basis of Materialism on the one hand, and of Idealism on the other, to wit, that there exists but one substance or principle of all things. It is demonstrably evident that no form of proof, positive evidence, or even antecedent probability, can be adduced in favour of this hypothesis. No one will have the effrontery to claim for it the prerogative of a self-evident judgment. The predicate, in this case, is, undeniably, neither identical with, nor does it represent an essential element of, the subject, nor is it implied by the subject. In short, this hypothesis has not one of the immutable characteristics of a self-evident proposition or principle in science. À priori, we have just as much authority for the hypothesis that two substances exist, as we have, or can have, that but one exists. Nor can we find, in the whole range of human thought, a single principle or fact which renders it, in the remotest degree, certain, or even probable, that this hypothesis is true. On the other hand, we have the same evidence that two substances, matter and spirit, exist, that we have, or can have, that one or the other of them does exist. The deduction which lies at the basis of the two systems under consideration, the hypothesis which must be true, or each of them must be false, is nothing but a mere bald, naked, and lawless assumption, an assumption which has no more claims to our regards as a principle or fact in science than can be claimed for the greatest absurdity that was ever intruded into the sphere of human thought.
3. Our next deduction is this: no form nor degree of disproof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can, by any possibility, be adduced against the validity of our apprehensions of any one, or all of the four realities under consideration. In itself, as we have seen, it is just as possible and probable that the objects of all these apprehensions exist together, as that any one of them exists alone. Nor can anything, as we have further seen, be shown to exist intrinsically in any one of these apprehensions, anything, in any form or degree, disproving or rendering improbable the validity of such apprehension for the reality and character of its object. Nowhere, in the wide range of human thought, can a solitary principle or fact be adduced, a principle or fact on the authority of which the absolute validity of our apprehension of any one of those realities can be justly impeached.
4. The validity of our last deduction is rendered self-evident by what has just been proven. The deduction may be thus stated: any form of positive proof or valid evidence in favour of the validity of any one or all of our apprehensions of matter, spirit, space, and time, for the reality and character of their objects, verifies for such apprehensions a place in the sphere of true science. Whenever two hypotheses are present, one of which must be true and the other false, the total absence of all evidence in favour of one, and positive evidence in favour of the other, vindicates for the latter a claim in our regard as a valid principle or real fact of science. The same holds true of a given hypothesis, against which no form or degree of disproof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can be adduced, and in favour of which real proof or valid evidence does exist. Such, undeniably, are the real relations of science to each of the four apprehensions under consideration. Whether such forms of proof and valid evidence in their favour do exist, is hereafter to be shown. The bearing of such proof or evidence, when adduced, is undeniable. To render perfectly distinct the true state of the case, is the object of the present presentation.
THESE FOUR REALITIES ARE APPREHENDED BY UNIVERSAL MIND AS ACTUALLY KNOWN REALITIES, NOR CAN OUR APPREHENSIONS OF ANY ONE OF THEM BE CHANGED, MODIFIED, OR DISPLACED FROM HUMAN THOUGHT.
Our next position in regard to these four realities, space, time, matter, and spirit, and in regard to our apprehensions of the same, claims very special attention on account of its fundamental bearings upon our present and future inquiries. Our position is this: these four realities, all in common, are apprehended by universal mind as actually known realities, and our apprehensions of them, in all their essential characteristics, can, by no possibility, be changed or modified or displaced from human thought.
We think of space as the place of substances, of time as the place of events, and of space and time as the necessary condition of the possibility of the existence of substances and the occurrence of events. We then think of body as existing in and occupying space, and consequently, as possessed of real extension and form. We finally think of ourselves, our minds, as real, substantial personalities exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and willing. Not a shadow of doubt exists in our minds that all these objects of thought are realities in themselves, and that we actually apprehend them as they are. In other words, all these realities are consciously represented in universal thought as absolutely known realities. Our apprehensions of them do not lie under the eye of consciousness as mere assumptions, opinions, beliefs, imaginings, or guesses, which may or may not be true, but as forms of absolute knowledge. In the interior of his own mind, no one is ever conscious of himself as merely thinking, supposing, imagining, or guessing what he thinks, feels, and wills, but as absolutely knowing himself as the subject of all these operations. We are not conscious of matter as an object of doubtful belief, imagining, or of 'prudent guessing,' but as a directly perceived, and, therefore, known reality. The certainty of the self and the not-self, as given in universal consciousness, is equal and absolute. While we thus know mind and matter as realities in themselves, we do and must know with the same absoluteness that they do and must exist and act in time and space. Time and space, therefore, must be recognized in the consciousness, not only as actual, but as known realities. No one can honestly interpret the facts of his own consciousness and doubt the perfect validity of the above statements.
This leads us to remark, in the next place, that in all essential particulars, and in certain fundamental respects, our apprehensions of each and every one of these realities can, by no possibility, be displaced from human thought, nor can they, in any form, be changed or modified. As far as our apprehensions of space and time are concerned, we have already seen that it is absolutely impossible for us to conceive of the non-existence of these realities, or of their being, in any respects, different from what we apprehend them to be. In the absolute validity of these statements all thinkers of all schools agree. So far, then, the apprehensions under consideration must be admitted to have an immutably fixed place and character in human thought.
An equally immutable fixedness of place and character, in all essential particulars, is possessed, in universal thought, by our apprehensions of mind and matter. We are ever immutably conscious of ourselves, and cannot but be thus conscious, as real, substantial personalities possessing the powers and exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and willing. Nor can we possibly change or modify our apprehensions of ourselves as such personalities. We may assume and affirm matter to be the only reality, and that thought, feeling, and willing are nothing but phenomena of this one substance. Or we may assume and affirm that neither matter nor spirit exist as real substances, and resolve all realities into pure thought. In the very midst of all such assumptions and reasonings, and despite of all such deductions to the contrary, we are, and cannot but be, present to ourselves as the identical personalities above defined. While Messrs. Hill, Huxley, Spencer and Emerson, for example, stand out to themselves, in their systems, as demonstrated nonentities, they are, like all the rest of the race, ever present to themselves as real substantial personalitiesyes, more than this, as real substantial thinkers of great eminence. They have never for a moment doubted, or can doubt, of themselves, or changed or modified their apprehensions of themselves in the particulars above stated. Conscious thinkers attempting to demonstrate to themselves, and to all mankind, that they themselves do not think at all? This is the scientific farce which such thinkers are perpetually acting and re-acting before themselves and before the world, and all this with the eye of their own consciousness ever fixed with direct, distinct, and clear vision upon their own substantial selves as stultifying themselves. We can no more, in the interior of our own minds, doubt the absolute validity of our knowledge of ourselves, or change or modify our apprehensions of ourselves, that is, in the fundamental particulars under consideration, than we can doubt the validity of our knowledge of a circle or square; or change or modify our apprehensions of these figures. In our interior apprehensions and convictions, we no more, and can no more, confound our conscious selves with material existences around us, our minds with our bodies, or our souls with our brains, than we do or can confound a circle with a triangle. In all minds in common, all reasonings and affirmed demonstrations to the contrary notwithstandingin all minds in common, we say, spirit and matter are as distinctly separated and distinguished, the one from the other, as are the two figures above named from each other.
The same remarks are equally applicable to our apprehensions of matter. All men are distinctly and absolutely conscious of a direct and immediate perception of this substance as a reality exterior and objective to the mind, and as possessed, among others, of the essential qualities of extension and form. This apprehension which we have of this substance, together with our absolute conviction of its real existence as such a substance, can no more be displaced from human thought, or in any sense or form be changed or modified, than can our apprehensions and convictions in respect to any mathematical figures whatsoever. In the absolute validity of these statements, all men, philosophers among the rest, perfectly agree. Kant, for example, while he denies absolutely the validity of all our apprehensions of both matter and spirit, affirms, as absolutely, that it is impossible for reasoning or philosophy to displace these apprehensions from human thought, to change or modify the same, or to banish the conviction which is omnipresent in universal mind, that these apprehensions have absolute validity for the reality and character of their objects. The reason which he assigns for this undeniable fact, is this: 'We have to do with natural and unavoidable illusion, which reposes upon subjective principles.' This 'natural and unavoidable illusion,' he adds, 'is not one in which, for instance, a blockhead, from want of knowledge, involves himself, or which a trickster has artfully imagined in order to torment reasonable people, but one which irresistibly adheres to human reason, and even when we have discovered its delusion, still will not cease to play tricks upon reason and to push it continually into momentary errors, which always require to be corrected.' We have, undeniably, in all such cases, not reason through laws 'irresistibly inhering' in itself, imposing upon itself 'natural and unavoidable illusion,' and as necessarily 'playing tricks' upon itself. We have, on the other hand, reason itself, through its inherent and immutable laws, correcting the illusions and tricks which false science is endeavouring to impose, as truths of real science, upon the universal human intelligence. In accordance with the teaching of Kant, Coleridge affirms that our apprehension of external material substances, together with our absolute belief of the validity of such apprehension, is 'innate, indeed, and con-natural,' that it 'remains proof against all attempts to remove it by grounds or arguments,' and 'lays claim to IMMEDIATE certainty as a position at once indemonstrable and irresistible.' Yet he affirms this belief to be 'nothing but a prejudice, innate, indeed, and con-natural, but still a prejudice.' No philosopher of any age or school, a philosopher who denies the validity of our knowledge of the nature of matter especially, ever did deny, or will deny, the above statements of Kant and Coleridge. All agree that our apprehensions and beliefs in respect to the essential characteristics of spirit and matter are 'natural and unavoidable,' 'innate, indeed, and con-natural,' that they cannot be eradicated; changed, or modified, but 'remain proof against all attempts to remove them by grounds or argument,' and 'lay claim to immediate certainty as a position at once indemonstrable and irresistible.' 'This faith,' that is, this natural, unavoidable, irresistible, and immovable conviction, 'the philosopher,' that is, philosopher of his school, Mr. Coleridge tells us, 'compels himself to treat as nothing but a prejudice,' an 'illusion,' as Kant calls it. We fully confess that we regard an assumption forced upon the mind by an act of will, and that in opposition to a natural and immovable intellectual intuition,' which 'remains proof against all attempts to remove it by grounds or arguments'we regard such a forced assumption, we say, 'as nothing but a prejudice, 'an illusion' of false science. On the other hand, we regard an intuitive conviction, which no system of philosophy can change, modify, or displace from human thought, as itself a truth of real science. The fact is undeniable, that all these realities are distinctly revealed in the universal consciousness as objects of valid knowledge, that in all essential particulars our apprehensions of these realities can, by no possibility, be changed, or modified, or displaced from human thought, and that the validity of these apprehensions can be impeached, not by any principle or fact given as valid, or real, by the intelligence, but by a mere assumption forced into the sphere of thought by a lawless act of will, an assumption in which we compel ourselves to 'treat as nothing but a prejudice,' an 'illusion,' apprehensions which the intelligence does and must regard as forms of absolute knowledge. We shall have occasion to speak, more at length, upon this great central fact hereafter.
OUR APPREHENSIONS OF THESE REALITIES HAVE ALL THE FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FORMS OF VALID KNOWLEDGE, CHARACTERISTICS WHICH TRUE SCIENCE MUST AND WILL ACKNOWLEDGE.
We now advance to our great central and final position in regard to these realities, and to our apprehensions of the same. These apprehensions, we remark, possess all actual and conceivable characteristics of real absolute knowledge, and hence, true science must, and will, accept of the objects of these apprehensions, as realities in themselves, and as being in themselves what we apprehend them to be. The validity of this position we argue from the following considerations:
I. The Validity of these Apprehensions Cannot be Disproved, or Rendered Doubtful.
We affirm, then, in the first place, that by no possibility can the validity of these apprehensions be disproved or rendered, in the remotest degree, doubtful. To accomplish such a result, we must find forms of knowledge of the validity of which we are, and must be, more certain than we are of that of these apprehensions, forms which if true, the latter must be false. The only conceivable conditions on which such incompatible forms of knowledge can be discovered and adduced are the following 1. An attempt may be made to show that such forms of knowledge are naturally impossible. 2. Or that facts exist outside of the sphere of these apprehensions, facts incompatible with the validity of said apprehensions. 3. Or such facts may be sought in the relations of these apprehensions to one another. 4. Or, finally, these facts may be sought in what is intrinsic in one or more of the apprehensions themselves. We propose to consider, in the order designated, these, the only conceivable forms of disproof that can be adduced.
1. Such Forms of Knowledge not Naturally Impossible.
Valid knowledge, in all these forms, cannot be shown to be impossible in itself. Nor is there any form or degree of antecedent probability against the actual existence of such knowledge. Knowledge in its exterior is just as conceivably possible as in its interior form. If we should, as philosophers of a certain school do, deny the possibility of knowledge in any one form, because we cannot show how such knowledge is possible, we should be compelled to deny its possibility in every form. Suppose the transcendental philosopher were required to show us how and why thought becomes its own object, and knows itself? He assures us, that in all acts of external perception, an exclusively mental state is made to appear to the mind, as the exclusive quality of an object exterior to, and separate from, the perceiving subject. He would find the how and the why quite as inexplicable in all such cases, and indeed in all cases, as in that of actual external perception. The real question for science to determine is not how and why we know in any case, but what we do know. No one can affirm à priori that God does not possess actual knowledge in all these forms, and that He cannot create an intelligence capacitated for such knowledge. We cannot, therefore, affirm à priori, that the human intelligence is not such a power. If such knowledge is not, and it undeniably is not, self-evidently impossible in itself, then there is, and can be, no antecedent probability against the actual existence of such a power; and the question whether the human intelligence is, or is not, such a power, is simply a question of fact, and is to be determined, like all other questions pertaining to mental facts, by an appeal to consciousness. The question for science is simply this: Are we, in fact, conscious of knowing our own mental states, and also 'things without us,' and also time and space as necessary existences, and as necessarily implied by what we perceive? If such is found to be the real state of our consciousness, science demands that we shall recognize the human intelligence as such a power.
2. Facts in Disproof cannot be found outside of the Sphere of these Apprehensions.
We may go wholly out of the spheres of all these apprehensions, and seek for real facts there, facts of the reality of which we are, and must be, more assured than we are of the existence of the realities under consideration, facts which absolutely imply the invalidity of said apprehensions. Now, outside of this sphere, undeniably no facts exist of which we can form the remotest apprehension. As far as human thought can reach, or divine, we are here in the region of absolute nonentity, in the midst of total vacancy, where nothing is revealed as the basis of any deductions whatever. In the midst of this 'palpable obscure,' nothing, surely, is, or can be revealed, to invalidate our knowledge of space, time, matter, or spirit.
3. Facts in Disproof cannot be found in the Relations of these Apprehensions to one another.
Or, we may seek for the form of knowledge after which we are inquiring, in the relations to one another of our apprehensions of the four realities under consideration, and may look for the object we seek in that direction. But here our researches will be found to be as vain and fruitless as before. Each of these apprehensions, as we have seen, sustains the relation of absolute compatibility with every other. There is the utter absence of all appearance of contradiction between our ideas of space and time, and between those and our apprehensions of matter and spirit. Nor is there a solitary element in our apprehensions of either of these substances, in the remotest degree, incompatible with, or contradictory to, any element existing in the other. No one professes to find here anything whatever to disprove or render improbable the validity of our knowledge of any one of these realities.
