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ing and power, and hence cause is the union of the two.
The being has the power, and the power inheres in the be-
ing. In reply to this objection, we admit the separation of
the ideas in thought, but deny that they can be separated in
reality. The attempt to separate them in fact leads to in-
oluble contradictions, and this shows that the distinction is


a logical one. "We have, then, to discuss the metaphysical
meaning of inherence.

To the question, In what Rf^lfifi floffj n, thing havp; or pnn
sess-powdP-f'the common answer is, that the power inheres
in the thing. But this merely shifts the problem, for the
meaning of this inherence is not clear. Uncritical thought
contents itself with a few sense-images, and does not pursue
the problem further. Spokes in a wheel, or pegs in a beam,
or pins in a cushion, serve to illustrate to careless thinking
the nature of inherence. Matter, which to the dragon's de-
scendants is ever the type of being, is not in itself forceful,
but forces inhere in it. Thereby unattei 1 beUOwetKactrje,
nmjLforon gninr. nn ffVjpnt or fulcrum, etc* These forces do
they found all^fijTang^qiialHyy, q f nfl

ence ; but the matter is supposed to provide them a resting-
place. This is the current conception, and, in some of its
forms, it rules most of our scientific speculations.

In this view there is a division of labor in reality. There

is one part which simply exists and furnishes the being. It

does nothing but be. The activities are next supplied by

_fojy.ft or pnwfir, which finds in the being a seat, home, ful-

crum, etc. We have, then, a certain core of rigid reality,

Vwhich exists unchanged through the changes of the thing,

\and supplies the necessary stiffening ; and around this we

nave a varying atmosphere of activities, which are said to

e due to force. But it is plain that we have fallen back
again into the abandoned notion of pure being. The being
does not account for the power. It is a pure negation, and
is utterly worthless. The power and the being are in no re-
lation except that of mutual contradiction. The only pos-
sible reason which even thoughtlessness can urge for positing
such being would be, that power must have some support ;
but it is plain that this passive negation could not support
anything. The force, or power, in such a case would be


self-supporting, and thus we should come to the doctrine
often held, thafr reality is nothing but force./ The existence
of force would never warranTlhe-affirmation of the force-
less, and the forceless could never be viewed as the origin
of force\ These difficulties serve to show that the distinc-
tion between being and force, or power, is only logical.

The truth is, that in this separation between a thing and
its power, we are the dupes of language. In order to speak
of anything, we must adopt the form of the judgment, and
put the thing as the subject and the attribute as the predi-
cate. In this way language makes an unreal distinction be-
tween the thing and its attributes, and unreflecting common-
sense mistakes the logical distinction for a real one. Indeed,
language often makes a distinction between a thing and it-
self. Thus man is often said to have a mind or a soul.
Here man appears as the possessor of himself ; and it is not
until we ask who this possessor is, and how he possesses the
soul, that we become aware that language is playing a trick
with us, and that man does not have, but is, a soul. Things
as existing do not have the distinction of substance and at-
tribute which they have in our thought. They do not con-
sist of subjects to which predicates are externally attached,
as if the} 7 might exist apart from the predicates, but they
exist only in the predicates. Thus we say that a triangle
has sides and angles ; but though we thus posit the triangle
as having the sides, etc., a moment's reflection convinces us
that the triangle exists only in its specific attributes. If we
should allow that the triangle could be separated, in reality,
from its attributes, we should fall into absurdity. "We could
not tell how the triangle exists apart from attributes, nor
how the attributes are joined to it. Now the distinction
]K;)tween a thing and its power is of this sort. It is perfectly
valid in thought, but we cannot allow it to represent a real
distinction in the thing without falling back into the notion


of pure being and its attendant difficulties. We come, then,
to the conclusion that being and power are inseparable in
fact, and that they are simply the two factors into which the
indivisible reality falls for our thought. The causal reality
cannot be viewed as containing in itself any distinction of
substance and attribute, or of being and power. It must be
affirmed as a causal unit, and, as such, uncompounded and

