Can Change the World Again.
A SYSTEM OF MENTAL PHILOSOPHY. 1882.
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D. LL.D.
Reason has already been defined, as the faculty of implied knowledge, the faculty which gives us necessary ideas,ideas necessarily implied by the facts perceived, and apprehended by the faculties of external and internal perception, sense, and consciousness. Through sense,perception, for example, we have a direct and immediate consciousness of body, as possessed of the qualities of extension and form. By reason, on occasion of such perceptions, we apprehend space, in which body does and must exist, the former being implied by the latter; that is, the existence of body being absolutely impossible, but upon the condition that space in which the former exists, and which it occupies, does exist. In the consciousness of external and internal facts, occurring as they do, one after the other, we obtain the idea of succession; and by reason, on occasion of such apprehension, we cognize time, or duration, as necessarily implied by succession. By sense and consciousness, also, we perceive phenomena. On occasion of such perceptions and as necessarily implied by the same, reason cognizes substance. By external and internal perception, too, we apprehend events. By reason, on occasion of such apprehensions, we cognize cause as necessarily implied by events. Of body and succession we are conscious as limited, and of space and duration, as unlimited. On occasion of the consciousness of such attributes in these objects, reason apprehends the correlative ideas of the finite, on the one hand, and of the infinite, on the other. On occasion of the consciousness of ourselves as the subjects of internal phenomena, reason apprehends the idea of personal identity, as necessarily implied by such conscious facts. On the perception of any fact external or internal, reason apprehends still another idea, that of existence, an idea represented by the verb to be, in its various forms. So also on the perception of various objects, reason apprehends the ideas of resemblance and difference, likeness and unlikeness, equality and inequality, unity and plurality, or number, etc.
SPHERE OF REASON.
Reason being exclusively the faculty of implied knowledge, its sphere is thus fixed, determined, and limited. Its action is always conditioned on the prior action of the other faculties, and the essential characteristics of all truths attained by reason, must be as are those of the facts and objects known as real, through these faculties. From the nature of the case, this must be so. Implied knowledge must, in its essential characteristics, be determined by that by which the former is implied. Space and time, for example, are known, and can be conceived of, but as the place of body and succession, and all our ideas of substances and causes existing and operating in time and space, must be as is our knowledge of the particular phenomena and effects attributed to said substances and causes. The exclusive sphere of reason, we repeat, is to apprehend the realities directly and immediately implied, and necessarily so, by the facts and objects known and affirmed as real by and through the other primary faculties.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY IDEAS OF REASON.
Reason, as we have shown, gives us apprehensions of realities implied as real by facts and objects affirmed as such by the other intellectual faculties. In connection with the action of the primary faculties, sense and consciousness, it apprehends such realities as space, time, the finite and the infinite, substance, personal identity, and cause. In connection with the action of the secondary faculties, to be elucidated hereafter, it apprehends other realities implied as such by objects given as real through these faculties. Those ideas of reason attained through the action of the primary faculties; as, the ideas of space, time, the finite and the infinite, substance, personal identity, and cause, we denominate the primary ideas of reason. Those on the other hand, attained through the action of the secondary faculties; such for example, as the ideas of God, duty, the true, the beautiful, the good, liberty, necessity, immortality, and retribution, we denominate the secondary ideas of reason. The former class of ideas enter, as elements, into all our conceptions of objects of every kind. The latter constitute the laws of thought and action in all their forms. The former have been already sufficiently elucidated in this and the preceding chapters; the latter will be elucidated in a separate chapter, after we shall have developed the nature and characteristics of the secondary faculties referred to.
VALIDITY OF KNOWLEDGE BY REASON.
Implied knowledge has the same validity and can have no more than the knowledge by which the former is implied has. Knowledge, through sense and consciousness, has, as we have seen, absolute validity for the reality and character of its objects. Knowledge by reason, therefore, has the same validity. Body, succession, phenomena external and internal, and events, have, not an ideal, but a real, and actually known existence, and are, in themselves, as apprehended by the intelligence. Space, time, substance, personal identity, and cause, are in themselves, and to the mind, actually known realities. Materialism, idealism, and skepticism,all of which rest wholly upon this one assumption announced by Kant, that we do not, and cannot know realities as they are in themselves; that the objects of all our ideas and conceptions are "not in themselves what we take them to be," are systems of "science falsely so called." Materialism impeaches the validity of our knowledge of mind. Idealism impeaches the validity of that of matter, and both systems that of all implied knowledge. Skepticism, in the language of the author just named, "gives out all things as mere appearance," denying the validity of knowledge in all its forms alike. We have seen, that our knowledge through all the primary faculties is valid for realities, as they are in themselves. In reasoning from facts to principles, from the finite to the infinite, from creation to a personal God, for example, we are not reasoning from the unknown to the still more profoundly unknown, but from the absolutely known to the necessarily implied. The student in mental science cannot be too deeply impressed with the fact, that right here lies the only real issue between theism and anti-theism. The latter affirms that, in our reasonings from assumed facts to final causes, we are, in truth, reasoning from the absolutely unknown to the still more profoundly unknown. The former affirms that, in thus reasoning, we are, in fact, advancing through the absolutely known to the necessarily implied. The deductions of each system have an immutably necessary connection with its principles, and must stand or fall with said principles. We either do, or do not, know the essential facts of nature, and do, or do not, know them as they are in themselves. If we do thus know these facts, then all schools in science admit and affirm that the doctrine of the being and perfections of a personal God is based upon eternal rock, the rock of truth. If on the other hand, as anti-theism affirms, we do not thus know these facts; if nature is to us absolutely unknown and unknowable,then it is infinite folly in us to inquire at all after ultimate causes in any form; that is, to attempt to deduce, from infinite ignorance, absolute knowledge.