4. Such Facts cannot be found in what is Intrinsic in any of these Apprehensions.
Or, finally, we may look for the object we seek in the only remaining direction, in what is intrinsic in one or more of these apprehensions themselves. We have already anticipated nearly, or quite, all that can be found here bearing upon our inquiries. Ever since the days of Zeno, of the Italic School of Greece, philosophers of the same school have affirmed that none of our world-conceptions, or necessary ideas, can be valid for the reality and character of their objects, because all such apprehensions contain, within themselves, the elements of absolute self-contradictions. Here the following fundamental questions at once present themselves. Are we, or can we be, as absolutely assured, or more so, of the actual existence of such contradictions, than we are of the reality of time and space, on the one hand, and of our personal existence as exercising the functions of thought, feeling and willing, and of matter, as having real extension and form, on the other? Can I be so absolutely certain that these philosophers are right, as I am that I am now thinking upon the subject? Can I be so certain of the validity of their argument to prove the existence of these contradictions, as I am that I think, I feel, and I will, and that matter is immediately and directly before me, as possessed of the qualities of real extension and form? These philosophers themselves admit and affirm that in their own minds the conviction of the absolute validity of these conceptions and ideas 'remains proof against all their attempt to remove it, by the grounds and arguments' which they themselves adduce. Why, then, should we admit the validity of such grounds and arguments? We may ask, further, whether the same, or precisely similar, perplexities and seeming contradictions do not connect themselves with absolutely known truths? Something is real. This is undeniable, and will be admitted by the class of philosophers under consideration. Against the validity of this undeniable proposition, there exist, in all their force, all the difficulties, perplexities, and arguments, ever adduced against the validity of all our world-conceptions, and necessary ideas. If anything, be it spirit or matter, exists, it must exist somewhere and in some time, that is, in time and space. This implies the real existence, as realities in themselves, of time and space, and that in absolute accordance with our apprehensions of these realities. But time and space, these philosophers assure us, are not, and cannot be, the realities which we apprehend them to be, because such apprehensions have in them the elements of absolute contradiction. Now, reasoning which, if its validity be admitted, would prove absolutely that no form of being does, or can exist, can have validity in no sphere of human thought, much less against our world- conceptions and necessary ideas.
But we are fully able to see through and expose the sophistry and false deductions of these philosophers. All the contradictions which they adduce are, as we have already seen, undeniably found to exist exclusively, not in our world-conceptions, which actually exist in human thought, but in fictions manufactured for the occasion, and substituted for realities as they are. A compound constituted of compounds, and represented as such in thought, is self-contradictory, and cannot be real. Such, it is affirmed, are all our world-conceptions. On the other hand, the conception of a compound constituted of absolute simples is an idea void of all appearance even of self-contradiction. Such, as we have seen, are, without exception, all our world-conceptions, as they actually exist in human thought. Taken as they actually exist in the universal consciousness, no element can be found in any of these apprehensionsno element in the remotest degree incompatible with any other found in the same conception.
The argument of Mr. Spencer to prove that our ideas of space and time are self-contradictory, and that space and time cannot, therefore, be in themselves the realities which we apprehend them to behis argument on this point, we say, is based wholly, in fact and form, upon the assumption that, if they exist at all, space and time both must exist as 'entities or the attributes of entities,' as 'things having or not having attributes,' facts utterly incompatible with our actual apprehensions of these realities. Here, again, we undeniably have a fiction substituted for a reality, and imposed upon the mind as that reality. Space and time are actually apprehended as the places of 'entities and their attributes,' and of 'things having attributes,' and not as entities, things, or attributes of entities; and nowhere but in the brain of a bewildered philosopher are our ideas of these realities confounded with our conceptions of 'entities' and 'things' and 'their attributes,' substances and attributes existing in time and space. If by the terms 'entity' and 'thing' Mr. Spencer means not substances, but realities, then his argument has no other characteristic than that of senseless tautology. It stands thus: If space and time are real substances in themselvesthat is, realitiesthey must be realities or the attributes of realities.' If by these terms he means substances or their attributes, he has undeniably confounded the implied with that by which the former is implied, and stands openly convicted of a gross sophism. Neither substances nor their attributes are or can be time or space, but, as the immutable condition of the possibility of their existence, imply time and space. Time and space, as actually represented in human thought, therefore, are not substances or entities, but yet realities in themselves, and such realities as we apprehend them to be; and our apprehensions of them have not, as Mr. Spencer affirms, a 'purely relative,' but an absolute validity.
In his chapter on 'Ultimate Scientific Ideas,' Mr. Spencer has fully demonstrated the validity of our ideas of these realities. Against the monstrous absurdity of Kant, that space and time are nothing in themselves but 'à priori laws or conditions of the conscious mind,' Mr. Spencer urges the following demonstrative argument: 'If space and time, present to our minds, belong to the ego, then of necessity they do not belong to the non-ego. Now, it is absolutely impossible to think this' (that they do belong to the ego). Again, 'The direct testimony of consciousness is, that time and space are not within but without the mind, and so absolutely independent of it that they cannot be conceived to become nonexistent, even were the mind to become non-existent.' No reasonable man will or can question the demonstrative validity of this argument. If the 'direct testimony of consciousness' is to be admitted as of absolute validity in one, it must be in all cases. This is self-evident. 'Now, the direct testimony of consciousness is' not only that 'space and time cannot be conceived to become non-existent, even were the mind to become nonexistent,' but that, as realities, they cannot be conceived to be, in any respects whatever, different from what we apprehend them to be. The testimony of consciousness is just as absolute in one case as in the other. Our apprehensions of space and time, therefore, have in all respects absolute validity for the reality and character of their objects. From all that has been shown above, the deduction is absolute that the invalidity of our apprehensions of time and space, matter and spirit, cannot by any possibility be disproved or rendered in the remotest degree improbable.
II. Our Apprehensions of Space, Time, Matter, and Spirit are, in all their essential elements and characteristics, distinct, separate, and dissimilar from all Assumptions, Beliefs, and Opinions, which may or may not be true.
Our apprehensions of the four realities under consideration are, we remark in the next place, in all their essential elements and characteristics, most obviously distinguishable from and dissimilar to all forms of assumptions, opinions, beliefs, and conjectures, which may or may not be true. Phenomena of the latter class, all in common, as we have seen, have these fixed characteristics, that they are subject to change, modification, and displacement from human thought and regard. Our apprehensions of the realities under consideration, as we have also seen, have, all in common, characteristics of a distinct and opposite naturecharacteristics equally and absolutely fixed and immutablethe utter impossibility of being changed, modified, or displaced from human thought and regard.
The elements also which enter into and constitute our fundamental apprehensions of space and time, matter and spirit, have all the characteristics of original intuition, while assumptions, beliefs, and opinions have all the characteristics of secondary operations operations in which acts of the intellect are, to a greater or less degree, modified or determined by impulsions of the sensibility, or volitions of the will. How often do men think so-and-so because they desire or determine thus to think! Thus, consequently, we have assumptions, beliefs, opinions, conjectures, and guessesthat is, ever-changing phenomena, in which error and truth are lawlessly intermingled. In original intuition, which precedes such impulsions and determinations, we have pure intellectionthe direct, immediate, and open vision of truth itself. Assumptions, beliefs, and opinions consequently come and go, appear and disappear, and take on an endless diversity of modifications. Original intuition, however, never changes. By every law and principle of correct classification our fundamental apprehensions of space and time, and spirit and matter, take rank, not among changeable and ever-changing assumptions, opinions, or belief's, but among the immutable facts of original intuition. In the universal consciousness the essential elements of all these apprehensions are distinctly recognized, not as belonging to the former class of phenomena, but as facts of original intuition. We regard ourselves as self-conscious personalities, exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and will, and matter as an exterior substance having extension and form, not because we desire or choose thus to regard ourselves or it, but because we are absolutely conscious of a direct and immediate intuition of ourselves as such personalities, and of it as such a substance. By conscious intuition similarly direct and immediate we recognize space and time as the places of substances and events, realities implied by what we perceive, and the conscious objects of necessary ideas. In all systems of true science, therefore, these essential apprehensions will be distinguished and separated from all the variable and ever-varying phenomena above designated, and ranked among the adamantine facts of original intuition.
III. These Apprehensions have all Possible Positive Characteristics of Real Absolute Knowledge.
Having shown incontrovertibly that the validity of these apprehensions can, by no possibility, be disproved, or, in any form or degree, rendered improbable, and having as incontestably proven that they are to be distinguished and separated from all forms of assumption, opinion, and belief, which may or may not be true, we now proceed to demonstrate, by the most rigid application of scientific criteria, that these apprehensions possess, in their most perfect forms, all conceivable characteristics of real knowledge. The facts already established evince this beyond all reasonable doubt, if they do not render it demonstrably evident. Apprehensions existing in all minds in common; apprehensions which can by no possibility be in the remotest degree changed, modified, or displaced from human thought and regard, and which, by fundamental characteristics, stand utterly distinguished and separated from all forms of assumptions, opinions, and beliefs which are continually subject to change and modification, and are often wholly displaced from human thought and regardif such facts do not verify apprehensions as forms of actual knowledge, we can have no evidence that real knowledge, in any form, has a dwelling-place in the mind of man. Let us, however, enter at once upon a careful scrutiny of these apprehensions in the light of scientific tests, or criteria which absolutely verify, as such, all forms of real knowledgeknowledge which has place in systems of true science.
We commence with our necessary ideas of space and time. We have precisely the same evidence that these objects are realities in themselves, and, in all respects, such realities as we apprehend them to be, that we have of the truth of the axioms, Things equal to the same things are equal to one another, and It is impossible for the same thing, at the same time, to exist, and not to exist. Why do we, and all men, hold these propositions to be true? But one answer can be given. It is absolutely impossible for us even to conceive them not to be true. We, therefore, rightly affirm that we know absolutely that they are and must be true. The validity of such forms of knowledge cannot be doubted. For the same identical reasons for which we affirm that these axioms are and must be true, we affirm space and time to be realities in themselves, and in all respects such realities as we apprehend them to be. We can no more conceive that space and time are not realities in themselves, and the identical realities which we conceive them to be, than we can conceive that things equal to the same things are not equal to one another, and that it is possible for the same thing, at the same moment, to exist and not exist. That our apprehensions of space and time are, in the sense explained, necessary ideas, all thinkers of all schools admit and affirm. 'We can never,' says Kant, 'make to ourselves a representation of this, that there is no space, although we may very readily think' (conceive) that no objects therein are to be met with.' 'Time,' he says, 'is a necessary representation.' 'Space and time,' says Mr. Herbert Spencer, as already cited, 'cannot be conceived to become non-existent.' No thinker was ever known to deny the validity of the expositions here given. We must hold, then, that time and space are realities in themselves, or deny the validity of all the principles and axioms of all the sciences, the mathematics among the rest.
Contingent IdeasMatter and Spirit.
Let us now turn our attention to contingent ideas, and consider the relations of said ideas to their objects, matter and spirit. These ideas, we affirm, as seen in the clearest light of all absolute scientific criteria applicable to such cases, have all the characteristics of real, valid knowledge. This we affirm from the following considerations:
1. There are no other forms of knowledge which have, or can have, in them the elements of more absolute certainty. We are just as distinctly and absolutely conscious of knowing these realities as they are, as we are of knowing time and space as they are in themselves. The conscious certainty of knowledge is just as absolute in one case as in the other. This certainty also admits of no degrees. Whenever we think of time and space, we are at one time just as certain that we know them, as we are at any other. With the same changeless certainty, we know ourselves as personalities exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and willing and matter as directly and immediately before us, and as possessed of extension and form; we thus know ourselves and matter, we say, whenever we think of ourselves and it. This omnipresent and changeless conscious certainty is one of the fixed and immutable tests of real knowledge. Some individuals do, indeed, deny the validity of our knowledge of these realities. The same individuals, however, all in common, deny the validity of knowledge, even in its necessary forms. On one condition only can the validity of our knowledge of either of these realities be denied, to wit, a universal and absolute impeachment of the intelligence itself, as a faculty of knowledge in every form.
2. Another infallible, scientific criterion of valid knowledge is the direct, immediate, and absolute testimony of the universal consciousness. If we apply this test with the utmost scrutiny, we shall be compelled to rank our fundamental apprehensions of matter and spirit among the most clearly marked forms of real knowledge. Of nothing can we be more distinctly and absolutely conscious than we are of our personal selves, as thinking, feeling, and willing, and absolutely perceiving, or knowing, matter as an exterior reality having real extension and form. If we think of the qualities of matter, we find most clearly and definitely marked forms of real knowledge. We need to refer here but to two classes of qualities, the primary and the secondary. The latter are, in universal mind, recognized as the unknown causes of known states of the sensibility, sensations, of which we are directly and absolutely conscious. The primary qualities, on the other hand, are as universally recognized as the equally known objects of known states of the intelligence, external perception, of which we are as directly and absolutely conscious. The secondary quality is given in consciousness as felt, and, therefore, inferred. The primary, on the other hand, is given as directly and immediately perceived, and, therefore, affirmed. We are conscious of a medium, sensation, between us and the unknown cause of the sensation. We are as absolutely conscious of direct and immediate knowledge in respect to the known object of perception. There is no more obvious and dangerous error in science than the hypothesis that all our knowledge of matter is indirect and mediate, through sensation. We must affirm, then, that our knowledge of mind, on the one hand, and of matter, on the other, is, in its fundamental characteristics, of absolute validity for the reality and character of its object, or, in the language of Sir William Hamilton, 'affirm consciousness to be a liar from the beginning.'
3. The fundamental elements which constitute our apprehensions of these substances have all the characteristics of original and direct intuition. We are absolutely conscious that our present fundamental perceptions, external and internal, are intuitional, and the apprehensions thus originated have all the characteristics of perfect immutability. This evinces, undeniably, that the elements constituting these apprehensions have, from the beginning, been of the same character. On no other hypothesis, also, can we account for the origin of these apprehensions. We apprehend ourselves as self-conscious personalities, exercising the functions of thought, feeling and willing. But one account can be given of the origin of such an apprehensionthe consciousness of self as the subject of such phenomena. The immutable condition of the origination in the intelligence, of the apprehension of an exterior object, having extension and form, is the actual conscious perception of such object. There is nothing in mere sensation, an exclusively sensitive and subjective statea state utterly void of extension, form, colour, solidity, or attraction, even to suggest an exterior object, much less one having these specific qualities. How could a mere subjective state, void of all these qualities, be consciously perceived as an exclusively exterior object having these specific qualities? How can different sensations, all absolutely agreeing in this, that they are exclusively subjective, and as such, all in common, utterly void of the element of extensionhow, we ask, can such sensitive states be perceived, not only as exclusively exterior objects, but as such, all having this element in different degrees, one being, for example, ten or an hundred times as large as the other? Of two exclusively subjective states, how, we ask again, can one of these sensations be perceived in consciousness as wholly a subjective state, and thus originate the idea of a secondary quality of matter, and the other subjective state be perceived in the same consciousness as a quality of an object wholly exterior to and separate from the mind, and thus originate the idea of a primary quality of the same subject? Of two sensations both in common exclusively phenomena of the self, how can we be conscious of one as an exclusive quality of the self, and of the other as, with equal exclusiveness, a quality of the not-self? If the sensational hypothesis is true, we have, undeniably, an absolute refutation of the axiom, Things equal to the same things are equal to one another.
But one rational account can be given of the origin of our fundamental apprehensions of matter and spirit, viz., that those apprehensions must, from the beginning, have been constituted wholly of original intuition, and must, therefore, be regarded as forms of real knowledge. No deduction can have higher claims to absolute validity than this.
4. Immutability, as we have seen, is another all-authoritative criterion which characterizes and peculiarizes all forms of absolute knowledge. As we have also seen, we can no more change, modify, or displace our essential apprehensions of space and time, matter and spirit as realities in themselves, and the identical realities which we apprehend them to be, than we can change, modify, or displace our apprehensions of a circle or a square. Do what we will, reason upon the subject as we may, space and time, matter and spirit are before us as known realities, and by no possibility can we change, modify, or displace our apprehensions of them as such realities. Assumptions, opinions, beliefs, and conjectures may 'appear for a little while, and then vanish away.' While they remain they are subject to perpetual changes and modifications. But here are apprehensions which have absolute fixedness of form and place in human thought. Nothing but real knowledge can be even conceived to possess such immutably fixed characteristics. These apprehensions, then, do, and must, take rank as forms of real knowledge. Nothing but 'science, falsely so-called,' can place them under any other category.