In further justification of this view, we next point out
that the notion of power is, in every case, a pure abswfc-
tion, and, as such, is incapable of inherence. What sponta-
neous thought means by this expression is no doubt true,
but the meaning is incorrectly expressed. We speak of the
soul, or of the physical elements, as having various powers,
and thus the thought arises that these powers are true enti-
ties in the thing, which underlie all activity. Accordingly,
it is not the elements which attract, but the force of attrac-
tion. It is not the atoms which act in chemical combina-
tion, but affinity does the work. If a heated or an electric
body produces sundry effects, the body itself is not the
agent, but heat or electricity is called in. Thus the atom
appears as a bundle of forces, each of which is independent
of all the rest, but all of which, in some strange way, make
the atom their home.

Now this will never do. These separate forces are
only abstractions from different classes of atomic action.
If there be any atom, the actor in each case is the atom
itself, but the atom is such that its activity is not lim-
ited to a single direction, but falls into several classes.
This fact we seek to express by the notion of separate in-
herent forces, but these are never more than descriptions of
the fact mentioned. When we say that an element has a
power of gravity, affinity, etc., we say nothing more than
that the element can act in these several ways. The powers


are not separate instruments which the thing employs, but
only abstractions from the thing's action. Every act of
the atom, in whatever form, is to be attributed_to the atom
itself, and not tojorces injt: and every act of the atom is
an act of the entire atom. Any other conception leads to
contradiction. And so we come to the conclusion that power
in general is not a thing or an instrument, but only an ab-
straction from the activity of some agent. Hence the ques-
tion, How can power inhere in being? disappears, because
the phrase, inherent power, represents no reality, but only an
abstraction. The reality is always an agent. How an agent
can be made, we do not claim to know ; but it is plain that
it is not made by joining the two abstractions of power and
pure being. How an agent can act is also unknown ; but it
is plain that we get no insight into the possibility by posit-
ing a rigid core of inert reality in the agent.

Inherence, then, has no metaphysical meaning. The fact
is an agent, one and indivisible, and this agent is active
through and through. But, to explain the agency, we are
not content with the agent itself, but form the abstraction
of power, and smuggle it into the thing. When the forms
of agency are many, we form a corresponding number of
these abstractions, and give each a separate existence in the
thing. Then it becomes a tremendous puzzle to know how
these powers inhere in the thing, or how the thing can use
them without an additional power of using them. The puz-
zle is solved by the insight that these inherent powers or
forces are only abstractions from the activity of the one in-
divisible agent. The only case in which power is not such
an abstraction is where it is used as identical with being,
as when we speak of the malign, or heavenly, or invisible
Bowers. Such a use of power, instead of being, has the
advantage of escaping the lumpish implications of the latter
word ; and it might be of use in freeing ourselves from the


bondage of sense-experience to think always of a real thing
as a power. In this sense of the word, we should say that
all the realities of the universe are powers, and that the
phenomenal universe is but the manifestation of hidden

"When we form the conception of a possible object, in
order to realize it, we have to use the material furnished by
the outer world. Then we say the thought is set in reality,
or is given existence. In this way, as well as by the fallacy
of pure being, we are led to think of a back -lying raw
material which is simply real, and which serves as stuff for
making things. A great many misread analogies of sense-
experience lend themselves to this confusion. Thus finally
we reach the notion that things exist by virtue of possess-
ing a bit of this reality. This is just the reverse of the fact.
Things do not exist by having a kernel or core of real stuff
in them, but they acquire a claim to be considered real
through the activity whereby they affirm themselves as
determining factors of the system. Their existence is man-
ifested and realized only through their activity. Being and
action are inseparable ; the inactive isJhe^atp- ftY i g ^nl

[ereupon some logical scruples emerge. Thus, it may
be asked, must not being exist before action ? Certainly, a
thing must exist in order to act, but, on this theory, it
must act in order to exist, which is absurd. This difficulty
rests upon a confusion of logical with temporal antecedence.
The postulate of action is an agent, but this agent is not
temporally antecedent to the action. Action is a dynamic
consequence of being, and is coexistent with it. Neither
can be thought without the other, and neither was before
the other. Being did not first exist, and then act ; neither
did it act before it existed ; but both being and action are
given in indissoluble unity. Being has its existence only in
its action, and the action is possible only through the being.


