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mental is properly the only thing fully intelUgible to us, for in it
we have not only a knowledge of outward circumstances and rela-
tions [cognitio circa rem), but a knowledge also of the thing itself
{cogjjitio rei).

But even supposing all this to be true, it is not to the point. F6r
if it be granted that everything is mental, and that nothing exists
except thoughts and ideas, there still remains a distinction between
ideas of material movement and ideas of phenomena of conscious-
ness ; and thus again arises the problem how these different sets of
ideas, which have arisen in accordance with experience, are to be
combined. In other words, the empirical problem is independent
of the metaphysical. We do not here examine whether mind or
matter is the most fundamental ; we inquire in what way mental
and material phenomena are connected in that experience, which
every system of metaphysics consciously or unconsciously- pre-

Hermann Lotze, the most distinguished representative of spirit-


ualism in modern philosophy, has with great clearness emphasized
the distinction between phenomenological (or occasionalistic, as he
called it in his earlier writings) and metaphysical investigation.
He did not, however, hold fast by this distinction, but on the
contrary put it arbitrarily aside.

Lotze is one of the writers who in modern times have with the
greatest energy defended the mechanical conception of organic
phenomena, and have upheld the claims of the notion of mechanism
to dominate our entire explanation of nature. It is the more note-
worthy, that he struggles against the admission of the full consequence
of the doctrine of the conservation of energy. " Physicists," he says
in une of his earlier works {AUg. Physiol, p. 461) "appear to be
convinced that every spatial-temporal movement of masses can be
neutralised only by another similar and contrary movement, and
hence has arisen the problem, to trace every movement, when once
it has been started, through all changes of forms, to its final pas-
sage out of the organism into the external world, or to the point
where it is destroyed by a contrary movement. I am not fully con-
vinced of the perfect correctness of this fundamental doctrine ;
I know of no convincing reason supplied by the principles of
natural philosophy, wherewith to confront the possibility that
spatial movements may be absorbed by passing into intensive states
of the real." The point at which this passage from the spatial to the
non-spatial world takes place is that at which, according to a later
utterance {Mikrokosmus, 2nd ed. i. p. 326, Eng. trans, i. p. 290) we
must look for the seat of the mind. In his later work {Three Books
of Metaphysics), the last gift permitted to us from this able in-
quirer, he speaks more precisely as to his position with regard to
the law of the persistence of energy. He lays emphasis on the fact
that in itself this law expresses only an equivalence of the manifesta-
tions of force, promises only a certain compensation for energy
that ceases to act, and says nothing as to what kind of energy this
is. He thinks, therefore, it is not impossible to apply the law to a
case in which a mental energy takes the place of a physical, or con-
versely. Phenomenologically, he thus places himself at the stand-
point of the natural interaction, and in so far as he does so, his
theory falls to the ground through the objections already urged
against this doctrine. (See pp. 55-59) But he does not remain at the
phenomenological standpoint. The distinction between spiritual and
material phenomena is for him only the starting-point ; the spiritual
— as he tries to prove by metaphysical arguments— is the only reality ;


material phenomena are merely manifestations of the interaction of
spiritual elements ; and a transition from that spiritual essence
which forms the foundation of material phenomena, to that spiritual
essence which reveals itself in the phenomena of consciousness,
offers no theoretical difficulties ; the difterence in kind, the want of
a common measure, is got over by metaphysical reflection. Lotze's
theory, like the Cartesian, is a doctrine of interaction, but supposes
an interaction between spiritual substances ; not, as with Decartes,
between a spiritual and a material substance.

It is not easy to understand why at this point Lotze calls meta-
physics to his aid if in the principle of the conservation of energy
there is no obstacle to the doctrine of interaction. Here is an evident
inconsistency in Lotze's theory, an inconsistency due to over-hasty
interest in the defence of an idealistic conception of the universe.
It is quite possible to agree with Lotze in his fundamental meta-
physical thought, according to which the material is in its inner-
most essence of the same nature as that which stirs in our
consciousness, without agreeing with him in his application of this
fundamental thought to the theory of the relation between mind
and body. That fundamental thought has so profound a
philosophical significance that it may well be maintained without
necessarily prejudicing the leading conceptions of experiential