5. The reasons, we remark again, for which philosophers of certain schools have impeached the validity of one or more of these apprehensions, vindicate most absolutely their claims to our regard as forms of real knowledge. These reasons take on two, and only two, forms: (1) that which we have already considered, the elements of contradiction said to be found in the apprehensions themselves. These contradictions we have already shown to be wholly imaginary, and that the deduction based upon them is void of validity. On this topic nothing more need be adduced. (2) The only remaining reason is based upon the difficulty which philosophers find in accounting for the possibility of knowledge, either in its subjective or objective form. One class cannot see how knowledge is possible but of 'things without us,' and the other but of mental states. The Idealist, as a consequence, in the language of Coleridge, 'compels himself to treat' what all admit to be the universal faith of mankind, that there exist things without us,' as 'nothing but a prejudice.' Suppose that we cannot account for the possibility of real knowledge in any form. Shall we, for such a reason, deny the facts of actual knowledge, the facts of the reality of which we are absolutely conscious? Did ever a greater absurdity have place in the brain even of a crazy philosophy? In the case before us, it should be borne in mind that we have nothing but a few self-styled philosophers against the world, philosophers themselves of all schools included. While the philosopher is 'compelling himself,' in the construction of his system, to treat 'as nothing but a prejudice' this universal faith, in his inward immovable convictions, as he himself acknowledges, he believes, as absolutely as do the rest of mankind, in space and time, matter and spirit, as knowable and actually known realities. No philosopher of any school will deny the perfect truthfulness of these statements. Apprehensions distinctly revealed in the universal consciousness as having undeniable validity for the reality and character of their objects, apprehensions, also, which can by no possibility be impeached but for the reason above stated, such apprehensions, we say, science must and will recognize as forms of absolute knowledge.
6. One reason more, and we close the present argument. The validity of our apprehension of no one of these realities can be impeached but for 'grounds and arguments' which, if admitted, would utterly annihilate the validity of the Intelligence itself, as a faculty of knowledge in every form whatever. If apprehensions, the validity of which cannot be disproved or rendered improbable, which, by fundamental characteristics, are distinguished and separated wholly from all assumptions and beliefs which may be true or false, which cannot be in the least degree changed, modified, or displaced from human thought, which co-exist in universal mind with an absolute certainty of their truthfulness, which are consciously constituted of the elements of original intuition, which the universal consciousness distinctly and positively recognizes as pertaining to their objects as directly and immediately perceived, or as necessarily implied by what is thus perceived, which can be 'treated as a prejudice,' but for reasons of which science has just cause to be ashamed, and which finally can be impeached but 'for grounds and arguments' which, if their validity be admitted, would imply the universal and utter falseness of the Intelligence itself as a faculty of knowledge, if such apprehensions are not verified as forms of absolute knowledge, knowledge, we repeat, in no form has or can have place in the human mind. We have, then, real valid knowledge of the four realities under consideration.
ORIGIN, GENESIS, AND CHARACTER, OF ALL ACTUAL AND CONCEIVABLE SYSTEMS OF PHILOSOPHY.
THE DIVERSE SYSTEMS DEFINED.
WE are now fully prepared to explain distinctly the origin, genesis, and character, of all actual and conceivable systems of Philosophy, Systems which demand the investigation, elucidation, and criticism of the individual who writes a critical History of Philosophy. All such systems have their origin and genesis in, and take definite and fixed forms from, certain postulates pertaining to affirmed necessary relations of the human Intelligence, as a faculty of knowledge to these four realities. As the number of these relations is fixed and definite, but a certain fixed and definite number of systems of Philosophy ever have arisen, or can arise. They are the following: 1. It may be postulated that knowledge is possible but in its objective form, that is, relatively to 'things without us,' and that it is actual in this exclusive form. This postulate gives us Materialism, the system which affirms matter to be the only existing substance. 2. It may be assumed, on the other hand, that knowledge is possible but in its subjective form, that is, relatively to mind, or its operations, and is actual in this form. Hence Idealism, with its varied systems, Idealism which resolves all realities into mind, or its operations. 3. We may, in the next place, deny the validity of knowledge, both in its objective and subjective forms, affirming all our knowledge to be exclusively phenomenal, mere appearance in which no reality, as it is in itself, appears, and, in the language of Mr. Herbert Spencer, 'that the reality existing behind all appearance is, and ever must be, unknown.' This gives us the hypotheses Scepticism, which denies the possibility of any positive system of knowledge. Of all such systems, Scepticism affirms that each may, or may not, be true, and that by no possibility can we determine which is and which is not true. 4. We may, finally, affirm knowledge to be possible and actual in both forms, and hence include in our theory of existence spirit and matter, and space and time, as knowable and known realities. Here we have the hypotheses of Realism. As these four include all possible systems, and as each is perfectly incompatible with every other, one of these must be true, and all the rest false. The grand problem in philosophy is this, to determine absolutely which, of all these conflicting hypotheses, is true. How can this question be answered? We have the answer, we judge, in the preceding discussions, in which it has been incontestably proven that we have a valid knowledge of all the four realities under consideration, and, consequently, that the Intelligence is, in fact, a faculty of real knowledge, in its objective, subjective, and implied forms. In all these respects the verdict of the universal consciousness is perfectly clear, distinct, and absolute. The self, the not-self, and space and time, as implied by the self and not-self, of all these we are distinctly conscious as objects of real knowledge. Nor is there any distinction in the distinctness or absoluteness of the testimony of consciousness in respect to the existence or character of the self and not-self, or in respect to the reality of space and time as implied by the known facts of matter and spirit. The validity of consciousness is to be admitted or denied universally in respect of all these realities in common. Some special remarks, however, are required in respect to each of the hypotheses before us. We commence with
Materialism, as we have said, affirms the possibility of knowledge in the objective form exclusively, and its actuality in this one exclusive form. As nothing but the known can have place in a system of science, matter as the only substance, and with it Atheism, is the necessary deduction from this hypothesis.
The doctrine of Materialism is set forth in two forms by its various advocates, each having a special hypothesis pertaining to the mode of our knowledge of matter: (1) Our knowledge of this substance is affirmed to be direct and immediate, and therefore of absolute validity; (2) our knowledge of this same substance is affirmed to be indirect and mediatethat is, through sensation. No other cause, however, it is assumed, but an external, material one can by any possibility account for the existence of sensation. On both hypotheses, therefore, our knowledge of this substance is to be regarded as having absolute validity. Matter being thus assumed to be the only existing substance, and the exclusive principle of all things, certain problems, nearly or quite definite in number and character, present themselves, and that with corresponding solutions of said problems. These problems and solutions, in nearly the same forms, will present themselves among all peoples, and be repeated over and over again in every age, among whom and in which the doctrine itself shall be avowed. The Materialism of the present century has, in no essential particulars, changed the forms, the problems, and the expositions and solutions of the same which, in the earliest eras of philosophy, presented themselves to the Oriental and Grecian mind. The present state of thought and inquiry, however, forces upon the advocates of this hypothesis certain special problems which must be solved, or the hypothesis itself must be abandoned. Let us consider some of these problems.
Necessary Problems which this Hypothesis involves.
1. The general assumption that lies at the basis of this hypothesis is this, that but one substance or principle of all things does or can exist. Unless this assumption can be proved to have absolute validity, Materialism must be regarded as nothing but a logical fiction. How can the Materialist verify this assumption as a truth of science? This is the first problem devolved upon him by the exigencies of his system. Has this assumption self-evident validity? No one will pretend that it has. How can its validity be demonstrated as a deductive verity? It is equally undeniable that no grounds or arguments can be adduced to verify it as such a truth. The whole system of Materialism has, undeniably, no other basis than a mere naked, lawless assumption, and can have no more claim to our regard than the empty assumption on which the system rests.
2. The special assumption that lies at the basis of Materialism in both its forms is this, that knowledge is possible but in its external form, and is actual in this form. One of the great problems devolved upon the advocates of this hypothesis is the verification of this assumption. It is, undeniably, not self-evidently true; nor can the remotest degree of antecedent probability be adduced in its favour. Real knowledge in its subjective form is just as conceivably possible, and therefore as antecedently probable, as in this. Equally impossible is it, by any process of logical deduction, to prove it true. Consciousness does, indeed, affirm knowledge to be actual in respect to 'things without us.' Its verdict, on the other hand, is equally absolute in respect to the fact of subjective knowledge. How, then, can this assumption be verified as a truth of science? The thing is undeniably impossible. Yet this assumption must be absolutely verified, or the system based upon it must be regarded as a logical fiction.
3. A third problem is thisto explain, in consistency with the principle of the system, the conscious facts of subjective knowledge just as they exist in universal mind. If knowledge is possible and actual but in respect to things without usthat is, in its objective formthen the words subject and object, I and thou, the me and the not-me, are words without meaning. If this assumption is valid, no philosopher can distinguish between himself and the beast on which he rides; nor could Mr. Compte, while living, have known himself to have been the author of 'The Positive Philosophy.' Here is the fatal rock that lies in the necessary course of Materialism. Upon that rock the system must fall, or be fallen upon by it. In the one case his system will 'be broken; in the other, it will' be ground to powder.
4. Another problem devolved upon the advocates of Materialism by the exigencies of their system is thisto demonstrate the fact that the fundamental elements of subjective and objective knowledge are perfectly identical in their nature. The fundamental characteristic of the object of subjective knowledge is the personal self exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination. The equally fundamental characteristic of the object of objective knowledge is an impersonal not-self possessed, among others, of the essential qualities of extension and form. Unless the Materialist can demonstrate that these two classes of conscious facts are absolutely identical in their nature, and necessarily imply a corresponding identity in the nature of the subject and object, and that nature an undeniably material one, the system itself stands revealed as a fiction of a crazy Philosophy.
Can the Materialist solve such a problem as this? We have but two scientific criteria by which to judge of the nature of substances through their fundamental phenomena. They are these: Phenomena in their essential characteristics alike are to be referred to the same substances; Phenomena in their equally essential characteristics unlike are to be referred to distinct and separate substances. These are the immutable and exclusive principles of all correct classification and deduction. Now when, and only when, the Materialist will demonstrate the fact that thought, feeling, and willing are identical in nature with extension and form, and that all these in common are and must be the exclusive phenomena of external material substances, then we will agree with him in affirming matter to be the only existing substance.
5. Another fundamental problem forced upon the Materialist by the exigencies of his system is, to verify the logical connection between the fact or facts which he adduces, and the deduction which he draws from these facts. We are conscious, he affirms, of a direct and immediate knowledge of matter as an exterior substance having extension and form. This is his fact. The deductions drawn from this fact are the following: that matter, as possessed of these qualities, really exists; that no substance but matter does exist; and that thought, feeling, and voluntary determination are material phenomena. We grant the validity of his first deduction; but where is the logical connection between this admitted fact and his second and third deductions? The fact that matter is real does not present the shadow of a reason for the deduction that no other substance does exist, much less that thought, feeling, and willing are material phenomena. But this, undeniably, is all the basis which the Materialist has for his ultimate deductions.
6. The problems above presented are based upon the first hypothesis of Materialism, the hypothesis above statedto wit, that our knowledge of matter is direct and immediate. The problem devolved upon those who affirm our knowledge of this substance to be indirect and mediatethat is, through sensationis this, to prove that the cause of sensation must be an external material one. We are conscious of the sensation itself, not of its cause. It is by no means a self-evident truth that the cause of this mental state must be either external or material; nor is there in the nature of this state any 'grounds or arguments' for the deduction that this state is the product of such a cause. For aught that appears in the fact itself, this cause may be wholly internal, or may be the resultant of a spiritual cause ab extra. No grounds whatever can be vindicated for the materialistic hypothesis in the fact under consideration.
7. The next problem that we notice, as devolved upon the Materialist by the exigencies of his system, is, to meet and invalidate the counterarguments of Idealism against his theory. Idealists adduce the direct and absolute testimony of consciousness to the fact of subjective knowledge, and to the fundamental difference between phenomena given by internal and external perception. The Materialist cannot deny either of these conscious facts. Where is his ground for the assumption that knowledge is possible and actual only in its external form, and that phenomena, absolutely incompatible in their nature, are to be referred to one and the same substance, and that that substance is an external, material one? Has not the Idealist the same reason, to say the least, to affirm mind, or its operations, to be the only reality, as the Materialist has, or can have, to affirm the same thing of matter? Have we not the same reasons for referring the phenomena of external perception to mind that we can have for referring thought, feeling, and willing to matter? When the Materialist has demonstrated the invalidity of the axiomthings equal to the same things are equal to one anotherhe may hope to present a satisfactory solution of the problem under consideration.
8. The last problem which meets the materialistic hypothesis, face to face, is the counter-facts and demonstrations of Realism. This theory affirms knowledge, in both its exterior and interior forms, to be actual, and therefore, in itself, possible. The evidence adduced in favour of this affirmation is the direct, immediate, and absolute testimony of universal consciousness, and the equally absolute incompatibility with each other of the facts of external and internal perception. That such is the nature of the testimony of consciousness, the Materialist cannot deny. How can he invalidate the evidence furnished by this testimony? No dream of false science ever was, or can be, more visionary and baseless than is the hypothesis of Materialism.
The general assumption of Idealism is that knowledge is possible only in its subjective form. In connection with this assumption, the system in all its forms assumes also that the object of external perception is not any reality exterior to the mind, but a certain sensitive or ideal state denominated sensation. In accounting for sensation, as an effect, two causes are assigned by different idealistic schools. According to one, this cause is wholly subjective. According to the second school, this cause is an unknown and unknowable entity exterior to, and separate from, the subject of the sensation. This last hypothesis gives rise to the system of Ideal Dualism, of which Kant is the leading modern advocate and expounder. According to this school, not one, but two substances exist as the principles of all thingsthe unknown and unknowable cause, and the equally unknown and unknowable subject of sensation. This hypothesis is repudiated by all the other idealistic schools, for the reason that it is incompatible with the doctrine of the unity of science, a doctrine which it is affirmed must be true, and which immutably demands that there shall be but one substance, or principle, of all things.
The Theory of External Perception.
As the doctrine of external perception, as expounded by Kant, has been, in fact and form, adopted by all schools of modern Idealism, we will first of all give a specific exposition of this doctrine. A seemingly exterior object is before us, a mountain for example. As given in the universal consciousness, that object exists exterior to and separate from the mind, and the mind is conscious of it, as an object of direct and immediate perception, or of real knowledge. In this fact, viz. the nature of the testimony of the universal consciousness, all schools agree. According to Idealism, however, no such object, no object of any kind exterior to the mind, exists. What is in reality perceived is an exclusively mental state denominated sensation, a sensitive or ideal state, made to appear as an exterior object by laws of thought in the subject itself. Neither the self, nor the not-self, is the reality which we apprehend it to be. Neither has anything more than a phenomenal, or ideal, existence. How is this sensitive or ideal state made to appear as an object exterior to the mind, and as such a specific object? A sensation or its idea is induced, all consideration of its cause being now left out of the account. On occasion of the sensation two ideas arise, those of time and space. Through these ideas, this subject state, the sensation, is made to appear as an external object, and as possessed of this one specific form. The only object perceived, 'the content of the perception,' is the sensation. The reason why the sensation appears as having exteriority and form is the ideas of time and space. 'Space and time,' says Kant, 'are the pure forms of them' (objects of external perception), 'sensation in general the matter.'