The common doctrine of inherence makes a kind of spatial
distinction between a thing and its activities ; the objection
we are considering seeks to make a corresponding temporal
distinction. Both views are alike untenable. Metaphysi-
cally considered, being is self-centred activity, without dis-
tinction of parts or dates. In our thinking, we separate the
agent from the agency, but, in reality, both are posited to-
gether; indeed, each is but the implication of the other.
We would not accept the scholastic doctrine, that being is
pure activity ; for the act cannot be conceived without the
agent. But we deny that the agent can, in reality, be sep-
arated from agency ; each exists, and is possible, only in
the other.

Another scruple is as follows. The idea of being admits
of no comparison. The mightiest exists no more than the
feeblest. Nothing can be more real than any other thing ;
and, in so far as things are real, they are all on the same
plane. But if to be is to act, it follows that the most active
has the most being. This objection rests on confounding
the logical notion with real existence. Whatever falls into
a class does so by virtue of possessing a certain mark, but
this mark may itself vary in intensity, so that, while all the
members are alike in the class, they may yet fulfil the con-
ditions of membership more or less perfectly. Whatever
meets certain conditions falls under the notion of being ;
and, in this sense, one thing exists as much as another.
But this does not hinder that these conditions should be
fulfilled more or less extensively and intensively ; and, in
this sense, one thing may have more being than another.
Whatever moves at all, moves ; and yet it is allowable to
say that one thing has more motion than another. What-
ever acts, acts ; and yet some things act more intensively
and extensively than others, and, in this sense, they have
more being than others. Indeed, the only measure of being


is the extent and intensity of its action. Being is not meas-
ured by yards or bushels, but solely by its activity. All
that we mean by saying that the being of God is infinite, is
that his activity is unlimited, both in intensity and range.
With this understanding, the notion of the ens realissimum,
which many philosophers, notably Herbart, have found so
obnoxious, is both admissible and demanded.

In dealing with detailed objections there is always danger
of losing sight of the main points. To escape this, we vent-
ure to repeat the argument of the chapter as follows : The
notion of being is, in itself, purely formal, and its contents
need to be determined. The notion of pure being is reject-
ed, (1) as being only a logical concept, and, as such, incapa-
ble of real existence ; and, (2) as inadequate to the functions
it has to perform. There is no progress from it to definite
being, and there is no regress from definite being to it.
The notion of passive or inactive being is also rejected as a
whim of the imagination, which founds nothing, and falls
back into the notion of pure being. Hence ; all reajitffjnust
be^oausal. But, in the popular thought, reality itself is
divided into two factors, being and power. This distinction
is only a logical one, and cannot be admitted in reality,
without falling back into the doctrine of pure being. Again,
in the popular thought, a thing exists by virtue of a certain
core of reality which is in it, and which supports the activi-
ties and attributes of the thing. We reject this core as
a product of sense-bondage, and as accounting for nothing,
if allowed. We reverse this popular view by rejecting the
notion of a stuff which simply exists, and furnishes things
with the necessary reality. For us, things do not exist be-
cause of a certain quantity of this reality which is in them,
but by virtue of their activity, whereby they appear as
agents in the system. How this can be is a question which


involves the mystery of creation or the mystery of absolute
being; but creation is not the work of the philosopher.
The question we have to answer is, What things shall we
regard as existing ? And the answer is, Those things exist
which act, and not those which have a lump of being in
them ; for there is no fact corresponding to the latter phrase.
Things do not have being, but are; and from them the
notion of being is formed. These agents, again, have in
them no antithesis of passive^being
are active througff and through. Sense-associations and our
own feelings of weariness render it difficult to conceive of
active being without a central core of inert solidity on which
the productive activity may rest. But we may free our-
selves from this result of habit by persistently asking, (1)
what reason there is for positing such a core, and, (2) what
it could do, if posited.