FUNDAMENTAL MISTAKE IN REGARD TO THE SPHERE AND FUNCTIONS OF KNOWLEDGE A PRIORI.
Knowledge through reason, has been denominated by some philosophers, knowledge a priori, and many and very wild speculations have been indulged in, respecting the proper sphere and functions of such knowledge. Among these speculations, the two following deserve special attention.
ERROR OF THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHERS.
By direct insight of reason, or by knowledge a priori, the German philosophers, since the time of Kant, professedly determine the validity of knowledge by means of all the other intellectual faculties, and even by reason itself. On the assumed authority of such insight, they have pronounced all knowledge existing in the mind, even ideas of reason, utterly invalid.
"We have therefore intended to say," says Kant, in giving the results of his philosophy, "that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of phenomenonthat the things which we envisage (form conceptions and judgments of) are not that in themselves for which we take them; neither are their relationships in themselves so constituted as they appear to us; and that if we do away with our subject, or even only the subjective quality of the senses in general, every quality, all relationships of objects in space and time, nay, even space and time themselves would disappear, and cannot exist as phenomena in themselves, but only in us. It remains utterly unknown to us what may be the nature of the objects in themselves, separate from all the receptivity of our sensibility. We know nothing but our manner of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which need not belong to every being, although to every man.
"With this only we have to do." With this assumption, all the German philosophers since the time of Kant fully agree. Now it is utterly impossible to conceive of a greater absurdity, or of forms of more palpable self-contradiction, in the sphere of philosophy, than is involved in the above doctrine in respect to the proper functions of reason, or of knowledge a priori. What authority has implied knowledge to determine the validity of that by which it is implied? In other words, how can a faculty, whose exclusive province is to apprehend realities implied, and only known as implied by facts and objects affirmed as real by other distinct and separate faculties, determine the validity of the affirmations of said faculties? How can any faculty determine the validity of its own absolute affirmations? How, for example, can intuition determine the validity of knowledge by intuition, and how can vision itself determine the validity of knowledge by vision? Finally, how can we, through faculties known to deceive us utterly everywhere else, obtain valid knowledge of "our manner of perceiving objects?" The whole German philosophy has its exclusive basis in mere assumptions,assumptions involving the most palpable absurdities and contradictions of which we can possibly form a conception.
ERROR OF PRESIDENT HICKOK AND OTHERS.
President Hickok, together with a school of philosophy of which he is the most distinguished representative, claims for reason, or knowledge a priori, a still higher and more far-reaching insight. By such insight, first of all, he professedly determined, in harmony with the teachings of the transcendental philosophy of Germany, that our perceptive faculties, sense and consciousness, do not cognize facts and objects in the world of matter and spirit, as they are; that no objects exist in space, objects having real extension and form, such as are absolutely affirmed to exist by the universal consciousness; but that space, on the other hand, is occupied by mere forces utterly void of the attributes named above. On the authority of the same insight, he affirms that we can obtain, through nature, no valid proof of the being and perfections of God, but that the infinite is cognized as real by direct and immediate insight of reason. Thus, on the authority of knowledge a priori, correcting inspiration in the assertion, that "the invisible things of Him (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood," not by direct insight or reason, but "by the things that are made, even His eternal power and God head." In his rational cosmology, he professedly determines purely and exclusively by knowledge a priori, not only the nature of the forces existing and acting in the world around us, but the precise mode in which these forces were created and organized. In short, by direct insight of reason, or by knowledge a priori, he professedly gives not only the nature of space and time, but of all the substances, forces, and causes,finite and infinite, existing and acting in time and space.
Now the merest tyro in philosophy ought to know, that reason, or knowledge a priori, has, and can have, no such insight, sphere, or authority as is here assigned to it. Independent of, and prior to the action of the perceptive faculties, it has, in reality, no insight at all; and when it does act, it can do no more nor less than give the realities implied as such by facts and objects affirmed as real by these faculties. Within this sphere, and nowhere else, has it authority, and here its authority is absolute, just as is the authority of each of the perceptive faculties within its proper sphere, and in respect to its appropriate objects. In respect to the question, what substances or causes do exist, reason has no direct and immediate insight at all. Let us contemplate this subject in still another point of light. Of two or more distinct and opposite hypotheses each of which is, with each and every other, equally conceivable, and as a consequence, equally possible, we cannot determine a priori which is, and which is not, true. This is undeniable. Of two events, for example, each of which is in itself as possible, and as likely to happen, as the other, we cannot determine a priori which will happen. Now when we contemplate time and space by themselves, three distinct and separate hypotheses present themselves in respect to what events and substances finite and infinite, do occur and exist in time and space, to wit:
1. No events do occur in time, and no substances do exist in space.
2. Events do occur and substances do exist in time and space; but neither are to us objects of valid knowledge.
3. Events do occur in time, and substances do exist in space, and both are to the mind objects of valid knowledge. How can we determine a priori which of these hypotheses is, and which is not, true? How can reason, the faculty of implied knowledge, and that only, look into empty time and space, and, by direct and immediate and independent insight, determine whether any, and if so, what events do occur in time, and what substances, forces, and causes finite and infinite, do exist and act in space. No hypotheses can be more self-evidently absurd and false, than is the idea, that reason has such insight, or that knowledge a priori has any such authority as is ascribed to it by this author and his school in philosophy.