The necessary deduction from this doctrine is thus given by Kant: 'We have therefore intended to say that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of phenomenonthat the things which we envisage are not that in themselves for which we take them, neither are their relationships so constituted as they appear to us, and that if we do away with our subject, or even only the subjective quality of our senses in general, every quality or relationship of objects in space and time, nay, even time and space themselves, would disappear, and cannot exist as phenomena in themselves, but only in us.' We have here the common doctrine, and the common consequence of the same, as set forth in the systems of Idealism in all their forms. The systems differ but in respect to the cause of sensation. In regard to the subsequent developments of thought, they all agree. Certain problems here present themselves, problems which must be satisfactorily solved, or Idealism, in none of its forms, can be true. Certain other problems present themselves which must be solved, or Ideal Dualism must take rank as a system of false science.
Problems Common to Idealism in all its Forms.
Among these common problems, we direct special attention to the following:
1. Space and time appear, in all these systems, in two formsas realities in themselves, realities exterior to the mind, realities the non-being of which is affirmed to be absolutely inconceivable and impossibleand then as no exterior realities at all, but simply and exclusively as regulative ideas in the mind itself. As given in the universal intelligence, 'regulative ideas' are one thing, and space and time quite others. As given in these systems, they are one and identical. Their identity is, undeniably, not self-evident. Can it be established by proof? No philosopher of any school will attempt such a form of demonstration as that. Yet the absolute identity of time and space, with ideas in the mind, must be demonstrated, or Idealism, in all its forms, will, and must stand revealed, as resting upon nothing but one of the most absurd assumptions that was ever introduced into the realm of science.
2. Sensation, in all its forms, is not only a subjective state, but as such, is absolutely void of extension and form. The ideas of time and space pertain to their objects, not only as exterior realities, but as strictly infinite in extent. How can ideas which pertain to their objects, as exterior and infinite, make a purely subjective state which is utterly void, in itself, of all extension and form, appear as being not only exterior to the mind, and independent of it, but as possessed of definite extension and form, and this in a finite degree? If the idea of infinite extension imparts to that which has no extension at all the appearance of extension in any form, should not such a cause impart the appearance of infinite extension? As related to extension and form, all sensations possess absolute identity of character, that is, the total absence of these qualities in all degrees. How can the same ideas, acting upon the same identical characteristics, make one sensation appear, as an exterior object, incomparably larger or smaller than another absolutely similar object? Can the same identical cause, operating upon the same identical characteristics, produce results utterly diverse from one another? Idealism must satisfactorily answer all these questions, or take rank as 'science falsely so-called.'
3. No psychological fact can be rendered more demonstrably evident than this, that in the order of origination in the mind, perception external and internal precedes the ideas of time and space. Space and time are apprehended but as the places of substances and events, as implied by the same, and as the immutable condition of their existence and occurrence. We perceive body, succession, and events, and, as a consequence, apprehend space, time, and cause as implied by what we perceive. That which is known but as the place of another, and as implied by it, can by no possibility have been originated in the mind prior to the latter, and have given character and form to it. The actual perception of body, succession, and events, must have preceded in the mind the ideas of time and space. No psychological fact can, we repeat, have more demonstrative proof than this. Now in all systems of Idealism in common, the ideas of time and space are affirmed to have existed in the mind prior to perception in any form, and that these ideas determine, as causes, the forms of perception as effects. Here is a fundamental psychological error on which all these systems must inevitably fall to pieces, unless this fatal rock can be removed, the removal of which is undeniably impossible.
We will now enter upon a direct consideration of the diverse systems of Idealisms, systems all of which, as developed in all ages, take rank in one or the other of the following forms, each of which will be specifically defined and elucidated in the order designated, namely, Ideal Dualism, Subjective Idealism, Pantheism, and Pure Idealism.
The system of Ideal Dualism has been already defined. We will proceed, at once, to consider the special problems in the full solution of which the destiny of the system is involved.
Problems especially pertaining to Ideal Dualism
1. To account for the existence of sensation, two unknown and unknowable realities, as we have seen, are postulated as realthe subject and the exterior cause. In the universal intelligence, two knowable and known substances are givensubstances whose action and reaction upon each other readily and intelligibly account for the existence of sensation, namely, the mind which experiences, and the external material cause which induces, the sensation. Why this substitution of these unknowable and unknown realties to account for a known effect, when the same effect can be more readily accounted for by reference to what is given in the universal intelligence as actually knowable and known? Why go outside of the Intelligence to find 'imaginary substrata,' to account for a known effect, when, within the proper sphere of the Intelligence, there exist consciously known causes abundantly adequate to account for the same effect? How can the ideal dualist answer such questions as these?
2. Two unknown and unknowable entities are assumed as real, and assumed to account for a single known effect, sensation. Why assume two such realities? As both are unknown, how can it be known that sensation is not the result of principles intrinsic, and acting potentially, in one of them? We have, by hypothesis, a known effect, and an unknown cause of the same. As the cause is wholly unknown, we have no means of determining whether it is one or many, ab extra or ab intra. Does not Ideal Dualism undeniably rest upon a mere lawless assumption?
3. In the universal intelligence, two realities are given as the conscious objects of direct and immediate and absolute knowledgethe mind as the subject of sensation, and the exterior material cause of the same. Ideal Dualism impeaches the validity of our knowledge of both of these entities. In this impeachment, this system is itself impeached by the absolute testimony of the universal consciousness, on the one hand, and by the equally absolute deductions of Materialism, Idealism proper, and Realism on the other. All these systems unite with the universal consciousness in affirming the validity of our knowledge in one or the other, or both these forms. Nor can Ideal Dualism confront this affirmation with any form or degree of proof, or positive evidence. Our knowledge of these realities is, undeniably, not self-evidently invalid. Nor can any form of proof be adduced against its validity, proof whose validity is more obvious and absolute than is that of the forms of knowledge which are impeached. This the advocates of the system must do, or it must fall to pieces upon the absolute evidence before us. Nothing, we are quite safe in affirming, can save this system from the doom which awaits it.
While it is assumed, in common with the teachings of Materialism, that but one reality, or principle, of all things does, or can exist, it may be postulated, in opposition to Materialism, that knowledge is possible only in its subjective form, and is actual in this form. It follows, as a necessary deduction from this assumption and postulate, that mind, or its operations, and nothing else, has real being. We have here the system of Idealism, which, by different schools of the same system, is based upon two distinct and opposite assumptions, and under these, assumes two forms. It is assumed, in the first place, that the exclusive condition of the possibility of knowledge is 'a synthesis of being and knowledge in the I,' that is, that the object and subject of knowledge must be, in substance, one and identical. We give the assumption in the words of its advocates. From this assumption, as a principle, two systems have been deduced Subjective Idealism and Pantheism proper. We will proceed at once to elucidate these two systems in the order designated, and will then consider Idealism in its final form, and as announced under another assumption.
The first system assumes that the only existing reality is the self-conscious subject, the I; and that all apparent realities within and around us are only ideal forms of being and life, forms made real by the I to the I, in its process of necessary self-development. According to this system, all seeming realities, 'the me and the not-me,' the universe of matter and spirit, with God as their Author, are nothing in themselves but pure ideal existences, and as such generated for 'the self' by 'the self,' that is, for and by the I of consciousness. God, as this system teaches, it should be borne in mind, does not create the self-conscious subject, or the external universe; but the I generates these, and God as their ideal Author. Hence, learned professors of this school in the German universities were accustomed to make such announcements as this to their pupils: 'Having completed our genesis of the universe, to-morrow, gentlemen, I will generate God.'
Problems of Subjective Idealism.
The problems forced, by the exigencies of this system, upon its advocates are such as the following:
1. An absolute verification of the general assumption that lies at the basis of Materialism, on the one hand, and of Idealism in all its forms, on the other, the assumption that but one substance or principle of all things exists. We have already said all that is required in respect to this assumption. We simply restate here what we have proved before, that this assumption must be absolutely verified as a principle in science, or not only Materialism, but also Idealism in all its forms, must be regarded as systems of false science. But this assumption, as we have already demonstrated, cannot be thus verified, and Idealism, in all its forms, stands revealed as resting upon no scientific basis whatever.
2. The next problem, the solution of which is required of Subjective Idealism, is a similar verification of the particular assumption that lies, with that just referred to, at the basis of Idealism, in all its forms, the assumption that knowledge is possible but in its subjective form, and is actual only in this form. This assumption, as we have shown, has no self-evident validity, and cannot, by any possibility, be verified 'by grounds and arguments' as a truth of science. Yet this impossible end must be absolutely realized, or Idealism, in all its forms, must stand demonstrated as having no other basis but two empty and lawless assumptions, and must fall to pieces upon these fatal rocks.
3. The third problem devolved upon the Subjective Idealist is this: To answer the question, How does this sole reality, 'the me' existing nowhere and in no time, time and space being only laws of thought, according to the systemhow does this sole reality, we say, first of all originate by itself and for itself the identical thought representations which it actually has of the self and the not-self, the I, the universe, and God? Unless the advocate of the system can show us just how the thing is done, and prove to us absolutely, that it was, and must have been, done in that one exclusive form, we can have no evidence whatever that we are not being imposed upon by fictions, instead of facts. Can the Subjective Idealist give the explanation and furnish the demonstration required? Not unless he is omniscient.
4. How does this single 'I,' in the next place, absolutely recognize the self and the not-self, 'the I,' the universe, and God, time and space, as real, distinct, and absolutely separate existences, and thus image to itself a great lie?
5. How does this lying 'I' then recognize the self as the only reality, and the not-self, the universe, and God, together with time and space, as mere ideal generations of 'the I myself I'? It is not sufficient for the advocate of the system to affirm that 'the I' does make these successive summersets. He must render the process itself demonstrably evident to our minds, and equally demonstrate its validity, or we dementate ourselves when we credit his revelations.
6. The advocates of this system must also furnish absolute criteria by which we can determine, with perfect certainty, which of these processes conducts us to real truth. To demand less than this, is to put out our own eyes, and surrender ourselves, as blind dupes, it may be, to philosophic jugglery. Can the advocate of the system furnish the required criteria? Can he solve all the problems forced upon him by the absolute exigencies of his own system? He can no more do it than he can systematize chaos.
Subjective Idealism affirms the 'I of consciousness' to be the only reality, and deduces from this individual subject 'the me and the not-me,' the universe and God, space and time, as they are represented in thought. Pantheism, the second form of Idealism, assumes the Infinite and Absolute to be alone real, and deduces from this sole reality time and space and all substances represented in thought as existing in time and space. The Infinite, according to the first system, is, by a process of self-development, deduced from the Finite. The Finite, according to the second system, is by a similar process deduced from the Infinite. Each system rests upon the common assumption already refuted, and borrows all its claims from that assumption, viz., that but one substance, or principle of all things, exists. Each system, also, rests upon the particular assumption, which we have also refuted, that knowledge is possible only in the subjective form, and is actual but in this form. Unless both these assumptions are absolutely verified, Idealism, in all its forms, must be ranked among the fictions of false science.
Special Assumptions of Pantheism and Pure Idealism.
There is a special assumption peculiar to Pantheism and Pure Idealism, an assumption which demands special attention in this connection. The special assumption of Idealism is, as we have stated, that knowledge is possible only in its subjective form, and is actual in this form. It is undeniable that the exclusive object of self-consciousness is the personal self, the individual mind as endowed with the functions of thought, feeling, and willing. If but one substance or principle of all things does exist, and we are conscious of the self as a real existence, the necessary deduction would be, that the self only is real. But this destroys the unity of science, as it does, in fact, admit that there may be as many selfs, as there are individual consciousnesses. To the existence of but one actual substance, or principle of all things, the conscious self must be regarded as, and must be, in fact, an attribute of a higher unity, the Infinite and Absolute. How can we know that such an infinite and absolute form of being exists, and constitutes of itself the whole real essence of the universe? Not surely through the consciousness, as it exists in the universal mind. We are, as we have said, as far as subjective knowledge is concerned, conscious only of the individual and personal self. Much less are we conscious of the self as not being a distinct, separate, and individual existence, but a part of the essence of the Absolute, and of the latter as the only real existence. This knowledge, according to the teachings of Pantheism, in all ages, is attained wholly by means of a special faculty of 'intellectual intuition,' a faculty called by the Germans 'intellectual anschauung,' a faculty of which philosophers of special endowments are exclusively possessed. Coleridge calls this faculty 'the philosophic faculty,' and affirms that those only who are endowed with this special scientific insight take rank as philosophers. All but this favoured few are necessitated to rely wholly upon their own native intuitions and necessary deductions from the same. If they would enjoy the results of the higher insight, they must implicitly accept, 'asking no questions for conscience' sake,' the sovereign dicta of the philosophers. 'These original and innate prejudices, which nature herself has implanted in all men, are, to all but the philosopher,' Coleridge adds, 'the first principles of knowledge and the final test truth.' That he may enjoy the functions of the higher insight, 'the philosopher,' he adds, 'compels himself to treat this faith' (the intuitions of the universal intelligence) 'as nothing but a prejudice, innate, indeed, and connatural, but still a prejudice.' All our intuitive forms of knowledge and belief are assumed to be wholly illusory and false. 'This purification of the mind,' says Coleridge, 'is affected by an absolute and scientific scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself for the specific purpose of future certainty.' 'This intellectual intuition,' in the language of Mr. Morrell, 'is a kind of higher and spiritual sense, through which we feel the presence of the Infinite both within and around us: moreover, it affords us a species of knowledge which does not involve the relation of subject and object, but enables us to gaze at once by the eye of the mind upon the eternal principle itself from which both proceed, and in which thought and existence are absolutely identical. Before the time when creation began, we may imagine that an infinite mind, an infinite essence, or an infinite thought (for here all these are one), filled the universe of space. This, then, as the self-existent One, must be the only absolute reality; all else can be but a developing of the one original and eternal being, and intellectual intuition is the faculty by which we rise to the perception of this, the sole ground and realistic basis of all things.' 'Unless by this spiritual vision we can realize the presence of the Infinite, as the only real and eternal existence, we have not the capacity,' Schelling affirms, 'to take the very first step into the region of the speculative philosophy.'
The above citations and explanations clearly evince the fact that we have rightly apprehended and expounded the real doctrine of Pantheism, together with its method of procedure throughout. The following, as given by these philosophers themselves, is a true statement of the Pantheistic teachings and principles:
1. All our fundamental apprehensions pertaining to spirit, matter, space, time, the universe, and God are intuitive, innate, connatural, irresistible, unchangeable, and irradicable, forms of thought and beliefintuitive convictions which necessarily arise in the mind from principles inhering in the Intelligence itself. On no subject are the teachings of these philosophers more distinct and absolute than on this.
2. It is not on the professed authority of intellectual convictions, but upon the avowed authority of a purely acknowledged assumption, that these intuitive, necessary, and irradicable convictions are 'treated as nothing but a prejudice or illusions' in the Pantheistic Philosophy. On this subject its advocates practise no deceptions upon us; they themselves affirm their assumption to have no other basis but a sentiment of will, a sentiment to which 'the mind voluntarily determines itself.'
3. The existence and absolute authority in science of this faculty of intuition is also an exclusive matter of assumption. It is not professed that the existence and authority of this faculty are intuitive truths, nor are any arguments in proof to that effect adduced. On the other hand, we must assume all this, as the immutable condition of 'taking the very first step into the region of the speculative Philosophy.'
4. Another equally absolute assumption of Pantheism is thisthat as a principle in science, naked assumptions, mere sentiments of will, have, and should have, higher place and authority than original, irresistible, and irradicable intuitions of the Intelligence. It is upon the openly avowed authority of the former that that of the latter is set aside and 'treated as a prejudice.'
5. If we accept the teachings of Pantheism, we adopt a system which openly ignores and repudiates acknowledged principles and facts of original intuition, and is openly founded upon admitted assumptions and nothing else. We must also denounce as vulgar prejudice all methods in science which have for their basis admitted principles and facts of original intuition, and treat as the only scientific method that which constructs systems upon nothing but mere assumptions. Coleridge admits that Idealism, in all its forms, rests upon nothing but assumptions; but science in every form, he adds, has in fact no other basis. We must assume something, or we cannot reason at all. This is all true, but not at all in the sense in which he affirms it. True science assumes original intuitions of the Intelligence as valid for scientific deduction; false science adopts and treats mere assumptions, or sentiments of will, as having even higher authority than real intuition. And here, undeniably, is the real difference between Materialism, Pantheism, and Idealism in all its forms, and real science.