This view cannot be pictured ; it must be thought. Hence
it will not commend itself to minds which think only in
sense-images. Such minds will find some relief by ponder-
ing on the distinction between phenomenal and ontological
reality, to which we have referred, and which science, as
well as philosophy, increasingly emphasizes. The moment
we grasp this distinction the view proposed becomes almost
self-evident, for the moment we go behind phenomena we
find ourselves in the presence of unwearying energy and
ceaseless activity. The confusion of the phenomenal and
the ontological realms leads to corresponding confusion in
our notion of being and our doctrine of predication.

We make no attempt here to draw the line between the
phenomenal and the ontological. We only fix the mark by
which the line must be drawn. Yery possibly inquiry
would compel us to view many so-called real things as
phenomena; at present we make no decision. Possibly,
also, we may have to transform the notion of causality, and


thus of reality, before we get through. But everything
cannot be said at once. As the outcome of the whole dis-
cussion, we conclude that every substantive thing, in dis-
tinction from both compounds and phenomena, must be
viewed as a definite causal agent.

The net result is not great, but it is something; at all
events, we are clear of the lumpish notions of being which
infest sense-thinking, and which are so apt to give crude
thought a mechanical and materialistic turn. Phenomenal
reality is revealed in the contents of sense - intuition ; but
ontological reality can be grasped only in the unpicturable
notions of the understanding. Its nature is a problem for
thought, not for sense. "We must rise from the world of
lumps into the world of energy.


IN the previous chapter we have sought to show that
being does not exist, but that certain specific things, or
agents, are the only realities. Being is only a class-notion,
under which things fall, not because of a piece of existence
in themselves, but by virtue of their activity. The conclu-
sion reached was, that the universal nature of being is to act.
But this conclusion determines the nature of things as dis-
tinguished from non-existence only, and not as distinguished
from one another, or as capable of their peculiar manifesta-
tions. The present chapter is devoted to a discussion of
nature in the latter sense.

This which we call the nature of things has been vari-
ously denominated as the essence, the what, or the what-
ness of things ; and all of these terms refer not to the exter-
nal properties of things, but to some inner principle, whereby
things are what they are. But, whatever the term, the idea
is entirely familiar to our spontaneous thinking. We be-
lieve that everything is what it is because of its nature,
a^jfl that things differ because they have different natures.
There is one nature of matter and another of spirit. There
is one nature of hydrogen and another of chlorine. But we
are not content with simply affirming the existence of such
a nature ; we also seek to know what it is. The nature of
a thing expresses the thing's real essence; and we hold
that we have no true knowledge of the thing until we


grasp its nature. What is the thing? and what is its
nature? are identical questions. The doubt of scepticism
most often expresses itself by questioning whether the true
nature of things does not lie beyond the possibility of
knowledge. Such is the theory which we all spontaneously
form. It may be that a consideration of the problem of
change and becoming will compe A us greatly to modify our
doctrine of things ; but for the present we allow that things
exist in the common meaning of the word, and ask how we
are to think of their nature or true essence. What is the
general form which our thought of a thing's nature must
take on ?

