Can Change the World Again.
A SYSTEM OF MENTAL PHILOSOPHY. 1882.
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D. LL.D.
Sense, or the faculty of External Perception, has been defined, as that faculty, or function, of the intelligence, by which we apprehend the phenomena, or qualities of external, material substances.
TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM SENSATION.
The exercise of this faculty should be carefully distinguished from those states of the Sensibility which always accompany it, but which are, notwithstanding, none the less, for that reason, distinct from it, to wit, sensations. Sensation is the state of the sensibility which immediately succeeds any impression made by any cause, upon our physical organization. Sensation is exclusively a state of the sensibility. Sense is no less exclusively a function of the intelligence. Of these distinctions we should never lose sight, when reasoning upon this department of mental science.
SPONTANEOUS AND VOLUNTARY DETERMINATION OF SENSE.
Sense, like consciousness, is, in its primitive developments, a simple spontaneity of the intelligence. Its action, in this state, is, in no sense, conditioned on the will. Perception, in its distinct forms, is conditioned on attention, which is nothing but the perceptive faculty, directed by the will; and hence, for the want of a better term or phrase, called voluntary determination of the faculty. Attention, in the direction of consciousness,that is, when directed to mental phenomena, is called reflection. When in the direction of the faculty of external perception,that is, towards the phenomena of material substances,it is called observation.
The necessity of observation, that is, of attention, in the voluntary direction of the perceptive faculty towards phenomena obscurely given in the spontaneous developments of that faculty, may be readily illustrated. A portion of a congregation, for example, who have been listening to a certain speaker, have fallen into a state of slumber. The speaker suddenly stops, and immediately all are aroused. Now, if the audience had not, in some form, heard the voice which broke upon their ears, why were they aroused? Yet, if inquired of in respect to what had been spoken to them, they would, for the obvious and exclusive reason that they had not attended to it, be wholly unable to answer. How often do we hear the remark, I gained no distinct conception of that part of a discourse. My attention happened, at the time, to be directed to something else.
The attention may, in some instances, be so fixed upon some object in one direction, that the sensibility and intelligence both may be almost, if not quite, totally isolated from what would otherwise deeply affect us in another direction. A gentleman, for example, who was employed about the machinery in a factory, had one of his fingers entirely cut off, by the sudden and unexpected starting of a portion of that machinery which carried, with great velocity, a circular saw. So intensely did his attention instantly become occupied with the prevention of the destruction of the whole machinery, that he was not aware of the injury done to his own person, nor was he sensible of the least pain from it, till the accident was pointed out to him by another who stood by. As soon, however, as the injury was discovered, the pain from it became intense.
The basis of attention is the spontaneous action of the sensibility and intelligence,action which always occurs, when the proper conditions are fulfilled, and when the mind is not isolated from objects in other directions, by its intense action upon some object (as in the case above cited), in some specific direction.
ORGANS OF SENSE, AND THE KNOWLEDGE CONVEYED BY EACH.
In regard to the particular organs of sense, of which five are commonly reckoned, to wit, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch,organs through which a knowledge, of the particular qualities of material substances is conveyed to the mind, but little need be said. One remark, however, may be deemed of some importance. It is this: each organ pertains exclusively to the particular quality or qualities which are the objects of that particular organ. The peculiar qualities given by sight, for example, are given by no other sense. The relation of objects, such as distance, which is a mere relation, and not a quality at all, we learn, by experience, to determine by various senses, as sight, touch, hearing, and smelling even in some instances. But the existence and qualities of such objects are given, as causes and objects of particular sensations and perceptions in us, by each of the senses alike; each sense, or each organ of the general faculty giving the quality, or qualities, which are the objects of that particular organ.
OBJECTS OF PERCEPTION.
The objects of perception (external perception) are the qualities of material substances. The qualities perceived are resistance, extension, form, color, taste, smell, sound, etc. Such qualities are to us the index, and the only index we have, of their respective subjects. In the consciousness of thought, feeling, and mental determinations, we know ourselves as thinking, feeling, and acting beings. So in the experience of sensations and perceptions produced in us by external material substances, we know them as the powers which produce these perceptions and sensations; in other words, we know them as substances possessed of the qualities of resistance, extension, form, color, etc.
THE PROVINCE OF PHILOSOPHY.