Necessary Problems of Pantheism.
The necessary problems devolved by the immutable exigencies of this system upon its advocates are such as the following. We must also insist upon a full demonstrative solution of all these problems, provided we would not put out our own eyes, and then give ourselves up to the guidance of self-styled philosophers as totally blind, it may be, as ourselves. But what are the necessary problems under consideration? They are such as the following:
1. After giving absolute demonstration of the validity of the assumption that but one substance or principle of all things does exist, and also of the impossibility of knowledge but in its subjective form, the Pantheist must absolutely demonstrate the existence and supreme authority of this 'faculty of intellectual intuition.' The existence and authority of this faculty are not, as we have seen, intuitive truths; neither can they be admitted, without infinite folly on our part, but as absolutely demonstrated truths. This is what the Pantheist is bound to require of himself, and what we are bound to demand of him, as the immutable condition of admitting the validity of his system. Will he, can he, give us the required demonstration? Because he cannot see how a certain form of knowledge is possible, must we deny its actual existence, when we and all the world are absolutely conscious of its presence in our own minds? This faculty, if it exists, is admitted not to be a faculty of primary, but wholly of secondary, forms of intuitive knowledge. Can the Pantheist give us demonstrative reasons for the assumption that secondary and derivative intuitions, supposing them to exist, should have sovereign authority above and against the primary? Are not the latter the source and test of all valid knowledge? We prudently wait for the required demonstration.
2. Another necessary problem of Pantheism is thisto furnish demonstrative reasons why mere and admitted assumptions should have, in science, supreme authority over and against real and admitted original, immutable, and irradicable intuitions. Nothing, we judge, but a reckless and lawless assumption can cut this ' Gordian knot.'
3. The Pantheist himself will admit that all assumptions do not have, and should not have, this sovereign authority. Before we can, without stultifying ourselves, admit the sovereign validity and authority of assumptions of any kind, we must require our self-styled philosopher to give us tests of demonstrative validitytests by which we can infallibly distinguish between assumptions which have this sovereign authority and those which have no authority at all. Will he furnish us with the required criteria?
4. We may, and we shall, if we reason as wise and prudent men, we remark finally, require our philosopher to render demonstrably evident to our minds why we should not regard and treat as logical fictions all systems of every kindsystems which manifestly have, and which are admitted and affirmed by their advocates to have, no other basis than mere assumptions. The reason why Philosophy has so often run mad in this crazy world is thisthat philosophers, as well as others, have not been rigidly required to give, 'with meekness and fear, a reason of the hope that is in them.'
The necessary condition of valid knowledge is stated in another form by another school of Idealists, and is denominated the principle of ABSOLUTE IDENTITY. This condition is thus announced by Schelling and Hegel, the question, as we have stated before, which of the two originated the idea being yet a matter of dispute; the condition, we say, is thus announced by these individuals, and universally adopted by Pure Idealists, to wit: Real knowledge is possible but upon the condition that 'being and knowing shall be one and identical,' that is, that knowledge itself and the object of knowledge shall be absolutely one and identical. Coleridge announces the same principle in this form, 'a perfect identity between the subject and object, that is, between the self, the intelligence which knows, and the object known.' The system resulting from this principle is that of Pure Idealism. According to the fundamental deductions of this system, no substances, material or mental, finite or infinite, exist. Nor are space and time realities in themselves, any more than matter and spirit which we apprehend as existing and acting in space and time. Ideas, knowledge itself, ideas without subjects or objects, ideas alone are real. All else is illusion, creation is nothing but a process of pure thought, and time and space, matter and spirit, have being only as ideas, and God is nothing but the central idea about which others revolve, and from which they take form.
GENERAL AND PARTICULAR PROBLEMS OF PURE IDEALISM.
The general problem which the exigencies of this system forces upon its advocates is this, to deduce from this one 'principle of absolute identity' all our apprehensions and experiences just as they are, to assume nothing not real, to admit and explain all that is real, and so to elucidate and explain all of our actual apprehensions and experiences, as to render it demonstrably evident that this one exclusive system is and must be true, and that all others must be false. Until all this is fully accomplished, science absolutely requires us to regard and treat our fundamental world-conceptions and necessary ideas as having real validity for the reality and character of their objects. In their endeavours to accomplish their object, the advocates of this system are necessarily met by particular problems such as the following, problems all of which they must fully and absolutely solve, or stand revealed to the world as the abettors of 'science falsely so-called:'
1. A demonstration of the validity of the principle of absolute identity itself. This principle undeniably is not self-evidently true, nor is there, in the remotest degree, any antecedent probability in its favour, actual knowledge in either forms, and on other conditions, being just as conceivably possible as in this one exclusive form, and on this one exclusive condition. To prove the validity of this principle, they must find a form of thought of the validity of which we are and must be more certain than we are, or can be, of that of our necessary ideas and world-conceptions, a form of thought utterly incompatible with our apprehensions of time and space, mind and matter. Can such a form of thought be found? We apprehend time and space, for example, with the conscious impossibility of conceiving of them as not existing, or as being in any respects different from what we apprehend them to be. Can a form of thought be found to which a greater certainty attaches than this? Our apprehensions of matter and spirit are attended with a conscious certainty of their validity, a conscious certainty which utterly excludes all doubt. Can there be adduced a form of thought which is attended with a conscious certainty more absolute?
2. The second particular problem imposed upon Pure Idealists, by the exigencies of their systems, is this, to show how and why pure thought, existing as the sole reality, first of all absolutely attaches itself as an attribute to a self-conscious personal intelligence who is consciously possessed of other attributes than thought, to wit, feeling and voluntary determination; how and why it is that it affirms it to be absolutely impossible for itself to exist but as the attribute of a real personal thinker, that all events imply a cause, and all phenomena substance, or real being; how and why it is that thought then becomes directly and absolutely conscious to itself of exterior material, realities, and thus apprehends, as thus perceived, a scientifically organized universe, created and controlled by an infinite and perfect personal God; and how and why, finally, thought apprehends this universe as existing in time and space, and attaches to these realities the attributes of absolute and necessary existence.
3. The third particular problem devolved upon pure Idealists by the necessary exigencies of their system is to demonstrate the possibility of the existence of thought itself without a thinker, of phenomena without substance, of events without causes, of the possibility of that which thought affirms to be impossible, the invalidity of necessary ideas for example, and finally the possibility of thought existing and developing itself nowhere and in no time.
4. Another problem is this: to show how and why it is that thought, pure knowledge, after having originated from laws necessarily inhering in itself all the above apprehensions and experiences, finally from laws also inhering in itself, lifts the vail and stands revealed to itself as the sole reality, and by self-compulsion repudiates all its prior apprehensions and experiences as mere 'illusions.'
5. The last problem is to render demonstrably evident to our minds why we should regard this last and compulsory form of thought as having exclusive validity, and 'compel ourselves to treat' all our necessary and absolute ideas and world-knowledge as 'nothing but a prejudice.' All the above problems the advocates of this system must fully and satisfactorily solve, or stand convicted before the world as exercising the worthy functions, in the language of Kant, of 'playing tricks upon reason.'
RELATIONS TO EACH OTHER OF THE HYPOTHESES OF MATERIALISM AND IDEALISM.
Before closing our criticisms upon the two general systems above considered, those of Materialism and Idealism, we deem it important to direct special attention to the relations which, as rival and contradictory systems, they sustain to each other. A careful consideration of these relations will absolutely evince the fact that they are not only contradictory, but mutually destructive systems, and that, as a consequence, neither of them can be true. To set this department of our subject in distinct visibility before the mind, we shall be necessitated to repeat a few statements formerly made. On these hypotheses, then, we remark:
1. That both in common rest primarily upon one and the same assumption, and from it borrow all their claims to validity, an assumption not self-evidently true, which has no antecedent probability in its favour, and which is demonstrably false. We refer, of course, to the assumption that there does, in fact, 'exist but one system or principle of all things.' That this assumption is not of self-evident validity is undeniable, as we have already shown. The existence of two substances, matter and spirit, is just as conceivable, and, therefore, possible in itself, as that of one. The idea that one of them exists renders it in no degree whatever probable even that the other does not exist. It is just as conceivable, and, therefore, possible and probable in itself, that all four of the realities to which we have so often referred exist together, as that any one of them exists alone.
On the other hand, we have absolute proof, as we have abundantly shown, of the actual co-existence of all these realities, of matter and spirit as the conscious objects of direct, immediate, and intuitive knowledge, and of space and time, as necessarily implied by the conscious objects of direct and immediate external and internal perception. This assumption, therefore, stands revealed as a demonstrated error.
What infinite presumption, also, does the presentation of this assumption, as a principle in science, imply? Permit us, in the name of science, to ask the disciples and leaders of each of these schools whether they have actually traversed infinite space, and can affirm from personal knowledge that throughout this boundless domain but one single substance exists? If but one substance does, in fact, exist, none but absolute omniscience has the remotest right to affirm it as a theory of universal being and its laws, and finally impose that theory upon the world as a system of science. Philosophers, those of certain schools especially, need to be reminded that with them, in common with the rest of mankind, knowledge has, and presumption should have, its limits; and that when, as in each of the cases before us, they construct, upon mere assumptions, proud superstructures of affirmed knowledge systematized, they are, in fact, building up nothing but logical fictions.
2. Each of these hypotheses, we remark, in the next place, rests directly upon a particular assumption identical, in character, with the general one which we have just exposed. Each system assumes and affirms, as we have seen, the one that knowledge is possible and actual but in its exterior, or objective, and the other only in its interior, or subjective, form. Take from both the general, and from each its special and peculiar assumption, and no systems can stand revealed, as being mere and exclusive logical fictions, than is undeniably true of each of the hypotheses under consideration. Knowledge is possible but in respect 'to things without us,' postulates Materialism, and is actual in this exclusive form. Matter, therefore, and that alone, is real. Knowledge is possible, replies Idealism, but upon the exclusive condition of an absolute 'synthesis,' or 'identity' 'of being and knowing,' that is, in its subjective form, and is actual in this form. Mind or thought, therefore, and it alone, is real. One or the other, or both of these hypotheses, must be false. This is undeniable. As each, as compared with the other, is just as conceivably true as the other, neither can lay any claims whatever to intuitive, or necessary, certainty; nor can one be regarded, as in itself, more probably true than the other. The positive evidence in favour of each, as against the other, is absolutely balanced. We are, undeniably, just as conscious of actual knowledge, in one form, as in the other. The argument of each, as against the exclusive claims of the other, has, therefore, demonstrative validity. What, then, is the undeniable character of the assumption on which, as a principle, each of these systems immediately rests? It is, undeniably, nothing but a mere assumption, with none whatever of the characteristics of a principle in science, an assumption which is not intuitively true, in favour of which no form, or degree, of even antecedent probability can be adduced, and against the validity of which the most absolute forms of positive proof may be adduced. Now a system can, in no form or degree, be more substantial than the principle on which it is based.
3. Each of these incompatible assumptions has absolute omnipotent power in its assaults upon the other, and is the perfection of impotence against the blows of its antagonist. Each presents arguments against the exclusive claims of the otherarguments which the latter can, by no possibility, invalidate, and which must be invalidated, or these claims will stand revealed as demonstrated abortions. Neither can present a solitary argument, or form of proof, in its own favour, which the other cannot counterbalance by arguments and forms of proof of the same identical character and force in favour of its own validity. Does one appeal to consciousness, the other can, with equal force, make the same appeal, we being just as absolutely conscious of real knowledge in one form as we are, or can be, in the other. Does one assume knowledge to be possible but in one form, the other can assume, with the same assurance, and with equal reason, that knowledge is possible but in the opposite form.
4. Each of these assumptions, we remark once more, is confronted by the absolute claims of a third hypothesis, one whose impregnable 'grounds and arguments' are absolutely destructive of the claims of the material assumption, on the one hand, and the ideal, on the other. We refer, of course, to the hypothesis of Realism. While this hypothesis denies the validity of each of these assumptions, in its exclusive form, it affirms its full validity as far as the fact of knowledge in that form is concerned. This affirmation is based upon the equal and absolute testimony of consciousness to the fact and validity of actual knowledge in both its subjective and objective forms. 'In our perceptive consciousness,' says Sir William Hamilton, 'there is revealed, as an ultimate fact, a self and a not-self, each given as independent, each known only in antithesis to the other. No belief is more intuitive, universal, immediate, or irresistible than that this antithesis is real and known to be real; no belief is, therefore, more true. If the antithesis be illusive, self and not-self, subject and object, I and thou are distinctions without a difference, and consciousness, so far from being 'the internal voice of our Creator,' is shown to be, like Satan, 'a liar from the beginning.' The testimony of consciousness is, undeniably, just as direct, immediate, and absolute to the existence of matter as an exterior substance distinct and separate from the knowing subject, and as possessed of real extension and form, as it is to our own personal existence, as exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination, and in no case is its testimony more distinctly and absolutely pronounced than it is in each of these. If this faculty is to be regarded as deceiving us, in respect to either of these forms of knowledge, it is to be deemed a lying witness everywhere. What must we think of professed systems of knowledgesystems which take exclusive form, and borrow all their claims, from such shadowy assumptions as these? In the light of impartial science, such systems can take no higher rank than logical fictions. One of the great mysteries of the past is the fact that such baseless and insubstantial forms of thought could, for such long ages, command the regard of great thinkers. Pure Idealism, as we have seen, cannot be true unless the axiomsbody implies space, succession, time, events, causes, and things equal to the same things are equal to one anotherare false. No axiom is, or can be of more absolute validity than is the affirmation of universal mind, that thought implies a thinker, and the reality of thought the prior existence of a real faculty and object of knowledge. We know, and cannot but know, that this system cannot be true. Yet this system does not rest upon assumptions more obviously invalid, than does Materialism, on the one hand, and Idealism, in its other forms, on the other.
The Doctrine Defined.
A third position may be postulated in regard to the relations of our intelligence to these realities. It may be assumed that real knowledge, both in its objective and subjective forms, is impossible; that all our perceptions, both external and internal, are illusory, and void of objective validity; that knowledge, in all its forms, is exclusively phenomenal, mere appearance in which no reality appears, or is manifested as it is in itself, and that, consequently, in the language of Mr. Herbert Spencer, 'the reality existing behind all appearance is, and ever must be, unknown,' 'matter and spirit' being, in the language of Mr. Huxley, 'nothing but imaginary substrata to which we refer certain facts of which we are conscious.' Nothing whatever is really, but only relatively, known. This relativity, and real non-validity, pertain, not merely to matter and spirit, but equally to time and space, and all necessary ideas and principles. In his 'Logic,' and in his reply to Sir William Hamilton, Mr. Mill formally combats the doctrine that inconceivability is an evidence of truth or untruth, that is, that the fact that we cannot conceive a proposition to be false is evidence of its truth, or that we cannot conceive a judgment to be true is evidence of its untruth. We cannot, for example, even conceive that the proposition, things equal to the same things are not equal to one another, is true, or that the proposition, a strait line cannot enclose a space, is false. Inconceivability, even in such cases, Mr. Mill, in fact and form, maintains is no valid evidence of truth or untruth. God, according to this system, is the unknowable and unknown ultimate cause of the facts of an unknown and unknowable universe. 'The religious sentiment,' says Mr. Herbert Spencer, 'must ever continue to occupy itself with a universal causal agent posited as not to be known at all.' This system, which absolutely impeaches the Intelligence itself, and that universally, as a faculty of knowledge, in respect to all realities in common, is called Scepticism. Scepticism proper proposes no positive hypothesis in regard to being, or its laws, but denies absolutely the possibility of any hypothesis, which can be verified, as true or false. Of each of the hypotheses of Materialism, Idealism, and Realism, it affirms that it may or may not be true, and that it is absolutely impossible to determine which is, and which is not, true. Such is the Sceptical Philosophy.