An answer results directly from the conclusions of the
previous chapter. We there found that activity is the
fundamental mark of all being. Whatever truly exists,
whether matter or spirit, must be viewed as essentially
active, and as differing, therefore, only in the form or
kind of activity. The so-called passive properties of things
all turn out, upon analysis, to depend on a dynamism be-
neath them, and leave us only an agent in action. But, in
order that being should be definite, this activity must have
a definite form or law. Activity in general, like being in
general, is impossible. It is merely the logical notion,
from which the specific determinations which belong to
every real activity have been dropped. Now this rule or
law which determines the form and sequence of a thing's
activities, represents to our thought the nature of the

w^ / -flying, r expresses its true essence. It is in this law that

ff l
* *kis general form of a law determining the form and se-

the definiteness of a thing is to be found; and it is under

quence of activity that we must think of the nature of the
' fe thing.

* ^r^" But when we say that things differ only in the form or
p V .kind of activity we are not to conclude that they all have


a common being, for this would be a return to the notion
of pure being. "We are incessantly tempted to think of a
kind of raw material, which, by receiving different determi-
nations, becomes different things, and we must guard our-
selves against the seduction. Things exist only in their
activities, and have no being apart from them. They are, in
brief, concreted formulas of action. But this conclusion is
so remote from our ordinary modes of thinking that we
must, by a criticism of other conceptions, show that we are
shut up to it.

The first thought of common-sense in this matter is to
find the nature of things in their sense-qualities. Accord-
ingly, when we ask what a thing is in itself, common-sense
enumerates its sense - qualities. Vinegar is sour, aloes are
bitter, sugar is sweet. But a moment's reflection shows the
invalidity of this crude conception. To begin with, it ap-
plies only to sense-objects, while the notion of a nature ap-
plies to all being. In the next place, sense-qualities never
reveal what a thing is, but only how it affects us ; and now
we know that sense-qualities are purely phenomenal, and
have no likeness to anything in the thing. There is neither
hardness in the hard, nor sweetness in the sweet ; but cer-
tain things, by their action on us, produce in us the sensa-
tions of hardness or sweetness. Again, things are in mani-
fold interaction with one another ; and this interaction, also,
is an expression of their nature. This fact renders it strict-
ly impossible to find the nature of things in their sense-
qualities, or to tell what things are by enumerating their
sense-qualities. Things have much more to do than to ap-
pear to us.

MoreoVer, even crude common-sense finds reason in ex-
perience for changing its views. The same thing is found
to have different sense - qualities. The vinegar, which is
sour, is also colored, fluid, heavy, etc. But these qualities


are incommensurable among themselves ; so that, if one is
supposed to reveal the nature, the others do not, unless we
suppose that a thing has as many different natures as it has
sense-qualities. In that case, a thing with various qualities
would not be a unit, but a complex of things. But this
supposition so clearly destroys the unity of the thing that
it has never been held by common-sense. Thus the attempt
to find the nature of a thing in its sense-qualities shatters
on its inner contradiction. If the assumption of a thing
distinct from a complex of phenomena is to be maintained,
the nature of that thing cannot be found in any or all of
its sense-qualities.

This fact led speculators, at a very early date, to adopt
another view, according to which the thing retreats behind
the qualities, as their support, and the qualities appear as
states of the thing. The essence is no longer revealed in
the qualities, but is their hidden and mysterious ground.
The thing is no longer colored, extended, etc., but is the
unreachable and unsearchable essence which appears as
such. Thus we are on the highway to agnosticism and
scepticism. The thing in itself has retreated from sight,
and reports its existence in manifestations which, after all,
do not manifest. And, since the manifestations are all that
is immediately given, there seems to be no longer any
ground for affirming that dark essence which can never be
reached. This notion of a thing with various and changing
states is the foundation of most of our spontaneous meta-
physics, and of very many of our philosophical puzzles.
Like the notion of inactive being with inherent forces, it is
an attempt to solve some of the most important problems
of metaphysics. The value of the solution will come up
for future discussion. The notion is of interest, as showing
that the human mind has recognized the problem and has
attempted a solution.


Two views have resulted from the need of putting being
back of its apparent qualities, instead of finding it in them.
The first is, that being, in itself, is without quality of any
sort ; the second is, that being has qualities, but what they
are is entirely unknown. The first view is our old friend,

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