{d) Only the fourth possibility, then seems to be left. If it is
contrary to the doctrine of the conservation of physical energy to
suppose a transition from the one province to the other, and if, never-
theless, the two provinces exist in our experience as distinct, then
the two sets of phenomena must be unfolded simultaneously, each
according to its laws ; so that for every phenomenon in the world of
consciousness there is a corresponding phenomenon in the world of
matter, and conversely (so far as there is reason to suppose that
conscious life is correlated with material phenomena). The parallels
already drawn point directly to such a relation ; it would be an amaz-
ing accident, if, while the characteristic marks repeated themselves
in this way, there were not at the foundation an inner connection.
Both \.\iG parallelism and \\ift proportionality between the activity of
consciousness and cerebral activity point to an identity at bottom.
The difference which remains in spite of the points of agreement,
compels us to suppose that one and the same principle has found
its expression in a double form. \Vc have no right to take mind
and body for two beings or substances in reciprocal interaction. We


are, on the contrary, impelled to conceive i/ie material interaction
between the elements composing the brain and nervous system, as
an outer form of the inner ideal ujiity of consciousness. What
we in our inner experience become conscious of as thought, feeling
and resolution, is thus represented in the material world by certain
material processes of the brain, which as such are subject to the
law of the conservation of energy, ahhough this law cannot be
applied to the relation between cerebral and conscious processes.
It is as though the same thing were said in two languages.

E.\perience alone can determine whether the two forms are
co-extensive. We have already touched on the difficulty of finding
the lower limit of consciousness ; the next chapter will afford us an
opportunity of taking up the question again. On the other hand,
there are still some who hold that the noblest manifestations of
mind are not linked to material processes. That sensuous per-
ception, and so-called physical pleasure and pain, are linked with
certain nervous processes, no one will dispute ; it is only for higher
phenomena of consciousness that it is thought necessary to adopt
a completely new principle. But even the general account
of consciousness already given, suffices to show the impossibility
of drawing a boundary line between a lower and a higher.
The same type prevails from the simplest to the highest forms.
Far as the ideal world of thoughts and feelings appears exalted
above the series of single, momentary sensations, it is yet the
same principle which prevails in both ; only the degree of develop-
ment is different, not the plan of the structure or the material.
The subsequent special psychological inquiries will bring this
/ out more clearly.

As sharp limits cannot be drawn between a lower (sensuous) and
a higher (spiritual) content, each with its own conditions of
existence, so it is not permissible to regard the matter or content of
consciousness as bound up with physical processes, while the
formative and elaborating mental activity is supposed to have no
physical parallels. While the individual sensations, in the opinion
even of the strictest spiritualists, are connected with physiological
processes, many think it is impossible to believe this of the activity
whereby sensations are compared and judged. But, as will sub-
sequently be shown, it is not possible to preserve a hard and
fast line between what is given and its working up, between an
absolute content and the relations which arise between the con-
stituents of this content. Even in the simplest percept, at the



very threshold of consciousness, we find the result of a mental
activity, a combining of elements into unity, a synthesis. An
absolutely simple state would not be conscious. At no point, then,
can matter and form be separated. The physiological connection
and interaction between the extraordinarily numerous brain-centres
afford, moreover, ample ground for the belief that not only the
mental elements, but also their combinations, have their physical

In the mental as in the material world, we hold fast to the law
of continuity. The identity hypothesis regards these worlds as two
manifestations of one and the same being, both given in experience.
The two languages, in which the same thought is here expressed,
we are not able to trace back to a common original language.
Moreover, so long as we keep strictly to experience, the one
province is presented to us as a fragment, while the other ex-
tends to infinity in uninterrupted sequence. The doctrine of the
conservation of energy makes the material world into a totality,
which we indeed can never measure, but in which the fate of the
individual forms and elements can be traced. The mental world
has no corresponding law to exhibit. Mental elements come and
go in experience, without our being able to point to an equivalent,
which in the first instance would be used up, in the last would
serve as compensation. The fact that mental states cannot be
measured like physical energies and chemical substances, is in
itself sufficient to frustrate the hope of our finding a mental
parallel to the doctrine of the conservation of force. But in addition
to this, even the fundamental conception of a mental existence
puts difficulties in the way. Material existences can pass one into
another, so that the energy lost in the one is preserved in the
other. The doctrine of the conservation of energy shows us the
unity and eternity of nature during the coming and going
of all material beings. But mental existence, as has been seen,
has for its fundamental form, memory, synthesis; and synthesis
presupposes individuality. The material world shows us no real
individualities ; these are first known to the psychological stand-
point, from which inner centres of memory, action, and endurance
are discovered. If now we conceived of the individual mental
elements (sensations, thoughts, feelings, etc.) as capable of being
transposed to other combinations, like chemical atoms, it would
follow that they might have an existence apart from a definite
individual consciousness, a supposition which our account of con-


sciousness shows to be absurd. Sensations, thoughts and feelings
are mental activities, which cannot persist when the definite in-
dividual connection, in which they occur, has come to an end. They
correspond to the organic functions, but not to the chemical elements.
If the organism is resolved into its elements, organic function is
impossible. The mental individuality has its physical expression
in the sum of energy which the organism, in the germ and through-
out its development, has at its disposal, and in the organic
(especially the nervous) form in which this energy is applied.