Doctrines Common to this and Other Systems.
In common with all other systems, Scepticism admits and affirms that, by a necessary law of the Intelligence, in its intuitive procedure, space and time, matter and spirit, are apprehended as knowable and known realities, and that our apprehensions of them as such realities can by no possibility be changed, modified, or displaced from human thought. Notwithstanding all this, it professes to find full proof that these apprehensions are 'nothing but a prejudice.'
The Grand Problem of this System.
The grand problem devolved, by the exigencies of this system, upon its advocates is an absolute demonstration of the validity of their universal impeachment of the Intelligence as a faculty of knowledge. They must demonstrate the fact that 'mind and matter are nothing but imaginary substrata,' that space and time are no realities in themselves, or that they are not the realities which we necessarily apprehend them to be. In short, they must render it demonstrably evident that, of all realities as they are, we do know, and can know, just nothing at all; or, in the language of an old Grecian Sceptic, that 'we don't know, that we don't know anything at all.' This they must fully accomplish, or stand revealed as acting the sophist before the world.
The Condition on which this Problem can be Solved.
To attain their purpose these men must adduce some form of knowledge of the validity of which we are, and must be, more absolutely certain than we are of our own personal existence, of that of material substances around us, and of the reality of time and space, a form of knowledge wholly incompatible with the validity of our apprehensions of these realities. Science demands all this as the immutable condition of admitting the possible validity of the Sceptical hypothesis. Who need to be told that Sceptics can never accomplish the end demanded of them by the exigencies of their system, that they can by no possibility adduce the form of knowledge referred to, that of nothing can we be more certain than we are of our own personal existence, as real beings who actually think, feel, and will, of the reality of matter which is directly and immediately present before us, as possessed of extension and form, and of that of space and time which we know as being of necessity the realities which we apprehend them to be?
The Sceptical Assumption Refuted.
The fundamental assumption of Scepticism, as we have seen, is this: that the human intelligence, from its nature and laws, is a faculty of knowledge relatively to but one reality, to wit, its own utter incapacity to know anything of mind, matter, space, and time, as they are in themselves, if they exist at all, or of any other form of being, if it is real. To this absolute conscious ignorance Mr. Huxley informs us that scientists of his school 'have attained by their wisdom.'
What is the character of this assumption? It has, undeniably, no self-evident validity. Equally manifest is it that this assumption stands in open opposition to the intuitive convictions of the race, as well as to the direct, immediate, and absolute testimony of universal consciousness. All men, Sceptics among the rest, intuitively and absolutely believe that they know mind and matter, space and time, as realities in themselves. Of the presence of such knowledge now in the mind, all men are absolutely conscious. To justify himself to himself, and to the world, of whom he professes to know nothing, the Sceptic must, we repeat, give us an absolute demonstration of the validity of his fundamental assumption, a demonstration of the validity of which we are, and must be, more absolutely certain than we are, or can be, of our own existence, and of that of the universe around us, together with that of space and time. This is the least that can be demanded of him. We know absolutely that he can never accomplish such an end as that; that he can never induce the Intelligence to perpetrate upon itself such a felo de se.
The Sceptic has no expectation or desire that his hypothesis shall be accepted anywhere but in the sphere of morals and religion. In all other departments of belief and action his inward choice is that men shall think and act as they would were his monstrous absurdities never obtruded into the realm of science. We have already fully exposed the utter emptiness and sophistry of the reasonings by which the validity of this hypothesis is affirmed to have been established. On this point nothing need be added in this connection. Sceptics universally admit that their hypothesis is utterly opposed to the intuitive convictions of the race, and that these convictions 'remain proof against all grounds and arguments' which they can adduce for their subversion. Yet they maintain that on account of their 'grounds and arguments,' which have no power to change, modify, or displace these convictions, we ought, as far, at least, as morals and religion are confirmed, to 'compel ourselves to treat' this 'innate and connatural,' this unchangeable and irreducible 'faith, as nothing but a prejudice.' What shall we do? We cannot, if we wouldand the Sceptic is here in the same limbo as ourselveswe cannot, if we would, we say, change, modify, or displace the direct, immediate, and absolute consciousness which we have both of the self and of the not-self, and of the necessary existence of time and space. If we attempt to compel ourselves to treat our apprehensions and convictions in regard to them as mere illusions, matter and spirit are immediately before us as the same consciously known entities that they previously were, and we find it just as impossible as ever even to conceive of the non-existence of time and space, any more than we can affirm that it is possible for the same thing at the same moment to exist and not to exist. We choose, therefore, to receive, as truths of science, undeniably intuitive and necessary, convictions of our own and the universal intelligence, rather than 'compel ourselves to treat,' as such, mere assumptions of scientists, assumptions for the validity of which no good reasons whatever can be offered, and no 'grounds or arguments' adduced which do not characterize those who adduce them as sophists who are employing their philosophical talents for no higher end than, in the language of Kant, which we have before cited, 'playing tricks upon reason.'
The System Defined.
The last position, which may be taken in regard to the relations of the Intelligence to the four realities under consideration, now claims our attention. It may be postulated, as we have said, that the Intelligence, relatively to all these realities, is a faculty of valid knowledge, and that, as far as their essential characteristics are concerned, they consequently are knowable and known objects. This system is properly denominated Realism, because it affirms real valid knowledge to be possible and actual in its subjective, objective, and implied forms, and presents for scientific systematization spirit and matter, space and time, as realities in themselves, and as, in all their fundamental characteristics, knowable and known as such realities. In its theory of universal knowledge it professedly gives us a scientifically systematized whole including, as its essential parts, space and time as the real places of substances and events, finite mind with its powers of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination, matter with its directly and intuitively known primary, and its indirectly and relatively known secondary, qualities, the universe material and mental organized and operating throughout in absolute accordance with scientific ideas and principles, and finally an infinite and perfect self-conscious personal God, 'clearly seen by the things that are made' as the Creator and Governor of all conditional existences, and these realities as verified facts and truths of science; in other words, A PHILOSOPHY OF UNIVERSAL EXISTENCE AND ITS LAWS. This system also professedly explains and elucidates the origin and genesis of all the sciences, pure and mixed, and vindicates for them all not only a relative, but absolute validity.
The General Problem of this System.
The general problem devolved, by the necessary exigencies of this system upon its advocates, is a verification, as a fact and truth of science, of the absolute validity of the general postulate of this system in regard to the extent and limits of valid knowledge. This end being accomplished, all the subsequent deductions of the system follow by logical necessity. The truth of this statement is undeniable, and has, in fact, never been denied. The claims of the deductions of Theism to take rank as truths of science have never been denied, in any age or in any school of Philosophy, but upon one exclusive groundto wit, a formal impeachment of the validity of human knowledge in some one or all of the specific forms in which that knowledge is impeached in the system of Materialism, Idealism, or Scepticism. Hence the perfect necessity of verifying, as a truth of science, the validity of the postulate under consideration. In accomplishing this result, the following particular problems must be fully solved.
Particular Special Problems of the System.
1. A specific answer to the question, 'What is the necessary, immutable, and exclusive condition of the possibility of valid knowledge in any form? and in what form, and upon what conditions, can the question, What can we know? receive a valid answer?' This problem has been already solved.
2. A similar demonstration, which has already been given, of the specific scientific criteria which characterize and distinguish all forms of valid knowledge, in opposition to all forms of thought which are not valid for the reality and character of their objects, criteria especially which peculiarize and separate basis principles from assumptions in science, and facts of real knowledge as distinguished from objects of opinion, belief, and conjectureobjects not known to be real, facts which may, and those which cannot, have place as constituent elements in systems of real science.
3. By a rigid application of the above condition and criteria, the human intelligence must be demonstrated to be, relatively to spirit and matter, space and time, a faculty, and that they are to it objects of real knowledge; that they consequently are realities in themselves, and knowable and known as they are in themselves; that Realism is based exclusively upon principles having necessary validity, and facts of valid knowledge; and that its deductions are the necessary consequents of such principles and facts, and as a system it consequently has the absolute characteristics of 'knowledge systematized.'
4. It must be rendered equally evident that all the sciences, pure and mixed, are fully explicable on the principles of this system, and in their light stand fully revealed and vindicated as the interpreters, not of relative, but real truth.
5. It must be rendered demonstrably evident, we remark finally, that all opposite systems, Materialism, Idealism in all its forms, and Scepticism, are based wholly, not upon principles of science, but upon mere assumptions employed as principles; and that their constituent elements are either a partial induction of facts of valid knowledge, or objects of opinions and beliefs which are subject to continuous changes and modifications, and displacement from human thought; and, consequently, that the deductions of these systems have all the characteristics of errors of false science.
As Materialism, Idealism in its various forms, Scepticism, and Realism embrace all conceivable and possible systems, and one of them must be true, and all the others false, each being utterly incompatible with every other, when all the five problems just named have been fully solved, the entire deductions of Realism will stand revealed as absolutely verified truths of science. Most of the above-designated problems have already been solved, and all others will be in future departments of this Treatise.
As Materialism, Idealism, and Scepticism have also been proven to be systems of false science, we might close the argument here, and assume, as already verified, Realism as 'knowledge systematized.' The importance of the subject, however, demands a special verification of the claims of this system. We shall confine our remarks in this connection to one point exclusively, as the whole issue turns here. We refer to the question already determinedto wit, the validity of our knowledge of the four realities under consideration.
Postulates Common to All Systems.
The postulate strictly common to all these systems is thisthat the human intelligence is, relatively to some realities, a facuilty of valid knowledge. If this postulate is not granted, nothing is or can be given to reason about, and there is no intelligence given to reason about realities if they do exist. Something must be givenuniversal doubt, if you pleaseas real, and really known. All agree in, then, and none profess to doubt, the strict validity of the postulate under consideration.
With the same strictness of unanimity all agree that there exist in the mind a great variety and diversity of forms of thoughtforms some of which pertain to their objects as verily known realities, while others pertain to their objects not as really known, but as of conceivable or inconceivable, possible or impossible, probable or improbable, or even conjectural realities. All agree, also, in the facts that in the mind there exist assmuptions in which forms of thought of some of the classes last named, forms not known to be valid, are introduced as principles or facts in the construction of systems of affirmed science. So far, no difference of opinion does or can obtain among real thinkers. From these common convictions and admissions it follows by logical necessity that the distinction between systems of real and false science lies here. The former are constituted exclusively of principles, facts, and deductions which exist in the mind as forms of valid knowledge, and which, when clearly apprehended, must be recognized by the universal intelligence as such forms. Systems of false science, on the other hand, are constituted, in whole or in part, of forms of thought not really valid for the reality and character of their objectsthat is, of mere assumptions employed as principles and facts of merely conceivable, possible, probable, or conjectural, and of not known reality, or fallacious deductions.
Criteria of Forms of Valid Knowledge as already Stated.
How especially shall we distinguish valid principles from mere assumptions, and facts of real knowledge from those which have nothing but a conceivable, possible, probable, or conjectural reality? In other words, what are the fixed, immutable, and infallible criteria by which we can certainly distinguish forms of valid, from those of invalid, knowledge? This is the fundamental question which lies at the threshold of our investigations, and must be validly solved, or we shall advance blindly forward in all our inquiries throughout the whole sphere of thought. We have adduced this as one of the criteria after which we are inquiring, to wit, absolute fixedness and immutability. Real knowledge, of course, must have these characteristics. When we really and truly know an object, our apprehensions of it must have these characteristics, that they cannot be changed, modified, or displaced from human thought. Assumptions and all forms of thought, which have only a conceivable, possible, probable, or conjectural validity, are of course subject to perpetual changes and modifications, and may be displaced from human thought and regard. Principles in science and forms of necessary knowledge have this immutable characteristic, that we cannot even conceive of their non-validity. Facts of science are objects which may be conceived to be real or unreal, but cannot be apprehended as unreal, or as being different from what we apprehended them to be.
Our Knowledge of Space and Time Verified.
In view of these self-evident criteria of valid knowledge, Realism affirms, as objects of necessary knowledge, first of all, the reality of space and time, and that they are in themselves such realities as we apprehend them to be. The reason is obvious. We can by no possibility even represent them in thought as not existing, or as being in any respects different from what we apprehended them to be. For these reasons our apprehensions of them cannot in the least form or degree be changed, modified, or displaced from human thought. Compare now these apprehensions with the general assumption which, as a principle, lies at the basis of Materialism on the one hand, and of Idealism on the other, to wit, that but one substance or principle of all things does exist. It is undeniable that the actual existence of two substances is just as conceivable, and therefore as possible in itself, as one. Nor, as we have shown, can any being, but one absolutely omniscient, have any right to affirm that but one substance does, in fact, exist. We have finally absolute, intuitive proof that two distinct and separate substances do exist. Compare once more our apprehensions of space and time with the two particular assumptions that lie at the basis of the Materialistic, and of the Idealistic hypotheses, the one affirming that knowledge is possible and actual but in its objective, and the other, but in its subjective, form. No fact of consciousness is more undeniable than this, that the possibility of knowledge is just as conceivable, and as consciously actual in one form as in the other, and in both forms as in either. What right, then, has either of these assumptions to the place they occupy in these systems, that of a principle in science? No more, we reply, than the assumption that a strait line may enclose a space. In what light must true science regard systems which cannot be true unless those assumptions have absolute validity? As logical fictions, and nothing else. Our apprehensions of time and space, on the other hand, stand revealed as undeniable forms of valid knowledge, and as having, of absolute right, their places in forms of 'knowledge systematized.'
Our Apprehensions of Matter and Spirit Verified.
On the authority of the same criteria, Realism affirms our apprehensions of spirit and matter to be forms of contingent but absolutely valid knowledge. The reason is that while in external and internal perception, we have a direct, immediate, and absolute consciousness of them as actually existing, and as such as distinct and separate realities, the fundamental apprehensions of them which we thus obtain can no more be changed, modified, or displaced from human thought, than can our apprehensions of a circle or a square. While we have many variable and shadowy assumptions, opinions, and conjectures in regard to these substances, our apprehensions of the self as a thinking, feeling, willing, personal existence, and of the not-self as a real exterior substance, having extension and form, never change, and cannot be displaced. Space, time, spirit, and matter, then, are realities in themselves, and as such are knowable and known realities. Our apprehensions of them also have all possible characteristics of forms of valid knowledge, of verities of science, and Realism rests upon no other basis than the rock of truth
MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS AND SUGGESTIONS.
MATERIALISM, IDEALISM, AND SCEPTICISM, ALL CONSTRUCTED THROUGHOUT AFTER ONE AND THE SAME METHODBEGGING THE QUESTION.
WE have reserved for a separate consideration a very important characteristic of the systems above named, the systems whose claims we have already, it may be thought, sufficiently investigated. There is no more vicious form of scientific and logical error known to the human mind, than that, which goes by the name of begging the question an error which consists, not only in the substitution of assumptions in the place of principles, and the induction of false, instead of real facts, but in the adoption of mere assumptions which are really identical with the conclusion desired to be reached. Here lies the fundamental vice of Materialism, of Idealism in all its forms, and finally of Scepticism. The basis principles of all these systems are assumptions which are identical with their proximate and final deductions, a fact which marks them, all in common, as systems of seductive error. This charge we will now proceed to verify.