Philosophy, it should be borne in mind, has to do with facts as they are, with the nature of the powers revealed in those facts, and with the laws in conformity to which those powers, act. With the mode of their action further than this, it has nothing to do. In the fall of heavy bodies to the earth, for example, we learn that attraction is a property of all material substances. We then set ourselves to determine the law which controls the action of this property. Here we are within the legitimate domain of philosophy. But suppose we attempt to explain the mode in which the attractive power acts. "Such knowledge is to wonderful for us. It is high, we cannot attain unto it." Philosophy, well satisfied with her own legitimate and wide domain, resigns such things to the Eternal One, who created all the powers of the universe, and consequently understands the mode of their action. All that philosophy can say in regard to the mode of action of any power is, that such is its nature.
COMPARATIVE VALIDITY OF THE AFFIRMATIONS OF SENSE AND CONSCIOUSNESS.
We are now prepared to contemplate the comparative validity of the affirmations of these two functions of the intelligence, sense and consciousness. I will suppose that I have a perception of some external object, as possessed of the qualities of extension, form, and color. In consciousness I recognize the existence of this perception as a phenomenon of my own mind. Which of these affirmations are, in reality, the most valid, and which would a wise and sound philosophy impel me to esteem and treat as such;the affirmation of sense, in respect to the qualities of the external object, or of consciousness, in regard to the existence and character of the affirmation of the former faculty, as a phenomenon of the mind itself? Neither, surely. Each faculty pertains alike to its object, by direct and immediate intuition. The affirmation of each is alike positive and absolute in respect to its object. The action of one is, in reality, no more a mystery than that of the other. The quo modo of the action of each is alike inexplicable, and no more inexplicable than the mode of action of every other power in existence. It is a sage remark of Dr. Brown, when speaking of the mode in which causes produce their respective effects, "that everything is mysterious, or nothing is." When philosophy leads us to doubt the real affirmations of any faculty of the intelligence, then philosophy itself becomes impossible, and the attempt to realize it, the perfection of absurdity.
THEORY OF EXTERNAL PERCEPTION.
The way is now prepared for an enunciation of the theory of external perception, taught in this treatise. Knowledge implies two things; an object to be known, and a subject capable of knowing. Between the nature of the subject and object there must be such a mutual correlation, that, when certain conditions are fulfilled, knowledge arises, as a necessary result of this correlation. Between matter and mind this correlation exists. The latter knows the former, because the one is a faculty, and the other an object of knowledge. Mind perceives the qualities of matter, because the former has the power of perception, and the latter is an object of perception.
Mind also exists in a tri-unity, consisting, as we have seen, of the intelligence, sensibility, and will. To each of these departments of our nature, the external world is correlated. Certain conditions being fulfilled, particular qualities of material substances become to the intelligence, direct objects of knowledge. Other conditions being fulfilled, they affect our sensibility; producing in us certain sensations either pleasurable, painful, or indifferent. Our will then acts upon these substances, controlling their movements, and modifying their states; while they, in turn, react upon the will, modifying and limiting its control. In the first instance, knowledge is direct and immediate. In the second, through a consciousness of sensation, we learn the correlation between those objects and our sensibility. In the last, through a consciousness of the exercise of our will, and an experience of the results, we learn the correlation between these substances and our voluntary powers. In all instances, however, whether our knowledge is direct or indirect, it is alike real and absolute. In respect to the manner in which, when certain conditions are fulfilled, we know these objects, the only answer that philosophy gives or demands, is this: Such is the correlation between the nature of the knowing faculty and that of the objects of knowledge.
It is a sufficient verification of the theory above announced, that it is a statement of the case, as it presents itself to the universal intelligence,that it is encumbered with no difficulties which are not involved in every theory of a different kind which has hitherto been presented, and is entirely free from those difficulties which are perfectly fatal to those theories. Every individual believes, that he knows the external world as correlated to the three departments of our nature under consideration, and in accordance with the principles above stated. Every theory also must rest, in the last analysis, in respect to the mode of knowledge, upon this one principle; The mind knows, because it is a faculty of knowledge. The difficulties which all theories, contradictory to that above announced, involve, are these: either they do not present the facts or conditions of knowledge, or the manner of knowing, as they are given in and by the universal intelligence.
QUALITIES OF MATTER.
We next direct special attention to consideration of the qualities of matter. According to Sir William Hamilton, and in his classification we fully concur, such qualities may, and according to a strictly scientific arrangement, should, be classed as, primary proper, secundo-primary, and secondary.