The theory to which we are here led is not a complete solution
of the problem of the relation between mind and body. It is only
an empirical formula, an indication of the manner in which the
relation presents itself provisionally, when, following the hint of
experience, we take heed of the close connection between the
mental and the material and the impossibility of a reduction of
the one to the other, together with the difficulties attending the
notion of a transition from the one to the other. Concerning the
inner relation between mind and matter, we teach nothing ; we
suppose only that <7;/^ being works in both. But what kind of being
is this ? Why has it a double form of manifestation, why does not
one form suffice ? These are questions which lie beyond the realm
of our knowledge. Mind and matter appear to us as an irreducible
duality, just as subject and object. We therefore postpone the
consideration of the question. And this is not only justifiable but
even necessary, since it is evident that the question lies in reality
far deeper than is usually supposed.

It would be a misinterpretation of the identity-hypothesis to
explain it as if it regarded the material as that which really
exists, and the mental as a superfluous addition. The hypothesis,
as here given, does not enter into the question whether mind or
matter is the fundamental part of existence. It pronounces only
that the same power which lives, expands, and takes form in
the outer world of the material, also discloses itself in its inner
world as thinking, feeling and willing. In asking after the inner
connection between the physical and the mental worlds, we stand
at the limit of our knowledge, and as yet no conception whatever
has answered the question of the place of the mental life in
the scheme of things, except by a teleological postulate, which
it is not the business of psychology to investigate. So much
only is certain, that if we are right in admitting this duality,
there must be a reason for it. This is not the only instance

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in our experience, where we are obliged to accept a connection as
given in fact, without being able to establish its necessity.

The empirical formula, with which we here end, does not
exclude a more comprehensive metaphysical hypothesis. The
fundamental notion of idealism, that the mental stands closest
to the innermost essence of existence, may be very well com-
bined with the empirical acceptance of the identity-hypothesis.
As empirical formula, this says nothing as to the question
whether the two forms of being are absolute or possess validity
apart from the human point of view. Spinoza's doctrine that
mind and matter are two equally eternal and infinite attributes
of the absolute substance, was an over-hasty metaphysics. The
absolute substance is not known by us, and we cannot therefore
know whether mind and matter are equally essential to it. On
the contrary, the theory of knowledge leads us to regard the
phenomena of consciousness as the most fundamental facts in our
experience, since, looked at logically, the subjective point of view
is deeper than the objective. From this point of view the most
natural conception is that which regards the mental life as the
essential, and the corresponding cerebral activity as the form in
which it is manifested to sensuous intuition. All the same, we have
no right to maintain with monistic spiritualism, that spiritual
existence expresses the innermost essence of being. There may be
infinitely more forms of existence than the two which alone we know,
and which, because they are the only two known to us, we are
disposed to regard as the only forms possible.

It may therefore easily lead to misunderstandings, to describe
the identity-hypothesis as " new Spinozism." It is, indeed, con-
nected with Spinoza's name ; it is to him that the honour is due of
having first propounded the theory, and so advanced beyond the
conflicting materialistic and spiritualistic theories. To this he
was impelled by three different motives. In the first place, he
wished to remove all imperfect notions from the idea of the
infinite essence ; nothing besides this was to exist, nothing that
was not penetrated by it ; matter, therefore, could not be an
external limit, but must be a special form of its manifestation.
But besides this rcligio-philosophical or metaphysical motive, his
conviction of the uninterrupted connection of the physical causal
series also influenced him. If mental activity cannot interfere
with this causal series, nothing remains but to suppose that the
mental and material activities do not take the place of one another,


but are carried on simultaneously {si'mul naiiira), especially as they
cannot be reduced to a common measure. Spinoza anticipated
the victorious march of the mechanical conception of nature ;
perceived that Galileo and Descartes had laid down principles
under which the whole of material nature would have to be
arranged. Finally, Spinoza based his theory on empirical grounds.
Although for him as a speculative philosopher the question was
doubtless settled on the two a />nori grounds, still he thought that
people "would scarcely consider the question calmly" if he did
not adduce proofs from experience. He pointed, then, partly to
the purposive way in which the body can act, even when
consciousness is not present, as in instinctive movements and
somnambulant states, partly to the proportionality between states
of the mind and of the body, partly to the analogy between the
psychological and the organic systems.^

The theory propounded by Spinoza has, under different forms,
held its place in philosophy ever since his time. Leibniz main-
tained with Spinoza, that thoughts are to be explained by thoughts,
movements by movements ; only, on the basis of this parallelism,
he undertook a more far-reaching reduction in the idealistic
direction. Kant hinted at the identity-hypothesis in the first
edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, although in the second
edition he altered his earlier, more consistent conception in this
as in other respects.- After the time of Kant it is found with
more or less clearness and consistency in the speculative direction
(Schelling, Hegel) as well as in the critical-empirical (Fries,
Beneke). In Danish literature it makes its appearance with
Treschow and F. C. Sibbcrn. And it is found in a whole series
of philosophers and students of nature of the present day. More
particularly Fechner must be mentioned, as the first •' who based
the theory of the relation between the mental and the material
on consequences deduced from the principle of the conservation of