The fundamental issue between Realism, and with it Theism, and Materialism, on the one hand, and Idealism on the other, is this: Whether one, and but one substance or principle of all things does exist. Unless this one issue be granted, or verified by proof against Realism, not one step can be taken in the direction of either of the other systems. This issue is openly begged by the assumption, that but one substance and principle of all things do exist, an assumption not even professedly self-evident, and for the verification of which by proof no attempt is made. The validity of the assumption, on the other hand, is taken for granted, and upon it, as an admitted principle, a system is at once reared up. This assumption being granted, every issue with Realism is settled at once, for if but one substance does or can exist, matter and spirit cannot both be real. But who does not perceive that the issue with Realism is begged, and begged by a mere assumption which is identical with the deduction desired? Thus, the first step is taken in exclusive conformity to one of the most vicious principles known to science.
As soon as this first step has been thus taken, a fundamental issue arises between the two rival systems, Materialism, on the one hand, and Idealism on the other. One of these, the previous assumption being granted, must be true, and the other false. How can it be known which is true, and which false? Not by intuition, or by deduction, the claims of each, as against the other, being absolutely balanced. Mr. Huxley is undeniably right when he affirms that 'our knowledge of what we call the material world is, to begin with, at least as certain and definite as that of the spiritual world.' On what basis, then, can an advance be made in the direction of either of these systems? By a naked assumption which begs the issue, and by nothing else. This advance the Materialist makes by the assumption that knowledge is possible but in its exterior form, or in respect to 'things without us,' and is real in this form. This involves, on the principle of identity, the validity of the material hypothesis in all its forms and deductions. This step the Materialist takes, we repeat, not by showing that his hypothesis has self-evident validity, or is a demonstrated truth, nor after he has invalidated the assumption of the Idealist, but by viciously begging the question at issue. Having assumed the validity of his principle, he goes on and rears up the whole superstructure of his system.
As against the Materialist, the Idealist begs the question, not on 'grounds or arguments,' but by the naked assumption that knowledge is possible only in its interior form, and is actual in that form. The condition of valid knowledge, he affirms without proof or argument, is 'a synthesis of being and knowing.' This assumption not only begs the question against the Materialist, but involves, on the validity of a series of identical propositions, the whole system of Idealism.
But here two contradictory systems present themselves, Subjective Idealism and Pantheism. Advocates of the former system assume the fact, that we are conscious of 'the me,' and of nothing else. As but one substance does exist, and 'the me' is known, in consciousness, to exist, 'the me' must be the sole existence and principle of all things. This argument, on the authority of the common consciousness, has against the Pantheist absolute validity. We are directly and immediately conscious of 'the me,' and in no sense or form are we thus conscious of the Infinite and Absolute. The Pantheist gets over this difficulty by the naked assumption which undeniably begs the question at issue between him and the Subjective Idealist, the assumption of 'a special faculty of intuition,' a faculty by which the Infinite and Absolute is directly known as the only substance, and 'the me' as a development of that one substance. The Pantheist does not profess that his special faculty has self-evident reality. Nor does he offer any arguments to prove its existence and supreme authority. This is simply assumed, and with it is begged the validity of the whole system of Pantheism. If but one substance does exist, and the Infinite and Absolute, as the substance and principle of all things, is directly and immediately perceived to be that substance, this is identical with all that is in the system.
The two systems just considered admit this in common, that substance is real. But here another issue arises. The doctrine of substance is denied, and that upon the authority of the general principle admitted as valid by Materialists and Idealists in common, that but one principle of all things does, or can exist. Knowledge, or thought, is real. This must be admitted. Must not thought, then, be the only reality, the real substance and principle of all things? This issue the Pure Idealist begs, by the assumption that the condition of valid knowledge is this, that 'being and knowing must be one and identical.' This assumption involves, on the principle of identity, the validity of the system of Pure Idealism throughout. All comes under the vicious principle of begging the question.
When the Idealist comes to construct his system in detail, the same method as before is still pursued. The common assumption of the system is, that in external perception, the real object perceived is not without, but within us, and that sensation, as an ideal or sensitive state, is that object. Each system has to account for the existence or origination of the sensation in the one or the other of these forms. To account for the origination of this phenomenon, Kant assumed, or begged, the existence of two unknowable entities, noumena, and referred sensation, as an effect, to the action and reaction of these two substances upon each other, as causes.
This, according to Fichte, destroyed the unity of science, which demands that there shall be but one substance, or principle, of all things. To account for sensation in the one substance, 'the me,' this philosopher assumed, that is, begged, the existence in 'the me' of two distinct and opposite principlesthat of spontaneous self-activity and expansion, and that of certain 'inexplicable limitations.' Of the existence and action of these principles we have, as Fichte admitted, no consciousness. They exist below, and act prior to consciousness, if they exist and act at all. We are conscious only of the result of their mutual action and reaction, that is, of the sensation which they induce. It is undeniable that the existence and action of these principles are simply begged, or assumed, to meet an exigency of the systemto wit, to account for sensation.
To account for sensation and all other mental operations, the Pantheist assumes, or begs, for his system the existence in the Infinite and Absolute of two similar principles. For a similar purpose, the Pure Idealist begs for his system the existence of similar principles in pure thought. Nothing is provenall is begged as the exigences of any system require, and always what is begged is identical with the deduction sought to be reached. Fichte begged, as the fundamental condition of the existence of a system of knowledge, scientifically developed, that all the parts must involve each other on the principle of absolute identity. All must conform to the proposition, A is A. In formal conformity to this principle, all the forms of Idealism are developed. All the deductions are, in fact and form, identical with the basis assumption. In other words, none of these systems have any place whatever within the circle of the sciences. The axioms, or principles, of all the real sciences do not imply the existence, or character, of any facts whatever. Those principles imply simply what will, and must, be true, if facts of a given character shall be found to exist. Take, as an example, the axiom, 'Things equal to the same things are equal to one another.' This axiom has, in the first place, self-evident validity. In the next place, it determines nothing whatever about the question what things do, or do not exist. This is true of all the principles, or axioms, of all the sciences. What should we think, if all the so-called sciences were constructed upon principles, or assumptions, not of self-evident validity, and which have not been, or cannot be, proven true, but which, on the naked principle of identity, imply all the facts and deductions of which said systems are constructed? We should stultify ourselves, if we should call them systems of real science. We do, in fact and form, stultify ourselves when we locate any of the systems of Materialism, or Idealism, within the circle of real science. We might, with the same propriety, affirm that an individual who has repeated a hundred times in succession the proposition, A is A, has constructed a system of real science as to call any of the systems under consideration a system of science. All that has been said above has a direct application to the system of Scepticism. Its basis principle, that 'all our knowledge is mere appearance, and that the realities existing behind all appearances, are, and ever must be unknown,' is, as we have already shown, not self-evidently true; nor is it capable of being verified by proof. Yet that assumption is absolutely identical with the final deduction of the systemto wit, that all positive systems are foundationless. In other words, Scepticism, in none of its forms, has any other basis than a vicious assumption which begs all questions at issue between it and all other systems. We shall have frequent occasion to recur to the undeniable facts above presented and elucidated, as we enter upon our future expositions and criticisms.
THE PROPER PLACE AND INFLUENCE OF THE DIFFERENT MENTAL FACULTIES IN THE CONSTITUTION OF SYSTEMS OF KNOWLEDGE.
It is self-evident that if we would have systems of science or philosophysystems which may, with any show of truth, take rank as 'knowledge systematized,' the pure intelligence, unperverted, and not determined in its proper activity by the impulsions of the sensibility, or will, must furnish all the principles, facts, and deductions which constitute the system, and must determine the place and relations of all the facts of the same. Will must have place but in determining attention to principles, facts, and deductions, and finally to the proper place of each fact in the system, and all for the fixed purpose of knowing truth as it is. All promptings of desire must be ignored and suppressed but those in which there is a 'cry after knowledge,' and 'a lifting up of the voice for understanding'a cry through which 'wisdom enters into the heart and knowledge is pleasant to the soul.' There must be a fixed determination of will that assumptions, together with mere opinions and conjectures, shall have no place in the system, and that there shall be absolute integrity in the induction of principles and facts, and in all deductions from the same. Whatever judgments the Intelligence gives forth as self-evidently true, these, and these only, must have place as principles. Whatever the Intelligence, in its integrity, affirms to be real, must be accepted as actual facts. And finally, whatever deductions the Intelligence gives forth as the necessary consequents of such principles and facts must be rigidly accepted as truths of science. Nothing but what the Intelligence gives forth in the form of necessary and intuitive principles, actual facts, and necessary deductions from said principles and facts, must have place in the system. Here, and here only, is real integrity in scientific induction and deduction.
It is equally evident that systems may be constructed in conformity with other and opposite methodsmethods in which principles, facts, and deductions shall be wholly, or for the most part, determined by fiats of will, or prompting of desire. A merchant, we will suppose, is about to send a cargo of goods from New York to Liverpool, and wishes to determine the time of their passage. He requires his clerk to give the time, and to give it from the following data: Distance from New York to Halifax, 300 miles; from thence to the coasts of Newfoundland, 200; and from thence to Liverpool, 500 miles. Distance sailed over, each day, 200 miles. The clerk can as readily give the result from these data as from data furnished by the most approved records of facts. He informs his employer, however, that the data assigned do not accord with those furnished by the records referred to. 'No matter,' replies the merchant; 'compel yourself to treat the data furnished by these records as nothing but a prejudice,' 'innate, indeed, and connatural, yet nothing but a prejudice,' and give the deduction from the data which I have furnished. When you have done so, call the latter calculations science, and calculations as commonly made, forms of old superstition. The world would know at once that if the man is serious, he has become demented. The reason is obvious. He has determined his data, and as a consequence his deductions, wholly by his will, and not by his intelligence.
A system of affirmed world-knowledge is before us, a system commended to our regard as 'knowledge systematized.' On examination, we find it to be constructed wholly, not of principles and facts furnished by the Intelligence when acting in its pure integrity, but from will-datadata in which the ultimate deductions are all begged. We find mere naked assumptions substituted for known principles of science, and facts of absolute conscious intuition ignored or forcibly 'treated as nothing but a prejudice,' and facts of false or partial induction introduced just as the exigencies of the system, and not as the absolute dicta of the Intelligence require. What shall we think of such systems? We must regard them as false systems, of course, and repudiate their deductions as we would those secured by the merchant referred to. We must also judge of the framers of these systems as we would of such individual. We must affirm them to be demented, or false to moral integrity, in the sphere of scientific thought and deduction. We must bear in mind that a philosopher may be as really dishonest and criminal in his study and books, as the merchant in his store, or the politician in handling the public treasures. The philosopher may be as dishonest and criminal in imposing upon the public the deductions of false science through deceptive will-data, as the citizen is who imposes upon the community deceptive wares, or counterfeit money. The distinction is so manifest between assumptions and principles, and false and valid inductions of facts, that without moral dishonesty fundamental errors in respect to being and its laws, to the soul and its destiny, to moral principle and ultimate causation are hardly possible. The wide gulf which separates systems of true, from those of false, science has been made sufficiently plain, perhaps, in the above presentations. We will now adduce, in further elucidation of the distinction under consideration, some palpable facts of actual experience in this business of world-making.
Suppose that a so-called philosopher requires his intelligence to construct a system of world-knowledge from the following data: Assumption first, But one substance or principle of all things does exist. Assumption second, Knowledge is possible only in its subjective form, and is actual in that form. Assumption third, Being and knowing are one and identical. Give the necessary deduction from such data; in other words, give us from these data the only possible system of existence, and the implied laws of the same. But one answer can be given, to wit, thought with its inhering laws is real, and nothing else can exist. Our philosopher is reminded of the fact that it is impossible for us to conceive of thought without a thinker, of phenomena without substance, and of events without real causes. He is also reminded of the fact that the possibility of knowledge in its exterior is just as conceivable as in its subjective form, and that we are as absolutely conscious of its actuality in the former, as we are in the latter form. All this is freely granted, replies our philosopher. Yet 'you must compel yourselves to treat,' in the construction of your system of knowledge, all such unavoidable and irradicable intuitions and convictions 'as a prejudice, innate, indeed, and connatural, yet nothing but a prejudice.' You must construct your system from the exclusive data furnished. When you have done so, you must call your system the only true science, and repudiate all opposite ones as the creations of old superstition and prejudice. Yon may then regard yourself as having an honourable place in the realm of 'Divine Philosophy.' Suppose, on the other hand, that another philosopher requires his intelligence to construct a system from the following data: Assumption first, But one substance or principle of all things does, or can, exist. Assumption second, Knowledge, only in reference to 'things without us,' is possible, and is actual in this form. What, and what alone from such data is to be regarded as real, and what must be the laws of its existence and activity? What especially must thought, feeling, and willing pertain to as phenomena? But one answer can be given. Matter with its inhering laws, and that only, is real, and is the exclusive principle of all things. Mental phenomena are nothing but facts of material development, and all ideas of God, duty, and immortality, are chimeras. Our philosopher is reminded of the fact that his fundamental assumption is not a self-evident truth, and that it has not been, and cannot be, verified by proof. He is also reminded that we are as absolutely conscious of the possibility and reality of knowledge in its subjective, as in its exterior form. 'Granted,' replies our philosopher, 'yet you must compel yourselves to treat,' all forms of subjective knowledge, 'as a prejudice, innate, indeed, and connatural, yet as nothing but a prejudice.' You must construct your theory of being and its laws with rigid conformity to the data given. When you have completed the superstructure, you must compel yourself to regard it as 'knowledge systematized,' and denounce all opposite systems as illusions. You may then regard yourself as a full fledged philosopher.
One more example. A philosopher requires his intelligence to give the true theory of knowledge systematized, and to give the same from the following data: AssumptionAll our world-knowledge is of mere relative validity, mere appearance or illusion, and 'the reality existing behind all appearance is, and ever must be, unknown.' What is the necessary deduction from such data? The absolute impossibility of developing any valid system of being and its laws. We remind our philosopher that his assumption has none of the characteristics of a principle in science, and that it cannot be verified as a deductive truth, it being impossible for us to be as absolutely assured of the validity of any deduction from any reasoning process which he may adduce to prove his assumption, as we are of the reality of our personal existence, and of that of 'things without us.' All this is true, our philosopher replies; 'yet you must compel yourselves to treat' all your subjective and objective intuitions 'as nothing but a prejudice, innate, indeed, and connatural, yet nothing but a prejudice.' You must compel yourself to treat, as the sole truth of science, the necessary deduction yielded by the data given. Suppose now that our philosopher, after having affirmed the absolute validity of the sceptical hypothesis as above given, after having affirmed that 'matter and spirit are but names for an imaginary substrata of groups of natural phenomena,' should then pledge himself to demonstrate to and for us 'a physical basis for life' in all its formsshould then infer, from such affirmed demonstration, that all mental facts are but forms of material development'molecular changes in protoplasm, or the matter of life'that man, in his material and mental structure, is constituted wholly of an organized mass of living protoplasm, which may have been developed out of the dead protoplasm of a dead sheep, "matter"'that 'as surely as every future grows out of the past and present, so will the physiology of the future extend the realm of matter and law, until it is co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action'that all inquiries pertaining to religion and immortality are as vain as 'lunar politics''that matter may be regarded as a property of thought,' and 'thought may be regarded as a property of matter'and finally, that 'it is certain that we have no knowledge of the nature of either matter or spirit.' When our scientist has carried us through all these labyrinths of contradictory statements, what is he in self-regard, and what is he in the regard of his school of thinkers? A great central light in the high realm of the 'New Philosophy.'
No honest thinker will deny the strict validity of the above statements of the exclusive methods in conformity to which all the systems presented are constructed. What, then, are the fundamental characteristics of all the principles, facts, and deductions which constitute the material and form of said systems? Those principles and facts are all undeniably given and furnished by arbitrary fiats of will. No other rational account can by any possibility be given of the fixed methods of development adopted and immutably adhered to in the construction of these systems, and consequently of the systems themselves. Mere assumptions are substituted for known principles of science and conscious facts; facts of innate, connatural, unavoidable, and irrepressible intuition are ignored, or compulsorily treated as creations of prejudice; and a part of real facts are adduced just as the exigencies of the system demand. What, then, are these systems but arbitrary creations of will and desire, instead of structures of systematized knowledge, whose principles, facts, and deductions are furnished and harmonized by the intelligence? We shall find, in our future examinations of actual systems of Philosophy, that will has, in fact, had far more influence and control in the construction of most systems than the intelligence has.