The first, the primary proper, includes all those properties which belong to matter as such, and which cannot, even in thought, be separated from it, as matter. The necessary constituent elements of our idea of matter, as such, are two,that it occupies space, and is contained in space; that is, has real extension, solidity and form. Hence, in the language of the author referred to, "we have eight proximate attributes:
4th. Density or Rarity,
5th. Figure (or form),
These qualities distinguish no one kind of material substance from any other, but matter itself from every other substance; and cannot, even in thought, be separated from it, as matter.
The secundo primary qualities are those which pertain, not to matter, as such, but which distinguish different classes of material substances from one another, and which pertain, as essential qualities, to such classes. Thus bodies in the language of the author quoted from are classed, in reference to their "gravity and cohesion; also as heavy and light, as hard and soft,solid and fluid,viscid and friable,tough and brittle,rigid and flexible,fissile and infissile,ductile and inductile, elastic and inelastic,rough and smooth,slippery and tenacious- compressible and incompressible,resilient and irresilient,movable and immovable."
The secondary qualities are, properly speaking, Subjective affections in ourselves, and not properties of matter at all. They pertain to matter merely as causes, unperceived in themselves, of these affections or sensations. Such for example, are the qualities represented by the terms: sound, flavor, savor, and actual sensation, heat, cold, etc.
REPRESENTATIVE AND PRESENTATIVE KNOWLEDGE.
Every one is accustomed to distinguish between that kind of knowledge which is direct and immediate, and that which is obtained mediately; that is, through something differing numerically from the object of knowledge. The former kind, Sir William Hamilton denominates presentative, and the latter, representative knowledge. The general faculty of presentative knowledge, he designated by the term consciousness. Whenever we have a direct and immediate perception of an object, we are, he affirms, conscious of that object. This general faculty has, he further teaches, two distinct and separate functionsthose of external and internal perception; that is, sense, and self-consciousness. In our judgment, we repeat what I have before said; it would be well for science, that these terms, to wit, consciousness, sense, or "the faculty of eternal perception or perception simply," and self-consciousness, were generally employed in strict accordance with the definitions of this author. The term consciousness we shall employ as he does; that is, when we wish to affirm that we have a direct and immediate knowledge, perception, of an object, we shall affirm, that we are conscious, or are directly and immediately conscious of that object.
RELATIONS OF THE INTELLIGENCE TO THE QUALITIES OF MATTER.
We are now prepared for a distinct statement of the actual relations of the universal intelligence to the qualities of matter. They are these: Of the primary qualities throughout, and of the secundo-primary in part, to say the least, our knowledge is direct and immediate, that is, presentative. We are, for example, in external perception, just as directly, immediately, and absolutely conscious of matter as an external object actually possessed of the qualities of extension and form, as we are, in internal perception, of ourselves, as exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and willing. It would be no more an impeachment of the absolute testimony of universal consciousness to deny one of the above propositions, than it would be to deny the other. Our knowledge of the secondary qualities of this substance, on the other hand, is wholly representative; that is, indirect and mediate, being obtained wholly through the consciousness of our varied sensations. The secondary qualities are given in the universal consciousness, as the unknown causes of conscious states of the sensibility, sensations. The primary, and secundo-primary, on the other hand, are as universally given in consciousness, as the known objects of conscious states of the intelligence. Here is found the fundamental distinction in the relations of the universal intelligence to the different qualities of matter.
FUNDAMENTAL ERROR IN PHILOSOPHY.
By many philosophers, the dogma is maintained, that all our knowledge of matter is exclusively representative, being indirectly and mediately derived, through sensation. We might, with the same truth and propriety, affirm that we have no knowledge of this substance, through this medium, as to affirm that all our knowledge of it is thus derived. We should no more deny conscious facts, to affirm that all our knowledge of matter is presentative, than we should to affirm, as the sensational theory does, that all our knowledge of it is representative. We are, as we have said, directly and immediately conscious of matter, as far as its primary qualities are concerned, as the known object of known acts of the intelligence, sense, perception; and unless universal consciousness is "a liar from the beginning," presentative is the only form of knowledge of which these qualities are the objects. We are conscious of the secondary qualities, on the other hand, but in this one form exclusively, as the unknown causes of conscious states of the sensibility, sensations; and this is the only sense and form in which our knowledge of matter is received through this one medium. The sensational theory has no other foundation than a partial induction of the facts of consciousness, being compatible with one part, and absolutely incompatible with the other:
HAS MATTER A REAL OR ONLY AN IDEAL EXISTENCE?