Here this hypothesis interests us as the most natural determina-
tion of the relation between physiology and psychology. These
two sciences deal with the same matter seen from two different
sides, and there can no more be dispute between tliem, than

1 C/. my book, Spinosa's Liv. og Liire ("Spinoza's Life and Teaching "), (Copen-
hagen, 1877), pp. 89-iixi.

- Cf. Kriiik dcr rcinctt I'cntiinft (Kehrbach's Ausgabe), pp. 206, 320, and 340,
with p. 699. Cf. V'aihiiiger in Strassburgcr rhitosophisihe Stiiiiicn, p. 151 so].

3 EUmente dcr Psychophysik, 7860.


between the observer of the convex and the observer of the
concave side of a curve (to make use of a simile employed by
Fechner). Every phenomenon of consciousness gives occasion
for a twofold inquiry. Now the psychical, now the physical,
side of the phenomenon is most accessible to us ; but this does
not affect the principle of the relation of the two sides to one


In the preceding account of mental life, stress has been
laid on two chief distinguishing traits — on the occurrence of a
change, through which new elements of consciousness emerge,
and on the connection between all elements of consciousness.
If this account is correct, then consciousness may cease from
two causes : either because the individual elements do not possess
strength enough to make themselves felt, or because the connec-
tion between them ceases.

So long as we adhere strictly to the principle that the mind is
known only through the manifestations of consciousness, the
province of mental life is not widely extended. Nerve-processes
are not all of the kind which we have reason to think accompanied
by consciousness, and even those with which this is the case
may be carried on without consciousness, if their intensity is not
sufficiently great.

Thus a physical stimulus may take effect on the nervous system
without a sensation arising ; the sensation arises only when the
stimulus has reached a certain strength. The nerve-process, on
the other hand, must begin at lower degrees of stimulation, and
has thus already reached a certain strength when the sensation
crosses the threshold of consciousness. Let x, for example,
denote the degree of strength of a nerve-process, which is just
strong enough for a scarcely preceptible sensation, which we will
call y, to correspond to it. We then have a peculiar relation :
while the degrees of strength on the physical side continuously
decrease from x downwards, the psychical side remains empty,
stops suddenly at y. This is how the relation presents itself,


whatever fundamental conception as to the relation between the
mental and material we start from. It is the same with combina-
tion as with degree of strength ; for there is only a difference of
degree between the structure and mode of action of the lower
and the structure and mode of action of the higher cells. Now
is it probable that at a certain stage of the scale a something should
arise which did not exist at all at the lower stages ? If the series
in the one sphere is continuous, must it not be supposed to be
so in the other.'' We have no right to assume that there are
chinks or gaps anywhere in nature ; at any rate the advances of
knowledge principally consist in the filling up and connecting of
interstices and clefts.

The question before us is, whether the unconscious can be other
than a purely negative conception. In daily speech (and, more
than is proper, even in the scientific use of language) we use
such expressions as unconscious sensations, unconscious ideas,
unconscious feelings. As, however, sensations, ideas, and feelings
are elements of consciousness, the expression ^s in reality absurd.
If by an unconscious idea is meant an idea which I have, then the
predicate " unconscious " signifies only, that I do not think of or
pay heed to the fact that I have it. This use of the word uncon-
sciousness is connected with a twofold use of the word conscious-
ness. It is used to denote not only the inner presentation of
our sensations, ideas, and feelings, but also self-consciousness,
the attention expressly directed to our sensations, ideas, and
feelings. We have, of course, many sensations and ideas without
being conscious that we have them ; many feelings and impulses
stir within us, without our clearly apprehending their nature and
direction. In this sense we can speak, for example, of unconscious
love ; a man who has this feeling does not know what is astir in
him ; perhaps others see it, or he himself gradually discovers it ;
but he has the feeling, his conscious life is determined in a
particular way.

In desiring to examine here, however, the relation between the
conscious and the unconscious, we imderstand by unconsciousness
a state which lies below the threshold of our consciousness in
general (not merely of our self-consciousness). We wish to ex-
amine whether it may not be shown that the unconscious is related
to the conscious, and the difference on the psychical as well as on
the physical side consequently one of degree only. But for the
present we take it as a purely negative conception. It is not the


intention to follow Edward v. Hartmann in the mystical paths which
he believes he has opened up in his Philosophic dcs Unbewjisstcn
(" Philosophy of the Unconscious "). Hartmann not only without
more ado makes the unconscious into a positive conception, but
also uses it as an explanatory principle wherever he thinks that the

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