SECRET OF THE POWER OF SCEPTICISM.
Scepticism, as a mental state, is so opposite to the instinctive desires and conscious wants of universal mind, and as a form of belief is so contradictory to all the intuitive convictions of the race, that it would seem, at first thought, that such a system could never gain influence with any considerable portion of mankind, and especially with any class of world-thinkers. All mankind have a quenchless thirst for knowledge, and the profession of world-thinkers is to furnish food for thought, to put into the hand of the inquirer the lamp of truth, and to furnish the race with 'knowledge systematized.' Scepticism professedly takes from the race 'the key of knowledge' itself, affirming that truth is impenetrably veiled, not only from the unlearned and ignorant, but from the truly 'wise and prudent'even from those who 'seek for her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures.' Yet there are two mental statesgodless ignorance and learned pedantryover which this soulless, blind, and self-induced idiotic system, this Philosophy which is adapted but to the vision of 'Chaos and Old Night,' has omnipotent power. When an ignorant mind has, for any cause, acquired an inward prejudice and repellancy against the claims of morality and religion, there is no sentiment so genial to the mental state thus induced as Scepticismthe sentiment of universal doubtthe sentiment which assumes, at once, all moral and religious thought and inquiry to be fruitless and void. So when an individual in whom the organ of self-esteem and self-veneration is largely developed has made observations somewhat extensive in some one or two of the natural sciences, how genial to the sentiment of such a mind is the idea that he now fully comprehends, and is as fully able to expound, the problem of universal being and its laws! Nor is there any highway so straight and so direct to the consciousness of this lofty pre-eminence as that revealed by the dogma of Scepticism. Let an individual simply assume that all knowledge is 'exclusively phenomenal, and that the reality existing behind all appearance is, and ever must be, unknown,' and he has, by a single stroke, sundered 'the Gordian knot'universal being and its lawsand stands revealed to himself as the wisest of men, self-elevated far above the low realm in which grovelled such low thinkers as Thales, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Newton, Locke, and La Placeself-elevated to a place as a fixed star among all the world-renowned world-thinkers 'from Protagoras to Kant,' and from Kant to Huxley.
Nor is there any path so straight and direct to, at least, a temporary notoriety. If an individual desires to be known and talked about, he need not set fire to the 'Temple of the Great Goddess Diana,' or discover a new asteroid. Let him, on the other hand, magnify Physiology, and one or two other kindred sciences, and then denounce all moral and religious thought and inquiry as 'Lunar Politics,' affirming that 'matter and law have devoured spirit and spontaneity,' and with these God, duty, and immortality. Let him boldly affirm that, 'as surely as every future grows out of the past and present, so surely will the physiology of the future gradually extend the realm of matter and law until it is co-extensive with knowledge, with feeling, and with action.' Such a man will not fail to be talked about on both sides of the Atlantic. Most, if not all, will inwardly regard him as a kind of moral and intellectual monster, and will instinctively tremble at his terrible temerity. Yet they have an irresistible curiosity for monstrosities, and will go as far to see and hear such a man as they would to see another individual whose small skeleton is covered with five or six hundred pounds of fat.
But this sentiment has, at the present time, not a little influence even among thoughtful minds, both in America and Great Britain. The argument, as far as Theism and Christianity are concerned, is claimed, with much show of truth, to be with Messrs. Mill, Spencer, and their associates. Where lies the secret of the intellectual power of Scepticism at the present time? The deductions of the individuals above referred to are to a great extent ex concesis. They argue mainly from premises furnished them and admitted as valid by their opponents. It is admitted by leading theologians, and definitely taught in not a few of our leading institutions, that our world-knowledge has, in all fundamental respects, only a relative, and not a real validity; that our necessary and theistic ideas have in them the elements of self-contradiction, and, therefore, do not and cannot represent their objects as they are in themselves. Messrs. Mill and Spencer simply deduce from these conceded principles and facts the conclusions to which said principles and facts undeniably conduct us, and present their deductions to the world as truths of science. As far as their deductions are concerned, these men are undeniably right. If our world-knowledge has not a real, but only a relative validity, where is our basis for any positive deductions on any subject? If we do not and cannot know 'the things that are made,' or whether they are or are not created objects at all, what can we know about the ultimate cause of all things? If all our necessary and theistic ideas are, in fact, self-contradictory, we are bound, in logical consistency, to reject them as absurd. If all positive conceptions have these characteristics, we are bound to repudiate the whole of them as invalid or false. When we yield to the Sceptic, or Anti-Theist, these premises, we convict ourselves of logical dishonesty if we deny his deductions. Wherein lies the error of the Sceptic? It lies here: in putting forth these deductions, not as following from the principles and facts under consideration, but in imposing said deductions upon the world as truths of science. The relation of necessary connection between given principles and the conclusion deduced from them is no proof at all that that conclusion is a truth of science. Such proof depends upon the validity of the premises. The strength of Scepticism over thoughtful minds lies in the necessary connection between his deductions and his premises, premises admitted to be correct. The weakness of the system lies in the falseness of its premises. When assaulted here, Scepticism is the perfection of impotency. Here lies the fundamental error of the friends of truth, the conceding to unbelief all the grounds she asks to sustain her deductions.
THE SECRET OF THE POWER OF SYSTEMATIZED THOUGHT, AND THE ONLY PROPER METHOD OF EXAMINING SUCH SYSTEMS.
Almost any form of thought, when presented in a systematised form, a form in which all the deductions have a fixed logical connection with the premises laid down, and in which all the constituent elements appear as essential parts of a grandly harmonized whole, thought thus systematized, whatever its intrinsic character, is almost certain to have weight and power with multitudes of thinkers; while truth, of the greatest moment in itself, but presented in a confused and fragmentary form, is very likely to be rejected. Many reasons might be assigned for such a fact, reasons not altogether dishonourable to human nature. We naturally delight in systematized order, and in logical consecutiveness of thought. Most of our important forms of belief also are deductive rather than intuitive. Hence it is that when a deduction has a necessary connection with the premises presented, and especially when such deduction constitutes an essential part of a harmoniously systematized form of thought, we naturally accept it as a truth of science, and that without inquiry into the foundation on which said deduction is based. Here lies one of the main secrets of the power of false science in all its forms. It most commonly commends itself to the human mind as a harmoniously systematized whole, all the parts being logically connected together by bands of resistless strength. Any deduction having such connections almost forces belief. If refutation is attempted by an attack upon the deduction itself, or by an endeavour to break its logical connection with the premises on which it rests, we are almost sure of an inglorious defeat. The reason is that we attack error just where its power is often omnipotent. On the other hand, when we descend to a rigid examination of the essential character of the principles and facts on which the deductions of false science repose, we shall almost invariably find absolute refutation to be the easiest thing imaginable, and shall as readily render the advocates of error ashamed of their own logic.
We have here not only indicated the grand secret of the power of the deductions of false science, but have as clearly suggested the almost exclusive method of correct examination of such systems, and of refuting their seductive deductions. Systematized error should always be primarily examined with reference to the nature of its basis principles and essential facts. Here lies the secret, not of its strength, but of its weakness. Nothing can be more imbecile than error when thus assaulted. Nothing has greater strength than many of the most pernicious forms of error when assaulted, as they too commonly are, by direct attacks upon the character of its deductions, their connection especially with the assumed principles and facts on which said deductions are based. Systematized error almost always reposes upon mere assumptions instead of valid scientific principles, or a partial or false induction of facts, or upon both combined. In almost all instances there is a necessary connection between the final deductions and the principles and facts referred to.
When we contemplate the varied systems of Materialism and Idealism, as developed by the great thinkers of the present and past ages, what imposing superstructures rise up before us? What perfection of logic commends itself to our regard, as far as connection between assumed principles and facts, and proximate and remote deductions, are concerned? In such systems there is a scientifically determined place for every part, and every part is in its place. How can such systems be scientifically examined and refuted? By one method almost exclusively, that which we have adoptedto wit, a fundamental examination and exposure of their false basis principles and essential facts. In very many, and perhaps a majority of, instances refutation of these systems has been attempted in connection with a distinct admission of the validity of the assumptions on which, as principles and facts, the deductions of these systems are based, an attempt in which an inglorious defeat is inevitable. Others assault the deductions of these systems while they wholly ignore all examination of the assumed principles and facts from which these deductions are drawnassaults, of course, just as void of consequence as the former. If these systems are based upon valid principles, and a scientific induction of facts, we involve ourselves in the just charge of logical infidelity if we do not grant their entire deductions. A rigid examination of the assumed principles and facts on which these systems are founded, on the other hand, absolutely evinces that they are mere fictions of a crazy philosophy.
THE TRUE PHILOSOPHER AND PEDANT DISTINGUISHED.
Sir Isaac Newton remarked that the real difference between himself and the world around him appeared to him to be mainly of this character. All were standing together upon the shore of an ocean, as yet unfathomed and untraversed. He had gathered a larger number of bright and shining pebbles than the rest, while he was as ignorant as his associates of the chief mysteries of that unfathomed and untraversed ocean that lay out before them. Himself, as well as all around him, was yet but a child in knowledge. Here towers up before us the true philosopher. Such an individual has an omnipresent apprehension of his limited knowledge and liability to error. In the construction of systems of knowledge, he is very cautious and careful in laying down principles and in the induction of facts, and equally so in his deductions from said principles and facts. He never sets forth mere assumptions, opinions, or conjectures, as principles, facts, or deductions in science. If he puts forth any of these, he claims for them no positive authority whatever. On the other hand, he characterizes them as mere assumptions, opinions, or conjectures. When he has thoroughly explored any one sphere of thought and inquiry, he is very modest in the expression of opinions in respect to the great truths which lie hid in mines which he has not explored, and never sets up such opinions as truths of science. Hence the deductions of such men have permanent weight with mankind, while their mere opinions, though respected, are never cited as of sovereign authority. Such is the divine character and mission of the true philosopher.
What, then, is the pedant in science as distinguished from the true philosopher? The former having acquainted himself more or less perfectly with the problems of one or more of the sciences, the natural sciences particularly, at once apprehends himself as having attained to a full knowledge of universal being and its laws, particularly in respect to all problems pertaining to matter, spirit, time, space, God, duty, and immortality. His opinions on all these infinite themes are set forth as immutable truths of science. Has he not profoundly studied a dead man's brains? Can he not name every bone in the skeleton of the iguanadon, the magatherion, and the monkey by whom, as he imagines, man was begotten? Has he not looked through our largest telescopes and most powerful microscopes? Can he not tell us how many lenses there are in the eye of the common fly? Is he not consequently possessed of 'all wisdom and all knowledge'? Does he not know that the idea that creation was originated by an infinite and perfect mind is 'the carpenter theory'that 'it is possible that there is a mode of being as much transcending intelligence and will as these transcend mechanical motion;' that 'the religious sentiment in man must ever continue to occupy itself with a universal causal agent posited as not to be known at all;' that matter alone is real, and that all events, thought, feeling, and voluntary determination included are the results of material organization; that all known events are the results of the counter-agency of two unknown and unknowable entities existing and acting nowhere and in no time, space and time being only laws of thought; that 'the I myself I' alone is real; that the Infinite and Absolute is the exclusive existing substance and principle of all things; that being and thought are absolutely one and identical; that vice and crime are normal states of human nature;' that 'the inmates of our prisons and brothels are advancing toward eternal life;' that true science 'places our feet upon the first rung of a ladder which is the reverse of Jacob's, and leads to the antipodes of heaven,' that is, down to the abyss of annihilation; that matter is a form of thought, and that thoughts 'are the expression of molecular changes in the matter of life'in short, that the same thing can, in the same moment, exist and not exist? One great central form of knowledge such philosophers appear not to have acquiredthe undeniable fact that, in the sphere of scientific thought, they themselves are pedants.
When should the Deductions and Opinions of Philosophers have Weight will, us?
A very important question here arisesto wit, when should the deductions and opinions of philosophers have weight with us? Their deductions should have weight when, and only when, they are visibly deduced, as necessary consequences, not from assumptions, or partial, or false, inductions of facts, but from necessary principles, and a full and real induction of knowable and known facts. Here thinkers should be held to the strictest account. Their opinions should have weight when, and only when, they lie in the line of known truths, and are rendered undeniably probable by facts already ascertained.
When, on the other hand, a so-called philosopher requires our assent to dogmas based upon mere assumptions, or partial, or false, inductions of factswhen he sets forth mere opinions as truths of scienceand especially when he passes beyond his proper sphere of thought and inquiry, and on the basis of a reputation previously acquired, imposes his opinions upon the world as deductions of science, such thinkers deserve, and should receive, the reprobation of the universe. If an individual, for example, who has had great experience in respect to certain metals, first judging their weight from sight, and then correcting such judgments by the decision of the scales, should tell us that he believed that a given mass would weigh about so much, his opinion, though not infallible, should have great weight with us. Suppose, now, that a mass of matter is before us, a mass of a kind of which he has no knowledge whatever, and that he should, on the ground of his experience of known substances, obtrude upon us, as truths of science, his opinions about the weight of this object. If we should judge wisely, we should say that the period of his inane pedantry had arrived. So when individuals, on the ground of their attainments in the science of chemistry, physiology, or anatomy, and other kindred sciences, begin to dogmatize about the agency of God in nature, about great problems in the sphere of metaphysics, revelation, or theology, their opinions should have no more weight with us than those of mere children, or savages. If these men, in the true and proper sense of the word, were scientists, they would never dogmatize anywhere, especially in spheres of thought and inquiry which they have never traversed.
Idealists, Materialists, and Sceptics, all in common, in law, in politics, in history, in all experimental sciences, and, in fact, in all civil and social questions of general and everyday life, religion only excepted, act upon the exclusive postulate, that Realism, in all its principles and deductions, is absolutely true, and all opposite principles and deductions are utterly false. The Pure Idealist, for example, while he absolutely denies the existence of all things without the circle of pure thought, is just as anxious for his breakfast, is as indignant at fancied wrongs from non-real beings around, as prompt to appeal to non-real society for the protection of unreal rights, and as anxious about his reputation among men whom he holds not to exist at all, as any Realist in existence. All is practically real, and is treated as such, until we enter the single sphere of religious thought and activity. Why this solitary exception in the whole range of human thought and action? Religious thought and activity is as immutable a demand of our moral and spiritual nature, as is any other that can be designated. Why are the facts, principles, and deductions of Realism, all with this one single exception, regarded and treated as absolute verities? We leave this question for the thoughtful consideration of every prudent and reflective mind.
PLAN OF OUR FUTURE INQUIRIES.
We have now completed our preliminary discussions, all of which will hereafter be found necessary and conducive to our great purposean exposition, elucidation, and criticism, of the various systems of Philosophy which have hitherto occupied the attention of the thoughtful portion of our race. In the systems of Oriental Philosophy, we find the original types, as well as the sources, of all other systems which have since arisen, the sceptical and proper theistic forms excepted. We shall, therefore, first of all, examine these oriental systems in the order of their apparent originationto wit, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Chinese, the Persian, and the Egyptian systems. We shall then consider Philosophy, as developed in successive ages, by the Grecian mind. Having presented the varied forms of philosophic thought which prevailed during the early centuries of the Christian era, and through the Middle Ages, we shall devote special attention to what is properly denominated Modern Philosophy.
FOREWORD BY THE PRESENT EDITOR.
A Critical History of Philosophy. Asa Mahan 1883. Introduction.