Till quite recently, a fundamental difficulty has attended the discussion of this question; the almost universally admitted assumption, that all our knowledge of this substance is exclusively representative, being derived wholly through the medium of sensation. While that assumption remained as an admitted principle in the science of mind, it was absolutely impossible to vindicate for matter anything more than an ideal existence; that of an unknown, and unknowable cause of a given mental state, sensation. As the existence of this state could be accounted for equally well, on various and opposite hypotheses, no positive evidence of an external, material cause could, by any possibility, be adduced. Now, however, the sensational theory has been demonstrably exploded, within the sphere of science. It has been demonstrably established, that all our knowledge of this substance is not through the medium of sensation; that all our knowledge of its primary qualities, to say the least, is, not mediate or representative, but direct and immediate, or presentative. "In our perception consciousness" says Sir William Hamilton, "there is revealed as an ultimate fact, a self and a not-selfeach 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 illusiveself and not-self, subject and object, 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." Matter, then, as a substance external to the mind, and possessed of the properties of resistance, extension, and form, has real being.
THE DOCTRINE OF MATTER AS A FORCE VOID OF THE PRIMARY QUALITIES, SUCH AS SOLIDITY, EXTENSION AND FORM.
The doctrine is how being pressed with great zeal into the sphere of science, that matter is, not an extended substance having resistance and form, but an indefinable and inconceivable something, denominated a force. This has become the watchword of a new school in philosophy, to wit: Matter has real existence, not however, as a material substance having real resistance, extension, and form, but as an immaterial something, acting in space as a force. Let us contemplate this new doctrine for a few moments.
Those who agree with us have no controversy with this school in regard to the question, whether matter is, in its nature, a real force. This is the common doctrine of all schools who believe in an external world. What we contend for is this; that the idea of matter as a force, is just as compatible with the doctrine, that it has the properties of real resistance, extension, and form, as with the dogma, that it has no such properties. We further contend, that the advocates of the new doctrine have never yet developed a solitary fact pertaining to the nature of the forces operating in the universe around us, that proves, or renders it, in the remotest degree, probable that matter does not, in fact, possess the qualities under consideration, together with all primary, and secundo-primary qualities which have been attributed to it. We contend still further, that from an appeal to the nature of the case, it cannot be shown, that the remotest antecedent probability exists in favor of this new doctrine, and against that which we maintain. In itself, it is just as conceivable, just as possible, and just as probable, that the forces existing and operating, in space, and occupying space, have, for example the qualities of real resistance, extension, and form, as that they have no such qualities. We finally adduce against this new doctrine, and in favor of the one which we maintain, the absolute affirmations of the universal consciousness. Either that consciousness is a lie, or we have absolute knowledge of the forms existing and operating in, and occupying space, as possessed of the qualities under consideration. The whole subject before us stands thus:
1. This new doctrine is not self-evidently true. This, no one will deny.
2. It cannot, by any possibility, be proved to be true. This is equally undeniable.
3. Not a solitary real fact can be adduced which renders its truth, in the remotest degree, probable.
4. It has not a single element of antecedent probability in its favor.
5. This new doctrine is confronted, and the opposite doctrine affirmed as true, by the direct, immediate, and absolute affirmations of the universal consciousness. Either knowledge is not knowledge, that is, it is not it, or this new doctrine is false, and the one we maintain is true; the former having no other foundation than mere assumptions based upon infinite ignorance, while the latter is based upon the immovable rock of truth, absolute knowledge. We may safely challenge the advocates of the new doctrine to present a solitary real fact, or a valid argument, in any form, that invalidates or weakens the force of any of the propositions above presented.
IS COLOR A PRIMARY, OR A SECONDARY QUALITY OF MATTER?
In all schools of philosophy, known to us, color is assumed to be merely a secondary quality of matter. Into this error Sir William Hamilton has fallen, although he has himself given, with perfect correctness, the distinguishing characteristic which separates the primary from the secondary quality, and, in express words, and with equal correctness, has given this identical characteristic to this one quality, color. The primary quality, he tells us, cannot, even in thought, be separated from matter, but necessarily pertains to it as such a substance. He then gives forth the following statement in regard to the quality under consideration,a statement the validity of which will not be questioned: "As Aristotle has observed, we cannot imagine body without all color, though we can imagine it without any one." Color, then, is a primary quality of matter, or this substance has no such qualities at all. The particular colors by which different objects are distinguished from one another, constitute the secundo-primary qualities of matter. For a more full and complete discussion of the true doctrine of sense, or external perception, we would refer to the chapter on this subject in the larger work, the Intellectual Philosophy.